Press

Press

Mon May 27, 2013
Interfaith Group Takes Leading Role In Political, Civic Issues -Hartford Courant

Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut has played advocate for social and economic justice since the nonpartisan interfaith group's founding in November 2011.

Most recently, CONECT successfully pushed for legislation to enable undocumented immigrants to acquire driver's licenses. The group argued the move would not only allow undocumented immigrants to feel secure driving their kids to and from school and themselves to and from work, but would benefit all motorists because immigrants would have to be tested on their driving skills and would be able to register their cars and buy insurance.

Sun May 26, 2013
Yuma County Clergy Fight for Immigration Reform & Medicaid -Yuma Sun

Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas joined nearly 100 members of churches of different denominations from the area who gathered … to organize a campaign in favor of not only a new immigration law but also efforts of Gov. Jan Brewer to expand the state’s health program for the poor: the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS).

Wed May 22, 2013
Could Medicaid expansion decrease drug court costs, save local taxpayer dollars? Cleveland judge says yes. -Cleveland Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge David Matia estimates that area residents could save millions in local taxes if the offenders he sees in drug court had health insurance.
And if Ohio were to expand Medicaid, as being debated by state legislators, many of the defendants in his court would qualify for the state and federal health insurance program for the poor.... As the clock ticks on a decision, local lobbying for expansion has stepped up: On Monday, community activists held a rally at the Neighborhood Family Practice Center, a federally qualified community health center on Cleveland's West Side. In addition, Greater Cleveland Congregations announced that dozens of volunteers from area religious organizations and neighborhood groups will go door to door in the legislative swing districts of Rocky River, Berea and Solon this week to urge people to contact their legislators. 

Mon May 20, 2013
School facilities bill grew from grass roots -Baltimore Sun

Michael Dresser got it right in describing the trajectory of the Baltimore school facilities bill as going from "non-starter to law," but the story goes far beyond the elected and appointed officials who worked hard to make the deals and shepherd the legislation to passage ("City schools bill a political showpiece," May 17).

The deeper story must include the herculean efforts of the Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC), the innovative policy advocacy work done by the ACLU of Maryland and the powerful community organizing of groups like BUILD and Child First. Our elected officials don't do this by themselves. They were propelled to act by the incredible urgency and public will created by the BEC. BEC made the problem of broken-down, substandard schools real, laid out a vision for a solution and created the imperative so elected officials had to act.

Over the last three years, BEC organized hundreds of meetings in schools, neighborhoods and churches to train and mobilize leaders. Coalition members held dozens of meetings with elected officials, gaining commitments that decent school buildings would be their number one priority for 2013. BEC organized huge rallies in Annapolis including February's 3,000-person rally for new and renovated schools.

Mon May 6, 2013
Weighing IDs For Illegal Immigrants -Wall Street Journal

Connecticut Democrats are rallying around a plan that would allow people who are in the U.S. illegally to get driver's licenses, making the state one of several to consider the idea this year.... The plan's advocates say it would ensure these immigrants are given proper driving tests and allow them to get car insurance. The proposal could also provide additional state revenue from registration fees and car taxes. "This is a population that has been here for many years and must drive to conduct their lives, and bringing them into the system will benefit the general public," said the Rev. James Manship, co-chairman of Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, a coalition of religious groups.

Mon May 6, 2013
800 Arizona Leaders Renew Call for Expanded Medicaid with Governor -Ahwatukee Foothills News

Meeting city, state, faith and education leaders on Thursday, [Republican] Sen. John McComish, of District 18, voiced his continued support for Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to expand Medicaid in the state at a panel hosted by the Valley Interfaith Project (VIP)…..McComish and [Republican State] Rep. Heather Carter, of District 15, pushed the expansion that would give Medicaid to about 300,000 low-income Arizona residents.

West / Southwest IAF

Fri May 3, 2013
Opinion: On stop-and-frisk, both sides are wrong -New York Daily News

New York City’s unprecedented crime reduction has been remarkable for its scale and persistence. But our city has the bad habit of either taking its successes for granted or losing sight of why and how progress was made. Both supporters and critics of recent police practices — stop-and-frisk in particular — have repeated these mistakes. Supporters incorrectly hold the tactic responsible for building a safer city; critics would have us sacrifice the effective response of the NYPD at the altar of reform.

Wed May 1, 2013
Project IOWA Celebrates One Year of Success -Des Moines Register

Douglas Wells’ path to a well-paying job with potential for advancement had a few bumps, but the 27-year-old credits perseverance and a publicly and privately funded training and mentoring program with helping him reach his goal....

Wed May 1, 2013
OTOC Fights for $1 Million in Housing Demolition in Omaha -KETV

Omaha Together One Community wants both candidates to commit $1 million a year to the problem.  The city has 748 houses on its demolition list. On average, it costs the city about $12,000 to knock down a house -- but neighbors say it’s worth every penny.

West / Southwest IAF

Mon Apr 29, 2013
Connecticut General Assembly expected to let undocumented immigrants drive legally -New Haven Register

HARTFORD — The leadership of the General Assembly says the votes are there and they expect to pass a bill this session that would offer driver’s licenses to undocumented residents, citing reasons including training, insurance, revenue and safety.... CONECT, or Congregations for a New Connecticut, which represents some 28 different faith communities in the state, has lobbied hard for the changes since January, making arguments on the economic benefits of insuring all drivers and bringing new revenues to the state, but mainly on the safety aspect.

Sun Apr 28, 2013
EPISO & Border Interfaith Join to Challenge School Board and Council Candidates -El Paso Times

“More than 600 people turned out on Sunday to hear more than 30 city and school board candidates speak at a joint forum put on by the El Paso Inter-religious Sponsoring Organization and Border Interfaith.”
 

City Council candidates were challenged to invest in workforce development program Project ARRIBA, and complete quality of life and neighborhood infrastructure projects within the already established 7-year time frame.  Because El Paso public schools mandate standardized testing at least once (and sometimes twice) per week, school board candidates were challenged to reduce the number of standardized tests by 50%.  Candidates were also asked to commit to a more equitable way of funding the arts than simply asking parents of participating students to shoulder the cost.  

[Photo Credit: Mark Lambie/El Paso Times]

Thu Apr 25, 2013
Houston Clergy Fight for Immigration Reform -Jewish Herald Voice

Calling for humane immigration reform grounded in civil and human rights, some 40 Houston-area clergy came to the bimah at Congregation Beth Israel on April 23 to urge support for a bipartisan Senate immigration bill. In a press conference organized by The Metropolitan Organization, the religious leaders applauded the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744)...

West / Southwest IAF

Mon Apr 22, 2013
Common Ground backs plan to update school athletic facilities -Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Members of Common Ground, a community organization of churches, small businesses, nonprofits and neighborhood groups, on Sunday soundly backed a new initiative to upgrade school athletic facilities in Milwaukee County. The initiative is called the Fair Play Campaign. In a statement backed by more than 450 delegates, the group said it would propose designating a minimum of $150 million from any public financing plan for a new multipurpose arena to replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The funds would be used to upgrade Milwaukee County public school athletic facilities and recreational spaces. "Today we are changing the conversation about how our monies are spent and what our priorities are," said Jennifer O'Hear, a parent of three children, two of whom are enrolled in the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Mon Apr 22, 2013
At Dorchester church, faith leaders, political candidates call for peace, unity in wake of marathon bombings -The Boston Globe

 

Area spiritual leaders from several religions and local political candidates gathered at Saint Mark Parish in Dorchester on Sunday evening to show support and unity after a sequence of brutal violence over the past week.

More than 500 people – a blend of Christians, Jews and Muslims – packed the basement of the century-old Catholic church to pray, reflect, sing and rally together.

Led by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, the event also drew candidates running for the US Senate seat vacated by John Kerry and others eyeing the First Suffolk District State Senate seat vacated by John A. Hart Jr.

Planning for the event began several weeks ago. Organizers said they originally intended to ask the candidates to explain their positions on key issues, including gun violence, youth programming, immigration and health care.

But after two deadly bombings on Marathon Monday followed by a manhunt Thursday and Friday that left one police officer dead and another wounded, the forum’s agenda changed.

Fri Apr 19, 2013
Father's Murder Drives a Rabbi's Pursuit of Gun Control -The New York Times
In the months after his father’s murder in early 1999, those months stretching formlessly between the mourning ritual of shiva and the impending trial of a suspect, Rabbi Joel Mosbacher received many messages of solace. There was one type, however, that tested every atom of clerical forbearance he possessed....

Fri Apr 19, 2013
Ohio House keeps Medicaid discussion going -Cleveland Plain Dealer

COLUMBUS, Ohio --Ohio's Medicaid expansion is down, but not out.  House Republicans kept alive the possibility that Ohio may expand its Medicaid program to cover the working poor, approving an amendment to its budget that could open the door to changes later this year.... The amendment drew praise from Greater Cleveland Congregations, one of several groups that organized a rally outside the Statehouse last week urging lawmakers to support extending Medicaid. "The fact that this amendment passed with in a near-unanimous bipartisan vote shows that the legislature listened to the overwhelming outpouring of public support from Ohioans over the past 10 days, and wants to keep the conversation moving forward," Ari Lipman, lead organizer for the coalition, said in a statement. "Our diverse coalition will continue to work with House leadership, the Senate, and Governor Kasich through the budget process to achieve the best outcome for Ohio."

 

Fri Apr 5, 2013
Project Iowa Gives Workers Stability and Dignity -Des Moines Register

 “Jalissa Daniels wrote dark poetry as an early adolescent…She became pregnant at 15, graduated from Scavo Alternative High School and worked at convenient stores and temp agencies. Even though these jobs helped pay the bills, they were not fulfilling…Finding full-time work with benefits was looking grim…  The[n] Rev. Diane McClanahan, one of the pastors at Trinity United Methodist Church, encouraged Jalissa to consider a new program called Project IOWA, which was initiated by AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy)….”

West / Southwest IAF

Mon Apr 1, 2013
Community fights ruin from forclosure -CNN

A terrific profile of VOICE's anti-foreclosure work in Northern Virginia on CNN.

Mon Mar 25, 2013
Mayoral hopefuls' plans for public safety should scare New Yorkers witless -New York Daily News

Seven candidates appeared at the third of the mayoral forums sponsored by the Daily News and the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation citizens group. The topic was public safety. All were advised to come prepared to explain how he or she would hold the line on crime or drive it still lower — the central duty of any mayor. All were given the opportunity to present their three most important strategies. Not one of them was convincing or spoke with a semblance of coherence or authority. Since 1990, the city has enjoyed a steady downward trend in felonies. Under Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the NYPD has reduced crime to record levels, an achievement that strengthened the foundation of the city’s resurgence. Allow fear to return, and all will be lost, including lives.

 

Sun Mar 24, 2013
AMOS Helps Keep Youth Out of the Court System -Des Moines Register

“Cy was a choir director, community leader and maker of fine clocks. When I knew him, he was 80 years old and lay leader of the church I served.  One snowy morning, he came to my office and simply said, ‘We have to go to Albert Lea.’  I said, ‘That is in Minnesota, and they have lots of snow.’

Then he told me a boy in the parish, one that we had recently confirmed, was in trouble with the law in Albert Lea. So Cy, the boy’s father and I drove through the snowy Midwest to bring the boy home…”

Fri Mar 8, 2013
Arizona Bishops & Clergy Strategize for Immigration Reform -Episcopal Diocese of Arizona

75 bishops and clergy from Lutheran, Jewish, Presbyterian, Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist faiths strategized on the future of immigration reform at an ecumenical gathering organized by the Arizona Interfaith Network.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas, of the Catholic Diocese of Tucson told the group that “today is a day to develop…strategies” and challenged clergy, asking “what can we do to mobilize our congregations?”  Episcopal Bishop Kirk Smith asserted that “the current system is broken, cruel and an affront to God and man.”  West / Southwest IAF

Wed Mar 6, 2013
Network of Texas Organizations Rally Again for Medicaid Expansion -Star Telegram

Anderson and her 66-year-old mother, Martha Anderson [photo right], were among about 60 Tarrant County residents who gathered at the St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Fort Worth … for the 200-mile bus trip to Austin. The trip was organized by the Allied Communities of Tarrant (ACT) [in coordination with the Network of Texas Organizations].

West / Southwest IAF

Tue Mar 5, 2013
Thousands rally in Annapolis for billions to renovate, rebuild 65 Baltimore schools -The Washington Post

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Thousands of Baltimore City families petitioned lawmakers for billions in funding to renovate or rebuild about 65 of the school district’s crumbling buildings. Parents, students, teachers and community leaders rallied in Annapolis Monday evening for legislation that would create a block grant each year in the state budget for the city’s schools, enabling the city to leverage that to borrow more money. Supporters say the measure would create more than $1 billion to remodel the dilapidated infrastructure of several schools. Legislation has been filed in Annapolis to create the program.

Tue Mar 5, 2013
2,000 attend New Haven hearing on bill to give licenses to undocumented -The New Haven Register

NEW HAVEN — Carolina Bortolleto, an undocumented student from Danbury, came forward Monday to testify, not for herself, but on behalf of her parents, explaining what drivers’ licenses would for mean for them. “Sitting in the back seat I can see my mom shaking and praying if she sees the police behind us. ... ‘Pull over anywhere. Pretend we are stopping for coffee. Pretend we are stopping at this restaurant, because if the police stop us, we are going to be deported,” Bortolleto said of the daily fear they experience just driving to work or to school or the grocery store. “All these basic tasks that you take for granted, are filled with anxiety for me and my family,” said Bortolleto, who is a leader in CT Students for a DREAM. She was one of 2,000 people from around the state who came to Wilbur Cross High School where they filled the auditorium and spilled into the gymnasium and the cafeteria to testify on behalf of proposed legislation that would provide licenses to the undocumented

Sun Mar 3, 2013
Promises to keep: Seven mayoral candidates make school reform pledges, and many are underwhelming -New York Daily News

At the mayoral forum sponsored last week by the Daily News and the Metro IAF citizens organization, Democrat Bill Thompson got to the heart of why we pressed the candidates to detail plans for the schools. He asked: “What defines success, not just in four years, each year. The chancellor and mayor need to be held accountable for that. We need to put that forward.” With very mixed success, the seven-member field attempted to accomplish that goal in front of an audience of about 1,000 New Yorkers gathered at Manhattan’s Central Synagogue.

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