For Tom Hayden

by , posted on Friday, November 11th, 2016 at 10:36 am

Coming of age in the wake of Watergate, in the waning days of the Vietnam War, the student movement of the Sixties made a great impression on me, even if only a bit after the fact. Contrary to conventional wisdom, that tom_hayden-fbi_-file generation of activists was still very much on the scene as I began to become politically active myself in the mid-Seventies. And as I learned about that recent history, it was the founding generation of SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, that I identified with most. Tom Hayden, especially

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Superdelegates and the DNC Unity Reform Commission: An Outsider’s Inside Perspective

by , posted on Saturday, August 13th, 2016 at 2:21 pm

20160723_202251On the first day of the Democratic National Convention, the rules committee co-chairs, Barney Frank and Leticia Van de Putte, announced the creation of the Unity Reform Commission to the delegates of the convention.  Van de Putte indicated that this commission “received overwhelming support from all members of the rules committee.”  This was followed by glowing endorsements of the commission by Clinton delegate and DNC-appointed rules committee member Wellington Webb and Sanders delegate Diane Russell.  The message portrayed to the delegates in the convention and people watching at home was that the democrats were unified under Clinton and that the superdelegates would definitely be reduced by a full 2/3 in accordance with the will of the voters.  However, this glorified commercial left out important details of the commission and the process which produced it.

I was one of the three rules committee members from Illinois selected to represent Bernie Sanders.  At the rules committee meeting, 25 members were DNC-appointed (equivalent to the “superdelegates” of the rules committee).  The rest were apportioned by state according to the presidential share of the vote.  There should have been 187 total members, but some of them appeared to be missing as the total number of votes never approached this number.

All proposals were submitted by Sanders-appointed rules committee members.  The majority of us are lifelong democrats who wanted to improve our primary process for the future of the Democratic Party and believed strongly in the concept of one person/one vote.  Many devoted a large amount of time to preparing for the rules meeting and writing proposals for various rule changes.  There were about 50 proposals in all.  I myself submitted 8 proposals with the help of two separate groups of dedicated delegates and activists who contributed to background research on historical rule changes and also to the writing of some of the proposals.  So when I arrived the day of the rules committee meeting, I felt a real responsibility to accomplish significant change.  Clinton rules committee members and DNC members did not propose any rule changes.

Eliminating the superdelegates was the top issue for most of the Sanders rules committee members.  We knew this proposal might not pass in the rules committee.  However, if we submitted a minority report, we could have a debate and floor vote on this issue on the convention floor.  We already had the signatures we needed for the minority report.  It was important to do this to give this undemocratic issue a spotlight at the convention.  Also, if the proposal to eliminate superdelegates passed at the convention, it would then require only a majority vote of the DNC committee (rather than the normal 2/3 vote) to amend the Charter of the Democratic Party, fully eliminating them.  We wanted to fight for our delegates and our voters to have a voice. Read the rest of this post »

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“NO TPP” Signs Became Banner of Resistance on the Floor of the Democratic Convention

by , posted on Sunday, July 31st, 2016 at 11:57 am

Sanders Delegates Started To Change the Conversation on TPP at DNC:

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NO TPP signs become banner of resistance during Democratic convention

I will never forget the rush that swept through me on my first night at the Wells Fargo Center while looking into a sea of “NO TPP” signs that quickly became the banner of resistance to the oligarchy that surrounded us on the convention floor.  I panned the 180 degrees and looked at the thousands of Democratic insiders, wealthy donors, and lobbyists that watched us chant “No T-P-P!” from their seats and VIP boxes above us.  We were not supposed to be here – this was not our party, yet, we were here.  Thank you Bernie Sanders!  The Democratic Party is still loyal to their corporate donors, but we silenced the pro-TPP voices at the Democratic convention.

Despite the fact that the convention hall was filled with “NO TPP” signs, neither President Obama (who supports the TPP), or Democratic nominee Clinton (who, as of today, opposes the TPP) mentioned the words, “TPP” in their prime-time speeches before the assembly of delegates and party leaders at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week.

Speaking in favor of the TPP would have caused a loud, “boo” from delegates.

Speaking against the TPP would have caused the wealthy corporate donors hiding in VIP boxes to tightly grip their wallets.

The speakers, just like the Democratic platform, remained silent on the TPP issue.  The real victory is how we used an interruption strategy to help shape the narrative on the convention floor despite the fact that it was a highly orchestrated, four-day charade with endless anti-Trump speeches, very few votes, and zero meaningful discussions or debates.

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Hillary Clinton Refuses to Unify the Democrats on the TPP – July 9th DNC Platform Meeting Update

by , posted on Sunday, July 10th, 2016 at 2:24 pm

During the DNC platform committee meetings, Hillary Clinton surrogates stood with their presumptive nominee in opposing any efforts to take a clear stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and better unify the party.

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You can watch the C-SPAN debate on Amendment 93 here at roughly 18:30 in the C-SPAN video – Day 2, Part 1.

The first round of TPP discussions came when Lee Saunders (AFSCME), a Clinton surrogate, initiated Amendment 93, that opposed free trade agreements that do not have protections for workers’ rights and environmental standards. The Saunders amendment did not specifically state opposition to the TPP.

ben-jealous Ben Jealous (former NAACP President), a Sanders surrogate, jumped on the opportunity and sought to amend the Saunders amendment by adding the words, “and that’s why we oppose the TPP.” The parliamentary procedure by Jealous created a vote on the full Saunders Amendment plus the words, “and that’s why we oppose the TPP.” The Jealous Amendment failed.

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We need to undercut President Obama’s TPP at the Democratic Convention

by , posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2016 at 7:07 pm

At the last Democratic Party Platform Committee meeting in St. Louis, Secretary Clinton’s surrogates on the platform committee voted to keep the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) off of the platform agenda.  We also saw the language and strategy that they are employing to allow the Clinton campaign to quietly shift positions on the TPP; giving the Obama Administration one last chance to pass this disastrous trade bill.

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According to the Washington Post, during the platform meeting, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Clinton) said, “I don’t want to do anything as he ends his term to undercut the president of the United States.”

Dr. Cornel West (Sanders) effectively countered Cummings when he said, “the responsibilities of citizenship should transcend loyalty to the president.”

I would like to go a step further – We need to undercut President Obama’s TPP.  It is not good for America or working people anywhere in the world.  It is not good for the environment.  The TPP extinguishes democracy; replacing it with corporate government. We don’t need the TPP.  The president is wrong and he needs to reverse his position on the TPP.  The time to send this message is at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.  If you need to read more about the TPP, this in-depth analysis from Public Citizen titled, “Secret TPP Text Unveiled: It is worse than we thought,” is worth the read.

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Empty Rhetoric or Will President Obama Propose Legislation to Strengthen Social Security?

by , posted on Wednesday, June 8th, 2016 at 11:54 am

Mr. President where is your legislative proposal to increase and strengthen Social Security?

As the National Democratic Party Attempts to steer their corporate candidate into the white house, they are now openly wooing progressive voters with empty rhetoric.  The first salvo of false promises comes from the sitting president.  Sandwiched between 2008 and 2016 rhetoric promising to increase Social Security, the president actually proposed cutting Social Security as part of a “grand bargain.”

Please sign my petition that calls on President Obama to introduce legislation that would back up his campaign rhetoric.  Watch this video of Bernie Sanders defending Social Security after proposing legislation that accomplish President Obama’s rhetorical goals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxPesrGOEcc 

 

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School Board President Annette Johnson verbally abuses District 131 Staff

by , posted on Monday, April 18th, 2016 at 5:48 am

This is an audio file of District 131 President Annette Johnson verbally assaulting and threatening district employees.  When I was elected, I had heard rumors of this kind of behavior, which Annette’s supporters call, “passionate.”  But, this smoking gun proof is downright scary.

There should be no room for bullying – students bullying each other, teachers bullying students, administrators bullying staff and, the board bullying either staff or administration.

Please sign my petition calling for Annette Johnson to resign.

Sadly, District 131 has had enough bad ink spilled over Ms. Johnson’s antics.  And, my preference was to resolve this issue quietly.  I asked Ms. Johnson to resign.  She said that she would not. So, our only hope now is that we put enough community pressure on her to vacate her position on the board.

Annette is a lawsuit waiting to happen.  Worse yet, if District 131 board members are serious about finding a new administrator that can move the district forward, they need to recognize that it will not happen as long as this reckless behavior is driving the district’s decision-making.  For the good of the district, I will happily remove this post when she resigns.

People gave me a hard time when I called on Denny Hastert to resign in 2006 after he covered up sexually inappropriate behavior between Representative Mark Foley and a young male page.  I know that where there is smoke, there is typically fire.  It turns out that I was right about Denny Hastert.

And, I am confident that the tape recording of Ms. Johnson is not an isolated incident.  If you have witnessed this kind of behavior with Ms. Johnson, feel free to leave an anonymous post.  If you have the courage to share it with the rest of the board, better yet.  I recognize that Johnson uses terror-tactics to drive fear into those she seeks to control.  Indeed, she verbally assaulted me one night after I voted against her wishes over the expulsion of a kid.

Or, feel free to contact me or any other board member if you have experienced this kind of behavior – 630.878.7454.

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Saving Democracy

by , posted on Monday, April 4th, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Some reflections on the Illinois primary…

1. I am crazy proud of Kane and Kendall counties. That was the territory assigned to our little Batavia Engine That Could, and we delivered in a big way! Bernie won Kane by 13% and Kendall by 17%. Everyone who worked tirelessly for Bernie, you are incredibly awesome.

2. For a guy labeled a Socialist and a Communist, Bernie is the most Democratic candidate in this race. He has made it this far because people like me have given him money and time. Every phone call, every door hanger, every yard sign, every face-to-face encounter was Democracy in action. It was a beautiful thing. And here in Illinois, it was almost enough to stop Politics As Usual funded by lots of money and essentially zero people power.

3. There is something incredibly powerful about knocking on someone’s door and then engaging in really meaningful, respectful dialogue about the election. I personally talked to a husband and wife who knew nothing about the primary or the candidates. When I offered up why I’m passionate about Bernie (railing over childhood poverty and the lack of equal opportunity for low-income kids), the wife teared up and shared that she is a teacher in a depressed school district. Bernie’s words spoke to her.

I talked to people about issues. Wherever they fell on the political spectrum, many people came out onto the porch to have truly in-depth dialogue. I found common ground in every encounter. People were gracious and kind. Very few looked through the door at my Bernie sticker and just said, “No.” But that was fine too. I wasn’t there to argue. I was just spreading Democracy, one neighbor to another.

I talked to people who didn’t know they could register and vote the same day. I talked to college students heading back to school prior to the election who didn’t know about early voting. I talked to a 17-year-old girl who didn’t know she was eligible to vote (she would be 18 by November).

These are people who quite possibly had already “checked out” of politics because really, what can “we the people” do anymore? What does it matter if I pay attention, if I donate to a candidate, if I put a sign in my yard? The machine is big and powerful, and it strategizes and crunches numbers and connives and carefully crafts messages that will get the biggest bang for the buck.

But I got to deliver a different message as I canvassed in my hometown. I got to tell people that their vote does matter. That regardless of who they ultimately chose to represent them, making a choice was important. I got to tell them that Democracy with a capital D is not dead. It’s alive, and I stood on the doorstep as proof.

4. This isn’t over — it’s the beginning. Bernie fights on, and so will we. If he makes it on the ballot in November, we the people will keep working for him. But regardless, we need to look local. The first day I walked into the Batavia office, I said, “I found my people.” This election brought together lots of perfect strangers who became friends, bonding over a similar vision for a better future for this world. These are good, compassionate people dedicated to saving the Democratic process. We’re going to stick together, and we’re going to grow, and we’re going to find more Bernie People we can support in campaigns at every level of government.

Join us.

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Welcome Kane County for Bernie Sanders – UPDATED

by , posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2016 at 11:56 am
Ten minutes after the meeting ended

Ten minutes after the meeting ended

Last night I attended a Kane County for Bernie meeting that was intended to wrap up our effort, and to develop a list of suggestions that might be useful to the national campaign as it moves on into other states. After Bernie’s not-so-crushing defeat in the primary the day before I expected to be met with a bunch of depressed and morose volunteers.
Sure, many of us touched on our disappointment that Bernie had not won Illinois outright, but we were pleased that Bernie did win the areas we were working in, Kane and Kendall Counties with more than 57% of the vote, and Aurora (one of those urban areas where Bernie supposedly does not do well) with 52%.

As I said, I had expected sorrow, but what happened at that meeting was not a wake but a wake-up. I sat there listening, with my legs still aching from canvassing and my mind kind of foggy with exhaustion as it had been all day, and I gradually started realizing that talk was turning from how the national campaign can tweak things going forward to how we can go forward.

How can we organize Kane County progressives to run for local elections?
How can we continue to help the Bernie Sanders campaign, beyond making calls to other states?
How can we stay in touch with each other and grow the movement?
How, how, how?

A lot of great questions, with some preliminary answers, including the formation of teams to hone messaging, to develop tech training for volunteers, and to research election laws in two adjacent states with upcoming primaries. And an agreement to meet back in the office on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. to be trained in whatever those teams develop.

Because at this point, it looks like we are going on to Wisconsin, followed by Indiana.

At one point in the evening I offered up this blog as an online space where local progressives can post and follow local progressive news and races over the long term. The blog is not going anywhere and anyone is welcome to post, comment, read and stay aware.

To Kane County’s Bernie team I extend a heartfelt Welcome!

I came very late to the Kane County for Bernie effort and wish I had put in a tenth of the effort that so many of you in that room last night have given. You are the future of progressive causes and elections in Kane County, and you give me great hope for that future.

You can respond to the event invite for Monday’sTuesday’s event here.

You can donate to Bernie here.

You can volunteer here.

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