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Progressive News and Views March / April 2009
Strong Mayor or Political Boss: Can Sacramento learn from history?
By Rick Bettis
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” —George Santayana, Life of Reason
his is not always true; however a serious reading of history provides many examples of this cogent insight. Sacramento Mayor Johnson pushed an
initiative that would amend the city charter to change Sacramento from a Council-Manager to a Mayor-Council or “strong mayor” system of governance. This “strong” mayor would have extraordinary powers, including the authority to veto actions of the city council, control the city budget, and hire and fire city employees. Sacramento did have a “strong mayor” system between 1894 and 1912. Based on a reading of newspaper archives
A January 16 press conference featured former mayor Anne Rudin, left, with Joan Bryant, spokesperson for the coalition “Stop the Power Grab.”
Photo: Bill Lackemacher
Stop the Power Grab
Groups fight mayor’s plan to take power from people
By Cres Velucci
wanted to do in my terms as mayor using the [current] n what may well be Sacramento’s biggest challenge system,” said Rudin. to true representative democracy in a century, social This comment was echoed by Professor Chet Newland justice, labor and other community groups banded of the University of Southern California School of Public together to stop Mayor Kevin Administration, who said, Johnson’s drive to change the city The city attorney released a “While we still need leaders, a charter and create a so-called report suggesting Johnson’s Boss Mayor system does not strong “Boss” mayor. encourage local stars [indiThe proposed ballot measure is “strong mayor” initiative vidual members of the City dangerous and a “blatant power Council] as much as a shared includes more power for grab that could lead to city cormayor system would.” ruption,” said representatives of the mayor than virtually Still others have said they Stop the Power Grab. The Sachave, at the very least, concerns any other city with a similar about how the mayor’s initiaramento City Council also has system. concerns, deciding in February tive was written, without input to form a city charter commisfrom the community and the sion to create its own charter initiative, and possibly city council. counter Johnson’s ballot measure. “We strongly agree that a community-driven process Professors, political watchdog groups and community is desirable [and] all ideas are examined. We believe that activists, including former Sacramento mayor Anne checks and balances are necessary,” said JoAnn Fuller, Rudin, spoke to the city council and stressed the need associate director of California Common Cause. for public input before a charter change goes to voters. Although Johnson in early February announced a hold The city attorney released a report suggesting Johnson’s on the initiative—paid for by big corporate special inter“strong mayor” initiative includes more power for the ests, according to campaign finance reports—to establish mayor than virtually any other city with a similar system. a “strong mayor” system, the Coalition is not relaxing It also creates an “imbalance of powers, lacks important and asks citizens to work together to stop the initiative. checks and balances, and blurs the lines of authority and While not widely publicized, Johnson’s effort failed accountability.” to gather enough valid signatures to make the ballot. A “Every day people in this city are discovering more claim of collecting 37,000 signatures, if true, is about and more things that are wrong with this proposal. In 10,000 short of what is typically necessary to garner the addition to taking away power from the people, this pro32,000 valid signatures to qualify. Usually proponents of posal is going to cost a lot of money,” said Joan Bryant, ballot measures shoot for 50 percent more than actually co-chair of the Stop the Power Grab coalition. required because many signatures are disqualified. “If passed, Sacramento will be a city with one mayor “The mayor’s decision to put this initiative on hold who will have two votes. Instead of appointing five validates what this grassroots coalition has been saying political positions, the mayor will have over 500 political all along, that there are more important issues the city appointments. Instead of our voice being heard by the needs to address at this time…we continue to express mayor, the mayor will never be required to hear from or our strong opposition to this power grab. We encourage be accessible to the public,” said Bryant. the mayor to abandon his current proposal and instead According to former mayor Rudin, corruption and work with us and the community to approach this issue cronyism are why Sacramento reformed its charter durin a more transparent and open manner,” said Bryant. ing the last century. “Boss Mayor” systems don’t have a Groups are encouraged to sign a petition opposing the good history in California. “There is a reason the charter initiative, and to help mobilize against it, at was changed to our current system…it was to get rid of www.stopthepowergrab.com. cronyism. Mayor Johnson has not given the [current] system a chance to work. I accomplished everything I Cres Veluci is active in the Green Party of Sacramento.
and other historical papers it appears that this period of time was plagued by alleged cronyism, abuses of power and controversy. In both news articles and editorials, the Sacramento Bee referred to one prominent mayor of the period as “Boss Beard’ in the same vein as “Boss Tweed,” the famously corrupt leader of Tammany Hall in New York. The Bee and its crusading publisher and editor, C. K. McClatchy strongly supported the progressive reform movement and decried Sacramento’s own version of a political machine. This time frame was the beginning of the Progressive Reform Movement led in California by Governor Hiram Johnson. Much of the impetus for this movement in California came from the inordinate control over California politics and government by the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP), as has been described in such noteworthy books as The Octopus, The Big Four, and recently The Associates. This influence and control also applied to Sacramento City government where the SP was the largest employee in the city, which some considered to be nearly a “company town.” The SP provided employee housing, a company store and operated their own hospital. Alleged practices included pledges of political support in exchange for jobs, behind-the-scenes land and other business deals, and the wholesale use of railroad workers as campaign “volunteers,” including many brought in from out of town. They rounded up voters from downtown saloons, which numbered approximately four in each city block. In addition to the SP, the mayor was closely allied with other business interests. Being a board member or employee of the Chamber of Commerce was essentially a prerequisite to holding public office. There also existed a revolving door between leadership in the Chamber and the city. In 1912, following 18 turbulent years, the city adopted a new charter consisting of five elected commissioners, each responsible for different city services and operations. This system proved to be ineffective, probably due to infighting or turf wars among the commissioners. In 1921 the system consisting of nine elected council members, one of which would be the mayor along with a professional city manager was adopted. This system has been altered, first in the 1970’s with the councilmembers being elected by geographic districts instead of at large
See Boss Mayor, page 3
Inside this issue:
Editorial .................................................... 2 Endangered Species Act in Danger! ......... 3 Budget Cuts and Me ................................. 4 Furlough Fridays ...................................... 4 Language Academy of Sacramento ........... 5 Letter to Obama (Media Policy) ............... 5 Sanctuary City .......................................... 6 High School Poetry Contest ...................... 7 Poem: The 44............................................. 7 Roe v Wade................................................ 7 Reproductive Freedom Day....................... 7 Photo Essay: Faces of Women ................8-9 Sacramento Area Peace Action: Tax Day Actions .................................................... 10 Gaza: A Very Public Lynching ............... 11 How Women Got the Vote....................... 12 Blacks Scapegoated for Prop 8 ................ 12 Preparing for a Progressive Era .............. 13 International Human Rights Laws......... 14 Calendar .................................................. 15 Progressive Media ................................... 16
2 Because People Matter March / April 2009 www.bpmnews.org
Volume 18, Number 2
In this issue of BPM you will find our usual unusual assortment of local, state and international news and views. What BPM publishes is different from what you’ll find in other media. Where else would you hear about the Language Academy’s after-school programs or efforts to establish Sacramento as a sanctuary city? Where else do you read the passionate writings by advocates for the ignored, unseen and disregarded? What other media outlet reminds us of our radical history or points the way to a more inclusive and democratic future? The stories in this issue
Published Bi-Monthly by the Sacramento Community for Peace & Justice P.O. Box 162998, Sacramento, CA 95816 (Use addresses below for correspondence) Editorial Group: Jacqueline Diaz, JoAnn Fuller, Jeanie Keltner, Roger White Coordinating Editor for this Issue: JoAnn Fuller Design and Layout: Ellen Schwartz Calendar Editor: Chris Bond Advertising and Business Manager: Edwina White Distribution Manager: Paulette Cuilla Subscription Manager: Gordon Kennedy
JoAnn Fuller, Coordinating Editor for this issue
also remind us that rights are and can be withheld from large segments of the population. One of the joys of a free press, like BPM, is that it has the power to educate, alert and help us organize. As editor for this issue, I hope the content makes you think, reach out for more information, and enables you to take action! Our volunteer staff has been publishing BPM for more than 15 years. As has happened before, a few of the most dedicated supporters need to step back from leadership. This leaves openings for new distributors, writers, editors and party planners. JoAnn Fuller, Coordinating Editor
Will you consider stepping up? If you would like to know more about BPM, who puts it together and how you might help, join us on Wednesday, April 8 at 7pm at 909 12th St. in the conference room.
BPM is calling for new hands, hearts, and minds
By Jeanie Keltner
Nothing is truer than the old saw, Freedom of the press belongs to the person who owns one. And while many progressive views are supported by a majority of people in this country, you‘d never know it from the corporate for-profit press. So it’s really quite wonderful for a community to have its own paper. Especially when people in that community have news and views they’d like to share. Independent papers widen and deepen the information stream. That’s crucial in a democracy—especially in crisis times like these. So it’s been a matter of deep satisfaction and also pride–as well as lots of FUN!—to have been associated with BPM. For some of us in the old guard it’s been fifteen years! It’s time now for a shift—not a change in aim or orientation—but time for new hands and minds and hearts to add new energies to the process of producing BPM—a process which of course has already changed more than once in this decade and a half. BPM has had wonderful support from all quarters. It has been the sort of project that has seemed to call to itself what it needed at any given time. As one talent would leave, another would almost magically show up. It’s been quite astonishing and a sign, I think, that the paper fills a real need. That’s why, as a few of us move outside the active circle that makes BPM happen, I feel confident that new and substantial volunteer energies will present themselves so that BPM can continue and grow. Indeed, even as I write, there are already some new arrivals on the editorial scene, joining with BPM veterans to make a meaningful paper. But they need help. Substantial volunteer energies are needed—five or so people need to come forward—to join the editorial board, to track finances, to coordinate volunteers, to help with stands. The tasks are not huge or onerous. A clear working framework exists to plug into. We just need a few people who want to see a strong and healthy community paper and who can and want to commit to being part of the core group. Are you one of them? Do you want to give it a try? Contact email@example.com
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March 15-21, 2009
Sunshine Week is a national initiative to raise awareness about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Journalists, civic groups, libraries, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know are promoting this nonpartisan effort to enlighten and empower individuals to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger. Sunshine Week originated from the work of several newspapers and is led by the American Society of Newspaper Editors to coincide with National Freedom of Information Day on March 16. www.sunshineweek.org, www.asne.org , www.nfoic.org, www.lwv.org On March 20, 10-11:30am, Access Sacramento, 4623 T St., will host a viewing of a webcast live panel discussion from the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. on open government and secrecy, the impact on communities and what the public can do. Viewers will have an opportunity to call and email questions to the panelists. INFO: 916-443-1792 x11, or 456-8600, x112. (Local viewing is sponsored by Access Ssacramento, League of Women Voters, and California Common Cause.) California’s Freedom of Information Laws include: Open meetings law: Brown Act: Gov’t Code §54950-54960.5 www.thefirstamendment.org/Brown-ActBrochure-DEC-03.pdf Open Records law: California Public Records Act: Gov’t Code §6250-6268 www.thefirstamendment.org/ca-pra.html Legal protections to journalists: California Shield Law www.thefirstamendment.org/californiashieldlaw.pdf
West Coast Premier: Broadcast Blues
Sunday, March 22, 2009 2 pm
Film Tickets: $10; Students $5 Crest Theater at 1013 K Street, in downtown Sacramento INFO: 456-8600 or 443-1792 x 11
Crest Theater, 1013 K Street, Sacramento
HAVE SOME TIME?
(HA HA HA!) Well, you might have, and BPM always needs help with big and small tasks. Call 444-3203.
For the May/June 2009 Issue: Articles: Please tell us about your article by March 20; article must be received by April. 1, 2009. Calendar Items: April 10, 2009 Cultural events welcome! For details, see our website,
with Filmmaker Sue Wilson Noon–1:30 pm, $20 Crest Café, next to theater RSVP & Info: 456-8600
Clear Channel neglects its emergency system, disaster strikes, and people die. Pentagon pundits profit from the same war they promote. Fox News gets a court ruling that news does not have to be true. And radio talkers rule. Media Policy is killing people in this country. Literally. And it is harming our democracy, too. Corporate financed policymakers have stacked the media policy deck against We the People. Until now. We the People are taking the media back.
Written, directed & produced by Emmy Award winner Sue Wilson Executive Producers, Earl Katz & Marcos Barron
BECAUSE PEOPLE MATTER is an allvolunteer endeavor to present alternative, progressive news and views in Sacramento. We invite and welcome your responses. To discuss a proposed article, or help distribute the paper, inquire about ad rates, or help out in some other way, call or write using the phone number and address listed under ”How to Reach Us” above. Please reproduce from any of the written contents, but do credit the author and BPM. Printed at Herald Printing by Graphics Communication Union DC2 pressmen.
On the cover
The January 16 press conference to oppose Mayor Kevin Johnson’s “strong mayor” initiative. Former mayor Anne Rudin, left, shares the podium with Joan Bryant, spokesperson for the coalition “Stop the Power Grab.” Photo: Bill Lackemacher
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Proceeds to benefit Access Sacramento, California Common Cause and Sacramento Media Group
www.bpmnews.org March / April 2009 BECAUSE PEOPLE MATTER 3
Congressman Radanovich Calls Endangered Species Act “Economic Terrorism!”
by Dan Bacher
arbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta, has issued an urgent action alert in response to the introduction of legislation to temporarily suspend the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as it applies to the California Delta pumping facilities during times of drought. Congressman George Radanovich (R-Mariposa) on February 4 introduced HR 856, the California Drought Alleviation Act, to bypass the ESA so exports of Delta water to corporate agribusiness in the Central Valley can be increased during this period of drought, a drought that has been largely engineered by the draining of northern California reservoirs over the past two years by the state and federal governments. The bill will also establish a Delta Smelt conservation hatchery, a bad idea that was defeated in the State Legislature last year, due to opposition by a coalition of environmental organizations, fishing groups and Delta residents. “By allowing the Delta Pumps to operate at increased capacity, the CDAA allows available water to flow to Valley farmers and provides a stimulus to the California economy without costing the taxpayer a dime,” Radanovich said in a statement announcing the introduction of the bi-partisan legislation. “We cannot allow California agriculture to wither and die because our precious resources are being hijacked by what amounts to economic eco-terrorism in the form of the ESA and the entities that support this damaging law.” Radanovich cited a recent study by UC Davis Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics and UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences claiming that under an expected 85% cut in Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) deliveries from the Delta and a maximum of 50 percent increase in the 2005 regional
groundwater pumping, the Central Valley will lose 40,000 jobs. “To put that in perspective, that is more jobs than General Motors plans to eliminate by 2012,” according to Radanovich. The CDAA would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to operate the C.W. “Bill” Jones pumps at “increased capacity” during times of drought emergency, giving the state “much needed water reserves.” In addition, Radanovich claimed the bill recognizes the “need to protect” the diminishing population of the Delta smelt by directing the Secretary of the Interior to “work cooperatively” with the California Department of Fish and Game in developing a smelt conservation hatchery. “The goal of the conservation hatchery is to sustain the smelt population and determine the primary cause of its decline,” according to Radanovich. However, Radanovich neglected to mention that the state and federal fishery biologists have pinpointed increased water exports, toxics and invasive species as the primary causes of the decline of delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, striped bass and other species on the Delta. Delta residents and environmental justice advocates noted that Radanovich also failed to mention the thousands of commercial and recreational fishing businesses devastated by fishing closures and draconian restrictions spurred by the collapse of Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations. This collapse is largely due to massive exports of water and declining water quality. “Of course, Congressman Radanovich has forgotten the economic eco-terrorism that has been inflicted on commercial fisheries, the Delta sportfishing economy, and Delta agriculture as a result of years of excessive water exports to support Central Valley agribusiness,” countered Parrilla. In a parallel development, the California
Your business could be an underwriter
By Jeanie Keltner
Do you watch Soapbox?(Cable Ch 17, Mondays at 8pm)? Have you appreciated our interest in the things you’re passionate about—NEVER covered by the corporate media? Have you enjoyed our conversations with local activists and analysts about—among many other topics—media consolidation, war resistance, the death penalty, keeping the Internet free, peak oil, bikes, buses and light rail, the Black Panthers, vitamin D, and current politics from a truly left point of view? (Even more, have you been on Soapbox talking about your issue?) Then would you consider making a contribution to keep it on the screen? We have few expenses because everyone, almost, works only for Pieces’ heavenly pizza and undying glory. But we want to cover Access membership fees—for the show itself and for the wonderful crew—as well as other small expenses. Times are very hard to be sure but please, if you can, won’t you consider sending check, cash or money order to 403 21st St. Sacramento 95814, made out to me, Jeanie Keltner, since the show has no bank account. If you’d like to discuss underwriting and some publicity for your business or group, please call me (916) 444 -3203. We believe Soapbox serves the progressive community—and reaches the many people who don’t pick up BPM or tune in to Democracy Now—but who DO channel surf—and end up on Soapbox getting progressive info almost in spite of themselves! Any gift of $30 or more will receive a set of ten postcard reproductions of original Keltner Paris watercolors. PLEASE HELP US!
Soapbox needs your help
Department of Water Resources and US Bureau of Reclamation are trying to accomplish administratively on the state level the same thing Radanovich is doing legislatively on the federal level—weaken Endangered Species Act restrictions protecting Delta and longfin smelt under the guise of a “drought” emergency. The State Water Resources Control Board recently issued notice of a public hearing to consider taking an emergency drought-related water rights action on “temporary relaxation of the February Delta Outflow and the San Joaquin River Flow Objectives in response to current dry conditions.” How you can help? First, call the eight sponsors of HR 856 to express your outrage at their disregard for the economic eco-interests of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Tell them that the business as usual regarding California water policy must end. “Let them know that increased Delta exports in a time of drought will deal the final deathblow to Delta fisheries,” urged Parrilla. “Let them know that the Delta’s $2.5 billion economy is dependent on water flowing into the Delta for fisheries and Delta agriculture. Let them know that Delta farms are mainly family farmers also deserving of economic protection.” Direct them to the Restore the Delta website (www.restorethedelta.org) and tell them that Regional Water Self-sufficiency, rather than moving water from northern California to southern California, is the best way to meet California’s water needs. Tell them that they need to focus on breaking dependence on the Delta to meet the state’s water needs. Self-sufficiency is the cost effective way, in these difficult economic times, to address our water problems. In addition, contact members of the House Natural Resources Committee to express your opposition to H.R. 856. For more information, contact Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, website: www.restorethedelta.org, email: Barbara@ restorethedelta.org. Dan Bacher is a Sacramento writer and activist.
Pizza by the slice
“The most delicious and socially responsible pizza in town” —Jeanie Keltner
1309 21st St Between M and N
from page 1
and the mayor being elected at large. Later in 2002, the position of mayor became full time; however the city manager remains the chief operating officer. This system has fostered diversity and resulted in substantial citizen access and involvement in city government. Returning to the “strong mayor” system raises the specter of potentially returning to the abuses of power of the 1892 to 1914 period as alleged and documented in news accounts of the time. Rick Bettis is a member of the Sacramento Historical Society.
4 Because People Matter March / April 2009 www.bpmnews.org
The Budget and Me
By Jennifer Allen
My name is Jennifer. I want to share with you it was a scary time for me. When I got the hearhow this budget crisis is affecting me and will ing aids I heard the world around me for the first affect all of us. I will talk about these three items: time. It was beautiful sounds to my ears. If I lose Medi-Cal, In-Home Supportive Services and this benefit I would not be able to maintain my Supplemental Security hearing aids at all, and In the In-Home-Supportive- that scares me the most. Income. I get dental, optic and In the In-Home-SupServices program, clients audio help from Mediportive-Services program, Cal, and this is what will are given a level between clients are given a level happen if those services between one and five. I one and five…I am not are cut. Dental health do not know what level a ‘level.’ I am a person is important to every I am in IHSS. I am not human being; it is about a “level.” I am a person who needs this service to teeth. If we have bad who needs this service teeth, our general health maintain day-to-day living to maintain day-to-day will be harmed. Teeth living safely. The cut that safely. are essential to human is proposed is for level living. Teeth help us to eat. How it affects me? I four and below. On paper, IHSS clients may have teeth that are missing and it is hard at times look like level three, but nothing is taken into to eat. Right now no dentist wants to see me for account about the reality of the person’s ability dental work that needs to be done. I would have to do the domestic stuff of living. Let’s say I am to be knocked out due my disability. Having a level three on paper. What that means is my no access to dental care, would put my life in IHSS will no longer help me maintain my home. jeopardy and many others will be in the same I have problems doing the dishes because I canposition. not stand for a long period of time or making Optometrists and Optician/Optical Lab go my bed. I do help doing my laundry. I need help together in my case. I wear eyeglasses. My eyes vacuuming my house. If IHSS is cut everyone will cannot hold contact lens due to my eye ball be in jeopardy in some form or another. My fear which moves very fast in my socket. I am a is that people will be forced into group homes person who, without eyeglasses, would not be because they can not maintain their places. IHSS able to see much of anything. Losing these two says they have family to help them. Well, I don’t. benefits would have a dramatic effect on my day- What about people like me? That is a very scary to-day life. Not being able to see clearly would thought indeed. put me in danger and others, we know, have the From Supplemental Social Security, I get $907 same worries. as of January 2009. What I am hearing is this: Audiology, audio means sound. Audiology The state wants to lower SSI to $830. That is a $77 deals with hearing aids. Sounds are an everyday difference. I was on $830 about four years ago. I thing, but if you are unable to hear clearly then could not live on $830 then, when the economy that is a danger. Without my hearing aids—I was better. What about now? Today’s economy cannot hear the sound of a fire truck’s siren! I is bad on two different levels: state and national. am considered almost deaf without the hearing On top of all this we have not had a steady COLA aids. Technically, my hearing loss is in the range given to us. I wonder why I can not make it on of where voices are found, in the low frequency $907, let alone $830. All that I am saying is that range. I lived for years without hearing aids and being on a fixed income is hard, and having it cut
photo courtesy Jennifer Allen
CAAC Goes to the Movies
ALMOST EVERY MONTH The Central America Action Committee shows interesting and informative videos on social justice, labor struggles, and so much more! Call to see what’s playing this month… WE ALSO HAVE A VIDEO LIBRARY YOU CAN CHECK OUT. 1640 9th Ave (east off Land Park Dr) INFO: 446-3304
is even harder. If these cuts are approved, then we must find a way to ease the consequences. I know cuts have to be made, but there must be a better way than this. Jennifer Allen is an advocate for people with disabilities and member of Capitol People First.
California Budget Project Finds:
The governor’s proposed cuts to the SSI/SSP Program—which helps low-income seniors and people with disabilities meet basic living expenses—would reduce grants to the minimum level required by federal law and suspend the June 2010 COLA. It would eliminate $1.324 billion in grant payments to more than 1.3 million vulnerable Californians. The governor’s proposed budget also eliminates IHSS domestic services for 81,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities. The program provides service to low-income seniors and people with disabilities who live in their own homes to help prevent more costly out-of-home care. www.cbp.org
Furlough Fridays Spread Pain to Workers Already Hurting
By Roger White
The current California budget crisis has featured a familiar set of political villains on what passes for “the left” in California. We’re told by the governor’s office and corporate-owned editorial pages that interest group intransigence is the problem. The unions and state employees they represent are, predictably, major bogymen. This class of workers and voters are singularly selfinterested and driven by materialism and ideology. It’s time they get put in check and realize we all have to sacrifice and in the governor’s words, “share in the pain,” in order to pull through this crisis. OK, they’re in check. A recent California Supreme Court ruling affirmed Governor Schwarzenegger’s authority to force department heads to furlough state workers. I walked through downtown Sacramento during lunch on the first Friday of what is supposed to be a year-and-ahalf-long plan to force California employees to eat two days off without pay each month. The streets were empty and so were all the little shops and restaurants that rely on state worker spending for their survival. These small businesses are also “sharing in the pain.” Governor Schwarzenegger’s demand that state workers take a two-day monthly furlough is primarily about political symbolism. The State expects to save about $1.3 billion over the next 16 months from the furloughs. The deficit is $42 billion—less than three percent of the shortfall. During contract negotiations unions have offered a number of alternative cost savings ideas that would raise as much revenue as the furlough plan. But for the governor, the symbolism is the important thing. Why? Because the extent to which Schwarzenegger can portray state workers as unwilling to “take a haircut,” he can gin up voter support for the kinds of roll backs in labor rights that he failed to win with his disastrous 2005 initiative rout at the polls. The truth is that US workers, both in the private and public sector, have been in pain for some time. While worker productivity has continued its steady increase over the last 30 years, health and retirement benefits have been slashed and real wages remained stagnant. In many cases this decline in wages and over all economic security was felt first and most severely by manufacturing workers in the private sector. But today’s government workers are being told that their retirement health care and pension benefits are “liabilities” that their state employers can no longer afford. Meanwhile, corporate profits over the last 30 years have never been better. Who’s going to make sure that these corporations share in the pain? Multi-billion dollar bailouts don’t sound too painful to me. What’s more important than symbolism is structural budgetary change. Prop. 13, the 1978 property tax cap, left school districts all around the state starving for money. The state general fund has been picking up the tab ever since. As education has taken a larger bite out of the state budget, other priorities that traditionally have relied much less on property taxes—health care and social services—have had to fight over a shrinking pie. Rather than cut vital and popular programs, legislators have simply engaged in deficit spending in bad times and program increases in good times. Maybe the right thing to do in the short term, but not a sustainable solution to the state’s budget woes. Until the state finds a new tax formula for education funding and finds a way to end the super-majority requirement for passing budgets, we can expect more of the same each year around budget time. Roger White is a criminal justice researcher and writer. He lives in Sacramento.
As we go to press, “The Governator” has announced the end of Furlough Fridays; instead, state offices will be open as usual, and workers will “choose” when to take their unpaid days. Thus, the cut in pay and work will be hidden from voters.
www.bpmnews.org March / April 2009 BECAUSE PEOPLE MATTER 5
Promoting Social Justice and Multiculturalism through the Arts
By Fátima L. Castañeda
Established in 2004, the Language Academy of Sacramento Charter School (LAS) came into existence through the dedicated efforts of a dynamic team of community members, parents, and staff persons. A partnership with California State University, Sacramento, helped strengthen its curriculum design and professional development. Now an independent charter school, LAS remains loyal to its mission to educate culturally and economically diverse students, grades K-8, through the use of a dual-language immersion model. This model is designed to achieve biliteracy, multicultural competence and academic excellence while promoting self-motivated, socially responsible lifelong learners. Students at LAS come from diverse social economic backgrounds with over two thirds of the student population from households that fall below the federal poverty line. The enrichment program at LAS provides 77 percent of students the opportunity to attend classes not typically accessible. Community involvement is fostered by helping students develop intergenerational relationships through an after-school enrichment program. Community mentors teach students to utilize various art forms to convey messages of multiculturalism and social justice. For example, students work with a knitting expert to make scarves and hats for homeless children and mothers. The graphic design class creates art that promotes messages of peace, equality and cultural identity. The music production class works in groups to create music with messages of identity and cultural unity. On Saturday March 14th, 10 am–3pm, students will share their art with the community at LAS’ first Spring Art and Food Faire. The Faire is a fundraiser for the after-school enrichment program with the goal of expanding the two day program that currently offers 13 classes including, ceramics, art, capoeira, folklorico, Aztec dance, guitar, music producStudents in the LAS music production program.
photo courtesy Fátima L. Castañeda
A young student in an LAS knitting class.
photo courtesy Fátima L. Castañeda
tion, graphic design and knitting. Diana, a sixth grader, says community members should support the Spring Art & Food Faire because, “This is not just a craft fair; this is a place where you share your culture. Adults should support our program because like us, they were once children with dreams. Our dream is to reach our goals through language and art.” For vendor and booth info or to find out how you can support LAS’s after-school enrichment program, contact Fátima Castañeda at castaneda. email@example.com or 916 277 7137. The craft fair will be held at Language Academy of Sacramento 4500 Roosevelt Avenue Sacramento, CA 95820 Fátima L. Castañeda is Parent and Enrichment Coordinator at the LAS.
Peace Action on the Web
Keep up to date on peace activism in Sacramento. Check out
National Communications Policy Must Advance Public Interest A Letter to President Obama
By Charlene Jones
In January 2009 the Sacramento Media Group jumped into action by joining countless public interest advocates across the country to call upon the new president to loosen Big Media’s stranglehold on American public discourse. In a letter to President Obama and members of the Sacramento region’s congressional delegation, SMG sought policies that will protect an open, affordable Internet, support public media, and increase diversity in viewpoint and voice. President Barack Obama: Thank you for bringing media and technology issues to the forefront of your policy agenda. Your plans call for a crucial shift in national communications policy toward the advancement of public interest. We offer our support and service in pursuit of these common goals. We urge you to select strong proponents of public interest to join your administrative team and embrace proposals made during and after your campaign to shape the future of the media, the Internet, the economy and our democracy as whole. Together we have an opportunity to break with the past and put American consumers and taxpayers first by lifting the grip media industry lobbyists have had on communication policy and media practices. Please continue to emphasize and enact priorities you pledged: Protect an Open Internet—To “take a backseat to no one in my commitment to Net Neutrality and “protect the Internet’s traditional openness to innovation and creativity and ensure that it remains a platform for free speech and innovation that will benefit consumers and our democracy.” November 2007
See Media, page 6
Community Discussion on Local Media
April 2, 2009 (Thursday) 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM Coloma Center Auditorium 4623 T St., Sacramento
Let’s hear from you about how local media can serve our communities. Sacramento area residents, media professionals and media consumers are invited to attend a community discussion on local media to consider these topic areas: • Public Affairs • Diversity • Political Coverage • Community Input • Broadband Internet Access Sacramento Media Group and California Common Cause with Access Sacramento invite interested individuals, community organizations, local media outlets and elected officials to participate in a community discussion designed to hear opinions, stories and suggestions about our local media. The new presidential administration wants to create a more democratic media system and promote universal access to communications technologies. The evening offers an opportunity to share ideas that can contribute to these goals. It will also help us better understand how well our local print, television, radio and Internet media serve their audiences. The discussion will be recorded and a report submitted to local media and the Federal Communications Commission. Feedback may help establish federal policies impacting local media ownership, increased localism, the establishment of community advisory boards, radio and television licensing procedures, and more. JoAnn Fuller, Associate Director California Common Cause 1005 12th Street Suite C Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 443-1792 ext. 11 firstname.lastname@example.org www.commoncause.org/CA Ron Cooper, Executive Director Access Sacramento 4623 T Street Sacramento, CA. 95819 (916) 456-8600 ext. 112 email@example.com www.AccessSacramento.org
6 Because People Matter March / April 2009 www.bpmnews.org
Immigration activists fight to make Sacramento a “Sanctuary City”
Designation would prevent city police from helping federal immigration efforts By Cres Velucci
Council, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), La Raza Network, Chicano Consortium, MEChA, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LACLAA), CAUIL, Green Party and Peace & Freedom Party of Sacramento, Sacramento Coalition to the End the War and Veterans for Peace/Chapter 87, among many others. The SacSS has framed a final draft ordinance to be considered by the Sacramento City Council soon, which would prohibit the use of “city funds for immigration enforcement.” According to Eric Vega, one of the organizers, the ordinance would “prevent the city of Sacramento from funding any office, agency or department of the city, or using any resources to assist the enforcement of federal immigration laws.” It also would stop the city from gathering or disseminating information regarding the immigration status of residents in most cases, he said. Oct. 31, 2008, protesters in San Francisco raids, de“Two years ago the mand an end to Immigration and Customs Enforceslogan was ‘Today we ment (ICE) raids and enforcement of San Francisco march, tomorrow we and Oakland sanctuary city laws. vote.’ Today is here Photo: Puck Lo, indybay.org and there are raids, inhumane detention US—including the city of Sacramento—are pass- practices, split families and real pain in immigrant communities,” said Vega, a California State ing or about to pass laws to prevent their local University, Sacramento professor. law enforcement agencies from enforcing the Federal Immigration Law. In effect, this would The ordinance’s prohibition of cooperation prohibit the police from arresting and holding with federal immigration policies is nearly absopeople solely for suspected immigration law lute—it stops any city employee from assisting violations. any immigration office, investigation, surveilThe immigration-safe communities are called lance, detention or arrest based on immigration “California Sanctuaries,” and if that sounds radilaws. cal, it’s not. More than a dozen cities and counties The ordinance, as proposed, also prevents have already approved these regulations in Calicity staff, including police, from “disseminatfornia—among them, San Francisco, Los Angeing any information regarding immigration les, Oakland, San Diego, Watsonville, and Fresno. status of individuals,” and prohibits Sacramento Dozens of other town in the US, and, at least five employees from “stopping, questioning, arresting states, including Oregon, New Mexico, Montana or detaining” any individual “because of [that and Alaska have prohibitions as well. individual’s] national origin, immigration status The Sacramento Security and Safety Ordinance or on the basis of their ability to speak English or Coalition (www.SacSSO.org) is organizing the perceived or actual national origin.” effort in the city of Sacramento. It’s a working The ordinance also requires the city of Sacragroup of immigrant rights activists bolstered mento to call upon the US Dept. of Homeland by a growing list of support groups, including Security and Bureau of Customs and Immigrathe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tion Enforcement to end all enforcement operaSacramento Chapter, Sacramento Central Labor tions, including worksite and neighborhood Maybe newly-elected President Barack Obama will help fix the previous administration’s misguided efforts to emphasize enforcement of immigration laws with little regard for human rights. Then again, maybe not. Just in case the new administration does nothing, or little, to change policy, scores of cities, counties and other municipalities across the immigration raids, and suspend all detentions and deportations. It would also ask Congress to hold hearings about the impacts of immigration enforcement, and for the immigration debate to be carried out without a “backdrop of fear, repression and intimidation.” The measure calls on the city to ask Congress and the Obama Administration to “redirect funds from immigration enforcement” to services, including the backlog in applications for visas. Finally, the ordinance also mandates the city of Sacramento reject the use of the terms “illegal” or “alien,” and instead refer to those with have yet to receive federally-recognized resident status as “undocumented” and those who have migrated to the US from another country as “immigrant.” “This kind of ordinance has been passed in San Francisco and other parts of the country. We believe the ordinance stands on its own as a community response to the Bush Administration’s misguided efforts to emphasize enforcement with little regard for the human rights of immigrants across the country. “[This] ordinance will act as a catalyst to bring together activists and organizations in a positive political project. It won’t be easy. From Lou Dobbs to Rush Limbaugh, reactionary forces are dumbing down the debate around the complex issue of immigration. We need to be discussing in our communities the various ways we can contest their simple law enforcement strategies and reframe the debate,” said the coalition. For more information, go to www.sacsso. org. Cres Veluci is active in the Green Party of Sacramento.
Some of the Places You Can Find BPM
Coffee Works Crest Theater Dimple Records, Arden Wy Flowers Restaurant Galleria (29th & K) Grinders Hart Senior Center Lido Cafe Light Rail: 65/Folsom 4th Ave/Freeport Los Jarritos Luna’s Cafe & Juice Bar Mercy Hospital, 40th/J Pancake Circus, 21st/ Broadway Planned Parenthood:Franklin Blvd, Watt Ave., 29th St. Queen of Tarts Quick Market Sacramento Bagel, 47th/H Sacramento Natural Foods Coop Sacramento Public Library (Main & many branches) Starbucks (B'wy & 35th) The Beat The Bread Store Time Tested Books Tower Theater (inside) Tupelo (Elvas & 57th) Underground Books (35th St. near B'way) Weatherstone Coffee
Ben and Jerry’s New Presidential Flavors
Ben and Jerry apparently really did create “Yes peCAN!” ice cream flavor for President Obama (with “amber waves of ice cream”). An Internet rumor says they then asked people what the best flavors would be for George W. Here are some favorites: Grape Depression Abu Grape Nut’n Accomplished Iraqi Road Chock ‘n Awe WireTapioca Impeach Cobbler Guantanmallow
Chico Area Davis
Espresso Cafe Roma Davis Natural Food Coop Newsbeat University Mall
Briar Patch Sacred Bee
from page 5
lems.” December 2008 Ensure Open Government—To reverse “policies that favor the few against public interest, close the revolving door between government and industry,” and achieve “a new level of transparency, accountability and participation for American citizens.” December 2008 We represent an active community concern for a more vibrant and diverse media system that will deliver the benefits our fellow Americans deserve and our democracy needs. Sincerely, Sacramento Media Group For more information about SMG, call 443 1792 extension 11; firstname.lastname@example.org Charlene Jones is a member of the Sacramento Media Group
imPeachmint Heck of a Job, Brownie! Neocon Politan RockyRoad to Fascism The Housing Crunch Nougular Proliferation Death by Chocolate...and Torture Credit Crunch Caramel Preemptive Stripe I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands...with nuts
Buckthorn’s Coffee, 7465 Rush River Dr For a more complete list, visit our web site: www.bpmnews.org. Where would you like to see BPM? Let Paulette Cuilla know, 916-422-1787.
Promote Universal, Affordable Broadband— To see that “in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have a chance to get online” by bringing “true broadband to every community in America.” December 2008 Diverse Media Ownership—To create “the diverse media environment that federal law requires and country deserves.” December 2008 Renew Public Media—To foster “the next generation of public media” and “support the transition of existing public broadcasting entities and help renew their founding vision in the digital world.” December 2008 Spur Economic Growth—To “strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world” and leverage technology “to grow the economy, create jobs, and solve our country’s most pressing prob-
www.bpmnews.org March / April 2009 BECAUSE PEOPLE MATTER 7
Roe v. Wade—36 Years Later
By Raquel Simental
Plenty to celebrate in 2009, but battle continues.
reach out to voters in their neighboring state. As anuary 22, 2009 marked the 36th anniversary we all know, our work contributed to an Obama of the US Supreme Court decision Roe v. victory in Nevada and helped catapult him to the Wade, the landmark 1973 case that estabpresidency. lished women’s constitutional right to a safe and Meanwhile in California, a woman’s right to legal abortion. There have been many challenges choice was again under attack in the guise of to abortion rights in the past several decades, state ballot measure Proposition 4. For a third as religious conservatives who oppose the Roe time, voters rejected—by 52 to 48 percent— a v. Wade decision launched campaign after camdangerous initiative that would have put our paign to chip away at the foundation of the law. most vulnerable teens at risk by requiring parenIn the past 15 years, an increasing number of tal notification of a minor seeking to terminate states have passed legislation that makes it much a pregnancy. Planned Parenthood advocates more difficult, especially for teens and poor made it clear this was an attempt to erode the women, to obtain an abortion. In a few states it right to choice and limit access to safe and legal is all but impossible to find abortions. Nevertheless, after Nevertheless, a clinic that will perform the three failed attempts, proprocedure even though access ponents of the initiative said after three to a safe, legal abortion is the they will try to put a fourth failed attempts, law of the land. parental-notification measure In addition to the back-sliding on the ballot as early as 2010. proponents of the of recent decades, the last eight The election of Barack initiative said they years of the Bush administraObama to the White House tion have posed perhaps the and the defeat of Proposition will try to put a most severe threat to repro4 was not only a triumph but fourth parentalductive freedom since the Roe a huge relief to voters who decision. Under President have notification measure believe women mustlegal George W. Bush, anti-abortion the right to safe and on the ballot as zealots were able to affect the abortions. President Obama first ban on late-term pregnanis a national leader commitearly as 2010. cy terminations, which they ted to women’s health issues falsely labeled “partial-birth who will make preserving abortions.” The attack on reproductive rights women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in became so reckless that even contraception came his administration. under fire in Bush administration health policy After commemorating the 36th anniversary of decisions. Roe v. Wade, we can take time to celebrate our Women had a lot at stake during this presiden- chance to regain the ground lost in recent years. tial election. Thanks to Bush’s ultra-conservative However, difficult work ahead remains in order appointments to the bench, the Supreme Court to ensure all women continue to have access to is only one vote away from overturning Roe v. legal and effective reproductive health services. Wade. It was clear that a John McCain/Sarah The right to a safe, accessible abortion for women Palin administration would very likely sink the who have been deprived of it in states where Roe decision and deal a devastating blow to they live must be protected. We must fight to women’s health. assure the next appointed justices to the Supreme With so much on the line, Planned ParentCourt believe in upholding the principles of Roe hood Advocates Mar Monte (PPAMM) worked v. Wade. Most important of all, no one should to help elect President Barack Obama in the forget that this right, which many young women swing state of Nevada, and advocate volunteers now take for granted, is threatened and can still canvassed and phone-banked every week, for be taken away. It’s time to stop turning back the months. Staff members organized rallies and clock. fundraising campaigns to inform Nevada voters Planned Parenthood Mar Monte is the largest about McCain’s dismal record on women’s health Planned Parenthood affiliate in California and and reproductive rights. In addition, PPAMM the nation, covering 40 counties in California and conducted several phone banks in California to northern Nevada. Each year Planned Parenthood
Mar Monte provides health care and education to more than 230,000 women, men and teens. Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization formed as the political advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Advocates protect women’s health and privacy through lobbying and public policy, electing pro-choice candidates at all levels of government and identifying, educating and mobilizing pro-choice voters. For more information, 916-446-5037 www.plannedparenthood.org/mar-monte. Raquel Simental is Director of Public Affairs— Sacramento Region, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.
If you want to help keep BPM going, will you consider stepping up? If you would like to know more about BPM, who puts it together and how you might help, join us. Wednesday, April 8, 7pm at 909 12th St. in the conference room.
Announcing the Sacramento Poetry Center’s Third Annual High School Poetry Writing Contest No cost to enter! Deadline April 15! The Sacramento Poetry Center welcomes submissions from high school poets. Poems should not have your name on them. Instead, please include a separate cover letter with your name, address, phone and email address, and the title/s of your poems. Also indicate the name of your school. Be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you want notification of winners. Limit of three poems per student. The postmark deadline is April 15, 2009. Good writing and good luck! Prizes include: • $100.00 for our Grand Prize winner • Free books and swag for finalists • Publication in Poetry Now, the monthly journal of the Sacramento Poetry Center • Grand Prize winner will receive an invitation to read their work at the Sacramento Poetry Center in the summer. Send your original poems to: High School Poetry Contest Sacramento Poetry Center P.O. Box 160406 Sacramento, CA 95816 Email submissions will be accepted: send to tulereview@sacramentopoetrycenter. org Put “SPC HS CONTEST” in the subject line. Include above information sheet as the body of the email, and send each individual poem as an attachment—MS Word documents only. Questions? email tulereview@sacramentopoetrycenter. org
High School Poetry Writing Contest
Take action, create change!
Reproductive Freedom Day
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 8am-4:30pm Sacramento Convention Center California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom www.reproductivefreedomca.org
Come learn about current reproductive health and justice issues, meet other activists from around the state, and tell legislators why reproductive rights are important to you and your community. In addition to informative workshops and inspiring speakers, the day’s agenda will include training on how to make legislative visits and education about the issue you will be lobbying. Highlights from this year’s agenda: Generation Awards for two outstanding
advocates and a lively panel discussion of the history and future of reproductive rights! Workshops on Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice, Advocacy in Tough Economic Times, Reproductive Justice and Latinas (en Español), Prop 8 and LGBTQ issues, Youth Creating Reproductive Justice, and Defeating Prop 4: Innovative Organizing in Communities of Color! For more information contact Kelly Dawson, email@example.com.
8 Because People Matter March / April 2009 www.bpmnews.org
Red bow Bashful blossom Butterfly Mariposa Takes flight in her Day dream (San Francisco, Yerba Buena Kid Zeum)
Alchemists Urban Farm Stand Offerings para las comunidades de Sacrazlandia Wendy, la mexica danzante Handles and sells at her neighborhood Community Carpa As intern in training standing como la role model pa’ sus carnalitas (Sacramento, River Garden Estates/SMHA )
Fresh, alive and organic produce
Regalia, hand made and worn con orgullio
Inner beauty that graces the aged rhythms and movements De homeland gatherings and rites of passage Sonrisas that shine such radiant passion Their presence brings the there here and we see that we are ONE (Sacramento, Southside Park)
Madre, hija y companera de la lucha
Standing before relations Thanks Taking ceremony lead by AIM Reflections of la Diosa in triple effect Tobacco offerings made by the thousand in attendance Sisters carry light forth in unity and struggle (San Francisco, Isla de Alcatraz)
Sun Rise celebration Rejoicing Renewal of all Relations Sisters Adelita y Jennie preparando el altar Of the West and y sus energies,sybolos y alegria (Winters, DQU Sunrise ceremonia; QuetzalCoatl Citlalli)
Sacred Fire burning messages
www.bpmnews.org March / April 2009 BECAUSE PEOPLE MATTER 9
Free stylin’tradition Urban henna cuerpo arte Stroked por ancestor echoes Visions of adorned mujeres con Flor y paisley yerbas Sagradas rising thru skin Story cuentos de Amor and their potencia (Sacramento, Washington Neighborhood Centro)
Watching alongside la maestra
Nena Mika cautiously observes angels and santo In a teatro ritual Eyes glowing como el Peace within (Sacramento, Camellia Waldorf School)
Sister Riza paints her visions
Corazon beating Truths of a liberated Alma in motion Osun y Yemaja bendiciones bestowed unto todos celebrando los colores del mundo sagrado Entre arte y espiritu (Sacramento, CC Plaza)
Con sus companeras
She forged change Des de las calles to City Hall steps adelante y la lucha sigue (Sacramento, Southside Park/ SMHA/function)
Carry forth trabajo of communidad a Joy and happiness of being Belleza Talented Gifted September memories de Breaking bread with friends y familia Cultivating Paz (Sacramento, Southside Park/ SMHA function)
Sister friends y sus sonrisas
Photos and text by YaYa Porras, Community Organizer for Sacramento Mutual Housing, and more importantly, her son’s mom.
10 Because People Matter March / April 2009 www.bpmnews.org
916-448-7157 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.sacpeace.org
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” - Dwight Eisenhower
jected into the future to cover care and pay for wounded veterans, replenishing the military, and debt service, etc., to be three trillion dollars! (The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict, with Linda J. Bilmes.) What would the state of our nation be if that money had not been squandered on a war based on lies? What would a peace economy look like? According to the National Priorities Project Database, taxpayers in Sacramento, California will pay $779.1 million for total Iraq war spending approved to date. The same amount of money could have provided 320,668 people with health care; or 11,006 music and arts teachers; or 2,332 affordable housing units; or 13,919 public safety officers. (From www.nationalpriorities.org)
Sacramento Area Peace Action (SacPeace)
Tax Day Actions
Sacramento Area Peace Action will sponsor Tax Day actions on April 15, including information tables at US post offices, in conjunction with Sacramento Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, where “peanuts for taxpayers” are handed out with flyers depicting the billions of tax dollars for the Pentagon. Check www.sacpeace.org for this year’s actions.
The Costs of War: A Grand Theft
It’s tax season. This time of year, we pitch in a portion of our hard-earned dollars to help fund public transportation, Head Start, state universities, medical research, public works, and a myriad of other programs widely benefiting Americans. About half of our tax payments, though, only benefits defense corporations and the largest military in the world, and funds widespread death, destruction, and pollution world-wide. This year, April 15 also serves as another reminder of the economic crisis we face. President Obama has proposed an $800 billion economic stimulus plan to re-start the failing American economy, including grants for “shovelready” infrastructure projects. With California facing an estimated $40 billion deficit and a painfully overdue budget, the City of Sacramento looking at more than $10.5 million in shortfalls, and the County facing a $55 million debt, these measures are much-welcomed. However, Obama faces skepticism and opposition from fiscal conservatives, as deficit hawks oppose fighting debt with more debt. But those who demand a peace economy—not a war economy—propose funding stimulus packages through drastic cuts to the Pentagon budget, including savings from withdrawing from the morass of Iraq and Afghanistan. The egregiously disproportionate amount of money spent on the military and its related costs continues to feed the massive debt faced by the world’s “richest” nation. Redistributing the Pie Congress acquiesced to former President Bush’s requests for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without raising taxes. No taxpayer has yet been asked to sacrifice for these military adventures, but now the burden is falling on our heavily indebted nation, and will continue to drag on our economy and future taxpayers. According to statistics compiled by the War Resisters’ League, using the Department of Defense’s (DOD) figures, 54 percent of our tax dollars will go toward military spending this year. Missile defense alone is budgeted at $8.8 billion. Military costs range from the more obvious, nuclear weapons, research and development, and personnel, down to hidden costs that may take decades to manifest, such as the impact of posttraumatic stress disorder. Other societal costs stemming from the impact of military service, such as elevated levels of domestic violence and mental health issues, can wreak havoc on family and public budgets alike. Future costs of war and occupation, such as rebuilding occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, are not even included in the DOD’s figures. (Statistics compiled by the War Resisters’ League: www.warresisters.org.) Nobel laureate-economist Dr. Joseph Stiglitz has estimated the cost of the war in Iraq, pro-
But What Can I Do?
You can work to educate your friends, colleagues, and community about the economic impact of war and militarism. You can advocate for changes to the budget structure. Pay a visit to Rep. Matsui’s office, with your fiscal message. You can refuse to pay the percentage of your owed taxes that would be put toward military use. War tax resistance has long been a form of civil disobedience, employed by the likes of the Quakers, Gandhi, and Henry David Thoreau. Some war tax resistance organizations offer taxpayers the opportunity to divert their money away from war taxes, and into alternative funds. Direct Aid Iraq, recommended by the 2009 War Tax Boycott campaign, sends money to Jordan and Syria to provide medical care to Iraqi refugees. Money collected by the Northern California War Tax Resistance is deposited into their People’s Life Fund, and given away via grants or direct donations. The People’s Life Fund supports essential human needs such as health care, food, and housing; organizations working for social justice and sustainability; and efforts to educate taxpayers about war tax resistance. Some alternative tax funds offer taxpayers a safe deposit option for use in case they are investigated by the IRS and ordered to pay back taxes. For more information, see: www.dontbuybushswar.org/ www.warresisters.org www.wartaxboycott.org www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Tax_resistance www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ History_of_tax_resistance www.nationalpriorities.org/ www.nowartax.org www.hopedance.org/new/issues/43/ article5.html “Let them march all they want, so long as they continue to pay their taxes.” Alexander Haig, Secretary of State, 1982
Palestine Speaker Series
Third Tuesdays, 7PM 909 12th Street, Sacramento, Info: 916-448-7157, www.sacpeace.org March 17 – Environmental Issues of Occupation, Dr. Henry Clark, Exec. Director, West Coast Toxics Coalition April 21 – Divestment, Afif Wensky, member of the National Council of Arab Americans (NCA) May 19 - Current Realities/One State, Dr. Jess Ghanam, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, UC San Francisco, and board member of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. June 16 - Two Sacramentans’ Impressions of Palestine, Maggie Coulter, Sacramento Area Peace Action president, and Patricia Daugherty, Peace Action member and community activist. Organized by Sacramento Area Peace Action, Al-Awda Sacramento, and National Council of Arab Americans.
If you want to help keep BPM going, will you consider stepping up? If you would like to know more about BPM, who puts it together and how you might help, join us. April 8, 7pm at 909 12th St. in the conference room.
Get your STOP WAR Lawn Sign! Order from SacPeace, 916-448-7157 Sliding scale $5-10.
Resources for Enlisted Personnel & Veterans
Discharges • DEP • Discrimination • Gay • AWOL/UA • Harassment • Hazing• Conscientious Objection Call for information from a network of nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations. The service is free. The call is confidential.
The GI Rights Hotline, www.girights.org, 800-3949544
Free & confidential counseling: 916-447-5706; www.therapistsforsocialresponsibility.org;
www.bpmnews.org March / April 2009 BECAUSE PEOPLE MATTER 11
Gaza: A Very Public Lynching
By Brigitte Jaensch and Paolo Bassi
undreds of thousands of angry, shocked 2006. The blockade has effectively destroyed people all over the world protested Gaza’s economy. Only international humanitarian Israel’s three week assault on Gaza, but aid is keeping Gaza afloat—when Israel allows it western governments, in particular Britain and in. The European Union and the US have done the US, stayed silent—it was business as usual. next to nothing to pressure Israel to lift the blockThe Israeli Defense Force (IDF), in 22 days ade, a blockade which is nothing if not economic starting December 27, 2008, leveled parts of Gaza terror. and killed about 1,300 Palestinians, of whom 900 Other than the rocket attacks, the media prowere civilians and about 400 children. It was the vided little to explain the latest conflict. Hamas worst violence since 1967. (Factual statements is an armed Islamist political organization for from Inter Press Service except as noted.) whom Israel is the enemy but that in itself did not Throughout the attack, Washington, London, lead to the conflict. What Israel and its western the American corporate media and even the backers could never tolerate was that Hamas got famously “objective” elected—Hamas, the very BBC, stayed on mesIsrael’s war is never called entity Israel and Washingsage maintaining Israton helped establish in the el’s right to defend itself by its true name while the 1980s to weaken Yasser from Hamas’s rockets. Arafat’s Fatah and divide Palestinians are reduced In truth, these rockets, the Palestinians. while capable of killing, to a mere humanitarian To justify the Decemare primitive compared problem rather than being ber 2008 invasion, Israel to Israel’s F-16s, tanks alleged that Hamas had victims of Israel’s violence violated the six month and helicopter gunships, all supplied courtruce that expired on tesy of the American taxpayer. December 19. In truth, Israel had been planning Completely missing was the voice of President- to attack Gaza since Israel’s August 2006 war on in-waiting, Barack Obama. As the bodies piled Lebanon. Funded with US tax dollars, the US up in Gaza, Obama maintained his silence by Army Corps of Engineers had even built Israel a claiming that the US only had “one president at a model of a Gaza town at Israel’s National Urban time.” However, given his very public expression Training Center at Baladia in the Negev Desert. of allegiance to Israel and to the American Israel The actual invasion was never a question of if, Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), it is unlikely just when. that he would have stayed silent were Israelis A clue that an attack was imminent came being killed. around November 2008 when Israel began barEven after his triumphal inauguration on ring foreign journalists from Gaza. During the February 20, Obama stuck to the depressingly invasion, it was Arab reporters and humanitarian familiar line about Israel’s need for security, while workers inside Gaza who got the news out. They also reported that Israel was using new kinds of weapons. Gaza’s doctors have lots of experience treating wounds, but now they encountered new kinds of injuries. Dr. Sobhi Skaik, consultant surgeon general at Al-Shifa hospital described “loss of life …. for reasons that are unexplainable medically.… It is possible the Israeli army was using Gaza to experiment militarily.” Then added, “What is being intentionally created is a population of handicapped people.” One weapon severed limbs so quickly that the victims did not immediately realize what had happened. Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIMEs) can do this. If DIMEs don’t kill outright, its metals once in the body cause an aggressive form of cancer. Dr. Karim Hosni, an Egyptian doctor volunteering his services at Al-Naser hospital in Khan Younis confided, “Sometimes I wish my patients would just die. Their injuries are so horrifying, that I know they will now have to lead terrible and painful lives.” TV news also showed bombs exploding like fireworks above Gaza. There were reports about January 25--Temporary shelters in bodies charred, melted and fused together. This Jabalia: This family has no clothes is what white phosphorous does to human flesh. other than those they are wearing. If inhaled it destroys the lungs and once in the www.talestotell.wordpress.com/ system, it shuts down internal organs, starting with the liver. adding some banal platitudes about the humaniIt’s not as if the IDF is short of traditional tarian crisis in Gaza. Israel’s war is never called by weapons. Israeli bombs, tactical missiles and its true name while the Palestinians are reduced munitions pulverized a university dormitory, a to a humanitarian problem rather than being science building, UN schools, food warehouses, victims of Israel’s violence. mosques, hospitals, medical centers, apartment Whenever Israel commits military aggression buildings, government offices and even a food in the region, whether bombing Gaza or invading processing plant. Israel claimed “militants” were Lebanon, criticism in London and Washington is in all these places including a sewer treatment non-existent. Israel is given free reign to achieve facility, which the Gazans had barely managed to its military objectives. Only after there are too repair after an IDF attack in July 2006. Now Gaza many dead Palestinians to be ignored, are there must deal with billions of dollars in new damage. murmurings about a need for restraint. According to Amnesty International, Israeli Obama has appointed a special envoy to the soldiers looted, vandalized and ransacked houses. Middle East, former Senator George Mitchell, They smashed furniture and left personal items whose stated aim is to secure a sustainable cease- strewn, sometimes soiled with urine. In one fire. However, this may be impossible if Washhouse the IDF left cardboard boxes full of excreington and Israel insist on excluding Hamas from ment even though the house had a functioning the negotiations. toilet. In a few cases, families were used as human Mitchell will also have to deal with Israel’s shields. Houses had holes punched through the three year economic blockade of Gaza which outer walls, which soldiers used for lookout and started when Hamas won the election there in sniper positions. They drew on walls and wrote
Mahoud Abed Rabbu lived in a 3 floor, six apartment building. On January 6 it came under shell attack from 10.30. At 2pm during the 1-4pm “ceasefire”, the army dynamited a wall open and told Mahoud and his family “leave here, go into the town, we’ll kill you if you return.”
things like “Arabs must die,” “One down, 999,999 to go,” “Make war not peace.” (Ynet News). In Hay al-Salam, Israeli soldiers confined Abu Abdallah, his wife and nine children, in their basement for two days. “… the soldiers did not allow us to go get water. I had to take water from the toilet cistern … for the small children to drink.” (Ynet News). More than 2,000 bombs were dropped on Gaza in 22 days. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations condemned Israel’s use of unconventional weapons in civilian areas. The words “war crimes” have even been uttered. Although the US would never allow any war crimes tribunals, some headlines indicate Israel is concerned, “Israel acts to block war crimes charges.” (The National) and “Israel forms war crime defense team.” (Al Jazeera). After Israel’s ceasefire on January 18, 2009, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon visited Gaza and called what he had seen “shocking” and “appalling.” However, by then, the media were chasing a new story: Barack Obama’s inauguration. This last invasion was in reality a more dramatic version of life in Gaza, which has been occupied or controlled by Israel since 1967. Violence and repression have become part of life. Israel may have withdrawn its settlements in 2005, but it reminds Palestinians each day that they are a colonized people. Since 2005, in addition to the 1,300 Palestinians killed in the latest attack, over 800 others have been killed by Israel. In the West Bank, Palestinian property is routinely destroyed or confiscated. No one leaves without Israel’s permission and those who do, have no guarantee of being allowed to return. Between March 2006 and December 2008 more than 250 Gazans died because Israel denied them access to medical attention outside Gaza. In the same period, Hamas’s rockets killed 12 Israelis. This too is a human tragedy. However, if Israel can kill 1,300 by claiming the right to defend itself, why is the same right not afforded to the Palestinians?
See Gaza, page 13
12 Because People Matter March / April 2009 www.bpmnews.org
How Women Got the Vote
Parallel activism to win equality
By Rick Bettis
The commemoration of Women’s History Month would be incomplete without recognition of two leaders in the historic struggle for equal rights for women. Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt worked together and in parallel to convince people across the nation to allow women to vote in US elections. Their efforts suggest a lesson in how to work to solve the same monumental problem, using quite different approaches to create social change. Alice Paul was brought up with her parents’ belief in the equality of the sexes, one of the Quaker religion’s basic principles. In 1907 she went to England to study social work where she met Christobel Pankhurst and her mother Emmeline, leaders of the radical suffrage movement. Paul joined the movement, and participated in many acts of civil disobedience, being arrested and imprisoned on several occasions. The suffragettes protested their confinement with hunger strikes and were forcibly fed in a brutal
Noon Hour Witness Against the Death Penalty. Third Mondays 12noon to 1pm. 11th and L Streets State Capitol INFO: 455-1796
In 1913 [Alice Paul] and friend Lucy Burns organized a massive parade by women down Pennsylvania Avenue, scheduled to coincide with the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson.
fashion. Paul took strength from the notation often etched on their prison cell walls, “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God!” This quote from Thomas Jefferson was later adopted by Susan B. Anthony, another American suffragette as she noted the Pankhurst’s militant efforts had roused England out of its lethargy. Paul returned to the US and, as a student at the University of Pennsylvania, joined the National American Women’s Suffrage Association founded in 1869 by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. There she met Carrie Chapman Catt who was president of NAWSA in 1900 and remained a leader in the organization until suffrage was achieved. Catt trained as a teacher and worked as a school principal and superintendent of schools in Iowa, and as a newspaper reporter. Her speaking and organizing skills, however, soon led her to leadership in the NAWSA. Following the
Elizabeth Freeman of the New York State Suffrage Association, with horse and carriage, on her way to join the March 3, 1913 suffrage march in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Library of Congress Archives
Inez Milholland Boissevain, wearing white cape, seated on white horse at the National American Woman Suffrage Association parade, March 3, 1913, Washington, D.C.
Photo: Library of Congress Archives.
passage in 1920 of the 19th Amendment that allowed women to vote, Catt founded the League of Women Voters and served as its honorary president until her passing in 1947. She was also a founder of the Women’s Peace Party during World War I and helped establish the League of Nations after the war. After World War II, she worked for the United Nations. Between the wars she worked on refugee relief efforts and for child labor protection laws. Catt was widely respected, met with national leaders including Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, and was a longtime friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. Paul, on the other hand, went to Washington, DC to organize in true Pankhurst style. In 1913 she and friend Lucy Burns organized a massive parade by women down Pennsylvania Avenue, scheduled to coincide with the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. They focused their
See Vote, page 13
Progressive Talk Show Access Sacramento, Channel 17 with Jeanie Keltner. Monday, 8pm, Tuesday noon, Wednesday, 4am. Now in Davis, Channel 15, Tuesday, 7pm.
Blacks Scapegoated for Prop. 8
By Roger White
The black electorate in California’s last election showed both its tendency to support progressive politicians and the internal contradictions of its cultural politics. Because of our battles and victories over enslavement and race domination in the US, African Americans have occupied a unique space in the worldwide struggle for justice and peace. That space has always been defined by the Southern Christian Church—an institution with deep conservative roots as well as a tradition of leading movements for radical social change. This is why so many blacks had no conflict with voting for Barack Obama for president and voting in favor of Prop. 8, the November 2008 measure that constitutionally banned same sex marriage in California. Obama and the Democratic Party came out against the ban; blacks in California voted 69% in favor. I was not a supporter of Prop. 8. Marriage is not fundamentally religious in the US. One can get married at a ceremony involving religious rituals and rites or at city hall. Most significantly for the government, marriage is a civil contract between two people and the state for certain rights, benefits and responsibilities. The notion of denying adults of the same sex the right to enter into these contracts because homosexuality is considered a sin to Bible-believing Christians or devout Muslims or orthodox Jews runs counter to every reasonable interpretation of the separation of church and state. And what about regular old equal protection? In theory the state just can’t willy nilly decide to deny constitutional rights to whichever group is out of favor with the majority at any given moment. Before the state can strip away rights to freedom of association they have to offer some evidence that the law—in this case ban—is reasonably related to some legitimate state interest. What legitimate state interest is California protecting by denying the right to marry to same sex couples? Not one. It’s protecting religious-based bigotry. The State of California Constitution does not trump the US Constitution. The most obvious question—how could so many blacks, who better than any group in the US understands the pain of bigotry and discrimination, support an amendment that wrote into the California Constitution the denial of a basic right enjoyed by heterosexuals—is also the most stupid to many blacks. The two are different because you can’t choose to be black and you can’t hide it either—both things gays and lesbians can do when it suits them. This position assumes that people who have the audacity to take responsibly for their sexual choices and be open about them deserve what they get. No. The experiences of slavery, mob violence, Jim Crow and race discrimination are not “the same as” religious based condemnation, cultural marginalization and anti-LGBT violence and discrimination. But yes you can compare the two. Both struggles have had to battle against democratic majorities that were against recognizing that their communities were entitled to live in dignity. Both struggles have been people’s movements lead by organizers and street agitators not professional politicians and elites. And both struggles have the same right-wing enemies—the Republican Party, and the racist and fundamentalist elements of the Christian Right. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released a study in January 2009 that actually showed black support for Prop. 8 to be 11 points lower than the 69% claimed by the exit polls. But the high percentage of black voters in support of banning same sex marriage shouldn’t have come as a shock to anyone who’d been paying attention. It is true that for years black civil rights groups like the NAACP have been supporting same sex marriage. In 2005 Julian Bond, the national chair of the NAACP stated, “Gay rights are civil rights,” and declared that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Loving v. Virginia legalizing interracial marriage established matrimony as one of the “basic rights of man.” In California the organization came out against Prop. 8. The Sacramento Urban League, and the Black American Political Association of California also came out against Prop. 8. Nationally groups like the Radical Black Congress also have come out in favor of same sex marriage. But these moves sometimes have run counter to rank and file attitudes in these organizations. It’s not a secret that many in black communities are homophobic and have a hard time talking about the subject of same sex attraction, sex and relationships. This fear-based silence, along with a lack of public health and medical research dollars, is perhaps the real reason that AIDS went from being a “gay disease” to being a black one. But when we look at why so many blacks supported Prop. 8 we miss a more important point if we limit ourselves to that question. More importantly only because of their larger portion in the electorate, why did so many whites vote for it? Over 3.1 million did. Compare that to the approximately 500,000 black voters who supported the marriage ban and it becomes clear that there’s an awful lot of sensible, middle class, white Christians in California who think it’s okay to strip rights from people because they’re queer. Who’s teaching them toleration? Roger White is a criminal justice researcher and writer. He lives in Sacramento.
www.bpmnews.org March / April 2009 BECAUSE PEOPLE MATTER 13
Preparing for a Progressive Era
By Pete Martineau
Contrary to popular belief, the Congress, not the president, runs the country. President Bush said his second term would be devoted to privatizing Social Security. House Republicans soon sent him word that no such legislation would ever pass. He dropped the idea. Barack Obama excited millions looking for a new and fair deal, and won the presidency by a large margin. However, congressional seats are far more important to the conduct of democracy. It was the winning of large progressive legislative majorities that will pass the bills instituting congressional and presidential recovery and progressive programs. The powers of government, to protect and empower the citizenry, are held by the Congress. Only it has the power to tax, regulate, make war, and provide health care, justice and equality. The theme of our Declaration of Independence is that governments derive “…their just powers from the consent of the governed….” Legislative decisions, even during Democratic majorities, have often contradicted the needs and desires of constituents. Why? A few of the major problems: Nationally, about 40 percent of voters in our single seat voting system receive no House (or Assembly) representation when their candidates lose. Polls continually show that Americans want more parties in their legislatures, but our present voting system disallows that. Constituents have poor ability to interact with legislators due to having voted for the loser. There is no connection with the winner. Unconscionable campaign costs stop new parties and good candidates. One of the undemocratic results of all this is that moneyed special interests have great and undemocratic control over legislation. What can be done? Seventeen of the 21 developed democracies use the multimember district and proportional representation (PR) voting system. None has ever looked back, and their experiences are the evidence for the following assertions. Voting blocs receive seats in proportion to the PR votes they receive. Multi-party legislatures result. An example of using this: let us combine say, six Congressional districts into one and elect six members from it. Gerrymandering is virtually impossible. Using PR voting, only 14 percent of the vote would elect a seat. All voters including the former 40 percent with no representation would choose candidates who can win. Many more eligible voters would register and turn out, and thus many more voters receive representation, a major hallmark of democracy. Some minority views held by Greens, Libertarians and others would finally elect seats nationwide, while Democrats and Republicans would still win a majority of the six seats. Stable, coalition, consensus governments arise, like the Western European model. Back in our district campaigns, the multi parties will attack other party programs, not other party candidates. Campaign costs are far less, in large part because of this. Even more importantly, PR builds accountability; if legislators do not follow their party’s program, it is much easier to oust them. Parties would also be easier to vote out, so voters could easily cause the end of party practices like secretly adding “earmark” spending to bills, spending neither discussed nor voted and thus both unjust and illegal. Because it would be virtually impossible to draw districts to favor certain parties, competition for seats soars, also improving turnout, voting, representation and accountability. Most developed nations use PR; it is not radical, does not alter our system of government, and is constitutional. When California and US stories of legislative irrelevance and corruption become unconscionable, at some point they combine with opportunity, leadership and citizen voice to produce change, the voice that proportional voting can provide. Pete Martineau is founding board member, Californians for Electoral Reform and board member of the national electoral reform organization, Fairvote.
By Bill Gainer
I didn’t vote, I gambled and I gambled on you. You won, you got the job, you’re big gun, the 44. Your hundred days are ticking. The time for talk, hope and promise is gone— pull the trigger. Bring the kids home— the soldiers, feed the little ones – the children, and make sure the old ones have a warm bed, a bowl of soup and something to hang on to. Let the historians say he was more than a guy with a good looking wife. Let them say HE WAS THE FIRST ONE to get the job done. Bill Gainer is a poet from Grass Valley. www.billgainer.com/
from page 11
unemployment is now a staggering 80%. How is a society like Gaza, under such immense pressure, supposed to survive? Docility emboldens Israel and military resistance enrages it. What should be clear by now is that Israel, if left alone, will not allow an independent sovereign Palestinian state to exist. Israel and Washington have conveniently played off Hamas against the Palestinian National Authority under Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. A divided Palestinian population plays directly into Israeli hands. The claim that Israel cannot negotiate with terrorists like Hamas rings hollow since Israel failed to reach any meaningful settlement with Hamas’s predecessors. The status quo with its conflict and economic blockades, suits Israel since they provide the cover for land grabs in the West Bank and leave the Palestinians weak and divided. The pressure for a lasting settlement must come from outside, primarily the US. Only the US can pressure Israel to reach a lasting settlement that recognizes the sovereign rights of the Palestinians. The US could start by withholding the billions of dollars and military aid given annually to Israel (and Egypt) since the 1977 Camp David Agreement. For the US to be an honest broker would require the Obama administration to divorce itself from political pressure groups like the Israel lobby. By doing that, the US would be able to pursue a Middle East foreign policy based on US interests, not Israeli interests. They are not the same. Brigitte Jaensch is a Sacramento-based human rights advocate. Paolo Bassi is an attorney and free-lance writer based in Sacramento.
To get an idea of life in Gaza, imagine a strip of land that is a small fraction of Sacramento County, crammed with about 1.5 million people. The north, east and south sides, the borders with Egypt and Israel, are surrounded by wire-topped fences or 50 feet metal walls, with huge guard towers for Israeli snipers. The entire area has only four entrance/exit points, all controlled by Israeli soldiers. The coast is patrolled by Israeli gunboats. The Gaza Strip is aptly referred to as the world’s largest open air prison. Despite the decades of repression, the Palestinians in Gaza have survived and still resist. They became more resourceful and continued to grow produce like grapes and olives. Gazan craftsmen made fine furniture while textile workers made clothes for export. The Israeli blockade has largely destroyed that economic activity and
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from page 12
frage movement. Paul continued to work tirelessly for women’s equality until her death in 1977. She authored and had introduced in Congress the first Equal Rights Amendment in 1923. The ERA was passed by Congress in 1972 but the amendment fell three states short of ratification. Should Congress extend the time limit on ratification, it may yet be achieved as a tribute to those pioneer leaders of the movement. The League of Women Voters, which Catt founded, has continued to educate and advocate for woman’s rights and democracy. It is one of the most respected advocacy organizations in the nation with more than 100,000 members nationwide. The LWV of California works for civic involvement, good government and equality at the state level. The organization recently supported the passage of Proposition 11, a redistricting reform measure, and opposed Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriages. They also filed an amicus brief in support of San Francisco’s lawsuit against Prop. 8. The Sacramento chapter of the League was established in 1939. Many outstanding leaders have come from the organization, including former Sacramento mayor Anne Rudin and Illa Collin, the longest serving member of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. As two of the most outstanding civil rights leaders, Alice Paul and Carrie Catt may have differed in persona and methodology, but they shared the same vision of equality. As Alice Paul stated in a 1972 interview, “I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.” Rick Bettis is a member of the League of Women Voters of Sacramento.
attention on a national suffrage constitutional amendment while NAWSA worked at the state and national levels with a more incremental and less confrontational approach than that of Paul. Following disagreements over policy and strategy, Paul left NAWSA and formed the National Women’s Party. It focused on President Wilson, protesting at the White House gates where they were attacked by mobs angered by what was considered unpatriotic behavior during the world war. They were arrested on charges of “obstructing traffic,” and, as in England, the protestors went on hunger strikes and were brutally forcefed, beaten and thrown into unsanitary rat-infested cells. Paul was removed to a sanitarium in an effort to declare her criminally insane. However, the husband of a jailed wealthy socialite leaked news of their inhumane treatment to the press. The news brought about major public outrage and political support for the protestors and suf-
14 Because People Matter March / April 2009 www.bpmnews.org
Doing the “Rights” Thing!
By Darien De Lu
In the US we pride ourselves on our history of supporting civil rights. As early as 1776, Thomas Paine declared the cause of America being bound with the fate of liberty throughout the world. He proclaimed that an independent US would be an “asylum for mankind”—a special embodiment of liberty in a world rampant with oppression. In more recent times, in the height of the Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt inspired our global Allies with his call for “the Four Freedoms”— freedom of speech and religion plus freedom from fear and want. US presidents continue to appeal to the ideal of “freedom.” So it seems surprising—even disturbing—how little most of us know about the fundamental legal documents of international civil and human rights protections. How about you? Have you heard of CEDAW? Or the Rights of the Child? If not, I urge you to read on and learn about just a few of the keystones of international rights law, starting with one of the first major achievements of the UN, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The importance of the Declaration is reflected in the fact that it is the most translated document in the world, translated into over 231 languages and dialects. The Declaration was approved by the UN General Assembly, which includes all the member states of the UN, without dissenting votes in 1948. However, in the east-west split of those days, some countries objected to the very individualistic rights enumerated among the political and civil rights, such as the right to privacy, freedom of assembly, and freedom of movement within one’s country. On the other hand, other countries took issue with the idea of economic and social rights, including the right to education, to a job, and to social security. So the implementing document for the Declaration, the “convention”, was divided into two parts. The first is the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. It entered into force in 1976, and in 1992 the US joined the other 132 states that have ratified it. The International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights has also been in force since 1976 and ratified by 132 states, but not by the US. Many of the provisions of the Declaration are effectively binding for the countries that have ratified the two Conventions. That’s right; these are the binding building blocks of international law! Over 60 human rights treaties elaborate the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the Declaration. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is widely considered to be the most important and far reaching of all UN decisions. Additionally, the UN has subsequently created two other key rights documents to protect the rights of women and of children. The CEDAW protects women’s rights. Its full name is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Among the fundamental rights it protects against discrimination are the right to education, employment, health care and family planning, economic and social benefits, equality before the law, and marriage. The CEDAW has been in force for the ratifying countries since 1990, and it’s been ratified by 90% of the UN members, including all of the Latin American countries and all but two of the African ones. However, the US has not ratified the CEDAW. Also in force since 1990 is the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history— ratified by every country in the world, except two! Can you guess who one of those two is? That’s right—the US! The Convention protects a wide array of rights, such as children’s right to their own name and identity, to be raised by their parents and have relations with both of them—even if separated, and the right to express their opinion freely and to have that opinion appropriately taken into account in any matter or procedure affecting them. The UN has built upon these four Conventions—on political and civil rights; on social, cultural, and economic rights; on women’s rights; and on children’s rights—with additional protections against torture, against racial and ethnic discrimination, and more. A rather different set of conventions, predating the UN, are the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions consist of four treaties formulated in Geneva, Switzerland, that set the standards for international humanitarian law. They chiefly concern the treatment of non-combatants—that is, civilians—and prisoners of war. All four conventions were last revised and ratified in 1949. These international humanitarian laws prohibit direct attacks against civilians and civilian objects—as well as indiscriminate attacks and attacks that cause disproportionate damage to civilians. Prohibited indiscriminate attacks include using weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilians and combatants, or between civilian and military objects. It is this provision which makes the use of nuclear weapons, cluster bombs, land mines, and white phosphorous generally illegal in civilian areas. So we see that civilians in war zones have special rights. Many of us don’t realize that international law invokes the duty of all countries to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. Failing to distinguish between combatants and civilians violates one of the most fundamental tenets of the laws of war: the duty to carry out attacks only on military targets. Extensive and serious violations indicate the commission of war crimes. Modern warfare frequently involves civilians, but US news reports very rarely mention possible war crimes. Nor do most of us understand that “unlawful attacks” on civilians, even if committed in response to another unlawful attack, are a form of reprisal and a violation of the Geneva Conventions. To conclude and summarize, along with 191 other countries, the US has ratified all four of the Geneva Conventions. The US also ratified The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. However, we have not ratified the other Universal Declaration of Human Rights Convention: the International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Nor had the US supported women’s rights by ratifying the CEDAW. And we join Somalia as the only two countries that have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. If you care about human rights, I urge you to contact our new Senate, under our new President, to call for ratification of these key international rights documents, as well as US compliance with the Geneva Conventions! Darien De Lu has been an activist for over fifty years. Currently she focuses on peace and justice work through the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, solidarity work with Latin America, and her handy email.
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www.bpmnews.org March / April 2009 BECAUSE PEOPLE MATTER 15
March / April Calendar
11th OF EVERY MONTH: Sacramento 9/11 Truth Demonstration. 11th and L Sts. INFO: www.truthaction. org, 916-372-8433. MONDAYS: Sacramento Poetry Center hosts poetry readings. 7:30pm. 1719 25th Street. www.sacramentopoetrycenter.org. 1st MONDAYS: Organic Sacramento: Counter ongoing threats to our food. 6:30pm. INFO: www. organicsacramento.org. 3rd MONDAYS: Capitol Outreach for a Moratorium on the Death Penalty. 12 noon–1pm, 11th & L Street. INFO: 455-1796. 3rd MONDAYS: SAPA Peace and Sustainability Committee. 6–8pm. INFO: Peace Action, 448-7157. 3rd MONDAYS: Sacto 9/11 Truth:Questioning the “War on Terror.” 6–8pm. Denny’s 3rd & J St. INFO: email@example.com 3728433. 3rd MONDAYS: Lesbian Cancer Support Group. 6:30 Bring partners or support people with you. INFO: Roxanne Hardenberg; ROXANNE1040@aol.com. TUESDAYS: Tuesdays, ongoing. Pastel Landscape drawing class for ages 50+. 2:30m-5:00pm. Ethel Hart Center, 915 27th Street. $25/lesson. INFO: (916) 808-5462. TUESDAYS: Call for Peace Vigil. 4–6pm. 16th and J St. INFO 448-7157. TUESDAYS: Improv workshop. Solve the world’s problems through improv games! 7–9:30pm. Geery Theatre, 2130 L street, Sac. $5.00, first time free. INFO: 916-821-4533, firstname.lastname@example.org. 2nd TUESDAYS: Gray Panthers. 1–3pm. Hart Senior Ctr., 27th & J St. 2nd TUESDAYS: Peace Network (speakers and discussion), 6:30pm. Luna’s Cafe, 1414 16th Street. INFO: Sac Area Peace Action 448-7157. 4th TUESDAYS: Peace and Justice Films. 7pm. Peace Action, 909 12th Street. INFO:448-7157. 4th TUESDAYS: (Odd numbered months) Amnesty Int’l. 7pm. Sacramento Friends Meeting, 890-57th St. INFO: 489-2419. 1st WEDNESDAYS: Peace & Freedom Party. 7pm. INFO: 456-4595. 3rd WEDNESDAYS: CAAC Goes t o the Movies. 7:15pm. INFO: 446-3304. THURSDAYS: Urban Farm Stand, 4–7pm, River Garden Estates, 2201 Northview Dr. THURSDAYS: Daddy’s Here. Men’s support group: custody, divorce, parenting. 7–8:30pm. Free! Ctr for Families, 2251 Florin Rd, Ste 102. INFO: terry@father sandfamilies.com. 568-3237x 205. 1st and 2nd THURSDAYS: Storytelling at the Hart Senior Center, 27th & J sts. 7pm. Free. INFO: 916362-9013, or PaulIdaho@ comcast.net. 4th THURSDAYS: Sac Media Group. 6–8pm. Coloma Community Center, 4623 T Street. INFO: 443-1792, email@example.com. FRIDAYS: Oil, acrylic and watercolor painting class for experienced and beginner painters ages 50+. 9:30am-11:30am. Ethel Har t Center, 915 27th Street. $20 for 4 lessons. INFO: (916) 808-5462. FRIDAYS: Movies on a Big Screen. Independent, quirky movies and videos. 7pm. 600 4th St, West Sac. INFO: www.shiny-object. com/screenings/. 1st FRIDAYS: Community Contra Dance. 8–11pm; 7:30pm beginners lessons. Clunie Auditorium, McKinley Pk, Alhambra & F. INFO: 530-274-9551. 2nd FRIDAYS: Dances of Universal Peace. 7:30– 9:30pm. Sacr ament o Friends Meeting House 890 57th St. $5–$10 donation requested. INFO: Joyce, www.sacramentodancesofuniversalpeace. org, 916-832-4630. 4th FRIDAYS: Dances at Christ Unity Church, 9249 Folsom Blvd. All Welcome $ 5 – $ 10 donation requested. INFO: Christ i n e 4 57 5855, www. sacramentodancesofuniversalpeace.org. 1st SATURDAYS: Health Care for All. 10am–noon. Hart Senior Ctr, 27th & J. For single-payer universal health care. INFO: 916-424-5316; cnegrete@ comcast.net. 1st SATURDAYS: Sacramento Area Peace Action Vigil. 11:30am–1:30pm. Arden and Heritage (entrance to Arden Mall). INFO: 448-7157. 2nd & 4th SATURDAYS: SPC Poetry Workshop, All levels, all poets. 10-11:30 am. South Natomas Community Center, 2921 Truxel Rd, Sacramento FREE. 2nd & 4th SATURDAYS: Community Contra Dance. 8–11pm; 7:30 lessons. Coloma Center 4623 T Street. INFO: 395-3483. 3rd SATURDAYS: Writers of the new Sun/Escritores del Nuevo Sol. Writing group. 10am potluck. La Raza Galeria Posada, 1024 22nd St. INFO: 916-456-5323. 3rd SATURDAYS: Sacramento Area Peace Action Vigil. 11:30am–1:30pm. Marconi & Fulton. INFO: 448-7157. 3rd SATURDAYS: Underground Poetry Series, open mic plus featured poets. 7–9pm. Under gr ound Books, 2814 35th Street (at Broadway), Sacramento. $3. INFO: 737-3333. 4th SATURDAYS: Sierra Permaculture Guild general mtg. 6:30–9pm. The Sacred Bee, 1451 E. Main St., Grass Valley.INFO: SierraPermaculture.org SUNDAYS: Sacto Food Not Bombs. 1:30pm. Come help distribute food at 9th and J Streets. 1st SUNDAYS: Zapatista Solidarity Coalition. 10am– noon. 909 12th St. INFO: 443-3424. 2nd SUNDAYS: Atheists & Other Freethinker s. 1:30pm. Sierra 2 Center, Room 10, 2791 24th St. INFO: 447-3589.
Send calendar items for the May/June 2009 issue to firstname.lastname@example.org by April. 10, with “calendar item” in the subject line. Make it short, and PLEASE use this format: Day, Date. Name of event. Description (1–2 lines). Time. Location. Price. INFO: phone#; e-mail. For the most current listing of Sacramento peace & justice events, go to www.sacpeace. org. For weekly updates, email email@example.com and put SacPeaceUpdates in the subject.
Saturday, March 14
Language Academy of Sacramento Spring Art and Food Faire. 4500 Roosevelt Ave., Sacramento. INFO: 916-277-7137, castaneda.fatima@ gmail.com. See story p. 5 Group (10+) $5 Discount.
Tuesday, March 24
Reproductive Freedom Day. 8am-4:30pm. Sacramento Convention Center. See p. 7.
Thursday, March 19
Saturday, March 28
Candle Light Peace Vigil. 4:30–6:30pm. Rally, Howe and Fair Oaks, Sacramento. 7–9pm. Vigil. Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento, 2425 Sierra Blvd. See ad page 14.
THE SHOW at the Wo’se Community Center. 7-9 pm. 2863 35th St., Sacramento (at Broadway). $5. INFO: www.mybmsf.com/terrymoore.
Thursday, March 19
Friday, April 3
Charles Andrews. “Before Capitalism and After: New results on stages of history and the key to the next stage.” 7–9pm. Sierra 2 Center, Garden Room, 2791–24th Street, Sacramento. Free. INFO: 799-1394. See box this page.
Benefit for Equality California, support civil rights for LGBT in Calif; concert featuring Blame Sally, an all-female band with a unique brand of folk pop. Placerville Shakespeare Club, 2940 Bedford Ave. at Hwy 50, Placerville. $25. TICKETS: 530-622-6900; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, March 20,
Access Sacramento will host a viewing of a webcast live panel discussion from the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. on open government and secrecy, the impact on communities and what the public can do. Viewers will have an opportunity to call and email questions to the panelists. 10-11:30am. 4623 T St. INFO: 916-443-1792 x11, or 456-8600, x112. See Sunshine Week story page 2.
Thursday, April 16
Jeff Mackler. “The Crisis” A Marxist analysis of the present economic crisis facing world capitalism. 7–9pm. Sierra 2 Center, Garden Room, 2791–24th Street, Sacramento. Free. INFO: 7991394. See box this page.
Sunday, April 26
Sacramento Earth Day. 11am–6pm. Southside Park. See box this page.
Sunday, March 22
Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra Offers Baroque Stimulus Package to celebrate J.S. Bach’s Birthday. 7pm. UC Davis Mondavi Center. TICKETS: Mondavi Box Office: (866) 754-2787 $30/$40 General. Students: 50% Discount,
If you want to help keep BPM going, will you consider stepping up? If you would like to know more about BPM, who puts it together and how you might help, join us. Wednesday, April 8, 7pm at 909 12th St. in the conference room.
The Marxist School of Sacramento
March / April 2009 Activities Sierra 2 Center, Garden Room, 2791–24th Street, Sacramento, 7-9pm
Free Admission Featuring Wildflower Wonders Celebrate a sustainable Sacramento with great food, interactive activities and your favorite bands
sunday april 26 – 11am–6pm southside park SacramentoEarthDay.net
Point of View Speaker Series
Thursday, March 19
Charles Andrews. “Before Capitalism and After: New results on stages of history and the key to the next stage” Charles Andrews will discuss the problem of dividing history into stages, showing that it is a way of gaining insight on the next social order that humanity is poised to enter. By taking a broad overview of primitive society, the ancient world, the medieval era, dynastic China, and capitalism, we find the limits of capitalism and the basic features of the society that will replace it. Andrews is author of From Capitalism to Equality: An Inquiry into the Laws of Economic Change and has been an activist since the movement against the U.S. war in Vietnam.
Resources for Enlisted Personnel & Veterans
Discharges • DEP • Discrimination • Gay • AWOL/UA • Harassment • Hazing• Conscientious Objection Free, confidential information from The GI
Rights Hotline, www.girights.org, 800-394-9544
Counseling: free & confidential: 916-447-5706; www.therapistsforsocialresponsibility.org;
Sacramento Area Peace Action
Thursday, April 16,
Jeff Mackler. “The Crisis” A Marxist analysis of the present economic crisis facing world capitalism. Mackler is founder of the Mobilization for Peace, Jobs and Justice; coordinator of National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations; director of the Mobilization to Free Mumia AbuJamal; national secretary of Socialist Action INFO on classes and discussions: www.marxistschool.org; email@example.com; 799-1354. All activities are free and open to the public.
Palestine Speaker Series
March 17, 2009 Environmental Issues April 21, 2009 Divestment May 19, 2009 Current Realities/One State June 16, 2009 Two Sacramentan’s Impressions Third Tuesdays. 7pm, 909 12th St. Sacramento. Details, see page 12.
Progressive News and Views
Because People Matter
March / April 2009
Progressive Radio Stations
ä Soapbox!—Jeanie Keltner talks with
activists and analysts from Sacramento and beyond about the issues of the day.
Where to watch: Access Sacramento cable channel 17. Every Monday at 8pm. Call in comments on 2nd and 4th Mondays. Repeats Tuesday at noon, Wednesday at 4am. In Davis, on channel 15, Tuesdays at 5pm.
ä Media Edge—Sacramento’s own
magazine format show, covering local progressive events and speakers, as well as internationally known commentators, with clips from some of the best independent political video being made now.
Where to watch: Access Sacramento channels 17 and 18 and Davis Channel 15. Sundays 8–10pm Nevada County channel 11 Mondays 10:30pm–12:30am, West Sacramento channel 21 Mondays 9-11pm. See scheduled segments at www.wethemedia.org. ä Democracy Now—Amy Goodman’s
äKVMR 89.5 FM ä The Voice, 88.7 Cable FM; and streaming audio on www.Accesssacramento.org; SAP Comcast Channels 17 & 18 ä KYDS 91.5 FM äKDVS 90.3 FM ä KPFA 94.1 FM Berkeley äKZFR 90.1 FM Chico People Powered Radio! managed and operated by volunteers, provides mostly locally produced and community oriented programs.
Great Speeches and Interviews-Local and national speeches and interviews to challenge your thinking. An in-depth radio program on the current issues. Where to listen and/or download: Listen Sundays 6-8pm on Comcast Ch. 17, 18, set your TV menu to SAP or listen on The Voice www.AccessSacramento.org L i s te n o r d ow n l o a d f ro m w w w. archive.org/bookmarks/sgl Blogged on www.SacramentoForDemocracy.org
(Other) Progressive Newspapers
ä The Flatlander: a free community newspaper of fun, opinion and politics in the Davis Area. firstname.lastname@example.org. Publication every 2 months, next issue is April/May The Flatlander P.O. Box 72793 Davis, CA 95617 ä Likewise, we are greatly impressed with the lively goodlooking Midtown Monthly. It’s not political, but it has the kind of useful and delightful info about life, art, food and music in Sacramento and beyond that creates the sense of community needed for an uncertain future. Look for the Rock Creek Free Press in the back of some BPM stands and other places you find BPM (always at the downtown main library). It’s a great progressive paper with emphasis on the undernews. And just like BPM it needs support from the people who are sick of the disinformation news. Check it out and subscribe (after subscribing to BPM).
Have you taken the TV production training at Access Sacramento? Would you like to learn or put your technical talents to use? Soapbox! urgently needs crewmembers to help set up, run cameras, and take viewers’ phone calls on the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month. Call 444 3203 if you’re interested in taking the training or joining us at Soapbox! for fun—and the best pizza in town, from Pieces.
Don’t bitch at the media— become the media!
award-winning magazine format show.
Where to watch: Access Sacramento TV, Cable Channels 17 and 18, Weekdays 6pm, 12midnight, 5am. Dish Network Satellite TV, Channel 9415, Free Speech TV, M–F: 9am, 4pm, 9pm, 5am, Pacific time. Link TV, Channel 9410, Monday–Friday, 8am, 3pm. KVMR 89.5 FM Mon–Thu 7pm. KDVS 90.3 FM Mon–Fri noon. KPFA 94.1 FM Berkeley, M–F 9am
Sacramento and Central Valley INDYMEDIA: www.sacindymedia.org.
Here’s a hot tip! If you don’t have cable TV, and you do have a PC (doesn’t work on Mac), you can watch Access Sacramento programs as they are being aired by going to www.accesssacramento. org and clicking on the “Watch Channel 17” button at the top of the first page.
Inside: Budget Cuts Gaza Roe v Wade and of course, Much More!
Online News Sources:
www.Truthout.org: essays on current events, some videos, like Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC Countdown shows. www.CommonDreams.org News Center: Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community. www.Brasscheck.org: Progressive videos on many subjects, from Steven Colbert’s speech at the White House Correspondent’s dinner and speeches by leftwing MP George Galloway, to extensive information on 9/11 and the attacks on our civil liberties. www.TheRealNews.com: a nonprofit progressive website offering daily news videos including interviews and debates. They plan soon to expand to television. www.GoLeft.tv: Progressive Online Television. In the world of media monopoly, news has been replaced with a new invention called “infotainment.” GoLeft.tv is a progressive political T.V. news source that fills that gap between the media’s dumbed down infotainment and real news reporting. www.innworldreport.net: Daily professional viewer/listener supported journalism available in over 20 million homes across America. www.whatreallyhappened.com: 9/11 and other coverups.
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