No Drilling on Mt. Diablo

Action deadline: Comments on Proposed Resource Management Plan and Final EIS due June 9, 2019 –

This administration has a track record of sacrificing priceless public lands for the benefit of private oil and gas extraction, as shown by their efforts around the country and in California. They’re at it again — and this time, it’s right here.

On May 9, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management Central Coast Field Office released a Proposed Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement to open up 725,000 acres of land in California for new oil and gas leasing. Public land that would be open for drilling includes areas in and around Mount Diablo State Park and in Butano State Park near Pescadero.

The Center for Biological Diversity writes that oil development along the Central Coast could involve fracking, and this resource management plan ends a six-year moratorium on leasing public lands to oil and gas extraction. An official with the California agency that oversees drilling has claimed that it’s unlikely any drilling would actually take place in the Bay Area, due to current pricing and supply, and because California has stringent regulations, but ANY possibility of new fossil fuel extraction is too much. The Center for Biological Diversity has criticized this plan due to the potential for drilling throughout the East Bay and along the Central Coast.

We need to stop this before irreparable damage is doneSubmit your comments using this form on the BLM website by June 9, 2019! Read on for instructions, talking points, and more information:

What to do:

Comment now! The 30-day public comment period ends on Sunday June 9, 2019. Submit your comments on on the BLM site here. When you comment online, you have a 60 minute time limit within which you must fill in all boxes with red asterisks on all pages (you don’t need to fill in the “Chapter Reference” or “Section Reference” boxes on the first page). Once you’ve 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:

BLM Director (210)
Attention: Protest Coordinator, WO-210
P.O. Box 71383
Washington, DC 20024-1383

After you’re done, tell your friends, family, and neighbors. Not everyone is as active as you, our wonderful Indivisible members, but when something is local, it’s a great way to get others motivated to act. This plan is largely flying under the radar, but with your help we can get a strong local grassroots opposition. Share the link to this article with them!

What to write:

Here are some suggested comments; please personalize what you write, because copied and pasted comments or overly similar comments may be grouped together and not counted separately. Some of these sample comments have been adapted from the joint comment letter from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club responding to the draft EIS, which can be found on page I-71 in the comments and responses here — click ctrl+f and in the search box, type I-71 (that’s a capital letter “I”).

  • Many of the lands included in this plan would require fracking in order to extract oil and gas. 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.
  • The development scenario used to determine the environmental impacts is a low-end assumption that does not take into account technological improvements that may lower the costs or uncertainty in drilling within the East Bay or Central Coast. This masks the potential environmental costs of more intense fossil fuel extraction.
  • Opening up new public lands to fossil fuel extraction 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?
  • The climate crisis requires swift and immediate action. The extraction and burning of fossil fuels will worsen this crisis, contrary to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which mandates that the BLM manage public lands “without permanent impairment of the productivity of the land and the quality of the environment.” The only way to avoid permanent impacts to the quality of our environment from the climate crisis is to keep proven fossil fuels in the ground.
  • Our beautiful public lands are a precious resource that deserve to be protected. Destroying our natural landscapes cannot be easily undone, and the wider, long-term effects even less so. We must 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.

There’s more you can do! In our recent article we told you how to leave comments opposing the BLM’s draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that would open up public lands and mineral estates in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern, and six other California counties to oil companies. Comments are due June 10, so there’s still time.

 

Fantasy Landscape, photograph of Mount Diablo by Richard Conlon 

A light at the end of the tunnel of endless war

Deadline: Now through June (at least) –

Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to the defense spending bill, proposed by Representative Barbara Lee, that would repeal the 2001 Authorization for Military Force (AUMF). The AUMF, first passed in 2001, gave the President the power to use military force without prior Congressional approval, but only in response to attacks deemed directly or indirectly responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since then it’s mushroomed in frankly terrifying ways: see our previous posts on the AUMF and our own Representative Barbara Lee’s years-long efforts to repeal it. And now the Administration has threatened to invoke the AUMF as justification for starting a war with Iran without consulting Congress.

We are so thankful for and and proud of Rep. Lee, and hopeful that we may actually see an end to the endless wars that we’ve been involved in. But first, that spending bill needs to pass the full House of Representatives, and the Senate.

What you can do:

  • If your Representative is Barbara Lee (email; 510-763-0370): thank her for her tireless opposition to war and support of checks on the Executive branch.
  • If your Representative is Eric Swalwell (email; 510-370-3322) or Mark DeSaulnier (email; 510-620-1000): ask them to voice their support for the AUMF repeal, and to vote for the defense spending bill with the AUMF repeal when it comes to the floor of the House.
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (email; 415-393-0707) is a senior member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, so start calling her now to make a statement in favor of repealing the AUMF and commit to voting for it in committee.
  • Senator Kamala Harris (email; 415-981-9369) will not vote until (and unless) the bill comes to the Senate floor, but we can start asking her now to make a statement in favor of repealing the AUMF and to commit to voting for it.

Remind all of our legislators that it is past time to end this conflict; and it is more urgent now than ever, as the present administration is intent upon prolonging, expanding and intensifying this never ending war. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen!

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 

Building Teams to Secure Our Elections

Haleh S contributed to this article

A webinar presented by the Secure Elections Network titled “Elections Officials: Building a Team to Secure Our Elections” on May 19 at 5 PM, will feature speaker Tina Barton, an election security advocate and the City Clerk of Rochester Hills, Michigan. In her presentation, “Building Networks/Working Together to Build Election Security,” Barton will describe her community work and ideas for creating a team of election officials and advocates to secure the 2020 elections.

Barton was appointed to Michigan’s Election Security Commission by the MI Secretary of State. The Commission, the first of its kind, was created in March 2019 to help boost voter confidence, increase turnout, and secure the integrity of elections against known and future threats such as hacking. Barton also oversaw Michigan’s first risk limiting audit pilot project after the 2018 midterm elections.

The Secure Elections Network (SEN) is made up of leaders and members of several Indivisible groups nationwide, including Indivisible East Bay. For more info about the webinar, email stephanie.chaplin20@gmail.com. You can watch SEN’s past webinars here. And read our articles about prior SEN webinars: Ballot Marking Devices 101 and Indivisible Webinar to Secure Our Elections

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

Haleh S. is an Engineer turned Lawyer, turned Activist

Alameda 4 Impeachment’s May meeting with Rep. Lee

By Katie Cameron

Members of Alameda4Impeachment (A4I), including Indivisible East Bay members, visited Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) on May 3, 2019 to discuss pressing forward with impeachment. The group asked her to support House Resolution 257, which would authorize an impeachment inquiry. Read A4I’s follow-up letter to Lee, summarizing their discussion.

What you can do now:  

 

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.

Featured photo of Katie Cameron, Rep. Barbara Lee, Lynn LaRocca, Ken Cameron, and Leslie Walsh, © Jain Thapa

Meeting with Rep. DeSaulnier, who isn’t running for President

By Ted Landau and Ted Lam

Three Indivisible chapters met with CA-11 Representative Mark DeSaulnier on April 23 before his Town Hall at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill. He was accompanied by Aaron Silver, a member of his staff. Indivisible East Bay was represented by Ted, Ted, and Edwin; Indivisible Resisters was represented by Gwynne; and Cora represented Indivisible Central Contra Costa County (I4C). We kicked off the meeting by congratulating Rep. DeSaulnier for being one of the few Democrats not running for president, which made him and Aaron laugh.

We covered five major topics: infrastructure, whistleblower protection, Department of Defense oversight, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the Mueller Report. You can read IEB’s pre-meeting memorandum here.

Infrastructure

The big hope for infrastructure is to reach an agreement with the White House, but DeSaulnier remains skeptical about prospects for this. A seemingly insurmountable stumbling block is the GOP’s refusal to talk about funding sources for any proposal, because of their party’s pledge not to raise taxes.

DeSaulnier mentioned that we need to provide incentives for “smart mobility and smart growth,” but noted that Senator McConnell will likely block in the Senate any bill that the House produces. He also said that the vehicle mileage tax is a good alternative to a gas tax, and that he could support it either individually or a combination of the two. Along the lines of smart and green infrastructure, DeSaulnier said he was rooting for Tesla to be successful. He believes that U.S. car companies, and the Chinese, have the incentive to beat Tesla to mass produce a viable electric car.

We discussed PG&E as an example of a utility company with the problem of being a “hybrid company” with too much emphasis on generating profits. He would like us to move away from this model, if possible.

Whistleblower Protection

DeSaulnier agreed that whistleblower protection is important. We reminded him that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross claimed that the Department of Justice asked him to put the “citizenship” question on the Census form; DeSaulnier said that whistleblowers from the Department of Justice said it was actually the opposite, that Ross asked them to do it and whistleblowers provided the emails that contradicted Ross. This is just one example of the importance of whistleblowers and why they need protection. DeSaulnier encourages them to contact him directly or contact House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings. DeSaulnier thinks that Cummings is doing a great job protecting whistleblowers that come to his committee, and he reminded us that when Betsy DeVos recently testified to the Oversight Committee, he confronted her on ignoring statutes and laws in her duties as Education Secretary. DeSaulnier, however, had nothing flattering to say about Rep. Jim Jordan on the committee.

Acting Inspector General John Kelly for the Department of Homeland Security will come before the Oversight Committee to testify regarding Jakelin Caal Maquin’s death and related matters. DeSaulnier said that Inspector Generals do great work, and that they’re relatively insulated from partisanship.

Department of Defense Oversight

Regarding the FY 2020 budget for Defense, DeSaulnier will vote against the Department of Defense bills that increase the Overseas Contingency Operations slush fund. And yes, he supports rescinding DOD’s reprogramming authority, which has been used to divert funds to Trump’s Wall.

DeSaulnier supports Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill to rescind the War Powers Act, which would force the President to come to Congress before initiating military action in most cases.

He also said that the DOD has never done a financial audit, and although they’re in the midst of one now they are doing it kicking and screaming. In his opinion, it’s the military contractors that are the root of the problem.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

DeSaulnier strongly supports promotion of all aspects of the ACA. We briefly discussed the racial and economic implications of the ACA: how it is more critical for people with less resources. It was pointed out that ACA, and even more so universal health care, has “indirect” health benefits because it reduces stress of worrying about how to take care of one’s health. DeSaulnier agreed, and spoke of the personal issue regarding his leukemia that requires taking pills that cost $400 a day.

He similarly noted that the ACA requires “parity for behavioral and physical health.” He is especially sensitive to and familiar with behavioral health issues, partly because of what he has experienced in his own family. He supports a suicide prevention bill, and is currently working with Rep. Joe Kennedy regarding all of this. In general, he sees reason for optimism regarding the politics on these issues. Initially Democrats were on the defensive with health care and defending the ACA against attacks. Now Democrats are on offense, as the public has come to understand and support the benefits of the ACA.

Mueller Report

As a matter of principle, DeSaulnier supports impeachment proceedings, and he has voted to take up the matter on several occasions. However, he pointed out that support for investigations that could lead to impeachment is not the same thing as supporting a vote for impeachment. He cautioned that we need to move carefully here. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated, this is a long process with an uncertain outcome — and it is likely that there will be no result from Congress (even under the best of circumstances) before the 2020 elections.

He cited the investigatory work that the Financial Services, Natural Resources, Intelligence, Judiciary, and Oversight Committees are doing. As these committees hold hearings, the public will be given a spotlight on the administration’s many corrupt acts.  At the same time, he noted that the Mueller Report clearly shows ample evidence of crimes. As one example, he cited former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s turning over private polling data to the Russians as “treasonous.”

The meeting went very well overall. Rep. DeSaulnier was responsive to all of our questions. We thanked him for representing his constituents so well in Congress. If you want more info about the CA-11 Team, contact co-leads Ted and Kristen at indivisibleca11@gmail.com. Or if you’re on Slack, contact @Ted Lam or @KristenL and join the moc_team_ca11 team. Want an invite to join Slack? Please drop us a line at info@indivisibleeb.org

Photo by Aaron Silver

Ted Landau is a retired professor of psychology. He has also spent several decades as a tech journalist/author — writing primarily about Apple products. He has been politically active in the East Bay since moving here in 2004.

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.

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

Talking impeachment with Tom Steyer, April 2019

By Katie Cameron and Rosemary Jordan

Tom Steyer, head of Need to Impeach, held a Town Hall at Ruby Hill Winery’s Casa Real in Pleasanton on April 23, 2019, to encourage his large and enthusiastic audience to keep the pressure on Representative Eric Swalwell, who is now running for President. The following day, April 24, an impeachment petition with many constituent signatures was to be dropped off at Swalwell’s office; Indivisible East Bay member and CA-15 team co-lead Ward Kanowsky also planned an April 24 visit to Swalwell’s district office, making it an impeachment day of action!

Prior to the Town Hall, Steyer had asked to hold a private meeting with Alameda4Impeachment (A4I). Four members of A4I’s leadership team – Rosemary Jordan, Ken and Katie Cameron, and Lynn La Rocca (most of whom are also active IEB members) – met with Steyer at the winery, where we were joined by Need to Impeach staff members Jamiah Adams and Nat Arriola.

A4I's Katie, Rosemary, Lynn, and Ken meet with Tom Steyer, photo by Jamiah Adams
A4I’s Katie, Rosemary, Lynn, and Ken meet with Tom Steyer, photo by Jamiah Adams

From the start it was clear that Steyer was there to listen to us. We shared photos of our work over the past two-plus years and our original Articles of Impeachment, and then quickly turned to the current situation and possible actions to take.

A4I's Katie and Rosemary meet with Tom Steyer, photo by Lynn LaRocca
A4I’s Katie and Rosemary meet with Tom Steyer, photo by Lynn LaRocca

First, we commended Need To Impeach for its recent stronger efforts to coordinate with other national and local impeachment efforts. We explored ways to end-run or persuade the Republicans, especially in the Senate, and we discussed and evaluated the Pelosi-Hoyer negative messaging on impeachment.

Perhaps most important, we all expressed frustration over the stonewalling of subpoenas by the White House and other Administration officials. It was clear that none of us, including Steyer, had answers on how and whether the House can proceed with impeachment without cooperating witnesses and necessary documents. A4I followed up by sending some questions to legal expert Ron Fein, and obtained very helpful clarification within hours; you can read the Q&A with Fein here.

The Town Hall was very well attended. Great food, typical of Steyer events – he takes care of his audience! Steyer called for us, the people, to urge our Members of Congress to hold public hearings that reveal the impeachable offenses, and to remove an outlaw President.

Audience questions were invariably supportive of Steyer’s efforts, and of impeachment, but there was an undercurrent of frustration: Is the clock running out? What do we do if no witnesses comply with subpoenas? If the House impeaches, but the Senate does not convict, can Trump do a victory lap and win the White House? Steyer’s response is that hearings will encourage support for impeachment, and that when we don’t stop an outlaw President, worse will follow.

Takeaways from our meeting with Steyer and the Town Hall: contact your Representative on a regular basis and press for an impeachment inquiry, and educate yourself about how to deal with the obstruction!

What you can do now:  

 

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.

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.

 

Save her lungs

Deadline: today and ongoing –

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women and men in the United States and worldwide, taking the lives of more women than breast, ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers combined. According to the Lung Cancer Alliance, each day in the U.S. an average of 181 women will die from lung cancer – that’s one every eight minutes! Two-thirds of the people diagnosed with lung cancer, but who never smoked, are women.

We need federal action to fight this deadly disease and reduce the rising death tolls. In the words of Senator Feinstein, who is one of the original sponsors of the bipartisan and bicameral Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2019 (Senate and House bills S.1107 and H.R. 2222):

Today, more women than men live with lung cancer. In 2019, an estimated 66,000 women will lose their lives to this terrible disease. Despite the effect it has on women’s lives across the country, there’s still much we don’t know. For instance, we don’t know why women who have never smoked have been shown to be twice as likely to get lung cancer as nonsmoking men. This bill will provide much-needed support for research focused on understanding this disparity and promote preventive screening for women.

What you can do:

Thank Sen. Feinstein for her leadership, and ask your other Members of Congress to cosponsor the Senate and House bills.

What to say:

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 want to thank Senator Feinstein for being an original sponsor of S.1107, the Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2019. We need federal action to coordinate a public health plan, and to accelerate research and investigate solutions to address the impact of lung cancer in the U.S. Please do all you can to advance the legislation this year.

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. Please cosponsor S.1107, the Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2019. We need federal action to coordinate a public health plan, and to accelerate research and investigate solutions to address the impact of lung cancer in the U.S.

For Representative DeSaulnier:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  Please cosponsor H.R. 2222, the Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2019. We need federal action to coordinate a public health plan, and to accelerate research and investigate solutions to address the impact of lung cancer in the U.S. And thank you for your leadership in founding the Congressional Cancer Survivors Caucus.

For Representatives Lee and Swalwell:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  Please cosponsor H.R. 2222, the Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2019. We need federal action to coordinate a public health plan, and to accelerate research and investigate solutions to address the impact of lung cancer in the U.S.

  • 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

This article is dedicated to those near and dear to us who have battled or are fighting lung cancer.

Graphic © Lung Cancer Alliance