Wednesday, February 10, 2010

From City Hall to City Streets: AMIKAS outreach on Tuesday February 9th

Wednesday February 10th, 2010 (San Diego)


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of accompanying Jeeni Criscenzo to two appointments in to offices of City Hall. We brought AMIKAS information to the Chief of Staff of Councilmember Tony Young, where we met with Mr. James Slack and Mr. Bruce Williams. Later, we had a separate meeting with Ms. Raquel Maden, a policy advisor to Councilmember Ben Hueso.

Jeeni (left, at City Hall) brought a copy of her professional-grade AMIKAS business plan, which has carefully calculated budgets, timelines, and goals for creating a sustainable working neighborhood in San Diego.

With the vision of AMIKAS, nearly 2000 human beings who currently live on the streets, in shelters, or in their cars could be housed and provided with the opportunity to work towards their own betterment and that of their community.

After sharing the business plan and AMIKAS concept with City Hall, (see photos of meeting with Mr. Sack and Williams in the Councilmember Young office) Jeeni went out on 9th Avenue and talked to San Diegans living on the streets.

These included a young ex-Marine named Matt with a leg injury, and his "mother" -- an older homeless woman who looks after their small cluster. Their small bivouac in the East side of Broadway area was abuzz with tales their own organizing activity among the homeless -- this impoverished group were collecting money to help a penniless young woman, abandoned by a new husband, to get Greyhound ticket back to her mom Tyler, Texas.

The "family" on the sidewalk, with gear, blankets, and puppies, proudly talked about having already helped each other stay safe, dry, clothed and fed. (Photo of Jeeni with "Mom" and "Matt", wearing his Marine battle dress trousers aka "BDU" - where you can see the USMC logo, in detail.)

A cold wet sidewalk - or a jail cell - a possible penalty for "obstructing" the sidewalk - is hardly a place for such energetic warmth and humanity.

To help Matt the Injured Marine, his "Street Mom," their ersatz family unit, and hundreds of other self-assembling street families like them, AMIKAS needs a space of about 75 acres of arable land in a quiet place not to urban but not too far from Downtown and mass transit.

We may have found the perfect location at an Executive Golf Course near University of San Diego, where the City has land. The golf course and open space is for the purpose of recreation.

It is very apt that the City documents specifies the critical importance of public lands as being for "recreation" -- or "re-creation" if you change the emphasis. It is high time that San Diego considers a way to "re-create" itself, and AMIKAS will be foundational aspect of the "Recreation of San Diego."

With the waves of an economic tsunami beginning to rise, with 10,000 people on the streets and in shelters -- San Diego' social services simply cannot absorb new people into too-few beds, and too few jobs.

Forget the hope of a "bailout" -- the State is bankrupt, the City is too, and our city and region will have to bail ourselves out -- or more accurately, not "out" -- but rather "Up." The old ways have been tried, and we need an Addendum to our skill-set of living. The "old ways" aren't wrong, they are merely insufficient to meet the task.

A "bail-UP" --and by stroke of the pen (or 5 pens, precisely) it's do-able. We need to start by getting the AMIKAS plan on the November 2010 ballot. Jeeni and AMIKAS board members will continue meeting with un-housed San Diegans, City Council representative, the Regional Task Force on Homelessness, the Girls Think Tank, and other stakeholders.

Mike Copass
AMIKAS Secretary

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Will Congressmen Bilbray, Issa & Hunter support Obama's War Funding Request?

Obama Seeks Record $708 Billion in Defense Budget

President Barack Obama on Monday asked Congress to approve a record $708 billion in defense spending for fiscal year 2011, including a 3.4 percent increase in the Pentagon's base budget and $159 billion to fund U.S. military missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The White House budget request also included $33 billion in additional funding for fiscal 2010 to pay for increasing military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and drawing down U.S. forces in Iraq. That comes on top of $129.6 billion already provided for the current fiscal year, which ends September 30.

The Pentagon's base budget request of $549 billion is up $18 billion from $531 billion in fiscal 2010, and will pay for continued reforms of defense acquisitions, development of a ballistic missile defense system and care of wounded soldiers.

The budget also calls for cancellation of several major weapons programs, including Boeing Co's C-17 transport plane, saving $2.5 billion, and a second engine for the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet, saving $465 million in fiscal 2011 and more than $1 billion longer-term. The White House tried to kill both programs last year, but lawmakers revived them during the budget process.

The second engine is being developed by General Electric Co and Britain's Rolls-Royce as an alternate to the main engine built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

The proposed budget also kills plans for development of a new Navy cruiser, scraps plans to replace the Navy's EP-3 intelligence aircraft and halts work on a missile early-warning satellite, opting instead to upgrade the Space Based Infrared System satellite already being developed by Lockheed.

The budget proposal also calls for a delay in replacing two new Navy command and control shops until after 2015, a move the White House said would save $3.8 billion across the Pentagon's five-year defense plan. The Navy had planned to buy one command ship in 2012, and a second one in 2014.

Procurement of a new amphibious vehicle being built by General Dynamics Corp for the Marine Corps would be delayed by one year, saving $50 million in fiscal 2011 and cutting risk by allowing more time for testing.

The Pentagon also said it would further reduce its use of high-risk contracts in areas that related to time, material and labor hours by 17 percent through the end of 2011.

The budget underscored the administration's commitment to a "robust defense against emerging missile threats," saying it would pay for use of increasingly capable sea- and land-based missile interceptors and a range of sensors in Europe.

The Pentagon's budget continues to fund new weapons already under development, including the F-35 fighter, a new ballistic missile submarine, a new family of ground vehicles and the P-8 surveillance aircraft built by Boeing.

It will also pay for more unmanned planes, helicopters, electronic warfare capabilities and cybersecurity measures.

Overall, the budget includes $112.8 billion for weapons procurement, up from $104.8 billion in fiscal 2010, and $76 billion for research and development, down from $80 billion.