Congress’ Frightening Plan to Dismantle Our Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Piece by Piece.

You must read this post. It is based on EarthJustice’s thorough piece of investigative journalism chronicling how the current Congress is advancing 52 bills that individually and collectively unravel any recourse to justice we have left in our Nation. Much damage has been done, but what is planned is unimaginable. Read on.   

Before EarthJustice’s analysis, a brief description of an opportunity for Santa Fe to do something extraordinary.

Santa Fe University Art & Design: An Opportunity to Do the Right Thing

The City has a once in a generation opportunity to do something remarkable or to do something that only fosters more gentrification and displacement. The Santa Fe University Art & Design (SFUAD) is a city-owned, 64-acre campus off St. Michael’s Drive. The City could sell off all or some of the property to developers who would offer some piecemeal commitment to affordable housing. But the profit would be in also creating  condos, hip restaurants and all kinds of amenities that would draw tourists and satisfy the palettes of the privileged and comfortable while driving an increase in property values and fostering gentrification and the displacement of those living in surrounding neighborhoods who will find themselves priced out of their community.

Or the City could do something remarkable, donate the land to a community land trust and create a vibrant sustainable, mixed-use development with a wide range of affordable from very low-income and low-income rental housing  integrated with leveraged home ownership opportunities. The development could include space for new, resident owned small businesses responding to the priorities of residents. It could include open space, community gardens, bikeways, and space for community gatherings and conversation.

Last night at the Cocteau, Chainbreaker Collective staged a panel on Investment and Displacement and for those of us attending we heard how investment and development can be either community building or community debilitating. We heard how in Albuquerque an opportunity to SFUAD presented itself and the city created a the Sawmill Community Land Trust. We heard how that CLT has been thoughtfully designed to provide entry level very low income rental units, with renters then offered opportunities and incentives to build personal equity and eventually buy their own home within the development. The entire design of the Sawmill CLC has been to create a humane, sustainable environment in which individuals and families thrive. It could be a model for Santa Fe University of Art & Design. What a concept. To read more about the Sawmill CLT, click here.

So now Santa Fe is at a crossroads: Do we take this opportunity and run with it and create hundreds of affordable housing units or do we create another Disneyland for tourists. Santa Fe is a tourist destination for a reason: Canyon Road, the Plaza, Museum Hill, the Sangres, Meow Wolf and a bevy of posh restaurants. if tourists can’t find things to do in Santa Fe, they aren’t trying.  It is time to take care of our own. Our choice, our opportunity. The first phase of SFUAD planning is an online survey to obtain community input. Let’s make our priorities abundantly clear.  Click here to take the survey. Retake will keep you posted on future SFUAD planning and will also share research on other urban approaches to development without displacement and gentrification.

They Want It All and They Don’t Care Who They Hurt

Our court system is the primary vehicle through which people like you and I can hold corporations accountable for their actions. The courts also serve as an important check on the power of Congress and the executive branch. Aside from the pernicious impact of the scores of judicial appointments that Donald Trump has made since he entered the Oval Office, there is another threat to our Nation, our civli liberties:  the 115th Congress.  This Congress has introduced more than 50bills that would restrict people’s ability to use the courts to defend civil rights, civil liberties, consumer protections, public health and safety, and the environment. What is truly scary is that this appears to be a coordinated effort with Congress and the Trump administration seeking to strip people of their legal right to seek justice in a court of law. Without urgent action, these efforts will erect permanent obstacles that will keep people and communities from going to court to defend their rights, their lives, their livelihoods, and the places they love.

An extraordinary report from EarthJustice provides a summary of 52 bills that threaten our civil liberties. The list is searchable by kind of threat, the sector (health, environment, civil rights, etc.) and by sponsor and bill number. Each summary includes analysis of the status of the bill working its way through Congress and summarizes the specific threat to our civil liberties. This is extraordinary investigative journalism, laid out in incredible easy to follow format. I provide below 6 of the 52 bills summarized and I highly, highly recommend that you just click here and skip through this work. It lays out clearly the GOP agenda, the plan to eliminate our collective and individual rights and to protect the corporate sector from being held accountable for any and all malfeasance (I love that word). It also paints a clear picture of what capitalism and democracy have become partners in crime against humanity and planet.

Retake has long asserted that for now our work must focus on state and local issues where we have some leverage. But when you read this and see the kind of future is being developed in D.C., you have to cringe. Assuming we can retake the House in 2018, we may be able to stall much of this, but we will have much to do to restore any semblance of democracy and justice. The capitalist powers that be are developing an iron grip on our laws and our courts. Not a pretty picture, not pretty at all.  Read on but click here to see the full scope of this dismantling of our civil rights, civil liberties and any semblance of channels for seeking redress for injustice.

H.J.Res 111: SHIELDING CORPORATE WRONGDOERS FROM CONSUMER ACCOUNTABILITY. This law prevents individuals from joining together in class action lawsuits in federal courts against banks, predatory lenders and other bad actors.

H.R. 469: DELAYING PUBLIC HEALTH PROTECTIONS. Inhibits the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies from settling lawsuits, even when the government has acted unlawfully. This drags out legal action, raising costs for plaintiffs and allowing the administration to avoid enforcing environmental regulations

H.R. 732: PREVENTING POLLUTER RESTITUTION TO HARMED COMMUNITIES.  Prohibits settlement payments to organizations that help damaged communities recover. For example, this bill could prevent the Justice Department from requiring an oil company to fund necessary health services or help small businesses in the wake of an oil spill, such as the Deepwater Horizon or Exxon Valdez disasters.

H.Amdt..367 TO H.R. 3354: GUTTING COMMUNITY ENFORCEMENT OF BEDROCK ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS. Rider language tucked into this fiscal year 2018 Appropriations bill would prevent court settlements under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act from awarding attorney’s fees. Aims to deter people and organizations from bringing environmental lawsuits by making them cost prohibitive.

H.R. 1215: DENYING FULL JUSTICE TO VICTIMS OF NEGLIGENT AND CRIMINAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS.   Restricts people from seeking relief for harms suffered from medical malpractice, dangerous drugs or medical devices, and even intentional harms. This bill also caps jury awards for pain and suffering as well as punitive damages, which are meant as a deterrent to bad actors.

H.R. 10: BLOCKING AID TO REMEDY POLLUTER AND INDUSTRY WRONGS.  This would prevent settlement money from going to groups that work on fixing the problems caused by polluters and corporations that break the law.

If this doesn’t scare the crap out of you. Check your pulse.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne


Categories: Economic Justice, Community & Economic Development, Local-State Government & Legislation

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1 reply

  1. I KNOW this is off topic for today’s post, Paul, but…..having watched the young people of Florida all morning giving speeches to mostly “deaf ears” in Florida legislature about guns and slaughter, I am on a one woman mission to ask people to get tshirts made for the March 24 March in Washington DC and in our individual states. These are the choices based on words of the “youth” and my own passion for these young people’s message. This is one way to make our voices join theirs by having a UNIFORMITY OF MESSAGE by choosing one of these three slogans for a tshirt.
    (Roadrunner Screen Printers at 1235 Siler Rd or (505) 438-6625 did shirts for Women’s Marches)

    Tshirt #1 :


    Tshirt #2:

    VOTE 2018

    Tshirt # 3:

    YOUR TIME IS UP! (on front of the tshirt)
    VOTE 2018 ( on back of tshirt)

    I am not representing any organization. I just know a tshirt worn NOW and for the March 24 events creates interest and attention..perhaps Retake will consider this (in a post) as a suggestion to members! Thanks! Morgana

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