I remember Cathy Woolard for her tenacious courting of former U.S. Senator SamÂ Nunn during the military gay ban repeal fight in 1993. I nicknamed her â€œold iron assâ€ because sheÂ spent hours sitting in his office, waiting for the opportunity to speak to him. She walked the halls of the SenateÂ 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 Pamâ€™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 nationâ€™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 â€œMillennialsâ€ 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 strongÂ endorsement of Woolardâ€™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) inÂ whichÂ she was instrumental in securing Coretta Scott Kingâ€™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.Â 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:Â 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,Â D.C. and understands “Inside the Beltway” politics, which will appeal to and reassure Washington insiders; Â 3) As a former elected official in the City of Atlanta, she understands the necessity for transparency and open governanceâ€”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 ofÂ America’s top African-AmericanÂ politicians. AndÂ because of this experience and exposure to people of color,Â Â there is no doubt Woolard would address the diversity issues at HRC, which remains aÂ tarnished Â legacy of its predominantly white leadership team and Board of Directors.
With Woolard at the helm, there is no doubt HRCâ€™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 HRCâ€™s Georgia field organizer and was promoted to a lobbyist position in 1992, moved to HRCâ€™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 CherylÂ 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 councilâ€™s transportation committee and became an enthusiastic policy wonk on how to effectively transform Atlantaâ€™s mass urban car and light rail systems hub during her tenure.
Woolard is married to Karen Geney, her partner of more than 23 years and they live in Atlantaâ€™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 Stateâ€™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, sheÂ 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’sÂ Board of DirectorsÂ is whatÂ directionÂ will itÂ 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 â€œMillennialsâ€ 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 LGBTQsÂ will not be satisfied to wait for equalityÂ carried outÂ byÂ aÂ leadership style of “take it or leave it” and “our way or the highway,” which has been the case with HRCÂ more oftenÂ than not.
Woolard knows this, but does the HRC Board of Directors?Â 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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‘I’m Broke’: One Day Before Shutdown and With No Plan McCarthy Says He Has ‘Nothing’ in His ‘Back Pocket’
Just 30 hours before his own Republican conference likely will have succeeded in shutting down the federal government of the United States, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy candidly admitted to reporters he’s run out of ideas.
Earlier Friday in an “embarrassing failure,” 21 House Republicans killed legislation from their own party, a short-term continuing resolution, that would have kept the federal government open.
Later on Friday afternoon, swarmed by reporters, McCarthy was asked if he was going to tell them what his plans are. He sarcastically replied, “No, I’m going to keep it all a secret.”
When pressed, he said he would “keep working, and make sure we solve this problem.”
“What’s in your back pocket, Speaker?” another reporter asked, pressing him for an answer.
“Nothing right now. I’m broke,” he admitted, apparently referring to options and ideas to avoid a shutdown.
But another reporter asked Speaker McCarthy the main question: Would he partner with House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to put the Senate’s bill before the House.
He refused to answer.
After Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) failed House vote to keep the federal government open…
Reporter: “What’s in your back pocket, Speaker?”
McCarthy: “Nothing right now. I’m broke.” pic.twitter.com/pB2SWhOSVr
— The Recount (@therecount) September 29, 2023
Just before 5 PM CNN’s Manu Raju reported on the ongoing House Republicans’ closed-door meeting with the Speaker, a meeting where the 21 Republicans who will likely be effectively responsible for the shutdown reportedly did not attend.
“McCarthy is telling [Republicans] now there aren’t many options to avoid a shutdown, according to sources in room. He says they can approve GOP’s stop-gap plan that failed, accept Senate plan, put a ‘clean’ stop-gap on floor to dare Democrats to block it — or shut down the government.”
He adds, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) largely responsible for the impending likely shutdown and the impending possible ouster of McCarthy said: “We will not pass a continuing resolution on terms that continue America’s decline.”
At midnight Saturday Republicans will likely have succeeded in furloughing 3.5 million million federal workers – two million of them service members in the U.S. Armed Forces – and countless contractors, while financially harming untold thousands of businesses that rely on income from all those workers to keep running – unless Speaker McCarthy puts a bipartisan continuing resolution approved by at least 75 U.S. Senators on the floor, legislation every House Democrat is likely to vote for.
Should he do so, many believe he will have also signed his own pink slip.
But whether or not the government shuts down, and whether or not McCarthy puts the Senate’s CR on the floor, according to The Washington Post the far right extremists in his party are already moving to oust him “as early as next week.”
The Biden campaign is making certain Americans realize the blame for the impending shutdown sits at McCarthy’s feet.
Here is Kevin McCarthy a few months ago praising the deal he made with President Biden to avert a government shutdown, which he is now reneging on pic.twitter.com/B4rVNzNXkZ
— Biden-Harris HQ (@BidenHQ) September 29, 2023
At 6:23 PM Friday evening, Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman wrote on social media: “HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE NO PLAN TO KEEP GOVERNMENT OPEN.”
Watch the videos above or at this link.
‘Bad News’ for Sidney Powell as First Trump Co-Defendant in Georgia RICO Case Takes Plea Deal: Legal Expert
“Under the terms of an agreement with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s office, Hall pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft, conspiracy to commit computer trespass, conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy, and conspiracy to defraud the state,” NBC News reports. “Under the terms of the deal, he’s being sentenced to five years probation.”
CNN previously reported “Hall, a bail bondsman and pro-Trump poll-watcher in Atlanta, spent hours inside a restricted area of the Coffee County elections office when voting systems were breached in January 2021. The breach was connected to efforts by pro-Trump conspiracy theorists to find voter fraud. Hall was captured on surveillance video at the office, on the day of the breach. He testified before the grand jury in Fulton County case and acknowledged that he gained access to a voting machine.”
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, a professor of law and frequent MSNBC contributor, says Hall “was in the thick of things with Sidney Powell on Jan 7 for the Coffee County scheme involving voting machines. If he’s cooperating, it’s a bad sign for her.”
Hall’s plea deal “spells bad news for, among others, Sidney Powell,” says former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel Ryan Goodman, an NYU Law professor of law. Goodman posted a graphic showing the overlap in charges against Hall and Powell, which he called “alleged joint actions.”
With breakthrough for Georgia DA (@TamarHallerman reporting: “SCOTT HALL has become the first co-defendant in the Fulton election interference case to take a plea deal with prosecutors.”)
That spells bad news for, among others, Sidney Powell.
Example of alleged joint actions.👇 pic.twitter.com/odMM5C7JtX
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) September 29, 2023
See the graphic above or at this link.
Far-Right Republicans Kill GOP Bill to Keep Government Running in ‘Embarrassing Failure’ for McCarthy: Report
With a shutdown less than 36 hours away, far-right Republicans in the House of Representatives Friday afternoon voted against their party’s own legislation to kept the federal government running. Democrats opposed the content of the bill and voted against it. Just 21 far-right members of the GOP conference were able to effectively force what appears to be an all but inevitable shutdown at midnight on Saturday.
“HARDLINE HOUSE RS take down stopgap funding bill. 21 GOP no votes. 232-198,” reported Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman just before 2 PM Friday.
NBC News reported that a “band of conservative rebels on Friday revolted and blocked House Republicans’ short-term funding bill to keep the government open, delivering a political blow to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and likely cementing the chances of a painful government shutdown that is less than 48 hours away.”
“Twenty-one rebels, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a conservative bomb-thrower and a top Donald Trump ally, voted Friday afternoon to scuttle the 30-day funding bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR, leaving Republicans without a game plan to avert a shutdown. The vote failed,” NBC added. “The embarrassing failure of the GOP measure once again highlights the dilemma for McCarthy as his hard-liners strongly oppose a short-term bill even if it includes conservative priorities. It leaves Congress on a path to a shutdown, with no apparent offramp to avoiding it — or to quickly reopen the government.”
A bipartisan group of at least 75 U.S. Senators has passed two bills this week that would keep the government running. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has refused to allow it to come to the floor for a vote.
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