February Newsletter - Volume 7, Issue 5
You may click on one of the above titles to go directly to that subject, or simply scroll down the newsletter.
Thanks to Sybil Cantor, Teddi Pensinger, Linda Kolko, Enid Light, Joyce Lipman, Fran Rothstein, Emily Shetty, Bonnie Wicklund, Kate Stewart, Joan Gervino, Lucy Freeman, Marian Kisch, Ed Kimmel, Mary Lou Fox, Shruti Bhatnagar, Melanie Kreidich, Riki Sheehan, Joan Riggs, and Ashley Rhinehart for their contributions to this newsletter.
The next newsletter will be published at the end of March. In the interim, information will be sent out via email and social media (Facebook and Twitter).
NOTE FROM WDC PRESIDENT LINDA KOLKO
Another great month for WDC! So many terrific events supported by our ever growing membership! Many thanks to our Advocacy Co-Chairs Fran Rothstein and Emily Shetty for organizing such a successful Annapolis Day! I also want to acknowledge the great work of Lucy Freeman and her Education Committee members, especially Nancy Holland and Margaret Hadley, in organizing our timely event on fracking. This Committee also organized the Gandhi Youth Brigade event. And kudos to our Membership Co-Chairs Enid Light and Joan Gervino for their continuing efforts to help us expand our membership.
The energy, dedication, and activism of our members is truly an inspiration. We can't let ourselves become discouraged in this troubling political climate, and we won't. Finally, in closing, I just love the inspiring words by Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart at our January Happy Hour and wanted to share them with all of you.
Remarks - Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart - January 12, 2017 - WDC Happy Hour
Thank you for inviting me here tonight. As many of you, I have been doing a great deal of thinking - and crying - over the last few weeks.
The first couple of weeks after the election - my kids asked me if I was going to cry through breakfast every day. I promised I would stop. Eventually.
We need to look forward ..
Beyond the election.
Beyond the inauguration.
Beyond the March.
We are in for a marathon. There will be times we need to sprint but we need to be prepared to go the distance ... because those who want to take away our rights and freedom - they are in for the long haul.
So I was asked tonight to speak to how we can do this...how can we sustain and keep active... the first few days after the election -everyone was like we need to do something, all the things, NOW!
But what can and should we be doing.
President Obama said:
"...change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.
My first recommendation is find your space - we all cannot be and do everything. Find your space - is it running for office yourself - because we need that. Is it helping to organize and protest? Is it building bridges with other communities and bringing people together? Figure out what are you good at. What you enjoy. And go do it.
- we are going to need to help each other - and that is going to look different at different times - it might be donating money, watching someone's kids, or just cutting each other some slack every now and then.
Walk in another's shoes:
As President Obama said: If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
Stay informed and inform others
- stay focused on the things that matter - don't be distracted by the tweets or the nonsense. But focus on the real things that impact people's lives. This presidency is not going to the be The Art of the Deal but the Art of the Distraction and we are going to need to stay focused on what matters.
5) Finally --
take care of yourself - go to the movies, go to dinner with friends. Take a nap if you need it. This is a marathon.
To end, my New Year's Resolution: BE KIND. BE BOLD. RESIST.
UPCOMING WDC EVENTS
WDC & MCDCC Social Media Training
Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee Office
3720 Farragut Avenue, #303, Kensington
New WDC member Pam Holland is offering Democratic activism Facebook training for WDC & MCDCC members!
Are you interested in joining the millions who are using Facebook and Twitter as a tool for political activism, but you're uncertain about how it all works - especially with respect to privacy? Join us for a hands-on training to get more comfortable using social media as a tool for good. Some of what we'll cover:
Common features of all social media **Please sign up for a Facebook account prior to the session, and bring your laptop, tablet, or smartphone device to the training. We can assist with setting up Twitter .
Account security and fraud protection
Account privacy settings
Posting, commenting, and "liking" --including what's private and what's public
Creating and finding Groups and Pages, including privacy considerations
News and "fake news" --determining what is reliable
Hands-on time for participants to work on their Facebook and Twitter pages
Thursday, March 9
5:30 to 7 PM
7141 Arlington Road, Bethesda
Want to meet new people and talk politics? Join us at the next WDC Happy Hour. Every second Thursday of each month, Democrats who are passionate about politics gather to relax and network with WDC members and their guests. Whether you want to meet elected officials, make new friends, form new business contacts or just have fun, the WDC Happy Hour is the perfect place to meet and greet fellow Democrats. Members and potential members are welcome, so come and bring your friends!
Woman's Democratic Club Register VA Voters Event
3801 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA 22305.
Let's register voters in VA---they have a Governor's race in 2017!
We are back in the voter registration mode! We will be helping a nonpartisan group help register low income families to vote in Virginia. We will be working with New Virginia Majority,
This is a nonpartisan monthly event, so no partisan clothing. We will meet at New Virginia Majority's office where we will have a short Virginia voter registration training, and help register voters. We want this to be a big event for them, so please mark your calendars accordingly. We plan to continue to help New Virginia Majority until after the Virginia Democratic Primaries.
What is New Virginia Majority? Their website states "New Virginia Majority is the catalytic force for the progressive transformation of Virginia through mass organizing, leadership development, and strategic communications. We are creating a powerful movement that transforms Virginia by organizing communities of color, women, working people, LGBTs, youth and progressive people. Through continuous purposeful and strategic activity, we will create a Virginia that is democratic, just and sustainable."
SAVE THE DATE - Wednesday, April 19
Civic Activism....Combatting Intolerance
Courtyard by Marriott
5520 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase
Susan Benesch, founder, Dangerous Speech Project, on the faculty of Harvard and American Universities
Jill Ortman-Fouse, member, Montgomery County Board of Education
Incivility and intolerance have become more prevalent throughout this last election cycle, both during the primaries and after the election. This has included damaging speech, racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism. People are protesting and calling their representatives.
Want to find out how to become more effective at civic activism? Learn about the forms of harmful speech, including hate speech and "dangerous speech". Hear about successful methods to diminish harmful speech offline, online, and social media.
Our schools have been forced to take action as a result of alarming incidents this past year.
SAVE THE DATE - MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY'S ANNUAL SPRING BALL
When the going gets tough, the Democrats get marching, and this year's Spring Ball,
Lace 'Em Up!, will highlight the grass-roots actions that boosted our party and made the country better.
So save this date and time, Saturday, May 13 at 6 p.m. for the 2017 Spring Ball which will be held at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. More details will be posted soon.
2017 WOMEN'S LEGISLATIVE BRIEFING
by Enid Light
There were many highlights and it was encouraging to see so many young people and students attending. A 13-year-old from the emerging leaders program gave an eloquent, thoughtful and positive presentation. She said we should, "Learn to make history: Be a leader".
A wide range of issues impacting women across the lifespan were discussed. These included: health care, economic justice, unique populations, law enforcement and safety (trafficking, abuse, sexual assault). Approaches to advancing agendas in these areas within the context of an uncertain political climate were addressed.
A special Presidents' Networking Reception was held to bring together all of the chief executives (or representative) of the 50+ community co-sponsors. The group broke up into smaller working groups and developed recommendations and next step actions. These recommendations were recorded and will be summarized and shared in the near future.
A few notable comments from the Maryland Congressional delegates:
*John Sarbanes on the presidential inauguration: "This was the hardest goodbye in political history."
* Chris Van Hollen: We must have vigilance to protect the democratic process and resist with every fiber any attempts to turn back the clock on women's rights.
*John Delaney: We must play defense, offense and change the playing field, particularly around equal pay for women because that is how you improve the economy.
*Jamie Raskin: The Women's March- that is the real America. Jamie went on to deliver a fiery speech to a standing ovation. His refrain: Women will lead us through it.
Kudos to the entire WDC Team that attended the WLB! Our booth was well managed and looked great with new pictures on our trifold board and our new flag.
Although we were located on a side corridor we had reasonably good traffic and lots of great discussions with attendees. Hopefully, many will follow up with membership.
Special shout out to those who volunteered to staff the booth- Andrea, Lynn, Ellen, Kristen, Teddi and Lorig! You all were perfect reps for WDC. You completely engaged visitors with empathy, enthusiasm and knowledge about how WDC would be the right Democratic "home" for them. The Membership and Outreach Committee will follow up with contacts.
An optimistic note is that there were numerous organizations throughout Maryland, the District, and Virginia, as well as women from other jurisdictions interested in collaborating with WDC. This meeting emphasized grass roots and collaborative action.
||David Fraser-Hidalgo, Josh Tulkin and Tim Whitehouse
FRACKING: TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES
by Joyce Lipman
A crowd filling the room arrived at the Jane Lawton Community Center on February 6 to learn the truth about fracking-the controversial method of removing natural gas from shale. But as our three speakers made clear, based on definitive studies, they did not have any doubt about the danger presented by this practice.
District 15 Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo
Woman's Democratic Club members and guests heard first from Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo. A member of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, he has served on the legislative workgroup assigned to look into this issue. He gave the uninitiated an overview of the process itself and the risks to health, the economy, and the environment that his workgroup identified, particularly in Western Maryland. He also described the politics of turning the 2015 moratorium into an outright ban when it expires next year.
Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo explained how the drills push water and sand into the rock to crack it open. The sand then holds the crack open to release the gas. One fracking operation requires five million gallons of water! Even putting aside this mindboggling waste of resources, he said, imagine 500 hundred huge semis carrying all that water through the narrow country roads of Western Maryland. And the waste water coming out of the fracking sites would carry toxic waste water back through these same roads: A disaster waiting to happen, with the clean-up costs falling on the whole state, including, of course, Montgomery County.
The workgroup studied reports of the effects of fracking in, among others, the neighboring state of Pennsylvania. One method of waste water disposal has been injecting the water into open lands. The result: earthquakes. Emptied into ponds, the waste leaves toxic chemicals on the bottom, while some evaporate into the air. Effects on health are both predictable and startling. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found increases in such problems as premature births, asthma, and migraine headaches, as well as cardiac hospitalizations.
Two companion bills are being introduced in the Maryland Legislature, one by Senator Robert Zirkin (SB740 Oil and Natural Gas - Hydraulic Fracturing - Prohibition) and the other by Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo himself on behalf of the workgroup. Although Senator Zirkin's bill has 23 cosponsors, it faces powerful opposition from the Committee Chair, Senator Joan Carter Conway (Democrat; D 43; Baltimore City); the natural gas industry; and large landholders who would benefit from the sale of their land. Some see this as an opportunity to grow jobs in an area with an economy focused on tourism. However, the industry would create only specialized or temporary and low-waged jobs, while the pollution would harm tourism.
Tim Whitehouse, Executive Director of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)
PSR's 310 members-health professionals and advocates-have voted to support a fracking ban, based on the scientific evidence. According to their Executive Director, in Pennsylvania nondisclosure agreements have kept victims of fracking's side effects from speaking out if they want compensation for the damage to their health.
Mr. Whitehouse stressed two points:
Although industry marketing has suggested otherwise, natural gas is not a bridge fuel for transition to clean energy. Its toxins are 670 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
2. Based on the early information we are getting from over 900 studies in peer-reviewed publications, we need to "stand up for the science" and build a sense of urgency to fight the oil and gas industry. We should argue that developing clean energy is not cost-prohibitive if we allocate our financial resources appropriately. The industry, he said, is not well-regulated. He cited leaks of toxic methane from pipes and as much as 50 percent of gas escaping from old wells. He also expressed frustration with the misuse of data from the EPA and the Pennsylvania Environmental Department. In many cases the industry has misinterpreted "not enough data" to mean "no problem" and fought to suppress evidence of complaints about water pollution.
Josh Tulkin, Director of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club
"We need to reframe the question," Mr. Tulkin began. He believes we should be speaking positively about the energy choices we want to make, not those we oppose. Maryland has been moving forward with clean energy decisions, recently overriding the Governor's veto of a bill mandating that the state get 25 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.
The Empower Maryland program which requires utilities to increase their efficiency by one percent each year has been such a success that the utilities themselves have set a new goal of two percent. That new goal will be codified into law this year. So, Mr. Tulkin asks, "why mine for natural gas when we are so forward looking?" Unlike the gas industry, the electricity sector is highly regulated (rates, placement of power lines).
Some other questions for the natural gas industry: Why, Mr. Tulkin wants to know, should the industry enlarge its infrastructure here in Maryland as it wishes when we have an oversupply of natural gas nationally? Why do we need four new power plants in the state, one in a highly populated area in lower Prince Georges County?
Mr. Tulkin then stressed again the problems associated with fracking; that is, illnesses such as asthma, earthquakes from injection of wastes (once laughed at, now validated), and dumping. Our water treatment plants, he added, do not have the capacity to treat the "extra burden" of this kind of waste water. Moreover, the already understaffed Maryland Department of the Environment cannot keep up inspecting the system we have now and are late in producing regulations and required reports.
Declared Mr. Tulkin, "The default should be on public health and clean energy." Although Senator Conway says she does not believe in banning something that does not exist, he believes a wait and see attitude on fracking regarding future tests leaves the whole system in suspension. In spite of the senator's reluctance, the Senate bill is "looking good," especially since polling numbers support a fracking ban. Citizen involvement has in fact encouraged some local bans. He urged us all to speak out because "advocacy can make the difference."
Q and A
In answer to questions the panel defined the opposition and urged us to use social media, thank legislators who supported the override vote, and discuss the issue on our Advocacy Day. We should also write letters to the editor, particularly local papers but also The Washington Post, which has suggested regulation rather than a ban. Mr. Tulkin mentioned the Cove Point export facility and the "We are Cove Point" group fighting it.
Other questions and comments addressed cost estimates for earthquakes caused by fracking, a bill to require clean energy options for buyers of homes or condos, and the need for a totally fact-based message for press releases.
FEBRUARY HAPPY HOUR REPORT
by Enid Light
The February 9th WDC Happy Hour was held at the Bethesda Lebanese Taverna. We had a great turnout! We filled our usual table, the bar and extra seating! Even more exciting-about 3/4 of the attendees were new members!!
Lots of cheers when the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously refused to reinstate the travel ban. While we were celebrating this news several people submitted their membership forms to Enid Light, our Membership and Outreach Co-Chair.
Happy Hour lasted well past 7pm as there was a lot of discussion, planning and bonding going on. A number of attendees signed up to help WDC register voters in Northern Virginia on March 11. WDC is volunteering with the New Virginia Majority Education Fund to register voters.
Thanks to Riki Poster Sheehan for being the Board host and welcoming everyone and to Teddi Pensinger for special announcements.
Oh, yeah- in honor of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), we persevered.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CENTRAL COMMITTEE'S ANNUAL BRUNCH
by Enid Light
Only one reason to be inside on such a beautiful spring-like day- To join the WDC table at the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee Annual Brunch on Sunday, February 19
at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center! And it did not disappoint! Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) gave a rousing keynote speech. Turnout was huge and we greatly appreciate our elected officials, our future electeds and all the grassroots Democrats who will protect our constitutional rights, the environment and put love, compassion and justice above greed and power.
WDC Members with State Sen. Susan Lee
WDC ADVOCACY DAY IN ANNAPOLIS
by Fran Rothstein and Emily Shetty, WDC Advocacy Committee Co-Chairs
WDC members are now "Annapolis veterans." On Tuesday, February 21, members of our club learned how Annapolis works, observed and testified at House and Senate sessions and committee hearings, met face-to-face with legislators, and advocated for WDC's 2017 legislative priorities.
More than 35 participants from all across Montgomery County, including several brand-new members, spent a productive day at the State House, making a difference for Maryland's women and families.
District 15 Delegate Aruna Miller greeted us in her capacity as the President of Women Legislators of Maryland, and presented WDC with a Maryland flag along with a note: "Thank you for your dynamic leadership and for your dedication to make Maryland a better place for all!" After she spoke, one WDC member was overheard saying, "If Maryland Dems are looking to elect the first woman governor in our state, they couldn't ask for a better candidate than Aruna Miller."
We learned how Annapolis works, and how to work Annapolis, from WDC member and former Chief of Staff to Jamie Raskin, Alice Wilkerson, who is now with Public Policy Partners. Alice cautioned that Annapolis isn't like Capitol Hill - even though the Democrats control both houses of the legislature by comfortable margins, Annapolis policy makers try for bipartisan legislation; they emphasize the merits of their policies without disparaging the opposition. How refreshing! Armed with our new knowledge about how a bill becomes a law and how to advocate most effectively for our priorities, WDC members headed off to House and Senate sessions, where a proclamation welcoming us was read in each chamber. Some of us then met with our Senators, others toured the State House.
Nearly 30 state legislators from around the state joined us for lunch. Sen. Nancy King and Del. Shane Robinson, leaders of the Montgomery County Senate and House delegations respectively, welcomed our group. Most of the legislators took the time to summarize their key bills and ask us to support them. WDC is already on record in support of specific bills in four issue areas (health care, criminal justice, employment and economic security, and children and youth); we gained new insights into those bills, and also learned about the proposed TRUST Act (to prohibit implementation of a Muslim registry and to provide protections to foreign-born residents in the face of the Trump administration's immigration crackdown).Click here to view WDC's legislative priorities.
After lunch, participants attended committee hearings and met with their Delegates. In an afternoon highlight, participants packed the hearing room as Lynn Olson, our criminal justice issues captain, testified before the House Judiciary Committee in support of HB 429, Del. Kathleen Dumais' bill clarifying that rape victims don't have to have physically resisted in order for rape charges to be brought.
||Sen. Rich Madaleno. and some WDC members.
We headed back to Montgomery County with Sen. King's words ringing in our ears: "WDC is one of the most effective groups we hear from. Keep up the good work!"
Note: If you are interested in helping with our advocacy efforts, please sign up for our Advocacy Alerts by emailing
WDC Advocacy Committee co-chair Emily Shetty (
) with the subject line "WDC advocacy alerts."
GANDHI BRIGADE YOUTH MEDIA REPORT
by Lucy Freeman
A group of WDC members gathered February 23
at the home of board member Emily Shetty to see two documentaries
produced by Gandhi Brigade. Gandhi Brigade Youth Media is an after school program that empowers young people to use multimedia as tools to promote community building, multicultural understanding and the common good. It now has weekly programs in seven county public libraries. Evan Glass is the Executive Director.
Over five weeks in the summer of 2015, seven young men from Blair HS produced the documentary "Juvenile Justice: the Road to Reform", which grew out of the unrest in Baltimore and the country. Part of the film was an interview by the students with Attorney General Brian Frosh. Alix, Zeenab, and Alyssa showed us the documentary "To Serve and Protect?" they made the summer of 2016 about police conduct in the communities they serve. They shared with us their roles: script writing, editing, interviewing, and narrating. All three said their views of police changed during the film production to a more balanced view of the police and community.
Office Richard Reynold and Elijah Wheeler, Director of Social Justice Programming for the Montgomery County Collaboration Council, shared with us their views on policing and issues in the community. Following the election, there was a large increase of hate messaging and vandalism in the county. The training of the police is now emphasizing de-escalation and community engagement. There are more meetings with the police and the communities. Mr. Wheeler emphasized each person must speak up when hate occurs.
CONSUMER HEALTH FIRST UPDATE
by Mary Lou Fox, Consumer Health First
Affordable Care Act: Repeal/Replace/Repair
No matter which term is used by those who wish to unwind the ACA, or which policy proposal is adopted, the impact on consumers would almost certainly be negative. This applies both to those now able to purchase a Qualified Health Plan with a subsidy, as well as those who have benefited from the Medicaid expansion. But, equally important, it would also be damaging to millions of others, including those who receive employer-sponsored insurance and seniors on Medicare.
Each day new ideas surface on the future of the ACA, including:
- House Republican leaders recently released the Obamacare Repeal and Replace Policy Brief and Resources, with the core message that the ACA has failed and "we have a better way." The reality is quite the opposite. In its statement, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote that "the document reveals that House Republicans still seek to repeal the ACA without putting forward a real replacement plan."
- Underlying their plan is a move to "restructure and cut" Medicaid financing and coverage. If they were to achieve this, Medicaid as we know it would be gone and any effort to restore it in the future would be nearly impossible. Here's what Families USA has to say on the issue.
- Want to compare all of the proposals? Kaiser Family Foundation has prepared a useful tool to do that.
Get involved and stay involved!
In Maryland, Consumer Health First is very active working with our Congressional Delegation as well as our legislators in Annapolis.
edited by Bonnie Wicklund
, the WDC co-chair of Membership and Outreach, was born in Brooklyn, but grew up in Washington, D.C. She received her BA in English literature and her MA in secondary education from George Washington University, and later earned a doctorate in human development from the University of Maryland. During a career of more than forty years at the National Institute of Mental Health, she published numerous articles and edited scientific books on such topics as aging, caregiver stress, mental health program evaluation, substance abuse. Serving as Associate Director for Research Training and Career Development, and being detailed to the NIH Fogarty International Center-which advances health research globally- were career highlights.
After retiring, Enid was invited by her friend Teddi Pensinger to join the WDC-a wonderful decision opening up opportunities to become active politically. Enid is also passionate about animal rights, and is a committed vegetarian.
I've belonged to the same neighborhood book club for about 10 years. The standing joke is that I never read any of the books! I really like humorous "chick lit" mysteries, but I also still read science journals.
I like light mystery shows such as the Miss Fisher Mystery series, and I love Adam Levine of "The Voice" on NBC.
OTHER VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES
Taking care of feral cats. I've been involved in trap, neuter and return programs, and in rehabilitation of feral cats and kittens to become house cats. Takes a lot of patience!
I admire the unabashed progressiveness of politicians like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Jamie Raskin.
POLITICAL HIGH POINT
Right now we have both high and low points. Montgomery County is rich in political talent, and we are blessed with elected officials who will stand up for justice in difficult times. I believe that it is not the good times but the hard times when we must put everything on the line for ourselves, our children, our country, our planet. So it is a high point to have the right people in the right places during these treacherous times.
URGENT POLITICAL ISSUE
There are three urgent political issues: First, impeachment. Second, rebuilding the infrastructure-physical, environmental, political, educational, social-of the country and the Democratic party. Third, healing the country.
SOCIAL MEDIA UPDATE - WE'RE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER!
WDC also has a Twitter account!
Our Twitter handle is @WomenDems.
Be sure to follow us!
| VOLUNTEERS: IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Sharing your skills and expertise with us and joining a committee are fun ways to meet other members and make new friends while helping the Club accomplish its goals. We especially need volunteers to help with new member recruitment as part of the Membership & Outreach Committee and we need writers to prepare articles for our newsletter and photographers for our Facebook page and newsletter.
Do you have ideas for future programs? Do you know someone who would be a great speaker at a future WDC event? If so, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
lso, our Education Committee is seeking ideas for future programs in the Montgomery 101 series; if you have issues or subjects about the county you would like to learn about or study, please email Lucy Freeman at
or call 301-654-8115
Keeping members better informed, better connected and more politically effective since 1957