Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Congressional Candidates presentation at Whatcom Dems Monthly Meeting

   by Bonnie Chisum

On a dark and rainy evening Thursday Feb 17 at the Sons of Norway Hall off N State Street & Champion in Bellingham, the Whatcom County  Democrats held their monthly general meeting.  Roughly 100 people turned out to see candidates  for the US Congress from District 1 vie for support in the upcoming primary election.  The four Candidates Darcy Burner, Suzan DelBene, Laura Ruderman and Darshan Rauniyar were each given 5 minutes to speak on their respective platforms, followed by a 10 minute Q&A session from the audience.  The response from the audience was luke warm because they had heard many of the promises before.  

Darcy Burner is a Harvard Graduate with a BA in Computer Science emphasizing  Economics.  She worked 10 years for companies such as Lotus and Microsoft.  She helped with Howard Dean and John Kerry’s campaigns in 2004. She ran against Republican Dave Reichert in the 2006 8th Congressional District Race. Burner described  current Congressional politics as “Democrats attacking a brick wall with water balloons.”   She wrote “The Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq” which Obama used for his Presidential campaign.  In 2008, Burner became the President and Executive Director of  working with the Congressional Progressive Caucus on public health, civil rights, education, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity.  

Susan DelBene holds an MBA from the University of Washington, She was a Vice-President at Microsoft and a Biotech entrepreneur.  While serving as Washington State’s Department of Revenue Director in Olympia, DelBene watched special interest groups work against the interests of the middle class.  Her campaign platform focuses on “how to improve public access to Congress”.   DelBene believes that communication channels need to be expanded by holding town halls and public debates. If elected she will  promote education, jobs and health care access for all Americans. 

Darshan Rauniyar is a small business owner who  immigrated to America from Nepal over 20 years ago.  “The American Dream is fading,” Rauniyar states, “Washington DC does not reflect who we are as Americans”.  His platform is to “Restore the American Dream” by reforming trade agreements which have allowed American jobs to be shipped overseas so that now twenty million Americans are out of work and fifteen million people lack health insurance.  Rauniyar holds that the failure to fund education has caused America to fall behind Europe and most of the industrial world educational achievement

Laura Ruderman  began: “I believe if you show up and work hard, you should expect some basic things.  You deserve a living wage.  You deserve affordable health care.  Finally you deserve the right to retire with dignity.”  As a three term State Legislator from the 45th District, Laura Ruderman combines government experience with a background as a Program Manager at Microsoft.  She pledges to rebuild our economy by supporting key Washington State industries such as software, aerospace, biotech, and agriculture.  She proposes making Washington State an international leader in clean energy production.  Ruderman also champions the funding of post-secondary education for all students.  She believes the country should balance the budget by letting the Bush administrations tax cuts to the ultra-rich expire.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whatcom Women's Democratic Club Feb. Meeting.

   reported by Bonnie Chisum

On a rainy Monday roughly 30 members and guests of the Whatcom Women's Democratic Club met for their monthly meeting at the Super Buffet at Cordata & Meridian in Bellingham." 

Mayor Kelly Linville  described a very active first 60 days in office as Bellingham mayor.  The mayor visited over 31 City of Bellingham worksites over a 4 day period,  to obtain feedback on current projects.  “Many workers claimed they had not seen a mayor in over 4 years!”   Linville promised to continue these visits.

Mayor Linville is focused on improving the efficiency of City government. Department head meetings will take place weekly to eliminate the scattershot effect of the previously disjointed self contained departments that failed to communicate city business. With restructuring in the municipal government David Webster has stepped down as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to resolve a duplication of efforts by Mayor Linville. The Neighborhood Advisory Committee – lead by Linda Stewart and Nicole Oliver - has also been restructured to facilitate communication between various groups.

Mayor Linville believes the changes in the City Government buildings to include a central place for constituents to bring questions, concerns and city business will improve operational efficiency. Previously citizen had to navigate a maze of departments. The central office will reduce extraneous interruptions to the city staff’s project work caused by frequently redirecting individuals to the right department. Linville gave a mixed report on the success of balancing the city budget. the budget does balance, minus the unfunded liabilities for pension and disability of $41 billion.

Conflicting appointments allowed only 15 minutes for Mayor Linville to speak, but she promised to spend more time with us in the future.

Judicial Candidate Deborrah Garrett

  • Local Attorney and Candidate for Whatcom County Judge.
  • In practice for over 33 years Deborah ran for Superior Court seat 20 years ago.
  • General practice includes criminal law, civil litigation and non-profits.
  • Performed pro-bono legal work for Women Care Shelter, YWCA and other worthy causes.
  • Served for many years on the Planning Commission in Whatcom County and is a longtime Bellingham resident.

“Running for judge is a challenge” said Garrett, “Because unlike other political offices, judicial candidates need to maintain impartiality on important issues that could later come in front of them in court. “ Garrett is allowed to seek formal Endorsements such as the one she was seeking at the Whatcom Women’s Democratic Club on Feb 13 and “ask for support” in lieu of formal solicitations standard in other campaigns. To give us an idea of the cost of a successful campaign, Garrett said that a primary bid costs between $30-40, 000 and then an additional $20,000 to proceed from Primary to General Election, bringing the conservative estimate up to $60,000 for a general election bid.

Planned Parenthood lobbies for Same Sex Unions and Reproductive Parity Legislation

Third up to the podium, but certainly the most animated and controversial presentation of the luncheon was a visit from Christina Wright of Planned Parenthood.  Ms Wright told recounted the funding controversy between PP and the Susan J Komen Foundation.  

By way of back story, Ms Wright shared with us that 19 PP Whatcom County affiliates had received funding from the Komen Foundation (famous for breast cancer awareness charity work) to promote Breast Health Education programs aimed at high risk minority women who often lacked any other access to such materials (i.e. uninsured populations who don’t see doctors).  A revision of policy and political pressures caused Komen Foundation to allegedly defund any organization it supported that was under any federal audit or investigation.  

Naturally as a recipient of federal funds, Planned Parenthood’s finance and operations are completely transparent and constantly scrutinized and audited.  Any organization that receives federal money is subject to the same routine audits.  Komen’s withdrawal of support was deemed by Planned Parenthood as a thinly veiled attempt to punish PP for providing contraception and abortion services to women, despite contrary evidence that PP is only accountable to roughly 5% or less of abortions provided to women.  

Komen’s action went viral in the social media community and within 72 hours an estimated $3 million was raised in support of Planned Parenthood.  Under such extreme pressure and negative publicity Komen reversed its decision and restored funding to PP.  As an aside, Ms Wright mentioned that, “Penn State University received $3.5 million in federal funds while being under Criminal Investigation, so surely Planned Parenthoods’ routine audits should be a non-issue.”  

Passed around was information regarding new legislation for reproductive parity.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tom Riggs' Campaign for 10th LD State Rep

Tom Riggs (far left) announces his Candidacy for 10th LD State Representative at the Stanwood Democrats monthly meeting Feb. 11th

At their monthly meeting Saturday morning the Stanwood Democrats welcomed the announcement of Tom Rigg’s Candidacy for the 10th Legislative District. 

Having served 18 years as a Park Ranger in the State of Washington,  Tom Riggs brings a unique perspective about WA State’s social and physical landscape.  Like most of us he emphasizes bringing more employment to Washington State. He suggests that our State government could in source more State contracts within its borders.  More about his  specific proposals can be found in the Heraldnet.  

Candidate Riggs is not certain if he will be running against Rep. Barbara Bailey or if Rep. Bailey will run for the State Senate against Senator Mary Margaret Haugen.  I commented that the two legislators take opposing views on the recently passed legislation providing marriage equality for Gays and Lesbians.  Rep. Bailey voted against the legislation and is encouraging a referendum to repeal it.   Candidate Riggs sides with Senator Haugen in supporting the legislation.  I emailed Rep Bailey saying I was disappointed in her vote against marriage equality.