Protect the Farm Bill in Conference

We’ve been writing for some time about the Farm Bill, an immense piece of legislation that – among many, many other things – covers SNAP/CalFresh (aka food stamps). Once again, we need you to contact your members of Congress to protect this crucial benefit that helps one in eight Americans put food on the table.

This past June, H.R. 2, the version of the Farm Bill rammed through by Republicans in the House of Representatives, drastically cut access to SNAP; the Senate passed a version that protected the program; and the bill is now in conference to resolve differences between the two versions. These differences concerning SNAP have been a huge blocker to passing the legislation, which comes up for renewal every five years, but now Democrats have a stronger hand due to winning back the House. It will be hard to pass legislation between the election and next January, when the new Congress takes over (known as a lame duck session), and especially when control is passing from one party to another – but Congress seems determined to pass the Farm Bill, and they’re feeling heat to get it done.

Please call your members of Congress and tell them to protect SNAP and oppose any stringent requirements for these benefits. Find more info about SNAP here.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your past support of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka SNAP). I’m calling to ask you to protect and strengthen SNAP and vote down any Republican efforts to weaken the program or cut its funding in the Farm Bill.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

Don’t Let the Government Destroy Important Environmental Documents

Deadline: November 26, 2018

The Current Occupant’s tradition of lying is by now well-known, but sometimes it’s easier if something just … happens to the truth, especially to documentation of the truth. And so Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Department of the Interior (at least as of this writing), has sent National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) a massive “Request for Records Disposition Authority” – or in normal language, a request to destroy a huge quantity of records concerning environmental protection.

What kind of records? The request involves documents about oil and gas leases, mining, dams, wells, timber sales, marine conservation, fishing, endangered species, non-endangered species, critical habitats, land acquisition, and lots more. Documents from every agency within the Interior Department, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others. Documents going back more than 50 years. Thousands of cubic feet of paper documents. Gigabytes of digital documents.

And there’s more. Besides documents that already exist, the proposed schedule of destruction will also apply to all future documents created in these categories (whether on paper or born digital). In other words: Records supporting environmental concerns could, literally, vanish in favor of the administration’s industry supporters and financers.

More details about the NARA procedure in general and this request in specific in this excellent resource.

What You Can Do

(1) Contact your Members of Congress:

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

Sample Script:

My name is _______, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has asked the National Archives for a massive destruction of records that normally are kept for historical purposes. This is an unusual and troubling request. I am asking you to investigate this request and to stop the destruction of important and valuable records. The National Archives ID number is DAA-0048-2015-0003.

(2) Email to request.schedule@nara.gov with a Public Comment. Deadline: November 26, 2018.

Sample Script:

My name is _______, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I am writing about action DAA-0048-2015-0003. I am against this massive destruction of records. This content would normally be kept and preserved by the U.S. Dept of Interior. I am asking National Archives to deny Secretary Zinke’s request so that these records are kept as they should be.

[Sign with your name, other contact info you wish to give out.]

 

Help Mike Espy win 11/27 special election

Deadline: today and until November 27 –

Surprise! Election season 2018 isn’t over! On November 27, 2018, Democrats have a chance to win a special election for the US Senate seat vacated by Thad Cochran in Mississippi. Representative Mike Espy, former Agriculture Secretary under Bill Clinton, is running against Trump-endorsed Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, who replaced Cochran on an interim basis.

Espy, who would be Mississippi’s first African-American Senator since Reconstruction, is running as a moderate Democrat. He has stated his support for an increased minimum wage, paid family leave, expanding funding for Medicaid and CHIP, and women’s health initiatives and the right to choose.

We’re organizing events and publicizing other groups’ efforts to support Espy’s run because this is a chance to narrow the Senate’s partisan divide and hopefully force the GOP to the table on more issues. Below is information about our events and other ways you can get involved on your own. Please keep an eye on this post, our website, and the newsletter as we continue to organize to win this seat!

What you can do:

How do you spell success? TLW-GOTMFV

How do you spell “success”? Let me rephrase that: How do you spell “spectacular success”?

The answer is: TLW — as in Indivisible East Bay’s spectacularly successful “The Last Weekend” TLW GOTMFV Palooza. Organized by IEB Governance Committee (GC) member Nancy Latham, with generous and hard-working assistance from numerous other IEB members, the event offered Get Out The Vote phone and text banking, mobilizing voters by district, by issue, and by demographic in critical races across the country.

More than a hundred of us (of YOU!) hunkered down each day from 9 AM to 9 PM on the Last Weekend before the election, November 3rd and 4th, at a house in Oakland’s beautiful Preservation Park. We’d hoped anyone who wasn’t off canvassing in Reno or another California district would show up, but the actual tally blew our estimates away. Volunteers kept coming from all over the East Bay, and by the end over 160 people, many of whom were connecting with IEB for the first time, joined our ranks. And we (YOU!) contacted thousands and thousands of voters!

GC member Nancy
GC member Nancy training a new texter

Some of the many heroes who made the complex event go smoothly: GC member and Senate teams co-lead Linh made sure the over-taxed Wi-Fi network stayed functional, and GC member and newsletter editor Ann offered friendly and helpful greetings at the door (for 9 hours each day!) Many other IEB members provided instant training sessions to first-timers as well as all other support. And a cornucopia of food and drinks helped fuel the massive effort — almost all supplied by donations from IEB members.

GC member Ann
GC member Ann, with earrings made from “I voted by mail” stickers

Did it make a difference? We are confident it did. But you can decide for yourself. Here are just two examples of the many anecdotes we received from volunteers:

One young volunteer was on the phone with someone who wasn’t planning on voting because she was convinced her vote wouldn’t count. The volunteer explained how she used to think the same thing. But then 2016 happened. She talked about the fact that no matter what happened, if she voted, she could feel good about doing her part. The person began to soften but was still concerned that she didn’t know anything about the candidates. So the volunteer gave the person some URLs with candidate information and they looked at them together. By the end of the call, the woman said she would vote!

GC member Nick
GC member Nick text banking

Another volunteer relayed the following: “I called a woman in CA-21, the district that TJ Cox was running in, and asked about her mail-in ballot, because it looked as if she hasn’t sent it back yet. First she said she never received it; then she went through her mail and found it. She wasn’t sure she had time to fill it out, but I talked to her about how important this election is, and how great a guy TJ is — that he will put country over party. I gave her information on where to go to vote and told her she didn’t have to fill out every part of the ballot (she was intimidated by its length)! By the time we got off the phone, I could tell she was smiling and she promised to fill it out and drop it off!”

Nancy Latham contributed to this article, including the top photograph. Other photos by Ted Landau.

 

Rapid response protests called for 11/8 at 5 PM

BREAKING: PROTESTS CALLED FOR THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 5 PM LOCAL TIME, by the Nobody Is Above the Law network

Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the Special Counsel Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation. By replacing Rod Rosenstein with just-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as special counsel Robert Mueller’s boss on the investigation, Trump has undercut the independence of the investigation. Whitaker has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it.

The Nobody Is Above the Law network and its coalition of partners has demanded that Whitaker immediately commit not to assume supervision of the investigation, and its hundreds of response events are being launched to demonstrate the public demand for action to correct this injustice. The NIAL demands are:

  • Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has a profound conflict and must be removed from overseeing the Mueller investigation.
  • Congress must exercise its Constitutional authority to hold the President accountable and pass legislation to protect the Mueller investigation.
  • Any future Attorney General appointed by Trump must issue a public order giving Mueller full independence to complete the investigation without political interference.

What to do NOW:

 

Some ways to prepare:

  • Read the ACLU’s article Know Your Rights: Free Speech, Protests & Demonstrations
  • Download the ACLU’s Mobile Justice app to record police activity and send it immediately to the ACLU affiliate nearest you. Get the California app, MobileJusticeCA
  • Put the National Lawyers Guild hotline numbers into your phone, and write them on your arm in ink:
    • to call from local jails ONLY: 415-285-1011
    • outside of jail calls, call NLG hotline volunteers: 415-909-4NLG (4654)
    • if no answer, send an email to the NLG Demonstrations Committee at nlgsfhotline@protonmail.com
  • Get your go-bag together:
    • charged cell phone and portable power if you have
    • water bottle and energy bars or other portable food
    • medications you may need
    • layers of clothing to add if it gets cold
    • a sign with your message

Note, these are the “red lines” previously issued by MoveOn, Indivisible, and many other groups:

    • If Trump fires Mueller or Rosenstein
    • If Trump pardons key witnesses
    • If Trump takes another action that prevents the investigation from being conducted freely, such as replacing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller’s current supervisor or repealing the regulations establishing the office
    • Additional red line added on Sept. 24: The Mueller investigation releases findings showing significant wrongdoing by Donald Trump. Or Congress or the administration blocks the public from seeing Mueller’s findings.

 

Text Out the Vote

Deadline: today and every day until November 6 –

We gave you the lowdown on canvassing and phone banking, the most effective Get Out The Vote (GOTV) tools. Next up, and ideal if you can’t travel to a flippable district or make phone calls: peer-to-peer text banking!

Texting voters is effective, fast, and flexible. You can do it on your phone, computer, or tablet. And best of all, you can fit it into your busy schedule — during breaks at work, riding on BART, any time you’ve got a few free minutes. 

There are different texting platforms, but the basics are similar: sign up, read the instructions, join the platform’s Slack channel (a chat room where you interact with team managers and fellow texters), and log into the platform. Finally, follow directions to choose a workflow and request to be added.

For most platforms you can text from your phone using an app, or from your computer by logging into a website. Both have initial messages you’ll send out; after that you’ll reply to people who respond, using canned answers tailored for each workflow. You’ll also apply certain tags to help the organizers know how to proceed with each person texted. 

Here are some great choices to dive in and start texting for The Blue Wave!

IndivisiText

Indivisible National’s texting team, IndivisiText, uses the common texting app and website Hustle, which works either on a phone or computer. To get started:

  • Read the texting training guide
  • Take this quiz, then follow the instructions to join Hustle and IndivisiText’s Slack
  • Check the IndivisiText Hustle campaign tracker to see what’s available each day (9 AM to 9 PM local time where you’re texting), join one of the open channels, and post that you completed the quiz
  • Post in the campaign Slack channel you choose from the tracker, and tag a moderator to say you completed the quiz
  • Open the Hustle app or website and start texting! Post questions on Slack, where the moderators are great about responding
  • IndivisiText automatically reassigns to another texter to conversations that are inactive for about 20 minutes, so along with replying to the people you texted, you’ll also help out by following up for others.

Resistance Labs

Resistance Labs (RL) also uses the Hustle texting interface and communicates via Slack and a private facebook group

  • Sign up here and follow the directions at RL’s New Volunteer Training
  • See the Workflow Instructions, and once you’re set up, for new workflows fill out the Shift Sign-Up form
  • See the RL Texter Help Center here
  • Note that on RL only you can reply to responses from the people you’ve texted, so make sure to check frequently. 

MoveOn 

Moveon.org’s texting team uses Spoke rather than Hustle, and also has its own Slack chat room to organize requests for workflows and support. You can learn more and join the team here.

VoteWithMe app

Finally, want to personalize your texting along with reaching out to strangers? The VoteWithMe app uses public records and your own network to pinpoint the highest impact potential voters whom you already know. You choose who to text, and you can personalize a suggested reminder to make sure they vote. Read more about using this very effective app to motivate your friends to vote in our article.

 

The Bottom Line:

Don’t want to wake up on November 7, 2018 and feel like you did on November 9, 2016? If you haven’t done any canvassing, phone banking or text banking yet, the time is NOW. If you have, it’s time to DO MORE!

GOTV with VoteWithMe app

Text banking is a popular way to help Get Out the Vote (GOTV). People like it because it’s quick, easy and you can do it from anywhere. But maybe you’re not comfortable sending messages to a bunch of strangers, or not convinced it has much effect. Enter VoteWithMe, a free phone app that automates the process of text banking to people you know — the friends and colleagues in your address book. The rationale, according to the app’s developers, is that “people are more likely to vote if a friend asks them to.”

Here’s how the app works. With your permission, VoteWithMe imports all the people in your contacts list. You can click on any name and get the person’s publicly available voting data. For example, you can see if the person is a registered Democrat or if they voted in the last few elections. You may find a few surprises — such as discovering that your next-door neighbor is a life-long Republican. I know of no other way to so easily access such data. It may feel a bit like snooping, but it’s all public info, completely legal — and kind of fun! 

VoteWithMe also provides key information — who’s running and who’s predicted to win — for the major elections (House, Senate, Governor) for each of your contacts, no matter where they live.

Via filters, you can limit the list of displayed contacts — such as showing only people who are Democrats and live in locations where there are currently “tight” races. You can use this to zero in on the people you believe are most critical to contact. VoteWithMe uses the non-partisan Cook Report to assess what seats are conceivably flippable.

Once you’re ready, VoteWithMe provides the text message itself, which you can personalize if you want, either reminding your friend to vote or (if they have a strong record of previously voting) asking them to download VoteWithMe and use it to remind others to vote. As to privacy concerns, VoteWithMe will never access anyone on your list independently of when you choose to do so.

Bottom line: You might be interested in VoteWithMe for the election information it provides. That’s fine. However, that’s not its purpose. VoteWithMe is primarily intended for sending GOTV text messages to the progressives in your contact list. The election is only days away — but it’s not too late for this app to help build the blue wave!

VoteWithMe app
VoteWithMe provides voting data and election information — to assist in sending text messages to your contacts.

It’s red or blue, not pink or blue

Deadline: Right Now! – His comments about grabbing women by the “private parts” inspired an airplane passenger to grope his unknown seatmate on October 21, 2018. Now, according to a Dept. of Health and Human Services memo obtained by the New York Times,* the Current Occupant is considering creating a rule to determine “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” as dictated by genitalia, original birth certificates, and genetic testing. In other words, everyone’s either male or female, registered according to what’s in their diaper, and how they’re registered is how they stay – and, no doubt, how their rights are determined. Banning trans folks from the armed services? We’re talking about banning them from legal existence. Non-binary? Nonexistent. Erasure.

What you can do: Be out about this. Which here means, whoever you are and however you identify – straight, LGBT, queer, cis, non-binary, whoever and however – talk about this. For some among us, this is a fight for existence, and it’s going to depend on visibility, acceptance into society, and normalization. So talk about this. Talk on social media and in your daily life. Talk with friends. Talk with like-minded people – this may not be on their radars, and it needs to be. Do you know people of faith? Ask them to talk to their fellow-congregants and even to preach about it. Here’s an amazing statement from a Lutheran minister; here’s a beautiful prayer from the Bay Area’s own Rabbi Reuben Zellman. Do you know scientists? Ask them to talk and write about it – science is on our side and people, we have to listen to the science.

What else you can do:

  • Use the hashtag #WontBeErased when you talk about this subject.
  • Are you on facebook? Want to add a #WontBeErased frame from the National Center for Transgender Equality to your profile photo, or a facebook cover photo? You can get them here.
  • The National Center for Transgender Equality #WontBeErased page also has a printable signs, message tips and more, if you want to hold an event.
  • Read Hell No to the Memo, published by Out Magazine, for a list of more action items

And stay tuned – if this rule is proposed, we’ll be asking you to comment on it!

Graphic copyright National Center for Transgender Equality

* Because the New York Times is behind a paywall, we usually use alternative sources. However, when, as here, the Times’ investigative journalism is the source of a story and they are the sole source for a document, we think it’s important to provide a direct link.

 

Is this the voter to whom I am speaking?

Deadline: today and every day until November 6 –

What do we want? To Get Out The Vote! When do we want it? Now through November 6! How are we gonna do it? By knocking on doors, making phone calls, and texting!

Our recent article went in-depth on the primo Get Out The Vote (GOTV) tool: canvassing. Next most effective, and ideal if you can’t travel to a flippable district: phone banking. We hear ya, maybe you’re not clinically phone-phobic, but you’ve avoided phone banking like many Indivisible East Bay members because:

I don’t like talking on the phone I’m too busy I’m afraid I won’t know what to say what if the person has a question I can’t answer I was uncomfortable making unwelcome & intrusive phone calls it reminds me of canvassing and how horrible some people were ….

The heroes who told us about these fears and obstacles are now confirmed phone bankers, dialing daily to save our democracy. How did they conquer those anxieties? A combo of using coping methods (snacks, bring a friend, pet a cat); finding out that IEB phone banks are run to address their concerns; and finally – the strongest motivation imaginable (remember how you felt on 11/9/16? this’ll be worse if we don’t do all we can).

I’ll let them tell you in their own words how and why they overcame their hesitations:

I’m so busy I can’t carve out two hours for the phone banks I saw listed, but I contacted the organizer for one near me and she was glad to have me come for however long I could. She also trained me so I now do phone calls on my own throughout the day.

I was scared I wouldn’t know what to say, but the training and the way the system is set up addressed that! The script is right there on the screen, and there are drop down options and prompts. The trainer also reassured us we didn’t have to know everything, we could refer people to the relevant website.

Phone banking makes me anxious, but knowing what to expect and how best to react is really important, and hearing positive stories of other people’s phone banking experiences.

Doing it in a group, and with the friend that I brought along, was so great. It’s stressful, but we took breaks for snacks and to swap stories about our best (and worst) calls.

I used to avoid phone-banking, but now I’m phone-banking a couple of times a week. I realized that if the GOP winds up retaining both houses of Congress I didn’t want to feel I had given less than a 100% effort to prevent it. I still get a queasy feeling before the first call each session but soon I’m rolling and even find myself enjoying the occasional conversations. The best part is I know how much better I’ll feel on Election Day.

So no more excuses, the stakes are too high. We truly need everyone to step up as we’re down to less than two weeks away from the election. One vote can make the difference in an election, YOUR CALL could tip a race.

  • Join us and bring everyone you know to The Last Weekend GOTMFV Palooza!! Saturday and Sunday November 3-4 from 9 AM to 9 PM: full service GOTV MACHINE – with phone banking and texting into multiple critical races, training and technical assistance, handouts, friendly competition, FOOD, and the best part: SAVING DEMOCRACY WITH ALL YOUR FELLOW WARRIORS!!
  • We list dozens of upcoming opportunities to phone bank and canvass on our calendar, and they all include mini-training sessions with experienced members to help you. Find IEB phone banks and canvassing trips and sign up at out our “Volunteer to Flip the G-D- Congress” list & calendar, also easily accessible on our home page
  • Sign up to get our weekly list of phone banks and canvassing trips
  • Check out opportunities to canvass, phone or text bank, write postcards, and more, with these great organizations IEB works in coalition with:
  • Join Indivisible Berkeley in canvassing, phone or text banking, and more! Check out IB events here.
  • See the East Bay for TJ Cox events calendar to support the CA-21 congressional candidate.
  • Canvass in CA-21 with Swing Left East Bay. Check upcoming events and sign up here.
  • Knock on doors to help flip CA-10 for Josh Harder. Info & sign up here.
  • Canvass with Working America AFL-CIO in CA-10 (Modesto) and CA-21 (San Joaquin Valley). You’ll get excellent training and can then sign up for volunteer shifts.

Finally, as a bonus for reading to the end of this article: phone banking can be fun — don’t take our word for it, Pod Save America says so. And read our article about our phone banks at Cat Town in Oakland!

Phone bank as if your future depends on it. Because it does.

Won’t you take me to Cat Town?

By Andrea Lum and Wesley Chang

Since October 2,  Indivisible East Bay has been fortunate enough to hold phone banking events at the unique space of Cat Town, near downtown Oakland. This quirky venue is part café and part cat shelter and is definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the area, especially (maybe only?) if you like cats.

The partnership developed from a need to find a free, quiet space (check) that was friendly to our progressive activities (check check) and might have a pawsitive effect on nervous phone bankers (meow and check). We are so grateful that Cat Town generously volunteered their space for us to use. It’s become so popular, we have had to close the registration twice in the past month!

Phone banking with Indivisible East Bay
Calmer calling amidst kitties. photo by Wesley Chang

On October 17, it was among a clowder of playful and friendly (and a tad skittish) cats that a group of volunteers gathered for their weekly phone banking. As the cats napped, climbed, and scurried about, volunteers worked on their laptops and phones, reaching out to potential swing voters in Nevada ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. The roaming cats were certainly a welcome diversion during breaks.  We may have provided a diversion to them as well.

Phone banking with Indivisible East Bay
Multi-tasking is an essential component of phone banking. photo by Wesley Chang

Many thanks to Ann Dunn and all the staff at Cat Town for their generosity in letting Indivisible East Bay use their beautiful space. If you follow Cat Town on Instagram, you might just find your next feline soul mate!

And a huge thank you to Pro Bono Photo for arranging the services of cat whisperer and photographer Wesley Chang for the fantastic photos!

It’s your turn! Please join us — sign up for as many phone banks or other Get Out the Vote events as you can from now until November 6. See our “Volunteer to Flip the G-D- Congress” list and calendar, and find out what you can do on the critical Last Weekend.