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Mon Jan 6, 2014

Supply and Demand: Gun Safety in Our Lifetime -New York Daily News

On the one-year anniversary of Newtown, and approaching the fifteenth year after my father was murdered with a handgun in Chicago, I felt something I hadn’t felt for a long time regarding gun violence in America: optimism. Working with the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation citizens’ organizing network, clergy in ten states have been approaching mayors, police chiefs, governors (and President Obama, who hasn’t responded) to ask that they pay more attention to the practices and capabilities of the companies they buy guns from.

 

Mon Jan 6, 2014

Metro IAF NY Work Airs on Dateline -NBC Dateline

On Sunday, January 5th, NBC Dateline aired an important story on Metro IAF's work to pressure the New York City Housing Authority to clean up the mold and moisture that causes asthma. This work led to a legal settlement with NYCHA and the CITY in December.

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/dateline/53856721#53856721

Tue Dec 17, 2013

Metro IAF NY Wins Federal Judicial Oversight to Ensure Real Cleanup of Mold by NYCHA -New York Daily News

The City Housing Authority is about to come under judicial oversight to erase one of its worst plagues — creeping mold in aging apartments, the Daily News has learned.

The city signed off on a consent decree Monday that will give a federal judge the ability to ensure the New York City Housing Authority finally eradicates the longstanding and dangerous condition.

The federal court intervention is seen as a game-changer in the battle to reform NYCHA’s inability to tackle an issue that affects hundreds of tenants citywide.

 

Mon Dec 16, 2013

German Deutsche Welle Interviews Rabbi Joel Mosbacher on Metro-IAF's Gun Violence Reduction Campaign -Deutsche Welle

One year after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, US gun violence continues unabated. European manufacturers compound the problem.

The father of Joel Mosbacher, a rabbi from New Jersey, was shot dead in a petty robbery in 1999. The anger stayed with his son, but he decided to use it wisely and got involved in the citizens' organizing network Metro IAF.

This year, he and other clergy from New Jersey started the "Do Not Stand Idly By" initiative to reduce gun violence. A key demand is to get gunmakers to accept responsibility, and act accordingly.

The top manufacturers fueling US gun culture are all European. Mosbacher and other local clergy have therefore decided to raise awareness and confront the manufacturers in Europe. DW talked to Rabbi Mosbacher about his visit.

Fri Dec 13, 2013

Metro IAF Delegation Lobbies Gun Manufacturers Abroad -New York Daily News

Clergy members from Metro IAF affiliates left Sunday, December 9th to lobby European gun manufacturers as part of the “Do Not Stand Idly By” gun violence reduction campaign. The clergy are seeking meetings with Austria’s Glock, Germany’s SIG Sauer and Italy’s Berretta, which dominate gun sales to police departments and government agencies in the U.S.

Their goals are to:

  1. Meet with executives at the major gun manufacturers Glock, SIG Sauer, and Baretta, as well as officials, policymakers, and local leaders.
  2. Learn more about European efforts to develop the relatively "safe gun" and firearms tracing technologies.
  3. Discuss the importance of conditions placed on firearms export licenses from Europe to the U.S.

Metro IAF has gotten a lot of press over this trip, including internationally. Read all about it here:

New York Daily News:

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/12/08/religious-leaders-head-to-europe-to-lobby-gun-execs-for-changes/

Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joshua-stanton/preventing-gun-violence-a_b_4409066.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share

Redattore Sociale: (Italian- Click HERE for translation)

http://www.redattoresociale.it/Notiziario/Articolo/451055/Un-anno-fa-la-strage-di-Newtown-Negli-Usa-le-armi-uccidono-30-mila-persone

Suddeutsche: (German- Click HERE for translation)

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/waffen-in-amerika-blutspur-nach-europa-1.1841620

 

Fri Dec 13, 2013

VOICE presses for Affordable Housing Units on Public Land -Sun Gazette

Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement, or VOICE, is asking County Board members to direct staff to analyze a list of publicly owned sites that could be used for affordable housing, and report back next April with the three most feasible sites.

The goal? Cut the cost of construction by building on parcels that the government already owns.

The ecumenical organization plans to present County Board Chairman Walter Tejada on Dec. 12 with a 10,000-signature petition in support of its effort, then turn up en masse at the Dec. 14 County Board meeting to press its case.

VOICE leaders have been meeting individually with County Board members over the past week. Organizers of the effort say board members have been receptive and asked informed questions, offering varying degrees of support for the concept.

VOICE of late has pressed for changes in county policy that would provide housing for those with significantly less income than those traditionally helped by the government’s existing policy, which focuses mostly on families earning no less than 50 percent of the region’s median income. VOICE wants the focus shifted to assist those earning between 30 percent and 50 percent of the median.

In a timeline put together by VOICE, the county government would move forward next June with a three-year plan for adding housing to public parcels, then cast a net for proposals from both for-profit and non-profit developers. Under the proposed timeline, ground-breaking on the first project would take place in December 2015.

Fri Dec 13, 2013

Common Ground Health Care Co-op Enrollment Surges -Business Journal

Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative, a creature of an Obamacare initiative for nonprofit customer-owned health plans, has enrolled more than 2,200 Wisconsinites so far — and 75 percent to 80 percent of them enrolled via the online health-insurance marketplace.

Bob De Vita, chief executive officer of Brookfield-based Common Ground, said he is confident the co-op will meet his goal of signing 10,000 people by the end of 2014.

“I would say with 19 counties in our service area, we’re going to be able to eclipse that,” he told an audience at the Milwaukee Press Club downtown at a luncheon Wednesday. “It’s a bold statement to make, but I think we’re going to do it.”

 

Tue Dec 10, 2013

Preventing Gun Violence a Year After Newtown -The Huffington Post

The days after the Newtown massacre, I, like so many religious and civic leaders, had the difficult task of meeting with scared parents and frightened students about the school shooting. There was nothing I could say that could possibly console them or alleviate all of their fears. My role was primarily one of listening and helping people find words to describe what they were feeling.

In many streams of Jewish thought, as in many other traditions, reflection is thought to be the basis for action. Careful, thoughtful, concerted action in response to what we learn through the reflective process. To the dismay of many, we as a country have not taken decisive action to prevent gun violence.

Gun violence has continued. I and many others feel far too passive as we watch the news and see story after story about it.

Sun Dec 8, 2013

NY, NJ clergymen to lobby European gun makers to toughen rules for U.S. sales -NY Daily News

In a novel approach, the religious leaders fly across the Atlantic on Sunday to push European gun manufacturers, who have a roughly 25% share of the U.S. market, to apply some of the more stringent standards they already follow in their own countries to the weapons they sell in the U.S.

RELATED: THANKSGIVING PRIME TIME TO TALK ABOUT GUNS: GROUP

They want the European gunmakers, for example, to refuse to allow their weapons to be sold through unlicensed gun dealers. They also want the manufacturers to renounce political meddling in the U.S. through contributions to lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association.

Their mission is the work of the Metro Industrial Arts Foundation, better known as Metro IAF, the highly effective grass-roots organizing group that is legendary in New York for building thousands of units of affordable housing.

Tue Nov 5, 2013

CONECT: Two East Haven cops guilty of civil rights abuses -The New Haven Register

Two East Haven Connecticut police officers were found guilty on October 21st in Hartford after a 20 day trial in US District Court.  They were charged with 9 counts of racial profiling, civil rights abuses, abuse of police powers, and obstruction of justice and now face up to 20 years in prison.

An anchor parish in CONECT, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in New Haven, and its pastor, Fr. Jim Manship, a co-chair of CONECT, were at the center of documenting the pattern of profiling, harassing, and abusing immigrants and Latinos by the East Haven police force.  Fr. Manship was considered the star witness in the case after video taping two officers in action in a parishioner’s store and then getting arrested  himself.  Several other parishioners also offered key testimony.

Today’s verdict was a huge vindication for them all and a direct result of their strength and courage in the face of intimidation!  The whole ordeal is a long way from over — sentencing, appeals, civil case, DOJ Consent Decree with the town to reform the police department, etc. -- but this verdict was a major step forward.

Mon Oct 28, 2013

GBIO Hosts Boston Mayoral Candidates Action -Boston.com

 

Over 325 GBIO leaders gathered on October 28th to gain commitments from Boston City Councilor John Connolly and State Representative Marty Walsh in support of Dearborn Middle School, women and minority-owned businesses, and limiting handgun purchases in the City of Boston.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tue Sep 17, 2013

GBIO Health Care Cost Containment Action -Boston Globe

  Over 200 GBIO leaders gathered major health providers, insurers, and healthcare system officials to examine their progress in adhering to the targets of landmark health care cost containment legislation passed in 2012.

The action received extensive coverage from major media:

The Boston Globe

John McDonough on Boston.com

WBUR

 

Mon Jun 3, 2013

Advocates: Pr. William communities to get $30 million for housing pilot program -The Washington Post

 

Millions in funding for a housing pilot program that would go toward restoring communities affected by the 2008 foreclosure crisis in Prince William County will be promised by two major financial institutions and a Virginia housing agency Monday, according to Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement.

Prince William suffered more than 20,000 foreclosures during the housing market collapse and was the hardest hit locality in Virginia, according to the coalition of interfaith groups, which has organized around housing issues in the county. The $30 million pilot program would buy and rehabilitate about 100 vacant, blighted townhouses and provide for 1,500 affordable rentals in some of the Prince William communities most affected by the collapse — around Dale City, Georgetown South in Manassas and Williamstown in Dumfries.

 

 

Thu May 30, 2013

Senate Sends Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants Bill to Gov’s Desk -CT News Junkie

 

bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver’s license received final passage Wednesday night as a group of advocates watched from the Senate balcony. Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, a nonpartisan interfaith group, pushed for the legislation in meetings with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and encouraged them to move forward with it. The organization of about a 15,000 people was founded in 2011, but this was their first full-court press for legislation. It was an uphill battle. All four bills that would have permitted these drivers’ licenses died in the Transportation Committee, but the organization with the support of Rep. Juan Candelaria of New Haven was determined to find a vehicle for passage.

Wed May 22, 2013

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

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

Mon May 20, 2013

School facilities bill grew from grass roots -Baltimore Sun

 

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

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

Mon May 6, 2013

Weighing IDs For Illegal Immigrants -Wall Street Journal

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

Fri May 3, 2013

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

 

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

Mon Apr 29, 2013

Connecticut General Assembly expected to let undocumented immigrants drive legally -New Haven Register

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

Mon Apr 22, 2013

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 
Fri Apr 19, 2013

His Father’s Murder Drives a Rabbi’s Pursuit of Gun Control -New York Times

In the months after his father’s murder in early 1999, those months stretching formlessly between the mourning ritual of shiva and the impending trial of a suspect, Rabbi Joel Mosbacher received many messages of solace. There was one type, however, that tested every atom of clerical forbearance he possessed“People said in this trying-to-be-helpful way, ‘This will make you a better rabbi,’ ” Rabbi Mosbacher, 43, recalled. “And nothing made me angrier. I didn’t want to be a better rabbi. I wanted my dad back.” ...While the rabbi had done a bit of tentative speaking on gun control as early as 2000, his commitment accelerated after 2006, when he first learned about the Industrial Areas Foundation. As a legacy of the renowned community organizer Saul Alinsky, the foundation largely mobilizes religious congregations. Its style, far from being earnest, is proudly combative.

Thu Apr 18, 2013

Gun control without waiting for Congress -New York Daily News

Fifty-five days after Newtown, daily reports of bipartisan support for measures to curb gun trafficking vie with photos of caskets holding the bodies of more young victims of violence.

Meantime, it is becoming clear that the progress of new legislation in Congress will be limited by politicians’ fears that aggressive action will cost contributions and votes in pro-gun districts.

Another response, proposed for many years by mayors and our own citizens organizations, does not depend on lawmakers. The purchasing power of the largest buyers of weapons — police departments, the U.S. military and the Homeland Security Department — can and should be used immediately to create a code of responsible conduct for gun manufacturers and gun dealers.

Mon Mar 25, 2013

Mayoral hopefuls' plans for public safety should scare New Yorkers witless -New York Daily News

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

Tue Mar 5, 2013

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

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

Sun Mar 3, 2013

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

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

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