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January 14, 2022
Tenants fight gentrification in Mount Pleasant — Stomp Out Slumlords meet next Wednesday
MDC DSA endorsed candidates pull in early hauls and establish strong bases of support
DC COVID Update: Hospitals overloaded, nurses and teachers call for change in city policy
Stomp Out Slumlords reports: Tenants fight gentrification in Mount Pleasant – general meeting next Wednesday
Over the past month, two tenant associations representing hundreds of working-class immigrants struck an important blow against gentrification in Columbia Heights with the support of Stomp Out Slumlords organizers. After months of organizing, residents at Richman Towers and Sarbin Towers voted to approve a plan to partner with a local non-profit to renovate the properties and preserve them as affordable housing.
Tenants at Sarbin and Richman Towers began organizing in 2020. With most residents facing sudden unemployment at the beginning of the pandemic, a group of tenants connected with SOS and organized their neighbors into a citywide rent strike. Richman Towers led one of SOS’s first public protests for rent cancellation in May 2020, and neighbors from both buildings joined the major rallies and marches throughout the campaign — including our mass rally in Columbia Heights, our march on Mayor’s Bowser’s house and our encampment and rally at the White House last summer. SOS organizers helped tenants apply for assistance from STAY DC once the program started and have generally prevented evictions at the two properties.
Last spring, tenants received notice that their properties were being sold. They quickly decided to exercise their rights under DC’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (usually known as TOPA), formed tenant associations to represent them, and signed up majorities of the residents.
The prospective developer offered each family $30,000 so that they could flip the property and increase rents, and the buyer proceeded to act aggressively to recruit tenants to support their proposal. However, core leaders at the building understood that buyouts lead to increased rents and fuel displacement, so the residents committed to protecting their right to stay in the neighborhood. Working with a pro bono legal team, the associations were able to negotiate a deal with Jubilee Housing, a respected non-profit developer in the community, to preserve the property. Their efforts will secure more than 120 affordable apartments in the heart of Mount Pleasant.
Sarbin and Richman Towers are only two of the properties where SOS organizers are helping tenants exercise their rights under TOPA. Earlier this year, we helped tenants in a non-rent-controlled building negotiate for three years of rent stabilization. We are continuing to support the TOPA process in other buildings in Columbia Heights, including one that is moving towards becoming a resident-owned limited-equity co-op.
To learn more about our recent victories and get involved in our work against gentrification, eviction and slum conditions, join our next general meeting on January 19th.
MDC DSA endorsed candidates establish early leads in fundraising
Metro DC DSA’s membership voted to endorse four candidates for electoral office in Maryland and DC during 2022 primaries. Over the past month, the campaigns – three newcomers, one incumbent – show strong signs of promise.
Former legislators that served with incumbent state Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher in Maryland’s 18th district recently announced they are endorsing MDC DSA-endorsed primary challenger Max Socol. Former District 18 State Sen. Sharon Grosfeld endorsed Socol this week. Grosfeld, whom a long-time DSA member described as “one of the most progressive state senators” during her term, joins former D18 Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez in endorsing Socol.
Following Grosfeld’s endorsement, Socol announced that his campaign has raised over $100,000 in less than three months from hundreds of supporters, rejecting donations from corporate interests and developers. With the start of the Maryland General Assembly session, Max’s opponent is forbidden from fundraising until April.
Brandy Brooks also announced an impressive fundraising haul in her campaign for Montgomery County council at-large, raising $81,000 in direct donations from grassroots donors, including from DC Councilmember Janeese Lewis George. Brooks (like all Metro DC DSA endorsed candidates) is using public financing, so these contributions translate to $157,000 in matching funds.
Zachary Parker (DC’s Ward 5) is also outpacing rivals in building early support. Parker has outraised his rivals in both raw dollars and in number of donors; for comparison, Parker has more DC based donors than each of his rivals’ total donors. Parker is building a grassroots, people-centered campaign based around uniting the working-class of Ward 5. (Zachary Parker released his plan to address climate change and pollution in DC on Thursday, which you can read here).
DC COVID UPDATE: Hospitals overloaded, nurses and teachers call for change in direction
On Saturday, January 15, the District of Columbia will adopt a city-wide vaccination mandate. The mandate will require all people over 12 to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and photo id in order to enter many indoor facilities in the city, including restaurants, nightclubs, gyms and movie theaters. You can find clear guidelines for the order on DC’s online COVID resource.
The mandate follows a spike in COVID related illness and death in DC. Although Omicron is less deadly or dangerous for those who are vaccinated and boosted, the strain can still cause illness and breakthrough cases are possible. As of data reported on Jan 12th, DC hospitals have only 26 ICU beds remaining, 34% of patients in DC hospitals tested positive for COVID and 38% of patients in the ICU have tested positive for COVID. Since January 1, DC has lost 27 people to COVID — totaling up to 1,245 deaths in DC since the start of the pandemic.
DC hospital staff have been overworked. DC hospitals asked for a state of emergency in DC on January 7th, and the situation has been so dire that Howard University nurses and staff rallied on Thursday to draw attention to the situation ongoing at hospitals. The Mayor recently declared a “limited” public health emergency effective January 26.
The situation at DC Public Schools is increasingly dangerous. Staff are so overworked that many teachers are deciding to quit rather than deal with DCPS confusing and dangerous protocols. Many DCPS schools do not have working HVAC systems or clear capacity to enforce social distancing orders. A policy advisor for Chairman Mendelson mocked the stress faced by teachers and the threat posed by COVID on social media, calling to question the Council’s dedication to actually stopping the spread of the Omicron variant in the District.
Initiative 82 — first petition circulation event POSTPONED to Saturday, January 22
Due to inclement weather, we will be rescheduling our first petition circulation weekend for next weekend, Saturday January 22 and Sunday, January 23.
Metro DC DSA is organizing to raise the tipped wage in DC! The campaign needs 9,000 more signatures from registered DC voters by February 22 to get the initiative on the ballot for the June 2022 elections. If you are interested in volunteering with Initiative 82, please fill out this Google form.
Maryland General Assembly session is under way
Maryland’s General Assembly began its 90-day session for 2022 on Wednesday. The Blue-state reputation is only partially merited – the leadership and core of the legislature’s Dem supermajority are neolib in essence but a progressive caucus grows steadily and aims to push bills with strong affinities to DSA priorities like health care as a human right, serious climate advances, tenant protections, and criminal justice reform. To follow the session, Maryland Matters explains the opening gambits, and allies at the Maryland Legislative Coalition outline the big issues on the table, plus important hearings in the first two weeks. The good, the bad and the ugly of the session from some issue-focused organizations can be gleaned at the MoCo Branch January meeting this Sunday at 2pm.
New MDC DSA initiative: Disability Working Group Interest Meeting — Wednesday, January 26, 7pm
The Disability Justice working group has been dormant for some time. We are reviving it and you are invited to shape it with us for 2022. Please join us on Wednesday, January 26 at 7pm if you have a disability or if you are interested in or educated on disability issues.
STAY DC HOTLINE CLOSED
If you need an update on your STAY DC case, you will now need to call the number for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP): 202-507-6666. Make sure you have your name and case number ready. The hotline is open from Monday through Friday, 9am to 4:30pm.
DC Launches Pilot Program To Give Cash To New Parents And Pregnant People
DC is putting $1.5 million towards a pilot program to provide direct cash payments to 132 low-income new parents and pregnant people in wards 5, 7 and 8, offering each of them up to $900 a month for a year — with no conditions or expectations on how they should spend it. Strong Families, Strong Future D.C. will be managed by Martha’s Table, a social services organization that also runs its own cash assistance programs.
Status report — Link to find out your paid-up status with national DSA http://proof.dsausa.org/ — you may be a socialist in your heart, but as our founder once said, “an unorganized socialist is a contradiction in terms.” BTW you can contribute $ to our local MDC DSA chapter separately at this link and also by getting your externals right via shopping our merch store.
A big-tent organization like MDC DSA is no homogenous pudding but a swarm composed of many campaigns and tendencies putting thought into action. Here are our internal formations and campaigns, articulated and active, with contact info. See something missing or have new information about your activity or campaign? Contact the MDC DSA infosphere at email@example.com, and we’ll work with you to get it freshened.
Publications Schedule: One more Weekly Update in January, published Friday, January 21, and the February Washington Socialist will publish Friday, January 28. The article deadline for that issue is Saturday, January 22. Send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Washington Socialist has a rich archive, indexed by issues, in our Topic Hub here. See what we have been writing, and get ideas about topics that could be updated or articles that (gulp) could be improved upon.
Between Friday publications of the Update, MDC DSA members can keep up with fast-breaking activities and news — and participate in the activist traffic — on the MDC DSA Slack. If you are a member in good standing and want to get on Slack, contact email@example.com using the email by which national DSA knows you.
DSA CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Most MDC DSA meetings remain remote-only. To join remote meetings, members will need to register at the event link provided and receive the remote-access link by email.
Saturday, January 15
5pm – 7pm | Membership Engagement Committee Kickoff Meeting
Apply by Saturday, January 15 for limited-participation DSA Speaker Training on three consecutive Saturdays in February (2/12, 2/19, 2/26) during the daytime … learn to talk, write and demonstrate your socialism at a high level of skill. Info here on this National DSA program.
Sunday, January 16
2 – 4:30pm | MoCo MDC DSA January Branch Meeting
This month’s Montgomery County DSA meeting will have representatives from policing reform, environmental and housing justice coalitions, and will preview the 2022 session of the Maryland General Assembly and how DSA members can get involved in these efforts. This meeting should be of interest to all Maryland comrades and allies, not just Montgomery county residents.
Monday, January 17
Tuesday, January 18
7 – 9pm | Biweekly Steering Committee Meeting
Wednesday, January 19
6 – 7pm | We Power DC All-Team Meeting
7 – 9pm | Virtual Game Night hosted by NoVA Branch
7 – 9pm | Stomp Out Slumlords City-Wide Meeting
Thursday, January 20
7 – 8:30pm | NoVA Branch monthly organizing meeting
7:30 – 10pm | Naila and the Uprising Film Screening and Discussion
8 – 9:30pm | Defund MPD Organizational Outreach Meeting
Sunday, January 23
3 – 5pm | MDC DSA General Body Meeting (note, 3rd Sunday)
3 – 4pm | MoCo Branch Member Orientation
Monday, January 24
6 – 7:30pm | Defund MPD Working Group Biweekly Meeting
6:30 – 8:30pm | Socialist Night School – Technology and Inequality
Tuesday, January 25
Wednesday, January 26
8:30pm | Introduction to Socialism and Capitalism
National DSA Political Education Committee presentation: What makes socialism a viable alternative to capitalism, and what are the pathways to getting there? See more at the registration link.
Thursday, January 27
8 – 9:30pm | Defund MPD Organizational Outreach Meeting
Friday, January 28
Wednesday, January 19 from 5 to 6:30pm: five activists and academics will provide a snapshot of today’s Latin American reality and will explain the efforts to turn the Ecosocial Pact into a reality on the ground, promoting the ecosocial transformation of the region. Pre-register here.
On Thursday, January 20 from 7:30 – 9pm EST, Sunrise DC will be hosting a virtual town hall event with the three candidates currently running for the Ward 5 Council seat: Gordon Fletcher, Faith Gibson Hubbard and (Metro DC DSA endorsed) Zachary Parker. The first hour will be a discussion with candidates, including an audience Q&A, and the last 30 minutes will be a discussion space for hub members. Register at above link.
On Thursday, January 20 at 11am EST, the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, a Georgetown U think tank with US and European workers and union reps, will host a webinar on the political and social implications of AI in the workplace. Register at the above link.
Tune in FREE for an online screening of With Babies and Banners with filmmaker Lyn Goldfarb on Thursday, January 27 at 7pm; RSVP above for the Zoom link. This Oscar-nominated documentary tells the dramatic story of the women of the great General Motors sit-down strike — an event that changed American labor history. The women reunited 40 years later to show the strike’s ongoing relevance. 1979, 45 min.
After The Storm is a digital publication that describes a world beyond our current oppressive society. We want to tell stories that span beyond white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, imperialism, capitalism and so much more. We operate under the assumption that to reach a place, you first have to imagine it.
And we want your vision of that future! We will be paying $50 for writers in the DC area for all accepted stories, sponsored by Metro DC DSA. Send your pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our submission guide here.
GOOD READS / ESSENTIAL TRAFFIC
Book Review: ‘We Will Remain Standing on This Land and Teach’ (from Organizing Upgrade via Portside): “Palestinians living under occupation and those of us in the diaspora do not lose our love for our land as the grip of apartheid gets tighter — our determination to go back home and to stay on our land only increases.”
More fun speculations about civil conflict in the US, from Vox. No mention of any roles the military might take, pro or con.
From The Call, a project of DSA’s Bread & Roses Caucus: “A Hierarchy of Socialist Political Objectives: How we as socialists should evaluate a demand, campaign, or objective. The key question: does it build working-class power?”
Opinion from WaPo: “West Virginia’s coal miners just made Manchin’s life a lot harder … The United Mine Workers of America backs BBB because it will help mine workers transition to a future they now see as inevitable.”
The Winter 2021 issue of Democratic Left is out. The director’s report highlights the major win by Howard University’s YDSA chapter in its campaign to improve learning and living conditions on campus, adding, “As we head into 2022, DSA’s 40th anniversary year, let’s resolve to be strategic, long-distance runners for socialism.”
The DMV isn’t rural Maine — but the outreach tasks are similar everywhere, as the WaPo columnist (and publisher of The Nation) outlines in this account.
Teachers and teachers’ unions are being used as scapegoats and blamed by both republicans and democrats alike for refusing to teach in person and requesting better protection measures against COVID in their classrooms. But every pundits’ narrative, as Jacobin explains, has been flawed and places blame on the wrong groups.
The research team at We Power DC is putting together weekly press clips covering the latest news in climate change, ecosocialism and energy policy. Check out this week’s news here.
From In These Times, “Death in the Air: An essential worker considers pandemic times.”
This oddly provoking thought from the National Review (!): “People on the left are a little more risk-averse when it comes to dealing with markets, and people on the right are a little more risk-averse when it comes to dealing with foreigners, but, very often, they will respond to the same anxiety (market interactions with foreigners) with roughly the same policy proposals, changing only the specific terms of denunciation: ‘greed’ for the left-wing anti-capitalist and ‘globalism’ for the right-wing anti-capitalist.”
The flame of thought, the magnificence of art, the wonder of discovery, and the audacity of invention all belong to revolutionary periods when humanity, tired of the chains of its restrictions, shatters them, and stops inebriated to breathe the breeze of a vaster and freer horizon.