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Working Together Jackson Leaders Call for End to Hate, Anti-Semitism

[Excerpts below]

Faith leaders gathered Monday at the Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson to call for the end to hate in the wake of Saturday’s massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Jewish, Islamic and Christian leaders prayed for tolerance in the same synagogue that members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi bombed in 1967....

“Although this horrific attack did not take place in Mississippi, we understand that Mississippi is not far from the history where terror was used to incite fear and where people were murdered because of their differences,” Working Together Jackson said in a statement....

At the Beth Israel gathering, Bishop Ronnie Crudup of New Horizon Church of Jackson said he was here to “let this city know that we stand with our brothers and sisters.”

If anyone comes after the Jewish community, “you won’t just come after this congregation, you will come after all of us,” he said. He declared, “We Stand Together.”

The crowd joined him in the chant, and he told them, “we’re going to overcome every horrible, demonic circumstance that comes forward.”

After Synagogue Shooting, Mississippi Leaders Call For End to Hate, Anti-SemitismClarion-Ledger

2,000 DAI Leaders Descend on Hottest State, Congressional Races in Texas

On Sunday, October 14th 2,000 leaders and parishioners from Dallas Area Interfaith assembled at the Christian Chapel Temple of Faith to challenge candidates from the Texas Tribune’s 2018 Hotlist, including Texas House Districts 105, 107, 114, and 115, and US Congressional District 32. Republican and Democratic candidates for Coppell, Richardson, and Dallas Independent School District School Board positions also participated.

At the assembly, DAI leaders publicly challenged each candidate to, if elected, commit to working with them on immigration, job training, expansion of healthcare, payday lending, and public education. All participating candidates, including local Republican candidates, publicly committed to partner with DAI leaders in supporting and / or crafting policy in these areas.  One journalist reported that “in a city that’s sharply segregated by race and class, the forum was a rare example of cohesive pluralism.”

The assembly and Get Out The Vote actions are the culmination of a two-year campaign on behalf of the families and communities of Dallas. Less than a year ago, DAI leaders successfully negotiated with Police officers of the cities of Dallas, Farmers Branch, and Carrollton to accept Catholic Parishes ID’s as a form of identification. For immigrant families, having a photo ID could help prevent deportation. Since then, the parish ID strategy spread to the East Coast through DAI’s sister organization in Baltimore, BUILD. Leaders from BUILD testified at the October 14th assembly that Baltimore police officers have committed to accepting the IDs as a valid form of identification.

Since then, leaders have pushed forward with parish-based Get Out The Vote walks across the Dallas area, knocking on hundreds of doors so far and contacting thousands of voters by phone. DAI has also partnered with the business community in a joint press conference to encourage voters to participate in the midterm elections.

DAI Accountability Voter Forum [video]

Texas' Minority GOP Voters: Republican Allies Have Vanished, McClatchy

Why Dallas Republicans Skipped an Interfaith Forum, Rewire.News

Archdiocese of Baltimore Will Offer ‘Parish ID’ to Immigrants and Others Who Have Trouble Obtaining Legal ID, Washington Post

To Help Immigrants Feel Safer Around Police, Some Churches Start Issuing IDs, NPR

Texas 2018 Hotlist: The Most Competitive Races in Texas’ Midterm Election, Texas Tribune

From Levi’s to Southwest Airlines to Walmart, Business Tries to Turn Out The Vote, Dallas Morning News

COPS / Metro Fights for Children's Playground at Beacon Hill Academy

[Excerpt below]

Victoria Cavazos, of Communities Organized for Public Service Metro Alliance, has a daughter in kindergarten at Beacon Hill Academy. Cavazos said the old building is not only cutting into the children's green space, but as of April, the children haven't been allowed to use the playground.

"The district had an assessment done of the building, and because of the hazard of the building, they put a fence around, not only the perimeter of the building, but it also includes the playground," Cavazos said.

SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price said the district has no need for the building and it would be extremely expensive to restore. In fact, the district has requested a demolition permit from the city.

"We'd really like to demolish the building to give children the space that they deserve," Cavazos said.

"We've worked with a lot of different people and a lot of groups to try and get that money," said Michelle Ricondo, of COPS Metro Alliance. "But no one has come forward with the money to renovate the building."

SAISD, City At Odds Over Fate of Old Elementary School, KSAT [pdf]

Valley Interfaith Fights for Drainage Bond to Prevent Future Flood Damage in Las Milpas

After summer floods in Hidalgo County left countless homes destroyed and neighborhoods damaged, Valley Interfaith leaders researched a $190 million bond proposal to upgrade Hidalgo County’s drainage system.  Leaders were soon angered to discover that almost no funding was planned to be allocated for the poorest neighborhoods of Hidalgo.  “Never before has Las Milpas received money to improve the drainage in this community from Hidalgo County,” said Valley Interfaith leader Eddie Anaya. 

Valley Interfaith quickly mobilized, reaching out to their elected officials and ultimately negotiating upwards of $15 million in drainage work in South Pharr and $1 million dollars for South McAllen -- not originally in the bond proposal.

[Our neighborhoods] “stand to receive an unprecedented $15 million that will improve the drainage in South Pharr. We sat down with Commissioner Cantú and expressed our community’s concerns about the original design. He listened, and we like the changes.”

Valley Interfaith Endorses Drainage Proposition, The Monitor [pdf]

Community Groups Urge 'Yes' Vote on $190 Million Bond Election, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]


500 NCG Leaders Leverage Bipartisan Commitments from 13 Candidates

On a dark Wednesday evening, 500 leaders from Nevadans for the Common Good lit up the gym at West Prep Academy and assembled to secure commitments from federal, gubernatorial, and state candidates at a nonpartisan accountability assembly at West Prep Academy. 

With pressure from leaders, candidates committed to work with NCG to increase affordable housing units, invest in public education, increase funding for FQHCs, protect Medicaid expansion, shine a light upon delays in the citizenship process, and create a database to protect consumers from predatory payday lending.

During the forum, leaders shared their personal experiences including on healthcare.  NCG leader Taj Ainlay testified that qualifying for Medicaid enabled him to see a doctor “for the first time in seven years.”  Agatha Ramirez shared that it took her five months to become a US citizen and that it had taken her brother-in-law nineteen months and counting.

Among the candidates who attended were gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak (D), senatorial candidate Jacky Rosen (D), congressional candidates Steven Horsford (D), Susie Lee (D), Danny Tarkanian (R), and Representative Dina Titus (D).

Candidates Asked Views on Pressing Issues at Las Vegas Forum, Las Vegas Review-Journal [pdf]

Tarkanian, Lee Sole Congressional Opponents at Wide-Ranging Candidates Forum, Las Vegas Sun [pdf]

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

'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]