Friday, July 12, 2019

Congress Needs More Mayors, Fewer Corporate Executives-- Meet Mark Gamba Of Milwaukie, Oregon (Pop- 20,000)


It wasn't hard for Blue America to decide to endorse Mark Gamba for Congress. He's running for an Oregon seat held by one of the most venal Blue Dogs in the House, Kurt Schrader, and Mark's record as mayor of Milwaukie speaks as loudly as his stellar platform. I asked him to introduce himself to DWT readers today. If you like what you read, please consider contributing to his uphill, grassroots campaign by clicking on the 2020 Primary a Blue Dog thermometer below.

What We Need Are A Lot More People Like AOC In Congress
by Mark Gamba

I occasionally hear this question: “Why should we elect a small-town mayor to Congress?”

Here is my answer: We have a plethora of problems facing America right now: We are the only industrialized nation on earth that does not have universal health care and this has been the case for a couple of decades. We spend more on our military industrial complex than the next 10 largest militaries in the world combined-- six of which are our allies. We have more of our citizens incarcerated than any other country on earth. Our infrastructure is crumbling, our schools are underfunded, more and more people are homeless every day and we have not done a damn thing about the greatest existential crisis that human kind has ever faced-- Climate change.

Why do you think sending the same status quo, corporate sellouts back to Congress, year after year, is going to change any of that?”

Perhaps it’s time to replace many of them with Mayors who have actually proven they can get stuff done and truly serve the people who elected them! I’ve been the Mayor of my small town for 4 years; I’ve been on the council a little over 6 years.

When I ran for Mayor I didn’t have any experience doing that either.

And yet I got things done:

Goal ThermometerI was told by the current all-male council that it was impossible to fund the build out of our safe routes to school, and the rest of our active transportation system, and that was when we thought it would cost around $30 million. Once I encouraged and helped a couple of smart women run for council and replace two of those obstinate men, and we actually did the work, we found that it was going to be more like $50 million. With outstanding outreach, we engaged with the community and gave people opportunities for input. The council passed the plan and the funding mechanism and we will have it built out in 9 years. That’s just one concrete example. People had been asking for sidewalks for decades, councils had been failing to build them for decades.

As a country, we have some very serious things to accomplish, some of them have a very short clock. We have 11 years, as of now, to radically shift the way our country does a whole lot of things like how we make energy, grow food, manage forests, build buildings and transport people and goods. It’s going to take a congress with a can-do attitude and the guts to stand up to corporations, to tackle these issues.

Having vast experience navigating the vicissitudes of corporate lobbyists and the obstructionist behavior from the other side of the isle has managed to solve exactly zero of these major problems, as a matter of fact I would say that things have actually gotten worse over the last few decades. Everyone below the top 10% of the population is getting poorer, less money is being spent on affordable housing, infrastructure and education. Simultaneously the top 0.1% are getting dramatically richer and we are spending more subsidizing the very industries that are killing our planet. Tell me how all of that experience is benefiting us?

I would argue that the most effective congressperson at the moment is the former bartender from Brooklyn. She doesn’t take corporate money and is therefore not beholden to the lobbyists; she is there for the right reason which is to serve the people’s best interests-- all the people, not just the rich people. She is bold, smart, aggressive and is not “doing it the way it’s always been done.” What we need are a lot more people like AOC in Congress. Let’s take climate change as an example.

The U.S. government has known for at least three decades, what it is and what it will do if left unchecked, and for three decades we have allowed Big Coal, Oil and Gas to dictate our policy. We have dabbled around the edges and utterly failed to address the biggest threat to our species in the history of humankind.

It’s not rocket science, it’s not like we need to learn a whole lot more to solve the problem. We just have to have the political will to do it.

For starters we need to utterly stop subsidizing the industries that seem dead set on killing us.

Secondly, we need to put a price on carbon-- simple, straight forward, no carve outs, no exceptions.

Those two alone will send the economic signal to change. Had we done them both 30 years ago, it might have been enough, but now it’s not.

So, we need the Green New Deal. Which apparently required someone who hadn’t been in congress for a decade to kick start.

We need to hire and train millions of people for living wage jobs that help people and our environment:

We need to carefully and effectively replace all the HFCs in all the refrigerators and air conditioners worldwide with natural refrigerants.

We need to build solar, wind (on and offshore), geothermal, tidal and wave energy systems as fast as we can until there is enough to power our entire country.

We need energy storage systems created and installed-- like Lithium Ion batteries, flow batteries, pump storage, hydrogen and more.

We need to build a smart grid.

We need to upgrade our building codes to Net Zero ready.

We need to upgrade our existing building stock to radically increase their energy efficiency.

We need to accelerate the switch to electric vehicles and create an enticing trade-in process to encourage anyone willing to trade in their gasoline powered vehicles.

We need to radically increase our mass transit systems-- electrify them, make them faster, more efficient and far more robust. Make transit the faster, more efficient, more comfortable way to get to work.

We need to build out our bike and pedestrian infrastructure and subsidize electric bikes.

We need to begin to convert farming to much more sustainable methods, switch no-till farming and restore our soils. We should radically reduce the chemicals we use for farming. We need to break up giant agribusinesses by ending subsidies to them and instead subsidize smaller family farms that are farming sustainably and growing food that is healthy for people and non-destructive to the planet.

We need to encourage more plant-based diets by giving people a chance to experience really great vegetarian options and teach people how to prepare those themselves.

We need to change the way we manage forests: longer rotations, selective cuts, maintain all current old growth and begin to restore it. We probably need to plant and nurture about a trillion trees worldwide. Instead of investing in war overseas perhaps we could invest in protecting, restoring and enlarging the great forests of the planet.

We need to educate girls and provide family planning worldwide; these are some of the most powerful things we can do to help alleviate poverty and slow and reverse population growth.

We need to buy less stuff and we need to make sure that the stuff we buy isn’t designed to break as soon as the warranty expires (designed obsolescence) and can be completely reused by the manufacturer when it does need to be replaced (cradle to cradle). We should also have tool libraries available in all communities so that we don’t have to buy things we will only use once or twice.

There are about 100 things beyond these that need doing just to address climate change and poverty. We can easily employ all the people in the carbon industries and millions more to do get them done. In the process we can lift people out of poverty and make sure that this transition improves the lives of the marginalized communities more than it does the billionaires.

I’d imagine that most of congress thinks this can’t be done. I don’t really care what they think, I know it MUST be done and so I will not take no for an answer and I will not be stopped. Maybe what we need is a congress full of small-town mayors that have done the impossible already.

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At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish Mark Gamba a successful campaign. The resident Party trolls might want to read his statement.

At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mayors have executive experience. Good ones solve problems. The best ones are focused 99.9% on making their city the best it can be, only .1% on their party.

Congress couldn't be much worse. If only former mayors could run, it might improve slightly. Hard to say with 10s of 1000s of lobbyists waving checkbooks there to meet them at the airport.

At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Mark Gamba said...

I look forward to telling those lobbyists where they can stick their checkbooks. :)

At 6:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you, Mark. Now, whatcha gonna do about being neutered by the party tyrant in that chamber?

Have a chat with AOC and Omar about that.


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