Jane Knodell

Minutes - February 2014 State Committee Meeting

February 8, 2014; 1:00 pm, 
North End Studios, Burlington
In attendance: Approximately 60 people attended, with another several guest speakers.

Welcome: Emma Mulvaney-Stanak
Emma opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending. She offered up an instant poll for State Committee members to answer a survey question on paper or electronic meeting materials. Those State Committee members without smartphones participated by a raising of hands. Most people indicated a preference to receive materials only electronically. Party leaders will take this into consideration when planning future meetings. Emma also asked people to support the party by becoming a monthly or one-time donor.

Panel: Burlington City Council Update and City Committee Leaders
All four incumbent Progressive City Councilors shared highlights on issues they are working on ranging from climate change initiatives to public safety to transportation (bike/ped issues) to updates on Burlington Telecom. Councilors Max Tracy and Rachel Siegel are up for reelection this March. Max needs help with his council race – volunteer support and financial support – because he is running against a well organized Democrat. Rachel has an opponent, but does not expect a tough race. Councilors Vince Brennan and Jane Knodell are up for reelection in 2015. There is an open seat for City Council in Ward 1 and State Party Vice Chair Selene Colburn is running unopposed for that seat. We expect to have 5 city councilors out of 14 after Town Meeting Day. Democrats currently have 7 seats with a possibility of gaining one more seat. The other two seats are held by Independents. Burlington City Chair Kyle Sillman-Smith and Vice Chair Ali Zipparo shared ways they have reenergized their city committee including regular informal “breakfast club” gatherings, leader recruitment to get more people involved by creating a database of potential leaders to draw from when commissions and boards have openings in the city, and a regular city committee meeting schedule.

Paid Sick Days (PSD) Panel
We were joined by Rep. Cindy Weed, Lindsay DesLauriers from Voices for Vermont’s Children, Cary Brown from the VT Commission on Women, Cecile Reuge from the VT Workers’ Center, and Dan Barlow from VT Businesses for Social Responsibility. Rep. Weed gave an overview of the Paid Sick Days bill in the House and explained it is due for a vote in her committee (House General) next week and could be voted on by the full House as early as mid February. The fight will be whether or not carve outs get added to the bill before it leaves committee. Also the Senate is not as supportive of the bill and the Governor is not a guaranteed supporter either. Lindsay explained the PSD issue from the angle of families/children and gave an overview of PSD history in VT. Cary explained PSD as an issue that relates disproportionately to women because they tend to hold more low-wage, service/retail jobs in VT that tend to not include paid sick leave. She also raised the issue of victims of domestic violence and the challenge of taking leave to heal from acts of violence. Dan explained the business angle and impact on the economy and noted several businesses are supportive of this bill, but several are speaking out and starting to pressure Representatives not to support this bill because it is an added “burden” on businesses. Cecile explained the VWC’s organizing effort to get PSD passed this session and ways people could help.

Emma then asked SC members to take action at the meeting and contact their state representative, senator and the Governor’s office to ask them to support the PSD bill. Legislator contact information was shared and people took time to place calls. We reviewed a list of key legislators who would benefit from being contacted. VPP will send an email action alert to share that list and ask all VPP members to take action on this bill early next week.

Break/Raffle Drawing

Regional Breakouts
The SC membership broke into regional groups to discuss local issues and potential house and senate districts for the VPP to target in the 2014 election cycle. Based on limited numbers from certain parts of the state, we had groups meet together from the Northwest region (Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille Counties), Chittenden/A-R (Chittenden, Addison and Rutland Counties), NEK/Central Vermont, and Southern Vermont.  CoCo members from each region facilitated the conversation. SC members said this was a useful way to break up the meeting. Party leaders will try to find ways to keep conversations going on topics raised in between SC meetings.

Platform Review Committee Update
Ben Eastwood (Montpelier) reported as Chair of the new Platform Review Committee. There is no written procedure on how to set up the process for reviewing the platform beyond formal ways to adopt changes to the platform (state law and VPP bylaws). The CoCo endorsed a process for this round in January. The committee will be appointed by the State Party Chair and limited to 5 members to keep it workable. An attempt will be made to achieve geographic diversity and a mix of new and experienced voices. The committee will also be charged with offering a written recommendation on a procedure to adopt for future platform review work so the Party has a known process going forward. The Chair appointed: Ben Eastwood (Montpelier, Chair of Montpelier Town Committee and Washington County) as Chair, Leslie Matthews (Northfield, former Coco member, SC member), Tim Kipp (Bratteboro, SC member), Cindy Weed (Enosburg Falls, former chair of platform committee last time, State Rep), and Becky Raymond (Middlesex, new Party member). Becky recently resigned from committee, so the Chair will work to fill the vacancy. The committee also has a recent UVM grad working as an intern for the committee.

The process is still being created, but it will include several ways to engage SC members and other Party members in reviewing and offering feedback on the platform. It will also include a very clear set of procedures, including any amendments and the process for voting/debate ahead of the September SC meeting where the SC and town and county chairs will be asked to adopt/reject any changes. The May 31st SC meeting will include a large portion of time on the agenda for platform discussion and input. The committee hopes to have any proposed amendments ready for the CoCo to review in mid July. Questions and feedback can be sent to Ben.

Party Committee Reports
Corey Decker (Enosburg) reported as Chair of the elections committee. Emma reported for Chairs who were absent from the meeting, including Chris Brimmer (organizational development committee), Martha Abbott (fundraising committee), and the communications committee (who are in need of a new Chair). All committees are looking for volunteers. Here is a description of each committee’s charge:

Fundraising Committee
Committee will develop an annual fundraising plan for the Party, oversee fundraising appeals to Party members (initial ask, follow up ask, etc.), revamp fundraising strategies used by the Party in the past, assist staff with development of appeals (letters, online, etc.), assist staff with organizing fundraising events (small), train Coco members and other Party leaders on how to effectively fundraise, and plan an annual major fundraising event for the Party.

Elections Committee
Committee will develop and conduct campaign trainings for candidates, campaign managers, and campaign volunteers during the 2014 election cycle (build capacity of party to run strong campaigns). The committee will also assist Party leaders and staff in recruiting candidates to run in the 2014 election cycle and assist the CoCo and State Committee in any Party endorsement process for the 2014 election. The committee will also support Burlington City Council campaigns as necessary (Jan-March 2014).

Communications Committee
Committee will develop a communications strategy for the Party, assist staff with press releases for the Party, assist staff with social media and blog postings, review the website for relevant content, and help advance the 2014 special project - corporate campaign donations petition. The committee will also help staff and the CoCo work on branding and promoting the party on a statewide level (messaging).

Organizational Development Committee
Committee will assist CoCo in doing quarterly outreach (to increase attendance) to the state committee members for quarterly meetings, develop "on-ramp" events for new Party members to get involved in Party outside state committee meetings, and examine more ways for the Party to involve new members (on the ground engagement and promotion of Party). The committee will also work with Chair ahead of state committee meetings to develop state committee agenda items that will spark engagement by members (and ideally attendance!).

Legislative Update
Rep. Chris Pearson and Rep. Cindy Weed gave a brief update from the Legislature. The conversation focused mainly on the health care policy debate and the road to single payer (or not) based on the roll out of the state exchange and new rules facing Vermonters without health insurance and employers who do not currently offer insurance.

Submitted by Chris Brimmer, Secretary 2/20/14

Press Release: Progressive Party Statement on Burlington City Progressive Caucus

On Sunday evening, over fifty Burlington Progressives gathered at the East Avenue Co-housing to endorse candidates for the 2014 Town Meeting Day election.  In addition to endorsing candidates, those gathered heard about March ballot items, redistricting, Moran Plant redevelopment, and more from currently elected Burlington Progressive City Councilors Vince Brennan, Jane Knodell, Rachel Siegel, and Max Tracy.

Burlington Progressives then broke into Ward Caucuses to discuss and vote on endorsements.  The Ward 1 Caucus endorsed Selene Colburn for City Council and Emma Rosenzweig for Inspector of Elections.  The Ward 2 Caucus endorsed Max Tracy for City Council and Wendy Coe for Ward Clerk.  The Ward 3 Caucus endorsed Rachel Siegel for City Council.

Burlington City Progressive Party Chair Kyle Silliman-Smith had this to say:

“Progressives in Burlington are excited and ready to once again expand our numbers on the Burlington City Council this March. Councilors Max Tracy in Ward 2 and Rachel Siegel in Ward 3, along with Ward 1 Council candidate Selene Colburn, received the overwhelming support of their Ward Caucuses tonight because they truly represent the values of the Progressive Party and of the people of Burlington.  Clearly the future is bright for both the party and the city with such great candidates to represent us.”

2013 Statewide Convention - Proposed Agenda

Annual Convention and State Committee Meeting
November 9, 2013; 1:00 pm
Capital City Grange, Berlin

CONVENTION (1:00 PM)     

Welcome: Martha Abbott (10 minutes)

A special video message: Prof. Bill McKibben (15 minutes)

Divesting from the Fossil Fuel Industry: 350.org & Student Activists (40 minutes)

CoCo Updates: Coordinating Committee Members (20 minutes)

Corporate Donations Petition Update: Robert Millar (10 minutes)

Break/Raffle Drawing (30 minutes)

Town Meeting Resolutions: Martha Abbott (10 minutes)

Notes from the Auditor’s Office: State Auditor Doug Hoffer (20 minutes)

Legislative Priorities for 2014: Progressive Legislators (30 minutes)

STATE COMMITTEE ACTIONS: Robert Millar (30 minutes)
     *Election of Officers & Coordinating Committee
     *Discussion: CoCo Subcommittees

Closing: Martha Abbott (5 minutes)

Progressives on the Rise

Dear Friends -

It may soon be even more difficult to compete in Vermont elections.  Under pressure from Democratic and Republican Party operatives, Legislators recently made changes to a formerly promising campaign finance bill that would more than double what statewide candidates can raise from a single source, and triple what political parties can raise.  Democrats and Republicans are attempting to use Legislators’ legitimate fear of what “Super PACs” might do in future elections to convince them they should be allowed to raise more money, that the solution to the flood of money in our elections is even more money.

As you and I know, we are not going to overcome the Super PACs and corporate interests by throwing more money into our elections.  Allowing the corporate-funded parties and their candidates to accept even more money from the likes of Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, AT&T, and HP (all actual donors to the VDP last cycle), doesn’t fix the problem, it exacerbates it.  Please join me in calling on the Legislature to stand strong and pass a bill that will help rein in election spending, rather than increase it.  If you live in Vermont, find how to contact your State Legislators here, or you can leave a message for them by calling the Sergeant-At-Arms at 802-828-2228.

Update from Burlington: Over thirty-two years since Burlington first elected Bernie Sanders Mayor in 1981, the Progressive spirit is alive and flourishing in Vermont’s Queen City!  On Town Meeting Day last week, Progressive Jane Knodell was elected in Ward 2 and Progressive Vince Brennan was reelected in Ward 3, bringing Progressives’ total on the City Council to four.  Democrats were held to seven Councilors and, in a result reminiscent of November’s results, Republicans lost the only race they contested, leaving them with just one member on the Council.

Once again, Progressives continue to be on the rise in Vermont, even as the Vermont Republican Party continues its decline.  But these wins did not come easily last week in Burlington.  It takes a lot of resources to run the kind of strong, grassroots campaign needed to take on the Democratic machine and win.  And we can’t do it without your help!  Have you considered becoming a monthly donor to the Vermont Progressive Party?  Becoming a monthly donor is the best way to ensure our people-powered party has the resources to stand strong against the corporate-funded parties, but any contribution is very much appreciated.

Finally, I want to make sure you are aware of an upcoming event.  On Saturday, March 16th at 10:00 am at Montpelier High School, Senator Bernie Sanders (who has sure come a long way since he was Mayor of Burlington!) will be holding a Conference on Global Warming, featuring Environmental Activist Bill McKibben as the Keynote Speaker.  You can learn more about the event here.

Thank you for all you do,

Robert Millar
Executive Director


Legislative Update: Prohibition Has Failed
by Rep. Susan Davis

It's been nearly a century since Vermont first prohibited marijuana in 1915. It hasn't worked and it's time for a new approach.

Just like alcohol prohibition, marijuana prohibition does not eliminate the use of the product and simply steers all of the profits to the underground market. Given the fact that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, it is time we have it produced and sold in a legitimate, regulated market.

Regulating marijuana like alcohol and allowing the production of industrial hemp would create hundreds of new, legal jobs and generate business for a variety of other Vermont industries.


Legislative Update: Weekly Update
by Rep. Cindy Weed

Town meeting week signifies the traditional halfway mark of the legislative session in Montpelier. Typically, the first year of the biennium starts off slowly, as committees get used to new members and each other, and begin the work of taking testimony on and passing a variety of bills out of committee. Last week was the deadline to submit any and all bills. In total, approximately 500 bills will be introduced in the House and half that amount in the Senate. Naturally, with a part-time legislature, many will not get attention and literally die on the wall. Next year we will start all over again creating and introducing new bills.


In the Media: Vermont Democrats Want More Money in Politics
by Paul Heintz

On Wednesday, they settled on a fivefold increase for statewide candidates, allowing them to collect $10,000 checks from each donor. But after Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) protested, on Thursday, the committee scaled that back to $5000.

“There’s no reason why anybody should give $10,000 to a political campaign,” Pollina argued to his fellow committee members.


In the Media: Balance shifts in Burlington Council makeup
by Joel Banner Baird

Until the final vote count, Knodell said later, "I didn’t know if I was the underdog or not in this race. Both sides wanted it bad."

She credited a "classic, Progressive grassroots campaign" with her victory.


Balance shifts in Burlington Council makeup

March 5, 2013; Joel Banner Baird; Burlington Free Press

The evening’s closest race took place in the Old North End’s Ward 2, where veteran Progressive (and former councilor) Jane Knodell beat political newcomer Emily Lee, a Democrat, 269-243 — a mere 26 votes.

Until the final vote count, Knodell said later, “I didn’t know if I was the underdog or not in this race. Both sides wanted it bad.”

She credited a “classic, Progressive grassroots campaign” with her victory.

Read the whole article >>

Letter to the Editor: Ward 2 should elect Knodell

March 1, 2013; Martha Abbott; Burlington Free Press

What makes Burlington a special place? In the 1960’s, Burlington was divided into the working class and poor or the upper middle class and wealthy. College students all lived on campus. There were a couple of non-profit organizations like the Sara Holbrook Center and the Lund home and the Salvation Army. There was no Land Trust, no homeless shelters.

In the 70s and 80s things changed. Students starting living off campus. Many graduated and made Burlington their home. People with alternative lifestyles moved to Burlington and integrated themselves into downtown and the Old North End of Burlington.

We started the Burlington Land Trust (now the Champlain Housing Trust), the People’s Free Clinic (now the Community Health Center), People Acting for Change Together which started homeless shelters and eventually morphed into COTS, Women Against Rape, the Women’s House of Transition (now Women Helping Battered Women), Peace and Justice Center and many other initiatives.

In 1981 a young alternative politician by the name of Bernie Sanders was elected mayor. Affordable housing and livable wages, women and minority owned businesses, inclusionary zoning, the idea of merging public policy and non profit missions to create community and economic development was born and flourished.

This is a quick history of how Burlington became the unique and special place that it is today. Now we see a new group of people moving into Burlington, running for office and putting forth ideas to develop the public waterfront for private gain, to develop expensive housing, to make exceptions to our livable wage ordinance for selective private business interests located in our public projects.

What makes Burlington special is its economic diversity. Families of modest means living next to students on their way up the economic ladder next to a family with substantial resources side by side with retirees living in the same neighborhood. In order to preserve this fragile balance which makes Burlington such a special place, our leaders must understand and appreciate it.

Jane Knodell is an economist who has chosen to live in the Old North End for 24 years because she wants to participate in an economically diverse community. Tough decisions are being made about Burlington’s future. As a former City Councilor myself, and Burlington business owner and someone who has lived in the Old North End in two different decades, I urge Ward Two residents to elect Jane Knodell on March 5.

Read the original article >>

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