ORGANIZING NOTES

March 5, 2024

        When We Organize We Win

Join Community and Labor struggles that make a difference

 

 

Building an activist Party

Mass Dems Leadership Rejects Member Input

 

For many years Democratic activists and issue based organizations have used the ability to submit and pass resolutions at the Democratic State Convention as a key organizing tool to advance progressive policies, and press for changes in party focus and activities. 

 

The 2023 Democratic State Convention was no exception, ORMA and others met the signature requirements to bring 8 resolutions to the floor of the convention. But the 2023 rules were different. Resolutions were no longer a standing agenda item, and required a vote to suspend the rules, to be heard. Coming at the end of a long day of speeches, tired delegates were already headed for home or leaving the hall for Gov. Healey’s party. Delegates never got to hear the resolutions, let alone consider their value.

 

ORMA members on the Democratic State Committee continued to fight for these issues. In November successfully bringing 3 resolutions calling for action to support Single Payer Healthcare, Hybrid Conventions Options, and support for audits of the legislature, to the state committee where they were approved unanimously. 

BUT, during the January state committee meeting, the chairman was asked: “Will there be a virtual option for participation in the 2024 convention?” The response was a simple “No,” without explanation and without acknowledging the previous unanimous vote of the state committee.  State committee members report being stunned by this, having heard of no discussions by party leadership or any sub-committee relating to this question or to the process for implementing the resolution. In subsequent email exchanges, resolution supporters have been told by the chair that “…resolutions are always non-binding.” 

Chairman Kerrigan’s comments reflect a deeper and more unsettling reality. It appears that Chair Kerrigan believes he can simply choose to ignore resolutions as he sees fit. 

Certainly the party can, following debate and careful assessment of the issue, decide to reconsider a resolution and modify its content. But there is no evidence that this is what took place. There is no evidence that there were any discussions within the Executive committee, the Site Committee, the Disability Committee, or the Resolutions Committee to assess the feasibility of implementing the resolution on a virtual convention (or those calling for actions in support of single payer healthcare or unionization efforts for state house staff.)

ORMA’s “DemTransform” working group is in discussion about how to respond to these developments, and is considering a number of options, including holding a parallel “shadow” convention this year. If you are interested in learning more about our ongoing efforts please contact us at info@ourrevolutionma.com

The DemTransform Working Group

 

– By Michael Kane

Michael is the Director of the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants (MAHT) and Coordinator of the nationwide Leaders and Organizers for Tenant Empowerment (LOFTE) Network.

Connolly’s H3873 Would Build Social Housing Outside the Market
ORMA has an exciting opportunity to advance ‘social housing’ outside of the market, by
helping to pass H. 3873, An Act Establishing a Social Housing Fund, filed by Rep. Mike
Connolly. Governor Healey has indicated support and plans to commit a substantial
part of the $275 million Green and Sustainable Housing Initiative in the $4 billion
Housing Bill filed in January to launch a revolving Social Housing Fund.
On March 4, the Governor’s bond bill received a favorable report from the Joint
Committee on Housing and now goes to the Bond Committee. ORMA members can
weigh in to urge legislators to pass the Governor’s bill with its proposed Social Housing
pilot language to build momentum.
The Social Housing Production Fund would offer financial assistance to local or
regional housing authorities to develop mixed income “social housing” that would
remain in permanent public ownership, outside the ‘market’. Funds would be used
primarily for debt service to reduce capital costs, as an explicit alternative to the federal
Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).
Besides social financing, the bill promotes social ownership models “outside” the
market. The bill allows MassHousing , the state’s housing finance agency, to enter into
partnerships with other government agencies; nonprofit organizations (such as CDC’s);
or Community Land Trusts.
Alternative to Tax Credits. Since 1986, LIHTC has been the primary program for new
“affordable” housing nationwide. LIHTC targets moderate income, not low income
renters, and relies on private corporate investors who build equity through tax breaks
and can eventually convert to higher market rents.
Unlike LIHTC, H3873 Social Housing would be rent-restricted for at least 99 years, and
regulated by the state. It would treat housing as a basic human right and insulate it
from the cycle of endless speculation which the LIHTC and earlier models of privately-
owned, subsidized multifamily housing promote.
Who would benefit? Connolly’s bill would require new mixed income housing to
provide a minimum of either 20% of apartments affordable for tenants who earn 50% of
the Area Median Income (AMI), or 40% for tenants earning 60% of the AMI—similar to
LIHTC, but restricted permanently. “Market” renters or owners would “cross subsidize”
lower income residents in mixed-income, Social Housing communities.
In recent years, Vienna, Austria—where 2/3 of all rental housing is either public or
socially owned—has adopted a similar model for new housing. Locally, in the 1980s,
Tent City in Boston’s South End and several Urban Renewal parcels adopted a similar
1/3 low, 1/3 moderate, 1/3 market formula.

To better achieve affordability, especially for families earning less than 30% of the Area
Median Income, H 3873 and the Governor’s bill would need to be paired with low or no
cost public land, capital grants and loans, and most importantly, operating subsidies to
lower rents—such as the State’s Mass Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) or federal
Section 8 subsidies.
H 3873 is an exciting, essential measure to advance Social Housing in Massachusetts.
ORMA should elevate this vision in state policy debates in the months ahead. If Vienna
and US localities such as Montgomery County, Maryland, can do this, why can’t we?

 

Coming Soon To An Election Near You

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) provides millions of dollars to Democratic and Republican candidates who demonstrate their support for Israel.   For instance, within weeks of guiding a bill providing $14 billion in aid to Israel through the House, Speaker and MAGA Republican Mike Johnson got $95,000 for his personal campaign fund.   Johnson is just one of dozens of Trump-supporting Congressmen that AIPAC aids. 

AIPAC, and its associated PACs, provide bipartisan support.  It spent $4 million to defeat Michigan Congressman Andy Levin in a primary (McGreal, Chris (August 4, 2022). “Pro-Israel groups denounced after pouring funds into primary race”. The Guardian.).  Its affiliated Super PAC DMFI bought $2 million worth of ads to defeat Nina Turner.  It opposes members of the Squad and is threatening to back a candidate against Ayanna Pressley this year.  In Massachusetts, the two biggest recipients of AIPAC money this year are Jake Auchincloss ($205,000) and Katherine Clark ($120,100).

AIPAC’s overriding goal is to build a bipartisan caucus of pro-Israeli legislators that rests on a foundation of organizers spread over the entire country.  It spends tens of millions to defeat progressives to achieve this aim. AIPAC wants as many Democrats as possible to be in their camp and they want no opposition within the Party. But the Democratic Party is an informal working coalition of progressives and liberals (or neoliberals, or conservatives). That creates a contradiction: because some Democrats depend on the support of a group that aims to destroy the Party.

The best way to minimize AIPAC’s threat to the Party is for Democratic legislators and candidates to pledge to refuse money from AIPAC.  Certainly, the leader of the House Democrats, Katherine Clark, must set an example and be the first to take the pledge.

Wikipedia on AIPAC.
AIPAC money for Johnson
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by Stephen Walt and John J. Mearsheimer.

 

Please join MA One Fair Wage for a press event and hearing on Tuesday, March 12. The press event will start at 9am at the State House steps on Beacon St, and the hearing will start at 10am in Room A-2 in the MA State House.

Join others with Progressive MASS to take action with our partner organizations to protect democracy and promote civic engagement, in the company of your friends and neighbors. You will write postcards, make phone calls, and take other actions on a range of issues ranging from voter registration, voter turnout, and progressive state policy.

                 SIGN UP HERE

We demand a ceasefire for Gaza, with no more assault on Rafah, a complete halt to U.S. military aid and weapons for Israel, and a resumption of U.S. funding for the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency! 

 

Share Your Massachusetts Minimum Wage Story

Do you have a story to share? Click here to tell RUM your minimum wage story!

In 2024, Raise Up Massachusetts is working to raise the state’s minimum wage from $15 to $20 an hour, adjust it to keep up with the rising cost of living in the future, and ensure that municipal workers are covered by the minimum wage. RUM is collecting stories and testimony in support of raising the minimum wage from workers and impacted individuals across the state and will share with legislators and the public.  

 

 

Email your Senator in

Support of the Sunlight Act!

Sponsored by transparency champion Senator Jamie Eldridge, this comprehensive legislation includes several transparency reforms, including requiring all recorded committee votes to be posted on the Legislature’s website, requiring that committee hearings be scheduled at least a week in advance, making written testimony submitted to committees publicly available, and subjecting the Governor’s Office to the state’s public records law. The bill has received a favorable report from the Rules Committee, and now sits in Senate Ways & Means – the last hurdle before it can be brought to a vote and passed

 

Mark March 23 on your calendar! The Trans Youth Summit is a FREE event for youth and young adults (25 and under) who are transgender, nonbinary, and/or gender expansive, featuring workshops, dialogues, a keynote speaker, and free gender-affirming gear. This year’s summit will be held at Heath Elementary School in Brookline and will offer a separate track for parents, guardians, and caregivers of transgender youth to provide support, information, resources, and networking.

Check out the FAQs sheet and website. Still have questions? Contact Ben Sullivan at bsullivan@bagly.org.
Trans Youth Summit 2024

 

Victory! Starbucks Stops Opposing It’s Baristas’ Union

In a historic breakthrough, Starbucks and its workers announce they’ve come together. In a joint announcement Starbucks and Workers United agreed “to begin discussions on a foundational framework designed to achieve…collective bargaining agreements.”   Continue Reading…

 

      If you would like to work with ORMA Members on

  • Climate Change
  • Community-Based Alternative Emergency Response Teams
  • Ranked-Choice Voting
  • Housing For All       

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Please send requests for action items, articles or upcoming events

for the next Organizing Notes to 

beccobrien.orma@gmail.com by Thursday, March 14th

We’d love to have you send us your favorite pictures of Bernie here in MA!

 

Campaigns End, Movements Endure


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