November 12, 2017
Gerymandering: The Supreme Court Looks at Wisconsin
Guest post by Rosemary Young
One of the most time-honored and criticized traditions in American politics is for the party in power to draw legislative districts in ways that help keep them in power. The U.S. Supreme Court, though, may soon outlaw at least the most blatant partisan gerrymandering.
On Oct. 3, 2017 the nation’s highest court heard oral arguments in a case challenging Wisconsin’s state legislative districts. Plaintiffs complain that the map unfairly protects Republican lawmakers from partisan competition. A lower court agreed with that argument last November.
“This could be a huge case if the justices strike down Wisconsin’s partisan gerrymander,” says Joshua Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky. “That will show that there are some limits to partisan gerrymandering.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against racial gerrymandering repeatedly — but never against partisan gerrymandering. That “has made politicians think there are no boundaries around what they can do,” says Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, which filed an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case.
The last time the Supreme Court heard a partisan gerrymandering case, in 2004’s Vieth v. Jubelirer, the justices were divided. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that there could be such a thing as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander — but only if the courts had a “workable standard” for determining when partisans had crossed that line.
The Wisconsin case, known as Whitford v. Gill, represents an attempt to come up with such a standard.
To prove their argument that partisan gerrymandering in the state exceeded what’s constitutional, the plaintiffs used a new political science measurement known as the efficiency gap, which looks at how votes translate into victories. According to this argument, all votes cast for a losing candidate and any votes for the winner beyond what was needed to win are considered “wasted.” If too many districts have lopsided outcomes (where the party that drew the map “wasted” significantly fewer votes), the argument goes, that shows that the party that drew the map sought to game the system, creating districts that are totally safe for one party or the other and diluting its strength in neighboring districts.
Plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case used the efficiency gap to show that Wisconsin’s Assembly map — as measured by results in the 2012 elections — was roughly three times more inefficient than the average legislature’s. Democrats actually won a majority of the overall vote in Wisconsin’s legislative contests in 2012 but came away with only 39 of the Assembly’s 99 seats.
“Basically, it didn’t matter what we did in an election,” says Sachin Chheda, a Democratic consultant in Milwaukee who directs the Fair Elections Project, which organized and launched the Whitford lawsuit. “We could get more votes, but there was no path to a majority in the legislature.”
That’s because regardless of how the total vote breaks out, what matters is winning by district, says Matt Walter, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, which helps elect GOP state officials nationwide.
“The redistricting process in and of itself is inherently political and was designed as such at the founding,” Walter says. “It was designed to have accountable elected officials take the actions of adjusting districts based on population growth.”
For their part, Wisconsin Republicans have maintained that they didn’t draw the maps to punish Democrats. Rather, they note that most Democrats are clustered in Milwaukee or Madison, while Republican voters are spread out more evenly around the state.
Although the issue is almost always divided along partisan lines (depending on which party is in power), there’s growing bipartisan support for putting a stop to partisan gerrymandering. A handful of prominent Republicans — including Ohio Gov. John Kasich, U.S. Sen. John McCain and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — urged the Supreme Court to use the Wisconsin case to establish a standard for measuring partisan gerrymanders.
“The Supreme Court has said before that partisan gerrymandering can be unconstitutional, but basically it doesn’t know how to tell when a plan goes too far,” says Annabelle Harless, an attorney with the Campaign Legal Center, which is working with plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case. “They could adopt the test plaintiffs propose, they could in theory come up with their own standard, or they could say it’s not justiciable [not an issue for courts to decide].”
Harless notes that the plaintiffs in Wisconsin didn’t rely exclusively on the efficiency gap. They demonstrated that Wisconsin legislators acted with partisan intent, namely by unearthing emails that showed they were putting Democrats at a disadvantage. They also argued that the fact that Democrats tend to live in the state’s major cities wasn’t enough to justify the lopsided nature of the Assembly map.
The makeup of the Supreme Court has changed considerably since 2004 — the last time it took a partisan gerrymandering case — but the ideological breakdown of justices is expected to remain the same, with four convinced that partisan gerrymanders are out of bounds and four others believing the exact opposite.
On this question, as in many other cases, Justice Kennedy is expected to remain the swing vote.
“Justice Kennedy’s views,” says Douglas, the law professor, “are really the whole ballgame.”
October 29, 2017
This will be a short newsletter, as the HDCC is busy helping Andy Vargas become Haverhill’s next state representative. First, some election news:
HOT! DEBATE! Shaun Toohey and Andy Vargas, candidates for the 3rd Essex State Representative seat, will hold one live televised debate. Hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Haverhill, the debate is on Thursday, November 2, 7-8 p.m., at the HCTV Harbor Place Studio, 2 Merrimack Street.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and limited seating is available on a first-come basis. The debate will also be broadcast live on HCTV and WHAV.
Submit questions to the candidates in advance of the debate by going to the LWV-GH website. Click on the “Questions for Candidates Form,” complete, and submit.
Why Don’t People Vote?
As we are in the heart of election season, we’ve started to wonder why voter turnout is so low. As we’ve said in this newsletter before, November 3, 2015, voter turnout was 12%. After all, low voter turnout got us into this mess — you’d think we’d be flocking to the polls.
Why don’t people vote? I asked Google, and Google, as always, had lots of answers: lack of education and apathy, they don’t trust U.S elections, and they think their vote won’t count or they’re too busy.
Do you know people who don’t vote? Why? Because this upcoming election for 3rd Essex State Representative is too important to sit out. By electing Andy Vargas, Haverhill sends the message that we are not driven by fear — we are driven by hope. We send the message that health care is a right — not a privilege. We send the message that income inequality is not okay — that we can — and will do better.
So if you know someone who doesn’t vote, send them to the Independent Voter Network — maybe one of the 50 reasons listed here will get someone to the polls.
You might find this interesting
Abridge News: see a spectrum of opinions
Dealing with the aftermath
October 15, 2017
Last week Haverhill Democrats elected Andy Vargas to be the Democratic candidate for Brian Dempsey’s seat. Andy will face Shaun Toohey in the general election on November 7. Now it’s time to get to work and make sure that Haverhill sends Andy Vargas to Beacon Hill.
First, come to the Unity Rally on October 22, 4:30 p.m., Barking Dog. Speaker Robert DeLeo will be headlining the Unity Rally along with Mayor Jim Fiorentini and State Rep Linda Dean Campbell, Dean of the Haverhill Legislative delegation. RSVP here.
Second, get involved in the campaign to send Andy Vargas to Beacon Hill. There are so many things that need to be done, no matter the boundaries of your comfort zone, there’s a place for you.
Do you work all day — too tired at night and busy with the kids on the weekends to even think about volunteering? Write some postcards. You don’t have to leave the house except to mail them.
Can you spare a little time, but you really don’t want to leave the house? Make some phone calls. 20 minutes three times a week would help a lot.
Do you want to get out of the house and meet new people, but you’re nervous about making phone calls and knocking on doors? Hold signs at a visibility event, or volunteer at the office to enter data.
Are you ready to get out there and meet some voters and talk about Andy face to face? Sign up to canvass, grab a packet, and hit the streets. This can be a lot of fun!
So wherever you fall on the comfort scale, there’s something you can do to help get our Democratic candidate Andy Vargas elected to the State House. Sign up to volunteer today!
And don’t forget to come to the Unity Rally! October 22, 4:30 p.m., Barking Dog Alehouse. There will be food, people fired up and ready to go, and guest speakers. See you at the Unity Rally!
You might find this interesting
October 2, 2017
THERE’S A SPECIAL ELECTION ON OCTOBER 10. Please excuse us for “yelling,” but the statistics on voter turnout for elections without strong national candidates are terrible, so we want to make some noise about this election. In the municipal election, November 3, 2015, voter turnout was 12%.
In this upcoming special election, we’ve got two strong Democratic candidates vying to challenge Sean Toohey for the state representative seat held by Brian Dempsey: Paul Magliocchetti and Andy Vargas. Both are campaigning their hearts out, both want your vote, and both need your help and support. (If you’re not sure what parts of Haverhill are covered in this election, check out this map: statisticalatlas.com/state-lower-legislative-district/Massachusetts/3rd-Essex-District/Overview.)
Making a plan is important: people who plan ahead to vote are more likely to vote. Look at your calendar — when can you vote? Polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm. Don’t let election day surprise you and realize that you don’t have a free minute that day. Schedule your vote in now.
Do you know where to vote? If not, check this website and find out. Do you need a ride to the polls? Let your candidate know.
But wait — there’s more. Both of these candidates need your help and support. Both websites have ways you can help. You can help get out the vote by knocking on doors and sharing information about your candidate. You can participate in visibility — holding a sign for your candidate. If you have an hour, let your candidate know.
But here’s something everyone can do, even if you don’t have time to door knock or hold signs: tell five friends about this election. Ask your friends to make a voting plan. Share this newsletter with them.
Remember: October 10: VOTE! And then make a plan to come to the HDCC Unity Rally, Sunday, October 22, 4:30 pm (Pats plat at 8:30 that night), Barking Dog Alehouse.
You might find this interesting
September 18, 2017
Social media training
On September 26, 6:30-8:30, the HDCC is offering Social Media training. No matter what your level of Social Media use, this training has something for you.
If you don’t use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat), we’ll help you pick the one best suited to your needs and get you up and running.
I’m fine without social media, you might say — why do I need it now? First, it’s fun to be connected to your friends and family. They post pictures of babies, pets, and vacations, and they share funny memes. Second, the causes you care about all have social media presences, and you can tap into a lot of information and events by following their pages. Third, all of the major news outlets — New York Times; Washington Post; television networks — plus local media — WHAV; Eagle Tribune — have social media presences, and you can keep up to date by following their pages.
Social media also lets you be active in the causes you care about. You can tweet the President! You can thank Elizabeth Warren by leaving a comment on one of her Facebook posts. You can share articles that are important to you with your networks. And last, social media is fast becoming the primary way that action and resistance groups communicate — don’t be left out.
So, you say, I already do all that on Facebook — why do I need Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat? Maybe you don’t — we’ll help you find out. Social media training will also help you identify fake accounts, make your accounts as private — or as public — as you want, go over best practices, and help you understand how to use your accounts to change the world.
There’s something else important about using Social Media that you might not be thinking about yet: how to use it responsibly. Our training will cover that as well.
And if you’re a social media power user, come to the training to help people get set up — there will be a time for that. Share your own tips and ideas.
So bring your laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and I’ll see you on September 26th!
You might find this interesting (or funny)
Medicare for all
Facebook pages to follow: 350Mass for a Better Future
Local Environmental Action 2018: Mass Climate Action Network 2018 conference
On the lighter side
Equifax data breach
September 3, 2017
Fight for a Healthier Climate! No Hurricane Harveys for Haverhill!
Guest Post by Michael Sales, Elders Climate Action — Massachusetts Chapter
Tragically, Houston, Texas, has been devastated with nearly 50” of rainfall in one week. This is about the city’s level of rainfall annually. The chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency exclaimed that “No one could have imagined a storm of this magnitude!” Unfortunately, people who have been studying climate change and global warming have been predicting exactly these sorts of calamities for at least 30 years. The disaster in Houston is only an example of a trend toward extreme weather that is getting worse by the day.
Most people realize that human behavior contributes to climate change. Specifically, the emission of greenhouse gases (CO2 and methane) is warming the planet and disrupting weather patterns that have been in place for 10,000 years. 97% of all climate scientists agree with this conclusion.
There is, however, plenty of political disagreement about the validity of climate change and what to do about it. The manipulation of doubt about the scientific evidence and the press of daily life has kept understanding of the climate crisis and discussion of what to do about it off most people’s radar screen and out of the media. It’s as though the Earth has lung cancer, but it’s taboo to talk about it.
Elders Climate Action (ECA) is a relatively new national organization dedicated to providing people at and near retirement age with good information about climate change and mobilizing them to take action. Elders care about the future that their children, grandchildren, and all life are facing. ECA’s Massachusetts chapter recently led a discussion of “What Can One Person Do About Climate Change?” at the Haverhill Citizens Center. We help folks think through seven different types of actions they can take to support a healthy climate. We work with other environmental organizations to focus on the particular needs and interests regarding the climate of people over 55. We analyze the scientific innovations and the legislative agenda related to climate change. We help our members and our friends plug in to networks that are making a difference.
ECA wants to work with the greater Haverhill area elders who are unwilling to let the future be swamped by greenhouse gases. If you’re at or near retirement and have energy, insight from your life experience, some time, and a deep concern about the future, you’re not old. You’re an Elder! Join us in this fight!
For more info about ECA write me at email@example.com.
You might find this interesting
In honor of football season’s opening this week, Why Did the NFL Give Up Its Tax-Exempt Status?
In honor of Labor Day, A New Social Contract for Work
Taxes and the economy
August 20, 2017
We Have a Unique Treasure in Haverhill
How we can keep our local radio station alive to protect our democracy!
Guest post by Jane Thiefels
A few months ago, I discovered WHAV: 97.9 FM.
I had never really listened to our local radio station before. However, after hearing that Amy Goodman’s program Democracy Now was being broadcast, I eagerly tuned in every day at 9 am.
Waiting for Democracy Now to start, I discovered local news on the hour. I was now hearing about our community in a complete way that surpassed the coverage in the daily paper.
Then, one day as I prepared for my hourly local news followed by Democracy Now, I found this program had gone off the air.
This disappointment led me to do some research where I discovered we had lost this valuable program through lack of response to a survey of interest that WHAV had promoted.
My research also opened my eyes to what a tremendous resource WHAV is and can be for our community. Being the only Haverhill-run radio station, it is truly Public Radio. It reaches the entire region on FM band with a community spotlight and local news on the hour.
I learned further that WHAV on the web alone (whav.net) in June 2017 generated 12.6 million hits, 130,000 of which were unique visitors with IP addresses who often access the web more than once a day.
I further discovered that programming like Democracy Now had disappeared because of 1) lack of response to community interest surveys conducted by WHAV and 2) lack of financial support.
This set off an alarm for me and I knew I had to be actively involved. First of all, I became a member: $10 a year for students and seniors; $25 a year for individual membership; and $100 a year for a news-leader membership. (This can be divided into 10 payments of $10 month.)
Then as a member, I can also let WHAV know that I, for example, support Progressive programing like Democracy Now.
When I heard about the membership fees for WHAV, our only local radio station, I had a wake-up call. I realized that I am now paying $350 a year for the Eagle Tribune, which is owned by CNHI in Alabama. Hence, our local dollars go out-of-state. Besides, the Haverhill office itself closed 5 years ago. No wonder local news is so sparse. And how does $350 a year for the Eagle Tribune compare with $25 (or even $100 a year) for WHAV?
Next month, WHAV has a big decision to make–and it depends on finances. WHAV must decide whether to renew its Pacifica Network affiliation. It is through Pacifica–the oldest public radio network in the country–that WHAV receives Democracy Now. [Note: the newsletter has just learned that Democracy Now is returning to WHAV Monday–Friday at 9 p.m. starting Monday, August 21. If we can get a positive response and if people email in that they like the program, WHAV will keep it going.]
Now that the local political races are around the corner, I am going to need WHAV more than ever. We have a treasure in a local Public Radio station. Let’s not lose it! Will you join me by going to www.whav.net and make a decision to join on the membership options page?
If we are going to protect our democracy in this country, we have to start locally with our own news!
You might find this interesting . . . .
Full speech: Mitch Landrieu addresses removal of Confederate statues. On May 19, 2017, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered a moving speech about why the city took down four Confederate monuments that had been installed by supporters of the “Cult of the Lost Cause.
Washington Post: An estimated 40,000 people demonstrated against a rally featuring right-wing figures in Boston on Aug. 19.
An estimated 40,000 people demonstrated against a rally featuring right-wing figures in Boston on Aug. 19.
Posted by Washington Post on Saturday, August 19, 2017
August 7, 2017
Big week for Immigration Legislation: both at our own State level and at the Federal level
Guest Post by Kathy Rurak
Governor Baker’s bill deals with undocumented individuals already here in the US.
President Trump’s bill proposes to cut the number of individuals who seek to come legally into our country.
Governor Baker’s Bill
On August 1, 2017, Gov. Baker filed legislation that would give state and local police and court officers the authority to honor certain detainer requests from ICE. The word certain is important her. It authorizes, but does not require, state and local law enforcement to honor detention requests from ICE for aliens who pose a threat to public safety.
This bill would allow Mass. law enforcement to determine that an individual poses a threat to public safety and decide to detain that person.
Any detention authorized by this bill would be limited to aliens already in custody . It does not empower state or local police to proactively arrest people for immigration law violations.
My Thoughts: Although local police are not required to follow this request from the Governor it would still seem to pressure them to hold people in their jail cells longer while waiting for ICE to arrive. It also appears to me to be bringing federal authority closer to our home base- something that could prove unfortunate over time.
President Trump’s Plan
This latest proposal, introduced by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AK) and David Purdue (R-GA) and supported by the president (S.1720) appears to be another form of a ban. This bill looks to keep out non-English speaking peoples and low-skilled workers with limited education. Instead it would give merit points to individuals who speak English, have high-paying job offers and significant education. Overall the bill would limit refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 a year ( half of the current number allowed). At this time most immigrants are allowed to legally enter the US based on family ties. The President’s proposed bill would still allow spouses and minor children of legal residents to come in but would eliminate preferences for relatives like siblings and adult children.
The bill is sponsored by Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.
But not all Republicans agree. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that this bill “would be devastating to our state’s economy, which relies on this immigrant work force….hotels, restaurants, golf courses and farmers will tell you this proposal to cut legal immigration in half would put their business in peril.”
My Thoughts: : President Trump’s promise to raise up the forgotten Americans in depressed areas of the country is not fulfilled by this proposal. It may actually depress certain industries even more.
Republicans and Democrats should mount a bi-partisan effort to defeat this bill.
Call the Governor’s office at 617-725-4005 to register your opposition.
Call or email your legislators (find them here) and urge them to kill the bill, and support the Safe Communities Act instead.
Senator Elizabeth Warren:
Senator Ed Markey
Senator Lindsey Graham
[bctt tweet=”Trump’s immigration plan hurts families and the economy. Call your senators and ask them to oppose S.1720. ” via=”no”]
Kathy Rurak heads the HDCC Immigration Task Force. The next meeting of the Task Force is on August 21, 2017, at 5:30, Haverhill Public Library, Milhendler Room. Kathy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might find this interesting (or funny) . . . .
July 20, 2017
Calling Young Democrats
My name is Tyler Polston and I am a resident in Haverhill by way of Louisville, Kentucky. I was involved in organizing for the Bernie Sanders campaign through grassroots action. As a feverish support of Bernie I organized and volunteered in door-knocking, phone banks, and meetings to help bring us to a successful win locally. While the success didn’t play out on the national scale, I felt initial defeat early on during the primaries in the bid for the 2016 Presidential election.
Later, I’m sure many of you who are reading this were probably just as upset and distraught as I was on Election Day when the Republican candidate was elected.
I know some of you are like me, with Bernie being your “call to action.” I have never been involved with politics before and at the ripe age of 29, I’m ready to keep up the fight through grassroots organizing of Millennial voters like myself. This is one way, in my opinion that we can aggressively build up the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to win back the House in 2018 and the White House in 2020. No matter your political ideology (left, center, liberal, Independent, or moderate, etc.), I hope we can all agree that something has to be done in our communities (locally and at the state level) to bring back civil discourse and citizen engagement. This is why I started to attend meetings with the Haverhill Democratic City Committee.
I’ve recently taken on the role in the Haverhill Democratic City Committee as Young Democrats Chair (aka Young Democrats of Haverhill) to start to bring Millennials together for change and action. We recently organized the “Young Democrats of Haverhill” and had our initial, Roundtable Discussion on July 19th in which our mission and purpose was created.
We invite you to join us at our first “Young Dems Social” in August for a meet and greet. Whether you’re fresh out of high school, in college, a 20- or 30-something, or just committed to our mission, please join the Young Democrats of Haverhill in the effort to engage citizens in local civic action. Visit us on the web at haverhilldems.org and follow the Haverhill Democratic City Committee on Facebook to learn more and to sign up to volunteer or join the cause. We are the future!
Haverhill Democratic City Committee Young Democrats Chair email@example.com
You might find this interesting. . . .
July 10, 2017
To Lie or Not to Lie
Guest Post by Linda Lankowski
Where has lying gotten any of us? We all do it: sometimes to save face, to spare someone’s feelings, or to avoid unpleasant consequences. There are lies of omission and/or commission. Senator Al Franken asserts that politicians’ lies are self-serving, i.e., by appealing to their audiences for support for transgression(s). Examples include Nixon, Clinton, and — now we have the Mother of All — Trump. The most recent example is his provocatively suggested statement he taped conversations with FBI Director James Comey. One element involves motivation to fill the narcissistic need(s) for attention.
Children learn to lie around 3-4 years of age. Small lies morph into big ones, and we see that if the risk is worth the reward, it will lead to a habit. Research suggests that lying is a habit –not a diagnosis. This writer points to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) used by psychiatrists, psychologists, and all who need to categorize mental illness. Under the Personality Disorders we find F60.2, Anti-Social Personality disorder – “Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.”
Coupled with F60.81, Narcissistic Personality disorder, the POTUS and many in his administration fit some of the criteria. So, where are the consequences for intentionally lying, misleading, ignoring, refusing to answer questions, or conveniently not remembering events? I’m hoping that the cavalcade of lies (think Sessions, Flynn, Kushner, and others) will lead to Perjury and/or Obstruction of Justice charges. On June 25, 2017, The New York Times filled a whole page listing the lies Trump has told in his first 154 days.
National Public Radio, June 5, 2017, On Point (podcast, Anthony Brooks) see above.
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Senator Al Franken, Sept. 2003.
- Call out lies when you encounter them in our elected officials. Write letters to the editor; speak out on social media.
- Be willing to sit down with children and use positive reinforcement for truthfulness.
You might find this interesting. . . .
18 States Sue Betsy DeVos Over Student Loan Protections – our own Maura Healy is leading the charge on this!
In this episode of Grass Seeds, special guest Gary Rucinski, Massachusetts State Coordinator for the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, discusses the proposal for instituting a carbon tax and fighting against climate change. Host Richard Smyth.
The Women’s March Is Planning a Protest Against the NRA: “We will not be intimidated into silence.”
Know Your Rights Handouts: If ICE Visits a Home, Employer, or Public Space. Please share this with friends, family, and coworkers who may be vulnerable.
June 19, 2017
Ah, summertime! It’s almost here. Long warm days, fresh fruit and vegetables, days off, and even vacations. What’s not to love? So in honor of summer, the newsletter will be short this week. Behind all the noise of the Russia investigations, in spite of all the drama of mass shootings and ships being rammed, 13 Republican senators are hard at work, behind closed doors, taking away health insurance from 23 million people.
These 13 senators are not holding hearings, and they’re not accepting amendments. They plan to submit the bill to the floor, and a few hours later hold a vote. And you can bet that this bill won’t come to the floor unless McConnell has the 50 votes to pass it.
There are only a few action items this week, but the first one — call your senators and request resistance by procedure and filibuster by amendment — can be done daily.
If you haven’t done much to date, now is the time to pick up the phone. This is important. If you want more support like scripts, Indivisible Guide has everything you might need. Because besides the 23 million who will lose insurance, or the people who will be priced out of the market because of preexisting conditions, employer-provided insurance is also affected. Family members in nursing homes will be affected, and it will make the opioid crisis worse.
Here are the specifics for Massachusetts:
|Average Premium Increase in 2018||Total Health Insurance Coverage Losses||Medicaid Coverage Losses||Employer-Sponsored Coverage Losses||Individual Market Coverage Losses|
So if you think you don’t have to worry, you do. Because this isn’t about health care; it’s about a massive wealth transfer. Trumpcare has been called the largest wealth transfer from the poor and middle class to the rich in the history of the United States.
So make some phone calls, and enjoy all that summer has to offer.
Fired up? Here’s a direct link to action items. More reading — and a new podcast — below.
Additional Reading — Mostly Health Care
Last, I heard a new podcast this week that you might be interested in. It’s from Roman Mars: What Trump Can Teach Us About Constitutional Law. Very informative — and even a little bit entertaining. Another podcast I like, The Daily from the New York Times, talks a lot about health care in today’s episode.
June 12, 2017
Many thanks to Annie Maurer for the following Guest Post:
Did you know Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the country? Wage growth has stagnated in Massachusetts since the 1970s, and a full-time minimum wage worker will only earn $22,880 a year. Raise Up Massachusetts believes that all workers should earn a living wage and is working to bring the minimum wage in Massachusetts up to $15.00 an hour. House Bill 2365 and Senate Bill 1004 will increase the minimum wage for all workers, including tipped, and help them achieve a living wage.
Did you know that 87% of workers in Massachusetts do not have access to paid family and medical leave when needed to care for themselves and family members when medical emergencies occur? This puts all families, but especially low-wage workers who cannot afford to take time off, at risk. Raise Up Massachusetts is working to guarantee paid family and medical leave for all workers in Massachusetts. House Bill 2172 and Senate Bill 1048 will establish a low-cost insurance program to guarantee this important protection.
This bill is close to achieving a veto-proof majority: does your representative support it? Call and let them know where you stand and ask them to support it. If you would like more information, check out the Raise Up Massachusetts website. You can also contact Pam Wool (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information and to find out about opportunities to work to pass this important protection.
And join us at the State House!
- On June 14 at 12:30 at the state Constitutional Convention to support the Fair Share Amendment, which would tax incomes above $1 million to provide increased revenue for education and transportation needs across Massachusetts.
- On June 13th for the hearing on Paid Leave, meeting 11:30 AM, room 437, for a rally and to lobby, followed by the hearing at 1:00 PM in room B2. (Info and RSVP)
- On Tuesday, July 18th, for a hearing on $15 Minimum Wage, meeting 11:30 AM for a rally and lobby, followed by the hearing at 1:00 PM in room B2. (Info and RSVP)
If you want to know more. . . .
- Raise Up website
- UMass Study on Paid Family and Medical Leave: “Its About Time: Costs and Coverage of Paid Family Medical Leave in Massachusetts” — click on link in Research section to the right.
- Mass Budget and Policy Center: “State and Local Impact of Raising Minimum Wage to $15 in Massachusetts” — click on link in Research section to the right.
- Fair Share Amendment Research — click on research links on the right.
- ‘Millionaire’s tax’ in cross hairs of big biz group
- Massachusetts Democrats tout ‘energy in grass roots’
- Fired up and ready to go? Pledge to join the Raise Up Massachusetts campaign in 2017. Urge your state reps to support these bills; calling sheet here.
More to read and watch
NYTimes: States Lead the Fight Against Trump’s Birth Control Rollback. Now, Ask your state reps to support SD939 and HD450, which would ensure that Massachusetts residents continue to get no co-pay birth control, no matter what the federal government does.
The Town Hall Project’s Missing Member report. Worrisome is that Annie Kuster is on this list. If you’ve signed up with Swing Left or Sister District, this is the district that we in Haverhill will be asked to support in 2018.
June 4, 2017
We’ve all heard by now that Trump is withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. Although the formal withdrawal can’t happen until shortly after the 2020 election, the administration can now ignore the U.S. pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions while we are formally a part of the agreement — the commitments are not legally binding.
We’ve known since Trump appointed his cabinet that climate change was not an administration priority, and Trump campaigned on withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. So although the news was stunning, it was not surprising. The big problem is that withdrawing doesn’t make climate change any less of a major issue. What it does mean is that cities and states — and you and me — must shoulder more of the burden.
Charlie Baker announced last week that Massachusetts is joining the Climate Alliance, a group of states committed to fulfilling the Paris Agreement, despite lack of federal support. This is good news. As Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at the Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention, climate change is a local issue.
So what is Haverhill doing? More to the point, what are you and I doing? If — like me — you have a little nagging voice that says things like, “You can create less waste. . . . can’t you walk instead of taking the car. . . maybe it’s time to get a bike,” maybe now’s the time to listen to that voice and act on a few of those suggestions. Something tells me that this earth is going to need all the help it can get.
For Further Reading
The Child Welfare League of America lists programs that help children and their families but are being eliminated altogether in trump’s budget: the Social Services Block Grant, the 21st Century Afterschool Learning Centers, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and the Community Development Block Grant.