Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Santa Clara County Democratic Party Executive Board

March 27, 2007: This was submitted today by the Santa Clara County Democratic Party Executive Board to the California Democratic Party Resolutions Committee.

Kindly, ask California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres to support this resolution. Contact him at chairman@cadem.org


Whereas, Hurricane Katrina destroyed over 200,000 Gulf Coast homes and many schools, hospitals, roads, community centers, bridges, parks, and forest lands; and

Whereas, the disparate impact of Hurricane Katrina's devastation on people of color, low-income, and working class families gives dramatic evidence of the continuing inequities of race and economic status as shown through the failure to maintain critical infrastructure needs prior to Katrina, the evacuation process, and the number of deaths, injuries and displacements; and

Whereas, the failure of the Bush administration and federal agencies to provide timely, effective and substantial aid continues to compound a national tragedy that has now become a national disgrace as exhibited by large areas of the Gulf Coast region remaining in need of reconstruction and the fact that over 100,000 Louisianans have applied for aid only 2,000 people have received grants; now therefore be it

Resolved, that the California Democratic Party calls upon the Bush administration and Congress to urgently prioritize the rebuilding of homes, schools, hospitals, transportation infrastructure, community resources; and the provision of immediate economic assistance to present and displaced Gulf Coast residents; and be it further

Resolved, that the California Democratic Party urges the national Democratic Party and our congressional leaders to introduce and fight for 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 lives.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

'Forgotten' in Louisiana

'Forgotten' in Louisiana

By Linda GoldstonMercury News Article Launched: 03/17/2007 01:38:50 AM PDT

Lilly Perez and Victoria Chavez, both members of the San Jose Chapter... (Thu Hoang Ly/Mercury News)

Julian Rosenberg was startled to see so few people in New Orleans. Pamela Germany wondered where all of the children were in that city's Ninth Ward. Danny Boyd said he hadn't realized what hope was until he saw so many people without it.

A group of San Jose State University students shared their reactions to a January visit to the Gulf Coast at a public hearing in San Jose on Friday - asking California legislators to help support their call to make sure much more is done for the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged region.

"All of the people we spoke with said the country has forgotten them and cast them aside," said Victoria Chavez, a sophomore, who is part of the San Jose State chapter of the Gulf Coast Public Works Project and plans to return to New Orleans at the end of May.

The project originated at San Jose State, quickly grew to include chapters at 14 other universities and now is backed by 19 schools, including Stanford, University of California-Berkeley and New York University.

Their goal is to convince Congress to pass a public works law that would provide jobs for 100,000 residents in Louisiana and Mississippi so residents there can help rebuild the area themselves - and get paid what residents call "a living wage" of $15 an hour.

"When people say it's not possible, I'd like to turn to Iraq," said Scott Myers-Lipton, associate professor of sociology at San Jose State who has helped shape the project and traveled to New Orleans with the students.

"The U.S. has 40,000 public works jobs for the citizens of Iraq," and there is no reason it can't provide 100,000 civic works jobs for its own people, he said.

Take Action: Tell Congress if we can do it for Irag, we can do it for the Gulf Coast!

Assemblywoman Sally J. Lieber, D-Mountain View, co-sponsored the hearing at San Jose's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library and served as moderator.

The students and Myers-Lipton said they want state legislators to pass a resolution in support of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, which would help put pressure on Congress to pass the bill. Lieber said the response from Silicon Valley legislators has been very favorable.

"I think we will have our whole legislative delegation wanting to be on the resolution that deals with this," she said. "I think it's pretty significant the federal government has abandoned urban policy, state government abandoned urban policy, but the students are taking this on."

Lipton-Myers and Lieber said the issue is important to California because of the known threat of another major earthquake here.

"California could well be in the same position ourselves," Lieber said. "If a major earthquake in the Bay Area impacted the Hetch Hetchy water system, we could be without water for up to 60 days or more."

The students said it was hard to believe that so many people in the New Orleans area are still without water and some without housing.

"I can't believe they've been waiting this long," said Tasha Easton, a senior in sociology and member of the project. "They're fellow Americans and they haven't seen the funding they've been promised."

January's trip to New Orleans, called "Louisiana Winter," was inspired by Mississippi Summer, the 1964 voter registration drive that brought hundreds of students from colleges around the country to Mississippi. They conducted town meetings to ask residents what needed to be done.

Members of the project hope to have 100,000 people sign a petition calling on Congress to create legislation that would authorize the 100,000 jobs to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

"There's been such a decrease in student activism," Chavez said. "This is a re-emergence. There are a lot of things to be corrected."

For more information, the project has a Web site: www.solvingpoverty.com.

Gulf Coast Civic Works Contact: Scott Myers-Lipton, 510-508-5382

Take Action: Tell Congress if we can do it for Irag, we can do it for the Gulf Coast!
Download the pdf [click here] ; On-line link [click here]

Sunday, March 11, 2007


March 8, 2007
For More Information, Contact :Harry Adams at (408) 277-2003


(Sacramento, CA) – Assemblywoman Sally J. Lieber (D-San Jose) today announced that she is convening a 'Public Hearing on Post-Katrina Conditions'. The other sponsors of the hearing are the San Jose State University Chapter of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project and San José State Sociology Department, Community Change Concentration.

Other co-sponsors include State Senator Ellen Corbett, Assemblymember John Laird, Assemblymember Ira Ruskin and Community Homeless Alliance Ministry.

The hearing will be held on: Friday, March 16, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 229150 E. San Fernando Street, San Jose

The purpose of the event is to hear from San José State students and faculty who traveled to the Gulf Coast region in January to speak with residents about post-Katrina recovery efforts.

Twenty-five SJSU students joined over 100 other students from 15 colleges and universities as part of "Louisiana Winter", a component of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project. The Project was initiated by Professor Scott Myers- Lipton and SJSU students to raise awareness of the continuing crisis and neglect in the region.

Professor Myers-Lipton notes that, "We were angered about what we saw and heard in Louisiana and Mississippi. The lack of rebuilding was stunning. We're calling for federal legislation, the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, to create 100,000 jobs for residents to rebuild their lives and communities."

Assemblywoman Lieber, Speaker Pro Tempore of the California State Assembly, is sponsoring the hearing because, "We need to hear and learn from the experiences of the Gulf Coast residents. I'm proud and inspired by the commitment of the San José State students. They are serving as the voices of the residents and consciences of our nation The Katrina tragedy sounds a cautionary note for the ability of all levels of government to respond in times of great emergency."

The Louisiana Winter visit and this hearing are only two aspects of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project campaign. The San José State students are sponsoring a "National Post-Katrina College Summit" the week of April 9-14. Summits are being held on college campuses throughout the country.

Tasha Easton, a SJSU student organizer, recently stated, "We are the richest nation in the world; yet we continue to have Americans from the Gulf Coast deprived of shelter, employment, and the faith of their government. The Post-Katrina College Summit is part of our campaign to change this." ###

Friday, March 09, 2007

Volunteers toil, but Gulf still a mess

Strong mention for the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project by BARBARA SHELLY, a columnist at the Kansas City Star.

Everyone is doing amazing work on this project which will help Gulf Coast residents…keep up your efforts – you capture the imagination of the nation. Pass it along. Call your Congress person. Plan your College Summits. Gather your Petitions. You are poised to change the nation.

Download the pdf [click here] or visit the web version [click here] Here's a quote:

It’s no wonder Bush got an earful when he visited New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss., last week. People want help with affordable housing and access to medical services. And they want jobs.

A call is building among students, clergy, civil-rights leaders and others in the Gulf and around the country for an effort that’s being called the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project. It proposes a public-private partnership that would hire 100,000 Gulf residents at decent wages to build homes and facilities needed for vital services.

The concept’s similarities to the Works Projects Administration, which put people back to work during the Great Depression, make it anathema to the stated philosophy of the Bush administration, which is to shrink the role of government while encouraging free-market forces and the volunteer sector.

But 18 months into a disaster of enormous magnitude, the limits on the market’s effectiveness and volunteer capacity are painfully apparent.

Only the federal government is big enough to step in and get the job done. It would restore a lot of people’s faith in their nation to see it take that step.

Amen Sister.

Posted by Diane ML

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Southern Studies' A New Agenda for the Gulf Report

Chris Kromm of Southern Studies is getting nice coverage of the must read "A New Agenda for the Gulf Report". They lend support to the idea of 100,000 Gulf Coast Civic Works jobs.

Let's hope Congress is listening.

A blog everyone should read: Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch http://www.southernstudies.org/gulfwatch/

"This week marks the 18-month anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The Gulf Coast is still in crisis -- tens of thousands of people are still displaced, the region's recovery stalled due to a lack of housing, jobs, schools and other basic needs.

...Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch has released A New Agenda for the Gulf, a 14 page report documenting the scope of the crisis in the Gulf. The report also reveals that -- while state and local leadership is important -- many of the most impressing issues go straight to Washington, and that federal action is needed to jump-start the recovery.

The report gives over 30 action steps Congress and the President can take now to help turn things around. Read the full report (pdf)."

And in the on-line edition of The Nation "Attaching accountability standards to federal subsidies--as well as launching a Gulf Civic Works Program to hire 100000 displaced people to rebuild their communities"

Friday, March 02, 2007

Human Rights for Displaced Iraqis But Not Displaced Americans?

By Guest Blogger: Jeffrey Buchanan,
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights

Disaster struck displacing more than a million people from their communities in the Gulf. Thanks to years of international experience in helping Internally Displaced Persons and applying international standards in these kinds of disasters, the United States federal government was able to create programs to help mitigate the horrors of such tragedy for displaced victims and eventually help people to realize their human rights to return and participate in rebuilding their neighborhoods. Helping to overcome the economic and social aspect of the disaster, the United States created tens of thousands of jobs for the survivors of this misfortune to gain skills and an income while helping to rebuild their community through sustainable and inclusive public works programs that not only hoped to rebuild but to heal communities by acknowledging and tried to overcome historic discrimination.

Sound like a fairy tale? Well this storyline is actually taking place in the Persian Gulf where US international aid projects are helping vulnerable internally displaced Iraqi populations in the aftermath of the United States' invasion.

Apparently the Bush administration believes the more than a million people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are not privileged to the same comprehensive rights-based approaches the United States applies to disasters relief and human rights abroad.

Today over 250,000 from New Orleans alone are still displaced across the country one and a half years after the levees broke.

Community leaders throughout the Gulf Coast have embraced the belief that all the storm's survivors have a right to return to their neighborhoods and to participate in the rebuilding process. Though the idea is supported by international human right norms, the lack of comprehensive government assistance and additional hurdles placed by public officials throughout the rebuilding process has impeded displaced people from realizing their rights and restore their communities.

Read this latest assessment<http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Feb07/Quigley26.htm> by New Orleans human rights lawyer, and Gulf Coast Civic Works Project endorser, William Quigley on what has stopped people from returning to the Gulf Coast.

The right to return and need to involve the storm's displaced survivors in the rebuilding process is defined by the United Nation's Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement<http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/7/b/principles.htm> . It is the internationally approved framework for providing humanitarian aid and protecting human rights before, during and after populations are displaced by natural or man made disaster. Internally Displaced Persons include, "persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes ...to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border." This definition includes those displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Under the Principles, the final responsibility for the human rights of displaced people in the United States or any country for that matter falls to the federal government. In addition to immediate humanitarian needs, the Guiding Principles delve into issues of human rights with longer term repercussions like discrimination, voting rights and participation in decisions about rebuilding. Most importantly to government policy in the Gulf Coast today, during the post-displacement period the Principles state that countries must prevent people from being displaced longer than necessary by creating economic and social conditions that allow the displaced to be able to voluntarily return.

The United States has given non-binding backing to the Principles in a number of UN votes and the U.S. Agency for International Development endorses <http://www.usaid.gov/policy/ads/200/200mbc.pdf> the Principles and considers as part of its mission encouraging other nations to follow its framework to help their own displaced populations.

Oddly, Bush administration officials in the summer of 2006 argued before the U.N. Human Rights Committee that they did not believe Americans displaced by Katrina, whom they evasively re-brand as "evacuees,"deserve the rights<http://geneva.usmission.gov/Press2006/0718iccprResponse.html> extended under the Guiding Principles. Understanding this kind of mindset, it should be no surprise that our federal recovery programs to date have failed to actually address displaced people's right to return and rebuild their lives. Legal scholars with the Institute of Southern Studies have found the federal government in violation of 16 of 30Principles< http://www.reconstructionwatch.org/images/One_Year_After.pdf> .

Strangely the United States does a much better job of helping people displaced by disasters in other countries.

Through the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, USAID uses U.S.tax dollars to fund programs implementing the Guiding Principles to help Iraq live up to its human rights obligation. In addition to providing immediate humanitarian relief to these vulnerable people, USAID develops programs to help Iraqis return when possible and rebuild their lives and communities. In order to help families rebound and to empower damaged communities so more displaced people can return, USAID has created numerous public works programs<http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/accomplishments/ofda.html> giving jobs to displaced people to allow those affected by the displacement to both rebuild their own lives and communities.

In just one of these projects forty thousand displaced Iraqis have found work and training rebuilding devastating infrastructure, schools, housing and other needs in Ta'mim, Ninawa, Dahuk, and Karbala' governorates. USAID funds similar projects in Colombia and post-tsunami Sri Lanka among other places creating jobs and helping victims play a central role in recovering.

If we believe in following these kinds of ideas in programs to rebuild in Iraq and help Iraqi's return why can't we create a Gulf Coast Civic Works project to rebuild and empower our own displaced populations? While those displaced in Iraq surely face numerous hardships and require assistance, it is sheer tragedy and gross hypocrisy to ignore the human rights of Katrina's survivors. Human rights leadership must begin at home. There is still hope that the new Congress will work with President Bush to adopt a Gulf Coast Civic Works plan to empower the displaced to return and participate in rebuilding their lives, their communities and the entire Gulf Coast.

TAKE ACTION TODAY [click here] http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/GCCivicWorks/campaign/?campaign_KEY=6986

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Missouri Legislators Call for Gulf Coast Civic Works Project As President Bush Tours Katrina Recovery Effort in New Orleans

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- As President George W. Bush tours New Orleans to observe the recovery effort from Hurricane Katrina, Missouri House members called for a hearing on House Concurrent Resolution 34 to establish a Gulf Coast Civic Works Project. Stating that “the federal government’s response to this unprecedented disaster has been ineffective and weak” and “emphasizes disparities of race and income,” the resolution calls for hiring 100,000 Gulf Coast residents to rebuild their homes and their lives.

Nineteen months after Hurricane Katrina hit, more than 200,000 Gulf Coast residents are still living in FEMA trailers. People wait desperately for their homes, schools, and hospitals to be rebuilt. Unfortunately, the pace of recovery has been painfully slow. In Louisiana, 101,000 residents have applied for assistance to rebuild their homes, but only a few hundred have received checks.

Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford, D-St. Louis and lead sponsor of HCR 34, said she and several House colleagues are frustrated and pained by the ongoing suffering of Katrina survivors. “Our nation has given more attention and funding to rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq than helping our neighbors on the Gulf Coast,” Oxford said. “We believe a civic works project offers a viable way for Gulf Coast residents to participate in securing the future of their communities.”

Scott Myers-Lipton, professor of Sociology at San José State University, and one of the early proponents of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project concept, said "the Gulf Coast is in crisis.”

“There is an urgent need to jump-start the rebuilding process,” Myers-Lipton said. “What is needed is a rebuilding surge in New Orleans and in southern Mississippi."

Myers-Lipton said he hopes other state legislatures will join Missouri in calling for the creation of a Gulf Coast Civic Works Project. The idea already has some state and national support. Sally Lieber, the Speaker Pro Tempore of the California State Assembly, is considering similar legislation. Congressman Bennie Thompson, in one of his first speeches as chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, highlighted that a civic works project to rebuild the Gulf is one of his three major goals for the committee.

Missouri representatives say their proposal is not a Republican or Democratic solution, but an American one. Oxford said, “Indeed my own parents taught me that their lives were saved during the Depression by FDR’s Works Project Administration. Surely our Gulf Coast neighbors deserve a similar opportunity to find employment while rebuilding the local infrastructure.”

For Immediate Release: March 1, 2007 [click here for pdf]
For more information contact:
Jeanette Mott Oxford at (314) 775-8940; Scott Myers-Lipton at (510) 508-5382