ISO Happy Ending: Comment by 10/31 on Emissions Standards for Power Plants

Once upon a time, there was an administration that protected its people from dangerous modern fire-breathing dragons. Then in August 2018, the big bad wolf-ogre-gremlin-current administration announced plans to undo Obama rules limiting harmful emissions from fossil fuel power plants. The plot: to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, and put in its place a wicked changeling, a watered down alternative dubbed the Affordable Clean Energy rule.

But as in all good stories, there’s time for a dramatic rescue! The law requires that the public can comment on this proposed change until Oct 31, 2018.

How to comment

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will accept comment on the proposed Affordable Clean Energy rule through October 31, 2018.  Comments should be identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0355 and may be submitted by one of the following methods.

Some things you can say in your comments:

  • The bottom line: oppose repealing the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and replacing it with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, because it’s imperative to reduce fossil fuel emissions and the ACE is much weaker than the CPP.
  • EPA evidence in the record shows the CPP would prevent 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 1,700 heart attacks each year
  • The EPA’s own calculations show that the proposed ACE would result in an additional 1,400 deaths and 48,000 new asthma attacks yearly compared to the CPP
  • Under the CPP the federal government sets emission targets for states, but the ACE allows states to set the targets themselves, which promotes a “race to the bottom”
  • The goal of the CPP (backed by evidence in EPA’s regulatory record) was to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 32% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The EPA’s own calculations indicate the proposed ACE would only reduce emissions by somewhere between 0.7 and 1.5%
  • EPA’s proposed ACE uses deceptive accounting gimmicks to artificially inflate the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to minimize the health benefits of the original CPP. This means its cost-benefit analysis is flawed and unreliable
  • The Regulatory Impact Analysis shows that under every illustrative scenario EPA analyzed, the ACE would result in more CO2, SO2, and NOx than the CPP
  • The EPA’s analysis radically under-counts the deaths, illnesses, and climate damages from power plants’ soot, smog, and carbon pollution. This is contrary to sound science and economics
  • The ACE proposal drastically undercounts the real costs of climate pollution for all Americans by ignoring global impacts. Climate pollution has worldwide impacts, but the proposal counts only those impacts that are expected to occur within U.S. borders.
  • The EPA’s own estimates show that, compared to the Clean Power Plan, the ACE plan would impose up to $10.8 billion in annual net costs on Americans in 2030, when accounting for compliance costs and the loss of the CPP’s benefits for climate and public health. By contrast, the CPP was designed to save consumers hard-earned money on electric bills
  • We cannot afford further delay in confronting the threat of climate change by repealing the CPP and replacing it with the much weaker ACE. Even the current administration’s reports contain overwhelming evidence that we need to cut fossil fuel emissions, including:
    • The 11/17 Climate Science Special Report – the combined work of 13 federal agencies including the EPA – which contains overwhelming evidence that human-generated carbon emissions are the dominant cause of global warming with all of its effects on the U.S. and the world, including floods, heat waves, rising sea levels, hurricanes and storms
    • The 8/18 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about federal fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks showing that with our present rate of greenhouse gas emissions, the planet is expected to experience a disastrous warming of 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century

More info:

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was adopted by the Obama Administration in 2015.  Under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is legally obligated to regulate carbon dioxide from major sources in the United States. That’s why, in 2015, the EPA released its first standard aimed at cutting carbon emissions from power plants, known as the “Clean Power Plan.” The power sector is second only to the transportation sector as a source of emissions in the US.

The CPP aimed to cut emissions from the electricity sector by an estimated 32% below 2005 levels by 2030—a modest but important first step.  Cost-benefit analysis consistently showed a net economic gain from the CPP. It was adopted after a robust, years-long regulatory process in which the EPA held numerous hearings and received millions of comments.

The Trump Administration was hostile to the CPP from the beginning and solicitous of the coal industry and fossil fuel sectors generally. Trump directed the EPA to begin the process of repealing the CPP and replacing it with what EPA dubbed the “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) rule. That regulatory process is now pending and, as required by federal law, EPA is now accepting public comments on this proposed repeal and replace. The deadline for commenting on the proposed ACE is October 31, 2018.

Vote early, Vote often (every election, that is!)

Action deadline: Time’s nearly up! California election dates you need to know:

Early voting has started in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Check with your county for deadlines, locations, and specific guidelines — generally you can vote early in person, or by filling out a ballot and dropping it off at a designated site.

Did you forget to register to vote, or did you move and forget to re-register? Little-known fact: you can still register and vote conditionally at your county elections office, or at certain other locations up through Election Day.

Voter registration 101: 

  • Are you eligible to vote, but not registered? Pick up a paper application, fill it out and put it in the mail – no postage required! You can find a paper application at lots of places, including:
    • county elections offices
    • the DMV
    • government offices
    • post offices
    • public libraries
  • Do you want to register online? If so, you’ll need:
    • your California driver license or I.D. card number,
    • the last four digits of your social security number, and
    • your date of birth.

    Your info will be provided to CA Department of Motor Vehicles to retrieve a copy of your DMV signature. Don’t have one of those I.D.s, or have other questions? See more at the CA Secretary of State’s Election Division FAQ or contact them at 800-345-VOTE (8683) or by email.

  • Is your registration accurate? Check! Many voter registrations have errors – check yours. If you registered recently at the DMV, many of those were botched, so CHECK!
  • Do you need to re-register? Check here, and if you need to, please re-register. These are some (not all) of the reasons you must re-register to vote:
    • you moved since you last registered
    • you legally changed your name since you last registered
    • you want to change your political party
Learn more:
  • California voter hotlines: the Secretary of State’s office provides voting-related materials and assistance in ten languages. Call one of the toll-free hotlines for answers to your questions about voting and elections, or to request mail delivery of a voter registration form, vote-by-mail application, or the Official Voter Information Guide.
  • Read our earlier article, with information about your county’s election processes, pre-registering 16- and 17-year olds, voting for previously incarcerated people, and much more
  • See Vote.org’s California Election Center. Sign up for election reminders.
  • See the Voter’s Edge guide (a partnership of the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund’s Smart Voter and MapLight. It includes in-depth info about what’s on your ballot, and much more.

Send this info to your family and friends in states other than California:

  • Vote.org offers lots of information, and it’s easy to remember (it requires you to provide an email address).
  • Indivisible has partnered with TurboVote to help you sign up to get election reminders, register to vote, apply for your absentee ballot, and more
  • The National Association of Secretaries of States’ website helps eligible voters figure out how and where to vote

Want to do more?

There’s no crying in canvassing

Deadline: ASAP and through November 6, 2018

Yep, last week sucked. And now we have the Honorable* justice** Kavanaugh. But there’s no crying in baseball, don’t give up at halftime, take a breath and come back out swinging. If you’ve ever said you’d contribute some day — that day is TODAY. The task is clear: we need to get control of at least one house of Congress on November 6. It’s time for EVERYONE to step up to canvass, phone, text, postcard, donate . . . all of the above . . . today and every day through November 6!

Here’s just some of what Indivisible East Bay members and friends, heroes all, did last week:

Canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox:

IEB members Fiona and Carl, and CA-11 team co-lead Ted canvassed with SwingLeft in Sanger for TJ Cox, who’s running for Congress in CA-21. Read their report here. TJ is a charismatic and progressive Democrat running against incumbent Republican David Valadao. By day’s end, the entire group had knocked on 710 doors and had 174 targeted conversations, got 21 pledge cards and two vote-by-mail forms filled out, ending up with a 24% contact rate! The IEB trio even got three people to put up TJ Cox yard signs in very noticeable locations! 

IEB canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox
Carl, Fiona and Ted canvassing in CA-21 for TJ Cox – that’s TJ between Ted and Fiona!

 

Phone banking AND postcarding at Red-to-Blue HQ:

Double duty in Dublin! CA-15 Team co-lead LeAnn reports that it was “sitting on the floor room only” at the IBEW Hall in Dublin, where close to 50 highly motivated progressives filled up two rooms and the hallway during back-to-back postcarding and phone banking events on October 6. The union hall is being made available by CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell and his staff to serve as the “Red-to-Blue” headquarters through the mid-term elections to organizations that want to help get out the vote in battleground districts across the country.

Postcarding in CA-15 on 100618, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky
Postcarding in CA-15, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky

We wrote 400 postcards in support of Jessica Morse, who’s challenging incumbent Rep. Tom McClintock in CA-4; the crowd was big enough that there was also an opportunity to write an additional 50 cards for Harley Rouda, running in CA-48 against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

Postcarding in CA-15, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky
Overflow crowd postcarding in CA-15, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky

Phone banking overlapped with the postcarding and carried on into the afternoon; several die-hards opted to participate in both! IEB Governance Committee members Nick, Linh, and Ward joined a host of others to phone bank for Jessica Morse or for Andrew Janz, who’s running against Devin Nunes in CA-22, or for Iowa candidates J.D. Scholten (IA-4) and Deidre DeJear (Secretary of State).

 

Phone banking for Arizona Democrats: 

Fifteen phone bankers gathered in Richmond, spreading out around the home and beautiful garden of CA-11 Team co-lead Kristen and phone bank superstar Tom.

Hammock phone banking! CA-11 member Tom calling AZ voters
Hammock phone-banking! CA-11 member Tom calling AZ voters

A lot of new people were trained to use Hubdialer and quickly got to work talking to Arizonans, helping identify supporters of Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema and down-ticket Dems, and hitting the phone bank jackpot once in a while to sign up a volunteer. When we were using the system we did an average of 1,500 dials and had a 20% contact rate. Our partners, the AZ Democratic Party, would love to get more folks involved in calling to Arizona. Sign up here or email tpagan@azdem.org

George phone banking to AZ, with an assist from Henry the Indivisi-bulldog
George phone banking to AZ, with an assist from Henry the Indivisi-bulldog

 

Phone banking in Oakland for Issue Voters of Northern Nevada:

An enthusiastic crowd of 25 gathered at former CA-13 team lead Janine’s in Rockridge to call into areas around Reno. IEB phone bankers had whipped through the original database of Non-Partisan Voters in Reno and we were now able to expand to areas that our partner organization, Issue Voters of Northern Nevada, hadn’t expected to reach. Callers were able to either congregate (sometimes good for morale after a difficult or successful call) or spread out into more quiet areas. We called in the neighborhood of 1,200 households and reached the usual one in ten, or around 120 people. Our work making calls helps IVNN’s canvassing: they can target people we identify as “persuadables” who are still making up their minds, rather than knocking on every door, and canvassers will also be aware in advance of voters’ top issues that will motivate them to go to the polls.

Phone banking in Oakland, photo by Toni Henle
Phone banking in Oakland, photo by Toni Henle

 

Writing postcards to low-turnout Nevada voters:

And more help for Nevada! More than 30 IEB members and friends at our postcard party in El Cerrito wrote more than 350 postcards to a carefully targeted list of voters registered as “non-partisan” who didn’t vote in 2016. Scripts created by Issue Voters of Northern Nevada politely but firmly urged the addressees to vote, including: “If we don’t vote, we can’t complain. Make sure your voice is heard this year: VOTE!”

Postcard party to NV voters, photo by Heidi Rand
Postcard party writing to Nevada voters, photo by Heidi Rand

The party started shortly after the Kava-nauseous vote occurred, and we were all grateful to be among kindred souls taking direct action to fight back. Almost double the number of RSVPs showed up and IEB’s outreach team co-lead Toni worked miracles to provide more addresses to the eager writers.

 

Here’s what you can do in the days ahead:

Canvassing and phone banking are the top two most effective ways to contact voters and make the Blue Wave happen. We need your help!

  • Find IEB phone banks and canvassing trips and sign up at out our “Volunteer to Flip the G-D- Congress” list & calendar, also easily accessible on our home page
  • Sign up to get our weekly list of phone banks and canvassing trips
  • Check out opportunities to canvass, phone or text bank, write postcards, and more, with these great organizations IEB works in coalition with:
  • Join Indivisible Berkeley in phoning Nevada voters from home to help flip the critical NV Senate seat. Info & sign up here. Check out other IB events too.
  • See the East Bay for TJ Cox events calendar to support the CA-21 congressional candidate.
  • Canvass in CA-21 with Swing Left East Bay. Check upcoming events and sign up here.
  • Knock on doors to help flip CA-10 for Josh Harder. Info & sign up here.
  • Swing Left Contra Costa hosts monthly voter registration in Tracy (CA-10) on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Check their event calendar.
  • Canvass with Working America AFL-CIO in CA-10 (Modesto) and CA-21 (San Joaquin Valley). You’ll get excellent training and can then sign up for volunteer shifts.
  • Can’t canvass yourself? Donate to support one of the great groups listed above. You can even sponsor a canvasser in CA-21 by donating to Valley Forward, which helps employ people living in the district.

 

* Your results may vary.

** oh please.

Canvassing with Very Cool People in Sanger

By Ted Lam, Fiona Woods, and Carl Mason

Six hours of driving and six hours of canvassing? Yes! And it was even more fun than we expected. We left Oakland before 5 AM on Saturday October 6, heading south toward Sanger, CA. Bagels, coffee, and great conversation made for a delightful three hour drive.  A millennial, a Gen Xer, and a baby boomer cruising toward the sunrise; intensely agreeing on politics while sharing music, pop culture, and social science insights.

Almost before we knew it we’d arrived in Sanger. While SwingLeft’s cheerful and super efficient organizers Stacey, Sharon and Norberto were giving us a quick update and walk through of the Political Data Inc. (PDI) app, who should show up but TJ Cox, the candidate we were there to canvass for! He spoke with us briefly and told us why he’s running for Congress: to help this neglected district get the attention and resources it deserves. CA-21 has a high poverty rate with many residents on Medicaid. TJ was especially proud that a foundation he started has built health clinics all over the valley, including the United Health Clinic in Sanger.  When we were out canvassing, many of the people we talked to were surprised and moved to find out that TJ was the force behind the Clinic’s creation.

IEB canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox
Carl, Fiona and Ted canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox (that’s TJ between Ted and Fiona)

You’d be shocked (not really!) to learn that David Valadao, the incumbent Republican Member of Congress against whom TJ is running, has voted with 45 over 98% of the time. Valadao has consistently voted against his district’s interests, including voting against the ACA, voting for cuts to Medicare, and failing to follow through with the discharge petition to protect DREAMers.

The three of us canvassed together from 9 AM to 3 in the afternoon, talking mainly to Democrats and to those who “declined to state” a preference on their voter registration. That’s because at this point in the election cycle, it’s much more about getting out the vote than persuading people to change their preference. While it was jarring to meet so many people who professed to have no knowledge of the election, it also felt productive. Nearly everyone was friendly and talking about TJ was easy. Perhaps we’re being overly optimistic, but we feel confident that we made a difference — that at least some of the people we spoke with will turn up at the polls because of us.

Lunch break! Ted, Carl and Fiona canvassing for TJ Cox in Sanger
Lunch break! Ted, Carl and Fiona canvassing for TJ Cox in Sanger

After lunch, the canvassing went a bit slower — not only because we were hauling around bellies full of excellent Mexican food, but because fewer people were home (or willing to answer the door). We left campaign literature with personalized post-it notes at every house. By day’s end, SwingLeft canvassers had knocked on 710 doors and had 174 targeted conversations — plus many more contacts with potential voters. Our trio even got three people to put up TJ Cox yard signs in very noticeable locations!

IEB canvasses for TJ Cox in Sanger, photo by Ted Lam
So inspiring when we spotted lawn signs for TJ Cox! Photo by Ted Lam

As the temperature approached 80 degrees (still unusually cool in the Valley), we wrapped it up, debriefed with the SwingLeft team, and headed for home. The drive back was even better than the drive out: after several weeks of the excruciating-to-watch Kavanaugh hearings, the satisfaction of having done something positive was cathartic.

You can make a difference too!

Can’t get out to canvass yourself? Donate to support one of the great groups listed above. You can even sponsor a canvasser in CA-21 by donating to Valley Forward, which helps employ people living in the district.

Read Ted’s recent article about why he spends his time canvassing, and his article about canvassing for TJ Cox in Mendota before the primary.

Desert Shame

This action appeared in the Indivisible East Bay newsletter on October 4, 2018.

Subscribe to the newsletter. See our newsletter archives.

Deadline: right now and ongoing – They gave the kids snacks, and that’s damn near all. They woke them in the middle of the night, put them on buses with backpacks, took them to tent jails in the West Texas desert. There are: no schools, not much legal representation or mental health services — it’s an emergency facility, doesn’t have to meet child welfare standards. The government says the kids won’t be there long, they’ll go to sponsor homes soon. We’ve heard that lie before!

Our Senators tell us calls on this national disgrace have fallen off while people call about Kavanaugh (we must multi-call!) Meanwhile, a ray of hope: a brand-new bill in the House of Representatives to prohibit ICE from arresting undocumented immigrants who offer to sponsor kids to get them out of baby jail. Tell your members of Congress: you want them to raise hell over kids in tent jails and you want them to support the “Prevent CHILD Harm Act of 2018.” Yes, even our good guys in DC need to hear from you. And the kids surely need help, ASAP.

What to say:

My name is ______________, my zip code is ____________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m ashamed that this country is jailing immigrant children in tents in the desert without even pretending that they’re trying to meet child welfare standards. I want to thank [Senator or Representative] _____________ for fighting against the administration’s attacks against immigrant children and families. Please fight against putting kids in tent jails and put an end to this disgrace! [For members of the House of Representatives: And I want to ask _____________ to cosponsor the “Prevent CHILD Harm Act of 2018.”]

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

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

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095

Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661

Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

 

9/27/18 IEB & ISF Sen Feinstein office visit

Seventeen Indivisibles from IEB and Indivisible San Francisco met with Sean Elsbernd, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s state director, on September 27 at her San Francisco office. Our almost two-hour meeting was jam-packed with questions and “asks.”

First on the agenda: a detailed back and forth on how the homeless count in San Francisco is conducted. It was further emphasized that more resources were needed to help the homeless, from outreach to affordable housing. Sean seemed particularly concerned about the estimate that 2,400 kids may be homeless.

For those of you not placing the date, September 27 was the day Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh testified in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Of course, the hearings came up, and we stressed – as we have consistently done – that we are firmly against Kavanaugh being confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. The group urged Senator Feinstein to continue what she’s doing and to look as well for other methods to stop his confirmation.

On a not-necessarily-unrelated note, the topic of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act came up. Sean thinks that Congress will just extend the Act, at least for the short term.

Sean told us that on the important issue of immigrant family separation, their office is not getting phone calls, and that it’s crucial for people to keep this issue alive by contacting the Senator. He did acknowledge that the Kavanaugh hearings have diverted attention – but we should look for any opportunity to revive the issue.

Sean said that the House is expected to head home for campaigning and won’t be back until after the midterms, so don’t expect any legislation to pass that needs both chambers to act on.

We also talked about protecting the Mueller Trump-Russia investigation, election security, digital privacy, environmental/public health, the war in Yemen, the Farm Bill, workers’ rights, the federal judiciary, tax policy, trade, criminal justice reform, and having a town hall. Sean’s comments on each of those topics were informative and indicated the Senator’s position. As an example, the Farm Bill is in conference and the final version will have to be acceptable to 60 Senators regardless of what the House passed. Another insight: White House Counsel Don McGahn’s imminent departure will force the Administration and Senate Republicans to start from scratch on judicial nominations and will give Senate Democrats a bit of breathing room.

As of November 7, Sean will be the chief of staff for San Francisco Mayor London Breed. As of now, Senator Feinstein has not selected his replacement but he’s hoping that will be resolved shortly. The general feeling from the Indivisible folks was that Sean will be missed.

Read our memo to the Senator.

 

A Rosenstein red line?

When last we met for a Trump-Russia investigation update, we were concerned that the August 21, 2018 convictions of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen had shoved us closer to the precipice of a constitutional crisis.

Well, a month later it feels like we’re dangling by our fingertips. Breaking news on September 24 about Rod Rosenstein’s status as deputy Attorney General included conflicting accounts on whether he was planning to resign, had been fired, or remained in his post as Robert Mueller’s boss on the investigation. The White House eventually said that Rosenstein still had a job, but would meet with the Current Occupant on Thursday, September 27.

Because as of now Rosenstein has not been fired, the Nobody Is Above the Law network has NOT triggered the rapid-response plan. Indivisible National’s updated article makes an additional point that the administration is sowing chaos to distract from the ongoing fight over the Supreme Court, and until we have news that Rosenstein has been fired, we must focus on supporting the brave survivors coming forward to tell their stories and fight to keep Brett Kavanaugh from getting confirmed.

These are “red lines” issued by MoveOn, Indivisible, and many other groups, meaning that any of the following will trigger mass protest:

  • If Trump fires Mueller or Rosenstein
  • If Trump pardons key witnesses
  • If Trump takes another action that prevents the investigation from being conducted freely, such as replacing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller’s current supervisor or repealing the regulations establishing the office
  • Additional red line added on Sept. 24: The Mueller investigation releases findings showing significant wrongdoing by Donald Trump. Or Congress or the administration blocks the public from seeing Mueller’s findings.

What you can do now:

Contact your Members of Congress! See our article for a historical overview of the bills introduced to protect the investigation, none of which have progressed.

  • Call your Senators and ask them to:
    • Demand a vote on, and to support the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act (S. 2644) to protect Mueller and the Russia investigation.
    • Protect the special counsel’s office, including preserving its files and staff and ensuring it receives the full cooperation of all federal government law enforcement assets.
    • Demand the creation of a modern-day version of the Senate Select Watergate Committee to investigate all matters involved in the Russia scandals and Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of justice
  • Call your Representative and ask him or her to do all they can to pass legislation to protect the Special Counsel and the investigation, and to call for bipartisan hearings in the House Judiciary Committee on obstruction of justice and abuse of power

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

And prepare if we need to hit the streets:

  • Read the ACLU’s article Know Your Rights: Free Speech, Protests & Demonstrations
  • Download the ACLU’s Mobile Justice app to record police activity and send it immediately to the ACLU affiliate nearest you. Get the California app, MobileJusticeCA
  • Put the National Lawyers Guild hotline numbers into your phone, and write them on your arm in ink:
    • to call from local jails ONLY: 415-285-1011
    • outside of jail calls, call NLG hotline volunteers: 415-909-4NLG (4654)
    • if no answer, send an email to the NLG Demonstrations Committee at nlgsfhotline@protonmail.com
  • Get your go-bag together:
    • charged cell phone and portable power if you have
    • water bottle and energy bars or other portable food
    • medications you may need
    • layers of clothing to add if it gets cold
    • a sign with your message

 

IEB’s September meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s staff

By Candace Goldman

On September 5, a group of Indivisible East Bay members met with Sean Elsbernd (Senator Dianne Feinstein’s current State Director) and Abby Ellis (the Senator’s Field Representative). FYI, Sean will be joining the office of Mayor London Breed in San Francisco after the mid-term elections; we wish him well.

The main focus of the meeting was Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. As the ranking Democratic member on the Judiciary Committee, the Senator has been spending most of her time on this, actively working to obtain better background information from the National Archives and engage in more intense questioning of the nominee, as well as corralling the troops in opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Senator McConnell recently dumped over 42,000 documents for review but refused a reasonable extension of time on the hearings to allow for a proper review of the documents. As we have seen this past week, Senator Feinstein has been working hard on the new sexual assault charges that have come to light. The Senator has additionally focused on issues such as the nominee’s view of “settled law” and the immunities and prerogatives granted the President. She continues to make efforts to to push the vote back and to shed more light on the negative aspects of the nominee. However, the Senator is hampered by the limited procedural steps that can be taken and by the fact that the Republican committee majority, under hardliner McConnell, can force the process.

Regarding other GOP-backed judicial nominees, we particularly noted the federal court nominations of Jonathan Kobes, Stephen Clark, and Carl Nichols, all of whom have shown bias in relation to women’s rights — as well as on other civil rights issues (such as warrantless searches). We believe their backgrounds make them weak candidates. We encouraged the Senator to continue opposing these candidates and to work with Senator Harris and others to stop these nominations from going forward. We were advised that the Senator was working to ensure additional oversight hearings, including having Jeff Sessions address the Judiciary Committee.

We suggested bringing a writ of mandate suit to force the Republicans to adhere to the Judiciary Committee’s own rules, a tactic that could be used in other settings as well, such as immigration proceedings.

Some other issues we raised at the meeting:

Immigration

The Senator has staff visiting detention centers, particularly in El Centro and near Victorville, to work on the issues of family separation and claims of sexual abuse. They are seeing some progress and continue to work on these issues. Regarding passport denials for people born near the border, the Senator’s office is doing direct casework on this problem for constituents.

We noted the problem with bank account denials as well. Sean was not aware of this and said he would bring this to the Senator’s attention. We agreed to send information to the office on this issue.

Foreign Affairs

The Senator is not on the Foreign Affairs Committee, but she is working against efforts to stop aid to Palestine. Regarding the efforts of Erik Prince to use private forces in Afghanistan, the Senator’s office didn’t have much information on this; we encouraged her to do what she can against such a contract in the Defense Appropriations Committee.

National Security

We thanked the Senator for her support of S-2047, Preventing War in North Korea Act of 2017. Sean responded that the Senator was definitely in favor of careful diplomacy on this and other critical issues.

Opioids and Marijuana

Attendees shared personal experiences with and information about medicinal marijuana and encouraged Senator Feinstein to reconsider her more conservative position on drugs, especially regarding support for recovery programs rather than jail. 

Election Security

Regarding S-2593, Secure Elections Act, which was pulled from hearing by Rules Committee chair Roy Blunt, we encouraged the Senator to continue her efforts to get it reset for a hearing and to actually strengthen the bill. We suggested inserting the bill’s provisions in the homeland security funding. Sean thought that strategy might be a good approach. We agreed to send the February 2018 report on state election security to him for the Senator’s attention.

Farm Bill

We encouraged the Senator to vote against any reduction in SNAP and imposition of work requirements in the Farm Bill. Sean indicated that Senator Feinstein supports SNAP but the bill is a lower priority right now as the Senate is generally better on these issues than the House.

Puerto Rico

We urged support of the Resilient Energy Infrastructure bill to aid the recovery in Puerto Rico. Regarding this issue, Sean suggested we also reach out to Senator Bill Nelson from Florida.

Lobby visit to Senator Feinstein's office, 9/5/18, photo by Toby St. John
Sean Elsbernd, Senator Feinstein’s State Director. Photo by Toby St. John

It was a congenial meeting and the staff was quite responsive to our questions and ideas. One exception: the ongoing request for a town hall meeting seems to be falling on deaf ears — not necessarily from the staff, but from the Senator herself.

Click here to read the Indivisible East Bay memo for the meeting.

IEB meeting with Senator Feinstein staff, Candace Goldman. Photo by Toby St. John
IEB meeting with Senator Feinstein staff, Candace Goldman. Photo by Toby St. John

Photos by Toby St. John

 

Canvassing: a win-win for you and the candidates

By Ted Lam

I confess. I’m obsessed with following the forecasts for the November 6 midterm elections. For the past several months I’ve been regularly checking FiveThirtyEight’s “2018 House Forecast” and “Who Is Winning the Race for Congress” poll results — sometimes as often as two or three times a minute just to make sure I have the latest results. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I immediately reach for my phone to check the latest news and FiveThirtyEight.com’s forecasts.

Why do I do this? Because the outcome is so consequential. When November 7 arrives, the last thing I want is to have that sinking feeling I had in 2016. But I also realize that just checking the latest forecasts, no matter how often I do it, is not enough. I need to do something more. Every day I wonder how I can best make a difference between now and November 6 — something that may help me sleep a little better at night. For me, the answer is: canvassing.

That’s why I’ve registered to canvass on October 6 in Sanger in support of TJ Cox, running for Congress in District 21. TJ is a charismatic and progressive Democrat running against incumbent Republican David Valadao.

Last March, I joined a few other IEB’ers on a weekend trip to canvass for TJ in Mendota. It was an enriching experience. During our initial training, TJ himself showed up to give us a pep talk. When we finally set out to canvass we were joined by close to 30 volunteers, mostly from the Bay Area. 

Most Mendota residents work in the local agricultural industry. It’s a close-knit community that cares very much about family. As I walked around with my canvassing partner Rae, we were struck by how warm and friendly everyone was. We also noticed that many of garages were open, being cleaned and decorated with balloons. From making small talk, we learned that these parents were using the garages to host birthday parties for their children.

On the canvassing trail, we knocked on doors to verify who lived there. We read the script from our smartphones. After being initially reluctant (and possibly suspicious), the residents opened up to us. Most didn’t know who TJ Cox was. After we explained his positions, the vast majority expressed willingness to vote for him.

My memories of that weekend in Mendota are images of shy smiles from the very old to the very young, an invitation from a family to come back to enjoy homemade tamales during the Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and of people who work hard and want opportunities for their children. These are good memories of a successful week-end of canvassing.

Join me on October 6 in Sanger and you can have that same positive experience while helping get a worthy progressive elected. Want to carpool? Email  me at indivisibleca11@gmail.com. I’m known for finding good food wherever I travel so you can look forward to a delicious lunch experience on Sunday, like this excellent Mexican restaurant we discovered in Mendota. 

Canvassing in Mendota

Canvassing and phone banking are the top two most effective ways to contact voters and make the Blue Wave happen. We need your help! What you can do:

  • Find IEB phone banks and canvassing trips and sign up at out our new “Volunteer to Flip the G-D- Congress” list & calendar. Also easily accessible on our home page
  • Sign up to get our weekly list of phone banks and canvassing trips
  • Learn the who, what, and why of canvassing and phone banking at our September 30 All Member Meeting at Sports Basement, Berkeley, from 1-3 PM. Hear from experts and sign up to help. We’ll also have demonstrations to demystify and show you how! Come, bring friends and spread the word. RSVP and details here.
  • Check out opportunities to canvass, phone or text bank, write postcards, and more, with these great organizations IEB works in coalition with: 
  • Join Indivisible Berkeley in phoning Nevada voters from home to help flip the critical NV Senate seat. Info & sign up here. Check out other IB events too.
  • See the East Bay for TJ Cox events calendar to support the CA-21 congressional candidate.
  • Canvass in CA-21 with Swing Left East Bay. Check upcoming events and sign up here.
  • Knock on doors to help flip CA-10 for Josh Harder. Info & sign up here.
  • Swing Left Contra Costa hosts monthly voter registration in Tracy (CA-10) on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Check their event calendar.
  • Canvass with Working America AFL-CIO in CA-10 (Modesto) and CA-21 (San Joaquin Valley). You’ll get excellent training and can then sign up for volunteer shifts.
  • Can’t canvass yourself? Donate to support one of the great groups listed above. You can even sponsor a canvasser in CA-21 by donating to Valley Forward, which helps employ people living in the district.

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer.

 

Red to Blue HQ grand opening

By Ward Kanowsky

Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) hosted the grand opening of the “Red-to-Blue” headquarters at the IBEW Union Hall in Dublin, California on September 15, 2018.  The Hall is being made available through the mid-term elections to organizations who want to help GOTV (Get Out the Vote) through activities like phone banking and postcarding in battleground districts across the country.

At the grand opening, an overflow crowd had the option to phone bank in support of Jessica Morse, who is running against incumbent Tom McClintock in CA-4, or Colin Allred in Texas, or J.D. Scholten in Iowa. These were three of the “Future 40 Candidates” highlighted by Rep. Swalwell, a group of young, diverse candidates spread out across the country.

Future 40 Candidates

Indivisible East Bay has signed up to take advantage of the use of the Hall, with both postcarding and phone banking events planned on Saturday, October 6. More info and RSVP here. Hope to see you there!

Can’t make it, or want to find out other opportunities to help win back the House and Senate at the mid-terms? Check out our calendar!

Photographs by Ward Kanowsky. 

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