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Tue May 8, 2012

Ken Cuccinelli looks at foreclosures in Manassas neighborhood -The Washington Post

Virginia’s top cop and Prince William County resident Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II toured a foreclosure-wracked neighborhood Thursday in Manassas.  He met privately with organizers and religious leaders from Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) and then toured the Manassas neighborhood of Georgetown South as neighborhood leaders described how vacant properties affect a place — and, as organizers and religious leaders put it, how banks and lenders used dubious tactics that helped Prince William become one of the worst hit places for foreclosures in the state.

Fri Apr 27, 2012

Predator GE: We Bring Bad Things to Life -The Nation

If the Justice Department wants to get serious about investigating financial fraud by Wall Street big boys, it ought to drop by the White House and interview Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric. Immelt is chair of President Obama’s jobs and competitive council, where he strategizes about how to revive American manufacturing. In some other places, only thirty miles from the White House, Immelt is known as the subprime foreclosure king.

Fri Apr 27, 2012

Openness is key to Cleveland school reform -Cleveland Plain Dealer

Greater Cleveland Congregations supports the legislation agreed upon by Mayor Frank Jackson and the Cleveland Teachers Union to reform the Cleveland School District, and urges the Ohio General Assembly to pass it in its current form.

Wed Apr 18, 2012

Obama’s mortgage unit is AWOL -NY Daily News

By Michael Gecan and Arnie Graf

Three months ago, in his State of the Union speech, President Obama announced a new task force to investigate mortgage fraud and bring some measure of relief to the 12 million American families who are either losing their homes or in danger of losing them.  The new Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group would be co-chaired by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, U.S. Attorney John Walsh of Colorado and three Washington insiders from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Obama said, “This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.”  Whether or not the President, attorney general and others intend to get around to this task someday, “speed” was a terrible word to choose. Because 85 days after that speech, there is no sign of any activity.

Tue Apr 3, 2012

The Olympic Games Help Londoners -The New York Times

Britain last hosted the summer Olympics in 1948, just after World War II when we were broke and our aspirations were low. The Stadium was dominated by a quote from the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin: “The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.” This time around, Londoners can do more than take part: we can win.

Fri Mar 30, 2012

Bronx photo exhibit depicts poor living conditions for some in public housing; organizers call for action -New York Daily News

A girl in a pink-painted bedroom sits on a bunkbed wearing an airmask over her nose, clutching a machine to help her breathe.  The image is one of nearly two dozen photographs featured in the new exhibit, How The Other Half (Still) Lives: Bloomberg's Legacy?  Taken by photojournalist Ana Brigida, the photos show tenants living with crumbling walls, exposed pipes and moldy ceilings at various public housing complexes in Bronx, Harlem and lower Manhattan.

“They're amazing photographs that show the beauty and strength of people who are basically being condemned to deteriorating health because of the city's lack of will to truly fix these problems,” said Marielys Divanne, lead organizer with South Bronx Churches and Manhattan Together, the community organizing groups sponsoring the exhibit.

Fri Mar 30, 2012

Clergy, children protest cuts to city after-school programs -The Baltimore Sun

Religious leaders joined hundreds of children and parents in a march around Baltimore's Inner Harbor on Thursday afternoon to protest Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's proposed budget cuts to after-school programs.  "Our children are our jewels, not the Inner Harbor," Bishop Douglas Miles, co-chair of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, said in front of the Baltimore Convention Center as children and parents cheered.

Fri Mar 23, 2012

Leggett commits to Silver Spring senior housing project -The Montgomery Gazette

County Executive Isiah Leggett on Tuesday committed $1.5 million toward a senior housing project next to the future Silver Spring Library.  Leggett unveiled the plan in a meeting with Action in Montgomery, a group of religious congregations lobbying for improvements in senior living, at the Kehilat Shalom synagogue in Montgomery Village. Housing and Community Affairs Director Richard Nelson said the project could be completed as early as late 2014.

Tue Mar 20, 2012

DC groups pool buying power to save on electricity -Associated Press

Some pray in churches, mosques and synagogues. Others aren't religious, serving the community by providing housing or education.  However, the leaders of more than 100 religious and community organizations in the Washington area share one interest: saving money on electricity to better serve their communities. That's why they will gather Tuesday to review bids they requested from electricity suppliers to power their church halls, charter schools and nonprofit organizations.

Tue Mar 20, 2012

Before Games, Workers Win a Big Event -The New York Times

LONDON — Enveloped in a warm, glimmering haze, the Olympic Stadium looks like a vast, silvery spaceship come to unlikely rest in the working-class East End.  Our viewing platform is no less unlikely. I’m standing with Lina Jamoul, a community organizer, at the top of a giant new shopping mall. It feels as though someone in Santa Monica should file a claim for grand-theft mall. Brutal, despairing riots swept across the ancient working-class neighborhoods near here less than a year ago, and vast public dollars devoted to sport could appear grotesque.  Except that Ms. Jamoul and her fellow thousands with the East London Communities Organization have turned these games into a triumph. In a few months, as tourists descend on these neighborhoods, every Briton working inside the Olympic perimeter, including tea fetchers and souvenir shop workers, will make wages worth about $4 an hour above this country’s minimum wage.

Wed Mar 14, 2012

Religious, business leaders support aggressive cap on health cost increases -The Boston Globe


Religious and business leaders in Massachusetts are calling for state lawmakers to rein in health spending more aggressively than House Speaker Robert DeLeo has proposed, but groups representing doctors and hospitals warned that slowing spending too sharply could be harmful.  The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, which has provided a significant consumer voice throughout the state’s health care overhaul, said Tuesday night that DeLeo’s proposal to cap health care cost increases at about 3.7 percent annually, an amount comparable to the yearly growth in the state’s economy, was insufficient. DeLeo said recently that was his goal for containing costs in a long-awaited bill expected to be filed shortly and acted on by legislators this summer.

Tue Mar 13, 2012

Tutoring services offered at MPS lack a progress report -Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Providers of after-school tutoring services mandated for low-income students in underperforming Milwaukee Public Schools receive millions of dollars in taxpayer funds but operate under limited oversight and with little accountability for results, according to a report released Monday.  The tutoring, which can cost nearly $2,000 in federal dollars per child, is not reaching as many students as it could, and it's difficult to tell whether the students served are making academic gains as a result, a report by Common Ground says.

Sun Mar 11, 2012

Pr. William religious leaders want answers from GE over housing crisis -The Washington Post


In October, a group of Northern Virginia religious congregationsgathered at Freedom High School in Woodbridge to discuss housing issues in Prince William County and demand action.  Under the banner of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), religious leaders wanted banks to pledge to help Prince William, one of the communities hit hardest by foreclosures in the region.

Tue Mar 6, 2012

Virginians protest General Electric over foreclosures -Center for Public Integrity


A crowd of Northern Virginia residents and clergy members marched to General Electric's offices in Washington DC today, demanding that the company's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, take responsibility for helping homeowners who received subprime loans from the company's now-closed mortgage arm, WMC Mortgage Corp.

Sun Feb 26, 2012

Use AG settlement to help struggling homeowners -Richmond Times Dispatch

By: CLYDE ELLIS AND NANCY MCDONALD LADD On Sunday afternoon, Feb. 19, the Virginia House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees failed our state's struggling homeowners. Faced with a decision about how to spend the $69 million in cash due Virginia from the National Mortgage Settlement negotiated by the 50 states' attorneys general, Virginia legislators released budgets that would divert these funds to fill budget gaps and finance pet projectsinstead of helping the thousands of families and communities devastated by foreclosure across the commonwealth.

Sun Feb 26, 2012

Community organisers help 1,200 people into Olympic jobs -IPPR

Lina Jamoul from London Citizens argues that Work Programme contractors could learn lessons from London Citizens’ success in helping east Londoners to find jobs at the 2012 games.

Wed Feb 22, 2012

Five county prosecutor candidates pledge reform -Cleveland Jewish News

Five Democratic candidates for Cuyahoga County prosecutor promised criminal justice reforms to a standing-room only crowd nearly 1,000 at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple at a February 20 forum organized by Greater Cleveland Congregations. No Republican entered the race, so the March 6 Democratic primary will determine the next prosecutor.

Wed Feb 22, 2012

Nonprofit health insurer lands federal loan -Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Common Ground, a coalition of religious groups and other organizations, has been awarded a $56.4 million federal loan to start a nonprofit health insurer that would be run by its members.

Mon Feb 13, 2012

Health Care in Massachusetts: 'Abject Failure' or Work in Progress? -WBUR

The Massachusetts law has had strong and steady support — and little opposition. Last year an attempt to repeal the "individual mandate" — the part that requires most people to have insurance — couldn't get enough signatures. Last week only 39 people had "liked" its Facebook page. To get an idea of how it's working at the ground level, I stopped by the office of Dieufort Fleurissaint, a self-employed Haitian-American businessman. He has a tax prep and insurance business. He's also an evangelical minister who worked with a group called Greater Boston Interfaith Organization that helped get the health law passed.

Thu Feb 2, 2012

Alinsky, Foreclosures and Holding Banks Accountable -The Huffington Post


<p style="\\&quot;text-align:" left;\\"="">Memo to the Obama Administration: if you want to see the makings of a national model to hold big banks accountable for fixing foreclosure-devastated neighborhoods, go to Milwaukee and talk to citizen leaders of a community organization who are practicing what Saul Alinsky preached.

Tue Jan 17, 2012

Dear President Obama: You're No Saul Alinsky -Forbes

By Ralph Benko, Contributor

Obama is no Alinsky. Would that he were!  One of Alinsky’s main successors is Arnie Graf. Mark Shields privately describes Graf as belonging in “the social justice hall of fame.” Graf briefly mentored young Barack Obama, a memory recently shared with this columnist (some of which also was recorded by the National Journal’s Will Englund).  In 1986, young Barack Obama came to a national training, conducted in California by Alinsky’s legacy organization, the Industrial Areas Foundation. Over 100 young people attended. Graf was a trainer there. He ended up having three personal conversations with young Obama....

Mon Jan 16, 2012

Put focus on home health care for seniors -News Day



There is hardly a day when we don't have a conversation with someone about an elderly relative who needs care. Who among us on Long Island isn't touched by seniors in the family who can no longer cook a meal or shower unaided, or who prematurely move to a nursing home because they can't afford or find a qualified home health aide?  The number of seniors on Long Island is quietly growing larger by the year, and the challenges in providing quality home health care and the workforce to deliver it are growing too.  Through several hundred individual conversations with congregants of different faiths and backgrounds, those of us at LI-CAN (Long Island Congregations Associations and Neighborhoods, a multifaith, nonpartisan citizens' organization) have heard the frustration of those unable to find qualified aides. Demand for home health aides far exceeds the number available, even though thousands of Long Islanders are unemployed....

Fri Dec 23, 2011

Launch of the Neukölln Citizens’ Organization -BMW Stiftung



After the successful setup of independent citizens’ organizations in Berlin-Schöneweide and Berlin-Wedding/Moabit, Berlin-Neukölln has also created the conditions for a functioning civic organization based on the community organizing model.  With its members including some 40 Neukölln groups, including migrant organizations, school development associations, neighborhood centers and church communities, and co-funded by local businesses, associations, and foundations, the Neukölln Citizens’ Organization will be officially and formally launched at an inaugural event. 

Tue Dec 20, 2011

In Gilded City, Living Wage Proposal Still Stirs Fears -New York Times

In 1996, the Industrial Areas Foundation, an organizing group that has built thousands of homes across New York City, proposed that private firms contracting with the city pay food service workers, security guards, cleaners and temporary office workers a wage that ranged at the time from $7.25 to $12 an hour. “We started with a pretty simple idea: If you work full time, you shouldn’t be poor,” recalled Jonathan Lange, an organizer with Metro I.A.F., the local affiliate.