No Boots No Beds No Wall

Action Deadline – ASAP: Tell Your MoCs to Reject a Budget Deal that Expands ICE and Funds Trump’s Border Wall

As the clock ticks down to another government shutdown, negotiations on the federal budget funding deal continue, with Senate leaders saying on February 11 that they reached a tentative agreement including $1.375 billion for border “barriers,” including 55 miles of new fencing. Unacceptably, the deal also excludes Democrats’ demands to limit immigrant detention funding for ICE. House Democrats must stay strong and reject any additional funding that will allow Trump to tear more families apart.

Let’s be clear: we don’t want another shutdown. But, as Indivisible National put it:

choosing between protecting immigrants and keeping the government running is a false choice—especially with Democrats in control of the House. This bill goes too far in fueling Trump’s deportation force, even if it technically doesn’t have funding for a concrete wall. Congress still has time to pass a clean, year-long continuing resolution (CR), that would keep the government open, and that wouldn’t expand Trump’s deportation machine any further.

Please tell your Members of Congress that we demand a bill that keeps the government open with NO new funding for:

  • Beds: In two years, Trump has dramatically expanded the number of immigrants being incarcerated. In President Obama’s last year in office, 34,000 immigrants were in ICE detention. Now the number is close to 50,000—far above the 40,500 for which Congress had authorized funding. How can ICE detain more people than Congress has authorized? Because DHS uses their transfer and reprogramming authority to effectively steal money from other programs, such as FEMA, to jail more immigrant families. It is Congress’s responsibility to end this financial shell game and add strict limits on DHS Secretary’s transfer and reprogramming authority.
  • Boots: Negotiators are considering giving Trump more Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents. Don’t be fooled. HSI agents are ICE agents — and funding for HSI agents is funding for Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. ICE HSI agents conduct highly militarized worksite raids. The National Immigration Law Center has a great resource with more information on HSI agents here. Congress must NOT increase HSI’s funding — it must cut it and prohibit HSI from arresting workers, while conducting this type of “papers, please” enforcement. 
  • Trump’s racist wall: Negotiators are currently considering including $1.375 billion for border wall funding, which will devastate local communities, as private land is seized using eminent domain, just so Trump can fulfill his hateful campaign promise to build his racist wall along the southern border. It’s critical to keep up the pressure on our Members of Congress and tell them NOT ONE PENNY for Trump’s hateful wall. There must also a policy rider to prevent Trump from using an emergency declaration to transfer and reprogram Defense Dept funding for wall construction. 

 

What you can do:

Call to Action: Ask your senators and House rep to reject any funding deal that expands ICE’s power, funds Trump’s border wall, and maintains DHS’s ability to “reprogram” money to ICE.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m asking ____ to reject the current working budget deal in favor of a bill that keeps the government open with NO new funding for increased detention beds, additional ICE agents, or Trump’s racist wall. Please don’t give in to threats of a shutdown and don’t let our country be held hostage. Please support ONLY a clean budget deal, and place strict limits on reprogramming and transfer authority!

Senators (please call both):

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

House of Representatives (please call your Rep only):

  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11_: (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13): (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15): (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

First vote on the Green New Deal!

By Sylvia Chi

Action deadline: February 4, 2019 and ongoing –

The year has hardly started, and our Members of Congress are about to get a chance to vote to show – and act on – their support for the Green New Deal, when two resolutions supporting the Green New Deal are proposed in the House and Senate during the week of February 4. We want our MOCs to support a Green New Deal (GND) that will eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, provide jobs in a new green economy, and support all communities and workers through the transition. We need your help to tell our MOCs to:

  • Support the Green New Deal, publicly support the upcoming resolutions, and vote for the resolutions when they reach the floor
  • Support the ideals of a Green New Deal by taking the No Fossil-Fuel Money Pledge

Call your representatives now! See our example call scripts at the end of this post, and read on for updates to the status of the Green New Deal.

As the new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis takes shape, we are continuing to push for action on a Green New Deal (see our previous action articles here and here). We faced a setback when some of the features we had asked for – subpoena power, mandate to develop a Green New Deal plan by 2020, limiting fossil fuel company campaign donations to committee members – were not included in the formation of the committee. Thus, although we are happy to see the House of Representatives taking on climate change again, we know that the current iteration is not going to be enough. The Sunrise Movement, one of the main driving forces behind the Green New Deal in its current form, continues to expand on the proposal and advocate for specific steps in moving it forward. They are focusing on legislative strategies to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, guarantee a job to anybody who wants to be part of creating the new green economy, and provide for a just transition for all communities and workers.

The Green New Deal is a hot topic among 2020 Presidential hopefuls, including our own Senator Kamala Harris, who the day after kicking off her Presidential campaign announced her support for a GND – although, disappointingly, she hasn’t said that she supports its important components of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, and a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice.

All our Members of Congress have good environmental records, but not all are in the same place with respect to the GND, or with respect to the pledge not to accept campaign money from fossil fuel companies – a pledge endorsed by groups ranging from Sunrise Movement and Climate Hawks Vote to Public Citizen and Courage Campaign. Here’s where they stand:

  • As noted above, Sen. Harris has announced her support for a GND but has not said whether she supports net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, or a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice.
  • We have been unable to find a published comment from Sen. Feinstein on the GND; she has taken the California-specific Oil Money Out pledge.
  • Rep. Barbara Lee was an early GND supporter and has pledged not to take campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies.
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell has previously stated his support for the proposal but has not said whether he supports net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, or a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice.
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier has previously stated support for the concept of a GND.

Now, we need to make sure all our Members of Congress know that their constituents want a Green New Deal and that we want our representatives to lead the charge. Our representatives can show their support for the Green New Deal by publicly supporting and voting for two resolutions that will be proposed in the House and Senate during the week of February 4. We also need to push all our Representatives and Senators to take the pledge not to accept contributions from fossil fuel companies, in order to stop the corrupting influence of fossil-fuel money on the political system. 

What you can do:

Call your members of Congress by February 4, and keep calling afterwards!

What to say:

For Sen. Harris: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for endorsing the Green New Deal! In order to address the urgent climate crisis, we need to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, and a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice. Please continue to publicly push for a Green New Deal by supporting and voting for the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate. I hope that the Senator also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

For Sen. Feinstein: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your continued and vocal support of federal action on climate change, and for taking the Oil Money Out pledge. Please support the Green New Deal and support and vote for the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate. I hope that the Senator also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

For Rep. Lee: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your leadership in endorsing the Green New Deal and taking the no fossil-fuel money pledge. Please continue to publicly push for a Green New Deal by supporting and voting for the Green New Deal resolution in the House.

For Rep. Swalwell: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your past statements supporting the Green New Deal! In order to address the urgent climate crisis, we need to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, and a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice. Please continue to publicly support the proposal, including the Green New Deal resolution in the House. I hope that Representative Swalwell also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

For Rep. DeSaulnier: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your continued and vocal support of federal action on climate change. Please support the Green New Deal, and vote for the Green New Deal resolution in the House. I hope that Representative DeSaulnier also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • 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

 

Anne Spevack and Ann Daniels contributed to this article. 

Sylvia Chi is an attorney and activist in Oakland, with expertise on environment and energy issues. Anne Spevack is an expert on transportation and infrastructure issues with a passion for the environment, and is rapidly becoming an expert in the Green New Deal.

Above: Sunrise Movement’s graphic of Bay Area legislators on the GND.

No More Shutdown, No More Wall Funding

Deadline: February 15, 2019 – Tell our Members of Congress: Keep the government open, without funding for the border wall!

For the moment, the federal government is open again, and Hostage-Taker-In-Chief failed to get funding for his Wall. So why are we still running action items? Because the new bipartisan committee only has until February 15 to come up with a compromise bill and get Trump to sign it – or he may shut the government right down again or issue a bogus emergency declaration in order to get his funding. (Although given what’s going on with the polar vortex, isn’t it more likely that people will be coming here over the Northern border?) (Memo to the White House: No, the Polar Vortex doesn’t mean there’s no global warming … or waming … sigh)

What to do:

Please thank our senators for their votes against the wall, and ask them to continue to vote against wall funding and all further immigrant detention and border militarization.  Although neither of our Senators is on the bipartisan committee, they both work closely with the committee members (Sen. Harris on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Sen. Feinstein on the Senate Appropriations Committee), so ask them to make this a priority in their discussions with their colleagues.

What to say:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator ___ for opposing funding for the border wall. I’m asking her to continue to vote against wall funding and all further immigrant detention and border militarization. And I hope she will do everything possible to persuade her colleagues on the bipartisan committee to keep the government open without giving into demands for this kind of funding. Our government should not be held hostage in this way.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Representative Barbara Lee is on the bipartisan committee. If you are her constituent please thank her for her record to date and ask her to stand strong against funding for the border wall and all further immigrant detention and border militarization.

What to say:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Rep. Lee for opposing funding for the border wall. I’m asking her to continue to vote against wall funding and all further immigrant detention and border militarization. And I hope she will do everything possible on the bipartisan committee to keep the government open without giving into demands for this kind of funding. Our government should not be held hostage in this way.

Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661

 

IEB members at Kamala Harris’ Kickoff

Sunday, January 27, 2019 was a beautiful day in the East Bay, and Indivisible East Bay held its monthly All Members Meeting. Oh, and also – Senator Kamala Harris kicked off her Presidential campaign in her native Oakland. Several IEB members skipped the AMM for the historic event; we bring you their impressions.

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A preliminary note: So far, IEB’s only position in the Democratic primary is that we will support whoever wins it and do all we can to elect a new president in 2020. If you are interested in participating in a discussion about how we engage with the primary with that as our ultimate goal, please add your email to this list and we will contact you sometime in the coming months about next steps. We are also committed to creating an environment in which our members feel comfortable supporting the primary candidate of their choice regardless of what we do as an organization.

As all agreed, it was a massive crowd – news reports estimated 20,000, which all attendees agreed seemed extremely low. Unfortunately, entry to the event was apparently poorly organized, with huge lines thronging the streets near Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza, so people reported waiting for a couple of hours. (The good news, as one said, was that the delay meant they only got to listen to Kamala’s speech, and not any of the warmup acts!)

On the other hand, IEB Governance Committee member and Senator Team co-lead Amelia Cass had a different experience:

Due to IEB’s relationship with the senator’s Congressional office, I was invited to the rally by her campaign. I see this as a good sign that the senator respects our organization and is interested in appealing to IEB and the rest of the Indivisible movement, and so we have a great chance for us to influence both our own representative and the national discourse. (And as a side benefit for me, I got to watch the rally from the “VIP” section behind the stage, standing just two people over from, as it happened, Rep. Barbara Lee.)

Despite the delays, everyone agreed that the crowds were happy and enthusiastic and the mood, electric. “Clearly a sense of history in the making,” as one IEB-er put it. All reports noted the diversity of the “deliciously Oaklandish” crowd: “So many moms with their kids.” “The racial, age, and gender diversity was obvious, but there were also clearly lots of non-binary and queer folk.”

At least one IEB-er appreciated Harris’ comment that she was born just a few blocks from the rally site, which he understood as an indirect swipe at the outrageous birther conspiracy that has already sprung up against her. As the press has reported, she never mentioned Trump by name, but almost every sentence was directed at him. “The crowd went WILD when Harris said a hostile power was infecting the White House like malware,” as one IEB-er put it. As for policy: Harris began with criminal justice reform and her experience taking on corporations, corruption, and criminals “for the people” of California as Attorney General – perhaps a little surprising since those are also the aspects of her career as a prosecutor that have faced the most criticism (though some have pointed out that both then and now, she has been held to a different standard as a Black woman). She also discussed Medicare for All, legal status and a path to citizenship, election security, and nuclear proliferation. The biggest applause for a policy item was probably her promise to act on climate change “based on science fact, not science fiction,” with her call for a “middle class tax cut” to be paid for by repealing the tax scam a close runner-up. 

Still, although Harris’ speech incorporated many of IEB’s priority policy areas, it was light on commitments to take specific actions. And she did not come across, like some of her rivals, as bursting with big new ideas about how to make our country better. But what it lacked there, it made up in moral force and smart and determined personality. And toward the end of her speech, she turned to an Obama-style theme of a united America familiar to anyone who has heard her speak over the last few years, but with new nuance and thoughtfulness about the meaning and implications of unity that, in Amelia’s words, “I think our movement would do well to consider during a contentious primary.” Although some of those attending the event – including Amelia – say they “weren’t persuaded to vote for her,” they were all impressed. “I think she’d make a formidable opponent,” summarized one IEB-er.

Top photo: Crowd on 14th Street waiting for Kamala Harris, with view of video showing the crowd in the Plaza.

Photographs by Jonathan Zingman and Nancy Latham

The Shutdown: a Tale of Two National Park Communities

Yosemite. Arches. You may associate National Parks with fabulous photos, fun and leisure. But these and other federal lands are the major source of employment and income in some communities; and the federal shutdown has been a crisis with much farther reach than people realize and has wrecked much more than winter vacation plans. Tell your Members of Congress: the government needs to reopen, without giving into extortion over funding for an unneeded, unworkable, racist border wall. And then read more, below, to find out how the cynical shutdown is thoughtlessly cutting at the heart of the people and the land where our National Parks are located.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m strongly opposed to the border wall. Thank you for everything you’ve done in opposition to it. I’m counting on you to vote against any bill that has funding for the wall. And don’t let the President keep using federal employees as hostages — we need to reopen the government without funding the wall!

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Check out Indivisible National’s latest message with updated information about the mess (in DC) and the need for a clean continuing resolution. Then, after you call Senators Feinstein and Harris, here are two great ways that we Blue Staters can spread the word to target Red States!

A Tale of Two National Park communities

1. Inyo County and the Eastern Sierras

The whole of Inyo County has a population of 18,000, and 300 of those people are federal workers. That’s as if there were nearly 7,000 federal workers living in Oakland (there are about 1,600). There’s a good reason: almost 92% of the land in Inyo County is owned and managed by the federal government, including Death Valley, and Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous 48 states, and part of Yosemite, and more.

Lone Pine, CA, near Mount Whitney - photo by Ann Daniels
Lone Pine, CA, near Mount Whitney – photo by Ann Daniels

According to a January 19, 2019 article in the Inyo Register, things are bad now for the workers affected by the shutdown, and they’re going to be just as bad when they return to work. Some are considering leaving government employment; it isn’t worth the uncertainty and the depression that they’re suffering, along with the significant lack of income. And it isn’t just government workers who are affected. In Inyo, private sector partners like the nonprofit Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association (ESIA) work with the government employees to operate visitor centers and information services; these workers are locked out too (and they’re not going to get back pay).

ESIA is going the extra mile: they are actually using their own funds to keep some facilities open at the parks in Inyo during the shutdown. And they estimate that they’re going to lose nearly $40,000 in sales revenue from the shuttered visitor centers and gift shops. It could take years for them to recoup those losses. This is one way a government shutdown can wreak havoc on even nongovernmental entities that are part of the backbone of the community.

Now, let’s talk about how the shutdown wreaks havoc on the land: the Register says that workers are “concerned about the daunting task” of making up the work they’re missing. Imagine if no one at your office came to work for a month or more, with no time to prepare in advance. How long would it take to catch up, if the outside world didn’t know you weren’t there and kept piling things on as though you were taking care of business as usual? And if some of your coworkers quit in the meantime because the thought of returning to work was just too awful? Not to put too fine a point on it: nature pays no attention to shutdowns. According to the Inyo Register, this is the time of year when federal agencies should be hiring seasonal firefighters in anticipation of next year’s fire season. Yosemite still shows the scars of recent fires – everyone knows what could happen if next year’s fires can’t be prevented or fought because the government has prevented the work from being done. One would hope the government would care. One would hope.

2. Moab

The town of Moab, Utah is just outside of Arches National Park, one of the most likely places in this country to end up in scenic photographs. The Moab Times-Independent online business section has devoted itself to chronicling the shutdown. Arches and the nearby Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands National Park have reopened to visitors, they report, but not because federal workers have come back to work.

Arches in winter
Arches in winter

As in Inyo, a local nonprofit has chipped in: the Canyonlands Natural History Association is spending about $2,000 a day to keep visitor centers open in the parks, not counting wages to pay the staff in the centers. They don’t expect to be reimbursed any of this money. We’ll do the math for you: that’s $14,000 a week. $60,000 in a month (ok, $56,000 in February). In 2017, the CNHA donated “more than $937,000” “for the educational and research efforts of [their] public land partners” throughout all of Southwest Utah” – again, we’ll do the math for you. One month of keeping the visitor centers open in Arches and Island in the Sky, alone, equals about one month of CNHA’s entire expenditures last year. And that’s money they will not get back – money that they won’t have for other uses, other parks.

Unlike in California, as far as we know, the State of Utah is also expending considerable resources to fill in where the federal government has shut down. The Utah Office of Tourism has put forth money to keep the parks open, and the Utah Department of Transportation has promised aid to clear roads and parking areas in all the state’s major National Parks. That’s money that the state would ordinarily not have used on federal lands; which means that wherever the state had planned to use the money, they will now have to find other sources or do without. Thus an entire state can suffer as a result of a federal shutdown closing the National Parks.

And even with private and state funds and workers filling in, visitors to Moab are cutting their visits short or not coming. Local hotels are reporting cancellations and early departures. With tourism a major part of the local economy, this is how an entire community suffers from the federal shutdown. And an entire state.

Half dome, photo by Ann Daniels
Half dome, photo by Ann Daniels

And, of course, an entire country.

IEB Meets with Senator Harris’ Staff, January 2019

By Leslie A. Burton

On January 15, 2019, Indivisible East Bay met with Senator Kamala Harris’ State Director, Julie Rodriguez, and other office staff at the Senator’s downtown San Francisco office.  

Shutdown. We opened with the government shutdown, at that point on its 24th day – the longest in U.S. history (and still ongoing as of this writing). We asked that the Senator not back down on her opposition to the border wall. We pointed out the need to  disseminate more positive stories about immigrants and noted environmental hazards to wildlife caused by the wall. Julie acknowledged the problems with privatizing immigration detention centers. We asked that Senator Harris consider forcing a vote on the budget by making a motion to proceed, but Julie didn’t think that the senator was inclined to do that.

Barr for Attorney General. Although we disapprove of the appointment of William Barr as AG, Julie explained that though Harris will likely oppose (and she officially announced opposition soon after our meeting) his appointment is likely a “done deal.”

Judicial appointments. We expressed our dismay that judges who have been found “not qualified” by the American Bar Association are being approved.  ABA approval should be a non-negotiable qualification. We asked that each judicial candidate be put through the entire vetting and approval process, with no concessions to speed up the process. Julie noted that the Blue Slip process, which had been the protocol for every other administration, is not being followed now, and said she hopes in the future we can move to restore the previous protocol to confirm judges.

Julie was pleased, though, with the decision of the federal court in Manhattan that will prevent citizenship questions from being asked on the 2020 census. She is also heartened that Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts seems to be moving a little to the left.

Nuclear arms. We voiced concern over Senator Jon Kyl’s proposals to stockpile more nuclear warheads. Rep. Engel is willing to open debate on repeal of AUMF in the House. Sen. Merkley’s AUMF repeal framework includes tying humanitarian goals into any repeal legislation. We support Engel and Merkley and would like to know how Senator Harris stands on these issues. We would like her to support a No First Use (of nuclear weapons) policy. Julie was not aware of Sen. Harris’ stance on these issues but she promised that she would discuss them with her. Senator Harris, like us, is concerned that we have the right checks and balances in place when an unstable person is in charge of nuclear arms.

Defense Budget/Budget Control Act Caps. Senator Harris supports parity between military and non-military spending. Julie doesn’t know about the proposal to discontinue humanitarian aid to Yemen, but she will look into it, as well as into the proposal to bring the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act below $700 billion.

DHS/HHS appropriations for immigration centers. Two children have died in ICE custody at the border without explanation; there is no oversight or responsibility to prevent abuses by ICE; there are no background checks on ICE employees; anti-immigration actions are taking funds from cancer and HIV research. Julie explained that most of the monetary aspect of Homeland Security goes through the Office of Management and Budget, and not through the Senate. But the Senator is concerned with the locking up of children and families and the lack of humanity exhibited in these facilities. Harris also sponsored the non-expansion act that would prohibit the expansion of immigration detention and improve oversight of these facilities. The Senator will be flagging Rep. Norma Torres’s H. Amdt. 314 to H.R. 3354, which would prevent the re-allocation of non-immigration detention funds in DHS towards immigration detention, for her immigration team to study.

Climate Change. We inquired about Harris’ approach to controlling greenhouse gases. We pointed out that lower standards are being proposed for Superfund cleanups, which will hurt communities. Julie stated that California is at the forefront of environmental issues, including environmental justice. Among other clean energy proposals, Harris is seeking federal funding for electric buses in rural areas. Climate change will be on the agenda for her next town hall.

Green New Deal. We told Julie that proposals are afloat for a system of public banks or agencies to finance energy infrastructure, which will transform the economy while addressing environmental issues. These banks would be accountable to the people and could be used to give micro-loans for communities and for conservation projects and other projects and endeavors, including the cannabis industry. Julie was very interested and asked us to provide her with good examples of successful programs.

Income Inequality and Taxes. We asked whether Harris supports Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to increase the highest tax rate to 70 percent. Julie acknowledged that taxes need to be reformed, with the goal of getting money into the hands of the people. She noted that the majority of Americans are $500 away from life-changing status (such as homelessness) and that the Senator supports the “Lift the Middle-Class Tax Act,” which will give $500 annually to those who spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

Criminal Justice Reform and First Step. We aired our concerns over some of the terms of the criminal justice reform bill First Step Act, including its reliance on algorithms for predicting recidivism. Harris believes that AG Barr’s oversight of the First Step criminal reform bill will not be a serious concern because she has faith in the career employees at the Department of Justice who will handle most of the hands-on day-to-day administration of First Step. But the senator shares concerns over the recidivism calculations.

Drug Policy. Senator Harris supported the Marijuana Justice Act.  The next step is to help the cannabis industry transition to a fully legal business. Harris supports removing it from Schedule 1 of Controlled Substances. In response to her question to Barr about federal prosecution of users who are not violating state laws, he said he would not prosecute those cases.

Next Town Hall. Senator Harris will announce a Town Hall soon. We will let you know the date as soon as we find out.

 

Leslie A. Burton is a former lawyer and law professor. She is now a traveling professor, teaching Introduction to US Law classes and Legal Writing seminars in law firms and universities around the world.

Bar Barr – Tell Senators to vote against AG nominee

Deadline: ASAP and until the vote – Here we go again: another nominee for Attorney General who thinks the president has unfettered powers, that religion trumps (sorry not sorry) law and that it certainly is more important than the rights of LGBTQ folk, that the Muslim ban is good but abortion rights and criminal defendants’ and prisoners’ rights are not … Ladies and gentlemen and resisters of all ages, the Current Occupant presents: William Barr!

The vote on Barr’s nomination is fast approaching. Senator Kamala Harris has said she will oppose his nomination because “he won’t defend independent investigations from attacks and ensure equal protection under the law for all Americans.” She’s also said she opposes him because he doesn’t “embrace a smart on crime approach to public safety.” We agree. Please thank her, and ask Senator Dianne Feinstein to say the same – and to commit to vote against the nomination. See below for call scripts and contact info.

Some scary facts about Barr:

  • He has publicly criticized Robert Mueller’s investigation, yet during his Senate hearing, he refused to commit to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller’s investigation. He also refused to commit to make Mueller’s findings public. Biased and secret – the exact opposite of what an Attorney General should be.
  • As organizations concerned with the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of and from religion have pointed out, he has called for constitutional U.S. law to be replaced with “God’s law.”
  • “He believes that Trump cannot be questioned for firing [FBI Director James] Comey in a criminal obstruction probe because presidents always have the discretion to fire an FBI director” – People for the American Way
  • Barr believes in being tough on minor drug offenders and opposes sentencing reform. He’s a big fan of mass incarceration.
  • He recently praised former Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “an outstanding attorney general.”
  • Read an excellent summary of his disturbing positions on justice reform, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, reproductive freedom, and more, in this article.

What you can do:

Call your Senators. They are the ones who will vote on the nomination.

Senator Harris has already spoken out against Barr and said she will vote against him. What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for speaking out against Attorney General nominee William Barr and saying you’ll vote against him. He’s the wrong person for the job, for all the reasons you’ve said – he won’t uphold the law in a way to protect us.

Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Senator Feinstein has made statements indicating that she doesn’t favor Barr, but as of January 17 she hasn’t said so explicitly and also hasn’t said how she’ll vote. What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please speak out and commit to vote against Attorney General nominee William Barr and saying you’ll vote against him. He’s the wrong person for the job. He won’t uphold the law in a way to protect us.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Spread the word to everyone you know, send them the link to this article, and if they don’t have their Senators’ numbers on speed dial, give them this link.

Time to Help the Coast Guard

It’s mid-January 2019, and the Shutdown has reached its fourth week. We reported last week on how the Tantrum Over the Wall was affecting people nationwide, including some of the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who have been furloughed or must work without pay. This week, we’re looking closer to home: some federal employees you may never think about, right here in Alameda County, are being required to work without pay, and may be heading for dire financial straits.

Close to 1,000 uniformed men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard live in Alameda County. Coast Guard Base Alameda is a major homeport of four Legend class cutters that go on months-long patrols: USCGC Bertholf, Waesche, Munro, and Dorothy Stratton. Each holds over 113 personnel, and some are on patrol now while their families are left behind to deal with the financial stresses of this shutdown.

The 41,000 women and men of the U.S Coast Guard were paid once before January 1, and have missed their first bi-weekly paycheck in January. However, since Coast Guard members are considered critical personnel, they must work without pay during the shutdown. Of course, their expenses aren’t put on hold; nor are the literally life-or-death nature of the responsibilities some of them have, such as those at Station Golden Gate who participate in search-and-rescue.

The government has responded to the situation by adding insult to fiscal injury, telling Coast Guard members to see themselves through the hard financial times brought on by the Current Occupant’s wall-inspired tantrum: Have a garage sale! Be a dog-walker! Be a mystery shopper! says a Coast Guard support tip sheet. “Yes, your credit score may suffer during this time,” it helpfully notes. “Bankruptcy is a last option.” Former Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad W. Allen has decried this shutdown as unnecessary political theater. Perhaps we should talk about moral bankruptcy of a government that refuses to pay the men and women who serve their country because one man insists on a so-called defense system that experts repudiate?

No paychecks for government workers like our Coasties doesn’t just harm them and their families: it also means immediate economic impacts to their local communities and threats to the well-being of local businesses. Based on previous shutdowns of similar length (although this is now the longest government shutdown in US history), one study concluded that “the shutdown led to an immediate decline in average household spending of almost 10 percent” and “households with a member who was furloughed and required to stay home from work slashed their spending more dramatically – by 15 percent to 20 percent.” Some small businesses in the area are already reporting dramatic losses because the federal workers who are their frequent customers aren’t getting paychecks.

IEB Governance Committee member Ted Lam says:

People often ask me what I miss most as a retired Coast Guard officer: the service? Or the work? I always say: I miss the people. They are the most patriotic, inspiring, and unselfish people I have ever worked with. So during this difficult time for the Coast Guard, I’m looking for ways to help my old shipmates, and I can tell you there’s a great way to help. It’s the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. I’ve seen first hand the amazing results of Mutual Assistance’s work to help the youngest and most vulnerable in the CG. I hope you’ll join me.

You can donate to help a member of the Coast Guard on the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance website.

You can also call our Senators and tell them you want them to insist on reopening the government without money for the border wall. Please call Sen. Feinstein at 202-224-3841, and Sen. Harris at 202-224-3553 to thank them for their support, and tell them:

My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The government shutdown is hurting people and communities, all because of a wall that’s a terrible idea to begin with. I want to thank Senator Feinstein/Harris for voting against advancing legislation that wouldn’t have reopened the government without funding for the Wall. Please do everything you can to reopen the government without funding for the Wall.

For more information and other call scripts, read our articles here and here.

 

Ted Lam and Elizabeth Douglas contributed to this article.

Photo of Coast Guard Island in Oakland Estuary between Oakland and Alameda United States Coast Guard, by Petty Officer 3rd Class Erik Swanson.

You need to call: No Wall, No Way!

Deadline: today and every day –

The Current Occupant told his supporters to call their elected representatives and say build that wall. An Indivisible East Bay member who was in Senator Feinstein’s D.C. office last week heard interns taking calls from people doing just that. What she didn’t hear: people calling to say No Wall!

Our Senators have spoken out against the wall, but they need our support when some of their constituents overwhelmingly demand this crime against decency … You know what to do. Do it, today and every day!

What you can say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Senator Feinstein/Harris for opposing the idea of building a border wall. The Wall is anti-humanitarian, anti-environmental, and a terrible waste of resources. Please don’t give in. No wall!

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Harris: (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553

For more information, here are some things we’ve written in the past about why the Wall is such a disastrously bad idea:

 

 

 

 

A Meeting with Sen. Harris’ Office on Environmental Policy

By Elizabeth Douglas

On January 3, 2019, Indivisible East Bay met with staff at Senator Kamala Harris’ office in Washington, D.C. to discuss environmental policy. We thanked the Senator for her record of pro-environment votes and her opposition to climate-change deniers like Andrew Wheeler, we asked that she continue supporting and introducing legislation that protects our environment and communities, and we discussed other ways IEB would like Senator Harris to support climate action.

At the meeting we spoke with Dr. Ike Irby, one of the Senator’s policy advisors. We were very interested in Harris’ take on the new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the Green New Deal. Dr. Irby stated that while Harris supports broad climate action as well as collaboration with the House on climate issues, climate policies that create equity in communities and have an immediate impact to those most affected by climate change are her top priority. These types of policies will also need to promote resilience and sustainability in communities harmed by the current effects of climate change, such as more intense and frequent natural disasters.

Here are a few environmentally-focused legislative actions that Senator Harris will work on in the new Congress:

  • Outdoors for All Act. Originally introduced in September 2018, S. 3499, the Outdoors for All Act, would create equity for public spaces, providing a permanent source of funding for green spaces in urban areas. As we discussed, many city kids don’t have easy access to pleasant outdoors areas, and it’s hard to raise a generation of environmentalists when children may not even be able to play and learn in public parks. Creating these spaces would also help areas reduce their greenhouse gas emissions – a double win! Work on this type of legislation does come with an additional challenge, however, as funding for the grants issued under the Outdoors for All Act would depend on re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which will also need calls of support from your friendly neighborhood Indivisibles!
  • Living Shorelines Act. Originally introduced in July 2018, S.3087, the Living Shorelines Act, would protect our coastline communities through natural and sustainable solutions (read: not concrete seawalls!). This bill would provide these communities with grants for projects to respond to sea level rise, for example, and also to preserve the delicate ecosystems on their coasts and even on islands.

Senator Harris plans to reintroduce both these bills during the new legislative session. Taking climate action is a collective commitment to both our present and future; we need to express our support for these bills and educate others about them so that our communities can feel hopeful and empowered despite the daily (and sometimes daunting) reports of the impacts of climate change. The clear message from our meeting with Dr. Irby was that the time is right to show that climate change legislation should be top priority. We’ll have plenty of actions on environmental issues in the months to come!

Photograph of Senator Harris’ D.C. office by Elizabeth Douglas

Elizabeth Douglas is a mom, runner, and activist from Alameda. She is also a Climate Reality Leader (Seattle 2017) with a strong interest in protecting our ocean and corals.