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New Ground 131

July - August, 2010

Contents

  • Village Board Gags on Justice by Tom Broderick
  • Mobilizing for Jobs: National March and Rally by Bill Barclay
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • CDSA Convention
    Greider @ the Dinner
    YDS
    Labor Support Work
    Living Wages
    The 2010 US Social Forum

    New Ground 131.1 - 08.02.2010

    0. DSA News

    Red Letter

    1. Politics

    Emergency Action for Jobs
    Sitting Down, Hotel Workers Rise by Bob Roman
    TIF-ed Off
    Green Party

    2. Ars Politica

    Elegy to Steinbrenner by Hugh Iglarsh

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 131.2 - 08.16.2010

    0. DSA News

    Frothing and Foaming Mouths by Bob Roman

    1. Politics

    It's an Emergency. Where Are the Jobs? by Bob Roman
    2nd City
    Glenn Beck Has His Moment of Honesty and Clarity
    Labor in the Pulpit
    Vacant Properties Ordinance

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Socialism is the Alternative
    The Quiet Revolution
    Envisioning Real Utopias

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 131.3 - 09.01.2010

    0. DSA News

    Democratic Left
    DSA in the News
    The Diet of Wurts: the 2010 YDS Summer Conference

    1. Politics

    Social Insecurity Again
    Hotel Workers Add 3 Chicago Hyatts to Boycott List
    Warehouse Workers for Justice
    2011 Preliminary Budget Public Hearings
    1963
    Beyond Repair
    Jobs Conference
    Democracy Now!

    2. Ars Politica

    Homage to Forgottonia

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Exploring Ecosocialism as a System of Thought

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest


    Village Board Gags on Justice

    by Tom Broderick

    As far as the current Oak Park Village Board of Trustees is concerned, there will be no living wage ordinance for Oak Park. On Tuesday, July 6, 2010, the Village Board met for the first time to consider the report generated by the Community Relations Commission (CRC). In January 2009, the Village Board assigned the CRC to study the impact that a living wage ordinance would have on Oak Park.

    The CRC was tasked to study this because in November 2008 there was a referendum on the Oak Park ballot asking if the Village of Oak Park should enact a comprehensive living wage ordinance covering workers who were either directly or indirectly paid using Village dollars. During our great recession, the voters of Oak Park said "YES" by a 20% margin.

    Taking their responsibility seriously, the commission spent thirteen months working through the ramifications that a living wage ordinance would have on our Village. John Murtagh, who was the CRC Chair, said this was the first "meat and potatoes issue" the commission had dealt with in some time.

    Commissioners did individual research and held a conference call with Dr. Amy Glasmeier of Pennsylvania State University. She developed the PSU Calculator, which is used to calculate what a living wage would be in various geographic areas. The commissioners wanted to better understand the methodology behind the calculator.

    Thirteen months of struggle and two public forums later, the CRC voted seven to two to submit their report to the Village Board. That report included a recommendation that the Board enact a living wage ordinance. As the vote took place, there were many strong endorsements that a living wage ordinance was good public policy and represented the values of our community. Commissioner Bob Kane said he had voted against the referendum but now felt strongly that this made for good public policy.

    After the vote, Murtagh, who voted against the report, said that the commissioners on the CRC were likely the most knowledgeable people in Oak Park on the issue.

    So what happened? Bias and ignorance took center stage at the July 6th Board meeting.

    Cecil Hunt, the current chair of the Community Relations Commission made a very good presentation of their report, including the recommendation that the Village Board enact a comprehensive living wage ordinance.

    After Hunt made his presentation, the Board allowed three speakers in support of and three speakers against the ordinance proposal to address the Trustees. They also allowed Bamshad Mobasher, co-author of the CRC report to make a short statement.

    Ron Baiman, co-chair of Chicago DSA, who drafted our original proposal, discussed the studies made on existing living wage communities and how little negative impact had been recorded. Rich Pokorny, chair of the Unity Temple Social Mission Committee addressed the positive aspects of government intervention and oversight, raising the question "Where did our great recession come from?" Pokorny also gave the Board 500 post cards signed by Oak Park residents who still think a comprehensive living wage ordinance is a good idea. Reverend C.J. Hawking, Executive Director of ARISE Chicago spoke of the moral imperative of paying wages that lift workers out of poverty. She also provided a copy of Living Wage: Building a Fair Economy, a book written by Robert Pollin and Stephanie Luce, to each of the Trustees.

    Martin Noll, chair of the Oak Park Development Corporation (OPDC) said that OPDC is "unalterably opposed" to a living wage ordinance. Kim Goldschmidt, President of the Oak Park~River Forest Chamber of Commerce and Bob Loro, owner of Loro Auto Works in Oak Park also spoke against the proposal. One of them actually said enacting a living wage ordinance would be an insult to those workers who already make one.

    They were all willing to talk about how few workers would benefit from the proposed ordinance, but it took Village Trustee Colette Lueck to elicit that very few businesses would be impacted -- only some of those receiving Village dollars.

    There was much confusion and concern over enforcement of the ordinance. There was concern over the difficulties that businesses would face in living up to the agreement. There was concern that the CRC proposal did not cover workers with disabilities. There was concern that the CRC proposal exempted workers who worked fewer than 20 hours per week. The Village Board had many questions and concerns. How did they address them?

    At least six of the Trustees thanked the CRC for their hard work. Then President David Pope asked for a motion to receive the report from the CRC. Trustee Ray Johnson asked for an amendment to receive the report but strip it of the recommendation to enact a living wage. After brief discussion, Trustee Jon Hale seconded with a declaration that the referendum that received a 60% "YES" vote was "thankfully non-binding." "This isn't California," he continued. He also said that if those who voted for the referendum were Trustees, perhaps they'd think and act differently.

    A vote was taken to strip the CRC report of the recommendation to enact. Trustees Ray Johnson, Jon Hale, John Hedges and Jan Pate voted "yes." A special note on Trustee Pate: she is the Board liaison to the Community Relations Commission. At the July 6th meeting, she said she had been "kept apprised" of the commission's work. Pate didn't make it to one of the CRC's regularly scheduled meetings during the thirteen months they spent deliberating the proposal.

    President Pope and Trustees Colette Lueck and Glenn Brewer voted against stripping the recommendation from the report. The recommendation to enact was removed.

    President Pope then called for a vote to accept the report as amended. The vote was identical. The report without recommendation was received. Unless any Trustee wants to pursue a living wage ordinance for Oak Park, the issue will go nowhere under this Board.

    Instead of trying to find out the answers to the questions they were raising, instead of accepting the judgment of the body they asked to research the issue, the very body that Murtagh said probably said knew more about the issue than anyone else in Oak Park, our Village Board decided to say "NO" to the voters and say "Thanks but no thanks" to the CRC.

    What next? This is a setback, but not necessarily a defeat. The three co-sponsors of this fight are Greater Oak Park DSA, Unity Temple Social Mission Committee and Oak Park Coalition for Truth & Justice. We must figure out how to broaden the coalition and move forward.

    We must also keep an eye on the next election for Village Board Trustees. Some of the Trustees who chose to disregard the "YES" vote by the people of Oak Park may want to seek their support in the next election.

    We will assess our commitment to the issue and deliberate on ways to broaden and strengthen support for a government policy that improves the lives of human beings in measurable and meaningful ways. This is a proper function of a democratic government.


    Mobilizing for Jobs:

    National March and Rally

    by Bill Barclay

    One of the prominent themes at the US Social Forum was the need for a jobs program appropriate to the scale of the jobs deficit: a loss of 8.2 million existing jobs since December 2007 plus the 7.3 million already unemployed at that time (as of June 2010 there were another 8.6 million underemployed, working part time but wanting full time work). An important outcome of both the USSF and the larger political discussion of employment is the call for a national Jobs Rally and March in Washington D.C. on October 2, 2010. Several groups are already involved in organizing for the rally, including Jobs with Justice, NAACP, and several unions. More information is available at http://onenationworkingtogether.org. Ideas for local actions in early August are also under discussion.

    Chicago DSA is considering organizing a bus to go to the rally. If you are or think you might be interested in going to the rally, please let the Chicago DSA office know. We estimate the cost/person at $75, not including food, if we can fill a bus. Call us at 773-384-0327 if you are interested in joining people across the country for this extremely important rally. It's our chance to get the political and the pundit classes focused on the real deficit: the jobs deficit.

    These mobilizations are urgent and important. While private sector jobs are indeed being added to the economy, at the current rate of increase, it will take decades to replace the jobs lost during the formal recession. For a look at the numbers, see this PowerPoint presentation prepared by the Chicago Political Economy Group : http://www.cpegonline.org/multimedia/JobsProgramNow.ppt .


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

     

    CDSA Convention

    A synopsis of the membership meeting is on page 2, but in summary, all the incumbent officers were re-elected without opposition, except for the female co-chair position for which there were no candidates at all.

    The meeting also adopted a truly skeletal yet deficit budget, anticipating a loss of about $3,000. We do have the reserves to cover this, and deficit budgets have been typical for the Chicago local though we sometimes end up pretty much breaking even or even adding to our reserve. The big variable is our annual dinner. In June, it's very hard to predict the next year's dinner gross or net. The years we've done well have been covering for the years we've not.

    It may not show in the synopsis, but the meeting was not happy with our fiscal condition. The deficit is not so bad except that there is also not much money for doing things, including replacing some of our aging computer equipment and software. This kind of budget worked, after a fashion, last year. It might work this year. It's not a tenable situation for much longer.

    T-shirts will not solve the problem, but they could be a fun and useful contribution anyway. So we're going to have union-made Chicago DSA t-shirts for sale, and we're going to have a contest for the design. Email (chiildsa@chicagodsa.org ) or mail your design entry to the Chicago DSA office. Entries will be judged on aesthetics, practicality, humor, and politics. What will you win? A t-shirt, at least, but maybe more. Deadline? To be announced but sometime 2010.

     

    Greider @ the Dinner

    CAN TV recorded William Greider's talk at the 2010 Debs Thomas Harrington Dinner for later broadcast to Chicago cable subscribers, but it's now available to all on the web: http://www.cantv.org/VIDEO-BringAmericaHome.htm .

     

    YDS

    The Young Democratic Socialists have a new national organizer, Andrew Porter. Porter is a graduate of the College of Wooster, where he had begun a campus group, Ice Cream Socialists, that quickly affiliated with YDS. Since graduating, he's worked at a number of green organizing and policy jobs, so he's not so green, in a manner of speaking.

    The annual YDS Summer Retreat will be held August 5 through 8 at the Valley Brook Inn in Wurtsboro, New York. For more information, go to http://www.ydsusa.org .

     

    Labor Support Work

    The Chicago Department of Aviation is putting the O'Hare Airport concession contracts up for bid. UNITE HERE Local 1 has contracts covering the workers at some of these concessions, and Local 1 and friends have been petitioning Commissioner Rosemary Adolinoto to include a living wage in the request for proposals to be sent out. See http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng130.html#anchor338961 for more details. Chicago DSA members are involved in this campaign, and we may be asking for your help too.

    In addition to the front page of New Ground 130, Chicago DSA sent out over 700 postcards advertising the 7th year anniversary picket and rally in support of the Congress Hotel strike on June 14. We targeted the downtown zip codes and our list of labor activists for the mailing. Nearly a dozen DSA members were in attendance and Chicago DSA's new banner made its second public appearance.

    Warehouse Workers for Justice tells us that New Ground readers have contributed well over $500 and that contributions are still coming in. They're using the money to pay warehouse worker to canvass fellow-workers on job conditions, research that no one else has been doing, apparently. You'll be hearing more about this in the future.

     

    Living Wages

    There's been a considerable amount of material regarding Living Wage campaigns in Oak Park, Chicago, and Cook County (Chicago DSA has been a part of them all) published in New Ground. Now links to most of these articles are available in one place: http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/livingwage.html .

     

    The 2010 US Social Forum

    The 2010 US Social Forum was held in Detroit from June 22 - 27th. An estimated 10,000 people attended one or more of the USSF's hundreds of panels and workshops. DSA and YDS sponsored 4 workshops: "A Permanent Jobs Program for the United States," "Movement Building and the Atlanta Fighting Foreclosure Coalition," "Reclaiming the Ivory Towers: Students Achieving Access and Affordability," and "WTF is Socialism Anyway??? The Campus as a Battleground of Class Struggle." The "Permanent Jobs Program" workshop was conducted by members of the Chicago DSA (the presentation can be found at www.cpegonline.org ). In addition, DSA held an "Ice Cream Socialist" open event to meet and talk with other socialists and those curious about socialism, DSA and YDS.

    In addition to the workshops and forums, DSA staffed a table for the entire time of the conference. This gave us a chance to talk with other USSF attendees and to distribute our recently completed "Social and Economic Bill of Rights (EBOR)." EBOR is the product of DSA's Economic Security Working Group that was established at the 2009 DSA Convention held in Chicago. EBOR exists in both a short 4 page form, perfect for distributing at rallies and meetings, and a longer background version that develops rationales of each of the 10 rights described in the short form. The short form is available from the Chicago DSA office; the longer paper can be found on the national DSA website , dsausa.org .

    A special thanks to the Detroit DSA chapter for all the work they did in preparing for the USSF and DSA/YDS participation in the event.

     

    Bill Barclay contributed material to Other News.


    New Ground #131.1

    08.02.2010

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Red Letter

    1. Politics

    Emergency Action for Jobs
    Sitting Down, Hotel Workers Rise by Bob Roman
    TIF-ed Off
    Green Party

    2. Ars Politica

    Elegy to Steinbrenner by Hugh Iglarsh

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Red Letter
    The Summer, 2010, issue of Young Democratic Socialists' Red Letter is now on the web.



    Politics

    Emergency Action for Jobs
    On Friday August 6th, the latest unemployment figures will be released and Congress will begin its next recess. We will be in the street demanding that Wall Street pay to clean up the mess they created and that Congress get to work putting America back to work before THEY are out of a job!

    Join with Chicago Jobs with Justice, Chicago DSA and other friends and allies to demand immediate intervention in our economic crisis!

    Friday August 6th
    11:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M.
    LaSalle and Jackson, Chicago

    For more information, CLICK HERE.

    Sitting Down, Hotel Workers Rise
    by Bob Roman
    On Thursday, July 22, several hundred people gathered in front of downtown Chicago's Hyatt Regency hotel to protest the Hyatt chain's failure to negotiate a new contract and, more to the point, to protest management's attempt to take back gains made in the previous contract. Management's rationale being the recession at a time when business at the Hyatt is recovering and the enterprise is, in any case, profitable. This action was part of a nationwide day of action at Hyatt hotels called by UNITE HERE.

    Some 17 different actions were held in the United States and Canada. With the exception of a Thursday morning action out at the Hyatt near O'Hare Airport, they all featured civil disobedience leading to arrests. In Chicago, not all those participating in blocking the street remained to be arrested. This was done to allow some police officers time off to attend slain police officer Michael Bailey's wake and funeral. Not all the participants were happy about this, but everyone behaved in a disciplined and focused manner.

    This is the second time UNITE HERE has used large-scale civil disobedience in Chicago, the first was last fall targeting the Hyatt hotel near Chicago & Michigan. Local 1 usually characterizes these actions as intended to call attention to their struggle and the issues involved. As a public relations tool, there's no denying its effectiveness compared to a simple rally or picket line. Media were all over it.

    But if it were only a PR tactic, civil disobedience probably would not be worth doing, mostly. It's a risky business, for one thing, no matter how well choreographed it is with the local police. Too much can go wrong. For another, it's also a good deal more expensive than you might think. Finally, it can't be done too frequently before it becomes old news, requiring its abandonment or escalation.

    What tips the scale is its role in building worker organization and solidarity. Turn the clock back to 2002, right before the members of Local 1 won a significant increase in wages and benefits by threatening to strike during one of the busiest tourist seasons. As part of their campaign, Local 1 organized a march down Michigan avenue with banners proclaiming each of the hotels where the local had representation. It was a good march with a much better than adequate turn out. But what was notable was the lack of confidence. Every person who showed up was greeted not simply with pleasure but relief. The members often lacked confidence that their fellow workers had their back.

    In 2010, the dynamic was much different. In the training sessions and rehearsals, people were still greeted with pleasure, but it was in the spirit of "well met" rather than "thank god you're here." There was a sense of purpose and competence. They were people confident that their backs are covered: by the union, by the community, and most importantly by the people they work with every day.

    This is not entirely due to the civil disobedience tactic. I've heard some interesting rumors about developments in Local 1's internal organization, but since I've no experience with these matters, let's leave it with: there's more going on than just civil disobedience.

    The dispute with the Hyatt hotel chain does seem to be coming to a head. UNITE HERE members have voted to authorize a strike. With the settlement of the civil war between UNITE HERE and SEIU / Workers United, the union seems pretty well positioned to defend its members position, if not win more. The most disturbing news was a comment by the President of UNITE HERE Local 2, Mike Casey: "The hotel industry is comprised of some pretty clueless decision makers. They turn over so much that they don't learn from history, and make the same mistakes over and over again." Management that is unstable and expendable tends to regard employees as even more expendable. At worst, this suggests a period of guerilla labor war before any settlement, and quite possibly more civil disobedience.

    At least three Chicago DSA members were among those who sat down in the street on July 22 though none of us, I think, were among those privileged to be arrested. There were several DSA members in the crowd supporting the sit-down, as well. And we did a small postcard mailing of a few hundred directed primarily at our database for the neighborhood of the Hyatt Regency.

    For more coverage of this, I'd suggest Progress Illinois, In These Times, Talking Union, and Hotel Workers Rising.

    TIF-ed Off
    Not only do the TIF districts in Chicago collect taxes totalling something close to the city's current budget deficit, they are typically unable to spend all that they collect. In a special report published in Progress Illinois, Josh Kalvern tells where the money would have gone otherwise and the options the City of Chicago has or (with legislation) could have to spend that money. CLICK HERE.

    Green Party
    The Green Party held its Illinois State Convention at the Loyola University lakeshore campus in Chicago July 30 through August 1. August 2nd is a bit early for news to be posted on the Green Party web site, but streaming video should be available HERE.


    Ars Politica

    Elegy to Steinbrenner

    George was rich, now he's dead.
    The glory of the world is fled.

    All who love the Yankees
    Dab their eyes with pinstriped hankies.

    He who made Captain Queeg
    Look altogether minor league.

    A conscience not quite clean,
    But winning helped restore the sheen.

    I offer this lament:
    His contract's up, his payroll's spent.

    -- Hugh Iglarsh



    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Wednesday, August 4, 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
    Jobless not Voiceless
    Northside Action for Justice Office @ Edgewater Presbyterian Church, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, #310, Chicago
    The first of a series of potlucks for anyone that's out of work, worried about the economy, needing to find help or angry about the lack of jobs. For more information, CLICK HERE.

    Wednesday, August 4, 7 PM to 8:30 PM
    Understanding Municipal Budgets
    Citizen Advocacy Center, 182 N. York Rd, Elmhurst
    Learn how municipal budgets are made, how to access budget documents, understand what budgets mean. For information call 630.833.4080.

    Thursday, Auigust 5, 7:30 PM
    Protest against Americans For Truth About Homosexuality
    Christian Liberty Academy
    Sponsored by the Gay Liberation Network. For those traveling from Chicago, meet in front of the Ogilvie Transportation Center, 500 W. Madison, at 6 PM sharp (just look for the rainbow flag!).

    Friday, August 6, 11 AM to Noon
    Emergency Action for Jobs
    Start: 205 W. Randolph, Chicago; End: LaSalle & Jackson, Chicago
    Rally and march to demand Congressional action for jobs. For more information, CLICK HERE.

    Friday, August 6 through Sunday, August 8
    YDS Summer Conference
    Valley Brook Inn, Wurtsboro, NY
    For more information, CLICK HERE.

    Sunday, August 8, 10 AM to 2 PM
    People's Radio Workshop Part I
    Mess Hall, 6932 N. Glenwood, Chicago
    A two-part workshop on building a low-power FM radio station from the ground up! For more information, CLICK HERE.

    Tuesday, August 10, 7 PM
    "Carbon Nation"
    Pritzger Pavillion, Millenium Park, Chicago
    A "green carpet" event featuring live performances, celebrity appearances and the Chicago premier screening of "Carbon Nation." see http://www.carbonnation.tv

    Saturday, August 14, 12:30 PM
    CDSA Executive Committee Meeting
    CDSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    All DSA members are welcome.

    Sunday, August 15, 10 AM to 2 PM
    People's Radio Workshop Part II
    Mess Hall, 6932 N. Glenwood, Chicago
    A two-part workshop on building a low-power FM radio station from the ground up! For more information, CLICK HERE.

    Wednesday, August 18, 5 PM
    "Show Us the Tax Breaks"
    The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, 65 E. Huron St, Chicago
    A screening of "Show Us the Tax Breaks" followed by a panel discussion featuring Kelly Hounshell, Professor Martin Wolfson, Rick Perlstein, Tom Geoghegan, Jorge Ramirez. Call Elliott Mallen 312.656.5807 for information.


    New Ground #131.2

    08.16.2010

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Frothing and Foaming Mouths by Bob Roman

    1. Politics

    It's an Emergency. Where Are the Jobs? by Bob Roman
    2nd City
    Glenn Beck Has His Moment of Honesty and Clarity
    Labor in the Pulpit
    Vacant Properties Ordinance

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Socialism is the Alternative
    The Quiet Revolution
    Envisioning Real Utopias

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Froth and Foaming Mouths
    by Bob Roman
    Well, keyboards anyway. For a long time, the idea that members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are all crypto-DSA members has been circulating among right-wing lists, forums and blogs like a summer flue. Very much like the flu in that it spreads much the same way and, like the flue, it's a disease: The story is, unfortunately, not true. Part of the myth is the assertion that the Progressive Caucus' web site was once upon a time hosted by DSA. The truth is somewhat more mundane. In the early years of the web (and the Progressive Caucus, when it was chaired by Bernie Sanders), DSA was a vocal booster of the project and had a considerable amount of information about the Progressive Caucus on its web site. The Progressive Caucus, at the time, had little web presence of its own. That began to change. Around that time (before? after? I don't recall), the right "discovered" the somewhat one-sided relationship and began its ranting. "52 Secret Socialists in Congress," headlined the various web pages and email posts. By that time, Bernie Sanders was no longer the chair, and his successor essentially said: DSA? Who?

    The Progressive Caucus material came down, but the conservatives were high. They made the liberals flinch. It's been a part of their mythology ever since. And in a metaphysical sense, who is to gainsay them? "Socialist" is a contested concept, and "socialist" to me may very well not have much to do with "socialist" to a conservative. The only thing that's an actual fact is that the overwhelming majority of the caucus members have never been members of DSA.

    DSA's relationship with the Progressive Caucus has always been pretty informal and one-sided. We did, however, have a much closer and substantive part in the organizing of the Progressive Coalition. See this account if you're interested.

    With the November Congressional elections approaching, radical conservatives have been coming down with this virus more frequently, but it's been a fairly low-level infection. Recently a "Jim Hoft" at the "Gateway Pundit" blog posted an article claiming "The Socialist Party of America announced in their October 2009 newsletter that 70 Congressional democrats currently belong to their caucus." The article referenced a web site "American Socialist Voter" that has an information page about DSA, but the site is not affiliated with any political party or DSA for that matter. It had no reference to the Progressive Caucus. It also referenced a document posted on the publishing site and document archive, Scribd.com, that was a rehash of the Progressive Caucus myth and had no relation to the "American Socialist Voter" site.

    Since Hoft's lie claimed confirmation of what conservatives dreamed of, the contagion was pretty impressive, with several dozen conservative blogs picking it up. It's perfectly human to accept as truth a falsehood with pedigree credentials. One can think of other examples on every side of the political spectrum. But it is discouraging when the "proof" is so obviously bogus and so easily accessible. Only a few of conservative bloggers or commenters expressed doubt over the transparently phony documentation; most of the others were having too much fun. One of the former is Trevor Loudon of New Zeal, a libertarian with something of an obession with DSA. I am so grateful for a conservative with some respect, at least, for facts. They seem so rare these days. Too bad he's not an American.



    Politics

    It's an Emergency: Where Are the Jobs?
    by Bob Roman
    As lunch hour protests go, the Friday, August 6, demonstration in Chicago's Financial District was pretty good: at least a couple hundred people milled about in a compressed area around LaSalle & Jackson, a place guaranteed to irritate building management at the Board of Trade, at least. But it was a tough crowd. There were passers-by who were supportive, even enthusiastic. But most, even the tourists (mostly headed for Grant Park, able to afford tickets to Lollapalooza), were at least nonplused if not downright hostile. It was a somewhat polarized audience. And worse, media coverage was mostly absent. See Channel 7 and Progress Illinois.

    2nd City
    Actually, we're tied with Philadelphia, with 17.5% of the workforce belonging to a union, according to Chicago Union News:

    Many people still think of Chicago as a big "union town" -- and they're right, at least compared to most other major U.S. cities.

    Out of the 10 most populated American cities, the Chicago region ranks second -- tied with metro Philadelphia ­- for having the largest percentage of union members in the workforce, an analysis by ChicagoUnionNews.com found.

    About 17.5 percent of employees in the Chicago area belong to a union, according to 2009 data from the Union Membership and Coverage Database, which uses monthly household surveys to calculate the estimates. The bulk of Chicago's membership comes from the public sector, which is 54.7 percent unionized, while the private sector is 11.4 percent union.

    Read More

    In the meantime, the Gallup Poll reports:

    A slim majority of 52% of Americans say they approve of labor unions, the second lowest approval rating in Gallup's 70-year history of this trend, behind only last year's 48%.

    The gross numbers conceal a great deal of polarization. For example, 72% of union members or members of union households approve of unions while non-union households reflect the national numbers. There are also differences between self-identified Democrats and Republicans. Read More.

    Glenn Beck Has His Moment of Honesty and Clarity
    For one brief moment at the beginning of his August 5, 2010, show:

    GLENN BECK, HOST: You know, I'm just sitting here, looking at something -- because I ran so late -- look at this. This is from the Democratic Socialists of America, all these people involved with the DSA.

    Just look at this. Where's camera 3 -- there it is. Look at this: "The alternative to capitalism is Democratic socialism." Is that the change you were hoping for, America?

    I want to have a conversation with you here. Gosh, I don't know why people watch this show. This is the weirdest show in history, but it's just you and me.

    Emphasis added.

    Labor in the Pulpit
    Interfaith Worker Justice continues its annual Labor Day "Labor in the Pulpit" program where congregations celebrate the sacred link between faith, work, and justice by inviting a union member or labor leader to be a guest speaker on Labor Day weekend, or by focusing their Labor Day weekend service on worker justice issues. To find out what's on near you, click here.

    Vacant Properties Ordinance
    Action Now reports "On July 28th, 2010 Alderman Pat Dowell, at the request of Action Now and our allies in the Foreclosure Convening, introduced a new ordinance that would finally charge the banks the real cost of their actions to foreclose and evict. This proposed legislation would hold banks responsible for the properties they foreclose on by requiring the bank post a bond of $10,000 on every vacant building." Read More.

    Also see BPI's "Vacant Properties Resources."



    Democratic Socialism

    Socialism Is the Alternative
    DSA Vice Chair talks about "building a movement to solve the crisis" at the 2010 Social Forum in Detroit. On the same panel, Chicago DSA's David Schweickart gave this presentation.

    The Quiet Revolution
    In In These Times, Andrew Kennis writes about the spread of participatory democracy in Venezuela:

    "Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's megalomaniac president who has spearheaded the country's Bolivarian revolution and garnered so much attention, is not the only one shaking up the country's political system. A community-based revolution is underway in Venezuela. Ordinary people all over are changing how their communities are governed."

    Read More

    Envisioning Real Utopias
    Britian's New Left Project interviews Erik Olin Wright on his new book, Envisioning Real Utopias. The first of two parts, this part, the focus is on the foundations of emancipatory alternatives to capitalism, and the existing practices that inform those foundations.



    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Wednesday, August 18, 5 PM
    "Show Us the Tax Breaks"
    The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, 65 E. Huron St, Chicago
    A screening of "Show Us the Tax Breaks" followed by a panel discussion featuring Kelly Hounshell, Professor Martin Wolfson, Rick Perlstein, Tom Geoghegan, Jorge Ramirez. Call Elliott Mallen 312.656.5807 for information.

    Thursday, August 19, 7 PM
    Afghanistan and Beyond: America's Path to Permanent War
    First United Methodist Church of Chicago, 77 W. Washington St, Chicago
    Andrew Bacevich, award-winning author and Boston University professor, will appear in discussion with Jerome McDonnell, host of WBEZ's "Worldview." Co-sponsors: North Suburban Peace Initiative, Lincoln Park Neighbors United for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, Logan Square Neighbors for Peace and truth-out.org.

    Tuesday, August 24, 5 PM to 7 PM
    Live History: A Celebration with Kent Foreman
    Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct., Chicago
    The Guild Complex hosts a celebration of Kent Foreman, whose career has spanned five decades and whom the Chicago Tribune has called the "elder statesman of spoken word." Also appearing are Roger Bonair-Agard, Regie Gibson and Marty McConnell. More Information.

    Wednesday, August 25, 7 PM to 9:30 PM
    Race, Justice, and Resisting the Police State
    No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave, Chicago
    Crusading attorney Dennis Cunningham and historian of race David Roediger will speak on Race & Justice. More information.

    Monday, August 30, Noon
    Use of Credit Checks in Employment
    First United Methodist Church of Chicago, 77 W. Washington St, Chicago
    Town Hall Meeting and Congressional Briefing featuring Congressman Luis Gutierrez on legislation banning the use of credit checks in hiring decisions. (How is one to fix one's credit if one can't get a job?) For more information contact Nat Lippert at UNITE HERE Local 1, 312.663.4373.


    New Ground #131.3

    09.01.2010

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    New Ground Labor Day Issue
    Democratic Left
    DSA in the News
    The Diet of Wurts: the 2010 YDS Summer Conference

    1. Politics

    Social Insecurity Again
    Hotel Workers Add 3 Chicago Hyatts to Boycott List
    Warehouse Workers for Justice
    2011 Preliminary Budget Public Hearings
    1963
    Beyond Repair
    Jobs Conference
    Democracy Now!

    2. Ars Politica

    Homage to Forgottonia

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Exploring Ecosocialism as a System of Thought

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Democratic Left
    The Summer, 2010, issue of Democratic Left is available online. Click Here.

    DSA in the News
    From the Washington City Paper, this snarky comment on the DC mayoral contest.

    The Washington Post continues with the snark, but aims it at the Republicans, who are apparently not fielding a candidate for DC mayor, leaving them less influential than the socialists?

    Fox News notes Eliseo Medina's new position in SEIU, but wants everyone to know just what a dangerous radical and advocate of immigrant rights he is by also noting his post as an honorary officer in DSA. Thank you, Fox News! In the meantime, Glen Beck strikes again. You know those unemployed folks who are asking for an extension of unemployment insurance benefits? They may look like normal people, but they're really DSA members. Well, they should be. They're holding a banner that says just that!

    Finally, our very own Chicago Reader takes note of the latest mutation in the "Progressive Caucus is a bunch of DSA members" and attempts to snark it to death. Impossible, of course. As an example, see The Cypress Times.

    Snark hunting, anyone?

    The Diet of Wurts: the 2010 YDS Summer Conference
    "August 2010 marked the third time Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) held its Socialist Summer Retreat in bucolic Wurtsboro, NY. This gathering of 40 YDS members included new members from South Carolina, Florida, and California and veterans from established chapters at the College of Wooster (Ohio), William Paterson University (New Jersey), and Wichita State University (Kansas)." Read More.



    Politics

    Social Insecurity Again
    After decades of borrowing money from the Social Security Trust Fund to finance the war of the day, both Republicans and some Democrats are attempting to convince the public that there's nothing for it. If they can't use the money to avoid raising taxes, Social Security Benefits will just have to be cut. The most immediate offender is Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, whose "Roadmap for America's Future" includes more of this tired nostrum. Coalescing around Citizen Action/Illinois, a new "Illinois Coalition to Stregthen Social Security" just pulled off it's first demonstration. Nearly 100 people showed up at Noon today outside the Four Seasons at Delaware and Michigan on Chicago's near north side where Paul Ryan was kicking off his campaign for his roadmap. Some were geezers and geezerettes from Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans and from Metro Seniors in Action, but there was also a considerable contingent from SEIU (Healthcare, mostly, but also a few from Workers United), AFSCME, and UE. Citizen Action, Access Living, Americans United for Change, Coalition of Labor Union Women and Jobs with Justice were there as well, and of course a few DSA members were there also. Some of the press covering the Ryan event interviewed demonstrators ("balance," doncha know) and several people recorded the entire program of speeches.

    In the meantime, William Greider has this post at Labor Notes: "Social Security: Bipartisan Fervor to Whack the Old Folks." The issues don't seem to change somehow. Check out this from 2001.

    Hotel Workers Add 3 Chicago Hyatts to Boycott List
    "Joined by clergy and other community supporters, Hyatt hotel workers gathered outside Hyatt headquarters in Chicago yesterday to announce a boycott of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, the Park Hyatt Chicago and the Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotels. Hyatt workers, members of UNITEHERE!, have been working without a contract for nearly a year as Hyatt management continues in its insistence on cutting employee health care.  Hotel workers are now boycotting 10 Hyatt hotels across the nation." Read More.

    Warehouse Workers for Justice
    In cooperation with the Center for Urban Economic Development, Warehouse Workers for Justice have released their study of warehouse workers in Will County, Bad Jobs in Goods Movement. It looks to be a reasonably solid description of such workers as its findings are pretty consistent with information already available about people who are regular employees in the warehouse industry. See, for example, the information regarding wages. The study is distinctive, however, in that it also gathers information about temp workers as well. As you might expect, the circumstances of employment for these people are considerably worse than regular employees ("direct hires") -- not that this is a great way of making a living, especially for those with a family to support.

    The gist of the reports findings:

    • 63% of workers in warehouses were temps;
    • the majority of warehouse workers made poverty-level wages, and temps had it worse than direct hires. The median hourly wage for a temp was $9.00 an hour, $3.48 an hour less than direct hires;
    • 1 in 4 warehouse workers had to rely on government assistance to make ends meet for their families;
    • 37% of current warehouse workers had to work a second job to provide for their families;
    • Temps were far less likely to have basic benefits (e.g., only 5% of temps had sick days and 4% had health insurance);
    • 20% of warehouse workers had been hurt on the job, and of those, 1 in 3 were disciplined or fired when they reported their injury.

    For a full copy of the report, click here.

    Also see:

    2011 Preliminary Budget Public Hearings
    The City of Chicago Office of Budget and Management released a revised schedule for the public hearings on the 2011 preliminary budget estimates. The hearings are designed to solicit feedback from Chicago residents regarding the needs in their communities, and how they may be reflected in next year's city budget. The three public hearings will be on the following dates at the following locations:

    • Thursday, September 9, 2010 - South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore D
    • Friday, September 10, 2010 - Westinghouse College Prep., 3223 W. Franklin Blvd.
    • Thursday, September 16, 2010 - North-Grand High School, 4338 W. Wabansia Ave.

    All hearings begin at 7:00 p.m., with registration from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.


    The Office of Budget and Management also works with city departments to develop a balanced budget plan, as required by state law.  The Mayor will present his 2011 budget proposal in October, and passage by City Council is required by the end of the year.

    1963
    The 1963 March on Washington was as much about economic justice as it was about civil rights. A national march for jobs is being planned for October 2nd (see "Mobilizing for Jobs" New Ground 131). While these plans are coming together, it's worth looking back at the 1963 march. Beacon Broadside, a project of the Beacon Press (affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Church) has posted these documents of interest:
    "Beck, King, and Nonviolence"
    "The 1963 March on Washington on YouTube"
    "Excerpt: Roy Wilkins's Reluctant Tribute to W.E.B. Du Bois"
    Nobody Turn Me Around: A People's History of the 1963 March on Washington

    Beyond Repair
    That's the death penalty, though it could apply to any number of things in our country. The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is taking the issue on the road, and the schedule of speaking dates for the Chicago suburbs is as follows:

    St. Charles
    St Charles Public Library, 1 South 6th Avenue
    Tuesday, September 14 at 7pm

    Naperville
    St Margaret Mary, 1409 Green Trails Drive
    Wednesday, September 15th at 7pm

    Arlington Heights
    Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 1234 North Arlington Heights Road
    Thursday, September 16 at 7pm

    Joliet
    The Cathedral of St Raymond, 608 North Raynor Avenue
    Monday, September 20 at 7pm

    Quad Cities
    St. Ambrose University, Davenport
    Tuesday, September 21 at 6:30 pm

    Schaumburg
    Church of the Holy Spirit, 1451 Bode Road
    Thursday, September 23rd at 7pm

    For more information, click here.

    Jobs Conference
    In connection with October 2nd March for Jobs in Washington, DC, the Chicago Political Economy Group in collaboration with the Howard University Economics Department, the National Jobs for All Coalition, The Center for Full Employment and Price Stability, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research is organizing a Friday, October 1 conference entitled "Jobs and the Future of the U.S. Economy: Possibilities and Limits." The conferencce will be held at Howard University's Armour J. Blackburn University Center and registration for the day long conference will be $20. This is pretty fresh, so information may not yet be posted, but check here for more information.

    For more information on the march, click here. We hope to have some specific information about buses from Chicago, price, and ticket information with the next issue of New Ground. If you want to attend the conference, you'll have to plan your own transportation, however.

    Democracy Now!
    Chicago Media Action has worked for years with the staff of the daily radio and TV news program Democracy Now!. They've had success over the years in widening the reach of the show and of independent media more generally, and members of CMA have played roles in helping to get Democracy Now! on WZRD radio, on CAN TV, and on ECTV in Evanston. They've also been working on a campaign (now in its sixth year) to get Democracy Now! on WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio (any time now, Torey).

    And since May, Chicago Media Action has been working on a new campaign to bring the show to one of Chicago's PBS channels, WYCC Channel 20. Now the campaign is online -- with this petition on The Petition Site and with a print copy in PDF format.


    Ars Politica

    Homage to Forgottonia
    In New City, Hugh Iglarsh writes:

    Nobody sets out purposefully to explore the region of west central Illinois known colloquially as Forgottonia. The place creeps up on you as gently as a childhood memory, and it is only later that you realize you have set foot in this unmarked republic of corn, dust and melancholy. As its name suggests, it is less a place than a feeling-a sense of having slipped away from the present moment into some other time stream, which has been dammed up by indifference and neglect and now registers only as a trickle.

    The deeply rural parts of Forgottonia, which are everywhere, seem to exist as a refuge for the left-behind and the going-nowhere-slowly. To the traveler, they offer atmosphere without activity, and are conducive to nothing more strenuous than a meditative solitude. It is the atmosphere captured so poignantly by Forgottonia native Edgar Lee Masters in his elegiac Spoon River Anthology. The region has always felt embedded in a disappearing agrarian past.

    Forgottonia did not achieve actual statehood, but it did briefly crystallize as a state of mind. In the early 1970s, residents of the fourteen counties that define the western rump of Illinois -- more or less between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers -- launched a satirical secession movement to protest the region's stepchild status in Springfield.

    For more, plus photos by Hugh Iglarsh, click here.



    Democratic Socialism

    Exploring Ecosocialism as a System of Thought
    The September - October issue of Canadian Dimension is devoted to Eco-Socialism. Coordinating Editor and Publisher Cy Gonick contributes an essay on "the second contradiction" of capitalism. Click here to read this web-exclusive item.

    The Eco-Socialist International Network is meeting in Paris, September 22 - 25. For more information, click here.



    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Wednesday, September 8, Noon to 1 PM
    Jane Addams Birthday Bash
    Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St, Chicago
    Celebration of Jane Addams' 150th Birthday. Too bad she's not around for it. For more information, click here.

    Wednesday, September 8, 4 PM to 6 PM
    A People's Block Party
    Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halstead, Chicago
    Sponsored by Boeing? Oh well. Celebrates the re-opening of the museum. For more information, click here.

    Saturday, September 11, 12:30 PM
    CDSA Executive Committee Meeting
    Chicago DSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    All DSA members are welcome.

    Sunday, September 12, 10 AM to 1 PM
    Farm Together Now
    Mess Hall, 6932 N. Glenwood, Chicago
    Daniel Tucker on the new food movement in farming. For more information, click here and here.

    Sunday, September 12, 6 PM
    Disordered or Just Different? Myth, Science, and Sexuality
    Center on Halsted, Hoover-Leppen Theatre, 3656 N Halsted Street, Chicago
    Presentation by Dr. Veronica "Ronnie" Drantz on the scientific aspects of sexuality. For more information, click here.

    Wednesday, September 15, 5:30 PM to 7 PM
    A Conversation with Lisa Dodson
    Jane Addams Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted, Chicago
    The author of "The Moral Underground: How Ordinary People Subvert an Unfair Economy" explores economic civil disobedience. For more information, click here.

    Wednesday, September 15, 7 PM
    Citizen Initiative Awards
    Citizen Advocacy Center, 182 N. York Rd, Elmhurst
    Honoring local citizens for their civic engagement. Featured speaker Mary Beth Tinker. Call 630.833.4080 for information.

    Thursday, September 16, 8 AM to 9:30 AM
    Jane Addams Symposium
    The Palmer House Hilton Empire Room, 17 E. Monroe St, Chicago
    Keynote Speaker Julie L. Biehl. Women of Valor Award to Sylvia Puente, Vanessa Rich, and Brenarda Wong. Preregistration required. For more information, click here.

    Thursday, September 16, 9 AM
    US EPA Coal Ash Hearing
    Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Av, Chicago
    Very technical but apparently important. Click here for some additional information.

    Thursday, September 16, 11:50 AM
    Defending Human and Labor Rights in Mexico
    DePaul University College of Law, 25 E. Jackson Blvd, Chicago
    Cipriana Jurado, founder of the Center for Information and Solidarity for Working Women but exiled to the States, speaks about her work in Mexico. Click here and here for more information.

    Sunday, September 19, 10 AM to 1 PM
    Watershed: Art, Activism, and Community Engagement
    Mess Hall, 6932 N. Glenwood, Chicago
    Presentation and report back on the use of art as a form of activism on water issues. For more information, click here and here.

    Tuesday, September 21, 7 PM
    "The Day After Peace"
    Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave, Evanston
    Showing of a documentary by Jeremy Gilley. For more information, click here.

    Friday, October 1, 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM
    Faith - Labor - Action Breakfast
    Operating Engineers Local 399, 2260 S. Grove, Chicago
    Arise Chicago fundraiser featuring AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka, Congressman Danny Davis, and Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Immigrant Affairs Elena Segura. Reservations by September 10. For more information and tickets, click here.


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