The Green Party of the United States has endorsed the March For Our Lives, organized by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign in Philadelphia on July 25, the opening day of the Democratic National Convention.
While the city of Philadelphia has denied PPEHRC a permit to hold a protest on Broad Street during the convention, PPEHRC said last week that the protest will take place with or without a permit. The group said in a statement, “The City of Philadelphia will spend upwards of $60 million to house millionaires and billionaires but yet continues to fail in providing for its most vulnerable citizens. The denied demonstration intends to shed light on the city’s unemployment and homelessness issues and demand accessible housing and living wages in Philadelphia.”
PPEHRC co-founder Cheri Honkala was the Green Party vice presidential nominee in 2012.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that 15 Now, which has campaigned for a $15 per hour minimum wage in Minneapolis, has joined forces with St. Paul-based $15 in ’16 to create 15NowSTP to campaign for a $15 minimum in Minnesota’s capital city. Green Party activists Brandon Long and Jesse Mortenson are among the leaders of the new group.
The newspaper says that Long, “who foresees a minimum wage increase going to ballot referendum in Minneapolis, said the proposed St. Paul ordinance ‘will be strengthened to better match the eventual language of the Minneapolis ballot initiative.'”
The District of Columbia Statehood Green Party is backing a proposed D.C. Council resolution supporting a new statehood campaign.
Statehood Green Party activist David Schwartzman testified in support of the “Statehood or Else” Signature Campaign Resolution on Tuesday. The campaign seeks to gather one million signatures backing statehood to be delivered to the White House, every member of the Senate and House, and party leaders at the 2016 Democratic and Republican national conventions.
Schwartzman said, “As the local affiliate of the Green Party of the United States which has long supported D.C. statehood in its platform, unlike the national Democratic and Republican parties, we are committed to energize our national party and Global Greens, to support D.C. statehood nationally and internationally. … But what is the ‘else’ in ‘Statehood or Else’? The only alternative is a commitment to create mass resistance to our present neo-colonial status, including civil disobedience on a scale not yet witnessed in the District of Columbia. But the challenge is to make this resistance possible by raising the morale of our residents in a city with very high income inequality, income insecurity and poverty, while simultaneously improving the quality of life for our residents by addressing these realities of everyday life.”
Residents of the District of Columbia do not have representation in the Senate or House. Even though D.C. residents pay the highest overall rate of federal income taxes in the nation, and even though more people live in D.C. than in Vermont or Wyoming, and even though more than 200,000 have fought in America’s wars and 5,000 never came home, they have no voice in the federal legislature. D.C. does have a delegate to the House who has limited rights in committees, but no guaranteed vote on legislation. In the Senate, D.C. has no representation at all.
Green Party leaders said Tuesday that the closing of 31 driver’s license offices in Alabama proves the need for full restoration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as well as other election reforms.
Green Party Black Caucus Co-Chair Thomas Muhammad said, “The government of Alabama made the case for the Voting Rights Act when it shut down 31 driver’s license offices, mostly in counties with black majority populations. Alabama’s restrictive I.D. law was a blatant attempt to obstruct blacks from voting. States are still vulnerable to the kind of abuses that the Voting Rights Act is designed to correct.”
The Green Party said Alabama’s combination of voter I.D. laws and obstruction of black voter registration are just the most recent and conspicuous assault on fair and democratic elections.
California Green U.S. Senate candidate Shamako Noble said, “Voter I.D. laws are one of several ways in which Republicans — and also Democrats — manipulate elections. Another way is gerrymandering by both parties’ lawmakers, especially by Republicans in 2011 to give them virtually permanent control over seats in statehouses and Congress. Democrats and Republicans have conspired to pass ballot access laws that privilege their own candidates and hinder third parties and independents.”
David Cobb, who was the 2004 Green Party presidential nominee, writes at The Huffington Post about Move To Amend, an effort to pass a constitutional amendment that would state that “the rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only,” require federal, state, and local governments to “regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures,” and state that “the judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment,” among other clauses.
Cobb writes, “Corporations are not merely exercising political power today — they have become de facto ruling institutions.” He says that “money equals political speech is the equally odious court-created doctrine that holds that making a political contribution or spending money to influence an election is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.”
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.”
The Atlantic has published an article that raises the question of whether using proportional representation to elect legislators (part of the Green Party platform) could end the gerrymandering wars in the US.
While the article barely touches on the many flaws of the first-past-the-post system identified by political scientists, it is encouraging to see increased interest in proportional representation, especially considering that a recent Gallup poll found that 58% of Americans want a new major party.
From The Atlantic:
“Left Party whip Keith Ellison spoke in Washington today in an attempt to rally centrist support for tighter financial regulation—his liberal coalition has support on the issue from Tea Party leader Steve King, but without more Democrats and Republicans the bill is doomed to fail. Leaders of the Green Party have yet to take a stance on the bill but …”
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From Our America Initiative:
Plaintiffs, Legal Team Announced for Challenge to Commission on Presidential Debates
2012 Libertarian and Green Party Candidates Join to Demand Greater inclusiveness in General Election Debates
January 7, 2015, Salt Lake City, UT — The 2012 presidential and vice-presidential nominees of both the Libertarian and Green parties are joining forces to challenge the Commission on Presidential Debates and its use of selection criteria that limit participation in general election presidential debates to the Republican and Democratic nominees.
Lauren Besanko, who ran as a Maine Green Independent Party candidate for state representative, recently wrote an article for the Bangor Daily News about Maine’s growing movement for ranked-choice voting. From the article, entitled “The Two-Party Duopoly is the Problem”:
Ranked choice voting allows people to vote for several candidates in order, from their favorite to their least favorite, by assigning candidates numerical values. Their favorite candidate would receive the “No. 1” vote, their second favorite the “No. 2” vote and so on. One of the points of election reform like this should be to eliminate the “spoiler” effect, so we don’t end up splitting the vote, for example, between center-left and farther-left candidates, resulting in electing a far-right tea party Republican.
Reform like this could very well be the start of a path toward the end of a political system dominated by the two parties.
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: