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Minneapolis Green City Councilor Cam Gordon working to lessen impact of police racial profiling

Photo credit: Tony Webster

As reported by the Daily Minnesotan, Cam Gordon, the Green City Councilor representing District 2 in Minneapolis, has introduced a bill to repeal “lurking” and “spitting” as arrestable crimes.  Gordon is also working to obtain data from the city’s police force on the racial dynamics of policing in Minneapolis.

The Ward 2 Councilman wants to stop arrests for lower-level offenses like lurking or spitting.

In an effort to combat racial profiling by law enforcement officials, two Minneapolis City Council members are asking the city to repeal certain low-level offenses that impact minorities at higher rates.

At a City Council meeting Friday, Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon announced that he plans to repeal ordinances that made lurking and spitting on sidewalks illegal. Changes would go into effect after next month’s full council meeting if the measure is approved.

Gordon said the need to counter racial profiling in the city is immense, and higher numbers of arrests in certain minority groups can contribute to economic inequality.

“Once you get something on your arrest record, you can end up having a much harder time getting housing and finding work,” he said.

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Green Party of New York State calls for end to ‘LLC loophole’ allowing $150,000 political donations

Image from chambercoalition.org/greenparty.html

From the Green Party of New York State:

Albany – The New York State Green Party said today that the Commissioners of the New York State Board of Elections should move immediately to close the infamous “LLC Loophole” that allows limited liability corporations to skirt corporate campaign finance laws and donate $150,000 a year to candidates. The Green Party pointed out that the Board of Elections can choose to reclassify LLCs as corporations for campaign finance purposes without approval from the Legislature or Governor Cuomo, putting a $5000 cap on donations. Green Party representatives said that while this would be an important reform, only full public campaign financing at all levels will eliminate New York State’s pay-to-play politics.

“The people of New York State are sick and tired of the constant corruption scandals in state government, and overwhelmingly support major campaign finance reform to remove the influence of money in politics. It is simply obscene that due to a BOE ruling from 1996, LLCs are treated as individual donors and not corporations, and donors can set up as many as they wish to flout campaign finance laws again and again. Last year LLCs gave $20 million to state and local political races, including $800,000 to Andrew Cuomo from LLCs started by the developer Leonard Litwin and his real estate company Glenwood Management, the same Leonard Litwin named in the ongoing Sheldon Silver corruption investigation, said party co-chair Michael O’Neil.”

“What is most absurd is that this simple campaign finance reform could be done with the stroke of a pen if three State Board of Elections Commissioners agreed, with no need for backroom three – or is it four – men-in-a-room negotiations. The fact that they haven’t done so in nearly twenty years, even after the Federal Elections Commission did so in 1999 – shows the need not just for full public campaign finance reform but also changes at the Board of Elections. Serious ethics reform in Albany starts with low-hanging fruit like closing the LLC loophole and ends with fully publicly financed elections and a BOE that isn’t beholden to corporate party interests, said party co-chair Gloria Mattera.”

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Dennis Trainor, Jr. of Acronym TV hired as Jill Stein for President communications director

Dennis Trainor, Jr. interviewing Dr. Jill Stein on Acronym TV, which aired on Free Speech TV and online

Yesterday Dennis Trainor, Jr. sent out the following email to subscribers of Acronym TV:

Friends:

Acronym TV, which had been on hiatus, is officially shutting down production.

I have been offered, and have proudly accepted, the job of Communications Director for Jill Stein for President.

More on that in a moment.

First I need to say thank you- it has been an amazing ride and none of it would have been possible without the amazing crowd-sourcing of support you have showered upon me.

It is not many people who are lucky enough to find a supportive audience for their work – and for these past many years, I have been blown away by the support you have shown me.

In addition to all those who donated and shared the work on social media, I need to extend a very special thank you to Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. As prime movers behind Popular Resistance, Margaret and Kevin were able to extend partial underwriting to Acronym TV for all of 2013 and much of 2014.

It was Margaret and Kevin who trusted me to serve as one of the core organizers in the pre-Occupy movement lead up to the occupation of Freedom Plaza. Their trust in me- a guy with a camera that they did not know from Adam- & just wanted to make some videos for the movement –opened the door for many opportunities and experiences that are among some of my proudest moments as a human being.

As I shut the door on Acronym TV- I can say I’m proud of where I was able to take the project and humbled that you helped me do it.

Acronym TV and it’s previous iterations have generated well over 35 million views on YouTube, held down a regular 30-minute slot on Cable TV (Thank you Free Speech TV) and produced two documentaries – American Autumn and Legalize Democracy – to wide acclaim.

Pretty cool, considering it all started with a viral video a few years ago as the part ranting/ part performance art stylings of the The Hermit with Davis Fleetwood (anyone remember that?) – made in my basement with a $200 camera, a few $15 clip lights, and a nom de plume.

More recently, as production values increased, expenses far outpaced income. I lost more money than I care to count in trying to keep Acronym TV producing content out of a full service TV studio last year.

I paid myself, and the expenses of producing Acronym TV, through a generous loan extended by a longtime supporter – and through donations from people like you.

In spite of the debt, I have no regrets- only gratitude.

So what is next for me?

After spending the first few months of this year working on freelance projects and trying to strike a deal that would allow me to continue producing Acronym TV at the same high standards we set in 2014 – an unexpected thing happened: I was offered, and have proudly accepted, the job of Communications Director for Jill Stein for President.

In closing down this chapter of my career, I enter into a wild new adventure that presents the opportunity to do meaningful work around ideas that I am passionate about.

Jill won me over with her commitment to make the campaign about bringing the struggles of front-line communities into the front lines of Presidential debate.

It will be my job to help craft and deliver that message, and I hope to have your support while doing so.

Keep standing for something.

With great appreciation and thanks,

DTjr
March 2015

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2012 Green VP candidate Cheri Honkala challenges standardized testing in Philadelphia schools

2012 Green VP candidate and PPEHRC National Coordinator Cheri Honkala shared this photo on her Facebook page recently.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Green Party’s 2012 Vice Presidential candidate is taking a leading role in public school parents’ challenges to high stakes standardized testing.  Cheri Honkala, the parent of a child in the Philadelphia public school system, is also the national coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

In October, Honkala sent and published a letter to the principal of her son’s school requesting that he receive permission to opt-out of a number of state-mandated standardized tests.  She wrote that “standardized testing is against our religious and philosophical beliefs.”  Opting out of the tests would “allow [her son] to pursue other educational activities such as independent reading, book reports, research projects, volunteering in the library, etc.”  Several weeks later, Honkala and her organization followed up by participating in a forum on standardized testing at Philadelphia City Hall.

Recently, organizing and publicity surrounding high stakes testing in Philadelphia has started garnering more attention.  Last week, Honkala participated in a public forum on opting out of the tests, sharing the following image on her Facebook:

The “Test-In” was put together by a coalition of organizations in Philadelphia, including the Caucus of Working Educators, Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, Teacher Action Group, Philadelphia Student Union, Parents United for Public Education, & Action United.  The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is also part of the coalition.

The Examiner gave some context to the meeting:

The Opt-Out movement is growing in Philadelphia. After parents and teachers took a stand against standardized testing at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, there has been an informational informal meeting about how parents can opt out hosted at the district-wide Home and School Association and several articles written about the movement itself. Superintendent Hite just recently gave a statement that the School District of Philadelphia will make sure that parents receive information about their opt out options. The national outcry against testing and the inherent flaws are not limited to Philadelphia or the surrounding suburbs, but are evident in New York City and Chicago too. The fear and intimidation surrounding testing can render parents, teachers, and administrators silent and powerless, but now there is another opportunity to be informed of the opt out process that is available in Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, in a story that Honkala linked on her Facebook profile, the Washington Post is reporting that in nearby New York state, 60,000 students opted out of similar testing in 2014.  For Honkala and PPEHRC, this is one more in a line of fights surrounding public education in Philadelphia.  Last year, Honkala was arrested in an act of civil disobedience defending her son’s elementary school from being one of dozens closed by the school district.

More recently, the Green Party of Philadelphia has nominated Kristin Combs for City Council.  Combs is competing against Republicans for one of two seats that must go to a minority party.  She is a public school teacher and advocate against the ongoing cuts to Philadelphia public schools.  Her education platform, which is central to her campaign, states that “every school aged child deserves access to a meaningful public education, and Philadelphia’s current climate does not allow for this.”  Stay tuned for more on Combs’s campaign.

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2012 VP candidate Cheri Honkala takes leading role in movement against Philly school budget cuts

Photo Credit: Harvey Finkle

Photo Credit: Harvey Finkle

Cheri Honkala was the Green Party’s 2012 Vice Presidential candidate and is the national coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.  For years, she has been a part of the struggle to save Philadelphia’s public schools from budget cuts, privatization, staff cuts, and other assaults.  Her deep involvement in these efforts started when her son’s elementary school was slated for the cutting block, one of dozens of such schools in Philadelphia.

In the past month, Honkala has taken on a more public role, just as organizing and action against ongoing cuts has escalated and become more visible.  The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign issued a statement summarizing their activity on the issue in October, and why it is so important:

We live in a world where children are being denied the right to proper education. School funds are constantly being cut and now the School Reform Commission (SRC) in Philadelphia decided they are going to try and fix the school system by cutting health care benefits for teachers! What about all of the funds going towards the prison system and oil companies? This past month Shell Oil was provided a $1.7 billion tax break while $0 was allocated for textbooks. Teachers are being told it is their time to make sacrifices but they have been sacrificing all along with limited resources, over crowded classrooms and fulfilling extra roles such as counselor and nurse due to lack of funding for full time staff.On October 9th,  Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPHERC) stood with parents, students, and teachers to demand that Governor Corbett explain himself and provide full funding for our schools. They shut down the elevators, blocked our access to the Governor and kicked out the media. They even went as far as to arrest Cheri Honkala, National Coordinator of PPEHRC and parent of a student at Julia R. Masterman School who attempted to deliver a citizens arrest against the governor for crimes against education and our children. 
On October 15th, The Philly Coalition Advocating for Public Schools organized a press conference in front of the headquarters of the School district of Philadelphia in response to the SRC’s decision. During this press conference, Cheri Honkala’s message was clear: “don’t mess with our babies’ education!”

The following day, October 16th, more than 1,000 teachers, parents, students, and community supporters gathered in front of the headquarters of the School district of Philadelphia to continue to protest against the SRC’s decision. During the protest, Cheri Honkala testified in front of the SRC to address the cancelation of teacher’s contracts along with 59 other speakers. 

They continue to cut back but we will continue to fight back! Our schools will be saved no matter how long we have to fight against this broken system! We are very proud of the students, teachers, parents, and community members that continue to protest alongside PPEHRC during these important demonstrations. There is no change without the people uniting together and demanding for it! The people united will never be divided and we will win!

Honkala’s arrest was covered by the Philadelphia City Paper (and a second time, after she got out of jail), Philly Metro, and a local education blog, among others.  Honkala also wrote about it on her new blog, including a pledge for people to support the movement.  Below is a video of Honkala speaking at the above-mentioned rally:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bs5baAinHw

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Jill Stein announces Cheri Honkala as her choice for VP

CBS News is reporting, in an interview with her, that Green Party presumptive presidential nominee Jill Stein has announced her choice for the party’s vice presidential candidate, to be approved at this week’s convention in Baltimore.  Cheri Honkala is the Stein campaign’s choice, a poor people’s advocate based in Philadelphia and the national coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

There was some speculation that actress and comedian Roseanne Barr, who is also running for the Green Party’s presidential nomination, would be the vice presidential candidate.  However, Stein has opted instead for Honkala, saying in an announcement, “Compelled by her own experience as a homeless, single mom, Honkala has spent nearly three decades working directly alongside the poor to build the movement to end poverty, and has organized tens of thousands of people to take action via marches, demonstrations and tent cities.”

Honkala herself stated, “It’s immoral that children are hungry and homeless in the richest country in the world. It’s time for the 99% to stand united to serve our collective human needs instead of selfish, corporate greed. The Green Party is the only one standing up to Wall Street, and Jill Stein’s Green New Deal is the best plan for saving this sinking ship. I’m honored to fight beside her.”

For the time being, Honkala is also coordinating ballot access efforts for the Green Party of Pennsylvania, which is in the process of working to collect over 40,000 signatures by the end of July. Honkala joined the Green Party in 2011, when she ran for Sheriff of Philadelphia on a platform of turning the Sheriff’s office from the department that evicts people to a social service working to “keep families in their homes,” as well as establishing community land trusts so that people living near vacant and abandoned properties can control them.  Honkala ran for Sheriff after labor organizer Hugh Giordano reinvigorated the Green Party of Philadelphia with his strong run for state representative in 2010.  The campaign proposal of addressing blight and vacant lots is part of a Philadelphia-wide political effort to address vacant land in the city in recent years.  Honkala is also consistently involved in efforts to prevent individual families from losing their homes to foreclosure and other work ensuring the basic survival of some of the most economically oppressed in Philadelphia.  The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign also operates around the United States, and is part of various international poor peoples’ movements.

As mentioned earlier, Honkala has been an activist of one form or another, whether simply to ensure the survival of herself and her son in the Minnesota winter when she was homeless or organizing protests at the Republican National Convention in 2000, for decades.  Several documentaries have been made about her or her efforts, including “Poverty Outlaw,” and she was featured in the book The Myth of the Welfare Queen. Honkala has been named one of the 100 most powerful people in the region by Philadelphia magazine, as well as being named “Person of the Year” once by Philadelphia Weekly. Her son Mark Webber is an actor, director, and playwright who used his celebrity to help her campaign for Sheriff.  In that campaign, Cheri campaigned and organized in Philadelphia, as well as travelling the country to encourage progressives to leave the Democratic Party and encourage Greens to approach politics in a way that is more inclusive of and relevant to poor people.

press conference was held today to make the announcment, which has been posted on Jill Stein’s campaign website.

[Disclosure:  I was involved in Cheri Honkala’s campaign for Sheriff on many levels and this summer I have been part of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, working on a farm they are organizing in the neighborhood where Honkala lives.  I am also a member of the Green Party of PA, was active in Hugh Giordano’s campaign, and have been collecting signatures to get the Stein campaign on the ballot there.]

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Green Party of Monroe County, NY announces 7 candidates, former mayoral candidate claims influence on Rochester policy

A very informative article from DemocratAndChronicle.com:

Former Green Party mayoral candidate Alex White is now seeking a spot on City Council…

“I thought the mayoral run went very well. I was running against two very strong candidates, and I was running on a party that no one had heard of,” said White. “So I thought that 9 percent was very well done in that situation. I’m looking to build on the momentum I’ve generated there.”

Thanks to Howie Hawkins’s relative success as the Green Party candidate for governor in 2010, the party is assured a ballot line in any election in New York state for the next four years…

Also running for elected office are Howard Eagle, Mary Adams and Wallace Smith, who will challenge for seats on the Rochester Board of Education. The three candidates are members of a group called the Community Education Task Force, which has been trying to bring about change in the city schools for several years. Eagle, a retiredRochester School District teacher, has run unsuccessfully for a school board seat several times in the past decade. Chris Edes will run for the Monroe County Legislature in the 24th District, which includes parts of the city of Rochester, Brighton, and Henrietta. Edes previously ran for several elected positions as a Libertarian candidate.

Tom Jensen, who currently serves on the Hamlin Planning Board, will run for town supervisor…

White’s recent mayoral run gives him the highest profile of any of the Green Party candidates. He said Wednesday morning that a number of recently-enacted initiatives, such as the installation of LED lights in city buildings, were ideas that he brought to the table in his mayoral run…

“Sure, it would be great if I’m the guy in the chair at the end, but I’ll be happy if Rochester is a better city[,” said White.]

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Oregon City Commissioner James Nicita, a registered Green, ‘faces recall effort’ over opposition to a new mall

The full story can be read here, below is an excerpt.

Parks has 90 days to collect 1,742 valid signatures from registered voters. If the recall petition is certified, a special election would be held by the end of the year.

CenterCal Properties, which had worked on the mall project and was negotiating an agreement with the city’s Urban Renewal Commission, pulled the plug on the project last month. Nicita spurned offers to meet with CenterCal President Fred Bruning, who made it no secret that Nicita’s continued opposition was a key factor in the decision to kill the mall.

Last year, Bruning temporarily broke off negotiations with the city, citing a “deep division” among city commissioners — Nicita in particular.

Nicita voiced strong criticism of The Rivers, questioning whether it was viable to build a huge mall in a down economy and provide the $17.6 million subsidy the developer requested to offset construction costs. The mall would have been built on an old garbage dump.

When Nicita proposed a city charter amendment that would have killed the project and alienated other developers, more than 400 people showed up to oppose the plan, which was withdrawn.

Nicita suggested other uses for the land and proposed building a nearby trash-burning plant that could turn the waste into electricity.

Nicita, a Pacific Green Party member, was elected to a nonpartisan seat on the commission in 2008.

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At state meeting, nuclear expert piques Illinois Greens’ concerns about nuclear power

From the NBC affiliate WREX:

ROCKFORD (WREX) -The Illinois Green Party wants people to be more aware of the dangers of nuclear energy.

Director of Nuclear Energy Information Service Chicago Dave Kraft says residents and lawmakers should be concerned because Illinois has four reactors the same type and vintage as the ones in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Kraft said today was a chance to raise awareness in political circles about the state of nuclear energy in Illinois and hopefully inspire legislators to take a hard look at safety at our nuclear reactors.

He said it’s also time to consider alternative sources of energy and cut our dependence on nuclear energy.

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Philly Green Richard Antipuna running against ‘computerized election theft [becoming] the norm in the US’

The following is an article by Philadelphia Green Chris Robinson, reprinted with his permission:

At Green Night Out on July 9, Josh Mitteldorf explained to the gathered diners that “computerized election theft has become the norm in the U.S.” Philadelphia Greens and their friends had gathered for an evening of feasting, fun and politics. Greens are interested in computerized election theft, and they are running a candidate, Richard Antipuna, for Philadelphia City Commissioner.

Perhaps you wondered why Barbara Capozzi did not demand a recount in the Democratic Primary for City Council District 1, when touch-screen polls showed that she lost the election by a mere 72 votes. The simple answer is that no one can do recounts (or any other kind of audit) on the kind of computerized voting machines used in Philadelphia. Was this election stolen? Barbara Capozzi will never know.

Mitteldorf, a senior editor at OpEdNews, discussed three historical elections which were successfully stolen by computer companies. His first example was the 2002 election of governor and senator in Georgia, which was stolen by the Republicans. Mitteldorf’s second example was the 2002 election of governor in Alabama, which was also stolen by the Republicans.

Finally, Mitteldorf discussed the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, where Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell was also George W. Bush’s campaign manager. You probably remember that this election was also stolen by the Republicans, but Mitteldorf added new details of the computer swap that was used to change the vote count. He also discussed a murder that was necessary to cover it up. Incidentally, this election was contested by the Green Party of Ohio (no word from the Democrats).

“Wholesale election theft in the U.S. is now institutionalized and systematic,” concluded Mitteldorf, “and it always favors the Republicans.”

The national Green Party Platform says, “Electronic voting machines must include a verifiable paper trail that allows every voter to verify that his or her vote was recorded and counted accurately, coupled with random audits based on the paper trail.” This is not the case in Philadelphia.

//
Green Night Out takes place monthly at Singapore Kosher ‘Vegetarian Chinese Restaurant, www.singaporevegetarian.com. Green Night Out is sponsored by the Green Party of Philadelphia, www.gpop.org. More information about Green Night Out and advance reservations may be made at 215-243-7103