Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Democratic Committee 101

By Sarah Posegate

Super bummed about the AHCA passing? Crossing your fingers that Democrats might gain a majority in 2018 and boot #45 out of office? Read on dear friends...you can help!

It’s no secret that the Democratic party has been failing its members for years. Despite a majority of Americans who agree with the Democratic platform, Republicans keep winning. Though the Democratic candidate got more votes we have lost the White House twice in the last 16 years (Hillary Clinton & Al Gore). While many of us are upset that the DNC did not support Bernie the way they should have, their unsupportiveness for progressive candidates was also seen with Howard Dean back in 2004. This has got to change!

After the Women’s March, Michael Moore put out a list of 10 things to do to take down Trump. Number six was to take over the Democratic Party: “...locally, you need to start attending your county Democratic meetings. If possible, organize your friends and others and take over your local Dem organization.” Number Eight, “Run for Office,” calls on us all to run for “Precinct Delegate” which is an elected role in the Democratic Party.

So I dove right in and attended my Ward Democratic Committee meeting shortly after the inauguration. The Chair of the Committee had suddenly stepped down, leaving a reluctant Vice-Chair to pick up the pieces. The committee had been meeting every other month (in a loud, distracting bar) with just a handful of members and though all of them are committed, experienced activists they clearly were in need of some fresh faces, new energy, and help. I was one of several new folks to attend that night and there were lots of questions about process and purpose. The group was floundering from the leadership change and they were not ready to welcome new eager members with a platform or protocol.

I’ve lived in the same Ward for nearly 20 years and never remember being asked to participate nor seen a presence in my neighborhood through tabling or signs. Yet I appreciate my neighbors for doing the work and learning the process before it was “cool.” Now, lots of groups have formed in response to the emergency situation that is the Trump administration. Why reinvent the wheel when we can build on the knowledge, experience and a structure of the Democratic Committee that is already in place?

With the new members’ enthusiasm, my committee met again just a month later and seated new members, bringing our committee to nearly 20 strong (being “seated” means you are officially voted in and are then allowed to vote on motions, etc.). The next month we elected a new slate of officers and I am now the Secretary for the group. At that meeting we also finally clarified how to “get on the county committee” and become a “Precinct Delegate” that allows you to vote on endorsements for candidates and other business of the County Democratic Committee. Yes, there are two committees and it does get confusing.

Here’s what you need to know:
--Register Democratic if you aren’t already. You won’t be able to officially join your local committee until you have this affiliation.
--Figure out which Ward or Town you live in and when and where your Committee meets. This is no small task since their local online presence isn’t stellar.
--Attend a meeting of your Ward/Town Committee and introduce yourself and ask to be “seated.”
--Ask if there are any “open seats” on the County Committee that you could fill for your Town/Ward. Each Town/Ward is divided into several election districts (sometimes called a voting district) and each election district gets a few delegates to the County Committee, based on population. My Ward, 2, has four election districts and gets 15 delegates to the county.
--“Run” to be elected as a delegate to the County Committee for your Election District.

For years in my Ward, many of these delegate positions were not filled at all. My committee is very excited to finally have enough members to fill our 15 delegate spots to the County Committee. We will all run unopposed but I suppose if some day in the future our committee grows we could have actual elections for these positions.

To run, even unopposed, you must carry a petition for yourself to get on the ballot. So, I will be doing this in June while I also carry petitions door to door for the Democratic Alderman and County Legislator who represent me.

Image result for tompkins county democratic committeeI’m sure you are thinking “Wow, that sounds like a lot of boring meetings and not much impact on things.” In some regards, this feels like the truth. But, it has been an exciting, energizing endeavor. I’ve met some interesting neighbors who want to change the Democratic party from the ground up. These meetings are a chance to know my County Legislator and Aldermen and for them to share issues of my city and county. Very soon all these meetings will culminate in knocking on doors to get signatures and to promote Democratic candidates.

One of our first goals as a committee is to recruit some younger members. In a recent interview, Howard Dean said that today’s politics are not going to change significantly until the Millennials get actively involved. They are our future and we need their vision and they need our experience. So, we will be reaching out to the Cornell Democrats and other young folks in our Ward to get them involved.

We especially need the younger generation to help with using social media to advance the Democratic agenda, which is another goal for the Ward 2 Dems. Our new Committee Chair, Susie Monagan, is committed to using Social Media to connect with others in our Ward. We also want to push our County Committee to get on board with technology and social media to support our county and state candidates and to get things done more quickly. While the Republicans may have a platform that seems as if it came from the 1950’s they are firmly in the 21st Century when it comes to running campaigns. We need to use social media to make it incredibly easy for people to get involved and know what we are doing.

Another on our short list of priorities is to recruit more people of color. This is to make our committee reflect the demographics of our Ward, but also has the larger goal of helping the DNC to understand and represent every community in the district. We will be attending events at the Southside Community Center to connect with our neighbors of color. We need them and want to be sure that all communities have a voice on the Ward and County Committees.

Our committee will also be registering voters, working to get out the vote and hopefully participating in the Knock Every Door campaign in Ward 2.

Sometimes I wonder if doing this work in my little Ward is going to be enough. My hope is that there are others like me in every town and city in this country doing these same things in their own area and that together we will achieve significant change. It is easy to sit back and say “Ugh, the Democratic party needs to increase their diversity, get with 21st Century technology and embrace more progressive values...what is wrong with them?” If you want to see these things change, roll up your sleeves and join your local committee or at the very least volunteer to help.


~ Sarah Posegate lives in Ithaca, NY with her husband, Russell, and three children. She enjoys a well placed expletive, satirical news shows, and knitting.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Same Old Pre-existing Lies

I'm disgusted. They just don't seem to get it, do they? Health care is a human right. No one should have to hold a chicken BBQ to raise money for to pay for hospital bills for their child dying of cancer. This new so-called Republican health care Bill will force more people to have to do just that.

I've already written about the massive hypocrisy of these Republicans rushing their Bill through in mere days and about their efforts to sever women's access to all abortion care, but we've reached new levels of low today. And yes, no big surprise, Tom Reed is right on board.

The CBPP notes that this Bill will take us backward in time. They say, "Just like before the ACA, insurers could discriminate based on medical history, eliminate coverage for key health services, and impose annual and lifetime limits on benefits..." Before the ACA, insurance companies could pick and choose who they wanted to insure based on their own criteria.

If we go back to that, it means if you have a pre-existing condition, a condition you had before you purchased health insurance, then the insurance companies can choose to deny you coverage, if they want, on a whim. Because to them, you're just a $. To you of course, it's your life, or the life of your husband or child or grandmother.

So what are some pre-existing conditions which can cause you to be denied coverage?

Additionally, let this soak in... If you are PREGNANT, you can be denied coverage. You might be just too risky/expensive/problematic a case for them to want to pay your bill.

I didn't even bother to research if birth control is covered. I'm pretty sure I know the answer.

I feel like vomiting. I feel like swearing. Instead, I stopped in at Tom Reed's office today, joining the good people of Planned Parenthood and many other citizens, to share our perspective about this horrible new health care plan in general, and the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood in particular.

Reed's staffer listened, though he didn't take many notes. His eyes seemed to glaze over a bit as people spoke, but he seemed to attempt to listen. He didn't have any answers, other than Reed supports this new bill, and really doesn't want to see any money go to any organization that has anything to do with abortions. It's just the same old pre-existing lies and hypocrisy he and the rest of the GOP spew out daily.

Considering that women are really the only ones who get pregnant, or have a C-section, or suffer postpartum depression, and are the primary victims of domestic violence and rape, it seems to me that this health care bill is just one more way for the white men of Washington to take out their anger and aggression on women, particularly low-income or uninsured or uneducated women.

They don't want abortions to happen, yet they don't support women having control over their sexual choices and family planning. They don't even want to support women who choose to have a pregnancy, intended or not! Less birth control means more unintended pregnancies. Why do these men hate women so much? Why do they want to keep us powerless and quiet and suffering? Why do they feel it is their right to decide what women do with and how they care for their bodies?

What is wrong with them?

Monday, May 1, 2017

This Week in the House - May 1

Image result for house of representatives

Every Saturday, the Majority Leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy, whose slogan is "A new day for American Conservatism," posts the schedule of Bills and Resolutions that the House will consider in the following week.

Monday, May 1:
1) H.R. 910 – Fair Access to Investment Research Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. French Hill / Financial Services Committee)

2) H.R. 1312 – Small Business Capital Formation Enhancement Act (Sponsored by Rep. Bruce Poliquin / Financial Services Committee)

3) H.R. 1366 – U.S. Territories Investor Protection Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Nydia Velázquez / Financial Services Committee)

4) H.R. 657 – Follow the Rules Act (Sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

5) H.R. 1242 – 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

6) H.R. 1644 – Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce / Foreign Affairs Committee)

Tuesday-Friday, May 2-5:
1) H.R. 1665 – Disaster Declaration Improvement Act (Sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

2) H.R. 1679 – FEMA Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Garret Graves / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

3) H.R. 1678 – To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act concerning the statute of limitations for actions to recover disaster or emergency assistance payments, and for other purposes, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lois Frankel / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

H.R. 1180 – Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017, as amended (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Martha Roby / Education and the Workforce Committee)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Who Will Run Against Reed?

Something we all have been wanting and waiting to figure out is who will challenge Tom Reed in 2018. Whoever the candidate is, s/he needs to begin raising funds now with the goal of getting as many small donors on board as possible. Big donors and PACs are great, but every small donation from a person in the 23rd is also a likely vote. These are the people we need to reach out to.

Reed's campaign is already well underway, having raised around $585,000. However, Reed's money is primarily NOT from small donors/local voters. The Ithaca Times did the math and discovered:

Tom Reed Fundraising Email"After a review of the latest FEC data on Monday, The Ithaca Times calculated from the reported $565,000 in receipts listed that the average donation this quarter was approximately $1,755 across a total of 324 various donors. Of those, 23 political action committees gave the maximum permissible quarterly contribution amount of $5,000 to his campaign, while more than 50 individuals gave the individual limit of $2,700 to the campaign. 43 donations totaled less than $1,000 and just one – from a Jamestown attorney – came in at less than $100."

Democrats and progressives of the 23rd are ready to get to work. The following message was sent to members of the region's Democratic Party Committees. If you are interested in stepping up, contact the chair of your County's Committee. Time to get the ball rolling.

"Hornell, NY - Democratic Party leaders from the eleven counties of New York’s 23rd congressional district held a preliminary meeting last week that included hearing from potential candidates expressing interest in running for Congress as Democrats in 2018. The meeting reinforced the unprecedented resolve demonstrated by the Democratic Party and newly formed progressive activist groups to remove Congressman Tom Reed from elected office, and to replace him with a leader who will work for the working people of the district.

Image result for democrats donkeySteuben County Chairman Shawn Hogan remarked, “The Chairs, Co-Chairs and State Committee representatives who attended said that they are in it to win it. We share the same goals as the activist groups, and we are aggressively reviewing all potential candidates.”

The 2016 election inspired a groundswell of citizen action to hold Congressman Reed accountable for his votes in Washington. While Reed claims that his election to office is a mandate for an extreme right-wing agenda, activist groups such as Citizens for a Better Southern Tier, Indivisible 23, NYPAN and Tompkins County Progressives are challenging that assumption as they give voice to under-represented constituent views. Democratic Party leaders expect that this progressive fervor will produce a field of competitive potential Congressional candidates with broad appeal to NY23 voters.

Chemung County Chairman Jim Carr described his Committee’s work to align with the recently formed groups, emphasizing that, “There are just so many people out there looking to learn what they can do.” Tompkins Chair Irene Stein also reported work being done in her area to coordinate activities of the Democratic Party and activist groups.

The solidarity between issues-oriented groups and election-focused groups is plain to see, as both groups express a goal of unseating Tom Reed. “It’s only right that our Congressman should represent all of us, but Tom Reed has shown time and again he works for special interests rather than for the people. It’s past time for a change,” said Cattaraugus County chairwoman Joyce Melfi-Cwiklinski.

Anyone interested in the office should call Tompkins County Chair Irene Stein at 266-7579. The Tompkins County Democratic Committee plans to hold an endorsement meeting when candidates have had time to declare their intentions. This will be a meeting open to all registered Tompkins County Democrats."

Monday, April 24, 2017

This Week in the House - April 24

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Every Saturday, the Majority Leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy, whose slogan is "A new day for American Conservatism," posts the schedule of Bills and Resolutions that the House will consider in the following week.

Tuesday, April 25:
1) H.Con.Res. 35 – Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the National Peace Officers Memorial Service and the National Honor Guard and Pipe Band Exhibition (Sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

2) H.Con.Res. 36 – Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby (Sponsored by Rep. Steny Hoyer / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

3) H.R. 455 – To designate the United States courthouse located at 501 East Court Street in Jackson, Mississippi, as the “R. Jess Brown United States Courthouse” (Sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

4) S. 496 – To repeal the rule issued by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration entitled “Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordination and Planning Area Reform” (Sponsored by Sen. Tammy Duckworth / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

5) H.R. 876 – Aviation Employee Screening and Security Enhancement Act of 2017, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. John Katko / Homeland Security Committee)

6) H.R. 1372 – Homeland Security for Children Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Donald Payne / Homeland Security Committee)

7) H.R. 534 – U.S. Wants to Compete for a World Expo Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Emmer / Foreign Affairs Committee)

8) H.Res. 187 – Relating to efforts to respond to the famine in South Sudan, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass / Foreign Affairs Committee)

Wednesday, April 25:
H.R. 1695 – Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte / Judiciary Committee)

Thursday and Friday, April 26 and 27:
H.R. 1694 – Fannie and Freddie Open Records Act of 2017, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)