RI Democratic Women's Caucus meeting draws nearly 100 participants

Nearly 100 women from East Bay and across the state gathered Tuesday night at Rogers Library in Bristol to map out next steps for the growing Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus; nearly a third of those present were first-time attendees. Caucus co-chairs Rep. Lauren Carson, Rep. Shelby Maldonado and Rep. Grace Diaz led the two-hour program. (Senator Gayle Goldin was absent due to family illness.)

The attendees suggested specific workshops and training sessions they’d like to be part of, including: fundraising, leadership training, communications, running campaigns, understanding the legislature, learning how bills are made and passed, and supporting women candidates. An upcoming outline and schedule of workshops is expected to be presented to members in its next meeting.

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea spoke to the group about the importance of getting involved in elections and politics, to exercise their right to vote and to encourage others to do so. She applauded the efforts of the co-chairs and the dozen elected women in attendance, and urged all to attend their local city and town committee meetings. At least two dozen of those attending were either elected or city or town chairs.

RI Democratic Party Executive Director T. Kevin Olasanoye gave a state Party update, including an overview of Resistance Summer, a 4-month, Democratic National Committee-led program to expand voter involvement. He introduced the Party’s two new interns, who will be responsible for building voter registration and community involvement: Michelle Arias and Jakub Lis.

The next meeting is Tuesday, August 1, in Newport; co-chairs also announced plans for tri-state regional meeting with other women’s caucuses for the fall. For more information, call 401.272.3367, or see the Women's Caucus on Facebook.

Editorial note: written from a news release

02871, Localblogging, Dems, Women's Caucus

Northeast Young Democrats of America convene in Providence

YDA President Rod Synder addresses Providence attendees.

The future of the Democratic Party was front and center at the RI Convention Center on Saturday as the Young Democrats of America (YDA) came to town to hold their New England regional conference. Nearly 50 attendees from New York to Maine met for day of talks, panels, and business (including the election of their new Regional Director, Dustin Hausner) and the rising stars of Rhode Island politics were well represented.

The Convention Center was packed — with dancers attending the "Jump Dance Workshop" at the sold-out Providence stop on its multi-city tour. The hundreds of teens and pre-teens padding around the convention halls with dance bags and costumes and their booming performance music provided a oddly fitting complement to the proceedings of the young Democrats assembled in a function room on the 5th floor.

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras welcomed attendees, described his own political journey, and spoke frankly about the challenges of leading a city through a difficult financial crisis. "I didn't want the first Latino mayor of Providence to be the one who brought the city into bankruptcy." He credited taxpayers and unions alike for being willing to pitch in, and stressed the importance of "being straight and open" and "negotiating in good faith" in bringing everyone to the table.

Taveras urged attendees to rise to the challenges of activism and governance. "You have to stay involved and believe you can achieve. Don't let negativity and cynicism get in the way," he said. "Remember, we can change the world."

That was a theme was echoed by afternoon keynote speaker Rod Snyder, the national YDA President (reportedly contemplating a run for congress in West Virginia at the end of his second term this summer). "Rarely has there been a time," said Synder, "When young people have more opportunity for impact."

With a quarter of the US voting population under 35, Synder said, Millennials have come to rival seniors as a key electoral bloc, and their values are most aligned with the Democratic party.

He singled out the Rhode Island attendees for their significant role in passing marriage equality. "YDA is not just riding the wave of the youth movement," Snyder said, "We're leading it."

Another highlight of the afternoon was a panel of young elected officials, moderated by outgoing RI Democratic Party chair (and Secretary of State candidate) Ed Pacheco. In addition to Maine's Justin Chenette (at 22, the youngest openly gay legislator in the US), the panel featured RI State Sen. Adam Satchell (D-9), Rep. Katherine Kazarian (D-63), Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, and Smithfield Councilor Suzy Alba, who all offered advice for young Dem candidates.

"Don't wait, If you sit around, bad stuff happens." said Satchell, adding, "Don't back down." Said Kazarian, "Stay active, and get your friends involved." Alba, who credited her win to knocking on 4,000 doors, suggested that acknowledging diversity helps. "I was very open about my differences," she said, adding that she found voters responded. Diossa talked about the importance of understanding why you're running. "If you don't believe what you're doing, it's hard to communicate it to the people around you." Chenette suggested turning age from a potential liability to an asset."We're not beaten down by the system," he said, "People recognize your passion."

That was a theme picked up by moderator Pacheco (who, at 31, is still 4 years under the YDA cutoff for "young"). "Many people underestimate us because we're not 55, not an attorney, and haven't been in public office for 20 years," he said. "But we all have something to contribute." Pacheco, who has announced his intention to run for Secretary of State, talked about the importance of engaging younger voters. "My goal would be to reach out to every young person and invite them to be a part of the process," he said. "The window can not be half open."

There were two other panel discussions — one on the policy issues facing young people and another on grassroots organizing, featuring some of our state's most engaged young activists from organizations like MERI, Planned Parenthood, Providence Student Union, and (and, of course, the Young Democrats of RI).

The day wrapped up with the official business of the conference, electing regional officers. Dustin Hausner, of New York, was unanimously elected to be regional director for the next two years. "The Northeast has always been a region of hope and progressivism," said Hausner, thanking the attendees, "I'm excited to be working with all of you." Jonathan Sclarsic of Massachusetts was elected deputy region director, and New Hampshire's Douglas Lindner secretary-treasurer.

Additional pix up on Flickr.

Editorial note: Crossposted at RI Future.

Update: Corrected spelling of Rep. Kazarian.

02871, Localblogging, Dems

Portsmouth: Please vote for endorsed Democratic candidates tomorrow

Tomorrow is Primary Day in Rhode Island, and it's an especially important one for Democrats in Portsmouth, where there are three endorsed Democrats running for school committee -- Emily Copeland, Terri Cortvriend, and Andrew Kelly. Opposing them are (in my opinion, obviously) two incumbent DINOs, including one I wrote about here. For those in the north end of town, your ballot will look like this:


Please remember to vote in the House District 1 race, where David Cicilline is facing a primary challenge. No matter where you live, you can find your polling place and check out a sample ballot at the Secretary of State's excellent Voter Information Center.

And just so you can put a face with a name, here are the Portsmouth School Committee candidates again -- hope you'll get out to the polls tomorrow and give them your support.


Full disclosure: I'm a proud Democrat.

Localblogging, 02871, School Committee, RI, Dems

Portsmouth's Terri Corvriend makes Dem Primary delegate ballot

According to the tally posted this morning on the RI Secretary of State web site, Portsmouth resident Terri Cortvriend gathered enough validated signatures to be placed on the April 24 Primary ballot. With 16 candidates are up for 11 slots, one important factor is sure to be the order in which names will appear, to be determined by a lottery next Wednesday in Providence.

Big congratulations to Terri, and thanks to everyone who helped her out!

Full disclosure: I serve with Terri on the Portsmouth Democratic town committee.

Localblogging, 02871, Dems, Portsmouth Democrats, DNC

Economics for five-year-olds; data visualization for adults

Hudson Hinckley explains gas prices; reproduced for commentary and criticism.

This week, RI Republican Senate Candidate Barry Hinckley released a campaign spot featuring his five-year-old son giving an economics lecture, and there's something not quite right about it. While most commenters have focused on the bizarre followup interview he and his son gave with Fox's Neil Cavuto, where Hinckley appeared to be lip-synching his son's responses like Fats in Magic, I was more interested in the chart the boy shows in the still frame, above, of gasoline prices from 2006 to the present. It's just, well, fundamentally misleading.

What the data actually show.

I can understand that a five-year-old doesn't know enough to label both the axes, or make sure his line crosses the origin. And, granted, I'm a bit of a chart geek (after all, I slammed the chair of the Portsmouth School Committee for showing a chart with a distorted Y axis). But that's just not what the shape of the line looks like, either in outline or detail. Based on numbers from the US Energy Information Administration, it should look like this chart over here.

I can forgive a lot from a five year old. A Senate candidate? Not so much.

I expect that the person who represents me in the Senate knows how to plug numbers into Excel. And doesn't pretend that they can bend the curve for political gain. The "why" of rising gas prices? Mother Jones has a good explainer.

Check my numbers:
Worksheet on Google Docs; data available from the US Energy Information Administration

Full disclosure: This is the kind of geekery I indulge in on Friday nights. Also, I'm a Democrat and supporter of Sen. Whitehouse. And not just because he came to my local supermarket to talk about helping working folks, or took the time to talk to my son about his experience in Mock Trial.

Localblogging, 02871, Dems, Whitehouse, 2012

Fistbump from a Senator

Jack and the Senator
Jack gets a fist bump from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse for his work on the PMS Mock Trial team

Last night, the Portsmouth Democrats hosted a potluck, and in addition to local politicians from around Newport county, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse stopped in to have dinner and talk.

This is one of the things I love most about Rhode Island. We live in the kind of place where your Senator comes to a town potluck, sits at your table, and has a conversation with your 11-year-old son about his experience on the Mock Trial team in middle school. I mean, how cool is that.

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee which organized the event. I brought baked ziti.

Localblogging, 02871, Dems