Judge Rules Against the Postal Service in Lawsuit against Berkeley’s Zoning Overlay

Protections for Civic Center Historic District Remain in Force
San Francisco—(May 14, 2018) Berkeley’s Historic Civic Center District Zoning Overlay was upheld today in United States District Court.

In August of 2016, the United States Department of Justice, acting on behalf of the United States Postal Service, filed a lawsuit against the City of Berkeley seeking injunctive relief against Berkeley’s District Overlay “insofar as it regulates the Berkeley Main Post Office parcel, located at 2000 Allston Way, Berkeley.”

On Monday, Judge William Alsup issued an “Order Setting Forth Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.” Judge Alsup entered judgment in favor of the City of Berkeley, finding that USPS “had established no entitlement to relief on its claims.”

Back in February of 2014, the USPS agreed to sell 2000 Allston Way for $9 million to Hudson McDonald, a developer who intended to convert most of the property to commercial use as, for example, a Target store.

And also in September 2014, the council passed the Civic Center District Overlay. The Overlay restricted the entire Civic Center Historic District — including the post office — to civic, nonprofit, cultural, and other similar uses. By restricting the kinds of activities in the Civic Center, the Zoning Overlay is designed to preserve the integrity of the area and protect its cultural and historical heritage.

The objection of the Postal Service to the Zoning Overlay was that 2000 Allston Way might command a lower price in the market with use restrictions in place.

The ruling in federal court upholding the District Overlay is cause for celebration. It is an important victory in the fight to preserve Berkeley’s historic Civic Center District and in the effort to preserve historic downtown post offices.

The Department of Justice argued the USPS case with DOJ attorneys who were flown in from Washington DC. We are grateful to the attorneys who successfully represented Berkeley: Andrew W. Schwartz of Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger LLP and Berkeley City Attorney Farimah F. Brown and her deputy attorneys.

The successful legal defense of the Zoning Overlay was only possible because of the steadfast leadership of the Mayor and City Council. Special recognition is owed to Jesse Arreguin, Linda Maio, Susan Wengraf and Kriss Worthington who have been working on this since 2012 when USPS first proposed selling the Berkeley Main Post Office.

And thanks are owed to each of you as part of the Berkeley community that attended numerous hearings and made clear to everyone that preserving the character of Berkeley’s Historic Civic Center is an issue that matters to us.

What happens now? USPS may decide to appeal the ruling. Or USPS could reconsider its decision to dispose of the building, recognize the value of the facility and location and bring back some services. Or USPS could go forward with its plan to dispose of the building, lease back a portion for retail sales, and find a purchaser consistent with the Zoning Overlay. In 2014, USPS walked away from ongoing talks to craft an historic preservation covenant for 2000 Allston Way. That action by USPS led to a suit by the City of Berkeley and the National Trust for Historic Preservation alleging violations of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). That suit was declared moot when USPS asserted they no longer intended to sell 2000 Allston Way. A sale of 2000 Allston Way that conformed with the Zoning Overlay but did not include an adequate historic preservation covenant could result in a refiling of the 2014 suit.

Read the US District Court decision in USPS v Berkeley

Read Maria Dinzeo’s article in Courthouse News: “Judge Finds No Issue in Bid to Block Sale of Historic Post Office

UPDATES for TODAY, May 16, 2018 ~ Note time change in “No Justice No Deal” Meeting (from Adrienne Fong)

Please come out to show our RESISTANCE and OUTRAGE!

Protest Against Israel!

Ehud Barak Not Welcome in SF!

TODAY!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

6:00pm – 8:00pm 

JCCSF

3200 California (at Presidio Ave.)

San Francisco

SF Muni lines #1, #2, #3, #43

Or take #38 and get off on Masonic & Geary and walk over 4 blocks

Former Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak will be in San Francisco. Barak has played an instrumental role in fragmenting the Palestinian people and was a general for the Israeli army during 1980’s. Join us to protest outside of his event, he is not welcome here!

Endorsed by several groups

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/527687277626386/

Sixty-one people were either killed or died of wounds inflicted by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip on Monday and Tuesday.

 Listed at the site below are the names of 58: 

Gaza Killings: Names and Faces of Those Killed by Israeli Forces This Week

Eight-month-old Laila is youngest Palestinian killed in Gaza on Monday, the deadliest day since 2014 war.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/05/15/gaza-killings-names-and-faces-those-killed-israeli-forces-week

From left: Ahmed Alrantisi, Laila Anwar Al-Ghandoor, Ahmed Altetr, Alaa Alkhatib Ezz el-din Alsamaak, Motassem Abu Louley (Photo: Screengrab)

From left: Ahmed Alrantisi, Laila Anwar Al-Ghandoor, Ahmed Altetr, Alaa Alkhatib Ezz el-din Alsamaak, Motassem Abu Louley

 (Photo: Screengrab)

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

Time change for meeting & agenda:

Strategic Meeting

 “No Justice No Deal” 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

5:30pm – 7:30pm 

St. John’s

1661 15th Street (@ Julian)

San Francisco

Info from Anand:

AGENDA

Goal: Coalition reviews campaign and determines immediate next steps.

5:30—5:45   Attendees arrive and settle in 

5:45—5:50   Welcome 

5:50—6:15   What Happened?

Review of campaign goals and accomplishments 

6:15—6:30   What Now?

Discuss immediate next steps

·       Public comment

·       DHR letter

6:30—7:15   What Next?

                   Discuss opportunities for campaign transition

·       Ballot measure to address POA’s interest arbitration power

·       “No on H” campaign

·       Sustained police reform coalition

·       Advocacy re: Police Chief/Commissioners

·       Supporting state legislation

·       Hiring more officers/Defund SFPD

·       Oakland police contract 

7:15—7:30   Action steps and close 

·       Two articles that might be of interest: 

1. SF supervisors reject 2 Police Commission nominations, freezing the panel (May 15, 2018)

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/SF-supervisors-reject-2-Police-Commission-12917674.php

2. SF mayor proposes hiring hundreds of new police officers (May 15, 2018)

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/SF-mayor-proposes-hiring-hundreds-of-new-police-12914231.php#photo-15554817

No, You Can’t Sell Our Post Office and Put Up a Parking Lot! We Win!

Posted on  by 

It’s true! A Federal Court just ruled it so!

On May 14th, 2018, Federal District Judge William Alsup issued a decision saying that Berkeley’s Zoning Ordinance, restricting the area around its Civic Center from being used for commercial purposes, is constitutional as it applies to whomever might want to buy the downtown Post Office (Berkeley’s downtown Post Office, at Milvia & Allston, is part of that Civic Center area).

The Postal Service contended that such a restriction, even though it imposed no constraint on the use of the building by the Post Office (since it is a Federal Agency it is not affected by local zoning regulations) was still an unconstitutional usurpation of Federal rights in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. They also contended that the Zoning Ordinance violated the Congressional legislation that created the current Postal Service, which gives USPS the right to manage and dispose of its property – this because it put de facto restrictions on who might be interested in buying the property, reducing the value of the property (as it turns out, by about 40%) since it could not be used for commercial or residential purposes once sold to a private interest. However, as Judge Alsup concludes:

the USPS has not carried its burden to prove that either intergovernmental immunity or conflict preemption renders the Overlay unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause. It has therefore established no entitlement to relief on its claims. Accordingly, judgment will be entered in favor of the City.

Ding!

In 2012 the Postal Service first evinced interest in selling Berkeley’s beautiful, 100 year old, historically and architecturally significant downtown Post Office and moving services elsewhere. By 2013 fierce local opposition to the sale had arisen (e.g. Those Damned Hippies. They’re Saving the Post Office.), and activists floated the idea of rezoning the downtown Historic District, which included the Post Office, to preclude commercial uses. The idea behind this was that it would help protect all the buildings in the District (such as Old City Hall) from being sold off and razed. It would make it less attractive for the Postal Service to sell its property, since it would command a lesser price. And it would, hopefully, encourage the Postal Service to maintain services at the existing location – right smack in the middle of downtown Berkeley and one block from BART.

In 2014 the Berkeley City Council passed the rezoning ordinance, and it went into effect just before the Postal Service announced a prospective buyer, who a month or two later dropped out of purchase negotiations.

In late 2014 the City of Berkeley sued the Postal Service, claiming it had violated or failed to adhere to various procedural and regulatory requirements before a sale could take place. The lawsuit came before the very same Judge Alsup who issued this ruling. However, in early 2015, the Postal Service testified in court that the downtown Berkeley Post Office was “no longer for sale” and on that basis Alsup ruled the lawsuit moot.

There the matter rested for more than a year until the Postal Service filed its lawsuit against Berkeley in August, 2016. Over the course of 2017 and into 2018 the legal battle was waged in Judge Alsup’s courtroom in San Francisco, with oral arguments ultimately being presented on April 3rd, 2018.

From the beginning, Judge Alsup seemed skeptical of the Postal Service’s arguments. In fact, during one hearing on summary judgement, Judge Alsup barely engaged the City of Berkeley’s attorney, instead grilling the Postal Service’s Department of Justice attorney over and over for the better part of an hour.

This skepticism is perhaps reflected in his ruling, as evidenced by a few excerpts below:

Of course, every “historic district” – or any other discrete area – has to stop somewhere. Its boundaries must end on some block or street. It is nothing more than a truism that any regulation purporting to govern a specific area will affect properties right up to the boundaries of that area but not the properties immediately beyond. The USPS’s protestations about this simple fact do nothing to advance its case.

 

Under the USPS’s theory, it would be virtually impossible to impose any local regulation – no matter how objectively or sincerely neutral – on a group of constituents that happened to include the federal government or those with whom it deals, because any deviation in the infinite potential actions and decisions of said constituents might cause the federal government or those with whom it deals to feel the impact of the regulation more keenly than their neighbor and thus violate intergovernmental immunity. Again, the USPS has provided no authority or argument to justify such a sweeping theory.

 

 

The USPS’s own national Manager of Real Estate and Assets admitted that the Overlay does not prevent the USPS from selling the post office… To repeat, the Overlay does not prevent the USPS from selling the post office…

Throughout this litigation, the USPS has repeatedly affirmed it “does not theorize that any interference in the government’s efforts to sell property, even material interference, would be preempted . . . [r]ather, the USPS’s theory is that the particular interference caused by the Overlay is so potent as to be effectively equivalent to a total frustration of the USPS’s ability to dispose of its property” – in other words, that it “effectively bans the sale of the post office” That remains the theory the USPS must prove. Yet it has failed to do so.

It’s true that the Postal Service can still sell the property (for about $6M or $7M instead of $10M) if it so chooses, and of course it can appeal the decision.

Nonetheless THIS IS A HUGE VICTORY FOR THE PEOPLE AND THE CITY OF BERKELEY. For six years, we stood united against the Postal Service’s designs to cut services, ignore history, and refuse to listen to the needs of Berkeley residents. And, nationally, it galvanized the fight against some politicians’ and Postal Service administrators’ goal of privatizing the entire enterprise.

From homeless activists to politicians, from preservationists to progressives to Occupy activists, we used every tool available: rallies, encampments on the Post Office steps (see, e.g., Occupation outside Downtown Berkeley post office ends after 17 months and Berkeley post office protesters defy order to move), lawsuits, political pressure and legislation. Through it all the people of Berkeley hung together. The result is after six years the downtown Berkeley Post Office still stands, it still serves customers, and perhaps, just perhaps, the fight has made a few bureaucrats ponder as they fall asleep at night whether it was really the best idea to mess with Berkeley.

From Venezuela 🇻🇪 a Call for Democracy

Dear Earth Citizen, 

The World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index rated Venezuela as having the worst rule of law in the world. It is a country in chaos and where Democracy Earth Foundation will be placing intensive focus in the coming months.

In the face of the regime’s widely condemned snap election planned for May 20 we launch the #VzlaProponeCambio (Venezuela Proposes Change) initiative, in collaboration with human rights and Venezuelan citizen activists, to provide Venezuelans with new ways to raise their voices in the fight for democracy. Read a message from the team here (English | Spanish).

Sovereign Pilot in Venezuela

As a political action, #VzlaProponeCambio is both autonomous and inclusive – by Venezuelans, for Venezuelans, to be heard inside the country as well as internationally. To provide new democratic governance alternatives for Venezuela beyond today’s corrupted political-electoral conjuncture gets at the core of the Democracy Earth mission. In doing so, we are creating spaces for the consensus of ideas and the consolidation of proposals, and fighting for a free Venezuela. Stay updated on the  #VzlaProponeCambio website and stay tuned for more information on how to participate and follow this initiative.

Development Update

A Hack Weekend brought the extended team of European coders together in Paris mid-month; we’re proud to announce that momentum since then has produced a working dAPP and massive updates to our v1.0 initial release with greatly improved scalability. We deployed a Blockstack login, activated a jurisdiction feature as well as an agora feature with mobile editor, and more. We encourage you to visit the alpha test web app at vote.democracy.earth, experiment with the Twitter-like interface, make a proposal, place a vote…or just leave your feedback in the timeline.

 
We hope you enjoy this sneak peak of the work from our extraordinary open source UI/UX design team leaning into the challenge of coding the blockchain app onboarding experience in a decentralized world where the user is the customer instead of the product.

Token Pre-Sale and ICO

With the pace of our planned pilot studies and deployments, we will be giving ourselves an additional month to test and develop Smart Contracts, therefore the public token sale is now targeted for July-August timeframe, with a multi-country founder’s tour announced prior. Sign up for notifications of the DEF ICO Founder’s Tour and regular updates on other DEF happenings.

The pre-sale  will remain open until the cap is reached. Verified accredited investors can start the pre-sale SAFT execution process; and a review copy of the SAFT can be found here. As a reminder: although the pre-sale is open to CoinList-verified accredited global investors (excluding NY and China) the public token sale will be open to all. Join our Telegram ICO Group to chat directly with a cofounder.

Democracy Earth Around the World 🇺🇸🇨🇦🇵🇪🇧🇪🇬🇧

Next 🇳🇴🇧🇷🇲🇽🇦🇷🇮🇹🇮🇱 

  • We’re headed to the Human Rights Foundation’s Oslo Freedom Forum later this month
  • Paula Berman will teach an online course on Blockchain in the Public Sector.
  • Eduardo Medina will represent DEF throughout Latin America, speaking at events in Guadalajara and Mexico City, and attending ETHBuenosAires – check our Facebook Events page for details.
  • Alex Jupiter will present Sovereign in the GovTech Pioneers pitchfest in Vienna.
  • Santi Siri will be visiting Israel in late May.

DEF Ambassadors Program

We welcomed three new Ambassadors since our last newsletter: Hannah Wolfman-Jones is raising awareness of liquid democracy in the greater Chicago 🇺🇸 area, Justin Graside who heads the Partido Digital Uruguay 🇺🇾; and Andrew Chambers of Perth 🇦🇺, a demtech activist of more than 35 years. Stay tuned for more ambassador announcements and important program developments soon!

Listen Up! Podcasts

Thank you for reading – follow us on Medium for some exciting announcements very soon! Thank you as always for being part of the Democracy Earth community.

Democracy Earth Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in San Francisco, California. Democracy.EarthOn twitter.
Donate: opencollective.com/democracyearth
BTC Support:

Our mailing address is:

Democracy Earth Foundation

3450 Sacramento St.
#349

San FranciscoCA 94118

“On Disobedience and Other Essays” by Erich Fromm

On Disobedience and Other EssaysOn Disobedience and Other Essays by Erich Fromm

“Indeed, freedom and the capacity for disobedience are inseparable; hence any social, political, and religious system which proclaims freedom, yet stamps out disobedience, cannot speak the truth.”
― Erich FrommOn Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying No to Power

“Capitalism puts things (capital) higher than life (labor). Power follows from possession, not from activity.”
― Erich FrommOn Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying No to Power

“The supreme principle of socialism is that man takes precedence over things, life over property, and hence, work over capital; that power follows creation, and not possession; that man must not be governed by circumstances, but circumstances must be governed by man.”
― Erich FrommOn Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying No to Power

“For centuries kings, priests, feudal lords, industrial bosses and parents have insisted that obedience is a virtue and that disobedience is a vice.”
― Erich FrommOn Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying No to Power

“We are poor in spite of all our wealth because we have much, but we are little.’ As a result, the average man feels insecure, lonely, depressed, and suffers from a lack of joy in the midst of plenty. Life does not make sense to him; he is dimly aware that the meaning of life cannot lie in being nothing but a ‘consumer.’ He could not stand the joylessness and meaninglessness of life were it not for the fact that the system offers him innumerable avenues of escape, ranging from television to tranquilizers, which permit him to forget that he is losing more and more of all that is valuable in life.”
― Erich FrommOn Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying No to Power

“If a man can only obey and not disobey, he is a slave; if he can only disobey and not obey, he is a rebel (not a revolutionary); he acts out of anger, disappointment, resentment, yet not in the name of a conviction or a principle.

Obedience to a person, institution or power (heteronomous obedience) is submission; it implies the abdication of my autonomy and the acceptance of a foreign will or judgment in place of my own. Obedience to my own reason or conviction (autonomous obedience) is not an act of submission but one of affirmation. My conviction and my judgment, if authentically mine, are part of me. If I follow them rather than the judgment of others, I am being myself;(p. 6)

In order to disobey, one must have the courage to be alone, to err and to sin.

…; hence any social, political, and religious system which proclaims freedom, yet stamps out disobedience, cannot speak the truth.(p. 8)

At this point in history the capacity to doubt, to criticize and to disobey may be all that stands between a future for mankind and the end of civilization. (p. 10)It is the function of the prophet to show reality, to show alternatives and to protest; it is his function to call loudly, to awake man from his customary half-slumber. It is the historical situation which makes prophets, not the wish of some men to be prophets. (p. 12)

Disobedience, then, in the sense in which we use it here, is an act of the affirmation of reason and will. It is not primarily an attitude directed against something, but for something: for man’s capacity to see, to say what he sees, and to refuse to say what he does not see (p. 17)

That which was the greatest criticism of socialism fifty years ago—that it would lead to uniformity, bureaucratization, centralization, and a soulless materialism—is a reality of today’s capitalism.
(p. 31)

Man, instead of being the master of the machines he has built, has become their servant. But man is not made to be a thing, and with all the satisfactions of consumption, the life forces in man cannot be held in abeyance continuously. We have only one choice, and that is mastering the machine again, making production into a means and not an end, using it for the unfolding of man—or else the suppressed life energies will manifest themselves in chaotic and destructive forms. Man will want to destroy life rather than die of boredom. (p. 32)

The supreme loyalty of man must be to the human race and to the moral principles of humanism.
(p. 38)

The individual must be protected from fear and the need to submit to anyone’s coercion. (p. 42)

Not only in the sphere of political decisions, but with regard to all decisions and arrangements, the grip of the bureaucracy must be broken in order to restore freedom. (p. 42)

According to its basic principles, the aim of socialism is the abolition of national sovereignty, the abolition of any kind of armed forces, and the establishment of a commonwealth of nations. (p. 43)

It is exactly the weakness of contemporary society that it offers no ideals, that it demands no faith, that it has no vision—except that of more of the same. (p. 49)

Socialism must be radical. To be radical is to go to the roots; and the root is Man. (p. 49)”
― Erich FrommOn Disobedience and Other Essays

UPDATES ~ ANNOUNCEMENTS for Monday 5/14 – Wednesday 5/16 + Weekly and Monthly Events (from Adrienne Fong)

This will be the LAST  announcement  for awhile – unless there is an emergency action. Please encourage groups you are involved in to post events on Indybay. Not everyone has access to facebook. 

Check Indybay for other events: https://www.indybay.org/calendar/

Listed are a few announcements for this week and a section for WEEKLY and MONTHLY events. 

UPDATES: 

A. Former SF Police Commission President Julius Turman dead at 52 (May 13, 2018)

https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Former-SF-Police-Commission-President-Julius-12911359.php 

BSF supervisors to question executives on botched Hunters Point soil cleanup May 13, 2018

   https://m.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/SF-supervisors-to-question-executives-on-botched-12911104.php?t=68b6407114    

   See item # 2 

C. Advocates worry Hunters Point Shipyard cleanup woes extend to Treasure Island (May 13, 2018)

http://www.sfexaminer.com/advocates-worry-hunters-point-shipyard-cleanup-woes-extend-treasure-island/ 

D. Death Toll for Gaza’s March of Return Keeps Rising, Call for International Protection (May 11, 2018)

https://therealnews.com/stories/death-toll-for-gazas-march-of-return-keeps-rising-call-for-international-protection

   See items # 6 and 8

E. This is What They Don’t Want You To Know About Syria: Eva Bartlett on Dan Dicks’ Press For Truth

https://ingaza.wordpress.com/category/media-lies/ 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Monday, May 14 – Wednesday May 16 

Monday, May 14 

1. Monday, 11:00am  5:00pm, Justice for Sahleem Tindle Rally & March

Meet at:

Alameda County Courthouse (Rene C. Davidson Courthouse)
1225 Fallon St.
Oakland

11:00am Rally

11:30am

  Address the inhumane justice system;

  Children speakers

1:30pm March to 2040 Webster St. (Where BART Board meeting is held)

2:30pm Dedication: Life and Spirit of Sahleem Tindle

4:00pm BART Board & Police Commission Meeting

The Sahleem Tindle family continues to fight for #Justice4Sahleem and demand that #OMalleyChargeMateu with murder. Joseph Mateu is the BART police officer who murdered Sahleem Tindle across from the West Oakland BART station on January 3, 2018. Despite clear video proof that Sahleem was not holding a weapon and was shot in the back, no charges have yet been filed against Mateu. In fact the BART Police Chief is considering Mateu for a promotion.

Sponsors: Love Not Blood Campaign Anti Police-Terror ProjectHebrew Cultural Community

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1073083472844935/ 

2. Monday, 12:30pm – 4:00pm, Public Hearing! On Massive Fraud at Shipyard Superfund Site! 

Land Use and Transportation Committee hearing
SF City Hall
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl.
SF

12:30pm – Press Conference

 1:30pm –  Public Hearing

Residents demand a full cleanup of radioactive and toxic contamination, and will hold government officials and corporations accountable for the cover-up, fraud, and botched cleanup of the site.

At 12:30pm we will gather on the footsteps of the SF City Hall to hold corporations and government agencies ACCOUNTABLE for the fraudulent cleanup of the Hunters Point Superfund site at the SF Board of Supervisors public hearing!

WHAT?
After years of ignoring the well documented allegations of fraud and improper cleanup of the radioactive and toxic contaminated Hunters Point Naval Shipyard Superfund site, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will be holding a long overdue public hearing on this issue.

WHY?
Billions of taxpayer dollars were spent on the cleanup and today, city, state and federal agencies all agree that evidence indicates Tetra Tech may have committed massive fraud on a unprecedented scale. This is one of the most contaminated sites in the nation and it poses a thread not only to the communities of BVHP, but to the entire Bay Area. 

Join communities and environmental groups in voicing the following demands:

1.) We want a comprehensive sampling/testing of the entire Shipyard site including parcels that have been transferred to the City and Lennar/Five Point. Testing must be conducted with independent community oversight.

2.) We demand a thorough and comprehensive clean-up of the radioactive and toxic waste to prevent contamination from entering our community and the Bay, and address the threat to the contamination site due to rising sea levels as a result of climate change.

3.) End plans to build homes at the Shipyard due to the widespread contamination and due to the government’s reckless plan to leave large amounts of radioactive and toxic contamination at the site.

We want agencies and officials to hear our voices. Bring your comments, bring your signs, posters and voices to help amplify our demands. #JusticeForBVHP

Call (415) 447-3904
E-mail greenaction@greenaction.org
Website www.greenaction.org

Sponsor: Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/167267203960449/ 

3. Monday, 2:00pm – 7:00pm, Nonviolent Moral Fusion Direct Action Sacramento – Rally & Demonstration 

California State Capitol
1315 10th Street
Sacramento

PLEASE RSVP AT THIS LINK IF YOU ARE COMING:
http://bit.ly/may14sacramento

California is one of over 30 states across the country and in Washington, DC heading to their state capitals on May 14 to force a serious national examination of the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation and the war economy.

This is the first of six weeks of nonviolent moral fusion direct action across the country to show our elected leaders we will no longer allow attention violence to keep poor and disenfranchised people down.

The first week’s theme is “Somebody’s Hurting Our People: Child poverty, Women, and People with Disabilities, and Public Education 

Schedule for Upcoming Bay Area Poor People’s Campaign

https://www.facebook.com/pg/californiappc/events/ 

Sponsor: California Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/424482201334761/

4. Monday, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police and Punish the Poor 

The Green Arcade
1680 Market St.
SF

In Automating Inequality, Virginia Eubanks systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America. The book is full of heart-wrenching and eye-opening stories, from a woman in Indiana whose benefits are literally cut off as she lays dying to a family in Pennsylvania in daily fear of losing their daughter because they fit a certain statistical profile. A conversation will follow between the author andJennifer Friedenbach, Executive Director of Coalition on Homelessness, facilitated by Leslie Dreyer of the Housing Rights Committee which co-sponsors the event.

Virginia Eubanks is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY. She is also the author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age. Her writing about technology and social justice has appeared in The American Prospect, The Nation, Harper’s and Wired. For two decades, Eubanks has worked in community technology and economic justice movements.

Info: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/05/07/18809012.php

5. Monday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Real Climate Leadership: How California Can Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground 

Scottish Rite Center
1547 Lakeside Dr.
Oakland

Tickets must be purchased in advance: https://actionnetwork.org/ticketed_events/real-climate-leadership

Hear Bill McKibbenPennie Opal PlantAntonia Juhasz, and Juan Flores in a panel discussion on how California can go fossil free and set the standard for real climate leadership.

Doors will open at 6:15, with the program starting at 7:00 sharp.

For more event information:
https://350.org/may14/

Info: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/05/11/18809118.php

Tuesday, May 15 

6. Tuesday, 4:00pm – 7:00pm, Rally to Commemorate the Day of the Nakba

Israeli Consulate – San Francisco
456 Montgomery St.
SF

On the streets to rally and protest 70 years of Israeli occupation. The Bay Area says no to occupation, no to war, and no to Zionism from here to our homelands.

Sponsor: Palestine Action Network

Info / List of endorsers: https://www.facebook.com/events/166843127350157/

7. Tuesday, 4:30pm – 6:30pm, Grill Your Government – BBQ at City Hall

Oscar Grant Plaza
Oakland

The recent incident that took place at Lake Merritt surrounding charcoal grilling is not only an example of how the police are used to control African Americans, it also exemplifies the growing tensions for how Black Oakland experiences a changing city.

Join us in solidarity to protect Black Oakland and to push elected officials to do something about the abuse of city resources. We don’t want more meetings, forums or empty gestures – we want action so this doesn’t happen again.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/165861237418208/

Wednesday, May 16

8. Wednesday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Protest Against Israel! Ehud Barak Not Welcome in SF!

JCCSF
3200 California (at Presidio Ave.)
SF

SF Muni lines #1, #2, #3, #43

Former Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak will be in San Francisco. Barak has played an instrumental role in fragmenting the Palestinian people and was a general for the Israeli army during 1980’s. Join us to protest outside of his event, he is not welcome here!

Endorsed by several groups

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/527687277626386/

Wednesday, 6:00pm, Strategic Meeting for “No Justice No Deal” 

St. John’s
1661 15th Street (@ Julian)
SF

Info from Anand:

The goal of the meeting will be to assess the campaign thus far and determine next steps.

ICYMI, the Chronicle published a short piece on the contract: https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Arbitration-board-rules-against-effort-to-speed-12889842.php

I posted a short Twitter thread with some reflections, in case you’re curious. 

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Weekly Events

Thursday’s, 3:00pm, Food Not Bombs –San Francisco

For information or to volunteer:  send email to sffnbvolunteers@riseup.net.

Cookhouse:  Station 40, 3030B 16th Street (between Mission and Julian).

Food Pickups: Help Needed!

Cooking:  3030B 16th Street–3:00 pm to 6:00 pm–Ring doorbell for entry–Help Needed!

Sharing: 16th and Mission BART Plaza — 6:00 pm–Help Needed!

Cleaning Up:  3030B 16th Street–after Cooking–6:00 pm – 8:00 pm–Help Needed!

Friday’s, 12Noon – 2:00pm, Mothers on the March Against Police Murders 

Hall of Justice
850 Bryant St.
SF

Please join us to demand that DA George Gascon charge police officers with murder!

Friday’s, Melt ICE with UNITE HERE Local 2! 

ICE
630 Sansome St.
SF

All are welcomed to stand with Local 2 members in support of immigrants and against deportations!

Check 415-864-8770 ext 733 to be sure that they will be present.

Monthly Events 

The 7th of each month, 10:00am – 11:00am  – Celebration of the Life of Luis Góngora Pat.

Alter site:

Shotwell & 19th Streets
SF

Stand with Luis’s family and the community each month on the monthly anniversary of Luis’s murder by the SFPD. Check FB site near the date for

Updates and details. All are welcomed

The family is still waiting for DA Gascon to charge the killer cops who murdered Luis.

Civil trial will not be until April 30, 2018

FB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/230409604013458/

The 21st of each month, 6:00pm – 7:00pm Stand with Alex Nieto’s parents, Elvira and Refugio Nieto 

Bernal Hill
SF

SF MUNI Bus line  # 67 stops within a short walking distance to the site where Alex was shot at 59 times by SFPD in March of 2014.

Join Elvira and Refugio each month. All are welcomed.

Book: “The New Human Rights Movement”

The New Human Rights Movement: Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression

The New Human Rights Movement: Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression

by Peter Joseph

Society is broken. We can design our way to a better one.

In our interconnected world, self-interest and social-interest are rapidly becoming indistinguishable. If current negative trajectories remain, including growing climate destabilization, biodiversity loss, and economic inequality, an impending future of ecological collapse and societal destabilization will make “personal success” virtually meaningless. Yet our broken social system incentivizes behavior that will only make our problems worse. If true human rights progress is to be achieved today, it is time we dig deeper—rethinking the very foundation of our social system.

In this engaging, important work, Peter Joseph, founder of the world’s largest grassroots social movement—The Zeitgeist Movement—draws from economics, history, philosophy, and modern public-health research to present a bold case for rethinking activism in the 21st century.

Arguing against the long-standing narrative of universal scarcity and other pervasive myths that defend the current state of affairs, The New Human Rights Movement illuminates the structural causes of poverty, social oppression, and the ongoing degradation of public health, and ultimately presents the case for an updated economic approach. Joseph explores the potential of this grand shift and how we can design our way to a world where the human family has become truly sustainable.

The New Human Rights Movement reveals the critical importance of a unified activism working to overcome the inherent injustice of our system. This book warns against what is in store if we continue to ignore the flaws of our socioeconomic approach, while also revealing the bright and expansive future possible if we succeed.

Will you join the movement?

(Goodreads.com)

New Polls Show Anti-Trump Isn’t Enough to Beat GOP

Recent survey data bolsters concerns that Democrats’ feeble partisan maneuvers are ill-suited to ousting the Republicans from power

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif, speaks in Berryville, Va., Monday, July 24, 2017, to unveil the Democrats new agenda. From letf are, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y. (Photo: AP/Cliff Owen)

 

With six months to go before the midterm election, new national polls are showing that the Democratic Party’s much-touted momentum to gain control of the House has stalled out. The latest numbers tell us a lot about the limits of denouncing Donald Trump without offering much more than a return to the old status quo.

Under the headline “Democrats’ 2018 Advantage Is Nearly Gone,” CNN reportedWednesday that nationwide polling found “the generic congressional ballot has continued to tighten” —“with the Democrats’ edge over Republicans within the poll’s margin of sampling error for the first time this cycle.”

With so many gerrymandered districts as well as widespread voter-ID laws and other GOP-engineered voter suppression, Democrats will need a substantial margin in vote totals to prevent Republicans from retaining a majority in the House of Representatives. (The prospects are worse in the Senate, where Democrats are defending a lopsided number of seats this year.)

“The Democratic Party is still dominated by elected officials and power brokers who appear to be deeply worried that a future progressive upsurge of political engagement could loosen—or even end—their corporate-funded grip on the party.”

While “47 percent of registered voters say they back the Democratic candidate in their district, 44 percent back the Republican,” according to CNN. “Voters also are divided almost evenly over whether the country would be better off with the Democrats in control of Congress (31 percent) or with the GOP in charge (30 percent). A sizable 34 percent—including nearly half of independent voters (48 percent)—say it doesn’t matter which party controls Congress.”

The CNN survey comes on the heels of other grim national polling. Released last week, a Reuters poll concluded that “enthusiasm for the Democratic Party is waning among millennials.”

“The online survey of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 shows their support for Democrats over Republicans for Congress slipped by about 9 percentage points over the past two years, to 46 percent overall,” Reuters reported. “And they increasingly say the Republican Party is a better steward of the economy.”

Young people overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders during his 2016 campaign for president. With their votes in Democratic Party primaries and caucuses two years ago, the young showed that they want truth about the destructive effects of corporate power—and forceful action against its manifestations, whether economic injustice or climate change.

Overall, the latest generation of adults is negative about the demagogue in the White House. But most Democratic leaders aren’t offering a clear and compelling alternative. As Reuters put it, “Although nearly two of three young voters polled said they do not like Republican President Donald Trump, their distaste for him does not necessarily extend to all Republicans or translate directly into votes for Democratic congressional candidates.”

Six months ago, the independent report—titled Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisispointed out that young people “increasingly want politics to be for something profoundly positive rather than just against Republicans.” As a member of the task force that worked on the report, I was struck by how the top echelon of the Democratic Party keeps trying to insulate itself from—and fend off— the tremendous energy that mobilized behind Sanders during the primaries.

In short, the Democratic Party is still dominated by elected officials and power brokers who appear to be deeply worried that a future progressive upsurge of political engagement could loosen—or even end—their corporate-funded grip on the party. As the Autopsy report said, “Emerging sectors of the electorate are compelling the Democratic Party to come to terms with adamant grassroots rejection of economic injustice, institutionalized racism, gender inequality, environmental destruction and corporate domination. Siding with the people who constitute the base isn’t truly possible when party leaders seem to be afraid of them.”

The Sanders campaign was “mostly propelled by millennials,” the report noted, and the campaign “turned what conventional wisdom had pegged as an obscure, 2-percent campaign into a photo finish with the establishment’s preferred candidate. Once the nomination was settled, much of this grassroots energy dissipated as the Clinton campaign declined to adopt positions like single-payer health care and free public college that resonated with young voters.”

Those kinds of positions have gained some traction in the aftermath of 2016, but they still have a steep climb in the hidebound upper reaches of Democratic Party power. For the people atop the party, it’s so much easier and more comfortable to selectively denounce Trump—while opposing genuinely progressive agendas that would really challenge income inequality or take aim at the warfare state’s bloated budget or cross up the big donors who funnel vast quantities of money into the party.

With the world facing the dual threats of climate change and nuclear holocaust, it’s no exaggeration when Noam Chomsky describes the present-day Republican Party as “the most dangerous organization in human history.” The latest national polling reflects the reality that Democrats’ feeble partisan maneuvers are ill-suited to ousting the Republicans from power. Methodical grassroots organizing will be necessary—to bring down the GOP’s deranged leadership, and to defeat the forces of corporate power and militarism that continue to hold sway at the top of the Democratic Party.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

 

Netanyahu Begins Calling For Israeli Return To Ancient Homeland Of Iran

May 10, 2018 (theonion.com)

JERUSALEM—Declaring that it was long past time for his people to live once again on their ancestral soil, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly began calling Thursday for the Israeli return to their ancient homeland of Iran. “The land of Iran has long been part of our heritage, and we implore the international community to work with us to ensure its return to the independent Jewish state,” said Netanyahu, adding that Israel was willing to use military force if necessary to reoccupy all 636,400 square miles of present-day Iran that were historically included in the promised land bestowed upon the Jewish people by biblical mandate. “The so-called Islamic cities of Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, and dozens of others were founded on what were once ancient Jewish kingdoms, not to mention how many of our most sacred sites Iran currently occupies, including the Imam Reza Holy Shrine, the Jamkaran Mosque, and the Zoroastrian Fire Temple of Chak-Chak. In fact, Iran is home to the highest concentration of Judaic ancient holy sites anywhere in the world outside of Mecca, Lumbini, and Vatican City. We demand that the Jewish people be permitted to return to ruling our ancestral Persian homelands.” At press time, Netanyahu had approved plans to begin construction on a large Israeli settlement in downtown Tehran.

Vote your values with your dollars: Support an SF public bank

May 7, 2018 (SFChronicle.com)


Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle

Almost every dollar the city of San Francisco has is stored on the balance sheet of a big bank: more than $10 billion of city money at Citibank, US Bank and Bank of America. These banking decisions are made by the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector, and ultimately, by elected Treasurer Jose Cisneros.

We should organize San Francisco to prioritize supporting local financial institutions over big banks — some of the least ethical corporations in the United States. Almost every dollar the city of San Francisco has is stored on the balance sheet of a big bank: more than $10 billion of city money at Citibank, US Bank and Bank of America. These banking decisions are made by the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector, and ultimately, by elected Treasurer Jose Cisneros.

The San Francisco Treasurer’s Office recently launched the Municipal Bank Feasibility Task Force to explore whether the city should form its own public bank. That might make sense as an option for ensuring that our dollars stay local and go toward ethical ends. There already are indications from presentations and conversations that the task force is backpedaling from a public bank structure and instead considering half measures, such as a revolving loan fund. Such a fund — instead of a public bank — wouldn’t begin to leverage the power of San Francisco’s public funds. It would just leave them at big banks.

I work in financial technology to disrupt big banks — a passion that came from graduating from college directly into the 2008 financial crisis. One of the first things I did when I moved to the Bay Area was to vote my dollars against the big banks by choosing a local bank for my banking. Why? Because corporations increasingly are responding to political pressure as consumers vote their values with their dollars.

After two black men in Philadelphia were arrested for sitting in a Starbucks without buying a coffee, people began organizing a boycott. Suddenly, Starbucks is closing all it stores for a day to give its workers implicit bias training. Delta Airlines severed ties with the National Rifle Association in response to a boycott. The #DeleteUber and #DeleteFacebook campaigns are widely seen as having effected positive change at those companies.

Activists point to the role big banks play in financing the extraction and use of fossil fuels, gun purchases, private prisons and defense contractors. These banks also have paid billions of dollars in fines for defrauding customers over the last decade. Bank of America alone has paid at least $68 billion in fines and settlements related to mortgage fraud since the 2008 financial crisis. Wells Fargo’s fraudulent-account scandal is just the most recent — every top five bank has had multiple settlements with California’s attorney general.

Since 2005, the San Francisco treasurer has received national acclaim as a leader in financial empowerment, but nearly every program has brought San Franciscans to big banks as customers:

•Bank on San Francisco created an on-ramp to financial services for the unbanked, providing alternatives to the exorbitant service fees of predatory lenders and paving the way for greater financial stability. The biggest participating banks include Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Union Bank and U.S. Bank.

•Kindergarten-to-college savings accounts, created for every student entering the San Francisco public school system, is a great idea, but every account created adds to deposits at Citibank.

Taken together, these amount to running interference for big banks, not an ethical vision of San Francisco’s relationship to banking.

San Francisco has an obligation to manage public funds to prioritize environmental responsibility, fair labor practices, and affordable housing, among other principles. You, as a San Franciscan, can influence the placement of billions of dollars. It’s your money, so just as I would recommend that you move your personal funds out of a big banks and find a local bank or credit union for your loans and bank accounts, so too should you advocate that the city do the same.

Contact the treasurer’s office today, and request such a change.

Zac Townsend is the former chief data officer of California and a former co-founder of open banking startup Standard Treasury. He is currently a partner at San Francisco firm Deciens Capital, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage financial technology.

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