Let’s Show Trump What Resistance to Offshore Drilling Looks Like!

Thirteen hundred miles of coastline on the West Coast – over a thousand in California alone, counting the Channel Islands – would be threatened by the a Trump administration’s proposal to expand offshore oil drilling. And yet, the Republicans have scheduled only one public hearing on this outrageous threat to the environment and public health. A coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing to protest; join and make your voice heard!

Trump recently announced his disastrous plan to hand over the Pacific Ocean – as well as the Arctic, Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico – to oil companies keen to expand offshore drilling off the California coast for the first time in over 30 years. Read the oily details of the proposed plan in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s press release.

Offshore drilling is a nightmare for people and the planet. It poisons our oceans, covers our beaches in oil, and directly threatens California’s superior coastal economy. It also deepens our dependence on fossil fuels, driving the climate change that accelerates sea level rise and fuels wildfires.

Join the fight to protect the California coast from new offshore drilling! Let’s show Trump and his oil cronies what resistance to their unending quest to wreck the planet looks like. Join us Thursday, February 8 in Sacramento to tell the Trump administration that offshore drilling and the oil spills, pipelines, and climate chaos that come with it are not welcome off our coast.

WHAT: Protest February 8 Against Offshore Drilling Off the California Coast – rally featuring powerful speakers, music, art, marching in the streets and lots of chanting

WHEN/WHERE: Thursday, February 8, 1:30–7:00 PM:

  • 1:30 PM – Meet at the North Steps of the California State Capitol, 1100 L St., Sacramento, for a press conference and rally
  • 2:30 PM – March to the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I Street, for the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) public meeting
  • 3:00 PM – Enter the meeting and let BOEM know that new drilling is not welcome off our coast or in any of our oceans.

GETTING THERE: On February 8 there will be buses to Sacramento from multiple cities including San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura / Santa Barbara. This is in the organizing stage, so sign up on the Facebook event page to get details as they develop.

Hosting Organizations: Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch California, Oceana Southern California, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples, Save Our Shores, Sierra Club California, and other partnering organizations.

More details about the protest and RSVP here.

 

End the Tampon Tax

By Rosemary Jordan

California Assembly Bill 9, which would have exempted menstrual products from state sales tax, was introduced before the State Assembly in 2016 but has been held back by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Women across California have gotten LOUD about the absurdity of classifying these products as “luxury” items, and now we have a tiny window to advance a new bill (number pending) being worked on now.

There is still a chance we can #endthetampontax this year. To do that, we need EVERYONE – yes, that means YOU! – to make your voice heard by the Fab Four: Assembly Appropriations Committee Chair Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, Senator (and incoming State Senate President Pro Tempore) Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, and Governor Jerry Brown.

Please call, fax, email, post, visit them in Sacramento or send an urgent postcard. Better yet – do all of the above, and spread the word! Their contact info is below.

What to say:

My name is _____ and my zip code is ______. Taxing menstrual products is unjust and a further burden on those living in deep poverty. Please work to create a solution that advances gender equity. We can’t wait another year for equality and we’re convinced the resources can be found to make up for the lost tax revenue. Where there’s a will for justice, there is always a way. Please be a leader and a role model for equality and get this done! Thank you

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher:
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 2114, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0080
Tel: (916) 319-2080; Fax: (916) 319-2180
District Office: 1350 Front Street, Suite 6022, San Diego, CA 92101
Tel: 619-338-8090; Fax: 619-338-8099

Senator Toni Atkins:
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 4072, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4039; Fax: (916) 651-4939
San Diego District Office: 1350 Front Street, Suite 4061, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 645-3133; Fax: (619) 645-3144

Speaker Anthony Rendon:
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 219, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 319-2063; Fax: (916) 319-2163
District Office: 12132 South Garfield Avenue, South Gate, CA 90280
Phone: (562) 529-3250; Fax: (562) 529-3255

Governor Edmund G. Brown:
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841; Fax: (916) 558-3160

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.

Who’s Endorsing Contra Costa Sheriff Livingston? And Why?

By Champagne Brown and Judith Tannenbaum

Although the filing period to elect the Contra Costa Sheriff hasn’t even opened yet, some local Democratic representatives have already endorsed incumbent Sheriff David Livingston in his re-election bid. This is the Sheriff who:

Several groups working on criminal justice and immigration issues, including Together We Will,  are concerned about Democratic representatives supporting Sheriff Livingston’s re-election. They also ask what effect the endorsements, made before the February 12 to March 9 filing period, will have on any potential progressive candidate who might consider running.

Although it’s sadly likely Sheriff Livingston will run unopposed, we must speak out against his record and make sure none of our Democratic representatives supports him. Check the current list of endorsers on Livingston’s website to see whether any of them represents you (find your state representative here; find your Member of Congress here). If so, please call and demand that they retract their endorsement of a candidate who does not represent the values of their constituents or party.  If your representative has not endorsed Livingston, please call to thank them and to ask that they NOT endorse him. See below for sample call scripts and contact info for both situations.

Endorsers as of January 23:

What to say:

Hi. My name is ___, my zip code is ___. I’m calling to express my disappointment that _________ has endorsed Sheriff Livingston for reelection. It’s shocking to me that  _________ would endorse a candidate for Sheriff whose record doesn’t align with the values of their constituents or party. It’s especially shocking that this endorsement appears before the filing period has even opened. I ask that ____________  retract their endorsement immediately. Thank you.

If none of the endorsers represents you, call your Member of Congress and state representatives (use the links above to find them if you don’t know them; contact info below as well).

What to say:

Hi. My name is ___, my zip code is ___. I’m shocked at the local Democrats who have already endorsed Sheriff Livingston for re-election, even before the filing period. Please don’t endorse Livingston. I hope that instead you’ll encourage progressive Democratic candidates to run against the Sheriff. I also ask you to speak with Congressmember Mike Thompson, State Senators Glazer and Dodd, and State Assemblymembers Frazier and Grayson to urge them to retract their endorsements.

Members of Congress

State Representatives

Contra Costa County Supervisors

Champagne Brown is a Social Service Worker and Community Activist who is a member of the Contra Costa Racial Justice Coalition and Black Women Organized for Political Action, where she serves as the Political Education Chair. 

Judith Tannenbaum is a writer and teacher. Her books include “Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin.”

Graphic © Together We Will Contra Costa

Cupcakes and Concerns: IEB visits Senator Feinstein’s office

Senator Feinstein office visit
Photograph by Catya de Neergaard

By Catya de Neergaard

Thirteen members of Indivisible East Bay joined Senator Feinstein’s State Director, Sean Elsbernd, on January 11 for a visit complete with IEB birthday cupcakes and and a list of concerns. Unlike recent previous visits where we went over a long list of issues, the focus was to delve deeper into some of the issues with all participants invited to share if they chose.  

We presented Sean with the following asks and he took notes:

A Few Highlights

Sometimes, we swing for the fences. One request was to ask Senator Feinstein to ask UC Berkeley to do better at delivering legal services to their undocumented student population, to prevent cases such as that of Luis Mora. We saw this as a way to reduce cases for the Senator’s staff; however, Sean thought this particular ask was not a priority for Senator Feinstein at this time. Similarly, we asked if Senator Feinstein could look into the asylum case of the Vasquez family in Texas, as it appears that DHS/CBP is in violation of court orders and policy pronouncements from its former director about how to treat asylum seekers with minor children. The reply was that the Senator is helping many immigrant families in California which is her constituency, not Texas. Well, you never know until you ask.

One of my longtime concerns has been healthcare for all. At our November and December lobby visits, IEB asked Senator Feinstein to support and consider co-sponsoring Senator Sanders’ Medicare for All (i.e. Single Payer) Healthcare bill. Previously Sean had stonewalled, allowing that the Senator might speak at some point with Senator Sanders. When I brought up the subject this time, he summarized her concerns about Single Payer as follows: (1) how shall we pay for it, (2) how to transition for people in company plans, (3) how people can keep their doctor of choice, and (4) a series of implementation questions. Regarding how to fix the mandate hole in the ACA, Sean mentioned that Senator Feinstein had spoken with Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, and he had offered recommendations. Next time, I hope we can present answers to these questions as further evidence for Single Payer.

IEB member Donna raised questions about improving the Judiciary Committee process. Sean said that like many other things discussed, committee process will improve if and when the Democrats take the Senate. So, let’s take that note into 2018.

In addition to eating cupcakes, we thanked Senator Feinstein especially for voting NO on the December 22 Continuing Resolution to fund the government because it did not include DACA or long term CHIP funding, for bravely releasing the Fusion GPS transcript, and for opposing Trump’s effort to open additional territory to offshore drilling.

Catya de Neergaard is a gardener, artist, and environmental activist working within a variety of organizations including Quaker Earthcare Witness, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Kensington Green, and, of course, Indivisible.

Protect Offshore Drilling Regulations!

By Christina Tarr

It seems it’s not enough for the Interior Department proposing to open all coastal waters of the United States (including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge but excluding Florida, apparently) to leasing for continental shelf oil and gas drilling (don’t forget to comment on that, by the way, and note that there will be public hearings on leasing for offshore drilling, including one in Sacramento on February 8). Now, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is asking to roll back offshore drilling safety regulations — the regulations that were put in place following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This is part and parcel of  Trump’s effort to cut back on all environmental protections to increase profits for his friends in the oil and gas business. Naturally, groups like the American Petroleum Institute and the National Ocean Industries Association are in favor.

A few things (among others) that the proposed rules do:

  • Delete a requirement that drillers propose to use only a safe amount of pressure in new wells
  • Loosen controls on blowout preventers, which seal off wells in case of an accident, and which currently are required to have a back-up plan in case of malfunction
  • Amend a standard that currently requires that equipment demonstrate that it can withstand a surge in pressure
  • Do away with third-party certification, which requires that an independent party confirm that equipment meets standards

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which was created by the Obama Administration after the Deepwater Horizon spill, was never intended to promote oil production. It was kept separate from the leasing arm of the Interior Department to ensure that safety would not be compromised for profit. With these regulation changes, the BSEE now moves into a role as a promoter of industry, leaving no agency whose sole role is to promote safety. If we know anything about pipelines, it’s that they leak. The danger is increased exponentially when you are drilling miles offshore underwater. In essence, experts have concluded, the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon spill could have been prevented – and the proposed changes in regulations favor the oil industry and money over safety and the environment.

You can read a description of the proposed changes here, and you have until January 29, 11:59 PM EST to submit comments protesting the proposed rules. Submit comments here, and also read comments that have been made already.

Sample comment:

Do not weaken the current regulations on offshore drilling. The current regulations incorporate valuable lessons learned from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, when 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the sea, killing nearly a million seabirds and still causing effects in the Gulf. The proposed rules loosen controls on blowout preventers and third party certification that safety devices will work under the extreme conditions in which they are placed. The impact of another spill like the Deepwater Horizon, which the new rules practically guarantee, will far outweigh the benefits of reducing operating costs for oil companies that can well afford them.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement should be committed to the safety of offshore drilling operations, not with oil company profits. Strong regulation and an independent BSEE are needed to ensure that offshore drilling can coexist with other important uses of our coastline, including recreation, tourism, fishing and wilderness.

You can also sign up to receive more information about, or help plan, actions during the first two weeks of February to protest plans for the huge new federal offshore drilling program.

Christina Tarr is a local librarian with an interest in birds and wild places.

Trump’s Dangerous Census Pick

By Rob Schoenbeck

Not content with GOP efforts to suppress the votes of low-income Americans and people of color at the state level, the Trump Administration has been trying to position the 2020 US Census as yet another arena where Republicans can make some Americans count and others not — this time literally.

The administration is planning to add a question about immigration status to the upcoming Census, a move that census experts and civil rights advocates agree would likely intimidate immigrants into not responding. At the same time, they have failed to ramp up Census funding for 2020, which will disproportionately impact the counting of lower-income and minority populations, who tend to be harder to reach.

Now they want to appoint Thomas Brunell, a political scientist inexperienced in civil service or government statistics, to the position of Deputy Director of the Census Bureau. The Deputy Director position does not require confirmation by the Senate; the position of Director does, but they are leaving the Director position unfilled. Oh, and just coincidentally we’re sure, Brunell has testified in support of gerrymandered Republican districts, drawing on his contrarian body of work supporting “non-competitive” elections. He’s even authored a book called “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”

Leadership positions in the Census have typically been nonpartisan and given to people with relevant expertise: for example, George W. Bush’s head of the Census had extensive government and statistical experience. Beyond the apparent politicization of career civil service roles, having an inexperienced Deputy Director handling budget and operations for the 2020 Census will likely lead to more problems with the data and undercounting of targeted populations.

An accurate Census population count is important, because what’s at stake are electoral college votes, congressional representation in the House, and the distribution of hundreds of billions in federal funding for things like education and health care.

Take Action:

Call Senator Feinstein’s office to express your opposition to Brunell’s appointment. 415-393-0707; DC: 202-224-3841. (Senator Kamala Harris has already expressed concern regarding Brunell’s appointment). If you have to leave a message, please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied.

What to say:

My name is ________________ and my ZIP Code is _________.  I’m calling to express my opposition to Thomas Brunell as Deputy Director of the Census Bureau. He has proven he is hostile to objective and fair redistricting efforts. He also doesn’t have the necessary experience for the job. We need an objective, experienced statistician and career civil servant to keep the 2020 Census on track. This appointment of a deputy instead of a director for the Census (bypassing Senate confirmation) is an attempt by the administration to skirt the “Advice and Consent” requirement of the appointments clause of the Constitution so I ask that my senator speak out against this on the floor of the Senate.

A Year of IEB

The news cycle in the first few weeks of 2018 has been especially unforgiving. With the White House imploding under the weight of its own gossip while the Congressional GOP relaxes and plots its next moves, the fresh start promised by the New Year feels anything but.

Despite all of that, 2017 also saw IEB come into being, and we persisted through the year: on the streets, on the phone, sending texts, meeting Members of Congress, packing town halls… we kept the government on notice, and all it takes to see the size of our impact is a quick glance down the administration’s list of unfulfilled promises. If you hadn’t come out, if you hadn’t texted or written postcards or donated money, everything on that list would be part of our reality now.

With 2018 off to a start defined by the worst excesses of its predecessor, we thought it would be a good idea to look back and really take stock of what we did and how we did it in 2017, a year that rewrote the rulebook on our understanding of the American republic. The list below lays it out: We were there when it counted, and we made our voices heard.

Holding Power to Account

We spent a lot of time meeting and cultivating close relationships with our Members of Congress, and we wrote it all down.

Raising Our Voices

In 2017, IEB and its members were unafraid to raise their voices about the issues facing the country today. From phone banks to postcard campaigns to donation drives to knitting patterns, we used tools from every corner of our arsenal to keep the Trump administration on its toes.

Shining a Light

Information is power – so we made it our business to read, learn, and share our knowledge.

Building Our Community

The progress IEB makes in 2018 will rely on the relationships between and among its members. That’s why it’s so important that we meet, and keep meeting, and so wonderful when we do: we are building a community founded on political spirit that will outlast the current darkness and teach all of us lessons in how to be the best Americans we can.

Flipping California District 21 Blue

By Ted Lam

The California Congressional District 21 (CD-21) Action Coalition held its first meeting on January 13 at the Pinole Public Library. With over 50 attendees and a full slate of speakers, the energy in the room was amazing. Kook Huber of Organizing for Action (OFA) Contra Costa stated the Coalition’s goal: to flip the House – change the Republican majority to a Democratic majority – and said that it would achieve that goal by focusing on certain California Congressional Districts. 

Fran Schreiber and Laura Cho represented Working America, a nationwide membership organization (with 3 million members!) that focuses on pro-labor advocacy and on political work with local groups. Working America’s election work includes canvassing year-round on jobs, the economy, health care, and local issues (not guns or abortion), in addition to gathering information about people’s own priorities. Canvassers also solicit membership, which is very successful. Working America collects information about candidates on critical issues and reconnects with the people they have already canvassed to share the information. In June 2017 Working America opened up an office in Modesto with nine paid staff. They’ve knocked on 45,000 doors and had 27,000 conversations. All of their paid canvassers are bilingual. In August they opened a CD-21 office. So far, the CD-21 recruitment rate has been almost 90%, which they believe is because Working America asks what issues people care about – something people in these small towns have not been asked.

Sue Hamill, Bay Area Chair (Region 4) of the CA Democratic Party, Rural Caucus, opened by saying “It’s 2018! The House is within reach. But we can’t take anything for granted. The ground game will be critical.” She enumerated several key California districts including CD-1 (Doug LaMalfa), CD-10 (Jeff Denham, widely considered a target), CD-4 (Tom McClintock; she recommended Sierra Forward as a well-organized progressive group in a purple district with a lot of Bay Area transplants). For more information about the California Democratic Party, contact Clark Lee. The proposed CA Democratic platform is open for comments until January 24.

Kook wrapped up by inviting more partners to join the CD-21 Action Coalition so it can efficiently send resources – including but not limited to canvassing – to CD-21. We hope Kook will be the guest speaker to talk about the CD-21 Action Coalition at February’s Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting.

For more information or to participate in the Coalition with the CA-11 Team (everyone is welcome), please message @Ted L on Slack, or email him. 

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

Congressman DeSaulnier Holds Tax Town Hall

By Catherine de Neergaard

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier’s (CA-11) January 13 Tax Town Hall was standing room only, with more than 400 people packed into the El Cerrito Community Center and spilling out the doors. Many elected officials were there, including Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, who introduced DeSaulnier.

In fine form, DeSaulnier focused on why the Republican Tax Scam Bill is such a disaster for everyone except the very wealthiest (the so-called 1%) and why it is so important to take back the House and Senate in 2018 and reverse the tax scam. In DeSaulnier’s view, getting out the vote is key to winning in November, which in turn is crucial to recover democracy and economic equality.

DeSaulnier issued a rallying cry: “American citizens have to fight now for their democracy,” and said he’d like to see Contra Costa County come alive with activism, words that resounded with the members of Indivisible and several other local progressive groups. He closed with a story about the advice Frederick Douglass in the 19th century gave a young man asking how to live. Douglass replied, “Agitate, agitate, agitate.” Amen to that!

DeSaulnier’s presentation well reflected Indivisible’s agenda, values, and policy goals. Unlike Senators Feinstein and Harris, he voted NO on the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act adding $100 BILLION to the already bloated $600 BILLION-plus military budget. Continuing his tradition of blending activism with proselytizing policy wonkery, DeSaulnier opened the Town Hall by recommending that people read “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” by Jane Mayer and “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America” by Nancy MacLean to really understand what is going on in America now. He also recommended Thomas Piketty’s much-lauded book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” to, among other things, understand why the ‘trickle down effect’ (the theory behind the Reagan era tax cuts for the rich and the current tax scam bill) doesn’t work.

DeSaulnier’s town hall was one of many across the country given by House Democrats. In California, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) held her “GOP Tax Scam Teach-In” at Laney College; House Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) and Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5) presented their teach-in together in San Francisco. You can watch it here.

If you missed it, the Facebook video broadcast of DeSaulnier’s Town Hall is well worth watching, and his excellent Power Point program should be available soon on his website.

Catherine de Neergaard is a gardener, artist, and environmental Activist working within a variety of organizations including Quaker Earthcare Witness, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Kensington Green, and, of course, Indivisible.

Photograph by George McRae

Artists for Humanity Benefit for Detained Immigrant Bail Fund

By Sherry Drobner

Every year Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains thousands of immigrants nationwide, including many lawful US residents, for reasons ranging from anonymous tips to criminal arrests. The immigrants are incarcerated in detention centers; as Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) puts it, this practice “removes people from their families and communities, endangers their houses, jobs, public benefits and healthcare, and prevents them from adequately defending their right to remain in their home.“

Detained immigrants aren’t provided an attorney to navigate the legal system, and most can’t afford the $3,411 average bond to be released while waiting for a hearing. It’s not unusual for immigrants to wait years for a hearing while remaining behind bars, away from family and unable to work. In 2014, more than 50% of detainees in Northern California had lived in the United States for 10 years or more; 77% had families in the United States; and 65% had jobs before entering detention. Families are literally broken apart by the system. To address this injustice, CIVIC initiated the Bay Area Bond Fund, a revolving fund to ensure that immigrants can fight their deportation cases outside the confines of jail, in their communities, reunited with their family and friends.

Artists for Humanity, a local artist and cultural activist group, is holding a benefit to support the Bay Area Bond Fund on January 28, from 2:30-5:30 PM at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley.  The concert features dancers Calpulli Huey Papalotl Cultural Group; musicians Dance Chant; jazz band Humanistic featuring Otoe Mori on saxophone, Greg German on drums, and Vince Khoe on keys; and powerful poetry by local artist and activist Pennie Opal Plant. Suggested donation $10-$30. See more information about the program here.

Sherry Drobner is an adult literacy advocate in the city of Richmond.