JULY 2010

July 2010

Message from the Chair

Special Reports

FCDC Bids Farewell to Mike Burns

Electing Democrats from the Ground Up

Democrats Dine Out – Kilroy’s

National Issues and Reports

BP Oil Spill in Gulf was Preventable

8th Congressional District Report

FCDC Members Overwhelmingly Support Democracy Restoration Act

Local Issues and Reports

Hunter Mill Report

Dranesville Report

Mason Report

Fliers

Calendar

MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR

Rex Simmons, FCDC Chair

Want change?  How would it sound to have a House of Representatives committee chair who insists that President Obama should apologize to BP for a government “shakedown” when the President extracted a promise from BP executives that they would set up a trust fund to benefit the victims of its offshore drilling fiasco?  Or, how about a new U.S. Senator who criticizes the Fair Housing Act of 1968 or another who has problems with the Social Security Act of 1935?  Do you want a congressman from Fairfax County who wants to abolish the federal Department of Education?

That is not the kind of change most of us worked for in 2008 or any other year.  I doubt we want it now either.  But that is the change we will get if we do not get serious now about this year’s mid-term congressional elections.

I am calling on all FCDC members and area Democrats to get engaged with campaign volunteering immediately.  Either contact the campaigns of Gerry Connolly, Jim Moran, or Jeff Barnett or call FCDC headquarters at (703) 573-6811.  We will find a task that can fit your schedule and best abilities.  By helping to elect our congressional candidates right here in Fairfax County, you can help keep the keys of government from those who curry favor from corporate polluters and those who would shred the social safety net and public education.  Please act now.

Contacts:

Connolly for Congress

11200 Jermantown Road

Fairfax, Virginia 22030

Phone (703) 375-9374

www.GerryConnolly.com


Moran for Congress

311 N. Washington St.

Suite 200L

Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Phone (703) 299-0064

www.JimMoran.org

.

Barnett for Congress

344 Elden Street

Herndon, Virginia 20170

Phone (703) 657-2664

http://www.jeffbarnettforcongress.com


FCDC Headquarters

2815 Hartland Road, Suite 110

Falls Church, VA 22043

703-573-6811

www.FairfaxDemocrats.org

SPECIAL REPORTS

FCDC Bids Farewell to Mike Burns

Rex Simmons, FCDC Chair

Mike Burns has been FCDC’s first and only Executive Director.  He plans to leave his position in mid-August to attend law school at Catholic University in Washington.  Mike is going to be missed tremendously for his institutional knowledge, know-how, and strong relationships with Democrats throughout Northern Virginia.

FCDC has advanced far since Mike became its first Executive Director in 2008.  That year was an important year for Virginia Democrats as Barack Obama became the first Democrat in 44 years to win our state’s presidential vote.  Fairfax County played a key role in that win, and Mike was at the center of the election fight.  From money raised to the email lists compiled to the accumulation of office equipment, FCDC achieved far more than ever before in large part to Mike’s efforts.

“Mike’s stewardship of FCDC during the maiden voyage of this position has gone great lengths to both professionalize FCDC and set the standard for what city and county committees can do with enough time, energy, and perseverance,” stated Delegate Scott Surovell who was FCDC chair when Mike was hired.

Regional Vice-chair Barbara Caputo gushes in her praise and notes, “Mike has been the life blood of the committee for the past 2 years.  He has an amazing capacity for staying on top of every aspect of our operation.”

There are many initiatives that Mike has helped create and manage.  One that stands out is his leadership on the intern program.  Throughout the year, and especially during the summer, FCDC recruits student interns who volunteer their time in return for experience in helping our Democratic organization.  Mike advertises the program, selects interns, trains them to carry out many different tasks, and keeps their morale pumped up.  He is training tomorrow’s leaders.  And there have been dozens under his tutelage since he became the Executive Director.

Another important initiative is the accumulation of an equipment inventory of computers, furniture, phones, and supplies that helps new candidates get a head start in their campaigns.  Mike has devised a system of inventory with a checkout much like a library manages books.  This has put to good use leftovers from the 2008 presidential campaign and the 2009 gubernatorial campaigns and gives Democrats running for other offices a big advantage.

Particularly noteworthy has been the addition of upgraded computer equipment and software that is used by volunteers and interns in FCDC’s headquarters office in Falls Church.  An important part of this effort was the transition to the NGP software that is used to account for FCDC funds and put together the legally required state and federal reports.  Immediate past FCDC chair and current Vice-chair for Finance, Mary Ann Hovis recalls, “The conversion to NGP software was a big task well done and I don’t know where we would have been on that without Mike.”

Hunter Mill co-chair, Bob Haley says, “Speaking for District Chairs, Mike has been very helpful in keeping us informed and assisting us in our district projects and events.”

FCDC has begun a nationwide search for a suitable replacement, but it is clear that Mike Burn’s shoes are large ones to fill.  We wish him all the success that he deserves in his new pursuits.  An announcement will be made about a farewell event in his honor in the near future.

Electing Democrats, from the Ground Up

Glenda C. Booth, Precinct Chair

Hollin Hall Precinct, Mount Vernon District

This is the first of several articles on basic precinct work, how Democrats working in their precincts at the grassroots level can help fulfill our fundamental mission to elect Democrats.

Know Your Precinct; Find Democrats

Learn the “Lay of the Land”

Every precinct is different.  Precinct workers should try to know every nook and cranny, every street and stream in their precinct.  You should become the “political encyclopedia” of your precinct.

To get a map of your precinct, go here:  http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/eb/precincts.htm.

Find out where people live, whether your precinct has single-family homes, townhouses, apartment buildings, nursing homes, long-term care facilities or mobile homes. This county site provides real estate assessment information (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dta/).   This county site has assessed values and physical characteristics for all residential and commercial properties in the county:  http://icare.fairfaxcounty.gov/Main/Home.aspx.  Realtor sites can be helpful too.  The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors has sales and market data at http://nvar.com/MarketStatistics/tabid/224/Default.aspx.

Learn where the youngsters of your precinct go to school by visiting the county’s public schools website here:  http://www.fcps.edu/index.shtml.  Identify the other places where people gather such as churches, grocery stores, shopping centers, post offices, recreation centers, parks, sports fields, nature trails, libraries, senior centers and child care centers. The county’s website called “My Neighborhood,” (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/gisapps/myneighborhood/) is an internet mapping service that provides information on parks, schools, county and other facilities.

Know the Voting History

To get a registered voter list for your precinct, contact your FCDC district chair.  It is also helpful to learn about the party’s records and a system called the Voter Activation Network or VAN.  The VAN is directly linked to the official registered voters list and allows authorized people to access voting histories, volunteer records, party identification and more.

Learn how your precinct has voted in recent years – total turnout each year and how many people voted for each candidate.  The Virginia State Board of Elections website has election results by precinct.  For example, to see how your precinct voted in the 2009 special election for chair of the county Board of Supervisors, go here https://www.voterinfo.sbe.virginia.gov/election/DATA/2009/E5840E20-437A-4984-97FC-80CD5B55C1B1/Unofficial/00_059_s.shtm and click on “Votes by Precinct.”

Know Your Voters

From your registered voter list, you can learn what FCDC knows about the party preference of some voters, but for many voters, the party preference is unknown.  Give yourself an assignment — identify the unknowns.  Remember:  Your primary task is to find and turn out Democrats.

There’s no better way to get to know your precinct than to walk the streets.  You don’t have to conduct a formal political poll to get to know your voters.  Have friendly conversations.  Wearing a t-shirt or other Democratic or candidate insignia will often generate a conversation and “uncover” Democrats.

Here are some other ways to find Democrats:

  • Talk to neighbors.  Learn who is moving in and out. Keep track of home sales. Reach out to your new neighbors. Invite them to Democratic events.
  • Get involved in your civic association.  Identify community leaders.
  • Attend community and school meetings and reach out to people.
  • Read the local newspapers and newsletters.
  • Talk politics, if it is comfortable.  As you meet people, bring up current events.
  • Take public transit. Get to know your fellow riders.
  • Take your children to the bus stop and get to know other parents.
  • Ask our elected officials and candidates if they know Democrats in your precinct.  Find out if anyone from your precinct has helped in their campaigns.
  • Put Democratic candidates’ bumper stickers on your car.

July, the Democrats’ To-Do List:  Visit your college-bound students ASAP to make sure they are registered to vote and if not, get them registered.  Give them an absentee ballot application and stamped envelope addressed to the County Elections Board.  Get their e-mail and USPS addresses so you can remind them in the fall to vote well before November 2.  For absentee voting information, visit the county’s elections website, http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/eb/absentee.htm.

Democrats Dine Out – Kilroy’s

Mary Ann Hovis, Vice-Chair Finance

The Fairfax County Democratic Committee will be dining out together at restaurants around the county. Restaurant owners are willing to share part of their increased proceeds with us for boosting business at their establishments.  The restaurant gains exposure and future business, while we enjoy a good meal and raise much needed funds. Our first stop will be Kilroy’s, 5250 Port Royal Road, Springfield, on Thursday, July 22. Kilroys has agreed to donate back to FCDC a portion of your total bill.

Come and join us on the night we Dine Out together, order off the menu, and pay regular prices for your food and drink. You also share the dining room with other Democrats you know on the Committee, and special efforts will be made to assure attendance by available elected officials.  This will be an opportunity for Democratic fellowship at locations new to many of us, local favorites to others. Please print and bring the coupon below to the restaurant so that FCDC can be credited.

We are excited about the prospect of moving this Dine Out around to all reaches of the county, and to turn out large groups on the nights we get together for dinner.  This kind of event will simultaneously be an opportunity to socialize with Democrats, raise funds for FCDC, and limit the cost to an amount many already spend at restaurants.  Print out the coupon below and bring it with you so FCDC gets credit for your bill.  Thanks.

NATIONAL ISSUES AND REPORTS

BP Oil Spill in Gulf was Preventable

Congressman Gerry Connolly

While the BP oil spill continues to spew tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, it is important to recognize that this spill could have been minimized or even prevented.  As the best minds in the oil industry, academia, and the federal government search for ways to stop the worst environmental catastrophe in our nation’s history, we must look at the factors which allowed it to happen and then make sure it can never happen again.

In 1969, after an oil well spilled more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil onto the California coast near Santa Barbara and the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire, Congress passed a law, known as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), requiring that environmental impact statements and assessments be conducted on projects that had the potential to create environmental damage.

The law was designed to prevent private companies, as well as government entities, from cutting corners, which could create serious environmental consequences on federal lands, including the Outer Continental Shelf off our coast.

Unfortunately, in 2005 the Bush administration and the Republican Congress passed legislation creating loopholes in the law that allowed “categorical exclusions” for projects with minimal risk to the environment and required the Secretary of the Interior to approve oil and gas exploration plans on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) within 30 days of their submission to the federal government.

It was this “categorical exclusion” provision granted by the U.S. Minerals Management Service that allowed BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf to begin oil exploration without any analysis or assessments of the potential environmental impacts required by NEPA under the premise that the rig could never leak more than 4,600 barrels of oil into the Gulf.  That clearly was a false assumption.

To date, somewhere between 20 million and 70 million barrels of oil have spilled into the Gulf, closing America’s largest fishery, jeopardizing tourism, and wreaking havoc with the region’s entire economy. Already the BP spill covers an area of the Gulf equal to the size of the state of Kansas or, to put it another way, it would cover a land area stretching from Northern Virginia to New York City.

Consider that the Rail to Dulles project, a public project right here in Northern Virginia, had to go through an extensive and thorough two-year environmental review before a single shovel of dirt could be turned to begin construction.  Yet BP’s privately owned oil rig in the Gulf was exempted from the same process, even though there was a strong potential for catastrophic environmental consequences.

In Canada, deepwater drilling rigs are required to have contingency plans for offshore drilling, including the capability to drill relief wells soon after the primary wells are constructed.  If BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig had predrilled such relief wells, it would have enabled the closing off of the leak weeks ago, but, thanks to the loopholes in U.S. regulations, they weren’t required to do so.

That is all going to change if I succeed with legislation I have introduced to repeal the Bush-era loopholes that allowed BP to begin oil exploration on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf without any analysis of the potential environmental impacts.  My bill, H.R. 5506, will mandate a full environmental review of every aspect of all offshore drilling activity off the U.S. coast.

The bill I introduced, known as the Oil Pollution Environmental Review Act, would repeal the legislation passed in 2005 that relaxed environmental impact regulations on Big Oil.  It would also end the provision requiring the Secretary of the Interior to approve oil and gas exploration plans within 30 days, and mandate that all exploration plans, development production plans, and lease sales on the OCS be subject to detailed and thorough environmental analysis.

We have seen the consequences of lax regulation.  It is a disaster of epic proportions and like the rest of the nation, I pray that the leak, located a mile below the sea, can and will be capped soon.  If I am successful with my legislation in Congress, never again will Big Oil have the opportunity or the ability to circumvent strict and necessary environmental reviews.

You can sign up to co-sponsor Cong. Connolly’s bill by clicking here, or after watching the video below.

8th Congressional District Report

Pixie Bell, 8th CD First Vice Chair

June 12 was very exciting at the State Central Committee meeting held in Charlottesville.  The election of Vice Chair for Finance, Jon Bowerbank, was unanimous.  Gaylene Kanoyton won the contested election of Vice Chair for Organization.  Susan Mariner moved to make the election unanimous. Del. Jennifer McClellan stepped down as Vice Chair for Organization at the previous meeting, as did former Finance Vice Chair, Jim Turpin.  Dan Steen, 8th CD member and Chairman of the Jim Moran Campaign Committee, won the Arlington Mary Marshall Award at the Arlington J.J. dinner on 6/11/10.

The next Steering and State Central Committee meetings will be held at the Fredericksburg Expo Center on September 11 and 12.  Don’t forget the Lee Luau on July 24, from 6 – 10 PM, being held at Susie’s, 6229 Edison Dr., off Franconia Rd. You may purchase the tickets at http://tinyurl.com/LeeDemsLuau.

The new Moran for Congress Field Director is Atima Omara-Alwala.  She can be reached at (703) 299-0064 or atima@moranforcongress.org.  The following are the campaign leaders for each jurisdiction: Falls Church: Mike Gardner and Peg Willingham; Fairfax North: Seldon Kruger and Stuart Patz; Fairfax South: Chair, Del. Mark Sickles, CO – Chair, Todd Smyth. Alexandria: Susan Kellom, Chair and Kenya Turner, co-chair.  Arlington: Peter Rousselot, Chair and Terron Sims, Deputy Chair.  If you need additional information, contact (703) 299-0064.  Mary Moran is the campaign manager.

Did you hear about “Introducing Jim Moran on Demand?”  This is a new method of constituent outreach accessed through the On Demand function on your remote control.  This is a partnership between iConstituent, and local cable providers, Comcast, Cos and Via Media.  You can see a sample on Congressman Moran’s You Tube channel.

As you know, Jim has a long history of fighting for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  He recently spearheaded a drive to show Americans the human face of the failed policy by highlighting discharge data showing the specialties and years of service provided by service members kicked out by the military.

Moran also spearheaded a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that will strengthen oversight of armed security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also eliminate a tax loophole that has been used by defense contracting firm Blackwater, now known as “Xe,” by classifying workers there as “independent contractors” rather than employees.  It appears to have allowed the company to avoid tens of millions in employment-related taxes, and to underbid other competitors that abide by U.S. labor and tax codes.  Jim is the senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

The 8th CD meetings are usually held on the third Monday of the month at the Falls Church Community Center at 8PM, however the July meeting is canceled.

FCDC Members Overwhelmingly Support Democracy Restoration Act

A Commentary by The National Affairs Standing Committee (NAC)

(Co-Chairs Sandra J Klassen and Dan Walsch)

At FCDC’s general membership meeting on May 25, 2010, those present voted overwhelmingly to support a Resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to pass the Democracy Restoration Act (“DRA”).  The DRA (S. 1516 and H.R. 3335), sponsored by, among others, Congressmen Jim Moran and Bobby Scott of Virginia, would restore automatically the right to vote in federal elections to all ex-felons who have served their prison terms, regardless of state law to the contrary.  The FCDC Resolution (the “DRA Resolution”) was proposed jointly by the National Affairs, Voter Registration and Election Law and Voter Protection Committees of FCDC.

The issue of voting rights for ex-offenders is particularly important to Virginians, over 300,000 of whom are barred from exercising the right to vote because of past felony convictions for which they have served their time.  Virginia and Kentucky are the only states that permanently revoke a person’s right to vote at the time of a felony conviction, with restoration of that right available only by personal petition to the Governor.  As the DRA Resolution explains, this provision of the Virginia Constitution “is a relic of the Jim Crow era, enforced along with the poll tax and literacy tests explicitly to disenfranchise African-American males, one in five of whom cannot vote today in Virginia due to this injustice.”

The Virginia Constitution leaves the Governor great latitude and discretion in voter restoration cases, and the result has been an ever-changing process that is cumbersome and opaque from the petitioner’s perspective.  There are no published criteria for restoration, no record of deliberations and no appeal.  The petitioner fills out the considerable paperwork and waits for a one-page letter from the Governor’s office that simply approves or denies without reason.

Governor McDonnell has recently publicized his new voter restoration process, including a suggestion that petitioners write a letter describing their activities in the community since release from prison.  The Governor’s office describes this letter as an “opportunity,” but without a clear statement as to the role the letter – or its absence – would play in the decision-making process, petitioners would be unwise not to include it.  Thus, Governor McDonnell has introduced a de facto literacy test back into the voter registration process for hundreds of thousands of Virginians.

Every state other than Virginia and Kentucky (and Maine and Vermont, which never deny the right to vote on the basis of criminal conviction) automatically restores the right to vote at some point in the process from conviction to completion of parole and probation.  Fourteen states employ what the DRA is proposing: automatic restoration upon release from prison.  This approach has the advantage of simplicity.  While it can be difficult to keep track of where ex-offenders are in their parole and probation process, there is no doubt about the date upon which a person walks out of jail.

Restoration of voting rights upon release from prison also serves the goal of supporting an ex-offender’s reentry into productive citizenship.  As the DRA Resolution points out, “[A]llowing people to vote after release from prison encourages participation in civic life and instills a sense of community that motivates law-abiding behavior.”

Absent a constitutional amendment or a return to Democratic control of the House of Delegates, Virginia’s disenfranchised thousands have little hope that state law will change in their favor.  If the DRA becomes law, at least their voices will be heard in federal elections and they can begin to feel like full American citizens again.

The FCDC DRA Resolution concludes: “FCDC urges all members of the Virginia delegation to the U.S. Congress to co-sponsor and vote for the Democracy Restoration Act to restore the right to vote in Federal elections for all felons upon release from prison.”

LOCAL ISSUES AND REPORTS

Hunter Mill Report

Bettina Lawton and Robert Haley, Hunter Mill Co-Chairs

The Hunter Mill Democratic Committee holds its meetings on the third Thursday, 7:30PM, every month, alternating between locations in Reston and Vienna. Upcoming events in which the Hunter Mill committee participates include the Vienna July 4th Celebration, the July 10th/11th Reston Festival, and the July 24th Hunter Mill Picnic. Please contact Bettina Lawton (bettinalawton@cox.net) to volunteer for the Vienna July 4th Hunter Mill booth.  Please contact Ed Hahn (ehahnus@gmail.com), point of contact and chair, to help with Reston Festival Hunter Mill Democratic booth, and Ed Robichaud (edrobichaud@gmail.com), chair of the annual Hunter Mill picnic, to volunteer and help.

On Thursday July 15th, the Hunter Mill meeting will be held at Dogwood Elementary in Reston.  Please refer to the Hunter Mill web site calendar at www.huntermilldemocrats.org for other local area political events, and to the FCDC web site calendar at www.fairfaxdemocrats.org for Fairfax County wide events.

Dranesville Report

Ron Bleeker, Dranesville Chair

The DDDC held a well-attended June meeting and social at the home of Ron and Nancy Bleeker in McLean on June 13. Attendees included Supervisor John Foust; Dan and Karen DuVal, our Volunteers of the Year; and Aggie Wolf, our Member of the Year and winner of FCDC’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Our special guest and speaker was State Senator Janet Howell.

Mason Report

Rachel Rifkind, Mason Chair

The Mason District Committee met on June 23 at the Mason District Government Center. Among the items on the agenda were presentations of Mason Volunteer of the Year Award to Kim Smith and Mason Community Volunteer of the Year Award  to Karen Bopp. Kim and Karen could not attend the JJ in May where these presentations were to originally be made. Congratulations to Kim and Karen on their receipt of these awards and thanks for all of their hard work!

James Walkinshaw attended and gave a report on the Connolly campaign. He introduced Brian Ponton as Congressman Connolly’s Campaign Field Director. In his comments Brian asked us to get in touch with him at brian.ponton@gmail.com if we have any ideas for the campaign or want to get involved with Gerry’s campaign.

Although not at the meeting, Atima Omara-Alwala is the Field Director for the Jim Moran Campaign. She can be reached at (703) 299-0064 or atima@moranforcongress.org to get involved with Jim’s campaign.

The 43rd Annual MDDC Crab Feast is right around the corner. We decided at the last meeting to not print physical tickets; however we still need each committee member (yes that’s you!) to sell your 10 tickets (please keep track of ticket sales and turn your checks in to FCDC or Rachel as soon as you get themchecks need to be deposited within 10 days of your receipt of them); ticket prices have gone up; please refer to the MDDC website for prices and encourage purchase on line at www.masondems.org.  The Crab Feast is our big event leading to the election and we will need all of you and more to make this a big financial success. So please sell your tickets and volunteer with Judy White (703-354-7053 or jbw7210@yahoo.com). As we did last year we will have a google doc volunteer list; go there and sign up.

FCDC meets on July 27 at 7:30pm at Oakton High School at 2900 Sutton Road, Vienna. Mason will caucus prior to the meeting at 7:15pm

Fliers

Calendar

ABOUT THE DEMOCRAT

The Democrat is a monthly email publication of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee.  The purpose of The Democrat is to provide information to Committee members and other interested persons through district and committee reports, campaign reports, articles, and fliers.  Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the FCDC unless specifically approved by an appropriate committee resolution.

How to submit material

Generally material submitted to The Democrat should be limited to 300 words unless exceptions are made by the Editor or FCDC Chair.  Please email material to mike.burns@fairfaxdemocrats.org.  Attach text file or photos, or copy the material into the email message.  Deadline for submission is the third Monday of each month by 5:00 pm for inclusion in the following month’s issue.

One-page fliers advertising Democratic fundraisers and events will be included with The Democrat if submitted by the deadline.  Limited numbers of The Democrat are mailed, primarily to those who do not have access to email.  FCDC charges $35 for each flier from non-FCDC organizations.

Contact FCDC Executive Director Mike Burns at mike.burns@fairfaxdemocrats.org with any questions about how to submit material or fliers.