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FEBRUARY 2021 NEWSLETTER

The Progressive Alliance of Henderson County has merged the energies and aims of its grassroots forerunners: PWH, POW, Hendersonville Huddle and Silent Vigil for Immigration Reform.


Informed Progressive

On Wednesday, February 10, at 6:30, we will feature a viewing of the play “A Hole in My Heart”. Written by Doreen Blue and Eileen Douglas, this work is a compilation of monologues reflecting the pain of gun violence in the US. Discussions will follow.

Please click on this link to join the meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85663302275?pwd=YnpQanBDSzBjWFQ2Z2FBUlhUMXBzZz09

Meeting ID: 856 6330 2275
Passcode: 357367
 

Postcard Parties

Postcard Parties will be VIRTUAL until further notice.  

Postcard Parties will PERSIST – but they may not be “in-person” at Oklawaha Brewery (renamed from Sanctuary Brewing), still at 147 1st Ave. E, Hendersonville.  We will post weekly suggestion sheets on our FB page, website and in emails.

Suggestion Sheets can be viewed below or downloaded at our website.

From the “This Makes the Work and Frustrations Worthwhile” Department

Sissy has been busy responding to requests for postcards to contact representatives.  Unfortunately, in the age of COVID-19, much of the usual direct interaction may not occur. Recently, this comment was posted by an Alliance member to our website:

“Hello, I recently requested postcards. I received them and wanted to let you know that I will be sending 16 postcards to reps today. They are to Pelosi and Schumer and the NC reps who voted to overturn the ligit election and the connection to the action of white supremacist insurrectionists on 1/6. Thank you for supporting the process! “    Colette Featherston

Our thanks to all of you for the work that you do.
 
 


Call Out Cawthorn Car Caravan

Congressman Cawthorn incited the rioters on January 6, 2021 during Trump’s rally held just prior to the certification of the electoral college votes by Congress. We are asking him to resign or be expelled. Our car caravan to call attention to our concerns will be held as follows:

        Wednesday, February 3, 2021 - noon until 12:30
        Assemble at Jackson Park, area nearest the Fourth Street Entrance at 11:30
        Bring your own signs or use some already prepared

Our route will start on 4th, turn left on Williams, right on 1st, right on Grove and right on Williams - four loops in total

This is a permitted event through City of Hendersonville Police Department and we have requested a police escort

The following site is a compilation citing additional rationale as to why Cawthorn is unsuited to represent constituents in District 11: https://www.realmadisoncawthorn.com/

Please confirm your interest in participating with Virginia Tegel  phone call or text to 231-392-2502 or message virginiategel@gmail.com
 
Virginia Tegel
by Lee Stevens


Virginia Tegel loves doing projects – for many of us that would be rearranging a closet or crocheting a scarf, but for her that is doing such things as building her own chicken coop and bee hives. She also loves her family, so she rearranged her life over the last couple of years to be closer to her three children and their families, who all live in Greenville, South Carolina. She left Michigan, where she had spent most of her adult life, spent a transitional year in Chapel Hill, and then moved to Hendersonville this past August in the midst of the pandemic.  She now sees her family regularly, as they are included in her COVID bubble and live less than an hour away, and is able to enjoy the many outdoor activities our area has to offer.

Virginia’s life began in the quintessential small town of Cary, Illinois, northwest of Chicago, as the sixth of eight children in a Catholic family.  Being a large family, they made their own fun, and enjoyed unlimited access to nature, but she realizes now that there were hard times - food was sometimes rationed, and the family car was repossessed during the night. From a young age, though, she learned the value of cooperation and working for the common good. Her mother taught them to look out for each other and to "work things out amongst ourselves." This has translated to her strong desire to work on social and environmental justice issues.

In school, academics came easily to Virginia, and she imagined a career as an architect. But after completing a career report on Executive Secretaries - classic female work at the time – she realized her choices might be more limited.

After high school, she started off at a community college in Traverse City, Michigan, an area she’d fallen in love with after spending a summer there. She continued her education as a non-traditional student, earning a teaching degree in 1993 from Madonna University, a small but somewhat liberal Catholic institution, and a Masters in 2005 from a public university - Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. Once she began working as a teacher, she remained a student, completing coursework from colleges all over the country. One memorable experience was at Confratute held at the University of Connecticut - a two week event attended by hundreds of educators from around the world that provides them with research-based practical strategies for engagement and enrichment learning for all students.

As life moved on and change happened, Virginia ended up back in Traverse City (an area she highly recommends we visit, at any time other than during cherry festival in July). In addition to working in education, she held a number of side jobs over the years – including electronic circuit board maker, bank teller, newspaper deliverer, gardener, and project designer.

While she continued her career as a special education teacher, primarily at the high school level, she also became heavily engaged in politics in her northern Grand Traverse County community -prompted by local environmental issues. She even ran for office once (as a Republican). While she didn’t win her race, she says that her political engagement allowed her to connect with many of the people who are most dear to her. That level of connection has continued into the present, most recently with members of the Progressive Alliance.

She has always loved to travel and has been to most of the states. In the last several years, she has explored further afield, mostly while volunteering so she could be more engaged with the communities she visited. She loves Ecuador, in particular the world heritage city of Cuenca, and has considered living there.

When not traveling, she completes projects such as the chicken coop and bee hive building mentioned above, and indulges in many outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing (she hopes to find a place to do that here).  She also enjoys sewing, cooking, repurposing, reading, listening to local musicians, and volunteering for causes closest to her heart.

“I like to have fun and get to know people deeply,” she says

We are fortunate Virginia has chosen Hendersonville and look forward to getting to know her better as well!
Informed Progressive

On Wednesday, January 13, our virtual Informed Progressive meeting addressed the For the People Act (HR1).  Eric Perless, graduate student in Economics at American University in Washington, DC, provided the background and a brief outline of the act and suggested how we can help in getting it passed. Eric worked on multiple campaign cycles in Western North Carolina including: Asheville municipal elections as well as Hillary Clinton’s, Norm Bossert’s and Sam Edney’s campaigns.  While in DC, Eric has interned with End Citizens United (the leading advocacy organization behind HR1) and the United States Senate Finance Committee.  The following is a summary of 
Eric’s slides (many thanks to Peri David for providing the text!)

The Problems:
  • Citizens United - 80% opposed the decision; Supreme Court held that virtually unlimited independent political expenditures by corporations, labor unions, and other associations was a constitutional right.
  • Government Ethics - 91% want honest and ethical government; Trump did not release tax returns; taxpayer money is used by politicians to settle sexual harassment claims.
  • Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression - 54% want to make voting easier; purging of voter rolls; inaccessibility to vote

HR 1 Solves These Problems:
  • Campaign finance reform
       Voluntary public financing with 6:1 small donor matches
       Limits on foreign lobbying
       Require Super PACs to disclose their donors
       Restructure FEC to reduce partisan gridlock
       Ultimately overturn Citizens United
  • Rewriting government ethics rules
       President and VP must disclose previous 10 years of income tax returns
       Eliminates use of taxpayer money for sexual harassment settlements
       New ethics code for SCOTUS
  • Expanding and protecting voting rights
       End partisan gerrymandering
       National voter registration and federal holiday for election day
       Limit voter purge efforts, re-enfranchising folks out of prison, improving accessibility
History of HR 1
  • Progressives have advocated for cleaning up government for a while.
  • The 2018 class of Democrats ran on cleaning up government.
  • The new majority pushed Speaker Pelosi to bring HR 1 up.
  • Rep. Sarbanes (D-MD03) introduced HR1 on 1/3/19.
  • Sen. Udall (D-NM) proposes bill in the Senate.
  • House passed HR 1 along party lines 3/8/19.
  • Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) refused to bring the bill up in the Senate.
So How Do We Pass It:
Democrats need to either abolish the filibuster or get enough Republicans to support cloture to have an up-or-down vote otherwise, this conversation is ultimately moot.

How to Get Involved:
Contact local organizations in the districts and states of Representatives and Senators who may be on the fence and offer to help (Indivisible chapters, other grassroots progressive organizations). Social media awareness is also useful!  

Eric’s parting statement was that we need to clean up the mess in Washington as it is the last unifying message we have.

Please click on the following link to view a recording of the meeting (please note that the recording will be available only until 2/10: 

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/OkNzTHii-G66vwT-
6cp7_Rgc1VJAPwBIQL9b9uE-ZlGH_7TBFVyjkg231Hq9Q-XT.k6Ij0JLgDi1owgz9
POSTCARD SUGGESTION SHEET   #206            January 29, 2021

Republicans never seem to rest in flip-flopping. Just this week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R CA) said it was shameful that Biden’s first action was to protect illegal immigrants over our own citizens. Senator Susan Collins (R MA) said about the 1.9 trillion dollar bill to help Americans, why would we need a package that big. They must think everyone doesn’t remember what they say.  We must Keep Persisting and calling out their lies.

Cuban Travel Renewal                             
With the election of Joe Biden/Kamala Harris there is an expected return to the gradual liberalization of relations with Cuba.  At least there would appear to be the prospect of the restoration of cruises, flights and remittance privileges, which advanced under President Obama but were scrapped under trump because of conservative pressure.  Anything that trump did by executive order can be undone by the new administration.

Opposition remains alive and well from some Cuban-American factions.  They turned out in record numbers for trump in the 2020 election, spurred by the continued drum beat by conservatives against the “Socialist” regime 90 miles from the US.  Younger Cuban-Americans don’t seem to have the zeal of their more traditional brethren.  The question is, however, how do Biden/Harris build momentum for 2024 in Florida while tension is still high against more normalized relations with Cuba?   The irony is we have cooperative dealings with communist regimes in China, Viet Nam and Laos, but Cuba is off limits because of domestic politics, i.e. the Cuban-American electorate.

How this will play out will depend on how much value a Cuban/USA détente has to our politicians, think big business opportunities, versus the reactionary groups in Florida and Washington.

Write Biden/Harris plus our congressional representatives to revive improved relations with Cuba.

Immigration Policies Revamp                                 
  1. Clear, Consistent Policies
    It is no secret to anyone who has the slightest interest in what our immigration policies should be that these four long years with trump have been a disaster for not only hopeful immigrants, but for our populace as well.  The trump administration’s actions to restrict legal immigration certainly centers around white nationalism, led by Stephen Miller. Can anyone recall a more disjointed, confusing, vindictive and harmful stance toward legal immigration in this country?

    What has become one of our lowest points in American history cannot be ignored, but it is time to look forward.  Even under Obama there were actions taken that not all Americans could be proud of.  The biggest flaw in our immigration policies seems to be a lack of consistency.  Nearly every other advanced country in the world has defined policies for how citizens from other countries can or cannot qualify for legal residence in their country.  Have illegals entered this country in large numbers over the last 50 years?  Of course, but not all have come from south of our borders.

    Overturning trump’s most egregious actions won’t be enough to turn the situation around.  We are still very attractive to low income aspirants for entry but other desirable destinations like Canada and New Zealand have well defined standards for immigration based on job skills and employability.  They, like us, have an open door policy for people with money who agree to invest in their economies, just as before and also have special programs for qualified refugees. 

    The United States’ population dwarfs that of Sweden, Norway and all other advanced countries so we must come up with policies that serve our needs but also accommodate as many other immigrants as we can reasonably allow.  We are fundamentally a country of immigrants and if our country is so good, can’t we figure this out?  We can’t take on the problems and challenges of everyone who would like to come here but we can surely develop advantageous, workable and benevolent immigration policies.  We have to start by not assuming virtually everyone who wants to come here is not worthy, plus, working out sensible plans for those already here to remain. 

    Write Biden/Harris plus our congressional representatives
     
  2. Asylum-Seekers
    Under trump, the administration announced that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start charging asylum-seekers a fee to apply for refuge in the United States.

    The global community created asylum, a legal process that allows someone who feels their life is in danger to seek refuge in safer countries.  This was enacted as a need during the Holocaust.  Asylum laws are supposed to ensure that no one fleeing persecution in their home country is turned away when seeking refuge.

    An officer working for USCIS said “Humanitarian applications by their nature should be free.  The idea of charging people who are fleeing – and not helping if they don’t pay up- is disgusting.”  The U.S. has signed the various treaties governing asylum requests, and it is time for us to uphold our word. 

    Write Biden/Harris and your representatives in Congress encouraging them to develop reasonable strategies, not creating more political footballs.   Contact the head of Department of Homeland Security to overturn this draconian policy
     
  3. ICE and the Detention of Children
    Seemingly lost in the Pandemic and the upcoming election are 120 children ordered by a Federal judge June 26, 2020 to be released within 30 days.  According to the Flores Settlement, a 23 year old class action lawsuit which laid the ground rules for children’s rights held in immigration detention, children cannot be held for more than 20 days. Many children have been detained much longer; 47 children in a Texas facility have been incarcerated for more than 300 days.  Increased cases of Covid among the ICE- held children are “on fire” according to the judge.

    ICE and lawyers representing the children have been unable to agree on how to safely and humanely remove children from custody, which of course, in most cases, means removal from their incarcerated families.  ICE could choose to release entire families to relieve the pain and danger of detention but have chosen not to.   The judge originally gave ICE two options on June 26: release the children to sponsors with parental consent or release the parents and children together.  So far, ICE has refused to release families together.  The judge has admonished ICE for failure to comply with the ruling and find solutions to the problem.

    Write Congress and demand that ICE comply with legal rulings, and above that, act with humanity and above political pressures from uncaring politicians. 
 
February is National Gun Sense Awareness Month
 
We all remember the insane horror of the Sandy Hook, CT massacre of 20 elementary school children, their principal, and 6 teachers December 12, 2012. A lone gunman, 20 years old with an AR-15, 30-round ammunition magazines, a shotgun and two pistols first killed his mother before he proceeded to attack the school.

Since that fateful day, the parents of these slain children along with thousands of volunteers have grown a nationwide grass roots organization to educate and lobby for responsible gun control legislation and other related efforts.

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 bill introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein was defeated 60-40 in the Senate Since then there has been no further gun legislation of this nature. 

If any of these issues are important to you, please visit this website and get involved: 

This is your county also and if we ignore politics from the city and county to the national levels, then this saying applies, “We get the government we deserve.” - Harry S. Truman
Some people don’t look.
Some look, but don’t see.
Some see, but don’t act.
Some people act.
. . . Anon
 
OUR MISSION: 
To connect residents of Henderson County and surrounding areas to civic engagement and activities at the grassroots level.
 
OUR VISION:
The Progressive Alliance of Henderson County (PAHC) compassionately advocates for justice, respect, inclusion and sustainable, healthy communities for all.    


Visit our website for more photos, events, and links to like-minded groups.
The PAHC core leadership group (currently Chris Berg, Nancy & Neil Brown, Lucy Butler, Sheila Clendenning, Laura Miklowitz, Sissy Owen, Vikki Schantz, Virginia Tegel, and Paul Weichselbaum) working together diligently to strengthen our impact, has created mission and vision statements for the group.

Please speak to any of us if you can offer your ideas and time about the future of Henderson County. 
 
Copyright © *2020-2021* *Progressive Alliance of Henderson County*

 






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Progressive Alliance of Henderson County · P.O. Box 192 · Mountain Home, NC 28758 · USA

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