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Farr Stonewalls Demand For Stronger Anti-War Action

Rep. Sam Farr has declined to give clear answers to seven questions posed to him by Peace Activists. His attached letter defends his War Appropriations vote and gives no clear or specific indication he will lead action against sanctions, bombing, and the Bush war policy during December.
We had presented Farr with seven questions/demands in a posted flyer the week before and then clarified them in the meeting with staff on Friday. (See story posted below "Demanding Farr Speak Out Against the War")
They were:
1. Introduce a new resolution opposing the war in Iraq and mobilize constituents to support it with public hall meetings and such.
2. Reverse your position on supporting the biggest war appropriation in U.S. history (the "defense" budget of $355 billion). Would he reverse it, we asked Rachael at the 11-27 Wednesday meeting, if we could show the 7000-30 phone call ratio that he got asking he oppose the Iraqi War?
3. Call for a public vote on stopping the current bombing of Iraq. Would he speak out publicly against it during December? Did he have any evidence that he had done such speaking throughout November?
4. Move to rebuild the sanitation facilities bombed in Iraq.
5. Demand the Bush-Clinton-Bush economic sanctions against Iraq be dropped. Publicly argue for this.
6. Seek to have War money shifted to pay for the many U.S. vets still suffering from Gulf War aftermath.
7. Act unequivocally to stop U.S. use of cluster bombs, uranium depleted weapons, and land mines.
We asked him to commit to a public forum on the Iraqi war as soon as possible.


Rep. Sam Farr's answer to 7+ questions we left at his office, first on the door of his closed office mid-afternoon Wednesday November 20th, then in person to his staff two days later was this letter:

November 26, 2002
Mr. Robert NOrse
309 Cedar PMB #14B
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Dear Mr. Norse,

Nothing is more important in our democracy than citizens exercising their right to express their opinions to their Representatives in Congress. Your recent visits to my office and your desire to learn more about my position on the peace agenda demonstrate that you are a concerned citizen. I thank you for your activism, especially on an issue that is so important to the future of this ocuntry--the quesiton of whether ot not the United States will go to war against Iraq.

As you well know, I am, have been, and will continue to be a strong advocate for peaceful solutions to ocnflict, and a strong opponent to the idea that war is the solution to the current political impasse between the U.S. and Iraq. When the Bush Administration began to talk of the possibility of war, I was one of the first in Congress to demand that he first make his case ot the United Nations. I also stated on numerous occasions that getting arms inspectors back into Iraq was the first step, and that the U.S. should "look before we leap" and not get into a war before exhausting all diplomatic avenues to resolve this conflict.

I will continue to speak out against war. If the President gets his way--and while we work to prevent that, it remains a real danger--and we do go to war, I will work to make sure that non-combatant civilians are protected to the greatest extent possible. I will also advocate that the United States honor its commitment to help the Iraqi people, and not abandon them as we have to our great shame in other post war situations. I am deeply concerned about the challenges of post conflict reconstruction. As a member of the Post Conflict Reconstruction Project Commission, I strongly advocate that the United States work to win the peace in war-torn countries which need our help.
An example of this is Afghanistan, where i Have spoken out on the need of the United States to do much more to live up to its obligations to the Afghan people--to help provide the security and prosperity to the civilian population that we promised.

You are knowledgeable enough, I am sure, to know that issues of war and peace are not always the same as issues of defense. While we maintain a commitment to peace, we must still provide for the defense of the country. NOt to do so would violate the government's core commitment to the Constitution--"provide for the common defense [and] promote the general welfare." It would put at risk all two-hundred and eighty-three million Americans to even the smallest attack from a foreign power or terrorist organization. We know these dangers exist. One need only remember September 11, 2001. To eliminate defense spending would put our nation in untenable peril and I know that is not the idea that you espouse.

The only way that the forces of peace will defeat the forces of war is for us to work together. YOu have in me one of the strongest allies for peace in the U.S. Congress. I urge you to work with your like-minded colleagues across the country to deliver the message to other Members of Congress that Americans do not want to go to war against the Iraqi people. I am convinced of the cause, and will continue to champeon it on Captiol Hill. I can help you, and you can help me, if uyou and your colleagues continue to pressure other Members of the House and Senate who are sitting on the fence on this issue. Go to the Congressional information website (www.house.gov) and check the votes. See who voted for the President's War Resolution and ask them to stand up for peace instead of war.

In the 1960's I volunteered to be a member of the PEace Corps in Colombia. Although my tenure only lasted for two years, in my heart I remain and always will remain a member of the Peace Corps, a member of that group of Americans who believe that war is never the solution when peace is the goal.

I hope that you will join me in this quest for peace. Though we may not alwasy agree on the means to reach that goal--and in those cases we must "agree to disagree"--I am sure that we are in agreement on the ends. I am pleased that we share that same vision.

Sincerely,
Sam Farr
Member of Congress


Rachael, a Farr staff member at the Santa Cruz office, handed us this letter Oon Wednesday morning November 27th at at9:45 p.m. Nine of us were there, following up on a Friday November 24th meeting. when we had an hour long conversation with Rachael and Alec, another staff member. Most of that session was played on Free Radio Santa Cruz (96.3 FM) Sunday morning.

Our group included three members of Downtown For All (Gabe, Tabor, and Julie), a Peace and Freedom Party rep (Steve Argue), a member of the Mumia Coalition (Bernard Klitzer), a Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom representative (me), two representatives from Standing United for Peace group [SUP] (Nick and Maia),and an Iraqi Peace Action member (Tim).
We had initially come to Farr's office a week before and found the office closed with a note on it, saying the staff had left for a meeting at 1:30. Dixie in Assemblyman Keely's office confirmed that there had been a meeting and also that staff members had been sick. On Friday when we returned, there were five or six staffers there and they stayed until five.
Farr's response through the Washington office then through Rachael in the local office seems to essentially ignore the specific issues we raised (although he does insist he has been and will continue to speak out against the Iraqi war). He also seems to spend a lot of time flattering and gladhanding. His suggestion that you either vote for the biggest military budget in U.S. history as he did or you're voting "to eliminate it" is to make a traitor or an idiot out of Rep. Barbara Lee and Rep. Maxine Waters, who did vote against it.
Rachael also handed us a rough draft of a Farr letter supporting nuclear nonproliferation--which we did not ask about.
She expressed impatience with us (though she gave us about an hour). She declined to make the conference room available or to invite us into her office fully. So we crammed into a foyer that made up one-sixth of the office, though the office was empty except for her and another member. Some of us leaning against the wall, some of us sitting on the floor, a few on chairs from the hall, none of us invited to use the unused desk chairs in the office.
She complained that they'd had only two working days to answer our concerns (actually, they got demands/questions posted on the door a week ago). In spite of that, she said she wasn't aware of any further response planned to seven inquiries.
We generally agreed afterwards that Farr was ducking the questions. We felt that we'd succeeded in making it clear to anyone in the future that we'd given him ample opportunity to answer, or to request more time to answer. He did neither. Some of us felt that his silence spoke pretty loudly.
The letter also provides little or no documentation of his positions on sanctions, cluster bombs, and willingness to counter administration war propaganda and its current bombs-for-peace campaign in the no-fly zones. A few of us remembered his support of Clinton's Yugoslavia bombing (though eventually under public pressure he called for a "pause"), his support for the new "War on Drugs/Terror" against the Colombian guerrillas, and his refusal to reject uranium-depleted weapons.
We felt he had rejected our good-faith effort, and now needs to be reminded of this loudly and publicly at whatever public appearances he makes.
If I get any further correspondence, I will post it. I also encourage people to call his office to continue to demand answers to and action on the 7 demands. SUP will not be meeting up on campus until January. I can be reached at 831-423-4833. We have no plans at the moment on another visit to Farr's office, since he seems to have made his (non)position pretty clear. Given that this district is pretty solidly opposed to the war, I think it would be most appropriate to confront him at his next public appearance and would be interested if anyone wants to organize that.

Robert Norse
 
 


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Comments

Your Mess

Robert, please take some time out of your busy schedule to go back and clean up the mess you and your crew left on the sidewalk in front of the Vet's Hall and the Vet's Service Center on Thursday. It is not appropriate for you folks to leave your sidewalk graffiti for the employee's of the Vet's Hall or city workers to clean up after, not to mention the fact that you folks are well aware that it is a violation of a city ordinance. If you can't find the time to take responsibility for your actions then I will make the time to see that you are cited after the fact by a citizen who witnessed your efforts. I would have done so myself at the time but did not wish to risk spoiling the dinner for those outside waiting to eat, unlike your irresponsible nonsense in front of Marini's earlier in the month. However, Robert, if you and your crew return for the Christmas dinner and pull the same stunt I assure you I will summon an officer and have you and anyone else involved cited on the spot. As a veteran and former member of the VVAW I find your actions highly disrespectful. Please clean it up.
 

What's Important?

We are talking about chalk, are we not? If it is chalk you are talking about I'm sure it will be gone soon, if it is not already. Chalk does not last long on a well traveled sidewalk.

Now lets talk about something real, like bombs being dropped on the 5 million people of Baghdad. Can you imagine the casualties. That will be like an American equivilent of the bombing of L.A.
 

Response to What's Important?

Actually Steve, I can very well imagine what will happen. More accurately, it doesn't require much imagination on my part at all as I haven't forgotten that much of my own experiences with war. We seem to share an abhorence for current events but I do not believe that this shared sentiment is an excuse for leaving the area in front of the Vet's Hall in the condition it was left in Thursday. It needs to be cleaned up by those responsible. Your encouragement to those responsible to do so would be appreciated.
 

Chalkwriting is a first amendment activity

As our nation moves ever so much closer to an offensive, first-strike pre-emptive military attack on Iraq, it is more important than ever that we citizens use every means at our disposal to spread our message. Chalk-writing has been a time-honored means to do so, and chalked messages appear at nearly every demonstration of any size I have been to. Here in Santa Cruz, there is no law against chalk-writing, though our repressive police have lately come up with a creative interpretation of MC 9.20.010 to use against activists and activists alone, backed up by City Attorney John Barisone and a low level commissioner.

This is content-based discrimination and is illegal. The police are simply not citing kids drawings or hopscotch, or the big chalk festival that has happened on First Night for the past few years.

Hence, when I wrote a hopscotch pattern on the sidewalk outside the Vets Hall on Thanksgiving, I was expressing a constitutionally protected first amendment right. Those who picked up a piece of chalk after me were also engaged in the same activity.

You, who felt differently about our work, also have a right to dump a bucket of water on our work and remove it if you so desire. For chalk is a very temporary message, easily removed, and not intended to be permanent.

If, on the other hand, you choose to be a police snitch, then you are joining the legions who are out to suppress freedom of speech whether it be to arrest a newspaper vendor (such as the SCPD has done to Steve Argue), or the efforts by the FCC to shut down Free Radio Santa Cruz, or Councilmember Ed Porter's latest hair-brained suggestion to require permits for street musicians.

The first amendment is under attack all the time. It is our responsibility to exercise our rights, and to fight against those who would curtail them.

What harm is the chalk on the sidewalk doing in front of the Vets Hall? It is purely aesthetic. Some think it improves the look of a dull, grey, dirty sidewalk. The messages against the Sleeping Ban surely gave heart to the homeless people who came to dine. Chalk is made up of crushed seashells and vegetable dyes. Chalk does not even present an environmental hazard. And if anyone doesn't like it, or wants to remove it, a simple garden hose can remove the chalk in a matter of minutes. If left alone it will wear away, blow away, or be gone with the next rain.
 

Response to Ms. Johnson

Your response was predictable and typical. The only common theme that runs through your group's activities is that all of you seem to be suffering from an over developed sense of entitlement. Your actions are not noble or enlightening. They are childish. So be it...See you on Christmas day. I'll be the tall guy with the rest of the "police snitches". Maybe we"ll can it "Kahn Watch". What do you think, Robert?
 

DEAD SNITCHES

Fed up you snitch, I'll be out there on christmas with a weapon to kill you and a few snitches.
 

Stop the War

It's hard to believe that Fed Up gets so worked up over erasable chalk--a traditional (until recently) First Amendment activity in Santa Cruz, which he can hose away in two minutes. This seems like a thinly-disguised pretext to harass and attack activists he doesn't like.

It's ironic that probably everyone posting on this site, however they feel about chalking, opposes the War in Iraq.

Please remember that that's what this post is about: Organizing Against the War by Confronting Farr's Vote for the Military Appropriation.
 

Response To Fed Up

It does not matter to me that people are writing in chalk. The war matters. Someone calling the police on people for something so petty is also wrong in my opinion. Also stupid are the violent threats of someone outraged by a cop informant who hides behind the name "Fed Up". I am not going to tell people not to write in chalk or to clean up something that will soon be gone, but I will say please no stupid threats for something so petty whether they be with some weapon or with armed and dangerous men with clubs and badges.
 

Speaking of fed up

I have to say, the unresponsiveness of the posters to my last comment (regarding Reps Honda and Eshoo) is disappointing, but it doesn't surprise me. I was hopeful that something "real" was going on here, but the fact that you are continuing your narcissistic activities that are easy for you and require no real work just confirms what I've heard about your "coalitions" (by the way, three people don't really count as a coalition, and from what I hear groups like HUFF really are just three people, no matter what legitimacy you claim). Rather than do any real work to help ease suffering right here in our area, you go on Quixotic campaigns in order to hear yourself talk. I find it ironic and disturbing that you were protesting the war on Iraq, complete with the deaths of innocent people, in front of a free Thanksgiving dinner for needy members of our community. If you truly cared about helping people, you'd be in there serving food, or helping Second Harvest food bank pack bags for the working poor, or something similar. And don't say that your "activism" helps the homeless and needy, because it doesn't-- it only breeds hostility towards you and your group (not just from such "right-wingers" as Chris Krohn, but also members of WILPF and the Green Party, for instance). Considering the fact that you don't work in any employment (like many of the people you supposedly speak for) why aren't you truly out there helping people? I assume it's some sort of trust fund, so why not donate that money to charitable causes, both local and international? It's nice to hear you believe that you're helping people, but while you listen to the sound of your voice (literally) and ask your inane questions of everyone in town, people are starving and struggling. They would LOVE to have your problems, like how much am I going to take out of my trust fund for food today?

I just find it sad that after a promising start, you went for the easy target, and while you are giving lip service to "confronting" all federal representatives, the suggestions I made to visit or contact several LOCAL offices were met with the same bland response or nonresponse. I must assume that, since you decided to ignore my post, you don't believe that other LOCAL representatives need to be bothered. Yes, maybe they are somewhat further than the courthouse building, but if you're going to be a lazy and opportunistic "activist", fine. I just hope you know what the rest of the peace and social justice community thinks of you, your tactics, and your self-aggrandizement.
 

Response To Cyrus

My response to the anti-war perspectives of both Cyrus Markham and Robert Norse were published under "Stop The War." I for one did not ignore your earlier comments Cyrus.

As someone who has to work full time, and someone who has had to depend on charity for food in the past, I have to say that I still appreciate the political role Robert Norse plays in this community. As for what Robert and others give in terms of charity, have you not heard "do not let thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." I for one have seen Robert help feed the hungry. On the other hand it is also very important to keep the heat on a system that keeps people hungry while it squanders massive resources on war.
 

Clarifications

I did not intentionally ignore Cyrus's suggestions. If someone wants to lead a protest to the offices of other Reps, I'd like to be supportive. I and others chose Farr because he is the most local person who is also our Federal Rep.

The Vet's Hall action incidentally was not about Stopping the War in Iraq, but about Stopping the War Against the Poor in Santa Cruz. This involves, particularly, addressing the lack of shelter for 85% of homeless and nomadic peoples--combined with Camping and Sleeping Bans that criminalize them for simply sheltering themselves with tents or in vehicles.

Activism does help raise awareness, stop further erosion of people's rights, and even turn the tide (as is happening with street performers). It also antagonizes politicians, but that goes with the territory.

The local Green Party, once "antagonizied", has taken up many HUFF positions, to its credit.

Cyrus, let us know if you have any anti-war actions planned.
Steve,thanks for your support and correcting the record.

Becky goes to trial for criminal "chalking" on December 19th at 8:30 AM in Dept. 1. Her earlier chalking conviction will go to appeal on December 11th (time and court uncertain). She is still looking for an attorney.
 

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