Common Ground Makes An Impression

At the Vallejo City Council on October 27, Common Ground made a presentation on various models of Citizen Oversight for the Vallejo Police Department.
 

In order to present this information, the Public Safety Team met with hundreds of community members to hear their concerns and discuss issues with experts on oversight. The intent is for this to lead to study sessions, expert forums, more community input, and listening sessions with the VPD. We showed the City Council and the viewers who Common Ground is and what it can do when we organize. When we say we want to be at the table we mean it!
 

AND BOY DID WE MAKE AN IMPRESSION!
 

The City Council could not have been more complimentary. They all praised not only the presentation, but the dedication of our organization. The Mayor also mentioned including Common Ground in the weekly City of Vallejo Newsletter that goes out to thousands in Vallejo!
 

In other Common Ground news, the Mobile Crisis Unit Team is currently contacting people and organizations in the County in an effort to find all the people who have invested interest in making a mobile crisis unit in Vallejo-Benicia. The County currently is embarking on a mobile crisis unit pilot program that will begin in Fairfield and Dixon in January, but may not come to Vallejo until 2023 at the earliest! That is not good enough... People are hurting, people are dying, and there is no time to wait! So we are hoping to pressure the county to open a unit in Vallejo or for the city to start an independent crisis unit. There is a lot of excitement for this from non-profits, hospitals, city official, and community members, so the time is now to get to work!

Common Ground Victory

 Governor Newsom recently signed into law an expansion of the California Earned Income Tax Credit to include ALL Californians, regardless of immigration status. This decision will extend the credit, year after year, to over to 2 million undocumented immigrants.
 

California IAF leaders have been organizing since March to find relief for immigrant workers who have been disproportionately impacted by the health and economic fallout of Covid-19.
 

“What we have been pressing for is justice for essential workers, not charity,” said Fr. Arturo Corral, Pastor at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Los Angeles. “It cannot be disputed that immigrant workers are bearing the brunt of pandemic-related health risks in order to keep all our boats afloat. We could not provide food for our families without their labor. They pay billions in local and state taxes, and they contribute over 180 billion dollars to our economy. And they have been ruthlessly left out of federal relief."
 

"Governor Newsom’s decision to include these taxpayers in the Cal EITC means that our state is finally beginning to recognize our immigrant workforce and to value their labor.” Fr. Arturo Corral
On May 5, 2020, over 1,200 California IAF leaders convened on Zoom, along with 10 Bishops and 9 state legislators to press Governor Newsom to expand the Cal EITC. More than 1,000 faith and community leaders signed on to a letter in support of the expansion, and in the thick of budget negotiations organized hundreds of leaders to send letters to the Governor and to the top leadership of the senate and assembly.
 

Congratulations to all involved in this fight, including Common Ground!
-The Old School Organizers Who Got it Done on Zoom, High Country News

Huge Common Ground Event

Last week Common Ground held a Public Safety Civic Academy to share community stories with our civic leaders in Vallejo. With over 100 in attendance, we spoke to the community including State Assembly Member Tim Grayson, City Manager Greg Nyhoff, and Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams. We had them listen to the months of research and stories gathered from our house meetings, then we asked some questions:   

-Chief Williams, we want to work WITH you to build a culture of true accountability. We know it will take time, but we believe the first step is for officers to listen. Will you work with us to organize listening sessions so our members can share stories like these directly with your officers? He answered, Yes! (Side Note: Sessions are being scheduled now!)

-Mr. Nyhoff, will you meet with Common Ground in the next month to discuss how Vallejo can build a police accountability model that has some real teeth? He answered, Yes! (Side Note: A meeting is scheduled for early Sept.!)

-Chief Williams, will you commit to pulling together a meeting with the Common Ground, the county, and local hospitals, and invite our state Assemblyman Tim Grayson, to start working on a mobile crisis unit THIS MONTH? He answered, Yes! 

-Mr. Nyhoff, as the city manager, you make a lot of decisions about how the city’s money gets spent. Do you commit to working with Common Ground to determine spending priorities for the tax revenue if the tax passes – and do you commit to bringing developers to the table to negotiate with the community BEFORE their projects are approved? He answered, Yes!

This could all be lip service, but that is where we come in! Common Ground is not a flash in the pan – we are here for the long haul. We know this work takes stamina. That’s why we built this organization. The City Manager, and the Police Chief, have committed to working with us. We WILL hold them accountable, but we need to be accountable too! Now it’s up to us – WE WANT TO HAVE 10 LISTENING SESSIONS with police officers between now and October 5th. We have already invited our current city council, and all the candidates for mayor and city council, to our BIG ACTION ON OCTOBER 5th where they'll listen to what we’ve heard, and commit to working with us.

“The time is always right to do the right thing.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Not only will we have to repent for the sins of bad people; but we also will have to repent for the appalling silence of good people.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Common Ground Update

The Covid-19 pandemic has inflicted a toll on Vallejo’s people and economy, and is revealing the underlying disparities in our society. Across California, African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Pacific Islanders have double the mortality rate of white residents. People living in the poorest neighborhoods have a mortality rate that is four times that of people living in the wealthiest neighborhoods. Common Ground's conversations with the community paint a familiar picture: these groups are more likely to have to work outside the home to survive, and are more likely to be forced to live in crowded housing, and to have underlying health conditions.

These factors reflect our society’s historic disinvestment in institutions and services that support the well-being of marginalized groups, and communities of color, as well as decades of discrimination that have kept these groups, especially African-Americans, from gaining wealth. Violence, including at the hands of police, is part of this picture.

In dozens of meetings and conversations over the last month, Common Ground has been hearing from residents spanning Solano and Napa Counties racial and economic diversity. While funds for basic services are desperately needed in this time of Covid-19, many residents are also feeling a lack of trust in city government, especially in the police department. 


So we are stepping into action. Along with continuing to hear stories from the community, the Covid Team is making suggestions to Solano County on how the $46 million CARES Act should be past. And the Public Safety Team is meeting with the Vallejo Police Chief, County Supervisors, City Council members, and community activists to gather info from them and to tell them what our community wants from our Public Servants.


Upcoming Events:
Public Safety Team Meeting 7/28/20 6pm - 7:30pm
Covid-19 Response Team Meeting 7/29/20 6pm - 7:30pm
Public Safety Civic Academy ACTION 8/17/20 Time TBD


A New Focus To Mission Action Giving

As July 1st approaches when officers and coordinators begin a new term, the Ministry Council proposes that our monthly outreach gift recipient going forward is selected being mindful of organizations that aid underrepresented groups and the most vulnerable. FCC-V has a history of doing just this (as is evident with our June gift to the Native American Rights Fund), and we propose continuing to build this vision into our ongoing gifts. Our challenge will be to identify groups and organizations that promote racial justice along with social, economic, and environmental justice as it relates to vulnerable and historically underrepresented brethren - and prioritize such groups for our monthly outreach gift. Stay tuned for more news as the year continues.

A Special Donation in this Time of Need


The outreach efforts of FCC-V show up in a variety of different opportunities. This past month, we sent three dozen rolls of toilet paper to The Harvest House Transitional Residence, which provides a safe and caring place for women and women with their children to live. With the current state of non-availability of paper products and cleaning supplies, the Residence reached out for donations. FCC-V had recently purchased a HUGE supply of toilet paper, and of course, the church’s needs right now are all but zero. So it seemed like a no-brainer for Admin and Mission Action to make the donation, which was greatly appreciated.

The program’s mission statement says: The Harvest House Transitional Residence is a non-profit, transitional housing program for women. Our main concern is providing love, care, life skills, training, and encouragement to women who feel hopeless. We will equip women with the necessary fundamentals needed to become productive members of their families and community. Additionally we strive to reinforce a positive lifestyle, as well as promote social, emotional, and spiritual growth. If you’d like to learn more about this program, please link to: harvestresidence.com