Money for ‘safe sleeping’ sites — or permanent supportive housing?

Legislation by Sup. Rafael Mandelman aims to get people off the streets — but homeless advocates are not supporting it. That’s The Agenda for April 18-25

ByTIM REDMOND

-APRIL 18, 2021 (48hills.org)

The Board of Supes Budget and Finance Committee will consider Wednesday/21 a proposal to mandate “safe sleeping sites” for any unhoused person in the city.

Under the plan by Sup. Rafael Mandelman, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing would have to come up with a plan within 18 months to guarantee that anyone sleeping on the sidewalks or the parks or in buses or anywhere else can have a shelter with functioning toilets and showers – on demand.

Are tent cities and temporary shelters the long-term solution to homlessness?

But Jennifer Friedenbach, the director of the Coalition on Homelessness, is not a supporter.

In an April 15 oped, she argues that the plan “would cost an outrageous amount of money without ending homelessness for one person.”

The issue here is whether shelter – that is, temporary congregate settings that may include safe campaign sites – ought to be a city goal, or whether the money that SF has (and it’s a lot of money, soon to be more) should go to creating, buying, and preserving permanent affordable and supportive housing.

Friedenbach:

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According to San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, the cost of the city’s safe sleep programs over the last year amounts to about $61,000 per tent. This is well over the cost of a private market subsidy with support services for a single household, priced at about $40,000 per year, and over two times the average cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, The total price tag of this legislation is $244 million, equal to our pre-pandemic homeless department’s entire budget.

More:

While it would be flawed even in the best of times, this legislation is being discussed at a time when the opportunity is ripe for San Francisco to set ambitious goals for increasing its permanent housing stock, including the creation of 10,000 units authorized by Prop. K and the Mayor’s ambitious Homelessness Recovery Plan for over 2,500 new permanent housing units for homeless people. Between the millions of expected federal relief dollars specifically slated for addressing homelessness, the hundreds of millions of available Prop. C dollars, and the new funds provided by Prop. I, the city has the opportunity to invest in the acquisition and construction of thousands of units. In combination with the over 1,700 people currently in SIP hotels with the guarantee of being moved into housing, this could put a huge dent in the skyrocketing population of unhoused San Franciscans.

For decades, ever since Ronald Reagan stopped funding public housing in cities and cut the social safety net to the point where unemployed and disabled people could no longer afford private housing, homelessness has been a problem in US cities – and most of the solutions have involved shelters.

The idea is the get people off the streets – political leaders say it’s for their own health and safety, but it’s also to clear neighborhoods of tent encampments – and into temporary situations that can, on occasion, lead to permanent housing.

But there isn’t enough affordable permanent housing in the city. There could be a lot more if the city would be more aggressive about using the money we have (and can borrow) to buy hotels that are now empty and will be for years to come. That’s what Friedenbach is saying: Take the money we have from Prop. C, and we will likely get from the federal government under Biden, and use it to buy permanently affordable housing, as fast as we can.

Mandelman told me he disagrees with her position.

“I don’t think we should just leave people who don’t have a permanent housing option to fend for themselves,” he told me. “It’s inhumane for them and irresponsible for the neighborhoods. It would be good not just to create more permanent housing but to manage the needs of people tonight.”

He said the legislation mandates a plan – and if it’s too expensive, the board doesn’t have to fund it. “I’m pretty sure the policy is right,” he said. “San Franciscans don’t want people camping on the streets, but also don’t want people to have to camp.”

For more than 40 years, the city has failed to address homelessness for a long list of reasons (including a failure to prevent evictions and a profound failure to link new office development to affordable housing). Almost all of the mayors since Dianne Feinstein have in one way or another used shelters as a solution.

And that’s never worked.

The city – and the state – has also failed, fundamentally, to put up the money for mental-health treatment. In California, prisons and jails became the answer to mental health. That was, and is, a massive and inexcusable human-rights failure.

So the issue before the board is: Do we spend money now to get people off the streets, into temporary situations that don’t always lead to permanent housing? Do we put that money instead into long-term solutions?

Do we worry about tonight – or tomorrow?

The hearing begins at 9am.

Names of victims of Fed.X – killing~ Articles ~ Actions / Petitions ~ Mumia Updates / Actions ~ Events for Tue. 4/20 – Thurs. , 4/22 (from Adrienne Fong)

Few events that might be of interest…Am NOT back posting on a regular basis

*** ASL interpretation – Let me know if your event needs this service .***

Please include Accessibility and ASL info in your events! And if your action is ‘child friendly’

Please post your actions on Indybay: https://www.indybay.org/calendar/?page_id=12

 See Indybay  for many other listings of events.

Site for other Bay Area Events

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Names of the eight people killed on Thursday, April 15th, at a FedEx in Indianapolis.   

Holding their community, family and friends in thought and prayer.

R.I.P.

♥ Matthew R. Alexander ♥

 Samaria Blackwell 

 Amarjeet Johal 

 Jasvinder Kaur 

 Amarjit Sekhon 

 Jaswinder Singh   

♥ Karli Smith 

 John Weisert 

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

ARTICLES:

A. Thousands flood the streets of Chicago to protest the killing of Adam Toledo – April 19, 2021

Thousands flood the streets of Chicago to protest the killing of Adam Toledo – NationofChange

R.I.P.

♥ Adam Toledo ♥

     13 y.o

B. Democrat Opposed to the PRO Act Was Showered with Cash From Amazon Executives – April 18, 2021

Democrat Opposed to the PRO Act Was Showered With Cash From Amazon Executives (truthout.org)

C. Two Dozen Senators Tell Biden It Is ‘Past Time’ to Finally Close Guantánamo – April 17, 2021

Two Dozen Senators Tell Biden It Is ‘Past Time’ to Finally Close Guantánamo | Common Dreams News

D. Israeli settlers attack Palestinians, steal land with impunity, Imagine outrage & calls for sanctions if any other state did it – April 16

Israeli settlers attack Palestinians, steal land with impunity. Imagine outrage & calls for sanctions if any other state did it – In Gaza (wordpress.com)

E. How Minneapolis Asian Americans are supporting Black community after Daunte Wright’s death – April 16, 2021

How Minneapolis Asian Americans are supporting Black community after Daunte Wright’s death (nbcnews.com)

F. Minneapolis Transit Union Refuses to Transport Arrested BLM Protesters  – April 14, 2021

Minneapolis Transit Union Refuses to Transport Arrested BLM Protesters | Left Voice

G. Breed won’t promise to spend real-estate tax money on rent relief – April 13, 2021

Breed won’t promise to spend real-estate tax money on rent relief | 48 hills

H. Wells Fargo: Defund Line 3 – 4K 

Wells Fargo: Defund Line 3 – 4K on Vimeo  (turn on the sound)

 – Video by Peter Menchini

I. Film: The Seeds of Vandana Shiva (Watch for FREE from April 15 – April 22)

The Seeds of Vandana Shiva (organicconsumers.org)

ALERTS / PETITIONS

1. Tell Congress We Need Medicare for All

  SIGN: Medicare 4 All, Now

2. Demand Biden Protect Black Migrants

  SIGN: Demand Biden Protect Black Migrants | ColorOfChange.org

  In less than 4 months of presidency, the Biden Administration has expelled well over 1,300 Haitian migrants – including children, infants, and pregnant women – to Haiti during a severely violent political crisis.1 The people in Haiti are suffering under an oppressive government, a crisis so extreme that President Biden has even acknowledged that Haitians “may face harm” if they return home.2 And yet, most Haitians apprehended at the border have been locked in Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) detention centers in dangerous conditions, denied the right to attorneys, and summarily sent back to Haiti without the opportunity to apply for asylum protection. 

3. Tell the Biden administration. Don’t turn your back on refugees

  SIGN: Tell the Biden administration: Don’t turn your back on refugees | National Domestic Workers Alliance (everyaction.com)

  The Biden administration announced they’re considering keeping Trump and Stephen Miller’s historically low refugee admission caps. This is in direct contradiction to his earlier promise to raise the refugee admissions cap to 60,000. We must keep the pressure up and urge Biden to keep his promise—lives depend on it.

4. To: John Kerry: Include Militarism in Climate Talks

  SIGN: TAKE ACTION: Sign our Letter to John Kerry! (salsalabs.org)

Tuesday, April 20 – Saturday April 24

Free Mumia Actions

Monday, 2:09pm Mumia is in heart surgery

  The Jamal Journal Home Page: BREAKING: Mumia is now in surgery and we are waiting to hear more; check back for the latest updates (We Demand No Shackling!)

April 15 – Emergency Press Conference: Mumia to Undergo Heart Surgery

   Mumia to Undergo Heart Surgery: Emergency Press Conference – YouTube

 FREE MUMIA! THE ONLY TREATMENT IS FREEDOM! Mobilize from April 20 – 24 in the Bay Area

3 EVENTS

1. Tuesday, April 20, 4-6 p.m. 50 Beale St. Mission and Beal Streets, SF

Protest KQED’s New series “Philly DA” which champions DA Larry Krasner who refuses to re-open Mumia’s case or grant his appeal rights.

  – Tell KQED: Equal Time for the Truth About Mumia Abu-Jamal!

KQED is hosting a new series entitled Philly DA about Larry Krasner, the district attorney of Philadelphia. After running as a “progressive,” Krasner has become the DA denying Mumia’s appeal or any investigation into his case. We demand equal time to counter Krasner’s lies!

Info:  Tell KQED: Equal Time for the Truth About Mumia Abu-Jamal! : Indybay

2. Saturday, April 24, 12 Noon, Gather at Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th and Broadway, Oakland (March & Car Caravan)

March to DA Nancy O’Malley’s Office, 1225 Fallon Street, for a rally for Mumia’s freedom and against police terror.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, incarcerated for over 40 years for a crime he did not commit, is facing serious medical complications and possible death. He has recently recovered from COVID and has been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Disease.

Mumia, who is an internationally known Black journalist and author will turn 67 on April 24 and demonstrations are being organized across the US to demand his freedom. He has been unjustly and inhumanely incarcerated for over 40 years.

Info: Free Mumia! The Only Treatment is Freedom : Indybay

3. Saturday, April 24, 3 p.m., Holy Ground Ceremony for Mumia.

Gather at Center and Huey Newton Street. Procession to Mandela Parkway, Oakland.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, incarcerated for over 40 years for a crime he did not commit, is facing serious medical complications and possible death. He has recently recovered from COVID and been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Disease. He is suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and a painful skin ailment. Mumia’s doctor has plainly stated that the only treatment for this courageous political prisoner is his freedom.

Join us for 3 events coinciding with Mumia’s 67th birthday and demanding his immediate release from prison.

Mumia continues to inspire all of us and through his words, writings, and actions fights for all oppressed people who are struggle for freedom and liberation.

Join us at all of these events to demand freedom for Mumia, freedom for all political prisoners and for the abolition of the criminal legal system.

Partial list of endorsers:
Campaign to Bring Mumia Home; California United for Mumia; Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia; People’s Strike – Bay Area; Prisoners’ Solidarity Committee of Workers World Party; SF Bay View National Black Newspaper; Party for Socialism and Liberation; Oscar Grant Committee; No Justice Under Capitalism

Hosts:

Info: FREE MUMIA! THE ONLY TREATMENT IS FREEDOM! Mobilize from April 20 – 24 in the Bay Area | Facebook

EVENTS

Tuesday, April 20 – Thursday, April 22

Tuesday, April 20

1. Tuesday, 10:00am, Stealing our Last Acre & One Remaining Mule…Black, Brow & No income SF Residents Resist

In person

Anyone on / off facebook

SF City Hall
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl
SF

Masks / social distancing

Press Conference/Speak-Out from Tenants of Public Housing in San Francisco

Since 2013 in back-room deals with non-profit organizations, the San Francisco Housing Authority and HUD has been quietly enacting a benignly named plan (RAD) which results in the decimation of the last shred of housing for the very poorest residents of San Francisco.

“This is a national movement to kill public housing and its very sad – in many other cities across the US they have completely destroyed all the public housing, said Greg, one of the organizers of the End eRADification Coalition – a poor peoples led land and equity back movement of POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE

“Housing Authority has been sending 90 day eviction notices to alot of my neighbors, ” said Teresa Molina, a POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE reportera and resident of Sunnydale. Fellow tenants and residents of other pubic housing units like Sunnydale and Double Rock have also been receiving notices as also reported by comrades from the United Front Against Displacement (UFAD) who has been organizing with tenants in those complexes.

While a global pandemic rages on and people are struggling to stay housed, and not become houseless, Housing Authority has been sending notices to tenants and closing down buildings for “redevelopment” with private non-profits like Mercy Housing.

“They purposely never maintenance our existing units so Housing Authority can make a case for “redevelopment”, said QueennandiXSheba, reporter and poverty skola with POOR Magazine, resident of Plaza East in the Fillmore district and co-founder of the End E-Radification Coalition

Host: POOR Magazine

Info: (1) Stealing Our Last Acre & 1 Remaining Mule | Facebook  and  Stealing our Last Acre & One Remaining Mule… Black, Brown & No income SF Residents Resist : Indybay

2. Tuesday, 1:00pm – 2:30pm, Stop the budget cuts to City College of SF – Gray Panthers meeting

Zoom meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84634702723;

 669 900 9128;  One tap mobile: 16699009128;  Meeting ID: 846 3470 2723. 

STOP THE BUDGET CUTS TO C.C.S.F.!  

What’s behind the threat to CCSF and what can we do about it?  

Panel:

Marcy Rein (co-author of “Free City”*) & Bob Fitch (CCSF Disabled Students Program Services Faculty Member)

Time for Q&A

Info: Stop the budget cuts to City College of San Francisco with the Gray Panthers : Indybay

3. Tuesday, 6:00pm, Protest Berkeley’s Inaction on Climate Change and Animal Cruelty

Meet:

1900 Milvia St.
Berkeley

ACCESSIBILITY: This event will include a small walk, as well as standing. If you have questions or need support to attend this event, email sfbay-protest@directactioneverywhere.com

 Mask / social distancing

The city of Berkeley is funding the next pandemic, animal cruelty, and global environmental catastrophe. This “progressive” city is spending taxpayer dollars on an unsustainable and cruel industry: animal agriculture.

Despite our reports of concerning diseases and animal abuse at farms used by their supplier, the city is still ignoring the issue.

we will come together for an action outside the Mayor’s house where we will ask him loudly and boldly to stop spending city funds on animal products.

Host: Direct Action Everywhere – SF Bay Area

Info: (1) Protest Berkeley’s Inaction on Climate Change and Animal Cruelty | Facebook

4. Tuesday, 7:45pm – 12:45am, Fight to Protect Rent Control in Alameda

Register for Zoom: Webinar Registration – Zoom

Alameda Renters Coalition needs help from social and housing justice allies to fight against this plan to change the CIP formula. It will lead to many evictions of renters who have already suffered through the Covid19 Pandemic Shelter-In-Place.

This benefits the largest corporate landlords.

City Council will consider revisions to the current rent control law that allow for a new Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). ARC has been fighting this plan since it was brought to our attention back in the summer of 2020. We have had numerous meeting with city staff, city councilmembers, and even realtor representatives, but the plan persists.

The proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) plan will allow a landlord to pass-through 100% of the cost of a capital improvement (repair or replacement) that cost at least $25,000,or $2,500 for one unit, TO THE TENANT in addition to the annual allowed rent increase. The proposal would cap the pass-through at 5% per year and allow it to be amortized over at least 15 years and maybe more.

Info: Fight to Protect Rent Control in Alameda : Indybay

Wednesday, April 21

5. Wednesday, 10:30am (PT); 1:30pm (ET), Earth Day 2021: Who CAREs? A Conversation on Feminist Climate Action

Online register: Meeting Registration – Zoom

 – after registering U will receive more info

For millennia, women have been the bedrock of the “care economy”– nurturing our families, laboring to better our societies, and stewarding the Earth and its precious resources. As the climate emergency intensifies, so does the burden on our world’s women. Yet from these frontlines, women leaders are designing solutions from the ground up. Join us in conversation with four powerful leaders from the 2020 Grassroots U.S. Accelerator Program as we discuss what CARE looks like in their communities and their climate justice movements.

Host: Women’s Earth Alliance

Info: (2) Earth Day 2021: Who CAREs? A Conversation on Feminist Climate Action | Facebook

6. Wednesday, 3:00pm – 7:00pm: Food Not Bombs, Mission Food Sharing (Every Wednesday)

Food Not Bombs in the Mission is open to volunteers from 3PM to 7PM every Wednesday – email beforehand to be sure someone will welcome you- sffnbvolunteers@riseup.net

Schedule:

Cookhouse:  St. John The Evangelist Church, 110 Julian Avenue (at 15th).

Food Pickups: 110 Julian Avenue-3:00PM to 4:00PM–Help Needed!

Cooking:  110 Julian Avenue–4:00 PM to 6:30 PM–Help Needed!

Sharing: 16th and Mission BART Plaza–6:30 PM–Help Needed!

Cleaning Up:  110 Julian Avenue–after Cooking–6:30 PM – 7:30 PM–Help Needed!

Info: Serving Info | San Francisco Food Not Bombs (sffnb.org)

7. Wednesday, 6:00pm – 7:00pm, Remembering Alex with Refugio and Elvira Nieto

Alex Nieto’s Altar

Bernal Hill
SF

On the monthly anniversary of Alex’s murder on the 21st day of each month, gather with Refugio and Elvira Nieto at Alex’s Altar – observing ‘social distancing’.

With restrictions of gatherings if you can’t attend – light a candle this evening for Justice for Alex and ALL others who lives have been taken by the police.

On March 21, 2014, Alejandro “Alex” Nieto 28 years old, was killed when he was struck by 14 – 15 bullets (of a total of 59 shots) fired by four San Francisco Police Department officers, on Bernal Hill Park, without justification. The officers who killed Alex Nieto are: Sgt. Jason Sawyer (then lieutenant. He is also the killer of John Smart in 1998!), Officer Roger Morse, Officer Richard Schiff and Officer Nathan Chew.

Thursday, April 22

8. Thursday – All day – National Call-In Day – Demand U.S. Military Aid & Destructive Economic Policies Out of Central America

Sign up: https://cispes.salsalabs.org/NationalPhoneZapCongressionalAppropriations/index.html?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=c84fc5e3-a3b4-49db-80b0-026dc0c29af6

Congress is putting together next year’s budget – and contemplating a $4 billion proposal from President Biden to address the root causes of migration from Central America. Without strong collective action, this will mean MORE money for militarization and neoliberal economic policies that will continue to displace people from their lands and communities.

Sign upto let us know that you will make a phone call to your representative as part of a national phone zap to pressure Congress to:

1) End U.S. police and military assistance in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala

2) End U.S. “development” policies that promote climate change, privatize natural resources and public services, violate workers’ rights and destroy Indigenous and communal lands

Host: CISPES

9. Thursday, 12Noon, People’s Earth Day Rally @ SF City Hall

In-person

SF City Hall
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl.
SF

Wear mask/ social distancing

Environmental Justice for Bayview Hunters Point & Treasure Island Residents!

Meet at San Francisco City Hall/Polk Street Steps to Demand that Mayor Breed & Board of Supervisors:
-Declare MORATORIUM on Lennar’s Shipyard development and unsafe soil excavation
-Declare PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY!
-Conduct full retesting, safe cleanup and removal of all radioactive and toxic waste at the Shipyard Superfund Site & Treasure Island

Hosts: Green Action for Health & Environmental Justice, 350 Bay Area, Extinction Rebellion SF Bay Area

Info: PEOPLE’S EARTH DAY RALLY | Facebook  and People’s Earth Day Rally @ SF City Hall : Indybay

10. Thursday, 5:00pm (PT); 8:00pm (ET), Systemic Equality Action Series on how Child Care Tax Credit are crucial to racial justice

On line

Register: RSVP to attend the Systemic Equality Action Series | PeoplePower.org

This is a national tragedy with profound moral and practical costs to the nation. By ensuring an expanded and refundable child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent — and lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty. The child tax credit is a racial justice issue, as well as an economic one.

During this action session, you’ll hear from US Senator Cory Booker and ACLU Campaign Strategist Rakim Brooks about the policy change we’re working toward.

Then, we’ll move to action — you’ll learn how to tell your story on a digital platform to build the movement for systemic equality and to directly appeal to lawmakers, whether you’re a parent yourself or someone who wants to take a stand against child poverty in the wealthiest country on earth.

Host: ACLU

11. Thursday, 6:00pm, SF League Against Systemic Harm (SLASH) Meeting

Online

Topic: S.L.A.S.H. Meeting
Time: Apr 22, 2021 06:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82195340752?pwd=MmdLTnpnZ2tYM2VHQ1RSWHpuSE5xUT09

Meeting ID: 821 9534 0752
Passcode: 735652
One tap mobile
+16699006833,,82195340752#,,,,*735652# US (San Jose)
+12532158782,,82195340752#,,,,*735652# US (Tacoma)

Dial by your location
        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
        +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 821 9534 0752
Passcode: 735652
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/k4GguZUkh

Info from Bay Area Freedom Socialist Party

12. Thursday, 6:00pm, Land is Life: A Cultural Celebration & Auction Honoring Earth Protectors

Online Register: Meeting Registration – Zoom

Join us on Earth Day, for a night of cultural performances and speakers to raise money for Brandon Lee and other Earth protectors!

Performers include Tony Robles, Amihan, Nickel Rivera, Jest Jammin’ (with Rev Norman Fong), AudVision, Michael Horse, and solidarity statements from Lisa Tiny Gray Garcia, Leny Strobel, Shelly Vendiola. And hosted by Allan Manalo!

WE’LL BE LAUNCHING AN AUCTION FUNDRAISER! linktr.ee/Justice4BrandonLee!

Bid on artwork by Pam Tau Lee, Emory Douglas, Ken Miller & Pearl Ubungen, Leon Sun, Nora Cody

and get your chance to bid on Warriors Replica Championship ring, Jeremy Lin Autographed Photo, bobbleheads, Bindlestiff swag & Theater workshop pass, and a Nintendo Classic!

Co-Sponsors
Bindlestiff Studio, Kapwa Health Collective, Justice 4 Brandon Lee Coalition, SFCHRP

Info: Land is Life: A Cultural Celebration & Auction Honoring Earth Protectors | Facebook

The Long Fight to Cancel Student Loans

Ryann LiebenthalApril 19, 2021 (NewRepublic.com)

How student debtors took a radical idea to the mainstream

ILLUSTRATIONS BY LYNDON HAYES

In the summer of 2007, Thomas Gokey had just graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and he was thinking about how much his degree had cost him. His diploma was a simple piece of paper, but it came with a price tag of thousands of dollars—dollars that were themselves pieces of paper, transmitted to him in the form of student loans, which he now owed to the federal government. While chewing on this thought, he had an idea for a project that would occupy him for much of the next year. He obtained a letter of permission from the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing to go to a Federal Reserve bank of his choice and pick out some shredded bills from its stores of mutilated currency. One day, he walked over to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, five blocks from the Art Institute, and asked for some money.

“Nobody had ever seen this letter before,” he told me. “They were really scratching their heads. So they made phone calls that kept going higher and higher and higher.” Finally, the bank’s vice president came down and took Gokey on a tour of the building. The mutilated money was kept several floors below, past a labyrinth of security checkpoints. “They’re worried about counterfeiting,” he said, “so they just store shredded paper in prime real estate in downtown Chicago.” At last, he entered a big, open room that resembled a vast warehouse. “You could look in any direction, and you couldn’t see the back wall. It was just filled, floor to ceiling, with clear plastic trash bags of shredded money.”

Gokey asked the vice president for a specific amount: the equivalent of $49,983, the sum of debt he’d incurred to go to the Art Institute. The bank executive gathered up a stack of the shredded bills, put them on a scale, and measured out the requested dollars by weight.Be the most
informed person you know:
3 months for $5Subscribe

Once home with his mutilated money, Gokey undertook the painstaking process of pulping the bills and reassembling them into paper sheets, which he planned to sell off to interested collectors. It was a clever plan: He would make an artwork to serve as a means of settling his debt—thereby using his degree to pay off the cost of getting it. He called the work Total Amount of Money Rendered in Exchange for a Masters of Fine Arts Degree to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Pulped Into Four Sheets of Paper.

Over the next few years, Gokey exhibited Total Amount of Money, hanging the large greenish-gray sheets—sometimes horizontally, sometimes vertically—on the walls of galleries from the Midwest to the United Kingdom. He calculated the value of each square inch at $4.22, each square foot at $607.70. “I sold some,” he said, “but not a lot.”

By September 2011, Gokey had moved to New York state for a job as an adjunct instructor of art at Syracuse University. He found working for the university perplexing. He was making a pittance as an adjunct, and yet his students were all paying exorbitantly for the privilege of his instruction. “I got really concerned about my students, who were in way more debt than I was.” Gokey has a soft Midwestern voice, curious and engaged while somehow speckled with sadness. He is the kind of person who latches on to an idea and then goes way down the rabbit hole with it. “I was very confused about where the money went,” he said. “Like, why? Why does it work this way? Why can’t it work differently?”

Forty years ago, it did—a year of tuition and fees at a public four-year university was around $2,400 (in 2019 dollars). Now the cost is four times as much. (For private colleges, that number has tripled, from $10,575 in 1980–1981 to nearly $32,000 by 2019.) About 45 million people in the United States (roughly one in six adults) owe outstanding student loan debt, whose total recently surpassed $1.7 trillion, second only to mortgages, according to the Federal Reserve. That’s about $37,500 per borrower, on average, and always climbing (more if you’re Black, a woman, LGBTQ, or an alumnus of a for-profit or graduate school; less but more onerous if you took out debt but didn’t graduate).

Student debt wasn’t significant enough for the Federal Reserve to track it until 1999, when it hit $90 billion, about a twentieth of its current sum. As the numbers ticked up, it grew from a niche concern—the kind of thing that might particularly exercise, say, a bunch of Occupy Wall Street utopians—into a source of anxious national breast-beating. Formerly seen as “good debt” that would more than pay itself back after the supposed $1 million lifetime wage boost of a degree, it’s now understood to be the albatross weighing down an entire generation. The inflection point in this shift might be traced to sometime between the spring of 2012, when outstanding student debt hit $1 trillion, and the 2016 primaries, when Bernie Sanders made free college a part of his campaign for president. Or perhaps it was the next Democratic presidential primaries, in 2019, when Sanders proposed canceling all student debt, defining a leftmost flank on the issue and pushing the idea of cancellation into the mainstream.Be the most
informed person you know:
3 months for $5Subscribe

Whatever the exact moment the notion took hold that student debt had gotten out of control, the pandemic—and its economic fallout—only accentuated the burden. At its highest point, in April 2020, unemployment reached nearly 15 percent. The college-educated fared significantly better, at 8.4 percent, but nevertheless saw their jobless rate quadruple in a matter of weeks. So many redundant white-collar workers, so many unpaid student loan bills. By late March, even Congress was moved to intervene with a temporary solution. At first that came in the 2019 CARES Act, in the form of a federal payment and interest pause that Donald Trump extended in August.

Once Joe Biden took office, the debate over student debt centered not on whether to cancel but on which way and how much. Biden had said he wanted to wipe out $10,000 “immediately,” though he waffled on the method of action. Senator Elizabeth Warren and incoming Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asked for $50,000 by executive order on Biden’s first day in office. “You don’t need Congress,” Schumer urged at an outdoor press conference in midtown Manhattan. “All you need is the flick of a pen.”

Among the advocates for immediate executive action were those Occupiers, now calling themselves the Debt Collective, their 2011 demand for full debt cancellation suddenly seeming manifestly reasonable. Yet what few people realized was that it was because of those diehard activists, who’d never stopped organizing around debt cancellation, that we were all talking about it in the first place. For years, they’d faced almost ceaseless derision from the media and political establishment, and now that the issue was gaining traction, they were for all intents and purposes erased, their movement overshadowed by political machinations. For the Debt Collective, this was a big victory. It had taken nearly a decade, but they had finally been eclipsed by their own success.


While working at Syracuse University, Thomas Gokey heard about a protest movement in New York City that was coalescing around many of the same issues of indebtedness and value that had been on his mind for years. He felt called to be a part of it, but Total Amount of Money had just been accepted to the annual ArtPrize exhibit in Grand Rapids, Michigan—an art fair founded by Rick DeVos, son of Betsy, who helps fund it. “And I thought, You know, these things always fizzle. I’m gonna show up, it’s going to fizzle, and then I’m going to miss this opportunity.”

But when Gokey got to Grand Rapids, Occupy Wall Street was still on his mind, and he started talking about it with the people who came to his exhibit. “Those conversations, they all took the same form of like, OK, this is a clever solution to your debt. But what about my debt?’ And I said: Let’s talk about that. What are we going to do?” During the three-week run of the exhibition, Gokey began attending meetings of the Occupy Grand Rapids encampment. When ArtPrize 2011 ended, in early October, he traveled back to New York and made his way to the main Occupy encampment, at Zuccotti Park. Almost immediately, he said, “a switch flipped in my brain. It was like, wait a second, what if we all stopped paying our debt? What if we organized a debt strike? This is how we’re going to gain leverage over Wall Street.”

At the time, no major politicians were talking about canceling student debt. The only measures to address the problem had so far been largely superficial. Two years earlier, Barack Obama had reformed the repayment system, adding a series of plans that pegged monthly payments to 10 or 15 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income and forgave the remaining balances after 20 or 25 years. Obama had also brought the federal loan system entirely in-house: Previously, most borrowers had taken out money from a bank, with the loans insured by the government.

Back in 2010, even this seemed radical. Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander called the move to direct loans a “federal takeover” such as would be expected in the Soviet Union. Nor were the most left-leaning voices in Congress then particularly concerned with student debt. The best any of them could come up with was to propose lowering interest rates or refinancing—pretty standard neoliberal fare. Bernie Sanders’s initial College for All Act, which wasn’t introduced until 2015, made no mention of cancellation. And anyway, it failed.

But on the ground at Zuccotti Park, debt was among the most popular and incendiary topics. “When the occupation of Zuccotti began—and we had no idea who, if anyone, was actually going to show up,” wrote the debt scholar and anthropologist David Graeber in 2014, “we discovered that the largest contingent by far were debt refugees.”

Gokey didn’t discover the student debt working group until after the park was cleared, when he was among hundreds arrested during an Occupy-organized protest. After his release, he was briefly stranded in New York, sleeping in churches while waiting to get back his wallet and cell phone, among other items, from the police. He heard about an event the following week, a launch for the Occupy Student Debt Campaign’s student debtor Pledge of Refusal, in which signatories would commit to stop paying their debts if a million others also did so. Finding himself still in the city, Gokey decided to attend.

Back in Syracuse, Gokey had already become active on InterOccupy, the internal network of the OWS organizers. Also loitering was David Graeber, who would sometimes email the other Occupiers with strange, esoteric ideas. Some of them went over Gokey’s head, like the suggestion of buying up personal debts that were sold on the secondary market. “When I read the email at first, I didn’t understand any of it,” Gokey said. “A couple weeks later, I went back and reread that and was really scratching my head.… I didn’t believe it; it seemed too good to be true—that we could buy and abolish someone’s debt for pennies on the dollar.”

“I didn’t believe it; it seemed too good to be true—that we could buy and abolish someone’s debt for pennies on the dollar.”

Intrigued, Gokey started lurking on debt buyers’ internet forums. Delinquent debts are often sold by their initial lender and wind up on what’s known as the secondary market, bundled in tranches with other debts and traded for a fraction of their total value. Gokey thought if he could cobble together $5,000, he’d have enough to buy up to $1 million of debt. It could be another art project. He spent the next nine months researching how to go about it.

Eventually he started calling debt buyers. “Normally, it’s a waste of time for them to do a deal that’s, like, under $30,000. And so I kept saying, like: Will you sell me just like $50 worth of debt just so I can learn how to do this? And they would just hang up on me.” The buyers were aggressive—all of them men, none of them willing to engage with the thought experiment Gokey was presenting—and the calls never lasted longer than a minute. This was new for Gokey, who was used to enthusiastic cross-disciplinary collaborations. A recent project of his had enlisted a biochemist to give him an oxytocin nasal spray and then help analyze the chemical contents of his tears. “I’d cold-call a brain scientist and say: Hey, can you help me? Can you help me take oxytocin? I don’t know how to do this without getting myself in trouble. And at first, they’re very skeptical and standoffish, and then they’re like: Oh, this is so exciting. I want to help you. Which is why it was so strange when I started cold-calling debt buyers and got a completely different response. And just a total group of jerks.”

One of the buyers ran his own website with tips for getting into the field—finding good debt to buy, avoiding scams, and so forth. This buyer (whose identity Gokey declined to reveal) was one of the people who had hung up on him—several times. But then, weirdly, the buyer started ­Gchatting him late at night. Sometimes he would talk about his family, sometimes the industry, and sometimes he would start spewing crazy antisemitic conspiracies. At last, Gokey persuaded this guy to sell him a small amount of debt: $14,000 worth in exchange for $446, a not-insignificant portion of Gokey’s assets.

Months earlier, Gokey had told some of the other Occupy Student Debt Campaign members about his debt-buying plans. In fact, he’d mentioned it to Ann Larson, an early member of the group, at that very first OSDC event back in November. Initially a bystander, Gokey had found himself pulled out of the audience and conscripted to perform in a mock “graduation day” ceremony, dressed in a trash-bag gown and holding a placard listing his loan balance. Next to him stood Larson, who would soon become a close collaborator and colleague.

“I just remember thinking: This person is insane,” Larson told me. “It was like one of these things when somebody’s talking to you, and you just want to slowly back away.” But once she understood the implications of what Gokey was proposing, she went down the rabbit hole herself. The student debtor Pledge of Refusal abjectly failed, garnering only a few thousand signatures, so the OSDC turned to personal debt in general, a huge component of the 2008 financial crash. The group wanted to find a way to bail out individuals just as the government had bailed out the banks. When Gokey came to them with his research into debt buying, they realized he’d hit on something that could gain them publicity and build momentum for more structural change. Now calling themselves Strike Debt, the activists initially started with medical debt, purchasing $15 million owed by about 2,000 people. They sent the former debtors a letter announcing their windfall. All told, Strike Debt bought up $30 million worth of personal medical and private student loan debt that then just ceased to exist.


Ann Larson joined the Occupy Student Debt Campaign before it even really existed, when it was just a few people meeting regularly in Zuccotti. As Occupy started, she was working as an adjunct in composition and literature at the City University of New York and elsewhere, and, like Gokey, she was alarmed by the amount of debt her students were taking out. But at the time, she said, there was “no movement and no union you could join. It was just like, well, everyone is just going to be disgruntled individually by themselves.” So she was immediately drawn to the calls for a mass mobilization against unjust debts that were coming from OSDC members like the sociologist Andrew Ross and Pam Brown, then a graduate student at the New School. When the group decided to organize its ill-fated pledge, Larson began learning to code and took over management of the OSDC website.

At the time, there were just a few other core members: among them Gokey, Ross, Graeber, Brown, the writer and filmmaker Astra Taylor, and Taylor’s frequent artistic collaborator Laura Hanna (as well as some other members, like the academic and activist Amin Husain, who later left the group, along with Brown, when it divided largely over racial issues). They were working on launching Gokey’s debt-buying project, which they’d started calling the Rolling Jubilee. The organizing took different forms: Collaborators gathered to hash out logistics at Brown’s apartment and Ross’s New York University office, and Larson started working “like a dog” to build a website and other infrastructure.

The Rolling Jubilee launched via a livestreamed telethon in 2012, on the one-year anniversary of Zuccotti’s eviction. Hoping to raise $50,000, Taylor and Hanna rounded up a number of big-name guests, including Janeane Garofalo, performers from Fugazi and Sonic Youth, and Taylor’s partner, Neutral Milk Hotel front man Jeff Mangum. The project, which quickly went viral, collected almost $200,000 through Larson’s website before the event even started. At the close of the telethon, they’d raised nearly $300,000, enough to abolish several million dollars of delinquent debt. “At the end, there was all this confetti, and I just had, like, sweat dripping down my forehead,” Taylor said. “Because I was like, That’s [$300,000] that we have to spend ethically, and we’ve promised not to pay ourselves a cent. And we’ve promised to have it be perfectly audited by professionals and be perfectly transparent. And it was a huge amount of work.”

Among the more time-consuming and emotionally intense tasks was overseeing the email inbox, which fell to Larson and fellow organizer Winter Casuccio. “Messages by the hundreds began pouring into Strike Debt’s email accounts,” Larson wrote online. “The majority were from people begging for help.” “As a Catholic, I am praying,” wrote a man named Tom. “But I feel that God has abandoned me and am entertaining bad thoughts.” Larson and Casuccio tried to respond to every supplicant, but they weren’t able to offer much other than sympathy. “I’m still traumatized over reading those messages,” Larson said.


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WHITE RIGHT: MEETING THE ENEMY (EMMY AWARD WINNING DOCUMENTARY)

Our Life Documentary in which Emmy award-winning film-maker Deeyah Khan meets US neo-Nazis and white nationalists face-to-face, and attends America’s biggest and most violent far right rally in recent years. Khan, who has received death threats in the past after advocating diversity and multiculturalism, tries to get behind the violent ideology in a bid to understand the personal and political reasons behind the apparent resurgence of far right extremism in the US. This film was first broadcast: 11 Sep 2017 Our Life brings you fascinating stories of social interest from around the world. You can discover award winning documentaries, films and groundbreaking reports that capture the complexities of our daily life, with stories that will entertain, inspire and inform. Content distributed by ITV Studios.

HOUSE PANEL VOTES TO ADVANCE BILL ON SLAVERY REPARATIONS

by KEVIN FREKING Associated Press

Monday, April 19th 2021 (local12.com)

Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, center, listens as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Tex., right, chair of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, attends a markup in the House Judiciary Committee of a bill to create a commission to study and address social disparities in the African American community today. Rep. Jackson-Lee is the sponsor of that legislation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

3VIEW ALL PHOTOS Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, center, listens as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Tex., right, chair of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, attends a markup in the House Judiciary Committee of a bill to create a commission to study and address social disparities in the African American community today. Rep. Jackson-Lee is the sponsor of that legislation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) – A House panel advanced a decades-long effort to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves by approving legislation Wednesday that would create a commission to study the issue.

It’s the first time the House Judiciary Committee has acted on the legislation. Still, prospects for final passage remain poor in such a closely divided Congress. The vote to advance the measure to the full House passed 25-17 after a lengthy and often passionate debate that stretched late into the night.

The legislation would establish a commission to examine slavery and discrimination in the United States from 1619 to the present. The commission would then recommend ways to educate Americans about its findings and appropriate remedies, including how the government would offer a formal apology and what form of compensation should be awarded.

The bill, commonly referred to as H.R. 40, was first introduced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., in 1989. The 40 refers to the failed government effort to provide 40 acres (16 hectares) of land to newly freed slaves as the Civil War drew to a close.

“This legislation is long overdue,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the committee. “H.R. 40 is intended to begin a national conversation about how to confront the brutal mistreatment of African Americans during chattel slavery, Jim Crow segregation and the enduring structural racism that remains endemic to our society today.”

The momentum supporters have been able to generate for the bill this Congress follows the biggest reckoning on racism in a generation in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody.FILE – In this Nov. 25, 2019 file photo, Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, proposes a reparations fund during a City Council meeting in Evanston, lll. (Genevieve Bookwalter/Chicago Tribune via AP)

Still, the House bill has no Republicans among its 176 co-sponsors and would need 60 votes in the evenly divided Senate, 50-50, to overcome a filibuster. Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were unanimous in voting against the measure.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the committee, said the commission’s makeup would lead to a foregone conclusion in support of reparations.

“Spend $20 million for a commission that’s already decided to take money from people who were never involved in the evil of slavery and give it to people who were never subject to the evil of slavery. That’s what Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are doing,” Jordan said.

Supporters said the bill is not about a check, but about developing a structured response to historical and ongoing wrongs.

“I ask my friends on the other side of the aisle, do not ignore the pain, the history and the reasonableness of this commission,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

Other Republicans on the committee also spoke against the bill, including Rep. Burgess Owens, an African American lawmaker from Utah, who said he grew up in the Deep South where “we believe in commanding respect, not digging or asking for it.” The former professional football player noted that in the 1970s, Black men often weren’t allowed to play quarterback or, as he put it, other “thinking positions.”

“Forty years later, we’re now electing a president of the United States, a black man. Vice president of the United States, a black woman. And we say there’s no progress?” Owens said. “Those who say there’s no progress are those who do not want progress.”

But Democrats said the country’s history is replete with government-sponsored actions that have discriminated against African Americans well after slavery ended. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., noted that the Federal Housing Administration at one time refused to insure mortgages in Black neighborhoods while some states prevented Black veterans of World War II from participating in the benefits of the GI Bill.

“This notion of, like, I wasn’t a slave owner. I’ve got nothing to do with it misses the point,” Cicilline said. “It’s about our country’s responsibility, to remedy this wrong and to respond to it in a thoughtful way. And this commission is our opportunity to do that.”

Last month, the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, became the first U.S. city to make reparations available to its Black residents for past discrimination and the lingering effects of slavery. The money will come from the sale of recreational marijuana and qualifying households would receive $25,000 for home repairs, down payments on property, and interest or late penalties on property in the city.

Other communities and organizations considering reparations range from the state of California to cities like Amherst, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Asheville, North Carolina; and Iowa City, Iowa; religious denominations like the Episcopal Church; and prominent colleges like Georgetown University in Washington.FILE – In this Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, file photo, Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., raises her fist as she speaks during the March on Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.(Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AP, File)

Polling has found long-standing resistance in the U.S. to reparations to descendants of slaves, divided along racial lines. Only 29% of Americans voiced support for paying cash reparations, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll taken in the fall of 2019. Most Black Americans favored reparations, 74%, compared with 15% of white Americans.

President Joe Biden captured the Democratic presidential nomination and ultimately the White House with the strong support of Black voters. The White House has said he supports the idea of studying reparations for the descendants of slaves. But it’s unclear how aggressively he would push for passage of the bill amid other pressing priorities.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus brought up the bill during a meeting with Biden at the White House on Tuesday.

“We’re very comfortable with where President Biden is on H.R. 40,” Jackson Lee told reporters after the meeting.

HOW LOVE WILL DEFEAT HATE | RUSSELL BRAND & DEEYAH KHAN | UNDER THE SKIN

Russell Brand Documentary filmmaker Deeyah Khan is determined to confront hate and prejudice by meeting some of the most extremist groups in the world. She has sat down with White Supremicists in the US and interviewed former Jihadists to further understand what drives people to join these groups. Her film “White Right: Meeting The Enemy” won an Emmy and is available on Netflix. We discuss the role politics, class, feminism and everything in between plays in relation to this issue. Listen to all the latest episodes of my Under The Skin podcast only on Luminary – sign up for free here: http://luminary.link/russell​ Check out more Under The Skin videos here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list…​ Subscribe to my channel here: http://tinyurl.com/opragcg​ (make sure to hit the BELL icon to be notified of new videos!) Listen to my Under The Skin podcast here: http://luminary.link/russell​ Get my book “Recovery” here: https://amzn.to/2R7c810​ Get my book “Mentors” here (and as an audiobook!): https://amzn.to/2t0Zu9U​ Instagram: http://instagram.com/russellbrand/​ Twitter: http://twitter.com/rustyrockets​ Produced by Jenny May Finn (Instagram: @jennymayfinn)

A recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin would not reduce crime in San Francisco

Violent crime has decreased in The City since San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin took office. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Violent crime has decreased in The City since San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin took office. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Issues of crime and punishment are among the hardest we deal with as a society. Victims deserve justice. Our communities deserve to live safely. Those who come before our courts must have their rights respected and a fair, constitutional process. And we cannot ignore that incarceration can have wide-ranging consequences both for those in jail and for their families and communities.

As a judge, I saw countless cases come before our courts. It was my duty to weigh the facts and rule fairly. By the same token, I believe the people of San Francisco deserve the facts about the recall targeting District Attorney Chesa Boudin. To start, we have to look at the chief argument of recall proponents: that crime has gone up and that rise is directly attributable to Boudin.

Wrong on both counts: Neither assumption has any basis in fact.

As reported recently, violent crime is near its lowest level since 1975. Crimes such as rape, assault and robbery have actually gone down by double digits since DA Boudin was sworn in last year. In fact, the conviction rates of Boudin and predecessor George Gascón are almost identical, but Boudin’s is 5% more successful.

A recent report of the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that over-zealous prosecutions can lead to worse outcomes. In that study, a high prosecution rate of first-time misdemeanor offenses led to more crime, not less. The authors theorize that it could be that putting minor offenders into the criminal justice system leaves them with fewer and worse options than other forms of rehabilitation as they are cut off from educational, employment, and housing opportunities.

District attorneys are themselves limited by information brought to them. Approximately half of all violent offenses never even get reported for a number of reasons. And of those reported, police fail to make an arrest in a similar substantial portion. For example, in San Francisco police only make arrests in around 9 percent of reported burglaries. Put simply, prosecutors cannot move forward on cases if the police don’t provide the evidence to convict.

As a 35-year member and two times president of the Association for Criminal Justice Research of California, I can say with authority that these issues are studied in depth by experts so that jurisdictions like ours have fact-based evidence on which to make policy decisions, not just anecdotal examples of a few unfortunate cases.

This is quite important. Although it is clear we cannot ever eliminate crime, which has been in society for thousands of years, we can work to reduce recidivism and recreate lawful citizens. It is neither easy nor simple to accomplish this goal, but pulling people out of the criminal arena when their crimes are often primarily substance-abuse related would be well worth the effort.

Theft is borne often of poverty, as is homelessness. Likewise, substance abuse is related as a method of making these circumstances more bearable, explaining why increased access to mental health services, community-based solutions and stronger social networks can act to prevent crime.

Incarceration is imperative for heinous crimes, but not necessarily for all lesser crimes. Jailing defendants pretrial, i.e., before any trial or conviction, if based solely on a defendant’s inability to post bond, has now been disallowed in California by our own California Supreme Court. It is more costly to house a misdemeanor or pretrial defendant in our county than it is to put a student through Stanford. Putting our funds into more effective programs often creates an improved result.

Crime is not created nor governed by a single prosecutor. Our district attorney, like any prosecutor, inherits a wealth of problems. These are issues which cannot be solved without the efforts of numerous justice and law enforcement agencies. This does not happen with a snap of the fingers. We need to give our justice agencies and our elected District Attorney Chesa Boudin the opportunity to demonstrate a positive effect in our overwhelmed system.

When I sent a jury to deliberate, I always instructed them to look at the facts. In this recall, I urge San Franciscans to do the same — look at the facts and understand the lack of effect that a recall would have on crime in San Francisco. And I hope you’ll join me in opposing this wasteful effort to undermine our elections and our choices as voters.

Judge Tomar Mason served for 21 years in both the criminal and civil divisions of San Francisco Superior Court, including as presiding judge.

City launches task force to explore Universal Basic Income programs

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs spoke to San Francisco’s new Guaranteed Income Advisory Group on April 16. (Courtesy SFGOV)

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs spoke to San Francisco’s new Guaranteed Income Advisory Group on April 16. (Courtesy SFGOV)

San Francisco on Friday launched a guaranteed income task force that could lead to a pilot program where up to 1,000 residents would receive at least $500 in unrestricted monthly payments.

The 11-member Guaranteed Income Advisory Group held its inaugural meeting to begin working on recommendations for how a pilot program should look in San Francisco, with an eye toward a long-lasting effort.

Guaranteed income, also known as universal basic income (UBI), is a model being tested in a growing number of jurisdictions for its potential to lift people out of a cycle of poverty, address income inequality and improve participants’ overall health.

San Francisco has recently launched some limited versions. A six-month guaranteed income pilot program that just finished receiving applications will give 130 local artists affected by the COVID-19 pandemic $1,000 monthly.

The task force, which was established by legislation adopted by the Board of Supervisors, is overseen by the Treasurer’s Office. There are six additional meetings scheduled, each with a particular theme, with the last in November to discuss its recommendations. A final report is due to the mayor and board by Dec. 1.

The legislation directs the body to address various issues for a pilot program with between 500 and 1,000 participants who would receive a minimum of $500 per month for unrestricted use.

Supervisor Matt Haney, who introduced the legislation, said guaranteed income programs are a way to address the inequality and poverty in San Francisco.

“I do believe it can be transformational,” Haney said. “It is one of the most powerful interventions that we can make and also one of the most simple.”

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs launched a program in 2019 that provided 125 residents living in areas with a median income at or below $46,033 with $500 per month for 24 months.

Preliminary analysis, released last month, found the unrestricted payments increased recipients’ employment prospects, improved health conditions including reducing anxiety and depression, and created financial stability. The study looked at the time period from February 2019 through February 2020.

Tubbs is now a champion of the effort around the country through his group Mayors for Guaranteed Income. He spoke to the task force about the issue.

“Everyone thought we were crazy,” Tubbs recalled when he first announced the program four years ago. “But now we have 50 mayors who have signed on to be part of Mayors for Guaranteed Income. We have pilots going on right now in about eight cities with about seven more coming online that are mayoral-led.”

Tubbs said that “everyone doesn’t have to have luxury,” but “no one should be hungry or not be able to provide for the basics needed to be fully human.”

Task force members said they wanted to explore the idea of providing different amounts of money depending on the specific need and situations of people, as well as more than the minimum in the legislation. They also want to figure out how to have a sustainable model.

“This is San Francisco, the most expensive city in the country,” said task force member Gloria Berry. “Five-hundred dollars in Stockton is different than $500 in San Francisco.”

Treasurer José Cisneros said he looked to the task force to “build something” beyond the pilots to effect long-lasting change.

“Just too many people simply don’t have enough money to make ends meet,” Cisneros said.

The task force will next meet on May 14 to look at the different efforts ongoing in San Francisco and other cities.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Vigil, march honors those killed by police

A protester lights the American flag on fire in front of the SFPD Station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

A protester lights the American flag on fire in front of the SFPD Station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

A woman placed flowers on a memorial to honor Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday. <ins>(Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>“/></a></figure>



<p>A woman placed flowers on a memorial to honor Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)</p>



<figure class=People lit candles at a vigil for victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday. (Jordi Molina/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

People lit candles at a vigil for victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday. (Jordi Molina/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

Noah Roberts and Keith Pavlik hold up signs at a vigil to honor victims in police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Noah Roberts and Keith Pavlik hold up signs at a vigil to honor victims in police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators shout the names of Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at a vigil at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators shout the names of Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at a vigil at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

The family of Roger Allen hold signs at a vigil to honor him and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

The family of Roger Allen hold signs at a vigil to honor him and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Candles and flowers on a memorial to honor Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Candles and flowers on a memorial to honor Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators line up to march from Mission High School to the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators line up to march from Mission High School to the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators confront San Francisco Police officers in riot gear in front of the SFPD station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators confront San Francisco Police officers in riot gear in front of the SFPD station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, talks directly to San Francisco Police officers about the death of her brother outside SFPD Mission Station. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, talks directly to San Francisco Police officers about the death of her brother outside SFPD Mission Station. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, talks about the death of her brother to demonstrators outside the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, talks about the death of her brother to demonstrators outside the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Protesters hold up signs in front of the SFPD Station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Protesters hold up signs in front of the SFPD Station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

A protester lights the American flag on fire in front of the SFPD Station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

A protester lights the American flag on fire in front of the SFPD Station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

A woman placed flowers on a memorial to honor Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday. <ins>(Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>“/></a></figure>



<p>A woman placed flowers on a memorial to honor Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)</p>



<figure class=People lit candles at a vigil for victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday. (Jordi Molina/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

People lit candles at a vigil for victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday. (Jordi Molina/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

Noah Roberts and Keith Pavlik hold up signs at a vigil to honor victims in police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Noah Roberts and Keith Pavlik hold up signs at a vigil to honor victims in police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators shout the names of Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at a vigil at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators shout the names of Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at a vigil at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

The family of Roger Allen hold signs at a vigil to honor him and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

The family of Roger Allen hold signs at a vigil to honor him and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Candles and flowers on a memorial to honor Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Candles and flowers on a memorial to honor Roger Allen, Daunte Wright and other victims of police killings at Mission High School on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators line up to march from Mission High School to the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators line up to march from Mission High School to the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators confront San Francisco Police officers in riot gear in front of the SFPD station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Demonstrators confront San Francisco Police officers in riot gear in front of the SFPD station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, talks directly to San Francisco Police officers about the death of her brother outside SFPD Mission Station. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, talks directly to San Francisco Police officers about the death of her brother outside SFPD Mission Station. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, talks about the death of her brother to demonstrators outside the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, talks about the death of her brother to demonstrators outside the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Protesters hold up signs in front of the SFPD Station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Protesters hold up signs in front of the SFPD Station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

A protester lights the American flag on fire in front of the SFPD Station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)

A protester lights the American flag on fire in front of the SFPD Station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)Next

Crowds gathered outside of Mission High School on Thursday night to denounce police violence and honor the lives of two of the most recent Black men killed by officers.

Roger Allen, a 44-year-old San Francisco native, was shot in the chest and killed by a Daly City Police Officer on April 7, after what authorities have said was a struggle over what officers thought was a firearm. It was actually a replica gun.

Days later, Daunte Wright, 20, was killed by police during a traffic stop in Minneapolis, just miles away from the courthouse where the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who killed George Floyd last year, is taking place.

The march also occurred on the day Chicago police released video showing the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo as he stood with his hands up, fueling widepread horror and outrage.

“I think it’s really important we show up as a community to hold eacxh other in our grief, and also call for defunding and abolishing of the police, prisons and the prison-industrial complex as a whole,” Aditi Joshi, an organizer with Defund SFPD Now, the group hosting the night’s events, said.

Opening remarks from Joshi and others reminded demonstrators that this was a peaceful event, and gave them information on what to do should they be arrested.

But another message was also clear from the night’s organizers, one that called for the defunding of the police as a stopover on the way to abolishing the police force outright.

The premise? That communities keep themselves safe, not law enforcement.

Chants of “we keep us safe!” rippled through the crowd.

Joshi called on the Board of Supervisors, Mayor London Breed and other elected leaders to divest money from law enforcement and redirect it toward social services, housing opportunities and community health, among other things.

“Our budget is a reflection of our values, and our city is choosing to fund violence,” she said.

Roughly a couple hundred people marched down 18th Street, followed by shouts of support from passersby who raised their hands in solidarity, drivers honking their horns and the now-familiar chants of “no justice, no peace.”

They ended at the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission Station, where officers lined the building’s brick exterior, standing behind guard rails and donning helmets.

The crowd gathered in front of the station. Most attendees congregated in the middle of Valencia Street, where chants continued and music played over a loudspeaker.

But some stood closer to the guardrails, directing their comments directly at the officers.

One of those women was Talika Fletcher, Allen’s sister.

“Y’all get to go home. My brother is laying in a morgue right now,” she said, also directing demonstrators to keep their distance to ensure their own safety.

As the night grew later, the crowds slowly dwindled.

Speakers gave rallying cries and shared reflections on their own experiences.

One of those speakers was Maria Cristina Gutierrez, who goes by Mama Cristina. A founder of Mothers on the March, a local organization that seeks to combat police violence, she called for “unity” and “clarity” between all people fighting for a more peaceful future.

“I am sad, but not defeated,” she told the Examiner before her remarks. “We are the givers of life. So we have the duty to fight for life.”

cgraf@sfexaminer.com

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