ORMA Newsletter July 2019
Inside this Issue: ORMA Priorities and News | Affiliates | Ways to Get Involved in the Revolution
ORMA Representative Council and Invited Guests Met to Discuss Updates and Moving Forward on ORMA’s Five Priorities
July 13, 2019
Welcome to the revamped Our Revolution Massachusetts Newsletter! We are aiming to send out a monthly newsletter to share information about what is happening in ORMA oriented news around our state and also sprinkled in are some updates on Our Revolution national news. Please send us information about your local ORMA group activities that you would like to see here in our next newsletter!
Our featured story for this month focuses on the May 25 2019 meeting of ORMA’s elected Representative Council in Somerville where the question of how ORMA’s five priorities are progressing around Massachusetts was addressed. As many of you know ORMA has five priorities which were agreed on via a democratic process by ORMA’s affiliates and membership across the Commonwealth this past spring. These priorities are bold progressive goals which will further advance Massachusetts as a dynamic state working to improve the lives of all its citizens. The priorities are: Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, Money Out of Politics, Affordable Housing, and Voting Reform.
At the May 25 meeting of the Representative Council there was an engaging discussion with the members from ORMA’s affiliates and caucuses who discussed their local initiatives with the members of the Representative Council. Invited guests from around the state were asked to report on their political work aimed at moving forward on the five priorities. Each guest was each asked to describe particular struggles that they were experiencing in their political organizing as well.
The meeting showcased many actions being taken across the state, especially on Medicare for All (M4A). For instance, OR Arlington is preparing for a future public forum on Medicare for All. OR Greater Fall River has been lobbying its Congressional Rep.; OR Chicopee conducted a speak out, and has lobbied Congressional Rep. Richard Neal about the issue. Furthermore, Chicopee helped persuade the City Democrats to support M4A and is now working on the city of Holyoke. ORMA affiliate MetroWest has had a long-standing joint effort with Progressive Dems on M4A, yet have found the local Democratic party establishment to be a significant barrier on this issue. OR Franklin County has worked on M4A for some time and have developed a useful approach whereby they currently work with local towns to show the savings that would result locally if M4A were adopted. Franklin County has agreed to share this tool with other affiliates if they are interested. An informative discussion was held by guests from national oriented Healthcare for ALL regarding the MA Democratic Congressional Delegation. Two-thirds of Democrats holding national office support M4A and six of the nine Massachusetts congresspeople support it with Reps. Lynch, Moulton, and Neal being the hold-outs. Clearly, winning local support is key and the Franklin County economic impact approach has proven successful. Non-binding polls also were reported to work. MassCare can provide access to additional organizing resources for interested affiliates.
Some traction has sprung up around the Green New Deal (GND). MetroWest – took the lead in persuading local government bodies and Democratic Party organizations to support GND, and organized turnout for a Sunrise Dorchester event. Local issues are also important. For example a battle over artificial turf on public land in Wayland is underway. Opposition stopped installation on one site and now a fight over a second site is pending. OR Weymouth reported that there is a town-wide debate over the installation of a natural gas compressor station. OR in Somerville climate change issues are tied in with all struggles on economic development, as a local OR-Somerville goal is to be Net-Zero. OR Cambridge reported that the City Council recently supported Green New Deal unanimously. Yet frequent struggles remain regarding actions to prevent or mitigate environmental consequences of climate change and to move the city of Cambridge to 100% renewable energy. In Arlington GND supporters are well represented on the town committee now. OR helped organize forums that attracted over 200 people. In Randolph environmental justice concerns have arisen over issues regarding trash disposal and a superfund site. On Cape Cod, GND is a priority issue with organizing for supportive resolutions and Orleans is already on board. Decommissioning of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is a big issue there as well. OR Concord reported that the town has supported a GND resolution and OR conducted a Sunrise Town Hall with US Rep. Congresswoman Trahan. OR Concord is moving towards fully renewable energy use. OR Greater Fall River supports GND and is working toward a carbon tax.
Money out of Politics was a less active issue statewide, at least according to the May 25 meeting affiliate reports. Guests from We The People – Leo Immonen and Jeff Williams, who are Allied with Wolf-PAC – presented on the issue. They focused on support in Congress; they noted that history tells us that constitutional amendments are typically pushed by congressional action, not state legislative action. They are currently gathering names of supporters to push US Senators Warren and Markey on the issue. Eight of nine MA Congresspeople support it, with Rep. Neal the lone holdout. MA bills in the House and Senate will get hearings (S2163 and H3208) in the fall, stay tuned. As far as ORMA affiliates are concerned, in Weymouth all OR members are now also We the People members. OR Randolph has been lobbying Warren and Markey to sign on at the national level. OR Franklin County reported that this is a local issue for them too. Chicopee is planning on working with Congressional District 1 Progressives on this. OR MetroWest is collecting signatures. OR Cambridge reported that this certainly is an issue given the influence of developers money in the city. ORMA’s Youth Caucus is currently collecting signatures on the issue.
Affordable Housing and housing displacement proved to be problems facing many communities across the state. High costs of housing, lack of affordable housing options, high property values and taxes, limited public transportation connecting housing with job sites, and large developers displacing lower income people, especially people of color, were mentioned as problems currently occurring from Greenfield in the west to the Greater Boston area in the east. Also homelessness is an issue for many areas, especially where affordable/transitional housing is lacking, leaving many to take to the streets. Multiple approaches, especially local ones, were mentioned as ways to address the issue including treating housing as a human right (currently it is an economic right codified in the UN’s human rights treaty ICESCR, although the USA has yet to sign the treaty), tenant protection via House Docket 1100 that supports numerous local housing options including ending the ban on local rent control; a condo conversion bill; and a limit to the “optional” costs a landlord can impose on a tenant. Finally, what has been called the Baker affordable housing bill was discussed as not a strong solution to the problem.
Voting Reform is being pursued a bit less than the other priorities, at least as represented at the May 25 meeting, but there are some developments, such as OR MetroWest reporting that the local Democratic Party is pushing voter registration, particularly among young people, as voter access is an issue of concern for many. OR Concord supports Ranked Choice Voting. Chicopee is currently doing educational outreach, and lastly ORMA Youth Caucus noted that voter registration will be a priority for young people.
Overall, it is clear that actions of various kinds are being taken on ORMA’s priorities across the state, yet much more needs to be done to fight for them! Large and small approaches are needed across the Commonwealth and we need YOU to be involved in whatever ways you can! Find a local affiliate to be engaged with, create your own affiliate if one is lacking in your area, or volunteer!
Inspiring quote of the month: “Our political system is: BROKEN. Our economic system is: RIGGED. What’s the solution? OUR REVOLUTION!” – Rand Wilson, OR Somerville, Union Organizer
ORMA Priorities and News
ORMA Priorities Being Updated and published to Website soon!
The details of ORMA’s priorities will be added to the ORMA website soon! The five priorities selected for statewide focus are: Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, Money Out of Politics, Affordable Housing, and Voting Reform. Stay tuned, stay involved, and stay motivated to fight for our progressive priorities across the state!
UPDATE: ORMA Supported Striking Stop & Shop Workers
After weeks and weeks of negotiation efforts, Stop and Shop workers in MA, CT, and RI walked out at 1:00pm April 11 to protest a contract offer that reduced health insurance benefits, cut vacation time, and replaced raises with bonuses. This is the first time the workers in this company have gone on strike since 1989.
Stop & Shop is one of the last unionized large grocery chains in the country and is owned by a billion dollar profit Dutch company. The company hoped to keep business as usual, but the union asked that we, the shopping public, #StopDontShop and honor their picket line by shopping elsewhere. Many did. The strike ended after 11 days with workers getting their demands met with better pay and healthcare coverage.
– Our Revolution Massachusetts.
ORMA Alums Help Build the Progressive Bench Across the State
Excerpt from Politico: PROGRESSIVES BUILD THEIR BENCH — A network of Democratic activists are building a coalition to recruit like-minded candidates to run for local, state and federal office and change what they call the “broken culture” on Beacon Hill.
Progressive Lab aims to assemble a roster of progressive candidates at the local level, and they plan to target key players in the legislature, too. The activists say they are frustrated with the way some planks of the state Democratic Party platform are handled. They are pushing for more action on issues including education funding, immigration reform, abortion access and transparency in the legislative process.
Progressive Lab includes volunteers from the 2018 campaigns of Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins and state Rep. Nika Elugardo, among others. Some members of the Progressive Lab group belong to the Democratic Socialists of America, and others are from Our Revolution Massachusetts.
National Our Revolution News of Note
In early June, Our Revolution groups in Illinois joined forces to take direct action at the Rock Island, IL district office of Rep. Cheri Bustos – Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – to demand that she end the DCCC Blacklist immediately!
We called on her to rescind this undemocratic policy because it rigs Democratic primaries to favor incumbents over progressive challengers who support Medicare for All and the other issues that fuel Our Revolution.
This escalation by Our Revolution comes after Rep. Bustos backed out of a follow-up meeting she promised to setup with DCCC officials when we delivered 40,000 of our #EndtheBlacklist petitions directly to her during an April meeting in Chicago.
Our Revolution is going to keep applying the pressure on Rep. Bustos – the stakes are too high to let her backout of her commitment to review this anti-progressive policy!
Our Revolution Massachusetts saw this story as linking quite nicely with the action taken by OR Cambridge on this issue as well. See the story about OR Cambridge in the affiliates section below.
Interested in joining Our Revolution Massachusetts? Find a group near you on the Affiliate page located on our website! OR Greater Fall River featured in the photo above. Affiliates please submit your photos to the newsletter editors if you want your photos to be in future newsletters.
Cambridge ORMA News About a Vote on Democratic Congressional Caucus Committee
Cambridge Democrats, including several OR-Cambridge members, voted overwhelmingly in June to support a resolution criticizing the Democratic Congressional Caucus Committee (DCCC) for sanctioning primary challengers to Democratic members of Congress.
Earlier this year, the DCCC decided that it would forbid members from hiring any campaign manager, publicist, or other professional who had ever worked in the campaign of a primary challenger. This action was seen by many, including present incumbents Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Octavio-Cortez, as a mechanism to prevent challenges. The resolution notes that this will serve to preserve the current overwhelmingly white, male, straight composition of Congress.
The resolution states:
WHEREAS primary candidates often reflect new and under-represented voters in our evolving electorate, including young voters, women and men of color, LGBTQ+, and recent immigrants who are critical to the long-term health and growth of the Democratic party; and
WHEREAS we affirm the value that primary challengers bring to public discourse during elections and new perspectives in representing our communities; and
WHEREAS we must welcome these important new voices so that the Democratic Party may encourage all who want to participate and connect with voters; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Cambridge Democratic City Committee calls upon the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to reverse the direct sanctioning of consultants who work with primary challengers and thus the indirect sanctioning of these challengers; and be it further
RESOLVED, that we urge the Massachusetts Democratic Party to adopt a similar resolution at the 2019 State Convention.
The resolution received a strong majority of Cambridge Democratic Party support despite the explicit opposition of member James Roosevelt. He is the co-chair of the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee, a position he has held since 1995. Roosevelt argued that the DCCC decision was not a Party decision, but that of a committee of incumbents and therefore it should not be opposed. In response, it was stated that the DCCC was intervening in primary contests in a manner that resembled that of top-down parties.
Cambridge-OR members hope that other ward and town committees will support the resolution and carry it successfully through the September Democratic Party State Convention.
Franklin County ORMA puts on a “Municipal Socialism” Conference
About 120 people attended the March 30 conference on “Municipal Socialism” organized by Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR) in Western MA. The goal of the conference was to inspire and train activists and local leaders to retain and increase control over municipal services leading to increased democratic participation, new governmental options, while curbing the tendency to privatize services. FCCPR wants communities to develop the municipal capacity to address local issues without using private corporations to provide these services.
Workshops addressed Rural Broadband, Public Banking, Solar Power, Hydro Power, Public vs Corporate Education, and Worker-Owned Coops (another model that removes control from corporate entities, and minimizes the profit motive as the driving force behind decisions). But by far the most popular, standing-room-only, workshop was the one on Housing. It featured speakers from Habitat for Humanity, a local member-owned trailer park, and a local land trust. Discussion went beyond how to provide more affordable housing to different forms of cooperative and public ownership. It seems likely that FCCPR will soon have a Housing task force to go along with existing task forces on single payer, education, civil rights, women’s rights, labor, peace, and climate change.
The keynote speaker was Gianpaolo Baiocchi, a New York City-based scholar and activist, who concisely and excitedly helped place the conference discussions in the context of related efforts in Germany, Uruguay, New York, Spain and Mexico. He hopes to continue working with FCCPR, especially around housing initiatives.
FCCPR believes that town control of the basic services needed in our communities empowers our residents and promotes democracy, accountability and flexibility in responding to local needs while saving taxpayers money. The conference made it clear that lots of municipal leaders and community activists share that perspective. FCCPR hopes to provide a space for collective thinking and broad-based activism in that spirit.
Ideas from the conference have already informed FCCPR’s platform for upcoming Greenfield elections, in which an FCCPR leader is running for mayor. The conference exceeded the organizers’ expectations, and a follow-up conference in 2020 is already being discussed.
Ways to Get Involved with ORMA
Want to join an upcoming ORMA Democratic Debate Watch party? Contact your local affiliate here for a list of watch parties in your local area over the coming months.
ORMA on Facebook
ORMA Readers Corner
Monthly book/long read articles recommended by ORMA members.
- The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander.
Please send your reading recommendations to the ORMA Newsletter Volunteers
Upcoming events related to ORMA’s priorities (non-ORMA organized)
Ranked Choice Vote Lobby Day
WHEN: July 16, 2019 at 11am – 2pm EDT
WHERE: MA Statehouse Great Hall of Flags 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133
CONTACT: Monica Burke – firstname.lastname@example.org
Event by: Voter Choice Massachusetts
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