My Part in the #StopTheCuts TwitterStorm

Today I participated in the Coalition on Human Needs Twitterstorm to help #StoptheCuts in support of President Obama’s proposed budget that lasted from 2 to 3 pm Eastern Standard Time. Here is my contribution to that storm. Results shown are as of 3:07 pm (seven minutes after the Twitterstorm ended):

 Original Tweets

Spot on! MT @kilby76 45.3 mil Americans live in #poverty. Shameful 4 richest country on earth #CutsHurt #StopTheCuts @SenToomey @SenBobCasey

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We need more investments, not less, in programs that keep even more people out of #poverty. #StoptheCuts

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FACT: Since FY2010, 136 important human needs programs were cut, 51 by > 15% #CutsHurt #FY2016 http://ow.ly/i/8uqP2  http://ow.ly/i/8uqPC 

Meme stating that 45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

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We need a #FY2016 budget that works for all, not just corporations and the wealthy #TalkPoverty http://ow.ly/i/8upzt 

Meme stating that 45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

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Continued cuts to human needs programs are bad for America, our economy #TalkPoverty #CutsHurt Pass @presidentobama #FY2016 budget

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Pass #FY2016 RT @BlueUpali @SenateDems #GOP thinks cuts to foodstamps SSA will help? They are bad at math as well as science. #StopTheCuts

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Only 1 in 4 households eligible for federal rental assistance receive it due to lack of funding #Sequester #CutsHurt #FY2016 #Budget

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Want to know the ins and outs of the President’s Budget? Check out @MomsRising analysis: http://moms.ly/1Ct2VX7  #StoptheCuts #FY2016

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Federal rental assistance is effective, lifts millions out of #poverty. @RepTomPrice stop the cuts, stop sequestration #cutshurt #FY2016

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Housing instability limits opportunity. Restore voucher funding so those eligible are not left waiting! #cutshurt http://ow.ly/i/8uqCu 

meme re Join the #StopTheCuts TwitterStorm on February 3, 2015.

Join the #StopTheCuts TwitterStorm on February 3, 2015.

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3 million children were lifted out of poverty by #EITC and #CTC in 2012. #CutsHurt this progress. #TalkPoverty #FY2016

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Research shows children of #EITC recipients do better in school, attend college & earn more as adults #TalkPoverty #cutshurt @RepTomPrice

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 1/4 people without a high school degree are living in poverty. Tell Congress to support job training in #FY2016 #TalkPoverty #JobsNotCuts

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.@CoalitiononHN “.@BeaverValleyNOW @PA_NOW @NiTaNeeNOW Thank you for joining us and spreading the word! #StopTheCuts”

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 Modified Tweets

MT @natpriorities Most Americans support spending in federal programs that help families in need. #StopTheCuts #CutsHurt http://ow.ly/i/8v627 

Picture of a woman holdin70% of Americans oppose cuts to the SNAP (food stamp) program g a toddler saying that 70% of Americans oppose cuts to the SNAP (food stamp) program

70% of Americans oppose cuts to the SNAP (food stamp) program

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MT @MomsRising The earlier we invest in our littlest learners the better for our children & economy. Invest in #earlylearning! #StoptheCuts

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MT @natpriorities Only 1 in 4 households eligible for federal rental assistance receive due to low funding #Sequester #CutsHurt

Meme stating that Every hour the US spends $5 million for housing assistance and $58 million for the Dept. of Defense

Every hour the US spends $5 million for housing assistance and $58 million for the Dept. of Defense

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 .@CongressmanGT MT @ChildDefender 57,000 children lost their Head Start cause of sequestration. #CutsHurt #StoptheCuts #BeCarefulWhatYouCut

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MT @ChildDefender 57,000 children lost their Head Start cause of sequestration. #CutsHurt #StoptheCuts #BeCarefulWhatYouCut @SenBobCasey

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MT @ChildDefender: 57,000 children lost their Head Start cause of sequestration. #CutsHurt #StoptheCuts #BeCarefulWhatYouCut @SenToomey

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 MT @NAEYC: Kidsthrive & learn n society dedicated 2 ensuring they reach their full potential #investinkids n #FY2016 2 ensure their future

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MT @RESULTS_Tweets: The #2016Budget is out! Time 2 #talkpoverty w policymakers & make ending poverty a top priority: http://bit.ly/16fyKVh 

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MT @MomsRising: #Congress need 2 pass tax bills that help ALL families. Write @SenateDems: http://moms.ly/1zvIHrV  #StoptheCuts #CutsHurt

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MT @MomsRising: #Congress need 2 pass tax bills that help ALL families. Write @PAHouseGOP: http://moms.ly/1zvIHrV  #StoptheCuts #CutsHurt

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MT @MomsRising: #Congress need 2 pass tax bills that help ALL families. Write @Senate_GOPs: http://moms.ly/1zvIHrV  #StoptheCuts #CutsHurt

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MT @MomsRising #Congress need 2 pass tax bills that help ALL families. Write @HouseDemocrats: http://moms.ly/1zvIHrV  #StoptheCuts #CutsHurt

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Retweets

MedicareRightsCenter @medicarerights  ·

Read @josephrbaker‘s statement on the #FY2016 Obama budget: http://www.medicarerights.org/newsroom/press-releases/2315-2/ … #Medicare

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TalkPoverty.org @TalkPoverty

Stagnating wages & changing corporate practices decrease amt working families can save for retirement http://bit.ly/1yQBLqd  #talkpoverty

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CoalitiononHumanNeed @CoalitiononHN  ·

Fact: It would only take 2% of the federal #budget to reduce child #poverty by 60% http://ow.ly/InD58  #TalkPoverty @ChildDefender

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  PWN-USA @uspwn  ·

Continued cuts to human needs programs are bad for America, our economy #TalkPoverty #CutsHurt #StoptheCuts in #FY2016 #pwnspeaks

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Housing Alliance PA @PAHousing  ·

Starting NOW! Tell Congress to #StopTheCuts in #FY2016! Join the @CoalitiononHN twitterstorm & tweet at your Reps/Senators #TalkPoverty

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Asset Building @AssetsNAF  ·

Obama’s #FY2016 Budget requests additional funding for HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program. See our FSS work: http://ow.ly/Iqp0J 

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ChildrensDefenseFund @ChildDefender  ·

Tell Congress: #EndChildPoverty #StoptheCuts #TalkPoverty #BeCarefulWhatYouCut http://ow.ly/H1gcu 

Picture of a baby saying, "It's hard to tighten your belt when you are wearing diapers.

It’s hard to tighten your belt when you are wearing diapers.

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Leslie @love2laugh4ever  ·

#StopTheCuts raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 now and have it automatically raise thereafter. Keep people above #poverty

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CoalitiononHumanNeed @CoalitiononHN  ·

1/4 people w/o a high school degree are living in poverty. Tell Congress to support job training in #StopTheCuts #TalkPoverty #JobsNotCuts

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 Pennsylvania NOW @PA_NOW  ·

Housing instability limits opportunity. Restore voucher funding so those eligible are not left waiting! #CutsHurt @SenToomey @SenBobCasey

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MoveOn.org @MoveOn  ·

RT if OUTRAGED: 1st time in 50yrs, maj. US public school stdnts in #poverty @GOPHouse http://wapo.st/17NzFgO 

Meme stating that 45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

45.3 Million Americans Live in Poverty #StopTheCuts

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Am Sociological Assn @ASAnews  ·

Is Ending #Segregation the Key to Ending #Poverty? @Stefanie_DeLuca & other sociologists http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/02/is-ending-segregation-the-key-to-ending-poverty/385002/ …

View summary

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Parents of OMM @ParentsofOMM  ·

The truth about #singlemoms using #foodstamps and what you can do to help http://bit.ly/1zkIx9w  #family #poverty #welfare #womenleaders

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Charlottesville NOW Publishes Statement to UVa on Sexual Assault on Campus

Stop Violence Against Women NOW diamond

Stop Violence Against Women NOW

Charlottesville NOW, this is a great letter to the administration at the University of Virginia on things they can done to reduce campus sexual assaults. Let’s see if UVA takes a strong stand or wiggles away from this issue, creating a climate of indifference towards violence against women. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that UVA takes the first path rather than the alternative, negative one.

Virginia NOW History

VA NOW is very proud to share this open letter to the administration at the University of Virginia concerning its policies and handling of sexual assault on campus.

A major focus of VA NOW’s advocacy work in 2015 will be on sexual assault, and sexual assault on campus — along with work on violence against women generally.

We are very happy to see Charlottesville NOW leading the way in their community and for the state. You can read a public record of UVa’s response to recent sexual assault allegations and the campus climate here: (click).

Background: In November 2014, Rolling Stone published “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” the story of Jackie and the wrongs done her. Later, RS published a partial retraction due to their lack of reporting and editorial diligence, and some uncertainties in Jackie’s report of her experience led to…

View original post 575 more words

2013-2014 #Justice4Cherise

Stop Violence Against Women NOW diamond

Stop Violence Against Women NOW

As my final blog for 2014, I want to summarize what I believe to be my most successful endeavor in social justice for this year. It is the case in Montana that in social media became known by the hashtag #Justice4Cherise.

In 2013 and 2014, I worked closely with both Montana NOW and Pennsylvania NOW to remove G. Todd Baugh—a local Montana judge—from the bench in Yellowstone County, MT for using rape myths to trivialize the 2007 rape of a 14-year-old girl Cherise Moralez by her high school teacher Stacey Rambold. The trivialization of this crime committed against this young woman occurred after she had died in 2010 by suicide and could no longer speak for herself.

Baugh sentenced Stacey Rambold to 30 days in jail because the girl was “as much in control of the situation” as her rapist and that she looked “older than her chronological age.”

Using my blog site and the Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund website as a public forum and pinning my blog posts to Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and other social media, I worked with others to spread the word about this case and called upon the state to provide #Justice4Cherise. Here’s the chronology (with links) to what happened from August 2013 through December 2014.

August 2013

We helped spread the word that we were collecting signatures through We Are UltraViolet of our outrage at Judge G. Todd Baugh’s unethical behavior on the bench and called for his removal by the Montana Judicial Standards Commission (August 29, 2013).

September 2013

We then filed a complaint with the Montana Judicial Standards Commission about Baugh’s unethical behavior. We presented the background of the rape case and a summary of Judge G. Todd Baugh’s misconduct; cited the portions of the judicial rules of conduct that were violated; and noted that thousands of “witnesses” had joined Montana and Pennsylvania NOW in this complaint. These witnesses included more than 250,000 people around the world who called for either the resignation or removal of Judge Baugh (September 24, 2013);

December 2013

Baugh Responds to Our Complaint and We Respond Back

We announced that “Judge” Baugh had agreed with our complaint that he had violated one of the three ethical rules we cited in our September complaint. He did say that he failed to

“promote public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and [did not] avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety [by his actions].”

His response to our complaint then continued with additional bias and use of rape myths to support his unethical behavior. So we responded with a written follow-up to our complaint and again let the public know what was happening (December 8, 2013).

Amicus Brief Filed

Five days later, six women’s groups — Montana NOW, Pennsylvania NOW, Legal Voice, Sexual Violence Law Center, Women’ Law Project, and Legal Momentum — filed an amicus brief before the Montana Supreme Court. This brief documented the rape myths that Baugh used in determining and handing down the sentence he gave to former teacher and convicted rapist Stacey Rambold. We were supporting the Montana Attorney General’s call for overturning the original sentence and remanding the case back to Yellowstone County Court for re-sentencing. The amicus brief we filed focused on rape myths and their inappropriate impact in adjudicating and sentencing in sexual-assault cases. We asked the court to take the effect of these types of rape myths into account when making their decision in this case and, upon remand, to assign the case to a new judge for sentencing. Our amicus went further than the Attorney General’s appeal in that we did not want Baugh to do the resentencing and that we wanted the Supreme Court to order the county to reassign the case to another judge who would be less biased in handling sexual assault cases (December 13, 2013).

January 2014

In January 2014, after reviewing Baugh’s response to the complaints filed against him, the Montana Judicial Standards Commission recommended to the Montana Supreme Court that they publicly censure him for his unethical behavior. Meanwhile the Montana Attorney General’s appeal of the Rambold sentence handed down by Baugh worked their way behind the scenes in the Montana Supreme Court.

What Happened to Rambold

April 2014: Sentence Overturned

On April 30, the first outcome of these two cases was announced (April 30, 2014). With a review of all the legal documents provided to the court (no hearing was held as the Court felt they had enough information from the documentation they received), the Montana Supreme Court handed down their decision in the Montana v. Rambold case. The Court overturned the 30-day sentence and remanded the case back to Yellowstone County ordering a new judge to resentence Rambold using the mandatory sentencing guidelines for rape. The last two paragraphs of the Court’s opinion indicate that the Court heavily relied on our amicus in ordering the remand:

¶21 On remand for resentencing, we further instruct the court to reassign the case to a different judge to impose sentence. We have considered several factors to decide whether a new judge should be assigned to resentence a defendant in a particular case, among them; whether the original judge would reasonably be expected to have substantial difficulty in putting out of his or her mind previously expressed views determined to be erroneous, whether reassignment is advisable to preserve the appearance of justice, and whether reassignment would entail waste and duplication out of proportion to any gain in preserving the appearance of fairness. Coleman v. Risley, 203 Mont. 237, 249, 663 P.2d 1154 (1983) 10 (citations omitted). In State v. Smith, 261 Mont. 419, 445-46, 863 P.2d 1000, 1016-17 (1993), we remanded for resentencing to a new judge when the judge’s statement at trial evidenced bias against the defendant. Even where bias did not require reassignment to a new judge, we have reassigned where media coverage and public outrage “have snowballed to create an appearance of impropriety.” Washington v. Montana Mining Properties, 243 Mont. 509, 516, 795 P.2d 460, 464 (1990).

¶22 In the present case, Judge Baugh’s statements reflected an improper basis for his decision and cast serious doubt on the appearance of justice. The idea that C.M. could have “control” of the situation is directly at odds with the law, which holds that a youth is incapable of consent and, therefore, lacks any control over the situation whatsoever. That statement also disregards the serious power disparity that exists between an adult teacher and his minor pupil. In addition, there is no basis in the law for the court’s distinction between the victim’s “chronological age” and the court’s perception of her maturity. Judge Baugh’s comments have given rise to several complaints before the Judicial Standards Commission, which has recommended disciplinary action by this Court. Those complaints will be addressed in a separate proceeding. Under these circumstances, we conclude that reassignment to a new judge is necessary to preserve the appearance of fairness and justice in this matter.

May 2014: Appeal Filed and Subsequently Denied

On May 14, Rambold’s attorney appealed the Supreme Court’s order to overturn the minimal sentence originally handed down and used the same arguments given by Baugh – “It was her [the victim’s] fault.” He seemed to say that the circumstances surrounding the rape of a minor and her responses to her teacher’s advances isn’t all that bad and therefore no change in the original sentence should be made.

September 2014: Resentencing

The Supreme Court denied the appeal and on September 26, Rambold was resentenced in Yellowstone County District Court.

According to the Billings Gazette, Judge Randall Spaulding sentenced Rambold to 15 years in prison with five years suspended for the rape of Cherise Moralez. The Gazette reported that Judge Spaulding said that

the victim’s age, Rambold’s position as a teacher and Rambold’s response to being warned by school officials all factored into [the] sentencing. [And] Rambold’s Internet usage was an aggravating factor [in determining the length of the sentence].”

On November 24, Rambold’s attorney Jay Lansing filed a “notice of appeal” to the Montana Supreme Court for the 10-year sentence; so far, the reasoning behind this appeal is unknown. We will continue monitoring what is happening in the months to come to see what happens.

What Happened to Baugh

June 2014: Supreme Court Decision

Meanwhile, back to G. Todd Baugh. As the April 30 decision by the Montana Supreme Court hinted at in the Rambold case, censure was in the air for G. Todd Baugh. On June 4, the Court announced that they would not only be censuring Baugh in public for his unethical behavior but that he would also be suspended from the bench. Here’s a link to that decision. We believe and agree with the Court’s written opinion that “There is no place in the Montana judiciary for perpetuating the stereotype that women and girls are responsible for sexual crimes committed against them.”

July 2014: Public Censure

Baugh was given time to respond to this decision of censure and suspension. And on July 22, the public censure was handed down. Marian Bradley, former President of Montana NOW, and I were in the courtroom for the public censure. Baugh stood before the Court for the censure, but said nothing.

According to the Billings Gazette, Chief Justice McGrath “did not read a sentence in the transcript of the censure that asked if Baugh had anything he wanted to say.” We had a statement ready to read to the court. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to speak about our concerns before the Court, most likely because the Court did not want to hear any more of Baugh’s excuses for his behavior. We had expected to deliver these comments publicly. Since we were unable to speak them, we sent our statement directly to Baugh and posted them on this blog for the world to see (July 22, 2014).

This blog was followed up on the Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund website with a more detailed overview of rape myths that Baugh and other members of the judiciary have used in trivializing rape (August 31, 2014).

December 2014: Suspension

On December 1, Baugh was suspended from the bench without pay. Today (January 31) is the last day of his suspension. Since he decided not to run for reelection for the bench, he will not be returning to work as a judge as he no longer has a seat within the judiciary. He is gone.

We have as of today

#Justice4Cherise

Stacey Rambold is in prison for ten years for the rape of Cherise Moralez

And

G. Todd Baugh no longer serves as a judge due to his unethical use of victim-blaming rape myths.

It’s a Happy New Year for 2015 for all victims, survivors, families and advocates for social justice. Happy New Year everyone!

Siblings and Older Foster Kids Need Parents

Nancy Hill posted a blog on her website yesterday regarding adopting older children and sibling sets. As an adoptive parent with an open adoption, I think her comments are right on target. Although we did not adopt our son’s half sibling (she was adopted by her biological grandfather), we are in regular contact with her and her family. These open, blended families, whether within the same household or in an extended family relationship are important for making successful “forever” families.

Here’s that blog.  And to all families, whether biological, blended, and/or “forever” families, Happy Holidays!

Siblings and Older Foster Kids Need Parents

by Janice Hill, December 16, 2014

Regular readers will find this to differ from my usual post, at first glance.  Social action that sees light on this blog is often political, but at this time of the year, when everyone is thinking of family, family gatherings, and tradition, I’ve decided to take a moment to consider youths whose family structure is so fragmented that they essentially have no family or are in danger of being torn apart  by the foster and adoptive systems from the only loving relationship they know – that of a sibling.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

This week U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids and the Ad Council are unveiling a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs)  to encourage the adoption of children from foster care with an emphasis on the importance of keeping siblings together.  This is legit.  The program itself is 10 years old. The gist of the idea is that no one needs be perfect to be a needed, appreciated, and loved parent.

I said good-bye to a brother last month.  But I had him 57 years before he died at age 66.  I cannot imagine how I could have survived without family, even my imperfect big brothers.  I know there are many mid-lifers who have aged out of biological parenting almost accidentally.  It isn’t too late to provide love and all the imperfect parenting you have to offer to older kids and siblings who desperately need you.

Give yourself the gift of checking into adoptuskids.org.  Consider:  Older parents, older kids.  Successful singles of a certain age who thought about being a parent but never found the right partner.

Growing up I knew a brother and sister who were adopted together.  I thought that was wonderful then, and I think it is even more wonderful now.  I have a friend who lost both parents in High School but she and her brother were not separated.  My cousin was adopted.  People I care about had people who cared enough to make them family.

Check out AdoptUsKids on Facebook.  There are currently 402,000 children in the foster care system in the US.  102,000 children, under 18 years of age, are waiting for adoption.  They are waiting to have you share your life, your regular old life, with them.

End of an Era: Sr. Francis Ellen Bowery

Aunt Frankie. Officially known as Sister Frances Ellen Bowery.

picture of Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery (1920-2014)

Aunt Frankie touring the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA in July 2011 (age 90)

Dominican nun for 76 years. She was a teacher and a Social Justice advocate. Part of her work included working on peace issues and with immigrants and international students. Little however has been noted of her quiet work for justice.  Still, I honor her for this work and her dedication to humanity.

Picture of Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery as a young woman in her habit.

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery as a young woman in her habit. Aunt Frankie took the name Sr. Mary Eucharia when she took on the habit. In the 1960’s, the convent rules loosened up and she, like many others, abandoned the habit and returned to her original name. One of the reasons she made these changes after almost 30 years in the convent was to be more accessible to the people she was working with. I believe it worked.

Humorist. She loved to make jokes. And she had a wonderful laugh. For example, she enjoyed teasing and joking. She also loved to play cards and particularly enjoyed getting caught cheating at the game.

Picture of Aunt Frankie hamming it up for the camera with her great-niece.

Aunt Frankie hamming it up for the camera with her seven-year-old great-niece. October 2011

Family overseer of the Bowery clan. Many of my mother’s clan turned to her. Just before my grandmother died in 1963, she asked Frankie to “look after” Marty, her second youngest remaining sister. Which she did until my mother died three years ago. Calls, visits, vacations… Any time. Anywhere. Frankie was there whenever she was needed or wanted. After my mother died, Aunt Frankie became the last survivor of her generation. At my mother’s funeral, she told me, “My [family] job is now done. I did what my mother asked me to do.” She sure did.

Picture of the Bowery Clan in West Palm Beach, FL.

The Bowery Clan:
Front row: Martha Bowery, Loretta Bowery Randolph, Edward Smith, Louise Bowery Smith, Tracy Smith, Bernice Savage Bowery, John Alvin Bowery Sr.
Back row: Sister Frances Ellen Bowery, John Alvin Bowery Jr, Bernice Helena Bowery, Sarah Bowery, Harold Randolph, and Sister John Loretto (ne Mary Tracy) Bowery. This picture was taken circa 1948.

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery, always known to me as Aunt Frankie, died on Tuesday evening December 2, 2014 at the young age of 94. She will be buried Saturday, December 6, 2014 in her bright red “Mrs. Claus” outfit beside her sister Sister, Sr. John Loretto Bowery, who was known to us simply as Aunt Mary.

Aunt Frankie's headstone 67161856_130061114640

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery’s headstone, located next to her sister Sister John Loretto Bowery. Picture courtesy of “Caveman” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=67161856&PIpi=39910824 on March 20, 2011.

Picture of SR. John Loretto Bowery's headstone

Sr. John Loretto (aka Aunt Mary) Bowery’s headstone at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Cemetary in Adrian, MI. Each set of plots is created in a circle. After Aunt Mary died, the Adrian Dominican Sisters left the space adjacent to Sr. John Loretto for her biological as well as religious sister, Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery. Picture courtesy of “Caveman” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=13395413&PIpi=39910802 on March 20, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was lucid and still making jokes right up to the end. She will surely be missed by all of us nieces and nephews and within her religious community.

Luv ya Frankie! Farewell and rest in peace.

Addendum – Aunt Frankie’s Elves

Monday December 9, 2014: I just got back from the funeral in Adrian, MI. It was probably the nicest celebration of life I’ve ever attended.

Aunt Frankie was buried on December 6 on the Feast of St. Nicholas – her favorite holiday. She donned her Mrs. Claus suit and distributed candy canes to her community every year on this feast day; she was also buried in this outfit.

Picture of Aunt Frankie wearing her Mrs. Claus suit.

Aunt Frankie as Mrs. Claus at an annual Feast of St. Nicholas party at the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She was buried in this outfit at her request.

In her honor and with the fun spirit she engendered in our family, all of the nieces and nephews attending the funeral donned Santa Claus hats and distributed candy canes to the members of the convent at the wake. We also gave out rawhide candy canes for the doggie members within the community (yes some of the nuns have dogs as pets).

Thanks again Aunt Frankie. The best funeral I’ve ever attended.

 

Elizabeth Warren Stumps for Jeanne Shaheen

picture of Senator Elizabeth Warren stumping for Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Senator Elizabeth Warren stumping for Senator Jeanne Shaheen

The National NOW PAC sent three NOW activists up to New Hampshire to work on the campaigns of the three Congressional candidates that they have endorsed for the 2014 elections. We have been embedded within the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign as an in-donation to their campaigns for reelection. The three are all women and all are up for reelection. They are Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Representatives Ann Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter.

Senator Shaheen is in a tight race with carpet-bagging former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. After losing his reelection race for the US Senate in Massachusetts, he “moved” to his vacation home in New Hampshire and is now running against Senator Shaheen for her Senate seat.

Picture of Shaheen and We Vote Signs

Shaheen and We Vote Signs

On Tuesday, October 21, after a day of phone banking for the candidates, we participated in a visibility event for Senator Shaheen. There were about 100 or more Shaheen supporters holding signs large and small; Brown’s supporters had about 30 or 40 supporters.

Then we went inside and listened to the debate between Scott Brown and Jeanne Shaheen. My favorite line occurred at the very end of the debate. The moderator asked each candidate what one thing they would like to tell their opponent. Shaheen commented that Brown had run for the Massachusetts Senatorial seat and lost to now Senator Elizabeth Warren. Then he considered running for Governor of Massachusetts. And then he decided to claim that he was no longer from Massachusetts but from New Hampshire and would therefore run in a second state. Here’s what she said and what I tweeted

.@JeanneShaheen to @SenScottBrown “#NH isn’t a consolation prize.” Carpet bagger! Vote 4 the true people’s choice. Shaheen 4 #USSenate @NOWPACs [endorsed]

Who had Scott Brown lost to in Massachusetts? Senator Elizabeth Warren. She along with people throughout New Hampshire and throughout the country see Brown’s race as that of an opportunistic Carpet Bagger. Senator Warren put that thought to words four days later when she came to stump for Senator Shaheen in Durham, Concord, and Keene.

picture of Shaheen Supporters outside IBEW Hall in Concord NH

Shaheen Supporters outside IBEW Hall in Concord NH

I attended the “Get Out the Vote for Jeanne Shaheen with Elizabeth Warren” in Concord, NH. I took a video of the entire rally and took some pictures as well. We stood outside the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall in Concord for about 30 minutes before the doors opened and then went inside and waited for Senators Shaheen and Warren.

Waiting inside the IBEW Hall in Concord NH to hear Senators Shaheen & Warren 2014-10-25 13.13.51

Supporters waiting inside the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall to hear Senators Shaheen and Warren

The first speaker was Jim Bouley, Mayor of Concord. Here’s his introduction of Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

Senator Shaheen then spoke. This portion of the rally is contained in the following two videos:


And then Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke.

After the rally, the NOW PAC Feminist Field Force in New Hampshire (three NOW activists sent to NH to work for the NOW PAC federally endorsed candidates) got a couple of moments to thank Jeanne Shaheen for her passionate commitment to women’s equality and rights.

picture of NOW PAC Feminist Field Force with Senator Jeanne Shaheen

NOW PAC Feminist Field Force with Senator Jeanne Shaheen L to R: Gaby Moreno, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Joanne Tosti-Vasey, and Noreen Connell

Thank you, Jeanne Shaheen!

And if you live in New Hampshire, please get out and vote on November 4 for Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for the US Senate, Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH District 1) for the US House of Representatives, and Annie Kuster (D-NH District 2) for the US House of Representatives.

Voting Restriction Rulings in Just One Week

vote button

Go Vote Button

I’m reblogging Nel’s New Day article on voter restrictions today.  It is an excellent commentary on the increasing denial of voter access and voter suppression around the United States. Nel has done a good job of summarizing the methods designed to reduce voter turnout, including gerrymandering, mandatory photo ids, reduced early voting, and elimination of same-day voter registration in states that had previously allowed this.

Another source for this information is The Brennan Center for Justice. It has an excellent report on the current status of voting and elections in the US. This report is titled “The State of Voting in 2014” and covers both the voter suppression issue as well as an increased access to the ballot in some states.

Sixteen states have passed laws increasing access to the ballot since 2012; eleven of these states’ new laws will be in effect on November 4. Interestingly five of these eleven “progressive” states — Illinois, Nebraska, Mississippi, Virginia, and West Virginia — also enacted more restrictive voter laws.  The most common forms of laws that increase access to the ballot include online voter registration and other methods to modernize voter registration (like being able to have your voter registration move with you) plus methods to increase access to early voting.

So read  Nel’s blog below and then head on over to the Brennan Center for Justice for more information.

And remember to get out and vote on Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

 

Nel's New Day

Marriage equality didn’t stop for last weekend. Alaska, the first state to ban marriage equality in 1998, now legally recognizes same-sex marriage after U.S. District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess of the U.S. District Court of Alaska issued his ruling. The Republican governor plans to appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court which legalized marriage equality in Nevada and Idaho last week.

Meanwhile, last week saw a rollercoaster of court decisions about voter suppression laws. In passing these laws, the GOP has openly declared that the reason for photo IDs required for voting is to keep Democrats from have their rights at the ballot box. With fewer than 31 fraud cases in over 10 years, the number of legitimate voters kept from voting has vastly increased.  Joy Dunn, 79, is an eligible voter who found out that new laws had disqualified her vote after her absentee ballot in March’s Arkansas…

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Scholarships? Miss America Pageant? What’s Up?

HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver aired a program on the Miss America Pageant and posted it to YouTube on September 21, 2014.  John’s question of the day: Is  the Miss America Pageant really the largest provider of scholarships for women in the country?  Here’s the video:

John Oliver makes some great points and raises several questions.  The two I like best are:

Is the Miss America Pageant telling the truth about the scholarships?

Depends on what you mean by “provide.”  And even that is stretching it.  The Miss America Pageant claims that they provide $45,000,000 in scholarships to women EVERY year.  Oliver was only able to come up with less than $4,000,000 after reviewing the national and 33 states’ Miss America Pageant’s federal non-profit Form 990 statements.  That’s less than 10% of the total the Miss America Pageant claims they give out.

So what does “provide” mean?  Apparently, it is a smoke and mirrors word.  The Miss America Pageant works with college admissions and finance offices throughout the country to set up scholarships that are given directly to pageant winners.  The winner of each contest will receive the scholarship if and only if she goes to one of the schools within her state (or anywhere in the country if she’s a national winner) that has an agreement with the Miss America Foundation for this scholarship award.  And here’s the kicker.  The Miss America Pageant adds up the value of EACH of these college’s scholarship and adds that amount of scholarship “money” to the “total” amount of scholarships provided (BUT not guaranteed to be distributed) each year.  Regardless of whether or not the scholarship is used!

Here in my home state of Pennsylvania, Oliver reports that there are four colleges that provide this scholarship – Delaware Valley College, Carlow College, Cedar Crest College, and Arcadia University. They are all small, private colleges located in the Philadelphia, Allentown, and Pittsburgh areas.

My thoughts on this.

First…Women don’t usually become Miss America contestants until after starting college.  I believe it is highly unlikely that a college Junior or Senior would transfer to a private four-year college in her last year or so just to get this scholarship.  Particularly if it is only a partial scholarship, if her area of study is  not offered by one of these schools, and if she knows that a transfer would require more time in school because of differing graduation course requirements set up by each school.

Second… No one can clone themselves  — even twins (I know. I’m a twin).  So if a woman should win a full scholarship and be willing to transfer to one of these schools, and be willing to extend her education to complete her education, how can the Pageant say that they “provide” four times the amount of funds to a winner that is never going to attend the other three schools (in the case of the Pennsylvania example).

Is this objectification of women appropriate?

Even if the Miss America Pageant was providing $45,000,000 in scholarships on an annual basis, is the objectification of these women appropriate?  Why do they have a focus on never having been pregnant? Why do they have a focus on never having been married?  Why are the women still being required to prance around in bikinis and high heels?  Looks to me like the Pageant is looking for a sex object who is also a virgin to be placed on a pedestal.

What do you think?

Does the Miss America Pageant objectify women?

Should the swimsuit and heals event be eliminated?

Should the Miss America Pageant change their scholarship advertising to be more accurate?

Alternative Scholarships

If you are interested in a scholarship program for women, why not look for one that doesn’t objectify women and distributes the money to women without the use of smoke and mirrors?

Here are the links to the women’s scholarship funds that John mentioned on air:
Society of Women Engineers: http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/
Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund: www.rankinfoundation.org
Patsy Mink Foundation: www.patsyminkfoundation.org

The Rape Myth Problem Within the Judicial System

You probably have heard this before:
“She asked for it.” “She didn’t say no.” “She really meant ‘yes’ when she said ‘no.’” “She looks older than her chronological age.” “She [a minor] was as much in control of the situation as the defendant [her teacher when he raped her].” “Well, you know, this wasn’t this forcible, beat-up type rape.” “Even though she was drunk, she consented and knew what she was doing.” “Well boys will be boys; what else would you expect?” “She just ‘cried’ rape.” “It didn’t happen. She’s lying ‘cause she wants revenge.” “She could have prevented it if she… had only tried hard enough… had fought back more… etc.” These are all rape myth statements that have been heard in the courtroom as well as out in the public arena.
The flowing article was written by me for Pennsylvania NOW on their website.
This article gives an overview of problems in the judicial system when judges and others rely on this form of gender bias in their courtroom. Pennsylvania NOW posted the original of this article on August 31 and Central Oregon Coast NOW reblogged it. Thanks everyone for spreading the word about this problem and showing others what can be done to push back on this form of misogyny in the judiciary.

New Federal Guidelines On Pregnancy Discrimination Align with Pregnancy Discrimination Act

I received an email today from Pennsylvanians for Choice. They requested that we publicize a news article from the Feminist Majority.  It is an article that summarizes new federal guidelines on pregnancy discrimination law related to women’s employment.  Here it is:

Picture of woman talking to her employer about work expectations

Women and Employment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its pregnancy discrimination guidelines this week for the first time in over 30 years. The new language reiterates the policies outlined in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and classifies discrimination against pregnant employees as a form of sex discrimination.

The guidelines were approved 3-2 Monday. The guidelines make it clear that an employer cannot discriminate against a worker based on pregnancy, childbirth or any related medical condition. They also disallow discrimination against someone based on whether or not they have been pregnant in the past, or want to get pregnant in the future.

“Pregnancy is not a justification for excluding women from jobs that they are qualified to perform, and it cannot be a basis for denying employment or treating women less favorably than co-workers similar in their ability or inability to work,” EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien said in a press release this week. “Despite much progress, we continue to see a significant number of charges alleging pregnancy discrimination, and our investigations have revealed the persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices.”

In a Q-and-A section on the EEOC’s site about pregnancy discrimination, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is explained as banning employers from firing, refusing to hire or demoting a woman if pregnancy, childbirth or any related condition was the reason for the action. The EEOC guidelines were released in part for those who may not have been aware of the cited federal laws, in order to make the requirements better understood and known.

“I think it will make a really big difference,” Joan C. Williams, a law professor whose work is cited in the EEOC’s new guidelines, told the Associated Press. “This is also the direction the courts have begun to go in, and that’s why the EEOC said, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.'”

Pregnancy discrimination complaints in the US increased by 71 percent between 1992 and 2011. Many women nationwide, especially those in low-income jobs, are forced to take unpaid leave or leave their jobs altogether during their pregnancy. Almost two-thirds of first-time mothers work while pregnant, including 90 percent of those mothers who work into their last two months of pregnancy. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a piece of national legislation currently stalled in Congress, would update and strengthen the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to ensure that pregnant women are not denied necessary accommodations at work.

Media Resources: Associated Press 7/16/14; NPR 7/16/14; US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 7/14/14; Feminist Majority 10/31/13; Feminist Newswire 2/3/14

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