POWER News for March 16, 2016

POWER will be showing art at spring artswalk – April 22nd and 23rd.

We will be continuing our Sock Monkeys for Social Justice exhibit.

Join us for POWER Outage on Monday, April 4th for a sock monkey workshop. Make a sock monkey that reflects a story from your life. It’s fun and cathartic.
POWER Outage starts with a potluck at 5:30 and goes til 8 pm at the POWER office, 309 5th Avenue, in downtown Olympia. Kids are welcome of course!

Join the facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/562366107251207/

Let us know if you are interested in volunteering to help with artswalk – info@mamapower.org or call us at 360-701-3570.


  1. Washington state caucuses and primaries explained!
  2. Article from England’s Guardian about welfare reform.
  3. Safeplace in Olympia is hiring

1. Curious about Caucuses and Primaries? You are not alone. Here’s info for you:

Here’s where you can find out where your Democratic caucus is on Saturday, March 26th:


If you are unable to attend your caucus on Saturday, March 26th, you can send an absentee affidavit with your candidate choice. Affidavits must be received by 5 pm Friday, March 18th:


Information about the Republican candidates:


Information from the Secretary of State:


Caucus? Primary? Voters here can do both

January 28, 2008

Over the past two decades, Washington’s role in the nomination game has evolved beyond peculiar and now borders on bizarre.
By Ralph Thomas (http://www.seattletimes.com/author/cap-ralph-thomas/)

OLYMPIA — This week, many voters will begin receiving their ballots for the state’s Feb. 19 presidential primary election.
But here’s the catch — well, actually, there are several.
Those ballots won’t explain that voting for a Democrat carries only symbolic weight. To have a say in picking the Democratic nominee, voters must attend one of the party’s Feb. 9 precinct-caucus meetings — 10 days before the primary.
And there’s nothing on the Republican ballots that says they count for only about half the vote. The GOP is choosing roughly half of its delegates through the primary and the other half through the caucuses, also on Feb. 9.
So, say you’re a Republican-leaning voter who is torn between John McCain and Mike Huckabee. There’s nothing stopping you from splitting your vote — you could caucus for McCain, then vote for Huckabee in the primary.
Confused? It’s no wonder.
Political parties in every state have their own peculiar way of nominating presidential candidates. But over the past two decades, Washington’s role in the nomination game has evolved beyond peculiar and now borders on bizarre.
Compared to how it’s done in other states, “we’re pretty far out there,” said Todd Donavan, a political-science professor at Western Washington University.
With this year’s wide-open presidential races, Democratic and Republican party leaders say there’s a chance Washington voters could play a major role in deciding one or both of the nominees. It’s doubtful either race will be decided by Feb. 5 — “Super Tuesday” — when two dozen states hold their primaries or precinct caucuses.
But let’s forget all that do-we-matter speculation for a moment. First, a little primer on Washington’s primary and caucuses.
Primary’s tortured past
For nearly a century, Washington’s political parties relied solely on precinct caucuses — small gatherings held in homes, schools, churches and firehouses — to allocate delegates to the national nominating conventions.
But that all changed after the 1988 election. That was the year televangelist Pat Robertson and his so-called “invisible army” of Christian conservative voters dominated the state Republican caucuses and conventions.
The next year, the Legislature adopted a citizen initiative calling for a presidential primary. The measure said the party caucus systems were “unnecessarily restrictive” and discriminated against the elderly, disabled and other people unable to attend the gatherings.
But Washington’s presidential primary has had a tortured history.
The Republican Party used the first primary, in 1992, to allocate all of its delegates to the national convention. But it hardly mattered because then-President George H.W. Bush already had a lock on the nomination.
The Republicans then switched to a hybrid approach, using the primary to allocate half its delegates in 1996 and a third in 2000.
The state Democratic Party, meanwhile, has never relied on the primary and instead divvies up all of its delegates through the caucus and convention process.
The presidential primary eventually became so meaningless that the Legislature canceled it in 2004. Lawmakers argued it would be a waste of money, given that the Democrats were ignoring the primary and President George W. Bush had no serious challenger on the Republican ticket.
But the primary was revived for 2008. Hoping to give it more impact nationally, a panel of party leaders and state lawmakers agreed last summer to move the primary up by three months, to Feb. 19.
Once again, however, the Democrats are not using it to select delegates. And the Republican Party will use the primary results to allocate only 19 of its 40 delegates to the GOP national convention.
The state estimates the election will cost about $10 million. So, for those keeping score, that works out to about $526,000 per delegate that will actually be determined by the primary.
People who vote in the primary will have to choose between a Democratic or Republican ballot and will have to sign an oath promising that they haven’t participated in the other party’s nominating process.
Unlike 1996 and 2000, voters will not have the option of using an “unaffiliated” ballot. Though a large percentage of voters in those elections cast unaffiliated ballots, their votes were never counted by either party. So the state decided to scrap that option.
Primary vs. caucuses
Whether the primary has meaning remains a subject of much debate.
Secretary of State Sam Reed contends the primary — and not the caucuses — will carry more weight. He said candidates stand to gain a bigger bump of publicity through the primary because it “really is a better representation of a broad cross-section of the electorate.”
There is some evidence that Washington’s primary has mattered to the candidates in the past. In 2000, even though the primary would be used to decide only a handful of GOP delegates, candidates from both parties flocked to the state before the election. They hoped a win here would give them at least a symbolic bounce heading into that year’s “Super Tuesday.”
Still, state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz scoffed at Reed’s assertions that the primary means more.
“How do you take three-quarters of the delegates being decided through the caucuses and one-quarter through the primary and come up with the math that the primary is more meaningful?” Pelz said.
Pelz, who referred to the primary as a “$10 million public-opinion poll,” is angry that Reed has been aggressively promoting the primary and hardly mentions the caucuses.
It’s a tussle that goes back many years.
Reed’s predecessor, longtime Secretary of State Ralph Munro, was an outspoken critic of the caucus systems who tried in vain to force the parties to use the primary. Munro liked to say that the problem with caucuses is that they require people to argue with their neighbors about politics.
And, like other critics, Munro argued that the caucuses are poorly attended and too easily controlled by a small number of hard-core activists. Under the caucus system, he said, there are “more people going to the boat show than participating in the process.”
The highest turnout ever for a presidential primary in Washington was in 2000, when nearly 43 percent of voters cast ballots. During the hotly contested race for the 2004 Democratic nomination, about 100,000 turned out for that party’s caucuses. That’s less than 3 percent of the state’s voters.
But party insiders staunchly defend the precinct caucuses.
Dick Derham, a longtime Republican activist, said moderates like Munro and Reed hate the caucuses because they have typically favored the more conservative candidates.
And, aside from serving as valuable “party building” events, Derham said, the caucuses are a better way of measuring a candidate’s grass-roots organizing strength.
State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser said the GOP’s decision to select delegates through both the caucuses and the primary is a “balanced solution.” He said the primary is more convenient for most voters, but added he doesn’t think the caucuses are that big a burden.
“People are busy,” Esser said, “but I don’t think it’s asking too much to take a couple hours to try to help us figure out who the next president of the United States is going to be.”
Ralph Thomas: 360-943-9882 or rthomas@seattletimes.com

2. Clinton-era welfare reforms haunt America’s poorest families

Hillary Clinton’s support of 1996 welfare law thrust into 2016 election after Sanders attacks reforms for driving up number of people living in deep poverty


Arizona will become the first state to reduce the payment of cash benefits to the lowest income families to a maximum of 12 months in a lifetime.

by Chris McGreal in Phoenix, Arizona (http://www.theguardian.com/profile/chrismcgreal)

Monday 7 March 2016

At the Cultural Cup food bank in Phoenix, Arizona, Sabiha Keskin has watched a growing trend in recent years of people forced to sell food stamps for cash to help pay the rent or utilities, and then coming to her food bank to feed their children.
“There’s a lot more single parents coming in, male and female, because they have cash issues,” said Keskin who herself relied on welfare payments to raise her five children after she served seven years in the US air force and then was unable to find work.
“I was on assistance for 18 years on and off. I got cash assistance, I got food stamps. That’s mostly gone today. When I first got out of the military we got food stamps and $725 in cash. Now it’s nothing like that. The system was better then. Now it’s a joke. Sometimes the money is so little people don’t even want to bother with the paperwork.”
In Arizona today, if Keskin even qualified for cash welfare payments at all they would be a fraction of what she once received. That is true across large parts of the US where the number of low-income parents who receive cash welfare payments they can use to pay bills or buy clothes for their children has been cut dramatically over the last two decades.
In 1996, when welfare reforms were introduced in a coalition between President Bill Clinton and Republicans, 68% of families in the US living below the poverty line received cash assistance. That has since fallen to just 23% nationally and even lower in many southern states without alternative forms of welfare filling the gap. In Georgia, the proportion dropped from 98% to just 7%. The fall was only marginally less sharp in Arizona.
In July, Arizona will become the first state to reduce the payment of cash benefits to the lowest-income families to a maximum of 12 months in a lifetime. That comes on top of sharp reductions in the size of payments, which have effectively halved over the past two decades, and the scrapping of programmes to help the state’s poorest citizens find jobs.
Critics of Arizona’s cuts blame the reforms championed by Bill Clinton and now thrust into the midst of the Democratic presidential campaign.
In 1996, Clinton joined with the Republican-controlled US Congress to enact the most sweeping changes to welfare in a generation with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act by tying benefits to work. Although initially hailed as a great success in getting parents caring for children into jobs, it has since been criticised for driving up the numbers of people living in deep poverty and for allowing states to reduce the welfare rolls by imposing onerous conditions and diverting funds to fill budget shortfalls.
On the campaign trail, Bernie Sanders attacked Hillary Clinton for her support of a law he said harmed the poor.
‘When I first got out of the military we got food stamps and $725 in cash,’ Keskin said. ‘Now it’s nothing like that.’
“What welfare reform did, in my view, was go after some of the weakest and most vulnerable people in this country,” he said at a press conference last month. “Since legislation was signed into law, the number of families living in extreme poverty has more than doubled.”
Clinton’s campaign hit back by saying that under her husband’s administration the child poverty rate among African Americans fell 25% and unemployment was nearly halved.
But Sanders’ criticism is backed by research, including by Kathryn J Edin and H Luke Shaefer in their book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, which also estimates that the number of households living in extreme poverty has more than doubled since the 1996 legislation to about 1.5m.
At the core of the reform was a programme, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), that required most parents receiving cash grants to seek employment. The legislation provided for assistance with training and job placement, childcare and transport to work. The beneficiaries would receive assistance for five years.
The reforms ran into resistance. Three senior officials in Clinton’s administration (http://www.nytimes.com/1996/09/12/us/two-clinton-aides-resign-to-protest-new-welfare-law.html) resigned in protest. One of them, Peter Edelman, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, predicted that the reforms would deepen poverty not alleviate it.
The final legislation was a compromise between Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress led by Newt Gingrich who injected a key piece of conservative ideology by shifting control from the federal government to the states.
Two decades later, that has perhaps proven the single most important factor in determining the success of the reforms as some state legislatures plunder welfare grants to fund other programmes or severely curtail them out of ideological hostility.
Arizona, like other states, initially used its block grant from Washington of $220m to fund programmes intended to make the reforms a success.
Karen McLaughlin, who worked for the Arizona state agency responsible for overseeing benefits when the 1996 reforms came into effect, said it set up an array of programmes to help parents to find jobs, to provide childcare while they were at work and to help with training.
“Arizona within a few years had a mentoring programme for young fathers, transportation programmes, a programme called Wheels to Work where people donate cars and they would be fixed up to give to somebody who couldn’t get to work because in Phoenix we don’t have good public transportation so getting around is a big piece of being able to go to work,” she said.
Other states launched similar initiatives. The number of people claiming cash assistance in the US fell sharply. In 2006, five years after leaving office, Bill Clinton declared the reforms a success.
“The last 10 years have shown that we did in fact end welfare as we knew it, creating a new beginning for millions of Americans,” he (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/22/opinion/22clinton.html) wrote in the New York Times. “Welfare rolls have dropped substantially, from 12.2 million in 1996 to 4.5 million today.”
Today, economists attribute that fall less to welfare reform than to a decade of economic growth. Studies also show that while many parents were able to find work and come off cash assistance, TANF did not work nearly as well for the most vulnerable, including those who faced health issues.
The real test came with the deepest economic recession in a generation. The response of some states, such as California, was to shore up TANF as demand increased because of rising unemployment. Arizona and other states cut the programmes to divert money to fill budget shortfalls because of the recession – a legal move not possible before the 1996 reforms.
Even for Arizona, taking food out of the mouths of children was a step too far.
Last week, the state legislature rejected a bill to cut off food stamps to thousands of low-income families if they receive other welfare benefits last week, with one lawmaker condemning the proposal as “self reliance through starvation
(http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/politicalinsider/2016/03/02/food-stamp-bill-limits-recipients-but-critics-say-its-self-reliance-through-starvation/81181584/)”. Its Republican sponsor argued that going hungry would encourage parents to get off welfare and into work.
But the defeat of the bill is likely to prove only a bump on the state’s apparent drive to all but kill off welfare grants.
In 2010, even as unemployment surged past 11% in Arizona, the state legislature gutted many of the support programmes to the horror of officials who warned that the changes would “lead to greater dependency and increased costs”. (http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2010/06/03/the-broken-promise-of-welfare-reform/)
“Those programmes went away and so now we’re back to this really basic bare bones kind of programmes,” said McLaughlin who is now director of budget and research at the Children’s Action Alliance (CAA) in Phoenix. “We stripped out almost all the money out of the jobs programme. We’re not doing those mentoring programmes. We don’t have the transportation programmes.”
Arizona also moved to reduce the number of people eligible for TANF benefits by cutting the amount of time they were able to make claims from a limit of 60 months when the legislation was passed to 36 months in 2010 and just 12 months from 1 July. Other states have also reduced the time frame, although not as sharply.
The time limits have helped drive down the number of claims in Arizona from nearly 45,500 in 2005 to 10,013 in January of this year according to Arizona official statistics. (http://www.azdes.gov/appreports.aspx)
Arizona officials say the move will cut off grants covering 2,700 children in very low-income families. Typically a family of four must have an annual income of less than $5,000 to qualify for cash assistance.
“We have a lot of policymakers who don’t get the connection that this is hurting kids because the definition of being on cash assistance is you have a minor child at home,” said McLaughlin. “We have this attitude in Arizona among some policymakers, and I’ve heard it just within the last week, that by kicking people off these programmes we’re helping them because when they’re not dependent on the programme they’ll go find a job.”
According to the Center on Budget and Polity Priorities (CBPP) the number of TANF recipients fell in 16 states, including Texas, Kansas and Louisiana, even as unemployment and economic hardship increased.
The value of individual benefits has also fallen sharply. Congress has not increased the funding for TANF in two decades which, thanks to inflation, means a fall in real terms of more than one-third. Some states have nevertheless increased individual payments. Others have made no increase at all while Arizona has cut the average monthly TANF payment per person from $123 a decade ago to $92 last year.
Among those who defended the cuts in the Arizona legislature was Republican state senator Kelli Ward.
“I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences and if I don’t ever let them face those consequences, they can’t get back on the path to rewards,” said Ward who is running for the US Senate against John McCain. “As a society, we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions, and then we reward them.”
Thom Reilly, of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy in Phoenix, said he regards the idea behind the reforms as sound but that the law was flawed in allowing states to divert the welfare grant to other programmes.
“The basic components of providing job training, childcare and transportation are sound principles that were never in existence before that. The problem is the block grant component which allows states to divert those moneys to other programmes, and particularly the ability to tap into those funds when state coffers were very low during the recession which had this ripple effect,” he said. “Then you also have this ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ philosophy in Arizona that has slowly but steadily been chipping away at the programme. There’s very little of the money even being used for the original intent of the programme.”
Arizona receives about $200m a year to spend on TANF but diverts more than half of that to other programmes, particularly child welfare because of rising numbers of children taken into care.
McLaughlin said Arizona’s cuts have created a vicious circle in which the reduction in the availability of childcare has forced working parents to leave their children at home alone or in less than ideal circumstances which has in turn driven up the number placed in foster homes.
“Continuing to shrink the TANF programme and helping people get sustainable jobs is contributing to the increase in neglect reports coming to child services and is a factor in the number of kids being removed. We have a really high incidence of kids in foster care. Arizona is way off the charts compared to the rest of the nation,” she said.
The Arizona department of economic security did not respond to a request for an interview.
© 2016 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

3. SafePlace is currently hiring for an on-call Staff Relief Advocate with the potential for future full-time benefitted employment.



If not selected for this opening, qualified candidates may be placed in an applicant pool for future staff relief vacancies.
To Apply:      Please send a one-page cover letter addressing how you meet the qualifications for the position, a current resume and a list of three professional references to sandys@safeplaceolympia.org.  Please send your cover letter as an email attachment, not as the text, and reference “Staff Relief Application” in the subject line.  You may also deliver/send your application packet to:  SafePlace, 521 Legion Way SE, Olympia, WA  98501, Attn: HRD.
Deadline:      Open 

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