Origins and purpose of some progressive advocacy groups

When presidential campaigns have done strong issue advocacy, they have often continued on after the campaigns themselves are over. Pick a few to get involved with now.

Rainbow Coalition
The granddaddy of them all, the Rainbow Coalition grew out of the 1984 Jesse Jackson presidential campaign, back when your only organizing tools were direct mail and making expensive long distance phone calls. In 1996, Jackson merged the coalition with Operation PUSH, the social justice coalition which he had founded in 1971.

Progressive Democrats of America
PDA grew our of the 2004 presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich. The organization endorses candidates as well as working on the main issues of healthcare as a human right, passing the Equal Rights Amendment, ending corporate rule, stopping climate change, election integrity, ending wars and occupations, stopping the Trans Pacific Partnership pro-corporate agenda, and general economic and social justice issues.

Democracy for America
DFA grew out of the 2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean–originally Dean For America. Howard has not actually been involved–the organization is run by his brother, Jim Dean.

Organizing for American/Organizing for Action
Originally known as Obama for America, Organizing for America, then Organizing for Action, (OFA) is a currently community organizing project of the Democratic National Committee. Initially founded after the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, OFA sought to mobilize supporters in favor of Obama’s legislative priorities, particularly health care reform. After 2010, it became the grassroots arm of Obama for America. After Obama’s second inauguration, it was reorganized again as Organizing for Action and returned to its previous mission of organizing around the President’s agenda. It has since turned into a hub of the Democratic protest movement.

Our Revolution
Our Revolution grew out of the 2016 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. It backs local candidates as well as doing issue organizing.

Sanders Institute
The Sanders Institute was founded by Jane O’Meara Sanders, and works on economic, environmental, racial, and social justice issues.

Onward together
Hillary Clinton co-founded the organization in May of 2017 with Howard Dean and is the CEO. In August 2017 they had hired Emmy Ruiz and Adam Parkhomenko as consultants. Both Ruiz and Parkhomenko were members of Clinton’s 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns. They don’t yet have an issues page.

In 2016, we have seen something new–organizations devoted to contesting local and congressional elections.

This group did not grow out of a campaign, but was founded by a group of former congressional staffers with the purpose of putting pressure in individual members of Congress to fight Trump’s agenda and advocate for progressive issues. There are thousands of local chapters.

Brand New Congress
Brand New Congress was originally started by a group of volunteers and staffers from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. The group is non-partisan, and will back Republicans who agree with its agenda, as well as Democrats and third party candidates.

Justice Democrats
Justice Democrats was created by Cenk Uygur, CEO of The Young Turks, Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk and Zack Exley and Saikat Chakrabarti. Zack and Saikat are former Bernie Sanders campaign staffers.
Justice Democrats all pledge to:
• Create a universal, Medicare-for-all health care system
• Raise the minimum wage to $15 / hour and tie it to inflation
• Make public colleges and trade schools free
• Call for a constitutional amendment to get rid of money in politics once and for all
• Take no corporate PAC money or corporate lobbyist money

Also, urge your progressive state legislators to get involved with State Innovation Exchange
SiX supports state legislators who seek to strengthen democracy, fight for working families, defend civil rights and liberties, and protect the environment. We do this through training, emphasizing leadership development, amplifying legislators’ voices, and forging strategic alliances between our legislative network and grassroots movements.

Resolution in Support of Accessible Community-Based Social Security Administration Service Delivery

WHEREAS record numbers of clients are visiting and calling Social Security Administration (SSA) offices to receive the services and benefits that they have earned over a lifetime of work, and facing record waiting times before finally having the chance to speak to an SSA employee trained to assist in navigating the agency’s complex programs; and

WHEREAS SSA has cut hours and is eliminating certain services at field offices in these times of greatest need, while aggressively steering the public to Internet self-disservice both inside and outside of those offices; and

WHEREAS identity thieves have had an easy time filing fraudulent Internet retirement applications that rob the Social Security trust funds, because there is no authentication of applicant identities; and

WHEREAS the monthly payments of an estimated 120,000 beneficiaries have so far been redirected to the bank accounts of thieves because MySSA is neither safe nor secure; and

WHEREAS SSA has closed over 70 field offices and 1500 contact stations in recent years, and placed many of the remaining offices in locations that are costly and difficult for elderly, disabled, and low-income clients to reach; and

WHEREAS SSA Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin now says she will consider additional office closures on a case-by-case-basis, following an 18-month moratorium on closures due to adverse public and Congressional reaction; and

WHEREAS SA claims to be responding to growing public demand for Internet self-service, but a November 2014 public policy polling survey revealed that only 11% to 13 % of respondents wanted to file for retirement benefits or for replacement Social Security Cards online rather than at a field office, with only 3% to 4% of those under 30 years of age wanting that option; and

WHEREAS over 1 million Americans, many of them veterans, are waiting for decisions on their disability benefit application appeals, many enduring years of delay from the date of filing to receive a final decision; and

WHEREAS austere administrative budgets and inadequate front-line staffing have crippled the
SSA’s ability to provide the prompt, equitable, accurate services that American workers have paid for and deserve, even though trust fund surpluses have grown to $2.8 trillion, and administration of the Social Security program consumes less than 1% of annual program income;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 34th Legislative Democrats ask that SSA office hours should first be restored and then expanded; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that closed offices be reopened, that offices with access problems be moved, and that the overall number of offices be expanded; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the SSA should take down the fraud-plagued Internet retirement application and MySSA systems until they can be made safe and secure; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that since most SSA administrative costs are reimbursed from trust funds that are in surplus, and because some of the surplus is desperately needed now to fund front-line staffing increases for much-needed service improvements, the SSA’s administrative accounts be taken off-budget in order to shield the accounts from sequestration cuts and other fiscal attacks; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 34th Legislative Democrats send copies of this resolution to our Congressional delegation and to the Seattle and national SSA offices.

Submitted to the 34th Legislative District Democrats meeting of January 13, 2016 by Martha Koester, Democratic PCO, Sylvan Precinct

Social Security: Why It's Not Broke & How We Can Expand It

When: Monday, February 23, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
What: Forum: “Social Security: Why It’s Not Broke & How We Can Expand It”
Speakers: Nancy Altman & Eric Kingson, authors of Social Security WORKS!: Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke & How Expanding It Will Help Us All
Joining them on the program: Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant & WA State Labor Council President, Jeff Johnson

Where: UFCW 21, Joe Crump Hall, 5030 First Ave. S., Seattle

Things have heated up in D.C. as the Republican controlled Congress has initiated their first major attack on Social Security. The featured speakers will provide us up-to-date information about the attacks and the best ways to respond.

Forum on Expanding Social Security in Seattle Monday 2/23

Nancy Altman will be one of the featured speakers in a forum on Monday, February 23, in Seattle entitled “Social Security – Why It’s Not Broke and How We Can Expand It”. Joining Ms. Altman on the program will be Seattle City Council member, Kshama Sawant, and Washington State Labor Council President, Jeff Johnson.

Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All, is the recently released book by Ms. Altman and her co-author, Eric Kingson. Ms. Altman has a thirty-five year background in the areas of Social Security and private pensions. She is co-director of Social Security Works and co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition and campaign. She previously authored The Battle for Social Security: From FDR’s Vision to Bush’s Gamble (John Wiley & Sons, 2005).

The Seattle forum is part of a campaign to expand the growing chorus of voices in Congress and elsewhere calling for the expansion of our Social Security system. We know that Social Security is not “going broke” and also does not add a penny to the national debt. We are fighting against the three-decade-long, billionaire-funded campaign to make us believe that Social Security is destined to collapse.

With the decline in defined benefit pensions and the total inadequacy of 401(ks), there is a looming retirement crisis that will affect more than two- thirds of today’s workers. Social Security is a powerful program that can help stop the collapse of the middle class, lessen the pressure squeezing families from all directions, and help end the upward redistribution of wealth that has resulted in perilous levels of inequality.

All Americans deserve to have dignified retirement years as well as an umbrella to protect them and their families in the event of disability or premature death. At stake are our values and the kind of country we want for ourselves and for those that follow. From the Silent Generation to Baby Boomers, from Generation X to Millennials and Generation Z, all of us have a stake in understanding the real story about Social Security.

Ms. Altman is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pension Rights Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of beneficiary rights. She is also on the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Social Insurance, a membership organization of over 800 of the nation’s leading experts on social insurance.

From 1983 to 1989, Ms. Altman was on the faculty of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and taught courses on private pensions and Social Security at the Harvard Law School. In 1982, she was Alan Greenspan’s assistant in his position as chairman of the bipartisan commission that developed the 1983 Social Security amendments.

Please plan to attend this exciting, movement-building forum on Monday, Feb. 23, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Joe Crump Hall, UFCW 21, 5030 First Avenue S., Seattle.

Oil Trains hearing in Olympia, Oct 30


Stand Up and Speak Out for Your Health and Safety!

Northwest communities are facing an onslaught of coal export and oil-by-rail proposals. If oil and coal companies are permitted to build their proposed facilities, they would turn our beloved region into a fossil fuel corridor.

With their hazardous coal dust and explosive fuel, these trains pose serious risks to our communities. These mile-long trains are an accident waiting to happen. Derailments happen frequently and all too often cause disastrous loss of life and property.

IT’S TIME TO SPEAK UP and demand protection for our families and our children’s future!

Save the date:

WHEN: October 30, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
WHERE: Red Lion Hotel – 2300 Evergreen Park Dr SW – Olympia, WA

In June, Governor Inslee funded a Department of Ecology study to assess the risks of oil transportation in Washington. The completed report is here: The recommendations are totally inadequate, with no mention of limiting oil trains on our railways nor stopping new oil terminal expansions. October 30, the public has a chance to comment. This is a critical opportunity to voice our concerns about the combined impact of oil and coal trains on our communities. We need to fill the aisles and tell our elected officials to stand up to big oil!

Help ensure that the study addresses the whole picture, such as risks and threats to rail communities, terminal communities, our economy, public safety, and our waterways like the Puget Sound, Grays Harbor, the Columbia River, and the Spokane River. Your participation can inform how the state will respond to this very important issue. Don’t miss this incredibly important opportunity to speak up. Join us!

Schedule for hearing:
5:00 pm doors open
5:15 pm pre-hearing rally, outside the Red Lion
6:00-9:00 pm public comment

NOTE: Bus transportation is being arranged for Whatcom/Skagit County, East King County, Seattle, Grays Harbor, and Vancouver/Longview. Car pools for all areas are also being organized. Details are in the RSVP link above.

Thank you for all you do for the environment,

Involved Democracy

Physicians for a National Health Program annual meeting, July 17 at UW

Physicians fora  National Health Program, 2014 Annual Public Meeting, Sat July 17, Kane Hall, UW

We’re all aware that U.S. healthcare outcomes are still lagging way behind those of other countries, even though we’re spending twice as much.

Several states are now grappling with making healthcare a human right – a public good, not-for-profit.

Here in WA State, a coalition of organizations has come together determined to get this done. A federal waiver allowing states to become healthcare innovators will be available in 2017.

Please join us for our Physicians for a National Health Program, Western Washington Chapter, annual public meeting. Hear Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant talk about organizing for social justice in the age of austerity. Another speaker will emphasize the clear advantages of single payer healthcare in Canada and internationally. We’ll also hear about how the campaign for healthcare as a human right in Maine and other states can inform our actions here. There will be plenty of time for Q&A.

Voting Against Proposition 1 Will Cost Drivers Money

According to the Argonne National Laboratory, idling uses 0.2-0.5 gallons/hr, depending on age and make of car. If Proposition 1 fails, count on a minimum of an extra 20,000 cars on the road per day. If you don’t want to pay an extra $40/year to keep those cars off the road, you are going to be paying anyway with higher gas bills, not to mention a lot more aggravation and engine wear and tear.

If you idle an extra 5 minutes a day during your commute, assuming 20 work days per month, you will spend an extra 20 hours per year idling, thus using an extra 4 to 10 galloss of gas a year. At today’s price for regular fuel of $3.65/gallon, that means you will be paying an extra $14.60 to $36.50 per year. Idle an extra 10 minutes a day and you pay $29.20-$73.00 per year

It looks to me like Proposition 1 is a bargain at $40/year, and that’s not counting the low income rebate which you get if you are a single parson earning less that $31K/year or a family earning less than $55K/year.


Geezernomics 101 and Proposition 1

Most seniors will be eligible for car fee rebates under Proposition 1. Dividing senior housholds into quintiles, the lowest quintile has incomes from $0 to $12,080, the second quintile incomes from $12,080 to $19,980, the middle quintile from $19,980 to $31,300, the second highest fifth from $31,300 to $55,890 and the top fifth over $55,890

You get a low income rebate if you are a single parson earning less that $31K/year or a family earning less than $55K/year. This means that 60% of single seniors and 80% of couples will be eligible for the rebate.

The data on household income is from Economic Status of the Elderly in the United States, by Virginia P. Reno and Benjamin Veghte

National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI)
1776 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 615
Washington, DC 20036 202-452-8097

Sick Around the World: film showing in Des Moines on Sat. Jan 25

Ideas for health care systems from around the world in the movie

Sick Around the World (60 min)

Saturday January 25th
Saltwater Unitarian Church
25701 14th Pl S
Des Moines, WA 98198

Health Care for all—WA will present information on the WA State single payer bill, the Washington Health Security Trust. Question and answer period to follow.
In Sick Around the World, FRONTLINE teams up with veteran Washington Post foreign correspondent T.R. Reid to find out how five other capitalist democracies — the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland — deliver health care, and what the United States might learn from their successes and their failures.

See the trailer at For more information contact Ruth Knagenhjelm at

From I-5 North (coming from Tacoma)
Exit I-5 at 272nd St
Turn left onto 272nd St at the end of the exit ramp.
Cross Pacific Highway S
Turn right on 16th Ave S
Turn left on 14th Pl S
The church is on the right side of the road at 25701 14th Pl S

From I-5 South (coming from Seattle)
Exit at Kent-Des Moines Road.
Turn right onto Kent-Des Moines Road at the end of the exit ramp.
Turn left on 16th Ave S
Turn right on 14th Pl S
The church is on the right side of the road at 25701 14th Pl S

Saltwater Church
A Unitarian Universalist Congregation
25701 14th Pl S
Des Moines, WA, 98198
(253) 839-5200

Does ballot counting “drag on” because we insist on all mail-in voting?

The election hasn’t even been certified yet, and already Rosenthal and the Seattle Times are calling for the disenfranchisement of Democrats, and (this year) of voters further left than Democrats.

Why the counting drags on long after King County voting is over

It’s like clockwork—after every election, someone is sure to publish the silly and false assertion that Oregon posts more complete results on election night because of the arrival versus postmark by Election Day policy.

In 2011 Multnomah County (Oregon’s largest), even with its more restrictive deadline and much smaller population, only 45 percent of ballots were returned by the Friday before the election—nearly the exact same percentage as King County. The Rosenthal article implies that things are worse this year. In fact, as of Friday 11/15, 175,406 ballots had been counted in Seattle . 82,368 of these (46%) were counted by 8pm on 11/5.

The typical 40-47% of votes reported by King County Elections on election night is almost always a large enough sample to accurately project the winner in all but a handful of the hundreds of contests countywide. If we insist on keeping all mail-in voting, there is no alternative to waiting a week to see how the closer contests will turn out because it is simply not possible to speed up the slow step of signature validation by very much. Clearing the backlog faster is of course possible, but only if we follow Oregon ‘s lead and pay elections workers for overtime and weekends. And then the promoters of disenfranchisement will predictably whine about paying more taxes to do that.

Even electronic signature validation doesn’t speed up the process that much, and Rosenthal neglects to mention that this method has specifically been rejected by King County Elections because they have tested it and found it too inaccurate. Advocates for the 1% will always prefer fewer eligible ballots counted faster and more sloppily. The 99% will always prefer maximum accuracy and voter enfranchisement.

Martha Koester

More on 2009 and 2011 from Goldy

The facts behind the ballot deadline debate (2009)

As can be seen, 452,522 ballots were received by election day, roughly 76% of the total number cast. Yet only 254,261 were counted by the end of the day… barely more than the total number of ballots in hand the Friday prior to the election.

The bulk of the remainder of the ballots cast arrived the next day, with 572,611 in hand at KCE, or over 96% of the total number cast. Yet only 308,650 of these were counted by the end of Wednesday.

There are several obvious lessons to learn from the data. The first is that KCE can’t keep pace with the ballots it is already receiving, thus any delay in reporting returns is due not to a lack of ballots, but rather a lack of capacity to process them. This is true in Oregon as well, which typically reports only 50% of total votes by the first ballot drop election night, not much better than King County , and generally somewhat worse than Washington state as a whole.

That said, even the 43% of total votes reported by KCE on election night was a large enough sample to accurately project the winner in all but a handful of the hundreds of contests countywide. Candidates and voters do know the winners on election night, at least in the vast majority of races.


Yes, it would be nice to get near complete results on election night the way most other states do, and they way we used to get here in Washington state before mail-in ballots started to dominate our voting, but this is the nature of mail-in elections. It takes time and resources to sort, process and verify signatures just in preparation for counting, and so we’ll never approach the sort of election night returns the likes of Reed, Gov. Gregoire and the Seattle Times editorial board apparently want. They sure don’t do it Oregon , even with their received by deadline.

Personally, I’d rather we get the count right, than fast. And I’m not sure I’m willing spend the extra money necessary to do both, let alone disenfranchise tens of thousands of late voters in the process.

Moving the ballot deadline will not speed up election returns (2010)

With a peak processing capacity of little more than 75,000 ballots a day, the 373,941 ballots King County tallied on Tuesday night barely exceeded the 349,670 ballots it had received as of the Friday before the election. Indeed, by the time the elections center opened its doors Monday morning, its staff had already fallen hopelessly behind. (And FYI, the same was true in 2009.)

So how would following the Oregon model speed things up? Well, on its own, it wouldn’t, and to understand why, we need merely look at the ballot return statistics for Oregon ’s largest county, Multnomah, where even with its more restrictive deadline, only 45 percent of ballots were returned by the Friday before the election… nearly the exact same percentage as King County . Both counties received more than half of their ballots over the final few days of the election, the only difference being that Multnomah’s election was one day shorter. (Far from being the long, drawn out process Reed implies, over 98% of valid Washington ballots are received by the day after the election.)

Well then, how does Multnomah County manage to report results so much faster? Simple: they put more resources into it. Multnomah County processes ballots over the weekend before the election, while King County does not. And while King County reports a single election night return a little after 8 PM, before heading home for the night, Multnomah County continues to process ballots overnight, issuing subsequent reports at 8 AM and throughout the next day. Of course, King could duplicate Multnomah’s efforts, but that would cost money.

Nov 9th in Seattle: How Market Ideology and Corporate Power Are Killing Americans

Obamacare and Single-Payer Universal Health Insurance: Nationally Recognized Physician to Speak Saturday, November 9 in Seattle. No Charge, All Are Welcome!

Dr. John Geyman, professor emeritus of family medicine at the University of Washington and author of “Health Care Wars: How Market Ideology and Corporate Power Are Killing Americans” (2012), will give the keynote address at the annual meeting of Health Care for All Washington: “Single-Payer in Washington State: Challenges and Approaches” –

When: Saturday, November 9 at 1:00PM
Where:  Plymouth Church in downtown Seattle,  across from the Seneca Street I-5 off-ramp at 1217 6th Ave Seattle, WA 98101. Free parking is available in the church’s garage, on University Street approached from Fifth Avenue. The Metro No. 2 bus runs on Seneca; many other bus routes run nearby.

Free and open to the public – refreshments provided.