Press

Press

Tue Aug 8, 2017
Texas Standard Covers Story of EPISO Success in Colonias -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]

Mon Jul 31, 2017
PCI Secures Council Pledges to Double JobPath Funding -Tucson.com

125 Pima County Interfaith resident leaders of Ward 3 Tucson assembled and secured commitments from primary candidates Felicia Chew, Paul Durham and Tom Tronsdal.  The session was organized by Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization, Southern Arizona Interfaith (SAI) and Literacy Connects.  All three candidates pledged to support keeping Tucson an Immigrant Welcoming city, to support PCI efforts to fight SPICE and other drugs in Ward 3, and to meet with the organizations if elected.

Candidates Chew and Tronsdal committed to increasing funding for KidCo and JobPath, keeping low-income bus fares at their current level, and protecting the number of bus routes.

Attendees committed to vote, get others to vote, and to knock on doors in Ward 3 neighborhoods.  Two “Neighbor to Neighbor – Walk & Call” sessions have already been scheduled.

Fri Jul 28, 2017
Brooklyn Leaders Want NYPD to Put Lock on Glock, Stop Illegal Gun Flow -Spectrum News 1
Church leaders and parishioners packed the St Paul Community Baptist Church in East New York Thursday night not only to gather and pray but also as a call to action. The religious network East Brooklyn Congregations made a list of demands for their invited guest, Police Commissioner James O'Neil.
 
"We want guns out of our communities," said Rev. Steven Carter of East Brooklyn Congregations.
 
They presented a plan of action...

Thu Jul 27, 2017
Together Louisiana Reminds Sen. Cassidy of Medicaid Promise -The Advocate & More

To the surprise of many, both Louisiana Senators voted in favor of two health care measures that would roll back Medicaid funding.  In response, Together Louisiana publicly reminded one of the Senators of his Medicaid promises:

“Sen. (Bill) Cassidy has shown, in a way that has been refreshing and sometimes surprising, intelligence, thoughtfulness, content knowledge and compassion in his assessments of the realities of the health care bills as they’ve worked their way through the House and the Senate.  He has said in many occasions and many different forms, in small settings and large settings, including face to face interviews and to members of Together Louisiana, that he would not support the Senate bill in the current form because it was too devastating an effect on individual people and on health care markets. And yesterday he voted for that bill....”

Wed Jul 26, 2017
In Boston, GBIO Leaders Secure New Ally on Criminal Justice Reform -Metro IAF
On June 28th, GBIO leaders completed a city-wide In-District Meeting with State Senator Linda Doreen Forry, securing her commitment to support reform around solitary confinement, an issue she did not formerly support.
 
When Forry argued that local county sheriffs think the reform would threaten the safety of inmates, constituents won Forry’s support by countering that, in fact, the use of solitary confinement itself represented a threat to inmates’ safety and mental health, by keeping inmates locked up 23 hours a day for extended periods, in cells the size of a parking spot.
 
The meeting with Senator Forry was the 8th of 9 In-District meetings organized since May 2017 as part of GBIO’s Criminal Justice Reform Campaign. The campaign builds support for 4 legislative priorities: Repeal of Mandatory Minimums for Drug Offenses, Pretrial and Bail Reform, Reduction/Elimination of Excessive Fees and Fines for Returning Citizens, and Elimination of Excessive Use of Solitary Confinement without Oversight and Data Collection.
 
Since May, GBIO has trained 60 congregational leaders, who have planned and organized meetings with over 15 legislators. Following the success of these In-District meetings, 30 leaders have been trained to extend GBIO’s efforts outside of Boston districts.

Wed Jul 26, 2017
Faith-Based Group Leans on Alexandria Council for Affordable Housing -Washington Post
An increasingly powerful coalition of faith-based activists won a commitment from a majority of the Alexandria City Council on Tuesday to increase support for public housing and affordable housing in the city.
 
About 200 supporters and members of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) jammed St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Alexandria to call for stronger commitments and more money to house lower-income residents who increasingly find themselves priced out of areas once affordable to them...

Fri Jul 21, 2017
One LA, with Mayor, Sheriff, Takes on Housing & Immigration -Angelus

500 One LA delegates from 28 member institutions assembled to hold themselves, and elected officials, accountable on a Sunday afternoon in July.  Delegates ratified a new strategy team, updated the bylaws, and pledged increased dues.

In response to compelling stories, and the presence of hundreds of delegates,  Mayor Eric Garcetti committed to working with One LA on concrete solutions to the affordable housing crisis, including a proposed linkage fee that would generate $75 Million per year towards affordable housing construction.  Garcetti not only became the first mayor of a major city to sign on to the national IAF-initiated “Do Not Stand Idly By” campaign for safer guns, he additionally pledged to persuade other mayors to sign on.

After several young people shared stories about their immigration experience, the President of the LAUSD school board, Ref Rodriguez, pledged to support One LA and the Superintendent’s efforts to create ways for the district to provide support to young “newcomers” (recent immigrant arrivals & unaccompanied minors).

Regarding the treatment of 190,000 immigrant victims of crime (mostly women and children) who qualify for and are awaiting U-visas, Sheriff Jim McDonnell committed to working with One LA and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to place a stay on their deportations.  U-visas are reserved for victims of crimes who are wiling to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

Additional officials in attendance who pledged their support included:  LA City Attorney Mike Feuer; Mitch Katz, director of LA County Health Services; LA Police Deputy Chief Robert Arcos; and Bishop David O’Connell, San Gabriel Region of the Archdiocese.

Wed Jul 19, 2017
Spokane Alliance Secures Support for Mental Health Facility -Spokesman Review

At present, if a mentally ill person commits a crime in Spokane, the only places to send them are either the ER or jail.  After three years of work, Spokane Alliance leaders secured political support for a proposal they developed — the construction of a mental health stabilization facility to which individuals meeting certain criteria can be referred for short term treatment.

The Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council voted to approve a plan to build the facility in 2018.

Additional background

Tue Jul 18, 2017
FRVI Pressures Batavia City Council to Accept Mixed Income Housing -Metro IAF & Kane County Chronicle

The Fox River Valley Initiative is fighting diligently to secure 8 YES votes for 80 units of mixed income housing in the city of Batavia, IL. 64 of the units would be affordable and 8 used for people with disabilities. At a recent housing forum, 140 people attended, with only 15 voices against the new development. 

Mon Jul 17, 2017
700 DAI Leaders Clarify Impact of SB4 with Dallas Police -Dallas Morning News & A Dia Dallas

Before a packed audience of 700 leaders of Dallas Area Interfaith, and on the one-year anniversary of the shooting that took the lives of five police officers, Dallas Area Interfaith continued the public conversation about community relationships with the police in the context of SB4.  In response to stories about immigrants fearful of reporting crimes they’ve witnessed to the police, Dallas Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly announced, “This is evidence of why SB4 is bad.”

Assistant Police Chief Gary Tittle was asked to clarify how SB4 could work, given  police need for witnesses and victim cooperation and the real fears immigrants have of reporting.  Tittle explained that crime victims, witnesses and people calling 911 are exempt from questions about immigration status.

The assembly took place even as Dallas Police Department interviews for a new police chief are underway.  Said Minister Jonathan Morrison of Cedar Crest Church of Christ, and DAI representative on the interviewing panel, “I think there is always progress anytime there can be first real dialog and conversation and when communities can begin to share of their struggles and we begin to see commonality in our struggles.”

Religious leaders of DAI are working to develop a relationship of mutual accountability with the Dallas Police Department to address fears faced by all sides.

[Photo Credit: Ron Baselice, Dallas Morning News]

North Texas Religious Leaders Step Up to Speak Out Against State’s SB4 Immigration LawDallas  Morning News

Inmigrantes Buscan Refugio en sus Iglesias Por Temor a Leyes Migratorias Como SB4Al Dia Dallas

Dallas Police Chief Candidates in Town for InterviewsFOX News

Dallas Police Asst. Chief Gary Tittle Responds to Question About SB4Diane Solis – Dallas Morning News

DAI Leaders Commit to Working with PoliceAllison Harris – FOX 4 News

Wed Jul 12, 2017
Pugh Defends Approach to Baltimore Crime, BUILD Responds -Baltimore Sun

....The Rev. Andrew Foster Connors, co-chairman of the advocacy group Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, said Pugh should make her crime plan available for the public to review.

 
Foster Connors, senior pastor of Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church, said “there is a disturbing attitude coming from her right now that she can handle everything, she can do it alone, others don't need to question her.”
 
"This is a crisis,” he said. “Let's all come together and develop a plan. If she has a crime-reduction plan, the public doesn’t know about it. BUILD hasn’t been apprised of any crime reduction plan that’s coming from the mayor’s office, or any plan to address the unprecedented surge in homicides.
 
“Many of us in the community would like to be engaged in that."...

Fri Jun 23, 2017
Nevada Faith Leaders: Don't Cut Medicaid -Nevada Independent
As leaders of the interfaith community and Nevadans for the Common Good, we understand “true worship is to work for justice and care for the poor and oppressed” (Isaiah 58: 5-7).
 
For this reason, we are deeply concerned about how proposed cuts to Medicaid would affect the most vulnerable in our community. Medicaid provides life sustaining health care for more than 600,000 Nevadans, including children, pregnant women, the elderly, veterans, the working poor, and persons with disabilities.
 
Equal access to adequate health care affirms the dignity of every person. Medicaid coverage includes ...

Thu Jun 22, 2017
Together Baton Rouge Targets US Senator Cassidy Re: Medicaid -Together Baton Rouge
Arguing that Louisiana would be big loser in Senate swap of health coverage for tax cuts, Together Baton Rouge leaders circulated a video featuring one of Senator Cassidy's constituents.  
 
April Blackburn voted for Bill Cassidy for his 2014 US Senate race. She met Senator Cassidy in person earlier in the year, where he assured her that he only would support a health bill if it assured that "families like hers would be taken care of" and would not "fall through the cracks."
 
April's three year-old daughter has leukemia. Her chemotherapy costs over $1 million. They are one of the families who could lose coverage from the proposed Medicaid cuts....

Mon Jun 19, 2017
Arizona Interfaith: Restructuring Medicaid Will Cause Irreversible Harm -Scottsdale Independent

Beware Arizona. The potential restructuring of Medicaid, as approved by the House and undergoing secretive deliberations in the Senate, will cause irreversible harm.

Close to 500,000 Arizonans will lose health care coverage, endangering lives and undermining an open public process.

As clergy leaders with the Arizona Interfaith Network, we are profoundly concerned that the proposed changes under the American Health Care Act would affect virtually every dimension of family life, especially for middle and lower income families.

From caring for people in our congregations, we know that Medicaid saves lives….

Tue Jun 13, 2017
Jersey City Together Works to Prevent a Toxic Deal for Jersey City -nj.com

On Monday, June 12, about 50 Jersey City Together leaders launched a campaign to ensure the Bayfront Development, a 100-acre site owned by Honeywell International & the City of Jersey City on the west side, serves the real needs of the city, particularly local jobs & affordable housing.

Wed Jun 7, 2017
One LA Fights for Affordable Housing in the San Fernando Valley -One LA

As a way to act on the extraordinary pressures they experience around housing, San Fernando Elementary school leaders (including twenty parents and their Principal, Maria Awakian) and One LA’s education team testified before the San Fernando City Council.

Publicly speaking for the very first time, three parents shared how 1 of 8 children in San Fernando area schools experience some degree of homelessness, often resulting in disruptions of academic progress and difficulties in staying awake for class....

Tue Jun 6, 2017
Durham CAN Wins $4M for Affordable Housing -IndyWeek
The Durham City Council on Monday night approved a $4.162 million grant that will allow the Durham Housing Authority to buy back twenty acres of vacant land known as Fayette Place.
 
The money will come from the city’s general fund and can only be used to acquire the land and maintain it until it is sold or developed.
 
Development Ventures Incorporated, a real estate development company controlled by the Housing Authority, and Campus Apartments, which currently owns the land, have agreed to close on the deal no later than June 16.... 

Sun Jun 4, 2017
Together Louisiana, State Assessors Team Up to Defeat Tax Giveaway -Weekly Citizen

At a Senate committee hearing last week, Together Louisiana and the state’s assessors teamed up to deal an unlikely defeat to a proposed constitutional amendment backed by one of the most well-funded lobbying drives of the current legislative session.

House Bill 444 would have opened the door to a major new category of corporate tax exemption and had the backing, not only of the major players in the corporate subsidy lobby, but also of most of the state’s associations representing local officials and even of the Governor, who was working actively to support the bill....

Fri Jun 2, 2017
CONECT Demands Police Reforms Following Fatal Shooting of 15-Yr Old -FOX Channel 61 & ctpost
A dozen CONECT Clergy and Lay leaders gathered at the site of 15 year-old Jayson Negron's fatal shooting by a Bridgeport Police Officer with several of Jayson’s family members (his sister, aunt and cousin) to call for 1) a timely and transparent investigation, 2) the use of body and dash cameras by the Bridgeport Police Department, and 3) the prioritization of de-escalation and racial/cultural sensitivity training for all Bridgeport police officers.
 
CONECT called on Mayor Ganim, Police Chief Armando Perez, and State's Attorney Platt to meet with CONECT on these issues. Depending on the progress of the investigation and what it shows, CONECT may call for other changes in the future as well.
 

Wed May 24, 2017
Lake County United Celebrates Completion of Fairhaven Crossing -Lake County United

Lake County United identified the land, secured the site, established a development team, and built the community support for a 40-unit affordable housing complex in Mundelein, IL. Over 300 Lake County United leaders gathered to celebrate the opening of Fairhaven Crossing, which will give everyone, including residents with disabilities, the opportunity to live as independently as possible. The unit includes a community center and computer room.

Wed May 24, 2017
Southern Arizona Interfaith Passes SPICE Ordinance in Tucson -Arizona Daily Star & Tucson News Now

Fresh from a state legislative victory allowing the criminalization of SPICE, Southern Arizona Interfaith leaders succeeded in persuading local policy makers to pass a city ordinance against the nasty synthetic drug.  Tucson City councilmembers listened intently as leader Christina Crawford described how SPICE gave her son seizures and spasms, and as Msgr. Raul Trevizo and other leaders described finding vomiting and passed out youth on St. John the Evangelist church grounds.

Councilmembers praised the team for their persistence over 18 months, before unanimously voting to include the new chemical in a Tucson drug ordinance.  Reporters recorded the standing ovation Southern Arizona Interfaith leaders delivered to the Council upon passage of the ordinance.

Said leader Lorena Santos, “Look what we can do when we work together!  This is just the beginning!”

Tucson City Leaders Pass SPICE OrdinanceTucson News Now

Tucson In a Cat-and-Mouse Fight Against Nasty Synthetic DrugArizona Daily Star [pdf]

Sat May 20, 2017
The True Toughness Jeff Sessions Must Show -NY Daily News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is sending a message to America: He’s going to be tough on crime.

To those of us who live, work and pastor in the killing fields of Baltimore, or Cleveland or Chicago, or the former killing fields of the South Bronx or East Brooklyn, that could be good news. We’ll see....

Tue May 16, 2017
Meals On Wheels Waiting Lists Could Be a Thing of the Past -The Nevada Independent

A year-long campaign aimed at feeding more homebound Nevada seniors — and ensuring that the 1,126 people on the waiting list start getting service — appears to be bearing fruit.

After Gov. Brian Sandoval called for putting $1.5 million in additional state funds towards Meals on Wheels programs over the next two years, lawmakers took preliminary steps last week to more than double that investment in a bid to eliminate the current waiting list. A joint Assembly and Senate subcommittee’s vote to put $3.4 million toward home-delivered meals is a first step that could be cemented when full money committees finalize their budgets in coming weeks.

“We’re very, very excited and happy about the subcommittee’s recommendation,” said....

Sun May 7, 2017
Grassroots Activists Call for $1B in Annual Metro Funding & Have a Plan -Washington Post

Several faith- and community-based organizations say Metro needs $1 billion a year in dedicated funding, and they’ve come up with a proposal that includes a mix of sales, gas and property taxes that leaders say will beef up service levels and preserve jobs while addressing the system’s long-term needs.

Scores of grass-roots activists with the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation packed a downtown church Sunday to rally support and present the plan — a medley of investment and savings proposals without the labor concessions sought by Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld and politicians...

Sat May 6, 2017
COPS/Metro, with Bexar Sheriff & Judge, Rallies Vs. Anti-Immigrant Bill -San Antonio Express-News

On Friday, COPS/Metro leaders stood with Bexar County and San Antonio elected leaders calling on Governor Abbott to not sign SB 4 (“sanctuary cities” bill) into law.  Speakers against the bill included Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, County Judge Nelson Wolff and state Sen. Jose Menendez.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff argued that the bill would increase costs to the county and distract law enforcement efforts from addressing local violent crime.

‘What’s going to happen?’ he asked, as he predicted no officer would ask ‘an Anglo guy’ in a ‘two-piece suit’ for his papers but instead would target ‘the person with brown skin.’

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