New Civil Rights Investigation Probes Agency Role in Airport Connector Project
San Francisco, CA –The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has rejected claims by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) that it is not responsible for civil rights compliance by Bay Area transit operators, and opened a new investigation into MTC’s civil rights practices. The probe comes just six months after FTA withdrew $70 million in federal stimulus funds from BART after finding it had not complied with a range of civil rights protections.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance. As the Bay Area’s regional transportation agency, MTC distributes funds to area transit agencies. It must ensure, and formally certify, that transportation planning and funding decisions in the nine-county region meet all civil rights requirements.
Rinku Sen is the president and executive director of the Applied Research Center (ARC) and publisher of ColorLines magazine. A leading figure in the racial justice movement, Rinku has positioned ARC as the home for media and activism on racial justice. She has extensive practical experience on the ground, with expertise in race, feminism, immigration, and economic justice. Over the course of her career, Rinku has woven together journalism and organizing to further social change. She also has significant experience in philanthropy, as vice chair of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, and Advisory Committee member of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity. Previously, she was the co-director of the Center for Third World Organizing.
Our emphasis is on the ways that advancing civil rights claims can result in stronger federal investments in our most burdened communities; therefore, this meeting will be useful for advocates from all sectors, including community groups, labor groups, and city and local electeds, staff, and commissioners from around the Bay. Stakeholders and decision makers with an interest in transit justice are particularly encouraged to attend, but community advocates from across all issues areas impacted by federal investment will find the information shared in this meeting relevant to their campaigns.
Read the speaker's bio and hear the podcast of their presentation:
* Bob Allen, Director of Transportation and Housing, Urban Habitat
* Shireen Malekafzali, Senior Associate, PolicyLink
* Guillermo Mayer, Senior Staff Attorney, Public Advocates
From the Editor
In this issue we celebrate our 20th anniversary with reflections on the social and environmental justice landscape from 1990 to the present. When the journal was founded, the EJ movement was just beginning to be heard on the national stage. A succession of intense local struggles around the siting of toxic facilities in communities of color had brought the impacts of racism back into public view.
The movement welcomed a publication that could, in the words of founding editors Carl Anthony and Luke Cole, “strengthen the networks between environmental groups and working people, people of color and poor people.” In these times of multiple crises, as racial and economic justice seem ever more elusive, we are proud to play a part in reporting on the valuable thinking and work of this crucial coalition. In addition to a sampling of reprints from the last two decades, we share speeches and interviews from a cross-section of today’s engaged activists.
Presented to the BART Board of Directors, May 13, 2010
BART's Draft Public Participation Plan (PPP) is a good first step toward providing meaningful public participation in BART decisions. But it is missing some crucial components. We recommend additional steps be taken to ensure the public input is not empty, but has real impact.
By adopting these recommendations, you will make the public a partner in BART decision-making as well as move the agency towards achieving the ultimate objectives of Civil Rights and Environmental Justice regulations.
Carl Anthony co-founded Race, Poverty and the Environment in 1990. In this interview with RP&E editor B. Jesse Clarke, Anthony shares his reflections on some of the key milestones that led to the creation of the Journal and its role in the ever-evolving environmental justice movement. Recorded at the studios of the National Radio Project, this interview introduces Radio RP&E—Podcasts and Broadcasts from the national journal of social and environmental justice. Read an edited excerpt below or listen to the full interview.
Subscribe to the RP&E Radio podcast feed.
Download the mp3. Use the player above. Or use this ITunes link.
Jesse Clarke: Can you talk a little bit about where the environmental movement was on Earth Day 1970?
Carl Anthony: Earth Day 1970 was started, in part, as a result of the work of Rachel Carson who wrote Silent Spring in 1962. That book and similar research on the effects of DDT sparked a growing interest in the environment that went beyond protecting wildlife and open spaces. In some ways, it was paradoxical, because it became a powerful protest movement that was also distancing itself from issues of race and social justice.
Some proponents of environmentalism sought to use it to put a closure on the struggles of the 1960s and launch a new kind of consciousness about the earth and the environment, without really addressing issues of social and racial justice. But in fact, all these movements were interrelated. Many people, for innumerable reasons, were really upset with the dominant society and the way in which it was destroying both culture and places. Indeed, the new environmental movement owed something to the civil rights movement.
BART recently announced an unprecedented community outreach schedule to improve outreach to “minorities and other underrepresented communities.” What BART didn’t announce was that it was only doing this to fulfill a federal funding requirement, not out of concern or moral obligation to the poor and disadvantaged.
Earlier this year, the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) withheld $70 million in stimulus monies because BART ignored civil rights issues, both with its proposed Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) project, and as an agency as a whole. From the murder of Oscar Grant, to fare hikes and service cuts to BART’s arrogance over the OAC project, the transit agency has consistently shown disregard for low-income and communities of color. BART’s public meetings are part of their efforts to get back into compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
ACTION ALERT! City of Pleasanton – Will you Uphold or Neglect Your Duty to Provide your Fair Share of Affordable Housing?
WHO: Pleasanton City Council
WHAT: To hear from the public on how to respond to a recent court ruling that would require Pleasanton to BUILD ITS FAIR SHARE OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING – Will the City follow the MORAL and LEGAL path or will it continue to pander to NIMBY fears?
WHERE: City of Pleasanton, City Council Chamber, 200 Old Bernal Avenue
WHEN: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. (and again on Tuesday, April 20)
Will BART’s Public Meetings be a Facelift or Create Real Change?
From the murder of Oscar Grant to fare hikes and the fight over the Oakland Airport Connector, BART has been in the news A LOT this past year. These events have crystallized something that many of us have known for awhile – That BART has been consistently indifferent to the lives, rights and needs of our community.