News

February 21, 2017

Together LA Goes to Bat for Tax Exemption Accountability

Eight months after their victory in reforming the state Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP), leaders of Together Louisiana noticed that industrial tax exemptions spiked 341% in its last year (2016), with the majority of tax exemptions granted after the reforms passed.  They additionally noticed that the Commerce and Industry Board reversed the wording of the measure to undermine the reform that would have limited exemptions to proposals that had secured the approval of the local municipalities sacrificing the revenue.

Unsatisfied with the explanation that the 2016 reforms were not to touch applications already in the works, leaders held a press conference calling on the Governor to enact stricter rules and to reinstate the changes that would protect local tax revenues.

Together Louisiana Protests Industrial Tax Exemption Program, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

The Ship is Not Turning: Status Update on Gov. Edwards’ Effort to Reform the Industrial Tax Exemption Program, Together Louisiana


February 17, 2017

VOICE Fights for Oklahoma State Payday Lending Reform

When Angela Basse, a youth coordinator and leader with St. Charles Borromeo Catholic, was a pre-teen she saw firsthand the toxic effects of payday lending on family life.  ”At the time they were made to look simple,” she said, but “we missed out on book fairs in schools, field trips at school, because we didn’t have the income. Because we knew that we were having to pay back loans.”

She was joined by other leaders of VOICE in support of legislation that would curb the worst effects of the payday lending industry in the state including caps on interest rates and limits to the number of times a loan can be rolled over.

Said Rev. Dr. Mitch Randall of Northaven Church in Norman, “As a disciple of Jesus, when we fail to protect the poor from loan sharks swimming in our communities and the halls of our Capitol, then we are failing the poor. We are also failing Jesus.”

[Photo Credit: Oklahoma City Free Press]

Payday Loans Called ‘Predatory’ by Group Seeking Reform, Oklahoma City Free Press


February 10, 2017

MACG & Allies Secure Tenant Relocation Assistance in Portland

As part of a larger strategy to secure affordable housing options in Portland, Oregon, leaders of the Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good (MACG) and allies secured unanimous passage of an emergency tenant relocation assistance ordinance, persuading an “on the fence” Commissioner to support the measure.  Seventy-five MACG leaders packed City Hall chambers, with direct views of the commissioners as they voted.

Three MACG leaders testified in support; one read a statement from a St. Andrew parish leader who had been prepared to speak, but stayed home due to recent ICE activity in the city.

The new temporary law requires that Portland landlords pay $2,900 – $4,500 to tenants who are evicted without cause or have to move as a result of a +10% rent increase.  Leaders see the approval of this temporary measure has a critical step toward providing immediate relief.  The plan now is to target the state legislature to pass Just Cause Eviction and Rent Stabilization legislation this year.

Testimony: Dr. Luis Manriquez, Portland Primary Care Doctor

Testimony: Gillian Weisgram, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church

Testimony: Ofelia Chavez, St. Andrew Catholic Church (read by Megan Kidd, People-Places-Things)

Photos


February 10, 2017

NCG Secures City of Henderson’s Support for Meals Proposal

Nevadans for the Common Good‘s efforts to significantly increase state funding for “Meals on Wheels,’ a meal delivery program targeted at vulnerable seniors, secured support from the Henderson City Council.

The city said it supports NCG’s call for a $5 million increase for a two-year period. The governor’s budget currently calls for a $1.5 million increase.

At current funding levels, the program is reported to provide more than 300 Henderson seniors +112,000 meals per year.  However, a city spokesperson reports that nearly 300 seniors are on the waiting list.

“What was the special session (the Legislature) had all about?” asked NCG leader Barbara Paulsen… “We committed $750 million to build a stadium. I think we can give $5 million to feed hungry seniors.”

[In photo, Jan Merino, of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church  in Henderson, cheers at NCG accountability assembly.  Photo Credit: David Guzman, View]

Henderson City Council Backs Push to Boost State Funding for Meal Delivery ProgramLas Vegas Review-Journal [pdf]

NonProfit to Push State Legislature to Boost Budget for Meals on Wheels, Las Vegas Review Journal

Previous press


February 7, 2017

Valley Interfaith Priest Concerned That SB4 Can Empower Cartels

Following a press conference in which leaders of the Texas IAF Network of Organizations joined the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops to oppose the anti-sanctuary cities bill, SB4, Fr. Kevin Collins of St. Eugene’s de Mazenod Catholic Church and Valley Interfaith in Brownsville had more to say.

“If you cannot trust the police, who can you turn to?”  Collins argues that one unintended consequence of SB4 becoming a law is that organized crime will become more powerful if community policing is diminished by lack of trust.

According to written testimony by Bishop Jose Vasquez, speaking on behalf of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, “The Catholic Church has a long history of involvement in the immigration issue….we reject the premise that persons who are merely suspected of being undocumented should be rounded up by state and local police agents.  The primary duty of state and local law enforcement is to enforce state and local law with the aim of protecting communities from those who seek to harm others.”

Bishop Joe Vasquez’s submitted testimony has been published by the Rio Grande Guardian and is part of the article below. Valley Interfaith is part of the

[Photo Credit: Steve Taylor, Rio Grande Guardian]

Valley Priest: Anti-Sanctuary Cities Bill Could End Up Empowering Drug CartelsRio Grande Guardian [pdf]

Texas Interfaith Leaders Take a Stand Against SB4KXAN [pdf]

Local Organizations Stand Against Sanctuary Cities BillKEYE

Press ReleaseTexas Catholic Conference of Bishops


February 6, 2017

VOICE Holds School Board Chair Candidates Accountable

Even on Superbowl Sunday, over two hundred adult leaders of VOICE participated in an accountability assembly for school board candidates.  Three candidates for the position of Board Chair of Oklahoma City Public Schools participated in the assembly, which highlighted personal stories from VOICE leaders and pointed questions about what candidates plan to do.

VOICE to Hold OKCPS Board Chair Candidates Accountability Session, The City Sentinel


February 6, 2017

NCG Recognized for Education Organizing in Southern Nevada

When news of the potential closure of Fremont Middle School emerged, parents and teachers at Fremont reached out to ‘Nevadans for the Common Good‘ and nearby Christ Church Episcopal Lutheran Church.  Through community conversations, leaders are exploring the causes of the potential closure, its potential impacts on students and families and potential alternatives.

NCG leaders are additionally pressing on the Nevada state legislature to fund the weighted student funding formula.

[Photo Credit: Daniel Clark, Las Vegas Review-Journal]

CCSD and Fremont Middle School Start to Communicate on Potential School Closure, Downtown News

Parents Pursue Alternatives as Fremont School Faces Closure in Las Vegas, Las Vegas Review- Journal

Education Topics Will Tug Hard on Nevada Purse Strings When Legislature Convenes, Las Vegas Review Journal

Indy Explains: Southern Nevada Education Groups, Nevada Independent


February 3, 2017

Texas IAF Network Joins Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops in Stand Against Anti-Immigrant Bill SB4

Said Bishop Joe Vásquez, on behalf of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, “We reject the premise that persons who are merely suspected of being undocumented immigrants should be rounded up by state and local police agents.”

“This bill requires local police and sheriff’s deputies to enforce federal immigration laws as if their job of maintaining public order and the public safety weren’t difficult enough as it is,” said John Elford, senior pastor of University United Methodist Church and member of Austin Interfaith.

[In photo, Austin Catholic Bishop Joe Vasquez speaks, surrounded by religious leaders of the Network of Texas IAF Organizations.]

Click on Rio Grande Guardian article below to see written testimony by Bishop Joe Vasquez.

Texas Interfaith Leaders Take a Stand Against SB4KXAN [pdf]

Valley Priest: Anti-Sanctuary Cities Bill Could End Up Empowering Drug Cartels, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]

Local Organizations Stand Against Sanctuary Cities Bill, KEYE

CLC Urges Lawmakers to Reject ‘Anti-Sanctuary City’ Legislation, Baptist Standard [pdf]

Testimony by Reverend John Elford, Austin Interfaith, Network of Texas IAF Organizations

Press Release, Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops


February 2, 2017

TBR Congratulates Mayor for Use-of-Force Policy Overhaul

When Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s announcement of an overhaul of the police department’s use-of-force policies, Together Baton Rouge expressed pride in the role they played in its development and extended public congratulations.  The organization claims that with the announced changes, the Baton Rouge Police Department’s (BRPD) go “from being among the weakest 30% of cities in the nation to being among the strongest 7% in terms of alignment with national best practices.”

Together Baton Rouge leaders are continuing their work on law enforcement practices, including the recent release of a study on neighborhood disparities in drug possession enforcement.

BRPD Union: No Ill Effects from Sharon Weston Broome’s ‘Common Sense’ Use-Of-Force Policy Additions, The Advocate

TBR Statement of Support, Together Baton Rouge


February 2, 2017

VIP & Arizona Interfaith Continue Fight for Public School Funding

In 2016, VIP and Arizona Interfaith leaders led the fight for school and health funding for Arizona children, both for Kidcare (children’s health insurance) and school finance in key legislative districts, including District 28 in North Phoenix and Paradise Valley, District 6 in Flagstaff and District 1 in Prescott.

As part of the statewide effort to reverse disinvestment in Arizona public schools, two teachers presented Governor Doug Ducey with a joint statement calling for increases in teachers’ salaries.  The joint statement was supported and signed by leaders of Arizona Interfaith, nonprofits and state associations of educators, business, administrators and PTAs.

Education Advocates Urge Governor, Legislators, to Make Teachers’ Pay Raises a Priority, Arizona Education News


February 1, 2017

Southern Arizona Religious Leaders Sign Joint Statement Opposing Discrimination

More than 60 Southern Arizona religious leaders gathered on short notice to sign a joint statement expressing opposition to presidential executive orders banning the admission of select refugees and calling for the construction of a border wall.

Initially convened by Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas, with support from Southern Arizona Interfaith and Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization, clergy from Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Sikh backgrounds participated in the preparation of the joint statement.  105 religious leaders from 57 congregations ultimately signed on.

SAI and PCIC leaders are working to organize meetings with Arizona senators and Congressional Representatives.

Original Statement

Southern Arizona Religious Leaders Vow to Support Migrants, Refugees, Arizona Daily Star


January 31, 2017

Albuquerque Interfaith Advances Alliance School Strategy

Following last year’s victory in helping pass a $575 Million bond package for local public schools, just part of the $2.5 Billion Albuquerque Interfaith has helped leverage since 2002, leaders are now fighting to implement school reforms.

120 leaders assembled with 11 of 16 Albuquerque Public School board candidates for a civic academy on Alliance Schools, small group conversations and pointed questions to the candidates about supporting the development of Alliance Schools in the district.  To the person, each of the participating candidates pledged to directly support Alliance Schools and to help build support with the Superintendent.

Group Gathers for Accountability Meeting with APS Board Candidates, FOX-KEQE


January 30, 2017

NCG Advances Issue of Funding for Meals On Wheels in Nevada

In response to public pressure about Meals on Wheels by ‘Nevadans for the Common Good‘, Henderson and Boulder City Councils approved resolutions urging the Nevada state legislature and Governor Brian Sandoval to increase state funding for the program by $5 million every two years.  Already, the Governor is responding by including $1.5 million in his budget proposal for the food program, a +100% over current funding levels.  Leaders are pushing for more.

Said Councilmember Duncan McCoy, “I think in a state where our legislatures can have a serious discussion about spending hundreds of millions on a football field they can use millions of dollars to feed the elderly.”

Council OKs Plan to Become More Financially Sound, Boulder City Review [pdf]

Henderson City Council Backs Push to Boost State Funding for Meal Delivery Program, Las Vegas Review-Journal [pdf]

Photos from assembly


January 24, 2017

DAI Credited with Blocking Payday Lending in Arlington, TX

[Excerpt below from page 81]

“Catholic congregations and leaders …were central in the push for payday lending reform in nearby Arlington.   Father Daniel Kelley of St. Joseph Catholic Church was particularly influential.  In addition, the Texas Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of Texas’ Catholic bishops, worked directly on payday lending reform at the state and local level, and also participated in Dallas Area Interfaith and Faith Leaders for Fair Lending.

Hearing stories from borrowers who sought assistance from Catholic charitable organizations helped generate interest in the payday issue among Catholic leaders.  The religion’s long‐standing antipathy to usury provided these leaders with a ready‐made framework for opposing payday loans….”

Power of Community Action: Anti-Payday Loan Ordinances in Three Metropolitan Areas, University of Utah & University of New Mexico


January 23, 2017

MOC Confronts Deportation & Eviction Threats to Immigrants

MOC Confronts Deportation, Eviction Threats
Fierce winter rains were not enough to stop over 300 leaders of Marin Organizing Committe from convening to discuss the dual threats many immigrants face: deportation and loss of housing.

Leaders broke into small group meetings at San Rafael Catholic Church to share stories of deportation threats, surprise evictions (including a mother evicted 5 days after giving birth), and rents increased five times within one year, often after tenants complained about a stove burner not working or mold on the carpet.

MOC will host a follow up renters’ protections study session to explore potential responses.  Elected officials in attendance, including newly elected Supervisor Dennis Rodoni and San Rafael Police Chief Diana Bishop, committed to supporting initiatives to address the issues unearthed in the conversations.

[Photo Credit: Christina Gray, Catholic San Francisco]

San Rafael Immigrants Coping with Dual Threats of Deportation, Homelessness, Marin Independent Journal [pdf]

Hundreds Turn Out to Support Immigrants on Inauguration Week, Catholic San Francisco [pdf]

The Power of a Story: Organizing Students Attend Marin Action, Church Divinity School of the Pacific [pdf]

More Photos


January 18, 2017

OTOC Calls on Congress to Replace ACA Before Repealing It

Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) leaders and Nebraska allies convened at the Capitol to call on their congressional representatives to replace the Affordable Care Act before repealing it.  Said Mary Spurgeon, “to repeal the ACA without an as-good-as-or-better plan immediately replacing it would be an immoral act against both individual well-being and the common good of this nation.”

Referencing Catholic Social Teaching, the Methodist Book of Discipline and Lutheran social  statements, Spurgeon announced that OTOC “does not care who [a new health plan] is named after,” it just needs to be in place before withdrawing currently available healthcare options.

Video Here


January 15, 2017

Archbishop Flores Remembered for Support of COPS & More

When Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Flores died, stories about his life and legacy as the first Mexican-American Catholic bishop quickly surfaced.

Andy Sarabia, founding president of COPS, remembered that even when the organization held controversial actions like tying up bank tellers with thousands of pennies on paydays in order to secure a meeting with the bank president, the Bishop “…stood by us, during all those confrontational years.”

[In photo, Bishop Flores speaks about homelessness in San Antonio at COPS convention in 1988.  Photo Credit: John Davenport]

Flores’ Farewell Won’t Likely Include Every Good Story, San Antonio Express News [pdf]


January 11, 2017

Spokane Alliance & Allies Victorious in School Bullying Action

Following almost nine weeks of pressure from Spokane Alliance members and allies, the Spokane Public Schools (SPS) school board unanimously voted to make a public statement on recent school bullying that included four key points leaders advocated for:  reaffirmation of the district’s commitment to respect all students; commitment to swift enforcement of harassment, intimidation and bullying; contact information for those needing to report incidents; and the context of the divisive year in politics.

Leaders testifying at the school board meeting were supported by dozens of parents and community leaders inspiring one leader to “want to cry to see so many parents standing up together for children.”

Spokane School Board Reaffirms Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion Following Reports of Harassment Following Trump’s Election Win, Spokesman-Review

Parents Call for Spokane Public Schools to Address Trump Inspired Bullying, Inlander

Full SPS Board Statement


December 19, 2016

Working Together Jackson Fights for Green Space to Replace Blight on University Campus

When new dormitory construction stalled for four years, 25 abandoned homes on campus at Jackson State University became host to activity negatively impacting neighbors, including St. Mark’s Episcopal Church next door. Leaders began talking to congregants and neighbors and together, with other institutions of Working Together Jackson, are now demanding that in the absence of moving forward with the development, that at minimum the university foundation should pay for the demolition of the abandoned housing and replace it with green space.

Said Rev. Luther Ott of St. Marks, ” “Those of us who live and work in inner cities know abandoned houses are not abandoned….It’s only a matter of time until we’re going to a funeral.”

[Photo Credit: Justin Sellers, Clarion-Ledger]

JSU Development Stalls; Neighborhood Tired of Blight, Clarion-Ledger [pdf]


December 15, 2016

COPS / Metro Compels Accountability for Housing Bond

As the City of San Antonio’s first ever housing bond moved forward, COPS / Metro Alliance leaders pressed for accountability, arguing that the current structure of the bond excludes the concerns of long-time residents of San Antonio.  Leaders are fighting so that some funding can be directed to the rehabilitation of aging homes, multi-family housing that includes a mix of market, workforce and affordable rental rates, as well as guidelines to address questions of what kinds of developers and developments get funded.   Leaders challenged the mayor and city council to gather stakeholders to address these issues before the proposal goes to the voters.

Within hours, in response, the City Council voted to create an oversight committee to track development of the housing bond.

[Photo Credit: Carolyn Van Houten, San Antonio Express-News]

Council Creates Housing Bond Oversight Committee, San Antonio Express News

New Committee Will Oversee Housing Bond, Rivard Report

Council, Community Push for Accountability on Housing Bond, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]

City: Housing Bond Needs Clarified Plan, More Citizen Oversight, Rivard Report [pdf]

COPS / Metro Alliance Concerned with Housing Bond, Nowcast SA

Piden se Analice el Bono de Mejoramiento de Vecindarios de 2017, Univision


December 14, 2016

One LA Reaches Milestone Healthcare Enrollment of 146,000, Celebrates Expansion of Enrollment to 54,000 More!


Before a packed audience of 200 health care leaders and Dr. Mitch Katz, Director of the LA County Department of Health, One LA celebrated the milestone enrollment of 146,000 Los Angeles residents into My Health LA, 8,000 of whom were enrolled by One LA leaders themselves at their institutions. My Health LA is a program One LA leaders compelled the County to create to cover undocumented residents and leaders ultimately secured an additional $6 million in funding and negotiated an agreement from LA County to conduct healthcare enrollment at One LA member institutions.  350 trained leaders held over 100 events to enroll the 8,000 residents.

At the celebration, Dr. Katz agreed to authorize funding to expand healthcare enrollments to reach an additional 54,000 residents!


December 14, 2016

DAI Weighs In On Appointment of New Catholic Bishop in Dallas

When Pope Francis announced the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, Bishop Edward Burns, DAI expressed eagerness to work with him. Said lead organizer Josephine Lopez-Paul, “His attention and care to the immigrant community will be very critical. Farrell focused on building bridges between communities, and we need that to continue.”

[Photo Credit: Ben Torres, Dallas Morning News]

Pope Picks Bishop from Alaska to Lead Diocese of Dallas, Dallas Morning News


December 8, 2016

Front Range / Denver IAF Effort Builds Momentum

On a bitterly cold December evening in Denver, over 100 leaders from 19 diverse institutions gathered at Cleaves Memorial CME Church to pledge their time, money and talent to a new IAF presence in Colorado. Leaders from synagogues, labor unions, neighborhood associations and mainline denominations came together to share stories and build momentum for 2017. Institutions committed to investing nearly $60,000 for the new year and to sending 65 leaders to an upcoming leadership training at Regis University.


November 28, 2016

Marin Organizing Committee Credited with Creating REST and for Building Power to Expand It

42 churches, synagogues and nonprofits will participate in the  Rotating Emergency Shelter Team (REST) this year, providing temporary shelter as well as meals shared between providers and homeless participants.  The Marin Independent Journal credits the Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) for establishing the program nine years ago and for continuing to building power to expand its reach.

Says leader Pat Langley, a parishioner at St. Anselm Church in Ross, “We haven’t run out of gas!” Langley explained that just this year, MOC signed up 8,500 Marin residents who support the creation of a new year-round shelter for the homeless.  Leaders furthermore secured, through non-partisan accountability assemblies, pledges of support from Dennis Rodoni, who was elected to the Marin County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 8, and supervisors Kate Sears and Katie Rice, who secured re-election in June.

The search for a politically viable site for year-round housing remains strong.

[Photo Credit: Jocelyn Knight, Marin Independent Journal]

Marin’s Homeless Thankful for Shelter Program, Now in its Ninth Year, Marin Independent Journal [pdf]

Marin IJ Editorial: REST Shelter is Up and Running Again, Marin Independent Journal


November 18, 2016

Together Baton Rouge Grills Candidates on Law Enforcement, Tax Exemptions, Flood Relief & ‘Food Deserts’

In an assembly drawing about one thousand Together Baton Rouge leaders, the organization challenged runoff candidates on a number of issues, eliciting commitments from candidates for City Mayor and Metro Council 10 & 12 positions.  The organization live-streamed the assembly which drew residents from across the city.  The most contentious of the requests for commitments includes finding $1.5 Million to help finance a grocery store in neighborhoods where none exists, and around law enforcement.  Together is calling on the city for more minority hires, an independent monitor for the Police Department, reforming use-of-force policies, higher pay, better training and addressing the ‘history of discriminatory arrest patterns in Baton Rouge.”

Together Baton Rouge Grills Candidates on Law Enforcement, Tax Exemptions, Flood Relief and Addressing ‘Food Deserts,’ The Advocate

Together BR 2016 Citizens Assembly with City Parish Candidates [video], Together Baton Rouge


November 17, 2016

400 DAI Leaders Leverage Commitments from Dallas Police Chief

Hundreds of leaders of Dallas Area Interfaith assembled at Temple of Faith CME to address issues of neighborhood safety: police protocol on traffic stops, wage theft, thousands of feral dogs, and hot spots for drugs and prostitution. Confronted with hundreds from the community, Interim Police Chief David Pughes committed to developing a bilingual video on proper protocol that can be shown in congregations and to fundamentally changing how police handle wage theft — recognizing theft of service as a criminal matter and not a civil one. Leader after leader told personal stories about unfairly being treated as criminals during traffic stops and when reporting crimes.

At one point, addressing immigrants in the packed room, Pughes said “we don’t want to be immigration police.” The chief additionally committed to working with leaders to address three areas in the city that see high level of drugs and prostitution, as well as developing a plan for the 8,000 feral dogs roaming neighborhood streets.

Dallas Leaders Hold Police-Community Relations Discussion, FOX 4 News

Dallas Police, Critics Square Off in Forum, CBS DFW


November 17, 2016

Albuquerque Interfaith Addresses Fear Caused by Campaign, Builds Power for Local Issues

In an effort to build a constituency for mental health, to rebuild a comprehensive system, Albuquerque Interfaith convened close to 300 leaders from 28 institutions (15 member and 13 allied) to secure commitments from elected officials.

After one governor privatized Medicaid in New Mexico and another diminished mental health care provision in the state, mental healthcare services for low-income people in Bernalillo County required attention.  In 2015, Albuquerque Interfaith leaders succeeded in securing the approval of a 1/8-cent sales tax, which raised over $6.5 million in new funds for mental healthcare services.  Now leaders want a comprehensive and integrated system in place to address the mental and behavioral healthcare crisis.

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, District Attorney-elect Raul Torrez, and State Auditor Tim Keller made public commitments to work with Albuquerque Interfaith to advance their agenda on mental health.  County Commissioner Maggie Hart-Stebbins, a champion of the 1/8-cent sales tax, pledged to continue working with the organization.

Immediately after, 150 leaders took to the podium to address fears caused by the rhetoric of the campaign and to pledge to stand with each other across racial, religious and socioeconomic lines.

[Photo Credit: Adolphe Pierre-Louise, Albuquerque Journal]

Interfaith Group Shares Concern After Election, Albuquerque Journal

Nonprofits, Schools, and Religious Groups Calling for Peace, KOAT Channel 7

Albuquerque Interfaith Members React to Election of Trump, Albuquerque Journal [Video]


November 10, 2016

One LA Takes on LA Traffic & WINS $120 Billion Bond Election

Building on a four-year campaign, One LA leaders and their allies shaped, pushed for and passed Measure M to raise $120 Billion for new rail lines, improved bus services, and street and highway projects which will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and make finding and getting to a job easier for working poor families across LA County.

Passing this bond measure required meeting a challenging two-thirds voter threshold for approval.  This extraordinary victory took a county-wide education and mobilization of non-traditional allies crossing significant geographic, racial, religious and socioeconomic lines.

In addition to building a strong and diverse coalition of support, One LA led an action at the LA County Board of Supervisors that succeeded in putting the measure on the November ballot..

Leaders subsequently educated more than 500 voters through civic academies hosted at 8 One LA member congregations strategically positioned across LA County.  Civic academies, taught by leaders, included information about LA City Measure HHH — which will fund the construction of 8,000 to 10,000 units of safe, clean affordable housing for the homeless — as well as about Propositions 55 for education funding and 57 for criminal justice reform.  75 precinct walkers targeted key swing precincts knocking on over 1,000 doors.  Leaders then followed up with more than 500 phone calls.

“This is why a broad-based organization like One LA exists: not only to build a consensus among tens of thousands of voters across a county as large as Los Angeles, but to do so through trusted institutions and deep face-to-face engagement,“ said Rabbi Ken Chasen of Leo Baeck Temple. “During the development of this measure and during GOTV, we worked to build consensus across geographic and demographic lines which historically have been difficult to bridge in our segregated county.”

Click here to see press release


October 31, 2016

COPS/Metro Fights for SAISD Children with $450 Million Bond

Only one month after raising municipal wages for the second year in a row in San Antonio, COPS / Metro is now fighting to leverage necessary funding for school improvements…$450 Million, to be precise.  Elaine Ayala of the San Antonio Express-News reported that two weekends before Election Day, dozens of COPS / Metro leaders block walked  – asking voters to scroll to the end of the ballot to the last two measures.  Leader Maria Tijerina explained that TRE funds would support after-school, summer and enrichment programs, freeing up money to help the district reach the $15 / hour wage they are fighting for.

In addition to deputizing registrars and registering hundreds of new voters since August, leaders organized three parish-level accountability sessions with candidates for school board and state house legislative positions.

COPS / Metro Focused on Bottom Ballot Issues, SAISD’s Children, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]

COPS Using Powerful Acronym to Help SAISD Kids in Election, KENS 5

Lideres Religiosos Recordaran La Importancia de Ir a Votar En Sus Sermones, Univision

Abandoned House Causing Alarm as Winter Approaches, FOX News

South San Antonio ISD Candidates Answer Questions from Voters, FOX News


October 28, 2016

TMO Celebrates its Past to Shape the Future of Houston

TMO celebrated its founding members with special guest Daniel Cardinal DiNardo in a celebration dinner designed to highlight the organization’s achievements, honor the leaders made those achivements happen and introduce the next generation of leaders.  Cardinal DiNardo of the Catholic Diocese of Galveston-Houston praised the work of TMO and the Gulf Coast Leadership Council while challenging TMO to continue its work in the future.

In photo, Cardinal DiNardo stands with past and present leaders of TMO.

More photos

Celebration Program

Celebration Awards


October 28, 2016

Together Louisiana Codifies Tax Exemption Rule Changes

Thanks to consistent pressure from Together Louisiana and allies, industrial tax exemption reforms were codified into state rules.

Says Together Baton Rouge (part of the Together Louisiana network): “These reforms haven’t gone far enough yet, but what has changed already on Louisiana’s biggest corporate subsidy program is historic.

For the first time in 80 years, companies will now have to create jobs to be eligible for exemptions. And the local communities paying for the exemptions will get to decide whether they are granted.”

Lucrative Tax Breaks for Industrial Manufacturers in Louisiana to be Clarified, The Advocate


October 27, 2016

‘Nevadans for the Common Good’ Holds Candidate Forum

Over 200 leaders of Nevadans for the Common Good invited candidates for office to an assembly in which well over 200 participated. Leaders secured commitments from federal, state, and local candidates to work with the organization to advance their agenda of issues on education, healthcare, and immigration.

Additional photos, NCG


October 24, 2016

Valley Interfaith Gets Out The Vote for Health District

Valley Interfaith leaders are changing hearts and minds about the creation of a health district by knocking on doors and telling their healthcare stories.  Catholics and Methodists are uniting, with reverends and veterans, all to make reality a community healthcare system for the Rio Grande Valley.

Says leader Eddie Anaya, “Valley Interfaith has long had a vision of a community …healthcare system that will take care of the most vulnerable — health care that will serve the uninsured, the elderly, our children and our working families.  We believe that an educated vote will result in the passing of Proposition 1.”

Prop 1 Supporters Work to Get Out The Vote, The Monitor [pdf]


October 24, 2016

Common Ground Challenges School Board Candidates in Vallejo

Well over one hundred leaders of Common Ground assembled with Vallejo City Unified School District candidates in the parish hall of St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic.  Leaders expressed a commitment to building constructive relationships for strong neighborhoods and schools.


October 23, 2016

One LA Gets Out The Vote for Los Angeles Public Transit Bond

“We came.  We knocked doors.  We registered.  We organized.” Following months of civic academies, in a long campaign to improve public transit in Los Angeles, while creating local jobs and preserving affordable housing, One LA leaders knocked on doors from South Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley to West LA and the San Fernando Valley.  Leaders are promoting a “yes” vote on Measure M, a ballot measure that they helped shape, in addition to other Propositions. Additional photos, One LA


October 21, 2016

COPA Secures County Support for Healthcare for Undocumented

Upon successful implementation of a pilot project providing healthcare for undocumented residents of Monterey County, COPA leaders took another major step forward, securing unanimous Board of Supervisor support to create an action team that will prepare and present a proposal back to the Board this spring.  This is an important preliminary step in securing Monterey County funds to ensure that all residents have access to quality, affordable healthcare regardless of immigration status.

In photo, Episcopal Bishop Mary Gray Reeves leads joint study session with Monterey County Board of Supervisors and COPA leadership on healthcare for undocumented residents.  [Photo Credit: Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real]

Condado de Monterey Busca Proveer Seguro Médico Completo Para Indocumentados, KION [pdf]

Agencias Realizaran Plan de Estudio que Busca Medical Para Indocumentados, Noticias Monterey-Salinas

County Will Pursue Health Care Program for Remaining Uninsured, To Convene Panel, Monterey Herald [pdf]

Update: Supes to Study Medically Uninsured, The Californian – USA Today [pdf]


October 17, 2016

OTOC Secures Congressional Pledge to End Detention of Immigrant Families & More

After 85 Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) religious leaders called on Congressperson Brad Ashford to end indefinite detention of women and children seeking political asylum, 350 leaders of Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) assembled to challenge congressional candidates Brad Ashford (incumbent) and Don Bacon to support the OTOC agenda regarding immigration reform, the death penalty and more.  Both candidates, including Ashford, committed to working to end the indefinite detention of Central American women and children.

Leaders also engaged candidates for the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) to secure commitments to work with the organization to move more quickly towards clean energy sources.

Ashford – Bacon Sound Off, KETV Channel 7

More Info


October 16, 2016

TMO Puts Law Enforcement Candidates Under the Spotlight

TMO leaders held an accountability session with candidates for Sheriff Ron Hickman and Ed Gonzalez, and District Attorney candidate Kim Ogg.  The candidates agreed to work with TMO to create a plan to reduce jail overcrowding, enhance deputy training, institute new bail reform measures, and oppose legislation forcing law enforcement officers to act as immigration agents.


October 16, 2016

Austin Interfaith Holds Accountability Assembly with Candidates

Hundreds of Austin Interfaith leaders convened at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in East Austin to call on candidates for City Council districts 2, 4, 6, 7, and 10 to support an agenda for families.

Austin Interfaith Holds City Council Candidate Forum, Time Warner Cable


October 13, 2016

AMOS Challenges Legislative Candidates Around Mental Health

After holding 200 house meetings involving thousands of Ankeny residents, hundreds of AMOS leaders told those stories to candidates for state legislative office and secured commitments from most of them on several mental health-related items.  Most candidates for Iowa House District 37 and House District 38 public committed to a) introduce legislation for the creation and funding of a loan-forgiveness program for mental care providers,  b) co-sponsor legislation to grant counties the local authority to adjust taxes for mental health services and c) participating in a mental health caucus in the upcoming session.

Clergy from a cross-section of denominations told powerful stories about the need for such services in their communities.  Leaders explained the correlation between financial insecurity and mental illness.

[Photo Credit: Linh Ta, Des Moines Register and AMOS]

Ankeny Candidates Agree to Support More Mental HealthCare Access, Des Moines Register

October 13, 2016

AMOS Challenges Legislative Candidates Around Mental Health

After holding 200 house meetings involving thousands of Ankeny residents, hundreds of AMOS leaders told those stories to candidates for state legislative office and secured commitments from most of them on several mental health-related items.  Most candidates for Iowa House District 37 and House District 38 public committed to a) introduce legislation for the creation and funding of a loan-forgiveness program for mental care providers,  b) co-sponsor legislation to grant counties the local authority to adjust taxes for mental health services and c) participating in a mental health caucus in the upcoming session.

Clergy from a cross-section of denominations told powerful stories about the need for such services in their communities.  Leaders explained the correlation between financial insecurity and mental illness.

Ankeny Candidates Agree to Support More Mental HealthCare AccessDes Moines Register


October 12, 2016

Dallas Area Interfaith & Allies Stall Mass Evictions in West Dallas

Within days of Dallas Area Interfaith’s (DAI) stunning housing code victory, the owner hundreds of single family rental homes in West Dallas, HMK,  sent eviction notices to 305 tenants ordering them to vacate the property by November.  Dallas Morning News accuses HMK of making the tenants “pawns in the company’s scorched-earth fight against tough new housing policies.”

DAI, in collaboration with the Wesley Rankin Community school and center, organized a meeting to brief hundreds of worried renters about their rights as tenants, the basics of eviction law and to pressure the City of Dallas to intervene on tenants’ behalf.  Mayor Pro Tem Monica Alonzo, along with the Assistant City Attorney, assured renters that extra-legal evictions would not be tolerated.

The next day, the State District Judge Ken Molberg ordered the Dallas landlord to temporarily halt the mass evictions.  Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings exhorted affected residents to keep trying to pay rent, and if refused by the office, to set the money aside for when it would be.

Mayor Mike Rawlings Feels ‘Sleazy’ After Recording of 2015 Meeting with West Dallas Landlords Posted Online, Dallas Morning News

Dallas Judge Temporarily Halts Mass EvictionWFAA

Hundreds Facing Eviction Scramble to Find HousingNBC-DFW

Dallas Must Not Let Callous Landlords WinDallas Morning News [pdf]

West Dallas Tenants Vent Fears of EvictionDallas Morning News [pdf]

Father and Son Accused of Being Dallas’ Most Prolific Slumlords are Evicting Tenants from 305 HomesDallas Morning News [pdf]

Families Confused, Unprepared for West Dallas Mass EvictionsDallas Morning News


October 11, 2016

TMO Fights Off Gentrification in Houston Neighborhood

TMO leaders of Resurrection Catholic Church won the first of two council votes to protect the Denver Harbor neighborhood from predatory development.  This council vote established Chapter 42 Minimum Lot Size protection for 100 properties in the Denver Harbor area, preventing the lots from being subdivided below the minimum prevailing lot size, as is often the practice when developers build multiple townhomes on what was originally a single residence.

Resurrection leaders visited 26 churches and held multiple meetings with over 200 residents just to begin this effort.  They then identified 800 properties for protection in three applications to the city.  All three applications for Chapter 42 were approved by the Planning Commission and sent to the City Council.  This was the first and smallest of the applications to pass.  The remaining two are being considered together and will come before council at a later date.  In the meantime, Resurrection leaders have targeted another application protecting 200 more properties.


October 11, 2016

Pima County Interfaith Blasts Candidates That Don’t Show Up

Starting with the question, “What happens to democracy if no one shows up?” leaders of Pima County Interfaith probed the long-term consequences of an increasingly common occurrence: incumbents and candidates simply turning down invitations to interact with the public.

Click below to read their Oped:

Opinion: What Happens to a Democracy if No One Shows Up? Arizona Daily Star


October 9, 2016

Colorado Leaders Bring Red Hot Patriot to Denver, Are Now $3,000 Closer to Fundraising Goal

As part of an effort to raise the funds required to build power, and have some fun at the same time, leaders of Colorado IAF, in partnership with the owner of the Clocktower Cabaret in Denver, brought the play, Red Hot Patriot: The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins to Denver for three nights. All proceeds of the Sunday night show were earmarked for the CO-IAF effort raising over $3,000.


October 7, 2016

NCLI Launches ACTS to Combat Poverty in Louisiana

With Louisiana as the state with the third highest number of poor people, many of them working full-time, Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith leaders are devising new ways to tackle poverty.  Says Pastor Clayton Moore, “If you work, how is it that you’re poor?”

NCLI leaders have launched Another Chance to Succeed (ACTS), modeling itself on Project QUEST in San Antonio and NOVA in Monroe, Louisiana.  The goal is to train adults into higher wage jobs of at least $15 / hour.  ACTS is targeting January 2017 as its start-up date.

Interfaith Fights Poverty with Workforce Training, KTBS


October 7, 2016

Pima County Interfaith, SAI & Allies Challenge Candidates for State Legislative and County Office

Over 500 local residents attended PCICEO‘s accountability assembly to challenge candidates for county and state office to support “Education and Economic Success for All.”  Republican and Democratic candidates for four Arizona legislative districts and two county districts were challenged to a series of specific questions around key priorities of the organization.  Issues covered include: education, hunger, SPICE (synthetic marijuana), JobPath workforce development funding, affordable housing and the impact of a $58 million bond for Amphi Unified School District.

The most electric story came from a woman whose son is addicted to a synthetic compound, SPICE.  Leaders challenged legislators to change the laws to “get this stuff out of the stores and smoke shops…[and] out of the hands of our children and neighbors!”

500 Question Candidates – Pledge Action, PCICEO


October 7, 2016

AMOS Leader Rev. Dr. Black Profiled for Legacy of Justice

[Excerpt]

The media ritual of the exit interview in which a journalist sits down for reflective conversation with a public figure leaving office or moving away shouldn’t be confined only to elected officials or CEOs.

The Rev. Brigitte Black has earned the same treatment after six years in Des Moines….

Black hasn’t been one of the names always emblazoned in headlines. But other community leaders increasingly identified her as an effective negotiator who was working consistently and with empathy behind the scenes, able to bridge divides among various factions.

Immediately after she hit town she spotted a story in the Des Moines Register with the headline, “Ministers to launch worker training program.” She was intrigued by Project IOWA, an effort to give hundreds of unemployed and underemployed workers the practical training and “soft skills” necessary to succeed. She leaves having become the chair of its board.

That move helped get her involved with a …coalition of local faith leaders known as AMOS – A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy.

She began to realize ways to act on her passion for juvenile justice even as Iowa was scrutinizing its status as one of the worst states for disproportionate rates of incarceration of African-Americans….

Read the rest of the profile below:

Rev. Black’s Life and Justice Work in Des Moines Have Mattered, Des Moines Register [pdf]


September 29, 2016

‘Nevadans for the Common Good’ Fights Funding of Stadium

Naming “seven hidden risks” that public funding of a new Adelson-backed Raiders’ stadium would bring to taxpayers, leaders of Nevadans for the Common Good publicly voiced their opposition to the plan with a well-attended press conference.  Read below for full coverage:

Opponents of Adelson-Backed Stadium Get Little Attention in Adelson-Owned Newspaper, Las Vegas Tribune

Politicians Place a Bet on a Stadium, and Vegas Pays For It, New York Times

Group Against Stadium Proposal Because It ‘Contains Unacceptable Level of Risk for Residents,’ Las Vegas Sun

Seven Hidden Risks in the Stadium Plan, Nevadans for the Common Good

Group Has Concerns About Funding for New NFL Stadium, CBS Channel 8

Critics Outline Raiders’ Stadium Objection, Las Vegas Review Journal

Two Nevada Groups Announce Opposition to Proposed Raiders Stadium in Las Vegas, Las Vegas Review Journal

Pair of County Commissioners, Uneasy About Stadium Plan, Las Vegas Sun


September 29, 2016

Together Louisiana & IAF Secure $500M in Flood Relief

Just days before Congress adjourns for October recess, the word among lobbyists was that a proposal for flood recovery funding for Louisiana would not even get a vote for inclusion in the continuing resolution (short term budget).  It was the last opportunity to secure funding for flood recovery before the lame duck session.

Then, according to Together Baton Rouge (TBR), sister IAF organizations across the country began contacting their congressional representatives and senators urging them to support the funding package — across partisan lines.  Together Baton Rouge posted a video that, in less than one day, was viewed 55,000 times as leaders quickly spread its message urging people to contact their congressional representatives.

48 hours after the funding was declared dead on arrival, the Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, threw his full support behind the funding and announced it would receive a vote.

At stake was tens of thousands of homes and potential foreclosures.

After more days of posturing, haggling and deal cutting, the Senate voted (72-26) in support of the Resolution and the House voted (342-85) in support.  TBR additionally credited the Louisiana Governor and congressional delegation for “working tirelessly across party lines to make the case for flood recovery.”  They also credited high-ranking House and Senate Democrat and Republic leaders for the win (see right).

How a Bill REALLY Becomes a Law, Together Baton Rouge

Congress Clears Bill to Prevent ShutdownPolitico

Congress Averts Shutdown with $500M Flood Aid Plan, Billed as ‘Down Payment’ for LouisianaThe Advocate

U.S. Senate Leaders Propose $500M ‘Down Payment’ on Louisiana Flood ReliefThe Advocate

Great Flood of 2016 and What We Need to RebuildTogether Baton Rouge


September 29, 2016

DAI Leaders Secure Strongest Tenant Protections in Texas

With three asthmatic children in the family, Patricia Vega (in photo above) was constantly on the lookout for mold.  ”Every time we move, we think it gets better, but it does not.”  Realizing that the Dallas housing code enforcement offered no protections, she, with a group of women from San Juan Diego Catholic Church, enlisted the support of Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI) to change the law.

In a little over a year of public action, DAI church leaders confronted landlords, secured the support of allies, negotiated with adversaries, and ultimately changed the housing code of Dallas in a fundamental way.  Says Heather Way, a professor at University of Texas School of Law who specializes in affordable housing law, “These reforms are much needed and should have a big impact on protecting the health and safety of Dallas’s most vulnerable.”  FOX News calls the code the “toughest landlord rules in the state.”   Said former code enforcement prosecutor, Councilmember Adam McGough, “this is unprecedented.”

New protections include:

- required mold and bedbug cleanup by landlords
- eradication of insects from apartment pools
- required translation of rental agreements into Spanish and Vietnamese
- single-family rental inspections and registration
- 15 new inspectors just for single family rentals
- working AC with minimum required temperatures

Councilmember McGough said the new rules included “the strongest AC regulation in the state.”

A turning point was reached one month ago, when DAI leaders met with representatives of the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas (AAGD) to negotiate points of disagreement.  At the end of the day, AAGD stood with DAI in support of the new code, arguing that “poorly operated properties and slumlords bring down…the entire industry.”

Said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings: “This is how you pass legislation.”

Dallas Makes Rules Tougher on Landlords with New Housing Standards, Dallas Morning News

Tougher Dallas Housing Code to Help Fight Slumlords, NBC-DFW

Dallas Council Passes Tougher Landlord Maintenance Rules, FOX 4 News

From the earlier this year:

A Better Housing Code, Dallas Morning News [pdf]

Dallas’ Housing Code Could be Getting Tougher, but the State Must Also Improve Tenants’ Rights, Dallas Morning News

Dallas May Adjust City Codes to Take on Problem Landlords, WFAA

Group Says Dallas Housing Code Needs Update, NBC-DFW

Editorial: Why Dallas Needs an Improved Housing Code, Dallas Morning News

Dallas Moves to Crack Down on So-Called “Slumlords”, CBS-DFW

Dallas Rewriting the Rules to Make Apartments, Rental Homes ‘Decent’ and ‘Dignified,’ Dallas Morning News

It’s Time to Get Tough on Landlords with Substandard Housing, Dallas Council Members Say, Dallas Morning News

Grupo Religioso Pide Mejorar Condiciones de Apartamentos en Renta, Al Dia Dallas


September 26, 2016

One LA Educates Voters on Measure M & California Propositions

Since July 31 at St. Brigid Catholic Church, One LA has been conducting non-partisan voter education and voter turnout for the upcoming November elections, targeting precincts around state and local ballot initiatives.

Training has focused on developing leadership skills, building core teams, and the basics of four important ballot initiatives: LA County Measure M (transportation bond) and California State Propositions 55, 57, and 62 related to a tax extension for education & healthcare, and measures related to criminal sentencing and repeal of the death penalty.

[In photo, leader Debra Silverman leads a discussion around the November elections at Temple Isaiah.]

Read the Agitator for more information.


September 23, 2016

Together Louisiana & IAF Secure Vote on $500M Federal Flood Recovery ‘Down Payment’

Days before Congress adjourns for October recess, the word among lobbyists was that a proposal for flood recovery funding for Louisiana would not even get a vote for inclusion in the continuing resolution (short term budget).

Then, according to Together Baton Rouge, sister IAF organizations across the country began contacting their congressional representatives and senators urging them to support the funding package — even across partisan lines.  Together Baton Rouge posted a video that, in less than one day, was viewed 55,000 times as leaders quickly spread its message urging people to contact their congressional representatives.  TBR additionally credits the Louisiana Governor and congressional delegation for “working tirelessly across party lines to make the case for flood recovery.”

48 hours after the funding was declared dead on arrival, the Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, threw his full support behind the funding and announced it would receive a vote.

At stake is tens of thousands of homes and potential foreclosures.

U.S. Senate Leaders Propose $500M ‘Down Payment’ on Louisiana Flood Relief, The Advocate

Great Flood of 2016 and What We Need to Rebuild, Together Baton Rouge


September 16, 2016

IAF Helps Prepare Episcopal Seminarians for Public Life

Looking for a way to create a “tighter fit between the life of faith and public life,” the Very Reverend W. Mark Richardson of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in Berkeley turned to the Industrial Areas Foundation to help train its seminarians.

Says Rev. Susanna Singer, “Bishops were saying increasingly that community organizing is a good thing.”  The creation faith, she argues, is about God’s vision of flourishing for humanity and the cosmos.  ”It means that the body of Christ, which is us now, has got to get out there now and be involved in the communities in which we live because that’s where God’s dream is going to come true.”

“The intention is to train ordinary people both in giving them a conceptual framework for thinking about issues of power and self-interest and leadership as well as some of the  practical skills of engaging people who are different than you out in the broader world,” says Anna Eng, lead organizer for the Bay Area IAF.

The Church Divinity School of the Pacific not only offers the 6-day course each year in January, it participates as a member in the Bay Area IAF.

[In photo is the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson sitting in a class.  Photo Credit: Episcopal News Service]

CDSP Prepares Seminarians for Public Life, Episcopal News Service

Public Ministry in Practice, Episcopal News Service


September 15, 2016

COPS/Metro Raises Wages AGAIN & Secures QUEST’s Future

One year after raising the minimum wage for employees of the City of San Antonio (from $11.47 to $13 per hour), COPS / Metro Alliance leaders are celebrating again after the City Council passed a budget that includes a second wage raise to $13.75 per hour.  This follows an intense two-year campaign with over 1,000 leaders recently assembling with the Mayor and council representatives to remind them of their commitment to a living wage.  When the Mayor made some noise about living wages being an ‘outsider’s’ agenda, leader Maria Tijerina fired back with an editorial reminding her that COPS / Metro is a local organization with a robust constituency.

City Council additionally approved shifting funding for workforce development program Project QUEST out from human services into economic development with its own line in the budget.  Funding increased to $2.2 million including $200 thousand to cover tuition for the Open Cloud Academy training developed in collaboration with Rackspace.

The Bexar County budget was also approved earlier this week with a new minimum wage set at $13.75 per hour (up from $13).

City Budget Approval Increases Funding for Workforce Development, KSAT

Data Shows Fewer People Living in Poverty in SA-New Braunfels Area, KSAT

Budget Sails Through Final Vote, San Antonio Express-News

City’s Proposed Budget Changes Include $13.75 / Hour Starting Pay for City Employees, KSAT

City Council to Up Minimum Wage for City Employees, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]

Raise Minimum Wage for City Workers, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]

Living Wages are a Right, Not a Privilege, Rivard Report

New City Budget Might Include $15 Minimum Wage, KSAT

City Discusses Upping Minimum Wage to $15, Rivard Report

COPS Metro Alliance Calls for $15 Minimum Wage for City Employees, Texas Public Radio

Elected Officials Hope City Will Cough Up More for New Master Plan, San Antonio Express-News

Council Asks for More ‘Aggressive Implementation of SA Tomorrow, Project QUEST Funding, Rivard Report


September 15, 2016

200 NAIC Leaders Take On Candidates in Forum

With 200 leaders assembled at Flagstaff Federated Community Church, all candidates for Flagstaff City Council and mayor attended the accountability forum, as did some of the candidates for Legislative District 6.  Candidates were grilled on gun violence, financial aid for Dreamers and city and state funding for public education, with most agreeing to support NAIC’s agenda items.
All mayoral and city council candidates pledged to support de-escalation training for police and other public safety officers, and participating candidates for legislative office pledged to restore funding for public education, noting that an educated workforce attracts high-paying jobs — the same argument leaders public made the previous month.

Candidates Take on State, National Issues at Monday  Forum, Arizona Daily Sun


September 12, 2016

Together Louisiana Wins Battle for Tax Exemption Accountability

Before a packed house of leaders from Together Louisiana, and after eight intense rounds of public testimony, the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry voted to defer all renewal applications for industrial tax exemptions, including an application for property tax breaks by Koch Industries which would have cost (disaster-declared) East Baton Rouge Parish $1.9 million in revenue.

Together Baton Rouge is calling this “one battle in a long fight for transparency and local control. But in terms of that battle, it’s a big, big victory!”

This victory follows political pressure by Together Louisiana to make the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) more accountable to the local entities paying for them.   Last week, the Shreveport Times reported that the program costs school districts across the state millions of dollars every year, potentially hindering implementation of universal Pre-K.  Responding to pressure from Together Louisiana last June, Governor John Bel Edwards changed the program to exclude school taxes from the exemption program, protecting school dollars going forward.

[In photo: Together Louisiana leaders celebrate.]

Reigning in Industrial Tax Exemptions, WRKF

Panel Defers Industrial Tax Exemption Request, The Advocate

Louisiana Tax Exemption Debate, BR Proud

Reining In Industrial Tax Exemptions, WRKF

Louisiana State Board Puts Off Vote on Most Industrial Tax Exemption Applications and Renewals, Baton Rouge Business Report

State Board to Take Up Renewal of $11B Worth of Industrial Tax Exemptions Today, Baton Rouge Business Report

TBR Analysis of 22 Renewal Applications, Together Baton Rouge

Paying the Price, Shreveport Times [pdf]


September 12, 2016

TBR Creates 100 New Jobs to Tackle Flood Recovery Effort

A ‘crazy’ idea from 70-year-old Betsy Smith amidst the lack of an automated federal response sparked the effort: “Rather than just donate money….donate $120 to pay an unemployed person $15 an hour for an 8-hour day’s work helping with the cleanup effort.”

Together Baton Rouge took that idea to their base and quickly raised $20,000 to build a coordinated response to the dramatic need for recovery. One week later, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation committed $250,000 to scale it up for one month. CNN reports that now Together Baton Rouge is hiring “100 local people — many of them affected by the flood — at $15 per hour to gut 2,000 homes over 30 days.”

Together Baton Rouge seeks additional donations to expand the program beyond the first month, not only to recover and gut out houses, but to rebuild them.

Donations can be made directly to: Together Baton Rouge Jobs.

Louisiana floods: The water is gone, and the work begins, CNN


September 2, 2016

VOICE Clergy Fight for Payday Lending Reform in Oklahoma

The press conference began with a dark story: teacher’s union president Elise Robillard, and single mother, was cash strapped and only “one flat tire or one sick kid away from a financial emergency.”  She took out a payday loan, thinking it a quick fix.  Ultimately, it drove her into bankruptcy.

In response to stories like hers, religious leaders of VOICE-OKC, including Rev. Lori Walke of Mayflower Congregational Church and Rev. Tim Luschen of Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, are now calling for payday lending reforms.  According to The Oklahoman, Oklahomans pay $52 million in fees charged by payday lenders, paying an average annual interest rate of 391 percent.

VOICE leaders publicly support the Consumers Financial Protection Bureau rules but are arguing that the state does not have to wait for them — that it should implement them now.

[Photo Credit: Associated Press]

Oklahoma Faith Leaders, Other Advocacy Groups Call for Payday Lending Reform, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma Religious Leaders Call for Payday Lending Changes, Washington Times

Faith Leaders Call for Payday Lending Reform, Tulsa World

Local Groups Call for Action on Payday Lending at Sept. 1 Conference, The City Sentinel


August 30, 2016

COPS/Metro & Allies Protest Detention: “Let Our Babies Go”

More than 50 COPS / Metro Alliance leaders and allies assembled outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office in San Antonio A protest the continued detention of thousands of immigrant women and children in Texas.  About 2,200 detainees, mostly women and children, are detained in two facilities in Texas — Dilly and Karnes, some for as long as one year.  Protesters brought baby shower balloons, socks and diapers to the ICE office to represent the children held in detention.  Leaders from Texas UU Justice Ministry, Interfaith Welcome Coalition, RAICES and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network called on ICE to transfer detainees to family members in the US who can pay for their housing, food and assistance.

Sr. Sharon Altendorff, speaking for COPS / Metro, called on ICE to “see these people not as threats, but as refugees seeking safety…. [to] stop holding these women and children in these detention centers” and stop returning people to “the horror” from which they fled.

[In photo, Sr. Sharon Altendorf waits for rally to begin.  Photo Credit: Scott Ball, Rivard Report]

‘Let Our Babies’ Go:’ Protesters Rally Against Immigrant Family Detention, Rivard Report

Homeland Security Considers Ending Private Immigration Detention Contracts, Texas Public Radio


August 30, 2016

Cortes Lauded in Commemoration of 1966 Farmworker Strike

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1966 melon strike, the San Antonio Express-News referenced Ernesto Cortes for helping lay the groundwork for a generation of Mexican-American political activity in Texas:

“Ernesto Cortes, the brilliant moving force behind the Industrial Areas Foundation, launched his community advocacy after putting his academic life on hold to work with the farmworkers.”

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

50 Years Ago, Intrepid Farmworkers Fought for a Better Future, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]


August 29, 2016

Austin Interfaith Helps Reduce Residential Electricity Rates

“Richard Halpin with Austin Interfaith chimed in, ‘Everybody gets a decrease. And in this day and time for our utility to give everyone a decrease is a major step forward.’ Affordability advocates applaud the action as a step in the right direction. Halpin says, ‘We at Austin Interfaith are pleased that everyone worked so hard to create a decrease for all Austin ratepayers and particularly for those neighbors who are most at risk.’”

Austin Energy Residential Customers to See Reduced Rates, CBS [pdf]


August 23, 2016

Marin Organizing Committee Says, “Yes In My Backyard”


Marin Co., CA – This summer, more than 50 appeared before the Marin County Board of Supervisors to urge them to site, fund and operationalize a year-round shelter for 60 homeless men and women.  For the last eight years, Marin’s “Rotating Emergency Shelter” (REST) program has operated on a provisional basis, depending on 40 supporting congregations, 17 congregational hosts and thousands of volunteers.

In an effort to turn up the heat on Marin County officials reluctant to invest in local emergency homeless shelters, leaders of Marin Organizing Committee have signed up more than 8,000 voters who have declared, “Yes, in my backyard.”

Marin Homeless Center Supporters Seek Supervisor’s Help, Marin Independent Journal

Marin Churches Push for Year-Round Shelter, Catholic San Francisco

Marin Homeless Still a Political Hot Potato, Marin Independent Journal


August 23, 2016

160 TBR Leaders Ward Off Post-Flood Contamination

Citing concerns that if homeowners don’t “get this wet stuff out of their homes in the next few days, the entire home will be contaminated,” leaders of Together Baton Rouge organized “Gut Check Saturday” pairing groups of volunteers to residents needing assistance.

160 TBR leaders turned out Saturday to help their neighbors.

Click here to DONATE to ongoing recovery efforts.

Together Baton Rouge Volunteers Help Those Impacted by the Storm Cleanup, WAFB

Video of Cleanup Effort, Sherman Video Production


August 23, 2016

Southern Arizona Interfaith Confronts ‘Spice’ Epidemic in Tucson

250 leaders of Southern Arizona Interfaith assembled at St. John the Evangelist Catholic with the Tucson Police Department, Monsignor Raul Trevizo, Representative Macario Saldate, the Deputy County Attorney, and a representative of the US Dept. of Justice for a civic academy on ‘spice.’

The synthetic drug is considered to induce young users to roam neighborhoods in an unnaturally hungry and thirsty state; officers responded to 930 calls involving spice over the previous 18 months, many involving overdoses.

Said Msgr. Trevizo: “As a society we simply cannot allow them to waste away.”

Leaders have launched an awareness campaign that focuses on compassion and assistance towards users.  They plan to assemble at the end of the month to develop a plan of action.

Southside Tucson Church Deals with ‘Spice’ Epidemic, Arizona Daily Star


August 23, 2016

DAI is Winning on the Rewrite of Dallas’ Housing Code

With City Council signalling support for significant reforms in the Dallas rental housing code, Dallas Morning News gave kudos to Dallas Area Interfaith for keeping “these issues on the council’s radar and set[ting] the stage for many of the most important tweaks in the code.”  For the first time, the Dallas code would require inspections of the insides of single-family rentals and more frequent inspections of multi-family housing complexes.

Towards that end, the city manager’s proposed budget calls for hiring 15 additional code enforcement officers to handle the exapnded responsibilities.

The fight started last fall, when a group of church women approached DAI to learn what their rights were.  Months later, and after several parish assemblies at San Juan Diego Catholic Church, resident leaders got a seat at the table.  They recommended that the city strengthen its minimum standards for rental housing by requiring that landlords pursue proper bedbug fumigation and mold cleanup when asked, and by expanding inspections for more meaningful enforcement.

A Better Housing Code, Dallas Morning News

From the earlier this year:

Dallas’ Housing Code Could be Getting Tougher, but the State Must Also Improve Tenants’ Rights, Dallas Morning News

Dallas May Adjust City Codes to Take on Problem Landlords, WFAA

Group Says Dallas Housing Code Needs Update, NBC-DFW

Editorial: Why Dallas Needs an Improved Housing Code, Dallas Morning News

Dallas Moves to Crack Down on So-Called “Slumlords”, CBS-DFW

Dallas Rewriting the Rules to Make Apartments, Rental Homes ‘Decent’ and ‘Dignified,’ Dallas Morning News

It’s Time to Get Tough on Landlords with Substandard Housing, Dallas Council Members Say, Dallas Morning News

Grupo Religioso Pide Mejorar Condiciones de Apartamentos en Renta, Al Dia Dallas


August 12, 2016

NAIC Fights to Reverse Disinvestment in AZ School Funding

200 Northern Arizona Interfaith Council (NAIC) leaders, with the Prescott College Social Justice Human Rights Program, assembled with all six candidates of Arizona Legislative District 1 to push for increased funding of public schools across the state.  Said Tom Benson, “If we want our community and state to be a desirable place to work, raise a family, as well a retire it must be supported by a strong education system from Pre-K through college.”

Leaders explained the challenges of state school funding before asking each candidate to publicly support allocating additional revenues for district schools, restoring higher education funding and meeting with NAIC leadership once elected in office.  Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Joe Howard expressed appreciation for the accountability assembly as well as the hope that local legislators would “step up for public education in the upcoming legislative session.”

Public School Advocacy Groups Host Legislative Forum, Daily Courier [pdf]


August 7, 2016

PCIC Leverages 18% Increase in County Funding for JobPath

After a campaign that included educating County Supervisors about the economic (and life) impact of JobPath workforce development program, leaders of Pima County Interfaith won a 18% increase in funding for the program, from $423 thousand to $500 thousand.  Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 for the increase after Pastor Steve Springer of Dove of Peace Lutheran Church and Lindsay Leonard, a JobPath graduate, spoke.

Former students like Patty Popp credit JobPath for helping them bridge the gap between minimum wage work and a living wage career.  After training for an associate’s degree in radiologic technology, she kept on advancing to her current position as Director of Clinical Operations at Radiology Limited.  Her story can be read in the first article below.

Southern Arizona Training Program Lifts Students Out of Minimum Wage, Arizona Daily Star

Long Term Impacts of JobPath Graduates on Pima County, Applied Economics

Board of Supervisors Vote to Increase JobPath’s Funding by 16%, PCICEO


August 2, 2016

NCLI & Together Louisiana Focus on Work, Policing & Taxes

Religious leaders from Northern & Central Louisiana and Together Louisiana hosted a press conference to refocus the public conversation on to work, policing and taxes.  Citing the successes of labor market intermediary NOVA, Rev. Theron Jackson declared the organization was working to help people find “good jobs” in contrast to “people working 40 hours a week just to starve.”  Said Lead Organizer Lady Carlson, “We don’t want the death of Alton Sterling to get lost in other events that have happened.”  She cited collaboration with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to look at local policing practices, federal support for community policing and ways to deescalate tensions.”  Leaders pointed to changes in the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program, recently achieved with the support of Governor Edwards, as a way to bring back local tax dollars for workforce development, education, public defenders’ offices and more.

[Photo Credit: Henrietta Wildsmith / Shreveport Times]

Faith Based Leaders Take a Stand, Shreveport Times [pdf]

Interfaith, Together Louisiana Leaders Meet to Discuss Workforce Development, KSLA News


July 29, 2016

Austin Interfaith Proposes Reorganizing City Budget

Leaders of Austin Interfaith joined a press conference hosted by Councilmember Delia Garza to demand the inclusion of priorities like job training, parks and after-school programming for children.

Said Tom Mendez, “We do not want to hear that the budget is tight — if it’s so tight you should not have given a tax break to the few.”

Budget Strives to Address Council Directives, Austin Monitor [pdf]

Typical Austin Homeowner Could Pay $150 More in Taxes, Fees Next Year, Austin American Statesman [pdf]


July 26, 2016

Together Baton Rouge Pulls City Together After Tragedy

At Governor Bel Edward’s request, Together Baton Rouge will lead a discussion on police tactics and race relations, a conversation the Times-Picayune editorial board says “is important to have.” Towards that end, the governor arranged a meeting between the organization and the Department of Justice Community Relations Service, which will convene public meetings to get input on what needs to change.

Together Baton Rouge has already begun those conversations and is working to turn those conversations into concrete issues for change.

[Photo Credit: Ted Jackson, Times-Picayune]

Baton Rouge Pulls Together After Tragedy, Times-Picayune [pdf]


July 22, 2016

Border Interfaith Teaches New Citizens the Mechanics of Voting


At St. Joseph’s Catholic Catholic Church, Border Interfaith leaders brought in voting machines for a hands-on lesson on the mechanics of voting. Click below for video in Spanish.

Impartan Clases Para Saber Votar, Telemundo


July 21, 2016

Together Baton Rouge: Community Policing Is…

Together Baton Rouge says there are “two versions of ‘community policing.’  One of them is a powerful tool for change.  The other is an exercise in public relations.  Over the next few months, we’ll have to draw some hard distinctions to bring about the real thing, and not the PR version.”

A piece by the Christian Science Monitor digs into the question and includes a quote by Rev. Lee Wesley: “Policemen are going to have to get out of their cars, walk the street, and have a conversation with the black guy on the corner – the black guy who has his pants hanging down – and get to know him as an individual, not as a stereotype.  Until we get those types of relationships going, we’re never going to get our community moving forward.”

Another piece by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report includes a useful quote from Rev. Patti Snyder: “We, as a city, will need to practice listening to one another. We will need to practice speaking to one another…and we will need to practice moving forward consistently and standing together so that racism and the systems that hold that system up are brought down and we move forward as a city.”

Calls Resume for Community Policing, Christian Science Monitor [pdf]

Together Baton Rouge Urges Community to Show Mutual Respect, Begin Difficult Dialogue to Start Healing Process, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report [pdf]


July 20, 2016

Border Interfaith Engages Sheriff in Community Safety Effort

Over 150 leaders of Border Interfaith participated in three meetings with El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles (including Lieutenants and Deputies) over the course of two months to build relationships of trust and to address community concerns.

Said Lead Organizer Arturo Aguila, “People were sharing their struggles…but then deputies and lieutenants had a chance to speak.  People were able to see them as human beings and that they were afraid at times when they would come to some neighborhoods.  It really changed the whole dialogue.”

Meetings Aid Relationship with Sheriff’s Office, El Paso Times [pdf]


July 20, 2016

Together Baton Rouge Refuses to be Divided by Shootings

In a press conference covered by the New York Times, National Public Radio and the Wall Street JournalTogether Baton Rouge leaders repudiated recent violence and called for careful and intentional dialogue about community divisions and policing. “We condemn violence of any kind…” said Lee Wesley, the pastor of Community Bible Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.  During the press conference, leaders stood behind the lectern wearing “Together Baton Rouge” buttons and hoisting signs saying “We refuse to be divided.”

TBR will soon hold meetings about community policing to address “how we employ people in our law enforcement agencies, how we vet them” and more.  Together Baton Rouge also plans to address this issue with all mayoral candidates running this fall.

In Baton Rouge, a Divided City Faces Two Different TragediesNew York Times [pdf]
Multi-Racial Organization Aims to Bring Baton Rouge TogetherNPR
La Desigualdad Endemica de Baton RougeEl Pais [pdf]
Together Baton Rouge Preaches ‘All Lives Matter’ in Path to Move City ForwardFOX 8 [pdf]
John Bel Edwards Asks Baton Rouge Group to Start Community Dialogue About PolicingTimes-Picayune [pdf]
After the Baton Rouge Shootings, a City Joins Together to Honor OfficersChristian Science Monitor [pdf]
Local Group Vows Changes in Baton Rouge, and HealingThe Advocate [pdf]
A Tale of Two Baton RougesWall Street Journal [pdf]
Baton Rouge Tries to Bridge DivideWWLTV [pdf]
Baton Rouge Unity Group: The City Needs ChangeKATC 3-ABC [pdf]
Together Baton Rouge Adopts Request to Lead Community Policing InitiativeGreater Baton Rouge Business Report [pdf]
Together Baton Rouge Preaches ‘All Lives Matter’ in Plan to Move City ForwardWAFB [pdf]
Together BR to Distribute Popular PinsThe Advertiser [pdf]
Faith Based Group Calls for Change in Baton RougeWDSU [pdf]
Together Baton Rouge Shares Message of UnityArkLaTex [pdf]


July 18, 2016

TBR Leaders Call for Unity In Wake of Police Shootings

In the wake of the fatal shooting of 3 police officers in Baton Rouge, leaders of Together Baton Rouge continued their call for law enforcement and economic reforms, in addition to calling for unity.  Said Retired Lt. General Russel L. Honoré during an interview with MSNBC, “We need to focus on what unites us not divides us.”  The former Commander of the Joint Task Force Katrina reminded viewers that Baton Rouge police officers earn less than a living wage ($31 thousand per year) stating, “We need to take care of our police.”  Honoré also pointed out that community policing efforts must not be abandoned.

On the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Together Baton Rouge’s community gathering was described as giving “a sense of hope and openness” as leaders listened to each other (regardless of race and age) in a mutually professed desire to move the city forward.

Lt. General Honore: Baton Rouge Has Been Wounded BadMSNBC

Deadly ShootingPBS News Hour


July 18, 2016

DAI Clergy Say, “We Have to Humanize Each Other”

In the midst of pushing for expanded community policing and pay increases for officers, Dallas Area Interfaith wants to get all sides listening to each other.

“We have to humanize each other,” said Rev. Jon Morrison of Cedar Crest Church of Christ.

Lead Organizer Josephine Lopez-Paul noted there must be “conversations on race. You cannot separate race from dealing with the inequity in the community.”

[Photo Credit: Spencer Platt, Getty Images / FOX]

Black Lives Matter Supporters Say their Dallas Work Will ContinueDallas Morning News [pdf]

Writing in Blood, Threats of Bombs: Latest on Dallas InvestigationFOX News [pdf]

Slayings of Baton Rouge Officers Compound Dallas Grief But Don’t Lessen City’s Resolve, Dallas Morning News [pdf]


July 13, 2016

AMOS Reduces Juvenile Suspensions, Expulsions, Arrests

Thanks to persistent intervention by AMOS leaders, Polk County school officials and law enforcement appear to be keeping more children and older minors out of court.

Between 2011 and 2015, suspensions and expulsions dropped by nearly 64% and suspensions for school attendance issues dropped by 91%.  Arrests of minors by city police dropped by 32%, with a 21% reduction in the arrests of African American youth.

Progress took careful work with Polk County Courts in pursuit of more widespread use of restorative justice practices.  Public engagement got tense at times, in particular three years ago when AMOS pointed out remarkably higher arrest rates of African American youth.

Progress in schools is largely credited to AMOS’ “Let’s Talk” program to which administrators and teachers refer youth in danger of suspension. The program currently operates in six Des Moines middle schools and involves a team of adults working with youth to resolve conflict and develop alternative approaches to conflict.

Says Organizer Liz Hall, “At Hiatt Middle School, Let’s Talk team leaders have trained all the teachers and administrators in restorative justice circles and facilitated circles with the entire student body.”  At Meredith Middle School, there has been “a dramatic drop in out-of-school suspensions” in just three years.”

In photo is AMOS leader Rev. Dr. Brigette Black.

Editorial: Common Sense Prevails on Punishing Juveniles, Des Moines Register

AMOS Helps Juvenile Offenders Keep a Clean Record, Des Moines Register [pdf]


July 13, 2016

300 Leaders of TBR Call for Changes in Police Practices & More

Over 300 leaders of Together Baton Rouge called for both law enforcement and economic reforms at a luncheon meeting held at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church.  The call to action occurred after breakout sessions in which leaders substantively listened to each other.  Said Rev. Lee Wesley, “It is not our goal to return to where we were before Alton Sterling was shot.  It is not our goal to get back to business as usual.  It is our goal to move forward.”

Leaders were invited to share their reactions to the recent shooting of Alton Sterling and public demonstrations local papers say have resulted in military-style policing.  TBR leader Danielle Cunningham shared her frustration with how to prepare her black 11-year old son for interactions with police.  A white resident shared how she was appalled by recent violence between police and demonstrators.  After the house meetings, people from all backgrounds, black and white, pledged to address both policing reforms and the racial divide in Baton Rouge.

Dallas Area Interfaith leader Rev. Jonathon Morrison touched on the similarities between Dallas and Baton Rouge, expressing hope in the collective capacity of institutions to make change. “Our walls have been torn down, but we believe we can come together to rebuild them.”

[Photo Credit: Patrick Dennis / The Advocate]

Residents Express Frustration, Fear and Hope at Alton Sterling EventThe Advocate [pdf]

Together Baton Rouge Brings Hundreds Together to Chart Path Moving ForwardGreater Baton Rouge Business Report [pdf]

Together Baton Rouge Wants Political Change After Alton Sterling ShootingWBRZ [pdf]

Church Leaders, Community Look for Improvement Following Alton Sterling ShootingWAFB [pdf]

Troubled Souls: BR Looking InwardThe Advertiser [pdf]

Baton Rouge, How Is it With Your Soul?WRKF [pdf]

Alton Sterling’s Death Highlights Economic Segregation in Baton Rouge, BuzzFeed News [pdf]


July 11, 2016

DAI Calls on Police, Community to Build Trust for Better Policing

At a community meeting organized by Dallas Area Interfaith, there were no easy platitudes in reference to the Thursday night shooting of police officers and protesters that left five officers dead.  ”There is a repentance that has to happen in this nation,” preached Pastor Carl Sherman to the crowd gathered at Southern Hill Church of Christ.  More than a dozen officers, from six law enforcement agencies across the Metroplex, sat in the pews alongside civilians to hear their public service praised and critiqued.

[Photo Credit: Ting Shen / Dallas Morning News]

“Building trust is how we are going to get better policing,” said Josephine Lopez-Paul, the lead organizer of Dallas Area Interfaith.  Click on statement at right to read DAI’s statement.

Next steps for the organization include a follow up meeting in next week to address public safety concerns in neighborhoods across the city.

Some Blacks and Latinos Say Conversation on Race and Policing is Being ForgottenDallas Morning News [pdf]

Area Activists Try to Restart Community Conversation on Race and Policing in DallasDallas Morning News [pdf]

Black, White Police Officers Join Hands in Prayer in Dallas, Huffington Post [pdf]

Limits of Politics at a Time of National Trauma, Washington Post


July 8, 2016

Together Baton Rouge Secures Broader Federal Investigation into Police Shooting of Alton Sterling

Shortly after leaders of Together Baton Rouge called on the Justice Department to widen the scope of its investigation into the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, saying it should include possible state criminal violations, a spokesman for Gov. John Bel Edwards responded, saying that the U.S. attorney’s office will not only investigate whether civil rights were violated, but also potential state and federal violations.  ”If the U.S. attorney’s office finds any violation of state laws and believes the officers should be charged with battery, assault or murder, it will refer that back to the local district attorney for prosecution.”

Leaders had argued that if the federal investigation were to be limited to the narrow possibility of a civil rights violation, the consequence of turning the investigation over to federal officials would be “indistinguishable from the District Attorney refusing to conduct an investigation into state crimes,” including aggravated battery and murder (see statement at right).

Together Baton Rouge leaders thanked Governor Edwards for “helping to strengthen public trust” in the process.

[Photo Credit: Travis Spradley / The Advocate]

Together Baton Rouge Pleads with Feds to Play Larger Role in Alton Sterling InvestigationThe Advocate

Alton Sterling Shooting: Baton Rouge Community Leaders Call for Investigation Beyond Civil Rights,ABC News

Together BR Urges Transparency, Thoroughness in Sterling InvestigationWBRZ

Alton Sterling Shooting: Homeless Man Made 911 Call, Source SaysCNN [pdf]

In Alton Sterling Shooting, Faith Leaders Call for Clarity, Larger Federal Role in InvestigationTimes-Picayune [pdf]

Louisiana Officers in Alton Sterling Shooting Cleared in Prior Use of Force ComplaintsChicago Tribune

The Latest: Governor Thanks City for Peaceful ResponseAssociated Press

Faith Leaders in Baton Rouge Call for Peace, Patience and a Serious InvestigationDelmarva Public Radio

Louisiana Officers Cleared in Prior Use of Force ComplaintsWTOP


June 27, 2016

Together Louisiana Reforms State Industrial Tax Exemptions

Baton Rouge, LA – With seventy ’Together Louisiana‘ leaders in attendance, Governor John Bel Edwards issued an Executive Order overhauling the nation’s largest state program of corporate subsidies, the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP).

Reforms include requirements that impacted local tax authorities approve the subsidy, including municipal government, school boards and law enforcement; exemptions demonstrate a Return on Investment (ROI) for new jobs or retention of good jobs; and that subsidy applicants sign contractual agreements based on promised investments and local hires.

Says leader Dianne Henley, “What the Governor did today is far bigger than reforming a single program.  It signals a major shift in our state’s approach to economic development, focused less on corporate subsidies with no strings attached and more on jobs and the development of our people.”

Together Louisiana‘s victory comes the month after Edwards pledged to 400 leaders that he would support tax fairness, and only one week after the organization released a groundbreaking study of ITEP detailing its unorthodox structure and exorbitant cost to local governments.  Leaders are calling this just the first major victory of their Tax Fairness Campaign and pledge to fight for more.

Governor John Bel Edwards Sets Criteria for Lucrative Tax Breaks for Manufacturers, The Advocate [pdf]

John Bel Edwards Signs Executive Order for Scrutiny of Industrial Tax Break, Times-Picayune [pdf]


June 23, 2016

Together Louisiana Fights for Reforms to State Tax Exemptions

One month after 400 ‘Together Louisiana‘ leaders secured the commitment of Governor John Bel Edwards to work towards tax fairness, the organization released a groundbreaking study demonstrating that Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) amounts to giveaways of over $1.6 Billion per year.  In response to the organization’s call on Governor Edwards to use his constitutional authority to reform the program, the Governor’s office has announced there will be an executive order.

Study findings show that over the last 10 years, $16.7 billion in local tax revenue has been redirected to subsidize heavy manufacturing, amounting to over $535 thousand per job reportedly created.  Louisiana’s top 5 environmental polluters, according to the EPA, received $506 million in taxpayer subsidies.  Even British Petroleum (BP) received $9.4 million in state subsidies during and after the Deepwater Horizon spill.  Louisiana is the only state in the country with a board that gives away local tax revenue, without approval from the local governments losing the money.

Leaders are calling for reforms that would transform the subsidy giveaways into the economic incentives they are supposed to be.  They ran a full page ad in The Advocate (see graphic on right) and will present their recommendations to the Board of Commerce and Industry, the body that decides who gets exemptions, to pressure them as well to reform the program.

Louisiana’s Tax Break for Industry Can be Curbed by Governor, Group Says, Times Picayune

Study Finds $1.6 Billion in Louisiana Industrial Tax Breaks Too Generous, The Advocate

Political Horizons: A Rare Dissent on Corporate Exemptions by Gov. John Bel Edwards, Louisiana Politicians, The Advocate

Local Governments Stand to Lose $16.7 Billion in Taxes with Industrial Tax Exemption, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

“Costly and Unusual”: Analysis of Industrial Exemptions, Together Louisiana


June 17, 2016

North Texas IAF Payday Reform Strategy Spreads to Ft. Worth

Crediting the church with playing an important role in opposing predatory lending, the Star-Telegram of Fort Worth covered the spread of a payday reform strategy that originated with the work of the North Texas IAF in Arlington, Texas and now involves Catholic Bishop Michael Olson making public calls on the City of Fort Worth to regulate the practice.

In November of 2015, in collaboration with North Texas IAF, St. Joseph Catholic Church leaders in Arlington and the Texas Catholic Conference compelled the Arlington City Council to unanimously vote in support of payday regulations.  Loans are now limited to 20% of borrowers’ gross monthly income and auto loans are limited to 70 % of the vehicles value or no more than 3% of gross annual income.  Leaders hope to achieve similar limitations in Fort Worth.

Bishop’s Plea Pushes City on Predatory Lending, Star-Telegram

Catholic Diocese Wants Fort Worth to Regulate Payday Lending Industry, Star -Telegram

Background on victory in Arlington, Texas


June 10, 2016

Austin Interfaith Fights to Preserve Affordable Housing

At an Austin Interfaith assembly held last month, residents of the Heights On Congress apartments told stories about their concerns with relocation now that the property owner is seeking permission to rezone.  The children of those residents belong to Travis Heights Elementary School, whose PTA reached out to Austin Interfaith for help in developing a plan with the owner and developer that will serve the interests of the residents and their children.  At the assembly, they secured the support of the Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and AISD trustees.  In photo are local leaders Angie Gonzalez of the Oak Creek Village Tenants’ Association and Rev. Brian Ferguson of Wildflower Church.

[Photo Credit: Jana Birchum, Austin Chronicle]

Heights on Congress Start Organizing: City, Developer Discussing Relocation Plan, Austin Chronicle

Austin Affordable Housing Crisis, Fox News


June 10, 2016

300 Working Together Jackson Leaders Hold Mayor Accountable

With questions and concerns about the Housing Trust Fund and One-Cent Sales Tax, 300 leaders of Working Together Jackson packed an Emmanuel Baptist Church hall to engage Mayor Yarber around their concerns.  Said Dorothy Triplett, a leader of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, “”We are a very different organization, a very grassroots organization that doesn’t just complain and talk about the problems. We come together with our people and ask what are you willing to work on. And we will also be talking about our vision as we move forward for the 2017 municipal elections. We hold all of the candidates accountable.”

Photo Credit: Tim Summers, Jackson Free Press]

Working Together Jackson to Hold Monday Mayor Meeting, Jackson Free Press

Assembly Photos


June 1, 2016

1,500 NCG Leaders Call for Investment in People of Nevada

Nevadans for the Common Good‘s 3rd “Convention for the Common Good” drew 1,500 leaders that called on federal, state and local elected officials to invest in education, immigrant integration, and services for the elderly and people with disabilities.  Said Rev. Dr. Marta Poling-Goldenne of Reformation Lutheran Church: “We are here tonight because we practice a different kind of politics….We organize people around conversations and relationships…[and] unite people across diverse backgrounds, and we are radically nonpartisan!”

Days later, leaders published a statement professing this “different kind of politics” and urging the Clark County Superintendent and Governor Brian Sandoval to work with them to resolve the teacher shortage crisis.  Rabbi Malcolm Cohen, Rev. Dennis Hutson, Barbara Paulsen and Poling-Goldenne write:

“The ancient Greeks believed that the practice of politics was an essential component of being fully human.  They would gather together to deliberate, debate and negotiate about the life of their city or polis….Politics should focus on the concrete issues that affect our families and communities.  The teacher shortage is one such issue…”

Leaders plan to continue fighting for public investments in Nevadans.

In Pursuit of a Different Kind of Politics, Las Vegas Review-Journal [pdf]


May 26, 2016

VIP Leads Capitol Rally for Investment in Arizona Schools

[Excerpt]

Even before the results of the Prop. 123 special election were known, teachers, students, parents and community members came together at the #NowItStarts rally at the state capitol on Thursday afternoon to focus on the serious funding issues Arizona schools face Arizonans are ready to discuss concrete steps for further investments in public schools, said The Rev. Martha Seaman with Valley Interfaith Project.

“The relentless pattern of disinvestment has to stop,” Seaman said at the rally.

“The future of our families and our shared prosperity requires strong schools.,” Seaman said. “We can’t have a viable economy without a high level of education. It’s the best investment we can make. We can’t tax break ourselves into prosperity.”

[Photo Credit: Lisa Irish / AZEdNews]

Community Comes Together to Support Education at #NowItStarts Rally, AZ Ed News [pdf]


May 24, 2016

PCIC Congregation Cited as Example of Episcopal Faith in Action

[Excerpt]

“St. Philip’s in Tucson engages in the political and electoral processes on more than one level. It was a founding member of Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization, a nonprofit advocacy organization that takes action on issues that impact families and communities at the local and regional levels. The advocacy and education have included issues such as gun violence, immigration, environmental economics, education funding, Sandwell-Weiss said.

The group hopes that by providing information and helping people connect those issues to their faith, especially Jesus’ call in Matthew 25 to find him while caring for people on the margins of society, “hopefully it will make a more informed electorate and an electorate that will work to make some changes,” she said.”

Episcopal Congregations Find Ways to Engage in Current Political Cycle, Episcopal News Service


May 24, 2016

Austin Interfaith Beats Back Bid to Sell Alcohol Near Schools

When Torchy’s Tacos re-submitted a two-year old bid to sell alcohol within 300 feet of Fulmore Middle School, they forgot to take into account the lasting power of Austin Interfaith.  Leaders from neighboring Travis Heights Elementary PTA, St. Ignatius Catholic, Oak Creek Village Tenants Association and St. David’s Episcopal Church were already organizing around funding for after-school programming and maintaining affordable housing in communities near the school when apartment complexes are redeveloped.

The night before Torchy’s petition for a permit waiver, 200 parents, school staff and community leaders assembled with school board members and city councilmembers to leverage their support for affordable housing, after-school programming and, now, reaffirmation of City law against alcohol sales near schools.  On stage, Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo and AISD Trustees Paul Saldaña and Jayme Mathias all pledged to oppose the variance.

Within hours, Torchy’s Tacos released a press statement promising to “withdraw and refile” their waiver request.  Said Rev. Brian Ferguson of Wildflower Church in response: “We are glad, for the moment, that alcohol is not going to be sold close to the school,” but “the law says you can’t sell alcohol within 300 feet.  This has gone on for two years…” Leaders are prepared to continue the fight if they refile.

Torchy’s Withdraws Request to Sell Alcohol on Congress, Austin American Statesman [pdf]

Facing Pressure, Flagship Torchy’s Drops Alcohol Waiver Request, Austin Monitor

Torchy’s Bid for Alcohol Permit Takes a Hit from Officials, Faith Group, Austin American Statesman

Austin’s Affordable Housing CrisisFOX News

Council: Burning Daylight, Austin Chronicle


May 20, 2016

COPA Leaders Reclaim Democracy in Central Coast California

Representing over 30 institutions from Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties, 300 leaders of COPA convened at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Seaside for its spring assembly.  Framing the assembly through the notion of covenant, Rabbi Paul Marcus of Temple Beth El in Aptos asserted that when leaders  speak to city council members on each other’s behalf, when the body holds the District Attorney’s office accountable, when they secure funds for for low-income residents, they are acting like the biblical figure Ruth.

Leaders told stories about securing healthcare funds for undocumented patients, the importance of local implementation of Prop. 47, the need for affordable housing and a strategy to develop alternative lending options for low-income families.

COPA secured commitments from the Monterey County Supervisor Board Chair Jane Parker to to support continuation of COPA’s healthcare pilot and from Santa Cruz Supervisor John Leopold to identify funding sources for expanded treatment and rehabilitation for incarcerated and previously incarcerated people.

Covenant by Rabbi Paul Marcus

Local Democracy in Action by COPA


May 18, 2016

100+ DAI Leaders Fight for Stricter Housing Rules at City Hall

[DAI Leader Ericka Ventura (at podium) speaks before council and standing supporters.]

In a tightly packed special meeting of City Council, over 100 Dallas Area Interfaith leaders spilled into overflow areas in support of new regulations that would give greater protections to Dallas renters.  Leader Ericka Ventura declared the organization’s support for proposed regulations that they had helped create, including more frequent inspections, higher standards for air conditioning and water heating, more explicit steps for mold remediation and stiffer penalties for landlords.

Dr. Barry Lachman, Asthma Coalition of Texas president (and leader with Beth Shalom) said he was “appalled” by what he saw in a tour of apartment complexes in the Bachman Lake area.

Rev. Jesus Belmontes of San Juan Diego Catholic Church argued that poor living conditions hurt children the most, asserting that Dallas “has failed its most vulnerable.”

There will be a second public briefing before a final vote.

Dallas Renters and Landlords Square Off at City Hall Over Air Conditioning, Mold and Leases, Dallas Morning News [pdf]


May 17, 2016

VIP Leaders Say: Proposition 123 Needed Despite Reservations

happy kids with hands up

VIP leaders Rev. Martha Seaman and Rabbi John Linder made the case for embracing Arizona Proposition 123 in the Arizona Capitol Times, arguing that “while admittedly imperfect, [the Proposition] does provide a way to get beyond the long-standing school inflation lawsuit.”

Click on link below to read the whole piece.

Despite Reservations, Prop 123 NeededArizona Capitol Times [pdf]


May 16, 2016

AMOS Helps Juvenile Offenders Keep a Clean Record

[Excerpt below]

More than a year ago, the nonprofit community organization AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) began working with Des Moines police on a mediation program that helps first-time, low- to mid-level juvenile offenders understand the impact of their actions directly from their victims.

The meetings, called victim-offender conferences, are face to face and mediated by AMOS volunteers who have received special training.

After the meetings, which can last an hour or more, offenders may do some type of community service. If they stay out of trouble for six months, any record of their criminal act is deleted from the police computer system; their names are never entered into the state juvenile court record system.

“Our goal is to keep children out of the system as much as possible so that they don’t have a record,” explained Rev. Dr. Brigitte A. Black.

AMOS Helps Juvenile Offenders Keep a Clean Record, Des Moines Register [pdf]


May 16, 2016

MOC Signature Campaign Exceeds Goal, Reaches 8,000+

With the goal of building support for the County to site, fund and operationalize a year-round shelter for 60 homeless men and women by 2018, leaders of Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) launched a signature campaign to reach 6,000 voters.  Within five months, leaders had collected over 8,000 signature cards, and counting.

In May, leaders presented the cards to District 2 and District 3 Board of Supervisor candidates in two separate local accountability sessions drawing over 100 people each.  All candidates committed their support to the campaign to establish and fund a year-round shelter by April 2018 when the current 6-month temporary program is scheduled to end.

MOC plans to continue working to organize the support of partnering cities and other key allies.

Marin Churches Push for Year-Round Homeless Shelter, Catholic San Francisco [pdf]

Additional background on the REST campaign.


May 2, 2016

Houston Chronicle: TMO Harnesses People Power

[Excerpt]

“There’s a story that sounds almost apocryphal, except it isn’t, about how the Network of Texas IAF Organizations, which focuses on community-leadership development, came to anchor itself in the consciousness of elected officials across the state….

Locally, the network affiliate is known as The Metropolitan Organization, or TMO. Primarily church-based, as the IAF organizations are in other cities, TMO is made up of 27 congregations largely located in east and southeast-side neighborhoods.

As the network of organizations marks its 40-year anniversary, we turned to TMO leaders for insights about the group’s work here in Houston, its impact and vision for the future. Outlook editor Veronica Flores-Paniagua talked with the Rev. Robert McGee and Ana Cummings, who were among TMO’s founders.”

Below are excerpts from the conversation.

TMO Focuses on ‘People Power,’ Houston Chronicle [pdf]


May 2, 2016

Together Louisiana Secures Gov.’s Commitment for Tax Fairness

In front of 400 leaders assembled at Mt. Zion First Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Together Louisiana leader Rev. Theron Jackson of Shreveport laid out the source of the state’s budget shortfall (corporate exemptions and lower income taxes on the wealthy), referred to the reliance on sales taxes as “the big swap” and bluntly stated, “This calls for righteous indignation.”

Governor John Bel Edwards agreed, telling leaders that an additional sales tax increase was “not going to be on the table” when legislators tackle the budget deficit.

At Baton Rouge Events, John Bel Edwards Attempts to Build Support for Budget Changes, Medicaid Expansion, The Advocate

John Bel Edwards Says No to Another Louisiana Sales Tax Hike, Times Picayune


April 30, 2016

1,000 COPS / Metro Leaders Continue Fight for Higher Wages

19-year old Chris Almendarez, a leader with Sacred Heart Catholic Church, took to the stage to tell 1,000 COPS / Metro leaders about his mother who holds down two jobs with the San Antonio Independent School District — one  from 6am to 4pm and another from 4:30pm to 10pm.  He sees her minutes per day between those jobs, and quit college to help his family stay afloat.

“What gets me angry is to think of other children who are growing up without their mom or dad, who don’t have support in doing homework, studying, and even making a meal,” he said.  ”SAISD Trustees, are you going to work with us to raise those wages and bring our parents home?”

Flanked by Superintendent Martinez and Trustees Guerrero, Hernandez and Valdez, SAISD Board President Patti Radle responded, “We are grateful to COPS/Metro that because of your involvement, we will be able to raise wages by 20% for our entry level employees this year. But we are not finished….we will be with you in the future to raise it to $13; we’d like to get it to $15, but we’ll need ….your help.”

Bexar County Commissioners Paul Elizondo and Tommy Calvert also committed to continue raising wages in the county, agreeing to support raising wages to $14/hour for direct employees as well as raising wages for outsourced workers in this upcoming budget cycle.  City Councilmembers Ron Nirenberg, Shirley Gonzales, Rebecca Viagran and Robert Trevino also support a wage increase.

[Photo Credit: Rafael Parra]

See Chris Almendarez’s testimony at minute [42:07] in a NOWCastSA webcast of the assembly.

Blessed Are the History Makers, NOWCastSA

Full report on the assembly, COPS / Metro Alliance


April 30, 2016

Texas IAF Celebrates 40+ Year Anniversary, Launches New Strategy

Veteran leaders, funders, religious judicatories and Texas IAF organizational co-founders convened at the Whitley Center of the Oblate School of Theology to celebrate 40+ years of the network of Texas IAF organizations standing with families.

Press Event Photos Strategy
Letters of Support Video Proclamations

April 29, 2016

El Paso Times Applauds EPISO, Border Interfaith & Texas IAF

[Excerpt]
“When the Industrial Areas Foundation first came to Texas four decades ago, the organization was met with derision and hostility in many quarters. That certainly was true with the creation of the El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring organization in 1981.

But today, IAF Texas groups – including EPISO and Border Interfaith in El Paso – are viewed as powerful voices on issues like economic development, education, health care and social justice.”

[Photo Credit: Rudy Gutierrez, El Paso Times]

Read more below…

Editorial: IAF Celebrates 40 Years of Making Texas Better, El Paso Times [pdf]


April 29, 2016

NCG Fights Teacher Shortage in Clark County School District

Nevadans for the Common Good “is calling for the school district to end the teacher shortage by 2020.  The district filled fewer than 1,700 of the estimated 2,600 teaching positions to start the school year in the fall.  The district still had more than 700 vacancies about halfway through December….

Nevadans for the Common Good plans to address the shortage and other topics during its May 9 convention at the Cashman Center.  Poling-Goldenne said the organization expects about 2,000 attendees, including Republican and Democratic leaders, School Board President Linda Young, and Adam Johnson, who is challenging Young for her seat in the November election.”

Religious Coalition Tells School District to Fix Teacher Shortage, Las Vegas Review Journal