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  • June 14, 2024 5:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jacki Swearingen and Susan Okie

    Edited by Marilyn Go, Jim Harbison and Ryan O’Connell


    Nevada, which helped deliver victory to Biden in 2020, now appears close to slipping from the Democrats’ grasp in the November election. The economic woes of the last several years – inflation, higher interest rates, limited housing stock – have contributed to a deep disenchantment among voters in a state where Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by 2.4 points four years ago. Democrats hope their traditional success with Latino voters and their formidable “Get out the vote” machine can secure the state’s six electoral votes once again, while Republicans point to the widespread discontent as a sign that they will prevail in the fall.

    Nevada voters will also make crucial choices about abortion rights and a US Senate race that could decide the control of the Senate. Legislative races will determine whether the Democrats in the state assembly and senate secure a veto-proof majority. All these far-reaching decisions by Nevadans will occur in a state where efforts at making it harder to cast a ballot as well as challenges to election results have grown since 2020.

     

    The Polls That Stoke Anxiety and Hope

    A spate of recent state polls has increased Democratic anxiety. Results from the Emerson College Polling/The Hill survey released on April 30 gave Trump a 45% to 44% lead over Biden in a head-to-head match-up in Nevada, with 11% of voters undecided. More worrisome for Democrats was the May 15 New York Times/Siena Poll in which Trump led Biden by 12 points among registered Nevada voters. Concerns about the economy and inflation ranked at the top for Nevada voters. Sixty one percent trusted Trump to manage the economy better; only 32% preferred Biden to handle it.

    “The state has been slowly shifting to the right – not just in polling but in Election Day results,” wrote John Ralston, the esteemed observer of Nevada politics last year in The Atlantic. Ralston added, “In 2020 Nevada was the only battleground state that saw worse Democratic performance compared with 2016, unless you count the more solidly red Florida.” In 2022 Nevada Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto won re-election to the US Senate by a mere 9,000 votes.

    Five months from Election Day, long-time political observers caution that it is still too early to make firm predictions. Strategists on both sides would be wise to heed Ralston’s warnings about the difficulties of polling in the Silver State. Ralston points out that pollsters often underestimate the number of people they need to survey to get a representative sampling. In addition, pollsters often lack enough bilingual interviewers for a state whose population is one-third Latino.

    Demographics and the Latino Vote

    Most political experts agree that demographics and voter turnout in one of the nation’s fastest- growing states will play key roles in the election’s outcome.  Among Nevada’s more than 3,100,000 residents, about 46% are white and non-Hispanic and about 30% are Hispanic. Nevada’s Black population is about 11% percent and its Asian population is 9.4 percent. Native Americans make up 5.1 percent of its population. The average age for a resident is 38 years.

    In recent elections Democrats have counted on strong support from Nevada’s Latino voters to lift them to victory. In 2020 about sixty percent of Latino voters cast their ballots for Biden. In 2022 a nearly identical percentage backed Sen. Cortez-Masto. However, recent polls suggest that this traditional support is eroding, particularly because of Latinos’ frustration with economic problems. Among Latino voters in Nevada polled recently in the NYT/Siena Poll, Trump led Biden by nine points.

    Economic Issues Trouble Voters

    For both parties, the economic issues that affect individual voters and their families – the cost of groceries, gasoline, mortgages and rent – cannot be ignored by simply touting GDP increases. Nevada’s unemployment rate of 5.1 percent is down significantly from its high of 30.6 percent during the early days of the pandemic, but it remains the highest in the nation. Gas prices hover at $4.80 per gallon, the country’s third highest, even though they have dropped nearly $2 since mid-2022. And in the nation’s worst housing crisis, home prices since 2011 have jumped six times higher than wage increases.

    In Clark County, where 73 percent of the population live in or around Las Vegas, the median household income is $5,000 less than the national average. The poverty rate is almost two percent higher. Most adults work long hours for low wages in the casinos, hotels and service industries that shore up Las Vegas, the principal city. Only 26 percent of residents hold a bachelor’s degree. All these factors have helped the GOP to make inroads, particularly with voters who lack a college or high school degree.

    Faced with weak poll numbers, President Joe Biden’s strategy is to point to his administration’s economic successes like job growth and affordable housing initiatives. During his time in office Nevada has gained 285,000 jobs. Biden’s 2021 American Rescue Plan provided $1 billion for affordable housing units nationwide, which his 2025 Budget would build upon with $285 million for initiatives like building new units and increasing rental assistance.

    On his recent trips to Nevada, Biden touted the $3 billion allocated in the Infrastructure Bill for the Brightline Rail, the nation’s first high-speed rail, which will connect Las Vegas and Southern California. Groundbreaking for the $12 billion project, which is projected to create more than 35,000 jobs, was April 22.

    In contrast, Republicans hone in on the high costs of inflation, particularly for the working poor. They echo Trump’s belief that sharply increasing the production of fossil fuels would lower the cost of gasoline and virtually everything else. Trump’s plan to lease even more public lands for oil drilling and fracking is likely to include the Great Basin Desert in Nevada, where the Trump administration in its final months auctioned off 50 square miles and triggered environmental protests.

    The Reid Machine

    While Democratic strategists acknowledge the impact of economic worries and border issues on Nevada voters, they remain confident that they have a better ground game in place, particularly in the two most populous counties of Clark and Washoe, the home of Reno. In these urban centers the Reid Machine, named after the late Majority Leader of the US Senate Harry Reid, has delivered victories time after time. Since 2008 the Reid Machine has helped put Nevada in the Democratic column in presidential elections, thanks largely to its partnership with the Culinary Workers Union.

    The union’s more than 60,000 members cook in the kitchens and clean the hotel rooms of the flashy hotels and casinos of Las Vegas and Reno. During campaign seasons their volunteer teams register voters and inform them about candidates and issues. When elections roll around, many volunteers spread out to knock on doors and drive voters to the polls in one of the nation’s largest turnout operations.

    Biden strategists are counting on this infrastructure to energize voters, particularly in Latino communities because 54 percent of union members are Hispanic. In 2022 they played a crucial role in Cortez Masto’s Senate victory. But they failed to re-elect Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, who no doubt lost votes because of the toll the pandemic took on Nevada’s hospitality industry.

    An Unpredictable Election     

    Adding to the unpredictability of November election results is the large percentage of the more than two million Nevada voters registered as independents. They make up 33 percent, followed by Democrats at 31 percent, and Republican voters at 28 percent.

    Moreover, the specter of past voter suppression efforts compounds the uncertainty. “Nevada has a zealous election denial movement that has been a disruptive force in the past two election cycles,” a 2023 Brennan Center study reported.

    Four years ago armed vigilantes stood outside the vote-counting center in Clark County, and Republicans sued unsuccessfully to halt the counting of absentee ballots. Election deniers claimed there was mass fraud across Nevada—allegations that the Secretary of State investigated and rejected. In addition, the Trump campaign attempted to get a court order to access voting machine software, but the Nevada courts denied that request. In the 2022 Senate race some local officials tried to substitute hand-counting of ballots for machine tabulation.

    In this election cycle a problem that looms is the loss of nearly one-half of the state’s top election officials because of harassment and threats. Those forms of intimidation have also driven away many election workers at individual precincts who kept voting running smoothly and accurately.

    This past April Trump and the Republican National Committee announced a “100,000 person strong” initiative to target election workers in Nevada and other states.

    On the other hand, some developments bode well for free and fair voting in Nevada. In 2022 Democrat Francisco “Cisco” Aguilar defeated an election denier to become the Secretary of State. And over the last two years the Nevada legislature has passed additional statutory protections against voter intimidation and safeguards for absentee ballots during signature review.

    Efforts to tighten requirements for voting persist in Nevada, however. In late May the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that an initiative to amend the state constitution to require voter ID can appear on the November ballot if supporters obtain the necessary 100,000 signatures by June 26. The Supreme Court is considering another case that would tighten mail-in ballot requirements, a proposal opposed by many advocacy groups for seniors and veterans.

    Abortion Rights on the Ballot

    The likelihood that an abortion rights referendum will be on the November ballot in Nevada has buoyed Democratic confidence in the face of unfavorable poll numbers. The referendum places abortion rights front and center and promises to increase voter turnout. Reproductive rights advocates hope that the Nevada measure will prevail in November, as have similar initiatives in six other states.

    Compared with abortion laws in other U.S. states, Nevada’s can be considered middle-of-the-road. Nevada is neither among the states most protective of reproductive rights nor among the most restrictive. Abortion is permitted until 24 weeks of pregnancy have elapsed, a point at which a fetus is considered potentially viable outside the womb. Nevada allows only physicians to perform abortions, not other trained health care professionals. A shield law protects doctors who do so from being investigated by authorities in other states. Women entering an abortion clinic are legally protected from harassment or physical harm.

    As in neighboring Arizona, supporters of reproductive rights in Nevada, with funding from The Nevada Reproductive Freedom PAC, have gathered signatures in favor of an ambitious ballot referendum, The Nevada Right to Reproductive Freedom Amendment.

    The amendment would codify women’s right to abortion in Nevada. An opposing PAC, the Coalition for Parents and Children, is supporting conservative organizations as it seeks to keep the referendum off the ballot.

    To place the measure onto the ballot, proponents of the constitutional amendment had to obtain 102,362 validated signatures of Nevada residents by June 26, 2024. In late May Nevada Reproductive Freedom submitted more than 200,000 signatures from all 17 counties to the Secretary of State for validation. If enough signatures are deemed valid, the measure will go on the November ballot. Even if enough voters support the amendment, they must approve it again in 2026 for it to go into effect.  

    Other Consequential Races  

    Adding to the high stakes in Nevada this election cycle is a US Senate race that the Cook Political Report rates a “toss-up.” Incumbent Jacky Rosen is a center-left Democrat who has garnered a bipartisan reputation during her six years in the Senate. A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Rosen has a strong following among veterans, who make up 200,000 of Nevada’s population. In the most recent NYT/Siena poll, she led her  Republican opponent, Sam Brown. However, 23 percent of voters were undecided or refused to answer.

    Sam Brown, who just received Donald Trump’s endorsement, nearly won the Republican nomination for US Senator in 2022. He is a former Army Captain and Purple Heart recipient who was badly burned in 2008 by the explosion of an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Brown is seeking to appeal to independent voters, and he recently switched his position on abortion rights to support the current law, which allows abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

    Despite the closeness of the presidential race in Nevada, Democrats hope to win a super-majority in the state’s legislature. If they can hold onto their current senate seats and flip one Republican district, they will achieve a two-thirds majority in the upper house, matching the one they have in the state assembly. That would allow them to override any vetoes by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardi. The governor set a state record last year for vetoing the most bills in a single session of the Nevada Legislature.

    What You Can Do

    Nevada has emerged not only as a key battleground state but also as the possible determinant of which party will control the US Senate. Early voting for this critical election begins Saturday, October 19 and runs through Friday, November 1. You can play a role by registering new voters and increasing voter turnout by working with the following organizations: 

    1. All Voting is Local – Nevada: All Voting is Local Nevada works to protect voting access and pro-voting policies and prevent election sabotage as well as increase language access for all urban, rural and tribal voters in the state.

    2. Chicanos Por La Causa Nevada – Chicanos Por La Causa Nevada works to educate voters and to get out the Latino vote, especially among infrequent voters.

    3. Nevada Native Vote Project – Nevada Native Vote Project focuses on voter registration, election protection, education and data for Native American tribes in the state, which include the Paiute and the Shoshone peoples.

    4.League of Women Voters of Northern Nevada – The local branch of the national League promotes voter education and voter registration.


  • June 07, 2024 8:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    REGISTER

    To Know Our Trees: A Vital Task and Responsibility for Today and Tomorrow

    Wednesday, June 12, 2024, 12-1pm ET


    ClassACT HR73 is pleased to announce a ClassACTors Learn at Lunch series in Biodiversity, Climate Change and the Environment…an informal monthly zoom meeting to hear, learn from, and ask questions of members of the ClassACT Environmental Working Group and others.

    This discussion, led by John Kress ‘73 Ph.D., Distinguished Scientist and Curator Emeritus, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, is aimed at helping us regain a relationship and respect for Nature through our connection to trees. Topics will include the value of trees, the ecology and evolution of trees, the diversity of trees, and the conservation of trees.

  • June 04, 2024 9:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On Thursday, June 6, from 7-8:30pm EDT, the Harvard Class of 1998 and ClassACT HR73 invite you to join us for LIFE AT MIDLIFE: WHAT’S NEXT?, a special intergenerational program exploring change and meaning in midlife and beyond.

    We hope that many members of both classes will join us for this special opportunity to get to know one another while learning about the challenges we all experience in life and how to consider navigating them. Changes in career, family structure, gender, and priorities can seem daunting in midlife, but they can lead to a greater sense of life well-lived.

    Dr. Robert Waldinger ‘73, Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, and Alexis Redding '98, a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, will be moderated by Michael Feferman ‘98, to begin our program and provide us with tools for informed conversation.

    Drawing on questions from the 25th Reunion survey of the Class of ‘98, HR’73 classmates, Bobby Clayton, Ron Dieckmann, Anne MacKinnon, and Lindsey Straus will share personal reflections about changes they made in their lives during midlife and beyond, why they made them, and how those changes have impacted their lives.

    All attending will then be invited to join breakout rooms to allow us to talk freely with one another about our own experiences, questions, and concerns.

    Finally, we will come together for a few minutes at the end to share the takeaways from our rooms.

    Register here

  • May 17, 2024 2:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Ryan O’Connell; edited by Marilyn Go, Jim Harbison and Jacki Swearingen

    The demographics of Texas are shifting rapidly, as its booming cities draw waves of migrants attracted to the state’s growing economy, low taxes, and warm weather.

    Between 2010 and 2020, Texas’ population grew by about 16% or four million people, and almost all of them (95%) were people of color. The change stemmed from births (50%) and people moving to Texas (50%). Half of the new residents came from other states (particularly California, Florida, and New York), and half from other nations. Mexicans represented 60% of the foreigners who moved to Texas.  

    The main driver was a surge in the Latino population. The number of Texan Latinos rose 21% over that decade, and they accounted for half of the state’s population growth, according to Texas Redistricting and Congressional districts.  In 2020, the Latino share of the population was almost the same as that of whites (40%), and by 2022, it was slightly larger, according to updated figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.  

    Here is the key takeaway: four out of 10 Texans are Latinos. 

    The number of Black and Asian Texans increased rapidly, too, although from smaller bases.  In 2020 those groups constituted 11.8% and 5.4% of the population, respectively.  Meanwhile, the white population grew by only 2% in 2010-20.   

    Source: Pew Research

    Growth is Concentrated in The Big (Democratic) Cities  

    Furthermore, almost 90% of the population growth has occurred in five major metropolitan areas:  Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.  Rural areas and small towns, which tend to be whiter, either have had little growth or have lost population.  Since most Latinos, Blacks and Asians lean Democratic, four of those cities have become solidly blue.  The fifth city, Fort Worth, is an evolving political mix, but has essentially become purple.    

    When Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat,  ran for governor against Greg Abbott in 2022, he carried Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, as shown in the chart below.  Fort Worth voters preferred Abbott to O’Rourke, but in 2020 Joe Biden carried the city by a razor-thin margin. Biden carried the other four cities by wide margins.


    Source:  Dallas County Republican Party

    The voters in these four cities have mostly elected Democratic or progressive leaders to local offices.  The mayors of Austin and Houston are Democrats, while the one in Austin is a progressive independent.  On the other hand, in 2023, the mayor of Dallas switched parties, becoming a Republican.  Fort Worth’s mayor is also a Republican.

    But the Political Landscape Seems Frozen in Time

    Despite these significant population shifts, the distribution of elected officials in the Texas state legislature and congressional delegation remains heavily skewed toward Republicans.  Not surprisingly, the Republican Party has retained its dominance, since the state has a unique political culture, and many rural and suburban areas are bastions of conservatism. 

    There is a strong sense of Texas exceptionalism, shared by Texans of all political persuasions, based on the state’s huge size –it has an area the size of France—and its history as part of America’s frontier. In fact, Texas was a separate country for ten years, from 1836, when it gained its independence from Mexico, until it joined the United States in 1846.

    Texans prize the virtues of self-reliance, independence, and grit.  Although these are admirable traits, the nostalgia for the frontier days and virtues cannot obscure the reality that most Texans live in large cities or the adjoining suburbs.  They work in a complex economy, with large technological and medical sectors as well as more traditional industries like oil and gas.  

    In addition, many Texans are evangelical Christians, who are predominantly Republicans. Furthermore, turnout tends to be lower among Latinos and other minorities than among whites, partly because of obstacles to voting we will discuss below.      

    Nonetheless, one would have expected Democrats to win a larger share of state and congressional districts as the number of Latino and other minority voting-age citizens increased significantly.   

    Why hasn’t this happened?   

    Fighting Demographic Change

    The political establishment, seeing the handwriting on the wall in view of the changing demographic trends, has fought tenaciously to retain its hold on power.  Republicans have relied on two main techniques to disenfranchise minority voters:  gerrymandering and voter suppression laws.     

    The entrenched party has redrawn election districts on a highly partisan basis to stack the deck against its opponents.  Republican lawmakers engaged in very aggressive gerrymandering in 2010 and again in 2021, as described by New York University’s Brennan Center for Law and Justice:

    "Texas also enacted an extreme partisan gerrymander that insulates Republican rule against voter dissatisfaction. Under the new map, Democrats would have to win 58 percent of the popular vote in order to be favored to carry more than 37 percent of the state’s congressional seats. Put differently, even if Texas turned dark blue, Republicans could hold a two-to-one advantage in the state’s congressional caucus." 

    Texas also has a long history of voter suppression and restrictive voting laws.  After the 2020 election its legislature adopted even more stringent measures as it sought to maintain one-party control.   We will discuss these in more detail below.  

    Partisan Split in Texas 

    Because Texas state officials do not collect or publish figures on voters’ political affiliation, precise numbers on Democratic and Republican voters are not available.

    However, here is one possible indicator: since 1995. Republicans have won every race for governor, usually by wide margins. However, the close Senate race between Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke in 2018 demonstrated the growing power of Democratic voters.  Cruz won re-election, but only by 2.6 percentage points.  

    Since people of color have accounted for almost all the state’s population growth since 2010, it seems easy to assume that the percentage of Democratic voters has increased.  After all, Latinos still lean heavily toward the Democratic Party, according to Pew Research

    Of course, many Latinos, like other Texans, are Republican, and the GOP may be attracting support from some Latinos concerned about inflation or border issues. But reports of a massive Latino swing toward the GOP in the Lone Star State are probably overblown. Black and Asian Americans remain overwhelmingly Democratic in their political views.    

    Expanded Voting Options During Covid 

    During the 2020 election, local officials in Houston and other metropolitan areas devised creative ways to make voting safer and easier during the Covid pandemic.   They established drive-through polling stations, which allowed citizens to cast their ballots from their cars.  They encouraged early voting and voting by mail as well as providing drop boxes where voters could deposit their ballots.  

    These new options were particularly helpful for minority voters, most of whom were blue-collar and did not have flexible work schedules.  The drive-through polling stations and drop boxes were especially popular, since Houston is a huge, sprawling metropolis and commutes can be time-consuming.  These initiatives helped spur good turnout among voters despite the pandemic.  From a civic-minded point of view, these new approaches were a great success.  

    However, the result did not please the state political establishment, since Joe Biden carried the large Texan cities.  

    Setting The “Gold Standard” for Voter Suppression 

    Many Republican lawmakers raised issues about alleged voting fraud in 2020, and several leading Texas politicians echoed Trump’s claims about a “stolen election”.   In 2021, state legislators enacted Senate Bill 1 (“S.B.1”), which eliminated or imposed severe restrictions on the expanded voting options.  The ostensible rationale for these measures was to protect “election integrity”.   

    However, no significant voting fraud has occurred in Texas in recent years. [1]The goal, and the effect, of S.B.1 are to disenfranchise minority voters, particularly Latinos.  

    The new law created numerous impediments to voting, including  

    The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You

    The last two items are particularly troubling, since Texas has a long history of minority voters being intimidated.   S.B.1 expands poll watchers’ right to move around and observe polling places, including the ballot transfer and tabulation process.  Furthermore, the law makes it a crime for election workers to refuse to accept credentialed workers. 

    In addition, election workers cannot remove poll watchers for violating certain election laws, unless they have personally witnessed the conduct.  So if a partisan poll watcher --perhaps wearing a gun in a state with “open carry” laws-- threatens or intimidates Black or Latino voters and they complain to an election official, an election worker cannot take any action unless he or she sees the intimidation.   

    S.B. 1 had a very tangible negative effect on the conduct of the 2022 primary election.  According to the Brennan Center, 12% of mail-in ballots were rejected for failing to satisfy the new requirements. That was a 12-fold jump in the rejection rate compared to 2020.  In some counties the initial rejection rate reached 40%.  The rejection rate for minority voters was much higher than that for whites.

    Federal judges have already nullified certain provisions in S.B. 1 that pertain to assisting voters and mail-in ballots.  In a lawsuit challenging other provisions of S.B.1, the parties held closing arguments in February after a six-week trial before Federal District Judge Xavier Rodriguez in San Antonio.

    Severe Restrictions on Reproductive Freedom

    Since 2021, Texas has been one of the most restrictive states for reproductive freedoms, after Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation that banned terminating pregnancies after six weeks’ gestation, with rare exceptions that physicians say are unclear.  Doctors who violate the law can lose their medical licenses and face up to 99 years in prison.  This draconian measure exacerbates the state’s pre-existing physician shortage, especially for rural communities that need reproductive healthcare.

    While Texas does not allow ballot initiatives, reproductive health is among the issues for Texans to consider as they head to the polls in November. Senator Ted Cruz, up for re-election, has been a staunch foe of abortion and transgender health care. Cruz supported the failed Life at Conception Act, which would have provided equal protection under the law to “preborn children” from the time of conception.  

    Cruz has received endorsements from the Texas Alliance for Life, the Republican Party and Governor Greg Abbott.  Cruz’ Democratic opponent, Colin Allred, a three-term congressman, has cited freedom as a top issue, including reproductive freedom and freedom to vote. Allred’s endorsers include the Texas AFL-CIO and the Human Rights Campaign

    Candidates’ stances on abortion in down-ballot races appear to conform strictly with their party affiliation, but the polls of likely voters reflect more nuanced views. Democrats  hope that abortion rights will be a winning issue that will drive voters to the polls. However, a recent University of Texas poll suggests that voters may consider border security and immigration more important issues.

    What Can You Do?  

    S. B. 1 has created a serious risk that Texas election vigilantes could intimidate voters or otherwise disrupt the election in November.  To help ensure that voters are treated fairly, you can volunteer to serve as a poll monitor.  Get in touch with Common Cause Texas.

    You can also volunteer with Common Cause to contact voters who need information and support and to monitor social media, so you can report misinformation and disinformation about election issues.  You can fill the last two roles on a remote basis.  

    You can also join Common Cause in advocating that Texas establish an online voter registration program.  Texas is one of the few states that does not have such a platform, which would make it easier for voters, including minority voters, to register.    

    If you are a lawyer or a paralegal, you can volunteer for Election Protection, which provides advice to citizens who want to register to vote or who may encounter problems when they try to vote.  If you have a relative in law school, ask him or her to volunteer.  You can work from your office or home. EP provides training and materials on each state’s election laws and procedures.  Election Protection operates under the auspices of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights organization with about 100 partners.

    Disability Rights Texas helps people with disabilities understand their voting rights, surveys polling places for accessibility, and works with election officials to ensure fair voting.

    Mi Familia Vota is a national organization with a branch in Texas that is committed to empowering the Latino community and helping Latinos register and to vote.

    [1] https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/texas-voter-suppression-law-trial
  • May 15, 2024 11:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    REGISTER HERE

    Grant Supremacy: The Art of Proposal Writing and Grantsmanship

    With Linda Jackson Sowell '73

    Wednesday, May 22, 2024

    Securing grants enables organizations to better serve their communities, ensures consistent funding, and builds credibility...but what is the secret to securing the elusive grant? Our classmate and professional grant writer Linda Jackson Sowell can provide some answers.

    During this webinar, Linda will focus on the requirements of a well-prepared grant-seeker, the structure of a grant proposal, the process--relationship building with potential funders ( cultivation, solicitation, stewardship) as well as the communities served, and on how to build a win-win structure between grantmaker and grant recipient for various types of grants.

  • May 15, 2024 11:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    May 21st, 6:30pm ET

    City Winery, NYC


    Remember grooving to the soul music of Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Aretha Franklin, Staple Singers and Ray Charles?

    Let’s get it on again! Join HR’73 classmates at JusticeAid’s spring concert, “Soul of Justice”, May 21st at the City Winery in NYC for a terrific evening of music, justice, friendship and fun. One hundred percent of ticket sales and all donations go to support the work of JusticeAid’s grantee-partner Black Voters Matter, and their work in the months leading up to the 2024 election.

    JusticeAid has assembled an incredible roster of artists including Lisa Fischer—who performed with The Rolling Stones—Martha Redbone, and 2024 Grammy winner for Jazz Vocal Album Nicole Zuraitis, among others.

    To learn more about the artists, buy tickets or make a donation, click here.

    Doors open at 6:30 pm for cocktails overlooking the Hudson River followed by the concert and dinner.


  • May 15, 2024 11:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Ryan O’Connell; edited by Marilyn Go, Jim Harbison and Jacki Swearingen

    The demographics of Texas are shifting rapidly, as its booming cities draw waves of migrants attracted to the state’s growing economy, low taxes, and warm weather.

    Between 2010 and 2020, Texas’ population grew by about 16% or four million people, and almost all of them (95%) were people of color. The change stemmed from births (50%) and people moving to Texas (50%). Half of the new residents came from other states (particularly California, Florida, and New York), and half from other nations. Mexicans represented 60% of the foreigners who moved to Texas.  

    The main driver was a surge in the Latino population. The number of Texan Latinos rose 21% over that decade, and they accounted for half of the state’s population growth, according to Texas Redistricting and Congressional districts.  In 2020, the Latino share of the population was almost the same as that of whites (40%), and by 2022, it was slightly larger, according to updated figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.  

    Here is the key takeaway: four out of 10 Texans are Latinos. 

    The number of Black and Asian Texans increased rapidly, too, although from smaller bases.  In 2020 those groups constituted 11.8% and 5.4% of the population, respectively.  Meanwhile, the white population grew by only 2% in 2010-20.   

    Source: Pew Research

    Growth is Concentrated in The Big (Democratic) Cities  

    Furthermore, almost 90% of the population growth has occurred in five major metropolitan areas:  Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.  Rural areas and small towns, which tend to be whiter, either have had little growth or have lost population.  Since most Latinos, Blacks and Asians lean Democratic, four of those cities have become solidly blue.  The fifth city, Fort Worth, is an evolving political mix, but has essentially become purple.    

    When Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat,  ran for governor against Greg Abbott in 2022, he carried Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, as shown in the chart below.  Fort Worth voters preferred Abbott to O’Rourke, but in 2020 Joe Biden carried the city by a razor-thin margin. Biden carried the other four cities by wide margins.


    Source:  Dallas County Republican Party

    The voters in these four cities have mostly elected Democratic or progressive leaders to local offices.  The mayors of Austin and Houston are Democrats, while the one in Austin is a progressive independent.  On the other hand, in 2023, the mayor of Dallas switched parties, becoming a Republican.  Fort Worth’s mayor is also a Republican.

    But the Political Landscape Seems Frozen in Time

    Despite these significant population shifts, the distribution of elected officials in the Texas state legislature and congressional delegation remains heavily skewed toward Republicans.  Not surprisingly, the Republican Party has retained its dominance, since the state has a unique political culture, and many rural and suburban areas are bastions of conservatism. 

    There is a strong sense of Texas exceptionalism, shared by Texans of all political persuasions, based on the state’s huge size –it has an area the size of France—and its history as part of America’s frontier. In fact, Texas was a separate country for ten years, from 1836, when it gained its independence from Mexico, until it joined the United States in 1846.

    Texans prize the virtues of self-reliance, independence, and grit.  Although these are admirable traits, the nostalgia for the frontier days and virtues cannot obscure the reality that most Texans live in large cities or the adjoining suburbs.  They work in a complex economy, with large technological and medical sectors as well as more traditional industries like oil and gas.  

    In addition, many Texans are evangelical Christians, who are predominantly Republicans. Furthermore, turnout tends to be lower among Latinos and other minorities than among whites, partly because of obstacles to voting we will discuss below.      

    Nonetheless, one would have expected Democrats to win a larger share of state and congressional districts as the number of Latino and other minority voting-age citizens increased significantly.   

    Why hasn’t this happened?   

    Fighting Demographic Change

    The political establishment, seeing the handwriting on the wall in view of the changing demographic trends, has fought tenaciously to retain its hold on power.  Republicans have relied on two main techniques to disenfranchise minority voters:  gerrymandering and voter suppression laws.     

    The entrenched party has redrawn election districts on a highly partisan basis to stack the deck against its opponents.  Republican lawmakers engaged in very aggressive gerrymandering in 2010 and again in 2021, as described by New York University’s Brennan Center for Law and Justice:

    "Texas also enacted an extreme partisan gerrymander that insulates Republican rule against voter dissatisfaction. Under the new map, Democrats would have to win 58 percent of the popular vote in order to be favored to carry more than 37 percent of the state’s congressional seats. Put differently, even if Texas turned dark blue, Republicans could hold a two-to-one advantage in the state’s congressional caucus." 

    Texas also has a long history of voter suppression and restrictive voting laws.  After the 2020 election its legislature adopted even more stringent measures as it sought to maintain one-party control.   We will discuss these in more detail below.  

    Partisan Split in Texas 

    Because Texas state officials do not collect or publish figures on voters’ political affiliation, precise numbers on Democratic and Republican voters are not available.

    However, here is one possible indicator: since 1995. Republicans have won every race for governor, usually by wide margins. However, the close Senate race between Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke in 2018 demonstrated the growing power of Democratic voters.  Cruz won re-election, but only by 2.6 percentage points.  

    Since people of color have accounted for almost all the state’s population growth since 2010, it seems easy to assume that the percentage of Democratic voters has increased.  After all, Latinos still lean heavily toward the Democratic Party, according to Pew Research

    Of course, many Latinos, like other Texans, are Republican, and the GOP may be attracting support from some Latinos concerned about inflation or border issues. But reports of a massive Latino swing toward the GOP in the Lone Star State are probably overblown. Black and Asian Americans remain overwhelmingly Democratic in their political views.    

    Expanded Voting Options During Covid 

    During the 2020 election, local officials in Houston and other metropolitan areas devised creative ways to make voting safer and easier during the Covid pandemic.   They established drive-through polling stations, which allowed citizens to cast their ballots from their cars.  They encouraged early voting and voting by mail as well as providing drop boxes where voters could deposit their ballots.  

    These new options were particularly helpful for minority voters, most of whom were blue-collar and did not have flexible work schedules.  The drive-through polling stations and drop boxes were especially popular, since Houston is a huge, sprawling metropolis and commutes can be time-consuming.  These initiatives helped spur good turnout among voters despite the pandemic.  From a civic-minded point of view, these new approaches were a great success.  

    However, the result did not please the state political establishment, since Joe Biden carried the large Texan cities.  

    Setting The “Gold Standard” for Voter Suppression 

    Many Republican lawmakers raised issues about alleged voting fraud in 2020, and several leading Texas politicians echoed Trump’s claims about a “stolen election”.   In 2021, state legislators enacted Senate Bill 1 (“S.B.1”), which eliminated or imposed severe restrictions on the expanded voting options.  The ostensible rationale for these measures was to protect “election integrity”.   

    However, no significant voting fraud has occurred in Texas in recent years. [1]The goal, and the effect, of S.B.1 are to disenfranchise minority voters, particularly Latinos.  

    The new law created numerous impediments to voting, including  

    The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You

    The last two items are particularly troubling, since Texas has a long history of minority voters being intimidated.   S.B.1 expands poll watchers’ right to move around and observe polling places, including the ballot transfer and tabulation process.  Furthermore, the law makes it a crime for election workers to refuse to accept credentialed workers. 

    In addition, election workers cannot remove poll watchers for violating certain election laws, unless they have personally witnessed the conduct.  So if a partisan poll watcher --perhaps wearing a gun in a state with “open carry” laws-- threatens or intimidates Black or Latino voters and they complain to an election official, an election worker cannot take any action unless he or she sees the intimidation.   

    S.B. 1 had a very tangible negative effect on the conduct of the 2022 primary election.  According to the Brennan Center, 12% of mail-in ballots were rejected for failing to satisfy the new requirements. That was a 12-fold jump in the rejection rate compared to 2020.  In some counties the initial rejection rate reached 40%.  The rejection rate for minority voters was much higher than that for whites.

    Federal judges have already nullified certain provisions in S.B. 1 that pertain to assisting voters and mail-in ballots.  In a lawsuit challenging other provisions of S.B.1, the parties held closing arguments in February after a six-week trial before Federal District Judge Xavier Rodriguez in San Antonio.

    Severe Restrictions on Reproductive Freedom

    Since 2021, Texas has been one of the most restrictive states for reproductive freedoms, after Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation that banned terminating pregnancies after six weeks’ gestation, with rare exceptions that physicians say are unclear.  Doctors who violate the law can lose their medical licenses and face up to 99 years in prison.  This draconian measure exacerbates the state’s pre-existing physician shortage, especially for rural communities that need reproductive healthcare.

    While Texas does not allow ballot initiatives, reproductive health is among the issues for Texans to consider as they head to the polls in November. Senator Ted Cruz, up for re-election, has been a staunch foe of abortion and transgender health care. Cruz supported the failed Life at Conception Act, which would have provided equal protection under the law to “preborn children” from the time of conception.  

    Cruz has received endorsements from the Texas Alliance for Life, the Republican Party and Governor Greg Abbott.  Cruz’ Democratic opponent, Colin Allred, a three-term congressman, has cited freedom as a top issue, including reproductive freedom and freedom to vote. Allred’s endorsers include the Texas AFL-CIO and the Human Rights Campaign

    Candidates’ stances on abortion in down-ballot races appear to conform strictly with their party affiliation, but the polls of likely voters reflect more nuanced views. Democrats  hope that abortion rights will be a winning issue that will drive voters to the polls. However, a recent University of Texas poll suggests that voters may consider border security and immigration more important issues.

    What Can You Do?  

    S. B. 1 has created a serious risk that Texas election vigilantes could intimidate voters or otherwise disrupt the election in November.  To help ensure that voters are treated fairly, you can volunteer to serve as a poll monitor.  Get in touch with Common Cause Texas.

    You can also volunteer with Common Cause to contact voters who need information and support and to monitor social media, so you can report misinformation and disinformation about election issues.  You can fill the last two roles on a remote basis.  

    You can also join Common Cause in advocating that Texas establish an online voter registration program.  Texas is one of the few states that does not have such a platform, which would make it easier for voters, including minority voters, to register.    

    If you are a lawyer or a paralegal, you can volunteer for Election Protection, which provides advice to citizens who want to register to vote or who may encounter problems when they try to vote.  If you have a relative in law school, ask him or her to volunteer.  You can work from your office or home. EP provides training and materials on each state’s election laws and procedures.  Election Protection operates under the auspices of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights organization with about 100 partners.

    Disability Rights Texas helps people with disabilities understand their voting rights, surveys polling places for accessibility, and works with election officials to ensure fair voting.

    Mi Familia Vota is a national organization with a branch in Texas that is committed to empowering the Latino community and helping Latinos register and to vote.

    [1] https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/texas-voter-suppression-law-trial


  • April 25, 2024 5:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University:

    Nazmul Haque, a current Mason Fellow in ClassACT HR73’s Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, has a long history of developing public-private partnerships in response to climate change in his home country of Bangladesh. His experience was a case study for a recent symposium, “Climate Change, Public-Private Partnerships, and Social Equity: Lessons from Bangladesh” – also co-sponsored by the Weatherhead Center and the Salata Institute – in which Harvard practitioners and professors gathered to examine and enlarge upon the examples offered by Nazmul’s career. We spoke with him about his commitment to sustainability, and what the symposium meant for him. 


    Read full article
  • April 25, 2024 12:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    REGISTER HERE


    James Engell AB ’73, PhD ’78, Gurney Professor of English Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Inaugural Member of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the Salata Institute

     Please join us for the second of ClassACT HR73 Environmental/Climate Change Workgroup’s “Learn at Lunch” series of seminars. Classmate Jim Engell will discuss how  values from his field, the humanities, are changing traditional environmental economics and altering concepts of international and national energy security. Significant transformations in several fields are needed to avert additional tragic consequences of an energy transition that is too slow.  

    Slashing emissions, taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and, yes, geoengineering are all required, but essential to their success is a broad mass movement of the kind that propelled civil rights, women rights, and the rights of labor. In addition, central to formulating all climate policies is an awareness of the glaring moral inequalities of climate disruption—wealth inequalities both among and within each nation, as well as issues of intergenerational justice. 

     Following Jim’s introductory remarks, there will be time for Q/A and discussion.

    Here are some resources that Jim recommends:

    • The Climate Book compiled by Greta Thunberg. “I know of no single book more comprehensive and accessible on almost all aspects of the climate crisis.” 
    • Laudate Deum, a short, pointed 2023 version of the Papal Encyclical of 2015.
    • Article by Nicholas Stern, Joseph Stiglitz & Charlotte Taylor on new approaches to environmental economics

     Contact information:  jengell@fas.harvard.edu

  • April 24, 2024 12:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You are ready to move beyond the idea and the planning meetings for a new nonprofit. In this webinar, we will highlight key next steps, best practices and resources for launching your nonprofit. 

    This webinar is led by Martha Stone-Martin, VP of Marketing and Administration for Charles River CFO (CRCFO). CRCFO provides outsourced CFO, accounting and HR services to nonprofits, biotech and technology firms. She has over 30 years of experiencing developing web presences for small firms.

    Join us today at 7pm ET - register here!

    If you missed our previous webinars, take a look at the recordings below!

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