The Bull's Eye: June 12, 2017

Welcome to the Bull’s Eye - calls to action and updates from PA’s Account-a-bull Teams. Check out our website for even more content! We’ll be doing things a little differently this summer. Between summer schedules and our growing focus on the upcoming City Council & Mayoral elections, we’ll scale back the the Bull’s Eye emails. We’ll send the emails when there are pertinent updates and calls to action, but it may not be every week.

 

(1) Action-a-bull: (things to take action on)  

SHOW UP TONIGHT - MONDAY AT 7PM (location)-  to the County Commission Budget meeting and speak out in support of public education funding and jail visitation rights! We’ve included background on these issues and suggested talking points at the bottom of this email.

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We've got 3 important actions for you this week:

  1. Thank our City Council members for their votes promoting affordable housing and living wages,

  2. Call our Senators and tell them to vote NO on Trumpcare,

  3. Attend tonight's County Commission meeting to speak out for public education and jail visitation rights


Details for each action:

(1) Thank our City Council members for their votes promoting affordable housing, paid leave, and living wages. 


It’s important that our City Council members know we’re paying attention and appreciate the work they’re doing to make Durham a more progressive, just place for us all to live. Email them at council@durhamnc.gov to thank them for:

  • Paid leave. We appreciate that our City Council are leaders among NC municipalities in making sure that all city employees have access to paid family leave and for including this in the 17-18 budget.

  • Living wages. This is still in process, but it's also worth thanking the Council (Steve Schewel and Don Moffitt, in particular) for working with the staff and city manager's office to make sure that all part-time City staff (seasonal and non-seasonal) are being paid the city's living wage and for planning to make any adjustments in next year's budget to fund this, if necessary.

  • Investing in affordable homes by:

    • Doubling the Penny for Housing,

    • Helping lower income homeowners with big increases in property taxes,

    • Funding affordable housing at the Durham Station and Fayetteville St.  

  • Also let them know that we encourage City Council to:

    • Prioritize very low income residents,

    • Keep homes affordable long-term,

    • Work with community groups to help residents stay in their homes,  

    • Ensure that 15% of homes built at a transit station are affordable.

(2) Protect healthcare - Call Senators Burr and Tillis

  • The next few weeks are a critical moment for healthcare in our country - Call Burr ((202) 224-3154) and Tillis ((202) 224-6342) and urge them to reject any bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and tell them to vote NO on TrumpCare. Click here for a call script.

(3) TONIGHT at 7pm - attend County Commission meeting to speak out for public education and jail visitation rights

1. Fully funding public education

The commissioners will be considering the Board of Education's Proposal to fully fund our public schools. Our schools desperately need this money. This isn't extra money - this is money that is going to keep us from losing teaching and assistant principal positions, and supporting our bus drivers and support staff.

This is money we need because our state is failing to fund our schools. We are fighting an uphill battle with a state government consistently showing us that they do not prioritized public education. We will continue to hold our General Assembly responsible for what they are doing, but now is the time for Durham to stand together and make it clear that our schools are important to us, and that we will do what it takes for our kids to have the money they need.

We need the room to be full of Durham residents who support DPS to show our County Commissioners how much this means to our community.


2. Protecting in person visitation at the jail and increasing access to visitation overall.

Jail visitation policies are under the purview of Sheriff Andrews not the County Commissioners; however, as there is no similar public forum for taking concerns to the Sheriff, we encourage you to share your concerns on Monday night with the County Commissioners (a majority of whom we believe share PA’s concerns) as a way of continuing to bring visibility to this important issue.  

Background

Sheriff Andrews said in a statement to PA: “As we’ve repeatedly explained to journalists and residents, the video visitation vendor provided the Sheriff’s Office with a menu of options including revenue-generating services, but I rejected any idea of charging for onsite visitation.  We have not yet decided whether to offer remote visitation which would facilitate the ability of some persons to visit detainees, but would also include a service fee. I am always cognizant of the burden placed on the families of detainees.”

At this point we have at least two concerns about video visitation:

  1. That some space currently used for in person visitation will be dedicated to video visitation, reducing the space available and thus opportunities for people to visit in person with family or loved ones in the jail.

  2. That the jail will charge a service fee for remote visitation.  

Talking Points

  • I understand that the County Commissioners don’t determine visitation policies at the jail.  But I am here tonight because there is no other public forum for addressing my concerns to the Sheriff, and because I believe you care about this issue.

  • Improving conditions in the jail is part of making Durham a model progressive community. While there are many concerns we have about jail conditions, on this issue it means:

    • not reducing in person visitation,

    • expanding visitation where possible for those who might have difficulty traveling to the jail, and

    • keeping visitation free in all its forms.    

  • The most compelling reason to offer video visitation is to increase access for those who might have a more difficult time traveling to the jail to visit with loved ones.  If the jail invests in video visitation it should be to expand access, it should be offered free of charge, and it should not reduce or replace any current space dedicated to in person visitation.  

  • Thank you for your time and for doing whatever you can to work with the Sheriff on this important issue.

We'll see you at the County Commissioners meeting!