Visiting Mighty Indivisible Santa Fe

By Ted Lam

To our buddies in Indivisible San Francisco: did you know there’s another ISF?

My family and I were going to Santa Fe, New Mexico for spring break, and I wanted to learn more about other Indivisible chapters throughout the country, so I used Indivisible National’s search tool – and I found Indivisible Santa Fe! I connected with Donna of ISF, and we agreed to meet to chat, exchange tips, and learn from each other about our chapters’ experiences.

I met with Donna and Janey, both in ISF leadership and both retirees originally from Southern California. ISF publishes a weekly newsletter. One of their main goals is to build coalitions with similarly aligned groups, like Wheeler Peak Progressives in Taos (it’s not an Indivisible chapter but it follows the Indy principles) and Indivisible Nob Hill (yet another SF coincidence? Well, this one is in Albuquerque, not The City By The Bay). ISF also collaborates with the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, New Mexico Money Out of Politics, and occasionally holds film screenings like an April 15 showing of “Unbreaking America.” They have Friday street rallies in Santa Fe along a street corner with Vets for Peace, which has rallied for 20 or more years at that location. Janey and Donna said that this year’s Santa Fe Women’s March was primarily organized by Native American women from various social change and Native American women’s empowerment groups. They also told me that ISF normally receives positive reactions from the community when they hold events.

Because Santa Fe is the state capitol, they regularly visit the State House, locally called “the Roundhouse.” They call their new governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, “Governor Michelle,” and their congressperson Ben Ray Lujan is “Ben Ray.”

It was fascinating and uplifting to hear why they and others are involved with Indivisible. Janey showed me the cool 5 Calls app that makes it easy and efficient to contact your elected officials about issues. And most important – my family tried (and loved) most of the great, local restaurant recommendations they gave us before we left beautiful Santa Fe! 

Wrapping up our engrossing conversation, I presented Donna with one of our “blue wave” Indivisible East Bay t-shirts. We promised to exchange newsletters and offered mutual assistance if needed.

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

Featured photo (left to right): Janey and Donna from ISF, and Ted from IEB

Oakland Women’s March 2019

By Ted Lam

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The weather cooperated for the third annual Oakland Women’s March on Saturday January 19; we even got a glimpse of a rainbow! Everyone who marched and lined 14th Street from Lake Merritt to Frank Ogawa Plaza projected positive energy. There were lots of families with kids, and all had smiles and danced along with the various bands in the march.

Indivisible East Bay walked with our good friends and partners in Indivisible Berkeley;  both groups marched proudly behind our banners. I believe we had the youngest Indivisible member (four years old!) participating out of our two groups!

Marching behind Batala, a great Samba drumming group, was like having front row seats at a concert. There was good music, energy, and camaraderie through the day and a lot of interest in IEB at our table. 

The Women’s March has become a major annual event for us to bond with and catch up with the groups and activists many of us spent the past year working with. And we’re all looking forward to next year’s election year event — the 2020 Women’s March!

For another perspective: https://indivisibleeb.org/2019/01/23/oakland-womens-march-2019-what-did-you-miss/

Photographs by Nancy Latham and Ted Lam

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

 

CA-11 Team gets it done!

By Ted Lam

Do you live in California’s 11th Congressional District? Then you should know about Indivisible East Bay’s CA-11 Team! We meet every third Wednesday at the El Cerrito Rialto Theater from 7 to 8:30 PM, and our unofficial team motto is “We get Sh*t Done!”

Over the past two years, our team has developed a solid relationship with our Congressmember, Mark DeSaulnier, and his staff. As part of the Indivisible strategy, we meet with Rep. DeSaulnier on a regular basis, both to share our priorities and learn about his. These meetings allow us to give input about the specific actions and policies that he is fighting for in D.C. on our behalf–and thankfully, he has shown himself to be a very responsive representative.

Over the past two years, the CA-11 Team has partnered with progressive groups to create a better community for all who live in our district. We supported and worked for the successful election of Judge Diana Becton, the first woman and only African-American to be District Attorney in our county. We collaborated with other activists and groups to pressure Contra Costa County Sheriff Livingston to cancel the ICE contract at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond where immigrant detainees were held. We help organize and participate in the El Cerrito Shows Up weekly rallies to highlight the immoral policies of the current administration. Members of the CA-11 team also worked in coalition with others to organize a 400-person rally to protest 45’s interference in the Mueller investigation.

Earlier this month, two candidates running to represent California Assembly District 15 as delegates to the California Democratic Party spoke at our meeting to encourage people to vote in the upcoming delegate election. Indivisible Berkeley member Daron Sharps and Christine Nygaard of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America shared their reasons for running–this year in particular is critical, as the elected delegates will vote when it comes time for the CA Democratic party to make its endorsement for the Democratic nominee for President! If you’re interested in voting for the delegates to the CA Democratic Party from Assembly District 15, the election is on Saturday, January 26 from 9:45 AM to 12:30 PM in Emeryville. Voting begins at 10:30 AM, and you must be in line by 12:30 to vote. You can only vote if you are a registered Democrat living in AD-15 (N. Oakland, Piedmont, Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, El Cerrito, Richmond, El Sobrante, San Pablo, Hercules or Pinole). More information here.

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

 Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

Photograph: CA-11 team members Kristen, Toni, and Ted, meet with Rep DeSaulnier

Rep. DeSaulnier’s Congressional Update Town Hall

By Ted Lam

Indivisible East Bay CA-11 team co-leads Kristen and Ted, and IEB member Tom, met with Congressperson Mark DeSaulnier and his D.C. Chief of Staff Betsy Marr before his Congressional Update Town Hall in Richmond on October 23. We updated DeSaulnier on CA-11 team members’ recent work helping elect Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton, our involvement in pushing Sheriff Livingston to cancel the ICE contract, and our various Get Out The Vote actions in CA-21, Northern Nevada, and Arizona. DeSaulnier was impressed and immensely grateful, and Marr encouraged us to keep at it. DeSaulnier shared his unvarnished summary of the “goings-on” in D.C. with us, and we had a great back-and-forth on that. 

Looking to the future, we asked about DeSaulnier’s priorities after the elections, and what he’d recommend for our post-midterm grassroots efforts. To our specific question about whether the Democrats would re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment that was killed by Newt Gingrich in the Clinton era, DeSaulnier agreed that it should be a priority. Wrapping up, DeSaulnier offered to meet with the CA-11 team after the midterms to check in and dive deeper into our post-election ideas. We will hold him to that!

About 70 people attended the 90-minute Town Hall. There was an underlying tone of optimism in the Representative’s presentation about the midterms. One of his post-election priorities is to work on overturning Citizens United, banning stock buybacks, strengthening anti-trust enforcement, and updating the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (WARN). The WARN Act of 1988 is a US labor law that protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide 60 calendar-day advance notification of plant closings and mass layoffs of employees.

IEB and CA-11 team member Janis Hashe asked two questions on what can be done about coal rail shipments through Richmond, and whether the interstate commerce clause can be utilized to help. DeSaulnier’s response was supportive, and he gave some suggestions. Obviously fascinated with the second question, he said he’d give it further thought.

Janis Hashe & friend at Rep DeSaulnier Richmond Town Hall, photo by Ted Lam
Janis Hashe & friend at Rep. DeSaulnier Richmond Town Hall, photo by Ted Lam

It was satisfying to hear our Member of Congress espouse progressive values and be so responsive to his community. 

Missed the Town Hall? Watch the video here.

Photo of Representative DeSaulnier © Mark DeSaulnier

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

Canvassing with Very Cool People in Sanger

By Ted Lam, Fiona Woods, and Carl Mason

Six hours of driving and six hours of canvassing? Yes! And it was even more fun than we expected. We left Oakland before 5 AM on Saturday October 6, heading south toward Sanger, CA. Bagels, coffee, and great conversation made for a delightful three hour drive.  A millennial, a Gen Xer, and a baby boomer cruising toward the sunrise; intensely agreeing on politics while sharing music, pop culture, and social science insights.

Almost before we knew it we’d arrived in Sanger. While SwingLeft’s cheerful and super efficient organizers Stacey, Sharon and Norberto were giving us a quick update and walk through of the Political Data Inc. (PDI) app, who should show up but TJ Cox, the candidate we were there to canvass for! He spoke with us briefly and told us why he’s running for Congress: to help this neglected district get the attention and resources it deserves. CA-21 has a high poverty rate with many residents on Medicaid. TJ was especially proud that a foundation he started has built health clinics all over the valley, including the United Health Clinic in Sanger.  When we were out canvassing, many of the people we talked to were surprised and moved to find out that TJ was the force behind the Clinic’s creation.

IEB canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox
Carl, Fiona and Ted canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox (that’s TJ between Ted and Fiona)

You’d be shocked (not really!) to learn that David Valadao, the incumbent Republican Member of Congress against whom TJ is running, has voted with 45 over 98% of the time. Valadao has consistently voted against his district’s interests, including voting against the ACA, voting for cuts to Medicare, and failing to follow through with the discharge petition to protect DREAMers.

The three of us canvassed together from 9 AM to 3 in the afternoon, talking mainly to Democrats and to those who “declined to state” a preference on their voter registration. That’s because at this point in the election cycle, it’s much more about getting out the vote than persuading people to change their preference. While it was jarring to meet so many people who professed to have no knowledge of the election, it also felt productive. Nearly everyone was friendly and talking about TJ was easy. Perhaps we’re being overly optimistic, but we feel confident that we made a difference — that at least some of the people we spoke with will turn up at the polls because of us.

Lunch break! Ted, Carl and Fiona canvassing for TJ Cox in Sanger
Lunch break! Ted, Carl and Fiona canvassing for TJ Cox in Sanger

After lunch, the canvassing went a bit slower — not only because we were hauling around bellies full of excellent Mexican food, but because fewer people were home (or willing to answer the door). We left campaign literature with personalized post-it notes at every house. By day’s end, SwingLeft canvassers had knocked on 710 doors and had 174 targeted conversations — plus many more contacts with potential voters. Our trio even got three people to put up TJ Cox yard signs in very noticeable locations!

IEB canvasses for TJ Cox in Sanger, photo by Ted Lam
So inspiring when we spotted lawn signs for TJ Cox! Photo by Ted Lam

As the temperature approached 80 degrees (still unusually cool in the Valley), we wrapped it up, debriefed with the SwingLeft team, and headed for home. The drive back was even better than the drive out: after several weeks of the excruciating-to-watch Kavanaugh hearings, the satisfaction of having done something positive was cathartic.

You can make a difference too!

Can’t get out to canvass yourself? Donate to support one of the great groups listed above. You can even sponsor a canvasser in CA-21 by donating to Valley Forward, which helps employ people living in the district.

Read Ted’s recent article about why he spends his time canvassing, and his article about canvassing for TJ Cox in Mendota before the primary.

9/27/18 IEB & ISF Sen Feinstein office visit

Seventeen Indivisibles from IEB and Indivisible San Francisco met with Sean Elsbernd, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s state director, on September 27 at her San Francisco office. Our almost two-hour meeting was jam-packed with questions and “asks.”

First on the agenda: a detailed back and forth on how the homeless count in San Francisco is conducted. It was further emphasized that more resources were needed to help the homeless, from outreach to affordable housing. Sean seemed particularly concerned about the estimate that 2,400 kids may be homeless.

For those of you not placing the date, September 27 was the day Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh testified in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Of course, the hearings came up, and we stressed – as we have consistently done – that we are firmly against Kavanaugh being confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. The group urged Senator Feinstein to continue what she’s doing and to look as well for other methods to stop his confirmation.

On a not-necessarily-unrelated note, the topic of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act came up. Sean thinks that Congress will just extend the Act, at least for the short term.

Sean told us that on the important issue of immigrant family separation, their office is not getting phone calls, and that it’s crucial for people to keep this issue alive by contacting the Senator. He did acknowledge that the Kavanaugh hearings have diverted attention – but we should look for any opportunity to revive the issue.

Sean said that the House is expected to head home for campaigning and won’t be back until after the midterms, so don’t expect any legislation to pass that needs both chambers to act on.

We also talked about protecting the Mueller Trump-Russia investigation, election security, digital privacy, environmental/public health, the war in Yemen, the Farm Bill, workers’ rights, the federal judiciary, tax policy, trade, criminal justice reform, and having a town hall. Sean’s comments on each of those topics were informative and indicated the Senator’s position. As an example, the Farm Bill is in conference and the final version will have to be acceptable to 60 Senators regardless of what the House passed. Another insight: White House Counsel Don McGahn’s imminent departure will force the Administration and Senate Republicans to start from scratch on judicial nominations and will give Senate Democrats a bit of breathing room.

As of November 7, Sean will be the chief of staff for San Francisco Mayor London Breed. As of now, Senator Feinstein has not selected his replacement but he’s hoping that will be resolved shortly. The general feeling from the Indivisible folks was that Sean will be missed.

Read our memo to the Senator.