January 2024

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Welcome to a new year! It can seem a bit corny to make New Year’s resolutions, but there is a lot at stake in this election year and it’s ultimately up to each one of us to do whatever we can to protect our democracy and elect the leaders who reflect our values. So please read below for our suggested New Year’s resolutions. Also below are vital facts about the strength of our economy under President Biden, a reality that is often underplayed by the media. We need to become "information warriors" sharing these facts as we talk to our family and friends. Similarly, we need to trumpet how our Democratic-led statehouse has advanced the progressive agenda here in Connecticut with important new legislation (see below).

This month's issue also highlights some of the great work and achievements of legal champions who are using state and federal courts to fight for voting rights in states across our country. These lawyers are winning a significant number of their battles. As always, please see In Case You Missed It (below) for some of the articles this month – alarming and uplifting -- that we found especially relevant to our work.

Don’t miss Things You Can Do Now (below) for initiatives that need our immediate help. First up are postcarding and phonebanking initiatives to support Democrat Tom Suozzi in the February 13 special election for the New York Congressional seat vacated by disgraced and indicted GOP former Congressman George Santos. With our help, this seat is winnable, so please consider rolling up your sleeves. Meanwhile, Kathy Voldstad and our friends at Saving Democracy, our local activist group, are working on plans for action in 2024. Stay tuned!

Finally, please read to the end for an inspiring collection of news about ways that the world actually got better in 2023.

I look forward to working with you for a successful 2024.

As always,

Your faithful editor 


As you enjoy whatever is left of your holidays, we would like to suggest making these resolutions to protect and advance our democracy:

  1. Spread the word about Democratic achievements – If the media is slow to recognize the positive results of Democratic leadership, we need to fill the gap by talking to our families and friends. Please see our articles below about how well the US economy is doing under President Biden and the important legislation enacted in CT under Democratic leadership. Things really do get better under Democrats.
  2. Shut down negative chatter – Criticizing our candidates gives our friends and families an excuse not to vote for them, either by voting for GOP candidates or by sitting out the election. The democratic process doesn’t always present us with the choices we would most like, but acting like spoiled children because we didn’t get exactly what we wanted is political suicide.
  3. Work for change – Politics is not a spectator sport. We win when we roll up our sleeves and put in the hard work at the grassroots level. Adopt an activity that can help make change. Hint: It’s a lot more fun when you stick with an activity. Over time, your knowledge and skills will actually grow, making you more effective and, in turn, more gratified by the work and by the friends you will make in being part of a community of change-makers. For a quick start to the new year, please see Things You Can Do Now (below) for some immediate initiatives that need our help.
  4. Don’t ignore local politics – It’s where the leaders of tomorrow start. Today’s president, senator, or governor was yesterday’s city council member, mayor, or state rep. Help the good guys make their way up the ladder and make sure the bad actors aren’t allowed on the ladder at all.


There has been a growing set of criticism leveled at the media for failing to give enough attention to the positive state of the US economy under President Biden. It may be true that the media in general -- and right-wing media in particular -- traffics more in negative than positive news. That means that we need to become "information warriors," using facts to fill the gap and counter the dis-information that our opponents use to paint a pessimistic picture and spread dissatisfaction with the Democrats. For starters, let's master the economic facts and make sure that everyone around us is aware of these economic realities:

Inflation is way down and rents have started to decline, while gas and energy prices have come down, too. The Fed has announced that it will start cutting interest rates. The US has had the strongest COVID recovery of any country in the G7 (advanced economies). Job growth is strong -- the best in nearly 60 years -- and we have the lowest peacetime unemployment rate since World War II. Our gross domestic product (GDP) has grown at more than 3% during the Biden presidency, including at a rate of more than 5% last quarter.

The stock market is up (The Dow recently hit an all-time high). That’s not just good news for rich people. More US households than ever (58%) own stocks, either directly or through mutual funds. A higher stock market makes millions of US families wealthier. Also, new business formations are up, most notably among Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs.

And don't forget about student loan debt, which is a huge burden to millions of young Americans: $132 billion in student loan debt, affecting more than 3.6 million Americans, has been canceled under Joe Biden. At the same time, the White House has increased federal Pell Grants, allowing low- and middle-income students to advance their educations with less debt.

This is the kind of positive economic news that we should all be talking about – even if the media is slow to do so.  Your family and friends are as likely to listen to you as they are to listen to the media, so your voice really can have impact. 


The Region 1 Board of Education has approved a $5.64 million bond issue and has sent it for approval to voters in the six towns that comprise our regional school district. The funds will cover infrastructure repairs and upgrades to Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Please vote YES to approve the bond issue.

You are eligible to vote on this referendum if 1) you are registered to vote in the Town of Salisbury or 2) are a US citizen, age 18 or older, who, jointly or severally, is liable to the Town of Salisbury for taxes of at least $1,000. Note that corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, trusts, and other legal entities are not US citizens.

Voting will take place at Town Hall on January 8 from 6am to 8pm. Absentee ballots can be requested from the Town Clerk by mail or in person. If you are requesting the ballot in person, you can make one trip to Town Hall to pick up and vote your ballot on the spot. Every vote matters, so please make a plan to vote.

For more information, please contact the Town Clerk at (860) 435-5182.


Thanks to the efforts of State Rep. Maria Horn and our Democratic-led statehouse, we can celebrate some important new laws enacted during 2023. Links to the legislation are provided and Maria Horn’s office welcomes emails or phone calls from anyone who wants more details. 


Early Voting: PA 23-5 allows for a 14-day early voting period for general elections, a seven-day period for most primaries, and a four-day early voting period for special elections and presidential preference primaries. 


Hospice and Palliative Care: PA 23-174 includes the creation of a pilot program, Hospice Hospital at Home, to provide in-home hospice care to patients through in-person visits and telehealth.


Maternal Health: PA 23-147 establishes a new license category for freestanding birth centers, an Infant Mortality Relief Program to review medical records and other data on infant deaths, and a midwifery working group to study and make recommendations on advancing choices for community birth care.  


Online Privacy, Data, and Security ProtectionPA 23-56 makes various changes to data privacy and related laws, including provisions on consumer health data, minors’ social media accounts and online services, and online dating operators. It also creates a task force on internet crimes against children.

Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD): Among many supportive measures, PA 23-137 creates a plan to establish a program for transitional life skills to support certain people with IDD who are transitioning out of high school or to independent living.

Workers Compensation for Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries: PA 23-35 expands eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress injuries to all employees covered by the workers’ compensation law.

Minimum Wage: As a result of legislation passed in 2019, effective January 1, CT's minimum wage goes from $15.00 to $15.69 per hour. Future adjustments are tied to the percentage change in the federal employment cost index.

Please thank Maria Horn and our other state Democratic leaders for enacting these important laws.


January 11 at 7pm: Jefferson Cowie on Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power. Presented free by the Berkshire OLLI via Zoom. In his new book, Vanderbilt historian Professor Jefferson Cowie tells the dramatic tale of generations of local fights against the federal government to prop up a particular version of American freedom: the freedom to oppress others. He tells this national story by generalizing from the history of Barbour County in Alabama, beginning with the locals’ oppression of the County’s Creek people, on through Barbour County native Governor George Wallace’s infamous 1963 exhortation of “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever,” and beyond. Click here to register.

January 16: Salisbury Democratic Town Committee (SDTC)

  • 7:00pm: Caucus for Party-Endorsement of Salisbury Democratic Town Committee Members for two-year terms beginning on March 6, 2024. This meeting will be at Town Hall. The SDTC is committed to promoting good government and democratic principles at every level of our civic life. The SDTC recruits candidates for local elective and appointed offices and supports the most qualified Democrats to run in municipal, state, and national elections. The caucus is open to all registered Democrats in Salisbury (membership in the SDTC is not required), but voting at the caucus is only by in-person attendees.

  • 7:15pm: Monthly Meeting of the SDTC. This meeting will be held at Town Hall immediately following the caucus (above). This meeting will be a hybrid Zoom/in-person meeting. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of every month and are open to the public. The SDTC welcomes the input of all citizens. Contact Al Ginouves to receive a copy of the agenda and the link to the meeting.

January 31 at 7pm: Bill McKibben on Climate and Justice. Presented free by the Berkshire OLLI via Zoom. Bill McKibben is founder of Third Act, which organizes people over the age of 60 for action on climate and justice. His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He serves as the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College. He was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the alternative Nobel, in the Swedish Parliament. McKibben helped found, the first global grassroots climate campaign, which has organized protests on every continent, including Antarctica, for climate action. Click here to register.


Wisconsin Trump Electors Agree Biden Won in 2020. In a legal settlement last month, the 10 Republicans who signed official-looking paperwork falsely purporting that Donald Trump won Wisconsin in the 2020 election have agreed to withdraw their inaccurate filings, acknowledge Joe Biden won the presidency, and not serve as presidential electors in 2024 or in any election where Trump is on the ballot. This civil settlement marks the first time pro-Trump electors have agreed to revoke their false filings and comes as Republicans in two other states face criminal charges for falsely claiming to be presidential electors. Read more in this AP story.

Biden’s Economy vs. Trump’s, In 12 Charts. Despite the economy’s rapid recovery from the pandemic, President Biden has struggled to convince Americans that his policies are improving their finances. In polls, the majority of Americans still say they trust former President Donald Trump’s handling of the economy over Biden’s. Read how the economy has actually fared under Biden as compared to Trump in this article in The Washington Post.

House Speaker’s Christian Nationalist Ties Spark First Amendment Fears. Links between the new Republican House Speaker, Mike Johnson, and key Christian nationalist leaders have sparked fears that the devout Louisiana congressman might seek to erode elements of the First Amendment, which protects key civil liberties, including freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. Long before the evangelical conservative Johnson became speaker, he had forged close ties with Christian nationalists like David Barton, whose writings claim the country’s founders intended to create a Christian nation. A day after Johnson became speaker in October, Barton boasted in a podcast that he had already talked with Johnson about helping find staff for the speaker's office. Read more in The Guardian.

Russia Tried to Weaken Democrats Ahead of 2022 Midterm Vote. The Russian government and its proxies attempted to denigrate the Democratic Party and undermine voter confidence ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, US intelligence agencies reported. China also tacitly approved efforts to try to influence a handful of unidentified midterm races. Though it refrained from favoring one party, China showed a greater willingness to undertake election-influence activities than it had previously, according to a newly-released intelligence community assessment. Iran also was blamed for trying to undermine confidence in US democracy, while other foreign governments, including Cuba, were said to have experimented with small-scale US influence pushes. Read more in this Wall Street Journal article (subscription required).

Opinion: US Child Poverty Doubled in 2022. We Must Reverse Course by Katrina vanden Heuvel in The Guardian. After a brief reprieve, US child poverty is once again on the rise. But Congress can put a stop to that. As members of both houses and both parties work together on a tax deal, they can re-implement a simple, wildly popular measure that has already proven to dramatically reduce child poverty: the expanded Child Tax Credit. A bipartisan coalition is growing on Capitol Hill to bring it back. America’s children desperately need it. Read the full opinion piece.


As we enter the new year, champions of voting rights are battling in many states. There are many great grassroots groups doing the hard work to protect democracy through such activities as registering voters, getting out the vote, and lobbying state legislators on voting policies. At the same time, lawyers are taking the battles to state and federal courts. Thanks to their legal skills and commitment to fight, they are winning many (though not all) of their cases. It is a reminder of how tenuous voting rights are in the face of GOP efforts to win at any cost, even if it means subverting our most fundamental right – the right to vote. It also underscores the importance of our winning elections at the state level where GOP-led legislatures and governors have been able to enact undemocratic policies, such as gerrymandered voting maps, limitations on how voters can register, restrictions on access to early voting and absentee ballots, purging voter rolls, and restricting ex-felons’ right to vote. Here is a sampling of important cases:

Trump Is Disqualified From 2024 Ballot, Colorado Court Says in Explosive Ruling.

Colorado’s Supreme Court, just a few weeks ago, ruled that former President Trump is ineligible from holding office again because he engaged in insurrection with his actions leading up to the January 6 storming of the US Capitol. This explosive ruling is likely to put the basic contours of the 2024 election in the hands of the US Supreme Court, where the case will head. The Colorado Supreme Court was the first in the nation to find that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — which disqualifies people who engage in insurrection against the Constitution after taking an oath to support it — applies to Trump, an argument that his opponents have been making around the country. But just a few days ago, Maine's Supreme Court also removed Trump from the GOP primary ballot, also citing the insurrection clause. Lawsuits in Minnesota and New Hampshire arguing that Trump should be excluded from the ballot based on the 14th amendment have been dismissed. In Michigan, plaintiffs have appealed to the state’s supreme court after lower courts declined to disqualify Trump.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Orders New Legislative Maps for 2024 Vote.The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled the state’s heavily gerrymandered legislative maps, which favor Republicans, are unconstitutional and ordered new maps be drawn before the 2024 election. The ruling, which has the potential to produce a seismic political shift in a crucial presidential swing state, had been long sought by Democrats, who have remained deep in the state legislature's minority for more than a decade. In the 4-3 decision, the court also said it was prepared to replace the state's heavily-gerrymandered maps if the legislature and Democratic governor cannot agree on a new plan. The ruling was made possible by the court’s flip to a 4-3 liberal majority in an election last summer. Read article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Top Court Clears Path for Democrats to Redraw House Map in New York. New York’s highest court ordered the state to redraw its congressional map, delivering a ruling that offers Democrats a new weapon to wrest control of the US House from Republicans in 2024. The decision could have far-reaching implications in reshaping the House battlefield in a key state. New York Democrats are widely expected to use the opening to try to shift two to six Republican-held swing Congressional districts that President Biden won. The state constitution still prohibits partisan gerrymandering, but Democrats would need to make only slight alterations to the district lines to improve the party’s chances and imperil Republicans’ three-seat majority in Congress before the campaign season even begins. Read more in this full article in The New York Times.

Federal Court Affirms Holding That Louisiana Likely Violated Voting Rights Act in Drawing Congressional Districts. The Fifth Circuit Court not only found that the state likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in failing to create a second black majority congressional district. It also rejected the state’s argument that private plaintiffs have no right to sue under Section 2, an issue that has been percolating in the lower courts after some conservative Supreme Court Justices raised it. Jeff Landry, the state’s Republican governor-elect, was expected to call a special legislative session to address the issue. But Landry will not be inaugurated until January 8, making it unclear whether lawmakers would have enough time to decide on a new map before a January 15 deadline. Read more in this article in Election Law Blog.

State Court Blocks New Election Law in North Carolina. A panel of judges granted Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s request to block a new election law before voters head to the polls in 2024. The ruling from the three judges — two Republicans and one Democrat — was unanimous. They ruled that the law, passed recently by the Republican-controlled legislature, is likely an unconstitutional power grab. This is a temporary ruling pending a full trial, probably to be held in early 2024. In addition to changing who has the power to appoint election board members, the law would also make the board have an even number of seats for both parties, instead of giving a majority to whichever party holds the governor’s office. Read article from the AP.


Black Voters in North Carolina File Suit Challenging New State Senate Districts.  

The federal lawsuit alleges that the new State Senate districts, which were enacted in November by the Republican-controlled legislature, violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by unlawfully depriving Black voters of the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in several Black Belt counties. Read more in this article in Democracy Docket.

Unfortunately, we aren’t winning them all: The Ohio Supreme Court’s 4-3 Republican majority recently dismissed a trio of lawsuits challenging the state’s legislative maps, thereby leaving in place gerrymandered districts for the 2024 elections. Originally filed in September 2021 by pro-voting organizations, the lawsuits alleged that Ohio’s legislative maps drawn after the 2020 census are extreme partisan gerrymanders that favor Republicans and violate the state constitution. Read more in this article from Democracy Docket. 


Yes, it’s only January, but already there is an important race that you can help win. A special election in New York’s 3rd Congressional District on Long Island to replace George Santos, who was expelled from Congress, will take place on February 13. Former Representative Tom Suozzi is running to regain his old seat and, with our help, he can win it. A win would put Democrats one seat closer to taking back the Congress. Please consider working on some of these short-term opportunities:

  • Postcards for Suozzi: Activate America has launched a campaign for Tom Suozzi. This is work you can do on your own or with friends. Click here to learn more and sign up.

  • Phonebanks for Suozzi: There are phone banks for Tom Suozzi most days between now and the Special Election Day on February 13. Please sign up here.

  • Zoom with Suozzi: Contribute by clicking here to join a virtual event with Tom Suozzi and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on January 5 at 8:30am.


Lest we open 2024 on a down beat, we want to share some positive developments from 2023. These are reminders that while we often focus on what is wrong in the world -- especially as we work for change -- there are many advances that should gratify and inspire us. Our thanks goes to Time for assembling this collection of positive news: 13 Ways the World Got Better in 2023. Please take some strength from it.


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 [email protected].


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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