Mitt Romney Wins New Hampshire; Florida Alliance Members Voice Disapproval

January 13, 2012

Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire Republican primary Tuesday with 39.3% of the vote, finishing well ahead of runners-up Ron Paul (22.8%) and Jon Huntsman (16.9%).

 

Two days later, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans members gathered in West Palm Beach to draw a distinction between themselves and “Fat Cat Mitt Romney Supporters,” who were attending a high-end Romney fundraiser at the home of Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross. Noting that the Romney event, co-hosted by sugar baron Pepe Fanjul, was being held at the $32 million Ross estate, the Florida Alliance hosted a picnic that same day for the middle class. The Alliance event, a “Regular Man’s Picnic,” served Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, rather than the caviar said to be served at the Romney event across the intra-coastal waterway on the island of Palm Beach. “The seniors at the picnic were in sharp contrast to the Romney donors, who - by virtue of attending their event - were forwarding the interests of the wealthiest 1% of Americans over the middle class,” said Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling.

 

Rep. Paul (R-TX), incidentally, said recently that Social Security, a lifeline for millions of seniors, is “unconstitutional.” He added that, if elected, he would allow citizens under the age of 25 to opt out of the system in order to save their own money for retirement (http://wapo.st/xZXlmM).

 

West Palm Beach a Hotbed of Activity This Week

The Palm Beach Post reported that about 100 protesters, including Alliance members, Occupy Wall Street sympathizers, “Raging Grannies,” and others, also gathered in West Palm Beach this week. On Tuesday, the activists in attendance blasted Florida Governor Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled legislature on the opening day of this year's legislative session in Tallahassee. The “Awake the State” rally, held at the former West Palm Beach City Hall and current Occupy West Palm Beach encampment, was one of 19 such events held around the state. “When the legislature goes into session, we know we're not safe. We know they're going to do things that aren't going to be progressive...We know they're going to attack the middle class,” said Tony Fransetta, President of the Florida Alliance.

 

Indiana Alliance Joins with Partners to take on “Right to Work”

On Tuesday, representatives from the Indiana Alliance, the group “Hoosiers First,” and United Senior Action held a press conference to voice their joint concerns about the “right to work” legislation pending before the Indiana General Assembly.  Having reviewed the possible impacts of right to work, or RTW, on retired union members and their dependents, the three organizations concluded that RTW spells trouble for not only the citizens of Indiana, but also the state’s economy.

 

“Right to Work means Real Trouble and Worries for everyone in Indiana, because it potentially puts in jeopardy pensions, health care, and other benefits of union retirees and their legal dependents that have been established through collective bargaining,” said Elmer Blankenship, President of the Indiana Alliance.

 

The state Senate RTW bill has been passed in committee (6 to 4) and goes next to the full Senate for a vote. A state House panel sent the measure to the full House on an 8-5 vote. Last Friday, at a joint House and Senate Hearing, Mr. Blankenship and Denny Lanane, President of United Senior Action, testified against the proposed RTW Law, which is supported by several Republican legislators. They testified that passage of RTW would weaken unions, which would be bad for active workers and union retirees as well as many others whose wages and benefits follow negotiated benefits. RTW is also associated with a significant reduction in private-sector pension coverage. The Economic Policy Institute proves the point at http://bit.ly/xjYijP, showing that private pension coverage in Indiana is currently greater than in 21 of 22 RTW states.

 

Racial Divide Emerges Over Mississippi Voter ID Constitutional Amendment

According to a report cited by the Talking Points memo Website (http://bit.ly/wc3W1x), less than 25% of non-white Mississippi citizens voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment to require voter ID at the polls, compared to about 83% of white voters. An estimated 75% of the state’s minority population rejected “Initiative 27,” a constitutional amendment that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls, while only about 17% of white voters went against the proposal, according to a report by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR). Their analysis found that the precincts voting against the measure closely mirrored the precincts with majority non-white populations.

 

The initiative was passed in November with 62% of the vote, and the legislature is now working to enact a law with the details. The Justice Department (DOJ) has to sign off on the proposal, because Mississippi is covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states with a history of racial discrimination to have their voting laws “pre-cleared.” Attorneys in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division recently rejected a proposed voter ID measure in South Carolina, finding that the state’s statistics showed that minority voters comprised 30.4% of the state’s registered voters but 34.2% of those registered voters who lacked Department of Motor Vehicle-issued photo identification.

 

“Our analysis shows that Mississippi’s voter ID law is another example of a law with a racially discriminatory effect being implemented over minority voters’ strong objections,” LCCR Executive Director Barbara Arnwine said in a statement. “Seventy-five percent of minorities in the state said ‘no’ to having to comply with what amounts to a modern day poll tax in order to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

 

State Chapter Report: North Carolina

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Alliance chartered an Alliance chapter in the City of Asheville. “Welcome, Asheville!” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the national Alliance. “We want the newest Alliance group in the country to get the fanfare it deserves, given that North Carolina is such a key state this election year.”

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