It’s impeachment inquiry time

Katie Cameron and Nancy Latham contributed to this article

Deadline – ASAP until the House Judiciary Committee launches an impeachment inquiry.

​​With ​Game of ​Thrones ​over, we​’re hoping to watch the final episodes of the (not)Game of (de)Throning the Criminal-in-Chief who Thinks-He’s-King, but is not! We, along with some Democratic House leaders, a majority of the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, the one Republican who has read the Mueller Report, and millions of our fellow citizens, think it’s high time for the House Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment inquiry.

You’re bombarded with news stories, hot takes, and wildly diverse opinions about the “I” word. If you’ve been working for impeachment since inauguration day, or are now convinced from the evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors in the Mueller Report, we’ve got a great list of things you can do. If you’re still debating the need to take action, or want more info, keep reading below our action list.

What you can do now:  

  • Use Indivisible National’s page to urge your representative to cosponsor House Resolution 257, Rep. Tlaib’s resolution which would authorize an impeachment inquiry. To date, none of our East Bay reps has cosponsored the resolution. See the recent SF Chron article about Bay Area MoCs’ positions on impeachment. And see Rep. Swalwell’s tweet; and an interview with Rep. DeSaulnier.
  • Visit bit.ly/impeachresolution for By the People’s template to send a letter to your representative.
  • Send House Speaker Nancy Pelosi an email using this Need to Impeach tool. Adapt the suggested text to your own personalized message. Send her a tweet expressing your opinion.
  • Tweet to Representative Jerry Nadler, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, urging him to take the lead and start an impeachment inquiry. 
  • Who said political action can’t be joyful and serious at the same time? Join IEB members and thousands of others at Impeach on the Beach, June 1, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Five thousand people (or more) will arrange their bodies to spell out “IMPEACH” in 150-foot-tall letters stretching for 610 feet on Ocean Beach, to be photographed from above. More details and sign up at this link
  • Spread the word! Talking directly to people you know is the most effective way to spark change. Urge friends and relatives, especially those who live in districts represented by Democratic House leaders and Committee Chairs, to contact their Reps, urging an impeachment inquiry. Keep that word “inquiry” in your messages, so people understand you’re not trying to convict without the House investigation. Give them this link to get in touch with their Members of Congress.
  • Join the discussion on the #impeachment channel on IEB’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email info@IndivisibleEB.org
  • Want to work with Alameda4Impeachment (A4I)? Email them for more info: Alameda4Impeachment@gmail.com 
  • We don’t often suggest signing petitions, but it’ll just take a minute – and these, from Need to Impeach, and Free Speech for People, have already proven to be effective.
  • Come to our All Members Meeting on Sunday, May 26, from 1-3 PM at Sports Basement, Berkeley. It’s an informal potluck get-together, and members informed about impeachment will be there.

What else you can do: Read up! 

  • Know the impeachable offenses: Unindicted co-conspirator Individual-1  has committed many impeachable offenses, some in plain sight, only a few of which rely on the Mueller Report  (“Russia, if you are listening…”). See for example Need to Impeach’s list and Lawfare’s article
  • Bone up on the impeachment process. These links help explain what the Constitution says about impeachment, the history of it and how the process works, and FAQs:
    • Robert Reich has this excellent short video on the impeachment process.
    • By The People is a national grassroots action group holding demonstrations in DC. Their website has excellent, easy to read info on impeachment.
    • Need To Impeach, the group Tom Steyer launched in October 2017, has grown to a movement of nearly 8 million people. NTI uses grassroots organizing to mobilize people to demand that Congress begin impeachment proceedings to uncover the full extent of Trump’s lawlessness.
  • Read the Mueller Report, in large part an impeachment inquiry referral to Congress. Or listen to Audible’s free audio recording of the report. For the Cliffs Notes version, check out Lawfareblog’s excellent notes about the Report.
  • Read The Constitution Requires It, by Free Speech For People Legal Director Ron Fein, co-founder and president John Bonifaz, and chair of the board Ben Clements, with a foreword by The Nation’s national affairs correspondent John Nichols. The book lays out information on impeachment clearly and concisely. And listen to The Constitution is Clear: Impeachment Hearings Now, authoritarian scholar Sarah Kendzior’s Gaslit Nation podcast interview of Bonifaz.

More info: the Whens, Whys, Hows & Whats of impeachment

When? Impeachment talk right now feels like a modern day Goldilocks & the Three Bears, with some people saying “Too soon!” others “Too late!” and the rest “Now!”

  • In the first category we most notably find House Speaker Pelosi and some other House leadership members, who say we need more investigations and more witnesses and more evidence.
  • In the second are those who think we already lost the “window.” According to them, we’re now too close to the 2020 elections and we should just settle it at the ballot box.
  • The third category includes those who’ve been on board all along or have recently reached the tipping point. This large group includes Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, who wrote To End a Presidency, the Power of Impeachment, which cautioned against impeachment, but who is now calling for hearings after the release of the Mueller report. Also in the “Now!” group: members of Congress angered by stonewalling over ignored subpoenas and worse, and some of the 900+ former federal prosecutors who signed onto a statement saying they believe Trump’s conduct as described in the Mueller Report would result in multiple felony obstruction of justice charges for any other person.

Why?

  • For one, as those former federal prosecutors put their reputations on the line to publicly state, the Mueller Report describes numerous acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge, conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming. And, as we used to say to people who complained that the Mueller investigation was taking too long – he keeps committing crimes!
  • In addition, even if it’s unlikely that 45 will be removed from office, we can’t stand by while he shreds the Constitution and damages our democratic institutions. 

How & What?

  • Short answer: Impeachable offenses, impeachment inquiry, articles of impeachment, voting in House, trial in Senate. Sometimes people think impeachment means removal from office, but that happens only if the Senate votes to convict. Bill Clinton was impeached in the House, and acquitted in the Senate.
  • Longer answer:
    • Impeachment doesn’t begin as a foregone conclusion. It begins with an investigation opened by the House Judiciary Committee.
    • Second, the impeachment inquiry can be done quickly or slowly, to accommodate the election season.
    • Third, we believe a well-organized review of Trump’s impeachable offenses won’t hurt Democrats – it would rather be compelling television, informing the public of every high crime and misdemeanor.
    • Fourth, if the Republican dominated Senate refuses to convict, the voters can “convict” at the ballot box, armed with evidence from the House inquiry.
    • Finally, for those who worry about Pence becoming #46, the failure of the Senate to convict resolves that concern, and the investigation may entangle Pence in some of the offenses.

There’s a spectrum of pressure we can put on our electeds, depending in part on our own decisions about how to proceed. The point is that we should NOT sit idly by and say “Wait for 2020” – and you, dear IEB member, can choose to pressure for impeachment or impeachment-adjacent actions – whatever feels right to you. Whether or not we succeed in launching an impeachment inquiry, whether or not that inquiry helps end the Trump nightmare, our actions matter. Bear witness. Go on the record. Stand up and be counted at what could be the most important moral and legal turning point in our lifetimes. 

 

Katie Cameron is a founding member of Alameda4Impeachment. She spent her career in state government in Washington State, and now devotes most of her time to defeating the Trump administration and the corrupt forces that got him elected.

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

Imp Peach Mint photo: Indivisible San Francisco’s Master Steve Rapport 

Georgia (and AL, KY, OH, TX …) On My Mind – and Out of My Uterus

It’s all over everywhere on social media: Women, leave Georgia. Leave Alabama, Ohio, Texas, Kentucky. And: No rights, no sex! We at Indivisible East Bay respectfully wish to say: that’s not a plan.

Running away, starting over, is only a fantasy for most women. Most women don’t have the privilege, or the money, or the support, to be able to pick up and leave their home state if it enacts legislation that deprives them of their reproductive rights. And if those with the means to leave do leave, then those left behind are the most vulnerable (and those who thought the restrictions were hunky dory to start with). As for “no rights, no sex”: it’s classic – literally – but we were under the impression that abstinence-only was a tool of the religious right, not the progressive left. Why should hetero women become celibate because they can’t get reproductive freedom? And please, let’s not forget our queer sisters – they need reproductive rights too, and you know that they’re in the crosshairs of the same folks behind the abortion bans.

And then there are calls to boycott. Boycotts are a powerful economic tool, but they’re also a double-edged sword. Don’t forget, industries in these states hire … women in these states. And people of color, and LGBTQI people … none of whom benefit from boycotts in the short term. These are the same people who are losing their rights – and possibly their health, or even risking their lives – because of these insane anti-choice bills. They don’t need to lose their financial well-being, too. Analogies to the grape boycotts of the 1960’s and 70’s aren’t accurate: the farmworkers’ union called for those boycotts. If women workers of Alabama, Georgia, etc., aren’t calling for boycotts now, please think twice before you do.

So, what’s best to do? Empowerment is more realistic and compassionate than telling people to move, less potentially harmful than boycotting, and a damn sight better than enforced chastity. And all told, helping our sisters is way better than telling them how to run their lives (which, after all, is what we’re fighting against, right?). In sum: Below are ways to respond to the abortion bans by supporting pro-women organizations that will fight for women’s rights and fight to get the controlling bastards out of power:

  • Take action to help disenfranchised and inactive voters in GA by signing up with Reclaim our Vote (ROV), a national group working with Black Voters Matter and NAACP. ROV focuses on empowering under-represented voters, particularly in communities of color. Email Andrea at andrea@indivisibleeb.org and sign up if you want to get involved with IEB efforts and/or sign up for one of ROV’s weekly Thursday Zoom orientations here.
  • Support Fair Fight in Georgia: through this ActBlue fundraiser, all donations during the month of May will be split evenly among “organizations that have been fighting and will continue to fight for reproductive rights.”
  • Here’s an amazing thread with lots of great organizations that provide abortion and health care for women in Georgia and throughout the southeast, women of color- and queer/trans/people of color-led organizations working to advance reproductive justice, organizations fighting for fair and honest elections, and more!
  • This site (which is regularly updated) can connect you with local, grassroots organizations in Ohio, Alabama, and throughout the Southeast that serve women; organizations fighting for Asian-Pacific Islander women, including transgender and non-binary folk; and ways to become a clinic escort at women’s health care clinics.

Do you know of more ways to help women in embattled states? Ways to support progressive candidates or get involved in GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts? Support shelters? Help women’s groups that will take back the power? We want to hear from you! Email us at info@indivisibleeb.org!

Graphics: Soulless elephant by Mr Spark and uterus by Uterus Magna 

 

Help IEB #resist on social media

Deadline: you guessed it, right NOW –

The Mueller Report contains the most in-depth summary the U.S. government has produced about how the Russians used social media to interfere in our 2016 election on behalf of Unindicted Co-conspirator Individual-1. While legislators futz around with how to rein in the fearsome power of Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms, the distortion campaigns continue. And withdrawing from social media in protest is tempting for many, but dangerous: according to reports, 45’s re-election campaign has spent nearly double what the entire 2020 Democratic field COMBINED has spent on Facebook and Google ads! How do we fight such massive out-spending? We must all join together to spread the truth and to amplify the resistance’s messages! We need your help – we’ve got something for everyone, no matter how much (or little) time you have or what platforms you prefer.

What you can do:

Step one: if you don’t already, follow Indivisible East Bay online:

Step two: read below to see where you fit into the IEB social media team (we’ll provide support, training, etc.), and then fill out our brief volunteer form. Select the “social media” team option, along with any others you’re interested in. And tell us in the “skills” and “comments” boxes what social media platforms you use, what your superpower is, etc. Even if you’ve filled it out before, we’d love to update your social media and other info. And if you have questions, want to let us know more, or prefer to talk directly, email us: info@indivisibleeb.org

How much time do you have?

  • Crushed with work & life but still want to help out? Do these things if you have as little as a couple of minutes a day:
    • Check out our posts / tweets; click “like” and then share or retweet them to your followers and friend
    • Share us in other progressive groups you’re in
    • Email links to our social media posts to anyone you know who’d be interested
  • Taking a break at work or commuting (don’t do this while driving!)? Spend five to fifteen minutes:
    • Join the #comms-social-media channel on IEB’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email: info@IndivisibleEB.org;
    • Add your personal voice by commenting on, or replying to, our posts or tweets;
    • Grab the link to an article on our website and post it online;
    • Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter; copy and post info about an action or event. Check out prior newsletters in our archive (it loads sloooowly at the bottom of the page, take a sip of tea), there’s lots of info that’s still timely – share it!
  • Have half an hour now and then, or an hour or so spread out over a week, and a creative bent or other expertise?
    • You can help us come up with original content by:
      • Writing and/or editing
      • Photography
      • Videography
      • Other graphic design or arts
    • Are you an expert on any of the platforms we’re on – or on others that we could branch out to? Help guide and advise the rest of the team, answer questions and give “how to” tips!
    • Do you enjoy doing research? Let us know what hashtags are trending, or suggest accounts that we should be following or posting to, and more!
  • Have more time, energy, ideas? Mix and match any or all of the above! And if you’d like to help the social media organizing team, let us know that also.

 

Charter law reform: Get Buffy and Becky on Board

By Emily Filloy

Deadline:  Immediate and ongoing –

Four charter law reform bills currently are moving through the California legislature: AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and SB 756 would stop rampant charter school proliferation that comes at the expense of public schools and local control. All are supported by East Bay representatives Assemblymember Rob Bonta and State Senator Nancy Skinner. But our newly elected Assemblymembers, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (AD-16) and Buffy WIcks (AD-15) are still on the fence. Wicks ran as a strong supporter of public schools, but the charter school issue was a point of contention during the election, and she hasn’t committed to common-sense reforms that will at least give our democratically governed public schools a fighting chance against the billionaire-backed privatizers. We need to push Rebecca and Buffy off the fence!

Two actions are needed:

  1. If your Assemblymember is Buffy Wicks or Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, contact her to urge her to support the charter reform package. Read on for more info on the bills, a call script, and contact info.
  2. Sign and circulate the CharterLawReform.com petition. This petition demands four fundamental changes to state charter law that would go a long way to leveling the playing field. The beauty of this petition is that when you enter your address, it automatically sends your state reps a notice that you support their efforts to reform the Charter School Act.

We previously asked for your support for this package of bills. Things have evolved—read on for the latest:

AB 1505—Our Dream Bill: AB 1505 and 1508 were combined to create one bill that would enact the most needed reforms. AB 1505 now allows districts to deny a charter petition if the new charter school would have a negative fiscal, academic, or facilities impact on the district. It also eliminates charter operators’ ability to appeal to the county and then the State Board of Education if a district says no. These two reforms recognize the adverse impact charters have in heavily targeted cities and also return local control to our school districts. The bill has passed out of the Assembly Education Committee and is now in the Appropriations Committee, where we expect a decision on May 16. If it passes out of Appropriations, 1505 will go to the Assembly for a floor vote. It will be highly contested.

AB 1506 would impose a cap at the number of charters operating statewide—1,323 right now—and a new charter could only open if one closes. The bill also establishes a cap in each individual district. The bill has passed out of the Assembly Education Committee and is now in the Appropriations Committee, where we expect a decision on May 16. If it passes out of Appropriations, 1506 will go to the Assembly for a floor vote. It will be highly contested.

AB 1507 would end the ability of a district to authorize a charter school and then place it in another district. The bill has passed out of the Assembly Education Committee.

SB 756 would establish a 5-year moratorium on all new charters statewide unless the reforms in the three bills above are enacted before 2020. The bill has passed out of the Senate Education Committee.

What You Can Do:

1. If your Assemblymember is Buffy Wicks or Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, please tell her to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and SB 756.

What to Say:

My name is___________.  My zip code is_________. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging Assemblymember _____  to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and SB 756. This package of bills is essential to holding charter schools accountable to local communities and ensuring that charter proliferation won’t destabilize another school district. Can I count on Assemblymember _____ to support these bills?

  • Buffy Wicks: 510-286-1400; email
  • Rebecca Bauer-Kahan: 925-328-1515; email

2. Sign and circulate the CharterLawReform.com petition.

 

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

Save California from fracking

Action deadline: comments on Draft Supplemental EIS due June 10, 2019 –

“Land management”: the words have such a nice ring to them, as if nice things will happen to, you know, the land. But if the Despoiler-in-Chief gets his way, more than a million acres of California lands could soon be subject to oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

On April 27, 2019, Trump’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) intended to open up public lands and mineral estates in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern, and six other California counties to oil companies. Some of the targeted parcels are owned by the BLM; in other cases, BLM owns the underlying mineral rights. After a 45-day public comment period, the EIS will be finalized and BLM can auction off the drilling rights to these parcels for as little as $2.00 per acre.

The parcels on the chopping block include some of the wildest and most pristine areas along the Central Coast and Central Valley – lands in and around national parks, national monuments, and national forests, as well as state and local parks and preserves. Many are in areas of critical environmental concern. A picture is worth much more than our description – take a look at this interactive map posted by Los Padres ForestWatch, showing the areas that may be open for oil drilling and fracking leases and their relationship to environmentally sensitive areas. Neighboring cities, schools and farms will also be impacted.

We need to stop this before irreparable damage is done. Submit your comments online here by June 10, 2019! Read on for instructions, talking points, and more information:

What to do:

Comment now! The 45-day public comment period ends on June 10, 2019. Submit your comments online here. (If you comment online, you must fill in all boxes with red asterisks and you have a 60 minute time limit. Once you have finished with one screen, click the “Next” button in the lower right corner; the last screen will have a “Submit” button in that location.) Or you can submit comments by mail to this address:

Bakersfield Field Office, Attn: Bakersfield RMP Hydraulic Fracturing Analysis
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA  93308

What to write:

Here are some suggested comments; please personalize what you write, because copied & pasted comments or overly similar comments may be grouped together and not counted separately. Some of these comments have been adapted from the comprehensive letter from California’s environmental and natural resources agencies responding to the BLM’s initial notice of intent related to the lease sales of federal lands in California, which you can read here.

  • Opening up new public lands to fracking and other fossil fuel extraction methods is contrary to California’s commitment to building a sustainable future without reliance on fossil fuels.
    • California has a statutory target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and a plan to reduce petroleum consumption by 45 percent by 2030 to meet this target.
    • We need environmentally and economically sound energy strategies focused on the development of renewable energy sources.
    • Why despoil our environment to extract a resource we have decided to move away from?
  • Fracking involves the use of toxic and poorly understood chemicals.
    • These toxic chemicals get into the groundwater, especially in California, where fracking operations are dangerously shallow.
    • Our communities, waterways, wildlife, and outdoor economy will all be put at risk.
  • Let’s not open our beautiful public lands to fracking and drilling.
    • Let’s not sacrifice our health, wildlife and climate to profit the oil and gas industry.
    • In a state where water is so precious — to agriculture, human populations, and wildlife — clean water is worth more than oil.

More info:

Fracking is an extreme oil extraction process that involves injecting chemicals and fluids at high pressure underground to access oil or natural gas. Environmentalists are concerned that fracking can contaminate groundwater and increase the risk of seismic activity. The public lands in question here sit over groundwater that supplies neighboring areas with water for agricultural and human uses. In addition, geologic conditions and hydraulic fracturing practices in California makes fracking particularly hazardous – fracking in this state occurs at unusually shallow depths, which heightens concerns about groundwater contamination and other environmental impacts.

The draft EIS is the latest step in Trump’s efforts to eliminate environmental protections and facilitate fracking on federally controlled lands. As you may recall, one of the administration’s first actions after the inauguration was to rescind Obama-era fracking regulations. As Senator Kamala Harris put it:

Under this administration, California’s beautiful public lands and its outdoor economy are under direct threat, and we must stand up against this active effort to chip away at vital environmental protections.

The proposed action would end a five year moratorium on leasing federal land to oil companies in California. No federal lands in the state have been subject to such leases since 2013, when a federal judge found that the BLM violated environmental laws by issuing oil leases in Monterey County without fully considering the environmental impact of fracking.

The supplemental EIS is the result of a lawsuit filed in the US District Court, Central District of California by Earthjustice, representing the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch, challenging BLM’s California oil leasing plan. In 2016, the judge found that BLM ignored the impacts of fracking in its original environmental studies and, in 2017, BLM agreed to produce a supplemental EIS analyzing the potential environmental effects of fracking.

You can find more information from the Los Padres ForestWatch.

 

Busting the obstructors

Deadline: right NOW and until they stop –

UPDATE May 6: House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler has initiated a resolution to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt of congress for failing to submit the full Mueller Report and underlying evidence.

The Obstructor-in-Chief, fearing his “presidency” will be forked if the truth comes out about his abuses of power and other wrongdoing, is heaping new obstructive conduct atop his and his cronies’ sky-high stonewall pile. After the Barr-redacted Mueller Report revealed a road map for House Democrats to investigate wrongdoing by 45 and his criminal gang, the administration’s obstruction zoomed into overdrive: they’re preventing witnesses from testifying, fighting subpoenas, ignoring document requests, filing lawsuits, and more! Speaker Nancy Pelosi lays it out in her May 1 memo, titled (caps in original!): “TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OBSTRUCTION: UNPRECEDENTED, UNWARRANTED, UNCONSTITUTIONAL.”

What to do:

As Democrats, including the House Committees trying to perform constitutionally mandated oversight grapple with this unprecedented obstruction, we need to let our Members of Congress know they must not blink first or bow to pressure. We also need to urge them to use every possible tool to fight the roadblocks, and at the same time to keep following every possible path to investigate. Finally, we need to let them know we have their backs, because they will surely hear from the other side! Keep reading below the call script for a list of some obstruction-busting tools you can mention when you call.

What to say: 

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I fully support the Democrats in investigating Trump and the administration’s abuses of power. Please use all possible tools such as [SEE BELOW FOR LIST] to fight the obstruction and keep investigating.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • 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

In the Toolbox:

Representative Elijah Cummings, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, speaking on April 30 about threats of non-compliance by former White House Personnel Security Director Carl Kline, who was in charge of the security-clearance process and now works at the Defense Department, said:

We will do everything in our power to enforce our subpoena. I refuse to be in a situation where we are unable to use every tool that we have in our toolbox to do that.

Democrats are using some of these options, and weighing others. Mention one or two of them when you call your Member of Congress:

  • Subpoenas 
  • Fines
  • Imprisonment
  • Criminal contempt of congress
  • Cut appropriations to departments that aren’t complying
  • Refuse to pay salaries of officials

Road block sign, photo © Alex Grichenko

Fight Voter Suppression and Free the Vote in California!

Action deadline: Friday April 26 and ongoing –

There’s strength in numbers. (Go Warriors!) Every vote matters, and we need to do everything in our power to combat voter suppression. Restoring voting rights to Californians who are on parole is a critical step, and although we can’t do this in time for the 2020 election, there’s a path to achieve this goal in the near future. And your help is needed.

East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta is coauthor of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 6, the “Free the Vote Act,” which eliminates the provisions of the California Constitution that disqualify people on parole from voting. A companion bill to ACA 6, AB 646, amends the relevant provisions of the Elections Code. Passage of ACA 6 requires a 2/3 vote in both the Assembly and Senate, followed by ratification by a majority of voters. AB 646, if passed into law, will only take effect if the voters pass ACA 6 in the 2020 election. ACA 6 and AB 646 have been designated as priority measures by CA State Strong.

Almost 50,000 Californians on parole are disqualified from voting, even though they have served their sentences and been released from prison. The right to vote is a pillar of citizenship, and people on parole for felony convictions are still citizens who pay taxes and have an overriding constitutional right to have their voices heard on political issues. As Assemblymember Bonta explains:

After paying their debt to society, people have a right and obligation to contribute to society. Part of building a productive life includes becoming civically engaged and exercising the fundamental right to vote.

Given the “racial underbelly of criminal justice policies in general,” it comes as no surprise that felony disenfranchisement disproportionately impacts people of color. In California, three out of four male prisoners are nonwhite. Black American adults are more than four times more likely to lose the right to vote than non-Black American adults. As the Sentencing Project puts it, research shows that:

African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, and they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences.

In other words: Black Americans are more likely to lose their voting rights, and to lose them for longer. To add insult to injury, prisoners are often counted as residents of largely white rural areas where prisons are located for the purposes of redistricting, leading to “prison-based gerrymandering.”

Felony disenfranchisement is a shameful reminder of California’s Jim Crow laws, enshrined in our Constitution. As a matter of fundamental fairness, we must amend the Constitution to restore the right to vote to people with convictions. Restoring the right to vote helps people leaving prison reintegrate into the community. Successful reintegration reduces recidivism and increases public safety. As Secretary of State Padilla commented: “Civic participation is foundational to a sense of community—and it can play a major role in reducing recidivism.”

California has already begun to reform its felony disenfranchisement policies. In 2016, voting rights were restored to people convicted of a felony offense who had been sent to county jail, but not those sent to state or federal prison. ACA 6 and AB 646 will advance this effort by ensuring that people on felony parole who have served their sentences will be treated equally regardless of the facility in which they were incarcerated.

This is an idea whose time has come. An increasing number of states have passed legislation eliminating or modifying felony disenfranchisement. It’s become a topic of discussion for Democratic Presidential hopefuls and other bigwigs and has entered the discourse on social media. California is lagging behind in this national movement to advance democracy.

What you can do:

1. Call your state representatives, now and every day.

If you’re a constituent of Assemblymember Bonta, thank him; if you’re a constituent of Assemblymember Wicks or Bauer-Kahan, call and encourage them to support ACA 6 & AB 646. Yes, call even when your representatives have taken good positions on an issue! The other side is calling, and you need to make your voice heard.

Find your legislator here.

What to say:

For Assemblymembers Wicks and Bauer-Kahan:

My name is _______, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want _______ to co-author and support Assembly Constitutional Amendment 6, which restores voting rights to Californians on parole after they have been released from prison. I also want _______ to support AB 646, the companion bill to ACA 6.

For Assemblymember Bonta:

My name is _______, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Assemblymember Bonta for coauthoring ACA 6 and supporting voting rights for Californians who are on parole after they have been released from prison. I strongly support ACA 6 and AB 646.

  • Buffy Wicks 510-286-1400; email
  • Rob Bonta 510-286-1670; email
  • Rebecca Bauer-Kahan 925-328-1515; email

2. Come to Sacramento on May 20 for the 2019 Quest For Democracy Advocacy Day

Join IEB and community partners at this event at the Capitol in Sacramento, where participants will meet to strategize, train, and then advocate directly to legislators. A bus will leave for the event from Fruitvale and West Oakland BART stations in Oakland on the following schedule on May 20:

  • 7 AM: Bus will be at Fruitvale BART
  • 7:15 AM: Bus leaves Fruitvale BART
  • 7:30 AM: bus leaves West Oakland

RSVP (required!) and let them know you’re with IEB.

Read our prior articles:

Can you help work on these critical issues with the Indivisible East Bay Voter Rights & Election Integrity team? Email: info@IndivisibleEB.org, or join the #voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email: info@IndivisibleEB.org

 

December 10 March for voting rights, photograph © Michael Fleshman

Save her lungs

Deadline: today and ongoing –

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women and men in the United States and worldwide, taking the lives of more women than breast, ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers combined. According to the Lung Cancer Alliance, each day in the U.S. an average of 181 women will die from lung cancer – that’s one every eight minutes! Two-thirds of the people diagnosed with lung cancer, but who never smoked, are women.

We need federal action to fight this deadly disease and reduce the rising death tolls. In the words of Senator Feinstein, who is one of the original sponsors of the bipartisan and bicameral Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2019 (Senate and House bills S.1107 and H.R. 2222):

Today, more women than men live with lung cancer. In 2019, an estimated 66,000 women will lose their lives to this terrible disease. Despite the effect it has on women’s lives across the country, there’s still much we don’t know. For instance, we don’t know why women who have never smoked have been shown to be twice as likely to get lung cancer as nonsmoking men. This bill will provide much-needed support for research focused on understanding this disparity and promote preventive screening for women.

What you can do:

Thank Sen. Feinstein for her leadership, and ask your other Members of Congress to cosponsor the Senate and House bills.

What to say:

For Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator Feinstein for being an original sponsor of S.1107, the Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2019. We need federal action to coordinate a public health plan, and to accelerate research and investigate solutions to address the impact of lung cancer in the U.S. Please do all you can to advance the legislation this year.

For Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please cosponsor S.1107, the Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2019. We need federal action to coordinate a public health plan, and to accelerate research and investigate solutions to address the impact of lung cancer in the U.S.

For Representative DeSaulnier:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  Please cosponsor H.R. 2222, the Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2019. We need federal action to coordinate a public health plan, and to accelerate research and investigate solutions to address the impact of lung cancer in the U.S. And thank you for your leadership in founding the Congressional Cancer Survivors Caucus.

For Representatives Lee and Swalwell:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  Please cosponsor H.R. 2222, the Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2019. We need federal action to coordinate a public health plan, and to accelerate research and investigate solutions to address the impact of lung cancer in the U.S.

  • 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

This article is dedicated to those near and dear to us who have battled or are fighting lung cancer.

Graphic © Lung Cancer Alliance

We see through Barr’s “transparency”

Deadline: hair on fire right now –

Updated April 27, 2019: 

Attorney General William “Cover Up” Barr delayed releasing his redacted version of Special Counsel Mueller’s 300+ page report for nearly a month after he got it. (See Indivisible East Bay’s text searchable version of the pdf). This served Individual-1 and also served two purposes: Barr wants to bury the report by dropping it the day before a long holiday weekend while Congress is in recess; and he and the administration had nearly a month to spin and lie to control public perception about the investigation’s findings. Oh yeah, and he dropped it after holding another head-spinning publicity stunt, oh we mean press conference, about Mueller’s report … but without (wait for it) Robert Mueller.

After constant demands from Congress that Barr release the full report and underlying investigation materials (thanks to your calls and nationwide Trump Is Not Above the Law protests), Barr said he’d redact “sensitive” materials from the report and release the rest. That’s NOT enough — we know Barr can’t be trusted! He’s left a paper trail, like the audition memo he wrote to get his AG gig. And there’s his history of summarizing and redacting important documents. In 1989 Barr summarized a legal opinion that led to the FBI abducting Panama’s leader, General Manuel Noriega. Only after Congress subpoenaed the legal opinion was it revealed that Barr’s summary did not fully disclose the opinion’s principal conclusions. Déjà vu all over again?

In Winston Churchill’s words, this is just the end of the beginning. Congress now has a version of the report, but it must continue to push to get the FULL report and all underlying investigatory evidence. Barr also put his heavy thumb on the scale, improperly making the determination that the evidence did not establish Trump obstructed justice. This is NOT Barr’s determination to make – Congress must move ahead and redouble its investigations to hold Trump and his cronies accountable.

What to do:

1. Call your Members of Congress, now and every day.

Yes, you need to call even when your MoCs have taken good positions on an issue – the other side is calling, and you need to make your voice heard!

What to say:

My name is _______, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  I want _______ to do everything in their power to demand that AG Barr immediately give the full, unredacted Mueller report and all evidence to Congress. Also, I support the Democrats’ investigations to hold Trump accountable, and want them to expand the investigations to follow up on all evidence in the Mueller report.

2. Spread the word on social media!

See Indivisible National’s April 18 statement, and then try out their nifty new tool to create and upload a short video clip expressing your opinion.

More info & background

To find out more, and learn what actions we’ve been taking for over a year, read our past articles:

 

A Matter of Life, Death, and the Rule of Law

Somewhere in Northern Mexico, an exhausted nine-year-old girl stumbles. She’s traveling with her maternal grandmother, her legal guardian since her mother died, but they don’t have a paper explaining that, so if they are separated at the border, she will never be reunited with her family. She’s already walked 1,100 miles, but she’s still hundreds of miles away from the U.S. border and finding out what trauma awaits her there.

But the administration isn’t satisfied with baby jails, toddlers separated from parents and forced to appear alone in court, or families who, the administration now says, won’t be sufficiently ID’ed to be reunited for two years. On April 7, Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) resigned at the request of the Baby-Jailer-in-Chief. Kevin McAleenan, whom Trump tapped for acting Secretary, has a terrible record. As head of Customs and Border Protection, McAleenan defended his agency’s use of tear gas on children and families. He also repeatedly broke the law to implement Trump’s travel ban, and ignored the death of a seven year-old girl in CBP custody in his Congressional testimony. In a broad purge, Trump also forced the resignations of the head of the Secret Service, the director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the DHS General Counsel, and the DHS undersecretary for management, and withdrew his nominated Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying he wanted the agency to go in a “tougher” direction. It’s hard to imagine what that could even be, in a civilized country.

What to do:

Trump will nominate a replacement DHS Secretary who will need Senate approval. Tell our Senators, NOW: Don’t approve anyone with a history of promoting, tolerating, or overlooking human rights abuses of any kind. We need someone far better than Nielsen — not someone even worse! Senator Kamala Harris was the first Senator to call for Nielsen to resign in a July 2018 statement, and she continues to speak out strongly against the family separation policy, including tweeting on April 8: “The next DHS Secretary must unequivocally denounce this abusive policy. We deserve better.” Senator Dianne Feinstein, however, has only expressed sympathy for the “thankless” task performed by Nielsen and the “hope” that McAleenan will be “able to propose and implement more sensible, humane and bipartisan solutions to the problems we face” — a hope that appears to have no foundation in reality.

What to say:

For Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator Harris for speaking out against the family separation policy that former DHS Secretary Nielsen oversaw. I hope that when the nominee for Nielsen’s replacement is in confirmation hearings, Senator Harris will do everything possible to prevent the confirmation of anyone with a history of promoting, tolerating, or overlooking human rights abuses of any kind. We need someone far better than Nielsen — not someone even worse!

For Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m concerned that Senator Feinstein has spoken sympathetically about former DHS Secretary Nielsen and Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan, and hasn’t spoken out about the abuses they have perpetrated. I hope that when the nominee for Nielsen’s replacement is in confirmation hearings, Senator Feinstein will do everything possible to prevent the confirmation of anyone with a history of promoting, tolerating, or overlooking human rights abuses of any kind. We need someone far better than Nielsen — not someone even worse!

More info:

Kirstjen Nielsen presided over implementation of the administration’s April 2018 “zero tolerance policy” to deter migrants, separating families and caging the children to deter others from seeking asylum. She then lied to Congress about it, saying, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” Thousands of children have been separated from their parents, and the government has missed several court-imposed deadlines for reuniting families, conceding that it has failed to keep records and claiming that as a result it may take over two years to reunite them—or will never reunite them, in the case of refugees traveling with legal guardians.

After public outcry and a series of adverse court decisions, the zero-tolerance policy was rescinded by executive order, but family separations have continued. Even more troubling, because refugees keep coming, the Scofflaw-in-Chief now wants immigration officials to stop following U.S. statutes and court orders and instead to close the southern borders to asylum—or to close it entirely, to everyone, with the resulting enormous economic disruption. At the border recently, he instructed agents to refuse to follow court orders and to say instead, “sorry, Judge, I can’t do it.” He reportedly fired Nielsen because she opposed his requested actions as counterproductive and against the law and applicable court orders.

The new DHS Secretary must be required to commit to follow — and must actually follow — applicable statutes and court orders, not just the whims of the President. By the time she reaches our borders, it would be good if the nine-year-old Guatemalan girl still found a country with the rule of law.

Photograph: “Women Disobey protest against US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy separating children and families at the US/Mexico border,” copyright Sarahmirk