Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-NY-3. This brings total cosponsors of HR 1673, the Water Affordability , Transparency, Equity and Reliability Act of 2017, to 36. You can read more about the bill here.
Organizing for a city-level public bank in Washington DC has taken a big step forward, thanks to advocacy by the DC Public Banking Center, as the city’s 2018 budget authorizes $200,000 for a feasibility study.
The city council's action was partly spurred by problems with Wells Fargo, including the bank's admission of illegally opening bank accounts for customers without their knowledge, and failing marks for its activities under the Community Reinvestment Act. Washington DC, a Wells Fargo customer, considered a review of its banking practices, and as part of the review, to study a public banking system.
The DC Public Banking Center is a sponsored project of Alliance for Democracy, and one of three public bank campaigns involving Alliance members or supporters, including Hub Public Banking in Boston, which is currently advocating for a state public bank there, and the Portland Public Banking Alliance, in Portland OR, which is looking to bring public banking to their city.
DC Public Banking Center will continue to advocate for as complete and comprehensive a feasibility study as possible, one that looks at the potential positive impacts of banking on small business, affordable housing, and job creation. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter and visit their website here.
This July 4th, celebrate how inspired, focused, town-by-town organizing led to statewide victory.
The Alliance has long supported local food activists in Maine through the “Local Food RULES!” campaign, which works at the city or town level to pass Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinances (LFCSGOs). You can read the basic ordinance text here and here. These ordinances protect the rights of farmers and small producers to sell directly to their neighbors, preserving traditional foodways and expanding the availability of local food.
After passing 20 town-level ordinances in Maine, the campaign won an even more important victory—passage of a state-level bill guaranteeing that Maine will not interfere with town- or city-level food safety regulation. This bill, LD725, An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems, was signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage this month and will take effect at the end of the current legislative session.
Organizers thanked the Alliance for Democracy for the local food issue of Justice Rising, calling it “our most helpful organizing tool.” Read it online here, or contact the office to see about ordering printed copies. They also praised the bill’s legislative champions, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and the countless people who passed LFCSGOs locally and wrote their legislators in its support: “Grassroots democracy at its best!"
You can read more about the bill on our blog, and in this article in the Bangor Daily News.
Is President Trump’s new Election Integrity Commission a fix or a fraud? That was the topic on this week's edition of "Corporations and Democracy," a twice-monthly radio show hosted by Alliance secretary Steve Scalmanini and Annie Esposito. Their guest was election integrity and voting rights activist Jan Ben-Dor, a founding member of the Michigan Election Reform Alliance, and a member of the board of directors of the National Election Defense Coalition, as well as a former election official.
You can listen or download a podcast of the show here.
Want democracy? Come to Minneapolis this August for the Democracy Convention (and our Earth Democracy Conference!)
If July 4th left you hankering after some real democracy, come make the connections, hear the ideas, and share the skills that will invigorate your movement-building at the Democracy Convention III, August 2 – 6, at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis.
The Alliance for Democracy will be there, organizing the Earth Rights and Global Democracy Conference linking global work to defend Mother Earth and the rights of communities and ecosystems to thrive and survive to the issues important to us in the US, such as: fair trade, water, food and agriculture, climate.
Read the Earth Rights and Global Democracy statement here. AfD’s Co-chair, Nancy Price is organizing a series of panels. Here’s a partial list of Convention presenters; the full program will be posted soon.
Here’s just a taste of the Earth Rights & Global Democracy panels: the Renegotiating NAFTA panel will add a gender and racial justice analysis; and panels on the false solutions to global warming of cap and trade and carbon tax, stopping GE Eucalyptus forests slated for our southeastern states responsible for the terrible fires in Chile and Portugal, on bottled water, frac-sand mining and more.
Ronnie Cummins, International Director of the Organic Consumers Association, will speak on “Connecting the Dots: Bringing the Food, Climate, Natural Health and Democracy Movements Together in a Powerful Force for Revolution.” The great line-up of Convention Plenary speakers will be posted soon.
Earth Rights and Global Democracy is one of eight distinct, yet interrelated conferences at this third Democracy Convention. You can also connect with Representative Democracy, Racial Justice for Democracy, Peace and Democracy, Media Democracy, Education United for Democracy, Democracy and the Constitution, and Community and Economic Democracy. In addition, two tracks, on Overcoming Oppression, Building an Inclusive Movement, and Skills and Arts provide a toolkit for activists seeking to broaden their allies and impact.
Register Now: The Democracy Convention website has all the information you need on registration, lodging and meals (including affordable options on campus), and getting to and from Minneapolis. You can also donate or sponsor the convention.
As conference organizers at the 2013 and 2015 conventions, we are excited to be working again with so many sharp and committed people. Previous conventions were a tremendous coming-together of activists across the issues and the miles.
We look forward to seeing you again – this time in Minneapolis, August 2 – 6. Look for our table!
The clock is ticking on NAFTA renegotiation, and as with the TPP, grassroots pressure on Congress is essential if we are going to have a trade agreement that improves on the original text.
There are a lot of ways that a new NAFTA could be made worse, but for the purposes of asking for your Congress members' support for a better deal, there are four items that we must all demand:
● No Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement provisions (ISDS),
● Protect important “Buy American” and “Buy Local” public procurement preferences,
● Include much stronger and enforceable labor, environmental, and public health standards in the agreement itself, and
● Be negotiated in a democratic, accountable and transparent process.
Now is the time to start getting allies together for a visit with your member of Congress during the August recess. Start with three easy steps:
1) Think about local allies whom you can reach out to. Some constituents groups will be on the right side of this issue already, and already active. Those groups will include labor unions and labor councils, and some national groups that were actively opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership, such as Electronic Frontier Foundation or the Sierra Club. Other, newer, post-election grassroots groups might need you to provide some background on the trade justice fights of the last few years but would likely be your allies. You might also make local contacts through the National Farmers Union or your local organic farming association. Local peace groups and immigrant rights organizations are also good prospects. Make contact and invite them to join in a constituent visit.
2) Let your Representative's district office know that you'd like an appointment. You will probably want to ask for a half-hour of time for your group to state your case, drop off relevant materials, and answer any questions that your Representative or his/her staff might have. If your Representative was a strong opponent of the TPP and can be trusted to advocate for workers and the environment in a new NAFTA agreement, you may only need time to say "thanks for your good work—please make this issue a priority this term!"
3) Show that you represent a broad constituency. Signatures on these postcards emphasize that trade is an issue for voters in your Representative's district. Print some out from this file for tabling and canvassing, and keep a few with you at all times to get signatures from friends. Don't be shy. Trade is a transpartisan issue and you will find Democrats, Republicans, and independent voters all supportive of good trade policy, though sometimes for different reasons, including jobs, the environment, and the threat ISDS poses to national sovereignty and local decision-making.
Outreach, setting a date, and showing support will put you in good shape for a Congressional visit during the recess. Start now to make an impact!
Good news for local food in Maine! On Friday, June 16, Gov. Paul LePage signed LD 725, an Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems. The bill will become law 90 days after adjournment, but towns can pass Local Food and Community Self Governance Ordinances (LFCSGO) now with assurance that the state will recognize their validity. Right now, some six towns are working on local LFCSGO campaigns, which defend the legality of face-to-face, farmer-to-consumer sales of meat, dairy, and prepared products. Nineteen towns have already passed the ordinance.
Local Food RULES organizers encourage anyone who's thinking about introducing the ordinance to share this good news with town officials, and to contact them with questions--they are prepared to help.
In the meantime, the Local Food RULES campaign asks Maine residents to write to the Governor and thank him for his signature, and to contact state legislators as well, to thank them for their votes. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate, and 108-35 in the House. You can find out how your representative voted here.
In a statement, organizers thanked the bill sponsor, Sen. Troy Jackson for introducing it and guiding it through the process; as Minority Leader in the Senate, noting that it was work on top of a very busy session and he gave this issue a very generous amount of time. They also recognized co-sponsors Rep. Michelle Dunphy, Rep. Craig Hickman, Sen. Brian Langley, Rep. John Martin, and Sen. David Miramant.
Organizers also thanked the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and the countless people who passed LFCSGOs locally, or responded to "constant please to write to people. Grassroots democracy at its best!"
Recently, the office of the US Trade Representative solicited public commentary on NAFTA renegotiation. Both the national Alliance for Democracy and the Alliance's Portland Chapter submitted statements.
The Portland Alliance statement reads:
As the US begins to re-negotiate NAFTA, the Alliance for Democracy in Portland, Oregon requests that negotiations be public, and transparent, and benefit all people in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The negotiations must be open, public and transparent. Any negotiations which is done by the 500 corporate trade advisers only will be rejected by the people. Representative of the people must be present, participating fully and have a meaningful part of all negotiations. They must not be excluded from any talks, even if the talks are not about the environment or labor. The people's representatives must be on an equal footing with the corporate representatives.
Negotiations which happen behind closed doors are undemocratic and will result in an agreement which benefits those behind the doors, not the people of our three nations. The result of any such negotiations will be rejected by the people.
It is not our belief that NAFTA can be renegotiated and achieve our objectives. In fact, we must repeal NAFTA. And then if we need to establish new tariffs or quotas in order to facilitate trade among our nations, then new treaties should be negotiated and approved in the Senate according to our Constitution.
The national Alliance submitted the following:
NAFTA renegotiation presents an opportunity to fix a flawed trade deal, but only if the US Trade Representative and the White House are determined to stand up for jobs, environmental protection and climate stability, small farms and food safety, and the rights of nations, states, and municipalities to regulate corporate activity to protect public health, natural resources, in particular our surface and groundwater sources on which all life depends, and local economies.
The Alliance for Democracy stands with other civic, environmental, consumer and labor organizations to demand that a new NAFTA incorporate the following changes:
None of this has surprised the many millions of Americans who were opposed to NAFTA when it first passed, and have been working to block subsequent multinational trade deals, including the Multinational Agreement on Investments, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and the Trans Pacific Partnership, ever since.
We are not "anti-trade." But we are completely opposed to any trade policy that privileges corporate profits over the lives and well-being of citizens and the communities in which they live and work, or the ecological systems that sustain all life.
NAFTA renegotiation represents a chance to affirm the importance of jobs, local economies, strong communities, and the environment, and to be a model of what a "fair trade" agreement can do.
Common sense dictates that any member of Congress with an interest in truth or the Constitution wait until the 2018 midterms before instituting impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. After all, the House now is dominated by Trump's own party, and they don't seem too ruffled by anything he does. But in this latest essay, Ronnie Dugger gives an equally common sense reason for starting the impeachment call (as well as a useful recap of how impeachment works). He writes:
To impeach Trump is not to eject him from the White House. An impeachment is similar to an indictment. The “grand jury” that decides on an impeachment is the U.S. House. The “jury” is the U.S. Senate. If the House decides to impeach, the news is sent over to the Senate, which then decides, by debating and voting, that he or she is guilty as charged or not. Only if the Senate’s verdict on Trump is “guilty” would he have to leave the White House and go back to the former life he so enjoyed and live again at Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago, or anywhere else.
Ronnie also offers a nice recap of Trump administration acts that will drag the country further to the right, from Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the Supreme Court and likely many right-wing judges now named to the lower courts; hand more economic power over to the rich and their immediate dependents through attacks on Medicare, the ACA repeal, and a revised tax policy; and bring us closer to both boots-on-the-ground war and the possibility of more impulsive missile strikes. The stakes are certainly high enough that the call to get House and possibly Senate "On the record, vote yes, vote no, or abstain!" on the future of a Trump presidency will be a welcome clarification of hundreds of 2018 candidates' stands on executive power and the Constitution.
This week we're asking members and supporters across the US to make a call to their Representative in support of the WATER Act.