The YDN reports on the New Haven Student Fair Share Coalition’s dramatically succesful call-in day yesterday to Bruce Alexander and John DeStefano, urging a fair share settlement between Yale and New Haven with a contribution that would narrow the gap between Yale’s tax value and the PILOT money New Haven receives, a mechanism for indexing that contribution to Yale’s growth, and a commitment from Yale to enter Community Benefits Agreements for future expansion:

About 75 students gathered on Cross Campus throughout the day Monday to call Alexander and DeStefano’s offices and urge progress on talks to increase Yale’s contribution in lieu of taxes to the city. The campaign was organized by the New Haven Student Fair Share Coalition, a group of Yale organizations formed in April that claims there is a $10 million gap between the actual tax value of University property and the payments the city receives in lieu of those taxes…Any change in the status of Yale’s contributions to the city would be the first change since 1990, when the Yale Golf Course was opened to taxation and the University began paying the city for fire services. Yale, like most nonprofits, is exempt from property taxes on its noncommercial buildings. Property taxes are the major source of funding for New Haven, which has faced budgetary problems in recent years. New Haven also receives about 65 percent of the money it would have obtained from taxing Yale through Connecticut’s Payment In Lieu of Taxes program (PILOT).

…Josh Eidelson ’06, a member of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee (UOC), one of the Fair Share Coalition’s member groups, said that the launch of talks had encouraged the coalition. “The fact that these negotiations are happening now demonstrates the importance of pressure from students and the community in pushing Yale to have a more progressive settlement with New Haven,” Eidelson said. In addition to the UOC, 13 other undergraduate student groups — including The Black Student Alliance at Yale, Movimiento Estudantil Chicano/a de Atzlan, and Jews for Justice — belong to the coalition. Ben Siegel ’07, who is involved with Jews for Justice, said different groups had different motives for joining the coalition. “The highest principle of charity in Jewish tradition is to give in a way that facilitates other people becoming empowered and gaining control of their futures,” Siegel said. “We hope that the University will live up to those principles.” UOC member Helena Herring ’07, who helped organize the phone calls yesterday, said there was a lot of support for the coalition’s ideas. “People have been really receptive and excited by the idea and people who have been coming to make calls have not been inclusive of the member groups,” Herring said. “It shows that there is broad-based support for this.”

Alas, the article makes no mention of the amazing pies Emily Jones baked for the event, which were as tasty as they were symbolic.


To the Editor:

The New Haven Student Fair Share Coalition, which Associate VP for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand called a “small group” making a “partisan press bid,” (“Fair share coalition presses for payment”) represents sixteen undergraduate organizations, from the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, to the Black Student Alliance at Yale, to the Muslim Student Association, to Peace by Peace, which together are calling for Yale to make an institutional financial investment in New Haven commesurate with Yale’s economic power in New Haven and its aspirations for local and national leadership. Last night, before a vote in which half of Dwight Hall’s Cabinet demonstrated support for the Fair Share Campaign, Yale’s Associate General Counsel referred to the push for the nation’s second wealthiest university to contribute more to one of the nation’s poorest cities as “a zero-sum game” (“Dwight Hall rejects Fair Share proposal,” 4/21). This echoes Morand’s argument in these pages (“Math won’t add up in proposed PILOT cuts”, 3/5) that for an $11 billion institution to spend more money on improving the public school education of low-income children would have to mean spending less money on extending a Yale education to low-income undergraduates. Our coalition is calling on Yale to stop clinging to an 1834 tax “super-exemption” and to show civic leadership at a time of fiscal scarcity when citizens throughout the city will be paying increased taxes for the third year in a row and further cuts to education funding appear imminent (“City ready for cuts in state aid,” 4/14). For the Office of New Haven and State Affairs to pit the needs of undergraduates and those of New Haven’s other students against each other while accusing our coalition of being “divisive” is as cynical as it is ironic.

This afternoon, a coalition of fifteen Yale undergraduate groups came together to call on Yale to make a fair-share contribution to New Haven and to discuss how such a policy would affect them as members of their groups – the Black Student Alliance at Yale, the Muslim Student Association, MEChA, Social Justice Network, Jews for Justice, Women’s Center Political Action Committee, Peace by Peace, Early Childhood Educators, Yale Coalition for Peace, Yale Coalition to End the Death Penalty, Climate Campaign, Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, the Student Legal Action Movement, the Progressive Party, and the Undergraduate Organizing Committee – and as members of the Yale and New Haven communities. It was a powerful event and a strong kick-off for a coalition that will keep organizing and mobilizing for real partnership between this city and this University.

NewAlliance Bancshares update: Lots of folks continue to reach this site searching for “NewAlliance Bancshares “. While I’d like to believe that they’re all searching for NewAlliance Bancshares to find out more about how those NewAlliance Bancshares represent a killing for a wealthy elite in Connecticut and beyond, and how the community has continued to resist the bank-to-be-known-as-NewAlliance‘s end-run around a depositor’s vote and launched a boycott against NewAlliance, initiated by CCNE and joined last week by ECCO. But it occurs to me that some internet denizens of means , having heard of the killing to be made on NewAlliance Bancshares , are gunning to find out how they can get their hands on some NewAlliance Bancshares of their own. For that reason, I urge others to create some NewAlliance Bancshares links of their own to draw some of the googling attention of those seeking NewAlliance Bancshares to the dark side of those NewAlliance Bancshares and to the boycott they should be supporting.

On today’s YDN op-ed page, Grayson Walker begins by arguing that dollar for dollar, your money does more good going to an anti-poverty organization than directly to someone who asks for it on the street – a position I generally agree with, with the caveat that most people who make that argument don’t end up giving money to either. Unfortunately, he goes downhill from there, recognizing that Yale has a vested interest in ameliorating the appearance of poverty in New Haven but not that Yale has a vested interest in substantive change in the plight of New Haveners or in real partnership with the larger community. The only partnership he suggests is

a coalition that includes Yale administrators and students, local businesses, New Haven city officials, and social welfare advocates

which sounds all well and good – unfortunately this coalition is charged not with addressing the structural inequality whose victims are in the thankless position of asking for money on the streets of New Haven, but with finding more creative ways to police them.

Conveniently laid out next to his piece is one from the head of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, Mike Morand, which beneath more artful rhetoric also attempts to absolve Yale of responsibility for real partnership in New Haven. Specifically, he argues that restricting Yale’s tax super-exemption would threaten Yale’s financial solvency without really helping New Haven because the state would respond to any move by Yale to shoulder its own tax burden on its profit-making properties by proportionately scaling back Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to New Haven from the state. The problem with his argument, besides the irony of New Haven tax payers subsidizing Yale’s exemption, is that the state government has under-funded PILOT consistently over the past years, and thus the percentage of Yale’s tax exemption it compensates has steadily decreased. What would keep PILOT funding secure would be for Yale to step up and pay its fair share and for ONHSA to join CCNE in lobbying for increased PILOT. Unfortunately, that prospect seems to be about as attractive to Levin as joining forces with GESO to fight for international student visa reform.

The YDN offers another piece on Tuesday’s Ward 22 co-chair race, emphasizing the historical singularity of Alyssa and Shaneen’s campaign and the potential they’ve ignited. It also quotes an absurd slur from their opponent, Mae Ola Riddick, who accuses Alyssa, who founded and led New Haven’s community lobby for domestic partnership, of not calling enough attention to her support for the domestic partnership ammendment – one which, incidentally Mae Ola voted for as Alderwoman and which her successful challenger, the Rev. Drew King, supported as well. Mae Ola’s attempt to paint herself as an ideological martyr and Alyssa as a political opportunist is as convincing as her argument that she doesn’t need to campaign because she has the name recognition with her former constituents. These are the same constituents, of course, who voted her down first at the Ward Nominating Committee, then in the primary, and finally in the general election.

Apparently, I’m not the only one getting lots of searches for “newalliancebancshares.” If folks are looking to find out how to cash in on what DeStefano rightly called a “bank robbery” before deciding to cut and run, they’ve come to the wrong place. If you want to know how we can stop anti-democratic subversions of the will of the depositors like this one, check out this piece on State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney’s support for a bill that would flex the muscle of the state banking commission a bit.

John DeStefano, in his State of the City Address tonight, showed photos of rallies to keep the New Haven Savings Bank in the hands of its depositors, asserted rightly that strengthening this city means “getting into other people’s business” when those people are entrenched corporate interests, and declared that “we need to do more of that.”

Yes, New Haven’s city government needs to do more of that. Following through the bank fight, rather than cutting a deal and promising corporate power to keep the people of New Haven from getting out of hand, would have been a good place to start.

Another unfortunate YDN staff editorial:

As great an activist as he may be, we are beginning to tire of Jackson’s seemingly endless campaign against the so-called evils of Yale…Yale should be mindful of the power its successful investment office wields, and how its practices can and do affect the world around it. But for Jesse Jackson to dictate how Yale manages its own assets is entirely inappropriate.

In other words, it’s OK for Yale to do the right thing, just as long as it doesn’t have to appearance to being a response to demands from New Haveners, students, or any other uppity interlopers. Which is pretty much the message of the Yale Office of Public Affairs as well.

On April 3, 1968 Dr. King declared:

We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say “God sent us here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.

This morning, following a righteous service at First and Summerfield Church, hundreds of New Haveners of all backgrounds marched to the New Haven Savings Bank to declare their plans to withdraw their savings unless the Bank changes its current destructive course. Afterwards clergy and community members joined undergraduates in Yale’s Woolsey Rotunda, where a year ago students were threatened with arrest for leafletting, and spoke our about Dr. King’s vision for progressive radical social change and the work ahead of us to realize it. Because it’s not enough to have a dream – you have to be willing to fight for it.

SEIU Local 1199 is bringing a class action law-suit against against Yale – New Haven and Bridgeport Hospitals for aggressively dogging low-income sick people for medical bills while failing to inform them of their right to access to the state-funded free-bed fund designed to help ensure access to healthcare for the unemployed and working poor. The YDN headline calls the suit the “latest indicator of ongoing tension.” The source of tension, of course, is Yale – New Haven’s continued refusal to deal justly with the New Haven Community, be it its unionized workers still laboring without a contract, its non-union workers struggling to organize in an environment which spawned multiple NLRB settlements, or the working-class patients it aims to serve.

The leadership of Yale – New Haven Hospital is also the driving force behind the New Haven Savings Bank conversion plot, and the main beneficiary should their get-rich-quick scheme succeed. This week depositors also filed a class action lawsuit against the conversion, which would rob New Haven of its communal bank without a vote by its depositor-owners. As 1199 spokesman Bill Meyerson told the YDN:

The same group of individuals that are denying depositors a vote on what happens to their bank — denying them a right of the profits and surpluses of the bank through this conversion plan — sit on the hospital board of trustees, and are making the decisions about suing patients with inadequate insurance for the so-called crime of being sick and uninsured…it’s about the accountability of a select powerful group who run vital institutions in this community.

The Yale Corporation met this weekend and agreed, in response to a sustained mobilization by community members, and a broad coalition of students, to extend its Homebuyer Program to all of Fair Haven, prompting an official announcement yesterday of the policy shift VP Bruce Alexander promised last month. This is a real victory for light and truth at Yale.

The Corporation also appointed its Senior Fellow, John Pepper of Proctor and Gamble, to replace the Vice President for Finance and Administration seat Bob Culver left over the summer. Let’s hope he makes a better effort to respond constructively to the demands of working people than his predecessor. Replacing Culver as Senior Fellow will be long-time GWB friend Roland Betts.

Meanwhile, tonight at 6:30 PM members of Local 34 and GESO will march out of their membership meetings and converge on Cross Campus for a powerful Human Rights Day action demanding change in the University’s policy towards its female workers. Be there. Barbara Ehrenreich will be.