|Fall 2006 Newsletter||The California Partnership is a statewide coalition of community based organizations that fights poverty in California. We work together for our common goals by organizing and advocating at the local, state and national levels for the programs and policies that reduce and end poverty.|
Greetings and Happy Holidays from the California Partnership!
With the 2006 mid-term and state elections behind us, we want to reflect on and acknowledge the outcome and all that still lies ahead of us as we fast approach the end of 2006 and head into 2007. Many of us are still talking about what it means to have new leadership at the national level, with the Democrats winning back control of the house and senate after years of being in the minority, and here at home, we're wondering what to expect from Governor Schwarzenegger, re-elected for a second term (he really did come back!). In just a couple of months we will be bracing ourselves for his new budget proposals for the 2007-2008 budget year, and it's anyone's guess what those proposals may be with all the governor's talk of bi-partisan politics, and what health and human services programs that we fight hard to keep would be targeted- although some of our colleagues have a few hypotheses they've come up with that we would like to share.
This issue covers a recap of the voter work that took place throughout the state, a wrap up of the California ballot measures, our forecast for 2007, and upcoming member events for December and January. We're also including a new feature, the CAP Member Profile. If you'd like us to feature your organization in our future newsletters, please contact Rochelle Robinson. You must be a CAP member in order to publish your article.
The California Partnership would like to also take this time to thank all of our members, friends, and allies who worked hard on the issues impacting low-income families and individuals, and for all the work on educating, mobilizing and getting out the vote this election year. We commend your hard work and thank your for all the chapter meetings, actions, voter forums and other events you've participated in this year as part of the CAP team. It is our members that keep the wheels in motion as we continue to make a difference in the lives of all Californians. We could not do this work without you, and we appreciate all that you do!
And while we continue to stand firm in our commitment to building an anti-poverty movement, we need you to keep standing with us. We welcome those of you committed to our goals to join the CAP membership. As we continue to strengthen the power of low-income families through organizing and leadership development, and promoting and agenda for statewide action, let's do it in solidarity. Become a member today, or renew your membership and your commitment to this movement. At the end of this newsletter you will find our membership form. Fill it out today, send in you member dues and take ownership in our coalition and the work that we do to strengthen CAP's role in the national debate around poverty issues.
Nancy, Alicia, and Rochelle wish all of you a wonderful and safe holiday season.
California Partnership Gets Out The Vote!
CAP chapters and member groups caught the election fever this fall! We registered voters, held voter forums and got voters out to the polls all over the state.
The Los Angeles chapter held a voter educational forum on October 18th, attended by 55 people. The forum was co-sponsored by SEIU Local 660, SoCal Grassroots and Poverty Matters. Participants had a lively discussion as they debated the pro's and con's of Propositions 1C, 85, 86, 87, 89 and 90. Tables were filled with voter guides and campaign materials. Dinner and child care made the event a fun and family-friendly event.
The Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger & Homelessness reached out to homeless and very low-income people by visiting welfare offices and shelters. They registered 1,745 new voters, and held over 20 workshops in shelters and community centers. Whittier College students joined in during the last two weekends to help in Get-Out-The-Vote phone banking efforts, where more than 1,000 people were reached.
In the Bay Area, Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network held a voter forum co-sponsored by California Partnership and other members of the PLAN Leadership Council including, LIFETIME, Parent Voices, and Fighting Back Partnership, on October 18th, with 45 people attending. The group had spirited discussions of Propositions 86, 88 and 1C, and took straw polls on the issues. Too bad the state didn't follow PLAN's vote in support of Proposition 86! To bring to light the inequities in our voting system, CAP staff member Rochelle Robinson facilitated an interactive exercise called “Who Votes in California.” The group also watched a short film on racial equity produced by Applied Research Center. Lots of educational materials were on hand, including the Mobilize the Immigrant Vote guides and a guide produced by Coleman Advocates. At the end of the forum, participants were asked to fill out pledges for how they would help get-out-the-vote. After the elections, PLAN held a follow-up meeting with the Leadership Council and forum participants to assess our efforts. Using a variety of voter methods (one-on-one's, public speaking, emails, voter materials, phone banking and door knocking) we were able to reach over 12, 000 voters! Now that's rockin' the vote! Way to go PLAN!
California Partnership, a collaborative partner of Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, recruited 60 organizations to work in this year's campaign. As part of this work, California Partnership organized issues analysis forums in San Diego, Fresno and San Bernardino to give immigrant communities an opportunity to discuss the various ballot measures, as well as voter workshops to train community members in techniques to get out the vote.
PUEBLO ran a vigorous campaign in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, with weeks of door-knocking and phone banking by staff and community volunteers to reach their 3,000 targeted voters. They walked in over 20 precincts, reminding people to vote, and to support a bond to provide more funds for public transportation. A pep rally on Election Day energized volunteers for the final GOTV push.
In San Bernardino, CAP members, allies and friends came together to form a coalition San Bernardino Social Justice Coalition to host a forum where candidates running for the city school board could discuss their views and ideas related to education with members of the community. Over 100 people attended the forum, and six of the eight school board candidates participated. The San Bernardino Social Justice Coalition brought together a number of grassroots coalitions, including the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ), Time for Change, Librería Del Pueblo, and the San Bernardino League of Women Voters, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, The California Partnership and PowerPAC.
CAP worked with Fresno Center for New Americans to reach out, register and educate the Southeast Asian community about the importance of voting. Porchoua Her, a community organizer with Fresno Center, said that he especially used the Hmong Community Radio to reach out to the Hmong community. He explained that “in radio talk shows, I believe the voting education message reached out to thousands of listeners in the Central Valley. As a result, throughout this journey we have made the Southeast Asian voice invisible no more.” With the help of high school and college students and other community members who helped with voter registration and phone banking, the Fresno Center was able to talk with over 1,000 new members to motivate them to go to the polls.
In San Diego, California Partnership worked with Latinos y Latinas en Accion and San Diego ACORN to organize community-based, grassroots-led voter mobilization campaigns. Latinos y Latinas en Accion recruited parents, students, homeowners and grandparents to go door-to-door in the City Heights area of San Diego to remind people to vote. Neighbors praised them for their efforts, remarking that it was just what the community needed. Through the combined hard work of San Diego ACORN and Latinos y Latinas en Accion, over 3,000 voters were contacted about the elections.
California Ballot Measure Wrap-Up
California voters faced 13 statewide ballot measures in the past election. Many of our member groups worked tirelessly in the hopes of creating more housing, schools, public transportation, healthcare for children and a cleaner environment. Although the results were mixed, we have a lot to celebrate, and a lot of work still to do to reach these goals.
The Infrastructure Bond Package
Proposition 84 was another bond issue that won the voters' support. It will provide $5.4 billion for water quality improvements, river and beach protection, park acquisition and, flood control.
Proposition 86 would have raised significant funding for emergency rooms, expanded children's health care coverage, anti-smoking programs, medical research, and other health programs by imposing a tax on tobacco. While it received 48% of the vote, making it the closest statewide in this election, it was defeated due to the over $60 million spent by tobacco companies against the measure, outspending public health groups by nearly 5 to 1. This was a priority issue in many of our communities where families are struggling for affordable health care. Funding for children's health will now have to be taken up again in the legislature.
Proposition 87 - The oil industry spent at least $94 million to defeat Proposition 87. The measure would have taxed oil producing companies to promote the production of alternative fuels.
Los Angeles advocates fought a tough fight to get a property tax increase to fund affordable housing. Although it was supported by a majority of Angelino voters, it needed a two-thirds approval to pass. But it did show city officials that most Los Angeles residents want to see real action to make housing more affordable.
Planning for 2007: Opportunities and Challenges in the Upcoming Budget and Legislative SessionThe upcoming state legislative and budget session holds opportunities and challenges for advocates fighting poverty. Governor Schwarzenegger remains in office, and at least we have gained some experience with working with him and his staff over the last two years. The passage of the entire infrastructure bond package means that debate will begin on how to use the $37 billion. But it means there will be apprehension about how to pay back this money over time. The growing concern about the corrections system, particularly the health of its inmates will also put pressure on this year's budget debates.
Three issues of particular importance to California's low-income communities are immigration, welfare and health care.
Reshma Shamasunder, director of the California Immigrant Welfare Collaborative, a member of California Partnership's Coordinating Committee, explains that the national scene impacts and sets the background for California. On the one hand, there has been a rise in immigrant rights activism, as most visibly demonstrated in the marches in the spring. On the other hand, there have been very negative debates in Congress over immigration reform. And there has been a rise of local anti-immigrant ordinances throughout the country.
Immigrant rights activists are looking at possible pro-active legislation in the upcoming session. Two bills that were vetoed by the Governor in the last legislative session, the California Dream Act, that would have allowed undocumented students to apply for state financial aid programs in order to go to college, and the Household Workers Rights Bill to guarantee basic workers rights, will most likely be re-introduced. Bills to assist immigrants in integrating into California, such as ESL classes, naturalization classes and other supportive services may also surface this year. Unfortunately, it also will probably be necessary to defend against anti-immigrant bills and ordinances.
Mike Herald, legislative advocate, Western Center on Law and Poverty expresses concern that it will be difficult to get expansion of social services programs this year. The state is still running at a $4 to $5 billion structural deficit, and according to Herald, it is not likely that the legislature will pass any new revenue-raising plans. This means that the legislature could be looking at belt-tightening measures instead in order to reduce costs to the state. On the other hand, Herald notes that the state has a history of underestimating revenue, and we shouldn't use revenue issues as an excuse for not pursuing needed expansions and fixes in the social services arena.
This year will include a focus once again on restoring Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA's) for low-income Californians receiving CalWORKs and SSI benefits. The CalWORKs COLA has been suspended for 2 years. While in 1989 the grant for a family of 3 was $689 a month, it has now risen to only $723. The grant clearly has not kept up with the cost of housing. Also, this past year saw no state COLA for SSI. There is a good possibility that the Governor will try to freeze these COLA's again this year. Advocates will be pushing very hard to have these restored, arguing that low-income people have suffered enough. The total cost of restoring these two COLA's is $400-500 million, not a large expense, especially considering the broad positive impact.
Advocates will continue to work on the implementation of new federal TANF regulations. In this past session, California Partnership worked with other groups to increase welfare-to-work dollars by $100million, with guaranteed funding in the next year, to help families meet the new work requirements. Another strategy being explored is to move more families out of the federal program until they are ready for work so that these families are not counted against the federal work participation standards. On the legislative side, we will most likely see more educational bills for CalWORKs families, including allowing study time to count as a welfare-to-work activity.
Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, predict that the health care debate will be a major issue for the state legislature in the upcoming session. Governor Schwarzenegger has said that next year will be focused on "health care, health care, health care," and that he will present a major health reform plan in his January 2006 State of the State. This goal was set during a health care summit that he held this past summer, and was reinforced in his campaign commercials-which placed healthcare as a top issue. However, the Governor's statements about what he would do remain vague. He stressed "affordability, shared responsibility, and the promotion of healthy living," even while opposing proposals that seemed to meet those goals, such as Senator Kuehl's SB840 universal health care bill.
Legislators will undoubtedly put forth their own health care proposals, and there could be several competing measures. Expanding coverage for all children is likely to appear next year as part of the broad statewide debate on health reform. Governor Schwarzenegger was opposed to Proposition 86, despite his many statements in support of expanding coverage for all children. The passage of Proposition 86 would have helped him meet this promise, and yet his position and its defeat now places him in a more difficult position of having to find another way to meet this outstanding commitment. Advocates should be prepared to fight hard for expanded, affordable coverage.
Stay Tuned for Information on the Governor's Release of the State Budget
Upcoming Events, December 1 to January 31
Please SAVE THE DATE for the following CAP and member events:
The California Partnership Bay Area Chapter will host its 3rd annual Common Ground Forum, “Replenishing the Spirit in the Struggle for Social Justice,” on Saturday, December 2, 9:30am-2pm, in downtown Oakland. This is NOT your typical meeting; be prepared to leave “relaxed, supported, and refreshed.” For registration information contact Rochelle Robinson at (510) 292-6941.
Please join the Vision y Compromiso: Promotoras/Community Health Workers Network for their 4th annual State Promotora and Community Health Worker Conference “Toward a Healthy and Dignified Life.” The 2-day conference will be held December 1-2 at the Hilton Burbank in Los Angeles. For more information about the event please contact Alma Esquivel by email or by phone (213) 202-5358.
The Applied Research Center will host its Racial Equity Policy Summit on January 19, 2007 at the Yosemite Hall Center for Healthy Communities in Los Angeles. Please contact Jarad Sanchez, by email or at (818) 613-0385. For additional inquiries call (510) 653-3515.
Parent Voices Meeting December 7th from 6-8pm at 4C’s in Hayward. Speak up and Speak out for your family! DINNER AND CHILD CARE PROVIDED. RSVP to Jennifer Greppi at 510-584-3115 or by email.
CAP member OPTIC has changed its name to Opportunity Junction, tagline On the Road to Self-Sufficiency, effective November 30, 2006. For all contacts listed in your address book @optic-cc.org, please change the domain to opportunityjunction.org. Only the name is changing. Antioch-based Opportunity Junction (Contra Costa) will continue to run the same programs, including job training and placement, evening computer and Internet access, drop-in classes in ESL and Computer Basics, and free income tax assistance for low-income families.
The CAP Los Angeles chapter meets the 1st Wednesday of the month at 3 PM at our offices located at 2533 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90057. The San Bernardino chapter meets most Mondays. For more information on these meetings, call Alicia Lepe at 626-224-8189. And for information on the CAP Bay Area meetings, contact Rochelle Robinson at (510) 292-6941 or by email.
CAP Member Profile: LIFETIME
Created in 1996 by student mothers at the University of California Berkeley who completed college degrees while raising their families on welfare, LIFETIME has successfully organized welfare parents to win changes in the local, regional, statewide, and federal system. LIFETIME's mission is to empower low income parents to determine, pursue, and achieve their goals for education, employment, and economic security. By integrating peer-based support and advocacy services with leadership development and community organizing activities, LIFETIME has a 10-year record of success empowering parents to advocate for their rights under the welfare system, while working collectively to change the policies that keep their families and communities poor. A mother-led, multiracial, multiethnic, membership organization with active dues-paying members, LIFETIME has gained widespread recognition as a leader in the fight against welfare “reform” through its innovative approach to organizing welfare mothers in local community colleges and overall school system.
In light of the recent reauthorization of welfare reform – illegally included in the Federal Deficit Reduction Act – LIFETIME parent leaders are fighting to expand education and training opportunities under the impending changes to CalWORKs, California's welfare program. This is especially critical because just one year of full-time education can increase a welfare mother or father's earnings by $10,000/year. As California works to move 72,000 CalWORKs parents into federally-defined work activities by October, 2007 – or face up to $185 million in federal penalties – LIFETIME parent leaders are promoting state welfare and budget policies through their participation on key advisory committees to the California Department of Social Services.
Nationally, LIFETIME is coordinating a network of grassroots welfare rights organizations, which began last year after LIFETIME published its report “Family Violence is Not an Option” to raise awareness of the failure of the welfare system to protect battered women with children under welfare reform, and the danger that federal “marriage promotion” programs pose for battered women in the welfare system. The focus of the network is to influence federal welfare policy as well as the implementation of TANF in each of the states represented. LIFETIME is organizing the first convening of the network in December 2006 in New Orleans.
Interested in a position with LIFETIME as our full-time Lead Organizer, full-time Development/Communications Associate, or part-time Central Valley Regional Organizing Intern? Email us for a job announcement and application procedures.
LIFETIME is a dues-paying member of the California Partnership and a coordinating committee member representing the Bay Area. For more information about LIFETIME, please visit www.geds-to-phds.org or call us at 510-352-5160.
Join and Support the Partnership
Support the California Partnership and Build Power for Low-Income Californians!
Be part of a growing movement! We're sure you understand the importance of all of us sharing the ownership of the California Partnership and being invested in its growing strength. Three years ago we had less than sixty members, just two chapters, and a non-representative coordinating committee. We now have over 120 member organizations, five chapters, and an elected and accountable coordinating committee. The move to implement dues is part of the effort to create an infrastructure that will continue to strengthen our network and our work.
The minimum dues structure is:
We of course encourage you to donate more if you are able! We are keeping the dues low because of our commitment to include all organizations, and especially small, grassroots organizations, to participate. Community-based organizations who agree with our mission are eligible for membership. We will also invite allies and individuals to join for $25 and up.
Also starting in January 2006, we will implement small fees for non-members to receive our tool kits, trainings, listen to teleconferences, and other resources we offer. As a member, these resources will continue to be free. We think you'll agree that the resources and growing community we offer as a member of the California Partnership are worth the very minimal dues, including:
Thank you and we look forward to working with you.
I'm Joining the California Partnership
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Please make check payable to California Partnership, write in the memo area of your check that it is for "dues," and mail to:
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