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 Debs Thomas Harrington


It was a really good time. The 53rd Debs Thomas Harrington Dinner was one of our better Dinners: fun, educational, inspirational, convivial. We held it this year at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro on what should have been an inauspicious day, Friday the 13th of May.

William McNary of Citizen Action/Illinois was our Master of Ceremonies. McNary is someone who makes a difference, in politics and at the podium. At the podium, he combines a rare eloquence with an infectious sense of fun. In welcoming the attendees, McNary observed that public service should not be the same thing as slavery.

Sandra Shimon, a Greater Oak Park DSA member and an Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (ICADP) board member, presented the Dinner award to ICADP's Jeremy Schroeder. In accepting the award, Schroeder made reference to the politics and values represented by Eugene V. Debs. Despite the victory in abolishing the death penalty in Illinois, the work of Illinois Abolitionists is not over. Not only is there the Federal death penalty, but proponents of the death penalty in Illinois are already attempting to bring it back.

Chicago DSA co-chair Ron Baiman presented the Dinner award to AFSCME's John Cameron. In accepting the award, Cameron noted that while both public and private employees may be represented in the workplace by a union, public employees, as voters, have some say in the meaning of their work, and this is the essence of socialism.

U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky seized the time and the podium to second the Dinner's endorsement of Cameron's work. Despite now being in the minority in Congress, Schakowsky noted in passing, she was extremely optimistic as the conservatives in Congress have seriously over-reached themselves.

Our featured speaker was Ralph Martire, the Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability . Martire would seem an unlikely choice for an after dinner speaker. Indeed, he began his career as a corporate lawyer. "Mergers and acquisitions," he sighed. But Martire wielded statistics with passion and clarity to reveal the intersection of tax policy, education, class, and racism.

The Dinner closed with the singing of "Solidarity Forever," this time led by Christine Steyer, a singer who graciously donated her talents.

The evening was recorded for later broadcast on Chicago's public access cable network, CANTV.


 William McNary in one of his fiercer moments at the Dinner. Photo by John Scott.
 Shimon Schroeder

Sandra Shimon, with a wise blink against the flaring of the light, presents the 2011 Dinner Award to Jeremy Schroeder. Photo by John Scott.
 Cameron Baiman

Ron Baiman (right) presents the 2011 Dinner Award to John Cameron. Photo by John Scott.


Ralph Martire speaking at the Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner. Photo by John Scott

Jeremy Schroeder

For your work to:

develop a strategic plan to end the death penalty in Illinois;
energize and grow the abolition community within Illinois and gain the assistance of allies across the United States and the world;
build support and leadership within the Illinois legislature, leading to the Land of Lincoln becoming an execution free state as of Wednesday, March 9, 2011;

The Debs ­ Thomas ­ Harrington Dinner Committee does hereby present you with its annual award this 13th day of May, 2011.

John D. Cameron

For your work ensuring the working class is represented in government;
For defending the interests of public employees;
For building the consumers' movement in Illinois and the nation;
For lifetime devotion to social justice, including health care, fair taxation, peace, and civil rights,

The Debs ­ Thomas ­ Harrington Dinner Committee does hereby present you with its annual award this 13th day of May, 2011.


Schroeder Cameron

Eugene V. Debs -- Norman Thomas -- Michael Harrington

53rd Annual Dinner

 AFSCME 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike    
Cameron Martire Schroeder 

In Praise of Public Service

John Cameron
Director of Political & Community Relations, AFSCME Council 31

 Our Featured Speaker
Ralph Martire
Executive Director, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability

Jeremy Schroeder
Executive Director, Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

 with Master of Ceremonies William McNary, Co-Director, Citizen Action/Illinois


Friday, May 13, 2011

Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro, 733 W. Madison, Chicago

Cocktails at 6:00 p.m. -- Dinner at 7:00 p.m. -- Tickets @ $70

Tickets must be reserved no later than Tuesday, May 10. A limited number of tickets may be available at the door at $80 per person. Make sure you and your organization appear in the program book! For more details: call 773.384.0327 or email chiildsa@chicagodsa.org or CLICK HERE to download a printable (PDF) flyer with more information..

Auspices: Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation with 501c4 IRS status;
contributions are not tax-deductible.

A limited number of tickets will be available at the door @ $80.

Can't attend? We welcome your contribution:



 Dear Friends:

Friday, May 13: Save that date for the 53rd Annual Eugene V. Debs - Norman Thomas - Michael Harrington Dinner. As always, we are at a union hotel. The Dinner will be held at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro hotel at Madison and Halsted in Chicago, beginning with a cash bar at 6 PM. The Dinner is at 7 PM.

The Dinner this year is In Praise of Public Service. We have as our honorees John Cameron, the Director of Political and Community Relations for AFSCME Council 31, and Jeremy Schroeder, the Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Both of these honorees represent victories at a time when victories are badly needed.

Over the last 32 years, John Cameron has worked on a wide range of public policy initiatives at the local, state and federal levels. Recent victories include the state income tax increase and national health insurance reform, restoring county public health services, enacting protections against privatization, and defending pension and retiree health benefits. Cameron has been involved in electoral politics beginning with Miriam Balanoff's election to the state legislature in 1978 and Harold Washington's first mayoral campaign. He has also worked for Lane Evans, Paul Simon, Jan Schakowsky, Joe Moore, and Barack Obama. John Cameron is on the boards of Citizen Action/Illinois, USAction, and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. He also serves as the Illinois Federation of Labor's 9th District COPE chair.

The death penalty has been abolished in Illinois. In this victory, Jeremy Schroeder's leadership played a major role. Prior to campaigning against the death penalty, Jeremy Schroeder was the legislative director for SEIU in Illinois, handling their legislative and policy campaigns. He also worked on numerous Chicago aldermanic campaigns, campaigns for state office, and Barack Obama's presidential campaign. During his tenure with the union, he was able to pass legislation for first-time ever health care and for increased wages for the union's members. Schroeder has also served as the volunteer legislative coordinator for Amnesty International in Illinois.

Our featured speaker is Ralph Martire, the Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. The Center is an organization that, with unimpeachable nonpartisanship, has spoken fiscal sanity to all those Republicans and Democrats who have attempted resolving Illinois' (and Cook County's and Chicago's) fiscal crisis with hand waving, hand wringing, and crocodile smiles. Martire is a most eloquent and passionate cassandra. This has made him the go-to person for journalists seeking comments that clearly and cogently define the issue at hand. You will find him to be a speaker who is both lively and informative.

The fight in Wisconsin especially but also in Indiana and Ohio over collective bargaining rights are heroic and inspiring. They are also completely defensive, and we gain nothing in victory. Unless we come out of these fights as mad as hornets and ready to swarm. If the "cheddar revolution" is to succeed, it will take more than just a few months. Your participation in this Dinner and other events like it will be crucial to what happens next. Please plan on attending. A flyer with additional information is enclosed.

If you cannot attend (or even if you can), please consider getting an ad in the Dinner program book. It can be relatively inexpensive: a greeting is only $25. A full page ad is $600 and there are other options. A flyer with additional information is enclosed.

If you have any questions, please email, call, or write. More information about the history of the Dinner is at the URL above.
In solidarity,

Robert M. Roman
for the Dinner Committee

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