Sunday Sep 22

Publisher's Note Summer 2019


It’s another jam-packed, blockbuster summer issue with plenty to read and a lot to think about it if you are able to finally step back, duck-and-cover a bit sometime during this season.

We lead with a refreshing analysis of potential change that could be wrought in an area where most a turning their eyes away: public housing. Oh yes, and not looking at just any social housing but a case study one of the largest complexes in the world, NYCHA, the New York City Housing Authority. Among the insights shared by researcher-organizer Dine’ Butler is the fact that the HUD Section 3 program required to give hiring priority to public housing residents could virtually be a guaranteed income for everyone living in the projects, if it were implemented either in New York or the rest of the country. Bruce Boccardy, a former union leader and now researcher, follows that with a hard look at the numbers underneath the current economic expansion in the USA, and how they continue to be crushing to most American families, particularly workers.

It’s a bigger world than even New York City and the United States as we all know. George Soros, the billionaire investor and philanthropist, is both on the other side of those numbers and has become the boogey-man in Hungary and among the right wing, offsetting any more sober analysis of his impact. We were fortunate to meet an activist and scholar in Sofia, Bulgaria, Deyan Kiuranov, who had worked for Open Society in its early days and more recently had penned an intellectual analysis of just what is meant by “open society” and its potential both in Eastern Europe and elsewhere in practice and in Soros’ advocacy This is Part I of his analysis with Part II coming in the next issue.

In a new section, Tools, debuting this issue and hopefully one that we will be able to continue regularly, we are fortunate to have Mark Fleischman, the founder of the Action Network, and Martha Grant, the program manager, introduce their new tool for union and community organizers, Action Builder. We also have included Gary Krane’s efforts to build a mobilization and direct-action tool, WinWisely, along with his argument for its urgency in these political and environmental times.

Our Excerpts in this issue are a reader’s gift!

Professor Kenneth Reardon, one of the nation’s leading community planning gurus, now with the University of Massachusetts at Boston has written a fascinating and timely book about his experience twenty-five years ago forging partnerships between the planning and other departments at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana with community and development organizations
in the struggle city of East St. Louis. Building Bridges: Community and University Partnership in East St. Louis is being published by Social Policy Press this August. Max Blau, a veteran in youth and leadership development, makes a persuasive call for national service in an excerpt from his book, Race and Social Change: A Quest, A Study, A Call to Action. If the coming election turns out to be a watershed event, this could be on the list in responding to our nation’s division, he argues.

My old Arkansas friend, political commentator, raconteur, and reporter/columnist extraordinaire. Ernie Dumas, has shared an excerpt with Social Policy from his more than fifty years of work in the trenches of political life in the state that sheds brilliant analytical light on the character of Hillary Clinton that both made her mark and was perhaps her undoing nationally that is rooted in her experience in Arkansas. His book, The Education of Ernie Dumas: Chronicles of the Arkansas Political Mind, is full of reveals, and we are lucky to be able to share some about the famous Whitewater scandal in this piece. To understand the ends, Dumas believes, as do we, that you sometimes have to go back to the beginnings.

And, speaking of beginnings and what we learn from our youth and a different kind of political experience, in the piece “Left-Wing Intellectuals in the Workplace,” we offer an excerpt from retired professor David Ranney on his activist history back in the late 60’s and 70’s in the various left sectarian efforts that sought to reclaim the connection with the working class by going into industrial plants as something between “salts” and agitators for change. Ranney’s book of reflections, Living and Dying on the Factory Floor: From the Outside In and the Inside Out, takes us back to a time before tweeting when you were either part of the solution or part of the problem.

Several issues ago, James Mumm, proposed doing reviews for Social Policy, and his contributions have become a regular and much appreciated feature. Mumm, a longtime community organizer, now has a new portfolio as campaign director for Greenpeace in the United States. Not surprisingly, he reviews several books, both non-fiction and science fiction in this issue that focus on climate change. Expanding our Review section, Mike Miller, gives a spirited endorsement of the new musical, yes, I said musical, by veteran union organizer, Gene Bruskin, which imagines the coming together of Fredrick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony as well as leaders from the National Labor Union, one of the first national labor amalgamations in the US. We may not know the tune, but Miller shares the lyrics to some of Bruskin’s songs, so we can all be ready to sing along in the chorus.

Our Columns are crackerjack, with Phil Mattera, our senior columnist, looks at another kind of collusion, not with the Russians, but between generic drug makers that is ratcheting up prices and, fortunately, under attack by some state attorneys general. Drummond Pike fingering some of the same worry beads, writes of free enterprise amuck and on the rampage. John Anderson who wants to rename his column, We Are the North, looks at the high jacking of provincial governments by the right in Canada and would it could portend for the future there. In Backpages, I revisit Martin Luther King in light of new information from FBI wiretapping and whether it is of any consequence.

Keep cool. Take a deep breath. It will be sprint to the finish, so enjoy some deep reading in this issue as we prepare for the everything coming ever so quickly on the horizon.

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