Episode 51 — Derailing the Fast Track

Recorded April 11, 2015. Tom Broderick interviews Carson Starkey, the Director of the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition, about the pending “Fast Track” legislation in Congress, intended to speed passage of the yet-to-be-disclosed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

Download (right click) to listen later: MP3 (26.7 Mbytes) or OGG VORBIS (32.6 Mbytes) 29:07.

Carson Starkey is an alumnus of the Paul Wellstone campaign and the U.S. Army. For more information: Globalization and Its Discontents Illinois Fair Trade Coalition Public Citizen’s Eyes on Trade Economic Policy Institute Trade and Globalization Congressional Progressive Caucus: Principles for Trade (PDF) Investor-State Dispute Settlement Since this episode was recorded, a Trade Promotion Authority (“Fast Track”) bill was introduced in the Senate. Let your Senators and Representative know how you feel about this and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Contact Congress U.S. House of Representatives U.S. Senate


Episode 50 — Vote Mujica — Chicago’s 25th Ward

Jorge Mujica
Jorge Mujica, 2015 Chicago Municipal Election

Recorded March 14, 2015. Jorge Mujica, recent candidate for Alderman of Chicago’s 25th Ward, and the manager of his campaign, Mario Cardenas. Interviewed by Chicago DSA’s Bill Barclay (Barclay was on the campaign steering committee), they discuss what went right with the campaign and what went wrong, and some of the history and some of the reasoning behind campaign strategy.

Download to listen later [right click]: MP3 (29.1 MB) or OGG VORBIS (37.4 MB) (31:44)


Chicago 25th Ward
Chicago’s 25th Ward in the 2015 election. Darker red indicates greater percentage vote for Mujica.

Episode 49 – Gun Responsibilities in Oak Park

Tabling in Oak Park for universal background checks for gun sales.

Recorded February 23, 2015. Sandra Shimon and Joyce Champelli tell the story leading up to the passage in Oak Park of an advisory referendum advocating universal background checks for firearm sales and transfers, beginning with an Oak Park group (Gun Rights and Responsibilities Committee) that was meeting to find common ground between gun rights and gun responsibilities.

Download [right click] MP3 (24.9 MB) or OGG VORBIS (31.6 MB)

Sandra Shimon is a life-long resident of Oak Park where she is co-chair of Oak Park DSA, active in her church and a variety of other progressive and charitable endeavors including the Gun Responsibility Advocates. Her proudest accomplishments are her daughters and grandson who are each in their own way making the world a better place.

Joyce Champelli is a 72 year old mother of four, grandmother of seven. She received both her B.A. and her M.A. from DePaul University, majoring in psychology. She has worked for the past 30 years for Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital in the addition program. She has always had a strong interest in social justice issues and is currently an active member of United Power for Action and Justice, Move to Amend, and the Gun Responsibility Advocates. She is a member of Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park.
Signature ad in support of the universal background check referendum.
Shall the federal government enact legislation requiring universal background checks of criminal and mental health history records for all transfers of ownership or possession of firearms, including transfers which occur at gun shows, over the Internet and privately, as a step toward preventing the ownership or possession of firearms by criminals and those with serious mental illnesses, and as a step toward preventing illegal gun trafficking altogether?”
For information about gun laws in your state, see http://smartgunlaws.org/scorecard/

For more information about the passage of the referendum, see http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/11-11-2014/18,000-reasons-to-be-proud/

Episode 48 — It’s Still Stagnation

Employment & Recessions
From Chicago Political Economy Group’s November, 2014, Jobs Report

Recorded January 10, 2015 — Chicago DSA members and Chicago Political Economy Group founding members Ron Baiman and Bill Barclay do a review of the 2014 economy and look ahead to 2015.

labor force participation
From St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, labor force participation.

The financial sector may be back, but wages have not grown; there’s no real surge in investment: It’s still stagnation.

Wages and Productivity
Wages and productivity

Is this a permanent condition? Baiman and Barclay look at the work of New School economist Lance Taylor in response to Thomas Piketty that suggests that, unless countered by vigorous public policy or very fortunate circumstances, stagnation may be be our future.

Listen or (right click) Download: MP3 (39.2 MB) or OGG VORBIS (29.7 MB) (32:29) or add to your playlist using STITCHER

Episode 47 — Gardening and Social Justice

Recorded December 3, 2014. “Intersectionality” has been a buzz word on the left lately. This episode explores the intersectionality of gardening, ethnic and family traditions, environmental sustainability, cultural diversity and social justice, as experienced through the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Heritage Garden Intership Program. DSA’s Peg Strobel interviews UIC Latino Cultural Center Director Rosa Cabrera and Heritage Garden Intern Leaders Sarah Hernandez and Karl Novak.

The Heritage Garden curriculum… builds on research conducted by Latino Cultural Center and African-American Cultural Center directors Rosa Cabrera and Lori Baptista when they worked at The Field Museum, which identified a number of key community concerns and strategies for community involvement in climate action including gardening and urban agriculture. The Heritage Garden project framework uses an assets-based approach that recognizes the range of green practices that people are already doing, builds on cultural values and identity, and links community concerns with environmental issues.

Garden interns engage in many hands-on, educational activities that help to develop and maintain the garden and sustain their relationships with community partners. Interns research the cultural significance of plants in the garden, gather recipes, and collect stories from family, friends, and neighbors about their environmentally friendly practices. Interns participate in weekly discussions about readings related to environmental and cultural sustainability, visit community resources that are relevant to this project, and work with local artists to make creative and explicit connections between environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, and social justice.

Listen or (right click) Download: MP3 (29.1 MB) or OGG VORBIS (25.5 MB) (31:44)



Episode 46 — Veterans, Poverty, and the New Jim Crow

Recorded November 8, 2014. Ray Parrish talks about his decades as a counsellor to military veterans, the post-military challenges faced especially by combat veterans, and the ways in which a less than honorable discharge can put a veteran on the wrong side of the “new jim crow”. The interlocutor for this episode is DSA’s Tom Broderick.

Listen or (right click) Download: MP3 (27.6 MB) or OGG VORBIS (36 MB) (30:08)


Ray Parrish

In 1987 I stepped into a one-person office at the Midwest Committee for Draft and Military Counseling, MCMC with some trepidation, but I had twice applied for this position after four years doing outreach in the VA’s college work/study program. I was fortunate to have a long-serving Board of lawyers, psychiatrists and community counselors who not only trained me but also worked with me on these cases and gave me the “supervision” (therapy) that I needed. MCMC’s primary concern was helping GI’s who faced discrimination or who were having trouble getting an appropriate discharge from the military, especially those claiming conscientious objection. In addition, MCMC co-authored (together with the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild) “Fighting Back,” the textbook on legal rights of homosexuals in military and veterans’ law. So, I staffed an information table at the Gay Pride parades until the local Gay Lesbian and Bisexuals Veterans of America chapter got started. The Board supported me when I expanded our work to include helping veterans win VA disability claims and “upgrading” their military discharges. It was for this purpose that I began working with a group of lawyers now known as the National Veterans Legal Service Program, NVLSP. In 1990 I was one of the first non-lawyers to represent veterans (as their “friend”) at the newly created US Federal Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims and I was the cause of the Court ruling that “friends” could represent only one vet at a time (1Vet App). During the first Gulf War I trained over a thousand lawyers and laypeople in draft, military and veterans counseling in dozens of sessions in six states. Successful grant writing allowed me to hire two veterans part-time. In 1992 I hosted a weekly live-call-in show on Chicago’s cable access TV. In 1994 I co-founded the GI Rights Hotline, a toll-free phone counseling service for military personnel and their families supported by a national network of non-profit groups. I continue to provide them with training in VA claims and take their referrals.

In 1995 I had to close MCMC after donations dried up and I had gone two years without a salary. I was immediately hired as a Veterans Service Officer by the new director of Chicago’s American Legion office representing veterans and their families in VA disability and Pension claims. He had run into me at discharge upgrade board hearings and we both had been doing outreach to local veterans with shows on Chicago’s cable access TV channel (mine was a weekly, live, call-in show). In 1999, the veterans that I represented won nearly $500,000 in retroactive benefits, an unprecedented amount. I was fired the next year in retaliation for a labor grievance that I had filed against the Legion’s state adjutant.

In 2001 fate allowed me to become a Mental Health Rehabilitation Caseworker at the Heartland Chicago Health Outreach. This experience as a member of an ACT team, working with a PSR center was life-changing for me. It gave me clinical experience with mental health professionals that complemented my work with disability claims and expanded my counseling skills to the point that I realized how limited they had been in the past. At the end of 2003 I found my first homeless Afghanistan veteran in a shelter and I notified VVAW, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, of this. I had been working with referrals from VVAW since 1979. Within a month they offered me a job staffing a counseling hotline for GI’s and veterans for $1000 a month. I took it, despite the loss of benefits.

From March 2004 to August 2012 I was Director of Military & Veterans Counseling for Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Because of declining donations I was laid off by VVAW. I was on call 24/7 via cell phone. Over the phone, internet and in person I provided supportive peer-counseling, referrals, and information to military personnel, veterans and their families. I became the primary resource on VA claims for Chicago area vets groups, the GI Rights Hotline and Iraq Veterans Against the War. I helped clients to obtain and understand military and medical records, find appropriate psychological treatment and evaluations and helped them use these in VA disability claims and discharge upgrade applications. I wrote a web page on these issues at the VVAW.org web site and regular columns in VVAW’s “VETERAN.” I reviewed decisions made in discharge upgrade cases and VA disability and pension claims and helped clients understand the laws and respond to letters. Until the DoD and VA set up their suicide hotline, many calls during the first few years were “crisis” intervention. After a prisoner rights newsletter printed a story on our services we had a flood of inquiries. In response, I spent a year training 3 volunteers who all became accredited VA Claims Agents. We then hired a therapist, becoming the only veterans group with one on staff, who then began training the 40,000 volunteer mental health professionals of “The Soldiers Project.” For five years I hosted a weekly, live, call-in TV show on Chicago cable access. I arranged with other veterans groups to take turns so that every Thursday evening veterans could find help. It was streamed live by CANTV on the internet and past episodes are posted on the web at “veteranshelpingveterans.us“.