of Montgomery County, Maryland
March Newsletter - Volume 2, Issue 6
Upcoming WSDC Events
Upcoming Campaign Events
The Board Report
Redistricting Roundtable Report
General Assembly News
Political Book Club
Event Cancellation Policy
You may click on one of the above titles to go directly to that subject, or simply scroll down the newsletter.
Thanks to Sybil Cantor and Bonnie Wicklund for their contributions to the newsletter.
UPCOMING WSDC EVENTS:
Mark your calendars now for these upcoming events. For more information on locations and registration, watch for future e-mails and daisy cards - or visit our website at www.mcWSDC.org.
Thursday, April 12
Redwood Restaurant and Bar,
7121 Bethesda Lane, Bethesda
Want to meet new people to talk politics? Join us at the next WSDC Happy Hour. Every second Thursday of each month, Democrats who are passionate about politics gather to relax and network with WSDC members and their guests. Whether you want to meet elected officials, make new friends, form new business contacts or just have fun, the WSDC Happy Hour is the perfect place to meet and greet fellow Democrats.
Thursday, April 19
District 19 House Party with the District 19 Democratic Club and Obama for America
7 - 8:30 p.m.
Home of Charlotte Crutchfield
13207 Osterport Drive, Silver Spring
If you're a District 19 resident who's planning to hit the pavement for Obama-Biden, you won't want to miss this opportunity to hear first-hand from Obama organizers about how you can help. Meet with your fellow WSDC members - and don't forget to bring your friends. To RSVP, contact Charlotte Crutchfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-933-6430.
Saturday, April 21
Doubletree Hotel, 8120 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda
(between Cordell Avenue and Battery Lane)
General membership meeting to vote on the Board-recommended proposal to remove the word "Suburban" from our name.
Luncheon with Michael Sheehan
"Conventions and Debates: Past, Present and Future"
Michael Sheehan is a pre-eminent media advisor for the Democratic party, corporations and non-profiits He has coached speakers at every Democratic convention and presidential and vice presidential candidates for debates since 1988. He will discuss the impact and changing nature of conventions and debates using video clips to show highs and lows as well as share behind the scene stories.
Saturday, May 5
District 39 House Party with the District 39 Democratic Club and Obama for America
2:30 - 4 p.m.
Home of Darrell Anderson
406 Grove Avenue, Washington Grove
If you're a District 39 resident who's planning to hit the pavement for Obama-Biden, you won't want to miss this opportunity to hear first-hand from Obama organizers about how you can help. Meet with your fellow WSDC members - and don't forget to bring your friends. To RSVP, contact Darrell Anderson at email@example.com or 301-963-8555.
Tuesday, May 8
Montgomery 101 Goes to Jail
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Montgomery County Correctional Facility, 22880 Whelan Lane, Boyds
As a follow-up to our February program on "Reclaiming Young Lives" we have scheduled a visit to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Warden Rob Green will provide a general overview of the facility before taking us on a tour. The program will wrap up with a Q&A session. Details to follow.
Thursday, May 31
55th Anniversary Dinner
Normandie Farm Restaurant, 10710 Falls Road, Potomac
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joins us for the celebration of our 55th anniversary. Details to follow.
UPCOMING CAMPAIGN EVENTS
Obama 2012 HQ
3750 University Boulevard West, Suite 303, Kensington
Ongoing: Mobilizing Volunteers
On Wednesday evenings and Saturdays, the campaign is reaching out to engage thousands of volunteers from the 2008 campaign and following up with supporters who contacted them online. Come to campaign headquarters to experience the energy and enthusiasm by making calls with the team! Calling hours are 5-8:30 pm on Wednesdays and 10 am -2 pm on Saturdays.
Call for Loaned Computers
The Obama campaign must equip three field offices in Montgomery County and needs dozens of computers. Do you have a computer you can loan through Election Day, November 6?
They're looking for equipment with:
- Minimum of 2 GHZ processor speed
- 1 GM of RAM
- Flat screen monitor (optional)
- Keyboard and mouse
They would like to wipe everything from your computer's hard drive and install their own software. Or they can leave your hard drive intact, disconnect it, and use their own hard drive, if you prefer. If you'd like to donate it after Election Day, the campaign will give your computer to a nonprofit that will refurbish it for a school or a low-income family.
If your computer meets the specs listed above, you can drop it off at their office in Kensington during office hours: M-F 12 - 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. The address is 3750 University Boulevard West, Kensington. If you can't bring it in, please click here.
Obama Postcard Project
Members are invited to participate in the Obama Postcard Project being led by the Leisure World Democratic Club. The idea is to write personal messages of support for Obama and members of Congress and to stress the importance of voting. The purpose is to help elect Obama, hold the Senate, and take back 25 House seats. Postcard writers are asked to stamp their cards before turning them in. By September, when the battleground states are clear, OFA will print labels of targeted voters in selected swing districts. If you are interested in holding a house party or writing cards, please contact Martha Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-288-7322.
Maryland Democratic Party Gala
Monday, May 7
VIP reception at 6 p.m.
General reception at 6:30 p.m.
Dinner at 7 p.m.
Martin's Crosswinds, 7400 Greenway Center Drive, Greenbelt
Join your Democratic friends at MDP's annual gala with special speaker political commentator Bill Press. Tickets begin at $250 per person. For more information, please contact Andrew Lee at email@example.com or 443-569-4972. To purchase tickets online, go to www.mddems.org/gala2012.
Montgomery County Democratic Party Spring Ball and Awards Gala
Saturday, May 12
North Bethesda Marriott Conference CenterGo to www.mcdcc.org for details .
THE BOARD REPORT
The Board voted to support increasing the state cigarette tax by $1 per pack along with a similar increase to the tax on other tobacco products, with the revenue from these tax increases going to fund the state tobacco control program, the state health improvement process and other community-based health initiatives.
The Board also voted to endorse efforts now underway in the United States Congress to remove the time limit for ratification of the original 1972 Equal Rights Amendment. This would allow three remaining states to pass the amendment and thereby enable the Equal Rights Amendment to become the 28th amendment to our Constitution. Representative Tammy Baldwin has introduced the resolution in the House and Senator Ben Cardin introduced the resolution in the Senate. For additional information, go to www.united4equality.com.
REDISTRICTING EXCITES AVID INTEREST AT MARCH 19TH ROUNDTABLE PRESENTATION by Bonnie Wicklund
Matthew Verghese, Political Director of the Maryland Democratic Party, and Michael Sriqui of Common Cause, elucidated the complexities of the sometimes controversial redistricting process just completed in Maryland.
Verghese, asserting unabashedly that redistricting is a partisan process, explained that in Maryland, as in many states, the power to decide how to redraw district lines rests largely with the governor. Although there is a trend across the country to institute independent commissions, in 39 states the process is still controlled by legislatures and governors, and in only nine of those are Democrats currently in charge. Republicans naturally are trying to use redistricting to secure their legislative gains from the 2010 midterm elections.
For U.S. Congressional districts, the only requirement in Maryland is equality of the population in every district. For the Maryland House of Delegates, there are several additional legal requirements: districts must be contiguous and compact (although compact is not really defined); districts cannot be drawn so as to dilute minority representation; and due regard must be paid to political and natural boundaries.
The Maryland Democratic Party approached the process wanting to achieve a better political outcome--i.e., electing seven rather than the present six Democrats to the U. S. House of Representatives out of an unchanged total of eight representatives. The Party also wanted to minimize disruption as much as possible, and respect communities of interest (such as the Eastern Shore, agricultural interests, minorities, federal workers, etc.).
Verghese then laid out district by district alterations in the U.S. Congressional districts. District 1 on the Eastern Shore will become about 2% more Republican because they did not want the line to cross the Bay. District 2 around Baltimore will stay about the same. District 4 encompassing the eastern and southern suburbs around D.C., will become about 2% less African American, because of additions around Annapolis and the loss of parts of Montgomery County. District 5, the western shore of the Bay to the south of D.C., will now have a majority of minority voters; District 7 in the northeast remains majority minority.
Montgomery County, which previously was mostly District 8 (with small parts in Districts 4 and 6), sustained major changes in the redistricting. In order to make District 6 in the western part of the state--now held by a Republican--more favorable to a Democrat, a significant portion of the north and western part of our county was added to District 6, counterbalanced by the addition of large areas to the north, including Frederick, to District 8. Thus, Representative Van Hollen's district now extends all the way from the D.C. line to the Pennsylvania line. A segment of the eastern part of our county now falls in District 3, which will have no significant racial change. Montgomery County will now be represented by Districts 3, 6 and 8, with a loss of 110,000 minority voters.
The Congressional realignments have been passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor O'Malley; the primary on April 3 will use the new district lines. Six lawsuits were filed against the maps, but all were dismissed or found in favor of the State.
Is this gerrymandering? How well does the current redistricting process serve the public interest? How could it be improved? Michael Sriqui of Common Cause answered these questions in the second part of the presentation.
Sriqui first described the process in Maryland for redrawing the lines for U.S.Congressional representatives. Last July the Governor appointed a Redistricting Advisory Committee, which held the required twelve public hearings for citizen input--but without maps of possible changes. The governor then drew up new maps and submitted them to the General Assembly, which debated them in hearings open to the public. In the process just concluded, this happened with remarkable speed: Governor O'Malley's maps were released on Saturday evening, 15 October 2011, committee hearings were held on the 17th, the bill was passed by the legislature by the 19th, and the Governor signed the maps into law on the 20th.
The result of this process, asserted Sriqui, is oddly shaped districts drawn with sophisticated software primarily to satisfy partisan political goals, sometimes tailor-made for specific individuals. By definition, this is gerrymandering. Moreover, even though there was no change in apportionment, now more than one in three Marylanders lives in a different Congressional district than in the last election, and four out of eight Maryland Congressmen live within roughly twenty miles of each other. The whole process, Sriqui maintained, turns democracy on its head: politicians are choosing their voters instead of the voters choosing their politicians.
To improve things, he said, at a minimum voters should be given more time and opportunity to provide input at all stages of the process, and no public hearings should be held without maps of proposed changes. In addition, Congressional districts should be required to be compact, and unnecessarily dividing localities should be outlawed. Sriqui expressed the wish that Maryland, like some other states, would create a truly independent redistricting commission whose members do not include elected officials or party representatives, and require members of the U.S. House to live in the districts they represent. Several bills to reform redistricting are before the General Assembly this session, but Sriqui is not optimistic. "To be honest," he said, they're not headed anywhere."
GENERAL ASSEMBLY NEWS
During the 2012 session of the General Assembly you will be receiving legislative updates. We also encourage you to check our website ( www.mcWSDC.org) for the most current information on what's happening as well as advocacy events that may be of interest.
POLITICAL BOOK CLUB
Our April 18 selection is Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, in which Ron Suskind describes the behind-the-scenes action during and after the economic meltdown of 2008.
The June 20 selection is Age of Greed by Jeff Madrick, who argues that the relentless pursuit of outrageous wealth in the last 40 years has helped lead to America's decline.
In Assassin's Gate - our selection for August 15 - George Parker revisits the United States' misadventure in Iraq and how American intervention to remove Saddam Hussein has changed the dynamic of the Middle East.
The book club meets the third Wednesday of every other month, 10:30 a.m. at members' homes. A facilitator leads the discussion for each book. Want to join the conversation? New members are always welcome.
Contact Estelle Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you're interested in seeing what other books have been discussed, please go to www.mcWSDC.org and click on Political Book Club.
Do you have ideas for future programs? Do you know someone who would be a great speaker at a future WSDC event? Or would you just like to get more involved with the overall work of the Club? If so, please send an e-mail to email@example.com or visit www.mcWSDC.org and click on "Volunteer" to complete the "It Takes a Village" volunteer form.
EVENT CANCELLATION POLICY
We have found out, once again, how difficult it is to predict the weather. The weather forecast for Saturday, January 21 was in constant flux that made it impossible for us to make a decision as to whether or not we should hold our events until that morning.
In case of a cancellation in the future, we will follow the same procedures we did on Saturday: we posted a notice on our website (www.mcWSDC.org); an e-mail was sent to our members; and we telephoned those who had RSVPed for the luncheon. Therefore, if you are planning to attend an event, it is more important than ever that you register in advance so that we can contact you directly if the need arises.
Keeping members better informed, better connected and more politically effective since 1957