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MLK, Faith and Fearlessness

"Too many of us are afraid of our light. I have heard countless times in my ministry that some people -- no matter their race -- feel unworthy of God, think they can't be used by God. Let us not be afraid of the liberating love-power at work within us. We are afraid to speak up, to stand in, to voice our disgust and disappointment at the ways systemic racism continues to grip our nation in its ferocious teeth. We are waiting on someone else to do it, waiting for some hero to arise and lead us to freedom. And while we wait, the myth of "post racial" plays in our country because we elected an African-American president. While we wait, we build higher fences on our borders to the south, where the darker brothers and sisters live, our xenophobia and racism seething under the guise of immigration control.

"It's important that we address the ways race matters in our communities, and why not start in our churches? We need faithful, courageous leaders who are unafraid of their light, unafraid to turn God's liberating love loose in a world that desperately needs it."

The Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis looks at faith and fearlessness in the life and ministry of Martin Luther King, Jr. and its continuing relevence today. You can read the full text of her reflection at Huffington Post.

It Is Good for the Soul

"Then all of a sudden the view in my eyes expanded and I took a look around me. That was the point for me when I realized I had recovered. I was no longer homeless. I had regained my strength back to being physically independent and I saw an overflow. Recovery is simply getting better, and that day in my living room I saw things had gotten better for me physically, spiritually and mentally."

Interfaith Assembly Speaker Bureau member, Darryl Jerome Seals, reflects on his life and experience of homelessness. Read the full text of Darryl's reflection at Cura: A literary magazine of art and action.

Federal Panel Keeps Redistricting Suit In Place

... from NY Daily News:

A three-federal judge panel rejected state lawmakers’ effort to dismiss a redistricting lawsuit this afternoon.
The federal judge panel assigned the case to U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann to manage it for the three judges. A conference is expected to be held tomorrow for the sides in the case to discuss any “special directives or suggestions” the court should give Mann “to assist her in preparing a redistricting plan, deadlines, and the appointment of experts.”
A source close to the situation said Mann, at least right now, is not the special master who will draw the legislative boundaries for the court should it come to that. But it is a sign,  though, that is exactly where all this is headed, the source said.
The big questions will be whether the state Legislature can pass a state and congressional redistricting plan and whether Gov. Cuomo will sign it or follow through on his vows to veto anything not drawn by an independent body.
If a deal is reached and Cuomo signs the plan, chances are better that the federal court will accept it. If he vetoes, it’s anyone’s guess who the court will draw the lines.

City Loses First Round in Legal Dispute Over Stricter Shelter Rules

from WNYC...

A court ruled Tuesday that they city cannot move forward with its requirement for homeless single adults to prove they have no other place to go before being found eligible for shelter.

According to the decision by State Supreme Court Judge Judith Gische, the city failed to follow proper administrative procedures before implementing the rule, which was to go into effect last November.

The rule was immediately challenged by Legal Aid and the City Council on the grounds that it violated a longstanding consent decree as well as city administrative procedures that require new rules to be vetted by the city council as well as the public prior to implementation. The judge agreed on the latter point. The consent decree issue is still pending.

The city sought the stricter eligibility requirements because, it argued, more single adults are coming from having lived with family or friends and the city believes they could potentially return to them rather than stay in a shelter.

The stricter eligablity requirement would also allow the city to find deny shelter to individuals with substance abuse problems if a room could be found at a treatment program instead.

The city has estimated that if the rule is implemented, about 10 percent of applicants would be found ineligible for shelter — a projected savings of $4 million a year. 

The city has said it would appeal the judges ruling. At a press conference Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city would do everything it can to move forward with the policy, “or let the judges explain to the public why they think that you should just have a right to walk in and say, whether I need services or not, you give it to me.”

Testimony Regarding New York Gerrymandering

Tenants Political Action Committee

277 Broadway, Suite 608

New York, New York 10007



New York State Legislative Task Force

On Demographic Research and Reapportionment

 February 2, 2012

 Testimony of Michael McKee, Treasurer

When I testified before this Task Force last September, I expressed a good deal of skepticism about what you were already planning behind closed doors.

Now it turns out that I was not skeptical enough. The legislative lines recently released by this Task Force leave observers grasping for adequate adjectives and nouns to describe your process, and your product. Chutzpah? Gall? Maddening? Insane? Blatant? All deficient to express the appropriate outrage.

I guess “Up to your old tricks” is also inadequate, as the proposed district lines are even more outrageous this time than in the last several decades.

While my testimony will focus on the State Senate lines, the Assembly majority must share the blame. It was not surprising that Assembly Member McEneny was recently quoted as acknowledging the reality of this bipartisan gerrymandering exercise: “As a practical matter, they [the Senate majority] draw their lines, we draw our lines.” (City & State, January 6, 2012, “Quietly, Senate GOP Releases Plan For 63rd Seat.”) Not surprising, but appalling.


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