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.

Barbara Lee and Keith Ellison Discuss the Democratic Party

On Saturday, June 24, Indivisible East Bay and Indivisible Lake Merritt volunteers helped host a political forum with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and DNC Deputy Chair Congressman Keith Ellison, moderated by Van Jones. Despite some technical difficulties with the live stream, much of the day was captured on video here and here.

Topics included the importance of African American voters to the Democratic Party, election strategy, and who could win the presidency in 2020.

Report from a State Reps Town Hall

By Anne Spevack

On Saturday, June 17th, Indivisible East Bay members attended a Legislative town hall with state Senator Nancy Skinner and state Assembly members Rob Bonta and Tony Thurmond. These three legislators have been leaders in sponsoring and supporting progressive legislation in Sacramento. They spoke on Saturday about their efforts to protect immigrants, reform our criminal justice system, and expand access to education and healthcare in spite of strong opposition by the current President’s administration. Here are a few key takeaways about current California politics and legislation:

  • Although Democrats have a majority in both houses, not all democrats are made the same. The state Senate is more progressive than Assembly right now, so although we may have seen progressive bills like Single Payer healthcare pass the senate, they will have a harder time getting enough votes in the Assembly.
  • Governor Brown is also not necessarily a supporter of the most progressive legislation. He is cautious, and keeps his opinions quiet until bills have made some significant progress in the legislature.
  • The Sanctuary State bill is moving forward, and our representatives are optimistic, but the hard selling point will be public safety.  There is evidence that that sanctuary policies can actually increase public safety due to decreased fear of police and other reasons, but we need to be getting the word out about that. The Governor has expressed concern about the effect of sanctuary policies on public safety.
  • The legislature just passed a budget. They repeatedly brought up good things that got more money, but still not enough, in this budget. Everything’s a compromise, even in blue California. For example, in the new budget, California has the highest education investment per pupil in a decade, though our representatives were quick to point out they still think it isn’t enough
  • California is a leader nationally on both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ policies–we spearheaded mass incarceration policies like three strikes and minimum sentencing. We are also spearheading the dismantling of these policies, but it’s important to recognize our mistakes and role in the current culture of criminal justice.
  • Bail reform has gotten some airtime in the legislature this year, but it has not yet been successful. We need more people in the assembly floor speaking out in support of bail reform.
  • Single payer passed the Senate, but faces big hurdles in the Assembly. The recent financial analysis doesn’t account for all costs, and no dedicated funding source has been identified yet. There are a lot of people who are holding out their votes until this happens, and it does need to happen. Our representatives were hopeful but not very optimistic about its chances this year. Representatives from SEIU spoke up saying that they thought there were a few key votes that could be influenced if we could get more of their constituents to call.

Town Hall With Our State Reps

Spend time with State Reps Bonta, Skinner and Thurmond and spread the Indivisible East Bay message!

“I Defend California’s Values” Town Hall Resource Fair 

RSVP for the event here.

Saturday, June 17, 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Cesar Chavez Education Center

2825 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

RSVP if you can help, to Outreach co-lead Nick Travaglini: ieb.outreach@gmail.com

Description of the task(s) needed:
Set up and help table at the town hall’s Resource Fair, promoting Indivisible East Bay (and Indivisible generally) and recruiting them to join and register for our newsletter.

 

Road trip to Fresno: Feinstein Q&A with rural California

The atmosphere at Senator Feinstein’s Central Valley Community Foundation event in Fresno on Thursday was quite a contrast to that at her Bay Area events, but the senator herself was largely the same as ever, which speaks both to her integrity and to her moderate inclinations.

The Q&A portion of the event lasted only about 30 minutes and didn’t include any audience questions. The senator displayed her in-depth knowledge of water issues and touted the Water Resources Development Act as an example of the kind of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans that, though she acknowledges it is disappearing, the senator still advocates for as the only way to  solve problems.

Lines like that got applause in Fresno where they would have gotten jeers in San Francisco. But I think many, if not most of us throughout California agree in principal that bringing together differing viewpoints through compromise needs to be part of the way forward for our country.

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The real question is, how do you compromise with people who. as Sen. Feinstein put it,  “want to cut the costs of health care to provide funding for tax reform which will benefit the wealthy”?  And who lie about it. The senator called the huge Medicaid cuts in the Republican health care bill “undeniable,” but Donald Trump denies them. Paul Ryan denies them. HHS Secretary Tom Price denies them.

The senator’s staff has told us in several different contexts that she refuses to take no for an answer even when legislative solutions to problems look impossible. That is admirable. That is what I want from my representative. I don’t want her to give up that optimism. The optimism I do want her to give up is the hope that “this president can change.” He can’t. She also said she wished “he could calm down.” So do we all. But he won’t.

We need different tactics for this administration. One shouldn’t have to refuse to continue business as usual in the Senate in order to secure an independent investigation into Russian interference in our election. One shouldn’t have to threaten to oppose transportation department nominees in order to get that department to release funding that has been approved by Congress.

Sen. Feinstein’s said in Fresno that the Tea Party has pushed compromise out of our government. I share her fear that what we sometimes describe as the Tea Party of the left will drive out what little is left.

But we’re not going to get compromise back by lamenting its passing or by unilaterally caving in the name of comity. In that context, compromise is a bad word. That’s the kind of compromise that you can do to your principles, or to your safety, or to your sacred honor.

To get compromise back into our government we’re going to have to fight for it. Republicans have shown that they won’t compromise willingly for the good of our country. It seems we need to use resistance tactics to force them back to the table before we can get down to the kind of work Sen. Feinstein described rather wistfully on Thursday:

“It isn’t words that come out of your mouth. It’s words that go on a piece of paper, that will be legal, that will stand the test of time, that will be certified as workable. People have to come back to good old legislation. It’s not rhetoric. It’s, how do you solve a problem?”

Resisting Attacks on Human and Immigrant Rights Under the T**** Agenda

Even with stiff competition from the Warriors’ game, a roomful of community members showed up to Representative Mark DeSaulnier’s June 1st Immigration Town Hall and Resource Fair in Richmond.  

Opening by emphasizing immigrants’ vital value to California’s dynamic economy, DeSaulnier quickly gave the floor to a panel of local experts who each made a short presentation and then fielded audience questions on critical federal and local immigration issues.

Panelists at Rep DeSaulnier's Immigration Town Hall

Richmond Police Lieutenant Tim Simmons (far right) spoke as the city’s Northern District Area Commander, and read a message from Chief Allwyn Brown. Both emphasized community-based policing, and Brown reaffirmed that the current climate of fear would not slow the RPD’s progress in working with the community. The crowd applauded Brown’s statement that the RPD does not enforce federal immigration law. Brown noted that doing so would harm community trust, and acknowledged that the substantial undocumented population tends to be targeted and victimized, making a community/police partnership essential.

Catholic Charities of the East Bay legal services program manager Maciel Jacques (next to Lt. Simmons) highlighted the extensive services CCEB provides, from education and resources on immigrant rights to legal services for documented and undocumented immigrants. CCEB’s presentations and literature teaching people about their rights are vital in these times. Help support Catholic Charities’ crucial work on behalf of immigrant and human rights by donating or volunteering.

DeSaulnier immigration town hall

Private immigration attorney Maria Rivera, based in San Pablo, affirmed that fear of enforcement is real; deportations have doubled in the past 3-4 months over last year. She stressed the need for families to plan for emergencies – from knowing their rights and seeking legal representation to having a plan in case of detention, especially arranging for guardians for children. Warning that everyone without documentation is a target, Rivera strongly recommended consulting an immigration lawyer to address your personal situation, including to identify whether there’s a path to citizenship and to deal with any prior convictions.

Rivera’s valuable concrete advice: Know your rights if you’re stopped by ICE on the street or if they come to your house. If you’re detained, DON’T SIGN ANYTHING and don’t believe what ICE says. DO ask to see an Immigration Judge.

Both Jacques and Rivera noted worsening conditions under the Trump administration, saying that even where official policies haven’t changed, they’ve observed emboldened Customs and Border Protection agents, increased scrutiny of immigration applications, and reluctance to approve benefits. There are also much greater delays in consular processing and by the Department of State.

DeSaulnier immigration town hall

César Manuel Zulaica Piñeyro, from the Mexican consulate in San Francisco, works with the Mexican immigrant community and checks twice weekly for Mexican citizens in ICE detention facilities. He noted increased demand for help getting Mexican citizenship for US-born children and transferring assets to Mexico. Zulaica Piñeyro clarified that for a temporary guardianship to apply in the United States it has to be done in the US, not Mexico.

Regarding ICE detention, detainees only have the right to legal representation at their own expense, and 80% of immigration detainees are unrepresented, which greatly increases their chances of being deported.  Zulaica Piñeyro said that detained Mexicans have the right to notify the consulate, which would contact their family.

Lt. Simmons said there have been no ICE raids in Richmond, although ICE continues to conduct its usual enforcement. Rivera and Jacques mentioned that a rapid response network is being developed in Contra Costa County to quickly deploy observers and/or lawyers for people facing imminent deportation and other problems from immigration enforcement. They referred to the ACILEP network (Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership) already in place for Alameda Co., and its ICE activity hotline at (510) 241-4011.

You can also donate to or volunteer with Centro Legal De La Raza, one of the primary groups behind the ACILEP hotline and network.

By Heidi Rand