Stadiumgate: Segarra & Wooden are Fugitives from Accountability

by David Samuels
This column appears in the June 2 – 9 edition of the Hartford News…
Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! Replays on the Tuesdays that we’re not on live and every Wednesday, same time. Next show: June 7. Co-host: Mary Sanders. Guests: Trebol Press editor Karl Rogers. Trebol Press published my nonfiction book on politics. Karl will discuss the mission of Trebol Press. Hartford activist Arthur Miller will talk about city issues.  http://sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/
Community Party Radio Podcasts
Josh Elliott, Candidate for State Representative
Check out CP’s No Sellout blog Election 2016 Candidate Tracker for a profile provided by Josh Elliott, a Bernie Sanders supporter who is running for a seat in the Connecticut General Assembly. Includes info on making a donation to his campaign. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/election-2016-candidate-tracker-josh-elliott/
Policy Watch:  Neoliberalism Versus Economic Justice
Last week WTIC-AM sports talk show host Andy Gresh made an excellent point about the Hartford stadium debacle: Former mayor Pedro Segarra and former city council president Shawn Wooden, who are both responsible for this deal, are laying low. I remember Wooden pounding his chest the night the council board approved the stadium deal. In just a few years Wooden has gone from mayoral candidate, to city council president, to candidate for state senator, to political has-been, and now along with Segarra, a fugitive from accountability. A critical point has been lost that I will continuously bring up. The original plan for the site of the stadium was to build a supermarket and healthy foods complex, which would have served North Hartford. The North End is plagued by food deserts. Segarra and Wooden negotiated with the New Britain Rock Cats in secrecy for months, before announcing the deal in a huge press conference. Now that the stadium project is officially a disaster, these two cowards are in hiding. Pathetic.
The neoliberal agenda led by Mayor Luke Bronin is in full effect: city workers are under attack, as the budget passed last week by the city council includes 40 layoffs and over $15 million in union concessions. Conservatives are beating the drum for the city to sell off public assets. Meanwhile in Jackson, Mississippi a revolutionary urban policy model is flourishing. Also the municipal bank concept would generate much needed revenue for cities like Hartford. This week we’ll share excerpts from two policy papers, The Jackson Plan:  A Struggle for Self-Determination, Participatory Democracy, and Economic Justice https://mxgm.org/the-jackson-plan-a-struggle-for-self-determination-participatory-democracy-and-economic-justice/ and Municipal Banking: an Overview  http://rooseveltinstitute.org/municipal-banking-overview/
Building a Local Solidarity Economy
The critical third pillar of the Jackson Plan is the long-term commitment to build a local Solidarity Economy that links with regional and national Solidarity Economy networks to advance the struggle for economic democracy.
Solidarity Economy as a concept describes a process of promoting cooperative economics that promote social solidarity, mutual aid, reciprocity, and generosity[6]. It also describes the horizontal and autonomously driven networking of a range of cooperative institutions that support and promote the aforementioned values ranging from worker cooperatives to informal affinity based neighborhood bartering networks.
Our conception of Solidarity Economy is inspired by the Mondragon Federation of Cooperative Enterprises based in the Basque region of Spain[7] but also draws from the best practices and experiences of the Solidarity Economy and other alternative economic initiatives already in motion in Latin America and the United States. We are working  to make these practices and experiences relevant in Jackson and to make greater links with existing cooperative institutions in the state and the region that help broaden their reach and impact on the local and regional economy. The Solidarity Economy practices and institutions that MXGM is working to build in Jackson include:
  • Building a network of cooperative and mutually reinforcing enterprises and institutions, specifically worker, consumer, and housing cooperatives, and community development credit unions as the foundation of our local Solidarity Economy
  • Building sustainable, Green (re)development and Green economy networks and enterprises, starting with a Green housing initiative
  • Building a network of local urban farms, regional agricultural cooperatives, and farmers markets. Drawing heavily from recent experiences in Detroit, we hope to achieve food sovereignty and combat obesity and chronic health issues in the state associated with limited access to healthy foods and unhealthy food environments
  • Developing local community and conservation land trusts as a primary means to begin the process of reconstructing the “Commons” in the city and region by decommodifying land and housing
  • Organizing to reconstruct and extend the Public Sector, particularly public finance of community development, to be pursued as a means of rebuilding the Public Sector to ensure there is adequate infrastructure to provide quality health care, accessible mass transportation, and decent, affordable public housing, etc.
In building along these lines we aim to transform the economy of Jackson and the region as a whole to generate the resources needed to advance this admittedly ambitious plan.

Municipal Banking: An Overview

By Karl Beitel | 04.12.16

Municipal banks will not, by themselves, solve the full spectrum of fiscal and economic challenges facing U.S. cities and their working-class residents. Nevertheless, they can be a critical step toward developing financial institutions premised on accountability to the needs of working-class and low-income constituencies. If combined with well-crafted local tax and land use policies, municipal banks offer a powerful tool for supporting investments in affordable housing, providing funds for land trusts and cooperative rental housing, and nurturing local business and worker cooperatives. Initially, these alternative measures will take shape as local and regional experiments exploring ways to redirect financial flows toward equitable and environmentally sound investments. Over time, these initiatives could form the blueprint for a more far-reaching reconstruction of our current system along a public-utility model of banking and finance. They can do so, moreover, in ways that reverses decades of devaluation of the public sector by reaffirming the positive, even transformative, role of government as an agent of social improvement.
Municipal banks allow cities to recapture local funds currently invested in money market instruments and retain tax revenues currently siphoned off by payments of principal and interest to municipal bond owners (consisting largely of very wealthy households), enabling the municipality to channel these funds back into local investments in affordable housing, infrastructure, and economic development. Through tapping the deposit base of local governments, taking in municipal cash reserves currently invested in the money markets, and creating a supportive set of financial arrangements with public pension funds, socially responsible investors, and mission-aligned philanthropic foundations, municipal banks would provide cities with access to large, often low-cost funding pools to support affordable housing and infrastructure investments. Municipal banks could similarly be a major source of support for community land trusts, cooperative ownership structures, and neighborhood stabilization efforts. Many cities have established programs and initiatives to support affordable housing and small business development. However, the scale of these initiatives is often limited due to lack of funding, and the use of bonds to finance capital improvements imposes a revenue drain on the local tax base. Municipal banks have additional funding resources that are simply not available to City governments or its component units, due to the ability to accept and lend out deposits. In addition, a bank can issue liabilities — certificates of deposit, bankers’ acceptances, and medium-term notes — to raise funds to support projects that fulfill the City’s priority social objectives. A municipal bank can provide access to these sources of finance, without creating any ongoing claims on municipal finances.  Municipal banks could also become powerful partners to existing community banks, credit unions, and community-development financial institutions, enabling them to extend their services to households that are currently underserved, or even exploited, by present U.S. financial arrangements. Moreover, they can do so in ways that enhance the accountability of municipal governments to local residents and provide a real-world model for reinvigorating the relationship between citizens and local government.
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948   Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com  
                                                                                                           
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