2015-2016 President's Report

PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2015-2016

The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester is an advocacy group that campaigns for social justice. Our
Op / Ed in the Democrat and Chronicle talked about the injustices of our local government in the
treatment of children and the poor by the reduction of funds for child care. We use physical
presence and educating of the government and the community on the moral wrongs that are
inflicted on the people that impact our lives. WE CAN DO BETTER.

Advocacy Issues Addressed by The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester

REASONABLE GUN LAWS
We are in the midst of forming a coalition of organizations for reasonable gun laws, RCRGL
This group has organized forums and promoted the necessity of more reasonable gun laws.
Three public forums were held by RCRGL in January, March, May to educate the public
on the Second Amendment, present the impact on families by gun violence, and promote
reasonable gun laws

ENVIRONMENT
We with many faiths organized and participated in a Prayer Service based on Pope Francis’
encyclical. Our support for action on climate change includes opposition to hydrofracking, and
we continue this effort by sending letters or visiting our legislators. While supporting the
state’s current ban, we believe that there are still major concerns to be addressed. Members
have attended forums sponsored by the Pachamama Alliance and are encouraged with our
group action

Poverty

FIGHT FOR $15
TIAR joined with other organizations to support this project. While the state legislature came
through with an increase of the minimum wage, there is still much to be done. We support this
project, at the national, state and local level, as an effort to help low-wage earners benefit from
a living wage. Members marched, wrote letters, and attended wage board meetings to
encourage our legislators to support the effort.
REACH (Rochester Emergency Action Committee for the Homeless)
TIAR supported this project’s temporary shelter for the homeless with a donation of $500.
Members were encouraged to work with their faith groups to provide food and transportation.
MONROE COUNTY REENTRY PROGRAM
TIAR members donated personal care items to help people upon release from jail or prison.

State Governance

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
In the Fall, TIAR cosponsored with the League of Women Voters an informational meeting to
educate the public on the pros and cons of convening a constitutional convention as provided
for in the New York State Constitution

RAISE THE AGE

Again letters were sent to our state legislators and Governor Cuomo. New York State is one of
only two states that treat minors age 16 17 as adults in criminal cases. We want the age raised
to 18 before the designation of adult is attached.

PREVENT SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
We continue to write letters to the Governor and State Legislators to end this practice. A
petition was signed by the TIAR President.

ROCHESTER VOTER ALLIANCE:
TIAR continues as an organizing member of this nonpartisan group, along with the League of
Women Voter and other civic and faith groups. RVA conducts a registration campaign in local
areas where there is low voter turnout. This organization is active only in Presidential election
years; a steering committee has recruited over 175 volunteers and 40 sites for voter registration
this year.

Local Political Action

FECP (Fair Campaign Practices Committee)
TIAR and the League of Women Voters invite candidates to sign a pledge to conduct their
campaign fairly as they run for office. FEPC convenes a panel that allows candidates to register
their complaints about the unfairness of an opponent’s campaign practices. After review, a
finding is published about these practices.

RACIAL DIALOGUE
In conjunction with RocACTS we participated in activities promoting better understanding
among races. Activities included attending movies and book discussion groups, and promoting
the creation of venues for Sacred Conversations on racism as individual, institutional and
systemic. By understanding our history, we can better understand the present

IMMIGRATION / REFUGEES
Letters were sent to Mayor Warren and Governor Cuomo in affirming their support of refugees
coming to New York State. Letter sent to Senator Schumer indicating our displeasure at his
anti-refugee stand. A presentation was given to the Board on rules and regulations regarding
the immigration process.

Educational Presentations by Speakers at Board Meetings

  • Brigit Hurley (Children's Agenda): SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN’S SABBATH
  • Rev. William Wilkinson (Board Member): ROCHESTER ACTS: BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP
  • Virginia Fifield (Board Member): THE INVISIBLE RACE
  • Rashid Muhammed: ISLAMOPHOBIA: The Muslim experience in the USA
  • Jim Morris (now-retired Catholic Family Center department director): REFUGEE AND IMMIGRATION OBSTACLES
  • Dr. Melody Cofield: LEGACY OF 64
  • James Lawrence (Retired editor of D&C Opinion Page), 2015 Annual Meeting Speaker: “ARE WE WORKING OUR FAITH?”

REGULAR MEETINGS OF TIAR (all Members are welcome)

Executive Committee: 8:30 am, first Tuesday of month at the Golden Fox Restaurant
Board Of Directors: 4:00 5:30pm third Thursday of month at Covenant United Methodist
Church.

Respectfully submitted,
Becky Elwell, President

2014-2015 President’s Report

 ADVOCACY BY THE INTERFAITH ALLIANCE OF ROCHESTER

 

Poverty

TIAR Continues to support the effort in the FIGHT FOR $15.   This program is a National, state and local  effort to raise the wages of fast food workers and hopes to influence wages of other low wage earners to help them earn a living wage. Members have marched, attended wage board meetings  and also supported the effort  by  writing letters to our legislative leaders and members of the Assembly and the Senate.

SANCTUARY VILLAGE a temporary shelter for the homeless was supported by a $100 donation. Members were also encouraged to work with  their faith group to provide food and transportation.

MONROE COUNTY REENTRY PROGRAM we donate personal care items to help people upon release from jail or prison.

Governance

Equality of LGBT, Sent letter to President Obama congratulating him on his initiative to eliminate discrimination for federal worker.  Received letter in return to thank us for our support.

STATE REDISTRICTING Co-Sponsoring an informational meeting with the League of Women Voters to educate the publiC ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ISSUE.   Meeting will be held in the fall.

RAISE THE AGE  Letters were sent to state legislaturers and the Governor in support of raising the age of minors in court from being treated as adults.  Want the age raised to 18 years before the designation of adult is attached.

PREVENT SOLITARY CONFINEMENT President signed petition in TIAR’s name and members were encouraged to sign as an individual.

Co-Sponsor VOTERS ALLIANCE a nonpartisan group, with The League of Women Voters, effort to register voters in local areas where there is low voter  enrollment.  Committee is gearing up  for the Presidential election.. This organization is only active in Presidential election years

Other Issues

ENVIRONMENT

We continue to work on anti-fracking .  State Governor agreed with with governmental study indicating the downside of fracking and banned large scale and banned large scale fracking.  The work continues on banning the activity near water supplies of Syracuse and New York City.  While the ban on fracking has been accomplished we believe there are still items to be addressed for unplanned harmful effects on the environment and we continue to go to meetings and send letters to our legislatures. We also cosponsored event “”New Yorkers Against Fracking” in Albany Environmental justice through Active Nonviolence.

We co sponsored a PASHAMAMA symposium with Nazareth Hickey Center and the  Pashamama Alliance.  Pashamama helping  io providing a venue to promote “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream”

POLITICAL ACTION

FECP, FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES, We co sponsor with the League of Women Voters  We invite local candidates to conduct fair practices as they run for office.  The committee serves as a means where candidates may; register their complaints of unfair practices and serve as a mediator for these complaints.  We are particularly active during the Presidential year of election

HEALTH CARE

We have written letters to our legislature and Governor. for SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE in our continued effort to gain health coverage for our uninsured citensenary.  We also wrote letters to our Federal legislature and President in support of the bills in the congress. Thank you letters were sent Assemblyman Gantt and Bronson.who sponsored the Assembly bill.  President signed letter in support of the CHIP initiative.

RACIAL DIALOGUE

In our effort to educate ourselves to be better attuned to racial bias      MetroJustice  provided Jon Greenbaum and Tracy Farmer to lead our three sessions. to view each of our programs through a “Racial Justice Lens”  Understanding racism as both individual and systemic

IMMIGRATION/MIGRANTS

Letter in support of Mayor of Rochester, Lovely Warren, in her support of migrant children being housed in Rochester due to the lack of areas opening there areas to the children.. Letter in support of President Obama Executive Order in providing safe harbor for the Dreamers.

EDUCATIONAL PRESENTATION FOR BOARD

Speakers

  •  Rev. Lewis Stewart  -POLICE REFORM COALITION
  •  Joyce Herman and Sue Sarapilic - PASHAMAMA
  •   George Payne - GANDHI EARTH; KEEPERS
  •   Jon Greenbaum and Tracey; Farmer - RACIAL DIALOGUE
  •   Verdis La Far Robinson -THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
  •   Emily McNeil - LABOR RELIGION  COALITION

ANNUAL MEETING SPEAKER

JAMES LAWRENCE

MEETINGS TIAR

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE  8;30 AM FIRST TUESDAY OF MONTH                                 GOLDEN FOX RESTAURANT

BOARD - 4;00 5;30  THIRD THURSDAY OF MONTH                               COVENANT UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

THE PRESIDENT’S ANNUAL REPORT—2012-2013

Meetings of The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester (TIAR) Board of Directors are held on the third Thursday of the month, September through May, at the Covenant United Methodist Church on Culver Road near Parsells at 4:00 in the afternoon.

Meetings of the Executive Committee are held on the first Tuesday of the month in the back room of the Golden Fox Restaurant on Culver Road near Parsells at 8:30 in the morning. 

All members are welcome at any of these meetings.   For news of meetings and other events, go to our web site:  www.tia-roch.org.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PAST YEAR

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

  • In response to the controversy regarding the Health and Human Services’ mandate requiring contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act, a subcommittee was formed to study the issue. A report was written and a discussion facilitated by Joyce Herman occurred at the September 20 Board Meeting.

ECONOMIC JUSTICE

  • TIAR cosponsored “Leaves of Compassion” Workshop presented by the Episcopal diocese.
  • TIAR cosponsored an event organized by the Interfaith Forum and the Sisters of St. Joseph featuring David Cay Johnston whose topic was “Economic Justice and the Faith Community”.
  • TIAR supports the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act proposed in the state legislature and a letter was written to Senator Ted O’Brien to cosponsor this legislation in the New York State Senate.  This legislation would provide one day off per week, overtime pay, disability pay when injured on the job, collective bargaining protections, unemployment insurance, child labor protections and occupational safety and health standards.

IMMIGRATION

  • TIAR continues to participate in the Greater Rochester Coalition for Immigration Justice and supports comprehensive immigration. A petition was circulated and signed at the February Board of Directors meeting supporting a path to citizenship, preservation of family unity, legal avenues to enter the United States to work safely with protection of their rights, restoration of due process to our immigration enforcement policies, border policies that are consistent with American Humanitarian Values and effective against illegal migration, and the addressing of root causes of migration.
  • TIAR signed an on-line petition to the “gang of eight Senators” supporting comprehensive immigration reform.  The petition was initiated by New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform and included many of the above points. 
  • TIAR signed an on-line letter to Senator Schumer initiated by the Hebrew Aid Society requesting that refugees, asylum seekers and stateless people be protected in Senate Bill 744, the Comprehensive Immigration Bill.

ENVIRONMENT

  • During the public comment period, TIAR submitted comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the proposed regulations dealing with natural gas drilling. Two areas of concern were addressed: allowance of gas operators to request, as trade secrets, exemptions to disclose specific elements of hydraulic fracturing fluid and the stated setback distance of gas well pads from private water wells and dwellings which did not appear to be adequate.
  • TIAR signed a letter to Governor Cuomo in conjunction with Fracaction and New Yorkers Against Fracking applauding him for committing to confront climate change following Hurricane Sandy and encouraging him to pursue clean energy policies in New York State.
  • TIAR submitted comments to the Department of Environmental Conservation on the proposed Unit Management Plan for Hemlock and Canadice watershed requesting that a statement prohibiting oil and gas drilling activities in the Hemlock-Candice Lakes watershed be written into the Unit Management Plan and that it be designated a Unique Area and a State Nature and Historic Preserve to protect its undeveloped nature.
  • TIAR cosponsored the forum “Hydrofracking As Seen Through the Lens of Public Health” held in May and presented by R-Cause.  TIAR participates in the R-Cause coalition, a local organization whose goal is to educate about the risks associated with slick-water high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

RACISM

  • In December 2012, TIAR cosponsored Human Rights Day organized by the Rochester Human Rights Committee.  The topic was “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”  
  • TIAR cosponsored an event featuring Tim Wise, a prominent anti-racist author, educator and CNN correspondent.  His topic was “Color-Blind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity.”

PEACE AND NONVIOLENCE

  • In an expression of sympathy to the SIKH community regarding the shootings that occurred in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, several Directors attended the Memorial Service held by the SIKH community of Rochester.  Sr. Gratia L’Esperance and Robert Herman both spoke at the service. Condolence letters were sent to both Gurdwaras in the Rochester area.
  • The subcommittee formed to study the United States’ use of drones presented their report to the Board of Directors at the October 18 Board Meeting. It was adopted with the recommendations to authorize the subcommittee to continue to monitor the production and use of drones abroad and home and propose action for the Board to take when and if such action might be called for and to encourage individual members of TIAR to contact their local officials to ask the Obama Administration questions about the lethal use of drones abroad.
  • TIAR cosponsored “Resist Global Wars Drones Empire Event” conference in Syracuse which took place April 26-28.
  • A letter was sent to President Obama, Representative Chris Collins, Representative Louise Slaughter, Senator Charles Schumer, and Senator Kristen Gillibrand advocating gun safety regulation following the shootings of children and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut.

ROCHESTER VOTER ALLIANCE

  • Rochester Voter Alliance (RVA) is a coalition of TIAR, the League of Women Voters, and other groups whose mission is to register, educate, and turn out voters.  During the 2012 campaign season, volunteers registered 3, 259 individuals; of those who were registered 2,299 actually voted—almost 71%.

MONROE COUNTY RE-ENTRY PROGRAM

  • The Board of Directors continued to donate personal care items to people re-entering society from prison.

FAIR ELECTION PRACTICES COMMITTEE

  • During the 2012 campaign season, TIAR again cosponsored and participated in the Fair Election Practices Campaign (FEPC) with the League of Women Voters.  The purpose of the FEPC is to encourage honest and civil debate among candidates.  In addition to the usual review of complaints from candidates in local campaigns, the FEPC for the first time included the Congressional campaign of Maggie Brooks and Louise Slaughter which resulted in a greatly increased number of hearings and findings.  Media coverage was very supportive of the work of the FEPC. 

POVERTY

  • The Board heard a presentation from a representative from Foodlink about their various programs and how they serve the hungry in the area.
  • A subcommittee was formed to determine a focus for dealing with poverty in Rochester. One outcome was a presentation to the Board of Directors from the Eastern Service Workers Association about the impact of the cost of utility rates on poor people.  A petition to the Public Service Commission requesting adjustments and waivers was circulated to the Directors for signing.
  • The Board of Directors heard a presentation from the Director of the Public Defender’s Office.  He stated that there were about two hundred people per year who cannot afford bail and so remain incarcerated at a high cost to themselves, their families and the county. The Public Defender’s Office hopes to establish a not-for-profit bail fund that would provide bail for needy individuals who have to post $100 or $200 bond.
  • Several Directors attended the local “Nuns on the Bus” Poverty tour.  A caravan of vehicles, which included a vehicle with a TIAR sign, traveled to various agencies that work with the poor in Rochester.
  • TIAR continued to cosponsor the Children’s Sabbath, which occurred in October.  The Children’s Sabbath is sponsored by the Children’s Agenda.  It is a time to pray, learn about and act on poverty and other problems facing children in Rochester.

YOUTH

  • TIAR continued to cosponsor and contribute to the Global Citizenship Program presented by the Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue at Nazareth College.  The conference is for high schools students and it is designed to teach tolerance and religious literacy.  Several Directors again participated as volunteers.

Respectfully submitted,
Mary Pizzente-Morich
June 9, 2013