save the dc office of apia affairs

This is for all of you in Washington, DC... I saw this posted on the AA-Fund Blog: Take Action: Save the DC Office of APIA Affairs. Basically, Mayor Fenty's 2010 budget proposal completely eliminates the DC Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (OAPIA), and they need your help to save it. Here's the letter that's been circulating:
Dear DC AAPI Caucus,

If you have not heard already, we have incredibly disappointing news regarding the DC Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (OAPIA). In Mayor Fenty's 2010 budget proposal, the office will be eliminated completely with the budget zeroed out. The office's services will be transferred within the Office of Community Affairs and at least 60% of the current OAPIA staff will be eliminated.

It is outrageous that the Mayor would decide to eliminate OAPIA, which has been in existence for over 20 years, currently serving over 20,000 API residents in the District. This office was implemented due to the needs of the DC API community over the past two decades and many API leaders fought hard to create and sustain this office. In addition, this is the only ethnic minority office that the Mayor has decided to cut.

This issue is now in the hands of the City Council. The budget hearing is set for April 24th. We are asking everyone to contact their City Council members and asking them to:

* Reinstate the Office of Asian Pacific Islander Affairs and maintain the office as an independent agency with its own budget chapter and cabinet-level position within the Mayor's Office; and
* Maintain the office as the District's point of contact for the API community.

Currently, other API leaders in DC have been working hard to meet with Councilmembers and reaching out to key people (other constituency organizations, national leaders, Commission on API Affairs, and the DC Democratic State Committee). We will circulate sample petition letters and postcards ASAP.

Every member of the AAPI Caucus should:
1) Contact Councilmembers. Please reach out to your Councilmember by letter, phone and/or requesting a meeting, and reach out to any Councilmember with whom you have a relationship with. Please let us know if you secure a meeting with a Councilmember, and who you contact. We want to keep track so we can make sure we reach out to all Councilmembers. Key Councilmembers: Vincent Gray (Chairperson), Yvette Alexander (Chair of the Committee of jurisdiction), and other committee members of jurisdiction Mary Cheh, Michael Browne, Jim Graham, Harry Thomas, Jr. However, we do want to reach out to ALL Councilmembers.
2) Reach out to allies to help advocate for this effort. Ask key national and/or local leaders to write a letter in support of the office, or contact city council members.
3) Press outreach. If you have any contacts to media outlets, such as WaPo, please let us know. A number of people are already reaching out to contacts they have, but if you know of any journalists who would be interested in writing about this, please reach out to her/him.
4) Prepare a testimony for the council hearing on April 24th. Let me know if you would be available to testify before council for OAPIA.

We only have a few weeks to get the word out, so if you have any other ideas, please let us know. Mayor Fenty explained in the council hearing that he's eliminating OAPIA, but not the Office of Latino Affairs or other offices such as African Affairs and LGBT because they have a "different" function. While we do not understand what he meant by this, we do not want to give the impression that the Asian community will not put up a fight to ensure equal footing with the other offices. Let's make sure our voices are heard and our community is served, and we prevent this from happening!

We will keep you posted as things develop. Please contact Wylie at dcaapidems@gmail.com if you have any questions or would like to help.

- Caroline
According to Mayor Fenty, he's eliminating OAPIA, but not the Office of Latino Affairs or other offices such as African Affairs and LGBT because they have a "different" function -- whatever that means. How can it go down like this? Do not let this happen without a fight! But time is running short, and there's only a few weeks to get the word out. For more information, go here.

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