Abby Brockman

Indivisible Somerville member and organizer

142 posts

Actions 10/16 and 10/17

Monday

Let’s go all out to pass the Massachusetts Senate’s criminal justice bill (S2170). Our criminal justice system is badly in need of reform, with a prison population four to five times larger than four decades ago, and incarceration rates that disproportionately affect black and Hispanic residents. We have the highest Hispanic-to-white disparity in the US and a higher than average disparity between blacks and whites. The Senate bill goes a long way toward addressing these issues, but the House appears to be considering a much more conservative bill.

Key provisions of the Senate bill:

  • Removal of mandatory minimums for offenders for nonviolent drug violations.
  • Expansion of diversion eligibility.
  • Elimination of some court fees, such as the indigent counsel fee and parole fees.
  • Complete overhaul of the bail system, ensuring bail will be more affordable to all defendants.
  • Protections for inmates in solitary confinement.
  • Raise of the age of criminal majority and criminal culpability.
  • Sealing of criminal records (CORIs) after 3 years for misdemeanors and 7 years after felonies; seals juvenile records after 1 year.
  • Lift of the felony theft threshold to $1,500 from $250.
  • Requirement for the court to make written findings before sentencing a primary caretaker.

This is our best chance for meaningful criminal justice reform in Massachusetts. We can’t allow the House to undercut it. Let’s act now by calling or writing our House representatives and telling them we strongly support the Senate’s bill and we want the House to enact its provisions in their version of the bill. For bonus points, tell your senator to do everything possible to ensure the criminal justice bill passes the Senate by a margin big enough to force the House to support similar reforms.

Update

The ACLU has pointed out some flaws in the Senate criminal justice bill. You'll find them outlined here.


Deadline reminder

Last chance to tell Homeland Security what we think of its plan to include “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” in the immigration files of all immigrants, including permanent residents and naturalized citizens. You can comment on the plan at Regulations.gov through October 17. See our October 2 post for details.


Tuesday

It’s time to push to get the Mass Safe Communities Act out of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security and onto the floor for a vote. The bill’s hearing was all the way back in May, this summer's Lunn decision supported key provisions, the Trump administration’s been stepping up its targeting of immigrants in Massachusetts—and still the SCA sits in committee.

We need to tell our legislators to push for the bill. Progressive Massachusetts has info on each legislator’s stand as well as basic scripts tailored to those stands. Let’s add our own twist to the scripts by urging our legislators to pressure the committee chairs to report out the bill favorably so the legislature can finally vote.

Actions 10/11 and 10/12

Wednesday

We need to keep after Congress to pass the Dream Act (S.1615/H.R.3440). There’s been a lot of noise lately about many issues, but we can’t let our representatives forget that the country’s Dreamers are in crisis, their fates in the hands of Congress as the president makes his heartless demands. Last Wednesday, we asked you to call your Massachusetts representatives and urge them to fight for a clean Dream Act. It’s helpful to repeat those calls weekly. Here’s how.

Let’s also enlist our friends and family members in other states to talk to their representatives about the Dream Act. The Indivisible Team has supplied a calling script as well as information about the number of Dreamers in each state.


Thursday

Get Americans covered by the ACA. Health insurance open enrollment begins November 1, and it’s time to start spreading the word—the administration decided to shorten the enrollment window this year. Now there’s a group that can help. Two former officials who worked on the sign-up campaigns under Obama have launched an initiative, Get America Covered, to stand in for the administration's dramatically scaled-back efforts. They’ve got information on helping friends and family enroll and on starting an open enrollment street team, and their fliers, fact sheets, Facebook and Twitter graphics, and suggested posts make it easy to help people get the health coverage they're entitled to.

Actions 10/4 and 10/5

Wednesday

Our members of Congress have spoken out for the country’s 800,000 Dreamers (9,030 in Massachusetts). Now we need them to push for the DREAM Act (S.1615 / H.R.3440), which would give DACA recipients and others who arrived in the United States as children a path to permanent lawful status and eventual citizenship. As Republicans try to change the subject to taxes and confuse things with their watered-down alternative to the DREAM Act (the SUCCEED Act), we’ve got to keep Congressional phones ringing with support for the DREAM Act. Let’s call Senators Markey (202-224-2742) and Warren (202-224-4543) and our representatives and urge them to include a clean DREAM Act in any must-pass legislation. The script below is derived from the Indivisible Guide. You can find their full suggested dialogue here.

SCRIPT: Hello, My name is [NAME] and I’m calling from [ZIPCODE]. I’m extremely concerned about President Trump’s decision to terminate DACA protection for 800,000 Dreamers who came to the United States as children. I appreciate the [Senator's/Representative's] support for DACA, and I want to urge him/her to push to include the DREAM Act in any must-pass bill scheduled for a vote this month. Thank you.

Thursday

Spread the word that ACA health insurance open enrollment starts in one month. Since the president cut advertising budget by 90%, it’s up to us.

Many thanks to Jen Hoffman for this one.

Actions 10/2

Oppose DHS’s proposed social media monitoring of immigrants and citizens. We have until October 18 to comment about the proposal on Regulations.gov. Without a big public outcry, the change will go into effect October 18. This policy will allow DHS to collect information from a broad, vaguely defined array of sources, including traditional social media, search results, and just about any other digital means. They’ll be checking on immigrants, their legal guardians, green-card holders, and naturalized citizens, and they plan to retain this information for an indefinite period of time. The monitoring could easily pull in information on American citizens as well who communicate via digital means with immigrants.

Please comment as soon as possible! Be sure to include any personal stories or expertise on the subject. For more details, see these stories in Buzzfeed and the New York Times.

Good News

We handed Republicans a defeat (again) in their attempt to repeal Obamacare, again. We spoke out fast, and we spoke out powerfully. Indivisible members pressured Congress in more than 300,000 calls and 172 events. Disability rights advocates from ADAPT protested bravely and effectively and disrupted a Senate hearing. Health-care advocates spoke up, some Republicans turned against the bill, and we won. Again.


After the president attacked football players’ rights to silent and peaceful protest, the protests only increased. Players, coaches, and team owners linked arms, spoke out, or took a knee, and NFL ratings for the weekend after Trump’s tirade were up, not down.


Even Tom Brady criticized Trump’s remarks. “I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive."


LeBron James’s “you bum” tweet directed at President Trump was way more popular than any of Trump’s tweets, retweeted more than 620,000 times as of last Sunday afternoon as opposed to 335,657 for Trump’s most popular tweet, his all-caps celebration of his election victory.


Florida’s Democratic Party picked up a crucial seat in the Florida Senate when Democrat Annette Taddeo won in a special election triggered by the resignation of Republican Frank Artiles over racist remark.


Democrat Kari Lerner pulled off a surprising win in a New Hampshire special election for a district in which Republican have a 2-1 advantage in registration. It’s the third time since May that Democrats flipped a House seat in a New Hampshire special election.


Democrats have now flipped 30% of the Republican-held state legislative seats that have come open in 2017. The average Trump margin in these seats in 2016 was 19 points.


Bethel AME, a Jamaica Plain church, opened its doors to an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, a father of five who is fleeing federal immigration authorities. The historically black congregation is the second church in Massachusetts to provide sanctuary to an immigrant facing deportation and, church leaders believe, the first African-American church nationwide to do so.


Massachusetts ranked as the most energy efficient state for the seventh year in a row, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.


Charlie Baker and Marty Walsh established a fund, Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico, to help rebuild Puerto Rico and said the state and city are ready to help those who relocate from Puerto Rico to the Bay State.


Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, delivered a forceful denunciation of racism to thousands of cadets after someone wrote racial slurs outside the dorm rooms of five black students. He warned students that he would not tolerate racism at the academy, saying "If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, get out."


President Trump waived the Jones Act, a law that restricts shipping to Puerto Rico in a way that, the island's governor said, complicates and raises the price of hurricane relief.


It’s not nearly enough, but… We celebrate where we can, and FEMA announced Tuesday they’re sending the hospital ship USNS Comfort to help the people of Puerto Rico—2 days after Hillary Clinton tweeted that they should do so.


It’s really not nearly enough, but African-American and Hispanic families and people without college degrees had the fastest rise in wealth in the U.S. from 2013 to 2016, with African-American household wealth increasing by 30% and Hispanic household wealth by 46%—but white families still have nearly 10 times the amount of wealth.


Tom Price resigned after racking up at least $400,000 in private charter flights. Yesterday, in an effort to satisfy Trump, Price offered to reimburse the government $51,887.


House Democrats introduced a discharge petition to force an up-or-down floor vote on the Dream Act.


Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Oversight Committee requested detailed travel records from the White House and 24 departments and agencies dating back to Trump's first day in office. They’re looking into political appointees’ use of government planes for personal travel and their use of private charters for official travel.


The Senate unanimously passed the CHRONIC Care Act, a bill aimed at making Medicare more efficient and lowering costs, the same day Republicans abandoned a vote on the Graham-Cassidy Act. The act expands an ObamaCare program providing care for seniors in their homes, gives new tools to groups of doctors for coordinating patient care, and expands the use of telehealth.


A U.S. District judge permanently struck down provisions of an Indiana law that would have banned abortions sought due to fetal genetic abnormalities and required that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.


And a different U.S. District judge ruled that the Kentucky law requiring doctors who conduct abortions to perform ultrasounds first and describe the image to the patient violates the physicians’ First Amendment rights.


The ACLU of Missouri filed suit against the city of St. Louis for unlawful and unconstitutional actions against protesters after the Stockley verdict.


NASA named a new building after African-American math pioneer Katherine Johnson.


Saudi Arabia's King Salman has issued a decree allowing women to drive. The order will be implemented by June 2018.


News from MIRA. The legislature voted to override the governor’s veto of $850,000 from a budget item to support English classes and basic education, restoring it to the original $28.8 million.


Maryland has eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers.


The first named public statue of a black person in Philly has just been unveiled, honoring Octavius V. Catto, an educator, scholar, writer, pioneering baseball player, and fearless civil rights activist who fought unflaggingly for an equitable society in the wake of the Civil War.


A group of prominent evangelical Christians are circulating a letter calling on President Trump to take further steps to condemn white supremacists, specifically those in the alt-right.


YouTube has demonetized accounts linked to hate speech, a big hit to the bottom line for conservative YouTube personalities


Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that transgender troops who meet existing standards should not be kicked out of the military.


Monsanto lobbyists were banned from entering the European parliament after the firm refused to attend a parliamentary hearing into allegations it unduly influenced studies into the safety of glyphosate used in its RoundUp weedkiller.


Boston University researchers have moved closer to identifying a way to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in the living.


The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify on Russian meddling at a public hearing on November 1.


Target raised their minimum hourly wage to $11/hour in an effort to retain staff, and they plan to reach $15/hour by 2020.


A federal judge ruled that a Louisiana police officer couldn’t sue Black Lives Matter after he was injured during a protest, saying the group, as a social movement, could not be sued.


The National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35” debut writers are all women.


The Royal Caribbean cruise line cancelled an upcoming cruise so that one of their ships, which holds 3,800 people, could pick up evacuees and bring supplies to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.


An Indiana man was arrested for assault and battery in the Charlottesville protests. With help from Shaun King, the man had been identified from a cell phone video.


Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner shocked many on both sides of the aisle when he signed a bill expanding taxpayer funding of abortion and ensuring the procedure remained legal in the state.


A federal appeals court ruled that day laborers in Oyster Bay, New York, have a first-amendment right to find work by congregating on the streets.


A far-right March Against Communism rally scheduled for after Christmas in Charlotte, North Carolina was cancelled before planning really got underway, with one headliner pulling out and other white nationalist leaders warning their followers not to participate.


Apparently angered by Jared Kushner’s failure to mention the existence of his personal email account when he spoke with the Foreign Intelligence Committee, the committee chairs demanded he turn over every relevant document from every communication channel he might have used.


The House Oversight Committee asked the White House for information about the use of private emails for government duties by Jared Kushner and five other current and former senior aides.


The IRS Criminal Investigation division is sharing information with Robert Mueller about Trump's campaign associates, including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.


Robert Mueller could start interviewing current and former White House staff as soon as this week. On Mueller's short list are Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Hope Hicks, Don McGahn, Josh Raffel, and James Burnham. Related, Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has said he's been informed by Mueller that he will be indicted as part of the FBI's Russia probe, and a Democratic senator said he's "99% sure" Michael Flynn will also be indicted.


Robert Mueller, moving forward on several different fronts, appears to be getting close to a litigation phase, according to this article summarizing seven signs Mueller’s Russia investigation is getting serious.