Gary Zuckett

West Virginia Survivors Say NO To Kavanaugh

It was 5:00 a.m. when West Virginia Citizen Action members and coalition activists boarded a bus to cross the Allegheny Mountains as we headed towards Washington, D.C. We had one goal in mind: keep Brett Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court. Along the way, we stopped in Morgantown to pick up fellow travelers. By the time we reached D.C., we were thousands strong, streaming in from all over the country, ready to march. We’re part of Our Time Is Now! – a new coalition of West Virginia nonprofits and faith groups, including the Our Children Our Future Campaign, ACLU, NAACP, West Virginia Free, Rise Up WV, and others who feel as strongly as we do that Kavanaugh is wrong for the job, and wrong for the nation. We’re also part of the millions who feel that not only is Kavanaugh wrong – the rush to confirm him is wrong.

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Jeff Bryant

Charter School Corruption Is Changing Education Policy and Politics

Photo credit: Derek Bridges, Flickr Creative Commons After years of credible reporting on the rampant corruption in the charter school industry, the schools are now drawing more scrutiny from state lawmakers and regulators, and political candidates are making negative stories about charters a contentious issue in the upcoming November midterm elections. Government officials from California to New York are increasingly considering, proposing, or passing new regulatory restraint on these privately operated, publicly funded schools, and in electoral contests from Arizona to Ohio, Democratic challengers are challenging Republican incumbents to defend their lax governance that has allowed charter schools to run amuck, costing the taxpayers millions and undermining the financial stability of public education.

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Tony Pierce

Why We Shut Down The EPA’s Dirty Energy Hearings

My name is Reverend Tony Pierce, and I am co-senior pastor of Heaven’s View Christian Fellowship in Peoria, Illinois and Board President of Illinois People’s Action. On Monday, together with forty grassroots leaders from across Illinois, we shut down the morning session of the Environmental Protection Agency’s sole national hearing on their so-called “Affordable Clean Energy” plan.  We took over the hearing because the EPA’s plan is, in fact, a dirty energy scam that will worsen environmental racism and pollution in our communities. By the EPA’s own numbers, the plan will kill as many as fourteen hundred – FOURTEEN HUNDRED – of our families, friends and neighbors each year. This “plan” gives dirty energy giants free rein to release millions of tons of CO2 and pollutants into the air. Trump’s EPA has no shame.

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Sam Pizzigati

Share the Wealth? We Can Start Now – Here’s How

In the United States, back during the Great Depression, three simple words animated a grassroots upsurge that would help make this nation the world’s first mass middle-class society: Share the wealth! And the nation did. By the end of the 1960s, the top one percent’s share of America’s national income had dropped by more than half. The bottom 90 percent share, meanwhile, had jumped from half the nation’s total income to over two-thirds. Redistribution — via the tax code — drove this dramatic egalitarian shift, as high incomes faced high tax rates throughout the middle decades of the 20th century. But these high tax rates, levies that topped 90 percent on income over $200,000, would have no staying power. The relentless assaults of America’s wealthiest would over time grind them down. Egalitarians in other developed nations saw the same dynamic.

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Jeff Bryant

‘Education Wave’ Inspires New Candidates and Voters

A new wave of education voters may well make Dr. David Garcia the next governor of Arizona, where the professor, school administrator and Democratic nominee is taking on GOP incumbent Doug Ducey. “Democrats see education as Ducey’s greatest vulnerability,” according to Governing magazine. Similarly, AP reports, “Education is one of the top issues in Arizona’s gubernatorial race.” García is one of 550 educators nationwide who are running in November, riding a nationwide wave of teacher protests against low wages and inadequate school funding. 20,000 Arizona public school teachers walked off their jobs earlier this year, rallying around the hashtag #RedForEd. In the midst of a nationwide crisis for school funding, especially in red states, Arizona is the state where Republicans have cut education spending more severely, arguably, than any other.

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Miles Mogulescu

Will the FBI’s Kavanaugh Probe Be a White House Coverup?

If you want to discover the truth instead of cover it up, would you appoint the accused’s lawyer to supervise and control the investigation of the charges against him? Hagen and Corleone, or Kavanaugh and McGahn? Photo credit: The Godfather Wiki That’s exactly what the Trump White House and Senate Republicans are doing with the one-week FBI investigation. They’ve appointed White House Counsel Don McGahn to oversee the FBI investigation, determine its scope, and  authorize, or refuse to authorize whom the FBI may interview. McGahn is the Federalist Society insider and White House counsel who steered Trump to pick Kavanaugh from the list of Far-Right Supreme Court candidates the Society put on his desk. He has since been in charge of shepherding Kavanaugh’s nomination through the Senate, advising the candidate in Judicial Committee hearings.

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Josie Mooney

Kavanaugh Is A Liar: His Words Don’t ‘Ring True’

We’re all so busy these days that I can barely remember what I did yesterday. I may forget that paper I promised to send, or where I left my keys. Like all of you, I work hard, so it’s easy to get distracted. In sharp contrast, I remember every unwanted and aggressive sexual advance ever made on me by a man. The first happened decades ago, when I was five: our handyman tried to play a new game with me in our basement. Fortunately, my mama walked in just in time. The last happened just a few days ago, when a lewd man affronted me on a nature trail. There have been many incidents between. I know I am not alone in this. Some of these men were strangers. Others I knew and trusted – mentors, colleagues and friends. Many I forgave – because they apologized, showed a capacity to correct, or because life is simply too short. But I remember them all.

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Jessica Juarez Scruggs

We Speak, We Remember, We Will Win

“It was years ago – can’t she just let it go? Let the man be!” That’s what a West Virginian shouted to me before he slammed his phone down. I was an hour into a phone bank, calling voters in the state, asking them to contact Senator Joe Manchin and tell him to vote NO on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Members of West Virginia Citizen Action Group I was one of hundreds of organizers and members from People’s Action groups across the country, including the Maine People’s Alliance, West Virginia Citizen Action and Hometown Action in Alabama, who have stepped up to demand their representatives stop Kavanaugh from ascending to the Supreme Court, where he can cast deciding votes against women, workers and voters for decades to come. During the daylong phone bank, I heard many reasons to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination.

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Leo Gerard

The Rich Want To Take Away Your Right To Vote

Democracy is tough for one-percenters. They’ve got all that money but, hypothetically, no more voting power than their chauffeur or yacht captain or nanny. In this one-person, one-vote democracy, though, they’ve got a plan to fix all that for themselves. They’re paying for it. And they’re accomplishing it, even though that means stripping voting rights from non-rich minority groups. Their goal is to make America more of a one-dollar, one-vote plutocracy. Their scheme is deeply offensive to democratic ideals. In a perfect democracy, each citizen possesses the same power of self-governance as all other individuals, no matter how poor or rich, no matter their religion or skin color, no matter their country of origin or ancestry.

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Sam Pizzigati

Does the United States Have a ‘Strong’ Economy?

Long-time Republican Party political strategists are having fits. If only we could get average Americans to focus in on the economy instead of The Donald, they’re telling all comers, the GOP would do just fine in the upcoming November midterm elections. Those Republican strategists should be careful what they wish for. Getting average Americans to focus in on the economy ought to be the last thing in the world they want voters to do. That economy is doing average Americans no favors. And now we have some powerful new evidence to that effect, from data-rich reports just released by the Census Bureau and one of America’s top independent analysts of household well-being, the Pew Research Center. Both sets of researchers tell the same story: Average Americans have no reason to be celebrating our contemporary economy.

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Jeff Bryant

Betsy DeVos Throws Favors to For-Profit Schools

The Democratic party has vowed to brand Republicans as the party of corruption in political campaigns for the upcoming midterm elections in November. Given the slew of scandal-ridden people that surround President Trump and the alleged crimes committed by Congressional Republicans who support the President, Democratic candidates have lots of fodder to stoke their messaging campaigns. Numerous current and former officials in Trump’s Cabinet have also been dogged by corruption accusations that have forced some to resign under a “cloud of ethics scandals.” But perhaps one of the most corrupt cabinet officials still in office is Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and there are ample reasons Democrats should highlight her in their messaging campaign.

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Miles Mogulescu

Stop the “Kavanaugh Coup” By Any Means Necessary

The biggest reason Republicans are frantically trying to rush Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation through, despite credible charges of sexual harassment and perjury, is that his confirmation would complete a slow-moving coup by their oligarchic donor class to turn American law back a hundred years. That was a time when, among other things: The Supreme Court blocked the enforcement of laws regulating the economy and the environment, including child labor laws and minimum wages. States were allowed the suppress the vote of African Americans and other minorities. Women and gays were not entitled the equal protection of the laws. Women were denied the right to control their own bodies. So there is nothing more important, right now, to the future of American democracy than blocking Kavanaugh’s confirmation, by any means necessary.

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Laurel Wales

Rising from the Grassroots to Win in November

Laurel Wales, People’s Action Deputy Director of Movement Politics, sat down with Our Future’s Leigh Friedman to talk about the outlook for grassroots candidates in November’s general election and beyond. This is part two of a two-part interview. OF: As all eyes turn towards general elections on November 6, what are you hoping for? We had some great victories in the primaries this year,  but the general election is about living in the world as it is – articulating and then pushing for something new. We fight against those who say change is not possible by proving them wrong. We pick flagship races, fight for them based on our theory of change, which sets us up for bigger, bolder wins in the 2020 election.

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Isaac Grimm

Turning New Hampshire From Red to Blue

New Hampshire is ready to flip from Red to Blue. Donald Trump likes to boast of his support in the Granite State, but the record turnout in Democratic primaries – more than 120,000, fifty thousand more than the last record – proves the bloom is now fully off the rose. Sorry, Donald – New Hampshire is no longer Trump Country, if it ever was.  Granite Staters are ready for real solutions, not just empty promises. With this massive turnout around Tuesday’s election, we are poised to flip the New Hampshire statehouse back to a Democratic majority, and elect more bold progressive candidates than ever.  Rights & Democracy is a grassroots organization that was launched two years ago in New Hampshire and Vermont to build a people-powered movement for justice and equality.

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Julia Solow

Fighting To Win Fair Housing In Westchester

It was decision time in Westchester County. After three years of debate and a contentious four-hour hearing, the village council in Ossining – a quiet town sandwiched between the Trump National Golf Course and Sing Sing prison – voted to approve the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA). The ETPA is a New York State program that secures lower rent increases for tenants in municipalities that approve it. In Ossining, it will offer rent protection for as many as 1,800 households: it’s the largest expansion of rent stabilization in our state in over three decades. Ossining takes pride in its diversity, but has struggled to keep housing within reach of longtime residents. The ETPA has been around since the seventies, but few municipalities have adopted it since then.

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Robert Borosage

A New Roadmap for Getting Change Done

The insurgent progressive movement has good reasons to celebrate as primary season comes to an end, much to the dismay of the corporate wing of the Democratic party. The victories of young, fresh insurgents get the most attention, but equally important is the beginning of reform within DNC, which gives state and local progressives a roadmap for party reform – and a mandate to get reforms done. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, having posed as a “man of the left” as he sought to fend off the primary challenge of Cynthia Nixon, scorned the “progressive insurgent wave” as “not even a ripple,” dismissing the stunning Congressional primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a “fluke.” Cuomo’s victory strut, purchased with millions in special interest money, gets it wrong as even the New York results suggests.

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Charlie Albanetti

Major Power Shake-Up As NY Ousts Establishment Dems

The center of power in New York government has shifted in a big way as six incumbent State Senators who were part of the Independent Democratic Conference – a group of Democrats who aligned with Republicans to keep a lock on the State Senate – lost Democratic primary campaigns to community candidates with serious progressive commitment. Congratulations to our endorsed candidates Jessica Ramos (13th), Zellnor Myrie (20th), Robert Jackson (31st), Alessandra Biaggi (34th), and Rachel May (53rd) defeated five incumbents who had been allied with the Republicans and were blocking progressive legislation for years. And to John Liu (11th), who beat a sixth IDC incumbent. Endorsed champion Julia Salazar (18th) also won a stunning upset in Brooklyn. This puts us within striking distance, finally, of a statehouse that is truly responsive to the needs of our communities.

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Jake Jacobs

New York’s Primary is a Charter-School Showdown

The September 13 primary in New York could re-energize and redefine the Democratic party in the state. It also might mean drastic change for the charter school industry. Photo credit: Michael Johnson/Thomas Good Zephyr Teachout, left, promises to challenge school privatization. Letitia “Tish” James vows to investigate discriminatory practices at charter schools. Both are running for New York Attorney General. Across the U.S., billionaire hedge fund managers have routinely secured support for charter schools through direct campaign donations to candidates, or the simple act of “loading” charter school PACs with millions of dollars, which frightens potential critics into silence. But public support for charters is waning.

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Laurel Wales

Hope, Votes and “The Politics of Joy”

As 2018 primaries draw to a close, People’s Action Deputy Director of Movement Politics Laurel Wales sits down with Leigh Friedman to talk about grassroots candidates we’ve supported and the importance of what she calls “the politics of joy.” This is part one of two. OF: First, what are movement politics and how do they differ from a traditional approach? LW:  Movement politics are about centering on people who have been impacted by decisions that get made at City Hall, in statehouses, or the halls of Congress, and making sure they’re stepping up to lead: organizing locally in their community around different campaigns, all the way up to running for elected office. I’ve spent time with recently with our member organization Take Action Minnesota.

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Cara deRose

Mainers Tell Sen. Collins No! on Kavanaugh

As the confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh nears, Senator Susan Collins’ approval rating has fallen to a new low of 35 percent, according to a recent poll. Comments from some of the over 500 attendees at a Unite for Justice rally in Portland reflect Mainers’ growing disillusionment with the senator, who is sometimes hailed as a “moderate” capable of challenging Republican leadership, and her noncommittal statements about whether or not she will vote for Kavanaugh. Bill Matthews, a resident of South Portland who said a vote for Kavanaugh would “cement” Collins’ legacy. Photo credit: Maine Beacon / cc “Maine has a strong tradition of people who are centrist and that all Mainers can trust,” said Portland resident Emily Wall.

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