Left Coast Media

North Bae 015 - (City) Council Communism

March 08, 2018 Left Coast Media
Left Coast Media
North Bae 015 - (City) Council Communism
Show Notes Transcript
Comrades Tiberius and Sauce chat with Molly (twitter.com/socialistdogmom) about why she's sitting in on so many city council meetings, and how hyperlocal electoral politics is a tool in the socialist arsenal. Follow her, twitter.com/cvilledsa, and twitter.com/mikesigner1 for such threads ashttps://twitter.com/socialistdogmom/status/948342648343064578https://twitter.com/socialistdogmom/status/956574990488481792https://twitter.com/socialistdogmom/status/938099348470161408and https://youtu.be/Kfr29BAedz8

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Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to North Bay, a podcast from the left coast media collective to connect with the show. Follow us on Twitter at left-pad or the hosts at a checker, informant commune or source and our our, our, our n. You can email us@leftcoastpodcastatgmaildotcomandourpatrionisatpatrion.com slash left coast media. We love you if you heard that that was the dog.

Speaker 2:

Okay, got it. I'm trying to lock my dog up.

Speaker 3:

Okay. Yeah. This, this little guy has a deviated septum and a, it's a snaggletooth. He's, he's a sweet guy, but you've got to refurb. He was a shelter dog. Yeah, he is. It's also named Tiberius[inaudible]. Definitely wouldn't be confusing at all. No. Gosh, the family name. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 4:

All right. Welcome comrades to another episode of the North Bay. This one is going to be kind of interesting.

Speaker 3:

A lot of people on the left talk about things like electoral politics as being inherently booze wall and not worth, uh, participating and are discussing. But I think we have a little bit of a different, slightly more nuanced opinion to talk about today. So I appreciate the way that you said that this one was going to be interesting. Like all of the rest of all the ones haven't been Aye to say. Interesting as a way of not saying controversial. Okay. Oh, but before, before I ramble on too long, I am of course Tiberias crock. Yes, I am Camille sauce and our guest today is Molly. Uh, Molly, would you like to go ahead and introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself and what you, what you do?

Speaker 2:

Hi, this is Molly. I'm the CO chair at Charlottesville Dsa and just off the bat and let him give the disclaimer that I'm speaking only for myself, you know, not specifically representing my chapter in the event that they say anything, they disagree with them. But, uh, we've been doing a lot of the electoral organizing here in Charlottesville and it's been important work.

Speaker 3:

You were a, I noticed online on Twitter that you were talking about, essentially you are currently in between jobs or unemployed. However, let's refer to it these days. Um, that, that you were going to a lot of local,

Speaker 1:

I think it was city council meetings, right?

Speaker 2:

Yes. Good content there at socialist dog mom and I live tweet all of the city meetings I get to attend to these days as I not employed. And our chapter has a good showing. We get five to 10 people out to every city council meeting. That's a twice a month. And then I go to a lot of committee meetings during the day and, and just sort of, um, babysit city council as it were.

Speaker 3:

So can you, can you give us a little bit of a walkthrough on

Speaker 1:

sort of

Speaker 3:

what it's like in a sort of city council meeting or in other

Speaker 1:

various committee meetings, these kinds of things and the kinds of things that you as,

Speaker 3:

as someone who holds a radical political positions are looking for?

Speaker 2:

I don't have a lot of faith in electoral politics at large, you know, um, and our comrade Alex and, and Alabama Dsa you had on, um, a few weeks ago wrote that article before the, uh, the Special Election Alabama about Jon Jones and yeah, I'll let you folks like Doug Jones is, is not how I want to spend my time. But the hyper local electoral work I think is it's harm reduction. You know, we're not knocking doors for some, some Democratic senator, you know, we have a democratic governor here in Virginia and he doesn't want to expand medicaid pro pipeline. He's pro confederate statues. Like getting people like that into officer's not where are our VSA local should be sending it. It's time and energy, but showing up to city council meetings, we, we really have the opportunity to make real material change in our community and we've seen that born out in the last couple of months. But it's, you know, if he's not spent a lot of time in, in local city council meetings, which I encourage everyone to do, if you've seen parks and rec, it's a lot like that. If Pawnee, Indiana, we're situated over the hell mouth. It's wild. I mean I've seen people get arrested, dragged out of chambers, have been threatened by a police officer. It's, you know, it's the, I was out here.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I've been to some meetings of our local, well a local cities city council and a comrade of ours was quite vocal in his criticism of the match during a meeting and got in the paper about it. And that's a very benign way of putting it. Yes. Yes. I called him, called him a fascist and flipped him off I think. Yeah. Every time I go it's been four or five times. Every time I go I spot more and more cops. Like I feel like they're getting a little bit wise to the fact that there may be people who have opinions that are not friendly to the state. I'll put it that way. That's good. Right. They should be. You should be afraid. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 2:

Ever since ever since our, um, August 21st council meeting where some demonstrators stood up on the day as with a huge banner that said, blood on your hands, they've been more cautious of us.

Speaker 3:

Uh, yeah, I've, I've been both in a bourgeois pro business capacity and there as a, someone who was holding and supporting radical politics been to many, many, uh, local city council meetings. And I do have to say that I applaud you for going to so many. Yeah, there are a lot of interesting things too to see here and a lot of interesting things being done. I mean, I think a lot of people, comrades especially tend to discount the power that local governments have over people's everyday lives. For example, part of what our comrade got into the paper about is, uh, essentially the criminalization of being a homeless person in, in our community here. You know, that's not something that is controlled by the state, uh, but as in like California or the federal government, but those are policies that are being set in, enacted by the local municipal government. And so they, they have a very tremendous amount of power over our lives.

Speaker 2:

It's the banality of evil, you know, from top to bottom. They, these, these meetings are exclusively boring and they're very long, I mean our council meetings or seven hours long, a lot of the time, but if you're not there watching and they don't see they're watching and you know, see what you will about the heckler's veto. But our presence there changes both in those, some of those local organs is really do have the power to, to make people's lives much worse or better as it were. But um, but usually worse.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And um, there is a tremendous amount of power that the local capitalists have over the city council and that is very much on display at council meetings.

Speaker 1:

One of the things that is, it really stands out to me about local council meetings is that they are never held when working people can attend. So unless you are somebody who doesn't have to work or your job is going to these meetings or you can afford to take time off, your voice probably isn't going to get heard.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And we see that a lot. I mean our council meetings or in the evening, but again, they're there from six 30 til after midnight. So that's not convenient for people who work or have children or have transportation issues. It's the issue of access is is a serious one. I tend to, recently they had a a full day and a half budget work sessions that was, you know, open to the public because legally anytime more than two counselors meet to talk about official business, it has to be open to the public. But that's, it's sort of in name only. It was 20 minutes outside of town at a 3000 acre former slave plantation. It was difficult to find. The address on the website led to a locked gate. The phone number on the website didn't actually ring anywhere. I called the city council, um, clerk and they didn't know what I was talking about in this. Finally found it. He's the only member of the public there the first day. I mean, that's open to the public, doesn't mean anything if he can't get there.

Speaker 3:

I believe that there is a hitchhikers guide to the galaxy seen about this sign saying the way of the Leopard. Yes. So if you could talk about the kinds of, a little bit more about the specifics of the kinds of issues that you have been seeing pop up in your local city council and other meetings that you have been attending and what the, the capitalists and probably more importantly for this audience, uh, what your local chapter and and other leftist organizations response have been to those.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. So one of the big issues we've been fighting recently is, I forget this, this is so near and dear to our hearts locally, but it's meaningful outside the bounds of the city of Charlottesville. But there's a developer and John Dewberry who is, um, they call him the king of empty lots. We buys up like he bought an abandoned mall in Richmond. They never developed it. And there's some downtown law, there's this built hotel. It's just, it's bare scaffolding supposed to be done. 10 years ago, Darrell elected the crackhead, like pieces of rebar blew off in a storm a few years ago and damage the CVS. I mean it's, it's an eyesore and it's a blight and he's never going to fucking finish it. Oh, can, I swear?

Speaker 3:

You can absolutely swear. We encourage fucking swearing on this show.

Speaker 2:

I grew up on military bases, I swear like a sailor. But yeah, he's never going to finish this hotel. And it's, you know, our former Marin and current city council member, Mike Singer is just a lapdog for these developers. He's so pumped about what he calls a Boutique Hotel in Charlottesville, downtown mall. It's going to be the jewel of the city, but he's never going to finish it. And so this is an issue we've been fighting hard on. Earlier this fall, this past fall, there was a vote to give John Dewberry 75 parking spots and in nearby parking structure controlled by the city. I think it's like 20% of market rate for a 40 year lease. I mean, the hotels we've done 10 years ago to what's gonna happen in 40 years. And there's, you know, there's a waiting list for that garage and parking downtown. Charlottesville is a huge issue. People who don't make living wage work in the shops downtown have to move their cars every two hours cause everything is to our parking. You know, it's a big slap in the face. And the hearing on that was after the night, the only members of the public there, aside from dewberries lawyers where myself and one comrade and this, uh, this guy called Jafari Jones who runs the fake black lives matter chapter out of Hampton, Virginia, who took the mic to announce his candidacy for governor. This is like three days before the election. I mean, the whole thing, like I said, it's, it's parks and rec but, but more in fascist, you know, they have, you said he had the hearing, well, after midnight it, they rammed it through and um, there's not a lot we could do about it. So at the following meeting, we've managed to it off the consent agenda and the consent agenda is the stuff they vote on without even reading it. And so here's where, you know, this, this kind of like knowing these banal arcane rules of order really matter because you know, from the audience, you know, doing don't the light tackling. And one of the counselors expressed some reservations about about it and another one joined in and say here who still the mayor at the time tried to ram the vote through. But if you know the rules, if two counselors have any question about coming to the consent agenda, it has to come off the consent agenda. So we, yeah, we shouted as much until he yanked it. And yet it's still passed. It's still a huge bummer, but forcing off the consent agenda and then they had to talk about it in public at 7:30 PM in front of full chambers. You know, the after midnight secret hearing, they had, they had to have that conversation about that handout they were giving to this billionaire in public. And I think that matters. I mean, again, we didn't change the outcome that time, but shining a little bit of light on that kind of bullshit. Um, it keeps it in the public consciousness

Speaker 1:

as we frequently see people saying, especially on Twitter, sunlight is one of the best desk disinfectants and just having these decisions somewhere that's on the record that people see and will remember and you can refer back to Ross isn't happening. Yeah, absolutely. After midnight. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And assuming that that public higher about John Dewberry, it matters because the following month if another council meeting, they were voting on giving him a one and a half million dollar tax abatement for his unfinished hotel. And you know, we held the press conference immediately before the meeting and we changed the vote. We got it done. Three two in our favor could not get him that tax break. And I think if we hadn't had that very public and embarrassing conversation about via the parking spot handout, it wouldn't have gone that way.

Speaker 1:

That's amazing.

Speaker 2:

God knows like I didn't have a million of our dollars.

Speaker 1:

It wasn't an abatement on a basically a vacant building lot.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's disgusting. And keeping that conversation alive and trying to get more public engagement on forcing the city to condemn the structure. Cause I can't, you know, they, they keep saying, no, no, this is really nothing we can do. But getting people engaged on that, it's sort of forcing them to revisit that narrative because they can in fact condemn that structure, um, as blight and, and turn it into something that would be good for the public, you know, something other than a boutique hotel.

Speaker 3:

A. Right. So then, cause I mean you guys are doing a lot of other work as well, including like direct action and antifascist work. Did you guys also have a brake lights

Speaker 2:

program? We are working up to it, so hopefully later this spring we'll get on that. I do want to see us do more mutual aid this year and that's definitely on our agenda. We have, we actually are still an organizing committee. We're not a chapter we haven't incorporated yet, which is really sort of hamstringing our fundraising efforts. But it's, you know, it's all a work in progress.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And Yeah, we know that at this point any committee

Speaker 3:

wanting to go to a chapter is basically on hold. So yeah, we, yeah, we um, empathize. Yeah, we were supposed to have been already transitioned over into a full chapter and for recent probably don't need to get into, yeah, we're still an organizing committee to, um,

Speaker 2:

the bylaw pains.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah. Uh, we're going to have, we're going to have an episode about those bylaw pains. I had multiple episodes about those bylaws. Yeah, yeah. Uh, anyway. Anyway. Uh, so do you guys have been doing a lot of things including a lot of like direct action and in the community work, how does being, you know, present and involved in the hyperlocal electoral politics play into that and like how does the one support the other like does doing one take away energy from the other or, or are they mutually supporting in a sense?

Speaker 2:

You a lot of mixed opinions on that. And I think we have know some folks in our chapter who are much more geared towards electoral politics and are very knowledgeable about it and engaged in it on a, on a large level. And then we have folks who would really rather not touch it with a 10 foot pole and much more involved in direct action. Um, but I was looking at them at national recent, recent electoral strategy statement. Then them as someone with a healthy skepticism of both electoral politics and national. I was heartened to see that one of the four core tenants of the statement was that, um, electoral work, we'll, to the greatest extent possible be a natural extension of local campaigns. And that to me is very heartening because that's how I see it, that I'm engaging with our council isn't just to put democratic asses in seats because I could care less about that. It's leveraging that to get outcomes that we need, especially around housing justice and better policing. You know, ultimately like to see no policing. But I don't really see that on the council agenda this year. But one of the things that we have been able to push through with the help of other local groups is a civilian review board for our police. And it's, you know, it's still very much a work in progress, but the working committee to determine the bylaws for the CRB as it will exist in the future is being chosen here coming up and based on the, um, the published lists of possible candidates for that board, about a third of them are our members. So we're going to have a member on that committee and that's huge because that committee will determine what kind of teeth that body has and we need better oversight of our police. They said they recently stopped keeping statistics on stop and Frisk, but the specifics that we had, sorry, I came and talked to the numbers that do exist up until they stopped keeping them show that we have a disproportionately outrageously, uh, racially biased, stop and frisk, Karen in are, you know, small, suburban town. That and body will be really important.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. We have some experience with a little bit of local oversight of a sheriffs, but it's been, it was much set up as a toothless

Speaker 1:

organization. So,

Speaker 3:

and it was a hell of a fight even to get that. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So starting with, um, socialists embedded right at the very beginning to try and push things to a vaguely functional level,

Speaker 2:

I think at this point. Yeah. They're starting to realize that we're not going away. We're going to be at every meeting we are watching, we are yelling. Uh, and we're engaged and I don't, I don't think they're going to get away with creating such a useless body as they did last time. Cause we had some things similar that already existed, but it was, I mean it was worse than useless. It was a lap dog. Um, so hopefully this will be, and I don't, I don't have any, any faith that it will have any kind of enforcement power or any, any real sharp teeth, but at least take, we can sort of gum at the, at the police tower

Speaker 1:

at least you can make things a little bit difficult

Speaker 2:

or at least drag some of those records out into the light because it's impossible to foya most police records in anything that is a criminal charge. They can permanently see us, even if it's determined that no crime was actually committed to when it came to the stop and frisk where they find nothing. If it started as a criminal charge, it's not subject to Foya, it's permanently sealed. And so if we can at least get those numbers out into the light, that would make a difference.

Speaker 1:

Statistics that clearly they were able to keep in the past. So there's no probably no reasons that they can't spin that back up again. Right. Did they give a reason for stopping the statistics collection?

Speaker 2:

Startlingly no. They brought it up at the last council meeting and they, they literally had no rationale and they claimed they didn't really know why they weren't doing it anymore. They just weren't, which is how do we know why you stopped keeping those numbers because they were embarrassing and awful.

Speaker 3:

So if you could maybe talk a little bit more about what you see as the difference between an electoral strategy that is, is focused on the sort of like the hyperlocal and an electoral strategy that is focused on the national and and in particular I, I kind of want to touch a little bit on the distinction between like dealing with politics at a policy level in dealing with politics at a like liberal representational level

Speaker 2:

on the local level. I think it really is more about individual issues affecting outcomes locally is, is really different because it's not about electing a platform. You know, you elected a Democrat to a, to a larger office and they have sort of a general democratic platform. It's not really party line. On our city counseling I'll, there are five members, the four of whom are Democrats, the sensibly and one is an independent Manikai walker cause it's not really about Cardi line. You can really sort of see them as human beings who can be influenced on individual issues. And I think you have a lot more flexibility there. Whereas you know, you elect have a party line Democrat like our governor who's pro pipeline and tweeted the other day that we should really consider all sides when represented Virginia history with our statutes. Uh, so what do you, what are you really getting when you elect that kind of representation?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, when it comes

Speaker 3:

to the, the local level also these are people that at least live in the same area as you. Whereas if politicians live in the same area as you, it's generally behind like eight layers of fences and a bunch of body guards. Right? So there's also that, that difference. So how, how does either a, like an official DSA chapter or really any sort of grassroots movement organization, affinity group, how do they sort of a square that peg of, of being involved at the level of local electorial politics and being in the community and doing work there because there's really not that much energy that we have in a day. And trying to train to like split ourselves too much just means we get nothing done.

Speaker 2:

What was it that just show up? I mean, you know, we don't have policy platforms on every few. Like you said, we have, we have finite energy, but if we listen to our community partners, like public housing association of residents and I'm black lives matter and we're partnering with surge on some issues and then you show up to these meetings and you don't have to have done all the research about the issue. If you have the policy position of your community partner, you can show up and maybe find out Chris Speaker Slot and say the lines you were given or just, you know, be in your seat and do your heckler's veto. Just show up. It's amazing how much we've been able to get done just by physically being present. I think there's this, a unprecedented, unprecedented level of citizen engagement here in Charlottesville, you know, in the last six months to a year. Um, and it's, it's making a difference there, there shook,

Speaker 1:

I feel like personally also the, the level of engagement that is just that, that you described as, as going to a, a meeting and sitting there and maybe exercising the Hasp heckler's veto. That's one that is probably lower friction than taking the street in a march or serving food, not bombs. When you know there's a risk that you may get arrested for that cause it's less likely that you're going to get arrested at a city council meeting. Generally you can at least pretend to be a member of bourgeois society and, and get scrape away with that privilege if you have that ability. It's kind of a, it's not really a barrier to entry, but it's uh, it's easier to do if you are still not entirely comfortable with being a socialist.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I was going to say easier to, easier to get liberals to like show up and do that kind of work for you.

Speaker 2:

And they're doing, but they're, they fill, they filled the chambers to. But although thinking to not getting arrested, that's not necessarily true care. We've had a number of folks arrested, charged and convicted with disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice or, um, teaching in council chambers and it's largely been women of color. Something for which I've, I've filed an official human rights complaint with the city about because it's a march pattern. It's really shocking. And, and Kyle Walker has endeavored to have fewer armed officers in chambers during council meetings since she was elected in January. Prior to January, we sent him set up to six armed officers and chambers, which is ludicrous. I mean, it's not, it's not a big room. It's, I mean a smaller than an elementary school auditorium, you know. So now we have consistently just to, which I still find to be too many men with guns for it, for a place of civil discourse. Right. But like you said, it is, it is less dangerous than, than a march or taking to the streets or, or any kind of other direct action. But it's still surprisingly risky too to show up and speak your mind.

Speaker 1:

Yes. Thank you for correcting me on that.

Speaker 2:

I think you may be unusual. Our situation I did, generally speaking, it's going to be addressing your city council wouldn't involving bodily removed from the room by an armed guard.

Speaker 5:

Um, that's, uh, I, I've seen that here actually. It's usually two or three cops showing up to every city meeting, a city council meeting here. And I have, I have seen people dragged away by cops there. Usually. Usually I will say kind of polite about it, but if you are asserting their right to stay they will assert their right to drag you away in handcuffs.

Speaker 2:

Oh sure. Do like it to be honest. I guess I can kick out of it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Okay. Well, um, I know one of the things that we kind of, we've talked around but not directly addressed is the sdss national electoral uh, strategies document and the fact that they are, they are doing some, some more outreach to chapters and organizing committees around getting electoral politics work groups or committees spun up in, in chapters and um, educating or attempting to do some as much as you can when you, when you're talking to people from all 50 states about kind of the, the, the nitty gritty legal stuff around getting involved in electoral politics, like this stuff about how involved you can be in electoral campaigns. Do you find that any of that is stuff that you have had to worry about or is it because you're mostly going to meetings and making a noise and not doing campaigning or anything related to that? Is it not really touched you yet?

Speaker 5:

Oh, and and I, I do want to add, I think a lot of the people listening to this who wouldn't have seen that. So if somebody could explain what was in that document, uh, in a little bit more specifics,

Speaker 2:

I've actually got pulled out because I was just looking at it. But generally speaking, I feel that electoral politics is a tool. You know, like I said in the executive summary and that dumb in the length that it was in Maria's email about the electoral strategy, they were, you know, four core principles. And the fourth one is really the one that speaks to me and said, electrical work is an aspect of building power and it is the natural extension of other local campaigns. And that to me is the crux of this. So it's not electoral work for the sake of electro work electing a socialist of the Phaco, like flexing of Socialists. Although, you know, I'm glad that you like to see Carter. We had some victories here in Virginia last year, but for us, you know, we, we helped get Nikaya Walker elected this past fall. Um, I know folks in our chapter worked on her campaign. I personally did not put, a lot of folks did and we were glad to see her elected and now, but generally speaking, our, our, our involvement with council is a tool. So if we're, if we're looking at affordable housing, how can we get counsel should give us the outcome that we want rather than electing someone that we think will do, right.

Speaker 1:

You're affecting the person that's already there. Rather than attempting to put somebody in that you then hope will obey what they said that they would do.

Speaker 2:

And even getting the kind of elections was important. And I do think that that she's going to be a good partner for us. But again, getting them elected is not the be all end all. We have to continue to, to work with them and end effect their votes on things that we, that we're already working on. So, you know, not, not electing them and trusting them to carry out them the local campaign, but engaging in that work ourselves and engaging with them electorally as a tool for that campaign.

Speaker 1:

I admit I rapidly became, I'm a cynic on the power of as voting as you maybe able just tell from my accent. I'm not originally from the United States. And so my ability to vote is something that I really only got recently. And the speed with which I went from, Ooh, my civic duty, I'm going to, I'm going to vote my conscience and I'm, I'm going to change the world. And then like, oh, okay, yeah, if this could have actually chose, changed anything, it wouldn't be legal for me to do it. So that's the kind of the angle that I'm coming from. And that's why when I tend to get involved with electoral politics stuff, it is more as somebody yelling at a city meeting, then somebody doing, doing canvassing or campaigning, but diversity of tactics. So

Speaker 2:

I feel the same way. You know, you can get, you can get them elected, but if you want them to behave once they're there, you gotta be standing near seat, you know who've been hollering.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Because once, once they've got your vote there, they are there. They really have no reason to actually do what they said they do unless you have elected somebody who has a conscience and morals and we'll actually do that. And I don't think the system is really set up to empower people to do that.

Speaker 2:

And on the local level though, you have so much more power to do that. I mean, I can't to Tom Garrett House and yell at him a little. I guess I could, but I'd probably be arrested. But you know, people, people like our representative Tom Garret hide from us. The last time I saw him I was hiding in the bathroom. Marcelo looking out the window when his motorcade pulled up for a private press conference that was not announced publicly and that was the closest I've been to him recently, which is the third. But I could get close to my city council, I can make them hear me. And that has, that has a lot of power. You know, it's, it's the one place where you can affect change without being important or rich. You know, I don't have to, to expend a lot of funds to get close to them. And that's been powerful.

Speaker 5:

Well, and I think, you know what you were saying before about harm reduction is, is a really important point. You know, we just recorded the second episode, uh, or the, the second part of value, price and profit on our other show. Mark's headroom, plug, plug, plug. But in it, uh, you know, reading through value, price and profit, I sort of came to the, the realization that I think that dealing with the state, you know, the capital s state, whatever level it is at is just as important, I think as dealing with the individual business owners and businesses themselves in the form of different, you know, trade unions or collective bargaining, these kinds of things. Because the state as an organ of bourgeois control over a society that the is, they're basically performing to outsourced functions of the businesses themselves. So just in the same way that we would collectively bargain and extract concessions out of a, a, a business, we can do much the same with the state. And the way that we would do that is functionally the same. Uh, you know, by pooling our sort of like collective meager resources in the form of our, our actual bodies because that's how we can affect politics and, and basically demanding change or we will essentially withdraw our support from the system. These, these are sort of the things that I had been, uh, you know, thinking about as I've been doing a study and I think what you're saying about harm reduction reductions is essentially that

Speaker 2:

that's an entry point to look at it. Yeah, we have, we have to build power outside the state and you know, make change in those ways. But we really do, we can't afford to not engage and bargain and it's dirty as it feels to, to engage in this process. You do have to show up and make those concessions and to have those negotiations, you know, at our, at our most recent counsel meeting, they were discussing, you know, it sounds very on its surface, the updates to the ordinances surrounding special events permitting, right. That sounds mind numbingly dull and, and bureaucratic. But what they're trying to do is make it harder to get a permit to assemble in the city of Charlottesville because I guess this, the state is naive enough to think that Nazis will get permits and abide by the regulations. Right. Um, as though changes to those permitting regulations sort of stopped Spencer or Tesla or any of those guys. But you have to show up and you have to have this negotiation with them because these changes will end up hurting us the most. If we haven't been present exercise nor heckler's veto, they would have passed the ordinance unamended which would have said, um, gatherings of 10 or more people are a crime, 10 feet, 10 people. That's fucking dystopian. So you have to show up and you have to negotiate. You have to, you know, like you said, pull your resources, put your body's in that room and raise your voice because otherwise, you know, 10 comrades walking down the downtown mall is an arrestable offense.

Speaker 1:

I have a suspicion I know what kinds of groups of people that would have been enforced egg against predominantly. Yeah.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. Cause you know that kind of thing gets, almost didn't need to be rolled into quote unquote gang task force work.

Speaker 2:

Right. Which we have a lot of here are jaded task force, um, arrest hundreds of people of color on trumped up charges every year. And again, Charlottesville, half the population's like 48,000. We're a really small town for this kind of policing.

Speaker 1:

You were talking about how, you know, it's really important that as well as doing all the other stuff, we also show off and show people that, you know, we are, we are paying attention and that um, you know, you push back against against shit. And when you were saying that I was, I was thinking well with a defeatist psi, it feels like there is nothing that we can let slide. Like we have to be doing mutual aid, we have to be doing direct action, we have to be doing electoral politics, we have to be doing education, we have to be doing outreach, we have to be doing every single fucking thing. And I'm going to be everywhere. Yeah. And that normally I'm really optimistic about the fact that we can win, but the sheer amount of shit that you have to do is, um, so, uh, how do you stay positive?

Speaker 2:

Oh God. Yeah. Yeah, that's a great question. It's like you said, it's exhausting and you have to be everywhere. I mean, I haven't had a full time day job since last summer. I was doing some consulting work for a while, but now I'm just straight up on employee, but it's kind of a bummer. But I have a lot of free time and I feel like I'm working full time on this. I mean, it's, it's every day. It's exhausting. And I know I'm not the only one. Um, but there, there have been some successes. You know, that the budgeting process has been hunting mind numbingly dull. I don't have a head for this. Um, some comrades in our chapter are really brilliant at this. Um, Michael, our social media coordinator is, I'm brilliant at this budgeting 70, he's working with an a nonmember in the community on participatory budgeting and we were able to agitate to get it on the budget for fiscal year 19 and it's not huge. It's$100,000 with an ad allocated for participatory budgeting. You know, it's no million dollars per district like New York house, but it's something, and this is, this is a huge victory. It's going to get people in the community on two committees to decide how to spend their money. And that's going to, that's going to get people involved. It's going to get money spent, some projects people care about. And that's, that's huge. I'm really excited about that. You have to keep an eye on the victory. Um, and some of those victories really have a ripple effect because if you look at, um, Austin Dsa recently had a victory, they agitated with their city council and successfully got mandatory paid sick leave for all businesses in the city of Austin. Uh, which is enormous because Austin, right. But the ripple effect of that is a lot of companies that have offices in Austin and other places will likely adopt that policy at their other offices. So this will ripple out out of that community. Even these local changes can make a difference in people's lives.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And even if as you say, but the example of the parking lot spaces, even if you don't win, you still shed some light and showed that you are there and um, spooked people. Spooked.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Pr spoke. So I uh, because I have this massive amount of spare time I have, um, taken up live tweeting all of the meetings that I'm, that I'm able to attend and it turns out for out of our five city council members at least occasionally read them. I was at that, at that all day budget meeting that I was at recently during one of the recesses, one of our council members to have the fiber are friendly towards us. So one of our, one of our allies approached me during the recess instead. A, you know, Mike's pretended to take notes on his computer, but he's reading, your tweets aren't former mayor was sitting in a meeting reading my tweets about the meeting that he was sitting in. It's little, but it's, it's hilarious. You know, they're, they're taking notice. They know we're watching.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's wild. Also. Sounds like maybe a little bit of an opportunity to, to stealthily radicalized him via some language in your tweets maybe.

Speaker 2:

Oh, he's a neo liberal shell. He's, yeah, he's a mess.

Speaker 1:

I was going to say, and, or, um, passive aggressively sub tweet him. Every tweet that I make is passively aggressively sub tweeting capitalism. Just, just so you know,

Speaker 2:

who shall remain anonymous has a, um, and satire account of, of Mike Sager. It's very accurate. I think it's very fair.

Speaker 1:

Nice.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. And, and I think one of the other things is that being involved in electoral campaigns, even in a little bit of a bigger way, can be a, uh, a proof of our power. Uh, you know, getting, getting someone who is particularly reactionary out of city council by way of mobilizing a potentially nonvoter voting base. You know, people who would typically not be engaged in the process at all. Even if they might just, Oh, just tick off a name, I might've heard that name before. Um, you know that that can also be like a proof of the actual, uh, of our actual organizing capability. Even if even if some people don't think that it is necessarily a benefit, it's towards the larger liberation goals.

Speaker 2:

So and, and showing up and showing our power is, I think it is having an impact here. I know we had no, we have matters by the public at the beginning of every council meeting and on the anniversary of Fred Hampton staff made a comrade take the mic and read some selected Fred Hampton clothes and we had white lib on their feet cheering for socialism in city council chambers. I mean, it's incredible focus of folks out here, radicalize them,

Speaker 5:

white liberals cheering on Fred Hampton. Sounds implausible to me.

Speaker 2:

I am going to find, I'm going to find the video clip of, of Dave leading the entire chambers in a call and response of Assata Shakur cores. It is our duty to fight for our freedom. I'm was crying y'all. It was beautiful.

Speaker 1:

Oh yes. That sounds, that sounds astounding.

Speaker 5:

I actually did see that. That was a, that was your chapter.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, right. In Council chambers. So there are horrible yellow seats and seventies architecture.

Speaker 5:

Huh. Okay, cool. Uh, I think we'll have to put some of these links in the show notes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Uh, definitely links to the, to that call and response and, um, maybe a sample if you're live tweeting a meeting and the satire account. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. We got some good, some good kind of out here.

Speaker 5:

Uh, so, so rolling back to the DSA national, if you, if that's something you're comfortable sort of talking about a on a podcast, where do you, where do you see that as both Ba, you know, effective and worthwhile in pursuing and, and where is that sort of breaking down as being, as, as kind of like wasting our time and energy on the, the kind of politics that are at best and rarely, um, harm mitigation.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's tough. Um, I guess just to sort of walk the line here, I see it as a waste of my time because it's not in my, it's not my passion, it's not my area of expertise and I personally am kind of a cynic about it. Um, but I do know folks who are really passionate and knowledgeable about it and I respect that and I respect their work. I just don't want to sit through that meeting.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. We, we may have some more electorally minded or closer to liberal recovering liberals who feel more at home in that kind of environment and feel like there is more that they can do there then they could do in other areas of, of work. Obviously I feel like one of the things that we as, as common rights should be doing is helping each other grow our experience and become confident in other areas. But if somebody knows that they are never going to then ever going to want to know how to do wheat pasting posters and that's never going to be something that they're doing or I know that I'm never going to want to know how to run a political campaign. And that's just a hard limit for me. We should, we should respect that. But also expanding our horizons

Speaker 5:

and, and to, to add to that, I think for me personally, uh, the, the way that I look at it is that for those who really believe more in politics sort of as, as a vehicle for positive social change, I personally don't think that throwing a lot of our time, effort and resources into big national campaigns is, is an effective use of those resources. And I think that for those who really believe in the political process, they and we all will be much better served if they redirect that, um, that passion into more local campaigns. Especially right now because like the social, like the socialist left the, you know, the actual anticapitalists left is very, very small still. Like we, we don't have real basis of power yet. Like those are, those are still being a work. We're still working on that. And, and when you, when you look at a small base of power are trying to affect things on a national level, you're starting to talk about things like the Green party. Like God bless their souls, but they really aren't doing anything other than like showing up every four years and saying, hey, we're wacky. Vote for us. You know? And, and I think that if you really want to be in pop involved in politics, be involved in politics in your community and then you as you basically turn your community to a much more socialistic mindset, that is, that is the way that we will build an effective power base that will be strong enough to essentially with Stan recuperation into the Democratic or whatever, the left Liberal Party is going to be five, 10 years down the road because Lord knows the Democrats could implode in a day now.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Well when you think of direct action, people were talking about wanting to get involved in direct action. If you think of it like a pyramid, you know, the very, very tiny top of that pyramid is the actual action taking to the streets and agitating. And that's what people want. That's the glamorous, sexy part of it, right? But there's that whole bottom of the pyramid, but it's base building and planning and communications and support work and logistics. The shit that nobody wants to do, the Little Red Hen shit. I think it's the same with electoral politics. People want to go straight to that. The top of the pyramid, they want to let you national candidates to, for the socialist agenda. But if you haven't done that base building work and haven't done that local at Paul work, if it doesn't, don't that base, that bottom of that pyramid, you're not going to work. We tend to take to, the streets are going to get arrested and it's going to be no bail fund to come get you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. But that stuff is the stuff that's sexy. So that's the stuff that people focus on, on the topic of, you know, even local organizing. It's the, uh, it's the prestige stuff that people want to sign up for or it's the prestige stuff that some comrades want to sign up for and think about signing up for and aren't really thinking about the lower level stuff that's necessary. I have noticed from having conversations with fellow, um, non Malcolm rates,

Speaker 2:

you know, unless you're, unless you're showing up to those tree committee meetings, you know, it's when you can't go straight to the top.

Speaker 1:

[inaudible] while we're talking about national campaigns and national electoral politics, I would like to touch for a moment on the Medicare for all campaign to highlight something that I don't think national and Foy has really highlighted and it's a pity which is that Oregon is a big deal for the healthcare fights right now. There is the Oregon experiment of, of altering the way that healthcare is provided and um, in medical health insurance is provided and they just had a special election a couple of months about the, I think it was the medicaid expansion and there's not really getting that much attention. I think perhaps because it's so geographically far away from where most of the thinking about m four a happens. And to tie that back to two other electoral politics, do you see that your hyper local political stuff, do you see that actually getting attention from other areas, either other comrades in other areas of the state or even other leftists in your area of seeing what you're doing and get amplifying it? That is definitely not me. Fishing for compliments or you'd saying like, yes, you are doing it, but I mean other other people say,

Speaker 2:

let me, for better or worse, Charlottesville have some name recognition now. So I think we get more attention than we might otherwise if not for the events of last summer. But I think people, if people saw that we elected Nikaya Walker, we elected a black female independent mare, she got more votes than any, any city council candidate in the history of the city. Not just in that race, but more votes than any candidate ever in that, in that race for the city I'm in, she ran as an independent. I think people see that and there's, there's change coming in that front. Um, you know, not, not to sound hype on electoral politics, but, um, I think, I think people see Charlottesville mostly, um, for what happened here, but also because we're doing now, we're doing good work here. Um, but in terms of of Medicare for all, um, you know, again, not to, not to sound like a huge snake. I do think it's important campaign. I don't to be honest with you on it, I'm not out here knocking doors for it. Um, we live in a state where our democratic governor won't even talk about expanding medicaid. So I just don't know what there is to gain knocking on people's doors. Talking about a pipe dream if we're going to knock doors and have a listening campaign is going to be about more local issue. But what we are doing actually is, um, we're working with the, the state organizer for the Ram Clinics, um, remote area medical clinics. And our chapter is going to do some, you know, some hands on mutual aid, um, volunteering at those medical clinics that go to rural areas where there is no hospital and providing direct care.

Speaker 1:

Oh that's,

Speaker 2:

no, no it's not, it's not door knocking, but it's um, I think it's, it's a way to not advantage of, I, you know, we're not going to use that opportunity to out to hand out read literature, but I think when you're talking to people who the system has failed so fucking spectacularly, it's going to come up naturally and I think that's going to be a good opportunity to, to get out there and talk to people about how the system is failing them.

Speaker 1:

We recently just released, well as we recording this, we recently released an episode. I'm talking with uh, three comrades from the DSA medics on a committee. It's not official, but the DSA medics group. Yeah, they're good folks. Yeah. I see. Since we are in Geo hell and stuff is just getting Geo Helia. I see that we will need to be able to care for each other in multiple ways. And having layperson or you know, nonprofessional that are also there, are available to, if not practice medicine, then at least do some healing work. Maybe I am really in not in an optimistic mood today. I apologize. Welcome to my world. This is where, this is the level where I live. This, this is unfamiliar to me and I don't like it.

Speaker 2:

I think this, this topic lends itself to that sort of cynicism cause you know, we're talking about a fight that we can't win. And that's what, that's why it really is. I'm to keep coming back to it at harm reduction because we're not going to win in the electoral fight, not anytime soon, nine my lifetime. Um, but we have to engage with it in a way to just keep it at arm's length. We can keep hiding on the side,

Speaker 1:

focus on the fact that we are winning, not we have one, that this is an ongoing journey and perhaps all we're doing right now is just reducing harm. But through that process, you are learning how to affect change. You are reaching out to other people. You are becoming a better organizer. You're helping other people become better organizers and become better activists and better socialists and add a human beings. And even if that shit had got his parking spaces, he didn't have the 100% excellent day that he otherwise would have done.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. You know, it embarrassed to publicly, it costs him a few extra hours, the lawyers time and it, and it changed the next boat and it brought a lot of community attention. And I think we're building a lot of community solidarity. Yes. This isn't purely left 12 words, but another thing I've been able to do with, with all of my spare time is a lot of observation. And again, that's, that's a place where having the physical ability to show up makes an incredible difference. You know, studies show that just having, um, an observer in the courtroom affects the way bond this, that effects anything. And it is, it believes the spirits of your comrades who are being abused by the state know. Sadly, we have somebody in court almost every week, you know, lingering charges from this past summer, whether it be, you know, getting arrested in city council or obstructing the path of the clan of our clan rally in July. I think all those charges have been heard by now. It's ongoing and it's abusive and being able to be physically present is, is important there too. And they'll just building that community solidarity.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Well we are coming up on an hour of recording now. So this is around about where we start to wind down and ask, is there anything that you would like to cover that we haven't already asked you about or is there anything you would like to plug that we haven't already helped you? Uh, naturally weave into the narrative that you've been spinning?

Speaker 2:

We got all my, all my big points are very deal. Our CRB or participatory budgeting. How are, you know, we've done some good work in council where we're getting there.

Speaker 1:

Where can come right to or listening to this, find out more about your chapter and about the work that y'all are doing. Is that something where they can follow you on Twitter or Facebook or a website tonight?

Speaker 2:

Follow our chapter at Sebille Dsa on Twitter. How do we do a Facebook page? I think it's just Charlottesville Bsa. Shout out to our social media manager, Michael. Our Twitter is one of the more informative chapter. Twitter's, I think that exists. Um, he does a great job at deteriorating, very informative active feed. My own feed is mostly just dumb shit. Posting at City Council and pictures of my dogs, not what you could also find if you want that socialist dog mom, which is a very accurate brand.

Speaker 5:

It's a very good Twitter feed. I can personally vouch for that.

Speaker 2:

Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you very much for, for coming on and talking to us and congratulations on the change that you have that you've made and um, fingers crossed on becoming a chapter soon as well.

Speaker 2:

Fabulous. We just need to incorporate, you've got to start selling and merge.

Speaker 1:

Got to tap into that capitalism. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I tell you what, yeah. If we've, if we've got to have the name recognition that comes with being the site of white supremacists, terror attack, we might as well make some money off of it.

Speaker 1:

That was the most social person I could have said, but I stand by it. Yeah. The, the issue of money relating to, to those attacks is a whole different ball of wax that I don't think we're equipped to think about

Speaker 2:

to pay out of pocket for private meeting space because it's not safe for us to meet in places where we can't eject agitators. So we do need to bring in some money.

Speaker 1:

All right. Well if by the time we put this up, you'll have um, fundraising or whatever available. We'll put it in the show notes and then if, and when you do, if it's after the episode, I'm sure will, we'll share it around as well.

Speaker 2:

I appreciate it and just let it have all the parts where I sounded dumb. If he could,

Speaker 1:

uh, if we, I just did out all the parts where one of us sounded like we didn't know what we were talking about. It would be a 32nd episode. Yeah. I mean, you just wouldn't have the podcast left the theme music, but not necessarily you. I mean, I mean, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 5:

Before we sign off, I just do want to like sort of leave out there. Personally, I'm, I'm not entirely convinced that electorial politics does anything but prevent us from dying faster. But yeah. You know, for one way or another, it's a tool that I think we have to, that, that we do have to make use of. So

Speaker 2:

I think a lot of this is me trying to pep talk myself into, they engage with it because I feel the same way.

Speaker 5:

And here I was just about to take you for your hard work.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for all your hard work and your pep talks. Yes.

Speaker 2:

You can help you gotta lie to yourself. You've got to keep doing it, right. Yeah. You don't leave with a joyous moments of getting to explain to your city council members what the tide pod.

Speaker 6:

And on that note, that note going to be in solidarity comrades.

Speaker 7:

Yeah. Yeah.