Residents Put Iraq,
Nukes on Fall Ballot
[In the recent Illinois primary, residents of Chicago's Berwyn Suburb had the chance to vote for a cutoff of funds for the Iraq war, except for what was needed to bring all the troops quickly and safely home. The measure passed by a 2-to-1 margin in this largely working-class area just west of the city. Now additional measures, described below will appear on the ballot in the Fall. The Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice, initiators of these efforts, have put them to good use bringing pressure to bear on their Congressman, Daniel Lipinski. An instructive text of a letter concerning their meeting with him also appears below.]
April 9, 2008
At the annual township meeting tonight in the working class Chicago suburb of Berwyn, two ballot questions passed unanimously. The questions below were brought by members of Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice (NWCPJ) and their supporters.
"Shall our representatives in Congress hold current and former public officials and private contractors accountable for war crimes, including torture and unprovoked aggression, in connection with the Iraq war?"
"Shall our elected officials in Illinois take steps to phase out nuclear power in the state, replacing it with renewable sources such as wind and solar?"
Berwyn Township has added anti-war questions to the ballots for the last two years. In November, 2006, 71% of those who went to the polls in Berwyn answered yes to the question, "In order to halt the continuing loss of human life and resources necessary to meet human needs at home, shall the United States Government immediately begin an orderly and rapid withdrawal of all military personnel from Iraq, beginning with the National Guard and Reserves?"
On the primary ballot in February of this year, 77% of Berwyn voters sent an even stronger anti-war message by affirming the question, "Shall our representatives in Congress pursue all available mans to limit military funding in Iraq to only that which is required to bring all U.S. troops home safely?"
In addition to the anti-war question, 82% of township voters approved of the question concerning global warming. "Shall our elected representatives at all levels of government enact legislation and set policies that promote the use and creation of renewable energy sources and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions?"
Dear Rep. Lipinski: Thank you for your letter dated January 10, 2007 in which you put forth your beliefs and concerns regarding the continued War and Occupation of Iraq. In your November meeting with us, Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice (NWCPJ), you had promised such a statement.
We acknowledge that your statement represents some progress, as far as we are concerned, in your position in that you now support a redeployment of troops from Iraq beginning sometime this year. We share your concerns regarding regional stability and for preventing the spread of terrorism.
We encourage your efforts to obtain more accountability from the administration regarding the conduct of Iraq operations.
However, we ask that you go further in meeting our requests and the mandate of your constituents as expressed by their passage of the referendum for 'immediate withdrawal" of troops in the November election.
Our requests, which accord with the overwhelming majority of voters in the District (71%), ask:
That you publicly support a withdrawal of American troops and personnel beginning in January 2007.
--To this end, we request that you vote against the upcoming $100 billion appropriations bill for the Iraq war. This bill will not affect the troops on the ground in 2007, but is meant to fund future years of the war. The war will not end until the appropriations do.
That you publicly oppose any increase in US troop levels.
We also request that you vote against any emergency appropriations relating to such an escalation.
That you support investigations into the corruption surrounding the war including price gouging and fraud perpetrated by private contractors, the "fixing" of intelligence to make a case for war and bringing those responsible for torture to justice.
--To this end we urge you, again, to initiate legislation to repeal the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which negates the principle of Habeas Corpus and absolves torturers and criminals from prosecution under the Geneva Conventions.
That you help to commit resources for the rebuilding of infrastructure that the US has destroyed and oppose the construction and maintenance of permanent US military bases in the country.
As to the balance of your statement on the situation in Iraq , we applaud your concern for international involvement in solving the grievous problems stemming from our invasion and occupation and your wish to help set up a peace conference and get the US talking with Syria and Iran.
We also have concern that Iraqis gain control of their own resources. Without oil revenue, Iraq will not have the capital resources to return to any semblance of stability.
Thank you for your time and interest. Our members look forward to meeting with you in your Washington office and I with some neighbors and friends with your staff in Chicago on January 29 to discuss this response in person.
Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice