Rev. Dr. Leon Finney, Jr Leads Chicago Grassroots Political Convention April 30

Grassroots Convention to Send "Strong Message" to Political, Business & Civic Leaders in Illinois
Neighborhoods United for Economic Change Wants "Transition Plan"
in Chicago's new political climate
Upset about the quality of neighborhood schools, mounting fiscal debt
and stalled job creation, over a thousand people are expected to convene
this weekend to fight against what many believe to be a "rising tide of indifference," toward the needs of working-class and poor people in Chicago.   On Saturday, April 30 at 12 p.m.,
a broad cross-section of tax payers will meet under the banner of
Neighborhoods United for Economic Change for a grassroots, advocacy
convention at the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church, 4100 S. King Drive.

Doors to the convention open at 9:00 a.m. and registration begins promptly at 10:30 p.m.
The citywide event is free and open to the public, however only those
who have registered as neighborhood delegates will have voice and vote
on amendments in the plan.  Limited transportation will be provided for
seniors and the disabled. Lunch will be provided.

will represent many of the city's communities of color with special
emphasis on those who live in economically distressed areas. According
to organizers, the goal of the convention is to launch an integrated,
grassroots movement of concerned taxpayers who will adopt a transition
plan to be delivered to elected officials and leaders in the business,
civic and faith communities in order to strengthen their communities.

The kick-off of this grassroots movement could be the first of many organizing efforts to inform Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel's administration and the new City Council of neighborhood public policy concerns.
Organizers have said while the meeting is more of an exercise in civic
and business advocacy, the political education overtones cannot be
overlooked. It isn't enough for elected officials to simply identify
fiscal problems, they, along with community stakeholders, must also
develop comprehensive plans to fix them. In addition, people are also
focusing on how lawmakers carve up the state to define Illinois House
and Senate districts as legislators move forward with the 2011 remap
process. It was the 2001 remap process that led to the ascension of Emil Jones to the Illinois State Senate presidency foreshadowing the critical role he played in the election of President Barak Obama to the U.S. Senate in 2004.     

the last three years we have experienced change at a phenomenal rate,"
said Rev. Dr. Leon D. Finney, Jr., organizer and president of the
Woodlawn Community Development Corporation. "We have a new president, a new governor, a new county board president, a new mayor and a new city council, yet each

is challenged with addressing the old problems which continue to plague
our families and neighborhoods. What do we expect in a season of change
and how do we go about getting it?

"In places like Englewood and Woodlawn the unemployment rate
is over 30 percent and youth unemployment topples 89 percent," Dr.
Finney continued. "What is the recovery plan for those with the least
resources? When families are vulnerable, neighborhoods become
vulnerable. Where are the safety nets for taxpayers with limited income
and  maximum debt and personal responsibility? 
When we asked for change, we didn't define it. Now is that time. We need
a transition plan."

During the convention delegates will hear testimony from community leaders, public policy experts
and advocates and then vote on amendments and referendums to be
included in a policy agenda.   At the conclusion of the rally, the group
will have developed a "transition plan" to be presented to elected
officials throughout Illinois and the White House before the 2012 elections.

cannot balance a $14 billion deficit on the backs of tax payers who are
poor and middle class. This process ensures that every voice is heard,"
Dr. Finney explained. "At the end delegates will have a working agenda
that identifies goals, targets and timetables and a process to put their
concerns into the hands of those elected and charged to lead us."

Finney is one of the nation's top community organizers having started
in the 1960s under the banner of The Woodlawn Organization (TWO).  Over
the past four decades,  he has organized tens of thousands of people
across the U.S. how to fight unfair housing and labor practices and
taught scores of neighborhood organizations how to build strong
coalitions and launch clearly-defined advocacy campaigns.

United For Economic Change is supported by the Woodlawn Community
Development Corporation, a not-for-profit property management
organization specializing in servicing public housing and low and
mix-income communities. For more information call (773) 924-1601.



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