Campaign for New Priorities Update

by Betty Brown

A big thank you to the ECDC members who signed the Jobs-Not-Wars online petition along with more than 35,000 other individuals as of Feb. 13. There were also 175 organizational endorsements, including ECDC’s. On Feb. 18, the petition was presented in Washington D.C., to representatives of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

An “Abraham Lincoln” read from the Emancipation Proclamation from the Ravages of Militarism and War. The above and other activities all relate to the continuing debate on the federal budget. The Progressive Caucus introduced HR 505, The Balancing Act, their alternative to the austerity and sequestration. It makes no cuts in social programs but raises taxes on the wealthy and makes significant cuts to military spending. With the sequestration cuts commencing on March 1, the Progressive Caucus plans to introduce an alternative, “Anti Austerity” budget the week of March 11. Once introduced, please consider lobbying Senators Boxer and Feinstein urging them to support it.

For the third year, the Campaign for New Priorities is responding to the call for a global day of action on military spending set for April 15 or Tax Day. We will be doing a flier distribution at BART stations, like we did before, when close to 10,000 pieces were handed out around the Bay. In 2012, over 140 actions took place around the world. If you can volunteer to help leaflet at an El Cerrito BART station, please let Yvonne Steffen know at (510) 237-0350. If you would like to volunteer to leaflet at any other BART stations, please contact Stephen McNeil, American Friends Service Committee at (415) 565-0201.


February Meeting Recap

The February Club meeting was all about the City of El Cerrito’s Strategic Plan with a presentation from Mayor Lyman on its progress and process thus far. But before we dove in, Club members had the following announcements:

  • Jobs Not War collected 52,000 signatures and 164 organizational endorsements [including ECDC]
  • April 15 is a Global Day of Action against Military Spending, part of the New Priorities Campaign (see Betty Brown’s article in this month’s newsletter!)
  • May 4 is George Miller’s annual birthday party and fundraiser. The guest speaker will be House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

After the announcements Mayor Lyman explained how the City is developing a strategic plan in order to give guidance to the City Staff on implementing the City’s defined goals. The City Council already established vision and mission statements and is in the process of defining the values, goals and strategies. The public can comment and offer suggestions on the draft statements.

The final plan will be adopted in late 2013. The Climate Action Plan (see article on page 4) is a secondary plan intended to meet the sustainability goal in the Strategic Plan.

Various club members asked questions about the strategic plan and climate action plan:

  • Carla Hansen asked about community choice aggregation for power options. Mayor Lyman replied that it was a possibility but that no concrete steps had been taken as yet.
  • Scott Lyons asked about unquantifiable goals in the strategic plan and how the City plans to measure its progress in achieving such goals. Mayor Lyman replied that one of the items the City’s consultant/facilitator had emphasized was that all strategies should be quantifiable and verifiable.
  • Helen Cagampang asked about public health goals. Mayor Lyman replied that the City’s main focus is on safety and health access, with most direct health actions (vaccinations, clinics, etc) handled by the County.
  • Helen Dickey mentioned that installing solar panels and doublepaned windows “changed her life” and whole-heartedly supported the idea that the City should encourage energy efficiency for residential buildings as part of the emissions-reduction plan.

Overall, for the second Club meeting of 2013, we had a great presenter and great participation. Let’s see if the March Club meeting with a discussion of gun safety legislation can top it.

Club Meeting (3/26): Gun Safety Legislation

A Discussion with

  • Sylvia Moir, El Cerrito Police Chief, and
  • Mark Chekal-Bain, District Director for Assemblymember Nancy Skinner.

The ECDC March meeting will focus on efforts in the California legislature to advance gun safety legislation. We’ll hear from two people who have been intimately involved in the push: Sylvia Moir, El Cerrito Police Chief, and Mark Chekal-Bain, District Director for Assemblymember Nancy Skinner. Chief Moir has been actively consulting on a series of bills in the California State Senate, with ten separate bills currently in committee review. Meanwhile, in the Assembly, our Assemblymember Nancy Skinner has a bill that would require additional reporting of large sales of ammunition. We’ll have the good fortune to have these front-line experts help us sort it all out.

Following the formal presentations and Q&A, we’ll consider endorsing the Contra Costa County Central Committee’s resolution on gun safety,and discuss whether we want to bring up specific legislation for endorsement at our April meeting.

Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, AD15
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, AD15, has proposed AB 48, which we’ll discuss at the March meeting.