FLASHBACK: Homeless Portlanders Testify to County Commission

In 2016, as part of our Homeless and Low-Income Political Empowerment Pilot Program, we worked with and empowered three homeless residents of downtown Portland, Oregon, to participate in the democratic process.

In addition to holding workshops, lunches, and other discussions with our participants, SMART ALEC provided transportation, breakfast, and small stipends to remove barriers to participation so that people experiencing homelessness could have a voice on two proposals for shelters that were pending before the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners.

In a second round of comments before Multnomah County, our participants addressed the overall impact of sleep deprivation that results from police harassment, criminalization, and being woken up in the middle of the night while sleeping in public places.


(SMART ALEC) ATLANTA, Georgia — State and local governments ought to immediately consider and adopt legislation adopting a climate emergency as a predicate to substantive action to prevent, reduce, and mitigate climate change.

Photo credit to “Takver” by way of Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/takver/14585028212/in/photostream/

SMART ALEC recommends adoption of this resolution in conjunction with the creation of an appropriate legislative committee, where necessary, to address climate change and other emergency environmental issues.

Cities across the country have already begun adopting climate change emergency resolutions, in a flurry of activity.  Hoboken, New Jersey, became the first in the U.S. and third in the world, according to the Climate Emergency Declaration organization, which has been promoting this work.

New York City adopted such a resolution on June 26, 2019.


Almost nine hundred local governments in some eighteen countries have adopted climate emergency resolutions, according to Climate Emergency Declaration.

In an appropriate race to the top, cities are looking to take action above and beyond what is required at the state and federal levels; and states are looking to take action above and beyond what is required at the federal level in legislation such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

State and local governments have the authority, per the police power doctrine in common law, to address the health, safety, and welfare of their residents, as long as they have not been preempted by a higher level of government law.

This Model Ordinance contains three parts.  Part one references the local governments’ authority to act pursuant to health, safety, and welfare.  Part Two utilizing some of the New York resolution’s whereas clauses speaking to national and international studies, providing data-driven justification for the declaration.  Part Three adds an example of clauses speaking to climate change’s local impacts, which can be tailored for each jurisdiction..






WHEREAS, it is incumbent upon the City / County / State of __________________ to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its residents; and

WHEREAS, climate change is an emergency that has the potential to devastate our very civilization; and 



WHEREAS, on October 8, 2018, the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) released a special report, which projected that limiting warming to the 1.5°C target this century will require an unprecedented transformation of every sector of the global economy over the next twelve years; and

WHEREAS, on November 23, 2018, the United States Fourth National Climate Assessment (“NCA4”) was released and details the massive threat that climate change poses to the American economy, our environment and climate stability, and underscores the need for immediate action to address a climate emergency at all levels of government; and

WHEREAS, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), global temperatures in 2018 were .83°C (1.5°F) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, and the past five years are collectively the warmest in modern history; and


[PART THREE: LOCAL DATA – Here drafters should include information that is unique or specific to climate change’s impact on your jurisdiction.  This draft uses information regarding Atlanta from the recent testimony by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to the U.S. Senate on climate change.]

WHEREAS, Atlanta’s inland geography is a major factor that contributes to unique climate circumstances in our city; and

WHEREAS, Atlanta ranks third nationally for increases in the Urban Heat Island effect; and

WHEREAS, if current trends continue, Georgia is projected to see an increase in dangerous heat days from twenty days a year today, to more than ninety per year by the year 2050; and 

WHEREAS, by that time, 2050, the average high summertime temperature in Atlanta is projected to be 92.6 degrees, a jump of 4.1 degrees; and

WHEREAS, that increase in temperature will lead to the increased frequency of weather extremes, and make drought and extreme wet weather more frequent and longer-lasting; and

WHEREAS, hurricanes and sea level rise in coastal regions of the Southeast are likely to create climate refugees, who seek rapid resettlement in Atlanta, as we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,



Section 1:

That the ________________ joins cities, states, and nations across the world in declaring a Climate Emergency that is global in scope and that has the potential to severely negatively impact the people of ___________________.

Section 2:

That all ordinances and resolutions in conflict herewith are hereby waived to the extent of the conflict.

Section 3:

That the provisions of Sections 1 and 2 take effect immediately upon this resolution becoming law.


VIDEO: Clarkston Housing Inventory and Affordable Housing Strategy

CLARKSTON, Georgia — After months of community engagement, stakeholder input, and research and education, on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, we presented our Clarkston Affordable Housing Strategy, to the Clarkston City Council at their Work Session.

The Housing Strategy includes our signature report, the Clarkston Affordable Housing Inventory, which provides a data-driven estimate for the total amount of housing available in Clarkston for each housing type and at each level of affordability.  Few jurisdictions have such a resource available to them; most jurisdictions have to rely on incomplete U.S. Census data or incomplete market studies, to understand their own housing stock.

After hundreds of hours of research, community engagement, and drafting by SMART ALEC, I had the pleasure of presenting the City of Clarkston Affordable Housing Strategy. Thank you to my colleagues Sherise Brown Dwanda Farmer for all your work on this project.

Posted by Matthew Charles Cardinale on Tuesday, October 30, 2018


FLASHBACK: Our lovely response to ALEC’s cease and desist letter

In June 2016, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) had sent us a cease and desist letter, arguing that our existence as SMART ALEC was a trademark infringement.  We disagreed that it was a trademark infringement for several reasons.

On June 29, 2016, the date that we were supposed to cease and desist, SMART ALEC Board Member, Dr. Dwanda Farmer traveled to Washington, D.C., from her home in Baltimore, to deliver a bouquet of yellow roses to the offices of ALEC’s attorneys, with a card that said, “Thank you for acknowledging us.  Signed, the SMART ALEC’s.”  And the yellow dress was classic!

In progress: Our newly re-designed website…

Hello, world!  We are back on the Internet!

Thank you for continuing to connect with us on Facebook, via phone, and email in the meantime.

Our website was attacked and we had to take it down.  We are currently in the process of re-designing this website from scratch!

In the last two and a half years, we have been extremely productive carrying out our work in the community.  There’s a lot to catch up about and to share.

Our goal is to make this site a resource to house model progressive ordinances for cities, counties, and states, focusing on democratic participation, the environment, and affordable housing.

Stay tuned to this website for a lot of new tools, resources, and information coming soon!