Friday, September 21, 2012

3 Ways to Make Your Vote Count in a Money-Soaked Election

  Your favored candidates may be outspent, but if they out-organize, they may be able to prevail. 
 I Voted Sticker photo by Melissa Baldwin
Recently, a respected friend sent me an outraged email. His subject line: "BOYCOTT VOTING!" He was at wit's end over the vast sums of money that wealthy individuals and corporations are pouring into our elections: $400 million from the Koch Brothers; $100 million from Sheldon Adelson. If big money is going to buy the election, he said, then he will “withdraw his consent” by not voting.
I, too, am apoplectic at the money flooding our elections. It speaks of a level of corruption that undermines my hopes for solving the big problems of our time. That’s why I’m promoting the passage of a constitutional amendment to curtail unlimited election spending. 

But is boycotting the vote the right response? Here’s how I see it: the big money doesn’t buy votes. It mostly buys television ads to influence our votes or discourage us from voting at all. So why would I fall into the trap of doing what the big money wants? As I wrote to my friend, after the election, no one will notice your boycott. They will only notice who won. Think of your vote as an act of protest and vote for candidates who vow to change the system. Here's what you can do:

1. Vote the Whole Ballot

 Vote the whole ballot. When we reach the bottom of the ballot, many of us find a bunch of names and initiatives we don’t know 
  and skip them. Judicial positions are notorious for low vote tallies. So a few voters can determine who wins positions that can have
How Voter Suppression Could Swing the Election             a huge impact on our lives. I prepare by reading the
It won’t be easy to protect our votes from being                     
voter pamphlet with care, especially watching for partisan
sidelined and stolen this year, but here are a                             buzzwords. Then I check with friends for additional
 few simple things we can do.                                   information. I also sign up for emails from organizations that  
                                                               recommend candidates who match my values. 
                                                               So when I go to vote, I make my choices with confidence.

2. Contribute to Campaigns ...

Another conundrum in this money-soaked election season is whether to give money to candidates. Does our measly $25, $50, or even $500 mean anything when the 1 percent can so far outspend us? My husband is pretty cynical about political contributions. But do we want to force candidates to get their funds only from the wealthy? One candidate told me, “I need to raise at least one-fifth of what my deep-pocketed opponent raises. Otherwise, I’m just not a player.” I like this candidate. I think she has smarts and integrity. She wants to overturn Citizens United and other laws that make campaigns so expensive. So I (yes, together with my husband) made a contribution to her campaign, as well as to several other candidates we believe in.

3. ... But Not Just Money

Fortunately, money is not the only way to influence an election. Giving time can be even more valuable. One respectful conversation with a potential voter can reverse the effects of thousands of dollars of ads. Going door to door, phoning, helping people get registered and to the polls can all make a difference. Your favored candidates may be outspent, but if they out-organize, they may be able to prevail. Organizing, of course, means getting people like you and me to volunteer.
It’s easy to be discouraged about a political system that seems so out of reach. I take heart from history. In the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, income inequality was similar to today’s. There was widespread political corruption. Then people rose up and ushered in the Progressive Era. They voted in candidates who instituted the estate tax and progressive income taxes, changed election laws, and made many other reforms.

By the 1950s through the 1970s we had an expanding middle class and a fairer election system. We can make those changes again. But only if we get engaged and informed, and vote.

Fran Korten wrote this article for It's Your Body, the Fall 2012 issue of YES! Magazine. Fran is publisher of YES

Webinar: Homelessness Issues and Behavioral Health

United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - A Life in the Community for Everyone: Behavioral Health is Essential to Health, Prevention Works, Treatment is Effective, People Recover

Register Now: Two Webinars on Homelessness Issues
The following webinars will be of interest to behavioral health providers and administrators, primary health care providers and administrators, consumers and people in recovery, peer providers, providers of other health and human services (housing, employment, etc.), policymakers, and researchers.

Rethinking National Solutions: Addressing Homelessness on the Frontier and in Rural America
September 25, 2012 | 2–3:30 p.m. ET | Register Now
One of the most common concerns among providers who serve people who are experiencing homelessness in rural and frontier environments is that evidence-based practices and other solutions are not only urban-centric, they are not effective in sparsely populated areas. For many frontier and rural communities, gathering accurate data that can drive change seems an almost insurmountable challenge. A recent expert panel on homelessness in rural and frontier America highlighted strategies and solutions that are working well in rural and frontier areas of the country. Building off that expert panel, this webinar will provide insight into making national strategies work in these areas.
Registration is free, but space is limited. Registration will close at 1 p.m. ET on September 25.

Housing-Focused Outreach: An Emerging Model
September 26, 2012 | 3–4:30 p.m. ET | Register Now
Homeless outreach has typically focused on engagement and meeting people's immediate and short-term needs: food, clothing and blankets, transportation to shelter, and linkages to services. With the advent of Housing First and rapid rehousing approaches, homeless service agencies are shifting away from the idea of outreach as a mechanism for serving clients on the streets to outreach as a tool for moving clients off the streets directly into housing. This webinar will describe the evolution of outreach over the past three decades, highlight the principles and practices of housing-focused outreach, and provide examples of this approach from around the United States.
Registration is free, but space is limited. Registration will close at 2 p.m. ET on September 26.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Adam Kirkman at (518) 729-1265 or

Food Safety: Recall of Fresh-Cut Mango Products

 U.S. Food & Drug Administration


Recall -- Firm Press Release

FDA posts press releases and other notices of recalls and market withdrawals from the firms involved as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company.

Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc, Recalls Limited Quantity of Fresh-Cut Mango Products Due to Possible Health Risk – This Recall is Associated with FoodSource's recall of Mangoes Sourced from Agricola Daniella In Mexico


or email Del Monte Fresh at

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 20, 2012 - In cooperation with the FDA's warning to not consume mangoes from Agricola Daniella in Mexico, Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc, is initiating a voluntary recall of 1,600 bowls of fresh-cut mangoes distributed to retail outlets due to the potential risk that the mangoes may contain Salmonella. Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. This recall is associated with FoodSource's (Edinburg, TX) recall of mangoes sourced from Agricola Daniella in Mexico.

Product was distributed between September 8-12, 2012 by retailers in the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington. Product is packaged in clear plastic 32 oz bowls with a Del Monte® label on the top. The affected product will have printed Best By date 9/18/12 and lot code 05252101 below, and Best By date 9/22/12 and lot code 03256100 below. These dates and codes are clearly printed on the top label of each individual package. The UPC is 7-62357-07532-1.

There have been no reported illnesses attributed to the items listed in this recall. Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc has notified the retailers who have received the recalled product and directed them to remove it from their store shelves. Consumers who purchased affected products with the listed Best By dates and lot codes should not consume them and should destroy or discard them. Consumers with questions may contact the company’s consumer hotline at 1-800-659-6500 or email Del Monte Fresh at