July 2023

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Nothing resonates more in our national consciousness than July 4, 1776. Nearly 250 years later, the miracle of our democracy lives on. It was an imperfect union from the start and remains so today. But the mere fact that the only citizens allowed to vote at the time were white men and now we have voting rights for all should inspire all of us to continue working to make our union more perfect. In this holiday season, take time to celebrate our democracy and to commit yourself to action to protect and improve it. The mission of this newsletter is to inspire all of us to do what we can. A good way to start is by joining in the work of Saving Democracy (see below), Salisbury’s own activist group (which is also open to anyone from anywhere in the country). You’ll be joining your friends and neighbors in activities that are effective and, yes, fun.

While most of the growing gaggle of Republican presidential hopefuls have amped up their rhetoric to placate pro-Trump voters, let’s highlight and celebrate Joe Biden's very real accomplishments. For starters, his adept handling of the recent debt ceiling crisis showed that he is more than up to the job of President. By most accounts, he outfoxed the House Republicans with his patient and diligent approach, achieving a solution that preserved the most important elements of his policy agenda while allowing the Republicans to make token claims of having “won” a victory. The New York Times summarized his style and winning result here. Meanwhile, the economic news gets better and better. To the extent that presidents can claim credit (they always take the blame anyway), President Biden deserves it; inflation was down 4% in May, half of what it was a year ago, and unemployment remains at historically low levels. So let's celebrate the successes of Bidenomics.

Of course, Joe Biden’s achievements have been mostly overshadowed by all news coverage of Donald Trump’s recent indictment on 37 counts of mishandling classified documents and impeding investigators -- as well as by his expected indictment on other charges, such as his role in trying to unlawfully overturn the 2020 election. We are mostly skipping that news here because there is so much written about it elsewhere.

Finally (and definitely not least importantly), battles over voting rights continue across the US in state and federal courts. The forces of good won a hugely significant case with this week’s Supreme Court ruling in Moore v. Harper. Read about it below in In Case You Missed It to understand why so many of us are breathing a sigh of relief about what could have otherwise been a catastrophe for voting rights and gerrymandering.

With best wishes for a wonderful holiday,

Your faithful editor


Democrats led a bipartisan effort and passed the state’s biennial budget, which Governor Lamont has signed. The bill includes an income tax cut for the middle class, an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers, expansion of existing exemptions on certain pension and annuity earnings to benefit seniors, and more than $840 million in permanent tax cuts. There is a lot packed into the bill, affecting education, childcare, and housing, among other areas. Rep. Maria Horn provides an excellent summary in her weekly Capitol Update newsletter. Click here and then scroll down to read it. 


A sizable crowd turned out on June 10 to support “Swords to Plowshares,” a project to reduce gun violence by converting weapons into garden tools. The event, held between the Salisbury Visiting Nurse Association office and Salisbury Family Services’ Hewat Community Garden, featured Jim Curry, retired bishop of the Episcopal Church of Connecticut and co-founder of the project, who uses a portable forge (with attendee participation) to make garden tools and jewelry out of gun parts. The event also featured moving accounts from people who have been personally affected by gun violence. Chelsea Day of Southfield, MA, described how her best friend from childhood was murdered by her husband with a gun, leaving behind two children. Al Ginouves, who is chair of the Salisbury Democratic Town Committee, spoke with tears about his brother, who, at age 54, took his own life using a gun. “We all wondered how we missed the signs,” he said, noting, “The long-term effects on my sister-in-law and their daughter are staggering." Ginouves and his brother had a shared passion for deer hunting, but both loathed the National Rifle Association, he said, adding, “I don’t believe hand guns make anyone safe. There is no place in a civil society for ammunition that explodes human bodies.” 

State Rep. Maria Horn spoke about Connecticut’s journey to becoming a leader in the area of gun control legislation and the importance of dialogue with gun owners. “It took the unimaginable tragedy of Sandy Hook, but we did it with bipartisan support,” she explained. She listed some of the recent laws that have been enacted by the legislature, such as banning open carry, closing the loopholes on ghost guns, and preventing bulk purchases of handguns. Jeremy Stein, Executive Director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, spoke last, calling on the crowd to "end this madness.” The event was organized by Rev. Heidi Truax of Trinity Lime Rock Episcopal Church and Sophia and Lee deBoer of the Northwest Corner Committee for Gun Violence Prevention with the support of Salisbury Family Services, Trinity Episcopal Church, Lime Rock, All Saints Episcopal Church (Cornwall), The Congregational Church of Salisbury UCC, and St. John’s Episcopal Church (Salisbury). Click to learn more about Swords to Plowshares.

If you would like to join the local gun violence prevention group, please email Sophia deBoer at [email protected].


Saving Democracy is not taking the summer off! This grassroots political action group, which was formed by local citizens in response to the horror of the insurrection of January 6, 2021, is continuing its activities apace. Inspired by Jessica Craven and her belief that the antidote to despair is action and with the conviction that we are more powerful when we work together, concerned citizens in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut are engaging in ongoing initiatives to help protect our democracy.

During the last election cycle, Saving Democracy sent out 45,000 postcards, made phone calls, sent texts, wrote letters to the editor, and hit the pavement to canvass for candidates. The group informed voters on key issues and encouraged them to vote. It also sponsored fundraisers and meet-and-greet events for our Congresswoman, Jahana Hayes, and for candidates for the state legislature. 

Some members formed a sub-group to raise funds for the States Project, which focuses on winning governing majorities in key states by making state legislative campaigns more effective and better-funded. The group raised over $70,000 targeted at supporting Democratic candidates for the Pennsylvania state legislature -- ultimately helping the Democrats regain a majority in the PA House. The expected "red wave" in the last election cycle did not materialize and the many grassroots organizations like Saving Democracy deserve some of the credit. Its members made a difference -- and so can you.

Please consider joining your friends and neighbors in these initiatives, with more to come:

Postcards to Ohio: The GOP in Ohio is holding a special election in August, timed to take advantage of the summer doldrums. They are aiming to pass a measure that will increase the requirement to pass a referendum from a simple majority to 60%, thus making it more difficult to pass future referenda. The postcards sent by Saving Democracy will alert Democratic voters to the issue at stake and the urgency of voting in this off-season election. 

Postcards to Kentucky: Kentucky is one of a handful of states that elect their governors in an ‘off year.’ Incumbent Andy Beshear (D) is running against Daniel Cameron (R), who had been Kentucky’s attorney general, and is a Trump supporter hoping to become Kentucky’s first Black governor.

Postcards to Virginia: In Virginia, Saving Democracy will focus on 42 competitive state legislative districts. Democrats hold a narrow majority in the state Senate and Republicans hold a narrow majority in the House of Delegates. The postcards will remind Democratic voters of the importance of casting their ballots.

End Gun Violence: Saving Democracy is ordering more bright orange END GUN VIOLENCE lawn signs. They should be available in mid-summer for about $10.00 each. Please email the organization (below) if you would like to pre-order a sign.

If you’d like to join the Saving Democracy email list, contact [email protected]


Promote the Vote PA is conducting an ongoing voter education and research project -- and needs our help. The organization works to preserve voting rights and increase access to voting, particularly at the state, county, and local levels. If you are new to phonebanking or just a little reluctant, this is an easy project on which to cut your teeth. You’ll be calling people who want to vote but need help. Many will actually thank you for calling them.

A record number of Pennsylvania voters requested mail-in ballots for the 2023 primary election. Unfortunately, many of these voters did not return their ballots to be counted. Others did not follow ballot instructions and their ballots were canceled. The current phonebanks will make follow-up calls to these voters. Promote the Vote PA wants to find out what happened and to make sure that these voters have the information they need and are engaged so that they can vote successfully in the fall.

Please help Promote the Vote reach out to these voters. Phonebanks are held every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-8pm.  Click here to sign up.


July 10 from 10-11am: Conversation with CT Attorney General William Tong. Join Attorney General Tong and his Chief Counsel, Matthew Fitzsimmons, for an update on the Attorney General's efforts to address the opioid and vaping crises in our state. This is a chance to hear firsthand from the Attorney General and learn how Western CT Coalition, your Regional Behavioral Health Action Organization (RBHAO), can support local prevention, treatment, and recovery strategies. This free event takes place at High Watch Recovery Center, 62 Carter Road in Kent. Click to register.

July 18 at 7pm via Zoom: Salisbury Democratic Town Committee to Nominate Municipal Candidates. This regular monthly SDTC meeting is especially important as it will finalize our slate of candidates for municipal offices, including Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, Board of Assessment Appeals, Planning & Zoning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, School Board, and Regional School Board. STDC meetings are open to the public and we welcome the input of all citizens. 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. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of every month. Until further notice all meetings are by Zoom. The schedule is posted on the SDTC website. Contact Al Ginouves to receive a copy of the agenda and the link to the meeting.


Connecticut Passes Tougher Gun Laws. Gun regulations, including a more expansive assault weapons ban, a prohibition on the open carry of firearms, and higher bail requirements for repeat offenders, all won final passage in the closing days of the Connecticut legislature and was signed by Governor Lamont. The package includes many reforms that the governor had championed in a proposal at the outset of the legislative session. The bill represents the most substantial overhaul of Connecticut’s gun laws since 2013, when state officials responded to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting with regulations containing bans on specific weapons including the AR-15 style gun used in the killings. Read the full story at CTMirror.

Supreme Court Rejects Theory That Would Have Transformed American Elections. The Supreme Court this week rejected the “Independent State Legislature” (ISL) theory, which would have radically reshaped how federal elections are conducted by giving state legislatures largely unchecked power to set rules for federal elections and draw congressional maps warped by partisan gerrymandering. Proponents of the ISL theory claimed it means that no other organs of state government — not courts, not governors, not election administrators, not independent commissions — can alter a legislature’s actions on federal elections. Writing for the 6-to-3 majority in the case, Moore v. Harper, Chief Justice John Roberts rejected that position, stating “The Elections Clause does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review.”

The ruling soundly dismissed the ISL theory, one that an unusually diverse array of lawyers, judges, and scholars across the ideological spectrum viewed as extreme and dangerous. Adopting the theory, they warned, could have had profound consequences for nearly every aspect of federal elections, including by erasing safeguards against partisan gerrymandering and curtailing the ability to challenge voting restrictions in state courts. Read the story in The New York Times. According to Democracy Docket, a leading source for information and analysis about voting rights, the Supreme Court's decision removes a cloud over 28 active state court cases that are challenging congressional maps and state laws regulating federal elections. Most immediately affected will be seven cases that involve state constitutional challenges to congressional maps, almost all of which bring partisan gerrymandering claims. In the longer term, the remaining 21 lawsuits challenging voter suppression and election subversion laws will be able to continue unimpeded by the threat of the ISL theory. Read the full analysis in Democracy Docket.

National Voting Laws Roundup: Warning Signs. The push by state legislatures to restrict voting and undermine faith in elections has moved at a near-record pace this year, driven by a still-active election denial movement. At the same time, the pro-democracy movement has continued to press for legislation to boost voting access. One troubling development: lawmakers have begun to target direct democracy by trying to limit ways that voters can pass ballot measures. Another notable trend in voting legislation this year is a continued push to criminalize election-related activities. Read more from The Brennan Center by clicking here. For more on how some red states are making it harder for citizen-led ballot initiatives to pass, also read this article from the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center.

If Democrats Win Back the House, They Will Have John Roberts to Thank – Guest Essay by Thomas Edsell in The New York Times. A credible case can be made that the Supreme Court’s decision last June to eliminate the constitutional right to an abortion was crucial to the election of a Senate Democratic majority later that year. If Democrats take back control of the House in 2024 after having lost it in 2022, analysts may well look back to a recent Supreme Court decision, Allen v. Milligan, as crucial to the party’s victory. The Milligan decision will quite possibly result in the replacement of as many as five majority-white Republican districts with majority-non-white Democratic districts, and that’s for starters. The court’s ruling in Milligan requires Alabama to create a second House district to provide an opportunity for a Black candidate to win. The decision is an unexpected affirmation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a development that immediately scrambled calculations being made about key House races across the nation. Click here to read the full opinion piece.

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs Has Vetoed Over 20 Election Bills So Far. In just over five months into her administration, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs (D) has vetoed the same number of bills that her successor, former Governor Doug Ducey (R), had shot down in his eight years as governor. As of June 12, based on data from Voting Rights Lab and Democracy Docket, the Arizona Legislature had sent at least 30 election-related bills to Hobbs’ desk. Of these, Hobbs has signed two, vetoed 21 and has yet to take action on seven. The volume of vetoed bills is not just a feature of a divided government, but of the Arizona Republican Party's adoption of election conspiracy theories and attempts to make voting and election administration more difficult. The slim Republican majority in both chambers of the Legislature does not have enough votes to override Hobbs’ vetoes, making the new governor a key player in blocking anti-democratic efforts. Read more at Democracy Docket. 

Daniel Ellsberg and Donald Trump Both Took Classified Documents. Their Reasons Couldn’t Be More Different – Opinion piece by Rebecca Solnit in The Guardian. Daniel Ellsberg, who died in June at the age of 92, leaked classified national security documents to the press in 1971 in the hopes of stopping the war in Vietnam, preventing deaths, and exposing a government that had, through five presidencies, lied about that war to justify and perpetuate it. Another man, Donald Trump, took classified documents to his Florida home, which also happens to be a resort frequented by a wide array of characters, refused to surrender them, and unleashed a flock of lies about the whole business. We don’t know exactly why Donald Trump absconded from the White House with top secret material. But there are no good explanations for his refusal to surrender the material when the government demanded it. He was arraigned on 37 felony charges. Click here to read this full opinion piece in The Guardian.

GOP Targets Researchers Who Study Disinformation Ahead of 2024 Election. On Capitol Hill and in the courts, Republican lawmakers and activists are mounting a sweeping legal campaign against universities, think tanks, and private companies that study the spread of disinformation, accusing them of colluding with the government to suppress conservative speech online. The effort has encumbered its targets with expansive requests for information and, in some cases, subpoenas — demanding notes, emails, and other information related to social media companies and the government dating back to 2015. Complying has consumed time and resources and has already affected the groups’ ability to do research and raise money, according to several people involved. They and others warned that the campaign undermined the fight against disinformation when the problem is, by most accounts, on the rise — and when another presidential election is around the corner. Read the full story in The New York Times

A Plan of Action to Save Our Oceans and Climate – Sam Waterston at the Salisbury Forum.  Award-winning actor Sam Waterston is also Chair of the Board of Oceana, the largest global advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the world's oceans. In June he appeared at a live event of The Salisbury Forum to discuss the state of the world’s oceans and various efforts to make them healthier and more abundant, while addressing climate change. Waterston described some of the policy approaches and victories in countries that govern much of the world’s marine life. Through collaborative efforts, Mexico, Brazil, and Belize have all agreed to publish vessel tracking data for their commercial fishing fleets; California has enacted the boldest plastic pollution reduction policy in the nation; and Spain has created a new waste law that curbs ocean-polluting single-use plastics. Oceana is participating in global efforts to reduce carbon pollution by acting to prevent the expansion of offshore drilling that can also have devastating impacts on marine ecosystems and wildlife. You can watch the video of this event by clicking here


Let's remember that while the struggle to make the world better can seem daunting, many positive steps forward happen all the time, even if they don't seem to get as much airtime as the bad news. Thanks again to the tireless Jessica Craven and her Chop Wood, Carry Water newsletter, here are just a few extra things to celebrate:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency proposed the tightest limits ever on power plants’ planet-warming pollution, a policy it must enact to meet President Biden’s pledge to halve US emissions by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the availability of nearly $1 billion for low-income multifamily housing to become more energy-efficient, water-efficient, and resilient to climate disasters. 

  • The Department of Energy announced $26 million for eight selected projects to demonstrate how solar, wind, storage, and other clean energy resources can support a reliable and efficient U.S. power grid.

  • In the first quarter of 2023, for the first time ever, British wind farms generated more electricity than gas did. 

  • Germany is relaxing its regulations for solar power installations after the country already set a new installation record this year.

  • The FDA just officially ended its ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. Long seen as discriminatory, the eased restrictions could also help ease blood shortages by opening up blood donation to more people. 

  • In a unanimous vote, advisors to the FDA recommended the agency approve switching daily Norgestrel tablets to non-prescription status. That would make the drug the first-ever over-the-counter birth control pill.

  • Nevada advanced a joint resolution to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. State lawmakers must pass the resolution again in 2025 before it would go before voters as a ballot question in 2026.

  • Missouri Republicans unexpectedly failed to pass an amendment aimed at thwarting citizen-backed initiatives to roll back the state’s near-total ban on abortion ahead of a deadline to conclude legislative business for the year. The Montana state Supreme Court ruled in favor of continuing to allow nurses with advanced degrees to perform abortions. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed legislation recently that would have given increased funding to anti-abortion centers.


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].


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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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