Kill the Tax Scam Bill

There is widespread agreement among experts that the tax scam is a horror show. Huge tax cuts to the hyper-rich are paid for by the poor and middle class. It will take Obamacare down. It will do nothing to help our economy. Inequality – already bad – will get worse. The racial wealth gap will widen.

Here’s a partial list of the folks who will lose under the tax bill: women, seniors, students paying back their loans, teachers paying out of pocket for school supplies, those with incomes less than $75K, non-rich families with children, those facing high medical costs, people who need health insurance. In other words, all of us.

Hard to believe something this awful could become the law of the land very soon – but it absolutely can, and we are getting perilously close.

With our constituent power, we showed up, called, rallied, put our bodies on the line – and we killed Trumpcare. We must do it again with the tax scam! Here are some some actions you can take:

  • Use Indivisible’s tool to call fellow progressives in key #TrumpTaxScam target states and patch them through to their Senators. Indivisible HQ has brought back a super effective peer-to-peer calling tool from the TrumpCare fight so you can take action to stop this bill by reaching out to progressive constituents in Alaska, Arizona, and West Virginia. Find out more here and sign up to start calling! And, the IEB cookie competition is back and better than ever!
  • Phone bank with your East Bay neighbors to mobilize red state progressives. Phone banks are happening in Berkeley November 25 and 26. Find out more and RSVP here.
  • As Ben Wikler from MoveOn has instructed: MELT THE PHONE LINES the whole week of November 27th, when the bill will probably come to the floor of the Senate. We especially need to demand that our wonderful Democratic senators withhold consent. Scripts, numbers, and info here.
  • Come to the UN Plaza in San Francisco for a Tax Heist Rally from 12-1:00PM on December 4. IEB is partnering with Indivisible Sonoma County and Indivisible Sausalito so we can deliver a letter to Senator Harris, tell our stories in the public square, and make some noise! If you want to know more, or join the planning committee, come see us in the #tax-scam-action channel on slack.

Making a Difference – An Easy Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– By Ted Lam

We are Indivisible, and Indestructible!

IEB has been in close touch with Indivisible Sonoma County throughout the terrible fires that have devastated Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino this October. Some ISoCo members and leaders have lost their homes and all they owned; everyone has been deeply affected, as have their whole communities. The following was written by an Indivisible leader from the town of Glen Ellen, California:

When the fires started, I was out of town, working with a client on their annual conference. My daughter’s call woke me Sunday night. She was frantic. “Dad, Mom can see fire through the neighbors’ trees and we’re trying to get the things we need to take with us. What do you need us to take?”

Half-asleep, I tried to think of what we absolutely had to have and talked with them as they raced, grabbing what came to mind as essential, hurrying to get out. Soon they left and I went back to sleep, hoping that fleeing would have just been a precaution. Instead, the next morning my wife’s text began, “Honey, I’m afraid we lost everything.”
After the initial shock, I was just grateful that my family had escaped. They were safe. The dog was with them. That was what mattered to me. Life would go on. We even found out later that the studio and barn had made it through. The house, though, had burned to the ground.

In 2016 this same conference was in November, right after the election. It occurs to me that I was more distraught last year. Restless with dread about Trump and the damage he would cause, I couldn’t sleep, imagining only the worst. Having the conference frame both events, I realized now that I had lost my home two years in a row.

Last year that home was my country. This year it was my house. Losing my country was and is the bigger threat. But I’m rebuilding both, dammit. However long it takes and no matter how hard it is to do.

Our family is lucky. We’re all safe. We were insured. We have emergency funds that we can draw on. But there were thousands here who were impacted as much or more and have less to fall back on. They could use your help. Here are the causes that members of Indivisible groups in Sonoma County are supporting:

Financial:

Volunteerism:

Thank you. We are Indivisible, and Indestructible!

Watching the Electors

When voter suppression tactics prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote, election outcomes fail to represent the true will of the people. – Election Watch program overview

2016 was the first presidential election after the Supreme Court gutted key protections of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder (2013). Free to alter voting laws and practices with no oversight or system of ensuring that their revisions weren’t discriminatory, many localities snuck through changes that went unnoticed and unchallenged. These changes, including strict voter ID requirements, closing down polling places, purging voters, and cutting back early voting and voter registration, disproportionately impacted people of color and young or low-income people, and severely curtailed voters’ access to the ballot.  Election WatchElection Watch, a non-partisan voting rights program, has the ambitious goal of mobilizing trained lawyer volunteers in every county or county-equivalent in the country (count them: 3,144!) to monitor and defend voting rights year-round. The new program, run by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation (L4GG) in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Voting Rights Institute, will “monitor, report on, … and address problematic decisions made by local election boards across the country on a year-round basis.”

Election Watch will train volunteer lawyers on the ground to monitor local election boards all year and detect rights violations. With this early alert system flagging potential issues as they happen, EW can proactively address problems before damage has been done (i.e., before an election). A national steering committee of experts, including representatives of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and the American Constitution Society Voting Rights Institute, will review the reports, and EW will prioritize and determine next steps for each.

As Trump and the GOP cheat to pack the federal courts with more and more far-right wing judges, it’s clearer than ever that we the people have to educate ourselves about voting issues, and step up to watch over the officials who run the elections in our states, towns, and counties.

How to help:

  • Are you a lawyer, law student, or legal professional interested in volunteering with Election Watch? If so, email me for more information, learn more at the Election Watch program overview, or fill out the signup form.
  • Know any legal eagles, including in other parts of the country, who might be a good fit for Election Watch? Send them the program overview or my email address.
  • Donations to support the program are welcome.
  • Non-lawyers are invaluable in this fight! Learn all you can about your state and local election officials and bodies, and help monitor them.

By Heidi Rand

 

IEB Text Banks with Rapid Resist

In the first week of October, IEB members held a text bank at Drake’s Dealership in Oakland and enjoyed pizza, beer, and each other’s company! We teamed up with Oakland-based Rapid Resist, the “immune system for the resistance,” to text voters in Oceanside, CA, and Tuscon, AZ, asking them to call on their members of Congress to resist Trump’s tax cuts by voting NO on the house budget resolution. We also texted voters in Modesto to inform them about Tony Madrigal’s campaign for Modesto City Council, District 2.

The eight-month-old Rapid Resist was created in order to leverage blue state energy to support resistance work across the nation and utilizes a peer-to-peer texting system to recruit for big events. Rapid Resist focuses on lawmakers who may be a key swing vote, have moderate constituencies, are committee chairpeople, and/or who are vocal critics of the Trump agenda. Rapid Resist utilizes the texting app Hustle, which keeps the phone numbers of all involved parties private.

Those who were already familiar with Rapid Resist and Hustle got right down to business, while folks new to these platforms received direct training and support from Nick Travaglini of IEB’s Governance Committee. Rapid Resist’s founder, Yoni Landau, also joined the event and provided technical support and encouragement.

We’ll be gathering for more text banks at rotating locations around the East Bay every first Tuesday of the month (barring holidays). Join us on November 7! Time and location TBD.

Help the OtO Team Find Partners

The mission of IEB’s Outreach to Organizations (OtO) team is to build partnerships with and support effective community groups. Two great examples of organizations that have been working in the trenches for years and that OtO has been working with: the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which among other things fights to save SNAP (food stamps) funding, and Oakland Rising, which organizes in Oakland around immigration,  criminal justice reform, and many other issues.

We invite anyone interested in strengthening IEB’s connections to activist community groups to join the OtO team! With more liaisons we can inform IEB members about terrific grassroots organizations fighting for justice and equality and against the Trump agenda; and we can increase our support and mobilize IEBers to take action on state or local policies, and to get involved in issues that the most vulnerable populations in our community face.

You can help! Are you a member of – or do you know about – a grassroots group that’s mobilizing its community around progressive issues or values? We’d love to hear from you! Please contact @tonihenle on Slack or email Toni  at ieb.outreach@gmail.com with your ideas and input.

ACCFB
IEB at AFFCB event to educate community about the farm bill and SNAP

Take Back the Vote National Conference

Take Back the Vote national conference

The California Election Integrity Coalition, a non-partisan voting rights organization, will host its Second Annual Take Back The Vote National Conference on October 7-8 in Berkeley, CA at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street, corner of Ashby Avenue (near Ashby BART station).

Over 30 nationally recognized election integrity leaders from across the country will convene to discuss the current crises in our elections. Among our speakers or guests are computer scientists, professors, lawyers, journalists and election officials as well as federal, state and local legislators. They’ll present their findings, answer questions, and organize a national effort to restore publicly verified democracy in the United States. 

Speakers include Drs. Barbara Simons and David Jefferson (Verified Voting), John Brakey (AZ), Lulu Friesdat (NY), Jan BenDor (MI), Lu Aptifer (MA), Karen McKim (WI), Dr. Laura Pressley (TX), Jonathan Simon, and more. See a list of speakers and topics here. Co-sponsors include the California Election Integrity Coalition, Voting Rights Task Force, Ballots for Bernie, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, and Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists.

Click here for more information or to register. Conference tickets are $25 per day, or $40 for both days if purchased in advance. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. You can help! The conference is funded entirely by individual contributions and organized by volunteers. Email info@nvrtf.org to find out how to donate or volunteer.

Phone Bank to Save the ACA

By Ann Daniels

By now you’ve read about the Senate’s heartless WealthCare bill that will gut Medicaid, send health insurance premiums skyrocketing, cause 15 million people to lose health care by next year, punish people who don’t keep continuous coverage by preventing them from getting insurance for six months, and many other terribles.

This bill is evil. It is so cravenly, obviously evil that even Senate Republicans are starting to admit that it will do nothing to help their constituents. But they’re not getting there on their own – the sustained calls and protests by constituents across the country are demonstrating to Republicans that passing this bill will be political suicide.

We need to flip three Republicans to kill the Senate bill. Some sources report that Senators like Rand Paul also oppose the bill, but we can’t count on them. They oppose the bill because it’s not cruel enough, and there’s still time for the majority leaders to get their support by amending the bill to make it worse.

That’s why Indivisible East Bay’s primary action this week is phone banking into states with Republican Senators, urging constituents there to call their representatives and demand that they vote NO on repealing the ACA.

Join us on Wednesday, June 28, from 3-7 for a joint phone bank with Indivisible Berkeley at the Ed Roberts Campus (please use the link to RSVP if possible). Or use one of these tools to locate other phone banks this week!

Wednesday, June 28, 3-7 PM (come for part or all!)
Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA 94703
Bring a phone, headphones and a laptop or tablet! Training and refreshments will be provided.
Ed Roberts Campus is directly above Ashby BART. An elevator takes you directly there from the BART station and the campus is accessible. Parking is available in the ERC lot or across the street at BART.

CA-13, IEB answering Barbara Lee’s call to action

Congresswoman Barbara Lee invited about 40 local grassroots leaders to a workshop Saturday morning to learn skills to take back to our groups so that we can all contribute to the push to turn more California districts blue in 2018. The Democrats are aiming to flip at least 7 of 14!

Nicole Derse and Addisu Dimisse of the 2012 Obama campaign talked about the importance of using our own stories to make connections with others whether knocking on doors in Turlock or recruiting volunteers in Oakland.

And we heard some specifics about how we can help  from The California Democratic Party’s organizer, Lucia Nuñez of district 10, where they have already identified a lot of voters looking to replace Jeff Denham, particularly after he voted for huge health care cuts in exchange for tax cuts for the wealthy.

District swinging isn’t something we’ve focused on much at Indivisible East Bay so far, although it’s something we all care about and many of us are working on at other organizations. But we at IEB, as well as other blue chapters across the country (and those at the Indivisible Guide national) have been looking at how we might put an Indivisible spin on this work—otherwise we might as well leave it to other organizations.

One clear way to do that is by doing that work along with our own members of Congress as part of building those relationship. Whenever we ask our reps. what we can do to help them, or to show our support, they talk about taking back the House. Rep. Swalwell, as it happens, hosted a phone bank for Jon Ossoff of Georgia also on Saturday.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 6.37.24 PM

So at Rep. Lee’s prodding, we’re planning our first official red district field trip. The California Dems. are canvassing and registering voters in District 10 every Sunday throughout Resistance Summer. We’ve looking at coordinating with them to send a group to participate (tentative date: July 16). Please fill out this form if you’re interested! https://goo.gl/Dk5ud3

Come table with IEB in El Cerrito

Meet new people and spread the Indivisible East Bay message to El Cerrito!

El Cerrito July 4th Indivisible East Bay Booth
7/4/2017 10 am to 5 pm

Booth #55, located at Pomona Ave at Moeser

Description of the task(s) needed:  Help at Indivisible booth to talk one-on-one with people at the Fair. Answer questions, give out information about Indivisible and our agenda, local Indivisible and other groups and actions, etc.  Also, eat corn-dogs and/or other fun fair food (our booth is mere steps from the Food Court).

RSVP to Outreach co-lead Heidi Rand: heidirand@gmail.com

July 4th booth

Any special requirements, such as heavy lifting, moving equipment or tables, standing for long periods, public speaking or other: Speaking one-on-one with people who come to the table, knowledge about Indivisible generally and your specific group if you want to recruit members. Knowledge about Indivisible and ally group activities, actions, agendas, etc.

Is the event location wheelchair accessible/are there volunteer options for people with disabilities?  Yes, it is wheelchair accessible, and we will have room in the booth to accommodate wheelchairs. We welcome volunteers with disabilities.