Wednesday, May 27, 2009


In one of those rare convergences of synchronicity, Public Good operatives in the Bay Area and Puget Sound are in the midst of closing files on cases against institutions of higher education this month. Perry Mills versus Western Washington University (WWU), and SEIU versus New College of California, both stem from abuses of power and money-laundering.

In yesterday's ruling in the Washington Appeals Court, Professor Mills was awarded attorney's fees for being railroaded behind closed doors after whistle-blowing about financial irregularities at WWU. In December, SEIU was awarded attorney's fees against New College, but resolution of back wages and benefits remains undetermined for the now closed private college in San Francisco.

Public Good case managers are looking forward to a little time off.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

20 Year Service Award

Some of our readers asked if we ever received anything tangible as reward for our twenty years of public service. The short answer is yes; both Paul and I received a sandwich and a plaque in separate ceremonies -- mine in 2000, and his in 2001. While some might think this pretty skimpy, we tend to put it into perspective: many of our peers during these two decades had their homes bombed, reputations soiled, livelihoods ruined, or lives taken; compared to them we came out pretty well.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Anchorage Declaration

The United Nations has been put on notice by the Indigenous Peoples' Global Summit on Climate Change that business as usual is no longer acceptable under the new international human rights regime. In the April 24 Anchorage Declaration, world indigenous leaders like Bolivian President Evo Morales announced new demands to be taken up by the UN this December in Copenhagen. Public Good was happy to play a role in advising indigenous participants on some of the anticipated social conflict surrounding related upcoming indigenous sovereignty initiatives.

Monday, May 04, 2009

No Tomorrow

The April 21 FRONTLINE special Poisoned Waters looks at the last chance for Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound to avoid becoming dead zones. In that special, Washington's governor remarked that without citizen engagement, Puget Sound will die. As FRONTLINE observed, that engagement revolves around the state's Growth Management Act.

Washington state's Growth Management Act, itself the result of a 1990 citizen's initiative to prevent the crisis aired in Poisoned Waters, was fought tooth and nail by both political parties, unions, and all major business interests. Throughout the state, those of us who heeded the call by organizing concerned citizens in our communities were threatened, assaulted, or harassed by vigilantes organized and funded by the Building Industry Association. In 1996, eight of these vigilantes went to prison for making bombs to murder community activists and elected officials. (See Public Good Project archives.)

The reason these battles are fought over and over again, with the public interest continually losing ground, is that there is no continuity of leadership in community organizing. The reason leadership is not sustained and nurtured is there is no formalized community support, and thus no means to teach the lessons and skills needed to protect themselves. Rather, leadership is perpetually squandered as if there is no tomorrow--a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Debate on Prostitution

Last week, Center for World Indigenous Studies Associate Scholar Melissa Farley participated in a panel debate on prostitution. You can listen to the debate on National Public Radio. In November 2008, Public Good helped Dr. Farley and other San Francisco activists defeat Prop K -- a prostitution legalization initiative -- and position themselves to promote a plan for local authorities to complement federal agencies in ending human-trafficking for sex slavery in the city.