Imagine Fully Funded Public Schools

By Ted Lam

I imagine a California where our public schools have most of the funding they need, and where our teachers don’t have to shell out their own money for school supplies.

To work to make that vision a reality, this past Sunday I joined ten volunteers from Evolve-CA in the Mission in San Francisco to collect signatures to put Proposition 13 reform on the November ballot in California, seeking to close the corporate real estate loophole that’s been on the books since voters passed that proposition in 1978. It was a beautiful day in the city and families took advantage of the weather to do chalk art, bicycle with their kids, and listen to mariachi bands.

The ballot measure to reform Prop. 13 would keep residential property taxes the same but annually assess corporate real estate valued at $2 million or greater at market rate, as other progressive states do. At least 40% of the funds would go to public schools; the rest would stay in various forms in local communities. California could see at least $6 billion a year in additional revenues. Contra Costa County alone would see at least an additional $200 million each year.

Before we started, 60,000 signatures had already been collected statewide. Around 600,000 California registered voters’ signatures must be collected and submitted by May 1 to qualify the ballot measure for November’s election. But this is easy and fun work – in five hours on Sunday we collected over 400 signatures!

Want to help? Join the fun and volunteer to gather signatures at San Francisco’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Or check out other times and ways to volunteer in the campaign to reform Prop. 13. Give it a try and help our public schools!

Read more here about Prop. 13 and why it needs to be reformed.

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer.

Photograph by Ted Lam

A Conversation with Steve Haro, Senator Feinstein’s Chief of Staff in DC

By Catherine de Neergaard

Things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes you have to improvise. Such was the case when Steve Haro, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Chief of Staff, met with Indivisible representatives on February 21, 2018.

As Chief of Staff, Mr Haro occupies the most prestigious position on Feinstein’s staff. Previously, he has had been Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs in the U.S. Department Commerce under President Obama.

Because Mr. Haro remained in Washington, the Indivisible group arranged for a video conference at WeWork in the Oakland Civic Center. Unfortunately, there was an Internet outage at the Center that day. So, we instead opted for an audio-only call. Not an optimal solution, but it sufficed to get the job done.

Once we were connected, and introductions were given, we proceeded to work our way through a list of agreed-upon topics.

DACA:

We thanked Senator Feinstein for holding out for a clean DREAM ACT for the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA).

Haro said that Senator Feinstein was disappointed not to get a “Clean Dream” rider on the Continuing Resolution for funding. Mr. Haro related at considerable length the inside drama and difficulties of getting the twelve Republican votes needed to pass a compromise bipartisan Immigration (DACA) Bill. The Democrats conceded much just to get the bill to the floor. Unfortunately, after the GOP leadership lobbied against it, even the most bipartisan immigration deal the Senate considered only got eight Republican votes and the bill failed.

Regarding the brief shutdown of the government that resulted from the immigration policies dispute, Mr. Haro gave us some new insight into how the senator thought it went down. In spite of strong reservations about the negative effects of a government shutdown, the senator voted against both the continuing resolution (CR) that would have kept it open and the CR that opened it back up. And she thought that Democrats didn’t allow enough time for it to work.

GUN SAFETY:

We thanked the Senator for her outspoken support of stricter gun control, including her bills banning bump stocks and all assault weapons.

Haro noted that Feinstein introduced a bill, together with Senator Flake, to increase the legal age to buy weapons to 21. But Democrats cannot get a single Senate Republican to co-sponsor a bill banning bumpstocks.

The key question for all such bills remains: How do we get to 60 votes in the Senate to support the bill? The answer, for now, is “We can’t.”

CLIMATE CHANGE:

Haro said that Senator Feinstein is working with colleagues to preserve current CAFE standards and prohibit waivers. The Senator also believes we must protect the jobs of scientists in government positions from politically-motivated firings—although it was not clear how she intends to accomplish this.

As to the Senator’s support for the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act and a timeline for a federal climate bill similar to California’s carbon auction model, Haro said he would have to “get back to us.”

We also asked Feinstein to support HJ 48, a constitutional amendment introduced in the House, to state that corporations are not people with the argument that corporate money drives harmful environmental policy.

FUNDING FOR THE 2020 CENSUS:

IEB remains concerned that continued underfunding of the 2020 census will prevent an orderly and fair redistricting of the House. Similarly, use of untried methodologies threaten to endanger an accurate count and leave out harder-to-reach people.

We asked: “What is Senator Feinstein’s plan to get more money for the census?” The answer was not encouraging. Haro said House Republicans hate census appropriations bills and fund them at the last minute. The Senate isn’t directly impacted by the census, so it is hard to get the Senators excited about this. Feinstein is pushing to prevent the census from asking about citizenship which, in her opinion, is as important as funding.

ELECTION SECURITY:

We asked: “What can Congress/Senate do in the absence of executive support to ensure fair elections?” and “What has the Senator done to advance the Secure Elections Act or similar legislation?”

Haro observed that when voter turnout is high, Democrats generally win. That’s why Democrats want people to vote and Republicans do not. He is concerned that a low voter turnout, encouraged by Republican voting restrictions, will negatively impact Democrats. Obviously, the GOP has no interest in taking on this issue.

Other than noting Feinstein’s support for paper ballots, his answers did not directly address our questions. He did say that he was unfamiliar with some of the specifics we raised and would look into them further.

NATIONAL SECURITY AND NUCLEAR WAR:

We thanked Senator Feinstein for her deep concerns about U.S. relations with North Korea. She is already a co-sponsor of S. 200 which restricts the first use of nuclear weapons. However, we asked that her concerns about U.S. involvement in the Middle East be stronger than they appear.

Feinstein supports repealing the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). However, Haro expects no action on this matter any time soon. The issue has gone quiet, apparently because the GOP views any change as an attack against Trump. He told us that he personally feels some regret that Democrats didn’t work with President Obama on some of these issues regarding curtainling executive power; he might have been open to it, and it wouldn’t have had the appearance of a partisan attack.

JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS:

The Republican-dominated Senate Judiciary Committee continues to nominate untried, inexperienced, and young conservative Republicans for lifetime judgeships. The “blue slip” process, whereby the senators of a state are consulted and partisan input is preserved, continues to be bypassed or ignored. In other words, the GOP is rapidly stacking the courts. We asked: “What can we and the Senator do to stop this travesty?”

Haro replied that, other than delaying tactics, there is little the Democrats can do. The key is to “Take back the Senate.” He specifically suggested we (Indivisible nationally) focus on helping vulnerable blue senators in states where Trump won in 2016 and trying to pick up seats in Nevada and Arizona.

WE WANT A TOWN HALL

For the past several meetings with Feinstein’s staff, we have asked about the Senator’s reluctance to hold town hall meetings where the public can ask questions. We did so again at this meeting.

Haro responded that town halls take a tremendous amount of time, energy and resources to produce.

 

Catherine de Neergaard is a gardener, artist, and environmental Activist working within a variety of organizations including Quaker Earthcare Witness, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Kensington Green, and, of course, Indivisible.

Photograph by Catherine de Neergaard

CoCo Sheriff Retaliates Against Advocates Helping Detainees

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, under investigation for mistreatment of ICE detainees, has retaliated against the group that helped the detainees and helped spark the investigation.

On March 6, 2018, the office of Sheriff Livingston terminated the visitation program at the West County Detention Facility (WCDF) that the non-profit advocacy group Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) had operated to assist detainees and their families. Since 2011, CIVIC volunteers have been providing services to the families of detainees and post-release support to those who are released or deported. They are sometimes the only people the detainees can talk to about their cases, or their only contact with the outside world if their family is far away or can’t visit.

The Sheriff claimed that volunteers violated policy, but CIVIC asserts that the revocation was in retaliation for its part in bringing immigrants’ allegations of abuse at the facility to the light of day, which led to investigations by state and federal officials.

While CIVIC works with the ACLU to contest the revocation, here are several things we can do to help CIVIC and the detainees and their families:

  • Learn more about CIVIC here and sign up here to get updates and alerts from the Friends of CIVIC about how you can help.
  • Read the ACLU’s letter to the Sheriff’s office.
  • Attend events to support the detainees held at WCDF, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond. The Interfaith Coalition for Human Rights holds a monthly vigil there, usually on the first Saturday of every month – check their calendar for exact date and time. Kehilla Community Synagogue’s Immigration Committee holds a protest at WCDF the second Sunday of each month, from 11 AM to 12 PM.
  • Call the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office at (925) 335-1500 to express your concern about the Sheriff’s current action, and urge them to restore CIVIC’s visitation program.
  • Please sign petitions that Together We Will Contra Costa launched, and which IEB and many other groups have co-sponsored, to ask local Democratic representatives who have endorsed Sheriff Livingston to rescind their endorsements.

Are you a constituent of Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11)? If so, please thank him for his hard work in support of immigrants, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 9:

U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier says it’s time for Contra Costa County to end its relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Democratic congressman from Concord, who recently toured the Richmond jail that the county leases to the federal government for detention of undocumented immigrants, said that the Contra Costa County sheriff’s office’s move this week to ban volunteers from visiting immigrants inside the jail — to check on their well-being — was the last straw.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095

Read our article about the statement released by the ICE Out of California Coalition, signed by IEB and other groups.

Photograph by Boardhead (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

March For Our Lives & Other Events Against Gun Violence

There are numerous events against gun violence on different dates in different locations. We will add to and edit this list as we learn of new events and/or updates.

March 14: School Walkouts:

Schools and students nationwide will participate in a 17-minute walkout on March 14 at 10 AM (local time), to honor the 17 people killed on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and to protest gun violence. KRON-4 News has put together this comprehensive list of all the participating schools in the entire Bay Area. Some school districts, including Oakland, Alameda, and Piedmont, have issued district-wide policies stating that they will be working with students on various events and activities for that day. Note: IEB is not encouraging students to do anything that could endanger their academic careers, and we don’t know whether specific schools will mark students absent, etc., or whether parental notification will affect the school’s handling of individual cases.

March 24: March For Our Lives

Student organizers and Everytown for Gun Safety are organizing March for Our Lives events on March 24 in locations around the country and around the world, aided by celebrity support and donations. This is the weekend event that families can go to together and kids and teens can attend without missing school. Bay Area locations include:

  • Oakland: 10 AM-1 PM, Frank Ogawa Plaza. Register here. The March is looking for volunteers; email OaklandMarch@gmail.com.
  • Richmond: 11 AM, Downtown Richmond, 1300 Nevin Ave
  • San Leandro: 9-11:30 AM. Gather at Washington Elementary, San Leandro at 9 AM to make signs; march begins at 9:45 AM; rally begins at 10:15 AM with speakers and activities (postcard making, letter writing, and refreshments). This event is suitable for families with young children.
  • Walnut Creek: 11 AM, location downtown Walnut Creek TBD
  • San Francisco: 1 PM, Civic Center Plaza. Interested in volunteering? Reach out here.
  • Search for an event near you here.

April 20: The Anniversary of Columbine

The two students who massacred their fellow students and several teachers at their high school in Columbine, Colorado on April 20, 1999 used explosives and other weapons of mass destruction as well as guns, but Columbine is generally recognized as the mass school shooting that began the modern plague that our nation has suffered from unremittingly in the nearly two decades since. In those days before live internet news, people watched and listened in horror as radio and TV reported what was previously unimaginable. Now, a student who lives near Sandy Hook, site of another previously unimaginable school shooting, has originated a call to mark the date: Friday, April 20 will see school walkouts throughout the country. We’ll list Bay Area events as we learn of them.

Graphic: #MarchForOurLives

All Members Meeting: How to Flip Red Districts

At the February All Member Meeting, Indivisible East Bay members heard from representatives from two organizations working hard to get out the vote in not-too-faraway red districts. Kook Huber from Organizing for Action gave an impassioned rationale for what motivates her to get out the vote:

I am a first generation American. I am upset and angry every day when [the president] talks about immigrants and criminals all in one breath. He allowed white supremacists to talk about us, people of color, with hatred. That motivates me.

California is the key to flipping Congress blue, since Democrats only need to convert 24 out of the 60-70 districts in the United States considered flippable — and seven of those districts are in California. Indivisible East Bay has joined with the CD-21 Action Coalition, which Kook is spearheading. The coalition is focused on District 21 because it’s relatively close to the Bay Area, and because Hillary Clinton won it in 2016 by 15.5%, although David Valadao, the current Republican representative, beat the Democratic candidate by 13%.

Kook urged the audience to consider going to District 21 to canvass in person, or to join a phone bank – she emphasized that direct contact is best, with volunteers going door to door being the most effective way to get out the vote. Phone banking will be available in San Pablo and Walnut Creek, and the Coalition’s aim is to put together more volunteer opportunities—and to spread the word that Spanish speakers are particularly needed.

Several Indivisible East Bay members have also been working with Working America, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO aimed at canvassing. Laura Jo Foo, a Working America coordinator, told us there are now nine paid staff in an office in Modesto helping train volunteers to canvass and knock on doors. Since last June, they’ve trained 300 volunteers, including folks from Indivisible, Our Revolution, and other organizations. The goal is to to talk to every person who answers their door in CA-21. While Laura Jo said Working America is non-partisan, at the primary level they support the labor-endorsed candidate. Laura Jo told us, “We engage in deep listening more than talking. We ask ‘what keeps you up at night and why’—that is our opportunity to do the education part.”

While their efforts in California are new, Working America has canvassed for 15 years in swing states. Out of 400 elections, they have a 70% win rate in close races. Laura Jo shared that efforts in CD-21 and CD-10 are critical and echoed what Kook said: the Bay Area is critical to flipping these nearby districts.

Ready to help? Here are some actions you can take:

  • Canvass with Working America AFL-CIO in Central Valley swing districts CA-10 (Modesto) and CA-21 (San Joaquin Valley). You’ll get excellent training and can then sign up for volunteer shifts.
  • Sign up here to help the CD-21 Action Coalition in ways other than canvassing – see their phone bank schedule and check out other volunteer opportunities.
  • Canvass in CA-21 with Swing Left East Bay. Check upcoming events and sign up to be trained & attend here.
  • Check out a wide variety of volunteer opportunities listed by Democracy Action.
  • See the “Phone & Text Banks” and “Help Us Flip This Thing” sections in our weekly newsletter. Don’t get the newsletter? Subscribe to it here.
  • Join the Elections channel on IEB’s Slack platform. Want an invite to join Slack? Please drop us a line at info@indivisibleeb.org 

CADEM 2018

By Nancy Latham

At the California Democratic Convention in San Diego (February 23-25), I was thrilled to be around thousands of other activists and political junkies. While there was divisiveness, mostly there was inspiration. Here is what stood out:

CADEM

  • California’s open primary system can threaten the blue wave. After months of impressive point swings toward Democrats in elections since November 2016, I had blithely assumed that we would flip the House – it would simply take hard work, and we have the hard-working activist base we need. I had not dwelled on the implications of our open primary system, in which the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party. But early on day one I was buttonholed by an Indivisible member from SoCal worried that there are so many Democrats running in Congressional District 45, they are likely to emerge from the primary with two Republican candidates. Multiple districts face the problem of too many Democratic hopefuls jeopardizing the chances of any Democrats advancing to the general election in November, and there’s no clear solution.  
  • The labor movement rocks! I went to a labor panel, the labor caucus, union booths, and a union rally on Janus v. AFSCME. I was inspired to hear Dolores Huerta speak at the labor caucus, and the crowd went wild for her. Many labor speakers reminded us that unions are not simply about negotiating about conditions and pay with a particular employer. Fundamentally, the labor movement is on the forefront of advocating for the general welfare of working families. It is our largest and most important bulwark against the special interests of big business and the hyper-rich. And labor shows up to protest mass incarceration, gun violence, discrimination against LGBTQ communities. Every union member who spoke addressed the audience as “brothers and sisters.” It is so simple, and yet I felt it viscerally every time – union members belong to a big family fighting for social justice for all.

CADEM

  • We have so many fabulous women in the party! There were many wonderful speakers who were men (Jon Lovett showed up!), but it was truly intoxicating to hear from women – three who stood out to me at a General Session were Assemblymember Shirley Weber, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Senator Kamala Harris. Senator Harris reminded us of our values:

We know why we’re here – we are here to fight for the future of our children, we are here to fight for the future of our democracy. We need to think of 2018 as the most important year of our lives. Let’s remember what our dear Dolores Huerta says. Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person is a potential activist, every minute is a chance to change the world. … For us Democrats, the challenge for us in 2018 is to remind Americans of how much more we have in common than what separate us…. And there is so much we have in common. … Let’s remember our common story, our American story. 

CADEM

  • It was amazing to bond with the San Diego Indivisibles. Through the California Indivisible Slack, I connected with Tama, who leads an Indivisible group for Congressional District 52. It was so wonderful to get to know her, and on Saturday night another SD Indivisible hosted a party to say hi to Indivisibles who had come to the Convention from across the state. They all welcomed me into their extended family right off the bat! The weekend reminded me that this movement goes beyond our political action – it also speaks to our deep human need to build community. More than anything, it is our new social bonds, and the willingness of all of us to have one another’s back, that gives me hope.  

CADEM Nancy Latham Picture 4 - SD Indivisibles

Nancy Latham is passionate about advocating for an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. 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.

Political and Proud: Alameda’s High Schoolers Voice a Call To Action

On February 21, 2018, Indivisible East Bay joined high schoolers, parents, and public officials from the Bay Area for Political and Proud, an evening of speeches and workshops at Alameda’s Encinal High School. The goal of the night was to bring young women, especially young women of color, together with leaders and organizations that could encourage and inform them as they set out on the path to building America’s more perfect union.

Judging by this event, Alameda’s future leaders are an incredibly organized and serious group of young women. They filled their school’s big gymnasium with decorated guest tables and a huge selection of organizing stations. Indivisible East Bay set up next to Alameda4Impeachment, Women’s March Oakland, The League of Women Voters, and more. The atmosphere was very much one of collaboration and community; Encinal High’s student AV technicians, journalists, and organizers did a wonderful job of managing and documenting a complex event.

A long line of impressive public officials gave speeches throughout the evening. Alameda’s mayor, Trish Herrera Spencer, talked about being Latina in law school, and encouraged everyone present to give themselves to as many opportunities as possible, no matter how remote the chance of success might seem. “When you show up, look around. Someone in that room will like you,” she said, to cheering and applause.

She noted, crucially, that more than one million Californian 17 year-olds will be eligible to vote come November 2018. It’s on us to make sure every one of them is registered and excited to participate.

A young woman with a small camera records an older woman speaking into the camera. They're on opposite sides of a table with an Indivisible East Bay banner on the front. A man stands to their left.
Volunteers recording a short interview about Indivisible East Bay with one of Encinal High’s student journalists.

Hydra Mendoza, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education and Equity in the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, spoke clearly to the students, saying: “We are dependent on your ability to educate yourselves.” Mendoza described the challenges she faced as a young woman of color running for public office in San Francisco, and made a brave attempt to explain redlining and the concept of generational wealth to an audience that may never own property unless their parents buy it for them. Hopefully they, unlike Millennials who will rent apartments into their retirement, force a change in this system before they end up trapped in it.

Pamela Price, currently running for District Attorney of Alameda County, gave a rousing speech that detailed her own experience as a litigant in a Title IX sexual harassment case. Price tied her role in this important case to her long career as a civil rights lawyer, and echoed the same themes as the mayor when she exhorted the audience to “fill out the application, okay? You don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Price ended on a resonant point: Alameda County is the most progressive in the country, and its teenagers have been chosen by virtue of their time here to lead the rest of the country to a progressive future that echoes the values they’ve learned in Alameda. What is familiar to them must become familiar to their counterparts in Alabama and Georgia if we’re to keep pushing the country forward. Listening to the speeches and watching the organizers manage it all, it was difficult not to agree with Price – and it was impossible not to feel a deep belief in the capacity of her bright young audience to change America for the better.

Images courtesy of Photography by Rex.

El Cerrito Shows Up: Join Us!

El Cerrito Shows Up, a weekly rally held next to a busy intersection where El Cerrito, Richmond, and Albany converge, was sparked by the fury and grief that erupted after a white supremacist murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia. Buoyed by the outpouring of strength and solace many felt from coming together at a candlelight vigil in support of the Charlottesville protestors, several activists started EC Shows Ups to offer a place in the heart of their community where people could “speak out for equality, justice, inclusiveness and more, and to stand against hatred & bigotry.”

Two weeks after Heyer’s murder, the first EC Shows Up protest was held, and people have continued to Show Up every Wednesday since, other than pausing for a few dark winter weeks. The Show Ups started again on Valentine’s Day, chosen for the symbolic impact of showing love for each other and for all whose lives and rights are under attack by the current administration and majority party. Several families, kids and all, are regulars, and local politicians, including Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia and the more progressive El Cerrito city council members, occasionally drop by to show their support. Many passing cars honk to show their support as well, and the group cheers when an AC Transit bus driver pulling up to the nearby bus stop honks! There’s never a shortage of outrages to protest, or of vulnerable groups to support, whether it’s DACA, gun control, the tax scam, impeachment, the environment …. Most people bring their own handmade signs, and there are usually extras to share, as well as some sign-making materials.

El Cerrito Shows Up

You are invited to Show Up, every Wednesday at the west entrance to El Cerrito Plaza, intersection of San Pablo & Carlson, on the sidewalk near Daiso. All are welcome; the only requirement is to agree to assemble lawfully and commit to non-violent and respectful conduct. On March 7, 2018, Show Up from 5:30 to 6:30 PM; then starting March 14, 2018 and ongoing after that, from 6 to 7 PM. Follow the EC Shows Up Facebook page and events listings for updates.

IEB member George, who has attended every EC Shows Up, gives his personal take on the genesis of the rallies, and explains why he keeps showing up:

Last August’s events in Charlottesville shocked, frightened, and angered my wife Heidi and me. We watched the rise of the fascist hydra since before and after Trump’s election. The fascists were emboldened, determined, and most alarmingly, uncovered. No longer afraid to hide in the shadows, they left their bandanas and Klan hoods at home. Then, that weekend in Charlottesville: three people were dead.

George drew connections between Virginia, the nationwide rise in fascist attacks, and locally, the murder of an African American man outside a tavern in El Sobrante by at least three white men wearing MAGA hats.  

We turned our desperate need to respond to the horrors in Charlottesville, and to be with others who felt the same, into action. Nearly 120 people showed up at the candlelight vigil that we called for in our small neighborhood park. We shared our feelings as we stood in a large circle in the dark, with our candles burning.

George recalls talking to many people after the vigil who wanted to gather regularly. He said, “we needed to be present, unafraid and unmasked, with others who shared our outrage at and terror of the Trump administration. We needed a consistent presence to let the government, local and afar, know that WE ARE HERE and WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY!” Within a few days the connections drawn from Charlottesville to a small park in El Cerrito resulted in El Cerrito Shows Up.

Charlottesville candellight circle

And since an army of resisters marches on its stomach, George threw in a final enticement: “the Off The Grid food trucks are a mere block away on Wednesdays! Bring the family and friends, have dinner and exercise your First Amendment rights with other loving committed people.”

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

 

Save Alta Bates: CNA Hosts Forum and You Can Take Action

The California Nurses Association (CNA) hosted a forum on February 3, 2018 on their initiative to save Alta Bates from closure by Sutter Health. State Senator Nancy Skinner, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Berkeley Fire Chief Dave Brannigan, and other East Bay officials and citizens spoke over the course of several hours to a standing room only audience at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley.

As Berkeleyside reports, Sutter recently announced “plans to relocate emergency and delivery services to Oakland’s Summit campus by 2030, the state’s deadline for full-service hospitals to make seismic upgrades.” Every speaker emphasized that such a significant change would devastate the already overburdened health care services in the East Bay. Among other things, since Doctors Medical Center of San Pablo closed in 2015, Alta Bates has under state law been the only medical facility that serves the whole of the East Bay north of Oakland (including west Contra Costa County) where emergency services like paramedics can deliver patients.

Sen. Skinner and Mayor Arreguín addressed Sutter Health’s status as a non-profit entity and state and city governments’ ability to regulate it. Particularly, Skinner spoke of Senate Bill 687, a bill she authored that would have given the Attorney General oversight of hospital closures. Governor Brown vetoed S.B. 687 last year, and Skinner now plans to rework the bill. Mayor Arreguín questioned Sutter’s non-profit status, noting that Sutter had over $15 million in assets after 2016 and asking whether it was providing the requisite “community benefits” to receive that status and if Alta Bates’ closure would affect the answer to that question.

Near the end of the program, Chief Brannigan spoke to Alta Bates’ role in providing emergency medical services, working as a crucial node in the nexus for firefighters and paramedics. Alta Bates’ closure would increase transit time to doctors at locations in Oakland and add to those sites’ existing workload. Those minutes can make the difference in individual cases of life or death, and can be catastrophic in a regional emergency like an earthquake. And that’s not to mention the significant overhaul that the dispatch and response services would have to undergo, which would take years to implement at significant cost to taxpayers.

At the conclusion of the forum attendees filled out postcards to Sutter’s CEO, requesting that Sutter invest in retrofitting Alta Bates or sell it to someone who would retrofit rather than close it. Indivisible East Bay will continue to follow this story as it develops. In the meantime, here are some ways you can support Alta Bates:

  • Write to Sutter CEO Sarah Krevans, 2480 Natomas Park Dr #150, Sacramento, CA 95833, expressing your support for keeping Alta Bates open for the good of the community and the entire East Bay.
  • Say thank you to Sen. Nancy Skinner for her work to keep Alta Bates open and to require oversight of proposed hospital closures.
  • If you live in Berkeley or Oakland, tell your City Council member(s) you want them to support keeping Alta Bates open and to continue oversight of Sutter’s attempts to close the facility.