Wednesday, September 12, 2007

News of victory in the California Assembly

Here are two stories about our victory in the California Assembly yesterday:

From the Sparten Daily [click here]
A movement that started at San Jose State University to aid Hurricane Katrina victims and rebuild the Gulf Coast region has gained recognition this week at the California State Assembly in the form of a resolution put forth by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber.

Assembly Joint Resolution 22, a step toward creating 100,000 jobs in the Gulf Coast, passed Monday in the Assembly on a 44-23 vote.

The resolution is part of a plan created by the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project to generate employment in the Gulf Coast while simultaneously repairing damage done by Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent breach of levees in New Orleans in 2005.

The project was created in November 2005 by Scott Myers-Lipton, a SJSU associate professor, and his sociology students.

Rochelle Jackson-Smarr, a senior English major that traveled to New Orleans last winter with the project, said she was "devastated, heartbroken, to see the poverty in New Orleans," and that the federal government is "not really helping."

"It's a shame that these people can't go home, can't rebuild," she said.

Victoria Chavez, another student member of the project, spoke about the resolution at a rally on Aug. 29 in remembrance of the second anniversary of Katrina.

"The idea is simple: create 100,000 jobs for local residents to rebuild their homes and local communities while being paid a living wage," she said. "It really can't get much simpler than that."

An analysis of the resolution from the Assembly floor states that, "The project would be similar to efforts undertaken by the federal government during last century's Great Depression. During that time of crisis, the federal government established the Works Progress Administration, which created 800,000 jobs in two weeks, and four million jobs in two months."

Some of the projects the Works Progress Administration is responsible for are the San Jose Municipal Stadium, the San Jose Civic Auditorium, and SJSU's Spartan Stadium, said Gulf Coast Civic Works Project founder Myers-Lipton. Also, according to the resolution analysis, the WPA built the Golden Gate Bridge.

The text of the resolution states that, "The neglect of the Gulf Coast region after the impact of Hurricane Katrina is a tragedy that requires the attention of every American, regardless of party affiliation or state of residence."

"This resolution is something that's really needed," Lieber said. "So little has been rebuilt in the Gulf Coast."

The resolution acknowledges that approximately 101,000 Louisianans have applied for aid to rebuild their homes, but only several thousand people have received grant assistance.

The resolution also states that "the legislature supports the passage of federal legislation based on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project."

Now that the resolution has passed in the Assembly, it will move on to the state Senate, where a committee will hear it, after which it will go to the Senate floor for another vote.

The ultimate goal of the resolution, said Lieber, is to call on Congress to enact the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project.

And from Southern Studies, Chris Kromm writes [click here]:

California House shows how we can help the Gulf Coast
The two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina has passed -- and people around the country saw that the people of the Gulf Coast are still in deep crisis. People ask me: what can we do now?

In our recent report Blueprint for Gulf Renewal, we outline concrete steps our national leaders can take to get the Gulf Coast back on its feet and ensure justice for all Gulf residents, not just special interests.

And yesterday, the California state house showed how people across the country can help push a new agenda for the Gulf. After months of mobilizing by students and other activists, the state assembly voted to support passage of a Gulf Coast Civic Works Project -- a visionary plan to create 100,000 good-paying jobs to rebuild the region (and one of the lead recommendations of our report)....

This fits in with another idea gaining political steam -- the idea of expanding national service, as reported in a recent cover story in Time. President Clinton pushed the idea through his AmeriCorps program, which has logged some 3 million hours of work time in the Gulf Coast.

Expanding service opportunities like this -- especially for youth -- would be a great complement to a full-fledged jobs program like Gulf Civic Works, which would put people to work rebuilding their own communities.


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