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.

 

 

 

 

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

Urgent – Support AB 392, Reform Police Use of Deadly Force

Action Deadline: Monday, April 8, 2019 –

Last month, we wrote about a pair of bills concerning police use of deadly force now making their way through the California state legislature. Indivisible East Bay supports AB 392, which would provide real reform to address the serious problem of unnecessary police use of deadly force that kills and injures too many people – especially young men of color – in our state. AB 392 is coming up for a vote in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, April 9. That means we need you to act NOW. Especially important: Assemblymember Bill Quirk (Hayward) is on the Public Safety Committee; we are hearing that he is flipflopping and has recently been parroting talking points from law enforcement’s competing, toothless bill. He needs to hear from us! Assemblymember Buffy Wicks is also on the committee and is expected to support the bill, but also needs to her from her constituents.

What to do:

If you are a constituent of Assemblymember Quirk (here’s his district map) or Assemblymember Wicks (here’s her district map):

  • Call your Assemblymember and ask him/her to support AB 392. Here’s a sample call script:

    My name is __________, my zip code is ______, I’m a constituent of Assemblymember ________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask Assemblymember _________ to support AB 392. We need to change California’s policy for police use of deadly force. Too many people, mostly young men of color, are killed at the hands of police every year. We need justice in the form of a tougher, better standard for use of force. AB 392 is a commonsense measure and its recommended policy has been proven to reduce killings. Can I count on Assemblymember ___________ to vote YES on AB 392 in the Assembly Public Safety Committee?

Assemblymember Quirk (916) 319-2020; Assemblymember Wicks (510) 990-5350

@AsmBillQuirk, I’m your constituent and a member of @indivisibleeb. I support #AB392 to reform the standard for police use of force and save lives. Can I count on you to vote YES on #AB392 in the Asm. Public Safety Cmte on April 9?

Release the full Mueller report

Deadline: ASAP and every day until the complete report is released –

Update Monday April 1: The national Trump Is Not Above the Law coalition is moving forward with the #ReleaseTheReport day of action on this April 4. If you haven’t already, find and RSVP to attend a Nobody Is Above the Law rapid response rally near you. You’ll get info and alerts if/when a response is called by your local organizers. 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller finished his report, which we finally learned is nearly 400 pages long, not including tables and appendices, but Congress still hasn’t seen the full report with underlying documentation, and neither have we! Attorney General William Barr’s March 24 four-page summary is a Cliffs Notes version that raises more questions than it answers.

Democrats are pushing hard for complete disclosure. Six lead House Democratic chairs of committees that are investigating 45 and his cronies for abuses of power gave Barr until April 2 to deliver the full Mueller Report to Congress. Barr told them on March 29 that he’ll miss that deadline, but expects to release a redacted public report by mid-April. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler is standing firm by the April 2 deadline. We didn’t fall for Barr’s first whitewash, and we won’t accept the Cover-up Attorney General’s scrubbed version — we stand with Chair Nadler and the Democrats: Congress must get the full Special Counsel’s report and all underlying investigatory evidence, and the public must see everything, with only very narrowly drawn redactions.

What to do:

  • Find and RSVP to attend a Nobody Is Above the Law rapid response rally near you. You’ll get info and alerts if/when a response is called
  • No local protest? Sign up to host one. And spread the word by sending the link to everyone you know
  • 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:

Also, see Indivisible National’s updated webpage, and their informational article, and sign MoveOn’s Pledge to Mobilize.

Indivisible East Bay members and fellow activists got rousing honks and fists raised in solidarity from drivers at the March 27 El Cerrito Shows Up, where we waved signs and talked to passers-by about our demands that the full Special Counsel report be released to the public! If a rapid response event is called, we’ll meet at the same location. You can RSVP for the El Cerrito event here.

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Photos by Heidi Rand

Save our healthcare, save our lives

Deadline: Do it now! – Our healthcare is under attack by the GOP, again — or to be accurate — STILL!

In December 2018, the trial court in Texas v. US, a lawsuit brought in February 2018 by several states’ conservative Attorneys General, ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act is invalid. That’s bad, but it’s just a single trial court. The case is now on appeal to the powerful Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where on March 25, 2019 the Department of Justice agreed, urging the appeals court to strike down the entire ACA. That’s scary, but it gets worse: the DOJ’s reversal of its position was apparently taken over the objections of its own Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and those of Attorney General William Barr.

This is of course just the administration’s latest try to kill the ACA (and many many of us, along with it) — but it’s a doozy. As Indivisible National says:

This is the Trump administration’s clearest attempt yet, not just to sabotage, but to completely annihilate the ACA — and in doing so, unleash chaos on our health care system and on millions of Americans lives.

We’re pissed. And we know you are too.

→ It would jeopardize Medicaid expansion in 37 states.
→ It would end protections for preexisting conditions.
→ It would end coverage for young people who’d otherwise be able to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.
→ It would end required coverage of preventive care — like cancer screenings, vaccines, birth control, blood pressure tests and more.

And so, so much more.

You’ve fought for the ACA and sane healthcare policies before. It’s time to join the battle again!

What you can do:

  • Learn more about the legal case in Indivisible’s article
  • Thank California Attorney General Xavier Becerra – he’s one of the state AGs defending the ACA in Texas v. US, and he has announced that he and other AGs will appeal the district court’s ruling striking down the ACA to the Fifth Circuit.
    • Attorney General Xavier Becerra:  (email);  (800) 953-5335 [select English or Spanish, then press 0]
  • Thank your Representative for cosponsoring Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (WA-07) Medicare for All Act (H.R. 1384), and ask them to continue to speak out publicly and to do all they can to support the ACA and to reform our health care system to guarantee health care coverage for all. For more info about the Act, read Indivisible’s article
  • Thank Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris for speaking out, and ask them to continue to do all they can to support the ACA and to reform our health care system to guarantee health care coverage for all
  • Watch for a bill House Democrats unveiled on March 26, the Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions & Making Health Care More Affordable Act, which Leader Pelosi said “lowers health care insurance premiums, stops junk plans, strengthens protections for pre-existing conditions and reverses the GOP health care sabotage.” She also commented, about the DOJ’s position in the Texas v. US lawsuit: “.. . . [T]he Department of Justice becomes the Department of Injustice when it wants to tear down health care benefits.  Because as Dr. King said, ‘people could die’ – people could die.”

Call now!

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841; 1 Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco CA 94104
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553; 333 Bush Street, Suite 3225, San Francisco CA 94104
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095; 440 Civic Center Plaza, 2nd Floor, Richmond, CA 94804
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661; 1301 Clay Street #1000N, Oakland CA 94612
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065; 3615 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94546

We demand the truth

Deadline: ASAP –

See our latest article, updated on March 30

Update March 28: Special Counsel Robert Mueller completed his report, but Congress hasn’t seen the full report with underlying documentation yet and neither have we.  Attorney General William Barr delivered his supplemental letter, a highly truncated summary of the Special Counsel’s report on March 24, but the letter raises more questions than it answers. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer’s joint statement in response said, in part:

Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the Committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise. …  The American people have a right to know.

On March 26 the DOJ reported that Barr will make a “version” of the report public in weeks. We’re not buying it! We didn’t fall for Barr’s first whitewash, his four-page Cliffs Notes letter, and we won’t accept any “version” Trump’s Cover-up Attorney General is selling, other than the full Special Counsel’s report.

We have a right to know: we demand to see the full report, and all underlying investigatory materials not subject to legitimate privilege. Every day that passes without the full truth, Individual-1 and his minions will 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 you can do:

1. Tell your Members of Congress that we the people demand transparency and complete disclosure of the Special Counsel’s report and investigation. 

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

2. What else you can do:

Even though the report is complete, there’s still a danger that we’ll need to mobilize. Some of the original red lines that would trigger a mass protest are still in place, and particularly important are these new ones added in September 2018:

[A protest would be set in motion if:] The Mueller investigation releases findings showing significant wrongdoing by Donald Trump. Or Congress or the administration blocks the public from seeing Mueller’s findings.

  • Find and RSVP to attend a Nobody Is Above the Law rapid response rally near you (900+ events are pre-registered in case a response is called). Attorney General William Barr has until Tuesday, April 2, to send the full Mueller Report to Congress. That’s the deadline set this week by six House committee chairs, after which they’ll consider Barr to be non-compliant and will issue a subpoena. We’ll know by the following morning, Wednesday, whether he has met that deadline or is refusing to make it public. If Barr misses the deadline to make the Mueller report public, shielding the Trump administration from public accountability, the Nobody Is Above the Law rapid-response network will likely be activated on Wednesday morning, calling for a national day of action the following day, THURSDAY, APRIL 4, at 5 p.m. local time.
  • No local rally? Sign up to host one. And spread the word by sending the link to everyone you know
  • Sign MoveOn’s Pledge to Mobilize
  • See Indivisible National’s updated webpage, and their informational article

 

More info & background:

On March 22, Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report on the Trump-Russia investigation to Attorney General William Barr. Barr has committed to transparency, but it’s up to us to make sure Barr forwards the complete, original Special Counsel’s report and all underlying investigatory documents to Congress. And after Congress receives the materials, they must be made public, with appropriate redactions for legitimate national security reasons.

Democrats are speaking out, and demanding full disclosure. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer put out a joint statement calling for Barr to make the full report public, and to provide the underlying documentation to Congress. Our Representatives had already voted for disclosure: on March 14, 2019 the House passed, by a vote of  420-0 (yes, that’s a ZERO), a resolution calling on the Department of Justice to make the special counsel’s findings and full report public and available to Congress. Our own CA-11 Representative Mark DeSaulnier led the debate on H. Con. Res 208. Our Senators both spoke out in favor of disclosure, but Republicans blocked a vote on the bill in the Senate.

In addition, shortly after news about the report hit, DeSaulnier posted a tweet, ” … The AG should send the report to Congress expeditiously & abide by Congressional intent to make the findings public. The American people deserve transparency & accountability.” And Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted: “Show us the report. Now. The American people spoke loudly, and clearly last November: we choose a balance of power over abuse of power.  Representative Barbara Lee also spoke out.

In an email statement, Senator Kamala Harris said: “You have my commitment that I will not rest until the truth is delivered publicly and in full.” She included a petition, which reads: “Americans deserve to know the truth now that the Mueller report is complete. The report must be released immediately and Attorney General Barr must publicly testify under oath about the investigation’s findings. We need total transparency here.” Senator Dianne Feinstein has previously spoken out strongly in favor of release.

While we mobilize to make sure the complete report isn’t hidden from Congress, or us, we should prepare to understand what it’s likely to have in it. AG Barr and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein have indicated that the Special Counsel’s report probably won’t touch on anyone who hasn’t already been indicted. And since the Department of Justice may be following its policy that a sitting president may not be indicted (there’s disagreement about that), Mueller’s report likely won’t include information detailing criminal wrongdoing by Individual-1. He’ll call that a win, but — it hardly needs saying — don’t believe him: this just means that his wrongdoing can’t be detailed in Mueller’s summary of his investigation. All the more reason that we need Barr to disclose all of the underlying investigatory documents, to ensure 45 is held fully accountable. Barr himself has said that the place for the president to be held accountable is in Congress; thus, Congress must get the entire Mueller report and investigatory materials. The White House has been stonewalling the House Democrats’ investigations, so we must continue to support our Representatives who are standing up in their search for the truth.

For more historical background, and to learn what actions we’ve been taking for over a year, read our past articles in reverse chronological order:

Support AB 857, Public Banking

By Sylvia Chi

Deadline: now and ongoing –

In recent years, a lot more people have started thinking about who’s running their banks, and who’s profiting – and whether they’re the ones who are losing. Now, California Assembly Bill 857 proposes to allow local governments to apply for a banking license from the state, so cities, counties, or regions could establish their own public banks. The legislation is sponsored by the California Public Banking Alliance (CPBA), a statewide coalition of grassroots advocates representing areas ranging from San Diego to Eureka, as well as Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Beneficial State Foundation, and Friends of the Earth. The East Bay is home to CPBA member Public Bank East Bay (formerly Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland), one of the pioneers of the public banking movement in the United States, and we’re calling on our state legislators to sign on as co-authors of this bill. Scroll down to see what you can do to help!

In short, a public bank is one that’s owned by a government, accountable to the public, and managed by professional bankers. (For a longer description, check out Wikipedia.) In the US, the main example of a public bank is the Bank of North Dakota (BND), a state-owned institution founded in 1919 that holds state and other public deposits. BND functions mainly as a bankers’ bank, partnering with local community banks and credit unions to issue loans. It has few retail functions, but its partnership with local financial institutions makes North Dakota home to one of the most robust local banking sectors in the country.

AB 857 would allow local governments in California to create their own versions of BND, strengthening our local financial institutions and keeping our public money in the local economy. Currently, Wall Street banks are the only option for banking services for most local governments. These banks enjoy record profits and anticipate regulatory rollbacks. But why should our communities support them, since they profit from financing and enabling precisely the same fossil fuels, private prisons, destruction of communities, and other reprehensible activities that our communities are actively fighting? Public banks can be a much-needed alternative to the mega-banks, help counteract the risky trend towards bank consolidation, and serve as a source of strength for local economies. They can even help finance the projects proposed in the Green New Deal.

Public banking is possible right here in the East Bay. The city councils of Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond, together with the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, authorized a feasibility study for a regional public bank, which reached positive conclusions. After reviewing the study, the Finance and Management Committee of Oakland City Council voted to forward the study to the full City Council, which accepted it. The next step toward creating a public bank for the East Bay is to develop a business plan and apply for a license – which doesn’t exist yet. We need AB 857 to pass so the East Bay can move forward on creating our own local public bank.

AB 857 is gaining support in the state legislature, but the East Bay’s representatives haven’t yet signed on. Let them know you want them to support and co-author AB 857!

What you can do:

Ask your state senator and assemblymember to commit to co-authoring and supporting AB 857. If you don’t know who your state representatives are, enter your address here to find out.

What to say:

My name is _______, I’m a constituent, and I am a member of Indivisible East Bay. I support public banking as a way to strengthen the local economy. We need to pass AB 857 so the East Bay can move forward on creating our own local public bank. A public bank can help the East Bay by providing low-interest loans for underserved small businesses and affordable-housing developers, and for building needed public infrastructure. Please co-author and support AB 857.

  • Senator Nancy Skinner (email) 510-286-1333 (district) or 916-651-4009 (Capitol)
  • Assemblymember Rob Bonta (email) 510-286-1670 (district) or 916-319-2018 (Capitol)
  • Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (email) 510-286-1400 (district) or 916-319-2015 (Capitol)

 

Sylvia Chi is a member of Public Bank East Bay and legislative chair of the California Public Banking Alliance.

Sign on! Petition and bills to reform charter school laws

By Emily Filloy

Deadline: Now and ongoing –

Are you sick and tired of billionaires backing charter schools, while public schools scramble to pay teachers a living wage?

The proliferation of charter schools and the disastrous effect they have on our public schools was brought to the public’s attention in the recent Los Angeles and Oakland teachers strikes. In the Oakland Unified School District alone, charters cost the district $57 million a year—plenty to give the teachers the raise they need. Now that former Governor Jerry Brown is no longer blocking the road to any charter law reform, legislators have proposed a package of reform bills that would give Oakland, LA, and other heavily charter-impacted districts some much-needed relief.

We need you to do two things:

  • First, contact your Assemblymember and State Senator in support of these four bills: AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508. Read on for more info, a call script and contact info.
  • Second, sign the CharterLawReform.com petition. This petition demands five fundamental changes to state charter law that would go a long way to leveling the playing field. Once the playing field gets leveled, the billionaires creep back under the rocks they crawled out from. When you sign, this petition will automatically send your state reps a notice that you want them to reform the Charter School Act.

Background:

Throughout Jerry Brown’s tenure as governor, he refused to sign almost all charter reform legislation, even bills requiring charter schools to follow the Brown Act and other sunshine and anti-conflict of interest legislation. Now, Governor Newsom has already signed SB 126, dealing with oversight of charter schools! We know that if we can get reform bills passed, Newsom will sign them; but to do that, we need to keep pressure on the legislature. The charter industry is rich and powerful – spending billions to elect pro-charter legislators and school boards and to fight reform legislation. We citizens need to let our reps know that selling out our public schools to privatizers is not okay.

Right now, this package of four bills would reform laws that currently favor charter schools over public schools throughout California:

  • AB 1505 would make the decision of a local school board to deny a charter petition final. Currently, if a local school board denies a charter petition, the operator may appeal first to the county and then to the state. Like bad parenting—if mom says no, try dad.
  • AB 1506 would impose a cap on the number of new charters, allowing a new charter to open only if an existing one closes.
  • AB 1507 would end the ability of a district to authorize a charter school and then place it in another district. Yes, that happens.
  • AB 1508, introduced by East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta and coauthored by Senator Nancy Skinner, expresses the intent to allow school districts to take into account the fiscal, academic, and facilities impacts of a proposed charter on the district schools where it is to be located. This means that a school board can say, “No, we can’t afford yet another charter school.” Combined with AB 1505, which eliminates appeals, this would allow local school districts to once again have control over the number and location of its schools.

What you can do:

 Sign the petition: CharterLawReform.com

 Contact your state representative in support of AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508.

Contact the members of the Assembly Education Committee, where these bills will be heard:

Spread the word!

What to say:

For your local representatives:

My name is___________. My zip code is_________. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging Assemblymember/Senator __________ to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508.  This package of bills will begin to hold charter schools accountable to local communities and ensure that charter proliferation won’t destabilize another school district. Can I count on Assemblymember/Senator ________ to support these bills?

For members of the Education Committee:

My name is ________. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging you, as a member of the Education Committee, to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508. This package of bills will begin to hold charter schools accountable to local communities and ensure that charter proliferation won’t destabilize another school district. Can I count on Assemblymember/Senator ________ to support these bills?

 

Emily Filloy is a retired OUSD teacher whose grown children are graduates of Oakland Unified School District. She and other educators started Educators for Democratic Schools to fight for the survival of public education.

 

Override Trump’s veto

Deadline: now and until Tuesday March 26 – 

Trump’s February 15, 2019 declaration of a national emergency to build a wall is a flagrant attack on our democracy: an illegal, anti-democratic power grab that plays directly to his racist base. On February 26 the House passed H.J. Res. 46, a joint resolution to terminate the national emergency, by a vote of 245 to 182. On March 14 the Senate also passed it, 59 to 41, with Republican Senators Alexander, Blunt, Collins, Lee, Moran, Murkowski, Paul, Portman, Romney, Rubio, Toomey, and Wicker voting with the Democrats. All of our Members of Congress voted in favor.

Trump vetoed the Joint Resolution on March 15. The House is scheduled to hold a veto override vote on March 26; a two-thirds majority is needed for it to pass.

What you can do NOW: 

Thank your Members of Congress for voting YES on the joint resolution, and tell them to:

  • Vote to override the veto (the House votes first, and the Senate will only vote if the House overrides). 
  • Sponsor and support the Protecting Disaster Relief Funds Act, companion bills in the Senate and House that would prohibit Trump from taking funds granted to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the Army Corps of Engineers in recent appropriations, and using those funds to build a physical barrier on the border. Senator Harris is an original cosponsor of S 534; please thank her, and ask Senator Feinstein to sign on. As of March 19 none of our East Bay reps has cosponsored the House bill, HR 1214; ask your Representative to sign on.

What to say:

For Representatives DeSaulnier, Lee and Swalwell:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for voting for the Joint Resolution to terminate Trump’s unconstitutional emergency declaration. I want Representative ______ to vote to override Trump’s veto, and also to cosponsor House Bill 1214, the Protecting Disaster Relief Funds Act. 

For Senator Harris:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank the senator for cosponsoring Senate Bill 534, the Protecting Disaster Relief Funds Act, and for voting for the Joint Resolution to terminate Trump’s unconstitutional emergency declaration. If the House votes to override the veto, I want the senator to vote to override it in the Senate. 

For Senator Feinstein:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank the senator for voting for the Joint Resolution to terminate Trump’s unconstitutional emergency declaration. If the House votes to override the veto, I want her to vote to override it in the Senate. I’d also like the senator to cosponsor Senate Bill 534, the Protecting Disaster Relief Funds Act.

  • 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

ALSO! Spread the word to everyone you know, especially if they have GOP Members of Congress. Send them this article, and if they need it, point to this handy link with contact info for their MoCs.

Read our prior articles for background: