Saturday, December 31, 2011

Richard Heinberg: Why the end of growth can mean more happiness

Inspiring video on sustainability and life with less.

From YouTube...

Richard Heinberg- whose latest book describes The End of Growth- isn't looking for when the recession will end and we'll get back to "normal". He believes our decades-long era of growth was based on aberrant set of conditions- namely cheap oil, but also cheap minerals, cheap food, etc- and that looking ahead, we need to prepare for a "new normal".

The problem, according to Heinberg, is our natural resources just aren't so cheap and plentiful anymore, and he's not just talking about Peak Oil, Heinberg believes in Peak Everything (also the title of one of his books).

Heinberg thinks for many, adjusting to a life where everything costs a bit more, could be very hard, but he also thinks the transition to a new normal might actually make life better.

"Particularly in the Western industrialized countries we've gotten used to levels of consumption that are not only environmentally unsustainable, they also don't make us happy. They've in fact hollowed out our lives. We've given up things that actually do give us satisfaction and pleasure so that we can work more and more hours to get more and more money with which to buy more and more stuff- more flatscreen tvs, bigger SUVs, bigger houses and it's not making us happier. Well, guess what, it's possible to downsize, it's possible to use less, become more self sufficient, grow more of your own food, have chickens in your backyard and be a happier person."

This is not all theoretical. In the backyard of the home Heinberg shares with his wife, Janet Barocco, the couple grow most of their food during the summer months (i.e. 25 fruit & nut trees, veggies, potatoes.. they're just lack grains), raise chickens for eggs, capture rainwater, bake with solar cookers and a solar food drier and secure energy with photovoltaic and solar hot water panels.

Their backyard reflects Heinberg's vision for our "new normal" and it's full of experiments, like the slightly less than 120-square-foot cottage that was inspired by the Small Home Movement. It was built with the help of some of Heinberg's college students (in one of the nation's first sustainability classes) using recycled and natural materials (like lime plaster).

Heinberg admits it's not a real tiny house experiment since they don't actually live in it- his wife uses it as a massage studio, he meditates there and sometimes it's used as a guest house (though that's hush hush due to permitting issues). But their tiny cottage points to the bigger point behind why a transition to a less resource intensive future could equal greater happiness.

"Simplify. Pay less attention to all of the stuff in your life and pay more attention to what's really important. Maybe for you it's gardening, maybe for you it's painting or music. You know we all have stuff that gives us real pleasure and most of us find we have less and less time for that because we have to devote so much time to shopping, paying bills and driving from here to there and so on. Well, how about if we cut out some of that stuff and spend more time doing what really feeds us emotionally and spiritually and in some cases even nutritionally."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, final meetings (?)

The next two meetings of the Az. IRC are scheduled for Monday, Dec. 19th at 9:30 a.m. and Tuesday, Dec. 20th, at 1 p.m. Despite the best (worst) efforts of Gov. Brewer and every Republican in the Arizona legislature to destroy the process, they were unsuccesful. Thank you, Arizona Supreme Court, and here's to a total house cleaning of the Repubs next fall.

It is possible that these will be the final meetings if they reach a final map that the majority will agree to. As usual, you can tune in to the hearings live at

The legislature, when they reconvene next month, may well try to pass referendums to:

a. Destroy Clean Elections
b. Destroy the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

Thus we may be very busy countering these efforts.

Meanwhile at the federal level, the Fair Elections Now Act garnered 79 co-sponsors in the House and 13 in the
Senate...surprise, surprise. House cleaning with a huge effort will hopefully clean out the Dems in Republican clothing and the Repubs en masse.

And the movements to get rid of the Citizens' United Supreme Court "decision" (5 to 4) gain momentum with the national Move to Amend group, 2 proposals in the Senate (Sen. Sanders and Sen. Udall)and the recently merged United Republic (joined Get Money Out (Dylan Ratigan) and Fix Congress First (Lawrence Lessig). You can check out the websites. They all deserve support. Keep tuned.

Rick Graap
Clean Elections IOT

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tucson Economic and Social Justice IOT Agenda (12/10/11)

PDA Tucson Economic and Social Justice IOT
December 10, 2011 Rincon Market 10 AM – noon

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Welcome
1.2 Agenda Modifications
1.3 Minutes from November
1.4 Announcements from the Steering Committee
1.4.1 Workshop for Jan. 14, 2012
1.4.2 Other Items will be interspersed where appropriate
2.0 Reactions and Follow-Up to Nov. 10th Program
2.1 Discussion
2.2 Request from Steering Committee to work directly with Local First Arizona
2.3 Should we promote an economic program?
2.3.1 Ideas:
1. innovation grants as Pam outlined
2. some quick professional formations in eCommerce, microenterprises, etc.
3. the creation of computer shacks using discarded equipment in many disadvantaged neighborhoods
4. a progressive rent ordinance where a rent is decreased periodically if a property is not occupied--Say it decreases 15% after 3 months, 35 % after 6.
5. a model for converting the economy (cf. the Ros Boxer materials)
6. setting up a series of workshops/studios where technical people, graphic designers, service providers, accountants, business coaches, start-ups work together in the same venue and where they are required to help one another as well as to build their businesses
7. whatever else we can think up.
2.3.2 A package or just one point at a time?
2.4 Cooperation with: Center for Economic Integrity

Their website is at:
3.0 Public Banking in Arizona
3.1 Check out the Public Banking Institute at
(You can join their listserv.)
3.2 Report on Meeting with Rep. John Fillmore Jim Hannley
3.3 Report on Conversation with Marc Armstrong, Executive Director, PBI
4.0 Other
Next Meeting: Saturday, January 7, 2012, 10 – noon, Revolutionary Grounds, 606 N. Fourth Ave.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Alas Another Economic and Justice IOT Change

At least one helpful IOT member has reminded me that the Fourth Avenue Street Fair takes place this week end. So another change; this time, we have a change of venue.

Instead let's meet at the Rincon Market Coffee Bar at 10 AM this Saturday, Dec. 10th.

And. . . . (fanfare please) . . . our meting with Rep. Fillmore about the state bank was a grand success!

See you Saturday!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Economic and Social Justice Issue Organizing Team Meeting: Dec. 10


The next Economic and Social Justice IOT meeting will take place on Saturday, December 10, from 10 AM – noon, at Revolutionary Grounds, 606 N. Fourth Ave.

At this time, I will be sharing some exciting developments from the PDA Tucson Steering Committee, and Jim Hannley and I will report on our meeting with Rep. Fillmore, the sponsor of the state banking bill.

Additionally, I'd really like to hear from you. Feel free to bring up any matters, but right now, I'd especially like to know:

1. Your reactions to the Nov. 10th Program
2. Input for a PDA Planning Workshop to be held in January to work out the road map for 2012.

Please join us on Saturday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

PDA Tucson gives 'tip of the hat' and 'wag of the finger' to City Council members

Leading up to the November 8 local election, Tucson's Mayor and Council had been using passive aggressive tactics to avoid dealing directly with the Occupy Tucson movement.

After having won re-election to her Ward 1 council seat, Councilwoman Regina Romero sent a strongly worded statement in support of Occupy Tucson's ideals and actions and introduced a supportive resolution to the City Council at their November 15 meeting.

If it had passed, the proposal would have lifted the permit and curfew regulations at Veinte de Agosto Park and created a free speech zone. The vote was 3-3, with Council members Karin Uhlich, Richard Fimbres, and Romero voting for it, and Blue Dog Democrats Paul Cunningham and Shirley Scott joining Republican Steve Kozachik voting "no". Mayor Bob Walkup, who is supposed to be a tie-breaking vote in these situations, was MIA.

Locally and nationally, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) has supported the Occupy movement since the beginning. For this reason, PDA Tucson sent 'tip of the hat' letters to Uhlich, Fimbres, and Romero for supporting the Occupiers and 'wag of the finger' letters to Cunningham and Scott.

Tip of the hat to Uhlich, Fimbres, and Romero...
Thanks so much for supporting the motion.

Offering it made you appear responsive to concerned citizens. The passage of the motion would have saved City resources, not angered so many people, and created a positive precedent for the future. Occupy Tucson is already a month old and it has shown itself to be the principled, respectful movement it claims to be. The result of inaction paints the city as a bully toward its citizens.

As PDA, we support Occupy Tucson. As fellow Democrats, we count on you not to impede a movement that reflects our best traditions free speech guarantees and citizen participation. Your action reflects positively among the party faithful who expect such support from those who run for office with a D after their name.

I have communicated with Scott and Cunningham showing our disappointment with their nonsupport of your motion.

Thanks again.

Phil Lopes, Coordinator
Coordinator, Tucson Chapter
Progressive Democrats of America

Wag of the finger to Cunningham and Scott...
We are extremely disappointed in your failure to support the motion offered by Councilwoman Regina Romero regarding the Occupy Tucson movement.

Your lack of support of the motion made you appear unresponsive to concerned citizens. Passage of the motion would have saved City resources, not angered so many people, and created a positive precedent for the future. Occupy Tucson is already a month old and it has shown itself to be the principled, respectful movement it claims to be. The result of inaction paints the city as a bully toward its citizens.

As PDA, we support Occupy Tucson. As fellow Democrats, we count on you not to impede a movement that reflects our best traditions free speech guarantees and citizen participation. Your nonsupport reflects badly among party faithful who have expected more from those who run for office with a D after their name.


Phil Lopes
Coordinator, Tucson Chapter,
Progressive Democrats of America

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Time is Right and Crucial for A Carbon Tax

James Handley, eminant environmental leader and spokeperson for the Carbon Tax Center just published this very important information about one of the best opportunities to jump start the fight against the current and rapidly evolving climate disasters related to global warming caused by our excessive greenhouse gases. Remember Pogo’s prophetic warning: “We have seen the enemy and he is us!” We can and must take aggressive and urgent action. Mr. Handley writes:

Just posted on Why Isn’t The Environmental Community Using the Fiscal And Tax Reform “Window” to Push For A Carbon Tax? It features Brookings Climate & Energy Director Adele Morris’ wake up call to the environmental community.

“A carbon tax offers a unique and powerful combination of fiscal, economic-efficiency and environmental benefits, argued Adele Morris, the Brookings Institution’s Policy Director for Climate and Energy Economics, at an Oct. 18 forum convened by the Brookings Institution, the Urban Institute and the Tax Policy Center. Morris acknowledged the political obstacles. One of course is the failure of anti-tax politicians to distinguish between beneficial “Pigouvian” taxes on pollution and conventional taxes that burden and discourage productive activity. But another has been “tepid” support for a carbon tax from the environmental community.

“We heard that as a challenge: Why has the environmental community (with a few notable exceptions) parked itself on the sidelines of this crucial policy debate?

“Adele shared her presentation text, which we reproduce

“If you prefer video, see Brookings’ short summary of Adele’s presentation here.

"All five of the other panelists at the (bipartisan) Brookings forum advocated a Value Added Tax. Like a Carbon Tax, a VAT is a consumption tax, but without the environmental benefits of a tax focused on greenhouse gas pollution. A VAT was the main recommendation of both the Simpson-Bowles and Rivlin Domenici deficit commissions last year, despite Alice Rivlin’s efforts to include a carbon tax. And a VAT is where Congress seems likely to go, unless they hear support for a carbon tax.

"Let’s wake up the climate movement and get engaged in this policy debate. It may be the most promising route to a carbon price we’ll see for a long time.”

Best regards,
James Handley
Carbon Tax Center

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Election Day in Tucson: Please vote

Today-- Tuesday, November 8-- is Election Day. This year the Tucson City Council passed a resolution allowing an all-mail-in ballot. If you still have your mail-in ballot, you can deliver it to a number of polling places around the city, but it's too late to mail it.

Ballots must be delivered to one of these locations by 7 p.m. tonight.

If you're still undecided, here is some background information from the Tucson Citizen.
After the August primary, the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) Tucson Chapter e-mailed questionnaires to all of the candidates still left standing– Grinnell, Rothschild, and DeCamp in the mayor’s race, and Republicans Jennifer Rawson and Tyler Vogt, Green Beryl Baker, and Democratic incumbents Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham, and Regina Romero for City Council. The 20 questions were based upon PDA’s core issues: economic and social justice, corporate personhood, universal healthcare, global warming and the environment, fair and transparent elections, and end the wars/redirect the funding.

PDA didn’t really expect the Republicans to answer our questions, and they didn’t. But we were really surprised when none of the Democratic incumbents for City Council answered them either. Only three candidates took the time to answer our questionnaire–Rothschild, DeCamp, and Baker.

Both Rothschild and DeCamp also agreed to personal interviews with 2-3 PDA Steering Committee members. Each of the interviewers scored the questions independently with a possible 2 points for each question for a total of 40 points for a perfect score (ie, the candates’ responses were well-aligned with PDA’s stance on core issues); partial responses received 1 point; and off-the-mark, woefully incomplete, or unanswered responses received 0 points.

In the end, with surprising consistency across the interviewers, the composite scores were: Rothschild 29 and DeCamp 26 (pretty darn close for a mainstream candidate vs a green).

For additional details about the candidates' answers to PDA's questionnaire and analysis regarding their similarities and differences, click here. For background on Grinnell--the Republican candidate for mayor and definitely not a progressive choice-- click here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Independent Redistricting Commission: Political Sabotage

The events of the past week by Gov. Brewer and the Repubs in the Senate in removing the Chairperson Colleen Mathis was political travesty of the most primitive kind.  It jeopardizes the entire "independence" of the process. The very reason that Prop. 106 authorizing the Commission was passed by the voters in 2000 in the first place was to prevent elected politicians from mucking around with redistricting.   Recent editorials statewide have been extremely critical. Local LTEs have been equally potent; see David Fitzsimmons article today Nov.5, really a classic analysis.  This maneuver is a classic replay of the old adage:  "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely".  There is a mandatory need to replace all the Repub Senators next year;  I think that the one-third of the voters who are independents who are watching this circus will hold the key for that.

I attended the IRC meeting in Marana last evening.  By a huge majority, the speakers said their piece about the maps and then launched into devastating criticisms of this obvious political hatch job.  The  one Commissioner in attendance, Richard Stertz, had to listen to one after another of the speakers.  He is a Republican member and likely supportive of Mathis' ouster, but he really got an earful.  Brian Clymer, Sen. Paula Aboud, and Cheryl Cage were among the speakers, all offering intense criticism of the ouster.

Now is the time to flood the governor's office with phone calls  (1-800-253-0883), the newspapers and alternative media with LTEs, and your friends and lists to fire up opposition to the situation.  The best outcome would be two-fold:   Sen. Russell Pierce is voted out of office; and the State Supreme Court announces that Brewer and the Repubs overstepped their authority (not to speak of the trumped up charges) and restores Ms. Mathis to the chairmanship.   You can also submit your statement to the IRC at

Rick Graap.  Chair, Clean Elections IOT

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Next Economic and Social Justice IOT Meeting

PDA Tucson
Economic and Social Justice IOT Meeting
Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, Revolutionary Grounds Coffee House, 606 N. Fourth Ave., Tucson, AZ  85705
10 AM – noon

1.0        General Matters
1.1        Welcome
1.2        Agenda Modifications
1.3        Announcements from the Steering Committee
1.3.1    We need someone to table, two microphone runners, and one time-keeper for Nov. 10th meeting.
1.3.2    Letters sent as instructed in support of the President’s Jobs Bill

2.0        HB 2221 Establishment:  Bank of Arizona
2.1        Review and discussion of bill and proposed PDA editing
2.2        Plans for Steering Committee approval, education, networking

3.0        Financial Transactions Tax

4.0        Gov. Brewer’s Day of Prayer Proclamation

5.0        Student Loan Consolidation Program

Occupy Wall Street and Save Trees

Watch this video for a great idea on how to keep Wall Street Occupied from the comfort of your own home, while making your own personal stand against junk mail.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Economic and Social Justice IOT Sends Letter on Jobs Bill

Dear ______________
I am writing to you in my capacity as Coordinator of the Economic and Social Justice Issues Organizing Team of the Tucson Chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America.  As such, this letter represents 57 team members and just under 1000 chapter members. 
We are urging you and all other members of the Arizona Congressional Delegation to pass the President’s Jobs Bill as quickly as possible.  On Saturday, October 8, 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported that job creation is lagging and that nationally unemployment hovers around 9. 1%.
We recognize that there is more to work than income.  Work also brings socialization and a feeling of self-esteem.  In the Tucson area, our economy has not been diversified, and finding work has been difficult for many.  A stimulus bill is desperately needed now. 
Americans no longer feel hopeful about the future, and our young people are generally disoriented.  In addition to improving our decaying infrastructure and helping education and business, the Jobs Bill will only enhance our chances for recovery and personal well-being. 
AT PDA Tucson, we feel that this issue is crucial right now—so crucial that we are making it the focus of our quarterly meeting on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, from 7 – 9 PM, at the Hotel Tucson.  We cordially invite you and/or your representative to attend. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Get Money Out of Politics: The Push for a Constitutional Amendment

Thanks to the landmark Citizens United Supreme Court decision in early 2010, the US political landscape has changed forever... or at least for now. The Citizens United decision struck down campaign finance reform and opened the flood gates of secret campaign contributions by corporations and people.

Millions of dollars in donations from right-wing organizations like Karl Rove's American Crossroads fueled the Tea Party uprising in the fall 2010 elections, but that was just the beginning. The 2012 presidential race is the big enchilada. American Crossroads and its sister nonprofit Crossroads GPS announced that they plan to raise and spend $240 million in 2012, according to the Huffington Post.

Progressive Democrats of America has been fighting this corporate takeover of American government. Consequently, it was heartening to read a recent Huffington Post article about the push to pass a Constitutional Amendment to get money out of American politics.

Here is the proposed amendment...

"No person, corporation or business entity of any type, domestic or foreign, shall be allowed to contribute money, directly or indirectly, to any candidate for Federal office or to contribute money on behalf of or opposed to any type of campaign for Federal office. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, campaign contributions to candidates for Federal office shall not constitute speech of any kind as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution or any amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Congress shall set forth a federal holiday for the purposes of voting for candidates for Federal office."

Here is an excerpt from the Huffington Post article...

Money has bought our politics. Only we the people can take it back. But, HOW?

I have asked a professional lobbyist and a series of Constitutional scholars. They tell me that it will require a large, unrelenting, organized group aligned around a Constitutional Amendment to Get Money Out of politics.

So here is a draft of an Amendment and here is a petition to start the movement.

Read the Amendment and add your signature.

Our goal is to get a large, unrelenting, organized group to sign on to a petition asking our politicians to ban money in politics. If we can get it big enough, we can use my show on MSNBC as a platform to force this issue to the center of next year's Presidential debate. Without you I am just a talking head. With you we are 100,000 American s for Justice.

So join us, at

For the rest of the article, click here.

For more background about Get Money Out, click here.

Locally, watch for news and meetings related to PDA Tucson's Clean Elections and Corporate Personhood issue organizing teams.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Next Economic and Social Justice IOT Meeting

We will meet on Sat., Oct. 8, from 10 AM till noon in the Conference Room of the Connelly Construction Building at 320 W. Alturas St., Tucson, AZ 85705.

Alturas St. is several blocks north of Grant Rd., and the address is just east of Oracle Rd. 

See you then!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Check Out this 8-Minute Film on the Public Banking Alternative

Please share this video with other intelligent, concerned folks who know something is desperately wrong with our financial system. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Feasibility Study for State-Owned Bank Passes in California

The California legislature has passed a bill authorizing a feasibility study for a state-owned bank.  It is presently awaiting Gov. Brown's signature.  Here's a link to an article on the event:
Bravo!  This is a step in the right direction!

Monday, September 12, 2011

'Under Arpaio' a 'must see'

Under Arpaio, a new documentary film by Tucson's own Pan Left Productions is definitely a must see movie.

The film by J.M. Aragon aired on Saturday to a packed house at the Salt of the Earth Labor College's first class of the fall semester.

I have been in Arizona long enough to have a general knowledge of Arpaio's dastardly deeds-- the neighborhood sweeps for illegal aliens [his terminology], the racial profiling, the tent city jails in the desert, the chain gangs, the pink underwear, the bologna sandwiches, and the investigations of Arpaio that never go anywhere.

But I was shocked by what I didn't know-- murder and torture (on video tape) inside the Maricopa County Jail; trumped up traffic charges to back up police stops (thanks to SB1070); intimidation, arrest, and detention of elected officials (including several members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors) and others who challenge his authority or tactics; destruction of evidence by the Sheriff's office; and millions of dollars in lawsuits brought against him.

Aragon and co-producer Mary Charlotte Thurtle have created a chilling documentary by weaving together interviews of Latino activists who have been targeted by Arpaio; interviews of lawyers and family members of prisoners who were murdered by Sheriff's deputies inside the jail; surveillance video from the Maricopa County jail; videos of traffic stops as they happen; and Arpaio's speeches.

The big questions that I came away with are: Why isn't Arpaio in jail? Who votes for this guy? Has anyone been tortured and murdered in the Pima County Jail?

The current version of Under Arpaio is a director's cut, according to Aragon. During the next few months, he will be showing the film to small audiences around Tucson and raising funds for broader distribution. He plans to have a larger viewing at The Loft in the future.

It is a marvelous film, which deserves national attention. This film made me glad I don't live in Maricopa County. Here's the trailer.

Reprinted from the

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today is the 6-month point since Fukushima Daiichi started to melt down, becoming the largest nuclear disaster in history, surpassing Chernobyl in radioactive emissions.

This article: “Remembering “3/11”, is about engaging the lessons to be learned from the Fukushima Daiichi. These three outstanding citizens are pointing out how America is NOT yet learning from the tragedy in Japan.

Good and not-so-good news have been streaming in since then. On the positive side, Germany, one of the world's largest economies, keeps on track with its renewed goal of phasing out its reactors. They are actively replacing them with wind and solar power, and improvements in energy savings through increased efficiency. Their solar energy has now surpassed their hydro/dam energy output. See the facts on: Renewable Energy World

According to this Reuter’s article, China is ramping up its wind and solar commitment to replace some of its coal and nuclear plants.

Many other countries are re-thinking their energy options. Portugal has reached about 50% renewable energy in about a decade of judicious commitment so far. This investment will be one of the actions that will bring Portugal out of its economic slump.

Amidst this, our U.S. President and much of our political infrastructure, has become more entrenched in the U.S. commitment to nuclear energy. For every dollar the U.S. puts into this failed outdated technology, we will only get 4 kilowatt-hours of electricity (kWhe). This misspent dollar, if invested wisely instead, will yield about 7 kWhe of wind power or 33 (!) kWhe of energy savings through efficiency improvements. Energy saved negates the need to produce energy.

President Obama and many of our Congressmen/women also are promoting use of coal and natural gas fracturing (fracking) energy. The costs of these options are also much higher than a wise blend of renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.

Say yes to renewables and energy savings through efficiency,
No nukes, no coal, no fracking, no kidding!

written by: Russell Lowes, PDA Tucson, IOT on Climate and Environment

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Arizona Redistricting Meeting Friday Sept 9

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will hold an official meeting in Tucson on Friday September the 9th.

Time: 3 p.m.
Place: Viscount Suite Hotel Conference Room
4855 E. Broadway

Agenda: Maps for the Congressional and Legislative districts will be presented with a lot of time scheduled for discussion. The agenda scheduled time is over 4 hours. More details can be seen at:

The next 10 years will be affected greatly by the final new lines. The goal, among the 5 other mandated criteria, should be to increase the number of competitive legislative districts (currently 3 of 36). The Congressional districts will go from 8 to 9. Questions will be allowed at the end of the meeting; this is a chance to see the process in action and is one of a series of meetings scheduled throughout the state. Do come if you can, even if only for a part of the meeting.

Rick Graap
Coordinator: Clean/Fair Elections IOT

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tired of the Trickle Down: Where Are the Jobs? (video)

PDA Tucson and local MoveOn activists protested Congress' focus on the debt ceiling and disregard for Main Street in August 2011. Here is a video by Pamela Powers.

Friday, August 19, 2011



When Bill McKibben asked me to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, I was concerned what might happen if I did. I might look like an enemy of every worker who might gain a much needed pipeline job – denying them the very opportunity that let me support myself and pay for my own education. I also feared it would strain my ties with some of the unions supporting the pipeline. But if I was silent, wouldn’t my silence equal consent to something I knew would be devastating to the planet, its people, and to the labor movement itself? I was talking the talk, but would I walk the walk?

I’ve decided to walk the walk. And here is what I will tell my friends about why I am doing it:

To my friends in the labor movement I say: We can’t build our future by destroying our future. If labor is to have a sustainable future, it must be as a central player in the sustainability movement. We must fight for jobs for our members that will truly “pave the way for better days” rather than destroying their and their children’s futures. Support deep reductions in the burning of fossil fuels, support the measures climate science says are necessary to protect people and the planet, and rebuild the labor movement around the jobs of the future.

To those who might get a job on the pipeline I say: We’re blocking the pipeline to save your future too. But I know I won’t be able to look you in the eyes if I and those I am marching with don’t fight to make sure there are decent jobs for you and your kids — building the kind of world we need.

To my friends in the climate protection, environmental, and sustainability movements I say: We can’t let climate protection make victims of workers who happen through no fault of their own to be in the way of changes that are necessary to protect the climate. Work with us in the labor movement to better understand that sustainability starts at the kitchen table. Support full employment policies, support Blue-Green Alliance’s Jobs 21 campaign, support the AFL-CIO’s program for full employment, and fight for a just transition that protects the wellbeing of workers and communities who may be hurt by side effects of climate protection policies through no fault of their own.

And to myself I say: I am marching not against the labor movement but for the labor movement, for the labor movement to be what I have always in my heart believed it to be. To be the “community in operation” my parents fought for; the labor movement I have spent my life building; the labor movement that makes it possible for working people to fight for what they really need.

The time to begin drastic reductions in carbon emissions is past – we haven’t a moment to waste. So, If not now, when? If not this issue, what issue?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ask Senator John McCain Where the Jobs Are: Town Hall in Tucson, Aug 9

Arizona Senator John McCain will venture into Pima County tomorrow-- Tuesday, August 9-- for a rare local town hall.

This is your chance to ask Senator McCain where the jobs are, what the heck is going on in Washington, what he's done for workers lately... or whatever else you want to ask.

Here is the information from about the town hall and a related demonstration on Wednesday...

Senator John McCain Town Hall
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall
Tuesday, 9 Aug 2011, 9:00 AM
1431 West Magee Rd (Map)
Tucson, AZ 85704

Republicans in Congress have been repeating the mantra that "tax cuts result in job growth" since well before the last election season. While corporations and the wealthiest 2% of America have enjoyed unprecedented tax breaks and industry subsidies, the rest of us are left wondering "where are the jobs?" We need to mobilize to let Congress know that we won't continue to foot the bill for more tax breaks and no job growth! The August recess is a perfect time for our movement to make our voices heard loud and clear across the country.

On Tuesday, we will join Senator McCain's Tucson town hall to ask "Where are the Jobs?" and demand that Congress make corporations and the wealthiest Americans play fair pay their share!

On Wednesday at 5pm, we will join together at the corner of Speedway & Campbell for a rally to once more ask "Where are the jobs?"

Message from [MoveOn] host: We will need two teams of volunteers to attend this event: Some members should attend the town hall as constituents and ask Senator McCain point blank why tax cuts and subsidies have not brought job growth. Where are the jobs? We also welcome a few folks to gather with signs outside the event to make sure that people see and hear our message and that any media that attend know where we stand.

Here's a map to the town hall location.

News from the Economic and Social Justice IOT

We will devoting the entire meeeting to the possibility of creating a state bank for Arizona similar to the Bank of North Dakota. For further information, please check our minutes on our IOT's page!

Helpful materials for learning about the Bank of North Dakota and a similar proposal in Oregon:

Next Economic and Social Justice IOT Meeting:

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011, 7 – 9 PM,
Ward 1 Council Office
940 W. Alameda

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dear Friend,

Here is an op-ed I wrote in today's Arizona Republic about the important issue of protecting the Grand Canyon and the surrounding area from the threat of mining. The impact of uranium mining on this national treasure cannot go unchallenged, and we must continue to make our voices heard.

Peace, US Congressman Raúl Grijalva

GOP Lawmakers have Canyon Under Siege

It's not too dramatic to say the Grand Canyon has been under siege from mining claims for several years now. Unfortunately, several of my Arizona congressional colleagues have taken stands that would make sure that siege continues.

As I wrote in a May 4 letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, there are at least 8,500 mining claims near the Canyon, up from the 100 claims on file in January of 2003. That's why June 20 was such a big day in the history of American conservation.

In a ceremony I was proud to attend, Salazar said he will recommend withdrawing more than 1 million acres around the Canyon from mining claims for the next 20 years. It was, in every sense, a huge deal.

That announcement, unfortunately, wasn't the end of the discussion. Salazar's proposal won't be formalized until the end of the year; and, in the meantime, Republicans in Congress - including Republican Reps. Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and Paul Gosar - have been busy.

The most important issue to watch is an unusual amendment to this year's Interior Department funding bill. The amendment says Interior can't implement Salazar's withdrawal of those acres around the Grand Canyon. Even though this is a spending bill, which isn't allowed to make policy, it just goes ahead and says Interior can't do its job.

Who wrote this amendment?

According to his own July 12 press release, it was Rep. Flake. Just as bad, Reps. Franks and Gosar wrote a May 16 letter to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., calling Salazar's proposal "a serious national-security threat." I'm betting they'll support the Flake amendment when they get the chance.

What makes Rep. Flake's effort especially strange is that American corporations, or even our nuclear-power sector, wouldn't really benefit if it passed. Much of the uranium extracted by Denison Mines Corp., a Canadian company with multiple mining leases in the Grand Canyon area, is exported to South Korea, where Korea Electric Power Corp. has an ownership stake.

How will protecting the Grand Canyon from a South Korean-owned Canadian mining firm create a national-security crisis? The Franks-Gosar letter doesn't really say. It does say that withdrawing the land from mining claims is "political gamesmanship." I'll let readers decide how they feel about that.

Action on this amendment will probably come soon. The funding bill has been approved by the House Appropriations Committee but hasn't been to the full House for a vote. If it passes, it will almost certainly include this language. Unless someone in the Senate works to get it taken out, it will be in the final bill that goes to the president.

This is all part of a bigger ideological campaign to eliminate environmental protections Republicans disagree with in principle. It isn't about helping the economy. It's about not believing the government should protect the environment, period.

Arizona doesn't want to open the Grand Canyon for mining, drilling or any other kind of disruption. The Canyon isn't just a pile of rocks or a vein of minerals waiting to be turned into cash. It's the crown jewel of our national-parks system and one of the most beautifully recognizable features of the entire planet.

This amendment would put the needs of millions of Grand Canyon visitors - not to mention the Canyon itself - somewhere below the needs of mining CEOs.

I'm squarely against this tactless, unnecessary corporate giveaway. I think the people of this state, and this country, agree with me. I'd like to know from Rep. Flake what his proposal is supposed to accomplish and who he's earmarking this for. Let's end the siege on the Grand Canyon once and for all.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Vigil for Carlos: Border Patrol Orders Removal of Memorial for Slain Teenager (video)

Three months after shooting Carlos LaMadrid in the back, the US Border Patrol ordered the removal of the slain teenager's memorial at the Douglas, Arizona border. PDA Southern Arizona activist Alison McLeod made this powerful video at the vigil to keep Carlos's memorial at the border fence where he died.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 30: Demonstrate Your Support for Medicare

Medicare is the Solution… Not the Problem!

Come help celebrate Medicare's 46th birthday by demonstrating your support. Join PDA Tucson for this important event.

WHEN: Saturday July 30
WHERE: NE Corner of Speedway and Campbell in Tucson
TIME: 10 am to noon

Medicare is a the nation’s most popular social program. It has been working to provide those 65 and over, those with disabilities and certain medical conditions, with access to comprehensive healthcare without fear of bankruptcy.

Despite years of success, opponents to making healthcare a public good are seeking to privatize and cut Medicare, along with Medicaid and Social Security. In fact, these three social safety net programs have become political targets during the current battle over the nation's debt and deficit.

We need you to join us and stand up for the right to healthcare.

Bring hat, water, signs, and your feelings about Medicare.

Thanks to Ann Rose Dichov, Co-Coordinator of PDAs Medicare for All Issue Organizing Team for organizing this action.

Check out this event on facebook.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

MoveOn Urges Members to Take the Debt Ceiling Battle to the Streets and to Congressional Offices is calling on us-- all of us-- to visit our Congressional representatives' offices today, July 26, at noon and tell them to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Don't let extremist Teapublicans destroy our economy and our country's social safety net-- as they play chicken with President Obama and the world financial markets over raising the debt ceiling. (If you know anyone who lives in John Boehner's Ohio district, forward it to him.)

From Move On...

This weekend, it became 100% clear that Republicans would rather see America default, Social Security checks stop going out, the stock market plummet, and unemployment soar than give one inch on their position: that the very richest people and most profitable corporations shouldn't pay one penny more in taxes.

Even after the president offered Republicans a debt-ceiling deal most MoveOn members probably consider unconscionable—with trillions in cuts, even to Medicare and Social Security—speaker Boehner still walked away from the table.

Republicans hope the threat of default will be enough to force Democrats to sacrifice and compromise even more.

But Democrats like Raul Grijalva are standing strong. Rep. Grijalva is one of 80 Democrats who have joined Leader Pelosi in saying that cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits are off the table. Over the next few days, Rep. Grijalva will face extreme pressure to cave into every Republican demand and let irresponsible threats drive terrible decisions in Washington.

That's why, with other leaders of the American Dream movement, we're putting out an urgent call for every patriotic American to show up outside progressive congressional offices on Tuesday at noon to deliver a crucial message of support: "Thank you for protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Keep standing strong."

Can you deliver the message to Rep. Grijalva at his office on Tuesday at noon?

Yes, I can drop by on Tuesday!

We'll follow up with all the details and a link to print your own "Keep standing strong" signs to bring to Rep. Grijalva.

Then you just have to show up on Tuesday here:

738 North 5th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85705

We need to show as much public support as possible, so please pass this along to anyone else you know who could join in on Tuesday. This is a moment when we need to bring the progressive movement together to show our strength and show our boldest leaders that we're with them. 
Let's get out there on Tuesday and let leaders like Rep. Grijalva know how important it is to keep standing up to Republican threats. We can't let Republicans crash the American economy to protect tax giveaways for the rich.

As someone who lives in CD8-- Gabrielle Giffords' district-- I received a different version of this MoveOn letter urging CD8 residents to go to her office (3945 E. Fort Lowell Road, Suite 211) to encourage her to support the position that Pelosi and Grijalva have taken. I don't know how many people will show up at Giffords' office, but I think it's a good idea because it emphasizes that CD8 residents need to have a dog in this fight.

Raising the debit ceiling and reducing the deficit by cutting corporate subsidies and tax loopholes for the rich-- while protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid-- are crucial issues. If you can't go to your Congressional representative's office today in person, contact them. Here is their contact information: Raul and Gabby.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Public/Private Banking for Community Investment, Bank of North Dakota, and More

Through a happy set of conincidences and really good teamwork (thank you, Rick Graap!), we are set for a superb IOT meeting. This meeting will take palce on Saturday, Aug. 6, from 10 - 12 AM, at the Ward 1 City Council Office located at 940 W. Alameda (roughly Alameda and Grande).
Our letter to the editor of the Tucson Weekly has been very well received. One of our suggestions was the formation of a public/private investment bank to help launch microenterprises, new ventures, and to offer training and upgrading for Tucsonans. Certainly we can agree that obtaining resources for everyone to move forward must be a high priority.
As it turns out, Rick Graap has been exploring this idea with Sam Stone, who has a high level of interest in the topic as well as a substantial business background. Sam will be joining us at the next meeting.
Rick and Sam have looked at the current situation in the community as well as many of our needs. But they have also turned to the Bank of North Dakota which is the only state-run bank in the United States. The BND opened in 1919 as a way to help farmers deal with the financial risks and uncertainties attendant to their operations. The BND has been a great success and has obviously grown in assets and scope. One fact that we should note is that the BND did alleviate misery and stabilize conditions in North Dakota during the Great Depression.
If you would like to learn more about the BND, you may wish to visit its website at
We will also be discussing how this kind of enterprise differs from a credit union and a community bank.
Please note that I have had very positive fedback about the suggestions in the TW letter. I am placing this matter on our agenda because it is the only concrete development I have received. Additionally, I'd like to discuss Marty's suggestions and certainly hear from everyone else about specific directions and projects. This discussion will be an important one, but it shoiuld not preclude any other ideas.
My family will be on holiday until Aug. 1 or 2. I shall be away from all electronic communication devices at that time. Nevertheless, please feel free to contact me, and I shall get back to you as soon as possible after my return.
I look forward to heaqring from you and to seeing you on August 6th!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grijalva Calls Out Republican Intransigence in Debt Ceiling Debate

CD7 Congressman Raul Grijalva called out Republicans for grandstanding and holding the country's economic future hostage-- as they cling tightly to their extreme ideology.

PDA Tucson Activists Urge Politicians to Address Problem of Local Poverty

"Off the Charts Poor"-- a recent feature in the Tucson Weekly-- presented some sobering statistics about poverty in Pima County and in Tucson in particular and sparked local activism.

From the Weekly...

If poverty were a disease, Pima County officials would have declared an epidemic by now.

In the past few years, local poverty has literally gone off of a chart compiled by the Pima Association of Governments. Yet elected officials, other local leaders and the media do not appear interested in the fact that Tucson recently eclipsed El Paso as the poorest major city in the Sunbelt.

The epidemic of poverty doesn't seem to be a priority for either city or county government. We often hear about the proposed Rosemont Mine and the Rio Nuevo redevelopment district, but rarely do officials talk about the fact that 200,000 Pima County residents, or one in five, get by (or try to get by) on incomes below the federal poverty rate. For an individual, that translates to less than $10,890 annually, and $22,350 for a family of four.

Whether the increase in poverty is the result of a lack of job-training, reduced education funding, or something else, there is little discussion about trying to change the harsh reality that almost one in every four Tucson residents is currently living below the poverty line.

If a healthy economy is about a community's collective capacity for productivity, how can Pima County prosper when so many of us are suffering from the debilitating social conditions imposed by poverty?...

Inside the city limits, the percentage of people living below the federal poverty level went from 18 percent in 1995 to 23.4 percent in 2009 (the latest year for which figures are available). That's an increase of almost one-third.

In Pima County, things were was only a little better: The county rate went from 16.9 to 19.3 percent, an increase of 14 percent. As a result, Pima County today is one of the poorest urban areas in the Southwest. [Emphasis added.]
The Weekly article sparked a round of letter writing and activism among PDA Tucson members-- particularly among the members of the Economic and Social Justice Issue Organizing Team (IOT). Why are local politicians not addressing this situation? During every election, we hear about job creation, but Tucson continues to slide backwards, according to the Weekly article. Here are there letters that PDA members wrote to bring awareness to this wide-spread economic problem.

Economic and Social Justice IOT writes to the Tucson Weekly with 'Business Friendly' suggestions to address local poverty

The Tucson chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America applauds the article “Off the Charts Poor” as it beautifully documents the result of a generation of political policies on our community. It is true that Tucson depends on tourism, retirees, and students to bring money into the community, and it is also true that our economy is not diverse and that our education system needs improvement.

Our community desperately needs jobs which will let people live well and encourage our children and our graduates to stay and make their stands here. We can do better than attracting another call center.

Lately, we have heard much said about creating a business-friendly environment. We differ with the usual and customary definition of that term. Instead of slashing taxes and granting incentives, it is time to explore different types of projects. Although we understand that many different organizations are working in these areas, we feel that we would like to bring these points to the attention of the Tucson community in order to stimulate discussion and eventually action.

Here are some ways to make Tucson more “business friendly”:
• Establish a meaningful way to fund public education guaranteeing not only basic skills acquisition for all but also vocational education geared toward new and emerging fields
• Strengthen the offerings and the modalities of Adult Basic Education
• Require workforce development providers hire highly qualified faculty, utilize student-oriented learning systems, and develop curricula and on-the-job-training experiences that lead in meaningful directions
• Ask educational providers to develop new curricula leading to national credentials
• Work with unions to develop and enhance training experiences
• Develop a community investment bank with funds from local public and private sources to strengthen the economy and the prospects of our residents
• Utilize private funding to create a program to launch micro-enterprises
• Create high quality and affordable childcare facilities so parents can work with confidence that their young are nourished
• Solicit donations of computer equipment so that a network of “computer shacks” can be opened around the county offering not only training but safe recreational experiences for our residents.
• Require that all work receive meaningful compensation so that a person can live in this community with dignity
• Enhance protections for workers in regard to compensation, working conditions, safety, and health
• Pass a progressive rent reduction ordinance to stimulate small and large business start-ups as well as the development of not-for-profits. In other words, if a rental space is not let in a specific time frame, say 3 months, the asking price of the rental will be lowered by a specified factor, perhaps 15%. Further reductions would happen at specific intervals and at specific levels.
• Improve air service in order to move people and materials in and out of Tucson more efficiently as well as to and from more destinations. This capacity will only make Tucson more attractive for job development.

The Tucson PDA has recently started an Issue Organizing Team (IOT) for Economic and Social Justice. This IOT is to be an action-oriented team with the goal of making the economy in Tucson and around the country work for the benefit of everyone, not just the already rich.

We are grateful for the legwork provided in the Tucson Weekly’s article as well as for the opportunity to comment. We hope that our proposals catalyze both thought and growth. Please join us in coming up with ideas and turning them into actions. You can contact us at and follow our blog at

Richard L. M. Brodesky
Coordinator, Economic and Social Justice
Issues Organizing Team,
Tucson Chapter
Progressive Democrats of America
July 1, 2011

Economic and Social Justice IOT member lauds Tucson Weekly for expose on local poverty

Thank you for publishing the thoughtful and well researched article, “Off the Charts Poor” (June 23-29). It is disgraceful that Tucson and Pima County have become the center of greatest poverty in the Sunbelt. This article does an excellent job of revealing the increasing impoverishment over the last few decades. Water is wet and poor people don’t make enough money. As read, I was reminded of two movements which sought to change this situation and were thwarted by the Tucson and Arizona Chambers of Commerce in alliance with the Republican Party.

The first was the 1997 city initiative to establish a $7 minimum wage. The Chamber and local business interests spent an estimated $1 million to defeat the initiative. They made the claim that it would cause massive layoffs as businesses were unable to meet such excessively high payrolls. To insure that this effort would not revisit Tucson or other Arizona cities, that same year the Arizona Chamber of Commerce lobbied the State Legislature to prohibit Arizona cities from establishing a minimum wage. This statute remains on the books today.

The second movement in this regard was the “Living Wage” ordinance adopted by the City Council in Sept. of 2000. That ordinance would have required businesses contracting with the City to pay their workers a minimum of $8 per hour; $9 for firms which do not provide health insurance. The State Legislature once again moved to pre-empt the City by passing legislation to prohibit cities from establishing such requirements. Ron Stuht, lobbyist for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce complained that “(Tucson’s living wage ordinance) is like a virus” which was going to occur “again and again.” (Arizona Daily Star Jan. 26, 2000).

The issue of poverty is that of wage suppression. Workers who are not organized into unions are completely at the mercy of businesses who want to pay the lowest wage they possibly can. These business interests have the money to see that they gerrymander State Legislative Districts and elect Republican politicians who insure that Arizona workers remain impoverished. Efforts of the Arizona AFL-CIO to bring wage bargaining power to Arizona workers are hampered by the “Right to Work” law and other legislation such at the two cited above.

What these business interests seem to fail to understand is that their efforts ultimately restrain their own growth. The flip side of wages is consumer demand. Workers with little disposable income have no money to buy the products and services created by business. Sales are slack and economic stagnation is the result.

Working hand in glove with wage suppression is legislation to insure that business profits and incomes are as free from taxation as possible. Since 1995 the State has reduced income taxes by 30% and still the Republican shills for business demand more cuts. A huge number of commodities and services are completely exempt from State and local sales and other taxes. Government services starved for revenue cannot provide the physical and organizational infrastructure to create an environment for diverse economic growth. The Arizona State Legislature, bent upon eliminating government services altogether also insures that there is little in the way of stable high wage government jobs; again reducing consumer demand.

This article also bemoans the lack of a workforce which has the skills to be productive in the workplace. Yet we see a State Legislature starving public education from preschool through the post graduate level. With the State universities now charging more than $10,000 per year in tuition and fees, it is likely we will see declining enrollment. How will this meet the need to produce more highly skilled and educated workers?

Cited in the article was Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities board member and Vice President of Northern Trust Wealth Strategies Vice President Frances McLane Merryman. It is a widely held maxim within our small business community that banks are unwilling to lend money unless you don’t need it. Without sufficient investment capital, business has no means to finance expansion or to survive cyclical recessions. Is it likely that with such members, TREO will ever recognize that wage suppression, low business and income taxation and scarcity of investment capital are the primary culprits of our economic malaise?

Arizona and Pima County in particular are in the throes of extremely unbalanced class forces. Until that is reversed, first and foremost by eliminating all constraints to labor organizing, Tucson is going to continue its deplorable slide into dubious distinctions such as the most impoverished city in the Southwest.

Jim Hannley
President, El Rio Neighborhood Assiciation
June 28, 2011

PDA Tucson's Phil Lopes writes to the Arizona Daily Star about job creation and budget cutting

Dear Editor,

A report just released from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows Arizona’s growth from 2009 to 2010 was only 0.7 percent, worse than any other state except for Nevada and Wyoming. The report also shows that in the past ten years the per capita GDP in Arizona has only increased 3 percent compared to the national average of 6.7 percent.

Clearly, cutting taxes and spending simply destroys the state and the country’s ability to be productive and create jobs.

Hopefully the "budget cutters" in Congress will learn from the example of Arizona that only cutting spending will not “grow” an economy.

Phil Lopes
Former State Representative, LD 27
July 5, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Swing state voters say: Tax the rich to bring down the deficit

Although right-wing presenters at a recent Congressional deficit reduction town hall in Tucson downplayed taxing the rich and eliminating corporate loopholes as strategies to reduce the federal deficit, taxing the rich is a popular idea with the rest of us.

From the Huffington Post...

Poll data by the Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling released Wednesday said voters in Ohio, Missouri, Montana and Minnesota back hiking taxes on the wealthy -- even for people with incomes as low as $150,000.

The respondents were asked: "In order to reduce the national debt, would you support or oppose raising taxes on those with incomes over $1,000,000 a year?"

Nearly 80 percent of voters in the four states backed the idea.

This new statistic shouldn't be all that surprising, really. At the end of 2010, before Congress and the President caved and extended all Bush era tax cuts, many progressives-- like radio and TV commentator Ed Schultz-- were pleading with President Obama not to extend the cuts on the wealthy because most American's didn't agree with the strategy. Schultz strongly urged the President to hang tough and refuse to pass any cuts if  Congressional Republicans insisted on extending cuts for the wealthy.

Well, we all know what happened back in December 2010. All Congressional Republicans, enough Democrats, and the President pretended as if the US had no debt or deficit problem and extended all tax cuts for 2012. Now Republicans want to cut, cut, cut the 14 percent of the budget that is non-military, discretionary spending, while continuing to defend subsidies for Big Oil and tax cuts for the rich.

Progressives need to stand tough on this issue and defend Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social safety net programs, while pushing for universal healthcare, an end to the wars, and elimination of tax cuts for the rich and subsidies for corporations that are making record profits.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Giffords' Deficit Reduction 'Town Hall' Features Right-Wing Talking Heads: PDA Activists Provide Reality Check (video)

On Thursday, June 30, 2011, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' staff sponsored a deficit reduction town hall which featured data-filled slide presentations by David Walker of the Comeback America Initiative and Robert Bixby of the Concord Coalition.

Fearing a one-sided, right-wing love fest, several activists from Progressive Democrats of American Tucson Chapter attended the event to distribute literature on the People's Budget and hold up "Healthcare, Not Warfare" and "Heal America, Tax Wall Street" signs during the meeting. Unfortunately, there was a sign on the meeting room door barring signs in the meeting (see photo above), but PDA volunteers greeted and distributed dozens of "Healthcare, Not Warfare" stickers and People's Budget information to attendees.

Two PDA activists-- Alison McLeod and Pamela Powers-- also shot video of the event. The Powers video (above) provides an overview of the event and highlights the disinformation, revisionist history, and right-wing talking points offered by the speakers. The McLeod video (below) specifically addresses the suppression of free speech by Giffords' staffers.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Join Other Progressives and Tell John Kerry Your Opinion on the War in Afghanistan

From Progressive Democrats of America...

As you may know in 10 days we gathered over 25,000 signatures in a letter to the Senate Democratic Caucus, which we delivered to Senator Kerry. In addition we delivered 54 packets containing the letter to the Senate Democratic Caucus. Sen. Kerry then responded to us. His response is here: Sen. Kerry's office has been monitoring the comments on our blog containing his response to us about our letter to the Senate Democratic Caucus. In addition we are receiving press queries about it.

I'm writing to you today to ask you to read the comments and to make a comment yourself. This is a delicate operation though.

While we agree with Barbara Lee that this initial drawdown should have been 50, 000 troops by the end of this year, we are happy that Obama did not follow the advice of his generals to remove just 5000 troops. We didn't get everything we wanted, but we did reverse the direction of our military strategy there. It's important to remember that this is no small victory. See Tom Hayden's post:

We also should recognize that we are in conversation with a very powerful member of the Senate. For maximum impact and in order to continue to build on this opening, which is important for future efforts, the tone of your comment is very important. Respectful comments are needed—we can respectfully disagree and show support for his willingness to address us directly, while urging Kerry to step it up:

Support Lee's amendment in the Senate debate on defense authorization by calling for 50,000 troops in the initial drawdown. If we bring home 97,00 troops by the end of 2012, we'll save 100 billion a year and still have a strong military presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan: 50,000 from Afghanistan for a $50 B savings, withdraw 47.000 from Iraq, saving another $50 b a year

Sponsor a new Baker-Hamilton-style “Afghanistan Study Group” which includes public hearings to inform the work. We need to hear all the facts, and any strategy should include what the American people want.

Speak clearly to dispel the myth that our national security is at risk if we leave Afghanistan, when the reverse is actually true. Our military intervention in muslim countries is creating the risk.

We've got a toe-hold here, and we need to get our foot in the door. Some comments on the blog have been excellent while other are rather mean-spirited. We want to get our points across without alienating his office. We want to show we can be partners in ending the war, and not cry-babies when we don't get exactly what we want. Can you help in this effort by making a comment today?

Deficit Town Hall: Help PDA Spread the Word about the People's Budget!

Representative Gabrielle Giffords' Office is sponsoring a Deficit Town Hall on June 30, 2011 in Tucson. (See the announcement below.) The event has been billed as an interactive learning event where attendees will be allowed to voice their opinions about deficit reduction.

Progressive Democrats of America want the People's Budget to be part of that discussion. Please come to the town hall and help PDA Tucson raise awareness of the basic principles of the People's Budget. The budget can't be balanced only by cutting social programs that help poor and middle class Americans. In the People's Budget, progressives are fighting for a balanced budget that cuts in military spending, provides universal healthcare, eliminates tax cuts for the wealthy, and much more. Check this link to the Connect the Dots presentation on the People's Budget for more information.

Please attend this important event and help PDA spread the word about the progressive agenda!

University Of Arizona Memorial Student Union
North Ballroom, 1303 E. UNIVERSITY BLVD.
Tucson, AZ

6:30- 8:30 p.m.

Created By
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
More Info


Presentation and discussion with leading experts on national budget policy

You make the cuts * You make the budget

The Office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Concord Coalition, the University of Arizona, and the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce invite you to attend an interactive town hall event about our nation’s deficit.

The town hall will feature the Concord Coalition’s Fiscal Solutions Tour, which includes an overview of the federal budget, national debt and our nation’s other major fiscal challenges. Leading the discussion will be two of our nation’s most respected voices of budget issues: the Honorable David Walker and Robert Bixby. They also will discuss options for closing our budget deficit and restoring fiscal sanity to Washington.

Additionally, the town hall will feature an interactive activity giving you and your fellow attendees the opportunity to try to balance the federal budget yourselves. By considering issues such as federal spending priorities, tax policy and entitlement reform, you will gain firsthand experience addressing the difficult issues facing policymakers in today's fiscal environment.

The Fiscal Solutions Tour will include presentations by respected voices on budget issues:
•The Honorable David Walker -- founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative and former Comptroller General of the United States
•Robert Bixby -- Executive Director of the Concord Coalition and member of the bipartisan Domenici-Rivlin Debt Reduction Task Force.

To RSVP, please email or call 520-881-3588.

Here's a link to the facebook page for this event.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Economic and Social Justice IOT Aug. 6th Meeting

Our Next Economic and Justice IOT Meeting
Saturday, August 6, 2011
10:30 - 12:30 AM
Ward 1 City Council Offices
1940 W. Alameda
Please Join Us!

Minutes for June 24, 2011 Meeting

Our kick-off began with 7 members present:  Richard Brodesky, Marty Diamond, Betty Fridena, Richard Fridena, Chuck Gould, Jim Hannley, Jane Kroesen, and Phil Lopes.

Richard began the meeting with introductions and a go-round about what we want and what we do not want from this IOT. 

Phil then gave an overview of the Progressive Democrats of America, the Arizona perspective, and what is happening in our Tucson chapter.  He then answered questions.  He also stressed our need and desire to work with other organizations. 

We realized that our IOT is absolutely essential.  Richard Fridena noted that our area is like the thread on an article of clothing which our mothers said should not be pulled because it will unravel the entire garment.  Chuck Gould said we should keep a local focus.  Marty Diamond asked many key questions, and Jane Krosen stressed the need to discuss strategies as well as outcomes.  Jim Hannley summarized his experience as a neighborhood leader and told how it is possible to make an impact. 

The goup realized that it can draft a letter and send it through Tucson PDA, attend governemnt meetings, hold rallies as well as edeucate the public. 

We decided that we need to start an internal conversation, and we instructed Richard Brodesky to distribute our email addresses to each other. 

Richard reviewed the material given above in this blog and stressed the importance of the Resources section as well as our capoability of participating in the monthly PDA conference calls. 

Richard announcedd that the Energy IOT will be hosting a conference in the fall and that our memebrs are welcome to help. 

We will be meeting next on Saturday, August 6th.  Richard is working on finding a meeting place and time.  He will announce the arrangements as soon as posssible via this blog and email.