Help Jane Win!

I’m all in! Jane Raybould is running for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska. Jane could not be more qualified. She has been part of a successful family business, a City Councilwoman, and a County Commissioner. And she is a good person – how often do we hear that now? Not very often, that’s for sure.

In announcing her candidacy Jane said: “As a business owner, job creator, public servant, wife and mom with two great kids, I truly believe America only succeeds when all of us succeed.” And the nation needs “leaders who will put people before party and common sense before political games.”

Jane wants to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee, something neither of our current Senators has chosen to do; and in a state where Agriculture and Food Processing are our biggest industries. For more on Jane’s policy statements check out the Lincoln Journal Star  and Facebook.

You can sign up to donate to Jane and/or volunteer with her campaign at her site.

On February 8, 2017, I wrote about why I would not be voting for Deb Fischer in 2018. Those reasons are still true, and there are even more reasons since that time to not vote for Fischer. After the violence from white supremacists, the KKK, and Neo-Nazis at Charlottesville – what did Fischer say? Nothing! ! After Trump said there were “very fine people” among those same white supremacists, the KKK, and Neo-Nazis, what did Fischer say? Nothing!

At her re-election announcement in June, Fischer said: “It has been the honor of my lifetime to be your fighter, and today I am asking you for the chance to keep on fighting for our shared values,” It has become clear to me that her values are NOT my values. She voted to confirm Betsy DeVos, she voted to gut the Affordable Care Act without a rational replacement plan, and she supports the current administrative blindly and without caring how those policies affect Nebraskans, her constituents.

Please join me in helping elect Jane Raybould. Read about Jane, and I think you’ll see that she is the future we need in Nebraska.

My New Planned Parenthood License Plate

If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever buy a vanity license plate, I would have given you an emphatic “no”. A license plate is utilitarian; its purposes are to identify your car for law enforcement and prove you paid your car taxes, but not much else. Political statements belong on bumper stickers or license plate holders. My license plate holders support Husker Women’s Basketball and Husker Baseball.

However, that changed forever in Nebraska when the Nebraska Legislature approved a “Choose Life” license plate and politicized license plates in Nebraska. During the debate on these plates, many senators argued that the plate was not political. However, that lie was exposed when Governor Ricketts signed the bill into law authorizing the new plates, calling it the first pro-life legislation signed into law in Nebraska since 2011.

Pro-life legislators conceded that the bill was necessary because they were not able to get 250 supporters to pay $70 each for a pro-life license plate.

However, those of us supporting Planned Parenthood believe that there are more than 250 people willing to pay $70 for a license plate supporting women’s right to choose. I have purchased my plate, and I encourage others to buy a plate and/or contribute $70 for an individual who would like this new plate but cannot afford it. You can purchase your plate or donate funds for others to have a plate here.

I believe in the resistance, and I believe it will be a long, hard four years ahead of us. We can take some joy in the Nebraska Unicameral standing up to the governor and reinstating funding for Title X clinics in Nebraska and in the election of two Democrats to the Lincoln City Council, including Bennie Shobe, a candidate endorsed by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. But I can assure you that every day I drive my car with my “My Body, My Choice” Planned Parenthood license plate, it will put a smile on my face. Please join me.

Nebraska Unicameral Set to Defund Title X Clinics

What is Title X Funding? Title X is a federal grant distributed to states to fund family planning clinics, including contraceptive information and services, annual well-woman exams, STD testing and treatment and HPV testing and vaccinations. Low income men and women can access Title X services on a sliding fee scale. More information about Title X here.
The Nebraska Legislature is attempting to cut Title X funding for stand alone reproductive health clinics, and they’re doing it through the back door. The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee made a small, but crucial change to this year’s appropriations bill, LB327. That change prioritizes Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), hospitals, and local health departments for Title X Funding. Clinics that would not be prioritized and could lose their funding include
* Central Health Center in Grand Island and Kearney
* Family Health Services in Southeast Nebraska serving Crete, Lincoln, and other small communities
* People’s Family Health Services in North Platte
* Planned Parenthood in Omaha and Lincoln
Under this proposal, women in North Platte (where I grew up) would need to travel to Gering (172 miles) or Hastings (153 miles) to access Title X services. The clinics listed above currently serve 14,500 unduplicated patients and would lose over $1 million in federal funding. This is not a program which affects the Nebraska budget. The money is a pass-through from the federal government.
I believe it is clear that Governor Ricketts and Lt. Governor Foley are attempting to cut several family planning clinics out of the budget to support their personal anti-woman and anti-reproductive freedom agendas. They did not do it through a bill which would have required a public hearing on the matter. Instead, they inserted it (buried it) in the 138 page appropriations bill, hoping that no one would notice. The Appropriations Committee asked the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to give the Committee a reason for the change from previous years’ Title X funding. DHHS has failed to provide that answer or a response. It is key to remember that DHHS works under the Executive branch of government, and their Director reports directly to the Governor.
Can FQHCs, hospitals, and local health departments serve the 14,500 patients currently being served by stand alone Title X clinics? FQHCs in Lincoln and Omaha have waiting lists; they refer their family planning patients to stand alone Title X clinics. Hospitals in many cities do not serve family planning patients. Many local health departments only provide vaccinations, not family planning serves. I do not believe these 14,500 patients can be served by other Title X providers.
This provision was debated in the Unicameral. Today on a 17-19 vote Senators voted down Amendment 1198 which would have eliminated this discriminatory provision. 25 votes are needed to amend the bill. As you can see from the vote today, many Senators chose not to vote. Senator Chambers then filibustered on the Motion to Reconsider Amendment 1198. After a very long day, LB327 advanced. There are still two more votes before the LB327 becomes final. Please call your State Senator and ask them to strike this offensive provision in LB327. Links to your Senator’s webpage can be found here.
The reproductive health of low-income men and women across the State of Nebraska is at stake. Please call your Senator before it is too late.

Why should we care about the Georgia 6th?

I live in the First Congressional District in Nebraska. Why should I care about the Georgia 6th?

Let me tell you a story. In 2008 I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Breast cancer research got me an early diagnosis through a screening mammogram. DNA testing of my tumor showed that I only needed surgery & radiation treatment, not chemotherapy.  Nine years later I am still cancer free. I am grateful for the breast cancer research that occurred before my diagnosis and formed the basis for my treatment protocol.

In 2009 one of my closest friends, Myrta Hansen, died from endometrial cancer. I was sad; I was angry; and I wanted to do something bold and maybe just a little crazy. I found what I was looking for in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. For those of you who don’t know, the 3-Day is a 60 mile walk, 20 miles a day for 3 days. In addition, you have to fundraise in order to participate. I somehow talked my college roommate, Judith Siminoe, into doing it with me. We trained, individually since we live in different states. I even walked the Lincoln half marathon as part of my training. We raised money, and we talked to everyone we knew about the 3-Day. We told them that Komen raises money for breast cancer research and screenings. How could there be a better cause?

We did the 2010 walk in Seattle. For me it was a life changing experience, and I felt empowered and as though I had done something significant. Walking for three days with breast cancer survivors and people who had lost family members to breast cancer was incredible. Seattle

I signed up for the 3-Day in Washington, DC for 2011. My friend Marcia White agreed to walk with me, and four friends went to crew. Crew members work day and night to enable the walkers to complete their walk. We had torrential rain in DC, and those crew members were heroic in their efforts to keep our campsite free of mud. BTW who knew that rats ran out of the sewers in Chinatown and would run through the groups of walkers. Our walk ended at the White House and the Washington Monument.WhiteHouse

I signed up to walk the 3-Day in 2012. On January 31, 2012, the Komen Foundation announced they would no longer fund Planned Parenthood breast cancer screenings. I was just getting ready to start fundraising and training for the 2012 walk. I was shocked and angry; I followed Facebook late into the night as 3-Day walkers and other Komen supporters voiced their support for Planned Parenthood over the Komen Foundation. Hundreds of walkers vowed never to walk or raise money for Komen again; I was one of them. Andrea Mitchell interviewed Komen CEO Nancy Brinker in what became a PR disaster for Komen. The interview is here. An excellent analysis of the entire situation is here.

It soon became clear that Karen Handel, a newly hired Komen executive, was behind the move to cut Planned Parenthood off from future Komen funding. This is the same Karen Handel who is running against Jon Ossoff in the Georgia 6th. Part of my mission in this new normal is to do everything I can to make sure that the anti-choice, Planned Parenthood hating Karen Handel is not elected to any public office. An analysis of the Georgia 6th and Handel is here.

So I am asking you to consider a donation to Jon Ossoff’s campaign even if you don’t live in the Georgia 6th, because we all know we don’t need another anti-choice, Planned Parenthood hating congressional representative in the House of Representatives. #Flipthe 6th

And remember to vote in the Lincoln and Omaha general elections on May 2, 2017. I am endorsing Leirion Gaylor Baird, Bennie Shobe, and Maggie Mae Squires for City Council and Zachary James for Airport Authority.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Fierce! Be a Warrior!

Graham Spanier, former President of Penn State University, was convicted of one count of misdemeanor child endangerment on March 24, 2017. This is a first degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, and Spanier could receive up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In my mind it is far too little and far too late, especially for the many victims of Jerry Sandusky, a child predator who was allowed to use the Penn State football facilities as a place to molest as many as 30 vulnerable children. This article at PennLive provides additional details of the conviction.

When this horrific situation first came to light, I tried to imagine what I would do. You see an adult male naked in a shower with a naked child that he appears to be touching or groping or something. I hope that I would have screamed at him to get away from the child, wrapped the child in a towel and called the police. I can understand (but do not condone) why football graduate assistant Mike McQueary who saw this scene did not do anything on March 1, 2002. He was young, and Sandusky was revered by the football department. This does not excuse the fact he did nothing for this child at the time he saw this incident. However, McQueary did tell his father what happened and reported it to then Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and then Penn State Vice President Gary Schultz.

Curley and Schultz both plead guilty to one count of misdemeanor endangering the welfare of children and agreed to testify against Spanier. They also face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Curley has stated: “I pleaded guilty because I felt like I should have done more,” and Schultz stated: “I felt I had been deficient in not reporting it myself.”

Curley and Schultz discussed the Sandusky situation with Spanier, and they all decided to basically do nothing. They characterized what was seen as “horseplay”. Seriously? How is a naked adult with a naked boy alone in a shower not a red flag for possible sexual abuse of a child? Curley, Schultz, and Spanier were seasoned administrators; they had a responsibility to that child, to every child who was assaulted after that date, to McQueary, and to Penn State to have done something about the situation in 2002. Instead, nothing about this ongoing sexual abuse became public until 2011.

I have heard people say that this could not have happened at their institution. I am sorry; they are naïve, delusional, and just plain wrong. This could happen at any institution; as long as people are willing to turn their heads and ignore or cover up wrongdoing.

Just ask Baylor University, a conservative Baptist University. Sports Illustrated wrote a detailed timeline of the problems at Baylor, which include allegations of sexual assault, domestic violence and other acts of violence involving several Baylor football players. Baylor’s situation could not have gone on so long without the collusion and cover up by the University and especially by the football program. Art Briles, head Football Coach, and Ken Starr, University President, were both eventually fired for their roles in this scandal. Technically, Starr resigned; but it is clear that was a forced resignation.

I have been a prosecutor; and as an Assistant Attorney General, I argued and briefed criminal appeals. I have read the trial transcripts for murder cases, sexual assaults, and child sexual assaults. I have seen the testimony of an entire family that they all slept every night on the floor of their teenage daughter’s room after she was sexually assaulted. The perpetrator threatened her by telling her that he would kill her family if she told anyone. She was too afraid to go to sleep because she was terrified for her family, so they all slept in her room.

I argued a case where a very small child’s testimony proved insufficient to prove that her stepfather sexually assaulted her. Between the trial and the Nebraska Supreme Court argument, the child’s mother committed suicide.

Terrible, horrific things happen, but these cases can only be prosecuted if someone comes forward to testify. If people look away or refuse to get involved, there can be no prosecution and no justice for these victims. And if these criminals are not prosecuted, they may go out and commit crimes against new victims.

My previous blog post discussed the proposed cuts to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which could prove disastrous for victim services.

So I ask each of you, will you look away, or will you be fierce and speak up?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Priority One – Lincoln City Council Election – April 4, 2017

I was at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser Thursday night, and a wise woman told me that we as a community need to prioritize the upcoming Lincoln City Elections. She is absolutely correct. The primary election is April 4, 2017; the General Election is May 2, 2017. It is our first opportunity since the Presidential election to voice our preferences for elected officials, and we need to take advantage of that opportunity!

There are three at large seats open on the Lincoln City Council. Four Democrats, three Republicans, and one Independent are running for election. I encourage each and every one of you to do your own research on these candidates and make your own decisions.

I will tell you that I am supporting Leirion Gaylor Baird and Bennie Shobe, that includes giving them financial support as well as committing to vote for them. I am still doing my research to determine who the third candidate is that I will be voting for.

Democrat Leirion Gaylor Baird is an incumbent on the City Council. She has proven to be a strong advocate for Lincoln, and she is intelligent and steady. Check out her website and the Journal Star article about her.

Democrat Bennie Shobe is a community activist and says he will represent working people in Lincoln. Bennie is also a strong supporter of human rights, and that is very important to me. Check out his website and the Journal Star article about him.

Lou Bratz III is the third Democrat running for City Council. Check out his website and the Journal Star article about him.

Maggie May Squires is the fourth Democrat running for City Council. Check out her website and the Journal Star article about her.

Two City Council candidates’ forums were held last week, and there is an excellent article about them here. “Candidates were asked if they would support or advocate for Planned Parenthood to be listed as a resource on the city’s webpage regarding domestic violence and sexual assault, and if they would take proactive measures to help Planned Parenthood become part of the sexual assault-response team.” Shobe, Braatz, and Independent Deb Andrews all supported working with Planned Parenthood on domestic-assault issues. Gaylor Baird “supports including Planned Parenthood on a list of agencies but suggested there should be a statement on the website that this is not an endorsement of a particular viewpoint because of the controversy.” Supporting Planned Parenthood is very important to me, and these answers will help me decide the third candidate I will be voting for.

I encourage each of you to do your own research and decide who you support. If you have the means, support those candidates with financial donations. And most importantly, go VOTE on April 4!

Monday is the beginning of the Senate hearings on Judge Neil Gorsuch. For my thoughts on the Republican campaign to get him approved and on Judge Gorsuch, check out my previous post I Don’t Care What Jane Thinks!.

On Day 49 of the legislative session, the Nebraska Unicameral finally adopted their permanent rules for the session. The rules remain as they have for several years – it takes 33 votes to invoke cloture. This is a huge win for Senator Ernie Chambers and the progressives in the Legislature. Kudos to Senator Chambers’ tenacity in making this happen. More information is found in the Omaha World Herald article.

A big weekend for the Husker Softball and Baseball teams. After rough starts to the season, both teams went 3-0. Beautiful spring-like weather was an extra perk. Go Big Red!

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

In 1970 Lillian Hashiba Trimble was murdered by her husband. Lillian  grew up on the farm next to my mother’s family in rural Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska. The families were very close, and my mother and Lillian were close friends from childhood through college. At the time she was killed, I was a child, and my mother only told us that her friend had died, and the children were going to live with their maternal aunt and uncle. Always an inquisitive child, I know I asked my mother many times why the children could not live with their father; she just said he could not take care of the children. That did not make sense to my child’s mind and my personal experiences with a loving family.

I was in my twenties when my mother told me the whole story. Lillian’s husband shot her in front of their two children (ages 2 and 3), took the children to his sister’s home, and fled to Canada (they were living in New Jersey). He was later apprehended, extradited back to the US, and killed himself in prison.

I have two friends whose mothers were murdered, one by a stepfather, the other’s case remains an unsolved murder. Violence against women is not a new story. “In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. That’s an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner.” National Organization for Women.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as: “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional or psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically.” Every nine seconds a woman in the United States is beaten or sexually assaulted.

In early October, writer Kelly Oxford tweeted about the first time she was assaulted, at the age of 12 on a city bus when an older man grabbed her genitals. She asked others to tweet their experiences, using the hashtag #notokay. A million women responded. “Groped. Penetrated. Rubbed against. Exposed. Masturbated on. Stalked. Slapped. Raped. Forcibly kissed.” are some of the comments they tweeted.

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The outpouring of sharing moved me to share the information above, something which I had not shared before. As women we have all had our own experiences or know the experiences of friends and family who have been sexually assaulted and/or beaten.

The Violence Against Women Act was passed by Congress in 1994. “VAWA provides $1.6 billion over six years for education, research, treatment of domestic and sex-crime victims, and the improvement of state criminal justice systems. It also distributed funds to increase safety for women on public transportation, for shelters, and for youth education programs. In addition, it provides funds for the training of judges and other court personnel in combating gender bias in the courts, and also authorizes funding to pay the cost of testing for sexually transmitted diseases for victims of Sexual Abuse and to increase safety on college campuses.”

Federal grant funding to local governments to improve the keeping of crime statistics and for the protection of battered immigrant women and children is managed by the U.S. Department of Justice, now run by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who voted against VAWA funding as a Senator in 2012.

“Last October, Sessions was asked about the controversial 2005 Access Hollywood video that showed Trump bragging about grabbing women’s genitals without their consent. ‘I don’t characterize that as sexual assault,’ he told the Weekly Standard. ‘I think that’s a stretch.’ […]”Daily Kos. Sessions appears to have forgotten everything he learned in law school. Trump’s comments definitely describe a sexual assault.

“Sessions has been silent on his plans for the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women, which is responsible for enforcing VAWA and funding services for victims. But a blueprint from the Heritage Foundation—a powerful conservative group with close ties to the Trump team—calls for eliminating all Violence Against Women grants.” Daily Kos.

President Trump has indicated his intent to cut funding for the 25 VAWA grant programs currently administered by the Justice Department. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts’s proposed budget would cut state funding for violence against women programs in half.

Please consider donating to your local domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs. In Lincoln, those programs are Voices of Hope and Friendship Home. Voices of Hope runs the crisis line for domestic violence, sexual assault, and incest; they also provide counseling, support groups, support victims in emergency rooms, accompany survivors to court, and assist in obtaining protection orders. Friendship Home provides safety planning, emergency shelter, and transitional services for domestic violence victims and their families.

Nebraska Legislature Update – Monday, March 6, 2017, is Day 41 of the session. The temporary rules have been extended until Day 50. No permanent rules have been passed. They spent 3 days last week discussing LB46A, an appropriations bill for the offensively political “Choose Life” license plate. Stay tuned to see if they can pass a budget in the remaining days.