Author Archives: Golda Velez

Thankful to have Raúl in the Fight

Ok, it’s a little late for Thanksgiving.  But I was too busy cooking to give thanks properly, and to do it properly I have to tell you a story.  Last week, I wrote about a Mexican man I met in South Tucson who wanted to build a wall, and why I feel like we have to address even misguided concerns.

This week, let me tell you about a different Mexican man in South Tucson, one who invited me in when I knocked on the door with my campaign lit.  He sat me down in his kitchen, and talked about respect.  About how he works hard, pays his insurance, cleans not only his home but the public areas in his complex on weekends.  How his daughter started a company that employs many people.  How he sends washers and dryers down south of the border to anyone who needs them.  And he asked, even with all that he does, why is he not respected in this country?  Why are other families who work hard and just want to build a life targeted by deportation?

We talked a while, and I brought the conversation around to this election.  He was frustrated – he told me, ‘I voted, I voted for Obama – and what good did it do?’  He was disgusted with the deportations that happened under the Obama administration, and wasn’t sure he could bring himself to hope and vote Democrat again.  I spread out the literature, including Raul’s piece – you know, the one that said: “It’s not the Dog in the Fight, its the Fight in the Dog.”  I love that one.  And as soon as he saw Raul’s photo, he stopped and said – he helped me, he helped my wife.  When she needed some documentation from a government agency, Raul’s staff got on the phone and made it happen.

Then he looked a little sheepish.  He had been so disgusted, that he’d thrown out his ballot.  But he told me, that because I’d come and we’d talked, that he’d call the number and get another one.  And the next week, it happened I drew his complex again on my walk list, and I met his wife.  She had the new ballot in an envelope on the counter, ready to go out.  But if it hadn’t been for Raul really doing his job, going the extra mile, that might not have happened.

Outstanding constituent service

Raul Grijalva’s office got the first ever Outstanding Constituent Service award for a reason.  Whenever I get frustrated trying to get thru to McSally’s staff on something important, I call Raul’s office, and lead with “Hi, I’m not in your district anymore, but…”  and get an email contact with a staffer who genuinely tries to help, and will engage in a conversation over email.  If you’ve ever tried to lobby Congress, you know how rare that is – usually “I’ll tell them your concern” is the first line of defense, and even if you breach that wall the best most offices will do is let you leave a voice mail for a named staffer.  I was disappointed right now with Sinema’s people, who are using “in transition” as an excuse apparently until January – hopefully, that will change.  But Raul is always on it.

I’ve asked him for help with monks being shot in Myanmar back when we were trying to get Aung San Suu Kyi free (and before she backed killing the Rohingya).  Raul co-sponsored the no blood rubies bill.  I’ve buttonholed him in Epic Cafe about animal rights and the size of chicken cages, and he listened and gave me a staff member to contact.  A neighbor asked him for help when his son was hurt on leave after two tours in Iraq, and his staff met in person with him to see what could be done.   Raul has the back of everyone fighting for the right thing, and I hope we have his when it comes down to it.

Thanks, Raúl.

After the Midterms: The Brave Path

We won the midterms. I’m sure many readers shared the sense of visceral relief when it became clear that we at least had the House, that the slide to authoritarianism could be stopped. And then the joy that Krysten Sinema and Katie Hobbs won key statewide victories, the validation of knocking on one more door, writing one more postcard. A crisis situation has the benefit of clarity, that strength of fighting for the very survival of our democracy. Similarly, a clear enemy, someone so horrible or just plain mean that fighting them is a no-brainer, is oddly relaxing. But fighting, even winning, doesn’t always solve the problems — or even address the weaknesses that enemy was exploiting.

Fighting the wave of outright racism, voter suppression, possible cheating and fearmongering in the midterm elections definitely felt like a crisis to me, and walking precincts and talking to voters was a satisfying way to deal with it. Some things those voters said, though, reminded me that there’s more to the story.

A Mexican man in south Tucson told me that though he voted for Democrats, he was for a wall. One of my writing volunteers in El Paso told me that although everyone hated the child separations and despised the tent cities, they also felt strongly about waiting your turn and resented some of the asylum seekers. Another Democrat refused to support our candidate for Governor, not because he was opposed to the wall but because the voter thought he didn’t communicate a clear alternative solution. There was a sense among some voters of yes, they are awful, but what exactly are we going to do? What is the plan?

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Countdown: What Are the Most Effective Things To Do?

Did you know that ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ was a slogan of the British in 1939?  And we are not even being bombed here, so surely we can do the same.

This post is of the no-frills variety.  I know almost all readers of this post are already doing a lot – thank you for that!  Having a central list of the most effective things will let us share notes, as there is no time to lose.  Here is what I have.  Please add what you think is most effective with links or info.

  1. Canvas.  https://events.mobilizeamerica.io
    The last weekend before the election is especially important.
  2. Call.  We all hate to make calls.  Do it anyway.
  3. Postcard.  Handwritten postcards are statistically shown to increase voter turnout.  http://postcardstovoters.org  will give you national ones, or get local addresses from a campaign.  Sharon Girard’s campaign (LD8) will give you addresses if you ask mcarroll@pobox.com. Campaigns – give me your email to request postcard addresses and I will add it here!  Postcard parties with friends are a fun and relaxing way to help.
  4. Check on your friendshttp://votewithme.us is a very quick way to check your contacts to see if they have voted.
  5. Donate what you can afford.
  6. Drive voters to the polls on election day.  In Tucson the action will start at 6AM and continue until polls close.  Location TBD, check back here for updates or call the coordinated campaign (602) 298-4200.
  7. Write Letters to the Editor.  Write in sKeep Calm and Carry Onupport of our candidates.  Highlight specific issues you care about.  Reach the people who are not on social media!  Here are 10 letter to the editor pages in Arizona.
  8. Hand out Flyers on College Campuses.  Many students do not know that they can vote early right on campus.  Here is a flyer for the University of Arizona.
  9. Canvas anytime, anywhere with the Minivan 7 app.  Contact your Indivisible rep or golda@civ.works for the codes.  See how we snuck canvas in twice?
  10. Social Media is probably not the most effective thing at this point, but when you only have a little time it is there.  Sometimes I find potential voters asking where to vote, or if their identification has to match the address where they are registered, etc.  Also you can share this list 🙂

 

 

 

 

Martha McSally and the Vulture Capitalist: not a bedtime story

Vulture capitalist Paul Singer

Vulture capitalist Paul Singer made huge profits attacking miners dying of asbestos exposure. He donated heavily to Martha McSally’s campaign.

“Follow the Money” a phrase popularized after Watergate, has never been more true than today.  Some are blatant about it, as Trump on Saudi Arabia: “They spend $40 million, $50 million….Am I supposed to dislike them?”

Martha McSally would probably prefer to keep her big money connections quiet. When she first ran for Congress in 2016, she received over $100,000 from an innocent-sounding PAC called Winning Women.  This was over one-third of her entire budget during that critical quarter.  As reported on this blog, Winning Women is funded largely by vulture capitalist Paul Singer.

What does it mean to be a Vulture Capitalist?  In the case of Paul Singer, it meant that he made huge profits attacking miners dying of asbestos exposure and seizing money meant to address a cholera epidemic in the Congo.  You can’t make this stuff up.  Investigative journalist Greg Palast, author of Vulture’s Picnic, has researched this deeply.  He explains:

Singer’s modus operandi is to find some forgotten tiny debt owed by a very poor nation (Peru and Congo were on his menu). He waits for the United States and European taxpayers to forgive the poor nations’ debts, then waits at bit longer for offers of food aid, medicine and investment loans. Then Singer pounces, legally grabbing at every resource and all the money going to the desperate country. Trade stops, funds freeze and an entire economy is effectively held hostage.

Singer then demands aid-giving nations pay monstrous ransoms to let trade resume. At BBC TV’s Newsnight, we learned that Singer demanded $400 million dollars from the Congo for a debt he picked up for less than $10 million. If he doesn’t get his 4,000 percent profit, he can effectively starve the nation. I don’t mean that figuratively – I mean starve as in no food. In Congo-Brazzaville last year, one-fourth of all deaths of children under five were caused by malnutrition. (as of Oct 2011)

Recently, former United Nations envoy Winston Tubman suggested I ask Singer or his business associates, “Do you know you’re causing babies to die?”

 

The key is, that Singer depends on finding a jurisdiction that will allow his legal maneuvers to put his claims before those of the population, so having lawmakers on his side is important to his business model.

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Domingo DeGrazia, LD10 House Candidate, Vows to Improve Child Welfare

Democrat Domingo DeGrazia is a multi-faceted, charismatic and passionate candidate who is taking on Todd Clodfelter in LD10.  He describes his life’s work in terms of helping kids and families as a child welfare advocate in the legal system. Frustrations with that system have finally driven him into politics, so he can try writing the laws instead of contending with them. He is also the son of artist Ted DeGrazia of the Gallery of the Sun – perhaps why he took up the guitar. 

Domingo DeGrazia may be a first-time politician, but he is a dead serious one.

“I come from working for families against the state of Arizona, going up against the attorney general.  I know what it’s like to be in a fight against an opponent that has more resources, dug in harder. So tell me I’m walking into a fight where I’m in the minority working for the little guy, I’m completely ok with that.  That’s what I do.”

This is a good mindset for someone running for the Arizona legislature.  

DeGrazia has seen firsthand the pain caused by the budget cuts made in 2008 to the child welfare system. He’s fought cases for years as a trial attorney, then moved into appellate law to try to find a bigger lever for change.  Then 2016 happened. And he decided the only thing to do now, was to run for the Arizona legislature.

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