Rep Mark DeSaulnier Town Hall, October 2017

Representative Mark DeSaulnier held his 50th Town Hall on October 16, 2017. The meeting, held in Walnut Creek before a standing room-only crowd, was also live-streamed on DeSaulnier’s Facebook page. California’s District 11 representative was his typical self: a policy wonk, solid on his facts and figures, willing to work with the audience without backing away even from those who were angry with him.Rep Mark DeSaulnier 50th Town HallDeSaulnier gave an overview and talked about the fires up north and environmental concerns. He spoke quite a bit about opioid addiction issues and the recent 60 Minutes/Washington Post report on Congress’s role in preventing the DEA from prosecuting drug companies suspected of a major role in this disaster.

DeSaulnier also talked about how we in California have managed to be great in terms of innovation, growth, and embracing new technology and environmental protection. Some of his main points: China and other countries are now embracing much of what we’ve been doing — including plans to stop producing internal combustion engines — but the U.S. as a whole is becoming an outlier by failing to look to the future. California will continue to be a leader; but in the Bay Area we have to address issues of affordable housing and transportation and their roles in our ability to attract the best people to come here and stay.

Other issues included:

  • Fielding a tough question on immigration, DeSaulnier responded that immigrants contribute more economically than they “take” from the government. An audience member didn’t like that answer, so he asked staff to set up a one-on-one for him and the audience member to review each other’s facts.
  • DeSaulnier said that he does not support term limits: he feels that term limits get rid of both good and bad people and overall reduce the strength of your “bench.” It’s better, he said, if elections are transparent and everyone votes.
  • There was a question on BART and its service. DeSaulnier reiterated his support for labor, and sweated out the recent bond measure to upgrade BART infrastructure.
  • Someone asked about the recent Muslim ban, and DeSaulnier said that Congress is looking at studies on how other countries have dealt with religious intolerance. He mentioned that our founding fathers came to this country to escape religious intolerance, and said that the views of Steve Bannon and his ilk are not a part of our country.
  • To a question about the planned Republican tax cuts, DeSaulnier stated strong opposition, especially the FY18 budget passed by the House. He favors a more progressive tax system.
  • He is concerned about election protection and Russian interference and hacking in our elections. He reflected that if 63 million people had voted in 2016 the result could have been different – although, he said, you respect the votes of the other side.

Couldn’t make it to the Town Hall? You can see DeSaulnier’s PowerPoint presentation here.

It’s Not a Town Hall Like You Promised

Whatever Senator Feinstein says, her speaking engagement on August 29 was not a town hall. In fact, public participation was actively discouraged at every turn, and as a result, constituents like us who would have prefered to participate in the evening’s policy discussion are instead forced to focus on the ways we have been shut out.

The event was not, as far as we could tell, promoted outside of the Commonwealth Club network—certainly the senator did not inform her constituents of this chance to meet with her in person (for a fee). As a result, the vast majority of the audience was Club members. “Hardly,” as one reporter put it on Twitter, “a cross section of San Francisco” let alone California.

After several requests, a form was provided to suggest questions online. It was shared only by the Commonwealth Club on the event’s Facebook page and with a few Indivisibles who had been asking for it (to the best of our knowledge). Her staff told us the senator would share this link with as many constituents as possible. She did not.

The day of the event, we arrived early, along with some friends who were not able to get tickets, to protest the fact that our senator was holding a sham town hall. Security (politely) asked us to take  several steps away from the building in order to hold our signs and distribute our fliers on “the public sidewalk.” And if we drifted across that line we were (politely) scolded. There was no obvious reason for these restraints other than to suppress our participation.

Those of us privileged enough to have obtained tickets attempted to bring in our red and green agree/disagree cards in order to politely and non-disruptively express our opinions during our representative’s remarks. Event staff (quite rudely this time) confiscated them, apparently fearing that allowing the audience to participate in this way would be pandemonium.

Instead we were invited to “express ourselves” in writing on little question cards. The moderator chose a few of these to read (or paraphrase), but for all we know, the rest may have gone directly into the trash. Such an action would certainly have been in line with the tone of the evening which was that we should sit down, shut up, and be grateful to be allowed to listen in on a conversation between elites.

In April, at her real town hall, one of Sen. Feinstein’s constituents expressed appreciation for an event at which many different voices were heard and then asked his senator to “continue to meet with us like this.” Last night barely counted as a meeting and it certainly wasn’t “like this” or “with us.” She failed to meet her commitment, and If she doesn’t rectify that at her next recess, she will have let down not only her most engaged constituents, but the entire state. And if she doesn’t answer to the people who elected her, she will have let down democracy itself.

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

Call your senator today and say:

If Senator Feinstein intends to fulfill the duty she was elected to do, she must engage directly with the people of California—hear their concerns and answer their questions—at an open town hall, as she promised in April she would do. Her August event was not a town hall. I demand that she hold one in September.

On Keeping Promises

On April 17, 2017 at  the first town hall of her career, Senator Dianne Feinstein made a promise:

Audience Member: I would like to know whether you will commit to continuing to meet with us like this, and specifically on your next recess can we do a meeting on a Saturday when people can come? [cheers]

Senator Feinstein: I don’t know whether it will be my next recess…but I will commit to doing one on the weekend during the summer. [louder cheers]

Now she is claiming that an exclusive ($40-$65 per ticket*), tightly restricted (no direct interaction with the audience or follow-ups from anyone but the moderator) event organized by the Commonwealth Club of California is a better way to reach more constituents than a free and open town hall where she faces her constituents directly.

We are sure it will be a lovely event. But it is NOT the promised town hall.

If you disagree with the senator’s decision, please come protest outside the event. If you can’t make it in person, call the office and tell Sen. Feinstein that her constituents expect her to fulfill her commitments.

Date: Tuesday August 29, 2017
Time: 5pm
Location: Outside the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email): SF Office: (415) 393-0707

*The money goes to the nonprofit organizing the event, not to Sen. Feinstein or her campaign, but it is still a huge barrier to entry for many people.

Note: Also please submit questions for the senator at this link. Perhaps the moderator will chose to read one.

 

White Supremacists, In Berkeley? Noooooo!!

As mentioned in last week’s newsletter and blog post, Indivisible East Bay decided to endorse the Bay Area Rally Against Hate, scheduled for Sunday August 27 from 10:30-12:30 pm at the UC Berkeley Crescent Lawn, near Addison and Oxford. The Rally was planned as a peaceful counter-protest to a white nationalist group’s posting on social media about an event called “No To Marxism,” scheduled for Sunday at MLK Civic Center Park in Berkeley from 1:00-5:00 pm. “No To Marxism” did not seek a permit, and none has been granted.

Many of us watched the special Berkeley City Council meeting last Friday, at which the Council and public aired concerns regarding the planned white nationalist event and counter protests. The Council passed an ordinance giving the City Manager power to issue temporary regulations of unpermitted protests.  While Saturday’s massive counter-protest in Boston shows that counter-demos can be effective and peaceful, the City of Berkeley is encouraging people to “stay away from conflict” and it’s uncertain how many people will turn out on Sunday.

Many of you have been asking us about IEB’s participation in Sunday’s events. After much discussion among ourselves, and considering what other groups and organizations are planning, we’re offering our members the following information.

At the time of this post, individual members of several local Indivisible groups, including Indivisible East Bay, Indivisible El Sobrante, Poinsett Indivisible, and ReSisterhood do not feel they can “stay away” when white supremacists and Nazis invade our town. Many of us plan to attend the Rally Against Hate, which we note has been endorsed by more than a hundred groups and organizations.

Crescent Lawn UCB

We invite Indivisible East Bay members to join us; however, each individual must consider what level of risk they can tolerate, as it’s possible there could be violence or aggression even at the counter-protest. If you do want to gather with us, we’ll meet at 10:15 am at the top of the “crescent” of the Crescent Lawn, near the concrete walls. Once the counter-rally ends at 12:30, IEB’s participation for the afternoon will be over. While some groups are planning to march to the white nationalist rally, the IEB group is not doing so although obviously each member will make their own decision.

And if you’d like to join us on Sunday, here are some suggestions:

  • Wear your IEB or Resist shirts!
  • Make handheld signs  or use cardboard tubes as poles
  • Come with a buddy, or make new friends there to hang out with. Watch their back and they’ll watch yours. Share phone numbers
  • Engage with other Indivisibles, resistance groups and allies
  • Bring sunscreen, water, and energy bars
  • Consider whether to bring children and pets
  • Establish an exit route and/or emergency meeting area north of campus
  • Be aware of conditions around you and understand that the situation is unpredictable and safety cannot be guaranteed

Again, we all have different comfort levels and there’s no guilt if you decide to stay away. Some IEB members are choosing other ways to protest:

  • Download and read the Southern Poverty Law Center’s excellent guide: Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide
  • Attend a Day of Service and Solidarity with Urban Tilth at the North Richmond Farm on August 26 from 10 am to 1 pm
  • Create Resist signs for windows
  • Amplify our voice by retweeting and/or sharing on Facebook any IEB social media posts that day. Follow our public FB page and our twitter account, and help us push out our postings, including those with hashtags #IEBUnitedAgainstH8 or #IEBResists
  • Finally, the local interfaith community has taken a leading role in organizing to counter the alt-right, white supremacist and anti-Semitic gathering. Several different faith groups and congregations are planning to participate in various actions. Many of them will gather on Sunday at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, between 12:15 and 13:30 pm. See details here if you’re interested in joining with them

As the situation will likely change leading up to Sunday morning, please email info@indivisibleeb.org with “Resisting” in the subject line to stay updated on IEB’s plans.

Stay Woke and Wake Some People up!

Rep. Barbara Lee always brings together a great panel for her town halls. She took the stage at her town hall: “What Do You Have To Lose? The Impacts of Trump on African Americans” Wednesday evening with Urban League President Marc Morial, BART director Lateefah Simon, and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. Angela Glover Blackwell of PolicyLink moderated the conversation which touched on voting rights, health care, the war on drugs, housing and displacement, income gaps, education, and more.

To her CA-13 constituents Rep. Lee said, “this district is leading the resistance.” And to Republicans in Washington she said, “No way you’re going to take us back. We’re gonna fight, we’re gonna resist, and we’re gonna move forward.”

IMG_1314The group focused on resisting the Trump agenda on a state and local level–which fits in nicely with some of the expansions into that arena Indivisible EB has begun. For example, the panel agreed that in spite of the constant depressing news coming out of Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department, most criminal justice takes place at a state and county level. And we well know that a there is plenty of room for criminal justice reform in California. In fact, Tony Thurmond brought up his own bill to tax private prisons in the state and give that money to pre-K and after school programs that have been shown to reduce incarceration rates for participants. He also mentioned a bill by another local, Rob Bonta, reforming California’s bail system; if this bill passes, as well as doing a lot of good locally, it has the potential to be a success story Senator Harris can point to as she fights for her bail reform bill in the Senate.

A loud and persistent heckler who said she’d voted for Trump interrupted the conversation a couple of times, but was drowned out when Tony Thurmond led the crowd in a chant of “Barbara Lee speaks for me.”

The event also contained a strong message about unity and intersectionality–broadening the movement, finding common ground among the many people threatened by the actions of our federal government. Barbara Lee urged everyone in the audience to reach out to less politically active members of their families and communities.

And each member of the panel used Barbara Lee’s campaign slogan, “stay woke” at least once. But Marc Morial took it a step further saying, “While we must stay woke, we also have to wake some people up.”

Union City Town Hall with Rep. Eric Swalwell

IEB members were among an estimated 250 people at a very energized and broad-ranging Town Hall with Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) on August 5, 2017. Rep. Swalwell began with a rousing speech in defense of democracy and the middle class for about 20 minutes, then responded very thoroughly for nearly an hour and a half to questions on subjects ranging from the environment to immigration to healthcare to why Democrats are not standing up more strongly for the middle class, and why sometimes Corporate Democrats appear just like a watered-down version of Republicans.  

IEB at Swalwell town hall 8.17

IEB members meet other activists at Rep. Eric Swalwell’s Union City town hall

Swalwell repeatedly turned the issues to how important it was to stay participating, keep resisting, and not getting tired. He seemed to channel the best of all those who have fought to improve our nation over the decades; indeed, many in the audience prefaced their remarks by saying: “We’re so proud of who you have become, and what you are doing in this role.”

Swalwell emphasized over and over that we must get to the bottom of the issue of Russia meddling in our election system and subverting our entire democracy, through both ways we already know of such as the spread of fake news and others we may not yet be aware of. One of the audience’s loudest cheers was to Swalwell’s remark, in response to a question: “And this is not a President who has the right to lecture anyone else on morals.” One of our IEB participants asked a question about Swalwell’s support of HR 1697, a bill opposing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel; he also expressed concern about what Congress could do about the possibility of Trump firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to which Swalwell responded that he feels that Congress takes this very seriously and that both parties are working to keep the checks in place, to function as the “guardrail” of democracy. We fervently hope that he is right.

 

#ResistEngageAct in CA-11

Resistance Fair

Had Mitch McConnell and his cronies succeeded in jamming skinny repeal of our healthcare through the Senate on July 28, the mood would have been more gloomy at Saturday’s Resistance Fair sponsored by Mark DeSaulnier for Congress in conjunction with Indivisible East Bay’s CA-11 United Team.

Resistance Fair

But fresh on the heels of the Resistance’s victory in holding all Democrats and Independents in line, and swaying the critical three Republicans to vote thumbs DOWN, more than 400 people were energized and eager to hear the rallying speeches of Representative DeSaulnier and Jeremy Haile, co-author of the Indivisible Guide.

Resistance Fair
CA-11 United organizers Kristen and Tom, with speaker Jeremy Haile. Photo by Melanie Bryson

Missed it? You can view DeSaulnier’s informative and motivating Powerpoint program, video of Jeremy Haile’s speech, and their Q&A with the audience. (Thanks to Erik Stallman for posting the videos on youtube). IEB member Mel live-tweeted an excellent series of photos with highlights from Haile’s memorable quotes, including: “Trump promised health care repeal would be FIRST thing, and THAT did NOT happen!!” and “You are doing something historic. If we continue working together, we will win.” And our proud Congressman tweeted a video clip of the audience doing a spirited “CALIFORNIA 11” cheer!

Resistance Fair cheer

The Resistance Fair portion of the day was like an in-person Tinder meetup for the crowd (swiping left of course) to mix n’ match, talk to, sign up for info, and find where everyone fit in to become active with the 40 advocacy, electoral and resistance groups who had tables full of flyers, petitions, political swag, and more!

Resistance Fair booths

The tablers also mingled, and coalition-building was thick in the air. Since California District 11 stretches from Richmond to Brentwood, the Fair reunited far-flung friends and enabled new cross-pollination among allies. Organizations focused on the widely diverse issues in our broad progressive movement showed up, including several Indivisible and Democratic Party groups, advocates for civil and criminal rights, racial, gender and LGBTQIA equity,  immigration, youth, and many more.

Resistance fair tables

Trying to figure out where YOU fit to #ResistEngageAct against Trump and the Republican agenda, and to persist in advancing progressive values?

By Heidi Rand

 

Checking in with State Senator Wieckowski

Last week saw the passage of AB 398, the compromise cap-and-trade bill, which prevented the much more progressive SB 775 from working its way through the legislature.The author of SB 775, State Senator Bob Wieckowski (SD-10, Fremont), spoke at an event in San Francisco hosted by the Universal Income Project on Tuesday evening. Members from IEB as well as our friends at CA StateStrong & Indivisible SF attended the event to express our support for SB 775 and our disappointment that the Senator (and most other Democrats) voted for AB 398.

Senator Wieckowski responded that AB 398 is mediocre, that he had a hard time casting his vote, and that his staff supported a no vote, but that he was “definitely feeling the heat” from Jerry Brown, who designed the current cap & trade system protected by AB 398 and considers it his “baby.” Wieckowski also talked about the role of SB 1, the gas tax bill that was passed earlier this year, implying that some legislators feel paralyzed in passing any more legislation that could be perceived as a tax this year. He said if he could do it again, he would come out louder and earlier in support of SB 775. We told him he could and should let the grassroots help him in his efforts to pass progressive environmental legislation.

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On a positive note, Senator Wieckowski talked at length about SB 775 and his continuing desire to overhaul and improve the entire system. When we asked whether there was any path forward to implement the good parts of SB 775, he said the current bill just punts the responsibility of the entire program to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) – so in theory, there’s nothing prohibiting more legislation that would direct CARB to implement some of SB 775’s features (for instance, not allowing rollover carbon emission allowances). Senator Wieckowski seems quite knowledgeable about environmental matters and concerned about other environmental issues, including decarbonizing the grid and promoting the use of clean vehicles. Overall, perhaps the most optimistic takeaway is that we have found an opportunity to work with a legislator who is not used to working with the grassroots but is open to our input, our help, and our support for pushing the environmental needle left. So let’s keep showing up!

By Jiggy of CAStateStrong

United We Stand: Resistance Fair July 29th

We the People

Together we shall stand indivisible!

Join Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA District 11), Indivisible Guide co-author Jeremy Haile, and activists from more than 30 groups at a Resistance Fair on Saturday, July 29th at Diablo Valley College Commons Area, 321 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, California.

Congressman DeSaulnier and special guest Jeremy Haile will speak from 10 to 11 am. Please RSVP for this part of the program. It’s free, but registration is required due to limited seating.

The Resistance Fair will be held from 10 am to 12 pm (free, no RSVP needed). Meet representatives from more than 30 advocacy and electoral groups who’re organizing on many different issues in our broad progressive movement. Make connections, network, ask questions and find out how you can help!

DeSaulnier Resistance Fair

Some of the groups who’ll be there:

  • ACLU
  • Indivisible East Bay
  • Indivisible East Contra Costa County
  • Indivisible 4C
  • Swing Left
  • Working America, Central Valley
  • Citizens’ Climate Lobby
  • Asian Pacific Environmental Network
  • Healthy Richmond
  • ​​Organizing for Action Contra Costa
  • Empathy Tent
  • Women’s March Walnut Creek
  • CA Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA)
  • CC County Action Team
  • Contra Costa Progressives
  • Health Care for All, Contra Costa County
  • Together We Will Contra Costa (TWWCC)
  • Lamorinda Dem Club
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Rainbow Street
  • Move to Amend
  • San Ramon Valley Democratic Club
  • Diablo Valley Democrats
  • ICCCC
  • Maplight
  • End Poverty in Contra Costa County
  • SURJ Bay Area

The Resistance Fair is hosted by DeSaulnier for Congress in conjunction with Indivisible CA-11 United. Park in Lot 8 off Golf Club Rd.

Any questions? Contact indivisibleca11@gmail.com

 

IEB Attends Single Payer Healthcare Town Hall

On Saturday, July 9, IEB and Indivisible SF members attended a Single Payer Town Hall in Larkspur on the subject of Senate Bill 562, The Healthy California (HC) Act, also known as single-payer healthcare. The Town Hall was hosted by State Senators Mike McGuire (SD 2) and Ricardo Lara (SD 33), State Assemblymember Marc Levine (AD 10), and Larkspur Supervisor Judy Arnold; a panel of experts included local physicians, the President of the California Nurses Association, Deborah Burger, and the Executive Director of the California Alliance for Retired Americans, Jodi Reid.  

In his opening remarks, Senator Lara, one of the authors of the bill (the other is Senator Toni Atkins, SD 39), shared three basic tenets of universal health care: (1) health care is a human right, (2) everyone gets to pick healthcare providers of their own choice and (3) care is determined by the patients and their health care provider. Senator Lara was clear that universal health care would be good for Californians: it would cover all residents, including those currently un- or under-insured, and would save the state about $37 billion a year.

After opening remarks from the hosts and the panel, the floor was opened up to questions from the lively and knowledgeable audience of about 300-400 local residents, and some who came from as far away as the South Bay. Questions were wide-ranging and included hot topics such as the role of Medicare (Healthy California will act as supplemental insurance for Medicare recipients); how will we pay for it (about 70% of funds will come from existing federal, state and private resources); and mental health coverage (Healthy California will fully cover all necessary mental health care needs). One major concern of the audience was the fate of the bill now that Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (AD 63) has held the bill in the Assembly Rules Committee, claiming that the bill is “woefully inadequate.” Assemblymember Levine reminded the audience that the authors of the bill can add an urgency clause at any time to avoid the restrictions imposed by the legislative timetable and keep the bill from dying in committee.

The panelists continued to answer audience questions well past the planned two hour debate to accommodate all who wished to be heard.

Watch the California State Democrats’ video of the Town Hall.