Natalie Elected as DNC Bernie Delegate

I am honored and humbled to represent Bernie Sanders alongside Alderwoman Megan Green at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia!  Tonight’s election proved that smart people with good hearts and cheap technology can defeat archaic institutions.  Thanks to everyone who came out to elect the right people!


Photo by Jason Rosenbaum, originally posted here:
http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/trail-tying-loose-ends-missouris-congressional-caucuses#stream/0

Saving Mr. Fisher’s House

Natalie and the Project Raise The Roof team have been advocating for Mr. Fisher, a Navy Veteran who has fallen on hard times and recently lost his home to the Sheriff’s auction for back taxes.  We’re happy to announce the St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority has agreed to accept the money we raised allow Mr. Fisher to keep his home of 35 years.

More on this story from St. Louis Magazine.

 

SAB Seeks Disastrous Property Tax Increase

On April 5th, 2016, St. Louis citizens will have the chance to vote on a property tax increase.  The tax increase was proposed by the  St. Louis Public School District’s Special Administrative Board, and filed with the Board of Election Commissioners—without consulting the Elected School Board members.  As of today, the full ballot language was still unavailable from the Board of Elections website, and a phone call confirmed that the election was “too far away” for any further information to be made public.  (UPDATE: Full ballot language is still not published on the Board of Elections website, but IT CAN BE READ HERE.  It will be called “Proposition 1” and is going to ballot as-is, with NO clause to account for low income homeowners or low-value properties.)

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As an across-the-board property tax increase, this will backfire.  It will only serve to push low income homeowners into the danger zone of tax auction forfeiture, and further devour our already-dwindling population.   The Post-Dispatch article states, “the 75-cent tax increase would raise property taxes an additional $142.50 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home”.  While $142 may be a mere inconvenience to St. Louis’s more affluent homeowners, amounts as small as $25 are already dire straits for the poor.  Current property tax rates are already forcing homeowners in our poorest neighborhoods—those who rely most on our public schools—into delinquency, and they face the very real risk of losing their homes.  Low income families (or houses appraised at under $35,000) should be exempt from this real estate tax increase.  Otherwise, what seems like a reasonable goal will be fraught with unintended consequences.

Numerous studies have shown that kids with stable home environments—those who don’t move around from house to house or school to school—perform higher not just on standardized tests, but are overall better learners in class.  Education is important, but not when comes at the cost of a family losing their fully-paid-off home and becoming perpetually transient.
The SAB is out of control and out of touch.  Please join me in asking the Special Administrative Board to reconsider this by calling them 314-345-2230.  If they don’t listen, please vote NO on Proposition 1 when you cast your ballot on April 5th.  Voting NO does not mean you don’t support education. Voting NO means you oppose perpetuating cyclical poverty in St. Louis.

Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

Read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article here:
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/st-louis-school-officials-go-for-a-property-tax-increase/article_b9d64be3-4d77-57cb-bb66-98ad3b6debf4.html

Hop On The Social Justice Bus!

Yesterday, I attended an outdoor industrial vehicle/heavy equipment auction in rural Missouri with my husband, who was looking to purchase a work truck.  When we arrived at the auction lot, a school bus caught my eye…and my mind ran wild with all kinds of grand community-oriented uses for it.

None of the guys on the lot were able to get the bus’s engine to turn over.  So I called my grandmother, who has owned several school buses over the years, to ask for advice.  Over the phone, Nanny gave me a couple tricks to try, and it started right up.  (That’s right, a sweet little old lady knew how to do what none of the men at the auction could figure out.  But let’s not gloat too much about Girl Power here, ladies.)  I placed a bid, and no other bidders—believing this big yellow junk heap would never run—offered any competition.

For $1,200 (even less than I’ve paid for any regular car I’ve ever purchased), I became the owner of a 1994 International school bus with only 100K miles on it!  I could get people to the polls, use it as a mobile campaign headquarters for voter registration, or take even more people with me on trips to Jefferson City to meet their legislators.  The possibilities are endless.  I’m ecstatic, and can’t wait for you all to hop on the bus with me as we drive St. Louis forward!


This was the sign I held at the Ferguson protests.  What better place for it than on the Social Justice Bus?

 


Prepare for takeoff!  The Social Justice Bus was driven to its state inspection appointment by educator, licensed CDL driver, and fellow female Progressive—my friend Sarah.



First mission accomplished!  Can’t wait for more activism with this big, beautiful, yellow bargain on wheels…  Stay tuned! 

School Board Candidate Forum

This evening, the AFT Local 420 and the League of Women Voters hosted a forum for School Board Candidates at Carr Lane Visual Performing Arts Middle School.  It was a pleasure answering voters’ questions.  These events are essential to informing and empowering citizens to choose the right candidates.

“The problem with our schools is not just policies or test scores.  The root of our problems runs much deeper, and that is what we must work to heal.  I’m on the front lines of poverty and education issues every day.  Whether I’m knee-deep in vacant northside buildings, removing dead animals and debris to help a low-income family become homeowners, or loading unwanted electronics onto a truck and building recycled computers for kids who lack technology access, I do whatever it takes.  I never quit.  I’m available 24 hours per day.  I want to bring my passion and energy for these issues to elected office to empower our youth and parents in poverty.  I encourage you all to get to know me one-on-one.  I’m a full-time volunteer, eager to take your calls–day or night.  Thank you for having me, and I hope I have earned your vote this evening.”
– Natalie A. Vowell (Closing Statement)

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forumThank you to all who helped organize this event and everyone who attended.

forum 2A very special thanks to C-Sharp and the
#VoteVowell team members who came out to support me!

Photos courtesy of Will Leeway.

Twitter snagThanks also to Jacob McDaniel for the realtime Twitter coverage.

You may read the STL Today article here:
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/candidates-for-st-louis-school-board-discuss-how-to-make/article_d4747e0a-6a2e-5efa-850b-e2f805aae4a8.html

School Board, NOT School Board-Ups!

Neglectful “upkeep” of these vacant buildings is diverting funding from our operating schools. If we are unable to keep City schools open, we should allow local citizens to repurpose them as community centers, family crisis shelters, food pantries, or other neighborhood service providers.  ‪#‎VoteVowell‬ on April 7!

vacant schools

http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/local/2015/02/12/dozens-of-vacant-school-buildings-up-for-sale/23274227/

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Announcing Natalie’s Run for St. Louis City Board of Education

St. Louis Public Schools deserve full accreditation.  We are ready to get special interests out of our City schools, address the “performance” issues of children living in poverty, advocate good pay and benefits for good teachers in public schools, and encourage only the charter schools who actually deliver on their promises to educate our students from low-income families.

SchoolBoard

You may feel free to print the above window sign to show your support for Natalie, or contact us and we’ll deliver one to you!

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A Bunch Of Anarchists

This evening, at the behest of my former neighbors (a couple of “crazy anarchists”), I attended a benefit for Food Not Bombs.  This community of activists provides food, seasonal clothing, and social awareness literature, and safe sex supplies–absolutely free of charge, and no questions asked.

I like social programs.  I like that our government provides essential services to those in need.  While I tend to disagree with most anarchists on a lot of issues, I have to commend this group of “anti-establishment weirdos” who are also providing much needed goods to people directly through donations.

Before Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s implementation of New Deal programs, mutual aid societies already existed, and nearly 30% of adults were members of one.  The value in a mutual aid society is that today’s donor may be tomorrow’s recipient, or vice versa.

In general, I don’t support anarchist idealism…but I do support anyone  who cares enough about our community to get involved.

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
 — Ralph Waldo Emerson

To donate items, volunteer, or refer anyone in need, please check out Food Not Bombs STL on Facebook.

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Marijuana Decriminalization In Missouri: Up For Debate

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a debate between Mr. John W. Payne (Executive Director, Show-Me Cannabis) and Sgt. Jason Grellner (President, Missouri Narcotics Officers’ Association) on whether marijuana should be legalized in the state of Missouri.
While I have been somewhat “on the fence” about taking an official stance on this issue (there are pro’s and cons to both sides of the argument), I am glad I was able to be present for this event.  Mr. Payne’s work with Show-Me Cannabis presented a very strong, evidence-based, socio-eceonomic and scientific case for the legalization of marijuana.
Show-Me Cannabis’s polling statistics show that roughly half of Missourians are in favor of marijuana legalization, and both Payne’s and Grellner’s data points indicate that there is a clear need for Missouri voters and legislators to seriously consider the issue and open it for further discussion.
I commend the St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s effort earlier this summer to serve the will of City residents by passing an ordinance which decriminalized marijuana in St. Louis.

A link to the debate coverage on Fox2 News is included below.  As someone interested in representing the residents of all of the 78th District, I’m eager to hear your thoughts…

http://fox2now.com/2013/12/18/battle-over-legalizing-marijuana-squares-off-in-public-debate/

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