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ALLIANCE FOR

DEMOCRACY 2009 in review


It might feel like 2009 was the year of the alert,
especially the single payer health care email alert—and yes, we sent out a lot of
them, but while single payer was a big part of our work over the past year, it was
not the only item on the agenda. State-level campaigns took on water
privatization, globalization, and democratization of energy, while chapters were
busy with outreach, organizing and networking against corporate rule in a variety
of forms. Read on for a wrap-up of this year’s work, and a look ahead at 2010.

WINTER…
The Alliance for Democracy joined the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed
Health Care, a national coalition of organizations promoting single payer health AfD office manager Barbara Clancy
care and passage of HR 676, the single payer bill authored by Rep. John and family demonstrate at a health
Conyers (D-MI). Our blog became a go-to source for information on the benefits care summit in Vermont
of a single payer system, as well as updates on actions in DC and nationwide.

Both national council and “rank and file” members stepped up their work on state-level single payer initiatives too.
In Massachusetts, the North Bridge Alliance Chapter joined the Mass-Care Coalition, to work for single payer
there, and members in several towns began screening the documentary “Health, Money, and Fear” on community
access cable stations through AfD’s “Other Voices” media project. AfD co-chair Lou Hammann was active in
Pennsylvania’s single payer movement, and Peter Mott, a doctor as well as AfD secretary, wrote the brochure
“Health Care Truths and Myths” for the Interfaith Health Care Coalition of the Greater Rochester Community of
Churches. AfD and Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP) posted the brochure online and shared it with
other groups. And our “Congressional Visit How-To Kit” was posted to our blog (afd-e-news.blogspot.com) as part
of a push to get members to promote single payer health care over the February Congressional recess. We also
called on members to support “White Coats to the White House,” a push to get members of Physicians for a
National Health Plan invited to a White House Summit on Health Care. Thanks to a flood of calls and emails, Rep.
John Conyers, author of HR 676, and PNHP president Dr. Oliver Fein received 11th hour invitations.

Project Censored pegged the Security and Prosperity Partnership at #2 on their annual list of “Top 25 Censored
Stories.” AfD is one of the few progressive US groups working with Canadian and Mexican organizations to focus
attention on SPP’s potential privatization of resources and transportation, and militarization of the border. See the
AfD website for background information and updates.

The winter issue of Justice Rising focused on “Money for People Not Corporate Profit,” a timely topic as unem-
ployment, hunger and homelessness began a steady rise in the wake of the Wall Street bailout. This issue, available
at the AfD website, featured articles by Luke Allen, Ruth Caplan, John Cobb Jr., Chuck Collins, Herman Daly, Jan
Edwards, Naomi Klein, David Korten, Bill Meyers, Emily Posner, and Jim Tarbell. Jim and Ruth were co-editors.

The Portland (OR) AfD Chapter successfully co-sponsored and co-organized


an Economic Town Hall on the economic crisis attended by over 800 people.
Delivering the keynote talks were Marty Hart-Landsberg, economic professor at
Lewis and Clark College and Veronica Dujan, sociology professor at Portland
State University. Those talks were followed by about a dozen workshops,
including including one on building democracy led by AfD Portland President
David Delk.

In February, David Korten was a guest on “Corporations and Democracy,” a


In the studio with “Corporations radio show hosted by Mendocino and Ukiah Valley AfD members and
and Democracy,” a bi-monthly broadcast on local public radio station KZYX & Z FM.
radio show hosted by AfD’ers in
California
Ruth Caplan, campaign coordinator for AfD's Defending Water for Life campaign and the co-chair of the
Corporate Globalization/Positive Alternatives Campaign was interviewed for “Tapped,” a new feature-length
documentary on the social and ecological harms of the bottled water industry. In Maine, campaign organizer Emily
Posner worked with a new community group, POWWR (Protecting our Water and Wildlife Resources), to get
Nestlé off state and town land in the towns of Shapleigh and Newfield. Victories came later in the year as the
company removed test wells from a local state wildlife preserve, and Shapleigh residents decisively voted down a
Nestlé proposal to test, pump and sell local water. For more information on what’s going on with Maine’s water,
see the campaign website at www.defendingwaterinmaine.org.

SPRING…
The Portland (OR) AfD Chapter was one of many groups rallying
in Salem OR in March for an end to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as
well as an end to the overseas deployment of the Oregon National
Guard. Later that month, the chapter hosted a talk by Andrew
Nikiforuk, the author of Tar Sands, Dirty Oil and the Future of a
Continent. He spoke on Canada's emerging role as the US's largest
foreign oil supplier—of mostly tar sand oil—and the environmental
and economic impacts of its production as we approach “peak oil.”
Portland also helped organize a panel on health care reform with Dr.
Mike Huntington, of Physicians for a National Health Program, and
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, whose record of support for single payer was
dismal enough to earn him a visit later in the spring by chapter Oregon AfD members march for peace
activists, who participated in a 22-minute “die in” at his district
office.

Southern New England AfD members, as well as members of other local progressive organizations, met at the
Walker Center in Newton for a day-long conference on “Maintaining Democracy: Undermining the Corporate
Agenda from the Bottom Up,” organized by national council member Ruth Weizenbaum. Presenters discussed
building community and regional democratic initiatives around the environment, peace, media and health care, and
how we can re-tool governance to increase the potential for community involvement. Participants in the AfD
“Other Voices” media campaign were honored and two local radio hosts, Stan Robinson of WZBC's “Truth and
Justice Radio” and John Grebe of “Sounds of Dissent” shared their perspectives on alternatives to the corporate
media and what the trivialization of corporate news coverage means for democracy.

Alliance for Democracy co-chair Nancy Price organized member outreach to California AfD’ers in support of
two bills, AB 1242, the Human Right to Water Act, and AB 301, which would require bottled water corporations to
report the source and amount of water they extract from communities and whether this water is privately or publicly
owned. The Human Right to Water Act, for which AfD was a co-sponsor, would have amended the Water Code
to ensure every human being had “the right to clean and accessible water on an equitable basis.” This would not
only have helped ensure state and federal funding would go to projects that protected and expanded access to clean,
safe drinking water, but it would also tie California in with the global movement to make clean water a human
right. Email blasts to California members urged actions including calls and faxes to committee chairs and to Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger on behalf of the bill. Despite overwhelming support for the bill from AfD and other
organizations, Schwarzenegger returned the bill unsigned, effectively vetoing it. The organizations involved in its
legislative passage have vowed to press on with the fight for water justice.

The Alliance’'s San Fernando Valley Chapter worked to support the California Fair Elections Act, doing outreach
and tabling to state Democratic clubs and at farmers markets and community events. A June 2010 referendum will
allow voters to decide whether to publicly fund the race for California Secretary of State, with, hopefully, other
state and local races receiving public funding in the future. By year’s end, the chapter decided to formally disband,
continue AfD membership on an individual basis, and work entirely on the upcoming referendum. Look for updates
on the AfD blog and in the “Allied Actions” section of our e-news.
In late April, Defending Water in Maine organizer Emily Posner joined a trio of activists addressing a rally in the
state capital, Augusta, on behalf of a bill, LD 1028, “An Act to Enhance Municipal Home Rule Statutes,” intended
to support Maine towns when they adopt and enforce ordinances taking on “settled law” by denying corporations
court-conferred personhood rights.

Hundredfold Farm, a low-impact cohousing project, was featured in a National Public Radio broadcast as part of
their Earth Day coverage. AfD co-chair Lou Hammann is one of the founders of this unique community, which has
become the “go-to” group in its area for environmental and sustainability issues, due to its unique green housing
design and use of an artificial wetland to purify wastewater onsite (see www.hundredfoldfarm.org).

Justice Rising’s spring issue focused on Deglobalization/Relocalization, with articles by co-editors Jim Tarbell and
Ruth Caplan, as well as pieces by Mark Anielski, Maia Campoamo, CR Lawn, Dave Lewit and Ellen Brown.

SUMMER…
When local government turned down a developer's proposal to build a large commercial development in
Mendocino County, the developer fought to have the decision overturned by initiative petition vote. The
“Corporations and Democracy” radio show looked at the growing trend of corporate-funded initiative
campaigns and the sometimes questionable tactics these campaigns use to get signatures—a complaint voiced by
many county residents. Hosts Steve Scalmanini and Annie Esposito were joined by Joel Foster of
www.stopballotfraud.org. A show airing later in the summer featured author Chris Hedges on spectacle and
democracy, as well as excellent comments by the call-in audience. Thanks to Steve, mp3 files of some of the shows
are now available online at www.thealliancefordemocracy.org/html/eng/2589-AA.shtml.

“Tapped” premiered at the Maine International Film Festival


in Waterville, with more than 250 attendees, and a rally before
the screening featuring thousands of throwaway plastic bottles
and local activists speaking out on the need to protect water
locally and internationally. When AfD’s Ruth Caplan was seen
making some hard-hitting comments in the film, the audience
cheered. Defending Water in Maine organizer Emily Posner
also spoke at the rally, and with the support of AfD members
and Maine neighbors was able to take apprentices from a
summer program for young Somali immigrant farmers to the
screening as well.

Portland (OR) AfD hosted a talk by Les Leopold, author of The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of
Fantasy Finance Destroyed our Jobs, Pensions and Prosperity and What We Can Do About It (you can see the talk
online at http://blip.tv/file/2346884). The chapter also started work with the Portland City Council on a resolution
calling for clean up and no additional waste storage at the Hanford nuclear site.

AfD Secretary Dr. Peter Mott authored an op-ed on why so many progressives who worked hard on the Obama
campaign are now so opposed to his health care plan. You can read it by following the link at the Alliance web
page, www.thealliancefordemocracy.org.

During her stay at the Blue Mountain Environmental Retreat Center, AfD co-chair Nancy Price started work on a
curriculum based on AfD’s Tapestry of the Commons project (www.tapestryofthecommons.org) targeted to
children and young adults in grades four through 12.

Members voted to approve a bylaw change allowing regional and local conventions in place of a central, single
national convention. The council agreed to try this new procedure for biennial meetings.
FALL…
Portland (OR) AfD members were on hand to help the “Mad as Hell Doctors” kick off their national bus tour on
behalf of single payer health care, as the last push in the House for a vote on the Weiner and Kucinich
Amendments, led to a flurry of email alerts and blog posts. Members participated in demonstrations and sit-ins at
insurance company offices as part of the Mobilize for Health Care days of action.

Boston/Cambridge Alliance Chapter organizer Dave Lewit joined Ruth Caplan and local activists to give a
presentation on Democracy and Relocalization, and facilitate a roundtable discussion on the topic, at Mass
Coalition for Healthy Communities’s conference on relocalization. Chapter member Joanna Herlihy videotaped the
roundtable and presentation, as well as keynote talks by Frances Moore Lappé, Mel King, and Bill McKibben.

Election day victories in Mendocino County and Davis California, and Wells, Maine, showed the strength of
popular organizing in the face of corporate spending.
• In Mendocino County, a company sought to build a massive commercial development on a former industrial
site. When the project was turned down by local boards, the company hired signature gatherers and qualified a
ballot initiative to rezone the site and proceed with construction. AfD National Council member Steve
Scalmanini helped organize Save Our Local Economy, a community group opposing the project. Despite
spending about $900,000 for their campaign, the developer failed to sway voters’ concerns for the vitality of
local businesses. Save Our Local Economy has outlined better ideas for the site, including green technology
industrial complexes that could house businesses in the sectors of renewable energy.
• Voters in Davis, CA, turned down Measure P, which would have allowed a large-scale residential development,
despite the developer paying $240,000 for the special election and $300,000 for the campaign.
• And in Wells, Maine, voters rejected an ordinance—written in part by Nestle’s own lawyers—permitting large
scale water extraction projects in town. The measure was turned down by more than 69% of voters, despite
Nestlé sending out not one but two mailings with the incorrect polling times and providing false information to
voters through their telemarketers and canvassers.

We closed out the year with regional meetings and events in Maine; Concord, Massachusetts; Davis and
Sacramento, California; Rochester, New York; and Portland Oregon, with more than 80 members participating
and several new members joining too! Regional meetings were followed up by celebrations, demonstrations, and
teach-ins marking the 10th anniversary of the Battle of Seattle in Sonoma County, California; Portland, Oregon;
Maine and Seattle, Washington. Check on our blog, afd-e-news.blogspot.com for reports, and look for a ballot in
the mail with national council candidates and resolutions for action for the coming year!

Looking ahead…
• Focusing on the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, we’ll develop materials and
actions on corporate personhood and the need for renewed efforts to reform how we fund elections.
• We’ll continue to take an active role advocating for health care reform, asking you to speak out to ensure
the final bill is as strong as possible. We’ll continue the fight for single payer, too, especially at the state
level, where legislators are more accountable to constituents and less to industry lobbyists.
• We’ll expand opportunities for members to “Be the Media” with fact-sheets, sample letters and Op-Eds,
and we’ll post your published writing to the blog—email us at afd@thealliancefordemocracy.org
• Our Defending Water for Life campaign will continue to expand in the west, with new ways to follow
and support the community-by-community fight to protect our water commons and keep our public water
works out of private hands.
• We’ll support you, as individual members, member networks and chapters, as you build demand at the
grassroots for democratic reform. Let us know how we can work together!

Join us! We are stronger with your support!