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Anyone who’s been to multiple Town Hall meetings is well aware that some are nothing more than a dog and pony show, a public relations attempt to credit the politician with caring about community concerns. Well, for all you activists out there – don’t get too jaded yet.

Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland held her first town hall meeting in West Oakland on Saturday, February 5, and over 200 community residents attended!  The meeting was even structured with break out groups, based on a variety of community topics ranging from public safety to the environment.  Each group was able to discuss and list out solutions in order of priority, on giant pieces of butcher paper which were then handed over to the Mayor herself.

In case participatory democracy in Oakland politics isn’t a highlight enough, the community actually identified tangible solutions in which everyone in attendance could agree on!  One solution even appeared as a top priority in two of the break out groups.  Sounds like Mayor Quan knows exactly what she needs to work on – Relocating the Recyclers. Read the rest of this entry »

Can pollution from natural gas drilling or other heavy industry turn homes into “Unlivable Property”?

Beth Strudley, a homeowner in Silt Mesa, Colorado filed a Constructive Eviction claim with her insurance company after doctors told the family to get out of the house due to chemical exposure.  Constructive Eviction is when outside circumstances render the house uninhabitable, circumstantially evicting a person or family from their home. Read the rest of this entry »

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