Jul

22

Dems go to Washington

Written by

Last week, a posse of Columbia Dems converged on Washington D.C. (or, more likely, got the day off from their congressional internships) to talk with legislators about New Orleans. Unfortunately, Bwog was unable to send a correpondent, so we abandoned our standards of independent journalism and asked Dems media guy Jonathan Backer to send an account of the trip, which turned out–surprise!–very rosy.

sdfds“On the briefing day, Julia Moline CC/SEAS ’08 briefed us for much of the day on the details surrounding the issue of health care in the Gulf Coast region. She, in her role as a Katrina recovery policy expert for Speaker Pelosi’s office prepared the included materials for the trip.

Congressman Melancon’s (LA-3) chief of staff, Casey O’Shea, spoke to the group for about an hour. Because of Rep. Jefferson’s legal troubles, Rep. Melancon is de facto representing the congressional district of which Orleans parish is a part. He discussed the challenges of legislating effectively when Melancon’s constituents’ needs are so different from the rest of the country. One issue he discussed was how recover block grants are structured so that small slices of the grant individually fund 90% of several projects. The state must come up with the 10% of funding in order to begin a project. Because the state of Louisiana has been loathe to commit resources to recovery, very few rebuilding projects have gotten off the ground. Melancon’s CoS argued that that block grants to the region should be distributed as a lump sum so that the federal dollars will be put to use.

Lobbying went very well the next day. The three lobbying groups had a total of 15 meetings, 2 with members of Congress, and 13 with legislative assistants who focus
sdfaon health policy. The meetings with Senators Feingold and Brown were especially exciting for us. Senator Feingold was keenly interested in the topic and asked numerous questions throughout our discussion. During our meeting, he instructed his LA to contact Rep. Melancon’s office. He expressed a  desire to look into ways to improve the funding mechanisms to the region and to possibly ask the GAO to conduct an investigation on the topic.”

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30 Comments

  1. melancon

    great job, CU dems. I'm pretty sure you just singlehandedly rectified the situation in N.O. Congratulations

  2. columbia, columbia

    off to save New Orleans in DC becuse community involvement in Harlem would be SCARY. nice, columbia dems.

    • ASSHOLE

      I don't care what the CU Dems do. I'm going to criticize it. Short of ushering in a utopic vision of equality, freedom, and justice, nothing they do can satisfy me. I will demean any effort these young idealistic activists make to create a better world, because, after all, why choose participate when I can make snarky remarks on BWOG and get my jollies that way?

    • fools

      I don't quite follow the argument that helping N.O. is disingenuous because they haven't done an equal amount of local community service. Where the fuck did you come up with that from? If anything, volunteering in Harlem is easier. Besides, at this point, Harlemites are in much, much better shape than N.O. people, and it's one thing to support people who've ruined their lives after a natural disaster & another to help out a chronically low-income community.
      The Dems are not a community service organization, so why hate on their efforts to help rebuild?

      And no, I am not affiliated with them/know any of them personally.

      • poster # 2

        is referring to the fact that the dems don't do any work in disadvantaged communities in NYC when it's not advantageous on the personal or P.R. end to do so. Case in point: Harlem.

        Comfortably lobbying in D.C. (to both advocate on behalf of Katrina victims and also to hone their own lobbying skills), and then broadcasting it to the bwog in a rather self-congratulatory manner gives the dems the kind of appreciation / attention that other students groups and individuals working in places like Chinatown and Harlem and Washington Heights are seldom blessed with. Look no further than posts 13 and 14 to affirm this.

        I for one am really glad that the CU Dems are doing this, but I do think Poster #2 has a legit point and Poster #17 misinterpreted it.

    • Oh, so  

      what are you doing for Harlem this summer, Vivian Lu? Working for a cushy non-profit in the financial district? How very brave. I'm sure that the needs of LGBT New Yorkers downtown are much more pressing than those of people in crushing poverty uptown, but we all have to choose priorities, don't we, Vivian Lu?

      • man you're dumb  

        i'm not vivian lu but i did a facebook search:

        Employer:
        America Reads: P.S. 154 Harriet Tubman Elementary.
        Location:
        harlem, manhattan.

        it looks like she does a lot of work in harlem with SCEG as well. i'm not saying she's right in criticizing cudems for their work in DC, but you might want to do some research before starting on the ad hominem attacks, #19.

  3. Screw you guys

    As a Columbian from Louisiana, I really appreciate the Dem's efforts. Sure, they're not going to fix the whole problem, but at least they're taking steps to get involved in a meaningful way.

  4. re:columbia columbia

    off to spread democracy in Iraq in DC, because actually going to Iraq might get some dirt under your nails.

  5. Well

    I can't blame them. Local politics offer no money or votes, why bother? It's not like they actually care about anything, or they probably wouldn't be democrats, they'd be real liberals.

  6. politicians

    should take a page from...everyone else's book. An organization's productivity reaches a new global minimum precisely when the organization holds a meeting.

  7. similarly

    as your authority increases, your competence necessarily decreases. unless your'e a politician.

  8. sweet

    sausage fest, dems.

  9. Wow

    I think it's really great that the dems were able to get together something of this significance during the summer! It's rare that a student group does something this consequential even during the school year. Props to everyone who took time out of their summers to draw attention to an important issue. You guys are what Columbia's all about.

  10. *who's

    lives have been ruined

  11. this

    is the kind of post, especially because of the comments, that makes me wish i didn't read bwog.
    comment 1: this sucks
    comment 2: you suck
    comment 3: nietzsche nietzsche
    comment 4: this is amazing! i'm so glad i go to columbia!
    comment 5: schopenhaur
    comment 6: comment deleted
    comment 7: hah, i love how you think comment 3 was me but actually it wasn't, and no, i'm not affiliated with/know someone affiliated to the subject of this post.
    comment 8: this is so meta
    comment 9: (again meta) i should fulfilling my summer plans not commenting on bwog.

  12. A Dem

    BWOG should be reporting this, because its campus news. Its a campus group's activity, made even more newsworthy by the fact that it is taking place over the summer. What other Columbia news is going on? Its not as if BWOG is reporting on the dems and ignoring other groups - other groups aren't doing anything at the moment. When groups like SCEG do thigns during the semester, BWOG reports that as well...

    As for the dems local involvement, #17 nailed it: "The Dems are not a community service organization" If your interested in community service, there are any number of campus groups you can join and get involved in. If your interested in government and improving things through changes in policy, trying to help people on a macro level rather than a micro level, then politics and policy are where you should focus your efforts.

    Attacking the dems for a lack of community involvement makes as much sense as attacking Community Impact volunteers for volunteering in schools rather than trying to repeal or amend No Child Left Behind. Thats not what their group is designed to do or tries to do.

    • imo  

      well said. it's all about comparative advantage here, people.

    • hmmm

      Right, but back to my original point, there are plenty of opportunities to affect change on the local and community level.

      This is not about comparative advantage. Groups like SPEaK, AAA PC, LUCHA, SGEC, and CCAW, in addition to organizing on the ground, try to pursue changes in policy as well. The Dems can specialize in "helping people on a macro level" by taking on any of number of projects that hit closer to home. Why not shift your attention to disadvantaged communities in NYC - where there are neighborhoods that are chronically confronting challenges in their access to resources, in circumstances that are not unlike those of New Orleans pre and post Katrina - during the regular school year?

      Just a suggestion from those of us who have pegged ya'll as opportunists that really have no interest in working towards the "progressive" goals that you supposedly stand for: do something to show us that you care! Otherwise, asserting that you want to "help people", while coming up for excuses to defend the dems' poor record of community involvement and inaction, will come off as totally insincere.

  13. And Whoa...

    your sarcasm is truly ingenious, never would have thought of it! so THANK YOU!

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