Krista Sperber

Celebrating Victory for Survivors of Hurricane Sandy

It’s been a long road, but we’ve traveled it together. On the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy joined members of the New Jersey Organizing Project to announce what we hope will be important steps towards finally bringing all of our families home on the Jersey Shore. Standing with Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. and other elected officials, NJOP member Doug Quinn – who is himself still not home – thanked Governor Murphy, and reminded all of those gathered that much remains to be done. “We are hopeful that this new $50 million dollar program to help people cross the finish line and freezing, reducing and eliminating clawbacks will give families more hope, more opportunity and more stability. We’ve fought long enough and families have been through too much,” Quinn said, as he introduced the governor.

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Daniel Doubet

It Takes a Village to Make a Hate Crime

Saturday morning, a gunman killed 11 Jewish people who were worshiping at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The gunman stated his reasons on social media before his attack: “his people” were “being slaughtered” because a Jewish organization was “bringing in hostile invaders,” a reference to their support for refugees. This is reported to be the worst attack targeting Jews in United States history. Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote that the rise of Pennsylvania’s racist right is a warning to the nation. Today, as I learn about these events just an hour’s drive away, I find myself in an all-too-familiar state in the face of such an abomination. As the details roll in, I feel a terrifying worry for friends, anguish at the sheer brutality of the attack, and anger at the assailant and all of the people who were complicit.

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Leo Gerard

China Grabs 3.4 Million American Jobs 

Everything is great, right? Unemployment is the lowest in half a century. The economy is churning out a high GDP. Home values are rising rapidly again. Inflation remains low. Still, the stock market has been crashing in recent weeks. Investors don’t like President Donald Trump’s trade war with China. It makes them nervous. Photo credit: USW / unionpix.com / cc Nervous? They have no idea. Since 2001, when the United States agreed to allow China into the World Trade Organization, U.S. workers have been nervous every day. Twenty-four hours a day. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year. They fear losing their jobs to China. And rightly so. A new study by the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows the growth in the U.S. trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2017 cost 3.4 million American workers their jobs. Trump’s tariff war hasn’t solved this problem.

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Jeff Bryant

Education Matters More Than Trump to Wisconsin Voters

Local issues hold the key to many midterm elections, despite all the talk about how President Donald Trump is nationalizing these races and Democrats should follow his lead and do the same. It’s important to know that in many places, voters still care first about issues that affect them at home, more than the latest outrage coming from the White House. One of those places is Wisconsin, where deep cuts to education by the incumbent Republican governor, Scott Walker, have put it at the top of many voters’ priorities. Wisconsin, which went for Trump in 2016, has been under Republicans’ control in both legislative chambers and the governor’s seat and mostly sends Republicans to the U.S. House. If a “blue wave” is truly to take place in November, it will have to include Democratic victories in Wisconsin.

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Elianne Farhat

Keith Ellison for Minnesota Attorney General

We can imagine a world where everyone can live free, joyful lives, regardless of what they look like, where they came from, or how they worship. We can imagine a democracy that’s by the people, for the people, and is representative of the people. We can imagine a future where the feminine is highly respected, and no one is held back or harmed because of their gender or sexuality.   At TakeAction Minnesota, we believe achieving justice and strengthening our democracy requires us to take on some of the biggest challenges in our society, including systemic racism, unbridled corporate influence, and gender oppression. First, at TakeAction Minnesota we believe women, women of color, and survivors. We believe them because we are them. Our member leaders, our staff, our board, we’re a majority women & femmes organization.

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Lauren McCauley

Mainers Ask Voters to Support Home Care and Question 1

In an effort to make the stakes clear in the upcoming vote on universal home care in Maine, supporters of Question 1 from across the state are posting dozens of videos to social media explaining why passage of the referendum is so important to them personally, and for the state. “In the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity of taking care of four different family members. I believe that people should be allowed to grow old with dignity and remain in their homes as long as possible,” said Frank Ayotte, an Air Force veteran from Auburn, in one video. “That’s why I’m voting yes on one this November.” In another, state Rep. Kim Monaghan of Cape Elizabeth says that she “absolutely” supports Question 1. “It’s such an important issue,” she says.

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Jeff Smith

Riding Backroads for Change in Rural Wisconsin

Everyone knows Jeff’s truck – it’s a red pickup with a big, hand-stencilled sign in the back that says, “Stop & Talk.” If you travel the back roads of western Wisconsin, most people have met its driver, the “stop and talk guy,” Jeff Smith. That’s because this Eau Claire native has logged thousands of miles in his grassroots candidacy for Wisconsin’s State Senate in District 31, which includes parts of nine counties. Smith is a bit like George Bailey, the small-town hero of Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” After high school, Jeff ran a successful window-cleaning company in Eau Claire with his father, then got involved in activism when his children attended the city’s public schools. He served on a state task force for educational excellence and was elected to Wisconsin’s State Assembly in 2006.

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Joe Mangino

Organizing for Hope on the Jersey Shore

The New Jersey Organizing Project is a marvel. This Jersey Shore grassroots group was born after Hurricane Sandy when neighbors in towns like Stafford, Brick and Seaside Heights came together to rebuild homes and lives, with a little help from their friends. No one embodies this resilience more than NJOP’s co-founder, Joe Mangino. This wildlife biologist and small-business owner unexpectedly became a community activist when his own home was destroyed by the storm. He immediately started helping his neighbors, ripping out drywall and helping to gut and rebuild over 800 homes, saving taxpayers $4 million in cleanup costs. When Governor Christie failed to deliver aid to Sandy survivors, leaving many still homeless, Mangino went to Iowa to publicly confront the then-candidate for president about his unkept promises.

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Jeff Bryant

Rising Teachers Put Education On The Ballot In Fall Elections

Hundreds of educators are running for office in this November’s midterm elections. This year’s Educator Spring brought teachers into the streets in massive protests that thrust education issues into electoral contests up and down the ballot, and pushed education-related initiatives onto ballots in 16 states, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress. “From taxes to bonds, governance to vouchers, education is on the ballot this November,” says the analysis. “Voters should not miss the chance to make their voices heard.” In states such as Arizona and Georgia where gubernatorial candidates are locked in tight races and Democrats anticipate gains in state legislatures, state ballot measures that focus on education could help provide the difference between victory and defeat.

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Miles Mogulescu

To Jeff Bezos: Put Up $10m to Find Your Columnist’s Murderers

Dear Mr. Bezos: You’re the richest man in the world, with a net worth of $160 billion according to Forbes. According to Time Magazine, in early 2018 you were earning $230,000 a minute (which comes to $13,800,000 an hour.) You’re also the owner of The Washington Post, whose columnist, American resident and Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi was reportedly tortured, murdered and dismembered in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul. Your columnist’s murder was one of the most ghastly and heinous threats to a free press and a civilized world in recent memory. As The Post’s owner, you have a unique responsibility to fight back to protect press freedom and free speech in America and around the world. Sadly, we cannot rely on any of the relevant governments to identify the killers and bring them to justice. The Saudi government has promised an investigation.

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Woody Woodruff

Ben Jealous is the Leader of Vision Maryland Needs Now

As Maryland prepares to name a new governor on November 6, voters have a clear choice: Ben Jealous, the Democratic challenger, or Republican incumbent Larry Hogan. Jealous is the former Rhodes Scholar who in 2008 became the youngest-ever national leader of the NAACP at age 35. Hogan, 62, is an Arundel County property developer, son of a Congressman, who’s been a GOP insider since the 1980s, when he first attempted to win his father’s old congressional seat. After several failed attempts to win elected office, Hogan got an appointed position in the administration of Republican governor Bob Ehrlich in 2008, which he then used as a launching pad for his own run for the governor’s office in 2014.

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Adrienne Evans

There’s Nothing More Powerful Than People Taking Back Democracy

Something good is happening in the Gem State. Real good. You might not read it yet in headlines, but it’s happening – and real – everywhere from Boise to Idaho Falls. “We’re winning the war of ideas, and that’s why they’re worried,” says Paulette Jordan. “They might outspend us, but there’s nothing more powerful than people deciding it’s time to take back democracy – and they know it.”   You probably know Paulette, but let me introduce you: she’s the thirty-eight year old rancher and farmer who’s running as a Democrat to be Idaho’s next governor. She’s a fearless and outspoken advocate for the expansion of health care and fully funded K-12 education in our state.  She was elected in 2014 to Idaho’s House of Representatives, where she served on the Business, Energy and State Affairs Committees.

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Anna Attie

Students Across the Nation Fight for #FreeCollege4All

44 million people in the US owe nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt, a total that grows larger every day.  Students often choose between eating three meals a day, paying rent, and buying textbooks. For many of us, the excitement of graduating is tempered by the fear of never being able to pay off student loans. My peers and I belong to a generation that faces unprecedented barriers to quality higher education. The cost of college has risen four times faster than inflation, but our universities continuously fail to meet the needs of marginalized students.   This is a national economic crisis, and one that disproportionately affects women and students of color. That’s why on October 15th, college students across the country held a National Day of Action, demanding free public higher education as part of the #FreeCollege4All campaign.

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Sam Pizzigati

Confronting Climate Change in a Deeply Unequal World

Two meticulously sourced — and deeply disturbing — warnings about our shared global future have appeared over the past week. One has terrified much of the world. The other hasn’t, not yet at least, but most certainly should. You’ve most likely already encountered the first of these warnings, a grim report from the United Nations  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a broad and distinguished panel of the world’s top climate scientists. They’re advising us that the level of global warming that governments once saw as “safe” would, if ever reached, trigger catastrophic dangers. Humanity has, the scientists tell us, about a dozen years to get our environmental act together. Or else. . . The second warning came from researchers at Oxfam, the global anti-poverty charity that has emerged as a top critic of our world’s increasingly concentrated income and wealth.

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Lois Gibbs

The EPA Doesn’t Give Equal Protection to All

If there’s one thing “EPA” doesn’t stand for, it’s Equal Protection for All. Too many communities of color, like North Birmingham, Alabama, are threatened by toxic chemicals in their soil and water, and the EPA doesn’t offer them the protections they are entitled to by law. Then instead of fixing environmental problems, they blame the victims. Industrial smoke in North Birmingham, 1972. Photo credit: EPA / National Archives Charlie Powell in Birmingham, Alabama has waited since 2005 for action from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Instead he gets the runaround. Why? Because he and his neighbors, like so many other communities we work with, they are poor and African American. They have the wrong complexion for real protection.

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Jeff Bryant

How the Wealthy Destroy Public Schools, One Gift at a Time

News about wealthy folks giving millions to education draw both praise and criticism. But two new reports by public education advocacy groups reveal the real impact rich people have on schools and how they’ve chosen to leverage their money to influence the system. ‘The Education Debt’ The first report, “Confronting the Education Debt” from the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, examines the nation’s “education debt” – the historic funding shortfall for school systems that educate black and brown children. The authors find that through a combination of multiple factors – including funding rollbacks, tax cuts, and diversions of public money to private entities – the schools educating the nation’s poorest children have been shorted billions in funding.

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Amy Halsted

Power Begins at Home: Vote

Many Mainers, especially women newly engaged around the recent Supreme Court fight, are asking me what’s next, now that Brett Kavanaugh has been seated on the Supreme Court. My answer? Building power at the state level matters now more than ever. Photo credit: Susan Melkisethian / Flickr / cc We’re four weeks away from a decisive election for our state and for the country. It’s within our power to harness the resistance to Trump’s agenda, and involve a record numbers of Americans in advancing a different vision for this nation.   In 2018, building this power begins at home. For Mainers, it begins in Maine. We can accomplish a lot for progressives in this year’s election in Maine: We have a clear path to taking back our State Senate and the Governor’s office.

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Daniel Karon

Kavanaugh and the Confirmation of Third-Branch Bias

Is there anything left in GOP politics that doesn’t involve sex? If you ask Lindsey Graham, the “single, white male from South Carolina [who] will not shut up,” or Orrin Hatch, the tone-deaf octogenarian who knows an “attractive” and “pleasing” victim of sex abuse when he sees one, it seems not. Congress has long buried its head in the sand when it comes to women’s issues. But in the fight over the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, these issues were unavoidable. It’s about damn time. If anyone thought Washington was devoid of leaders or heroes, they need look no further than Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Lacking any discernible motive and with no interest in getting involved, the California professor – who goes by Christine Blasey in her academic work – subjected herself to loaded-for-bear questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Jeff Bryant

This Is Your Future Without Public Schools

Photo credit: johnsoncitypress.com / cc What if some communities no longer have public schools? That question, once unthinkable in America, may now be something policy leaders and lawmakers in at least one state may want to consider. In Michigan – home state to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos whose political donations and advocacy for “school choice” and charter schools drastically altered the state’s public education system – some of the state’s largest school districts lose so many students to surrounding school districts and charter schools that the financial viability of the districts seems seriously in question.

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Josie Mooney

From Kavanaugh to November

The fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court revealed truths that often stay unspoken in American life. The first is how many of us are touched by sexual violence.  A second is the deep fear that a loss of privilege strikes in the hearts of some. And a third is that they will do anything in their power to protect it. But the more powerful truth belongs to those who find the courage to speak out, and the decency of those who are willing to hear them. So I am confident that this forms a resilient majority that can ultimately prevail in our nation. This has been a pitched battle. President Trump, Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell are now congratulating themselves – they feel flush with victory.

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