Sacramento City Council Votes For Withdrawal From Iraq

Council Member Ray Tretheway, a Vietnam veteran, emotionally reflected on his experiences as a returning serviceman before the vote. "It was a dark and difficult time for me as a returning solider," said Tretheway. "I hope that this time we can say welcome home to our troops sooner than later. I look forward to supporting the troops by bringing them home."

George Main, president of the Sacramento Chapter of Veterans for Peace, summed up the feelings of the huge crowd that attended to support the resolution. "While we do support all the many sacrifices the troops have made, we do not support sacrificing any more of our troops," Main said.

Council Members Tretheway and Lauren Hammond sponsored the resolution. The great turnout for the meeting and the massive support for the measure was the result of an unprecedented organizing campaign by the Sacramento Coalition to End the War, including Sacramento Area Peace Action, Veterans for Peace, the Mexican American Political Association, Chicano Consortium, Central America Action Committee, PDA, Sacramento for Democracy National Council of Arab Americans (Sacramento), Sacramento Community Forum and many other organizations.

According to Mayor Heather Fargo, 109 people filled out speaker cards supporting the resolution while only one person, Dave Jenest of "Patriot Watch," opposed the resolution. Over the weeks before the vote, Fargo said she had received 527 letters or phone calls for the resolution and only 19 in opposition.

"It’s time to take action," said Fargo before the vote. "In a democracy, it is very important to express yourself when the government is wrong. It is clear that there is a growing concern among residents of our city to develop a humane, orderly and appropriate withdrawal from Iraq."

Speakers focused on the costs of the war to the City of Sacramento. Past Mayor Ann Rudin said to the Council, "It is cities like Sacramento that will bear the social and economic costs of the war. It is your responsibility to join cities expressing themselves to encourage Congress and the President to do the right thing – and withdraw from the war in Iraq."

The cost of the war to Sacramento residents is enormous, costing them a total of $246 million per year, according to Karen Bernal of Sacramento For Democracy.

Lauren Hammond said that the resolution was the best way of expressing "support for the troops." She said the government’s late and negligent response to Hurricane Katrina exposed how rescuing disaster victims was a much more important thing to spend our federal tax dollars on than incurring more debt in the Iraq war.

"We have introduced the resolution because we love our troops," Hammond explained. "This is a non-binding resolution. However, non binding resolutions have changed history like in the case of South Africa, where Congress voted against apartheid only after enough cities had said no to apartheid."

Mayor Fargo and Council Members Tretheway, Hammond, Sandy Sheedy, Steve Cohn, Robert Fong, Kevin McCarty and Bonnie J. Pannell voted for the resolution. Only Robbie Waters voted against it.

Unfortunately, Move America Forward (MAF), an organization that slavishly supports Bush’s war in Iraq, and right wing radio talk show hosts Mark Williams (KFBK Sacramento) and Melanie Morgan (KSFO San Francisco) organized a vicious campaign against the Council the day after the meeting, calling for the Council to rescind the resolution and to resign.

Williams and Morgan charged Fargo, Tretheway and Hammond with "supporting the insurgency." As a consequence, the Mayor and City Council received hate mail and death threats, including a threat of beheading.

MAF claimed the resolution "undermines the mission our troops are serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom" in an action alert on their website. The right-wingers also started a radio ad campaign against the Council’s vote the week of November 7.

A big thanks goes out to Tretheway and Hammond for taking the leadership role on the city council for getting this resolution passed – and to standing up to the hate mail campaign by the far right. I also applaud the large number of activists that packed the city council chambers in support of the resolution. It makes me proud to be a member of the progressive community of Sacramento!


Dan Bacher is a journalist and satirical song writer from Sacramento, California. He is editor of the Central America Connection and contributes to numerous publications and websites, including Dissident Voice, CounterPunch, Because People Matter and the Sacramento News & Review. Email:

Action Alert:

Please take the time to send or call messages of thanks to Mayor Heather Fargo and the Sacramento City Council who voted for the resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

It’s not the length or profundity of your message that counts – it’s the expression of support for a brave act. Keep it simple – or write a longer message if you would like. Here’s what one local activist sent:

Dear Heather Fargo and the Sacramento City Council

I am proud to know that Sacramento is led by 8 progressive council people! Thank you for your vote on the resolution to end the war.

Address, city and zip code

Please email or call Mayor Heather Fargo,;  (916) 808-5300, and she will pass your message on to the City Council.

Resolution 2005-805 As Passed on November 1:


WHEREAS, the United States of America carried out an invasion of Iraq based upon the claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, and therefore posed an immediate threat to the security of the United States and still no evidence has been found that Iraq possessed such weapons or the capability to deploy them; and

WHEREAS, the war and military occupation of Iraq, according to the Department of Defense, have cost the lives of over 2,000 U.S. troops, as well as wounding and disabling over 15,000 troops. Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated at over 100,000 men, women and children; and

WHEREAS, we recognize the courage of the over 1 million American military personnel, including city staff and many residents of the City of Sacramento, who have served in the war in Iraq. They have faced extraordinary danger and have made huge sacrifices in this war; we now want them to come home because bringing them home is the best means of protecting them and the interest of our nation; and

WHEREAS, Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated in August of this year, "the reality is that we’re losing in Iraq,” and that "there is a parallel emerging" between the War in Iraq and the War in Vietnam; and

WHEREAS, Retired Army Lieutenant General William Odom, a Vietnam veteran, said in September of this year that the invasion of Iraq alienated America’s Middle East allies, making it harder to prosecute a war against terrorists, and he said the United States should withdraw from Iraq; and

WHEREAS, A Bi-partisan group of Members of Congress – two Republicans and two Democrats – introduced the Homeward Bound Act on June 16, 2005 to begin the process of putting in place an exit strategy from Iraq. The Act now has 60 co-sponsors; and

WHEREAS, Wisconsin United States Senator Russ Feingold, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has proposed a timeframe for the completion of the military mission in Iraq and suggested December 31, 2006 as the target date for the completion of the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq; and

WHEREAS, the war in Iraq has cost American taxpayers over $350 billion. Broken down per person in the United States, the cost so far is $727, or $295 million from the residents from the City of Sacramento, making the Iraq War the most expensive military effort in the last 60 years; and

WHEREAS, the continuation of the war and the redirection of our nation’s resources will cause grave harm to the people of Sacramento, especially its low income residents and communities of color; and

WHEREAS, the recent tragedies caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have shown the United States needs to direct massive resources to recovery in the Gulf Coast, and we as a nation should turn our attention and resources to domestic recovery, emergency prevention measures and preparedness activities; and

WHEREAS, over 100 United States cities have passed resolutions calling for an end to the war in Iraq; now

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Sacramento, on behalf of the citizens of Sacramento, urges President Bush and the United States Congress to commence a humane, orderly, rapid and comprehensive withdrawal of United States military personnel and bases from Iraq; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the City of Sacramento calls on President Bush and the Congress of the United States to provide promised veterans’ health, education, disability, and rehabilitation benefits, and otherwise meet the needs of returning veterans.