POWER News for February 1, 2016

Join us tonight for February POWER Outage!

Journal Making and Autobiography Writing Workshop

5:30 tonight
February 1

POWER, 309 5th Avenue SE
in downtown Olympia
next door to Rainy Day Records

You are welcome to bring a potluck dish to share.

From 6 – 8 we will each be creating our own personal journal to take home. And we will discuss different ways of writing in a journal and how to use a journal to write your own life story.

Materials will be provided, and if you have more stuff you want to bring please do. Each person is encouraged to make their journal however they want it! It might be helpful to think ahead of time about how you want it to look and bring stuff to make it that way. It will be optional to share a journal entry but no one will be pressured.

Kids are welcome. Alya from the Olympia Childcare Collective will be on hand for fun and play. Children are also welcome to make journals.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Contact POWER at:

POWER – Parents Organizing For Welfare and Economic Rights
309 5th Avenue SE,
Olympia, WA 98501

toll free 866-343-9716

Find us on Facebook at http://facebook.com/mamapower.org

POWER is an organization of low-income parents and allies advocating for a strong social safety net while working toward a world where children and care giving are truly valued, and the devastation of poverty has been eradicated.


  1. Join Columbia Legal Services in fighting for TANF grant increase this legislative session! Would you be willing to testify? Write your TANF story? Let us know!
  2. Sign Mom’s Rising’s petition to make paid family leave a priority this legislative session!
  3. Elizabeth Warren’s interesting Op Ed about corporate welfare and presidents!
  4. Interested in going to the Oly Old Time Fest, but don’t have $30? Volunteer! Also workshops are free!
  5. Another volunteer opportunity. Apply to join Olympia Food Cooperative Board and earn hours toward a 25% discount in groceries!

1. Complete the TANF Grant Restoration Provide Opportunity for Self-Sufficiency

TANF is a critical safety net for poor and homeless families and children. The maximum cash grant for a family is $521.

Increasing the grant to $562 would restore cuts made to
weather the Great Recession.

Child poverty in WA continues to grow

  • 1 in 5 kids (18%) live in poverty
  • There are now 291,000 kids living in poverty, an increase of 42,000 since 2009
  • 45% of all K-12 students had to apply for free or reduced lunch last year
  • Black, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian or Alaskan Native children are about 3 times as likely to grow up in poverty as white non- Hispanic children.
  • 31% of kids have parents that struggle to find safe and secure employment

Jenny from Walla Walla

TANF helped Jenny and her husband keep their children clothed, fed, warm, clean, and able to focus in school. It helped pay for transportation and clothing so Jenny could get a job. While now working, her family still struggles to make ends meet.

Serving poor and homeless families and children.

  • 4,822 families are currently on TANF and homeless.
  • Only 10% of housed TANF families live in subsidized housing. 90% pay market rate.
  • Most TANF families have 1 or 2 children. The birthrate in TANF families is lower than the general population.
  • Applicants with more than $1,000 in assets or a car worth more than $5,000 are not eligible.
  • There are no undocumented recipients on TANF.

To receive TANF, families must:

  • Exhibit need. TANF only serves WA’s poorest, most vulnerable families. Households making more than 62% FPL are not eligible.
  • Work. TANF recipients must participate in activities designed to lead them to a steady job to receive a grant. Families that do not participate are sanctioned 40% and terminated after 2 months.
  • Become self-sufficient. WA has a hard 5-year time limit. Only 5% of recipients receive a federal exception to stay on longer. The exceptions are few – permanent disability, senior age, domestic violence, and working > 32 hours/week.

Today’s grant is historically low and must be increased.

  • TANF does not account for inflation, meaning that today’s grant is worth 36% less than the grant in 1996
  • The legislature recently increased the grant from $478 to $521. This marked a down payment toward complete restoration of cuts from the Great Recession
  • Increasing the grant to $562 would complete the restoration
  • The fiscal cost to accomplish this would be approximately $15M over the remainder of the biennium ­ For more information, contact Robin Zukoski 360.943.6260, robin.zukoski@columbialegal.org

2. Family comes first.

We all know that, but too often our out-of-touch workplace policies force people to make an impossible choice between caring for their family and the job that provides for them. Washington families deserve better, but lawmakers are putting family leave on the back burner. Sign our petition to Washington lawmakers urging them to take immediate action on family and medical leave! The good news is thanks to years of action by MomsRising members like YOU we are seeing HUGE momentum on family leave across
the country, including here in Washington! In fact, this year Washington lawmakers introduced the 2016 FAMLI (Family and Medical Leave Insurance) Act which would ensure that every worker in Washington state has access to paid family and medical leave. But the bill has yet to be scheduled for a hearing and, with a short legislative session this year, time is running out!

Unless a hearing is scheduled in the next two weeks, the bill will die in the Appropriations Committee. Paid family leave should be a top priority for lawmakers, not a back-burner idea. Can you take a moment to sign our petition urging lawmakers to act quickly to pass the FAMLI Act?


**We’ll hand-deliver your signature to state legislators in Olympia ASAP!

Family values means valuing families. As local moms like Astacia know, lack of access to family leave can mean taking on huge financial burdens: “Unpaid maternity leave is a stressful time. We saved but we could not have anticipated that our daughter would be in the NICU for two weeks. Our savings were eaten up by the time she came home. After that, we fretted over every trip to the store for basic household needs because I was on unpaid leave.” –Astacia, Puyallup

Our voices matter! YOUR voice matters! Sign our petition and let lawmakers know you stand in support of family and medical leave!


Here’s the scoop: Right now across the U.S., only 13% of working families have access to paid family (maternity, paternity, medical) leave via their employers, and only 5% of low wage workers do. [1]And, horrifically, some moms have to return to work just days after a new baby arrives—and one in four working mothers must return to work just TWO WEEKS after giving birth because they don’t have access to paid family & medical leave. [2] Other new moms are forced to pull a “Mom MacGyver” by cobbling together a few weeks of vacation and a few earned sick days (if they’re lucky enough to have them) to stay home to recover from childbirth and/or welcome a new child into their lives. This is unacceptable and simply devastating for working families and for our economy. Meanwhile, it is very clear that paid family leave doesn’t just boost families; it’s good for businesses and the economy too. Studies show that paid leave improves employee retention and lowers employers’ turnover costs, increases worker productivity, improves employee loyalty and morale, allows smaller businesses to compete with larger companies for the best talent, and heightens American businesses’ competitiveness in a global economy. [3]Speaking of a global economy. Times have changed. Moms are now the primary or co-breadwinner in three-quarters of families. Paid family leave boosts families by allowing people to get back to work. Women with access to paid family leave after a new baby arrives are significantly more likely to be back at work a year after giving birth and less likely to need longer term government supports or SNAP. This policy is a win for taxpayers and modern families too! It’s past time to catch our public policies up with our modern labor force! Let’s make Washington next! Sign our petition to lawmakers, urging them to make paid family leave a priority this year!


** And be sure to forward this message on to your friends, or cut and paste the link above on your Facebook page, so that all your WA friends and family can
take action too!

Whether it’s to care for a newborn, a mom who is ill, or a spouse battling cancer, being there for family is what matters. You shouldn’t have to give up a paycheck to do it.Together, we’re a powerful force for Washington families! —
Maggie, Kristin, Ruth, Lauren, and the whole MomsRising team

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics

[2] In These Times: The Real War on Families

[3] National Partnership for Women and Families: Paid Family and Medical Leave – Good for Business

3. Elizabeth Warren: One Way to Rebuild Our Institutions


JAN. 29, 2016

WASHINGTON — WHILE presidential candidates from both parties feverishly pitch their legislative agendas, voters should also consider what presidents can do without Congress. Agency rules, executive actions and decisions about how vigorously to enforce certain laws will have an impact on every American, without a single
new bill introduced in Congress.

The Obama administration has a substantial track record on agency rules and executive actions. It has used these tools to protect retirement savings, expand overtime pay, prohibit discrimination against L.G.B.T. employees who work for the government and federal contractors, and rein in carbon pollution. These accomplishments matter.

Whether the next president will build on them, or reverse them, is a central issue in the 2016 election. But the administration’s record on enforcement falls short — and federal enforcement of laws that already exist has received far too little attention on the campaign trail.

I just released a report examining 20 of the worst federal enforcement failures in 2015. Its conclusion: “Corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct.”

In a single year, in case after case, across many sectors of the economy, federal agencies caught big companies breaking the law — defrauding taxpayers, covering up deadly safety problems, even precipitating the financial collapse in 2008 — and let them off the hook with barely a slap on the wrist. Often, companies paid meager fines, which some will try to write off as a tax deduction.

The failure to adequately punish big corporations or their executives when they break the law undermines the foundations of this great country. Justice cannot mean a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but nothing more than a
sideways glance at a C.E.O. who quietly engineers the theft of billions of

These enforcement failures demean our principles. They also represent missed opportunities to address some of the nation’s most pressing challenges. Consider just two areas — college affordability and health care — where robust enforcement of current law could help millions of people.

When the Education Management Corporation, the nation’s second-largest for-profit college, signed up tens of thousands of students by lying about its programs, it saddled them with fraudulent degrees and huge debts. Those debts wrecked lives. Under the law, the government can bar such institutions from receiving more federal student loans. But EDMC just paid a fine and kept right on raking in federal loan money.

When Novartis, a major drug company that was already effectively on federal probation for misconduct, paid kickbacks to pharmacies to push certain drugs, it cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and undermined patient health. Under the law, the government can boot companies that defraud Medicare and Medicaid out of those programs, but when Novartis got caught, it just paid a penalty — one so laughably small that its C.E.O. said afterward that it “remains to be seen” whether his company would actually consider changing its behavior.

Enforcement isn’t about big government or small government. It’s about whether government works and who it works for. Last year, five of the world’s biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase, pleaded guilty to criminal charges that they rigged the price of billions of dollars worth of foreign currencies. No corporation can break the law unless people in that corporation also broke the law, but no one from any of those banks has been charged. While thousands of Americans were rotting in prison for nonviolent drug convictions, JPMorgan Chase was so chastened by pleading guilty to a crime that it awarded Jamie Dimon, its C.E.O., a 35 percent raise.

To be fair, weak enforcement is sometimes a result of limited authority. Despite the company’s history of egregious safety failures, for example, the former C.E.O. of Massey Energy was convicted only of a single misdemeanor in the deadly Upper Big Branch mine disaster that killed 29 miners in West Virginia in 2010, because federal mining laws are too weak. It’s on Congress to stiffen such penalties.

But in many instances, weak enforcement by federal agencies is about the people at the top. Presidents don’t control most day-to-day enforcement decisions, but they do nominate the heads of all the agencies, and these choices make all the difference. Strong leaders at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Labor Department have pushed those agencies to forge ahead with powerful initiatives to protect the environment, consumers and workers. The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a tiny office charged with oversight of the post-crash bank bailout, has aggressive leaders — and a far better record of holding banks and executives accountable than its bigger counterparts.

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission, suffering under weak leadership, is far behind on issuing congressionally mandated rules to avoid the next financial crisis. It has repeatedly granted waivers so that lawbreaking companies can continue to enjoy special privileges, while the Justice Department has dodged one opportunity after another to impose meaningful accountability on big corporations and their executives.

Each of these government divisions is headed by someone nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The lesson is clear: Personnel is policy.

Legislative agendas matter, but voters should also ask which presidential candidates they trust with the extraordinary power to choose who will fight on the front lines to enforce the laws. The next president can rebuild faith in our institutions by honoring the simple notion that nobody is above the law, but it will happen only if voters demand it.

Elizabeth Warren is a Democratic senator from Massachusetts.

4. Oly Old Time Festival

Hello! The Oly Old Time Festival is fast approaching and we still need lots of volunteers! Volunteers get free admission to the entire weekend festival — a $30 value! They also get the satisfaction of helping to make this amazing event happen, opportunities to meet people, and the everlasting gratitude of everyone involved. Here are some examples of tasks that need doing:

  • selling tickets
  • minding the door
  • helping prepare food for the green room
  • helping John Hatton set up and take down his merchandise table (Thursday afternoon and Saturday night)
  • Decorating Thursday afternoon. De-decorating Sunday morning.
  • green room monitors
  • late-night cleanup
  • keeping water jugs filled

If you’re interested and you haven’t yet done so, send me an email at volunteer@olyoldtime.org. Also, please forward this message along to anyone else you know who might be interested. Many thanks! Jesse- OOTF Volunteer Coordinator

5. Special Opportunity to Serve on the Olympia Food Co-op Board of Directors

There are 3 open seats on the Board of Directors. To fill these vacancies, the Board is soliciting applications. Applications are due February 7th by 9 pm and can be found on our website, or click here: http://www.olympiafood.coop/special-opportunity-to-serve-on-our-board-of-directors/
Applications will be submitted to boardapplication@olympiafood.coop.

Appointed seats are a 1 year term as prescribed by the Bylaws. A Special meeting of the Board will be held on February 11th at 7pm. At this meeting the Board will be reviewing the submitted applications. Applicants are invited to attend the meeting and will have the opportunity to speak to their interest and qualifications. Applicants will be selected by consensus of the Board.

Please contact ofcboard@olympiafood.coop if you have any questions.

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