‘Stunning’: Voting Rights Villain and Trump Sidekick Kris Kobach Refuses to Recuse Himself From Overseeing Recount of His Own Election

“If Kris Kobach wins by 191 votes, guessing he’ll temporarily forget his longstanding concern about massive voter fraud.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was selected by President Donald Trump to head his so-called Election Integrity Commission last year, a panel which was disbanded after failing to find any evidence that the 2016 popular vote results had been compromised by illegal voting. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

 

Once tasked with overseeing the integrity of the United States’ electoral system after spending much of his political career creating obstacles for Americans who want to vote, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach launched his latest attack on elections on Wednesday when he refused to recuse himself from a recount effort in a race he himself ran in.

Kobach was one of seven Republicans to run in the state’s primary for governor on Tuesday. As of Wednesday morning, Kobach led incumbent Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer by just 191 votes after technical difficulties in one county, signaling that a recount could be called.

At the state level, the Secretary of State’s office oversees all elections and recounts. Kobach argued as the close results came in Tuesday night that because officials in Kansas’s 105 counties would coordinate each county’s vote tallying effort, it was not necessary for him to recuse himself from overseeing the overall recount.

“The secretary of state’s office merely serves as a coordinating entity overseeing it all but not actually counting the votes,” the former Kansas GOP chairman said.

Kobach’s refusal drew ire from election experts and other critics.

“It would be good practice even if not required by state law for an election official to recuse from any recount or legal proceedings surrounding his or her own election efforts,” Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, told the Kansas City Star. “A longstanding English and American tradition is that ‘no man should be a judge of his own case.’ That should apply here.”

The election comes eight months after the President’s Election Integrity Commission, which President Donald Trump appointed Kobach to run last year, disbanded after facing multiple legal challenges and failing to prove Trump’s theory that he lost the popular vote in 2016 due to votes being cast illegally.

As the vice chair of the commission—which embraced blatant racism byrequesting Texas officials flag the voter records of residents with Hispanic surnames—Kobach continued a long pattern of using his political power to attack voting rights.

Kobach has championed the Interstate Crosscheck System, a program that compares states’ voter rolls and flags voters with the same name and date of birth in different states, recommending voter purges to states. Earlier this year, a federal judge tossed out a law Kobach had proposed requiring Kansans to prove they were U.S. citizens before voting.

Despite Some Losses for Progressives, ‘Fantastic Night for Centrists’ Framing Misses the Point of What’s Happening Inside Democratic Party

“Bravo for fighting unapologetically for the dignity and economic security of working people. This is only the beginning.”

James Thompson (left), who won the Democratic Party’s primary in Kansas 4th Congressional District on Tuesday, appearing with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a recent campaign rally. (Photo: Twitter/@JamesThompsonKS)

While progressives hoping for tide-shifting victories by progressive insurgents such as Dr. Abdul El-Sayed in Michigan and Cori Bush in Missouri were forced to watch their hopes dashed late Tuesday as their candidates came up short against more moderate rivals, is the real takeaway from the series of Midwestern primaries that it was a “fantastic night for centrist Democrats” or that progressives cannot win running on bold, visionary platforms?

“Wins in the short-term are important milemarkers and necessary to building power.  But you can’t be afraid of loss. Fear keeps people from accomplishing great things.”
—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Because while El-Sayed and Bush did not find pathways to victory against their rivals—the former losing to state Senate leader Gretchen Whitmer (endorsed by both the powerful United Auto Workers union and Emily’s List) in Michigan’s gubernatorial primary and the latter to Congressman Lacy Clay (a 7-term incumbent who inherited the seat from his father) in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District—progressive groups like the Bernie Sanders-inspired Our Revolution and unabashedly progressive Justice Democrats still had numerous other victories of their endorsed candidates to celebrate on Tuesday.

In addition to numerous down-ballot wins, both groups applauded James Thompson in Kansas’ 4th District and Rashida Tlaib in Michigan’s 13th:

In the city of St. Louis, progressive reform candidate for Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell shocked the establishment by ousting longtime Democratic incumbent Bob McCulloch, the man who infamously refused to prosecute the police officer who shot and killed unarmed Michael Brown in 2014:”What we saw last night is that progressive, non-traditional, and first-time candidates like Rashida Tlaib and James Thompson can win at the statewide and federal levels by talking about the issues that matter most to voters–Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage and reducing income and wealth inequality,” said Larry Cohen, Board Chair of Our Revolution. “Like so many of our other endorsed candidates, Rashida and James chose to embrace progressive values rather than play it safe. Their victories and the success of many of our other endorsed candidates shows that when we double down on progressive issues and talk to voters of all races and backgrounds, we can win change for the people.”

So while some were pushing the idea that endorsements and energy provided by Sanders, or the recent visits to Kansas and Michigan by New York congressional candidate and democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proved fruitless, that simply is not accurate:

And even for those progressive insurgents who came up short, it remains clear to many that the energy within the Democratic Party and among prospective voters is squarely with those who—in addition to opposing President Donald Trump and his Republican Party—are shifting their policy agendas to more forcefully address the needs and concerns of working people, the planet, and under-served communities.

In a pair of tweets on Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez said that political defeats are also part of political progress, but that “you can’t be afraid of loss,” because “[f]ear keeps people from accomplishing great things.”

Responding to El-Sayed’s defeat, Lisa Changadveja, the state and local director for MoveOn.org, which had endorsed his candidacy, argued that his loss did nothing to diminish the accomplishments and importance of his campaign.

“The strength of Abdul El-Sayed’s campaign in Michigan has shown the nation what kind of politics is possible when we put the challenges facing students, working people, and people of color front and center in our dialogue,” she said in a statement. “Abdul has activated an entirely new coalition of voters, and brought new people into the political process, both enormous achievements worth celebrating.”

Despite others framing his loss as proof that a less progressive and visionary candidate is the key to future victories, Changadveja emphasized the importance of Democrats and other voters sick and tired of the regressive, hateful, and destructive policies of the Republican Party coming together to regain control of Congress and the nation’s other democratic institutions.

“While Michigan MoveOn members voted to endorse Abdul,” Changadveja concluded, “they also understand the importance of wrestling governors’ mansions across the country away from the grip of reactionary politicians. That’s why we will do everything in our power to elect Gretchen Whitmer as Michigan’s next governor, and end the Republican-led assaults on communities across the state.”

And so while it was a night of ups and downs for those championing the progressive insurgency within the Democratic Party, The Intercept‘s Ryan Grim, David Dayen, and Zaid Jilani note in their detailed accounting of Tuesday’s results that regardless of every victory and loss, it is clear that the “progressive organizing still paid dividends.”

And as many others noted online, these races signify just the start—not the end—of a new progressive movement that is being carried by momentum that is “undeniable.”

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

On the State Theory of Money, Social Power, & Taxes: Modern Money Systems 3

yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - On the State Theory of Money, Social Power, & Taxes: Modern Money Systems 3

The following is part-3 in an open series meant to introduce the basics of modern monetary theory (MMT) and to explore the potential for MMT’s radical model of macroeconomic reality to intersect with revolutionary theory and struggle. In part-1, the basic principles and monetary mechanics of MMT were presented alongside an irresponsibly brief review of money’s evolution from its prehistoric origins to the ongoing failure of orthodox economics to explain how money functions today. Part 2 looked at how MMT re-writes the rules of public spending and how it could be used by the working classes to build radical organizations and fight the power of capital with a self-managed federal job guarantee. And now Part 3 presses on to new territory where, for the first (and probably last) time, engine mechanics and the state theory of money will become relevant to a discussion of one of history’s most exhilarating topics — taxes. (Please, don’t leave)Parts One and Part Two, for those who missed them:

MODERN MONEY SYSTEMS, PART III:
The State Theory of Money, Social Power, & Taxes

In the fogs of economic illiteracy that envelop today’s political debate, there exists the eternal stalemate over how much ought to be taxed from whom to pay for what for whom else under which conditions and why.​ Those preferring a small welfare-state that taxes and spends less stand bitterly opposed to those who prefer a less-small welfare-state taxing and spending more. All of it, of course, is silly and unnecessary because, for sovereign currency-issuers like the US of A, taxes do not fund spendingand the only real constraint on spending is the availability of idle labor and resources. Public healthcare, for example, is not a financial question of funds but a material question of whether definite amounts of labor and resources are available to build clinics, train doctors, and produce medical supplies.

But if monetarily-sovereign governments like those of Japan, Australia, and the US can fund such ambitious programs as a federal job-guaranteeand universal public-healthcare without taxes, the obvious question is — then, why tax at all? Strange as it may seem, it turns out that the value of money depends on taxes….

How Money Gets Its Value & Why Gold Is Just a Yellow Rock

For anyone still using gold doubloons as money, it may seem reasonable to assume that money’s value results from its materials since metals have value apart from any seal of authority. But considering that all major currencies are issued by fiat today, it seems absurd for anyone else to assume so and particularly for the billions who regularly use money made from nothing valuable and backed by even less. Metallism — the notion that money’s value results from its price as a commodity — simply fails to describe any form of money that has actually existed (including the metal ones). The fetish-worshipers of gold and other metals can cry about it all they like but the fact is that bits of paper work as well as (and in many ways better than) electrum, silver, and gold ever did.

A Quick Word About Value: Use-Value & Exchange-Value

One way to pose the question of money’s value is to ask why anyone would exchange things of obvious value — food, tools, labor, etc — for zinc wafers or paper with spooky symbols, numbers, and images of dead rich people on them? Money satisfies neither hunger nor thirst nor any other need in itself. In fact, money’s only use seems to be in exchanging it for other things but that just leads back to the question of why it has value at all. To get a clear idea of how exactly fiat money differs from things of easily-recognized value, it helps to know how use- and exchange-values work.

If something satisfies a need or desire (real or imagined) it is a use-value. Most things people make are use-values. A use-value that is produced for exchange becomes reflected as an exchange-value by the market and both values together form a commodity that turns value into price, expressed in amounts of money. As an example, a pair of shoes is a use-value that satisfies a person’s need to protect her feet and also an exchange-value equal to, say, 2 months of Netflix, 24 AA-batteries, 3 packs of cigarettes, etc. In commodity-exchange, one side takes the shoes as use-value and the other as exchange-value — it is impossible to possess both use- and exchange value at the same time (i.e. nobody can eat cake and still haveit, too).

What makes fiat so weird is that, while the commodities that people are familiar with exist as both a use- and exchange-value, fiat appears only as an exchange-value. And this is too much like a one-sided coin — it just cannot be.

The State Theory of Money

US Dollar Bill, PhotoThe answer to the riddle, as it turns out, is not so much on either side of any coin but printed right across the front of the fiat. Inscribed on all notes denominated in US dollars are the words “this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private,” along with the authorizing seals of the US Department of the Treasury and US Federal Reserve. This tells us a few things –

  • That the US government has the sole authority to issue US dollars
  • That the US government accepts payment in US dollars to settle public debt (taxes, fines, etc)
  • And that private debts under US jurisdiction are legally settled by payment of US dollars

To take part in the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services that forms the basis for society, virtually everyone ends up with debts owed to the government as taxes on income, payroll, and property or other fines, customs, and fees. By fiat — meaning in Latin an official decree or literally ‘let it be done’ — the state imposes these debts periodically on adult citizens, a vast majority of whom pay up with a shrug to avoid the eventual imprisonment. And of course, such debt is only payable with… wait for it — US dollars.

Taxes Drive the Currency

Roman Denarius - chartalism, or the state theory of moneyEffectively, these tax-debts create a base-level of demand for dollars so long as the US has sovereign power to issue and tax its currency. Taxation (or another form of distributed debt, such as tithe or tribute) is what drives demand for a currency. This is corroborated by the historical record, which consistently shows that various forms of money rise and fall with the state-powers that tax them. In a nutshell, the state theory of money (also known as the chartal theory or chartalism) is that it was never about the gold — money was always a creature of the state. Sure, a Roman denarius is still a use-value to museums and it could even still be melted down to sell at current market-prices of silver 2,000 years later — but as a state, Rome is no longer in a position to insist on anyone making payments in denarii and so no one does.

In the end, the only real way to guarantee that any currency will be widely accepted in exchange is to enforce its acceptance with the organized power of the state.

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: MONEY & THE STATE

Say someone hands you a note with “1 dollar” written on it. How valuable would this “dollar” be? Then, say that person returns with a baseball-bat demanding either “1 dollar” or your teeth — the dollar became pretty valuable, didn’t it? But more importantly, the dollar became a use-value — and even more importantly, it became the first and only unit of paper fiat-money in a very tiny hypothetical monetary system. Just replace the person and the bat with the state and the severe penalties it imposes for refusing to settle tax-debts, then multiply the whole scenario by 200 million or so, and presto — money.

Money, Among Other Units of Measure

 

yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 - On the State Theory of Money, Social Power, & Taxes: Modern Money Systems 3In context, the fact of money’s origin in the state is hardly surprising. Few take any issue with the state’s role in setting most of the other official national standards. Is it not the state that typically decrees whether a nation officially uses Metric or Imperial units of weight and measure? And does the state not also declare whether temperature is recorded using the Fahrenheit or centigrade scales, as well as the calendar system used to date said records? Considering how normal it is for states to set everything from units of measure to national birds, official languages, and the whole kaleidoscope of regulatory standards, it almost seems obvious that states would also set the unit of account, aka money.

The Real Function of Taxes

One of the implications of this state theory is that taxation (in one form or another) is a vital, non-negotiable feature of money systems. To get rid of taxes altogether would also get rid of demand for — and thus, the value of— the currency.​ To be clear, this point — that a state’s ability to impose tax-debts is a core component of money systems — does not mean that a state “should” tax its citizens for moral reasons or because it is fair or just, or even reasonable to do so. It means that failing to enforce payment of tax-debts in a currency will result in evaporation of demand for that particular monetary-instrument and the system will literally be toast.​

MMT
On second thought, the value of toast is actually greater than un-taxed fiat currency because toast requires more socially-necessary labor-time to produce than taxless fiat, which is pretty much monopoly money

Punching holes in the bottom of a boat will cause it to sink despite what anyone may think or feel about it because it is buoyancy that keeps vessels afloat, not feelings or opinions — likewise, the fact that taxes drive currency is just part of the operational reality of running a monetary system. If or when it might be ethical to punch holes in boats is probably a great topic for academic debate but, since this post is about how money works and not how to destroy it and because such a debate is clearly not in the interests of those of us on board, let’s leave it to the philosophers.

All that being said — while tax-collection is necessary to maintain a currency’s value, taxes are never needed to fund spending. ‘Taxpayer dollars’ fund nothing and no one’s hard-earned income is shoveled back into the treasury by the IRS — taxes are deleted. Taxes destroy the money that spending creates from nothing — however, the real economy happens in between.

Micro- & Macro-Economic Perspectives

Microeconomics Versus Macroeconomics GraphicTo understand how a money system works, a macro-economic perspective must be adopted. Just as the mechanics of physical matter are different at very large scales — like that of planets and stars, where motion is determined mainly by gravitational forces — and very small scales — like that of subatomic particles, where nuclear forces dominate — the mechanics that rule economies look different at micro- and macro-economic scales.

Spending & Taxation as Inputs & Outputs

Engine's Intake / Exhaust GIF image, analogy of modern money systems, taxes and spending, MMT
As an analogy, consider the engine’s process of intake and exhaust — money is spent into the system to mediate transformations of value until it is ‘exhausted’ and taxed out to make room for fresh intake

Think of all the circulating currency as a system with an input and output — currency is spent into the system and taxed out by the sovereign issuer. The reality is a slightly more complex (for example, the state can also pull money out with treasury bonds, in a way that is similar to taxes) but the principle is simple — the net-total of currency is increased and decreased by the state alone.

  • If equal amounts of money are spent and taxed, the net-total currency doesn’t change
  • If more is spent than taxed, the net-total currency increases
  • If more is taxed than spent, the net-total currency decrease​s

Now — to get a basic idea of how this circulatory system of inputs and outputs works, it helps to understand its limits. In the simplest terms, the system’s capacity is determined by the amounts of actual labor and resources that are available — or, to put it another way, no amount of money can ever cause a factory to be built if there are no building-materials or workers willing to do so. If the system has reached full-capacity already (if labor and resources are fully-employed), then injecting more cash is not only pointless but may lead to unsustainable levels of demand and rising prices — this is where taxes come in handy as an exhaust for pulling out the excess. On the other side, if capacity is not yet reached, then choking the spending-input is a great way to increase unemployment and throw the system into artificial recession.

Resource & Labor Flows

Modern Monetary Theory: Money Circuit, Spending and Taxation Flow, MMTInside the system, circulating currency is moving labor and resources between the different parts of the society, distributing access to the means of producing wealth and to wealth itself. Broadly speaking, resources flow into activity arising from spending and out from taxed activity — this means spending and taxation (aka fiscal policy) function as levers that direct labor- and resource-flows within the system. To shift resources from fossil fuels to renewables, for example, heavy taxes might be levied on oil as new programs are funded to provide living-wages to millions of workers building a new framework for sustainable energy-production.

This can also be used to do awful things, of course — if the goal is to maintain a robust military-industrial complex full of parasitic finance-capitalists, income could be taxed more heavily than capital gains while subsidizing costs for weapons manufacturers. (As in today’s USA). The money system is a tool — it can be used to fix things just as easily as it can be used to beat the daylights out of poor people and sabotage the dawn of a better world.

It all comes down to whom is driving.

Taxation & Questions of Social Power

Accepting that taxes maintain a currency’s value but considering that taxes are never collected to fund spending, the question arises of what and whom to tax and why. From the perspective of a neutral ‘monetary mechanic,’ more than one answer is possible — unlike the matters of function discussed thus far (like that tax-debts create demand for currencythat sovereign currency-issuers cannot go broke, etc), any question of why to tax what or whom is inherently a human question — one that cannot be answered from a neutral point of view.

From the viewpoint of a currency-issuer looking ‘down’ at the macro-economy, taxation appears as an outlet for removing excess money from circulation that (in addition to driving the currency) can also be used to influence the flow of resources and manage inflation. However, from the viewpoints of individual currency-users, a tax appears as a limitation on the individual’s power to access wealth and control resources (aka capital) — or, to put it another way, taxes restrict how much buying-power an person has. And “buying-power” (at least in the context of capitalism) is hardly more than a euphemism for power itself.

So the correct question is: whom or what should have less power? And the answer depends on the perspective and the interests of the one answering.

The Social Approach: Taxing Bads, Not Goods

Quotations by Mr Spock, on Modern Money Theory and Communism: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the fewOne approach to the question — and remember, no approach is neutral — is to employ the logic Mr. Spock used in The Wrath of Khan when he concluded that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Applying Spock’s logic to tax policy, the question can be refined to something like — whose (or what) money has the most negative impact on the society overall? This is the reasoning behind so-called “sin taxes,” such as added taxes on cigarettes, that are intended to deter economic activity considered harmful to society.

The same type of reasoning could also justify taxing activity that contributes to pollution (like oil extraction) or wastes resources (such as the production of junk-foods) and even taxes to deter stuff like the construction of buildings that block the view of natural surroundings or spoiling open spaces with advertisements. This approach to tax policy takes the social perspective of the collective and favors the interests of “the many” over and against individual interests. To implement such tax policies, however, the many would first need to gain control of their state….

Social Class & the State: Taxation as Power

The state, strictly speaking, is not the government. Government is an entire constellation of public institutions tasked with the chores of society, from fire departments and schools to waste and recycling, licensing drivers, civil courts, road work, and so on. Government is less of a monolith than a category of activities that organize society. The state is a political entity recognized as the highest authority in a geographic area. Since wielding supreme authority over even a small population is difficult, states invariably try to maintain at least some popular support, along with the capability to use violent force.

In historical-materialist (aka Marxian) schools of thought, the state arises from class-conflict as an institutional structure that formalizes the power of the dominant class to rule society. The state, in other words, is always and everywhere the organization of class-power. And only an organized class — like say, a hypothetical coalition of social activists and labor unions formed by an increasingly militant working-class majority — is capable of influencing the state’s use of power.

Taxation & Social Revolution

From a social-revolutionary perspective (broadly speaking, any perspective that aims to put the working-class majority in charge of society) the framework of modern monetary theory seems to offer new possibilities for a viable economic strategy to transition from a society ruled by private capital to one where all power rests with the people.​ Unlike the bourgeois neo-classical and New Keynesian economics, the MMT model acknowledges the social creation of money as an abstract form of value that serves as universal medium for circulating the real values that labor creates.

But to realize a truly modern monetary system — one that issues currency democratically by the public authority to benefit society as a whole and that frees people from the brutal austerity and artificial scarcity that the profits of private capital demand — for such a currency to exist, ordinary working people must become at least as well organized as those who presently hold the reigns of the state. And until the toiling classes do, these rich white men are perfectly content to keep using society’s monetary power to spend into their own pockets and tax away any shred of wealth the ones who actually work for a living manage to get because, wherever money grows, there is the chance it might turn into power.

And they can’t have that, now can they?

In solidarity,
John Laurits

Clarification RE: Gathering for Luis & NEW ANNOUNCEMENT: Invitation to ACTION on MONDAY 8/13 in SF (from Adrienne Fong)

 ♥ THANK YOU TO ALL WHO CAME THIS MORNING to Luis’s Altar! I KNOW THE FAMILY APPRECIATES ALL YOUR SUPPORT 

CLARIFICATION: LUIS’S GATHERING IS NOT A 24 HOUR PRESENCE. IT WAS FROM 10AM – 11AM TODAY.

Check FB site for updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/230409604013458/ 

Tuesday, August 7

Tuesday, 10:00am – Wednesday, Aug. 8, 11:00am, Life Of Luis Celebration: Discovery Is A Quiet Stage ~ 24 Hour event (NOT)

Luis Gόngora Pat’s Altar
Shotwell & 19th Street
SF

José Gongora invites you to the altar of his brother to uphold his memory during this quiet time in the process. As the civil lawyers work towards discovery, the family waits. Please come keep them company and help us plan what to do for Día de Muertos this year.

Note of interest: the Mario Woods case moves a month to three months ahead of the Gongora Pat case in the civil process. The case management processes impact each other.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/283446995792756/

~   ~   ~   ~    ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

NEW ANNOUNCEMENT   

Inviting Your Participation

In An

ACTION on MONDAY, AUGUST 13, 2018

Monday, 1:00pm – 3:00pm, No to a Handmaids World! No fascist USA! (See list of events leading up to action)

Meet at:

Cable Car Turnaround
Powell & Market Sts.
SF

March is through Unions Square to a “crisis pregnancy center”

Needed are PEOPLE willing to be HANDMAIDS!

See FB site for info and let organizers know that U want to participate or let afong@jps.net know if you would like to be a “Handmaid” 

Handmaids Confront ‘Crisis Pregnancy Clinics’ Pledging: This Nightmare Must End:

The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

 

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, crowd, hat and outdoor

Photo from: Refuse Fascism 

The June 26th Supreme Court decision NIFLA vs. Becerra upheld the pro-life challenge to reproductive freedom enjoyed by Californians. It has national consequences: abortion continues to be increasingly more difficult to access, more dangerous to provide, and more stigmatized than ever. Women are being forced to go to desperate measures to secure abortions—often traveling hundreds of miles, going deep into debt, enduring sexual degradation to come up with the funds, losing their jobs, and more.

So-called “crisis pregnancy centers” coerce women and girls to bear children against their will.

At this protest, we will be acting in the spirit of refusing to accept a world in which women are valued as incubators and little more, in an extreme patriarchal society; and we will be refusing to accept a fascist America. We will be contributing to the battle to drive the Trump/Pence regime from office.

Key events for the Handmaids protest:

► Tuesday August 7, 6:30pm
Come to our next meeting. We will make further plans for our Handmaid’s Tale protest of the Trump/Pence regime’s theocratic war
on women.
Sports Basement, 1590 Bryant Street, San Francisco

► Thursday August 9, 6:30pm
Fundraiser and party to raise funds for Handmaids costumes.
La Corneta Tacqueria, 2731 Mission Street, San Francisco

► Friday August 10, 7:00pm
Sewing/Costume making/Pizza nite.
Revolution Books, 2444 Durant, Berkeley

► Monday August 13, 1:00pm
Gather at Powell and Market (cable car turnaround) in San Francisco for the Handmaids march through Union Square and to a “crisis pregnancy center.”

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/2441880849155344/

UPDATES ~ ACTION ALERT ~ ANNOUNCEMENTS, Tuesday, Aug. 7 – Thursday, Aug. 9 ~ SAVE the DATES (from Adrienne Fong)

Please consider posting your events on Indybayhttps://www.indybay.org/calendar/

Check Indybay for events not listed here that might be of interest to you.

ACCESSIBILITY: Please include Accessibility Information on events! This is a JUSTICE  ISSUE! 

UPDATES: 

A. The City of Hiroshima – Peace Declaration – August 6, 2018

http://www.city.hiroshima.lg.jp/www/contents/1343890585401/files/PEACE-DECLARATION-2018.pdf

B. D.C. Transit Scraps Idea For Separate Train For ‘Unite The Right’ Marchers – August 5, 2018

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dc-metro-drops-special-cars-for-white-nationalists-after-union-complains_us_5b6652e6e4b0fd5c73da6056?ncid=APPLENEWS00001

C. This will sicken you: Eyewitness describes hateful act of piracy by Israel against Norwegian boat on mercy mission – August 4, 2018

https://www.redressonline.com/2018/08/this-will-sicken-you-eyewitness-describes-hateful-act-of-piracy-by-israel-against-norwegian-boat-on-mercy-mission/

  More info later this week 

D. Why I Resigned From the Department of Homeland Security – August 3, 2018

http://time.com/5356625/department-homeland-security-elizabeth-holtzman-family-separation/?utm_source=facebook.com&xid=time_socialflow_facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=time

E. Judge OKs Okinawa Base, Despite Endangered Dugong – August 2, 2018

https://www.courthousenews.com/judge-oks-okinawa-base-despite-endangered-dugong/

F. U.S. Justice Dept. Files Brief Rejecting LGBQT Workplace Protections –August 2, 2018

https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/u-s-justice-dept-files-brief-rejecting-lgbtq-workplace-protections-1011644995806 

ACTION ALERT:

TELL ICE: FREE RAUL!  

SIGN: https://ciyja.org/freeraul/

Raul is a husband and father of four children who has been detained by ICE for over a year. He was separated from his family when he was detained in March 2017, and has recently been transferred far away from his family to an ICE facility in Colorado, despite the fact that he continues to fight his case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, located in San Francisco, California. Raul needs your help.

Raul has lived in the United States for over 28 years since leaving his home country of Guatemala. On March 22nd, 2017, he was taken from his family and placed in detention at the West County Detention Facility in Contra Costa. Shortly after the termination of ICE’s contract with a local detention center, ICE transferred Raul and many others to Colorado. He was transferred without his family or lawyer receiving advance notice and despite the fact that his case is ongoing in San Francisco, California.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Tuesday, August 7 – Thursday, August 9

Tuesday, August 7

1. Tuesday, 9:30am – 12:30 pm, Mobilization to Demand Sheriff Accountability

Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
1970 Broadway, Suite 1125
Oakland

Action and rally at 9:30 am
Head up to Board Chambers at 10:15am

Turn out to the Demand Sheriff Accountability to expose the sheriff’s wasteful spending as the County Board of Supervisors holds their last meeting before they go on recess.

The BOS have watered down our call for an independent audit and are only looking to review sheriff’s jail programs. A review of Sheriff’s jail programming is not an audit and will neither save money or save lives! In the last 5 years, there have been 33 in custody deaths, along with an egregious rising rate of human rights abuse incidents. The urgency for an independent strong audit is clear.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/235951510585195/ 

2. Tuesday, 10:00am – Wednesday, Aug. 8, 11:00am, Life Of Luis Celebration: Discovery Is A Quiet Stage ~ 24 Hour event 

Luis Gόngora Pat’s Altar
Shotwell & 19th Street
SF

José Gongora invites you to the altar of his brother to uphold his memory during this quiet time in the process. As the civil lawyers work towards discovery, the family waits. Please come keep them company and help us plan what to do for Día de Muertos this year.

Note of interest: the Mario Woods case moves a month to three months ahead of the Gongora Pat case in the civil process. The case management processes impact each other.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/283446995792756/

3. Tuesday, 4:00pm – 5:00pm, Demand Justice for Jessica St. Louis

Alameda County Board of Supervisors Building
1221 Oak St.
Oakland

On July 28, 2018, Jessica St. Louis was released from Santa Rita Jail at 1:25am. She was given a BART ticket and sent on her way to walk the 1.9 miles from Santa Rita Jail to Dublin/Pleasanton BART. By 5:25am she was found at the station unresponsive and declared dead. This should never have happened. The practice of late night and early morning releases must stop!

The practice of releasing women in the dead of night is an act of violence that happens throughout the state of California. It is a dangerous and deadly practice to release vulnerable women and girls, without access to support services or even public transportation. Jessica’s death was unnecessary and preventable.

In Jessica’s memory, we demand justice and an end to the practice of late-night releases.

Join family members, community groups, and women that have survived late night releases for a press conference and rally.

Sponsor: Young Women’s Freedom Center

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/306237436617555/     tanene@youngwomenfree.org

4. Tuesday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Lake Merritt Night Out for Safety and Liberation 

12th Street & Lake Merritt Blvd
Oakland

Come get to know your neighbors and build resilience with your community!

Neighbors from Eastlake United for Justice (EUJ) and our unhoused neighbors are partnering to host an alternative to National Night Out on August 7 at the East 12th parcel. In response to the acts of racist vigilantism at Lake Merritt that have been targeting people of color and homeless folks we will come together around food, music, and building community. We want to build a neighborhood where people have the right to stay, not be displaced, and where safety doesn’t require the police. Join us for the following:

– Potluck, please bring some food to share!
– Music
– Art-making
– Gardening
– Community safety resources

We believe in:

#PublicLandforPublicGood
#ExistingWhileBlack #LaughingWhileBlack
Mutual aid and community resilience
Honoring Ohlone land
Right to stay, not be displaced
People over profits
Community not cops
Housing not handcuffs
Sanctuary for birds and people
Sanctuary, not separation
#SafetyIs freedom from policing
#SafetyIs a world without profiling
Here, we take care of each other

Sponsor: Save the E.12th Street Parcel for The People

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1804426583009688/ 

5. Tuesday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Panel to Support Prof Rabab Abdulhadi and Justice for Palestine! (See item # 6) 

Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave.
Alameda

Join us to hear Professor Rabab Abdulhadi and her legal team, who will speak about the recent attacks against her at San Francisco State University. Don Tamaki will address the context for how current legal attacks intersect with the historic Korematsu case that upheld Japanese American internment. Help us strengthen community responses to the culture of fear and repression. This is a critical moment to stop repeating history and forge alliances for the continued struggle ahead.

Panelists:
– Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, Race & Resistance Studies, and Senior Scholar of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED Studies at SFSU) at the College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University.
– Don Tamaki, member of the legal teams filing an amicus brief in travel ban case and attorney for Fred Korematsu in the 1980s reopening of his Supreme Court case.
– Mark Kleiman and Behnam Gharagozli, legal council for Professor Abdulhadi.

Moderated by:
Reverend Michael Yoshii, Senior Pastor at Buena Vista UMC

The WWII mass incarceration of Japanese Americans was rationalized by framing them as “enemy aliens.” McCarthyism went on to further criminalize “the enemy” by smearing the left, destroying the militant labor movement and depriving progressive academics and artists of their livelihood. It pitted colleagues and neighbors against one another, making them afraid lest they too would become targeted.

Today, attacks on asylum seekers and refugees and crackdowns on scholars, educators, and those who speak out for justice in Palestine echo this history of racist and xenophobic laws.

Sponsored by:
– The International Campaign to Defend Professor Rabab Abdulhadi
– Eastwind Books of Berkeley
– Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!), www.quitpalestine.org/

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1938914146203580/ 

Wednesday, August 8

6. Wednesday, 1:00pm – 3:00pm, SF Rally to Support Academic Freedom & Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi

Philip Burton Federal Building
450 Golden Gate Ave.
SF

In June 2017, the right-wing and Israel-aligned Lawfare Project filed a frivolous lawsuit against SF State University and Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, attempting to use the courts to silence scholarship and activism for Palestine.

The court dismissed the lawsuit in March 2018 for failing to make a single legitimate claim. “Out of an abundance of caution,” the court gave Lawfare a chance to fix the complaint and provided very specific instructions. Lawfare ignored the court’s instructions and re-filed its lawsuit. Dr. Abdulhadi’s laywers have once again asked the judge to dismiss the case.

JOIN US IN COURT to stand up to Lawfare’s self-professed attempt to inflict “massive punishments” on scholars like Dr. Abdulhadi for daring to speak against Zionism and advocate for justice in/for Palestine and an indivisible sense of justice.

Info: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/07/18/18816496.php 

7. Wednesday, 5:30pm – 6:30pm, PEACE VIGIL 

One Post Street
(on the steps facing Market Street, below Feinstein’s office,
directly above the Montgomery BART/Muni station).
SF

Look for the PEACE banner!

Proposed theme this week is on: YEMEN

Themes vary each week on topics for PEACE & JUSTICE

8. Wednesday, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, Rights for Refugees 

HRC
25 Van Ness Ave.
SF

Another avenue of getting an anti-ICE Resolution through the Board of Supervisors is to approach the Equity Advisory Committee to the Human Rights Commission. They advise on immigration issues for the city and meet on the second Wednesday of each month, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the main conference room of the HRC.

Sponsor: Resistance SF

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/278059589430665/ 

9. Wednesday, 6:00pm – 7:30pm, Beds 4 Bayview – Community Organizing Meeting 

SF Public Library – Bayview Linda Brooks-Burton Branch
5075 3rd St.
SF

An ongoing community discussion addressing the needs of unhoused residents of District 10, Bayview-Hunter’s Point, San Francisco, Ca.

After the recent budget approval for a homeless shelter in Bayview and the recent approval for funding a stipend program for homesharing was approved for payment by the Dept of Aging, Mother Browns is gonna go forward with their own solutions with community support and oversight.

The funding for the shelter is not going to Mother Browns.
The stipend program has turned into stale bread crumbs.

After the last meeting with Director of Homelessness, Jeff Kositsky, it was clear there is no transparency on site selection and Mother Browns will not have equal access to the resources in the new budget. The stipend program started with 50 beds and now has dwindled down to 25. The more correspondence with the city, the more unstable the “solutions” become.

Mother Browns is going to fund their own facility that will HOUSE those that seek shelter and not turn them out in 90 days. The city has repeatedly failed to not only provide safety nets for its residents but also repeatedly waste taxpayers dollars.

Mother Browns will also use their own funds to start a homesharing counseling and connecting program that will connect local homeowners who would like to open their homes and share with an unhoused resident in need of a hand up. They are developing a hotline for this sole purpose with other support services for District 10.

Sponsors: Beds 4 Bayview and Coalition on Homelessness

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/412318765957490/

Thursday, August 9 

10. Thursday, 9:00am, BART Proposes Facial Recognition Surveillance Dragnet at BART Board of Directors Meeting

Kaiser Center (20th Street Mall)
2040 Webster St. 3rd Floor (enter at left of CVS)
Oakland

BART police will propose a system-wide security dragnet for the Bay Area’s transit system. BART police are asking the board to approve the project in concept and authorize trials at Lake Merritt and Civic Center BART stations. 

No privacy policy. No civil rights impact assessment. No data storage and access rules.

BART is planning to use the same platform that was proposed as the “brains” of the Domain Awareness Center  (PSIM). The plan calls for 2000 CCTV cameras to be converted to IP-based for geospatial tagging and advanced real-time video analytics, likely facial recognition technologies already proven to be inaccurate and biased.

Agenda Item 5B on August 9 Meeting Agenda

 BART Police are attempting to rush through an aggressive new surveillance network with only 72 hours notice.

There are plenty of common sense things BART could do with $15-25 million dollars to improve security on the transit system without treating every passenger like a criminal suspect.

The last thing Nia Wilson would want is her death used to increase the high-tech harassment of Black and Brown people.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/198195501051968/

11. Thursday, 6:00pm – 8:30pm, Abolish ICE Teach-in: Free All Criminalized Survivors 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Law Caucus
55 Columbus Ave
SF

Wheelchair accessible

RSVP here: http://bit.ly/2v5VQML

Join Survived & Punished for a teach-in about surviving violence, ICE and the experiences of criminalized immigrant survivors! We will be sharing what we know about:

– Demystifying ICE, systems of criminalization/policing and deportation
– How gender and gender violence impact people’s experiences of being targeted by ICE
– What’s changed & what hasn’t for undocumented/immigrant survivors under this administration
– How we can support more immigrant survivors in our communities

We will also have Ny Nourn and Floricel Liborio Ramos, two survivors of domestic violence and immigration detention, share their thoughts, experiences and analyses with us.

NY NOURN

Ny Nourn is an organizer with Survived and Punished, advocating for the freedom of incarcerated domestic violence survivors. At age twenty, Ny was sentenced to life in prison for actions of her abusive boyfriend. Governor Brown granted Ny parole in May 2017, but upon release from prison, she was immediately arrested by ICE to be deported to Cambodia. Through community support, Ny walked out of detention after 16 years of incarceration in November 2017. 

FLORICEL LIBORIO RAMOS:

My name is Floricel Liborio Ramos and I am a Mexican woman who has lived in the U.S. for the last 20 years. I was in immigration detention in 2017. ICE arrested me in front of my children who are minors. For 11 months I was in various detention centers where I lived through bad and sad experiences, incarceration, the discomforts of living in detention everyday.

I had to clean the floor daily with water and sanitary napkins so that i could sleep; I lived through the heat and the enclosures of the cells; I had a great need for water and air; the humiliation and discrimination by the officials in detention centers with their rude comments towards me. My soul felt the psychological pain. It was too much.

I am raising my voice for the people who are still detained. Women who have been through the terrible experiences of domestic violence and are detained by ICE for many months. They need help and support in order to keep going with their lives. The injustice that immigrant people experience is wrong. We are criminalized and punished solely for being undocumented.

Sponsors: Survived & Punished, California Youth Immigrant Justice Alliance, ASPIRE

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/307338633145298/ 

12. Thursday, 3:00pm, Food Not Bombs –San Francisco

For information or to volunteer: Contact 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! 

13. Thursday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, United for Compassion 2: A Japantown Community Gathering 

Japantown Peace Plaza
Post & Buchannan
SF

All communities are invited to join the Japanese American community in a vigil and rally to stand in solidarity with those now being targeted nationwide by the rhetoric of hatred and racial and religious scapegoating.

As a community, Japanese Americans cannot be silent while groups are targeted and demonized in the same way that we once were. Now more than ever, our community must speak out for targeted communities.

Since before the 2016 elections, there had been a rise in incidences of hate throughout the country, which appear to be emboldened by the misogynistic, xenophobic and racist rhetoric of the Trump campaign. Now an anti-Muslim travel ban has been upheld by the Supreme Court using the same flawed logic which legalized the incarceration of Japanese Americans in 1944. Our worst fears have also been realized with the recent Executive Order that authorized the indefinite imprisonment of migrant families in detention One potential site for unaccompanied minors is adjacent to the former Rohwer concentration camp in southeast Arkansas, where the United States government incarcerated 8,000 Japanese Americans between 1942 and 1945. As of today, the U.S. can’t find the parents of 71 children it may have separated.

Program includes: Assembly member Phil Ting (invited); Donald Tamaki, Korematsu attorney; Karen Korematsu, Zahra Billoo, executive director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Satsuki Ina, former Tule Lake incarceree, Amy Sueyoshi, S.F. State University interim dean of Ethnic Studies, Rev. Jeanelle Ablola, Pine United Methodist Church, Buffet Crew – Francis Wong (sax) & Yukiya Jerry Waki (spoken word).

Info: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/08/06/18816781.php 

2 – SAVE the DATES 

Monday, August 13

14. Monday, 6:15am – 3:15pm, Get on the Bus! Pass AB 931-Stop Police Use of Force! 

California State Capitol
1315 10th St.
Sacramento

Reserve your seat now for the bus NOW: 

-if you are getting on the bus to come up to the Capitol, PLEASE REGISTER HERE:https://goo.gl/forms/SU6AqJV6vn9qyuam1 – we need #s to figure out how many buses are needed, and are requesting zip codes so we can let representatives know how many of their constituents have mobilized!

Bus will leave promptly from the West Oakland BART at 6:15am and will leave Sacramento at 3:15pm. We should be back at West Oakland BART by 5pm.

Join us at the Capitol on 8/13 to DEMAND much needed changes to policing in California! All you need to do is GET ON THE BUS!

We are closer than we have ever been to passing landmark legislation on policing — to set new standards for when police use deadly force (AB 931). More info: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1o2saotOGC1VdfTpZ1VtxgyQYONjDxCJo/view?usp=sharing

This an incredible opportunity – but there’s huge resistance. These bills are historic – no effort to raise standards for police deadly force has ever been introduced. We have an incredible coalition supporting these bills, but police unions are fighting these with everything they’ve got. We need active support from our coalition and other allies fighting for justice to get these passed!

If you aren’t able to show up and show out on the 13th, please ask your members and supporters to call their legislators.

 Call scripts and call info are linked here:

 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1icHoHj08mJG5dG7G6XKhEuq51I3eC3rF/view?usp=sharing. Each call takes less than 2 minutes — do it now if you can!

Sponsor: APTP

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/436601736835778/ 

Saturday, August 25 

15. Saturday, 11:00am – 3:30pm, Bay Area National Prison Strike Call to Action / Mobilization 

San Quentin State Prison

11:00am – Rally / Mobilization at West Oakland BART

Then:

Carpool & Bus to San Quentin

Support Bus to San Quentin: https://www.gofundme.com/prison-strike-bus-to-san-quentin?member=551444

The Bay Area National Prison Strike Solidarity Committee, stands in solidarity with the people who have declared a Nationwide Prison Strike beginning on August 21st (This date commemorates the assassination of Black Panther Party, Field Marshall, and prison activist, George Jackson, by San Quentin prison guards) and extending to September 9th, 2018.

The National Prison Strike is in response to the “riot” in the Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina on April 15, 2018. . Seven prisoners lost their lives during an instigated melee that could have been avoided had the prison not been overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in this country’s penal ideology

The Bay Area National Prison Strike Solidarity Committee, is organizing a Mobilization and Call to Action, on August 25, 2018, at San Quentin State Prison, with the objective of raising awareness of the inhumane conditions, treatment and policies that afflict those held in these gulags throughout amerikkka.

See info for national demands: https://www.facebook.com/events/258431498319593/

“It happened again” by Steve Martinot

First they came for the homeless

It happened again

By Steve Martinot

Dammit. It happened again.

Is there a euphemism I can use for “cowardice in government”? Something that sounds a little less acadmic, maybe with some four-letter words in it?

It is the end of July, 2018. A homeless person comes to city council, a young woman with a backpack. She approaches the mike, stands there looking at the councilmembers, and says, “Two weeks ago, you guys put me and my child on the street. You towed our RV. There was no need for that.”

That’s the punch line. But it comes first. It is the diploma this City Council earned when it refused to grant 30 days (renewable) grace to the RVs housing homeless people in the Marina. Instead, it gave these RV dwellers 7 days to move out. Miserly, they were unable to muster the use of a parking lot that no one else was going to use (“His Lordship” had succombed to pauperism). The council could not even manage thirty days. The cops came and towed this woman’s RV, and left her with her child to sleep in the street.

It just keeps happening. Two years ago there was this young homeless black woman who came to the council and said, in a lost voice, “I don’t qualify for anything.”

It was the softest accusation I had ever heard, that if you don’t fit in a program, you don’t exist.

Remember Mike Lee? He stood in front of the council after he had spoken and used up his minute, so the Mayor would not let him speak, and he gave his gruff voice to the question, “what are you going to do about us?”

And everytime the council addresses the question of homelessness, homeless people show up and tell their stories. It just keeps happening. They come to City Council asking for recognition, asking for the council to grant them their social existence as real people and not as statistics. And council refuses to do so.

Please, ma’am, get out of the way; others are waiting to speak

And now, with tears in her eyes, saying in as many ways as she can (while the mayor tries to push her aside), “Can’t you get my little boy and me off the streets? Can’t you?”

She runs out of time. Though the Mayor tries to stop her, she just keeps on speaking. She says, “You guys don’t follow your own rules or laws, so why should I follow your time limit on speaking.” The courage of desparation.

The Mayor looks concerned, and leans forward. A member of my staff is in back, he says, and will meet you in the lobby to talk about your situation. And this woman answer, “your staff will just expedite my being put in a shelter. But I can’t go to a shelter because my child has whooping cough, and I don’t want to get any other children sick.” She has more empathy for others she cannot see than the City Council has for someone standing there in front of them. Speak to my staff, he says. They will provide you with “services.”

The Mayor is only pawning her off to a bureaucrat. She knows this and scoffs at him. He knows it and goes back to his mantra.

Please, ma’am, will you please step aside. We need to move on to other speakers. One of my staff will be happy to talk to you. Please, we’d like to help you but we need to move on to other people. Will the next speaker please come forward. Please, ma’am, you’ve had your public comment, now please sit down. You’ve had your chance to speak.

She says, “I’m dying. I’m 41 years old and I’m dying.” And the Mayor responds, you’re out of order, ma’am.

One of his staff came out from behind the council chamber and spoke to her. For a total of 56 seconds. That’s all it took for her to turn and walk away. That’s all it takes for someone to say, “there’s nothing we can do for you.”

You don’t provide housing by taking it away

One month was all the council proposed for RVs to stay in an unused parking lot in the Marina. Not 3 months, or a year. Just one lousy month. The mayor had even called council to a special meeting to discuss it (July 2, 2018). So even that month had to be an important issue. One lousy month. And they couldn’t do it. They didn’t have the guts to give the homeless some space. (Forget about having the heart. They lost that long ago, when they refused to stop the police raids on “First They Came for the Homeless.”)

The item the council was addressing when this woman came forward (July 31, 2018) was a measure that council members claimed would allow them to eliminate homelessness. It was for a transfer tax on property sales that was supposed to provide moneys to eventually take all 1000 homeless people living in Berkeley off the street by giving them housing. They were hoping to do that by the year 2030.

Huh? It was going to take twelve years?.

How were they going to get all 1000 homeless people off the streets and into housing when they couldn’t even get this one woman and her kid off the street?

How were they going to provide housing for 1000 homeless people when all they could accomplish was taking this woman’s housing (albeit an RV) away from her?

How were they going to provide housing for 1000 people when they couldn’t even vote to leave space for some RVs in the Marina for a lousy 30 days? Who are they kidding?

Remember the feces incident? The homeless had come to council requesting politely for toilets, then asking strongly, and then finally demanding, over a 6 month period, for portapotties. The city could not find it in itself to provide toilets. So someone threw feces at the front door of city hall one night. It wasn’t a joke. It was done in deadly serious desparation. And even after that, it still took two years and the intervention of a neighborhood association to get the city to spring for toilets.

Cowardice in government.

They all just sit there

As she talks, she is the personification of council’s failure, staring them in the face. As the Mayor gavels on, the entire council sits there. Please step aside so that we can continue with our meeting. Please step aside so that we can continue our farce, our playacting at governing and at policy making. Just get out of our way because you disrupt our ability to pat ourselves on the back for all that we are doing for the homeless.

She stands there at the mike and says, through tears, when are you going to get beyond “services” and do something for the safety and healthy of we who live in this city? And the council just sits there.

The city manager just sits there, she who says over and over again that she is there to enact city council policy. There is a policy written into every orinance having to do with pedestrians and streets and housing and affordability that goes, “health and safety.” It is a phrase used in regulations and permitting and zoning. It is a city policy. And the city manager just sits there. She knows that being thrown on the street is unsafe and unhealthy. She knows that to confiscate a person’s possessions used to defend them against the elements is potentially “attempted murder,” since it exposes them to death on the street.

“I’m dying. I’m 41 years old and I’m dying.”

Not a single councilmember gets up on their feet and says, “I’ve had enough of this. What is it going to take to get this woman’s RV out of hock and put it in a parking lot where there is toilet facilities and electricity right now?”

Not a single councilmember stands up and says, “we took her housing away from her. We say we are going to provide housing for people, yet we are taking housing away from people. That means we have to give her her housing back, right now.”

Where is the councilmember with the guts to stand up and say that?

Where is the councilmember with the guts to say, “we have to stop throwing people on the street right now.”

Where’s the councilmember who could turn to the police chief and the city manager and instruct them to get that RV out of hock because towing it was in violation of Berkeley housing policy? That RV was someone’s housing. That means it can’t be taken away.

Cowardice in government.

And we ourselves just sat there in the gallery

What about us? Could we in the gallery have done that? Stand up and say, this meeting is over until this woman gets her housing back. Could we have done that? Only in rebellion. And that would have required organization. Which is always a possibility. After all, we have no say. We have only our minute, our time-cage into which we are jammed because sentenced to a monologic state. We would have to be able to rebel against being restricted to a minute first. If we have no say, then we only have rebellion. Do we have anything to lose.

We sat there, hoping someone official will stand up and take this woman by the hand. Cowardice in government tirckles down in that way.

“I’m dying. I’m 41 years old and I’m dying.” We’re all dying from watching this society of ours get towed away, and made into something we can no longer live with. Some still enjoy the mantra about Berkeley, that it is a special place, with special ways of “doing things.” We are all dying as we realize that this is how we are now doing things here in Berkeley.