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Election Updates --Good News and Not | The Nation

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Katha Pollitt

Katha Pollitt

Politics, feminism, culture, books and daily life.

Election Updates --Good News and Not

For the Election Day causes I've written about here and in my column,there's good news and, well, not so good news.

First the hurrahs. By a whopping 69%, Milwaukee voters passed a binding referendum requiring private employers to give workers nine paid sick days a year (employers of fewer than ten workers must give five days). Workers can use their days for themselves or for or a sick child or other relative. They can also use them to attend to medical and legal issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Congratulations to 9to5, which spearheaded a dynamic coalition of union and community groups, and waged a terrific grassroots campaign . Milwaukee now joins San Francisco and Washington DC in taking this bold step to create a healthier and more humane workplace for its citizens, and offer an important helping hand to women and to working parents.

More to cheer: In South Dakota, as you know, the proposed abortion ban, which would have criminalized all abortion minus a few narrowly tailored and unworkable "exceptions," was resoundingly defeated, as were anti-choice ballot measures in Colorado and California. South Dakota is a very conservative state, home base of the very energetic Leslee Unruh, founder of the Abstinence Clearinghouse and leading motivator of anti-choice activism. It speaks volumes that even there the majority of voters decided to stick with Roe v Wade. Voting on a law is not the same as telling a pollster how you feel. South Dakota voters had an opportunity to think through the arguments on both sides, and to their credit, they did. The ban was defeated by just over ten points -- a wider margin than that by which the even more extreme 2006 ban went down.

Not so happy news from South Dakota: none of the four native American women running for the State legislature, to whom many Nation readers donated generously through Womenrun! South Dakota, won their races. Theresa Two Bulls, two-time Senator, lost her Senate race when Jim Bradford, whom she had beaten in the Democratic primary, switched his party affiliation and ran as a Republican. But -- silver lining! Two Bulls defeated Russell Means for the presidency of the Oglala Nation in what Womenrun! director Laura Ross describes as "a hot race down in Pine Ridge."

What next for womenrun? Laura Ross writes:

Well, we learn more each cycle we participate.  As I mentioned earlier, I hope the state party will start being productive again and I'm guessing from what I've heard on the ground that there will be a needed change of leadership there.  Dem candidates have messages but the party hasn't seemed to have one in a while and that's no way to run against organized, message-heavy Republicans, no matter how wrong they are for the state. I've heard from a number of women who, after watching others step up the past two cycles are feeling much more confident about getting involved and running themselves, whether for those ever important environmental and energy spots in the county commissions - right now those are vastly held by men, county treasurer seats by women - or in the legislature.  So, we need to get more training done and encourage more women to come to Pierre during the legislative sessions.  Indigenous Women's Political Caucus will be there, I'm pretty sure, as will, I hope, the newly organized SD chapter of Natl. Women's Political Caucus.  There are task forces that meet outside leg sessions that are always poorly attended both because people don't know they're happening and because they don't have resources to sometimes drive a couple hundred miles to get to them and pay for a hotel stay.  There are panels appointed by the Governor who meet many times, as with hearings on new uranium mining, but people can't get there because of costs.  Those who can show up will make the difference but they have to ableto show up, too. 

you can donate to build this grassroots movement and keep connected here.

Another way to be connected is to join the Friends of the Pine Ridge Reservation . This web-based group participates in drives to help social service organizations, clinics and schools on the reservation, one of the poorest places in the United States. You can help preserve the lLakota language, fund tuition for a nursing student at Oglala Lakota College, support the many activities and outreach programs of the Cangleska women's shelter, make sure children (and grownups) have books of their own by sending books to the build-your-own-library project, and much, much more.

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