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New Ground 91

November - December, 2003

Contents

  • The USA PATRIOT Game by Bob Roman
  • Immigrant Freedom Ride by Bob Roman
  • Ethical Globalization by Rev. Eugene Birmingham
  • The 22nd Socialist International Congress: a Meeting of Terrible Lizards! by Bob Roman
  • The Socialist International and the World sidebar
  • I Lost My Job Because There Is Too Much Work? by Tom Broderick
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Socialist Party USA
    Congress Hotel Strike


    The USA PATRIOT Game

    by Bob Roman

    Score one for the good guys. On October 1, the Chicago City Council passed a resolution against the USA PATRIOT Act. The vote was overwhelming. Only seven aldermen voted against the resolution. Chicago became the largest city to join a national campaign to put America on record against this law. By the end of October, three states (Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont) and 197 municipalities and counties had passed resolutions and ordinances in opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act. In Illinois, Evanston preceded Chicago by passing a stronger resolution last May.

    The campaign for the resolution began early this year with the formation of the Chicagoland Coalition on Civil Liberties and Rights (see New Ground 88). The Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights served as an organizational center for the Coalition, but it very quickly picked up support from religious, community, political and anti-war groups. Of particular interest is the joint work done on this campaign by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and the Muslim Civil Rights Center.

    By July, a proposed resolution had been introduced in the City Council by Helen Shiller (Ward 46), Joe Moore (Ward 49), Freddrenna Lyle (Ward 6) and Ricardo Munoz (Ward 22). It quickly gathered more than a Council majority of cosponsors and avowed supporters. Everyone was cheered by this but nobody thought this guaranteed the resolution would pass. There have been far too many past examples of legislation with nominal majority support in the Chicago City Council that never emerged from committee or were killed when it did or were seriously compromised.

    Considering that the Chicagoland Coalition is very much an ad hoc entity with many of the strengths and weaknesses of such, it did mount a credible lobbying and educational campaign, including a well attended July 10th public forum (see New Ground 89). Member organizations also produced educational materials with talking points and some of them held meetings with local aldermen. Nonetheless, some observers opine that it was the aldermen who introduced the resolution who did the "heavy lifting" with regard to the Council.

    Whatever the case, the public side of the struggle in the Council was the September 25th Committee on Human Relations hearing on the Resolution. Member organizations of the Coalition, including Chicago DSA, did their best to turn out an audience for the hearing, and if the Council chambers were not standing room only, empty seats were a distinct minority. At least one high school class attended the hearing as a civics lesson.

    Anyone can sign up to speak at most City Council hearings, and many in the audience took the opportunity to do so; however, in the week prior to the hearing, the Committee members and the Coalition agreed upon a list of witnesses. Those who signed up at the door would be accommodated as time allowed and, as it happened, time did not allow. As a partial consequence, only one person testified against the Resolution, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. In a peculiar way, he ended up being the star of the event. He certainly did as much damage to the cause of the Resolution as the other witnesses did in its favor. Yet in doing so, he managed to also demolish his own cause.

    In essence, Fitzgerald's testimony came to this: most of the abuses critics attach to the USA PATRIOT Act were done using laws already on the books and many of the "new" tools available through the Act were already on the books. Detention of immigrants? Didn't use the PATRIOT Act. Look at your library records? Could already do that. Bank records? Ditto. Sneak and peek? Been there. Done that. The main practical consequence of the Act, he contended, has been to facilitate communication among law enforcement agencies and with the intelligence "community". This improved communication, he implied, made life much easier for law enforcement.

    The Committee members reacted with some deference to Mr. Fitzgerald's assertions. After all, what elected official would care to be accused of interfering with law enforcement? But one Alderman did observe that the USA PATRIOT Act was a large document. If the only substantive change for law enforcement was a matter of communication, why did we need this massive legislation? The question went unanswered though the image of a stampeding herd of panic stricken Congressmen hastily covering their butts probably came to more than one mind.

    Mr. Fitzgerald did not go unanswered though it mostly came five days later in a three page press release from the Chicago Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Some of the press release addresses points that, on the face of it, only a lawyer could love, such as does the USA PATRIOT Act create a new crime of "domestic terrorism"? The press release does make a case as to why this matters, but the strongest point in its argument addresses Fitzgerald's claim that the USA PATRIOT Act had nothing to do with immigrant detentions:

    "Title IV of the USA PATRIOT Act calls for the 'fast-track' creation of entry and exit databases to track non-citizens entering the U.S. without immigrant visas, e.g. foreign students, businesspeople and tourists. This data is also available to be shared not only among all Federal, state and local law enforcement, but with foreign governments as well. Since the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Federal government has issued regulations known as the 'Special Registration' program that specifically target only adult males from 20 predominantly Muslim countries plus North Korea, requiring that they register each year and each time they move or change jobs. Many non-citizens have complied with this new regulation, only to be detained for days or weeks on minor irregularities in their files. While the USA PATRIOT Act did not specify how this entry and exit database was to be operated, we can see the earliest fruits of it in operation today."

    It was Fitzgerald's contention that the USA PATRIOT Act had nothing to do with immigrant detentions that brought the strongest reaction from the audience: an extended snort of disbelief. Fitzgerald's insistence that this was true incorporated the useful legal strategy of limiting the discussion to the USA PATRIOT Act thus excluding the broader context. But in doing so, Fitzgerald made the tactical error of looking backward to address the audience. This constricted his vocal cords, making his reply sound like the bleat of a cornered animal. This was the voice of a man uneasy in his position. Was it the contortion or was it a guilty conscience?

    It should be a guilty conscience. For while nearly every critique offered at the Committee Hearing at least touched upon this, the central danger of the USA PATRIOT Act is the way in which it systematically amends and supplements a whole range of already existing legislation to remove procedural safeguards, create walls of secrecy, and create an environment where law enforcement and prosecutors can operate with impunity.

    Fitzgerald's ultimate dismemberment of his own case was to present the Act as nothing more than an extension of already existing legislation. What we are seeing revealed in this interlaced network of already existing legislation is the basic architecture of an American police state. Chicken-Little libertarians and smash-the-state marxist-leninists have been proclaiming Leviathan for more than a lifetime. Judged in the context of U.S. history, the USA PATRIOT Act might not seem too drastic. But put it in the context of a prison-industrial complex, put it in the context of the new Department of Homeland Security and the prospect of a security-industrial complex, put it in the context of a politically motivated war against an ill defined enemy that could go on for how long? Put it in that context and one is suddenly reminded that "even paranoids have enemies".

    The movement against the USA PATRIOT Act shows every sign of continuing to grow. There is, for example, an ongoing effort to make Oak Park the next Chicago area local government to disapprove of the Act. The Chicagoland Coalition on Civil Liberties and Rights' role in this movement is still to be decided. Should it attempt to have Illinois join the three states already on board? Should it encourage or help organize campaigns in counties and municipalities downstate? Should it press Chicago to go further and, as some cities have done, adopt an ordinance requiring non-cooperation? A conference is very tentatively planned for early December to discuss just these questions.


    Immigrant Freedom Ride

    by Bob Roman

    The Chicago leg of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride hit the road from a rally held at Chicago's downtown Federal Plaza on Saturday, September 27. Organizers claimed some 3,000 people attended on a beautiful fall afternoon. My guess would have been about half as many, but even the official number was rather less than the organizers' original ambitions and less than some other rallies held in support of immigrant rights in Chicago in recent years. This diminished turn out seemed fairly consistent across the country though the final rally in New York drew somewhere around 100,000.

    There were even some counter demonstrators at the Chicago rally, though they were few indeed and limited to the ideological fringe: some unknown variety of Nazi and Matt Hale's "World Church of the Creator". Police insisted they remain across Dearborn and for good reason. Some of the Freedom Ride Rally's ideological fringe definitely wanted to get it on.

    On October 1, in addition to passing a resolution disapproving of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Chicago City Council passed a resolution supporting the Freedom Ride.

    I'm not sure what to make of the turnouts because in many other ways the Freedom Ride was a success. In particular, the press coverage was large and sympathetic, a mother load of human interest stories about the immigrant experience today and yesterday, and memories of the Civil Rights movement.

    This sympathetic media atmosphere makes it more difficult for rightwing demagogues to set up immigrants as hate objects. Though they keep trying. "Freeloading Free Riders", "The Attack of the Open Border Elites", "When Did America Lose the Rule of Law" were some of the typical web headlines on right wing "news" sites.

    Some of this vitriol was in connection with one of the victories associated with the Freedom Rides: the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the "DREAM Act" to the full Senate for a vote. This legislation would allow undocumented children who entered the U.S. before age 16, have lived here for at least five years, have graduated from high school and don't have a criminal record, to get conditional residency for six years. They have that time to attend colleges at the in-state rate and they become eligible for citizenship if they spend at least two years in college or in the U.S. military.

    The bill has broad, bi-partisan support in the Senate with some three dozen and counting cosponsors. It stands a reasonably good chance of passing. The companion bill in the House, "The Student Adjustment Act", remains bottled up in committee. Likewise, the two more comprehensive immigration reform bills mentioned in New Ground 90, HR 440 and HR 152, have not stirred in any way.

    Chicago DSA had supported the Ride and the Rally by doing a 4,300 piece post card mailing urging members and friends to attend. Photos of the Freedom Ride Rally are posted on our web site.


    Ethical Globalization

    by Reverend Eugene Birmingham

    A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics by Hans Kung, translated by John Bowden, Oxford University Press, 1998, 303 pages cloth, $32.50

    Hans Kung is a Roman Catholic priest and a truly ecumenical theologian. He quotes with equal respect Jewish, Protestant and Catholic scholars. He has been denied authorization to teach in Catholic schools because of his opposition to Papal infallibility among other doctrines. Without peace among the religions, especially Muslim, Jewish and Christian, he declares, there can be no peace in the world.

    It is from that perspective that he calls for a universally acceptable global ethic as a basis for dealing with the issues of globalization. One's first reaction is to wonder whether the very idea of ethics in global power politics and economics is anything but sheer idealism. His book as an attempt to say a global ethic is possible, and to state a starting point for its development.

    Kung opens with a historical sketch of the modern world's struggle between real politics and ideal politics. He traces the real politics of Machiavelli, Richelieu and Bismarck down to Henry Kissinger, and the idealism of Woodrow Wilson. Hans Morgenthau's work of 1948, Politics Among Nations, retreats from idealism to say that every effort to lead nations to the ideal of mutual trust, understanding and collaboration can end only in catastrophe. Power must be managed by pursuing the national interest, and the power of one's own nation, intelligently, and assessing the power of other nations rightly. In 1998, Kung raised a significant question about that philosophy: "May a national government, if this is 'necessary', finally override the interests of another nation or even the community of nations? This could hardly be a pioneering slogan for the increasingly global problems of economy and ecology, poverty and overpopulation." p. 41. I think Kung asked the question academically, hardly expecting the U.S. to do exactly that.

    Kung's movement toward a global ethic is based on a few points. Power among nations must not be based on mutual deterrence, but on a balance of interests, as in the emerging European Union. This calls for a new era of multilateralism. A global ethic should be expressed in the same terms as universally accepted individual ethics. The Golden Rule is one such statement, accepted both by the religious and non-religious. A place to begin is the universal acceptance of human rights. However, a declaration of human rights must be combined with a declaration of human responsibilities. These goals cannot be attained by declarations alone, but be minimal enough to be accepted by consensus. "Every human being must be treated humanely! What you wish done to yourself, do to others." Potential leaders to this end must include the mass media, artists, writers, scientists, politicians and their parties, and religions. There is a fine chapter on the role religions have played, and must play, in pursuit of world peace.

    A global ethic is required by globalization, which is the result of the modern world's technological and economic development. Globalization does not follow a fixed course, but is ambivalent. Without a global ethic it is guided by economic concerns apart from issues of environment and labor. It has even resulted in the globalization of organized crime.

    Kung sees problems with both the welfare state and neo-capitalism. The welfare state must not be abolished but be reconstructed. Neo-capitalism is based solely on profits without concern for any other human needs. He sees no future in socialism, but still asks, "Is it not evident how easily freedom and individualism can turn into an uncontrolled society?" p.182 His answer: "What kind of market economy should be established? That is the question." p.184. He omits any reference to market socialism. He dismissed socialism as an alternative some years ago when I shared lunch with him at a clergy convention where he was the main speaker.

    Kung rejects Milton Friedman's ultra liberalism which believes self-regulating market forces always lead to a stable framework for undisturbed economic development. Instead he leans toward a "socially committed market economy". p. 198. Politics must have primacy over the economy. Ethics must have primacy over politics.

    Kung's optimism that such a world is possible is based in part on previous steps toward international cooperation: the Geneva Convention, the League of Nations, and the UN with its humane programs such as UNICEF, UNESCO, the Commission for Refugees, and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Written documentation and public proclamation help to realize the ethical-political will. But when he sees these hopes being realized also through the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank, one feels the air escaping from his balloon. His hope that world religions can practice their highest ethic, the Golden Rule, in place of competition, is based on the existence of the World's Parliament of Religions. That seems a fragile hope, but hope nevertheless.

    He faces "the problem of moral motivation", for a global ethic. It "presupposes a change of consciousness." That calls for developing "an awareness of one's own chronological position in the chain of generations and a feeling of community which goes beyond the generations, if not with the whole of humankind, at least with a limited cultural, nation or regional group." p. 247.

    The book is worth reading for stimulating thought on globalization, which is Kung's purpose. It is a task for next generations to work out. He sees "an ethic arising out of economic processes. Economics and ethics are not mutually exclusive, no matter how often this is asserted." p. 271. With that socialists can agree, because that is where they begin. However, socialism's question remains: is capitalism capable of an ethic, global or otherwise?


    The 22nd Socialist International Congress:

    A Meeting of Terrible Lizards!

    by Bob Roman

    The Socialist International (SI) held its 22nd quadrennial Congress in São Paulo, Brazil, on October 27 through 29. For DSA members, a more detailed, intimate account will probably appear in a future issue of Democratic Left, but here are a few quick observations.

    The SI is a political club of national political parties established in 1951. You could regard it as a successor to the early 20th Century Second International of socialist parties, a sort of Second International version 3, perhaps. At about 170 members, it's the largest of several similar international clubs, there being one for most parts of the political spectrum.

    The mainstream press accounts (Associated Press, mostly) emphasized the national leaders (such as Tony Blair) who were scheduled to attend the Congress but cancelled. The implication being that the SI Congress was simply not worth their while (a meeting of "dinosaurs") though coincidence as a possibility was conceded.

    In fact, it was the São Paulo location that was probably the most significant news. If anything remains in the SI of the late Willy Brandt's idealism, it is a continuing interest in expanding the base of the club beyond SI's industrial and European roots. The Congress was hosted by Lula's Workers Party, which is not a member of the SI but is being actively wooed to join (the present Brazilian member is the Democratic Workers Party). And this Congress was the occasion of one of the larger expansions in SI membership: 18 parties admitted to Full membership and 20 parties given Consultative status, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe predominating. It was probably a disappointment that Lula's Workers Party did not take the occasion to at least apply for membership, but that question is still on the Workers Party agenda.

    Most of the new Full membership parties previously held Consultative membership, an example being one of the bigger disappointments on the list, Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). One party directly admitted to Full membership is Bulgaria's old Communist Party, now known as the Bulgarian Socialist Party. And for the delight of all those American devotees of paranoia and conspiracy, the Democratic Party's non-profit foreign policy foundation, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), has joined the SI as an Associated Organization.

    For the confusion of the paranoid, the NDI has a similar membership status with the Liberal International. The Republican Party is a full member of the International Democrat Union. Dual memberships are not typical but not unusual. For example, Germany's conservative party, the Christian Democrats, is a member of both the International Democrat Union and the International Union of Christian Democrat and Peoples Parties.

    The Greens are organized somewhat less formally in a Global Green network. There are probably several Trotskyist internationals.

    For the SI in particular, it's not unusual for more than one party in a country to be members of the international. In the Mexico, both the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) and the PRI are members. In the United States, both DSA and Social Democrats USA are Full members in addition to Associated Organization membership of the NDI.

    The expansion of the SI membership does appear to be having an effect on the organization's culture. Traditionally, the SI has expressed a consensus of its members, an agreement that is reached before anything comes to a formal vote. At this Congress, some of the disagreements made it to the floor, mostly at the initiative of some of the Latin American parties. Specifically, a resolution demanding immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq was proposed but defeated. And Tony Blair's election as a Vice-President of the SI was opposed. He was elected.

    Obviously the SI has a ways to go for it to be a more congenial place for the likes of DSA and perhaps for Brazil's Workers Party.

    For more information about the 22nd SI Congress, click here.

     

    Selected Excerpts From

    "The Socialist International and the World"

    Iraq

    Reiterates its position agreed by the Council in Rome against preventive military intervention outside the framework of the UN Security Council.

    Supports the Iraqi people and the Iraqi governing council in their efforts to develop a democratic and federal Iraq that is in peace with its citizens, its neighbours and the international community.

    Notes the latest UN Security Council resolution on Iraq and expresses the need to transfer power and sovereignty so that an Iraqi administration can be in charge of governing the country as soon as possible and set stage for parliamentary elections.

    Underlines the importance of a new constitution for Iraq that secures the rights and protection of all parts of the Iraqi population,

    Calls upon all countries possible to assist Iraq in the reconstruction process so that a broad international participation is ensured under the co-ordinated effort of the United Nations. A democratic and developed Iraq could have positive effects for further democratisation and stability in the region and enhance Kurdish rights and the rights of all minorities in the region.

    Requests the Presidium, in collaboration with the SI Middle East Committee (SIMEC) to continue the dialogue with democratic forces in Iraq, so that a real assessment of needs and cooperation can take place.

    Calls upon the United States and all other international actors to view efforts in Iraq in connection with efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, to further enhance stability and democratisation for the Middle East region as a whole.

    Cuba

    The International rejects the recent attempts at destabilisation of Cuba by the United States Administration, which endanger peace in the region, a peace that we are fully committed to preserving and strongly urges the United States to end the economic embargo against Cuba. The Socialist International asks for the liberation of the political opponents within the framework of the national legistation in force and the international treaties on human rights, and dialogue among the sectors of the country to continue with the democratic process on the island without intervention from any foreign country.

    Puerto Rico

    The Socialist International reiterates its support for the free determination and independence of Puerto Rico and its backing for the forces of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, now accompanied by SICLAC's Latin American Solidarity Committee with Free Determination for Puerto Rico. The aim is to promote the de-colonisation of Puerto Rico and the convening of a constitutional assembly to discuss the question of its status, through which the people might overcome their prevailing condition of political subordination. At the same time, we recognise and congratulate the Puerto Rican Independence Party and its leader, Rubén Berríos Martínez, for their fundamental role in the historical achievement of bringing military exercises on the Island of Vieques to an end and the announcement that the Roosevelt Naval Base in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, is to be closed.

    Bolivia

    The Socialist International is appalled at the repression of the indigenous and labour demonstrations and the death of more than 80 people in September and October. The International is pleased about the constitutional outcome to the political and institutional crisis that led to the resignation of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and his replacement by the Vice President, Carlos Mesa, after four weeks of intense popular and indigenous mobilisation. This will allow for a new approach, with full respect for human rights, to the difficult problems that Bolivian society is facing.

    Colombia

    The International continues to be concerned by the political, economic and social conflicts that are affecting the people of Colombia and generating an atmosphere of serious instability in that society. It reiterates its support for establishing a dialogue that can bring the dispute to an end and urges the parties to sit down and talk to each other so that an agreement might be reached that will restore the stability that has been lost and help the country to return to a level of normalcy. At the same time, the Socialist International reaffirms its willingness to act as a facilitator in resolving the conflict if the parties involved ask it to do so. The Socialist International supports the Humanitarian Agreement as a way to liberate kidnapped persons....


    I Lost My Job Because There Is Too Much Work?

    by Tom Broderick

    With a $30 million public investment, Oak Park built an attractive new main library. Unfortunately, our library board found a way to sully the enjoyment of this new community resource. They decided to fire four part time custodians who have provided over 47 years of service between them. The reason given? There is too much work for the four part time custodians to manage.

    Betsy Kalmar is the Vice President of the Oak Park Public Library (OPPL) Board. At a recent board meeting, Ms. Kalmar, commenting on the terminations, stated "considerable time and effort went into researching the options . . . It was decided that with the size and complexity of the new library, with the many new bathrooms . . . there was a much greater requirement for the staff." Rather than offer job training and continued employment, the board callously gave the boot to the four, and contracted the work to a private custodial service, United Maintenance (UM).

    One of the main reasons given for going private is that UM can do the work at night when the library is closed. Ms. Kalmar said that for the library to do the work at night, "there would be the need to hire a night supervisor, who would be difficult to find." When asked if the four part time custodians were given the option to continue working for the library during an overnight shift, not one board member could or would answer.

    Job loss is painful and scary. It is also far too common. No doubt every one of us knows someone who has lost their livelihood through no fault of their own and cannot or could not find comparable employment. As John Donahue, Executive Director of Chicago Coalition for the Homeless told the library board "Joblessness leads to homelessness and it doesn't look good and it doesn't smell good and it doesn't feel good."

    An internal memo that surfaced through Freedom of Information requests shows that the board knew that these workers would face difficulty in finding new work: ". . . given the skill set of the outsourced employees, it is not unrealistic to anticipate a prolonged employment search for this population."

    The minutes of the OPPL Board meeting of February 18 recorded that "Ultimately the (Personnel and Finance) Committee's recommendation to the board will be to outsource custodial services. This is with the understanding that there would be considerable effort to provide job security in the form of positions with the firm winning the bid and/or assistance finding work for those employees who's (sic) positions would be eliminated."

    The Oak Park Public Library Board has shown no such effort. What they did do is offer a severance package that included the stipulation that the four could not seek future employment with the Oak Park Public Library system. What they did do is sign a contract with United Maintenance that stated that if any of the four were hired by UM, they would be paid at or above what they were making at OPPL. What they didn't do was respect the long time loyal service provided by their four employees. What they didn't do was guarantee them work with the new service. If privatization was the goal, and the board was serious about helping these workers, the contract could have been written to guarantee them work with the UM. Instead, the board, following the lead made famous by Pontius Pilate, made the future employment of the four, the decision of UM.

    At the most recent OPPL Board Meeting, DSA Comrade Alex Maximiac asked, "What does it profit Oak Park and the Library Board in particular to gain this wonderful edifice of which we are so proud and to lose our soul?" He continued "This is a grievous injustice that has been committed." Comrade Maximiac presented the board with petitions that had been gathered by the many people and groups who have come together to respond to this betrayal of public service.

    Several members of the Greater Oak Park branch of the DSA have collected petition signatures and attended library board meetings. Many groups have coalesced around these firings. Some of the labor unions are Service Employees International Union Local 73, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, National Organization of Legal Services Workers UAW Local 2320 and the United Electrical Workers District 11. Some of the other groups are the Village Citizen's Alliance, the Greens of Oak Park, Chicago Jobs With Justice, Coalition to Protect Public Housing, the American Friends Service Committee and the Greater Oak Park Democratic Socialists of America.

    The primary organizer in this drive for justice and human respect is the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH). Their involvement stems from a previous firing of one of the very same custodians who has been tossed out by the board anew. In 1997, one of these four custodians was fired by the library after it was discovered that this employee of twelve years was homeless. The Law Project of CCH represented him in a case against the library and in June of 2000, the case was settled and the custodian was reinstated. One wonders if the library board is really just seeking vengeance.

    On October 3rd, the OPPL held a $100 per person, black tie optional, grand gala opening. We responded with an informational picket line and signature gathering effort. Many of those going to this fundraiser stopped to sign the petitions and offer support. Our State Senator Don Harmon (D, 39), dressed in black tie, and headed to the grand gala, asked questions, signed the petition and went home, saying "I respect union picket lines." Thank you Senator Harmon.

    Senator Harmon has agreed to act as a mediator in settling the hostile action taken by the board against the custodians. When the board was asked to work with the Senator and us to find a fair resolution to the terminations, the board responded that they would have to have a discussion to consider such a meeting. Not one board member spoke for the idea. This publicly elected board has opted to circle the wagons and take the cold-blooded position that "what's done is done and it's time to move on." The problem is that they offer no answer for where the four former custodians they have cut loose move. Our answer is back to the same jobs they loyally performed for so many years.

    Just like all public libraries are supposed to be, the Oak Park Public Library system is an active member of our community. The libraries are not just buildings full of books. Many activities take place in our libraries. They are used by all segments of the Village and surrounding environs. As eight year old Aidan Walsh told the board, "We need to learn how to treat people better." The "We" in his statement are the board members of the Oak Park Public Library.


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

     

    Socialist Party USA

    The Socialist Party USA held its National Convention at the Omni Ambassador Hotel in Chicago on October 17 to 19. The Convention selected a new National Committee, passed resolutions concerning the Cuban embargo and the abolition of NATO, and decided to run another presidential campaign. Walter Brown, a long time Socialist Party member and former Oregon state senator was selected to be the Presidential candidate for the 2004 elections. Mary Alice Herbert of Vermont was selected to be the Vice-Presidential candidate. More details will become available at the campaign web site.

    In connection with the Convention, the Party held a banquet honoring Frank Zeidler, the last Socialist mayor of Milwaukee. Zeidler held office until 1960 but remains active in Milwaukee civic affairs.

     

    Congress Hotel Strike

    On September 30, the NLRB office in Chicago filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the Congress Plaza Hotel, claiming a failure to bargain in good faith, specifically by prematurely declaring an impasse in negotiations, refusing to provide financial results to support a wage cut and threatening union members with disciplinary action if they didn't leave Chicago DSA's Debs ­ Thomas ­ Harrington Dinner at the hotel prior to the strike. A hearing will be held on February 10. A person could starve in the meantime, but if the judge upholds the complaint, the Congress Hotel will be unable to hire replacement workers. In the meantime, HERE Local 1 is maintaining a picket line 24/7 at Michigan and Adams. Volunteers are welcome.


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