Flipping California District 21 Blue

By Ted Lam

The California Congressional District 21 (CD-21) Action Coalition held its first meeting on January 13 at the Pinole Public Library. With over 50 attendees and a full slate of speakers, the energy in the room was amazing. Kook Huber of Organizing for Action (OFA) Contra Costa stated the Coalition’s goal: to flip the House – change the Republican majority to a Democratic majority – and said that it would achieve that goal by focusing on certain California Congressional Districts. 

Fran Schreiber and Laura Cho represented Working America, a nationwide membership organization (with 3 million members!) that focuses on pro-labor advocacy and on political work with local groups. Working America’s election work includes canvassing year-round on jobs, the economy, health care, and local issues (not guns or abortion), in addition to gathering information about people’s own priorities. Canvassers also solicit membership, which is very successful. Working America collects information about candidates on critical issues and reconnects with the people they have already canvassed to share the information. In June 2017 Working America opened up an office in Modesto with nine paid staff. They’ve knocked on 45,000 doors and had 27,000 conversations. All of their paid canvassers are bilingual. In August they opened a CD-21 office. So far, the CD-21 recruitment rate has been almost 90%, which they believe is because Working America asks what issues people care about – something people in these small towns have not been asked.

Sue Hamill, Bay Area Chair (Region 4) of the CA Democratic Party, Rural Caucus, opened by saying “It’s 2018! The House is within reach. But we can’t take anything for granted. The ground game will be critical.” She enumerated several key California districts including CD-1 (Doug LaMalfa), CD-10 (Jeff Denham, widely considered a target), CD-4 (Tom McClintock; she recommended Sierra Forward as a well-organized progressive group in a purple district with a lot of Bay Area transplants). For more information about the California Democratic Party, contact Clark Lee. The proposed CA Democratic platform is open for comments until January 24.

Kook wrapped up by inviting more partners to join the CD-21 Action Coalition so it can efficiently send resources – including but not limited to canvassing – to CD-21. We hope Kook will be the guest speaker to talk about the CD-21 Action Coalition at February’s Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting.

For more information or to participate in the Coalition with the CA-11 Team (everyone is welcome), please message @Ted L on Slack, or email him. 

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

Congressman DeSaulnier Holds Tax Town Hall

By Catherine de Neergaard

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier’s (CA-11) January 13 Tax Town Hall was standing room only, with more than 400 people packed into the El Cerrito Community Center and spilling out the doors. Many elected officials were there, including Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, who introduced DeSaulnier.

In fine form, DeSaulnier focused on why the Republican Tax Scam Bill is such a disaster for everyone except the very wealthiest (the so-called 1%) and why it is so important to take back the House and Senate in 2018 and reverse the tax scam. In DeSaulnier’s view, getting out the vote is key to winning in November, which in turn is crucial to recover democracy and economic equality.

DeSaulnier issued a rallying cry: “American citizens have to fight now for their democracy,” and said he’d like to see Contra Costa County come alive with activism, words that resounded with the members of Indivisible and several other local progressive groups. He closed with a story about the advice Frederick Douglass in the 19th century gave a young man asking how to live. Douglass replied, “Agitate, agitate, agitate.” Amen to that!

DeSaulnier’s presentation well reflected Indivisible’s agenda, values, and policy goals. Unlike Senators Feinstein and Harris, he voted NO on the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act adding $100 BILLION to the already bloated $600 BILLION-plus military budget. Continuing his tradition of blending activism with proselytizing policy wonkery, DeSaulnier opened the Town Hall by recommending that people read “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” by Jane Mayer and “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America” by Nancy MacLean to really understand what is going on in America now. He also recommended Thomas Piketty’s much-lauded book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” to, among other things, understand why the ‘trickle down effect’ (the theory behind the Reagan era tax cuts for the rich and the current tax scam bill) doesn’t work.

DeSaulnier’s town hall was one of many across the country given by House Democrats. In California, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) held her “GOP Tax Scam Teach-In” at Laney College; House Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) and Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5) presented their teach-in together in San Francisco. You can watch it here.

If you missed it, the Facebook video broadcast of DeSaulnier’s Town Hall is well worth watching, and his excellent Power Point program should be available soon on his website.

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 George McRae

Stand Together Contra Costa

On September 19, 2017, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the development of Stand Together CoCo, a county-wide immigrant rapid-response program. The innovative pilot, designed to operate from January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020, will provide community education and support services for immigrants in Contra Costa, as well as no-cost defense services for low-income county residents at risk of deportation.  The program, proposed by the Contra Costa Immigrant Rights Alliance and fast-tracked by the Board of Supervisors, will be managed by the Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office.

On January 27 at 2 PM at Hope Lutheran Church in El Sobrante, Contra Costa Deputy Public Defender Immigration Attorney Ali Saidi will speak about the new rapid response program, including how we can get involved and volunteer. Saidi will also give an overview of local and national immigration realities, including an update on the implementation of SB 54, California’s Sanctuary State bill.

Saidi’s presentation, “Stand Together CoCo & Immigration Realities,” is hosted by Courageous Resistance/Indivisible El Sobrante/Richmond. The event is free, and all are welcome to attend, and to stay after Saidi’s presentation for the host group’s general meeting. Click here to RSVP (not required). Email Courageous Resistance if you have questions.

 

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.

 

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

 

Barbara Lee Speaks With IEB (about impeachment and other things)

Ultimate Womens Power Luncheon Barbara Lee
Representative Barbara Lee speaking in October 2017. Photo by Kristen Law

Katie Hooper is a member of IEB’s Governance Committee and is a co-lead of the MoC Team Lee (CA-13).

IEB members and activists from Alameda4Impeachment and others participated in a November 15 phone call with Representative Barbara Lee about impeachment and a few other matters. Although she had to take a couple of breaks to vote on the House floor, Rep. Lee was very forthcoming and couldn’t have been more grateful for our collective passion and activism.

Lee did not agree to sign the current impeachment articles by Representatives Cohen and Gutierrez, but only because she said she’s working with her colleagues (even across the aisle) on a more robust set of articles, and this takes time. She seemed to understand that we want her publicly stating her support for the effort, but she really wants it to be with a larger consensus.

The most intense part of the call came at the end, when Lee said how grounding and moving it is to take a break from the constant politics of House votes to actually talk to her constituents, and told us that she felt reinvigorated for the upcoming vote on the tax (scam) bill. She told us that her aides Josh and Lisa, with whom IEB’s MoC Team Lee meet and correspond on a regular basis, update her constantly with our questions and concerns, and that we should keep bringing things up that we care about. We are hoping to meet with her staff after the holiday to talk about policy vs. grassroots efforts.

I had the chance to thank Rep. Lee, on behalf of our team and everyone at IEB, for all her hard work in the resistance.

By Katie Hooper

No Boooos at October All Member Meeting

Our pre-Halloween October 29 All Member Meeting at the Oakland Public Library gathered a crowd of enthusiastic and motivated folks to talk about federal, state and local issues.

STATE LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP: Governance Committee member Jiggy filled us in on the high (and low) lights of the just-closed California legislative session. See the CA StateStrong recap.

SENATE RACE: See our article on the spirited discussion (first of many, we’re sure) about the 2018 California Senate Race.

Oakland Rising presentation by Beth Gunston at AMMOAKLAND RISING: Strategic Partnerships Director Beth Gunston gave an inspiring presentation about Oakland Rising, including letting us know about the November 4 event that IEB is supporting. Sign up here, see details on the Make It Fair FB page. With able video assistance from local hero Robert Reich, Beth explained that this weekend’s event will have volunteers heading out to neighborhoods to discuss the negative impact Prop 13 has on the Oakland community. Oakland Rising believes that face-to-face dialogue is the key to informing voters in our community.

BREAKOUT SESSIONS

  • The CA 11 (Rep Mark DeSaulnier) team welcomed new members and discussed co-lead Kristen’s attendance at an October power lunch and conference with Reps Pelosi and DeSaulnier and other high-power Democrats. Topics of interest: focusing on California “red” districts for 2018 midterms; the effectiveness of “new” technologies vs grassroots activism; how to not leave those left behind. Read Kristen’s account here. The team also talked about our priorities beyond maintaining relations with Rep DeSaulnier: local community issues, environment/climate change, and mid-term elections. The CA-11 United team’s next meeting is November 29, 7-8:30 PM at the Rialto Theater in El Cerrito.
  • The CA 15 (Rep Eric Swalwell) team also welcomed new members and discussed the upcoming voter registration training on November 11 at Inkling’s Coffee & Tea in Pleasanton between 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Please RSVP to Ward or LeAnn Kanowsky: @ward (on Slack) or kanowsky@sbcglobal.net. We also talked about ways to increase attendance, and Rosemary Jordan from Alameda4Impeachment talked about strategies to encourage Swalwell to join other members of the House Judiciary Committee in calling for impeachment.
  • New members: A standard feature of all AMMs, we welcomed new members with a short orientation and Q&A, after which they joined other breakouts and also hung out to chat with Governance Committee members.
  • Feedback: Meeting facilitators Andrea and Ann talked to members about IEB, All Member Meetings, and more – some excellent suggestions were made. We’d love to hear your suggestions, please fill out our survey!

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

Sojourn in Southern California for Senator Feinstein

Senator Feinstein spoke to the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce at a luncheon on Wednesday October 11. As you’d expect the 400 or so attendees were mostly business people among whom the senator seemed very comfortable.

We’re not making any accusations—and it was likely just that the hosts were so  in sync with their guest—but the questions seemed to be exactly what the senator would have chosen to be asked at her first public appearance since announcing her reelection campaign. And she was clearly very prepared, down to statistics on how the elimination of the state and local tax deduction would hurt middle income Riverside residents.

Sen. Feinstein and moderator Jack Clarke talked about terrifying weapons: the senator’s gun control legislation, the nuclear agreement with Iran, and the potential crisis brewing between the United States and North Korea— “the longer it lasts this way, the easier it is for one of the two leaders to make a slip in rhetoric and something happens that we don’t want.”

Asked about tax “reform” the senator  was very clear that the Republicans do not have bill. They have “a framework—whatever that is.” And she predicted that if they attempted to jam something through without hearings and “regular order” that it would certainly fail. Let’s hope she has Senator McCain’s word on that. (Note: He voted against the 2001 Bush tax cuts; she voted for them.)

She spoke at length about saving the Affordable Care Act and stabilizing and improving the marketplaces, and about the nearby airport and what it means for the local economy and infrastructure.


Clarke also read three audience questions off of cards collected at the event including one about the future of DACA. She was, of course, strongly in favor of the DREAM Act. But she made some statements that were troublingly supportive of a deal on border security, against the wishes of the DREAMers themselves who don’t want their safety traded for policies that harm other immigrants. She said, “we can use more border patrol,” which might be a reasonable argument to make if the immigration enforcement we currently have was doing a decent job protecting the rights and humanity of the people it interacts with.

For young people who want to be involved in politics and the future of this country, she said: “Instead of sitting back and criticising, get out and run for something…people jump up and down, and you ask them what they really want and it’s some vague statement.”

Clearly she’s not talking about Indivisible East Bay. While we do jump up and down quite a bit, our statements are anything but vague. We certainly criticize, but we don’t sit back. We know what we want and we’ve learned how to translate that into requests for specific votes and legislation, and oversight, because that is the most effective way to maximize our power. But as the senator well knows (and, to be fair, has demonstrated many times) part of the job she took on when she asked to represent us, is the task of taking her constituents’ vague statements and finding the way to address those needs through policy.

And as for the admonition to “get out and run for something.” It’s not bad advice. More of us need to do that. But more of us also need to realize that it’s not the only way. Many of us Indivisibles across the country ourselves realized only recently that democracy doesn’t have to just mean voting and running for office. It can mean working as constituents together with our elected representative to govern ourselves.