Face to face with Sen. Feinstein’s state director

Our Q&A with Senator Feinstein’s new state director is coming up next Monday, September 23, and we’ve got plenty to talk about!

Since Senator Feinstein was reelected, many of us at Indivisible East Bay who track her see signs that she’s losing touch with her constituents and losing a sense of urgency about resisting the GOP agenda. From distancing herself from bold action to address climate change, to voting to send extra money to the border with no guardrails, to her underwhelming response to the new Kavanaugh evidence, it looks like she’s forgetting what we sent her back to Washington to do.

We know she’s capable of much more, but we need to push her!

Jim Lazarus, Sen. Feinstein’s current state director, wasn’t around in early 2017, or during the health care fight, or the Kavanaugh hearings, or the Blue Wave. He has no idea what the resistance is capable of, and his boss appears to have forgotten.

Let’s show both of them by turning out in force for this meeting, bringing our tough, thoughtful, probing questions, and a powerful call to resistance and action. Join us on Sept. 23 from 5:15 to 7:30 PM, at the Berkeley Public Library Main Branch.

A climate contingent plans to attend with banners, signs, and t-shirts of the organizations they’re representing. They invite others to meet in front of the Library at 5 PM to grab signs and coordinate questions. You can let Leana know at leanarosetti@gmail.com if you want to join them.

You can RSVP here (not required, but helps us plan), and whether or not you can make it, please call Sen. Feinstein today and say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask Senator Feinstein to Defund Hate in this year’s budget by cutting funding for ICE and CBP in the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, prohibiting funding transfers to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, and including provisions to protect migrants.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

The meeting is free and open to the public. The Berkeley Main Library is at 2090 Kittredge Street (near downtown Berkeley BART, cross street is Shattuck Avenue). The meeting room is upstairs in the third floor administrative wing, and is accessible. Children are welcome.

IEB’s meetings with Members of Congress and their staff are run according to the Indivisible Guide, which tells us to treat our MoCs, their staff, and all event participants with civility and respect. We encourage people to be assertive and express your opinions – even your frustration, if that’s how you feel! – but please remember that these are intended to be venues for thoughtful discussion and community sharing. Tirades, hate speech, violent speech of any kind, and excessive profanity will not be tolerated. In addition, Congressional staff is not permitted to discuss electioneering, and it is our policy not to bring it up or ask questions they can’t answer. Anyone comfortable with this approach is welcome to come.

This meeting is scheduled in the evening, and in the East Bay rather than San Francisco, to make it more accessible for working people and families. We really hope to see you there!

Read our article about IEB’s most recent meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s staff in June 2019, and our article about the last Q&A discussion we had in Oakland with Sen. Feinstein’s former state director and field representative, in August 2018.

If you have questions, please email us at info@indivisibleeb.org

 

Join us for Defund Hate Week!

Immigrant families are under an all-out assault: from caging children and families at the border and refusing them access to basic necessities like showers and toothbrushes, to launching raids that rip people away from homes where they’ve lived for years or even decades. Fueled by racism, hatred, and fear, the Trump administration has continued to pursue these unpopular and harmful policies – and Congress has continued to fund each and every one. As an official member of the Defund Hate Coalition, Indivisible East Bay stands with immigrant families to focus our collective power on defunding hate. 

Now, IEB is collecting creative messages from Bay Area members and allies to put together into a collage which we’ll add to a Border to Border with Love Petition, addressed to Congressional Democrats, as it makes its way down the West Coast to San Diego. There, we’ll get together with Native, Indivisible and local leaders for a rally to #DefundHate. Join us in this project! And keep reading to find out about more activities going on during Defund Hate Week, September 9-13.

What you can do:

Create a message!

Create your own messages to add to our collage! This action is both about defunding hate (specifically Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection) and celebrating and welcoming immigration – feel free to focus your piece on either or both. 

The only requirements are that the piece must be:

  1. six inches or smaller and flat
  2. made of paper or an equally light substance
  3. On-message: pro-immigrant and anti-hate!

Possible messages might include how immigration enforcement affects you personally, or our demands for Congressional action. For example:

  • Cut funding for ICE and CBP
  • Vote NO on any Department of Homeland Security funding bill that doesn’t prohibit funding transfers to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (see our article)
  • Vote NO on any DHS funding bill that doesn’t cut ICE and CBP funding to fiscal year 16 levels
  • Require the DHS Inspector General to monitor detention and enforcement spending and report to Congress 
  • Support alternatives to detention: close the camps and end immigration detention 
  • End the “remain in Mexico” policy and dangerous “safe third country” agreements

For more complete guidelines and talking points, look here and here

Spread the word:

Better yet, do this with your friends and families! Create cards with like-minded coworkers during lunch, or bring some paper and markers to your book club or your kid’s soccer game. Be sure to collect contributors’ email addresses on a separate sheet so we can send everyone a photo of the final product!

Drop off pieces for the collage:

  • Any time (during open hours) before noon on Tuesday 9/10, leave your pieces in our drop box at the Rockridge branch of 1951 Coffee at 6021 College Ave, Oakland.
  • Any time (during open hours) before noon on Tuesday 9/10, leave your pieces in our drop box at Sports Basement Berkeley, 2727 Milvia St, Berkeley
  • Bring them to our special event on September 10 in Oakland (see below)!

Defund Hate Week Events:

  • Come to our main event: Tuesday, September 10, 5:30-7:30 PM at IFPTE Local 21, 1440 Broadway, Suite 610, Oakland, CA – we’ll be assembling the collage, writing postcards, and learning about other actions we can take. RSVP appreciated, but not required; we’d love to have you help out at the event, too!
  • Find us at Oakland Pride on Sunday, Sept. 8 (details and RSVP). 
  • Call your Member of Congress on the Defund Hate Call-In Day, September 9. Call script and details here.
  • Participate in Indivisible SF’s Defund Hate National Week of Action event, Friday September 13 in the plaza near the Ferry Building in SF.

Defund Hate

And also… 

  • Want to help us get this project to its destination? Please consider chipping in a few dollars toward priority shipping costs. You can donate cash at any of our events, or use our secure ActBlue online donation site.
  • A huge thank you to our partners and the organizations helping us make this project happen:
    • 1951 Coffee, founded in 2015, is a non-profit specialty coffee organization that promotes the well-being of the refugee community in the United States by providing job training and employment to refugees, asylees, and special immigrant visa holders while educating the surrounding community about refugee life and issues. You can support them by buying a cup of coffee in their cafes, buying or gifting their merchandise and whole bean coffees online, donating to support their services like the Barista Training Program, or volunteering at one of their open houses.
    • Sports Basement, Berkeley is hosting one of our drop boxes, and has hosted so many of our other meetings. If you shop there, please mention IEB and thank them!
    • And thank you to the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 21 for letting us use their space to assemble our collage.

Fiona Woods, Ann Daniels and Amelia Cass contributed to this article

Time is ripe for impeachment

Deadline: ASAP –

By Larry Baskett

During the impeachment update at August’s Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting, we looked back at some Bay Area actions from the past few months. Most recently, you may have heard about an August 21 demonstration in San Francisco organized by CREDO Action and By the People that the SF Chronicle and other news media covered. As for DC happenings, House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler says they’ve started an impeachment inquiry, but we need to keep pushing to make sure they’re not just going through the motions. 

What you can do:

Call your Representative, and also call the House Judiciary Committee, to push these specific objectives for the inquiry:

  • Don’t wait for responses from the courts or from the administration to move the public inquiry forward.
  • Start public hearings in earnest immediately upon Congress’s return to session in early September.
  • Cover the full range of impeachable offenses, including the Mueller Report findings, but also including the many other instances of corruption and abuses of power. Mention a couple of examples that are important to you personally — there are many to choose from at these sources:
  • Declare a specific date by which they will bring articles of impeachment to the House floor.
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065
  • House Judiciary Committee:  (202) 225-3951

For more information about impeachment, including the latest views of MoCs leading the charge, like Representatives Al Green and Rashida Tlaib, take a look at the Impeachment University webinar series (archive viewable on YouTube). To keep up with nationally-coordinated actions, see the Impeachment August site and sign up with By the People, the umbrella grassroots impeachment advocacy group.

If you’re meeting with your Member of Congress’s staff, or with them personally, the IEB impeachment team would be glad to coordinate with you beforehand on the latest messaging and goals. Join the discussion, and post any questions or thoughts you have, on the #impeachment channel on Indivisible East Bay’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email info@IndivisibleEB.org

Help us spread the word: Do you know of a group that we could visit to present a 30- to 60-minute impeachment information and discussion session? We’ve got one all ready to go, so let us know on Slack or by email. The next two weeks are a good time to do it!

Talk to your friends and relatives about impeachment. Not sure what to say? Get up to speed by reading our earlier articles, with background and more actions you can take on impeachment, investigations, and the Mueller Report:

It’s incredibly important for the House to impeach Trump, regardless of what the Senate does, to officially and publicly find him unfit for office and dangerous to the country. More and more MoCs come out in support of an inquiry every week. Let’s make sure they do it right! 

Larry Baskett is a mechanical engineer from Berkeley who spent a year as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the California State Senate.

“SOS We’re in a constitutional crisis”, graphic by Lynn LaRocca, of Alameda4Impeachment

 

Come Rock the Congress With Us!

Deadline: register now for the Sept. 7 conference –

“Strength in Diversity, Power in Unity” — that’s the theme for the East Bay Rock the Congress conference, Saturday, September 7 at Berkeley City College, 2050 Center Street, Berkeley.

Join hundreds of local progressives, including Indivisible East Bay members — new and experienced, of all backgrounds and ages — for a day of thoughtful, challenging presentations and discussion about 2020’s crucial elections. IEB’s Nancy and Andrea will present a workshop to share lessons learned from the IEB Governance Committee June retreat — all are welcome!

Here’s what the RTC-EB organizers want to accomplish:

  • Engage new activists in an array of choices to become involved, tailored to individual interests, skills, and experience
  • Recharge seasoned activists, event organizers, and group leaders with opportunities to broaden the movement’s collective impact in 2020
  • Reinforce the importance of activism grounded in the strength of our diversity and the power of our unity

And here’s how they plan to do it:

Keynote presentations, panel discussions, and interactive breakouts featuring recognized leaders in electoral politics and issue-based advocacy; attendees will be able to:

  • Dive into activist groups’ national strategies to achieve victory in 2020
  • Explore regional and local grassroots initiatives: coalition-building to flip districts and protect them, updates on collaborative work in progress, youth activism, the latest technology for organizing, anti-oppression organizing, and more

 

Panelists and presenters from diverse organizations include the following leaders, and many more:

  • Aimee Allison, Founder and President of She the People
  • Kathryn Durham-Hammer, President, Diablo Valley Democratic Club and Lead, Indivisible ReSisters Walnut Creek
  • Demnlus Johnson, Councilmember, City of Richmond, CA
  • Shawn Kumagai, City Council Member, City of Dublin
  • Donald Lathbury, Communications Director and Strategist, Flip the West
  • Mallory Long, Training Director, All On The Line
  • Colleen McCarthy, Northern California Regional Field Director, Swing Left
  • Shawna McKnight, Public Affairs Officer, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte
  • Raquel Ortega, Organizer, ACLU of Northern California
  • Tamisha Walker, Executive Director, Safe Return Project

Interactive breakouts include the following, and more:

  • <30, Leading Change
  • Adventures in Building and Sustaining Grassroots Groups
  • Border Crisis, Immigration Policy, and the 2020 Elections
  • Census 2020: Everyone Counts
  • Centering Community Care in Social and Racial Justice Advocacy
  • Exploring the Relationship between Grassroots Activism and the Democratic Party
  • Keeping Central Valley Blue
  • Out-of-State Electoral Strategies

Register here for the conference. A sliding scale donation of $25-$100 is requested, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. If the ticket fee represents a hardship, you can submit a request for sponsorship here.

Graphic by East Bay Rock the Congress

 

Fight DHS expanded “expedited removal” program

By Sylvia Chi

Deadline: Submit comment by September 23, 2019 –

In July 2019 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would expand the expedited removal program. Expedited removal is a fast track process that allows low-level immigration officers to quickly deport certain non citizens who are undocumented or have committed fraud or misrepresentation. The expansion makes hundreds of thousands more people vulnerable to deportation without due process rights such as a hearing before a judge or the right to a lawyer. The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimates that 260,000 to 440,000 undocumented immigrants are subject to expedited removal under this policy change. Previously, DHS could only use the expedited removal process for those detained within 100 miles of the border for less than two weeks; DHS now seeks to expand the program to apply to any undocumented person, regardless of location, who can’t prove they’ve been in the United States continuously for two years.

According to the Notice filed in the Federal Register, this expansion went into effect on July 23, 2019, and public comments on the change will be accepted through September 23, 2019. Read our instructions below on how to make your comments opposing this change.

What you can do:

Leave a comment on this form on the Federal Register website by September 23, 2019

What to say:

We’ve given some suggestions, but to make your comment as effective as possible, please write in your own voice and describe this policy’s effect on your own life and community. (Multiple comments with the same language may be discarded.) For more ideas, read the comments other people have filed.

  • I oppose the expansion of expedited removal.
  • Expedited removal violates the Fifth Amendment Due Process rights of people in the interior of the United States who have been living in the country for extended periods of time, who are entitled to meaningful process before removal from the country.
  • Expedited removal violates sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act and Administrative Procedure Act which provide that individuals have the right to counsel in removal proceedings and in compelled appearances before an agency.
  • Expanding expedited removal increases the likelihood of racial discrimination and abuses of power by immigration and border officials.
  • This expansion contributes to the Trump Administration’s campaign to marginalize immigrants and sow fear and confusion in the immigrant community.
  • This process increases the likelihood that a person who isn’t supposed to be subject to expedited removal, like a U.S. citizen, will be removed by mistake.

More information:

Unlike the normal deportation process, the expedited removal process does not allow for a hearing before an immigration judge, access to an attorney, or chance to appeal. Under expedited removal, you may be stopped and made subject to this process anywhere in the United States. Without the right to prepare and collect evidence, you must prove to the immigration officer’s “satisfaction” that you have been in the country for two years or otherwise have the legal right to be in the country. In effect, Americans – and especially, people of color – will be subject to “de facto pop-up trial[s]… using only the things in their pockets” as well as illegal stops by border officials. 

In the past, due to its abbreviated process and lack of accountability, the expedited removal process has been rife with errors, leading to the erroneous removal of U.S. citizens, green card holders, and others not eligible for expedited removal. Expedited removal also does not sufficiently protect asylum-seekers, since immigration officers have been known to improperly pressure individuals into withdrawing their asylum requests, or simply fail to ask if the individual fears persecution upon return to their home country. In addition, under expedited removal, immigration officers do not need to consider defenses against removal which would apply in immigration court.

The American Civil Liberties Union and American Immigration Council, on behalf of Make the Road New York and other organizations, have also sued to block the change. Even if the policy is blocked or rolled back, the proposal is still effective as another example of the Trump Administration’s campaign to spread fear among immigrant communities.

Sylvia Chi is an Oakland-based attorney and activist.

Photograph: Immigration Reform Leaders Arrested in Washington DC, by Nevele Otseog

Rep. Swalwell’s community forum on ending gun violence & domestic terrorism

By Ward Kanowsky

Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) held a standing room only town hall meeting dedicated solely to the issue of gun violence at Hayward City Hall on August 7, 2019. During his opening comments at the “Community Forum on Ending Gun Violence & Domestic Terrorism,” Swalwell said he had just met with the heads of various law enforcement agencies, including local police departments, state operations, and the FBI, to discuss the threat assessment of gun violence primarily from white nationalist organizations, and the readiness of law enforcement. The feedback he received is that the threat level is high; he also has confidence that first responders in the law enforcement community are ready in the event of another shooting.

Notwithstanding this confidence, Swalwell emphasized that Congress needs to respond legislatively, and it needs to do so in the short term. Most importantly, he said that the background checks bill (H.R. 1112), which has passed the House, must be voted on by the Senate now, even if that means calling the entire body back into session from the current recess. (Read our recent article on this issue, with a call to action, here.) In response to a question from the audience about Senator Mitch McConnell blocking any efforts for such a vote, Swalwell called on one of the Senators now running for president to stand up and filibuster for a vote.

Other steps Rep. Swalwell urged to address ongoing gun violence are changes to laws on domestic terrorism and banning and buying back the 15 million assault weapons now in the hands of Americans. He noted that, with the recent tragedies in El Paso and Dayton and the NRA being “on the ropes,” the ban/buyback proposal continues to gain traction among the Democratic presidential candidates: former VP Joe Biden, Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg are all open to or have come out in support of such a program. [Editor’s note: see this August 10 ABC News article for more information about where the 2020 Democratic candidates stand on gun control; and Politico’s web page, currently updated to August 14, with candidates’ views on gun control].

During the hour-plus Q&A session, constituents and others were able to express their views and concerns on the issue of gun violence and offer additional ideas for reducing the number of shootings. A teacher bluntly stated that ”more kids are afraid of dying at school.” Swalwell acknowledged these fears and reiterated the importance of getting guns off the streets, as opposed to proposals like arming teachers that would make a bad situation worse. A student from Baylor University in Texas proposed raising the minimum age to buy guns, while another attendee suggested a federal tax on firearms. Swalwell was open to both of these ideas. In response to one constituent’s proposal that the Second Amendment be repealed, Swalwell disagreed, and said we need to do a better job of interpreting the Amendment.

Addressing gun violence was the signature issue of Swalwell’s brief run for president and it remains a top priority for him as a member of Congress.

If you have questions or want to participate with the CA-15 team, contact Ward on Slack at @ward or by email at wardkanowsky@gmail.com

Ward Kanowsky is co-lead, with LeAnn Kanowsky, of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 Team.

Photograph of Rep. Swalwell by LeAnn Kanowsky

It’s rain(bow)ing IEB t-shirts!

Resistance is beautiful! Celebrate Indivisible and the East Bay with our fabulous new rainbow logo t-shirt! Come get one (or more!) of the new t-shirts AND learn how to phone bank for Virginia at the Sunday, August 25 All Members Meeting.

Our glamorous U.S.-made shirts, produced by local union printer Alliance Graphics, come in two t-shirt colors, blue and black: both with the rainbow logo, both shirt colors available in unisex or women’s/fitted sizes from small to XXL. Of your suggested minimum $25 donation each, IEB will get around $5 — which we’ll use for meeting and event expenses, informational flyers, and more.

The AMM will be packed with presentations about how you can take action while wearing your new shirt:

  • Leanne Karns from Swing Left East Bay will talk about their strategy and how we can support them (hint: it involves Arizona and North Carolina). 
  • You’ll also learn about our “VA 2019” project, which has the goal to flip both of Virginia’s legislative houses to blue this November (we’re just a few seats away!) And our East Bay Activist Alliance allies will lead us in phone banking to flip Virginia’s houses. Don’t worry — we’ll show you what to do! Bring your phone, earbuds, laptop, ipad or other device, and we’ll practice calling friendly Dems around the Virginia Beach area to remind them to register to vote this November.  

But back to the the t-shirts! We’ll have limited quantities of each size and color, so to make sure you get the shirt you want, come to the Sunday August 25 AMM and donate using cash or online via our ActBlue fundraising page or by using the Cash app to $IndivisibleEB. If you need, we’ll walk you through the easy process to donate online using your phone.

We’ll also hold a breakout on impeachment, to bring you the latest information and highlight the national impeachment advocacy coalition’s calls to action, which include urging our Members of Congress to hold dedicated public hearings, to make sure investigations and potential articles of impeachment include high crimes and misdemeanors beyond the Mueller findings, to obtain a date certain before Thanksgiving for recorded votes on articles, and more. And speaking of Mueller — last but not least, get your Mueller (mis)fortune cookie (while they last) at the AMM!

We’re set to be in the upstairs mezzanine at the Berkeley Sports Basement (take stairs or elevator up), but if there’s a last minute change of room check for Indivisible East Bay or IEB on the chalk board at the entrance. Can’t make the AMM? Join us online where we do our planning and organizing— ask  info@indivisibleeb.org for an invite.

And mark your calendar for September 29, when we’ll hold the next AMM in Dublin! Special guests, tasty treats and saving democracy are on the menu–RSVP and info here!

IEB meeting with Rep. DeSaulnier 8/5/19

August 5, 2019 meeting with Representative Mark DeSaulnier and Indivisible East Bay’s CA-11 Team. 

Present: Rep. Mark DeSaulnier and Shanelle Scales Preston, District Director for Rep. DeSaulnier 

Read our memorandum to Rep. DeSaulnier here.

  • Immigration (CBP/HHS/Flores Settlement
    • $4.6 billion in border aid without any accountability
    • DeSaulnier: there were long caucuses on this – Problem Solvers Caucus wouldn’t support the above aid
    • 45 plays to race – he is good at it
    • This is about accountability 
    • Russians trying to disrupt politics – get people to be divisive
    • Only accountability at this point is if judge finds e.g. Secretary of DHS in contempt
  • Election Security 
    • Republicans are used to suppressing votes – it is part of their culture – “this is what we do in the South/Midwest.”
    • Need an audit trail
    • Social media is most alarming – they prime traditional media through social media
    • What can Oversight Committee do:
      • We have to stay in it
      • Need to hold hearings and let the public know
      • They are trying to build staff up on all committees – particularly with Oversight. Noted that budget for Congressional staff has been slashed since Gingrich was Speaker.
      • Keep having hearings – asked us to let him know what ideas we have. Work with Indivisible National to share ideas with others
    • Can members of congress model the right policies:
      • Blue states can pilot – take pieces of HR1 and try it at the local level 
      • Rep. DeSaulnier: We can try it. Apply pressure strategically and make them know who is on their side – Groups like Indivisible should work in swing states to help message this
      • We have to worry about CA too – he is worried about registrars here too – ex: Fresno 
    • How can Rep. DeSaulnier use his committee assignments to be impactful:
      • Can do lots of little things to have great impact
      • He wants help with the language with regards to all of our smaller recommendations that can lead to greater impact
      • “There will be vehicles on Election Security because it is important.” (presumably referring to future legislation)
  • Impeachment Inquiry
    • Wanted his name on it, but feels that this is a choice of conscience
    • Understands why Speaker Pelosi is concerned about it
    • Democrats who are not behind it are worried it will be like Clinton
    • Need to bring people along – Pelosi: “With public sentiment anything is possible”
    • Should focus on 2020
    • House Judiciary Committee Chair Nadler is pushing to get leverage from judges, Pelosi proceeding through action on multiple committees.
  • White Supremacist Terrorism
    • (Affected the tone of what we discussed but we didn’t explicitly get to it)
  • FY20 Budget Negotiations
    • Supplemental has gone in
      • Will be assertive about how they spend the money
      • Supplemental appropriations are bills enacted after the regular annual appropriations act to pay for situations too urgent to wait until the next year. 
    • Is there going to be a lawsuit? 
      • Multiple ones – mostly from ACLU but they lack infrastructure to deal with this corruption
      • His staff will get more for us
    • Progressive and Hispanic caucuses unified on various prohibitions asked for in Memo

If you want more info about the CA-11 Team, contact co-leads Ted and Kristen at indivisibleca11@gmail.com. Or if you’re on Slack, contact @Ted Lam or @KristenL and join the moc_team_ca11 team. Want an invite to join Slack? Please drop us a line at info@indivisibleeb.org

Meeting notes by IEB and CA-11 Team members Kristen, Toni and Ion

Photograph of Rep. DeSaulnier with Toni, Kristen, Janis, and Ion

Join IEB’s Q&A in Berkeley with Sen. Feinstein’s State Director

Please join Indivisible East Bay and our co-hosts, Indivisible Berkeley, for a Q&A discussion with Senator Feinstein’s State Director Jim Lazarus on Monday September 23 from 5:15 to 7:30 PM, at the Berkeley Public Library Main Branch.

The meeting is free and open to the public. RSVP is preferred, but not required. The Berkeley Main Library is at 2090 Kittredge Street (near downtown Berkeley BART, cross street is Shattuck Avenue). The meeting room is upstairs in the third floor administrative wing, and is accessible. Children are welcome.

Meeting with our Members of Congress’ staff in person is one of the most effective ways to influence our representatives. Staff have told us that they find these public meetings particularly helpful in their work of reporting back to the senator what her constituents want. So please come and bring your questions and concerns for Sen. Feinstein’s state director to answer and/or pass along to his boss.

IEB’s meetings with Members of Congress and their staff are run according to the Indivisible Guide, which tells us to treat our MoCs, their staff, and all event participants with civility and respect. We encourage people to be assertive and express your opinions – even your frustration, if that’s how you feel! – but please remember that these are intended to be venues for thoughtful discussion and community sharing. Tirades, hate speech, violent speech of any kind, and excessive profanity will not be tolerated. In addition, Congressional staff is not permitted to discuss electioneering, and it is our policy not to bring it up or ask questions they can’t answer. Anyone comfortable with this approach is welcome to come.

This meeting is scheduled in the evening, and in the East Bay rather than SF, to make it more accessible for working people and families. We really hope to see you there!

Read our article about IEB’s most recent meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s staff in June 2019, and our article about the last Q&A discussion we had in Oakland with Sen. Feinstein’s state director and field representative, in August 2018.

If you have questions, please email us at info@indivisibleeb.org

 

IEB 7/16/19 Meeting with Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, AD-15

Meeting with Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, AD-15, on July 16, 2019

PRESENT: Buffy Wicks; Senior Field Representative Uche Uwahemu; one additional staff person and three interns; five IEB members.

This was Indivisible East Bay’s first solo meeting with Assemblymember Wicks, following our May 10, 2019 meeting with her and Asm. Rob Bonta. We gave Wicks and her staff our pre-meeting memo and our list of IEB Priority Bills (many of which are also bills of priority interest statewide). By now bills initiated in one chamber of the Legislature have passed to the other chamber, where they must pass by mid-September, so these were the bills we focused on. With a few exceptions, we did not cover other bills that have died, that have not been included in the Governor’s budget, or that have become two-year bills and will roll over into next year.

ELECTIONS / VOTING RIGHTS:

A unifying theme of our selection of voting rights bills is supporting the major goals of the federal bill H.R.1, the For the People Act: expanding voting rights, campaign finance reform, and strengthening the government’s ethics laws. H.R.1 is an omnibus bill because the most effective changes work in tandem to complement each other. Wicks stated that she cares about voter rights and supports a variety of approaches. She was open to the idea of an omnibus bill and even suggested that she might look at authoring such a bill next session. We also discussed:

  • ACA 6, which expands voting rights to people on parole to re-enfranchise over 50,000 Californians. IEB is working with the community co-sponsors of ACA 6, including Initiate Justice, All of Us or None, and our community partner Open Gate. This is now a two-year bill. It still needs to be voted on in this Assembly this year, but will not reach the Senate until next year. Because it is a constitutional amendment it will require a two-thirds vote to pass. We asked Wicks to become a co-author, and she said she would be happy to.
  • We thanked Wicks for supporting AB 1217, which requires issue advertisements to disclose the top three funders. The bill is now in the Senate. SB 47 is another important bill for transparency, requiring ballot initiative signature gatherers to disclose the top three funders. We asked her to become a co-author. 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE:

  • Wicks supported AB 32, which prohibits the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from entering into or renewing contracts with private for-profit prisons. The bill, which is now in the Senate, has a long list of community co-sponsors, including California StateStrong; and one opponent, the CA State Sheriffs’ Association.
  • Wicks supported AB 1185, establishing a sheriff oversight board, on the Assembly floor (the bill is now in the Senate). However, more needs to be done in this arena – right now, there is no term limit on sheriffs. In response to IEB’s asking if she would consider introducing a constitutional amendment to switch from elected to appointed sheriffs or introducing a bill allowing counties to set term limits for sheriffs and district attorneys, Wicks responded that she is interested in an approach that would change the requirement that a person have a law-enforcement background in order to run for sheriff. She told us that either she or Sen. Nancy Skinner will author a bill to do that. 

STATE BUDGET:

  • Wicks joined us in being glad that Medi-Cal was expanded to include some undocumented immigrants (SB 29), but disappointed that it didn’t include seniors because of stated budgetary concerns.
  • Likewise, we were disappointed that the budget did not expand the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) program to include holders of Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, though we’re glad the income threshold was expanded.

IMMIGRATION/LOCAL COOPERATION WITH ICE:

  • Just before the meeting, we learned that Oakland Airport has been one of the top airports used by ICE in California. Wicks said she had also been unaware of this. When we asked if she had any thoughts on what might be done to end that cooperation, she said that the Governor has a broader ability to do things and we may need to get to him.
  • Since our meeting, IEB testified at the Port of Oakland commissioners meeting on July 25. In response, the Port said in the coming weeks, they are committed to developing recommendations and a definitive response to the events that occurred. 

ENVIRONMENT:

  • Wicks agreed with AB 1276, a state-specific “Green New Deal” aimed at addressing the climate crisis in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, technology and infrastructure, as well as economics, education, and civil rights. She specifically supported resilient infrastructure with AB 1698 (infrastructure investment and financing).
  • SB 200, which Wicks voted for, establishes a fund to secure access to safe drinking water. It was signed into law by the governor on July 24th.

EDUCATION:

  • Wicks co-authored SB 37 with Sen. Nancy Skinner to increase the tax rate on large corporations in order to fund child care, public schools and higher education. Though it didn’t pass the Senate, she emphasized that the need for it remains. She supports Prop. 13 reform (the Schools and Communities First initiative will be on the ballot in 2020) but noted that it only provides $11 billion towards the $50 billion she believes is required to fund schools.
  • Wicks voted in support of bills that reformed how charter schools are formed and operated: AB 1505, which passed both houses of the Legislature; AB 1506, which did not; and SB 126, which has already been signed into law. She stated that she believes there are good charter schools but that more accountability is needed.

HOUSING:

Housing is a major focus of Wicks’ legislative interest. She stated that we need 3.5 million units of housing at all income levels and at higher density levels and noted the need for housing at moderate income levels, where costs are too high but people do not qualify for assistance. She is a co-author of:

  • AB 724, which was intended to create a registry of rental properties (though it did not pass the Assembly).
  • AB 1482, which would prohibit rent gouging and eviction without just cause.
  • SB 50, which provides incentives for streamlining approval of housing development.

POVERTY:

We didn’t discuss poverty with Wicks because she is already very strong on the issue. We had several priority bills on issues of poverty and hunger, and she has either authored or voted for all of them:

FUTURE WORK:

Wicks asked that we stay in touch going forward. She is developing bills for next year’s session that she would like our feedback on and support with, touching on a number of topics, including housing, hunger, privacy concerns, and reproductive rights.

By IEB Governance Committee members Toni Henle and Ion Y

Toni Henle is retired after a career in policy work at non-profits focused on workforce development. She is a member of the IEB Governance Committee, co-lead of Outreach to Organizations and a member of the Indivisible CA-11 team.