[COMM-ORG] Peter Dreier occasional message

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Sun Jun 9 11:01:55 CDT 2013

[ed: see especially "The Death and Life of Chicago."]

From: Peter Dreier <dreier at oxy.edu>

25 Ideas for Mayor Garcetti, Bob Dylan, Texas Fertilizer Explosion,
Wal-Mart and Schools, Fighting Foreclosures, and more

An occasional message from Peter Dreier

Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your

**Dear Friends and Colleagues,***

*An occasional message from Peter Dreier ***

- *"Twenty Five Ideas for Mayor
* -- Lots of people will be offering free advice to LA's newly-elected
Mayor Eric Garcetti. Here's mine, compliments of *Frying Pan News*,
drawn from suggestions from a variety of progressive groups working to
promote a healthy environment, lift people out of poverty, and build strong
communities. This was also published on* Huffington Post.*

- * "The Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Was No
* --* * Almost everyone in America knows the names of the two young
terrorists allegedly responsible for the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings,
but few can identify the owner of the fertilizer plant that exploded in
West, Texas, two days later. Both are culpable of killing innocent people,
but the media, along with government regulators and law enforcement
agencies, poured much more time and resources into finding the two Tsarnaev
brothers than they did in investigating Donald Adair. Crime in the streets
(particularly by terrorists) is big news but crime in the suites rarely
makes headlines. Why isn't the American public calling for the arrest,
conviction, and imprisonment of Adair, the owner of the West Fertilizer
Company in West, Texas, where an explosion on April 17 killed 14 people,
left 200 others with injuries (including burns, lacerations, and broken
bones), flattened houses and a 50-unit apartment building, destroyed a
nursing home, damaged a local school, and left a crater 93 feet by 10
feet? As Donald Cohen and I report in *Huffington Post*, the explosion
was the inevitable result of corporate greed and weak government penalties
for safety violations.
slightly different version was published in *The

- *"How Can Wal-Mart REALLY Help Improve Our
** -*- The Walton family, which owns Wal-Mart, has been pouring big
bucks into so-called education "reform" efforts -- donations to
politicians, front-groups, and think tanks. Their version of "reform"
involves the privatization of public education, treating teachers like
hired hands rather than professional educations, bashing teacher unions,
and emphasizing high-stakes testing. The major public face of their effort
is Michelle Rhea, the discredited and ousted head of the Washington, D.C.
school system. In this article for *Huffington Post*, I give Wal-Mart
some unpaid and unsought advice on how they can actually help improve our
public schools. And speaking of Wal-Mart, the world's largest private
employer was recently fined $82 million for mishandling toxic waste,
according to an
* in the *New York Times*. Of course, to Wal-Mart this is chump-change,
just a cost of doing business. According to the Supreme Court (Citizens
United ruling), Wal-Mart is a person. Some person at Wal-Mart - how about
CEO Michael Duke? - should go to jail!

- *"Farm Subsidies-Loving Congressman Wants to Cut Food Stamps" --
*Please watch Lawrence O'Donnell's brilliant take-down of Tea Party
Congressman Stephen Fincher for being an outrageous hypocrite -- voting on
a farm bill that will enrich himself while cutting food stamps for the
poor. In doing so, O'Donnell explains the difference between "good
socialism" and "bad socialism." In doing so, O'Donnell points out that
Fincher, who quoted the Bible to justify cutting food stamps, misunderstood
the Biblical passage. O’Donnell said “there should be a special place in
the congressional hall of shame for Stephen Fincher” over his willingness
“to take food out of the mouths of children as long as he can still use
government money to enrich himself.” O'Donnell also points out that
Fincher's obvious conflict-of-interest should be a crime. This is one of
the most amazing pieces of commentary I've seen on TV.

- *"The Death and Life of Chicago"
*-- Read this amazing *New York Times Magazine *article by Ben Austen
about a grassroots Anti-Eviction campaign in Chicago. The organizers help
homeless people move into vacant, typically foreclosed, buildings that the
banks have abandoned. This is similar to ACORN's successful "squatting"
campaign in Philadelphia and other cities years ago, described in John
Atlas' 2010 book, *Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America's Most
Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing. *The current campaign
in Chicago is part of a growing national movement, using a variety of
strategies and tactics, to address the epidemic of foreclosures caused by
banks' predatory, risky, racist, and illegal lending practices. The
mainstream media virtually ignored a major civil disobedience protest at
the Department of Justice two weeks ago, but it represents an escalation of
the movement to hold Wall Street accountable for the ongoing epidemic of
foreclosures and underwater homeowners strangled by debt. You can read
about it in Greg Kaufmann's
The Nation.

- *"Student Debtors Put Pressure on the Department of Education."
*-- Right now the biggest movement on college campuses is among
"Dreamers," immigrant students mobilizing to expand access to college and
financial aid so they can achieve the American Dream of both citizenship
and education. But the next issue that is likely to galvanize students will
be among "Debtors," which is a much larger group, and which makes the
American Dream even more elusive. This issue is a ticking time bomb, as
John Connelly explains in this article in *Dissent* magazine. The
current level of debt among college students and college graduates is
outrageous. And it is unsustainable. Many families face foreclosure in
large part because of the skyrocketing debt cause by the cost of college.
And many students can't even afford college because of its cost. No other
country puts such a financial burden on college/university students.

- *"Tax Loopholes -- Not Just for
* -- Get the super-rich off welfare! Tax loopholes -- mostly for the
rich -- add up to around $1.2 trillion this year. That's about 50 percent
more than this year's federal budget deficit. In other words, the
government would run a budget surplus if lawmakers closed all those
loopholes. The special tax break for investment income – also known as
capital gains and dividends – cost $61 billion. Folks making more than $1
million a year saved, on average, $119,000 in 2011. The National
Priorities Project spells it all out in this report. The always-insightful
Harold Meyerson weighs in on this topic in his *Washington Post*

- *"America - Where The Poor Don't Get Holidays
* -- America is the only Western nation that doesn't mandate paid
vacations for all workers, as *The Atlantic* explains in this article.
It is worse for low-wage workers, but bad for everyone. Americans aren't
workaholics, just more exploited. This is another reason why we need a
stronger labor movement.

- *"A Liberal Mayor Takes on the San Diego
* -- Bob Filner, the one-time Congressman and now San Diego's new
progressive mayor, is shaking things up! He's asking, for example, why the
city should spend tax dollars boosting private hotels and a private tourism
industry that pays its workers poverty-level wages. The *Los Angeles
Times* story makes it seem that Filner is a lone wolf, but in fact he
has a broad base of support among unions, community groups, and the city's
increasingly liberal electorate.

- *"Michele Bachmann Won't Seek
* -- She almost lost last November even though she vastly outspent her
Democratic opponent. And she realized she was going to lose in 2014. Good

- *"University Logos Become Weapons in Debate over Textile Factory
* --The campus anti-sweatshop movement is gaining momentum, according
to the *Washington Post. *Student activists are increasing the pressure
on their universities to stop doing business with global companies that
abuse workers. Richard Appelbaum reported on *"The Campus Anti-Sweatshop
in 1999. An entire generation of student activists has been trained by
their experiences in this movement. One of the amazing victories of this
effort was the creation of Alta Gracia, a label that treats workers with
dignity and pays a living wage, with a model factory in the Dominican
Republic, as I reported in my article,* "Is The Perfect Factory
*The Nation*.

- *"Bob Dylan's
* -- In a tribute to Bob Dylan's 72nd birthday, *Slate* recently created
a map of every street, town, and city Dylan has ever sung about.
Thearticle mappin' the locations of Dylan's songs is a great tribute.
But I
noticed that at least one major song is missing. Baltimore is included on
the map, but not in connection to one of Dylan's best songs, "The Lonesome
Death of Hattie Carroll," which appeared on his 1964 album *The Times
They Are a-Changin'*. The song begins with these lyrics: "William
Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll; With a cane that he twirled around
his diamond ring finger; At a Baltimore hotel society gath'rin'." It is
based on a true story. William Zantzinger (Dylan got the spelling wrong)
was 24 years old, the son of a wealthy tobacco farmer from a nearby (highly
segregated) county. The incident occurred at 1:30 am on February 9, 1963,
at the fancy Spinsters' Ball at Baltimore's Emerson Hotel . Zantzinger was
drunk and abusive all night. Using a toy cane, Zantzinger assaulted at
least three of the hotel's employees - a bellboy, a waitress, and Hattie
Carroll, a barmaid, 51, the mother of 11 children (the song says "ten"). He
ordered a bourbon and called Carroll a "nigger" and other names when she
didn't bring it immediatel, and hit her on the e shoulder and on her head.
A few minutes later, Carroll collapsed and was taken to the hospital, where
she died eight hours later of a brain hemorrhage. Zantzinger was charged
with murder but it was reduced to manslaughter. On August 28, a three-judge
panel convicted him and sentenced him to six months in prison and a $500
fine. The judges deferred the start of his jail sentence until September
15, to give Zantzinger time to harvest his tobacco crop. The sentencing
occurred the same day as the 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. King gave
his "I Have Dream Speech."

- *"Madeline Janis: An Extraordinary Activist."
*On May 26, Amherst College bestowed an honorary doctorate on Madeline
Janis for her three decades of extraordinary social activism. I profiled
Janis in the *Huffington Post *and explained why she deserves this honor
as the founder of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and a lifetime
of effective activism. You can watch Bill Moyers' recent interview
with Janis 
*Moyers told Janis: "I don't know anyone who has won more organizing
victories than you."

- *"Retailers Announce New Factory Safety
* -- The *New York Times*' Steve Greenhouse and his colleagues have done
a masterful job of reporting on the causes and consequences of the recent
collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh that killed more than a
thousand workers. They've already explained how Wal-Mart, the GAP, and
several other American corporations have been unwilling to join with major
European and Canadian firms to craft a solution. The "new factory safety
plan" mentioned in this headline is actually their way to avoid taking
real responsibility by participating in this program. But it is nice to
know that they are feeling enough heat that they have to do something.
Consumer and labor groups in the U.S. and around the world are keeping the
pressure up until these US-based companies are held accountable for killing
workers through negligence and their obsession with profits over people.

- *"If Frances Kelsey Could Protect America from the Pharmaceutical
Industry in 1962, Congress Can
" -**-* Frances who? In this article for *Truth-out*, I tell the
story of FDA scientist Frances Kelsey, who 50 years ago single-handedly
protected Americans from a dangerous drug, thalidomide. When you hear
corporate lobbyists and conservative pundits and politicians warning about
"big government," think about the thousands of people like Dr. Kelsey
working today in government offices and labs around the country, quietly
protecting Americans from products that could kill or injure them if their
manufacturers were allowed to make and market them. They work for the FDA,
OSHA, the FAA, the EPA, the CDC, the National Transportation Safety
Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and other federal
agencies. Every day, they save lives.

follow on Twitter <https://www.twitter.com/PeterDreier/> | friend on
Facebook <http://www.facebook.com/uepiatoxy> | forward to a

*The opinions expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of
Occidental College or its employees. Occidental College is not responsible
for the content of this communication.*

More information about the Colist mailing list