Recap of Last Week’s San Antonio City Council Candidate Forum

Thanks to one of our TX21Indivisible volunteers for this great write-up of last week’s San Antonio city council candidate forum!

SA town hall

Tuesday, April 11, San Antonio — Lamar Smith in a pussy hat. The Resistance Choir debut. A renowned civil/voting rights expert and advocate. Four progressive city council candidates. TX21’s very own Jason and Antoinette. And several dozen committed activists and concerned citizens. On Tuesday night, TX21 Indivisible held a town hall and candidate forum at Bigz Burger Joint on the north side of San Antonio, opened with a touching rendition of the Star Spangled Banner sung by Paula Jarvis. Lamar himself was there but in two dimensions, but wore a pink hat and a smirk, while those in flesh and blood attendance listened and engaged in thoughtful dialogue with Professor Al Kauffman and a panel of candidates running for a handful of open seats on the San Antonio city council. Bigz, which donated the space, proved an ideal venue for the agenda-full evening of democracy-in-action.

Professor Kaufman discussed the history and current state of civil and voting rights in Texas, including voting ID laws and redistricting. The recent judicial rebuke of the Texas voter ID act—which found that the law not only had a discriminatory effect against minority voters, but also held discriminatory intent—could put Texas back under Justice Department supervision, requiring the state to preclear any changes to its voting laws. Within the past week, a three judge panel also found that three of the state’s U.S. Congressional Districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to intentionally minimize the voting power of Latinos in the state. The court will compel the state to redraw these districts, which include two adjacent to TX21 (districts 23 and 35).  Such redrawing of these districts will by necessity entail changes to the borders of district 21; however, Professor Kaufman says the court will try to minimize, to the extent possible, the effect on districts not part of the ruling.

Before turning the floor over to the city council candidates, TX21 Indivisible founders, Jason Sugg and Antoinette Perez, discussed district-wide activities and successes and praised the efforts of the San Antonio core volunteer team, led by Trish Hastings Florence and Shannon Perez, in putting together Tuesday’s event and building energy and momentum for ongoing actions in the city. And, of course, no event in TX21 would be complete without some words for Lamar Smith, who as Jason expressed, considers his “partisan politics to be more important than your voice.” Trish delivered a special thank you to Lamar for bringing the group’s members together and inspiring such committed political activism, activism that has seen tangible results, including the shuttering of a local, anti-Muslim hate group. Finally, Shannon highlighted the attention the group has garnered from both the media and high profile activists and politicians, including San Antonio’s own Joaquin Castro, who will be headlining an event with TX21 Indivisible next week.

For the final part of the evening, Shannon MCed a Q&A with four candidates for city council running to fill three north side seats that represent portions of the TX21 congressional district—Manny Palaez in district 8, John Courage in district 9, and Diana Kenny and Ezra Johnson in district 10. In a dialogue that ranged from traffic to the “bathroom bill” to public safety, the candidates shared their positions on local issues, as well as their thoughts on how to get more San Antonio voters turning out to vote, starting at the local level. The candidates held largely similar positions on most issues, with differences in communication style and specific implementation details, consistent with the different backgrounds and professional expertise of each candidate.

To conclude the forum, Shannon asked the candidates how a city with such low voter turnout and shared civic commitment can get its “mojo back.” Manny called on the need for leaders to “show up” and to practice dignity and respect for all citizens. John said the city needs “thoughtful thinkers who ask hard questions” to understand and solve the city’s problems. Diana called for a renewed focus on the inequities of the city and how San Antonio can be one, with wealthier areas investing in lower income areas to the benefit of all. Ezra said increased civic engagement will happen “one block at a time, one neighborhood at a time” through engagement of groups like TX21 Indivisible and volunteering for local campaigns.

In a call to action earlier in the evening Jason urged to all in attendance, “These are the good guys. Help these candidates. Call bank for them. Block walk. Give them money.”

Learn more about the candidates and contact them via their campaign websites:

·       Manny Palaez: www.vote4manny.com/

·       John Courage: www.couragefor9.com/

·       Diana Kenny: dianakennydistrict10.com/

·       Ezra Johnson: www.ezra4sa.com/

Congressional Recess Week!

Congress is in recess for the next 2 weeks. This is that time when members of Congress are meant to be back home, hearing from their constituents. As you probably suspected, Lamar Smith has NO public town halls scheduled for this period. So, once again, we have taken it on ourselves to do his job for him.

To that end, we will be hosting a town hall/city council candidate forum in San Antonio on Tuesday, April 11, 5:30-7:30pm, at Bigz Burger Joint (2303 N Loop 1604 W, San Antonio, TX 78258). Not only will we be hearing from Professor Al Kaufmann about restoring civil rights in Trump’s America, we will also be hearing from city council candidates for district 8, 9, and 10.

In Austin, we will be hosting a town hall on Thursday, April 13, 7-9pm, at The Scoot Inn (1308 E 4th Street, Austin, Texas 78702) and featuring Jim Hightower, Degerrymandering Texas, and a number of the candidates either running or thinking of running in the 21st district in 2018. We promise this event will be both educational and entertaining!

Lamar Smith won’t be holding town halls, but what he is doing – as usual – is meeting with select groups of people who he knows will agree with him. Tonight, for example, he is meeting with the Bulverde Women’s Republican Club at the GVTC auditorium (36101 FM 3159, New Braunfels, TX 78132-5903), in a closed door event. If you live anywhere near there, come out and help us demand that Smith hold a town hall for everybody! This is a private event center, and we won’t be able to go in the gates, but we will be in the right of way making sure our voices are heard!

San Antonio and Austin Town Halls/Candidate Forums (with Jim Hightower)!

scoot inn

We are very excited to be announcing events in both San Antonio and Austin next week!

In San Antonio, we will be hosting a candidate forum for city council districts 8, 9, and 10 on Tuesday, April 11, 5:30pm – 7:30pm! Come hear what candidates hope to do for San Antonio!  We will be in the party barn at Bigz Burger Joint (2303 N Loop 1604 W, San Antonio, TX 78258). Food will be available for purchase and they have a cash bar.  It is family friendly so bring the kids!  More details soon!

In Austin, we will be hosting a citizen-sponsored town hall on Thursday, April 13, 7-9 pm, at The Scoot Inn (1308 E. 4th Street, Austin, Texas 78702). We are thrilled to have Jim Hightower joining us, as well as a number of the candidates who will be running in the 21st district this cycle!

 

Weekly Actions and Updates!

Lamar Smith’s been busy. Between stripping the EPA’s ability to use all available science to investigate climate change or questioning the objectivity of Science magazine, he has shown a steady animus towards the types of environmental protections that have kept our air and water protected since the creation of the EPA in 1970. Fortunately Earth Day is just around the corner, so you’ll have a chance to let him know how you feel about that!

The Rally to Keep Our Hill Country Beautiful

The rally to Keep Our Hill Country Beautiful is happening April 19 from 10:00 AM until noon (or later if we are having too much fun)! We will publish a program announcing speakers and activities soon. We can tell you up-front that we will be joined by some very special guests including one of our own Hill Country neighbors who is a scientist, author, and environmental expert. You should not miss this.

We are also specifically inviting folks from all parts of TX21 to join us in a show of solidarity with the Hill Country. Austin and San Antonio members, get those car pools going, take a morning off, and join us in beautiful Kerrville!

We know you want to join us and here are two things you can do to get ready:

1. Come make signs for use at the rally. We will meet at Pint and Plow (the coffeehouse in the Victorian building next to the brewery) on April 12th starting about 11:30, 332 Clay St.  Kerrville. Pint and Plow Kerrville

2. Write a letter to Lamar Smith and bring it with you to the rally. We suggest the letter be focused on an environmental issue. Address it simply to “Lamar” and handwritten if possible. In any case, bring a letter!

TX21 Indivisible is having an impact on the Hill Country like Lamar Smith has never seen before. Change is happening and we invite everyone to join us in our mission to return government to the people.

Stay tuned for more April environmental actions across the district!

Monday, April 3

All Day. Call members of the Texas House redistricting committee

Want to end gerrymandering? It starts with the Texas Lege’s willingness to vote on redistricting. Please call the House Redistricting Committee to tell them how excited you are that HJR 32 and HB 369 have made it to their committee, you want them to call it for public hearings, and to vote to PASS this on to the Legislature for a full vote.

Scripts and contact information are here

Tuesday, April 4

Protect the Supreme Court: Tell Your Senators NO CLOTURE on Gorsuch

Last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Neil Gorsuch were more of the same for the Trump administration: an extreme nominee attempting to defend his record of standing with corporate power instead of the American people. To ensure Gorsuch doesn’t roll back civil rights, women’s rights, labor rights, and many other rights for years to come, we need the Senate to show some serious spine.

The important vote for Gorsuch is the “cloture” vote. Voting for “cloture” means voting to cut off debate and end a filibuster. This vote requires 60 votes to succeed, which means Senate Republicans CAN’T win this on their own—they don’t have enough votes. Ask your Senator (regardless of party) to vote “NO on cloture” for Gorsuch—check out our newly updated script on this here: https://www.indivisibleguide.com/resources-2/2017/2/7/combat-donald-trumps-arch-conservative-scotus-pick

Cruz – DC: (202) 224-5922
Austin: (512) 916-5834
San Antonio: 210-340-2885

Cornyn – DC: (202) 224-2934
Austin: (512) 469-6034
San Antonio: 210-224-7485
Houston: (713) 572-3337

Thursday, April 6

If you live in or near San Antonio, then come help progressive city council candidate (and former Lamar Smith opponent!) John Courage. His campaign will be holding a phonebanking session at their headquarters at 1583 Thousand Oaks. This is a great opportunity to get some on the ground experience with the nuts and bolts of political campaigns.

Please bring a laptop and cellphone if you are attending. If you don’t have these things let us know so we can print out paper sheets! Contact Colt Osburn (210 382 3391) for details. This info can all be found at www.Couragefor9.com

Week of 3/27

Wow, y’all. I hope you took some time this weekend to savor last week’s victory stopping ACA repeal. This process showed the fault lines in the Republican power structure, and with your energy and efforts we as a movement were able to preserve health insurance for millions of Americans, including between 20,000 and 50,000 right here in the 21st district. And though this is likely not the last threat to the ACA from this administration and Congress, this victory has established early on that Trump is not the unstoppable juggernaut he has portrayed himself as, and has made a number of other Republican initiatives, such as tax reform, that more difficult both politically and procedurally. So kudos to all of you!

Now it’s time for us all to get back to work. The Gorsuch nomination is in process, there are new questions about Trump’s ties to Russia, and the Internet is under attack, in addition to a number of state legislature issues.

Upcoming Events

We have added a calendar to our website to make it easier to track what is going on – it is an embedded Google calendar, so you should be able to set it up to sync with whatever calendaring program you use.

Sunday 4/2 – We have our all-district meeting in San Marcos next weekend on Sunday, April 2! This is an excellent chance to meet some of your fellow TX21Indivisbles, hear about where the group is at, and help us figure out our direction forward. Please join us!

Tuesday, 4/11 – We will be hosting a citizen-sponsored town hall for Lamar Smith in San Antonio at Bigz Burgerz on the evening of April 11. If you are interested in helping out, then please contact us at volunteer@tx21indivisible.us.

Thursday, 4/13 – We will be hosting another citizen-sponsored town hall for Lamar Smith in Austin at the Scoot Inn on the evening of April 13. If you are interested in helping out, then please contact us at volunteer@tx21indivisible.us.

Actions

In addition to these federal actions, we HIGHLY encourage you to take a look at Indivisible TX Lege’s weekly actions here. There are a number of critical issues before the state legislature affecting the our schools, redistricting, and our state’s economic success.

Monday

Protect the Supreme Court for decades to come: no cloture on #SupremelyExtreme Gorsuch. Last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Neil Gorsuch were more of the same for the Trump administration: an extreme nominee attempting to defend his record of standing with corporate power instead of the American people. To ensure Gorsuch doesn’t roll back civil rights, women’s rights, labor rights, and many other rights for years to come, we need the Senate to show some serious spine.

    • The important vote for Gorsuch is the “cloture” vote. Voting for “cloture” means voting to cut off debate and end a filibuster. This vote requires 60 votes to succeed, which means Senate Republicans CAN’T win this on their own—they don’t have enough votes. Ask your Senator (regardless of party) to vote “NO on cloture” for Gorsuch—check out our newly updated script on this here.

Tuesday

Keep the pressure on Congress to force the release of Trump’s tax returns. On Tuesday at 4 p.m., the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a markup on H.Res. 186, a Resolution of Inquiry directing the Secretary of the Treasury to provide the House of Representatives with Trump’s tax returns. Tell Lamar Smith to cosponsor this resolution: here’s the script.

Wednesday

Protect Americans’ privacy from corporate greed. Last week, while many of us were focused on defending health care, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans passed S.J. Res. 34 on a narrow, party-line vote. This bill would block the Federal Communications Commission from regulating large internet service providers (think Comcast) in their efforts to sell the troves of information they gather about you without your consent. The House is poised to vote on this measure, H.J. Res. 86, this week. Call Lamar Smith and tell him to protect your privacy and side with ordinary people over powerful corporate interests. Here’s the script.

Thursday

Shed some sunlight on Trump’s Russia ties. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) thinks he can get away with moving hearings behind closed doors. It’s clear that he can’t be trusted to lead an unbiased investigation. Tell your MoCs that it’s time to take Nunes off the case and put the investigation in the hands of a nonpartisan, independent commission, in full view of the American people.

    • Tell Lamar Smith to cosponsor H.R. 356, the Protecting our Democracy Act, which would create a special commission to investigate Russian interference into our elections.
    • Tell John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to cosponsor S. 27, which would similarly create an independent commission to investigate Russian interference in our democratic institutions.  

Friday

This is a good day to call about any of the above actions that fell through the cracks this week!

MoCs Contact Info

Cruz – DC: (202) 224-5922

Austin: (512) 916-5834

San Antonio: 210-340-2885

Cornyn – DC: (202) 224-2934

Austin: (512) 469-6034

San Antonio: 210-224-7485

Houston: (713) 572-3337

Smith – DC: 202-225-4236

San Antonio: 210-821-5024

Austin: 512-912-7508

Kerrville: 830-896-0154

Fax: 202-225-8628

San Antonio, Austin, and Kerrville ACA vigils

We will be hosting or participating in several ACA vigils Wednesday (3/22) evening across the district.

In San Antonio, a group will be meeting in Milam Park across from The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio – https://www.facebook.com/events/387753121605023/

In Austin, a group will be meeting in front of Brackenridge Hospital – https://www.facebook.com/events/313411945728415/

And in Kerrville, a group will be meeting at the Kerr County courthouse – https://actionnetwork.org/events/vigil-for-affordable-healthcare-in-kerrville

We hope to see you at one of these!

Defend the ACA!!!

We just came through quite a week, and we have a doozy of one coming up. Last week, Trump released his draft budget. It’s an awful document that slashes just about every program Americans care about, including slashing funding for programs like Meals on Wheels that are essential to the lives of many Americans. Ludicrously, Trump’s budget director called cuts like those to Meals on Wheels “compassionate.”

Here’s a great rundown of the budget from National Priorities Project:

Here is what the Trump budget invests in:

  • Shifts $54 billion from domestic programs and international aid to the Pentagon and military —  a 10% budget increase for the Pentagon;
  • Increases Homeland Security funding by 7%; and
  • Increases nuclear weapons funding by 11%.

Here is what the Trump budget cuts:

  • State Department budget (29% cut);
  • Environmental Protection Agency (31% cut);
  • Department of Education (14% cut); 
  • Energy (besides nukes, 18% cut); 
  • Transportation (13% cut); 
  • Small Business Administration (5% cut); 
  • Housing & Urban Development (13% cut); 
  • Agriculture Department (21% cut); and
  • Health & Human Services (16% cut).

Americans deserve a budget that meets our country’s real needs to strengthen the economy, create jobs, and provide opportunity through education – a budget that also keeps us safe. 

The Trump budget falls short on every count.

The Week Ahead:

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is having his Senate hearing Monday. Later this week, the Republican leadership seems confident that they will pass the Republican bill to slash taxes on the rich and take away the health care of 24 million people by gutting the Affordable Care Act, with rare evening votes scheduled for Thursday on the so-called “American Health Care Act of 2017.” (Source: http://www.politico.com/playbook )

Monday & Tuesday

Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the United States Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch does not belong on the Supreme Court—and not just because Republicans stole this seat by refusing to hold a hearing (let alone a vote!) for Merrick Garland, President Obama’s supremely well qualified and moderate nominee. Judge Gorsuch is a staunch conservative out of step with the American people. Call Senators Cruz and Cornyn this week and ask that they oppose this nomination!

More info >

In response to last week’s proposed budget and this week’s TrumpCare vote please call the Senators and Lamar Smith and ask that they oppose these destructive budget cuts and that they vote against the ACA repeal and the AHCA replacement.

Cruz – DC: (202) 224-5922
Austin: (512) 916-5834
San Antonio: 210-340-2885

Cornyn – DC: (202) 224-2934
Austin: (512) 469-6034
San Antonio: 210-224-7485
Houston: (713) 572-3337

Smith – DC: 202-225-4236
San Antonio: 210-821-5024
Austin: 512-912-7508
Kerrville: 830-896-0154
Fax: 202-225-8628

Wednesday & Thursday

Keep those calls rolling in! Wednesday and Thursday evenings we will be holding vigils for the ACA in various parts of the district.

In Austin, we will be gathering outside Smith’s office at 2211 South IH-35, Suite 106 Austin, TX 78741. More details here (https://www.facebook.com/events/1676590369310638/).

In San Antonio, a group will be gathering outside the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio in Milam Park. More details here (https://www.facebook.com/events/387753121605023/)

A vigil is also being planned for Kerrville – stay tuned for updates.