On Friday, I learned that a colleague at work, Jackie, might get tickets to the Barbra Streisand Concert at Madison Square Garden for Monday evening! It was 1994. Bucket lists were not yet in vogue, but if they were, this concert would be at the top of mine. I became a devoted fan at 18, when Barbra starred in Funny Girl. I watched every Streisand movie, and her specials on TV. On Saturday, as I took my daughter to get a haircut, my then-husband received Jackie's call and said I was busy on Monday and could not go to a concert in New York City. You can imagine the discussion that took place when I arrived home.
It was true. I was busy on Monday, but a person can do more than one thing a day. My daughter, Meg, and I planned to walk to Crane Beach on Monday. Crane is a four-mile sandy beach, with acres of hiking dunes and pine forests. She was in middle school, and we had been looking forward to this five-mile trek to the annual Crane Beach picnic for a while. I also had to be at work on Tuesday morning.
I didn’t have Jackie’s phone number and started to panic. I contacted coworkers anxiously until I located it. She wasn't surprised to hear from me and was holding my ticket. Jackie was driving the concert-goers to New York on Monday, leaving work at noon. They had a reservation at a Times Square hotel. I said I'd meet them there.
My heart began to pound faster when I called the Boston / NYC shuttle to secure a seat on Monday’s 4:30 p.m. flight, plenty of time for the concert.
Sitting on the beach Monday morning overlooking Ipswich Bay, surrounded by children and parents, I could only think of the evening show. How would I get through the next four hours of dinner menu chatter and children screaming with glee. Meg was twelve years old and settled in with her best friend's mother while I took a school bus ride home. After checking in on my younger daughter at our family daycare, I carefully folded my black, velvet, full-length one shoulder dress in my overnight bag. It was a perfect outfit for the evening. I bought it the previous year for Bill Clinton's inaugural ball. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I approached the airport. To my delight, an old friend I had connected with during the inauguration was on the plane.
New York City was a flurry of lights and sounds. The evening began when six women from the Massachusetts State Comptroller's Office arrived at Madison Square Garden. There was no time for a sit-down dinner; we ate burgers in a Roy Rogers across the street. Not your typical clientele in our gowns and bling.
We had relatively good seats for the last minute purchase, but I still rented binoculars. The crowd filled the garden with a loud hum. Barbra stepped on stage in a stunning cream-colored princess gown. In her first set, she sang my favorites "Don't Rain on My Parade" and "People." During a soulful version of "He Touched Me," one of the musicians played in the wrong key. Barbra was mortified and stopped singing. She actually told us to "talk among yourselves while I'm attending to this." The audience laughed and we chatted with the people behind us from Chicago.
Barbra introduced her final song of the evening with: “My idea of a perfect world is where we all appreciate each other’s differences: short/tall, Democrat/Republican, Black/White, gay/straight. A world in which we are all equal, but definitely not the same.” (It was 1994.) Then she sang “Somewhere.”
After the spectacular concert, I bought an 18" x 22" photo of Barbra leaning against a post in a tailored jacket and trousers with that shy smile. Her black sandals reminded me of my grandmother. It's still hanging in my office. I told my work friends I was going to meet Barbra in her dressing room. They chuckled, "Yeah, sure," and left. As I made my way backstage, Barbra said, "You must be Elizabeth. Would you like something to drink?" And the evening began again.
We talked about how she began to sing publicly, and about her shyness on stage. Her manager poked his head into her dressing room and said, “That last song was broadcast live on the Times Square Big Screen!” We both cheered. I told Barbra I'd been singing Karaoke and in church choirs for years.
When we arrived at her suite, the party was in full gear. Barbra made her way around the room and introduced me to Celine Dion, Michael Douglas, Hillary Clinton and others. I kept pinching myself. An hour later, she pulled me outside and we went to a Karaoke club. We sang and sang. If you're Barbra Streisand, you don't have to wait until your turn. When we sang "Second Hand Rose," skating across the stage seemed natural. Barbra's parting song was "Bye Bye Birdie," and her limo dropped me at the hotel.
When the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m., I wondered if it had happened.
Do you have an adventure you want to share? Leave a comment so I'll know you're out there.
Nob Hill Theft
Denis returned from getting the luggage from the car, like a man who had seen a ghost. “What happened?” I asked. “Someone broke the window in the car. Glass is everywhere.” My husband Denis and I had flown to San Francisco. My brother Sean was scheduled to undergo surgery in the middle of the pandemic. I don’t remember taking a breath on the plane.
We picked Sean up in Berkeley. Friends were caring for him there. He was severely depressed and fragile. We parked the car on Pine Street in front of Sean’s apartment building on Nob Hill, and let him settle in. The apartment was disheveled after months of illness.
“Your purse is gone.” I stared at him. My purse is gone. Okay. Everything in the purse can be replaced: iPhone, pepper spray, passport. The purse itself, bought from the Marimekko store in downtown Copenhagen, not so simple. My appointment book and writing notebook, impossible. Fortunately, my wallet was in my back pocket, it’s usual place. I will have an ID to leave on the jet plane to go home. No one was hurt.
Denis cringed, “Your carry-on bag with the china is also gone.”
My carry-on bag. “The family china is gone?” I doubled over and tried to scream, but nothing came out. I entered another room, trying not to upset my brother. How could this happen? We’re in a good neighborhood, people on the sidewalks, the car was locked and only for an hour. It would be parked in a commercial garage during our stay. How will I tell my daughter?
After consulting with numerous moving companies, even at $3,000, none would guarantee the safety of the china from Massachusetts to the west coast. I was delivering the china to my daughter one small suitcase at a time. I took a long walk up and down the streets on Nob Hill, imagining how upset my daughter would be, or maybe how distressed I was. Then I began to think how surprised the thief would be when he opened the suitcase. What would a street thief do with a suitcase full of John Maddock-Royal Vitreous china from England? Serve himself afternoon tea or perhaps give his mother china for Christmas? A smile appeared, and I knew it would be okay to return to the apartment.
No one was hurt.
Do you have a theft story that turned out ok? Leave me a comment so I know you're out there. Thanks, Elizabeth
Two by Two
The evening sun highlighted the crowd on the lawn between the Custom House Maritime Museum and the Merrimac River as she sprinted toward our standing ovation. Senator Elizabeth Warren visited Newburyport, Massachusetts in August 2021 to update constituents on legislative actions in Washington.
After a quick briefing on the impacts of the stimulus law and infrastructure bills, the senator moved into questions. A lottery was used to select attendees with questions. If you had an issue, you received a numbered ticket, like at a carnival. Mine was 842150.
Most questions for Senator Warren were on infrastructure bills, climate change, and the Senate filibuster, which required sixty votes to pass legislation. The woman before me requested hope on the voting rights issue. My question was about ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and the voting rights discussion would be an awesome lead in. The next number pulled was 842150. Mine!
I said I would like to expand on the equality conversation. She nodded. I was careful to be objective, since Senator Warren had not yet sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 1, the bill to remove the deadline to ratify the ERA. We have enough states that ratified (3/4) but the deadline passed in 1982. Congress can easily rectify this delay by removing the deadline. The House voted to remove the deadline in 2020 after Virginia ratified the ERA, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the Senate from voting on the bill.
Five senators have sponsored the bill: two democrats, one independent, and two republicans. What strategy would you recommend for encouraging the other Democrats to sponsor the ERA? Warren responded, “You’re probably wondering why your senator hasn’t sponsored the bill.” I nodded.
“If a bill is controversial, there’s a practice not to load it up with democratic sponsors, because partisan news outlets will brandish it as a democratic bill.” Then a smile appeared as if she were going to share a secret. “It’s called two by two, or Noah’s Ark.” Puzzled faces were everywhere. “Each democrat works with a republican who will also sponsor the bill, and they do so together.”
This explains the two democrats and two republicans who have already sponsored the bill. It also tells us when sixty votes are attained, the number necessary to prevent a filibuster!
This answer was so unexpected by me and others I talked with. It’s a whole new way to approaching the ERA. My question now is, “What republican are you working with, Senator Warren?” Of course, I was seated when it came to me. I will call her office and ask.
In 1972, Alice Paul, author of the Equal Rights Amendment, said, “I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.”
I wonder what Alice, who died in 1977, would say about equality in 2021.
If you have a friend or relative in a red state, please ask them to contact their senator about sponsoring the Equal Rights Amendment.
Thanks for reading. Please share your thoughts by clicking Comments below.
Today I'm sharing the story of Anna's and my trip to Greece. It's about our wondrous adventures in Athens and Mykonos and an abundance of courage along the way. Enjoy!
Wilderness House Literary Review 16/2
“I’m Not Going”
Anna and I landed at Athens International Airport in August 2015 for her college graduation trip to Greece. Like all mothers and daughters, there had been ups and downs in our relation-ship, but we wanted this trip together. We were celebrating Anna’s accomplishment. After collecting our bags, we made our way through a glassed- in airport walkway with huge geometric designs. People rolled carry-ons quickly in every direction, speaking international languages. Then Anna started criticizing me about something I had or hadn’t done. I stopped walking. I was not going to spend two weeks in Greece with this attitude! I turned to Anna and shouted, “Just treat me like a fucking stranger and we’ll be fine.” And kept walking.
Keep reading at www.whlreview.com/no-16.2/essay/ElizabethKilcoyne.pdf
Have you traveled in Greece or had other "Anna" experiences? Let us hear from you. Click "Comments" below. Thanks.
More Penalties for Working Women
More than 5.4 million women lost jobs during the pandemic compared to 4.4 million men. The pandemic was hardest on women working in low-paying, in-person jobs in the service industries, particularly child care, hospitality, customer service, waitressing, retail sales, housekeeping, and personal care providers. Women of color make up a high percentage of these professions. However, school schedules and a shortage of child care options keep many women from returning to work.
Nationwide, school openings are unpredictable. Some are opening at partial capacity, others are opening for limited hours and on specific days, and some schools remain closed. My 8 yr. old grandson attends school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 8:20 am to 11:50 am. The balance of his day is a virtual school with his mother, who is fortunate to be working virtually, managing his time, and answering his questions. What happens to the mom who must be "present at work" on the 7 am to 3 pm shift? If her children are not safely cared for, work is not an option for her.
The child care industry collapsed during the pandemic, and it's projected that 40% of child care programs will permanently close as a direct result of the pandemic. So, where is the recognition that a viable economy needs available child care at a reasonable price? Jessica Calarco, Associate Professor of Sociology at Indiana University, put it this way, “Other countries have social safety nets. The US has women.”
When the schools open fully, children under six need child care, and school-age children need after-school care. The average cost of full-time daycare in the US is $10,000 a year. At minimum wage, this is 33% of one person’s income. Paying one-third of your income for child care on a minimum wage job is unaffordable even if you can find a child care slot.
One more penalty for women and families is eliminating the federal portion of their unemployment benefits of $300/week. This reduction in benefits will impact twenty million people in mid-June. The most frequent justification for this change is that laid-off workers receive more money in benefits than they received when they were employed. Hmm, the average unemployment benefit (including the federal portion) is $650/week or $33,800/year. Whose benefits are too high? Women struggling financially after a full year of a life-threatening pandemic? Women and families without stable school schedules or daycare? These states are eliminating almost half of the weekly unemployment benefit: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Unemployed workers, half of whom are working women, in these states will lose $11 billion in federal benefits.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women held 50.04% of American jobs in December 2019 (excluding farm workers and self-employed). Thus, the time is now for child care benefits to be part of the economy's infrastructure, joining health insurance, sick, and vacation benefits.
The Biden Administration has taken the first step by recognizing the current child care failure resulting from the pandemic and proposed the American Rescue Plan that passed Congress in March 2021. There’s $40 billion in the legislation for the “acute, immediate child care crisis.” The economic recovery needs an investment in child care and a consensus that child care is part of the infrastructure of a thriving economy. More investment in child care for women and families allows women to return to work. Let’s refocus the discussion from suggesting that “people are lazy and don’t want to work” to “how can we provide needed child care support to get women back to work.”
The $300 weekly supplement from federal funding is scheduled to expire in September 2021. So let's call this reduction in unemployment benefits in mid-June what it is, just another Republican maneuver to obstruct the Biden administration no matter what the costs are at the expense of the American women who can least afford it.
Thanks for reading. If you feel strongly about this penalty, let me hear from you.
Women Take Action!
Good Evening Readers,
On February 1, 2021, Mayor Marty Walsh appointed Dennis White as Commissioner of the Boston Police Department. Two days later, he placed White on leave from the department because the Boston Globe reports domestic violence allegations against him. The police department knew about these allegations but said nothing as White was sworn in as Police Commissioner.
One would expect the minimum qualifications of a police commissioner to include a clean background report, integrity of character, compassion, and the ability to control anger.
On May 14, 2021, Tamsin Kaplan, an employment lawyer with a Boston Law Firm, submitted her final report of Dennis White's background issues. She confirmed the allegations about White's domestic violence and reported on the climate of silence and protection by his fellow officers in the Boston Police Department.
Kaplan said she confirmed that Dennis White’s wife had “repeatedly reported both physical and mental abuse to the DVU [domestic violence unit] during that time period, but that no IAD [Internal Affairs Division] investigations resulted until she obtained a restraining order in May 1999.” She identified 21 witnesses to interview for the investigation, but only seven were willing to speak with her. Kaplan said one witness told her that he received five phone calls warning him not to talk to her.
Kim Janey, now the Acting Mayor of Boston, said that Kaplan’s report reveals domestic abuse in 1998-99 that the police department did not investigate seriously and a continuing "misguided department culture." Janey’s response to the report was to fire Dennis White. He filed a motion for an injunction to stop this action.
On May 25, 2021, Associate Justice for the Massachusetts Superior Court, Heidi Brieger, denied the motion. White then appealed the decision.
On May 27, 2021, Vickie Henry, Appeals Court Judge, stated: "After reviewing the petition and supporting documents including the Superior Court judge's thoughtful and detailed memorandum of decision, and order, I discern no error of law or abuse of discretion in the denial of the preliminary injunction." Appeal denied.
Acting Mayor Kim Janey is scheduling a hearing to terminate White as the Police Commissioner saying, "It is time to move the Boston Police Department in a new direction toward our vision of safety, healing, and justice."
White’s domestic violence actions remain “allegations” because of the secrecy and protection of the brotherhood in the Boston Police Department. They were not taken seriously two decades ago and only have been taken seriously in the past few months. Even former police commissioner Gross, who stated that he knew about White’s past violence, recommended White to be the leading voice of justice in Boston.
Four women in power, a mayor, an investigator, and two judges identified and took action on the internal poor judgment and disregard of the truth at the Boston Police Department. Women understand domestic violence as family violence. When covered up or not prosecuted, the violence will continue.
Thank you, Women Leaders of Boston.
We can follow the rest of this story as the week unfolds. Thanks for reading and please leave a comment so I know you're out there.
You can read other essays by Elizabeth Kilcoyne by clicking on PUBLISHED WORKS above.
Good Morning Readers,
It's International Women's Day! According to their website, "A challenged world is an alert world."
Let's continue to challenge! Women are currently leaders of 24 countries:
Meet Them Here: youtu.be/tUujjBqpxOg Fabulous video of women leaders- 2 minutes
The women are indeed coming!
Have a great day, Elizabeth
Leave me a comment so I'll know you are out there. Thanks
Tomorrow, the unpredictable and bizarre person occupying the White House will be gone! The maligning of experts in science, epidemiology, foreign policy, the law, health services, finance, immigration, military policy, education, and more, who make the federal government work day-to-day, no matter whether a Democrat or Republican is in power, will be over. Even though he’s leaving, we must hold him accountable for the disparaging treatment of these professional bureaucrats.
I wrote this essay for them.
Sowing the Seeds of Distrust
The recent crises in leadership in the federal government highlight why it's essential to have government continuity. Strong democracies can survive a bizarre and unpredictable leader now and then. In the United States, people have severely suffered under the Trump Administration’s changes to policies like immigration, climate change, and health care. Some of you may have selected other social and public health issues, like education, reproductive rights, and human rights. Neglected and mutilated policies are begging for attention and improvement. I predict our recent vote showing a deep belief in democracy (66.3% of Americans voted in the 2020 presidential election, the highest since 1900, according to the Washington Post) and our professional bureaucracy will save us.
Government exists to protect and serve the people. Everyone depends on government services such as roads, schools, the police and fire departments, clean air and water, and the post office. If there were a profit to be made, the private sector would gladly oblige. But alas, there is no profit in ensuring that United States residents have enough to eat, a decent place to live, and health insurance to support their lives. These are government responsibilities, along with the protection of children, unemployment benefits, and civil rights enforcement. Not everyone needs these services, but they are the "safety net" for millions of people in the United States (more than 21%, according to a 2015 census report). More residents learned about the "safety net" during this pandemic due to job loss, illness, and other catastrophic occurrences.
Professional bureaucrats are government service employees who manage and sustain all these programs by doing their jobs in compliance with the law and best practices that have been developed over time. Many have worked in government for years and are experts in science, epidemiology, foreign policy, the law, health services, immigration, military policy, education, and more. These experts execute the details of government machinery regardless of whether the Democrats or Republicans are in power. Each new president brings in appointees that oversee agencies, such as Health and Human Services, the CDC, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Professional bureaucrats, who are experts in their respective fields, generally advise their new agency leader.
President Trump brought many appointees to Washington who did not support the missions of the agencies they were running, including the U.S. Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, Health and Human Services, and the Post Office (now headed by a major Trump donor). For the most part, professional bureaucrats were not asked for their advice but instead were asked to implement changes that were at odds with the facts, their expertise, and sometimes the law.
When Trump was frustrated that his administration didn’t get its way, he started blaming the "deep state." Was he referring to the experts who work for him? His own Justice Department? The FBI? Judges in the state and federal judicial branches? Yes. He had other descriptions for elected officials in Congress who disagreed with him.
This president, more than any other, misused language to his advantage skillfully. Where did the expression and meaning of “deep state” originate?
“Deep state” is translated from the Turkish derin devlet. This expression used in Turkey in the 1990s, according to historian Ryan Gingeras refers to “a ‘criminal’ or ‘rogue’ element that has somehow muscled their way into power." In Turkey, this term referred to the military collaborating with drug traffickers and hitmen to perform their duties.
Mexico is an example of a country where the "deep state" merged the drug cartels and the Mexican government. Drug cartel members obtained official positions in the police hierarchy and made it almost impossible for presidents to eliminate them.
A "deep state" is not what we're concerned about in America. We are concerned about a president who doesn't understand what the phrase means. For Donald Trump, "deep state" are those parts of government that execute the work of government machinery regardless of whether the Democrats or Republicans are in power. The Food and Drug Administration became a “deep state” target in November. Trump accused the agency of delaying the announcement of the first Coronavirus vaccine (Pfizer) until the Sunday after the presidential election. “FDA and the Democrats didn’t want me to have a vaccine WIN prior to the election…” The Head of the FDA was a Trump appointee. In September, Trump chose Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, serving in the White House and an epidemiologist from Atlanta, to single out for criticism. Referring to these experts as the “deep state” diminishes our country's ability to provide the best services to our residents and share trust with the rest of the world.
David Rohde, an editor at The New Yorker and the author of In Deep: The FBI, The CIA, and the Truth about America's "deep state," argues that “the term ‘deep state’ has become a way for Trump and his supporters to deflect criticism. It’s their equivalent of terms like ‘fake news’ and ‘witch hunt.’” This inflammatory and disparaging language creates doubt in residents and reflects so negatively on the career civil servants who keep this nation afloat. We need the most qualified people to work in government, especially during a pandemic, and we need them to aspire to civil service as a career choice. The government needs to be trusted.
In my experience, public employees are committed to faithfully executing the laws, no matter which party is running Washington. I was one of these professional bureaucrats in Massachusetts for 20 years. As Deputy Comptroller, my job entailed oversight of payroll for 92,000 state employees, contracts for all purchases, and payment of all bills for goods and services purchased by the Commonwealth. It was challenging, rewarding, and an honor to serve.
On December 11, 2020, the Supreme Court (Trump appointed three of the nine justices) ruled that Texas lacked standing to pursue a lawsuit to overturn election results in four battleground states. The court said Texas "has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections." This ruling is Trump's “deep state,” the judicial branch of government doing its job, an outcome with which he vehemently disagrees. There were 60 similar election lawsuits filed by Trump allies, and 59 ruled against him. He still believes the election was stolen from him.
The same “deep state” professional bureaucrats in the FBI, the Justice Department, and police departments around the country are finding, investigating, and as appropriate, indicting those who attacked the U.S. Capital building last week. At the encouragement of the president, his supporters carried out an attack on one of our great American institutions while inside the Congress members were certifying the votes of the people.
There is a new day coming on January 20th on which Trump will transfer to his next delusional state.
Thanks for reading and please leave a comment so I know you're out there.
You can read other essays by Elizabeth Kilcoyne by clicking on PUBLISHED WORKS above. .
This blog entry requires action!! Everything with purpose requires action!
LaTosha Brown co-founded Black Voters Matter in 2016. She had a leading role in propelling Democrats to victory in Georgia on January 5th! Democrats will be in the majority this month. LaTosha is someone to know.
In a recent interview with All Things Considered, LaTosha said, “We wanted people, we wanted Black voters in particular, to feel a sense of their power and their agency, and in spite of all odds, what we could do in pushing this country forward.”
You can see and listen to LaTosha’s story on January 19th.
Mass Women’s Political Caucus Annual Meeting
2021 is the time to renew our drive to move this Commonwealth toward a more equitable future.
Our featured speaker, LaTosha Brown, heads one of the most exciting and effective grassroots political organizing efforts in America: Black Voters Matter. She is a leader in the fight against voter suppression and the empowerment of marginalized communities in the public arena. Join us in conversation with this leading political activist, advocate for women and girls, and Harvard Kennedy School Fellow, as we talk about Selma, Cambridge, and the future of women in American political life.
Date: January 19, 2012
Time: 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Register Now for this Zoom Webinar: https://bit.ly/2W882uk
I am a member of the Mass Women’s Political Caucus, promoting more women to run for public office. The journey is long and rewarding!
Thanks for reading!
SHOULD THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT BE REVIVED?
Wednesday, December 9 at 7 pm ET
As we know, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment giving the amendment the required number of states for ratification. The deadline has passed, but the House of Representatives eliminated the deadline earlier this year. If all goes well in Georgia on January 5th, we will have a majority in the Senate. So this question becomes relevant.
Speakers will be:
Jane Mansbridge, author of the award-winning Why We Lost the ERA,
Carol Robles-Román, former co-president and CEO of the ERA Coalition, and
Inez Feltscher Stepman of the Independent Women's Forum.
Moderator will be Jeffrey Rosen, president, and CEO of the National Constitution Center.
Please join the Dec. 9th DEBATE at 7 pm, and we can continue the discussion on this blog. I dream of gender equity in the constitution. It would be a solid foundation from which to fight discrimination! We may even be able to stop worrying about our reproductive rights!
Thanks to Ellen O'Connor for sending this event along and Gracie Coates for reminding me to keep this fight going!
Register at https://constitutioncenter.org
"The union will be more perfect when that simple statement, that men and women are persons of equal citizenship stature, is part of our fundamental instrument of government," the late great RGB said.
If you want to make calls to Georgia, contact https://fairfight.com/join-our-fight/
It’s easier than you think!
Thanks for reading. Leave a comments about the debate.