On March 7, Indivisible East Bay projected a big thank you – literally – to Representative Eric Swalwell for backing the Green New Deal. That night, a group of IEB members visited Hayward City Hall and a building downtown on Foothill Boulevard to shine their gratitude. The Green New Deal (GND) resolution, introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the House, and by Sen. Edward Markey in the Senate, is bold, intended to stop climate change and restart our economy with a just transition to a better future. Rep. Swalwell showed vision and leadership in backing the resolution, and IEB wanted to let him know that we have his back.
Projection is an exciting new form of free speech, painting buildings with light without causing any lasting change to them. You can see more political images and video projected around the Bay Area at this Resistance SF facebook page.
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 email@example.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 PM. RSVP 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
In a rare occurrence of Mitch McConnell speaking truth to power, the Senate Obstruction Leader labeled as a power grab the Democrats’ provisions in H.R. 1 to expand voting rights, including to make Election Day a holiday. Making it easier for people to vote? Guilty as charged, Mitch! And speaking of guilt — and time served — on February 3, House Democrats introduced H.R. 196, the Democracy Restoration Act of 2019, which would extend Federal voting rights to people with felony convictions.
As this powerful letter by a broad coalition of more than 40 organizations in support of the Democracy Restoration Act states:
When people leave prison and return to their community, they deserve a second chance to work, raise families, participate in community life and vote. The current patchwork of felony disenfranchisement laws across the country means that a person’s right to vote in federal elections is determined simply by where they choose to call home. Congress must take action to fix this problem.
What you can do:
Contact your Member of Congress to let them know you support H.R. 196. Representative Barbara Lee is one of the original 33 cosponsors, but Reps. DeSaulnier and Swalwell have not as of Feb. 7 signed in support. In fact, Swalwell is on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which likely has jurisdiction over the bill. The Subcommittee’s chair and vice-chair, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who is also on the Subcommittee, have all cosponsored it; Swalwell should at a minimum cosponsor the bill, and can do more (see the call script below).
What to say if your Representative is Barbara Lee (CA-13):
My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Rep. Lee for cosponsoring H.R. 196 to extend federal voting rights to people with felony convictions. Please speak out publicly on this issue and make sure other Members of Congress understand how important it is to address the unfairness resulting from differences in State laws regarding voting rights for people with criminal convictions. Thank you.
What to say if your Representative is Eric Swalwell (CA-15):
My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to urge Rep. Swalwell to cosponsor H.R. 196 to extend federal voting rights to people with felony convictions. In addition, please speak out publicly on this important issue and use your position on the Judiciary Committee, and on the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, to do all you can to support this bill. Thank you.
What to say if your Representative is Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11):
My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to urge Rep. DeSaulnier to cosponsor H.R. 196 to extend federal voting rights to people with felony convictions. Please speak out publicly on this issue and also make sure other Members of Congress understand how important it is to address the unfairness resulting from differences in State laws regarding voting rights for people with criminal convictions. Thank you.
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
In California, citizens not currently in state or federal prison or on parole for a felony conviction can vote. Maine and Vermont are the only states that currently allow citizens to keep their right to vote even while they’re incarcerated for a felony conviction. For more info on the wide variety of state laws, see the ACLU’s map of state felony disfranchisement laws which prevent about 6 million Americans with felony (and in several states misdemeanor) convictions from voting.
Read our recent article about H.R. 1, the For the People Act, focusing on portions of the bill which lay the foundation for more secure elections.
For more background on the disenfranchisement of people with criminal convictions in the U.S., the Sentencing Project has worked for decades on issues related to criminal justice and inequity in criminal sentencing. They have a lot to say on felony disenfranchisement.
Read our article about the Voting Restoration and Democracy Act of 2018, a California ballot initiative we supported last year. The VRDA would have restored voting rights to citizens with past criminal convictions and prohibited the disenfranchisement of voters who are imprisoned or on parole for a felony conviction. The initiative’s sponsor, Initiate Justice, stopped collecting signatures and it was not placed on the November 2018 ballot.
Help work on these critical issues with the Indivisible East Bay Voter Rights & Election Integrity team
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.
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.
Most notably, the backpack included a letteroutlining 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.
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.
Ted Lam, Nick Travaglini and Ward Kanowsky contributed to this report. CA-11 photos courtesy of Mary Martin DeShaw.
Outraged by the administration’s inhumane and illegal treatment of refugees seeking asylum at our southern border, the East Bay turned out in force on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at several hastily-planned protests called by the national group Families Belong Together.
Governance Committee member and CA-11 team lead Ted Lam reports on the noon rally in El Cerrito:
Thirty people, including families with children, gathered at a busy intersection at El Cerrito Plaza at the Stop the Tears protest organized by El Cerrito Progressives’ Sherry Drobner. People held signs – including forming a human billboard spelling out STOP T-H-E-T-E-A-R-S – and enthusiastically chanted “Let them Pass, No Tear Gas” and “Refugees families under attack, This is illegal, Stand up and fight back!”
The pedestrians and motorists streaming by were very supportive, with many honking in approval. The one-hour event passed too quickly but we felt good at speaking out loud and clear against the administration’s inhumane actions.
Governance Committee member and volunteer team lead Andrea Lum reports on the San Leandro protest, which she organized with GC member and IEB treasurer Gina Clinton:
The day started off rainy and stormy but ended in cheers, honks and waves at our small but mighty protest on the corner of Memorial Park in San Leandro, As the sun came out, our trio was joined by a mother and son, and another person outraged by the tear gassing of families at the border. Seven people on a rainy Saturday – we call that a win!
Didn’t make it to a protest? There’s still much you can do to help fight. See our article with information, a call script, and contact info to make sure that your elected representatives speak out and do all they can.
Close to 450 attendees braved the wind and rain to join Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) on December 1 at Dublin High School for his last town hall of 2018. Swalwell gave an overview of HR 1, the new Congress’ first major piece of legislation in 2019, touching on key issues of voting rights and dark money and also pledging to expand investigations so that the Oval Office is not used by the current occupant as an “opportunity to cash in.” On the issue of immigration, Swalwell said that despite threats of a government shutdown, he would never vote to fund the wall; rather, we need to focus on the “root cause” of the immigration crisis and work with other countries to help them address the poverty and violence within their own borders.
Some of the other issues discussed during Swalwell’s opening comments and during Q&A included:
Trump’s tax returns: “We will see them.” The House Ways and Means Committee could request the returns right now without a vote, but Swalwell thinks it will likely still go through the courts. Every President since Nixon has released their tax returns, and “we need to do an MRI” on Trump’s financial interests.
Impeachment: “The best thing for democracy is for Trump to be impeached,” but we need an impeachable case. “We don’t want to make a martyr out of him.”
Climate change: “The window is closing fast” to get something done. Since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accord (and the U.S. can’t get back into the Paris agreement until we have a new President), the best opportunity to get something done would be through an infrastructure bill that includes provisions for energy alternatives. This is an area where Trump might agree.
Guns: In addition to background checks, Swalwell supports banning or buying back all assault weapons. He told a personal story from when he was a prosecutor about a victim of an assault weapon who was shot in the leg, but still died because the bullet was fired at such a high velocity.
Yemen: Swalwell said that he supports House Concurrent Resolution 138, which directs the President to remove United States armed forces from the Republic of Yemen.
Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) hosted the grand opening of the “Red-to-Blue” headquarters at the IBEW Union Hall in Dublin, California on September 15, 2018. The Hall is being made available through the mid-term elections to organizations who want to help GOTV (Get Out the Vote) through activities like phone banking and postcarding in battleground districts across the country.
At the grand opening, an overflow crowd had the option to phone bank in support of Jessica Morse, who is running against incumbent Tom McClintock in CA-4, or Colin Allred in Texas, or J.D. Scholten in Iowa. These were three of the “Future 40 Candidates” highlighted by Rep. Swalwell, a group of young, diverse candidates spread out across the country.
Indivisible East Bay has signed up to take advantage of the use of the Hall, with both postcarding and phone banking events planned on Saturday, October 6. More info and RSVP here. Hope to see you there!
Can’t make it, or want to find out other opportunities to help win back the House and Senate at the mid-terms? Check out our calendar!
Photographs by Ward Kanowsky.
Ward Kanowsky is co-lead, with LeAnn Kanowsky, of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 Team.
On August 11, 2018, Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) spoke to an enthusiastic audience at his “How Can I Help? A Campaign Town Hall & Midterm Election Kickoff.” The purpose was to get the audience geared up for the upcoming midterms, particularly upcoming House races. To facilitate engagement in these efforts, Rep. Swalwell is opening an office in Dublin where people can take action to help with Democratic races. The space will have areas for phone and text banking and also for writing postcards. On the weekends, the office will serve as a coordination point for events out in the field, such as canvassing. Located at the IBEW Local 595 (6250 Village Pkwy, Dublin), the space is scheduled to open on September 4. Rep. Swalwell encouraged the audience to use this space to work toward getting the candidate(s) of their choice elected. He recommended that everyone pick one or two candidates that they really want to help get elected, as it’s easier to focus on a small number, and you’ll feel more accomplished if your candidates win!
During the Q&A period, someone asked about election security and whether our ballots were going to be secure. Rep. Swalwell said that although election security is very important, the concerns should not be sensationalized, as it may cause some folks to sit out the election because they will think their votes won’t matter. Instead, he said, we should focus on getting everyone out to vote rather than worry about hacking.
An audience member also asked Rep. Swalwell if he’d be willing to co-sign House Joint Resolution 48, which would overturn Citizens United. Both Representative DeSaulnier and Lee have co-signed it already, and Swalwell said he is supportive and will look into co-signing.
Overall, it was a motivating gathering full of people eager to help take back Congress. All CA-15 residents should consider joining Rep. Swalwell’s office on this fight!
Excited to join Indivisible East Bay’s CA-15 team? Email us to get started!