Indivisible Yolo Podcast – Diego Rivas of Democrats Abroad in Berlin

Diego Rivas, Chapter Chair of the Democrats Abroad in Berlin, joined us this week on the pod to discuss voter engagement overseas.

Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the Democratic party for Americans living abroad. It’s main purpose is to ensure that voters are able to vote and participate in the civic process. One of the ways they make sure to stay in touch is to send postcards, which members can pick up at their meetings, and to stay informed about issues in their home states.

And Democrats don’t forget about their voters abroad. Several prominent figures, including Martin O’Malley, Eric Garcetti, and Howard Dean, have come to speak to the Democrats Abroad of Berlin, in particular. Some important races are decided by absentee ballots, which are most often cast by Americans living overseas. In 2008, Al Franken even won his senate seat by a mere 312 votes – a number of which were from Americans abroad.

A big focus for the group is voter engagement, which is particularly difficult when members are from diverse areas of origin. In the Berlin group alone, there are few people who come from the same state, let alone the same county. And since states often have different voter registration and ID laws, keeping track and making sure that folks have up-to-date information is crucial and difficult.

Some things that Americans don’t think twice about can make a huge difference for Democrats Abroad. For instance, they must be incredibly selective about who they take donations from, or even sell things to, as they run the risk of taking campaign donations from foreign nationals, which is illegal. Although they often find friends, family, and colleagues sympathetic to their cause, they must be sure to never engage in any sort of financial transaction that could be considered illegal.

In addition to voter engagement, the party at large is pushing a Tax Reform plan, regarding residence based taxation, or RBT. Currently, the US taxes residents of other countries, while they also pay taxes in their country of residence. Many Democrats would like to see fair, residence based taxation, while others argue that removing US taxes would create unfair loopholes for corporations with overseas operations. Whatever the outcome, it’s important that Americans living in other countries are taxed within reason, and that corporations aren’t allowed to circumvent the law through these types of loopholes.

Democrats Abroad, as an official arm of the party, is also involved in the Democratic National Convention, and sends around 13 delegates every year. Similarly to how delegates are designated and selected stateside, the world is divided up into several slices – the Americas, Europe and Africa, and Asia – each of which sends a certain number of delegates. Delegates are chosen the way they are stateside: each delegate runs a small campaign and is elected to represent their district. Diego was lucky enough to be part of the Berlin elections, which is where the European delegates were chosen.

If you’re planning on living abroad, or know someone who is living abroad, the best way to get involved is to go to the Democrats Abroad webpage, and find the nearest group. If there isn’t one, Diego recommends starting a charter – it’s a lot easier than it looks!

Indivisible Yolo Podcast – Kara Hunter of Yolo Conflict and Resolution Center

Kara Hunter, Executive Director of the Yolo Conflict and Resolution Center, visited the podcast this week. The Yolo Conflict and Resolution Center (YCRC) is a local nonprofit that offers mediation and other services to the region. Anyone having a conflict can call YCRC for mediation services for free or low cost, and the group is meant to be a community resource. They also do trainings on conflict resolution skills, communication, and listening, to help people deal with conflicts that come up in the course of their lives. One of their newest endeavors is a restorative justice program, that aims to keep low-level crimes out of the court system and have them handled through a restorative justice and communication process.

Prior to working at YCRC, Kara spent about 14 years working with juvenile offenders, particularly through advocacy and mentorship. The restorative justice program was what drew her to YCRC, because it particularly works with youth and young offenders to keep them out of the courts and out of the prison system.

YCRC, although it doesn’t really have a target group – anyone from the community is welcome to use their services – they tend to focus on groups individuals who interface with the public and often need to have good conflict resolution skills, like police or public figures. The main service they provide, however, is mediation, where two or more parties having a conflict will call upon YCRC to mediate and facilitate communication. Some of their most common cases, particularly in Davis, are landlord tenant cases.

The YCRC actually got it start to fill a void that was left when the city defunded its landlord-tenant mediation services. Former city government employees from that department got together and founded the nonprofit as a way to continue those services in Davis and the greater Yolo region.

YCRC has expanded its programming beyond mediation, to include trainings, like the ones they provide for public figures and others. This is useful for anyone who has conflict at any point in their lives (hint: it’s all of us). Many people get nervous, or angry, when confronted with conflict, and YCRC strives to make communities better at addressing issues in a peaceful, communicative manner. They aim to make conflict a constructive, rather than a destructive, force in both the community at large, and individuals’ lives.

One of the focuses that drew Kara to the organization was this educational service, particularly its focus on youth. There are many people who are never taught how to productively deal with conflict, and YCRC aims to begin education from a young age, which is why it reaches out to youth and particularly at-risk youth, populations.

Currently, YCRC partners with the school district, the police department, and the district attourney’s office. In the future, they’re looking forward to working with the courts and prison systems more, including mentoring and teaching folks as they’re released from the prison system, both in restorative justice practices and in conflict resolution skills. Kara feels this is particularly important because people coming out of the prison system are constantly dealing with conflict, and most people are not naturals at constructively mitigating conflict. She is looking forward to offering their mediation services and trainings to these vulnerable communities, as a way to help them not only productively manage conflict in their own lives, but to use their newfound skills to help integrate back into society after incarceration.

A newer, but exciting program YCRC is offering is restorative justice, which presents a different way of looking at crime – rather than focusing on the act of wrongdoing, they focus on how it has harmed a community, and how to make the wrongdoer understand the harm and the obligations it creates. The program aims to bring together the people involved, and have them come to an agreement by which the harm can be righted or mitigated in some way. Then, once the act or acts of restoration have been completed, the wrongdoers is accepted back into their society, rather than ostracized, and their label of ‘offender,’ is often struck from their record. The program aims to heal in a way that the current justice system does not – Kara points out that many folks who go through the traditional justice system, on both sides of the act, do not feel any type of closure, even after the verdict. The restorative justice program, however, works to create that feeling of closure by bringing together both parties and coming to a mutual agreement.

Currently, the Yolo County DA offers a volunteer program called Neighborhood Court, which deals with low-level crimes in the specified neighborhood. YCRC has facilitated the trainings for the members of the neighborhood courts, and these groups work at helping the offender right the wrong or undo the harm caused by their actions, so that the community can heal and the offender can learn. In addition, YCRC has partnered with Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) for a referral program, where youth who have committed low level, nonviolent crimes (such as graffiti, or possession of marijuana), are brought together with the victim (if there is one), for a dialogue about how to proceed in a way where both the victim and the offender feel the wrong has been righted, and the outcome is achievable for the offender.

Often, restorative justice is called ‘transformative justice,’ because of how it transforms not only the situation of how justice is administered, but how it transforms the offender and the victim, and offers a way of accepting and understanding that allows people to become whole after a wrong has been done. All of us, Kara points out, have done something stupid, and we don’t deserve to be punished for life because of a small offense. If offenders are allowed to work through the wrong, and to reintegrate into the community after it occurs, it can head off many of the school to prison pipelines we see happening all across the country. It’s a slippery slope once a youth is labeled an offender, and Kara acknowledges that some kids really embrace it, which only makes things worse, both for their trajectory, and for the community as a whole. This is even more important when considering racial justice in the community, particularly with who is disproportionately targeted to bear the label of ‘offender,’ for low-level, nonviolent crimes that most youth commit.

Its often said that our prison system is broken, and Kara argues that at its core is the fact that we don’t allow for reintegration into society after someone has been to prison. Once someone is incarcerated, that stays with them for life – they can’t vote, must report it on every job application, and it follows them everywhere. It can become someone’s identity, and it’s no wonder there are so many repeat offenders. We have to, offer people a way to make amends for the crimes they’ve committed, but also, once they have, to accept them back into our society. As Kara mentioned before, people will embrace the labels they are given, especially if they have no way of casting them off, and with that in mind, it’s no wonder we see so many repeat offenders in our prison system.

But Kara is hopeful – many agencies, from law enforcement to the District Attourney’s office, have asked YCRC for help. They acknowledge that there is an issue, and that not only restorative justice, but conflict resolution training, can help change the way things are. Even people in the California Department of Corrections have informally reached out to learn more about restorative justice and what they can do to make the justice system work.

Here in Yolo, particularly in Davis, there have been two high-profile cases that have floated the idea of using restorative justice: the vandalism at the Davis Islamic Center and the Picnic Day 5 incident. Kara points out that while these might seem like good candidates for restorative justice, in order for the process to work, both parties have to come to the table willing and open to discuss. Mandates to participate in restorative justice tend to color or sour the conversation, and can negatively affect the outcomes. Particularly in these cases, the high profile of the events has made all parties involved understandably cautious about their next moves, but restorative justice is still on the table.

To get involved in YCRC check out their facebook page, or go to one of their board meetings. They reserve time at every meeting for public comment and they post the agenda on their website. They talk about everything from the nuts and bolts of a nonprofit to the strategy of which populations they can reach out to next. One group that has been on the YCRC radar is the elder population in Yolo, and what conflicts they might have – from interpersonal conflicts in assisted living facilities, to family disputes around end of life care or wills. Beyond the board meetings, YCRC is always looking for new volunteers and community mediators. They facilitate a community mediator training every year (the upcoming one is in January 2018), and many mediators come back to volunteer with the community mediation process. In addition, they’re always looking for folks to join the restorative justice and neighborhood court programs – facilitator training is free. They are particularly interested in office and legislative interns, and had a fabulous UC Davis intern help them track policy and legislative changes over the summer. More information for all these services, events, and ways to get involved is available on their website.

Indivisible Yolo Podcast – Driscoll’s Boycott with Dillan Horton

Dillan Horton, assembly district 4 delegate, and Executive Director of the Yolo County Dems, stopped by this week to talk to us about the Driscoll’s Boycott and why it’s so important.

The Driscoll’s boycott has been in effect since late 2015, but has picked up speed recently, particularly with the endorsement of groups like the Yolo County Democrats. The boycott began because Driscoll’s, a company based in California, outsources a large part of its farm labor to San Quintín, Mexico, in Baja California, where workers make around $6 a day, and allegations of sexual assault and child labor are common. The farm workers have formed a union, but Driscoll’s has refused to negotiate with the representatives, which is why workers have called for a boycott.

Despite the farms being in Mexico, Yolo County Dems, and other organizations, feel that it’s imperative that we use our power as consumers to stand against unjust labor practices wherever they happen. Dillan points out it’s especially troubling, because Mexico is not only our neighbor, they’re a vital trade partner and member of NAFTA. With plenty of US elected officials penning and passing legislation aimed at gutting unions, this is not just Mexico’s issue, but one that affects all the members of NAFTA, and working people everywhere.

Part of the reason that unfair farming practices can still exist is because smaller farms are struggling to survive, particularly outside of the US. With the establishment of NAFTA, US farms were able to expand their markets and compete with Canadian and Mexican farmers in their respective countries. However, many farms and agribusinesses in Canada and Mexico were unable to compete with the heavily subsidized US agriculture, and as a result, US agriculture managed to monopolize the market. Even within the United States, the consolidation of Big Agriculture, and the inability of small farmers to compete has concentrated economic power in very few, large, subsidized American corporations.

Counterintuitively, the United Farmworkers’ Union – famous for its boycotts of grapes and tomatoes here in California, and for its leadership like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta – has not publically supported the strikes and boycotts of Driscoll’s. This is, in part, because of a change in the makeup of the board of the union, which has been colonized by represetatives from agribusiness.

Another challenge the boycott faces is the inability to access Driscoll’s finances. Driscoll’s is a private company – it has not gone public, meaning it does not have to publish quarterly earning statements, or answer to investors. This means that there are not public records, or even shareholder records, of its earnings, which makes it difficult to assess the level of financial pressure felt by the company. Regardless, it’s still possible to bring Driscoll’s to the negotiating table, whether negotiators have the exact numbers for Driscoll’s losses or not.

To effectively participate in the boycott, one merely needs to not buy Driscoll’s berries wherever they’re sold. In Yolo, that includes Trader Joe’s, Coscto, Safeway, and the Nugget. This doesn’t require boycotting the store – Safeway has other berry choices besides Driscoll’s – simply not buying the berries will do. In addition, share. No, not your berries, the information. The more folks who know and participate in the boycott, the more power the workers will have when Driscoll’s comes to the negotiating table, and the sooner that will happen. Post about your boycott on social media, tell your friends about it – particularly if you know they’re ‘regular berry consumers,’ and encourage them to share, as well.

The sooner Driscoll’s feels the financial pressure, the sooner these workers will have justice.

 

You can read Dillan’s piece in the Vanguard here.

Indivisible Yolo Podcast – Anoosh Jorjorian of Rainbow Families and Safe Yolo

Anoosh Jorjorian is the Coordinator for Safe Yolo and Yolo Rainbow Families, as well as the founder of the Yolo Justice and Action Network, and a member of Davis Phoenix Coalition and the Parents for Equity for Davis Teachers.

Safe Yolo is a group founded after the election, in order to protect those directly in the crosshairs of the Trump administration. They work closely with the Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network (YIIN), and Sacramento ACT, who are working to help families prior to detention, and during ICE raids. Sacramento ACT, in particular, provides legal observer training for those interested, and does so in partnership with the ACLU and People Power groups. Safe Yolo is focused on aiding families during incarceration, particularly providing legal aid to detainees, since studies show that those with legal representation are less likely to be deported. They are in the process of securing a grant that would allow for a public defender in Yolo to act on the behalf of undocumented immigrants in detention.

Rainbow Families is a subset of the Davis Phoenix Coalition, focused on providing support and advocating for LGBTQIA families – parents, children, and extended family. At its inception, the group provided support to gay and lesbian parents, but since the passage of marriage equality, queer parents haven’t needed the same levels of support, and the group has shifted its focus to advocating for trans and gender nonconforming kids in Davis Joint Unified School District. They plan to branch out to other districts, particularly Woodland, once they feel that trans students in Davis have a secure footing and are well represented to the district and board at DJUSD.

Anoosh advocates for teachers, as well as kids. The Parents for Equity for Davis Teachers is a group dedicated to advocating for better wages and benefits for the teachers in DJUSD. Davis’ teachers are paid the lowest wages of the surrounding areas, despite Davis being a very affluent community. Davis teachers often can’t afford to live in Davis, and those that are retiring are leaving spaces that are difficult to fill. Davis has a high turnover rate, which hurts kids who don’t have continuity in their teaching staff. At one Davis school, a classroom has started its school year without a full time teacher, which will mean inconsistency for the children until the vacancy is filled.

In doing all this advocacy, Anoosh noticed that there wasn’t a lot of coordination between groups, who often had the same end goal in mind. In the spirit of collaboration, and in the hopes that groups could pool resources and better affect change, she created the Yolo Justice and Action Network for progressive causes in the Yolo area. It is a facebook page where she amplifies progressive actions going on in the Yolo community, and something you can follow to get updates on actions you can take in your community.

She’s always looking for people to help manage the Yolo Justice and Action Network page, particularly since the UC Davis school year has started up, and the number of events has skyrocketed. If you’d like to get in touch with her, you can message the YJAN facebook page, or any of the other groups she’s affiliated with, or shoot her an email. Davis Phoenix Coalition is always looking for volunteers, as well, and they are easily accessible through their facebook page. Sacramento ACT has a facebook page, as well, and you can call or text their ICE hotline at (916) 245-6773.

 

LISTEN HERE!

If you liked this podcast, or have a comment, feel free to email us – indivisibleyolopodcast at gmail.com.

If you’d like to learn more about some of the subjects we’ve covered in this podcast, check out some of our other podcasts:

Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor on Yolo County’s Safe County Resolution and Immigrant Detention in Woodland

Arvind Reddy on People Power in Davis

Ann Block on Immigrant Legal Rights

Tracy Tomasky and Gloria Partida on the Davis Phoenix Coalition

Antonio DeLoera Brust on Migrant Camps in Yolo County

Call Scripts the Week of August 21, 2017

 

Thanks Senators Harris and Feinstein for Defending DACA and Co-sponsoring the Durbin-Graham DREAM Act (S. 1615)

Hi, my name is _____ and my zip code is ______.

I’m calling to thank the Senator for co-sponsoring the bipartisan Durbin-Graham “DREAM Act” (S. 1615) to create a legislative fix to the predicament of these young Americans, and take their future out of Trump’s hands. Removing DACA protections from these hundreds of thousands of young people would turn their lives upside down, and harm the communities where they live, work and study. The only beneficiary would be the for-profit private immigrant detention complex and Trump’s runaway deportation machine, which would embark on a new taxpayer-funded mission to apprehend, process, detain and remove these young people.

 

Thank Representative Garamendi for meeting with his constituents this congressional recess

Hi, my name is _____ and my zip code is ______.

I would like to thank Rep. Garamendi for making himself available to his constituents this recess. I really appreciate that he held three town hall meetings to hear our concerns and answer our questions. I especially appreciate that he spoke out against racism at the Unity Rally in Davis.

I hope Rep Garamendi continues to make himself available to his constituents in the coming months.

Shop around to find the right activism fit for you

If we said it once, we’ve said it a million times, finding something you are passionate about and doing it with people you like is the key to sustained involvement in activism, which is essential to take back our country from people like Trump. This new political energy we are seeing has to become a lasting lifestyle change and that only happens if you love doing it. So shop around until you find the right fit. Check out the events on the Yolo Justice and Action Network’s Facebook page, or the Local Advocacy/Activism page on our website for great local organizations.
Once such opportunity is coming up on Sunday! Check out this message from YCP:
Hi Yolo County Progressives,
Luanna here. The last Sunday of the month is upon us and i the Executive Board meeting. This is of course open to all. Since it is still April, an even month, the meeting will be held in Davis at 1517 Oak Avenue on April 30th at 6:30 to 8:30 pm. We will be planning the agenda for our May membership meeting which will be held on May10th at 6:30 to 8:30 pm in Woodland location to be announced.
Hope to see you there!

How Your Voices Made a Difference Last Week: In which a sexual predator is relieved of his position

(Not that sexual predator. Yet.)

Courtesy of 5 Minute Activism via Indivisible Austin

It was a great week full of progress, and ample signs of growing dissatisfaction with Republican leadership.

science march sign

Indivisible Joins Groundbreaking Immigrant-led Action for May Day

May 1 will bring together Indivisibles and labor groups across California to fight the Trump agenda of deporting and terrorizing immigrants. We are uniting with longstanding progressive organizations–for working people, people of color, and immigrants’ rights–standing against the Trump agenda to declare: we are all one people! It’s a public festival and massive show of solidarity to support the largest immigrant-led political action since the election, stand for working families, and welcome the triumphant return of the Caravan Against Fear in its journey across the border to call out sheriffs who cooperate with ICE and their destruction of families.

As organizer Al Rojas says, “It’s about sharing our work & educating those that are not are aware of the issues of working families–it’s about the millions of people who are are being exploited by the corporations & politicians who only care about $$ when it’s the workers who have struggled to win the benefits of Social Security, decent working conditions, pensions, job security, a decent wage and medical benefits”

We join together to march, to vote, and to support the vulnerable: “if you come for any, you’ll have to deal with the many.”

Sign to join us: We meet in Sacramento’s Southside park at 10am then march to the Capitol!

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080f4facad2aa3f58-indivisible/

You can join us there or register to carpool with us at 9:30 from Davis or nearby areas:

https://www.groupcarpool.com/t/zrjs3n

To get more involved come to the final organizing meeting Monday April 24 6-7:30pm at USWW-Janitors Union Hall, 1421 21st Street, Rm 310 – Mid-Town Sacramento, CA

And follow the caravan’s journey across the border and back home to Sacramento here:
https://www.caravanagainstfear.org/

Kelly’s weekly action list

One of the best parts of the resistance is seeing people forming action groups and getting involved. This is sprouting up organically all over and is truly inspiring to see.
A great local resource that has been started since the election is Kelly’s weekly action list. (It’s much more nicely formatted in her emails than this post) Every week, Kelly collects calls to representatives at the state and federal level and has people gather Thursday afternoon to make them together. Several other groups have gotten in on the action and are using her list when they meet in each others homes.
If you want to join Kelly’s group, would like to get her list to use in your group, or -best of all- would like to form a group and use her list, shoot us an email at indivisibleyolo at gmail dot com and we’ll make sure you get added to the distribution list.
Below is the list for this week. Let us know if you use it, and take a pic of your group getting together!

Kelly’s List April 13, 2017

I believe health care is a basic human right.
 Background: Many experts believe saving (or tinkering with) Obamacare, while a good first step, is not enough to solve Americans’ health care problems. Instead, we could join almost all other developed countries and guarantee health care for all. SB 562 would enact a single-payer system in California, leading the way for the nation. Google “SB 562” for more information.
 Action: Call State Sen. Bill Dodd & Gov Jerry Brown, both of whom seem reluctant to endorse single-payer.
Contact info for Brown: (916) 445-2841 and State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814.
 Script: Hello, I am a constituent. My name is ___________ and I live in Davis. I would like to ask Sen. Dodd/Gov. Brown to support single-payer health care in California. Let’s make California a leader on this issue, and fix health care once and for all. [Share personal story if you have one.]
I believe our government should be free from foreign influence.
 Background: As a penalty for Russia illegally annexing Ukrainian territory in Crimea, starting in 2014, President Obama issued a series of executive orders imposing increasingly heavy sanctions. The sanctions have had a crippling impact on the Russian economy and getting them lifted is a high priority for Putin. Prior to the Inauguration, Trump expressed an openness to lifting the sanctions and we now know that during that period,
General Michael Flynn, then on the Trump transition team, discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador (and lied about doing so). Concerned by this and Trump’s very friendly attitude towards Putin, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation to hamstring the Administration’s ability to act without the consent of Congress. A week later, the House followed suit with it’s own corresponding bill. We now know the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia are subject to an ongoing FBI investigation that started last July. It was reported yesterday that Exxon Mobil, formerly led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is trying to get approval for an exemption from the sanctions to proceed with what could be a $500 Billion project with a Russian state- owned oil company which would greatly benefit Russia. Congress needs to stay on top of Russia sanctions and pass this legislation, especially while there are ongoing investigations into what may be a quid pro quo deal between Trump and Russia trading election help for lifting of the sanctions.
 Action: Call or write to urge our senators to co-sponsor the Russia Sanctions Review Act of 2017 (HR 1059/S 341).
 Script: Hi. This is [NAME] and I’m a constituent in [ZIP]. I’m calling because I want to find out if [Rep/Sen____] is supporting the Russia Sanctions Review Act. I’m very concerned that the administration may attempt to strike a deal to do business with Russia despite numerous investigations into Russian meddling in our election. [wait for answer] If yes: I didn’t see Sen. Harris/Feinstein down as a co-sponsor…I would love to see my senator add her name to this important piece of bipartisan legislation. and I want Congress to stay on top of the issue by passing this bipartisan legislation. Thanks for taking my call!
I believe in the constitutional balance of powers.
 Background: The Constitution gives the power to authorize military action to Congress. However, in recent decades, Congress has often failed to fully assert its prerogative and has acquiesced to the executive branch taking various military actions with flimsy Congressional authority. Many in Congress in both parties want Congress to play a more explicit role in authorizing military action in Syria and elsewhere. By dropping a MOAB in Afghanistan and threatening North Korea, Trump appears to be escalating military action. With an unpredictable and ill-informed president risking nuclear attack or retaliation, it is imperative that Congress perform its Constitutional duty and reassert its obligation to approve or disapprove of military force before it occurs.
 Action: Call or write Feinstein, Harris, and Garamendi and tell them Congress must reassert its Constitutional duty and require the president to obtain Congressional approval before any further military action.
 Script: This is [NAME] and I’m a constituent in [ZIP]. I’m concerned that the White House is carrying out military perations without Congressional approval. I urge [Sen/Rep____] to insist Congress reassert its Constitutional duty and require the president to obtain Congressional approval before any further military action in Syria, North Korea or anywhere else. I appreciate your time. Thank you!
I believe in common-sense immigration reform.
 Background: Juan Manuel Montes is a 23-year- old who has lived in the U.S. for 14 years and has twice been
granted deferral of deportation and a work permit under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. President Trump has stated that DACA recipients, or DREAMers as they are also called, are not currently targets of his mass deportation campaign. Despite Juan’s active DACA status, he was arrested by ICE agents in February and deported to Mexico within three hours of his arrest. His documentation was in a friend’s car, but the agents refused to let him retrieve them. Juan’s arrest and deportation set a chilling precedent for the more than 750,000 other young people who have gained the right to work and live in the U.S. under the DACA program.
 Action: Call or write the Department of Homeland Security at 202-282- 8495 or The Honorable John F. Kelly,
Secretary of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.  20528
 Script: Hi, my name is ________ and I’m from [city, zip]. I’m calling to support the return of DACA recipient Juan Manuel Montes to his home in the United States. Montes’s deportation violated President Trump’s own statements. ICE should prioritize deportations for criminals who have committed violent crimes and respect the protected status of DACA recipients. [add personal story if you have one]
I believe in affordable public education.
 Background: The College for All Act would provide free public university tuition for families earning up to 125,000 per year, covering about 80% of U.S. college students. The bill would also reduce student loan interest rates for new borrowers, allow existing borrowers to refinance at lower rates, and eliminate tuitions and fees at two-year community colleges. Student loan debt prevents people from buying homes, starting families, saving for retirement, and working in lower paying but crucial fields like social work and public education. It’s time to end the student debt crisis!
 Action: Call or write Senator Feinstein and Rep. Garamendi (Harris is already a co-sponsor).
 Script: Hi, my name is ________ and I’m a constituent from [city/zip]. I’m calling in support of [HR 1880 for House/S 806 for Senate], the “College for All” Act. This bill would give everyone access to an affordable college education. [add personal story if you have one] What is the senator/congressman’s position on this bill? [if yes: thank you! I’d like to see him/her add his/her name as a co-sponsor. If undecided: My neighbors and I are all in support of this bill…Please let the senator/congressman know that we are tracking this bill and want him/her to jump on board.]
Acts of Gratitude
 Thank Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Mike Lee (R-UT) for defending Americans’ constitutional right to free speech. (See Reuters article)
o Address: (CG) 354 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
o Address: (ML) 361A Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
 Thank Rep. Maxine Waters for her inspiring leadership and for speaking up for democracy.
o Address: 10124 S Broadway #1, Los Angeles, CA 90003
 Thank Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE) for supporting food assistance to Sudan and opposing Trump’s foreign aid cuts.
o Address: (BC) Dirksen Senate Office Building, SD-425, Washington, DC 20510
o Address: (CC) 127A Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
Senator Dianne Feinstein
331 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
D.C. Phone: (202) 224-3841
San Diego Phone: (619) 231-9712
San Francisco Phone: (415) 393-0707
Los Angeles Phone:  (310) 914-7300
Fresno Phone: (559) 485-7430
Senator Kamala Harris
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
D.C. Phone: (202) 224-3553
Sacramento Phone: (916) 448-2787
Los Angeles Phone: (213) 894-5000
San Diego Phone: (619) 239-3884
Congressman John Garamendi
2438 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
D.C. Phone: (202) 225-1880
Davis Phone: 530-753- 5301
State Senator Bill Dodd
State Capitol, Room 5063
Sacramento,  CA  95814
Capitol Office: (916) 651-4003
Vacaville Office: (707) 454-3808
Napa-Sonoma Office: (707) 224-1990
Vallejo Office: (707) 551-2389
State Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0004
Capitol Office: (916) 319-2004
Woodland Office: (530) 662-7867
Technology News | Fri Apr 7, 2017 | 10:04pm EDT
Twitter case shows breadth of U.S. power to probe anti-Trump statements
By Alison Frankel and Dustin Volz | NEW YORK/WASHINGTON
An attempt by U.S. authorities to identify an anonymous critic of President Donald Trump on Twitter has set off larm bells among Democratic and Republican lawmakers and civil liberties advocates fearful of a crackdown on dissent.
Twitter Inc on Friday succeeded in beating back a demand for records about a Twitter account called ALT Immigration (@ALT_uscis), which pokes fun at Trump’s immigration policies and appears to be run by one or more federal employees.
The U.S. government withdrew an administrative summons that customs agents had sent the company in March demanding the records.
But the government backed away only after Twitter filed a federal lawsuit accusing it of violating the First
mendment’s protection of free speech. Customs agents could still continue the investigation using some other methods, civil liberties attorneys said.
Although authorities retreated, the case has laid bare the broad power of the U.S. government to demand information from technology companies, sometimes with no oversight from the courts and often with built-in secrecy provisions that prevent the public from knowing what the government is seeking.
The summons that Twitter received came from agents who investigate corruption and misconduct within U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Even after it was withdrawn, some lawmakers had questions about the agency’s actions.
"CBP must ensure that any properly authorized investigation does not disregard the rights to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," two Republican U.S. senators, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Mike Lee of Utah, wrote in a letter on Friday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
The senators asked whether the agency would ever ask a private company to divulge private records about a customer based solely on "non-criminal speech." Senate Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon called for an investigation of whether customs agents had violated a law by retaliating against an internal critic.
The Department of Homeland Security plans to respond directly to the senators, an official said on Friday.

How Your Voices Made a Difference Last Week: The Beginning of Donald’s Downfall

Courtesy of 5 Minute Activism via Indivisible Austin

Once again this week there is much to celebrate and congratulate yourselves for in fighting against the co-opting of our country by Donald and his profiteering administration.
How Our Voices Are Making a Difference
  • As Donald one by one disavows his allies as quickly as their incriminating ties to Russia are revealed (Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, et al) Steve Bannon is losing influence and status in the White House faster than cockroaches scattering from the light. You’ve helped keep the heat on Donald and co. regarding his white-nationalist top adviser, and Bannon was removed last week from his (entirely inappropriate) post to the National Security Council. Infighting with Jared Kushner yielded a sharp rebuke and later a startlingly tepid defense from Donald.
  • Three organizations are suing the White House to gain access to the visitor logs, under the Freedom of Information Act, after the White House squirreled them away from public view–they are also requesting to know who meets with the president at Mar-A-Lago and Trump Tower.

Our progress comes in slow, incremental steps–but it’s blisteringly clear that keeping the heat on Donald and his far-right GOP defenders is curbing their most egregious actions and helping keep them in check. Don’t let up! Keep defending our nation and our democracy by letting your MoCs know that you are watching them, and holding them to the standards of our nation and Constitutional government.

Resistbot is a great tool for doing this easily, especially for those with limited time or bandwidth to make direct phone calls to MoCs. Text “RESIST” to 50409. They will find your elected officials and turn your texts into daily letters to Congress that are proven to be read and have an impact. All it takes is a few sentences from a real-life voter to get their attention. (And if you are inclined, throw them a few bucks–like so many of the wonderful resistance tools that sprouted up after the election, this is run entirely by volunteers and donations.)

Anything you do, even just donating, even just adding your voice to a petition, makes a difference. (But remember, calling, writing, and visiting your MoCs is the single most impactful thing you can do.)

Another wonderful new tool makes this easier than ever: Dial Congress is an extension for Google Chrome that turns news stories, Wikipedia pages, and Google searches into a congressional phone directory. From Slate, “If you’re reading an article that mentions any member of the House or Senate, the browser extension will highlight that person’s name. If you mouse over, say, a reference to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the phone number for her Washington office pops up on your screen.”

Marching for Transparency in Government

Two overflowing busloads of us joined grassroots groups from all over California at the Sacramento Tax March to demand the transparency in government that Trump refuses to give. And we had a great time doing it!  We marched and filled the capitol plaza to defend our democracy from corruption of its basic rules. Trump is the first president to violate longstanding custom and our constitution by hiding his taxes and running businesses all over the world, ruling our country to enrich himself.

We marched for the truth: why would a president hide his returns if he were an honest businessman with no criminal or treasonous connections? As one sign said: Remember Al Capone! But there’s one thing about his finances he can’t hide: unlike most of America, Trump is in the top 1% of 1% who got richer while much of the country that elected him has gotten poorer and sicker. He campaigned on reversing this but his crony connections won’t let him keep his promise.

The march’s big lesson was that the progressive grassroots is growing in strength all over America. This week a progressive candidate rode this wave to nearly overturn a blood-red Kansas district–and we’re only getting stronger.  It turns out we’re pretty good at organizing, we love getting together to turn the country around, and we’re just ramping up.

Nunes Recusal is Evidence of the Power of the People

Yes, it remains to be seen whether Rep Mike Conaway (R-FL) will do any better. Yes, we still need an independent commission, and yes, this fight is not over. But make no mistake. Nunes’ recusal is a victory for the people.

Under no circumstances did Rep Devin Nunes, the ambitious politician, want to fail in the role that has put him in the national spotlight. Under no circumstances did the the GOP leadership want to suggest that one of their own had at best caused the house investigation to lose credibility and at worst conspired to obstruct the investigation.

Only through growing public outrage, channeled effectively to our representatives and fueled by relentless investigative journalism, was Nunes’ recusal achieved.

In recent months, it has been easy to feel despondent, to believe that the balance of power has already been lost, that lies can be told with impunity, that a few powerful men can roll back decades of progress, that government does not in fact work for us. But Nunes’ recusal is the latest in a string of victories that demonstrates how much power we the people have when we use our voices.

Let’s refresh. Since inauguration our voices have…

Prevented the House from abolishing the Office of Congressional Ethics (critically important right now).

Forced Attorney General Sessions to recuse himself from any Trump Russia investigations (Can you imagine if he were currently part of this investigation?)

Halted the implementation of not 1 but 2 Muslim bans. (unthinkable if those bans were in effect now while Assad is attacking his own people with chemical weapons).

Prevented a vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. (that Republicans have promised for 7 years and have taken 60 symbolic votes on during that time).

And now… forced Rep Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation of Russian interference in our election.

So take a moment to appreciate this victory, and then, let’s get back to work, holding our members of Congress accountable, supporting our fellow resisters in other districts as they hold their members of congress accountable, and financially supporting good investigative journalism. #Resist #ProtectTheTruth and #WeWillWin!