Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Arcata Passes Municipal Response To Federal Lawlessness

Updated 5/15/05: The full text of the resolution is HERE.

This post was written on 5/7/05 and back dated when posted 5/8/05.

On Wednesday night, Arcata's City Council passed the Municipal Response To Federal Lawlessness (MRTFL) resolution, quite possibly the most progressive measure in the country this year to date. I haven't yet found an online version though I have a hard copy for reference. What passed is quite different from the original version (scroll down) that spawned the town hall forum in Arcata back in March. I like that the official version says:
Whereas, issues of local and global importance are intimately linked, and the City Council is our most locally accessible government body and the most direct political connection between individuals and the federal government.
This is essential to embracing the big picture strategy of the Voter Confidence Resolution.

MRTFL commits Arcata's City Council "to do anything within its power" to influence the Federal Government to leave Iraq; it commits Arcata to supporting all troops, including those "residents who have returned from serving in Iraq and those who have refused to serve for moral or legal reasons"; it promises the community "regular Town Hall Meetings"; it contemplates the possibility of a ballot measure for voters to decide on declaring Arcata a sanctuary for those who refuse to participate in war; and it expands the name and mandate of the Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Commission, tagging "and Peace Commission" on the end of the name plus providing a budget of $1000 and at least three direct responsibilities aimed at educating the community about alternatives to war and military service.

Public discussion extended over more than two hours. I noted 28 speakers in favor of passing, seven opposed and three who didn't clearly pick a side. It seemed like healthy community involvement without any rudeness or interruption.

For my part, I was glad to roll out the police communications system analogy once again. This was a strong way to show that official civil disobedience is sometimes something even opponents of MRTFL would favor, even though their current position might seem to suggest they universally oppose the Council taking such positions on national issues. I also talked about the impossibility of accepting "the threat of civil war breaking out" as an excuse not to withdraw troops. After all, the stated mission of U.S. troops is to train Iraqi police and military to fight so-called insurgents. So which is it, do we want Iraqis fighting Iraqis or are we stuck there to prevent it? I also mentioned Rebecca Solnit's "Hope In The Dark" once again, citing its definition of revolution (a shift in the balance of power between the people and government) and the need for us to make the phrase "peaceful revolution" socially acceptable. I have been pleasantly surprised at how many people, both later in the Council meeting and all the next day, have commended me for these remarks.

Also Wednesday, the North Coast Journal published a brief paragraph about Eureka's town hall forum on preferential voting. It included a great quote from the Voter Confidence Committee's Scott Menzies: "I really don't think it's a matter of if anymore. I think it's a matter of when." Way to go Scott - perfect framing!

And I heard from Lara at OVC that she wanted to do an event in Humboldt, perhaps showing the film Votergate or another, soon to be released movie, Electile Dysfunction. I referred her to the Redwood Peace and Justice Center and the Minor Theatre. I also put Ellen and Lara in touch and Lara wound up appearing on Ellen's monthly radio show.



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