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We see through Barr’s “transparency”

Deadline: hair on fire right now – Attorney General William “Cover Up” Barr delayed releasing his redacted version of Special Counsel Mueller’s 300+ page report for nearly a month after he got it. (See Indivisible East Bay’s text searchable version of the pdf). This served Individual-1 and also served two purposes: Barr wants to bury the report by dropping it the day before a long holiday weekend while Congress is in recess; and he and the administration had nearly a month to spin and lie to control public perception about the investigation’s findings. Oh yeah, and he dropped it after holding another head-spinning publicity stunt, oh we mean press conference, about Mueller’s report … but without (wait for it) Robert Mueller.

After constant demands from Congress that Barr release the full report and underlying investigation materials (thanks to your calls and nationwide Trump Is Not Above the Law protests), Barr said he’d redact “sensitive” materials from the report and release the rest. That’s NOT enough — we know Barr can’t be trusted! He’s left a paper trail, like the audition memo he wrote to get his AG gig. And there’s his history of summarizing and redacting important documents. In 1989 Barr summarized a legal opinion that led to the FBI abducting Panama’s leader, General Manuel Noriega. Only after Congress subpoenaed the legal opinion was it revealed that Barr’s summary did not fully disclose the opinion’s principal conclusions. Déjà vu all over again?

In Winston Churchill’s words, this is just the end of the beginning. Congress now has a version of the report, but it must continue to push to get the FULL report and all underlying investigatory evidence. Barr also put his heavy thumb on the scale, improperly making the determination that the evidence did not establish Trump obstructed justice. This is NOT Barr’s determination to make – Congress must move ahead and redouble its investigations to hold Trump and his cronies accountable.

What to do:

1. Call your Members of Congress, now and every day.

Yes, you need to call even when your MoCs have taken good positions on an issue – the other side is calling, and you need to make your voice heard!

What to say:

My name is _______, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  I want _______ to do everything in their power to demand that AG Barr immediately give the full, unredacted Mueller report and all evidence to Congress. Also, I support the Democrats’ investigations to hold Trump accountable, and want them to expand the investigations to follow up on all evidence in the Mueller report.

2. Spread the word on social media!

See Indivisible National’s April 18 statement, and then try out their nifty new tool to create and upload a short video clip expressing your opinion.

More info & background

To find out more, and learn what actions we’ve been taking for over a year, read our past articles:

 

Tax the Rich!

By Nancy Latham

Of the many reasons you’re an activist, chances are that this country’s lack of economic justice is on the list. We have an economy that works extremely well for those at the very top, works well for the top 10%, and really fails the bottom 90%. There are several ways to look at it, and they’re all appalling. There’s income inequality: in 2017, the average income for the bottom 90% was $35,628, while the average for the top 1% was almost $1.4 million. Wealth inequality is if anything more shocking: in 2016, three men – Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett – had more wealth than the bottom 50% of the entire population. And the top 5% owned two-thirds of the wealth in the United States. And there’s the real world: in 2016, the Federal Reserve found in a survey that about half of Americans would not have $400 to pay for an emergency like a car breaking down or an unexpected medical bill.

And there are so many more outrageous statistics about our economy. Does this make you angry? Meet the Tax March Organization. Tax March is an advocacy nonprofit that sprang up in 2017 with the grassroots Tax Day March that demanded that Trump release his tax returns; they also spearheaded the Not One Penny coalition that fought against the tax scam bill that Republicans shoved through Congress later that year.

Now, Tax March is launching a new campaign to Tax the Rich! On April 13 and 14, 2019, Tax March brought together 75 activists from all over the country to learn more about our wildly unfair tax code, and how – together – we can fight back. Taxing the rich will reduce inequality and help us pay for programs that support the common good, such as the Green New Deal, affordable college, universal health coverage, universal childcare, and more.

Activists Gathered for the Tax the Rich Training, photo by Nancy Latham
Activists gathered for the Tax the Rich training, photo by Nancy Latham

Just as importantly, taxing the rich is good for democracy. Highly concentrated wealth puts power in the hands of the few, distorting our political system as policy-makers respond to the rich donor class rather than to ordinary Americans. And in fact, we saw this in action with the tax scam itself: although the so-called reform legislation was deeply unpopular, it passed anyway. Was it just a coincidence that rich donors made it really clear they wanted the bill, even issuing threats like “Get it done or don’t ever call me again”? You decide …

Our Tax Code is Bad for Democracy
Our Tax Code is Bad for Democracy

At the Tax March training we learned about digital organizing, media strategies, shifting the public narrative, educating voters, and answering tough questions. I came back more fired up than ever to start unrigging the economy! And now, I’m inviting you to join. There will be regular calls with grassroots activists as we push the tax debate to the center of the political stage. If you are interested, reach out to me at nancylatham63@gmail.com, or if you’re on the IEB Slack platform, you can direct message me at @nancylatham and join the #economic_justice channel.

Taxing the rich is fair, and it is right. See you on the front lines, fighting for economic justice.

Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governance Committee, and is a passionate member of the Resistance. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.

Photos by Nancy Latham

We the People

Two houses. Three days. Eight candidates. Sixteen Indivisible group leaders. 416,818 paths to a Democratic victory in 2020.

Our allies at Indivisible National in D.C. are part of a coalition including the Communication Workers of America, Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) Action, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Sierra Club, SEIU, and 32BJ SEIU. Together these groups aim to bring grassroots organizers and activists to the table to help choose our next Democratic presidential nominee. 

To that end, Indivisible National reached out to sixteen group leaders from Texas, Nevada, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Iowa, Virginia, and, of course, California. We were invited to spend three days together in D.C., living in two multistory rental houses and attending workshops and candidate forums. The theme of the event was democracy expansion — free and fair elections and pro-democracy reforms of all three branches of government.

Day one was described as activist training, but was really a call to arms from Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, plus some group discussions at our tables with members of other coalition partners. Rev. Dr. Barber invited us to join the Poor People’s Campaign. Then he spoke about the history of democracy expansion, from the Declaration of Independence to the Reconstruction Amendments to the Voting Rights Act, and also about the Supreme Court’s continued history of reversing democracy expansion. He challenged us not just to fight for the presidency, but to strive for what Coretta Scott King, in her moving Solidarity Day Address, called “not right vs. left, but violence vs. non-violence” — and to fight even for our right to self-government.

Day two: Rev. Dr. Barber was a hard act for the eight presidential candidates to follow during the seven hour forum at the historic (and very gilded) Warner Theater. The candidates took the stage one at a time to give a short pitch and answer audience questions (including questions from several Indivisible representatives) about voting rights, the filibuster, judicial reform, campaign finance reform, etc.

You can watch a recap and nearly the whole thing; here are a few highlights that stuck out to me:

  • Seeing our own Leah, representing this young but mighty organization we built together, take the stage with powerhouses like Planned Parenthood, NAACP, SEIU, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
  • Julian Castro’s story of how he quit his job as a lawyer and put his financial future at risk in order to avoid conflicts of interest on the San Antonio City Council.
  • Cory Booker saying we don’t need to eliminate the filibuster if we just elect a supermajority of Democrats instead, and almost inspiring us with his oratory to believe it.
  • Elizabeth Warren declaring that we must amend the Constitution to give everyone the right to vote, and the right to have their vote counted.
  • Beto O’Rourke introducing his plan to require each member of his cabinet to hold monthly town halls and hear directly from constituents like us.
  • Amy Klobuchar boasting about the fundraising record she holds: most money raised from ex-boyfriends.
  • Bernie Sanders getting BY FAR the loudest cheers — and no line for the restroom during his speech (nothing against Bernie, just being practical).
  • Jay Inslee living up to his reputation by bringing literally every question back to climate change.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand bringing up the rules change the Republicans were just then getting ready to go nuclear on to turn the Senate into a rubber stamp for judges. 
  • Hearing the inspiring personal stories of the questioners who are starting unions, teaching children, standing up to injustice, and protecting their communities all over the country.

Over dinner, Indivisible group leaders and staff discussed our impressions of the candidates. There was some general agreement: people were particularly impressed with Warren and surprised at how funny Klobuchar is in person. But it was most interesting to hear how experiences differed: some thought Booker was showboating while others were moved to tears, and some found Inslee charming while to others he came across as insincere.

Despite a lot of jokes about reality TV and “confessional videos” we didn’t really spend enough time at the shared houses to get in any drama or much bonding — we all went straight to bed (as far as I know!) and were up and out early for our final day at Indivisible Headquarters.

Day three: After loading up on some decadent breakfast tacos, we got started with a presentation from Indivisible National’s political data manager Olivia Robinson on Indivisible’s tactics for winning elections: expand and protect voting, build a coalition, and motivate core voters. She also talked about how various demographic groups sort into the categories of base voters, swayable voters, and opposed voters; and about the many (up to 416,818!) possible combinations of states we could use to win. You can find a lot more detail in her presentation, but the main takeaway was: don’t believe anyone who tries to tell us that there is only one path to victory or only one kind of “electable” candidate.

Next we heard from associate political director Lucy Solomon about Indivisible’s experience working with local groups to nationally endorse Congressional candidates, using as examples the campaigns of Ayanna Pressley in MA, Andrew Gillum in FL, and Harley Rouda here in CA. As it happened, several of the group leaders involved in those endorsements were in attendance. It was especially interesting to hear the story of how the Indivisible endorsement put Gillum on the map, as well as the division it caused within Indivisible groups throughout the state. Since for various reasons Indivisible East Bay never really considered getting involved in any statewide races, it was fascinating to hear the inside story of how our highest hopes and worst fears around endorsements both played out in the same race.

Then policy director Angel Padilla spoke about some of the legislative priorities Indivisible National is pushing in Congress right now. Though it is unlikely to be signed into law until 2021 at earliest, we talked about building support for H.R.1 – For the People Act of 2019 — and just how far Congressional Democrats, and we ourselves as activists, would be willing to go to force this democracy expansion bill through. Angel’s presentation is here if you scroll down to the bottom.

The final item on our agenda was a media training from consultants who shared tips about everything from how to craft and stay on message to what to wear. A webinar version of the training will be available soon.

In summary: We learned a lot. At this point all the candidates and their talking points have started to run together in my mind; but I expect that over the next 11 months, as I work with others at Indivisible East Bay to figure out how we want to engage in the primary in a way that makes both the candidates and our group better, I’ll benefit from having heard them answer the questions of that room full of grassroots leaders about the fundamentals of our democracy.

That said, I think the most lasting effect from this trip for me is the in-person connections I made with people from across the country whom I would never have met if not for this movement. It was delightful to meet the D.C. union organizer knocking on doors and working on a series of nursery rhymes about the evils of the GOP. It was inspirational to meet the Texan who got kicked out of a Ted Cruz event — and he followed her out to keep arguing! Heartening to meet the Floridian whose events our volunteers had texted to recruit volunteers for — when I told her I was from Indivisible East Bay she remembered that immediately and told me how much it meant to her that we had reached out. I tried to tell her that giving us concrete tasks we could do in swing states was as much a favor to us as our texting was to them, but she wouldn’t hear of it.

These are the moments that make me believe that we are building more than a winning coalition — another blue wave — more even than a movement. We are building an inclusive and expansive community of people who care for one another and work for one another — and that’s how we’ll build a better world.

 

Meeting with Feinstein staff March 2019

Indivisible East Bay met with Senator Feinstein’s state director Jim Lazarus and returning field representative Caitlin Meyer on March 14 in the senator’s San Francisco office. You can see our detailed pre-meeting memo here.

Our smaller-than-average delegation covered a lot of topics:

Climate Change: We told Jim that beyond the in-person interaction the senator had with young students in her office, we are disappointed that Sen. Feinstein — who we used to see leading on protecting our environment and addressing climate change — was dismissing this exciting new movement of energized youth activists by calling their ideas unrealistic. We asked her to support the Green New Deal resolution. We suggested that she doesn’t need to agree with every detail of their approach in order to celebrate their contributions and build up momentum to see how far this movement can take us toward our shared goal of a sustainable future. Jim said that he thought this perceived conflict was really mostly a communication issue and would be resolved as we move toward actual climate legislation. For example, the senator is currently working on carbon pricing legislation, which is not part of the current Green New Deal proposal but could complement it as part of the final legislation.

Immigration: We followed up on our repeated request that Sen. Feinstein visit the southern border and immigration detention facilities throughout the state — she says she wants to, but still has not — and we asked her to prioritize getting more funding in place for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghan allies. There is a current backlog of 16,700 SIV-eligible individuals, including family members, and 4,400 applications are currently pending. In FY 2018, only 1,649 visas were issued, down from 4,120 in FY 2017.

Public banking: We asked the Senator to support public banking in California. Jim said it was an area that he hadn’t had many discussions with her about, but that he knew she supported local, accessible banking options like credit unions. He also expressed skepticism that public banking was the solution to the cannabis industry’s banking problems.

Census: We were glad to hear that Sen. Feinstein and her office have been very much on top of getting ready to make sure her constituents are all counted in the census. Caitlin told us that the office has been in touch with the Alameda County Complete Count Committee. We have a lot of hard to count populations here in the East Bay, such as immigrants and unhoused people.

And more: We also asked the Senator to:

  • work to fund desperately needed food stamps in Puerto Rico — she finally did the right thing on this after pressure from Sen. Schumer
  • cosponsor the EACH Woman Act (reproductive rights)
  • cosponsor The American Family Act (child allowance)—she hasn’t yet
  • hold a Town Hall—she seems as unlikely as ever to do so.

 

A Matter of Life, Death, and the Rule of Law

Somewhere in Northern Mexico, an exhausted nine-year-old girl stumbles. She’s traveling with her maternal grandmother, her legal guardian since her mother died, but they don’t have a paper explaining that, so if they are separated at the border, she will never be reunited with her family. She’s already walked 1,100 miles, but she’s still hundreds of miles away from the U.S. border and finding out what trauma awaits her there.

But the administration isn’t satisfied with baby jails, toddlers separated from parents and forced to appear alone in court, or families who, the administration now says, won’t be sufficiently ID’ed to be reunited for two years. On April 7, Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) resigned at the request of the Baby-Jailer-in-Chief. Kevin McAleenan, whom Trump tapped for acting Secretary, has a terrible record. As head of Customs and Border Protection, McAleenan defended his agency’s use of tear gas on children and families. He also repeatedly broke the law to implement Trump’s travel ban, and ignored the death of a seven year-old girl in CBP custody in his Congressional testimony. In a broad purge, Trump also forced the resignations of the head of the Secret Service, the director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the DHS General Counsel, and the DHS undersecretary for management, and withdrew his nominated Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying he wanted the agency to go in a “tougher” direction. It’s hard to imagine what that could even be, in a civilized country.

What to do:

Trump will nominate a replacement DHS Secretary who will need Senate approval. Tell our Senators, NOW: Don’t approve anyone with a history of promoting, tolerating, or overlooking human rights abuses of any kind. We need someone far better than Nielsen — not someone even worse! Senator Kamala Harris was the first Senator to call for Nielsen to resign in a July 2018 statement, and she continues to speak out strongly against the family separation policy, including tweeting on April 8: “The next DHS Secretary must unequivocally denounce this abusive policy. We deserve better.” Senator Dianne Feinstein, however, has only expressed sympathy for the “thankless” task performed by Nielsen and the “hope” that McAleenan will be “able to propose and implement more sensible, humane and bipartisan solutions to the problems we face” — a hope that appears to have no foundation in reality.

What to say:

For Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator Harris for speaking out against the family separation policy that former DHS Secretary Nielsen oversaw. I hope that when the nominee for Nielsen’s replacement is in confirmation hearings, Senator Harris will do everything possible to prevent the confirmation of anyone with a history of promoting, tolerating, or overlooking human rights abuses of any kind. We need someone far better than Nielsen — not someone even worse!

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

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m concerned that Senator Feinstein has spoken sympathetically about former DHS Secretary Nielsen and Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan, and hasn’t spoken out about the abuses they have perpetrated. I hope that when the nominee for Nielsen’s replacement is in confirmation hearings, Senator Feinstein will do everything possible to prevent the confirmation of anyone with a history of promoting, tolerating, or overlooking human rights abuses of any kind. We need someone far better than Nielsen — not someone even worse!

More info:

Kirstjen Nielsen presided over implementation of the administration’s April 2018 “zero tolerance policy” to deter migrants, separating families and caging the children to deter others from seeking asylum. She then lied to Congress about it, saying, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” Thousands of children have been separated from their parents, and the government has missed several court-imposed deadlines for reuniting families, conceding that it has failed to keep records and claiming that as a result it may take over two years to reunite them—or will never reunite them, in the case of refugees traveling with legal guardians.

After public outcry and a series of adverse court decisions, the zero-tolerance policy was rescinded by executive order, but family separations have continued. Even more troubling, because refugees keep coming, the Scofflaw-in-Chief now wants immigration officials to stop following U.S. statutes and court orders and instead to close the southern borders to asylum—or to close it entirely, to everyone, with the resulting enormous economic disruption. At the border recently, he instructed agents to refuse to follow court orders and to say instead, “sorry, Judge, I can’t do it.” He reportedly fired Nielsen because she opposed his requested actions as counterproductive and against the law and applicable court orders.

The new DHS Secretary must be required to commit to follow — and must actually follow — applicable statutes and court orders, not just the whims of the President. By the time she reaches our borders, it would be good if the nine-year-old Guatemalan girl still found a country with the rule of law.

Photograph: “Women Disobey protest against US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy separating children and families at the US/Mexico border,” copyright Sarahmirk

Fight hunger: support AB 1022

We recently reported about the Administration’s attempt to take food out of the mouths of the poor via an executive order limiting food aid benefits to just three months for unemployed and underemployed individuals without dependent children. Now East Bay Assemblymember Buffy Wicks has introduced AB 1022, which would provide a state funded nutrition benefit for CalFresh recipients subject to this three month time limit. The bill is part of a package of bills to reduce food insecurity among Californians. Indivisible East Bay wrote a letter in support of AB 1022. Please thank Assemblymember Wicks, and ask your state reps to support this bill. It shouldn’t be necessary, but it’s crucial.

AB 1022 creates the California Anti-Hunger Response and Employment Training (CARET) program, which would provide state funded nutrition benefits to people found ineligible for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as a result of inflexible three month time limits imposed by the federal government – limits that could expose up to 570,000 Californians to hunger without helping them get decent paying jobs. Shockingly, the United States Department of Agriculture reports that people likely to be cut off by the three month limit have average monthly incomes of approximately 17% of the federal poverty level and typically qualify for no other income support.

What to do:

Contact your Assemblymember, and the Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee, in support of AB 1022; and if you’re a constituent of Buffy Wicks (see map of Assembly District 15), thank her.

Find your Assemblymember here.

What to say:

To Buffy Wicks (510-286-1400; email):

My name is ______, my zip code is _______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for introducing AB 1022. I’m disgusted at the way the federal government is cutting food aid to people who need it. California needs to step in to fight hunger for the people of this state.

To your Assemblymember, if you aren’t represented by Buffy Wicks:

My name is ______, my zip code is _______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling in support of AB 1022. I’m disgusted at the way the federal government is cutting food aid to people who need it. California needs to step in to fight hunger for the people of this state. I hope Assemblymember ______ will do everything possible to make AB 1022 law and support hunger prevention and employment training in California.

To Eloise Gomez Reyes, Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee (916-319-2047; email):

My name is ______ and I’m calling in support of AB 1022. I’m disgusted at the way the federal government is cutting food aid to people who need it. California needs to step in to fight hunger for the people of this state. I hope Assemblymember Reyes will do everything possible to make sure AB 1022 passes the Assembly Human Services Committee and becomes law.

 

 

 

 

Coffee and Conversation with Rep. Lee

By Rosemary Jordan

Members of Indivisible East Bay and Alameda4Impeachment (A4I) attended the April 7, 2019 Coffee and Conversation event with Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) at Paulista Restaurant in Oakland.

We passed out copies of the Open Letter to Representative Lee that A4I’s leadership had published in the previous week’s Alameda Sun newspaper. During Q&A, Lee responded to one of our member’s questions by committing to meet with us to discuss the topics raised in our letter, including next steps to launch an impeachment investigation. Addressing something Lee said about the likelihood of Senate approval, another member pointed out that a roll call of GOP Senators in the face of overwhelming evidence of misconduct could be very helpful to Democrats. He also stressed that in any case, if we don’t hold this President accountable, we will be putting our democracy in jeopardy forever.

At the event a lively group of Oaklanders, including teachers, students, and Poor People’s Campaign representatives asked great questions about climate change, education funding, the escalation of tensions in Venezuela – and more. Representative Lee affirmed her commitment to peace and justice, with specific references to Black women’s health, the Green New Deal, reparations, and reduced defense spending.

Photo of Rep. Barbara Lee at Coffee & Conversation by Rosemary Jordan

Rosemary Jordan is Co-Founder of Alameda4Impeachment, a registered Indivisible group and a partner in the Citizens Impeachment Coalition, which includes representatives of cities, towns and counties nationwide (including four in the East Bay) that have passed local Impeachment resolutions. Rosemary also serves on the Steering Committee of All Rise Alameda and is co-leader of the End The Tampon Tax In California campaign. She has over 20 years of professional experience in healthcare and aging.

 

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

East Bay rallies: Release the Report!

Rosemary Jordan and Katie Cameron contributed to this article

Thousands of people nationwide at more than 300 events on April 4 took to the streets to send a LOUD & CLEAR message to Attorney General William “Cover-up” Barr that we demand the immediate release of the full Mueller report and all supporting evidence. The previous night’s news that some of Mueller’s investigators believed Barr’s brief letter misrepresented their findings, and that the findings were more troubling for Trump than Barr stated, energized our resolve for full and immediate disclosure.

Indivisible East Bay members joined several local protests, and several IEB’ers organized the events in El Cerrito and Alameda.

El Cerrito Shows Up to Demand: Release the Full Report Now!

By Heidi Rand

Nearly 200 people waved signs, chanted, and got rousing honks and fists raised in solidarity from rush-hour drivers at a busy intersection in El Cerrito. IEB member George read Chair Adam Schiff’s “I Don’t Think It’s Okay” speech as a very moving call and response. Schiff’s statement was a fiery retort to calls for him to resign by GOP members of the Intelligence Committee.

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People from West County, Berkeley, Richmond and beyond lined all four corners of the intersection; many arrived with signs made at home, some created their masterpieces on the spot. Favorites included: We Want Action, Not Redaction!; We Demand the Truth!; What is Trump Afraid Of?; None Of This Is Okay!; Corrupt, Compromised, Immoral & Unpatriotic; We paid for it!; Not Exonerated!; No Cover Up; and Barr: Show Us Your Papers!

See more wonderful photos of the El Cerrito event by Mary DeShaw, a volunteer photographer with Pro Bono Photography.

 

Alameda Island Joins National Demands For Release of Mueller Report


By Katie Cameron

Joining nation-wide rallies to pressure for release the Mueller report, several local organizations held a rally in front of Alameda City Hall on April 4. About fifty people attended, including members of MoveOn, Indivisible East Bay, All Rise Alameda, and Alameda4Impeachment. Rosemary Jordan, representing all of those organizations, convened the rally.

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Jordan kicked it off by summarizing recent developments: the completion of the Mueller report two weeks ago; the peculiar distillation of the report into four pages written and released by Attorney General Barr; the subsequent declaration of full exoneration by Donald Trump; and the Constitutional crisis we face as the report remains hidden from even Congressional view. “This is yet another case of obstruction of justice – this time by the Attorney General,” Rosemary pointed out.

Following her remarks, Ed Hilton with guitar treated the rally to some folk songs, including “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” and “I Once Was a Union Maid.” Katie Cameron led the crowd in chants provided by MoveOn, to an enthusiastic roar of response. Quite a few attendees stepped up to the mic to give their own short remarks on the state of things – some sad, some angry, and some delightfully humorous.

One attendee read aloud portions of Rep. Adam Schiff’s now-famous statement to his Republican colleagues itemizing a long series of presidential infractions, with the refrain: You might think that’s okay. I don’t!

To cap off the participation, Kitty Von Braskat-Crowe, attired in gorgeous purple hues, stepped away from her walker and belted out an amazing rendition of an old gospel song from the Civil Rights days. She was most definitely the star of the show!

Alameda protest photo by Katie Cameron
Rosemary Jordan held the megaphone while Kitty Von Braskat-Crowe belted out a Civil Right gospel song. Ed Hilton sat behind on the steps, with guitar. Photo by Katie Cameron

To wrap up the rally, Assemblymember Rob Bonta (AD 18) gave us all words of encouragement and hope. He made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that he shares our concerns about the Mueller report, the behavior of the President, and the importance of the Rule of Law. In the late afternoon chill, the crowd had dwindled a bit, but Bonta didn’t care a bit. He spoke with passion, and thanked every one of us for standing up for the Constitution.

Whether or not you made it to one of the protests, there’s much you can do! Public pressure is working, and we must keep it up. All of our Members of Congress have spoken out strongly on this issue, BUT THEY STILL NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU – they are hearing from the other side, and if you don’t call they won’t know that you support them and that this issue is important to you!

What you can do NOW: 

  • Tell your Members of Congress that we demand transparency and complete disclosure of the Special Counsel’s report and investigation. Every day that passes without the full truth, Individual-1 and his minions continue to use the self-serving Barr letter to target and try to silence the people who are speaking out and investigating him. Take action, and keep reading below the call to action for more info & background.

What to say:

My name is ______________, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank _________ for supporting disclosing the Special Counsel’s report to the American people. I want _______ to insist that Attorney General Barr immediately give the full Special Counsel’s report and all underlying investigatory materials to Congress. The full report and materials also have to be made public. I also want Congress to continue investigating Trump beyond the scope of the Mueller investigation.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • 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

 

For more info & background, and to learn what actions we’ve been taking for over a year, read our past articles:

 

Katie Cameron is a member of the Steering Committee of Alameda4Impeachment. A retired social worker who spent her career in state government in Washington State, Katie now devotes most of her time to defeating the Trump administration and the corrupt forces that got him elected.

Rosemary Jordan is Co-Founder of Alameda4Impeachment, a registered Indivisible group and a partner in the Citizens Impeachment Coalition, which includes representatives of cities, towns and counties nationwide (including four in the East Bay) that have passed local Impeachment resolutions. Rosemary also serves on the Steering Committee of All Rise Alameda and is co-leader of the End The Tampon Tax In California campaign. She has over 20 years of professional experience in healthcare and aging.

El Cerrito event slideshow photos by Heidi Rand

IEB Members Gear up to Engage in the Democratic Primary

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By Nancy Latham

It’s a ways yet before the Democratic presidential primaries start, but the candidates — and possible candidates — are talking about serious ideas. Whatever you may think of the various individuals, it’s exciting to see their bold proposals, like Medicare for All (Bernie Sanders), a wealth tax and universal childcare (Elizabeth Warren), baby bonds to close the wealth gap (Cory Booker), and spending $315 billion over the next 10 years to dramatically increase teacher salaries (Kamala Harris).

The way we see it, candidates are responding to an activist base that’s pushing for policies that truly measure up to the nation’s challenges. And Indivisible East Bay and other Indivisible groups across the country are part of that activist base. For two years we’ve been building our people power; now, as the primaries get closer, we’re determined to use that power to influence the policy debate.

Indivisible National is developing its strategy for engaging in the primary, and as step one they sent a survey to Indivisible groups nationwide on a variety of topics concerning policy issues and campaigns. We want National to know what our members think, which means we want to hear from you!

To gather input from IEB members, we began by focusing on three key questions from the survey at our March All Members Meeting:

  1. What issues are most important to us as we consider whom to support in the primary?
  2. In what ways does our group want to engage campaigns during the primary?
  3. What are our initial thoughts about the possibility that Indivisible National might endorse a candidate?

To tackle these questions, Governance Committee members facilitated small group discussions of 5-6 people each. The questions sparked lively conversation that lasted over an hour (and involved the liberal use of sticky notes and dot-voting). Here are the results of the three discussions:

QUESTION 1: What issues are most important to us as we consider whom to support in the primary?

Issues on the Indivisible National List (ordered by how the groups prioritized them):

Highest Priority:

  • Environment
  • Democracy (voting rights, election security, campaign finance reform, ethics in government)
  • Healthcare
  • Judicial nominations

Important:

  • Civil Rights (racial justice, LGBTQ rights, gender equity, criminal justice)
  • Gun violence prevention
  • Immigration
  • Abortion Access
  • Financial regulation
  • Tax policy
  • College affordability
  • Foreign policy and national security

Back Burner:

  • Transportation and infrastructure

Additional Issues Suggested in Small Groups:

  • Constitutional process and reform
  • Green New Deal, including transportation, infrastructure, environmental issues
  • Climate change
  • More resources for people being detained at our borders: better beds, meals, shelter
  • Post-secondary school and job opportunity support for all (not just four-year college)
  • Wealth disparity
  • Housing
  • Online/data privacy

QUESTION 2: In what ways does our group want to engage campaigns during the primary?

Engagement Options from Indivisible National (ordered by number of votes across the three small groups):

  • Ensuring the grassroots are invited to debates (11)
  • Issue forums and large grassroots mobilizations (9)
  • Channels of communication from national and local Indivisibles to candidates (8)
  • Organizing for key statewide Democratic conventions (5)
  • Candidates joining indivisible national activist calls (4) (All three groups pointed out that this is a specific example of “channels of communication”)
  • Training programs for the primary process (3)
  • Organizing Indivisible planning spaces or events to power map our opportunities (2)
  • Bird-dogging (2)

Additional Ideas for Engagement Suggested in Small Groups:

  • Candidate questionnaires
  • White papers developed by local groups
  • IEB media contact
  • IEB partners with campaigns

QUESTION 3: What are our initial thoughts about the possibility that Indivisible National might endorse a candidate?

To address this topic, we asked people to vote on two simple poll questions.

Poll Question 1: How should Indivisible National approach the question of endorsements in the presidential primary? (Ordered by number of votes)

  • Wait a few months to collect more data and see how things unfold before making any plans (12)
  • Take endorsements completely off the table (2)
  • Start work now on a thoughtful and careful process intended to end in an endorsement, but only if sufficient unity is found (1)

Poll Question 2: It’s still early. But at this stage, what do you think is the best path forward for endorsement?

1 = I think Indivisible National should definitely NOT endorse (2)

2 = I’m leaning against endorsement (9)

3 = I can’t decide whether they should endorse or not (2)

4 = I’m leaning toward endorsement (1)

5 = I think Indivisible National should definitely endorse (1)

Average Rating = 2.3 (which roughly equates to “leaning against”)

We want to hear from you, too! If you couldn’t make it to the All Member Meeting, it’s not too late to share your input! Here’s a link to a survey with the questions that we addressed at the March meeting. All responses submitted by the deadline of April 10 will be aggregated (along with the results of the AMM discussions) and shared as part of IEB’s survey response to Indivisible National.

And this is not the last chance we’ll have to consider how we flex our activist muscle to push for progressive policy! It’s still 19 months until the election. Stay tuned for more lively debate, and even livelier action.

 

Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governance Committee, and is a passionate member of the Resistance. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.