Is the 2016 Washington State Legislature the Most Corrupt Legislature in History?

When one uses the term “corruption” one is likely to think of big states like Texas or Florida or Illinois with all of their bribery and kickback schemes. In this article, we will provide a few examples of why the Washington state legislature may be not only one of the most corrupt legislatures in the nation – but one of the most corrupt legislatures in the history of our nation.

Exhibit #1: The only state legislature in history to repeatedly ignore a Contempt Citation from their State Supreme Court
Both New Jersey and Arizona Supreme Courts found their legislatures had failed to comply with their state constitutions to fund public schools. In both cases, the legislatures acted by actually increasing funding for schools. However, the Washington state legislature has basically told our Washington Supreme Court to “shove it.”

Here are the facts. In September, 2014, for the first time in the history of Washington state, the Washington State Supreme Court held the Washington State legislature in “contempt of court” for failing to comply with our State Constitutional Paramount Duty” to fully fund our public schools. The 2015 legislature responded by adding back nearly one billion dollars in funding they had cut a couple of years earlier. The legislature had the audacity to call restoring these funds an “increase” in school funding. In August, 2015, our Supreme Court was not amused by this false claim and began “fining” the State legislature for failing to fund our public schools. However, the 2016 Washington State legislature has not even been willing to discuss funding public schools. Instead, they have once again decided to kick the can down the road by forming a committee to study the issue – making this the seventh Education Funding committee in the past 20 years! This alone ought to be enough to call the Washington State legislature the most corrupt legislature in history. But there is more. Sadly, there is much more.

Exhibit #2: Despite having one of the strongest economies in the nation, Washington State has among the lowest school funding and highest class sizes in the nation.
In January 2016, Business Insider rated Washington state as having the strongest economy in the nation.
http://www.businessinsider.com/state-economy-ranking-q4-2015-2016-1

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This was mainly because Washington state has a very high per capita income. What the article failed to mention is that most of the income in Washington state goes to a few billionaires. The article also failed to mention that Washington state has among the lowest school funding and highest class sizes in the nation. We will get to the reasons behind this lack of school funding in the next three Exhibits confirming the corruption in Olympia.

Exhibit #3: Washington state has the most unfair state tax system in the nation
A 2015 national study found that while the poor and middle class in Washington state pay on average 12% of more in state taxes, billionaires in Washington state pay only 2% in state taxes. The richer you are in Washington State, the less you pay in taxes:

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http://www.itep.org/whopays/states/washington.php

Exhibit #4: Some claim that the Boeing $9 billion tax break is the largest tax give away in the history of the planet.

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Ironically, despite being given $9 billion in no strings attached payoffs, Boeing has continued to ship thousands of jobs out of Washington state.

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Exhibit #5: The hidden Microsoft Tax Break is actually bigger than the Boeing Tax break
Time for a quiz question: Where is Microsoft located? Raise your hand if you think they are located in Redmond Washington. Despite making more than $20 billion per year in profits, Microsoft has avoided paying Washington state taxes by claiming that they are located in Reno Nevada.

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Washington state has a one percent Business and Occupation tax on gross receipts that Microsoft is dodging. One percent of $100 billion in gross sales is $1 billion per year. Multiple this times the past 10 years and Microsoft owes the children of Washington state at least $10 billion in back taxes. Like Boeing, Microsoft has been laying off people instead of hiring them. So this is a one two punch against both our schools and our economy.

Exhibit #6: Despite giving away billions of dollars every year to billionaires and wealthy multinational corporations, the Washington State legislature cannot seem to find any money to fund our public schools.
It would take more than $3 billion per year in additional funding just to restore school funding and class sizes in Washington state to the national average. This is why the Supreme Court is fining the state legislature. But despite this huge shortfall, and the court order, the 2016 Washington state legislature is not even holding hearings on funding our public schools. Instead, only one bill has been submitted in the Washington state legislature in the past two years that would actually provide the billions of dollars needed to fully fund our public schools. That bill was Senate Bill 6093 by Senators Chase and McAuliffe which would raise about $4 billion per year by repealing a tax break for billionaires. Olympia is so corrupt that this bill has not even gotten a hearing.

Exhibit #7: Washington State legislature ignores a $22 billion school construction backlog
Washington state has one of the highest percentages of “unhoused students” in the nation with more than 10% of all Washington students (more than 100,000 students) forced to spend their school days in unhealthy particle board boxes. Also, over half of all schools in Washington state are more than 50 years old and do not meet health standards or earthquake standards. In the event of a major earthquake, as many as 500,000 students could be killed or injured. Yet, unlike Oregon and British Columbia – which have started to address this problem, the Washington state legislature has refused to do anything to address the school construction backlog. Instead, the legislature has shifted nearly the entire burden for building schools onto the backs of local homeowners through sky high local property taxes.

Exhibit #8: The Washington State legislature has actually passed bills to increase child homelessness and child poverty.
On February 2 2016, Washington State OSPI announced that the number of homeless students in Washington state continues to rise at a rate of 20% per year. For the 2014-2015 school year, more than 35,000 Washington state students did not have a permanent place to sleep at night.

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Continuing this 20% rise for the current school year means that the number of homeless students has doubled from about 20,000 to about 40,000 in just 8 short years. Only half of these homeless students manage to graduate from high school. Equally appalling is the dramatic rise in the percentage of students living at or near the poverty level in Washington State. Just 16 years ago, only 30% of Washington students lived near poverty. Today, nearly half of all Washington students live near poverty. This is an increase of 200,000 students living near poverty in our state in just the past 16 years.

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Part of the problem of child poverty and homelessness is that their parents do not have jobs (and the legislature has done nothing to create jobs). But the other part of the problem is that the Washington legislature has actually gutted programs designed to train parents so that they can go out and get a good paying job.

Exhibit #9 Washington state legislature guts Working Connections Program
In 2011, while the Washington legislature was approving massive tax breaks for billionaires, Microsoft and Boeing, they were also gutting the Working Connections program. This program provided low income children with child care and a place to live while their parents learned job training skills. The legislature gutted $100 million from this program resulting in about 30,000 families being tossed out onto the streets. Tens of thousands of children lost their only source of income – all so that billionaires could buy bigger boats.

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Exhibit #10: Washington State Legislature Refuses to Allow Struggling Low Income Students to have access to a Fair High School Equivalency Test
In January 2014, a for profit corporation called Pearson took over the GED High School Equivalency test and made it so hard that not even college professors or members of our state legislature could pass it. This resulted in the number of students receiving a GED in Washington state falling from a previous average of more than 13,000 graduates per year to less than 3,000 graduates per year.

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Because a High School Equivalency Certificate is needed to get a good paying job or go to college, the lack of a fair GED test has destroyed the lives of more than 10,000 students per year or about 200 students per week ever since January 2014. But despite this devastating harm to low income young adults, our State legislature has refused to allow students in our state to have access to either of two fairer options – the HiSET and TASC. Meanwhile 27 other less corrupt states have acted or are in the process of acting to allow their struggling low income students access to a fairer test (see map).

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Ironically, failing to offer struggling low income students a fair high school equivalency test will ultimately cost our state hundreds of millions of additional dollars in prison costs and the lack of a high school equivalency certificate increases the chances of a person committing a major crime by about 10 percent. So depriving 10,000 students per year of a High School Equivalency certificate will eventually increase our prison population by about 1,000 inmates per year.

Conclusion… Is the 2016 Washington State Legislature the most corrupt legislature ever?
If forcing one million students to attend over-crowded, unsafe and unhealthy classrooms just so a few billionaires can get bigger tax breaks is not a sign of extreme corruption, then I do not know what is.

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The only good news in this report is that 2016 is an election year. I am hoping some parents and teachers will finally say “enough is enough” to the corrupt clowns in Olympia and run for office to replace all of them. As always, I look forward to your questions and comments.

SAFE actions and events

SAFE
6:30PM, Tuesday April 22nd – SAFE’s weekly meeting. Food will be served.

Where: The SAFE House, Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (corner of Graham St), Seattle WA 98108 map

 

4:30PM-6PM, Friday April 18th – Protest Bank of America in Columbia City.

This will be SAFE’s fifteenth action at this location and this week will be a vigil and picket. Ismael has been fighting for years to save his home from this giant toxic bank and SAFE is standing with him. Rosie was one of households included in this campaign but recently SAFE received word that Rosie’s mediation resulted in BofA granting Rosie a three month trial modification! With Ismael’s house still on the line, please join us and we can win victory for Ismael too. With so many bank evictions happening, SAFE is calling for a moratorium on bank evictions in King County and SAFE Organizer Josh did a radio interview with Mike McCormick on this topic. Go here to listen.

Where: Meet up outside the Library on Rainier Ave so we can proceed together to BofA,  4825 Rainier Ave S, Seattle WA 98118  map

 

2PM-4PM, Saturday April 19th – Canvassing Jo-Ann’s neighborhood

SAFE members will meet up at Jo-Ann’s house before canvassing her neighbors to let them know about her fight. We want to inform as many people in the community as possible so they can support Jo-Ann and SAFE if it comes to an eviction blockade. The canvassing SAFE does is one of the most important parts of our struggle against the big banks so join SAFE organizers Bryce and Josh in this most vital outreach to build the movement. We need you! Email Bryce or Josh to let them know you’re coming.

Where: Jo-Ann’s house, 10426 63rd Ave S, Seattle WA. map

 

OTHER ACTIONS and EVENTS:

 

10AM-9PM, Saturday April 26th – 15Now Conference

Our allies at 15Now are bringing all their supporters together to launch the $15 an hour ballot initiative. Consider attending to discuss the campaign, get trained up for the actions, and organize. Let’s make the $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle a reality! Go here for their website.

Where: Franklin High School, 3013 S Mt Baker Blvd, Seattle WA 98144, next to the Mount Baker light rail station. map

 

11PM-1PM, Sunday April 27th – Tenant’s Union March

Our allies at the Lockhave Tenant’s Union are mobilizing to call on Landlord and Mogul developer John Goodman to not displace his tenants, and to stop ruining the communities of Ballard, Ravenna, and Seattle! There will be a March from Ballard Commons that will end with a rally at 12:30 at “Golden Tides”, Goodmans personal marina and residence, 6017 Seaview Ave NW. Go here for more information and to RSVP.

Where: Meet-up at Ballard Commons Park, corner of 22nd, and 57th to march and join the rally. map The rally itself will be at 6017 Seaview Ave NW, Seattle WA. map

 

1:45PM-5PM, Sunday April 27th – Backbone Anti-Oppression Workshop

SAFE members have been invited to attend Backbone’s workshop with trainers from The Canopy Collective (an eco-feminist cooperative) to learn how to unite and fight back against all the kinds of oppression. The workshop will feature ways in which we can work together to build our community’s capacity for positive change. Please attend to learn more about how to be effective in the battle for social justice. Go here to register, look for the “2 hour” sections.

Where: Pigott Auditorium, Seattle University, Seattle WA. map

 

OUR RECENT EVENTS:

 

SAFE members attended the meeting in the Seattle City Council Chambers a couple of weeks ago to demand a moratorium on bank evictions. SAFE members came out strong and we dominated the tone of the meeting, totally discrediting the inaccurate foreclosure report being presented. Go here to watch us in action and go here for a press release about the meeting.

 

Last Wednesday the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) hosted the Hong Kong Dock Workers and SAFE Organizers were invited to attend the meeting. It was an inspiring evening where two leaders of the Hong Kong Dock Workers gave an in-depth discussion of their unprecedented Strike to improve working conditions – which included 24-hour shifts, no opportunity to eat or go to the bathroom, incredibly low wages, and a polluted working environment. SAFE members met with our brothers and sisters across the pacific who are so heroic in their efforts for justice and so generous in their outlook. Go here for ILWU’s latest article on the Hong Kong Dock Workers.

 

SAFE’s fourteenth picket of BofA in Columbia City for Ismael last Friday was a powerful event that had a lot of local support. Previously SAFE staged a demand delivery for Ismael at BofA and managed to bring the bank to a standstill where even the security guard wouldn’t move. Ismael has now received a letter from the bank saying that they have received his paperwork. Please join us this Friday for an action outside BofA in ColumbiaCity to save Ismael’s home.

 

This past Saturday, SAFE completed its’ work party at Bethany UCC under Ismael’s sterling leadership. The Bethany grounds look great and it’s all thanks to Ismael and the volunteers who showed up both Saturdays and put in hours of work to help both SAFE and Bethany church.

 

Last but not least, SAFE is declaring VICTORY!!! We’ve been here for two years now, and we want to celebrate in style on our birthday on May 1st by taking part in the May Day parade. Then, as Jane has been granted a permanent loan modification for her house (in another fantastic victory!), she wishes to have a celebration at China Harbor for all of SAFE’s members on the evening of May 1st. Please RSVP to Lyn so we can anticipate our numbers and book appropriately. More details to come…

 

DONATE

 

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS  

You can reach us at  info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125.

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SAFE: Join the Resistance

SAFE

Join the Resistance

By Joshua Farris

The system is so crazy that people who want to pay to stay in their homes are displaced by banks that took billions in bail-outs from the tax payers. Aren’t people too big to fail? Forget about the big question of when our bail-out is coming. Just leave us in peace and let us pay to stay in our homes. No, won’t even do that… Well, don’t move-out!

This is the mad nightmare which people fighting the banks are dealing. People who work hard and are vital to their communities cannot even give money to the banks to live in their homes. The strange reality of this hit me like a ton of sheetrock when I, and other people, helped Jeremy reclaim his property that Wells Fargo’s lawyers were holding hostage for weeks after their second phony eviction. SAFE found Jeremy’s South Park home unsafe after Jeremy’s first phony eviction and we moved him back in.

Then the Seattle Police Department was brought in to evict Jeremy a second time. The cops’ idea is that there was a court order and the eviction had already been carried out (period). The Sheriff’s job is done. Jeremy’s home now belongs to some bank and the bank leaves the house to sit, rot, blight, and possibly be burned down by junkies (as is their right). What a great solution! We with SAFE just thought it would be nice if the bank would take Jeremy’s generous offers to pay to stay in his home, but nope—the bank’s solution for Jeremy’s household, his block, and neighborhood is better? I don’t think so.

Jeremy could always sue the banksters later for their fraud and theft of his home, but for now, he will have to reside somewhere else while his home falls apart and becomes an eyesore-haven for rodents and decay. How is this fair to South Park, Seattle, or any of the citizens in the country being displaced? We in this city alone lose about 250 households to the foreclosure grift every month. Imagine how big this would be in the news if 250 houses in Seattle burned down every month! It would be international news and everyone would be asking what sort of crazy people would allow 250 homes to burn down every month in our city.

Not all houses lost to foreclosure are left empty, but it is a safe estimate that there are over 3000 empty, bank-owned houses just sitting here in Seattle (many that might as well have burned down). There are now just a few hundred less homeless people sleeping in the streets of the city every night than there are vacant houses. We are doing a terrible job of allocating resources if houses were actually built for people to live in them.

What will happen to Jeremy’s home as it sits vacant and swallowed up by blackberry bushes, leaks, critters, and neglect? Jeremy’s neighbor said she would let SAFE post a large billboard in her front yard that states “If you buy this (Jeremy’s) land you’ve bought a protest”. Jeremy will continue to demand his home back. The bank offered him ten thousand dollars to walk away. He refused it. This is not about his house and money. This is about his home, the ten million households in the US already lost to foreclosure, and the next ten million homes that are to be taken by Wall Street’s financial terrorists. For Jeremy Griffin, this is about building a movement.
Moving Forward – Standing Beyond Eviction

The bank’s lawyers at the RCO/NTS – foreclosure mill in Bellevue are now paying for a wireless surveillance system to monitor Jeremy’s home at all times to prevent him from living in it. They further paid workers to barricade his home from the inside-out. They even stole a drill motor and some of his drill bits to do this. They used pieces of his bed frame to block doors and further sealed doors by sinking four-inch screws into the door frames. Who in their right mind would want to live here now? Jeremy, for one, still would – even though he’s pretty upset about all the damage the goons did to his house.

This financial system’s reign of terror would be over tomorrow if only a slightly larger portion of the population followed the lead of good people like Jeremy and others across the nation standing for justice and a sane future for us all. The simple truth is that we all do better when we all do better. Thanks, to brave people such as Jeremy, all the organizations of people working to build a more just world for all, and Nickelsville—the ecovillage of houseless people in Seattle suffering displacement tonight. We win when we fight back because we’re building a movement and beating the most powerful corporations on the planet. So don’t move-out – Join the Resistance!
Jeremy’s fight and others’ continues as SAFE grows and now demands the City government view our fights with the banks as civil land disputes. The SPD should not be involved and used to throw people out of their homes. Do they represent the people or the banks?

WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED

UPCOMING EVENTS –
Friday, Sept. 6
th Lobbying Training
– Nancy Amidei is offering training to anyone interested in learning how to lobby. Jeremy Griffin speaks very highly of her. The free training will at 6:30 PM at the SAFE House. Donations are accepted.
Sept. 11th – 2:00 PM City Council committee on housing second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.  Come and sign up for public comment. Bottomliner contact – Sonia.

Sept. 11th – 9am to 5pm.  In concert with SEASOL –  Phone and Email Blast on Cornell and Associates Property Manger Susana Manio. Tenants at the Sterling Manor just off Aurora Ave have been living in horrible conditions. Leaks are so bad ceilings have collapsed, bedbugs infect common spaces like laundry rooms, and a pervasive mold problem has lead to respiratory problems for tenants and their children. Despite repeated requests to make necessary repairs, management has ignored all efforts to get something done, responding to each request with “ok, thanks.” Last month tenants organized a committee to address some of their concerns, primarily the mold, and delivered a letter with 25 Seasol members at their offices in Eastlake.  Cornell and Associates quickly moved to retaliate against the tenants, and are now threatening two with beginning an eviction process.  This is illegal retaliation. Please see our website for further details.

Sept. 29th-  Sustainable Ballard –  People with SAFE will be tabling from 11 AM – 7 PM, so stop by and see us!  More info at – http://www.sustainableballard.org/festival/

THIS PAST WEEK –
Aug. 29th- Action- SAFE member Jeremy Griffin was given 4 hours to remove his possessions from 725 S. Henderson St  Seattle, WA 98108 – Protect and Serve? Hah! – see this week’s op-ed for the full story – ironically, even with the new high tech force fields in place, there is still nary a NO TRESPASSING sign….check out all the details below –
Aug. 30th- Action- Alton’s auction was postponed and SAFE did a demand delivery for his household at the downtown location of Chase bank. Eight people were present and met up at the WF downtown locale giving the ever present Wells Fargo Tower security guards a surprise. The troupe proceeded to Chase and read aloud with great passion the simple demands the greedy bankers refuse to hear.
Aug. 31st- Sonia has been threatened, the city of Renton will condemn her home if she doesn’t pay her water bill. A SAFE member was on hand to sign for the certified letter from Greg Zimmerman. Further actions are being planned.
Sept. 1st- OutreachNickelsville’s move was chaotic, it will be very expensive as they are now in three locations. Help and donations still very much needed. Scott Morrow is coordinating. His number is 206-450-9136.
Sept. 2nd Outreach– Labor Day Celebration – Olu and family, Kraig, Josh, and Lyn tabled the event. There were many heavy hitters present. “I talked with the Sheriff and organizers from the Labor Council and other organizations. Excellent outreach,” Josh reports. “Mike Andrews said he would schedule a time for SAFE to present it’s case to the County Labor Council.”
Sept. 3rd – Board Representation Election-  Olu Thomas – Approved, Unanimous; Sher Pedersen – Approved, Unanimous. Appoint Sher Pedersen as SAFE Treasurer and Primary Account Holder of SAFE’s Verity Credit Union account – Approved, Unanimous. Reaffirming Jeremy Griffin as Secondary Account Holder of SAFE’s Verity Credit Union account – Approved, 15 to 1.

Sept. 4th  Nick Licata Meeting –  He is a Seattle City Council Member very supportive of SAFE, he fought for Nicklesville, and he’s the Chair of the Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee. Kraig, Olu and Bruce attended.

 

OTHER UPCOMING & ONGOING ACTIONS –

Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (NE corner of Graham St).  All are welcome! This is where we bring new participants and have attorneys available from time to time. Find out what SAFE is about and what we are working on. Our objective is to inform and rally behind homeowners/bank tenants that are fighting the banks to stay in their homes. This is the first step to getting involved!

 

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS –
You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125.  Please visit our web site:  www.SAFEinSeattle.org .

SAFE's significant strides

In the past three months SAFE has made significant strides. We’ve engaged in our first eviction blockade. In early May the King County Sheriff posted an eviction notice at the home of SAFE member Jeremy Griffin, and dozens of supporters set up tents in Jeremy’s yard conducting a round-the-clock vigil. At a SAFE press conference in front of Jeremy’s home, with nearly all the local TV, radio, and print media present — except the Seattle Times, the “guardian” of our region’s Fourth Estate — we framed our protest and blockade as a struggle between the robber barons of finance capital and a hard working ironworker who is willing and able to pay to stay in his home. The media reported our story virtually without edit.

Fearing their reputations might be sullied, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, who’s names are on the suit to evict Jeremy, denied having anything to do with his foreclosure and eviction. Instead they blamed Wells Fargo. (What? no loyalty among thieves?) But Wells vehemently denied complicity. So as these three international global behemoths trembled, Jeremy returned to court and explained that the banks themselves have refused to admit ownership. The court agreed giving him a stay of eviction for five weeks. Then the newly elected King County Sheriff decided to weigh in. He told Jeremy if he had his druthers he would never evict him, yet he must follow court orders, but he offered to defer the eviction until he can set up his own press conference in front of Jeremy’s home. It’s now the Sheriff’s move. The spectacle unfolds.

While fighting to save Jeremy’s home, SAFE has launched a campaign against Routh Crabtree Olsen (RCO), the law firm representing the banks, and Northwest Trustee Services (NTS), the trustee handling over half of WA’s foreclosures. Of their many questionable practices, the most damning is that RCO lawyers own NTS, a company that by law is required to be a neutral party between the bank and the homeowner. Two local law firms have brought this conflict of interest to our attention and are working closely with SAFE. Further, within the last five months the courts have ruled in favor of plaintiffs who’ve sued law firms and trustees with similar ties. The implications are staggering. If the courts find RCO/NTS has a conflict of interest, it could put their auction sales — nationally, 48,000 per year — in legal jeopardy.

Tied into our attack on RCO/NTS is a SAFE letter writing blitz to all families whose homes are scheduled for sale by NTS. This is producing better homeowner responses than any previous mailing to date.

As a result of these very public campaigns, more area homeowners are hearing about SAFE. Our numbers are increasing. Our goal is to reach a critical mass, which we believe is about 100 families willing to fight to stay in their homes and to build a movement for social and economic justice.

– Stephen Price, SAFE Volunteer

Housing is a Human Right!

Upcoming Actions:

Fri., July 26: Demand Delivery to RE/MAX: Meet at 3:30 PM at the SAFE House. We will proceed from there.
Fri., July 26: Demand Delivery to Banks: To immediately follow the above RE/MAX action.
Wed., July 31: Bankbone’s Localize This! Summer Camp begins. See backbonecampaign.org for details.
Fri., Aug. 2: Auction Protest at Northwest Trustee Services: For Larry and Flor.
Jeremy’s Eviction Blockade: We are attempting to clarify the Sheriff’s position, but for now we are taking him at his word that he’ll give us reasonable notice before he evicts. As soon as we hear from him, we will text you via the Rapid Response Network (RRN). If you’d like to add your textable phone number to the RRN, please visit www.SAFEinSeattle.org, click on JOIN RRN, and sign up.
Lawsuits: SAFE is investigating filing lawsuits against Routh Crabtree Olsen and Northwest Trustee Services (see below). These lawsuits will cost $$$$$$$$$. If you would like to donate to SAFE, please visit our website, SAFEinSeattle.org. We love your support. Thank you!

This Past Week

July 19: SAFE members held a lively press conference in the private garage of Routh Crabtree Olsen (RCO), the banks lawyers, and Northwest Trustee Services (NTS), the foreclosing company that boasts having the greatest geographical reach of any trustee in the US. Together they comprise a vertically integrated foreclosure mill, owning a title company, property management company (to handle vacant property), and newspapers (to post their foreclosure ads). We held the press conference at their auction while it was underway. Two problems with RCO/NTS: (1) NTS is supposed to operate as a neutral party, dealing in good faith with both the homeowner and the bank, but RCO’s lawyers own NTS. How can a homeowner expect fair treatment when the “neutral judge” is owned by the bank’s attorneys?! (2) According to WA State law, all auctions are supposed to be held at “a designated public place” — not in RCO/NTS’s garage!

July 20: On behalf of Jeremy, SAFE members protested in front of Wells Fargo in Kent while Wells took homeowners on a tour of low-priced homes. As soon as we arrived, the Wells Fargo promotional ad man packed up his things and left. People from the next door farmers market and passing motorists gave us enthusiastic support. (Everyone hates the banks!)

July 23 − 25: Evonne and Olu, representing SAFE, attended a national meeting in NYC of Right to the City to discuss what groups around the country are doing to fight foreclosures and evictions.

July 25: The City of Renton has shut off Sonia’s water. Since she doesn’t have enough money to pay both her mortgage and her water bill, she opted for the former. Unfortunately, no public or private emergency aid groups will help her. Today, she delivered a letter to the Renton Utilities Dept. offering to do community service to get her water turned back on. While she awaits their response, she brought her dirty dishes to City Hall and washed them in the men’s bathroom after checking it was empty. (Because her videographer is male, she decided it’d be better to wash them in the men’s room rather than having a male in the women’s room.) After finishing her dishes she and her videographer walked outside and were confronted by a police sergeant called by someone in City Hall. The officer claimed Sonia’s being in the men’s room caused a public disturbance. When Sonia told the officer her water was shut off, the cop said that the only concern here is that a woman should not be in the men’s room. The officer than told Sonia and her cameraman to leave the property. ADVISORY: IN THE CITY OF RENTON A WOMAN WAS SEEN IN A MEN’S BATHROOM. Also, an unknown number of Renton residents have no potable water.

Other Upcoming & Ongoing Events

Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (NE corner of Graham St). All are welcome!
Sundays, 5:30 – 7:00 PM: Weekly SAFE Active Member Homeowner’s/Bank Tenant’s Support Group: Also at 6230 Beacon Ave S.

Questions? Comments?

You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125. Please visit our web site: www.SAFEinSeattle.org.

Thoughts & Opinions (SAFE welcomes written opinions from all of its supporters. If you have a letter or comment you’d like to include in the Thoughts & Opinions section of this Newsletter, please e-mail info@SAFEinSeattle.org. Opinions must be informative, relevant to the foreclosure/eviction crisis, and consistent with SAFE’s mission and principles.

Beat back the bank attack!

S.A.F.E. (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction) in Seattle successfully stopped a impending eviction by mobilizing the community to support one-another and stand-up to intimidation by corrupt banks.

Visit www.SAFEinSeattle.org

Amplify your Activism by visiting www.BackboneCampaign.org find us on FB at https://www.facebook.com/BackboneCamp…

SAFE formed from an Occupy offshoot after a Eviction Protection weekend training with Backbone Campaign and leaders at the forefront of home defense City Life/Vida Urbana. Now a full year into their organizing SAFE is a powerful example of model community organizing. Their winning real victories at the local level building momentum for national universal principle reduction and affirming that HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT!

Learn more about the smart case for principle reduction: http://backbonecampaign.org/news/item…

Wells Fargo, you can't hide. Everyone can see your greedy side!

SeattleWellsFargoForclosureProtestArrest

Five members of SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure & Eviction) were arrested Tuesday at a downtown Seattle branch of Wells Fargo as they protested the imminent eviction of Jeremy Griffin from his South Park home. While sitting in the bank’s lobby, the five chanted “We Shall Not Be Moved” and read a letter from Mr. Griffin demanding the bank negotiate with him.
Meanwhile some 40 other supporters protested in front of Wells Fargo’s headquarters on Third and Madison then marched to the bank branch where the five were protesting. Police were called and the five were arrested.
Mr. Griffin, an ironworker, became unemployed when the economy crashed in 2008. Soon he fell behind in his mortgage payments. In 2012 he resumed working, and tried to negotiate with Wells Fargo, but they refused and sold his home of eight years in Dec. 2012.
“I’ve offered Wells Fargo six months of payments in advance,” said Mr. Griffin, “but they’d rather evict me and blight my neighborhood with another empty home. Why won’t they take my money?”

Since Mr. Griffin lost his final court hearing on June 25, the Sheriff could post his eviction notice any day.

“At my eviction hearing the only reason the bank’s attorney gave for why they won’t negotiate with me is they ‘have no legal obligation to do so.’ That may be a legally sufficient reason,” Mr. Griffin said, “but it’s morally wrong. Basically, they refuse to negotiate with me and accept my money without having the decency to give me a reasonable explanation as to why.”
According to Stephen Price, one of the five SAFE members arrested on Tuesday, “Since 2008 the banks have evicted millions of Americans and thousands of Seattle families. Every month over 250 Seattle families see their homes sold at auction. When a family is willing and able to pay to stay in their home, they banks shouldn’t just throw them onto the street. But when you’re a multi-billion dollar Wall Street bank like Wells Fargo, profits are more important than people.”
SAFE:
SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction) is a grassroots, non-profit organization of volunteers and homeowners dedicated to building a mass movement to stop bank evictions, achieve principal reductions, and put people before profit.

“During Occupy Seattle, a lot of liberals, including some at this paper, complained that the group didn’t have concrete enough objectives. They said the group became too chaotic and drifted away from the raising the most resonant issues of the day—financial malpractice by the banks and economic inequality.

Well, here’s what they were looking for. SAFE is an outgrowth of Occupy Seattle. Its focus is on working class people being victimized by banks. And its methods fall firmly within the tradition of non-violent civil disobedience.”

Opportunity Knocks

Much is made of the principle that all of us should have an equal opportunity  to Food, Clothing, Shelter, Healthcare, Education, and so on (FCSHE+). That it is wrong to discriminate based on one’s color, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, etc., should be obvious to anyone capable of forming thoughts. Yet, in the US the Equal Rights Amendment could not garner the necessary support of 38 states to become a constitutional amendment. Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans continue to suffer chronic social and economic disadvantages compared to white Americans. Lesbians, gays, transsexuals are viciously discriminated against throughout our society. And on and on.

Of course, one could argue that someone who is blind should not be given a job as a baseball umpire; yet, such exceptions are often raised, not as concerns to be accommodated, but to quash the entire concept of equal opportunity. Certainly, exceptions attend nearly every moral imperative, but while exceptions should be addressed, they should not be used as a means to destroy the imperative itself. During the 1970s, for example, conservatives cried that if the ERA passed, men and women would have to share the same locker rooms and bathrooms, i.e., all hell would break loose. These same conservatives didn’t give a damn that women’s incomes were less than men’s, as long as they didn’t have to urinate next to someone of the opposite sex.

That in the twenty-first century we must continue to fight for equality of opportunity for all people is a moral outrage. But even if we could guarantee equality of opportunity for all, the fight would not be over, for what we ultimately must demand is not just equal opportunity to FCSHE+ but the right to have FCSHE+. Having an equal opportunity to buy a home is not the same as having a right to live in a home.
In our society, FCSHE+, like all goods and services, are viewed as commodities to be bought and sold. Our only concern is that we not discriminate against the buyer based on her religion, color, gender, and so on. Yet we can and must discriminate against the buyer based on her ability to pay for these commodities. Discrimination based on one’s wealth and income, is not only acceptable in a market economy, it is necessary to the functioning of a market economy.

A commodified society such as ours, where everything and everyone has a price, naturally regards equality of opportunity as its pinnacle of fairness, its cornerstone of moral rectitude. The principle of inalienable human rights, on the other hand, rights that cannot be bought and sold, is anathema to a commodified society.

From a humanistic perspective, we must regard FCSHE+, not as commodities, but as human rights available to every member of society. Our super-rich, profit-obsessed, corporate warmongers, however, would like us to believe such rights are unaffordable. “Nothing,” they say, “is free in life. Who will pay for these?”

A graduated income tax is a start. If our taxes can pay for cruise missiles, nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, and the most invasive eavesdropping system in the history of the world, our taxes can pay to feed, clothe, and shelter our people.

Imagine the human potential we could unleash if everyone was guaranteed healthy food; clean and beautiful clothing; safe, clean, and dignified shelter; comprehensive healthcare; education through college that focused on developing your individual talents; ecologically sustainable transportation; leisure time for artistic or athletic development; and on and on.

But if the goods and services to meet our basic needs are free, won’t everyone stop working?!

To be continued . . . . (by Stephen)


Upcoming Actions:

June 14: Auction Protest at Northwest Trustee Services in Bellevue for Jen
June 21: Auction Protest at Northwest Trustee Services in Bellevue for Larry
Depending on the outcome of Jeremy’s next court hearing, we are prepared to re-establish the eviction blockade on June 25. If you have yet to join SAFE’s Rapid Response Network, so that we can alert you as soon as the sheriff arrives to evict, please visit www.SAFEinSeattle.org, click on JOIN RRN, and sign up

This Past Week:

June 5: By unanimous consent Nickelsville and SAFE agree to join forces for direct actions. Since many SAFE members are only one-step away from homelessness, this is a natural fit. SAFE members are humbled and thrilled!

May 30: SAFE members deliver demand letters to Seattle branches of Bank of America and Chase. Rather than accept a letter from their customers, the BofA on the NE corner of Third Ave. and Madison shuttered their branch 90 minutes early! According to a security guard, “We knew you were coming.” The same with the BofA branch on Second Ave. and Cherry, where non-SAFE customers couldn’t get in and those already inside couldn’t get out. We then walked north to an unsuspecting Chase branch and delivered our letters, after reading them aloud in the lobby, without incident. Our meet-up spot for this action was the SW corner of Third Ave. and Madison, next to Wells Fargo’s headquarters. Even though we had no plans to deliver letters to this bank, their security guards shut down the building’s normal entry ways.

Other Upcoming & Ongoing Events:

Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (NE corner of Graham St). All are welcome!

Questions? Comments?

You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125. Please visit our web site: www.SAFEinSeattle.org.

Thoughts & Opinions (SAFE welcomes written opinions from all of its supporters. If you have a letter or comment you’d like to include in the Thoughts & Opinions section of this Newsletter, please e-mail info@SAFEinSeattle.org. Opinions must be informative, relevant to the foreclosure/eviction crisis, and consistent with SAFE’s mission and principles. The opinions below do not necessarily represent those of SAFE.)

Wealth Inequality

The three richest people in the world possess more wealth than the poorest 42 nations combined. In the US, wealth inequality has skyrocketed, especially since the start of the Great Recession.

Consider the Koch brothers Charles and David, owners of the second largest privately held company in the US (next to Cargill), whose financing of right-wing groups like the Tea Party is well known. While they are not the richest men in the US – Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison wouldn’t let them shine their shoes – together they have a net worth, according to Forbes, of $68 billion.

Meanwhile, Evonne and Jose Martinez, SAFE members, have worked all of their lives. When Evonne became ill, she lost her job as a social worker, and Jose had to take time off as a letter carrier to care for her. When their 26-year-old son needed two brain surgeries, they sold what they had to pay for his treatment. In the course of this tragedy, they understandably fell behind on their mortgage. Their bank, however, was less understanding. JP Morgan Chase sold their home at auction and is seeking their eviction – even though Evonne and Jose are now back at work and can pay their mortgage!

Then there’s Larry Ellison. In 2012, he increased his net worth by $7 billion. Assuming a 40-hour week with two weeks unpaid vacation, he made $3,500,000 per hour, i.e., $972.22 per second.

Unfortunately in 2012, Larry and Flor Benes, also SAFE members, did not fare so well. After serving ten years on active military duty plus a three-year stint in the Reserves and the National Guard, Larry developed PTSD and a total service-connected disability rating of 70 percent. Nonetheless, he then worked as a stevedore for 20 years, but was eventually laid off because of his disabilities. To survive, Flor works two jobs. In 2012, Larry himself had no income. Bank of America is foreclosing on their home.

We are not claiming that all billionaires are moral reprobates. Our point, rather, is that there’s something terribly wrong with an economic system that allows, and even honors, such a skewed distribution of wealth.

How do the rich and their academic sycophants justify such extreme inequality? Four arguments:

The US is the greatest country on the planet, because each of us has the freedom and opportunity to become a billionaire (formerly, millionaire, but those days are now considered quaint).
The opportunity to amass enormous wealth motivates us to grow our economy.

Wealth and poverty have always existed. Inequality is a natural phenomenon, a law of nature.

The rich are the job producers; without them, there would be no jobs.

Some thoughts:

(1) How well is this freedom-to-become-a-billionaire model working? In Qtr. 1, 2013, the US had 442 billionaires, one out of every 701,000 US residents. Do we call this a well functioning model? Is your car well functioning if it only starts one out of every 701,000 attempts to turn it on? Should we have a Lemon Law for economic systems?

(2) The motivation argument. Clearly, if you “earn” $3.5 million per hour, you too would love going to work, but what about the rest of us whose jobs are dehumanizing, repetitive, and, at times, injurious? How motivated are we to go to work, or does our motivation come from the fear of being unable to provide for our families? Sixty percent of our population, 186,000,000 people, own only 4.2% of our nation’s wealth. Are they not motivated, or is our economy broken?

(3) Inequality is natural. The problem with the natural-law argument is the fallacy of deriving an ethical conclusion from an existing state of affairs. Because slavery exists (astonishingly, it’s still with us), does that make it right? Because only a man and a woman can procreate, does that mean gays and lesbians should not marry? Because there is economic, social, educational inequality, this does not make it right; it makes it something we need to correct.

(4) The rich are the job producers. What this means is the rich have the capital to invest in people and machines, which in turn produces jobs. The problem, however, is that the rich are getting richer, but they are not producing jobs. We hear a lot about the unemployment rate (7.5%), but more revealing is the underemployment rate (17.5%), which includes (a) those who are looking for work but cannot find a job, and (b) those who want a full-time job but must settle for part-time work. It does not include those who have given up looking for work. When 17.5% of the work force is suffering, the system isn’t working.

The rich are the job-producers argument, however, has a second and more serious flaw. True, the rich now have the capital to create jobs. But if we remove the distinction between rich and poor, it doesn’t follow jobs will disappear. If wealth is divided more-or-less equally, why couldn’t the people collectively create jobs?

A first step to a more just and healthy society, one that prizes the growth and development of all its members, is a redistribution of wealth. Why should some – like the Koch brothers, who inherited their father’s oil business – start life with an insurmountable advantage over those who are born into poverty, despair, and deprivation? Why should someone, like Stephen A. Cohen, the hedge fund manager under investigation for insider trading, have the wherewithal to buy a Picasso for $155 million to put into his recently purchased $60 million mansion in the Hamptons, while others live without shelter, let alone art?

A second, and decisive, step to a more wholesome society involves the collective and democratic control of the redistributed wealth. Consider housing. Nearly all of us, if we wish to live in a home, must arrange a mortgage loan with a bank, the terms of which are set entirely by the bank for the profit of the bank. We, as buyers of the loan, have no input. To correct this, should we nationalize the banks? Yes, but in itself nationalization only shifts bank ownership from private hands to government bureaucrats. It does not address the question of who controls the banks and who decides their social purpose. What is needed instead is a revolutionary change in the way our society is structured, away from a class-stratified society where the few decide for the rest of us how our resources are allocated and distributed towards a classless society where the people decide democratically how our social wealth is utilized, one in which the unsustainable accumulation of profit for the few is proscribed and the amelioration of all is cherished.

Is this utopian? Perhaps. But what we have now is unjust and immoral. SAFE brings people together to fight the banks and to fight for Evonne, Jose, Larry, Flor, and all those suffering under the yoke of capitalism, struggling for a better life.

— Stephen, SAFE Volunteer

Housing is a Human Right!

 

SAFE EVICTION BLOCKADE: DAY 7

Upcoming Actions:

  • Wednesday, May 22: Send a fax to Morgan Stanley CEO, James Gorman (212-761-0086):
    • “Jeremy Griffin, 725 So. Henderson St., Seattle, will pay you rent to stay in his home. Don’t evict him; accept his money!”
  • Thursday, May 23, 6:30 – 8:30 PM: Northgate Community Center, 10510 5th Ave NE, Seattle (Meet up outside of building.): Town Hall Meeting with Attorney General Bob Ferguson: Ask the AG what he’s doing to stop foreclosures and evictions. Demand a Moratorium.
  • Friday, May 24, 5:00 PM: SAFE Solidarity Blockade Party: At Jeremy’s home: Celebrate Day 10 of the Blockade!
  • If you have yet to join SAFE’s Rapid Response Network, please visit www.SAFEinSeattle.org, click on JOIN RRN, and sign up.
  • If you wish to be part of the 24-hour Watch Brigade on Jeremy’s South Park lawn to monitor any attempt by the Sheriff to evict, please also sign up on our website.
  • Check out articles in this week’s Real Change and The Stranger and today’s issue of TheStand.org for coverage of the SAFE blockade at Jeremy’s.
  • Two auction disruptions scheduled: May 31 (for Jane) and June 14 (for Jen). More details in next week’s Newsletter.
  • Jeremy Griffin’s court appeal has been rescheduled for 8:30 AM, Tues., June 25.

This Past Week:

What a week!

  • May 14: SAFE set up its first eviction blockade in Jeremy’s yard. Blockade will continue until Sheriff comes to evict. We will resist!
  • May 15: Press conference: Nearly all the local media came (except the Seattle Times). Good coverage on all TV channels and many radio stations; great stories on The Stranger’s blog, Real Change, The Seattle Weekly, The Stand.
  • May 17: Auction disruption at Northwest Trustee Services: Great crowd on hand. Larry and Flor Benes’s auction postponed until June 21!
  • May 17: Two SAFE members met with Sheriff John Urquhart to open a communication channel between his office and SAFE.

Other Upcoming & Ongoing Events:

Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (NE corner of Graham St). All are welcome!

Questions? Comments?

You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125. Please visit our web site: www.SAFEinSeattle.org.

Thoughts & Opinions (SAFE welcomes written opinions from all of its supporters. If you have a letter or comment you’d like to include in the Thoughts & Opinions section of this Newsletter, please e-mail info@SAFEinSeattle.org. Opinions must be informative, relevant to the foreclosure/eviction crisis, and consistent with SAFE’s mission and principles. The opinions below do not necessarily represent those of SAFE.):

The Revolving Door

Growing up, many of us learned our country has three branches of government, with checks and balances to make sure nothing ever goes wrong. We also believed that by removing his glasses no one would realize Clark Kent was actually Superman. As we aged, we discovered that checks and balances have less to do with keeping everyone on the up-and-up and more to do with cashiers checks and account balances. Three choice examples:

Robert Rubin, who spent 26 years at Goldman Sachs, became US Treasury Secretary under President Clinton. Towards the end of his term, at the behest of Sandy Weill, the head of Citicorp and the Travelers Insurance Group, Mr. Rubin engineered — along with former President Gerald Ford! — the overturning of the Glass-Steagall Act, which allowed Citicorp and Travelers to become Citigroup, and in turn led to the economic collapse of 2008. For his efforts, Mr. Rubin, after resigning as treasury secretary, took a job at Citigroup paying him $126 million.

Eugene Ludwig, a former Comptroller of the Currency, is now the head of the Promontory Financial Group, a consulting firm that hires, among others, government regulators whose jobs were to oversee financial institutions. What do these more than 100 ex-government banking regulators do at Promontory? They now work on behalf of Wall Street — Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Citigroup, HSBC, and on and on — fighting to overturn unfriendly bank regulations and helping their clients bundle mortgage backed securities. Working at Promontory are Mary Schapiro, former head of the Security and Exchange Commission; Susan Bell, a former senior official with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; and Patrick Parkinson, who spent 30 years at the Federal Reserve. While the government was investigating Standard Chartered (SC) for money laundering, the bank hired Promontory, which concluded that SC only laundered $14 million. Later, the government and SC agreed that SC actually laundered $250 billion. Asked to explain this discrepancy, Promontory said they stand by their original report. When Mr. Ludwig entertains bank regulators at his 13,000 sq. ft., $11.5 million home, he assures us they never discuss “current matters.”

Lanny Breuer, who helped defend President Clinton during his impeachment proceeding, had previously worked with the law firm Covington & Burling, whose clients include JP Morgan Chase and the New York Stock Exchange. In 2009, President Obama appointed Mr. Breuer to head the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. As Assistant Attorney General, part of Mr. Breuer’s job was to prosecute Wall Street banks for wrongdoing leading up to the Great Recession. As we all know, he never indicted one top Wall Street banker. Where is he now? Back at Covington Burling as vice chairman. Defending this apparent conflict of interest, Mr. Breuer said, “What people dismissively talk about as the revolving door allows people to be better public servants and private litigants. I believe I was a better assistant attorney general because of my deep experience in the private sector.” I’m sure Chase agrees. If you’re going to allow the fox to guard the henhouse, you want to make sure the fox knows all about the hens.

On television years ago, when Clark Kent changed into his Superman outfit, he at least took off his glasses. Now, no one bothers.

— Stephen, SAFE Volunteer

Housing is a Human Right!

Upcoming Actions:

Saturday & Sunday, April 13 & 14: Teams of canvassers will meet at various times during the weekend to deliver neighborhood meeting invitations to every home in South Park. If you would like to be on a canvassing team, please contact Bryce at 253-740-9804. The first team will gather at the SAFE House at 1:30 PM, Sat., April 13.

Thursday, April 18, 6:30 PM: South Park Neighborhood Meeting, at the Old Firehouse (corner of Southern St. and 10th Ave.): We will give a brief presentation about SAFE and the foreclosure crisis and discuss with South Park residents their concerns and how best to fight the banks.

Special Event

Wednesday, April 17, 4:00 PM: Say No To Drones: Rally and March: Starts at Westlake Plaza (4th Ave. & Pine): Speakers & Music followed by a march to the WAMU building where Boeing, a leading drone manufacturer, has offices.

This Past Week

Several SAFE members are moving closer towards eviction. We are preparing a Rapid Response Network.

Other Upcoming & Ongoing Events

Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (NE corner of Graham St). All are welcome!

Questions? Comments?

You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125. Please visit our web site: www.SAFEinSeattle.org.

Thoughts & Opinions (SAFE welcomes written opinions from all of its supporters. If you have a letter or comment you’d like to include in the Thoughts & Opinions section of this Newsletter, please e-mail info@SAFEinSeattle.org. Opinions must be informative, relevant to the foreclosure/eviction crisis, and consistent with SAFE’s mission and principles. The opinions, like the one above, do not necessarily represent those of SAFE.):

Lobbying versus Direct Action

Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, the largest in US history, on Sept. 15, 2008. Days later as world capitalism continued convulsing, George W. Bush, looking dazed and bewildered as if he’d just finished a test in quantum mechanics despite never having mastered his multiplication tables, declared in his inimitable eloquence, “This sucker could go down.”

Since then, 16 million American homes have fallen underwater – owing more on their mortgages than the homes are worth – and four million families have been evicted from their homes by the banks, with millions more waiting for the hammer to fall. By the time the dust settles, if it ever will, over 20 percent of all Americans – men, women, and children – will have been directly affected by the foreclosure crisis. If we count the friends and extended families that have taken in the dispossessed, the percentage is even higher.

What has been the response of our politicians? Nationally, as we all know, they’ve taken the money of those who had nothing to do with the economic collapse and given it to those who caused it. The result: millions of us continue to lose our homes, but – Praise the Lord – the stock market is up!

On the state level, our legislators have occasionally thrown us a bone. In Washington State, we have the Foreclosure Fairness Act, which requires the banks to sit down with homeowners facing foreclosure (after the homeowners pay a mandatory mediation fee), but the act does not require the banks to lower your mortgage principal and interest. This is like having a law requiring an assailant to join you for tea before he attacks you.

On the city level, Nick Licata, the president of the Seattle City Council, decided to hold hearings this month – four and one-half years after Lehman went down – to study the matter. The City Council’s emergency crisis response time is breathtaking.

Meanwhile the chair of our County Council, Larry Gossett, candidly told us he’s too busy to support an eviction moratorium, but would consider it. When asked how long that would take, he said the Council will do nothing on this issue until heat in the media and in the streets forces their hands.

The King County Sheriff, John Urquhart, told us last fall he would not support a moratorium on evictions. Disappointing as this was, it was actually an advance over the position of his predecessor, Steve Strachan, who didn’t even bother to reply to our inquiry.
Throughout the country groups have tried to pressure local, state, and national politicians to enact sustained moratoriums on evictions. Not one legislative body in the US has been willing to do so.

When the San Bernardino County Council had the audacity to consider a proposal to exercise eminent domain to take over mortgages of underwater homes in their jurisdiction, Wall Street and the real estate lobby gave the council members an offer they couldn’t refuse: You touch our mortgages, and the words “San Bernardino” and “credit” will never again be used in the same sentence. The council executive’s reply: “Never ever did we say this is something we want to do or intend to do.” After all, who likes waking up with a horse head in your bed?

Of course SAFE members are free to lobby their elected representatives. At the very least we should have each representative declare for the record that s/he supports or opposes a moratorium on evictions, and then publicize their positions accordingly. If politicians support our proposal, fine. If not, we won’t be surprised. But my contention is that as a way to stop bank evictions, lobbying is a diversion and a sham. Politicians aspiring to national office are entirely beholden to, and the beneficiaries of, big money, while local and state representatives, who also rely on campaign contributions, do not have the clout to change the system.

Asking politicians to fix the foreclosure and eviction crisis is like asking casino managers to change the odds in favor of the bettors. That the system allows us to vote once every two or four years for the next casino manager, will never change anything. The entire system is geared to help the richest (0.1%) get richer at the expense of the rest of us.

Our only hope is to rely on ourselves. We have two very powerful weapons: the righteousness of our cause and our numbers.

When Annette Steele, the 80-year-old great-great-grandmother from Portland refuses to leave her home…
When Luisa Telefoni and her 20-member extended family says ‘no’…

When Evonne and Jose Martinez, who had to choose between paying their mortgage and paying for their son’s brain surgeries, object…
When these brave people, together with their neighbors and the SAFE membership, resist…

This rigged and unjust system will start to unravel.

Nonviolent direct action is not a walk in the park. The police will arrest us. The media will smear us. Wall Street will sue us. And years later the politicians will study the matter. We can either lobby our representatives, reminding them of all the stirring promises they made to our faces while they campaigned for office on our front lawns, or we can mobilize our neighbors to stand between the sheriff and the next family on Wall Street’s eviction hit list. If we do the former, millions more will lose their homes; if we do the latter, we will obstruct the circulation and accumulation of finance capital – Wall Street’s bottom line, its lifeblood, its reason for being.

— Stephen, SAFE Volunteer

Housing is a Human Right!

Upcoming Actions:

We are focusing on door-to-door canvassing, with a special and continued emphasis on South Park. Later this month we will be inviting South Park residents to a community event to discuss their feelings about the 40 foreclosures that have occurred in their neighborhood in the last five years (10% of South Park’s homes).

This Past Week:

Our new SAFEinSeattle.org website is now live! Please visit us.
We continue to prepare for the imminent eviction of some of our members from their homes.

Other Upcoming & Ongoing Events:

Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (NE corner of Graham St). All are welcome!
Saturdays, 1:30 PM: Outreach Working Group at SAFE House: Door-to-Door canvassing: We will train you, and you’ll travel by car with an experienced volunteer.

Questions? Comments?

You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125. Please visit our web site: www.SAFEinSeattle.org.