Halt the Heist Tax Scam Rally

Tax rally photo by Charles Moehle
Photo credit: Charlie Moehle from Pro-Bono Photo

On December 4, 2017, IEB and other local Indivisible chapters held a rally in front of Senator Kamala Harris’ San Francisco office to protest the tax scam bills making their way through the Congress. Below are accounts from several IEB members who attended the rally, beginning with rally co-lead Nancy:

By Nancy:

I walked up from Civic Center BART to the UN Plaza to be met by gorgeous rally weather – blue skies and gentle winds. A few wonderful team-mates from the rally organizing team were already there, with set-up well underway – and two frenzied weeks of planning were about to pay off. 

A little before noon people were gathering, some singing tax carols and chanting. I’m an introvert, and was waiting to get nervous but I never did – I think I was too angry. Or more likely I was just too happy to look around and see this radiant gathering of the community – of people who know that this is what Democracy looks like. Honestly, most of the rally feels like a blur at this point. All I really remember is that it was a gorgeous show of solidarity, caring, and action. The beautiful crowd wanted EQUITY, and they wanted it NOW!

Most of us didn’t even know each other until we threw our hats in the ring together to plan this rally, but we were united in our rage at the unfairness, wrongheadedness, and bottomless bad faith of the tax heist. I am in awe of the willingness of everyone to say at every turn: “sure, yes, I’m on it.” No matter what else they had going on, they just got it done – and with brilliance and boundless good humor. I’m so grateful to the whole amazing team! Clear heads, valiant hearts, speaking truth to power: that’s who we are, dammit.

Tax rally photo by Charles Moehle
Photo credit: Charlie Moehle from Pro-Bono Photo

Meet the team (with a partial list of their duties):

  • Karen (Indivisible Sonoma County): Rally Co-Lead, Press List Wrangler, Tireless Promoter, Warrior Goddess and Cat Herder
  • Lisa (Indivisible Sausalito): Rally Co-Lead, Warrior Goddess and Mover-Alonger of Rally Activities
  • Ted (IEB): Steward of Rally Signs and Doer of Everything that Needs to be Done
  • Heather (IEB): Media Advisory Writer, Ruthless Editor, and Keeper of Captive Designer of Rally Signs
  • Robyn (Indivisible Sonoma County): Harris Team Liaison and Person Bonding with Rally Crowd
  • Shana (Indivisible Sonoma County): Keeper of Rally Central on Rally Day, and Cheerful Rememberer of Small Details Leaders Have Forgotten
  • Rohit (IEB): Writer of Harris Letter, Prolific Live Tweeter, and Knower of All Things Tax Bill/Healthcare-Related
  • Barbara (IEB): Storyteller and Person Making Sure All is Well with the Sound System

And special thanks to:

  • Amelia (IEB), who reached out to and coordinated with staff from Harris’ and Pelosi’s office
  • Christine (ISF) who edited our Media Advisory
  • Gen (Indivisible Sonoma County) who helped with the press list and sent out the Advisory and Press Release
  • Charlie Moehle (IEB) who documented the rally

Remarks to the crowd by George McRae:

Immediately after my 16th birthday I had to, by law, begin to have deductions made from my paycheck. There was the shock of a take-home amount much, much less than I had been used to. But I understood, and accepted that this was my responsibility as a citizen to contribute to the common good of the nation. Among the deductions were Social Security and Medicare, money I have since been faithfully paying into my account my entire working life. I always had the expectation that this money would be there for me when I needed it. Now at 64 years old I have no expectation, because the government is planning to steal this money to make up the budget shortfall with the tax scam. The Republicans admit to this and Senator Sanders got them to admit it the other day. Mitch McConnell himself said that the middle class would be screwed.  I played by the rules, and now I’m about to get screwed. No one held a gun to my head and told me — you are now 64. You get to this age automatically. And I didn’t get here with the expectation that I would be screwed for just getting here. The only way to stop this is to flip the congress. I urge everyone to work tirelessly to do that. Here in California that means the primaries in March, only three months away! Unless we get these sons of bitches out, this will continue. Thank you.

By Rohit:

When we come together, anything seems possible. Over 200 people attended the protest in front of Senator Harris’ office. Many courageously shared personal stories of how the GOP tax plan will hurt our communities. Representatives from Harris’ and Pelosi’s office listened and reiterated their resolve to do everything possible to stop the Trump tax heist. Special thanks to the indefatigable organizers at Indivisible chapters of East Bay, San Francisco, Sausalito, and Sonoma County, for bringing us together, and a shout-out to our partner indivisible San Francisco, who helped so much with promotion and who brought a big contingent to the rally. Check out Facebook to see how we are continuing the fight.

By Barbara Kluger:

I’m overwhelmed with the continuous daily political assaults and relieved whenever I can be with others who actually want to talk openly about it. Some people shared their personal stories on paper we made available on the info table; we will send these to Senator Harris. Others shared stories aloud by microphone to the crowd. Everyone attending was keen on meaningful human interaction: singing the satirical songs, chanting slogans, encouraging speakers with focused attention. It’s good to be together when so much of our time is spent keeping up with the latest news and interacting online. I had planned to tweet our activities during the rally, but never had time. I’m not sure my tweets would have made any impact on anyone, but I know that talking face-to-face with others was good for me.

Tax rally photo by Rohit Reddy
Ted speaking at tax rally. Photo by Rohit

By Ted:

For several weeks, a team of amazing Indivisibles from Indivisible East Bay, Sonoma County, and Sausalito planned the December 4th anti GOP tax rally in United Nations Plaza in San Francisco. The goal of this noon rally was to get Senator Kamala Haris’ staff and as many concerned citizens involved in this blatant “rob from the poor to give to the rich” GOP tax bill.

IEB’s Nancy kicked off the rally with an introduction of the terrible tax bill and its near certain bad effects. She and Karen of Indivisible Sonoma County led the large crowd in chants of “Kill the Bill” and similar messages. Many progressive groups showed up to show their support in creative ways: one group sang “Kill the Bill” Christmas carols! After ten people told the crowd how the tax bill would negatively affect them personally,  Robyn from Indivisible Sonoma County gave a letter, drafted by all the Indivisible groups present, to Daniel Chen from Senator Harris’ office, urging Harris to stand strong against the GOP bill. Mr. Chen then addressed the large crowd and reiterated Senator Harris’ opposition to the bill and her efforts to fight it.

Tax rally photo by Charles Moehle
Photo credit: Charlie Moehle from Pro-Bono Photo

Urge Contra Costa to Return Juvenile Justice Fees

By Judith Tannenbaum

For over two decades, when a child faced criminal charges, Contra Costa and other California counties made the family pay for the child’s incarceration. This practice came to an end statewide this past October, when Governor Brown signed SB 190 into law.

Now, Contra Costa is considering restoring these fines and fees to families, which would make it the first county in California to do so.  On a reportback to Contra Costa’s Public Protection Committee, the Probation Department identified $175,000 in fees (as opposed to fines) that were illegally collected from families between 2010 and 2017.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the details of the proposed restitution at their December 12 meeting. The Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition and others call for the Board of Supervisors to return money to everyone from whom it was taken unlawfully.

Full restitution includes returning money with interest to those charged as far back as 1991 when fees were first imposed, returning fees charged for ankle monitors, and compensation for collateral damage (including impact on families’ credit ratings).

What you can do:

▪    Please call your Contra Costa County Supervisor (contact infoand say:

Hi. My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m with Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to urge you to make Contra Costa the first county in California to agree to return the fines and fees collected unlawfully from families of juveniles facing criminal charges. I ask that you vote to approve returning money to everyone from whom it was taken improperly.

  • Speak at the December 12 Board of Supervisors meeting during public comments

At present, the item is scheduled to appear on the Supervisors’ December 12 agenda. The agenda isn’t published yet, so please check to make sure that’s the date to show up.

Judith Tannenbaum is a writer and teacher. Her books include ‘Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin’.

Graphic © Juvenile Law Center

 

Love Pirates? Love to Resist? Join Us at ARRT/East Bay!

By Janis Hashe

OK, the pirate part was a tad bait-and-switchy, but it is hard to say ARRTwithout a pirate voice.

Anyway, mateys, the first meeting of ARRT/East Bay on November 19 was small but enthusiastic. We introduced ARRT – Artists Respond and Resist Together – and introduced ourselves, shared our art backgrounds, and identified some goals for the group, namely:

  • Events (such as the Oakland Womens March; more on that shortly)
  • Shows (we have a potential Art of Resistance show space already),
  • a Skills Bank that Resistance groups could call on for logos, banners, art for booths, etc.

The first event where we plan to have a presence is the Oakland Womens March on January 20, 2018. We envision showing up with signs, banners, masks, puppets … of course HATS … whatever we come up with to be part of what we hope will be an even more important demonstration of Resistance than the first, historic, Women’s March.

Last year was the outrage. This year is the heartstrong commitment. We will not be silenced, we will not back down, and, nevertheless, we persist!

Please join us for a Makers Meeting on January 7, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the El Cerrito Royale, 6510 Gladys Ave., El Cerrito. At this gathering, artists will brainstorm on creations and help one other figure out how to produce them. If you have sign and banner-making materials, please bring them. Most importantly, bring ideas (and friends!).

Special note to performing artists: well also work on a brief street theatre scenario to be performed several times during the Women’s March. Performers, including those for a kazoo band, are needed and welcome!

RSVPs are not required, but it would be great if you could let us know you plan to attend (and a bit about your media). To RSVP or for more information, contact Heidi at heidirand@gmail.com or Janis at openlinescom@gmail.com  And please spread the word to your other artist pals … the more, the merrier, mateys!

The El Cerrito Royale is a short walk from the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station and is wheelchair accessible. Free parking.

Janis Hashe is a freelance writer/editor/teacher/theatre person. She has been politically active in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chattanooga and now Richmond. Her deepest personal commitments include fighting climate change, ending factory farming and overturning Citizens United. This is her second article for IEB.

 

Overflow Crowd Packs DeSaulnier Town Hall

Along with a standing room only crowd of over 200 people, CA-11 Team members Kristen, Ted, Colleen, and Elizabeth attended Representative Mark DeSaulnier’s 90-minute Town Hall at Miramonte High School in Orinda on November 20, 2017. Overflow attendees listened in the School’s library.

DeSaulnier highlighted many of the negative aspects of the House and Senate tax bills, and gave the sobering historical perspective that whereas in 1986 it it took 11 months to pass tax reform, the current GOP plan is to rush the bills through in two months. He also mentioned the mind-blowing amount that the bill will add to the national debt over 10 years: $1.5 trillion.

Pointing out that CA-11 is the twenty-third most impacted of all 435 congressional districts in terms of housing costs, DeSaulnier added that 45% of CA-11 residents use the local and state deductions that save them an average of $20,000 a year. If some version of the tax bill is passed, the deductions could be severely impacted or eliminated completely. In addition, DeSaulnier pointed out that 44% of CA-11 residents use student deductions, also on the GOP chopping block.

Of special interest to Indivisible members and other activists using the tactic of engaging our Members of Congress, DeSaulnier said he previously didn’t believe that making calls to Senators and Congresspeople worked — until he saw for himself that it does! He urged CA-11 residents and people in all congressional districts to call their Members of Congress, because it does make a difference.

As he does at each Town Hall, DeSaulnier reminded the crowd that as citizens we need to be engaged and to stay engaged. California District CA-11 is truly fortunate to have Mark DeSaulnier represent us in Congress.

If you couldn’t attend the Town Hall, watch the archive video. You can also subscribe to his newsletter, and here’s his contact info, let him know your opinions:

  • Email
  • Richmond Office phone: (510) 620-1000
  • Walnut Creek Office phone: (925) 933-2660
  • Washington DC Office phone: (202) 225-2095

Photograph © Rep Mark DeSaulnier

November 2017 Visit with Sen. Feinstein’s State Director

As we do every few weeks, IEB members met with Senator Feinstein’s State Director Sean Elsbernd on November 15, 2017. After an opening round of brief intros for the members not already well acquainted with Sean, we dove into discussing some of our top priorities:
Tax scam:
We thanked the senator for fighting the tax bill and encouraged her to continue the fight and efforts to bring all possible Republicans along in her wake. We noted the potential terrible effects of the bill on higher education in general, and graduate engineers and scientists specifically. Sean responded that Senator Feinstein is deeply concerned with the tax bill’s specific effect on California, including losing deductions for state and local taxes and mortgage interest. The bill will have a significant impact on affordable housing, particularly in California. It’s ironic that this bill is coming from “the party of trickle down economics,” he noted, as it would have a very negative trickle-down effect on state and local governments’ ability to serve their communities. (It might have an unintended result though: “People vote with their pocketbooks.”) The senator is doing everything she can to slow the bill process down.
DACA and other immigration issues:
Sean reported that with all focus on the tax bill, there’s no news on this front, and likewise no update on protecting recipients of Temporary Protected Status visas. The next day she and two other Democratic Senators announced that they were introducing legislation to help TPS visa holders, but we haven’t seen the text yet.
They are working with hundreds of people mired in the DACA process, hindered by administrative issues such as whether their paperwork was filed on time. Sean is skeptical that grassroots campaigns can have an effect, and urges the grassroots to put all efforts into tax reform. especially since the GOP House wants something done by Thanksgiving.
UPDATE: as of 11/22/2017, TPS legislation text, as submitted by Sen. Chris Van Hollen.
West County Detention Facility:
Sean asked what our East Bay Representatives are doing about this issue. The Sheriff and Representative Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) are not able to tour the facility until Nov. 27th, an unacceptably long time away from when the abuses were revealed. We asked for the Senator’s help to get a full and prompt inspection of the facility. Sean suggested that we also continue to contact Rep. DeSaulnier (CA-11) to put more pressure on the detention center. We followed up with Sean on Tuesday and he said that Sen. Feinstein’s office is writing an oversight letter, something they did not appear to have been considering doing until we brought the issue up.
Health Care:
Senator Feinstein supports the Murray-Alexander bill to fix the ACA, but thinks it will be difficult to pass in the current Congress. They aren’t sure how the tax scam will affect the bill with respect to elimination of the health care mandate. Bernie’s Medicare For All is not a priority for the Senator; according to Sean, “These guys are not going to stop going after the ACA [while Republicans hold majority and Trump is President]. Defense of the ACA is the first priority.” Also: “The GOP painted themselves into a corner with catchy slogans. We need to be careful of falling victim to catchy slogans.” He elaborated: Even if every Democrat sponsored Medicare For All, there would be no hearings and no legislative movement, and it wouldn’t do anything to stop Republicans from going after the ACA; and there is no way for the minority party to force McConnell to bring Murray-Alexander to a floor vote.
CHIP:
It’s not clear whether Congressional failure to re-authorize the CHIP program has made Senator Feinstein re-evaluate the way she tries to work with Republicans. The re-authorization is getting sucked up in the wake of the end-of-year budget process, and the priority is getting through Thanksgiving without letting the tax plan pass.
S.1989—Honest Ads Act:
Senator Feinstein likes the bill a lot, and will be supportive of it. The current bill is co-sponsored by two Democrats and Republicans. Sean thought leadership might try to keep the numbers even, so she might not officially sign on until another Republican does.
Media Consolidation and Net Neutrality:
Focus in committee hearing has been on social media companies. They are tackling both aspects: news sources and internet companies.
Judicial Appointments:
Feinstein, like IEB, wants senators to have more time to review judicial nominations. She issued a press statement the morning of our meeting with Sean about the rushed schedule of confirmation hearings. In answer to our question of how the grassroots can help, Sean suggested electing more Democrats to the Senate. We told Sean that we applaud Senator Feinstein’s efforts to slow the nomination process, but want her to do more.
Sexual Assault and Harassment:
Feinstein does not control the Judiciary Committee schedule and cannot call for the hearing on this important issue.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
Sean doesn’t know that the senator would ask for his resignation; we asked for her to explicitly do so. She has already asked for him to come back to testify again, but she doesn’t control the agenda, Grassley does. Sean isn’t aware of the senator receiving any written answers from him yet from his October testimony in front of Senate Judiciary Committee. When she does, we want to hear about it.
Russia Investigation:
Feinstein is not ready to call Trump campaign’s actions “collusion with Russia.” She issued a press release the same day as our visit, announcing a “second tranche of request letters related to the Russia investigation.” Sean says that “the intelligence committee continues along. They seem to be trying to wrap up. It’s no longer much of a joint effort in the Judiciary Committee—there’s now a Minority investigation and a Majority investigation.”  Senator Feinstein has been more and more vocal but all the eggs are in the basket of Robert Mueller: No one wants a Democratic report or Republican Report, they want a Judiciary Committee report.
Puerto Rico:
Sean said that there will be a separate emergency funding bill, akin to what Congress passed for the Texas hurricane and California wildfires. He suggested that we build grassroots support for cosponsoring S.2041, a bill to amend the Stafford Act so that recovery and rebuilding efforts will include improvements in resiliency and efficiency of the energy infrastructure. We assume that she would support such a measure, but might need something of a push from constituents so please call about this.
North Bay Wildfires:
Major focus on has been on the casework team. People are calling FEMA, trying to register for victims’ individual assistance grants. FEMA has been a very good partner, very responsive so far, so the senator sees no need to change the process. We mentioned flood risk during storms and the need for legislation to avoid using plastic pipes, to which Sean replied “You don’t want the federal government regulating building codes” and said that the senator is very focused on getting people in the North Bay through the winter. He suggested that IEB focus on funding efforts for North Bay charities and volunteer efforts. Also: Senators Feinstein and Harris wrote a letter to Secretary of State Tillerson about expediting the process of getting replacement passport and to waive fees for people who lost their passports in the fires; Sean suggested that this might be a grassroots letter-writing opportunity.
Gun Control:
In an update, Sean said that the bump stock bill, which was supposed to get a hearing that week, had been pushed to the first week of December, because Sen. Grassley is the chair and he wanted to push it back to us committee time to confirm some more judicial nominations. The assault weapons bill, he said, is the kind of bill that passes in a Democratic-controlled Congress. They are continuing to try to get sponsors in the Senate and support among national and local organizations to sponsor letter-writing campaigns, and he urged us to work with local organizations such as churches, PTAs, etc., and to be in touch with him on this effort. However, he warned that we should not have expectations about a hearing any time soon.
Climate change mitigation:
We asked if the senator would sponsor the senate counterpart to the House’s Climate Solutions Caucus to help unify bipartisan effort to advance meaningful climate change mitigation policies such as S.1639 – American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act. Sean said she doesn’t feel that the Senate with 100 members needs a caucus to organize around  compared to the House with its 435 members. He did say that she did support a previous version of a carbon fee bill and that she would look at this update to the legislation.
FY 2018 Budget:
Though it’s likely that there will be a continuing resolution bill to fund the government until the end of the calendar year and possibly into part of 2018, the 2018 appropriations bills are waiting to be completed and won’t be taken up until after #TaxScam. Of concern to us is the massive 2018 National Defense Authorization Act which comes in at an estimated $700 billion. Programs authorized in it won’t actually be allowed to draw on funds until there’s a matching defense appropriations bill and negotiations for funding defense and non-defense will be hashed out as part of the budget and appropriations process. Dems plan to push for appropriations increases in non-defense categories in exchange for any defense spending above caps mandated by existing budget laws. We expressed dismay that both our senators had voted for such a bloated and costly NDAA but Sean said that the programs authorized affected many constituencies in California.
FISA Amendments Reauthorization Bill:
Senators Feinstein and Harris cosponsored an amendment to require probable cause warrants from the FISA court for intelligence agencies seeking to do domestic surveillance on American citizens as part of any Section 702 search queries. The amendment did not pass in committee. When asked why she voted for the bill out of committee without that important amendment, Sean replied that she felt that there was a better chance of the amendment passing in a floor vote.
Town Halls:
IEB sent a proposal about future town halls to the Senator and her press team, but haven’t gotten a response yet. Sean said it could be feasible and that he “appreciates the creativity” but he didn’t give any feedback to improve the proposal. He did, however, say that he would talk to the Senator about it.
Photograph copyright Toby St. John

 

Kill the Tax Scam Bill

There is widespread agreement among experts that the tax scam is a horror show. Huge tax cuts to the hyper-rich are paid for by the poor and middle class. It will take Obamacare down. It will do nothing to help our economy. Inequality – already bad – will get worse. The racial wealth gap will widen.

Here’s a partial list of the folks who will lose under the tax bill: women, seniors, students paying back their loans, teachers paying out of pocket for school supplies, those with incomes less than $75K, non-rich families with children, those facing high medical costs, people who need health insurance. In other words, all of us.

Hard to believe something this awful could become the law of the land very soon – but it absolutely can, and we are getting perilously close.

With our constituent power, we showed up, called, rallied, put our bodies on the line – and we killed Trumpcare. We must do it again with the tax scam! Here are some some actions you can take:

  • Use Indivisible’s tool to call fellow progressives in key #TrumpTaxScam target states and patch them through to their Senators. Indivisible HQ has brought back a super effective peer-to-peer calling tool from the TrumpCare fight so you can take action to stop this bill by reaching out to progressive constituents in Alaska, Arizona, and West Virginia. Find out more here and sign up to start calling! And, the IEB cookie competition is back and better than ever!
  • Phone bank with your East Bay neighbors to mobilize red state progressives. Phone banks are happening in Berkeley November 25 and 26. Find out more and RSVP here.
  • As Ben Wikler from MoveOn has instructed: MELT THE PHONE LINES the whole week of November 27th, when the bill will probably come to the floor of the Senate. We especially need to demand that our wonderful Democratic senators withhold consent. Scripts, numbers, and info here.
  • Come to the UN Plaza in San Francisco for a Tax Heist Rally from 12-1:00PM on December 4. IEB is partnering with Indivisible Sonoma County and Indivisible Sausalito so we can deliver a letter to Senator Harris, tell our stories in the public square, and make some noise! If you want to know more, or join the planning committee, come see us in the #tax-scam-action channel on slack.

Tax Scam Protests: Week One

Protest Trump tax plan. Photo by Charlie Moehle
Protest of the Trump tax plan. Photo by Charlie Moehle

IEB member Candace Goldman connected with Indivisible at its beginning, after the devastating 2016 election. She has participated in many events, from meetings at congressional district offices to protests, town halls, phone banking, emailing, and sending “thank you” notes to our elected officials.

November 6, 2017 marked the kick-off of a nationwide protest of the proposed Republican tax “reform” bill. Big picture, this bill would give enormous tax cuts to large corporations and the wealthiest 1% of individuals, to be paid for by the rest of us along with a deficit increase of another $1.3 – 1.7 trillion. This is not reform; it’s a scam that does great harm and increases the wealth gap. Or, as I am calling it, Structured Collusion Against the Majority.

So how’d this first week go? We began by encouraging our members (and family, and friends, and friends of friends!) to call and write their Members of Congress to encourage a NO vote on the tax scam. On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 7, while districts were flipping blue in state elections around the country, a small group of us gathered at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland for a rush hour reminder to passersby to say NO to the tax scam. To our surprise, within ten minutes we were in the midst of a major police action straight out of a “Lethal Weapon“ movie. Police cars screaming everywhere, a helicopter overhead, fire engines and ambulances rounding the corner, and road blocks set up. It was disconcerting but we stood our ground and, despite all the flashing lights and screaming sirens, the public saw us and the response was very favorable.

After a protest organized by Indivisible Berkeley on the Berkeley Overpass on Thursday, November 9, which we supported, another small group of us met at the plaza in front of the Oakland Federal Building on Saturday, November 11, Veteran’s Day. We soon decided that Broadway, with much more foot and vehicle traffic, would be a better audience location than quiet Clay Street, so we changed spots. We handed out lots of leaflets and had some good conversations with pedestrians who stopped to talk and get more information; cars, and even some bus drivers, showed their support by honking and waving as they drove by.

We clearly reached a lot of people and drew their attention to the imminent threat posed by the tax scam; and we have a lot more work to do to ensure that Congress hears our roar of “NO” to this devastating bill. Thank you to all who participated in this week’s  events. Thanks to all of you who will be adding your energy and your voices to stopping this legislation. We will not be done until the tax scam is defeated. Keep your eyes peeled for more information. With your help, this “reform” WILL GO DOWN.

By Candace Goldman

Racial Justice Task Force Community Forums

The Contra Costa County Racial Justice Task Force was created by the Board of Supervisors on April 12, 2016, and given a mandate to:

  • Research and identify consensus measures within the County to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system;
  • Plan and oversee implementation of the measures once identified; and
  • Report back to the Board of Supervisors on progress made toward reducing racial disparities within the criminal justice system.

Click here to see a list of the Task Force’s 17 members, and meeting locations and agendas for each monthly meeting, held the first Wednesday of every month at 1 PM.

The Task Force is also holding a series of five Community Forums, one in each district; all members have committed to attending at least one of the Forums.Contra Costa County Racial Justice Task Force

You can also submit input about the process to the Racial Justice Task Force here.

This is the Task force member list, as of November 2017:

Racial Justice Task Force members

Senate 2018 Race – Discuss!

At the October IEB All Member Meeting, members participated in a respectful and productive opening discussion about the 2018 Senate race. After folks called out issues important to them we all voted for our top three choices. Not surprisingly, people shared overwhelming concerns about healthcare, immigration, and voting rights.IEB AMM Senate DiscussionAmelia Cass, IEB’s Member of Congress lead and Senator Feinstein expert gave a synopsis of Feinstein’s positions on the top issues, and invited the audience to contribute their thoughts about California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Léon and other candidates.

Healthcare:

Senator Feinstein has said she favors universal healthcare, but has demurred on single payer, saying she’s not yet ready to commit. At a recent meeting with Senator Feinstein’s staff, IEB learned that implementation (funding, rollout, and transition to) of a single payer system is one of the problems preventing her endorsement, and that she has not yet seen a reasonable, feasible plan that would get California where it needs to go toward a fair healthcare system. In contrast, Kevin de Léon has stated that he supports CA healthcare for all, and in a tweet said that California should have two senators behind Health Care For All. Another candidate for the Senate seat, David Hildebrand, is a Democratic Socialist and self-described “Berniecrat” who is solidly behind single payer. At present, so early in the race, little is known about the other candidates.

One IEB member stated that “if you want single payer or medical care for all, young people need to be involved to create the economics to drive it forward.” Sharing her experience working on the California healthcare bill, another member described how difficult it was to balance moving forward on a bill and being able to explain everything that is going to happen with it.

Immigration:

The son of a single immigrant mother, Kevin de Léon was an author of SB 54, the California Sanctuary State bill. The bill went through several iterations before Governor Brown signed it, which some advocates believe severely weakened the bill.

Senator Feinstein has spoken out strongly in favor of the DREAM Act and other pro-immigration bills; however, she has hinted that she might accept additional border security measures and some are concerned that she might compromise more than may be necessary.

IEB Governance Committee member Katie added that if the final DREAM Act includes other legislation, it may be worth considering how Senator Feinstein votes, if not for a “clean DREAM Act” for which most immigrants’ rights groups have advocated. Candidates should be explicit in what they will and won’t accept. In contrast, Senator Kamala Harris has stated she won’t support any end-of-year spending package without a clean DREAM Act.

Members suggested that further discussions could separate immigration into two issues: comprehensive reform and a path to citizenship. Senators Harris and Feinstein have offered legislation that would protect undocumented farmworkers in California from deportation and create a path to citizenship.

Voting rights/gerrymandering:

Interestingly, California is one of the few states which has an independent, non-partisan commission draw its district lines, instituted by ballot proposition in 2011. At the national level, after the Supreme Court curtailed the federal Voting Rights Act, a critical tool to prevent discriminatory voting practices, several states have created serious obstacles to voting, including voter ID and registration restrictions, cutbacks on early voting, closing polling places in minority neighborhoods, and more. A member suggested examining the candidates’ opinions on the districting commission.

This was the first of what we’re sure will be several conversations about the 2018 Senate race. Future discussions will examine the remaining issues suggested during the meeting.

Votes for each suggested issue:

  1. Healthcare – 15
  2. Immigration – 15
  3. Voting rights/gerrymandering – 15
  4. Environment/climate change – 13
  5. Reproductive rights/women’s rights – 10
  6. Campaign donors/transparency – 10
  7. Judicial appointments – 8
  8. Public schools & charterization – 7
  9. Lobbying/corporate money – 5
  10. Racial justice – 5
  11. Impeachment – 5
  12. Criminal Justice – 3
  13. Labor – 3
  14. Second amendment – 2
  15. LGBTQIA+ rights – 2
  16. Accessibility to elected officials – 1
  17. Minimum wage – 1
  18. Disability rights – 1

Assembly District 15 Candidate Forum

There’s a crowded race to fill Tony Thurmond’s California State Assembly District 15 seat, which he’s leaving to run for state superintendent of public instruction in 2018. Hear the candidates who’ve already announced, at the Assembly District 15 Candidate Forum, Saturday, November 4, 2017, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Contra Costa College, 2600 Mission Bell Dr., San Pablo, in the Room 225, General Education Bldg.

Hosted by the California Democratic Party African American Caucus, the forum is co-sponsored by Contra Costa College, Black Women Organized for Political Action, and the El Cerrito Democratic Club.

City of San Pablo Vice Mayor Genoveva Calloway and Contra Costa Community College District Board Member John Marquez will welcome the community to the City and to Contra Costa College. Paul Cobb, publisher of The Post News Group, will serve as moderator.

Candidates who will attend (in alphabetical order): Judy Appel, Ben Bartlett, Jovanka BecklesDan Kalb, Andy Katz, Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, Owen Poindexter, Cheryl Sudduth, and Buffy Wicks.

The event is free, you can register here (not required). Any questions – contact Mister Phillips (510) 556-1951, the California Democratic Party African American Caucus Secretary. Can’t make it to the event? Submit questions for possible inclusion.

District 15 includes Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Piedmont in Alameda County, and El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Richmond and San Pablo in Contra Costa County.California State Assembly district 15 map