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



Landlord Puts Families at Risk of Homelessness; Immigrant Tenants & MOC Fight Back Despite the Odds

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.

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.

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.

San Rafael Activists Decry Canal Rent Surge, Marin Independent Journal

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 


DAI Parish ID Effort Featured in HBO Special

In response to undocumented families expressing fear about reporting crimes -- even when they themselves are victims -- because of an inability demonstrate who they are, Dallas Area Interfaith and the Dallas Catholic Diocese worked together to create a solution. 

Last year, 1,500 leaders stood with Bishop Edward Burns to invite three police department chiefs to allow their officers to accept parish identification cards, in order to help build trust between the community and the police.  Police department chiefs from Carrollton, Farmers Branch and Dallas agreed.

This year, parishes in the Dallas Catholic Diocese have issued tens of thousands of parish identification cards to parishioners, who now feel more confident in relating to the police.  HBO covers this story in a special segment: 

Catholic Church is Now Issuing Undocumented Immigrants ID Cards, HBO


TMO Gets Out The Vote for Harris Co. Bond Election

TMO leaders organized seven civic academies across Harris County to educate voters about an upcoming County Bond election.  Guests, including Bayou City Initiative’s Jim Blackburn, Harris County Flood District Representatives, and Commissioner Ellis’ staff, joined the meetings.

TMO leaders then organized follow up phone banks to reach thousands of voters during the early voting period. 


Valley Interfaith Fights for Flood Relief for McAllen Colonias

Valley Interfaith leaders from South McAllen colonias -- specifically from Balboa, Hermosa and Idela -- organized a press conference calling on the City to allocate funding for neighborhoods most in need of flood assistance.  With over $50 million to be invested in flooding infrastructure over the next five years, Valley Interfaith says that neighborhoods on the Southside are getting shortchanged. 

Said Pastor Alejandro Flores of San Juan Diego Catholic Church, "I know McAllen is a large area, but we want the response to be proportionate to the need where ever it may be."  Flores says the city itself has admitted that the southwest was one of the hardest hit areas during the floods.

[Photo Credit: Joel Martinez, The Monitor]

Frustrated South McAllen Residents Plead for Relief from June Rains, The Monitor [pdf]

Hardest Hit Flood Areas Say Not Enough Projects Being Proposed, KVEO [pdf]


COPS/Metro Leverages $15 Per Hour Living Wage in San Antonio Draft Budget

[Excerpt below]

For the first time in city history, the lowest-paid municipal workers are set to begin earning $15 an hour — a major victory for COPS/Metro Alliance, which has been advocating for a living wage for several years.

Scully to Present $2.8 Billion Budget with Flat Tax Rate, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]


COPS / Metro Says, "Let the Children Play"

Early this year, 200 COPS/Metro leaders assembled to fight for the future of Beacon Hill Dual Language Academy.  One issue raised by leaders was the restriction of children from access to a playground that had been fenced off because debris from a vacant, crumbling building could potentially hit children.  Though the SAISD building had lain vacant for 20 years, with no plans in place for renovation or replacement, COPS / Metro leaders accepted a commitment from a sitting Council Member to identify funding for its renovation. 

With a new school year approaching, and no money in sight, leaders are insisting that the building must be removed so that children can be granted access to their playground.  The San Antonio Express News agrees, stating:

The desire to preserve what once was is commendable, but in this case it obscures the present...

It’s time to move forward, and let the kids play.

[Photo Credit: Josh Brodesky, Express News]

City Should Let SAISD Tear Down School, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]



West / Southwest IAF Organizations

Northwest IAF Organizations