May 2023

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It’s easy to slide into a pessimistic mood about the state of our world. The news media seems to publish more stories that are negative than positive. But many good things are actually happening. Read below to see how Democrats are unifying early around Joe Biden for a second term and for highlights of his record of accomplishments. Also, don't forget that we organized and won a critical election in Wisconsin – perhaps the most important election anywhere this year. Make sure read to the bottom of the newsletter for a bonus: a recap of other positive news that probably didn’t make it into your newspaper. In between, don’t miss our events calendar as well as news clips and other items to keep you better informed. As always, we appreciate your ideas for the newsletter.

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As always,

Your faithful editor


President Joe Biden is running for a second term and we should all cheer. While some Democrats may have disagreed because of his age, they are now unifying around him. Our early support is important because it means we can devote our energies and resources to building momentum, especially while Republicans continue to dissipate their resources and goodwill in their ongoing internecine war between Donald Trump and his challengers.  

President Biden also deserves our support because of his considerable achievements. We will no doubt talk much more about his strong record in the coming months, but here’s a starter list to cite when you speak with your friends and family:

  • Created more than 12 million jobs and achieved one of the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years.
  • Made the largest investment in climate and clean energy ever.
  • Passed the historic bipartisan infrastructure law – the largest investment in our roads and bridges since President Eisenhower.
  • Strengthened the Affordable Care Act by lowering healthcare premiums and lowered prescription drug costs for seniors.
  • Passed the first significant new gun control legislation in 30 years.
  • Rallied the world to stand up against Putin and for the future of democracy.
  • Restored the rule of law and a sense of decency to government.

It’s important to trumpet these achievements when you talk with your family and friends. Collectively, by tapping into our relationships with people who trust us, we can have a massive positive impact on the outcome of elections. Don’t be afraid to talk about politics (politely and respectfully). It’s not dirty. It’s our job if we want to protect our democracy.


Democrats won a huge victory in the Wisconsin State Supreme Court election on April 7 when progressive judge Janet Protasiewicz beat MAGA candidate Dan Kelly. This victory gives progressives a 4-to-3 majority on the court, reversing the same advantage formerly held by conservatives. This win has enormous consequences for Wisconsin and the entire country. Wisconsin’s justices are officially non-partisan, so they don’t carry party labels. But the contrast between progressive and conservative justices couldn’t be clearer. As we have explained here before, a progressive majority will almost certainly result in reversing Wisconsin’s 1849 ban on abortion. It also will enable Wisconsin to undo its gerrymandered election maps and have fairer elections, with potential positive impact on the 2024 elections and beyond. The Wisconsin victory adds to the string of recent Democratic wins in consequential “down-ballot” wins in several states: Democrats flipped both chambers of the Michigan state legislature and took control of the Pennsylvania state legislature as well as the Minnesota state senate.

This victory happened because so many ordinary people rose to the challenge. Here in our community, we wrote postcards, phonebanked, texted, worked remotely in the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s excellent voter protection program; some of us even sent money. 

There are at least two important lessons from this and other recent wins all over the country: First, when we show up (even remotely) and do the work, we can win. Second, no amount of money alone is sufficient to win elections without ordinary citizens doing the hard and often-tedious work at the grassroots level. 

For more about what happened in this election and the consequences, read this article in The Guardian.


Here’s a very short-term project: Donna Deegan is the Democratic candidate in the May 16 election for mayor in Jacksonville, FL. She is running well against a DeSantis-backed opponent, but needs help to ensure victory. You can read more about Deegan here. Please consider making calls or sending texts to support her campaign. Click here to sign up.

In case you don’t think this local election matters, just remember that local Democratic victories provide the first steps on the ladder to leadership in higher offices.


With the future of abortion pills still in legal jeopardy, more Americans say medication abortion should be legal than illegal in their state, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The survey – conducted in the days before the conflicting court rulings on medication abortion by federal judges in Texas and Washington state – also finds stark divides by age, religion, and partisanship in Americans’ views of the issue. Click to read the report.


May 2 at 12pm via Zoom: Discussion with VoteRiders. The organization's mission is to ensure that no eligible voter is prevented from casting a ballot that counts due to voter ID laws, either directly from lack of acceptable ID or indirectly because of voter confusion. VoteRiders educates voters and assists citizens to secure their voter ID. Super activist Jessica Craven of Chop Wood Carry Water will moderate a discussion with Sylvester Johnson III, National Volunteer Manager and Voter ID Coalition Coordinator of VoteRiders. Register here for this Zoom call.

May 2 from 12-8pm: Region 1 Budget Referendum. Voting takes place at Town Hall. You are eligible to vote if you are an elector of the Town of Salisbury.

May 3 at 7:30pm via Zoom: Annual Town Meeting and vote on the First Selectman’s budget and the Salisbury Central School budget. You are eligible to vote if you are an elector of the Town of Salisbury. For the agenda, click here.  To join the Zoom meeting, click here.

May 16 at 6pm via Zoom: Salisbury Democratic Town Committee. The SDTC will hold its regular monthly meeting. 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

May 21 from 4-7pm: Screening of Primary.  A groundbreaking 1960 documentary about JFK’s campaign, Robert Drew's film is one of the most important and influential documentaries in the history of the medium. A pioneering work in the documentary movement that came to be known as cinéma vérité, Primary follows the young charismatic senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy, as he goes head-to-head with established Minnesota senator Hubert Humphrey to win the Wisconsin presidential primary in April 1960. Running time is 53 minutes. The film will be followed by a discussion on the changing landscape of Presidential primaries over the past half century hosted by UCONN Political Science Associate Professor Jeffrey Ladewig and Jill Drew, General Manager of Drew Associates. The event is sponsored by the Torrington Democratic Town Committee and takes place from 4-7pm in the Coe Memorial Park Civic Center in Torrington. Tickets are $20 for the film and discussion and $35 for the film, discussion, and VIP reception.  Purchase tickets at Eventbrite. For more information, contact Jill Drew.

May 27 at 5pm: Mona Sherman Memorial Lecture featuring Ari Melber. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Berkshire Community College is sponsoring this event at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. Melber is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, evening news anchor, writer, and attorney. He anchors The Beat with Ari Melber on MSNBC, serves as the network’s chief legal correspondent, and is a legal analyst for NBC News. He wrote the forward for the January 6 Report, which will be available for purchase and signing at the Mahaiwe. This event is free, but reservations are required. Register by phone at (413) 236-2190 or online. This lecture will be recorded and available on the OLLI at BCC YouTube channel in early June.

June 1 at 10am: Torrington Pride Annual Flag Raising. Everyone is welcome. The event takes place at 10am at Torrington City Hall.

June 2 at 7:30pm: Sam Waterston at the Salisbury Forum on "How to Save Our Oceans." Award-winning actor in theater, film, and television, and Chair of the Board of Oceana, Sam Waterston will discuss the state of the world’s oceans and how to make them more biodiverse and abundant by winning policy victories in the countries that govern much of the world’s marine life. Oceana, founded in 2001, is the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation, and is dedicated to protecting and restoring the world’s oceans on a global scale. This free event will take place at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Visit the Salisbury Forum's website for more information.

June 10 from 11am-1pm: Swords to Ploughshares, Guns to Garden Tools. How often do you see something designed for death turned into a tool to keep us alive? Guns are being forged into gardening tools all through our state, our country, and the world. Join your friends and neighbors at the Hewat Community Garden in Salisbury to see guns being turned into garden tools and perhaps a bit of jewelry too. Bishop Jim Curry, retired bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, is one of the founders of our state’s Swords to Plowshares program. A blacksmith, he will bring his portable forge to the parking lot of the SVNA and Housatonic Day Care Center next to Salisbury Family Services’ Hewat Community Garden for a demonstration of guns being forged into garden tools. Community members will be invited to take a few swings at the anvil. There will be testimonials, and thoughtful conversation as well as refreshments and a presentation of a garden tool to the leadership of the Hewat Community Garden. Also, there will be garden tools and jewelry available for sale. For more information contact Pastor Heidi Truax at Trinity Episcopal Church 860-435-2627 or [email protected].


Secretary of the State: CT Needs $25 Million to Replace Old Voting Machines. Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas has requested $25 million that, if approved, would bring 3,000 new tabulators to Connecticut’s 750 polling locations in time for the 2024 general election. Thomas has told legislators that CT’s current voting machines have become “unreliable and unserviceable.” In addition to avoiding malfunctions, Thomas says that new machines would open opportunities for election reform, such as supporting ranked-choice voting, risk-limiting audits, and faster election night results. Read more in the Hartford Courant.

This Democratic Senator Is Making an Unusual Enemy. Connecticut’s Chris Murphy believes loneliness is one of America’s biggest problems. It is a condition that divides and isolates people and has serious repercussions for collective society. He’s working on a plan to fight it. Read the article in The New Republic.

Behind the Expulsions of Two State Representatives in Tennessee. To understand why Republicans around the country are pushing for laws to make it more difficult for young people to vote, you need only to look at the recent events in Tennessee. In a crucial way, the outcome of the April 6 expulsion vote was preordained in 2010. That year, Republican lawmakers used the redistricting provision that follows every census to gerrymander the state in such a way that it packed Democrats into a smaller number of districts. Not surprisingly, the election of 2012 delivered the Republicans their super-majority in both houses of the legislature. This essentially gives them the power to do as they please, such as expelling duly-elected legislators and, in 2020, passing a criminal-justice-reform bill that, among other things, makes it a felony to pitch a tent outside the capitol overnight, punishable by up to six years in prison. Read the full article in The New Yorker. 

We’re About to Find Out How Far the Supreme Court Will Go to Arm America – Guest Essay by Linda Greenhouse in The New York Times. How much further will the Supreme Court go to assist in the arming of America? That has been the question since last June, when the court ruled that New York’s century-old gun licensing law violated the Second Amendment. Sooner than expected, we are likely to find out the answer. On March 17, the Biden administration asked the justices to overturn an appeals court decision, which invalidated a federal law that for almost 30 years has prohibited gun ownership by people who are subject to restraining orders for domestic violence. Read the full opinion piece here

How to Make Trump Go Away – Guest Essay by Frank Luntz in The New York Times.

Why does Donald Trump still generate such loyalty and devotion? And unlike 2016, can a different Republican win the nomination in 2024 who largely shares Mr. Trump’s agenda? Based on his research, long-time Republican pollster and strategist Frank Luntz offers an eight-point plan that, among other things, says Republicans can overcome Trump’s popularity by acknowledging his supporters’ economic, social, and political grievances and then running candidates who champion Trump's agenda, but with decency, civility, and a commitment to personal responsibility and accountability. Read his full analysis in The New York Times.

"Government Regulation: Really?" Carol Browner at the Salisbury Forum. Last month, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner appeared at the Forum in an interview with Vivian Garfein, member of the Salisbury Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission and former Central Director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Browner has had a lifelong commitment to securing environmental and public health protections, working in the private sector and serving two presidents, a governor, and two senators. She served as Director of President Obama’s White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, and then as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Previously, she served as EPA Administrator under President Clinton and as Secretary of Environmental Regulation in Florida. This interview ranges beyond environmental issues to politics and public policy more broadly. Our favorite quote: When asked how citizens can help to support environment protection, Browner had a one-word answer: “Vote!”  Click to watch the video of the event here. 


We are continuing to offer our picks for worthwhile sources of news, information, and context:

Democracy Docket. So much of the action in voting rights depends on the outcomes of a myriad of court cases at both the state and federal levels. A first step in fighting against voter suppression is staying informed. Democracy Docket is a great source of information, analysis, and opinion about voting rights. Get more information at

Secret City - The Hidden History of Gay Washington by James Kirchick. This extensive history of gays in Washington is really a much larger and disturbing story of America’s fears of “homosexuals among us.” For decades, with the tacit and explicit government policy, the mere suggestion of homosexuality could end careers and destroy lives. The persecution of gays was especially intense during the Cold War, when fear of Communism became intertwined with fear of homosexuals, but it existed for years before and persisted for many years afterward. Based on declassified files, personal letters, and interviews, this work illustrates a harrowing world that existed not that long ago and some of the forces that changed it.  For more, read the review in The New York Times.


Thanks for reading this far! You deserve some additional good news. Jessica Craven, in her Chop Wood, Carry Water newsletter does a vital job of raising the alarm about important issues that require our attention and specific actions we can take. She also does a wonderful job of reminding us that there are many positive changes happening in our world. With credit to her, we are sharing some of the positive developments that she has published:

  • Amidst Republican efforts to restrict voting, several states have passed laws improving voter access: North Dakota passed a bill giving voters more time to “cure” mail ballots (correct technical mistakes) and giving election officials more time to process mail ballots; Virginia enacted legislation protecting county election officials from inappropriate removal; New Mexico passed a law that restores voting rights to 11,000 formerly-incarcerated individuals, establishes automatic voter registration, and bolsters voting access for Native Americans; Washington, DC, has a new law expanding automatic voter registration.

  • U.S. renewable electricity generation exceeded coal generation in 2022.

  • Work has begun on the largest river restoration project in American history,. The Klamath River Basin, which runs from southern Oregon through northern California, will get a major environmental makeover as four of its dams are removed by the end of next year, opening up routes for salmon to swim and allowing the land to be replanted with native vegetation.

  • Naloxone, an emergency nasal spray that can reverse an opioid overdose, is becoming available over the counter, no prescription necessary. It’s a big step forward to making this life-saving drug more accessible.

  • Brazil has removed nearly all illegal gold miners from the Yanomami territory, its largest indigenous reservation. The country is planning to remove miners from six more indigenous reservations this year.

Please write and let us know if you would like more of this type of positive coverage in this newsletter.


The Hewat Community Garden, located at 30 Salmon Kill Road, has plots available for interested gardeners. If you would like to grow your own vegetables and flowers in a lovely community garden space, please contact Patrice McGrath at (860) 435-5187. All are welcome.


Our thanks this month goes to Flora Lazar for her above-and-beyond editorial help and to Barbara Friedman for her work building our subscriber list. We cannot get this newsletter published and distributed each month without this type of help. If you would like to explore how you can help on editorial, production, or circulation activities, please contact us at [email protected].


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].


All previous issues of this newsletter are available on the Salisbury Democratic Town Committee's website.

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

Editor: Lee Greenhouse, [email protected]

Associate Editor: Sally Andre


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