Archive for the ‘Democracy Summer 2009’ Category

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Greenville Checking In:

July 28, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve last blogged, but we’ve been so busy down here in Greenville that I’ve barely had time!

The month of July seemed to seriously fly by and I cannot believe we’re already in our last week! We’ve done so much, including hosting Pitt County’s first-ever Democracy North Carolina Open House and having the wonderful Tracy Burton throw a terrific house party where Brittany and I gave our best presentation to date!

Both of us also had letters to the editor in the Greenville Daily Reflector:
http://www.reflector.com/opinion/demand-democracy-and-clean-elections-722183.html

We’ve also had some interesting experiences with the locals at the Pitt Community College Summer Splash event. The three of us went to PCC to register people to vote and ended up getting invited to be a part of the G-vegas magazine’s swimsuit calendar, which we were told is “tasteful enough for your grandmother to put on her wall.”

I’ll let you decided: Classy or Trashy?
http://www.g-vegasmagazine.com/

But, other than that we’ve been really busy around here with a lot of speaking engagements with the Lions Club of Ayden, Beaufort County NAACP and Beaufort County Democratic Women.

I cannot wait to see everyone and their final presentations of learning on Thursday! It’s been an amazing summer and I’m truly sad that everything has been said and done. Love you Dem NC and keep fighting the good fight for clean elections!

– Katy

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Brian’s Verbal Diarrhea

June 26, 2009

CapMorganIt happens to all of us eventually…  a slip of the tongue, a mixing up of one or two letters, a brief lapse of concentration and out it comes… a parapraxis (the dreaded Freudian slip)!

This week, while explaining how Voter Owned Elections will work in the town’s local races, Brian told our Chapel Hill Town Hall audience (as well as ALL of the folks watching on TV from home) that, “Once a candidates collects a minimum number qualifying contributions, he or she will get the runs for the rest of their campaign.” Um, yeah, Brian. If that doesn’t convince candidates to opt into the program, nothing will!

Obviously, Brian mean to say “funds” but also had the word “run,” as in “run for office” in his mind and out came the… well, you get it.

This slip caught me so off guard that I laughed out loud, perhaps the greatest compromise of my professionalism since the staff holiday party. I’m just EXTREMELY glad Jonathan wasn’t with us in Chapel Hill that night, because it would have been “That’s the WORST!” all over again!

Several people in the audience struggled (and failed) to suppress their giggles,  including one older woman who almost fell out of her seat trying to hold back a cackle. Way to connect with the older generation, Brian!

Luckily, Brian recovered quickly, despite his own chuckle at his mistake, and went on to give a great presentation.

Durham team: Thanks for another GREAT week!

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Good Sports!

June 23, 2009

BrianandballparkLowRezDespite several weeks of phone banking, night time presentations, weekend work and long hours — plus a long weekend of Wellstone Training ahead —  Brian, Christina (both with the Durham Dem Summer team) and Katy (Greenville Team) all showed with friends to join us for the benefit baseball game on June 18th. Dem NC staffers and supporters joined them, along with the folks from the Coalition for Southern Justice who had organized the event to raise money to pay for scholarships to Wellstone Training. The night was HOT, the game was irrelevant and the company grand. Before the game, there was a Happy Hour and reception at the West End Wine Bar on Main Street and the joint was PACKED with people who were chilling in the air condtioning before wading out into the hot and muggy Carolina night. Baseball is almost an anachronism to a generation used to nonstop movement and the instant joys of technology, but it retains its beauty and there’s a lot to be said for sitting for a few hours, no multi-tasking possible, and simply taking a deep breath. Many thanks to those of you who participated and helped raise money for the cause!

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I’ll just meet you in the LOBBY (DAY)

June 23, 2009

Lobby Day (June 17)

It was our first meeting of the day with representative Timothy Spear and I was hoping I wasn’t about to be SPEARED. I was pretty nervous going into his office (hello: this guy is the big leagues!) because this was the first time I had ever done any sort of lobbying and the last thing I wanted was to make a fool of myself in front of a politician. But, fortunately for me, Tia was calm and collected (as always) and SPEAR- headed our campaign for HB-120, HB-1260, and SB-966. She is so poised when she speaks, I was put at ease almost instantly and speaking to a legislator became no different than speaking to an average Joe on the street. Spear, unfortunately, was hesitant to pledge support for our cause (a disappointing start for the day) but having one “no” under our belts made the rest of the day sail pretty smoothly. We met with several other legislators including Representatives Owens, Allen, Davis (Who was an absolute delight to meet and hear speak!), and Braxton.

The most interesting aspect to lobby day was uncovering why certain legislators voted as they did. It was the inevitable battle between “should I vote as a representative of my constituents/to get reelected?” or “should I vote for what I believe is legislatively right?” It was incredibly frustrating for me to realize how easily a politician can be persuaded to vote a particular way because influential backers that supported them do not support particular legislation. For the first time, I SAW and HEARD why our work at Democracy North Carolina is so important. Legislators should represent all the people, not just the ones with the most power.

Overall, though, Lobby Day was a really exciting experience and hopefully we’ll be able to head back up to Raleigh sometime soon and we’ll return to Greenville with less “maybes” and more “yeses!”

Brittany, Tia, and I were joined by Ryan Downey of Greenville and Marvin Arrington of Nash County during the day. Ryan, with his endless supply of history and information about Raleigh and the North Carolina legislature, and Marvin, with his enlightening insight and immense popularity with the legislators, were both great additions to our trio! Thanks guys 🙂

That’s all for now!

– Katy Koesy

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Fayetteville’s Got it Going ON!!!!!

June 16, 2009

Hey Everyone,

It’s a week and a half into the internship and over here with the Fayetteville team, things have been going great…well now it is!  For the first two days we didn’t have any air or any Internet, which left us hot and without any access to the outside world.  Every time we needed to look up something instead of Googling,we had to go to the phone book and the encyclopedia.   To keep cool we brought ice cream and Popsicles but they ended up on my forehead rather than me eating them!

After a couple of days we finally got some air and we were able to Google (lol), and consequently the door opened for us, giving us the go ahead with the implementation of our Master Plan (wouldn’t you all like to know what that is???).  We soon began preparing for our first speaking engagement and radio appearance.  I knew that both would be a nerve racking experience but I was ready to see how Jackie and I worked under pressure and in front of an audience. We arrived at the radio station early that morning at I had my radio voice ready for the world to hear!  We debuted at WIDU during the Wake Up morning show.  We were there to talk about Instant Runoff Voting but ended up discussing an array of topics including VOE as well.  With us on the show was Fayetteville’s NAACP President James Buxton and Representative Elmer Floyd so we got to rub elbows with influential people in the community.  The show was great and we are lined up to make even more appearances at the radio station in the weeks to come!

Later on that day at our first official speaking engagement, we spoke to the Hoke County Civic Group ending up  by doing a fabulous job (not a surprise)!!!!  We got great feedback from them and many people signed up for Lobby Day as well as wanting to take action.  The following day we had a meeting with Terry Robertson, the Director of the Board of Elections in a one on one meeting discussing the day to day operations of the board and problems that she sometimes faces as director.  She was very well receptive to us, gave us great information to take home and asked us to come back at anytime!  That day was another double hitter with us attending the school board meeting where they announced the new superintendent of Cumberland County.  We got listen to the citizens issues with education at the open forum and listen to the tremendous cuts that education has taken with the times.

WOW! Now that I have wrote that I realize we have been doing alot!  As you can see the Fayetteville team has got it going on!!!!

Until Next Time,

Reniki

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RINGING in a new week…

June 16, 2009

Week 2:

Week 2 for the Greenville team kept both Brittany and I in CHECK as we completed three days of some intense phoneBANKing. Brittany is a pro on the phone though, she was able to get through almost 70 callers a day while my slow self barely completed 50 calls.  We both decided it was because I leave super long and informative messages on people’s answering machines: I’m sure many have missed the start of their favorite tv show waiting and praying for my message to end. But, we pushed through the three days of “Hello, My name is…” and managed to get through our C-list of callers (Kathy Griffith would be proud) and we’ll start on the coveted B-list on our next phone bank.

The rest of the week was spent preparing for our house party we are planning to hold in late July here in Greenville (we’ll be like the PINK ladies as we “get this party started”), contacting Eastern North Carolina’s congressmen and women for meetings on June 17 (We LOBBIED hard for about 5 scheduled meetings we already have for that day), and trying to plan some speaking engagements for the rest of the month.

But the big event of the week was our presentation about Voter-owned elections and the Public Municipal Campaign bill at the Greenville Town Council Meeting on Thursday June 11. Brittany and I spoke during the public comment section of the meeting where residents are allowed three minutes to address the council about any issue they choose so long as it is not related to the public hearing issues discussed at the town council meeting.

Brittany, Tia and I arrived to the meeting early and pumped and ready to address the council only to find that the public comment meeting was AFTER the public hearing session, so we ended up waiting for about an hour and a half of the council arguing about the extent to which they should follow code enforcement just for our three minute spiel. And all that while those nerves and excitement were stirring in the pit of my stomach.

[INSERT RANDOM TANGENT]

This is SUCH a “pay-it-forward moment” that I have to interject during our week to tell it. So, our first week, after work, Tia, Brittany, and I went to a starbucks on 10th street here in Greenville. Every week the starbucks has a contest where they have a quote from a movie and if you guess what movie the quote came from, you get a free tall drink. By the time we saw the quote, all three of us had already gotten a drink but Tia and I were curious about where the quote came from, so we looked it up on her blackberry. When we found the answer, I went to the barista and asked for a “delay of drink” so I could come back later and get a drink because I knew the movie of the quote.

Unfortunately, she said she had to make the drink then. Well, I thought, I just had a coffee and I don’t want another, so whatever. But, at that moment a man was getting ready to order and I thought, “this is my pay-it-forward moment: I’ll let him get a drink for free and I’ll feel so much like Haley Joel Osmond that maybe I’ll see dead people when I finally meet Bruce Willis.”

So, I asked the man if he wanted a free drink and told him about the movie quote and the free drink, etc. Now, this man was nicely dressed in his collared shirt and tie, holding his computer-bag briefcase, and was clearly some sort of professional grabbing a cup-of-joe after work and he insisted on paying me for the drink that he got for free. I was so surprised by that but I immediately refused to have him pay me for doing nothing at all and I went back to Tia and Brittany. haha, both the girls told me later they thought he thought I was homeless because they saw him trying to give me money!!

As the man was leaving, the barista called me back over and handed me a gift card she told me the man with the briefcase had left me.  The whole event left me in awe because it really was an example of two people doing something really nice for each other, which is a breath of fresh air in a world of anger.

ANYWAY, to come full circle if you will, the irony is that as Brittany and I were walking into the town council chamber, no other than the briefcase man himself walked in, sat down in front of us, and pulled out his laptop. I was freaking out: “ohmygod, that’s my pay-it-foward pal,” “do you think he recognizes me??”

Sadly, he didn’t. But, I recognized him and it just reminded me again that there is a little goodness left in this cynical world.

[END RANDOM TANGENT]

But, it was worth the wait when Brittany and I finally got to have our “3 minutes of fame.” We confidently, boldly, and successfully told the town council about the legislation we are pushing, expanding voter-owned elecitons, and garnering support for a fairer and cleaner democracy. PLUS: we were on TV. Beat that other teams!

Well, it was definitely an exciting week (again!) and I will keep you all updated! Thanks for reading!

–  Katy Koesy

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I wish I had a snazzy title

June 15, 2009

Week two of Democracy Summer entailed Young Democrat meetings, potato bread and trips to Fox Studio Charlotte. We began the week with a visit from our illustrious leader, Adam, for instruction on how to phone bank properly and schedule speaking engagements. With his guidance, America and I chatted our way to more than 25 commitments to contact legislators and an appointment to speak with the Senior Democrats, well, in July, but better late than never, right?

Wednesday began with a scenic tour through Charlotte, I got lost which I attribute to a wide variety of things, but most of the blame I give to Robert’s poor instruction giving. America, Robert and I attended the Homeless Helping Homeless meeting, an organization designed to mobilize the less fortunate into helping others, spinning a never ending circle of virtue. We listened to the rift between public libraries and the homeless population of Charlotte, and we were all reminded that the homeless, despite their predicament, are individuals struggling to make it in the same world we are. As I sat there and listened to their hardships, I remembered the importance of egalitarianism and the necessity to fight for it.

Thursday morning, America and I got to witness the naturalization of citizens at Homeland Security for the second time. However, this time, I got to speak! Ms. Levy, a rep for the LWV, allowed me the opportunity to speak about our organization and walk the new citizens through the voter registration form. I felt so privileged to share the day with the new citizens and welcome them to America.  Afterwards, I walked into the men’s room by mistake and thereby ended the poetic beauty of the day. Way to go Sarah!

Fast forward to Sunday evening: following phonebanking: the weekend edition, America and I ventured to a Young Democrats meeting to speak about Preregistration and VOE. Upon arrival we noticed a sign saying the meeting had been moved due to lack of air conditioning (wimps). So we jay-walked over to the Hilton and braced ourselves to speak. Two hours later, after budget talks, book club selections and America almost throwing up on House Rep. Nick Mackey, we stood up, in the middle of a restaurant (with other nonaffiliated patrons) and gave our talk. We managed to collect multiple post cards for VOE, and I learned why the YD’s had to meet in a restaurant: after 50 minutes of budget discussions gouging myself with a sharp fork for an escape route to the ER sounded like a plan.

I’ve learned a plethora of information this week alone, such as how many McDonald’s are on Independence Blvd, the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp, and our very own Robert Dawkins bares a striking resemblance to Carlton from Fresh Prince. This week I’ve noticed the mandatory introspection that comes with an internship such as this. Since beginning this internship I’ve done things I never thought I would do and been apart of things I never knew could exist. I’ve definitely been removed from my comfort zone and forced to confront whatever reaction I exhibited. I’m learning about myself, my abilities and my decision-making, for better or worse.

Sarah, Charlotte