New Party Celebrates Spring Wins

New Party members scored some successes in spring elections as they won races for a Chicago state representative district, the Hempstead, N.Y. school board and the Pulaski County Quorum Court in Little Rock, Ark. Willie Delgado and his New Party supporters defeated the conservative Democratic machine candidate in the March primary by 241 votes in Chicago.

In her first electoral outing, April Jones-White won a five-way race for a seat on the Hempstead School Board. Hempstead has a reputation as one of the worst school systems in the state. The NP, which only got off the ground in Hempstead eight months ago, supports an aggressive campaign for more reading programs, a more advanced curriculum and greater parental involvement in the schools.

In Little Rock, NP's Donna Massey rebounded from her runoff defeat two years ago to win a seat on the Pulaski County Quorum Court by a runaway 1,351-483 vote. Massey, who comes out of the ACORN community organization, joins NP (and CWA) member Jayne Cia as the fledgling progressive New Party caucus on the Quorum Court. Also, NP and NEA leader Lou Ethel Nauden forced long-term officeholder John Lewellen into a run-off for a state legislative seat.

In Portland, Ore., first-time candidate Serena Cruz led a six-person race for a Multnomah County Commission district seat. She polled 35% of the vote, or twice her closest competitor in the six-person race, putting her in an excellent position for the runoff. New Party member Martin Gonzalez mobilized 50 volunteers wearing sign-boards and leafletting at the polls and on street corners May 19 to start a petition drive to put a new party, called "All People Count," on the November ballot. Gonzalez plans to run for state representative.

IPPN Pursues Coalitions

The Independent Progressive Politics Network, meeting in Oakland, Calif., the weekend of June 12-14 for the fourth annual National Independent Politics Summit, decided to move forward on a grassroots-based alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties.

The summit decided:

* to organize a national meeting bringing together progressive third parties and other groups to explore the possibilities for working together electorally in the year 2000, including a possible coalitional independent presidential campaign;

* to reach out to a cross-section of progressive organizations to develop a "year 2000 Campaign for Justice, Survival and Independent Alternatives," to include a projected spring 2000 mobilization in support of a progressive agenda;

* to pull together a 1998 national slate of independent progressive candidates; and

* to reaffirm its ongoing commitment to advance the National People's Pledge Campaign to reach out to people who have dropped out of participation in electoral politics or support independent progressive politics.

More than 160 participants came from 17 states and over 60 organizations. For more information, call IPPN, PO Box 170610, Brooklyn, NY 11217, phone 718-624-7807; email indpol@igc.apc.org.

Four Quit Alliance Council

Four members of the National Council of the Alliance for Democracy have quit the 26-member council, citing long-standing conflicts and differing views of how the two-and-a-half-year-old organization should be structured and what it should be doing. In a 4,200-word joint letter released on the Alliance for Democracy email list June 5 to explain the reasons behind their resignation, Jim Bush of Birmingham, Ala.; Nancy Campbell of Columbia, Mo.; Mike Givel, Vice Co-Chair from Columbia, Mo.; and Marian Lowe, from Seattle, Wash., stated, "We believe that the AfD should be committed to developing democratic structures that both allow effective action and encourage the widest possible participation in decision making. ... At the present time, however, the Alliance functions according to a centralized model in which most decisions are made by a few and then ratified by the rest of the organization." In a brief response the National Council on June 17 said it would consider the comments and wished the four well. For more information contact Nancy Campbell, phone 573-442-6792 email ncampb01@mail.coin.missouri.edu or Alliance Secretary Vikki Savee at 916-448-5687, email mvsavee@tomatoweb.com.

Organic Advocates Regroup

A record 220,000 consumers contacted the USDA this spring to oppose bogus rules on organic foods and another 100,000 called members of Congress to protest the "unfriendly takeover" of organics on behalf of the corporate special interests who dominate industrial agriculture. The USDA on May 8 backed off on three of the most outrageous proposed rules (allowing genetic engineering, toxic sewage sludge, and nuclear irradiation under the "USDA Organic" label) but Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association warned that USDA bureaucrats still plan to publish legally binding final rules in late 1998 or 1999 that will allow large corporate factory farms to market their products as "USDA Organic." So organic food advocates are proceeding with an effort to join with leading organic certifiers and organic retailers to establish a set of strict national and internationally recognized organic standards and labels that promote sustainable organic farms independent of the USDA. To force the USDA to let the organic community regulate itself under its own internationally recognized rules will require another grassroots mobilization, Cummins said. To participate, contact the Organic Consumers Association, 175 County Road 6, Finland, MN 55603; phone 218-226-4792; email: oca@purefood.org; website http://www.purefood.org.

SHORT TAKES--In 1997, unions won 50.3 percent of National Labor Relations Board representation elections, up from 47.7 percent in 1996, according to BNA Plus, which analyzed NLRB data. ... The Senate in late June was expected to debate S.778, The African Growth and Opportunity Act, also known as "NAFTA for Africa." It allows unlimited, duty-free shipment of textiles and apparel into the U.S. -- even if the clothes are merely shipped from Asia through Africa. The bill also calls for negotiation of an African free-trade agreement similar to NAFTA. ... California voters smashed Proposition 226 that would have silenced the political voice of working families. A Los Angeles Times exit poll showed 64 percent of union households voted against the measure to defund unions. The unions were helped by the 75 percent support of Hispanic voters, who amounted to 12 percent of the electorate. Without the Latino vote against the proposition, the Times poll showed, the measure would have been a dead heat. ... The Camden County, N.J., Freeholder Board unanimously adopted a resolution against sweatshops May 21. The resolution sets criteria for the purchase of goods and services by the county, gives preference to goods made in the U.S.A. and requires a "certification of compliance" stating that workers are paid a living wage and have the right to form unions without retaliation.

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