By Yezdyar S. Kaoosji
In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.—Charles Darwin
Collaboration is the strategy that drove the No on Measure G campaign. This referendum may soon become a case study for public policy and political science classes.
So how did the “No” vote prevail against an extremely well-financed campaign that was aggressively led by the mayor and department executives of her administration, who used their status to push for its passage? It was with a strong collaboration of people from across the political and cultural landscape of Fresno. Prominent leaders with a diversity of political affiliations, community organizations, labor and employee unions, current and former political office holders of both parties, private business owners and professionals came together with one common goal—the preservation of an award-winning waste collection service in Fresno.
We made phone calls. We launched and monitored precinct walks, distributed yard signs, collated campaign supplies and labeled door hangers. A cadre of volunteers from the Central Valley Progressive Political Action Committee filled 170 shifts, walking precincts and phone banking.
The “Light Brigade” volunteers made and held their giant illuminated “Vote June 4 – No on Measure G” signs, with one volunteer per letter. They stood after sundown at major city intersections, in neighborhoods like the Tower District and on highway overpasses. They waved to thrilled drivers who cheerfully honked their support as they drove by.
This newspaper, the Community Alliance, kept the message well covered over the months preceding the election informing readers about the facts of the faulty Measure G plan. The Progressive Network issued “Action Alerts” to its members who responded in force wherever needed. It was by using facts that campaign workers were successful in getting out the vote and defeating Measure G.
So, what is beyond? We know now that we win when we work together. And that we win when we exercise our franchise and vote. The same enthusiasm needs to be summoned for all elections.
The Progressive Network of Central California is already busy fine-tuning strategies to promote collaboration. We all have many causes we like to support but do not have time to be involved in every effort. But there are times when everyone can rally together, at the final stage, to give that one little push. There was a time in America when a whole town turned up to help a neighbor raise the barn. The Progressive Network’s “Action Alerts” are today’s call to raise the barn.
Most ongoing events are usually listed in the Community Alliance calendar. These could be activities related to advocacy, as the Jesse Morrow–related action, or attending public hearings for voicing your opinions before the Board of Supervisors or the various city councils, commissions and boards in the area. Or simply a good educational event or special film presentation. If your organization or you as an individual wish to receive Progressive Network Action Alerts, please send your e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Progressive Network Mailings” in the subject line.
This edition of the Progressive Voice would not be complete without thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who tirelessly devoted their time and worked diligently on the No on Measure G campaign, and the voters who cast their valuable votes, Thank you.
Here is a small gift to thank you for reading this column to the end! I hope you will enjoy this You Tube video and the message it reinforces.
Congratulations to you and the Progressive Network of Central California for beating back the effort to privatize municipal services. In my experience, “public-private partnerships” and “privatization” are just other words for taxpayers paying more in order to generate greater profits for corporations.
Robert B. Reich
Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley
Yezdyar Kaoosji is a steering committee member of the Progressive Network of Central California and a board member of the California Association of Nonprofits. Contact him at email@example.com.