Wednesday, January 09, 2008
MY IMPEACHMENT PROJECT--THIRD ADDRESS TO THE FORT WORTH CITY COUNCIL
Art is something you do in hopes that perhaps you will move people in some positive way. But you're also aware that you may move them to anger or they may simply ignore your work. Or they may mock you, they might say you're not even worthy of being called an artist. They may even come out with something completely unexpected. But you go on and do the work, anyway; you do the painting, the sculpture or whatever it is and you put it out there without having too many expectations.
And so far, it would seem my little project is inspiring mostly anger and a degree of hostility, which seems to be increasing with each time I go back. And I can say that already after having gone before the City Council only three times. So it will be interesting to see what it will be like by, say, the fifth or sixth time, let alone the twentieth, that is, if I have the stamina to keep it up that long. I make no promises at this point.
Suffice to say that the expression on the Mayor's face last night was particularly sour. When I ran over a bit, which I always do (but never more than thirty or forty seconds), he urged me to "wrap it up," but sounded more cranky than usual. One of the council members ran her mouth almost the entire time with the person next to her. Finally, I paused and just looked at her, at which point she assumed a mock expression like a high school kid who'd just been chastised by her teacher. It's not the first time she's done it. If it happens again, I may say something to her.
So, here's the third installment of. . ."My Impeachment Project."
Mr. Mayor, Council Members, I come before you for the third time to ask you to consider a resolution to impeach the President and Vice-President of the United States.
There is no doubt the President's unnecessary and illegal war has brought real harm to our states and cities. It has harmed the people of Fort Worth.
To date, our city's share in this war amounts to around 890-million dollars. That's how much money has left this community from the pockets of our taxpayers since the war began in 2003.
And this is from a town whose household income already falls below the national average, whose poverty rate is 5% higher than the national average.
22% of Fort Worth households have a member not covered by health insurance. Twenty-two percent.
With that 890-million dollars, the city of Fort Worth could have provided health care for all those people, and then some.
How many people in our community are struggling to put someone through college? 890-million dollars could have provided 127-thousand scholarships for university students.
The number of homeless veterans is on the increase--due to the Bush Administration's extension of tours of duty that force our soldiers to return again and again to the killing ground far beyond what anyone should be required to do. It's little wonder that many are returning home with their mental faculties seriously impaired, unable to work or even cope.
But the largest percentage of homeless locally and nationally is no longer homeless men, but entire families. That includes people who work, by the way, but whose take-home pay won't take them home.
For the 890-million dollars that left our community and went into this war, we could have built over 10,000 affordable housing units.
Catholic Charities reports a 139% increase in the number of people served right here in this community over the last six years.
This is the story of just one city among thousands across this country--harmed by this war, by federal spending priorities that favor militarism over the needs of human beings.
Our president and vice-president have lied and they have committed crimes. When our leaders subvert the law to their own ends, it threatens our democracy. It undermines the glue that holds us together, not just on the national level, but in every city and town.
A statement issued by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Worth says this:
"Our nation was established as a 'commonwealth.' The very word suggests a form of government that was not an authoritarian state serving the interests of a few, but rather a form of government that serves the common good, the common well being. This means that, along with the privilege of participating in our democracy, we have shared responsibility to contribute to the common good."
To that I would just add that as members of this commonwealth, it is the business of all of us to see that no one who rules over us is above the law. As citizens of a commonwealth who care about our city, our nation and our democracy, I don't see how we have any other choice.
Thank you for hearing me.