COPS / Metro Says "No" to Prop A

[Excerpt below]

This fall, the biggest loser of the amendments proposed by the firefighters union will be local democracy. While much of the rhetoric focuses on the city’s AAA bond rating and its capacity to govern, COPS/Metro is primarily concerned about the loss of San Antonio’s democratic capacity.

COPS/Metro — a coalition of congregations, schools and unions working together on behalf of families — asked the city to drop the lawsuit on the evergreen clause and firefighters to drop the petition drive and return to the negotiating table. Neither side moved, and now the residents and voters of San Antonio are caught in the crossfire between “Go Vote No” and “Vote Yes” on the three charter amendments.

At its core, democracy is about negotiation and compromise...

Proposition A Will Undermine Democracy, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]


600 COPA Leaders Assemble to Celebrate Achievements, and Advance Agenda

As the "largest gathering of community members in the Central Coast region," 600 COPA leaders modeled what democracy looks like by assembling its members from diverse religious, economic and ethnic backgrounds to celebrate what they've done over the previous 15 years and to lay out an agenda moving forward.  Guests included Congressman Jimmy Panetta, Santa Cruz Supervisors Zach Friend and John Leopold and Monterey County Supervisor Jane Parker.

[Photo Credit: Joe Szydlowski and Eduardo Cuevas, The Californian]

COPA Celebrates 15 Years of Work on Immigration, Healthcare, Housing and More, The Californian [pdf]

COPA Celebrates 15th Anniversary With Convention, Register Pajaronian [pdf]


Pima County Interfaith Educates Immigrants on Proposed Changes to 'Public Charge' Rule

 

Forty members from St. John the Evangelist Church and the neighborhood attended a civic academy yesterday to learn about “public charge.” This new policy by the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security would affect many legal immigrants who are applying for permanent residency (green cards) and penalize applicants if they or their families have received government support such as SNAP (food stamps), subsidized health care, and other support that the government has labeled a “public charge.”

As rumors of this new policy surfaced, immigrant churches and Pima County Interfaith started conducting research. The fear began a few months ago when the press began to talk again about this policy.  Rumors and misinformation led many immigrants to renounce their citizen children’s benefits out of fear. Among those immigrants most affected by this proposal are low-income families, single mothers, and children with chronic illnesses.

At Sunday’s session, a single mother asked if she could lose her permanent residency if she continued to receive AHCCCS, Arizona’s version of Medicaid, for her infant baby.  Fortunately, she received her visa through the VAWA program that so far is exempt from being a 'public charge.'
After the session, some attendees thanked the St. John team for making this presentation.  They said they felt more relaxed now that they knew which programs would be counted as 'public charge.'

A young mother said, "I'm going to register for citizenship classes and I'm going to apply to become a citizen. I'm afraid this administration will find another way to revoke my residency and separate me from my family."


Houston Police Chief Fulfills Pledge to TMO, Urges Smith & Wesson to Make Guns Safer

Fulfilling a commitment made to TMO earlier this year, Houston Police Chief (and incoming president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association) Art Acevedo publicly urged American Outdoor Brands Corp., formerly Smith & Wesson, to examine its safety practices and standards. 

The joint letter -- signed also by Senior Rabbi David Lyon of Congregation Beth Israel of TMO and Montgomery Police Chief (and outgoing MCCA president), J. Thomas Manger -- was accompanied with a supportive statement by the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign.  Do Not Stand Idly By is a national IAF campaign made up of law enforcement leaders, medical and public health professionals and religious leaders to promote the production and use of smart guns.

Police Chiefs, Clergy to Gunmaker: Cut Shootings by Making Guns Safer, Houston Chronicle

Cops, Priests Urge Smith & Wesson to Make Guns Safer, Bloomberg Business


'Nevadans for the Common Good' Educates Constituency on Payday Lending

Leaders with 'Nevadans for the Common Good' have begun building a constituency of voters who are educated about the dangers of payday lending by holding civic academies on the subject.  The next civic academy is scheduled to take place at Las Vegas University United Methodist Church.

Community Groups Urge Nevadans to Learn Risks of Payday Loans, Public News Service


MOC Advances 'Just Cause Eviction' Ordinance

Despite fear of eviction, forty tenants in San Rafael, CA worked with Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) and Marin Legal Aid to fight back against a 40% rent increase that puts most of their families at risk of homelessness or displacement.  After a change in ownership, rent was increased by $700 a month with only 60 days notice, from $1,900 to $2,700 by September 1st.  Tenant and community leaders argued that the rapid rent hike would leave families homeless and deprive 60 schoolchildren from stability in their home lives and education.

Marin Organizing Committee called upon the landlord to negotiate with the tenants and called upon the City of San Rafael and the County of Marin to put stronger renter protections in place.  San Rafael City Mayor Gary Phillips, Marin County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, and San Rafael School Superintendent Mike Watenpaugh pledged support moving forward.  MOC ultimately shepherded a negotiated deal in which the rent increase would be phased in over 16 months (by 2020).

Having successfully advocated for a Mandatory Mediation Ordinance in 2017, MOC is now pushing for passage of a 'Just Cause' Eviction ordinance which would establish a set of criteria for eviction and provide stronger protections for tenants in a County with historically weak recourse for renters. Leaders packed a Marin County Board of Supervisors workshop to support such an ordinance, including clergy, tenants, and apartment owners who testified that such an ordinance would not hurt landlords operating in good faith.  The Board decided to move forward, directing County staff to prepare options for consideration at an upcoming meeting. 

[Photo Credit: James Cacciatore, Marin Independent Journal]

Marin Supervisors Want to Move Ahead with 'Just Cause' Ordinance, Marin Independent Journal [pdf]

Marin Faith Community Rallies Behind Families Facing Huge Rent Increase, Catholic San Francisco [pdf]

San Rafael Canal Landlords, Tenants Strike Deal on Rent Hikes, Marin Independent Journal [pdf]

San Rafael Activists Decry Canal Rent Surge, Marin Independent Journal [pdf]

Evening News Segment (Segment 7, Minute 21:38), KPFA 94.1

Video Clip

George Russell: Troubled Waters in San Rafael's Canal, Marin Independent Journal [jpg]


COPS/Metro, Austin Interfaith Lift Municipal Wages to $15/Hour

Four years after launching living wage campaigns in their respective cities, COPS/Metro and Austin Interfaith leaders celebrated hard won hikes in the lowest wages paid to municipal workers in both San Antonio and Austin. This week, both cities become the first in Texas to set a $15/hour wage floor for city workers. In Austin, this new standard additionally applies to contracted workers, part-time and temporary workers AND to employees of private businesses receiving economic incentives (more in next section).

Leaders also leverage increased city investments in long-term workforce development ($2.4 Million for Capital IDEA and $2.2 Million for Project QUEST) plus affordable housing (San Antonio). Bexar County announced that they, too, would pay their lowest earning employees at least $15/hour. Austin leaders successfully intervened for programs under threat of budget cuts, including PrimeTime after-school programming and parent support specialists in the Austin Independent School District.

Additional background:

Press Statement, COPS/Metro Alliance
Press Statement, Austin Interfaith
San Antonio Ranked Among Nation's Highest-Poverty Cities, Rivard Report
City of San Antonio boosts municipal wages (2015)
City of Austin passes 'Living Budget' and closes labor loophole (2015)


Together Baton Rouge Discovers $400M Omission in Property Tax Records

After succeeding in changing how economic incentives are granted in Louisiana, and teaching local municipalities and school districts how much tax exemptions cost the people they serve, Together Baton Rouge (TBR) leaders identified another source of public revenue loss: property tax roll omissions. 

Vigilant leaders of TBR discovered that approximately $400 million in taxable property (at four Baton Rouge facilities owned by ExxonMobil) appears to have been omitted from the preliminary 2018 property assessment rolls provided by the East Baton Rouge Parish Tax Assessor. 

Left uncorrected, this apparent omission of taxable property would result in a one-year loss of approximately $5.9 million in revenue to East Baton Rouge Parish taxing bodies over the next fiscal year, including a loss of $2.7 million to East Baton Rouge Parish public schools in the current fiscal year (a year in which the school district is running a multi-million deficit).

Holding Their Feet to the Fire, Bayou Brief

Letter to Tax Assessor, Together Baton Rouge

Attachments, Together Baton Rouge


Marin Organizing Committee Shepherds Deal Between Landlord, Tenants

Despite fear of eviction, forty tenants in San Rafael, CA worked with Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) and Marin Legal Aid to fight back against a 40% rent increase that puts most of their families at risk of homelessness or displacement.  After a change in ownership, rent was increased by $700 a month with only 60 days notice, from $1,900 to $2,700 by September 1st.  Tenant and community leaders argued that the rapid rent hike would leave families homeless and deprive 60 schoolchildren from stability in their home lives and education.

Marin Organizing Committee called upon the landlord to negotiate with the tenants and called upon the City of San Rafael and the County of Marin to put stronger renter protections in place. San Rafael City Mayor Gary Phillips, Marin County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, and San Rafael School Superintendent Mike Watenpaugh pledged support moving forward.

MOC ultimately shepherded a negotiated deal in which the rent increase would be phased in over 16 months (by 2020) instead of by September 1.  “I’m happy with the result,” said Timoteo Maldonado, a tenant leader and father of three, “...at least it gives us time to make a plan.” 

Having successfully advocated the passage of a Mandatory Mediation Ordinance in 2017, MOC is now pushing for passage of a Just Cause Eviction ordinance which would establish a set of criteria for eviction and provide stronger protections for tenants in a County with historically weak recourse for renters. Leaders plan to go to the Marin County Board of Supervisors meeting this week to support a just-cause eviction ordinance.

[Photo Credit: Alan Dep, Marin Independent Journal]

San Rafael Canal Landlords, Tenants Strike Deal on Rent Hikes, Marin Independent Journal [pdf]

San Rafael Activists Decry Canal Rent Surge, Marin Independent Journal [pdf]

Evening News Segment (Segment 7, Minute 21:38), KPFA 94.1

Video Clip

George Russell: Troubled Waters in San Rafael's Canal, Marin Independent Journal [jpg]


Austin Interfaith Ensures City Council Strengthens Living Wage Requirement for Taxpayer Subsidized Jobs

 

On the eve of Labor Day weekend, Austin Interfaith leaders celebrated the protection of living wages for all jobs subsidized by City of Austin taxpayers and applauded the Austin City Council for adopting a $15 an hour living wage floor requirement as a key feature of its expanded Economic Development Incentive Program.

Says David Guarino of All Saints Episcopal Church, “Austin Interfaith recognizes Mayor Steve Adler, City Manager Spencer Cronk and the members of the City Council for hearing and acting on our concerns.”

“Tonight, the Austin City Council has set a national standard for urban economic incentive programs by recognizing that people deserve the dignity of a living wage from employers who receive economic incentives,” Guarino.

Austin Interfaith has worked years to encourage the city to implement living wage standards for city-subsidized companies.

Support Your Local and Small Businesses, Austin Chronicle

Council Set to Approve Incentive Plan to Help Local, Small Business, CBS Austin [pdf]

Council Considers Which Strings to Attach to Corporate Incentives, Austin Monitor [pdf]

Video of Austin Interfaith Testimony



West / Southwest IAF Organizations

Northwest IAF Organizations