Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Our Children Are Paying Attention

Lake Erie by Mirek/Photo by his mom Stefania/Meme layout by Crys
We say "Power to the people!" but do we really mean it? Do we really believe it? How can We the People, the 99%, the average guys ever hope to exert any power over those who oppress us when so much power rests in the hands of the few, the 1%, the elite classes?

There are no easy answers, but we can't afford to give up now. Our children are paying attention. They learn from our example.
Painting signs to promote the Lake Erie Bill of Rights
It's tempting to throw in the towel and walk away, but quitters never win and winners never quit. Fortunately, there will always be some small group of individuals willing to risk it all for the good of the public. This week we catch up once again with the ongoing story of one such activist group, Toledoans for Safe Water. Their mission? To ensure clean drinking water for millions and to hold the corporate polluters accountable for their actions.

Ambitious? Yes, but our children are paying attention. We can't live in fear forever. We have to act boldly while we can. We can't let our children down!

Toledo Voters Go To The Polls February 26

Toledo voters will be asked to vote on two charter amendments during a
special election on February 26. One of these charter amendments, the Lake
Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR), is the first proposed rights of nature law to
advance in the United States that focuses on a distinct ecosystem. If
adopted, the measure will secure Lake Erie’s rights to exist and flourish.

This citizens' initiative was inspired by the 2014 water crisis in the
Toledo metropolitan area when a blue-green algal bloom poisoned the city's
water supply and left 500,000 people without drinking water for three days.
(Over 11 million in both the US and Canada obtain their drinking water from
Lake Erie.)

After months of delaying tactics from the Lucas County Board of Elections,
Toledo City Council and spurious legal challenges in the Ohio Supreme
Court, the measure is on the February 26 special election ballot, and early
voting has already begun. This citizens' initiative would not have happened
without the enthusiastic engagement of local activists from Toledoans for
Safe Water (TSW) and Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie (ACLE), as well as
moral and legal support from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).

How do those who live in neighborhoods near the lakeshore view this issue?
Point Place resident and TSW organizer Markie Miller stated, "The lake may
not be in everyone's backyard--but it's in our kitchens! The lake and the
communities that rely on her are powerless to the corporate driven harms
that burden taxpayers, the ecosystem, and the economy."

Photo by Stefania Czech

Her Point Place neighbor C. Jankowski agrees. "You can sue your neighbor if something they do harms you, but you can't sue the people dumping chemicals (in the lake) without permission. Hint: you won't get permission. That's what LEBOR is for."

LEBOR is opposed by Big Agriculture interests, especially concentrated animal feedlot operations, known as CAFOs, and over a dozen related lobbyist organizations. It is also opposed by a local construction trades union that has worked lucrative contracts at the nearby Davis-Besse nuclear power plant. These anti-LEBOR groups have used scare tactics such as saying taxes will have to be raised to enforce the law and that cleaning up Lake Erie could cost local jobs, but they offer no proof for their claims. In fact, the algae-filled lake has cost the local economy billions of dollars in tourism revenue and caused water bill rates to be raised in order to
cover the costs of making the water for safe for human consumption. Many
well-paying jobs could be created cleaning and maintaining the health of
Lake Erie for all to enjoy for generations to come.

LEBOR activists have pressed on despite the setbacks, as Ohio law states a
citizens' initiative that receives the required number of signatures must
be put before the voters. These determined citizens realize democracy
doesn’t come cheap, and they feel that the loss of our Great Lake's
environment--and the Toledo area's drinking water--will cost us all dearly.

You can learn more about LEBOR and CELDF at their web sites:



The pro-pollution/anti-clean water forces are out and spreading their malicious lies, of course.  And many will ask, "Why don't you just use the existing laws to prosecute the polluters and get them to clean up their mess?" The following article will show you why that tactic no longer works (if it ever did).

Complete Wiping Away of Clean Water Act: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/12/07/complete-wiping-away-clean-water-act-trump-epa-rule-would-free-corporations-pollute

Here's a letter to the editor refuting the spurious claims of a corporate lackey.

Tom Troy in his column uses a specious argument in an attempt to trick voters into believing their votes don't count, and therefore, they should not bother to vote on February 26. To whit, he claims that because a turnout to a special election is historically "low" then somehow the issues presented on that election ballot are not as "worthy" as those on an election ballot that traditionally gets a larger voter turnout (such as a presidential election). 

If this is the case, then the next logical argument Mr. Troy could make is "Why do we have elections every year--why not only have them every four years or more?" One could further argue from his proposition that why should we bother having elections at all since they cost the taxpayers money. Let's just appoint a dictator of Toledo to make all the decisions for its citizens, shall we? It's "less costly" than having a special election, correct? 

 Since I'm assuming Mr. Troy isn't advocating for a dictatorship and the end of the democratic process in Toledo, one has to question his motives for using such weak and outright duplicitous claims that the special election is costing Toledoans an outrageous sum of money. 

Can we put a price on democracy, Mr. Troy? 
Besides, the special election would not have been necessary if the city of Toledo, the Lucas County Board of Elections and the state Supreme Court hadn't been under the influence of moneyed interests such as the Big Ag lobbyists and the trade union member, Josh Abernathy, who filed a frivolous lawsuit in a vain attempt to overturn the Ohio constitution which gives citizens the right to create and pass citizens initiatives with a mandate of the people. 

Mr. Troy is obviously on the side of the corporations who have bribed and paid off our local, state, and perhaps even national politicians to such a  point that these "public servants" seem willing to risk our health and safety--and the lives of our children and grandchildren--by allowing further toxic contamination of our drinking water in Lake Erie. 

Shame on you, Mr. Troy, for insinuating that our children's lives and our very democracy have a price tag!

More on the Lucas County Board of Election and their shenanigans to keep LEBOR off the ballot:

Column Ignored the Malice of the Election Board.

Head of Lucas County Dems Appoints Self to Scandal-Ridden B.O.E.

Are you paying attention? You can bet our opposition is!

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Power to the people--not the corporations!

From Friends of the Earth:
As you read this, hundreds of Friends of the Earth members are showing up at Congressional offices across the country as part of the Green New Deal week of action. These supporters, along with thousands of our progressive allies, are turning out to deliver more than 100,000 signatures urging Congress to transform our economy and energy systems through a Green New Deal.

But for our movement for a Green New Deal to succeed, we need to demand our Representatives’ attention both online and offline. Which is why we’re counting on you to support today’s in-person action takers with a social media action of your own.

Can you take two minutes to back up fellow volunteers in the fight for a Green New Deal with a simple Tweet?

Our movement for a Green New Deal is powerful, but so is our competition. Right now, dirty energy companies are doing everything they can to water down or block any plans for a Green New Deal in Congress. And if you tuned in to the State of the Union earlier this week, you probably noticed that Donald Trump failed to even mention climate change -- demonstrating yet again his commitment to fossil fuels and polluters over people and our planet.

Meanwhile, environmentalists like you know that in order to avert the worst impacts of climate chaos, we need a strong Green New Deal that must:

  1. Halt all new fossil fuel extraction, transitioning us to 100% renewable energy;
  2. Rapidly decarbonize our agriculture and transportation sectors;
  3. Ensure a fair and just transition led by impacted workers and communities;
  4. Uphold Indigenous rights; and
  5. Pass a national jobs guarantee.

With so much at stake, it’s truly up to us to keep the pressure on Congress for real solutions that match the urgency of the climate crisis. Sharing a Tweet is really quick, but it makes a huge impact -- just at the moment when we need it most. Will you take action to defend communities and our environment today?

Throughout this week, thousands of people signed and delivered petitions, made phone calls, and took to the streets to support a Green New Deal that lives up to our demands for justice and climate action.

Now, we’re in the final stretch of our week of action -- and we need your help to create a level of public pressure that Congress can’t ignore. By adding your voice, you can play a critical role in the fight against climate chaos and for a Green New Deal.

This is a quick and simple way you can help tell Congress that we need robust climate action and renewable energy NOW. All you have to do is click the link below, login in to Twitter, and hit “Tweet” to post your message. What are you waiting for?

Standing with you,
Liz Butler,
VP of organizing and strategic alliances,
Friends of the Earth

Right now, two of the world’s biggest mining companies want to mine Apache sacred lands just an hour east of Phoenix in Oak Flat, Arizona.

If Congress lets them get away with it, they will be violating indigenous people’s rights and creating a toxic trash dump that will release airborne chemicals for miles around the site.
SIGN THE PETITIONActivists and indigenous people had successfully stopped companies from mining Oak Flat for a decade before Congress snuck the sale of the lands into a bill funding the military.

After so many votes rebuffing pro-mining interests when the deal was debated openly, Congress sneakily put Oak Flat up for sale.
But the sale can still be stopped.
Sign our petition to tell Congress you condemn the immoral and unconstitutional seizure and sale of Oak Flat and you don’t want the site to be built as planned in 2020.

On Saturday, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival joins the Apache Stronghold in Arizona on their Fifth Annual March to Oak Flat. Because:

  • The Apache Stronghold’s struggle is the struggle of families in Detroit whose water was shut off.
  • The struggle of disenfranchised people in Kentucky, where 9% of the state can’t vote.
  • The struggle at the border, where federal workers are pawns in a battle for a wall while land is secretly sold off to multinational corporations on the other side of the fence.
Corporate America has shown it is willing to ignore the needs of the poor in almost every way, including by dumping toxic chemicals on the poor and indigenous people again and again.

Meanwhile, the U.S. federal government acts unaccountable to its own treaties with native and indigenous people. From the Doctrine of Discovery that was used to justify the takeover of indigenous lands to the ongoing attempt to undermine tribal sovereignty and steal native people’s resources, the U.S. has been assaulting the very right of indigenous people to exist.

We are all people of conscience -- Apache, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, people of other faiths and not of faith -- who refuse to be silent while Congress and corporate interests attempt to destroy indigenous people’s right to political independence and their very right to exist. 

We can’t afford to waste another moment: Sign the petition to demand Congress protect Oak Flat.
We stand in solidarity with the Apache Stronghold. Our fight is one.
Forward together, not one step back!

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis
Co-Chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

From Good Jobs Nation:

BREAKING NEWS: General Motors laid off 4,000 salaried employees starting last week. This is only part of an overall plan to lay off 15% of their American workforce and close down many plants altogether.

Here’s the bottom line: Trump has rewarded companies who have offshored jobs with $115 billion in federal contracts (over $700 million of which went to GM) — on top of a massive tax break — without doing anything to prevent top executives from pocketing the money and betraying American workers.

Trump could have acted to save thousands of jobs if he cared to do so. He doesn’t.

Add your name here to demand that Trump publicly take responsibility for his betrayal of GM workers, and sign an executive order to prevent public money going to companies that offshore our jobs

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