December 19 Mass Action Newsletter

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Editor's Note

For our last newsletter of 2020 and the last Editor's Note from your current editor, we'd like to leave you with this charming (but sweary) video, which supports the Mental Health Coalition. It fully expresses how a lot of us feel about this year.

It's been a pleasure and a privilege to produce this newsletter every week. Keep the faith!
 
December 19, 2020

IN TOUCH WITH INDIVISIBLE

Join the Indivisible People Lead Event Jan. 13

On Wednesday, January 13 let’s meet with our Congressional Representative as part of the Indivisible National The People Lead event!

Natalie Dunn, Indivisible National Regional Organizer for CT, MA and RI, has pulled together a “one-stop-shop cheat sheet” to help all of us better prepare and plan an event that will attract media attention.

Contact your Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition Coordinating Board representative if your Indivisible or allied group wants help organizing an event. Indivisibles around the country are planning meetings with their elects to Congress to ask them to support the following important policy goals:
  • For the People Act (HR 1), a democracy reform package that would quickly and effectively strengthen our democracy and empower voters
  • Grant statehood for DC, a key democracy and racial justice issue
  • Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (HR 4), named for the civil rights icon and vital to ending voter suppression
  • Reform the Courts, to set the course for a less hyper-partisan process for selecting and appointing judges, undoing the damage to these institutions caused by Trump and McConnell
As a refresher, the entire MA delegation were co-sponsors of the original DC Statehood bill! The newly elected Jake Auchincloss (MA-04) needs to catch up to his colleagues. We as constituents must keep all our elected officials accountable and let them know we have their backs in support of the four key policy goals. See you in January!   

Submitted by Deb Paul, Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition
Indivisibles Meet Legislators on Transparency Initiative

On Tuesday night Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition (IMC) held a Town Hall with Act on Mass on the Transparency is Power Campaign. It was a most informative and motivating session and many more have signed up to take action and meet with their state representative as a result.

If you missed this event you can listen to/watch the recording at any time. A link to the recording is in the IMC Toolkit for the Transparency initiative. Watch the recording to learn and be inspired to join in with others who are helping to improve democracy in the MA State House!

IMC members voted to endorse the Act on Mass Transparency is Power initiative on December 4. Here’s what motivated them to do so as well as to take action in this effort.

Do you ever wonder why the Massachusetts legislature has not been able to pass popular and progressive legislation despite having a Democratic supermajority in the House and Senate?

This is why:
Currently the MA legislature is one of the least transparent and ineffective in the country. With a Democratic supermajority in the State House and Senate, they still can’t pass important legislation which has been waiting too long already. We can’t see how our state representatives vote in committee, so even when a bill has a supermajority of co-sponsors it can be stuck in committees for years and then die. Changes in the House rules would make it clearer what is happening and how our representatives are working for us, or not. Since the House approves its rules at the start of the two-year session, these changes need to happen in January, 2021.

As you may know, Act On Mass and other groups are resuming the fight to make the State House work for everyone with some common sense rule changes, to break the log jam and get valuable legislation passed.
The campaign has three simple goals:
  1. Require more open votes in committees (so we can know who votes for which bills).
  2. Decrease the number of representatives needed to require a roll-call vote, from 16 to 8.
  3. Make bills public 72 hours before voting, to allow time for the people and their representatives to review them.
These simple rule changes alone would make the work of the House more transparent and accountable to the people. This is why many Indivisibles have joined this effort and have met with or are taking steps and working with Act on Mass to plan and meet with their State Legislators. Get started and take action here! Thank you!

Deb Paul on behalf of the Indivisible Mass Coalition Coordinating Board
Volunteers Needed to Publish in 2021

The first edition of this newsletter was on March 25, 2018 and it was published by Denise Falbo. She has been publishing the Mass Action Newsletter every Saturday since then, and we, Indivisibles, around MA are most appreciative of her outstanding dedication. Today, December 19, 2020 is Denise’s last publication and we all thank her for her awesome volunteer work, wise editor’s notes, and general publishing excellence!

The next publication is on Saturday, January 9, 2021 when this newsletter will need to be produced by new volunteers.

This newsletter is a group effort by Indivisibles like you who contribute articles along with our progressive partners. Volunteers make the newsletter happen every week and we are seeking a team of volunteers to publish this newsletter. If you have a few hours/week to contribute to this valued resource and are interested in this exciting and rewarding activity, please email news@indivisible-ma.org and start 2021 with an immediate major positive impact.

Do you like to write, take photos, use your creativity, graphic arts skills? These skills can help amplify the efforts of Indivisibles! So if you'd like to volunteer your skills to advance the progressive movement here in Massachusetts, please get in touch.

Thank you Denise and we wish you all the best in 2021!

The Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition Coordinating Board
The IMC Book Club is Here

For the new year, the IMC Book Club will be discussing Caste, the acclaimed new book about the unspoken caste system that has shaped America, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson on Wednesday, January 27 at 7:30 P.M. RSVP here.

Can’t make the book club meeting? Share your thoughts in the book club or racial justice channels on our Slack. If you’re not already a member of our Slack workspace, you can sign up here.

Submitted by Amanda Graff, Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition

MORNING COFFEE ACTIONS

Actions you can do while enjoying your morning cup!
Tell MA Regulators to Help Save Right Whales

North Atlantic right whales are endangered. 85 percent of right whales have been entangled at least once in their lives, and over half of the population has been entangled more than once.

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries released draft regulations to protect right whales that migrate off our coast. These proposed regulations are insufficient and do not completely address the issue of entanglements, the leading cause of right whale deaths.

The right whale population is dwindling: scientists estimate that there are only 366 left. Now is the time to act.

We need to get as much rope out of the water as we can–and fast. Ropeless fishing gear can help solve the problem of right whale entanglements, while helping the fishing industry thrive. A pathway towards advancing ropeless gear permitting is currently not being considered by DMF in its draft regulations.

Tell Massachusetts state regulators you care about the right whales and want to save them. Submit a comment today. We don’t have time to waste to save right whales.

Submitted by Alanna Kelly
Add IMC to Your Holiday Gift List

Please remember to add Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition (IMC) to your holiday gift wish list and have others join in and help support the statewide organization. IMC depends on your financial contributions in order to provide resources and support its members. We amplify Indivisibles’ voices, help connect activists to each other, and help generate support for issues they care about.

Join in with others in MA and take a few minutes today to donate and add this link to your gift wish list. Your contributions make a significant positive impact to this all volunteer statewide organization. Thank you and happy holidays!

The Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition Coordinating Board

FEATURES

Update on ROE and Police Reform

Last week, Governor Baker rejected the MA Legislature’s concession on the ROE Act (included in Section 40 of the budget) and created his own ROE amendment. In it, he rejected outright any repeal of parental consent, even for 16-18 year olds who are permitted by law to make all other sex/pregnancy related decisions. Baker ignores that parental consent and judicial bypass are racist and sexist barriers that intimidate and stigmatize girls, delay abortions, send teens out of state, or, worse, lead them to try unsafe methods to end a pregnancy. He has left tele-hearings introduced during COVID in place for teens who seek judicial bypass, again ignoring that removing the barrier is the way to move to justice.

Baker also seeks to alter the standard for cases of lethal fetal diagnosis, demanding justification of the poor state of a patient’s mental health, rather than base our laws on compassion and trust in trained care providers. Although he has agreed to repeal criminal penalties for providers who offer this care, he includes new civil penalties.

Last week, the Governor also rejected some of the most important pieces of the legislature’s compromise Police Reform bill. He has removed the ban on facial recognition technology which endangers people of color. He wants to keep oversight and reform in the hands of police and police unions which has failed to make any meaningful changes thus far.

Shockingly, Governor Baker has removed affirming language that ensures that police treat everyone the same regardless of race. He is so aligned with his party that he has struck the simple statement that policing decisions should not “consider a person’s race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, mental or physical disability, immigration status or socioeconomic or professional level.”

According to Governor Baker, it seems that black lives sort of matter and women can make their own health care decisions, sometimes.

What happens next is convoluted and while the process is the same, these two bills will most likely take different paths. A simple majority vote of both chambers before Dec 24 can reject the Governor’s amendments. December 24 is important to avoid a “pocket veto” where, if ignored for 10 days, bills die because the session is over. When the legislators reject a governor’s amendment, the governor can sign or veto it, at which point then the legislators will need to over-ride the veto, but with a two-thirds majority vote, which is 106 votes in the House.

This is the process that has begun for ROE. The House has rejected the Baker amendment with a veto-proof majority of 107 votes and the Senate has just done the same with 32 vote veto-proof majority. At which point, it becomes a stand-alone bill that the Governor can sign or veto. Since there appears to be a super-majority, legislators feel secure that this is the route to take, although your calls and emails of support for these legislators is still important as are your calls to Governor Baker, making it clear that the people have spoken.

The case is worse for Police Reform. Baker has gutted the most impactful elements from this bill. Legislators can over-ride with a simple majority in both, but unlike ROE, this does not have a chance for a two-thirds majority vote when it returns to Governor Baker and he vetoes it, which he has promised he will do.

In the House, there were only 91 votes in favor of the bill, far short of the 106 majority needed to over-ride a veto. This could mean that the whole thing, including some positive improvements will die. Legislators must consider the serious consequences of ending up with no bill at all: no civilian-majority POST committee, no ban on chokeholds, no ban on no-knock warrants, no ability to modify qualified immunity, no process to certify or de-certify, and the loss of the ability to keep bad officers from just being rehired again in a different town.

For these two issues, it appears the legislature worked very hard to find consensus and passed important legislation to secure rights for all in the Commonwealth. This, during an unprecedented time and in extended session, while dealing with a host of very serious issues as a result of the raging pandemic.

Our Governor, on the other hand, rather than respecting the work of the body elected to represent the people of MA, has substituted his personal judgment, revealing that his priorities are not racial justice, reproductive justice, or active anti-racism. After months and years of our members’ grassroots advocacy and legislative process, Baker is using his power to thwart progress. Make no mistake, he is moderate only in comparison to the likes of McConnell, Graham, and Trump.

So, it seems that we will have better reproductive justice in 2021, but shamefully, because of Governor Baker, it looks like our legislature may have to compromise on racial justice. Given the chance to be pro-choice and anti-racist, Governor Baker has returned to his roots and turned his back on equity. But let’s remind him that here in MA at least, he’s expected to represent all of us.

Your action can still help make a difference. It's still very important for you to Call Gov. Baker and pressure him to support the Police Reform bill and to withdraw his racially biased changes and instead act like the Boston Celtics!  The Celtics support a ban on facial recognition and the police reform bill and so should Baker!

Submitted by Laurie Veninger, Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition
U.S. Dept of Justice Calls for Reform in MA Prisons

In a recent investigation of the MA correctional system. the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), found that Massachusetts grossly violates prisoners’ constitutional rights. The Boston Globe (11/27) described the DOJ’s findings as “tales of neglect and deprivation and human callousness so disturbing as to be unconscionable in a modern prison setting.”

The DOJ report is potentially a game-changer: An oversight authority is requiring change, and proposing to be closely involved in implementation! A similar recent situation in Virginia led to a consent decree and an independent monitor.

However, in the words of the Boston Globe, “this investigation must not be allowed to gather dust on a shelf… The DOC has shown in recent years that it cannot be left to reform its own practices without a watchdog to keep it honest. Lelling can and should make sure that happens.”

Only public pressure on the Baker administration, and appeal to US Attorney Lelling to stay vigilant, will realize the DOJ investigation’s potential for reform. We hope you will work with us!  In your own words, tell Governor Baker and the DOC leadership that the violence reported by the DOJ is disgraceful; solitary confinement is cruel and damaging; Correction Officer (CO) hiring should include a mental health evaluation; COs should get mental health and de-escalation training; and the DOC should focus on rehabilitation and education, not punishment.

The following email template specifies some critical demands:

Email title: US Dept. of Justice Report on the DOC, Action Needed Now

Email body: I support the following demands and I want to know how you intend to respond:
  • Eliminate the practice of isolating people who are in a mental health crisis in solitary confinement; people experiencing a mental health crisis should be placed in a therapeutic environment.  
  • Accountability must include discipline, up to and including termination of all persons who played a role in fostering the conditions that resulted in the constitutional deprivations found by the Justice Department. This should include all levels of DOC personnel or staff.
  • Transparency and independent oversight must increase so that the community can properly monitor what happens to our family, friends, and neighbors while they are incarcerated. To advance this goal, DOC should eliminate unfair and burdensome charges for telephone usage currently in place that block communication.  
  • At a bare minimum, DOC must be required to collect and report data on LGBTQ individuals (a vulnerable population) held in solitary confinement and mental health watch.
Email or call the following:
  • Andrew Peck, Undersecretary of Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, andrew.peck@mass.gov
    (617) 727-7775
  • Carol Mici, Commissioner of MA Department of Corrections, Carol.Mici@doc.state.ma.us
    (508) 422-3302
  • Governor Charlie Baker, charlie.baker@state.ma.us 
    CC: USAMA.CivilRights@usdoj.gov
    (617) 725-4005
  • U.S. Attorney's Office, ask to speak to the Civil Rights Intake Specialist.
    (617) 748-3100
Submitted by Lisa Baci, Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition

EVENTS CALENDAR

Hear Inspiring Stories From Traveling Activists

Sit by the virtual fireplace, snuggle up with a hot cocoa and listen to five spellbinding tales of election travelers who defended our democracy this November. Then learn about voter protection on the ground in Georgia!

Establishing personal connections with voters during Covid was not an easy task. In Part II of Election 2020 Travelers Tales, you'll hear from people who experienced transformative and powerful moments related to their work on the 2020 elections at a time of great division and isolation in our country.

Their stories, photos, and videos show that volunteers from Blue states can help defend our elections on the ground and that our help is appreciated. Sit by the virtual fire and enjoy tales from:
  • Canvassing for Steve Bullock in Montana (Jeff Angus)
  • Connecting with Immigrant Communities with the New Mainers Alliance (Mutaz Abdelrahim and Rachel Massey)
  • Protecting the vote in Rural Wisconsin (Hari Kumar)
  • Protecting the count in Philly (Margaret Kwateng)
  • Still Time to Protect the Vote in Georgia (Kathleen Borschow)
RSVP here.

Day      Sunday, December 20
Time    7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Submitted by Susan Labandibar , Swing Left Greater Boston
That's Not All...

Find more events on the Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition Calendar.

NEWS FROM the BERKSHIRES to BOSTON,
THE CAPE, AND ISLANDS

Links to Local News from Around MA

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Our Mission
The Indivisible mission is to fuel a progressive grassroots network of local groups to resist the Trump Agenda.

Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition is a consortium of leaders from more than 250 local Massachusetts Indivisible groups, working together to bring our groups together for events and to leverage our numbers to make our efforts more effective.

RECOMMENDED READING

The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism    
by Thomas Frank
Rarely does a work of history contain startling implications for the present, but in The People, No Thomas Frank pulls off that explosive effect by showing us that everything we think we know about populism is wrong. Today “populism” is seen as a frightening thing, a term pundits use to describe the racist philosophy of Donald Trump and European extremists. But this is a mistake.

The real story of populism is an account of enlightenment and liberation; it is the story of American democracy itself, of its ever-widening promise of a decent life for all. Taking us from the tumultuous 1890s, when the radical left-wing Populist Party—the biggest mass movement in American history—fought Gilded Age plutocrats to the reformers’ great triumphs under Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, Frank reminds us how much we owe to the populist ethos. Frank also shows that elitist groups have reliably detested populism, lashing out at working-class concerns. The anti-populist vituperations by the Washington centrists of today are only the latest expression.

Frank pummels the elites, revisits the movement’s provocative politics, and declares true populism to be the language of promise and optimism. The People, No is a ringing affirmation of a movement that, Frank shows us, is not the problem of our times, but the solution for what ails us.

The Half Has Never Been Told, Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
by Edward E. Baptist
Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told is the latest attempt to come to terms with slavery and its enduring legacies. As Baptist makes clear, his book is about “how slavery constantly grew, changed, and reshaped the modern world” (xxii); it reveals the violence, theft, and modernity of American slavery and what it meant for those who survived the rapid expansion of racial slavery during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State
by Megan Ming Francis
Free to download from Cambridge University Press.
Through a sweeping archival analysis of the NAACP's battle against lynching and mob violence from 1909 to 1923, this book examines how the NAACP raised public awareness, won over American presidents, and secured the support of Congress.

The New Jim Crow
by Michelle Alexander
“Two years after Obama’s election, Alexander put the entire criminal justice system on trial, exposing racial discrimination from lawmaking to policing to the denial of voting rights to ex-prisoners. This bestseller struck the spark that would eventually light the fire of Black Lives Matter.” —Ibram X. Kendi, The New York Times.

Fascism: A Warning
by Madeleine Albright
A personal and urgent examination of fascism in the twentieth century and how its legacy shapes today’s world, written by one of America’s most admired public servants, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state. #1 New York Times Bestseller.

Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy
by Matt Stoller
A startling look at how concentrated financial power and consumerism transformed American politics, resulting in the emergence of populism and authoritarianism and the fall of the Democratic Party, while also providing the steps needed to create a new democracy.
Submitted by Matt Barron, Indivisible Williamsburg

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
by Jane Mayer
One of the New York Times best books of the year.
Who are the immensely wealthy right-wing ideologues shaping the fate of America today? From the bestselling author of The Dark Side, an electrifying work of investigative journalism that uncovers the agenda of this powerful group.

In her new preface, Jane Mayer discusses the results of the most recent election and Donald Trump's victory, and how, despite much discussion to the contrary, this was a huge victory for the billionaires who have been pouring money in the American political system.

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
by Nancy MacLean
“[A] vibrant intellectual history of the radical right . . . [MacLean] has dug deep into her material—not just Buchanan’s voluminous, unsorted papers, but other archives, too—and she has made powerful and disturbing use of it all. . . . The behind-the-scenes days and works of Buchanan show how much deliberation and persistence—in the face of formidable opposition—underlie the anti-governing politics ascendant today. What we think of as dysfunction is the result of years of strategic effort.” —The Atlantic

Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life
by Eric Klinenberg
Eric Klinenberg is a professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. In this book, he focuses on how social infrastructure can help fight inequality, polarization, and the decline of civic life.

"In Palaces for the People, Eric Klinenberg offers a new perspective on what people and places have to do with each other, by looking at the social side of our physical spaces." —New York Times

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History
by Kurt Andersen
“The single most important explanation, and the fullest explanation, of how Donald Trump became president of the United States . . . nothing less than the most important book that I have read this year.”—Lawrence O’Donnell

How Democracies Die
by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
Both authors are Professors of Government at Harvard University. Based on years of research into the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, the authors present a deep understanding of how and why democracies die; an alarming analysis of how democracy is being subverted today in the US and beyond; and a guide for maintaining and repairing a threatened democracy, for governments, political parties, and individuals.
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