Environment

Sun May 21, 2017

After years of fighting for better regulation of waste management industry in Pomona, Inland Communities Organizing Network (ICON) celebrated a unanimous City Council decision to ban new trash processing stations.  The ban prohibits new businesses from moving into Pomona and prohibits any expansion of current establishments.  ICON leader Reverend Julie Roberts-Fronk of First Christian Church testified that “since 2011, our leaders have come to the city council, planning commission and city staff.  The overwhelming sentiment among residents was and continues to be ‘enough, no mas!  Fix this.”

The effort initially grew out of an ICON ”Don’t Trash Pomona” campaign, begun by member congregation First Presbyterian Church, in which leaders succeeded in negotiating a 33% reduction of trash processed at the plant and conversion of company trucks to CNG alternative fuel.

Said Lisa Engdahl of First Presbyterian, the ban “communicates to the region that it is not business as usual in Pomona; we have high hopes and expectations for our city…we will no longer be the region’s dumping ground.”

Pomona Moves to Ban New Business in This IndustryInland Valley Bulletin [pdf]

Pomona Council Takes Steps Leading to Moratorium on Recycling, Waste Processing BusinessesInland Valley Bulletin [pdf]


Mon Mar 20, 2017

When Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) first attempted to shift the cost of plant updates to consumers rather than to shareholders VOICE-OKC fought back, urging the utility commission to stop the plan and leveraging the Attorney General’s support for a lower charge. In 2016, OG&E proposed a rate increase of $92.5 million ($7 per month) to cover the expenses, but they again found themselves up against dogged VOICE leaders.

This year, Elise Robillard declared on behalf of VOICE-OKC, “It’s time to stop protecting profits for major corporations like OG&E and start protecting the families of Oklahoma, people who are going to have to choose between buying groceries and paying their electric bill.” Finally succumbing to organized campaigns of weekly calls to address the issue, the utility commission ruled, permitting OG&E an $8.9 Million rate increase (only 72 cents per month). Furthermore, the commission will claw back $50 Million in back charges to residential users, inappropriately charged by OG&E prior to the ruling.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission Decides on OG&E’s Proposed Rate IncreaseKFOR Channel 4

Background from 2015


Mon Mar 20, 2017

When Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) first attempted to shift the cost of plant updates to consumers rather than to shareholders VOICE-OKC fought back, urging the utility commission to stop the plan and leveraging the Attorney General’s support for a lower charge. In 2016, OG&E proposed a rate increase of $92.5 million ($7 per month) to cover the expenses, but they again found themselves up against dogged VOICE leaders.

This year, Elise Robillard declared on behalf of VOICE-OKC, “It’s time to stop protecting profits for major corporations like OG&E and start protecting the families of Oklahoma, people who are going to have to choose between buying groceries and paying their electric bill.” Finally succumbing to organized campaigns of weekly calls to address the issue, the utility commission ruled, permitting OG&E an $8.9 Million rate increase (only 72 cents per month). Furthermore, the commission will claw back $50 Million in back charges to residential users, inappropriately charged by OG&E prior to the ruling.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission Decides on OG&E’s Proposed Rate IncreaseKFOR Channel 4

Background from 2015


Wed Jun 25, 2014

The OTOC Environmental Sustainability Team formed early this year upon learning that the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) planned to continue burning coal in North Omaha and retreat from the use of renewable energy sources (including wind and solar). They presented 4 key demands to the OPPD Board leading them to revise their plans to end coal burning in North Omaha by 2016 and maintain a minimum use of 32% of renewable sources.

Pictured below is the team of OTOC leaders that pushed the Board to revise its energy plan.  Articles below quote OTOC leader Laurie Gift and OTOC ally Rev. Eric Elnes.

OPPD Plans to Retire all North Omaha Station’s Coal-Fired Units; Other Plants in Midlands Adapt to Clean Air Rules DifferentlyOmaha World Herald [pdf]

Omaha Public Power District Begins to Map Plan for Powering Next 20 YearsWorld-Herald[pdf]

Fact Sheet on OPPD’s Revised PlanOTOC


Tue Apr 10, 2012

Thanks to the organizing of religious leaders in Howard County, the Maryland General Assembly passed a stormwater bill requiring the state's 15 largest municipalities (including Howard County) to create stormwater runoff fees.  This is a huge environmental victory as well as a potential dedicated funding source for the youth conservation corps that PATH creating with the county!  PATH worked closely with a coalition of environmental groups and the County Executive to help pass this bill in Annapolis, and turned out dozens and dozens of people to hearings, a rally, and small group meetings with legislators.  

Thu Aug 11, 2011

Representatives of 40 religious groups from the Washington Interfaith Network met with energy officials to secure a collective buying deal featuring lower utility rates and green energy. (Photo Credit: New York Times)


Tue Apr 5, 2011

The Interfaith Community Organization (now the Jersey City chapter of New Jersey Together) launched its campaign to rid Jersey City of toxic chromium wastes more than 20 years ago.  In the spring of 2011, it won another large-scale cleanup -- much like the landmark legal victory which forced Honeywell to carry out a $400 million cleanup.  PPG Industries will remove 600,000 tons of cancer-causing industrial wastes that it left behind  in a densely populated neighborhood when it closed its local manufacturing operation a half century ago.  PPG settled a lawsuit brought by ICO and our environmental ally, the Natural Resources Defense Council.


Financial Reform

Wed May 10, 2017

After HB1913 passed, threatening to triple the cap on small personal loans and boost the maximum interest rate to 204% per year, VOICE leaders and allies persisted in their fight against the bill.

Leaders publicly called on Governor Mary Fallin to veto the bill, on television and in writing arguing, as did Fr. Tim Luschen, that the bill is “not anything that can make our community a better place.”

In her veto message, Governor Fallin urged legislators to consult with “all stakeholders,” including consumer advocates, if they choose to revisit the issue.

Oklahoma Governor Fallin Vetoes Payday Loan BillThe Oklahoman

Churches, Charities Asking Gov. Mary Fallin to Veto Payday Loan BillKOCO TV

Oklahoma Priest: Legislature Should Reject High Interest Loan BillThe Oklahoman [pdf]


Mon Mar 16, 2015

For the second time in one year, IAF organizations (EPISO and Border Interfaith) dealt a harsh blow to the bottom line of payday lenders in El Paso, Texas.

During last year’s fight to restrict how much payday lenders can legally make off the backs of lower-income families, opponents from the lending industry couched their financial predation under the guise of “providing a valuable service” to residents.  After winning a significant victory in 2014 limiting payday lending profits, leaders wanted more.

In financial literacy civic academies held in the poorest neighborhoods of El Paso, families revealed that when a tire blew, or a child got sick, they needed fast cash.  They had the capacity to repay small loans, but were shut out of traditional consumer credit markets due to lack of income or credit…(more here)


Thu Aug 11, 2011

Southweast Wisconsin Common Ground successfully negotiated over $4 million in housing re-investment from financial institutions whose foreclosures had devastated the Sherman Park neighborhood of Milwaukee.  


Thu Aug 11, 2011

Pastor Soliney Vedrine and Winique Green look on as testimony is given about the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization's Moving from Debt to Asset's program.  This groundbreaking financial empowerment program has graduated more than 700 graduates and provided each of them with $500 scholarships to begin a financial savings plan.


Health Care

Wed Jun 28, 2017

At the urging of COPA leadership, the Board of Supervisors of Monterey County unanimously voted to quadruple the size of COPA’s healthcare pilot project from $500 thousand to $2 Million on an annual basis.

The expanded program will provide at least 2,500 low-income undocumented residents, including farm workers and their families, with full-scope primary and preventative care, labs, radiology, medication and specialty services.  A third-party administrator will be hired to issue enrollment cards, administer payments and track data.

Said Catholic Bishop Richard Garcia, “This has been a success because of the strong belief and labor of so many of our COPA members and our many great leaders representing our various communities!”

The real story is the persistent leadership demonstrated by leaders who are also future beneficiaries — immigrants concerned about their families and neighbors. These leaders organized hundreds of meetings in parishes and neighborhoods, participated in strategy meetings and publicly shared their story at Board meetings. Said leader Tony Jara of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, “This program will allow me to [see a specialist], so I can work and care for my family without experiencing …constant pain.  It gives me great joy to work towards something that will help others in a similar situation.”

[In photo, Veronica Torres of St. Mary Catholic Church will finally be able to see a urologist under the expanded pilot project.]

Background stories detail how COPA:

2016 – Won Support for Undocumented Healthcare

2015 – Leveraged $500,000 for Pilot Health Project

2015 – Defended Healthcare for Unauthorized Kids

2014 – Busted Up Barriers to Healthcare Access

2013 – Resurrected Low Income Health Plan


Tue Sep 23, 2014

The morning after an assembly in which hundreds of San Fernando Valley leaders of One LA leveraged commitments from District 3 candidates to ensure sufficient funding for the ‘My Health LA’ program, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to invest $6 Million inadditional dollars for the program.

One LA estimates that the added funding will expand coverage by 35 to 40 thousand individuals.  This victory comes months after the organization identified millions of County dollarsthat could be used to cover more uninsured people, including undocumented County residents.

One LA leaders and allies were on hand for the vote.

LA County Supervisor Rivals Sheila Kuehl Bobby Shriver Debate TonightLA Times

LA County’s Top Health Official Shows Compassionate SideLA Daily News

One LA Urges Supervisors to Cover the UninsuredAngelus – The Tidings Online

Additional background informationWXSWIAF

Click here for original post

 


Tue May 6, 2014

Testifying before the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, COPA leader Elsa Quezada called for a County strategy to educate undocumented and uninsured Monterey residents about newly available healthcare services.  ”They are our neighbors, our friends, they go to church with us, they join us at the park, the rodeo…their children go to school with our children,” she argued.

At COPA’s urging, the Board approved the creation of a strategic plan and simplified “access point document” to better spread the word about healthcare access to the uninsured; both are to be produced within 90 days.

Study: Undocumented Rarely Visit DoctorsThe Californian

Buscan Servicios de SaludUnivision Monterey-Salinas Channel 67


Sat Feb 1, 2014

Since last year’s victory in busting through political blockage to resurrect the Low Income Health Plan, Viacare, over 3,000 Monterey County residents have enrolled, doubling last year’s projections.  In addition to this, and in partnership with the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, COPA institutions reached over 2500 people through civic academies about the Affordable Care Act.  [Photo Credit: Nic Coury, Monterey County Weekly]

County Extends Health Insurance Bridge Program, Obamacare Enrollment Kicks InMonterey County Weekly

COPA leaders celebrate doubling of healthcare insurance enrollment numbers.
COPA leaders celebrate doubling of healthcare insurance enrollment numbers.

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