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Pelosi brings pedigree to high post on Capitol Hill
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Pelosi brings pedigree to high post on Capitol Hill

BY Justin Pritchard, Associated Press

Nancy Pelosi loves old maps -- graphic testimony to the spirit of exploration, faded images of what was known and unknown. "Maps are about the places and the geography and the Earth, but they're also about how people saw the world and the courage it took for them to go places," she says. "What we want to do in politics is blaze trails and not just follow paths." Today, the 62-year-old Pelosi will become the Democrats' leader in the House of Representatives, the first woman to lead either party on Capitol Hill. She is a liberal in a conservative time; her party is still in the shadow of a humbling defeat last November. Once again, Nancy Pelosi is plotting her own course. "She's overcome being a woman in largely a man's world," says Charles Pottruck, a friend and campaign donor who is president of the San Francisco-based brokerage firm Charles Schwab. I think you have to recognize that this didn't happen by accident. How it happened -- how this Roman Catholic girl from Baltimore ended up the most powerful woman in the history of Congress -- is a story that no map could set out. 'You must run' Rep. Sala Burton was dying of cancer in January 1987 when she summoned Pelosi. "You must -- MUST -- run for my seat in Congress," Burton insisted. Pelosi says she resisted, but finally agreed. "What people see in Nancy Pelosi now, Sala saw in her then," says John Burton, Sala's brother-in-law and president of the state Senate. "Sala," he says, "was down to skin and bones and I think she really hung on to do that." For years, Pelosi had put off politics while she raised her five kids [one of them, Alexandra, put together a recent HBO documentary on the George W. Bush presidential campaign]. She had resisted overtures to run even as she charmed San Francisco's political powerbrokers, even as she showed a knack for raising campaign cash, helping Democrats wrest control of the U.S. Senate in 1986. There was always a latent talent for politics. She was, after all, Thomas D'Alesandro Jr.'s daughter -- and he represented Baltimore in Congress during and after World War II, and served as its mayor for three terms. In the family home, the seven D'Alesandro kids staffed the living room desk that was the first stop for all comers. "Constituents came in for jobs, for favors, for wood, whatever," says Pelosi's older brother Thomas D'Alesandro III, himself a former mayor of Baltimore. "She saw human nature in the raw. People come in ranting and raving, they're down and out. You can't just holler back at them." She learned to keep the friendship in her voice -- and the rest came naturally. "She has one trait that she inherited from my father, and that is the ability to read people," her brother says. "When some people say yes' to you, they mean no' -- when they say no' they mean 'yes.' The emphasis is when they say the word, their body language." Nancy D'Alesandro married Paul Pelosi, a native of San Francisco, and they moved there to raise their family. She edged into politics -- first doing some volunteer work for the Democrats, then informally advising Jerry Brown when he entered the Maryland primary in 1976. From there she joined the Democratic National Committee, became state party chair, vied unsuccessfully to become national chair -- and made her mark as finance chairman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Then came Sala Burton's deathbed summons. That June, the reluctant candidate won 62 percent of the vote; she has never lost an election. "I didn't realize I was going to like it so much, she would later say." 'Don't underestimate her' "You're not very smart if you underestimate Nancy Pelosi," says Rep. Tom DeLay, the conservative Texas Republican, incoming House majority leader and ruthless partisan who has tussled with Pelosi as chief House GOP vote counter. What makes her a worthy opponent is her work ethic. She works 24-7. In other words, Pelosi's life has been a dress rehearsal for the big time, and never confuse her civility with softness or naivetDe. "Her style is one that benefits her a lot," says DeLay. "She's not one of those that gets into your face, and some are pretty obnoxious when they're working on an issue they believe strongly in. She's one that you can trust. She comes to you very forthrightly." Still, perhaps no one in Congress, save DeLay himself, is an easier target for political caricature. To some opponents, she's the marauding fanatic threatening to sweep into the heartland from the Left Coast's political hinterland. Help stop the San Francisco liberal announces the Web site notpelosi.com, run by the conservative Citizens for a Sound Economy. Arthur Bruzzone, former chairman of the San Francisco Republicans, says Pelosi represents the arrogance, hypocrisy, and illusions of her supporters -- elitists and 'progressives.' A snappier take on the same theme -- latte liberal -- is beginning to circulate outside Washington. Pelosi has been stung by such jabs, but deflects them with humor. "I don't drink coffee. Never in my life had a latte," Pelosi says, deadpan. "In the absence of chocolate ice cream I had a couple of, what do you call them, chocolate brownie frappacinos." Chocolate is a passion. A collection of candies -- congratulatory gold-foiled gifts -- occupies the coffee table in her corner office high above San Francisco. She plucks one as she explains that, if she must be labeled, progressive will do. Still, if Democrats are generally labeled as either centrist or liberal, her signature issues have been the latter: She's outspoken on funding for HIV/AIDS research, human rights in China and abortion. Strains of social justice -- unemployment insurance, workers' rights, job creation -- are among her themes in recent weeks. But while Pelosi hits familiar liberal notes, she isn't her father's New Deal Democrat. She has voted against organized labor on international trade and alienated some environmentalists who lambast her pet idea to prop up the Presidio, San Francisco's old Army base and now a national park, with private investment. She came west to San Francisco in 1969 -- the year of the Summer of Love -- but remained a stay-at-home mom and devoted Catholic. Last fall she voted against war on Iraq, but she also voted for President Bush's Department of Homeland Security. "Again and again," she says "Democratic policies must be credible. It's the axiom of a politician looking beyond her own back yard." There is a difference between advocating for your district and being the leader of the party, Pelosi says. You make a transition, but you don't leave your values behind and people respect you because you believe in something. Already, San Francisco's old-school leftist establishment judges Pelosi a centrist apostate who should take her palette of pant suits to the burbs. "There's a lot to be critical of," says Tim Redmond, executive editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian and a longtime observer of local politics. "They plucked Nancy Pelosi out of the fundraising world, basically to be a loyal machine member." Pelosi is still a major figure in the fundraising world. She draws comparable amounts from business and labor interests. Her husband is a wildly successful investor and the couple mingles with the West Coast's entrepreneurial elite -- schooled in the world of ward bosses, Pelosi speaks the language of the venture capitalist and the Silicon Valley innovator. Pelosi says she'd rather do anything than solicit contributions. Still, she zig-zagged the country during the 2002 campaign, by her staff's estimate raising more than $7 million for candidates in nearly 100 congressional districts. When she first began angling for a leadership position, Pelosi established political action committees to redistribute donations to fellow Democrats. In October, she dropped one of her two PACs in the face of suggestions that the setup was a way of getting around limits on campaign donations. Since 1999, no one in Congress has lavished more money on fellow lawmakers than Pelosi's $2.1 million, according to the watchdog Center for Responsive Politics. "In a sense you are buying your leadership position," says Larry Noble, the group's executive director. She has many admirers Talk to those who know her personally -- even some Republican adversaries -- and the compliments flow: Diplomatic, but not disingenuous. Sweet, but not sickly so. Sharp, but blunt when need be. Gracious. Organized. Polished. Energetic. Radiant. Admirers extol the personal touch of a society sophisticate. Peppy notes encourage colleagues and flatter supporters, important weddings or baptisms don't go unnoticed. "As a politician, she doesn't have a mask on her face," says Harry Wu, the human rights activist who was released from a Chinese jail with Pelosi's support. "You can look into her eyes, you can trust her. You can relate to her." "She is probably the most perfect political partner," gushes Rep. Anna Eshoo, a fellow Bay Area Democrat Pelosi helped get elected in 1992. "I don't know anyone who can say no' to her." Republicans can -- they control both houses of Congress and the White House. And they will. But, at least for now, most of her colleagues take pains to appear positive. Part of it is that no politic politician would be caught attacking before the battle really begins on Capitol Hill. Some may be building Pelosi up to tear her down. But some of the regard seems genuine. "Even on the most complex issues, she can pull the threads together quickly," says Rep. Porter Goss, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on which Pelosi has been the top Democrat. "There's not a lot of explaining you need to do." Goss recalls the time, five years ago, when he and Pelosi had returned from a trip to North Korea and were addressing the Tokyo press corps. Pelosi had not yet launched her quiet campaign to become Democratic whip, which succeeded in 2001. After the briefing, Pelosi pulled Goss aside. "Nancy chewed me out very thoroughly because, as it turned out, the seating arrangements had myself and some equally old men at the center of the optic and women and minorities off to the side. She's very attentive to detail and image," Goss says. She's a much better politician than I will ever be.

01/06/2003
Gaston Source
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Gaston Source

BY Alice Gregory

Lincoln's Lawing is regional activist of year POLITICS The N.C. Citizens for a Sound Economy recognized a Lincoln County woman as Activist of the Year for the Charlotte region at its annual Day at the Capital earlier this month. Betty Lawing of the organization's Lincoln County chapter received the award. Lawing is a former school board member, and she joined CSE in 2000. Citizens for a Sound Economy is a nonpartisan grassroots group that says it's dedicated to lower taxes, less government and more freedom. Panel examining board's setup resets meeting GOVERNMENT The task force to study changes to the structure of the Gaston Board of County Commissioners has postponed tonight's meeting. The group instead will meet at 7 p.m. next Wednesday in the Department of Social Services auditorium, 330 N. Marietta St., Gastonia. The group is studying whether to recommend changing township boundary lines and scrapping countywide votes for township seats. Gaston College to launch construction May 12 EDUCATION Gaston College will break ground for its $1.6 million public safety building May 12. The 15,000-square-foot building will replace four mobile units used as classrooms and administrative offices for the college's firefighter, police and paramedic training program. The new building is being paid for by state bond money. The facility will be located on the Regional Emergency Services Training Center area of the Dallas campus on U.S. 321 South. About 12,000 firefighters, police officers and emergency medical workers train at Gaston College each year.

01/05/2003
The Dividend Tax is Double Trouble
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Press Release

The Dividend Tax is Double Trouble

Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) is delighted at news reports that President Bush may propose an economic growth package that completely repeals the dividend tax, effective immediately. The dividend tax never made economic sense. Corporate profits are taxed by the federal corporate income tax. Taxing those profits again when they are distributed to stockholders as a dividend payment is double taxation.

01/05/2003
GASTON SOURCE
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GASTON SOURCE

BY JOE DEPRIEST, ALICE GREGORY

Belmont adds 5 streets to paving program ROADWORK The Belmont City Council Monday night approved a contract change order for $33,700 that will allow the city to pave five streets not included in the original fall paving program. City Manager Barry Webb said the extra money came from a combination of good bids and savings in materials from estimated amounts in the contract with Crowder Construction Co. of Charlotte. Paving will begin next week on Hill Street, Ethan Avenue and portions of Clay Street, Reid Court and Ferrell Avenue. School board goes asking for more money BUDGETS Gaston County commissioners will meet with the Board of Education at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Department of Social Services auditorium, 330 N. Marietta St., Gastonia, to discuss a schedule for school improvements. School board members will list priorities for improvements, and commissioners will discuss when more school bonds should be issued. The school board is proposing that county commissioners issue an additional $21 million in bonds in April. Assemblyman to discuss state budget crunch POLITICS State Rep. Joe Kiser, of Vale, will talk about the state's budget situation at 12 p.m. Wednesday at Sagebrush Steakhouse, 112 N. Generals Blvd., Lincolnton. The meeting is hosted by the watchdog group Citizens for a Sound Economy. Lincoln County commissioner James "Buddy" Funderburk will also talk about issues the county faces. E-mail Jason Saine at jsaine@cse.org, or call (704) 472-6234 for more information.

01/05/2003
GASTON SOURCE
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GASTON SOURCE

BY JOE DEPRIEST, ALICE GREGORY

A chance to take a hand in Mount Holly's future PLANNING The first round of community forums about planning Mount Holly's future begins Monday. Charlotte architect and developer Ron Morgan will lead the sessions, to be held Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays this month. In November, Morgan led a city-sponsored forum to discuss ways of enhancing the city's image, which is expected to be affected by a new section of Interstate 485. Morgan will guide three committees through a four-meeting process to produce recommendations for a possible referendum June 3. The committees will focus on parks, greenways and riverfront; downtown and center city; and restaurants and entertainment. Meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. as follows: Parks/greenway committee - Jan. 6, 13, 20 and 27, at the First Presbyterian Church, 133 South Main St. Downtown/center city - Jan. 7, 14, 21 and 28, at the Mount Holly Fire and Rescue headquarters, 433 Killian Ave. Restaurants and entertainment - Jan. 9, 16, 23 and 30, also at the Mount Holly Fire and Rescue headquarters. To join a committee, come to its first meeting or call City Hall at (704) 827-3931. Committee, delegate nominations on tab GOVERNMENT The Belmont City Council on Monday will consider committee and delegate appointments. Also on the agenda is consideration of a recommendation from the Belmont-Mount Holly Soil Erosion Ordinance Committee. The council will meet at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 115 N. Main St. Lincoln health board will elect officers ELECTION The Lincoln County Board of Health will elect new officers at its meeting Tuesday. The board meets at 7 p.m. in the Blue Room of the Lincoln County Health Department, 151 Sigmon Road, Lincolnton. Property-tax penalty kicks in on Tuesday TAXES Monday is the last day Gaston County residents can pay their property taxes without being penalized. Payments postmarked after Jan. 6 are subject to a 2 percent interest fee. Beginning Feb. 1, .75 percent is added each month until the account is paid. The county can collect delinquent taxes by garnishing wages or foreclosing on the property. To pay with a credit card online, visit: www.co.gaston.nc.us/TaxDept/index.HTM. Or, mail payments to: Gaston County Tax Department, P.O. Box 580326, Charlotte, N.C. 28258-0326. The tax office, at 212 W. Main St. in Gastonia, also accepts hand-delivered payments. Citizen panel asks no-tax-hike pledge TAXES The Lincoln County chapter of Citizens for a Sound Economy is asking county commissioners to promise not to raise taxes. The organization wants at least three commissioners to sign a "no tax" pledge to prevent a tax increase in fiscal year 2003-04. The pledges will be mailed to commissioners and are due by Feb. 10. In 2001, commissioners raised the tax rate by 22 percent, to 62 cents per $100 of valuation. Last year, commissioners voted to keep the same tax rate. But commissioners are now saying they may have to raise taxes to pay for an additional $1.1 million in needed school improvements. Applications invited for food, shelter aid GRANT Local nonprofit or community organizations may be eligible for federal money for emergency food and shelter programs. Gaston County received more than $165,000 from a national board headed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A local board made up of volunteers will determine how the money is distributed in Gaston County. Applicants must be private nonprofit organizations or government agencies, have an accounting system, be capable of providing emergency food or shelter, and have a board if they are a volunteer group. The deadline to apply is Jan. 17. Call Mary Ann Walker at the United Way of Gaston County at (704) 864-4554 ext. 14 or e-mail mwalkeruw14@hotmail. com.

01/05/2003
Lawyers Criticize Doctors' Walkout
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Press Release

Lawyers Criticize Doctors' Walkout

From the Charleston Daily Mail January 4, 2003, Saturday Copyright 2003 Charleston Newspapers WHEELING - After surgeons here made a national media splash by refusing to perform operations until the state addresses the rising cost of medical malpractice insurance, the area's lawyers went on the offensive. Calling the surgeons' actions "despicable" and a violation of their professional duties, Northern Panhandle plaintiffs' attorneys joined forces to condemn the doctors in the walkout as "outlaws."

01/04/2003
Action Alert: Support President Bush’s Healthy Forest Initiative
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Press Release

Action Alert: Support President Bush’s Healthy Forest Initiative

In response to the threat of wildfires and the declining health of the nation’s forests, President Bush has announced a new initiative to develop a common sense approach to forest management. Currently, over 190 million acres of national forests alone are under threat of wildfire or blight. The Healthy Forests Initiative seeks to promote healthy forests through better oversight and management practices. The administration’s Healthy Forests Initiative takes a much more sensible approach to forest management, based on principles supported by science and forestry. The plan would streamline administrative processes that have paralyzed forest management in the United States. A series of regulations to implement the needed reforms have been released for comment. The deadline for comments on this particular proposal is February 18, 2003, so please send your comments by e-mail as soon as possible. Please show your support for the Healthy Forests Initiative by forwarding your comments to the Forest Service at 215appeals@fs.fed.us.

01/04/2003
Garner ponders payment
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Garner ponders payment

BY Lorenzo Perez, Anne Blythe

The education task force that Garner Mayor Sam Bridges assembled with Cary Mayor Glen Lang picked a consultant Thursday night. Garner's aldermen still haven't decided, however, whether they want to help pay the consultant's $ 60,000 fee. The McKenzie Group, a Washington, D.C. firm, was selected to help craft a reform plan for Wake County Schools' student assignment policies. The elected officials, along with parents' groups, are taking a closer look at the school system's reassignment policies, including student diversity. The Cary Town Council has already agreed to use public money to help pay the consultant's fee, but the same request got a chillier response in Garner. Bridges says he plans on making another pitch to his board at its Jan. 21 meeting. Armed with more specifics about the consultant's plans, Bridges said, he hopes to get a more favorable response. "Mayor Lang and I talked about that briefly last night," Bridges said Friday. "And neither of us want the Town of Cary to have to pay for the consultant on its own. So I'm going to really work as hard as I can to persuade our board." After attending Thursday's task force meeting, Garner alderman Graham Singleton said his position has shifted on using town money for the consultant. "I'm much more open to it now than I was before," he said. NATIONAL NOTORIETY: ABC News crews were in Carrboro the week before Christmas asking a lot of questions of the mayor and several aldermen. The news team was preparing a segment on the federal Patriot Act and the strong stand the seven-member Board of Aldermen took last June. At a time when towns and cities across the country were passing resolutions "urging federal authorities to respect the civil rights of local citizens when fighting terrorism," the Carrboro aldermen went a step further. They directed the town police department to continue to preserve residents' civil rights even if federal law enforcement officers, acting under the Patriot Act, authorized or requested such an infringement. The news crews asked Carrboro officials whether their action was merely a symbolic gesture. "They were just asking: 'Why Carrboro? What is it about this town? Does it really make a difference?'" said Alderman Mark Dorosin. On Dec. 23, several days after the TV news crews were in town, The New York Times published a story about the issue and gave Carrboro a prominent mention. The TV segment has not aired yet. One of the aldermen received an e-mail from a producer saying the news crews had not yet been able to interview Justice Department officials. Stay tuned. POLITICAL TRAIL - RALEIGH MAYOR CHARLES MEEKER will hold his monthly run with constituents at 8 a.m. today at Shelley Lake in Raleigh. - THE WAKE COUNTY CHAPTER OF N.C. CITIZENS FOR A SOUND ECONOMY will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at N.C. State University's McKimmon Center and hear from new Wake County commissioners about plans for the coming year and the county budget.

01/04/2003
Nation Watches Doctor Walkout
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Press Release

Nation Watches Doctor Walkout

From the Charleston Daily Mail January 3, 2003, Friday Copyright 2003 Charleston Newspapers WHEELING - The operating rooms in the Northern Panhandle may be quiet, but the halls of the hospitals here still are buzzing as the nation turns its attention to the region and the walkout its surgeons are staging.

01/03/2003
Don't Feel Sorry For States
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Press Release

Don't Feel Sorry For States

This op-ed originally appeared in Investor's Business Daily on January 3, 2003 State budgets have rarely, if ever, been in worse condition than they are today. According to the National Association of State Budget Officers, the total deficit for state budgets nationwide stands at $40 billion in this fiscal year, with another $40 billion shortfall expected for 2003. Such a glaring disparity between revenues and outlays has led legislatures and governors across the nation to retrench and meet for special sessions to address the problem.

01/03/2003

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