Peace Action forum seeks new priorities

City Scuffle

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.

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