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For the sake of future generations, please speak up now to save the Bronx General Post Office. The USPS is moving rapidly to dispose of this iconic New Deal era building and to further erase the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt’s progressive political agenda.

The Bronx General Post Office is a jewel among our many beautiful post offices. The lobby is an everyman’s gallery of thirteen oversize murals by Ben Shahn and his wife, Bernarda Bryson Shahn. Inspired by the Walt Whitman poem I Hear America Singing and titled America’s Resources, the murals depict the dignity of those who perform manual labor.  

Credit:Hazelwood, Sances
Many post office murals are painted on canvas. The Shahns’ murals are egg tempera on plaster frescos and are considered part of the building. A fear is that if the building is sold, ownership of the murals will pass from public to private ownership. The structure itself gained entry to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The nomination documents state that “the most noteworthy features of the Bronx Post Office are the thirteen interior murals,” but unfortunately the lobby and its artwork were not landmarked.

The New York City Landmark Conservancy is working with the artist’s son, Jonathan Shahn, to urge the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the building’s public interior spaces and the historic murals that adorn them.  You can add your voice by contacting the Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Robert B. Tierney at rtierney@lpc.nyc.gov

Meanwhile the USPS has given preliminary approval to the sale of this building. The only administrative relief remaining is an appeal to the USPS Vice-President for Facilities.  Any one may make a written request for review but the request must be postmarked by Saturday, April 13, 2013.

Please send a letter of any length to this address:
USPS Vice President, Facilities
2 Congress Street, Room 8
USPS Facilities Implementation
Milford, MA 01757

Letters must be postmarked by Saturday, April 13, 2013

Some photos and more information below the line.

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Angered by the proposed sale of their historic Downtown Post Office, citizens of Berkeley, California are going to San Francisco on Tuesday, December 4th.  They have two demands. The first is that investment bankers stop profiteering from the sale of public property assigned to the Postal Service. And the second demand is that Congress stop bleeding the Postal Service dry.

Led by Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office, community members will assemble at 11:30 a.m. for a rally at 909 Montgomery in front of the offices of Blum Capital Partners.  Blum Capital is a private equity firm founded in 1976 by Richard Blum, a current regent of the University of California. Commercial real estate giant Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE) is among the many investments of Blum Capital.  In fact the Chairman of CBRE is Richard Blum.  

Poster: Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office
"The hand of Richard Blum" Graphic by Sances & Hazelwood
The Postal Service is eager to sell properties in their control to raise quick cash.  CBRE advises the USPS on what properties to sell. The properties are advertised on a joint CBRE/ USPS website and as a general rule CBRE profits again as the listing agent.

After the rally in front of Blum Capital, the marchers intend to proceed down Montgomery Street to One Post Street, the office of California Senator Dianne Feinstein.  Senator Feinstein's husband is Richard Blum.

Newspaper headlines read "The Post Office is Going Broke".  Truth: The Postal Service is being bled dry by a law passed in the 2006 lame duck session of Congress.  

Senator Feinstein must take a lead in changing the 2006 law.

The USPS is managed by an independent Board of Governors of 11 members.  Nine are appointed by the President, no more than five from one political party.  There are three vacancies on the Board. Of the six presidential appointments, only one was appointed by President Barack Obama.  The term of office of Dennis Toner, Obama's sole appointee, expires December 8, 2012.

Elections must have consequences.  Surely the President should be able to make appointments to the USPS Board of Governors and just as surely Senator Dianne Feinstein must reconsider her qualms on filibuster reform. We are entitled in this democracy to have judges, agency administrators and Postal Service governors appointed by the President that we elected in 2008 and re-elected this November.


Rally and March from Blum Capital to the Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein,
11:30 a.m. Tuesday, December 4, 2012.
Rally starts at Blum Capital, 909 Montgomery St (at Pacific), San Francisco,
and then marches to Senator Feinstein’s office at One Post Street near Montgomery and Market Street.


"We will confront Richard Blum about his selling of our public property!"  
"We well ask Senator Feinstein to act to save our post offices!"
More below the orange squiggle.
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Congressman Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings
As the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Maryland Congressmann Elijah Cummings has one of the most difficult jobs in Washington.  Since California Congressman Darrell Issa gained the chair of the Committee in 2010 he has used his position in an extreme partisan manner to obstruct President Obama and the functioning of government.  On Friday, October 19th, with the release of 166 pages of sensitive but unclassified State Department communications, Issa compromised the identities of several Libyans working with the U.S. government.

Several DailyKos diarists have reported the story and today Chicago Mayor (and former White House Chief of Staff) Rahm Emmanuel spoke out against Issa on This Week:

“I have also worked in Congress where you have an oversight responsibility.  And with that oversight responsibility comes responsibility,” Emanuel said. “And what Darrell Issa did by releasing names in that entire document of individuals who are working with America, put people at risk in Libya, and people around the world will now know that you’re at risk if you cooperate with the United States. That office, that chairmanship of that committee comes with responsibility.  And you can not act reckless with it. ”
As early as October 11, Congressman Cummings wrote to Issa to condemn his irresponsible handling of sensitive and classified information:
“I have grave concerns about the way yesterday’s hearing devolved into a disorganized, partisan, and absurd spectacle when it should have been a serious and responsible investigation of the attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans,” wrote Cummings.  

As Chairman of the Committee—and particularly as a former Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence—you have an obligation and a responsibility to ensure that classified information is protected during proceedings before the Oversight Committee,” wrote Cummings.  “Yet, it was obvious to anyone watching yesterday’s hearing that Committee Members had no way to determine what information was classified or unclassified.”

Congressman Issa did not respond to Cummings October 11th letter.
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The New York Times reported today on the contest in Iowa's new Fourth Congressional District between Republican nut-case Steve King and Democratic challenger Christie Vilsack. The Times article states that "Despite the long odds (Christie Vilsack) began with, the race is a tossup, according to recent polling. If she prevails, Mrs. Vilsack will become the first woman Iowa has sent to Washington."  And, further...
Because of Mrs. Vilsack’s surprising rise, Republicans have had to scramble to Mr. King’s defense, fattening up his campaign staff with aides from Gov. Terry Branstad’s office and spending money on advertising in a district they were hoping not to bother with.
The article also points out that it's not just in Iowa that Tea Party stars are in trouble:
Like Mr. King, Tea Party candidates across the country in districts with a mix of voters are finding a far less hospitable environment this time, especially in swing states. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is in a tight race with a deep-pocketed Democrat, though officials in both parties put her chances of returning to Washington as better than Mr. King’s. Representative Mike Coffman of Colorado and Representative Allen West of Florida are also facing head winds.

In states where the Democrats have a clear advantage in the presidential race, Tea Party-blessed incumbents like Representative Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, Representative Joe Walsh of Illinois and Representative Ann Marie Buerkle of New York are all in deep trouble.

We have an excellent opportunity to replace Steve King.  If you have the means, please contribute to Christie Vilsack's campaign.
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Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 03:23 AM PDT

Iowans rally to Christie Vilsack

by blue denim

Thanks to redistricting and Christie Vilsack, an exceptional candidate, now is the time to replace national embarrassment Steve King.  Polls show that the race has tightened.  

Today's Mason City Globe-Gazette has three letters supporting Christie Vilsack.  All are from counties that were part of the old Iowa Fourth Congressional.  King currently represents Iowa's Fifth Congressional District.  While the letters of course represent only an individual opinion, I think it's important to recognize that many Iowans have no use for King's antics.

If you have the means please consider contributing to Christie Vilsack's campaign.

Continue below the orange squiggle for the letters.

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Think Progress reports from last night's debate in Hampton, Iowa, between Republican Congressman (and horrible human) Steve King.  

"Are we going to turn America in the right direction?
"Are we going to turn America’s destiny up?
"Are we going to be the shining city on the hill that is standing clear and proud and true on those beautiful marble pillars of American exceptionalism?
"Are we going to defend this Constitution we celebrated here tonight...or are we going to watch it be eroded by a commander-in-chief who disrespects this constitution, who doesn't believe in free enterprise, doesn't believe in life and doesn't believe in families. They are core values in this country that we must defend at all costs."
Here's the video:
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Detail of Suzanne Scheuer mural, 1936-1937, lobby of the Berkeley CA Main Post Office,
Detail 1937 Scheuer mural, Berkeley Main P.O.
At 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 13th, the Post Office Subcommittee of the Berkeley City Council held a public meeting with representatives of the United States Postal Service regarding the “relocation” of the Berkeley Main Post Office and sale of the historic building at 2000 Allston Way.  Even though the meeting was held in the middle of a workday, concerned citizens filled the Council Chambers in Berkeley’s Old City Hall.

Mayor Tom Bates convened the meeting.  Two of the three councilmembers on the Post Office Subcommittee attended, Susan Wengraf and Jesse Arreguin.  Committee member Laurie Capitelli was absent.

The agenda called for brief remarks by the Post Office Subcommittee, comments by the staff of Congresswoman Barbara Lee; a power point presentation by representatives of the United States Postal Service; comments from an expert panel consisting of community leader and former Berkeley City Councilmember Ying Lee, scholars Harvey Smith and Gray Brechin, and American Postal Workers Union leader Steve Lysaght; and public comment by Berkeley citizens.  The handouts including the USPS presentation are available here.

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Jeffrey Toobin has a profile of Elizabeth Warren in the current New Yorker magazine, dated September 17, 2012.  The first two paragraphs set the scene: It's last summer and a house party is overflowing as Elizabeth Warren tests support for her run against Scott Brown for United States Senator from Massachusetts.  

Toobin's third paragraph brought me up short:

At one point, someone asked Warren if she was engaging in class warfare.  "No," she said. "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there, good for you.  But I want to be clear.  You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.  You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate."  For decades, American politicians, including many Democrats, had celebrated private enterprise and offered only tepid, almost apologetic endorsements of public goods.  Here, in contrast, was Warren's rousing defense of the welfare state.
Really?  Public streets and roads?  Public schools?  That's what we mean now by the welfare state?  

If you have the means, please contribute to Elizabeth Warren's campaign.  The alternative vision of the future is too much like a very grim page in a Charles Dickens' novel.

Discuss
Dr. Ami Bera, August 28, 2012
Dr. Ami Bera
Poll results released on Tuesday by Garin-Hart-Yang show Dr. Ami Bera in a dead heat with incumbent Congressman Dan Lungren in California's new Seventh Congressional District.
From August 21 to 23, 2012, Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group conducted a survey among a representative sample of 401 likely general election voters (the margin of error is ±5 percentage points) in California’s 7th CD.

The survey results indicate that this district is one of the best Democratic pick-up opportunities in the nation. Democrat Ami Bera is well positioned to knock off longtime Republican incumbent Dan Lungren. Bera already is TIED with Dan Lungren in the initial trial heat. Bera benefits from a Democratic tilt in the district and has much more room to grow.

When asked whom they would support in the initial trial heat for U.S.Congress, Bera and Lungren are locked in a dead heat

Three factors indicate that Ami Bera has the momentum and a good prospect of victory in his rematch with Congressman Lungren. First, Dan Lungren’s ratings on several key measurements are below the 50% mark. For example, although Lungren has 90% name recognition, his “positive” rating barely outpaces his “negative” rating (38% to 36%). Second, Ami Bera will have the advantage of solid “top-of-ticket” dynamics: President Obama is defeating Mitt Romney by 52% to 44% in the 7th CD.

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The Berkeley City Council met on Tuesday evening to consider a resolution urging the United States Postal Service to stop the sale of the Berkeley Main Post Office.

Berkeley Main Library
Berkeley's Historic Main Post Office
After hearing public comment, the Berkeley City Council agreed in a unanimous vote to issue a Resolution opposing the sale of the Main Post Office and to establish a working sub-committee composed of Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin, Sue Wengraf and Laurie Capitelli.
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The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement published a report this month that details 120 killings of Black people by police or security guards and people who appointed themselves as law enforcers.  All of the killings occurred in the first six months of 2012.  Unfortunately, the report has yet to receive the attention that it deserves.

You can link to the pdf document here: Report on the Extrajudicial Killing of Black People

Cover_landscape

Many of these killings get little media attention and when they do the emphasis is often on the alleged criminal activity or troubled background of the person who was killed.  The MXGM report views these killings as a United States human rights crisis and asks us to look at this issue in a different way:

Regardless of how these encounters begin, whether they involve activity that
violates the laws of the state or the laws of basic human decency, no one should be
sentenced to death without a trial.
The report found that 55 (or 46%) had no weapon at all at the time they were executed.  And a further 43 (or 36%) were alleged by police to have weapons (including a cane, toy gun and bb gun) but the allegation was disputed by witnesses or later investigation.

   

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A grass roots movement is growing in Berkeley, California to stop the sale of the beautiful Downtown Post Office.  Tuesday afternoon over a hundred citizens gathered on the steps of the historic 1914 building.
07_24_BerkeleyPostOffice
In between songs written for the rally, UC Berkeley Geography Professor Gray Brechin spoke of the charismatic building and how it served as a model for the thousand or so post offices that were built during the New Deal.  Post Office buildings were intended to inspire and remind each of us of our government’s commitment to the general welfare.  The Berkeley Post office has two New Deal works of art.  Even though the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the U.S. Post Office has announced its intention to sell the landmark 1914 building.

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