Fremont County Democratic Party Statement on the August 19, 2014 Primary Election

vote-democratLANDER, WY–Yesterday Republican and Democratic voters from across Fremont County and the state of Wyoming selected the candidates that they want to see on the ballot in November. The Fremont County Democratic Party was pleased to see two local Democratic contests, House District 33 and Senate District 25. Our congratulations go out to all of the contestants for their efforts and their willingness to pursue public service.

The Fremont County Democratic Party looks forward to supporting the campaigns of Andi Clifford for House District 33 and Sergio Maldonado in Senate District 25. Both are active and involved members in our community who have a vision of a Fremont County and Wyoming that frankly discusses issues and is inclusive of all of our citizens.

Learning of her win last night Andi Clifford had this comment: “I would like to thank everyone who supported me. I will need even more support going into the General Election. Good luck to all the candidates on both sides of the aisle. I appreciate your willingness to serve and represent the people. A big thank you to my Uncle Representative Patrick Goggles for his wisdom and guidance, I will try my best to carry on your legacy!” Andi is the assistant general manager at the Wind River Casino, Fremont County’s largest employer.

Sergio Maldonado expressed his gratitude to the voters when learning of his victory, saying, “A hearty thank you to all who voted for me to be your Democratic candidate for Senate District 25. We have great work in front of us prior to the November General Election. It will take many of us pulling together to assure that the people of Senate District 25 will have a voice in Cheyenne. I cannot stress enough the importance of every person, their concerns and hopes. I take this responsibility in both a humble and people oriented manner.” Sergio is a long time educator and is the Diversity Coordinator at Central Wyoming College.

Fremont County Democratic Party Chair, Bruce Palmer had this comment on the local elections, “We are pleased to be putting forward very strong candidates for HD 33 and SD 25. Both Andy and Sergio are articulate, accomplished and energetic candidates. They are certainly worthy of the consideration of every voter in their districts.”

Palmer continued, “It is interesting to note that more Republicans voted against the incumbent in Senate District 25 than voted for him with nearly 55% of voters choosing Sen. Case’s opponents. Interestingly, in Fremont County the same is true in the Republican Gubernatorial primary. Governor Mead’s 55% statewide win in his own party is far from a vote of confidence. The Fremont County result for Governor Mead must be particularly disconcerting for his supporters with Haynes and Hill outpolling the governor by about 150 votes. The governor certainly benefited by running against two very flawed candidates.”

The Fremont County Democratic Party looks forward to working to support all of our candidates over the coming months. We look forward to positive results in November.

Wyoming GOP “Pallin’ Around” With Hateful Has-been

The Nuge-- sacrilegious headdress, confederate flag shirt and AR-poster boy for the Wyoming GOP!

The Nuge– sacrilegious headdress, confederate flag shirt and AR–poster boy for the Wyoming GOP!

FCDP Chair and WDP Vice-Chair Bruce Palmer wrote this essay.

Two weekends ago many of the Wyoming Republican Party’s “leaders”, including Mike Enzi, John Barrasso, Cindy Hill and Clark Stith, had the outrageously poor judgment to show up at the Bighorn Basin Tea Party event featuring Ted Nugent. Ted Nugent, an aging rocker of questionable musical talent has tried to stretch his career by making money as a vile, foul-mouthed culture warrior. His name-calling isn’t limited to bad taste, it is racist having referred to the President of the United States as a “subhuman mongrel” and “chimpanzee” and more recently after a Native American-owned casino canceled his show referring to his detractors as “unclean vermin”. Andi Clifford, a candidate for House District 33 and a member of the Northern Arapaho tribe calls it what it is in a statement on her Facebook page saying, “I denounce Ted Nugent’s bigoted and vile name calling. Most of us moved beyond his type of behavior when we were in elementary school.” This isn’t free speech it is childish, hurtful ranting and in most places this kind of behavior would earn you a trip to the woodshed for a spanking, but not in today’s Wyoming Republican Party where it gets you a visit from both of the party’s U.S. senators, the superintendent of public instruction and gubernatorial candidate, and a candidate for secretary of state.

It is unconscionable that in Wyoming, the home of one of the nation’s largest Indian reservations with 12,000 enrolled members that top Republican officials would think that their presence at this Fox-fueled hate-fest would be okay. The Northern Arapahoe and Eastern Shoshone people of the Wind River Indian Reservation have a right to expect that their top elected officials would at least have the commonsense to steer clear of an event featuring a controversial character like Ted Nugent. Enrolled Northern Arapaho and Senate District 25 candidate, Sergio Maldonado stated it well in the Casper Star-Tribune saying, “Any individual with a modicum of integrity and self-worth will distance themselves from him.”

If Nugent’s race-baiting were not enough to keep top Republicans away it would seem that their staffs would have done enough research to know that Nugent isn’t a real “family values” kinda guy either. Over the years Nugent has been well-known for a proclivity toward girls well under the age of consent. His 1981 song, “Jailbait” describing an inappropriate relationship with a thirteen year old should disturb anyone who is concerned about sexual predators. Nugent is one sick pup and to have Cindy Hill, the leader of the state’s schools gushing on YouTube over him is an insult to decent people everywhere.

Recently the Wyoming Democratic Party hosted Dolores Huerta, a woman of class and conviction, to speak at our convention about her efforts to organize farm workers in the 1970s. She has continued her career as a standard-bearer for many of our nation’s under-represented. The juxtaposition of Dolores Huerta, a humble, yet assertive woman fighting for human dignity and Ted Nugent, a vulgar loudmouth fighting for the right to have guns with 100 round magazines says much about the state of Wyoming’s two political parties.

Mike Enzi, John Barrasso, Cindy Hill and the Wyoming Republican Party owe the people of Wyoming an apology. They need to say that hatred is wrong, that human dignity is the least every resident of Wyoming should expect and that they will no longer “pal around” with has-been (or never-were), rocker hate-mongers.

The Wyoming people deserve so much more from our elected leaders.

Medicaid Expansion Op-ed Article

This op-ed article by FCDP Chair Bruce Palmer will be appearing in the October 30, 2013 Lander Journal:

On June 28 of 2012, the United States Supreme Court, a court stuffed with very, very conservative jurists sent Wyoming and 25 other states packing. The Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act was, in fact, the law of the land. It was a decision that delighted Democrats in Wyoming and across the nation who saw an opportunity to provide health insurance for all of our citizens while it caused outrage on the right where any victory seized by the President is demonized.

After the blush wore off, though, we discovered that the decision left open a door for Wyoming’s Republican obstructionists to continue their grandstanding while wasting money and denying a needed hand-up to those less fortunate. Sadly, the Court left it to the state’s discretion to fully participate in the Medicaid expansion providing the opportunity for Governor Matt Mead and our legislators to continue dithering and blustering against the Federal government.

It would be easy for Republicans to make the right decision for Wyoming concerning the ACA. The Wyoming Department of Health thoroughly investigated the costs and benefits of the expansion and said that it would save the state 47.4 million dollars over six years. Organizations across the state support the expansion including AARP, the Wyoming Medical Society, the Wyoming Association of Churches and the Wyoming Hospital Association. These are not fly by night organizations and you can bet they have done the math. Yet in this past legislative session, in a bad economy, our Republican legislators opted to waste taxpayer’s money in order to make a statement by choosing to not endorse the Medicaid expansion. And of course it isn’t just our tax dollars that they decided to flush down the toilet.

When people don’t have health insurance they still require health care, but they tend not to take preventative measures. When they become ill or injured, they go to hospital emergency rooms, where ultimately many of their charges must be written off. The Wyoming Hospital Association indicates that these uncompensated expenses add up to 200 million dollars a year. Who do you think pays this bad debt? You, me and every other person who buys health care or health insurance.

More importantly, good policy isn’t just about governmental spending policy. Our Republican legislature has decided to leave 17,600 of our Wyoming neighbors without health insurance. The optional expansion would cover people with incomes up to 138% of the poverty level. For a family of four this amounts to an income of $31,809. These are our state’s working poor—folks that our Republican majority try to shaft at every opportunity, whether it is changing the rules to take their earned vacation or pooling their tips to limit their income.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but it seems that our Republican politicians are dead set against doing the right thing for our citizens and our state. If the Federal government is involved it is bad, say our legislators. They don’t respond to my letters, says Governor Mead. The politics of divisiveness and childishness are alive and well in Wyoming.

Recently, Newt Gingrich said that Republicans have “zero ideas” on health care. Wyoming’s Republicans have less than no idea. Our Republican leaders have been wrong every step of the way, wasting money on a failed lawsuit, and time when we could have controlled our own destiny with a Wyoming Health Exchange run by Wyoming for Wyoming’s people.

Sadly, it is the people of Wyoming who are losing out due to this belligerence.

Next week provides a great opportunity to press our legislators to expand Medicaid. On Monday and Tuesday, November 4 and 5, the Legislatures’ Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Interim Committee will be meeting at the Best Western Inn at Lander and Medicaid expansion is on the agenda. Before the meeting, write or call Lander’s Representative Lloyd Larsen, a member of interim committee and tell him that expanding Medicaid coverage is good for our economy and good for our citizens. Then attend the Tuesday, November 5 meeting and make a public comment. Fremont County Democrats will be there along with others from around the state. For more information and a complete agenda visit: TurnFremontBlue.com.

Make your voice heard!

Info on the November 5 meeting. Come and participate!

Care for the developmentally disabled shows our humanity

The following opinion piece by Bruce Palmer, Chair of the Fremont County Democratic Party, ran in today’s Casper Star-Tribune:

In Wyoming we pride ourselves on our sound judgment, abundant resources and concern for our neighbor. It is time to live these values by investing our state’s wealth and making improvements to the services offered the severely developmentally disabled. Admirably, last session the Legislature asked the Department of Health to eliminate waitlists for services, but unfortunately they are doing this on the backs of those already in the system by scaling back services and embarking on a “study” of the Wyoming Life Resource Center.

As a resident of Lander I am aware of the importance of this facility to Lander, the state of Wyoming, and most particularly to the clients who reside there and their families who have the piece of mind that comes with knowing that their loved one is well-cared for.

The Wyoming Life Resource Center offers excellent service to many of our state’s most vulnerable citizens—the severely developmentally disabled and those with acquired brain injuries. The service provided these Wyoming citizens cannot be replicated in community-based programs—from the work programs that give the clients a sense of belonging and self-worth to the aquatic and therapeutic riding programs that brings joy to a person for whom every day is a challenge.

In the 1990s the vast majority of the residents of the Wyoming Life Resource Center (known then as the Wyoming State Training School) were removed from the facility and placed in community-based programs. These citizens have added greatly to our communities. Just this past winter the town of Lander had a funeral celebrating the life of John Cooper, a former client of the WLRC and a much-loved part of our community. John walked Lander’s Main Street and waved to every car that came through town. He was our goodwill ambassador. Not only was he our welcoming committee, he was also a master of farewells attending nearly every funeral performed in town. It was great being able to count him as a part of the life of our community. We are all richer for it.

John belonged in an adequately funded community-based program. He was able to get around town on his own and with help from his guardian and the available community services was able to navigate life. He was happy and loved and a testament to the benefits of being appropriately placed in the right situation.

Not every developmentally disabled person is the same. Like all of us they have different abilities and different needs. While John was able to lead a good life in the community, the clients of the Wyoming Life Resource Center have needs that are greater than what can be addressed in community-based programming. The people who are like John are already in community programs—some thriving as John did and some struggling. Our state needs both appropriately funded community-based options and the Wyoming Life Resource Center.

Over the past year I have been able to meet many of the 400 plus staff that make the WLRC a true gem in the community of Lander. I met people who were directly involved with client care and rehabilitation, maintenance staff and, to me, a surprise, staff who focus completely on maintaining and customizing wheelchairs and other durable medical products for the clients and others around the state. To a person I found these staff to be passionate about the work that they do for the Wyoming Life Resource Center and dedicated to the client experience.

Both the Wyoming Life Resource Center and our community-based programming show our compassion and caring for all of our citizens.

And our state has the resources to pay for them. Yes, we must be prudent, but we needn’t be stingy.

Bruce Palmer lives in Lander and is the Chair of the Fremont County Democratic Party.

Enrolled Act 37– Wyoming Republicans Gift to Working People

The following op-ed piece, written by FCDP Chair, Bruce Palmer, appeared in the July 31 issue of the Riverton Ranger.

It is summer time. The kids are out of school and many family’s thoughts turn to a summer vacation. A trip to Yellowstone, a family reunion or perhaps a jaunt up the Loop Road to camp, fish and hike. Here is a suggestion. Be sure that you use all of your earned vacation while you still have it!

On July 1, Enrolled Act 37, passed by the Republican dominated legislature and Governor Matt Mead, took effect taking another shot at the rights of workers in Wyoming. This time they are after your earned vacation. While most of us were hard at work back in February, the Republican-dominated legislature was in Cheyenne quietly working to take away that most revered of American institutions—earned vacation. Nearly every Republican (including Fremont County legislators Lloyd Larsen, HD 54; David Miller, HD 55; Nathan Winters, HD 28; Eli Bebout, SD 26 and Gerald Geis, SD 20) voted to pass House Bill 79 changing the definition of compensation in the state of Wyoming to no longer include accrued, earned vacation. What this means is that when you retire or are laid off employers no longer need to pay you for the vacation time that you earned.

Not a single Democrat voted for this onerous vacation theft law because we feel that it is fundamentally unfair. If you need to take a few days off from work, but haven’t earned enough vacation time to do so you have to take the time as unpaid, right? This means that your vacation is compensation, you earn it and employers should not be allowed to take it from you. Particularly if you are being laid off. The pay-out on earned vacation can mean the difference between being able to take care of your family while you find a new job and not.

That Republicans are unsympathetic to the needs of working people is no surprise, you really only need to look at the data and the efforts that they make in the legislature. Wyoming consistently ranks dead last in gender wage equality with Wyoming women earning a mere 67 cents for every dollar paid to a man. While the national numbers are horrible with women earning just 77 cents on the dollar, Wyoming’s wage gap is criminal. At the same time Wyoming consistently ranks first in workplace fatalities. This is fundamental. No one expects a family member not to return after a day at work. The incremental, self-policing efforts implemented by the Republicans are not the answer to a problem this grave.

With 87% of our legislators being Republicans and all of our statewide offices and national offices held by Republicans it would be easy for them to improve the lot of our workers if they wanted to do so. The Republicans do not. Rather they do exactly the opposite, further eroding the protections that employees still have. In this past session in addition to their vacation-grabbing legislation the Republicans pushed “tip pooling” legislation that would have allowed employers to force employees to pool their tips reducing some employees income potential while reducing the burden on employers to pay an appropriate wage.

The Fremont County Democratic Party believes that we can do better. Working people in Wyoming aren’t asking for a handout, but they do deserve a fair and safe workplace. And they need to be rewarded with what they have earned, whether it is their earned vacation or their tips. This is the Wyoming way—honest and fair.

Wyoming Democrats will be working in the upcoming session to repeal Enrolled Act 37. You can help with this effort. This summer we will be visiting folks door-to-door and at events around the state as we gather petitions to deliver to our legislators asking that they repeal the Vacation Theft Act. We hope that you will visit with these neighbors and learn more about the people and beliefs of the Democratic Party in Fremont County. Sign the petition. More than that we hope that you will join us as we work to return balanced, two-party politics that work to the benefit all of the people of Wyoming.

Read Enrolled Act 37

Hear Enrolled Act 37 sponsor Rep. Tim Stubson debate the merits of the Bill with Bruce Palmer on KVOW.

Joe McCarthy and two other U.S. Senators will face charges in a mock trial in Lander on June 26, 2013

Senator Joe McCarthy. Guilty as charged?

Senator Joe McCarthy. Guilty as charged?

Three former members of the United States senate will go “on trial” in Lander, Wyoming for their alleged roles in the 1954 suicide of Lander citizen, U.S. Senator Lester Hunt. Senators Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin), Styles Bridges (R-New Hampshire) and Herman Welker (R-Idaho), all deceased, are “charged” with blackmailing the Wyoming senator. Hunt died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on June 19, 1954.

The trial opens at 7 PM on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at the Lander Middle School Commons.

The trial coincides with the release of the first book-length biography of Senator Hunt. Dying for the Sins of Joe McCarthy-The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt, was written by Rodger McDaniel and published by WordsWorth Publishing Co. of Cody.

Retired Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Michael Golden will preside. Riverton attorney, John Vincent will prosecute. Among the other players will be Landerites Bill Sniffin and Bruce Palmer, as well as County10.com’s Ernie Over. A jury of local citizens will hear the case and render a historic verdict.

Lester Hunt, a Democrat, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1948. He was twice elected governor and twice elected Secretary of State and served in the Wyoming legislature. Hunt came to Wyoming in 1911 to pitch for Lander’s professional baseball team. Following service in World War I, he married Emily Nathelle Higby of Lander, completed dental school and practiced dentistry in Lander.

As Secretary of State, Hunt designed the bucking horse license plate. As Governor he oversaw the Heart Mountain Interment Camp and dozens of programs assisting World War II efforts including the Selective Service. Hunt served in the United States Senate from 1948 until his death in 1954.

Former Senator Alan Simpson wrote the foreword for McDaniel’s book, saying, “When Lester Hunt arrived in Washington in 1949, he witnessed the rising tide of McCarthyism. His was one of the few early voices to call it for what it was.” Speaking of the events leading to Senator Hunt’s suicide Simpson wrote, “What was done to Lester Hunt passed all boundaries of decency and exposed an evil side of politics most would always seek to avoid.”

Simpson added, “Rodger brings to this book the fine skills he learned in all of the paths of his own journey. Beyond the rare ability to research, investigate and write a gripping story, Rodger also brings a level of empathy to Lester Hunt’s life story that he richly deserves. The result is this book that finally offers Lester Hunt’s remaining family some form of justice – though belated.”

The trial is sponsored by the Fremont County Democratic Party and the event is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing by Rodger McDaniel will follow the trial.

See author, Rodger McDaniel being interviewed about Lester Hunt on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” here.

Fremont County Democratic Party Elects New Officers

LANDER – The Fremont County Democratic Party gathered on Sunday March 24th in Lander to conduct their election of officers. Lander resident Bruce Palmer was selected as chair and Sherry Shelley of Riverton will be the group’s vice-chair. Gena Robinson was elected secretary and Michael Crosby will be the group’s treasurer. Robinson and Crosby both reside in Lander.

Lander’s Roland Robinson and Riverton’s Sally Rowe-Kaufman will represent the county party as state committeeman and state committeewoman. All of those elected will serve for a term of two years

“I am excited to serve in this role,” Palmer said. “Fremont County is home to a diverse group of people. While clearly outnumbered in registered voters it is important to note that House District 33 has sent a Democrat to Cheyenne for the past ten years. This year in District 54 44% of those voting voted against the Republican and we saw similar results in Riverton. With good organization and hard work the Democratic message of putting people first can be a winning one.”

The Executive Director of the Wyoming Democratic Party, Robin Van Ausdall, was in attendance as was the Laramie County Chair, Vince Rousseau. Van Ausdall offered congratulations to the new leadership team and updated those gathered on Democratic Party happenings at the statewide level. She reported that while on the state level the 2012 elections were disappointing there are reasons for optimism going forward. The party has just hired a new media coordinator to improve communications around the state and a number of young, new county chairs have been elected this year.

The group took the opportunity of having Van Ausdall present to discuss party building and election strategies. Ideas for greater community involvement were discussed, as well as ways to help local communities best understand the values that the Democratic Party represents.

About the Fremont County Democratic Party

The Fremont County Democratic Party believes in and loves Wyoming and the people who live here. From Jeffery City to the Wind River Indian Reservation to Dubois and everything in between, the Fremont County Democrats put people first with forward-thinking, common sense solutions. The number of Democrats active in the party locally is small, but there are literally thousands of Democrats living in our communities. To learn more: 307.349.4718 or visit www.TurnFremontBlue.com