IEB Celebrates UnPresident’s Day Weekend

By Katherine Cameron

On February 17, 2018, IEB members joined with Alameda4Impeachment (A4I) to celebrate UnPresident’s Day Weekend by advocating for impeachment at a town hall held by Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) in Hayward. As a considerable crowd gathered to hear from their member of Congress IEB and A4I held a large impeachment banner nearby, and collected signatures on a letter to Rep. Swalwell. The crowd’s response to the impeachment message was entirely positive, with some people expressing desperation over the current administration.

IEB member John Ota handed out a flyer asking why Rep. Swalwell has not yet co-sponsored H.Res. 621, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)’s resolution to impeach Trump, and why Swalwell voted TWICE against earlier impeachment resolutions by Rep. Al Green (D-TX). The lime green flyer was eagerly received by almost everyone and was very visible in their hands. The crowd was enthusiastic about the “Make America Great Again – Impeach Donald Trump” banner, and thirty-five people signed letters, which we delivered immediately to Swalwell’s staff.

Rep. Swalwell said, as he has before, that he does not support the impeachment resolutions at this time because he wants a fair investigation into impeachable offenses. However, such an investigation won’t happen until there’s a Democratic Congress. Swalwell appears to be worried that an impeachment investigation in Congress could expose information that would impede Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but he did not provide any specifics to support this position, and many constitutional scholars disagree that Mueller’s and the Congressional inquiries are inextricably linked. An impeachment investigation in Congress would have a far broader scope with different evidentiary standards than the Special Counsel’s investigation. Moreover, impeachment is the only Constitutional way to permanently remove a President from office aside from the 25th Amendment. This White Paper from Free Speech For People provides more information about the legal case for Congress to initiate an impeachment investigation and why a House impeachment investigation doesn’t need to wait for the conclusion of the Mueller investigation.

Despite this, Rep. Swalwell made a point in his remarks to acknowledge our pro-impeachment banner and action table, and he encouraged our groups to keep showing up at his events. We’ll keep you informed of Swalwell’s future events on IEB’s CA-15 Slack channel and in the newsletter, so stay tuned!

What you can do:

Contact your East Bay Member of Congress or attend a town hall. Check out this page for a sample message and contact info, along with more background info. Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) recently co-sponsored H.Res. 621, after a long period of deliberation: if she is your MoC, please thank her. Representative Mark DeSaulnier has not yet sponsored H.Res. 621 but is a good prospect, because he supported Rep. Green’s Resolutions in the past.

Good news! Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-2, Marin County) just co-sponsored H.Res. 621 – an unexpected and positive development.

Katherine Cameron is a member of Alameda4Impeachment who spent most of her adult years working for Washington State government in human services. She is currently retired, and lives with her husband on Alameda Island, where she writes, gardens, and works to impeach Donald Trump, not necessarily in that order.

Photograph by Katherine Cameron

 

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me – On Impeachment!

By Rosemary Jordan

The Indivisible Guide reminds us that even deep in the bluest areas of the country with sympathetic Members of Congress, there’s work to do. Today we’re excited to announce that we’ve achieved a major milestone after a year of work by Indivisible groups in the East Bay. On February 2, 2018, Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) became a cosponsor of House Resolution 621, Articles of Impeachment. John Ota, of Alameda4Impeachment, a grassroots group based in Alameda, welcomed Lee’s action as a “significant and concrete step in the long but necessary process of removing a President who is constantly attacking the very foundations of our democracy and endangering our national security.”

H.Res. 621, sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), calls for the impeachment of President Trump on grounds of obstruction of justice, violation of the Constitutional prohibitions on a U.S. official receiving money or gifts from foreign governments and/or from state governments, abuse of power by actions undermining the rule of law, and actions undermining the freedom of the press.

Rep. Lee became the tenth cosponsor of H.Res. 621 and the first from California. Lee voted twice before in favor of impeachment resolutions by Rep. Al Green (D-TX); both times, Republicans, joined by many Democrats including several Bay Area members of Congress, succeeded in stopping the resolutions through procedural motions.

Members of Alameda4Impeachment, along with Indivisible East Bay allies, attended Rep. Lee’s town halls and other events, met with Rep. Lee and her staff twice a month, and gathered over 500 letters at the 2018 Oakland Women’s March, all urging her to cosponsor H.Res. 621. Ota said that this grassroots lobbying success shows that “people power works if people are persistent, organized and determined” in their efforts. Alameda4Impeachment intends to keep working with Indivisible East Bay to persuade other members of Congress, especially those in the Bay Area, to support H.Res. 621 and impeachment.

What you can do:

Send Rep. Lee some Valentine’s love for speaking for us! Emails, tweets, or postcards are all great. Or call in your love! Use your own words or the script below.

My name is ___________ and my zip code is ___________. I want to thank Representative Lee for co-sponsoring House Resolution 621. Rep. Lee stands on the right side of history and I want her to know I stand with her.

Rep. Barbara Lee (email); (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661; 1301 Clay Street #1000N, Oakland CA 94612; @RepBarbaraLee

Are you a constituent of Eric Swalwell (CA-15) or Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11)? Please let them know you want them to speak for you too! Ask them to join Rep. Lee in supporting H.Res. 621.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (email); (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065; 3615 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94546; @EricSwalwell

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email); (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095; 3100 Oak Rd., Walnut Creek CA 94597; @RepDeSaulnier

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.

End the Tampon Tax

By Rosemary Jordan

California Assembly Bill 9, which would have exempted menstrual products from state sales tax, was introduced before the State Assembly in 2016 but has been held back by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Women across California have gotten LOUD about the absurdity of classifying these products as “luxury” items, and now we have a tiny window to advance a new bill (number pending) being worked on now.

There is still a chance we can #endthetampontax this year. To do that, we need EVERYONE – yes, that means YOU! – to make your voice heard by the Fab Four: Assembly Appropriations Committee Chair Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, Senator (and incoming State Senate President Pro Tempore) Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, and Governor Jerry Brown.

Please call, fax, email, post, visit them in Sacramento or send an urgent postcard. Better yet – do all of the above, and spread the word! Their contact info is below.

What to say:

My name is _____ and my zip code is ______. Taxing menstrual products is unjust and a further burden on those living in deep poverty. Please work to create a solution that advances gender equity. We can’t wait another year for equality and we’re convinced the resources can be found to make up for the lost tax revenue. Where there’s a will for justice, there is always a way. Please be a leader and a role model for equality and get this done! Thank you

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher:
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 2114, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0080
Tel: (916) 319-2080; Fax: (916) 319-2180
District Office: 1350 Front Street, Suite 6022, San Diego, CA 92101
Tel: 619-338-8090; Fax: 619-338-8099

Senator Toni Atkins:
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 4072, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4039; Fax: (916) 651-4939
San Diego District Office: 1350 Front Street, Suite 4061, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 645-3133; Fax: (619) 645-3144

Speaker Anthony Rendon:
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 219, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 319-2063; Fax: (916) 319-2163
District Office: 12132 South Garfield Avenue, South Gate, CA 90280
Phone: (562) 529-3250; Fax: (562) 529-3255

Governor Edmund G. Brown:
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841; Fax: (916) 558-3160

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.

Protect Offshore Drilling Regulations!

By Christina Tarr

It seems it’s not enough for the Interior Department proposing to open all coastal waters of the United States (including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge but excluding Florida, apparently) to leasing for continental shelf oil and gas drilling (don’t forget to comment on that, by the way, and note that there will be public hearings on leasing for offshore drilling, including one in Sacramento on February 8). Now, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is asking to roll back offshore drilling safety regulations — the regulations that were put in place following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This is part and parcel of  Trump’s effort to cut back on all environmental protections to increase profits for his friends in the oil and gas business. Naturally, groups like the American Petroleum Institute and the National Ocean Industries Association are in favor.

A few things (among others) that the proposed rules do:

  • Delete a requirement that drillers propose to use only a safe amount of pressure in new wells
  • Loosen controls on blowout preventers, which seal off wells in case of an accident, and which currently are required to have a back-up plan in case of malfunction
  • Amend a standard that currently requires that equipment demonstrate that it can withstand a surge in pressure
  • Do away with third-party certification, which requires that an independent party confirm that equipment meets standards

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which was created by the Obama Administration after the Deepwater Horizon spill, was never intended to promote oil production. It was kept separate from the leasing arm of the Interior Department to ensure that safety would not be compromised for profit. With these regulation changes, the BSEE now moves into a role as a promoter of industry, leaving no agency whose sole role is to promote safety. If we know anything about pipelines, it’s that they leak. The danger is increased exponentially when you are drilling miles offshore underwater. In essence, experts have concluded, the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon spill could have been prevented – and the proposed changes in regulations favor the oil industry and money over safety and the environment.

You can read a description of the proposed changes here, and you have until January 29, 11:59 PM EST to submit comments protesting the proposed rules. Submit comments here, and also read comments that have been made already.

Sample comment:

Do not weaken the current regulations on offshore drilling. The current regulations incorporate valuable lessons learned from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, when 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the sea, killing nearly a million seabirds and still causing effects in the Gulf. The proposed rules loosen controls on blowout preventers and third party certification that safety devices will work under the extreme conditions in which they are placed. The impact of another spill like the Deepwater Horizon, which the new rules practically guarantee, will far outweigh the benefits of reducing operating costs for oil companies that can well afford them.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement should be committed to the safety of offshore drilling operations, not with oil company profits. Strong regulation and an independent BSEE are needed to ensure that offshore drilling can coexist with other important uses of our coastline, including recreation, tourism, fishing and wilderness.

You can also sign up to receive more information about, or help plan, actions during the first two weeks of February to protest plans for the huge new federal offshore drilling program.

Christina Tarr is a local librarian with an interest in birds and wild places.

TPS Revoked: A Betrayal By Any Other Name

Temporary Protected Status: A Reprieve from Disaster

In the late morning of January 13, 2001, El Salvador was rocked by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake that triggered vicious landslides in every part of the country. Almost 1,000 people were killed, with thousands more injured and displaced. Over 108,000 homes were destroyed. Life came to a halt.

Over the next month, still reeling from the first, massive quake, El Salvador was pummeled by more than 2,500 aftershocks, two registering at more than 5.7 on the Richter scale. Among them, the aftershocks and the insistent landslides made recovery in the near future extremely difficult; an economy and system of government made weak and dangerous by a US-backed civil war in the ’80s and ’90s made it all but impossible.

Seeing this horror unfolding, the US government extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to 200,000 of the earthquake’s victims. They would be granted permission to move to the US and work, on the understanding that they should return to El Salvador when the country had recovered. Their status would be renewed every 18 months if they paid the hundreds of dollars in processing fees on time. Crucially, it was assumed that they would send money home to their families – remittances – that could bolster the economy and speed recovery.

There Has Been A Change in Your Status

Next week will mark 17 years since the quake hit El Salvador. It will also mark two weeks since the Trump administration announced its decision not to renew TPS for the Salvadoran refugees.

In September of 2019, these people will be forced to return to a country that remains, for many, a difficult place to build a life. El Salvador is in the grip of one of the highest murder rates in the world, and its economy – 17% of which is based on remittances sent home by TPS recipients – isn’t ready for 200,000 new, skilled workers. Violence at the hands of gangs and police is common. If the TPS recipients are forced to return to El Salvador, Amnesty International predicts they could face “extortion, kidnapping, coerced service to gangs, and sexual violence.”

El Salvador has not recovered from the devastation wreaked by US meddling in its political landscape, and has not recovered from the damage done to the economy by the disasters that visited the land in January 2001. It is not a safe place to call home.

Ending TPS for the Salvadoran refugees is a betrayal.

This Land is Our Land

For the past 17 years, El Salvador’s TPS recipients have lived, worked, and built families and communities in the United States. They have paid taxes on their income, and bolstered the government with visa fees. For the better part of a generation, they have made America better.

They are also not the first group of TPS recipients to be denied a right to continue making America better by the current government. 46,000 residents from Haiti had their status revoked last year, while 2,500 from Nicaragua had theirs revoked at the very beginning of 2018. 57,000 Honduran TPS recipients will learn their fate in July of this year.

We need a path to lawful permanent residence for TPS recipients. It is immoral in the extreme to assure families of semi-permanent status and then revoke it in order to fulfill the perceived wishes of a minority of the American electorate.

To help them, start here:

  • Thank our Senators for supporting the SECURE Act, which would create a path to residency for TPS recipients. Senator Feinstein was one of those who introduced the bill in the Senate, and Senator Harris supported it from the outset.
  • Contact your Representative too: Barbara Lee has issued a strong statement opposing the Administration’s action and Mark DeSaulnier has also spoken out on his facebook page and in his email newsletter; thank them. And tell Eric Swalwell that he, too, should speak publicly and loudly decrying this action for the betrayal that it is.
  • Educate yourself about how Trump is damaging legal immigration without involving Congress. Tell others what you learn.
  • Fight for a clean DREAM Act. Thousands will lose their DACA this year unless we act.
  • Be a friend to immigrants. This article was written by one. Two of her best friends are here on H1-B visas, living in fear that their status will be revoked. This is a horrible time to be a non-citizen. This author feels like a traitor every time she pays tax to the US government, because that same government is using her money to visit her worst nightmares on innocent people. The vast majority of immigrants can’t vote. We need you to vote in ways that let us continue to live with you and be a part of something that seemed so wonderful to us that we left everything familiar behind to be a part of it.

 

 

Image lovingly pilfered from NPR.

 

Help the OtO Team Find Partners

The mission of IEB’s Outreach to Organizations (OtO) team is to build partnerships with and support effective community groups. Two great examples of organizations that have been working in the trenches for years and that OtO has been working with: the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which among other things fights to save SNAP (food stamps) funding, and Oakland Rising, which organizes in Oakland around immigration,  criminal justice reform, and many other issues.

We invite anyone interested in strengthening IEB’s connections to activist community groups to join the OtO team! With more liaisons we can inform IEB members about terrific grassroots organizations fighting for justice and equality and against the Trump agenda; and we can increase our support and mobilize IEBers to take action on state or local policies, and to get involved in issues that the most vulnerable populations in our community face.

You can help! Are you a member of – or do you know about – a grassroots group that’s mobilizing its community around progressive issues or values? We’d love to hear from you! Please contact @tonihenle on Slack or email Toni  at ieb.outreach@gmail.com with your ideas and input.

ACCFB
IEB at AFFCB event to educate community about the farm bill and SNAP

Gun Bills in the Spotlight

After the deadly events that played out in Las Vegas, two controversial pro-gun bills moving through the House this fall are in the spotlight.

The first is the SHARE Act (Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act). Backed by the NRA, the 144 page bill covers a lot of ground.

Aiming to open current restrictions on hunting/shooting on public lands, the bill would reverse the ban on lead tackle and ammunition, allow bird shooting over unharvested crops, and end endangered species protection for Great Lake grey wolves and purchase of new bird habitats. Controversial components of the bill also involve bans on silencers and armor-piercing bullets.

A silencer muffles the noise of a gun once it’s shot. Currently, to obtain one you have to submit fingerprints, a photo and submit to a waiting period of 9 months or more. This waiting period is similar to the one required when you buy a machine guns or explosives. Plus, law enforcement keeps track of the purchase. And, there’s a $200 transfer tax.  The Hearing Protection Act would abolish all these restrictions.

Those who support silencers say they protect hunter’s hearing from damage by muffling gunfire – not actually silencing it.

“It isn’t a silencer because it still makes sound, but what it does is cuts the percentage of the noise down to make shooting sports a little nicer for people’s hearing,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale (Butte County).

Those against it say it makes it harder for law enforcement and bystanders to hear and avoid active gunfire.

“What it does is it disperses the sound, so you can’t identify where the sound is coming from,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) who is also a hunter. “It puts both law enforcement and the public at risk.”

Another sticky issue: the bill proposes legalizing the sale of armor-piercing bullets if the manufacturer labels the ammunition as intended for “sporting purposes.”

Although Democrats have reported they expected a vote on the legislation this week,  Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that the bill is not scheduled and he does not know when it’s going to be scheduled. The bill was previously delayed this summer when a shooter open fired on a congressional baseball game injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalia.

The other pro-gun measure moving through the House is called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow concealed carry permit holders to take their weapons across state borders, as long as it is allowed in the state they live in. The NRA says that the act would “ensure that law-abiding citizens do not forfeit their ability to protect themselves as they travel from state to state.”

Counterarguments are that “you’d have a situation where somebody could come from Arizona, where there is no permit required at all to carry a gun, and that person’s Arizona residency would override California law and allow anybody with an Arizona driver’s license or resident card to carry a loaded gun in the state,” Peter Ambler, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. This is clearly a concern to those of us in California, which has much stricter gun laws than our neighbors.

What can we do? What can our members of Congress do?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi condemned the SHARE Act and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act after welcoming Rep. Scalise back to Congress.

She believes Republicans have enough votes to pass both bills, but Democrats can likely block them with a filibuster.

Our representatives in the East Bay have some of the lowest ratings from the NRA; you can thank them for their continued action to fight for our safety and for common sense. In particular, Senators Feinstein and Harris have just announced a bill that would close the loophole allowing modification of automatic weapons. And on October 4, the New York Times reported that Republican leaders may consider banning the kind of device that allowed the Las Vegas shooter to turn his rifles into weapons of mass destruction. Tell Senators Feinstein and Harris: “Thank you for your efforts at gun control. Please vote NO on the SHARE Act, and urge your colleagues to enact restrictions on devices that turn guns into automatic weapons. It isn’t too soon. We don’t need any more mass shootings!” 

Although these bills are seemingly tabled for the present moment, it does not mean the NRA and pro-gun law lobby is backing down.  They’ve been quoted as saying that right-to-carry remains a legislative priority as well as reforming law relating to suppressors.    

And it’s their pattern to go quiet after a violent event.

“Their plan is to avoid the media until the story passes and then figure out someone else to blame,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Here’s a great list of 7 things from Everytown to fight the SHARE Act & Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act to help pass common-sense gun laws.