Saturday, August 28, 2010

Email Secretary Mabus: “One Gulf, Resilient Gulf"


The Gulf Coast still needs your support.

Five years after Hurricane Katrina made landfall and the New Orleans levees failed, the city is on the rise thanks to the fierce determination and spirit of its residents. Yet there is so much work to be done, and so many who still want to return home. Now, the BP oil disaster is devastating communities and the livelihoods of countless more Gulf Coast residents, many of whom are still rebuilding after hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav.

As you might know, President Obama has appointed Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to develop a Gulf Coast Recovery plan. This week, the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, along with its partners Oxfam America, Trouble the Water, the Gulf Coast Fund, Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, and over 100 other groups at the forefront of Gulf Coast recovery, have released a blueprint for the long-term recovery that calls on community-based, democratic, equitable and green solutions to the ongoing crises in the region.

Act Now.

Please send an email asking Secretary Mabus ( to include the recommendations of “One Gulf, Resilient Gulf" into the Obama Administration's plan for Gulf Coast recovery.

You can also send an email through Trouble the Water's website at

thanks, scott

* The report can be accessed at
Please feel free to post the attached file or link.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Broken Promises of a Just Recovery in the Gulf Coast Five Years After Katrina/Rita


"[W]e have to have a president who understands the reality that people in New Orleans were being neglected prior to the hurricane. And there are potential Katrinas all across the country that have been left unattended."

--Sen. Barack Obama (PBS Televised Presidential Debate, July 28, 2007)

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the fifth anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita approaches, Gulf Coast residents are still trying to rebuild their lives after years of broken promises and government neglect.

The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, the bill intended to fund reconstruction efforts that would have provided hundreds of thousands of jobs for displaced residents, languishes in Congress. Affordable housing eludes both survivors in New Orleans and those displaced by the storm. After the devastating oil spill that has wreaked havoc on the local economy, the Obama administration has failed to take substantive action against British Petroleum on behalf of Gulf Coast residents and small businesses. British Petroleum's real liability goes far beyond the $75 million cap imposed by the cowardly Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Why shouldn't they be held fully responsible for their criminal negligence? It's not for Congress and the administration to negotiate a number that works for BP, erasing the real cost of this disaster in the process.

Unfortunately, the only thing that is abundantly clear is that our government failed in protecting the residents of the Gulf Coast during the storm and it has failed them yet again by breaking the promise of a just recovery.

Without a doubt, coverage of the anniversary of the storm will generate plenty of discussion regarding individual stories of survival and triumph, of which there are many. But for far too long, the story of a rights-based recovery has been neglected. Residents of the Gulf Coast region have long called for real solutions to address the disparities exacerbated by the storm, including: an adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement(1) and a demand that no more federal tax dollars be used to fund post-Katrina development projects that result in racial disparities in housing, healthcare, education, employment and environmental protection.

What is most frightening is the reality that Gulf Coast residents still have little to no federal policy in place to ensure sustainable change and recovery. The vast majority of funds and temporary practices connected to Katrina/Rita recovery are discretionary -- not permanent. Washington is playing a political game with the livelihoods of Gulf Coast residents. It's not fair and it's time for decision makers to take real action.

The fifth anniversary of this disaster provides our country with the opportunity to investigate the policies at work in preventing a just recovery. The solutions that would enable such a turnaround in the Gulf are clear. It's now our turn to look toward implementing them so that Gulf Coast residents might have a chance to take back control of the future of the region.

The Katrina Information Network (KIN) is a collaboration of groups in the Gulf and across the country to build power for change. For the next 30 days, we will feature a dozen actions that anyone, anywhere can do to support Katrina recovery work. For more information about the 30 days of solidarity and our current campaigns for just recovery, please visit our website:



KIN has compiled a list of expert residents who are actively working for a just recovery. From community organizers to environmental attorneys, the people listed below are working on tirelessly to not only rebuild New Orleans, but to create a community that cares about all its residents. To schedule interviews, please contact Mervyn Marcano at 917-553-1001 or

Monique Harden (Advocates for Environmental Human Rights): Co-founder and Attorney of AEHR, a public interest law firm dedicated to upholding the human right to live in healthy environments. Has worked with dozens of local community organizations on Katrina-related environmental issues.

Stephanie Mingo (Survivors Village): Lived in public housing. Her building was demolished, but not by Katrina, by the city of New Orleans. She fights actively for the right of residents to return home.

Adren O. Wilson (Equity and Inclusion Campaign): A nonpartisan coalition of local, regional and national organizations and community members confronting persistent poverty and inequity across the three Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Norris Henderson (Voice Of The Ex-Offender - VOTE): New Orleans native working to address the stark rise in police abuse, criminalization of residents and criminal justice spending post Katrina.

Upenda Glover (Katrina Commemoration Foundation): Organizers of annual march to commemorate lives lost. National hip-hop artists, legislators, and advocates will attend commemoration events all weekend.



Overall population: Five years after Katrina, the most liberal estimates are that 141,000 fewer people live in the metro New Orleans area.

Displaced People: Louisiana residents are located in more than 5,500 cities across the nation.

Lost Housing: More than 1 in 4 residential addresses in New Orleans is vacant or blighted-- by far the highest rate in the U.S. More than 5000 families are on the waiting list for traditional public housing and another 28,960 families are on the waiting list for housing vouchers -- more than double what it was before Katrina.

Rebuilding: At least 19,746 applications for rebuilding homes that are eligible for funding have not received any money from the Road Home Program grant program.

Economic Health: The metro area has 95,000 fewer jobs than before Katrina, down about 16 percent. Black and Latino households earn incomes that are $26,000 (44 percent) and $15,000 (25 percent) lower than whites. New Orleans has a poverty rate of 23 percent more than double the national average of 11 percent.

Public and Private Education: The number of students in public schools in New Orleans, which are over 90 percent African American, has declined by 43 percent since Katrina. New Orleans now has more charter schools than any other public school system in the country. Of the 89 public schools in New Orleans, 48, more than half, are charter schools.

People Receiving Public Assistance: Over one-third of Social Security recipients who lived in New Orleans have not returned. Medicaid recipients have declined by 31 percent. Supplemental Security Income recipients are down from pre-Katrina 26,654 to 16,514 -- a 38 percent decline.

Public Transportation: Total ridership declined down 65.7 percent. From more than 33 million in 2004 to about 13 million projected for 2010.

Oil Damage: There have been at least 348 intentional fires set in the Gulf of Mexico, controlled burns they call them, since spill. About 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersant have been dumped into the Gulf, more than a million on the surface and about 750,000 gallons sub-sea.

(1)The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement apply the basic human rights to life, health, freedom from racial and gender discrimination, adequate housing, and other rights to protect people who are forced to flee their communities in times of disaster. Furthermore, the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement establish the duties of national governments to ensure recovery and the rights of people displaced by a disaster to recover with dignity and justice.

SOURCE: The Praxis Project/Katrina Information Network


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Regional Task Force Calls for Executive Order to Establish Gulf Coast Civic Works Program


Contact: David Gauthe, (985) 438-1609,

Regional Task Force Calls for Executive Order to Establish Gulf Coast Civic Works Program

Houma, LA – June 17 – A Regional Task Force of Gulf Coast advocates is calling on President Obama to establish a new civic works program to bring jobs to the Gulf Coast, through an executive order. Over 200 regional and national organizations, as well as 50 leading religious officials and faith-based organizations, support the creation of a Gulf Coast Civic Works program.

Over the past six weeks, BP has failed to deal adequately with the economic, environmental, and health crisis that they have caused. The Gulf Coast Civic Works program would help restore the economic and environmental health of the region by creating thousands of jobs to rebuild essential infrastructure and protect the environment. Under the proposed Executive Order, the federal government would also take control of training and hiring workers to respond to the Oil Disaster.
Civic Works jobs and training include:
  • Restoring wetlands, coastal areas, fisheries, estuaries, and barrier islands;
  • Creating a Civic Conservation Corps for youth to safely help with the clean up, repair and maintain state parks, plant trees, and conduct urban greenery projects;
  • Completing the backlog of shovel-ready county projects (i.e., repair and maintenance of the roads, trees, etc.);
  • Implementing green jobs (e.g., weatherization, solar panels).
The Task Force also calls for increased community input on all aspects of the clean up through Local Advisory Boards. It is vital for the federal government to partner and hear from the true experts on the needs of the Gulf Coast – the community-based organizations that have led recovery efforts since the 2005 and 2008 hurricanes.

The Gulf Coast Civic Works program follows in the proud American history of using public works to alleviate poverty and create economic growth during the toughest times. In the 1930s, when the nation faced an unemployment crisis, more than 800,000 public workers were hired in two weeks and 4 million were hired in two months. Just as civic works projects helped to alleviate the sweeping unemployment crisis during the Great Depression, so too can the Gulf Coast Civic Works program help solve the economic and environmental crisis facing the Gulf Coast today.

If you are a part of any other networks, please feel free to forward this email along to them, as well as your media contacts.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Social Innovators Speaker Series, San Jose, CA

Scott Myers-Lipton's address to the Social Innovators Series.

I would like to thank Working Partnerships for hosting this event, and PG&E for sponsoring it. I also want to thank the co-sponsors: Assembly Member Jim Beall, Catholic Charities, CET, PACT, Sacred Heart Community Services, and Somos Mayfair.

Today, I am going to address 4 issues: First, I will address the economic and infrastructure CRISES facing the United States. Second, I will discuss how Civic Works is a SOLUTION to both of these crises. Third, I will explore how the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act is pilot project for a public works initiative. And fourth, and finally, I will discuss what LESSONS the New Deal and GCCW has for an American Civic Works Project.

First, the Current Economic Crisis: Today, there is growing consensus among social scientists and policy experts that the deregulated market is at the center of our economic crisis. Even the architects of the conservative philosophy that guided our nation these past 30 years have admitted that this aspect of free-market ideology was flawed.

At a congressional hearing in October 2008, Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve stated, “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”

This “flaw” in Greenspan’s thinking and conservative ideology about markets, regulation, and the limited role of government has led to the almost collapse of our economy, with the working people of the U.S. paying heavily for this mistake. To date, this “flaw” has cost the American tax payer $3 trillion dollars to bailout the banks and insurance companies, while at the same time, it has led directly to the loss of 8 million jobs, leaving our unemployment rate at 9.7% overall, and at 12.6% for Latinos ad 16.5% for African Americans.

Importantly, our economic crisis is connected to our infrastructure crisis, since it was the same conservative philosophy that deregulated the markets that also limited social spending on public projects. Because of this conservative belief in the limited role of government, US spending on infrastructure has declined by 50% since 1960 as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product.

Today, the US spends about 2% of its GDP on infrastructure, in comparison to Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, which spends about 5% of their annual GDP on infrastructure, and India and China, which spend 8% and 9% respectively on infrastructure.

Our crumbling infrastructure can be seen in our structurally deficient bridges, weak levees, poorly maintained dams, and dilapidated schools.

Let me give a few examples:  Today, 157,000 bridges are deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Not surprisingly, the I-35W bridge, which is on the cover of my book, was rated structurally deficient by the federal government.

Another example of our crumbling infrastructure is with our levee and dams. Today, almost 150 levees are in serious risk of failing. Remember, it was the levees which caused the drowning of the Big Easy, as the levees broke in 53 places. In addition to our weak levees, 4,095 dams have been deemed deficient, with 1,819 dams considered to be of high hazard of failing, with 687 of these high hazard dams in California.

At the same time, our transmission grid system is in need of modernization, so as to avoid “bottlenecks” and blackouts, like the one experienced in the Northeast in 2003, where 3,700 square miles lost power affecting 55 million people. And as many in this room know, our K-12 schools are in desperate need of new construction, additions, and renovations.

Each year, the American Society of Engineers releases a “report card” rating American infrastructure, and in 2009, it gave the U.S. an overall rating of a “D”, and they estimated it would cost $2.2 trillion during a 5-year period to repair our public infrastructure.

Surely, most Americans can agree that the U.S., the richest country in the world, should have a public infrastructure that is worthy of a great power. Our nation’s economy depends on having good roads, efficient airports, an effective power grid, and well-maintained schools. And our nation’s health and well-being depend on clean water and good public parks. It is time to Rebuild America!

The solution I am suggesting to do this is Public Works, or what I am calling, Civic Works. First, let me say that public works is an American solution that has been used for over 100 years to deal with economic crisis. It was used in the 1880s by city governments to alleviate unemployment, and of course, it was used by the federal government to alleviate unemployment during the Great Depression.

In the 1930s, the US created such public works programs as the CWA, PWA, WPA, and CCC. This alphabet soup of programs injected $336 billion in 2008 dollars into the economy and hired over 10 million people.

In combination with other New Deal initiatives, unemployment was cut from 24% in 1933 to 14.6% by 1940, and if the unemployment statistics included public works jobs, the unemployment rate would have been 10%. This decrease in the unemployment rate was one of the greatest decreases in American history.

In addition to reducing unemployment, New Deal public works built or repaired over:
• 2,500 hospitals

• 9,000 parks

• 43,000 schools

• 125,000 bridges

• 1 million miles of roads

• they stocked 1 billion fish into our rivers

• and they planted 3 billion trees

Public works literally built the infrastructure we utilize today.

Fast forward to 2006: A year after Hurricane Katrina, a group of students and I watched Spike Lee’s film, When the Levees Broke. We saw how 1,830 people died, 250,000 houses and 320 million trees destroyed, and 500,000 people displaced as a result of Katrina and the broken levees. And we saw the failed response by the government and the lackluster recovery efforts that followed.

After seeing Spike Lee’s video and studying the positive impact of public works, my students and I humbly proposed a modern-day “civic works” project to rebuild the Gulf Coast. We renamed public works “civic works,” since the body politic didn’t seem to be working for the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. And with the leadership of Congress member Zoe Lofgren, the GCCW Act was introduced in 2007 and again in 2009.

Today, 43 Congress members and over 250 regional and national organizations are advocating for the GCCW Act. House Resolution 2269 would create 100,000 green and prevailing-wage jobs and training opportunities for Gulf Coast residents and displaced citizens to rebuild public infrastructure damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and restore the wetlands.

The principles guiding GCCW are: democracy, equity, green jobs:

1st: Democracy: The GCCW Act allows for citizen participation in Local Advisory Boards so that residents are involved in the decisions about what gets built in their community.

2nd: Equity: HR 2269 supports equitable economic development by providing first source hiring, 20% apprenticeable jobs, and the protection of people of color, women, and immigrant.

3rd: Green Jobs: HR 2269 would rebuild infrastructure in an environmentally sustainable manner utilizing green building technologies.

Importantly, we see HR 2269 as a model for the rest of the nation about how to rebuild infrastructure and create jobs by using a bottom-up model of community development.

This idea of Civic Works is catching on. Recently, Assembly Member Jim Beall introduced the “California Civic Works Act,” or AB 2004, into the Assembly. AB 2004 is a great first step. As with HR 2269, it calls on counties to support pre-apprentice and apprentice programs, and it encourages them to create civic works jobs. Assembly member Beall will address the specifics of this bill after my remarks.

So Where Do We Go From Here?: The economic and infrastructure crises we now face are bigger than just the Gulf Coast and California. It is nation-wide. Therefore, I see the next step as the development of a large-scale “jobs creation” bill….an American Civic Works Act.

But I am not naïve enough to think that this policy proposal has a chance of moving forward without a movement of working people pushing hard for it. As I see it, the only way an American Civic Works Act has a chance to be enacted is that there is overwhelming pressure on Congress and the President to act.
As I was preparing my remarks for this talk, I read this past Monday the following headline: “White House Braces Unemployed for Slow Job Rebound”.

So I guess the question for us is: should we be doing this? Is this the right strategy for working families? To brace ourselves for a slow job recovery….or in another words a job less recovery? I say no! I say, we create a movement to pass an American Civic Works jobs bill that gets people back to work REBUILDING AMERICA.

Now as you know….the devils in the details. From my research on the New Deal and my work in the Gulf Coast, I would suggest these details for a jobs bill: First, include in the bill the principles of the GCCW Act, which are democracy, equity, and green jobs.

Second, create both a contract model of public works, where private businesses can bid on contracts, but also develop a “public option” hiring model. If we look back at the history, the government hiring model was much more successful at hiring large numbers or workers. For example, during the New Deal, the contract model (PWA) averaged about 221,000 workers a year, while the government hiring model hired on average close to 3 million a year.

Third, the jobs bill needs to be large enough to match the unemployment and infrastructure crisis. Remember, the need is over $2.2 trillion dollars and over 15 million jobs. Of course, people will ask where will we get the money? But this money will come back several-fold as workers use their pay checks to buy goods and services, and pay taxes.

Fourth, expand the notion of civic works to include such areas as child care and elderly care.
In conclusion, the US can do better than just “brace” for a jobless recovery. Why is it that when the banks and insurance firms need a bailout, it is given within days, but when the working people need a bailout, we are told to “brace for a slow recovery.”

Seventy-five years ago, when we were faced with another unemployment crisis President Roosevelt created through Executive Order, three of the four major public works projects of the New Deal. In 2 weeks of signing an Executive Order, 800,000 Americans were hired. In just 2 months, 4 million were hired….and they did this without computers!

Why not ask President Obama to be so visionary?

With a movement encouraging President Obama and Congress to create an American Civic Works Jobs Bill, we could once again hire millions within weeks….and begin the process of Rebuilding America.

Thank you very much!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Students, Faith, & Community Groups to Hold Rally at Rep. Miller's Office

Ysenia Sepulveda, GCCWP student organizer,
(510) 828-5503,
Eric Acedo, GCCWP student organizer,
(408) 710-7092,

Students, Faith, & Community Groups to Hold Rally at Rep. Miller's Office, Groups Call for Action on Human Rights Crisis in the Gulf Coast Friday, March 19th at noon

SAN JOSE, CA – FEBRUARY 19 – The Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, the national student movement to pass the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act (HR 2269), along with the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP, the Bay Area Katrina Solidarity Network, and faith-based groups from the East Bay, will hold a rally in front of Rep. George Miller's office (1333 Willow Pass Road, Suite 203, Concord) on Friday, March 19th at noon.

The goal will be to highlight the continuing human rights crisis in the Gulf Coast. As a response to the crisis, 43 Congress members and 250+ organizations are calling on the passage of HR 2269, which is a federal bill to create 100,000 jobs for local and displaced residents to rebuild infrastructure and restore their environment.

The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act was first introduced into Congress two years and four months ago, where it was sent to the Education and Labor Committee, currently chaired by Rep. George Miller. Since then, its supporters have waited patiently for a hearing on the bill. However, almost 2 and 1/2 years later, no action has been taken on the HR 2269.

As HR 2269 languishes in Committee, the human rights crisis in the Gulf Coast continues, as housing, schools, and hospitals have been slow to return, thus making it very difficult for residents to return to their homes. For example, in New Orleans, 69,727 residential addresses are unoccupied, 71% of the schools are still closed, 57% of child care centers are closed, and 44% of the hospitals are closed. In Mississippi, there is a lack of affordable housing to absorb the 1,000s of households in FEMA temporary housing programs. The good news is that there is $19 billion of federal money not obligated and unspent that could be used for GCCW projects.

What we are asking from Rep. Miller is this: (1) to include HR 2269 in the upcoming Congressional jobs bill or (2) commit to hold a hearing for HR 2269 in the spring/summer.

Support continues to grow for the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act. Most recently, the Biloxi City Council, passed a resolution in support of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act. This action by the Biloxi City Council follows the decision by New Orleans, Lafouche, and Terrebonne Parishes, three Louisiana parishes that have passed similar resolutions in support of HR 2269.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

GCCW Campaign Letter to Sen. Landrieu, Feb. 24, 2010

The Honorable Mary Landrieu
328 Hart Senate Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Landrieu:

Four years and a half after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck, the slow pace of recovery, persistent poverty, coastal land loss, and climate change have created a crisis across America’s Gulf Coast that demands a powerful response from our elected officials. Our federal response has yet to properly protect the well-being of America’s most vulnerable people and places through recovery policies which rebuild lives, restore the environment, mitigate future hazards, and respect human rights. Since 2005, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana have witnessed four major regional disasters- Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike- which have caused over $150 billion worth of damage, destroyed over 300,000 homes, killed more than 2,000 Americans and left tens of thousands of families still displaced and unable to return to their communities.

As we look across America’s Gulf Coast today, we see:
  • Millions of residents vulnerable to internal displacement or mass relocation due to future deadly storms, coastal land loss, and climate change;
  • Homeowners insurance costs sky-rocketing in coastal communities;
  • Homelessness and rental housing costs rising as affordable housing projects grinding to a halt with the crash of financial markets and thousands of blighted and storm-damaged properties remaining unrepaired; and
  • Too many families unable to access proper training and living wage work to pay for life’s necessities and find pathways out of poverty.

To begin to address these challenges, we urge the President to request and Congress to grant the reallocation of $2.8 billion in existing budgetary federal authority towards competitive grants partnering with local governments, non-profits, and faith-based organizations on projects creating green jobs building more resilient coastal communities. The U.S. Congress has appropriated billions of dollars in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita which have yet to reach the ground. As of June 30, 2009, almost one third of the total funds granted by the U.S. Congress to federal agencies ($39.4 billion) has yet to be spent. Of this, $19.4 billion has not even been obligated to specific projects. The attached memo outlines how a portion of these unused funds could be repurposed to allow the federal government to begin to partner with local stakeholders to meet this incredible national challenge.

Gulf Coast residents have expressed frustrations in the federal governments’ inability to address the long-term needs of people impacted, particularly among vulnerable populations, including residents with disabilities, elderly, low income, women, immigrant, and minority communities. Recent studies show America’s Gulf Coast to be home to some of the most vulnerable communities in the country to the threat of climate change and natural disasters. The roots of this vulnerability include a combination of economic, social and environmental challenges, each of which have been inadequately addressed by federal recovery policy to date. Additionally, national economic interests along the Gulf Coast, including energy, shipping, and commercial fishing, also remain under threat without significant action to thwart coastal land loss and protect Gulf Coast ecosystems.

Faced with these inter-related challenges residents, volunteers, and social innovators from non-profit and faith-based organizations have led some of the most successful efforts for promoting recovery and resiliency. Despite developing cutting-edge models for rebuilding safer, more energy efficient homes, protecting wetlands, training workers and revitalizing communities, their efforts have often lacked in scale due to limited funding. By reallocating federal funds towards partnerships with community leaders, we could begin to address priorities including:
  • Creating jobs restoring natural flood protection, including wetlands and barrier islands;
  • Retrofitting homes to withstand flooding and winds and promoting energy efficiency to bring down energy and homeowners insurance costs for low income families;
  • Helping families immediately threatened by coastal flooding to relocate voluntarily;
  • Promoting community economic development and affordable housing, including repairing or rebuilding blighted, storm-damaged properties;
  • Creating supportive housing for the chronically homeless and residents with disabilities;
  • Training local workers for high demand, high wage skilled trades work, including cutting edge green building, coastal restoration and disaster mitigation technologies;
  • Promoting local business development in cutting-edge green industries; and
  • Helping local small businesses obtain Surety Bonds to compete for federal contracts.

We urge you to support attaching a request to reallocate these funds in either the Jobs Bill now being debated in Congress, other upcoming supplemental appropriations legislation, or the FY 11 Appropriations Process. Such a plan would allow the Administration and the U.S. Congress to fulfill their campaign promises of building stronger, safer and more equitable communities across America’s Gulf Coast without increasing the national deficit. Together, we can work to put in place policies to ensure that we rebuild more resilient and equitable neighborhoods, restore the environment, and empower our brothers and sisters to lift themselves from poverty and overcome devastation.


Roberta Avila
Executive Director, Steps Coalition

Julia Beatty
Program Officer, The Twenty-First Century Foundation

Eugene Ben
Director, Benroe Housing Initiatives

Peg Case
Director, TRAC

Mona Gobert-Cravins
Assistant Administrator, 232-HELP/Louisiana 211

Mary Fontenot
Executive Director, All Congregations Together (ACT)

Sharon Gauthe
Executive Director, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO)

Mary Joseph
Director, Louisiana Office
Children’s Defense Fund

Rev. Ken Booker Langston
Director, Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ)

Lan Le
Executive Director, National Alliances of Vietnamese American Service

Scott Myers-Lipton, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, Gulf Coast Civic Works Project

Eva Paterson
President, Equal Justice Society

Glenda Perryman
Executive Director, Immaculate Heart Community Development Corp

Marcia Peterson
Director, Desire Street Ministries/CDC 58:12 Inc.

Marie Thompson
Executive Director, Dando la Mano

Lisa Richardson, PhD
Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies (IWES)

Sandy Sorensen
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Washington Office

Bill Stallworth
Executive Director, Hope CDA: Hope Community Development Agency

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed,
National Director
Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances
Islamic Society of North America

Rev. Romal J. Tune
CEO, Clergy Strategic Alliances, LLC

Jay A. Wittmeyer
Executive Director, Global Mission Partnerships
Church of the Brethren

Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.,
National Chair, National Congress of Black Women, Inc.

John Zippert
Director, Rural Training and Research Center
Federation of Southern Cooperatives

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

4th Annual "Poverty Under the Stars" 11/12/09 7PM at SJSU

Lofgren, Community Leaders to Address the Great Recession Green, Living Wage Jobs Called for through Civic Works

San Jose, CA – November 11: This Thursday, Rep. Lofgren, Assembly member Beall, and many of Silicon Valley's civic leaders will gather to discuss the effect of the Great Recession on our nation and community.

This year's 4th Annual "Poverty Under the Stars" event, which is sponsored by the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project and the Cesar Chavez Community Action Center, will take place at the Tommie Smith and John Carlos Statue Garden on the campus of San José State University.

On November 12th, at noon, community organizations (e.g., Step Up Silicon Valley, Community Homeless Alliance Ministry, etc.) and campus organizations will set up tents around the Smith/Carlos statues that will be decorated with placards and pictures of the Great Recession.

At 7-9 pm, there will be a forum at the Smith/Carlos statues that will feature Silicon Valley leaders, including:

  • Congress member Zoe Lofgren
  • Assembly member Jim Beall
  • Jeff Moore, NAACP Silicon Valley
  • Theresa Iacino, Step Up Silicon Valley
  • Todd Madigan, Sacred Heart Community Services
  • Sabuhi Siddique, Ahmadiya Muslim Community, Milpitas
  • Aaron Nankin, Jewish Federation, Young Adults Division
  • Sakura Kone', Community Activist, New Orleans
  • Sandra Huerta, SJSU GCCWP Student

As a part of the event, civic works will be discussed as a solution to the Great Recession.

The Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, which was created at SJSU, helped to develop the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act (House Resolution 2269). Rep. Lofgren introduced HR 2269 as a way to create 100,000 green jobs for hurricane survivors to rebuild affordable housing and infrastructure, restore wetlands, and promote energy efficiency.

And very soon, a California Civic Works Act based on HR 2269 may well be introduced in the Assembly to address the unemployment crisis here in the Golden State.

Finally, from 9PM - 7AM, students will sleep out to be in solidarity with the people who are being impacted by the Great Recession.

Here are some of the facts about the Great Recession that will be discussed at "Poverty Under the Stars":

15.7 million unemployed (10.2%) in U.S.
27 million (17.5%) unemployed, underemployed or stopped looking for work in U.S.
2.2 million unemployed (12.2%) in California
104,400 unemployed (11.8%) in Santa Clara County

623,852 homes lost to banks in 2009 (so far)
937,840 homes received a foreclosure letter in third quarter, 2009
69,727 unoccupied residential addresses in New Orleans
415 Santa Clara County homes foreclosed in September, 2009;
4,131 homes in process of foreclosure in Santa Clara County

40 million (14.6%) in poverty in U.S.19% of American kids in poverty, with 33% of black children in poverty; this latter figure expected to rise to 53% in coming years.

12 million American kids face hunger and food insecurityTwo poorest states in Union: Mississippi (22%) and Louisiana (19%);

California (13.3%) is ranked #20

In Santa Clara County, 25% of households do not earn enough to meet the minimum standard for self-sufficiency

71% of New Orleans schools still closed compared to pre-Katrina levels
California reduced K-14 funding by $3.7 billion (6.3%) in 2009-10;
$584 million cuts to CSU; CSU student fees up 30% in '09
California ranks 47th in nation in K-12 per pupil spending

In 1980s, 17% of the California budget went to higher education and 3% went to prisons. Today, 9% goes to universities and 10% to prisons.

$2 trillion in bailout funds given to banks & financial institutions
$2.2 trillion needed to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure

Infrastructure funded by American Investment Act: $150 billion
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase are set to hand out $48.9 billion in bonuses, which on average is more than $250,000 a person

New Orleans received the least amount of 2009-10 stimulus dollars of 435 congressional districts

30% of California’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 69 of our 1,247 dams are in need of rehabilitation

Contact: Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton, San José State, (510) 508-5382,