Prairie Power #1
Source Bruce Bentley
Date 99/05/01/22:39

/* Written 11:13 PM Dec 28, 1998 by in igc:labr.all */
/* ---------- "dsa-doc: Prairie Power #1 - Internet" ---------- */


Chicago Cleveland Detroit Central Indiana
Madison Central Ohio Twin Cities

Midwest Regional DSA - #1 - January-March, 1999

Editor's Note: When MwDSA convened at the DSA national convention one
year ago in Columbus, Ohio, members agreed to maintain MwDSA as an
organizational body. Its function is to maintain communications and be
a resource network between locals. Due to the financial debt it was
untenable for either MwDSA or the National Office to finance an
organizer's salary. This newsletter is the last of the unfinished
business agreed upon. I apologize for the delay, but I was out of the
country for seven months. The purpose of this quarterly newsletter,
Prairie Power, is to provide MwDSAers with information on the political
activities of midwest locals. We need to be quasi organizers ourselves;
hence our purpose is to maintain communications, camaraderie and seek
sources for revenue. We are making progress since Central Ohio DSA
(Columbus) recently had its second fund raising dinner event and Greater
Detroit DSA is in the planning stage for their second as well (see
below). Bruce Bentley

Chicago DSA
contact: Bruce Bentley (773) 384-0327; email:

Organizationally, CDSA has a core active cadre of 25-30 members.
Monthly executive meeting are held as well as three annual membership
meetings. Currently the local is fiscally sound with a balance of
$10,200. Political activism has been led thanks to the University of
Chicago Youth Section with demonstrations in support of the Han Young
workers and the Niketown Antisweatshop campaigns. Municipal elections
in February '99 will be a focal point of activism. Political education
centers around the bimonthly publication of New Ground. A fall
discussion series on Economic Democracy at Roosevelt University drew 24-
36 participants per forum. On November 8, CDSA and the Illinois
Committee of Correspondence held an election postmortem. Lastly, in
regard to fund raising, plans have begun on the Debs-Thomas-Harrington
Dinner for May 7, 1999. A recent direct fund raising appeal netted
$455. B.B.

Cleveland DSA
contact: Bernadette Janes (216) 228-5790

The Organizing Committee has 12-15 members who regularly attend the
bimonthly meetings which center around a series of educational forums.
In November the forum was titled "Farms, Food and the Environment."
Discussion focused on the consequences of food irradiation and
corporatism in the production and processing of food. Upcoming forums
include "Environmental Politics" with author of "Eco Beach," David
Beach; "Tort Reform," "Globalism: Its Origin and Effects"; and "The
Campaign for Universal Health Care." B.J.

Greater Detroit DSA
contact: David Green (248) 855-3169

GDDSA had an active year. We were effective participants in the living
wage coalition of Detroit which recently became the first city to pass a
living wage ordinance by ballot proposition. The ballot proposal passed
by an 80% to 20% majority. Under this ordinance, all corporations
receiving tax abatements or holding contracts with the City of Detroit
of greater than $50,000/year are required to pay their employees a wage
which would lift a family of four above the poverty level ($7.70/hr with
health care benefits, $9.63/hr w/o health benefits). GDDSA was one of
the founders of the Progressive Challenge Coalition which is an attempt
to bring together disparate groups from the Left around a core set of
principles called "The Fairness Agenda." TFA includes such items as
support for a living wage, affirmative action, universal health care,
public education, opposition to MAI etc. In the fall, the PCC held two
separate public hearing in Ypsilanti, MI which included participants
such as Representatives Lynn Rivers and John Conyers of the Progressive
Caucus. Last May GDDSA held its first successful fund raising event, The
Frederick Douglas/Eugene V. Debs Dinner. The keynote speaker was Elaine
Bernard of Harvard University. Honorees included: David Elsila,
retired editor of Solidarity Magazine, and Susan Watson, one of the
locked-out Detroit Newspaper workers, who is now editor of the strikers'
journal, The Detroit Sunday Journal. Currently we are making plans for
a second dinner event in May '99. GDDSA continues to be active in
MichUHCAN (The Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network), which is
the coalition working on behalf of single payer health insurance in the
state. D.G.

Central Indiana DSA
contact: Nanci Naan (317) 352-8261

Executive meetings are held monthly. CIDSA's political activity is
primarily in coalition work with other left groups such as the Alliance
for Democracy, the SP and peace groups such as the Peace and Justice
Center and Pastors for Peace. Three coffee houses are in the planning
stage which will entail panel discussions. Concerted action has focused
on issues of the environment, mass transit, Mumia Abu-Jamal and
assisting SEIU organizer, Gabriel Kramer, organize workers at the
Claritian Health Group. Finally, CIDSA "tabled" at the annual Debs
Foundation Dinner in Terre Haute, Indiana where the honorees were Howard
Zinn and Noel Beasley of UNITE. N.N.

Madison DSA
contact: George & Terri Robson (608) 592-5437

Our local is small with six to ten DSA members who participate in our
meetings. The Federal and State elections were our major thrust this
fall. We helped send Russ Feingold, an active advocate for Campaign
Finance Reform and universal healthcare, back to the U.S. Senate for a
second term. Moreover, we helped elect Tammy Baldwin, an advocate for
single payer universal health care and open lesbian to congress. One of
our members worked full time as coordinator of volunteers in the Garvey
campaign for governor who unfortunately lost. Hopefully, we have
momentum toward building a stronger base on the left. We are exploring
the possibility of working on issues of common concern with other area
progressive groups. We are also trying to be an influence in the local
Democratic Party organization. In May '99, leftist groups will have a
Radfest at Upland Woods, Wisconsin Dells. Our executive board intends
to take part. G.R.

Central Ohio DSA
contact: Reg Dyck (614) 251-0216); email:

It was a good year for the Democratic Socialists of Central
Ohio(DSCO). Our second Women's International Day Forum at Capital
University, presented in conjunction with student groups, drew over
75 students and community participants. For our third annual May Day
celebration, we hosted a house party for the Farm Labor Organizing
Committee (FLOC) and raised over $300. At the 1998 Community
Festival, we sponsored a raffle for the third consecutive year. We
raised over $650 to support our ongoing activities and a local Teen
Drop-in Center. In a joint effort with The Columbus Free Press this
fall, we published the Red Issue of The Free Press, which contained
articles relating to democratic socialism etc. On November 7, we
hosted our 3rd Debs-Thomas-Harrington Awards Dinner in conjunction
with the Free Press. This event brought community groups and
activists together as we presented awards to local leaders in the
struggle for social justice. The Awards Dinner was attended by over
100 members of the activist community and later broadcast on cable
public access channel, ACTV 21. We also passed the hat for Hurricane
Mitch aid and presented Pastors for Peace with $189 for Honduras and
Nicaragua.We undertook these events and projects to increase the
visibility of DSCO and do our part to help build the progressive
community in Central Ohio. We have supported labor actions,
participated in a rally for Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal, and
spoke out against US policy toward Iraq. While we have been active
and trying to increase our financial base, in August DSCO held a
strategy and planning meeting. At that time, DSCO committed to focus
its activism on supporting the FLOC in their effort to organize
immigrant field workers related to Mt. Olive Pickle Company, the
largest pickle company in the South. We also committed to work for a
Living Wage ordinance for Columbus, which would guarantee that
workers for the city and for companies that contract with the city
earn a decent wage, free to join a union, and receive health care
benefits. We have reached out to unions and community groups for
support. In January, we are holding another strategy meeting. We are
trying to develop a long-term strategy for building democratic
socialism in Central Ohio. George Boas, Secretary

Twin Cities DSA
contact: Dan Frankot (612) 224-8262

There is an active cadre of 20 members. Executive meeting are held
monthly. Recent political activism centered around the support of
Hubert Humphrey III of the Democratic Farm-Labor Party for U.S. Senate
who unfortunately lost. Activities on political education have focused
around the work of two DSA professors: Stephan Peter and Mike Mitchell.
They created the Center for European Experience which is designed to
promote the ideas of social democracy. Forums have centered on programs
such as National Health and Co-Determinism. Peter is a member of the
German Social Democratic Party and Mitchell is a member of the Labour
Party. D.F.

National DSA Update

National DSA is presently going through an organizational crisis. The
primarily problem is financial. DSA is broke. Alan Charney resigned as
National Director in mid year and present Director, Chris Riddiough,
will resign effective 1-1-99. The NPC is taking action to remedy the
situation and is in search of a new National Director. Moreover staff
have been reduced to one Director, one Financial Coordinator, one Youth
Organizer and one half time Membership Services Coordinator. Half of
the office has been sublet to reduce costs. Many of us assume that DSA
has money, but historically finances have been an on-going problem since
the merger with NAM in 1982 when there was a $80,000 deficit. DSA was
constantly saved by the fund raising skill of Michael Harrington. It
was hoped that the direct mail campaign would replace the $200,000
endowment left after Mike's death. Although the direct mail increased
membership from 7,000 to 11,000, it did not become an effective source
of revenue. We will keep you informed of developments at the N.O.
(information obtained via dsanet) B.B.

Whatna Get Organized?

If you interested in starting a DSA Organizing Committee (5 or more
members are necessary) or Local (15 or more persons) contact the
National Office for information and application to be chartered. To
begin this organizing project, phone and mailing lists are available
through the NO. DSAers from the Chicago Local are willing to assist in
the process and travel to meet with your members in a kick off event and
to discuss issues of organizing, fund raising etc. B.B.

Next issue deadline for Prairie Power is February 1, 1999. Local
reports should include the local's political activities and work plan in
relation to its own unique local conditions as well as to the objectives
of National DSA. Reports can be sent snail mail or email to: Bruce
Bentley ( 432 1/2 S. Winfield Ave. Kankakee, IL 60901
#(815) 935-5725

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