Abby Brockman

Indivisible Somerville member and organizer

144 posts

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.

Actions 9/29

Two important hearings next Wednesday!

Speak out for the ACCESS (Advancing Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security in our State) bill, H.536/S.499, which will guarantee coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices, and supplies, including sterilization, without a copay—no matter what happens nationally. ACA coverage remains vulnerable as federal officials appear to be finalizing a rule that would allow virtually any employer, not just a religious organization, to remove birth control coverage if contraception violates the organization’s “moral convictions.”

The bill will be heard by the Joint Committee on Financial Services in the Gardner Auditorium this Wednesday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm. Naral has info on the hearing and a sign-up form for those who plan to attend. If you can’t, you could send written testimony to the committee chairs, Senator James Eldridge and Representative Aaron Michlewitz. For more details and supporting information, see this NARAL document. Address your email to Honorable Chairmen and Members of the Joint Committee, include personal experiences or concerns, and sign with your name and address.


Support ramping up Massachusetts’ solar capacity. H.2706/S.1864, An Act Relative to Solar Power and the Green Economy, removes the barriers to solar development known as “net metering caps,” accelerates the Renewable Portfolio Standard to increase by 3% per year, and sets a statewide goal of 17.5% of electricity from solar by 2025 and 25% by 2030. It will also be heard on Wednesday, by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm in Room A-2 at the State House. If you can’t be there, send written testimony to the committee chairs, Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Thomas A. Golden. Address your email to Honorable Chairmen and Members of the Joint Committee, include personal experiences or concerns, and sign with your name and address.

Actions 9/27

Wednesday

TWO calls to congressional reps in one day? Yeah, that’s what happens when the government doesn’t act on critical issues, like Puerto Rico relief and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

First, demand that Congress provide immediate emergency disaster relief and waive the Jones Act for Puerto Rico, where 3.5 million Americans are struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Most of the island remains without power or water. There’s no cell service. Roads have been washed away or blocked by debris. At least sixteen are dead.

Recovery is made much more difficult by the Jones Act, a 1920 law that levies punitive tariffs, fees, and taxes on foreign registry vessels entering Puerto Rico. The costs are passed on to the Puerto Rican consumer, making prices there on U.S. goods at least double those in neighboring islands. Jones Act relief will save many Puerto Ricans — especially children and seniors — from potential starvation, enable islanders to find medicine at lifesaving rates, and give islanders access without the 30% Jones Act markup to international oil markets crucial for running its electric grid. Contact Senators Markey (202-224-2742) and Warren (202-224-4543) and your representative and ask them to pass immediate disaster relief.

SCRIPT: This is [NAME] and I’m a constituent in [ZIP]. I am extremely concerned that U.S. aid efforts to Puerto Rico, where U.S. citizens are in desperate need of help, are not going quickly enough and are not sufficient to prevent a humanitarian disaster. I urge [Rep/Sen____] to act swiftly to get emergency aid to Puerto Rico and to support legislation for a one-year waiver of the Jones Act to help Puerto Rico deal with the massive recovery effort it faces.

And if you can, please make a donation. The Indivisible team recommends donating to Unidos. It's managed by the Hispanic Federation, a leading Latino nonprofit organization with more than 25 years of experience providing disaster-relief assistance to Latinos in the U.S. and Latin America. 100% of proceeds will help hurricane victims and the recovery effort through community and civic organizations in Puerto Rico. See this PBS article for other places to donate.


Second, let’s tell Congress to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), whose funding will expire on September 30. A federally funded, state-administered block grant, CHIP serves nearly 9 million children during the course of a year. It allows states to offer coverage to children at income levels too high not qualify for Medicaid.

It’s a popular and generally bipartisan program that's played an important role for 20 years in ensuring children grow up healthy, but Congress has yet to renew its funding, causing uncertainty for families and state policymakers as the school year starts. Some Republican lawmakers have suggested using the CHIP reauthorization bill to force through partisan legislation. Such a move would slow funding reauthorization and put pressure on already stretched state CHIP budgets. Contact Senators Markey (202-224-2742) and Warren (202-224-4543) and your representative and urge them to pass a clean reauthorization bill now.

SCRIPT: Hi. This is [NAME] calling from [ZIP] to urge [NAME] to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program for five years without any policy riders before funding lapses on September 30th. Millions of children rely on this funding. Can you tell me what the [SENATOR/REPRESENTATIVE] is doing to insure a clean reauthorization of CHIP?

Actions 9/25 and 9/26

Monday

This is the week to stop Graham-Cassidy. They're going to keep wheeling and dealing to get the votes, and we have to keep fighting back. Here are some ways we can do that.

  • Use this script to urge Senators Markey (202-224-2742) and Warren (202-224-4543) to run out the clock.
  • Try this easy peer-to-peer dialing tool for persuading friendly constituents of key senators to contact their representatives, and then patching them through.
  • Contact friends and families in other states. They can find info here on why four independent studies say the plan would likely leave millions of insured Americans without health coverage and strip benefits and protections from millions more. Indivisible Guide has scripts tailored to senators in eight critical states (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia). Or people can call their senators with this simple script, adding details about how the bill will affect them personally.

    SCRIPT: Hi, This is [NAME] and I’m a constituent in [ZIP]. I'm calling to urge the senator to oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill. Like millions of others, I rely on the ACA to keep health care affordable, and repealing it puts me at risk. I want Senator [NAME] to vote against the Graham-Cassidy bill currently before Congress. Thank you.

  • Join Cambridge-Somerville for Change to make calls to constituents in targeted states and connect them to their senators to voice their opposition to the bill. They’ll be calling on Monday and Tuesday.

Tuesday

Tell Scott Pruitt and the EPA not to roll back the Clean Water Act of 2015. They’ve signaled their intent to define the act very narrowly, providing protections only to “navigable waters,” which would exclude thousands of miles of smaller streams and millions of acres of wetlands. Since many of these smaller waterways are in the headwaters of larger rivers, pollution from excluded streams would inevitably impact navigable waters downstream. These streams provide drinking water to millions of Americans and are connected to ground water supplies. Polluting them is polluting the major waterways.

We have until September 27 to comment here on the proposed changes. For more information and a script, see the Energy and Environment Lab’s post from August 28.


Support S. 81, An Act Promoting Housing and Sustainable Development, which will be heard by the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses this Thursday 9/28 at 10:00 am in Room A-1 at the State House. Ranking 44th in the country in housing affordability, Massachusetts faces a livability crisis. A minimum-wage worker would have to work 83 hours weekly to afford a modest one-bedroom at fair-market rent, and one in four renters spends at least half their household income on rent.

S.81 modernizes state land use laws for the first time in forty years, encouraging greater affordable housing production and sustainable, transit-oriented development. It requires cities and towns to permit more multi-family housing production, codifies inclusionary zoning, and allows homeowners to create accessory dwelling units on their property to house relatives or generate rental income to help them afford their own homes. It creates a predictable process for cities and towns to assess impact fees on developers to offset the cost of infrastructure and enables developers to cluster development in order to conserve land. The bill also requires communities to build natural resource protection, energy efficiency, and renewable energy into their master planning process so that growth does not come at the expense of sustainability.

You can testify in person at the hearing and/or in writing by emailing the Committee Chairs, Senator Julian Cyr and Representative Edward F. Coppinger. Please modify this script to reflect your own experiences and concerns.

SCRIPT: Honorable Chairmen and Members of the Joint Committee:

I am writing in support of S. 81, An Act Promoting Housing and Sustainable Development. The issues of affordable housing and sustainability are making our state a less desirable and less feasible place to live, especially for young people and lower-wage workers. We need to begin planning in a thoughtful and systematic manner to make housing decisions that are responsive to our residents’ needs and promote the kind of economic growth that will lead to a future that is both prosperous and sustainable. S.81 is an essential step in that direction. I respectfully request that you support this bill.

Sincerely,

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