Sunday, November 20, 2016

Anti-Oppression, Anti-Bullshit Voting Guide for New Orleans RUNOFF Election, Dec. 10, 2016

We're back! You're back! On December 10, we return to the polls to vote on our Senator, Criminal Court Judge, and some Public Works provisions.
 

Early voting: 
Nov. 26 and Nov. 28-Dec. 3
8am - 6pm
Bring your government-issued photo ID.

CITY HALL, 1300 PERDIDO ST., #1W24, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70112-2127

ALGIERS COURTHOUSE, 225 MORGAN ST RM#105, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70114

VOTING MACHINE WAREHOUSE, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70127

LAKE VISTA COMMUNITY CENTER, 6500 SPANISH FORT BLVD, 2ND FLOOR MEETING ROOM, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70124


These guides have been produced lovingly and carefully since 2014 by a group of individuals who wish to confront the existing lack of accountability in the branches of Louisiana government, and in the election process more generally. We did a lot of research and talked with our neighbors, friends, and allies. We agreed on the following guidelines to make—or in some cases, decline to make—our recommendations:

•Promote justice and advancement for people of color, poor people, queer people, immigrants, youth, people most affected by environmental degradation, and other marginalized populations in our communities; prioritize the needs of these people above others.

•Favor the judicial candidates least destructive to the lives of the poor and others caught in the dragnet of our punitive legal system.

•Be strategic about New Orleanians' specific needs being adequately addressed on the state and federal levels, especially with regard to environmental, economic, and healthcare concerns.

•Reject the influence of post-Katrina opportunism at all levels of government. Many New Orleanians have not yet come home, due to lack of resources. For those who have returned, they find the city expensive, and meaningful employment unobtainable. Healthcare has been slashed, as have other vital social services. The charterization of public schools has thoroughly devalued community input. We do not reward the public officials or business folks who dismantle public works and civic life.

We approach this work with a harm reduction ethos—that is, we understand we cannot easily nor quickly move the mountains of inequality, prejudice, (bureaucracy!), and oppression that keep people down. We considered the view that deliberating on “Who is going to harm us?” is actually not a form of harm reduction at all. Ultimately, we believe we can work to ease the suffering and trauma that exist in our communities. In this way, we advance towards a visionary society in which everyone's needs are met, and our values are reflected in our system of governance.

U.S. SENATE
Foster Campbell (Democrat-Bossier City)
John Kennedy (Republican-Baton Rouge)

John Kennedy has been the elected Treasurer since 1999, and has never had any viable, adequately funded opponents to challenge him. He ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2004 and 2008, changing his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 2007 to run against David Vitter. He is a big Trump booster, describing him - to put it mildly - as "a change agent."

Having entered state politics as special counsel to Governor Buddy Roemer, Kennedy has since made his role about “streamlining government,” eliminating “wasteful” and favoritist government spending. That said, he has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from law firms - some out-of-state - who have regular business before the Louisiana Bond Commission he chairs.

He has clashed with Governor Jindal and Governor Edwards over the State’s budget, likening Edwards’ tax hike proposal to “hysterics” and “drama.”

On the social issues front, Kennedy recommended a crime-fighting plan he called “aggressive Stop and Frisk” to combat the “thugs” of New Orleans. He said he’d rather “drink weed-killer” than support the Affordable Care Act. He also ran some pretty brutal attacks on his primary opponent Charles Boustany, suggesting he had some involvement with three sex workers who were murdered. He stated recently that he would not support legislation that allows a woman to get an abortion if she becomes pregnant by rape or incest. This guy is a fucking creep.

Foster Campbell represents the last remaining hope for Democrats to flip a seat in the Senate, following the national election on November 8th.

Though he lost three campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives, he’s been a popular civil servant as Public Service Commissioner since 2003, and has maintained good working relationships with Louisiana’s Legislative Black Caucus. He believes in global warming, favors public control over public schools, and is generally regarded as an advocate for the working class. He is revered in rural parishes like Natchitoches, where he successfully championed the installation of telephone lines in 2005 (!) after decades of corporate feet-dragging in the region.

After the Wall Street Journal reported that Donald Trump might tap Bobby Jindal for his new Cabinet, Campbell warned that Jindal “can’t be trusted” after his “cold-hearted, irresponsible budgeting.” He placed the blame squarely on Treasurer Kennedy, who “rubberstamped Jindal’s dishonest budget tactics that bankrupted our state” and “let Jindal rob Louisiana.”

Campbell, who lost a son to suicide, has stated that he holds mental healthcare to be a priority in government spending: "We have to have the money, but it always gets cut because most of the people with mental illness are poor folks...It troubles me greatly to come to New Orleans and see people sleeping on cardboard. That drives me wild." 

Louisiana needs an advocate in the Senate who will stand up to malfeasance on all forms.

VOTE: Campbell


Judge Criminal District Court, Section D (Select 1)
Paul A. Bonin -  Democrat
Kevin Guillory - Democrat

We don’t really dig Kevin Guillory’s prosecution background, especially for someone who wants to judge criminal cases from the supposedly unbiased bench.

Paul Bonin has been an Appeals Court Judge, and wants to be on the Criminal Court so he can introduce greater transparency during proceedings, and restrict D.A. Cannizzaro’s “strong-arm tactics.” He calls wrongful conviction “the greatest tragedy in our criminal justice system.” Both Susan Guidry and Latoya Cantrell - of New Orleans City Council - endorse Bonin, so read into that what you will.

Vote: Bonin

Suggested Resources: After 20 months, New Orleans voters finally to choose Judge Marullo's replacement; Bonin, Guillory advance to Orleans Criminal Court runoffJudicial Forum for candidates of Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, Section D office three-part video from Court Watch NOLA. ; Live on Facebook with Paul Bonin and Kevin Guillory short videos on The New Orleans Tribune Facebook page, September 2016: https://www.facebook.com/theneworleanstribune/videos/1242728029103279/; https://www.facebook.com/theneworleanstribune/videos/1248221108553971/

PW Drainage - 4.46 Mills - CC - 30 Yrs. (Select 1)
Parishwide Drainage Proposition (Millage Continuation) Shall the City of New Orleans (the "City") continue to levy an ad valorem tax in the amount of 4.46 mills on all property subject to taxation within the City for a period of thirty (30) years, beginning with the year 2017 and ending with the year 2046 (an estimated $15,400,000 reasonably expected to be collected at this time for an entire year from the 4.46 mills levy), to be used solely and exclusively for the purpose of operating and maintaining the City's drainage system and for the construction and extension of said drainage system?

This mill would decrease the property tax for Sewerage and Water Board’s drainage system from 4.66 mills to 4.46 mills, lasting for 30 years.

As it stands, S&WB doesn’t have enough money to follow its own capital plan. The Office of the Inspector General has blasted it for ineffectiveness, fiscal mismanagement, and suspected payroll fraud.

But if we all vote against this mill, the property tax for this purpose would decrease from 4.66 mills to 0, a cut representing about a quarter of the S&WB’s total income from taxes.

Obviously water management is of crucial importance to our swampy city. Let’s keep a close eye on the S&WB to make sure it’s working for us and the sustainability of our infrastructure.

VOTE: Yes

PW Prop. (Fire Protection) - 2.5 Mills - CC - 12 Yrs. (Select 1)
Parishwide Proposition (Authorizing Levy of Ad Valorem Tax for Fire Protection) Shall the City of New Orleans (the "City") be authorized to levy an ad valorem tax in the amount of two and one-half (2.50) mills (the "Tax") on all property subject to taxation within the City for a period of twelve (12) years, beginning January 1, 2017 and ending December 31, 2028 (an estimated $8.87 million reasonably expected to be collected at this time for an entire year as a result of the levy of the Tax), to be dedicated solely to fire protection in accordance with Article VI, Section 26(E) of the Louisiana Constitution?

Y’all, remember in April when a tricky double-mill wound up on our ballot, combining increased funds for police AND firefighters? Well, New Orleans voters refused to be force-fed some irresponsible fiscal action disguised as “public safety.” This time, we have the chance to directly support our firefighters by paying into their overdue pension settlement.

It may strike you as unfair to have to help the City balance the budget by paying more in taxes, but listen: Some firefighters have literally died waiting for their pension pay-outs. The City is trying to make good on its settlement plan, and we can help insure the stability of the public service fund designated for this - and only this - expenditure.

VOTE: Yes

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Where to donate money in New Orleans, 3rd annual edition

Occupy Sandy
Y'all, we are in quite a situation.

A president-elect who promotes violence, an election season that asked us to choose between some major evils, a social and physical ecology of degradation in the Deep South...Whoo, baby, are we gonna have to work hard to build our way out of this!

And so, here is the 3rd annual guide to "Spending Dollars to Make Some Change" in New Orleans. If you are typically inclined to make donations, please continue to do so. If you usually buy your friends and families presents for the holidays, consider making a donation in their honor instead.

Think of it less as a charitable contribution, and more of an opportunity to flex your humanitarian muscles, and lift up those among us who are struggling to gain recognition, respect, and autonomy in our society.

All power to the people.

In no particular order: 

Healthcare
Trystereo / New Orleans Harm Reduction Network
Provides health supplies, wellness education, wound-care consultations, toiletries, and clothing to drug-users in southeastern Louisiana. Facilitates workshops on safer drug-use, first aid practices, and overdose prevention. Runs a 12-Step Alternative support group for people who feel kinda judged or unwelcome at AA/NA/etc meetings. Runs a support group for people whose loved ones may be drug-users.

New Orleans Abortion Fund
Y'all, abortions might become even harder to come by. These kind people raise money to get you to your doctor so you can make decisions that are right for you.

Women with a Vision
Facilitates the empowerment of low-income women of color through legislative advocacy, educational programming, and other initiatives that nobody else is taking up. Their director is currently battling breast cancer while continuing to do her brave work.

Luke's House
This two-night-a-week clinic welcomes the poor, the undocumented, the anybody who needs healthcare and may not be able to get it elsewhere. Volunteer nurses, doctors, and Spanish-language interpreters make sure everyone is welcome.

Birthmark Doulas
An important information and healthcare resource for pregnant and parenting people in New Orleans. Sliding scale for low-income families. #BlackBirthMatters

Food Justice
Grow Dat Youth Farm
Teaches kids how to farm. Promotes food justice and fights environmental racism.

Community Kitchen
Makes and serves free meals (including vegan and gluten-free options!) for anyone who's hungry. Caters events for other radical groups in the city.

Queer Safety, Queer Power
Break Out
Organizes for the civil rights of queer and transgender youth of color, and against police brutality of these groups. Raises money to help trans people change their names, especially in anticipation of violence against queers in this country under the Trump administration. I cannot say enough about the bravery of this group.

LGBT Community Center of New Orleans
Advocates for queer access to economic and social opportunities in the Greater New Orleans region.

LOUD: New Orleans Queer Youth Theater
Queer youth create, design, and perform top-notch theatrical productions. Produce educational workshops on civil rights and sexual health.

Youth
Black Youth Project
The local affiliate of a national movement to connect Black youth with their liberation. Very hardworking and brave group that stands for collective empowerment, and monuments to real heroes of our history.

Project Butterfly New Orleans
An African-centered, rites of passage program designed to prepare girls of African descent for their transition from adolescence to adulthood. Builds self-esteem, decision-making skills, and positive cultural values.


Girls Rock New Orleans
Fosters artistic expression in girls, transgender, and gender-nonconforming youth.

Apex Youth Center
Originally run by a couple out of their living room, this organization does an awesome job of providing free afterschool care for youth in the city. Kids get snacks, clothes, tutoring, whatever. The older kids are the "mentors." The center is often open to the neighborhood for barbecues and other parties. The founders even negotiated with the police to extend the nighttime youth curfew to kids leaving the Center late at night.

Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools / The Rethinkers
A participatory education group of New Orleans students who reject the school-to-prison pipeline, and the teach-to-the-test pedagogical approach. Instead, they work to make their schools supportive environments for learning and leadership development.

Free arts, sports, foreign language, yoga, drama, dance, culinary, etc. classes for youth in New Orleans. Directed by a born-and-raised New Orleanian.

RUBARB
All-volunteer run bicycle shop that teaches neighborhood kids how to build and repair their own bikes.

The Prison System, and the People Affected by It
Cornerstone Builders
Free buses to prisons around Louisiana. Help a mama visit her son while he's locked up!

Books 2 Prisoners
Sends free books to people in the South's jails and prisons. 

Voice of the Experienced (Formerly known as Voice of the Ex-Offender.)
Helps formerly incarcerated individuals re-acclimate to society. Provides legal resources, financial management education, and leadership development opportunities. Promotes community education and collaboration around voting rights and interaction with law enforcement.

Resurrection After Exoneration
Say you spent a lot of time in prison for a crime you didn't commit. Then you get released, but you have nowhere to go. This organization will let you live in their house for free! They'll also hook you up with clothing, legal resources, and whatever else you might need.

Housing
Jane Place 
Sustainable and actually affordable housing for those among us who have historically suffered most from unstable housing access.


Youth Rebuilding New Orleans 
Founded by two New Orleans-born brothers in their 20s, this agency engages youth to build houses for public school teachers. They also make room to train and mentor young people doing court-mandated community service.

LowerNine.org
Rebuilds people's houses in the Lower 9th Ward. Pretty simple. The homeowners just pay for the construction materials; volunteers do the rest. On a side note, it's pretty ridiculous that we're still relying on volunteers and donations to rebuild people's houses in the Lower 9th Ward. Let's get it done already. 

Labor
New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, specifically: 

Congreso de Jornaleros / Congress of Day Laborers
One of the bravest groups around - a union of undocumented workers. These people rebuilt New Orleans after Katrina; now they're being deported. Fuck that. Give them money to access healthcare, education, labor rights, housing, and stable legal standing.

Stand with Dignity
Tirelessly advocates to improve the housing, employment, and educational opportunities for low-income residents of New Orleans. These people were left in deplorable conditions during Katrina, and stood up to (successfully) demand radical changes to the city's shelter and evacuation protocols.

General Community Development
Puentes
Asserts the rights and needs of Spanish-speaking populations in New Orleans. They do stuff like: help clinics translate health flyers; advocate to get interpreters wherever they're needed; link families to information about schools and housing; and hold businesses and social services accountable for working with Spanish-speakers.

Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training
Promotes education, economic self-sufficiency, and access to social resources in the Vietnamese communities of New Orleans East. Runs free summer camps for children.

Advocacy Center of Louisiana
A vital legal and social work resource for the elderly and people with diagnosed disabilities.

Arts
Wildseeds: The Octavia Butler Emergent Strategy Collective
Feminists of color creating visionary and justice-driven art.

The Land Memory Bank and Seed Exchange
Works to preserve and promote the cultural and ecological vitality of southeast Louisiana.

Ashe Cultural Arts Center
Promotes African, Caribbean, and African-American art and artists. Hosts community groups about health and fatherhood, among other themes.

The successor of the Free Southern Theater, this organization produces and encourages social justice-driven art. Recent productions have concerned the privatization of New Orleans schools, and the experience of displacement in the environmentally fragile Gulf Coast.

A film festival that spotlights the struggles and triumphs of marginalized populations.

A multidisciplinary arts group that produces works around ecological and other civic concerns. Their stellar outdoor "Cry You One" show was performed on the canals and swamps of St. Bernard Parish, highlighting the human consequences of environmental degradation.

A multidisciplinary performance arts group that uses theatre as a tool of healing and recovery. Runs a theatre group at Louisiana's St. Gabriel prison for women.

New Orleans Community Printshop & Darkroom
A low-cost studio space for artist-entrepreneurs. Also runs free workshops for neighborhood kids to learn screenprinting, photography, and zine-making.

Books & Other Things for Purchase/Action

Take Em Down NOLA - Sign the Petition
Organizes against racism and racist monuments in New Orleans. Have recently been attacked personally by David Duke.

Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest - Episode 4: Attack of the Swamp Thing, by Marti Dumas

The newest book in a series written by a New Orleans eeducator about her precocious son. Marti had trouble finding children's literature featuring protagonists of color, so she started writing them.

No More Heroes, by Jordan Flaherty.
Confronts the "white savior" complex that has pervaded post-Katrina New Orleans. Advocates for grassroots mobility and empowerment.

New Orleans Comics & Zines Festival (Nov. 19-20)
Local & non-local artists sell their original pieces, celebrating the grassroots history and vitality of zine culture. Workshops & performances for kids.

Neighborhood Story Project
Check out these books and the Queer Cartography series from a group that has been collecting and publishing oral histories in New Orleans since before Katrina.

Supporting Urban Agriculture CSA Box
Grows food in the Lower 9th Ward and gives it to the neighbors, sells it to the people who can pay. Kinda evens things out, and promotes healthy eating for everybody.


* * * *
Hit up the comments section if you want something included! Thanks to everyone who helped me compile this list by doing the work / shouting out others who do the work.