...Milwood Democrats Serving the Community
Reuben Leslie, Chair for Precinct 259 * 12203 Antoinette Place * Austin, Texas * 78727-5320 * 512 837-6181 or 512 608-8903 (cell) * firstname.lastname@example.org * http://www.main.org/dem259
...proud to be part of the Travis County Democratic Party * 1311 East 6th Street, Austin, Texas 78702 * P.O. Box 684263, Austin, Texas 78768-4263 * 512 477-7500 * email@example.com * http://www.traviscountydemocrats.org
Contents: Welcome | What's New | Community-building Opportunities
President Barack Obama has announced his candidacy for re-election as President, and he needs your support. If you haven't already done so, please sign up to volunteer or donate at the links and read campaign news at http://barackobama-2012.blogspot.com.here). If you live in Precinct 259, this welcome into the Democratic Party is especially for you, but the general call to community service through politics applies to citizens of democracies everywhere.
Political party platforms and candidates' position statements on issues are read by few but maligned by many. Political parties themselves are widely held in contempt by many citizens. News media increasingly ignore state, county and precinct conventions (until 2008, the Austin American-Statesman did not mention Travis County's, for example), and their coverage of national conventions is half-hearted.
Political parties deserve more respect. They perform a useful public service as institutions and forums for citizens to educate one another and to learn the skills and habits of self-government, leadership and service. Though seldom regarded as voluntary associations, parties rely on public-spirited volunteers acting out of personal convictions as much as any non-profit organzation. Parties help build community by allowing relationships of respect, common purpose, and trust to develop among diverse individuals. Participation in political parties enables ordinary citizens to exercise more influence over their government and their own lives. Rights we now regard as inalienable were once regarded as radical political ideas; they became mainstream because political leaders and ordinary citizens participated in politics.
Everyone of voting age should take advantage of the opportunities political parties present to learn about and participate in electoral politics on every level, and most especially locally. Learn more about the issues and how your neighbors feel about them and help find solutions to problems and lead public debate toward what you believe is important. If you don't participate, you are missing the opportunity to have a real say in selection of candidates and issues, and thereby deferring to the wealthy donors to political campaigns and to the increasingly superficial and sensationalist news media. And you're missing the fun of neighborly political activism: getting to know, enjoy, learn from and serve your neighbors. For details about upcoming opportunities, see What's New below.
As Chair since 1994 of Precinct 259 of the Travis County Democratic Party, I hope everyone living in Precinct 259 will consider becoming active in the Democratic Party and take advantage of many other great opportunities for community-building leadership and service. Continue, resume or start playing your part in the helping our nation live up to its potential. Volunteer at the Travis County Democratic Party via the website at www.traviscountydemocrats.org. And do your part too in other efforts, including the non-partisan, non-sectarian Community-building Opportunities. If you're not already active in a Democratic club, campaign, precinct organization, or advocacy for legislation, please do what you can to keep democracy alive!
What's New: What's on Our Ballot?
MLK Day 2010 Reflections and MoreOn the eve of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, 2010, as we celebrate a great man and the meaning of his life, his eloquence, his visionary leadership, and his impact on us all in making our nation more just and free, I urge you to read or listen to the essay by E. Ethelbert Miller broadcast on NPR today at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122610865&ft=1&f=1057, and the thought-provoking editorial by Alberta Phillips in today’s Austin American-Statesman at http://www.statesman.com/opinion/haiti-deserves-the-kind-of-justice-mlk-dreamed-181492.html.
I also urge you to act.
Celebrate at the 16th annual Community March starting at 9:00 at the MLK Statue on the University of Texas campus to the Capitol at 10:00 and to Huston-Tillotson University for activities lasting until 2:00 (see http://www.traviscountydemocrats.org/fullstory.php?artid=4403&db=calendar).
Give to the fund for Haiti earthquake relief as urged by President Barack Obama (see http://www.whitehouse.gov/haitiearthquake).
Elect public officials and prepare to hold them accountable for taking practical steps toward taking our society closer to Dr. King’s dream. Research and question candidates for Democratic nomination for all offices so you can help choose who will represent our party on the ballot in November by casting informed votes. Help register voters, volunteer for campaigns, and influence candidates on the issues that matter to you.
Key Election Dates (see also: http://www.traviscountydemocrats.org/calendar.php)
February 1 – last day to register to vote in March 2 Primary ElectionContacts and Websites for More Information:
Travis County Elections DivisionThanks to all of you for the many ways you serve to make the dream of social justice a reality! Please let me hear from you, and let’s have some fun in 2010 choosing and electing more great Democrats and making sure they succeed!
What Was News Once...
August 2009 News for Democrats in Precint 259 (Milwood)Keep up your work on helping President Obama win over Congress to pass health reform this year. See the Travis County Democratic Party Events Calendar at http://www.traviscountydemocrats.org/calendar.php for opportunties as they arise. Stay informed, and help dispel myths among friends and family. Contact our Congressman, Michael McCaul, local office 5929 Balcones Drive, Suite 305, Austin Tx 78731 (phone 473-2357) and urge him to support reform now. Write letters to newspapers, email, blog, twitter, facebook, etc., to make your views known. This could be a major turning point for improvement in our nation or (with failure) a step deeper into the current disaster of the costliest but least democratic health care system (25% uninsured in our state alone) among industrialized nations. Side-by-Side Comparison of Major Health Care Reform Proposals (Updated) is at http://www.kff.org/healthreform/sidebyside.cfm.
Organize a block party for National Night Out 2009. For many years National Night Out was the first Tuesday in August everywhere. Then last year, Texas changed it to the first Tuesday in October, on account of the heat which we hope will be below 100 by then. The block parties for National Night Out are the best time for all neighbors on a block to come together and meet their local police, fire and EMS employees. They are an important opportunity for neighbors to make or renew acquaintances and discuss common concerns with one another and law enforcement and elected officials. To register your block's party for a visit by our public safety pros, get the form online at http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/police or http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/police/nno.htm and mail it to Rosie Salinas, Austin Police Department, PO Box 689001, Austin TX, 78768-9001 or fax it to 974-6222. For more information call 974-4900. NOTE: the deadline for registering parties is August 28. This year, plan on talking up health reform and how it affects us, and invite all our elected officials to meet and greet neighbors. The better informed everyone is the better.
Study up on elections with the Travis County Clerk 2009 Elections Study Group, a group of citizens invited consider and recommend actions to 1) Ensure that Travis County voters have an accurate, fair, secure, transparent to the public, and accessible voting system; 2) Determine a minimum and maximum time range as to when replacement of the current voting system is necessary (ten year life assumed in 2003); 3) Evaluate concerns regarding the existing electronic voting system and any other type of system that may be under consideration (examples: security, ease of use for voters, intent of voter issues, accessibility, accuracy of count, transparency to the public, and efficient use of taxpayer money to purchase, operate, and maintain a system); 4) Make recommendations to Commissioners Court regarding options for upgrading or replacing the current election system. It has been my great honor and pleasure to serve on this group representing Travis County Democratic Party since April, and now the handouts and videos of meetings are available to anyone interested at http://www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/study_group_2009/default.asp.
Speaking of elections, our next one is Tuesday, November 3, 2009, (on at least the 11 state constitutional amendments shown at http://www.sos.state.tx.us/about/newsreleases/2009/072809.shtml). The deadline for registering to vote (if you or anyone you know is not registered at current address) is Monday, October 5, 2009. Early voting: October 19-30. The next Democratic Party Primary is Tuesday March 2, 2010. See http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/laws/2010primary.shtml for a complete calendar for the many steps in that process. And for more information contact the Travis County Elections Division at (512) 238-VOTE (238-8683), or on registering to vote, contact the Voter Registration Division of Travis County Tax Office's Office at (512) 854-9473. Similar message with more links is at http://www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/dates.asp.
Support outstanding Democratic office holders running for re-election. Bowl-O-Rama a Fun Raiser for our Precinct 2 County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt on Monday, August 17, 2009, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m., Reception 6:30-8:00 Bowling Tourney, at Dart Bowl, 5700 Grover Ave. Individual Tickets $25, Teams of 5 $100, Sponsorships $250, $500 or $1000. Contact: Susan@susanharry.com or 542-9744 for more information, or visit http://www.saraheckhardt.com.
Thanksgiving 2008As our uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving, approaches, I'm sending out my heart-felt thanks to you, fellow Democrats in Precinct 259, who made history and swept Democrats to victory! Let's count our blessings!
In Precinct 259: we cast 1,285 votes (61.6%) for Barack Obama / Joe Biden, and even more for Nelda Wells Spears and Mark Strama; Larry Joe Doherty beat Michael McCaul 1189 votes (58.1%) to 730 (35.7%); and straight-party Democratic voters outnumbered Republicans 582 to 304. How was turnout? The main resource for county voter registration with links to elections is www.traviscountytax.org, but you have to drill down a few pages to get to what you want. For Precinct 259, below are the drilldowns on the county and Democratic party sites, with the best tally page pasted in at the end. I'm still trying to confirm our precise turnout percentage. We had a list of 2382 voters in precinct 259 as of Oct. 6 (i.e., all those who qualified to vote 30 days before the Nov. 4 election), but the county tallies now show 2906 registered voters, so our turnout of 2,086 voters (1,483 early or absentee and 603 on election day) was either 71.8 % or nearly 87.6%, depending on which total you use. The longer list probably includes suspense voters (moved) or voters who registered after Oct. 6 but before Nov. 4, but who were therefore ineligible to vote. In any case, turnout was tremendous, as were the results.
I want to especially thank the Precinct 259 Democrats who canvassed, registered voters, leafleted, made calls, sponsored events and attended many more to turnout the vote in our precinct and others nearby: Lisa DeRoche, Hope Doty, Sue Downe, Rick Duiker, Marcia Gibbs, John Lyon, Marie Martin, Anne McKenna, Derryl Meisinger, Marsha Mitchell, Prabha Murthy, Tom Myer, Donna Pauler, Craig Smith, Katy Smith, and Karla Steffen. Thanks to everyone who made, bought, distributed and displayed signs, bumper stickers and buttons. We also had a lot of help from candidates -- especially Larry Joe Doherty and Mark Strama -- and their campaign staff and volunteers, Travis County Democratic Party headquarters staff and volunteers especially field coordinator Joe Hamill, and the big boosts from Precinct 263, thanks to Kernan, Amy and Michelle.
Those named above and many, many more among Precinct 259 Democrats also contributed to Democratic victories nationwide, especially to electing Barack Obama our next President. Thanks to your generosity with your time, talents and money, the nation voted Democratic. The acceptance speech in Chicago on election night was a transforming event. We're a better nation now. President Elect Obama is making us even prouder every day as he names his cabinet and staff. Whatever the tough times ahead, I believe we have a leader and a team who are up to the challenge.
We have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, don't we? As we gather with our families, whatever our philosophical, social, political, religious, music or sports or other differences, and as we watch the continuing peaceful transition of power in our nation's highest office, let's give thanks together for what unites us all and how much we've been blessed this year. And let's redouble our efforts to work for peace, prosperity and health for all, in our nation and everywhere in the world.
Again, thank you all and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!!
And on 22 August 2008Making History!: The National Convention is coming up in late August, and the Texas State Convention was a very special event, in Austin for the first time in many years and on a scale usually reserved for national conventions. But before that, on March 4, in Travis County Precinct 259, the 333 Democrats attending the Precinct Convention at Summitt Elementary School elected 44 Delegates and nearly that many alternates to the Travis County Democratic Convention held on Saturday March 29. The county convention may have been the largest county convention ever anywhere in Texas, with around 7,000 in attendance. I am proud to say that each time we were called on to caucus, our precinct had a full count present: 17 delegates for Clinton and 27 delegates for Obama. There was never a loss in our full voting strength or resolve. Thanks, admiration and sympathy are due to all the delegates and alternates who accepted responsibility and followed through to represent our precinct, waited in traffic near the Expo Center, waited in long and chaotic lines at the gates and inside, and waited again throughout on the bleacher seats high in section AA (in the far upper right of the picture on page 6 of Sunday's American-Statesman) throughout the day for the chance finally to conduct our most important business. Thank you Precinct 259 Delegates and Alternates:
Clinton Delegation: Gloria Sue Downe, Martha Fisk, Harley Fisk, Denise Hebson, Jennifer Lang, Reuben Leslie, Frank Ortega, Dolores Ortega-Carter, Michael Parr II, Dan Petit, Nancy Russell, Kathryn Russell, Mike Schultz, Angie Stahl, Katie Vitale, Nola Brooks, Cynthia Collis, and Rick Collis.
Obama Delegation: Dennis Abbott, Kenneth Ballage, Jayme Bomben, Julia Brown, Ben Combee, Angela de Leon, Lisa DeRoche, Hope Doty, Pat Gallagher, Michelle Greenwald, Alice Morrow Harris, Alan Hines, Micheal Lewis, John Lyon, Anne McKenna, Derryl Meisinger, Linda Milligan, Marsha Mitchell, Prabha Murthy, Tom Myer, Michael Parr I, Beatrice Reyes, Beverly Schulze, Craig Smith, Karla Steffen, Kim Traylor, Stacy Weidmann, Nolan Baade, LeBerta Ballage, Michelle Barnett, Danielle Carpinelli, and Marcia Gibbs.
Results of the Caucus on March 29: Of the 3 delegates and 3 alternates allowed for the precinct (a number based on Democratic votes cast for Governor in 2006), we elected 2 Delegates and 2 Alternates for Obama and 1 Delegate and 1 Alternate for Clinton. These elected representatives are listed below in order of votes received (each delegate could cast only one vote). They represented our precinct as part of the Senate District 14 Travis County Delegation to the Texas Democratic Party State Convention June 5-7 in Austin. Congratulations to all who were elected and thanks to all who ran for these important positions:
Obama Delegate: Lisa DeRocheIn addition to these precinct-elected representatives, Frank Ortega and Reuben Leslie were also chosen as Travis County At-Large Clinton Delegates to the State Convention.
Thanks to Volunteers: Our precinct also had some delegates serving on the county convention committees: Katie Vitale served on the Resolutions/Platform Committee, and Frank Ortega served on the Nominations Committee. I wonder how late they had to stay! When Sue and I left a little after 8 PM, the Resolutions Committee report had been presented and floor debate on resolutions was about midway through, while the Nominations Committee was just getting rolling. Special thanks are due to Katie and Frank and to Nola Brooks and Mike Schultz who were part of the corps of volunteers who helped all morning with sign-in, as well as to Dan Petit who provided refreshments and respite with his RV in the parking lot. And in-between the precinct and county convention, a lot of paperwork was completed in a short time by teamwork of Angie Stahl and Lisa DeRoche, who also served as the elected permanent secretary of the precinct convention.
Did We Follow the Rules and Are the Rules Fair? Some delegates had questions and concerns about following party rules and whether some party rules are fairly and consistently applied in practice. Here are some opinions and information on that issue. All party officials I had any dealings with at the convention, whether they supported Obama or Clinton, were extermely conscientious in determining the applicable rules and fairly and openly applying any options or discretion in choosing procedures or making determinations required or permitted by the rules. I know that I did my best to do so. If anyone questioned or disagreed with my interpretation, I welcomed the opportunity to understand their question or concern and explain my reasoning and cite the source or authority, including in one instance the county chair. Some felt that the rules were contrived to deprive one side or the other of their due. But the party rules that gave the most offense pre-date the candidacy of either Clinton or Obama. The same rules can seem felicitous or obnoxious to either caucus depending on how the numbers play out. To be specific, some felt that the breaking of ties in the voting in the caucus should have been by runoff or majority vote rather than chance. That is not what the rules require. The rules are the product of party deliberations over many years through the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC). See http://www.txdemocrats.org/the_party/ for links to the rules as well as the directory of the current membership of the SDEC. Our representatives for Senate District 14 are Rich Bailey, Austin, (512) 771-3538, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Fran Vincent, Austin, (512) 323-9086, FVaus@hotmail.com. Frank Ortega from our precinct also serves on the SDEC representing Tejano Democrats. The impact of the rounding error in apportionment was also cited by some as somehow unfair to their side. Here's how our numbers played out through the process so far. As a Clinton supporter, I might be unhappy that even though my candidate won 39.27 % of the vote in our precinct, she was awarded only 33.33 % of the precinct's delegates to the state convention. But something similar probably happened to Obama in another precinct. I don't believe there was any conspiracy in the rule-making against Clinton or Obama. Nor do I believe the leadership at any level of the party has used the rules unfairly for or against any candidate. I believe that the caucus system is flawed in that it unfairly excludes voters who are overseas (including all those in the military services) or unable for safety or health of themselves or family members to leave their homes to attend a convention. We need some reform that will allow some participation by absentees in the caucuses just as we do for voting so we can be more democratic and fair to all. If you have ideas for improving party rules or practices, please contact SDEC members, or attend an SDEC meeting, or attend a Rules Committee meeting at the upcoming state convention. Or let your delegates and alternates to the state convention know how you feel and urge them to do what they can to make the process better.
Thank you, Milwood Democrats, for the privilege and honor to serve as permanent chair of our precinct convention and delegation chair at the county convention. It was a delight to witness so many neighbors participating in making democracy work.
A highlight of 2007I'm proud to say that the Democratic Party cares about participation and fair elections and takes steps to ensure both. Chris Elliott, Travis County Democratic Party Chair, announced on August 28 that "The 2006 Primary Elections and Convention Study Report, with recommendations, by a subcommittee of the Travis County Democratic Party Executive Committee for consideration by the whole committee, is now available at http://www.main.org/dem259/Primarystudy.htm. The files there include a 7-page narrative and a spreadsheet with election and convention turnout by precinct that the committee produced as well as several election judge survey reports prepared by Travis County Elections Division. Members of the County Executive Committee (CEC) heard highlights at recent meetings. I invite you to review the full report and related information so that the CEC can decide what additional action to take, if any, as we prepare for the 2008 primary and conventions." The report was considered at later meetings and its recommendations adopted.
What Was New Back in 2006Here are reflections on the November, 2006, election.
We worked hard and had some victories, but we can and must do better informing every voter about the precinct conventions and overcoming the confusion and misinformation that many voters are experiencing in the polling place as new technologies and the increasingly shared processes of the joint primaries make promoting party conventions more difficult.
What Was New Back in April 2005Here are reflections on the November 2, 2004, election.
First, we got some good results. Mark Strama won and is doing a great job as our state representative. And every Democrat, including John Kerry and John Edwards, whose name was on the ballot won in our precinct. Lorenzo Sadun got a respectable (for a write-in) 16% in our precinct. See www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/results.asp and click on the "Precinct by Precinct Results" to download or view the huge PDF document covering all 261 precincts in the county with three pages on each. Our precinct, 259, had a turnout percentage of 70.39%, considerably higher than Travis County's average.
Second, the volunteers in our precinct did outstanding jobs organizing, working, and turning out Democrats. For that, as precinct chair, I am deeply grateful to and very proud to be working with dozens of volunteers in Precinct 259. In fact, I am in awe of the tireless commitment and resourcefulness of so many who organized events, volunteered countless hours, block-walked, and gave generously to the Democratic campaigns.
Third, George W. Bush and all the Republicans running for statewide office won, despite our efforts and their sorry records and increasingly bleak prospects for leading our nation and state, largely because of artful, persistent lying to the American people.
Fourth, instead of trying to think of ways we can do better next time, I believe we need to keep fighting without pause. For the next four years, we need a continuous political war for social justice, peace, religious freedom, and a sustainable planet and economy. We have the truth as the most powerful weapon; we need to perfect delivery methods and more effective defenses and counterattacks against the lying machine, the only real weapon of mass destruction George W. Bush has discovered and one that may be his most lasting legacy unless Americans committed to democractic values and truth in journalism and government fight back. What can you do? Write a letter to the editor, call a radio talk show, attend a legislative hearing and testify, and compain loud and long when you confront Republican lies to hold elected officials and news media owners accountable. And don't stop there. Hold corporations accountable too. If they give heavily to Republican candidates or help pay for Tom DeLay's defense, consider buying elsewhere. For the facts you need, check out www.buyblue.org.
What Was New Back in July 2004There's been a lot of heroic Democratic fighting, some wins, and a lot of damage to our state and nation as a result of radical Republican counterfeit reform...and the lying about it continues. But most Americans now realize what's going on and how to stop this outrage: organize, work hard, and vote the jerks out in November. If you'd like to get more active, contact me if you live in Pct. 259 or call the Democratic Party HQ (see #s above). We need volunteers for blockwalking and phone banks as early as July 10. Let's all get busy and win back our country.
What Was New Back in May 2003Democrats are tireless workers for peace and democracy. Now is the time to speak your mind, loudly and as long as it takes to be heard by the Texas Legislature. Now that our brave Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives have stopped the "Tommymandering" attack on Travis County and our Congressman Lloyd Doggett by Tom Delay and Tom Craddick -- and don't forget to say thanks to them publicly through letters to the editors -- there are three big issues that deserve your immediate attention and voice. Please do as much as you can.
1. Help stop House Bill 2292 in the Texas Senate. On April 24, the Texas House passed an abomination of a bill to scuttle, scramble, and squeeze to death 11 state health and human services agencies, leaving 3 large agencies under 1 mega agency with the governor completely in charge, leaving hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable Texans without life-saving services, and leaving thousands of state workers without jobs except working for privateers. The floor debate showed the viciousness of the cuts and the refusal of the sponsors to consider ways to mitigate the human suffering. See the video replay. The state's best think-tank and advocate for the poor, the Center on Public Policy Priorities catalogues the harm the bill would do to needy people in every county. The state's best advocate for state employees, Texas State Employees Union, has an excellent analysis of the impact on citizens and public servants and an unequivocal position, which I wholeheartedly share: kill this bill. Call your Senator and email friends and family who live in Texas urging them to do the same.
2. Help stop House Bill 2 in the Texas Senate. (See the note above for what to do and where to find analysis of this reckless and destructive governance bill.) This bill would:
3. Demand a sensible state budget that will work for all Texans. Contact your Senator and Representative and urge friends and family statewide to do so as well. The people of Texas need to express their outrage at the inhumane treatment proposed for the next two years for those among them who need help to survive. The House passed an appropriations act that would endanger many lives, ending basic home care services to to 56,000 elderly and disabled Texans and Medicaid to 332,000 children, and mental health services to 10,000 Texans...and much more. The Senate cuts less but just as mercilessly: "only" 17,000 elderly/disabled, 298,000 children's Medicaid, and 5000 mental health services. Republican Sen. Bill Ratliff scolded the Senate for a shameful failure to raise the revenue and keep needy Texans in life-saving basic services, but he voted for the bill anyway. He's right that Texas deserves better, and he was wrong to vote for a budget that violates common decency. If enough Texans say so, we'll get a better budget out of the Conference Committee or a later special session.
Want to do more? Send an email or call local news media, using the Legislative Research Library's News Media list.
If you're a state employee and still not a member of Texas State Employees Union (TSEU), JOIN UP! Actions speak louder than words, and the increase in membership in TSEU will be heard by the the legislature. If you work in the private sector for wages, join or help organize a union. Your economic future and American democracy will improve as more wage earners organize. The American middle-class is losing the economic war that George W. Bush and the Republican Party deny they're waging relentlessly!
Get wired and help others keep up. In both the virtual world and the real one, personal access and the public and private infrastructure needed are major issues of growing significance. The term "Information Superhighway" conjures up images of fast global access, but like vehicle superhighways, the metaphor and vision are incomplete. In addition to superhighways, both virtual and real infrastructure "transportation/communication" paradigms need to include neighborhood street and sidewalk networks that allow for and support physical community and physical access to all its benefits by all who are in it, including those who don't own or operate a costly vehicle or Internet-enabled-computer. The interplay of major forces are creating a great opportunity and challenge. The forces include rapid technological advances, competition for the exploding online consumer population, transformation of business organizations and relationships, growing disparity in Internet access by income, and the lagging of some governments and non-profits in providing e-services and information. We can watch the revolution and hope our institutions and professions find a place in the new society that will take shape. Or we can take an active part and insist that all institutions of which we are a part focus on the challenges and opportunities to do their part to help shape a more equitable and democratic society using the new technology. For inspiration, ideas, and free help, see the Travis County Democratic Party webpage at www.traviscountydemocrats.org, Metropolitan Austin Interactive Network (MAIN) at www.main.org, Austin FreeNet at www.austinfree.net and Central Texas PC User Group at http://www.ctpcug.org.
Help with voter registration, voter turnout, voter education or conducting elections. Become a deputy voter registrar and help others do the same. Ask to be appointed as an election worker or judge. Contact your county voter registrar, county clerk or the state Secretary of State (SOS) Election Division. In Texas the SOS # 1-800-252-8683 or www.sos.state.tx.us. Or join the respected, non-partisan public service organization, the League of Women Voters. The LOWV in Austin is at http://www.leaguewv.austin.tx.us. Become informed, help inform others, and keep candidates, elected leaders, and the press focused on issues that matter to you and your community, not just what matters to wealthy campaign contributors and owners of newspapers and radio and television stations and networks.
Join your neighborhood's civic associations. In Milwood, the main one is the Milwood Neighborhood Association (MNA), an organization based on households (renting or owning doesn’t matter) with memberships of $15 per year (see http://www.milwoodna.com). There are also others, including a few smaller than MNA and a couple that include other associations as institutional members: the Austin Neighborhoods Council and the Northwest Austin Neighborhoods Association. The City of Austin maintains a listing of others that register to receive zoning and other notices (see http://www.ci.austin.tx.us). MNA and similar organzations are not the government; they are voluntary associations. They vary in purpose (political, social, environmental, etc.), membership restrictions (property owners only, or anyone resident or business, etc.), dues, formality, visibility, and organization. They also vary a lot in terms of representativeness. Usually those that require dues have memberships of 10% or less of the households in the area they represent. Those that are registered with the City of Austin receive notices about proposed zoning changes in their areas, and that’s about all that’s uniform and official. Anyone can form an association representing any or all parts of the city. Some neighborhoods have several with overlapping boundaries, which confuses neighbors and officials. However, spokespersons for associations usually get the attention of city staff and elected officials because associations mediate between government and residents and keep regular forums going (in meetings and newsletters) to identify and resolve concerns. Volunteers who keep these non-partisan but inherently political institutions going deserve thanks and support from everyone. To keep the organizations vital and spread the leadership and service opportunities, everyone should also consider taking a turn at serving on a board, committee, or project.
Participate in the Week of the Young Child every April. Honor and help focus public attention on the teachers and caregivers of children aged 0 through 8 years whose low wages are a continuing national disgrace. Contact: National Association for the Education of Young Children 1-800-424-2460. See also www.naeyc.org.
Celebrate National Volunteer Recognition Week every April. See the Points of Light Foundation for national observance information. Locally, honor volunteers who make a difference, such as those who run the Metropolitan Austin Interactive Network (MAIN, online at http://www.main.org), the non-profit organization that provides free webpages and related assistance to community organizations, including the Travis County Democratic Party Precinct 259 organization.
Celebrate Public Service Recognition Week the first week of May every year to inform citizens about the quality of people in government and the value of services they provide as well as to enhance excellence and esprit de corps in government, and encourage interest in public service careers. Public Employees Roundtable, a consortium of public-spirited organizations, offers free posters and guidebooks. See http://ourpublicservice.org/OPS/programs/psrw/. Locally, the CenTex Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration sponsors collaborative planning of events (see http://www.main.org/aspa).
Promote the Earned income Tax Credit to help working, low-income families with children get the benefit that encourages work and helps millions escape poverty. Help provide transportation to, advertise or conduct a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance workshop. For more information, contact the U.S. Internal Revenue Service 1-800 829-1040 or the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 202 408-1080 or www.cbpp.org.
Organize a Neighborhood Watch and observe National Night Out every year on the first Tuesday in October throughout Texas since 2008 and the first Tuesday in August elsewhere. Contact your local law enforcement agency (in Austin, see the Austin Police Department Crime Prevention Webpage at www.ci.austin.tx.us/police/crime.htm) or the National Association for Town Watch at 1-800-648-3688 to register for a visit by law enforcement staff and to receive free promotional items (posters, flyers, and more). See also www.nno.org.
Learn and teach others about your area's unique natural environment. The MNA Wildflower Committee led by Gene Heinemann has for several years helped restore native prairie diversity to a meadow at Balcones District Park, and volunteers are always welcome (call Gene at 339-0618). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is at email@example.com or 512 292-4100 voice or 292-4627 fax, 4801 LaCrosse Avenue. See http://www.wildflower.org.
There are many more rewarding service opportunities. Fellow Milwood Democrats, please send a note about your favorites and receive a boost and link here!
This webpage, http://www.main.org/dem259, is political advertising paid for by Reuben Leslie, Precinct Chair for Precinct 259, Travis County Democratic Party. Comments and questions are welcome by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Updated 30 June 2011.