Sunday, April 1, 2012

Will your mayor join the call to fund human needs instead of wars?

Did you see this recent news from Augusta?

Maine mayors team up   March 23 by Keith Edwards

Coalition includes Waterville's Karen Heck, who takes issue with 'this war 

on poor people'

AUGUSTA -- The mayors of 10 major Maine cities, including Augusta and Waterville, have formed a coalition to push back against what they see as a continuing shift of the costs to municipalities and taxpayers.
Staff photo by Joe Phelan -- Augusta Mayor William Stokes, left, and Westbrook Mayor Colleen Hilton listen as Waterville Mayor Karen Heck, right, answers a question during a news conference at the State House on Thursday in Augusta. A group of mayors from the state's largest cities announced the formation of a Mayors Coalition on Jobs and Economic Development, they said their top priority is fighting the general assistance cuts...
Mayor Karen Heck of Waterville had already spoken that week  at the State House in favor of redirecting military spending to human needs at home. And she has invited me to send her the resolution passed at the US Conference of Mayors last June in Baltimore so that she can sign it (it's the res that became part of the mayors' advocacy platform to the federal government for the needs of urban citizens (more info here).

Wouldn't it be super if more mayors joined Karen in endorsing the resolution as a solution to budget cuts? Consider asking your mayor, or otherwise getting the word out!

Wording of the resolution can always be modified by signers. This what big city mayors passed:


WHEREAS, every member of the US Conference of Mayors and the Americans they represent, support our brave men and women in uniform and their families;

WHEREAS, the drawdown of troops should be done in a measured way that does not destabilize the region and that can accelerate the transfer of responsibility to regional authorities; 

WHEREAS, the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to re-examine our national spending priorities; and 

WHEREAS, the people of the United States are collectively paying approximately $126 billion dollars per year to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan; and 

WHEREAS, 6,024 members of the US armed forces have died in these wars; and at least 120,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the coalition attacks began. 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors supports efforts to speed up the ending of these wars; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors calls on the President and U.S. Congress to end the wars as soon as strategically possible and bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy and reduce the federal debt.

Adopted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in June, 2011.

CODEPINK's suggested Next Steps:
  1. Email a copy of the resolution to your congressional delegation and the president.
  2. Share the online campaign with your Facebook community.
  3. Tweet about the campaign: @whitehouse: Mayors endorse @CODEPINKalert resolution to end #wars & bring $$ home to needs of our #cities #p2
  4. Schedule a meeting with your mayor to discuss the resolution passed and ask your mayor to personally use the resolution to advance the needs of your community in Washington.
  5. Take a copy of the Mayors' War Dollars Home Resolution (pdf) to your members of Congress. The pdf includes the full text of the resolution, talking points, and a copy of the press release from the mayors' conference.
  6. Write letters to the editor congratulating the mayors for following the advice of their constituents and passing the resolution. Consider mentioning your personal involvement in the campaign and/or CODEPINK's leadership.

Inline image 1

Mayor Kitty Piercy of Eugene, OR was the lead sponsor for the war dollars home resolution, Ironically, she felt unable to travel to Baltimore for the conference where it was voted on due to budget shortfalls in Eugene.

Published on Monday, June 20, 2011 by

US Mayors Tell Congress: Bring War Dollars Home

by Lisa Savage
BALTIMORE, June 20 – Mayors from around the US met in Baltimore this week to set public policy for the millions of people living in big cities, depending on municipal services to stay safe. While Congress considered allocating another $118 billion to conduct wars next year – and President Obama absurdly maintained that the costly bombing of Libya is not an act of war, and thus not subject to Congressional oversight – mayors listened to the people.
Anti-war activists rallied in Austin, Texas earlier this year carrying the 'Bring Our War Dollars Home' message. Today, the US Conference of Mayors passed a resolution calling for the same. Following a lively debate about adding stronger language supporting troops and their families, and adding President Obama as a recipient, mayors voted in their June 20 plenary session to call on the federal government to stop funding wars, and bring the money home.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors' Resolution Number 59 was only a twinkle in the eye two years ago when a coalition of citizens alarmed at endless wars and catastrophic budget shortfalls coined the slogan “Bring Our War Dollars Home” at activist Sally Breen's kitchen table in Windham, Maine.
 That state's campaign took off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2010, and soon spread nationally with adoption by the women-led peace group CODEPINK. Locations across Maine soon adopted war dollars home resolutions, including Deer Isle, Portland, and School Administrative District #74, followed by Northampton and Amherst, Massachusetts and, most recently, by Hartford, Connecticut.

Meanwhile, Congress continued to pass war funding supplemental bills, but without the support of Maine's two representatives in the House. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-2nd) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-1st) defied Democrat party leadership to repeatedly vote no on the measures. Pingree began speaking out in Congress and in the press about the need to listen to her constituents' demands to end the wars as Maine's economy unraveled, and local budgets for education, health care, housing and job training were slashed.

In March CODEPINK brought on board national campaign manager C.J. Minster, who wrote the text of the mayors' resolution at another kitchen table, that of co-founder Medea Benjamin. The idea to bring a resolution to the annual conference of mayors had been proposed to co-founder Jodie Evans by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the incoming president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The conference first convened in 1932, as big city mayors came together in Detroit to consider what could be done to pull their troubled cities out of the depths of the Great Depression. The New Deal incorporated many of their ideas, and mayors have met annually ever since.

"The United States Conference of Mayors calls on the U.S. Congress to bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy," the resolution reads, citing the $126 billion a year cost of U.S. wars and the deaths of more than 6,000 troops.

Mayor Joanne Twomey of Biddeford, Maine spoke out about the current recession last April when her city council was forced to drastically reduce spending on K-12 education. At a rally at the State House in Augusta, Maine Public Radio reported: "As mayor of the city of Biddeford – we are cutting $1.6 million in our education budget, and last week I had had it – I'm starting to say it from the podium," said Twomey. "It's my responsibility as mayor of the city of Biddeford to start saying if our priorities were straight, if we could bring these war dollars home, I wouldn't have to be doing this, and neither would the Biddeford school board."

Kitty Piercy, Mayor of Eugene, Oregon, took the lead by introducing Resolution 59 stating: “Mayors call on our country to begin the journey of turning war dollars back into peace dollars, of bringing our loved ones home and of focusing our national resources on building security and prosperity here at home. Our children and families long for and call for a real investment in the future of America. It is past due.”

Piercy was joined in supporting the measure by mayors from Worcester, Hartford, Baltimore, and a score of other cities. States represented on the endorsement list included Virginia, Florida, Ohio, New York, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. The resolution flew through the Metro Economies Committee on the opening day of the mayors' conference, and the news was picked up by media outlets all over the world. On Sunday, June 19, Mayor Villaraigosa spoke in favor of the resolution on television current affairs program Meet The Press – and the rest is history.

As for who will enforce the non-binding resolution, that is up to the people. Grassroots pressure to end funding for wars eventually produced an end to U.S. military presence in Vietnam, presaged by the last time the mayors considered a war dollars home resolution in 1971. Mayors may very well be closer to the will of the people than are senators or presidents. The framers of our Constitution seemed to recognize this when they put the power of the purse in the hands of the branch of government supposed to be closest to the people, the House of Representatives.

Immense profits by weapons manufacturers – and the jobs that depend upon war funding – are compelling reasons for wars with vague goals and shifting targets to continue indefinitely. Corporations spend millions lobbying Congress while contriving to pay no income taxes. Many citizens are questioning who the federal government really represents.

President Obama said while campaigning that he was not against all wars, just stupid wars. Bankrupting the country to maintain 800+ military bases abroad, and drop bombs costing $1 million apiece – the equivalent of 25 teachers' annual salaries – could be the definition of stupid in the 21st Century. Fellow Democrat Rep. John Garamedi of California warned this week, “If the president doesn’t move…he will face a revolution in Congress…It’s coming to that.”

If the President has forgotten that Afghanistan is called “the graveyard of empires,” the people have not. Their mayors now join the chorus calling on the federal government to end endless wars, and bring the war dollars home.

1 comment:

chrisrushlau said...

I wonder why Nixon withdrew the troops from Vietnam. Remember "Vietnamization"? I didn't understand what it meant at the time. By 1972 he'd brought most of our troops home but hoped to win the war by financing the South Vietnamese and using US air power ("A Bright Shining Lie", Neil Sheehan).
There was no lobby in the US in 1972 urging that vital US values were at stake in the theater of operations. There was no American-Israel Political Action Committee owning Congress and the President.
Does this activity today (above) have any effect on AIPAC? If AIPAC has any sense, and J Street, likewise, they're "Arabizing" their wars in view of the apparent link between US boots on the ground and regional mobilization against the US, EU, and Israel. They're hoping that covert wars with local mercenaries and advanced air power will--will what? That's the main resemblence between now and then. We were and are fighting a mental projection of our own fears--throwing bombs at shadows and killing real people almost by accident. The only difference is that this time the "we" is a few million people loyal to Israel whom the rest of us are terrified of whereas in 1968 most of us thought it was all-American to hate communisim, whatever that was.