Monday, August 9, 2010

Thoughts on the Community Picnic


Not sure how many of you guys knew about the "community picnic"...I meant to post on it prior to the date but scatters is my brain lately.

Anyway, yesterday was the picnic where they had John Callahan and Dan Onorato who are running for offices this November. One being Congress and the other Governor. It was packed.. the place bulging at it's seams with the lure of free food and entertainment. My guess is 70% of the people that attended (and that's being generous) where there solely for the free food and magic show. People will probably think it's a success because the place was packed...but how many of those people who just came for the free food..will actually vote in November?

It's easy to be critical when all you're doing is making sure the kids don't bumrush the magician... but I'm still trying to figure out where I fit into this whole thing. Sandy Vulcano made a very accurate observation when she saw me...she was like "there you are all by yourself again". That is me...people and crowds overwhelm me and I feel completely awkward when around much so, that I'm much more comfortable being alone. Not that I don't like the people who are around because they all seem very nice but it's hard when I can't find a common interest to "small talk" about.

Anyway I really hope there is more to this committee woman title than just attending events and having to rub elbows and socialize because if it is...I'll be doing my precinct an injustice because I won't be attending many. I do hope that we (the newbies) get some sort of training...but I doubt it from the last conversation I had. Hopefully the longer I'm involved the more comfortable I'll become and I'll eventually find my niche.

But enough about me....anyone have any ideas as to how to get the masses to buy into the idea of voting in November's election? We have a lot more events coming up and it will be good if we can take some suggestions and incorporate them to get a higher turnout!


noel jones said...

Nikkita, I just had a similar conversation with another new precinct captain--about how new people on the committee want to jump in and get their hands dirty with the tough business of figuring out how to solve our community's problems together and developing strategies to get candidates that support positive change elected, rather than just being asked to help out at picnics designed to raise money for candidates that the new people do not even know, much less support.

One thing newbies can do at these events though, is insist on meeting the candidates face-to-face and ask them questions, so that they can decide if they want to support them, and tell people in their precinct about their impressions. Were the candidates there?

I look forward to reading comments from some of the other new committee members--I know that one new committee member proposed at the last county meeting that there be training for new precinct captains--of course that and other great suggestions were drowned out by the red-faced, megalomaniacal shouting of Walt Garvin, the new county chair. It's up to the EADC--new members and old--to make sure that all suggestions are heard and that training is developed for new members.I don't see anything that organized happening at the county level unfortunately (except for the balanced efforts of Kiki Schock, the new county vice-chair) but as the EADC reorganizational meeting went very smoothly, it's entirely possible at the city level.

Steve White said...

Noel and Nikkita,
You're both right. My function at the picnic was to direct people to parking spots. But when I was relieved by another committee member and I went inside, I was just as glad to be in the parking lot.
Onorato and Callahan were there but it would have been difficult to have a conversation with them. When I checked on the food there seemed to be nothing but potato chips and cupcakes.
I agree that the Easton area Democratic Committee is a much more likely place to get things done than at the County meetings.
I spent Monday afternoon at Musikfest handing out leaflets but I doubt that it was effective and it sure was hot. I am looking for something more productive if anyone has any ideas. -- Steve White, Precinct 6

Carinne said...

Nikkita, I was thinking of you Sunday when I made the decision to not attend the picnic. My reasons for skipping it have been confirmed by these posts. My only regret now is I should have called you and convinced you to hang out with me instead, and enjoy the Sunday! For that I am sorry.
What I would like to see happen with the candidates is public speaking with Q and A, and eventually debates with the opposing republicans. The way I see it is anyone already familiar with, and interested in Onorato or Callahan winning, is not the target audience for any Dem event. These individuals will definitely be voting, and for the dem candidates anyway. What the committee needs to do is get the potential non-voters out, and sell the Dem candidates as the best vote. As a new member of the committee, I am unable to “sell” the candidates b/c I don’t know enough information about them. I thought I would quickly gain this info at meetings and events but this never happened. I do not feel guilty about not already having researched the individuals since I feel it should be the expected conversation. Also, if I was not in this position on the committee it would be empty, so I am better than no one regardless. Having these weekend social events where the most you might learn is how tall Onorato is, and what his wife and kids look like is not worth my time. Feeling that way, I could never ask my neighbors to waste their weekend.
I absolutely would attend any event that was educational about the issues. I would like to hear not only the Democrats opinions, but what the opposing Republicans side is as well (and why it’s not better). I still don’t know what the Easton Democrats feel are the most important issues this next election. I don’t know what they as a group are most fearful of should a republican win. All I have heard over and over is that we need money for the democrats. We need republicans to lose.
Sorry, that's not good enough.

Anonymous said...

This event sounds like the old "bread and circus's" strategy laid out during Roman times where you keep the masses busy and ignorant with eating and entertainment. Why dont you guys on the committee challenge this has a worthy way to spend dems money?

One way you can serve your precincts is by shining the light on what goes on. Be the live link between pols and people. This post does exactly that. And the other posts reveal more. What is the story on this red faced chair - what was going on?

Cathy said...

On both the local and global level there are problems to be addressed by an organized political party. There are low information voters out there that think Obama is a failure. There are lies printed daily in the Express Times and Morning call that need to be systematically refuted. Also we have issues here related to our water - urgent issues. Why go along with the status quo asking for "training"? You didnt run for precinct captains just to blend in. What would stop you from having your precinct meet and tell those citizens that show about concerns as you see them (as their representative.) ? (If you do due diligence by inviting all it doesn't matter how many show up.) Get input and show up with a sign at the next picnic listing your constituents issues. Probably somebody will talk to you about someting not small. I think some of the newbies ran to represent their precincts and to support the top of the ticket not just to run with the local party machine which is what these picnics sound like. Michael and Allison Fleck are my reps and I will be calling on them in the Fall. Mostly I want to tell them to do better by the top of the ticket as it affects my life here in the West Ward very much. Trickle down economics is why. Also what about the water and the train?

Nikkita said...

I'm so relieved that I am not the only one with these questions. I was really hesitant on posting this because I wasn't sure if anyone really cared.

Carinne, I would have had a much better time hanging out with you on Sunday.

I didn't like the attitude of the organizer...she didn't seem to appreciate input or suggestions AT ALL. I was appalled when I noticed she expected the kids to be congregated within very close proximity to the "smokers" on the deck. EVERY table had ash trays and to me it just seemed irresponsible to have adults puffing smoke less than a foot away from 30 kids trying to enjoy a magic show. When I told her about it she tried to argue with me until she realized I wasn't backing down. Ten minutes later she had me remove the ash trays and made a snotty comment saying that the smokers would be to the left of the main door...if it was ok with me...

I didn't attend the County meeting because like Carinne felt about Sunday, I felt it would be a waste of my time..and found out I was right. I have no time for foolishness. I'm all about utilizing my time to help make things better but not to hear egotistical middle aged men rant and cuss because their pedestal is being threatened. And if anyone even thought about getting in my face about anything...well some of you already know that I'll cuss a b!tch out in a second if provoked too far. So I choose to attend events where I can be Nikkita and keep the LeFemme leashed.

noel jones said...

i have a feeling things will become much clearer soon--for one thing, the main focus for both parties will be to GET OUT THE VOTE. so if precinct captains focus on the GOTV campaign by informing the voters in their precincts that this election really matters, even if they just think it's a mid-term election and not a big deal, that alone is an accomplishment. the most important message for all voters is: MARK YOUR CALENDARS and get out your houses to vote on November 2nd!

Anonymous said...

Nikkita sounds like you were effective at this picnic. Wish you felt good about that because we need more of that from our reps.

Nikkita said...

Thanks Anon. My main problem is that I can't be effective if I don't know what I'm doing. I'm basically one of those people who I am supposed to be telling to go out and vote. Sure, I always voted in all elections...but never really knew WHO to vote for. Sad to say but I am one of those uninformed pick a name that sounds cool voters.

How do I, who has no idea what is going on, convince others to vote? I can't. Until I either get some training... or experience... I can't be the one to go and make cold calls, or canvass my area convincing people to vote.

What I WOULD like to do is put together a block party for my precinct where I can introduce myself to everyone and find out what their concerns are in the neighborhood. I don't mind finding out whether or not they vote and asking them why they don't. That is truly the only way I see myself being of any real use right now. But it being August..and the fact that I've never put together anything like that before..doubt it will get done before November..but I could be wrong.

noel jones said...

No worries, Nikkita. Everybody starts somewhere. At least you've stepped up to the plate--and you've already done a lot of work in the community. Most Americans, sadly, are glued to the TV and not engaged at all in their local political process.

I think your block party idea is a really good one, and you should talk to the Dem committee about whether money is available to cover food & bev.

Anonymous said...

I attended the picnic and unlike some others I was impressed - both with the turnout and with the candidates. I had the opportunity to speak face to face with the candidates and I was impressed with both of them -- albeit many campaign and few deliver. But I think these two were genuine. Onorato has the experience and knows that government to be effective has to be reduced on the state level. (I think he will have a hard time selling that to the legislators but he is absolutely right.) And Callahan is also impressive. All cities face financial challenges and so does Bethlehem. He will take urban issues to DC and work for the working people --- he will work for Main Street not Wall Street.

And I must say that the best comments were made by our Mayor who said that if you want to deliver true change in Washington then you must give Obama the legislators that agree with the need for change. He credited City Council and said without their support nothing would get done and the same is true in DC -- Obama is President but without support from Dems who will at least listen before they decide to vote no his agenda and programs are meaningless. I never though of it that way. Makes sense. I am voting for Onorato and Callahan.

carinne said...

The same questions come to mind as in my comments from DRL’s “Bread and Circuses” post. I want to know what Callahan and Onarato have done. What were their specific votes on past issues? Also, how exactly will they do the things they want to do? The last anonymous comments about the picnic being really informative do not sell me. Based on what I have read, most people just like to hear promises. “I will work for Main Street not Wall Street” sounds wonderful but specifically how do they plan on doing this? “As Governor, Tom Corbett is committed to securing Pennsylvania’s financial future and stimulating job creation.” Is stated by the republicans, and to the lay person sounds just as good. Is there any place to quickly gain real and valuable info.? The kind that is helpful to the avarage individual that doesn’t have time to absorb their whole life in politics? I too will be voting for Onarato and Callahan (I think), but at this point I don't have too many reasons why.

noel jones said...

Carinne's comment in well-taken--this blog is for discussion and sharing of resources--if anyone has good links for either voting records or articles on candidates that would inform someone as to their past actions, as opposed to their carefully-composed platforms, please post them here for others to read!

Dennis R. Lieb said...


Your take on the picnic event and your follow-up comments are focused on the real problem. Onorato and Callahan may be great guys with a dedication to serve. But the tired cliches tell me nothing. Is Bethlehem really doing that well? From the news this week it doesn't sound like things are so rosy - and this after the decision to fully embrace casino gambling as the solution to the city's economic woes: a casino as centerpiece to redevelop a blank slate of Beth Steel land the size of the city of Easton! How is that working out?

I heard an interesting story yesterday from a reliable source that Northampton County Prison is overflowing with non-english speaking Chinese immigrants, arrested at the Sands for larceny while trying to figure out how to get back to New York on their own. Chinese bus companies, reportedly contracted by the Sands, are giving these immigrants $20 cash and picking them up in NYC to gamble here. Some of these people miss their bus home, are stranded here after losing all their money, no language skills, no translators and filling up the prison in the West Ward that we pay for.

These are the specifics. When are we going to talk about them? How are we dealing with the fine print of the issues? What do these guys want to do - specifically - about rail transit statewide and in the Valley? Will they tell us?

Here in lies the problem with politicians vs leaders. If these guys actually have detailed plans they'd be brave to reveal them because details lead to discussion and discussion to debate over vailidity and principals. Do they really want to debate principals during an election? Better to gloss over things with generalities and sloganeering. Thats the way it's done.

If either of these gentleman are ready to talk details I commend them and I'm more than ready to listen.