April 2012

Philadelphia Progressive Organizations Call on Mayor and City Council to Enact Fair Tax Policies

For Immediate Release: April 30, 2012

Contact: Anne Gemmell, 267-850-0891 or anne@fightforphilly.org

Philadelphia – Today, a growing coalition of local faith, labor and progressive organizations weighed in on the city’s budget debates with a City Hall press conference to launch a campaign to preserve the Cohen Wage Tax Credit and call upon Mayor Nutter to demand the corporate community pair its fair share.

“We need to reverse the trend of tax reform that takes more and more of the tax burden away from corporations and places more and more of the tax burden on citizens.  Mayor Nutter’s current plans for the Gross Receipts Tax and the Cohen Ordinance are examples of this unacceptable trend,” said Aaron Troisi of Philadelphians Allied for a Responsible Economy.  “In a city where people are struggling to get by, provide for their families, and ensure strong communities; in a city that closes schools and libraries, cancels programs for youth, and cuts services in our neighborhoods; it is outrageous and unacceptable that corporations are allowed to NOT pay their fair share of taxes.”

The Fair Share Coalition asked the Mayor to protect the working poor by maintaining the Cohen ordinance. Instead of eliminating this progressive wage tax, the city’s revenue challenge should be partly addressed by making corporations pay their fair share through an increase in the Gross Receipts Tax (GRT). The coalition’s proposal includes an exemption for small business.

“Our question today: Do the commercial and business communities of this city pay their fair share of taxes?  We suspect they do not, and this is why 32BJ stands with the Fair Share Coalition,” said Victor Rosado, Political Director of SEIU 32BJ.  “We want to be a part of the conversation to create a fair tax structure in this city that can maintain fairness for fairness’ sake – but to raise enough revenue to provide the basic and essential services that civilization requires.”

The “Cohen Ordinance,” passed by the late Councilman Cohen in 2004, provided tax relief to low-income workers: A three person family in Philadelphia earning $25,500 would have been eligible for gradually increasing rebates of .5%, until the family was paying a wage tax of only 1.5%. However, Mayor Nutter has been successfully watering down this ordinance since 2008, and is now seeking to eliminate it entirely.

Now, more than ever, asking more of working families while planning tax breaks for big corporations should not be an option for the city.  As next year’s city budget is developed, the Fair Share Coalition will continue to deliver the message that the budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the working poor and most vulnerable – but that everyone must pay their fair share, especially big corporations.

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Philadelphia Families protest Big Bank Greed!

Over a hundred workers, students, families and members of community joined Fight for Philly for a community picnic and protest against Big Bank greed.

Families and children enjoyed a little picnic in the park at 34th and Chestnut, while enjoying face painting, soccer, and other sports. After picnicking in the park, families took a field trip to the nearby Wells Fargo branch.

Of course, Wells Fargo had locked its doors before we even arrived. Having the bank shut the doors right in our faces was in keeping with the disrespectful attitude Wells Fargo has displayed to the community.Despite Wells Fargo’s provocation, our group remained focused on our message. Professor Josh led a teach-in regarding Wells Fargo’s harms to our communities while children took the opportunity to do some coloring.

Drummers led folks in an outside picket on Chestnut Street and community members spoke out about the bank’s failure to pay its fair share and its involvement in the swap deals marketed to the School District and City that have cost Philadelphia $331 million dollars.

Wells Fargo not paying its fair share of taxes and continuing to profit from shady deals with our city and schools affects us all, and the number of people walking by who stopped to join our protest made that clear. One woman outraged by what she was learning about the bank even grabbed the mic and told the crowd: “I’m going in there to take my money out right now. I can’t believe how Wells Fargo is making so much money at the expense of everyday people like us.”

Wells Fargo has been profiting off of the backs of the middle and working class families, with a shameful record of foreclosures, predatory lending to poor communities, and avoiding taxes that should have gone to keeping schools open and caring for our vulnerable.

As families and children protested Wells Fargo here, three members of Fight for Philly traveled 2,000 miles across the country to protest the bank’s annual shareholder meeting. Even though members had shares to attend the meeting, they were turned away, along with thousands of others. Wells Fargo once again closed its door on the people they hurt and are unwilling to take any responsibility for their despicable actions.

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As Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting Convenes, Philadelphia Families Protest Big Bank Greed

Press Release for Tuesday, April 24

For more information: Umang Patel: 267-254-7968, Umang@fightforphilly.org or Jess Burgan at 202-487-9409, jess@fightforphilly.org

Philadelphia – On the day the Wells Fargo shareholder meeting convened in San Francisco, over a hundred workers, students, families and members of community organizations joined Fight for Philly for a community picnic and protest against the big bank greed.

After picnicking in the park at 34th and Chestnut in University City, the activists marched to the Wells Fargo branch at 3431 Chestnut.  Families and children aged 2- 14 conducted a brief teach-in inside the bank’s lobby.

With the school district’s announcement of forty school closures in papers this morning, community members spoke out about Wells Fargo’s involvement with the Wall Street-engineered swap deals marketed to the School District and City that have cost Philadelphia $331 million to date.

“Wells Fargo and other businesses have taken funds from the School District and are ruining our children’s education” explained Gloria Thomas, an advocate of the public school system and representative of Parent Power.. “The students that are graduating cannot read at a high level nor have simple math skills.”

Wells Fargo has been profiting off of the backs of the middle and working class families, with a shameful record of foreclosures, predatory lending to poor communities, and avoiding taxes that should have gone to keeping schools open and caring for our vulnerable.

“I am saddened that Wells Fargo has taken the opportunity away from my students to get a good education” said Gina Apuzzo, a dance instructor from Northeast Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, three Fight for Philly members are currently in San Francisco for the bank’s shareholder meeting.  Despite being shareholders, they have thus far been denied entrance to the meeting.

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Picnic and Protest Against Big Bank Greed

We’ve been protesting big bank and corporate greed for a while now, so we thought we deserved a little fun in the park.

On Tuesday, we’re having a picnic in the park at 34th and Chestnut.  Families, workers, students and people from all walks of life are coming together for some food, fun and games and to talk about how we can challenge ‘business as usual’ for big banks and corporations.

We’ll highlight the cuts to our schools and communities that big banks in Philly have played a role in causing.  The picnic will include activities like arts and crafts, music lessons and sports – programs that so many of us are already missing or anticipating the loss of.

We’ll also have teach-ins and speak-outs, so folks can tell their own stories about how the banks’ greedy decisions are harming their families.

We’ll have snacks and plenty of fun for folks of all ages.

We’ve been protesting the big banks here in Philly  for months because of their profiting at our communities’ loss, foreclosures, predatory lending to poor communities, and avoiding taxes that should have gone to keeping schools open and caring for our vulnerable.  And we can’t forget those Wall Street-engineered swap deals marketed to the School District and City that have cost Philadelphia $331 million so far.

Big banks have not only have contributed to the closing of schools and foreclosure of homes, but they are also a big reason why our economy has spiraled downward. They have profited off the backs of the middle and working class families of this city.

Join us for some fun next Tuesday. Speak out about how big bank greed is affecting your family and neighborhood.  Learn more about what we can do to continue to fight for corporate accountability.  It is up to us to demand the big banks to pay their fair share and begin to make amends with the people they have hurt.  It’s time for a change, but we cannot do it without you!

RSVP for this event on Facebook now!

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Stop hiding in Delaware

On Tuesday, hundreds of workers, students, children, parents and various community groups protested the tax loopholes and tax dodging that aids the 1% at the expense of 99% with a dodge ball game at Comcast Plaza.

Fight for Philly members played a friendly dodge ball game poking fun at Comcast who dodges taxes every year. The game was commenced by the smug Mr. 1% and participants wasted little time pelting him with dodge balls laced with messages like “Close Loopholes” and “Pay Your Fair Share.” From that moment on, dodge balls flew from every direction, making it nearly impossible to escape their paths. Folks had fun expressing their frustration with our unfair tax system, but didn’t forget about the serious issues at play.

“Corporations in Philadelphia are making millions off the 99%, and profiting at our communities’ loss,’ said Marvin Robinson of West Philly. “They are hoarding hundreds of millions that should go to keeping schools open, caring for our elders and putting Philadelphia back to work.”

Comcast is one of the largest companies in Pennsylvania to abuse the Delaware Tax Loopholes, which allow companies to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes every year. The estimated loss revenue that could be used to help fund Pennsylvania education and social programs is around $550 million dollars. Further, more than 70 percent of corporations in Pennsylvania do not pay any income taxes.

Governor Corbett continuously chooses to protect tax loop holes and benefits that favor the 1%. While Big Businesses are profiting off the middle class and working class families, Pennsylvanians are facing deep cuts to education, healthcare, and other programs that help the less fortunate.

Protestors also made way to Senator Toomey’s office to show their discontent with the Senator’s stance on the Buffet Rule, which was vetoed in Congress the day before. The law would have reduced tax inequality between America’s 1% and America’s 99%. The plan would apply a minimum 30% income tax to individuals earning more than million dollars a year.

“Senator Toomey needs to represent people like us, not corporations. He should focus on creating jobs here and putting money in people’s pockets right now,” said Matt Wah, a Northeast Philly resident. “We need to end tax breaks for millionaires and big corporations.”

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Crashing Mitt’s Tea Party

On Monday, the eve of Tax Day, Mitt Romney was invited by a local Tea Party organization to speak at their summit held at the Franklin Institute.

Like the last time Romney was in town, Fight for Philly headed to the event, hoping to talk to Mr. 1% himself.  We had a lot of questions for him: How could he suggest cutting education and housing in order to give more tax breaks for the rich?  Why won’t he release more of his tax history?  Why doesn’t he think the 1% should pay their fair share in taxes?

Those questions, unsurprisingly, were never answered.  Mitt Romney didn’t want to hear from us, maybe because we all paid a higher tax rate than him (as well as many big corporations and other rich people).  We were denied entrance to the event, even though we had tickets.

Romney spoke out against the Buffet Rule. The Buffet Rule would reduce tax inequality amongst America’s richest 1% and the rest of us. The tax plan would apply a minimum 30% income tax rate to individuals earning more than a million dollars a year.  This law failed in Congress on the same day. According to CBS news, Romney attacked the President’s tax plan by saying “Raising taxes affects our economic freedom. Regulation. You have to have regulations to make a market place work, but regulations that get too large can overwhelm the enterprises that you’re trying to encourage.”

It’s unfortunate that Mr. Romney is making excuses for Big Business to continue to dodge taxes.

We weren’t alone in our not-so-warm welcome for Romney.  Also on Monday, City Controller Alan Butkovitz called out Romney for his desire to give tax breaks to the 1%. He went on further to say “Mitt Romney represents a continuation of the idea that the only people making a contribution to society are rich people who invest money and that it’s not worth it for them to pay taxes because they won’t invest in the economy,” Butkovitz said, calling the idea perpetuated by the Tea Party “myopic and obsessive.”

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On Tax Day, Philadelphians to Protest Tax Dodgers

Media Advisory for Tuesday, April 17 at 3:30 pm

Contact: Umang Patel, 267-254-7968 or Umang@fightforphilly.org

On Tax Day, Philadelphians to Protest Tax Dodgers

Call on the 1% to pay their fair share

Philadelphia – This Tax Day, workers, students, parents and members of various community groups will protest tax dodgers and the tax loopholes that help the 1% at the expense of the rest with a dodge ball game at the Comcast plaza.

Comcast is among the many Pennsylvania companies that take advantage of the Delaware loophole to avoid paying taxes on their income, costing the state $550 million a year in lost revenue.  Further, more than 70 percent of corporations in Pennsylvania do not pay any income tax.

Because Governor Corbett continues to protect tax loopholes and breaks that benefit big corporations and CEOs at the expense of middle and working class families, Pennsylvanians are facing deep cuts to education, healthcare and other programs that help the vulnerable.

Protesters will also march to Senator Toomey’s office to call on the Senator to support the Buffet Rule, which stops millionaires from paying lower taxes than working people.

Similar protests will take place throughout Pennsylvania, as members of the 99% continue to take a stand against rich corporations and politicians who have created an economic emergency for the 99%.

Who: Workers, students, parents and members of various community groups, including: Delaware Valley New Priorities Network; Fight for Philly; Neighborhood Networks; Norris Square Civic Association; Occupy Philly; Occupy Temple; Occupy the Dream; Philadelphia Unemployment Project

What: Dodge ball game of working people vs. tax dodgers

Where: Begins at LOVE Park, ends at Comcast Plaza

When: 3:00 p.m. at LOVE Park, followed by a march to Comcast Plaza at 3:15

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Philly Spring is Blooming

This week, 100,000 people from across the country will come together. We will talk about this terrible economy. We will review the rich history of nonviolent direct action in America. We are going to create a new wave of change now.

We Philadelphians need to fight for what is right. We need to let Big Banks and Big Business know we are no longer going to sit around and watch them ruin our city! As this American Spring blooms, we will stand up for equality and economic justice. It’s a battle in the streets.

Our greatest advances in our economy and democracy have come when ordinary people like us took a stand. When people do things like fight back, form unions, win civil rights, demand equality for women and minorities – these efforts work when we pull together. We need you to join us in taking action this month: Here are a few of our upcoming events this Spring:

  • Saturday, April 14th: 99Spring Training : Join Fight for Philly, Action United, Neighborhood Networks, and SEIU from 10 am to 5pm  at the Arch Street Church as we offer non-violent direct action training. Lunch will be provided.
  • Tuesday, April 17th: Dodge Ball Showdown: It’s time for corporations to stop dodging taxes. Join us at Love Park at 3pm, as we gear up for some fun and demand that elected officials close tax loopholes!
  • Friday, April 20th: – Roll Out the Red Carpet for Philly’s 1%: The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce is honoring David Cohen, Comcast’s Executive VP. Coincidentally, the event will be sponsored by Wells Fargo. Join us as we roll out a red carpet to demonstrate how Comcast – and many of the Chamber’s members and sponsors – use their power, money and the tax system to walk all over the rest of us. The soirée will begin 6:45. Be sure to dress for the occasion!
  • Saturday, April 21st: Occupy the DMV: We will join Occupy the dream and head to a Philly DMV and ensure IDs are in the hands of EVERY voter for the April and November elections. Don’t let PA’s new Voter ID laws keep you from exercising your right to vote.
  • Tuesday, April 24th: –Community Teach-in and Afterschool Fun: Come learn more about the big banks’ shady deals with our schools and communities, and share how our families have been hurt by their greedy actions. A special field trip is also planned. Meet us at the park at 34th & Chestnut St at 3:45pm.This is our chance to broaden and expand the momentum that built last year as Americans from every walk of life came together to stand up for their country. But we can’t do it without you.

See you there!

Anne

Please visit www.the99spring.com to find out more information.

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Fight for Philly Begins Holy Week

On Sunday, April 1st, while many families gathered to celebrate Palm Sunday and with Passover quickly approaching, community and religious members gathered for a solidarity march. Close to a hundred people from all walks of life marched to oppose social and economic injustices and those who oppress us.  The march included many stops throughout downtown Philadelphia, most notably Governor Corbett’s office, where members demanded an end tax loopholes and tax breaks for the 1%. The march concluded with a Jewish Seder and community feast at Logan Circle.

In addition to speaking against out against an unfair tax system that works in favor of rich corporations and the 1%, the afternoon-long protest addressed other injustices that Philadelphians are facing, including the mayor’s recent restrictions on giving out food to our homeless, proposed anti-immigration laws, budget cuts that are dismantling our schools and city services, and the need for earned sick time off.

The event was organized by a broad, interfaith coalition, and aimed to claim the Passover and Palm Sunday holidays as those with a tradition of bringing together communities in times of need. Passover remembers the Israelites’ liberation from slavery from the Egyptians. And Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and marks the beginning of Holy Week. In a way, the people of Philadelphia gathered to show they will no longer stand to be treated unfairly and speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Herschel, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Selma Civil Rights March once said, “Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out as a sound, ends in a deed.” It is up us to keep on fighting for what is right and put pressure on those who repeatedly try to sway us from gaining equality.

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Voices of the 99% Impossible to Ignore

Groups from every corner of our movement—inspired by the everyday heroes of Occupy Wall Street and Madison, Wisconsin—are planning a massive campaign of bold nonviolent direct actions to make the voices of the 99% impossible to ignore.

The key is making the 99% Spring as big as possible. That’s why during the week of April 9-15, in small towns and big cities all across America, 100,000 people will come together for an unprecedented national movement-wide nonviolent direct action training. We’ll learn to tell the story of our economy and what went wrong, we’ll learn the history of nonviolent direct action, and we’ll learn how we can take action and create great change in this country.

Will you join the 99% Spring? Click here to find the event closest to you:

http://www.the99spring.com/route.php?type=participant&code=99F4P

In Philly, we’ll be meeting at the Arch Street Methodist Church in Center City:

Arch Street Methodist Church
55 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Saturday, April 14th, 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM

Our nation’s greatest steps forward have come when everyday people stood up and took courageous, visionary, morally compelling direct action—from the struggle to secure the vote for women, to the strikes that built power for workers and unions, to the civil rights movement.

Now we need to create that kind of change again in America.

Last year, from the Wisconsin workers who took over their state capitol to Occupy Wall Street, we saw a new movement in America using direct action to highlight the massive inequality that’s destroying our country.

The 99% Spring is our chance to maintain and broaden that changemaking energy, and learn how we can take action to challenge corporate power, end tax giveaways to the 1%, fight the influence of money in politics, and create an economy that works for all of us.

Our movement is uniting, and this is a chance for all of us to come together to shift the political landscape in America. Will you join in?

Click here to sign up for a 99% Spring action training in your area:

http://www.the99spring.com/route.php?type=participant&code=99F4P

Thank you for all you do to make this movement real.

Brad Levinson
Fight for Philly

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