[COMM-ORG] Peter Dreier: Fred Ross, Stonewall and Occupy, and more

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Fri Aug 1 08:59:17 CDT 2014

[ed: do a search for Fred Ross and for Stonewall to see the sections 
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Peter Dreier <dreier at oxy.edu>

Schools, Guns, Baseball, Supreme Court, and more

An occasional message from Peter Dreier

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*Dear Friends and Colleagues,*

*An occasional message from Peter Dreier *

*"Can LA Communities Bank on Antonio Villaraigosa?
-- When he left City Hall a year ago, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa went to
work for the CEO of Banc of California, which had big ambitions to expand.
Now the bank is caught in a controversy with community groups over its
refusal to negotiate a community investment plan to meet the needs of
low-income and minority consumers and communities. The puts Antonio in a
bind.. As I wrote in this op-ed for the *LA Daily-News*, he can be a hero
and broker an agreement or he can keep quiet and appear to be on the side
of the banksters. I urge Antonio to push the bank to stop using bullying
tactics to win regulator's approval and instead to do the right thing for
the community.

*"America's Rigged Education Class System"
-- In this article in* Huffington Post*, I look at the huge gap in school
funding between school districts that serve affluent and poor students.
Compounding these funding disparities are other factors – the ability of
wealthy areas to pass supplemental parcel taxes, to raise private funds
through school "booster" clubs and through local private educational
foundations, and the multiple enrichment activities (pre-K, summer, after
school, and weekend) that affluent parents can afford that working class
parents can’t. All parents want what is best for their children, but some
parents — and states and school districts — have greater means to provide
them with educational resources. All these factors make a mockery of the
idea of “equal opportunity” when it comes to education. California
reflects this embarrassing aspect of America’s class system. Compared with
other states, California ranks close to the bottom in per-student spending
on public education as well as student-teacher ratios, librarians, guidance
counselors, and other measures, even with the additional funding from
Proposition 30. And within California, there are still huge disparities in
per-student spending between school districts, despite the new local
funding formula adopted by the state legislature.

*"Honoring Rachel Robinson: Baseball Pioneer and Civil Rights Activist"
*-- I had the pleasure to introduce the induction of the remarkable Rachel
Robinson into Baseball Reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals. She is the most
important women in the history of major league baseball. More than
just Jackie's helpmate and supporter, she was a civil rights activists in
her own right and since Jackie's death in 1972 she has worked hard to
promote his legacy as an activist on and off the diamond. My remarks are
incorporated into this article for *Huffington Post.*

*"Honoring Fred Ross Sr."
Manuel Pastor and I celebrate the life of pioneering community organizer
Fred Ross Sr., who will be inducted in the California Hall of Fame in
October. Among his other accomplishments, Ross recruited and trained Cesar
Chavez and helped him form the United Farm Workers union. Gov. Jerry Brown
made the announcement last month. Our op-ed appeared in the *San Jose

*The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of
Fame *-- The editor at Nation Books recently emailed me that my book has
just gone into its fourth printing. Thanks to all the friends, strangers,
teachers, and organizations who have purchased the book for themselves,
their friends' birthdays and graduations (etc), their students, and their
groups' members and staffs! You can buy it on Amazon
is unionized), or independent
local bookstores.

*The Rise of the Corporate Landlord
Wall Street has done it again -- created another housing bubble that is
just waiting to burst. Invitation Homes, a subsidiary of Blackstone Group,
is leading the pack in gobbling up foreclosed homes and renting them at
exorbitant rents and with little management or maintenance. Worse, they are
bundling them and selling them as securities to investors. How long until
these come crashing down, just like the pools of subprime loans did 7 years
ago? The Right to the City Alliance and the Center for American Progress
documented and exposed this scam with excellent reports. A few weeks ago,
two California Congressmembers, Maxine Waters and Mark Takano -- meet with
community activists in LA to review the findings in this great *report
about Blackstone's invasion of LA and Riverside counties. The real estate
media, like *Housing Wire*
reported this story but so far the mainstream media have ignored it. When
will federal regulators jump into this mess before this ticking timebomb

*Fighting Foreclosures* -- Sunday's *Washington Post **profiles
the great community organizing work by the Alliance of Californians for
Community Empowerment (ACCE). and organizer Peter Kuhns in helping
homeowners battle big banks. It tells the story of the Coronel family's
battle with Fannie Mae to save their home. They are part of a growing
national movement. As my coauthors and I revealed in our *"Underwater
*report, and as I wrote in an op-ed, *"What Housing Recovery?"
the *New York Times *in May, about 10 millions Americans are underwater,
drowning in debt. Washington bailed out the banks but left these families
to struggle on their own. Hopefully, this *Washington Post *article will
help the movement's effort to put pressure on FHFA's Mel Watt to support
principal reduction, a key plank in the movement's policy demands.

*"Politicians Give Living on Minimum Wage a Whirl"
-- In an *article
*for *Politico*, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland explained how he tried
and failed to live on the minimum wage for a week. Congressmembers Tim Ryan
and Jan Schakowsky also took part in the "Live the Wage" challenge, a great
PR devise. Schakowsky, a former organizer and progressive beacon, has been
leading this battle in Congress to raise the federal minimum wage. Another
warrior for economic justice in Rep. Keith Ellison, whose interview about
the movement can be see in this video
for *Zero Hour*. San Diego is the latest city to adopt a minimum wage law,
as this *article
in *The Nation* reports. Congrats to my friend organizer Lew Finfer and
Raise Up Massachusetts, a broad coalition, for successfully pushing an 
statewide minimum wage
Gov. Patrick signed the bill last month, surrounded by lots of community,
labor and faith activists that build an incredible grassroots campaign.
Like all good organizing groups, the Raise MA campaign is now going to
build on this victory to push for a state initiative for paid sick leave. As
the movement to raise the minimum wage grows, more politicians want to be
allies. As I wrote in this article, *“How Seattle’s $15/Hour Minimum Wage
Victory Began in New York City’s Zuccotti Park
*American Prospect*, Occupy's legacy can be seen in the growing outrage
about inequality and the powerful movement to raise the minimum wage in
cities and states around the country.

*"The Pitchforks Are Coming for Us Plutocrats"
-- Capitalism's central contradiction: Each business wants to pay as little
as possible to employees. But the whole system falls apart if employees, as
consumers, don't have money to spend to keep businesses thriving.
Billionaire Nick Hanauer explains this in his great essay, "The Pitchforks
Are Coming for Us Plutocrats" and calls on his fellow plutocrats to endorse
a big raise in the minimum wage. But this article,* "Why Big Business Loves
Desperate Workers,"*
*CommonDreams*, illustrates why Hanauer is a renegade among his
fellow billionaires.

*"Making Housing Affordable"
-- This week I had the last meeting with the 8 Oxy students who are
participating in a summer internship program in affordable housing and
community development. This is my 10th year running the program, which it
described in this article. It always very rewarding to see the students
learn how community-based groups can transform neighborhoods and improve
society. Students get a $3,900 stipend and subsidized room-and-board, while
working full-time with nonprofit community groups engaged .in organizing,
advocacy, and development. I meet with them weekly to discuss their
experiences. This year's group of 8 students -- selected out of more than
40 applicants -- is really energetic and inspiring. Their names and
internship assignments are listed in the article. It is a pleasure and
inspiration to work with them. I was pleased that Oxy president Jonathan
Veitch visited the meeting this morning and talked with the students about
their experiences.

*"Don't Like Gun Violence? Stop Funding It"
-- *Boston Globe *columnist Renee Loth calls on universities, state and
city governments, pension funds, and others to divest from gun
manufacturers. She cites Occidental College at the first college to take
that step.

*"How's He Doing? Bill de Blasio After Six Months"
-- Almost every banker, developer, and charter school-supporting
billionaire in New York, plus much of the mainstream media, wants to weaken
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and make it impossible for him to govern. So
what’s the response of some parts of the so-called left, like Danny Katch
in this outrageous article for *Truthout*? Attack him for not being radical
enough. He’s only been in office for six months and he’s made a number of
great policy choices already. Plus, he’s hired lots of progressives to help
him govern. Groups like NY Communities for Change and the Working Families
Party recognize that de Blasio needs a strong progressive movement to make
it easier for him to be an effective mayor. Of course, de Blasio is not
beyond criticism, but Katch's article is more of a temper tantrum than a
real analysis. Does he expect de Blasio to undo in six months what it took
several decades for Wall Street, big business, the national Republicans,
and mayors Koch, Giuliani, and Bloomberg to achieve? It looks like some
parts of the left haven’t learned that the perfect is the enemy of the
good. These criticisms just give New York’s mainstream media – which
already want to discredit him – more ammunition to do so, this time from
the “left.” As I suggested in this article, *"Ten Lessons for Bill de
Blasio" *
*The Nation *last December before he took office, if you want to help de
Blasio be a successful progressive mayor, criticize and organize against
the big developers, Wall Street bankers and hedge funders, and landlords.
And find a few “liberal” business folks who recognize that they can’t have
a healthy city if there’s a huge income/wealth gap. Use these “enlightened”
business folks (who favor inclusionary zoning and a $15/hour living wage,
and the use of municipal eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages to
avoid more foreclosures, for example) to show that business isn’t
monolithic and undermine the arguments of the real estate and bank lobby
groups. If you want de Blasio to be in office for 8 years, give him some
breathing room and act like allies, not jilted lovers. Or else you’ll get
another Bloomberg or worse.

*"How President Obama Can Help Rebuild the Middle Class"
-- In this *LA Times *op-ed, I explain that there's lots Obama can do by
executive order to raise wages for workers whose private sector employers
do business with the federal government.

*"Mississippi Gov. Blames Obama for Jump in Uninsured After Refusing to
Expand Medicaid"
-- If there was a Hypocrisy Hall of Fame, Miss. Gov. Phil Bryant would be
one of the first people inducted.

*"Death by Abstention"
*-- By abstaining on a vote to raise California's minimum wage to $13/hour,
Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, killed the bill in the Labor
Committee. It needed four votes to move out of committee, but it got only
three, thanks to Holden. Neither the LA Times nor the local Pasadena
Star-News wrote about it, so how are voters to hold their legislators
accountable? I wrote this article for the *Pasadena Weekly* to let people
know that Holden voted to deny California's low wage workers a much-needed

*"Progressives Turn From Obama to Embrace Warren"
-- The *Washington Post *article about Elizabeth Warren's growing
popularity is heartening, but what's great about Warren is that her appeal
is much wider than self-identified progressives. The point here is not
Obama vs. Warren (she's doing him a favor by establishing a left flank in
the party along with Sanders, Durbin, and others), but Clinton vs. Warren
(will Warren's growing popularity push Hillary to the left?). I highly
recommend Warren's autobiography, *A Fighting Chance*, which is also a
great primer on American politics and culture.

*An open letter to the people who hate Obama more than they love America
-- A provocative essay posted on *Daily Kos*.

*"What Stonewall Got Right, and Occupy Got Wrong
This *New Yorker *article is both interesting and somewhat misleading. The
Stonewall protest that helped galvanize the gay rights movement -- on June
28, 1969 -- was successful because of what happened AFTER the initial
"riot" occurred. Experienced organizers built a constituency with a clear
set of demands. This article is useful in explaining what happened. But its
criticism of Occupy is a bit misleading. The Occupy movement's influence is
still felt today is the growing awareness of inequality and the "1% vs 99%"
language it invented, which has has ripple effects among folks working with
unions, community organizations, and in the media.

*“Maria Shriver's -- and Bobby Shriver's -- Inconvenient Truth?,”
-- Earlier this month Maria Shriver wrote a great article in *Huffington
Post* celebrating the 10th anniversary of California's successful paid
family leave law. But she just forgot to mention the person who authored
and championed that law -- former state legislator Sheila Kuehl. Could
that have something to do with the fact that Maria's brother Bobby is
running against Kuehl for the LA County Board of Supervisors?

*“Fantasy or Forecast? A Progressive Supreme Court Agenda”*
-- "It's always darkest before the dawn" sang Pete Seeger. "And that's
what keeps me moving on." The recent spate of reactionary decisions by the
Roberts Supreme Court — including the outrageous Hobby Lobby ruling —
triggers thoughts of a better day, when the right wingers on the court will
have retired or died, replaced by thoughtful liberals who will restore some
semblance of fairness and democracy to this great country. In this article
for *Talking Points Memo,* I consider what it would be like if our nation's
highest court was actually committed to the notion of "liberty and justice
for all." Doing so requires making a few leaps of faith, but none of them
are far fetched. It depends on the outcome of the next few election cycles.

*"New York City Progressives Challenge Wall Street Over Foreclosures”
-- Lots of people in NYC are drowning in debt because of underwater
mortgages. Several community groups and elected officials want the city to
take bold action to force banks, investors, and Fannie Mae to help families
stay in their homes.

“Footwear Giant Skechers Can Run But It Can’t Hide from Abusive Labor
-- Truck drivers at the LA port are protesting their abusive working
conditions. In *Huffington Post*, explain how these drivers and the
Teamster union is challenging their legal status as "independent"

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*The opinions expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of
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