So Now What?

February 2014
… now we organize…
… now we form associations and coalitions to challenge the status quo…
… now we take action independent from the Democratic Party and from the bottom up…
… the time is now to acknowledge that socialists can and do get elected…

Hello friends!
It has been quite some time since I posted on this site, rest assured I have continued my engagement in local, state , and national political struggles. I had intended for a while to revisit my platform and see where things stand and where things might be headed.

I have not been thrilled with direction Charlottesville City Council has headed since my competitors took office after the 2011 election. I had seriously considered a run in 2013, and saw it as necessary process by which to continue to promote my platform and gather support for a left analysis of politics in Charlottesville.

Instead- my long time life partner (my honey bunny!) Reagan became pregnant with twins! This has been an amazing journey, but a journey that would have been impossible to  begin had I ran in 2013. We actually were skirting back and forth from Martha Jefferson hospital and UVA Hospital on election day 2013 as our new babies struggled to get a solid start on life in two separate special care nurseries. Thankfully, they are super healthy and super awesome!

Nevertheless, Charlottesville increasingly is left without a progressive, or even a liberal, presence in decision making, much less a solid pro-socialist, anti-capitalist voice in government.

The 2011 election brought in Mr. Huja, Ms. Galvin, and Ms. Smith. They were added to seated incumbents Mr. Norris and Ms. Szakos. Watching this group of councilors work was fascinating. There were no clear alliances, but generally one could see where things would go by examining positions on an issue by issue basis. Dave Norris retained at least small amount of respect, but as possibly the most progressive of the bunch, was increasingly pushed aside, though not completely ignored. Losing councilor Holly Edwards, a friend and strong voice for marginalized people in our community, from political life seemed to leave Mr. Norris alone on council, though many times he would partner with Ms. Smith. Now we have Bob Fenwick on the council taking Norris’s old seat. I trust Bob, and have come to know him. I wish him well. Though his politics do not line up with mine, he is the quintessential underdog and common man and not afraid to buck the system.

I summarize all of this  mainly for my own benefit, but also so that readers might get a sense for how I see the dynamics of city council, though much it is totally apparent. A significant and focused effort has been made by the city council to over develop our communities from the top down. One need only look at the number of “small area plans” such as the Strategic Investment Area being promoted, and funded, by council to see how large an impact the current council will have on the future of our town, especially as it relates to housing, gentrification, poverty, and joblessness. That is to say- gentrification is not just being allowed, but specifically planned for. Affordable housing is not being addressed, decisions after decisions are made that push the notion that “you can’t build our way out of our housing problem” and that support the construction of large buildings designed for anybody except those who desperately need a home that they can afford. They bait and switch and offer up the delusion that increased construction, although dramatically hurting neighborhoods and displacing people will bring construction jobs. This is folly. A very small number of jobs for low-income people will materialize, and they will disappear once this round of construction is completed, we cannot build our way out poverty, but we could build some affordable homes if we wanted to.

Poverty and joblessness are approached with the liberal version of trickle-down economics, relying on the free market to magically improve our community. The twist comes with council’s philosophical support and funding of programs that seek to encourage entrepreneurship among our poorest residents at all cost and with nothing else. To that I say two things-

1. Not everyone can successfully create and sustain a business, especially those with little resources. Even with public support, convincing vulnerable people that their problems will be solved by taking on debt and struggling to operate a business seems painfully insulting, and negligent. The few examples of success in this philosophy do not outweigh the large numbers of people who need a living wage and sustained employment. We are talking about thousands of people, and changing the landscape so that struggling people can make enough money to live in this community. The City Council’s current philosophy buys into an ideological pipe dream that takes the burden of actually doing something about poverty off of the backs of elected officials.

2. Pouring public money into for-profit business starting schemes is not responsible use of public funds. The programs, in order to be successful, will require substantial public funding in perpetuity. Too many will fail, but the training and entrepreneurship would have to continue to be funded to have any kind of success. I don’t see the public, or the council committed to sustained funding for business classes for poor people. They will instead, continue to pass responsibility to non-profits instead of committing funds to increasing the actual number of jobs.

My 2011 campaign was not a total bust, though putting real pressure on decision makers was and is tough. The Democratic Party is a sure bet (for now!) so they don’t take electoral challenges seriously. I made a strong showing though, and have attended almost every city council meeting since, often promoting parts of my platform and even bringing forward a “people’s agenda”. I have also managed to continue to organize which is a much stronger and effective way to compel the council to address certain items. The real force of my campaign was to shame those elected into actually doing something to address our local crisis of poverty, housing, ecological devastation, and contribution to militarism. The 1500 votes i garnered, as well, were a wake up call for some councilors, though certainly not enough for anyone int he Democratic party to feel threatened. As the years have moved along I have seen some movement on items that were part of my campaign and I have been happy to support those changes. Many times, however, an issue is addressed and because the philosophy and analysis ios different from mine, the results wind up being mixed. More times than not, the council has either ignored or done the opposite of what I ], and a large group of residents of harlottesville demand.

A quick spin through my platform shows victory on these items
- end freeze on non-profit funding ( a small piece, this is worthless without those funds going to homeless shelters and housing)
- jobs center in downtown Charlottesville (almosty a reality)
- creation of more parkland
- formation of transit advisory board
- holiday bus service
- bus service to CATECH
- permanent downtown space for City Market (?)
- policy for de-barment in public housing
- funding for DoR
- Vinegar Hill apology (thanks Holly!)
- Alternative to Military service allowed at CHS (thanks CCPJ!)
- resolution to stop funding wars and don’t attack Iran
… and they called me unrealistic

Here are items that have been addressed, but only partially and without the proper approach, I supported these, but not being in the decision making body have no influence over implementation or the “spririt”: of implementation.
- non-profit funding- mentioned above, this was meant to free up funds for the Haven and PACEM and possibly for the creation of more shelters for homeless people.
- end utility shut -offs- this has not happened, though the council now recieves updates on the numbers of people faced with shut-offs
- CAT expansion- the results have not produced an expansion but rather a restructuring, from the top down, that has not benefited transit dependent people. Had I been elected this whole mess would have been avoided for certain.
- Recognize same sex marriage- I had called for this knowing it was not legal with the Commonwealth of Virginia- I would have voted to break the law and initiate a court challenge. City council did not have the political will to make marriage rights for same sex couples a tangible reality in Charlottesville. Instead they opted for symbolism (as they so often do).
- oppose the “Dillon Rule” council frequently includes items on it’s legislative agenda for Virginia, and spends some effort lobbying for these things. Mostly those items disappear from our minds forever. We need to remove some of the Dillon Rule barriers in order to make progress, council uses it as an excuse and simultaneously claims it is doing something about issues by moving them to the black hole of the legislative agenda.

I have made some attempts to keep some of my platform planks alive, and have found some support, but council has failed to take even the most modest of steps at addressing poverty, joblessness, homelessness, ecological degradation, unless the solution is promoted by the Chamber of Commerce and based on free market solutions to crisis situations. Here’s what they haven’t done:
- no attempts to build more affordable housing in Charlottesville
- no attempts to alleviate homelessness or build institutions to shelter the homeless
- “City of Second Chances” has been completely ignored
- no expansion of the bus system
- absolutely no attempt to employ large numbers of people using public funding
- absolutely no attempt to gain support for or implement a tax increase that could: hire a lot of people to green the city and build those structures mentioned above
- no attempt has been made to identify the root causes of gentrification, the effects on our communities, nor how to stop gentrification

and the list goes on…

What are we going to do about it?
I might run, I might not. We need to make the case to as many people in town as possible that the Democratic Party has failed the poor and working people of Charlottesville. And we need to organize around a common platform or set of principles to build power that will present a solid challenge to the status quo. Just voting for cool candidates (like myself) won’t do this. Voting for Democrats will not do this, and organizing in silos on issues won’t do this. We need a grand coalition. A poor people’s coalition that fights in solidarity, and has the potential to run and win elections. Of course I would choose for everyone to join the Socialist Party with me and my comrades, but this unlikely (but please consider joining! here)
One option is to get everyone together to craft a platform and agree to fight to make real change, to the point of drafting and supporting full slates of candidates for Council, School Board, applying for board appointments, lobbying for a platform, and organizing in the streets!

I have said before that I support principles and analysis over a simple platform, but this may be the way forward in Charlottesville.
Wanna help?

drop me a line at brandoncollins@comcast.net or give a call (434) 249-3312

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67 Years of Nuclear Weapons- Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance

*** This was written on behalf of the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice to commemorate and remember the atomic bombings of early August 1945. I wrote this with a great deal of editing and support from CCPJ members Tony Russell, David Swanson, Kirk Bowers, and Bob McAdams. Please join us this Friday at our exhibit on the downtown mall highlighting the bombings, their vicious effects, the effects of nuclear testing, and the effects of decades of committed activism worldwide.

The Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice asks all people in the Charlottesville- Albemarle area to reflect and mourn the deaths of over 200,000 human beings in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945. Many of those who died were children.  No matter what one’s opinion on the original use of nuclear weapons on human beings, we all might pause to reflect on the horror that occurred, and confront the reality that the world still lives with the daily threat of total annihilation through the use of atomic weaponry.

67 years is a very long time for the world to live in fear of almost certain annihilation were a nuclear exchange to take place. One would think that in all that time we would have found a way to limit our capacity to burn children in seconds, and murder one another not just as humans, but as nations, races, whole continents, our entire planet. We might have become concerned about the deaths and injuries of thousands due to nuclear testing, and the use of depleted uranium in “conventional” warfare. It is with these great concerns for humanity and the planet that the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice was founded, and with this concern that we call for a renewed spirit of harmony and compassion within the world and a renewed call for nuclear disarmament.

The earth today, despite the end of the cold war, is still confronted with the crisis of nuclear proliferation now more than any time since the birth of the atomic age. The U.S. and Russia still collectively control over 18,000 nuclear weapons with a combined 3,950 on active alert. These active weapons, again despite the end of the Soviet Union, remain at a moment’s notice, still aimed at the same targets (aka human beings) as they did in 1982 when the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice was founded in part “…as a grassroots response to the threat of nuclear war…”

In a matter of hours, perhaps less than an hour, the world can be destroyed in a ball of flame and radioactive rain by the decision of one person, human error, technological error, or escalation of conventional military engagements. Add to this global threat of approximately 19,000 nuclear weapons with approximately 4,400 active weapons not only the United States but the inclusion of China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel (as well as nations that “share” atomic weapons through NATO through NATO, such as Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey), who seek to use the concept of mutually assured destruction (M.A.D.) to meet their own political and economic aims. We can see why the commemoration of the original attacks, and a renewal of the call for total nuclear disarmament is as important now as it has ever been.

As lovers of peace and justice, we are grateful that no other country to date has followed the United States’ lead in actually using nuclear weapons, either on civilians or military targets. We are grateful that a movement for peace and sanity has thus far stalled the use of these horrific weapons since their debut in 1945. We are all too aware of the thousands of deaths and casualties as a result of nuclear testing and the use of depleted uranium in current wars that the U.S. are involved in. We recognize that the call for total disarmament requires the participation of all nations in order to become a reality, but that as peace lovers here in the U.S., where the largest arsenal of combat ready nukes are sustained and maintained, we have the responsibility to act where we live and atone for our past failures to do so.

We recognize that other nations cannot be forced to disarm, but they can be compelled to through international peace work. That peace work can only be accomplished if the United States, the only nation to purposely drop atomic weapons on human beings and the largest owner of nukes, set an example by taking meaningful steps. We recognize too that peace work requires an attention to solving this crisis through peace and diplomacy, not by military means meant to forcibly disarm other nations who currently have atomic weaponry, or who the US deems a threat because of a desire to acquire nuclear technology for medical or energy uses. A military solution only perpetuates the desire to acquire nukes from nations that don’t have them, and further erodes trust and relationships amongst nations of the world and especially of the U.S. where we control the largest amounts of weapons of mass destruction on the planet, have used them on people, and are the only country currently engaged in invading and occupying other nations.

In today’s climate of perpetual war and endless military engagements the cause for disarmament has often been overlooked in the buzz of the current wars and the next wars being planned by the war machine. We remind all peace loving peoples that the peace symbol, ubiquitous as a symbol for opposing war and solving conflict through non-violence, is actually a design based on semiphore for “ND”- “Nuclear Disarmament”.

We want a return to the logic and sanity that peace begets peace and that fundamentally the biggest threat to peace is the possibility of nuclear war among nations. Let us think big, let us renew the call for nuclear disarmament and start with our own responsibility to act first.

 

True peace can come only by removing the venom of fear, hatred, greed and cruelty.  We urge everyone to help bring real peace through justice and compassion.

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Transit Riders Association of Charlottesville !!!

Proud to announce, in continuing the fight for some of my platform items- the TRAC has formed and ready to push for changes! More stuff and links soon! For now I hope you’ll consider joining us:

Next meeting for Transit Riders Association of Charlottesville!

This Saturday, at noon, in the Jefferson Room at the Downtown Library.

All are welcome to attend the second meeting of this fantastic group dedicated to making improvements in Charlottesville’s public transportation system and giving voice to all transit users in town! Please bring your ideas for specific short term improvements (which routes to expand, times etc.), mid-term improvements, and long term solutions for a meaningful and amazing public transportation system in Charlottesville.

We will also be updating ourselves on the process for engaging with city hired transit analysts Nelson Nygaard, and figure out some sort of approach for having meaningful input from CAT riders.

See you Saturday!

(and feel free to forward this e-mail!)

Brandon

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Living Wage Now- Time for Action!

I wholeheartedly endorse the living wage campaign at UVA, and I call on anyone who supported my campaign to join the struggle right now and finally win it all once and for all. (click here to see what that means)

The data has been presented, the arguments have been made, the process has been respected and yet nothing meaningful has happened on this issue. I was grateful for the opportunity to help draft, circulate, and present a letter from a dozen community groups and individuals calling for action by Feb 17th. That action has not been taken, no commitment has been made- the time for action is now!

Join me and hundreds of others this Saturday, Feb 18th to give a response to the lack of response, and be prepared to show up and be heard everyday until this is won at 1 pm and 6 pm, and especially Feb 22-24 when the Board of Visitors will be here. I have spoken forcefully on this issue, and you know what I mean, drop me a line to learn more brandoncollins@comcast.net

read the full letter here, and see you Saturday!

Dear President Sullivan and University of Virginia Board of Visitors:

We, the undersigned, write to you today to express our commitment to economic justice and to call on you to act.

We are individuals and organizations who have great concern for the well being of the people who live and work in our community, particularly in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. We share a commitment to economic justice and to equity in our communities. Collectively, the organizations we represent have thousands of members.
As the area’s largest employer, the University of Virginia has a responsibility — indeed, an obligation — to improve our community.

We believe that the University has neglected this obligation and continues to do so. We call on you to take action by finally resolving the issue of living wages at the University in a fair, satisfying, and comprehensive way. We call on you to take this action now.

As you surely recognize, the University affects the cost of living in Charlottesville in major ways, particularly with respect to housing costs. We believe that the University could offset the negative impacts of its increasing these costs for some of our community’s most vulnerable members by paying its employees enough to meet the cost of living.

We remind you that in 2000 the University committed to a base pay increase for direct employees, and that we commended you for doing so. That increase, however, did not include cost of living adjustments, nor did it include contracted employees. We had hoped that these issues would be addressed in a timely manner — certainly by now, a dozen years later. During that period, the Living Wage Campaign, currently configured as Workers And Students United, repeatedly presented its scrupulous research and stated its case with deep respect for administrative process. Concurrently, we in the community have stood with workers, students, and faculty. We have called on you to listen to their concerns, rallied, written letters, and requested meetings. In good faith, all of us have asked for commitments from you. The arguments have now been presented, the necessity and practicality of action proven.

Overall, it must be said, we have not been satisfied with the University’s response. Frankly, at times we have even been disappointed by the dismissive tone of University communications. Such feelings, however, are fleeting compared with the enduring nature of the issues at stake.  And like those issues, the Living Wage Campaign will not go away — that is, until those issues are resolved in a fair, satisfying, and comprehensive manner.

The time for straight answers and firm commitments is here. The University of Virginia needs to pay a living wage to all of its employees. We believe that the University has the potential to be a powerful force for positive change in our community. To further this end, we call for:
- a living wage of no less than $13.00 per hour as the base pay for all direct employees;
- cost of living adjustments that are automatic and annual;
- all contracts with University service providers to include a living wage and cost of living adjustments

We stand with Workers And Students United and fully support their demands as presented on February 8, 2012 and will stand with them on February 17, 2012 and beyond if a commitment is not made to ensure a living wage, safe working conditions, and job security for all workers by that date.

As always, workers, students, faculty, and community are standing united in our call for a living wage. We are present, we are showing up, and we are taking the steps necessary to gain equity and economic justice in our community through the establishment of a living wage for all workers at the University of Virginia.
Respectfully,

Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP
Virginia Organizing
Legal Aid Justice Center
Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice
Public Housing Association of Residents
Campus Workers United
Wayside Center for Popular Education
Cville Workers Action Network
Socialist Party of Central Virginia
Richmond General Organizing Branch Industrial Workers of the World
Joyful Dissent

Kristin Szakos- Vice-Mayor City of Charlottesville
David Swanson- founder WarIsACrime.org, author, blogger
M. Rick Turner- president Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP
Brenda Lambert- Community Activist
Jim Shea- Community Activist
Jeffery Fogel- Civil Rights Attorney

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A City Committed to Peace- An Agenda for the City of Charlottesville

* Tuesday, January 3rd, 7:00 pm I will be presenting this agenda, and a request from myself, the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, and hundreds of Cville residents for an updated resolution devoting the city to peace (item a.). Show up early to speak in favor of a new peace resolution! Sign the Petition Here!
** completed Peace Agenda and updates posted soon!
*** learn more about why Peace is a Local Issue 

5. – A City Committed to Peace

In 2003 Charlottesville City Council passed a resolution proclaiming it a “City of Peace”. While this resolution on its own failed to keep the US government from invading and occupying Iraq at a cost of $799 billion and 4,484 US lives lost, as well as up to 1.5 million Iraqi lives lost, the resolution was part of a larger movement nationwide of local governments publicly stating their opposition to the disastrous war.

An updated resolution is needed, now more than ever, due to the financial burden placed on localities by increasing military costs, and the dominance of local economies by the military industrial complex.

Resolutions alone do not make changes in the broader society, but they do commit the body to taking a meaningful approach to peace. For this reason, I propose that the city do more than pass a resolution. That it also take steps to actively acknowledge their responsibility for maintaining the culture that imposes, even requires, warfare and to take adequate steps to resist the influence of the military industrial complex, the burden of a bloated military budget, the role of municipalities in city planning contributing to wars for resources, and the recruitment of young people and poor people to do the killing and dying in unnecessary, expensive, and illegal wars and occupations.

To this end, here is an agenda for peace, somewhat limited to what may have political support from City Council, but that a great many of our residents can support, and even mobilize to take steps to actively end Charlottesville’s participation in our increasingly militarized nation:

a. Resolution Calling for End to War and Bringing Our War Dollars Home
b. Cost of War Counter for City Hall and http://www.charlottesville.org
c. Exclude Military Contractors, Military Agencies, and Paramilitary Organizations from Charlottesville Community Job Fair
d. Committee to Convert Military Industrial Complex in Charlottesville to Civilian Use
e. Support for Advocate Committee to explore new Sister City Relationship(s)
f. Call for Arrest of War Criminals who Enter Charlottesville City Limits
g. Declare September 21st International Day of Peace, host IDoP Celebration
h. End Reliance on Oil Resources in City Planning
i. Support Community Efforts to Reduce Presence of Military in City Schools

##### 

 a. Resolution Calling for End to War and
Bringing Our War Dollars Home

Background
-In 1988 Charlottesville City Council declared the City “Nuclear Free” to add to the international calls for disarmament.
-In 2003 Charlottesville City Council passed a resolution proclaiming it a “City for Peace” in opposition to imminent invasion of Iraq.
-In 2011 Mayor Norris was the first to sign the “Mayors for Peace” statement, suggesting that an updated commitment to peace is warranted and desired by the citizens of Charlottesville.
-City councilors have expressed interest in an updated resolution on the effects of military spending on local budgets.
-Similar resolutions have recently been passed in Seattle WA, Portland OR, Hartford CT, Los Angeles CA, and San Francisco CA. These municipal resolutions are part of a widening movement to redirect military spending for domestic priorities.

Materials
Petitions reading “I believe the City of Charlottesville should follow the example of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and pass a resolution supporting efforts to speed up the ending of current U.S. wars, and calling on Congress and the President to bring the war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy.” have been submitted January 3, including over 200 signatures (see attachment 1.) and 117 on-line signatures at http://warisacrime.org/petition/60191

-2003 City For Peace Declaration can be found in city archives.

-2011 Mayors for Peace Declaration:
CALLING ON CONGRESS TO REDIRECT MILITARY SPENDING TO DOMESTIC PRIORITIES
WHEREAS, the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to re-examine our national spending priorities; and
WHEREAS, the people of the United States are collectively paying approximately $126 billion dollars per year to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan; and
WHEREAS, 6,024 members of the US armed forces have died in these wars; and at least 120,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the coalition attacks began.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors supports efforts to speed up the ending of these wars; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on the U.S. Congress to bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy

Draft Resolution:
CALLING ON CONGRESS TO REDIRECT MILITARY SPENDING TO DOMESTIC PRIORITIES
WHEREAS, the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to re-examine our national spending priorities; and
WHEREAS, every dollar spent on the military produces fewer jobs than spending the same dollar on education, healthcare, clean energy, or even tax cuts for household consumption; and
WHEREAS, U.S. military spending has approximately doubled in the past decade, in real dollars and as a percentage of federal discretionary spending;
WHEREAS, well over half of federal discretionary spending is now spent on the military;
WHEREAS, we are spending more money on the military now than during the Cold War, the Vietnam War, or the Korean War;
WHEREAS, the U.S. military budget could be cut by 80% and remain the largest in the world;
WHEREAS, President Dwight David Eisenhower warned us 50 years ago that “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist”;
WHEREAS, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform proposed in both its Co-Chairs’ proposal in November 2010 and its final report in December 2010 major reductions in military spending;
WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, with the support of Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris passed in June 2011 a resolution calling on Congress to redirect spending to domestic priorities;
WHEREAS, the people of the United States favor redirecting spending to domestic priorities;
WHEREAS, the people of the United States in numerous opinion polls favor withdrawing the U.S. military from Afghanistan;
WHEREAS, the United States has armed forces stationed at approximately 1,000 foreign bases in approximately 150 foreign countries;
WHEREAS, the United States is the wealthiest nation on earth but trails many other nations in life expectancy, infant mortality, education level, housing, and environmental sustainability, as well as in non-military aid to foreign nations;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, calls on the U.S. Congress to end foreign ground and drone wars and reduce base military spending, in order to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, re-train and re-employ those losing jobs in the process of conversion to non-military industries, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy.

Cost to Charlottesville
no cost

Required Action from City Council
-Draft and approve resolution
-Circulate to Congressional Delegation and Staff

b. Cost of War Counter for City Hall and http://www.charlottesville.org

Background
-Citizens groups and city councilors have expressed an interest in making the costs of the United States’ engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan more visible to Charlottesville residents, particularly the cost to tax payers living ion Charlottesville.
-The National Priorities Project offers a war spending counter that is able to show the cost to all US taxpayers and for Charlottesville taxpayers specifically for both wars combined since 2001, or for Iraq since 2003, or for Afghanistan since 2001.
-A similar undertaking was made by the City of Binghamton, New York and was funded by private groups.
-The counter can be easily applied to the City website.

Materials
-View the cost of war counter at http://www.costofwar.com
As of January 1, 2011 the total cost of both wars to Charlottesville taxpayers is approximately $108 Million, for Iraq $67 Million, for Afghanistan $41 Million.
The total for both wars to the US is approximately $1.2 Trillion.
The counter can be applied to a website from http://www.costofwar.com

-Contact the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice
PO Box 2012
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
Phone: (434) 961-6278
e-mail: charlottesvillepeace@gmail.com

-Contact the National Priorities Project:
243 King St. – Suite 109
Northampton, Massachusetts 01060
Phone: (413) 584-9556
Contact form at: http://nationalpriorities.org/en/about/contact/#contact-form

Cost to City of Charlottesville
$0 – $6000
-The counter installed at City Hall in Binghamton, NY cost around $6000. The city could cover the total cost, part of the cost, or could rely entirely on donated funds. The Public Art Fund could be one source of funding if Council decided to do so. The Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice is a non-profit 501c3 that could oversee fundraising for the project.

-No funds would be required for installing the counter at http://www.charlottesville.org

Required Action from City Council
-Decide to include total US war spending as well as Charlottesville war spending or both.
-Direct City Staff to include cost of war counter on city website.
-Indicate support for cost of war counter installation to Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice if private funding is desired.
-Decide on location, example: City Hall, City Space etc.
-Identify funding source, example: Public Art Fund, Private Donors etc.

c. Exclude Military Contractors, Military Agencies, and Paramilitary Organizations from Charlottesville Community Job Fair

Background
Since 2010 the City of Charlottesville has hosted the “Charlottesville Community Job Fair” attended by thousands of residents. The fair offers access to area, and out of area employers. Among the sponsors and employers participating in the fair are numerous businesses that contract directly with the military in number of functions. Some produce military hardware such as weaponry. Some produce research and development. Some produce intelligence. Some even create bio-weaponry. Along with these groups are included military agencies such as the US Army and the National Security Agency. These businesses and agencies thrive on taxpayer subsidies and funding.
-Military contractors are considered to be one of the biggest challenges to creating a world based on peace.
-Military agencies typically recruit from the low wealth people in our communities. Both military businesses and military agencies contribute to Charlottesville residents participating in the killing and dying associated with warfare.
-Both military and military related business have the ability to recruit employees through channels other than the Charlottesville Community Job Fair.

Materials
-City Job Fair website (includes links to various employers)

http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=951

-Past military contractors and military agencies who have sponsored and participated in the Charlottesville Community Job Fair:
Concurrent Technologies Corporation
Battelle
BAE Systems
Northrop Grunman
TEC Inc
TEKSystems
WISER
National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency
Virginia Army National Guard
OGSystems
Defense Logistics Agency Energy
Barron Associates
SAIC
National Security Agency
NIITEK
United States Army
SRC Inc.

Cost to City of Charlottesville
No funding is required.

Action Required from City Council
-Direct the Office of Economic Development to exclude military contractors, military agencies, and paramilitary organizations from the Charlottesville Community Job Fair as sponsors or employers (see list above), including but not limited to past employers participating.
-Direct the Office of Economic Development to require any employer and/or sponsor wishing to participate in the Charlottesville Community Jobs Fair, including US government agencies, to confirm that it does not contract with the military or is directly a military service or paramilitary organization.

d. Committee to Convert Military Industrial Complex
in Charlottesville to Civilian Use

Background
-Business based around military use reaps billions of taxpayer dollars in the United States and is considered one of the greatest challenges to creating a world based on peace.
-Charlottesville alone has at least 142 businesses that contract with the military.
-The United States, and the City of Charlottesville have built an economy based on warfare and all of the human suffering entailed therein.
-To begin the work of building an economy based on peace numerous challenges must be met. Profits made by the private sector using public funds, and the employment sustained by military contractors need to be addressed in order for a peace economy to be built and sustained. Charlottesville can be become a world leader and national model for the conversion movement.
-A 9 member committee supported and maintained by the City of Charlottesville and made up of 1 City Councilor, 1 representative from the Office of Economic Development, 1 representative from the Environmental Sustainability Division and 6 members of the Charlottesville Community would be created.
-The committee would be tasked with evaluating the presence of all businesses that contract with military, the potential for existing groups to eliminate military involvement, the re-purposing of facilities for a green economy, and make suggestions for conversion to the city and to business. In the second year the committee would actively work with business to address ways to convert to civilian use, and to further engage the City of Charlottesville. Interest has been expressed by Charlottesville residents to participate in such a committee.

Materials
-2011 Pollin and Garrett-Peltier Study from Political Economy Research Institute
Is attached and PDF can be found at http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/published_study/PERI_military_spending_2011.pdf

-A list of local military contractors can be found at: http://www.governmentcontractswon.com/department/defense/charlottesville_va_virginia.asp

Cost to City of Charlottesville
No extra funds would be required for this committee to be established. Staff would include their participation in their on-going duties. Any material funds for the committee would be paid from the operating budget for the Office of Economic Development.

Action Required from City Council
-Create “Committee for Conversion of Military Contractors to Peacetime Economy” made up of 1 City Councilor, 1 representative from the Office of Economic Development, 1 representative from the Environmental Sustainability Division and 6 members of the Charlottesville Community.
-Issue call for applicants, appoint committee members
-Craft mission statement, to include: evaluation of existing military contractors, income from military contracts, the amount of employees related to military contracting, and nature if contracting work. Explore potential for eliminating military contracts and the effects on existing business. Explore potential for replacing military contracts with other business, explore possible re-purposing of facilities for civilian purposes. Explore potential for “green” economic activity.
-Report to Council with findings and suggestions, engage community and business to address and implement suggestions for conversion.

e. Support for Advocate Committee to explore new
Sister City Relationship(s)

Background
-Charlottesville is engaged in four sister city relationships. These relationships have been created by groups of residents coming together to do the hard work of forming connections, an advocate committee, and maintaining the relationship with foreign cities.
-In an effort to continue to form bonds globally and decrease the likelihood of future wars or bring an end to current wars Charlottesville could explore new sister city relationships with countries currently under US military combat operations, or a city that may be the target of future military action, particularly in the Middle East.
-Due to the sensitive political nature of the areas to focus on, residents may be hesitant to form an advocate committee without some expression from council that they desire a new relationship.
-The council or other governmental body may also initiate a sister city relationship and council could consider this as well.
-In Charlottesville, residents and peace activists have formed bonds with communities in the middle east. Charlottesville recently hosted a back an d forth delegation to and from Kabul, Afghanistan. Charlottesville has a growing Afghan population, and peace activists have also formed relationships through Afghan Peace Volunteers. A combination of an already established relationship inside Afghanistan might be a great start to forming an advocate committee.
-Charlottesville residents also have established ties in Palestine and Iran.

Material
Information on the Sister City Program can be found on the Charlottesville website at http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=1735

Guidelines for Affiliating (attached)
Strategic Plan (attached)

Sister Cities International website http://www.sister-cities.org/
Cost to City of Charlottesville
-Citizen fundraising is vital to the sister city program, and would be for any new project.
Any city funds required would be from the existing operating structure of the Sister Cities Commission.
-A government sponsored advocate group would require extra funds from the city.

Action Required from City Council
-Indicate political support and/or preference for new sister city to area residents interested.
-Alternative- establish governmental agency to form advocate committee for sister city relationship.

f. Call for Arrest of War Criminals who Enter Charlottesville City Limits

Background
-Charlottesville has been visited by former officials who have been considered “war criminals” by various international courts and bodies.
-When these visits have been scheduled it is generally too late to build a case or instruct local law enforcement agencies to arrest the perpetrators.
-Councilors Dave Norris and Kristin Szakos were present and spoke to a rally in Charlottesville calling for the arrest of John Yoo in 2009. This suggests a willingness by sitting members of council to address the situation.
-Switzerland, Italy, Zambia, and localities in Canada have expressed interest in prosecuting for war crimes and would be a starting place for seeking to extradite as they are a part of the 147 signatories, including the United States, to the “1987 United Nations Convention on Torture”.
-Inside the United States a handful of localities have called for the arrest of certain former officials for their involvement in crimes committed against US citizens and foreign nationals including Brattleboro, Vermont and Marlboro, Vermont.
-In the interest of assuring justice and reducing the future acts of current officials to engage in illegal aggressive war, torture, and human rights violations the city could call for the arrest of wanted criminals, make those arrests and extradite the suspects or try them under local and state laws.

Material
An extensive list of war crimes participants and their crimes can be found at http://www.warcriminalswatch.org/index.php/the-culpable/36-the-culprits
The list includes:
George W. Bush- aggressive war (crimes against peace), torture, violations of human rights treaties
Richard Cheney- aggressive war, torture, violations of human rights treaties
Donald Rumsfeld- aggressive war, torture, violations of human rights treaties
Alberto Gonzales- aggressive war, torture, violations of human rights treaties
Condoleeza Rice- aggressive war, torture, violations of human rights treaties
Jay Bybee- aggressive war, torture, violations of human rights treaties
John Yoo- aggressive war, torture, violations of human rights treaties

Also to be considered:
Henry Kissinger- aggressive war, torture, violations of human rights treaties, genocide
Information available at http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Kissinger/CaseAgainst1_Hitchens.html

Ample material and hard copies of the above information can be obtained by request.

1987 Convention on Torture can be found at http://untreaty.un.org/cod/avl/ha/catcidtp/catcidtp.html
hard copy available upon request

Cost to City of Charlottesville
Funding would be included in existing budgets for participating agencies.

Action Required from Council
-Instruct Commonwealth Attorney, Sheriff Department and Charlottesville Police Department to investigate possible violations of local, state, national laws and international treaties.
-Instruct above agencies to consult with participants in the “1987 Convention on Torture” concerning possible extradition requests for those wanted.
-Draft and Issue a Statement to the following war crimes suspects that arrest and trial or extradition may occur if they enter city limits:
Elliot Abrams, David Addington, John Ashcroft, John Bellinger III, John R. Bolton, Paul Bremer, George W. Bush, Jay S. Bybee, Andrew H. Card, Richard Cheney, Michael Chertoff, Douglas Feith, Tommy Ray Franks, Jonathan M. Fredman, Robert gates, Alberto Gonzales, Stephen J. Hadley, Michael V. Hayden, William J. Haynes, Henry Kissinger, Lewis I. Libby, Stanley McChrystal, John Negroponte, Nancy Pelosi, Richard N. Perle, David Patraeus, Colin L. Powell, Erik Prince, Condoleeza Rice, John Rizzo, Karl C. Rove, Donald H. Rumsfeld, George J. Tenet, Paul Wolfowitz, John C. Yoo.
-Instruct Commonwealth Attorney to prepare for trial of war criminals under local jurisdiction.

g. Declare September 21st International Day of Peace,
host IDoP Celebration

Background
-The United Nations declared an International Day of Peace in 1981. In 2001 it declared that the Day of Peace be held every September 21st.
-For many years now the Interfaith Cooperation Circle has sponsored an International Day of Peace celebration in Charlottesville.
-In 2011 The Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice and the Interfaith Cooperation Circle hosted a series of events to celebrate IDoP, and built numerous community ties and found many participants for the celebrations. The coalition was asked to “envision peace”.
-Included in this coalition was the City of Charlottesville and the Charlottesville City School Board.
-On Sept. 19, 2011 Charlottesville City Council proclaimed September 21st, 2011 an International Day of Peace.
-Continued support for the IDoP celebrations has been expressed by councilors, school board members, the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, and the Interfaith Cooperation Circle.
-Some residents have expressed interest in a IDoP parade in Charlottesville.

Material
United Nations General Assembly Resolution Sept. 7, 2001 (attached)

International Day of Peace website http://internationaldayofpeace.org/

Charlottesville International Day of Peace Proclamation Sept. 19, 2011:
Whereas, the International Day of Peace has been recognized and celebrated by millions of people worldwide since it was started by a United Nations resolution almost thirty years ago, and
Whereas, many civic organizations and religious congregations in our community have formed a coalition to both celebrate the International Day of Peace and to challenge our community to envision peace and non-violence in our society, and
Whereas, the benefits of peace and non-violence in our community include greater personal and communal well-being, greater public safety, and greater effectiveness in the resolution of disagreements,
We do hereby resolve that on the 21st day of September our community joins in the celebration of the International Day of Peace and that members of our community commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace and non-violence.

Contact for Interfaith Cooperation Circle/CCPJ IDoP Committee:
Robert McAdams
rsm1539@earthlink.net

Cost to City of Charlottesville
No cost beyond normal operating expense to participate in the celebrations.
If council chose to waive fees for use of public space there would be minimal cost to the city associated with having custodial crew present for events or other city staff.
The cost of a parade would be entirely up to the city to decide, the main item being extra police officers present.

Action required from Council
-Draft and Issue an International Day of Peace Proclamation beginning with language included- “From this day forward September 21st will be…”
-Waive fees associated with use of public space for the International Day of Peace celebrations.
-Appoint proper city representative to International Day of Peace Planning Committee if so requested.
-Grant permit for parade on Sept. 21, 2012, waive associated fees for parade.

United Nations General Assembly Resolution Sept. 7, 2001:
“Recalling its resolution 36/67 of 30 November 1981, by which it declared that the third Tuesday of September, the opening day of the regular sessions of the General Assembly, shall be officially proclaimed and observed as International Day of Peace and shall be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples, 
Recalling also its other relevant resolutions, including resolution 55/14 of 3 November 2000, 
Reaffirming the contribution that the observance and celebration of the International Day of Peace makes in strengthening the ideals of peace and alleviating tensions and causes of conflict, 
Considering the unique opportunity it offers for a cessation of violence and conflict throughout the world, and the related importance of achieving the broadest possible awareness and observance of the International Day of Peace among the global community, 
Desiring to draw attention to the objectives of the International Day of Peace, and therefore to fix a date for its observance each year that is separate from the opening day of the regular sessions of the General Assembly, 
1. Decides that, with effect from the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly, the International Day of Peace shall be observed on 21 September each year, with this date to be brought to the attention of all people for the celebration and observance of peace; 
2. Declares that the International Day of Peace shall henceforth be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the Day; 
3. Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, regional and non-governmental organizations and individuals to commemorate, in an appropriate manner, the International Day of Peace, including through education and public awareness, and to cooperate with the United Nations in the establishment of the global ceasefire.”

h. End Reliance on Oil Resources in City Planning

Background
Oil and energy resources are driving our nation into a state of constant war and military expansion. Corporate oil and energy interests gain much from US military military support of strategic access to markets and reserves. These same oil interests gain much from American taxpayers in the forms of subsidies, sales, and taxpayer support of a bloated military budget. Charlottesville has committed to becoming a more sustainable city, this should not just be considered for the impacts on ecology but also for the impacts to global stability and peace.

Cost to City of Charlottesville
The costs to the city are difficult to determine but would fall under existing budgets.
The benefits to the city include increased savings on operations.

Action Required for Council
- Adopt and Adhere to Planetary Bill of Rights (4.a.)
- Declare Moratorium on Road Building
- Continue to Upgrade City Fleet
- Expansion of Public Transit (see 3.)
- Direct Planning Commission to Seek Ways to Limit Sprawl
- Include in Clear Goals for Reducing Oil Consumption and Sprawl in the Comprehensive Plan

 i. Support Community Efforts to Reduce Presence of
Military in City Schools

Background
Charlottesville City Schools have consistently allowed military recruiters into the school system, particularly during lunch periods in the school cafeterias. Numerous localities nationwide allow private groups to present an alternative to military service. A group of community members have expressed a willingness to begin “Alternatives to Military Service” program in the schools. As a result of the No Child Left behind Act, military recruitment is ensured in our schools, as is the sharing of student information with recruiters. Students and parents have the ability to opt out of information sharing, but the option is not well known. The School Board has the ability to issue periodic opt out forms to students and parents. Testing of students for military recruitment is present in many schools throughout the country, the school board has the ability to refrain from allowing the use of “Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery“ (ASVB). As a “City of Peace” the School Board has the duty to allow community members into the classrooms and into assemblies for information of peace building, peace history, and non-violence.

Material
Counter recruitment and Alternatives to Military Service materials will be submitted to Charlottesville City School Board.
Information from National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth: http://www.nnomy.org/
Information from War Resisters League: http://www.warresisters.org/counterrecruitment
Information from Rutgers School of Law found at: http://www.law.newark.rutgers.edu/files/Military%20Recruitment%20Report.pdf

Information on ASVAB http://www.studentprivacy.org/

Contact for “Alternatives to Military Service” in Charlottesville
Brandon Collins
536 Meade Ave
Charlottesville, Va 22902
(434) 249-3312
brandoncollins@comcast.net

Cost to City of Charlottesville
No Cost
Alternative- City contribution to alternatives to military service could be covered by City Schools budget or direct contribution from City of Charlottesville if desired by those bodies. This contribution would be small, less than $1000 for materials.

Action Required from Council
Express support for the following community efforts to Charlottesville City School Board:
- Allow “Alternatives to Military Service” table at Charlottesville High School during lunch periods.
- Opt Out of Information Sharing Notice Issued to Parents Twice Per School Year
- Seek Out Educational Presentations on Peace, Non-Violence, and Accuracy in Military Recruitment
- Ban Using “Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery” in City Schools
- Alternative- Require Parental Permission for ASVAB

 e-mail: brandoncollins@comcast.net to learn more!

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Message to Supporters- I Love You All!

Dear friends,

It has been a month since the election, and having gotten my ducks back in a row, and having caught my breath I have found the time to send along some thoughts and thanks to all who supported the campaign.

Thank you all for all of the support, the votes, the input, and the energy I have received throughout this city council campaign. I am deeply encouraged that so many people would cast a vote for someone like me, given the reality of Charlottesville’s political landscape. My belief is that there is likely even more support for many of the platform items I have presented.

I am preparing to move forward both as an activist, and as a politician, after meeting with as many people as possible to figure out what exactly folks think is the most productive way to move a social justice agenda forward.

The campaign gained some victories, some personal, some political, and some just plain old structural.

The obvious victory is that at least 1477 people (8%) expressed some interest in a different way of doing things, either specifically because of, in spite of, or in ignorance of, the fact that I am a card carrying socialist. Finding a way to mobilize or engage those folks may turn out to be tricky, but I am committed to figuring out how to do that. Keep in mind, many of the supporters of the campaign were not able to vote so that 3.7% of the population who voted for me is actually a bit higher.

Speaking of not voting, one thing that became important to the campaign early on was engaging ex-offenders. We had materials available for restoration of voting rights, and consistently brought issues of concern to ex-offenders and their families forward. I have been involved in the Believers and Achievers group since meeting some of them after a forum, and remain committed to being involved in that very important peer support group. Since we were able to include a great deal of their issues in the campaign, many seated councilors, and some of the candidates were made to pay attention to certain things. I hope the city remains focused on making this a city of second chances, and I hope to work towards making the city one of a solid first chance to begin with! Being involved with ex-offenders has been a victory for me personally, but also one where I think the campaign made difference.

Another personal, and political victory was being able to make some connections in public housing. Joy Johnson in particular was a great help to the campaign, and really did a lot to help me get my head around our affordable housing situation, as well as point me towards an interesting philosophy whereby the city could determine what it wants rather than open the door for any kind of business growth or housing developments.

As an activist, one goal I had set for the campaign was to make those connections in public housing and I hope to continue to build friendships, and help to organize. Politically we made it so that resident input is taken as a serious issue. Residents, not just in public housing, are consistently shut-out of the decision making that directly affects them. Sitting councilors like to say it isn’t so, but now they are being watched, we have called them out on it and we need to continue to do so. My fear is that we are now going to have a city council with a majority that isn’t interested in adequate resident input, and that redevelopment of public housing may proceed with too much influence from the top down and from business interests. Since we have raised that issue, we can continue to hold the fire to the new councilors when they are seated in January.

Along similar lines, despite terrible press coverage, we have made gains in making council, and the candidates, admit that we indeed have an affordable housing crisis. This issue may be the most in need of attention moving forward, and pretty much everyone I talked to on the campaign trail mentioned this as being the most important issue faced by the regular people of Charlottesville. Look towards an increase in the housing fund in the coming discussion about the budget, and look for ways to support that idea!

Jobs, jobs, jobs- This is where I think we have made the biggest impact on the discussions about Charlottesville. I was tickled pink to see at more than one council meeting the councilors falling all over each other to one up each other on how certain things could include a local workforce. I do think having raised the issue of what kinds of jobs and to whose benefit has really paid off. Early on in the campaign all of the candidates were talking about bio-tech and office parks. I am very glad to say that the follies of that kind of focus have been pointed out to many, and at the least some of the candidates had to adjust their positions on jobs in Charlottesville. The orange dot project, while still full of flaws in my mind, may have been influenced a bit as well, where now you are hearing a much bigger attention to actual people and job seekers rather than to solely contractors and entrepreneurs. I look forward to further pushing my idea of a jobs center in downtown Charlottesville, and seem to have the support of at least two councilors so far.

Early on in the campaign I pushed hard on public transportation expansion. This is moving forward. There is solid support from seated and incoming councilors for expansion. Holiday service is in the works, next stop- full Sunday service. I hope we can continue to push hard on this even with good support on the council. The better a system we can have the better off we are going to be. I hope pursue the creation of a Transit Riders Union if there is interest out there.

Frustration with the machine of media and government was anticipated before entering the council race. I have learned so much about local government and can honestly state that everything one thinks is broken and corrupt with society and government in general is certainly happening in our city in ways far more worse than I originally anticipated. Particularly when it comes to the discussions and decisions related to water, roads, and growth in general. There is big money out there working for its own interests, and both the Democratic Party and the press refuse to see any alternative to profit and the market as ways to address our biggest problems.

Nearing the end of the campaign, the media began to ignore us. I am not sure why exactly that is. Perhaps the message became more articulate and less lofty. More likely though is that the more we talked about something other than the water supply, the less spicy and controversial the campaign seemed to be in the minds of the press.

I was extremely upset that press coverage was tiny for the press conference on the affordable housing crisis (something that took me months to get my head around!). As the Bob and Dede folks continued to get their meme out there the press honed in on that as the controversial thing to report on instead of anything else. The media’s inability to critique the Democratic Party candidates, and their inability to even cover anything related to the issues or the campaign led to a great deal of voter disengagement right near the end. This played directly into the hands of the Democratic Party machine on election day when all that many voters needed to cast their vote was a sample ballot. Watching that all play out on election day was an eye opener for many of us, and was something that perhaps could have been anticipated a bit better.

The Democrats are indeed a machine that knows how to win, they play a numbers game, it is cynical and corrupt- I am so glad I am not one of them! Disenfranchisement of African-Americans indeed occurred and this played into both their numbers game, and in their political message which ignores whole sections of our city under the assumption that their votes are either taken for granted, or simply not needed.

The re-precincting shut out the entire community around the Jefferson School, as well as the community near Venable. These neighborhoods are mainly African-American, and low wealth communities. To move their voting place across town to a white, rich, neighborhood definitely reduced voter participation. I am not sure that this was done deliberately, but the decision was made without any consideration to those neighborhoods. I personally spoke to residents on those areas who expressed that would not vote on election day, and they were not surprised that their voices were not considered valuable enough to be included in the process. The neighborhood around Venable was also impacted, people used to voting at Venable for decades, who lived only two blocks away were re-precincted to Carver, which had been moved to Westwood road. This disenfranchisement should be of no surprise, even in a the supposedly “progressive” (whatever that means) town of Charlottesville the same old reinforcement of rich, white dominance occurs, and will likely continue to occur.

We did, however, make an attempt to give rides to the polls from Westhaven and the neighborhood surrounding it. Many thanks to all who helped in that effort!

The entire process was a learning experience, though much of what I learned was more a reinforcement of previously held beliefs. I do see a viability in independent political action. We influenced the discussion, and gained some influence with sitting councilors. People are hungry for justice, I had a lot to say and this was appreciated by a great many people. When people could hear the message and associate it with me, they voted for me. Had I been able to talk individually to 3000 more people I may have been able to win. I recognize that getting people to vote differently is tough, but not as tough as doing real organizing on issues. My hope was to motivate some to get involved in activism, and maybe a few have, but for the most part this still remains something that needs to be done. I am thrilled to acknowledge that my suspicions about the deep understanding that regular people have about alternatives to their economic and social situations were confirmed. People can make good decisions, they understand policy when it affects them, they see alternatives, and they have a healthy distrust of all systems of power.

So, moving forward I ask that all of you write me and schedule a time to meet. The main task is to figure out what those 1477 people were interested in most, how to reach them, and how to motivate them into action. Admittedly, I have been unable to jump right into post-campaign organizing, but I hope that using the “former candidate” moniker I may be able to squeeze some press attention out. The things is, what do I want to say?

Currently I have some things I am involved in, and have some thoughts on moving forward.

I would like to craft an agenda to present to council in January. Picking some of the more detailed and attainable parts of my platform and further laying them out with an eye towards finding some support from councilors. As an activist, I might then go on to move these things forward in various ways beyond the council. Here’s what I am thinking might work, and has some support on council-
-jobs center and influencing the orange dot project
-expansion of Transit- particularly Sunday service
-addressing the affordable housing crisis, expanding the housing fund
-alternatives to military service at CHS
…and probably more, I look forward to hearing from all of you on how this might work.

Another idea to look towards is the formation of a “People’s Council” that would include various social, economic, and environmental justice groups to craft an agenda, lobby council to make it happen, and engage in activism. perhaps with a goal of drafting candidates and filling commission seats at some point. I am working on sowing the seeds for this, and invite everyone to join in!

I am seeking to continue working on solidifying community support for the Living Wage campaign at UVA. Look for spam in your inbox on an interest meeting to consider a formal group or coalition to support Living Wage as they head into an aggressive late winter and early spring.

Of course, I really need to re-engage my ongoing committments to the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, the Socialist Party of Central Virginia, the IWW, and the Cville Workers Action Network and Virginia United Against Oppression. Feel free to drop me a line to learn more about these groups!

In Unity and Love,
Brandon Collins
(434) 249-3312

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VOTE TUESDAY- Where I Stand…a quick reference

VOTE E. BRANDON COLLINS
This TUESDAY, November 8th
(find your polling place) 
A quick reference for loads of details about where I stand on critical issues, but first…
 

My Platform
Jobs- “We Need Jobs and Better Wages!”   …..  “Guaranteed Employment”
Housing- “Cville’s Affordable Housing Crisis”  ….   “Housing- Let’s Get Serious” …
… Public Housing Survey
Transit Expansion- “Hop on the Bus” ….  “Hop on the Bus Additions”
Water- “Lies, Money…Our Water” …. “Oh the Water” …..  “Water Supply Thoughts”
Ecology- “Statement on MRE” …. “Sierra Club Questionnaire” …. “Clean Energy”
Social Justice- “Voice for Social Justice Still Needed”…. “Letter to Editor”
… “6/20 Council Notes”  …. “7/20 Answers” …. “Daily Progress Survey”
Humanity- “Peace is a Local Issue” ….  “NOW Survey”

Find Your Polling Place!

Forums and Interviews
Candidate Interview (audio and text) Charlottesville Tomorrow
Video “Speaking With Andrea” Candidate’s Forum
Audio and Video from “People’s Forum” at Random Row Bookstore
“Daily Progress” Candidates Forum

PLEASE GET OUT AND VOTE- TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8
for
E. BRANDON COLLINS

…if you need a ride call Brandon at (434) 249-3312… 

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