May Newsletter - Volume 5, Issue 8
Social Media Update --- We're on Facebook and Twitter!
Political Book Club
Volunteers: It Takes a Village
You may click on one of the above titles to go directly to that subject, or simply scroll down the newsletter.
Thanks to Beth Tomasello, Sybil Cantor, Teddi Pensinger, Linda Kolko, Riki Sheehan, Eileen Brooks, Lucy Freeman, Marian Kisch,Ed Kimmel, Helene Guttman, Carmela Cowgill, Jose Gonzalez, Paul Schwartz, and Sara Watkins for their contributions to this newsletter.
UPCOMING WDC EVENTS
Tuesday, June 9
Join WDC for Dinner and "A Report from the AG's Office" with Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Biennial General Membership Meeting
General Meeting - 6:30 p.m.
Dinner with Brian Frosh -7:00 pm
Bethesda Marriott (at Pooks Hill)
5151 Pooks Hill Road, Bethesda
Cost: Members $32; Guests $37
To make your reservation, send your check to Judith Heimann, 6900 Marbury Road, Bethesda, MD 20817 or reserve online at www.womansdemocraticclub.org by 5:00 pm Thursday, June 4
Questions about the event? Call Natalie Bouquet, 301-907-7856
Prior to taking office as Maryland's 46th attorney general, Brian compiled a distinguished record as a state lawmaker, authoring important legislation to protect Marylanders from gun violence and ensure that all Marylanders have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe. He served 5 terms in the Maryland State Senate, representing Maryland's District 16 in Montgomery County. Prior to serving in the Senate, he also represented District 16 in the Maryland House of Delegates, serving two four-year terms. As Attorney General, Brian is committed to serving as the "people's lawyer," applying the law to improve lives and bring fairness, equality and justice to all Marylanders. He is focused on keeping our communities safe, on limiting environmental damage and unfair, deceptive and predatory business practices, and on promoting transparency and openness in government. As the state's chief legal officer, Brian is working to prevent crime before it happens on our streets and on the Internet. He is working to expand educational and economic opportunities for all Marylanders, reduce gang activity, and strengthen effective rehabilitation programs and prisoner reentry programs. He is also focused on protecting vulnerable populations such as the elderly from fraud and abuse.
This will also be our biennial general membership meeting to elect officers for the 2015-2017 term and vote on a change in the annual dues to create a category of dues for members aged 35 or younger. Please click here for the official announcement of the meeting and click here for the report of the nominating committee.
Thursday, June 11
5:30 to 7 PM
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.
Tuesday, June 23
"Saving for Retirement-Simple Sidesteps to Avoid Investment Missteps," presented by WDC Member, Jean Kahl, Certified Financial Planner and Principal of CVI Financial in Gaithersburg.
7:00 to 9 PM
Home of Lucy Freeman
4708 Dorset Avenue, Chevy Chase
The Woman's Democratic Club, the Montgomery County Young Democrats, the African-American Democratic Club, and the Muslim Democratic Club are sponsoring a summer series of educational programs focused on financial literacy entitled, "Money & Politics Done Right." WDC is pleased to present a program featuring certified financial planner and Club member, Jean Kahl, on avoiding common, and costly, mistakes in retirement saving and investing. Since the pension has largely met its demise, and most of us are now responsible for our own retirement security, this is a program that no member should miss.
To RSVP or for questions, please contact Lucy Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org , 301-654-8115.
WDC will make information on the other sponsoring Club's financial literacy programs available when the programs are finalized.
POLITICAL STRATEGIST DAVID AXELROD IS A "BELIEVER"
At the Woman's Democratic Club luncheon on May 16, 2015, David Axelrod spoke about his new book,Believer: My Forty Years in Politics, which recounts the idealism behind his love of politics, his twenty-year friendship with Barack Obama, and how their warm partnership inspired and propelled them to great heights.
|David Axelrod and WDC Vice-Presdent Linda Kolko |
David Axelrod was born in New York City and, in 1960, when he was five years old, his babysitter took him to see John F. Kennedy, who was then locked in a dead heat for the presidency with Richard M. Nixon. From that moment on, Axelrod was hooked on politics. He wanted to be part of politics: "to grab the wheel of history and turn it in the right direction." Over fifty years later, in 2012, he stood on the stage in Iowa watching his and President Barack Obama's final campaign stop, knowing he had accomplished his goal.
Before he became a political strategist, Axelrod worked as a journalist for The Chicago Tribune, where he wrote for eight years as a reporter and political columnist. He also covered "murder and mayhem" which he described as "great preparation for covering Chicago politics". In 1984, he left the Tribune to work as the campaign manager for Paul Simon's U.S. Senate race. He moved then into the realm of politics as a political strategist and never looked back. He opened his own political consulting firm to work on political campaigns including Paul Simon's run for President.
|David Axelrod at Podium|
Axelrod first met Barack Obama in 1992 as a favor to a friend. Obama had finished Harvard Law School and had returned to Chicago to lead a non-profit voter registration organization and to work at a civil rights law firm. In 1994 an opening for state senator came up. Obama pulled off a win showing his skills as a community organizer. As Axelrod noted, both he and Obama saw politics as a calling, not as a business, and he viewed Obama as a politician who served in office not as a chance to "be somebody," but as a chance to "do something."
In the early summer of 2002, Obama asked Axelrod again for advice. He had been asked by the mutual friend who introduced Axelrod and Obama to speak at an anti-Iraq war rally in October of that year. Axelrod advised Obama on the speech and realized what a gifted writer and thinker he was. Axelrod agreed to work with Obama when he ran for an open US Senate seat. It was during this race when hearing Obama talk about how he connected with white, rural voters in southern Illinois that he realized how comfortable Obama was with all kinds of people and that he could tell his story in the context of the larger American story.
During Obama's successful 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, Axelrod first suggested that Obama use "Yes We Can" as a campaign message, and he first proposed using it in a campaign ad. Obama hesitated, believing the phrase to be "corny." As Axelrod recounted, Michelle Obama happened to have accompanied her husband to the meeting to review the campaign ad, and after Axelrod and Obama went back and forth, Obama turned to his wife for her opinion. "Not corny," was Michelle's response, and "Yes We Can" became a hallmark of Obama's Senate and first Presidential campaign.
After working hard to secure the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Obama became a national figure overnight. In 2008 Obama ran for President and, with Axelrod serving as chief campaign strategist, won election as the first black President of the United States. Axelrod followed him to the White House as senior adviser, where he served for two years. Axelrod guided Obama to a re-election victory in 2012, at which point, he retired from politics to found and serve as the first director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago.
As he assessed the Obama presidency, Axelrod pointed to several notable accomplishments for which Obama should be credited. Axelrod credited Obama with the economic resurrection of the economy after 2008, the dire condition of which Obama did not learn about until after he was elected. In particular, Axelrod praised Obama's decision to save the American automobile industry. As Axelrod pointed out, much of the Midwest economy is dependent on the automobile industry, and it is a landmark American industry. Obama chose to fund a federal loan program, and in so doing, helped the industry return to profitability and saved over one million American jobs.
Axelrod spoke at length about the passage of the landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He noted that seven other presidents had failed to reform health care, but Obama had succeeded. Axelrod had firsthand experience with the health care system because of his daughter's experience with severe epilepsy, the medical treatments for which had almost bankrupted his family. The passage of the health care legislation was a golden moment for Obama. When asked to speculate what will be the result of an adverse Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, Axelrod stated that a Supreme Court decision upholding the tax subsidies for low-income people buying insurance through HealthCare.gov will give the Republicans cover as they will not have to change the law. However, if the Court strikes down the subsidies for those purchasing through the federal exchange, the Republicans will either have to amend the law or face sixteen million unhappy people who will lose their ability to purchase health care plans with their federal tax subsidy. He stated that the principle of legislative intent is really important in deciding the case, and the Court needs to consider what will happen to the people who rely on the subsidies.
|David Axelrod greeting WDC members.|
Regarding police and community relations: Axelrod's noted that his first column for the Chicago Tribune forty-three years ago addressed police brutality. Axelrod acknowledged that this is a long-standing problem, and there has to be a balance between the needs of the community and the police. He stated that although the criminal justice system needs to be reformed, we need to recognize that the police put their lives on the line every day for all of us. The prevalence of guns is also an underlying problem.
About the future of the Democratic Party, Axelrod believes that the solution to fighting the Republicans and their financial backers like the Koch brothers, is to work from the "bottom up" to build leaders and win elections at all levels of government beginning with local elections, such as School Boards, City Councils, State Legislatures, and so forth. Candidates from these levels are the breeding ground for candidates at the next level of the political hierarchy.
When asked about how he would advise the President on the political obstruction he is currently facing, he replied he does not know. At least the Republicans showed their hand early on, and Obama knew what he would be dealing with, but he believes that the Republicans will not do anything that allows Obama to claim bi-partisan action, even if they agree on a policy level.
Ever the idealist about what politics and government can do to serve the people, Axelrod concluded his talk with a reiteration of his core belief that, "It's not about the power; it's what you do with it."
WDC ROUNDTABLE ON DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY
by Marian Kisch
|Robert Goldman Discussing Realities of Affordable Housing |
Demographics in Montgomery County are changing, with implications for housing, schools, transportation and jobs. Although income and education levels are high in many areas, other areas in the county are suffering from poverty, lack of affordable housing, poor education and low-level jobs.
These issues were discussed on May 27 by Casey Anderson, chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board, and Robert Goldman, president of Montgomery Housing Partnership, as part of the WDC Montgomery 101 Program. More than 35 people attended, including State Senator Jamie Raskin (D20), Delegate David Moon (D20), a representative from Congressman. Chris Van Hollen's office, School Board member Jill Ourtman-Fouse and Takoma Park Councilmembers Kate Stewart and Seth Grimes.
The median income in Montgomery County ranks consistently among the highest in the country, at $98,326, but it is unevenly distributed. One in four households make less than $50,000 a year which, Anderson says, results in stress to meet basic needs. African American and Hispanic families are at the lower end of the median income level. Goldman spoke about the huge increase in poverty where 6.7% live below the poverty level, an increase of 49% since 2005. The self-sufficiency level in Montgomery County is $85-$90,000 for one adult and two children.
In addition, wealth is unevenly represented within the county, with higher incomes situated in the southwestern areas along the I-270 corridor such as Potomac, Bethesda and Chevy Chase. Anderson said the county would like to create more job centers in areas such as Silver Spring, Wheaton and White Oak to bring more prosperity there.
Education levels are continuing to rise in Montgomery County, with an increase in advanced degrees (master's, Ph.D. or professional). From 1990 to 2013 they jumped from 23 percent to 31 percent-better than Fairfax County, to which Montgomery County is often compared. But, just like income, education levels are higher in the southwest parts of the county. The holders of bachelor's and advanced degrees also vary widely by race and ethnicity: Caucasian: 70%, Asian: 68%, County: 56%, Black/African American: 37%, Hispanic: 25%.
|Casey Anderson addressing a full house. |
Interestingly, almost half of foreign-born residents have a bachelor's degree or higher, 25% with advanced degrees. This dispels the stereotype, Anderson said, that immigrants have little education. Instead, they are reliable sources for outstanding workers in the county.
Information from the public schools points to areas of concern. The free and reduced-price meals program, which is a strong poverty indicator, has increased from 35% in 2002-03 to 43% in 2012-13. And the achievement gap is both geographic and racial/ethnic, with lower achievement in the eastern part of the county and certain other areas, while highest achievement is generally in the wealthier, southwestern sections.
Although the population of Montgomery County is experiencing slower growth, there will still be a need to find housing and jobs for a couple hundred thousand more people in the next 20 years. The biggest gains over the past 10 years have been in the 45-64 year age range, from 24% to 28%. And with the 65+ population increasing, there will be a need for more support in terms of housing and services for seniors. School populations will also be affected as seniors move away or die, replaced with new families, more children and crowded classrooms.
In terms of unemployment, Montgomery County is doing fairly well, about 4%, comparable to Fairfax. But, most of the job growth has been in the low-to-mid level paying jobs-in health services, construction, leisure and hospitality. Wages in more than half of the forecasted jobs will be less than the median county wage, while jobs in professional, scientific and technology areas are expected to increase substantially.
Job growth and housing demands are connected. It is estimated that Montgomery County will need 83,829 new housing units by 2032 to accommodate new workers. Anderson reported that recent housing permit activity is approximately 3,500 housing units annually. Previously new housing grew more in outlying areas, but today it's higher in areas such as Silver Spring, White Flint and Bethesda. Estimated housing units needed is estimated at 4,200 per year. But new construction results in higher costs for both renters and owners.
Affordability is a continuing problem in Montgomery County, both for low- and moderate-income families. Low income housing must be heavily subsidized. Currently new construction must provide 12.5% of its units as moderately priced. Eligibility for these units is based on 68% of the area's average medium income level.
The percent of households spending at least 35% of their income on housing costs has gone up substantially, especially for renters-from 27% in 2000 to 41% in 2013. This is a disturbing statistic, Anderson said. Owners are in better shape, with 15% paying more than 35% of their income for housing.
There is a need now for 45,000 additional affordable homes; that number is expected to grow to 65,000 in the next 20 years. Currently, only 25% of units rent for $1250 or less; that needs to increase to 58% according to Goldman. Unfortunately there was a decrease of 16% in affordable housing units from 2000 to 2008, a loss of 18,000.
Montgomery Housing Partnership helps provide affordable housing options by acquiring and renovating old buildings-some in Silver Spring, Wheaton and Takoma Park. Currently approximately $22M is available from the county budget and bonds for this purpose. MHP also provides preschool and after-school programs for children as well as community centers stocked with computers. In addition, ESL and job readiness programs are offered for adult tenants.
The economic downturn adversely affected many county residents, with foreclosure peaks in 2009 and 2013. Townhouses and condominiums communities were hit the hardest, especially in areas such as Wheaton, Aspen Hill, Montgomery Village, Gaithersburg and Germantown.
Goldman outlined some possible solutions: acquiring and constructing additional affordable housing, preserving current affordable units (3,000 lost each year) and initiating the Purple Line. Also, incentives for building in commercialized residential zones might provide additional affordable housing.
Goldman invited participants to take a Building Dreams Tour to visit some of MHP's affordable housing units. If interested, contact Jose Gonzalez at: email@example.com or 240-994-4331.
The schedule is as follows:
- June 18: 8:30-9:30 a.m.; Greenwood Terrace; 8502 Greenwood Ave, Silver Spring
- July 1: 6:30-7:30 p.m.; Pembridge Square, 2315 Blueridge Ave., Wheaton
- July 16: 6:30-7:30 p.m.; 7610 Maple Ave., Takoma Park
According to Casey, Montgomery County was one of the early municipalities to implement the Moderate Price Unit program, and it is still seen as a model for the country. But, he said the inequalities in the county must be addressed.
WDC MEMBER HIGHLIGHT: WRITER PAUL SCHWARTZ
|Paul Schwartz at David Axelrod Dinner |
WDC would like to let our membership know that one of our new members, Paul Schwartz, has begun writing columns for the Montgomery County Sentinel. Paul's goal in writing his columns is to "expose hypocrisy in politics, and in life." Given the political topics Paul is addressing in his columns, WDC members will enjoy reading them. Paul is a retired management professional with thirty-seven years of Federal service.
The Montgomery County Sentinel may be read online at http://www.thesentinel.com/mont/.
Below are links to some of Paul's recent columns:
Conversation with David Axelrod http://t.co/9I4RAk4IIM
The Supreme Court and Healthcare http://t.co/cwvcgsi05V
Violence and Riots and Life Outside http://t.co/VXB1IQlAoX
It's Not Government "Buy" the People http://t.co/Cw1fiNYbZw
MCDCC to Fill Two Vacant Positions at June 9 Meeting
The MCDCC is requesting applications for two vacant MCDCC positions. They are:
* One representative from Legislative District 20. The applicant may be a male or female. They must be a registered Democrat, and must reside in Legislative District 20.
* One At-Large representative. The applicant may be a male or female and must be a registered Democrat and live in any Legislative District in Montgomery County.
Applications must include a cover letter and resume.
In the letter, state the position applied for and the Legislative District in which you live (for either the District 20 or At-Large position). In the resume, include your employment information and history of involvement in past political campaigns, volunteer history for the Democratic Party, membership in MCDCC-chartered Clubs and Caucuses or other clubs related to Democratic politics, and current and/or past positions in the MCDCC precinct firstname.lastname@example.org
The application deadline is Monday, June 8, 2015, at 5:00 pm.
You may mail the application to the MCDCC office at 3720 Farragut Ave. #303, Kensington, MD 20895 (it must be received by the deadline), email the application to email@example.com,
or drop off the application at the MCDCC office at the address above. The earlier you submit your application, the more time MCDCC members will have to review your application before the June 9 meeting.
Applicants will be given from 2-3 minutes to address the MCDCC at the June 9th meeting, which begins at 7:30 pm at the MCDCC office. We encourage you to attend in person so MCDCC members may ask questions after the formal addresses by applicants.
A confirmation email will be sent to you when the MCDCC receives your application.
by Beth Tomasello
The Woman's Democratic Club was saddened to learn of the deaths of two treasured members. Eva (Eve) Jacobs (94) passed away on April 28. An internationally recognized statistician, Eve was a long-time member of WDC and will be missed by so many among us. The Club extends its condolences to Eve's three children. Eve's full obituary may be found at
Robert (Bob) Henry (72), a finance executive, passed away on May 9. Bob and his wife, former WDC President, Dorothy Barthelmes, regularly attended WDC events, including Happy Hour, where Bob will be missed by the "regulars." The Club extends its condolences to Dorothy and to the Henry and Barthelmes families. Bob's full obituary may be found at
Note to Members: Please notify the Club President at firstname.lastname@example.org of any member who has passed away as we would like to include a remembrance of their life in the newsletter
JOIN OR RENEW NOW
Membership renewal forms will be sent out later in June. Please consider renewing early! Your membership dues pay for Club mailings; subsidize events, programming, and the annual New Member dinner; and support the important work of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and Democratic candidates with campaign contributionsw or join now.
SOCIAL MEDIA UPDATE - WE'RE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER!
Don't forget to like us on Facebook; we're listed as Woman's Democratic Club, Montgomery County.
WDC also has a Twitter account! Our Twitter handle is @WomenDems. Be sure to follow us!
POLITICAL BOOK CLUB
The club meets every other month on the third Wednesday - at 1 PM at different member's homes. For more information, contact Irma Kramer at email@example.com.
The books to be discussed for the July and September sessions follow:
July 15 - Grant by Jean Edward Smith
Brief Summary from Amazon books:
Ulysses S. Grant was the first four-star general in the history of the United States Army and the only president between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson to serve eight consecutive years in the White House. As general-in-chief, Grant revolutionized modern warfare. As president, he brought stability to the country after years of war and upheaval. Yet today Grant is remembered as a brilliant general but a failed president. In this comprehensive biography, Jean Edward Smith reconciles these conflicting assessments of Grant's life. He argues convincingly that Grant is greatly underrated as a president. Following the turmoil of Andrew Johnson's administration, Grant guided the nation through the post-Civil War era, overseeing Reconstruction in the South and enforcing the freedoms of new African-American citizens. His presidential accomplishments were as considerable as his military victories, says Smith, for the same strength of character that made him successful on the battlefield also characterized his years in the White House.
September 16 - Democracy in the Dark: The Seduction of Government Secrecy by FAO Schwartz
Brief summary [from Amazon books:
From Dick Cheney's man-sized safe to the National Security Agency's massive intelligence gathering, secrecy has too often captured the American government's modus operandi better than the ideals of the Constitution. In this important new book, Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr., who was chief counsel to the U.S. Church Committee on Intelligence-which uncovered the FBI's effort to push Martin Luther King to commit suicide; the CIA's enlistment of the Mafia to try to kill Fidel Castro; and the NSA's thirty-year program to get copies of all telegrams leaving the United States-uses examples ranging from the dropping of the first atomic bomb and the Cuban Missile Crisis to Iran Contra and 9/11 to illuminate this central question: how much secrecy does good governance require? Schwarz argues that while some control of information is necessary, governments tend to fall prey to a culture of secrecy that is ultimately not just hazardous to democracy but antithetical to it. This history provides the essential context to recent cases from Chelsea Manning to Edward Snowden.
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.
VOLUNTEERS: IT TAKES A VILLAGE
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 accomplish its goals. We especially need volunteers to help with new member recruitment as part of the Membership & Outreach Committee and we need volunteers on the Legislative Committee to help analyze and track important legislation.
We also need writers to prepare articles for our newsletter and photographers for our Facebook page and newsletter.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, our Education Committee is seeking ideas for future programs in the Montgomery 101 series; if you have issues or subjects about the county you would like to learn about or study, please email Lucy Freeman at email@example.com or call 301-654-8115
Keeping members better informed, better connected and more politically effective since 1957