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Friday, 01 November 2013 17:01

A Weekend to Remember

Written by  Mimi Kennedy, Chair, PDA National Advisory Board
Mimi Kennedy and Rep. Loretta Sanchez Mimi Kennedy and Rep. Loretta Sanchez Lou Delgado, Spotlight Photography

PDA leadership converged on Southern California for a weekend gathering October 19-21. California welcomed Andrea Miller, Jeanne Dauray, and Judy Hess—the women leaders of PDA’s National Team—Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, John Nichols and Bob McChesney were showstoppers at our fundraiser featuring their new book, Dollarocracy.

Best of all, PDA founder and Director Tim Carpenter was with us. He flew in directly from the Healthcare-NOW! Conference in Nashville, Tennessee at which he accepted the Marilyn Clement Award for Single Payer advocacy. It was with particular pride he accepted the award named for Marilyn Clement, because her activism goes back in a direct line to Dr. King, and King's resonant message, framed in the speech at Riverside Church, about being a nation that heals instead of sowing violence.

Tim also accepted an honor from the National Priorities Project naming PDA one of the 30 most important progressive political groups in the US. He said when they announced PDA won, the room erupted!

PDA South West Regional Leadership flew in from New Mexico and Arizona for a daylong roundtable strategy session with Tom Hayden on Oct. 21, and for evening events with John Nichols and Robert McChesney.

Saturday night, PDA gathered informally at the home of Shirley Monson, the aunt of media scholar and author Jeff Cohen. Shirley is active in PDA San Fernando Valley (PDASFV). PDA’s Stop Global Warming co-coordinator and local SFV chapter leader Russell Greene was there, along with End Wars and Occupations leader Dorothy Reik and many other PDA activists.

We met in a circle discussion about PDA's work on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) led by PDA IT guru and Deputy National Field Director, Andrea Miller. Kamala Lopez and a team working on a film for the ERA Education Project—a campaign to launch a renewed effort to pass the ERA—also joined us. PDA is supporting this national effort to make the ERA part of the national Constitution upon ratification by 3 additional states. Full equality for women under law is long overdue!

Conor Boylan flew in from Chicago, and California State / Healthcare is a Human Right (Single Payer) Co-Coordinator Dr. Bill Honigman drove up from Orange County for the balance of the events. On Sunday, Paul and Laura Stokes and Bob and Maggie Greenberg flew in from New Mexico. Phil Lopes, Barbara Nios, and Dan O’Neal joined us from Arizona. Dan joined us despite the recent death of his wife Sharon. She will be missed tremendously.

The spiritual presence of departed loved ones surrounded us at Sunday evening’s event, held in the home of Nina and Marc “Bud” Merson. Three weeks ago, Bud died suddenly; Nina had committed to hosting the event and insisted on going forward. The first element of our formal program was Nina invoking Bud’s name and the crowd affirming “Presente!”

Many longtime friends of PDA were with us: great international peace leaders Blasé and Theresa Bonpane; PDLA founder Marcy Winograd; Connect the Dots radio host and PDA Board member Lila Garrett; actor David Clennon; KPFK Pacifica Director Alan Minsky; activists Jim Horowitz and Lisa Smithline; along with friends like Linda Leibovitch, who hosted our June 1 event with Thom Hartmann and Lily Tomlin.

Tom English sang, and Tim Carpenter once more gave a rapid-fire history of progressive successes since our founding, culminating with the shut-down of CA’s nuke plant at San Onofre, our work on the Farm Bill and Food Stamps (SNAP) as well as stopping the missile launch on Syria. He highlighted PDA’s Progressive Round Tables on Capitol Hill that gather union and progressive organization leaders with Congress members and staff each month.

Monday, we gathered at a roundtable of our own in Orange County (OC). We discussed visions of the future—where PDA might be in 5 years; how our finances will sustain us, and similar fundamentals.

Cindy Young and Bill Gallagher from National Nurses United (NNU) updated us on the status of single payer health care in California and the national Robin Hood Tax Campaign. Conor reported on PDA’s Educate Congress letter drops, which demonstrate PDA’s presence on Capitol Hill, and in home districts; activists are hugely amplifying our agenda by this monthly intrusion from the streets into the “suites”.

Tom Hayden gave us a step-by-step chronology of how we progressives achieved a historic victory by messaging “forceful diplomacy” in ways that truly gave Obama a reason to STOP the next war in Syria by going to Congress - as the Constitution requires. We The People got our chance to say No to War - and we did. PDA’s full page Roll Call ad was a powerful piece of the strategy.

That night, Frank Barbaro, former Orange County California Democratic Party Chair, hosted an amazing event. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez was there—she, the woman who broke the right wing GOP choke-hold on OC when she unseated reactionary incumbent Bob Dornan—a victory achieved with the help of a red-headed wunderkind campaigner named Tim Carpenter!

Tom Hayden, John Nichols, and Bob McChesney spoke again, discussing past, present, and future from the progressive view. There wasn’t a complacent mind in the house. As Tim said, this event in Orange County meant most because it was full circle back to where he’d begun in party politics, hatching the Inside/Outside strategy. He was among those who’d first befriended him, been goaded by him, and (eventually) embraced his challenge to the Democratic Party.

Onward!

Mimi Kennedy

Chair, PDA National Advisory Board

Read 3496 times Last modified on Friday, 01 November 2013 22:00

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