Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Join Other Progressives and Tell John Kerry Your Opinion on the War in Afghanistan

From Progressive Democrats of America...

As you may know in 10 days we gathered over 25,000 signatures in a letter to the Senate Democratic Caucus, which we delivered to Senator Kerry. In addition we delivered 54 packets containing the letter to the Senate Democratic Caucus. Sen. Kerry then responded to us. His response is here: Sen. Kerry's office has been monitoring the comments on our blog containing his response to us about our letter to the Senate Democratic Caucus. In addition we are receiving press queries about it.

I'm writing to you today to ask you to read the comments and to make a comment yourself. This is a delicate operation though.

While we agree with Barbara Lee that this initial drawdown should have been 50, 000 troops by the end of this year, we are happy that Obama did not follow the advice of his generals to remove just 5000 troops. We didn't get everything we wanted, but we did reverse the direction of our military strategy there. It's important to remember that this is no small victory. See Tom Hayden's post:

We also should recognize that we are in conversation with a very powerful member of the Senate. For maximum impact and in order to continue to build on this opening, which is important for future efforts, the tone of your comment is very important. Respectful comments are needed—we can respectfully disagree and show support for his willingness to address us directly, while urging Kerry to step it up:

Support Lee's amendment in the Senate debate on defense authorization by calling for 50,000 troops in the initial drawdown. If we bring home 97,00 troops by the end of 2012, we'll save 100 billion a year and still have a strong military presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan: 50,000 from Afghanistan for a $50 B savings, withdraw 47.000 from Iraq, saving another $50 b a year

Sponsor a new Baker-Hamilton-style “Afghanistan Study Group” which includes public hearings to inform the work. We need to hear all the facts, and any strategy should include what the American people want.

Speak clearly to dispel the myth that our national security is at risk if we leave Afghanistan, when the reverse is actually true. Our military intervention in muslim countries is creating the risk.

We've got a toe-hold here, and we need to get our foot in the door. Some comments on the blog have been excellent while other are rather mean-spirited. We want to get our points across without alienating his office. We want to show we can be partners in ending the war, and not cry-babies when we don't get exactly what we want. Can you help in this effort by making a comment today?

Deficit Town Hall: Help PDA Spread the Word about the People's Budget!

Representative Gabrielle Giffords' Office is sponsoring a Deficit Town Hall on June 30, 2011 in Tucson. (See the announcement below.) The event has been billed as an interactive learning event where attendees will be allowed to voice their opinions about deficit reduction.

Progressive Democrats of America want the People's Budget to be part of that discussion. Please come to the town hall and help PDA Tucson raise awareness of the basic principles of the People's Budget. The budget can't be balanced only by cutting social programs that help poor and middle class Americans. In the People's Budget, progressives are fighting for a balanced budget that cuts in military spending, provides universal healthcare, eliminates tax cuts for the wealthy, and much more. Check this link to the Connect the Dots presentation on the People's Budget for more information.

Please attend this important event and help PDA spread the word about the progressive agenda!

University Of Arizona Memorial Student Union
North Ballroom, 1303 E. UNIVERSITY BLVD.
Tucson, AZ

6:30- 8:30 p.m.

Created By
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
More Info


Presentation and discussion with leading experts on national budget policy

You make the cuts * You make the budget

The Office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Concord Coalition, the University of Arizona, and the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce invite you to attend an interactive town hall event about our nation’s deficit.

The town hall will feature the Concord Coalition’s Fiscal Solutions Tour, which includes an overview of the federal budget, national debt and our nation’s other major fiscal challenges. Leading the discussion will be two of our nation’s most respected voices of budget issues: the Honorable David Walker and Robert Bixby. They also will discuss options for closing our budget deficit and restoring fiscal sanity to Washington.

Additionally, the town hall will feature an interactive activity giving you and your fellow attendees the opportunity to try to balance the federal budget yourselves. By considering issues such as federal spending priorities, tax policy and entitlement reform, you will gain firsthand experience addressing the difficult issues facing policymakers in today's fiscal environment.

The Fiscal Solutions Tour will include presentations by respected voices on budget issues:
•The Honorable David Walker -- founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative and former Comptroller General of the United States
•Robert Bixby -- Executive Director of the Concord Coalition and member of the bipartisan Domenici-Rivlin Debt Reduction Task Force.

To RSVP, please email or call 520-881-3588.

Here's a link to the facebook page for this event.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Economic and Social Justice IOT Aug. 6th Meeting

Our Next Economic and Justice IOT Meeting
Saturday, August 6, 2011
10:30 - 12:30 AM
Ward 1 City Council Offices
1940 W. Alameda
Please Join Us!

Minutes for June 24, 2011 Meeting

Our kick-off began with 7 members present:  Richard Brodesky, Marty Diamond, Betty Fridena, Richard Fridena, Chuck Gould, Jim Hannley, Jane Kroesen, and Phil Lopes.

Richard began the meeting with introductions and a go-round about what we want and what we do not want from this IOT. 

Phil then gave an overview of the Progressive Democrats of America, the Arizona perspective, and what is happening in our Tucson chapter.  He then answered questions.  He also stressed our need and desire to work with other organizations. 

We realized that our IOT is absolutely essential.  Richard Fridena noted that our area is like the thread on an article of clothing which our mothers said should not be pulled because it will unravel the entire garment.  Chuck Gould said we should keep a local focus.  Marty Diamond asked many key questions, and Jane Krosen stressed the need to discuss strategies as well as outcomes.  Jim Hannley summarized his experience as a neighborhood leader and told how it is possible to make an impact. 

The goup realized that it can draft a letter and send it through Tucson PDA, attend governemnt meetings, hold rallies as well as edeucate the public. 

We decided that we need to start an internal conversation, and we instructed Richard Brodesky to distribute our email addresses to each other. 

Richard reviewed the material given above in this blog and stressed the importance of the Resources section as well as our capoability of participating in the monthly PDA conference calls. 

Richard announcedd that the Energy IOT will be hosting a conference in the fall and that our memebrs are welcome to help. 

We will be meeting next on Saturday, August 6th.  Richard is working on finding a meeting place and time.  He will announce the arrangements as soon as posssible via this blog and email. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Clean Elections IOT Update

For the past several months the focus has been on the Arizona redistricting process.  We held two seminars to assist individuals in creating their own redistricting maps for the legislative and Congressional districts.  These when completed could be submitted to the site for possible inclusion to the 5 member Commission which will decide the new lines.  Their decision in turn goes to the U.S. Dept. of Justice for approval.  One new Congressional district needs to be created (the 9th) which makes for an interesting and challenging exercise.  We will work with Ken Clark, who is co-chair of the Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition directing the citizen input,  and follow his advice regarding how we can monitor and/or help insure that the best maps are considered.   Stay tuned.

A second effort is a lawsuit filed to eliminate the ballot measure SR 1025 which will otherwise appear next year and, if passed, would essentially kill the Clean Elections we now have in effect in Arizona and the city of Tucson.  If the suit is not successful, then there will have to be a major effort to either offer an alternative or defeat SR 1025.  You can access for further information.

Yet a third item is that the U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding the legality of the matching funds as defined in the Arizona Clean Elections law.  This came about by a lawsuit filed to challenge that provision.  Given the makeup of the court, it is assumed that they will find matching funds illegal and therefore a substitute proposal to circumvent that problem is already on the back burner. Access the above site for updates.

Finally, the Fair Elections Now bill has once again been submitted by Sen. Durbin at the federal level.  Passage of this bill would mitigate markedly the impact of the river of money going into the pockets of the politicians and distorting the democratic process.  Passage, of course, would be very difficult in that those in power like it the way it is, even if a Congressperson has to raise $1.000 a day for 2 years and a Senator $4,000 daily for 6.  The estimate is that 1/3 or their time is spent on fund-raising; what a way to run a democracy.......crazy. 

Rick Graap, chair, Tucson PDA Clean Elections IOT

Friday, June 17, 2011


Next Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 2 p.m. the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) – 1110 W. Washington St. – Phoenix -will be holding a public hearing to seek repeal of the Clean Cars Program.  With areas of our state not meeting air quality standards and other areas likely to cross that threshold soon, we need to be implementing, not repealing, every possible improvement to protect our air and our health.

The Clean Cars Program, which as you are likely aware, limits health damaging pollution from automobiles.  The Program is known to pave the way for the widespread introduction of technologies like hybrid-electric and fuel-cell vehicles, direct-injection engines, advanced transmissions, improved air conditioning systems, and other technologies with the potential to reduce pollution. 

Cleaner cars not only reduce air pollution and decrease adverse public health impacts such as asthma attacks, but they save consumers money at the pump, which is particularly important as gas prices continue to fluctuate. 

Recently, in the American Lung Association of Arizona’s State of the Air report, Gila, Maricopa, Pinal, and Yuma Counties all received an “F” for ozone pollution.  Ozone is one of the most harmful byproducts of automobile emissions and puts people at risk for premature death, coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks, decreased lung function, respiratory infection, lung inflammation and worsened lung diseases. 

Clearly, Arizona needs to do everything we reasonably can to reduce automobile emissions.  Under ADEQ’s leadership, Arizona and 13 other states -- over a third of the U.S. market – adopted the Clean Cars Program which helped lead to national policy.  Now, Governor Brewer and ADEQ argue that federal policy is only incrementally weaker than the policy Arizona adopted and we should follow the federal government on this one. 

Even with other measures and federal policy in place, it is necessary to pursue the Clean Cars Program in Arizona to reduce health-damaging pollution in our State.  In fact, Arizona should be moving towards the next round of Clean Car Standards which will provide even more significant air quality and public health protections.

Arizona should implement, not repeal, the Clean Cars Program.
Information provided by:
Diane E. Brown, Executive Director
Arizona PIRG (Arizona Public Interest Research Group)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Will you cry for me, John Boehner?

Healthcare reform activists-- including PDA's Southern Arizona Field Organizer Alison McLeod-- visited US Speaker of the House John Boehner's office in Washington, DC to make him cry for the uninsured and underinsured. Here is McLeod's report and video.

Katie Robbins of Healthcare-Now collected hundreds of testimonials from people who have suffered under the present profit –driven system - and will suffer more if Medicare and Medicaid are further defunded and privatized. These stories made us cry, and since John Boehner has a tendency for weepiness, we each came armed with a box of Kleenex. Boehner wasn’t there, and his aide called the security guards, so we had to read the testimonials in the hall.
But we left behind the stories – and the Kleenex.

Keep up the fight for universal healthcare!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Goals and Work Plan for the Global Warming and Environment IOT in Tucson

The PDA IOT on Global Warming and the Environment in Tucson, Arizona seeks to educate, advocate politically and for the environment and work with others within a coalition of organizations in our community to pursue the goals of addressing climate change and assaults on our environment.  These are our working objectives and specific areas of emphasis.   Please consider joining our team and choose the areas of work that you might be most interested in pursuing.  It takes our village to make the changesMeanwhile, check out this excellent 5 minute video on the cause of our problems!

1. Develop internal IOT Group education  
   A. Guest speaker on Arizona Corporation Commission's work and issues
   B. Tour of Tucson's coal burning electric power plant
   C. Provide materials on coal, clean air, nuclear power, solar energy and global warming
   D. Offer guest speaker on GW in the SW from UA for General PDA meeting
   E. Offer film series on GW and environmental, energy issues

2. Offer community and school education
   A. Identify materials and projects already in the community and collaborate
   B. Develop educational new tools on energy problems and solutions
   C. Organize volunteer corps of educators on GW and Energy concerns
   D. Prepare "Connect the Dots" presentation on Hidden Costs of Energy

3. Support Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
   A. Participate in City of Tucson's CC Committee as members or observers
   B. Advocate for adoption of the CC Plan for City of Tucson by City Council
   C. Offer education and outreach about the CC Plan

4. Support Energy Efficiency Advocacy
   A. Support to work of the Metropolitan Energy Commission on Energy Efficiency
   B. Help organize Energy Efficiency training workshops in our community

5.  Participate in Clean Air Act Advocacy
   A. Participate in on line political action alerts
   B. Participate in the 50 States United Lobbying in Washington DC
   C. Recruit others in the community to participate

6. Advocacy for Solar Power in Arizona 
   A. Participate in on line political action alerts supporting solar power
   B. Participate in local Solar 101 Workshops
   C. Recruit others in the community to participate

7. Advocate for regulation of energy waste/emmissions
    A. Participate in on line political action alerts  
    B. Participate in workshops on environmental ethics of coal waste
    C. Recruit others in the community to participate

8.  Work with Local Coalition Partners on Related Issues
    A. Respond to pollution action alerts by Audubon Society, Sierra Club
    B. Attend Tbreaks at the Audubon Society - re. environmental issues
    C. Support Hiroshima Day nuclear power protest - Nuclear Resister
    D. Attend WILPF/ASEH co-sponsored workshop on environmental ethics
    E. Testify on behalf of clean air for AZ Passenger Rail Plan for PIRG
    F. Participate in the Peace Fair organized by the Peace Center
    G. Work with Earth Justice on Clean Air Action and advocacy
    H. Support the work of the Tucson Metropolitan Energy Commission

9.  Support National PDA Connections and Advocacy 
   A. Participate in National PDA's monthly GW-IOT Conference calls
   B. Advocacy to oppose or strictly regulate hydrofracking for natural gas

10.  Offer Southern Arizona Workshop on Environmental Justice
   A. Organize community and UA based environmental groups to participate
   B. Plan workshop with AZ Rise and others
   C. Bring film producer and advocates for environmental justice to present
       Films: Return of Navajo Boy and Power Paths

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

FAIR challenges biased media reporting of People's Budget vs Ryan Budget

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has challenged the corporate media for their lopsided reporting of the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) and the People's Budget (proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

'Serious’ Republicans vs.‘Starry-Eyed’ Progressives
Beltway media scorn People’s Budget, hail Ryan hoax
The budget proposal released on April 5 by Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wisc.) includes tax cuts for the wealthy, tax hikes for the middle class, drastic cuts in social spending and a radical restructuring of Medicare that would shift most of the cost of healthcare to seniors. Its dubious claims of deficit reduction rely on fatally flawed assumptions and inexplicable projections (CBPP, 4/7/11; CEPR, 4/11).

Meanwhile, the 76-member Congressional Progressive Caucus unveiled its own “People’s Budget” proposal on April 13, which would eliminate the deficit in 10 years without eroding social services or raising taxes on the working class. Serious economists like Paul Krugman (New York Times, 4/25/11) and Jeffrey Sachs (Huffington Post, 4/8/11) have spoken out in favor of the People’s Budget as, in Krugman’s words, a “genuinely courageous” plan and “the only major budget proposal out there offering a plausible path to balancing the budget.”

Guess which one the Beltway media have embraced?

For the rest of the story, click here.

FAIR is circulating a petition to encourage more balanced reporting of the US budget negotiations, you can sign the petition here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

User-friendly People's Budget overview provided by Connect the Dots for Democracy

Those of you who attended PDA Tucson's April membership meeting were treated to an informative and easy-to-understand presentation about the US budget by Andrea Witte, a local Connect the Dots for Democray and activist.

Now Witte has created a set of slides, a booklet, and a video about the People's Budget. From the Connect the Dots website...

Are you tired of discussions about the Federal Budget constantly being dragged to one side and your voice not being heard? Fortunately, there is a truly courageous alternative — The People’s Budget — which represents what the American people really want. Learn about the details of this comprehensive proposal to balance our budget and restore our economy and basic fairness. Let’s ensure The People’s Budget is part of the national conversation.

To check out the People's Budget slides, click here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

PDA Tucson's Barbara Warren speaks out about coal-fired generation

Barbara Warren, MD, MPH (Photo credit: Earth Justice)
Barbara Warren, MD, MPH, head of PDA Tucson's Global Warming and Climate Change Issue organizing team, participated in Earth Justices' 50-state right to breathe project. In May, Warren and others traveled to Washington, DC and met with members of Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Obama Administration to lobby for strong protections against pollution.

Speaking out against the environment dangers of coal-fired generation, Warren says:

Coal ash sits in a heap in front of the electric power generating station in our community. Though it contains many toxic heavy metals, it is totally unregulated. I toured the electric power generating station and was horrified by the employees' denial of any harmful effects of burning coal.

I now know that coal ash contains mercury, lead, arsenic, and many other very toxic heavy metals. But most of us are not even informed about this risk and the presence of these toxic materials.

My children and grandchildren are exposed to these very toxic heavy metals—all so we can boil water to turn a turbine. This can be done much more safely! We need clean renewable energies and in the meantime, strict regulations on coal burning power plant emissions.
President Obama and our members of Congress have an obligation to empower the EPA to help us regulate the toxic emissions from coal burning power plants and from exposures to their toxic waste products, as well as the emissions of carbon pollution that threaten our very existence on this planet from global warming.

Our children and their children will inherit a nightmare if we do not! Is this our wish for them?

To hear what other progressives are saying about our right to breathe, check out the Earth Justice website here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Try your hand at drawing Arizona's new Congressional and Legislative Districts

Arizona's population has increased, according to the 2010 census. As a result, our state's Congressional and Legislative Districts will be redrawn. Arizonans have the opportunity to try their hand at redrawing the lines. has online software that anyone can use to redraw the districts. Deadline for submission of your proposed maps is June 22, 2011. The best maps will be selected and forwarded to the bipartisan commission which will be making the final decisions. Below is more information from

Prizes Announced!

We are proud to announce that each of the four best maps (2 congressional and 2 legislative) will be awarded$500. This prize money is provided by the League of Women Voters and private donors.

We are also proud to announce that there will be a student category, in which Arizona High School students can win $300 (one each for congressional and legislative maps). This prize money is provided by the Arizona Education Association, and its members. Students will also win gift certificates to Stinkweeds Records in Phoenix, thanks to Kimber Lanning.

So, we are dishing out over $2,600 in prizes to see who can build the best maps! You can enter as a team or as an individual. If you are entering as a student, you cannot also enter for the regular prizes.

Maps will only be considered if they meet the basic criteria set out in the Contest Guidelines. If you have any questions please contact us at

More Map-a-Thons!

Our first Map-a-Thons in Phoenix and Tucson went so well, that we decided to host them weekly until the contest deadline on June 22nd.

We had huge groups of folks at the last events --some novice and some experts on Redistrict Arizona. If you are hoping for a chance at the prize money for the best maps, these events are essential!

Join us in an opportunity to build your district maps, meet other mappers, collaborate and learn. ACDC volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and help you be a better mapper.

These Map-a-Thons are not reserved for Tucson or Phoenix, only. Please stay tuned for opportunities all over the state. If you would like to host a Map-a-Thon in your city, please contact us at

June 7th, 14th and 21st
6th Ward City Council Office
6pm to 9pm
3202 E. 1st Street
Tucson, AZ 85707
Lead by Rick Graap
Map it
RSVP on Facebook here or at

June 7th, 14th and 21st
URban Beans Coffee Shop
6pm to 9pm
3508 North 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85012
Map it
RSVP on Facebook here or at

If you missed the first events, now is your chance! Please spread the word and join in!

A Little Help from Your Friends

If you are having problems logging on or using the mapping tool, please seek help at the Community Forum instead of contacting us at our Gmail account. We are not likely to be able to respond to you as quickly. Plus there are many more folks out there who can help.

Be a Groundbreaking Leader

Please help us maintain Redistrict Arizona. This project is groundbreaking, but it is not free. Please help us offer rewards for the best maps. Please make a tax deductible contribution at We can't make this happen without your help. Every dollar helps, from $10 to $10,000.

Thank you and happy mapping!

Free Forum and Instructional Video for Your Use

Having problems with the mapping tools? Want to share your thoughts and ideas? Want to comment on other's maps or tell us why you made your map the way you did? Try our new Community Forum at You can post topics, comments and respond to others. Please use this new tool to collaborate and make the best maps possible!

The webinar videos are on YouTube! Did you miss the April 28th free webinar? Want to brush up on your skills or learn how to use the mapping too? You can now see them on our channel at YouTube. There are 9 chapters because YouTube won't let us load anything more than 10 minutes long. So, start with Part 1. We hope to put tag lines on soon to tell you what mapping subject is covered in each chapter.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stand for the Dream (video)

Whatever your dream, it's time to stand up and fight for it.

Another fun yet thought-provoking video by PDA Southern Arizona Field Organizer Alison McLeod.