Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Latest Occupy Wall Street: Houston Newsletter

Here is the most recent edition of the Occupy Wall Street: Houston newsletter. OWSH is a strong effort to reboot the Occupy Wall Street effort here in Houston. Here is the Facebook page of OWSH. Please read the newsletter and see if you would like to help in some way.

Upcoming Events
Thurs May 24, 7PM, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd:computer privacy and freedom skillshare with activist Patrick Gibbs. Bring your laptop if you’ve got one!
Thurs evening June 7, time and location tba:Poster making party. Getting ready to hit the TX Dem convention in style. Bring your poster board, paper, markers, etc.
Fri June 8- Sat June 9, time tba, 1001 Avenida de las America, George R. Brown Convention Center: TX Democratic Party state convention. We’re looking to ally with a local group/s either on wage theft or the sonagram bill. If our allies agree, we’ll hit the con on Friday morning, as the delegates are first coming in. Details will be set by the next newsletter.
June 11, 3-4:30, Silverman Law Group, 917 Franklin St., 4th Fl:legal observer training. This is a training for Spanish-speakers only. Please RSVP to Daphne Silverman at 713-229-0687. There’s only room for 10, so sign up now!
July 4, Take Back Your Capital, Austin: Some details on their webpage, others tbd, but Occupy Austin is working hard to make sure that any occupier in Texas who wants to come has a way there. This is our chance to show that Occupy is alive and well in the Lone Star State, and to connect with other Texas occupations.

Ongoing


2nd Friday of each month, 8:30PM, Domy Books, 1709 Westheimer Rd, back courtyard (enter through Cafe Brasil):On June 8 we’re showing “The Corporation”.Reviews call it “the most astute and flat-out persuasive political documentary of the new millennium.” Come see for yourself!


Twice monthly. First Sunday of the month, 1:30 PM, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd (in Tlaquepaque Market). Third Tuesday of the month, 6PM, 1732 Westheimer Rd, Empire Cafe: GA.


Tuesdays, 5:30 PM, U.S. 59 and Dunlavy:Freeway blog.


Autonomous action:join the OWSHopsgoogle group and help plan our actions outside of the GA.

Autonomous action:petition drive to require a referendum vote on the anti food-sharing ordinance. We need 28,000 valid signatures by the middle of July. Download the updated (as of 4/17) petition here.Update: so far, very few sigs have been turned in. This weekend, Free Press Houston is holding their annual Summer Fest at Eleanor Tinsley Park. Standing outside of the fest and catching folks as they go in should be a great place to collect sigs.

ALEC and Politics by Playbook
Corporations get to rewrite state laws at the expense of the 99%.

by Donni RomanielloAt the heart of OWSH’s commitment to economic justice is the undue corporate influence on legislation at the expense of everyone and everything else. Standing center stage but hidden behind the curtain of non-profit charity status is the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC. Founded in 1973 to “promote a conservative agenda,” ALEC bills itself as a “non- profit…think-tank for state-based public policy issues.” In reality it is a bill mill churning out hundreds of “model bills” on a variety of issues each year that always benefit the revenue streams of corporate big business.
And although it claims that promoting the Constitutionally mandated system of Federalism is one of its core goals, ALEC has managed to turn the concept on its head. Federalism allows individual states control over most laws that affect the day to day interactions of people and corporations, which ideally turns the states into laboratories of public policy. But ALEC develops laws in Americas corporate board rooms and shops them wholesale to the states, a top-down approach to legislation that runs counter to the intent of Federalism.ALEC has released over 800 “model bills”. They cover a wide range of subjects, from worker and consumer rights, to tort reform, to energy and environmental issues, to voter rights. Its most infamous bill is Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant SB-1070, approved by ALEC’s legislative and corporate members in 2009. Another ALEC bill is the “Stand Your Ground” or “Castle Bill” self- defense law that underpins the legal defense of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Florida.ALEC’s membership includes 2000 legislators from all 50 states and about 300 corporate members. In 2010 its Public Sector Board of Directors was
comprised of 20 Republican and 3 Democrat legislators.  Its corporate members include oil, tobacco, insurance and big banks, a veritable Economic Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.Legislators pay annual dues of $100. Tthe price tag for corporate members paying anywhere from $7000 to $50,000. In recent years dues from “public” members amounted to slightly more than 1% while more than 81% of ALEC’s income comes from corporate contributions. With this money, ALEC sponsors Legislative Task Force meetings, a State and National Policy Summit and a posh Annual Meeting.

Because the “model bills” ALEC writes often address technical legal doctrines like assumption of risk, the determination of fault in tort cases, or who pays the cost of a jury in personal injury cases, they rarely attract the interest of the average person because of their legalistic nature and can slip through a state legislature quietly. Currently, ALEC has countless bills in the making.

In a political system in which access and money are the primary modes of influencing lawmaking, ALEC stands front and center. Describing the purpose of corporations joining ALEC, with its large costs of sponsorship, Task Force Chair Dennis Bartlett stated, “Our members join for the purpose of having a seat at the table.” Bob Edgar of Common Cause stated, “This is proof positive of the depth and scope of the corporate reach into the democratic process.” This reach into the legislative process includes off-the-rack legislation designed to make state laws ever more favorable to corporate interests.

The OWSH Newsletter will present a series of articles on ALEC, its impact on the 99% and its impact on Texas and its state legislators. Next Week: ALEC in Texas.

Permablitz with Transition Houston

by Amy Price

Cons: the planning coud’ve been farther along when we arrived and the materials to be used better thought through.
Pros: accomplished something real, instant gratification, met good folks, learned something, fits with OWSH’s mission to promote an environmentally sustainable society.
Overall: I’m so doing this again.

This past Saturday, I joined about ten other folks forTransition Houston’s last Permablitz of the season. In a Permablitz, volunteers grab any useful tools they have on hand and show up for a group gardening experience. The landowner provides the raw materials, some of Transition Houston’s gardening gurus help draw up a plan, and volunteers donate the muscle needed to transform a lucky lottery winner’s backyard into a space that better follows permaculture practices such as minimizing grassy areas. (You know how Houston floods? Like, a lot? Part of the reason is our oceans of semi-permeable lawn.) The project goes on hiatus during our Africa-hot summer.

We started trickling in just before 8:30, feasted on breakfast provided by the homeowner and the Transition Houston regulars, then trooped onto the grounds to begin dithering over some design elements. Despite a late start, an unplanned trip to the hardware store and work stoppages to explain basics to folks like me who don’t know much about gardening, we actually got a lot done. By the time we stripped off our gloves at 12:30 we had extended one large bed to a brick walkway, planned where some young citrus trees would be planted in the fall, rerouted an existing stepping stone pathway, and installed a raised bed for a vegetable garden. There’s plenty of planting left for the homeowner, but all of the heavy lifting is done.


]The light post-blitz lunch consisted of leftover breakfast goodies–including wedges from a cultivar of grapefruit that can only be obtained from a friend of one of the gardening gurus–and a cake celebrating the 13th birthday of one of our blitzers. Sitting serenely in the beautifully landscaped backyard of what might well be a 1%er, given the posh Kirby Drive address, I felt a flash of unease. Why had we donated our time to somebody who could certainly afford to pay for the work? And was I OK with that?

Yep. Once you’ve participated in three Permablitzes you can toss your name in the lottery to be blitzed. Our hostess, besides being a hard worker with a friendly and down-to-earth way about her, is by all reports a giving and good-hearted person. That counts more for me than most any other category I might put someone into. What’s more, she clearly appreciated the sense of community that the work engendered. There is something undeniably powerful about throwing in with a bunch of people you don’t know to accomplish a common goal, sweating together, finishing, and seeing that what you’ve done is tangible and good. I was so impressed with the experience that I started the lottery process…and I don’t even have a place to put a garden.

Which means that come November, when I’ll be eligible for my own Permablitz, it could be a really good time to be my friend.



Got an item–an announcement, a proposal, a report–for the next GA? Send it toowshou@gmail.com before Thurs May 31 at 10 PM, and Facilitation will get it onto the agenda! Know of an Occupy-friendly event coming up? Email it and we’ll put it in the next newsletter.



OWSH Allies with HPJCHouston Peace and Justice Center has agreed to be our fiscal sponsor, which means that we’ll soon have a bank account and a way of collecting tax-free donations.We learned that HPJC is primarily an umbrella organization for justice-oriented activist groups in Houston. At their encouragement, we’re going to apply for membership at their August board meeting. This promises to be a great way to network with other orgs in Houston and might afford us resources to support work that matters to both HPJC and OWSH.

Our Next GA

This GA will be devoted to long-range planning. Topics will include

  • Pay it Forward project. We’re starting to learn about installing urban gardens from Transition Houston and other groups. We’re also going to contact the folks at the Houston Green Building Resource Center to see what we can learn about making homes more energy efficient. First we learn, then we’re ready to spread the knowledge!

Our Next GA (Cont.)

  • Oct 6, 1st anniversary of Occupy in Houston. We’re planning a volunteer festival to help activate folks by connecting them with orgs that need volunteers. It’s going to be AWESOME.
  • Occupy solidarity events.What’s coming up in other occupies that we can help with here in Houston?

May 25, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

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