2015 Annual Report

  • The New Progressive Alliance (NPA) continued to expand our organizational outreach and are now allied with 24 other national and international organizations.
  • Facebook likes (readers who subscribe to our articles) have grown steadily and by the end of the year exceeded 1,500.
  • NPA co-founder Anthony Noel is stepping away from the day to day activities of the NPA to pursue other interests, but will continue to help the NPA in other ways.
  • We are happy to announce that the United Nations will take a first look at the NPA as an official Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) from January 26 - February 4, 2015. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) share many of the same goals as the Unified Platform.  This is a multi-year process that we have been working on since 2011.
  • We now have our charter, all Annual Reports, and all Public Comments in full on our webpage under “More.” Because all Public Comments in full are on the webpage, they will only be given a brief description in the Annual Reports from now on.
  • In 2015 we set a record for public comments with a total of 29. That is more than any other year so far.
  • In January we wrote the Environmental Protection Agency about classifying highly toxic coal ash as a hazardous waste instead of ordinary household waste. Coal ash is highly toxic and classifying it as hazardous waste would have required federal enforcement and stricter rules. Classifying it as solid waste (akin to household garbage) means enforcement will be left to states and private citizens by lawsuits. This has traditionally proved to provide inadequate protection.  Our website has a listing of all our Public comments in full.     
  • In January we wrote to the Texas Land Commission to urge them to withdraw the lawsuit to invalidate the vote of Denton to ban fracking. In Denton, flares burn off benzene––a known carcinogen. Wells have exploded, spewing toxic fracking chemicals into neighborhoods. Ozone levels exceed standards for safety. Because the incoming Texas Land Commissioner is George P. Bush - nephew of former president George W. Bush - and the Bush family is invested in the fracking industry, we may not be successful but we believe in holding to the principles of the Unified Platform.
  • In January we wrote to the Commission on Presidential Debates. The League of Women Voters originally arranged the debates and ran a tight ship from 1976 to1988. As a nonpartisan organization, it was ardent in affording equal time to all candidates. In 1988 the republicans and democrats plotted secretly to exclude League of Women Voters. In disgust and to their everlasting credit in choosing honor over corruption, the League of Women Voters exposed the telltale embarrassing memorandum and resigned as hosts of the Presidential Debates, correctly citing this "fraud on the American voter." We urged the Commission on Presidential Debates to expand the eligibility for Presidential to be more in line with the League of Women Voters standard.
    • In December 2014 we joined with 50 other organizations in supporting a Unity Statement of Principles to combat the undue influence of money in politics. This closely aligned with points 8 (election reform) and 9 (corporate accountability/reform) of the Unified Platform. By January 2015 in time for the fifth anniversary of Citizens United the number had increased to 131 signing organizations in support of the Unity Statement of Principles. (The full statement is in the 2014 Annual Report and Public Comments 2015 on our website.) This was officially released in January 2015 in time for the fifth year anniversary of the Citizens United case.
    • In January Green Party Green Party candidate Didier Ortiz  running for Fort Lauderdale City Commission District 3 has endorsed the Unified  Platform and earned our initial conditional endorsement. 
  • In January on the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United v. FEC decision, the New Progressive Alliance with 28 other organizations supported legislation to help correct the corruption the case exacerbated. This is closely aligned with points 8 (election reform) and 9 (corporate accountability/reform) of the Unified Platform.
  • In February the New Progressive Alliance filed a Public Comment with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management opposing opening up the eastern coast of the United States to the same type of off shore drilling that caused the Deepwater Horizon tragedy whose adverse effects we are still feeling.
  • In February the New Progressive Alliance urged the Export-Inport Bank of the United States not to finance Australia’s Abbot Point coal port expansion both because the port expansion and the coal mines that would feed it would gravely damage the local environment including the Great Barrier Reef and because it would accelerate climate change. It would gravely damage the local environment including the Great Barrier Reef because of the resultant dredging and ship traffic. It threatens one of the world’s most biodiverse and fragile ecosystems under protection as a World Heritage Site. The coal industry is embarking on a project that would also do grave damage to the Great Barrier Reef by massively expanding the port at Abbot Point and building new coal mines in Queensland, Australia. Burning coal is one of the highest forms of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Coal pollution already worsens air quality resulting in more asthma attacks, heat-related deaths, and respiratory complications. Carbon pollution contributes to warmer temperatures which is speeding the spread of infectious diseases. Coal Plants also emit   mercury, sulfur, arsenic, cyanide, soot, and lead which have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. Coal companies are not responsible for these health effects or for clean up when coal ash spills and destroys water supplies. This deal would pave the way to double coal production in Australia -- already one of the world’s biggest coal exporters -- in the midst of this climate emergency. The climate impacts would be catastrophic, as building out Abbot Point would mean a dramatic expansion of coal mining in Australia's Galilee Basin, one of the world's largest stores of carbon. The planned mega-mines would be among the largest in Australia, and would dramatically increase greenhouse gas pollution. The coal industry needs international bank funding to make their reckless new project happen. U.S. taxpayer dollars should not fund this project. Both U.S. banks – including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley – as well as global banks including HSBC, Barclays, and Deutsche Bank - have refused to finance this project. The New Progressive Alliance hopes the Export-Import Bank of the United States will follow their example.
  • In February the New Progressive Alliance joined with other organizations in opposing Chevron's use of dark money in the political process. This falls well within the Unified Platform's position on election reform and corporate accountability.
  • In February along with 63 other organizations, we asked Pfizer to end its affiliation with the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC.  ALEC —which brings state legislators and corporate lobbyists behind closed doors to discuss proposed legislation and share lavish dinners—threatens our democracy. This recent exodus of corporations so far is in part due to concerns over ALEC’s extreme views and agenda. That extreme agenda includes denying the science of climate change, blocking access to affordable healthcare, defunding public services, privatizing public schools, curtailing workers’ rights, and opposing net neutrality.
  • In February the New Progressive Alliance with 49 other organizations urged President Obama to issue an Executive Order to require corporations with business before the government to be transparent about their electioneering activities. This would allow voters to see for if their representatives or senators owe Big Business any big favors. We need more transparency of money in politics and we need to end pay-to-play favoritism in government contracting. Otherwise this cycle of corruption virtually guarantees that parasitic corporations will keep siphoning our tax dollars into profit-driven boondoggles, even as congressional austerity extremists clamor for cuts to programs that assist struggling Americans.
  • In March the New Progressive Alliance submitted a Shareholders United Public Comment with the support of 19 other organizations. It starts in the Maryland legislature and we will work to spread the demand for corporate transparency in political contributions to other states and the nation.
  • The only new nuclear plants being built in the United States now are in Georgia. Following the examples of over half a century of history of nuclear power, they are behind schedule and over budget. In March 2015 the New Progressive Alliance wrote the Georgia Department of Natural Resources - Environmental Protection Division – to oppose Plant Vogtle’s water withdrawal permit. For reasons of both water pollution (The Savannah River is rated as the country's third most toxic river) and water deprivation in a state subject to droughts the Plant Vogtle water withdrawal permit request in its current form should not be approved.
  • In March the New Progressive Alliance joined 58 other organizations in supporting preserving the United States Postal Service. The United States Postal Service is an absolutely necessary part of our infrastructure as described in point ten of the Unified Platform. Unfortunately, it is threatened by narrow monied interests aimed at undermining postal services and dismantling this great public institution. A Congressionally-manufactured USPS "crisis" imposed an unfair crushing financial mandate on the Postal Service that no other government agency or private company is forced to bear. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 mandates the USPS to pay approximately $5.5 billion per year to fund future retiree healthcare costs 75 years in advance. Without this unreasonable burden, the USPS would have enjoyed an operating surplus of $600 million in 2013 and over $1.4 Billion in 2014. The public good must not be sacrificed for the sake of private investment and profit.
  • In March the New Progressive Alliance along with 34 other organizations endorsed the general goals of the “Beyond Extreme Energy,” the specific goals in regards to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the pledge to use nonviolence activism.
  • As of March NPA now also has a presence on Ello under goNPA. This is in addition to our Facebook presence. Ello is similar to a no-advertisement Facebook.
  • In March Green Party candidate Steve Alesch  running for re-election as Warrenville Park District Commissioner in Wisconsin  has endorsed the Unified  Platform and earned our initial conditional endorsement. 
  • In April the New Progressive Alliance was designated a United Nations Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with special consultative status. We have been working on this for years and are very proud. 
  • In April we submitted our first written statement to the United Nations Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC) for the 2015 ECOSOC High-Level Segment (HLS) for NGOs in ECOSOC consultative status. The UN is changing from the 2000 - 2015 eight Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs) to goals for the future. (The eight MDGs are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, to achieve universal primary education, to promote gender equality and empower women, to reduce child mortality, to improve maternal health, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; to ensure environmental sustainability,and to develop a global partnership for development) Our comment urges the monitoring of fossil fuel subsidies which were many times those of renewable energy subsidies.
    • In April the New Progressive Alliance recommended to the Georgia Department of Transportation that the proposal for use of eminent domain to build the Palmetto Pipeline should be rejected. Rejecting the request is justified in light of all the risks to the water supply and environment in the midst of a drought, Kinder Morgan’s extensive record of accidents, the unfairness to Georgia landowners, and the failure of Kinder Morgan to show any need or public purpose for the pipeline.
  • In April the New Progressive Alliance recommended to the Michigan governor that the state not sell pristine forest land to a Canadian mining company for the following use: 1,665 acres to create a new strip mine, 7,026 acres will be used for a new underground mine, and the remaining land would be used for mining support infrastructure. This land sale of mostly undeveloped forests would be the largest of its kind in Michigan State history. The proposed mining operations are a high risk for water pollution. These wetland support wildlife and drain into the Great Lakes. Once the forest is cleared for strip mining and mining support infrastructure it will take years to regrow these forests and for the wildlife to be reestablished.
  • In April the New Progressive Alliance recommended the Nuclear Regulatory Commission disapprove two new nuclear reactors on the shores of Biscayne Bay, Florida because these two nuclear plants are poorly placed, are a clear and present danger to the water supply, and are a bad risk in light of over 50 years of history on the use of nuclear power.
    • WASHINGTON, D.C. On April 28, 2015 the New Progressive Alliance and 54 other organizations said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should require disclosure of corporate political spending for the sake of a functioning and accountable corporate democracy. The groups ranged from environmental groups to asset managers to religious organizations.
  • In May William Crain led a protest in Billings, Montana against former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and our deceptive foreign policy.
  • The United Nations recently requested our assistance as an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) with consultative status. They asked us to tell other NGOs of the benefits of obtaining Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) consultative status. On May 20, 2015 we published on our Facebook and Ello page a Public Comment describing our experience and encouraging other Non-Governmental Organizations to seek consultative status if that will further their goals.
  • In May the NPA urged the CEO of Fraser Surrey Dock not to expand your Fraser River from a barge loading facility to an expansive coal port because of damage to both the local and international environment.
  • In May the NPA with 30 other civic and religious organizations, academics, investors and officials made a Corporate Reform Coalition comment to the Federal Election Commission on REG 2014-09 (Amendment 11 C.F.R. 115, “Enforcement of the Federal Pay-to-Play Law”).  Chevron made a $2.5 million campaign contribution on October 7, 2012, to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a registered super PAC which was used to finance negative ads against 14 congressional candidates. This action was illegal for any corporation holding government contracts. The Federal Election Commission agreed with Chevron that incorporated entity of Chevron – Chevron Corporation – made the campaign contribution, while a different incorporated entity of Chevron – Chevron USA – held the government contracts. Common sense dictates otherwise. The campaign contribution clearly came from Chevron. Traditionally piercing the corporate veil means showing a corporate veil is used to avoid liability. For the Federal Election Commission the objective is to make sure that one corporation (the contractor) does not benefit from contributions made by another. Either way, this is a clear violation of both the law and ethics.
  • In June the NPA joined with 20 other organizations to urge President Obama to appoint the next nominee to the Securities and Exchange Commission with an eye toward ending the corruption and secrecy. One valid test for the selection of the nominees is support of the rulemaking petition calling for the agency to promulgate a rule requiring disclosure of corporate political spending information. This issue is important because in the post-Citizens United universe corporations can spend money in secret without informing those that invest in them. The demand for this rule is supported by more than 1.2 million public comments. These include comments from a bipartisan group of former Chairs and Commissioners of the SEC, state Treasurers, institutional investors, Members of Congress, and the New Progressive Alliance.
  • In April we also submitted our first Public Comment to the United Nations as an NGO in special consultative status.  In June we learned that the Public Comment was accepted for distribution to all participants of the 2015 High Level Segment NGO meeting from July 6 - 10, 2015 at United Nations Headquarters and was being translated into the six official United Nations languages. 
  • In June the New Progressive Alliance urged the United States Bureau of Land Management to withdraw their approval for mining more Powder River Basin (PRB) coal. The coal would be sold at a giveaway price amounting to coal subsidy, have an inadequate bond, and have adverse effects on world health.
  • In June Green Party candidate Jeff Staples running for Virginia 81st District House of Delegates has endorsed the Unified Platform and earned our initial conditional endorsement.
  • In July the New Progressive Alliance is proud to welcome four new Allies.

Leftist Third Party and Independent Candidates - This left-leaning group has been created as a means to explore (leftist) options other than the corrupt two-party corporate controlled system.

Boiling Frog Party which has become one of our allies because of their support of the Unified Platform. The NPA is a 501c4 educational organization. Many - including us - have tried to educate on subjects such as the environment or economy with serious papers. Gary Swing, who has run several times for public office, here tries to communicate with humor. It is certainly worth a try. For examples of Gary's serious papers see on the NPA blog Gary Swing on Election Reform and When Clinton Lied, Yugoslavia Died.

Social Science Research Network - Professor Ciara Torres-Spelliscy of Stetson Law School has published many good articles on her webpage documenting the need for campaign disclosure and shareholder rights. It fits very well with our call in the Unified Platform for election reform.

It's Our Economy - A project of Popular Resistance, this is an excellent source of knowledge and references.

  • In July candidate Gary Swing running for US Senator from Colorado has endorsed the Unified Platform and earned our initial conditional endorsement. 
  • In July we wrote to the US Department of Labor concerning the need to reform overtime pay. In 1975 more than 60% of salaried workers were guaranteed overtime pay. Today, only 8% of salaried workers are. The NPA wrote to the Department of Labor supporting their plans to strengthen overtime protections. Bringing overtime protections to be in line with the 1975 level is both fair and will give a needed stimulus to the economy.
  • In July we sent out an email newsletter using the tools available at Nationbuilder which maintains our website.
  • In September the New Progressive Alliance joined with 83 other organizations to ask UPS to leave the corporate corrupt organization ALEC.
  • Green Party candidate Trahern Crews running for St. Paul, MN City Council Member from Ward 1 for the November 4, 2015 election has endorsed the Unified Platform and earned the New Progressive Alliance endorsement. 
  • In September the New Progressive Alliance joined with 177 other organizations in asking the President and Congress to oppose any funding bill that contains inappropriate and ideological policy riders. These are measures that the public opposes and could not otherwise stand alone and pass. The American people support policies to restrain Wall Street abuses and ensure safe and healthy food and products, to provide for clean air and water and keep workplaces safe, to prevent consumer rip-offs and corporate wrongdoing, and to ensure continued access to vital health care services. These inappropriate riders are being inserted to advance the priorities of special interest donors and supporters. Some Members of Congress have even gone so far as to say they are willing to shut down the entire government over outrageous policy riders like the defunding of Planned Parenthood which provides health services to millions of low-income Americans.
  • In September Georgia’s Coal Plant McDonough’s wastewater discharge permit is up for renewal. The NPA  urged the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to protect the Chattahoochee River from coal ash pollution by requiring coal ash pollution be stored in lined pits, limit toxic discharge, eliminating exposure to high hazard dams, and not overly exposing the hazards to poor people. 
  • In November the New Progressive Alliance closed its account with Wells Fargo - one of the big banks that caused the economic collapse - and will do all of its banking with a Community Credit Union.
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