Here is the 2015 Platform for the Green Party of St. Louis. Click on the links below to read more about the planks in our platform.
In addition, don't forget to go out and vote on April 7th! Here is a list of polling places in St. Louis City.
Economic conditions in the city of St. Louis and surrounding communities have improved since the trough of the Great Recession but they are far from ideal even when compared to other US urban areas. The St. Louis metro area ranks only at 32 nd place in terms of unemployment rate (5.6%), higher than Kansas City (5.0%), Pittsburgh and Cincinnati (4.3%), Denver (3.9%), and first place Minneapolis-St.Paul (3.0%) among the 50 largest urban areas. But these statistics belie how poorly the city of St. Louis itself is doing. For instance, the average monthly unemployment rate in 2013 was 9.1% in the city compared to 6.5% in St. Louis County. Both city and county unemployment rates have declined in recent years from peaks of 12.8% for the city and 9.1% for the county, but the decline for the city is due almost entirely to an extreme decline in the labor force. During the first decade of this century St. Louis city experienced a modest decline in its labor force, from a peak of 163,490 in 2001 to 159,293 in 2009. but then the labor force fell precipitously to 139,643 in 2013, a decline of 12.3% in just 4 years. Meanwhile a meager 619 net new jobs were created in the city from 2010 to 2013. This was the anemic response to the loss of 14,178 jobs in the city from 2009 to 2010. Surely we can do better; it would be difficult to do worse.
The city of St. Louis also has unacceptable levels of poverty. In 2009 the overall poverty rate was 26.5% for the city compared to less than 10% in St. Louis county, and less than 15% in Missouri and the US. The city poverty rate for those under 18 years of age was 40.7% in 2009 compared to about 12% in the county and 20% in the state and the US. These data do not distinguish between black and white poverty rates, but other sources indicate that black poverty rates, particularly for black youth, are significantly higher than those for whites. Income data simply reinforces the far less than satisfactory picture for St. Louis city residents. Median income for city residents is below that for St. Louis county, about a quarter less than for Misouri, and a third less than in the US overall.
Clearly the economic picture for St. Louis residents is far from satisfactory. Moreover, there is little evidence that programs at the local level or the national level have done much to improve the situation. Therefore the Green Party proposes the following economic programs to create living wage jobs, reduce poverty, and establish economic justice in the city of St. Louis.
1. Raise the wage of all St. Louis workers to at least a living wage of $15 per hour. This can be accomplished by city ordinance, or a city referendum, and, as a start, requiring all city contractors to establish a minimum $15 per hour entry level wage. Together with other programs to create city jobs, the $15 minimum will become the standard for St. Louis.
2. Labor’s right to time and a half for overtime worked needs to be reasserted and adjusted for increases in the cost of living. In 1975, 53.2% of workers in Missouri who earned the current equivalent of $984 per week or less, qualified for overtime pay. Today, due to inflation, anyone earning over $455 per week can be denied overtime pay even if they are required to work 70 or 80 hours per week. Earnings of $455 per week implies a poverty standard of living for families, and if required to work over 62 hours per week, implies an hourly wage below the Federal minimum wage. To address this injustice, city contractors should be required to pay overtime to all workers making under $50,000 per year whatever their job classification, thus restoring the 1975 overtime status for workers.
3. Establish sick leave benefits for low income workers. Unlike every other developed country, in the US paid sick is a benefit reserved almost exclusively for high earners. Among the top 10% of private industry earners, 87% have paid sick leave, whereas just 30% of the bottom 25% of earners have access to paid sick leave, and typically for them it is only 2 sick days per year. This inequity should be addressed by requiring all firms doing business in the city of St. Louis to provide at least 7 days of sick leave per year for all their workers.
4. Promote business and employment for St. Louis’ minority population. Well over half the population of the city of St. Louis are black and Hispanic residents. Yet these people are among the most economically depressed in the area, with, on average, twice the unemployment rates and half the annual incomes of non-minority residents. To promote a more just economic environment, reduce unemployment and raise low incomes, black and Hispanic businesses need to be able to compete for a much larger share of City contract business. A commission should be established to define just and equitable dimensions of this program.
5. Promote economic development in North St. Louis and other depressed areas of the city. Mayor Slay and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen have devoted far too much energy and City resources to the development of the downtown area at the expense of neglecting the rest of the city. To remedy this, the Board of Aldermen, working with regional Universities, public interest groups, and progressive corporations, should establish an area economic development plan, and aggressively seek funding from Federal, state, and profit and non-profit organizations. The plan would be approved by a public referendum and implemented by a publically elected commission.
6. Actively seek to promote an inclusive collective bargaining movement in St. Louis that works for the rights of all. Unions that are demographically inclusive and that actively support and campaign for the rights of workers on the job and for good working conditions should be given preference in city contracts. Contracts below a defined threshold need not be union, but the contractors must respect the rights of their workers as if they were unionized.
The challenges faced by our public education system are community issues, and must be addressed as such. It is impossible to fix something, if you do not recognize what is actually causing the problem.
It would be so simple if we could point to just one reason for low academic performance and then pick one reform that would turn around student achievement. However, the causes and the solutions are far more complicated. Blaming educators, and reactive measures are counterproductive to improving our educational institutions. There are numerous reasons why some schools and students do better than others, and it takes a variety of reforms to address the issues.
A significant number of students in the St. Louis Public School District live in impoverished households. They bring to school challenges that children from wealthier communities have not experienced. Thousands of St. Louis students live in communities that are prone to violence, many do not have basic needs, such as food, and lack the familial support they need.
Community schools offer programs and services that are designed to help students and families with their most pressing needs. For instance, community schools stay open through the evening hours and provide extra tutoring, a safe environment, and recreational activities for students. Community partners would provide comprehensive services, such as health and dental care, counseling programs, and other social services.
Community schools have seen promising progress across the United States.. Student achievement in those schools has improved, and school officials attribute gains to attention being given to the needs of the "whole child." Establishing community schools that serve our most struggling communities could be very impactful on the performance of our St. Louis Public School students. So rather than board up schools, let's put them to use in a productive way. These vacant properties could be used as community schools that would educate and care for the whole child.
All teachers need ongoing professional development, with relevant training in curriculum and interpersonal skills, such as building trust and relationships as well as detect signs of trauma in their students. Students who misbehave should receive special attention in order to address underlying issues instead of the currently practiced ‘zero tolerance’ since suspensions cause further delays in learning, therefore potentially increase the dropout rate. In addition, all children should have full access to preschool, in order to prepare for school.
Many of St. Louis’s public schools have higher than average dropout, and teen pregnancy rates. Practical incentives for graduation must be outlined for students, as well as creative, fun incentives for teens to stay in school. Comprehensive sex education programs should be offered to students; and we should create discussion groups for teens, so they may have an environment in which they feel secure asking questions.
Resolution of the Gateway Greens on Charter Schools
Supporting community schools means having a strong public school system. Greens are concerned that charter schools are taking money away from traditional public schools. Our children's education should be compassionate, address the whole child, be of the highest academic quality, be based on decision-making which is democratic and transparent, include staff who are fully qualified and receive adequate salaries and reflect citizens' freedom of religion. Therefore, the Greens believe that educational policy of Missouri (including St. Louis City and St. Louis County) regarding private schools should reflect the following principles:
1. All charter schools must have standards at least as high as those of public schools, including:
A. ... a transparent decision-making process, which means that boards or governing bodies of charter schools have meetings which are open to the public (including taxpayers, parents and staff) and which have the same time frame as public schools regarding advanced announcement of agendas and publication of minutes;
B. ... the same standards of student selection as public schools, meaning that charter schools cannot “cream” (admit only students with the highest academic records or the fewest behavioral problems) or “dump” (return students with academic or behavioral problems to public schools);
C. ...provision of resources and supports for students which are of a quality at least as high as those of public schools;
D. … use of the same standardized tests for students and same criteria that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) uses to evaluate public schools;
E. ... provision of salaries and benefits to professional and non-professional staff that are the same as those for staff in public schools;
F. ... requiring that professional and non-professional staff have qualifications and degrees that are at least as high as those for staff in public schools; and,
G. ... have the same number of academic hours for students as do public schools;
2. Greens call for a moratorium on contracts with new charter schools until the conditions above are satisfied for existing charter schools as well as demonstration by charter schools that they have the same ability to keep student records as do St. Louis Public Schools.
3. Since desegregation money was intended for public schools, none of those funds should go to charter schools.
4. In order to respect freedom of religion (or no religion), tax dollars should not finance religious schools.
5. Greens strongly support the right of all staff at charter schools to organize themselves into a union.
St. Louis should have an ecological approach to living that addresses the very serious issues that confront our city. Instead, the Slay administration has a record of “greenwashing,” or using language that implies environmental preservation, while maintaining policies that are actually detrimental to our environment.
Though the voters of St. Louis said that they did not want to spend public money on a private sports stadium, Slay advocated tearing down the old baseball stadium, and building a new one with fewer seats. In the process, a ton of CO2 was spewed into the atmosphere for every ton of cement used. Again, he is supporting plans to build a new football stadium, despite our city already having one. This plan would destroy our historic riverfront, further pollute our city, and would not create any permanent new jobs. According to the American Lung Association’s 2013 report, St. Louis has the 12th worst air quality of major metropolises in the U.S. Mayor Slay’s Sustainability Plan, released in 2014, only partially addresses the issue of pollution. It calls for increases in alternative methods of transportation, but does not address the industrial polluters in St. Louis; who are responsible for the majority of our air pollution.
When the West Nile virus scare hit, Slay’s Health Department ignored information from environmentalists that pesticide sprays could not reduce mosquito populations and worsened the City’s asthma problems as it sprayed pesticides across St. Louis. The Slay administration was unable to fund the removal of lead contamination that was found in 27 St. Louis schools, but, at the same time it was revealed that they were spending $2 million to beautify the Grand Avenue bridge. The excessive lights from the Kingshighway and Grand Avenue bridges involves the burning of coal to produce wasteful electricity, and could easily have been solar powered. While professing to be environmentally friendly, Francis Slay has NOT lobbied against plans to build “Small Modular Reactors,” (SMR), and continues to accept contributions from proponents of SMRs; Ameren.. Nuclear power is arguably the worst environmental disaster in human history — it risks a meltdown that could destroy St. Louis and Kansas City; exposes workers to excess radiation during routine operation; creates wastes that poison people for thousands of generations, and drives up utility rates so high that low income people cannot afford to pay them. A truly environmentally conscious mayor would do everything possible to prevent new nuclear facilities from opening, and would prohibit nuclear power from being used in St. Louis.
Though City parks should be green spaces to unify neighborhoods [or: Though neighborhood parks should be green spaces to unify communities...] and larger parks unify the entire City, Francis Slay began the process of privatizing parks by attempting to sell off a portion of Forest Park. Mayor Slay’s program to improve Martin Luther King Blvd. involved paving the entire area with concrete, but
did not involve the addition of trees.
In contrast, the Green Party of St. Louis has a record of active environmentalism:
Our elected officials should make sure that incineration is not used as a waste disposal method; never spray pesticides as a method of insect control, propose the labeling of food with genetically engineered components, and increase and maintain public parks throughout all parts of St. Louis.
1. The Green Party calls for a visionary long range program to dramatically reduce pollution and greenhouse gases that are caused by transportation and industry in the City of St. Louis, within the next five years.
2. The most important step in establishing the use of “alternative energy,” is using less energy. The Greens would begin a wide spread educational program to help people understand the need to use heat efficiently by wearing extra clothes and turning the thermostat down when not at home. The Greens would initiate a program to install free central heating systems in homes currently without central heat for occupants who agree to an external governor that sets the heat to no more than 68 degrees during the days and 55 degrees during sleeping hours.
3. Greens advocate making all homes as weather-proof as possible, with a focus on low income neighborhoods, where utilities are often cut off. Low income people without heat often turn to space heaters, which are dangerous, costly, inefficient, andproduce excessive green house gases. Unfortunately, the Urban League will not help weatherize homes if the heat has been cut off. Weatherizing all homes will help low income residents financially, and reduce the amount of energy used, thereby lowering greenhouse gases.
4.The Greens would install solar panels on all public buildings to generate energy; and require utility companies to purchase excess power produced by solar and wind generators on businesses and homes. In order to obtain an occupancy permit, a home should be required to meet at least IECC-2009 standards of energy efficiency. This would include reflectivity standards for roofing, which reduce cooling costs and result in less coal burning at electric plants.
5. The City should begin a demonstration program to construct at least 100 homes to passivhaus standards by 2012, at least 30% of which must be for low income families. A home with the German passivhaus design is so well insulated that it does not require a furnace. The approximate 10–15% extra cost in construction is far outweighed by the huge savings in heating.
6. The Greens advocate tree planting next to road improvements, in new developments and in treeless parks. Trees help our communities in a variety of ways, and we should not take their importance for granted.. They reduce contaminants from the air, and help in stormwater management by slowing runoff. Trees help to cool us in summer, and break winter’s chilling winds. They are also important to our psychology, and encourage people to spend more time outdoors.
7. The Greens will begin a rooftop garden program in St. Louis, to provide more natural cleaning agents for our air, and provide insulating components to buildings.
8. The Green Party advocates a jobs program to bury power lines underground, (as already done in much of Europe) both to prevent outages during storms, and to reduce the need to cut off tree branches. The jobs program would also include opportunities for youth to work for both pay, and school credit, by participating in urban gardening and city clean-up and maintenance.
9. Missouri law prohibits air pollution rules stricter than federal standards. Francis Slay has done nothing to protect citizens, many who suffer from respiratory problems, by opposing this ridiculous restriction. Federal guidelines for air pollution were designed to be minimum standards that local governments could strengthen as they see fit. A Green mayor would actively lobby to overturn this state law, and would work with US representatives to draft federal legislation to guarantee municipalities the right to strengthen pollution standards.
10. The Greens will continue to lobby against the use of nuclear power, and oppose the building of any new nuclear facilities. This includes the Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) proposed by Ameren.
While structural changes in the U.S. economy during the past 30 – 40 years of the ‘War on Drugs’ hit the least qualified in segregated neighborhoods the hardest, mass incarceration became the method of choice to get people off the street and reduce the official unemployment rate by incarcerating increasing numbers of nonviolent offenders for longer and longer periods of time. This sets in motion a vicious circle that keeps particularly black and brown young men entrapped for life. Nonviolent offenders should be given alternative sentences, which provide avenues to high school diplomas, job training and/or college. Building strong communities is the best crime prevention.
The Green Party advocates for the discontinuation of current crime ‘prevention’ methods such as hotspot policing and drone surveillance. We should deemphasize current drug laws, and decriminalize marijuana and all illicit drugs, in order to discourage sale by eliminating the profit margin.
Court systems, designed to handle drug and mental health related charges need to receive greater funding.
Alternative sentencing should be implemented more frequently. There must be increased funding for skills training, and rehabilitation. In addition, easily accessible recreational programs for adolescents and teens, in place throughout the city is strongly indicated to decrease crime, and should, therefor receive prioritized and sufficient funding. (GP Youth and Families Platform).
Ending conditions which create crime is the fundamental solution, and should be our overall goal. St. Louis should work in cooperation with the federal government, for full employment, including a livable wage, and adequate housing for all of its residents. Government needs to look inward, as well. Establishing adequate oversight to find, and root out graft and abuse of power, as well as discrimination, racial profiling and covert racism, should be a priority. Penalties for corporate criminals should be considerably harsher; to create disincentive toward those kinds of crimes.
The recent events in Ferguson and around the country have once more revealed that policing in the U.S. is totally out of balance. Neither citizens, or officers who want to protect and serve the community, are served by a police department rocked by scandal. In the fourteen years of his tenure , Mayor Slay has failed to provide for even minimal police accountability. In 2006, he vetoed the bill for a Civilian Review Board with subpoena power, which had passed in the Board of Aldermen. Finally, in 2012, with massive funding through millionaire Rex Sinquefield, Slay launched a campaign which mislead voters, and resulted in the passing of Proposition A, a pseudo review board without civic participation.
Slay’s tenure as Mayor has been unresponsive to research and statistics that reveal flagrant racism, misconduct, and corruption, involving multiple city departments. His plan for Youth Crime Prevention, proposed in 2012, lacked substance, and failed to address the causal elements of youth violence. Mayor Slay sites the “Ferguson Effect” for the increase in crime in 2014. He has proposed a plan to hire 160 new police officers, but opposes a Civilian Review Board. He is a strong proponent of an ever increasing “toughness on crime” without any proof that currently applied policing
practices are effective.
In 2013, Police Chief Dotson applied for approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, and collected the funding for the purchasing of a drone; which is estimated to cost around $30,000 - $60,000. The increased use of ‘HotSpot’ policing, and the proposal to incorporate the use of drones, will waste more tax payer dollars on practices that will further target and disenfranchise the poor and at risk neighborhoods, and will likely prove ineffective. Building a police department that deserves the trust of the people it serves would be a more effective path.
The Green Party requests that the mayor must install an effective Civilian Oversight Board as part of a new climate of accountability. As part of this reform, the Mayor should sign a Memorandum of Understanding with police rank and file, guaranteeing collective bargaining rights with binding arbitration.
The Missouri annual study of racial profiling has shown no improvement year after year. Our police force needs to reflect the racial makeup of the communities they serve. Officers should undergo racial bias testing prior to entering into service, and should live in the communities they are policing. We must ensure that we are strengthening the trust between officers and the communities they police. This can be accomplished through de-escalation training for officers and education of the public on basic laws and rights, and police department policy and procedure.
Given the nature of their job, police officers should be equipped with a point-of-view body camera. In addition, police should maintain the traditional stance in favor of non-enforcement of federal immigration law by municipal authorities. When considering the issue of gang violence in our city, we must understand the causes of this sort of crime, and address the underlying issues. Cameras that invade the privacy of citizens are neither reasonable nor an effective solution to this problem.
The Green Party Vision:
St. Louis’s North Side should be considered an historic landmark, and real effort should go to restoring the many crumbling buildings and infrastructure. The area should be improved and made accessible and lucrative to the people who have lived there since the end of World War II; which is predominantly, St. Louis’s African American community. The residents on the North Side of St. Louis have been exposed to overtly racist policies, that have led to the decline of that portion of the city. Since the 1950s, residents there have been victims of unfair loan and rent practices, eminent domain abuse, and red-lining; a process by which homeowners are denied loans for home improvement. It was revealed in 2014, that the U.S. Government was intentionally poisoning the residents of Pruitt-Igoe, by testing chemical weapons on the people living in the housing project. The story of how the North Side has decayed to its current state is tragic, and frustrating. It is representative of the systemic racism that is still consuming St. Louis.
Recently, our elected officials have decided that this is the path on which they would like St. Louis to stay. In February 2015, developer, Paul McKee was granted a Certificate of Need by the Missouri Department of Health's Facilities Review Committee, which was needed to begin his redevelopment plan by building an Urgent Care Facility. Since 2003, Paul McKee has used several different companies he owns to purchase more than 600 parcels of land, combined for total of 1,500 acres in North City. The properties are not maintained, and all of them are vacant. Against city ordinance, many of the buildings do not have boards over the windows, some are missing windows, and the lawns are maintained by the city, due to neglect. Due to the vacancy, and lack of maintenance on these properties, the value of surrounding properties is decreased, as well. The properties are sold, from one shell company to another, at an inflated rate. This will allow McKee to take advantage of the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit; and this also distorts the property values in North City, to the disadvantage of the homeowners.
McKee has asked the City of St. Louis for $409,917,496 in tax increment financing, (TIF) which was approved in 2013 by the Missouri Supreme Court. This approval came after a Missouri Circuit Court judge determined that McKee’s plans were too vague to qualify for TIF funding. The redevelopment measures being proposed are unethical, do not consider the historic value of the North Side, and will result in the further disenfranchisement of the residents who currently live there. Properties, such as the Clemens House, which has historically been connected with Mark Twain; could be used as a source of revenue for these neighborhoods. Currently though, they are owned by Paul McKee, and are deteriorating. We are losing our city’s history, so Paul McKee can buy cheap land.
Realistic and ethical redevelopment measures on the North Side must acknowledge the sordidness involved in the history of these neighborhoods, and the impact it has had on the people who live there. The Green Party supports redevelopment that incorporates reparative measures for the people who have been so abused by our local and federal government.
1. Demand a study of the effects the chemicals that were tested by the government on the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in the 1950s, and appropriate reparations awarded to the families who were
2. Propose redevelopment measures that focus on the historic value of the North Side,
3. Propose redevelopment measures that will be inclusive, and beneficial to the current residents of North St. Louis.
4. Properties with historical significance should be preserved, and legislation should be introduced to ensure this is the case on the North Side.
Cities across America, from Boston to Seattle and Miami to Minneapolis-St. Paul and Philadelphia have developed or are developing creative ways of reducing their dependence on the automobile, a major cause of both air pollution and global warming, while making their communities healthier and more livable. It is past time that St. Louis join them. It is the goal of a Green administration to see that this happens.
The Green Party envisions a new St. Louis where citizens can easily make the vast majority of trips by bus, train, trolley, bicycle and walking. Expanding healthy and more efficient forms of transportation would enormously improve the City’s air quality, reduce traffic injuries and deaths, and lower the incidence of heart disease and diabetes. Reduced automobile dependency will mean less traffic congestion, shorter commute times, and fewer stress-related illnesses. It also offers the prospect of real savings on transportation costs. Research has shown that in communities that are more automobile dependent households spend $4000 more per year on surface transportation than in communities with more diverse modes of transportation. .
Unfortunately, mayor Francis Slay’s policy of continuing to focus on the automobile for transportation has produced an ecological and urban planning nightmare for St. Louis. A Green administration would overcome automobile addiction by implementing a comprehensive plan with five key components:
A Green administration would purchase only energy efficient vehicles for use by the City. By itself, this would be woefully inadequate to slow the hurricanes and other weather disasters which accompany global warming. The only way to seriously reduce automobile emissions is to reduce automobile dependency.
Though Francis Slay advocated using public money to pay for a private stadium and for tax give-aways he could not find money to increase train and bus routes. Better financial prioritization would allow a Green administration to take steps necessary to provide adequate mass transit in St. Louis, including calling a Conference of US City Mayors to demand Congressional funding throughout the US. A Green administration would:
The Slay administration has stood by while St. Louis’ transportation system has become embarrassingly outdated. Highway 64/40 is being rebuilt with no plans for bus lanes or “high occupancy vehicle” (HOV) lanes reserved for cars with three or more occupants. A Green administration would actively work to ensure that every highway and thoroughfare in the St. Louis area has bus and HOV lanes.
St. Louis needs a comprehensive urban plan that will allow every resident to bicycle or walk to a grocery store and community school. Under Francis Slay’s leadership, the City has wasted tax dollars on “share the road” signs and seemingly random bike lane designations where there is frequently inadequate road space for bicycles. Such a reckless public relations gimmick risks injury or death of cyclists lured into thinking the signs make roads safe.
At a minimum, a Green administration would:
The Slay administration has done nothing to reduce the vast areas dedicated to parking spaces and parking lots. Excessive parking spaces are dangerous for bicycles, interfere with commerce by increasing the walking distance between shops, and degrade the attractiveness of neighborhoods. Current rules require businesses to have 1 parking space for every 3 people in the occupancy permit. The Green Party would change this to 1 parking space for every 5 people immediately and 1 parking space for every 9 people in two years.
Improved mass transit and traffic light preemption will let St. Louisans get to work faster by public transportation than by driving cars. This will lead to more people using buses and trains. If St. Louisans could also get to neighborhood schools, shopping and recreation areas by foot and bicycle, the City could design car-free zones with no parking spaces for privately owned cars [but with parking for emergency, disabled, construction, delivery and shared vehicles].
The Green Party advocates the development of car-free, high-density, mixed residential/commercial areas. In these areas, citizens could do most of their shopping in their community and use mass transit for most of their remaining trips. This should be promoted by developing neighborhoods which are (1) adjacent to mass transit routes, and (2) require commercial space to be set aside for neighborhood shops such as grocery stores, clothing stores, hardware stores, laundromats and barber shops. An essential part of such communities is that they have a vehicle sharing or renting program for the few trips when a car, truck or mini-van is truly needed. All such developments should dedicate at least 30% of homes for low income families.
A Green administration would work with each St. Louis neighborhood to explore its interest in developing a car-free community shopping district and attempt to create at least one such district in each ward by 2018. The mayor should immediately create a task force to examine car-free business and residential zones that already exist in cities throughout the world and determine how they can be adapted for St. Louis.
The Green Party acknowledges that in many parts of town young people grow up in a war zone. Families are trapped In neighborhoods that have dilapidated over the past fifty years, due to our elected officials’ systematic neglect. A significant number of young people are treated as disposable, and a nuisance. Many of our communities are not provided with adequate schooling or sufficient resources, and the youth are being routed to jail and prison in mass numbers. Our city’s families need community based, comprehensive support.
The current methods used to quell youth violence; intensified policing methods, medicating without proper PTSD treatment, and incarceration, are politically and morally bankrupt. These policies lead to a disillusioned body of young people, who are then barred from finding a productive place in mainstream society. Upon initial review, recognizing youth violence as a public health issue, rather than a criminal justice issue might look like progress, but the approach is in the same idiom of blaming the victims. Mayor Slay’s Regional Youth Violence Prevention (YVP) Task Force Community Plan outlines the initiative to diagnose an increasing number of troubled children and youth as mentally ill as a response to youth crime. As a result, these youth become life-long consumers of psychotropic drugs, they will suffer the stigma attached to mental illness, and in many cases, will not experience an improvement in their quality of life.
This method does not address the underlying societal deprivations from which our youth are suffering, and which are the initial causes of many of the issues in our city. Ending the Drug War and de-criminalizing illicit drugs will curb gang violence over turfs since it eliminates the profit margin. Ending stigmatization and discrimination (such as: ineligibility for mainstream employment, food stamps and other resources), will ‚re-humanize ex-offenders, and provide them with viable legal opportunities. This will help to strengthen families and heal our communities.
The Greens call for the funding and implementation of comprehensive programs and policies that have experienced success in distressed communities, by providing support to at-risk youth and their families:
1. Revival of the “Caring Communities” approach -- this is school-based, family oriented, community support, in conjunction with:
2. Teen Drop-In Centers in every neighborhood, anchored in community-based organizations,
3. Mobile outreach through ex-gang members/role models and/or social workers; instead of increasing the number of police officers,
4. “Cease Fire,” and mediation initiatives, led by respected, qualified Community Organizers,
5. Programs focused on mentoring, social and cognitive skill development, future orientation, conflict resolution,and trauma-related therapy.
6. Community based initiatives that create advanced employment, trade-learning, and entrepreneurship opportunities for youth and young adults,
7. Increase training opportunities for living wage jobs in sustainable fields such as: urban gardening, weatherization, and housing rehabilitation,
8. Intensive re-entry programs for gang-affiliated, and other ex-offenders, that provide social supports and mentoring in addition to education and employment assistance,
9. Affordable Day Care and Early Childhood Education for every child, including free childcare for low income families,
10. Conflict resolution and trauma recognition training for all teachers, social workers, and volunteers,
11. Strengthen the Public School System by creating Community Schools with highly trained, qualified, and motivated personnel
12. Provide nutritious food in all schools, as well as education on junk food and lead poisoning to children of all ages, as well as their parents.