LAD Minutes 1/06/10

President’s note: a special thanks to our note-taker.  She did a very in-depth job of summarizing the Q&A from Romanoff’s talk.  Please feel free to comment if you feel this is too in depth.  We are typically more “bare bones.”

Regular Meeting of the Members of Longmont Area Democrats was held January 6, 2010 at Front Range Community College, 2190 Miller Drive, Longmont, Colorado, commencing at  7p.m.

The first LAD meeting of the year was in great attendance, about 40 people, despite snowy weather. We started off with a few announcements for upcoming events, and followed with a visit from Andrew Romanoff, candidate for Colorado’s Senate seat. Volunteers from Andrew Romanoff’s campaign were also in attendance, with clipboards for volunteer signup.

With Governor Ritter’s retirement announcement, naturally Andrew was asked if he was interested in running for governor. His response was, “Today is a day to recognize Governor Ritter’s service, not for political speculation…” His focus was on further articulating why he is running for the Senate, covering healthcare, immigration, global warming, regulation, and our economy.

Here are the minutes of LAD’s January 6, 2010 Meeting:

———————————————ANNOUNCEMENTS———————————————–
JANUARY 8, Friday
8:30-9:30 KGNU Radio Call-in Show
Kathy Partridge leading a discussion about the upcoming Heaven Fest event that is currently being proposed to Longmont City Council, and it’s potential impact on Union Reservoir.

JANUARY 12, Tuesday
3rd Annual Open Forum
Longmont City Council Chambers
7 pm
Inviting citizens to communicate their hopes and aspirations for Longmont’s Future
NOTE: Earlier the same day is Longmont’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. at 4pm

JANUARY 13, Wednesday
Democratic Women of Boulder County Luncheon
Spice of Life Event Center located at Flatirons Golf Course
5706 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder
11:30am
Featuring guest speakers candidates Deb Gardner, Matt Jones, and Jake Williams
dw-bc.org

JANUARY 14, Thursday
Immigration Reform Meeting
Las Palmeiras Restaurant
Longmont
6pm

JANUARY 16, Saturday
Andrew Romanoff House Party Fundraiser
Hosted by John Bigger, Judy Bigger and Shari Malloy
810 Megan Ct
Longmont
7pm

JANUARY 27, Wednesday
Screening of the Documentary “Papers”
Vance Brand Auditorium
Skyline High School
Longmont
6pm

FEBRUARY 13, Saturday
Building to Be The Change
Conference covering Healthcare, Climate Change and Ending Corporate Personhood, among other topics.
First Plymouth Congregational Church
Englewood
Registration starts at 11:30
For more information: www.btc-usa.org

CAUCUS IS 2 MONTHS AWAY!
Jonathan announced that there are precincts that need your help. He will send out an email with specific precincts that still need volunteers.

—————————————————ANDREW ROMANOFF————————————————-
Jonathan introduced Andrew Romanoff, citing Andrew’s history and reputation for working across the aisle.

Andrew opened by extending thanks to Governor Ritter and his family for his service and for their sacrifice.

Andrew told the story of a conversation with Gary Hart asking Senator Hart if he was concerned about Democrats fighting amongst themselves. Hart said, “It’s like cats. It sounds like fighting, but they are actually making more cats.”

In 1988, Romanoff was out of work. When Governor Romer lost the election, and lost big, Romanoff lost his job. He spoke to kids in a local school about the experience, to which one young boy asked, “Why don’t you move somewhere, where people agree with you?” (Andrew jokingly said he had the kid suspended)

Romanoff said that he believes most Coloradoans agree upon alot of the same things: Quality of Education, things like making preschool available, ensuring quality teachers by providing training and the proper tools, access to higher education with financial aid and workstudy programs. They believe in Quality Healthcare, Issues about our Environment, improving mass transit, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, etc. All things most Coloradoans agree upon.

But we didn’t elect a majority to support these issues until recently. In fact, in 2004, do you know what Keith King said the #1 problem facing Colorado was? Gay marriage. And King tried to prove his point further by saying if same sex couples were allowed to marry, what was next, a man seeking to marry his horse?

Diverting attention away from the fact that Colorado was facing it’s worst fiscal crisis and child immunization in Colorado fell to 50th in the US, among other serious concerns.

Healthcare: Life and Death is at stake. Told the story of Ely, a young boy who’s mother told Andrew, needed speech therapy to correct a condition. Untreated, the condition had frustrated the boy so fiercely that he started to strike himself repeatedly in the head. In one episode he actually fractured his mother’s nose. But the insurance claims have been denied for treatment, and Ely’s mother has been fighting those claims for nineteen years. While in the legislature, Andrew passed a law that would force insurance companies to give the coverage that clients had paid for.

It is immoral that someone in Colorado will die today. Someone will die tomorrow. We are paying $7000 per person in America, more than two times the cost of what it takes to insure the average person in the rest of the world. Our system is structurally flawed, and it started in WWII when we tethered healthcare to employment. What we need is universal coverage that follows you to your next job.

Too many individuals in Congress lacked the conviction to go against special interests. “We started the negotiation at the 50 yard line.” And they negotiated with a team that had no intention of negotiating (the Republicans). We need all hands on deck, not just one party.

Energy Policy: It is a survival issue, and economics issue. We need to be tapping into brain power and we need to have a national, international committment to this cause, now. But again, money is stifling the progress.

Romanoff then began taking questions from the audience.

Question asked about Colorado’s history of working on a state level healthcare reform.
Answer: In 2006, 24 people produced many proposals for a solution. At first 36 proposals, which were narrowed down to 12, including a single payer plan. The only plan to cover everyone and save money was the single payer plan. Implementing it would not be that easy. 1. Savings came in from lowering premiums offset by taxes raised, and that would have to be put to a vote. 2. People in 2006 were of the thinking that we were on the verge of national reform (just as people thought we were on the verge of national reform when the Clinton’s tried to tackle the problem). 3. There were Federal roadblocks, such as ARISSA. States can’t do this on their own without Federal approval.

As it stands, Colorado has made some progress by insuring 100,000 more people. But Romanoff’s first choice is a national solution, working with the new plan when voted in to make it better (including putting a strong public option back in), as opposed to a hodge podge of different state plans.

Question asked about Afghanistan: Romanoff has no faith in the Karzai government. In the end, we have to the Afghan people a government that is free and democratic, Karzai is neither. We should better use our resources to track down Al Queda–focus on the real threat–rather than trying to change governments.

Question: Do you support a federal mandate for gay marriage?
Answer: It is a civil, universal right. As Democrats we were too slow to embrace civil rights in the 1960s. We are in danger of doing it again.

Question: Will you run for Governor?
Answer: Today is a day to recognize Governor Ritter’s service, not for political speculation.

Question: Given the current bailout and apparent business as usual behavior from the banks and Wall Street, how would you approach serious regulation and transparency?
Answer: I’m not taking money from Wall Street. With $3.4 billion being given to candidates, what is that paying for? “You end up dancing with them that brung ya” Mentioned reintroduction of the Glass-Steagall Act (supported, surprisingly by McCain). Romanoff would do 3 things: 1. Hold violators accountable. 2. If taxpayers are loaning this money we need to know where it’s going and we have to make it easier for small businesses to acquire loans themselves. 3. We need to become more financially literate as consumers.

Question from audience member originally from Alaska, who noticed a complete lack of respect for the Colorado Constitution. In Alaska, the constitution was what it was and it didn’t change. In Colorado everytime there is a new law there has to be an amendment.
Answer: Andrew added that there are more amendments to the Colorado Constitution than any other state outside of Oregon and California. It’s called “parking proposals in the Constitution” to protect someone’s pet project or special interest from legislative interference.

Question about Global Warming.
Answer: Global Warming is the whole ballgame. The debate in Congress hasn’t gone far enough. There should be a carbon tax, so that you pay more on what you burn. Elected officials have admitted their interest in Global Warming is limited and is an issue they’ve chosen to set aside until the next election. Romanoff said we might not be around for the next election. We must address this issue now, in regard to transportation, energy efficiency, green collar jobs.

Question: What is the next area of economic catastrophe?
Answer: Romanoff cited FDR’s quip about Give me a one armed economist. All of my economists say, on one hand…, on the other… (Google search indicates this quote is from Truman, not FDR). The best way to solve the economic crisis is to develop a strong jobs policy putting Americans back to work. Programs like the WPA, CCC, because programs like that build infrastructure and provide jobs. Unfortunately, the Senate killed the proposal for bankruptcy negotiation to avoid foreclosure on primary homes. You can do it for your second home, your vacation home, but not your primary home.

Spoke about Immigration. Romanoff called it the 3rd Rail of Politics. No one wants to touch it. But it is a question of morality because the present system is immoral. We are sending mixed messages. Don’t come here without documentation. But try and die. Complain and you are deported. You enforce your laws or you reform them. Our country would not be what it is without it’s immigrants. We are economically better, culturally better, intellectually better off because of our immigrants. We need to provide a path to citizenship so that people can work and pay taxes as the rest of our citizens do. We need people to lead in immigration reform. Building coalitions are very important. We need 2 parties. The best policy involves both parties.

Question: Isn’t healthcare better reformed (single payer) on the state level? (Secretary believes this was a clever attempt on the part of the audience member to broach the governor question, the audience laughed)
Answer: Not ideal. Better to reform the Federal Plan. Put a strong public option back in. Get senators to return money from insurance companies. (this drew loud applause from the crowd)

Question/Statement: Richard Hansen mentioned the waivers to 2017, an obscure item in the present Senate healthcare reform bill (item 1332) that says states cannot innovate on the Federal bill until 2017. Romanoff was not aware of this item, but seemed to take note of it.

Question/Statement: Audience member stated that migration into our country was because of Nafta, Cafta and the drug wars.
Answer: The best way for America to be a friend to other countries is to use our economic strength to encourage democratic governments in other countries. Encouraging public health, literacy, women’s education, etc. Colorado has one of the highest drug/alcohol addiction rates and is lowest on treatment.

Question: Can you speak to regulation being stepped up?
Answer: Ask yourself what are the intended consequences of watering down regulation. 44% of Congress are millionaires, when only 1% of the population is. Reforming our political system is essential.

This ended Romanoff’s discussion and he was met with loud applause from the audience.

———————————CONDOLENCES——————————-

Jonathan sadly reported the death of Addie, the 4 month old daughter of Amy Mann and her husband Robert Miner. Amy and her son Jacob were tireless workers on the 2008 campaign.

———————————CLOSING REMARKS——————————-

Jonathan closed by mentioning that Al Franken’s Jamie Leigh Jones Amendment was passed(an amendment to the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations bill that will deny taxpayer dollars to defense contractors that restrict their employees’ due process rights. Franken’s amendment said that corporations that bar workers from litigating for sexual assault and other discrimination and civil rights claims would also be barred from receiving government contracts. source: alfranken.com). Unbelievably, 75% of Republicans voted against this bill, but it passed because we have the majority. That’s why we cannot stop our work now. We cannot afford to lose our majority.

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