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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.

Fri Feb 22, 2013

Gov. Kasich invokes 'the Good Book' while urging Medicaid expansion -Cleveland Plain Dealer

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Gov. John Kasich touted expansion of Ohio’s Medicaid program in his State of the State address as the right and compassionate thing to do, invoking his personal faith and lessons from “the Good Book” as a guide in his decision. The governor urged lawmakers to examine their consciences and not let concerns about government spending, something conservative Republicans in the General Assembly have expressed, trump what he laid out as a moral imperative: helping the less fortunate.

Fri Feb 22, 2013

Governors Fall Away in G.O.P. Opposition to More Medicaid -The New York Times

Under pressure from the health care industry and consumer advocates, seven Republican governors are cautiously moving to expand Medicaid, giving an unexpected boost to President Obama’s plan to insure some 30 million more Americans.... Every few days, state hospital associations and advocates for poor people issue reports asserting that the economic benefits of expanding Medicaid would outweigh the costs. In recent weeks, such reports have been issued in Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. The existence of such a report was a decisive factor in Ohio, where Gov. John R. Kasich decided to embrace an expansion after months of lobbying by coalitions of churches, hospitals, business groups and others. Publication of that study — by Ohio State University, the Health Policy Institute of Ohio, the Urban Institute and Regional Economic Models — was “a major watershed moment,” said Ari Lipman, lead organizer of Greater Cleveland Congregations and chairman of the Northeast Ohio Medicaid Expansion Coalition.

Mon Feb 18, 2013

Let Immigrants Get Driver's Licenses -Hartfort Courant

In a perfect world, everyone in this country would be here legally and be eligible for all of the privileges of citizenship. In the world we've got, however, there are some 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country, tens of thousands in Connecticut. The vast majority came here to work and gain a better life — the same reason people have been coming to these shores for nearly four centuries. As New York Times writer Adam Davidson recently observed, the immigrants mostly help the economy. But to do so, many need to drive.... Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, a group of more than two dozen religious congregations from the southwestern part of the state, has researched the issue and believes that allowing an estimated 54,000 undocumented immigrants to get licenses would make driving safer and less expensive for everyone.

Mon Feb 4, 2013

Ohio's Gov. John Kasich to seek Medicaid Expansion -Cleveland Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio --Saying that an expansion of Medicaid will help “some of the poorest Ohioans, Gov. John Kasich included the much-anticipated announcement in his two-year budget proposal Monday. The move makes Ohio one of a growing number of Republican-led states to fulfill an option under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid to those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Mon Feb 4, 2013

Hugh Bailey: Working on behalf of the powerless -Connecticut Post

The angry letters practically write themselves. Illegal means illegal. Stop rewarding law-breakers. And on and on. Few issues lend themselves to demagoguery as easily as immigration. So the idea of allowing people referred to as illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses from the state of Connecticut will be a nonstarter to many people.

Fri Feb 1, 2013

Bloomberg vows to eliminate backlog of NYCHA repairs by end of year -New York Daily News

Mayor Bloomberg promised Thursday to eliminate a stunning backlog of 420,000 public housing apartment repairs by the end of the year. But critics were skeptical the city could meet its goals. “Today marks the beginning of the end of this problem,” the mayor declared at a press conference in the Drew-Hamilton Houses in East Harlem.

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