Dems

RI Democratic leaders express support for Dreamers

Rhode Island’s top Democratic Party leadership gathered Tuesday to denounce the actions of President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (D.A.C.A.) program, which safeguarded the rights of an estimated 800,000 immigrants who were children when they entered the United States. The news conference, according to a release, was held at the Segue Institute for Learning in Central Falls and led by R.I. Democratic Party Chair Joseph M. McNamara, included Governor Gina Raimondo, Lt. Governor Daniel McKee, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Mayors James A. Diossa (Central Falls) and Jorge Elorza (Providence,) and two ‘Dreamers’ — Javier Juarez, a Brown University graduate student, and Rodrigo Pimental, a member of the R.I. Progressive Democrats.

“Rhode Island was founded on the principles of tolerance and diversity," said Governor Raimondo. "Throughout our history, our state has been strengthened by the contributions of immigrants. President Trump’s plan to end DACA is nothing short of cruel, and it would be a disaster for the nation’s economy. As long as I am Governor of this state, Rhode Island will stand up for the American Dream, and the Dreamers who keep it alive.”

Lt. Governor McKee said, “Here in Rhode Island, we have thousands of amazing young people who are protected by DACA, many who have only ever known Rhode Island as their home. These young people are studying, working, running small businesses, paying taxes, and building their own families. DACA protects the progress they have made and the many contributions they continue to make to the social and economic fabric of our state. Halting this program is inhumane and stands against everything Rhode Islanders stand for.”

Rhode Islanders seeking support with DACA or general immigration issues are encouraged to reach out to Progreso Latino, Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, or Roger Williams Law School Immigration Law Clinic.

“DACA children have known nothing else but this country as their home, they contribute greatly to the fabric of our community, and they deserve our protection from any attempt to undermine their rights as residents,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin on Friday. “This is one of the most heartless and immoral decisions the President has made yet. We are a nation built on the contributions of our many immigrant populations, and we are a stronger nation because of those contributions. Now the President is turning his back on children who have so much to give to this country. We cannot sit idly by as he strips DACA grantees rights they have been afforded and deserve.”

“Dreamers represent the best of the American spirit – young people going to school, working, and volunteering to build a better life. President Trump’s plan to expel these promising young people is cruel and un-American. We must all have the courage to speak out,” said Treasurer Magaziner.

“The elimination of DACA is a direct attack on the American Dream for 800,000 young people,” said Mayor Elorza. “DREAMers are Americans in virtually every way and it is deeply disheartening that they now face additional anxiety and uncertainty. Congress has the ability to bring hope back to DREAMers and we urge them to come together in a bipartisan way. We have 6 months to get the job done, let’s get to work.”

“President Trump’s decision today is going to hurt the progress of our country. Many of our kids benefitting from DACA are potential doctors, lawyers, scientists, and small business owners. They are creators, builders and innovators,” said Mayor Diossa. “The President has stopped the opportunity to make our country stronger – by having our kids paralyzed from seeking a better future.”

“DACA has affected my life drastically,” said Brown University graduate student and ‘Dreamer’ Javier Juarez. “Without DACA, I would have never been able to drive, get a decent paying job with benefits, graduate from Rhode Island College and get accepted into Brown University. Without DACA, everything that I have worked so hard for will vanish. I will continue to fight for DACA. I don’t need a set of papers to show the government that I am a stand-up citizen,” Juarez said.

Chair McNamara concluded, “It is so devastating to families and the impact it will have on them educationally and personally. These young citizens will lose the opportunity to fulfill themselves, and it will negatively impact our economic prospects for this generation.”

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

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RI Democratic leaders condemn Trump remarks

Rhode Island’s elected Democratic leaders joined today to condemn President Trump’s remarks Tuesday voicing support the ‘Alt-Right’ movement — White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and members of the Ku Klux Klan — and in a statement sent to reporters, called for Americans to unite peaceably to protect Democracy.

"The hateful and violent actions of white supremacists and self-identified Nazis this weekend leave no room for equivocation," said Governor Gina Raimondo. "President Trump responded to the events this weekend with dog whistles and muddled words. I stand with Rhode Islanders from across our state against hate, racism and white supremacy. I call on President Trump and all elected and community leaders to make a clear, unequivocal statement that white supremacy, Nazism, racism, and bigotry are evil and have no place in our democratic republic."

"All of our leaders have a responsibility to speak with one common voice against bigotry, hatred and prejudice," said Nicholas Mattiello, Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. "A failure to denounce such actions in Charlottesville and elsewhere is an implied acceptance of this intolerable behavior. Americans must stand united for decency, honesty and the shared common value of equality for all."

President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio said, “There can be no false equivalency between those who seek to subjugate groups of Americans and those who stand bravely against hatred and oppression. This isn’t about left versus right; it’s about right versus wrong. Rhode Islanders of diverse ideologies have fought to protect the American ideal that all people are created equal against the scourge of slavery during the Civil War, of Nazism during World War II, and of racism during the Civil Rights movement. We as Americans stand united against racism and intolerance, but the leader of this great nation must not equivocate on the fundamental American principle espoused by George Washington to a Jewish congregation in Newport: that we shall give to bigotry no sanction.”

“America is at a crossroads. Do we continue our experiment in democracy or do we return to the days of bigotry, racism, hatred, and condoned violence?” asked Party Chair Joseph M. McNamara. “This is not a Republican / Democratic issue – this is an American issue; our nation needs its elected and political leaders to unite to speak out now against this injustice, and to fight to protect our nation from this divisive presidency.”

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

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RI Dems call Trump's transgender ban an "outrage"

“It is an absolute outrage that President Trump is calling for the ban of transgender people in our military, and that he would be so cavalier as to ‘tweet’ this policy reversal,” said Rhode Island Democratic Party Chair Joseph M. McNamara in a statement Wednesday.

“Trump’s statement that transgender Americans will not be allowed to serve 'in any capacity' is absurd and discriminatory on its face. Love of country is not affected by gender identity, nor should it be hailed as a marker for who is patriotic or best qualified to serve this nation,” McNamara said. “At a time when democracy faces threats inside and outside our borders – North Korean aggression, Russian interference in our elections, ISIS terrorists — we need the best and most committed soldiers possible. This policy does not accomplish that.”

Anthony DeRose, Chair of the Rhode Island Democratic Party LGBTQ Caucus, said, "It is truly disgraceful how this President, who has not served one day in the Armed Forces, is now a so-called expert on what is considered a 'disruption' on the battlefield. He's not only disrespecting those trans individuals who have served our Nation bravely or who would have wished to serve, but he is maligning all trans people.”

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

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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

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Northeast Young Democrats of America convene in Providence

13may19_yda_snyder_sm.jpg
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 RIPayDay.org (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.

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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:

12sep10_endorsed_dems.jpg

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.

12aug06_sc_candidates_small.jpg

Full disclosure: I'm a proud Democrat.

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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.

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

YouTube
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.

YouTube
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.

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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.

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