From coast to coast, PDA has been helping to lead the stop “Fast Track” / anti-TPP effort. Many PDAers attended rallies across the country speaking out against “Fast Track”. Mike Hersh helped lead constituents in Maryland engaging House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s staff at the Greenbelt district office and under the Capitol Dome. He also helped bring together activists to meet House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen on the Hill. PDA Field Director Judy Hess helped lead similar actions in California. Deputy Director Conor Boylan joined Issue Team Coordinator Jeanne Marie Dauray engaging Congress members in Illinois, while Mike “Phone Guy” Fox worked the issue in Florida, and Tim Carpenter organized in Massachusetts.
Kurt Bateman and Dr. Bill Honigman continued coordinating our struggle to have the United States recognize healthcare as a human right. They helped mobilize PDA’s fight for H.R. 676—John Conyers’ Single Payer Bill—as well as the Bernie Sanders/Jim McDermott Single Payer bills, and kept us engaged with state single payer efforts from Vermont to California and many places in between.
Our Stop Global Warming / Environmental Issues Team—coordinated by Russell Greene, James Handley, and Barbara Warren—helped orga nize PDA’s work opposing Fracking, the Keystone Pipeline, and other attacks on our environment. They’ve held regular calls, and recommended effective legislation for our Educate Congress campaign. Russell and Jim spoke at Round Tables, and helped with both policy and outreach as we’ve participated in ongoing coalition efforts.
PDA’s Election Integrity work continued, with Andrea Miller hosting a call discussing our efforts supporting HR 12, the Voter Empowerment Act. Andrea had to step up because our good friend and leader of our Election Integrity Issue Team, Randall Holmes, suffered a stroke and was involved in a serious car accident Wed. Jan.22, putting him in intensive care in a Phoenix hospital. The PDA family is sending good thoughts and prayers his way as of this writing. Andrea also continued to coordinate our End Mass Criminalization organizing, and our ERA 3-State Strategy work, as she has for several months.
In February, PDA’s End Wars and Occupations Team and Florida PDA brought our Board Member and co-founder of Code Pink, Women For Peace Medea Benjamin to the Sunshine State. Code Pink are known for speaking out at Congressional hearings, marching in the streets, talking to the media, and visiting battle zones to shine a bright light on war crimes.
Medea had just returned from the peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland where Code Pink conveyed the voices of Syrian women and their desperate need for an immediate ceasefire. Medea met with PDA-Miami to discuss and plan for the rest of 2014: How can we leverage small steps for peace in Syria and diplomacy with Iran to build a stronger, more effective peace movement and work for a more peaceful future. We dropped letters again in February, and joined with a large coalition demanding an end to National Security Agency (NSA) domestic spying. The Congressional Progressive Caucus invited PDA to join them at the Progressive Congress Strategy Summit in Philadelphia. There, they honored our teamwork by naming Tim “Advocate of the Year.”
CPC Co-Chair Rep. Ellison wrote to PDA’s base, thanking us for our hard work and explaining why he agreed to join our National Advisory Board: “You can’t get big things done for working families without a lot of help." He added, "I work with a lot of great activist groups and PDA is one of the best [because] PDA aggressively organizes around issues that matter to progressives through fast-growing ‘letter drops’ and monthly PDA Roundtables, which connect activists to members and congressional staff.” Rep. Ellison recognized, “Tim [Carpenter] and his team are key allies in our work to create more economic opportunity for working families. When I introduced the Inclusive Prosperity Act, a financial transaction tax to curb financial speculation and invest in creating good jobs, PDA was there to spread the word and organize. PDA has proved over and over their commitment to making a big difference with a small budget. I still remember the impact of ‘Progressive Central’ at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.That’s why I’m pleased to announce I will be joining the PDA’s Advisory Board.”
We closed out February with our now-annual leadership gathering in Winslow, reviewing PDA’s efforts over the last 10 years, and planning to do even better over the next 10 years—an effort that starts now!