While the majority of Californians continue to suffer from the economic crisis, big corporations and super-rich individuals are driving an agenda in our state to ensure the 1% prospers at the expense of the 99%.
The result has been an increased economic burden for working families that includes escalating costs of higher education and healthcare, fewer jobs, more foreclosures, depressed wages, and a deteriorating quality of life.
Why? Because rich CEOs and executives in the Golden State are pocketing millions while backing and bankrolling an agenda that keeps economic and political power in the hands of the few, killing or delaying the chances of a broad economic recovery for the rest of us.
by Chucho Mendoza
Crossposted from The Nation on March 6, 2012
The headline in this week’s San Jose Mercury News, “Harvard now Cheaper than Cal State,” may have shocked many across the country. But for California’s families and students, it reflects the reality of millions who have struggled for years with the rising cost of higher education. California leads the nation in tuition increases, with a 300% rise in costs since 2001. For a system that used to be a model for the nation, these skyrocketing costs are shameful – and coupled with the recession have put a college education out of reach for many of California’s young people.
When my family moved to the United States from Mexico, I was told by my high school teachers and counselors that I shouldn’t even consider college. Despite graduating in the top ten percent of my class, I was still told that my place was in the fields, where my parents work. Like many Latino families across the state, my parents worked hard every day with the hope of being able to send their children to college. And I worked hard too, studying to prove those teachers and counselors wrong. But for all the hard work, the tuition hikes still left that dream – and the Cal system – out of reach. With the Latino community in California on the path to becoming the majority, we are doing a major disservice to my generation by denying today’s children access to quality and affordable education. Now is not the time to abandon our children and families.
That’s why this week, I helped lead 165 of my fellow Fresno-area college students to Sacramento for Monday’s “Occupy the Capitol” march for education, where we stood with thousands of other students from across the state. We took our demands directly to Governor Brown and the California Assembly: no tuition hikes, no more higher education cuts, and stand behind solutions that will make the banks and the 1% pay their share to refund education. With painful budget cuts rendering universities short-staffed, and overwhelming tuition hikes leaving many students unable to pay, we urged the state's current leaders to stand up for California's future.
We were there to protest cuts, but also to pose a solution. At a “peoples assembly” inside the Capitol Rotunda, student protesters voted on their demands and policy priorities for the Governor and the Legislature – what we wanted out of this day of action. The number one priority was the “Millionaire’s Tax” ballot initiative, which has also been endorsed by the UC Student Association, representing more than 250,000 Cal State students. The Millionaire’s Tax would guarantee billions in dedicated funding for higher education, as well as funding for K-12 schools, children’s and senior services, public safety, and other key infrastructure that has been decimated by State Budget cuts.
On Tuesday the Governor tried to claim that a less effective ballot initiative – one that does not guarantee funding for higher education, and includes a sales tax – is an adequate response to the outpouring of enthusiasm and anger in Sacramento. It is not: the Millionaire’s Tax is the only ballot initiative that makes the 1% pay and that guarantees new revenue for higher education. In the latest poll it is the clear choice of Californians.
With California leading the nation in tuition hikes, too many California students have been forced to take on massive student loan debt. Unfortunately, due to this recession caused by the reckless action of Wall Street bankers, our generation has been called the “lost generation,” with millions of college students left unemployed after graduation. It’s time for millionaires and corporations to pay their fair share.
By marching in Sacramento this week – and on campuses last week, last November and over the past few months of activism and action - I have felt a real sense of unity and purpose within my community. From all parts of the state, thousands of students took the trip to Sacramento to make their voices heard. Together, students are uniting to fight for a quality, affordable education system – and we’re offering solutions to make those goals a reality.
Hundreds Occupy Capitol Rotunda, Calling for Millionaires Tax, Freeze on Tuition Hikes and Spending Cuts – And Calling Out Governor's Effort to Co-Opt Rally
Coming from every corner of California, and from dozens of Cal, Cal State and Community College campuses, thousands of students rallied in Sacramento yesterday to hold the line on higher education cuts and tuition in the State. Seventy students were arrested in the State Capitol Rotunda after hundreds of activists non-violently occupied the Capitol Rotunda for over 7 hours, while others lobbied their representatives to fully fund education.
The rally was the culmination of several days of action to "refund education" in California, beginning last Thursday with protests on 30 campuses statewide and a 99-Mile march of students and faculty from the Bay Area to Sacramento. The events were the followup to Novembers statewide campus protests, which successfully pressed the State to hold off on a proposed round of tuition increases.
"Thousands of students, workers, faculty and advocates stood together yesterday to demand that the 1% pay its share to fund education," said Charlie Eaton, an organizer with REFUND California. "After experiencing the highest tuition hikes in the country, students came to Sacramento to tell Governor Brown enough is enough. The movement that was out on campuses in November was on the steps of the Statehouse yesterday, and we will continue to fight to refund higher education."
In "people's assemblies" inside the Capitol, protesters developed a list of demands for the legislature and the Governor. Number one was support for the "Millionaire's Tax" ballot initiative, which would add $5-6b in revenue every year - including nearly $2b in dedicated funds for higher education- to support critical social services that have been ravaged by state budget cuts. Other priorities included full funding for education statewide, and democratization of the UC and CSU board of regents. Chanting "hear us out or we'll vote you out," students made clear throughout the day that they are squarely focused on the Governor and the Legislature as the keys to refunding education in California.
With California leading the nation in tuition increases after years of cuts, thousands of students, teachers, parents, and workers kicked off a week of actions, rallies and events to make the 1% pay to refund education, jobs, essential services, and a better future for the next generation.
The Occupy Education week kicked off on March 1st with over 30 on-campus actions across the state and will culminate on March 5th when thousands of activists will descend on Sacramento to Occupy the Capitol. Additionally, dozens of activists launched a 99 Mile March from Oakland to Sacramento.
As reported by the AP, "The protesters are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to reject any budget deal that includes higher education cuts or tuition increases. They also want the governor to support a ballot measure that would raise taxes on millionaires to pay for education and social services."
We'll see you on March 5!
UC Santa Cruz: UCSC East Remote Parking Lot, 6am, March 5
UC Davis: ARC Parking Lot, 8am or 9am, March 5
City College of San Francisco: 50 Phelan Avenue (Upper Parking Lot, Near Riordan High School 7:30am
SF Civic Center: Larkin @Fulton 7:45am
Fresno State University: Student Recreation Center at Woodrow and Shaw Ave, 6am, March 5
Berkeley: Bancroft & Telegraph, 7:30am, March 5
UCR: University Avenue adjacent to Parking Lot 24, 12:30am, March 5
UCM: Kolligian Library Traffic Loop, 7:30am, March 5
Return Info for Monday, March 5 at 7pm: All buses leave Sacramento from 15th Street between L and M
UC Santa Cruz: UCSC East Remote Parking Lot
UC Davis: ARC Parking Lot
SF (One return points only): Civic Center BART station
Fresno State University: Student Recreation Center at Woodrow and Shaw Ave
Berkeley/Oakland: MacArthur BART
UCR: Contact Associated student
UCM: Kolligian Library Traffic Loop
Return Info: Tuesday, March 6 at 12pm: All buses leave Sacramento from 15th Street between L and M
If you reserve a spot for departure on Tuesday, housing will be provided in Sacramento
UC Santa Cruz: UCSC East Remote Parking Lot
Berkeley/Oakland: MacArthur BART
SF (One return points only): Civic Center BART station
If you don't see a departure location listed here, and you are a student or employee at an educational institution, contact your student government to see if there is a bus leaving your school for March 5.
If you can't find a ride on a bus from your school, want help organizing a carpool, or have other questions about getting to Sacramento on March 5, contact us at ReFundCA@calorganize.org. We will work with you on rideshares and/or direct you to public transportation to make sure that everyone is able to get to and from the action..
Press Advisory: ACTIVISTS TO PROTEST ON 30 CAMPUSES, OCCUPY THE CAPITOL IN SACRAMENTO TO MAKE BANKS & MILLIONAIRES PAY TO REFUND EDUCATIONFebruary 29, 2012
***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR MARCH 1ST AND MARCH 5TH***
Ben Wyskida, 917-825-1289 // email@example.com
See below for local event contacts
ACTIVISTS TO PROTEST ON 30 CAMPUSES, OCCUPY THE CAPITOL IN SACRAMENTO TO MAKE BANKS & MILLIONAIRES PAY TO REFUND EDUCATION
Thousands of Students, Parents, Teachers and Workers Call on Governor Brown to Support Millionaires Tax and End Talks on New Tuition Increases and Cuts
SACRAMENTO – With California leading the nation in tuition increases after years of cuts, thousands of students, teachers, parents, and workers – will kick off a week of actions, rallies and events to make the 1% pay to refund education, jobs, essential services, and a better future for the next generation.
The week will kick off on March 1st with over 30 on-campus actions across the state (see list of actions below) and culminate on March 5th when thousands of activists will descend on Sacramento to Occupy the Capitol. In between, dozens of activists will undertake a 99 Mile March to Sacramento, beginning in Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland at 2pm on Thursday, March 1st.
These actions are the followup to ReFund California’s November actions, where tens of thousands protested statewide to make the banks pay to refund higher education. Those protests helped stop any tuition hikes in the UC system for the 2011-2012 academic year. This week of action reflects growing momentum for ReFund California’s policy solutions and calls to make the 1% pay.
Monday, March 5 ”Occupy the Capital” events in Sacramento
10am: Mass March on the Capitol Building, Beginning at South Side Park in Sacramento
11am: Rally at the Capitol Building
3:30pm: General Assembly and Nonviolent Direct Action Training
5:30pm: Permitted rally in support of Occupy the Capitol!
“We’ve had a 300% increase in tuition because millionaires and Wall Street corporations have used loopholes and politics to avoid paying taxes. With few good jobs out there, we can’t afford to take on more student debt. Yet college and university executives are trying to get a budget deal with Governor Brown to increase tuition by as much as 24%. We call on the Governor to reject this deal and instead support the Millionaire’s tax. It’s time to make the 1% refund education, jobs, and a better future for the next generation” said CSU Fresno student Chucho Mendoza.
The effort is supported by Refund California, a statewide coalition of students, teachers, homeowners, and faith leaders working to make Wall Street the 1% pay to solve the economic crisis they created.
ReFund California is calling on Governor Jerry Brown to:
- End talks about any budget deal that includes tuition hikes or education cuts
- Instead, support the passage of California’s Millionaires Tax of 2012 -- the only viable initiative that will generate more $1.5 billion in new revenue for colleges and universities without making ordinary Californians pay a single dime more in taxes. The millionaires tax will provide $6 billion in new revenue overall for education, vital services, and infrastructure.
FOLLOW THE PROTESTS ONLINE:
Twitter – Follow @ReFundCA and the hashtag #occupythecapitol
Facebook – “Like” Make Banks Pay California for updates, links, pictures, and videos.
Text Updates: Text “REFUND ED” to 415-689-7538
March 1st Event Details : Locally organized events will take place on over 20 campuses around the state. Each event will be different, but all events will focus on the need to stop tuition increases, prevent cuts and make the 1% pay to ReFund Education. Listed below are three of the highest profile events. The full list of events happening around the state can be found at: www.refundcalifornia.org/march01
Contact: Carla West, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-379-0532
8am – 12pm Open University California Hall
12 noon Rally, Sproul Plaza
12:45pm March to Oscar Grant Plaza
Note: This will also be the kickoff of the “99 Mile March,” where dozens of activists will begin a multi-day at Grant Plaza which will culminate with the Occupy the Capitol events in Sacramento on March 5th.
Contact: Erin Conley, 620-757-5950, email@example.com
12pm-8pm Wilson Plaza, UCLA
There will be a full day of teach-ins, performances, speak-out, a general assembly and camping at the Bruin Bear
Noon: food-sharing, creative space, and performance
1pm-4pm: Teach outs (the budget, Palestine, know your rights, student union models, student/worker organizing)
4pm-5pm: Free School - first meeting
5pm: Teach out - fighting FBI surveillance
6pm: General assembly
8pm: Film screening: Berkeley in the 60's
Night: Camping at the Bruin Bear
City College of San Francisco & San Francisco State University
Stephan Georgiou, 631 793-5253, firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco 8 AM - 2 PM
8am: Occupy CCSF students will create stations around campus to speak to students about the day and week ahead.
10am: Art station at RAM Plaza on campus to create signs for the state action later in the day.
12:30pm: Students to walk out of class and converge at RAM Plaza for a 1pm rally
1pm: RAM Plaza Rally will feature AFT Local 2121 President Alisa Messer, 99 Mile marchers, and Poetry for the People.
1pm: Occupy SFSU students will march from their campus to CCSF fto join RAM Plaza Rally
3pm: Teach-in and occupation at the California State Office Building (455 Golden Gate Avenue)
4pm - 6pm: Mass rally at San Francisco Civic Center
February 29, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 29, 2012
Dave Lagstein, ACCE, 619-602-2206, email@example.com
STATEMENT FROM members of the ReFund California Coalition, including: Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), Courage Campaign and People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO).
Statement from members of the ReFund California Coalition, including: Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), Courage Campaign and People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO).
We applaud the announcement of the Homeowner Bill of Rights package of legislative bills by Attorney General Kamala Harris and the leadership of Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg. ReFund California is calling upon the Legislature and the Governor to pass this package immediately and resist efforts of the powerful bank lobby to water them down. Until these protections are in place, thousands of families will needlessly lose their homes every day. That is why we are calling for an immediate halt to all foreclosures in California as this bill package moves through the legislature these next 4 months.
This announcement is the latest development that offers a glimmer of hope for those seeking compensation for the crimes that devastated homeowners and crashed the economy. Each of these critical developments has the potential to bring relief over the next several months. Unfortunately, though, none of these positive developments changes the fact that a California family gets a foreclosure notice every 76 seconds.
- This month a $25 billion multi-state settlement with five major banks was announced, which brings a measure of relief in the form of principal reductions, loan refinances, and some restitution for foreclosure abuses for an estimated 466,000 Californians. However, it will take six to nine months before homeowners begin to benefit from this relief. This wait could cost hundreds of thousands of borrowers their homes.
- President Obama has announced that a new financial fraud task force led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will investigate the criminal behavior that led to the financial collapse. The task force and the work already underway by Attorney General Harris have potential to create the leverage to negotiate principal reduction and full restitution for homeowners on a much larger scale. According to a recent report, principal reduction for all underwater homeowners would inject more $20 billion into the California economy and generate over 300,000 jobs.
- The suspicions of many were validated when an audit conducted by San Francisco county assessor Phil Ting showed that 99% of mortgages had inappropriate paperwork and 84% violated state law. Ting has forwarded his findings to Attorney General Harris and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who have both called for further state and federal actions and investigations.
The organizing work of Refund Coalition members and our allies has played a pivotal role in creating the public pressure and political will to hold banks accountable and to provide relief and restitution to homeowners. We will continue our efforts to ensure that the ongoing investigation provides relief for many more homeowners and call upon legislators to take immediate action to prevent unwarranted and unjust foreclosures. Without such immediate action, borrowers like Archbishop Franzo King of San Francisco, will never see the benefits of the multi-state settlement. He believes that he could be eligible for compensation under the settlement, but his home is scheduled to be sold at auction on April 5.
“The passage of the Homeowner Bill of Rights package and an immediate halt to foreclosures will protect homeowners while the process for real relief runs its course. In the coming months, ACCE will be fighting for a swift and fair implementation of this month’s multi-state settlement and a broader investigation and prosecution that will result in principal reduction for underwater homeowners,” said Vivian Richardson, a member of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.
"California homeowners continue to suffer from irresponsible and unfair foreclosure practices, such as the dual track process. We need strong legislation in California in order to protect homeowners now and in the future," said Kevin Stein, Associate Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition.
"California was the epicenter of the mortgage meltdown. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of homeowners, saw their life savings and hopes destroyed by the big banks who both got bailed out and made fortunes by screwing the middle class. The 49-state mortgage settlement was a very small first step in the process of fixing the mess. Now, under the leadership of AG Harris, our legislature has the chance to side with homeowners to stop foreclosures and make banks pay," said Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign.
“Last year, despite one of the worst for California Homeowners, some members of the State Legislature whose constituents have been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis wouldn’t let similar legislation out of committee,” stated Norma Garcia of Consumers Union. “As the crisis deepens and evidence of improper foreclosures mounts, legislators have no more excuses to not protect California’s homeowners.”
California cannot tolerate yet another year of mass foreclosure while leaders in Sacramento stand by idly, allowing the banks to break laws and evict families from their homes. State legislators must side with the homeowners who elected them, not the banks that line their campaign coffers,” said Rob Goodman, a leader with PICO CA in Fresno, who has been fighting foreclosure of his home for over two years.
Californians need a temporary halt in all foreclosures until there is due process for all families struggling to keep their homes. Crucial elements of the Homeowner Bill of Rights package include a requirement to prove a clean chain of title on the mortgage and an end to dual tracking, where the servicer pursues a foreclosure for a family attempting to negotiate a modification. Struggling homeowners and the economy of our state depend on swift and decisive action to refund and rebuild our hardest hit communities.
ReFund California is a coalition of nearly 50 different community, faith, labor, consumer rights and human service organizations working to make Wall Street banks pay for destroying jobs and neighborhoods with their greedy, irresponsible and predatory business practices. Through legislation, advocacy, direct action, and accountability, ReFund California’s primary goals are to hold Wall Street banks accountable and have them invest back into rebuilding our hardest hit communities.
ACCE is the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a multi-racial, democratic, non-profit community organization building power in low to moderate income neighborhoods to stand and fight for social, economic, and racial justice. Made up of thousands of dues paying members organizing in eleven counties, grassroots community leaders are creating transformative change by helping ordinary citizens to organize and take action.
CRC is the California Reinvestment Coalition, a coalition of over 300 nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the state of California advocating for the right of low-income communities and communities of color to have fair and equal access to banking and other financial services.
Courage Campaign is an online organizing network that empowers more than 750,000 grassroots and netroots activists to push for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. As a leading multi-issue advocacy organization, Courage Campaign's work is supported by thousands of small donations from our diverse community.
PICO is California is People Improving Communities through Organizing, the largest grassroots congregation-based community-organizing network in California. Nineteen local PICO federations organize in 73 cities, 35 school districts, and in more than one-half of the state's Senate and Assembly districts, reaching from San Diego to Placer County. Together, PICO federations represent 450,000 families of diverse economic, racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds across the state. PICO CA is part of the PICO National Network, which includes organizations in 16 states.
For more info on the millionaires tax, please visit: http://www.millionairestaxca.com
The Millionaires Tax of 2012 is a ballot initiative proposal for the November 2012 election that asks the richest Californians to pay their fair share to help fund public education and vital public services.
1% Real Estate Speculator Changes Locks on Childcare Provider and Homeowner of 38 years when she goes to store with great granddaughter
SAN FRANCISCO–Dozens of neighbors, family, friends and supporters will gather to support Josephine Tolbert, a 75 year old great grandmother who – on Tuesday - went to drop off her great granddaughter at school and returned to find her locks changed on her home she bought in 1973. For nearly 20 years she has run a childcare business that helped support the economy and working families in her Portola Neighborhood of San Francisco. On Wednesday, November 30th, she was evicted to profit real estate speculators.
“Just as I am finally getting back on my feet, and seeing success with my childcare business after being ill, I am kicked out of my home. I thought I had more time and was working with counseling agencies to keep my home of 38 years, but have found out that it is not only sold but I came home this morning with my grandchild and found my locks changed. I had to immediately cancel my childcare services leaving 2 families, 5 children, are left without their childcare.” stated Josephine Tolbert. “This isn’t how seniors should be treated over the holidays.”
Amidst growing outrage over police violence against the Occupy movement on the UC Davis and UC Berkeley campuses -- including the pepper spraying and baton beatings of non-violent protesters -- the University of California Board of Regents just announced that they will close their doors to the public when they vote on new cuts to education on November 28th. The public can only “participate” through a sham teleconference.
This echoes the announcement from the California State University Board of Trustees that they will not engage in a public discussion or revote regarding the illegitimate tuition increase they passed behind closed doors last Wednesday. The leadership of both the UC and CSU systems refuse to face thousands of outraged students, faculty, and staff who demand they stop treating the 99% like an ATM.