This Campaign, Summarized
This campaign is to support an impact litigation case brought against the City of San Francisco to ensure that all deserving community organizations have a fair chance to receive public grants for pursuing the arts. This case will enforce government transparency laws in awarding public grants for the arts.
Without someone to stand up for the interests of local artists, we risk losing the great value that art adds to our society. President John F. Kennedy said, "If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him." Without a fair chance at receiving funding, local low-income artists will not be free to follow their vision.
Bayview/Hunters Point Community Legal is a grassroots-based legal aid nonprofit that aims to solve injustice by ensuring that everyone can get legal representation on any viable claim, despite their income. We focus on the highest need neighborhood of San Francisco and provide full-scope representation to low-income members of the community in almost any practice area. We also take on a small number of public interest cases to benefit and empower of the community at large. In the last year we have successfully:
- Closed over 245 cases. 71% of our clients earn less than $15,000 per year.
- Cancelled or proved fraudulent over $52,000 in debt for our clients.
- Acquired over $46,000 in damages and lost income.
- Prevented 14 evictions and acquired housing for 2 people who were being illegally discriminated against.
The vast majority of our funding comes from private individuals. We are also funded by the San Francisco Foundation, City Church San Francisco,and we receive extensive in-kind support from the Salvation Army. Campaigns like this are the only way we can fund large-scope cases and prevent injustice against the entire Bayview/Hunters Point community.
In Fall 2013, the Bayview/Hunters Point Arts Council asked us to investigate grants the San Francisco Arts Commission had recently awarded to various community organizations. We performed an exhaustive investigation of thousands of documents and although the Arts Commission has done a lot of good work in our city, we concluded that they violated open government laws when awarding these grants. Essentially, they created a panel to review the submissions and only invited those who would eventually be awarded the grant to the discussion. The panel was closed to everyone else. In other words, only those organizations and individuals the Arts Commission invited to the meeting received first-hand insight into the selection process and had the opportunity to meet the panelists. This not only violates the San Francisco Sunshine Act and the Brown Act, but it is also just plain unfair to the other applicants.
It should come as no surprise that these select applicants were eventually awarded the grants. Although, the Arts Commission later held “open meetings” to select grantees, these meetings merely rubber-stamped the decisions made during the first, closed meeting.
What We Need.
We can litigate this case for a mere $4,250. Here's where the money will go:
- $3,500 will go toward labor costs. We keep labor costs low by heavily utilizing volunteer attorneys.
- $850 will go toward court filing fees, mailing fees, and discovery costs.
- $150 will go toward necessary office supplies such as paper, tabs, & toner.
- Any money raised over our goal will support our general fund to fund direct legal services and other operational costs.
What You Get.
We deeply value our contributors and are building an amazing network of people who care about access to civil justice. By supporting this case, you are ensuring that government is open and transparent. You are also supporting community-based art, which is becoming less and less common in San Francisco. Finally, you are ensuring that we can continue to bring public interest cases like this in the future.
Risks & Challenges.
Every case has a risk of failure and this one is no different. We cannot promise a particular outcome. We may have overlooked important law or we may discover new facts during the course of the case. You as a donor are also not allowed to control our legal strategy in this case. However, we feel confident that we can successfully litigate this case:
- Right now, we are successfully practicing in over 35 subject areas, including administrative law, landlord-tenant law, torts law, and family law.
- To date, we have only lost 5% of our cases.
- We have an excellent network of experts in civil procedure and administrative law who are assisting with informal advice on the case.
The terms of your donation are governed by California law.
Other Ways You Can Help.
If you can't contribute, you can still get involved!