Monday, September 18, 2017

FCNL Advocacy Team is Launched in Pasadena with Great Success

I am really pleased that Friends Committee on National Legislation is launching a national campaign, in both blue and red districts, to urge Congress to spend our tax dollars on needs like education and health care, and not the bloated military budget. The launch of our San Gabriel Valley FCNL Advocacy Team in Pasadena this weekend was a great success, as Montrose peace activist Brian Anderson explains later in this blog.

Cuts in social services caused by increases in the Pentagon budget will have dire local impacts. The budget for HUD (which provides funding for affordable housing) has been cut drastically over the past few years. Trump is calling for additional 6 billion in cuts to HUD, which will hamper efforts to end homelessness and provide affordable housing for our city. He is calling for huge cuts to medical and scientific research, which will also impact the health and welfare of our local community, which has a strong commitment to science through JPL and Cal Tech.

Instead of spending our tax dollars on what we actually need, the Republican Congress has voted a 70 billion dollar increase in the Pentagon budget. This increase will require dismantling the social safety net that has lifted 38 million Americans out of poverty.

FCNL is committed to educating the American public about the folly of this abuse of our tax dollars. We spend seven ties more money on the military that China, Russia, North Korea and all our other adversaries put together. We spend more in real dollars on the military than we spent at the height of the Vietnam and Cold War. This graph shows how massive our military expenditures are compared to other nations:

The Pentagon is fraught with waste, fraud and abuse. According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon had suppressed an internal report that found $125 billion in waste. The Pentagon is the only branch of government that isn't audited. FCNL is urging Congress to investigate Pentagon waste and fraud.

If the Trump administration's goal is to create jobs, as Trump alleges, the Pentagon is the least effective way to do this. A $1 billion investment in education will create twice as many jobs as $1 billion invested in the military.

I am glad we had a great turnout for our launch of the San Gabriel FCNL Advocacy Team. What I found especially encouraging is that we had a great turnout from non-Quakers who are just as committed as we are to peacemaking and social justice: Pasadena's Indivisible Suffragettes and the Montrose Peace Vigil.

Brian Anderson, who helped start the Montrose Peace Vigil (which has been gathering faithfully every Friday on the corner of Ocean and Honolulu for the past decade), wrote this summary of our meeting:

At least 20 people participated in the Advocacy Team workshop in Pasadena on Saturday, coming from Tujunga, Montrose and La Canada, from Pasadena across the San Gabriel Valley to Claremont, and south to Boyle Heights.  Montrose Peace Vigil regulars Roberta, Anni, John and I were among them.
Emily Savin, the excellent trainer from the Friends Committee on National Legislation's D.C. office, led an active listening exercise in which we paired off to trade our stories and listen so that we could repeat them, something that Anni and I did at the direction of Bernard Lafayette Jr. during his nonviolent resistance training here in 2009.  We also learned the key elements of writing an effective letter to a legislator, then put them into practice by drafting individual letters at our tables, asking one senator or the other to halt Pentagon spending increases.  These listening and pitching skills will be employed in having meetings and building relationships with the staffs of our various representatives and senators about the issue.
Just about everybody signed up to organize a Pasadena Advocacy Team, with the support of the FCNL.  We'll meet for four more one-hour training sessions with Emily on speakerphone, followed by half-hour discussions, starting on Monday, October 2.  Attendance at the workshop is not a prerequisite to the training sessions, and nobody has to commit to every one of those to participate in the lobbying to come.  Subgroups of the Pasadena team will address their House members -- I counted constituents of Chu, Schiff, Torres and Roybal-Allard in the room.  And all of us will engage with Feinstein and Harris staffers at their L.A. offices.

Read more:

On Sunday, I gave a presentation about FCNL at Santa Monica Meeting and would be happy to give presentations at other meetings and churches as well. Our next meeting of the San Gabriel FCNL Advocacy Team will take place at my home on October 2 at 6:30 pm. Please contact me at if you'd like to attend or would like me to give a training on how to lobby effectively


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