Wednesday, July 18, 2007

John Edward's Poverty Tour and the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project

Scott was a guest blogger on Southern Studies Blog: Facing South and on John Edwards' 08 Blog

Read On...

As the sun set over New Orleans, Sen. John Edwards walked into the newly rebuilt Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology in the Lower 9th Ward, and was greeted by approximately 20 community members and 20 college and high school students. The latter group were involved in various service projects in the Lower 9th, and had come to show support for the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project (GCCWP), which is the national effort to develop 100,000 jobs to rebuild the region.

Truthfully, we had expected hundreds, if not thousands, to be there. At a previous Edwards event in San Jose, where we had the opportunity to talk to Edwards about the GCCWP, there had been over 500 people in attendance. We expected the same in New Orleans, especially since this was the beginning of his well-publicized "Poverty Tour," where Edwards would be visiting 11 cities and towns over the next three days.We had come to the "Poverty Tour" to make some "positive noise" for the GCCWP.

We had planned to hold up several large banners on the Poverty Tour so that Edwards and the press would visually see the GCCWP message. However, at this opening event, we were told to put the banners away. Since the person who made this request was also an ally of ours, we put the banners away. Also, since there were only 40 people in the room, we felt like we would be able to get our message across in the Q and A period ... and we did.

In his speech, Edwards talked about creating "50,000 stepping stone jobs" for the people of New Orleans. A reporter asked him to clarify what these jobs would be, and he said that the jobs would be in schools, libraries, and community centers. He said that these jobs would build a "work ethic." Not exactly the modern-day version of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which is what the GCCWP envisions.

Then, Edwards asked the audience for questions, and one of the first questions was from a community resident who was a member of New Orleans ACORN, who asked him whether he supported the GCCWP. (New Orleans ACORN is a strong ally of the GCCWP.) He said, yes, this was what he meant by his "stepping stone jobs." However, we were not totally satisfied with this response, since the GCCWP calls for jobs to build the hospitals, schools, libraries, and parks, not just to work in them.

The next morning, Sen. Edwards was on Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer, and the GCCWP was there. Amber McZeal, a Katrina survivor and evacuee, who now lives in the Bay Area and is working with Color of Change, asked Edwards whether his "stepping stone jobs"were similar to the jobs called for in the GCCWP, pointing out that the latter called for jobs to rebuild the schools, hospitals, and parks.

Edward's response was clear and unequivocal. He said yes, that was what he was supporting. He even used the words "Gulf Coast Civic Works" in his response. We were thrilled to have had a major presidential candidate so clearly endorse the project's vision.

One more thing: Amber and I have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of people in New Orleans in many community meetings during the past week. In almost all of the meetings, the people said that the silver lining of Hurricane Katrina was that people and organizations were talking to one another, and that didn't happen much before Katrina.

Clearly, there is a powerful spirit of social action in New Orleans. America, are you ready for the change that is about to burst out in NOLA? Let's hope!

For more information about the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, please contact:

Scott Myers-Lipton at (510) 508-5382 or
Amber McZeal at (510) 355-7927 or

Monday, July 16, 2007

California AJR 22 - Make Calls Today!

Hey all,

Can you call today these Republican members of the House and ask them to support AJR 22. Thanks! We want to have some Republican support.

Here is the web site that has the Repbulican numbers:

And make sure you call Bonnie Garica, who voted for AJR 22 in the Committee; tell her we are couting on her vote in the full Assembly! Call: 916-319-2080.

The organizing is going well in NOLA - Amber & I are here. We met with 40 activists who went to the US Social Forum in Atlanta a few weeks ago. They included the GCCWP as one of the 3 action items in their resolution, so they should be a strong partner.

Tonight, a group of 10 students (one of which is Lindsay!) that I met with last night, Amber, and I will be turning out for the beginning of Edward's Poverty tour. We plan on chanting "100,000 jobs"!

Make those calls! scott ml

Thursday, July 12, 2007

August 29 to September 2: National Commemoration of the 2nd Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina


I would like to invite you become part of a national commemoration of the 2nd Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

To register for this event, sign up at

Nearly two years ago, Hurricane Katrina, aided by the construction of a substandard levee protection system, killed over 1,800 people, damaged 200,000 homes, and destroyed schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, parks, and forest lands.

The government's response to one of the largest disasters in the nation's history has been ineffective and weak, and is a collective stain on the heart and soul of our nation. Of the 148,000 Louisianans who have applied for aid to rebuild their homes, only 30,000 have received grants, 86,000 Gulf Coast families are still living in FEMA trailers, and 750,000 residents remain displaced.

During the week of August 29 to September 2, the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project*, which is the national effort to develop federal legislation to create 100,000 jobs for Gulf Coast residents, is calling upon communities and colleges across the country to observe the 2nd Anniversary of Katrina by gathering for commemorative events at Work Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) projects in our local communities.

During the Great Depression, eight million WPA workers and three million CCC workers built or repaired 800 state parks, 2,500 hospitals, 6,000 schools, and 13,000 playgrounds. Most likely, a public work project is very near you.

By gathering at public work projects, we will remind the nation on the 2nd Anniversary of Katrina that there is an effective solution for the problems of the Gulf Coast.

The Gulf Coast still needs to rebuild homes, schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, parks, and forest lands. This is exactly what our public work projects have historically built.

On August 29 to September 2, we will gather at public work projects around the country :
  1. to remember the over 1,800 who died in Hurricane Katrina (e.g., a religious leader can speak about the loss of life),
  2. to highlight the struggles of Katrina survivors in our own communities and the nation (e.g., a Katrina survivor might speak about the suffering and difficulties they have faced),
  3. to highlight the lack of rebuilding (e.g., local residents who have visited the Gulf on a volunteer project could speak),
  4. to promote federal legislation to create a Gulf Coast Civic Works Project (e.g., someone can speak on what 100,000 public work jobs could do for rebuilding the physical structures of the Gulf and allowing our displaced citizens to return home).

Again, please register for this 2nd Anniversary Katrina event at

You can also contact or call Scott Myers-Lipton at 510-508-5382 .

best, scott

* The Gulf Coast Civic Works Project has been working in partnership with Louisiana ACORN and All Congregations Together (a PICO affiliate of 40 churches in New Orleans). In addition, the US Social Forum General Assembly in Atlanta passed a resolution calling on the federal government to create the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project. Furthermore, the California Assembly's Jobs, Economic Development, and Economy Committee passed AJR 22, which calls upon the California Congressional delegation to support federal legislation to enact the GCCWP, in a 5-0 vote; the full Assembly will vote on AJR 22 by late August.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Assembly Joint Resolution 22 passes out of Committee on a 5-0 Vote

Great news! Assembly Joint Resolution 22--which is in support of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project--passed on a 5-0 vote in the Jobs, Economic Development, and Economy Committee. Victoria Chavez, Joshua Barousse, and Rochelle Jackson Smarr (all SJSU students), as well as Amber McZeal, a Katrina survivor who currently lives in the Bay Area, and I represented the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project.

Speaker Pro Tempore Sally Lieber started off the testimony by explaining why she has brought forward this resolution. This was followed by two powerful presentations by Amber McZeal and Victoria Chavez. The others in the group stated our names and our support for a "yes" vote on AJR 22.

After 10 minutes of discussion, AJR 22 was passed 5-0. The resolution now goes to the full Assembly for a vote in either two weeks or the end of August.

Happy Independence Day! After the apple pie and before the fireworks make time to read the Declaration of Independence!

best, scott ml

VICTORIA CHAVEZ speech from 7/3/07 AJR22 hearing

On behalf of the students from SJSU Gulf Coast Civic Works Project and the 40 other universities 8 of which are in California would like to thank Sally Lieber and the fellow members of the state assembly for inviting us to speak on behalf of the non-binding resolution AJR22.

As California residents we hold a particular interest in lending support for a public works program for reconstructing the gulf coast because of our particular vulnerability to natural disasters. If we were to undergo a natural disaster such as a massive earthquake in the bay area we would hope to expect immediate relief and reconstruction efforts. We do not want to stand over the rubble of our homes waiting for help to arrive a week later and a solution two years after that.

This understanding is what led 15 campuses across the nation to participate in Louisiana winter this past January. during our visit to the gulf coast we heard first hand accounts during town hall meetings of residents primary concerns; some of which centered around rebuilding and taking part in the reconstruction themselves.

Similarly during a solidarity dinner held at SJSU during one day of the national post Katrina awareness summit we were fortunate enough to connect with Katrina survivors currently living in the Bay Area. They reiterated the humble desire of returning home, and having a home to return to - it is a human right that any displaced individual has the right to return home and the federal government is responsible for providing adequate aid.

California is a politically influential state and its support of a non-binding resolution for the reconstruction of the gulf coast will not only drive our efforts, but it will push the federal government into action. we really need the state assembly to support AJR 22 in order to further our efforts in providing the Gulf Coast with a viable and promising reconstruction plan.

Sociology Major
San Jose State University
Community Change Concentration

Assemblywoman Lieber presents Gulf Coast Relief Resolution to assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and The Economy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For More Information, Contact:
Monday, July 2, 2007 Cory Jasperson (916) 319-2022

media advisory

Assemblywoman Lieber presents Gulf Coast Relief Resolution to assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and The Economy

On Tuesday, July 3, Speaker pro Tempore of the California Assembly Sally Lieber will present Assembly Joint Resolution 22 (AJR 22) in support of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, a national effort to develop federal legislation to create 100,000 WPA-like jobs to rebuild the region using Gulf Coast residents. Tomorrow’s hearing will be the first step in putting California on the record demanding renewed attention to the post-Katrina rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region.

“Too many families, the aged and the disabled, remain displaced with inadequate housing, shelter, health care, employment and education almost two years after Katrina devastated the region,” said Assemblywoman Lieber. “The post-Katrina recovery effort remains an abject lesson of the failure of local, state and federal government agencies to properly plan, coordinate and implement timely, compassionate emergency and reconstruction responses.”

AJR 22 calls upon each U.S. Senator and Representative from California and the President to support the passage of federal legislation based on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project.
Amber McZeal, a Hurricane Katrina survivor living in the Bay Area, commented, “As of this moment not one unified, concrete plan has been presented to resolve the issue of the over 250,000 people still displaced from the Gulf Coast…the impact of the separation from our community has been devastating for all of us.”

The Gulf Coast Civic Works Project is similar to the WPA projects of the 1930s and early 1940s, which helped the United States recover from the Great Depression by employing more than 8 million Americans to build roads, parks and other public works. The Project was initiated by students and faculty at San José State University, and has been taken up on campuses throughout the country.
# # #

Monday, July 02, 2007

California Legislature to consider GC Civic Works Project


On Tuesday, July 3, the California Legislature will consider Assembly Joint Resolution 22, which if passed, will put on record that the state requests the California Congressional delegation to support federal legislation to implement the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project (see below for full text of JR 22).

We're going to Sacramento!

Students, faculty, and Katrina survivors will drive to the state capitol in Sacramento for the July 3rd hearing in front of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy. Victoria Chavez, a San José State student and Amber McZeal, a Katrina survivor, will speak in support of the Joint Resolution.

Email Congress Now

In light of this exciting development, we ask that you take a moment and contact your Congress member and two U.S. Senators, and tell them to join the state of California and support the immediate development of 100,000 civic work jobs to rebuild the Gulf Coast. Click here to contact them.

If you are really inspired, please contact your local media (television and newspaper) and tell them to write a story about Assembly Joint Resolution 22. (The press release is at

And if you are outside the state of California, you can email your state representative and ask her/him to introduce a similar resolution in your state. We hope you take a moment and take one of the above actions. It will make a huge difference. If you decide to take any of the above actions, please let us know at

Thanks so much, and I hope you are having a wonderful summer. best, scott

What you can do today:
1) Alert your Congress member to the California State Legislature’s Action. Email today: Click here

2) If you are a California resident, tell your state representative to support Assembly Joint Resolution No. 22: Click here

3) Contact your local media (television and newspaper) and tell them to write a story about Assembly Joint Resolution 22: Click here

California Assembly Joint Resolution No. 22
Introduced by Assembly Member Lieber
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Ruskin, Coto)
(Coauthors: Senators Alquist, Corbett, and Maldonado)
May 3, 2007
Assembly Joint Resolution No. 22-Relative to Hurricane Katrina disaster relief. AJR 22, as introduced, Lieber. Hurricane Katrina: disaster relief: Gulf Coast Civic Works Project.

This measure would memorialize each Senator and Representative from this state in the Congress and the President to enact legislation based on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, a national effort to create 100,000 jobs for Gulf Coast residents to rebuild their communities.
WHEREAS, Hurricane Katrina damaged over 200,000 Gulf Coast homes; and WHEREAS, Hurricane Katrina destroyed schools, hospitals, roads, community centers, bridges, parks, and forest lands; and
WHEREAS, The response by the federal government to this unprecedented disaster has been ineffective and weak; and
WHEREAS, Approximately 101,000 Louisianans have applied for aid to rebuild their homes, but only several thousand people have received grant assistance; and
WHEREAS, During the Great Depression, when the United States faced a crisis, our country created 800,000 jobs in two weeks, and 4 million jobs in two months; and WHEREAS, Public workers in projects such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression built or repaired 2,500 hospitals, 6,000 schools, 13,000 playgrounds, and built the Golden Gate Bridge; and
WHEREAS, The neglect of the Gulf Coast after the impact of Hurricane Katrina is a tragedy that requires the attention of every American, regardless of party affiliation
or state of residence; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly and the Senate of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature supports the passage of federal legislation based on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, a national effort to create 100,000 jobs for Gulf Coast residents to rebuild their communities; and be it further
Resolved, That a WPA-like project for the Gulf Coast will rebuild homes and shattered lives, and will restore faith in our federal government; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States and the President of the United States urging their support in passing this federal legislation.

If anyone can make a difference on this issue, it's you. Thank you for speaking up.

Scott Myers-Lipton, Ph.D.Sociology Department San Jose State University

P.S. Send an email today: Click here