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HRC Already Has The Perfect Candidate, So Why Aren’t They Considering Her?

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I remember Cathy Woolard for her tenacious courting of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn during the military gay ban repeal fight in 1993. I nicknamed her “old iron ass” because she spent hours sitting in his office, waiting for the opportunity to speak to him. She walked the halls of the Senate with Nunn, always in pursuit, tenaciously relentless in never letting him forget that gays served in the military and deserved equality.

Last week, Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend broke the story that Joe Solomonese was stepping down as President and CEO of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) after seven years leading the nation’s largest and wealthiest LGBT organization.

A widely mentioned possible candidate to replace Solmonese was Cathy Woolard (initially reported in Metro Weekly Chris Geidner). But HRC quickly confirmed she was not under active consideration for the post.

 


 

The outstanding question for the HRC’s Board of Directors is what direction will it seek during the second decade of the millennia? Do they have the courage to change course, to break free from their past that is steeped in maddening secrecy? Can they become more forthcoming and transparent with a community that hungers for equality? The “Millennials” will not be satisfied with perfunctory answers and enticements such as wine and cheese parties supported by the best marketing of an American non-profit.

 


 

My sources have confirmed Woolard is a current consultant to HRC and is presently not under active consideration for the leadership post. There is nothing suspicious or nefarious about Woolard consulting for HRC. She has not only been an HRC employee in the past, but has also been a consultant to them on numerous occasions over the years.

If it is true that Woolard is not under active consideration, then she should be and her name should go to the top of the list. I offer a strong endorsement of Woolard’s candidacy as a former colleague, a fellow public interest lobbyist, who worked shoulder-to-shoulder with her, pounding miles of Congressional pavement during our efforts to repeal the military gay ban in 1993. We later worked together on the original introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in which she was instrumental in securing Coretta Scott King’s endorsement of the measure.

She is deadly smart, does not suffer fools gladly, she knows how to communicate with people, she is affable, fun, and like so many Americans, has lived most of her life in a state that has not supported LGBT rights. Cathy Woolard deeply understands the emotional scourge and sting of discrimination having experienced it herself.

A Woolard candidacy has a number of really good things going for it that should be strongly considered by the HRC Board of Directors:  1) She is a Southerner and is deeply familiar with the political landscape of the South and the difficult terrain of negotiating for LGBT rights, having worked with friend and foe alike on these issues; 2) She has worked for HRC in Washington, D.C. and understands “Inside the Beltway” politics, which will appeal to and reassure Washington insiders;  3) As a former elected official in the City of Atlanta, she understands the necessity for transparency and open governance—the Achilles heel of HRC, who has resisted transparency and the light of day, clinging to institutional secrecy and exclusivity.

Indeed, HRC actions during the latest round of gay politics in the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) repeal effort elevated criticisms of the organization to a pinnacle level of disapproval by voices from all parts of the community. Woolard knows that winning is important, but how you win and bringing as many supporters with you, is vital too.

Another plus that is of inestimable value, as a person from the South, Woolard has a strong network of African-American colleagues and friends, having worked with people of color throughout her career. As an elected official in Atlanta, she has worked with some of America’s top African-American politicians. And because of this experience and exposure to people of color,  there is no doubt Woolard would address the diversity issues at HRC, which remains a tarnished  legacy of its predominantly white leadership team and Board of Directors.

With Woolard at the helm, there is no doubt HRC’s leadership style, along with its political and communications strategies would change. She could be the right medicine at the right time.

So, just who is Cathy Woolard?

Cathy Woolard is a Southerner, Atlanta-born, lesbian activist who became the first openly-gay elected official in the state of Georgia in 1997. Not satisfied with domestic politics and activism, Woolard is also an international humanitarian who got hooked on international development early in her life as a Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Micronesia for two years in 1980, after graduating from University of Georgia.

Bitten by the international bug as a Peace Corp Volunteer, Woolard has been an intrepid traveler all of her life, traveling to far-flung jaunts in India and New Zealand during recent years, to name just a few.

Cathy grew up in an Air Force family and became a gay activist initially as a member of the Atlanta committee for the 1987 March on Washington. Following the March, she was HRC’s Georgia field organizer and was promoted to a lobbyist position in 1992, moved to HRC’s Washington offices where she remained for seven years, advancing to the position of National Field Director in 1994.

During her organizer time in Atlanta, Woolard came of age as an activist, along with many others in the Georgia gay community who were galvanized by the 1991 firing of lesbian Cheryl Summerville, a cook in a Douglas, Georgia Cracker Barrel restaurant. In protest, Woolard was arrested along with other activists. A nation-wide boycott of the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain ensued and Summerville later testified before Congress in 1994 during the first set of Senate ENDA hearings presided over by the late Senator Edward Kennedy.

Woolard returned to Atlanta in 1996 to run for elected office and became the first openly-gay elected official in the State of Georgia in November 1997, when she was elected to the city council. She ran for re-election and became the first woman Speaker of the Atlanta City Council in 2002, one of the first openly-gay city council presidents of a major metropolitan city in the United States. Woolard chaired the council’s transportation committee and became an enthusiastic policy wonk on how to effectively transform Atlanta’s mass urban car and light rail systems hub during her tenure.

 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUaw1G46XgY&version=3&hl=en_US]

Woolard is married to Karen Geney, her partner of more than 23 years and they live in Atlanta’s Glenwood Park neighborhood. During her City Council tenure Woolard became a plaintiff in a legal action filed by the Atlanta City government in 1999 against John Oxendine, the now former State’s Insurance Commissioner, for refusing to permit domestic partner benefits to employers who wished to offer them.

Following her failed Congressional primary challenge to former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in 2004, Woolard returned to consulting for progressive groups, including Planned Parenthood of Georgia, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, and the Gill Foundation, as well as the HRC. While considered an up and coming politician in the Atlanta scene, she decided not to run for Mayor in 2008 and opted for a position with CARE, an Atlanta based non-profit that is a leader in international development as its Executive Vice-President for Global Advocacy and External Relations in 2008, returning to her first love of international development. Late last year, Woolard returned to her consultancy business after her sister died of cancer.

The outstanding question for the HRC’s Board of Directors is what direction will it seek during the second decade of the millennia? Do they have the courage to change course, to break free from their past that is steeped in maddening secrecy? Can they become more forthcoming and transparent with a community that hungers for equality? The “Millennials” will not be satisfied with perfunctory answers and enticements such as wine and cheese parties supported by the best marketing of an American non-profit.

The times have changed: LGBT blogs are ubiquitous, the news cycle never stops, the community is more diverse, younger and more progressive. We live in an age of instant globalization. Young LGBTQs will not be satisfied to wait for equality carried out by a leadership style of “take it or leave it” and “our way or the highway,” which has been the case with HRC more often than not.

Woolard knows this, but does the HRC Board of Directors?  Stay tuned.

 

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

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News

82-Year-Old Black Woman Arrested and Handcuffed by Alabama Police Over $77 Unpaid Trash Bill

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Martha Menefield, an 82-year-old Black woman in Valley, Alabama, had police officers show up to her home on Sunday and arrest her for failing to pay a $77 trash bill, CBS42 reports.

Menefield told CBS42 that she thought the bill had already been paid, “but they said it hadn’t.”

“And the cuffs,” she said, her eyes swelling with tears. “They’re so heavy.”

When the officer told her not to cry, Menefield asked him, “How would you feel if they came and arrested your grandmama?”

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“I’m just happy my grandkids weren’t here to see that,” Menefield said, her voice shaking. “That would have upset them. I was so ashamed. And it’s been bothering me.”

In a post on the city’s social media account, Valley’s police chief defended the arrest.

“City of Valley Code Enforcement Officers issued Ms. Menefield a citation in August of 2022 for non-payment for trash services for the months of June, July, and August,” Chief Mike Reynolds’ statement said. “Prior to issuing the citation, Code Enforcement tried to call Ms. Menefield several times and attempted to contact her in person at her residence. When contact could not be made, a door hanger was left at her residence. The hanger contained information on the reason for the visit and a name and contact phone number for her to call. The citation advised Ms. Menefield that she was to appear in court on September 7, 2022, in reference to this case. A warrant for Failure to Pay-Trash was issued when she did not appear in court.”

Since the arrest, Menefield has been thinking about the role of God in her life.

“I’ve been questioning God a little bit,” she said. “I guess cause I’ve been so upset. I had a daycare here for eight years, and I’ve been asking the Lord. I say ‘Why did this happen to me as much as I’ve done for people, Lord? I’ve paid my tithes every Sunday. I ushered at church. I was just questioning. Something’s just not right.”

Read the full report over at CBS42.

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BREAKING NEWS

‘Another Happy Jobs Day’: Economists Thrilled With ‘Amazing’ Report as Jobs Growth Beats Expectations, Wages Increase

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The Biden economy added a whopping 263,000 jobs last month, crushing expectations of 200,000, and wages are growing as well, leading one economist to declare “another happy jobs day.”

The U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) adds that unemployment remains at a near-historic low of 3.7% in November, “and has been in a narrow range of 3.5 percent to 3.7 percent since March.”

University of Michigan School of Economics Professor Justin Wolfers exclaimed, “It’s yet ANOTHER happy jobs day. Payrolls rose +263k, well above expectations.”

“This expansion just keeps on rolling on,” added Wolfers, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution.

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Wolfers also takes on those who have been falsely pushing “recession” talking points.

“BTW, remember all that recession talk? It was nonsense. Bollocks. Cow dung,” he tweets. “There never was a recession. And the economy sure doesn’t look like it’s in one now. Job growth at this rate is the economy singing: ‘This is a robust expansion.'”

And he also slams the doom and gloom forecasters.

Economist David Rothschild sums up where the Biden economy is compared to the rest of the world.

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“Economy is far from perfect,” he writes, “but conditional on the worldwide pandemic and supply chain issues generated from pandemic: US economy has done *amazing* over last 2 years.”

In news alerts The New York Times reported hiring “continued to exceed expectations,” The Wall Street Journal called it “a sign of continued strength in the labor market,” and even Fox News reported it as “stronger-than-expected.” CNN referred to the jobs report as “robust” and “defying expectations.”

“America’s jobs engine kept churning in November, the Labor Department reported Friday, a show of continued demand for workers despite the Federal Reserve’s push to curb inflation by tamping down hiring, The Times reported. “The labor market has been surprisingly resilient in the face of successive interest rate increases by the Fed over the past year. Even sectors normally sensitive to borrowing costs, like construction and manufacturing, have been slow to back off the brisk pace of growth they posted coming out of the pandemic.”

The BLS also broke down unemployment numbers by demographics.

“Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.4 percent), adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (11.3 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (5.7 percent), Asians (2.7 percent), and Hispanics (3.9 percent) showed little or no change over the month.”

 

Image: Matt Smith Photographer / Shutterstock

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BREAKING NEWS

‘The Law Is Clear’: Appeals Court Rules Trump Handpicked Judge Should Never Have Appointed Special Master

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A three-judge panel on the conservative 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against Donald Trump, and effectively against his hand-picked federal district court judge Aileen Cannon in the ex-president’s “special master” case.

The judges, all three conservatives, two of whom appointed to the bench by Trump himself, ruled that Judge Cannon should never have agreed to Trump’s request to appoint a “special master” to review all the items the Dept. of Justice removed from his Mar-a-Lago residence by executing a legal search warrant.

Cannon had ordered the special master to specifically review approximately 100 classified documents, and blocked the DOJ from accessing them while they were under review. That block halted its investigation into Trump’s likely illegal retention of the documents and other items – over 10,000 – he removed from the White House and was string at Mar-a-Lago.

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CNN calls Thursday’s ruling “a major defeat for former President Donald Trump.” The appeals court’s ruling halts  “a third-party review of documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate,” and “removes a major obstacle to the Justice Department’s investigation into the mishandling of government records from Trump’s time in the White House.”

“The law is clear,” the judges wrote in their ruling Thursday, posted by NBC News’ Daniel Barnes. “We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so. Either approach would be a radical reordering of our caselaw limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations.”

“And both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations,” they continued. “Accordingly, we agree with the government that the district court improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction, and that dismissal of the entire proceeding is required.”

READ MORE: ‘Roughing Him Up’: Judges Scorch Trump’s Attorney in Tense Hearing Over His ‘Secret’ Argument

They also wrote: “In considering these arguments, we are faced with a choice: apply our usual test; drastically expand the availability of equitable jurisdiction for every subject of a search warrant; or carve out an unprecedented exception in our law for former presidents. We choose the first option. So the case must be dismissed.”

“The district court,” meaning Judge Cannon, “improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction in this case. For that reason, we VACATE the September 5 order on appeal and REMAND with instructions for the district court to DISMISS the underlying civil action.”

 

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