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Inspiration & Impact in Olympia: Lobby Day!
by Bobby Kirl
On January 20th, I and members from the 6th Legislative District participated, alongside PJALS and Washington CAN members from many Eastern Washington Legislative Districts, in an exciting and highly effective lobby day in Olympia. Our PJALS delegation of 16 people was our largest to date! The atmosphere and mood of the delegation was more than this aspiring activist could have hoped for right from the start.
My first lobby day began with an inspirational rally. Several highly motivated organizers and activists shared heart-felt personal stories of their struggles and triumphs on important legislative issues like the Washington DREAM act–which has since been signed into law!– as well as increasing access to dental care, paid sick days for all workers and health care reform. The rally left the congregation with no doubt of the importance of the agenda. Shortly after that inspiration the entire group, nearly 200 strong, took to the streets for a multi-block march from the Capitol Theater all the way to the steps of the State Capital building. Read more »
Action Needed: Sit and Lie Ordinance Vote on December 16
Emails Needed on Sit and Lie Ordinance, Attend City Council Meeting on Monday December 16
Spokane City Councilman Allen, with the support of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, has dropped an expanded “sit and lie” ordinance that will come up for a hearing and vote at the Spokane City Council meeting on Monday, December 16, 6pm.
The Smart Justice Campaign is very concerned that the “sit and lie” ordinance being considered will increase the number of non-violent people in our jail. The proposed ordinance makes it a misdemeanor crime to sit or lie on sidewalks in the downtown core between 6am and 1am, and to sit or lie on any sidewalk fixture (like a planter, bike rack, or drinking fountain) at any time. The ordinance attempts to direct people into homeless shelters instead of jail, but fails to provide resources to shelters for additional space and services, nor does it establish diversion programs to provide treatment and support services for those found to be in violation of the ordinance.
Your help is needed – Please call or email Spokane City Council members (talking points below) and urge them to oppose the Sit and Lie Ordinance, and attend the City Council Hearing on Monday December 16th. Read more »
Bobby Kirl joins our team in January!
Bobby Kirl is a Master’s level social work student at Eastern Washington University and has chosen to spend his practicum hours with us. Bobby was first introduced to the work of PJALS during a university course on human rights and was later able to become involved when his affiliation with the local Vets for Peace chapter led to an opportunity to play music at our PJALS membership meeting. Read more »
PJALS Members and Smart Justice Supporters Turn Out for CJC Hearing
By Dom Felix, Intern
The Spokane County Commissioners and Mayor Condon appointed a joint City-County Regional Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) in November 2012, charged with recommending reforms to our criminal justice system. The Commission’s final recommendations will provide the “to do list” for City and County elected officials to implement criminal justice reform. Their recommendations were released in a 60 page draft November 1st 2013.
On Nov. 6th the CJC held a hearing to get input from the community. There were nearly 150 community members at the hearing. Read more »
Build your communication skills for effective lobbying!
Frustrated with the political process? Feel like your voice is not heard when communicating with your legislators? Want to increase skills for effective meetings with legislators?
If so, please join us on Thursday, Dec. 5th at 5:30pm in the Community Building, 35 W. Main.
Come and learn effective methods of communicating with your state representative! We will use state revenue as the subject matter for this workshop, but the principles of communication apply to any issue. Come and learn how to let your voice be heard here and in Olympia! We will also be recruiting for a delegation to go to MLK Lobby Day in Olympia to put these skills to good use!
For more information, contact Shar at firstname.lastname@example.org or 838-7870.
Vets for Peace: Stop $30 Billion to Israel
Spokane Veterans for Peace, Chapter 35, has contracted for the placement of a billboard on I-90 between Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls urging that we “Stop $30 Billion to Israel.” This was a joint collaboration with an anonymous matching grant funder who has helped placed dozens of such billboards across the country, many of them sponsored by local Veterans for Peace chapters.
Spokane Vets for Peace views our $30 billion funding for Israel as both unnecessary and counterproductive to the aims of 1) peace in the Middle East and 2) filling domestic needs. We note, too, that funding for Israel has substantially increased in the face of the sequester that has devastated social programs and infrastructure spending drastically.
The Intersections of Us
by Shar Lichty
At the end of July I was fortunate to attend the Activists Mobilizing for Power (AMP) Conference put on each year by Western States Center in Portland. I have been wanting to attend this conference for four years and this year all the forces were in alignment to make it happen.
I have a lot of respect for the work Western States Center does, particularly in the areas of racial and queer equity. As I found myself surrounded by 400 like-minded individuals at a conference that offered several workshops on how to advance this work, had gender neutral restrooms, and a plenary on the gender binary, I felt at home.
One of the most moving experiences I had during my three days at AMP happened at a film screening for All of Us North Carolina, a documentary about queer people of color who fought against NC’s Amendment One, which stripped domestic partners of their civil rights. Read more »
Corporate Tax Evasion Costs Us Dearly
by Carroll W. McInroe, former Sgt., U.S. Army and WACAN Editorialist
“Mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them.” Jefferson wrote those words in an 1826 letter to a friend, only days before his death – but he wrote for all of us. He was sounding a warning for the ages; mankind has always been plagued by the privileged and the powerful riding roughshod over the rest of us. And they always will – if we let them. Read more »
Peace & Justice Action Committee: A new model to advance our work
by Shar Lichty
After a summer off, our Peace & Justice Action Committee (PJAC) will be resuming our meeting schedule on Sept. 19th with a new approach: leadership development and campaign-specific organizing. Read more »
The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. … If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, … want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. …. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.
We Walk to Keep Our Community Whole
by Josh Neil, PJALS intern
On March 23rd our community came together to urge our representatives to reject cuts to education, healthcare, and other lifeline programs. Nearly forty people from several organizations came together in the largest action the Spokane’s northside has ever seen. Read more »
Walk to Keep Our Community Whole!
Come Walk to Keep Our Community Whole on Saturday, March 23rd at 12Noon to reject the Senate’s proposed All-Cuts budget, and call on our state Senators in the 6th and 7th Legislative Districts to raise revenue and reject cuts that hurt real people in our community. Read more »
Our Community of Action Going Forward Together
by Liz Moore, PJALS Director
What I love most about PJALS is being part of a community of people who take action together based on the connections between human rights, economic justice, & peace.
Our Steering Committee asked you, PJALS members, to guide strategic planning for 2013-2014. We learned that you overwhelmingly support organizing to raise revenue & reject cuts as well as to counter the costs of militarism and to demand money for people, not for war. You’re also passionate about alternatives to incarceration & police accountability. You value that we create community together through our events & campaigns. You strongly support our Young Activist Leaders Program & our interns. You love our Action Conference. You want PJALS to continue to strengthen our connections with communities of color & with rural people.
Why prioritize those areas? Read more »
Pull the Pentagon Pork: Protect our Priorities, Protect Families
Update: Check out our photo petition on the National Day of Action to Pull the Pentagon Pork here!
By Lucy Vazquez
On Tuesday February 19th PJALS members met with John Culton, the Eastern Washington Director for Senator Patty Murray as our second mobilization, following up on our December action, where we delivered over 1,100 signatures of individuals and 18 different organizations that have signed on as part of PJALS’ Bring Our Billions Home Campaign. As the fight over the budget continues and more cuts to social programs are on the chopping block, PJALS decided to make a stance and urge Senator Murray to protect our communities and fight to reduce wasteful Pentagon spending.
Sitting in Senator Murray’s Eastern Washington Director John Culton’s office with seven PJALS members–veterans, students, farmers, mothers and fathers, and other everyday people–and listening to their stories made me realize this is not about numbers, it’s about impacting real people and communities. Read more »
Time to Put People First
By Michelle Little, Young Activist Leader and PJALS Intern
Being a single mother of three young children, I depend on many programs to care for my family while I am attending college, including Medicaid, food stamps, child care assistance and the Washington State Need Grant for higher education. Continuing cuts to these programs will devastate families such as my own, and many other families who are struggling to stay afloat.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day I had the privilege of speaking at the rally on the capitol steps with 300 people at Washington Community Action Network’s Racial Justice Rally in Olympia. I went with a delegation from the Peace and Justice Action League including my fellow intern Justin Filla. This was the first time I had ever spoken in front of a crowd, and although it was very scary it was also very empowering to be able to tell my story and have the support of so many people who feel the same way I do.
Facing Race: Coalition Calls on Legislators to Work Towards Racial & Economic Equity
by Lucia Vazquez
Our WA legislature received a D for its voting on racial equity bills for the 2011 and 2012 sessions. The grade came from Washington Community Action Network’s Facing Race: 2012 Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity, which assessed the Washington Legislature’s performance during the 2011 and 2012 regular sessions on issues that affect racial and economic equity. The report was endorsed by 52 organizations across the state, including PJALS. The goal of this report was to educate legislators about the impact their decisions have on communities of color that make up about 30% of Washington residents, but also to spread awareness of advancing racial equity within our state. Read more »
Spokane’s Pax Christi Engages the New National Strategic Narrative
By Mike Nuess
Capt. Wayne Porter, USN, proposes that a new world vision and strategies for strategic security and prosperity that he presents in Mr. Y: A National Strategic Narrative (NSN) should replace those presented in George Kennan’s 1946 document, Mr. X: The Sources of Soviet Conduct, which defined the U.S. government’s Cold War vision, strategies and tactics still in place today.
Last April Pax Christi-Spokane and Gonzaga University’s Departments of Political Science and Religion hosted Capt. Porter in a one-day conference. Porter explained the new vision in terms of the need to respond to new threats requiring new ways of thinking. For examples, we are confronted by a global resource crisis where shortages of food supplies, water and the impending demise of fossil fuels challenge us to think of sustainable solutions that bring security; we must understand and adapt to an extremely turbulent change in climate, which will likely affect large populations around the planet, further impacting strategic and economic security. Read more »
Smart Justice Gains Momentum
The movement towards a smarter criminal justice system in Spokane is gaining momentum and has some worthy accomplishments to report! The Smart Justice Campaign coalition, convened by Greater Spokane Progress and endorsed by PJALS, the Center for Justice, and many other groups, co-sponsored the Smart Justice Symposium in November. About 200 elected officials, judges, police officers, attorneys, probation officers, ex-offenders, and concerned citizens gathered as experts and stakeholders discussed proven alternatives to jail that reduce crime, save taxpayer dollars and produce better outcomes for people re-entering the community. At the end of the day, anonymous polling revealed that a vast majority of the audience supported reallocating resources to support the programs discussed. Police Chief Straub helped closed the event by promising to work collaboratively with the public to heal, change and move forward towards a better Spokane.
For the coalition, part of making Spokane better is eliminating the grim fact that our criminal justice system disproportionately impacts people of color, people with disabilities, and people with low incomes. To educate and promote a dialogue surrounding this issue, the Campaign hosted the opening night of “The House I Live In,” a powerful documentary that links these disparities with drug war policies. After the film, Reverend Happy Watkins led an honest, but hopeful, discussion about institutional racism in Spokane and what we can do to address it.
The coalition has actively sought input from experts, criminal justice stakeholders, and the people most impacted by the system in order to create recommendations for change. At the core of these policy recommendations is the request that the city and county make all future policy decisions regarding criminal justice through a Smart Justice Lens – This means focusing on the person, not the crime, matching individuals with appropriate alternatives to incarceration that reduce recidivism and reduce costs, and monitoring such programs to ensure effectiveness. In addition, this lens includes paying particular attention to racial, economic, and other disparities within the system. The coalition hopes to share its recommendations with the three-member Regional Criminal Justice Commission recently appointed by the city and county to examine possible reforms.
While we have successfully gotten “Smart Justice” into Spokane’s vocabulary, it is time to push for commitment, a reallocation of resources, and implementation. To reach these next goals, we will need more participation and engagement from people like you. To find out how to get involved and for more information on Smart Justice alternatives, contact PJALS or go to the Smart Justice website – www.smartjusticespokane.org.
Progress NOT Roadblocks: PJALS Special Election Voter Guide
For the 2/12/13 City of Spokane special election – Please urge your friends to VOTE! Ballots will be mailed to registered voters on January 24 & must be returned by Tuesday February 12.
- Yes on Prop 1: Prop 1 will create permanent power for the Office of Police Ombudsman to independently investigate complaints against Spokane police officers and report findings to the public. It also gives the people of Spokane a voice by creating a citizen board to oversee the Ombudsman. Vote Yes to ensure that everyone in our community is treated fairly by law enforcement and to restore confidence and trust in our police department
- No on Prop 2: if passed, would place the power of governing in the hands of a radical minority by requiring a two thirds (5/7) supermajority vote requirement on selective tax measures. This means just 3 council members could block proposals to keep libraries open, support important life saving services such as EMS, and create jobs and attract tourism.
- Yes on Prop 3: which requests a dedicated levy for Library services at a rate of 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Homeowners with a home valued at $100,000, would pay a meager $7 a year. The levy duration would be four years and allow for the restoration of regular hours at all branches including those in the lowest income neighborhoods.
Give the gift of “Justice Java”
A tasty and justice-y gift for you or someone you care about! “Justice Java” from Roast House is a bag full of support for PJALS! It’s Fair Trade, organic, shade grown coffee with a farm-to-cup relationship. Each 1-lb bag of whole beans or ground coffee is $12 and benefits our work for social justice! Order here! Read more »
We said: “Money for People, Not for War!”
With the support of 18 faith communities, businesses, and organizations, we delivered 1123 signatures to Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell, urging them to vote for “Money for People, Not for War!” Thank you for signing in support! You can still endorse this important campaign here: www.pjals.org/billions.
By Mike Edwards, PJALS member
“Risk takers” is a Republican phrase that has become synonymous with describing the men who singlehandedly grow the economy and in the process, lead America to a better, more ethical, wealthier future. What politicians say is that growth, like broccoli and puppies, is universally good, and that growth is orchestrated by the few capitalists who are able to generously provide financing for the system.
According to Chris Hedges book Empire of Illusion, the porn industry, largely centered in the United States, generated over 96 billion dollars in 2006. On a pure growth model view of the world, this revenue is a phenomenal good to society. Read more »
From the Director’s Chair: The Season of Balance
By Liz Moore
As much as it pains me to acknowledge this particular reality, fall is pretty much here. This fall will see the first anniversary of the Occupy movement, on September 15. PJALS will march with Occupy Spokane at 12 noon on that day and I hope you’ll join our delegation.
The approach of fall means the Vernal Equinox is coming soon, of course. The equinoxes always make me think of that of that perhaps-Platonic ideal, balance. It seems like such a nice concept, doesn’t it? It evokes order and a sense of calm and serenity, like what I imagine it must feel like to successfully perform the yoga asana called Tree Pose, standing with one foot against the opposite inner thigh, arms gracefully raised above the head. I don’t actually know what it’s like to feel Tree Pose, because I wiggle and wobble like a wanna-be toddler trying simply to stand up. But I imagine it’s serene and calm, the embodiment of balance.
But I think I should be thinking of balance as a verb, not a noun. Read more »
Witnesses in Palestine
Myrta Ladich and Marianne Torres will be showing photographs taken during their recent trip and sharing more stories and reflections in the Community Building, September 6 at 7 P.M.
By Myrta Ladich
You hear a noise at your front door at five A.M. Clad in your night clothes, you head for the door as an explosion rips it open and armed men burst in, ordering your family out of your house NOW. Your children, sleepy and in their pajamas, are grabbed bodily and flung into the street, as your household goods are thrown into a truck and driven off, never to be seen again. In a half hour you watch, powerless, as a Jewish family is moved into your house, a house you own.
This was the experience of Miriam al-Rawi in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. For months Miriam and her children lived on the street across from their former home. Read more »
Our Work for Economic Justice – A PJALS Success Story!
by Amanda Hunt, BSW
Since September, I have had the pleasure of working with the Peace and Economic Justice Committee. In this committee, we set our 2012 legislative priorities which included fighting to raise revenue in the state by closing corporate tax loopholes and rejecting cuts that will disproportionately affect low-income children, families, and people of color. Read more »
An Invitation to Share Your Story, for Smart Justice
A diverse coalition including PJALS, Greater Spokane Progress, and the Center for Justice is about to launch a Smart Justice Campaign to persuade the County to fully implement comprehensive alternatives to incarceration for non-violent and low-level offenders.
We need to humanize this issue, so community members and elected officials will understand how the current system affects individuals and families. Julie Schaffer, an attorney at the Center for Justice, is inviting people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system to please contact her and share their stories. Read more »
Good news: WA state Senate Committee calls for “Money for People, Not for War!”
URGENT ACTION NEEDED! Sign the petition here for a full Senate vote!
A Washington State Senate committee passed SJM 8014, calling upon Congress to stop the Afghanistan war, bring the troops home to their families, cut the military budget, and shift spending to job creation, education, healthcare, environmental protections, and lifeline programs for struggling families! Now we need your help to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote!
SJM 8014 is now in the Senate Rules Committee, where it will languish unless a member of the Senate Rules Committee pulls it by Tuesday Feb 15 at 5pm to send it to the floor for a vote by the entire Washington State Senate. Fortunately, Spokane 3rd LD State Senator Lisa Brown serves on the Rules Committee and is the powerful Senate Majority Leader. Please contact her IMMEDIATELY and ask her to send SJM 8014 to the floor. TIME IS SHORT, SO PLEASE ACT NOW.
Phone: 360-786-7604 or (509) 456-2760
(sample message below)
Read more »
By Liz Moore
“Save Lives, Save Jobs, Raise Revenue” is the rallying cry of Our Economic Future, a coalition of over 150 groups pushing the Washington state legislature to close wasteful corporate special interest tax loopholes. As you’ll see in these posts, PJALS members like you have been very busy raising our voices together to stop the devastating cuts to education and lifeline programs for struggling families. We co-sponsored the Spokane release of the important report “Facing Race: How Budget Cuts Are Increasing Racial Disparities” and a caravan of PJALS and WA CAN! activists traveled to Olympia to “Occupy the Capitol”, culminating in marches in Spokane and Olympia. Our joint march here (with Occupy Spokane, unions, and other groups) included the delightful experience of 300 of us caroling in the atrium of Riverpark Square with re-written tunes including “I’m Dreaming of a Fair Budget” and “It’s the Most Critical Time of the Year.” Read more »
Occupy the Capitol
By Amanda Hunt
PJALS and Washington Community Action Network worked together to get 20 Spokane residents to Olympia to Occupy the Capitol at the end of November We went to speak to our legislators and to encourage legislators to take a “balanced approach” to the budget and to raise revenue by closing corporate tax loopholes.
We met with Senate Majority leader Lisa Brown and Representative Andy Billig, who were welcoming and excited we were there. We also met with 6th District Representative Kevin Parker. When asked to raise revenue and not cut programs, he asked us “Why are you doing this to yourselves? Why don’t you request to send the Department of Ecology to the voters instead?” Read more »
Facing Race: How Budget Cuts Are Increasing Racial Disparities
Washington’s communities of color and low-income communities have faced unequal pain in this recession. High levels of unemployment, home foreclosure, and racial inequities in health, education and criminal justice continue to devastate communities of color. By 2030, one in every three Washington residents will be a person of color.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed. Washington’s budget decisions can either echo this, or make matters worse.
The report Facing Race: How Budget Cuts Are Increasing Racial Disparities highlights how the cuts made to the 2011-2013 biennial budget disproportionately affect communities of color in Washington State and worsen existing racial disparities. Read more »
Students speak out for revenue at EWU legislative panel
By Alyssa Henderson
In November, we new interns at PJALS successfully held a legislative panel on EWU’s Cheney campus. The panel was sponsored by PJAL-EWU (the new club on Eastern’s campus that we kicked off in September) and the Associated Students of Eastern Washington University. Focusing primarily on proposed budget cuts to higher education, the panel allowed students and community members the opportunity to speak directly to their legislators, addressing their concerns. Representative Susan Fagan of the 9th District, Senator Majority Leader Lisa Brown of the 3rd district, Senator Michael Baumgartner of the 6th district, and Representative John Ahern also of the 6th district sent their policy advisors.
Expecting only a turn-out of around 40 people, we were delighted when nearly all seats were filled and 100 people had partaken. Read more »
Jobs, Not Jails, for Spokane County
Nationally, communities use rehabilitative programs for people in the criminal justice system 70% of the time and jail only 30% of the time. In Spokane County, it is just the opposite – we incarcerate 70% of the people and provide alternative programs to only 30%. Alternatives to incarceration can save taxpayer funds, create safer neighborhoods and end the cycle of revolving door jail sentences. Jail is far more expensive and less effective than alternative programs. So in order to create safer communities at an affordable price we need to shift away from outdated systems. Read more »
Showdown at Suncadia
By Amanda Hunt, intern
On September 21, I attended the Showdown in Suncadia, in beautiful and remote Cle Elum, WA. Suncadia is a luxurious mountain resort in the majestic Cascade Mountains. This event was organized by Washington Community Action Network, and joined by many organizations from across the state. Shar Lichty, Brock Baker, myself, and 5 members of the Youth Sustainability Council left Spokane at 530AM. This was an action in direct response to Governor Gregoire’s “private” address to the Association of Washington Business. Besides our governor, Phyllis Campbell, the Northwest Regional Chairperson for Chase Bank, was also addressing the group.
Unfortunately for the corporate fat cats, who were supposed to be enjoying activities such as wine tasting and golfing, Suncadia was not secluded enough. Hundreds of protestors from all over the state interrupted their quiet little retreat. Read more »
Community Speak-out and March for Work Not War
1:00 pm, Saturday, October 8, Clarke Park on the corner of Garland and Division
Join PJALS members like you to commemorate 10 years of US war and occupation in Afghanistan. Speakers will include veterans and community members on the many costs of war including out-of-control military spending and the resulting lack of funding for lifeline programs for struggling families in our communities.
And, two days prior, join us to Meet and Eat
Thursday, October 6, 5:30-7:00pm, Lobby of the Community Bldg, 35 W. Main