IEB shows up big time for January 3 Day of Action

Whose House? Our House!

If they ever turn the story of the 2018 midterm elections into a movie, the culmination of the film will certainly be January 3, 2019. After the stunning Democratic victory in November — a Blue Wave that resulted in a gain of 40 seats and control of the House — a colorful, diverse and significantly more progressive Democratic party strode triumphantly into the Capitol building for the start of the new 116th Congress.

Not coincidentally, it was also the day that Indivisible had declared as a National Day of Action, an opportunity for local Indivisible groups across the country to meet with their local members of Congress or one of their staff to thank them for their past work when appropriate, and to challenge them to push for a progressive agenda going forward.

The National Day of Action was a huge success; Indivisible National counted 168 events in 31 states, its biggest single day of action yet, and the events made national news and lit up social media. As you would expect, Indivisible East Bay made its presence known here in the Bay Area, organizing and/or participating in three separate events.

CA-11 (Mark DeSaulnier)

More than two dozen people showed up for a noon gathering outside Representative Mark DeSaulnier‘s Richmond office. Every attendee was given one of our spectacular new Blue Wave commemorative t-shirts — paid for by a fundraiser we conducted prior to the event.

IEB members Ted, Heidi, Toni, George and Ted strike a pose
IEB members Ted, Heidi, Toni, George and Ted strike a pose

 

IEB's new Blue Wave Commemorative t-shirts make their public debut!
IEB’s new Blue Wave Commemorative t-shirts make their public debut!

The mild and sunny weather perfectly matched the festive mood of the participants. DeSaulnier was in Washington, of course, but a member of his staff graciously agreed to join us.

As DeSaulnier reliably supports most of IEB’s progressive positions, we didn’t spend much time on persuasion. Rather, we focused on thanks and encouragement. CA-11 team co-lead Ted Lam made an opening statement thanking DeSaulnier for his past work and for making himself so accessible to his constituents. Ted also noted that we had supported his re-election and put in hundreds — if not thousands — of hours to help elect him and other progressives to Congress.

Next up, IEB outreach team co-lead Toni presented DeSaulnier’s staff with a “Back to Congress” backpack, covered with buttons in support of proposed legislation including H.R. 1 and the Green New Deal, and packed with items such as an “Erase Corruption” eraser, a “Restore the Rule of Law” ruler and two of the Blue Wave t-shirts.

Our "Back to Congress" backpack
Our “Back to Congress” backpack

Most notably, the backpack included a letter outlining IEB’s priorities for the 116th Congress. Top of list: H.R. 1, the Democrats’ democracy reform bill which encompassing (1) voter empowerment and access, (2) limiting money in politics, and (3) strengthening ethics and reducing corruption in Congress. The letter cited IEB’s  high expectations for DeSaulnier and urged him not to compromise on the values of H.R. 1. We also offered to meet with him and/or his staff on a regular basis to work to accomplish these goals.

DeSaulnier’s staffer offered thanks on the representative’s behalf, and our event concluded with IEB member George’s light-hearted theatrical reading of our backpack letter, followed by our final thank-yous.

CA-13 (Barbara Lee)

California’s 13th Congressional District, represented by Barbara Lee, benefits from coverage by multiple Indivisible groups, including two of the region’s largest: our own Indivisible East Bay, and Indivisible Berkeley. These groups joined forces with Indivisible Euclid and Indivisible Alameda for Impeachment for a 5 PM event held outside Lee’s office at the Dellums Federal Building in Oakland.

IEB and other Indivisible groups outside Rep. Lee's Oakland office
IEB and other Indivisible groups outside Rep. Lee’s Oakland office

The centerpiece of the gathering was a series of speeches by Indivisible members highlighting their participation in building the Blue Wave — especially via the canvassing done by IB in CA-10 and by IEB in CA-21. The speakers also expressed their hopes for what the 116th Congress will accomplish, focusing on (as with CA-11’s message) H.R. 1 and the Green New Deal.

Following the speeches, Congressional Aide Chrissy Anecito joined the group and read a statement from Lee’s office.

CA-15 (Eric Swalwell)

Meeting at the Castro Valley District office of Eric Swalwell, IEB members presented District Director Mallory De Lauro with a backpack to welcome the Representative back to the new blue Congress. As with CA-11, the backpack contained appropriately labelled school items. A message urged Swalwell to stand firm on all parts of H.R. 1 and to not provide funding for an immoral border wall.

IEB members Ward and Andrea meet with Swalwell District Director Mallory (on left)
IEB members Ward and Andrea meet with Swalwell District Director Mallory (on left)

Ted Lam, Nick Travaglini and Ward Kanowsky contributed to this report. CA-11 photos courtesy of Mary Martin DeShaw.

Face-to-face with Rep DeSaulnier

This first-hand account was written by CA-11 team members Toni Henle, Ted Lam, and Kristen Law

Representative Mark DeSaulnier met with us on December 7 to discuss his plans for the new blue Congress, and our request that he support Indivisible East Bay’s planned January 3, 2019 rally. The rally will be part of Indivisible National’s coordinated day of action at Members of Congress’s offices nationwide as the new Congress convenes. One primary aim of the January 3 rallies is to urge the House to pass H.R. 1 (House Resolution 1) as soon as possible without watering it down or breaking it up. The bill, titled “Strengthening Our Democracy,” is a bold democracy reform package focused on voter empowerment and access, getting big money out of politics, and cracking down on corruption.

We particularly wanted to hear DeSaulnier’s plans for two key committees of which he’s a member: Education and the Workforce, and Transportation and Infrastructure. He may become Chair of the Workforce Protection Subcommittee of the Education and the Workforce Committee, and told us that if he does his priorities for the subcommittee include:   

  • Holding field hearings on worker protection issues in West Virginia, Michigan and other states, since the current administration has not pursued violations related to worker protection.
  • Updating the WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988), which now requires employers to notify the government and workers when layoffs are planned; changes would require employers to mitigate the effects of layoffs.
  • Changing calculations of tax incentives for local jurisdictions that want to bring in large businesses, in order to make it harder for corporations to play local governments off each other; this would be done, among other ways, by requiring “proscriptive” cost-benefit analysis of any proposed deal.
  • Making higher education more accessible through a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a free public education through college.

On the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, DeSaulnier is committed to infrastructure development that will both reduce climate-warming pollution and improve our economy.  He told us: “In California, we’ve been able to demonstrate that both are possible.” In his position on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, DeSaulnier shared a desire to model “value capture” for transportation and infrastructure improvements: that is, using public financing tools that recover a share of the value transit creates. Revenue from value capture strategies can be used to repay debt incurred in financing the upfront costs of building infrastructure and fund the operations and maintenance costs of transit systems.

DeSaulnier is also a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which will be conducting hearings on the Trump administration. We didn’t have time to get into specifics, but very much look forward to following that committee’s work and engaging with him about it in the future.

Other items we discussed included the Green New Deal, election security, increasing youth civic engagement, and working with Rep. John Sarbanes (D- MD) to address independent campaign expenditures, also known as dark money.

Rep. DeSaulnier agreed to provide a statement for our January 3, 2019 rally and said his staff would work with us on the specifics.

Interested in working with the CA-11 team? Email us at indivisibleca11@gmail.com

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 East Bay CA-11 team.

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 East Bay CA-11 team.

Kristen Law lives in East Richmond. When she is not working as a Community Engagement Specialist or teaching and practicing yoga, you can find her snuggling her pets, saving butterflies or testing vegan recipes. She was one of the founding members of Indivisible East Bay and co-leads the CA-11 team.