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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    but Elizabeth really introduced us to how complicated the immigration issue is for her state One day we dropped in on her while she was in the middle of a phone call about hospital funding Arizona hospitals were fighting to be reimbursed for the cost of treating undocumented migrants As one of the smaller border states compared to California or Texas Arizona was having a hard time getting those funds that piece of the immigration puzzle and the â œsmall stateâ concept were new to us Later that afternoon Elizabeth wondered how Sen Kyl would vote on a certain amendment She said I like for him to kind of be a lone wolf not someone whose vote is predictable For whatever reason that comment always stuck with us The more time we spent shooting in Arizona getting to know Arizonans like Elizabeth the more meaningful that line became As Senator Kyl rose in leadership we felt like it became difficult for Elizabeth to keep giving us access But she was very gentle about closing the door We finally got the message one day when we were in asking her to film and a slightly crazy one issue constituent was trying

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/elizabeth-maier (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    SEIU was the vanguard of a new workers rights movement and put more resources into organizing immigrants than any union had in a generation Eliseo was the brains and the energy behind it It s hard not to use superlatives when describing Eliseo and his work He has an organizer s no nonsense focus on results and accountability but there s no denying that he is a visionary leader In Eliseo s hands any setback or victory in the immigration debate became an organizing opportunity to move one step closer to full civic participation and self determination for workers and for Latinos Eliseo moved from Zacatecas Mexico to California as a kid to join his father who was a farmworker in Delano s grape fields Soon enough Eliseo also started working as a picker and when he was still a teenager he participated in the historic United Farm Workers strike He spent the next 13 years working alongside Cesar Chavez rising through the ranks to serve as the United Farm Workers National Vice President Eliseo joined SEIU in 1986 and has been a Vice President there since 1996 For most of the years we were shooting he was based in

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/eliseo-medina (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    Garden City Community College The Dennis L Mesa family was featured in the PBS Special America Becoming Mr Mesa has served with many civic state and national groups Kansas State Historical Society Kansas Humanities Council Habitat for Humanity American Cancer s Relay for Life League of United Latin American Citizens Leadership Kansas Rotary Jaycees Knights of Columbus Finney County United Way St Catherine Hospital to name a few During his eight years as City Commissioner of Garden City Dennis served twice as Mayor of Garden City He is Sen Sam Brownback s Regional Director covering 42 Western Kansas counties and has worked with the Senator since 1997 Dennis and his wife Lanette an employee of St Catherine Hospital have three daughters Krista Andrea and Brittany Dennis truly loves his Western Kansas home He told us Out West each day our senses awake to an array of wide open ranges a palette of stunning dawns and multihued sunsets yet the next day may offer a calamitous reversal of thunderous storms tornadic windswept roadways and dust blown vistas A heart fills with greater appreciation of fellow Western Kansans a generation fortified with innovative wisdom courageous perseverance and resilient with values unwavering We

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/dennis-mesa (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    expertise and policy strategy to match David Kensinger s political savvy but there was always politics in the policy too They were a good team that year we were there John had come from Army intelligence to work on the Hill some years earlier many of them later spent with Senator Strom Thurmond s office On a good afternoon often a Thursday or Friday we d even be lucky enough to be around when he d get in the mood to do a few impressions he had picked up in the midst of all that South Carolina hospitality It must have been quite a switch to move to a young Kansas Republican as a boss but that s where John s professionalism came through We got the impression he loved the Senate and wanted to make it a good place for his people to work as well as to serve his boss with the best counsel he could provide His own office was frequently a gathering place staff seemed to feel they could work out all sorts of problems with his help and besides in the mood to talk or not he was the sole keeper of the gigantic office

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/john-miller (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    Bishops and members of Congress and his normal union business We weren t that surprised Frank Sharry had worked with Ben a few years before on the campaign against Prop 187 so his force of nature reputation preceded him Filming with Ben over the years it felt like he could turn anything into a major success through sheer will and extremely hard work In his work on immigration reform he often collaborated with a lot of grass roots groups With different organizing philosophies grassroots groups and labor unions can sometimes be like oil and water Labor is hierarchical and emphasizes results and accountability especially since they are often footing the bill for campaigns Their grass roots allies sometimes complained that Labor was bullying but no one could argue with the success of Ben s work Especially when it comes to working with the media Ben is a master Ben started at SEIU over 20 years ago as a janitor member in Orange County California He has organized workers administered local unions and worked politically on organizing immigrant communities in California into a historic political coalition known as OLAW Organization of Latin American Workers He currently serves as special assistant to

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/ben-monterroso (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    organization represents Asian Americans of all ethnic groups an extremely diverse constituency with accordingly varied needs In the immigration reform debate the family unity question was one of the highest priorities for Karen since the family based visa backlog is particularly long for many on Asian countries Karen wasn t usually at the conference tables for the long policy meetings we filmed but her voice carried a lot of weight with the Senators Civil rights especially in the post 9 11 era when many Asian communities are targeted is just as central to Karen s work Some of the compromises which Senators made in the immigration debate were gut wrenching choices for the advocates For Karen those issues are complicated on a personal level because her parents were among the Japanese Americans interred during WWII under the same draconian logic that some government officials advocated after 9 11 These days Karen chairs the Family Coalition a group that includes faith based and immigration groups focused on policies to fix the family visa system She also chairs the Rights Working Group a coalition of civil liberties human rights civil rights immigrant rights and faith based groups working to restore the due

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/karen-narasaki (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    at a time when terrorism had just entered the public consciousness and people were keenly aware of the target the Hill had become For David Kensinger Senator Brownback s Chief of Staff David Neal brought two huge pluses along with his expertise degrees from Ivy universities a law degree from Columbia and a Masters from Harvard Divinity School He seemed a dream candidate for the job of Chief Immigration Counsel at a moment when immigration was a central focus for the senator from Kansas So David Neal started life on the Hill about the time we did in our way and we like to think that we learned together Esther Olavarría David s counterpart in Senator Kennedy s office quickly became his great friend and the wise experienced teacher leading David through the mysteries of Congress But David was an old street fighter from Fort Wayne Indiana and he learned to take care of himself and his boss interests pretty quickly The story of that year though turned out to be that doing that wasn t so easy Late 2001 was a momentous time for the country The Senate s responses to the 9 11 attacks anthrax the country s entry into two wars all this colored every other initiative a senator might have wanted to push And that s what happened to David s brief So besides the fact that he is truly the kindest person you ll ever meet and probably the only one who was thoroughly enthusiastic about the idea of a film that would explore the democratic process from the turret of a Senate staffer which we adored him for seeing the thing that struck us most deeply about David was his sense of honor and his loyalty He understood perfectly that he was there in

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/david-neal (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    was the grants v loans amendment which became such a point of contention in our film Kathy has worked for Senator Grassley since 1998 She grew up in Iowa but went to work in Washington as soon as she graduated from college at Denison University Kathy is still a staffer for Sen Grassley in addition to immigration policy she handles financial services public health and appropriations Kathy has a well

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/kathy-nuebel-kovarik (2016-04-27)
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