“What is generally regarded as success—acquisition of wealth, the capture of power or social prestige—I consider the most dismal failures.”
— Emma Goldman, Was My Life Worth Living?
Let’s Create A People’s Budget!
On behalf of Occupy Portland’s Community Assembly and Labor Solidarity Committees you are invited to join us in a Community Assembly to Create a People’s Budget that works for all of us.
We are launching a campaign and action plan to achieve a city budget and spending proposals that address the primary concerns we all share, such as:
• Jobs for anyone who wants to work.
• Food for everyone who wants to eat.
• No cuts to vital services.
• Affordable housing for all.
• Robust, reliable and low-cost public transportation.
• Affordable health care for everyone.
• Quality education for our students.
We are reaching out to labor unions, community groups, Occupy, individuals and the broader 99% to join us in a fightback against the planned city cuts to essential services, while putting forth the budget priorities demanded by the 99%.
Why a People’s Budget?
By Dave Myers
A budget is a clear statement of priorities and values. Let’s illustrate this point by using the “household budget” analogy that so many austerity-minded folks are so fond of. A sane and functional household will create a budget that includes provisions for keeping a roof overhead, food on the table, clothes on each household member’s body, and provides for other necessities of life. If the household is fortunate, maybe there’s enough left over to educate the kids and pay the occasional doctor bill.
By contrast, the budgetary priorities for an insane household might allow dad to grab all household loot so he can go out and get drunk at the local saloon, gamble away all the money, pick fights with fellow drunken gamblers, get his ass kicked, then try and sleep it all off at the neighborhood bordello. And because dad managed to squander all the household cash, there’s nothing left to keep a roof overhead and food on the table. There’s no money to pay for education and none to pay the mounting doctor bills. Instead, dad’s malign neglect ensures that mom and the kids are kicked out onto the street, where they’ll begin begging for handouts that dad will ultimately take from them so that the whole insane cycle can repeat itself.
In recent decades, the type of budgets put forward by our municipal, state and (especially) federal officials have begun to resemble the “insane household” budget as described above. It seems there’s always money to pay for tax cuts for wealthy folks, but when it comes time to help low-income students with tuition, for instance, there’s little to offer. Unless you’re a student who gets out of line. For you there’s pepper spray.
Of course, it’s not just rich folks who’re always getting big breaks; big business gets its share too. Are you a big time construction contractor? Want to build another prison to keep your profit margins fat? You got it! (Want some “stop ’n’ frisk” with that?) And why not? After all, the only country that even comes close to rivaling the United States in its prisoner to non-prisoner population ratio is North Korea, one of the world’s most despotic regimes. But you want jobs programs for ex-offenders? What! Do you think money grows on trees!?!
For the rich, money indeed “grows on trees.” When it comes to military invasions, prison construction, weapons systems, lavish tax breaks for already obscenely wealthy individuals, and multi-trillion dollar bailouts for big banks and major corporations, the public purse comes flying right open.
For the rest of us, however, there’s hardly a money-bearing tree in sight; just tumbleweeds: reduced or curtailed funding for schools, roads, public transportation, parks, libraries, community clinics and just about anything else that actually benefits real people and our communities.
The big bankers, fund managers, corporate chieftains and the just plain rich demand these tax breaks because they’re the “job creators” whose endless financial gain must never get disrupted. And why is that? Because without that endless financial flow from our pockets to theirs, how else could they “trickle down” their leftover largesse onto the rest of us?
Not Buying It Anymore
In Portland, just like in every other community, there’s plenty of work that needs doing. And there are plenty of workers ready to do it. As in other communities, there’s lots of kids that want to go to good schools and receive a solid education, commuters who must rely on a robust public transportation system, sick and injured people who require medical treatment, kids who want clean and safe parks to play in, heads of households who require living wage jobs.
In Portland, as in communities everywhere, people receive much greater benefit from spending that is directed towards the needs of the people who live in the community instead of stuffing more of our hard-earned cash into the bulging pockets of the already wealthy. But our con-job creators will not change their tune, drop their insatiable greed and start doing the right thing. It’s up to the rest of us to make our demands known, then back up our demands with unstoppable action.
You are invited to participate in doing exactly that!
Let’s join together and create a People’s Budget.
Special thanks to Organized Power for research and assistance.
Notes 2-18-12 People’s Budget meeting
Community Budget People’s Assembly meeting 2-18-12
Present: Erica, Crystal, Sef, Shamus, Greg, Dave, Louis, Michael, Toby
Facilitator-Shamus, Note taker-Crystal, Timekeeper-Toby
Ground rules agreed upon by group:
Start no later than 10 minutes
Be realistic when accepting tasks – put work to a committee when its too much for one person
Allow facilitator to summarize what’s happening- have a cofaciliator to write important points on a board
Allow additions to the agenda in the beginning of the meeting and stick to the agreed upon agenda
At the end of meeting set roles for facilitator, co-facilitator, time keeper, notetaker
Take a temp check before making decisions. Working within the allotted time of the agenda item, goal is consensus and if consensus cannot be reached majority vote.
Goals of the Community Assembly
No decisions made re goals of CA. It was decided that the Program Committee will take the ongoing discussions into consideration when putting together the program for the CA. See end of notes for lengthy discussion notes.
Committee Report Backs
Outreach Committee: Dave, Crystal, Greg, Chris, Shamus
We need to strategically get endorsements from groups that will help us get endorsements from bigger groups. We need to do more than get endorsements, we need to have the rank and file invested. They need specific ways they can get involved before the CA. We need to focus on outreach to community groups and unions (R2D2, OPAL,) that are directly affected by budget cuts, ask them to send someone to the CA to talk about their issues. Plan is to go to different budget meetings and hand out fliers.
Erica will create a form we can use as an outreach tool for community groups/unions.
Dave committed to go to City Budget meeting
March 5, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Montgomery Park Ballroom
2701 NW Vaughn
Michael committed to go to City Budget meeting
March 21, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Cleveland High School Cafeteria
3400 SE 26th
Trimet Budget meetings:
Monday, March 19, 4:30–6:30 p.m. Toby
Clackamas Town Center, Community Room, Lower Level 12000 SE 82nd Ave. Portland, OR
Tuesday, March 20, 4:30–6:30 p.m. Nobody
Beaverton Library, Conference Room 12375 SW 5th St. Beaverton, OR
Wednesday, March 21, 4:30–6:30 p.m.Shamus and Louis
Portland Building, Auditorium 1120 SW 5th Ave. Portland, OR
Thursday, March 22, 4:30–6:30 p.m. Shamus and Dave
Multnomah County East County Health Center, Sharron Kelly A & B 600 NE 8th St. Gresham,
Tuesday, March 27, 5:30–7:30 p.m. Greg and possibly Mark
Multnomah County Library, North Portland Branch, 2nd Floor Meeting Room 512 N Killingsworth St. Portland, OR
Public Access TV show March 22nd Toby, Dave and Shamus
Occupy is having an info booth downtown for the next few weeks. Shamus and Dave will try to be there/look into details
ATU-Dave will contact Theresa Mitchel from ATU. Shamus has reached out to someone from the ATU and will coordinate with Toby and Dave. Toby will contact Melissa Archie.
Portland AFSCME- Shamus and Erica will contact
Over the next few weeks we will follow up with these groups:
Greg: Move On, R2D2, Oregon Action, JwJ,
Dave: R2D2,Working America
Michael: 1st Unitarian Church (EJAG, real wealth), Community Gardens, and Transitions
Louis: Unite Here
Erica: Urban League, Occupy the Dream,
Crystal: PCASC, SE Occupy,
Shamus: SEIU 503,
Mark: SEIU 49
Toby: MacG, Phoneix Rising
Shamus will make flyers and leaflets and send with someone to the next meeting.
Discussed that outreach committee needs to reach out to as many Occupy groups as well. We should put up flyers around community centers.
Shamus has reached out to:
CWA endorsed. Next Wed. meeting at IBEW. PCC teachers are taking it to their membership meetings. Letter Carriers announced it at their meeting, up for vote in March. COPPEA said will endorse if AFSCME does. Outreached to HERE, OEA classified (non teachers), Local 88, APWU (mail handlers). PAT (teachers) local 8 Longshoremen, ATU (trimet),
Where’s the Money committee: Louis, Michael, Scott, and Toby
Has not met yet. The Where’s the Money Committee should be going to the City Council budget update on April 2nd and April 4th. Idea to get a little rally together at these meetings with signs and flyers to advertise our CA.
Media Committee: Shamus and Dave.
Cable Access Show on March 22nd. We need to make a list of different media groups/folks that we need to get in touch with. Sef has contact with Wyden Kennedy and will talk with them about putting together a press kit. Shamus will reach out to KBOO. Greg will reach out to Jim Lockhard. Shamus will write an article and it will go to the Occupier, Alliance, Willamette Week, Mercury etc.
Program Committee: Greg, Sef, Shamus and Toby
What would the city budget include if your needs were being met?- will be question posed to groups. Discussion about making a short video of community groups/unions answering these questions to play at the CA. Crystal will talk to Joe Anybody about making a video. We will ask unions and community group to speak to at the CA to their needs in a fair budget. Possibly discuss WPA at the CA.
Trudy Cooper from the Occupy the Dream group is interested in being a facilitator at the CA. Erica is in touch with her
Crystal Shamus and Erica will be gone the next 2 meetings.
Shamus will make agenda, Louis will take Notes, Toby will facilitate.
Program committee Meeting: Tuesday Feb 21st 7pm at Lucky Lab
Outreach committee meeting: will not meet, because we talked a lot about outreach at this meeting
Where’s the Money committee meeting: Wednesday Feb 22nd at 3pm at Lucky Lab. Request that they bring a skeleton outline of revenue increases/shifts in spending that could help fund the things the 99% want to see in a budget.
Currently Community Assembly is scheduled for April 7, which is the day before Easter and the 1st day of Passover. Greg will look into see if the church is available the 3rd or 4th weekend in April, so we know if we have the option of moving it. Will vote on if we should move the CA next week.
Discussion notes re Goals of CA:
Discussion: We should create a skeleton campaign/action plan for a People’s Budget based on the what comes out of the CA. Goals should be different if we have a large turnout or small turnout for the CA. We need to focus on outreach if we want to fulfill our potential.
Part of the CA should be dedicated to education. However, we need to have direct action attached to the CA, can’t just be an education campaign. Goal of the “where’s the money campaign” is the educational piece that says the money is there and this is how we can use it to fund our budget for the 99%.
Is this going to be more about rallying against cuts? Or about people actually coming together to create a people’s budget? We could focus on a few budget issues? Or the budget as a whole. Idea of direct action=We need to go to city council en masse to put forward our budget and rally against cuts. This is a long term project- Going to city council on a regular basis, creating a community based process to influence the budget every year. We could pick 5 or 6 issues that affect 90% of people. Program meeting will have a proposal ready by next week. Program committee will take into account different concepts as to what the CA will be about and provide different options.
Goals proposed by Mark and Sef:
What are our top priorities.
1.) Report on our findings from polling the participants.
2.) Further discussion on these results
3.) Through a democratic process, deciding on what issue or issues we are all willing to take action on.
Developing an action plan
1.) Based on these priorities, developing at least a skeleton version of an action campaign.
2.) Agreeing to build at least one mass event.
1.) Establishing a continuation committee tasked with
a.) Creating a document that explains our principles and priorities.
b.) Fleshing out the skeleton version of an action campaign.
c.) Making the call to start planning meetings for a mass event(s)
d.) Establishing a proposal for by laws for the community assembly.
e.) Find a means to create a website, or some other centralized place that would provide
links to information, other groups, and provide a way to communicate.
f.) Create a proposal for finances.
g.) Set the date and build for the next Community Assembly.
This second set of priorities is if we only have dozens of largely unaffliated activists turn out, which would still be a promising achievement, but would require that we adjust our goals.
1.) We develop a strategy and time line for building a Community Assembly with the kind of wieght that is needed to build unity among the organizations of the 99 percent.
2.) We use the event to further develop a list of issue priorities to build united action on to take to unions and other organizations for their input and buy in in building the next Community Assembly.
3.) We establish a continuation committee tasked with
a.) Creating a document that explains our principles and priorities.
b.) Create a website that would provide links to information, other gourps, and provide a way to communicate.
c.) Set a date and location for a planning meeting to build the next Comminity Assembly.
Next are a set of Educational goals that the progam committee can consider taking on.
1.) Provide an overview of what is happening nationally as a result of the great recession. Make the connections of how this is effecting the situation in the Portland metro area.
2.) Provide information on the lifes of the 99 percent in the Portland Metro Area and the lifes of the top 1 percent.
3.) Discuss how the Portland metro budget is decided on – who does it serve.
4.) Envision what a people’s budget would look like. Why a people’s budget as opposed to the budget process we have.
5.) Explain the role of mass action in fighting for a people’s budget. Some of the work that has been going on in Portland. The need to unify these efforts
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