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June Newsletter  - Volume 3, Issue 9





Upcoming WDC Events

Volunteer at the Democratic Tent at the Montgomery County Fair  

Annual Meeting Wrap-Up  

Congressman John Sarbanes Dissects Congressional Political Environment at June Luncheon 

Recap of Senator Tim Kaine's Remarks at June 22 Afternoon Party  

Montgomery 101: Poverty Among Plenty 

Facebook Page    

Political Book Club

Volunteers: It Takes a Village 

Suggestion Box 


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, Teddi Pensinger, Bonnie Wicklund, Janet Lowenthal, Lucy Freeman, and Joyce Lipman for their contributions to the newsletter.    




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.womansdemocraticclub.org.   

Thursday, July 11

Happy Hour    

5:30-7 p.m.  

Lebanese Taverna

7141 Arlington Road, Bethesda


Want to meet new people and talk politics?  Join us at the next WDC Happy Hour. Every second Thursday of each month, Democrats who are passionate about politics gather to relax and network with WDC members and their guests. Whether you want to meet elected officials, make new friends, form new business contacts or just have fun, the WDC Happy Hour is the perfect place to meet and greet fellow Democrats.   



tent As we do each year, WSDC has adopted a day to staff the Democratic Party tent at the Montgomery County Fair in Gaithersburg.  With federal, state, and county elections coming up in 2014, we want to be sure that all Democratic voters are registered. The fair is also a great opportunity to recruit new Club members.


This year we will be staffing the fair with District 16 Democrats on Wednesday, August 14th from 10am to 10pm. We need volunteers to work two-hour shifts.  Any member who volunteers for a two-hour shift is entitled to a free pass to the fair. Come to help the Democrats and stay to enjoy the fair. Email WSDC member Marc Korman at  mkorman@gmail.com for more information and to volunteer at the Democratic Party booth.





by Janet Lowenthal


The General Membership's Annual Meeting was held at the Courtyard Marriott on June 3. As this was Jane Merkin's final meeting as President of the WDC, she thanked the current Board of Directors for their hard work and said how honored she was to have served as president.


Janet Lowenthal, Chair of the Nominating Committee, presented the slate of officers for the next two years and all nominees were then duly elected. They are:


        President:  Beth Tomasello

        1st Vice President:  Janet Lowenthal

        2nd Vice President:  Carmela Cowgill

        3rd Vice President:  Linda Kolko

        Secretary:  Bonnie Wicklund

        Treasurer:  Judith Heimann


Following her election as in-coming President, Beth Tomasello praised Jane for working tirelessly on behalf of the WDC.  In particular, she cited Jane's leadership in shepherding the WDC through a name change and the development of a new website; for achieving a 30 percent increase in membership; for developing stronger relationships between the WDC and other Democratic organizations in Montgomery County; for supporting the Obama campaign by organizing "house parties" in every district in the county--and attending every one of them;  and by actively supporting progressive legislation such as wind power, gun control and marriage equality.


As a token of thanks from the club, Beth presented Jane with an engraved crystal vase and flowers.  On behalf of Representative Chris Van Hollen, Ann Humphreys presented Jane with a Congressional Citation of thanks, and Elly Shaw-Belblidia presented a Certificate of Appreciation from the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.


As sad as we are to see Jane go, we are thrilled to welcome Beth as President, and are confident that she will lead the Woman's Democratic Club to still further heights.  A lawyer by training, Beth worked for many years in private practice and for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She currently serves as Director of Advancement and Strategic initiatives for Sister to Sister, The Women's Heart Health Foundation. Beth also has deep roots in the Democratic Party, and was a member of the National Finance Committee, Obama for America 2012.



Beth's primary goals for her term are three-fold: first, to continue to grow the membership of the club and to focus the club's membership recruitment efforts on expanding the club's geographic reach within this very large county; second, to strengthen the political presence of the club through "cross-pollination" with other Democratic clubs and kindred organizations within Montgomery County; and third, to organize the club members in support of Democratic candidates and of issues of importance to Democrats, namely the Affordable Care Act, comprehensive immigration reform, and campaign finance reform.


We will be calling upon all our members to help the club achieve these ambitious goals that Beth has set.



by Joyce Lipman                                                                                              

Sarbanes at June Luncheon
Although the configuration of Maryland's 3rd Congressional District may be "bizarre," Congressman John Sarbanes finds in its meandering boundaries an opportunity to connect with constituents all along the route to his Congressional office. This connection is important to a man who believes, as he told the Women's Democratic Club, "government actually matters in our lives."


Speaking at the club's June 3rd luncheon, he focused on his frustrations, hopes, and fears related to the "tough political environment" in Washington.


Frustration: Budget Battles

Democrats, says the Congressman, subscribe to the "reasonable notion" that we need a balanced approach with increased revenue and "smart savings." Republicans, on the other hand, are fixated on cuts and have engineered the sequestration that is in fact slowing the economy. According to Sarbanes, after the last election, Democrats thought the GOP would respect the choice of the American people and try to work with the President. Instead, they are willing to sacrifice good policy to rigid ideology.


Hope: Areas of Optimism

Sarbanes believes, first, that an immigration bill will pass because the majority of the American people want it, the growing population of Hispanics expects it, and thus the Republicans need it. As for gun safety legislation, he remains optimistic because, although "the machinery in Washington was not able to process the will of the American people," the momentum has changed. The impetus from Newtown has allowed us to begin creating the infrastructure necessary to combat the NRA network and "make this a balanced discussion."


Fear: Money in Politics

This problem, which is causing a deep cynicism in most Americans, comes from the need for candidates to raise $1.5 million every 2 years. Forced to go to deep-pocketed special interests to raise this much money, a natural tendency for even honest politicians is to follow human nature and lean towards these interests over those of ordinary citizens: "We should walk around with those corporate logos on our sleeves." The Congressman is concerned about the effect of the resulting cynicism on government and hopes that Congress can channel that frustration into legislation. To this end, Congressman Chris Van Hollen has introduced the Disclosure Act to make clear where donated money is coming from.


Some are trying to introduce a Constitutional Amendment to overcome Citizens United. Given the slow, difficult amendment process, however, this strategy, if it could succeed at all, would take years. Sarbanes himself is working on legislation to establish the public funding of campaigns to give voice to "the people alone," to quote James Madison. The legislation would entail tax credits, matches for donations, and additional funds to counteract virulent verbal attacks.


After his presentation Congressman Sarbanes turned to questioners. In reference to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he is encouraged that, despite Republicans' dire predictions and distortions of the truth about the ACA, providers are entering the system and the Act has extended estimations of Medicare solvency. But he expressed concern that Congress was not appropriating funds for the National Health Care Workforce Advisory Committee. He fears a resulting shortage of health care workers.



Questions also addressed, among other topics, election strategy and further economic issues.

Congressman Sarbanes ended by stressing again the dangerous effects of strident ideology, incessant fundraising, and the press's penchant for focusing on extremists and controversy-all of which keep colleagues from sitting down together to govern.



by Bonnie Wicklund    
Kaine at Luncheon
Sen. Tim Kaine speaks to members.

Introduced by WDC president Beth Tomasello as the first sitting governor to endorse Barack Obama for president, Tim Kaine, the newly elected Virginia senator gave a lively but candid assessment of his impressions of Congress after six months on the job--a job he is thrilled to have despite the many frustrations.


Speaking to an audience enjoying summer weather on a shady terrace at the Marriott in Friendship Heights, he began with profuse thanks to members of WDC for their help in his election last fall.  Almost a million phone calls by Marylanders on behalf of candidate Kaine and President Obama in 2012 helped to ensure that the 2008 election was not a fluke in Virginia, as many analysts had claimed, he said.  Virginia is now trending blue, he added.


Senator Kaine serves on the Budget, the Armed Services and the Foreign Relations Committees.  Because Virginia is so heavily connected to the military, and as the proud father of an active duty Marine, Kaine said it is an honor to be on the Armed Services committee. One of the most urgent issues now is veterans' unemployment.  Part of the solution, he thinks, is to help military personnel gain credentials for training while on active duty--a commercial driver's license for driving trucks, for example.  To this end, he has introduced the  Troop Talent Act.


On Foreign Relations, Kaine noted that he now chairs the International Development subcommittee--previously headed by Senator Cardin--which handles USAID, the Peace Corps and other international organizations that are critical to U.S. diplomatic success in the wider world.  The Virginia senator described himself as passionately interested in the Americas, stemming from his days as a young missionary in Honduras, where he learned fluent Spanish, which he pointed out has been continuously spoken in North America longer than English.


The issue of the moment in Congress is immigration reform, so Kaine decided to give a speech in the Senate entirely in Spanish, "explaining the proposed bill to some of the immigrants to whom it matters most in their own language".  This was a first on the Senate floor.  Especially after the failure of the farm bill last week, Kaine described the fate of immigration reform, critical for the economy, as a test of the Senate's seriousness as an institution.


The senator responded to almost a dozen wide-ranging queries from the audience, ranging from domestic issues like health care, gun control, student loan interest rates, and campaign finance reform, to more purely political questions.  On the complex issue of changing the filibuster that Republicans have used repeatedly to derail Democratic initiatives which would easily pass by majority vote, Kaine explained that the problem lies in the history of the Senate, which considers itself in continuous session because of the staggered terms, and therefore requires a two-thirds vote to change the rules.  The Senate record is full of speeches from Democrats like Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy adamantly opposing changing the filibuster rule.   Kaine said that newer Democratic senators may nevertheless revisit this issue in the future, especially for presidential appointments which require Congressional approval.


Regarding Syria, Kaine described the administration's dilemma as "vexing and challenging" with no easy answers.  While Assad's "two-year war against his own people is horrifying," the opposition is extremely fragmented and prone to sectarian violence.  The fall of Assad could result in ethnic purges of some minorities like the Alawites and Christians which have been protected by the regime.  An added complication is that some of the strongest opposition elements are now allied with Al Qaeda. 


"A kind of middle-of-the-roader" is how Senator Kaine characterized himself on energy issues.  His mantra:  "Do it cleaner tomorrow than today."  By this standard it is the "dirty, backward" tar sands process of extracting oil that he finds more objectionable than the Keystone XL pipeline itself.  The White House, he added, is wrestling with this difficult issue and it's still unclear how the administration will decide.


by Lucy Freeman

Poverty 101
Mark Bergel, A Wider Circle; Charlotte Corbett, Interfaith Works; Minerva Delgado, Manna Food Center; Brett Meyers, Nourish Now; Lin Orrin, MobileMed; Lucy Freeman, WDC Education Chair at Montgomery 101 Program.


On April 26, the Education Committee hosted a program on poverty in Montgomery County at the Jane E. Lawton Center in Chevy Chase.  The program was both well attended and well received by club members and guests.  Montgomery County is one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, but thirty-four percent of the County's public school students receive free or reduced-price meals.  25,000 residents receive support from SNAP (federal food assistance), and nearly 1,000 residents are homeless on any night. Five speakers talked about what their agencies are doing to address this problem.



Charlotte Corbett, from Interfaith Works, discussed homelessness in the County and Interfaith Works' program to help victims of domestic violence.  The organization offers women and families an apartment, food, help getting a job, and a mentor to help clients cope with all of life's problems. Mark Bergel, who started A Wider Circle, said that at its founding, A Wider Circle offered only furniture to the families it serves, but the organization now offers furniture, clothes, interview training, and help getting a job as part of its mission. Minerva Delgado, from the Manna Food Center, talked about the need for food throughout the County.  Manna Food Center gives food to school children so they have food to eat over the weekends when they cannot get free meals at school. Brett Meyers, while working at Panera, saw the amount of wasted food and started Nourish Now in May 2011.  The organization collects food from restaurants, caterers, and grocery stores and distributes the food to homeless shelters, food banks, schools and social service agencies.  Lin Orrin, Director of Development at MobileMed, discussed the clinics across the county offering medical care to anyone in need.


All of these organizations need volunteers and attendees of the program signed up to volunteer.


Members and guests left the program much better informed about the poverty in our County and impressed with the great work these five organizations are doing to address the problem.


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The September 18 selection is Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, the first full-scale biography in 25 years of one of the most important and distinguished justices to sit on the Supreme Court.Author Melvin Urofsky reveals Justice Brandeis the reformer, lawyer, and jurist, as well as Brandeis the man, in all of his complexity, passion, and wit.Books


The November 20 selection is The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler in which David Roll shows how Harry Hopkins, an Iowa-born social worker who had been an integral part of the New Deal's implementation, became the linchpin in FDR's--and America's--relationships with Churchill and Stalin, and spoke with an authority second only to the President's.


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! For more information, contact Estelle Stone at estelles@webtv.net.


If you're interested in seeing what other books have been discussed, please go to www.womansdemocraticclub.org and click on Political Book Club, which is listed under Events.  




 Help Wanted

 We need your help creating a vibrant Club and we solicit your ideas and participation. And the most valuable contribution you can make to the Club is - you guessed it - your time. Sharing your skills and expertise with us and joining a committee are fun ways to meet other members and make new friends while helping the Club accomplishits goals. Go to  www.womansdemocraticclub.org and click on "Get Involved, then click on Volunteer to complete the volunteer form.




Suggestion Box  

Do you have ideas for future programs? Do you know someone who would be a great speaker at a future WDC event?  If so, please send an e-mail to  wdcmcmd@gmail.com .






 Keeping members better informed, better connected and more politically effective since 1957      


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Woman's Democratic Club
Beth Tomasello.President
www.womansdemocraticclub.org     wdcmcmd@gmail.com
Woman's Democratic Club
Sybil Cantor
Email Coordinator