ALASKA NEEDS A NEW AD HOC, AND SO DOES THE REST OF US.

West Anchorage High School

I slept through most of high school.  I failed Physical Education (PE) and most of my other classes, mostly for not showing up.  Classes started much too early, the sun did not come up until 10 a.m. and was down again by 3 p.m. for most of the school year.  Waking up in darkness and going home in darkness is how a person lives in Anchorage, Alaska.  Like most days I was asleep at my desk, when two people walked into the classroom and changed my life. 

Mary McKinnon and Bill Weimer had been invited by my senior civics teacher to speak to the class about, “taking over the Alaska State Democratic Party”.  It sounded like fun.  They called themselves Ad Hoc Democrats.  I was to graduate in the spring of 1972, but instead of going to my graduation ceremony, my sister Becky and I drove to Fairbanks as delegates to the Alaska Democratic Convention.  My Mother still has doubts I ever graduated from high school.

McKinnon and Weimer told us the fundamentals of the McGovern party rule changes that had been adopted by the National Democratic Committee (DNC), following the disastrous 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago that had erupted in riots and arrests; and the year Richard Nixon was elected President. The Party rule changes were intended to open Party participation from the boys in the back room, to women and people of color, with a few “Superdelegates” thrown in for protection of the status-quo. 

Following their appearance in my West Anchorage High School class, I began attending the weekly strategy meetings of the Ad Hoc Democrats.  Their plan was simple.   Go to precinct meetings, and get elected as delegates.   On a snowy night, 7 of us showed up for our neighborhood precinct  meeting at Mike and Bee Rose’s Turnagain home on the Bluff for coffee, cookies and precinct party politics.  We outnumbered the regulars 7 to 5, and elected ourselves delegates.   It was that easy.

As elected delegates we showed up at the district convention, where the Ad Hoc newbies were a new faction and voting block.  We elected ourselves as delegates to the State Convention.  By this time, however, the old party guard had realized what was happening.  Our delegates were challenged at the state convention.  It was there I learned the importance of a credential committee and Roberts Rules of Order.  At the State Convention we had a full-blown floor fight over the credentials and seating of delegates and adopting a progressive party platform.  The party regulars were mostly labor union bosses and rank-and-file members, especially Jesse Carr and his Teamsters.  This is one of the true ironies of my life.  Years later I would be one of those rank-and-file union members, and/or staff who would participate at every level of Democratic Party politics, mostly knocking on doors and getting out the vote (GOTV).  I have worked elections in Alaska, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  But my introduction to the Democratic Party, was because of Ad Hoc.

Alaska (and other states) need a new Ad Hoc movement.  It is high time for a bunch of young insurgents to take over the party.  Going into classrooms and registering voters as Democrats and electing themselves as delegates, or better yet candidates.  Because of Ad Hoc, and after the 1972 Alaska Democratic Convention a whole new generation of candidates were elected to the state legislature, city councils and even as Governor.  I remember a very attractive couple attending the weekly Ad Hoc strategy meetings.  Susan often asked questions, and make very clear smart suggestions.   Her husband was very tall and handsome.  Tony would later become the mayor of Anchorage and Governor.  Susan would serve on the Alaska Utilities Commission.   

Alaska was a progressive state for 10 years after Ad Hoc Democrats took over the party.  There was a personal income tax, marijuana was legal for personal consumption, and the state was not facing a self-inflicted budget deficit because the entire population was on the dole’ (PFD) – dependent on the high price of oil.  It is perverse that Alaskans are happiest when everyone else is paying over $4 a gallon for gasoline.  Today, Alaskans complain about high taxes.  What a joke!  Alaska receives more in federal spending then they pay in taxes.  Alaskans pay NO personal income tax, no statewide sales taxes, and Anchorage the largest city with half the state’s population has NO sales tax.  Alaska ranks 33 of the 50 states in property tax rates, the average American household spends $2,197 on annual property taxes for their homes, Alaskans on average pay $2,901.  Alaska also has 17% veteran population and per-capita one of the highest government payrolls of local, state and federal employees.  I love the fact when public employees don’t make the connection their salaries are paid by taxes!  Trust me on this I worked for public sector labor unions.

Considering what they aren’t paying elsewhere, they shouldn’t complain.  But they do.

Alaska eliminated the personal income tax in 1980 against the wishes of Republican Governor, Jay Hammond, the father of the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD).   I am proud to say I voted for Jay when he ran for re-election.  The state was swimming in oil riches, and Hammond knew the politicians would spend every dime on stupid projects if he didn’t cut-off the trough.  Hammond thought if Alaskans all shared equally in the oil revenues, they would protect the Permanent Fund and practice fiscal responsibility.   HA!  He didn’t see the damage the PFD would cause to the Alaska psyche.  Alaskans all DESERVE their PFD.  They would rather schools, road and bridges fall into a huge hole of disrepair and underfunding, then pay taxes for services.  Alaska is TRUMP country and Red as Red can be.  Total voter registration is 567,403, Republicans 140,060, Dems 74,964.  You do the math.

I love my Alaskan friends, but they are delusional Democrats.   Maybe they have been smoking too much Pot.

Mary McKinnon was active in party politics until her death.  Her son Joe was elected to the Alaska Legislature as one of the Ad Hoc Dems.  Bill Weimer ran for the legislature three times, but never was elected.  Thankfully.  Weimer became a lobbyist and went over to the dark side, working for the private prison industry, and other shady causes.  He was indicted on illegal campaign contributions, jailed and I heard also had child molestation charges against him in Florida.  He was a creep then and later.  But Mary was the true believer, and the architect of Ad Hoc.

I left Alaska in 1995, because of the darkness: both lack of light and the state becoming so conservative.  Alaska’s GOP was taken over by the religious rightwing-nuts 20+ years ago.  Years later it produced Sarah Palin – enough said.  Most of my Alaskan friends no longer live there, and those that do visit the Lower-48 often, so I will never have to step foot in that crazy state again.

I wish there could be a new Ad Hoc in Alaska and elsewhere.  It was a great run while it lasted, and introduced a lot of people to politics, I for one.

Mary Ann

I met Mary Ann in prison in 1989.  She worked as a classification officer at the Palmer Correctional Center and I was the Master appointed by the Alaska Superior Court overseeing the State of Alaska compliance with the terms of a consent decree. Classification is the matrix that determines the level of security for individual prisoners, from minimum to maximum.  If you want to mess with a prisoner classification is a good place to start.  Mary Ann taught me the ends and outs of the classification matrix.

Alaska’s prison system was under Court supervision due to a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of prisoners.  In the 1970s Alaska’s prisons were more jail than prison, housing pre-trial detainees with sentenced prisoners.  After 10 years of construction and program development, the State had appealed to the Judge to be released from Court supervision.

I was appointed as Master by Superior Court Judge Douglas Serdahley to visit 13 prisons from Nome to Ketchikan and report on the State’s compliance with the terms and conditions of the consent decree.  I liked to say you can call me “Master”.  I served in that capacity for three years, until the consent decree was lifted.

Mary Ann and I became friends, and remain friends to this day.  Mary Ann and sister Melissa just came to Long Island and we had a wonderful visit, catching-up, bobbing in the pool and eating Alaska salmon and halibut caught my Melissa.

Mary Ann is the most traveled woman I know.  She has traveled to so many places including Syria (before the war) and Chernobyl – not the usual tourist destinations people dream of.  She and Melissa are going to Iran in December.  Iran, really!

My other common bond with Mary Ann is we share being fired from jobs we loved, and fought our way back.  Mary Ann was fired from her job at the Department of Corrections twice, but she retired from the DOC after 30-years’ service (with 2 involuntary interruptions).  Mary Ann was wrongfully terminated in both instances, which is why the union got her reinstated.  We are “Principled Bitches”.  Mary Ann blew the whistle on the DOC, got fired, and got her job back because she had the stupid bosses dead-to-rights.  Most people get fired and are so humiliated they just want to put it behind them.  Not us. It is the boss that is wrong, not you.  Being vindicated is a great feeling, walking back into the workplace you were summarily removed from is beyond words.

Mary Ann did that, and DOC learned not to mess with her, as much as they wanted too.  I love the fact Mary Ann retired as the Chief Classification Officer overseeing the entire population in classification matters. 

Mary Ann and I can laugh out loud when we talk about our careers, the ups and the downs – the stories we can tell.  We are enjoying retirement with pensions and lots of great stories.  But, most of all we share friendship then, now and forever.

WE NEED MORE MUSIC, and LESS TALK.

Music lifts the spirit, touches the heart, and breaks it at the same time.  Singing out loud is cathartic but only done is safe places; the shower, a car with the radio at full volume, a karaoke bar, or at church.  I wish I had musical talent.  I hope before I leave this planet I could be a lounge singer in a piano bar for just one night.  Hopefully, where all the patrons are drunk, so they don’t care I am singing off-key.

Tonight, I heard and saw Lyle Lovett and his “BIG’ band in a very small venue.  The Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHPAC), “a former 1932 movie house, was renovated and restored in 1997-98” with a 425-seat capacity.  So, when I saw early this summer that Lyle Lovett and his BIG band was playing I initially baulked at the ticket price of over $100, plus fees, etc.  I bite the bullet and bought a single ticket for $140+, and glad I did.  The concert was worth every penny.  Live music in a small venue, there is nothing better.  I won’t go to concerts in baseball stadiums, or hockey/basketball arenas.  I would love to see Billy Joel, or Bette Midler live, but they play ridiculously HUGE venues and the tickets are exorbitant.  What is the point to watch a performer on a huge trinitron screen from the nose bleed seats.  NAUGHT.  I have many musical performers on my bucket list, but only in venues of less than 500 seats, or outdoor venues like the New Orleans Jazz Fest.  I can snake my way through a crowd like nobody’s business, as long as I am flying solo.  No news there.

So, my purchase of one ticket to hear Lyle Lovett and his band consisting of 4 horns, piano, drummer, steel guitar, violin, base, cello, mandolin and guitar; and, Francine a fabulous vocalist (in the tradition of Darlene Love), 13 in all, plus Lyle.  It was possibly one of the very best concerts I have attended. 

But the real point of this blog is that music is a catalyst.  In the 60’s anti-war, civil rights and economic justice fights had anthems.  Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Country Joe, Woody, Arlo, etc.  We marched for justice to great music.  What is missing today are songs we can all sing together “as we go marching, marching…”

I thought for sure Lyle was using this concert to spend a weekend in the Hamptons, but his buses are pulling out tonight because they are playing in Massachusetts tomorrow and crisscrossing the country non-stop almost every night until January 20.  Check your local listings. 

Sitting in an audience of aging white people, with bladder control issues, made me think of the 60’s and how we are the music generation.  Our music moved us. 

I hope the X, Y, Z, millenniums and whoever the younger activist of today are can find their music to match to, that motivates them, and will spear them onto ‘the arc of the moral universe…that is long, but bends toward justice’.

Lyle is not a social crusader.  But he was a weird kid with big ears who obviously marched to a different drummer.  His music is about misfits and longing for love.  I don’t know why I thought to write this blog tonight, but I was anxious to get home and put my thoughts on paper, or more to the point the world-wide web.  Maybe it was because I spent most of today reading the “failing” New York Times and the “Bezos” Washington Post reporting on the QAnon and the Manafort trial.  I was happy to spend a couple of hours listening to music and watching 13 musicians perform enjoying their work and create happiness.

We need more singing and less talk, and certainly more action on the streets, but with good tunes.  Music is a powerful weapon, we need more uplifting music today, more than ever. 

Can you hear me singing?

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FORE THE LOVE OF GOLF

In 1998 I was living in Carson City, Nevada, having left Anchorage, Alaska in 1995.  My aging rescued Golden Retriever Hanna, move with me. 

Hanna died in March 1998, and I decided I might want to take up the game of golf.  I thought to myself if I didn’t like the game I would get another dog.  Although the thought of outliving another dog seemed too hard at that time.   It took me 15+ years to get another dog.  Remember the saying, “If you want a friend in Washington, D.C. get a dog.”  However, I had not yet moved to D.C.

So, in April 1998, I phoned a local golf course and asked to take a private lesson.  At the driving range the instructor handed me a 7 iron and showed me how to properly grip the club.  In golf your grip is key.  He dumped a bucket of balls on the ground, hit a couple and said it was my turn.  I swung and made great contact.  I was able to hit those balls straight and about 100 yards.  I came to believe I was a golfer in a former life, maybe even a pro on tour?  Golf just seemed natural to me.  This coming from someone who flunked Physical Education in 3 years of high school.  Yes, a person can flunk PE, especially when you don’t show up, and the mornings you do, you refuse to do stupid Swedish ball routines, (but that is for another post).  Back to golf.

That Christmas sister Robin gave me a gift certificate for golf clubs.  We went to the local golf shop, accompanied by our cousin David (the only golfer in our family, and David was adopted), and purchased a set of Mitsushiba irons off the rack.  I liked the green shafts.  What did I know about buying golf clubs?  Never heard of or seen anyone play with these irons.  I may have bought the only set of clubs they ever made?

However, to this day I am still playing with those irons and love them!  I have tried other brand name irons but return to my Mitsushiba.  Drivers, putters and woods are another story.  I have purchased numerous woods, putters and drivers, mostly on eBay.   You could say I am the Imeilda Marcos of golf clubs, not to mention the shoes.  Wish I had the same luck as my beloved Mitsushiba irons.

Golf is a very mental game, played on the green between your two ears.  Rule No.1  Don’t look at your cell phone.  I detest it when other golfers check their phones, or worse don’t silence the ringers.   If you are so important, stay off the golf course with your stupid cell phone!

As a single woman playing golf, I often get “the look” approaching the first tee.  Three guys waiting to tee off, and they see a woman coming towards them; their faces immediately say, “Oh no, here comes a woman and we are going to have to play with her.”  Male golfers think woman talk too much, play slow and they won’t be able to swear.  Quite the contrary.  I don’t want to talk, I hate slow play, and I spent the majority of my life in the labor movement.  The F-Word is my favorite.  Golf is also a four letter word. 

Golf joke: Why do men hate playing golf with woman?  Because they don’t want to stop and let her hit from the red tees, because they are in such a hurry to go look for their balls in the woods. 

Men try to kill the ball, swinging too hard and too fast, and their drives (more often than not) end up out-of-bounds or in the woods, far from the middle of the fairway.  Me, on the other hand (like that 7 iron) hit my ball right down the middle.   When I first began playing I thought it was wrong that woman hit from “forward” or red tees.  It is a fact of nature woman can’t hit the ball as far the guys, so my drive is usually next to, or even a bit past the guys (with the help of the forward tees).  Women (and seniors) get a slight advantage of hitting from the forward tees placed 10 feet or 10 yards ahead.   

There are four tee boxes: Champions hit from the Black or “tips”; Blue for younger players that can hit a drive over 250 yards, White where most (weekend) men should play from; and, Red or forward for woman and senior players.  We lose distance as we age, but golf is a game for a lifetime.

I am great off the tee!  I love the sound of my ball making contact and watching it fly straight into the fairway.  I also like out-driving the men.  They take me seriously after they see me drive off the 1st tee.

I always ask men if they are okay with me (a woman) joining them, I have only been rejected once.  Golf is also about good manners and etiquette.   I was fortunate the year I was learning to play that my pal Gene yelled at me – a lot! 

“Don’t walk across my line.  Don’t cast a shadow on the green, while I am putting.  Bring your clubs with you.  Pick-up your club.  And most of all, keep pace with the golfers in front of you and behind you.  Move along, don’t play slow!”

My favorite golf joke comes in handy when a guy has retrieved his ball from the woods.

What is the difference between a golf ball and a G-spot? 

A guy will look all day for a golf ball. 

Again, I get a look, sometimes accompanied by a laugh.

Yesterday, I walked on as a single and played with 3 guys.  Mike’s wife was riding along in their cart.  Corey and Justin were best pals and having a great day chiding each other.  I played my own game.  I was pleased with myself for having never played the course and managing to play 17 holes with the same ball.  A new Bridgestone, my favorite brand of balls.  On the 18th hole I put that ball in the water and followed it by taking another new ball out of my bad and proceeded to put it in the water in the very same spot.  That always seems to happen – hit a bad shot and then repeat the “very same” bad shot.  As I was saying, golf is all in your head.

Why I love the game?  Being outdoors, preferably walking, the silence of the game, and while you are playing with 3 other people, you are really playing against the course.  I won’t talk politics, or for that matter carry on a conversation.  I may be a woman, but I don’t like talking on the golf course.   Golf is also a meditation.

When a married man returns home from a day of golf, he must frustrate his wife immensely.  Wife: How is Charlie? Husband: good.  Wife: But what about his divorce?  Husband: I didn’t ask.

Five hours on a golf course with your best pal, but the extent of any conversation goes like this: good ball, nice line, your ball is over there by that big tree.   I now believe men marry woman who don’t play golf, so they have 5 hours of no conversation, and an excuse to get out of the house.

But the couples I meet playing together give me hope.  They enjoy being together in a beautiful surrounding and enjoy a bit of healthy competition.  Golf is great FORE play.

I continue to hope to meet the man of my dreams, waiting for me on the first tee.  A few years ago, I dated a guy who seemed to love to play golf as much as I did.  The golf was great, the sex not so much.  Golf takes 4-5 hours to play, sex maybe 15 minutes?  So why wasn’t the golf enough?  Especially at our age.  Oh well. 

I am still in search of a guy who wants to travel in an RV, play golf, and…

 

P.S. if you enjoy reading my blog on Face Book, please go to my webpage and add your email address, www.road2reinvention.net.  Add your email under Maggie’s photo on the right side menu.  THANKS!

 

A VERY BAD, TERRIBLE, AWFUL COUPLE OF WEEKS, Go Figure?

What is a person to do?  Each week the world seems to be spinning out of control.  Terrible U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Justice Kennedy retiring and a very conservative nomination will surely take his place, 5 murdered at their desks in Annapolis, MD., and our government is tearing children out of the arms of their parents.  

While the world seems to be coming apart at the seams, I really can’t complain.  I am enjoying summer at my sister Robin’s Westhampton, Long Island home, and completing DIY projects on Scout.  I am grateful that I no longer work as an advocate (aka Lobbyist) for labor unions, beating my head against a brick wall.  I think of my friends and former colleagues each and everyday, still fighting the good fight.  I am counting the days until my 65 Medicare birthday!

GUNS: How can we accept people going to school or work and never coming home?

SCOTUS: I spent the vast majority of my career as a “Union Goon”, and proud of it.  In the last week of the session the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled 5-4 against public employees and their unions, and upheld Trump’s travel ban.  The travel ban got most of the press attention, but the Janus decision will have much greater economic impact on U.S. workers.   Simply: American workers just got hit by an uninsured driver.  Take Joe, the rural route letter carrier who delivers mail here at my sister’s house.  Joe drives a mail truck but doesn’t wear a uniform, because they aren’t provided.  He is an employee, with no benefits.   Joe likes to complain about getting screwed by the postal service, but refuses to join the rural letter carrier union (yes, there really is a rural letter carrier union).  The vast majority of rural letter carriers are like Joe, complain mightily, but won’t join the one organization that could negotiate for better working conditions, pay and benefits.   Have you noticed your letter carrier arriving later and later to your mail box, and working late into the night?

US workers are their own worst enemy.  They believe in individual rights, not collective action.  They vote against their own economic interest.  Worst of all workers think they got their pay and benefits by their own hard work.  HA!   I use to tell Republican Members of Congress they should not hate unions, because labor unions are incubators for new Republicans.  As soon as workers rise into the middle class they start voting Republican, Trump is the glaring example of my theory. 

In Las Vegas, NV  the Culinary union has 95% voluntary membership, because low wage workers know their employer is going to screw them.  Who is more powerful the majority or the minority?  If only a minority of workers voluntarily join their union, they don’t have much clout.  Culinary workers know as individuals they have no bargaining power, but as a majority they have power and can negotiate better pay and benefits.   It is ironic that the Culinary union is vastly composed of immigrants and women.  Rural letter carriers are predominately white men.  Go figure?

Workers who don’t want to join the union, didn’t have to join, but they did have to pay their FAIR-SHARE.  The SCOTUS just ruled workers can be FREE-RIDERS, and not pay their fair-share, but still get the benefits of collective bargaining.  What will happen is as workers drop their membership, unions will have less and less clout.  Less ability to negotiate for better pay and benefits, and even more important social policy for non-union workers.

The law requires drivers to have insurance, but people will try to get away with driving with no insurance.   Our insurance premiums are higher because of uninsured drivers, (or people without health insurance).  The Janus decision is like telling workers they don’t have to buy insurance and let those of us that do – pay for them, too.  It makes me sick!

When unions were at the height of their power (1935) ONLY 35% of American workers were union members.  Now union membership is less than 12%.  Why don’t workers today have pensions, healthcare, vacation and sick days?  Economist and public officials talk about wage stagnation every day.   When employers wanted to avoid unions, they matched the union pay and benefit package.  Union workers lifted all boats.   In the 1970s employers figured it was cheaper and more profitable to kill unions, rather than pay fair wages and benefits.  Wonder why wages aren’t keeping pace with CEO pay?  Go figure?

I am THANKFUL every day for my union pension that will pay me until I die.  Sorry for younger workers who will die before they can retire.  Savings and 401Ks will never replace a guaranteed pension – NEVER.

IMMIGRANTS:  I spent 15 years of my professional lobbying career working with advocates and even the Chamber of Commerce to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation in Congress.    It is heart breaking to see immigrants vilified and treated as criminals.  I could write pages, but here is the debate simply put by my FB friend Steven: “NO IMMIGRANT has taken a job from an American worker.  You were laid off by a capitalistic corporate employer who is taking advantage of that immigrant to increase profits.  Nothing makes him happier than to hear you are an idiot who is blaming the immigrant and not the corporate boss.”  

Debbie took the slogan to the D.C. March.

Donald Trump uses immigrant labor in his hotels and built his Las Vegas hotel with steel imported from China.  FACTS, not fake news.   

Reading the newspaper is depressing, but at least I am reading REAL NEWS and sitting next to a pool with a pleasant ocean breeze.   But the events of the past several weeks are difficult to shake.  I am privileged and blessed with good health, great family and friends and a beach to walk on.  My thoughts are with others less fortunate and grieving.

Thank goodness for my DIY projects!  I got the curtains and seat cushions done, my quilt is back from quilting and I am sewing on the edging.  Yesterday, I fixed the four drawers, because the very funky cabinet hinges where flying open while towing.  Ceiling fans installed.  Re-upholstery of the dinette benches, and installing a new TV antenna, and I will be done with Scout and can finally play some golf!  I have a great sense of satisfaction when I can Do It Myself!

I plan to read less news, read more fiction and listen to more music.

P.S. Check out my favorite streaming radio stations KPIG and 107.3 Mod Radio from Palm Springs.

Stay tuned for pictures of Scout with all her new stuff.