Action this Week – July 19, 2019

We Helped Anthony Brindisi Win; How Is He Doing in the House?


When we supported Anthony Brindisi’s 2018 NY 22 race challenging Tenney in 2018 (actually going back to 2017!) we knew that he would be a conscientious representative who would put people in his district first and listen to their concerns.  That’s what he did in the NY State Assembly, and it’s what he’s been doing since he went to Washington in January.

Anthony has held open, public town halls in every county in NY22, and he talks about ideas and policies, as well as colleagues, opponents, and constituents with respect, without mocking people or calling them names. So night and day compared to #OneTermTenney.  He works hard on issues that affect upstate farmers, families, and consumers, and has consistently fought for services for US military veterans.

Earlier this month, Anthony succeeded in getting the House to pass an amendment that supports flatware manufacturing in Sherrill–an amendment that Tenney tried and failed to get through over two years when her party was in the majority.  Just this week he also voted with Democrats in the House on a resolution condemning Trump’s racist remarks about four members of Congress nicknamed “the squad.”  These votes earned him praise from IMV and our grassroots Knit the District allies.

Still, there are times when Anthony Brindisi’s vote may disappoint those of us with progressive values.  This week that included his no vote on holding Barr and Wilbur Ross in contempt over their refusal to hand over documents related to the census (although he voted yes on a resolution last month to hold Barr in contempt in another matter).

Then, yesterday, Anthony voted no on a house bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.  He put a message on his Facebook page explaining his rationale, but for those who want to see poor and low income people lifted up, and who seek to counter the massive Trump Tax for millionaires and billionaires and the corporate handouts doled out by the GOP, this was a huge disappointment.

It’s true that no bill that helps low income workers was going to be passed in the GOP Senate or signed by Trump, but in terms of progressive values, a vote to “message” that American workers should be paid a decent  minimum wage no matter where they live and work doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

Studies have shown the increasing the minimum wage is good for local economies because lower income workers spend their wages quickly and locally. Other studies have shown that if the minimum wage was at the same level as it was in 1968, it would be $27 an hour now! So $15 is very little, when both income and wealth at the top have skyrocketed during the same period.

So what to do when Anthony does not vote in a way that fits with our progressive values?  Well, we keep following our strategy of praising in public when he does the right thing, and we voice our criticism in private when we don’t think he has stood up strongly enough against Trump and his supporters,or when his votes don’t reflect our values.The way we do that is by calling his office and by talking to members of our Brindisi Advisory Committee which meets monthly with Anthony’s staff.

In a purple district with a Republican registration advantage of almost 30,000, Rep. Brindisi is in a vulnerable seat.  In addition, he will always be focused on a careful reading of every bill, and prioritize what is best for the people who live in his district over party loyalty.  That’s his job.  So he will disappoint us sometimes.  Our job is to stay true to our progressive values, and also keep him electable. 

IMV is curious to know how our members are feeling at this point about the balance between pushing our values on all fronts, and keeping Anthony electable, and generally, how energized people are about the 2019 and 2020 elections.  So look out for a survey coming this week on the topic.  We want to hear from you!

For now:
1) Keep calling Anthony’s office when bills and resolutions are coming forward. There have been times in the past seven months when pressure from many phone calls from has has influenced his thinking.
2) Keep your electoral activism skills sharp!  We do that when we support local candidates this fall by knocking on doors and participating in GOTV.

Moreover, we MUST try to elect more Democrats at every level of government. It takes years to build a bench and to build power.  Sometimes even in a heavily Republican district, running a Democrat for a local seat at least helps people see that there is a choice and a vibrant democratic process, and it forces Republicans to spend time, energy and money to defend their seats.

What if 5-10 years of increased activism on our part eventually flips some of the boards and councils, and what if we can even shave off that Republican advantage in NY 22, and eventually create a blue district?  We do it a door at a time, a candidate at a time, an election at a time.

130 Activists Attend Lights for Liberty Vigil

Thanks to everyone who worked on the Lights for Liberty vigil last Friday, and all those who attended!  Here’s the text of the press release following the event:

“Members of Interfaith Matters, Indivisible Mohawk Valley,  1199 SEIU Upstate, and CNY Citizen Action, gathered on Commercial Drive on Friday night, July 12th, for the local Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps. The event drew 130 participants from across the Mohawk Valley.

In June of this year, lawyers and doctors toured facilities along the southern border holding migrant children, many separated from their families. They found lack of basic nutrition and hygiene, serious violations of the law, and asked a judge to order immediate inspections

In New Hartford on Friday, those attending carried posters in protest of the inhumanities being committed by the US in addressing refugees and immigration across the southern US border. They then lit candles in a silent vigil for all of those held in US detention camps.

‘It was important for me to attend the vigil and be part of the voice of opposition in light of the atrocities currently enacted by this administration. It was inspiring to see religious leaders from a variety of faiths represented. Caging children and adults, as well as separating families is not what America should represent.’ Said Grace Vento-Zogby.  ‘The conditions of the border camps are as bad if not worse than concentration camps. These are men, women, children, families who are seeking refuge. They deserve to be treated better.’ said local organizer Debbie Salema Lindon

The July 12th event was one of over 700 events held around the nation and the world, covering five continents, and bringing light to the darkness of the Trump administration’s horrific policies that violate basic human decency.  The local groups partner to support compassionate and caring resolutions to complex problems.”

We do expect further actions on the border camps and immigration policy including a national Indivisible Day of Action in September.  More to come, and in the meantime, keep calling your representatives. People in camps have no voice, so we ARE their voice in these times.

NY Climate Change Bill: Something to Celebrate!

The CLCPA (formerly the CCPA) was signed into law yesterday! NY State will become the worldwide leader in Climate Action. Our IMV Climate Change Work Group wants to thank everyone who helped get this done whether it was phone calls, lobbying, meetings, die-ins, rallies, or other activism.  

This is a monumental day here in NY and hopefully in our country and world. Progressive thinkers should be proud of the work they have done to get this policy singed into law.

Also, Gov. Cuomo announced historic offshore wind agreement to get this work started… Al Gore personally thanked NY Renews (IMV’s lead partner in the fight) and activists/advocates for their tireless work in getting this bill off the ground!  We should be proud of ourselves!

Of course, with climate change a looming challenge, we are always vigilant.  On that count, IMV reminds you that July is plastic free month.   What can you do to reduce plastic use in your corner of the world?

Mueller Testimony: Stream on IMV’s Facebook Page Wednesday

Remember the Mueller Book Club?  That group, created by the Not Above the Law national coalition, is preparing to push Mueller’s testimony as far as possible next week.   The Club will stream three events on Wednesday, July 24th, including the Judiciary and Intelligence Committee hearings, and a post-testimony analysis at 8:30 pm Eastern.

Indivisible Mohawk Valley is one of the partners in this effort to cross post the stream to grassroots groups, so if you go to our IMV Facebook page on July 24th, you’ll be able to watch right there.  Let’s meet to watch on Wednesday on Indivisible MV on Facebook.

Volunteer for Team Celeste

Some of the local campaigns for board of leg, town boards, and common council are just getting off the ground with initial fundraising.  Celeste Friend, who is running for the 3rd ward seat (South Utica) on Utica Common Council, is already running a weekly canvass.  You can become involved, and get practice going door to door, a skill you can then use to help many other candidates in 2019 and 2020.

Once a week, Team Celeste meets up at an address within an election district in the Third Ward. They all wear purple campaign t-shirts and intensively canvass that district together. It’s the best kind of democratic spectacle! And afterwards, they convene back at Celeste’s house for food, drink and merriment. This group of activists is creating progressive community and solidarity.

If door-knocking is not your thing, you have the opportunity to volunteer as a Guest Host, providing a meal for the team. Come join the team!  On Thursday, July 25th, volunteers will meet at 37 Emerson Ave. in South Utica at 5 pm.


Can You Hold a Debate Watch Party?

There will be another pair of Democratic debates televised on July 30 and 31.  Indivisible urges our members and groups to organize Debate Watch Parties.  Can you host one?  Once you have your plans, please register your get together on the Indivisible Events Map.

We Need YOU to Become a Notary Public

Anthony Brindisi won NY22 because a broad coalition on people including Republicans and unaffiliated voters supported and voted for him. One of the most critical factors was that he had the Independence Party line on the ballot, where many of these voters made their ballot mark.  He almost didn’t, because we didn’t have enough members who were notaries and could get signatures on the petition for the line. In the end,  just a few people saved the day by going out for countless hours over those last days and weeks to secure the number of signatures need from Independence Party members.

For 2020, we need to be more prepared.  Are you willing to become a valuable Brindisi volunteer by taking the Notary Public exam?  Here is the basic information about what it involves. Here is some further information on the exam and dates offered for all locations: 

You may sit for the exam without first taking a class, but most people say the class is helpful preparation.  MVCC has a class coming up on the Utica campus on  Saturday, July 27th from 9:30 am-1:30 pm.  Call 315-792-5300 to sign up.

Are you having a good summer?

Good!  This is a time to restore and renew yourself for what is going to be a big fall 2019 local election season, which will be followed by a long 2020 state and national election season run-up. For an overview of where we’ve been and where we’re headed, try this very short video on the website. We have accomplished a lot since we started our grassroots political activism in 2017, and we are not done yet.  Because…

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

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