Cheri Honkala, Green candidate for Philly Sheriff: ‘We have to get very serious about building some kind of independent political motion in this country’

The Green Party’s national convention was this past weekend and my absolute favorite candidate in the country this year – the election is November 2011 – gave an inspiring speech there, introduced by David Cobb.  The quote in the title is from that speech, as are those below.  The full video is posted below, as well.

“We will together send a message across this country that it was the Green Party that stopped foreclosures in America!”

“This coming year we have over a million families who are going to lose their homes.  We have an opportunity in Philadelphia, a historical place, to make history.  We have an opportunity to grow the Green Party like never before, to speak to those million people who are going to lose their homes, and to say, by voting for Cheri Honkala, on the Green Party ticket, foreclosures stop.  They stop NOW!”

“Many years ago as I sat in an abandoned property that I had to take over with my little boy at the time, because the shelters were full in Minneapolis–and so I decided that I would go and take over an abandoned house in order to keep me and my son from freezing to death…because I decided that it wasn’t up for negotiations whether me and my son were going to freeze to death.  Well it’s not up for negotiations for any of the men, women, and children who are going to have their homes stole[n] from them this next coming year.  The foreclosure crisis, this next year, with a million people going to lose their homes, is a preventable Katrina – it’s up to us to stop it, and stop it now.  Help me in my election, spread the word, vote for Cheri Honkala on the Green Party ticket, and let’s take back America!”

THIS is the economic populism – the genuine populism, not the faux corporate stuff so common these days – we’ve been waiting for.  It’s the real deal, it’s real independent politics, and I am so genuinely proud to be working on this campaign.  I hope those of you reading will join me.

Cheri Honkala at the 2011 NY Green Fest from Jason Bosch on Vimeo.

Cheri Honkala’s Green campaign for Sheriff of Philadelphia

[Originally posted at IndependentPoliticalReport.com, hence the somewhat dry tone about a campaign I actually have been slightly involved in.  The Green Party of Philadelphia will also be nominating candidates for other offices this Thursday, and we’ve been keeping busy with fracking protests, a May Day event, a monthly dinner, among other things.]

The Green Party of Philadelphia’s candidate for Sheriff, long-time activist Cheri Honkala, recently opened an official campaign office.  Other news from the campaign is also below, including a protest against the current Sheriff of Philadelphia resuming sheriff’s sales.

From the Daily Record, on the subject of her campaign’s office:

In celebration of the office opening, the campaign has released the first in a series of tracks contributed by artists from all over the country inspired by Cheri Honkala’s bid for Sheriff of Philadelphia and her promise of “Keeping Families In Their Homes” by halting all evictions based in foreclosure. The song entitled “My Name is Cheri Honkala” can be found at the campaign’s BandCamp page, www.cheri4sheriff.bandcamp.com, and can be downloaded for a $1 donation.

A slideshow to accompany the song featuring photographs from famous documentary photographer Harvey Finkle can be found at the campaign’s YouTube channel located at YouTube.com/Cheri4Sheriff,, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbbFJdZSQc8.

Supporters of the campaign can receive a print of one of the celebrated photog’s images that have documented Philadelphia’s activist community for decades with a $50 donation. Harvey Finkle was honored by the Bread and Roses Community Fund in 2009 and is actively documenting the Cheri Honkala for Philadelphia Sheriff Campaign.

From Philadelphia Weekly, regarding the sheriff’s sale protests:

Around 4:30 Monday afternoon, anti-poverty activist and Sheriff candidate Cheri Honkala stands outside Acting Sheriff Barbara Deeley’s Center City office. The veteran protester is joined by her son, Guillermo Santos, and a handful of supporters. She tells members of the press, some onlookers and passers-by that some day, she hopes we’ll all “live in a country that will make it against the law to throw families out on the streets, where people will stand up and say something.” She points at the office and tells the crowd that although 2,000 homes will be sold in sheriff’s sale the next day, “they haven’t even dealt with the corruption yet, in this office,” referring to $53 million the Sheriff’s Office hasn’t been able to account for.

Honkala has also been challenging the position of one of the several Democratic candidates running in a May 15 primary.  The candidate is generally seen as a reformer, and he would like to eliminate the office of sheriff entirely.  However,

Some critics of elimination, such as candidate Cheri Honkala say many sheriff responsibilities will be shifted to the courts if the office is eliminated, making it worse for those hardest hit by the mortgage crisis.

Finally, in a show of support from her hometown, a fundraiser is being held on April 29th in Minneapolis to benefit Honkala’s campaign:

Minneapolis – Artists Support Cheri Honkala for the “People’s Sheriff
Evictions and Sheriff’s-sale auctions of foreclosed properties are core issues for Cheri Honkala, this year’s Green Party candidate for Sheriff of Philadelphia. Originally from the Twin Cities, the two years that Cheri spent in Minneapolis between 2007 and 2009 strengthened her already firm resolve to struggle for the rights of homeowners during the onset of the foreclosure crisis.

The April 29th benefit at The Blue Nile in Minneapolis is one of many being held to support the Green Party candidate for Philadelphia Sheriff across the nation. Honkala is calling for people all over the country to run for Sheriff and put an end to evictions based in foreclosure in their communities. The candidate has received an outpouring of support from artists across the U.S., including the donation and dedication of original music to the campaign from artists Sir Ben Marx (NC), Shamako Noble (CA), Mic Crenshaw (OR) and many others. The election for Philadelphia Sheriff takes place in November, 2011.

Labor’s obligation and opportunity: Philly organizer challenges unions to rally around Greens

In an open letter to the leaders of the Philadelphia labor movement, the young and energetic organizer for UFCW Local 152 Hugh Giordano has challenged the city’s unions to have the courage to support the Green Party.  Giordano ran an exceptionally strong campaign as a Green for state legislature this year, which I wrote about for Polizeros here, in which he raised almost $30,000 and got over 18 percent of the vote in a three way race, getting support from Republicans, Democrats, independents, and even some Tea Partiers along the way. Â Now he’s working (with many other people) to spread the message of honest government, workers’ rights, and a clean environment, among other things, to the rest of Philadelphia.

As the members of the party, which I am aiding in every way I can, build the organization to run candidates in 2011 local elections, Giordano has seized the opportunity make the area’s union leadership reconsider the popular path of supporting corporate Democrats.  In his words, “Why are we, the strong men and women of the labor movement, bowing down to the corporate bosses and politicians…Union brothers and sisters, when any one of us becomes ‘fearful’ or ‘controlled’ by a political party – it’s time to step down and pass the torch on.”

The full letter is printed, with Hugh Giordano’s permission, below.

What We, As Labor Leaders, Must Do!

Dear Union Brothers and Sisters,

This letter is more of a “cry for action” rather than just an informational or ideological statement or platform. It is meant to be serious and intense, and I hope you take this letter in that form! This letter is being sent to as many union brothers and sisters as possible.

I have been involved in the labor movement now for about ten years, from non-union worker/union activist, to member, and officially becoming a union representative for UFCW Local 152. I have been a part of every aspect of the union movement, and now I must take the next step – Labor leader.

What do I mean by leader? Being a leader does not mean having the title of Business Manager or President of a local. It means standing up and saying what needs to be said against the status quo. There were numerous forms of this leadership before me, and their will be numerous ones after me – but I am worried about what is happening in today’s present labor environment.

Many of you might have heard about me in my run for State Representative as an Independent with the Green Party, and I am proud of that decision. I ended up getting the highest vote of any third party in Philadelphia and I am pretty sure I received the highest in a three way race. This is what needs to be done! I did this using basic union organizing skills and having a handful of unions behind me. Imagine what would have happened if I had all of the Philadelphia unions behind me?

Why do we support the Democrats and Republicans when all they do is take our money, use our man power, and then leave us out to dry? Why do we support CEO’s, corporate consultants, and corporate attorneys, when 365 days of the year when they are not running for office, they are fighting unions, breaking labor laws, and spreading their greed? But all of a sudden when they run for office as a ‘Democrat”, they have changed their ways? This just proves that the Democrats are as corporate as the Republicans.

Continue reading “Labor’s obligation and opportunity: Philly organizer challenges unions to rally around Greens”

Three Green candidates that could seriously shake the boat in their states

Just a note before I begin.  These are just the candidates that I know of from my work in the Green Party and what I can glean online.  There are plenty of other strong Green candidates for state offices all over the country.  Not to mention, there are tons of strong local Green candidates.  You can find Green candidates near you at NewMenu.org.

With these three candidates representing just one part of a group of strong state legislative candidates the Green Party has running across the country this year, the party has a chance to make history.  Since its founding, the party has had four state legislators in office, with one of them being the result of a party switch.  There’s now a good chance that they could elect that many state legislators in a single election.

1.  Ben Manski. Manski is an environmental and democracy advocate running one of the strongest Green campaigns in the nation.  He’s widely regarded as a fierce competitor against the Democrat in the race, while Constitution and Republican candidates are also running.  He is running for the Wisconsin Assembly in the 77th District, which is in Madison.  Manski has racked up an impressive list of endorsements, ranging from local firefighters’ and teachers’ unions to over a dozen current elected officials to statewide figures in the Wisconsin Democratic Party.  With a platform that includes support for ending the war on drugs, the creation of a state bank, and only sending the National Guard into combat when a war is authorized by Congress, Manski is impressive not only because of the likelihood of his election, but because of his bold politics.

2.  Hugh Giordano. Before the election, I’ll be putting up another post about Giordano, because I’ve been volunteering for his campaign for several months, so I’ll keep it short for now.  Hugh is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, and when he’s out knocking on doors he’s a union organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers.  He has garnered endorsements from several local unions who have been helping with the campaign, as well as from a former Democratic candidate in the race and former US Senator Mike Gravel.  He has billboards up, he’s got signs throughout the districts, and he’s got tons of support, especially in the Roxborough neighborhood, where he’s lived for most of his life.

3.  Jeremy Karpen.  Karpen is going against the heart of the Chicago machine, a Democratic incumbent whose father is also in government.  At one point he actually outraised the Democrat, although that ended once the machine’s corporate interests caught wind of it.  Just like Giordano and Manski, he’s been raising an impressive amount of money for a Green and he’s garnered some impressive endorsements, including the Chicago Progressive Democrats of America, a local teachers’ union, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune.  When I interviewed Phil Huckelberry, a co-chair of the Green Party of Illinois, he insightfully pointed out that having even a single Green in the notorious Illinois legislature would give the body a clear conscience, and it would have the potential to create a movement in the state for clean government.

To me, that is what’s most significant about these campaigns.  They reject the corruption and compromises on principle (or lack of principle from the start) that are inherent in the Democratic Party.  Hugh Giordano’s opponent likes to say that she would remain independent even while being a Democrat in the legislature, but that’s ridiculous.  Without the support of the Democrats, she would be nowhere.  Yet Giordano, and all other Greens, can prove that better, more honest politics is possible by winning without the support of any machine.

Nonviolence does not equal complacency

I went to a protest in Philadelphia this past Saturday, and it was more disheartening than anything else.  It was against the wars and various other injustices, with a special focus on he recent FBI raids of peace activists and Pennsylvania Homeland Security spying on innocent civilians and activists.

By the end of it, I kind of just felt like going up to the megaphone and asking, “How much moral outrage can one person muster?  There are more people handing out fliers here than not, and with this country committing so many disgusting, outrageous acts, I don’t blame you.”  I won’t lie, I handed a few out myself.  Yet the contrast between the righteous causes featured in the speeches and on the signs and on the fliers and the, as a fellow protester said to me, “complete lack of solidarity” was striking.

However, I don’t believe that we should stop protesting or that we need to find another way to be activists (although protesting is by no means the only way to be an activist).  Old fashioned protests have always worked and they will continue to work.  But what I went to Saturday – and it is similar to many other antiwar protests I’ve been to, and I’m sure it’s similar to many other demonstrations by progressives, socialists, and the like – was too lethargic, too focused on recruiting for outside groups (like the ANSWER Coalition, as Bob has focused on before), and too passive to do anything other than serve as a large meeting for peace supporters.

The only thing we shut down was part of a bike lane and half a road in the business district of Philadelphia.  No one really cared, although we got some positive honks from drivers and some of them were probably annoyed.  Maybe that could be the antiwar movement’s new slogan:  “We’ll slightly inconvenience you until the wars, the empire, the torture, the spying, the ecological destruction, and the general disrespect toward life is over!”

When I got home, I saw this video on the blog Docudharma, which just compounded my feelings:

In France, the nation is being shut down.  Why?  Because the retirement age could be raised by two years.  Even then, it would still be three years younger than what it is in America!  Not to mention, similar protests are happening all over Europe.

In the comments at Docudharma, I said something similar to what I’m saying here, and I got a good reply, from user Activist Guy.  You can read the whole thing here, but basically he said screw the permit or march at night and bang on pots and pans or go through neighborhoods where this affects people instead of the business district.  And he’s right.  The protests in Europe are, for the most part, nonviolent.  Yet they are incredibly effective because of their numbers and their tactics.

For now, the antiwar movement doesn’t have numbers.  Neither do most movements, because we’ve become a very passive nation.  So we must utilize the numbers we do have, whether through coordinated civil disobedience (not just getting arrested for show, but actually affecting others’ lives, by doing things like blocking off streets without permission) or well-organized protests that emulate groups such as  the militant Wobblies, who utilized their small numbers incredibly effectively.  In any case, we’ve got to get the energy back.  That is what will bring people into the movements, and show them that the alternative to the failure of Washington is not copping out and becoming even more passive, but taking politics into their own hands.

By the way, this is my first post on PoliZeros, and I just want to thank Bob Morris for letting me write here.  I’ve been reading his blog for a bit of time now and I’ve always enjoyed it.  It’s one of the more thoughtful and open political blogs on the web, and I’m proud to now be adding to that.