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By matthewg - Posted on 27 July 2006
All efforts are being done by a 15-member Democracyfor America Meetup Group. The Portland area still has six meetups and 157 other progressive activist groups.
Petitioning: 1,557 individual citizen’s petitions (Jefferson-Rules type) collected on streets (at festivals, parades, in front of City Hall, at the Portland State campus, farmers' markets, etc.) from June 1-July 14 were sent to Rep. John Conyers' office in batches of 500s. Anthrax irradiation at the Congressional post office takes only 30 minutes on batches rather than 10+ weeks for individual posts.
Under Jefferson’s rules, a petition to impeach supersedes any bill before the House Judiciary committee and, if they vote Articles of Impeachment and send it to the House floor, it also supersedes any bill for consideration.
Petitions will be held until January 3 when (hopefully) the House will be controlled by Democrats. We're not about to submit all our tireless work prior to that date so that Republican Judiciary committee chair James Sensenbrenner and his staff can "misplace" them. Having contributed 1,557 petitions when all it takes is one in the Judiciary committee, we closed out that project.
Flash-mobbing/bannering: We started in January on overpasses with home-made banners on infrequent Mondays in the evening rush hours (4:30-6) because we got more honks (500 out of 800) thumbs-up, etc. WorldCan'tWait (Portland chapter) taught us all that's needed are four people, one on each corner of a busy intersection with simple homemade "Impeach" signs. Each of us counts honks/thumbs-up/waves to determine impeachment’s strength among commuters.
Our flash-mob "meister" decides the intersections. He notifies us the location by an e-mail blast Saturday night. He even brings water for those 103º days. Locations are varied to avoid reaching the same commuters. We'll be flash-mobbing until Nov. 6.
The postive response lifts our morale and lets us know how strong the mood is for impeachment. In Oregon’s wealthiest county and heavily Republican-dominated city (Lake Oswego), the count was 200 out of 600. Those who don't respond (or are too reserved) know an impeachment movement is alive and well. As to the infrequent bird or someone rolls down the window to curse us, we know we've unnerved another Bushie diehard about what they fear the most: impeachment.
Fliering: We designed a bumper sticker (black letters/gold field to stand out) that said: "Impeach/Vote Democratic Nov. 7" and converted it to utility-pole fliers in mid-March. We print on 65-pound stock to withstand Oregon's rainy season and three per master with cut marks for the printer's guillotine.
From March to May 2, our two-person teams posted them on two-mile routes of Portland's busiest morning commuter routes. One is posted by a bus stop, one in the next block facing the right lane of traffic.
In some places, fliers had a "shelf life" of 2 hours (Republican enclaves), but in mid-July, we noted that on one route (heavily African-American) 12 fliers were still up.
The best time to post is Sunday between noon and three because utility crews and Republicans were unlikely to pull them down before the Monday morning rush-hour crowd can see them.
We plan two more fliering “waves”: mid-August to the first week in September, and mid-October to the first week in October. Our new fliers say: "Impeach B&C/by Voting Democratic Nov. 7."
Lobbying Governmental Entities to Pass Resolutions: Because Jefferson's Manual of Rules for the U.S. House of Representatives include petitions for citizens, any governmental entity (city council or county commission, or even the Elks Club, etc.) can turn a resolution into a petition merely by adding a cover page that has "Petition" at the top.
We used Phil Burk's model resolution (www.AfterDowning Street.org) for both the Multhomah County commissioners and the Portland City Council.
We first tackled the five-member county commission initially and found that though Chair Diane Linn supported the resolution (even signed a Jefferson petition), internecine antagonism among commissioners on other issues was such that most were not receptive to it. Linn's constituent aide, however, redrafted the resolution and had our delegation speak at a meeting of the commissioners' staffs. They were disinterested. The only question asked was whether the Portland City Council had passed it.
Our delegation later asked to speak with Commissioner Serena Cruz Walsh, who had been significantly tied to Howard Dean's presidential campaign and our 16 DFA meetup groups. Walsh's aide told us she had other issues (Latino gangs, etc.) with greater priority.
Because the primary election ousted Linn, and Walsh's term ends in January, we elected to focus on the Portland City Council, beginning in mid-April. It holds Wednesday-morning sessions for public comment (three minutes per five speakers) with mandated signups a week in advance.
We presented the resolution to impeach Bush and Cheney first on May 10 to an enthusiastic, packed chamber, thanks to sufficient promotional notices to activist groups like CodePink, 2 activist radio stations (Air America, KBOO radio), and three local progressive websites (Portlandindymedia, Blueoregon, DemocracyforOregon).
We followed up in the next week with a three-person delegation meeting with each of the five commissioners and Mayor Tom Potter’s communication director (the Mayor "declined" to see us despite his fierce anti-FBI/Secret Service/ Homeland Security stances). Commissioner Erik Sten said he wouldn’t put it on the agenda for a vote unless assured of two more votes. The two initially supportive of the resolution (Sam Adams, Randy Leonard) have since retreated despite Portland's overwhelmingly anti-Bush/Cheney atmosphere characterized by demonstrations of 20,000-35,000 people in the past four years.
The Council has now heard the last of five speakers, and no vote looks likely, despite our urging residents to call Commissioners Adams and Leonard to pass the resolution. Then a serious setback occurred on Aug. 2.
Mayor Potter, the humorless former police chief, urged the commissioners to vote Aug. 13 for limiting “repeaters”—apparently those he dislikes—to monthly statements. He also lumped us with those he regarded as crazies, according to a next-day feature story in The Oregonian. The story revealed that he and most commissioners either silently snigger or pay no attention to that weekly input session for residents, despite his constant advocacy for that purpose.
Backlash began immediately on Potter’s demand for vetting First Amendment rights—from the alternative media and opposition from Commissioner Adams who said he would vote against the Mayor’s gag rule. A poster on Portland.indymedia suggested people show up with mouths gagged. A letter to The Oregonian scored Potter for failure to listen “respectfully to the ideas and concerns of the Portlanders who care enough to make the effort [to drive downtown one week to book a spot on the agenda and, the next, to come back to speak].
Our “resolution meister” is formulating new strategies for passage of the resolution, chiefly aimed at getting the critical two votes from the commissioners.
However, considering the impeachment resolutions/ballot issues passed by other governmental entities around the nation, it would appear that most were urged by members of those groups—not from outside organizations like the DFA. We seem to be dealing with mostly “ultra-safe” politicians afraid to take impeachment action in this liberal city despite draconian cuts to it in federal allocations decried by Potter in the FY 2006-2007 budget, and his strong stand against the FBI, and a national case of its wrongful seizure and imprisonment of Brandon Mayfield, a Portland lawyer mistaken by the FBI as one of the Madrid bombers because he was married to a Muslim and had converted to that faith.
Lobbying U.S. House Members to Sign Conyers' HR 635: Oregon has five representatives (four Democrats) among whom David Wu became a co-sponsor of that bill in mid-March. All are incumbents running for safe seats and seem to be obeying the “no-impeachment” stance of the Democratic Leadership Council/Democratic National Committee and their spokesperson, House minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
So far, we've had no luck in convincing the other three to join Wu, but a fourth is Carol Voisin, Democratic contender for Republican incumbent Greg Walden’s House seat. If she wins, she’s pledged to cosponsor Conyers’ HR 635 as the first order of business in the new Congress—and to vote for impeachment.
That vow was secured in mid-April when our four-person delegation drove to a Democratic forum in central Oregon to sound out the four challengers against Walden. To cheers and applause, all four said they would support HR 635. Democrats are in a minority in that vast (almost all of Eastern Oregon) Congressional district, but he’s compiled such a do-nothing record that even Republicans may vote for Voisin. After a July speaking tour around eight counties, she reported getting bi-partisan support (“people are ready for a change”) for her candidacy. Because the state's Democratic party hasn't allocated any money to her campaign despite the critical need for Democrats to win a majority in the House, we began on Aug. 7 to advocate party officials provide adequate funds and resources to Voisin.
July 19 Teach-In: Some 30 Portland activists attended our session to hear Stephen Goldberg, one of the attorneys on a Portland case of federal wiretapping. He took questions for more than an hour from that enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience.
Activist Outreach: Because most of the group’s members have been heavily involved in activist events in Portland in the last three years, we have an extensive blast list for contacts about our activities. A major peace demonstration on March 19 provided us with a list of 157 activist organizations in the county for networking purposes. That hasn’t translated to those groups rushing to aid our efforts, however, except for CodePink members filling the Portland City Council chambers May 10 when our impeachment resolution was first presented.
Nevertheless, in promoting activities, we have appeared before several groups to appeal for volunteers. Among them have been the Alliance for Democracy, the Northwest Progressive Community (the Kucinich group), CodePink. We also attended the Pacific Green nominating convention, securing many petitions, including that of gubernatorial candidate Joe Keating. We’ve requested speaking time for volunteers at the Multnomah County Democratic Central Committee meeting in mid-August. We've added CodePink and the Portland chapter of Veterans for Peace to our flash-mob list.
One such appearance led to an invitation for a four-member presentation on impeachment taped May 24 for a community cable-access show appearing in the Portland-Vancouver area and around Manchester, N.H.
WCW Day of Mobilization—Oct. 5: In conjunction with the national organization WorldCan’tWait, our group will stage an adjunctive effort: flash-mob demonstrations at both ends of seven of Portland’s 11 bridgeheads during morning and evening rush hours.
We‘ve designed a flier (and a jpeg of same for emailing) to be posted around Portland a week before this Thursday event.
For Further Information, Contact Barbara Ellis (email@example.com)
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