Almost everywhere protests on behalf of poor people’s rights make the news, odds are the renowned, Minnesota-born co-founder of Kensington Welfare Rights Union and national coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Cheri Honkala, can be found. She’s either pictured yelling through a bullhorn, or sitting in the middle of some highway blocking traffic or building a tent city for a protest.
She now is the Green Party candidate for the 197th Legislative Dist.
We believe neither of the two major-party candidates running for office, Democratic social-service-oriented nonprofit executive Frederick Ramírez and Republican clinical-research director Lucinda Little, can garner the attention of the national media like Honkala can. And who else has a son who is a movie star as known as Mark Webber?
Her endorsement release says, “Cheri Honkala, a formerly homeless single mother, knows the struggles of the 197th Legislative Dist. in North Philadelphia, which is the poorest district in Philadelphia. She has advocated for the rights and needs of people without homes and suffering in poverty for years. Her love and understanding of the community has compelled her to step forward in her district, ‘because it’s hurting, and I know its pain.’”
Unlike her run for sheriff of Philadelphia in 2011 and as vice president in the US 2012 presidential election, when her races were symbols of protest on behalf of our poor and needy, this race puts her in the heart of a district from which many of her protests are launched.
We say all this, because Honkala has created the image of a leader of the poor who can bring thousands together at almost a moment’s notice. Now we all will learn if she is a political leader with a following that will flock to the polls to vote for her, work for her, or carry signs and wear t-shirts alerting 197th voters she is the only choice to be made – or more a Wizard of Oz.
She should easily get the endorsement of our city’s highly motivated liberal dailies and more coverage in her campaign efforts than the other two.
But of the three, she stands to lose the most. If she loses the race in this tiny district, where she has roamed its streets almost forever, that will mark the end of her national and local reputation as a leader of any consequence.
Gov. Wolf Has a Campaign Clock
Gov. Tom Wolf is a quick learner. He has skirted some of the pitfalls that derailed his predecessor Tom Corbett’s expected second term. And he understands many of the positive reasons Pennsylvanians should reelect him is the fact he was able to stop state spending and balancing the budget.
But where does he cut – especially when he needs votes from Philadelphia, where there is always a need for health and welfare, drug and senior services?
That is why his decision to merge the Depts. of Aging, Health, Human Services, and Drug & Alcohol Programs into a single state agency should come as no surprise. He saves many dollars. The move has also earned him raves from some of the Commonwealth’s bigger health-advocacy groups.
Smart labor leaders know to hold their fire until the time comes to having to sit down with the opposition. So many of them did not support Donald Trump, only to find their rank and file doing just that in the presidential election.
Other national labor leaders didn’t rebuff President Trump when he requested they meet with him. Chips were put into play.
Which is why we caution local political leaders such as Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan, who quickly responded to Trump’s first executive orders. His anti-Trump stance was fully supported by his rank and file, which had taken to the streets to fight for Hillary Clinton in big numbers.
He and the national teachers’ labor organizations have no chips in the game hosted by the new president. We fear their efforts to better the status of their rank and file will fall on deaf ears for the duration of this presidential term.
Pa. Congressmen, Mayor Back Refugees
Philadelphia Congressmen Robert Brady, Brendan Boyle and Dwight Evans, along with Mayor Jim Kenney, have decried the return of two Syrian families who were lawfully entering the United States through Philadelphia International Airport.
“It is outrageous that after they were apparently vetted for years, and finally having been approved for permanent residency in this country these families were held and returned to a third country within hours of deplaning. This action may be a death sentence for them and is another example of how brain dead policy is dangerous and destructive,” said Brady.
Evans weighed in, “The Trump administration’s ban on immigrants most certainly qualifies as cruel and unusual. Today was a very sad day in the city of Brotherly Love.”
Boyle added, “As the son of an Irish immigrant, I am proud of my country’s proud tradition of accepting refugees who seek safety in the United States, after a long and thorough vetting process. That tradition should continue. The fact that Trump issued these orders on Holocaust Remembrance Day adds a truly bitter irony to this horrible situation. The President’s orders turn away people fleeing the evil that we despise.”
Mayor Jim Kenney stated, “I am sickened by reports that federal officials, without knowledge or cooperation of PHL Airport staff, detained and then turned away two Syrian families. By several accounts, these families waited months to obtain the proper documentation so they could come to our country legally. And still, they were sent back to a war-torn nation that has used chemical warfare against its own people. The Trump administration very well may have just given these families a death sentence. Our city has welcomed approximately 260 refugees in recent years from these now-banned nations. We must speak out strongly against this executive order so these new Philadelphians’ friends and families can also find safe harbor in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”