Category Archives: Grass Roots Activist Groups

From Bernie: New Medicare for All Push

From the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON ― In the wake of the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday, leading figures in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are rallying behind a single-payer health insurance and a raft of other bold reforms.

These lawmakers and grassroots leaders have long believed that the problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are rooted in the original health care law’s attempt to accommodate, rather than gradually replace, the private, for-profit health insurance system.

Now that efforts to eliminate the law wholesale are effectively dead, they are again arguing that the best way to improve the country’s health care system is to confront the power of corporate health care provider more directly.

“We have got to have the guts to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies and move forward toward a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” on Friday night. “And I’ll be introducing legislation shortly to do that.”

WASHINGTON ― In the wake of the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday, leading figures in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are rallying behind a single-payer health insurance and a raft of other bold reforms.

These lawmakers and grassroots leaders have long believed that the problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are rooted in the original health care law’s attempt to accommodate, rather than gradually replace, the private, for-profit health insurance system.

Now that efforts to eliminate the law wholesale are effectively dead, they are again arguing that the best way to improve the country’s health care system is to confront the power of corporate health care provider more directly.

“We have got to have the guts to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies and move forward toward a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” on Friday night. “And I’ll be introducing legislation shortly to do that.”

Even before the Republicans withdrew their Obamacare repeal bill, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee and a close Sanders ally, previewed this message at a rally in defense of Obamacare on Thursday.

“Don’t just be satisfied with defeating Trumpcare ― set your sights on creating real Medicare for all!” he told a cheering crowd of hundreds of activists.

Representatives of several major progressive organizations ― the Working Families Party, the Progressive Campaign Change Committee, Credo, Social Security Works and the National Nurses United ― all echoed this push in conversations with The Huffington Post on Friday and Saturday.

“The problem is the insurance companies, Big Pharma ― they’re gonna come back and use the chaos to their advantage,” predicted Social Security Works executive director Alex Lawson. “If Democrats go with a half-a-loaf policy, Republicans are going to blame them for the failures of Big Pharma. They have to immediately pivot to expanding Medicare.”

Notwithstanding the support of the influential groups for the proposal and ― according to a May 2016 Gallup poll ― even a majority of the American people, Medicare-for-all legislation is a non-starter in the current Congress. Single-payer health insurance still lacks support from many, if not most, Democrats, let alone from the Republican lawmakers who control both chambers.

But the proactive strategy speaks to increasing confidence among progressives that if they stick to their ideals and build a grassroots movement around them, they will ultimately move the political spectrum in their direction.

“It does take time for social change,” said Chuck Idelson, communications director of the National Nurses United, a 150,000-person labor union that has long advocated for a single-payer health insurance system. “We didn’t end slavery overnight. It took from Seneca Falls in 1848 ’til 1920 until women won the right to vote. But they only won it by building a movement.”

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is already planning for the aftermath of Republicans’ legislative defeat with a push for single-payer health insurance.

In the meantime, a potential benefit of this ambitious approach is what’s known as shifting the “Overton Window,” a political science term for the narrow range of acceptable political views at a given moment in time.

By adopting a position that is considered extreme by contemporary standards, politicians and activists can make more attainable policy goals start to seem reasonable by comparison.

That phenomenon already seems to be working in progressives’ favor.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the only one of Sanders’ Senate colleagues to endorse his presidential bid, discussed the possibility of lowering the Medicare eligibility age or empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices in his statement on the Republican bill’s collapse.

“There are plenty of ideas already on the table that would make health care more affordable for working families, from a public option, to prescription drug negotiations, to offering older Americans the chance to buy into Medicare,” Merkley said on Friday. “I’m happy to work with anyone, from either side of the aisle, to explore these or any other ideas that would improve health care for working Americans.”

Lowering the Medicare eligibility age from its current level of 65 is a “very interesting” idea, because of the positive financial effect it would have on the Obamacare insurance exchanges, said Austin Frakt, a health economist for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

By allowing the oldest exchange participants to enroll in Medicare, lowering the Medicare age would relieve the health insurance marketplaces of some of their costliest customers, said Frakt, who also has academic posts at Boston University and Harvard.

“It would reduce the premiums in those markets,” he predicted. (Frakt noted, however, that absent measures to offset the cost of the additional beneficiaries, the change would increase Medicare’s financial burden.)

Social Security Works’ Lawson praised the idea as an incremental step toward Medicare-for-all.

“Start by lowering the age to 62 and get it down to zero,” he said.

If Democrats go with a half-a-loaf policy, Republicans are going to blame them for the failures of Big Pharma. Alex Lawson, Social Security Works

Another progressive policy gaining mainstream traction is legislation permitting the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, where the existing single-payer system keeps prices lower. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was one of several Democratic senators to endure heavy criticism in January for helping block a resolution supporting drug importation. In late February, Booker became a co-sponsor of legislation Sanders introduced that would legalize prescription drug importation from Canada and other countries.

President Donald Trump talked about getting tough with pharmaceutical companies over the price of prescription drugs as recently as early January.

But he has remained silent on the matter since inauguration, including the 17-day period when he was trying to pass House Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill. What’s more, the ordeal cast serious doubt on his willingness to take on the GOP’s ultraconservatives, who no doubt oppose any form of government intervention to reduce drug prices.

Trump now claims he is counting on Democrats to negotiate over Obamacare on his terms, since, in his telling, the law is on the brink of collapse.

Obamacare’s insurance exchange markets have major problems in some states and regions, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office characterized them as stable overall.

Still, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested in a CNN interview on Friday night that Democrats would be open to working with Trump and congressional Republicans on reforming the law.

“We’re not gloating that they failed. We’re sad that they won’t work with us to improve Obamacare,” he said.

Murshed Zaheed, political director of Credo, warned Democratic leaders that any Democratic efforts to work with Republicans would not get any help from grassroots groups like his.

“If Democrats want to push their version of so-called moderate proposals ― good luck to them,” Zaheed said. “I don’t think anybody should be under any illusion that Schumer or [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi will get anything from collaborating with the right-wing extremists that control Congress.”


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Napa Valley Board of Supervisor’s Proclamation

Dearest Community: Thank you to all NGO’s and individuals who worked really hard to bring forth the proclamation to the Napa Valley Board of supervisor yesterday. This is a first step in our declaration that we the Resident of Napa Valley are committed to protect each other and united in our intent to foster a healthy Napa community. Below is an example of a bolder declaration. We would like to continue the conversation at our next Town Hall meeting on April 30th. Please look at our event page. We urge all of you to invite our Latino and Latina neighbors so that we can get deeper into those complex issues. We will have a translator at the event. Can you help us with this request? Thank you !!!!

Chapter 8.60 Persons in Napa Valley: Protection by Due Process with ICE and CBP

8.60.010 – Purpose and intent.

The purpose of this chapter is to promote the community health, safety and welfare and protect the residents by establishing minimum standards, including notification and related enforcement procedures, for persons interacting with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) within the area of Napa County.

8.60.020 – Standards—Applicability.

The standards in this chapter shall apply to persons within the county, except that nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to limit compliance with Federal and State laws, under USC 1373 as below.

1373 Rule: Under 8 U.S.C. § 1373 and 8 U.S.C. § 1644, federal law prohibits Napa County officials from imposing limits on maintaining, exchanging, sending, or receiving information regarding citizenship and immigration status with any Federal, State, or local government entity. Nothing in Napa County policies is intended to violate 8 U.S.C. § 1373 and 8 U.S.C. § 1644.

Defend our friends, families and neighbors from President Trump’s mass deportation agenda:

8.60.030 – The Judicial Warrant Rule.

Napa County officials shall require a judicial warrant prior to detaining an individual or in any manner prolonging the detention of an individual at the request of ICE and CBP.

8.60.040 No Facilitation Rule.

Napa County officials shall not arrest, detain, or transport an individual solely on the basis of an immigration detainer or other administrative document issued by ICE or CBP, without a judicial warrant.

8.60.050 Defined Access/Interview Rule.

Unless acting pursuant to a court order or a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is unrelated to the enforcement of a civil immigration law, no Napa County official shall permit ICE or CBP agents access to Napa County facilities or any person in Napa County custody for investigative interviews or other investigative purposes.

8.60.060 Clear Identification Rule.

To the extent ICE or CBP has been granted access to Napa County facilities, individuals with whom ICE or CBP engages will be notified that they are speaking with ICE or CBP, and ICE or CBP agents shall be required to wear duty jackets which do not use the label “POLICE” and make their badges visible at all times while in Napa County facilities.

Protect our friends, families and neighbors’ privacy from the Trump administration:

8.60.070 Don’t Ask Rule.

Napa County officials shall not inquire into the immigration or citizenship status of an individual, except where the inquiry relates to a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is unrelated to the enforcement of a civil immigration law, or where required by state or federal law to verify eligibility for a benefit, service, or license conditioned on verification of certain status.

8.60.080 Privacy Protection Rule.

No Napa County official shall voluntarily release personally identifiable data or information to ICE or CBP regarding an inmate’s custody status, release date or home address, or information that may be used to ascertain an individual’s religion, ethnicity or race, unless for a law enforcement purpose unrelated to the enforcement of a civil immigration law.

8.60.090 Discriminatory Surveillance Prohibition Rule.

No Napa County agency or official shall authorize or engage in the human or technological surveillance of a person or group based solely or primarily upon a person or group’s actual or perceived religion, ethnicity, race, or immigration status.

Help our friends, families and neighbors get redress when abuses and mistakes occur:

8.60.100 Redress Rule.

Any person who alleges a violation of this policy may file a written complaint for investigation with the Napa County Board of Supervisors and with the Sheriff’s office.

Help ensure our friends, families, and neighbors are protected from discrimination:

8.60.110 Fair and Impartial Policing Rule.

No Napa County official shall interrogate, arrest, detain or take other law enforcement action against an individual based upon that individual’s perceived race, national origin, religion, language, or immigration status, unless such personal characteristics have been included in timely, relevant, credible information from a reliable source, linking a specific individual to a particular criminal event/activity.

8.60.120 Duty to enforce, and Right to appeal.

As per other sections of Napa County Code, the Sheriff and local municipality Law Enforcement agencies within Napa Valley have a duty to enforce this ordinance, and the appeal process shall be that set out in Chapter 2.88 of the Napa County Code.

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Rise Up Napa

Rise Up Napa is a progressive, social justice minded, grassroots community-based group focused on preserving human rights, civil liberties, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, the environment, racial equality & religious freedoms. We are attuned to the local, state and national political climate and plan to remain vigilant.

Visit our Facebook page.

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Sanctuary Status

Joyce, Dottie, Bonnie and I went to this.  There were lots of people there from our Church and other churches.  Our pastor had gotten into a car accident and wasn’t there until the end which resulted in the meeting being somewhat diffuse.  However there was a lot of interest and information primarily about how local law enforcement is not cooperating with ICE.  All local officials there were opposed to formally becoming a sanctuary city or county because they are afraid they will lose Federal funding.  They did not explain how SF, LA, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Solano County etc etc were proceeding forward while Napa is hanging back.  There attitude was that becoming a sanctuary city or county or church was just a symbolic act and they didn’t seem to recognize the power of symbols.
Irit was there and kept saying that what local officials were doing was not enough.  She was not clear about what would be enough.  Pedroza is putting forward a proclamation at the Board of Supes meeting on Tuesday.  She said the proclamation was “sweet” and didn’t go far enough.  She encouraged all to come to the Bd of Supes mtg hopefully arriving by 8:30 am Tues.  I am going.
I think the Register article this am may force our Church into action.  They were acting mighty proud of it today and since the paper says we are on the road to becoming a sanctuary church we may just have to do it.  I might be a little over cynical and do think it would be fabulous all around if the Church and possibly others, ( the Quakers, the Synagogue) proceeded forward.  It was so great to have 4 of us there and there are a lot of others who are ready to move.
We need some leadership.  I just don’t have what it takes to try to lead this effort and am praying that someone will step up.

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Puertas Abiertas report; Jon Ossoff, Civil Resistance, and Non-compliance Resistance

I.  PUERTAS ABIERTAS: On Wednesday of this past week, 3/15, Joyce, Liz, and I attended a meeting at Puertas Abiertas.  This was a meeting of many of the local authorities and administrative personnel who have in interest in assisting Napa County residents with immigration issues and potential issues.  The chiefs of the Napa City Police, California Highway Patrol, Napa County Sheriff, Calistoga, and St. Helena police departments were there as well as personnel from Napa County probation and juvenile services, Child Welfare Services, Puertas Abiertas, NVUSD, and Mentis (Liz!).  It was very informative though it was not productive from a volunteer perspective.  I would have liked to personally been able to volunteer for something!  Those attending shared what was happening in their respective offices, and I took the following notes:
1.  California Senate Bill 54 is working its way through the legislature which will essentially establish the State of California as a sanctuary state.  (At least that is what they are calling the bill)  I looked on-line and the bill had a committee vote last Friday; don’t know the outcome.  I didn’t read the bill but the articles about it indicate that it is legislation prohibiting state and local law enforcement from using their resources in assisting federal authorities with immigration enforcement.
2.  There is an Immigration Town Hall scheduled for April 18th with Bill Dodd from 6-8 p.m. at the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center.
3.  The representative from Child Welfare Services gave a presentation about what happens to children whose parents are picked up by ICE.  The woman did her best to allay concerns about such children entering the foster care system if such an event happened.  She said that CWS has a “home” that the children are initially taken to which is a regular “safe” house.  She said that CWS’ priority was to place any child whose parents have been detained by ICE with a family member or friend.  There was talk about having parents who fear they may be detained sign powers of attorney and letters to assist with placing their children should they be detained, and also talk about obtaining assistance through the “probate court” with guardianships as necessary.  From what was said, it was pretty clear to me that all concerned wanted the best for any such child but that this was very new territory and that their procedures were emerging.
4.  One of the Napa County Sheriff’s was there (I didn’t catch his name), and explained his department’s policies in dealing with ICE as follows: the officers will not assist ICE; they have agreed with the ICE personnel from SF that ICE will notify the sheriff’s office through the Napa Central dispatch office when ICE is intending to come to Napa Valley, and ICE will let the sheriff know how many people they plan to pick up.  They will not say who or where on their initial contact with dispatch.  After the person or persons are removed and ICE has returned to SF, they will notify the sheriff again through Napa Central dispatch, informed the sheriff about who they removed, where the person(s) were picked up, the person(s)’ dates of birth, and also their A numbers (Alien numbers).  The A number is important because that is how the person(s) whereabouts can be tracked by their family through the ICE system after they have been detained.  He also said that schools, churches and hospitals are off limits for immigration removal, and that juveniles are not at risk of removal.  The woman from Napa County probation said that CA law prohibits getting info from juvenile authorities without a court order, and she said that only happened once in the 14 years that she had been working at the County.
5.  A woman representing the NVUSD said that her office has developed a resource kit for families with potential immigration issues.
6.  Several people, including Joyce, spoke about the fear and anxiety the threat of detention is causing in Napa County.
Joyce & Liz, please add anything that I missed.
II.  JON OSSOFF:  I did the training to be a phone bank captain for Jon today and have received a packet of information to move forward.  The election is 4/18 and I believe if Jon receives 50% of the vote on that date, he is the winner.  If no one receives 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will have a run-off election in June.  So this is high stakes situation.  I would like to have a phone bank next weekend, 3/24 and/or 3/25.  It would be very challenging to host it at my house for a variety of reasons, not the least of which there are many stairs, so I would prefer to find another location if possible.  I might be able to host it at my employers’ office and will ask about that.  If one of you can host it, please let me know.  There is the library community room, I will also look into that. We might want to do it both days or have two shifts on one day.  I am also going to contact the people I worked with on the Hillary campaign and see if any of them are interested.  Please let me know your thoughts about this.  The only equipment needed per volunteer is a cell phone and a tablet or laptop.
III.  CIVIL RESISTANCE: Power to the People:  I just happened to catch this amazing program on KQED radio on Thursday night.  This is the link: This was very informative and incredibly powerful.  In particular, it featured a man named James Morris Lawson, Jr. who was a person who worked with the students in Nashville during the civil rights era.  He said so many wise things but one thing in particular that struck me was about the “burden of change”.  He trained the students to not react to the vicious words and treatment they were receiving, including being spit on and physical violence, because they all knew that if the students did react, they would be the ones punished and expelled, not the white students.  I looked up Mr. Lawson on-line and you can actually watch a film of a training, and it will break your heart.
IV.  NON-COMPLIANCE RESISTANCE.  Another thing I learned from the CIVIL RESISTANCE: Power to the People, was confirming the effectiveness of non-compliance resistance, boycotting, etc.  Apparently, the Russian Revolution began in just that way, with women refusing to buy bread.  Related to this, I heard a news story this week about applications being made for federal contracts for work building the Wall.  One of the people that was featured in this program was a guy in SF who made something (I missed what it was), had applied to get a federal contract, and he said he hoped he would be used as a subcontractor for the Wall.  I think this is may be a great project for us, organizing a boycott of those individuals applying or getting contracts to build this waste-of-the-taxpayers money to the tune of $30 billion.  Maybe the Napa Women’s March people might be interested in doing this as well?  Just my thoughts.

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URGENT – Phone Bank for Tax Scam

Things on the tax scam fight are changing quickly.

But one thing remains constant: the Republican caucus is hanging on by a thread. On the tax scam, Republican members in the House aren’t in agreement, even though they voted to go to conference last night. And, this weekend, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said she may not be able to vote for the final tax bill. The continuing resolution holds many challenges, too, as the Freedom Caucus refuse to go along with the rest of the Republicans.

As they’re working on both bills, negotiations will create more and more wedges between the Republicans.

Here is a link to up to date analysis on what this tax scam does:…alysis-resources/

Please start making phone calls, to mobilize constituent to fight this bill:

Listed below are instructions on making calls from your home computer. If you need a paper list, I can ask for one from OFA headquarters. Send me an email.

Calling from home with your computer – 

These VPB are live and we do not have much time. Please call as much as you can.


  1. Click one of the links below to access the Virtual Phone Bank
    CD 10 – Denham – English
    CD 21 – Valadao – English
    CD 25 – Knight
    CD 39 – Royce
    CD 45 – Walters
  2. If it is your first time calling, go to step 3.  If already registered, go to step 6.
  3. Register to make calls by clicking the “Click Here to Register” button below the green “Log In” button.
  4. Enter all required fields including: first name, last name, email address and zip code.  Hit the green “Save” button to continue.
  5. Once saved, you will be returned to the log in page.
  6. Enter the email address used to register, phone bank password “resist” and chose “Call4ACA” or “OFA” as the organization from the dropdown.
  7. Click ‘Log In” to start calling.
  8. Use your phone to dial the phone number listed on screen.
  9. Script should automatically appear on screen if there is only one voter, if there is more than one voter click on the name of the person who answers, to see the script*.
  10. Select appropriate non-contact and survey information.  Click “End Call/Save Information” to end the call and save the information recorded.
  11. Repeat steps 8-10.

*Please note – if a break is taken, be sure to log out and back in to ensure that all call information is saved.

Thank you for everything you do!

Linda Hemenway
OFA Sonoma

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