Pennsylvania has found itself right in the middle of the Trump-Biden contest as possibly the most important state in the election. In 2016, Trump won the state by less than 1%. Polls are looking good for Biden, but we learned how unreliable they can be in the 2016 election. Trump has also unleashed a slew of lawsuits and inflammatory rhetoric about fraud in Philadelphia to undermine the legitimacy of the election. Security issues like stolen USBs and voting website crashes aren’t helping. It’s hard to know how Trump will react if he loses, but he’s certainly laying the groundwork to dispute the results which could also activate his supporters.
With all of these different factors in play, it’s important that you know your options and vote correctly. You can still go to the polls like you normally do (check your voting location here). You can also vote early by going to various satellite offices around the city. Finally, you can request a mail-in ballot here. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Tuesday, October 27. Make sure you place your ballot in the secrecy envelope, then put that envelope in the postage paid return address envelope. Your vote will not count if you forget the secrecy envelope. It’s also important to mail your ballot as soon as possible so the mail system doesn’t get overloaded!
Locally, Lilac endorsed Mike Doyle for State Rep in the 170th district against the Trump Republican Martina White. Martina White has demonized BLM protestors, and introduced legislation to create harsher sentencing laws and to cut funds from sanctuary cities. Mike will fight for policies that will benefit the multiracial working class, such as single-payer healthcare, worker’s rights, an end to mass incarceration, and the Pennsylvania Green New Deal. Sign up here to volunteer for Mike’s campaign! There are also important ballot questions about policing and loans. Check out our voting guide.
No Utility Shut offs!
Lilac is building a coalition with PA Debt Collective, Sunrise Philly, and Earth Quaker Action Team to challenge the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) and Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) to center the economic and environmental well-being of our communities! On October 8th our coalition had its first action outside of the PUC office ahead of their scheduled meeting. We tried to deliver our petition to the PUC office but we were denied. Later that morning, the PUC decided to lift the ban on utility shut offs.
- Extend the moratorium on utility shutoffs
- Reject the proposed rate hike for PGW consumers
- Cancel all outstanding utility debts from COVID-19
- Make a real plan for a rapid and just transition beyond fossil fuels
Our campaign is just getting started! Join us at 9am on Thursday October 29th for the next PUC meeting as we let them know there is a growing movement for energy justice in Philly!
- Lilac General Meeting: Online on Sunday, October 25th at 2:00 PM. Check the Facebook event for details on how to join.
- Philly Bail Fund Call-a-thons: Every other Thursday from 6:00 - 7:30 PM. The next one is on October 29th!
- October Reading Group: Online on Wednesday, October 28th at 6:30. RSVP at the linked site!
Help Wanted (reach out here if interested)
- The Newsletter is looking for people to write news summaries, provide original content, and take photographs.
- We are starting up our Mobilizer Program! We need help doing outreach.
Local News Summaries and Links
- Nancy Nguyen, immigrant rights activist and executive director of VietLead, was arrested in her home on October 8 for allegedly trespassing and littering during a protest outside the home of the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) weeks before. In a separate development, ICE has put up billboards in and around Philadelphia denouncing the sanctuary-policies of cities such as Philadelphia. You can find them on Columbus Boulevard and the Walt Whitman Bridge.
- Philadelphia Police interaction with right wing group Proud Boys, who are considered an extremist organization by the FBI, continues to look friendly in contrast with law enforcement’s treatment of peaceful protesters. Following the Proud Boys rally on Sept. 26, members of the group were escorted to the WalMart parking lot in South Philadelphia, where they were seen mingling with PPD officers. Members of the group were overheard referring leftist protesters as terrorists. Days before, on September 19, Philadelphia residents prevented a Proud Boys rally in Clark Park by showing in the hundreds.
- Einstein Healthcare Network, which treats mostly poor patients on Medicare or Medicaid, says it has been unprofitable for years and may not stay open unless it merges with Thomas Jefferson University. Jefferson would like to acquire the struggling Einstein system, but critics claim that continued consolidation of hospital ownership is making Jefferson into a monopoly and will increase prices. It’s also not clear if Einstein’s nurses will maintain their union.
- A former Philadelphia police officer has been charged with the murder and is being held without bail. In 2018, Eric Fuch Jr. shot an unarmed man named Dennis Plowden while he exited his vehicle following a police chase during which Plowden crashed his car. Plowden was pronounced dead the following day. The charges against Fuch have been brought by Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner years after he was originally pressured to bring Fuch to justice. Fuch is being represented by the Fraternal Order of the Police. In late 2019, Plowden’s widow filed a lawsuit against the force. While you’re here, please sign this petition to cut the FOP’s power.
- American Airlines, Philadelphia airport’s largest carrier, announced that it would lay off 1,900 workers in the Philadelphia region, starting October 1. The University of Pennsylvania has announced that they will not pay the furloughed dining staff at its student cafeteria or other on-campus dining locations. These workers, employed by Penn’s subcontractor Bon Appétit Management Company were paid through May 15, following student agitation on their behalf. The Philadelphia Inquirer intends to close its printing plant and eliminate up to 500 jobs as it shifts printing of its newspapers to a subcontractor. Thomas Jefferson University has announced that it also intends to eliminate 500 positions through attrition because of losses caused by COVID-19. Finally, families of SEPTA workers who died of Covid are receiving standard survivor benefits, but not extra benefits they and the union believe they deserve if exposed while on the job. SEPTA blames its own dire financial state.
- With prosperous suburban commuters working from home and no longer using SEPTA’s regional rail lines, ridership on the rail lines is down 90%. Because of SEPTA’s organizational structure, regional rail operates separately from the rest of the transportation network. Black and brown riders from low income communities may be considered essential and still commute to work, but they are functionally excluded from using regional rail because of its cost, a product of years of structural racism. Regional rail should be integrated into the network and cost the same as a subway or bus fare.
- Election updates: Because of shortage of poll workers, not all of Philadelphia’s satellite voting offices have been opened as promised. As of Oct 15th, 12 of 17 satellite offices had opened, though some had limited service. Thankfully, five other offices opened on October 19th. Also, The Committee of Seventy is lobbying Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to pass legislation allowing “pre-canvassing” of mail-in ballots. Pre-canvassing allows ballots to be extracted from envelopes early and sorted to prepare for the labor-intensive, high-speed scanning of ballots on election day.
- District officials have said they’re “committed” to opening schools in November even though COVID cases in the city are on the rise. They’re anxious to open schools because they’re own funding is tied to the general performance of the economy. Having kids at home makes it difficult for parents to go back to work.
- The University of Pennsylvania’s endowment increased from $14.7 billion to $14.9 billion in fiscal year 2020. Amy Gutmann remains the highest paid Ivy League president, yet Penn still refuses to pay PILOTS (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) to help support public schools despite pressure from some of its own faculty members and other Philadelphia activist organizations.
- Up to 1,500 birds may have died in a single day in early October in Philadelphia after colliding with city buildings. Philadelphia is on the Atlantic flyway for migratory birds, this is a peak time for birds migrating south, and the weather has been cloudy and rainy. These factors have led to the collisions. A billion birds die every year in the US from colliding with buildings.
- The Philadelphia Orchestra has been named by Gramophone Magazine as the Orchestra of the Year, winning 40% of the votes of readers choosing among 10 global ensembles. Re-emergence of the orchestra as the world’s premier ensemble follows years of decline and a humiliating bankruptcy.