- Democrats Dine Out at Kalypso’s in Hunter Mill
- 8th Congressional District Report
- 11th Congressional District Report
- Congressman Gerry Connolly
- McKay for Supervisor Campaign
- Labor Standing Committee
- National Affairs Standing Committee
- Dranesville Report
- Hunter Mill Report
- Lee Report
- Mason Report
- Honor Roll
- Renewal Form
- Mt. Vernon Mardi Gras
- Gerry Connolly’s 17th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Fete
- Hunter Mill Annual Lasagna Dinner
The Democrat has a new Editor! Please welcome Peggy Abrahamson.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rex Simmons, FCDC Chair
The latest craze from the far right is that the average American makes less money than the average government employee. One conservative weekly magazine even called government employees “the new welfare queens.” Tea Party darling Senator Scott Brown asserted federal employees are paid twice as much as private sector workers. A widely circulated newspaper reported that federal workers are paid more than private sector workers in 8 of 10 similar occupations. These claims, and others, are being cited in calls for dramatic cuts in public sector pay and benefits.
What’s wrong with this picture? There are numerous studies that demonstrate just the opposite: Public sector workers, including federal employees, are paid less on average—not more—than private sector counterparts.
The differences in these points of view are centered on several issues. First, when you compare education and experience requirements for many government occupations to the private sector, government employees are actually paid less. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics that advises the President on federal wages every year federal employees make on average 22 percent less than workers in similar private sector jobs. According to a study commissioned by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, state workers typically earn 11 percent less and local workers 12 percent less than private sector workers when experience and education are considered.
Second, there are many government jobs that are not performed in the private sector. There is no private equivalent for the FBI or other law enforcement agencies (security guards and private detectives do not perform the same duties and usually do not carry the same qualifications). Air traffic control is only performed by the government and is a very complex position at the nation’s busier airports. And astronauts only work for NASA (flying the space shuttle is not like a 747, and vice versa). Establishing fair wages is much more difficult for these unique and highly stressful jobs.
Third, government salaries are very compressed. The highest paid federal employee, the President of the United States, makes $400,000 a year (and gets to live in a really cool house). But compare that to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company who is paid tens of millions per year and sometimes significant stock options are included. Virtually every federal executive is underpaid compared with private sector counterparts with similar responsibilities, experience, and education. The 2011 Senior Executive Service pay scale tops out at less than $180,000. Private sector counterparts can make millions. On the other end of the scale, few government jobs pay only minimum wages but there are many of these jobs in the private sector. These differences skew mathematical averages.
Public employees are often asked to sacrifice for the sake of the nation and they often willingly do, but they should not be asked to give up bargaining rights as they are right now in Wisconsin. Public and private unions were established so that employees could negotiate decent pay and benefits for their hard work. Many public employees at all levels have accepted pay freezes, furloughs, and benefit reductions in tough economic times even though raises in good times never seem to match private wage gains. Most public sector employees will stay on the job despite the pay gap because they like the challenges of their positions. But outlandish claims about overpaying government employees simply are not credible and deserve outright dismissal. PolitiFact.com rated Scott Brown’s claim about overpaid federal employees “False” and so should all Americans.
Democrats Dine Out at Kalypso’s in Hunter Mill
Photos courtesy of Michael McKee
8th Congressional District Report
Pixie Bell, 8th CD First Vice Chair
Congratulations to our 8th CD Grass Roots Award winners, Todd Smyth and Bridget Murphy. Each had family and friends there to celebrate with them. In case you have not received your invitation celebrating James P. Moran’s 20 years in Congress, there will be:
What: A Gala to celebrate!
When: March 29 reception 6:30 pm; dinner 7:30 pm
Where: Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, 1250 South Hayes St., Arlington, VA, 22202.
Other details about the Gala: formal attire, individual ticket $1,000, table of 8: $7,500. Contact: Mary Moran, email@example.com or 703-299-0064. Also, save March 19 for Brian Moran’s pancake breakfast for DPVA at T.C. Williams High School cafeteria. Individual ticket $25. Contact: DPVA, 1-800-322-1144.
What has Jim Moran been talking about? He is adamantly opposed to the Republican passed budget. How would Northern Virginia be harmed specifically? Up to 325,000 private sector jobs projected to be lost should this budget become law; 650,000 federal jobs projected to be lost; cuts more than $588 million in federal agency salaries and expenses; eliminates $150 million in annual federal funding for Metro; it calls for a 20% cut to Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts; and a 14% cut in national Head Start funds that could affect over 500 local Head Start children and families.
Jim received a 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters. Jim is the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment Committee. Jim introduced legislation that would put members of Congress and the U.S. president on equal footing with federal employees by preventing them from receiving a paycheck during a shutdown of the federal government. He also noted that the EPA is among the hardest hit agencies under the Republican Continuing Resolution and this will cause real harm to our public health. The programs that would suffer deep cuts were established to protect the future well-being of our population and our environment. The GOP budget is a compilation of rash actions with no regard for consequences to public health, our environment, and ultimately our economy. “I will continue to fight tooth and nail for a responsible budget, one that provides funding for programs that make us stronger, eliminates irresponsible cuts while making reforms that will put our fiscal house in order for the long run.”
11th Congressional District Report
George Burke, 11th CD Chair
We hope Fairfax Democrats will join us on March 6 for the 11th CD Committee’s annual Sturdivant Awards Brunch from 11 am to 1 pm at Vespucci’s Restaurant on Fairfax Boulevard in Fairfax City.
We will be honoring former Braddock District Chair and Democratic activist Walt Mika, blogger and Democratic activist Teddy Goodson of Fairfax City, and former Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Kathleen Seefeldt with our Community Service Awards.
The Sturdivant Award, named after the late John Sturdivant, national president of AFGE and a political fixture in Fairfax, will be awarded to someone from the labor community who is well known to Fairfax Democrats. The name is kept secret until the award is given at the brunch. More information can be found at www.11thdistrictdemocrats.org.
Also, we want to congratulate Ellen Cantor of Fairfax City and Tom and Susan Johnson of Braddock District who were honored at the DPVA weekend in Richmond as the 11th CD’s Grassroots Awards winners. The 11th CD Committee selected Ellen for her two decades of service to FCDC where she has been a fixture and a tremendous asset in the FCDC office, day-in and day-out. Tom and Sue are new to the political scene, first getting involved during the Obama campaign. They caught the Democratic bug and worked tirelessly as volunteers on the Connolly campaign throughout the 2010 election cycle.
From left: Ellen Cantor, George Burke, Susan Johnson and Tom Johnson
11th District Congressman Gerry Connolly was one of the featured speakers at the DPVA’s JJ Dinner, held in mid-February in Richmond. The primary topic of conversation throughout most of the weekend was about who would replace Jim Webb as the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.
As we all know now, Senator Webb, who is a member of the 11th CD Committee, has decided to leave the Senate after a very productive term where he won passage of the new GI bill for veterans and has been the strongest advocate in Congress for our military men and women and their families. We will miss Senator Webb’s service in the Senate, but we are confident there will be more public service (and more books) in his future.
Gerry, along with Congressmen Jim Moran and Bobby Scott and Senators Warner and Webb all suggested in their speeches that former Governor and current DNC Chair Tim Kaine was the best choice to carry the Democratic banner into the 2012 Virginia Senate race. Former Congressmen Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye both attended but didn’t speak at the dinner, but they also told reporters and activists that Kaine was also their first choice. Other names, including Gerry’s and Tom’s, have been mentioned, but the consensus among Democratic leaders and rank-and-file activists is that Tim Kaine is the most formidable and best candidate to face George Allen or whomever the GOP picks as its Senate candidate for 2012.
For his part, Chairman Kaine said he was honored by all of the talk, was discussing the race with his family, and had not yet made a decision.
Also, don’t forget Gerry’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Fete at the Kena Temple, set to begin at 7 pm on March 17.. Maybe you will see Tim there!
And a reminder . . .
On March 6, the 11th Congressional District Democratic Committee will hold its annual brunch to honor the winner of the John Sturdivant Award (this year from Fairfax County) and the Democratic activists who will receive the 11th CD Community Service Awards from Fairfax County, Prince William County, and the City of Fairfax. This year’s brunch will take place once again at Vespucci Restaurant, 10579 Fairfax Boulevard in Fairfax City from 11am to 1 pm. For more information about the 11th CD’s annual Awards Brunch or to RSVP, contact Ginny Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or George Burke at email@example.com.
On March 17, Congressman Gerry Connolly will hold his 17th annual St. Patrick’s Day Fete from 7pm to 9:30pm at the Kena Temple, 9001 Arlington Blvd., in Fairfax. It is just outside the beltway on Route 50. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.actblue.com/page/fete2011. Tickets will be received via email within two business days. For questions or to RSVP and pay at the door, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Connolly campaign office at 703-375-9374.
Congressman Gerry Connolly
George Burke, www.gerryconnolly.com
If anyone ever questions you about why elections count, just show them the budget for the rest of fiscal year 2011 that Republicans passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. It passed shortly before 5 in the morning on a Saturday in mid-February. It did not receive a single Democratic vote and several Republicans broke ranks to oppose it.
The so-called continuing resolution to fund the federal government until September 30 gutted dozens of federal programs, including important funding for schools, early childhood education, assistance to homeless veterans and the poor, the environment, home heating aid to the elderly and disadvantaged, nutrition programs for women, infants, and students, family planning, and PBS and NPR. These are just a few of the cuts in the legislation that would result in the loss of about 800,000 jobs.
Locally, the Republican-passed budget bill stripped out all of the $150 million in federal funding that the Washington Metro system desperately needs for safety improvements and infrastructure upgrades. The $150 million federal payment is supposed to be an annual payment matched by $50 million each from Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. The payments are authorized to be made to Metro each year for 10 years to provide an infusion of capital. Despite the fact that the federal government couldn’t function without Metro — since 40 percent of federal employees commute to work each day on Metro — Republicans zeroed out the money and beat back an amendment offered by Congressman Connolly to restore the funding.
The bill also cut all protections for Chesapeake Bay and eviscerated programs aimed at restoring the Bay to health. The Republicans approved an amendment to the bill that prohibits the federal government from spending one dime to regulate or monitor the environmental effects of mountaintop removal used by mining companies in Virginia and West Virginia to quickly and cheaply mine coal. The practice has devastating effects on the water quality and quality of life in communities near the mining operations.
Among the reductions that directly affect Virginia, the legislation cuts more than $2 million in funding for roads and transit, more than $123 million for Pell Grants for college students, $13.8 million for special education funds for schools, $11.8 million in Title I funding for at- risk kids, and $41 million for Community Development Block Grants, to name just a few of the draconian cuts. A reduction in funding for community health centers could force the closure of 5 such centers in Virginia, including a clinic in Prince William County that served 19,000 patients last year.
By reducing funding for Social Security by $1.7 billion, the Republican-passed budget bill could put benefits for seniors and the disabled at risk.
Needless to say, the cuts included in this bill, pushed by House leadership with newly-elected GOP Tea Party freshmen nipping at their heels, are reckless and must be stopped. I am hopeful that the Senate and President Obama will stop this legislation in its tracks and propose a more responsible approach to budgeting. Republicans in the House are threatening to shut down the government if the Senate and Obama don’t agree to many of the cuts. Hopefully, it won’t come to that, but only time will tell.
On a lighter note, we hope many Fairfax Democrats will join Gerry on March 17 at his annual St. Patrick’s Day Fete at the Kena Temple on Arlington Blvd. in Fairfax. The event begins at 7 pm and you can find out more at www.gerryconnolly.com.
McKay for Supervisor Campaign
As I write this in mid-February, November 8 seems far away. From my years in politics though, first as a loyal Dem working to get Democrats elected and now as an elected official myself, I know that November comes in a blink of an eye.
So—I hope you’ll join me from 2-5 pm on Saturday, March 5 when I kick off my re-election campaign for Lee District Supervisor at the home of Susie Warner at 6229 Edison Drive. Susie has been a Democratic force of nature for as long as I can remember and I am honored that she is opening her home to my campaign announcement.
This is one of the most volatile political climates that I have ever seen and it will take our dedication, hard work, and general plugging away to keep our County board majority, retake the House and hold on to our Senate majority, and make sure that we keep the sheriff and commonwealth attorney positions in Democratic hands. We have great accomplishments and if we get our Democratic message out, we’ll do well. It’s no accident that northern Virginia and Fairfax County have weathered the great recession better than most other areas of the country. We Democrats can take pride in our record of good government, careful planning, and hard work. I look forward to keeping Lee blue and to working hard to support all of our great Democratic candidates.
I hope to see you on March 5. We’ll have lots of great food and drink to get you in the mood for Mardi Gras, good company, and election enthusiasm. Please rsvp to FriendsofJeffMcKay@gmail.com.
Labor Standing Committee
When did our public servants go from being “Heroes” to “Zeroes?”
Those who became fire fighters, law enforcement officers, teachers, and government workers did so knowing they were not going to get rich. They understood governmental fiscal resources are not limitless. They paid taxes just like everyone else is supposed to do.
They entered government service to better the lives of their neighbors and assist their community. At times, they accepted little or no pay raises to receive health care and pensions. Some have to travel from Front Royal and Culpeper because they can’t afford to raise a family in Fairfax County.
These dedicated men and women felt an obligation to help. In return, governments felt an obligation to reward such service with benefits that were found in the private sector.
So, why is it the people who risk their lives extinguishing fires, answered calls for help during month’s rush hour ice-capade, teach our children to be better citizens, and work diligently every day to make our towns, county, and state run well for us are now the reason governments are in deficit?
America’s economy is continuing its slow recovery from the recession that is not the fault of public employees. When the head of Bank of America can receive a multi-million dollar bonus, but a public servant can’t get a mortgage, something is wrong! When the stock market has so rebounded that we are told – but don’t believe – that the Great Recession is over, yet infrastructure continues to crumble because governments can’t afford the workers who could repair it, something is wrong!
Our public servants have done yeoman’s work to make Fairfax County the shining example it is. To members of the Labor Committee, they are the true heroes for coming to work serving the public so well every day.
National Affairs Standing Committee
Sandra J Klassen and Dan Walsch, Co-Chairs. Commentary by J. Jay Volkert, Ph.D.
Can Shareholders Have A Say In Corporate Donations For Political Purposes?
In January of 2010, the Supreme Court in its 5 to 4 decision in the Citizens United case ruled that corporations have the same rights as people with regard to the first amendment rights of free speech, including political donations.
For prior decades, corporations were prohibited from making political donations. This ruling opened up the opportunity for corporations to make anonymous donations to political not-for-profit organizations (527s as they are known). Such organizations can spend these funds in elections without divulging their donors. There are many arguments that can be made against this Supreme Court ruling. However, in the short term, such discussion will not change the court’s holding. Even legislative remedies are unlikely since Republicans will block any attempts to mitigate the impact of the ruling. Therefore, in the next election cycle efforts to push for corporations to voluntarily disclose their donations may be the only option to shed light on the source of these contributions and perhaps limit them.
The consensus of many experts on the impact of Citizens United is that the full consequences of corporate unreported donations has not been realized in the 2010 elections but will be felt in 2012 and beyond. It is clear that Republicans are definitely benefiting more from contributions from new independent groups formed in the wake of Citizens United. The Sunlight Foundation reports that of the groups that do not disclose donor sources of their funding, Republicans receive 6 times the amount of donations over Democrats. In the 2010 election cycle $132.5 million (15% of all federal campaign spending) was channeled through 527’s or through unlimited donations allowed by the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United just over a year ago.
Most publicly-traded corporations do not have openly-disclosed policies on indirect political contributions. A recent study by the Investor Responsibility Research Center found that 86% of the S&P 500 do not have stated policies on indirect political spending via contributions to trade associations and non-profit interest groups. The New York Times reported that $138 million was contributed by secret donors in the 2010 mid-term election with 80% going to Republicans.
With the current composition of the Supreme Court, it is unlikely that Citizens United will be reversed. Legislative remedies exist to address the issue of disclosure of political donations if they can be passed by the Congress. The Disclose Act was introduced into the Congress as a remedy to require public disclosure of corporate political contributions. This issue, like so many in this Congress, became a totally partisan debate with Democrats supporting the issue with 59 votes and losing the cloture vote to bring up the bill for debate by 1 vote. The Shareholder Protection Act was also introduced in the House. This legislation would require shareholder approval before publicly traded companies spend money on political campaigns. At this time no action is planned on the bill and the Republican majority will most likely prevent any vote on this measure.
Shareholder rights, while difficult to exercise, can offer a mechanism to restrain corporations from making anonymous direct contributions to candidates of special interest groups. Shareholder activism does not necessarily require government action.
The problem is not just that shareholders are unwittingly funding corporate political expenditures; but there is no mechanism under corporate securities law for them to register their consent or objection, short of selling their shares. Perhaps the British approach to this issue could be helpful. Great Britain allows shareholders a vote on political spending and lower levels of government can adopt even more stringent controls such as requiring approval of political expenditures by independent directors or requiring super-majority shareholder votes to protect the interests of minority shareholders.
The Disclose Act and Shareholder Protection Act, if passed, could help to mitigate the impact of Citizens United. Corporate Officers would be restrained in spending business funds (profits) on political activity unless it can be directly shown to have benefits for the corporation’s bottom line. Disclosure would also allow voters to consider the political issues associated with large corporate donations channeled through intermediary groups and 527’s.
The Disclose Act and the Shareholder Protection Act could impact the anonymous corporate donations through 527’s allowed by Citizens United. However, passage of these two bills is certainly in doubt with the change to control of the House in the mid-term election. A constitutional amendment is a difficult path with state legislatures and governorships dominantly in the control of Republicans. Not-for-profit, watch-dog groups like the Sunlight Foundation can play a key role in the short term to shine light on these political contributions. Widely held public corporations would likely be cautious about making these donations if they are publicly disclosed. Tightly held corporations and hedge funds are less subject to public scrutiny.
Public opinion is on the side of disclosure. Voters object to the holding in Citizens United by a margin of 4 to 1. One out of every two American households is invested in the stock market, but building awareness among stockholders is difficult. Large institutional investors like state employee pension funds, university endowments, and foundations might have enough clout to send a message to corporate executives that political contributions should be disclosed or restricted in some way. While there is potential for grass roots opposition to anonymous corporate political spending, large institutional investors offer the most promise for having an impact on direct corporate contributions to candidates.
Citizens United changes the rules of the electoral process and enables more money to flow from corporations to candidates that support favorable regulatory and tax policies. This usually means Republicans and incumbents that can deliver businesses the regulatory or tax policies they want get most of the donations. Certainly some Democrats get support from businesses and unions, but the table is tilted in favor of Republicans. With the resources large corporations have, it is easy to see how a million dollar donation made late in a campaign could “buy” a house seat or other close election outcome. Hopefully, shareholder activism can help restrain the undisclosed contributions that can corrupt the political process. There was the movement, we all can remember, to put pressure on South Africa to eliminate apartheid by holding American corporations that invested in South Africa responsible for sustaining apartheid. In that case, activism raised awareness of apartheid and accelerated the change in the South African government.
Shareholder activism may be able to help keep the issue of corporate political donations in the public eye and thereby make it less likely for a board of directors to approve such expenditures.
Ron Bleeker, Chair
The DDDC held a well-attended meeting on Feb. 10 to discuss its plans for the coming year. Among the speakers were three of the prospective candidates for the School Board at-large nomination, as well as current Dranesville School Board member Jane Strauss and Dranesville Supervisor John Foust.
Our next meeting will be on Thursday, April 7 at 7:30 pm at the McLean Government Center.
Hunter Mill Report
Bettina Lawton and Robert Haley, Co-Chairs
The Hunter Mill District Democratic Committee holds its meetings on the 2nd Thursday, 7:30 pm, every month, alternating between locations in Reston and Vienna. Typical meetings include guest speakers, campaign information, and notice of HMDDC events. Recent events in which the Hunter Mill members participated include FCDC Blue Jean Ball, the DPVA Jefferson Jackson Dinner, and the Northern Virginia Democratic Business Council Breakfast. Anticipation is high for the Dems Dining Out at Kalypso’s in Reston’s Lake Anne Plaza. Candidates for the Hunter Mill District endorsement include Marie Allen, Pat Hynes, and Kathleen McKee, making presentations at the February HMDDC meeting. Our next HMDDC meeting will continue emphasis on the Hunter Mill Annual Lasagna Dinner, to be held on Saturday April 2.
The next HMDDC meeting will be held on Thursday March 10, 7:30pm, at the Southgate Community Center in Reston. On Thursday April 14, the HM meeting will be held at the Flint Hill Elementary School in Vienna. Please refer to the Hunter Mill web site calendar at www.huntermilldemocrats.org for other local area political events and to the FCDC web site calendar at www.fairfaxdemocrats.org for Fairfax County wide events.
Steve Bunn and Hugh Robertson, Co-Chairs
Lee District Dems were pleased to hold our January social and meeting at King Street Blues in Kingstowne. Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay was our host for the meeting with drinks and appetizers. It was a great opportunity to get everyone together as we head into the 2011 election cycle. Candidates for school board at-large and Lee District introduced themselves to the group.
Upcoming highlights for Lee District (see our calendar for details at www.LeeDems.org): February 27 – Tamara Kaufax for School Board kickoff (Lee District), and March 5 – Jeff McKay’s 2011 kickoff. Also look for the return of the very popular Sunday morning Coffee & Conversation where Dems just get together to discuss the events of the day at different coffee spots around Lee District.
At the recent Democratic Party of Virginia Jefferson Jackson Weekend, Lee District member Todd Smyth was honored as one of two Grass Roots awards recipients for the 8th Congressional District Democratic Committee.
Rachel Rifkind, Chair
Mason District Democrats met on February 15 and much of the meeting centered on the redistricting that is underway. Supervisor Gross reported on what the timeline looked like and what was in store for Mason District in terms of picking up precincts which we will have to do.
FCDC’s JJ Dinner will be on May 8 at the McLean Hilton. Let’s try to pull together a table or two or three for Mason District. I will be in touch with you about this soon. Also FCDC will be presenting several awards which will be selected from nominations from each of the magisterial district committees.
Norma Jean Young is leading our nominating process this year and would appreciate some suggestions from committee members. Please provide at least 3-5 sentences about why you nominated someone and send them to Norma Jean. All nominations need to be submitted to FCDC by me on April 5. Please provide your nominations to Norma Jean by March 30. Criteria for the awards will be posted on the web site soon. The awards are:
- The Charles Robb Young Leaders Award;
- The Lynda Robb Community Service Award;
- The Outstanding Volunteer of the Year;
- The Outstanding Committee Member of the Year;
- District of the Year.
Congratulations to Scott Pearson (Columbia) on the Committee’s recommendation for membership. A full vote of FCDC will take place on March 22.
The DPVA JJ was this past weekend and DPVA awarded the annual Grass Roots awards. Congratulations to 11th District winners Ellen Canter and Tom and Susan Johnson and 8th District winners Todd Smyth and Bridget Murphy.
We have a lot of work ahead of us this next cycle. We need to continue working in our precincts identifying those Democrats who will come out in November and take us to victory in the many races this fall.
We will meet on March 16 at the Mason District Government Center at 7:30 pm. FCDC will be meeting March 22 at 7:30 pm at Chantilly High School at 4201 Stringfellow Rd, Chantilly, VA 20151.
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The Democrat is a monthly email publication of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. The purpose of The Democrat is to provide information to Committee members and other interested persons through district and committee reports, campaign reports, articles, and fliers. Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the FCDC unless specifically approved by an appropriate committee resolution.
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