WNDC Statement

October 29, 2018

WNDC Statement: Carnage at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh

Members of the Woman’s National Democratic Club are outraged and sickened over Saturday’s horrific slaughter of our fellow human beings during Jewish Shabbat services. We are witnessing yet another mass shooting rampage brought about by a lethal combination: hate and an obscene and easy access to military-style weapons. An assassin’s act of hate-fueled violence has terminated the futures of 11 people and forever altered the lives of their loving families and the community where they lived and worshipped.

This atrocity, coming on the heels of last week’s racially motivated killing of two African Americans in a Kentucky grocery store and a pipe bomb mass assassination attempt against prominent Democrats and a cable-news network, has us rightfully questioning whether #45’s vindictive venom is breathing new life into this recent spate of violence. This is a legitimate concern and should be debated, along with the spread of outrageous conspiracy theories. However, one thing is abundantly clear about the unique epidemic of gun violence in this country: our weak gun laws are the culprit, they are destroying us, and our current NRA-owned leaders will do nothing to save us from tomorrow’s carnage.

We believe that all of us should be able to worship at our temples or churches, to enjoy a concert or cinema, or to learn at schools without the fear that each day could be our last. We grieve for the Pittsburgh Squirrel Hill community, and we owe it nothing less than to stay anchored in our belief that meaningful gun laws WILL make a difference.

In this connection, let us campaign these last eight days like we have never campaigned before to elect candidates to the House and Senate who are committed to end gun violence. (See our list of those candidates who have been endorsed by major gun reform advocacy groups HERE)

“The sole option we have to save ourselves … is for all of us; progressive Christians and humanists and Muslims and Atheists and Jews and Agnostics to vote in November; in vast numbers, in unwavering unity, and unreservedly Blue.” (Christian pastor and author John Pavlovitz, October 23, 2018)


PPC Issues Watch 1

October 26, 2018

What Has Been the Impact of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law on the Homicide Rate?  New Analysis Shows Starkly Increased Bloodshed

Last week the Center for American Progress Action Fund released an analysis showing that approximately 4,200 people have been killed by guns and that these murders were a “direct result of its ‘stand your ground” law passed in 2005.”  This represents a 31.6% increase in the homicide rate and an increase of 8% over the nation’s overall rate.

The study found that not only could lives have been spared without this law, but also that there is a racial component in the application of the law as well.


“Stand your ground” laws basically empower people to use lethal force in a situation where retreat would be a viable option or use of a weapon other than a gun.  With good reason, they are often referred to as “shoot first” laws by gun reform advocacy groups.  As in most states, Florida’s 2005 “stand your ground” law came into existence with a big helping hand from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), working hand in hand with the NRA.  Florida’s law in particular came under scrutiny on the national stage in February of 2012 when George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator, shot and killed a 17-year-old African American boy by the name of Trayvon Martin, asserting that he was acting suspicious and that Martin had attacked him.

Other studies preceded CAP’s recent analysis and provided evidence that these laws do indeed increase homicide rates.  How did the Florida legislature respond?  It decided to expand the law, making prosecutions even more difficult!

Importance of Midterm Elections

Gun reform is one of the top issues of concern to voters throughout the country, and the WNDC Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence has published a list of those candidates seeking federal office who are committed to sensible gun laws, such as universal background checks.

As to Florida specifically and its “stand you ground” law, there is a stark difference in how the two gubernatorial candidates stand.  As this report concludes, Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly expressed his support for the law, while Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum believes the law has “created a state of emergency in Florida” and says that if elected, he will issue an executive order suspending the law.

The choice is clear!  Urge your family and friends to Vote for Gillum!  The effects from Florida’s “Stand your Ground” Law have been devastating!

Read the CAP Action Fund Full Report HERE.



PPC Issues Watch 1

October 19, 2018


The EPA under Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has the same agenda as it did under Scott Pruitt: weaken environmental regulations to benefit big corporations. The Obama Clean Power Plan (CPP), if implemented, would have greatly cut greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants from the generation of electrical energy. EPA now wants to make coal great again with the misnamed Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule. It would allow states to set their own regulations on power plant emissions, with basically no national standards or accountability. ACE would allow considerably more carbon dioxide emissions than envisaged by the CPP, and it would also lift requirements for controls on the poisons that accompany coal-fired electric generation (e.g., sulfur dioxide, soot, methane, nitrogen oxide.) As reported by the Washington Post, it would also incentivize owners of failing coal plants to keep them running longer.[1]

If this proposal is enacted, it will save some energy companies money by lifting regulatory requirements, but it will be terribly costly in many other ways. Weakening steps to reduce greenhouse gas production is a dangerous backward step in the face of the current and future impacts of climate change. Further, allowing more emissions of particulants and toxic gases into our air will have immediate and long-term effects on public health in the form of more asthma, various cancers, and heart disease.

The deadline to submit public comments on this poisonous plan is October 31st. You are urged to submit your comments in opposition to the dangerous ACE rule now. You can submit a comment either directly to the EPA, referencing Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0355, or through the Union of Concerned Scientists at ucsaction@ucsusa.org.

Oppose the Administration’s attempts to sacrifice our health and the future of our planet to short-term company profits!

–Jean Stewart
Chair, Earth and Environment TF

[1] Washington Post, August 21, 2018


PPC Issues Watch 1

September 21, 2018


A little over two months ago, on July 17, EPA Acting Director Wheeler issued a revival of former Director Pruitt’s attempt to relax regulations of coal ash storage facilities at coal-fired power plants.  An article in the Issues Watch eblast of July 20 (“Coal Ash Redux”) announced this dangerous move, and described the heavy metals and other toxic pollutants found in coal ash.  Now Florence’s flooding has made the warnings about at least one of these dangerous sludge pits come true in North Carolina.  The Southern Environment Law Center reports that Duke Energy’s Sutton Power Station, near Wilmington, N.C., has experienced leaks of its coal ash pit into Sutton Lake.[1]  Sutton Lake is a large public lake used for recreational fishing and boating. It is also connected to the Cape Fear River.

Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette of @CapeFearRiver reported on September 16th that there were at least two sections of Duke Energy’s Sutton coal ash landfill overflowing into Sutton Lake. #HurricaneFlorence


As of 9:45 a.m., both breaches were “very large,” according to Burdette, with a “waterfall’ actively pouring out.  He reported that the discharge was continuing during Florence’s rainfall events, and said that he was concerned that the discharge would enter the Cape Fear River just north of Wilmington, NC.

Duke Energy did report a release of coal ash from the plant into Sutton Lake in the amount of 2,000 cubic yards of material—which the SELC says is enough to fill 150 dump trucks—but Duke officials said they did not believe the spill “will have an impact on the environment.”

Duke Energy has several other coal-fired power plants across North and South Carolina, many being affected by Florence’s floods.  All of these plants have coal ash storage areas, mostly unlined.  It remains to be seen how much more of this poisonous muck will wash out of the pits as the flooding continues, ending up in drinking water and in fish that local people eat.  Relaxing regulations will enable still more environmental disasters across the country, but Duke Energy and other coal-dependent power companies will save a lot of money.  But at what cost to public health?

— Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force, Public Policy Committee

  1. Southern Environmental Law Center report, “Coal ash infrastructure fails in wake of Florence’s destruction”, Sept. 17, 2018.



PPC Issues Watch 1

September 14, 2018


In a recent New York Times opinion piece, Paul Krugman makes a point that cannot be over emphasized: “if Kavanaugh is confirmed, we will be trying to navigate a turbulent era in American politics with a Supreme Court in which two seats were effectively stolen. First Republicans refused even to give President Barack Obama’s nominee so much as a hearing; then they will have filled two positions with nominees chosen by a President who lost the popular vote and eked out an Electoral College win only with aid from a hostile foreign power”

(“Kavanaugh Will Kill the Constitution” 9/6/18). In Krugman’s view, there is every indication that Kavanaugh and his fellow justices will abuse their power at every level.  The movement to an authoritarian America will get a big push forward by the confirmation of Kavanaugh.

The media show no signs that they will be helpful in countering this authoritarian drive. They   are already in gear to return to the framework for reporting they are comfortable with, namely that everything is all – and only – about partisan politics, phrased in Trump terms of  “winners and losers.” They have been highlighting that the Democratic Senators in the confirmation hearings should only be seen as potential Presidential candidates. Analysis of what they are actually saying is minor background noise.

–Elizabeth Spiro Clark, Vice President, Public Policy and Political Action


Roll Call Rates Ten House Republican Seats the Most Vulnerable:

Eight Democratic Challengers are Gun Sense Candidates!

This week Roll Call posted an article entitled “The 10 Most Vulnerable House Members in 2018 List Remains All Republican.”  My own research has revealed that of those 10 seats, 8 are races where the Democratic challengers have been endorsed by one or more major gun reform advocacy groups as candidates who stand for gun safety.  Here is the rundown on those 8 candidates:

Anthony Brindisi (NY-22).  New York State Assemblyman Brindisi is challenging Republican incumbent Claudia Tenney, a first-term conservative.  Endorsed by Giffords PAC, Gabby had this to say: “Anthony knows that you can respect the Second Amendment and still take action to make our communities safer from gun violence. In Congress, Anthony will fight for background checks on all gun sales, barring domestic abusers from obtaining firearms, and a ten-day waiting period for purchasing guns.”  Roll Call Race Rating:  Toss-up

Angie Craig (MN-2).  A former journalist and healthcare and business leader, Angie is an advocate for marriage equality.  The Republican incumbent Jason Lewis won this seat against Craig two years ago by less than two points.  “Angie Craig stands ready to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens while keeping guns out of the hands of violent felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people,” says Gabby Giffords.  Roll Call Race Rating:  Toss-up

Jason Crow (CO-6).  Army veteran Jason Crow is challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman in a district where Clinton won by 10 points.  Among other steps to prevent gun violence, Crow supports expanded background checks, restriction of bump stock sales, prevention of concealed gun carry reciprocity, and the ban of military-style assault weapons and accessories.  Roll Call Race Rating:  Toss-up

Antonio Delgado (NY-19).  Delgado is running against Republican incumbent Rep. John Faso.  If elected, he would be the first nonwhite representative in the 19th District. He started his own company, empowering young people to learn through music, and then began a second career as an attorney fighting for what’s fair and just. As to the gun issue, he believes we need to treat gun violence as a public health crisis.  Although this district flipped from Obama to Trump, Roll Call rates this race as a Toss-up.

Katie Hill (CA-25).  Republican incumbent Rep. Steve Knight faces nonprofit executive Katie Hill in this district that Clinton carried by 7 points.  While the district has been a reliable Republican stronghold, it is growing increasingly more diverse.  At 30 years old and as Executive Director, Hill has already raised the organization PATH from a local force for good in L.A. with a $5M budget to the largest non-profit provider of homes for the homeless in the entire state.  Hill believes one can simultaneously respect the Second Amendment while also advocating for gun safety measures.  While Roll Call still rates this race as Tilts Republican, The Cook Report rates it as a Toss-up.

Conor Lamb (PA-17).  Democratic Representative Lamb narrowly won a special election in the neighboring District 18 in March.  District 17 now falls within his home district after maps were redrawn.  The new 17th District is held by Republican Keith Rothfus.  A former Marine Corps Captain and federal prosecutor, Lamb is not one of the strongest gun-sense candidates; however, because of his support for legislation to expand background checks, he was endorsed by Giffords PAC.  Roll Call Race Rating:  Leans Democratic.

Harley Rouda (CA-48).  Russia-friendly Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher will face Democratic challenger Harley Rouda in this heretofore reliable Republican territory.  Rouda is a businessman, philanthropist, lawyer, and entrepreneur, primarily known for working with companies that make people’s lives better. Rouda believes “we need to enact common-sense reforms that will keep all Americans safe.”  Roll Call Race Rating:  Toss-up.

Jennifer Wexton (VA-10).  Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock enjoys an “A“ rating from the NRA, while her challenger Democratic State Senator Jennifer Wexton has made gun violence prevention a top priority in the Virginia Assembly and vows to carry that fight to the U.S. Congress.  Both Roll Call and The Cook Political Report rate this race as Tilts Democratic.  Join WNDC Members on October 2, 6:30-8:00 p.m. for a reception to benefit Jennifer’s race!

— Shelly Livingston, Acting Chair, Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence


Updating Clean Energy Campaign in DC

A coalition of numerous groups, supported by the WNDC, has been working for the last two years for the DC Council to pass legislation to greatly reduce the city’s carbon footprint.  The campaign aimed to put a price on carbon emissions and use the revenue for rebates to DC residents.  This turned out not to be a workable plan.  However, through much effort and many meetings with coalition members, Council Member Mary Cheh, and business representatives, we now have a strong bill that, if adopted, will put the District in a real leadership position in the fight to slow climate change and carbon pollution.

CM Cheh, chair of the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee, recently introduced the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018.  There are many moving parts to this bill, but in brief it includes transitioning the District to 100% clean electricity by 2032.  This means that by 2032, all our electricity would come from renewable sources like wind and solar, and would be the strongest clean energy law in the country. The bill would also create new and stronger building efficiency standards, increase funding for local green initiatives, and provide assistance to low-income residents through ratepayer help and programs to improve residential energy efficiency.

It appears that the Council will schedule a hearing on the bill sometime in October.  It has to be passed by CM Cheh’s Committee, likely a done deal, but also by CM McDuffie’s Business and Economic Development Committee, where the bill’s future is less certain.  The DC Climate Coalition, the successor to the original PutAPriceOnItDC coalition, will be working on advocating for this legislation with no weakening of its currently very strong provisions for our environmental future.

–Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force, Public Policy Committee



PPC Issues Watch 1

July 20, 2018

NRA Potentially Colludes with Russian Spy While IRS Rules that the Gun Group No Longer Needs to Disclose Its Dark Money Donor Names

Just when you thought it was impossible to hear any more shocking news this week, a Russian female spy was indicted on charges of conspiracy to advance the interests of the Russian Federation through the NRA.  Within 24 hours the IRS decided that 501 (c) (4) groups like the NRA will no longer need to disclose their major donors.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Did the NRA funnel money to influence the 2016 election?   We’ll see.  Also, is it another coincidence that the NRA spent millions more supporting Trump than any previous Presidential candidate?  Read an updated photo timeline of alleged Spy Maria Butina’s meetings with NRA leaders and prominent Republican politicians here.

Administration Says It’s Okay to Fire People Because They’re Gay

Yep, while we watched with horror the coverage of #45’s disastrous performance in Europe, his Department of so-called Justice actually argued in court that gay people shouldn’t be protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In everyday practice, of course, this means that employers would be able to fire an employee based solely on his or her sexual orientation.

View “Ring of Fire”  video commentary.

The Two Trump Sons’ Secret Service Costs Almost $250,000 for a Single Month

As #45 wrecks our alliances and reputation abroad, his sons are helping him drain the Treasury.  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reported this week that primarily due to business-related international trips, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded travel and other costs for Secret Service protection, including one month so expensive it came close to a quarter million dollars.  If you’re not sufficiently outraged, elevate your blood pressure a little more here. Kleptocracy marches on!

The Treasury Drains Even More:  #45’s Military Parade Scheduled for November 10

Speaking of marches, what some have called the “Look at Me Everybody Military Parade,” scheduled for November 10, will drain the Treasury of another $12 million — at a minimum.  Previous estimates were twice that amount, so I would go with the latter.  How might this money be used for a better cause? Some are estimating that every homeless veteran could be fed for at least two weeks.  Other sources remind us that the cost is mostly equivalent to the military exercise with South Korea, which #45 cancelled because it is “tremendously expensive.”  This is a lot of Treasury, folks, just to feed an ego!

–Shelly Livingston, Vice Chair, Committee on Public Policy and Political Action



The line from The Who’s classic rock song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” that says “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” is never so true as at the EPA.  Rejoicing over the departure of Scott Pruitt may have been warranted in terms of his multitude of ethical lapses, but the new Acting Administrator is cut from exactly the same policy cloth. Andrew Wheeler, who was Pruitt’s Deputy, was a longtime lobbyist for Murray Energy, a large and powerful coal company.  He also served on the staff of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), a well-known climate change denier who infamously “proved” that climate change wasn’t happening by bringing a snowball onto the floor of the Senate.

When Wheeler was recently designated Acting Administrator, he gave pretty speeches about being “transparent” and promoting realistic environmental regulations.  Although his conduct may not be egregious like Pruitt’s, he is perhaps more dangerous in that he is experienced in the ways of government, and knows how to maneuver around Capitol Hill.  Unlike the old boss, he knows how to avoid big PR disasters.

In April, Pruitt issued a draft regulation loosening safety requirements for coal ash storage.  Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal, and is typically stored as a slurry in holding ponds at about 400 coal-fired power plants.  The slurry is a nightmare combination of heavy metals like cobalt, lead, cadmium, and other toxins like arsenic.  There have been two major spills of this toxic sludge in the last decade, in Tennessee and North Carolina, that polluted each area’s drinking water.  Pruitt’s proposed regulation would have loosened the requirements for Federal inspection of storage ponds for possible leaks, risks of dam failure, and for the presence of these chemicals in surrounding ground water.  Pruitt was forced to withdraw the proposal when environmental activists discovered that it was based not on scientific evidence, but on a four-page document from an industry trade group.

However, the new boss has just introduced (on July 17th) basically the same proposal to allow states to set their own standards, and to scale back monitoring requirements.[1]  The industry is delighted, as this will save between $28 million and $31 million per year in compliance costs. The industry’s own data shows, however, that many of the existing coal ash ponds are already leaking. What will this cost in terms of public health expense?  What will the next catastrophic spill cost?  How reliable is state regulation and inspection in light of the Flint water crisis?  It is interesting to note that Murray Energy has been a prime mover in pushing for relaxation of coal ash regulations.

–Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force

[1] Washington Post, “EPA eases rule on handling of toxic coal ash,” Thursday, July 19, 2018.



While #45 has been attempting to destroy NATO and cozying up to Vlad Putin, he and his congressional Republicans have been continuing to dismantle health care for American citizens.

By executive fiat, the president has:

  • Eliminated CSR’s (cost sharing reductions) which lowers the costs that individual Americans must pay for their health insurance through the ACA (Affordable Care Act),
  • Eliminated the “individual mandate” that every person must purchase health insurance. Without the mandate, only the very ill will be insured and they will be forced to pay enormous premiums, or they will do without medical care.
  • Eliminated the mandate that health insurance policies pay for EHBs (essential health benefits) which means that a person can discover that Emergency Room visits, prenatal care, and preventive care are not covered and that thousands of dollars “out of pocket” will have to be paid for medical care.
  • Eliminated the mandate that all treatments for preexisting health conditions be paid for by the health insurance company.
  • Cut funding by 92 percent for Navigators who answer questions and provide assistance with the healthcare.gov website that facilitates purchasing health insurance through the ACA.

And the House of Representatives voted to strip SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) away from 6.5 million veterans of 23000 active duty households who qualify for benefits to feed their families.

Yet again, Medicare and Social Security also are being discussed by Republicans for massive cuts in benefits. Stay tuned.

We must be watchful of all presidential and congressional efforts to shred our national safety net programs to pay for the massive tax cuts that were the very first order of business for this president and his Congress. Republicans have no social consciences and no hearts.

–Karen Pataky, Chair, Health Policy Task Force



PPC Issues Watch 1

July 13, 2018


Two weeks have passed since the June 28 massacre of five Capital Gazette staff — the only terrorist attack that has killed journalists within their newsroom aimed at silencing it completely.

This story shouldn’t die. We must demand accountability and action from the president, including answers to the following questions, printed in the media.

  • Does the Trump administration recognize the Capital Gazette slaying as a terrorist attack?
  • Will the president change his behavior which includes hundreds of negative, name-calling, mean tweets of The New York Times, NBC, CNN and Fake News that prompted Sen. Jeff Flake to highlight those comments as reminiscent of Joseph Stalin and Sen. John McCain to criticize portraying the media as the enemy of the American people?
  • Does he believe his behavior encouraged this attack?
  • Does he regret what he has admitted is a strategy to discredit negative coverage?
  • Will he stop criticizing those who peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights, recognizing it encourages, condones, and/or motivates elements within our society whose agenda is one of hatred and discrimination?
  • What will he do to keep firearms from those who harass or abuse women, given a high percentage of mass murders are preceded by stalking, harassment, abuse or killing of a woman by the shooter?
  • What legislation does he support to reduce gun violence?



PPC Issues Watch 1

July 6, 2018


Any logical system of background checks for gun purchases would have stopped the Capital Gazette Newspaper killer, Jarrod Ramos.  He had been fired from his job as a government contract employee and had conducted social media crusades against the criminal justice system, his local newspaper the Gazette, and a mental health counseling facility. He was a convicted woman harasser. He “friended” an old classmate on Facebook, telling her to go “kill herself” (NYT6/30) and then harassed her attorney. He was sentence to 18 months of supervised probation.

Even though Maryland has some of the strictest gun safety laws in the nation, Ramos passed a background check.  In addition, shotguns and rifles are not on a list of “regulated firearms” under state law. In October, Maryland will be one of 11 states that authorize “extreme risk protection orders,” also known as ERPO or Red Flag, but only certain people can file a petition.

Maryland Democratic legislators immediately vowed to tighten existing laws to address this mass shooting.  Meanwhile, our Republican-led Congress remains compliantly silent as the carnage continues. As we know, the easy accessibility of any type of deadly weapons sets us apart from the rest of the world. We need a national solution and will only get one when we change the makeup of Congress.  See our list of candidates who have been endorsed by major gun reform advocacy groups here.

–Elizabeth Spiro Clark, Chair, Committee on Public Policy and Political Action
–Shelly Livingston, Chair, Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence



PPC Issues Watch 1

June 29, 2018


If you reacted as I did, you were paralyzed, as if you had been “hit over the head by a 2×4,” as Rachel Maddow put it. Paralysis was soon followed by despondency and anxiety.  The booze wasn’t helping. I needed resuscitation, and Rachel’s show at 9:00 pm administered CPR.  Yep, she has a fairly simple plan to stop #45’s nomination to the Supreme Court. It’s a long shot, but it provides some glimmer of hope. “If Democrats are going to do this, every single Democrat in the Senate will need to agree to not be a doormat – that shouldn’t be that hard!” she joked. “And every single Republican senator including the pro-choice ones, will have to decide if they want to go down in history as the deciding vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade and make abortion illegal in the United States.”

Here’s the video of her comments.


–Shelly Livingston, Vice Chair, Public Policy and Political Action Committee



In the midst of a tumultuous week, we’d like to lift up an event of tremendous proportions.

Twenty-eight-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, outspent 18:1, defeated 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley by 12 points in the Democratic primary for a House seat in New York’s 14th District.

Surely, the buzz will continue about the implications for Democratic Congressional leadership, the 2018 Congressional elections, and for the nation in the upcoming weeks, especially as the traditional mainstream media largely ignored the campaign of the former Bernie Sanders organizer.

But for now, we’ll pass on three observations.

  • She is part of groups extremely underrepresented in Congress versus the overall population. (Congress is about -12 percent for Hispanic-Americans, -31 percent for women, and -20 percent for millennials versus the US.)
  • Her platform for equality and opportunity – Medicare for all, a nationwide $15 minimum wage, tuition-free public universities, 100 percent renewable energy — is similar to that which proved to be surprisingly resonant in 2016.
  • Everything from her campaign to her personality (and her campaign personality) is an inspiration to us all.

Ocasio-Cortez is a rising Democratic star to watch and support.

–Veena Trehan, Chair, Global Women Task Force



PPC Issues Watch 1

June 22, 2018

#WhereAreTheGirls (And Their Rights)?

Many questions remain about the heart-wrenching separation of parents from their children at the Mexico-US border. From questions about our national identity asked in TIME’s July 2 cover story (“What kind of country are we?”) to the immediate and crucial #WhereAreTheGirls?, a hashtag that calls attention to the lack of girls in photos of children separated from their parents provided by the Department of Homeland Security. The hashtag has been tweeted at least 125,000 times since the April 6 imposition of “zero tolerance” has been used to justify separating children from their parents at the border. The question is all the more powerful after the administration’s dehumanizing, pre-genocidal language  against Latin Americans (“animals,” “infest,” etc.), the characterization of this policy as a negotiating tool, and continued manifest disrespect for the law, women, and people of color.

The executive order of June 30 may end this practice. Yet urgent questions remain:

  • “Where are the girls (and other children)?” The release of photos and audio by brave journalists and citizens have only amplified concerns about the 2,300 children separated from their parents. Have they been placed in cages? Were they placed in detention centers or with relatives? How do we know they not been trafficked? Which leads to …
  • Where is the oversight to ensure they are kept in safe and humane facilities with appropriate support? Is there 24/7 video that shows that they’ve been kept safe with their human rights met (to the extent they can be in a policy that has been widely described as “child abuse”)? What are the guidelines and evidence to ensure they are kept in places that, in terms of facility, staff, and emotional perspective, are protective of their human rights? Are they/should they get physical and other evaluations to ensure they were not abused? What is the evidence that there is a process to investigate and address abuses, even in the light of new revelations from an immigrant youth center in Virginia?
  • What will happen to them now? What is the process to reunite them with their parents? Where will they be? Will press be present? This process appears far too complicated and slow, given our government has been instrumental in disrupting the lives of these children.
  • Why should any of them be in facilities? What is the rationale for where they will be?
  • How on Earth could $775 have been spent on them per night if they were not in one of the nicest resorts nationwide with free food, activities, and education and support? This is stated ironically; financial concerns are far less important than the health and wellbeing of these children. Still, we will note that a number of airlines and corporate employees have spoken out against supporting these inhumane policies, placing people above profit.
  • And, finally, who will tell the complex story of foreign policy decisions, including NAFTA and US support for undemocratic, oppressive, or corrupt governments, that have contributed to the ravages of these nations and the scores of children fleeing them?

All this is unfolding while we have  happier news about world leaders and little girls: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became the first world leader to give birth in 28 years; an affirmation we can move beyond human rights to equal opportunity for women at the highest level. But for now, we must demand answers, accountability, and an affirmation of who we are as a nation.

— PPC Task Forces on Global Women and on Social and Economic Justice




Many of the earliest voices of moral outrage about the Trump immigration family policy came from women! Specifically, the former First Ladies of America spoke clearly and forcefully against the “zero tolerance” immigration policy that is leading to migrant families being separated at the US-Mexico border. The former First Ladies, joining a chorus of criticism, called this practice “immoral,” “disgraceful,” and a “humanitarian crisis.” They are appalled by how the Trump administration has used children as pawns in this immigration policy-border situation.

President Trump, under tremendous pressure for this controversial immigration policy (ordering immigrants being taken into federal criminal custody, at which point their children are considered unaccompanied minors and taken away) caved Thursday and reversed course. Trump now calls for a program of keeping children with their parents. He presented no plans, details, or timelines on how the federal government will do this.

2,300 children are here, detained in 17 states separated from their parents. However, with the administration providing no information, questions are being asked:  Where are the toddlers? Where are the girls? So far, the “zero tolerance” policy remains!

Here are the former First Ladies’ words on this inhumane Trump policy:

Laura Bush

“I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” she wrote in a          Sunday Washington Post op-ed on Father’s Day. “Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso.”

Bush compared the current administration’s warehousing of immigrants in detention facilities to the internment camps in the U S during World War II. The former First Lady said, “These images are eerily reminiscent of the internment camps for U.S. citizens and non-citizens of Japanese descent during World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.”

Michelle Obama 

Mrs. Obama seconds Laura Bush’s criticism of the child separation policy (the practice of separating immigrant children from their undocumented parents) in an op-ed she published in the Washington Post last Sunday, by writing: “Sometimes truth transcends party.”

Hillary Clinton

Mrs. Clinton called the situation at the border “a humanitarian crisis.” “Every parent who has ever held a child in their arms, every human being with a sense of compassion and decency, should be outraged.”

“We should be a better country than one that tears families apart, turns a blind eye to women fleeing domestic violence, and treats frightened children as a means to a political end.”

Rosalynn Carter

Mrs. Carter, in a statement released by the Carter Center, condemned the Trump administration’s approach.

“The practice and policy today of removing children from their parents’ care at our border with Mexico is disgraceful and a shame to our country.”




As the second anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub massacre was remembered this week, it seems this horrific shooting is driving voting expectations on the issue of gun reform among LGBTQ voters. About 50% of those polled in a survey by Whitman Insight Strategies and Buzzfeed News indicated that the shooting influenced their views on needed gun legislation.  In addition, more than any other issue, gun reform was named as their top priority, with 71% saying that a candidate’s position on guns would impact their vote.  The most popular-backed measures are:  universal background checks, banning sales to those convicted of hate crimes, and a ban on high-capacity magazines.  Read more here.

— Shelly Livingston, Acting Chair, Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence



PPC Issues Watch 1

June 15, 2018


Trump’s actions to tear down America’s alliances reached new heights when he cancelled his signature to the G-7 communiqué issued on June 9. Not only did he insult this coalition of democracies, which once was proudly led by America, but also he was particularly insulting to the prime minister of our main ally, Canada. This dismissal of our longtime allies came just as Trump made nice to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un – a dictator who has killed his close relatives, puts large numbers of his citizens in concentration camps, and can call out the military to kill anyone at any time or on a whim.

What does this tell us about Trump, and what should be our response to him? Is Trump’s behavior to fulfill campaign promises, and, if so, what do we learn from his electorate’s reaction? Are these actions from a desire to accrue dictatorial powers?

Trump has indeed explicitly renounced human rights and democracy as factors in his foreign policy and supported the practice of torture. He also insists he is above the law, able to pardon himself. Trump clearly prefers not to deal with the leader of a democracy like Justin Trudeau, by Trump’s definition “weak.” Trump does not want to deal with European societies who have chosen not to militarize their societies, instead mistakenly castigating them for their small average tariff of 3%. Instead, he has chosen to consort with fellow dictators Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, China’s President for life.

America will have no chance of returning to its norms and values and democratic institutions if Trump isn’t curbed soon. We must take back the Senate and the House of Representatives to effectuate these curbs and prevent his reelection – if he is still in office in 2020. Hopefully not.

Elizabeth Spiro Clark, Chair, Committee on Public Policy and Political Action



On a hot Saturday morning, a wave of blue formed on the Washington Monument grounds in the shadow of Mz. Blue, a life size inflatable blue whale.  Promptly at noon, the blue wave—a large throng of us mostly in blue shirts—poured out onto the surrounding streets, up and around the White House, and back to the monument grounds.  Included in the blue wave were E&E Task Force members Jean Stewart, Arlene and Tom Gross, and Anne Montgomery.  On the march we met a mermaid, a merman, a six-foot tall Nemo, and a very cool shark in sunglasses. There was also a woman in a dress and parasol all made entirely of single-use plastic. Later, we heard inspiring speakers like Philippe Cousteau, Jr., grandson of Jacques Cousteau, and Michael Fishbach of the Great Whale Conservancy, who brought Mz. Blue to energize the march.

All of this was to advocate publicly and strongly for the health and future of the oceans and the creatures that live in them.  Earth’s oceans are foundational for all life on this planet.  We are demonstrating the damages to the oceans caused by climate change, and by the flood of plastic waste now pouring into the sea, and ultimately back into our own drinking water in the form of microparticles.  We demonstrate in the hopes that our voices will ignite a nationwide movement to save our precious ocean resources.

–Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force




PPC Issues Watch 1

May 25, 2018


A front-page article in the May 21 issue of the Washington Post announced a win for clean water in a battle with the EPA’s effort to relax regulations on storage of toxic coal ash. Coal ash contains concentrated heavy metals such as mercury and lead as by-products of coal burning power plants. It turns out, according to the Post, that the EPA based its attempt to ease containment regulations not on scientific research, but a four-page document from an industry trade group, the Edison Electric Institute. This, and other problems with the technical data, was discovered by environmental activists.

Another attempt to relax regulations, this time on fuel-efficiency rules for cars and certain types of trucks, has been temporarily halted by the Office of Management and Budget due to insufficient scientific research and a lack of information on economic impacts.

The latest attempt of Pruitt and his cronies to keep the public in the dark is the “summit” held by EPA on May 22. This was to discuss limits on the potentially toxic industrial chemicals polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFASs, in drinking water. The summit was forced by Democratic members of Congress disclosing a January meeting between the EPA and the American Chemistry Council to delay publication of a HHS study on the dangers to human health of PFAS levels in drinking water. Several journalists from CNN, the AP, and E&E News were ejected from the meeting. And prior to the summit. many community groups from areas contaminated by PFASs were excluded

Right-wing House Republicans came to the rescue unintentionally by defeating the Farm Bill last week. The chemical industry had quietly inserted provisions in the Bill prohibiting states and localities from enacting any further limitations on pesticides than in federal regulations.

All of the above shows the need for constant vigilance and close scrutiny of Pruitt and his industry apologists for every attempt to roll back regulations protecting our food, water, air, and overall health.

–Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force



A recent Washington Post survey of US House members regarding their stand on common sense gun proposals put forth by Parkland student activists revealed the following:

Only 12% of Republicans (29 out of 237) responded, and most of those who did came out strongly against the proposals. Happily, most of the Democratic delegation did respond and almost all affirmed their support

Click HERE to see entire list of these responses.



Click HERE to learn if your House Representative or Senators receive NRA support. DC residents, please share widely with friends and relatives who DO enjoy democratic representation.



As the White House occupant and his co-conspirators in Congress continue to drive the media narratives in a campaign to discredit democratic institutions, remember and share this quote widely:

CBS “60 Minutes” Correspondent Lesley Stahl just revealed a candid off-camera statement by the candidate and now White House occupant in 2016, where he flat out admits the attacks on media are indeed intended to discredit them. When she pressed him as to why he was doing this, he replied:

“You know why I do it?  I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”

Not that we didn’t already know what he was up to, but what took Lesley so long to share with us these words from the monster’s own mouth?

–Shelly Livingston, Vice Chair, Public Policy and Political Action Committee while vacationing in Puglia, Italy 



PPC Issues Watch 1

May 18, 2018


The WNDC is a partner organization of the March for the Ocean (M4O) on June 9, World Ocean Day. This support reflects the strong stands we have taken for protecting the environment and for resistance to the Administration’s denial of climate change and elimination of reasonable regulations protecting our earth.  Members and friends concerned for our oceans—their health, cleanliness, and the life within them—have a great opportunity to be part of the resistance by joining us on June 9. By participating in this March we can show our support for saving our seas, and for opposing the flood of pollution, especially plastic, pouring into the bays and oceans around us. The M4O slogan is “The ocean is rising, and so are we!”

The event will begin at 11:00am on the Washington Monument grounds near Constitution and 17th Streets (nearest Metro: Smithsonian, Mall exit). There will be music from 11:30am, and at noon the March begins: up 17th Street, around the White House, and back to the stage. Marchers will be accompanied by a life-sized inflatable blue whale!

Marchers are encouraged to wear blue, comfortable shoes, and a shade hat, and bring a canteen of water. Do NOT bring plastic!  M4O will be a plastic-free march!

After the March, from 1:30 to 3:00pm, there will be a program featuring such ocean heroes as Dr. Sylvia Earle, Philippe Cousteau, Paul Watson, Carl Safina, and Danni Washington.

Sister marches will be taking place on the same day across the country.  This is our opportunity “to say NO to offshore oil drilling and spilling; YES to corporate accountability for plastic pollution; NO to plastic and other forms of ocean pollution; YES to protecting our coastal communities; and YES to a healthy ocean and clean water for all.” (Quoted from the website).

Sign up and get more information at www.marchfortheocean.org.

–Jean Stewart,
Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force



Cruelty and Discrimination are not Acceptable Concepts of Governance for America

Sanctimonious Conservatives are stripping health care dollars from “those people” (AKA less fortunate American children and adults ) in tragic acts of cruelty called Rescission and Block Granting of Medicaid. Subsequent to ridiculous tax cuts for multinational corporations and the 10 percent, Republicans are discovering a several trillion dollar national deficit. “Oh my, let’s do rescission” they say. “Rescission” is double talk for “take back” of federal and state monies required to provide health care from our fellow Americans deemed “unworthy” or “mere animals.” The current Republican president and his lapdog legislators at national and state levels perceive financial sabotage of health care for less fortunate fellow citizens will slip by.

In addition to rescission, the classic theft of federal monies to care for less fortunate fellow citizens is Block Granting of Medicaid. Such is the Graham Cassidy Bill which encourages individual states to “experiment” with dispersal of Medicaid monies. Unfortunately history shows us spending such money on actual medical care is eliminated in favor of funding for building golf courses or stadiums etc.

The “unworthy” include disabled citizens (including some veterans), single pregnant women and single mothers as well as handicapped persons and elderly persons in need of nursing home care. “Those people” also include 70 million (or 1:5) children from day of birth to 21 years of age. The crux of the justification to steal Medicaid, and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children {food assistance}) is that “those people” are substandard human beings. “Those people” include darker skinned Americans, disabled persons, working poor and non-English speaking citizens

So again we must contact our #45 and national and state legislators to reject Graham Cassidy, and all rescissions. Phone calls are best.

White House: 202 456 1111, Congress: 202 225 3121 or 844 241 1141

Cruelty and discrimination are not acceptable concepts of governance.

–Karen Pataky, Chair, Health Policy Task Force



In early April, the Trump administration established a federal commission led by Secretary Betsy DeVos to look at “ideas” on how to prevent more school shootings.

Preliminary reports suggest this commission might only rubber stamp current proposals that are already endorsed by the administration, such as raising the minimum age required to buy a gun, increasing mental health access, and repeal of regulations concerning racial disparity in school discipline that were adopted by the Obama administration.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) believes the Obama administration’s “Rethink School Discipline”has led to “chaos” in the schools. He points out this guidance in 2014 has “discouraged schools from referring students to local law enforcement.” Critics, however, are concerned that emphasis on protecting schools from gun-wielding individuals should not be considered in conjunction with daily matters such as school discipline. The two issues, school discipline and gun control should not be conflated. They are concerned about students’ civil rights and point out that in the US, school suspensions from preschool through high school disproportionately impact students of color and students with disabilities.

–Dianna E. Washington, Ph.D.,
Chair, Education and Children’s Issues Task Force


Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed into law a requirement that high school students in grades nine and ten in the Commonwealth receive instruction in mental health. What format this will take is still being determined. In Albemarle County, there will be a seminar to help students deal with the many issues they may confront during this time in their lives.

This mandate is the outgrowth of lobbying efforts by several Virginia teens who were concerned about what they had observed among their peers–increased pressures, anxiety and stress, depression, bullying, and substance abuse. The CDC confirms these students’ concerns and reports that about 20% of adolescents aged 13-18 suffer from a mental disorder. In addition, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “50% of the students who receive mental health services get them at school.”

This bill was sponsored in the Virginia State Senate by Senator R. Creigh Deeds, whose son had attacked him and, subsequently, committed suicide.

–Dianna E. Washington, Ph.D.,
Chair, Education and Children’s Issues Task Force



PPC Issues Watch 1

May 11, 2018


A little noticed article last week in the Washington Post exposed the nefarious tactics being used at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to purge competent staffers at the behest of private industry. One of those affected is my sorority sister and good friend Pamela Danner, who was Administrator, Office of Manufactured Housing Programs. Her sin? Upholding HUD’s mission to ensure that low-income Americans have access to safe and affordable housing options.  Her other sin was being a staff holdover from President Obama’s administration, but I digress.

Yep, seems that certain private industry groups weren’t happy with those pesky safety regulations “hampering” their business, and they wanted her out; so, reassigned she was, and her assistant was terminated. Mark Weiss, President of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, called the action “amazingly ill-considered, offensive and arguably scandalous,” further adding that it directly conflicts with #45’s own pledge to “drain the swamp” in the nation’s capital.

In spite of the continuing chants at his campaign-style rallies to “drain the swamp,” it’s never been more clogged and now – mostly “under the radar”– #45’s swamp overflows with mucky special interest creatures.

“A Once Obscure Office at HUD is the Subject of Unusually Intense Lobbying Effort”

–Shelly Livingston, Vice Chair, Committee on Public Policy and Political Action



It’s been more than a year since Facebook  fed us ads from Russians attempting to influence our election, two months since Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress, and just days since Facebook announced its largest reorganization to date. Over two billion people use the application every month. Serious issues with Facebook have been raised, including foreigners influencing election outcomes, people spreading rumors and vitriol to fuel genocide and hate crimes, and advertising to minors who process information differently.

This week Facebook announced a major reorganization of its product teams. Among 15 top individuals, there is only one woman — responsible for “integrity” among other things (cue jokes) — and no women of color. As noted feminist journalist Soraya Chemaly wrote, “Facebook can’t claim to be trying. We can’t talk about risks to society represented by social media without talking about this insane lack of inclusion.”

–Veena Trehan, Chair, PPC Global Women Task Force



It is clear that our bloated military budget – about the size of those of the next seven countries combined — poses a risk for individual Americans. This budget – along with the recent tax cuts – threatens to balloon the deficit, and directly and indirectly shred our social safety net. At a time of the “gig economy” with rapid growth of independent contractors, workers need all the more security with their health, retirement, and finances.

The ability to freely criticize US militarism and military policy may well be vital not only to end harmful interventions overseas – percentagewise, the US War on Iraq resulted in the equivalent of 12 million Americans dead and 36 million displaced, and fueled other regional conflicts – but also to our ability to care for our citizens.

Yet the proposed Authorization for Military Force would allow for indefinite detention of US citizens without criminal charges. “A president may conceivably claim that a US citizen who writes, speaks out or demonstrates against US military action is a ‘co-belligerent’ and lock him or her up indefinitely without charge,” writes Marjorie Cohn in Truthout. The old AUMF was interpreted broadly. It provided for “all necessary and appropriate force” against those responsible for the 911 attacks, but was used to justify at least 37 operations in 14 countries, many unrelated to the World Trade Center attacks.

–Veena Trehan, Chair, PPC Social and Economic Justice Task Force




PPC Issues Watch 1

May 4, 2018


CSGV Endorses First 2018 Congressional Candidates!

The following are 2018 candidates thus far who the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence believes will “use their respective experience and knowledge to find solutions to our nation’s gun violence epidemic.”

  • Jennifer Wexton (VA-10th) Read endorsement here
  • Shira Goodman (PA-4th) Read endorsement here
  • Lucy McBath (GA-6th) Read endorsement here

Senators Call on Banks to Take Stand Against Gun Violence

Seems some in Congress are now following the lead of the American Federation of Teachers, who last month called on corporations to take more social responsibility regarding gun safety. (Issues Watch reported on the new AFT report in the April 20th Friday Roundup. Read that article here.)

On May 1, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), along with 11 other US Senators, wrote letters to the following financial institutions, urging them to adopt gun safety policies:

  • Wells Fargo
  • Morgan Stanley
  • TD Securities
  • JP Morgan
  • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
  • US Bancorp
  • Cowen & Co.,
  • BB&T
  • Regions Financial
  • BNP Paribas
  • PNC Financial Services Group

Just Released to Coincide with the NRA Convention this Week:  Brady Campaign Report on NRA Extremism

As the NRA kicked off its annual convention yesterday (May 3) in Dallas, Texas, headlined by #45 and his Vice President, who will both speak Friday, the Brady Campaign released a report that’s not exactly complimentary of this front group for the country’s gun manufacturers.  Entitled “The Real NRA Annual Report:  Fear &Fanaticism in a Year Like No Other,” it takes a look at NRA actions regarding extremism, opposition to gun safety legislation, and the newly-revealed Russian connections.

–Shelly Livingston, Acting Chair, Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence


PPC Issues Watch 1

April 27, 2018


EPA is proposing to change the stringent 2015 regulation governing coal ash storage. Coal ash is the residue left from burning coal. Coal-fired power plants typically mix coal ash with water and store the slurry in holding ponds. Coal ash contains concentrated toxins such as arsenic, lead, mercury, and other heavy metals. When the storage ponds leak or fail, this poisonous sludge enters groundwater and nearby streams and rivers that often provide our drinking water. There have been two catastrophic releases of coal ash slurry, one in Tennessee in 2008 and one in North Carolina in 2014, as well as many smaller spills and leaks, leading to the enactment of strict safety requirements in the 2015 regulation.

In the name of saving money and of “flexibility,” the EPA wants to pass off much of its responsibility and clout for enforcing coal ash safety to state officials, and in the case of minor leaks or spills, to owners or operators of these facilities. Under the proposal, state officials would not be required to use professional engineers to certify compliance. There are hundreds of holding ponds across the US, many of them still unlined and/or secured by earthen dams. The Tennessee disaster was triggered by the collapse of an earthen dam after an unusually heavy rainfall. Pruitt denies the reality of climate change, but new weather patterns bringing heavy rains and flash floods are an increasing reality. These bring further risks of toxic slurry entering our water supplies. The Flint, Michigan, water scandal shows that state officials cannot be trusted to protect us from poisons contaminating our water supplies.



The federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services has a new Division of “Conscience and Religious Freedom.” The public relations selling point is to protect health care providers from being coerced into assisting with abortions or birth control methods that offend their religious or ethical sensibilities in hospital settings that serve the general public.

But does that mean we can again allow a woman who is hemorrhaging to die because medical personnel suspect she might have had an abortion?

Unfortunately, recent history also shows a cruel tradition of American hospitals refusing to care for patients who are uninsured, or Black, or whose immigration status is unclear. The early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic are filled with true stories of hospitals refusing to care for even critically ill patients merely suspected of being gay. And will it also be legal to refuse care to Muslims? Who else will be allowed to suffer or die because they are deemed unworthy fellow Americans?

Is this the America we want for ourselves and our children?   Or is it budding Fascism?


Concealed Carry of Firearms:  Facts vs. Fiction

The prospects for passage of meaningful gun safety legislation look grim in the current Congress; however, we must remain extra vigilant for a dangerous piece of legislation that would mandate that guns be allowed across state lines. Known as the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act” (CCR), this bill would allow those states with the most stringent requirement to be subverted by those with the most lenient regulations. A quote in a 2015 report by Everytown for Gun Safety bears repeating: “Some states do thorough criminal background checks on applicants, while other states have such ineffective permitting systems that they inadvertently issue permits to felons.”

A report released last year by Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, Bloomberg American Health Initiative, entitled “Concealed Carry of Firearms: Fact vs. Fiction” is a “must read.”

Guess Who’s Headlining the annual NRA Convention next week? 

Give up?  Answer is here.


PPC Issues Watch 1

April 20, 2018


  • Betsy DeVos’ plan to cut the Department of Education’s budget by $3.6 billion met with opposition from lawmakers. Instead, Congress increased the budget by $3.9 billion. In addition, lawmakers did not support her funding for school choice programs.
  • Civil rights groups met with Secretary DeVos in early April to review a roll back in Obama-era guidelines regarding school discipline policies that may adversely impact Black students. Critics argue that decreasing these protections continues to undermine students’ civil rights and impinges on enforcement of Title VI.
  • In the area of education, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill approving funding for additional school resource/security officers in Maryland schools. Funding was also approved ($30 million down payment), to encourage the top 25% of graduating seniors to pursue a career in teaching. In addition, this bill included increased funding in pre-K education.
  • The Maryland State Education Association, a 74,000 member teacher’s union, has endorsed Ben Jealous as Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland. They cite his strong views and his vision on matters pertaining to public school education.

–Dianna E. Washington, Ph.D.
Chair, Education and Children’s Task Force



At a briefing April 18 organized by the WNDC Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention, staff from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence maintained that there has been a “cultural shift” regarding the NRA.

Take, for example, the growing number of congressional members who now boast of their “F” rating from the organization. Just two days ago on Twitter, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) displayed what he wrote on the questionnaire he received from the NRA. “Dear NRA, why haven’t you answered my letter asking you to clarify your links to the Kremlin? Also, please give me an “F” rating.  Thanks, Ted”. In addition, and probably helped by the persistence of Parkland High School student activists with their #BoycottVanguard and #BoycottBlackRock campaigns, the public is demanding more social responsibility from corporations and investment managers around the issue of gun safety.

In this connection, the American Federation of Teachers just released a special edition report titled “Gun Manufacturing and Investment Risks,” which “creates a watch list of investment managers who invest millions of dollars in companies that make assault weapons which have been used to attack public school students and staff.” The report highlights the successes the AFT has had in persuading several top investment firms such as Fidelity and Vanguard to join other Wall Street firms who either have or are currently “engaging in a dialogue with gun manufacturers and retailers regarding the risks posed by firearms.” Unfortunately, there is still work to be done.  Its attempts, for example, to engage Wells Fargo, a company that provides home mortgages to teachers, has so far not been constructive.

Read the entire report here.

–Shelly Livingston
Acting Chair, Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention

WNDC Statement

March 23, 2018


WHEREAS:  On February 14, 2018, 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were innocently slaughtered by yet another shooter with a military-style assault rifle; and

WHEREAS: This mass shooting represents the second deadliest shooting at a U.S. public school after Sandy Hook and the 10th deadliest shooting in over a decade involving the use of military-style assault weapons; and

WHEREAS: About 51.7 million children attend public elementary and secondary schools* and since Columbine, approximately 200 public school students have been shot to death while school was in session**; and

WHEREAS: It is an unacceptable and avoidable national tragedy to lose an average of over 35,000 lives annually to gun violence***; and

WHEREAS:  In the aftermath of this horrific massacre, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School began an effective activist movement, including the creation of the #NeverAgain movement to advocate for stronger gun policies; and organization of a nationwide protest on March 24: “The March For Our Lives”; and

WHEREAS: Due to the persistence of these students, we are already seeing unparalleled consumer activism, resulting in the retreat of corporate support of the gun industry, as well as witnessing a renewed energy of the gun violence prevention movement.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: So that there can be no question as to where we stand on the slaughter of our youth and the student survivors’ simple demand to feel safe from gun violence, the Woman’s National Democratic Club hereby lends its full support to the student organizers of the “March For Our Lives” on March 24, 2018; and

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: We at WNDC vow to work arduously at the federal and state levels after March 24 to ensure that our children will be able to attend school without fear that each day could be their last and that all U.S. citizens can enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, free of gun violence.

Resolution passed by the WNDC Board of Governors, March 21, 2018

*National Center for Educational Statistics, 2017
**David Ropeik article, Washington Post, March 11, 2018
***Everytown Research



WNDC Statement

February 5, 2018


The State of the Union speech by President Trump was, regrettably, all too predictable.  It was as full of lies, obfuscations, and embellishments as expected and the smug delivery was at its annoying best. But the most shocking aspect of that night was the press coverage.

The official Democratic response from Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass), who spoke from the Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River, Massachusetts, got a couple of paragraphs in one story on an inside page of The New York Times. Otherwise, the entire press coverage was a long symphony and variations on the word “Trump.” The Times even managed to misreport Kennedy’s speech as “A Bilingual Salvo.” It is true there were a couple of sentences in Spanish but the headline writer seemed to want to convey the idea of Democrats as immigrant lovers. As if inclusion and respect for different ethnic groups is somehow un-American.

Let us stand back and give Rep. Kennedy some well-deserved space for what was a deeply moving speech. A tribute to the values of the Democratic Party, his inspiring words bear repeating.

“This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us – they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection. … They are turning American life into a zero-sum game. Where, in order for one to win, another must lose….

We are bombarded with one false choice after another: …

So here is the answer Democrats offer tonight: we choose both. We fight for both. Because the strongest, richest, greatest nation in the world shouldn’t leave any one behind.

–We choose a better deal for all who call this country home.

–We choose the living wage, paid leave and affordable childcare your family needs to survive.

–We choose pensions that are solvent, trade pacts that are fair, roads and bridges that won’t rust away, and good education you can afford.

–We choose a health care system that offers mercy, whether you suffer from cancer or depression or addiction.

–We choose an economy strong enough to boast record stock prices and brave enough to admit that top CEOs making 300 times the average worker is not right….

Bullies may land a punch. They might leave a mark. But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future….
Out of many. One.”

Rep. Joe Kennedy, Fall River, Mass.

–WNDC Committee on Public Policy and Political Action