May 16, 2012 Walt Shepperd Uncategorized
Howie Hawkins walked into ArtRage last week looking a little disoriented. The evening’s event was billed as a Congressional Forum, but Howie wasn’t a candidate. “Trying to keep up,” he returned the How-you-doing inquiries. “I’m not running for office,” the perennial Green candidate reflected, “But it hasn’t made any difference.” Later he would observe, “Politics is a bottomless pit. It takes up all your time. There’s always one more phone call to make, always one more position to write, always one more public event to attend.” His focus at the time was organizing the party’s county convention, at which, he hoped, candidates would be found as running-mates for Ursula Rozum, who has the Greens’ Congressional nod, on the November ballot.
Rozum, on hand to present her positions on the unsustainability of the nuclear industry and the need to significantly reduce the stockpile of nuclear weapons, noted it would have been a much more interesting forum if incumbent Republican Ann Marie Buerkle, running with Conservative and Independence endorsements, and former Rep. Democrat Dan Maffei had participated. Staffers from Peace Action, sponsors of the gathering which attracted 20 politically progressive attendees, explained that Buerkle’s people said she would really like to be there, but that she would be in D.C., and Maffei’s scheduler had been unable to shift commitments, but had set up a separate meeting with them. Without the two major party candidates, the forum morphed into a workshop with Peace Action folks advocating new priorities in the Federal Budget.
Taking from only living breathing contributors
Questions were posed that Buerkle and Maffei would have faced, including whether campaign contributions should be accepted from Wall Street firms and corporations receiving Department of Defense contracts. Rozum said that while employees of those firms had the right to be individual donors, she would accept contributions “from only living, breathing people, not corporate people.” Since Buerkle is and Maffei was an incumbent, they would have been asked how they felt about military spending, and what they had done about it. The Peace Action folks maintained that taxpayers in the local 25th Congressional District (to become the 24th after Election Day) will pay $1.4 billion for the proposed Department of Defense budget for the 2012 fiscal year.
With over 50 percent of discretionary spending going to the military, PA staffers asked attendees to speculate what it could fund in the community. A handout listed a dozen new priorities, including: salaries for 16,797 elementary school teachers for one year, or for 18,935 police or sheriff’s patrol officers for a year, or 19,007 firefighters, or 237,476 one-year scholarships for university students. Other anti-nuke contentions presented argued that while the number of nuclear weapons is going down, spending on nuclear weapons goes up, that military spending has not proven to be a good job creator, and that the main rationale for nuclear submarines would be to retaliate for an attack from the Soviet Union, which no longer exists.