The Resistance Comes to Palatine

UPDATED 2/6/17, 10:00PM: Our demonstration in Palatine Saturday was highlighted on Rachel Maddow's show this evening. 

Also, Greg Hinz published a column in Crain's Chicago Business today titled "Time for Roskam to show up and meet with his critics" and featuring video from Saturday's protest.

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On Saturday, February 4th, more than 500 constituents demonstrated outside the office of the Palatine Township Republican Organization where Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL6) spoke only to Republicans who agree with him. The protest was organized by the Palatine After March Action Group, Action Sixth District Illinois, 6th District of Illinois - Holding Rep. Peter Roskam Accountable,  Northwest Suburbs Organizing for Action (OFA), and other groups.

Channel 2 News covered today’s demonstration. They ran it on both the 5:00 and 10:00 news and posted it online: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2017/02/04/hundreds-protest-rep-peter-roskam-in-palatine/

I took a much less professional video that shows the size of the crowd: https://youtu.be/Ll5ul5SUnfE

Roskam tried to escape out the back door. https://youtu.be/hcMo-RztuI0

Many other media covered the event:

http://patch.com/illinois/wheaton/hundreds-protest-palatines-congressman

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20170204/news/170209444/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/elgin-courier-news/news/ct-ecn-roskam-protest-st-0205-20170204-story.html

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/peter-roskam-protest-palatine-412780383.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT8G3FZ9icQ

https://thinkprogress.org/republican-congressman-sneaks-out-of-meeting-to-avoid-hundreds-of-protesters-d2c65686e719#.aawimtwon

https://medium.com/@janemelvin/sneaking-out-the-back-door-in-the-illinois-6th-93c60f87ec88#.7z5mg5ooi


My open letter to the Daily Herald

The front page of Friday’s Daily Herald (10/14/16) featured a story titled “Trump alleges ‘conspiracy’ behind claims," in which you gave uncritical publicity to Donald Trump’s demagogic and unsubstantiated paranoia. Late in the same story, you included two paragraphs on page 11 (with no headline) referring to Michelle Obama’s brave, emotional, and true speech the same day rejecting Trump’s hatred. The First Lady’s speech deserved to be heard by every American. Sadly, you and other media chose instead to give Trump more undeserved publicity and a forum for his destructive lies.

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Why progressives (and others) should enthusiastically support Hillary Clinton for President

It makes me angry when people say that voting is a choice of "the lesser of two evils." That's just not true. One party is trying to move our country (and world) forward, while the other is fighting against progress. It's a choice between 95% good and 95% evil. (No one's perfect, and even the Koch Brothers support reducing mass incarceration.)

Voters have a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Other people will tell you why we must defeat Trump. But I'm going to tell you why you should proudly, happily, and enthusiastically support Hillary:

1.  Hillary Clinton may well be the best qualified Presidential candidate in history. Who else has served in the Senate and as Secretary of State after living in the White House for eight years?

2.  Hillary Clinton has devoted her adult life to helping those in need. She worked for the Children's Defense Fund. She worked to enact and implement the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which brought health insurance to 6 million children. She led the effort to reform health care in the early 1990s.

3.  Hillary Clinton has been an advocate for women's rights around the world. She went to China and said that "women's rights are human rights” over the objections of the State Department.

4.  Hillary Clinton has been a tireless advocate for parity in the treatment of mental health by health insurers. This issue exemplified her understanding that change takes place incrementally and that it takes a commitment of years or even decades to make the progress we need.

5.  In 1998, Hillary Clinton said that there was a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to bring down Bill Clinton. Conventional wisdom was that she was paranoid and thin-skinned. But time has shown that she was right. Read Blinded by the Right, Killing the Messenger, or any number of other books by former right-wing writers who were paid to make up lies about both Clintons. We can’t reward a campaign of lies and manipulation.

6.  Hillary Clinton has shown her toughness and good judgment in dealing with the unfair attacks on her. What other candidate has been subjected to so many lies, half-truths, innuendo, sexism, and vitriol? We know Hillary can handle pressure because she has doing it for decades.

7.  After losing in 2008, Hillary Clinton put aside her personal feelings to become a valuable partner to President Obama. She was an excellent Secretary of State, participated in negotiations that led to the Iran nuclear arms agreement, and developed relationships with foreign leaders unlike any other Presidential candidate in recent memory. She gives respect and support for the accomplishments of the Obama administration and says that she wants to build on those accomplishments.

8.  Hillary Clinton is an excellent speaker and debater. Listen to her foreign policy speech on June 2nd: the whole speech, not just the sound bites. She held her own in debating President Obama, and many observers said that she was the better debater.

9.  We need to guard against sexism, even in our own reactions. Trump said that Hillary Clinton was "yelling" and that she had an unpleasant voice. But Trump, Sanders, and other male candidates "yell" far more loudly and intemperately than Hillary ever does. When you listen to her speak, ask how you would react if the same words came from a male voice at the same volume.

10.  Jill Abramson in the left-wing Guardian says that “Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest.” Trump and other right-wingers accuse her of being dishonest, but they are basing their claims on the phony scandals the right wing has been peddling for years. No politician (and no person) can be in the public eye so long without saying things that can be pointed to as "flip-flops," but name one important thing Hillary Clinton has been untruthful about.

11.  Hillary Clinton has apologized for her mistakes. She has said she regrets her vote to authorize President Bush to intervene in Iraq, and she's said she's sorry she didn't handle her email differently. No politician can avoid making mistakes, but a good one learns from her mistakes.

12.  Hillary Clinton’s election would have the same impact on young women that the election of President Obama had on young black people.

13.  In endorsing Hillary Clinton for President, the New York Times said:

Hillary Clinton is the right choice for the Democrats to present a vision for America that is radically different from the one that leading Republican candidates offer — a vision in which middle-class Americans have a real shot at prosperity, women’s rights are enhanced, undocumented immigrants are given a chance at legitimacy, international alliances are nurtured and the country is kept safe. 

14.  Rolling Stone endorsed her, stating:

On the question of experience, the ability to enact progressive change, and the issue of who can win the general election and the presidency, the clear and urgent choice is Hillary Clinton.

15.  Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety, the country’s largest gun violence prevention group with more than three million supporters,  endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, saying:

Hillary is the only candidate who has consistently stood on the side of gun safety. She’s the only candidate has stood with gun violence survivors. And she’s the only candidate who has shown the backbone to stand up to the gun lobby’s extreme “guns everywhere” agenda. 

18.   In 2011, Secretary Clinton went to Pakistan and demanded greater cooperation to reign in groups responsible for terrorist attacks across the border into Afghanistan, saying that:

You can't keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors. Eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard.

That showed courage in confronting a U.S. ally to change their behavior. (I think this statement also captures what has happened to the Republican Party.)

16.  Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination fair and square, playing by the rules, with no manipulation or underhanded tactics. With or without superdelegates, she has earned the right to be the leader of our party. Progressives must unite to win and to continue the progress we’ve made in the last eight years.

17.   I'm proud to have helped elect the first African-American President. Let's be proud to have elected the first woman as President.


Recommendations for the March 15, 2016 Primary

Matt Flamm, Palatine Township Democratic Committeeman, has issued a list of his recommendations for voters living in the Greater Palatine area. "These are my personal recommendations," said Flamm. Greater Palatine Area Democrats (GPAD) has not endorsed candidates, and we welcome supporters of all Democratic candidates.

Flamm put special emphasis on several local candidates. "Kim Foxx has new ideas about how to transform the criminal justice system. Jacob Meister understands what needs to be done to clean up the office of the Clerk or Circuit Court and to bring it into the 21st Century."

Flamm also endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. "Secretary Clinton has a broad range of experience. She joined President Obama's cabinet as Secretary of State, a position in which she has helped improve our safety and our reputation around the world. She has withstood a relentless propaganda campaign by the right wing. In doing so, she has proven that she is smart and tough enough to be President."

Flamm' recommendations can be found by clicking on this link. You can print out a list of endorsements and bring it with you when you vote.


The rising tide of Democratic demographics

Following is a thought-provoking excerpt from a long article in Rolling Stone:

By the eve of 2016, evidence of a profound social and cultural revolution begun decades ago became too strong to ignore. The rise of the Internet, changing patterns in immigration, racial and ethnic diversity, family organization and gender roles, as well as declining religious piety, have created an America unimaginable when Clinton and Gingrich squared off 20 years ago. 

According to data reported by the respected Democratic pollster Stanley B. Greenberg, a majority of U.S. households are now headed by unmarried people; non-religious seculars outnumber Protestants; and two-thirds of women are either the breadwinners or co-breadwinners of their households. Racial minorities now constitute nearly 40 percent of the nation's population. According to one Gallup Poll, 60 percent to 70 percent of Americans consider homosexual relations, out-of-wedlock births and divorce as "morally acceptable."

Even more striking, according to Greenberg, the electorate has changed as well. In 2012, the combined numbers of minorities, single women, millennials and seculars formed 51 percent of the nation's voters. In 2016, Greenberg's analysis shows, these same groups will form 63 percent of the electorate. As each of these groups supports Hillary Clinton for president by margins of two to one, Greenberg writes, "It is fair to say that the United States has reached an electoral tipping point."


A Successful Fundraiser

Thanks to everyone who made our October 21st fundraiser a great success. Special thanks to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who spoke with many of those present and gave a short, inspirational speech. President Preckwinkle is the type of public servant who makes us proud to be Democrats.

Thanks to the many elected officials who attended including Cook County Recorder Karen Yarborough, State Senator Laura Murphy, State Representative Elaine Nekritz, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Mariyana Spyropoulus, Justice Bernetta Lampkin, Judge Rossana Fernandez. and Judge Fredrick Bates. Thanks also to the many candidates who attended, including Josina Morita and Tom Greenhaw, candidates for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board; Jacob Meister, candidate for Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County; Dr. Robert Marshall, candidate for Congress in the 6th Congressional District; and Maureen O'Donoghue Hannon and Pat Heneghan, candidates for Circuit Court Judge.

 We are especially grateful to our sponsors:

  • Platinum Sponsor: Alan Prochaska
  • Gold Sponsors: Painters District Council #14, State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, and State Sen. Laura Murphy.
  • Silver Sponsors:  Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County Recorder Karen Yarbrough, State Sen. Julie Morrison, Patrick J. Heneghan, David Gurion, Laddi Singh, Elizabeth Marcin, Lyn and Frank Huckin, and Friends of Flamm.

 

We awarded our annual Jim Hightower Community Organizing Award to Northwest Suburbs Organizing for Action (NWSOFA) for its continuing actions to organize local progressives around health care reform, gun violence prevention, immigration reform, diversity, and economic and fiscal issues. Bil Davis, Renee Gladstone, Patrick Watson, and Harold Whyte accepted the award on behalf of NWSOFA.

If you were meaning to make a contribution but didn't get around to it before the fundraiser, there's still time. You can mail your check to GPAD, P.O. Box 2120, Palatine, IL 60078 or go to www.gpadems.org/fundraiser to contribute online.

This event will allow us to continue to maintain our year-round office, which is available for use by all Democrats and progressives, and to continue our efforts to identify and reach out to Democrats in the Palatine area.

Finally, thanks to Susan MacDonald, Beth Marcin, Renee Shapiro, Harold Whyte, and Patrick Watson, who helped make this event go smoothly. An organization is only as good as its volunteers, and we are grateful to have some of the best.


Targeting "Bad Apple" Gun Dealers

On Saturday, June 6th, volunteers from Northwest Suburbs Organizing for Action (NWSOFA) traveled to Riverdale to join almost 200 people in protesting outside Chuck's Gun Shop. The protest was organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Volunteers from Operation PUSH, People for a Safer Society, and other Chicago-area groups joined the protest. A group called Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence came all the way from Indianapolis.

Nearly 20% of the crime guns recovered in Chicago between 2009 and 2013 were originally sold by just four local gun dealers. Shockingly, a single gun dealer – Chuck’s Gun Shop and Pistol Range – was the source of nearly one out of every 12 guns traced to crime in Chicago. Chuck’s is part of the roughly 5 percent of gun dealers around the country that supply about 90 percent of the guns linked to crime. From 2009 to 2013, 1,516 guns recovered in crime in Chicago were traced back to Chuck’s. Nationwide, 2,370 guns recovered in crime were traced back to Chuck’s from 1996 to 2000, the most of any gun dealer in the country. In contrast, more than 85 percent of gun dealers sell no guns used in crime.

Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign introduced Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Michael Pfleger of St.Sabina's Church. He led the group in peaceful protest just outside the front door of Chuck's Gun Shop.

The truly memorable speakers, however, were dozens of mothers, fathers, and children of people killed by gun violence. Their quiet, sincere testimonials brought our chants of "Purpose over Pain" as they turned their grief into action.

Several dozen counterprotestors stood on the property of the gun shop, waiving signs that had obviously been prepared by professionals and shouting insults. What struck me was the pettiness and lack of substance in what they and their signs said: "Chuck's Is Not a Bad Apple," "Guns Don't Kill People, Gangs Do," and the like. They had no argument why Chuck's shouldn't sign the code of conduct that most gun shops have, or why Chuck's should be allowed to continue selling guns to straw purchasers, advising customers how to evade the law, and enabling gun crime in Chicago and elsewhere.

I had several memorable conversations. One was with a woman whose 19-year old son was shot to death. Another was with an older black man who had been in the Marines. He said that after he returned from combat, he had no desire to own or use a gun.

Another of our volunteers said:

Guns have always made me fearful. Protesting outside of a well-known gun shop whose unethical business practices are in question terrified me, however, something inside of me pushed me to go. One activist wore a super hero cape, but the family members of the victims of gun violence were the true heroes of the day. As they shared their stories, embraced the photos of their deceased loved ones, held posters with the autopsy photos of their beloved deceased, and hugged a total stranger like me, they demonstrated what a toll this senseless violence has on the living, as well as the strength they have derived to make something positive occur out of their personal tragedy. I left the rally without fear, but with a new found courage. I was emotionally moved, inspired, and resolved to push on because this movement to make America a country that values life over guns and life over money is alive in all of the family members whose loved ones have lost their lives to senseless gun violence.

ABC-7 News covered the rally. I thought their story was fair, other than underestimating the number of protestors. Even Sean Hannity of Fox News interviewed Dan Gross and agreed with most of what Gross said.

The Brady Campaign did an excellent job of organizing and managing the protest. Several buses came from different areas, including St. Sabina's Parish and Evanston. The organizers had red t-shirts for all with the message "Stop Bad Apple Gun Dealers." The message was clear and consistent. The crowd was multi-racial and multi-ethnic. The organizers had volunteers walk, chant, and eventually sit symbolically on the sidewalk outside the gun shop. Despite high emotions on all side, there was no violence or even threat of violence. This was a model of how to organize an effective protest.

The fact that most gun dealers have signed a code of conduct tells us that common sense and public pressure are winning out over the selfish, irrational shouts of a few gun rights extremists. Every year, more people recognize the need for reasonable regulations. This rally encouraged me to "keep the faith" knowing that we are on the track to victory.


Gun Violence Prevention: We Are the Majority

For decades, the "conventional wisdom" has been that politicians dare not cross the NRA. Pundits and political strategists have warned candidates that support for even the mildest gun violence prevention proposals would bring down a hailstorm of opposition from Second Amendment absolutists, who were said to be "single issue voters." The theory was that gun rights absolutists were well organized and motivated, in contrast to supporters of gun violence prevention.

I think that conventional wisdom is wrong. In fact, I believe that gun violence prevention will become a "litmus test" or "wedge" issue in coming years. Here are my reasons.

First, far few people grow up in households with guns. Between the 1980s and 2010, the rate of gun ownership dropped from 49% of American households to 32%. That's a decrease of more than one-third in just one generation. That trend will continue as more Americans grow up in cities and suburbs, where gun ownership is far less common than in rural areas.

Second, most voters support reasonable gun violence prevention measures. Polls show that prohibiting assault weapons and large-capacity magazines and requiring universal background checks are supported by a large majority of even gun-owning Americans.

Third, gun owners are not "single-issue" voters. Most reasonable gun owners vote for candidates based on their overall agreement with the candidates' views. Those few who are gun rights extremists tend to be the same people who are anti-choice, anti-gay rights, and anti-government. They're not going to vote for a Democrat regardless of the candidate's stand on gun violence prevention.

Only a minority of a shrinking minority believe that unrestricted gun ownership should be allowed. Fewer than one percent of people in Illinois (and fewer than one-half of one percent in Cook County) applied for concealed carry permits in the first year they were available. But that small minority has forced the rest of us to post "No Guns" signs on our homes and offices if we don't want them endangering our families and co-workers.

We're already seeing signs that a candidate's willingness to take on the NRA is an asset, not a liability. Robin Kelly won her special election to Congress in part because she took a forthright stand in favor of reasonable gun violence prevention measures, while her opponents had voted with the NRA. 

State Senator Julie Morrison has introduced a bill to allow Illinois municipalities to adopt ordinances prohibiting assault weapons sales. She did so at the request of Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, who is running for Congress. Congratulations to Sen. Morrison and Mayor Rotering for having the courage to take on the NRA. I believe the large majority of their constituents approve.

This change will not happen everywhere at the same pace. Supporting gun violence prevention will be more of an asset in a liberal suburb than in a rural area. But as more politicians take on the NRA and win (and as others equivocate and are punished by the voters), "conventional wisdom" will change. Very soon, candidates will be called upon by voters to take a firm and progressive stand on gun issues or risk losing their support.


Congratulations to April 7th Winners

Congratulations to Jessica Morrison and Zubair Khan, who were elected Tuesday to the District 15 Board of Education. Both Jessica and Zubair were born in Arlington Heights and grew up in the northwest suburbs. They will bring new ideas and a spirit of cooperation to the board.

Dave Gurion ran a great race. He impressed a lot of people, and you haven't seen the last of him.

You can view the District 15 election results, including precinct-by-precinct results, by clicking on this link. There are still some absentee and provisional ballots to be counted. Watch this site for updates.

Hal Snyder appears to have been elected to the Palatine Public Library District. Hal was the only candidate on the ballot, but there were three write-in candidates. Write-in votes won't be tabulated until next week. You can monitor the results by clicking on this link, or revisit this blog post from time to time for updates when they become available.

I'm troubled by the low voter turnout (less than 11 percent of registered voters). Cook County Clerk David Orr suggested today that Illinois consider mail-only voting for local elections. That's how all elections are conducted in Oregon and Washington State, and they have much higher turnout. One reason: you don't have to apply for a ballot. If you're registered, they will mail you a ballot before each election. Most precincts had fewer than 100 voters all day. It's a waste to staff thousands of polling places, especially for low-turnout elections like this one.


Real Hope for the Future

Last June, Al Gore wrote an article in Rolling Stone titled "The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate" in which he argued that people around the world are finally starting to take the actions necessary to save our planet. Gore reminded us of three great quotations. The first was from Winston Churchill in 1936 as war was imminent:

"Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger. . . . The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences. . . . We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now."

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