In the News

In the News


Ohio Supreme Court, Referendum, community organizing in Ohio

GCC Prevails at Ohio Supreme Court re: Referendum Petitions

Thursday, August 10, 2017
Cleveland.com
In a major ruling setting an important legal precedent, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the Cleveland City Council Clerk to accept referendum petitions collected by GCC and its allies seeking to put on the ballot the deal to vastly expand Quicken Loans Arena with $160 million in public funds....
 

Texas IAF, Water, sewage, Infrastructure, Colonias, El Paso

Texas Standard Covers Story of EPISO Success in Colonias

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Texas Standard

In radio coverage about the Texas governor zeroing out the Colonia Initiative Program’s nearly $860,000 budget, a story about the success of the El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Committee (EPISO) emerged.

When Fr. Ed Lucero-Rodin first arrived in El Paso in the 1980s he reported being “shocked by the living conditions …[with] people using centuries-old wells for non-drinking water and DIY septic-tank systems.”  He joined EPISO, which equipped him to tackle issues like sewage seeping into the groundwater which was causing many in his congregation to get sick.

After decades of success in fighting for water and sewage infrastructure in the colonias, he can now point to a street named after him in a subdivision that used to be a colonia.  All the streets are named after El Paso Interreligious  Sponsoring Organization (EPISO) leaders who successfully fought to bring water and waste service to this area.

This story was covered by the Texas Standard in the context of the state of funding for colonias today.

As Funding Dries Up, Colonia Residents Struggle Without Basic ServicesTexas Standard [pdf]


Quicken Loans Arena, GCC, Ohio IAF, Cleveland Cavaliers

GCC Wins Councilmember Pledges to Stop Fast-Track of Arena Renovation

Friday, March 10, 2017
Clevescene & Cleveland.com

Greater Cleveland Congregations continues their fight for fairness in the proposed deal from the Cleveland Cavaliers to spend $160 million of public money to upgrade Quicken Loans Arena.  GCC is fighting for a dollar-for-dollar match of all public money going into the deal to go towards a Community Equity Fund, which would provide critical supports for Cuyahoga County residents around mental health and addiction services, jobs for the unemployed, and capital improvements in distressed neighborhoods.    

On March 9th, GCC held an action with 425 leaders at Elizabeth Baptist Church in the Slavic Village neighborhood as part of their ongoing fight to bring fairness to the proposed deal being pushed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The action featured a number of powerful speakers, including the mother of Alianna DeFreeze, the 14 year-old girl who earlier this year was brutally murdered while on her way to school and whose body was left in a vacant home.  Three key members of the Cuyahoga County Council pledged to slow the deal down and stop fast-tracking it.

GCC members will take the fight to Dan Gilbert's doorstep next week. A caravan of families who have been left behind by the ‘Cleveland Renaissance’ will drive to his headquarters in Detroit on March 21st for a daylong demonstration there.

www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2017/02/15/gcc-choreographs-masterful-opposition-to-quicken-loans-arena-renovations

 
 

Blight, Mississippi IAF, JSU Foundation, St. Mark's Episcopal

WTJ Demolishes Blight in Jackson, MS

Monday, February 13, 2017
Clarion-Ledger

Two months after Working Together Jackson put public pressure on Jackson State University (JSU) to replace long-abandoned buildings with green space, leaders celebrated the first demolition on campus.  The demolition resulted from a collaboration initiated by Working Together Jackson in which Revitalize Mississippi Inc. agreed to demolish the properties at no cost to the JSU Development Foundation or university.

 


Stadiums, Financing, Neighborhood Development, Public Finance

#NOTallin: Regional Faith-based Coalition Announces Opposition to Q Renovations

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Cleveland Scene

Representatives from the Greater Cleveland Congregations announced their opposition to using public dollars on arena renovations without public input or benefit. The GCC, said several speakers, is "NOT all in." 

The group decried the "fast-track" nature of the financing deal announced last month, which will use multiple public revenue streams to supplement Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert's private investment in an exterior overhaul. The public portion was estimated to be $70 million, but could be more than double that cost due to interest. 

The GCC demanded that elected officials — Mayor Frank Jackson, County Executive Armond Budish, both city and county councils — slow down the process so the public can meaningfully have its say. 


Baltimore, Neighborhood Revitalization, Oliver, East Broadway

BUILD Revitalizes Oliver & Broadway East Neighborhoods in Baltimore

Friday, December 2, 2016
Baltimore Sun

....In the aftermath of the killings, local residents and churches, as well as the organization Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development, called for action.

The result was a $10 million agreement with the Reinvestment Fund, a community development organization. A little more than a decade ago, Oliver had 623 abandoned houses.

There are now 188 rebuilt units, mostly two- and three-story rowhouses. There's a whole block of North Broadway that has been restored to splendid Victorian appearance....


Foreclosures, Milwaukee Bucks, Bob Connolly, Keisha Krumm

The Power of Common Ground

Monday, June 20, 2016
Urban Milwaukee

It was two years ago that members of the grass-roots advocacy group Common Ground were researching foreclosed properties in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood. They discovered that a major holder of the mortgages was Nationstar and digging deeper, found that Nationstar was a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group, a company founded by Milwaukee Bucks owner Wes Edens, who was demanding a huge tax subsidy for a new arena. “We never imagined we would find such a close link between a Manhattan-based Bucks owner and Milwaukee’s housing crisis,” says Common Ground’s lead organizer Keisha Krumm...


Urban revitalization, East Baltimore, Calvin Keene, Memorial Baptist

BUILD Re-Shapes Market Dynamics For Baltimore Redevelopment

Thursday, February 4, 2016
Baltimore Sun

"Within days following the 2002 murders of the Dawson family, who were killed in retaliation for one member's testimony against area drug dealers, 400 people from Baltimoreans United in Leadership (BUILD) and the city's Oliver community stood in front of the Dawsons' firebombed home and vowed to not let those seven deaths be in vain. The group organized and made a strong commitment to changing the neighborhood. The result of that long process is now becoming evident and is highlighted in the current public debate over the impact of the mayor's Vacants to Value program, which uses the East Baltimore transformation as its blueprint.

Spearheaded by BUILD, local churches and residents partnered with city leaders and Reinvestment Fund, a community development organization with an approach to neighborhood revitalization that marries capital with data for strategic investment, to change Oliver. The joint effort was formalized as "TRF Development Partners" (DP), and focused on developing solutions to improve social mobility."


Bucks, Scott Walker, Wisconsin IAF, Community Organizing in Milwaukee

Bucks’ Owners Win, at Wisconsin’s Expense

Friday, August 14, 2015
New York Times

Not all Milwaukeeans gave the new owners a hug. Last year, Southeastern Wisconsin Common Ground — a fine coalition of churches, synagogues, mosques and community groups — surveyed the city’s pitted fields and dilapidated recreation centers and proposed that an arena bond issue should include money for Milwaukee’s playing fields. The group also pushed for a public referendum.


Bucks stadium, Foreclosure Prevention, Parks, Nationstar-Mortgage

Common Ground Calls Bucks Owner 'Billionaire Bully'

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Milwaukee-Wisconsin Sentinel Journal

About 100 members of Common Ground met in the City Hall lobby Wednesday, calling the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks "billionaire bullies" who neither need nor deserve public money to build a new downtown sports arena.

"I will call on all my neighbors, friends, church members and ask them to urge their elected officials to vote 'no,' " Common Ground member Jennifer O'Hare said.


Texas IAF, Community Organizing in the Rio Grande Valley, Socorro Perales

Valley Interfaith Shakes Up Pharr Election; Parks & Libraries at Stake

Monday, May 18, 2015
Rio Grande Guardian & Brownsville Herald

"In the recent Pharr City Commission election, Valley Interfaith leaders knew the races were likely to be close. They calculated that if they turned out their supporters and members, particularly in south Pharr, they could impact the election and thus have leverage on which policies get implemented.”


Nationstar CEO, Parks, Playgrounds, Stadiums

Nationstar Mortgage CEO to Meet with Common Ground

Thursday, May 14, 2015
Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee

Nationstar Mortgage CEO Jay Bray agreed on Thursday to come to Milwaukee and meet with representatives of Common Ground, a community group pressing the company to address blighted housing here.

Common Ground associate organizer Kathleen Patron said Bray made the commitment at the company's shareholders' meeting in Irving, Texas. A Nationstar Mortgage spokesman confirmed Bray would come to Milwaukee, but said details needed to be worked out.


Baltimore, Rebellion, Jobs, Public Safety, Training, Pastors

Baltimore Unrest Highlights City's Deprivation

Friday, May 1, 2015
Financial Times

After the global financial crisis hit in 2007, the small business that Mr Bey set up after his final jail stint ran into trouble. “I found myself falling backwards very quickly [and] drugs came back into my life.”

His situation remained bleak until he came across BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development), a group that helps people improve their housing, economic and schools environment. He started attending “Turnaround Tuesdays” meetings where Build taught him the skills and confidence to get a job.

 

Arena, Community Organizing in Milwaukee, stadium, Economic Development

Bucks Arena Financing Faces Tight Timetable... and Common Ground

Monday, April 13, 2015
Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee

....Then there is Common Ground, a community group that is opposed to the use of public money for the new arena. The group wants public money for improved playgrounds and recreational spaces in Milwaukee County.

Recently, Edens has been singled out. His Fortress Investment Group in New York largely owns Nationstar Mortgage, a mortgage-servicing company, and Common Ground said the firm is responsible for an undetermined number of blighted properties in the city. The group has demanded that Nationstar donate $25 million to the city to help rehabilitate foreclosed properties.

"We're taking the Nationstar issue very seriously," Curley said. "We hope to keep making progress with Nationstar."


Valley Interfaith, Organizing in the RGV, Texas IAF, Streets, Infrastructure, Fr. Atangana

Valley Interfaith Celebrates Their (Newly Paved) Streets

Sunday, March 29, 2015
Rio Grande Guardian & El Manana

When Valley Interfaith leader Monse Martinez first moved into Las Milpas he noticed the roads were in very bad conditions.  Says Martinez: “The potholes were destroying our vehicles.  But we started to get organized…talking about it in church, holding house meetings and demanding these roads get fixed.”


Wisconsin IAF, Community Organizing in Milwaukee, stadium, Foreclosures, mortgage serving Bucks stadium

Momentum for Bucks Arena Slows as Common Ground Steps Up

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Journal Sentinel

"The owners of the Bucks have never proven to anyone that they need public money. Nor do they deserve public money," said a statement by Jennifer O'Hear and Lloyd Johnson, who co-chair Common Ground's Fair Play campaign.

The nonpartisan community organization has been especially critical of Edens, whose Fortress Investment Group largely owns Nationstar, a nationwide mortgage-servicing company that the Common Ground says is responsible for hundreds of troubled and blighted properties in Milwaukee.

"We are morally outraged at the condition of Mr. Edens' properties," O'Hear and Johnson said. "Nationstar should be contributing money to the City of Milwaukee for the rehabilitation of deteriorating foreclosed properties."


Community Organizing in Bushwick, Metro IAF, New York IAF, Parks

700 EBC Leaders Rally for Neighborhood Park Upgrades

Monday, March 23, 2015
Bushwick Daily

No one can say Bushwick backs down without a fight. On Sunday afternoon, March 22, a crowd of 700 members of the community packed into the beautiful St. Barbara’s RC Church with a small but urgent list of demands that carry big consequences for our neighborhood, particularly for kids. I attended to see what was up.

Here’s the gist. The City is neglecting two public spaces in Bushwick...


TMO, Texas IAF, organizing in Houston, Public Transport, Metro Bus

TMO Leaders Push for Metro Bus System Overhaul

Friday, February 27, 2015
Houston Chronicle

Julia Ramirez, a regular Metro Bus system user, thinks there are four things that would make public transport more rider-friendly.  She teamed up with TMO leaders Franklin Olson and Rev. Kevin Collins to break it down. 


Food Desert, Kroger Grocery Closing, South Jackson, Mississippi IAF

Senators, Sheriff Join Working Together Jackson Re: Kroger Closing

Monday, February 16, 2015
Clarion Ledger

People from across the City of Jackson, including State Senators John Hohrn, David Blount and Solly Norwood, and Hinds County Sheriff Tyrone Lewis, joined Working Together Jackson‘s “We Care for South Jackson” Saturday morning rally... 


Development, school funding, Community Organizing in Baltimore, Maryland IAF

Developing Baltimore at the Expense of its Children

Friday, February 13, 2015
Baltimore Sun

Concerning the funding of Baltimore City schools, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's statement to Dan Rodricks last week on WYPR that "any TIFs and PILOTs have no impact on the wealth calculator" that helps determine state school funding is simply wrong. It defies most of the studies that have been done on this topic and the Baltimore Sun's recent investigative report.


Bucks, Tax Giveaway, Fair Play, Governor Walker, Common Ground, Milwaukee

Common Ground Calls Bucks Co-Owner Edens a "Slumlord"

Thursday, January 29, 2015
Journal Sentinel

Calling Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wes Edens a slumlord, leaders of the community organization Common Ground on Thursday demanded a meeting with him to discuss what to do about crumbling and deteriorating properties the group says he controls through a company largely owned by his investment firm.


Transit, Sales Tax, Infrastructure, Community Organizing in Vancouver

Metro Vancouver Alliance Fights for Improved Transit

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
News 1130

Metro Vancouver Alliance leaders piled into a church gym to develop a strategy to convince voters to pass a half cent sales tax that would pay fo needed improvements in local transit...


COPS / Metro Alliance, Andy Sarabia, Economic Incentives, Infrastructure, Flooding

At 40, COPS Still Standing Up for Residents

Sunday, December 7, 2014
San Antonio Express News

"COPS was founded by taxpaying citizens angry at the intentional neglect of our communities. We realized the answer to the power of money was the organized power of people. Our agenda focused on quality-of-life issues such as: health, education, jobs, wages and benefits, and neighborhood improvements..."


Durham CAN, North Carolina IAF, Community organizing in North Carolina

Durham CAN Celebrates Progress

Thursday, October 30, 2014
The Triangle Tribune

Kingdom Harvest Ministries Pastor Herbert R. Davis said CAN is here so that Durham can have a safer community, affordable places to call home, equal access to the transit system, and access to jobs and a livable wage.

“We are here because we recognize the power of collective people working for a united purpose,” he said. “So what you are about to see today is the process and the effort of a mediating institution that has negotiated with government and businesses in order to ensure that Durham becomes a better place, not just for those who are already at the table, but for those who don’t even know a table exists....”


Public Spending, Community Development, Economic Development, Parks

Common Ground Draws Line In The Sand Over Arena Spending vs. Parks

Sunday, October 19, 2014
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Members of the community group Common Ground on Sunday formally drew a line in the sand in opposition to the use of public money to finance a new, multipurpose arena in downtown Milwaukee.

And in a message to community leaders and Milwaukee Bucks owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry, the group made it clear it will fight to improve recreational facilities for children....


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