OCT. 11, 2011
Fund Our Communities: Bring the War Dollars Home
Amy Fusting, 443-413-0276, email@example.com
Jean Athey, 301-570-0923, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos and updates downloadable at:
Groups Rally to Save the Democratic Process in Maryland
Cry Foul After Montgomery Council Bows to Corporate Pressure
Rockville, MD– The Montgomery County Council last week removed from its agenda and from its Web site a nonbinding resolution that had been introduced on Oct. 4 asking Congress to reallocate spending, away from wars and the Pentagon and towards local services and community needs. The Council had been scheduled to consider the resolution Oct. 11. [Read the introduced resolution here: http://ourfunds.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/2011-10-04-county-council-reprioritization-introduced.pdf ]
A rally in support of the resolution and in opposition to the Council’s refusal to consider it occurred on the sidewalk in front of the County Council building as the Council began its scheduled meeting on Tueday. Speakers underscored the need for more democracy and encouraged the Council to vote on the resolution rather than allowing it to be killed by pressure exerted from Lockheed Martin, a major beneficiary of war funding.
Fund Our Communities, Bring the War Dollars Home, a Maryland coalition of over 50 community groups representing tens of thousands of Maryland residents, coordinated with Council members over the last several months to develop the resolution. The resolution that was introduced notes that current U.S. military spending is greater than at any time since World War II and that it has doubled, in constant dollars, since 1998. Meanwhile, huge cuts have been made at the federal, state, and local levels to domestic spending, including appropriations for Maryland and Montgomery County.
While military contractors typically decry potential cuts in military spending as leading to job losses, rally organizers pointed to a recent study showing that considerably more local jobs are created when the federal government spends in sectors other than the military. [See: http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/published_study/spending_priorities_PERI.pdf ]
Thus, a reallocation of federal funds would reduce unemployment and help state and local governments fund critical infrastructure and services, preventing cuts to schools, libraries, parks and other needed services. Such a reallocation would also allow more spending for green energy development, preventon of child poverty, health care and other key local needs.
Rally speakers stated their intense diasppointment with the ability of powerful corporations, such as Lockheed Martin, to effectively pressure the Council. They also expressed frustration with the lack of vision displayed by County Executive Ike Leggett, who reportedly called the nonbinding resolution “a dagger pointed directly at the heart of Montgomery County.” [See: http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/2011/10/montco-lawmakers-kill-peace-bill ]
Coalition member Alex Welsch asked, “Aren’t County leaders capable of imagining a role for Lockheed Martin’s very talented staff in a more sustainable peace economy? The county’s economy will do well if federal policy shifts to support different types of projects. A more flexible and re-oriented Lockheed Martin could cash in on well-documented peace dividends.”
Speakers demanded that the Council vote on the resolution, not just consign it to oblivion.
In written remarks that were read to rally participants, State Senator Jamie Raskin stated, “At a time when tens of thousands of children in our County are living in poverty, when federal workers living here have had their pay frozen for three years, when public employees and their pensions are under attack, and when the safety net for people in need has become a tight rope, most people in our County will benefit from a shift in national budget priorities, away from war and what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex and towards investment in housing, transportation, infrastructure and basic human needs. This conversion is a national imperative that will yield enormous benefits for our people even as we continue to defend our real national security. No one–from the unemployed young person to the largest corporation–should be afraid of this challenge.”
“Can people in our County not be heard if corporations don’t like what we have to say?” asked Jean Athey, chair of the coalition steering committee. “On Oct. 4, a majority of Council members expressed support for this resolution. Then, we heard that Lockheed Martin didn’t like the resolution. I guess Lockheed Martin is afraid of losing their very lucrative contracts, many of which are producing weapons systems that we don’t need and that don’t make us safer. People all over the country are expressing their anger about undue corporate influence on the democratic process. This appears to be one more outrageous example.”
Bob Cooke, of Pax Christi, a Catholic organization, stated, “We need a sustainable economy, one that does not consign children to poverty and that provides jobs that give value to our community. Such an economy requires a reprioritization of federal spending. We want our Council to work towards an economy that works for all, not just the wealthy and the corporations. We stand by our call to bring the war dollars home.”
Speakers at the rally included Bob Stewart, Executive Director UFCW 1994 MCGEO; Elbridge James, President of the Board, Progressive Maryland; Patrick McCann, veteran and teacher; Mike Hersh, director of Progressive Democrats of America, Montgomery County; and Andy Shallal, small business owner.
The rally was organized by the Maryland coalition, Fund Our Communities, Bring the War Dollars Home.
Coalition Members: Baltimore Nonviolence Center; Bethesda Friends Meeting; CASA de Maryland; Center for Peace, Frederick County; Chesapeake Citizens; Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility; Citizen-Soldier Alliance, Baltimore; Columbia United Christian Church, Peace & Justice Committee; Democracy for America, Montgomery County; Fellowship of Reconciliation; Friends Meeting, Annapolis; Generations for Peace & Democracy; Gray Panthers, Metro DC; Green Party, Anne Arundel County; Green Party, MD; Green Party, Montgomery Co.; Healthcare-Now of MD; Homewood Friends Meeting; Little Friends for Peace; MD Black Family Alliance; MD United for Peace & Justice; Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition; Montgomery County Progressive Alliance; Muslim American Society/MD; NAACP/MD; Network of Spiritual Progressives, MD; Orthodox Peace Fellowship; Pax Christi/MD; Peace Action, Anne Arundel County; Peace Action Montgomery; Peace & Justice Coalition, Prince Georges County; Pledge of Resistance, Baltimore; Progressive Democrats of America, MD; Progressive Cheverly; Progressive Maryland; Progressive Neighbors; Prosperity Agenda; River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation/Social Justice Council; Peace Committee, Sandy Spring Friends Meeting; Sheet Metal Workers International, Local 100; Southern Christian Leadership Council, Montgomery County; UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO; Veterans for Peace, Baltimore; Veterans for Peace, Metro DC; Voters for Peace; WeGreen USA; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom/DC.