Once-rejected Bartley Green Councilor John Lines to be appointe Brum Lord Mayor on Tues. May 22nd

Though this post is mostly to not lose track of the below article, you can check out this facebook group which has links to Lines’ racist, homophobic and violence past, as well as the petition against his impending Lord Mayorship.

The following text was taken from a post on The Chamberlain Files that for some reason was taken down, yet cached here…

The text is below, and corroborated by this article, saying that “Labour and Liberal Democrat Councillors overwhelmingly refused to accept [the appointment of John Lines as Lord Mayor in 2001 was]…the first time in more than a century that a party’s nomination of Lord Mayor has been rejected.”

 

“So near yet so far for ‘Lord Mayor John Lines’”  – 11/01/2012 by Paul Dale

“Never say never in politics. Eleven years after suffering the humiliation of being told he was not after all going to be Lord Mayor of Birmingham, John Lines may finally be on course to inherit the glittering office.

“The combative Tory city councillor should have been given the job in 2001, but Labour and Liberal Democrat members joined forces and threw out the nomination, claiming that Coun Lines was too divisive and right wing for a multi-cultural city like Bimingham.

“Eleven years later, the Liberal Democrats have performed a U-turn and decided that Coun Lines is exactly the sort of chap to become First Citizen. The fact that the Lib Dems are running the council in partnership with the Conservatives and it is the Tory turn to nominate the Lord Mayor may have something to do with this.

“And in any case, some Lib Dems have come to have a grudging respect for Coun Lines’s eight-year stint as cabinet member for housing and admire the way he has turned around a failing department. They also love the way he routinely delivers a verbal bashing to hapless opposition councillors who dare to question publicly his performance.

“This, at least, is the official coalition line. Bubbling away beneath the surface, however, there remains unease among a few Liberal Democrat councillors and rather more outright hostility in the opposition Labour group.

“Most Labour councillors are finding it difficult to forget about the spot of difficulty Coun Lines found himself in four years ago after referring to asylum seekers as “scumbags” and “scallywags”. The remarks were made in the context of an interview to a magazine and meant to underline Coun Lines’s support for British armed forces who, he believed, had to wait at the bottom of the queue for housing while asylum seekers were given preferential treatment.

“A complaint was made to the Standards Board for England, but the board cleared Coun Lines of breaking the councillors’ code of conduct and ruled that he had a right to freedom of speech and to be abusive as long as he stayed within the law.

“I took soundings in the tea room at this week’s full city council meeting and discovered scarcely disguised anger among Labour members. The 56-strong group is yet to decide formally whether to back the nomination of Coun Lines and is unlikely to do so until just before the February council meeting, when he is due to be pronounced Lord Mayor-elect.

“There is a feeling, with the way news of Lines’s prospective elevation leaked out last week, that Labour is being bounced into backing the nomination on the grounds that it is the Conservative turn to take the mayoralty in 2012-13 and they must be allowed to select who they want. This was exactly the argument used in 2001, when it was again the Conservative turn, but that didn’t prevent the council voting to reject Coun Lines on that occasion.

“One senior Labour councillor spoke of the “unexpected and unwelcome news” of Coun Lines’s prospective nomination and added that the group appeared completely split over the matter, although there was a groundswell of opposition. The matter will be considered at a special Labour group meeting on Jan 28, just over a week before the council meets to choose a Lord Mayor-elect on February 8, where an attemtp to reach a collective decision will be made.

“The Labour group leadership may wish, possibly with a heavy heart, to support or at least not to oppose Coun Lines’s nomination. Pragmatic grounds are being mentioned, with a desire to avoid the festering ill feeling that marked 2001 when the Conservatives refused to nominate an alternative to Coun Lines and the Lord Mayoralty went instead to Liberal Democrat Jim Whorwood.

“Phrases such as “we have all moved on” since 2001 and “let’s draw a line under this” are being used in an attempt to rally the troops. There is also a feeling that it would be difficult to justify opposing the nomination for Lord Mayor of someone with 30 years unbroken council service and who, crucially, can boast that he is the first person to oversee the building of new council houses in Birmingham for some 25 years.

“He has enjoyed the benefits of Prudential Borrowing, which was not available until the very end of Labour’s council rule in late 2003, and this has enabled hundreds of millions of pounds to be invested in modernising decaying council housing stock. Birmingham’s local authority housing now meets the Decent Homes Standard, which was certainly not the case in 2004.

“Add to that Coun Lines’s Homes for Heroes initiative, securing accommodation for members of the armed forces returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and it is easier to understand why the official Labour stance could be one of, if not outright support,  non-opposition to the mayoral nomination.

“It remains far from clear, however, whether Labour group leader Sir Albert Bore will succeed in securing a binding decision among his members to vote for Coun Lines as Lord Mayor. A number of backbenchers I spoke to said they wanted a free vote on the issue and would consider rebelling if whipped to support Coun Lines.

“Of course, if the coalition wants Coun Lines to have the job, which it does, enough votes exist to force it through since the Tory-Lib Dem partnership still enjoys an overall majority of eight in the chamber. The most likely scenario is that Labour councillors opposed to the nomination, and perhaps a few Liberal Democrats, will absent themselves from the council chamber when the vote to nominate the Lord Mayor is taken, and as this happens at an informal meeting anyway it will be possible for the whips to turn a blind eye.

“It is impossible to be certain now, though, about what will happen when the 2012-13 Lord Mayor is formally elected at the annual council meeting at the end of May. This will be the first session of the new council following the elections on May 3, and it is reasonable to suppose that Labour will have a majority of seats and clear control of the city council.

“Councillor Lines can be forgiven if he feels unusually nervous during the two week period between the elections and the annual meeting. Nothing is certain in politics, not even for Lord Mayor-elects.”

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In solidarity with the students of Quebec

Before the end of the night Bill 78/Loi78 will pass, basically revoking all rights to expression, assembly and protest, imposing economic punishment on people for speaking out against economic oppression in the first place (#classwar). Such a law is a desperate last-ditch effort from the government to force submission after all other means, from legal process to lethal force have not been able to stop this student uprising.

It seems so incredibly unconstitutional and will be struck down and probably in a few years, a bunch of people will sue the cops for all of this and win. But in the meantime, the Charest government believes this ploy will deflate the movement and let them get away with all the crap that hundreds of thousands of people have been fighting against for the last 3 months. I hope people will stand against such a repressive and vicious attack.

As Bill C 309 is also up for debate – further criminalizing masks at protests, the government is unmasking itself. it is showing to the masses what many communities – indigenous communities who’s treaty rights have never been honoured; migrants for whom basic security let alone access to status is a crapshoot at best; Black and disabled people who are used as target practice by the police – have long known: that the laws and so-called democratic processes of the state are just arbitrary rules written to ensure the wealth of the 1%, the power of the state, the control of society remains unchallenged. This mask has long been lifted elsewhere in the world, but Canada has liked to pretend that it was a fair and just land. And though it’s ridiculous that the architects of apartheid (canada’s reservation system was the blueprint for South African and Israeli apartheid, after all) could get away with that image for so long, at least it seems finally to be revealed From the Charest gov’t response to the student protests to the revelations of the police “misconduct” at the G20 demos, from Harper’s election tampering/buying to his draconian refugee exclusion act Canada can no longer pretend to be the moral beacon of the world.

But perhaps we can mobilize this sense of righteousness and entitlement, instilled in us to perpetuate the myth of moral kkkanada, against this latest onslaught. Once they quiet the protests, once they stop the strike, much will be lost, regardless of all the lawsuits that will follow. A look at the G20 is a good example of how they will use, even make up, laws to stamp out protest, and deal with the consequences, however embarrassing or expensive, later, because at least they defended the immediate target of the protest, they broke the momentum and they wore people down through physical, public and legal attacks.

Living abroad at the moment i can’t say what is strategically the best way forward. i can only say that i hope those in Canada manage to stand against this ridiculous law, in solidarity with each other. That thousands of people will call for mass demos every day, every night. That people will see the tactical advantages that less than 10 people can have in some actions, and that people will believe they cannot and arrest and fine every organizer if everyone who is out on the streets is indeed an organizer – of yourself – of your peers – not over people but alongside of eachother. Hell, call demos under my name. i am not affiliated with any association. And i’d like to see them collect on their fines. Or extradite me from the UK. But more importantly please, stay strong. Refuse to be intimidated by them. Let these desperate acts of the police and the state invoke your anger, not your fear. And never surrender to an unjust demand.

In solidarity.

Community accountability around Sexual and Gendered violence and intimate partner violence

the followiing is a list of links provided to me by No One Is Illegal Toronto in how to address gendered and sexual violence that exists within our communities.

I haven’t yet read through most of this but i figured i might as well give everyone else the same opportunity that NOII-Toronto gave to me.

Learning Good Consent
http://www.phillyspissed.net/sites/default/files/learning%20good%20consent2.pdf

The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities
http://www.incite-national.org/media/docs/0985_revolution-starts-at-home.pdf

The Revolution Starts at Home (book based on zine but with new content)
http://www.southendpress.org/2010/items/87941

More Resources on Sexual Assault & Community Accountability
http://anarchalibrary.blogspot.com/2010/09/zinespamphlets-on-sexual-assault.html

Organizations and Projects

INCITE, Women of Color Against Violence:
http://www.incite-national.org/media/docs/0528_Incite-CommunityAccountabilityPrinciples.pdf
http://www.incite-national.org/media/docs/2406_cmty-acc-poc.pdf

Transformative Justice Toronto (Toronto)
http://transformativejusticetoronto.blogspot.com/

Philly Stands Up (Philadelphia)
http://phillystandsup.wordpress.com/

Storytelling & Organizing Project (Oakland)
http://www.stopviolenceeveryday.org/

Challenging Male Supremacy Project (New York City)
http://zapagringo.blogspot.com/2010/06/challenging-male-supremacy-project.html

For Crying Out Loud (Seattle)
http://forcryingoutloud206.wordpress.com
http://www.generationfive.org/downloads/G5_Toward_Transformative_Justice.pdf

My on-going rant about borders and colonial policies on migration

Britain (and other nation-states) went around fucking up the world by stealing land and people, (often from people who previously hadn’t conceived of land and people as things that could be owned), slaughtering lots of folks, creating artificial boundaries and imposing religious and government structures upon groups of people regardless of their own identities and previous lifestyles. The result of this include massive deforestation, altering of the land (dams etc, ) poisoning land and water, disrupting cultural practices and national identities and imposing a value-system based on on competition, profit, individualism etc. And so, after people’s homes, lands, families, communities and lives have been so deeply disrupted; after companies like Monsanto trademark the food and medicine that people used to grow and use for their own; after factories implant themselves on land, steal the local resources and impose sweatshop labour practices in order for people to produce things to export to the west that the folks working to produce them can’t even afford; after people start living by the values and religions imposed upon them; after conflict arising from imposed borders and states and religions, not to mentioned factions armed and trained by places like Britain and it’s children (i.e. the bratty USA) makes people’s homes and land unsafe; well; some people want to get the fuck out or at least leave their family and community to make enough money to help the people they love survive. And then the migrants get blamed for being scroungers, or for having *backwards* cultures that persecute people, or are unable to live except in a state of war.

Meanwhile, most of the people doing the blaming are benefiting from almost every aspect of this ongoing system. Even low-paid workers in this country are beneficiaries of this system, being able to buy cheap food and clothes, communication devices, etc., because of the even lower wages and worse working conditions elsewhere. Though, of course, this isn’t universally true and continues to be under constant threat by being shown how much worse things could be. Sometimes i think that the few rights and protections that exist are as much so that “first-world countries” can perpetuate the myth of moral superiority. But certainly they exist because the governments of places like Britain are not as indebted to bodies like the World Bank and the IMF, because they have stolen so much from the places that are so indebted. Countries that have had to borrow significantly from the World Bank and IMF have structural adjustment programs imposed upon them that make them cut and privatize things like health care and education, “liberalize trade”* etc. that further impoverish a region, and those of us living in “wealthy” nation-states then maintain some standard of health-care and education (tho that’s eroding because of our own complicity with neo-liberalism), benefit from the so-called liberal trade agreements, and then ridicule and demean the places we continue to steal from.

Get that? Those of us in Canada, the US, western-Europe, Australia, etc. are still stealing from the rest of the world, and then calling the people we steal from the scroungers and thieves. It’s a little like breaking into someone’s home, stealing what you want before burning it down, maxing out their stolen credit cards, loaning them money to buy back their stuff at double the value and interest and then making them work in your own sweatshop to repay you.

And those of us from the so-called colonies like Canada or Australia (or Occupied Palestine) are occupying mansions built on the burnt-out land of the other person’s home.

Anyone who argues that colonial states like Canada, the US or Australia has the right to impose any sort immigration controls (or the right to continue to break treaties, poison indigenous lands and deny the same degree of health care, education and protection to first nations as it claims to guarantee for it’s settler-citizens) has no right to distance themselves from the racism of that colonial history. I hear people say they are sick of being blamed for history’s mistakes. I personally think that if you are a beneficiary of those mistakes, you better be working really hard to rectify them if you want to absolve yourself of the guilt. But if that’s too extreme or unpalatable for some, then at least let me say, Stop making those same “mistakes”.  If you insist that the theft and murder required to keep you in McDonald’s, mini-vans and microchips (or Birkenstocks, bananas and brown rice) is justifiable, even necessary and that the benefit you gain from it needs to be protected from others, than stop mincing words. It’s exceptionalizing you and your community. Charging your right to thrive at the expense another person’s right to survive. And by extension, supporting the entitlements of the colonizer over the needs of the colonized.  You can call it a lot of things: selfish, greedy, Darwinian (though that’s a misnomer**), 1%-like, but one thing you’ve got to call the belief that some (White***) nation-states deserve to flourish on the backs of the majority of (racialised) cultures and communities (including communities within those nation-states, but that would be at least one footnote too many for this rant) is indeed racist.

—–
*which essentially means getting rid of import tariffs, facing additional export barriers, and essentially being forced to lower the cost of domestic production, getting rid of workplace standards, any national protection of resources, etc.: “In many countries, NGOs and farmers have expressed great concern that if the import duties have to go down progressively, while at the same time Europe and the U.S. continue to heavily subsidize their exports, then the farmers in developing countries will face great competition from imports and their livelihoods will be threatened. Studies in the Philippines already show how cheaper imports due to liberalization are causing grave problems for Filipino farmers. The situation will get worse in the next five and 10 years. ” http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/mmIviewMK.html)

**Evolution is describing a process of genetic alterations through history, not a conscious, social process. Moreover, Darwin did not believe that “natural selection” meant any kind of linear progress – hmmmm. maybe it is social Darwinism…saving it for another rant, most likely remain in my head.

***Whiteness is a construct, much like the moon isn’t. And the definition of who is “white” has changed. It was created to distinguish European colonizers from those they colonized. At times, Irish people weren’t white; nor Jews, nor poor people There’s lots written about this. I am using it as the term was invented – those who belong to/identify with the colonial nation-states of Europe and their settler-descendants.

Consensus Decision-Making

job_174-consensus

This guide (click the link above)was written a few years ago and some of my analysis has changed, though i think the tools are still sound.

It attempts to give you a basic framework and some tools for working within a consensus environment. It can be applied to modified versions of consensus as well as other democratic decision-making structures. I feel passionately committed to finding ways for people to work together horizontally, (that means no leaders, no strati) refusing formal hierarchy and undermining informal ones, fighting against domination and oppression in our organizing as we fight against it in the world.

I believe that the best decisions are ones that have broad input, and are tested against the concerns and critiques of those who will be implementing the decisions. I believe the best actions are decided up and carried out by those directly affected. I think that the tools contained within help create a context in which people’s voices are heard, creativity is pushed, and ideas are valued.

It is a work in progress and the result of years of practice and discussion with many amazing people and learning from the most productive and most frustrating experiences in various contexts, generally in grassroots militant organizing, including mass consulta and spokescouncils but also working within not-for-profits, corporate settings and just living in a community with a people with a broad range of experiences, beliefs and styles of communication and decision-making.

It’s based on workshops i’ve given in the past and might be useful for other people’s workshops. I’ve put it under a creative commons license to ensure no one uses it commercially or profits from it and that anyone amending or building upon continues to keep it non-commercial and shares it freely. If you correct the typos, all the better!