February 2012

Philadelphians To Call On Governor Corbett To Stop Cuts To Public And Higher Education, End Tax Breaks For Rich Corporations And The 1%

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Jess Burgan: 215-232-3792, jess@fightforphilly.org

Participate in National Day of Action for Education

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Students, teachers and community members from across the city will gather in front of Governor Corbett’s Philadelphia office to rally against his proposed cuts to public education and universities.  The protesters will call for an end of tax breaks for rich corporations and the 1% to close a budget shortfall, rather than continued reductions to education funding.

For the second year in a row, Governor Corbett’s budget is cutting higher education and public school funding.  Cuts to higher education in Corbett’s plan would total more than $260 million, including cuts to the State System, the state-related universities, community colleges and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. The governor’s proposal also adds up to $100 million in cuts to public K-12 schools. If the governor’s plan is approved, public schools will have lost nearly $1 billion since he took office.

Meanwhile, Governor Corbett is letting corporations off the hook for nearly $1 billion in taxes that would help prevent these cuts and help protect services.

The national day of action has been called to protest the fact that more than 40 states have cut support to higher education in order to deal with tight budgets. Students, teachers and community members will march to the rally from Drexel, Temple and the University of Pennsylvania.

WHAT: Protest of the Governor’s proposed cuts to education funding

WHO: Community members, unemployed workers, teachers, students

WHEN: Thursday, March 1 at 3:00 pm

WHERE: Governor Corbett’s Office, 200 South Broad Street

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Fighting for Education at the School Reform Commission Meeting

Last Thursday night, Fight for Philly members attended the School Reform Commission (SRC) meeting at the School District of Philadelphia. The meeting was held to discuss multiple hot button issues concerning the community and children of Philadelphia.

More than 40 people went up to the microphone last night to talk about their concerns, including community members, parents, and clergymen.  Issues that were touched on included the ongoing problem of cutting school staff, most notably being school nurses and school psychologists. These positions are essential in the growth and safety of hundreds of special education students throughout the city.

Fight for Philly was there to drive home our point to SRC board members: we need to investigate the swap deals made by Wells Fargo.  Most importantly, we need to have Wells Fargo renegotiate these bad deals, and use the recovered funds to plug the hole of the dwindling school budget, and to prevent more school and program closings.

We were not alone in our mission. Jack, a freshmen at Central High School, recommended that a petition be introduced to Wells Fargo to demand them to pay back the money to our famished school district. Another speaker, Rolanda King, even went as far to the tell the SRC members that she would return to her job as a Parent Ombudsman for free if the SRC investigates the swap deals.

Fight for Philly is offering real solutions to our problems. Now it’s up to us to put the pressure on our elected officials, community leaders and the entities that do business with our city. Our future is in our own hands, and it’s up to us to make it happen.

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Students Urge Governor Corbett To “Fall Back in Love with Education”

Hundreds of students from across the state gathered in Harrisburg to demand Governor Corbett to rekindle his love for education.

The “Fall Back in Love with Education” event was held in the Capitol building’s Rotunda and was emceed by concerned students.The students were supported by several Philadelphia based community organizations such as Action United, JUNTOS, Philadelphia Student Union, Youth United for Change, Media Mobilizing Project and representatives of Occupy Philadelphia.

Parents of students who attend public schools in the Philadelphia area voiced their concerns. In particular, a Hispanic woman described the poor conditions of a school her son attends and the lack of bilingual aids in the school where multiple languages are spoken. A student from Pittsburgh explained passionately how the current state of schools is “hurting” and Governor Corbett needs to reform his idea of public education.

The students and protestors chants echoed through the halls of the Capitol building and hopefully those chants reached the ears of Governor Corbett.

There are plenty of resources in Pennsylvania to provide a high-quality education for all.  We are continuing our crusade against big banks and as we demand a fair budget for the 99%.

On Thursday, March 1st, Join Fight for Philly and students from college campuses all around Philly on our National Day of Action for Education

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On Valentine’s Day, Wells Fargo Broke Our Hearts

Last Tuesday, Fight for Philly members visited multiple Wells Fargo locations around the city in the hopes of delivering “broken-heart valentines” to Wells Fargo Bank Executive Hugh C. Long.

Here’s what happened:

  • At a branch in South Philly, we sat down with a branch manager. He expressed some sympathy because his parents were teachers, and agreed to forward the broken heart valentine to Hugh C. Long.
  • At a branch in the Southwest, we were allowed to leave a valentine for one of the branch mangers because he/she was not there.
  • At a branch in West Philly,  the branch manager and another bank official came out during our demonstration outside. The manager refused to accept the valentine and said his kids were in private school.

After visiting these locations, we joined together and paid a visit to Mr. Long’s office located on 123 South Broad Street. As Fight for Philly members tried to enter the building, we were quickly stopped by security officers who asked us to leave.

Officers then stood firmly in front of the doors, not allowing us to even step foot inside the building. They even went as far as to lock two out of three main entrance doors and check the IDs of individuals who were trying to enter the building.

Realizing that we exhausted all of options in trying to see Mr. Long, we decided to give him a phone call. Surprisingly, someone did answer and had a brief conversation with one of our organizers. Whether it was Mr. Long or not, he said that he could not comment on the school swap deals and that he could not meet with us. But, Fight for Philly wasn’t about to give up that easily, and we said will not stop calling until we get that meeting.

Finally, we all made our way together to the final Wells Fargo location on Market Street in a final attempt to deliver the precious broken-heart valentine to Hugh C. Long. We were greeted by the bank manager and we asked her if she could deliver our valentine to Mr. Long. Finally, she agreed and we asked for her business card so we could follow up with her and we exited the building.

Fight for Philly will not rest until Wells Fargo agrees to renegotiate the bad deals that they made with our schools and our city. Each and every day—whether it’s because our children’s education is suffering, or the cut after cut that affect our daily lives, we gain a new energy to Fight for Philly.

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DC, We Said We’d Be Back!

On Friday, February 10th, members from Fight for Philly, One Pittsburgh, Our DC, and NY United took their message of the 99%, the need to end tax loopholes for the 1%, and the idea that Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney is the poster boy for the 1%, to the streets of Washington, DC.

Hundreds of protesters, each dripping the colors of their respective organizations, took to the streets in front of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel to express their distaste for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) taking place inside.

Before protesters flooded the streets in front of the hotel, members from each organization gathered the National Zoo. With the air filled with excitement and anticipation, members marched steadily to the CPAC event.

The march was led by One DC members holding a sign that read “CPAC: Poising Politics, Killing the American Dreams for the the 99%.” For more than three blocks, the crowd of concerned marchers cheered “We are the 99%” as the sounds of the Fight for Philly drumline filled the air, capturing the attention of many on lookers.

When we finally reached the hotel, chants of “SHAME, SHAME, SHAME” rang out.  A few CPAC attendees tried to shout out insults over our chants, telling us to “get a job” (which we would love), but they were no match for our members’ voices.

“We’re bringing attention to the 99 percent,” said Inocencio Quinones, an organizer with the advocacy group One DC. “They’re”—referring to the people attending the annual right-wing confab—”not paying their fair share of taxes. We’re paying more than our fair share.”

Around 2 pm, after hours of demonstrating and feeling that our voices were heard, we made our way back to the National Zoo. Waving signs and shouting “Who’s America? Our America!” we marched back with our heads held high. As we were making heading back to the buses, you could overhear the community members discussing how “we will be back.” To anyone around, it was clear that we will never stop fighting for working families and the 99%.

Watch video of the day here:

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PHILADELPHIANS TO DELIVER VALENTINE’S DAY CARDS TO WELLS

Call on Bank to “Be a Sweetheart” and return millions of dollars in cancellation fees to School District

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Philadelphians from across the city will deliver Valentine’s Day-themed messages calling on the bank to pay back the millions they made on bad deals with the School District through interest rate swap agreements.  After canvassing at several neighborhood Wells Fargo branches, activists will gather at the Wells Fargo Building to deliver their hand-made cards.

The large financial institutions that helped cause the Great Recession continue to cause suffering in our neighborhoods through their reckless behavior. While taxpayers provided billions of dollars in bailouts to banks in the wake of the financial crisis, municipalities and school districts have been forced to cut services and lay off staff without receiving any financial consideration from the banks for the high cost of swap deals.

According to a recent report by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the City and School District have lost over $332 million in net interest payments and cancellation fees relating to swaps negotiated with bailed out financial institutions including Wells Fargo.  The City could potentially lose over $240 million in additional net interest payments from still-active swaps between the City agencies and the same bailed-out financial institutions if interest rates continue to remain low.

WHAT: Philadelphians Deliver a Not-So-Sweet Valentine to Wells Fargo

WHO: Community members, including unemployed workers, teachers and students directly impacted by cuts to the School District

WHEN: Tuesday, February 14 at 2:30 pm

WHERE: Wells Fargo Building, 123 South Broad Street

VISUAL: Hand-made Valentine’s Day cards bearing messages such as “It’s not Us, It’s You,” “Have a Heart: Pay Back Our Schools,” and “We Deserve a Healthy Relationship”

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Philadelphia’s 99% to Head to D.C. for CPAC

Philadelphia – Unemployed workers and community members will attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, DC on Friday, February 10.

Once in DC, they will join hundreds of people from the East Coast to protest the CPAC for engineering and maintaining tax loopholes for corporations and the richest 1% that have killed the American Dream for the 99%.

Protesters will be available for photos and interviews before they leave for DC. Remote phone interviews from Washington, DC can be arranged by calling 202-487-9409. Follow along on Twitter at @fightforphilly.

WHO: Unemployed workers and community members; Fight for Philly and the Philadelphia Unemployment Project

WHAT: Trip to Washington, DC to tell CPAC attendees to stop representing the richest 1% at the expense of everyday Americans

WHEN: Friday, February 10, 2012 at 6:30am

WHERE: Bus departs from 846 North Broad Street

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In Harrisburg, We Ask Gov. Corbett: “Whose Side Are You On?”

This past Tuesday, Fight for Philly joined folks from across the state for a trip to  the State Capitol in Harrisburg to call on Governor Tom Corbett pass a budget that stands with the 99%, and to end tax breaks for the 1%.  With the rich not having to pay their fair share, financial burdens will be placed on families, children, and the elderly.

Protesters geared up in all black t-shirts with white lettering reading “Gov. Corbett, whose side are you on?  Stand with the 99%.”

Before Governor Corbett gave his lackluster budget address, Budget Secretary Charles Zogby already laid out a bleak fiscal picture. Close to 200 people –  including members of ACTION United, Fight for Philly,  Occupy Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, One Pittsburgh, Philadelphia Economic Advancement Collective, Philadelphia Unemployment Project, and Pittsburgh United – packed themselves into the hallway of the Capitol building and eagerly waited for Mr. Zogby to leave the budget briefing.

When Mr. Zogby entered the hallway, he was met by swarms of protesters and they fiercely shouted, “SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.” When asked about the protesters who said the governor’s budget was unfair, Charles Zogby replied that “they are mistaken. The governor’s plan is fair and balanced for Pennsylvanians. Our revenue is constrained while many costs are rising. We will keep a huge bulk of the social safety net programs [in the Department of Public Welfare].”

Governor Corbett’s proposed $27.1 billion spending plan calls for large cuts to 14 state-owned universities including Temple University, Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh. This is Governor Corbett’s second budget plan and he continues to cut down spending in the costliest state departments – Education and Public Welfare. Democratic Senator Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia said “He’s spent a year putting his foot on the neck of working people and the poor…its sends a message to where the governor’s head is at. He doesn’t give a damn about low-income people.”

We weren’t alone in our criticism of Gov. Corbett’s drastic cuts. State Senator Mike Stack called Governor Corbett’s budget plan “a slap in the face to the middle class. The average family will continue to dig deeper into their pockets while wealthy corporate interests sit and watch their banks rolls grow.”

Energy was high on the bus ride home to Philly, and it was clear that folks were fired up to keep fighting for a fair budget that puts working families and the 99% ahead of more special breaks for the richest CEOs and biggest corporations.

Watch local TV news coverage of our day here:

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VOTERS TO REACT TO GOVERNOR’S BUDGET ADDRESS, CALL FOR AN END OF TAX BREAKS FOR RICH CORPORATIONS AND THE 1%

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Lynsey Kryzwick: 646.200.5311, lynsey@berlinrosen.com; Emma Stieglitz: 646.200.5307, emmas@berlinrosen.com

HARRISBURG, PA –
Pennsylvanians from across the state will gather in the Capitol rotunda following the Governor’s budget address on Tuesday to call for an end of tax breaks for rich corporations and the 1%.  Without corporations paying their fair share, the new budget will force cuts on education, universities, healthcare, transportation and other services the majority of Pennsylvanians rely on to support their families.  The taxpayers will call on the Governor to address budget shortfalls by ending tax breaks for rich corporations and the 1%, including closing the Delaware and Amazon loopholes and enacting a Marcellus Shale gas extraction tax, which would add nearly $1 billion to the state’s income this year.

Wearing t-shirts reading, “Gov. Corbett, Whose side are you on?   Stand with the 99%,” the group of concerned taxpayers from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia will travel to Harrisburg to hear the Governor’s budget address and voice their concerns about proposed cuts that will further hurt their families and communities at a time when they can least afford it.

The group will highlight proposals for nearly $1 billion that would be generated by closing tax loopholes that keep rich corporations from paying their fair share to support public schools and universities, roads, infrastructure and public transportation, healthcare and other services.  The proposals include more than $500 million in revenue from closing the Delaware loophole, $247 million from a moderate Marcellus Shale extraction tax and $74 million from closing a sales tax loophole.

The protest is being organized by concerned taxpayers from across the state and community organizations, including One Pittsburgh, Fight for Philly, Occupy Temple, Philadelphia Economic Advancement Collective, Philadelphia Unemployment Project, Occupy Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh UNITED and ACTION United.

WHAT: Protest of the Governor’s Budget Proposal

WHO: Concerned taxpayers, including unemployed workers, teachers, students and healthcare workers
Community organizations

WHEN: Tuesday, February 7
12:00 pm (following the Governor’s budget address)
*Protestors will be available for media interviews beginning at 9 am

WHERE: Capitol Rotunda

VISUAL: More than one hundred Pennsylvanians wearing t-shirts reading, “Gov. Corbett, Whose side are you on? Stand with the 99%” and chanting, “Tax the 1%!”

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