Help asylum seekers stranded at the border

By Erica Etelson

Do you want to help the asylum seekers at the U.S. border? Al Otro Lado (“On the Other Side”) wants YOU to spend a work week volunteering to help asylum seekers at the border in Tijuana. People with legal or medical skills or who speak Spanish are particularly needed, but ANYONE who wants to lend a hand is welcome, and there are a number of English-speaking asylum seekers in addition to those who speak Spanish. Tens of thousands of refugees from all around the world pass through Tijuana, and volunteers are needed to inform people of their legal rights (don’t worry, you’ll get trained in how to do this) and in helping them prepare for their asylum interview, as well as helping with child care, food preparation, data entry, and working in the medical clinic.

Volunteers are asked to arrive on a Sunday afternoon and stay through the following Friday. If you want more information or a first-hand account of what volunteering is like, please contact ericaetelson@gmail.com and/or visit alotrolado.org and fill out the volunteer application with your available dates.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

 

IEB Impeachment Updates: April 19-22

By Rosemary Jordan

Members of Indivisible East Bay and Alameda4Impeachment (A4I) visited Representative Barbara Lee’s Oakland district office on April 19 to reinforce their repeated requests for a meeting with Lee on next steps for impeachment. The group was well received by district staff, including aide Jain Thapa (who especially liked the group’s bold graphics on social media and printed signs – kudos to A4I/IEB member Lynn LaRocca, the graphic designer who created the powerful images).

 

On April 22, A4I/IEB members participated in a joint rally outside Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco office calling for her to advance an impeachment inquiry. The action was covered by the SF Chronicle. Members were glad to meet with representatives from By The People, a group that uses proven mass mobilization methods to bring greater attention to impeachment.

Want to take action or get involved?

  • Visit bit.ly/impeachresolution for By the People’s template to send a letter to your representative.
  • You can also use Indivisible National’s page to urge your representative to cosponsor H.Res. 257, Rep. Tlaib’s impeachment resolution. 
  • Watch for a major announcement from By The People about a significant non-violent civil disobedience action at the Capitol on May 14 – if you can go to DC to be part of this collective action, please email Alameda4Impeachment@gmail.com for more information.
  • Join the discussion on the #impeachment channel on IEB’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email: info@IndivisibleEB.org

 

Photographs by Katie Cameron and Rosemary Jordan

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

 

Tax the Rich!

By Nancy Latham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos by Nancy Latham

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

Action Deadline: Monday, April 8, 2019 –

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

What to do:

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

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

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

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

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

Save our healthcare, save our lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so, so much more.

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

What you can do:

  • Learn more about the legal case in Indivisible’s article
  • Thank California Attorney General Xavier Becerra – he’s one of the state AGs defending the ACA in Texas v. US, and he has announced that he and other AGs will appeal the district court’s ruling striking down the ACA to the Fifth Circuit.
    • Attorney General Xavier Becerra:  (email);  (800) 952-5225 [select English or Spanish, then press 0]
  • Thank your Representative for cosponsoring Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (WA-07) Medicare for All Act (H.R. 1384), and ask them to continue to speak out publicly and to do all they can to support the ACA and to reform our health care system to guarantee health care coverage for all. For more info about the Act, read Indivisible’s article
  • Thank Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris for speaking out, and ask them to continue to do all they can to support the ACA and to reform our health care system to guarantee health care coverage for all
  • Watch for a bill House Democrats unveiled on March 26, the Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions & Making Health Care More Affordable Act, which Leader Pelosi said “lowers health care insurance premiums, stops junk plans, strengthens protections for pre-existing conditions and reverses the GOP health care sabotage.” She also commented, about the DOJ’s position in the Texas v. US lawsuit: “.. . . [T]he Department of Justice becomes the Department of Injustice when it wants to tear down health care benefits.  Because as Dr. King said, ‘people could die’ – people could die.”

Call now!

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

Support AB 857, Public Banking

By Sylvia Chi

Deadline: now and ongoing –

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

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

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

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

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

What you can do:

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

What to say:

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

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

 

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

Sign on! Petition and bills to reform charter school laws

By Emily Filloy

Deadline: Now and ongoing –

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

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

We need you to do two things:

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

Background:

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

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

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

What you can do:

 Sign the petition: CharterLawReform.com

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

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

Spread the word!

What to say:

For your local representatives:

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

For members of the Education Committee:

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

 

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