Friday, August 14, 2009

Wrap Up: Young Democrats of America 2009

Last week (Aug 5 - 9) I was in Chicago, IL for the 2009 Young Democrats of America National Convention. Aside from being in an awesome city and being around tons of young people with similar beliefs, the convention proved to be an incredible learning and networking experience. YDA is more than a social club it is a respectable organization dedicated to motivating young people and making them a more powerful political force Nation wide. YDA achieves this through various training sessions offered throughout the week and bringing in great speakers like Dr. Howard Dean. DSC_5637 During the week thousands of Democrats (young and old) gathered in Chicago to attend the great training sessions and see the speakers. The training sessions offered at the YDA convention ranged from sessions on "Community Organizers Running for Office" to "Finance 101 and Finance 202". As a result of the top notch training many young democrats returned to their states ready to work and better trained to make a difference (full list of training sessions at the end of post).

This year the Kansas delegation consisted of seventeen great Young Democrats from various areas of the state. All of us attended multiple training sessions and we all left Chicago excited and ready to get started. The training we received in Chicago was extremely valuable and it was only because of the great donors we had statewide that we were able to go. The donors enabled all of us to return home armed with the know how needed and the hopes of helping to turn Kansas a few shades bluer.
Kansas Delegation list: Tyler Longpine, Colin Curtis (me), Skye Coleman, Chris Terry, Jamie Epstein, Chelsea Mertz, John Moreau, Merriam Langdon, Erin Doughty, Ben Cohen, Andrew Rickel, Amar Gupta, Molly McGuire, Andrew Mertz, Shane Gagnebin, Jimelle Austin, Anthony Martinez. Part of the Kansas delegation is pictured below
DSC_5828 YDA presents youth from all over the Nation with the opportunity to make connections, receive the training needed to organize their community, the know how to be an extremely valuable member of their community, become a more effective activist, or prepare them for a career in political campaigns and public service. Among all the exciting training sessions and all the great speakers there was also an election that took place. Their were two slates running for the leadership positions in YDA. Sarah Burris brought you the first announcement of election results in her post. The slate elected to lead YDA for the next two years was referred to as YDA Works (which includes fellow Everyday Citizen writer William Isaac Robinson).DSC_6532 YDA Works has identified problems with in the organization and has committed to improving YDA over the next two years in a multitude of ways.
What we have to work on: -The number of local YDA chapters created online has skyrocketed in the past few years, but our ability to engage those new chapters has not kept up with our growth. -YDA Partnership Programs, until recently, have only worked with State Organizations – leaving the creativity and passion of local chapters out of our national organization and the best practices and campaign resources of the national organization away from local chapters. -Many local chapters do not feel connected to the national organization, each other, or the broader youth movement, limiting our collective effectiveness. -YDA’s technological infrastructure is inefficient and can not sustain the growth of YDA. Our local chapters feel the pain of this inadequacy when trying to perform general administrative duties and while communicating with their members. How we will make YDA work better: -Make sure YDA has an operational online membership management system for all local chapters. Invest in a peer-to-peer partnership program for the 2009 elections in Virginia that provides opportunities for all chapters around the country to develop young voter contact skills to be utilized in their states for the 2010 elections. -Continue to expand the partnership programs to local chapters and caucuses in order to get YDA resources on the ground. -Rely on the creativity and ingenuity of our local chapters and their leadership when it comes to creating programming.
Pictured: YDA Works team (left to right) Rod Snyder, Executive Vice President, Renee Hartley, First VP, Isaac Robinson, Second VP, Colmon Elridge, Third VP, Emily Robinson, Secretary, Mark Newman, Treasurer and at the podium is Crystal Strait, President.
DSC_5746 Fellow Future Majority writer, Kevin Bondelli, also deserves a great amount of credit in this election. Kevin was the campaign manager for YDA Works and the newly appointed YDA Chief of Staff. I believe my involvement in YDA has and will continue to help me grow politically and help me to become a more active member of society and for the causes I believe in. I am currently in the aspirations to be elected as the President of the Kansas Young Democrats, for you Kansans I hope I can count on your support in my race. I encourage all Young Democrats to reach out to their local YDA chapter and get involved because only through our involvement will we be able to ensure our voices are heard. DSC_5733 As promised from above- Complete Training list with descriptions:
Community Organizer Large Training Tracks: -Community Organizers Running for Office So you think you want to run for office? Come learn exactly what it takes; from the initial gut check, to developing a campaign plan, to actually getting out the vote for yourself. Hear from Young Democrats from across the country that have run campaigns like this and/or have been elected to office themselves. -Community Organizers Take On Election Reform We can continue to increase youth turnout by removing certain barriers from our elections. Learn about same day voter registration, online registration, changing the voter registration age, and early voting- and how to get these things in your states. -Community Organizers Take On Global Warming It’s a great day to go green. It’s time for young people to lead the discussion on why global warming and the environment is an issue and how we plan to lead the charge. Learn everything from current and new technologies, to green, sustainable jobs. It's time to discuss how federal policy and energy initiatives directly affect young people and our communities and how we can be effective in communicating these new ideas! -Community Organizers Take On Higher Education With less than 25% of young people in college it's time we make Higher Education a frontline issue. Learn about the access and affordability barriers students are facing, and legislation around the issue. -Community Organizers Hit The Field Learn everything about field plans, how we utilize the peer to peer model, and how to manage your volunteers during a campaign. -Community Organizers Utilize New Media and Online Organizing We don’t just tweet to tweet. Learn about new media outlets, organizing online, and how to build new media into a coordinated campaign plan. -Community Organizers Take on Healthcare Over 15 Million young people are uninsured. Healthcare reform is a main issue right now in our communities and within government. Learn how you can represent the youth voice and ensure you are insured. -Community Organizers Take on Marriage Equality Marriage Equality is the civil rights battle of our time. Learn how we can pass marriage equality in every state and how to keep the momentum for this issue going strong! -Community Organizers Take On Housing We have all heard about the crisis in the housing and lending industries, but what does it all mean? Demystify the housing issue, how we found ourselves in this situation, and how it is affecting young people. -Community Organizers Take on Redistricting 2010 is almost here and that means we can gain or lose Democratic districts. Learn how we can ensure congressional districts are drawn fairly and how we can mobilize young people and Democrats in these districts during an election. Round Table Discussions and Briefings: -YDA 101: New Member Orientation New to YDA? Come find out a little bit about our history, our structure, what peer to peer is, and how the convention works. Meet YDA leaders, staff, and other new members like yourself and find out how to get more involved. -Dream Act Learn about the thousands of undocumented students in this country and the obstacles they face around Higher Education. We will discuss current legislation as well as grass roots advocacy that can be taken within your communities to ensure access and affordable education for ALL students. -Foreign Policy Learn what issues young Democrats are facing on a global scale and how we can take a stance on foreign policy and partner with young Democratic leaders from around the world. Discussion Groups on Chapter Building Starting a new chapter or simply want to grow your existing chapter? Brainstorm with your fellow chapter members and leaders: different leadership and meeting structures, best practices on recruitment and retention, and how to mobilize your chapter for YDA within your communities. -Finance 101 and Finance 202 101: Learn the basics of fundraising and developing a workable finance plan for your chapter. 202: Put your fundraising trainings and best practices into action. Learn about Call Time and practice actual fundraising with your peers. -Writing a Voter Registration Plan Before we can begin turning out the vote for Democrats we have to make sure they’re registered! Learn how to write a voter registration plan that you and your chapter can enact in your communities. -Religion in Politics Engage in discussions with fellow Young Democrats of ways that religion intersects with politics. -Demopolis 101 and Demopolis 202 101: Become more familiar navigating yourself around the site and all the ways it can benefit your chapter. Learn how to manage your lists, send out eblasts, and how to set up events. 202: Learn how to set up targeted actions, advocacy campaigns, petitions, and LTEs -Community Service this Summer Summit Learn how to get your chapter signed up for a National Day of Service project and who you can partner with to make sure your community benefits from your service project. -How to Get on the 6 o'clock News and Look Good Get interviewing techniques from a former CNN producer on how you can get yourself on the news and look good. -So You Want To Host A Meeting? So you think you want to host a YDA meeting, conference, or convention? Well we want you to as well, but we want you to know what you’re getting yourself into! Come to this training and hear from state and local chapter leaders that have hosted a meeting and see exactly what it takes.
Pictured: YDA Political Director Hailey Snow leading the new member orientation.
Pictured: Two great people who made sure the convention ran smoothly. YDA's own Hailey Snow and Katie Ford

Friday, July 31, 2009

Does a Fellowship 'Cult' Own Rep. Todd Tiahrt?

Sunday evening I had the chance to interview Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family about Kansas politicians: Congressman Todd Tiahrt, Senator Sam Brownback, and Rep. Jerry Moran and their connections to C Street. He had some tough words for Rep. Tiahrt whom he outed as a member of the religious cult on The Rachel Maddow show earlier this week.

Jeff Sharlet is a journalist who has been writing about religion for about 15 years and is a contributing editor for Harper's and Rolling Stone. He spent the last 5 years as a research scholar at the New York Research Center for Religion and Media.

In our interview, I asked Jeff about how he was able to uncover this secret conservative cult. Jeff was invited into the cult as everyone else is. Though he did not personally live in the C Street house, he did stay at one very similar and visited the C Street house. He was able to share information with me about the organization that goes much farther than one house in Washington...

The C Street house is one of many, not even the main one. The main one is gorgeous mansion over looking the Potomac river with a waterfall carved into the lawn called "The Cedar" in Arlington, Virginia. Around "The Cedar" there are about twenty properties associated with "The Family" one of which is this house called "Ivanwald" where at any given time maybe a dozen to eighteen men will live.

These men are "being groomed for leadership." They tend to be in their early twenties. When I was there, I was around thirty I was pushing the outer age limit. If you stick around long enough, you might get a mentor for a congressman; you have weekly sessions with politicians and business leaders and so on. In that capacity, actually living at "Ivanwald" for a little less than a month, I visited the "C Street" house a couple of times.

The way I got into all of this was I was invited; that's the only way you get it. I write a lot about religion. A friend of mine was afraid her brother had joined a cult and asked if I would talk to him. He said, "No, no really it's not a cult. You've got to come see this for yourself." He invited me.

I think they we're really interested in having me as a member even though I'm not really an "elite" - partly because I had been invited, partly because I'm a journalist so to say an influencer, and I think they we're pretty clear that part of what interested them was the fact that my father is Jewish. So they liked the idea of Jews bowing before Christ. So they brought me into "The Family" and made me a member.

When I asked Jeff about Congressman Tiahrt's involvement, he told me the story about his first time visiting the "C Street" home and seeing Rep. Tiahrt speaking with "The Family" leader Doug Coe as told in his book. Jeff laughed as he told us how he "brought them (Doug Coe, and Rep. Tiahrt) hot cocoa" as they spoke.

Tiahrt was a short shot glass of a man, two parts flawless hair and one part teeth. He wanted to know the best way “for the Christian to win the race with the Muslim.” The Muslim, he said, has too many babies, while Americans kill too many of theirs.

Doug agreed this could be a problem. But he was more concerned that the focus on labels like “Christian” might get in the way of the congressman's prayers. Religion distracts people from Jesus, Doug said, and allows them to isolate Christ's will from their work in the world.

“People separate it out,” he warned Tiahrt. “'Oh, okay, I got religion, that's private.' As if Jesus doesn't know anything about building highways, or Social Security. We gotta take Jesus out of the religious wrapping.”

“All right, how do we do that?” Tiahrt asked.

“A covenant,” Doug answered. The congressman half-smiled, as if caught between confessing his ignorance and pretending he knew what Doug was talking about. “Like the Mafia,” Doug clarified. “Look at the strength of their bonds.” He made a fist and held it before Tiahrt's face. Tiahrt nodded, squinting. “See, for them it's honor,” Doug said. “For us, it's Jesus.”

Coe listed other men who had changed the world through the strength of the covenants they had forged with their “brothers”: “Look at Hitler,” he said. “Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Bin Laden.” The Family, of course, possessed a weapon those leaders lacked: the “total Jesus” of a brotherhood in Christ.

“That's what you get with a covenant,” said Coe. “Jesus plus nothing.”

Rep. Tiahrt denied any involvement with the "The Family" in Saturday's Kansas City Star:

Tiahrt would not respond to questions, but said in a statement he has “never lived at the C Street House, nor have I participated in any regular Bible studies orso-called counseling sessions there.”
Jeff Sharlet, as detailed in Sarah's post from last week, begged to differ, telling an intimate, and disturbing story about a counseling session between "The Family" leader Doug Coe and a younger Rep. Todd Tiahrt, as told above.

Yesterday, a special aired in Wichita called The Christian Mafia. In that program, Rep. Tiahrt was once again found denying any involvement with The Family and also attacked Jeff Sharlet.

In a statement, he (Tiahrt) calls Sharlet an unscrupulous author, and says "to be clear I have never lived at the C Street house nor have I participated in any regular bible studies or so-called counseling sessions there."
In my interview with Jeff yesterday, one of the many things that we covered was Tiahrt's denial of any involvement with "The Family." Jeff had much to say about Tiahrt.
At the very best, the very best, you can say about this is it is disingenuous, here we have a documented encounter and he (Tiahrt) needs to address that. If he wants to say you know what I went to this one session and it was so crazy this guy comparing Jesus to Hitler, then I would welcome him. Instead he claims to have no connections - when it is clear that he has had a connection. Moreover, he has an interesting connection.

As I know from my review of 600 boxes of "The Family" documents, they believe in a concentric theology. What this means is Christ has one message for the masses, but the masses can't handle the truth. Then there's an inner-circle and they get a different message, and then there's an even more inner-circle and they get the real truth - and that's how Christ operates the world today - he reveals a different set of truths for the masses and the elites.

It's anti-Democratic and anti-Christian, but that's their approach to things. The Rhetoric about a "Totalitarian of Christ" - that's inner-circle stuff. Whether they decided Todd Tiahrt was such a strong figure that they wanted to jump start him into the core teachings of the group or whether he had more of relationship with them, he's got to defend that. He definitely had a connection with them and he ought to explain what it was.

With accusations of Rep. Jerry Moran and documented cases of Congressman Todd Tiahrt being involved I asked Jeff what he thought about the race for fellow Family member Sen. Brownback's U.S. Senate between the two, and whether the family would prefer one over the other or run two Family members against each other.

I can't tell you much about Jerry Moran, this is just one of the scoops that has come out during this whole "C Street" scandal. The only people I identify as being involved I have personally witnessed, been told personally by them or documented from The Family's own records. I've never said Moran before this, because I didn't have this information. But it is research that now needs to be done...

This (two Family members running against each other) happens all the time actually. That is one of the ways "The Family" survives. They don't endorse candidates. They try to have as much access and influence as they can. Doug Coe, the leader of the group, says the work with power where they can and build new power where they can not. Based on a lot of research on the group, Jerry Moran is more their type of candidate, their problem with Tiahrt is the guy is a buffoon. They are looking for polished people.

It appears that "The Family" is bigger than just the "C Street" scandal. What was once described as just a place of religious gathering is starting to look more like a place of backroom dealings and secrets. It's time we demanded answers from our local, state and national politicians as to what their involvements are in "The Family" and how far this really goes.

This Sam is no Uncle of mine

brownback1018.jpg picture by colincurtisksMany of us at Everyday Citizen have been keeping you up to date on all the C street news, as we get it. On Sunday, Sarah posted about Kansas Rep Jerry Moran. On Monday, I postedabout my interview with Jeff Sharlet, author of The Familyand what he told me about Kansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt and his involvement in the Conservative Cult know as "The Family". One of the more well known Kansas elected officials believed to be involved with "The Family" is Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, who happens to also be running for Kansas Governor in 2010.

Through out my interview with Jeff Sharlet, one Kansas elected official came up substantially more than the others, Sen. Sam Brownback.

Sam Brownback out there (in Kansas) is one of the politicians who I would say is more intimately involved than most and I think has a bit of a leadership role.

Since the controversy about C Street has emerged many politicians involved would like the public to believe that it is simply a group of people coming together with a common religious believe, however Jeff told me a different story.

The Bible is not the main purpose of the organization; never has been. You can look through 600 boxes of documents, they're public anyone can see them. Very few of them have to do with Bible study that is not what this group is designed to do. From the very first day when the formed the group in Seattle in 1935, it was because they wanted to break the bind of organized labor, they thought "The New Deal" was a devilish type of thing. So nineteen leading businessmen in Seattle got together and said we need one of us to run for office, and everyone else will put their money behind them. That's the kind of work they've always been doing.

These "C Streeter's" travel around the world on "The Family" dime, doing lobbying work. A lot of times the Bible studies don't even involve the Bible. I wanted to ask Sen. Brownback about some of the Bible verses he uses to justify is position against homosexuality. When I asked him about it, he just looked at me with a blank stare. He didn't know what those verses were, he said Jesus had just laid it on his heart personally. Someone laid it on his heart, because when I interviewed his parent's back in Kansas they said they had no idea where he had gotten that from.

So what you really see is these powerful guys getting together talking about their personal issues and political issues, someone may quote a word from the Bible sometimes but in the meetings I sat in on, I sat in on a meeting with Ed Meese, the Bible was never opened., winner of an Utne/Alternative Press Award, which in 2004 led to a book coauthored with Peter Manseau, Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible. In 2006, Jeff Sharlet wrote an article in Rolling Stone on Sen. Brownback. In the article, Sharlet sheds some light on what Sen. Brownback is really after.

After little more than a decade in Washington, Brownback has managed to position himself at the very center of the Christian conservative uprising that is transforming American politics. Just six years ago, winning the evangelical vote required only a veneer of bland normalcy, nothing more than George Bush's vague assurance that Jesus was his favorite philosopher. Now, Brownback seeks something far more radical: not faith-based politics but faith in place of politics. In his dream America, the one he believes both the Bible and the Constitution promise, the state will simply wither away. In its place will be a country so suffused with God and the free market that the social fabric of the last hundred years -- schools, Social Security, welfare -- will be privatized or simply done away with. There will be no abortions; sex will be confined to heterosexual marriage. Men will lead families, mothers will tend children, and big business and the church will take care of all.

Brownback believes that every spiritual path has its own unique scent, and he wants to inhale them all. When he ran for the House he was a Methodist. By the time he ran for the Senate he was an evangelical. Now he has become a Catholic. He was baptized not in a church but in a chapel tucked between lobbyists' offices on K Street that is run by Opus Dei, the secretive lay order founded by a Catholic priest who advocated "holy coercion" and considered Spanish dictator Francisco Franco an ideal of worldly power. Brownback also studies Torah with an orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn. "Deep," says the rabbi, Nosson Scherman. Lately, Brownback has been reading the Koran, but he doesn't like what he's finding.

Brownback turned the position into a platform for a high-profile war against gay marriage, porn and abortion. Casting Bush and the Republican leadership as soft and muddled, he regularly turns sleepy hearings into platforms for his vision of America, inviting a parade of angry witnesses to denounce the "homosexual agenda," "bestiality" and "murder."

Brownback doesn't demand that everyone believe in his God -- only that they bow down before Him.

In my interview with Sharlet, I asked him what he could tell me about Sen. Brownback and his experience with him, as well as what he really thought about Sen. Brownback after spending so much time with him.

I've spent a lot of time with Brownback, both in Washington and in Kansas. I had been wanting to go to church with Brownback in Topeka and he kept saying "no". Once Brownback discovered I had already written about "The Family" for Harper's Magizine he said I could come with him. He seemed to think that if I could just understand what he was all about I could be converted. The more I learned what he was about the more I think he's very sincere about his politics but I think he is very clueless in his understanding of Democracy.
During our talk about Sen. Brownback, Sharlet also revealed to me another Kansan connected to "The Family" back some time ago. Sen. Frank Carlson, also known as "The no deal dealer".
I asked Brownback about his connection to Carlson (Sen. Frank Carlson). Early on in his (Brownback's) career in politics he drove out to Sen. Carlson's house in, I believe, Concordia, KS and sat with the old Senator on the porch and asked him about his religious work over the years and modeled himself after that.
Most the media attention lately has seemed to be focused on Congressman Tood Tiahrt (partially because of his asking of what if Obama's mother had had an abortion on the House floor) and even Kansas Rep. Jerry Moran has been linked to the scandal. Sen. Brownback has managed to not have to speak on this much and I think it is time we start asking him about his true involvement with "The Family" and not let a conservative cult take over Kansas in the next election cycle.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Waves of Social Networking

Originally published at

This past weekend many activist from around the state gathered in Wichita to attend the Democracy for America Campaign Academy. At the two day campaign training we learned about many aspects of running a campaign. There were sessions on everything from canvassing to budgeting to GOTV efforts, needless to say this weekend was extremely valuable to us all. This weekend we also saw an unexpected flex of the power of social networking. As many of you may know on Saturday Kansas State Rep. Raj Goyle (D) made the announcement that he intends to run for U.S. Congress in 2010, in House District KS-04. This announcement was to be released the next day in the paper. As Rep. Goyle announced there were multiple people at the training who immediately sent the exciting news out on Twitter (I am proud to say I was the 3rd person to tweet it). As a result of all of our tweets and all the people retweeting what we said multiple media sources picked up the story and released it only hours after the announcement was made to us.

Read more about Rep. Goyle''s annoucement in P.J. Pohly's post.

What we saw this weekend is not an isolated incident of social networking changing the way we communicate and the way information travels in our society. The true power of social networking sites like Twitter was shown when Ashton Kutcher challenged CNN in the race to 1 million followers, Ashton won, his point was to show that any person can be just as powerful as one of the biggest news networks out there.

Social networking is changing the way our world works and thinks. It enables use to communicate quicker, outreach to people we would never be able to before, and it gives a voice to people who with out blogs would not be able to advocate for their issue or write about their experience (i.e. with out Everyday Citizen you would not be reading anything I write).

I believe that social networking has a huge number of benefits, especially when used in the political world. Now politicians can respond to events or stories personally with out having to count on a reporter to paint the picture they want, or to publicize an event with out having to worry about it being covered. Sites like Twitter and Facebook allow candidates to connect with their constituents and people all around the world on a daily basis. These sites also allow people to get to know their candidate better and for the candidate to be more transparent.

Social networking has become huge part of our society, a testament to that is the live blogging coverage happening now at the Sotomayor confirmation hearing. What used to be a room full of reporters who would write down everything then a day later publish it so that everyone could read it, has become a room full of bloggers giving us the run down as it happens. Social networking will only continue to play an important role in our society and continue to grow and change the power of media as we know it.

I encourage everyone to join Twitter and experience it for themselves. I especially encourage politicians to join Twitter and be apart of the media change that is happening now.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Being Young, Motivated, and Involved.

Originally posted at:

Over the past 6 months my life has drastically changed from a semi-involved political activist who worked on local campaigns and did what was needed to be done in order to get those politicians who are good for my community elected, to now being a much more involved political activist who is constantly on conference calls, networking with people I barely know and becoming a friend to them and traveling across the State and in some cases to other States to go to events in order to help strengthen and build up the Democratic party. I by no means do this alone, which brings me to why I have decided to write about importance of youth being politically active.

Being apart of the Young/ College Democrats is a choice that I am able to say that I have no regrets in making. Joining a political organization like these allow you to become part of a network... better yet a family of young people through out the State and Nation who are all interested in doing the same thing as you. Getting Democrats elected and having a blast doing so. Now don't get me wrong this family does have its crazy cousins and weird aunts/ uncles but like any family there those people who are your favorites and you get together with on a regular basis even though your in Manhattan and they are in Topeka, Lawrence, Osage City or Kansas City. Politics is like any other group activity out there, there are those big name players, the veterans and the new guys. The great thing about politics is that its all about getting out there and being known for what your doing, you don't have to be naturally talented or the biggest guy on the field, you just have to be a hard worker and willing to roll with the punches that come your way. Young people are perfect for politics because they know how certain issues effect their demographic which is normally largely underrepresented in policy making, and they have the energy to be the ones out knocking doors week after week and the know how to use social networking sites to spread their message instantly to hundreds or thousands of people. My experience in numerous political campaigns has always given me a passion for personally being involved but my experience in the Young/ College Democrats has instilled in me a passion for youth involvement overall. In my opinion being involved in a cause, campaign or organization is one of the most positive things a young person can do. The earlier youth start finding their voice in these things the better, because only through their work and experience can they make a change in the world around them and influence those who do make the decisions in said world. I largely encourage all youth out there to become involved in something that speaks to their interests, to work for a positive change for their issue or for their candidate and enjoy doing it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Please Sign GPACE Petition

Help GPACE collect at least 2500 names to take to the State Legislature by Wednesday, February 11th.

full text of this petition:

To the members of the Kansas Legislature:

The Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy and its members statewide would like you to know we’re ready to rise to the challenges facing us. We’re ready to become a leader in the new energy economy. We’re ready to usher in a new era of economic growth, energy security, and environmental responsibility.

As we all face economic peril and a global energy crisis, we embrace the opportunity to move forward and find solutions using our state’s own resources and the ethic that has defined generations before us.

As Kansans, we welcome the benefits a renewable energy economy can provide: prosperity for our rural communities; jobs and industry for our cities and towns; and clean energy for a new generation of Kansas homes and businesses.

Whereas Kansas has the third greatest wind resource in the nation;

Whereas 75% of the electricity we use in Kansas is generated from coal, all of which is imported from other states;

Whereas Kansas currently has enough electricity production to meet our needs until at least 2023;

Whereas Kansas has abundant natural resources to become energy independent AND provide clean, renewable energy to help the nation become energy independent;

Whereas the cost of fossil fuels like coal will dramatically increase as carbon emissions are regulated;

We, the undersigned Kansas citizens, demand that you, as our elected representatives,

  • Create energy efficiency standards to make the energy we do have go further;
  • Prioritize our state’s own energy resources, like wind, solar, and natural gas;
  • Invest in electricity production that does not produce harmful pollutants that cause health problems;
  • Invest in electricity production that will help stimulate the state’s economy and create long term jobs, investment, and revenue for all of Kansas;
  • Keep intact the rule of law that allows state experts to protect ALL Kansans, and vote against any bill that would sacrifice the health and environment of our children to benefit other states or a single company; and
  • Use no more of our time or tax dollars debating power plants that use Wyoming coal to make electricity for Colorado and Texas residents.

We cannot afford another year of legislative squabbling and political gamesmanship. The stakes are too high, and our opportunities too great.

While you consider changing Kansas laws to benefit citizens and utility providers from other states, we fall farther behind our neighbors who have worked to develop their own energy resources and industry driven by renewable energy.

We in Kansas have all we need to re-power our state right here at home. What’s lacking is your leadership.

In signing this petition, we call upon you to do what’s best for Kansas and to join us in taking meaningful steps towards renewing the Kansas economy.

Thank you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

We Won in the House, Now Tell the Senate to ACT NOW!

From YDA:

Our values and our future are on the line. Millions of young Americans have lost their job, home, savings, and livelihood. We are facing the worst economic crisis since World War II. And if we don't act soon, it will get even worse.

In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, we need unprecedented action. Action that will not only jump start our economy now, but invest in critical programs that will pay off for years, and generations, to come. And there is no time to waste.

Last week, the House of Representatives approved President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a bill designed to help put money in the hands of working Americans to get our economy back on track.

As soon as tonight, the Senate will vote on this important bill and we need your help NOW to pass this crucial legislation.

The bill isn't perfect; responses to a crisis of this scale never are. Critics have focused on a handful of programs that represent less than a half of one percent of the bill's cost. And - irony alert -- Republicans make accusations of wasteful spending without acknowledging that, on their watch, tax cuts for the rich and a mismanaged war created a far greater burden.

This bill has huge implications for young people. From unemployment insurance to investing in renewable energy, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is designed to safeguard our economic future.

The House of Representatives' bill included the new American Opportunity Tax Credit, which offers a tax credit of up to $2,500 for the cost of tuition and related expenses as well as increases the Pell grant maximum and additional funding for work study. Astonishingly, some Senators want to cut this important higher education funding and tax credits. Be sure to urge your Senators to not only pass this bill but to keep these important programs. After all, what could provide more stimulus to our economy now and in the future than helping young people pay for the rising cost of a college education, proven to increase income throughout our lifetime?

The cost of doing too little outweighs the extraordinary cost of getting us out of this economic crisis. Congress must act now to pass this important legislation and get our economy moving again. Urge your Senators to ACT NOW to pass this critical legislation.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act creates good-paying jobs, cuts taxes for working families and makes responsible investments in our future. This plan will help create or save four million jobs, including an entire generation of green jobs that will make public and private investments in renewable energy and make American more energy efficient. And the bill ensures unprecedented transparency, oversight and accountability so that Americans can see not only how their money is being spent, but also the results of their investments.

Learn more about how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will help your state here. You can also read President Obama's plan and remarks on ARRP.

As young Americans and as Young Democrats we must ACT NOW to urge our Senators to work for our best interest in restoring America's prosperity. This important legislation cannot wait. Our economic future is too important to be yet another political football, we urge bi-partisan support for this crucial bill.

We look forward to keeping you updated on the progress of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as the legislation progresses through Congress. Please help us broaden our impact by forwarding this email to five friends today!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Million to Thank Obama

From YDA:

Today, we witnessed history as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

We are lucky to have an ally like President Obama in the White House. To him, change and hope and progress are a way of life, not just a slogan. He made an unprecedented commitment to involving young people in politics and now it's our turn to say thank you.

We want one million young voters to say thank you. SIGN NOW!

Today was not the only historic moment for us though. On November 4th, we witnessed a historic shift in the electorate, as Millennials turned out in force and changed politics for a generation.

The Young Voter Revolution continues. All of the energy and momentum we saw across the country, up and down the ballot, was just the beginning. We learned an important lesson though - we have to made our presence known and felt in big numbers to change the conventional wisdom.

Now it's time to prove 2008 is a trend, not a fluke. We need to show the world that young voters will be engaged on key policy issues in the months to come and over the next four years. We need to show we are a political powerhouse.

We want one million young voters to prove that the Young Voter Revolution continues! SIGN TODAY!

And take a moment to thank yourself. YOU - and millions of your friends - made this moment possible. PASS IT ON and keep the momentum going

The 44th President of the United States

I don't think there is anything else that needs to be said, as so many of us have been waiting for this for so long.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Countdown to Jan 20

With the holidays, and some depression brought about from Parkinson's decision, Sebelius' new court appointment, Senate Dems fighting over Obama's former seat, and other bits....I haven't posted in a few weeks. It's not that these things aren't news, it's that I've been job hunting.

I lost perspective, until I was reminded that: