I attended the local swearing in of State Representative Mike Foley. The Coalition shares some space with the Tenants Organization so it was natural for our two staffs to work collaboratively over the last few years. It was nice to see a friend move into a dream job. I am so glad that I attended first to see Bill Callahan, the grandfather of local blogs; then there were the elected friends of CTO present: Mayor Jackson, Phyllis Cleveland, Judge Corrigan and now Foley, which moves CTO up on the list of powerful non-profits in the City of Cleveland. The second reason was to hear the oath Mike and the other State Reps pledge before taking office.
"I (name of state representative) do solemnly swear to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Ohio, and faithfully to discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives according to the best of my ability and understanding; and do this as I shall answer to God."Mike did add "and to the people" at the end, but this was just his gesture to populism and not contained in the official oath. I have worked at the Coalition for 11 years, and I had no idea that these guys swear to be answerable exclusively to GOD!!!! This changes everything regarding our advocacy tactics. Things are going to be a lot different now that I know these guys are directly responsible to God and not the people. I have always approached my job from the social justice perspective and the negative effects of homelessness on the health and welfare of their citizens. It turns out that the State Representatives take their oath seriously and so our "protecting the less fortunate" was a very bad strategy. It seems so naive and pollyanish now that I realize the power of the oath.
The Coalition will now reform our tactics. We will now reference God in everything that we do. "Would Jesus want you to ignore predatory sharks ripping off seniors and poor people for 10 years?" I will start carrying around a copy of the Beatitudes to distribute. I will adopt a "Fire and Brimstone" approach to my advocacy. "Jesus has said that how you, Mr. Speaker, treat the least among us is how you treat him. I know that cutting access to dental care for poor people will damn you to eternal torment and torture in HELL!!" It is no wonder why faux preachers like Rod Parsley have so much success in the hallowed halls of the State House.
I feel like I found the Holy Grail, by stumbling on the oath of office. Also, that I wasted the last 10 years. Look for a whole new direction for the old Coalition for the Homeless and new Congregation for the Homeless.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.