Tell our MoCs: support Medicare Negotiation legislation

Deadline: NOW! – Unless you’re a magical unicorn who never gets sick, and you’ve never seen any drug ads, you know: Prescription drug prices are crazy high in the United States. It isn’t just anecdotal opinion: they really are much higher in the U.S. than in other high-income countries, and Americans spend more on prescription drugs than residents of other countries. You might think that the government, as the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the world (through Medicare Part D), would use its bargaining power to get lower prices for patients. You’d be wrong: they are not allowed to do that.

Now, the Democrats have introduced the bicameral Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act, a set of bills that would give Medicare the power it needs to effectively negotiate with drug companies and bring drug prices down. In the House, Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced H.R. 1046; as of this writing, Reps. Lee and DeSaulnier have cosponsored it, but Rep. Swalwell has not. In the Senate, Sherrod Brown introduced S. 377; as of this writing, neither Senator nor Feinstein nor Senator Harris has cosponsored.

What you can do:

1. For more information, read Indivisible National’s page about how the bill would work, why arbitration isn’t good enough, and more.

2. Call your Members of Congress and tell them to reject bills that use arbitration to bring down drug prices, and to cosponsor the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act.

What to say to your Representative: 

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  Please reject bills that would use arbitration to bring down drug prices.

  • Do you live in CA-11 or CA-13, represented by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier or Rep. Barbara Lee? Say also: Thank you for cosponsoring H.R. 1046, the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act.
  • Do you live in CA-15 (Rep. Eric Swalwell)? Say also: Please cosponsor H.R. 1046, the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act.
  • 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

What to say to our Senators: 

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  Please reject bills that would use arbitration to bring down drug prices, and cosponsor S. 377, the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act.

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

 

Money tablet” graphic by tOrange.biz 

 

 

 

 

Next Stop Hunger Games?

Deadline: yes, right now – How many things are wrong with this picture? The administration continues to detain migrants and refuse to let them apply for asylum; takes children away from their parents and leaves them in vans in a Texas parking lot for nearly two days; allows the border patrol to confiscate migrant kids’ medicine; and now says there are so many kids in detention it can’t afford to take care of them, so it’s going to cut back on – or just completely cutactivities for unaccompanied children “that are not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety.” That includes things most humane people consider necessary, like legal aid, and others you could make a good case for, like English classes and recreation. Presumably the plan now is to let the kids sit in cages (or vans?) until it’s time for them to go by themselves to court, where they can’t speak or understand the language. Or maybe we’re headed straight for the Hunger Games?

To quote Rep. Barbara Lee:

By defunding English classes and legal aid, this administration is depriving child migrants of tools that are critical for navigating their asylum cases. But cutting recreation on top of that? This is cruelty for cruelty’s sake.

Rep. DeSaulnier has also criticized the administration’s heartless treatment of the children in U.S. custody; and Senator Feinstein has introduced a bill, which Sen. Harris has cosponsored, to protect immigrant children.


What you can do:

Call your Members of Congress NOW and tell them to scream bloody murder about this inhumane treatment of small, defenseless human beings, and to continue to do everything they can as legislators to protect all those crossing our borders.

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 his/her power to keep this administration from spending my money to militarize the border, separate families, and treat migrants in custody inhumanely. The decision to cut services for unaccompanied minors is just the latest outrage. This needs to stop.

  • 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

 

“Abandoned soccer ball at refugee camp”, photo by Max Pixel

Give me an I! Impeachment National Day of Action 6/15

Deadline: RSVP now & join us on June 15 –

​​It’s high time we reclaim all of the positive “I” words we can think of from the dirty, filthy, disgusting UnIndicted Co-conspirator Individual-1! We’ll start with: “Inspiring” “Inclusive” “Indivisible” …  And of course in our current situation these three “I” words: “Investigate” and “Impeachment Inquiry.”

MoveOn and a long list of partners, including By The People, Need To Impeach, Indivisible, March for Truth, Credo Action, and Free Speech For People, are calling for a national day of action on Saturday, June 15, on the specific issue of impeachment. These groups have all concluded it’s time for the House of Representatives to initiate an impeachment inquiry.

What you can do:

  1. Get Inspired and Informed! Join Indivisible East BayAlameda4Impeachment (A4I), and many others at the flagship Bay Area event in Oakland, June 15 at 1 PM outside Representative Barbara Lee’s office at the Ronald Dellums Federal Building at 1301 Clay St. Among many other activities we’ll thank Rep. Lee for being the only Indivisible East Bay representative so far to cosponsor Rep. Tlaib’s H.Res. 257 to open an impeachment inquiry. Got friends outside the Bay Area? Of course you do – please share with everyone you know this link to search for events nationwide.
  2. Read more about impeachment at this article written jointly by Indivisible East Bay and Alameda4Impeachment.
  3. Check out our recent articles for more info and actions you can take NOW:

What to say:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please use the full extent of your oversight and investigative powers to get to the truth and hold Trump accountable, including opening an impeachment inquiry. As Mueller said in his public statement on May 29, only Congress can accuse a sitting president.

[If your Rep. is Mark DeSaulnier or Eric Swalwell, also say: Please do your job and cosponsor House Resolution 257.]

[If your Rep. is Barbara Lee, also say: Thank you for cosponsoring House Resolution 257.]

  • 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

Mueller’s Report IS the smoking gun

Deadline: Yesterday, but if that’s impossible, NOW NOW NOW –

Mueller has spoken, and though his May 29 statement was brief, we’ll paraphrase and boil it down to the main takeaways:

  • The Special Counsel’s Office investigated efforts to interfere in our political system and, subsequently, to obstruct our investigation.
  • Volume 1 of the Report details numerous efforts by Russia to influence our election, and the Trump campaign’s response, as well as the Special Counsel’s conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.
  • Volume 2 describes the results and analysis of our investigation that the president obstructed justice.
  • Because of the Department of Justice policy that a sitting president can’t be charged with a federal crime, we did not make a determination whether Trump committed a crime.
  • However, “if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
  • And “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrong doing.” (In other words: Congress — I did my job, now you do yours.)
  • Finally: “And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.

This article boils it down to ten easy points written in plain english with zero legalese.

Now that Mueller has spoken, it’s clear that his words reinforce what we’ve asked you to do over the past month:

We’re closing out this years-long month of May by asking you to mashup these intertwined actions! Click on the links above to our prior articles for more info and a wide range of actions you can take for each. But if you’ve already read them and want to get going, we’ll channel taciturn Robert Mueller and cut to the chase.

What you must do NOW:  

1. Read the Mueller Report! How to get it for free:

2. Urge your Representative to continue to investigate and to initiate an impeachment inquiry.

What to say: 

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please use the full extent of your oversight and investigative powers to get to the truth and hold Trump accountable, including opening an impeachment inquiry. As Mueller said in his statement, only Congress can accuse a sitting president.

[If your Rep. is Mark DeSaulnier or Eric Swalwell, also say: Please do your job and cosponsor House Resolution 257].

[If your Rep. is Barbara Lee, also say: Thank you for cosponsoring House Resolution 257].

  • 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

Mueller has spoken. Now it’s YOUR turn to speak out!

Supporting Criminal Justice Reform Bills in the California Legislature

By Toni Henle

Action Deadline: today and every day through May 30 –

On May 20, 2019, Indivisible East Bay members joined a large crowd at the State Capitol in Sacramento at the 2019 Quest4Democracy (Q4D) Advocacy Day. Q4D is a statewide coalition of grassroots groups supporting a platform of bills to improve access to employment, housing, and education for all Californians, and to restore civil and human rights for prisoners and the formerly incarcerated. Several of the bills supported by Q4D are on the Indivisible CA StateStrong list of priority bills for this legislative session, including ACA 6-Free the Vote, which would restore voting rights to approximately 50,000 people on parole in California who are currently prohibited by the State Constitution from voting, and AB 392, which clarifies that police should use deadly force only when there are no alternatives and requires de-escalation whenever possible. IEB strongly supports, and has written about, both ACA 6 and AB 392; see below for actions you can take to support these bills with your East Bay assembly members.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The rally had many emotional high points, especially when family members who lost loved ones to police violence, including the mother of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man shot by police in Sacramento, spoke about unjust violence and their horrendous losses and led chants of “Remember their name…” And Assemblymember Rob Bonta, a co-author of ACA 6, said “The right to vote is the greatest anti-recidivism tool that we have.”

Before Lobby Day began, attendees received legislative advocacy training on the general mechanics of the California legislature and the specific bills the coalition is supporting. Then over 100 people spread out inside the Capitol to talk with elected representatives and their staffs in support of proposed legislation, while other supporters made phone calls from outside. IEB members met with groups organizing actions at the event, including All Of Us or None, Initiate Justice, Prisoners with Children, and many others.

IEB interviewed attendee Abdul Haqq Muhammad, Community Outreach Coordinator for Open Gate, an Oakland-based jail-to-college pipeline nonprofit. Muhammad explained that he wanted to make a difference in supporting Free the Vote for the 50,000 people on parole, including himself, who don’t have the right to vote. As he said:

The black and brown community has been sold a bill of goods that their vote doesn’t count, but if it didn’t, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to keep it from so many. If ACA 6 passes, it would give those of us on parole a voice to effect change, instead of the system affecting us. Voting is the first step in being a citizen.

IEB was approached by two young women from UC Riverside with their Underground Scholar Initiative. Bibiana and Jazmin came from the Inland Empire to lobby legislators “to shift the School-to-Prison pipeline to a Prison-to-School pipeline using higher education as an alternative to incarceration through recruitment, retention, and advocacy.” One of them told us that her brother was incarcerated when she was seven years old, and that has had a big impact on her life. We were moved by her personal story and how she was trying to do something meaningful while attending college.

What you can do:

Each legislative chamber must vote on bills and send them to the other chamber by May 31, meaning that floor votes can happen any time from now until then. So call your state assemblymember NOW!

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (AD-15):
    • supported AB 392 in the Public Safety Committee. Call to thank her and ask for her vote for AB 392 on the floor.
    • She doesn’t have a public position on ACA 6 and needs calls asking for her support.
    • District: 510-286-1400; Capitol: 916-319-2015
  • Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (AD 16):
    • supported AB 392 in the Public Safety Committee
    • supports ACA 6
    • Call to thank her and ask her to support both bills on the floor.
    • Capitol (handles legislative calls): 916-319-2016
  • Assemblymember Rob Bonta (AD-18):
    • has not yet taken a position on AB 392 and needs calls to support.
    • Is a co-author of ACA 6; thank him.
    • District: 510-286-1670; Capitol: 916-319-2018
  • Assemblymember Bill Quirk (AD-20):
    • needs calls on both AB 392 and ACA 6.
    • voted “aye” in public safety committee for AB 392; thank him and ask him to do so again in the Assembly.
    • District: 510-583-8818; Capitol: 916-319-2020

What to say:

For AB 392:

My name is ______, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask for (or: thank you for) your support on AB 392. We need this bill to update California’s use of force standard, to make sure that police officers avoid using deadly force whenever there are alternatives available to them. AB 392 is modeled after best practices across the country. This bill will save lives. “Yes” on AB 392!

For ACA 6:

My name is ______, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask for (or: thank you for) your support on ACA 6, the Free the Vote Act. ACA 6 restores the right to vote to about 50,000 Californians who are on parole. Taking away the right to vote from formerly incarcerated people is a form of voter suppression that dates back to Jim Crow laws. People on parole pay taxes; they should be able to vote and be full participants in our communities and democracy. Please vote “Yes” on ACA 6!

If you want to learn more about the work that IEB’s Voter Rights & Election Integrity team is doing, and how you can help, email us at info@IndivisibleEB.org, or join the #voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack.  For an invitation to join Slack, email: info@IndivisibleEB.org

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

Get REAL about education funding & education behind bars

By Elizabeth Douglas

Editors’ note: This piece contains both a powerful first-person narrative and important information about the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act, H.R. 2168 in the House and S.1074 in the Senate, which could provide funding for education for literally hundreds of thousands of prisoners. Please read to the end to find out how you can support this important legislation.


Last week, the Education-Buster-in-Chief
announced that he wanted to “redirect $1.9 billion from a Pell Grant surplus to jumpstart other projects, primarily a NASA initiative to put astronauts back on the moon.” Pell Grants, in brief, are federal government aid for students who need financial assistance for college; and this budget request is not the first time Trump has tried to take away money from poor kids who rely on Pell Grants.

Poor kids like me. I was able to start my college career in large part because of the Pell Grant. The Bachelor’s degree that was mostly Pell Grant-funded provided the path to get my Master’s Degree, and this changed my life. I reflect back on the young woman I was then, determined to get an education, but with no viable means or way to get one. I was incredibly poor, despite 50-60 hour workweeks cobbled together from two different jobs. I had no family support: I left home the day I turned 18 due to several years of abuse from my parents, and became estranged from them for many years. No spousal support, either: I married far too early to someone who was essentially a leech, financially, emotionally, and physically (we later divorced). I was struggling to survive, and I was alone in this struggle.

I decided that I could only afford to take one year between high school and college to save up what little I could to make my education a reality. But that little didn’t cover it, so I applied for the Pell Grant – and got it. I still remember that moment I received my award letter as transcendently joyful and overwhelming. I shed many happy tears. I decided to enter the lowest cost but highest quality college that was close to where I lived; I couldn’t afford to move, and couldn’t afford more than two college application fees. I was lucky enough to be living close to a Junior College with ties to William and Mary in Virginia. The Pell Grant covered both my tuition – a steal at about $900 a semester back in the old-time days of early 2000 – and books for the year. I still had to work insane work hours just to live, but at least I didn’t have to worry about being unable to afford college.

My story is not so different from the millions of students (around 7.1 million, based on the data from 2016-2017) who now receive the Pell Grant. Except now, these students are facing more hurdles, such as the much wider gap between the cost of tuition and the limits of the Federal Pell Grant, as you can see from the chart below from The Pell Institute’s report Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States — 2018 Historical Trend Report. The cap for the 2019–20 award year is a very low $6,195, over fifteen thousand dollars below the average cost of full-time college enrollment – and as the graph shows, the average Pell award is only $3,740, and is likely to stay, thousands below even that low grant cap amount.

Pell Grant article Graph3b1

Thankfully, as in previous years, Congress rejected Trump’s moonshot heist by not giving him one cent of Pell Grant funds. Despite that win, there is an urgent need to protect Pell Grant recipients, and specifically one group of Pell Grant recipients that does not get enough attention: incarcerated individuals. There are no benevolent billionaires that are going to come to their rescue a la Robert F. Smith; no fairy godfather or godmother is stepping up to pay for their education. Yet getting a degree with the assistance of the Pell Grant is an essential way to change the lives of people behind bars and give them the opportunity to succeed and obtain employment post-release (see this Rand report for more details). According to the Department of Education, a recent study by the Vera Institute showed that “incarcerated individuals who participate in prison education programs are 43 percent less likely to return to prison than those who do not.”

On May 21, 2019, Betsy DeVos approved the expansion of the Obama administration’s Second Chance Pell Experiment (formally called the Second Chance Pell Pilot), allowing “up to 12,000 incarcerated individuals to receive Pell Grants in order to pursue a degree or credential.” But this is only a bandaid measure to right the wrongs of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (VCCLEA), a provision of which revoked Pell Grant funding “to any individual who is incarcerated in any federal or state penal institution.” Studies show that “if the ban on federal financial aid for inmates were lifted, about 463,000 prisoners would be eligible for a Pell Grant.”

Now, the bicameral and bipartisan Restoring Education and Learning Act (the REAL Act of 2019), H.R. 2168 in the House and S.1074 in the Senatepaves the way for exactly that. The House bill is already cosponsored by our own Representative Barbara Lee, and has a strong chance of succeeding since, as this NPR article points out, we are seeing a trend toward legislation that rejects the early 90s “tough on crime” era that led to prisoners’ rights to education being diminished in the first place. Our other Members of Congress haven’t signed on yet. If you want to help incarcerated individuals get an education, tell them: Get REAL, co-sponsor and support the REAL Act!

What you can do:

  • If your representative is Barbara Lee (email; 510-763-0370), thank her for cosponsoring H.R. 2168 – REAL Act of 2019.
  • If your representative is Eric Swalwell (email; 510-370-3322) or Mark DeSaulnier (email; 510-620-1000), ask them to cosponsor H.R. 2168 – REAL Act of 2019, and support equity in Pell Grant funding for incarcerated individuals.
  • Ask Senators Feinstein and Harris to cosponsor S. 1074 – REAL Act of 2019, and support equity in Pell Grant funding for incarcerated individuals.
    • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
    • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

 

Image: Equity Indicator graphic

Elizabeth Douglas is a mom, runner, and activist from Alameda. She is also a Climate Reality Leader (Seattle 2017) with a strong interest in protecting our ocean and corals.

 

It’s impeachment inquiry time

Katie Cameron and Nancy Latham contributed to this article

Deadline – ASAP until the House Judiciary Committee launches an impeachment inquiry.

​​With ​Game of ​Thrones ​over, we​’re hoping to watch the final episodes of the (not)Game of (de)Throning the Criminal-in-Chief who Thinks-He’s-King, but is not! We, along with some Democratic House leaders, a majority of the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, the one Republican who has read the Mueller Report, and millions of our fellow citizens, think it’s high time for the House Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment inquiry.

You’re bombarded with news stories, hot takes, and wildly diverse opinions about the “I” word. If you’ve been working for impeachment since inauguration day, or are now convinced from the evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors in the Mueller Report, we’ve got a great list of things you can do. If you’re still debating the need to take action, or want more info, keep reading below our action list.

What you can do now:  

  • Use Indivisible National’s page to urge your representative to cosponsor House Resolution 257, Rep. Tlaib’s resolution which would authorize an impeachment inquiry.
    • UPDATE May 24: Representative Barbara Lee is the first (and so far only) of our East Bay Reps to cosponsor the resolution. If you are Rep. Lee’s constituent, thank her!
    • You can also check out Need to Impeach’s tool to learn where your Member of Congress stands on impeachment (and share it with your out-of-town friends).
    • This May 2 SF Chron article covered Bay Area MoCs’ positions on impeachment.
    • Here are some of our MoCs’ comments: Rep. Swalwell’s tweet; and an interview with Rep. DeSaulnier. 
  • Visit bit.ly/impeachresolution for By the People’s template to send a letter to your representative.
  • Send House Speaker Nancy Pelosi an email using this Need to Impeach tool. Adapt the suggested text to your own personalized message. Send her a tweet expressing your opinion.
  • Tweet to Representative Jerry Nadler, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, urging him to take the lead and start an impeachment inquiry. 
  • Who said political action can’t be joyful and serious at the same time? Join IEB members and thousands of others at Impeach on the Beach, June 1, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Five thousand people (or more) will arrange their bodies to spell out “IMPEACH” in 150-foot-tall letters stretching for 610 feet on Ocean Beach, to be photographed from above. More details and sign up at this link
  • Spread the word! Talking directly to people you know is the most effective way to spark change. Urge friends and relatives, especially those who live in districts represented by Democratic House leaders and Committee Chairs, to contact their Reps, urging an impeachment inquiry. Keep that word “inquiry” in your messages, so people understand you’re not trying to convict without the House investigation. Give them this link to get in touch with their Members of Congress.
  • Join the discussion on the #impeachment channel on IEB’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email info@IndivisibleEB.org
  • Want to work with Alameda4Impeachment (A4I)? Email them for more info: Alameda4Impeachment@gmail.com 
  • We don’t often suggest signing petitions, but it’ll just take a minute – and these, from Need to Impeach, and Free Speech for People, have already proven to be effective.
  • Come to our All Members Meeting on Sunday, May 26, from 1-3 PM at Sports Basement, Berkeley. It’s an informal potluck get-together, and members informed about impeachment will be there.

What else you can do: Read up! 

  • Know the impeachable offenses: Unindicted co-conspirator Individual-1  has committed many impeachable offenses, some in plain sight, only a few of which rely on the Mueller Report  (“Russia, if you are listening…”). See for example Need to Impeach’s list and Lawfare’s article
  • Bone up on the impeachment process. These links help explain what the Constitution says about impeachment, the history of it and how the process works, and FAQs:
    • Robert Reich has this excellent short video on the impeachment process.
    • By The People is a national grassroots action group holding demonstrations in DC. Their website has excellent, easy to read info on impeachment.
    • Need To Impeach, the group Tom Steyer launched in October 2017, has grown to a movement of nearly 8 million people. NTI uses grassroots organizing to mobilize people to demand that Congress begin impeachment proceedings to uncover the full extent of Trump’s lawlessness.
  • Read the Mueller Report, in large part an impeachment inquiry referral to Congress. Or listen to Audible’s free audio recording of the report. For the Cliffs Notes version, check out Lawfareblog’s excellent notes about the Report.
  • Read The Constitution Requires It, by Free Speech For People Legal Director Ron Fein, co-founder and president John Bonifaz, and chair of the board Ben Clements, with a foreword by The Nation’s national affairs correspondent John Nichols. The book lays out information on impeachment clearly and concisely. And listen to The Constitution is Clear: Impeachment Hearings Now, authoritarian scholar Sarah Kendzior’s Gaslit Nation podcast interview of Bonifaz.

More info: the Whens, Whys, Hows & Whats of impeachment

When? Impeachment talk right now feels like a modern day Goldilocks & the Three Bears, with some people saying “Too soon!” others “Too late!” and the rest “Now!”

  • In the first category we most notably find House Speaker Pelosi and some other House leadership members, who say we need more investigations and more witnesses and more evidence.
  • In the second are those who think we already lost the “window.” According to them, we’re now too close to the 2020 elections and we should just settle it at the ballot box.
  • The third category includes those who’ve been on board all along or have recently reached the tipping point. This large group includes Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, who wrote To End a Presidency, the Power of Impeachment, which cautioned against impeachment, but who is now calling for hearings after the release of the Mueller report. Also in the “Now!” group: members of Congress angered by stonewalling over ignored subpoenas and worse, and some of the 900+ former federal prosecutors who signed onto a statement saying they believe Trump’s conduct as described in the Mueller Report would result in multiple felony obstruction of justice charges for any other person.

Why?

  • For one, as those former federal prosecutors put their reputations on the line to publicly state, the Mueller Report describes numerous acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge, conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming. And, as we used to say to people who complained that the Mueller investigation was taking too long – he keeps committing crimes!
  • In addition, even if it’s unlikely that 45 will be removed from office, we can’t stand by while he shreds the Constitution and damages our democratic institutions. 

How & What?

  • Short answer: Impeachable offenses, impeachment inquiry, articles of impeachment, voting in House, trial in Senate. Sometimes people think impeachment means removal from office, but that happens only if the Senate votes to convict. Bill Clinton was impeached in the House, and acquitted in the Senate.
  • Longer answer:
    • Impeachment doesn’t begin as a foregone conclusion. It begins with an investigation opened by the House Judiciary Committee.
    • Second, the impeachment inquiry can be done quickly or slowly, to accommodate the election season.
    • Third, we believe a well-organized review of Trump’s impeachable offenses won’t hurt Democrats – it would rather be compelling television, informing the public of every high crime and misdemeanor.
    • Fourth, if the Republican dominated Senate refuses to convict, the voters can “convict” at the ballot box, armed with evidence from the House inquiry.
    • Finally, for those who worry about Pence becoming #46, the failure of the Senate to convict resolves that concern, and the investigation may entangle Pence in some of the offenses.

There’s a spectrum of pressure we can put on our electeds, depending in part on our own decisions about how to proceed. The point is that we should NOT sit idly by and say “Wait for 2020” – and you, dear IEB member, can choose to pressure for impeachment or impeachment-adjacent actions – whatever feels right to you. Whether or not we succeed in launching an impeachment inquiry, whether or not that inquiry helps end the Trump nightmare, our actions matter. Bear witness. Go on the record. Stand up and be counted at what could be the most important moral and legal turning point in our lifetimes. 

 

Katie Cameron is a founding member of Alameda4Impeachment. She spent her career in state government in Washington State, and now devotes most of her time to defeating the Trump administration and the corrupt forces that got him elected.

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.

Imp Peach Mint photo: Indivisible San Francisco’s Master Steve Rapport 

Charter law reform: Get Buffy and Becky on Board

By Emily Filloy

Deadline:  Immediate and ongoing –

Four charter law reform bills currently are moving through the California legislature: AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and SB 756 would stop rampant charter school proliferation that comes at the expense of public schools and local control. All are supported by East Bay representatives Assemblymember Rob Bonta and State Senator Nancy Skinner. But our newly elected Assemblymembers, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (AD-16) and Buffy WIcks (AD-15) are still on the fence. Wicks ran as a strong supporter of public schools, but the charter school issue was a point of contention during the election, and she hasn’t committed to common-sense reforms that will at least give our democratically governed public schools a fighting chance against the billionaire-backed privatizers. We need to push Rebecca and Buffy off the fence!

Two actions are needed:

  1. If your Assemblymember is Buffy Wicks or Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, contact her to urge her to support the charter reform package. Read on for more info on the bills, a call script, and contact info.
  2. Sign and circulate the CharterLawReform.com petition. This petition demands four fundamental changes to state charter law that would go a long way to leveling the playing field. The beauty of this petition is that when you enter your address, it automatically sends your state reps a notice that you support their efforts to reform the Charter School Act.

We previously asked for your support for this package of bills. Things have evolved—read on for the latest:

AB 1505—Our Dream Bill: AB 1505 and 1508 were combined to create one bill that would enact the most needed reforms. AB 1505 now allows districts to deny a charter petition if the new charter school would have a negative fiscal, academic, or facilities impact on the district. It also eliminates charter operators’ ability to appeal to the county and then the State Board of Education if a district says no. These two reforms recognize the adverse impact charters have in heavily targeted cities and also return local control to our school districts. The bill has passed out of the Assembly Education Committee and is now in the Appropriations Committee, where we expect a decision on May 16. If it passes out of Appropriations, 1505 will go to the Assembly for a floor vote. It will be highly contested.

AB 1506 would impose a cap at the number of charters operating statewide—1,323 right now—and a new charter could only open if one closes. The bill also establishes a cap in each individual district. The bill has passed out of the Assembly Education Committee and is now in the Appropriations Committee, where we expect a decision on May 16. If it passes out of Appropriations, 1506 will go to the Assembly for a floor vote. It will be highly contested.

AB 1507 would end the ability of a district to authorize a charter school and then place it in another district. The bill has passed out of the Assembly Education Committee.

SB 756 would establish a 5-year moratorium on all new charters statewide unless the reforms in the three bills above are enacted before 2020. The bill has passed out of the Senate Education Committee.

What You Can Do:

1. If your Assemblymember is Buffy Wicks or Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, please tell her to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and SB 756.

What to Say:

My name is___________.  My zip code is_________. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging Assemblymember _____  to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and SB 756. This package of bills is essential to holding charter schools accountable to local communities and ensuring that charter proliferation won’t destabilize another school district. Can I count on Assemblymember _____ to support these bills?

  • Buffy Wicks: 510-286-1400; email
  • Rebecca Bauer-Kahan: 925-328-1515; email

2. Sign and circulate the CharterLawReform.com petition.

 

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.

Save California from fracking

Action deadline: comments on Draft Supplemental EIS due June 10, 2019 –

“Land management”: the words have such a nice ring to them, as if nice things will happen to, you know, the land. But if the Despoiler-in-Chief gets his way, more than a million acres of California lands could soon be subject to oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

On April 27, 2019, Trump’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) intended to open up public lands and mineral estates in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern, and six other California counties to oil companies. Some of the targeted parcels are owned by the BLM; in other cases, BLM owns the underlying mineral rights. After a 45-day public comment period, the EIS will be finalized and BLM can auction off the drilling rights to these parcels for as little as $2.00 per acre.

The parcels on the chopping block include some of the wildest and most pristine areas along the Central Coast and Central Valley – lands in and around national parks, national monuments, and national forests, as well as state and local parks and preserves. Many are in areas of critical environmental concern. A picture is worth much more than our description – take a look at this interactive map posted by Los Padres ForestWatch, showing the areas that may be open for oil drilling and fracking leases and their relationship to environmentally sensitive areas. Neighboring cities, schools and farms will also be impacted.

We need to stop this before irreparable damage is done. Submit your comments online here by June 10, 2019! Read on for instructions, talking points, and more information:

What to do:

Comment now! The 45-day public comment period ends on June 10, 2019. Submit your comments online here. (If you comment online, you must fill in all boxes with red asterisks and you have a 60 minute time limit. Once you have finished with one screen, click the “Next” button in the lower right corner; the last screen will have a “Submit” button in that location.) Or you can submit comments by mail to this address:

Bakersfield Field Office, Attn: Bakersfield RMP Hydraulic Fracturing Analysis
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA  93308

What to write:

Here are some suggested comments; please personalize what you write, because copied & pasted comments or overly similar comments may be grouped together and not counted separately. Some of these comments have been adapted from the comprehensive letter from California’s environmental and natural resources agencies responding to the BLM’s initial notice of intent related to the lease sales of federal lands in California, which you can read here.

  • Opening up new public lands to fracking and other fossil fuel extraction methods is contrary to California’s commitment to building a sustainable future without reliance on fossil fuels.
    • California has a statutory target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and a plan to reduce petroleum consumption by 45 percent by 2030 to meet this target.
    • We need environmentally and economically sound energy strategies focused on the development of renewable energy sources.
    • Why despoil our environment to extract a resource we have decided to move away from?
  • Fracking involves the use of toxic and poorly understood chemicals.
    • These toxic chemicals get into the groundwater, especially in California, where fracking operations are dangerously shallow.
    • Our communities, waterways, wildlife, and outdoor economy will all be put at risk.
  • Let’s not open our beautiful public lands to fracking and drilling.
    • Let’s not sacrifice our health, wildlife and climate to profit the oil and gas industry.
    • In a state where water is so precious — to agriculture, human populations, and wildlife — clean water is worth more than oil.

More info:

Fracking is an extreme oil extraction process that involves injecting chemicals and fluids at high pressure underground to access oil or natural gas. Environmentalists are concerned that fracking can contaminate groundwater and increase the risk of seismic activity. The public lands in question here sit over groundwater that supplies neighboring areas with water for agricultural and human uses. In addition, geologic conditions and hydraulic fracturing practices in California makes fracking particularly hazardous – fracking in this state occurs at unusually shallow depths, which heightens concerns about groundwater contamination and other environmental impacts.

The draft EIS is the latest step in Trump’s efforts to eliminate environmental protections and facilitate fracking on federally controlled lands. As you may recall, one of the administration’s first actions after the inauguration was to rescind Obama-era fracking regulations. As Senator Kamala Harris put it:

Under this administration, California’s beautiful public lands and its outdoor economy are under direct threat, and we must stand up against this active effort to chip away at vital environmental protections.

The proposed action would end a five year moratorium on leasing federal land to oil companies in California. No federal lands in the state have been subject to such leases since 2013, when a federal judge found that the BLM violated environmental laws by issuing oil leases in Monterey County without fully considering the environmental impact of fracking.

The supplemental EIS is the result of a lawsuit filed in the US District Court, Central District of California by Earthjustice, representing the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch, challenging BLM’s California oil leasing plan. In 2016, the judge found that BLM ignored the impacts of fracking in its original environmental studies and, in 2017, BLM agreed to produce a supplemental EIS analyzing the potential environmental effects of fracking.

You can find more information from the Los Padres ForestWatch.

 

Busting the obstructors

Deadline: right NOW and until they stop –

UPDATE May 6: House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler has initiated a resolution to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt of congress for failing to submit the full Mueller Report and underlying evidence.

The Obstructor-in-Chief, fearing his “presidency” will be forked if the truth comes out about his abuses of power and other wrongdoing, is heaping new obstructive conduct atop his and his cronies’ sky-high stonewall pile. After the Barr-redacted Mueller Report revealed a road map for House Democrats to investigate wrongdoing by 45 and his criminal gang, the administration’s obstruction zoomed into overdrive: they’re preventing witnesses from testifying, fighting subpoenas, ignoring document requests, filing lawsuits, and more! Speaker Nancy Pelosi lays it out in her May 1 memo, titled (caps in original!): “TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OBSTRUCTION: UNPRECEDENTED, UNWARRANTED, UNCONSTITUTIONAL.”

What to do:

As Democrats, including the House Committees trying to perform constitutionally mandated oversight grapple with this unprecedented obstruction, we need to let our Members of Congress know they must not blink first or bow to pressure. We also need to urge them to use every possible tool to fight the roadblocks, and at the same time to keep following every possible path to investigate. Finally, we need to let them know we have their backs, because they will surely hear from the other side! Keep reading below the call script for a list of some obstruction-busting tools you can mention when you call.

What to say: 

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I fully support the Democrats in investigating Trump and the administration’s abuses of power. Please use all possible tools such as [SEE BELOW FOR LIST] to fight the obstruction and keep investigating.

  • 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

In the Toolbox:

Representative Elijah Cummings, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, speaking on April 30 about threats of non-compliance by former White House Personnel Security Director Carl Kline, who was in charge of the security-clearance process and now works at the Defense Department, said:

We will do everything in our power to enforce our subpoena. I refuse to be in a situation where we are unable to use every tool that we have in our toolbox to do that.

Democrats are using some of these options, and weighing others. Mention one or two of them when you call your Member of Congress:

  • Subpoenas 
  • Fines
  • Imprisonment
  • Criminal contempt of congress
  • Cut appropriations to departments that aren’t complying
  • Refuse to pay salaries of officials

Road block sign, photo © Alex Grichenko