Message from Nan Stearns – 4/11/11

Dear WMD Members,

It’s time for full disclosure: A WMD sponsored Democracy School was held in late March. After the joint hosting plans with DFNH fell through, DFNH went ahead with their own Democracy School, with a focus on election integrity. Our Kitchen Cabinet met and went ahead with planning one without specific focus. As we learned more about the expenses associated with hosting Democracy School, we realized the importance of experiencing it firsthand before we could recommend it wholeheartedly to the entire WMD membership. As we began talking about attendees, we made a tentative list of people we thought would be interested guinea pigs to fill a class limited in size to no more than 20. In a heart beat we had more than 25 on our list, including educators, environmentalists, peace activists and those who have been active in WMD since its inception. Rather than send out an announcement to everyone on our email list, we called those on the tentative list. And so it happened! We ended up a group of 21 women and men: 17 students, 3 presenters and one chef/gofer. Though many were WMD members, we also had a DFNH activist, a Milford High School teacher, a student originally from Brazil, a home builder, a young corporate entrepreneur, environmental activists with New Hampshire Green and members of the peace movement. It was an interested and interesting group.

Our three presenters were Gail Darrell form Barnsted, NH, Ben Price from Carlisle, PA and Chad Nicholson who has moved to Maine in order to assist Gail Darrell in her community organizing for CELDF, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. The total cost of the school was approximately $2,500.

The chef/gofer was my own dear husband, Pete, who was in charge of logistics and food preparation. We ate well!

This was an experiment. It was a very intense, enlightening experience for most —- I am still gathering feedback from those who participated as we speak. There may be many of you who wanted to attend; we hope there will be many who want to come next time. It is very possible we will try to put on another DS next year, after we have had an opportunity to sit quietly, contemplate what we have learned, think deeply and move on.

To give you an idea of the level of commitment involved — the Friday session was from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. On Saturday we met from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. It is a powerful experience, and the material is mind boggling. As I wrote on my evaluation form, “Democracy School is not for wimps!” Too, it is not inexpensive. Our fee to attend was $100.00. There were three active members who paid $150.00 in order to reach our goal, and all of the food and snacks were donated by Kathy Boyer, Susan Fischer, Judy Gilliland, Ruth Heden, Jeanne Ludt, Pete and Nan – the extraordinary committee. Many thanks!

Please let me/us know by responding to this email if you would be interested in attending DS next time. I intend to speak to each one who attended and follow up with our presenters, then pass thoughts on to the ladies on our list.

Thanks in advance for your understanding.

Nan Stearns


If you’d like to attend a free forum conducted by two of the same people that conducted Democracy School —- here’s your chance!! See below:

Community Rights Forum

Protecting our Health, Safety, and Welfare
Lewiston, ME, Sunday, April 17
B Street Community Center
57 Birch Street

Portsmouth, NH, Sunday, May 1
South Church – Unitarian Universalist
292 State Street

Bangor, ME, Sunday, May 15
Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine
96 Harlow Street, Suite 100

2:00 – 4:00pm

Presented by:
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)

In Partnership With:
Advocates for Community Empowerment (ACE)
Citizens of Barnstead for a Living Democracy (COBALD)
Nottingham Water Alliance
Protecting our Water and Wilderness Resources (POWWR)

For More Information:
Gail Darrell Chad Nicholson
603.269.8542 207.541.3649

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Judd Gregg’s Replacement Has Democrats Worried

Democrats in Washington are concerned that should Sen. Judd Gregg be chosen as Commerce Secretary, New Hampshire’s Democratic governor, John Lynch, will pass on the opportunity to appoint a Democrat in his place.

“This is the real deal, he is definitely in play,” one high-ranking Senate Democrat told the Huffington Post. “But there is some hesitation about what Lynch will do with the replacement.”

If the governor were to choose a Republican, the Senator added, “that would make a lot of Democrats mad.”

But such is a scenario that seems to be developing. Appearing on CBS Face the Nation, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered the blanket prediction that Lynch would not use the opportunity of a vacancy to change the partisan composition in D.C.

“Sen. Gregg has assured me that if he accepts, it would not alter the makeup of the Senate in terms of the majority and minority,” said the Kentuckian. “In other words, whoever is appointed to replace him would caucus with Senate Republicans, so I think it would have no impact on the balance of power in the Senate.” Sen. Jon Kyl, appearing on Fox News Sunday, said much the same thing.

Serving in his third, two-year term, Lynch has carved out a niche for himself as a post-partisan figure in a decidedly non-partisan state. So it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he would use the vacancy appointment to bolster his own image and credentials. (Lynch has ruled out running for the Senate in 2010, but that was before the Gregg speculation began.)

The move would be a slight to the state’s two Democrats in the House of Representatives, Paul Hodes and Carol Shea Porter. But if Lynch were to replace Gregg with another Republican, it will likely be of the moderate variety. One name being reported, by the Boston Globe and others, is Bonnie Newman, the former University of New Hampshire president who was Gregg’s chief of staff.

Lost in the speculation over Gregg’s replacement is a debate over whether Gregg is even suited for the Commerce post. The Democrat who spoke with the Huffington Post was sour on the idea, noting that the New Hampshire Republican was a fiscal conservative, would likely oppose the president’s stimulus package, and has cast a “fair amount of gotcha votes” while in office.

“On the other hand you have got to admire Obama’s discipline to message,” the official added. “He seems committed to continuing this bipartisan message no matter how much pushback he gets from House or Senate Republicans.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said that Lynch had ruled out running for reelection in 2010. He had ruled out running for the Senate in 2010 — but that was before Gregg’s name was floated as a potential commerce secretary.

(February 1, 2009 02:04 PM –