Spoken at the public hearing for the Resident Hiring Ordinance by the Urban Jobs Task Force, Tuesday October 6th, 5:30 PM in Common Council chambers, City Hall.
My name is Frank Cetera, and I am a member of the Green Party of Onondaga County and Board President of Cooperative federal credit Union. I am a political, social, and environmental activist and organizer here in Syracuse, among other things. One of those other things is that I am a neighbor to people in all four corners of the city - through my community greening work on the east and south sides, my employment and public service job on the northside and downtown, and my residence on the westside.
And in each of those locations, I see the same thing over and over - poverty. In many places the numbers equate to between 40%-60% of households. Our city is like a giant snowball right now, like the Titanic heading for the iceberg, it is a huge weight to try and turn around, but we have to start somewhere.
Keeping our city wealth in the hands of our city residents is one answer. We’ve already seen what happened in the 1950s and onward as residents left the city an empty shell of itself. Now we are faced with more people actually moving back into the city creating competition for the fewer than ever jobs that are available here now. And once again, sending our wealth out to the suburbs and beyond by our hiring practices.
After working with green Party volunteers to collect over 200 petition signatures for the ordinance, I can tell you that neighbors that I talk to are tired of struggling, tired of trying to scrape by in competition with their friends for the measly Dunkin Donuts and Destiny USA retail jobs that still leave them in need of public assistance because the current minimum wage is still a poverty wage. They are left with a vision of a derelict future because our education system is underfunded, while suburban schools flourish. And every day their lives are in danger from gun violence as many poor folk turn to entrepreneurship in the illegal drug trades when no reasonable paying jobs are available for them in the city.
Our poverty epidemic is well documented in the media, but even more so in the streets. As I walk in any direction in my Near Westside neighborhood from my home on Otisco St it is impossible to miss the vacant and crumbling homes that are virtually abandoned by landlords seeking to suck additional wealth out of our city, or trying to avoid paying the property taxes they owe. Widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots a little bit further each month. The quality of our rental units is something reflected in every neighborhood I visit and talk to people in. Perhaps if we start hiring our residents, paying them a livable wage, and giving them home-buying opportunities, we can also start solving the housing stock and absentee landlord issues that plague us as well.
The arguments against this ordinance have also been offered up. To those I simply ask, how has the economy worked for you in the last decade. But even more importantly, I ask, how has the economy worked for your brothers and sisters across the tracks? It is time to heal our wounds, and for healing you need treatment, medicine, and TLC. I offer to you that the urban jobs ordinance offers just that - treatment, medicine and TLC for our ailing work force, residents, and neighborhoods. I support the passage of this urban jobs ordinance, and call on all of our Councilors to do the same. Thank you.
Thank you for supporting Frank Cetera's campaign for Syracuse City Council. He is running an uphill race against a well-funded and well-connected incumbent. But we are out talking to voters everyday and if we can keep the energy growing, Frank has a chance to win this race and be the first Green on the Syracuse City Council.
Our next big fundraising event is a Money Bloom on October 22!!
What's a Money Bloom? It's a grassroots online fundraiser. We spread the word and recruit our friends, family and comrades and if all goes according to plan, on October 22 we'll see people-power blooming in the form of many small and medium sized donations to Frank's campaign. Our goal on October 22 is to raise at least $1,000 to help pay for a campaign mailing to voters in the last week before Election Day.
We'll be promoting our Money Bloom intensely on social media and email and via word of mouth - and we hope you will join in and help build the excitement! Here are the top 3 things you can do to help make this Money Bloom a success:
2) Tell Everyone!! Spread the word to all of your friends and family! You can either use the template provided below, or customize your own message about the Money Bloom. Just forward it in an email to anyone and everyone who would be willing to pitch in:
"I just pledged my donation to Frank Cetera's Money Bloom because I want to see him on the City Council where he'll fight for a Syracuse the works for all of us. Join me and join in the Money Bloom today! Follow this link – whether you pledge to give $15, $50 or $500, it will help Frank reach his goal."
We are counting on you to help make our Money Bloom a success so that we can reach our fundraising goal on October 22nd!
Earlier this week, the Common Council voted to hold a hearing about the Local Hiring Ordinance that the Urban Jobs Task Force has been organizing for. The Public hearing will take place on Tuesday, October 6 at 5:30pm in the Common Council Chambers (233 E. Washington St. 3rd floor).
It is critical that we fill up the Common Council Chambers with supporters of the local hiring ordinance. People opposed to this Resident Employment Ordinance will be there too, and we need to show that Syracuse residents are coming together to demand that our local government respond to our need for jobs.
If you haven't yet, please sign and share the petition calling on the Common Council to pass a local hiring ordinance that would require contractors receiving city funds to hire at least 20% local workers.
Please come and speak about why you believe Syracuse needs a local hiring requirement for contractors receiving public money. You can speak for a point of view that relates to your own job search, or frustrations you've seen friends and family struggle with. You can connect your comments to concerns related to education, healthcare, housing - because everything is connected. What's most important is that we come together to speak up for jobs for our community.
I'll be heading out to a meet & greet at a supporter's home on Townsend St after the hearing. When I was scheduling the date with her, I asked what are the most important issues to you and your neighbors right now? She said unhesitatingly - absentee landlords & JOBS! Her friends and family are tired of scrapping for minimum wage part-time positions at fast food restaurants and retail positions at the mall - they want the opportunity to find a job that will support them, and their families, and their community.
The mic will be open to everyone -- the city council works for you and needs to hear from you! If you plan to speak, you will need to sign in when you arrive to the Common Council Chambers. The Common Council will call the names in the order that they were written. They usually limit the time at the mic to 3 minutes or so. But you can hand in written comments of any length. If you can’t come and you wanted to speak, you can submit a written comment and find someone to read or submit it for you.
Please attend on Tuesday, October 3 - whether you intend to speak or be a presence in support of economic justice.
For Dignity, Frank
P.S. With just one month until Election Day, we are counting the days and counting on you! Volunteer with our campaign team and help us get out the vote. We won't win this election without volunteer help, there's just not enough hours ni the day to do it all ourselves. Visit the campaign website and sign up to volunteer if you have not yet.
Want a Lawn Sign? Let us know. Host a house meet & greet? Contact our team. Willing to pass up that daily latte in favor of a regular coffee every day between now and Election Day? Donate now.
Dear Vote Cetera 2015 Frank,
Thank you for reading this email. If you have two hours between now and election day, I’m writing to ask for your help.
Frank and the Green Party – and I hope you as well – believe that government should serve the needs of all-- the poor, the working class, not just the well-connected.
But the people of Syracuse’s Second District are disenfranchised. Going door to door these last few months, I’ve seen it. In the struggle for survival, the city council has not been there for them – not to support local employment, nor to address crime, syringe cleanup, sidewalk snow. Because of this, fewer than 20% of voters turn out for these elections.
The silver lining to this is, that it means an opportunity for us to get a radical candidate like Frank on the council, and co-create a Syracuse that works for #AllOfUs. If we can turn out just 1,250 voters for Frank Cetera on Election Day, we can win – and get a welcome break from the party machine that runs this town!
Thanks to our intrepid volunteers, we have distributed our lovely informative doorhanger to nearly every single registered voter in the district!
Now, I’m asking you help us make phone calls to voters -- to identify supporters, turn them out on election day & encourage them to support Frank with lawn signs, donations, or time. With just 85 hours of phone calls, we can call all of District 2’s voters and win. That’s ten two-hour volunteer shifts a week. With a growing team of awesome people, we are on our way. But we need you. Please sign up for a phone shift at this form. (On a side note, there is a strong chance of meeting fun folks & eating delicious snacks!)
If the team phone night times don’t work for you, email firstname.lastname@example.org - you can always write with questions or ideas. If you need to call from home, write email@example.com. I’ll get you the materials & support you need.
Election day is 5 weeks from today. If you’ve considered joining us, the time is now.
Thanks for supporting a Syracuse for #AllOfUs!
Dear friends –
We are coming up on two very important dates on our campaign timeline and we need your support to make sure we reach out goals and keep our movement (and our city council race) moving forward.
Tomorrow, Monday September 28th, is the Board of Elections 32-day pre-election reporting date cut-off. What does that mean to you? Basically, it means we want to show the highest amount of financial support as we can before that date, to inspire additional donors, to put some fear of competition into the incumbent, and to show the people power we are building. So, if you’ve been holding off with your donation, now is a very time to give.
Our next big expense is going to be a mailing to voters, many of whose doors we cannot knock because they are in apartment buildings. Help us communicate with registered voters to let them know they have a better option besides the current political monopoly in Syracuse, the system that is failing the vast majority of city residents.
The second date is Monday October 9th, the deadline to register to vote in this year’s election. We’ve been registering voters all year, including 28 people at the Westcott Street Fair, and another handful outside of Nojaim’s Market last week for National Voter Registration Day. Help us spread the word and register as many voters as we can. You can refer anyone to us and we can assist them in getting the appropriate form and getting it submitted. Or click here, and share this link, for full instructions on the various ways to obtain a form and register.
Want a Lawn sign? Let us know. Host a House party? Contact our team. Willing to pass up that daily latte in favor of a regular coffee every day between now and Election Day? Donate now.
PS: With 5 weeks to go, we are counting the days and counting on you! Volunteer with our campaign team and help us get out the vote! Visit the campaign website to sign up to volunteer. We welcome volunteers from out of town, to visit and help us work the doors in Syracuse or to make phone calls to voters from wherever you are located.
View the archived video of the UJTF Press Event and Common Council Study Session at the following link.
Read the Post-Standard news coverage at http://goo.gl/korYsZ
So far, the Vote Cetera team has collected over 200 signatures for the UJTF jobs ordinance petition!!
Last night I received the great news that CSEA Region 5 (Civil Service Employee Association) endorsed my candidacy for 2nd District City Councilor. I am humbled and gratified that my commitment – and your commitment – to justice for working men and women is acknowledged by this union representing Syracuse's public workers.
We have exactly six weeks left till Election Day and it's safe to say that the momentum is growing quickly. Please donate so that we have the resources needed to effectively communicate with voters in the final weeks of this campaign.
We continue to hear many stories from our district neighbors about slumlords being a major issue of concern. As I was surveying vacant and crumbling homes while canvassing on Delaware St recently, a gentleman out on his porch asked if I worked for the city, and shouted that they should “tear it down”. I thought he was referring to the house two doors away that was being overtaken by trees and shrub growth. But no, he was talking about the home he himself lived in, with a list of dangerous code violations, where he was trapped living paycheck to paycheck and a landlord who would neither make the necessary repairs nor give back the security deposit and last month’s rent to enable him to move. This scenario is replaying itself across the city of Syracuse.
Our housing isn't safe, our communities are being held hostage by absentee owners and landlords, and our neighbors are lacking the opportunity to work and provide for their own well-being - all while $3 million is planned to be spent on the renovations of a downtown plaza by another non-resident contractor with non-resident employees who will suck the wealth straight out of Syracuse into their capitalist coffers. This is the harsh reality today's political leaders are creating.
I remember when Perseverance Park served many people well as a public space during the Occupy movement. I remember Park(ing) Day being a big draw in Syracuse when fun, activated public spaces were created out of metered parking spots. I relish in the time that I and others have spent turning a ⅕-acre plot of grass on South Salina St into a thriving and productive free food forest. All of these uses for a tiny fraction of the $3 million price tag set for downtown’s new elite park, while over 50% of our children still live in poverty only 4-5 blocks away.
Yesterday was the best time to donate to my campaign but today is good, too. Andtomorrow, your support will bring me into city hall carrying our collective voice for dignity and a Syracuse that works for #AllofUs, where the other city councilors are quiet.
We've been engaging with a very incensed public, registering dozens of new voters between the Westcott Street Fair and tabling outside of Nojaim’s market for National Voter Registration Day. And on top of all that, we crossed the 200 signature mark from our campaign canvassing for the Urban Jobs Task Force resident jobs ordinance.
I had many people come up to me at the Westcott Street Fair and at the Butternut/Pond Northside TNT Task Force this week, proclaiming that they would vote for me. But many of you do not live in my district which is why I need you tomake a donation and to sign up to volunteer. Come walk these streets with me, see the pain and the distress, and you’ll never be the same. Please donate today before September 28th which is the next Board of Elections reporting deadline. Every little bit counts.
PS: Sign up to volunteer here and our Volunteer Coordinator Simone will get back to you shortly. This week we are most in need of phonebankers and doorknockers - don't wait, participate!
PPS: Since you've read to the end, here's a pic of me on the Green Tricycle at the Westcott Fair, just so you know we're having lots of fun while working hard!
Good evening. My name is Frank Cetera and I am running for 2nd District City Councilor here in the great Open City of Syracuse NY. The 2nd district encompasses the west end of the city from Bellevue and Onondaga Blvd up through Skunk City, Tipp Hill, Park Ave, Lakefront, Franklin Square, part of North Salina St, and the north side west of Court Street. Thank you for inviting me to this event.
WHO AM I
I grew up in a small coal mining town in Southwest Pennsylvania in a Polish-Italian family to hardworking parents. My mother was a stay-at-home mom while also maintained a business as a hairstylist in our basement. My father, after returning from the Vietnam War, first labored on the tracks and then worked for over 30 years as a coal train conductor, and member of the United Mine workers of America. I’m proud to follow in his footsteps as a union member, as I currently serve as delegate-at-large for Professional Administrators at Onondaga Community College with the OCC-FTA local of NYSUT, AFL-CIO. And I have just received the endorsement of CSEA region 5 - the public service employees union here in Syracuse. I made Syracuse my home after I earned a Master's degree in Forestry at SUNY ESF and met some of the best people I have known in my life while engaging in social and environmental activism here. (I also hold a Masters of Science degree in Sustainable Systems from Slippery Rock in Pennsylvania).
I am serving my 5th year on the Cooperative Federal Credit Union Board of Directors, the 4th as President of that organization located at 800 North Salina St (and with branches on Westcott St and at the Southwest Community Center) which is a mission-driven federally recognized Community Development Financial Institution, the only one of it's kind in Syracuse. As part of a stalwart team of staff and volunteers, we manage over $22 million in assets, and invest over 100% of those funds back into the city of Syracuse. Through my day job as a NYS certified small business advisor I help individuals with business planning, financial analysis and pro-forma creation for start-ups, market research, and strategic planning. Over the course of the last few years as a full-time advisor, I have worked with clients to create over $2 million dollars in economic investment and over 150 jobs. I understand community finance and what it takes to help people to succeed.
I founded a non-profit corporation that has converted 5 unused urban grassy spaces into productive food gardens and landscapes; I volunteer clearing snow from elderly residents' sidewalks and from around bus stop corners with Westside Walks and I helped to start, along with the Westside Residents Coalition, the Adopt-a-TrashCan program to reduce litter on our streets. I currently serve in a leadership capacity as a city-wide TNT Board Member representing the westside, and I am one of the founders of the Marcellus-Otisco-Gifford neighborhood watch group.
WHAT IS AT STAKE
Living on the Near West Side, I understand very well that crime is an issue of tremendous concern….68.2 % poverty. I support policies that help put city residents to work - like a local hiring ordinance - and provide an opportunity to work and live above the poverty line. My campaign canvassing team has collected over 200 petition signatures as part of the Urban Jobs Task Force campaign. We also nee dot look at how other communities have been able to successfully reduce crime providing more treatment services and youth programming, rather than a focus on detention and jailing.
Even though this is my first time running as a candidate, I have the experience of working on 7 different campaigns dating back to 2010 from the local level (2 common council, 1 commissioner of education, 1 mayor), to the regional level (24th district congress) to the statewide level (2 gubernatorial races).
I decided to run for City Council, because I am certain that I can do a better job than the current incumbent representing the 80% of the 2nd district that is experiencing 30% and higher poverty rates among it's residents. I’m ready to take my experience in community activism, my knowledge in business development and community finance, and my skills in green and sustainable development straight to the city government.
The goal of city government should be to end poverty in our city so that all residents can have a dignified life, with living wage jobs, fully funded schools, and responsive city government.
Every week, we hear about the record poverty plaguing our city and the city council has yet to put forward any solid plans or policies to address this crisis.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here this evening. I look forward to taking your questions and hearing your concerns and sharing my ideas for how we can make Syracuse a City that works for all of us. I’m asking you to vote for me not only because you believe in me and my skills, experiences, knowledge, and ability, but also because I believe in you. And I want to take your voice to city government.
This past Saturday, 18 campaign supporters came out to distribute our new door hanger. So much gratitude to all these individuals who helped us reach over 1,000 households! But we still have lots of work left to distribute campaign literature to registered voters in Syracuse's 2nd District – won’t you join us by registering to volunteer? I am humbled and very encouraged by the positive response, both from voters we talk with and by friends and allies who are joining our campaign team. Your help is essential to our success on Election Day.
On Sunday, the great time I had leading 20 people through the north and west sides of the city on the 13-mile Cycle in the City ride included the question “Is this school open?”, as we rolled into the first stop on the route - Huntington K-8. Twenty cyclists visited five SCSD middle-school facilities along the way - Huntington, Lincoln, Grant, Frazer, and Bellevue. And the scene repeated itself at each school we visited. It was eerily quiet, no one was at the school, no pedestrians, students or families were to be seen.
The city of Syracuse only has three funded neighborhood community centers - Southwest, Westcott, and Northeast. Our schools are valuable community assets that are being underutilized.
My platform includes Neighborhood-Based Community Schools that have strong partnerships with the communities in which they are located, and are fully integrated into the community by contributing to the quality of life and benefiting from its support. Health and mental health care, day care centers, food pantries, and more could be operated more efficiently by locating together and using the schools as a central hub.
Schools belong to the community and should be open from early morning to late evening to provide Life Long Education, Recreation and Socialization opportunities for community members. Every school should have a community garden to reduce lawn maintenance costs, provide food and healthy activity, and provide a place for neighbor interaction.
Finally, I believe that administrators, teachers, and other staff who live in the communities they serve are better equipped to understand the dynamics of neighborhoods and student needs. We must create opportunity and incentive for these professionals that results in their living as part of the school community.
“We must be more generous to our schools so that our children will learn what generosity is, and know enough to be able to be generous to others in return.” - Green Party of Onondaga platform
I call on the Mayor, our Honorable Councilors, and our Board of Education members to join together immediately and call for the state to pay the $61,078,488 Gap Elimination Adjustment funds withheld from Syracuse “failing schools” between 2010 and 2015, and to equitably distribute them to each student in the district. Money does matter to a school’s success, and we should be funding more not less where it is needed to support success and excellence. Pass the Statewide Finance School Finance Consortium resolution now!
Anya had spent a great day with her daughter at the NY State Fair on Labor Day using the tickets she received from her union. They marched alongside her union brothers and sisters in the Labor Day parade remembering workers who came before. The Fight for $15 struggle ahead galvanized her onward towards organizing until all workers bring home a dignified wage.
Juan felt blessed on this day of relaxation, spending time with his familia at their Westside home. He and his son Julio even took a break from eating BBQ to kick the futbol around at the Skiddy Park soccer court. Juan was also thinking about his friend who was injured on the job. Thankfully, he would make a strong recovery and his union representatives were able to negotiate stronger safety controls in their new contract. Juan looked forward to many more happy Labor Days with his family, and dignified working conditions.
Frank walked into camp with his partner and dog, after hiking Cat Mountain, and headed for a swim in Cranberry Lake. Happy to have held his public service position at Onondaga Community College for 7 years, he knew an extended first September weekend was annually his. This year he chose the wilds of our publicly owned Adirondack Forest Preserve. His thoughts swerved to this being his first Labor Day as a union delegate for NYSUT Professional Administrators at OCC, and how workers’ rights were always under fire even at institutions of higher education. Profit is often put before people as adjuncts struggle to piece together enough classes, without benefits, to support their families in dignity, too.
Hector fought the hot sun this Labor Day, harvesting the fields, having worked for the 10th consecutive day in a row. The State Fair came and went during that time, yet he had no opportunity to view the agricultural events there and celebrate his own farming heritage, and certainly no choice but to work these long hours at low wages if he wanted to keep this job. And he did, with two youngsters at home he couldn’t take a break, because the next worker in line would eagerly take it. Dignity be damned.
The future shall not be built upon the backs of workers with no rights, making poverty-rate wages, and holding no organized representation nor respect from owners and the management class. These types of disrespect are happening right here in Central New York, and voice is needed in our government to represent peoples’ rights. I promise as your next Syracuse District Councilor to inform the full council as to currently undergoing worker issues, to listen to and learn together with union representatives, and ensure we fill the open public service positions that will lead to our safety, prosperity, and a city of dignity for all of us.
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