A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Come to City Council Tuesday & support ending the Iraq Occupation

Please come to the Alameda City Council meeting this Tuesday (August 21) to support Councilmember Matarrese's resolution on "supporting a diplomatic approach to ending the Iraq war and bringing our troops home."

This is item 5-B on the agenda, which is one of the first items for discussion. Please come early (7:15 PM) and meet with the Alameda Peace Network for a rally/debrief. When you get into the meeting, fill out a speaker slip, and come up during the public comment period and explain why Alamedans need to support this resolution - not just that we need to get out of Iraq, but specifically why this is appropriate for Alameda to take a stand on a matter of national scope.

Alas, I won't be able to be there myself! If you cannot make it either but feel this is important, please write a printed letter (not an email) and mail it to city hall or deliver it to the city council chambers.

I've blogged about this before; we really need to make it clear why it's worthwhile and appropriate to pass this resolution.

To recap from my previous post on the subject:

  • Resolutions of a statement about national policy, including Iraq, have been passed by cities around the country. This is nothing new.
  • The federal government needs to know what its states, counties, cities, and citizens are thinking. It is thus appropriate for a city to pass a resolution about a national policy.
  • This is indeed a local issue! Our national guard is needed at home, not abroad doing the job of the military.
  • Regardless of whether one opposes the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, we need our National Guard here to protect us here in Alameda.
  • If we were to be hit with a major Earthquake (which could happen at any time), another natural disaster, or an attack by terrorists (domestic or foreign) here in the Bay Area, and the National Guard were still deployed abroad, we would be stuck without that infrastructure.
  • Demanding an end to the occupation and bringing home our troops is a matter of Self-interest for the City of Alameda. To leave that decision to the Federal Government while we stand idly by is an abdication of our responsibility.

Here is the resolution:


WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Alameda, on March 16, 2003, passed resolution 13565, which encouraged a multilateral diplomatic approach to the Iraq situation as provided by the United Nations as an alternative to war and

WHEREAS, The City of Alameda strongly supports the women and men serving in the United States Armed Forces in Iraq and recognizes the sacrifices that each of them is making, including those made by Alamedans in active and reserve units of the services, our local U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Unit, our local Coast Guard units, and members of the California National Guard, and

WHEREAS, the war ensued and Federal policy has placed our troops in the middle of sectarian violence within Iraq, tantamount to civil war, with no plan or strategy for eventual exit, and

WHEREAS, the costs of deploying U.S. troops, in particular the call-up and over-extension of our reservists and members of the California National Guard for deployment in Iraq have been significant, as determined in lost lives, combat injuries, psychic trauma, disruption of family life, financial hardship for individuals, families, and businesses, interruption of careers; and

WHEREAS, the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces continue to serve in Iraq with bravery and distinction; and

WHEREAS, many of our veterans returning from this war and prior wars with injury and or trauma will, along with their families, require and deserve the best medical and social services to address their needs as a result of their service; making increased quality health care necessary across the country and including services provided in Alameda County and the City of Alameda; and

WHEREAS, the continued deployment of the California National Guard and Coast Guard units to Iraq puts Alameda and many California communities at risk in the event of a natural disaster, such as a major earthquake or storm; and

WHEREAS, the costs have resulted in unprecedented Federal budget deficits, which have and will affect the State of California and Alameda directly;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council of the City of Alameda calls upon the President, Congress and the Governor of California and our state legislators to take immediate steps to establish a diplomatic approach to the violence in Iraq, a plan for bringing our troops home, turning the resolution of the conflict over to the United Nations and place a top priority on providing the necessary health care and social services to our returning veterans; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Alameda calls for full funding of services to the brave men and women returning after service in the United States Armed Forces, including medical, psychological, housing, and other support services, and support to local governments funding such services.

The full packet for the city council is here.

MoveOn Press Conference: The Local Cost of Iraq

Yesterday, MoveOn chapters across the country, including the chapter representing the northern half of California's 13th congressional district, held press conferences highlighting the local cost of the Iraq war (or as I prefer to say, occupation).

We held this press conference in front of Alameda Hospital to highlight the health care impact, but also talked about how it affects other issues such as education, affordable housing, and so forth. The numbers unveiled were stunning. Here in our congressional district alone, we have been paying 1.4 billion dollars. That's money that oculd have been spent on so many other things!

I was volunteered to be the "MC" of the event, which I was happy to do. Pete Stark himself came to speak — he's been a champion of getting us out of Iraq so we don't need to convince him on anything. Wilma Chan also spoke, as well as Frank Matarrese. The conference was very well attended, in spite of being held in the middle of a work day, in a month when so many people are out of town on vacation!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Press Conference this Thursday, Alameda Hospital

The local branch of MoveOn is holding a press conference this Thursday out in front of Alameda Hospital.

MoveOn has compiled information for communities around the country to show just what this Iraq war — occupation, really — is costing us. So like other groups all over the country, we will be hosting a press conference as this information is unveiled for the first time. The event is in front of Alameda Hospital because it symbolizes one of the many things that we could be doing with this cost instead of sinking it into the Middle East (and making companies like Halliburton even richer) — things like health care, education, fighting the climate crisis, and so forth.

Please come by the Alameda Hospital (outside, the Clinton Avenue side) on your lunch hour for our noon press conference. Show the media who will be there that you care.

Sign up with MoveOn to attend this event

Friday, August 10, 2007

My chat with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters

Last Week, Secretary of State Debra Bowen came out with a "dramatic decision" decertifying certain voting machines with potential security flaws.

Apparently the lobbyists and pundits are trying to undermine her efforts, so several groups like Democracy for America and California for Democracy have asked people to write letters to the editor of local newspapers and call the local registrar of voter supporting her decision. Since I just read a nice letter in the Alameda Sun praising Bowen, I thought I'd call the registrar of voters. I left a message on his voice mail.

Surprisingly, he called me back. We had a really interesting conversation. He pointed out what he felt were flaws in the report (essentially that the break-ins simulated in the tests would have been impossible given their security setup). In any case, I was impressed that he is really concerned about these issues, certainly more than our county supervisors are, as regular readers of this blog or the marquee of the Grand Lake Theatre are certainly aware.

I mentioned to him that I am also very concerned about election issues that have to do less with voting machines and more with voter intimidation, scrubbing, Jim Crow kinds of rules, etc. as chillingly described by Greg Palast in Armed MadHouse (paperback edition).

I am still concerned about voting systems and voting integrity in Alameda County, but not quite as much now.

He did point out something interesting: His staff of 27 expands to 4,500 on election day, which is very difficult to manage. He mentioned that they are always looking for good people to get involved on election day. Personally, I'm usually involved in a campaign, getting out the vote, but for those who would rather help make the elections run smoothly from the inside, he (and I) encourage you to sign up to become a poll worker.