Marc Stier's blog

Be There For Health Care at Obama House Parties

The moveemtn for health Care reform is moving forward now. And it has to because defeating the insurance companies is going to take a massive effort. .

President-elect Obama has a mandate for reform having made the issue central to his campaign. Obama spent over $100 million in health care television advertising and, in October, 86 percent of his total ad budget was spent on advertisements that mentioned the issue.

And in case anyone was wondering whether the financial and economic crises are going to delay health care reform, the answer is “no.” As President-elect Obama said time and time again, reforming health care is critical to fixing our economy.

That’s why the Obama team and Health Care For America Now is moving forward to build our movement now.

Be There For Health Care Today at City Hall at noon

Today at noon in the caucus room at City Hall (room 401)

Health Care For America Now

and The City Council of Philadelphia

are holding a press conference to kick off our

Be There For Health Care Campaign

On November 6, City Council, at the behest of Majority Leader Marion Tasco, unanimously passed a resolution urging “President-elect Obama to visit Philadelphia, during the month of January 2009, to address the people of Philadelphia by informing citizens how we can help him realize the promise of affordable and accessible health care for all.”

The Be There For Health Care campaign is asking people of the Greater Philadelphia region to commit themselves to work with President-elect Obama for health care reform in 2009.

FDR, Obama, and the Path to Health Care Reform in 2009

I’ve been giving these remarks at talks around the state in the last few weeks, most recently at the Neighborhood Networks conference last week. My aim is to bring people up to date on the state of health care reform and inspire them to join our movement, In a day or so, Health Care For America Now is going to announce the next stage in our effort to build a powerful movement for reform. So this is a good moment to let you all know where things stand.

City Council Is Not Powerless to Save The Libraries

Members of City Council were quick to point out last Wednesday that Mayor Nutter has the power to cut the city budget without their approval.

That is true.

But what they didn’t point out is that Council can mandate that the city provide certain services. And that decision constrains the Mayor’s budget authority.

My first trip to the public library

Perhaps we can use this space to tell our stories about libraries and what they mean to us.

The public library in my hometown was, when I first visited at abot 6 six years old, in a little corner of the municipal building / fire house/ courthouse. (With a population of 5000, you can kind of put everything in one place.)

It had a distinctive smell, of course, of books. It's a small I love to this day.

The librarian gave us all a little talk about how the library works. When she said we could actually take books home, I looked around in wonder at all the books and felt a sense of ownership. I blurted out, "You mean any of them? We can take them home?"

So then I had to find one...and there were lots of choices. That was the day I learned the pleasure of browsing book shelves...something that I continue to do today although its harder with progressive lenses.

Mark Alan Hughes, The Decoupling Strategy, and The Nutter Administration

I have had really high hopes for Michael Nutter as Mayor since the primary in May 2007. But along with those hopes, I’ve had a nagging worry since October 2007.

That’s when Mark Alan Hughes, who once served as a policy advisor to the Nutter campaign and is now the sustainability director, published two deeply disturbing columns about his vision for the future of the city. You can read them here and here.

At the time he published those columns Hughes did not work for Michael Nutter. And I had heard Nutter speak enough during the campaign to feel confident that the then future Mayor did not share the ideas found in those columns.

But, in the last few weeks, I’ve started to worry that maybe what Hughes wrote reflects the policy of this administration. I’ll explain why in a moment. First I have to present Hughes’s vision for the city.

The Transformative Moments in Politics: Health Care and the Neighborhood Networks Town Hall

This is, many of us keep saying, the moment we have been waiting for, the transformative moment in our politics when dramatic change is possible, when we will finally guarantee quality affordable health care for all.

As we keep saying it, we hear the other voices tell us that, no, we have to wait, that the economic crisis we face is too severe, requires too much attention, and will be too costly.

But a close look at history, at our present crisis and our politics, should teach all of us, including President-elect Obama that the pessimistic voices are wrong. This is the moment for health care reform.

And that is one reason you should come to the Neighborhood Networks Town Hall meeting tomorrow. For whether we actually we take advantage of this moment for health care reform is, in large part, up to us.

Date: Monday, November 17, from 7-9 PM.

Place: First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut Street

Here is why I think a major commitment on the part of the citizens of this country to health care reform will finally get us there.

Save The Public Library Branches

Mayor Nutter recently announced that eleven branch libraries will be closed, not temporary but permanently, due to the budget crisis. Thirty six branch library staff members will be laid off as will 25 staff members of the central library.

The library is taking, as a percentage of its budget, a larger reduction (of about 20%) than any other city agency.

I believe this reduction is a serious mistake and am working with the Friends of the Free Library to build opposition to these cutbacks.

An on-line petition, opposing these cutbacks, is available here.

Please sign it and send an email to your friends asking them to sign it. (Anyone on my political list will receive an email from me that you can forward in the next day or so. If you want a copy of the email, contact me at marcstier at stier dot net

In the next day or so I’ll post a pdf of the petition that you can print out and circulate.

How To Save The City Part I: Evaluating Our Economic Prospects

Like most of you, I’m still trying to get my head around the city’s financial crisis and the budget reductions and policy changes announced by Mayor Nutter.

There is a lot I don’t quite understand and a lot I don’t know. I have far more questions than answers. And, as a result, I’m not convinced that the crisis is as grave and immediate as the Nutter administration claims or that it is taking the best path to dealing with that crisis.

So in this, and some subsequent posts which I’ll add as comments to this one, I’m going to talk about some of my concerns and doubts, not because I suspicious of either the competence or the good will of the administration but because that’s what democracy demands—a give and take between government and citizens that, one hopes, leads first to a better understanding our circumstances and options and second to better public policy.

…………………………………………………

The Election and the Future of Progressive Politics

Soon after the clock ticks 8:00 in California we will see a solid, and perhaps extraordinary, victory for Democrats from top to bottom, from the Presidency to Senate to the House and maybe even down to the State House in Pennsylvania.

Those of us who have worked long and hard and hoped for a revival of progressive politics in America will celebrate this victory tonight and for weeks to come.

But while this election victory is critical, what we do with our that victory will most determine what kind of future there is for progressive politics and our country.

So it is important to understand what this victory means and does not mean, and what opportunities and challenges it provides.

How You and The Obama Campaign Can Turn the PA House of Representatives Bluer

I’ve been following the Pennsylvania polling quite closely, but not primarily because I’m concerned about the Presidential election. If we all keep doing our jobs, Obama is going to win Pennsylvania.

What’s really intriguing me however is how well Obama is doing in the suburban counties around Philadelphia. According to the Quinnipiac poll released at the beginning of the week, Obama is up 57-39 in Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, and Bucks counties.

That is putting us into the realm in which Obama could have long coattail for candidates down ballot, including those running for State Representative.

The Burbs Are Turning Blue

Another Outrageous McCain robo-call--and what it shows about the campaign

I just this moment got a call from the McCain campaign. (I once signed up with the Bush campaign in 2000 so I can see what they were saying. I've been paying for that ever since.)

So the new word is that Obama's share the wealth tax plans "threaten your social security and medicare" beause Obama wants to use tax money meant for social security and medicare for other purposes.

My Cousin Got Married Last Week!

My first cousin Ira got married last week.

So why post it here?

Because his marriage would not be legal in Pennsylvania. And it may not be legal in California soon.

I don't generally cry at weddings. But I teared up at this picture.

I hope it won't be long before my cousin could get married in Pennsylvania.

In the meantime, if you want to help preserve marriage equality in California go to http://www.noonprop8.com

How We Won Health Care Reform In Pennsylvania

I was in the audience at a taping of a program on WHYY TV on health care reform tonight.

And now I know how we managed to get PA ABC, Governor Rendell’s program to insure another quarter of million people, through the Senate.

The representative from Aetna said that the company thinks everyone should be insured.

The representative from the Hospital Association said that everyone should be insured.

The representative from the Pennsylvania Medical Society said that everyone should be insured.

And it was the support of these wonderful representatives of the insurance and medical establishment that helped us overcome the ideological opposition of the Republican Senate leadership, got the bill that passed the House in March to the Senate floor, and got it passed with bipartisan support.

The Word On The Street: No Street Money

The word on the street is that there is going to be no money on the street from the Obama campaign.

No one knows for sure. But ward leaders are worried.

This would be an innovation in Pennsylvania politics…and in my view, a really dumb one.

Street money goes from City Committee to ward leaders who then use it to pay for Election expenses: letters to voters, gas for the cars used to drive voters to the polls, food for people working at the polls and, a small stipend to committee people, usually about $100.
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Everyone knows that committee people have less influence in a Presidential election than in any other election. Most voters know who they are going to vote for before they go to the polls.

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