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On Tuesday, June 10
, council members Lane and Posner will introduce an ordinance that amends campaign finance rules in the City of Santa Cruz. They are proposing that donation limits for city council candidates be changed from voluntary to mandatory, and that the city implement a 1-to-1 match to campaign contributions if candidates agree to a $26,641 over-all expenditure limit. Former city council candidate Simba Kenyatta believes the ordinance does not go far enough and he is calling for real election reform in Santa Cruz.
Simba Kenyatta writes:
"As a former city council candidate and as a poor, African American, my view of campaign finance reform is markedly different than what I hear is going to be proposed. I think that there should be no private money in public elections, at all. The city needs to come up with a way to finance our elections so that every candidate starts out with the same amount of money, and no more. Of course, the first reaction will be, we can't afford that, and our budget won't allow it. Well, I think we can't afford not to. Middle class people tend to have middle class friends, poor people tend to have poor friends, and there, is where the problem lies. Just because you put a ceiling on the amount of money doesn't do anything for people having a hard time raising any money because their friends and neighbors are as poor as the candidate, and raising money is much harder no matter how viable you might be as a candidate."
"We will have to be creative in financing the elections. I've often thought a quarter of a cent city tax on businesses would bring in enough money to finance it. I'm sure businesses will object but it would be a minor inconvenience, to support an actual democracy. They can pass that tax on to us because as a concerned citizenry we want to see the best candidates available, even if they are horrible at raising money. Sometimes as a candidate it felt way too close to begging. It would be nice to see businesses/corporations contribute toward a democracy instead of destroying it, as recent court rulings will allow them to do. I'm sure we have enough intelligent, forward thinking people to come up with a way to ensure equality in our electoral processes. Where there's a will, there is a way."
Read More: Real Election Reform | See Also: Video: Simba Kenyatta on Election Reform
| Santa Cruz City Council to Consider Campaign Finance Reform Initiative
Tuesday, June 10: Bring Campaign Finance Reform to Santa Cruz
Residents and representatives of community organizations in Santa Cruz rallied outside of the court house on May 14 to voice their strong opposition to the Governor's May revise budget, which calls for an increase in spending for jail and prison expansion. According to Californians United for A Responsible Budget (CURB), spending on corrections in the state will rise 2.9%, and total spending on prisons will top $12 billion if the budget revision is adopted. Similar rallies were also held in San Francisco, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego.
California is a state where many powerful corporate interests are based, ranging from corporate agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley to the computer and technology industry in the Silicon Valley, but none are more influential in state politics than the oil industry. Stop Fooling California recently released a chart revealing that the oil industry, including the Western States Petroleum Association, Chevron, BP and other oil companies, spent over $56.63 million on lobbying at the State Capitol in the five years from 2009 through 2013.
JP Massar writes:
On April 17th, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation issued its Preserving Historic Post Offices report to Congress "on compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for the closure and disposal of its historic postal facilities." This report was requested by legislation initiated by Berkeley's United States Representative in Congress, Barbara Lee.
Massar says that Berkeley residents' experience attempting to interact with postal service management demonstrates a total lack of consideration for the community's concerns. He writes that USPS management, "ignores the law when it is inconvenient to their purposes; and we know that they are hell-bent on selling Post Office assets in pursuit of immediate revenue..."
On April 24, postal workers protested USPS privatization at a Staples store in San Francisco.
Read More |
Workers Protest Postal Privatization At Staples In San Francisco (4/24/14)
Previous Related Indybay Feature:
Community Groups Push to Save Berkley Post Office from Being Sold to a Commercial Business
Advance the Struggle writes:
What follows is a critique of the West Oakland Specific Plan – WOSP – which the city of Oakland hopes will help in “developing” West Oakland and is attempting to pass in the coming weeks. The development that’s presented is about attracting an influx of capital investment – retail, industrial, and high wage residents – and transforming West Oakland into a center of commerce for a new set of residents. New growth is about raising property values and attracting new residents and businesses, not improving the situations of those who already live there.
Community members gathered in downtown Santa Cruz on Tax Day, April 15, to protest the U.S. government's subsidy of $8 million a day in military aid to Israel. Tax Day is when federal income tax returns are due in the United States, and demonstrators held signs that indicated what the government should be spending citizens' hard earned dollars on, if the money wasn't wasted on military aid to Israel. They also held signs that read, "Apartheid: Wrong for South Africans, Wrong for Palestinians."
According to If Americans Knew
, Israel has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since 1976, and in the last 20 years economic aid to that country has been slowly phased out in favor of military aid. Israel receives about $3 billion ($8 million a day) directly from the United States in military financing each year, which is about one-fifth of what is allocated for the entire foreign aid budget.
Read More |
If Americans Knew |
Palestine-Israel Action Committee Santa Cruz
Homeless activist Robert Norse was removed by police from the Santa Cruz City Council meeting on April 1 when he attempted to record the public session in the same manner he has for many years. Long time council member, and first time mayor, Lynn Robinson decided that evening Norse would be arrested and cited for disrupting the meeting when he twice attempted to leave his recording device "unattended" in the area of the room where he thought he could create the highest quality recording.
Robert Norse writes:
"I was excluded from the chamber for returning the tape recorder to its usual position near the speaker's podium. The acoustics in the room are such that there aren't other good alternatives. Robinson and I had this discussion several months ago by e-mail when I advised her of this situation after she threatened a similar action in December. She subsequently left the recorder unmolested until Tuesday evening when she unexpectedly without prior notice had Sgt. Bush remove it and hand it back to me. I simply replaced it. Twice.
"She then stopped her own meeting to make an issue of the matter and demanded I leave or be arrested. I asked to be allowed to explain but was wary of saying anything since I didn't want to enter into a dispute with her that could later be viewed as a disruption. Since she was the individual choosing to stop the entire meeting, I felt any "disruption" was something she created. The whole incident was simply a rather naked and arbitrary exercise of power which I felt obliged to respond to by doing quietly what I've always done and what I have to do in order to have audio for my Thursday night radio show".
Read More | Video of the False Arrest at Santa Cruz City Council for Audio Recording on April 1
Homeless people in downtown Fresno can no longer set up encampments. They must put up a tent in the evening and take it down early in the morning. During the day, they have to stay with their property or it will be taken and put into storage. On March 6, the Fresno City Council passed an ordinance that makes it easier for the police to remove shopping carts from the homeless. This follows ordinances to stop the homeless from using median islands to ask for money and another one that prevents the homeless from aggressive panhandling.
These “quality of life” ordinances are having an impact as the homeless experience more pressure to be constantly on the move and never have a place to stay that is safe and secure. Kate [not real name], a retirement age homeless woman with breast cancer, broke down and cried, saying that the stress of living on the street, the insecurity of having to always be on the move and worry about whether her tent and sleeping bag were being taken away have led her to stop the cancer treatments at the hospital. The level of stress was too high for her to continue. Without treatment, Kate will probably not survive for long.
Jonathan Nack writes:
Sensational reporting on opposition protests in Venezuela has been featured by the corporate mainstream media over the past three weeks. There are accounts of repression of protesters who are calling for the “exit” of President Nicholas Maduro because of rising inflation, rampant crime, shortages of consumer goods, and mismanagement of the economy to the point of collapse. Eighteen people have been reported to have been killed in connection with the protests. The government, and government aligned “colectivo” thugs are blamed. The mainstream media's narrative is that the Venezuelan government has caused this crisis, because it is a dictatorship that has ruined Venezuela's economy in a failed attempt to impose Cuban style socialism. Slowly, alternative narratives which challenge the mainstream media's accounts of current events and their context, are emerging from the internet, some journalists, and grassroots solidarity activists.
A small group of such activists gathered for an emergency street rally in the heart of San Francisco's Latino community, the 24th Street and Mission Street BART Plaza, on February, 17, 2014. The rally was called to protest the one-sided media coverage of events unfolding in Venezuela; to denounce plots to destabilize the Venezuelan government and economy in an attempt to precipitate a U.S. backed coup; and to express solidarity with the Venezuelan based international Bolivarian revolutionary movement.
The Center for Political Education organized a report back by Carolina Morales about her recent visit. The March 6 event also commemorated the one year anniversary of the death of President Hugo Chavez.
Read More |
S.F. Rally in Solidarity with Venezuela and the Bolivarian Process |
March 6 Event Announcement
On March 4, one hundred and forty-nine public speaker's cards were turned in prior to the Oakland City Council meeting. Public comment was unanimous against a city-wide DAC. Council members, after having revealed on February 18
an interest in reigning in the expansive surveillance system that city staffers have pushed, followed through by passing a resolution at about 1am on March 5 to proceed with a scaled-down Port-only version of the DAC.
Public speakers included
from the ACLU of Northern California,
from the EFF,
of the NLG,
from the Asian Law Caucus,
representatives of the Oakland Privacy Working Group
Jack Heyman of the ILWU
(retired, Local 10),
current Mayoral candidate Dan Siegel
former Oakland councilmember Wilson Riles Jr., and dozens and dozens of other concerned citizens.
A great number of speakers expressed concern for those who would likely suffer the most under an ever-present surveillance system: African Americans, considering the long histories of violence by Oakland police and oppressive and destructive government programs such as COINTELPRO; undocumented families and communities, who would face further marginalization and disruption under such a system; and Muslims, who have bore the brunt of post-9/11 surveillance abuses by federal and local law enforcement authorities, a large contingent of whom were present to speak against the DAC from the Lighthouse Mosque
. From the public galleries in council chambers, calls of "shame, shame, shame" rang out after the vote to proceed with Phase II development of the Domain Awareness Center, now officially called the Port Domain Awareness Center.
Read More with Video |
Flood City Hall! Sink The DAC!
Asian Americans Advancing Justice Letter to Oakland Council on DAC - Vote NO
Unchecked Mass Surveillance of the Entire City of Oakland is Not OK
EFF Fights Back Against Oakland's Disturbing Domain Awareness Center
NLG-SF Letter To Oakland City Council Regarding Proposed Domain Awareness Center
EFF Letter To Oakland City Council Regarding Proposed Domain Awareness Center
The Anarchist Case against the Domain Awareness Center
Reportback From The March Against Police Repression
On March 1, people from around the world in over 27 cities took to the streets in solidarity to participate in a global day of action, billed as the March Against Corruption. In San Francisco, over a hundred people came out to protest the corrupting influence of big money in politics. Protesters rallied at Chelsea Manning plaza, where they heard from a number of local musicians and activists speaking out about a range of issues, from the global environmental crisis to the war in Iraq, "connecting the dots" between their own struggles and the underlying issue of government corruption by big money. The event ended at Union Square where march participants were greeted with a politically charged hip-hop performance and additional speakers tying their fights to the democracy-destroying reality of money in politics.
99Rise Bay Area, who initiated organizing for the march, pulled together a coalition of organizers and speakers from a number groups including MoveOn, Global Exchange, $$$ Out! People In!, Occupy SF, Code Pink, Project Censored, and other local grassroots organizations in the struggle to reclaim democracy for the 99%.
Read More |
March Against Corruption San Francisco 2014
A new state bill that would impose a moratorium on fracking has been introduced as California reels from a record drought. The intention of the bill is to protect California’s air and water from pollution caused by this form of oil and gas extraction. SB 1132 calls for a moratorium on all forms of "extreme well stimulation," including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and acidization until a comprehensive, independent and multi-agency review exploring the economic, environmental and public health impacts is complete.