Meeting with Rep Swalwell’s staff

By Ward Kanowsky

Ward and LeAnn Kanowsky, co-leads of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 team, met with members of Representative Eric Swalwell’s staff as part of Indivisible’s February 11 National Day of Action. On behalf of IEB, we conveyed our gratitude and support for Swalwell’s cosponsorship of the Green New Deal, H.R. 1 (For the People Act of 2019), and H.R. 8 (Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019).

The purpose of the Day of Action was to keep up the pressure on all Members of Congress by hearing from their constituents, and to ask them to fund the government with no new funding for Trump’s wall, ICE, or CBP. We raised three main issues related to the potential for a February 15 shutdown:

  • Border wall – a wall would devastate border communities and waste billions of taxpayer dollars.
  • ICE agents – keep families together; no additional funding for more Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents.
  • Beds – stop ICE from expanding the number of immigrants held in detention.

We specifically asked Rep. Swalwell to co-sponsor H.R. 678, the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act of 2019. Federal contractor employees were especially hard hit by the shutdown and did not receive back pay when the government reopened on January 25. Many of these employees, who include cafeteria workers, security guards, and cleaning crews at federal buildings across the country, typically earn between $450 and $650 a week, and are now forced to choose between paying for utilities or putting food on the table for their families.

In addition, we highlighted the impact of the recent 35-day shutdown on some of CA-15’s most vulnerable, with information from the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Specifically, we pointed out that 13,000 CA-15 households received their February CalFresh/SNAP benefits (aka food stamps) in January as a result of the shutdown – resulting in a “SNAP gap” of up to 50 days until they can get their next monthly benefit payments. This irregularity and gap can create confusion and anxiety among recipients, especially since many of these 13,000 households include seniors and children. We also noted the increased need at food pantries during shutdowns.

Overall, our meeting with Rep. Swalwell’s staff was very effective. They were grateful for our feedback and information (especially about H.R. 678), and will pass on the content of the meeting to Swalwell and his D.C. staff.

If you have questions or want to participate with the CA-15 team, contact Ward on Slack at @ward or by email at wardkanowsky@gmail.com.  And please join us in Dublin at the Local IBEW 585 Union Hall for the IEB All Members Meeting on Sunday February 24 from 1-3 PMRSVP here.

Ward Kanowsky is co-lead, with LeAnn Kanowsky, of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 Team.

Photo: CA-15 team co-leads Ward and LeAnn Kanowsky met Rep Eric Swalwell in 2018

 

Tell CalPERS to divest from fossil fuels

By Sara Theiss

Are you a CalPERS member or beneficiary? A California taxpayer? Someone who cares about the future of our planet? If so, please join Fossil Free California in Sacramento on March 18, 2019, when we’ll tell the Board of Directors of the CalPERS pension plan, the largest pension plan in the U.S., to divest from fossil fuels! On that day, the CalPERS board will meet to update its sustainable investing program – and we will be there to hold them accountable, for CalPERS beneficiaries, California taxpayers, and future generations.

Anyone can can speak for up to three minutes during the public comment period. See the list below of some of the many reasons for divestment. While the CalPERS board has a fiduciary duty to act on behalf of its beneficiaries, as public officials they also have a responsibility to act in the best interest of all Californians.

Please join us at 9 AM on Monday March 18, at the CalPERS Auditorium, Lincoln Plaza North, 400 Q Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. The Board needs to hear a broad spectrum of voices, including yours.

To join us on March 18, or for more information, including about car pools, please contact STheiss@ffca.org

Why should CalPERS divest?

Fossil Free California is a nonprofit organization that works to end financial support for climate-damaging fossil fuel. Graphic © Fossil Free California 

Sara Theiss decided to focus on climate issues after retiring from the California Office of the State Public Defender in 2017, and now volunteers with Fossil Free California (FFCA) to end financial support for the fossil fuel industry. She is a CalPERS retiree and leads FFCA’s campaign on CalPERS divestment.

Restore released felons’ federal voting rights

Action deadline: ASAP and ongoing –

In a rare occurrence of Mitch McConnell speaking truth to power, the Senate Obstruction Leader labeled as a power grab the Democrats’ provisions in H.R. 1 to expand voting rights, including to make Election Day a holiday. Making it easier for people to vote? Guilty as charged, Mitch! And speaking of guilt — and time served — on February 3, House Democrats introduced H.R. 196, the Democracy Restoration Act of 2019, which would extend Federal voting rights to people with felony convictions.

As this powerful letter by a broad coalition of more than 40 organizations in support of the Democracy Restoration Act states:

When people leave prison and return to their community, they deserve a second chance to work, raise families, participate in community life and vote. The current patchwork of felony disenfranchisement laws across the country means that a person’s right to vote in federal elections is determined simply by where they choose to call home. Congress must take action to fix this problem.

What you can do:

Contact your Member of Congress to let them know you support H.R. 196. Representative Barbara Lee is one of the original 33 cosponsors, but Reps. DeSaulnier and Swalwell have  not as of Feb. 7 signed in support. In fact, Swalwell is on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which likely has jurisdiction over the bill. The Subcommittee’s chair and vice-chair, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who is also on the Subcommittee, have all cosponsored it; Swalwell should at a minimum cosponsor the bill, and can do more (see the call script below).

What to say if your Representative is Barbara Lee (CA-13):

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Rep. Lee for cosponsoring H.R. 196 to extend federal voting rights to people with felony convictions. Please speak out publicly on this issue and make sure other Members of Congress understand how important it is to address the unfairness resulting from differences in State laws regarding voting rights for people with criminal convictions. Thank you.

What to say if your Representative is Eric Swalwell (CA-15):

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to urge Rep. Swalwell to cosponsor H.R. 196 to extend federal voting rights to people with felony convictions. In addition, please speak out publicly on this important issue and use your position on the Judiciary Committee, and on the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, to do all you can to support this bill. Thank you.

What to say if your Representative is Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11):

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to urge Rep. DeSaulnier to cosponsor H.R. 196 to extend federal voting rights to people with felony convictions. Please speak out publicly on this issue and also make sure other Members of Congress understand how important it is to address the unfairness resulting from differences in State laws regarding voting rights for people with criminal convictions. Thank you.

  • 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

Spread the word to people in other districts! Send them this list of the bill’s cosponsors, and this link to find and contact their Rep.

Learn more! 

  • See the Brennan Center for Justice‘s map of criminal disenfranchisement laws across the United States. And read their January 29, 2019, letter to the House Judiciary Committee in support of the voting rights provisions of H.R. 1, including to restore voting rights to people with past felony convictions. Read their pdf booklet, Restoring the Right to Vote.
  • In California, citizens not currently in state or federal prison or on parole for a felony conviction can vote. Maine and Vermont are the only states that currently allow citizens to keep their right to vote even while they’re incarcerated for a felony conviction. For more info on the wide variety of state laws, see the ACLU’s map of state felony disfranchisement laws which prevent about 6 million Americans with felony (and in several states misdemeanor) convictions from voting.
  • Read our recent article about H.R. 1, the For the People Act, focusing on portions of the bill which lay the foundation for more secure elections.
  • For more background on the disenfranchisement of people with criminal convictions in the U.S., the Sentencing Project has worked for decades on issues related to criminal justice and inequity in criminal sentencing. They have a lot to say on felony disenfranchisement.
  • Read our article about the Voting Restoration and Democracy Act of 2018, a California ballot initiative we supported last year. The VRDA would have restored voting rights to citizens with past criminal convictions and prohibited the disenfranchisement of voters who are imprisoned or on parole for a felony conviction. The initiative’s sponsor, Initiate Justice, stopped collecting signatures and it was not placed on the November 2018 ballot.

 

Help work on these critical issues with the Indivisible East Bay Voter Rights & Election Integrity team

 

December 10 March for voting rights, photograph © Michael Fleshman

And then we were Two

Indivisible East Bay held its two year anniversary at our All Members Meeting on Sunday January 27, celebrating our successes and quickly diving into what comes next.

AMM, co-emcees Andrea and Ted
Co-emcees Andrea and Ted

To get us rolling, Governance Committee members Nick, Toni, and Linh outlined the importance of HR 1, also known as the For the People Act, and how we need to keep our Members of Congress focused on this important piece of legislation. As the first piece of business issued from the House, it puts to the forefront critical democratic reforms such as restoring the Voting Rights Act, reforming the campaign finance system, and keeping corruption out of the presidency.  Check this primer from Indivisible National and our IEB take on why it is so important and what we can do to keep momentum going.

AMM, Sunrise Movement presentation by Alex Morrison and Sylvia Chi
Sunrise Movement presentation by Alex Morrison and Sylvia Chi

Everyone heard the latest on the Green New Deal and the fantastic Sunrise Movement from two of its Bay Area members, Sylvia Chi and Alex Morrison. A youth-led movement (which also welcomes non-youths!), Sunrise aims to “stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.” In a very short amount of time, Sunrise has successfully led campaigns to get fossil fuel money out of politics and endorsed 19 successful candidates in the 2018 midterms. The goal post-midterms is to pressure all members of Congress, Congressional candidates, and presidential candidates to support the Green New Deal. You can view their informative presentation here.

We then broke for breakouts and birthday cake, and engaged in one of our favorite activities–writing postcards! We wrote to support Nasreen Johnson, the only Democrat running for Fresno County Board of Supervisors. If you missed out, never fear–join our postcard party at Sports Basement on February 10!

AMM, writing postcards to voters
Writing postcards to voters

Next month, join us on February 24 in beautiful Dublin, for our first CA-15-located All Members Meeting!

 

 

IEB members at Kamala Harris’ Kickoff

Sunday, January 27, 2019 was a beautiful day in the East Bay, and Indivisible East Bay held its monthly All Members Meeting. Oh, and also – Senator Kamala Harris kicked off her Presidential campaign in her native Oakland. Several IEB members skipped the AMM for the historic event; we bring you their impressions.

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A preliminary note: So far, IEB’s only position in the Democratic primary is that we will support whoever wins it and do all we can to elect a new president in 2020. If you are interested in participating in a discussion about how we engage with the primary with that as our ultimate goal, please add your email to this list and we will contact you sometime in the coming months about next steps. We are also committed to creating an environment in which our members feel comfortable supporting the primary candidate of their choice regardless of what we do as an organization.

As all agreed, it was a massive crowd – news reports estimated 20,000, which all attendees agreed seemed extremely low. Unfortunately, entry to the event was apparently poorly organized, with huge lines thronging the streets near Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza, so people reported waiting for a couple of hours. (The good news, as one said, was that the delay meant they only got to listen to Kamala’s speech, and not any of the warmup acts!)

On the other hand, IEB Governance Committee member and Senator Team co-lead Amelia Cass had a different experience:

Due to IEB’s relationship with the senator’s Congressional office, I was invited to the rally by her campaign. I see this as a good sign that the senator respects our organization and is interested in appealing to IEB and the rest of the Indivisible movement, and so we have a great chance for us to influence both our own representative and the national discourse. (And as a side benefit for me, I got to watch the rally from the “VIP” section behind the stage, standing just two people over from, as it happened, Rep. Barbara Lee.)

Despite the delays, everyone agreed that the crowds were happy and enthusiastic and the mood, electric. “Clearly a sense of history in the making,” as one IEB-er put it. All reports noted the diversity of the “deliciously Oaklandish” crowd: “So many moms with their kids.” “The racial, age, and gender diversity was obvious, but there were also clearly lots of non-binary and queer folk.”

At least one IEB-er appreciated Harris’ comment that she was born just a few blocks from the rally site, which he understood as an indirect swipe at the outrageous birther conspiracy that has already sprung up against her. As the press has reported, she never mentioned Trump by name, but almost every sentence was directed at him. “The crowd went WILD when Harris said a hostile power was infecting the White House like malware,” as one IEB-er put it. As for policy: Harris began with criminal justice reform and her experience taking on corporations, corruption, and criminals “for the people” of California as Attorney General – perhaps a little surprising since those are also the aspects of her career as a prosecutor that have faced the most criticism (though some have pointed out that both then and now, she has been held to a different standard as a Black woman). She also discussed Medicare for All, legal status and a path to citizenship, election security, and nuclear proliferation. The biggest applause for a policy item was probably her promise to act on climate change “based on science fact, not science fiction,” with her call for a “middle class tax cut” to be paid for by repealing the tax scam a close runner-up. 

Still, although Harris’ speech incorporated many of IEB’s priority policy areas, it was light on commitments to take specific actions. And she did not come across, like some of her rivals, as bursting with big new ideas about how to make our country better. But what it lacked there, it made up in moral force and smart and determined personality. And toward the end of her speech, she turned to an Obama-style theme of a united America familiar to anyone who has heard her speak over the last few years, but with new nuance and thoughtfulness about the meaning and implications of unity that, in Amelia’s words, “I think our movement would do well to consider during a contentious primary.” Although some of those attending the event – including Amelia – say they “weren’t persuaded to vote for her,” they were all impressed. “I think she’d make a formidable opponent,” summarized one IEB-er.

Top photo: Crowd on 14th Street waiting for Kamala Harris, with view of video showing the crowd in the Plaza.

Photographs by Jonathan Zingman and Nancy Latham

Oakland Women’s March 2019

By Ted Lam

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The weather cooperated for the third annual Oakland Women’s March on Saturday January 19; we even got a glimpse of a rainbow! Everyone who marched and lined 14th Street from Lake Merritt to Frank Ogawa Plaza projected positive energy. There were lots of families with kids, and all had smiles and danced along with the various bands in the march.

Indivisible East Bay walked with our good friends and partners in Indivisible Berkeley;  both groups marched proudly behind our banners. I believe we had the youngest Indivisible member (four years old!) participating out of our two groups!

Marching behind Batala, a great Samba drumming group, was like having front row seats at a concert. There was good music, energy, and camaraderie through the day and a lot of interest in IEB at our table. 

The Women’s March has become a major annual event for us to bond with and catch up with the groups and activists many of us spent the past year working with. And we’re all looking forward to next year’s election year event — the 2020 Women’s March!

For another perspective: https://indivisibleeb.org/2019/01/23/oakland-womens-march-2019-what-did-you-miss/

Photographs by Nancy Latham and Ted Lam

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

 

CA-11 Team gets it done!

By Ted Lam

Do you live in California’s 11th Congressional District? Then you should know about Indivisible East Bay’s CA-11 Team! We meet every third Wednesday at the El Cerrito Rialto Theater from 7 to 8:30 PM, and our unofficial team motto is “We get Sh*t Done!”

Over the past two years, our team has developed a solid relationship with our Congressmember, Mark DeSaulnier, and his staff. As part of the Indivisible strategy, we meet with Rep. DeSaulnier on a regular basis, both to share our priorities and learn about his. These meetings allow us to give input about the specific actions and policies that he is fighting for in D.C. on our behalf–and thankfully, he has shown himself to be a very responsive representative.

Over the past two years, the CA-11 Team has partnered with progressive groups to create a better community for all who live in our district. We supported and worked for the successful election of Judge Diana Becton, the first woman and only African-American to be District Attorney in our county. We collaborated with other activists and groups to pressure Contra Costa County Sheriff Livingston to cancel the ICE contract at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond where immigrant detainees were held. We help organize and participate in the El Cerrito Shows Up weekly rallies to highlight the immoral policies of the current administration. Members of the CA-11 team also worked in coalition with others to organize a 400-person rally to protest 45’s interference in the Mueller investigation.

Earlier this month, two candidates running to represent California Assembly District 15 as delegates to the California Democratic Party spoke at our meeting to encourage people to vote in the upcoming delegate election. Indivisible Berkeley member Daron Sharps and Christine Nygaard of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America shared their reasons for running–this year in particular is critical, as the elected delegates will vote when it comes time for the CA Democratic party to make its endorsement for the Democratic nominee for President! If you’re interested in voting for the delegates to the CA Democratic Party from Assembly District 15, the election is on Saturday, January 26 from 9:45 AM to 12:30 PM in Emeryville. Voting begins at 10:30 AM, and you must be in line by 12:30 to vote. You can only vote if you are a registered Democrat living in AD-15 (N. Oakland, Piedmont, Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, El Cerrito, Richmond, El Sobrante, San Pablo, Hercules or Pinole). More information here.

If you want more info about the CA-11 Team, contact co-leads Ted and Kristen at indivisibleca11@gmail.com; Or if you’re on Slack, contact @Ted Lam or @KristenL and join the moc_team_ca11 team. Want an invite to join Slack? Please drop us a line at info@indivisibleeb.org

 Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

Photograph: CA-11 team members Kristen, Toni, and Ted, meet with Rep DeSaulnier

Bar Barr – Tell Senators to vote against AG nominee

Deadline: ASAP and until the vote – Here we go again: another nominee for Attorney General who thinks the president has unfettered powers, that religion trumps (sorry not sorry) law and that it certainly is more important than the rights of LGBTQ folk, that the Muslim ban is good but abortion rights and criminal defendants’ and prisoners’ rights are not … Ladies and gentlemen and resisters of all ages, the Current Occupant presents: William Barr!

The vote on Barr’s nomination is fast approaching. Senator Kamala Harris has said she will oppose his nomination because “he won’t defend independent investigations from attacks and ensure equal protection under the law for all Americans.” She’s also said she opposes him because he doesn’t “embrace a smart on crime approach to public safety.” We agree. Please thank her, and ask Senator Dianne Feinstein to say the same – and to commit to vote against the nomination. See below for call scripts and contact info.

Some scary facts about Barr:

  • He has publicly criticized Robert Mueller’s investigation, yet during his Senate hearing, he refused to commit to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller’s investigation. He also refused to commit to make Mueller’s findings public. Biased and secret – the exact opposite of what an Attorney General should be.
  • As organizations concerned with the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of and from religion have pointed out, he has called for constitutional U.S. law to be replaced with “God’s law.”
  • “He believes that Trump cannot be questioned for firing [FBI Director James] Comey in a criminal obstruction probe because presidents always have the discretion to fire an FBI director” – People for the American Way
  • Barr believes in being tough on minor drug offenders and opposes sentencing reform. He’s a big fan of mass incarceration.
  • He recently praised former Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “an outstanding attorney general.”
  • Read an excellent summary of his disturbing positions on justice reform, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, reproductive freedom, and more, in this article.

What you can do:

Call your Senators. They are the ones who will vote on the nomination.

Senator Harris has already spoken out against Barr and said she will vote against him. What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for speaking out against Attorney General nominee William Barr and saying you’ll vote against him. He’s the wrong person for the job, for all the reasons you’ve said – he won’t uphold the law in a way to protect us.

Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Senator Feinstein has made statements indicating that she doesn’t favor Barr, but as of January 17 she hasn’t said so explicitly and also hasn’t said how she’ll vote. What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please speak out and commit to vote against Attorney General nominee William Barr and saying you’ll vote against him. He’s the wrong person for the job. He won’t uphold the law in a way to protect us.

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

Spread the word to everyone you know, send them the link to this article, and if they don’t have their Senators’ numbers on speed dial, give them this link.

IEB shows up big time for January 3 Day of Action

Whose House? Our House!

If they ever turn the story of the 2018 midterm elections into a movie, the culmination of the film will certainly be January 3, 2019. After the stunning Democratic victory in November — a Blue Wave that resulted in a gain of 40 seats and control of the House — a colorful, diverse and significantly more progressive Democratic party strode triumphantly into the Capitol building for the start of the new 116th Congress.

Not coincidentally, it was also the day that Indivisible had declared as a National Day of Action, an opportunity for local Indivisible groups across the country to meet with their local members of Congress or one of their staff to thank them for their past work when appropriate, and to challenge them to push for a progressive agenda going forward.

The National Day of Action was a huge success; Indivisible National counted 168 events in 31 states, its biggest single day of action yet, and the events made national news and lit up social media. As you would expect, Indivisible East Bay made its presence known here in the Bay Area, organizing and/or participating in three separate events.

CA-11 (Mark DeSaulnier)

More than two dozen people showed up for a noon gathering outside Representative Mark DeSaulnier‘s Richmond office. Every attendee was given one of our spectacular new Blue Wave commemorative t-shirts — paid for by a fundraiser we conducted prior to the event.

IEB members Ted, Heidi, Toni, George and Ted strike a pose
IEB members Ted, Heidi, Toni, George and Ted strike a pose

 

IEB's new Blue Wave Commemorative t-shirts make their public debut!
IEB’s new Blue Wave Commemorative t-shirts make their public debut!

The mild and sunny weather perfectly matched the festive mood of the participants. DeSaulnier was in Washington, of course, but a member of his staff graciously agreed to join us.

As DeSaulnier reliably supports most of IEB’s progressive positions, we didn’t spend much time on persuasion. Rather, we focused on thanks and encouragement. CA-11 team co-lead Ted Lam made an opening statement thanking DeSaulnier for his past work and for making himself so accessible to his constituents. Ted also noted that we had supported his re-election and put in hundreds — if not thousands — of hours to help elect him and other progressives to Congress.

Next up, IEB outreach team co-lead Toni presented DeSaulnier’s staff with a “Back to Congress” backpack, covered with buttons in support of proposed legislation including H.R. 1 and the Green New Deal, and packed with items such as an “Erase Corruption” eraser, a “Restore the Rule of Law” ruler and two of the Blue Wave t-shirts.

Our "Back to Congress" backpack
Our “Back to Congress” backpack

Most notably, the backpack included a letter outlining IEB’s priorities for the 116th Congress. Top of list: H.R. 1, the Democrats’ democracy reform bill which encompassing (1) voter empowerment and access, (2) limiting money in politics, and (3) strengthening ethics and reducing corruption in Congress. The letter cited IEB’s  high expectations for DeSaulnier and urged him not to compromise on the values of H.R. 1. We also offered to meet with him and/or his staff on a regular basis to work to accomplish these goals.

DeSaulnier’s staffer offered thanks on the representative’s behalf, and our event concluded with IEB member George’s light-hearted theatrical reading of our backpack letter, followed by our final thank-yous.

CA-13 (Barbara Lee)

California’s 13th Congressional District, represented by Barbara Lee, benefits from coverage by multiple Indivisible groups, including two of the region’s largest: our own Indivisible East Bay, and Indivisible Berkeley. These groups joined forces with Indivisible Euclid and Indivisible Alameda for Impeachment for a 5 PM event held outside Lee’s office at the Dellums Federal Building in Oakland.

IEB and other Indivisible groups outside Rep. Lee's Oakland office
IEB and other Indivisible groups outside Rep. Lee’s Oakland office

The centerpiece of the gathering was a series of speeches by Indivisible members highlighting their participation in building the Blue Wave — especially via the canvassing done by IB in CA-10 and by IEB in CA-21. The speakers also expressed their hopes for what the 116th Congress will accomplish, focusing on (as with CA-11’s message) H.R. 1 and the Green New Deal.

Following the speeches, Congressional Aide Chrissy Anecito joined the group and read a statement from Lee’s office.

CA-15 (Eric Swalwell)

Meeting at the Castro Valley District office of Eric Swalwell, IEB members presented District Director Mallory De Lauro with a backpack to welcome the Representative back to the new blue Congress. As with CA-11, the backpack contained appropriately labelled school items. A message urged Swalwell to stand firm on all parts of H.R. 1 and to not provide funding for an immoral border wall.

IEB members Ward and Andrea meet with Swalwell District Director Mallory (on left)
IEB members Ward and Andrea meet with Swalwell District Director Mallory (on left)

Ted Lam, Nick Travaglini and Ward Kanowsky contributed to this report. CA-11 photos courtesy of Mary Martin DeShaw.

A Meeting with Sen. Harris’ Office on Environmental Policy

By Elizabeth Douglas

On January 3, 2019, Indivisible East Bay met with staff at Senator Kamala Harris’ office in Washington, D.C. to discuss environmental policy. We thanked the Senator for her record of pro-environment votes and her opposition to climate-change deniers like Andrew Wheeler, we asked that she continue supporting and introducing legislation that protects our environment and communities, and we discussed other ways IEB would like Senator Harris to support climate action.

At the meeting we spoke with Dr. Ike Irby, one of the Senator’s policy advisors. We were very interested in Harris’ take on the new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the Green New Deal. Dr. Irby stated that while Harris supports broad climate action as well as collaboration with the House on climate issues, climate policies that create equity in communities and have an immediate impact to those most affected by climate change are her top priority. These types of policies will also need to promote resilience and sustainability in communities harmed by the current effects of climate change, such as more intense and frequent natural disasters.

Here are a few environmentally-focused legislative actions that Senator Harris will work on in the new Congress:

  • Outdoors for All Act. Originally introduced in September 2018, S. 3499, the Outdoors for All Act, would create equity for public spaces, providing a permanent source of funding for green spaces in urban areas. As we discussed, many city kids don’t have easy access to pleasant outdoors areas, and it’s hard to raise a generation of environmentalists when children may not even be able to play and learn in public parks. Creating these spaces would also help areas reduce their greenhouse gas emissions – a double win! Work on this type of legislation does come with an additional challenge, however, as funding for the grants issued under the Outdoors for All Act would depend on re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which will also need calls of support from your friendly neighborhood Indivisibles!
  • Living Shorelines Act. Originally introduced in July 2018, S.3087, the Living Shorelines Act, would protect our coastline communities through natural and sustainable solutions (read: not concrete seawalls!). This bill would provide these communities with grants for projects to respond to sea level rise, for example, and also to preserve the delicate ecosystems on their coasts and even on islands.

Senator Harris plans to reintroduce both these bills during the new legislative session. Taking climate action is a collective commitment to both our present and future; we need to express our support for these bills and educate others about them so that our communities can feel hopeful and empowered despite the daily (and sometimes daunting) reports of the impacts of climate change. The clear message from our meeting with Dr. Irby was that the time is right to show that climate change legislation should be top priority. We’ll have plenty of actions on environmental issues in the months to come!

Photograph of Senator Harris’ D.C. office by Elizabeth Douglas

Elizabeth Douglas is a mom, runner, and activist from Alameda. She is also a Climate Reality Leader (Seattle 2017) with a strong interest in protecting our ocean and corals.