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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Katie Hooper

Tax Scam Protests: Week One

Protest Trump tax plan. Photo by Charlie Moehle
Protest of the Trump tax plan. Photo by Charlie Moehle

IEB member Candace Goldman connected with Indivisible at its beginning, after the devastating 2016 election. She has participated in many events, from meetings at congressional district offices to protests, town halls, phone banking, emailing, and sending “thank you” notes to our elected officials.

November 6, 2017 marked the kick-off of a nationwide protest of the proposed Republican tax “reform” bill. Big picture, this bill would give enormous tax cuts to large corporations and the wealthiest 1% of individuals, to be paid for by the rest of us along with a deficit increase of another $1.3 – 1.7 trillion. This is not reform; it’s a scam that does great harm and increases the wealth gap. Or, as I am calling it, Structured Collusion Against the Majority.

So how’d this first week go? We began by encouraging our members (and family, and friends, and friends of friends!) to call and write their Members of Congress to encourage a NO vote on the tax scam. On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 7, while districts were flipping blue in state elections around the country, a small group of us gathered at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland for a rush hour reminder to passersby to say NO to the tax scam. To our surprise, within ten minutes we were in the midst of a major police action straight out of a “Lethal Weapon“ movie. Police cars screaming everywhere, a helicopter overhead, fire engines and ambulances rounding the corner, and road blocks set up. It was disconcerting but we stood our ground and, despite all the flashing lights and screaming sirens, the public saw us and the response was very favorable.

After a protest organized by Indivisible Berkeley on the Berkeley Overpass on Thursday, November 9, which we supported, another small group of us met at the plaza in front of the Oakland Federal Building on Saturday, November 11, Veteran’s Day. We soon decided that Broadway, with much more foot and vehicle traffic, would be a better audience location than quiet Clay Street, so we changed spots. We handed out lots of leaflets and had some good conversations with pedestrians who stopped to talk and get more information; cars, and even some bus drivers, showed their support by honking and waving as they drove by.

We clearly reached a lot of people and drew their attention to the imminent threat posed by the tax scam; and we have a lot more work to do to ensure that Congress hears our roar of “NO” to this devastating bill. Thank you to all who participated in this week’s  events. Thanks to all of you who will be adding your energy and your voices to stopping this legislation. We will not be done until the tax scam is defeated. Keep your eyes peeled for more information. With your help, this “reform” WILL GO DOWN.

By Candace Goldman

Abuses Alleged at Richmond ICE Facility

No access to bathrooms, only to plastic bags. Hours-long lockdowns. Federal immigration detainees at the West County Detention Facility have documented these and other complaints in a September letter signed by 27 inmates to Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), a group that monitors jails where immigrants are detained.

Complaint filed by immigration detainees

The Contra Costa County Sheriff – whose office has a $6 million-a-year contract with ICE to operate the immigration detention center – is investigating the allegations of mistreatment raised by the detainees.

The allegations were publicly revealed in a San Francisco Chronicle article on November 2, and the newspaper has further investigated the story:

You can also read detainees’ demands to improve conditions at the West County Detention Facility, released by the East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

The reports have raised concerns among state elected officials. Reportedly, Representative Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) has scheduled a tour of the jail on November 27, and State Senator Nancy Skinner has urged California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a letter to probe conditions at the jail.

What you can do:

Please call your elected officials and say:

Hi. My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m with Indivisible East Bay. As the SF Chronicle has reported, immigration detainees at the ICE facility at West County Detention Center in Richmond are alleging abuse and mistreatment. Please move quickly to conduct a thorough, independent investigation to insure that their rights are upheld and that conditions do not put their health at risk.

Call State Attorney General Xavier Becerra and ask him to investigate, as Sen. Nancy Skinner has reportedly asked him to do. Public Inquiry Unit: (916) 210-6276 or (800) 952-5225

Other ways to help:

  • Nancy Burke, of Courageous Resistance / Indivisible El Sobrante & Richmond, is organizing a meeting with the sheriff who runs the West County Detention Center to bring the community’s concerns to her attention. The meeting will focus on 10 points of concern about conditions at the facility. Please contact Nancy by email or phone: (510) 932-9267 if you have questions or you’re interested in attending the meeting.
  • Save the date to help support CIVIC (the group to whom the detainees sent the letter) in their work to end the isolation of West County immigration detainees. Artists for Humanity invites all to an afternoon of music, poetry, and dance, January 28, 2018, 2:30 to 5:00 PM at Ashkenaz in Berkeley. The benefit concert (asking for a sliding scale donation) will create a revolving bail fund to be used by West County detainees to reunite with their families and gain legal representation. Email for more information.

The Art of Resistance

Big Oil Dudes, by artists from ARRT.
Big Oil Dudes, by artists from ARRT.

Janis Hashe is a freelance writer/editor/teacher/theatre person. She has been politically active in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chattanooga and now Richmond. Her deepest personal commitments include fighting climate change, ending factory farming and overturning Citizens United.

I grew up in Santa Cruz County and was a self-declared feminist by age 14, and active in my first political campaign as a senior in high school. After 23 years in Los Angeles, and ten in Tennessee, I returned to Santa Cruz less than a year before the election debacle. Like many, I went to bed that night stunned—but rose determined to resist.

I first joined a Meet-Up group called “Strategies for the New Political Climate,” which was helpful as it brought like-minded people together, and Swing Left, to which I still belong. It quickly became clear, however, that there were too many groups pulling resources too many ways, and Santa Cruz Indivisible emerged as the go-to organization. It now has an extremely effective and well designed web site and Facebook page; the page showing almost 2,500 likes. The group almost immediately realized that the best way for people to focus their energies and time was to create issue subgroups: these are listed on their site under “Issues for Resistance.”

As a writer and theatre artist, I gravitated toward the subgroup Artists Respond and Resist Together (ARRT), which identified itself this way: “We are an affiliation of artists joined together by our shared belief in the power of art to effect social change and protect democratic values. Our creative skills support progressive social actions in our local community and beyond.” This group was committed to actions, not group-complaining sessions, and this motivated me. An example of the actions ARRT continues to do is creating resistance banners that will hang over Highway 1 overpasses:

  • Branciforte Ave. Overpass: “Putin is not our Friend”
  • Morrissey Blvd. Overpass: “Country above party”
  • La Fonda Ave. Overpass: “We are Indivisible.”
John Muir. Street theatre art by Santa Cruz artist Donna Thompson
John Muir. Street theatre art by Santa Cruz artist Donna Thompson

I am currently working with Heidi, another IEB member, to organize a first meeting of ARRT/East Bay. We’d like to curate a show of Resistance-themed art, make a list of suggested art-focused actions, and also solicit artist volunteers who can be called on to help create graphics, signage, and other art for events. I would also like to see if we can replicate the very successful “Resist Fest” held in downtown Santa Cruz, in which all local Indivisible groups participated. If you’re interested in joining us, please email me.

Can We Work Toward a National Resistance Summit?

Its no secret that getting progressives to work together can resemble the proverbial herding cats. But another famous statement that resonates strongly right now was made by Ben Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” I believe ALL the groups engaged in resistance work: political, environmental, human and civil rights, education, income inequality … all of us … need to come together and set a National Resistance Agenda. If all the groups currently struggling to do things individually joined forceseven if it was only on certain key issuesit would be a massive force for progressive change. I continue to urge the leaders of all the groups to which I belong to consider this idea.

By Janis Hashe

Racial Justice Task Force Community Forums

The Contra Costa County Racial Justice Task Force was created by the Board of Supervisors on April 12, 2016, and given a mandate to:

  • Research and identify consensus measures within the County to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system;
  • Plan and oversee implementation of the measures once identified; and
  • Report back to the Board of Supervisors on progress made toward reducing racial disparities within the criminal justice system.

Click here to see a list of the Task Force’s 17 members, and meeting locations and agendas for each monthly meeting, held the first Wednesday of every month at 1 PM.

The Task Force is also holding a series of five Community Forums, one in each district; all members have committed to attending at least one of the Forums.Contra Costa County Racial Justice Task Force

You can also submit input about the process to the Racial Justice Task Force here.

This is the Task force member list, as of November 2017:

Racial Justice Task Force members

No Saturday Night Massacre 2017

Word leaking from the White House is that Trump is losing his shizzle as Special Counsel Robert Mueller & Team close in on the president and his friends & family in pursuing the Russia investigation. The October 30 bombshell unsealing of the 12 count indictments against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, and an eye-popping guilty plea by Trump’s former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI has ratcheted up the pressure.

Some Republicans are trying to diminish, obstruct or outright kill the investigations into Trump’s Russia ties. A resolution was introduced on November 3 to remove Mueller, and Fox News and other right wing media are pushing for firing. Meanwhile, Democrats have introduced legislation to protect Mueller or bolster the investigation, including Rep. John Conyers’ (D-MI) Special Counsel Integrity Act (H.R. 3771).

There’s much you can do:

  • Call your MoCs and say: My name is ___, I’m a constituent from [zip code], and a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please do all you can to combat Republican efforts to obstruct Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and to support Democratic efforts to protect it. Thank you.
  • Send an e-letter: Join the Action Network’s online letter-writing campaignRead more details and use the easy form to have letters sent to your MoCs.
  • Hit the streets if Mueller is fired!  MoveOn is calling for emergency Nobody is Above the Law rallies nationwide if Trump fires Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Search by zip code to find an event. At this time, local rallies set for San Francisco and Walnut Creek.

Stayed tuned for further news!

No Boooos at October All Member Meeting

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

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

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

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

BREAKOUT SESSIONS

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

IEB’s Judiciary Team Rocks the Nation!

When the current occupant of the White House started what has turned into a terrifying court-packing effort (together with his cronies in the Senate), a few of IEB’s fearless research-loving members went into high gear. Since late summer 2017, what is now our Judiciary Team has created and shared an extensive database of information about judicial nominees as well as creating and sharing digital toolkits, and has become a resource for Indivisible National, Indivisible chapters nationwide, and other organizations. We’re proud to tell you some of their many achievements:

  • Indivisible National cites IEB’s Judiciary Team for our work and recommends us as a resource (about 3/4 of the way down this page).
  • Judiciary Team members Linh, Donna and Heidi have begun organizing with Lawyers For Good Government, a national group interested in working on Trump’s judicial nominations.
  • IEB Judiciary Team member Donna helped organize Rapid Resist text/phone bank campaigns into Texas and North Carolina against the nomination of Gregory Katsas for the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Indivisible SF also helped with the North Carolina campaign. Shout outs to Alysia, Cassie and Yoni of Rapid Resist!
  • Two groups in North Carolina have also mobilized against the nomination of Thomas Farr for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, after receiving information from us.
  • We have provided our friends at Indivisible SF with information and scripts to help their work contacting a network of groups in Colorado to mobilize against the nominations of Katsas and of Allison Eid to fill Neil Gorsuch’s seat on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Shout outs to Jonah and Kristen at ISF!
  • We have been in contact with two groups in Idaho that will call their Senators against Trump’s judicial nominations.
  • Donna has also been in contact with Indivisible chapters and other progressive groups in Minnesota and Oregon that have mobilized against Trump’s court nominations.
  • We have worked extensively with Indivisibles in Texas. At the request of Indivisible Houston, we created and provided a toolkit with talking points for MoC meetings, blog posts, graphics for social media posts, and call scripts. Indivisible Austin ended up using our materials to create a blog post/call to action. Indivisible Houston used the toolkit for a visit to Senator Cornyn’s office to discuss the nomination of Jeff Mateer (the one who said that trans children are “part of Satan’s plan”). Indivisible Denton did a call script and call to action. Indivisible Austin used our materials in their blog. Judiciary Team member Amelia also reached out to Equality Texas, which was also doing a call to action on Mateer, and shared their link with the Texas Indivisibles.
  • The latest addition to the state list: Arizona, where Rapid Resist has just begun campaigning against the Katsas nomination with IEB’s help. Thanks to Alysia, Cassie, and Yoni at Rapid Resist!

Have a questions for the Judiciary Team, or want to lend a hand? Contact us!

Making a Difference – An Easy Way

Editor’s note: Governance Committee member and IEB CA-11 team co-lead Ted Lam wrote about text banking for the Virginia House of Delegates’ election. If you’re interested in text banking with IEB – and after reading Ted’s account we hope you will be! – please see our Events page.

I saw Indivisible National’s Facebook request for text banking volunteers starting the weekend of October 28 through early November for the Virginia House of Delegates’ election. I couldn’t help myself due to my soft spot for Virginia, so I signed up for a 2-hour window on the first day.  As a Coast Guard Officer I spent a lot of my time in the late 90s and early 2000’s in Northern Virginia and the Tidewater region (Yorktown, Portsmouth, Williamsburg). I love the area.

Indivisible emailed me a link to a Zoom training by Michele from Indivisible Virginia. I couldn’t get on the video conference but the followup email had a recording of it, which worked perfectly. Michele’s training was excellent.

On the scheduled day, I was ready for my 10 AM to 12 PM slot. Although I was at a 5-hour seminar at downtown Oakland’s Preservation Park for my union’s delegate assembly, I was able to sneak away to a breakout room at 9:50 to start text banking. Indivisible used Relay, a web-based system which connects to your phone and laptop/iPad. It was simple. I think Relay and the pre-loading of information that it uses may be what Indivisible National has been buying with some of the money it solicited for “tools.”

I had a list of 40 people in my conversation queue with pre-loaded text messages saying I was a volunteer from Indivisible Virginia. I sent out the 40 texts and walked back to my meeting. The recipients get a local number for you, not your phone number. I had 10 responses back: most were re-commitments to vote Democratic and a few were “hell no, I’m Republican.” I heartily thanked the former and just thanked the latter for their time. I texted the responses sitting in the back row of the large meeting room, and don’t think anyone even noticed.

The whole experience could not have been simpler or more satisfying. I felt I was doing something concrete, and it helped that I have a strong connection to Virginia. Overall, I probably only “worked” 30 minutes in the two-hour shift. I could have been doing it at a pub with a pint.

If you’re looking for an easy action with big impact, this is it.

– By Ted Lam

Senate 2018 Race – Discuss!

At the October IEB All Member Meeting, members participated in a respectful and productive opening discussion about the 2018 Senate race. After folks called out issues important to them we all voted for our top three choices. Not surprisingly, people shared overwhelming concerns about healthcare, immigration, and voting rights.IEB AMM Senate DiscussionAmelia Cass, IEB’s Member of Congress lead and Senator Feinstein expert gave a synopsis of Feinstein’s positions on the top issues, and invited the audience to contribute their thoughts about California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Léon and other candidates.

Healthcare:

Senator Feinstein has said she favors universal healthcare, but has demurred on single payer, saying she’s not yet ready to commit. At a recent meeting with Senator Feinstein’s staff, IEB learned that implementation (funding, rollout, and transition to) of a single payer system is one of the problems preventing her endorsement, and that she has not yet seen a reasonable, feasible plan that would get California where it needs to go toward a fair healthcare system. In contrast, Kevin de Léon has stated that he supports CA healthcare for all, and in a tweet said that California should have two senators behind Health Care For All. Another candidate for the Senate seat, David Hildebrand, is a Democratic Socialist and self-described “Berniecrat” who is solidly behind single payer. At present, so early in the race, little is known about the other candidates.

One IEB member stated that “if you want single payer or medical care for all, young people need to be involved to create the economics to drive it forward.” Sharing her experience working on the California healthcare bill, another member described how difficult it was to balance moving forward on a bill and being able to explain everything that is going to happen with it.

Immigration:

The son of a single immigrant mother, Kevin de Léon was an author of SB 54, the California Sanctuary State bill. The bill went through several iterations before Governor Brown signed it, which some advocates believe severely weakened the bill.

Senator Feinstein has spoken out strongly in favor of the DREAM Act and other pro-immigration bills; however, she has hinted that she might accept additional border security measures and some are concerned that she might compromise more than may be necessary.

IEB Governance Committee member Katie added that if the final DREAM Act includes other legislation, it may be worth considering how Senator Feinstein votes, if not for a “clean DREAM Act” for which most immigrants’ rights groups have advocated. Candidates should be explicit in what they will and won’t accept. In contrast, Senator Kamala Harris has stated she won’t support any end-of-year spending package without a clean DREAM Act.

Members suggested that further discussions could separate immigration into two issues: comprehensive reform and a path to citizenship. Senators Harris and Feinstein have offered legislation that would protect undocumented farmworkers in California from deportation and create a path to citizenship.

Voting rights/gerrymandering:

Interestingly, California is one of the few states which has an independent, non-partisan commission draw its district lines, instituted by ballot proposition in 2011. At the national level, after the Supreme Court curtailed the federal Voting Rights Act, a critical tool to prevent discriminatory voting practices, several states have created serious obstacles to voting, including voter ID and registration restrictions, cutbacks on early voting, closing polling places in minority neighborhoods, and more. A member suggested examining the candidates’ opinions on the districting commission.

This was the first of what we’re sure will be several conversations about the 2018 Senate race. Future discussions will examine the remaining issues suggested during the meeting.

Votes for each suggested issue:

  1. Healthcare – 15
  2. Immigration – 15
  3. Voting rights/gerrymandering – 15
  4. Environment/climate change – 13
  5. Reproductive rights/women’s rights – 10
  6. Campaign donors/transparency – 10
  7. Judicial appointments – 8
  8. Public schools & charterization – 7
  9. Lobbying/corporate money – 5
  10. Racial justice – 5
  11. Impeachment – 5
  12. Criminal Justice – 3
  13. Labor – 3
  14. Second amendment – 2
  15. LGBTQIA+ rights – 2
  16. Accessibility to elected officials – 1
  17. Minimum wage – 1
  18. Disability rights – 1