Malik’s Money

We got our Malik Rahim campaign sign, and it is proudly on display in front of our house.

I chatted with Christian Roselund a bit when he dropped the sign off. He informed me that Malik’s candidacy has caught the attention of many Greens across the country. Some of them are, as one might expect, a little flaky, bless ’em. But the monetary support is pouring in, and the campaign is using that money for media buys.

Therefore I read with some interest Michelle Krupa’s article in this morning’s paper, about the Republican candidate’s fund-raising efforts. After detailing Anh Joseph Cao’s financial situation and comparing it to William Jefferson’s, toward the end there is a mention of Malik’s campaign.

Jefferson’s other two challengers do not appear to have had much success raising money. Rahim reported that he collected about $2,000 from individual and corporate donors during the six-week period starting Oct. 1, and had pumped another $3,000 of this own money into the campaign. Records show he spent $900 on T-shirts.

But that is substantially less than the numbers mentioned to me by Christian. Sure enough, Christian has since confirmed by e-mail that, according to the SEC, Malik’s campaign raised a total of $10,985. He even supplies a link. He adds that by this time the campaign has raised closer to $20,000.

It’s also worth noting that Stephanie Grace’s recent opinion column made no mention of any candidate other than Cao and Jefferson.

A Letter from Malik

I’m passing the mic to Malik Rahim who has sent out the following campaign letter. — B

November 19, 2008

Dear friends in the struggle,

As you may be aware, I am seeking election to the United States House of Representatives on December 6. I apologize in advance for the impersonal nature of this letter. I wish I would have had time to call my friends to discuss the details of this campaign. I’m sending this message because I need your help.

Four days after Hurricane Katrina and two days before founding Common Ground I made this decision to run for Congress. This decision was made due to the lack of government response to Katrina. My hope is that never again will any disaster turn into such a tragedy.

This is a winnable seat; a seat not just for residents of the New Orleans area but a peoples’ seat for all those who stand for environmental peace and justice. This goal can only be reached with your support.

I will provide concrete alternatives to the wars being waged against our communities at home and to the wars continuing abroad. Our communities deserve no less. I will continue to advocate for safe, affordable housing, the establishment of universal healthcare, and invest in a comprehensive storm protection system and wetland restoration. I would initiate repeal of the so-called Patriot Act , author legislation to remove FEMA from the Department of Homeland Security, demand an end to the costly and senseless incarceration of nonviolent offenders, and advocate for full funding for our schools. Running a viable campaign requires funding.

Now with less than three weeks away, the campaign has set a goal of raising an additional $20,000 by Friday November 28. With your help we can achieve that end. You can contribute on the campaign website at www.VoteMalik.com

I also urge you to get active with our campaign. Canvass your neighborhood and tell your friends and family. If you are out of town, we need additional volunteers on election day and the week leading up to the election. You can phone bank remotely from home or promote the campaign online.

In closing, I want to remind you that I will work tirelessly for the people of District 2. But even if you are not in my Congressional District, your cause is in my heart; you will have not only a committed advocate, but an office to work out of on the Hill.

In the struggle for environmental peace and justice,

Malik Rahim

Send your donation today. Individuals may contribute up to $2300. Use the attached donor form to make as generous a donation as you can. Then forward this email to your friends, co-workers and neighbors, and be sure to Vote Malik in the December 6 election.

Please donate online at www.VoteMalik.com or make your check or money order payable to “The Committee to Elect Malik Rahim” and send to:
The Committee to Elect Malik Rahim
331 Atlantic Ave. New Orleans LA 70119

The Federal Election Commission requires the following:

* Donors must provide their name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer.
* Contributions must be from U.S. citizens or legal residents.
* Contributions to the Committee to Elect Malik Rahim are not tax deductible.
By submitting this donation, I declare that I am a US citizen or permanent resident; this contribution is made from my own funds; this is not a corporation, labor organization or federal contractor.

Federal Election law requires that we ask you for all of this information.

FIRST NAME*___________________________________________________________

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Little-Known?

So William Jefferson won the Democratic Party primary Tuesday, beating out Helena Moreno. But we will have to go back to the polls to vote on this race a third time in December for the actual election.

We could save plenty of money and avoid a lot of hassle if we adopted Instant Runoff Voting or something similar. But I digress.

On the December ballot, I like the Green Party candidate Malik Rahim. It’s my belief that Greens, and any third party candidates, need to make their case at the state and local level. There are any number of barriers to third party success at the federal level, and especially in the presidential race.

But at the local level, we have an opportunity to distinguish ourselves. At the local level, the playing field is a little more level, and we can get our message out a little more easily. At the local level, the Democratic-Republican duopoly is a little less firmly entrenched.

Or is it?

The Times-Picayune ran a story this morning about Jefferson’s primary victory and the December election. Since the majority of voters in the 2nd Congressional district are registered Democrats, the T-P notes:

Jefferson is considered the prohibitive favorite in the Dec. 6 general election against four little-known opponents.

Little-know, eh? I can accept that Malik Rahim isn’t as well-known as Jefferson. After all, Jefferson has been in the spotlight for years as our Congressional representative. Lately he’s garnered even more attention than usual. When the FBI raids your house and finds $90K in your freezer it tends to have that effect.

But Malik has some fame in his own right. Granted, he’s nowhere near as famous as the incumbent. But around here, Malik Rahim is hardly an unknown. He especially shone after Katrina, when he helped found the Common Ground Medical Clinic and Common Ground Relief, organizations which are still active today.

Yet this article in the Times-Picayune goes on to focus on the Republican candidate, Anh Joseph Cao. Now this guy really is an unknown. I’m not disparaging him in the least, but the fact is that if you compare Malik Rahim and Anh Jospeh Cao, the little-known candidate is clearly Cao.

That, of course, is about to change, because Cao has the backing of (drumroll please) Republican power broker Jay Batt. He will be helping Cao raise money and get endorsements.

Cao gets mentioned by name twelve times in the article. Malik Rahim gets mentioned only once, in passing. And that’s a shame.

I was tangentially involved in Malik’s run for City Council back in 2002. Unfortunately that campaign was not well organized and never really caught fire. Running a good campaign is hard work. I’m less involved with the local Greens these days because of other life priorities, but it’s my sincere hope that this campaign is more effective.

Coverage like this doesn’t make it any easier.

Greenless

The qualifying period is over, and the field is jam-packed. Two dozen candidates for mayor alone!

I’m sorry to say that no one is running as a Green. Les Evenchick is running for City Council At-Large, but his party affiliation is listed as “no party,” which is probably accurate since I think he quit the Greens a few years back to start his own party.

This is something of a disappointment. The Green Party of Louisiana just achieved official party status in this state last summer. We were gearing up to run a Green slate of candidates for all the City Council posts. I was even tentatively planning to run for my district. “Editor B for District B.” Fellow running mates might have included Leenie Halbert, Malik Rahim and John Clark.

Post-Katrina, I didn’t feel up to it, and I guess none of my fellow Greens did either. I’d heard Malik was running for mayor, but according to today’s paper, he’s not.

At least the Libertarians aren’t fielding any candidates either. That would have been embarrassing.

Nope, it’s mostly Democrats, a smattering of Republicans, and a surprising number of Independents and “no party” people. (What’s the difference, I wonder?)

I notice Manny “Chevrolet” Bruno is running for mayor again. He got my vote last time. I didn’t know anything about him except I heard he was a “barstool philospher.” It was a protest vote, the closest thing to “none of the above” which I could find on the ballot.

I sure hope I don’t have to vote for Manny again this time. There’s so much at stake.

As for Kimberly Williamson Butler… Her candidacy would have amused me in the past, but post-Katrina, it’s just embarrassing.

Good and Bad

Yesterday was a good day. A hearty breakfast at Slim Goodies, a day of cleaning out the house, meeting with the adjuster, and then meeting some friends for a few drinks at the Balcony Bar. I talked on the phone with Xy and she seemed in good spirits, unlike the day before when she was feeling sick and depressed. It felt like a very good day, considering the circumstances.

Today — not so much. At least not at first. Slim Goodies wasn’t serving breakfast. Michael helped me put our two refrigerators and other appliances to the curb — a job which needed to be done and which I couldn’t have done alone, so I was grateful for the help, but something about it was depressing. Maybe it was the stinking water that gushed out of the washer. Maybe it was the fact that I cut my arm as we took the refrigerator down the stairs. Maybe it was the fact that Xy called, feeling ill and miserable again. Maybe it was just realizing how much more there was to do. Maybe it was because I’ve hardly eaten anything all day.

I don’t know.

I tried cleaning up some more, stupidly exposing the cut on my arm to mold and bacteria, but my heart really wasn’t in it.

Eventually I gave up and headed across the river to Algiers. After a few wrong turns, I found Paul B. Habans Elementary, the school where Xy taught. I’d heard it was being used as a SWAT base camp. Sure enough, it was, and there were cops everywhere. One told me that the principal and some teachers had been there that morning but I’d missed them. The police officer also said she thought the school probably would not be re-opening, contrary to a report published in the news media.

I started to walk away, more dejected than ever.

But then I ran into a small group of women also leaving the school. They were Habans teachers, and they told me the principal was still in the building. I hustled back in and soon I was giving Ms Bernard a hug.

She told me something that lifted my spirits: Because Habans (and all the public schools in Algiers) have just been designated as “charter” schools, she has a freer hand on personnel, and she’s hiring back all the teachers who want to come back.

That means Xy has a job!

She felt certain the school won’t open by November 1st as NOPS has announced. Still, it was the best news of the day. I even got a chance to look at Xy’s room. It was in perfect condition, unlike some other rooms which have been outright condemned.

While I was on that side of the river, I also went to the Common Ground clinic to deliver some more donations from the Bloomington community and to get my arm looked at. I ended up getting a tetanus vaccination.

The volume of patients being served at Common Ground was astonishing, and the whole thing is really inspiring. Check out their website and help if you can. I would say your donations are going much more directly to people who need it than through certain big beauracratic organizations.

I also got a chance to stop by Malik Rahim’s house, which is HQ for other Common Ground relief efforts. I finally got to see Malik and give him a hug. Robert Caldwell showed up about the same time. It was practically like an old Green Party meeting.

Xy called and at least had a diagnosis: She’d gone off some medicine you’re not supposed to give up cold turkey. Kind of frightening, but she’s renewing her prescription. I hope she feels better soon. I worry about her a lot.

Life continues to be an emotional roller coaster. Today ended up being halfway good after all, but I was feeling pretty down there for a while.

Algiers

We made it into Orleans Parish without any challenge by the authorities. We are now comfortably ensconced at Howie’s house in Algiers.

We delivered our van-full of supplies to Malik’s place, which is serving as a community supply and distribution center, and we delivered our medical supplies to the Common Ground medical clinic.

Then we went out for a drink. There’s very little open here — it is like a ghost town — but we found a little cocktail lounge just around the corner, serving mostly cops and firefighters.

Katrina damage is evident everywhere here: bent roadsigns, toppled brick walls, trees snapped in two. Algiers had been somewhat repopulated and signs of cleanup are evident too, but Rita put all that on hold and emptied the place out again.

Tomorrow we get up early and attempt to cross the river and get into Mid-City to our homes. This may be difficult.

The drive to NOLA

Jacob Appelbaum has posted a bunch of photos that were taken in New Orleans in the last few days, including this one of my friend and co-conspirator Malik Rahim.

The pix are really excellent and deserve to be seen by anyone who’s wondering what’s up in New Orleans right now.

Malik’s shaping up to be one of the heroes of the Katrina debacle. He stuck it out through the hurricane in Algiers, and as Jacob’s photos indicate, he’s still there.