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Liberation News backs Coral Brune and Robert Norse for Santa Cruz City Council

The only City Council candidates in this election who are putting forward a people’s agenda are Coral Brune and Robert Norse.
Homeless Activists Coral Brune and Robert Norse for Santa Cruz City Council

By Steven Argue
Coral Brune and Robert Norse went to the debates and saw that the status-quo City Council candidates running were not worth supporting. With Thomas Leavitt and Steven Argue choosing not to run this year it was hard for local human rights activists to find anyone worth voting for in the Santa Cruz City Council races. So the two have decided to jump into the race at the last minute as official write-in candidates.

While the lack of representation stood out on many issues, the sleeping ban is a good example of how this latest crop of political hopefuls, old and new, are looking for a job where they will just keep everything the same. None of the original seven candidates running for the four open seats were have a position for ending the city law making it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night, although Tony Madrigal has said, “I am open to lifting the sleeping ban." It’s nice that Tony is open to ending a law that makes criminals out of all people who cannot afford a roof over their heads, but being open to it is a political maneuver that amounts to taking no position.

The sleeping ban in Santa Cruz makes the harmless act of sleeping illegal for the homeless whether they are outside, in a tent, or in a vehicle. Covering up with a blanket is another crime. Coral Brune and Robert Norse see that where the council candidates stand on homelessness is a key issue partly because anyone in government who can not get this issue right won't get anything else right either.

The four incumbents, Scott Kennedy, Emily Reilly, Ed Porter, and Mark Primac, all have a record in office of supporting the sleeping ban as well as other harassment of the poor. Despite their ability to do so, none of these politicians would even put the issue on the City Council agenda in the past four years.

Ryan Coonerty, the top fundraiser and son of a former mayor, has also pledged his support for the sleeping ban. He explains his position saying that without these anti-homeless laws, people would see all of the homeless camped in the street and support for the funding of social services would dry up. It is an interesting point of history that Adolf Hitler made this same argument regarding the visibility of the homeless and social services in Germany.

Candidate Mark Fogel, who has a very limited base, represents the far right in the elections. He is registered with the Independent Party and was the only candidate not registered with the Democrat Party before Coral Brune and Robert Norse entered the race. Mark Fogel claims that the current anti-homeless laws are not enough saying that the current Santa Cruz City Council shows, “Far too much tolerance for an environment that practically invites transients from all over the country to our town.?

In contrast to all other candidates, Robert Norse and Coral Brune have entered the race at the last minute as write-in candidates under the following demands:

“Expand and Restore Street Performing Downtown

?End Abusive City Codes that Criminalize the Homeless like the Sleeping Ban, the Blanket Ban, & the Sitting Ban

?Restore Access to Public Spaces; finally a Downtown Plaza

?Replace the City Attorney and City Manager

?Real Citizen Oversight of the City Staff

?Real and Regular Democratic Access to City Council

?Real Community Control of Police This Time

“End the Drug War in Santa Cruz; No Forced Fluoridation.

?Restore Medical Marijuana Distribution Centers in S.C.

?Rent Control and Just Eviction Protections for all Renters

?Justice for De Anza & Clear View Court Mobile Home Parks

?Tax Real Estate Profiteering

?A City Sunshine Law: Indict Brown Act Violators

?Resist the Federal Government’s Bogus “War on Terror?

?Pass City Laws Against “Patriot Act? Repression

?City Disinvestment in War Companies; An Amnesty Zone for Courageous Resisters of the Illegal Iraqi War

?Say No to Incumbent Retreads and Politicians-on-the-Make

?Shake Up Santa Cruz : Elect a Troublemaker

?Join the Write-In Resistance: The Fight Starts November 2nd?

While Liberation News has some minor disagreements with this platform, we think that the most important point is that it represents a local people’s agenda in opposition to all of the other candidates who are running. It is a similar agenda to that put forward in this author’s City Council campaigns in 2000 and 2002, a platform that makes necessary and realizable demands that the capitalist system and its politicians are unwilling to deliver. This presents the polarization necessary in the social revolution that will be needed to begin to remedy these problems of poverty, war, and repression.

This is in stark contrast to the local Democrat Party hacks in power (and one sell-out Green) who pretend to take the people’s side in order to more easily betray us. It is from the left cover of false promises and meaningless resolutions that the city government carries out its pro-police state, anti-renter, anti-working class, anti-free speech, anti-medical marijuana, and anti-homeless agenda locally.

On September 21st, 2003 the Santa Cruz City Council abolished the only real rent control in the city. This was rent control for mobile home residents. The city decision, made by the fake leftist City Council, destroyed housing security and equity for the elderly residents living in close to 200 homes at the De Anza mobile home park. The City Council's excuse? Legal costs in defending the rent control from the corporate landlord at De Anza. Yet the City Council doesn't seem to care about the legal costs of sending their cops out to run roughshod over the homeless and political activists.

The truth is that the pro-corporate and anti-renter Santa Cruz City Council opposes rent control on every level and could care less about the elderly De Anza residents who have lost their housing security and equity as a result of the City Council's decision.

Incumbents Emily Reilly, Mark Primac, and Scott Kenedy all voted to boot the elderly residents of De Anza to the street. To his credit Ed Porter was the only politician on the city council to vote no. Yet Ed Porter has not pursued a policy to gain citywide rent control.

The calls of Robert Norse and Coral Brune for rent control and just eviction protections for all renters along with justice for De Anza & Clear View Court mobile home park renters represents the positions of Liberation News.

The false credentials of the incumbents in this race could fill a book.

Incumbent candidate Scott Kennedy runs the Resource Center for Non-Violence, yet he supports police violence against activists and the homeless carried out by his police in Santa Cruz while refusing to pass a city resolution calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and refusing to pass a City ordinance against the enforcement of the Patriot Act in Santa Cruz.

Incumbent candidate Mark Primack touts his past involvement in saving the green belt, while presently being heavily financed by large developers.

Incumbent candidate Emily Reilly claims she "bakes good things" and falsely claims she pays her workers a living wage at her bakery, a claim that has been refuted by her workers.

Incumbent candidate Ed Porter got the endorsement of the Green Party in 2000 by promising to overturn the city's anti-homeless sleeping ban, a promise he has not kept. Despite this clear betrayal the pro-capitalist petty-bourgeois Green Party has decided to endorse Ed Porter this year again.

Incumbents Ed Porter and Emily Reilly ignored the public in a meeting on downtown problems where the majority told them that police abuses were their number one concern. The two instead drafted new laws giving the police broader powers to harass street musicians, political activists, and people who look homeless. The new laws were passed by the City Council and I (as well as Mathew Hartogh) have since been arrested twice for having a political table up for more than an hour. Tom Noddy was arrested under the new law for juggling lemons as well.

While there are many activists who prefer to jump on the band-wagon of the city government's progressive illusions to give their own cause the mantel of governmental legitimacy, Liberation News points out that this mode of operation is counter productive. Groups such as unions and the Green Party alienate themselves from their true allies by supporting status quo politicians who do not really support their causes.

The key to understanding the difference between pseudo-progressive politics and the revolutionary program of Liberation News is to understand the difference between words and deeds. This principle holds true in examining the policies of national and state Democrats and Republicans just as it does in examining the local politics of the Democrats and the Green who hold office.

A good example would be the policies of Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton appeared to many who listened to his words and looked at the endorsements he got from many unions and gay rights groups to be pro- union and pro-human rights for gays. Yet in reality Clinton gave gays the "don't ask don't tell policy" of the military, which actually led to more discrimination of gays in the military. Clinton also stepped in against workers who were out on strike, hurting workers in favor of corporate profits. In addition Clinton was carrying out wars across globe from the bombing of Yugoslavia to giving billions of dollars in military aid to the death squad government of Colombia. He starved 1.5 million Iraqis (mostly children) through an economic blockade, ended welfare as we knew it, weakened the Endangered Species Act, let political prisoners such as Leonard
Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal rot in prison, proposed a health insurance bail out while opposing real health care solutions such as single payer or national health care, etc.

Locally members of that same Democrat Party, and one Green, run the city government. The level of hypocrisy that comes from these people is very high, but almost never reported in corporate newspapers such as the Sentinel, Mercury News, Metro, or Good Times. For instance there were numerous articles on the medical marijuana give-away at city hall, yet there were no articles that pointed out that this symbolic act was illegal according to the zoning ordinance introduced by Mike Rotkin and Tim Fitzmaurice and passed by the city council. That zoning ordinance outlawed medical
marijuana dispensaries in almost all of Santa Cruz and shut down the one dispensary in the city on Seabright Avenue. Yet these same politicians used the DEA raid as an opportunity to create a photo-op on an issue important to the majority of Santa Cruz voters.

This is no small question. Through this city law the pseudo-progressive city council makes the attainment of needed medicine for patients with glaucoma, cancer, AIDS, and epilepsy much more difficult and illegal.

The complicity of the corporate media in portraying anti-medical marijuana politicians as pro-medical marijuana is one example showing how the backing of the corporate establishment keeps these pseudo-progressives in power. It also shows the need for more
people to be part of and rely more on alternative media.

The challenge of Robert Norse and Coral Brune in this election to the hypocrisy of these politicians is an important step toward building a working class alternative.

While the Democrat politicians and their allies who defend the capitalist system simply see the homeless as failures, we at Liberation News see homelessness as a failure of capitalism. Studies have made it clear that it is the shortage of affordable housing and the low wages paid to much of the working class that are the two largest causes of
homelessness in America. In addition there can be little doubt that mental illness, physical handicaps, alienation, and drug and alcohol addiction are also major contributors to homelessness, but these stereotypes do not represent the majority. Poor people also become homeless because of their desire to create art, travel, or who have difficulty participating in a society that is often so regimented and unjust.

Liberation News, in solidarity with the Brune and Norse candidacies, declares that the homeless are not some kind of pest infestation to be jailed, driven out of town, or driven off the earth. We instead see the homeless as human beings who should all have housing, access to good paying meaningful jobs, as well as needed social services. Thus our political program addresses both ways to cure homelessness and opposes laws that punish people for having no home.

A combination of hatred for the homeless on one hand and ignorance or apathy on the other, combined with a large dose of lies from the corporate media and the status quo politicians keeps the Santa Cruz anti-homeless politicians in power. Yet instead of
playing into anti-homeless prejudices amongst the electorate and the local power brokers Liberation News seeks to educate the electorate about some of the key issues involved in the Santa Cruz anti-homeless laws and seeks to break the power of the current king
makers. We do not adjust our principles according to what could obviously get us elected by getting us more backing in the corporate media, more funding for our campaigns, and
fewer struggles with the prejudices of the electorate.

In advocating solutions we do not gloss over and ignore the basic economic divisions in society, nor do we pretend we can make everyone happy. In America there are workers and there are bosses. There are also renters and there are landlords. While there are
other classes in the middle, these are the most basic economic divisions; they are, in short, the division between the exploiters and the exploited. Locally the exploiters maintain control with their money, media, pseudo-progressive politicians, police, judges,
jails, etc

The relationship between renters and landlords is much like the feudal relations where serfs were forced to slave for their landlords. In Santa Cruz low-income workers are forced to turn the majority of our income over to landlords who often use the money to
do things like buy more property or party hard off of our labor. The pseudo-progressive government's sleeping ban makes the very act of sleeping after not paying our feudal landlords their monthly tribute, illegal. In addition the city government does not address
the issues of renters.

While high rent is the biggest problem facing low-income renters and the homeless it is also the biggest problem facing downtown merchants. Yet instead of blaming the greedy landlords many of the downtown merchants, coupled with the corporate media and their
errand boys in city government, are scapegoating the poor for their problems.

Obviously instead of laws against the poor, activists, and street performers we need rent control and more low-income housing. We also need higher wages. On this issue we once again run into the hypocrisy of the local pseudo-progressive government.

One of the bragging points of the pseudo-progressive incumbents in the last election was their passing of the so-called living wage ordinance in the year 2000. This ordinance was one of the weakest in the nation, effecting only about 10 workers with a one-dollar
raise. About 600 part time workers working for the city government were not covered by this ordinance. Nor are workers who work for companies that do work that is contracted out by the city or those who work for non-profits that are funded by the city.

Liberation News calls for a stronger living wage that actually has an impact on the majority of low wageworkers that work for the city. Cutting the six digit salaries of top administrators such as the city manager, the chief of police, and the head of the Re-Development agency as well as others could pay this for.

In addition Liberation News calls for a doubling of the minimum wage and indexing it with inflation through legislation on the city, state, and national level. All workers deserve a minimum living wage much higher than the current minimum wage. This
is another issue where we side with the exploited over the exploiters, the workers over employers.

While the capitalists insist that it is their God given right to exploit workers, and claim that they give workers jobs, Liberation News points out that without the capitalist system there would be no capitalists to expropriate a large portion of our labor power in the form of profits. Likewise we support the labor movement and other movements in every attempt to rest a larger share of the fruits of our labor from the parasitic capitalist class.

The disagreements Liberation News has with the labor movement stem from our desire to strengthen the labor movement and its legitimate causes. To these ends we are strong advocates of union democracy and see the rank and file of the union, not its leadership, as the true union. On this point we support the strikes of the union membership, whether officially sanctioned by the leadership or not. This includes the Santa Cruz bus driver's
wildcat strike of 1998. We also condemn the actions of City Council members Mike Rotkin and Scott Kennedy in crossing that picket line to fuel busses as scabs (this was witnessed by Nora Hockman, a local leader of the SEIU). Likewise we do not agree with the decision by SEIU 415 to endorse Scott Kennedy, Tony Madrigal, Emily Reilly, and Ed Porter

Liberation News calls for an entirely different electoral strategy than is currently pursued by almost every union. It is our position that workers gain nothing from
their unions endorsing Democrats and pseudo-progressives. We also think that the union dues that the leadership squanders on these campaigns would be better spent on putting together a much stronger strike fund to directly strengthen the union's ability to strike and
by spending money on legitimate progressive and pro-union candidates from the left and stands in the way of the formation of a legitimate Labor Party that stands in opposition to the Democrats. Such support could make a huge difference in whether or not truly progressive and truly pro-union candidates get elected, if the union bureaucracy stops backing the corporate politicians of the Democrat Party.

The only City Council candidates in this election who are putting forward a people’s agenda in this election are Coral Brune and Robert Norse. While they have jumped into the race too late in the year and no chance of winning, Liberation News gives our endorsement to their campaign as a protest and encourages people to write in their names. Likewise we would like to see Coral Brune and Robert Norse use this as a step towards running again in 2006.

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Re: Liberation News backs Coral Brune and Robert Norse for Santa Cruz City Council

Wow, they are sure to win now! Liberation News' readership of 4 will surely swing the election their way!

Re: Liberation News backs Coral Brune and Robert Norse for Santa Cruz City Council

No claim was made that this would change the outcome of the election.

Liberation News has two sites, one with 918 subscribers and the other with 368. While this is fairly small, it is a growing project working to answer the corporate media and corporate politicians with a people's agenda. In addition, articles from Liberation News often also get posted elsewhere all over the Internet.

Liberation News:


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