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Honkala, Manski to run Housing, FEC?


federal-agencies.jpgThe 100,000+ circulation New York CityIndypendent newspaper has chosen 2012 Vice Presidential nominee Cheri Honkala and campaign manager Ben Manski to serve as members of an alternative "Shadow Cabinet" for the coming session. Honkala will serve as HUD Secretary, and Manski as director the FEC. Write the editors of the Indypendent:

"As one presidential term ends and another begins, we want to take this opportunity to reject the pomp of inauguration and reignite the radical imagination. Instead of settling for empty suits and ugly compromisers, we’ve tossed Obama’s cabinet out of White House and reached out to thinkers and doers, those least likely to be nominated but most deserving of being heard and best qualified to make change, and nominated them to our own Shadow Cabinet."

We have reproduced the changes that Honkala and Manski propose, below. Enjoy!

CHERI HONKALA: Empty the Shelters, Fill the Homes

My first order of business as the new Housing and Urban Development secretary will be to end homelessness and revamp the HOPE VI grant program. Currently, there are more abandoned properties in this country than there are homeless people, and the solution is obvious: combine the two. Dr. Jill Stein and I ran on a platform of the Green New Deal, which is based on the principle that all Americans have a right to safe, decent and accessible affordable housing. I will work to further this goal.

DOH-Final-Broken-Wall.jpgCurrent HUD programs are grossly inadequate and have massive undesirable consequences. A salient example is the failed HOPE VI program. This program, begun in 1993, was designed to revitalize and remedy problems with public housing by departing from the former “housing project” model and moving toward mixed-use development. While a laudable goal, the program has failed and has only made the housing crisis for America’s poor worse. Grants are being used to demolish existing public housing in order to rebuild new “mixed-use” units. There is, however, no requirement that the new construction have a “one-to-one” replacement of the former housing units. Additionally, “mixed use” has been used to develop mixed-income housing, which shrinks the number of units available to the poor and amounts to nothing less than the usurpation of housing from the poor to be given at subsidized rates to the middle class.

The result of this failed program, in cities from Louisville, Ky., and Columbus, Ohio, to the Bay Area in California, is the displacement of U.S. families who can least afford such a change. Families are being uprooted from communities they have lived in for generations and shipped to remote communities without access to transit or employment centers and in many cases left homeless. Rather than solving problems with low-income housing, the HOPE VI program merely hides the poor from the view.

I will immediately institute a moratorium on the disbursement of any further HOPE VI monies. The requirements for obtaining such a grant must be amended. In the first instance, the demolition of housing should be a last resort. Many units have been family homes for generations, and the immoral destruction of these homes must end. In those instances where rebuilding is the best option, the program must require a one-to-one replacement of any demolished unit. Furthermore, these new units must be reserved for low-income families who depend on public housing. Finally, the siting of additional or new units must be in urban centers with access to transit and jobs and not in undesirable and remote areas that burden residents with crippling commutes.

As my first order of business, I will END homelessness by housing our veterans, our seniors and our low-income families. We will empty the shelters and fill the homes!

The recommendations above are but the beginning: With the Green New Deal we could make all of this and more a reality. I invite you all to follow Jill Stein and me this year as we work with others to bring the Green New deal to life and make it a reality because the next generation deserves just that!

Cheri Honkala is a nationally known advocate for the poor and homeless, co-founder of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and co-founder and National Coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. She was the Green Party’s nominee for vice president in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.


BEN MANSKI: Unleash Democracy

"Did you, too, O friend, suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and for a party name? I say democracy is only of use there that it may pass on and come to its flower and fruit in manners, in the highest forms of interaction between [people], and their beliefs — in religion, literature, colleges and schools — democracy in all public and private life…”  ~ Walt Whitman

Until now, the United States has had no federal agency primarily responsible for the strengthening of domestic democracy. We therefore reform the existing Federal Elections Commission into a new Federal Democracy Commission, whose mandate is fourfold:

1. Convening of constitutional conventions at least once every 30 years so as to ensure that the basic law of these United States is the law of the living, not the dead. Currently, such a convention may be initiated at the request of the States. Until the Constitution may be amended so as to make constitutional reform a more regular practice, the role of the Federal Democracy Commission in the convening of constitutional conventions shall be to encourage and make transparent the existing amendment process.

2. The implementation and enforcement of the Voter Bill of Rights, as enacted by Congress, as well as existing voting rights and election law. The Voter Bill of Rights is a 10-point consensus platform of the modern day voting rights movement and may be read in its current incarnation at http://nomorestolenelections.org

3. Ensuring federal support for the principles of democratic federalism,in which environmental, human rights, education, and commercial laws and regulations enacted by our national government are understood to establish a floor, not a ceiling, to actions by our state and local governments. This means, for example, that the Federal Democracy Commission will intervene to ensure that the federal government will encourage local and state reforms such as public utilities, community wireless, wage and hour minimums, clean water, human rights, and standards and services that are more ambitious than those offered by higher levels of government.

4. Strengthening the practice of economic democracy through public education, publicity, training and direct financing for cooperative development and for democratic reforms intended to make government agencies, private associations, and business enterprises more participatory.

FDC-Federal-Democracy-Commission.jpgThe Federal Democracy Commission is an independent, nonpartisan regulatory agency. Its six commissioners are nonpartisan, meaning that those who have run for partisan office, worked for a political party, or served as an officer of a registered political party may not serve as commissioners.

The commissioners are nominated by a select committee that includes one representative of each political party that has won at least 1 percent of the national vote in the previous election cycle. Those nominated are then appointed by the President and approved by Congress.

Ben Manski is the executive director of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution, a pro-democracy strategy center he founded in 2004. He is a former co-chair of the Green Party of the United States, and this past year was Jill Stein’s presidential campaign manager. He is also a co-founder of Move to Amend. Manski will serve as the executive secretary of the Federal Democracy Commission, as he is disqualified from serving as a commissioner.

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