Editor’s Note: This month Raging Chicken Press brings you two interviews from the February 27, 2012 Rick Smith Show. We’ve got two great interviews from people who are not simply whining about the right-wing attacks against working families, the public, and our democracy. We’ve got some class warriors in the house. I’d like to personally thank Raging Chicken Press intern, Drew Simonovich, for transcribing the Brandon Jessup interview and Chelsea Terwilliger for transcribing the Ben Speight interview. Both interviews come from the February 27, 2012 Rick Smith Show.
Segment 1: Ben Speight | Organizing Director for Teamsters Local 728 & Co-Chair Atlanta Jobs with Justice: “We’ve Got to Put Our Bodies on the Line.”
Segment 2: Brandon Jessup | Founder of Michigan Forward: “Public Act 4: The Evil Dictator Bill.”
Ben Speight | Organizing Director for Teamsters Local 728
& Co-Chair Atlanta Jobs with Justice
“We’ve Got to Put Our Bodies on the Line”
Lead-in music: (Blondie, “Hanging On The Telephone“)
[Rick Smith] So you know, the more I look around the country, the more I’m thinking that the Republican Party has lost its ever-loving freakin’ mind and Georgia, one of the places, I think, completely lost in the dust. I look at this Senate Resolution 889 where they want to nullify any law that they deem not in their interest…well, they want to nullify any federal law. They want to be able to say “well, you know what? If there’s a mandate or a statute we don’t like that came out of the federal government, we’re just not going to do it.” Now think about it, this was the beginning of the movement towards the Civil War—this was the beginning of that—and as James Madison said back then, nullification would put a speedy end to the union in itself. Basically, they’re moving us down that path again. And not only that, this whole—as I’ve been calling it—the Shaft-Heartless Bill, Georgia Senate Bill 469—basically Taft-Hartley for those of us who aren’t in unions or aren’t workers, saying that if you’re going to protest, NOPE. It’s going to be against the law and we’re going to fine you for it, maybe jail; a felony. It’s just absolutely nuts. I’ve asked Ben Speight, the organizing director for Teamsters Local 728 down in Atlanta, also the co-chair of Atlanta Jobs with Justice, to come talk to us about that.
Ben, thanks for taking time for me.
[Ben Speight]: Hey Rick, it’s good to be on the show.
[Rick Smith]: You know I look at this Senate Bill 469—what I’ve been calling the Shaft-Heartless Bill, and as I’m looking at the situation, it’s aimed directly at you and the Occupy movement there in Atlanta for the work you’re doing with foreclosed home-owners, for workers’ groups like AT&T… your thought?
[Ben Speight]: Well look, this is no surprise in this climate that we have right now; we’re working people in a deep crisis. We’re not out of this recession yet, in fact the right and their corporate buddies are still emboldened to come after us. They’re not learning the lessons of 2011, that the people organizing actually have the power. They’re actually thinking “you know what? This is a green light for us to come after Labor, the Occupy movement, and all those that are concerned with social and economic injustice.”
Just to back up a little bit, I was born and raised in Georgia, and I hate for the country to think of Georgia as this pariah when really, this bill is part in parcel of a greater scheme. What’s going on with Senate Bill 469 in Georgia is that the principal sponsors of this bill—all members of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council—have been putting out these template, corporate-backed pieces of legislation attacking unions throughout the country. That’s what this is about. They put a section in there specifically targeting forms of non-violent civil disobedience and direct action, which you referenced a moment ago about the foreclosure actions that have been successful in keeping banks from kicking working families out of homes here in Atlanta, and that’s principally been led by Occupy Atlanta.
What happened on February 13th, though, was nothing less than historic and that is labor through Communications Workers of America 3204 (which represents AT&T workers in Atlanta), Jobs with Justice, and Occupy Atlanta did a surprise, civil disobedience at AT&T’s corporate office here in Midtown Atlanta. We got into the building and did a sit-down. Well, we were all charged—I was one of them—and we were arrested, and we’re all charged with a criminal misdemeanor for trespassing. This law—this bill—came out the next week and it specifically targeted those forms of action by making the planning of such action, the planning of a civil disobedience like that—even if it was nonviolent—a felony under Georgia law. It’s absolutely clear to us that it’s no coincidence that AT&T and other corporate interests in town, and the banks, worked with these Republican Senators to draft this bill, through ALEC and have it proposed. And tomorrow there’s going to be a hearing at the Georgia State Capitol, and coincidentally we’re having a labor the day there with hundreds of union members and Teamsters are going to be at the Capitol. We’re going to attend that hearing, and we’re going to let our voice be heard. The following day, Occupy Atlanta is also organizing a demonstration against Senate Bill 469.
[Rick Smith]: I’m glad someone’s fighting against it because I’m looking at this and I’m completely enraged, because I know if it works in Atlanta, if it works in Georgia, it’s going to find its way to Pennsylvania eventually, and then across the country. How is the local media taking this, are local folks upset about it? What kind of response are you getting?
[Ben Speight]: The media here in town, the mainstream media—if it isn’t elsewhere—is firmly in the hands of corporate interest but there are entities that are picking it up from your program, obviously, there’s community radio here in Atlanta, and other smaller venues are picking it up. What’s very clear here is that the way this law is written, it’s so broad. It encompasses all progressive social forces in our state, everybody from women’s rights organizations to the LGBTQ community, to Labor, to Occupy, anybody that’s ever raised a grievance with their government or corporate company. You have the provision in there that, first off, you have to reoffer every union member in the state of Georgia, and we currently have the lowest-union density rate in the country. Four percent of the total work force is in unions. They want to make that zero, so it would require every union member to re-authorize their check-off annually, which is an extra burden on unions to go out there and collect dues year-round. It also gives union members the right to revoke their membership at any time. Right now, their ability to do so is negotiated in our collected bargaining agreement. We already have a relationship with these employers about how members can join or not in a right-to-work state. So that’s the union part of it.
The other parts of it that broadens to encompass all social progressive forces in our state is that you can’t have a picket outside of either a private residence or company if you’re disturbing the peaceful enjoyment of those inside those buildings. That’s the exact wording, “the peaceful enjoyment.” Last time I checked, every time we have a demonstration the purpose of it is to disturb the peace and to say that our lives are being affected by the policies of these companies and these governments. So even the routine tradition of labor of forming a picket line outside an employer or the residence of a CEO, now that would be punishable by fines of $1,000 per day for each picketer, and $10,000 a day for the organization with the possibility of an injunction issued against the organizations and individuals involved in that picket. And then section five, as I said, would make it a felony to engage in and plan a civil disobedience.
This is so broad it actually helps labor, because the Right and corporate interest often try to frame us in some sort of special interest that’s just concerned about our members. Our interests are actually the interests of all working people and all people who are concerned about the direction of this country being taken over by corporate power. Everybody that has, at any time, raised such grievances –we have the constitutionally protected right to do so—is now being criminalized, and in Georgia, three strikes and you’re out state. So, if you get three felonies, you’re done. A felony in Georgia is a minimum of one year in state prison and a $10,000 fine. So if you look back at our heroes in history: Dr. King, how many times did he get arrested for criminal trespassing: civil disobedience? He would be a felon. Rosa Parks would be a felon. They’re trying to take us back eighty years, Rick.
[Rick Smith]: I’ve been saying that they want to take us back to the 1890s, looking at the policies that are being put forth. And another in a series of ALEC-type bills, where the corporate masters and the billionaire class have decided that they’ve had enough with the rabble, they’ve had enough with the Occupy-ers; it’s time for everybody to go and do what they want to do as long as they don’t cause any trouble or, heaven forbid, ask for equality or ask for a decent wage. At the end of this I don’t know why people aren’t in the streets by the millions at this point with all of the information that’s out there.
[Ben Speight]: Well, I think it’s our duty first and foremost to organize just to get out there and educate the public. That’s why I’m so proud to have a program like yours that gets out to so many different people across this country that can listen and understand what’s at stake. But, you know, they count on us being asleep, and they count on labor to just rely on traditional methods like lobbying, and writing checks, and asking them not to do this and using procedural ways to get around this. The reality is, this bill is for real. They really are intent on pushing it through, and we simply cannot wait for anything else to happen. It’s not going to be either one of the parties that come and save us, it’s not going to be some elected official, and it’s not going to be (necessarily) a legal means on its own to resolve this.
This is about basic freedoms and human rights, and if we don’t defend those they’re going to be taken from us aggressively in our state. And that’s what this is, and you’re right! They think they can get away with it in a state like Georgia, but it should be a message to everybody from New Jersey and Pennsylvania and California and Michigan and other places where we have strong union membership. They’ve already started to try to pass these right-to-work laws. Look what happened in Indiana. They thought that they could get away with it there and now they’re coming to Georgia so the Right and their corporate buddies have a national movement.
Are we going to start to push our own envelope to think about new tactics and a new strategy to combat this? One of the things that we have to do is to tell people it’s not just about unions. It’s not just about collective bargaining rights. Do you even want to have a democracy anymore? ‘Cause that’s what’s at stake. They’re literally—through laws, and these bills— stripping us of our basic democratic rights. What we’re going to end up as, and this is not just hyperbole: we’re going to end up like Syria where people who rise up are literally pushed down through the most extreme oppressive means. This is what this is.
Imagine a hundred people who sit out there and protest, sit down nonviolently, and get locked up for felonies for a year. We’re going to have hundreds if not thousands of political prisoners in this state as a result of this bill, and that’s not just rhetoric, that’s what they want to happen. They want to demoralize all of our movements, and say “we’re going to lock you up, and we’re going to throw away the key if you do bold actions like a civil disobedience.” Frankly Rick, I think we all ought to be engaged when it’s appropriate and when we need to escalate to put pressure on these entities, to engage in nonviolent noncompliance and direct action.
[Rick Smith]: I’m right there with you.
[Ben Speight]: We have to put our bodies on the line, because it destroys working families and it destroys the middle class when they take away our union rights, which is what they’re trying to do.
[Rick Smith]: I’ve said that about actions on the job, about them coming in and trying to foreclose on people’s homes, you name it. I think direct action is the best way to go, and as we’ve seen these occupations around the country, there’s a lot of talk out there that the one percent is all afraid. I don’t think so, because I think the one percent knows that they’ve got legislatures like the one in Georgia, here in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, that they’ve bought and paid for enough politicians to make sure that they don’t have to be afraid.
[Ben Speight]: I’ll tell you one thing, I’ve been fired on the job for organizing. I’ve seen people who I’ve worked with have been fired on the job. I’ve seen other forms of retaliation. We’ve been arrested, we’ve seen police come out there and shoot at us with rubber bullets and tear gas. I’ve been organizing in Georgia for fourteen years, but I have never seen a corporation work with legislators to specifically draft a piece of legislation in direct response to an action that we took. That, to me, does smack of the fact that they’re afraid because they’re responding directly to something that we’ve done. So, I think we need to continue to do it, we need to turn up the heat, but we also need to put it on blast as much as we can.
If this is the party of small government, then why are you trying to interfere between the dispute? Two parties dispute: the union and the workers dispute with companies, and you’re going to interfere with that process—the collective bargaining process—by telling us what we can or cannot negotiate in our contracts and tell us exactly how we’re going to interact with the company when we have a dispute, whether or not we can have a mass picket or have a form of direct action? This is big government at its worst and I think the neediest conservatives are out there listening and there are folks that are really concerned about the power of government. We should be looking at how government and corporations are working hand-in-hand to take away our basic democratic rights. If they’re really about freedom and they keep preaching about freedom, shouldn’t a working person have the freedom to assemble? To ask the government for redress of their grievances? To organize?
[Rick Smith]: Absolutely. The problem with the conservatives right now is that they’re blinded by abortion and gay marriage and all that nonsense that their party leaders keep feeding them.
[Ben Speight]: I think the labor movement is the antidote to fix this economy. If we don’t have workers that are making a rising income, that have stable jobs, and we’re letting companies like AT&T—this whole thing started by AT&T laying off 740 workers. They are the second most profitable corporation in the world, the CEO has a $27 million compensation plan, they go and blow billions of dollars in this intensive buy-out of T-Mobile, and they want the workers to take the tab on the bill for that failed business decision. And this protest, this demonstration that will continue to camp outside AT&T’s corporate offices here in Midtown Atlanta, is that we’re just saying enough is enough.
Finally when we did that here in the South, they respond with this kind of law. If there’s anything that anybody around the country can do, tomorrow, the Labor and Insurance Committee of the Senate will be having their first hearing on this bill, Senate Bill 469. The principal sponsor of it is a guy named Don Balfour, who is Vice President of Waffle House. For those that may be familiar with Waffle House. They’re all members of ALEC. Help us by calling, looking up Senate Bill 469—I don’t know if they can link to it on your website—call in these sponsors, and tell them that this whole country is watching; that we’re not going to allow this to happen in Georgia.
In the Labor movement we have this saying, we talk about solidarity, but “an injury to one is an injury to all of us.” We have to draw the line in the sand, and it feels like we’re fighting battles from across the country because we are. It’s really a wake-up call to the labor movement and our leadership. I know you’re concerned with the day-to-day issues on the job and on the shop floor. We’ve got to keep fighting these things, too. I know you’re concerned about organizing non-union workers; we’ve got to keep doing that too. But you know what? If we don’t close ranks now and have an all-out approach to it, we’re going to go from four percent in the state of Georgia to zero percent. We’re going to have a labor movement that literally ceases to exist. And what does that really mean for our democracy? It’s scary.
[Rick Smith]: That is their goal, a desperation class they want to continue to create. Ben Speight, we will make sure that we get the information for Senate Bill 469 up at our website. I appreciate the time, keep up the fight down there, brother, and as this goes on I’d love to talk to you again.
[Ben Speight]: Thank you brother, take care.
Brandon Jessup | Founder of Michigan Forward
“Public Act 4: The Evil Dictator Bill”
Romney speech excerpt:
“I love this country. I love this state. This feels good, being back in Michigan. You know, the trees are the right height. The streets are just right…”
Lead-in music: (Rush, “The Trees“)
[Rick Smith]: One of my favorite organizing songs of all time, there’s Rush. You know what, what the heck is Romney talking about–”the trees”–I’ve been to Michigan, I don’t think their trees are much different from Ohio’s or Wisconsin’s, but evidentially this guy…he’s brought it up a couple of times. Just insane. Anyway, welcome back to the Rick Smith Show. Remember to check out the website at the RickSmithShow.com. A lot of things going on in Michigan. And like we were talking about in Georgia, you know direct action there, people taking to the streets, people getting involved. I like what I’m seeing in Michigan. That’s why I’ve asked Brandon Jessup, founder of Michigan Forward to come to talk to us about his group and what their doing there to fight back on the little dictators that their governor has been appointing.
Brandon, thanks for taking the time for me.
[Brandon Jessup]: Hey, no problem. Thank you for having me on.
[Rick Smith]: No, I appreciate anybody doing direction action and getting out in the streets. As I understand, you guys are putting something on your ballot to do away with these little dictators. I saw you need something like 160,000 signatures; you’ve got something like 250,000? Is that correct?
[Brandon Jessup]: Absolutely. Absolutely. We are almost at 225,000 signatures to repeal Governor Snyder’s, what we call it is the “evil dictator law.” As of right now he’s installed dictators in four cities already. Even after this past week when found him violating our open meetings act, which we give disclosure and accountability to all the action that he’s been taking in communities with financial distress, he went back and now he’s looking to dissolve an entire school district, just because he couldn’t get his way. So, we’re going to spank some of these four conservatives here in the state of Michigan with our repeal effort, and we are going to vote this ballot, this evil dictator bill down in November.
[Rick Smith]: I sure hope so, because you know, again, as I say about a lot of that nastiness going around, if it’s not in Georgia or Wisconsin or Ohio or even in Michigan…that stuff if it flies there, will find its way here to Pennsylvania or find its way to other states. So, if we can stop where it grew, if we can stop where it started, so much better for the rest of the nation.
[Brandon Jessup]: Absolutely. And you know, and it’s funny because a lot of these conservative think tanks here in Michigan they are all across the Mid-West. Our emergency manager bill, actually, from what I heard there was a similar version being discussed in Pennsylvania for your state capitol. And also, that guy down there in Indiana, Mitch Daniels, when they couldn’t get their way on collective bargaining, they’re looking at similar legislation right now in Indiana.
I want to talk about why this legislation is so bad. Right now, our governor, under disguise of a financial crisis in the school district or a municipality, can appoint his own unelected bureaucrat to unilaterally cancel all public contracts to remove elected officials. And also, to see any and all public assets that a municipality or school district may hold. So, what does that mean? For the city of Detroit it means that 72% of our traditional public schools have been closed after we passed over $800 million in funding and budget proposals and municipal bonds to build brand new schools in the district in the last seven years. Now, he’s taken those brand new school that we just built and he’s turned them over to private interests.
[Rick Smith]: Of course he has.
[Brandon Jessup]: Absolutely. Absolutely. And our deficit hasn’t decreased. This emergency manager, this dictator came in with the deficit of just over $50 million dollars. Now that deficit is $327 million. And we have 50 kids per classroom in some schools. We’re not getting any results that we’ve asked for. We’ve got to stop this dictator bill today.
[Rick Smith]: Yeah, I know. I had actually talked to someone from one of your school districts, I forget which one it was, where the fire Marshall had actually cited the school for a fire code violation by having 55 children in a kindergarten class. And I keep telling people, folks, look at what’s going on around you. That’s going to come to a school district near you. The one down in Florida that we talked about earlier in the program, this charter school where they brought in this profiteer who has just done some of the most mind-blowing things—bankrupted this charter school but her pockets are full.
[Brandon Jessup]: Absolutely
[Rick Smith]: And that’s where we’re headed.
[Brandon Jessup]: Absolutely. These guys, these unelected dictators that we have here in Michigan, they can earn up to $400,000 dollars a year. And also they can double their profits by finding their own funders and fundraisers throughout the state and also nationally. So what we’ve seen is not only just the greedy corporate CEO’s come in, with their big pocketbooks and big checks, but also finding some of these conservative foundations and think-tanks funding some of this same activity. So, you know, we’re losing on both ends here in Michigan. But the great things is, and I’ve got to say this, as the conservative’s tried to make this a race issue, it’s not. This is an issue about democracy and local representation. And it perplexes some that the Tea Party hasn’t stood up against this overreach of big government into our communities. But the great thing about it is that progressives all across this state have said no to this law, and honestly we’ve done this with a full volunteer effort. We have not paid for any signatures we’ve collected; we’ve been collecting for the last six months. And on Wednesday (2/29/2012) we’ll marching over 200,000 petitions to Lansing.
[Rick Smith]: That sounds like a great thing, But understand the Tea Party is nothing but a billionaire construct. They’ve made out with a bunch of money.
[Brandon Jessup]: Oh yeah, we know that.
[Rick Smith]: I mean, they’ve created that out of nowhere. They’ve got a couple of people to come get out, get outraged, point their finger around, but at the end of the day it’s a billionaire construct. What I find particularly interesting about this is, for the folks who believe in local government, the republicans keeping telling us they want small, less intrusive, localized government. Even here in PA, our governor Tom Corporate, he decided that in the Marcellus Shale areas there can be no local control. So, I guess I should be surprised. I’ve watched this long enough. I know these people well enough that the rhetoric doesn’t meet the action.
[Brandon Jessup]: Absolutely not.
[Rick Smith]: But the hope is that groups like yours and others will wake people up, the mindless conservative goes in there and goes, “I believe in this strong B.S.,” and pulls the lever, hopefully in November we pull the lever the other way.
[Brandon Jessup]: Well, yeah you know our effort to stand up for democracy…the key argument, our key argument, not just Michigan Forward, but also Michigan AFSCME Council 25, the Michigan AFL-CIO, and the Michigan Educators’ Association and thousands of teachers and just every day worker folks. We’ve been beating the bushes hard, and Independents are starting to realize that Public Act 4 is wrong, that emergency management is wrong, that dictatorship flies in the face of democracy. So, we can’t turn back the clock on the way we govern ourselves, we’ve got to turn and put some interest in to the way we do govern ourselves.
[Rick Smith]: Absolutely.
[Brandon Jessup]: Yes, we’ve had some poor elected officials, and what we can do with those guys, we can vote them out. The same as voting out this governor in the next three years. And the great thing I have got to keep saying is that if it wasn’t for the progressive voice, Michigan would probably be overrun with crazy dictators right now. But the poll numbers show 60% of Michigan does not like this law. We’re going to keep on beating the bush until we get a mandate to get this law off the books.
[Rick Smith]: I sure hope you succeed on it. You hit on the point there that I think is extremely important, the term limit you were talking about, my favorite term limit is the vote.
[Brandon Jessup]: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. We’ve seen quite a few re-call measures come across this state, and the local state house raises. In the mall, we’ve got a presidential primary that’s going on, but we will probably win some seats in the house again tomorrow as well. So, we’re excited here in Michigan.
[Rick Smith]: I sure hope. Because Michigan is one of those states I always saw as a solidly reliable working class state that didn’t go too far off the deep, deep end. I know you’ve got your northern problems there, but for the most part it was a solidly working class state.
Let me ask you to go back to these little dictators, because you brought up something about public contracts, and these little czar guys being able to break any public contract. What about private contracts? Do they have the ability to break those?
[Brandon Jessup]: They have absolutely no say-so over private projects. Which, ones again shocks us because it’s the private contracts that are breaking our communities. Right here in the city of Detroit our mayor decided to give a private vendor the contract to fix our city busses. Right now, over 60% of our city busses don’t run and we can’t return, we can’t get the city busses that are all ready in storage under this private contractor because he doesn’t believe we have the ability to pay here in the city of Detroit. So, now you see our private contractors holding our city hostage. The thousands of people who rely on mass transit can’t get mass transit because we have a private contractor that wants to hold out for his own personal gain. The other part of that is this: we’re paying three times as much as we would for the paid union public labor that we all ready have here in the City of Detroit. So, you know we’re being gouged on one end because our public workers can’t work and we are also being killed on the other end by the private industry that wants to milk our community. They really want to go after our pension, which is one of the healthiest pensions in the nation right here in the city of Detroit, having over $300 million in assists. So.
[Rick Smith]: Yeah, I mean of course you do. Of course you do. Let me ask you about tomorrow’s primary and one of the first things I think the question that’s been batting around my head and I alluded to it in the opening, what’s with the trees? Are they different? Because I’ve been through Michigan, are they different? Did I miss that day? Was there a memo that I missed? What?
[Brandon Jessup]: You know, I don’t know what Governor Romney was talking about. The trees up here in Detroit are just the same as any other trees in the country. You know this just shows, I mean, this guy’s out of touch. This is the same person who held a 1,500-person rally in a 68,000-person arena for a field. This is the same person, two days prior, had to trash the auto industry and wished it to tank. But it’s ironic that he held a major speech on Friday at Ford’s Field. This is par for the course from Republicans here in the state. I know quite a few progressives will be voting Ron Paul here in Michigan. I, myself I’’ll be staying at home.
[Rick Smith]: Vote for Santorum. Go vote for Santorum. Push him out there. I want to see this whole primary thing end up in April and make Pennsylvania a decision-making state at some point.
[Brandon Jessup]: We’ll hand it over to you as long as you guys handle the problem. We’ll definitely punt it over to Pennsylvania; it’s not an issue.
[Rick Smith]: There you go, because I’ve got to be honest with you I really don’t want to see the really, just mean-spirited, angry divisive politics that the Republicans have brought to our public discourse continuing. At some point we the voting people have to exercise our right to term limit and throw the bums out.
[Brandon Jessup]: Well, you know, I think some of the conservatives here in the state are ready to throw those bums that are already campaigning. They’re anticipating one of the lowest turnouts in the primary that we’re spending $10 million dollars for. And it’s a shame that we are wasting taxpayer’s money here in Michigan to hold a primary that no one is really excited about. When we could be doing what with that $10 million? I think I could find quite a few books to purchase for school kids. I could put some more officers on the street here in Detroit or in other places across the state. But yet we’re playing politics tomorrow, so.
[Rick Smith]: That’s a sad thing. Let me ask you the last question that I’ve got for you. You’ve got these little dictators, the four of them. What are some of the bizarre—just so people have an idea of what we’re talking about—what were some of the more bizarre decisions that they’ve made that benefit them but not people like you or working folks in the state of Michigan?
[Brandon Jessup]: Well, you know let’s start form the top and I can give you this one instance about Pontiac. Three days before the City of Pontiac held their general election this past November, the emergency manager, Lou Schimmel, fired the city clerk. Now this was three days before we had a huge election for the city of Pontiac and they replaced a conservative house member in their district. Also in Pontiac, we heard about the Pontiac Silver Dome where the Detroit Lions used to play, that’s a $55 million structure. That structure was sold for half a million dollars in 2009.
[Rick Smith]: I remember that.
[Brandon Jessup]: Also, you see, just recently right here in the City of Flint, after Governor Snyder placed his own dictator in the city of Flint, this dictator immediately locked-out all of the elected officials, the city councilman and the mayor from their offices for two weeks. While he did that he also dissolved the city’s community block rent department, he also dissolved the federal grant department. Why? Because he didn’t want to see the non-profit community, and also the small business community have access to the grants that are already here in the City of Flint. So, what we’re seeing is that, we see emergency managers cut public access, not just to the vote, but also to economic growth. And that’s exactly what we need to happen in our communities. Not cuts, we need revenue generation and that’s not happening from our emergency management.
[Rick Smith]: They’ve got one goal in mind and that’s slash and burn. Cut, gut, and punish. I guess that would lead me to believe that conservatives, as they do, do nothing but cause great harm and misery.
[Brandon Jessup]: Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know that their main creditor and their main point and purpose is to pay our creditor to pay big banks that continue gouge our community. It’s very tough to get out of a financial crisis when you know you housing values continue to fall. And our governor has not made a lick of any effort to restore our property values across this state. This City of Detroit still leads the state in foreclosures, as well as Wayne County. We’re not getting the relief that we need and that’s why we need to get some changes in November.
[Rick Smith]: I’m right there with you. They make sure we pay the 1%, don’t they?.
[Brandon Jessup]: Oh yeah, Absolutely. And let me remind you that our state’s earned income tax credit was cut and now our seniors pay a tax on their pensions. So, we are definitely bleeding from both ends here, but our fight to repeal this emergency manager law will force the government to review their budget and hopefully bring us some more tax relief that we need in the meantime and get democracy back in order very soon.
[Rick Smith]: I can’t wait. Tomorrow we will know, tomorrow is that what…
[Brandon Jessup]: Wednesday. Wednesday. We are marching our petitions up at 1:00 p.m. Definitely Michigan Forward and the Stand-Up for Democracy Committee. We appreciate all the national attention we’ve been getting—and international attention. So, we want to keep that up, keep raising the voice for democracy and if anybody wants any more information they can visit us at MichiganForward.org.
[Rick Smith]: And we will make sure we get a link at the ricksmithshow.com. Brandon Jessup, I appreciate the time. Thanks so much. I’d love to have you back at some point in the near future.
[Brandon Jessup]: Hey, I’ll see you soon. Thanks a lot Rick.
Kevin Mahoney is the Founder and Editor Zero of Raging Chicken Press. When he’s not rabble-rousing on Raging Chicken, he’s teaching rhetoric and writing at Kutztown University.
Tags: #OccupyOurFuture, #offthecouch, alternative press, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, Ben Speight, Brandon Jessup, elections, emergency manager, Georgia Senate Bill 469, Michigan, Michigan Forward, Occupy Atlanta, protest, protests, Public Act 4, raging chicken, raging chicken press, Rick Smith Show, social movement, Teamsters Local 728