Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ADAPT takes action to city hall to win Community Choice

From Chicago ADAPT and Diana D.

Tuesday, July 21 a group of 30 Chicago ADAPT-ers marched into Mayor Daley’s office and got their demands met, making the action extremely successful. Chicago was one of 25 cities putting pressure across the country on the Democratic National Committee in DC. What did ADAPT demand?

* City Hall to fax a letter urging the DNC to support the Community Choice Act in any health care reform purposed by the Obama administration
* A phone call to be made to Valerie Jarrett, the Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison, to urge her to help develop a plan to pass the Community Choice Act, and
* A meeting to be set up with Chicago ADAPT and Mayor Daley to discuss an implantation plan for the Community Choice Act in Illinois

How did this happen?


Last week, a small group of active citizens got together at Access Living to talk about targets. It was known that several cities throughout the country were going to be taking action to push the Community Choice Act in the Democratic National Committee and to protest the institutional bias that has been so pervasive in health care policy. We talked about how many people Chicago could potentially gather, and then who or where we should target our efforts to make the most impact. Mayor Daley was the most strategic target since he is a powerful player in the Democratic Party. We also knew that his office is in City Hall, which has an open door policy, so getting people in wouldn’t be a huge issue. Kept mostly a secret, word was spread to members of ADAPT to get them committed to going.

The Day Of

11:00am- people start trickling in at the Thompson Center food court, socializing, eating

11:30am- security is getting worried as to why there are so many people in wheelchairs congregating in the food court. Smiles and reassurance are given and he leaves us alone.

12:00pm- Amber is in contact with National ADAPT, waiting for them to be in position so that all

24 other cities can begin to march in solidarity to their respective targets

12:20pm- March begins to City Hall

12:30pm- Get into City Hall, organize people in small groups to get up the elevators to the 5th floor where Daley’s office is

12:40pm- first two groups make it into office before the security tries to kick us out. Our people explain that there is plenty of room, that they are citizens therefore it is their office, too and they don’t need to leave. Security is baffled, appears frantic and is clearly annoyed.

12:45pm- the rest of the group has come but is being blocked from entrance into the office by security. They wait directly outside. Amber positions herself right at the doorway to act as liaison between the people inside and outside of the office and to keep everyone posted of the national action happening simultaneously.

12:46pm- Lance, the Mayor’s press secretary comes out to see what is going on and how he can ‘help us.’ He tries to get us to leave the office, but sees we are resistant to that idea.

12:50pm- Monica and Larry are appointed as the spokespeople. All security and office requests and questions will be made through these two people.

1:00pm- After a few tries, Lance figured out that he needed to speak directly to Monica and Larry. From them, he is handed our list of demands. Lance says that he will try to help us, but he needs 24 hours to do so. Monica regrets to inform him that we’re not leaving until the demands are met.

1:15pm- A ‘tentative’ meeting the following Wednesday is set up with ADAPT and Mayor Daley. No time is given, and so Monica checks with the group and consensus is given that Wednesday is too late, that we need a meeting with Mayor Daley and it needs to happen soon.

1:30pm- After several failed attempts to make us go away, Lance becomes flustered and agrees to fax the letter we have drafted to the DNC. His condition is that if he faxes the letter, we will move out of the office and give him 24 hours to meet our other demands.

1:45pm- More staff people, including Karen Tamley, the Director of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities come out to try and talk to us to see if they can help

2:00pm- Lance brings us the fax confirmation sheet! Demand one is met! GO ADAPT! At this point, we explain to Lance that we need him to get Daley to Call Jarrett in DC. This does not make Lance happy. He tries to defend himself, saying that asking for 24 hours is reasonable and that he can’t possibly get a phone call in to the DNC. ADAPT doesn’t buy that, as a phone call only takes a few minutes. We stay.

2:15pm- people start getting hungry. Luckily Larry brought cookies to pass out. The community choice song is pleasantly being sung from the people outside of the office

2:30pm- In need of an energy boost, ADAPT starts chanting in the office: “OUR HOMES! NOT NURSING HOMES!” At this point, Lance comes out and said that he would try to get someone to call the DNC. We are reminded that this is a place of business, and we need to respect that. We rebut that we are here for business. We are the business!

3:00pm- Mayor Daley isn’t answering any of the attempts to get into contact with him. Lance calls the DNC personally on behalf of the office. Demand 2 is met!

3:30pm- ADAPT-ers are hanging in there, and the office realizes we won’t leave until we get our meeting solidified. We are given the meeting date in more concreteness for the following Wednesday. Demand 3 met!

All in all, in just a few hours we got City Hall to fax our demands to the Democratic National Committee, we got a personal phone call from Mayor Daley’s press secretary directly to Valerie Jarrett and we have a follow-up meeting set with the Mayor to continue pushing for the Community Choice Act.

While bureaucracy and status quo would have had us sitting idly at our desks, making phone calls and being given the run-around in pushing an issue that is supported by the Mayor, this protest and action lead to direct results. This is what can happen in a few hours of solidarity. We got the office to drop what they were doing, pay attention to our voices and take action to help us in health care reform that helps to FREE OUR PEOPLE.

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