Fri Nov 16, 2018
OTOC Voter Education and Get Out the Vote Initiative Rallies Nebraska Voters to Expand Medicaid -OTOC

With access to health care on the line for 90,000 Nebraskans, OTOC leaders worked hard to expand Medicaid for those with no health insurance.  After efforts to secure enough votes to overcome a filibuster in the Nebraska Unicameral proved unsuccessful, OTOC partnered with allies in 2018 to secure a place on the November Midterm ballot for 'Initiative 427' as a way to secure Medicaid Expansion in Nebraska.  On November 6, 2018, the effort succeeded.

Over the course of the year, OTOC leaders mobilized 50 individuals who secured 3,500 signatures in the effort to get the initiative on the ballot.  OTOC organized 17 civic academies in Omaha congregations and public libraries to help build an educated constituency and, in efforts to educate the public, published seven Opeds, including four in the Omaha World Herald.  In the final days leading to the vote, the World Herald selected OTOC to counter final arguments by a team including the former Governor, Attorney General and a member of Koch Brothers Nebraska.  

Leaders testified at State hearings, leveraged commitments from winning Congressional candidates to protect Medicaid Expansion if Initiative 427 were to pass, and organized a fall accountability assembly in which all seven Unicameral candidates committed to implementing Medicaid expansion.    

Initiative 427 won with a margin of 41,594 votes statewide.  Counties where OTOC focused -- Douglas and Sarpy -- were critical to overcoming vote deficits elsewhere.  In Douglas County, alone, 111,630 residents voted FOR Initiative 427, approximately one third of the statewide total, and far exceeding the margin of victory.

OTOC leaders are now turning their attention to implementation of Medicaid expansion, to ensure it reaches those who most need it.  

Imperative That Nebraska Pass Initiative 427 and Expand Medicaid, Omaha World Herald

Medicaid for Public Health, Omaha World Herald

Complete report of OTOC Action, OTOC

Thu Nov 15, 2018
VOICE Leverages Pledges on Criminal Justice Reform from Virginia Governor and Attorney General -Metro IAF

October 21st: In Virginia, nearly 1,400 VOICE leaders turned out to a non-partisan action where Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring committed on issues of criminal justice reform, mental health resources in schools, affordable housing and immigration. VOICE won commitments from both Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring to lead with VOICE on reforming the Virginia cash bail system, and Herring released a legal memorandum outlining practical and constitutional concerns with the current system. The Governor also committed to convene a meeting in December with key Republicans and Democrats to strategize on how to decrease mass incarceration, and committed to ending the suspension of drivers licenses for people with unpaid court debt.

Northam and Herring both attended VOICE's non-partisan candidate forum in 2017 and returned this year for VOICE's 2018 accountability forum. The Governor showed recognition to VOICE's work on increasing the felony threshold level in the last year from $200-$500 dollars and winning a dedicated funding package for WMATA metro transportation saying, "That was because of you."

Thu Nov 15, 2018
GBIO Celebrates 20th Anniversary, Makes Strides on Local, State, and Federal Issues -Metro IAF

October 22nd: In Massachusetts, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization celebrated its 20th Anniversary by acting powerfully with 1,348 GBIO leaders in a non-partisan assembly. GBIO was recognized and made public agreements on an array of state, local, and even federal issues - affordable homeownership, healthcare, immigration, criminal justice reform, and local park investment-- from candidates and city officials.

Both District Attorney candidates for Suffolk County, Rachael Rollins-Democrat and  Mike Maloney-Independent reiterated their support for GBIO’s Criminal Justice Reform priorities: not charging mandatory minimums for drug sentences, not requesting bail, and improving data collection/transparency.  

Attorney General Maura Healey committed to meet with GBIO and Metro IAF clergy in the next 6 weeks regarding a campaign with States Attorneys General and Metro IAF to sue the federal government for the separation of immigrant families. Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez committed, without hesitation, $50M dollars for Homeownership programs for low-moderate income households to close the racial homeownership gap, if elected.

Thu Nov 15, 2018
Conect Engages CT Gubernatorial and Attorney General Candidates on Gun Violence, Immigration, Health Care, and Criminal Justice Reform -Metro IAF

 October 22nd: In Connecticut, more than 750 CONECT members turned out for the 2018 General Election Non-Partisan Candidate Assembly, where candidates for Governor, Attorney General and Treasurer attended and answered questions concerning CONECT's issue proposals on gun violence, immigration, health care/mental health and criminal justice reform issues. On criminal justice reform, CONECT asked candidates to commit to supporting "Clean Slate" legislation that would automatically expunge criminal records for formerly incarcerated people who have no further convictions after a specified period of time depending on whether the offense was a misdemeanor or felony. All candidates present committed to establishing a public working relationship with CONECT if elected, and agreed to an initial follow-up meeting within 60 days of being elected.

Thu Nov 15, 2018
Durham CAN Wins Commitments from All Judicial Candidates on Criminal Justice Reforms -Metro IAF

October 27th: In a packed non-partisan assembly in North Carolina that was standing room only, 600+ Durham CAN leaders held accountable candidates for District and Superior Court Judges and the District Attorney-elect on issues such as ending cash bail, court fines and fees, and a commitment that people with mental illness will not be sent to jail, among other criminal justice reform issues. Durham CAN also won commitments from the District Attorney and Sheriff that they would not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and that the District Attorney and Judges would provide interpreters at Court, and waive crushing fines for driving without a license. All of the judicial candidates who attended the action committed to to support Durham CAN's criminal justice agenda.

Wed Oct 31, 2018
Texas IAF Targets 19 Hottest State, Federal Races in State Suburbs -McClatchy & More

In a move to shift the makeup of the state legislature, Texas IAF organizations reached into suburbs surrounding Texas’ largest cities to assemble by the thousands in political, nonpartisan assemblies to help leaders wrest commitments from candidates for state and federal office. Having witnessed candidate responses to locally-developed agendas, which span from local control to Texas school finance and federal immigration reform, leaders are now mobilizing their neighbors to Get Out The Vote.

In North Dallas, for example, two thousand DAI leaders -- many from Carrollton and Farmers Branch -- invited candidates for House Districts 114, 115, 105 and 107, and Congressional District 32, to...

Tue Oct 30, 2018
IAF Responds to Tragedy in Pittsburgh -Metro IAF & West / Southwest IAF

The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) stands with the Jewish community in this time of tragedy, death, and fear. We condemn the horrific shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this weekend and urge a cessation of the heated political rhetoric that is giving rise to anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and violence around the country.

Just over three years ago, 9 members of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, also died practicing their faith. It is tragic that many faith communities are beginning to feel that they can only gather safely if they provide for armed deterrence from deadly acts of hate from guns and firearms. Houses of worship should not be places where people fear to assemble.

In the last 10 days, we have also seen a black man and woman killed in the Kentucky Kroger and numerous political and religious figures targeted for harm, including the mailing of explosive packages to numerous public officials. We denounce all these heinous acts and call for a response of justice and civility.

The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) is the nation’s oldest and largest non-partisan network of 75 Broad Based Community Organizations throughout the United States representing hundreds of thousands of families. We intentionally work in local areas to build a sense of greater community valuing diversity, pluralism, and acting together to build local democracy and public life. This week, we are supporting and organizing local gatherings and vigils of solidarity to stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters.

We know that the current polarized climate doesn’t have to be nor should it be normalized. We have demonstrated that people from diverse backgrounds can work together around common agendas that cross racial, ethnic, religious, political, gender and class divides. We are compelled to challenge all of us to stand with Jewish communities throughout the nation in this hour of horror and tragedy.

In this era of hyper-partisanship, we call upon our elected officials, from our nation’s capital to our local leaders, to work across party lines in a way that represents our interests and to stop using language that polarizes and encourages those who would use hate as a tool.

Over the long term, our work of organizing and community building for a common good continues. This requires tolerance and acceptance of disagreements from those with a broad spectrum of political and religious beliefs and traditions, and the acknowledgment that we are all responsible for forming a common public life.

We should never forget the words from the Book of Psalms:

Light shines in the darkness for the upright;
the righteous are merciful and full of compassion…
For they will never be shaken
the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance

Thu Sep 20, 2018
Cops, Priests Urge Smith & Wesson to Make Guns Safer -Bloomberg Business

“Law enforcement has some of the tools—but not all of them,” Acevedo said in a statement. “Our message to Mr. Debney and the other CEOs is, you have a leadership role to play too. We can’t do it without you.”

Manger and Acevedo’s letter received a statement of support from Do Not Stand Idly By, an organization made up of law enforcement leaders, medical and public health professionals and religious leaders to promote smart guns. In a SEC filing earlier this month, Smith & Wesson said it does not invest in research and development for smart gun technology because it does not believe such a product would interest consumers.

Thu Aug 9, 2018
COPS/Metro Gets $15 /Hour Living Wage into San Antonio Draft Budget -San Antonio Express-News

....For the first time in city history, the lowest-paid municipal workers are set to begin earning $15 an hour — a major victory for COPS/Metro Alliance, which has been advocating for a living wage for several years.

Thu Jul 26, 2018
TMO Leverages Commitment of First City in Texas for Gun Safety Strategy -Houston Public Media & CW39 Houston

At a gathering of 100 clergy and leaders from diverse faith communities at Congregation Beth Israel, TMO succeeded in leveraging the support of Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo, making Houston the first city in Texas to support the 'Do Not Stand Idly By' campaign for gun safety. 

The ceremonial signing was preceded by remarks by Rabbi Joel Mosbacher (Metro IAF), Mr. Ernesto Cortes Jr. (West / Southwest IAF), and Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo about the pressing need for an effective strategy.

Wed Jul 25, 2018
1,200 AIM Leaders Launch 'Get Out The Vote' Effort in Montgomery Co -Metro IAF

It was standing room only when AIM (link is external) leaders gathered to clarify the commitments of the County Executive Candidates to AIM's bold proposals for the future of Montgomery County. The AIM demands were developed over a year of listening sessions with 3000 people throughout the county and the focus was on specific community solutions.

The evening started with spirit as Pastor Haywood Robinson led those congregated in the song "It Will Get Better," and put forth AIM's analysis of the county. "Montgomery County is at a cross roads, with enormous changes in politics, population and economics. . . AIM has been part of governing this county for nearly 20 years and we are committed to a vision of a county where all people can thrive, regardless of race, income, age or economic status."

Wed Jul 25, 2018
Durham CAN Pressures City Council to Prioritize Affordable Housing -Metro IAF

Over 100 leaders pressured Durham City Council to prioritize affordable housing on over 4 acres of city-owned land in the heart of Downtown Durham. As a result, the mayor presented a proposal that reflected Durham CAN's top priority and included all of their demands: a minimum of 80 units of affordable housing for families under 60% AMI, including a commitment for a developer to work with the Durham Housing Authority to accept residents with vouchers. CAN won strong press coverage, including a front page story in the local newspaper.

Wed Jul 25, 2018
Maryland IAF Wins School Funding Commitments from State Legislators -Metro IAF

AIM, BUILD and PATH won commitments from twelve Maryland state delegates and senators and three candidates to pass and fully fund the Kirwan Commission recommendations. The Kirwan Commission, which brings together representatives from across Maryland to make recommendations for improving education in the state, is set to issue a once-in-a-generation plan for fully funding schools - a $3 billion increase across the state if it is passed and funded in the 2019 legislative session.

Wed Jul 25, 2018
VOICE Secures Mayoral Candidate Pledges on Affordable Housing -Metro IAF
VOICE (link is external) and ARHA Resident Association Leaders presented the VOICE Issue Agenda in the context of the racial history of Old Town Alexandria. Following the presentation of 1,400+ voter pledge cards, VOICE received commitments from both mayoral candidates to work with VOICE on the following:
  • Working to enforce the affordable housing parameters set in the Housing Master Plan
  • Strengthening Resolution 830 to ensure preservation of public housing in the city
  • Ensuring a culture in public housing that encourages resident participation in the decision making of public housing
  • Increasing equity in public schools around suspension rates
  • Researching city contractors and sub-contractors to ensure that all people who work in the city can live in the city....

Mon Jul 16, 2018
Episcopal Convention endorses DNSIB principles, advocates gun company investments

resolution by Western Massachusetts Episcopal Bishop Douglas Fisher on investing in gun manufacturers and retailers as a form of shareholder advocacy was approved July 12 by the House of Bishops during the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Convention in Austin, Texas.

Fisher said in a statement that referenced student gun safety rallies at gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson's Springfield headquarters in the aftermath of the recent Florida school shootings that such investment advocacy will give the Church "a voice at the table" and as a shareholder "more difficult to refuse."

Thu Jul 5, 2018
NYCHA Nightmare: Creeping Black Mold Throughout Public Housing Apt. -New York Daily News

When police entered the ninth-floor public housing apartment of 83-year-old Mary Ellison last winter in the Haber Houses in Coney Island, they beheld a gothic nightmare: thick black mold covering the walls and ceiling throughout the apartment.

EMTs were summoned and Ellison was immediately removed from the Brooklyn apartment and transported to nearby Coney Island Hospital....


Mon May 28, 2018
Chicago Sun Times Endorses 'Do Not Stand Idly By' Agenda -Chicago Sun Times

If a gun shop does a lousy job of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, police officers shouldn’t buy their guns from those shops.

If a gun-maker allows its guns to be sold at those lousy shops, the police shouldn’t buy those makes of guns.

And if a gun manufacturer does a lousy job of making guns that are childproof and useless to thieves, the cops should pass on buying those guns, too

This is about following the money. One potentially effective strategy to reduce gun violence in Chicago and our nation, though underused, is to put the squeeze on gun-makers and dealers to make safer guns and better regulate their sale. And the way to put the squeeze on them is to threaten their profits....

Mon May 21, 2018
WIN Organizes for Immigrant Legal Services, Affordable Housing -Metro IAF

On April 25th Washington Interfaith Network (link is external) (WIN) packed the basement of Sacred Heart Catholic Church with 304 leaders and 6 candidates vying for Council Member of Ward 1 in D.C. Sacred Heart is the largest immigrant church in DC and the turnout reflected that diversity. The action was WIN’s first attempt at doing an action in both English and Spanish, using 300 interpretation headsets. Demands were made for $2.5 million to expand legal assistance for immigrants, to build affordable housing on a piece of land owned by the National Parks Service, and to take on a slum landlord in the neighborhood.....

Thu May 17, 2018
Jersey City Together Demands Action on Rent Control, Code Enforcement -Hudson County View

Advocacy group Jersey City Together, along with Mayor Steven Fulop and other officials, announced aggressive rent control enforcement actions for tenants and landlords, during Tuesday’s open forum at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.....

Fri May 11, 2018
Byron & Mosbacher: How We Got the Gun Industry to Reckon its Deadly Toll -NY Daily News

Earlier this week in the Arizona desert, the shareholders of a major American gun company took a modest step toward responsibly addressing the unacceptable levels of gun-related deaths and crime in our nation. Shareholders of Sturm, Ruger & Co. passed a resolution requiring the company to issue a report on its actions to mitigate harm associated with its products.

The resolution was drafted and introduced by leaders of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) — with the support of Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (Metro IAF) — at the company's shareholders' meeting Wednesday in Prescott, Ariz. Management asked shareholders to vote against it. A team of religious and civic leaders from our groups, who have purchased Sturm Ruger shares, was there urging a "yes" vote and seeking dialogue with CEO Christopher Killoy....


Thu May 10, 2018
Sturm Ruger Will Track Gun Violence, After Shareholders Back Resolution -National Public Radio

....When a call for remarks went out, a shareholder, the Rev. J. Michael Solberg — a pastor in Hinsdale, Ill., who is also a leader in the community and faith collective Metro IAF's Do Not Stand Idly By campaign — spoke up.

Solberg took exception to Ruger's initial response to the proposal, quoting the board's assertion that gun violence is "not so much a public health crisis but rather a law enforcement issue."

More than 120 leaders of police forces, cities and states disagree with that idea, Solberg said, citing a document signed by those leaders who say gun violence is a broad problem. He then asked the company's leadership to meet with him and his group "to be part of the solution to a broad-based problem."....

Sun Mar 4, 2018
NYT: When the Dollar is Mightier Than the Gun -New York Times

Gun violence is not an abstract concept for Rabbi Joel Mosbacher. His father, Lester, was shot dead in 1999 as he opened up his check-cashing business on Chicago’s South Side. Rabbi Mosbacher, who had been ordained just six months earlier, struggled to make sense of the murder, even as well-meaning friends struggled to find words of comfort and support.

“Some were helpful, others less so,” he recalled. “Someone said ‘This will make you a better rabbi.’ Well, I’d rather be a terrible rabbi and have my father back.”

A young man who had run errands for his father was arrested and tried for the murder, but was ultimately acquitted. For years, Rabbi Mosbacher quietly dealt with his family’s grief. But five years ago he started telling his story as part of a national campaign by clergy and civic-minded residents to enlist public officials — whose law enforcement agencies are major gun buyers — to press gun makers into developing safer technology and crack down on dealers whose weapons end up in criminal hands.

Tue Feb 27, 2018
CONECT Responds to Claims by National Shooting Sports Foundation -Connecticut Post

Lawrence G. Keane is supposed to represent the gun manufacturers and retailers who pay his salary. With his wildly inaccurate attack on us and our network of citizens’ organizations (‘Smart Gun’ technology can’t be forced on law enforcement or public,” Conn. Post, Feb. 20, 2018) he does his patrons a disservice; he misses a rare chance to find common ground with Americans who stand outside of the gun industry’s ever-narrowing circle of wagons.

Mon Feb 26, 2018
Long Island Congregations: An Opioid Superfund to Save Lives -NY Daily News

In recent weeks, what almost everyone has acknowledged to be a national crisis — the deaths of 64,000 Americans from drug overdoses in 2016 alone, more American deaths than in the entire Vietnam War — has begun to get the attention a national crisis deserves.

The President, in his 2019 proposed budget, requested $5 billion to combat the opioid epidemic — a pittance compared to the scale of the problem, but perhaps a sign that the administration now recognizes the need to act. Purdue Pharma, whose aggressive marketing got many Americans hooked on opioid pain pills in the first place, announced that it would stop promoting OxyContin to doctors and would cut its sales staff in half....

Wed Feb 21, 2018
Valley Interfaith Fights for DACA, Sends 10,000 Cards to Congress -Rio Grande Guardian & More

Wielding 10,000 signed postcards to Congressional Representatives and scriptural passages on the subject, Valley Interfaith leaders and Catholic Bishop Daniel E. Flores  forcefully called on Congress to protect DREAMers as they decide the future of DACA.

“The Bible is clear,” declared  Msgr. Heriberto Diaz of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Brownsville.  “We are to welcome the immigrant, as we were once immigrants in a foreign land.”

Bishop Flores emphasized, “Young people are not statistics…not just numbers…they are young people with hopes and dreams.”