Tag Archives: Georgia

Accountability Some Fine Day – Make Your Own List

Greenville       Georgia is now a 45-45 tie between Trump and Biden.  Democrats are worried that students stuck at home won’t vote, the way they would in college.  My bet on that is that students stuck at home will use any excuse, including voting, to get out of the house.  Trump is screaming that the Attorney General needs to investigate Biden before the election, and Senator McConnell is passing notes to the White House saying don’t send me any stimulus bill before the election.  The last of Trump’s captive drug companies has pushed back its vaccine timeline, and the numbers are now saying it’s down to only 55% who are willing to take it now that it’s become a speedup.  Just another day in America!

Meanwhile, hoping for accountability some fine day in the future, maybe next year or sometime after that, two former legal eagles from different parties who served under Bush and Obama, are floating their own sort of post-Watergate reforms if sunshine breaks through the clouds.  Supposedly these guys have fifty different proposals but here’s some:

Among their ideas:

  • Provide more authority and protection for future special counsels investigating presidents or other high-level officials and have them report their findings to Congress and the public rather than to the Justice Department.
  • Prohibit presidents from pardoning themselves and amend the bribery statute to make it illegal to use the pardon power to bribe witnesses or obstruct justice.
  • Bar presidents from managing or supervising private businesses or establishing blind trusts for their financial assets and require any business in which they have an interest to file public reports.
  • Authorize inspectors general to investigate and report on reprisals or intimidation of journalists.
  • Revise the authorization of force passed after Sept. 11, 2001, to prohibit humanitarian military intervention without additional votes by Congress and limit the use of nuclear weapons to self-defense in extreme circumstances.
  • Ensure that the attorney general makes decisions on prosecutions involving the president or presidential campaigns, not the F.B.I. director, as happened during the Hillary Clinton email case.

A lot of that is inside-baseball and not everyone’s cup of tea, but my idea is simple as an antidote for pandemic-induced, economic and overall depression.  Win, lose, or draw, maybe it’s worth just thinking about the fact that “another world is possible” and making your own list of what needs to be done to lock the doors tightly against the horror we have been facing, so we don’t have to endure this nightmare again.

Hope is not a plan, but it’s something to hang on to now, so we can imagine a better future.

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Housing is Healthcare!

Pearl River     At ACORN we like the slogan, “Housing is Health Care.”  We saw it or picked it up somewhere.  I wish I could remember, so I could give proper credit, but in the meantime, we’re touting this in many countries where we work, because it speaks a clear truth to power and people.

In that vein, an article caught my eye because I recognized two of the lead authors, Elnora Raymond from Georgia Tech and Dan Immergluck from Georgia State.  Our paths had crossed before and both had been very helpful in refining our understanding of predatory contract land purchases during our work with the ACORN Home Savers’ Campaign.  They were joined by a host of others in arguing for an emergency housing response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Georgia, but despite their specific state-based advocacy, many of their highlighted recommendations, if not all of them, could equally make a huge difference in states across the country in absence of a national policy.

Of course, they join all of us in demanding a moratorium on all evictions and foreclosures during the crisis, and, importantly, for sixty days past that time.  They also note a clear issue that has cropped up in many places where, despite state orders, some counties and parishes are still processing evictions.  Similarly, they point out that non-judicial foreclosures also need to be halted, which has been overlooked thus far in many places.  Let’s keep it simple.  You can’t obey a stay-at-home order if you don’t have a home!

In making their case they argue for funds to be allocated to small landlords to enable a “no eviction” policy, but they also call for penalties for landlords who initiate informal evictions, and a doubling down with the full weight of the state on landlords who do so in homes with small children, elderly over 60, or other particularly vulnerable tenants.

Utilities are essential for a healthy home, so a no shutoff policy is critical.  Water, gas, and electric are on the list, but we would add internet and cable, in order to allow home schooling and make stay-at-home orders actually work, particularly for parents working from home or essential and still on the job.

The Georgia team calls for “operational support” for section 8 facilities, homeless shelters, group homes, and other semi-institutional operations that are providing housing for the most susceptible.  They recognize that many of these outfits, especially nonprofits, are likely overwhelmed in the pandemic.  The ability to have additional support like deep cleaning, quarantine rooms, and other extraordinary and often expensive provisions are important insights.

Looking at the likely housing crisis after the pandemic subsides, they caution against triggering another 2007-2008 housing crash.  They grab the low hanging fruit arguing that banks and other mortgage holders not add penalties and put the skipped payments on the backend of the loans in a modification, but they also call for actual reduction of payments and modifications to the new market values.  We remember our failure to win this in the Great Recession, but agreed it’s worth taking another bite at this policy in the Pandemic Depression.

We’re with them on many other recommendations.  We need to dig down on these issues now, because once this fight against the virus is over, there is an even bigger and longer fight likely to come to win housing security as a vital part of permanent healthcare protection in order to achieve justice and equity for low-and-moderate income families.

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