IEB members at Kamala Harris’ Kickoff

Sunday, January 27, 2019 was a beautiful day in the East Bay, and Indivisible East Bay held its monthly All Members Meeting. Oh, and also – Senator Kamala Harris kicked off her Presidential campaign in her native Oakland. Several IEB members skipped the AMM for the historic event; we bring you their impressions.

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A preliminary note: So far, IEB’s only position in the Democratic primary is that we will support whoever wins it and do all we can to elect a new president in 2020. If you are interested in participating in a discussion about how we engage with the primary with that as our ultimate goal, please add your email to this list and we will contact you sometime in the coming months about next steps. We are also committed to creating an environment in which our members feel comfortable supporting the primary candidate of their choice regardless of what we do as an organization.

As all agreed, it was a massive crowd – news reports estimated 20,000, which all attendees agreed seemed extremely low. Unfortunately, entry to the event was apparently poorly organized, with huge lines thronging the streets near Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza, so people reported waiting for a couple of hours. (The good news, as one said, was that the delay meant they only got to listen to Kamala’s speech, and not any of the warmup acts!)

On the other hand, IEB Governance Committee member and Senator Team co-lead Amelia Cass had a different experience:

Due to IEB’s relationship with the senator’s Congressional office, I was invited to the rally by her campaign. I see this as a good sign that the senator respects our organization and is interested in appealing to IEB and the rest of the Indivisible movement, and so we have a great chance for us to influence both our own representative and the national discourse. (And as a side benefit for me, I got to watch the rally from the “VIP” section behind the stage, standing just two people over from, as it happened, Rep. Barbara Lee.)

Despite the delays, everyone agreed that the crowds were happy and enthusiastic and the mood, electric. “Clearly a sense of history in the making,” as one IEB-er put it. All reports noted the diversity of the “deliciously Oaklandish” crowd: “So many moms with their kids.” “The racial, age, and gender diversity was obvious, but there were also clearly lots of non-binary and queer folk.”

At least one IEB-er appreciated Harris’ comment that she was born just a few blocks from the rally site, which he understood as an indirect swipe at the outrageous birther conspiracy that has already sprung up against her. As the press has reported, she never mentioned Trump by name, but almost every sentence was directed at him. “The crowd went WILD when Harris said a hostile power was infecting the White House like malware,” as one IEB-er put it. As for policy: Harris began with criminal justice reform and her experience taking on corporations, corruption, and criminals “for the people” of California as Attorney General – perhaps a little surprising since those are also the aspects of her career as a prosecutor that have faced the most criticism (though some have pointed out that both then and now, she has been held to a different standard as a Black woman). She also discussed Medicare for All, legal status and a path to citizenship, election security, and nuclear proliferation. The biggest applause for a policy item was probably her promise to act on climate change “based on science fact, not science fiction,” with her call for a “middle class tax cut” to be paid for by repealing the tax scam a close runner-up. 

Still, although Harris’ speech incorporated many of IEB’s priority policy areas, it was light on commitments to take specific actions. And she did not come across, like some of her rivals, as bursting with big new ideas about how to make our country better. But what it lacked there, it made up in moral force and smart and determined personality. And toward the end of her speech, she turned to an Obama-style theme of a united America familiar to anyone who has heard her speak over the last few years, but with new nuance and thoughtfulness about the meaning and implications of unity that, in Amelia’s words, “I think our movement would do well to consider during a contentious primary.” Although some of those attending the event – including Amelia – say they “weren’t persuaded to vote for her,” they were all impressed. “I think she’d make a formidable opponent,” summarized one IEB-er.

Top photo: Crowd on 14th Street waiting for Kamala Harris, with view of video showing the crowd in the Plaza.

Photographs by Jonathan Zingman and Nancy Latham

Join IEB in Supporting Oakland Teachers

Deadline: today through February 5 – Fresh off the exciting win for teachers in Los Angeles, Oakland is facing the possibility of a teacher strike of its own.

Teachers in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) have worked without a contract for about a year and a half, while dealing with numerous issues such as school closures, sales of land for charter schools, increasing class sizes, and reductions in student support services.

For these reasons, the Oakland Education Association (OEA), the teachers’ union for OUSD, is voting on whether to authorize a district-wide strike in February. Indivisible East Bay stands with these teachers and their colleagues in their struggle for a contract that provides for good pay for themselves and good schools for Oakland’s children. To that end, IEB has signed onto a letter of support to the Oakland City Council, urging them to support a resolution in support of OEA in their demands of the OUSD school board. And we urge you to support OEA too.

If you live in Oakland – whether or not you have children in the Oakland Public Schools – join teachers, families and community members at the rally on Tuesday February 5 to call on your city councilmember to support the resolution in support of OEA. Gather for the rally at 5 PM at Frank Ogawa Plaza, and head into the council meeting at 5:30 PM. Also, please call your councilmember – see the graphic above for contact info for the members of the City Council and a sample message. And if teachers go on strike, you can join them on the picket line, whether or not you’re an Oakland resident.

We’ll publish updated articles as developments occur, so check back. If there is a strike we will also provide information about related activities like Solidarity Schools, which will serve as alternatives so students can still learn during school hours without crossing picket lines.

The Shutdown: a Tale of Two National Park Communities

Yosemite. Arches. You may associate National Parks with fabulous photos, fun and leisure. But these and other federal lands are the major source of employment and income in some communities; and the federal shutdown has been a crisis with much farther reach than people realize and has wrecked much more than winter vacation plans. Tell your Members of Congress: the government needs to reopen, without giving into extortion over funding for an unneeded, unworkable, racist border wall. And then read more, below, to find out how the cynical shutdown is thoughtlessly cutting at the heart of the people and the land where our National Parks are located.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m strongly opposed to the border wall. Thank you for everything you’ve done in opposition to it. I’m counting on you to vote against any bill that has funding for the wall. And don’t let the President keep using federal employees as hostages — we need to reopen the government without funding the wall!

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Check out Indivisible National’s latest message with updated information about the mess (in DC) and the need for a clean continuing resolution. Then, after you call Senators Feinstein and Harris, here are two great ways that we Blue Staters can spread the word to target Red States!

A Tale of Two National Park communities

1. Inyo County and the Eastern Sierras

The whole of Inyo County has a population of 18,000, and 300 of those people are federal workers. That’s as if there were nearly 7,000 federal workers living in Oakland (there are about 1,600). There’s a good reason: almost 92% of the land in Inyo County is owned and managed by the federal government, including Death Valley, and Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous 48 states, and part of Yosemite, and more.

Lone Pine, CA, near Mount Whitney - photo by Ann Daniels
Lone Pine, CA, near Mount Whitney – photo by Ann Daniels

According to a January 19, 2019 article in the Inyo Register, things are bad now for the workers affected by the shutdown, and they’re going to be just as bad when they return to work. Some are considering leaving government employment; it isn’t worth the uncertainty and the depression that they’re suffering, along with the significant lack of income. And it isn’t just government workers who are affected. In Inyo, private sector partners like the nonprofit Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association (ESIA) work with the government employees to operate visitor centers and information services; these workers are locked out too (and they’re not going to get back pay).

ESIA is going the extra mile: they are actually using their own funds to keep some facilities open at the parks in Inyo during the shutdown. And they estimate that they’re going to lose nearly $40,000 in sales revenue from the shuttered visitor centers and gift shops. It could take years for them to recoup those losses. This is one way a government shutdown can wreak havoc on even nongovernmental entities that are part of the backbone of the community.

Now, let’s talk about how the shutdown wreaks havoc on the land: the Register says that workers are “concerned about the daunting task” of making up the work they’re missing. Imagine if no one at your office came to work for a month or more, with no time to prepare in advance. How long would it take to catch up, if the outside world didn’t know you weren’t there and kept piling things on as though you were taking care of business as usual? And if some of your coworkers quit in the meantime because the thought of returning to work was just too awful? Not to put too fine a point on it: nature pays no attention to shutdowns. According to the Inyo Register, this is the time of year when federal agencies should be hiring seasonal firefighters in anticipation of next year’s fire season. Yosemite still shows the scars of recent fires – everyone knows what could happen if next year’s fires can’t be prevented or fought because the government has prevented the work from being done. One would hope the government would care. One would hope.

2. Moab

The town of Moab, Utah is just outside of Arches National Park, one of the most likely places in this country to end up in scenic photographs. The Moab Times-Independent online business section has devoted itself to chronicling the shutdown. Arches and the nearby Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands National Park have reopened to visitors, they report, but not because federal workers have come back to work.

Arches in winter
Arches in winter

As in Inyo, a local nonprofit has chipped in: the Canyonlands Natural History Association is spending about $2,000 a day to keep visitor centers open in the parks, not counting wages to pay the staff in the centers. They don’t expect to be reimbursed any of this money. We’ll do the math for you: that’s $14,000 a week. $60,000 in a month (ok, $56,000 in February). In 2017, the CNHA donated “more than $937,000” “for the educational and research efforts of [their] public land partners” throughout all of Southwest Utah” – again, we’ll do the math for you. One month of keeping the visitor centers open in Arches and Island in the Sky, alone, equals about one month of CNHA’s entire expenditures last year. And that’s money they will not get back – money that they won’t have for other uses, other parks.

Unlike in California, as far as we know, the State of Utah is also expending considerable resources to fill in where the federal government has shut down. The Utah Office of Tourism has put forth money to keep the parks open, and the Utah Department of Transportation has promised aid to clear roads and parking areas in all the state’s major National Parks. That’s money that the state would ordinarily not have used on federal lands; which means that wherever the state had planned to use the money, they will now have to find other sources or do without. Thus an entire state can suffer as a result of a federal shutdown closing the National Parks.

And even with private and state funds and workers filling in, visitors to Moab are cutting their visits short or not coming. Local hotels are reporting cancellations and early departures. With tourism a major part of the local economy, this is how an entire community suffers from the federal shutdown. And an entire state.

Half dome, photo by Ann Daniels
Half dome, photo by Ann Daniels

And, of course, an entire country.

H.R. 1 is Priority One

By Ion Yannopoulos and Ann Daniels

Even little kids know how voting works: you vote, your vote gets counted, everyone else’s vote gets counted, the totals are added up, and the winner is the one who gets the most votes. Simple.

Or not. In real-life elections, there are so many ways this goes wrong. Let’s look at “your vote gets counted” – how do you know? And how do you know that the total of votes they announce is actually the same as the number of people who voted? There could be cheating or tampering. Even in honest elections, people can make mistakes all along the line. Bottom line: it’s so easy for there to be lost votes, miscounted votes. So how can you trust election results?

That’s why one of the first (if not the first) priorities of the new Democratic House of Representatives is H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which among other things lays the foundation for (more) secure elections. And that’s why we need you to tell your Member of Congress that you want them to support H.R. 1. Read on for more info and what to say.

Background

There are a lot of reasons why voting machines can be vulnerable to problems – and unfortunately, voting machines in the U.S. are subject to most of them. But there’s good news: it’s possible to count votes to a very high degree of accuracy, detect interference in elections, and prevent election tampering, all by using paper ballots and something called a risk-limiting audit – essentially, double-checking the election by using a specific statistical method of analyzing the votes cast.

H.R. 1 requires, among many other things, that new voting machines always start with paper ballots, and that those ballots be retained until the election is over. Why paper ballots? Digital data is cheap, fast, and very flexible – but it has a fatal flaw, because it can be changed nearly undetectably. The only way an audit can tell if there’s been tampering is if there’s a trusted source to verify the electronic vote against: namely, the voter’s original ballot. There are electronic voting machines that produce a paper ballot, but if they are hacked, the paper part produced by the electronic voting machine is just as tainted as the electronic part. In fact, there are even ways that the votes can be hacked based on the paper record produced by the electronic machine! Experts agree: Paper ballots are an indispensible part of election security.

What you can do:

1. Contact your Member of Congress. Let them know you support H.R. 1. All three of our East Bay Representatives have cosponsored the bill; thank them. Barbara Lee is on the House Appropriations Committee, which will have to come up with the money to address the funding needed for the states to agree.

What to say:

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank ______ for cosponsoring H.R. 1 to make our elections trustworthy by making them secure. Please make sure other Members of Congress understand how dangerously insecure our current voting machines really are, and convince them to support H.R. 1. Thank you.

For Barbara Lee, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, you can add:

I’m also asking you to make sure the provisions for funding voting machines with paper ballots are rock solid, to resist criticisms about “unfunded mandates.”

  • 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. Contact the California Secretary of State. The Secretary of State oversees elections. The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) is having a conference in Washington from Feb. 1-4, 2019, and one of the topics they will address is voting on a resolution opposing any federal attempts to decide how state money is spent on elections – essentially leaving decisions about election machines in the hands of the states. Tell Secretary of State Alex Padilla that we don’t believe our elections can be safe nationally if any states are vulnerable, and that a minimum standard needs to be set for all elections.

What to say:

My name is ______, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Secretary of State Padilla for speaking out about the need to defend election integrity, and I want to ask him to speak against the NASS Interim Position on Potential Federal Election Funding. Our elections can’t be safe nationally if any states are vulnerable. For us to be secure and for our elections to be trusted they need to be verified by audit, and we need both paper ballots and risk-limiting audits in order to make that happen.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla: email; Main phone (916) 657-2166; Legislative Office: (916) 653-6774

3. Help work on these critical issues with the Indivisible East Bay Voter Rights & Election Integrity team — email heidi@IndivisibleEB.org, or join the #voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack. Want an invitation to join Slack? Email info@IndivisibleEB.org

4. Find out more: For more information, read our past articles about election security and risk-limiting audits:

IEB Meets with Senator Harris’ Staff, January 2019

By Leslie A. Burton

On January 15, 2019, Indivisible East Bay met with Senator Kamala Harris’ State Director, Julie Rodriguez, and other office staff at the Senator’s downtown San Francisco office.  

Shutdown. We opened with the government shutdown, at that point on its 24th day – the longest in U.S. history (and still ongoing as of this writing). We asked that the Senator not back down on her opposition to the border wall. We pointed out the need to  disseminate more positive stories about immigrants and noted environmental hazards to wildlife caused by the wall. Julie acknowledged the problems with privatizing immigration detention centers. We asked that Senator Harris consider forcing a vote on the budget by making a motion to proceed, but Julie didn’t think that the senator was inclined to do that.

Barr for Attorney General. Although we disapprove of the appointment of William Barr as AG, Julie explained that though Harris will likely oppose (and she officially announced opposition soon after our meeting) his appointment is likely a “done deal.”

Judicial appointments. We expressed our dismay that judges who have been found “not qualified” by the American Bar Association are being approved.  ABA approval should be a non-negotiable qualification. We asked that each judicial candidate be put through the entire vetting and approval process, with no concessions to speed up the process. Julie noted that the Blue Slip process, which had been the protocol for every other administration, is not being followed now, and said she hopes in the future we can move to restore the previous protocol to confirm judges.

Julie was pleased, though, with the decision of the federal court in Manhattan that will prevent citizenship questions from being asked on the 2020 census. She is also heartened that Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts seems to be moving a little to the left.

Nuclear arms. We voiced concern over Senator Jon Kyl’s proposals to stockpile more nuclear warheads. Rep. Engel is willing to open debate on repeal of AUMF in the House. Sen. Merkley’s AUMF repeal framework includes tying humanitarian goals into any repeal legislation. We support Engel and Merkley and would like to know how Senator Harris stands on these issues. We would like her to support a No First Use (of nuclear weapons) policy. Julie was not aware of Sen. Harris’ stance on these issues but she promised that she would discuss them with her. Senator Harris, like us, is concerned that we have the right checks and balances in place when an unstable person is in charge of nuclear arms.

Defense Budget/Budget Control Act Caps. Senator Harris supports parity between military and non-military spending. Julie doesn’t know about the proposal to discontinue humanitarian aid to Yemen, but she will look into it, as well as into the proposal to bring the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act below $700 billion.

DHS/HHS appropriations for immigration centers. Two children have died in ICE custody at the border without explanation; there is no oversight or responsibility to prevent abuses by ICE; there are no background checks on ICE employees; anti-immigration actions are taking funds from cancer and HIV research. Julie explained that most of the monetary aspect of Homeland Security goes through the Office of Management and Budget, and not through the Senate. But the Senator is concerned with the locking up of children and families and the lack of humanity exhibited in these facilities. Harris also sponsored the non-expansion act that would prohibit the expansion of immigration detention and improve oversight of these facilities. The Senator will be flagging Rep. Norma Torres’s H. Amdt. 314 to H.R. 3354, which would prevent the re-allocation of non-immigration detention funds in DHS towards immigration detention, for her immigration team to study.

Climate Change. We inquired about Harris’ approach to controlling greenhouse gases. We pointed out that lower standards are being proposed for Superfund cleanups, which will hurt communities. Julie stated that California is at the forefront of environmental issues, including environmental justice. Among other clean energy proposals, Harris is seeking federal funding for electric buses in rural areas. Climate change will be on the agenda for her next town hall.

Green New Deal. We told Julie that proposals are afloat for a system of public banks or agencies to finance energy infrastructure, which will transform the economy while addressing environmental issues. These banks would be accountable to the people and could be used to give micro-loans for communities and for conservation projects and other projects and endeavors, including the cannabis industry. Julie was very interested and asked us to provide her with good examples of successful programs.

Income Inequality and Taxes. We asked whether Harris supports Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to increase the highest tax rate to 70 percent. Julie acknowledged that taxes need to be reformed, with the goal of getting money into the hands of the people. She noted that the majority of Americans are $500 away from life-changing status (such as homelessness) and that the Senator supports the “Lift the Middle-Class Tax Act,” which will give $500 annually to those who spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

Criminal Justice Reform and First Step. We aired our concerns over some of the terms of the criminal justice reform bill First Step Act, including its reliance on algorithms for predicting recidivism. Harris believes that AG Barr’s oversight of the First Step criminal reform bill will not be a serious concern because she has faith in the career employees at the Department of Justice who will handle most of the hands-on day-to-day administration of First Step. But the senator shares concerns over the recidivism calculations.

Drug Policy. Senator Harris supported the Marijuana Justice Act.  The next step is to help the cannabis industry transition to a fully legal business. Harris supports removing it from Schedule 1 of Controlled Substances. In response to her question to Barr about federal prosecution of users who are not violating state laws, he said he would not prosecute those cases.

Next Town Hall. Senator Harris will announce a Town Hall soon. We will let you know the date as soon as we find out.

 

Leslie A. Burton is a former lawyer and law professor. She is now a traveling professor, teaching Introduction to US Law classes and Legal Writing seminars in law firms and universities around the world.

Oakland Women’s March 2019: What Did You Miss?

By Anne Spevack

Like many other Indivisible East Bay members, I spent January 19, 2019 at the Women’s March in Oakland. The Women’s March is an inspiring and hopeful day where all kinds of people with different experiences and priorities turn out to stand – and march – in solidarity with each other. But for me, the reality of this year’s event did not fulfill the ideal of mutual support and solidarity, because the day’s logistics meant that some of the speakers – especially some of those from important, marginalized communities – were literally left behind.

The Oakland Women’s March organizers did a great job of scheduling a group of diverse, inspiring speakers, representing youth, immigrant women, formerly incarcerated women, women with disabilities, and more. One of the speakers I was most excited to see was Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter. Unfortunately, despite the great lineup, Ms. Garza and many other speakers never had the chance to deliver their message to the crowds that had gathered, for the simple reason that the march started before their time came to speak.

The schedule: The rally started at 10, and the march was scheduled to start at 11. At other such marches I’ve attended, times are approximate; the march starts when the speaking ends. However, at this year’s Women’s March, the march started on time, even though just over half of the speakers had finished their speeches. Thus, I watched 80 to 90 percent of the gathered crowd disperse before the last four speakers took the stage. And these speakers including activists representing some of the most marginalized groups represented at the march: Hai Yan Wu, an organizer for Asian Immigrant Women Activists, who gave her speech in Chinese; Stacey Milbern, a disability justice advocate; and Jennifer B. Lyle, the Executive Director of Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth (MISSSEY). And closing out the rally was Garza, who had been advertised as one of the major speakers of the day.

Garza’s speech focused on the power of supporting each other across our differences. She proclaimed her support for her Muslim, immigrant, Jewish, LGBTQ, etc., sisters. Garza has at multiple times spoken out in support of the Women’s March, despite continued concerns about the intersectionality and inclusion within the organization and movement. I felt ashamed that most march attendees weren’t there supporting her and the other speakers.

I don’t think this was intentional on the part of the March organizers; I assume the rally and march were intended to be sequential, not to run over each other or to leave speakers addressing empty space. And a lot of attendees were there primarily to march, and left the rally to march with their group and not to snub any particular speaker. But impacts matter, and in this case the impact was a very visible lack of support for the speakers and the groups they represent.

Indivisible, the Women’s March, and other major organizing efforts have come a long way since 2016, building lasting movements, sparking national conversations, and trying to support each other in the face of our common struggle and peril. Let’s keep that growth going by continuing to learn from and support each other. I hope that we will be mindful of who is speaking, literally or metaphorically, and how we can be better at listening to their voices.

For another perspective: indivisibleeb.org/2019/01/23/oakland-womens-march-2019/

Photograph by Christoph Neyer

Anne Spevack is an expert on transportation and infrastructure issues with a passion for the environment, and is rapidly becoming an expert in the Green New Deal.

Oakland Women’s March 2019

By Ted Lam

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The weather cooperated for the third annual Oakland Women’s March on Saturday January 19; we even got a glimpse of a rainbow! Everyone who marched and lined 14th Street from Lake Merritt to Frank Ogawa Plaza projected positive energy. There were lots of families with kids, and all had smiles and danced along with the various bands in the march.

Indivisible East Bay walked with our good friends and partners in Indivisible Berkeley;  both groups marched proudly behind our banners. I believe we had the youngest Indivisible member (four years old!) participating out of our two groups!

Marching behind Batala, a great Samba drumming group, was like having front row seats at a concert. There was good music, energy, and camaraderie through the day and a lot of interest in IEB at our table. 

The Women’s March has become a major annual event for us to bond with and catch up with the groups and activists many of us spent the past year working with. And we’re all looking forward to next year’s election year event — the 2020 Women’s March!

For another perspective: https://indivisibleeb.org/2019/01/23/oakland-womens-march-2019-what-did-you-miss/

Photographs by Nancy Latham and Ted Lam

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

 

CA-11 Team gets it done!

By Ted Lam

Do you live in California’s 11th Congressional District? Then you should know about Indivisible East Bay’s CA-11 Team! We meet every third Wednesday at the El Cerrito Rialto Theater from 7 to 8:30 PM, and our unofficial team motto is “We get Sh*t Done!”

Over the past two years, our team has developed a solid relationship with our Congressmember, Mark DeSaulnier, and his staff. As part of the Indivisible strategy, we meet with Rep. DeSaulnier on a regular basis, both to share our priorities and learn about his. These meetings allow us to give input about the specific actions and policies that he is fighting for in D.C. on our behalf–and thankfully, he has shown himself to be a very responsive representative.

Over the past two years, the CA-11 Team has partnered with progressive groups to create a better community for all who live in our district. We supported and worked for the successful election of Judge Diana Becton, the first woman and only African-American to be District Attorney in our county. We collaborated with other activists and groups to pressure Contra Costa County Sheriff Livingston to cancel the ICE contract at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond where immigrant detainees were held. We help organize and participate in the El Cerrito Shows Up weekly rallies to highlight the immoral policies of the current administration. Members of the CA-11 team also worked in coalition with others to organize a 400-person rally to protest 45’s interference in the Mueller investigation.

Earlier this month, two candidates running to represent California Assembly District 15 as delegates to the California Democratic Party spoke at our meeting to encourage people to vote in the upcoming delegate election. Indivisible Berkeley member Daron Sharps and Christine Nygaard of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America shared their reasons for running–this year in particular is critical, as the elected delegates will vote when it comes time for the CA Democratic party to make its endorsement for the Democratic nominee for President! If you’re interested in voting for the delegates to the CA Democratic Party from Assembly District 15, the election is on Saturday, January 26 from 9:45 AM to 12:30 PM in Emeryville. Voting begins at 10:30 AM, and you must be in line by 12:30 to vote. You can only vote if you are a registered Democrat living in AD-15 (N. Oakland, Piedmont, Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, El Cerrito, Richmond, El Sobrante, San Pablo, Hercules or Pinole). More information here.

If you want more info about the CA-11 Team, contact co-leads Ted and Kristen at indivisibleca11@gmail.com; Or if you’re on Slack, contact @Ted Lam or @KristenL and join the moc_team_ca11 team. Want an invite to join Slack? Please drop us a line at info@indivisibleeb.org

 Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

Photograph: CA-11 team members Kristen, Toni, and Ted, meet with Rep DeSaulnier

DeSaulnier Hosts Emergency Town Hall on Trump Shutdown

By Toni Henle

You won’t fall asleep at one of Representative Mark DeSaulnier’s Town Halls! He’s done 75 of them since 2015, when he was first elected to represent CA-11, and it’s clear he loves this way of connecting with his constituents. I attended my third town hall in Lafayette on Saturday, January 19, 2019 – yes, it was the same day as the Women’s Marches, and in fact the audience cheered loudly when DeSaulnier mentioned that he’d come from the Walnut Creek Women’s March!

DeSaulnier’s town halls are always informative, but also entertaining and a chance for 500 or so constituents to express their opinions to their representative, which they did, resoundingly approving his stance that there should be no negotiations on the border wall until the government is reopened. “Democrats and Republicans should not shut down the government because they don’t get what they want through the legislative process, that’s not how democracy works,” he said. “The process should be open and public and you have to hold votes” to reach a resolution.

National Treasury Employees Union table
National Treasury Employees Union table

The Emergency Town Hall on the Trump Shutdown was serious indeed – outside, a dozen tables were set up to connect furloughed or working-without-pay federal employees with services, including food banks, a credit union offering interest-free loans for Coast Guard employees, the National Treasury Employees Union (its members work across many parts of government), CoCo Kids, Monument Crisis Center and the Contra Costa County Veterans Office, among others.

Rep. DeSaulnier began with a slide show, Special Edition: The Trump Shutdown, including these facts:

  • 37,000 California workers are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown
  • $5.7 billion won’t build the wall that Trump wants – independent and congressional studies estimate it could cost up to $40 or even $70 billion in all.
  • Illegal border crossings have been declining for nearly two decades; in 2017, border-crossing apprehensions were at their lowest point since 1971.
  • Two-thirds of the “illegal” immigrant population in the U.S. is due to people overstaying their visas, so building a wall will not address that part of the situation.

How would he address the border situation?

  • First, end the shutdown now and put people back to paid work.
  • Then the GAO needs to do a cost-benefit analysis by convening experts to address the best way to both secure the border and alleviate the humanitarian crisis. “Democrats continue to support strong, smart, effective border security solutions” like smart technology and more personnel.
  • Congress needs to hold hearings and we need to have a public debate.
  • In the long run, “I’d like to spend more money in the countries that asylum-seekers are coming from…to help them restore the rule of law, so that they can live in the country that they want to live.”
  • We need permanent legislation to address the Dreamers, not a temporary solution.

Rep. DeSaulnier serves on the Education and Labor Committee, which is preparing legislation on ways to help American workers, and Transportation and Infrastructure. He may also be able to “waive onto” a third committee, Government Oversight, on which he’d want hearings on the child separation policy and reunification of families as well as, of course, Michael Cohen and others.

DeSaulnier answered audience questions for the last 45 minutes, including:

  • How to end the shutdown (see above)
  • Concern about the potential for aviation accidents if the shutdown continues, voiced by an airline pilot
  • Concern about family separation policy and reuniting children with families
  • Restoring “regular order” so that we don’t go from one continuing resolution to another in funding the government
  • 7,500+ in Contra Costa County losing their Section 8 housing subsidy at the end of February
  • What is to be expected after the Mueller report is released?
  • What can be done to protect the rights of LGBTQ people in our military?

On Tuesday, January 22, the CA-11 representative will be back in Washington after having heard important input from his district. Want to contact him? Here’s how: (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095

Did you miss the Town Hall? Watch the video recording here.

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

Bar Barr – Tell Senators to vote against AG nominee

Deadline: ASAP and until the vote – Here we go again: another nominee for Attorney General who thinks the president has unfettered powers, that religion trumps (sorry not sorry) law and that it certainly is more important than the rights of LGBTQ folk, that the Muslim ban is good but abortion rights and criminal defendants’ and prisoners’ rights are not … Ladies and gentlemen and resisters of all ages, the Current Occupant presents: William Barr!

The vote on Barr’s nomination is fast approaching. Senator Kamala Harris has said she will oppose his nomination because “he won’t defend independent investigations from attacks and ensure equal protection under the law for all Americans.” She’s also said she opposes him because he doesn’t “embrace a smart on crime approach to public safety.” We agree. Please thank her, and ask Senator Dianne Feinstein to say the same – and to commit to vote against the nomination. See below for call scripts and contact info.

Some scary facts about Barr:

  • He has publicly criticized Robert Mueller’s investigation, yet during his Senate hearing, he refused to commit to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller’s investigation. He also refused to commit to make Mueller’s findings public. Biased and secret – the exact opposite of what an Attorney General should be.
  • As organizations concerned with the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of and from religion have pointed out, he has called for constitutional U.S. law to be replaced with “God’s law.”
  • “He believes that Trump cannot be questioned for firing [FBI Director James] Comey in a criminal obstruction probe because presidents always have the discretion to fire an FBI director” – People for the American Way
  • Barr believes in being tough on minor drug offenders and opposes sentencing reform. He’s a big fan of mass incarceration.
  • He recently praised former Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “an outstanding attorney general.”
  • Read an excellent summary of his disturbing positions on justice reform, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, reproductive freedom, and more, in this article.

What you can do:

Call your Senators. They are the ones who will vote on the nomination.

Senator Harris has already spoken out against Barr and said she will vote against him. What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for speaking out against Attorney General nominee William Barr and saying you’ll vote against him. He’s the wrong person for the job, for all the reasons you’ve said – he won’t uphold the law in a way to protect us.

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

Senator Feinstein has made statements indicating that she doesn’t favor Barr, but as of January 17 she hasn’t said so explicitly and also hasn’t said how she’ll vote. What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please speak out and commit to vote against Attorney General nominee William Barr and saying you’ll vote against him. He’s the wrong person for the job. He won’t uphold the law in a way to protect us.

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

Spread the word to everyone you know, send them the link to this article, and if they don’t have their Senators’ numbers on speed dial, give them this link.