Mar 062016
 

by Ann Porter
The centerpiece of Governor John Bel Edwards’s plan to fix the $900 million dollar budget deficit was a “clean penny” increase in the state sales tax. I wasn’t a fan. Sales taxes are regressive and hit poor people harder. Louisiana already has one of the highest sales tax burdens in the country when local and state taxes are combined. But we are in a desperate situation. The Governor explained that he dislikes the option also, but revenue is needed immediately to fix the deficit. Revenue from an increase in income tax rates (which would be preferred) won’t be realized soon enough. An extra penny in state sales tax, combined with some budget cuts and elimination of some tax credits and exemptions, could bring the situation under control.

Now, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) is recommending an ADDITIONAL penny sales tax on top of the one that’s already passed. LABI recommends that this function as a stopgap measure that steps down over time, giving the legislature time to fix the structural problems with our tax code. Conveniently, this would negate the need for business to assume any share of the burden of fixing the problem their cronies and lackies got us into in the first place. Yeah, I’m bitter.

Jan Moller of the Louisiana Budget Project calls this additional penny “a bridge too far.” Moller writes, “Times of crisis call for shared sacrifice. But the deal being offered by big business interests to solve Louisiana’s historic budget shortfall would violate that basic principle by putting too much of the burden on working families that can least absorb a tax increase.”

CALL TO ACTION

We in St. Tammany Parish are in an interesting position in that only two members of our delegation, Paul Hollis and John Schroder, voted for the FIRST penny. Let’s lend our voices to the effort to stop this bailout of big business on the backs of working people. Call your representative TODAY and ask him to vote AGAINST a tax increase. How easy should that be, right?

Representative Scott Simon – District 74 – 985.893.6246
Representative Kevin Pearson – District 76 – 985.646.6487
Representative John Schroder – District 77 – 985.893.6262
Representative Reid Falconer – District 89 – 985.792.5185
Representative Gregory Cromer – District 90 – 985.645.3592
Representative Paul Hollis – District 104 – 985.871.4680

 Posted by at 4:07 pm
Nov 232015
 

On February 19, 2013, just over a thousand days ago, Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, announced on the Jim Engster show that he would be running for governor of Louisiana in 2015. From day one, members of the Northshore Democratic Women’s Club have been front and center, engaging with him on issues, volunteering, and donating to his campaign.

In 2011, the Louisiana Democratic Party fielded no viable statewide candidates. When new state party chair Karen Carter Peterson declared in 2012 that we were taking back the governor’s mansion in 2015, it seemed like a pipe dream. John Bel Edwards entered the race early. He and his whole family worked relentlessly for over two and a half years. By Election Day, the whole country gazed at Louisiana in awe. Was this really happening? Peterson’s bold prediction had come true: we had a Democratic Governor.

John Bel leads a second line through his victory party at the Hotel Monteleone, 11/21/2015.

John Bel leads a second line through his victory party at the Hotel Monteleone, 11/21/2015.

Other great things happened during this election. Louisiana’s two competing teacher’s organizations, the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) combined resources to endorse and campaign for John Bel. JBE’s strong showing in the primary brought in resources from national groups like the Democratic Governors Association, which were deployed to help with voter turnout all over the state. Strong women Democrats – Dr. Eileen Velez in Shreveport, Dr. Brenda Babin in Terrebonne Parish, and Ginger Vidrine in Lake Charles – ran for the Louisiana State House and Senate against terrible and entrenched incumbents. They didn’t win, but they stepped up.

Let’s enjoy this victory for a few days, then get ready to do it again. Qualifying for the St. Tammany Democratic Parish Executive Committee and the Democratic State Central Committee is December 2-4. What’s the job of both of these groups? Elect Democrats! Check the Louisiana Secretary of State’s web site for information about running. Registered Democrats will vote for these representatives on March 5, 2016, the same day we vote for the Democratic nomination for President.

Turning Louisiana purple is a long-term job. We can’t stop now.

 Posted by at 10:40 pm
Feb 052014
 

The St. Tammany Parish Democrat Executive Committee is seeking applications to receive a partial scholarship to attend one of two upcoming area leadership training classes. The deadline to apply for scholarship assistance is Feb. 20.

Leadership St. Tammany is an independent organization affiliated with Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond that provides leadership skills and increases knowledge of St. Tammany Parish with numerous presentations by community leaders. Many of those serving  in elective or non elective positions of parish leadership are graduates of previous Leadership St. Tammany sessions.

Leadership Northshore is sponsored by the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce. Its purpose is to assist in preparing emerging community leaders for positions in local government, business and community affairs.

Both organizations conduct classes covering a wide range of topics for emerging community leaders. “These are excellent programs to help future parish leaders to better understand how government works and how they can get involved to make a difference in their community,” said Keith Villere, chairman of the Democratic committee. “The Democratic Party in St. Tammany Parish is pleased to be able to assist future leaders to actively pursue leadership roles in our parish.”

Those interested in applying for the leadership scholarship should contact the Democratic Parish Executive Committee in care of Villere at sttammanydemocrat@gmail.com or by phone at (985) 893-0408 in order to receive an application. Applications received after Feb. 20 will not be considered for the upcoming classes. The recipient will be announced at the March 10 meeting of the Democratic committee. Each applicant must be a registered voter and a resident of St. Tammany Parish.

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Jan 302014
 

A super PAC backing David Vitter’s run for governor is working behind the scenes to ensure corporate special interests have even greater sway in Louisiana elections by fighting to end the state’s $100,000 limit on individual donations.
“If you think there isn’t nearly enough money in Louisiana politics, then David Vitter is the candidate for you,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “His super PAC lawyers are trying every tactic they can imagine to help Vitter’s corporate special interest donors dump millions into the effort to install him in the governor’s mansion.”

The Fund for Louisiana’s Future, a super PAC run by D.C. lawyer Charlie Spies that is supporting Vitter, petitioned the Louisiana Board of Ethics to rule the state’s $100,000 contribution max unconstitutional, a decision the board declined to take last week. During his remarks to the board, Spies raised the threat of a federal lawsuit and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to be paid by Louisiana taxpayers.

The board responded that Spies should take the issue up with the state legislature and lobby to repeal the law, but lawmakers are unlikely to support such legislation. Fellow Republican state Sen. Jody Amedee told the Times-Picayune, “I cannot imagine why someone would need to donate more than $100,000.”

The Fund for Louisiana’s Future has already raised $1.5 million with the $100,000 limit.

For more information about Vitter’s record, visit www.vitterforgovernor.com.

Thanks to the Louisiana Democratic Party for sharing this information.

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Jan 292014
 

The New Jim Crow Task Force, based at the Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church, is working to reduce the rate of incarceration of Louisiana’s citizens, particularly non-violent offenders.  Northshore Democratic Women’s Club member Bonnie Schmidt is co-facilitator of the group. The task force has been actively meeting and studying the issues behind mass incarceration for over a year. As we reported in this week’s Club newsletter, now they are taking action.

  • Bonnie and others attended a House Committee Informational meeting on January 21 in Baton Rouge on the legalization of marijuana for medical use.  Anita Dugat-Greene wrote a full report on the Task Force’s blog, Equal Justice Louisiana.
  • On Thursday, January 23, the ACLU and the Pelican Institute presented Safe and Fair Louisiana: A Panel Discussion on Criminal Justice Reform. To a crowd of over 200 people at the Abita Springs Town Hall, panelists Marjorie Esman of the ACLU, Kevin Kane of the Pelican Institute, and Judge Ricky Wicker of the Louisiana Sentencing Commission discussed the challenges of reform and how citizens can move the discussion forward.  See Anita’s full report for all the details of this important event.

Congratulations to Bonnie and to Sandra Slifer of the St. Tammany League of Women Voters, who worked together to do such a great job of putting the Abita Springs panel discussion together.

The next meeting of the New Jim Crow Task Force will be on Sunday, February 23. Details will be on our calendar as the event approaches.

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Jan 282014
 

Senator Mary Landrieu has a petition calling on Gov. Bobby Jindal to take the Medicaid Expansion money.  Senator Landrieu says:

Our governor may not like the president, but this is not about the president. It’s about providing health coverage for 240,000 Louisianians who work 40 or 50 hours a week, but still make too little to qualify for assistance in the new marketplace — and too much to qualify for Louisiana’s current Medicaid.

The Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to “opt out” of Medicaid expansion put our most vulnerable citizens at risk. It threw them into a gap in the law that was supposed to provide them with the insurance they need. Bobby Jindal’s politically-motivated refusal to accept the money weakens our state and puts lives at risk.  Thank you, Senator, for standing up for Louisiana’s working poor.

Sign her petition here.

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Jan 152012
 

Pat McCullough, State Director of Obama for America, spoke today to an enthusiastic group of Northshore Democratic Women’s Club members and their guests.  The meeting was open to residents of the parish interested in hearing about the Obama campaign’s goals and plans to retain the White House in 2012.

Ms. McCullough emphasized the importance of a state-by-state approach for the President’s re-election.  “The organizations you build here in 2012 will be the organizations and leaders that turn Louisiana Blue in the future.”

Renee Pitre, spokeswoman for the Northshore Democratic Women’s Club, told Ms. McCullough, “We are here and ready to work!”  Ms. McCullough will be back on the Northshore on Monday, February 6 to conduct Team training for St. Tammany.  The meeting will be held at the regular monthly meeting of Citizens for a Better Community, to be held at 6:30 PM at the Masonic Hall at 2598 4th Street in Slidell.

 

 Posted by at 7:18 pm
Jan 032012
 

By Liz Scott Monaghan

The Northshore Democratic Women’s Club presented a check for $2000 to the Mount Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church Feeding Ministry on Saturday Dec.10.

It was one of the highlights of an unusual event, a launching of the club’s “Cookbook for the Hungry,” which was created solely to benefit the hungry.

Women's club members and guests sample Sweet Potato Bread at launch party for the Club's "Cookbook for the Hungry"

The club has partnered with Mount Olive, and the ministry itself has sold 120 books and  already used those  profits to pay fuel and other bills, feeding ministry director Natasha Woods said.

One of the cookbook’s authors, Ann Porter of Slidell, explained that after the women’s club sponsored  a forum on hunger in St. Tammany Parish in January, club members brainstormed about they could do to help alleviate the problem. The result was the cookbook.

She noted that this isn’t an ordinary community cookbook. It was designed by professional book designer Tina Henderson of Lacombe; edited by humor writer Liz Scott Monaghan of Folsom, and includes good-natured political  pot shots as well as recipes from the club’s skilled cooks.  It also includes directions on planting a vegetable garden, filleting a fish, and a few tips on healthful eating.

The  book launch party,  titled “Hunger Bites” featured tasting of 18 recipes from the book, including several seafood dishes, salads, desserts  and a few  items with quirky names  such as “Undocumented Chili Dip,” “Black Bean and Corn Flip-Flop,”  “Heckuvajob Brownies,”  “Robocall Rice Salad,” and “Wing-Nut Oatmeal Cookies.”

The event’s organizers were Shannon Cockayne of Bush and Alex Wesley-Smith of Lacombe.

Cookbook Contributers and Event Organizers, First row, from left, Shannon Cockayne, Tina Henderson, Linda Hawkins, Dian McIlwain, Alex Wesley-Smith. Second row, from left; Janice Roussel, Joy Roussel, Susan Green, Gail Ledet, Ella Selmon, Ann Porter. Third row: Ann Kirkpatrick, Liz Scott Monaghan, and Nina Helfert.

Mount Olive Feeding Ministry, founded in 1986, currently serves and delivers 350 meals each day, six days per week, a total of nearly 90,000 meals a year. To purchase cookbooks, or to donate funds, contact the Mount Olive Feeding Ministry at 985.641.6026, or order them through OctaviaBooks.com or Amazon.com

 Posted by at 4:24 pm
Jan 212011
 

On Sunday, January 16th, the Northshore Democratic Women’s Club sponsored a forum on the problem of hunger in St. Tammany Parish at Abita Springs Town Hall. The forum was organized by club member Kathy DelCarpio of Pearl River. Kathy led the guided conversation between members of the panel and the community. The conversation was both deep and broad, with a full hour devoted to the structured discussion followed by 45 minutes of questions and answers with the audience.  Over 80 people attended the forum.

Members of the panel were:

  • Dr. Tobey Pitman, ministry strategist for North Shore Baptist Associations.  The North Shore Baptist Associations work with 91 area Baptist churches.  One of Dr. Pitman’s roles is to help those churches with their service missions by helping them understand their communities and engage with them in solutions to the problem of hunger.
  • Ms. Ann Presley, St. Tammany Parish School Board Kids in Transition Program.  The Kids In Transition program works specifically with homeless children, include those in transitional housing, shelters, and “doubled up” with extended family.
  • Mr. John Tobin, St. Tammany Parish Health and Human Services.  The Department of Health and Human Services works with area organizations to identify resources and secure assistance through the private sector.
  • Rev. W.E. Thrasher, Mt. Olive AME Church Feeding Ministry.  The Mt. Olive Feeding Ministry feeds up to 300 people, six days a week, most of whom are shut-in.
Panel Members, Forum on the Problem of Hunger in St. Tammany Parish

Panel Members (L-R) Dr. Tobey Pitman, Ann Presley, Rev. W.E. Thrasher, Kathryne DelCarpio (moderator) and John Tobin

Over the next few days, this web site will post a series of articles summarizing the highlights of the forum.  Future club meetings will be devoted to identifying and implementing actions the club will take to work with organizations in the community to help out.

The St. Tammany News / Slidell Sentry reported on the event.

Panel says Hunger is an Issue in Parish