April $hower$ Can Make it Rain

Thanks to the support of volunteers like you, Indivisibles across the country worked tirelessly to take back the House last November. This has allowed Democrats to use their new power in the majority to investigate the Trump administration’s corruption and push back on his racist border wall, all while advocating for democracy reform, a Green New Deal, protection for Dreamers and TPS recipients, and much more.

We run a lean Democracy machine here at Indivisible East Bay! We hold our meetings in free or low cost locations (shout-out to Sports Basement, the Finnish Hall, and Local Union 595), and we try to keep our postcard parties and other events economically accessible to all. But sometimes there are activities that are worth an investment —whether it’s tabling at a march or buying poster board, paints, and pens. So, every now and then we ask for a little help from our friends, to keep the pressure on, to continue to organize, build power, and fight back in 2019!

We’ve set a goal to raise $500 this month for upcoming actions, and Indivisible National has offered to match this goal, dollar for dollar — but only for support received in April. Help us reach our goal and meet this matching challenge by chipping in $20.19 (or an other amount) — your gift will go twice as far if you give today!

Here’s the link to make your donation — and thank you!

Your contribution will be directed to us through Indivisible Project, a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, which are not deductible for federal income tax purposes as charitable contributions.

Photo of Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting by Heidi Rand

Training Ambassadors for Schools & Communities Act

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By Toni Henle

The 2020 election isn’t only about getting Greed-Personified-in-Chief out of the White House. Also on the ballot in November 2020: the Schools and Communities First Act (SCF) a ballot initiative that would reclaim $11 billion every year for schools and local communities by a closing a California corporate property tax loophole that benefits wealthy corporations and investors.

Indivisible East Bay members have worked on SCF since the process of qualifying the initiative for the ballot; you can read our earlier articles here and here. From now until November 2020, the campaign shifts to the public outreach, education and mobilization phases, and on March 30 a crowd of 100 enthusiastic supporters packed a training on the ins and outs of this grassroots citizen effort to close the corporate property tax loophole.

What is Schools and Communities First?

A little background: in 1978, California voters approved Proposition 13, which froze property taxes of both homeowners and corporations at 1975 levels. Few other states in the country have frozen commercial property tax rates. Most states reassess commercial property every one to five years. Under Prop 13, property is reassessed only when it’s sold, and taxes are adjusted based on fair market value. Prop 13 has allowed enormous corporations – like Disney, Chevron, WalMart and Shell – to pay taxes at 1975 rates. Chevron alone is saving over $100 million a year by benefiting from Prop 13’s corporate loophole. On the other hand, new businesses pay taxes at today’s rates, putting them at an obvious disadvantage. Before Prop 13, residential property accounted for 55 percent of the property tax and commercial property constituted 45 percent. Now the residential share is 72 percent of the tax burden while the commercial share is only 28 percent, according to an Evolve-CA fact sheet. One result is that California has slid from the top 10 states nationally in per-pupil funding to the bottom 10.

The Schools and Communities First initiative is on the ballot to correct this unfair situation. SCF would close the corporate tax loophole, so that large businesses (with property worth over $2 million) would be regularly assessed. The additional tax revenue, estimated at over 11 billion per year, would be distributed according to the current formula, about half to schools (K-12 and community colleges) and the other half to local bodies like cities, counties, and special districts, such as fire districts and water districts, that receive state tax revenues. Homeowners’ and renters’ taxes would be unaffected (although we anticipate a massive and misleading campaign by the corporations that benefit from Prop 13 that will imply otherwise!)

The excellent March 30 training, developed by Evolve-California, the League of Women Voters, Bay Rising, and other core sponsors of the initiative, covered the history, the facts, and the arguments for (and against) the initiative. Crucially, the training required attendees to develop the arguments that we’d present to different groups about why we support the initiative. We practiced our pitches in small groups, getting feedback from one another to help refine our messages. We also wrote our own plans for which groups we planned to speak to, and when. 

The SCF campaign needs all of us! Evolve will lead the grassroots organizing effort for this initiative in the Bay Area; the best way to get involved in this historic campaign is to sign up to volunteer at Evolve’s website, you’ll get updates on future trainings and organizing opportunities in our area.

 

Toni Henle is retired after a career in policy work at non-profits focused on workforce development. She is a member of the IEB Governance Committee, co-lead of Outreach to Organizations and a member of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

Photographs by Toni Henle

Release the full Mueller report

Deadline: ASAP and every day until the complete report is released –

Update Monday April 1: The national Trump Is Not Above the Law coalition is moving forward with the #ReleaseTheReport day of action on this April 4. If you haven’t already, find and RSVP to attend a Nobody Is Above the Law rapid response rally near you. You’ll get info and alerts if/when a response is called by your local organizers. 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller finished his report, which we finally learned is nearly 400 pages long, not including tables and appendices, but Congress still hasn’t seen the full report with underlying documentation, and neither have we! Attorney General William Barr’s March 24 four-page summary is a Cliffs Notes version that raises more questions than it answers.

Democrats are pushing hard for complete disclosure. Six lead House Democratic chairs of committees that are investigating 45 and his cronies for abuses of power gave Barr until April 2 to deliver the full Mueller Report to Congress. Barr told them on March 29 that he’ll miss that deadline, but expects to release a redacted public report by mid-April. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler is standing firm by the April 2 deadline. We didn’t fall for Barr’s first whitewash, and we won’t accept the Cover-up Attorney General’s scrubbed version — we stand with Chair Nadler and the Democrats: Congress must get the full Special Counsel’s report and all underlying investigatory evidence, and the public must see everything, with only very narrowly drawn redactions.

What to do:

  • Find and RSVP to attend a Nobody Is Above the Law rapid response rally near you. You’ll get info and alerts if/when a response is called
  • No local protest? Sign up to host one. And spread the word by sending the link to everyone you know
  • Tell your Members of Congress that we demand transparency and complete disclosure of the Special Counsel’s report and investigation. Every day that passes without the full truth, Individual-1 and his minions continue to use the self-serving Barr letter to target and try to silence the people who are speaking out and investigating him. Take action, and keep reading below the call to action for more info & background.

What to say:

My name is ______________, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank _________ for supporting disclosing the Special Counsel’s report to the American people. I want _______ to insist that Attorney General Barr immediately give the full Special Counsel’s report and all underlying investigatory materials to Congress. The full report and materials also have to be made public. I also want Congress to continue investigating Trump beyond the scope of the Mueller investigation.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • 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

 

For more info & background, and to learn what actions we’ve been taking for over a year, read our past articles:

Also, see Indivisible National’s updated webpage, and their informational article, and sign MoveOn’s Pledge to Mobilize.

Indivisible East Bay members and fellow activists got rousing honks and fists raised in solidarity from drivers at the March 27 El Cerrito Shows Up, where we waved signs and talked to passers-by about our demands that the full Special Counsel report be released to the public! If a rapid response event is called, we’ll meet at the same location. You can RSVP for the El Cerrito event here.

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Photos by Heidi Rand

Save our healthcare, save our lives

Deadline: Do it now! – Our healthcare is under attack by the GOP, again — or to be accurate — STILL!

In December 2018, the trial court in Texas v. US, a lawsuit brought in February 2018 by several states’ conservative Attorneys General, ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act is invalid. That’s bad, but it’s just a single trial court. The case is now on appeal to the powerful Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where on March 25, 2019 the Department of Justice agreed, urging the appeals court to strike down the entire ACA. That’s scary, but it gets worse: the DOJ’s reversal of its position was apparently taken over the objections of its own Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and those of Attorney General William Barr.

This is of course just the administration’s latest try to kill the ACA (and many many of us, along with it) — but it’s a doozy. As Indivisible National says:

This is the Trump administration’s clearest attempt yet, not just to sabotage, but to completely annihilate the ACA — and in doing so, unleash chaos on our health care system and on millions of Americans lives.

We’re pissed. And we know you are too.

→ It would jeopardize Medicaid expansion in 37 states.
→ It would end protections for preexisting conditions.
→ It would end coverage for young people who’d otherwise be able to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.
→ It would end required coverage of preventive care — like cancer screenings, vaccines, birth control, blood pressure tests and more.

And so, so much more.

You’ve fought for the ACA and sane healthcare policies before. It’s time to join the battle again!

What you can do:

  • Learn more about the legal case in Indivisible’s article
  • Thank California Attorney General Xavier Becerra – he’s one of the state AGs defending the ACA in Texas v. US, and he has announced that he and other AGs will appeal the district court’s ruling striking down the ACA to the Fifth Circuit.
    • Attorney General Xavier Becerra:  (email);  (800) 953-5335 [select English or Spanish, then press 0]
  • Thank your Representative for cosponsoring Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (WA-07) Medicare for All Act (H.R. 1384), and ask them to continue to speak out publicly and to do all they can to support the ACA and to reform our health care system to guarantee health care coverage for all. For more info about the Act, read Indivisible’s article
  • Thank Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris for speaking out, and ask them to continue to do all they can to support the ACA and to reform our health care system to guarantee health care coverage for all
  • Watch for a bill House Democrats unveiled on March 26, the Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions & Making Health Care More Affordable Act, which Leader Pelosi said “lowers health care insurance premiums, stops junk plans, strengthens protections for pre-existing conditions and reverses the GOP health care sabotage.” She also commented, about the DOJ’s position in the Texas v. US lawsuit: “.. . . [T]he Department of Justice becomes the Department of Injustice when it wants to tear down health care benefits.  Because as Dr. King said, ‘people could die’ – people could die.”

Call now!

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841; 1 Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco CA 94104
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553; 333 Bush Street, Suite 3225, San Francisco CA 94104
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095; 440 Civic Center Plaza, 2nd Floor, Richmond, CA 94804
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661; 1301 Clay Street #1000N, Oakland CA 94612
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065; 3615 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94546

We demand the truth

Deadline: ASAP –

See our latest article, updated on March 30

Update March 28: Special Counsel Robert Mueller completed his report, but Congress hasn’t seen the full report with underlying documentation yet and neither have we.  Attorney General William Barr delivered his supplemental letter, a highly truncated summary of the Special Counsel’s report on March 24, but the letter raises more questions than it answers. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer’s joint statement in response said, in part:

Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the Committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise. …  The American people have a right to know.

On March 26 the DOJ reported that Barr will make a “version” of the report public in weeks. We’re not buying it! We didn’t fall for Barr’s first whitewash, his four-page Cliffs Notes letter, and we won’t accept any “version” Trump’s Cover-up Attorney General is selling, other than the full Special Counsel’s report.

We have a right to know: we demand to see the full report, and all underlying investigatory materials not subject to legitimate privilege. Every day that passes without the full truth, Individual-1 and his minions will continue to use the self-serving Barr letter to target and try to silence the people who are speaking out and investigating him. Take action, and keep reading below the call to action for more info & background.

What you can do:

1. Tell your Members of Congress that we the people demand transparency and complete disclosure of the Special Counsel’s report and investigation. 

What to say:

My name is ______________, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank _________ for supporting disclosing the Special Counsel’s report to the American people. I want _______ to insist that Attorney General Barr immediately give the full Special Counsel’s report and all underlying investigatory materials to Congress. The full report and materials also have to be made public. I also want Congress to continue investigating Trump beyond the scope of the Mueller investigation.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • 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

2. What else you can do:

Even though the report is complete, there’s still a danger that we’ll need to mobilize. Some of the original red lines that would trigger a mass protest are still in place, and particularly important are these new ones added in September 2018:

[A protest would be set in motion if:] The Mueller investigation releases findings showing significant wrongdoing by Donald Trump. Or Congress or the administration blocks the public from seeing Mueller’s findings.

  • Find and RSVP to attend a Nobody Is Above the Law rapid response rally near you (900+ events are pre-registered in case a response is called). Attorney General William Barr has until Tuesday, April 2, to send the full Mueller Report to Congress. That’s the deadline set this week by six House committee chairs, after which they’ll consider Barr to be non-compliant and will issue a subpoena. We’ll know by the following morning, Wednesday, whether he has met that deadline or is refusing to make it public. If Barr misses the deadline to make the Mueller report public, shielding the Trump administration from public accountability, the Nobody Is Above the Law rapid-response network will likely be activated on Wednesday morning, calling for a national day of action the following day, THURSDAY, APRIL 4, at 5 p.m. local time.
  • No local rally? Sign up to host one. And spread the word by sending the link to everyone you know
  • Sign MoveOn’s Pledge to Mobilize
  • See Indivisible National’s updated webpage, and their informational article

 

More info & background:

On March 22, Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report on the Trump-Russia investigation to Attorney General William Barr. Barr has committed to transparency, but it’s up to us to make sure Barr forwards the complete, original Special Counsel’s report and all underlying investigatory documents to Congress. And after Congress receives the materials, they must be made public, with appropriate redactions for legitimate national security reasons.

Democrats are speaking out, and demanding full disclosure. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer put out a joint statement calling for Barr to make the full report public, and to provide the underlying documentation to Congress. Our Representatives had already voted for disclosure: on March 14, 2019 the House passed, by a vote of  420-0 (yes, that’s a ZERO), a resolution calling on the Department of Justice to make the special counsel’s findings and full report public and available to Congress. Our own CA-11 Representative Mark DeSaulnier led the debate on H. Con. Res 208. Our Senators both spoke out in favor of disclosure, but Republicans blocked a vote on the bill in the Senate.

In addition, shortly after news about the report hit, DeSaulnier posted a tweet, ” … The AG should send the report to Congress expeditiously & abide by Congressional intent to make the findings public. The American people deserve transparency & accountability.” And Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted: “Show us the report. Now. The American people spoke loudly, and clearly last November: we choose a balance of power over abuse of power.  Representative Barbara Lee also spoke out.

In an email statement, Senator Kamala Harris said: “You have my commitment that I will not rest until the truth is delivered publicly and in full.” She included a petition, which reads: “Americans deserve to know the truth now that the Mueller report is complete. The report must be released immediately and Attorney General Barr must publicly testify under oath about the investigation’s findings. We need total transparency here.” Senator Dianne Feinstein has previously spoken out strongly in favor of release.

While we mobilize to make sure the complete report isn’t hidden from Congress, or us, we should prepare to understand what it’s likely to have in it. AG Barr and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein have indicated that the Special Counsel’s report probably won’t touch on anyone who hasn’t already been indicted. And since the Department of Justice may be following its policy that a sitting president may not be indicted (there’s disagreement about that), Mueller’s report likely won’t include information detailing criminal wrongdoing by Individual-1. He’ll call that a win, but — it hardly needs saying — don’t believe him: this just means that his wrongdoing can’t be detailed in Mueller’s summary of his investigation. All the more reason that we need Barr to disclose all of the underlying investigatory documents, to ensure 45 is held fully accountable. Barr himself has said that the place for the president to be held accountable is in Congress; thus, Congress must get the entire Mueller report and investigatory materials. The White House has been stonewalling the House Democrats’ investigations, so we must continue to support our Representatives who are standing up in their search for the truth.

For more historical background, and to learn what actions we’ve been taking for over a year, read our past articles in reverse chronological order:

Support AB 857, Public Banking

By Sylvia Chi

Deadline: now and ongoing –

In recent years, a lot more people have started thinking about who’s running their banks, and who’s profiting – and whether they’re the ones who are losing. Now, California Assembly Bill 857 proposes to allow local governments to apply for a banking license from the state, so cities, counties, or regions could establish their own public banks. The legislation is sponsored by the California Public Banking Alliance (CPBA), a statewide coalition of grassroots advocates representing areas ranging from San Diego to Eureka, as well as Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Beneficial State Foundation, and Friends of the Earth. The East Bay is home to CPBA member Public Bank East Bay (formerly Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland), one of the pioneers of the public banking movement in the United States, and we’re calling on our state legislators to sign on as co-authors of this bill. Scroll down to see what you can do to help!

In short, a public bank is one that’s owned by a government, accountable to the public, and managed by professional bankers. (For a longer description, check out Wikipedia.) In the US, the main example of a public bank is the Bank of North Dakota (BND), a state-owned institution founded in 1919 that holds state and other public deposits. BND functions mainly as a bankers’ bank, partnering with local community banks and credit unions to issue loans. It has few retail functions, but its partnership with local financial institutions makes North Dakota home to one of the most robust local banking sectors in the country.

AB 857 would allow local governments in California to create their own versions of BND, strengthening our local financial institutions and keeping our public money in the local economy. Currently, Wall Street banks are the only option for banking services for most local governments. These banks enjoy record profits and anticipate regulatory rollbacks. But why should our communities support them, since they profit from financing and enabling precisely the same fossil fuels, private prisons, destruction of communities, and other reprehensible activities that our communities are actively fighting? Public banks can be a much-needed alternative to the mega-banks, help counteract the risky trend towards bank consolidation, and serve as a source of strength for local economies. They can even help finance the projects proposed in the Green New Deal.

Public banking is possible right here in the East Bay. The city councils of Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond, together with the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, authorized a feasibility study for a regional public bank, which reached positive conclusions. After reviewing the study, the Finance and Management Committee of Oakland City Council voted to forward the study to the full City Council, which accepted it. The next step toward creating a public bank for the East Bay is to develop a business plan and apply for a license – which doesn’t exist yet. We need AB 857 to pass so the East Bay can move forward on creating our own local public bank.

AB 857 is gaining support in the state legislature, but the East Bay’s representatives haven’t yet signed on. Let them know you want them to support and co-author AB 857!

What you can do:

Ask your state senator and assemblymember to commit to co-authoring and supporting AB 857. If you don’t know who your state representatives are, enter your address here to find out.

What to say:

My name is _______, I’m a constituent, and I am a member of Indivisible East Bay. I support public banking as a way to strengthen the local economy. We need to pass AB 857 so the East Bay can move forward on creating our own local public bank. A public bank can help the East Bay by providing low-interest loans for underserved small businesses and affordable-housing developers, and for building needed public infrastructure. Please co-author and support AB 857.

  • Senator Nancy Skinner (email) 510-286-1333 (district) or 916-651-4009 (Capitol)
  • Assemblymember Rob Bonta (email) 510-286-1670 (district) or 916-319-2018 (Capitol)
  • Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (email) 510-286-1400 (district) or 916-319-2015 (Capitol)

 

Sylvia Chi is a member of Public Bank East Bay and legislative chair of the California Public Banking Alliance.

March 2019 Meeting with Alameda4Impeachment & Rep. Lee Staff

By Rosemary Jordan

On March 14, 2019, members of Alameda4Impeachment, including Indivisible East Bay members, met with Representative Barbara Lee’s congressional aide Jain Thapa to discuss Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent comments about impeachment in the context of the growing list of potentially impeachable offenses.

We opened the 45-minute meeting by thanking Rep. Lee for her strong support to impeach the President, including but not limited to her cosponsoring H.Res. 621 in the last Congress. Mr. Thapa confirmed that Rep. Lee continues to unequivocally support impeachment.

We discussed a range of topics related to the scope of the Special Counsel probe vs. the potential scope of an impeachment inquiry, and we supplied articles to Mr. Thapa explaining that the risks of further delays to a professionally-led inquiry should be of primary concern to all House members.

Among the other topics we covered:

  • Hearing Procedure: we discussed that the House Oversight & Judiciary hearings to date have been hamstrung by the five-minute interval questioning approach and by the absence of professional counsel. We shared with Mr. Thapa that professionally facilitated hearings would improve the public’s understanding of the facts. We urged him to share with Rep. Lee that her leadership role offers her a opportunity to shape committee procedures.
  • Risks of Corruption on Public Safety & Global Reputation: we reviewed the tragedy of the Ethiopian Air crash and explored how cronyism between the President and the Boeing CEO has the world community so concerned that they sent the black boxes to France for analysis, rather than to the U.S.
  • Concerns About the Peaceful Transition of Power: we discussed our fears that an optimistic outlook on 2020 is overblown – just as Trump’s chances in 2016 were misunderstood. We further shared our increasing concerns that the President will not accept the 2020 election results if they’re unfavorable to him. Given the ongoing and unaddressed attacks on our democracy (through social media manipulation and other tactics) and possible intrusions into our election systems, we shared our sense of urgency to investigate claims that our President is actively abetting these intrusions.

We closed by sharing two requests with Mr. Thapa:

  1. That Rep. Lee write a letter to Rep. Nadler, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, asking him to immediately begin a formal inquiry, with public hearings, on the issue of impeachment. The hearings would focus on whether evidence exists to support impeachment, and if so, making a record of such evidence and, if warranted, drafting articles of impeachment.

    2.  We requested an in-person meeting with Rep. Lee in the East Bay during the current Congressional recess to discuss our first request, and also to get her views on the current status of and prospects for impeaching the President.

Rosemary Jordan is Co-Founder of Alameda4Impeachment, a registered Indivisible group and a partner in the Citizens Impeachment Coalition, which includes representatives of cities, towns and counties nationwide (including four in the East Bay) that have passed local Impeachment resolutions. Rosemary also serves on the Steering Committee of All Rise Alameda and is co-leader of the End The Tampon Tax In California campaign. She has over 20 years of professional experience in healthcare and aging.

Sign on! Petition and bills to reform charter school laws

By Emily Filloy

Deadline: Now and ongoing –

Are you sick and tired of billionaires backing charter schools, while public schools scramble to pay teachers a living wage?

The proliferation of charter schools and the disastrous effect they have on our public schools was brought to the public’s attention in the recent Los Angeles and Oakland teachers strikes. In the Oakland Unified School District alone, charters cost the district $57 million a year—plenty to give the teachers the raise they need. Now that former Governor Jerry Brown is no longer blocking the road to any charter law reform, legislators have proposed a package of reform bills that would give Oakland, LA, and other heavily charter-impacted districts some much-needed relief.

We need you to do two things:

  • First, contact your Assemblymember and State Senator in support of these four bills: AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508. Read on for more info, a call script and contact info.
  • Second, sign the CharterLawReform.com petition. This petition demands five fundamental changes to state charter law that would go a long way to leveling the playing field. Once the playing field gets leveled, the billionaires creep back under the rocks they crawled out from. When you sign, this petition will automatically send your state reps a notice that you want them to reform the Charter School Act.

Background:

Throughout Jerry Brown’s tenure as governor, he refused to sign almost all charter reform legislation, even bills requiring charter schools to follow the Brown Act and other sunshine and anti-conflict of interest legislation. Now, Governor Newsom has already signed SB 126, dealing with oversight of charter schools! We know that if we can get reform bills passed, Newsom will sign them; but to do that, we need to keep pressure on the legislature. The charter industry is rich and powerful – spending billions to elect pro-charter legislators and school boards and to fight reform legislation. We citizens need to let our reps know that selling out our public schools to privatizers is not okay.

Right now, this package of four bills would reform laws that currently favor charter schools over public schools throughout California:

  • AB 1505 would make the decision of a local school board to deny a charter petition final. Currently, if a local school board denies a charter petition, the operator may appeal first to the county and then to the state. Like bad parenting—if mom says no, try dad.
  • AB 1506 would impose a cap on the number of new charters, allowing a new charter to open only if an existing one closes.
  • AB 1507 would end the ability of a district to authorize a charter school and then place it in another district. Yes, that happens.
  • AB 1508, introduced by East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta and coauthored by Senator Nancy Skinner, expresses the intent to allow school districts to take into account the fiscal, academic, and facilities impacts of a proposed charter on the district schools where it is to be located. This means that a school board can say, “No, we can’t afford yet another charter school.” Combined with AB 1505, which eliminates appeals, this would allow local school districts to once again have control over the number and location of its schools.

What you can do:

 Sign the petition: CharterLawReform.com

 Contact your state representative in support of AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508.

Contact the members of the Assembly Education Committee, where these bills will be heard:

Spread the word!

What to say:

For your local representatives:

My name is___________. My zip code is_________. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging Assemblymember/Senator __________ to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508.  This package of bills will begin to hold charter schools accountable to local communities and ensure that charter proliferation won’t destabilize another school district. Can I count on Assemblymember/Senator ________ to support these bills?

For members of the Education Committee:

My name is ________. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging you, as a member of the Education Committee, to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508. This package of bills will begin to hold charter schools accountable to local communities and ensure that charter proliferation won’t destabilize another school district. Can I count on Assemblymember/Senator ________ to support these bills?

 

Emily Filloy is a retired OUSD teacher whose grown children are graduates of Oakland Unified School District. She and other educators started Educators for Democratic Schools to fight for the survival of public education.

 

March 2019 meeting with Sen. Nancy Skinner

State Senator Nancy Skinner and her aide Margaret Hanlon-Gradie met with six Indivisible East Bay members, including the founder of California StateStrong, on March 1, 2019, to talk about important bills in the current legislative session. The half-hour meeting was wide-ranging, including discussions of bills that Indivisible East Bay is prioritizing and bills that Sen. Skinner herself is introducing. Read our pre-meeting memo to Sen. Skinner here.

Police Use of force

Two bills this session deal with the issue of police use of force. We asked Sen. Skinner, who chairs the Senate Public Safety Committee, to support AB 392. Her support will be critical to the outcome of this bill – and to the defeat of SB 230, a competing, weaker bill supported by law enforcement agencies. In line with recommendations from policing and legal experts, including the California Attorney General, AB 392 updates California law so that police can use deadly force only when necessary to prevent death or serious injury, and requires them to use tactics to de-escalate a situation or use alternatives to deadly force when reasonable. Changing to this standard will mean that officers will be trained to use deadly force less often and will be held accountable when they shoot and kill unnecessarily. Read our article and action item on AB 392 and SB 230 here.

As Committee Chair, Skinner said she cannot signal anything now, but she noted that neither the Public Safety Committee membership nor the chair has changed since last year when they approved AB 931, a bill very similar to AB 392 that ultimately did not receive a vote in the CA Senate. Skinner urged us to make sure Indivisible groups up and down the state are clear on AB 392 and SB 230 and flood their legislators with communications about them. Also, it’s important to work to gain the support of groups and institutions that have personal and moral influence with legislators, particularly the faith community, including the Catholic, Jewish, and African-American congregations.

Criminal Justice Reform

IEB asked Sen. Skinner to support AB 32, which would abolish for-profit prisons. Sen. Skinner supports ending for-profit prisons and Skinner’s budget subcommittee will hold hearings on why we still have prisoners in Mississippi, but in her opinion this is the least of the issues since California only has two privately owned prisons, which are staffed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and which operate under CDCR rules. The main issue in her opinion is that we have way too many people in prison despite sentencing reforms. Skinner suggests the focus should be on bills from last year that didn’t make it through the legislature that would have eliminated various sentence enhancements. She also suggested focusing on Assemblymember Bonta’s AB 1793, which became law last fall; this deals, among other things, with resentencing for marijuana-related offenses whose legal status changed under Proposition 64.

Importantly, Sen. Skinner will also carry a parole reform bill to increase the chance of parole by changing the criteria for the parole board’s “risk assessment.”  Now, only 18 percent of people who come before the parole board are released. The current criteria mostly have nothing to do with the prisoner’s behavior, are not under the prisoner’s control, and are stacked against black and brown people—e.g., family history of incarceration. Senator Skinner urged as many Indivisible groups as possible to email and call their legislators to pass these bills.

Sen. Skinner beat IEB to the punch discussing Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 6, which if approved by voters in 2020 will amend the California Constitution to restore voting rights to Californians on parole. IEB will be working with the community co-sponsors of ACA 6, including our community partner Open Gate, which supports people leaving prison and pursuing their education. Sen. Skinner told us she is a strong supporter of restoring rights to people returning to the community after incarceration. To our request that she co-sponsor ACA 6 when it comes to the Senate, she responded that voting rights are “very important.”

Anti-Poverty

We thanked Sen. Skinner for introducing SB 18, the Keep Californians Housed Act, co-authored by two other East Bay representatives, Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Buffy Wicks. Among other things, this bill establishes a Homelessness Prevention and Legal Aid Fund in the State Treasury.

IEB asked Sen. Skinner to fund the CalFood Program at $24.5 million, to enable food banks to meet emergency needs. We asked her to support the following bills:

  • AB 1022 (Wicks), a top priority of our community partner the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB), addresses the need to end hunger for adults (Able-Bodied Adults without Children) who are harmed by the federal 3-month time limit to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Senator Skinner said this bill should not be a problem, depending on the appropriations amount.
  • SB 285, co-sponsored by the ACCFB, would ensure all eligible Californians have access to CalFresh/SNAP by phone, online, and in-person through dignified means and within an integrated safety net that supports health and well-being. Senator Skinner said she is a strong supporter of making sure everyone who qualifies for SNAP gets it, and she has carried bills to this end in the past.  She thinks this will pass.
  • SB 499, Hunger-Free Schools, and AB 842, Hunger-Free Preschool and Child Care, would increase K-12 schools’ capacity to provide healthy school meals, and are spin-offs of legislation that Senator Skinner carried, so she is a strong supporter.

Finance

We asked for Sen. Skinner’s support of the public banking charter bill sponsored by the California Public Banking Alliance. This will create a new type of charter/license specifically tailored to public banks, which are defined as banks wholly owned by public entities (cities, counties, school or water districts, or combinations thereof). She replied that she is a strong supporter of work around public banks.  She will have to see the language before saying she will co-author.

Senator Skinner is carrying a corporate income tax bill, intended to make corporations share some of the huge savings they reaped from the Trump tax overhaul. Corporate income taxes used to supply about 30% of the state’s general fund; that is now down to less than 9%. Under Sen. Skinner’s bill, the higher the ratio between the corporation’s top officer’s pay and the median employee pay, the higher the tax rate.

We look forward to working with Senator Skinner in the current session.

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Override Trump’s veto

Deadline: now and until Tuesday March 26 – 

Trump’s February 15, 2019 declaration of a national emergency to build a wall is a flagrant attack on our democracy: an illegal, anti-democratic power grab that plays directly to his racist base. On February 26 the House passed H.J. Res. 46, a joint resolution to terminate the national emergency, by a vote of 245 to 182. On March 14 the Senate also passed it, 59 to 41, with Republican Senators Alexander, Blunt, Collins, Lee, Moran, Murkowski, Paul, Portman, Romney, Rubio, Toomey, and Wicker voting with the Democrats. All of our Members of Congress voted in favor.

Trump vetoed the Joint Resolution on March 15. The House is scheduled to hold a veto override vote on March 26; a two-thirds majority is needed for it to pass.

What you can do NOW: 

Thank your Members of Congress for voting YES on the joint resolution, and tell them to:

  • Vote to override the veto (the House votes first, and the Senate will only vote if the House overrides). 
  • Sponsor and support the Protecting Disaster Relief Funds Act, companion bills in the Senate and House that would prohibit Trump from taking funds granted to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the Army Corps of Engineers in recent appropriations, and using those funds to build a physical barrier on the border. Senator Harris is an original cosponsor of S 534; please thank her, and ask Senator Feinstein to sign on. As of March 19 none of our East Bay reps has cosponsored the House bill, HR 1214; ask your Representative to sign on.

What to say:

For Representatives DeSaulnier, Lee and Swalwell:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for voting for the Joint Resolution to terminate Trump’s unconstitutional emergency declaration. I want Representative ______ to vote to override Trump’s veto, and also to cosponsor House Bill 1214, the Protecting Disaster Relief Funds Act. 

For Senator Harris:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank the senator for cosponsoring Senate Bill 534, the Protecting Disaster Relief Funds Act, and for voting for the Joint Resolution to terminate Trump’s unconstitutional emergency declaration. If the House votes to override the veto, I want the senator to vote to override it in the Senate. 

For Senator Feinstein:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank the senator for voting for the Joint Resolution to terminate Trump’s unconstitutional emergency declaration. If the House votes to override the veto, I want her to vote to override it in the Senate. I’d also like the senator to cosponsor Senate Bill 534, the Protecting Disaster Relief Funds Act.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • 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

ALSO! Spread the word to everyone you know, especially if they have GOP Members of Congress. Send them this article, and if they need it, point to this handy link with contact info for their MoCs.

Read our prior articles for background: