Posts Tagged ‘classism’

keepmonroeparkopen

There is a scheduled Land Use meeting at City Hall on Tuesday February 18th at 3pm, where the proposal for the privatization of Monroe Park will be presented by Alice Massey.

Please come out with friends, signs, and voices to be heard. It is imperative for the freedom of citizens of Richmond, the houseless, low income, radical social movements, and spontaneous events that we STOP the City from leasing Monroe Park to any private party, and STOP there from ever being a permit process or fee for holding events in our public commons.

For more information please check out the following article and links:

Op Ed: Monroe Park Needs Renovations NOT Privatization

Monroe Campaign

Monroe Park Occupation

 

 

***

Richmond Water Rate Reformers Respond to Utility Report

Richmond water rate reformers had been eagerly anticipating the Sept. 17th City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities Report to Council (pursuant to City ordinances 2013-58-77 and 2013-61-79, study performed by DPU with consultant Ratfelis Financial Consultants). A copy of the study was finally earlier this month and is attached to this press release. Disturbingly, the report has not been worth the wait. It lacks substance and appears to be written to support the existing rate structure. At this point, City Council has asked it’s staff to review and make some comments and recommendations for next steps, which suggests that it will consider the issue further in the next budget cycle.
Citizens are urged to contact the press and their City Council representative and ask why the base charges cannot be further reduced and why the PILOT for federal tax is still part of their bills. 

Report lacks substance:
Pages    Topics
00-01    Table of contents
02-03    Executive summary
04-05    Purpose
06-09    Concepts
10-12    Reconciliation
13-13    Expenses
14-15    PILOT cost
16-20    Affordability measures
21-26    Low Income assistance

The only things new are some subsidy ideas, which are arguably not the purpose of DPU. There is no consideration for the relatively high base charges of $26.11 (which Mayor Jones only partially addressed last year) or the unlawfulness or appropriateness of the federal PILOT (payment in lieu of federal taxes, which, again, no private business pays to the City). In the report chart (page 3) showing how rates would change if this PILOT payment in lieu of federal income tax was eliminated, instead of showing a reduction in the base service charge, the report shows only a reduction in the volumetric charge. It does not justify the allocation of the charges to the base service charge vs. the volumetric charge.  (more…)

Here is an update on the issue of the Water utility charges in the City of Richmond. The current charges hurt low income and elderly folks while subsidizing corporations and businesses water usage. Its bad for our low income residents and bad for the environment. From Scott Burger:

Hey everybody,

I hope you all had a great summer.

We will be ramping up the Richmond, VA water rate reform campaign again this October.

For one thing today (Sept. 30) is the day that the City utility should be presenting some options to City Council. Also, the new format for utility bills should be rolling out. You may have seen that DPU is also working on their efforts with a “Citizens’ Academy”.

Here is the “311” on that:

“The city of Richmond Department of Public Utilities introduces a four- session course to give participants a working knowledge of their public utilities provider. Each course consists of a classroom portion and ends with a tour of the utility functions discussed. Participants are encouraged to register for all four courses. Class size is limited to 20 students. Each class is scheduled on a Tuesday afternoon from 4–6 p.m. in October at various locations throughout the utility.

“Our goal is to create a better understanding of how the utility manages the important resources entrusted to us and provide our customers with an educational, interesting and engaging experience,” said Utilities Director Bob Steidel.

· SESSION 1: Oct. 1, 2013 – DPU Operations Center Atrium
400 Jefferson Davis Highway, Richmond, VA 23224
· SESSION 2: Oct. 8, 2013 – Wastewater Treatment Plant
1400 Brander Street, Richmond, VA 23224
· SESSION 3: Oct. 15, 2013 – Water Treatment Plant
3920 Douglasdale Road, Richmond, VA 23221
· SESSION 4: Oct. 22, 2013 – DPU Operations Center Atrium
400 Jefferson Davis Highway, Richmond, VA 23224
All sessions take place from 4-6 p.m.

For questions or to register, call or email DPU Public Relations and
(more…)

U.S. Hands Off Syria – Because Attacking People in Syria is Unacceptable; Because Genocide is Unacceptable
Members of the Wingnut Anarchist Collective participated and endorsed Friday’s “U.S. Hands Off Syria, We Need Jobs Not War” protest. The event was initiated and organized by our friends at the Bainbridge Collective and the Defenders of Freedom, Justice, and Peace.
We were glad to see a response to the recent aggression from the Obama Administration towards Syria. We were glad to see everyone there who came out to show resistance to the Military Industrial Complex and blood-hungry US Imperialist government.
However, some aspects of this protest were troubling to us and deserve thoughtful, respectful critique. The rhetoric of “We Need Jobs Not War” seems to aim to appeal to the unemployed or underemployed people living in Amerikkka with the hopes to draw them into the anti-war movement. The problem with that rhetoric however, is that it is US-centric and ultimately misleading as to the intentions of the US government to legitimately provide basic needs for people living within Amerikkkan borders. The reasons we shouldn’t go to war with Syria are numerous and ultimately should have more to do with our compassion for and solidarity with the people of Syria than our desires for jobs at home. And really, how can we make demands of a government that exists off the daily exploitation and genocide of peoples within the US and around the world and the destruction of the earth? Why would we believe that the funds used in Amerikkkan wars would ever be used in an alternative, positive way when consistently, across Amerikkka, as schools are shut down in poor, People of Color neighborhoods, cities are spending millions building new jails for the school-to-prison pipeline.
An inherently oppressive government will never grant the right to dignified work to workers of Amerikkka, who they label illegal and criminal, and whose communities are attacked with chemical warfare through environmentally racist plants and landfills. How can we demand jobs from a government where labor unions are consistently busted with the iron fist of Amerikkkan corporations? How can we demand fair jobs from a government that uses prisoner slave labor as a means of production and uses chemical warfare against them when they rebel?
The United States of Amerikkka is not interested in mutual aid where our work is respected and is inherent to our collective survival. Though we cannot make these demands of the US government, we can challenge ourselves to show solidarity with strikers on the picket lines; with truckers shutting down ports; with undocumented workers creating community gardens to feed their families as the food they pick in the fields is hauled thousands of miles away; with prison hunger strikers. We can challenge ourselves to produce what we need in our communities because a government hell bent on imperialism and transnational domination will never meet our needs. And we can never show solidarity with people being killed by the Amerikkkan police and military if we dichotomously denounce and ask for the help of the government.
We want to support the Syrian people in their revolutionary struggle for their own liberation; perhaps one way to do this is by creating mutual-aid in our own communities, and thereby rejecting reliance on the US war machine, attacking poverty drafting into the military. In acknowledging the struggle for liberation in Syria, we recognize US intervention would not be the beginning of but a bloody addition to the conflict in Syria. We acknowledge people living in Syria are the only people who can legitimately create self-determination, and decide what that looks like, for themselves. It is so important to stand against US imperialism; though we also challenge ourselves and others to stand in solidarity with peoples struggling against oppressive states regardless of/before US involvement and to strive for a broader scope of understanding to the complexities of struggle outside a Western lens. We also recognize that we do not currently have communication with folks in Syria or from Syria with the exception of a few anarchist articles on Syria or by people living in Syria. Showing solidarity with the people of Syria means demanding nothing less than absolute autonomy, within all the constructed borders of the world. And that is a demand that no government will ever grant but must be created; it must be built upon the ashes of a government that can exist and has only existed off the blood of the exploited.
We should continue to hold protests and actions against US Imperialism, all genocidal states, and in fierce solidarity with those who struggle for liberation; and our critique is not meant to attack organizers or participants of Friday’s protest. We hope that this will promote more conversation and awareness of the multitude of intersectional issues that come into play every time the US Government decides to use force to interfere in other countries. Our desires and needs will not be fulfilled by Amerikkka’s creation of more exploitative jobs. We don’t think yours will be either. Next time we meet on the streets we hope to hear rallying cries for autonomy and self-determination in the spirit of mutual-aid and collective freedom for the people in Syria as well all those around the world struggling for liberation. We deserve it.

Wingnut Statement On The Monroe Park Renovation Plan

The current renovation plans for Monroe Park are riddled with problems and are overall, entirely unacceptable.

Our demands regarding the park are as follows:

We oppose the renovation plans in their entirety, as they are racist, classist, and a thinly veiled attempt at privatizing and capitalizing on a public park.

  1. There needs to be an immediate cessation of all attempts from MPAC and the City of Richmond to criminalize the homeless.
  2. We demand the inclusion of homeless people in all decisions relating to homelessness, housing, free food programs, etc. We demand that the homeless be given roles with the power to make decisions about their own futures in whatever groups or organizations are making these decisions.
  3. We demand the cessation of the endless promotion of the Conrad Center as the solution to homelessness in Richmond. We demand the cessation of the attempts to centralize all programs that serve the homeless at the Conrad Center, which has aggressively pushed its agenda of misinformation for years now.
  4. We demand that there be NO paid park director, especially at the outrageous salary of 150,000 a year. (more…)

Charles Samuels and the Monroe Park Advisory Council are putting a lot of energy into telling people that the renovations of Monroe Park must be done all at once with the entire park fenced off for the duration. The cite money as one of the major factors of this. And they have also frequently insisted that it is basically impossible to do the construction in stages. At last night’s meeting they even had Glenn Telfer, an engineer from Draper Aden Associates, get up and speak to the need to close down the entire park to do the necessary renovations.

However, I (Mo Karn) went up to Glenn Telfer after he spoke and asked him about the possibility of doing the renovation of Monroe Park in stages. He said it was of course possible, though potentially more costly. But plans for a staged renovation keepig a section of the park open the whole time could be made. He said if the City of Richmond wanted such plans drawn up he or his firm would.

If you think about it, lots of utility work and construction on public use areas is done in stages. Take roads for example. When a highway like 64 has to be repaved, they do not just shut down the entire highway to repave it at once. They repave roads in stages. Yes, it takes longer and can cost more money to do this work in stages. However, VDOT and the City of Richmond frequently do important renovation work in stages because they are balancing the financial cost with the human cost. It would be incredibly inconvenient for entire roads to be shut down for repaving, or entire lengths of roads shut down at once for working on water mains or what have you.

Public works projects are commonly done in stages, at a slightly higher cost, because the idea is to avoid inconveniencing people too much during renovations. It is possible that the only reason this has not been the suggested method of construction in this case is because the folks making decisions about the Monroe Park plans do not place value on the people they will be inconveniencing the most. At best this is an oversight on their part. One which we wish to point out.  The people who use Monroe Park ARE valuable. It would be incredibly harmful for a variety of reasons to shut down the entire park, just like it would too harmful to shut down all of Chamberlayne to re-pave it. The park is used by a lot of different people and has developed many different types of community and connection through the interactions of people in that space. Not only will homeless people be inconvenienced, but also VCU students, Oregon Hill residents, and many others.

The engineer at the meeting also mentioned that they were dealing with some unknowns in terms of what exactly is under the park as utilities.  This makes it seem even more important that a section of the park remains open. Unknowns might make the renovations take much longer than the projected time period. Who knows, this might even turn into some Big Dig fiasco. The unknowns and lengthy time period make it vital that a section of the park remain available. If not we may have VCU students who miss out on using the park for years of their Richmond experience, homeless who can’t connect to other homeless or any homeless services, and a city missing a vital greenspace.

Other things to consider are that Monroe Park has the only public restrooms and drinking fountain in the area. If these will be unavailable, there need to be others made available and well advertised.  If not, where will people go to the bathroom without risking trespassing or public urination charges? If there is not a supply of public drinking water how will people with little or no money stay hydrated through a hot Richmond summer? (more…)

Richmond Food Not Bombs has been sharing food in Monroe Park for over sixteen years now. We have developed many connections and friendships over the course of our existence, helped provide healthy food to many individuals who may not have had access to it otherwise, and become a staple of social activity for many people’s Sunday afternoons.

The proposed renovations to Monroe Park are an attack , a judgement on who the park should and shouldn’t be for. It is an attack on the homeless, the “homeless-appearing” (whatever that means – it’s in the Monroe Park Advisory Council’s renovation plans), and groups and individuals who don’t judge people by their social status or whether they have conventional means of acquiring shelter.

We will not stand for it.

The only change that the park really needs is for the city to do its job when it comes do doing maintenance on the bathrooms, as they are functional but one of the water pipes to the sinks has corroded away. Other improvements, such as installing permanent chess tables, or a playground area for kids would be nice, but NOT at the cost of driving out the folks who currently congregate in the park, shutting the entire park down for 18 months, or privatizing the security of the park.

Food Not Bombs will resist all attempts to shut the entire park down for any amount of time. (more…)

In the so-called “conversation” surrounding the proposed Monroe Park renovations, there is a lot that isn’t being discussed. Leaving aside councilman Charles Samuels’ blatant lies about the functionality of the bathrooms and drinking water availability in the park, the lack of inclusion of either food sharing groups or the people who eat with them, and the question of whether the proposed renovations are even necessary, that still leaves us with the problem of the TOTAL lack of communication in regards to the plan to close the ENTIRE PARK for 9 months to a year and a half (we’ve recieved two different numbers from two different people involved in the planning. ) while the renovation takes place. That is unacceptable.

Monroe Park is an eight acre park which is pretty conveniently divided into various individual islands. It would be extremely easy, and probably much more economically viable, to do phased construction, leaving at least some of the park available to students, food sharing groups, and other folks who rely on the park for recreation and relaxation.

The proposal to centralize “homeless services” to the Conrad Center is a non-solution, and is unacceptable for various reasons, which have been expressed by homeless individuals and homeless advocates ad nauseum.

We, the people of Richmond who are currently an active part of the dynamic of Monroe Park, demand that a minimum of 25% of the park remain available for public use at all times during the renovations. We further demand open, clear communication from the entities involved in the renovation if/when the area of the park open to the public is subject to change.

We will not compromise on these two very simple demands under ANY circumstances.

We stand firmly in solidarity with the homeless community in Richmond and with those groups who seek to alleviate the problems they face.

The Wingnut Anarchist Collective

This is in response to the recently unnveiled plans for renovations of Monroe Park in Richmond, Virginia, as well as comments about the park from Charles R. Samuels who is the City Councilman for the 2nd district where Monroe Park is located. This is written by a longtime member of the Richmond Food Not Bombs organization, which has been serving a weekly meal in the park for over 16 years.

The Conrad Center at 1400 Oliver Hill Way is an unacceptable location for the centralization of ‘homeless services’. There are multiple reasons as to why this location is unacceptable. The logistical reasons have to do with the difficulty of accessing the Conrad Center. The Conrad Center is in a valley, between two steep hills. This means that for many folks with children, disabilities, etc. the location itself is very difficult if not impossible to reach. The Conrad Center is also geographically isolated, which means that even in nice weather it is a long walk from the other places where homeless people might be hanging out. There is not really any place near by that homeless people could hang out between meals (breakfast and dinner) at the Conrad Center. In extreme weather- hot or cold or wet, people risk their health and well being walking so far.

Before the Conrad Center was a reality, homeless people voiced their concerns about the location. They were ignored. Tactics which could have been implemented to make the Conrad Center more accessible even in its terrible location were ignored and neglected. If people who used the Conrad Center were given free bus passes so they could reach the Conrad Center, it would be a lot more useful to a lot more people. However, free bus service is not provided. And now Richmond’s only source of public transportation, the GRTC bus system is cutting routes and raising rates. Which is yet another attack on the poor and working classes which continues to make the Conrad Center a less and less acceptable location.

Aside from its isolation, the location of the Conrad Center is unacceptable because of its psychological impacts. Situated across from the Richmond City Jail, and next to the court and women’s jail, the Conrad Center is a very stigmatizing place. The location of the Conrad Center is clearly part of an ongoing push to make the homeless less visible, and part of the mindset which pushes to criminalize homelessness. Beyond the terrible location of the Conrad Center, the concept of isolating homeless people from other people is also extremely unhealthy. Creating spaces that are ‘homeless only’ prevents friendships and communication across classes. Isolating the homeless reduces their connections with others in the Richmond community and makes them more vulnerable to racist and classist legislation. Homeless people face oppression from many sides, and isolating them only increases this potential for oppression.

The Monroe Park Advisory Council does not accurately represent the people who are involved in activities in Monroe Park. (more…)

“Join us for Rainbow Over Richmond: 30 events in 60 days, an eclectic and engaging series of events from late August through October, exploring and celebrating LGBT and LGBT-friendly culture and community.”

But why does everything cost so much money?

…Social tolerance because of commercial viability is inherently exclusive and classist. Acceptance of alternate sexualities and gender identities can not be made a commodity! (more…)