Saturday, June 18, 2011

Baltimore sez bring our war $$ home!

CODEPINK's national manager for the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign, C.J. Minster, speaking in Baltimore at teach-in organized by Fund Our Communities coalition. Busloads of big city mayors saw the event as they headed out to dinner.
The 79th annual meeting of the U.S. Council of Mayors convened in Baltimore this weekend. Under consideration: Resolution No. 59, calling on Congress to hurry up and end the wars in order to redirect funding to critical needs in the cities around the country. Initiated by CODEPINK, the war $$ home resolution received endorsements from more than twenty mayors before being approved by the Metro Economies Committee on June 18, sent on to the full plenary of mayors on Monday, June 20.

Among the resolution's sponsors was Joe O’Brien, the Mayor of Worcester, MA who said, “We are spending a billion a month after Osama bin Laden has been killed. And while I appreciate the effort to rebuild nations around the world, we have tremendous needs in communities like mine." Mayor O'Brien will speak on behalf of the resolution during the conference, while City Council member James Kraft spoke about war funding draining resources from Baltimore in McKeldin Square last night.

News coverage of the mayors conference yesterday focused on the war dollars home resolution among many others under consideration: the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun, WERU Community Radio in Maine, as well as blogs like People's World all featured it. As candidates and incumbents alike seem to realize, the public has grown weary of austerity measures at home while pouring billions every month into wars abroad. Interesting that this is the first time since Vietnam that the U.S. Council of Mayors has considered a specifically anti-war resolution. (Mayors for Peace sponsors a yearly resolution against funding nuclear weapons, and promoting international cooperation for nuclear disarmament.)
What the mayors saw

Citizens in Baltimore call for funding for jobs, housing, education and transportation.
Perhaps the history of the mayors' conference is a harbinger of things to come. The U.S. Council convened for the first time in 1932 in Detroit, with big city mayors coming together to craft policies that would lead their citizens out of dire economic straits of the Great Depression. FDR's New Deal legislation reportedly drew on many of their ideas.

Another resolution under consideration this year addresses cuts to funding for Community Development Block Grants, a huge source of federal funding to cities in the past.

A Congress that does what corporations want while ignoring its citizens' basic needs does so at its own peril. How can cities with legions of unemployed, under-educated, homeless people lacking health care be secure? Let's all hope the Beltway is close enough to hear the voices raised from Baltimore: fund human needs, not wars!

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