Sounds of Independent News - Headline 4 - June 2011

Sounds of Independent News - Headline 4 - June 2011

Clayton Conn

Welcome back world! This is the fourth segment of our Baltimore-centric (although not exclusive) headline-news-round-up called Sounds of Independent News. We are committed to posting snippets of independent news, to help equip and inform local social justice activists and organizations. We are committed to posting regular segments and updates. We solicit your important news and announcements, as well as any suggestions and ideas. Email us at: indypendentreader@gmail.com

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Postal Workers Strike
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers officially began a series of nationwide rolling strikes last Friday, June 3rd. The strikes began in Winnipeg and have since hit several cities, including: Montreal and Victoria. The main focus however has been on small to mid-size towns, as the union says they wish to bring attention to the issue of jobs leaving communities.
Due to competing private companies and a reported 17 percent decrease in mail volume in the past five years (supposedly caused by the dramatic increase in electronic communication)- the government-owned Canada Post has proposed dramatic lay-offs, which beyond necessitating scores of jobs lost- also requires current employees to work unsustainable hours. Also, the union demands that Canada Post provide transparency as they restructure the company and a commitment to provide adequate health, safety, wages, and allotted time-off.
The union has also demanded that employees receive a secured wage increase in the first through third years of employment and that any agreement on wages would have to include a cost of living allowance (COLA) that fully protects their wages from inflation.
The Canadian public has expressed overwhelming support of the postal workers right to strike. The union has implemented the rolling strikes in order to minimize potential harm to the public. Canada Post reports a fifty percent drop in circulation since the strikes began.  The union disagrees with this statement, saying that the drop has not been that large.
Canada Post has rejected the demands so far put forth. It also plans to cut staffing levels at urban plants in order to manage their losses.
The union reports dismay but lack of surprise at this reaction. They plan to continue this strategy, urge Canada Post to come to the negotiation table, and proceed with galvanizing increasing public solidarity.
The rolling strikes are set to hit more and more localities, bringing hundreds upon thousands of union supporters out unto the streets.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers states that they have not taken a general strike off the table but that they aim to utilize it only if absolutely necessary.

June Marks LGBTQ PRIDE Month

Every year, millions from across the world celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer-- and everything outside and in-between, that carries pride - rather than falling prey to the dominant force of controlling shame- for sexuality and gender identity and expression. The month long celebration started as an annual commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, where LGBTQ folks refused to withstand the NYC police raids on local gay bars -- they fought back, forever changing the course of gay, queer, gender, and sexual struggle.
-This year, the White House released a statement honoring the LGBTQ community in the make-up of the nation’s fabric . It plans to host a reception on June 29th to celebrate PRIDE month.
- In Baltimore, PRIDE celebrations run from June 17th-19th. Communities march into this year’s celebrations after a arduous year in legislative losses, vicious attacks and deaths within the local trans-community, and the potential shutdown of the state’s leading LGBTQ advocacy group- Equality Maryland.

Many members of the community battle the desire to both engage with the often overlooked critiques of the modern PRIDE movement being, among other things,  normalizing and assimilationist, as well as a potential barren field for political action and thought - and yet,while recognizing this-  still celebrate, commemorate, and enjoy being out and proud.

Please visit: baltimorepride.org for a full list of the weekends festivities.

                  
The Inner Harbor Redeveloped- Again

On May 25th, the Greater Baltimore Committee unveiled a proposal for a new arena, an expanded convention center, a new 500-room hotel, a pedestrian bridge that would allow visitors to walk around the entire harbor, and a conversion of Rash Field into a waterfront park that would display nighttime water and light shows.

GBC President states that the plan is meant to be a, “...dramatic transformation of the Inner Harbor area into a sports, entertainment, and recreation venue that would be largely unrivaled in the nation.”

The total projected costs would be around $900 million- with $500 million coming from private funding and around $400 million deriving from the city and state.

Since the original redevelopment of the Inner Harbor, billions of public dollars have been sunk into expanding harbor construction that has promised to reinvigorate the local economy. Baltimore City has recently been ranked as one of the nation’s top ten poorest counties. The United Workers just released a highly detailed report “Hidden in Plain Sight: Workers at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the Struggle for Fair Development” - that outlines the inhumane and impoverished conditions of Inner Harbor workers.

Private developer Willard Hackerman plans to back the project but cannot move forward without city-state agreement. There has not yet been a decision. Governor Martin O’Mailey has voiced his approval.

The committee has yet to come up with a financing plan.
                  
Proposal to Redevelop Westside Redevelopment Plan

In December 2010, the Urban Land Institute released a report urging Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to rethink the $150 million project, that she has moved to the top of her priorities, that aims to redevelop the Superblock site loacted on the Westside on Lexington and Howard Streets into a retail “destination” , filled with numerous big-box stores.

The report urged the mayor to:
1. Form a Westside Task Force - co-chaired by the mayor and UMB president to collaborate on developing a strategic plan to move forward with the project.
-- This task-force should both establish authority and partnership.

2. Develop a residential neighborhood rather than a retail one- with allocating funds for 2,000 new units and found employer-assisted homeownership programs.

3. Work with the Maryland Historical Trust in order to address issues of historic preservation- including, the potential demolition of historic Read’s Drug Store.

4. Address public safety concerns.

5. Create community connectivity.

On May 25th, Mayor Rawlings-Blake addressed the first recommendation, by appointing a “czar” to lead the development plans and created a task force which she and the president of UMB will co-chair. The mayor has not addressed any other recommendations from the plan. At this time, it appears that retail development still seems to be the projected course.

Hundreds Demand U.N. Accountability in HIV/AIDS Resolution

Last weekend, the first weekend in June 2011, marked the 30th Anniversary of the first report to recognize what became known as AIDS.

On Thursday, June 9th, hundreds marched to the United Nations to demand universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment. The action occurred as, within the United Nations, a High Level Meeting was conducted to determine whether or not to pledge access to universal HIV/AIDS treatment by 2015. Marchers quoted every statistic that proved the necessity of having this international access. Delegates from numerous countries have expressed their approval for the pledge. The U.N.’s deliberation is yet unknown.

ANNOUNCEMENTS
 

Transgender Town Hall meeting on Homelessness in Baltimore City

Tuesday, June 14th - 5-7pm @ @ 621 West Lombard St. @ University of Maryland / Baltimore

Organized by advocacy and resource group Trans-United, the town hall meeting is meant to address exceptional amount of trans-identified individuals who are homeless,  their unmeet unique needs, the gaps in care and data, and what can be done from here. Specifically meant to be fact-finding meeting to discover housing needs, those fighting for their housing rights, and their allies, are encouraged to attend.

Baltimore Free Store @ The Baltimore Free Farm

Saturday, June 18th, Ash Street Warehouse 3510 Ash Street

Give what you can, take what you need. The Baltimore Free Store is proud to partner with the Baltimore Free Farm for a Baltimore Free Store Give-Away Day at the farm. They will begin receiving donations at 10 am and then redistributing them at noon. Refreshments will be available.

ROOTS FEST 2011
June 22-24, “Highway to Nowhere,” Route 40, at Franklin and N. Gilmore

ROOTS Fest 2011: Many Communities, One Voice is a music, arts and community festival and much more. It seeks to heal, empower and unite Baltimore through the celebration of arts and culture. The free, outdoor festival will fill a vacant lot with five stages of music, art, dancing, food and fun. A three-day national dialog on art, culture, community organizing and empowerment, this event aims to be an opportunity for collaboration between artists, community members, elected leaders and many more. This exchange will be followed by a weekend of free events at the outdoor festival.

Benefit Show for Your Local Baltimore Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World

Thursday, June 23rd @ 7pm @ The Baltimore Free Farm Warehouse - 3510 Ash Street

The Baltimore Free Farm and the Red Clover Collective collaborate to bring you an amazing benefit show for our Baltimore Wobblies!
Entry is $5-10 sliding scale- check-out their facebook page for line-up details!