Oct 24, 2008 Ruthnie Angrand Uncategorized
The Islamic Society of Central New York, Living Water Church of God in Christ and University United Methodist Church have a common interest on Oct 26; they will meet with public officials and candidates for office to discuss improvement initiatives within their communities.
“The goal of this meeting is to pull the public and politicians together,” Pastor Nebraski Carter of Living Water Church said.
The Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse will host this public meeting on Oct.26 at Most Holy Rosary, 100 Roberts Ave. Elected officials and candidates for the 25th congressional district are invited to assemble with ACTS’ 24 member organizations.
The Syracuse based coalition, ACTS, is an interfaith multi-racial alliance of communities which works to address political and social concerns of underrepresented communities. Oct. 26, ACTS hopes to draw at least 1,250 people to the meeting, Julio Urrotia Jr., an organizer said.
“We encompass a larger group this year,” Urrotia Jr. said. “We want a larger crowd because we want our candidates and officials to take notice.”
Nov. 18, ACTS assembled over 800 individuals at their first public interest meeting at Bethany Baptist Church.
“This meeting is to also discuss follow-up on what we’ve accomplished since our first public meeting a year ago,” Wayne Wright, an organizer from Living Water Church said.
Prior to the Nov. 18, 2007 meeting, ACTS met with member Service Employees International Union 1199 and member congregations to elect the dominating concerns of the public. This meeting yielded structuring four taskforces that would meet throughout the year with public officials and address necessary improvements.
“The people chose what issues were important to them. They listened to all the arguments and voted on what they felt needed to be addressed,” Andre Kwon, lead organizer said.
The task forces presented council-persons and politicians with proposals within the areas of: Economic Development & Jobs, Youth, Justice, and Health Care.
In attendance at the previous meeting were: County Executive Joanie Mahoney, Common Council President Bea Gonzalez, Rep. Kathleen Rapp-R and Rep. Jim Walsh-R.
Officials were asked if they would support programs to help the communities improve. Democratic Councilors-at-Large Bill Ryan and Van Robinson and state assembly members Joan Christensen-D and Al Stirpe-D were also present to hear of concerns by members in the community.
“The community is building the power to impact decisions that affect the entire everyone,” Rev. Kevin Agee, current president of ACTS said. “We’re asking officials to hold their accountability for the people they’ve been elected to serve.”
Officials like, County Executive Mahoney, were asked to assist the coalition in implanting community focused programs during last year’s public meeting and like the issue of providing proper identification for formerly incarcerated persons.
“You’ve got to be able to identify yourself,” Rev. Agee said. The ID’s provided to former inmates are not sufficient to obtain a driver’s license, a residence or file for employment he said.
“It’s not just about hearing them say they would support it,” Urrotia Jr. said. The alliance will also share the progress task forces have made since the previous year.
Organizers, task force leaders and congregation liaisons have met the Common Council, school superintendant and Mayor Driscoll aside supporting organizations to advocate and discuss programs.
The Jobs and Economic Development taskforce met with Mayor Driscoll Aug.4 to discuss a Community Benefits Agreement amidst the city’s school renovation project. The contract is intended for developers to agree to shape the renovation development to provide specified benefits to Syracuse residents.
ACTS Healthcare taskforce has also made the lack of enrollment in State Child Health Plus a premier issue. The organization cites that there are over 7,500 children in Syracuse without healthcare.
“This committee has developed specific recommendations and is requesting help from the Governor’s office in reducing obstacles for families enrolling in public health insurance,” cites a letter sent to Gov. Paterson requesting enrollment in Child Health Plus be simplified and publicized more.
Formerly a sister organization to ACTS, Moving in Congregations, Acting in Hope (M.I.C.A.H) has obtained the support of Sen. James Seward, R-Cortland in eliminating administrative barriers for State Child Health Plus paperwork. ACTS Healthcare taskforce seeks the same, also requesting that facilitated enrollers be able to use information from previous HEAP applications and establishing a fund for a localized media campaign.
“The bureaucratic enrollment paperwork for NY Child Health Plus challenges those of us with multiple graduate degrees,” Dr. Janet Hansen of M.I.C.A.H testified during a New York Department of Health hearing at Onondaga Community College. In Cortland, there were over 1,000 children without health insurance and parents didn’t always know how to sign up she said.
“We don’t want people to wait until these things happen to them before they care,” Wright said. “Someone close to us shouldn’t get hurt before we care about pushing tighter gun control laws. That’s like saying it should take someone to lose their job to be concerned about the economy.”
“We want people and other organizations to see what we are about,” Julio Urrotia Jr. said.
Urrotia, since June, has registered new citizens, canvassed 13,000 voters and has received 3585 pledges from individuals promising to come out and vote. New voters will see Democratic candidate Dan Maffei, Republican Dale Sweetland and Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins at the Oct.26 meeting nine days before the polls open for the 25th congressional, local and national elections.
The upcoming elections are important to the various minority communities within Syracuse. In regards to his own church, Pastor Carter of Living Water Church says “If we are voted down then it’s because we aren’t showing up.”