July 17, 2020 Weekly Update

Not subscribed or want to send this update to a friend? Sign up here.

Help the rent strikers of Southern Towers feed their families! Donated funds will be distributed to those most in need through the tenant organizing committee.


UP FRONT

  • DC Tenants Union rallies to cancel rent in the District
  • July New Member Orientation for the Metro DC Chapter
  • Vote on MoCo Resolution

Saturday July 25 - DC Tenants Union Cancel Rent Rally at Columbia Heights Plaza, 5 PM
DC has the power to cancel rent and end evictions — so let’s make them! Come to the DCTU rally to FULLY protect tenants in Washington through the COVID emergency. Rent striking tenants from over a dozen buildings across DC will testify at the rally, noting that there is only one way to protect the city from a looming health and economic crisis: RENT CANCELLATION. Tenants will march from striking buildings to arrive at Columbia Heights Civic Plaza at 5PM on Saturday, July 25. If you need a ride or want to volunteer, contact the DCTU at info@dctenantsunion.org or call 202-681-8272.

Why we fight: Landlords who received millions of dollars in real estate deals from the city refuse to extend protections to the very people they mine for profit. Landlord-Tenant Court has reopened and people are having hearings by ZOOM. Unemployment benefits are set to expire within WEEKS. Tenants have exhausted their savings to pay their rents through the lockdown and future income has never been less secure. How are tenants supposed to pay their rent and repay debts to their landlords in one of the most expensive cities in America? Bring your mask. Stand 6 feet apart. Tell the city it’s time to cancel rent and stop evictions.
Katlyn C

New Member Orientation Makes you at home on MDC DSA’s range of activities
If you’re a new member, an established member that needs a refresher, or interested in becoming a member, please join us for this overview of our local chapter’s activities. You’ll learn about the structure of our Chapter, our different working groups and branches, and current projects and efforts. This is a great place to determine which opportunities you want to explore and how to get plugged in.

This orientation is going down Sunday, July 19 from 3:00 to 4:00 PM. Call in details can be found here.

Vote on MoCo Resolution; Save MoCo Government’s Fiscal Autonomy
Don’t forget: MDC DSA members in good standing should have received an OpaVote Tuesday evening to your email inbox (subject line: Metro DC DSA July Ballot).

We are voting on Resolution 20-07-R01, which was discussed and debated at the July GBM, to authorize the Montgomery County Branch and the Tax Equity Working Group to campaign in opposition to the Montgomery County Austerity Charter Amendment and authorize the use of the MDC DSA Solidarity PAC for this campaign. This resolution requires a simple majority affirmative vote to pass.

Voting on this resolution will close at 11:59 pm on Monday, July 20. Members may choose to submit a brief statement in favor of or opposed to this resolution, and we will add them to the website as they are received (examples of previous member statements on resolutions can be found here). Statements can be sent to steering-all@mdcdsa.org . If you did not receive a ballot, please email secretary@mdcdsa.org .
Irene K, chair


THE WEEKEND

Sunday, July 19:
MoCo DSA General Branch Meeting at 3:00 PM

July New Member Orientation at 3:00 PM


BRIEFS

Senate Call in Day of Action for USPS
Join the Call-In Day of Action this THursday, July 23 to aide in saving the U.S. Postal Service. Together we can save the Post Office and convince lawmakers to do their jobs! Multiple bills have been introduced that would provide $25 billion in COVID-19 related relief for the Postal Service.

*The Senate comes back from recess in less than two weeks’ time. We need to keep up the pressure to make them vote to end this crisis. We are planning to put in 10,000 calls to Congress on July 23. Will you join us for a crucial call-in day of action? Register here.

#OnlyWhenItsSafe Car Caravan in Support of WTU
The Washington Teacher’s Union has an upcoming car caravan this Monday, July 20th at 1:00 PM. Please join TWU at 1:00 pm at Ballou High School Parking Lot: 3401 4th St SE. Click here to sign up to attend.

The day before the FY21 Budget Vote, the caravan wants to ensure DC Council Members understand that DCPS has not done the proper due diligence to reopen our schools. The DC Council must dedicate more funding to DCPS to cover extra costs for reopening our schools and engaging in distance learning; this includes an $11 million for added technology costs to get DCPS up to 1-1 computers.

Updates on the Defund MPD Campaign
This budget season, the DC Council is calling a proposed budget increase for the MPD a “cut.” If you’re interested in getting involved in our campaign to defund the MPD, fill out this form.

Those of us in the Defund MPD political education group have compiled lots of materials about defunding and abolition, and now we need your help in figuring out where and how our efforts can be best put to use. We’d be very grateful if you could fill out this 1 minute survey to help us out!
Ben M

Ed Lazere at Socialist Night School
Recently, the D.C. Council voted against taxing the wealthy, defunding police, and expanding rent control for D.C. tenants. If you are ready to fight back, MDC’s next Socialist Night School session will show you how.

This Monday session, D.C. Budget 101, will provide an introduction to the DC budget process, budget advocacy tips, and discuss how to improve the budget process in the future. Learn how to get the most out of the budget process each year. This session will be hosted by long-time budget expert, Metro DC DSA member, and (MDC endorsed) DC Council At-Large Candidate Ed Lazere. As the longtime executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, Ed has been involved in many of the legislative fights that played out in local D.C. politics. This is an excellent opportunity to hear about what went well and what didn’t in those cases, so that we can apply those same lessons in the struggles to come.

Here are some other ways to get involved in the DC Council At-Large race in support of Ed Lazere’s campaign for DC Council:

Stop Pepco’s Price Hike!
Pepco is trying to raise electricity prices even though thousands of DC residents are struggling to pay their bills due to COVID-19. And Pepco continues to undermine the clean energy transition we need to fix the climate crisis. Join us for a digital town hall on July 21, 7 to 8:30 PM, to discuss Pepco’s plans and explore alternatives that put our communities before Pepco’s profits. We’ll hear from DC neighbors as well as energy policy experts who have ideas on how to improve our energy system, with plenty of time for questions. This event requires Zoom pre-registration: register here! If there is anything that you need to be able to fully participate in this event (for example, ASL interpretation or translation) please email *wepowerdc@gmail.com .

Update on the Southern Towers Rent Strike
On Wednesday, the MDC DSA NoVa Branch demonstrated alongside tenant organizers from Southern Towers outside of the Alexandria Courthouse to demand rent cancellation and an end to evictions. We were joined by members of UNITE HERE Local 23, the DC Tenants Union, SEIU 32bj, African Communities Together, Tenants and Workers United, and Grassroots Alexandria. Protesters chanted “Down, down with the greedy landlords!” and “No Jobs, No Rent! No Medicine, No Rent! Hungry Kids? No Rent!” as tenants filed into Landlord-Tenant Court to request a 60-day extension of their eviction hearing. Tenants who could show they had lost income due to the pandemic were granted an extension–but we know this is only kicking the can down the road. The only solution is full rent cancellation for the duration of the crisis. The Southern Towers Solidarity Group will be researching upcoming court dockets to connect tenants facing eviction with the Southern Towers Tenant Organizing Committee. If you are interested in getting involved, join the #nova-tenants-rights channel on Slack!
Katlyn C

MD state workers prevail in fight against service cuts
From Union City, Thursday, July 15 – Since mid-March, AFSCME Maryland has rallied against proposals from Governor Larry Hogan to cut public services. These cuts – including eliminating 5,000 jobs, instituting 5% permanent cuts to salaries and slashing employee health care – were held off the agenda during the July 1 Maryland Board of Public Works hearing following sustained pressure from AFSCME members. This marked a huge win for AFSCME workers in protecting the vital public services that communities depend on during this time of crisis – including unemployment insurance, food stamps and other community-based services.

“Maryland residents and employees deserve more resources and not less during this time of crisis,” said state AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride. “That’s why we’ve got to stop these dangerous, unnecessary and immoral cuts. And,” she added, “we need federal aid to states and cities to fight the pandemic, reopen safely, and provide the services our communities need.” Read more here. (old-timers will remember McBride as DSA Youth Section’s late-80s organizer)


MDC DSA CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR JULY

Sunday, July 19 | 2:00 to 4:30 PM
MoCO General Branch Meeting
Please join us for our July branch meeting via Zoom - we will discuss defunding the police, budget and tax equity, and more. Email us at: MontgomeryCountyDSA@gmail.com to receive the Zoom link and password.

Sunday, July 19 | 3:00 to 4:00 PM
MDC DSA New Member Orientation
New members or those who need a refresher can join to learn about MDC DSA’s structure, Maryland and NoVA branches, working groups and caucuses, and current ongoing campaigns. Follow the link for access.

Monday, July 20 | 6:30 to 8:30 PM
DC Budget 101 | Socialist Night School
Virtual meeting
The path to racial and economic justice in DC must go through the budget. This session will provide an introduction to the DC budget process, budget advocacy tips, and discuss how to improve the budget process in the future. Learn how to get the most out of the budget process each year. This session will be led by long-time budget expert, Metro DC DSA member, and DC Council At-Large Candidate Ed Lazere. Zoom meeting; please register in advance. A confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting will follow.

Monday, July 20 | 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Socialist Feminist Working Group Organizing Meeting
Virtual meeting
The primary purpose of this meeting will be writing the Bylaws of the working group with a vote to follow in the next few days.

Tuesday, July 21 | 6:00 to 8:00 PM
Queer Caucus Happy Hour
Online event for all Queer, Trans, and Nonbinary comrades, as well our allies and accomplices. Event is open to the public, DSA membership is not required.

Tuesday, July 21 | 7:00 to 8:00 PM
Stop Pepco’s Price Hike Digital Town Hall
Pepco is trying to raise electricity prices even though thousands of DC residents are struggling to pay their bills due to COVID-19. And Pepco continues to undermine the clean energy transition we need to fix the climate crisis. Join us for a digital town hall to discuss Pepco’s plans and explore alternatives that put our communities before Pepco’s profits.

Wednesday, July 22 | 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Prince George’s Branch (Prov.) Membership Meeting
Virtual meeting
Working on projects in social and economic justice in COVID time, decarceration and defunding policing in our county, including with allies – plus zeroing in on bylaws to remove (prov.) from our monicker.


NATIONAL DSA EVENTS

MDC DSA member Damiana Dendy, regional (Southern Region) rep of the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission Steering Committee, will be hosting a series of trainings that will begin next Monday, July 20th at 3:00 PM!

If you are involved in labor organizing, interested in labor organizing, or just interested in doing any kind of organizing, we encourage you to join. From here, it’s hoped that DSA will become a well-trained organization ready for any fight that comes our way. If you are planning to attend, please fill out this form so the organizers can know how many people to expect.

Zoom info:
Meeting ID: 912 4895 9006
Email dbdendy17@gmail.com for password

Also from National DSA…

Sunday, July 19 | 7:30 PM EDT
Medicare for All Policy & Organizing Workshop
Now is the time to act: Democratic Socialists for Medicare for All is organizing a nationwide campaign to call on our representatives to support the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, and to advance the only real solution: Medicare for All.

Wednesday, July 22 | 8:00 PM EDT
DSA At-Large Members Q&A
Are you an At-Large member of DSA? Are you interested in getting more involved with the organization, both nationally and at the local level? We want to hear from you! Jump on this call to help build the Growth and Development Committee’s At-Large engagement plan, and explore what it means to be a DSA member.


INFO ACCESS

Metro DC DSA publications are intended to keep a socialist perspective and lens on events and actions both for our members and our allies, and we reach over 5,000 readers in the DMV. Our branches in Montgomery County, Maryland and Northern VA as part of our coverage.

One more July update will be published Fridays, July 24, and the August issue of the Washington Socialist will be sent Friday, July 30, with an article deadline of July 25. As always, submissions are welcome at thesocialist@mdcdsa.org . August Updates will be sent Fridays, August 7, 14, 21 and 28 and because Labor Day 2020 is celebrated Monday Sept. 7, this year’s Labor Day issue of the Washington Socialist will be published Friday, Sept 4.

Despite the US exceptionalist date for our Labor Day (as opposed to the international worker’s celebration May 1), the Washington Socialist Labor Day issue is always a major piece of advocacy because as socialists there is no issue for us that surpasses that of workers and working families and the class from which we all struggle to overcome capitalism.

Start thinking about how you will mark Labor Day with the appearance of your article in the newsletter of Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America. Submit them at thesocialist@mdcdsa.org . We welcome all comments, questions, or observed issues with the new site; please send notices through the Red Desk or notify us in our #publications Slack channel.

What does MDC DSA do, actually? Surprises may abound in this annotated list of our activities - campaigns, working groups, caucuses and how our local chapter runs its, um, business. It’s a great resource for new members or existing members wondering what to do with quarantine. Check out our chapter structure here. Members of campaigns are of course contacting us at #publications regularly to keep individual entries current and informative (you know who you are).


IN THE JULY ISSUE OF THE WASHINGTON SOCIALIST…

This packed edition of the Washington Socialist covers a variety of contemporary issues: the Defund MPD campaign, DC statehood, DSA electoral strategy, and more…

  • Police Reform and the Working Class - Police brutality is not simply a problem of individual racist police officers but is a result of a class dynamic;
  • Defunding MPD - policy impacts are beginning to be felt, and left and insurgent strategies have knitted together in this review of local protest activity;
  • Hogan Unemployment Fiasco - Working people have hit the streets, unions have pushed back on behalf of all workers and legislators have been attentive;
  • Black Radicalism on the Eastern Shore - remembering the contributions of Maryland organizer Gloria Richardson, part of the forgotten history of radicalism in Maryland;
  • Reflections: the 1992 riots - In 1992 police violence and its aftermath led to large demonstrations in Los Angeles’ communities of color and in D.C.’s fast-changing Mount Pleasant neighborhood;
  • Union Building for the Long Haul - this book review shows how hard the work of staying organized can be, and how the compensations for that near-thankless work sometimes surprise with their value;
  • Unrest and Statehood - DC Statehood advances but further steps toward that goal will have to wait for Democratic wins in Senate and White House;
  • The Time for Statehood is Now - A shadow member of Congress reviews why statehood is of critical importance;
  • On Electoral Strategy - Franklin Roberts considers DSA’s electoral strategy amid capacity and resource questions;
  • Enforcing the First Amendment - government employees must respect the First Amendment rights of citizens;
  • Remembering Dr. Howard Croft - Dr. Howard Croft, DC Statehood advocate and longtime member of Metro DC DSA from its earliest days, is remembered by activists who knew him.

EVENTS FROM OUR ALLIES IN THE DMV

Friday, July 17 | 7:00 PM
Coalition to Repeal Right to Work
Special guest TBD. For access, email diamondvir@aol.com

Sunday, July 19 | 3:00 to 4:30 PM
#OnlyWhenItsSafe Washington Teachers Union Virtual Town Hall
Washington Teachers Union (WTU) invites all community members to push school leaders to make community informed decisions regarding schools in DC. This is a city-wide issue of safety! Join us for “Reopen #OnlyWhenItsSafe Virtual Town Hall”- DC Educators, Union Leaders, Community Leaders, and Families will gather to share strategies, stories and needs.

Monday, July 20 | 6:30 PM
Reel and Meal at the New Deal presents “Illegal”
Part of the Utopia Film Festival, the director of “illegal,” who fled war in El Salvador, hopes to counter the right-wing rhetoric so prevalent these past four years by depicting examples of real people seeking refuge in the US. The director of “Illegal,” who fled war in El Salvador, hopes to counter the right-wing rhetoric so prevalent these past four years by depicting examples of real people seeking refuge in the US. For more about this program, contact frankrgervasi@gmail.com

Monday, July 20 | 4:00 PM
Reclaim Rent Control Training (virtual)
The Reclaim Rent Control campaign (ONE DC) is working to strengthen and expand rent control. We are fighting Council Chair Mendelson’s move to renew our broken and inadequate Rent Control measure. Join us to learn how rent control works, about the Reclaim Rent Control Platform, and how to take action! This workshop includes a brief training on how to give testimony so that you can take action to Reclaim Rent Control.

Monday, July 20 | 1:00 PM
#OnlyWhenItsSafe Car Caravan
Please join Washington Teachers Union at 1 PM@Ballou High School Parking Lot: 3401 4th St SE. Message up your cars and join us in driving to elected officials homes to make our voices and safety demands heard. If you are taking pictures, please use the hashtag #OnlyWhenItsSafe and tag @WTUteacher.

Tuesday, July 21 | 6:00 to 7:30 PM
Black Lives Matter: Statewide Town Hall on Environmental Justice
Hosted by Progressive Maryland, this virtual Town Hall will explore the deep history of redlining and environmental racism impacting our communities. Environmental justice is the fair treatment of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, and/or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. As we continue our fight against structural racism in Maryland in defense of Black lives, it is crucial that we recognize the environmental toxins and harms that communities of color have long been exposed to purposefully.

Thursday, July 23 | 11:30 to 1:00 PM
Coronavirus Authoritarianism and the Far Right
Authoritarian leaders have taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to further concentrate power in their own hands. Meanwhile, the far right has pushed hard from the margins to accelerate the collapse of democracy. John Feffer will discuss the power grabs.

Saturday, August 22 | 3:00 PM
Black Celebration - Juneteenth plus
Baker Park Bandshell, Frederick, MD
This year’s Black Celebration (Juneteenth), aimed at supporting the black community, will feature local entertainment in the form of black-owned businesses, vendors, artists, dancers, food trucks, and more. College student Alexus Washington has worked to shape this event to sharpen “the message of proudly embracing one’s blackness [so it] will expand to black youth, and counteract what blacks have time and time again been taught - that being black is “something less-than and something to be feared.”


GOOD READS

Bob Kuttner boosts Biden’s economic plans in Portside. Shilling for a Dem win, of course, but thoughtful and hopeful as always.

Reconstruction after COVID-19 continues to pitilessly expose the structural inequalities in the Former Normal: public banking will create the real financial resources to do it. “Public Banking Can Help Bridge the Racial Wealth Gap in the Post-Pandemic Recovery…by using public money to create local funds, public banks can reverse decades of racist disinvestment to repair Black and Brown communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 recession.” From the Chicago Reporter via Portside.

When the NYT opinions-roundup editor toplined this satirical piece by Dave Eggers, she asked us rhetorically (and helplessly) “Why are you laughing?” about the life and death question of accurate testing. But you can’t look away, and you can’t stifle your laughter, in this catechism of bureaucratic dithering.

“There are many drivers of [the persisting inequalities further exposed by COVID-19]. But there is one phenomenon in particular that has profoundly shaped all of these dynamics, and every single sector of our economy — the consolidation of corporate power.” Our comrade Sam N touts this report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance on how to fight back against the corporate shock-doctrine assault on working people.

Our Maryland 5th Dist. endorsee Mckayla Wilkes is morphing her campaign into a de-incarceration nonprofit to end the school to prison pipeline. Here’s a Maryland Matters account.

From Jacobin via Portside: the new righties on the Supremes declare that employees who are beneficiaries of a company’s pension fund nevertheless don’t have standing to pursue class action for fraudulent company manipulation of the fund that costs workers their pensions. Huh? Submitted by our comrade Dave Richardson.

With an comprehensive eye, Luke Savage breaks down the assumptions of Democratic Party elites in his review of David Plouffe’s A Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump. From *Current Affairs.

Nathan Tankus - self-taught Marxist economist who has been receiving the star-treatment as of late - argues for an eviction freeze as a means of salving what is clearly a quiet, COVID sparked depression. Critically, his argument sells such a policy as an imperative not only for the benefit of tenants, but as a benefit for landlords as well.

Every now and then, one hears Washington DC’s local government described as “progressive.” Words have some meaning and, although some progressive legislation has passed the City Council, DC itself is a model of everything wrong about our society as rapid gentrification is leading to ever greater segregation, racial injustice, class inequity. And nowhere has this been more evident than in the response to COVID-19. This article looks at the District’s response, Mayor Bowser’s actions, within a framework of the deeper trends in the city. A quick spoiler – racial disparities in COVID deaths are significantly higher in DC than in any other part of the United States and our rate of gentrification has been the fastest.

National elections are around the corner, in case no one has noticed. Trump is doing his best Nero interpretation except that he is tweeting instead of fiddling. That said, with Bernie out, Biden in, what do we do? As a a discussion piece, Max Elbaum’s article in Organizing Upgrade may be worth a read.

Recommended by our Maryland comrade Melissa Reid: a walk through the mind-changing process that brought a lifelong opponent around to Medicare For All. Perhaps a useful alternative to some of our Q.E.D. left-assertive argumentative strategies.


Ages have come and gone, kingdoms and powers and dynasties have risen and fallen, old glories and ancient wisdoms have been turned into dust, heroes and sages have been forgotten and many a mighty and fearsome god has been hurled into the lightless chasms of oblivion.

But ye, Plebs, Populace, People, Rabble, Mob, Proletariat, live and abide forever.Arturo Giovannitti