Halloween comes early this year, with a veritable parade of ghouls and boogeymen crawling out from the shadows and swamps all across the great state of Louisiana plying voters with every manner of trick and very few treats ahead of Election Day, October 14th. But only a ghastly few will come to rule us mortals as our next batch of state elected officials. While we’re sure to see a fair number of creeps and weirdos lurking the rank halls of the state Capitol come inauguration day, this year our chapter has voted to endorse two candidates who promise to shine a light on the murky depths of Louisiana politics to cast out some of those creepy crawlies.
New Orleans DSA is a democratically-run, all-volunteer organization of the working class, and every year we convene to elect officers, consider amendments to our bylaws, and debate member-submitted proposals for the coming year. In short, Convention is our most important annual gathering! Members can weigh in on chapter priorities and fully exercise their power to shape Chapter work for the coming year and beyond. This year our Convention will be held June 24th at 12PM at the John Thomas Legacy Center, 1212 St Bernard Ave. Don’t miss it!
- We’ll be having a pre-Convention tailgate following our General Meeting May 28th! If you’d like to meet current officers, ask questions about running for DSA positions or submitting proposals, or just hang out, please join us!
- Submit your bylaw amendments, political resolutions, and electoral endorsements to email@example.com by June 17th. We also encourage members to post submitted or draft proposals to the #amendments-and-resos channel in slack for feedback and discussion.
- Submit nominations for Chapter leadership to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 10th. You may nominate as many members as you like, but no one may nominate themselves!
- Convention will be held June 24th at 12PM! Convention will be a hybrid meeting, both in-person and online. For those attending online, we’ll post a link to register on Zoom closer to the event.
The following positions are up for election this year:
- Co-Chairs (2)
- Membership Chair
- Treasurer Trustee (2)
- At-Large Council Members (2)
Find more detailed information about all the roles we’ll be electing this year here!
Proposals & Bylaws Amendments
Below is a list of resolutions which will be debated and voted on at Convention (these require a 50%+ vote to be adopted).
|Resolution to Establish an Electoral Strategy for 2023-2025||Electoral Working Group., Bob M.|
|Electoral Endorsements Resolution||Jack R.S.|
|Re-Authorize the Make Entergy Pay Campaign||Jack R.S.|
|Prioritize Anti-AirBnB Action||Jack R.S.|
|National Convention Delegate Expenses||Jack R.S.|
The following amendments to our Bylaws will be considered (these require a 2/3rds majority vote):
|National Convention Funding Bylaw Amendment||Jack R.S.|
|Amendment to Abolish Co-Chairs||Trey D.|
|Amendment to Establish an Advisory Council||Trey D.|
We’ll continually update these lists as new proposals are submitted before the deadline on June 17th, so be sure to check back then to read everything we’ll be voting on this year.
Only members currently in good standing can vote on proposals and in Chapter elections, so make sure you’ve signed up to DSA before the start of Convention! If you’re unsure of your membership status, please visit proof.dsausa.org, or email us at email@example.com.
Proxy Voting: If you are unable to attend either in-person or via Zoom, you may identify another member to serve as your proxy. This member then votes on proposals and in elections according to your preferences. Attending members may hold up to two proxies. If you will be requesting a proxy, please notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 23rd with the name of another dues/paying member who will serve as your proxy. If you are unable to identify another member to name as your proxy, please let us know in a note to the above email address, and we’ll assign you a proxy to make sure your votes are cast.
Officer Elections: As usual, we will be elections via software called OpaVote. You will receive your ballot via email when voting opens immediately following the in-person Convention, along with periodic reminders to vote throughout the week.
We have prepared some information about using OpaVote, as well an explainer about our vote counting method:
Proposals: Resolutions and Bylaw Amendments will be voted on at the Convention: in-person attendees may vote by raising a voting card you will receive during your check-in; virtual attendees may vote in the #voting channel of our Chapter Slack, as we do during virtual-only General Meetings.
Sheriff Susan Hutson has quietly placed a question on this ballot that would expand OPSO’s current property tax millage from 2.8 mils to 5.5 for the next ten years boosting her annual budget by about $13 million. Hutson hasn’t offered a detailed description of her plans for the funding increase. She has called it a “compliance millage” which would imply that it is meant to help bring the jail into compliance with the dictates of federal oversight. But most of the money seems designated for staff raises and an, as yet, incomplete list of building improvements. As is often the case with the infamously opaque and unaccountable Sheriff’s department, voters are just expected to trust whoever holds the office. In that regard, Hutson hasn’t exactly inspired confidence.
For example, there was the $30,000 Hutson paid in consultation fees to “friend and valued partner” Kyshun Webster last year. This came immediately after Webster had been forced to resign a post as head of the Juvenile Justice Center amid multiple controversies involving abusive treatment of employees and neglect of his own duties as he devoted more of his time to his private insurance business. Previously, a federal audit found that Webster’s “mentoring and tutoring” non-profit had mishandled nearly $900,000 in grant funds back in 2012. It’s unclear exactly what Hutson learned from Webster’s consulting stint. Apparently he invoiced her for his legwork picking out office space and cleaning equipment. One wonders, though, if Hutson’s illegal attempts to keep incidences of violence and abuse in the jail she is running under a veil of secrecy might also be chalked up to Webster’s “mentorship.”
During this past Carnival season, Hutson’s office was charged with coordinating the city’s last minute mad scramble to staff parade routes with supplemental police and sheriff’s deputies from around the state. Law enforcement agencies have made it an annual routine to hold Mardi Gras hostage in order to shake down the city for money. This act has only grown more farcical in recent years and, this year, Hutson’s participation has drawn particular scrutiny. According to reports, the Sheriff booked 13 or 15 hotel rooms for what looks like as many as 11 days and nights during the Carnival season, ostensibly for her staff and deputies. No audit can show exactly who used the rooms, though. After the story became a public controversy, Hutson announced the $18,000 hotel bill would be covered through private donations. This only raises further ethical questions, however. So does an expenditure of over $15,000 on a “conflict coaching” consultant to deal with the understandable push back from dissenting advisors among her staff. That money was poorly spent also. Hutson went ahead and fired four of her top staff anyway. At least one of them is considering filing for whistleblower status.
The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office is a great black hole through which public resources are sucked into a carceral system that can only produce corruption and violence. Sheriff Hutson campaigned on promises to “reform” the quagmire. But since she took office, the jail population has only expanded. And now she is asking us to grow its budget. In the 2021 municipal runoff elections edition of our voter guide, we recommended voting for Susan Hutson in 2021 as an opposition candidate to then-sitting Sheriff Marlin Gusman with the understanding that “the Chapter does not consider Hutson nor any other actual or potential law enforcement officer an ally, but considers Hutson an enemy we can more effectively oppose as we continue our work to abolish carceral policing.” We can only conclude that the millage funds would be utilized by Sheriff Hutson’s office to pursue aims counter to our own stated goal of abolishing the carceral police state as we know it. Therefore, we recommend voting NO on Sheriff Hutson’s proposal, as confirmed by a unanimous vote of our General Membership.
The Municipal Action Committee of New Orleans DSA is proud to release the Fall 2022 Voter Guide! You can learn about the candidates and ballot initiatives here. We hope to connect issues in the races to larger discussions in our city and world, and give a better understanding of the positions and processes of our city and electoral system. The guide covers statewide races, as well as what’s on the ballot specifically in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Beyond educating ourselves through working on and publishing this guide, we hope to inspire readers of the guide to think critically, be curious, and evaluate politicians on how they relate to power.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 8th. Make a plan to get to the polls if you haven’t already voted early. You can find your voting information here: https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/Home/VoterLogin.
The campaign will organize ratepayers in debt to Entergy to demand forgiveness of all post-pandemic utility debt and a permanent shutoff moratorium after the November 1 end of the temporary moratorium.
New Orleans, LA – Dissatisfied Entergy New Orleans ratepayers will organize their neighbors to refuse to make ongoing payments, or pay off any debts to the utility until Entergy and the New Orleans City Council forgive all debts since March 2020, and agree to place a permanent moratorium on power shutoffs.
New Orleans DSA campaign leaders say Entergy’s record profits, along with their reliance on dirty fossil fuels, as well as a litany of tacked-on fees, justify their effort to “Make Entergy Pay” for ratepayers’ ever-increasing debts.
“While New Orleanians have suffered regular sunny day outages, massive failures in storms due to a lack of maintenance, and skyrocketing bills, Entergy executives and shareholders have given themselves raise after raise,” said Jack R., a campaign organizer, “It’s high time Entergy paid the price for its poor management and outright greed.”
In spite of Entergy New Orleans’s poor performance, the COVID pandemic, and several major tropical storms, in 2021 the company reported record profits of nearly $1.4 billion, while outgoing Entergy Corp. CEO Leo Denault is paid a salary of $16 million, before even including lucrative stock bonuses.
The campaign will recruit 10,000 pledges among Entergy New Orleans ratepayers before initiating the strike, during which participants will refuse to make payments on previous utility debts and future charges.
The strike will continue until Entergy agrees to the campaign’s demands, or is forced to acquiesce by the New Orleans City Council.Campaign organizers say they will continue their efforts beyond the debt strike in pursuit of a fully municipalized, public electrical utility for New Orleans, owned by city residents and operated under the auspices of the New Orleans City Council.
About New Orleans DSA
New Orleans DSA is the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, a volunteer organization supported by its dues-paying members with the goal of democratizing all aspects of society, political and economic. The New Orleans chapter has previously participated in the Save Your NOLA Library campaign, the effort to decriminalize sex work through the state legislature, engages in regular community mutual aid projects such as free health fairs and free brake light replacement clinics, and produces regular voter guides to provide unvarnished analysis of local and state elections.
On July 31st, an estimated 100,000 self-employed Louisiana residents, including musicians, contractors, and “gig workers’ were cutoff from federal assistance programs. New Orleans DSA spent the last month gathering potential plaintiffs and agitating for a lawsuit to stop this cutoff, similar to ones filed other states. Over a thousand people responded to our call, and the case will be heard tomorrow, August 12th, in front of Judge Kelly. With permission, we would like to share just a few of the heartbreaking stories from some of the resilient and hard-working Louisianans whose livelihoods depend on these benefits. All stories are in their own words and have been lightly edited for clarity.
“I lost my brother to COVID it’s just so sad and upsetting that the government wants us to go back to work when nobody is hiring and if they are hiring they’re only hiring for part time jobs. This is really going to set me back because I have to figure out how to provide and live with my kids along with having fear of getting sick and dying.”
“I’m hoping PUA is extended because I have 3 children and 2 step kids that I’m taking care of. I have bills that have fallen behind and I have 3 autoimmune disorders that really affect my body- one of them being in late stages in my lungs so my doctor has told me with everything spiking again and with the delta coming into play that I need to stay home as much as possible. If the PUA unemployment benefits are going to be cut off then I’m going to be forced to go into public and risk my life to find a job to support myself and my children, and that really scares me because I’m all they have. This unemployment is my life line right now and if it’s not off I don’t know how we will survive, especially paying our bills.”
“I really think unemployment benefits should be saved because A lot of single mothers including myself and a lot of people in general have been really affected by the coronavirus. If the unemployment isn’t reinstated me and my new born child will be homeless and without any food. I applied for so many jobs since the beginning of the pandemic and not one has even contacted me. I really do desperately depend on unemployment. I know everyone has a sad story. Before the pandemic I worked and made my own money. I had to stop working due to catching the virus and I really do hope and pray to get back to work one day soon because I’d really rather work for my own money rather than depend on the government, but I have to due to Covid 19.”
“I’m soon to be 55 years old and I have several health issues myself, high blood pressure being the first and most important. I was an employee at a hospital in Louisiana when I went on leave to take care of my mother out-of-state, who is ill, and my adult son who has schizophrenia. The last day I worked was in March of 2020. That was the day my admin department was shutting down because of Covid.
Unemployment allowed me to pay my rent and bills while out. Cutting off unemployment early will be devastating to me and worse for others. My rent is going up and with no job I can’t pay it, nor utilities, etc. I support and buy food for my son.
Louisiana takes advantage of the working people, this state capitalizes on indentured servitude. No one can live decently making under $15 an hour- have a car, insurance, have health insurance, decent housing, utilities. I can’t imagine having small children under these conditions.
People accuse us of being lazy and not wanting to work. Someone should hold the employers accountable for firing people indiscriminately during a pandemic. I know first hand what poverty, poor education, lack of resources look like. We will be ruined if this unemployment stops early. We were smart enough to pay rent ahead and unemployment benefits will be used to pay our bills to allow for more time to find employment.”
While we await results from court, we would love your help in flooding the phone lines of Governor John Bel Edwards to let him know how this cutoff has impacted you, your family, and your neighbors. Governor Edwards needs to know that his decision to cut benefits has had far-reaching consequences on his constituents. With COVID numbers continuing to surge, and seeing the cancellation of more events, there will only be a greater need for sustained assistance for unemployed workers, and he needs to take action TODAY. Let Governor Edwards know you are watching how this lawsuit pans out, and urge him to think of unemployed workers in Louisiana.
Governor John Bel Edwards:
Constituent phone line (225) 342-0991
Or, you can e-mail him at the link here.
Are you impacted by the July 31st Cutoff?
Last month, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards sided with corporatist legislators and business lobbyists and against the people of Louisiana. On July 31st, an estimated 100,000 self-employed Louisiana residents, including musicians, contractors, and “gig workers’ will be cutoff from federal assistance programs. Thousands more will have their weekly benefits slashed in the midst of surging COVID hospitalization rates.
The People of Louisiana Deserve Legal Representation
Worker Power Louisiana and New Orleans Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) created this form to help identify potential plaintiffs for a lawsuit similar to those filed in Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. Our goal in collecting the names of potential plaintiffs is to encourage legal aid organizations, such as the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) to file a lawsuit before July 31st. At this time, we are not aware of any legal aid group, attorney, or legal team prepared to file suit. We hope to change that. Legal aid groups in other states have filed suits on behalf of their people. The people of Louisiana deserve the same representation.
If you or someone you know will be impacted by this cutoff, please help spread the word!
Potential Plaintiff Form: https://bit.ly/July31Cutoff
The following DSA positions are up for election this year:
- Co-Chairs (2)
- Membership Chair
- Treasurer Trustee
- At-Large Council Members (2)
- Convention Delegates (9) and Alternates (2)
You can read all the summitted statements by candidates for these positions here! This information will be made available on the paper and online ballots as well. You can read more about the responsibilities of each position here.
Our Voting Guide for this year’s November 16th Runoff Election has arrived! It’s live and online to help educate y’all about candidates and issues. Huge shoutout to Municipal Action Committee for their extremely hard work on this!
By Noah T.
Registering as a Democrat
On April 4, Louisiana will hold a primary election to decide which Democratic candidate to support in a run for president. This will be a closed primary, so it will only be open to registered Democrats. Many members of the Democratic Socialists of America are not registered Democrats: they may have been drawn to the DSA because they have no faith in existing political parties, or because they don’t see any political party that is a good representation of their personal ideology. The Democratic Socialists of America are a political group, but not a party. When our members register to vote, we don’t have a DSA box to check, we have to make our own choice about party affiliation. In this primary for the Democratic nominee for president, we are encouraging our members to register as democrats to take part in this contest. It’s a simple process for voters to change party affiliation to Democrat to cast this vote, and then change to something else afterward if they wish.(more…)