From Resister To Philadelphia Democratic Committee Person

Much has changed since Election Day 2016. Last year, 2017, was a time for organizing, forming committees and joining the Resistance. In that period of time I attended rallies sponsored by Tuesdays With Toomey and meetings of Indivisible: NW Philly and progressive Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks. Doing what I do best I wrote several articles listing various Resistance groups and resources, including: Philadelphia Resistance and Progressive Groups (1/30/17), Resources For The Resistance (3/02/17) and Resistance, Part III (12/28/17). The idea was to point people to tasks ranging from better voting machines to campaigning in the suburbs to turn the state blue.

Posting blog articles, attending meetings and frequently calling my elected officials was not enough. Listening to others, I finally decided to run for the lowest elected office, Committee Person in my neighborhood. One factor in my decision was the fact that too many people do not vote. Clinton lost the vote in my state by a very small margin. Research revealed the vote in Pennsylvania was 2,970,733 Trump/Pence and 2,926,441 Clinton/Kaine, a difference of only 44,292 votes. In Philadelphia alone 324,573 registered voters did not vote. Since I had never seen a Committee Person knock on my door in the few years I’ve lived in Philadelphia, I decided to run. Hundreds of others did the same thing, many for the first time, like myself.

What was I getting into? The Democratic Party, like the United States, is run by a small group of privileged men. Their object is to maintain power. A movement, however, has said the “trust me” argument no longer applies. We want our country back and we want our party back. These ideas are set to print in a book “Green Shoots of Democracy in the Philadelphia Democratic Party” by Karen Bojar. This book is a must read for new committee people.

In the process of running, I found a running mate, a neighbor on the next block, Lori Jardines. We knocked on every door in the division (aka precinct) and distributed a campaign letter either in person or via a mailing to every voter in apartment buildings. Our platform or mission is “to increase democratic participation, voter turnout and transparency in Philadelphia’s political process.”

To understand the workings of a political party you have to understand and know the rules. The bylaws of the Democratic Party of Philadelphia are not found on their website. Instead, they were posted by former Office of City Commissioner Stephanie Singer on one of her websites under the title of DEMOCRAT_CITY_COMMITTEE_BY-LAWS_REVISED_3-31-2014.pdf. Another copy of the most recent Philadelphia Democratic Party Bylaws is available from the Philadelphia County Board of Elections. The copy I received is two pages longer and includes a March 2014 cover letter signed by Party Chairman Bob Brady plus an additional County Board of Elections timestamp. According to Pennsylvania Election Code all party rules are not effective until a certified copy has been filed in the office of the county Board of Elections (see “Green Shoots of Democracy”, p. 199). Feel free to download the party rules. You will need them if you are a Committee Person.

It is one thing to know the rules but an entirely different matter as to how to become an effective Committee Person. Over the years various handbooks have been written. The Bucks County Democratic Committee published a handbook and resource guide in 2010. The most current version was recently obtained from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. Download their Precinct Handbook 2017.2.0, here.

Many individuals ran for committee person to make our party more democratic, more transparent. We want to share information and not have each ward treated as an island. We must conduct our meetings openly under rules of parliamentary procedure, while filing campaign finance reports as required by law. Most of all, we must become engaged in grassroots voter registration with the intent of increasing voter participation. The movement continues.

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Camden County Reentry Awareness Simulation – June 4

Would you be able to “navigate the system” as an ex-offender just released from prison, trying to comply with court ordered obligations, while employment searching, securing housing and reestablishing your day-to-day life? On June 4th, from 10am to 12pm, there will be a Reentry Awareness Simulation held at Rutgers University, Camden Campus.

The event is sponsored by: Rutgers University Camden Campus, South Jersey Community Reentry Coalition, United States Attorney’s Office District of Delaware, Camden County ReEntry Committee, New Jersey Association on Correction and Camden County Women’s Center.

Please reference the event flyer for additional information. Registration is required as seating is limited. Click here to register.

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LIHEAP Deadline Extended to May 31

The following information was published by NJ 2-1-1 which operates the Home Energy Assistance Hotline. The hotline can be reached by calling 800-510-3102.

The deadline to apply for utility assistance through LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) has been extended to May 31. As the Home Energy Assistance Hotline for the State of New Jersey, NJ 2-1-1 is the place to call if you are struggling to pay your gas, oil or electric heating bills. This assistance is available to eligible residents regardless of whether they rent or own their home. Emergency assistance is also available through May 31 for those who have already been approved for LIHEAP benefits AND have received a shut-off notice.

Callers to NJ 2-1-1 can check on the status of their application, receive information on the location of their application agency and a list of documents that must be submitted with their application. Required documentation includes a copy of the rental lease/property tax bill (if you own your home); utility bill; proof of income for anyone in your home above the age of 18; social security card for everyone in the household and a drivers license or state issued picture ID.

Source: NJ 2-1-1 website and NJ 2-1-1 email.

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Resources For Parents

Looking for resources for a child or adolescent with behavioral or mental health challenges? There is a network of agencies and online resources in all twenty-one counties that offer a wide range of information about resources, services and support systems for families and children.

Each county has a Case Management Organization (CMO) in partnership with the New Jersey Children’s System of Care. Their goal is to help families or caregivers create a stable and healthy environment for children by address barriers, including behavioral health issues, developmental disabilities, substance abuse, etc.

Don’t know what resources are available to meet a child’s needs? In combination with each CMO there is an online ResourceNet. Families can find information on community services, health services or community events and organizations.

There are fifteen ResourceNets in the state of New Jersey. Read the brochure for links to them. They are: Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape Atlantic, Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem (CGS), Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Somerset, Warren (TriCounty) Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris Sussex, Ocean, Passaic, Union.

For assistance in finding help for your child, visit the NJ Children’s System of Care website or call 877-652-7624.

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The Monopoly Menace

The recent issue (Volume 306, Number 7, March 12, 2018) of The Nation contains an article, “The Monopoly Menace”. It is worth reading. Here is an excerpt:

“Today, a few corporations once again dominate sectors of our economy. In an interview with The Nation’s George Zornick, Senator Elizabeth Warren points out that two companies sell 70 percent of the beer in the country; four companies produce 85 percent of American beef; and four airlines account for 80 percent of domestic seats. With monopolies squeezing out the competition and underpaying workers, profits are funneled to a tiny elite. It’s no coincidence that the three richest American’s – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett – are together worth slightly more than the bottom half of the entire US population.”

The first way to fight back is by becoming informed. That’s why I became a subscriber to The Nation last year. Another way is to buy local, craft beer and to buy local food. We do in our household.

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Cool Down for Warmth Event – Feb. 1&2

On February 1 & 2 there will be an event in Newark, New Jersey called “Cool Down for Warmth”. The purpose is to raise funds so families can stay warm this winter. My goal is to raise $1,000 for the cause.

A little history. In December, 1992 I wished there was a place to refer families to when no other energy assistance resources were available. Little did I know, it would lead to the creation of New Jersey SHARES, our statewide energy fund – which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Today, I need your help to keep my dream alive and to help New Jersey families stay warm. On February 1 & 2 New Jersey SHARES will be holding “Cool Down for Warmth” to both raise funds and to make our mission better known in our state of New Jersey.

We’re building an Ice House – yes, an ICE HOUSE – in Newark to highlight the critical importance of heat during the cold winter months.

You can help by making a donation. Your donation makes a difference and may be eligible to be matched dollar for dollar by your utility company. So if you can give $50, it can have the impact of $100.

Donate now. Go to my Ice House Challenge fundraising page. If you want more information then read my personal story.

You can follow Cool Down for Warmth on the NJ SHARES website or on Twitter, #CoolDown4WarmthNJ or @njshares on Facebook.

Thanks for your help.

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Five Ways To Make A Difference In 2018

Last week I received an email from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization I contributed to in 2016 following the presidential election. SPLC is a nationally recognized group that fights hate groups and bigotry. The email caught my attention since I’ve yet to make a New Year’s Resolution.

Their “five ways to make a difference” is not so much a personal promise you have to make to yourself but a pledge to remake our country, to take it back, all in a way that can work for you. I’ll be doing my best to follow their suggestions.

You can follow it by reading their article. It starts out with the following: “What will you do this year to be an engaged member of a democratic and tolerant community? Here are five items to add to your New Year’s resolution list.” 1)Pledge to start a conversation. 2) Pledge to be informed. 3) Pledge to stay engaged. 4) Pledge to make your voice heard. 5) Pledge to take real-world action.

I’m going to take a good look at the pledges suggested by Southern Poverty Law Center and see how I can incorporate them in my resolutions for 2018.

Btw, I continue to contribute to the Southern Poverty Law Center as long as we have a racist sleeping in the White House.

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