MAKING AMERICA GREAT: MEET THE FACE OF REAL AMERICAN SOCIAL JUSTICE AND PROGRESS — Madison Cap Times Profiles Justice Castañeda, Executive Director Of Madison’s Common Wealth

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/q-a-justice-casta-eda-brings-a-unique-life-story/article_c4be73c7-2b00-5afb-9655-fc30cb096a44.html

Jason Joyce reports for The Cap Times:

“As the executive director of Madison’s Common Wealth, Justice Castañeda, 37, oversees an organization that is involved in affordable housing development and management, youth and adult job training, business incubation and community engagement.

It’s a unique operation and Castañeda brings to the job a unique life story and approach to his work. In a discussion with the Cap Times, Castañeda discussed his background, the organization’s efforts in the Meadowood Neighborhood, where it will soon open a second office, and how the city can better support its community development organizations.

Were you born in Madison?

I was born at 23 N. Ingersoll St., at home.

And you grew up in Madison? Went to Madison schools?

I went to a lot of them. I moved a lot, like 19 times before I was 18 years old.

My academic career started at Red Caboose daycare center, graduated fifth grade at Mendota Elementary, graduated eighth grade from O’Keeffe Middle School and by the grace of God I graduated from East High School. As an educator, I realize I was probably somebody’s project. A teacher got together with a guidance counselor and said look, here’s this guy. Let’s try to figure out a way to get him across the stage.

It turns out Madison is a really hard place to grow up as a person of color, boy of color in particular, but my father had a very strong network of people who wrapped their wings around me. As much as I had to deal with, I had this very strong orbit.

And after high school, you went into the military?

I worked construction for a couple years. I was charged with a felony because when I was 18, I got into a fight at East High School and because two of the kids were 17, I was charged with physical abuse to a minor. It got dismissed. I think about it every day. If kids get into fights should they get felony charges? By the skin of my teeth I beat that charge, but I think about how my life would have been dramatically different with a felony because I wouldn’t have been able to get into the Marine Corps.

What did you get out of your service?

In the Marine Corps, all those basic needs are taken care of and you have time to reflect. I thought a lot about Madison and why I was so angry. It gave me space to approach education from a healthy space where I wasn’t worrying about things. I was able to take random classes. I had a lot of things to learn. I started liking school.

A couple lessons learned: Don’t go back to Madison. That’s 101. I still think that, for folks of color, if you can get out of here, stay out. Especially if you’re educated. You don’t realize it until you leave, but in Southern California where everyone looks like me, it was critical. So I stayed in San Diego. I started at UC-San Diego when I was still in the military. Going back to school when you’re 25, education like youth is wasted on the young. It’s a whole different experience. I got straight As, I got my degree and started working as a teacher’s apprentice in San Diego. I was teaching kids who reject the hypocrisy of mainstream educational processes and institutions. Call them what you will.

They told me you should think about grad school. I ended up going to Stanford for policy organization and leadership studies in the school of education. When I finished that Master’s degree, I didn’t feel like I was done. I then went on to MIT, on the GI Bill, and did another Master’s in city planning, looking at housing, community and economic development.

And you got pulled back to Madison.

I was looking for a case study and I just happened to know about Madison and how there’s been an inordinate amount of money put into things and, from every indicator, it’s only gotten worse, particularly for people of color here. How is that possible? I wrote a proposal to the mayor to come here and study this and I would do some work for him, but I was funded through MIT. This was 2012.

We looked at land use, including economic development, and family and children’s health. It was three years we worked on this. We came here, we stayed here, we rode the buses. I had a group and it was helpful they were not from Madison. I think there’s a lot that we take for gospel where someone from the outside would say, explain that to me. Explain why you think the center of the city is a place that’s not accessible to the majority. What’s the history of that? Who was able to own land there? How did they get access to it? We looked at not just organizations, but their boards. You find that it’s a very small group of people who have been making decisions for a long time.

People say Madison is 77 square miles surrounded by reality, but it’s really 77 square miles that epitomize reality. I was able to take this Madison work and put together a huge framework for community and economic development. I started doing consulting for foundations and think tanks around these national community development initiatives. Ninety percent of what I used came out of Madison.

And when did you start at Common Wealth?

It will be eight months on Oct. 1.

Common Wealth has purchased and rehabbed housing in the Meadowood neighborhood. What are your goals there?

I was working for the city when they started doing job training out there. They ended up buying buildings around Meadowood Park. Organizationally, people weren’t sure we should be working out there. The neighborhoods aren’t well designed out there. The low-income housing was not designed aesthetically for human beings.

 

What do you mean by that?

Human beings respond to light. They are not well lit. And the air doesn’t move. People always want to know how you get kids to stop hanging out at the gas station and I say put benches in so they’re not standing in the thoroughfare. People disagree with that, so I say get some of your friends and on a 90-degree day, go spend a weekend in low-income housing. There’s no protective, defensible spaces like porches. Places for people to practice the art of parenthood.

Yahara View Apartments (Common Wealth’s building on East Main Street) is the only low-income housing project on the isthmus and nobody even knows it exists. Why is it different? It was made for human beings. The porches on the Meadowood buildings aren’t porches. They’re jump-off egress points that are for the fire code. That’s almost insulting.

What you’re looking at with housing rehab is, does the building have integrity to begin with? Are you creating housing for humans? Imagine what it’s like for people to fall in love there. To thrive there. Is that the housing we’re building? Build housing as if human beings matter, for children to grow up and fall in love.

And are you increasing the housing stock? We have a housing shortage, so if you’re doing all this rehab, why not build more housing? And is this being supported by comprehensive community development efforts? I compare housing to the wheels on a car. The engine is the most complex part of the car, but without wheels you’re not going nowhere.

So Common Wealth has housing, we do business incubation, we do adult and youth workforce development, we have a comprehensive violence prevention effort. We have a huge investment on the east side, so our staff has grown from the east side. Now we have this component of 39 units on the west side. It can’t be housing alone. We have to bring everyone.

We made a lot of promises to people when we bought buildings on the west side. But we’re going to leverage everything Common Wealth does to support that work. And by the way, we’re going to get an office out there. I have old ties to Allied Drive, old family and friends. A lot of the people I grew up with on the east side can’t live on the east side anymore, so they live out there. So we’re going to be good neighborhood partners. Common Wealth opened in ‘79 and it’s taken 38 years to help stabilize Willy Street. This takes a long time.

I see Common Wealth as a Madison asset. It’s an idea. It was a bunch of rogueish, badass hippies who saw a problem and said we’re going to fix it and it’s going to be weird, but we’re going to do it and try these things out. It’s a Madison thing. Going around the country, I’m really interested in youth development and education and then I’m also into housing, land use and land trusts. And also I think we need to talk about economic development and industrial relations and people look at me like, “Yo, you’re crazy. There’s no such place.” And I’m like, you don’t know from whence I came.

In Madison, a common concern is you’ve got all of these groups doing good work, operating in silos and they are too busy to talk to each other. People on the east side don’t talk to people on the west side. Is there a solution for that?

One of the advantages of growing up all over this town is I know people all over town. With this problem, you’ve got the four Cs: Competition in that I’m competing against you to get something. Then cooperation, we can sit at the same table. Coordination: I’m going to use the sink right now, and when I’m done you can use it. Collaboration: You’re going to make the pie crust, I’m going to pick the cherries, someone else is going to make the filling and we’re going to eat the pie together. It’s really important we understand the iterations there. Generally, people want to go from competition to collaboration. But there are steps in there.

A lot of that is driven through funding cycles. Are the funding cycles at the various organizations like Evjue (the charitable arm of the Cap Times) and the Madison Community Foundation and United Way aligned? Because we’re always asking organizations that don’t have any money, run by folks who are just passionate, who don’t have formal education. We want them to do advanced coordination and collaboration. Is that being asked of the funding entities? The city, county, state, university? And the private sector? Are we asking those areas to align? How about someone design a structure to look at all these things collectively.”

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It’s fantastic that Justice was willing to return to Madison and help make things better for everyone, notwithstanding his reservations about the community from his youth. Some people are part of the problem; others, like Justice, are part of the solution.

Speaking of “the problem,” clueless, racist, old White guys like Sessions, Trump, and their GOP cronies are never going to improve conditions in minority communities, nor are they going to solve crime, gang, and drug problems with their wasteful and counterproductive “gonzo enforcement” that has proved spectacularly unsuccessful and counterproductive time after time. The only things they are doing is wasting money, making problems worse, driving ethnic communities into isolation, and throwing some expensive and socially damaging “red meat” to the racist White Nationalist “base.”

As I’ve pointed out before, making life better for all Americans, promoting social justice, increasing trust, and achieving community cooperation in law enforcement are painstakingly slow processes that take some real thought and reflection and an honest understanding of how America treats many in the minority community. There are no “silver bullets.” As I’ve said before, MS-13 started in the US and was exported by Reagan-era politicos who did not care about understanding either the causes of gangs or the effects of deporting gang members to a civil war torn El Salvador without a plan for helping to deal with what would happen on the “receiving” end. “Out of sight, out of mind” — but, not really. “What goes around comes around.”

PWS

10-01-17

 

THE ECONOMY: What America REALLY Needs: More Legal Workers, No More “Gonzo” Immigration Enforcement — More Immigrant Workers Needed To Save Our Economy — And They Don’t Have To Be Rocket Scientists & PhDs: Construction & Service Industries That Support US Economy Need “Entry Level” Workers!

http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/wisconsin-businesses-grapple-with-a-growing-worker-shortage/article_3ef1000e-c18b-5f72-bbcd-720ee2456111.html#utm_source=host.madison.com&utm_campaign=%2Femail%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=26CD42536544E247751EC74095D9CEDC67E77EDB

The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) reports:

A Madison restaurant has raised pay for entry-level chefs in recent years more than 50 percent to $14 an hour, but still closes on Sunday evenings — not because of a lack of customers, but because workers are scarce.

Those and countless other stories across Wisconsin are symptoms of a growing worker shortage that is expected to worsen over the next decade, according to Wisconsin State Journal interviews with dozens of employers, economists, advocacy group experts and state political and economic development officials.

“We are right at the brink of the crisis,” said Ann Franz, director of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance in Green Bay. “There just aren’t enough human beings in Wisconsin with baby boomers retiring. Just driving down the road there are constantly signs hiring. I’ve seen them on billboards: ‘Come to our car dealership and buy our car. Come so we can give you a job.'”

Employers from a broad range of industries are reporting difficulty finding workers — and not only for skilled professionals such as nurses, welders and computer programmers, who require a strong education and training system, but also for workers with a high school diploma and some additional training at restaurants, farms, construction sites, factories, senior care facilities, retailers and other businesses.

“I would call it Wisconsin’s mega-issue,” said Kurt Bauer, president of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business group, which recently found 77 percent of members surveyed had difficulty finding workers, up from 53 percent two years ago. “All other issues, they may be important, but they are subordinate to workforce.”

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Read the rest of the article at the link.

In this context, terminating DACA, thereby depriving existing productive American workers of work authorization, is not only cruel, but also crazy. And supporting the RAISE Act — specifically designed by White Nationalist restrictionists to lower legal immigration while limiting the remaining opportunities largely to White, English speaking individuals with college degrees — is simply insane.

Legal immigration is good for America in many ways (beyond the economy) and we need more, not less, of it. Indeed, had we developed a more rational and realistic legal immigration system, most of the Dreamers and their families would have been admitted in an orderly fashion under the legal system years ago.

Guys like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions who worked as an effective legislative minority to block sensible immigration reform through parliamentary maneuvers, are now falsely claiming that deportations, “gonzo” arbitrary enforcement, and a reign of terror are the only solutions to a fake crisis that they largely created.

But, in fact, there is no crisis. Most of the 11 million migrants here without documentation are working hard, in jobs we need, part of American families, English speaking or learning English, and fitting well into American communities. Indeed, they are far less disruptive to society than are ICE’s arbitrary and fear spresding enforcement policies. That’s certainly the case here in Alexandria and Northern Virginia. And even more of them would pay taxes if we simply made it easy for them by granting legal status.

The relatively small minority of undocumented migrants who are engaging in anti-social behavior can be identified and removed with some reasonable readjustment of existing resources. For example, more money allocated to the U.S. Immigration Courts, training, technology, community-based policing, and focused “smart”enforcement instead of wasteful and inhumane detention, unfocused arbitrary enforcement, unneeded walls, and filling prisons with minor immigration violators. ICE prosecutors should be authorized and encouraged to use their discretion to prioritize their Immigration Court dockets with a focus on due process and bettering society while recognizing that judicial time will always be both precious and limited.

The current scare tactics and dire, but false, scenarios being pushed by the Trump Administration will neither aid our economy nor serve America’s real needs. They would make us both less safe and less great as a nation.

PWS

09-10-17

 

 

 

 

 

UW Law Looking For Immigrant Justice Clinic Director!

http://jobs.hr.wisc.edu/cw/en-us/job/495278/immigrant-justice-clinic-director

Click the link for full details.  Great opportunity for a bilingual immigration attorney who wants to get into clinical teaching at a terrific school in a super city.  Unlike many of today’s law schools, UW Law is located on Bascom Hill in the “heart” of the Main Campus with a view of the Capitol dome! Madison has to be one of the best places to live in the US.

While the initial appointmeet is for one year, based on performance, creativity, and ability to inspire funding, the position has longer term potential!

And, as an extra bonus, if you get the job, I’ll drop by at some mutually convenient time and give your students a “guest lecture.” Preferably right before a Badger home football or basketball game!

Thanks to Professor Alberto Benítez of the GW Law Immigration Clinic for sending this my way.

PWS

06-09-17

 

HISTORY: Paul Fanlund In Madison Cap Times: How We Got From Nixon To Trump!

http://host.madison.com/ct/opinion/column/paul_fanlund/paul-fanlund-so-why-can-t-america-just-be-good/article_e8734a95-ed8b-5544-a32f-f5ee791264a3.html#tncms-source=behavioral

Fanlund writes in an op-ed:

“When Roger Ailes died, essays about him ranged from adoring to vilifying. As creator of Fox News, he was perhaps the nation’s most influential political messenger — or propagandist — of the past 50 years.

One aspect of any honest obituary, of course, was his misogyny. Ailes was finally forced out at Fox in 2016 after years of sexual harassing women employees. His 17-year-old son threatened his father’s accusers at the funeral, warning mourners that he wanted “all the people who betrayed my father to know that I’m coming after them, and hell is coming with me.”

But what I found most interesting in immersing myself in analyses of Ailes’ life was how little his craft had to do with liberal versus conservative ideology.

Rather, Ailes was perhaps the master of the dark art of inventing and relentlessly reinforcing hateful caricatures of political opponents — in his case, people of color, bureaucrats, university professors and, of course, the media.

His brilliant execution of that art culminated in Donald Trump.

Ailes, as is widely known, learned from Richard Nixon, for whom he worked as a young television consultant. Nixon launched his political career much earlier by championing “forgotten Americans,” lunch-pail-toting working men whose fortunes, in Nixon’s telling, were stymied by taxes and regulations imposed upon them by far-away elites.

The rest, as they say, is history. Nixon appealed to his “silent majority” to stand against anti-war and civil rights protesters. Democrats opened the floodgates to Republican demagoguery by advancing civil rights. The GOP today has broadened its pool of villains to include Latino and Muslim immigrants.

The 1980s brought jolly Ronald Reagan with his fantastical stories about welfare queens, followed by George H.W. Bush’s law and order and patriotism themes, and so on.

“Individual issues would come and go — acid, amnesty and abortion in 1972, and immigration, political correctness and transgender bathrooms in 2016 — but the attacks on liberals as elite, out of touch and protective of the ‘wrong people’ came from the same playbook,” wrote David Greenberg, a Rutgers professor of history and journalism, in a New York Times op-ed on Ailes.

OK, but why does it always work?

Why are so many — especially older, white, middle-class people — so susceptible to this toxic narrative when it is clear that the trickle-down GOP policies that follow do them so little good?

Maybe, I theorize, it has something to do with how we were all taught.

I’ve talked with many friends about the flag-waving jingoism of our pre-college education, in which our nation was portrayed as perfect, our leaders without fault.

My formal education began when Dwight Eisenhower was president, an era of unfettered national pride. We were a paragon of liberty and justice and never fought in unjust wars. It was as if someone decided that American children could not process the slightest balance or shade of gray.

In this frame, Andrew Jackson was, as Trump likes to say, a glorious “swashbuckler” like himself, not a president who drove Native Americans from their homes, killing thousands in the process. Nor were we ever taught that Jackson, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other forefathers owned slaves.

It seems the goal was always to convey “American exceptionalism,” or, more bluntly, reinforce a cultish sense of American superiority.”

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Fanlund’s entire op-ed, at the above link, is well worth a read!

Lots of folks don’t like it when we put US history in perspective. For example, during the “glory days” of my childhood in the 1950’s millions of African Americans throughout the nation, and particularly in the South, were deprived of the basic rights of US citizenship. This was notwithstanding the clear dictates of the 14th Amendment, which had been added nearly a century earlier.

The US and many state governments merely decided not to enforce the law of the land. So much for all of the “rule of law” and “nation of laws” malarkey purveyed by right wingers today.

Indeed, many southern states enacted discriminatory laws that were directly contrary to the 14th Amendment. And, amazingly, for the majority of the 19th and 20th Centuries, courts of law at all levels were complicit in enforcing these unconstitutional laws and ignoring the14th Amendment!

PWS

05-26-17

WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL: Betrayal! Ryan, GOP “Gift” To Wisconsin Seniors: Jacked Up Premiums, Suffering, Premature Death! I/O/W “Pay More For Less”

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/health-med-fit/report-wisconsin-s-older-adults-would-pay-thousands-more-under/article_9fdb9c69-1339-5c33-9c77-0bf868071cde.html#utm_source=host.madison.com&utm_campaign=/email/&utm_medium=email&utm_content=26CD42536544E247751EC74095D9CEDC67E77EDB

David Wahlberg reports:

“In Madison, a 64-year-old currently pays $1,852 a year through “Obamacare” after receiving $5,991 in tax credits, according to a Citizen Action of Wisconsin report released Tuesday.

Under the Republican plan, the same person would pay $7,764 a year in premiums after $4,000 in tax credits. That is $5,912 — or more than three times — more, the report says.

Republicans’ proposed American Health Care Act, which the House is expected to vote on Thursday, would reduce tax credits for some groups and allow insurers to charge older adults more.

Those changes mean a 64-year-old in La Crosse would have net premiums of $14,515 a year, up from $1,519 now, the Citizen Action report says. That is $12,996 — or more than eight times — more.

The Republican plan would “result in people suffering and dying prematurely,” said Dr. Cynthia Haq, a professor of family medicine and population health sciences at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

“People will have to forgo health insurance coverage,” Haq said. “They will not seek care. They will not get preventive services. They will not be able to manage their chronic diseases. As a result, they’ll show up in the emergency departments of hospitals in extreme crisis.”

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As I have said previously, it’s going to be a crowded field for “King of the Swamp” honors this year, but Ryan with his inane health care proposal — which even his own party is balking at from both ends of the spectrum — certainly has his eye on the title!

How many will have to suffer and die before the folks in his congressional district finally get him “off the dole” and give him a chance to make his way by doing something more productive in the “real world” that he so much admires yet has avoided for most of his adult life?

PWS

03/21/17