On Monday, Portland City Council passed a budget
for the City that included a compromise deal on the closure of the India Street Public Health Clinic. SMWC was among
the organizations involved in efforts lead primarily by current and former patients and clinic volunteers to Save India Street
At a march and rally in support of India Street on April 30th
, Mark James, a member of our Health Care is a Human Right
Committee asked this question to City Manager Jon Jennings:
After a powerful intervention by India Street patients, volunteers, and the larger Portland community, City Council backed off some of the plan to shut down the clinic, but not all of it and not permanently. While the organizing to save India Street should be celebrated, it’s not really appropriate to call this compromise a victory. The amendments also continue the transfer Positive Health Care patients to the Portland Community Health Clinic, despite moving testimony from patients about the harm this will cause. The needle exchange and free clinic may only remain open through 2017.
Budgets are political. They make transparent values and ideology about the role and priority of government. The budget that was put before City Council this year was not about balancing numbers, but about shifting priorities. These ideological
priorities put city sidewalks over the health and wellbeing of folks like Mark.
We believe that budgets can actually put the needs of everyday folks first. In a more than 200 million dollar budget there a plenty of ways to make the numbers add up--that might mean less street renovations or fewer tax breaks to developers, it is just a matter of priorities.
The good news is that this budget has brought new people and organizations with shared values together. And we’ve learned that there are a many folks who also believe that budgets can and should take care of the human rights of all residents. Let’s make being organized the win and continue to work to make Portland and Maine a community that works for all of us.
The HCHR Committee
P.S. We’re hiring! SMWC is looking for a part time (20 hour a week) organizer for our Health Care is a Human Right campaign
. At SMWC we believe that a health care system treated as a public good and based on the human rights principles is a fundamental step toward economic and racial justice in our communities. We’re organizing a grassroots movement in Maine to change health care discourse and policy. Our health care organizer will help us build a strong SMWC membership and a powerful coalition to make health care a human right in Maine. Details about the position are available here
To apply send a cover letter and resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for applications is June 6, 2016. We are aiming for a July 18th start date for the position.