Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Friday, September 21, 2007

United Auto Workers Union, job security, collective bargaining

As long as the future of the auto industry remains in the hands of Chief Executive Officers of the Big Three there can be no job security.

The time has come for autoworkers to become full participants in the decision making process.

So far, no one has asked the workers employed at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant what they think should be done with this plant and the hydro dam.

All talk of job security is a farce unless autoworkers are involved fully in this process.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

All time record low turn out at the Polls in St. Paul, Minnesota

Well... it looks like the people of St. Paul, Minnesota are thrilled with their right to vote. Less than 5% of those eligible to vote showed up at the polls... I don't imagine we will be seeing this figure used any time soon to persuade the peoples of the world about how great American democracy is... but, already the political pundits are at it putting their spin on things... what are they saying? These pundits are telling us people didn't bother voting because they are just tickled pink with the performance of St. Paul politicians who never mentioned the Ford Plant closing or the Ford dam being sold to a foreign power generating company.

After interviewing dozens of St. Paul voters at the polling places during the last General Election, I have a little different take on the low voter turn out: People are fed up with not having any real options when they go to the polls.

With voter turnouts like this the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party (MN DFL) should be very concerned... maybe its time for Brian Melendez, the MN DFL Chair to organize that walk through the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant to find out what it is working people really want... looks to me like UAW Local 879 sat out this election... and so did everyone else who wants to see the Ford Plant saved.

Strange, but not a single candidate addressed the issue of the Ford Plant closing yet it is the single most important issue on peoples' minds. Maybe some people should consider write-in campaigns making saving the Ford Plant the issue?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant... voters should force the politicians to respond to this issue

Doesn't it seem a little strange, that during an election, St. Paul candidates for city council are evading the issue of what can be done to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant?

Two-thousand jobs are at stake and Pat Harris' major concern is the contamination of the Little League Fields. How is it this soil was not tested long ago knowing Ford's record for contaminating its sites? Young people were allowed to play ball on this site... a site which we now know presents a danger. Here we have another issue of politicians not caring about human health and safety... just like with the I-35W Bridge.

Now, are we to trust Council member Pat Harris and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce in telling us that a manufacturing use for this Plant can not be found?

Well, why not consider the option of public ownership? Rangers can continue to be produced in this Plant indefinitely.

Common sense tells us there continues to be a strong market for the Ranger class of pick-up trucks in the construction industry, the Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources, as vehicles used in recreation to pull boats and campers and for hunting and fishing.

Slash the price of the vehicle, cut out advertising, and sell the vehicles to government agencies across the country and around the world at the real cost of production.

There is no reason why at least 7,000 workers can not be employed at a plant operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Cut the work week to 36 hours with forty hours pay.

We talk about democracy in this country yet no one has asked Ford workers or the people in the community if they want to keep this plant operating. Certainly after all these years the existing work-force doesn't need Ford management to tell them how to build a world-class pick-up truck. Workers can run this plant if it is placed under State/Community ownership.

We always hear politicians talk about, "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs."

Well, here is the opportunity to create thousands of new jobs managing this plant to produce vehicles society needs while putting people to work; and, what do politicians want to do? Demolish a perfectly good plant sending the jobs down the river just like what Ford has been doing for years with its contaminated waste.

The hydro dam and the plant should be protected through legislation as a single entity by bringing both under public ownership... after all, tax-payers have subsidized Ford's operation in St. Paul for about 80 years. Isn't it time tax-payers own the plant and the dam already?

For those who dislike the concept of public ownership because it sounds too much like socialism (as if capitalism has been able to solve this problem) I would suggest that should public ownership not work out, the plant could always be sold back to private industry or demolished later... but, saving this plant right now and at least 2,000 union jobs should be our primary concern.

The candidates for St. Paul City Council should be addressing this issue. Why aren't they?

Some people say it will take too much money to bankroll such an operation... well, let's put an end to this dirty war in Iraq and we can create a world class manufacturing facility... the school and research center already exist as an integral part of this plant's operation.

Actually, I am wondering why the Chair of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, Brian Melendez, has not led a delegation of St. Paul and Minneapolis City officials and DFL state legislators on a tour of this plant to talk directly to the workers who will be losing their jobs to see what they think about the idea of public ownership of this plant. Quite frankly, I think we all know the answer. two-thousand workers would rather be working and don't care who owns the plant. These politicians could ask the workers if they want to run the plant and if they are capable of doing so. From the plant this delegation could tour the community and surrounding neighborhoods to find out what people think about this idea. Isn't this what democracy is supposed to be about?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Officials, workers respond rapidly, aggressively, on behalf of bridge victims, families, and commuters

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Officials, workers respond rapidly, aggressively, on behalf of bridge victims, families, and commuters

by Al McFarlane and B.P. Ford the editors

Last Updated: 8/10/2007 1:45:17 PM

Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman led the Minnesota Congressional delegation in securing passage of emergency assistance in the wake of the Interstate 35W bridge tragedy August 1. Their legislation authorizes $250 million for repair and rebuilding of the bridge, authorizes the project for emergency funding and waives the current cap on emergency funding dollars. President Bush signed the bill into law, allowing Minnesota to proceed with reconstruction efforts with the promise of federal reimbursement. The bill provides $5 million to enhance public transportation services while rebuilding takes place.

Klobuchar said the action was good news for Minnesota at the close of a week that has brought so much heartbreak to the state. "Senator Coleman and I were able to impress upon our colleagues the importance and urgency of this funding. This was the most-heavily traveled bridge in the state and our people and businesses absolutely depend on it. Our whole state is concerned about completing the recovery operations from this disaster and moving forward to build a new bridge," she said.

"As we mourn those who were lost to this horrible catastrophe, it is imperative that we determine how this happened to spare other cities from such tragedy," said Coleman. "At the same time, we must take immediate steps to rebuild this important artery in the heart of the Mill City. By authorizing the reconstruction of the bridge, authorizing the project for emergency relief funding, and providing transit assistance to ease congestion in the interim, we can begin this long but necessary process. We are going to rebuild this bridge as a community and we are going to rebuild it quickly."

On Thursday, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters announced a $5 million grant to begin the rebuilding process. Senators Klobuchar and Coleman joined Secretary Peters in a tour of the site and visited the area again Saturday, August 3 with First Lady Laura Bush and Sunday, August 4 with President George Bush.

Third Ward Minneapolis City Council Member, Dianne Hofstede said, "Our thoughts go out to all of the families and individuals who were impacted by this tragic accident. Also, we think of the many emergency response personnel who came to the aid of many and who continue to engage in the recovery efforts. A city like ours cannot function without the care and compassion of such personnel. There are many heroes. One of them is Shannon Hansen, the Minneapolis Fire Department Captain and Third Ward resident who many of you saw on the news risking her life to do rescue work in the waters."

Hofstede said, "Locally I will be working with our state representatives, the Mayor, fellow council members, city staff, the University, the Met Council, Metro Transit and other officials on a plan to ensure a smooth transition as we move forward. Of particular concern is the re-routing of the traffic, which used the I-35 W Bridge for traffic routes both north and south. Another major concern has been that of the debris in the river."

Hofstede said public officials are discussing the impact of the I-35W Bridge on the surrounding neighborhoods. A request was made for more ongoing communication with the neighborhoods. "We are working with Metro Transit and the Met Council to order more buses and gather as many as possible from a variety of resources, looking at instituting more Park and Ride lots and other methods of encouraging the use of buses and alternative modes of transportation," she said.

Eliot Seide, Director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 5 said AFSCME members were on the bridge when it collapsed. He said one inspector was injured and hospitalized for surgery.

"AFSCME members are some of the everyday heroes who brought calm to this disaster. We saved lives as part of the medical teams at HCMC and Fairview Hospital. And our 911 and radio control operators took calls from motorists plunging into the river and dispatched first responders. Our state correctional officers provided additional security at the disaster site," Seide said.

Michael Wood, speaking on behalf of the Minneapolis club of the Communist Party USA said, "The Bush White House says that now is not the time to point fingers. We disagree."

"Under the Pawlenty administration we have seen a poor economy worsening, budgetary cutbacks on the state's infrastructure and attacks on vital social services. There has been no attempt by Pawlenty to stop St. Paul's Ford Plant from closing and save the union jobs of those employed there. Meanwhile, Governor Pawlenty supports and continues to use Minnesota taxpayer's money to fund the continuing war against Iraq. Pawlenty has supported tax breaks to the state's wealthiest individuals and corporations and thus shifted the costly burden of the war unto the shoulders of working class Minnesotans," Wood said.

The collapse of the bridge resulting in the unnecessary deaths and suffering also reveals a national crisis, with George Bush at the center, of prioritizing guns instead of butter; aircraft carriers instead of the rights of union workers; rifles instead of universal health care; missiles instead of full and guaranteed employment; and bombs instead of books. The Bush agenda is an agenda of war, economic insecurity, poverty and racism," he said.

"Now more than ever, working class people need state and national leaders that fund human needs instead of war and corporate greed. We need a movement that values people and bridge repair, not maximum corporate profit and military invasions of other countries."


From: Insight News, Minneapolis African-American newspaper.