The Department of Public Health is scheduled to close six of twelve remaining mental health clinics which serve over 5,000 residents and employ 155 workers, who are 85% Black and Latino. Close to 3,000 of those are uninsured, and another 2,000 carry Medicaid or private insurance. Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair claims the main objective is to improve mental health infrastructure city-wide. Members of the Mental Health Movement in Chicago say closing the clinics will have a devastating impact on the people that rely on them, such as forcing people to travel farther from their homes for services and being turned away for not being able to pay. The six clinics that remain open will be privatized which the coalition says will hurt the quality of treatment and jeopardize relationships that patients have established with clinics.
Residents of Logan Square, along with members of the Mental Health Movement gathered at Resurrection Church on Wednesday for a public forum highlighting the disparities in services to the Latino and Black communities. Latinos, the fastest growing minority population in the city, face barriers to services which explain why only 36% of Latinos combating depression received care in 2010 compared to 60% of Caucasians. The coalition is demanding the city’s mental health clinics be kept open, fully funded and services improved.
Former City Clerk and State Rep. Miguel Del Valle was present and asked how Mayor Emanuel could justify cutting funds for schools, libraries and now clinics. Del Valle shared the stage with residents who shared testimony of their struggles with mental health and how the clinics have helped them. Mayor Emanuel, Ald. Cardenas, Ald. Reboyras, State Senator Munoz and Ald. Moreno were all invited and didn’t attend.
Resident Debra Delgado shared her story: “My two boys were shot and killed two years ago. They had their youth cut short. I was in distress and I think I would be with them in heaven right now if it weren’t for the staff at Northwest Clinic.” Delgado relies on the services offered by Northwest Clinic in Logan Square which is scheduled to close on April 9th along with a clinic in Rogers Park. Four south-side clinics, one each in Beverly/Morgan Park, Back of the Yards, Woodlawn and Auburn Gresham are set to close April 30th, 2012.
Mayor Emanuel and the City Council don’t seem to have the interests of the city’s poor, unemployed and marginalized taxpayers at heart. Corporations and charter schools are routinely given TIF subsidies and tax breaks while basic public services such as our libraries, parks and mental health clinics are being cut. Gov. Quinn announced a $100 million tax break for three of Illinois’ richest corporations and soon after Mayor Emanuel was given authority to award no-bid contracts in relation to the upcoming NATO summit, on top of a proposed $65 million on security. Is the 99% in Chicago being ignored?
The Mental Health Movement has been organizing on this issue for more than three years. They’ve kept the pressure on Mayor Emanuel since his first day in office, delivering petitions, holding public forums and staging actions such as the sit-in last November in City Hall. The coalition is even proposing its own recommendations for raising the money needed to keep the clinics open such as a “yacht” tax which is estimated to generate up to $1.3 million in revenue.
Representatives from the Illinois Nurses Association also shared testimony at the forum. “These are not just places where people who suffer from mental illness can get counseling and treatment” said Maribel Quinones a nurse and advocate. “These are spaces where patients have a community that supports them. How can we talk about addressing violence and creating safe communities without investing in providing access to mental health services?”
“We have are the safety net for people and provide services others can’t or won’t offer to this community. We have a policy of never turning anyone away because they can’t pay. How can we make people decide between paying for therapy or groceries.” said Rose Torres, MA. “The closure of even this one clinic would represent a significant loss for the community.”
It’s estimated that closing six of the twelve mental health clinics will save $2.3 million in the city’s 2012 budget, or about $1.30/yr for each resident. The current $6.3 billion budget passed unanimously without a single dissenting vote and no public hearing on the cuts to clinics was held. Speakers at the forum made it clear that Alderman Cardenas (12th), who chairs the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection, has gone back on his promise to hold a hearing numerous times even though he has the authority and responsibility to hold a forum and give advocates a chance to make their voices heard. But they claim Ald. Cardenas has gone back on his word numerous times in order to please Mayor Emanuel. “I’ve been told by staffers in his office that it was a call from the Mayor that led to the cancellation of those hearings” said Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle.
As people left the auditorium they passed a sign that read: “How much is a human life worth?”
What is a human life worth to our city? How much of your tax dollars should go towards securing health, food and an education for everyone in Chicago? Do we have a responsibility to take care of each other, especially the sick? These are questions that every Chicagoan must grapple with. What will it take for all of us to care and get involved? Are we going to sit back quietly while Mayor Emanuel does this to our neighbors?
Southside Together Organizing for Power issued a statement on the cancellation of the G8 summit:
“The cancellation of the G8 summit comes as this city sits at a crossroads. Will we be a global city based on strong neighborhoods, robust public services, human rights and active public participation or a global city based on catering to corporations and hiding the poverty left in their wake?
“A good first step towards choosing the former path and putting people before profit would be to use a chunk of the $60-plus million raised by the city to cover the costs of the G8 summits to stop the closure of the 6 mental health clinics and the privatization of all seven of its neighborhood health centers and use the rest towards creating jobs, saving and improving schools and taking care of the people and communities that make up this city.
“STOP calls on Mayor Emanuel to immediately halt the closure of the mental health clinics and privatization of its neighborhood health centers as a first step in showcasing to the world the Chicago that the people demand and deserve. “
On the first edition of First Voice 2012 we invited Agniezka from SJP DePaul about the coming of one Dr. Norman Finkelstein – an event both momentous and controversial for the campus who denied him tenure back in 2007. Norman Finkelstein is an activist and author of several books on the Israel-Palestine conflict. His combination of moral indignation over the Palestinian cause and rigorous scholarly research has made him a target of the pro-Israel political and intellectual establishment.
As a graduate student at Princeton he exposed the 1984 book by Joan Peters From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict as nothing short of a fraud. Time Immemorial intended to destroy the moral argument for the millions of Palestinian refugees created since the creation of Jewish-settled areas in former Palestine, much to the amusement of the American intelligentsia. It claimed that almost no Palestinians existed in the region at the time of Israel’s establishment as a state in 1948. Peters’ work was lauded by the intellectual community and the praise continued for many months-exposing the books as a fraud became the thesis for Finkelstein’s doctorate at Princeton. Finkelstein’s research was ignored in America. It wasn’t until Time Immemorial would be published in England that mentor and ally Noam Chomsky sent copies of Finkelstein’s research to the British intelligentsia. By the time the book was released “every major journal, the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review, the Observer, everybody had a review saying, this doesn’t even reach the level of nonsense, of idiocy”, Chomsky said. In due time the exposed truth came back to America, much to the dismay of the periodicals, the journals, and virtually every reviewer of the book that had praised it as “groundbreaking.” Not only did Finkelstein succeed in discrediting Time Immemorial as a hoax: he had also exposed the “American intellectual community as a gang of frauds” as Chomsky had foreseen.
Dr. Finkelstein’s work has been vetted as highly analytical and rigorous in research. Dr. Finkelstein himself has been denounced as an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier, despite his Jewish ethnicity and direct wounds to the Nazi killing machine: the Fascist regime murdered his grandparents. DePaul’s decision was marred with controversy- sit-ins, hunger strikes; Professional and collegiate outrage. Noam Chomsky’s warning was still ringing true: “[if you] expose the American intellectual community as a gang of frauds [...] they are not going to like it, and they’re going to destroy you.”
This year the Israeli occupation of Palestine enters its 64th year amidst an increasingly global consensus on the right of Palestine to exist as an independent and sovereign state that would include the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza along the borders of the 1967 Six Day War.
In September of 2011 the Palestinian Authority-the governmental representation of the Palestinian people- formally launched its bid for statehood at the United Nations, the culmination of a diplomatic strategy taken by Palestine to ask individual countries to recognize it as a state. The US and Israel condemned Palestine’s actions as destructive to the diplomatic peace process and the US promised to wield its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Counsel against Palestinian statehood.
In October, 2011 UNESCO- the United Nation’s cultural organization- going against opposition from the US and Israel- symbolically voted to grant membership to Palestine. Immediately, the US cancelled a $60 million payment to the organization. Months prior, in February of 2011, the U.S. vetoed a Security Council measure that reiterated the illegality of Israeli settlement expansion into the West Bank. The settlements in the West Bank, considered illegal under international law, reached a record number in 2011.
In December 2008, January 2009 Israel launched a vicious attack on Gaza-Operation Cast Lead- which ultimately killed some 1,300 people and left more than 5,000 injured. The U.S. not only supported this military excursion but went as far as halting efforts at the U.N. Security Council for a ceasefire to the brutal venture which saw the use of white phosphorous and Dense Inert Metal Explosives on scores of Palestinians in Gaza. The attack came as the Israeli blockade of Gaza reached its 18th month.
A call to recognize the U.S. backed occupation of Palestine and the countless human rights abuses by Israel will continue to gain traction outside the American Academia and its conspiring journals and think-tanks as will the “overwhelming international consensus” on Palestine’s right to exist.
Listen to our conversation with Roger Ball from the Bristol Radical History Group as we talk about the importance of connecting radical history to contemporary struggles. BRHG stresses the need to look at history as a constantly evolving collective narrative, and suggests methods for demystifying history s through a dialectical materialist critique.
Tune in for a conversation on #OccupyWallStreet, “football” with the Zapatistas in 1999, the London Riots, England’s General Strike, and in Ball’s perspective, the need to energize and agitate all social groups not enumerated by society with a wage, not just traditional workers in the struggle against capitalism.
On December 12th, 2011 we spoke to Jorge Ortiz, activist for Communities United Against Foreclosures and Evictions, a grassroots organization embracing a variety of tactics in the struggle for universal housing. CUAFE is dedicated to doing everything it can to legally save the homes for people who are facing foreclosure, yet it also embraces direct-action in order to “take back the land.”
Jorge Ortiz goes into tactics, both legal and not so legal, (like turning the “criminal” occupation of an abandoned home into a “civil” case), squatter’s rights, and much more practical know-how for the aspiring home occupier.
If you or a loved one is facing foreclosure, looking for a home to occupy, or just want to know, tune in here to learn more about CUAFE and their tactics, and how you can get involved in the “struggle for community control of resources.”
Giovany also mentions the response to President Obama’s recent announcement on a small shift in his policy on Immigration.Co-Founder of Presente.org Roberto Lovato wrote his own response in the Huffington Post:
In response to the unprecedented actions of immigrant rights groups in cities across the country, officials in the Obama Administration announced changes to administrative policies that will give 300,000 people currently in deportation proceedings the right to a hearing before an immigration judge. Nothing more. More than a few of the 300,000 will likely still be ordered deported by judges known by immigration lawyers to consistently deny immigrant pleas for justice.
“Remember the Fifth of November” may only be known from the film “V For Vendetta” or as Guy Fawkes’ Day, but now its part of a global action that requires your steadfast courage and calls for bravery under pressure. Though its best you don’t wear a mask doing it!
Are you angry at the way your bank has been treating you even after being a great customer for so long? Perhaps you’re in foreclosure proceedings and can’t find a bank to work with you. Well you should take part in Bank Transfer Day which is November 5th worldwide. Organizers are calling on people to have moved their money by Nov 5th from “big banks” to community development banks or credit unions. Here in Chicago there are over 70 credit unions including the Northside Community Federal CU, the South Side Community Federal CU, and Access CU which covers greater Chicagoland and the Southwest side. Remember that if it just a community bank it can still be bought up by bigger banks.
The site FearlessRevolution reminds everyone that “since November 5 is a Saturday, you should definitely do it before November 5 since many big banks aren’t open on weekends.” The site also offers an in-depth guide to what to do after moving your money, including Step 2:
2. If the bank employee asks why you are closing your account, decide in advance the reason you’re going to provide. You can tell them you’re unhappy with big banks or that you’re a part of the 99%. Or you can decline to give them a reason. The important thing is to remain focused and accomplish your goal of closing your deposit accounts and walking out of the big bank branch with your money.
Bank Transfer Day is significant because it targets one of the many culprits of the financial crisis. Banks will feel the pinch of this collective action since they rely on y(our) deposit account balances to have the capital to make loans which in turn reap big profits. Why target the banks? These banks continue to give their executives bonuses even after receiving tax dollars in the TARP bailouts. AlterNet posted this article offering the “5 Reasons You Should Move Your Money from Bank of America.” Senator Durbin of Illinois even crafted legislation to limit how much money banks can collect from card fees.
The lobbying done by Banks, Wall Street firms and the Chamber of Commerce on behalf of corporations and special interest groups has led to destruction of strong legislation that protects consumers and the environment. And they show no signs of relinquishing their stranglehold on politics through campaign contributions as New York Times reports:
“Since this spring, Mr. Romney has raised $1.5 million from employees of firms like Morgan Stanley; Highbridge Capital Management, a hedge fund; and Blackstone, a private equity firm. Mr. Obama has raised just over $270,000 from firms that were among his leading sources of campaign cash in 2008. “
College students have organized “College Bank Transfer Day” and demanded that universities close their corporate bank accounts and move to community development banking and investing. Universities control about $350 billion in endowments and almost $100 billion in annual spending according to the Responsible Endowment Coalition.
This Huffington Post article tells the story of the Move Your Money Project which has over 41,000 “likes” on Facebook. The project calls for ending the too big to fail model of banking, fewer fees – more savings for customers, investing in main street, supporting local business and building the local economy. The campaign claims that since it launched in 2010 it has spurred over 10 million people into moving their money to community banks and/or credit unions, according to Moebs Services. Here in Illinois, Representative Jan Schakowski (D-Ill.) talked to MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan about why she moved her money from Bank of America to her local Devon Bank: “Individuals can do something about it. We don’t have to live with these abusers.”
You can watch the “MoveYourMoney” video below which puts the story into perspective by remixing an old cinema classic.
Whats the Alternative?
The alternative to banking with “Too Big to Fail” banks, such as Chase and Bank of America, is moving to a community bank or a credit union. Credit unions are non-profit and claim to exist in order “to help people, not to make a profit.” You can find a credit union near you wherever you are in the United States. Information is also available en espanol. Here are some basic facts about Credit Unions to get you started.
A credit union is a not-for-profit, democratic, member-owned cooperative which anyone can join. You become a member and co-owner of the credit union when you make a deposit.
Provide the same products and services—including surcharge-free ATMs, online financial services, and free savings and checking accounts—as other financial institutions
Return their profits to their credit union members by providing better services, better rates, lower fees and special discounts
Follow conservative investment practices and lend responsibly
You can move your IRA or CD from your bank to a credit union (be sure to check your bank’s policy to see what fees are tied to that action)
Credit Union deposits are not federally insured by the FDIC but rather are insured for up to $250,000 by the Natl Credit Union Administration. Suze Orman, financial educator, explains the similarities between NCUA and FDIC protection. “They’re virtually identical. NCUA protects the money you have in a credit union account up to $250,000, same as FDIC protects money in a bank account.”
“The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back”
It’s not just individuals who are moving their money; its city and county governments, and large organizations with big bank accounts. In San Jose, Father Samaniego announced that the East Side parish would be moving its $3 million account with Bank of America, where the church has done business for at least 20 years, to a community credit union. Some held posters that read “Keep Families In Their Homes” or “Stop Corporate Greed,” and several closed their own personal bank accounts.
Nationwide, groups such as the Public Banking Institute and the New Economy Working Group are working with State representatives to consider what it would mean to create a state-owned bank. The many benefits of a state-owned bank include access to credit and generation of revenue. Currently, North Dakota is the only state in the union to operate such an institution which it established in 1919 and is reaping the rewards for it. This would be refreshing news to communities fearing the cuts to social services in their respective state budgets. More info on the Illinois Budget crisis can be found here.
So now what?
Ok just to recap. Big banks were largely responsible for the economic crisis and continue to perpetuate the destructive practices that were motivated by greed. Credit Unions and Community Development banks have a stake in community and are tied to the local economy. Begin the steps of researching a credit union that you found near you. Call them up and tell them you want to transfer to them and they will guide you. Go back to your big bank and talk to a banker (optional) about how to transfer smoothly and if there are any fees or penalties. Transfer over and become an active member in building the new economy and telling others what you did.
While it is not tied to the Occupy Wall Street movement there is plenty of enthusiasm and support from people who see this as a great nationwide call to action – especially for people who can’t get arrested or don’t want, or want to participate in other ways besides what they find at their respective #occupy sites. If you do decide to take the step of moving your money please tell me about it by email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to tell your old bank why you left!
Note: YesMagazine! offers a look at how smaller community banks can insulate themselves against the larger economic crisis while still being able to lend to customers.
www.substancenews.net - Lamme at an IL Teachers Convention
Bill Lamme discovered his passion for social and economic justice through, among other factors, the conviction and aspirations of a Saul Alinksy-inspired minister at his church in Dayton, Ohio where he grew up. The chaos of economic convention and rise of revolutionary social movements was prevalent in conversations during his youth. Through frequent trips he took with his church to economically ravaged cities such as Buffalo, NY where the decline of the steel industry led to massive unemployment and deconstruction of community infrastructure he met other student organizations including a group from the Bronx. Lamme jokes about the sense of joy and shock he got meeting his “first Puerto Rican friends…not many in Dayton!”
Finding himself unsatisfied in a job as an industry electrician, Bill Lamme sought new horizons and settled into a teaching position at Kelly High School in Chicago’s Southwest side, only 3 miles from his home.
In 2003 a student approached Lamme and formed a student social justice club that would organize around the issue of military recruitment. Through the process of supporting the formation of the club he understood the importance of student-leadership and saw the potential for organizing and movement building among students. Over the course of several years Lamme and his students led counter recruitment projects such as movie screenings, scholarship info sessions and alternative career fairs. “This work was part of a city-wide and national campaign but the organizing done by students at Kelly in particular gave us joy because it resulted in Kelly High School having the highest number of students ‘opting out’ in the entire city of Chicago”, stated Jesus Palafox, researcher and organizer with American Friends Service Committee, which supported the project. “We committed ourselves to protecting students from the deceptive practices of military recruiters” Lamme proudly stated, “and we knew that providing alternatives to a military career was just as vital as providing information and one-on-one conversations.”
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Since 2006 Lamme, along with teachers and students at Julian and Social Justice High School, has helped to organize delegations to New Orleans, Louisiana. The group (which goes through disaster relief training beforehand) participates in reconstruction efforts, basic rehab projects and even pairs students with New Orleans youth who ask for tutoring in different subjects. “Students have shared with me their emotional stories about how their paths in life had changed because of the experience in this delegation” Lamme stated while sharing that over 200 students have participated in the trip.
Kelly students began organizing around the issue of Fair Trade as an alternative to aid, and Fair Trade as a tool to end poverty and restore local economies in communities “left out in the cold during the race to the top” said Lamme. “We would have movie screenings where the students would see the sweatshops and plantations where our goods came from. They were disgusted and angry and they led projects to raise awareness about these injustice. Students worked to expose the harsh labor practices by World’s Finest Chocolate which was popular among youth” Lamme explained. In May of 2011 the Social Justice Club organized a Fair Trade Fashion show with clothes donated by Chicago-based Mata Traders. “We wanted to show our peers that we could still express ourselves and wear beautiful clothes without exploiting children and women who dominated the assembly lines at sweatshops in films like Made in L.A” said Maggie Fang, a former student at Kelly and member of the Social Justice Club. Roy Moran, also a member of the club, stated “we felt that it was important to help our families understand that they had rights, as consumers, to know where their products came from. That knowledge gives consumers the power to affect the conditions of workers producing our goods. Its personal. We are not separate from the producer and their families in China.”
Bill Lamme will receive the Changemaker Award at Globalfest: Latin America (the annual benefit for Chicago Fair Trade).
Full Disclosure: The author is also the education organizer for Chicago Fair Trade. An extended version of this piece will appear at www.extranews.net
Occupy Chicago began its occupation on September 23rd, 2011 at Jackson and LaSalle in the heart of the financial district. There was tension with Chicago Police almost instantly but there were eventually some concessions given to the group such as more parking space and no nightsticks busting heads! Since then it has been a kind of chess match between the occupiers and the police.
Members of Occupy Chicago decided to post an open letter to CPD thanking them for certain concessions and embracing Chicago Police as being part of the 99%. This sparked a debate within the OccupyChicago camp and attracted responses nationally especially since the police in other cities have been extremely violent. This is a conversation between First Voice co-producer Ze Garcia and “Sam” who wrote a response to the open letter first on the Anarchist News site.
You can go to the Occupy Chicago website for more information. And stay tuned to our site for continuing coverage.Thanks You can read the letter and the comments here. This is the statement from “Sam” below:
“We demand an end to the economic system based on exploitation, subjugation, alienation, & domination. Capitalism. To be more precise; an end to the corporate state nexus because the market has never been free; it is subsidized and manipulated by the instruments of the state.” -A person choosing to remain anonymous as part of #OccupyChicago
#OccupyChicago enters day 4 emulating the thousands in NYC protesting a ‘failed’ economic system as part of the movement #OccupyWallStreet. #OccupyChicago started on Friday September, 23 with some 50 protesters taking a stand outside the Federal Reserve, adjacent to the Chicago Board of Trade on Jackson and Van Buren in Downtown Chicago. By nightfall some 7 people made the decision to camp outside, in solidarity with #OccupyWallStreet and the masses worldwide rising up to reclaim an oft distorted word, democracy.
#OccupyChicago purposely resists party-politics and ideology. It emphatically rejects a concept of leadership. Although some individuals insist “proper revolutionary leadership” is essential if the movement is to succeed, the dynamic of this culture has united under the mantra of “fighting against corporate abuse of democracy in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world.”
Even as the NYPD brutalized peaceful dissent on the streets of New York- unequivocally proven by dozens of viral YouTube videos and first-hand testimonies- resulting in some 80 arrests #OccupyWallStreet seems undismayed, calling Sunday a day of healing, discussion and preparation. It is now entering its 11th day with many more #occupy movements spreading nation-wide: #OccupyLA, #OccupyFlorida, #OccupyMinneapolis, #OccupyDenver, #OccupyDC among many others which you can keep track of at Occupy Together. There is strength in numbers but as we have seen in New York City thousands of relentless occupiers have incited those who protect & serve to live up to their institutional duty of protecting the interests of the opulent minority from the rising tide of a majority thirsty for inclusion.
Opening the floodgates of #occupation was the Arab Spring, thereafter spreading to Spain, Israel, Chile, and now-finally-the impetus of anger and frustration has spilled out to these American streets. Yet a movement cannot consolidate on anger alone- the creative solutions for this social project we aspire to- government by the people- can only be fed by the presence, conversations, and solutions proposed by a popular culture of resistance which today reject the ‘corporate-state nexus’ in favor of participation in social and economic policy.
#OccupyChicago is acquiring more of a structure with General Assemblies planned for 10am 3pm and 10pm with “culture and recreation” taking place at Millenium Park at 7pm. Today’s 3PM General Assembly discussed the growing relevance and importance of committees based on talent, passion, and interest. If you would like to organize in the Media committee-I would, let’s talk- you should hit us up here at First Voice. My e-mail is email@example.com and I would love to hear from you.