On November 29 over 70 SIAN members met at the Oyster Catcher Community Center to hear about SIAN activities and socialize with fellow members. During mix and mingle, members enjoyed a mental health minute with Marcia Papanek offering her 5 cents worth and shared their favorite “Trumpisms”. We let our voices be heard via petitions against the Trump Tax Scam and the Religious Liberty Rule that lets employers deny health insurance coverage for birth control. Both petitions had over 60 signatures. The Tax petition was faxed to Senators Graham and Scott prior to the Senate Tax Bill vote on Dec 2. The birth control petition along with postcards supporting Women’s reproductive rights will be delivered to Senator Graham’s office next week.
The Steering Committee wants to thank everyone for their donations to help defray the cost of the event. We hope everyone enjoyed camaraderie, sharing common concerns, and meeting new members and old friends.
For those who could not be with us, below is a summary of news and updates shared during the event.
Voting Rights Committee: Ava Kleinman reported that while we had a session from the League of Women Voters on the “how-to’s” of voter registration, we did not get any traction with respect to attending the voter registration drives on Johns Island. Our efforts will focus on the 2018 elections and increasing voter participation. Mary Whyte then discussed the work of SCOPE 50, an organization created by veterans of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, which is conducting outreach to students and the larger community to get people out to vote. They are also working on an oral history of the Civil Rights movement volunteers and will be holding a fundraiser on February 23, 2018, at the Seabrook Club ($75), with Motown music, to raise funds for this effort.
Environment Committee: Dick Wildermann announced that he will be publishing a newsletter on the SIAN website, called “Abusing Planet Earth,” to document the harm that the Trump administration is causing to our planet. He also announced that in December the Trump administration will be launching a new offshore oil and gas program, which would be especially harmful to the South Carolina shores. This will probably have a two-year timeline for notice and comment, and he is looking to align with the “Don’t Drill Alliance of South Carolina” to oppose this program. Dick is in contact with Peg Howell who is a petroleum engineer and an expert on offshore drilling, and expects to co-sponsor, with the Seabrook Birders, a presentation on Seabrook by Peg.
Healthcare Committee: Inger Fyfe said that we are still (as a movement) struggling to rebuff efforts to repeal the ACA. We need to reach out to even more people than we have contacted so far because there is strength in numbers. Leigh Cobb is already trying to locate more moderate-inclined people on Kiawah. Inger pointed out that the CHIP program is running out of funds and it is critical that it be approved for the upcoming year.
Women’s Reproductive Rights Committee: Pam Madaio reported that this is a very scary time, especially when you look at all the activities going on “behind the scenes:” As examples: The Religious Liberty Rule allows employers to deny insurance coverage for birth control based on vague religious or moral objections; the 20-week abortion ban has passed in the House and is being sponsored by Senator Graham in the Senate; Title X family planning is up for renewal and the Trump appointee who manages this program has expressed skepticism that birth control works; and there is an amendment in the just-passed Senate tax bill that would allow the establishment of college savings plans for fetuses (one step on the way to declaring “personhood” upon conception and undermining Roe v. Wade). Pam urged all attendees to sign postcards supporting Women’s Reproductive Rights that will be delivered by SIAN to Senator Graham’s office. Pam also urged everyone to follow SIAN’s website and to opt-in to receive updates of SIAN news.
Steve Montagu-Pollack wrapped up by discussing where we go from here. He explained that the Steering Committee is consolidating committees to be more effective; he noted that we address more issues than the Indivisible group (e.g., environment) so we are going it alone on some issues; we need to figure out how to best use social media to get our messages across (and solicited volunteers to help us in that effort); and said that we need to focus on the State and Federation elections in 2018, in particular, the candidacy of Joe Cunningham who is running against Mark Sanford for Congress.