Click here for West/Southwest IAF Key Victories in 2018

'Nevadans for the Common Good' Lays Groundwork for Payday Lending Fight

[Excerpt below]

“They didn’t read the contract, they didn’t understand or whatever. But just from a Christian standpoint, that what’s Jesus came to do, to help the lowly,” Robin Collins from Green Valley United Methodist Church said. “He came to help the sick, He didn’t come to help the well. So we’re supposed to take care of our brothers and sisters, take care of a widow, take care of an orphan.”

Members of the payday lending industry say they are unfairly stigmatized and provide much-needed access to quick credit that traditional banks or lending institutions do not. Their arguments are bolstered by dozens of lobbyists and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to top candidates.

Still, it’s been more than a decade since the last substantial changes to consumer protection laws on high-interest loans, and advocates — primarily general welfare groups like the Legal Aid of Southern Nevada, a cadre of progressive organizations and the faith-based coalition Nevadans for the Common Good — are looking to the 2019 Legislature as a chance to push for new consumer protections and limits on high-interest lenders.

[Photo Credit: David Calvert, Nevada Independent]

After 2017 Shortcomings, Advocates Prepare to Push for New Consumer Protections on Payday Loans, Nevada Independent

COPS/Metro Expands Into the Suburbs, Targets Congressional and Legislative Races

[Excerpt below]

[COPS / Metro Alliance] hosted a town hall at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Helotes, and invited Republican and Democrat incumbents and challengers for state and Congressional offices that represent West Bexar County and San Antonio’s south and west sides to attend and publicly state their positions on four issues: restoring Texas public school funding; immigration reform; reining in the “payday lending” industry; and increasing job training and re-training programs for displaced workers and in historically under-served areas....

Mendoza says COPS/Metro Alliance decided to become active in more conservative, affluent suburban communities outside the city's inner and outer freeway loops because emerging economic and social challenges are not defined by geography or political affiliation.

With the 2018 midterm elections less than three weeks away, COPS/Metro Alliance today launches a get-out-the-vote phone banking and canvassing initiative....

[Photo by Morgan Montalvo, WOAI]

COPS and Metro Alliance Spreading Message to the Suburbs, WOAI Radio[pdf]

AMOS Fights for 'Housing First' in Ames

In an effort to address key determinants to homelessness, 100 AMOS leaders assembled in Ames with candidates for state and county office to secure commitments around their agenda.  Candidates who participated included Story county Supervisor Rick Sanders (incumbent), Linda Murken, and Josh Opperman.  Also in attendance was Representative Lisa Heddens, from Iowa House District 46.

Leaders succeeded in gaining commitments from the Supervisor to work with AMOS to create a 'Housing First' program in Story County to address the needs of residents with chronic mental illness and housing insecurity, including dedicated county staff-time and resources to the planning effort.  Rep. Heddens committed to working to increase funding for mental health services in the upcoming legislative session.

Link to Video

AMOS-Initiated Skate Park Breaks Ground in Des Moines

At a fateful meeting with the youth of Grace United Methodist Church in 2004, AMOS organizers and leaders learned that young people not involved in organized sports needed more recreational opportunities.  Although several “skate zones" or "plazas” were located in neighborhood parks outside the city, there was no large dedicated skate park in the City of Des Moines. 

AMOS leaders conducted research actions, including site visits to skate parks around the country, and began to build the political will for the park.  At an AMOS assembly with over 200 people, leaders challenged Councilmembers Christine Hensley and Chris Coleman to support the building of a dedicated park for skateboarding. Both agreed. 

Since then, AMOS leaders were at the center of action to promote the park, conducting meetings with Parks & Recreation staff and succeeding in persuading the City to build its first skate park: the Four Mile Skatepark in Northeast Des Moines as a short-term measure.

When efforts to identify funding for the larger park stalled, leaders persisted -- helping develop a plan to raise $3.5 million in private funds.  Fundraising was supercharged in 2015 when The Leadership Circle of the Community Foundation awarded a challenge grant of $500,000 in the hopes of encouraging other contributions.  Since then, Nix and Virginia Laurisden, for whom the park will be named, donated $1 million.  Other individual donors and community foundations invested monies towards the effort.

On October 15th, a groundbreaking ceremony was organized to celebrate the culmination of this AMOS-initiated effort.  The park, to be completed in 2019, will be the largest open-air skate park in the United States, with additional designs to meet Olympic-level qualifying competitions.

14 Years in the Making, Construction on Des Moines' Skate Park is Officially Underway, Des Moines Register

Skatepark Breaks Ground, Donor Backs $250K Sculpture, Business Record

A Brief History of the Des Moines Regional Skatepark, AMOS

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]

700 PCIC Leaders Engage Federal, State Candidates and GOTV

700 PCIC leaders packed the parish hall of St. Pius X Catholic Church to secure commitments from candidates for federal, state and local office around an agenda that included immigration and food security at the federal level, and workforce development, education and healthcare at the state and local level. 

Candidates that attended included Congressional Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (CD 2), Pima County Board of Supervisors’ Chair Richard Elias, and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.  Religious leaders in attendance included Catholic Monsignors Raul Trevizo and Tom Cahalane, Episcopal Rector Robert Hendrickson (St. Philip’s), Rabbi Tom Louchheim (Or Chadash), Lutheran Dean & JobPath Board Chair Steve Springer (Dove of Peace), and Methodist Pastor Sharon Ragland (St. Mark’s).  Bruce Dusenberry, former Chamber of Commerce Chair and Board of JobPath, Flowing Wells School Superintendent David Baker, and Community Food Bank President Michael McDonald also participated.  

Hundreds of PCIC leaders helped Get Out The Vote through election day, resulting in a 70.5% voter turnout rate in Pima County -- the highest in recent history. 

Candidates who committed to the agenda won their elections, including one State House seat and one US Congressional seat (CD-2).  The City Parks & Recreation Bond also passed.  

Candidates State Case for Election Inside Packed Pima County Forum, Tucson News [pdf]

'Accountability Session' Sunday a Chance to Evaluate CandidatesArizona Daily Star  

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."

AMOS Seeks Welfare of the City: Extended Library Hours, Park Lighting and Infrastructure in Lower Income Zip Codes

Leaders packed a church hall to engage Des Moines candidates around including AMOS priorities in key investments in lower income areas of the city.  Candidates who participated and agreed to support the agenda included: Scott Sanders (Des Moines City Manager), Frank Cownie (Des Moines Mayor), Chris Coleman (Des Moines City Councilmember), Josh Mandelbaum (Des Moines City Councilmember Ward 3), and Linda Westergaard (Des Moines City Councilmember Ward 4). 

The City Manager committed to including AMOS priorities in a one-cent local option sales tax increase planned for March 2019. AMOS priorities included: expansion of library hours to at least 6 days per week, lighting in two inner city parks, addressing the growing number of dilapidated/abandoned homes in 50314 and 50316 zip codes, doubling the number of rental housing inspectors, startup funds for a children's mental health crisis unit / observation center, and basic infrastructure improvements (i.e. streets, sidewalks, sewers, and snow removal).

Leaders plan to follow up with public officials who made commitments in early 2019 to ensure their fulfill their pledges.

Group Pushes Des Moines to Use Sales Tax Money to Extend Library Hours, Des Moines Register

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