Actions 12/11 and 12/12

Monday

Keep on calling to demand that the FCC maintain net neutrality. The FCC will vote December 14 on the proposal by Chairman Ajit Pai, former chief counsel for Verizon, to abolish net neutrality regulations. Net neutrality allows all users to have equal access to everything available on the Internet. Abolishing it would give Internet Service Providers like Verizon and Comcast a lot more control over what we can and do online. Among other things, they could create faster or slower speeds for sites, charge premium prices for upgraded access, and engage in censorship by throttling websites, apps, and online services.

It would be a devastating blow to the free and open Internet we rely on for streaming videos, communicating with our networks – and yes, reading critical news stories about the state of our democracy. Without net neutrality, small businesses, low-income individuals, and much of rural America would lose access to affordable, reasonably fast internet service.

A strong push from Congress might make Chairman Pai reconsider his proposal. Let’s call Senators Markey (202-224-2742) and Warren (202-224-4543) and our representatives and urge them to contact the chairman and demand that he drop his plan. Already made the call? Great! How about calling again? The volume of comments makes a difference.

SCRIPT: Hi, my name is [NAME] and I'm a concerned customer from [CITY].

I'm calling to express my support for net neutrality and a fair and open Internet. I strongly belief that the free flow of information on the Internet is critical to a healthy democracy. I'm asking [SENATOR’S OR REP’S NAME] to contact FCC Chairman Pai and demand he abandon his current plan to dismantle net neutrality.

[OPTIONAL: add a personal story or experience to give your message more weight]

Thank you for your time and attention.

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied.]


Tuesday

Stop the confiscation of tips from restaurant workers. The Department of Labor has proposed a rule, championed by the National Restaurant Association, to permit restaurant owners (including for restaurants owned by giant corporations) to dispose of server tips as they choose, which means they can also keep the tips for themselves. The rule applies to employers that pay federal minimum wage and don’t deduct tip amounts from wages.

Servers in restaurants are among the lowest-paid workers in our economy, struggling to survive on a median hourly wage that was less than $10 per hour in 2015. They should not be expected to subsidize the profits of their owners and corporations. Let’s tell Trump's Department of Labor what we think.

We can comment on the proposed regulation here until January 4, 2018.

SCRIPT: I strongly oppose the proposed “Tip Regulations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)” regulation (RIN: 1235-AA21). By allowing employers to take control of their employees' tips, this rule would overturn decades of federal and state law and precedent safeguarding tips as the property of workers, going back to 1974, when the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended to clarify that tips are to be retained by the employee except when a valid tip pooling arrangement is in place.

The proposed rule essentially authorizes wage theft on the part of the employer. If restaurant owners pocket employee tips as the regulation allows them to do, a vulnerable workforce will be forced further into poverty, economic instability, and increased danger of harassment and assault.

[OPTIONAL: add a story or experience of your own or of someone you care about to give your message more weight]

The Good News

Two weeks' worth.

Both Massachusetts senators stood up for Dreamers last week when they opposed the continuing resolution because it didn't include a clean Dream Act. Senator Warren committed to this some time ago. We called (and called and called...) Senator Markey, and on the day of the vote, he came through, too! Massachusetts is the only state with two senators on the Dream Hero list.


People protested outside 700 Verizon stores around the country (including in Boston) to defend net neutrality.


Nearly 200 Dreamers and their allies were arrested on Capitol Hill as protests across the country called for a Clean Dream Act.


Raise Up Massachusetts—a coalition of labor, religious, and community organizations—collected 274,652 signatures on petitions for its two Mass ballot questions, 139,055 for the $15 minimum wage and 135,597 for paid family and medical leave, far more than the 64,750 required for each.


Meanwhile, abortion opponents collected only 57,400 of the requisite 64,750 for their (failed) petition to eliminate state funding for Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortion services.


Former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the deadly shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed African-American man. Shaun King: “For the first time in any national case of police brutality in this generation, a police officer is being held responsible for his violence and corruption.”


In Salt Lake City, thousands protested Trump's decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah two days before his visit to the state, and thousands more protesters greeted him when he arrived.


The day Trump made his announcement about the monuments, Patagonia’s website read, “The President Stole Your Land. In an illegal move, the president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history.” The company joined a coalition of environmental, archaeological, and Native American groups in suing the Trump administration to protect the monuments.


Thousands of Alabamians have seen their voting rights restored thanks to an incredible volunteer effort.


German pilots grounded more than 220 flights that were to be used to deport failed asylum seekers.


David Ermold, the gay man whom Kim Davis denied a marriage license two years ago, visited her in her office again, this time to file to run against her for county clerk.


"I am throwing in with the Democratic Party." Kurt Bardella, a rising Republican star, detailed in a brutal op-ed the reasons he's leaving the Republican Party.


Public outcry forced the VA to reverse course on their plan to drastically cut a $460 million program that helps provide housing to homeless veterans—just a week after they announced the cuts.


The Silence Breakers are Time’s Person of the Year in tribute to the “Me-too” movement of women and men speaking out about sexual harassment.


A judge found the NYPD in contempt of court for failing to turn over undercover surveillance footage of Black Lives Matter activists.


The Washington Post exposed a Project Veritas sting attempt involving a woman who falsely claimed to the newspaper that Roy Moore impregnated her as a teenager.


New York State may revoke Project Veritas’s fundraising license because it didn’t disclose that its founder, James O’Keefe, had a criminal record.


Young voters in Virginia came out in historic numbers and overwhelmingly cast their ballots for the Democratic candidate for governor, Ralph Northam, 69% versus 30%, with a turnout rate of 34%, double the youth turnout in 2009.


Jen Jordan flipped a Republican seat in a special election for the Georgia state senate, ending the Republican two-thirds supermajority in that body. Lots of women flipping seats this year!


Obama had three of the top 10 most retweeted posts of 2017. None of Trump’s tweets made the top 10.


A federal appeals court ruled that judges cannot deny bail to immigrants in criminal cases solely because they are living in the country unlawfully and could be deported before trial.


A federal judge in Northern California ruled that immigration judges must release teens who don't pose a danger, saying, "They can't just arrest someone, ship them across the country and lock them up based on nothing more than suspicion."


The only man who can actually fire Robert Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein, says he's satisfied with the special counsel’s work.


In the financial records he filed with the Office of Government Ethics, Jared Kushner didn’t disclose his role as co-director of the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation from 2006 to 2015, when the group funded an Israeli settlement considered to be illegal under international law.


Prosecutors working for Robert Mueller are pushing for Paul Manafort to remain confined to his home on GPS monitoring because he enlisted a longtime colleague “assessed to have ties” to Russian intelligence to help him ghostwrite an op-ed to justify his political consulting in Ukraine.


Zeroing in on Trump’s business dealings with Deutsche Bank, Robert Mueller issued a subpoena that forced the bank to submit documents on its relationship with Trump and his family.


Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Trump Jr. asked her for evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation during their Trump Tower meeting—and when she told him she didn't have information about the Clintons, he lost interest and the meeting fizzled out.


The federal court that partially blocked Trump’s transgender policy in an earlier ruling issued a clarification saying the military must accept transgender service members by January 1.


The Supreme Court declined to review a Maryland law banning the sale of semiautomatic guns with certain military-style features, similar to weapons used in recent mass shootings. Several other states (including Massachusetts) and many cities and towns have similar laws.


The Supreme Court also refused to take up a challenge to a Florida law that bars people from openly carrying firearms in public.


The House of Representatives unanimously approved the SAFE Act increasing the maximum penalty for female genital mutilation.


Maura Healey joined 18 other state prosecutors in an amicus brief backing Pennsylvania's suit against the federal government over new administration rules that roll back contraceptive coverage.


The Office of Special Counsel opened a case file into whether Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act when she assailed Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones.


Subpoenas were sent to 23 Trump businesses requiring them to preserve records for a lawsuit accusing him of profiting from his office through continued ownership of his businesses.


The Treasury's inspector general is investigating whether Steve Mnuchin hid a Treasury Department analysis of the Republican tax bill, or if the department even did one. Mnuchin had said their analysis proved economic growth from the tax cuts would offset lost revenue, but no report was ever released.


The New York City council voted to ban paid LGBTQ conversion therapy for kids and adults.


Billy Bush said that seven additional people heard Trump brag about grabbing women by their genitalia. Trump has been questioning the authenticity of the Access Hollywood video.


Austria’s supreme court ruled that same-sex couples will be allowed to marry starting in 2019, saying a law to the contrary violated the principle of non-discrimination.


Iceland elected a 41-year-old Democratic Socialist, environmentalist, and feminist as their new prime minister.


The transit authority in Cairo hired its first female bus driver after introducing a female-only bus service to protect women from sexual harassment.


The school board in Portland, Maine, voted to enact a new policy protecting transgender students.


More than 50 mayors signed a formal agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their cities and agreed to meet goals similar to those in the Paris climate accord.


Volunteers for the group Postcards to Voters handwrote postcards to every registered Democrat in Alabama, urging them to vote for Doug Jones in Tuesday’s election.


Deval Patrick, Cory Booker, and John Lewis are campaigning in Alabama this weekend for senatorial candidate Doug Jones; Lewis cancelled his appearance Saturday for the opening of the Civil Rights Museum after it was announced that Trump would attend.


Lawrence MA pushed back against a warning by Jeff Sessions that he will cut off its federal public safety grants unless the city reconsiders its Trust Act.


Tobacco companies have been ordered to run ads admitting they lied about the dangers of smoking while at the same time making cigarettes more addictive.


Owners of the Trump International Hotel in Panama are pushing to remove Trump's name from the building as the tower attempts to revive its business.


Nike is closing the Niketown location housed in a property managed by the Trump Organization. It's the organization's biggest tenant in a single space, estimated to be worth $235 million.


And—oh yeah—Michael Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia's ambassador and disclosed that he is cooperating with the special counsel's office.

Actions for 12/6

Wednesday

The tax scam’s not law yet. It’s headed to a House/Senate conference committee, which will try to iron out the many differences between the House and Senate bills. Let’s keep up the pressure against the bill by calling Senators Markey (202-224-2742) and Warren (202-224-4543) and our representatives and letting them know we appreciate their support and urge them to continue to oppose the Republican plan. Here’s our tax scam script. If you happen to know anyone with a Republican Representative in the high-tax states of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, or California, ask them to tell their Reps not to raise taxes on their own constituents.

And here’s a thought. How about alternating calls about this and about a clean DREAM Act until the two issues are resolved? The media's been reporting that the opposition is losing steam. Keeping the congressional phone lines busy is one way to show we’re fighting as hard as ever. Showing up at rallies is another way. There’s a National Day of Action for Immigrant Rights rally at 3:30 today at Faneuil Hall, and on Sunday the Boston Tea Party Dump the GOP Tax Bill rally will take place on the Common at noon.

Never Throttle a Grandma - Net Neutrality in Rural Ohio

Today we have a guest post from Liz Shaw, Founder of Indivisible Appalachian Ohio and Chair of the Citizens Connectivity Committee. Liz tells the story of how she got involved with the fight for rural connectivity.

I had only five minutes left to get the order processed for next day delivery. Months of planning my first grandchild's baby shower had come down to one last detail - order freshly picked edible flowers by 10:00 a.m. to ensure I could plop them onto fluffy cupcake icing the next day. I was running out of time. The instructions clearly said all orders must be placed online by 10:00 a.m. on day of harvest, so I began filling in the order form at 8:00 a.m., hit "send" by 9:00 a.m., and watched the clock tick away as the blue swirly thing on my computer screen tormented me. I prayed and then I cursed as the witching hour arrived without a "Thank you for your order!" popping up on my screen.

Verizon won … again.

I had lost count of how many times they had throttled me to below dial-up speed. But, this time it was personal. This time my unborn grandson was involved - yes it was just cupcake decorations, but it represented much more to me. My rage burned like white-hot coals, and I packed up my laptop and headed to the coffee shop in town to cool off with a Frosted Cappuccino and use the free wi-fi.

I was a grandma on a mission. How does this whole connectivity thing work, anyway? Several coffee shop sessions later I naively discovered that telecom giants don't always play fairly and they buy politicians. I also learned they don't care about rural connectivity, especially in Appalachia where I live. I unearthed all sorts of grants and contracts earmarked to bring us connectivity, but soon realized the money had been squandered, consequences amounted to slaps on the wrists, and their bad behavior continued. I researched municipal broadband, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee for Communications and Technology, the Federal Communications Commission and more.

I started reaching out to others about their connectivity horror stories, and mine paled in comparison. While I was dealing with out-of-control throttling, my neighbor with a finicky satellite was often ferrying her children to fast food restaurants with wi-fi so they could do their homework. One commuter college student was falling asleep in the school's parking lot each night using the wi-fi still transmitting from the administration building. Business owners were parking in library parking lots past midnight for wi-fi that had been left on as a public service.

I heard from a university administrator who found Kenyan connectivity in 2007 more reliable than connectivity at her Appalachian Ohio home in 2017. No cell coverage, dead landlines from the smallest of rain showers, and internet speeds slower than mine kept her family in isolation only 20 miles from a major university.

A young woman with cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair shared that she was hoping to take online courses which would enable her to start an insurance coding business from home. Unreliable Internet prevented her from pursuing her education, however, and negated her business plans. No cell coverage and fickle landlines actually compromised her safety on a daily basis.

Stories kept coming about people unable to summon ambulances (resulting in at least one death); first responders out of cell and radio range, unable to call for back-up; and 911 systems going haywire and routing calls to the wrong counties. On more than one occasion I learned about entire communities in recurring connectivity blackouts from damaged landlines lying exposed in roadside ditches despite pleas for proper maintenance to the providers from township trustees. These unfortunate communities already lacked cell service, and satellite Internet was far below dial-up speed, leaving them in great peril when inoperable landlines were ignored for weeks at a time by providers. Some families were even relying on walkie-talkies to check on each other!

Professors, scout leaders, Sunday School teachers, political organizers, and others bemoaned the Herculean efforts needed to reach students, members, and associates to share lesson plans, grade reports, meeting information, and details about special events. Some said they relied on telephone trees, but had to factor in the timing of calls based on when people would be in areas with cell coverage such as at work or in town on errands.

I heard from many struggling small businesses - some could not even process a credit card in less than 15 minutes in their brick and mortar stores while others had trouble fulfilling online orders or updating their websites. Business owners complained that broadband reached their competitors only a mile away, but would not extend to their location, putting them at a distinct disadvantage. Even schools and hospitals were in the same boat!

And I was mad about cupcake decorations?

I started to understand why rural areas, and especially Appalachia, were not able to keep up with the rest of the country, and why our health, safety, education and economy continued to balance precariously on a potentially crippling tipping point.

In my research I kept running across the name of the Washington D.C connectivity watchdog group, Public Knowledge. On a whim I decided to give them a call and ask why things were such a mess. I spoke to Kate Forscey, an attorney with the organization at that time, and we immediately hit it off. I told her I had been a community organizer since I was a teen, had been on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart in 2008 for my organizing with the Obama campaign, and that I got throttled one time too many. Did she have any ideas because I was ready to start organizing about rural connectivity?

She, in fact, did have an idea. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn had been on a listening tour of America in hopes of understanding the broadband challenges the entire country faces. Forscey believed the stories I had collected would be of great interest to Commissioner Clyburn.

Fast forward three months, and the Appalachian Ohio-West Virginia Connectivity Summit & Town Hall, featuring Commissioner Clyburn, went off without a hitch on July 18, 2017, thanks to the Citizens Connectivity Committee, Forscey and the team at Public Knowledge, the Center for Rural strategies, nationally known rural broadband experts who donated their time to present, and a host of volunteers from Indivisible Appalachian Ohio.

The daytime summit brought Commissioner Clyburn together with county commissioners, Ohio and West Virginia state legislators, and representatives from federal officials such as Senator Rob Portman, Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Shelly Moore Capito, Senator Joe Manchin. Delegates from Appalachian Ohio and West Virginia counties were given time with the Commissioner to explain their connectivity challenges, and their testimony is now in the FCC public record. That evening a town hall attracted citizens from the entire region to share their connectivity stories with the Commissioner.

Within a week, the Commissioner testified before that Congressional subcommittee I had learned about at the coffee shop, and shared our story. She insisted rural Americans are getting short-changed and that her experiences in Appalachia at our summit and town hall better informed her about how to solve these problems. She continues to testify, tweet and write about her experiences with us, always championing our cause for connectivity.

Recently Commissioner Clyburn has reached out to us to lead the charge in our part of Appalachia to defend net neutrality. Our team continues to fight to address these issues, but something else very exciting is happening. Many of our followers are Republicans who wholeheartedly supported the summit and town hall, and they believe that gutting net neutrality could make the abysmal connectivity in Appalachia untenable.

We are proud that our efforts brought Republicans, Democrats and Independents to the table to work together on connectivity and net neutrality. We believe broadband and net neutrality is a unifying issue in Appalachia that will get voters to the ballot box to flip the House in 2018, and we plan to involve everyone who came on board this summer as well as those who continue to find us, no matter their party affiliation.

And as for me, I am enjoying my new grandson to the fullest, and when I get battle fatigue, I remember those cupcakes and head to the coffee shop for a Frosted Cappuccino to do some organizing, because I have unfinished business with Verizon.


What You Can Do

Support Liz and her neighbors by fighting for net neutrality here at home. We have until December 14th to make a stand - even if the FCC vote doesn't change, a strong public push for net neutrality will register this ruling as a politically disastrous move for this administration.

Attend the Defend Net Neutrality Boston Protest at the Boston Verizon store this Thursday at 5pm. This is part of a national protest sponsored by a host of digital rights organizations, including Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and more. The local event is co-hosted by ACLU Massachusetts and Indivisible Somerville. We will be there with our red banner and our best memes. You can find more details on the Facebook event here - and remember to invite your friends to the rally!

Help us message rally guests who RSVPd on Facebook, reminding them to come to the rally. We have a list of attendees and a short script for you to Facebook message. We're offering rides to the rally and are here to answer any questions our fellow supporters have. Let's make it easy for everyone to show up and show their support for net neutrality. Contact volunteer@indivisiblesomerville.org to help.

Make calls to Congress, which has the power to make Chairman Pai reconsider his proposal. If you haven’t already done so, please call Senators Markey (202-224-2742) and Warren (202-224-4543) and our representatives https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and urge them to contact the chairman and demand that he drop his plan. While we’re at it, leave a message for Mr. Pai at the FCC (202-418-1000). If you’ve already made the calls, you might want to email the three FCC Commissioners who appear to be anti-neutrality: Ajit Pai, Brendan Carr, and Michael O'Rielly.

SCRIPT: Hi, my name is [NAME] and I'm a concerned customer from [CITY].

[IF CONGRESS]: I'm calling to express my support for net neutrality and a fair and open Internet. I strongly belief that the free flow of information on the Internet is critical to a healthy democracy. I'm asking [SENATOR’S OR REP’S NAME] to contact FCC Chairman Pai and demand he abandon his current plan to dismantle net neutrality. I ask that contact FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and demand he abandon his plan to dismantle net neutrality.

[IF FCC]: I'm calling to express my strong oppositions to the FCC’s attempt to kill net neutrality. Preserving an open Internet is crucial for fair and equal access to resources and information, and it is essential to a healthy democracy. Please abandon your plan to dismantle net neutrality.

Thank you for your time and attention.

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied.]

Don't mourn. Organize! (and go to events!)

On Friday, Senate Republicans managed to sweep aside their lingering disagreements and the screaming wraiths of their excised consciences, to pass a bill grotesque in its naked cruelty and greed. As of this writing, it is not clear whether the House GOP will pass the bill as-is, or send it to conference. If they do the latter, there is still a chance to defeat this.

But here's the thing: regardless of how this turns out, we know that they will keep coming back with horrible legislation. Inevitably, we will lose some of these battles. The Republicans control the entire federal government, after all. Moreover, they are backed by a phalanx of patrons who reward them richly for their service.

In progressive circles, one often hears the phrase "when we fight, we win." Of course, nobody can win every fight, and that's not what this expression promises. It simply means that as long as we keep fighting, we will keep winning. Just as we did in 2017, so we will do again in 2018, and again and again, year in and year out, until we finally wrest control of government back from this morally bankrupt cadre of reactionary clowns.

And even then our fight won't be over! But it will change. Because we will finally be back on the offense, fighting for a better society, not simply to mitigate the damage to the one we have. And that's a fight worth fighting for.

Last week

On Tuesday we hosted gubernatorial candidate Bob Massie at Canopy City. Here's a rundown from IS Leads Coordinator Ashley Tartarilla:

In the latest installment of our ongoing Somerville Speaks series, we were joined by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Massie. He discussed his potential run against incumbent Charlie Baker in 2018, as well as his more immediate run in the primaries against Jay Gonzalez and Setti Warren. The talk was followed by a question and answer session with the audience. We are excited to have now hosted all three Democratic candidates for governor at our speaker series, and look forward to hearing more from each of them as we look towards the primaries.

Other highlights of last week included Community Hours at Outreach co-lead Sharon Locavore's apartment…
and an Outreach Lab Workshop aimed at strengthening the connection between their efforts and those of other labs.

(By the way, for more photos from our events, check out our Instagram account.)

This week

Tonight (12/4) at 6pm, come to the Blue Shirt Cafe in Davis Square for the return of our Energy & Environment Lab, which has been on hiatus for a little while. They'll be charting forward their path for 2018, and with the environment in ever more dire peril, now is as good a time as ever to hop aboard the (undoubtedly biofueled) #EE train.

On Thursday 12/7, we are cosponsoring a protest to Defend Net Neutrality, in conjunction with our friends at Fight For the Future, Demand Progress, and the ACLU of Massachusetts. It begins at 5 pm at the Verizon Store at 745 Boylston St in Boston. You know what I said up there about fighting? This one is important.

On Friday, 12/8, Action Lab has its regular meeting at the Somerville Public Library at 10 am.

On Saturday, 12/9, Family Lab co-lead Lily Linke will be hosting Community Hours. Hang out with other ISers, chat about politics and other stuff, have some snacks, and maybe get some work done! That's from 11 am to 1 pm at 127 Walnut St #2 in Somerville.

Finally, later that same afternoon, Creative is hosting a website redesign planning session, from 3 to 5 pm at Canopy City.

Give

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