The Western Washington Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program held its Ninth Annual Public Meeting on Saturday, July 19th, at Kane Hall, on the University of Washington Campus.
The theme of the meeting was: Health Care is a Human Right: Making It Real in Washington State. Here are videos of the speakers:
•Health Care is a Human Right! – A Principled Approach
Martha Schmidt, LL.M.
Philip Caper, MD
•Congressman Jim McDermott
Presenting the 2014 Dr. John Geyman Health Justice Advocate Award
•The Health Care is a Human Right – Washington Campaign
Statement from Jeff Johnson, President WA State Labor Council
Read by David McLanahan, Co-Founder & Coordinator, PNHPWW
Kshama Sawant, PhD, Seattle City Councilmember
Rally with thousands of workers and immigrant rights supporters. The event will focus on standing together with all workers regardless of race, class, gender, sexual identity and documentation status.
Join with Radical Women participants who will be marching with the Libertad para Nestora/Freedom for Nestora Committee. Look for our signs and banner!
Thursday May 1st, 2014. 3:00pm
The march will begin at St. Mary’s Church, 611 20th Ave South, Seattle.
It will end with a rally at Westlake Park.
For more information on the event, go to:
<a” style=”color: #336699;” href=”http://radicalwomen.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=2917cfc9b3941a9932e363014&id=e838662f2e&e=f33fe367e1″ target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>http://elcomitewa.wordpress.com/category/immigrant-rights-movement-seattle/
Dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela who died on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. He led Africa’s struggle for freedom and justice. A hero to millions, he will be mourned around the world.
We the People need to speak truth to power. We need to be heard. We need to restore our democracy and rein in the national security state that was established on the false premise of looking for terrorists. The elected legislators in all branches of government represent the interests of the corporate welfare state and not the interests of the American people. Our Constitution has been trashed and our Bill of Rights destroyed.
Journalists and whistle-blowers jailed and prosecuted. Citizens working for justice denigrated, marginalized, jailed, or even taken out. Municipal police are being militarized. Police brutality used against peaceful protestors who are beaten and jailed. Citizens detained without access to family or lawyers. Citizens may disappear into Controlled Management Units (CMUs). Infiltration of activist and dissident organizations [Amendments I, V, VI of the Constitution, NDAA, Military Commissions Act].
The national security state spies on us all. The expansive military machine can turn on us at will. National leaders who speak out can be taken out. Look at what happened to John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy. Look at what is currently happening to our more recent patriot heroes: Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Jeremy Hammond, and Edward Snowden. [Amendment IV of the Constitution]
The science has been pretty well established, yet neither the corporate media nor members of Congress mention the growing perils associated with climate change. This may well be the most critical element in the future life of our planet and all living things. The content of mainstream media has been dumbed down to infotainment so that what we see, read and hear is hollow.
Increasing changes in climate will worsen economic conditions and those hardships help to drive immigration. Land and water wars will increase the social stress with resulting mass exoduses of refugees.
Congress and the Corporate State
Congress passes legislation written by lobbyists and corporate lawyers. [Article I of the Constitution] Congress passes legislation that legalizes what is illegal. A former democratic society is now a plutocracy with titles of Director, Lobbyist, CEO and President (instead of Baron, Duke, Earl and Monarch). Regressive tax structure that benefits the 1%.
The use of offshore tax havens and other tax avoidance strategies by wealthy to avoid payment of income tax. “Tax dodging by the rich and corporations costs every other American taxpayer $1,026 per year in higher taxes or reduced benefits and services.” [WA Post May 24, 2013]
National Priorities Project reports that (1) corporate tax breaks will total $108 billion in FY2013 – more than 1.5 times what the U.S. government spends on education funding. Between 2007 and 2013, the revenue lost from U.S. corporations deferring taxes on income earned abroad rose 200%, going from $14 billion to $42 billion. (2) All tax breaks for individuals will exceed $1 trillion this year, with about 17% of the biggest individual tax breaks going to the top 1% of earners. More at a report out today from the National Priorities Project. [Amendment XVI of the Constitution].
Excessive involvement of the military and corporations manufacturing arms in formulation of U.S. foreign policy [Caldicott, Helen, The New Nuclear Danger, New Press, 2002].
A corrupt Congress has defunded and decreased the regularity authority of governmental agencies, putting profits before people and the planet.
The Extreme Court does the bidding of a very small political elite [Article III of the Constitution].
Congress fails to curb secret negotiations that affect relations between countries and corporations. Current examples include TPP and TAFTA.
It’s all about money. The obscene level of wealth and economic inequality is a moral issue, as well as an economic or political issue. Marketplace autonomy, financial speculation and widespread corruption have caused the current massive inequality in societies the world over. Workers and even our soldiers are treated as goods to be used and thrown away. The wages of working Americans have remained stagnant since the late 70s while, at the same time, easy credit has made Americans slaves to debt. The United States is last among 21 developed nations in union membership, reflecting a downward trend since 1983. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports union membership at 11.1% in 2012. [Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union Membership-2012. [Washington, D.C.:] U.S. Department of Labor, 2013. Web. 23 January 2013] The current union membership has been reported to be a meager 10%.
All citizens of legal age have the right to vote regardless of the state in which they live. When election fraud is used to restrict their right to vote, why should they owe allegiance to a government that denies them the right to vote? [Amendments XV and XXIV of the Constitution]
The two major parties have betrayed the American people. They have been bought off by the 1% and are no longer worthy of our support. Increasing numbers of Americans are alienated from the political process and don’t bother to vote. More Americans might participate in elections if it were a national holiday. It is time for a national debate on making voting mandatory by Constitutional amendment and making provision for run-off elections instead of the electoral college. And it is time for legislation on term limits. [Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution]
The attack on so-called illegal immigrants has been accelerated to distract us from the real problems facing this nation. I daresay that most immigrants would rather stay at home but indigenous farmers can’t compete with highly subsidized U.S. agribusiness. One may argue whether undocumented immigrants are an economic drain or an economic boon. The debate goes on and on while we witness an immense growth in border security with nationwide immigration sweeps, over 20,000 US border agents (highest in history and twice that of a decade ago), growth of agencies in addition to Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), such as Secure Communities program. [Obama speech & Council on Foreign Relations], high number of deportations causing family breakups. The construction of a double wall along our southern border also infringed on the rights of indigenous people to their land [Truthout Dec. 5, 2013].
Public Institutions and Government Services
Public institutions and government services are being privatized for profit: the military, education, prisons, etc. Chicago closed 50 public schools May 2013, leading the way toward privatization.
According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, the five countries with the highest prison population are the US, China, Russia, Brazil and India. The US has a prison population of 2,239,751, or 716 people per 100,000. China ranks second with 1,640,000 people behind bars, or 121 people per 100,000, while Russia is third with 681,600, or 475 individuals per 100,000. Brazil has 548,003 people in prison or 274 per 100,000; finally, India’s prison population is 385,135, or 30 inmates per 100,000 citizens. Sweden ranks 112th and is closing 4 of its prisons.
The for-profit prison industry is thriving and dependent on a hefty prison population. Correction Corps of America (CCA), Management Training Corporation (MTC) from Centerville, Utah and the GEO Group, Inc., of Boca Raton, Florida, own and operate over 200 correctional, detention and residential treatment facilities and transport prisoners by land and air. They crank out $5 billion a year in profit. “A perfect money machine, indeed — but only if the system keeps them supplied with prisoners.”
Government services, including the U.S. Postal Service [Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution], Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, even national parks and forests, are part of a larger strategy to privatize them under the guise of a budget crisis, or a manufactured need for austerity measures. Social Security is not responsible for one dime of the so-called federal deficit.
The outcome of Citizens United has enabled a small minority of powerful interests with unlimited amounts of money to gain control of the government. Huge amounts of money are brought into states to influence ballot initiatives on GMOs and similar legislation. The corruption of government at all levels is so deeply embedded that it cannot be changed within the current political system. See https://movetoamend.org/.
The criminality and chicanery of Wall Street and the big banks “too large to fail” have been well established. These institutions are the primary cause of the budget crisis and yet not one of these high-level criminals has been held accountable by the Obama administration. (Wall Street overwhelmingly supported Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.) It is now known that secret Wall Street bailouts totaled $7.77 trillion! On the local level, large financial institutions remove money from local economies to finance their Wall Street speculations and corporate take-overs. They pay a minimal rate of interest on savings accounts, yet charge us 12 to 25 percent on loans. That interest on loans is the lifeblood of the big banks. These institutions work for the best interests of the 1%, rather than the interests of the American people.
The imperialistic and aggressive state of the U.S. in its perpetual war against “terrorism” threatens the peace of the world and the health of the planet and its peoples. The destruction of Iraq, the high numbers of civilian dead from the use of drones, chemical warfare, (Vietnam, Iraq, etc.), threatens the health of civilians and the health of the planet. The bloated U.S military budget is larger than that of the combined budgets of the 10 highest countries. [Stockholm Intl. Peace Research Institute, SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, 2013. Compiled by PGPF.]
Partial list of U.S. aggressive actions below:
Overthrow of PM Mosaddegh of Iran in 1953
Overthrow of leftist government in Guatemala in 1954
The Invasion and Occupation of Vietnam – 3 Million dead 1954-1975
Coup d’état in Chile on 9/11/1973 – 3000 murdered
Complicity in invasion of East Timor in 1975, including shipment of arms (violates U. S. law)
Destructive policies toward Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines
Use of death squads in Vietnam, Central America, Iraq, Syria
Invasion and destruction of Iraq – 1 Million dead 2001 to present
Use of torture or “enhanced interrogation” (Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, global black sites) [Amendment VIII]
Destruction of Fallujah and use of white phosphorus in 2004
Use of depleted uranium in the Iraq War in 2004
Support for dictatorships in Middle East, South America & Africa, including Saudi Arabia; Bahrain; Yemen; Jordan
Complicity in human rights violations and war crimes by its financial, diplomatic and media support for militaristic and apartheid state of Israel
What to Do?
In 1999 thousands of citizens of the world gathered together in Seattle to stop the WTO conference then in progress. On December 3, 2013 the The Ninth Ministerial Conference of the WTO meets in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 6 December 2013.
How do We the People change the system? First, We the People must support a new people’s movement or party and withdraw our support of the Democrat and Republican parties. We need term limits. We can undertake individual actions and also act in unison with our fellow citizens [Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution]. We see a kind of cruelty reflected in statements and legislation passed by a corrupt Congress. We need to meet the needs of our citizens here at home, including our veterans, cut the bloated military budget and invest in America.
Move your money from the big banks to local banks and credit unions. Save a little money if you can and your savings will make you free. Free yourself of the tyranny of compound interest. Support local businesses, banks and credit unions. Work to build alternate economies to take care of local needs. Support movements to establish state and city banks.
Support actions against foreclosures. Be there if you can. Urge your Congressional representatives to pass a financial transaction tax.
Don’t put a dollar sign on everything. Someone needs something; if you have it and don’t need it, pass it on to them. Don’t worry; that goodwill will come back to you.
Young folks who join the army under the poverty draft should take the oath to seriously uphold the Constitution. When ordered to fire on peaceful protestors, they should aim high over their heads.
We the People want democracy, justice, a healthy environment, a sustainable economy, health care, and education. These are human rights, not commodities to be traded on the markets. We must build a movement to amend or rescind those laws that have destroyed our Constitution and our civil liberties.
Form community networks. Help organize a People’s Congress as a shadow government to serve as a watchdog for liberty and rally support for people who look after the people’s best interests. Become informed and engaged as much as you are willing and have time for.
Exercise civil disobediences to change unjust laws. Yes, they may kill a few of us but they are killing us anyway. Look at all the war victims and the deaths of our own soldiers who are sent around the world to protect the corporate interests of the 1%.
Support union workers in their efforts for decent working conditions, wages and pensions. Support worker-owned enterprises. We need to become citizens of the world and help each other rather than shoot at each other.
There is a growing undercurrent of dissatisfaction in the realization that politics as usual will not correct the corrupt system with its inequitable system of taxation and a bloated military budget. Signs of change are taking place. And the corporate media do not cover the growing vibrant movement that is going on right now. When enough of us have had enough, the so-called 1% will run for cover. Then we can lock the cover and build a new world of justice in which we take care of each other without the burden of those parasites who have been feasting on us ever since the development of mega capitalism. We have one thing that scares the hell out of them that will eventually bring them down. We have each other!
There is a lot of information and research available to those who want to help in changing the political system and transform our society. More help is on the way but you can start with these links:
http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-the-path-of-positive-resistance/ with Jill Stein and Margaret Flowers. Also http://greenshadowcabinet.us/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=1
Movie worth watching https://vimeo.com/55141496(enter password when prompted:( barbarasteegmuller ) – 2
The list of books is long and comprehensive. The following is only a sampling:
Arendt, Hannah, The Origins of Totalitarianism, World Publishing, 1951
Blum, William, Rogue State, Common Courage Press, 2000
Fisk, Robert, The Great War for Civilization, Vintage, 2005
Gutierrez, Donald, Feeling the Unthinkable, Amador Publishing, 2012
Johnson, Chalmers, Blowback 2nd ed., Henry Holt, 2004
Wolf, Naomi, The End of America, Chelsea Publishing, 2007
Zinn, Howard, A People’s History of the United States, Harper’s, 1995
Zinn, Howard, The Zinn Reader, Seven Stories Press, 2004
Copyleft 2013 J. Glenn Evans
(Feel free to copy and distribute as broadly as possible)
This is a recent review on Donald Gutierrez’s new book, Feeling The Unthinkable that I wanted to call to your attention. I sincerely believe that this book should be read by every American concerned about where our country is headed.
J. Glenn Evans
FEELING THE UNTHINKABLE
By DONALD GUTIERREZ
AMADOR PUBLISHERS, LLC
611 Delamar Ave NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107
Every once in a while a book comes out that all of us should read regardless of age, status or political belief. The 48 essays and reviews in Feeling the Unthinkable by Donald Gutierrez are a literary feast. His essays hit in the gut, but his many reviews of other writers’ work introduce us to sources of information of which we need to be aware. They help you to think and ponder on where we’ve been and where we’re going. It is an incredibly powerful book from not only a prophet but also an historian and a philosopher that you will not want to miss.
Who would have believed a few years ago that America used torture? Except for Nazi Germany, it was thought that torture went out in the Middle Ages when the elites used the rack. Yet now we find that America used waterboarding in the conquest of the Philippines. In Gutierrez’s review of Alfred W. McCoy’s book, A Question of Torture, it was disclosed that by 1972 the Provincial Interrogations Centers, each directed by CIA personnel, 20,000 Vietcong were murdered in a “pump and dump” practice. How many were guilty and how many were innocent, nobody knows, except they were fighting a foreign invader.
By the time we got to Iraq and Afghanistan:
A colossal miscarriage of justice behind all this brutal increase of psychological and physical torture emerged when it became clear that, according to military intelligence from allied nations, 70 to 90 percent of Iraqi detainees had been arrested by mistake. What comes across in this massive injustice is the culpability of a chain of command from the White House lawyers to Rumsfeld to senior military officers like Generals Geoffrey D. Miller and Ricardo Sanchez to ordinary soldiers who followed their orders. Who takes blame if all this torture came to be proven illegal leads McCoy to the crucial issue of impunity. (63) … McCoy argues, further, that torture is not effective against terrorism, citing the very high number of innocent detainees from whom meager intelligence was coerced at Guantanamo. (64)
If we were not the most powerful nation militarily, our leaders would be brought before the world courts because of Nuremberg crimes. A quote from Gutierrez’s review of Naomi Wolf’s The End of America: Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot is enough to send shivers up your back when you consider what has recently been happening here in the U.S.
“Both Italian and German fascism came to power legally and incrementally in functioning democracies; both used legislation, cultural pressure and baseless imprisonment and torture, progressively to consolidate power….both aggressively used the law to subvert the law” (119)
In his essay, “The Great Military-Defense Swindle of America,” Gutierrez brings out the numbers, what we and our kids pay into the Military/Industrial Complex: $8 trillion on military expenditures from 1975 to 2000; $21 million for each M1A2 Abrams Tank (the army has 3,000 of them); $850 million for each Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer (the Navy acquired 17 since 1971 for around $11 billion); more recently 7 more Burke destroyers for around $33 billion. The destroyers cost around $30,000 a day to operate or $11 million a year plus training costs. Navy 18EF fighter-bombers, called “Super Hornets” cost $80 million each and the Navy wants 1,000 of them.
In the meantime, the Pentagon and its allies in Congress continue to seek rationalization for the mammoth military budget. Partly this is needed to conceal the enormous contradictions between legitimate military preparedness and the irony of keeping unused defense factories open by designating perfectly suitable ordnance as outmoded to justify spending further billions for ever more high-tech killing weapons. Thus, the worst thing that could happen to the Pentagon and America’s war industry is peace. A more fitting definition of a society led by lunatics and greed would be hard to find, at least among nations describing themselves as democratic. (142-143)
Some interesting figures are brought out in Gutierrez’s review of Helen Caldicott, The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military-Industrial Complex. The quotation from The Defense Monitor put out by retired military officers reflects what could be done with only one third of the military expenditure:
“Globally the annual military expenditure stands at 780 billion dollars. The total amount required to provide global health care, eliminate starvation and malnutrition, provide clear water and shelter for all, remove land mines, eliminate nuclear weapons, stop deforestation, prevent global warming, ozone depletion and acid rain, retire the paralyzing debt of developing nations, prevent soil erosion, produce safe, clean energy, stop overpopulation and eliminate illiteracy is only one third that amount–$237.5 billion dollars.” (134-135)
In “Attending College Must Be Free Again (For the Country’s Own Good),” Donald Gutierrez brings out the fact that in the 1950s he was able to attend college at the University of California in Berkeley with no tuition. There was a $35 semester charge described as an Incidental Fee for the use of the gym, campus hospital and a first rate library. Now the semester tuition is $5000 and $16,000 for a nonresident of the state. He states that Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law cost almost $18,000 per semester, including living expenses and expensive books. Private schools are a lot more. Why this must change:
Extreme financial stress on responsible college students is not only unjust, it is dangerous to the country’s future. Higher education should be free to all young people who show an aptitude for and aspire to advanced learning and professional or technical training. Society needs doctors, nurses, dentists, teachers, scholars, engineers, lawyers, economists, novelists, poets, and social, political and cultural critics and other experts—now and in the future. If, however, those high college debt hurdles remain, the consequences are obvious and pernicious: For the most part, only youths from wealthy or comfortable families will be able to afford college, especially quality colleges. The result will be not only a class-based educational structure—Yale vs. Flatsburg City College—but the hardening of a class-structured society. (177)
We not only have the Military/Industrial Complex, as President Eisenhower warned against, but now the Prison/Industrial Complex that allows corporations to make fortunes on other people’s misery. Punishment for crime and rehabilitation for return to society are functions of the state and must not be delegated to private enterprise. It behooves all citizens to be aware of what goes on in prisons. With our present system of justice, any of us, innocent or guilty, could end up in prison. Protest an injustice and be labeled a terrorist, you become a victim of indefinite detention, especially if you are nonwhite. Gutierrez reflects on “The New Electrical Meanspiritedness in America”:
An alarming trend in American prisons is the use of electrical devices on prisoners. This usage constitutes a serious erosion of what some regard as essential ethical restraint on prison authorities from imposing cruelty on convicts. In a long 1997 article in the New York Review of Books entitled “Cruel and Unusual Punishment,” William F. Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International, USA, discussed the increasing use of such devices as stun belts, stun guns, shock batons and electric shields by law enforcement officials to control prisoners. … According to Schulz:
“Stun belts deliver 50,000 volt shocks to the left kidney which fan out from there through blood channels and nerve pathways. Shocks can be administered by guards form a distance of up to 300 feet simply by the push of a button. An 8-second application of shock inevitably knocks a person to the ground and may induce urination, defecation or unconsciousness.” (195)
From his own personal encounters with racism, to the hell of the Nazi death camps, to the reality of war, the global exploitation of the earth’s resources, and worldwide abuses of human rights, Gutierrez reminds us how the past haunts the present.
Gutierrez concludes the collection with a subject dear to me as a poet and writer: “The Power of the Pen.” From a review of Howard Zinn’s The Zinn Reader, he moves on to the teaching of the humanities in college, fiction, war poems, the concept of “Us” versus “Them”, our mother earth as a living vital force, and finally poetry as both a prophetic and an humanitarian response to the dark side of human nature. He takes us full circle with the Occupy Movement.
Dozens of books on American imperialist foreign policy and corporate greed have been written. Some of them may seem general and abstract, and in Gutierrez’s collection of essays in Feeling the Unthinkable, he reviews a number of those books. Many Americans prefer not to think about the abuses of power by its government, and who can blame them, but reading Gutierrez, we feel our humanity rise, to extend it in empathy toward the victims of American foreign policy, and to know that it is our common humanity that binds us together. This is the gift of Gutierrez’s collection of essays in Feeling the Unthinkable.
Donald Gutierrez was a member of the University of Notre Dame English Department faculty from 1968 to 1975, then joined the English Department at Western New Mexico University in Silver City. He retired from WNMU in 1994 and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife Marlene Zander Gutierrez. He received a “New Mexico Eminent Scholar Award” in 1989. Gutierrez has published six books of literary criticism, two of which focus on D. H. Lawrence and one on Kenneth Rexroth. He has published over fifty essays and reviews, most of which concern social justice and American state terrorism abroad.
Reviewed by J. Glenn Evans, poet, novelist, activist, and founding director of PoetsWest
1100 University St. #17A
Seattle WA 98101
Commentary by Bryce Phillips (a SAFE Member)
SAFE’s roots are in the Occupy movement which emerged in 2011. The roots of SAFE can also be found in struggles of workers and the unemployed in the 1930s, where eviction blockades and move back-ins were common. There was a moratorium on bank evictions in 25 states and struggles for civil rights, racial and gender equality, free speech, protecting the environment, and peace that continue to this day. It can be found in the movement to confront the World Trade Organization, and the increasing unchecked power of corporations and financial institutions over our lives. SAFE is directly inspired and informed by the struggle of City Life/Vida Urbana in Boston for the rights of tenants and “bank tenants”— those of us who pay our hard earned money to the parasitic banks to continue to live in our homes.
The Occupy movement exploded worldwide in a matter of days, it was a great spectacle that challenged the oppressive status quo in the streets and in the realm of ideas. The scope was enormous and the location, goals, and direction rather vague. There was an exciting but unrealistic sense that we could change the world overnight by sheer outpouring of emotion. It was a spark that burned bright but burned out quick. SAFE emerged from the embers as an organization dedicated to the long, arduous task of waging the battle on a daily basis. Confronting the biggest threat to our communities—especially on Beacon Hill in Seattle where SAFE began—displacement.
The vision is to come together and build community in our communities amongst a great diversity of race, ethnicity, age, religion, and to organize a spirited defense of that community from the forces that seek to destroy it. Jane Jin Mair came to Beacon Hill from China where she fought for human rights and marched in Tiananmen Square. As the only English-speaker in her family, she manages the finances—that of her sister and mother. Bank of America has exploited and taken advantage of Jane’s family at every turn, harassing them with phone calls, losing their paperwork, and trying to take away the home they have worked so hard for. Those “bloodsuckers” as Jane aptly describes them, have no right! BofA happens to have a branch located only a block away from the home of Jane’s sister right on North Beacon Hill. This is exactly the kind of fight SAFE was made for!
On a daily basis, working people in the Beacon Hill community come to that Bank of America to deposit their paychecks and probably to have confusing and infuriating conversations about their accounts and mortgages as well—in a word to get ripped off. Even most of the bank employees know the fraud and duplicity of their employer, they see it firsthand. Beacon Hill has been waiting for a fighter like Jane and an organization like SAFE to lead the way. This is where real community organizing takes place. Are things going on in legislatures and courts important, yes, it is at the community level however where the big changes take place. Across America and in Seattle in particular, there is a crisis of displacement from the city. Thousands of homes sit empty, more than even the growing amount of people sleeping on the streets.
Rents jump as much as 40 percent in a single year while the City of Seattle tears down a livable housing project that served those in need since the 1930’s to make way for yet another playground of wealthy developers. Will Seattle be a city of walkable, livable, diverse communities we find on Beacon Hill, or will it become a soulless corporate office park and upscale shopping mall? We will be putting Bank of America on notice! If they wish to continue doing business in this community they need to stop destroying it! Join us; together we can create a livable community one neighborhood at a time!
Wednesday Sept. 25th 2:00 PM – Seattle City Council Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee Meeting – Chair Nick Licata and all the committee members need to hear our battles, demands and solutions. Show up at 1:45 to sign up for public testimony; each person gets 2 minutes. This week’s agenda, click here. Council Chambers, Seattle City Hall, Floor 2, 600 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104. Meeting is held every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.
Thursday Sept. 26th 4:00 PM – Chase Picket for Alton and Demand Delivery in West Seattle at the Junction. Contact Sonia Hoglander for more information Sonia@HomEvo.com
Friday Sept. 27th 4:00 PM – Beacon Hill Picket at BofA for Jane – meet at Red Apple on Beacon Hill at 4PM. We will be picketing BofA for 45 minutes. Contact Bryce Phillips for more information. email@example.com
SAVE the Date, Oct 26th – Halloween Party – This is to celebrate our successes. We are chasing out the ghosts and goblins of the banking industry. Let us shine the magical light of truth on the shadow economy and take back the power for the people. They lock their doors, they flail about trying to quiet our voices, they are indignant that we fight back AND WE are RIGHT! Those moments, those looks on their faces are better than any costume we could dream up. They are losing and we are the champions of the world! More details to come! Sheri bottom-lining; contact her to help. firstname.lastname@example.org
THIS PAST WEEK
Lobbying Training Friday Sept. 6th – Nancy Amidei gave training on how to Lobby, this was amazingly informative and on the heels of Strategic Planning will help us formulate a comprehensive plan of attack. Eminent Domain, Eviction Moratorium, Principle Reduction, Debt Forgiveness, whatever, you gotta know the game to win the game.
September 11th – Seattle City Council Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee Meeting – Washington CAN (Reset Seattle) and SAFE filled the chambers to give testimony regarding foreclosure and eviction travesties in the Seattle area. Cornell University law school professor Robert Hockett delivered the astounding report about the state of housing in Seattle, “Post-Bubble Foreclosure-Prevention and -Mitigation Options in Seattle” pdf
September 13th – Demand Delivery for Alton who is suing Chase for non-good faith negotiation during mediation. Document & Demand Delivery for Jane fighting for fairness with BofA. We delivered with great gusto at both locations, Beacon Hill was especially busy this Friday afternoon, many took notice; even tellers gave us the fist up approval. Chase at Othello Station is a good place for a future Banner Drop for rush hour commuters. Follow up pickets are scheduled for the 26th (Alton) and 27th (Jane).
COME TO OUR WEEKLY MEETING
Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (corner of Graham St). All are welcome! This is where we bring new participants and have free attorneys available from time to time. Find out what SAFE is about and what we are working on. Our objective is to end bank evictions through mutual aid and direct action with homeowners/bank tenants that are fighting the banks to stay in their homes. This is the first step to getting involved!
Angeline Thomas from Seattle University Law School will with us on the 8th to answer questions.
QUESTIONS & COMMENTS
You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125. Please visit our web site: www.SAFEinSeattle.org .
Farmworker Women Battle for Workers’ Rights and Dignity
Saturday, Aug. 24, 7:30pm
Northwest Harvest Buffet 6:00pm
New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle
Sponsored by Radical Women
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!
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.
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.
Democratic Representatives Adam Smith, Derek Kilmer, Rick Larsen, and Dennis Heck voted with 134 Republicans to help defeat the Amash Amendment to shutter the NSA’s surveillance function. (Boo!)
Jim McDermott and Suzan DeBene voted FOR the amendment. (Hurray!)
“A majority of Democrats, 111, voted for Amash’s amendment despite the full court press while 83 Democrats voted no. The GOP vote was 94-134.”
Now for the Republican representatives. McMorris Rogers voted FOR the amendment. Doc Hastings voted against the amendment, as did Dave Reichert.
Herrera Beutler did not cast a vote.