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Under Trump, as Election Approaches, Almost 235,000 Fewer New Citizens Will be Sworn in This Fiscal Year


Margarita Juarez, originally from Mexico, became a U.S. citizen last year — and brought about a dozen family members and friends to her ceremony. Her celebrators even included her pastor and a volunteer with Dallas Area Interfaith, a nonpartisan group that pushes citizenship campaigns.

“It is so sad that people can’t participate in a ceremony that is so beautiful,” Juarez said of the pandemic restrictions on ceremonies.

She will vote for the first time Nov. 3. She says she is letting her faith in God assist with her election decision.

[Photo Credit: Ryan Michalesko/Dallas Morning News]

Under Trump, As Election Approaches, Almost 235,000 Fewer New Citizens Will Be Sworn In This Fiscal Year, Dallas Morning News [pdf]

San Antonio Report Reframes COPS/Metro Ballot Initiative as Opportunity to Celebrate Labor Day in November


About five years ago, COPS/Metro sought and won “living wage” minimum pay for City workers, resulting in raises for about 20 percent of the civilian workforce. They won similar measures from Bexar County, and some school districts followed suit.

Now two measures on the Nov. 3 ballot offer San Antonians the opportunity to again help lower-rung workers.  Both involve a one-eighth-cent sales tax that for 20 years has provided funding to buy development rights to protect sensitive lands over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

The first ballot measure would transfer those funds to provide about $154 million over the next four years for a job training program projected to boost the incomes of up to 40,000 workers. That’s an aggressive goal, but what gives it credibility is that its approach is based on Project Quest, a jobs training program designed by COPS/Metro 28 years ago.

Interestingly, it was COPS/Metro and their sister organizations around the state that persuaded the Legislature back in 2001 to authorize local governments to spend money on job training and early childhood education. That same law, the Texas Better Jobs Act, permitted San Antonio voters to approve Pre-K 4 SA in November 2012. The highly successful preschool program is up for renewal on the ballot.

[Photo Credit: Scott Ball, San Antonio Report]

Election Day Ballot Will Let You Celebrate Labor Day on November 3rd, San Antonio Report [pdf]

Arizona Interfaith Calls on Dept. of Corrections to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19 in Prisons


A late-July spike in Pima County COVID-19 cases shown on the Arizona Department of Health COVID-19 webpage shows ... 642 cases, the highest number of cases by far that month.

On July 2, Barbara Hudson died in the San Carlos Unit in Perryville Women’s Prison in Goodyear. Before her death, she sought medical care for shortness of breath and chest pain, said Kim Crecca, convenor of the Diocesan Prison Ministry, who has volunteered at Perryville and communicates often with prisoners.

Crecca is part of the Arizona Interfaith Network, a group of faith-based leaders across the state that organizes people for social and economic improvement.

“We feel that her death is a rallying cry, not only to help with the release of inmates as possible but also about the underlying conditions there that make them really vulnerable to the virus,” Crecca said.

“It was alarming very early on in our conversations with the state about how they were not addressing the asymptomatic nature of the virus,” said Joe Rubio, lead organizer of the Arizona Interfaith Network.

The faith groups started meeting with Department of Corrections Director David Shinn in April and less often with Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health Services director, to discuss what the state could do to better protect inmates from the virus.

“No one who is incarcerated should have a death sentence by virus, but particularly those who are incarcerated for low-level offenses,” [Episcopal Bishop Jennifer] Reddall said. “They should not be put in a place where they’re going to die because of some infraction."

[Photo Credit: ]

Tucson Prison Inmates Say Close Conditions, Slow Test Results Spread COVID-19, Arizona Daily Star [pdf]

AMOS Secures $5 Million in New Funding for Longterm Workforce Development in Iowa

AMOS_Press_release.jpgAt the urging of AMOS leaders, Governor Reynolds is investing $5 million for job training paired with wrap-around services from CARES Act funds.

After hearing stories from Iowans facing the stress of unemployment amidst a shifting economic environment, AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) began researching how to help workers get back to work in living wage jobs.

"Losing a job is a trauma for workers and their families," said AMOS leader Rev. Dr. Benjamin Bell Jr. "We know that workers need not only training to be able to access higher-wage work, but also support for that trauma, childcare access and assistance to help them complete a training program and be ready to re-enter the workforce."

Since May, AMOS leaders had been meeting with business, government, and community stakeholders to formulate a job training proposal to address the coronavirus crisis. In July, 100 AMOS leaders convened a Workforce Summit calling on Governor Reynolds to invest in intensively supported job training which was built on a model pioneered by the West / Southwest IAF. This initiative will ensure workers have the training and support they need to get back to work, strengthening their families and better able to support the communities they live in.

Governor Reynolds Heeds AMOS' Call to Invest in Iowa's Workforce, AMOS [pdf]

Common Ground Wins $4 Million in Rental Assistance for Solano County, CA Tenants

On June 16, Common Ground held a civic academy with over 80 leaders, who learned together about strategies to strengthen testing, tracing, and supportive isolation efforts to contain COVID-19. In the research leading up to their academy, they learned that the county would receive $46.5 million in CARES Act funding throughout the state.

When leaders approached county officials about how these funds would be spent, they were met with surprise — no one seemed to know about the funds.

Common Ground leaders immediately initiated meetings with state legislators, county supervisors, and other officials. They organized house meetings and developed a budget of investments needed to support the needs of Solano county families and workers — including funding for TTSI as well as funds for rental assistance and a promotores outreach program to Spanish-speaking families.

When the budget passed, thanks to the urging of Common Ground leaders, it included double the original proposed amount for rental assistance.

Coloradans for the Common Good Raises Alarm on Lack of Student Access to Reliable Internet


A family in the San Luis Valley has made an X in masking tape on the kitchen counter. It’s the only place a remote hotspot works so the children can access remote school lessons. A mother who runs a hair salon in Commerce City brings her daughter to work with her. It’s the only place she can access online learning using her mother’s hotspot. But it means the mother has problems running credit cards at the same time. A third of students in the South Routt School district south of Steamboat Springs don’t have internet access. Teachers, parents and school superintendents told these stories during the Internet Access Summit Wednesday calling for affordable and universal internet, faster download and upload speeds and higher data caps, and training to ensure families can access quality connections.

The virtual summit, sponsored by Coloradans for the Common Good, a coalition of education, labor and faith-based groups, included teachers, school officials, elected officials, and representatives of internet service providers Comcast, Verizon and T-Mobile. “It’s frustrating,” said Toby Melster, superintendent of the Centennial School District in San Luis, Colorado. He estimates about 30 percent of his students are falling behind simply because they don’t have a high-quality internet connection. He said companies have donated some hotspots but because there are multiple people in a family who need to go online, “they’ve got to make a decision about who gets access to the hotspot...”

As Colorado Schools Reopen, Thousands of Students Still Don't Have Reliable Internet, Colorado Public Radio [pdf]

Mountain Voices Project Launches Regional Landlord-Tenant Assistance Program


...during the early portion of an Aug. 11 meeting of Pitkin County commissioners... representatives of the Mountain Voices Project — a consortium of more than 25 nonprofits, faith-based organizations and other entities in the Roaring Fork Valley — sought financial support for a new “landlord-tenant recovery fund” designed to assist low-income families struggling to make ends meet amid the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lindsay Lofaro, executive director of The Buddy Program in Aspen, was one of several speakers advocating for Pitkin County’s support of the fund. She got involved in facilitating the discussion, she said, because her nonprofit mentoring organization is a member of Mountain Voices Project (also known as MVP) — and also because of her familiarity with Pitkin County officials and local fundraising sources.

According to information provided by MVP, the overall request is for $1 million to get the program started this year...

The general plan calls for families to receive three months of rental assistance. MVP will supply one-third of the payments to landlords. The families themselves will pay one-third. The balance would be foregone by the landlords themselves, should they agree to participate. The Uncle Bob Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the Garfield County Housing Authority, will serve as fiscal agent for the fund.

“We’re hearing from different organizations that there is a need. Families are on a waitlist right now. There are families in Pitkin County facing possible eviction. This fund could help them get up to speed,” Lofaro said.

[Photo Credit: Andre Salvail, Aspen Daily News]

Help On The Way: Valleywide Relief Project Aims to Avert Evictions During Uncertain Times, Aspen Daily News [pdf]



COPS/Metro Among Heavy Hitters Called By Mayor to Win Voter Approval of Coronavirus Economic Recovery Plan


Less than two months before early voting begins, Mayor Ron Nirenberg has called in several heavy hitters to steer his campaign to use a sales tax to help residents get back to work after they lost their jobs to the coronavirus.

The campaign, known as “Build SA,” faces the daunting task of figuring out how to break through a noisy November election to convince San Antonio voters to put more than $150 million toward a still loosely defined proposal that city officials estimate would help 40,000 residents get higher-paying jobs....

The mayor has assembled a trio of co-chairs to lead the effort: Blakely Fernandez, a partner at law firm Bracewell and former Alamo Colleges trustee; Linda Chavez-Thompson, former executive vice president of the national AFL-CIO and a former VIA Metropolitan Transit board member; and Sonia Rodriguez, a leader of the local grassroots organization COPS/Metro.

[Photo Credit: KENS5]

San Antonio Mayor Calling In Heavy Hitters for Campaign to Win Voter Approval of Coronavirus Economic Recovery Plan, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]

City to Ask Voters Whether to Redirect 1/8 Cent Sales Tax Towards Workforce Education, KENS5 [pdf]

Together New Orleans: Folgers' Failure to Report Property Costs New Orleans $9M in Public Services


...Members of the community are asking why a major New Orleans employer is asking for a tax exemption on years-old additions made to their facilities. The watchdog group Together New Orleans says Folgers Coffee Company, with two locations in New Orleans East, should owe the city millions in taxes on additions at their plants dating back to 2017.

It has people like Shawn Anglim, who helped create Morris Jeff Community School, concerned for the entities that could be receiving much-needed tax money during a pandemic.

“We are not really asking for much, we’re asking for Folgers to follow the law,” Anglim said.

The law Anglim mentioned, requires businesses like Folgers to pay taxes on personal property, machinery, equipment and merchandise.

Zurik: Watchdog, Community Members Say New Orleans Company Owes Millions on Years-Old Improvements, FOX 8 [pdf]

COPA Leverages Extension of Eviction Moratorium PLUS $1M for Struggling Renters & Landlords in Santa Cruz Co.


The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors took two important steps today to respond to the pressure on renters unable to earn a living because of the impact of the pandemic on their jobs and businesses. The Supervisors extended the moratorium on evictions to keep tenants housed while providing funds for landlords to cover missed rent payments. Speaking in support of the Board’s actions, COPA leader Jorge Savala said, “Families have abided by the government call to shelter-in-place to reduce the spread of Covid-19, bearing the consequence of lost income, only now to be faced with losing the roof over their heads. Today’s decision to extend the moratorium on evictions will help to prevent a new pandemic of homelessness.”

Landlords are also feeling the pinch when rents are unpaid. As a result of meetings with COPA in June, Supervisor’s Leopold and McPherson sponsored a $1 million rental assistance program from CARES Act funds for inclusion in the 2021-22 budget. Supervisor Leopold, having initiated the original moratorium on evictions at the start of the pandemic, added; “I recognized the severity of the problem in our community and worked hard to find the money to help people during their time of need.”

COPA Leads Community Effort to Extend Renters Protections and Funding for Landlords, Communities Organized for Relational Power