Meeting with Rep Swalwell’s staff

By Ward Kanowsky

Ward and LeAnn Kanowsky, co-leads of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 team, met with members of Representative Eric Swalwell’s staff as part of Indivisible’s February 11 National Day of Action. On behalf of IEB, we conveyed our gratitude and support for Swalwell’s cosponsorship of the Green New Deal, H.R. 1 (For the People Act of 2019), and H.R. 8 (Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019).

The purpose of the Day of Action was to keep up the pressure on all Members of Congress by hearing from their constituents, and to ask them to fund the government with no new funding for Trump’s wall, ICE, or CBP. We raised three main issues related to the potential for a February 15 shutdown:

  • Border wall – a wall would devastate border communities and waste billions of taxpayer dollars.
  • ICE agents – keep families together; no additional funding for more Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents.
  • Beds – stop ICE from expanding the number of immigrants held in detention.

We specifically asked Rep. Swalwell to co-sponsor H.R. 678, the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act of 2019. Federal contractor employees were especially hard hit by the shutdown and did not receive back pay when the government reopened on January 25. Many of these employees, who include cafeteria workers, security guards, and cleaning crews at federal buildings across the country, typically earn between $450 and $650 a week, and are now forced to choose between paying for utilities or putting food on the table for their families.

In addition, we highlighted the impact of the recent 35-day shutdown on some of CA-15’s most vulnerable, with information from the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Specifically, we pointed out that 13,000 CA-15 households received their February CalFresh/SNAP benefits (aka food stamps) in January as a result of the shutdown – resulting in a “SNAP gap” of up to 50 days until they can get their next monthly benefit payments. This irregularity and gap can create confusion and anxiety among recipients, especially since many of these 13,000 households include seniors and children. We also noted the increased need at food pantries during shutdowns.

Overall, our meeting with Rep. Swalwell’s staff was very effective. They were grateful for our feedback and information (especially about H.R. 678), and will pass on the content of the meeting to Swalwell and his D.C. staff.

If you have questions or want to participate with the CA-15 team, contact Ward on Slack at @ward or by email at wardkanowsky@gmail.com.  And please join us in Dublin at the Local IBEW 585 Union Hall for the IEB All Members Meeting on Sunday February 24 from 1-3 PMRSVP here.

Ward Kanowsky is co-lead, with LeAnn Kanowsky, of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 Team.

Photo: CA-15 team co-leads Ward and LeAnn Kanowsky met Rep Eric Swalwell in 2018

 

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.