December 2023

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We hope that everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday that unites us. As Americans, we all celebrate it regardless of our differences in ethnicity, race, religion, or political opinions.  It gives us a brief moment to remember that we are ultimately more united as a country than divided, even in these divisive times.

As Democrats, we need to be especially clearheaded and committed to our fundamental unity, even as current events threaten to wedge us apart. Last month’s newsletter expressed concern that, among other things, whatever might happen in the Middle East conflict in the aftermath of Hamas’ horrendous October 7 attack on civilians in Israel, it would make our already-discordant politics here in the US even more divisive. That prediction is coming true with increasing intensity every day. Tragically, much of this division is happening within our own ranks. Regardless of our own individual opinions about the Israel-Hamas conflict, we as Democrats (as well as others who share our concern for democracy in America) need to maintain our commitment to working together to protect our fragile democracy here at home. Despite our differences we cannot afford to lose that focus.

Beyond just these words, what does maintaining our commitment mean in terms of our actions? Among other things, it means continuing to support Democrats as the party that can best govern us, even if we have grievances. It means supporting President Biden because he has gotten so much done to move the country forward; ignore the noise of polls (see below) and the chatter about his age; step up to support the organizations that are doing the hard work at the grassroots level. Finally, it means talking to your friends about the urgency of supporting Democrats. We should all educate ourselves so that we don’t shirk from conversations about politics with our friends and family. No matter what complaints you may have with specific Democratic policies or candidates, they pale when compared to the possibility of having the Donald Trump back in power or the Republicans holding more seats in the Senate or House of Representatives. 

So put working for our democracy at the top of your list of New Year’s resolutions. There’s plenty to do and there are plenty of ways to do it. Stay tuned as we and many others put out calls for your help.

With gratitude for your support this year and best wishes for 2024,

Your faithful editor 


The entire slate of Democratic candidates won in the municipal elections on November 7. The candidates included incumbents as well as several newcomers, who are essential to the vitality of our government. We were also gratified that David Valcin, who was not able to run this year on the Democratic ticket, was re-elected as chair of the school board, where he has done an outstanding job.

For the complete summary of election results, please go to the CT Secretary of the State website.

What about you? Salisbury’s government is fueled by the participation of its citizens who step forward to serve on various town boards and commissions. The Salisbury Democratic Town Committee (SDTC) stands for good government and fosters and nominates candidates for town government. We are always looking for candidates who would like to serve. If you are interested in learning more about standing for public office, please contact Al Ginouves.


Democrats made significant gains in several states on Election Day, extending a winning trend in elections, most significantly at the state level. Here’s some of what Democrats achieved:

  • Gained control of both legislative houses in Virginia, denying GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin the trifecta he needs to pass regressive legislation

  • Re-elected Democratic Governor Andy Beshear in Kentucky, who is a bulwark against the GOP-controlled state legislature

  • Held onto a Pennsylvania state Supreme Court seat in Pennsylvania

  • Passed “Issue 1” in Ohio, which will enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution

These Democratic successes didn’t just happen. They happened because of the efforts of thousands of volunteers who did the hard work required to win elections: phonebanking, postcarding, texting, registering voters, writing letters to the editor, knocking on doors, and writing checks, among other activities. We owe our deepest thanks to them – including many in our own community who rolled up their sleeves to pitch in. If you think you can’t make a difference, read this from Robert Hubbell who writes the clearheaded and inspirational Substack newsletter

"We shape the future by the accretion of small acts of resistance and faith. Postcards. Calls. Texts. Knocks. Yard signs. Registrations. Small donations. Big donations. Zooms. Backyard gatherings. Protests. Letters. Kitchen table conversations. Curing ballots. Litigating. Not being afraid to be seen and heard as a proud Democrat."


Just when you thought we could take a break, here’s another action that needs your help. Promote The Vote PA is working on a voter education and research project among Philadelphia voters – and you can help from anywhere. A record number of voters in Philadelphia requested mail-in ballots for the 2023 General Election. However, many of them did not return their ballots to be counted while others did not follow ballot instructions and their ballots were rejected. Help reach out to these voters and gather info that will allow voting advocates to help make voting easier and empower voters for future elections. These are easy calls because you will be contacting voters who wanted to vote, but did not cast their ballots or had their ballots rejected. Training will be provided. Please consider giving an hour or two to this initiative. You can sign up for sessions by clicking here.


Should we pay attention to some of the recent polls that have said that President Biden is trailing Donald Trump in a theoretical rematch? No, and we should also ignore any polls that show President Biden or any of our other candidates leading their rivals. Whether the polls are correct or not (and who's to say?), the real question to ask is, “Should they cause us to change what we are doing to protect our democracy?” When physicians order medical tests, they do it because the results will be used to diagnose a medical condition and determine a course of action, a treatment. By contrast, polls do nothing to change what we do as individuals working for democracy. We should work just as diligently, whether a poll says that our candidate or cause is ahead or behind. As a cautionary tale, remember what happened in 2016 when polls showed Hillary Clinton a sure winner over Donald Trump? For more reasons to ignore the polls, read this opinion piece, “I don’t write about polls. You shouldn’t bother with them, either,” by Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post.


The recent death of former first lady Rosalynn Carter, at age 96, should make us take a moment to reflect on the life of this extraordinary woman. Born into difficult circumstances, she became the most active first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt, according to The New York Times. Former President Carter said simply, “Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.” Her characterization of herself as “more of a political wife than a politician’s wife,” rings true when seen against her accomplishments. She was a frequent attendee at cabinet meetings and held a weekly political lunch with her husband, who admitted that his political instincts were not as astute as hers. Though she did not identify as a feminist, she proposed lists of women as equals of men as candidates for judicial and other government appointments. She championed mental health as equally important as physical health, resulting in legislation financing community mental health centers and, eventually, under President George W. Bush, insurance coverage of mental illness. When Jimmy Carter lost the presidency in 1980, Rosalynn helped him emerge from his post-presidency depression to build a long post-White House career of meaningful change, including the founding of the Carter Center to promote peace, conflict resolution, and eradicate disease. And once a year, she and the ex-President devoted a week building homes with Habitat for Humanity, ultimately working on over 4,000 homes across the world. There is so much more to remember and reflect upon in the life of Rosalynn Carter. Please read her obituary in The New York Times and Jonathan Alter’s guest essay in the Times, "The Formidable Rosalynn Carter."


The number of households separating their food waste and delivering it to the Transfer Station for composting has grown to close to 400 (out of a total of approximately 1800 households in Salisbury and Sharon combined), according to the program’s manager, Barbara Bettigole. And the impact is significant. For example, in the month of October, 64,700 pounds of food scraps were recovered from the waste stream. According to the EPA, that is the equivalent avoiding 39,467 pounds of CO2, which is the equivalent of 40,264 miles of driving!


Two restaurants, The Black Rabbit and Le Gamin, are currently diverting their food waste, thanks to volunteers who deliver those scraps to the Transfer Station. Meanwhile, The White Hart is about to begin exploring site-specific strategies for diverting its food waste. You can help: If you are a patron of these places, express your hearty support for their waste management efforts. And if you are a patron of other restaurants, urge them to join the initiative to divert food waste.


The Transfer Station Manager and the Transfer Station Recycling Advisory Committee (TRAC) will continue to pursue grant proposals and consider plans that would incentivize more restaurants, schools, facilities, and other food-waste generators to join the food-waste diversion effort. For more information about the program, please email Barbara Bettigole at [email protected].  


The state has repaid the $1.2 billion Unemployment Trust Fund loan that was used to cover nearly $11 billion in pandemic unemployment payments. The pandemic debt retirement ensures that CT employers will avoid an increase in the federal unemployment taxes they pay beginning January 1, 2024. Over the past two years, Governor Lamont and the CT General Assembly directed $195 million in federal monies from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into the Unemployment Trust Fund and special assessments to mitigate the ongoing financial damage employers faced as a result of the pandemic.

The Unemployment Trust Fund, administered by the Connecticut Department of Labor, is funded solely through employer quarterly taxes and is the designated account from which all unemployment benefits are paid. 


Eversource customers in CT facing financial hardship may be eligible for the following programs to help manage and cut their electric bills: 

  • New Low-Income Discount Rate allows eligible customers, depending on household income, to receive 10-50% off their electric bills. Customers can learn more and see if they qualify by consulting Eversource’s bill help page.

  • The Matching Payment Program allows customers enrolled in the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) to receive a credit from Eversource for every dollar they pay and receive from CEAP.

  • The New Start Program forgives overdue balances if monthly budget payments are made on time.

  • Medical Protection Plan protects residential customers from disconnections if a household member has a certified serious or life-threatening illness.

To find out about these and other Eversource programs, customers can visit the company’s bill help page or call (800) 286-2828. 

Consumers who take advantage of these Eversource’s programs are also still eligible for the following other energy assistance programs:

  • The Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) provides a basic benefit to help pay heating bills. Apply online at or visit your local Community Action Agency. 

  • Operation Fuel offers year-round emergency energy assistance for heating expenses for qualified households. Click to learn more


The Salisbury Democratic Town Committee - No meeting in December.

The next meeting will be on January 16 at 7pm.

December 1 at 7:30pm: Our Pandemic Future in a Rapidly Changing World -- sponsored by the Salisbury Forum. This event will take place at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Dr. James Shepherd, a faculty physician at Yale University, will lead a forum on how the world must confront infectious diseases in the 21st century. Dr. Shepherd has spent the last two decades as an infectious disease specialist, including in Africa and India treating HIV and TB, and managing public health systems and disease outbreaks. He is also a farmer in Sharon, growing hops for local brewers and raising cows and sheep. With his broad experience as a doctor and a farmer, Dr. Shepherd provides a unique perspective on epidemics, the changing environment, and the place of our species among the community of animals, plants, and pathogens. For more information click here.

December 6 at 7pm: Update on Ukraine -

An online discussion with former New York Times foreign correspondent and former Ukraine reporter James Brooke. Presented by the Osher LIfelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College (OLLI) via Zoom, this program is free and open to all. Veteran foreign correspondent James Brooke is back to give another in-depth analysis of the war in Ukraine. Brooke draws on his14 years living and working Kyiv and Moscow -- as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, the Voice of America, Bloomberg and several business news outlets. Register here for this free event. This event will be recorded and posted to the OLLI's YouTube channel. See past updates from James Brooke on Ukraine in a YouTube playlist.

December 10 at 3pm: Book Talk about The Fabulist: The Lying, Hustling, Grifting, Stealing, and Very American Legend of George Santos (published by Simon & Schuster) with the author, Mark Chiusano. The talk will take place at the Colonial Theatre in Canaan, CT. While a reporter for Newsday, Chiusano was one of the first to break the Santos story. Drawing on the best of boots-on-the-ground journalism, The Fabulist tells the bizarre, page-turning, and frankly hysterical story of America’s most outrageous grifter. The discussion will be moderated by Will Yakowicz, who covers the vice beat for Forbes. The author will be signing books after the program. Copies of The Fabulist will be available for purchase at this event, courtesy of Oblong Books. The event is free, but space is limited so please click to reserve your seat. For more information, please email [email protected]. (Full disclosure: Mark Chiusano is a relative of this newsletter's editor, Lee Greenhouse, who is one of the event organizers.)

December 15 from 5-6pm: Candlelight Vigil to Remember the Victims of Sandy Hook. The event takes place on the green in front of the White Hart. Sophia and Lee deBoer first organized a vigil within days of the Sandy Hook tragedy and have been holding vigils on or near the anniversary in the 11 years since then. The event will include remarks from the Rev. John Nelson and Rep. Maria Horn, as well as some appropriate songs. It will conclude with the ringing of bells to remember those who died at Sandy Hook. Please bring your own candle.


How the Israel-Hamas War is Dividing Us. As we noted at the top of this newsletter, the Israel-Hamas conflict is exposing divisions in our ranks. The Democratic coalition once seemed united in its staunch, unquestioning support for Israel now seems to be cracking, revealing generational and ideological rifts in the Democratic Party. Read more in this article from The New Yorker.

Between Israelis and Palestinians, a Lethal Psychological Chasm Grows. While many people have pointed to the Israel-Hamas war as proof that the long-running Israel-Palestine conflict cannot be solved until there is a two-state solution guaranteeing peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians, the war itself is a symptom of how far both sides have drifted away from finding common ground. In a cogent new analysis, The New York Times’ Roger Cohen discusses how, in the Israel-Hamas War, a conflict marked by complete incomprehension on both sides, the ability to see each other as human has been lost. Read his analysis here. 

Shocking Court Ruling Bars Groups or Citizens From Seeking to Enforce Voting Rights Law. In a big setback for voting rights, a federal appeals court shocked voting rights groups with a recent ruling that only the US government, not outside groups or citizens, can sue to enforce the provisions of the Voting Rights Act. That civil rights law, which outlaws racial discrimination related to voting, has typically been enforced by lawsuits from these groups, not by the government itself. This 2-1 ruling by the Republican-appointed eighth circuit court of appeals has called into question the “private right of action.” The ruling stemmed from a case brought by the Arkansas State Conference NAACP and Arkansas Public Policy Panel over new maps created during redistricting that the two groups allege diluted the voting power of Black voters in the state. While courts at all levels have allowed private claims seeking to enforce the Voting Rights Act for decades, this is an “assumption that rests of flimsy footing,” according to the opinion written by Judge David Stras, who was appointed by Donald Trump. Read more about this setback for voting rights in this article from The Guardian.

Get to Know the Influential Conservative Intellectuals Who Help Explain GOP Extremism. Meet the rogues' gallery of GOP intellectuals who are on the leading edge in shaping the party's extremist thinking. You probably don't know most of these thinkers and their ideas, but you should: Michael Anton of the far-right Claremont Institute, Curtis Yarvin, a far-right Silicon Valley tech guru, Stephen Wolfe, a Christian nationalist, and John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who developed legal theories to try to justify Donald Trump's stealing the 2020 election. If Donald Trump gets re-elected these thinkers will likely be at the center of the new administration's thinking. Get to know them in this New York Times article.


Here's our monthly dose of good news to remind us that while the struggle to make the world better can be hard and frustrating, we are making positive steps forward. Our thanks again goes to Jessica Craven and her Chop Wood, Carry Water newsletter for these bits of good news and encouragement:

  • Indonesia plans to convert nearly half a million acres of oil palm plantations back into forests in an effort to mitigate climate change. In Guam, drones are re-seeding watersheds devastated by wildfires, saving time, money, and labor. Brazil raised $2 billion in its first-ever “green” bond, highlighting investors’ backing of the country’s ambitious environmental agenda.

  • Portugal just ran on 100% renewables for six days in a row. For nearly a week, the country of 10 million met customer needs with wind, hydro, and solar — a test run for operating the grid without fossil fuels.

  • European Union officials agreed this week on rules that will require fossil-fuel companies to track and fix methane leaks in their infrastructure, a pervasive problem that is seen as one of the most impactful near-term measures the energy industry can take on climate change.  

  • Toyota signed what is likely to become a multi-billion dollar deal to buy recycled electric vehicle battery (EV) components from US-based recycling firm Redwood Materials. Sourcing from the US will help Toyota EVs remain eligible for federal tax credits.

  • Despite recent headlines declaring the industry stagnant or moribund, the US electric-vehicle market is actually having a very robust year. Through the first nine months of the year, EV sales were up nearly 50%, surpassing the full-year total for 2022.

  • Illinois approved a bill that will transition state government vehicles to electric models by 2030.  

  • The Biden administration announced $6 billion in federal investments into new and expanded programs to reduce flood risk, advance environmental justice, and bolster the aging US electric grid—money that Congress had previously made available in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure act and other legislation.  

  • The US Army overturned convictions of 110 Black soldiers who were wrongfully arrested in 1917. A military review found the soldiers were not given fair trials and were wrongly treated because of their race. Records will now be reclassified to characterize their military service as honorable. 

  • Gov. Maura Healey signed a bill making Massachusetts the fifth state to make prison phone calls free statewide, and the first state to include provisions for free calls from county jails. Meanwhile, Michigan lawmakers passed a bill which would be the first law in the nation to require a state to register people to vote when they’re released from prison.  

  • Michigan’s legislature just passed legislation requiring disclosures on political ads that use artificial intelligence (AI) and punishing campaigns for using intentionally deceptive AI materials known as “deepfakes.”  

  • Illinois became the first state ever to end an existing private school voucher program, which diverted public funds to private, mostly religious schools. Meanwhile, lawmakers at the Texas State Capitol rejected a bill that included vouchers to attend private school --- a huge defeat for Gov. Gregg Abbott, who was a lead proponent of the bill.

  • The anti-abortion activists who were found guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act were unsuccessful in their attempts to overturn their convictions. 

  • Emboldened by success in other red states, Nebraska activists are launching a ballot initiative to enshrine abortion rights in Nebraska’s state constitution.

  • After days of counting provisional ballots, Justin Douglas was declared the winner in a race for county commissioner in Dauphin County, PA – flipping that body to blue for the first time in at least 100 years.   

  • After massive community blowback, Sherman High School in Texas decided to proceed with its original production of Oklahoma! as initially planned before the school’s controversial decision to remove transgender student Max Hightower from his role and to adopt a more watered-down version.  


Please send us any news or announcements that you would like us to share with our community. We publish on the first of each month, so please send us any submissions at least one week earlier. Please submit to the editor at


Please help us reach more people by sending it along to your friends and recommending that they join our free mailing list at the top. We are delighted to have readers from anywhere -- Salisbury, Northwest Connecticut, or anywhere else in the world.

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Paid for by the Salisbury Democratic Town Committee,

PO Box 465, Salisbury CT 06068, Pamela Kelley, Treasurer

Editor: Lee Greenhouse, [email protected]

Associate Editor: Sally Andre


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