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CANCELED: Conference Call on Feb. 28

Out of respect for the presidential address to the joint sessions of congress tonight at 8 CT, we are canceling our weekly conference call.

Well… actually: It’s so we can have an internal planning meeting for our March 5 Citywide Gathering & Rally. Here’s a partial agenda:

10:30 – 45 DOORS OPEN

11:00 a.m. VOLUNTEER/INFO FAIR begins

12:00 Call to Order

12:10 Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Speech followed by Q&A

12:50 District Captains’ speeches

1:15 I AM INDIVISIBLE film

3:00 – Everyone completely out of venue and parking lot — thanks for your help clearing out!

So, again, there will be NO CALL tonight!

How Your Voices Made a Difference Last Week: Feb. 27, 2017

Amid the usual cyclone of horrific news from the Republican administration’s White House, there is this enormous sign of our growing impact and reason for hope: The spirit of opposition that emerged after the inauguration spilled over into town hall meetings held across the country by Republican lawmakers on recess, and the GOP sees us now, and realize we are many and mighty–and they are afraid, as seen by their continuing efforts to discredit this huge grassroots movement as “paid protesters” of “liberal extremists,” rather than the organic bipartisan efforts of more than half the country to oppose the unconstitutional, unethical, potentially illegal actions of Donald and his toadies. Keep the heat on!

Constituents of Lamar Smith (TX-21) Gather to Ask Questions of their Missing Rep

Here in Austin and surrounding areas, more than 2,000 people attended Town Hall meetings for representatives in all five Republican congressional districts, plus one for Sens. Cruz and Cornyn.

This is just a sampling of the press that these events generated:

In Texas, Trump resistance offers town hall theater to mixed reviews (Austin American-Statesman)

Grassroots Group Holds Town Halls Despite Lack of Lawmaker Appearances (Spectrum News)

Voters Shame Cowardly Reps with Town Halls Hosted by Cardboard Cut-Outs (CommonDreams)

`Roger, Roger, Town Hall Dodger.’ Indivisible confronts a cardboard congressman (Austin American-Statesman)

Central Texans Are Holding Town Halls – With or Without Their Local Congressmen (KUT)

Hundreds seek audience with U.S. Rep. Roger Williams at Dripping Springs restaurant (Austin American-Statesman)

Constituents host mock town hall in Dripping Springs with messages to Congress (KEYE CBS Austin)

New groups looking to local congressmen for questions and scorn (KXAN)

B/CS citizens hold town hall to discuss Trump administration (KBTX)

Central Texas Republicans sidestep calls for town hall meetings (Austin American-Statesman)

During Visits to Districts, Austin’s Republican Congressmen Are Forgoing Town Halls (KUT)

Call for video submissions!

Hi all! We are producing a short video for the March 5th Indivisible event in Austin TX, and we want to include you! And guess what, taking part is SUPER EASY! We are looking for a diverse sampling of your voices to tell us WHY YOU STAND INDIVISIBLE. Just follow the filming instructions and submit your video files today. The deadline to submit is Monday, February 26th.

Click here for further instructions on submitting your video

Protections for Trans Students Rescinded – Call Your State Reps

Our new affiliate, TX Lege Indivisible, has a writeup on Trump’s overturning of transgender student protections and what you can do about it.

On Wednesday the Trump administration announced that it would be rescinding federal rules that simply allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that they choose.

So what does this announcement mean? It means that the issue is pushed back to the states, squarely into the court of Dan Patrick and Texas leaders at the local level, which is where lawsuits will likely begin.

So what are we going to do? There’s an excellent discussion of the brass-tacks way forward at the local-level here, but to summarize, this is going to require a lot of pressure on local and state lawmakers. In Texas, we can start by calling our state reps and demanding that they oppose #SB6. Aside from being needlessly cruel, there’s just no reason for it.

Read the whole thing here.

Sign Up Now to Take Action on ACA Repeal!

Is health care repeal one of your top concerns? Then we hope to see you at the Capitol on March 6, along with 1000+ other health care activists and advocates!

While ACA repeal or replace or who-knows-what will happen in Congress, much of the implementation will be left to the states, especially with respect to Medicaid. That means we need to get in front of our #txlege members and tell them what Texans need!

If you want to #ProtectOurCare, join Indivisible Austin and the Cover Texas Now coalition on March 6 for the Rally to Protect Health Care + Lobby Day. In addition to the morning rally and press conference, you’ll be able to meet with lawmakers and staff in the afternoon. Austin locals may visit their own lawmakers, or they may join up with groups of concerned citizens from across the state–we’ve got people joining in from Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, and El Paso! RSVP is required to prepare materials and lobby groups.

RSVP NOW

How Your Voices Made a Difference Last Week: Feb. 19, 2017

Here’s how your voices made a difference last week.

  • National Security Adviser (and Islamophobe) Michael Flynn resigned amid proof that he discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Russian intelligence prior to Donald taking office, and lied about it to the VP and the FBI. Subsequent findings showed that many in the Republican administration have had contact with Russian intelligence as long ago as a year. Heat is rising from the spotlight this shines on the Republican administration, and many are calling for a full investigation into Flynn, Donald Trump, and this admin’s Russian ties.
  • Tax swindler and immigration hypocrite Andrew Puzder withdrew as the Labor Secretary nominee largely thanks to public outcry that turned four GOP senators against his nomination. Moderate Republicans look to finally be beginning to take a stand against Donald.
  • GOP Senator John McCain is amping up his opposition to Donald and his admin with a withering critique in a speech in Munich Friday, and calling Donald’s attempts to discredit the media “how dictators get started.”
These are the first real signs of breaks between the Republican administration and the Republican Congress–so it’s more important than ever to keep the heat on your Members of Congress.

REMINDER: 2/25 Protest Safety/Verbal Self Defense Training

Next Saturday will be a busy day in Austin! We have a session on protest safety and verbal assertiveness from 1-3 p.m. at the Manchaca Road Branch library, 5500 Manchaca (at the intersection with Stassney). Please RSVP here. We’ll cover

  • Grounding and emotional self-regulation techniques for public speaking/civic conflict situations
  • How to take control of the conversation (being rude for the right reasons)
  • Coordinating group action at an event
  • Tactical nonviolence planning essentials

Also, the No Ban, No Wall rally will be happening at the Capitol from 2-5 p.m., so you can head up there after the training session and try out your new skills. (Tip: the No. 3 and 103 buses run direct from the library up to Lavaca near the Capitol!)

And if you’re one of Rep. Lamar Smith’s lucky constituents, there is a Town Hall from 5-7:30 p.m. that he could potentially attend if he were into that sort of thing which, unfortunately, he does not seem to be. But the event will be at the historic Scoot Inn at 1308 E 4th Street, a great place to gather after the rally as District 21 residents voice their concerns.

Hope you can make it to one or more of these events!

UPDATED: Upcoming Town Halls – Really!

One of the core tactics in the Indivisible Guide is to attend Town Halls where you can speak directly to your Members of Congress (MoCs). But what do we do when our MoCs refuse to hold a Town Hall–even during next week’s recess when they are supposed to be in their districts?

Answer: You hold one anyway!

Below are the “mock” Town Halls scheduled so far. In each case, the MoC has been invited to attend and may even show up. But that won’t stop constituents from gathering and raising their concerns. We hear cardboard cutouts, puppets, and other MoC stand-ins will in attendance.

TX17 Indivisible Bill Flores Town Hall (Bryan-College Station)

Sunday, February 19, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Texas A&M Hillel

800 George Bush Dr, College Station, Texas 77840

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1862559110683658/

TX25 Town Hall/Town Howl Roger Williams

Sunday, February 19, 4:30-6 pm

Flores Mexican Restaurant, 2440 E Hwy 290, Dripping Springs, TX 78620

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1418162568218197/

Cruz/Cornyn Ghost Town Hall

Monday, February 20, 6-8 p.m.

Spider House Ballroom

2906 Fruth Street, Austin, TX 78705

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1447442305307711

TX17 Indivisible Bill Flores Town Hall (Pflugerville)

Wednesday, February 22, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Blackhawk Amenity Center

3111 Speidel Dr., Plugerville, TX 78660

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/175693349589186/

TX31 Wilco Indivisible John Carter Town Hall

Wednesday, February 22, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

3830 Brushy Creek Rd, Cedar Park, TX 78613

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/727964680696280/

TX10 Indivisible Michael McCaul Town Hall

Thursday, February 23, 6:30-8 p.m. NOTE, this IS the correct date. An email went out with a typo 🙁

Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Blvd, Austin, TX 78756

RSVP HERE

TX21 Indivisible Lamar Smith Town Hall

Saturday, February 25, 5 p.m

The Scoot Inn, 1308 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78702

Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/1360916700598119/

We’ll update this page as new info comes in. 

Governor Abbott’s Cruelty Will Be His Undoing

Authoritarian regimes succeed only when there are enough lackeys willing to brutalize their fellow citizens on behalf of the autocracy. These lackeys do it without being told, and they do it with zeal.

One such lackey is Gov. Greg Abbott, whose fealty to Trump is painfully evident in the case of a Tarrant County, Texas, woman named Maria Ortega, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for voter fraud.

Ortega, a mother of four who has lived in Texas since infancy, is a U.S permanent resident. In other words, she is here legally, with a Green Card. Although Green Card-holders are prohibited from voting, Ortega voted (for Mitt Romney) in the 2012 election, and has said that she misunderstood the rules for voter registration and voting as a legal permanent resident. When the Tarrant County election office discovered she was not a citizen, and that she had voted in previous elections, they filed charges.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, for whom Ortega also voted, offered to dismiss the charges. In normal times, the charges would have been dismissed, or at worst Ortega would have been sentenced to probation.

But these are not normal times.

Tarrant County Attorney General Sharen Wilson disregarded Paxton’s offer and took the case to trial. A jury convicted Ortega of felony voter fraud and sentenced her to eight years. (It’s confusing, but in this case the jury, not the judge, determined the sentence. See first paragraph about lackeys.)

This injustice would have gone largely unnoticed had Trump not brought voter fraud into the national spotlight, and had Gov. Abbott not amplified it.

Our governor is gloating about separating a mother from her children for eight years. She will be in prison and then deported. There is no planet on which this punishment fits the crime, and our governor seems delighted about it.

Side note: The voting rights of Green Card-holders are not exactly clear. In fact, these are Google’s “instant results” for “Can you vote with a green card?”

This is clear as mud. Ortega voted in a state election, which this definition from Legal Zoom makes seem legal. But it’s not!

Whether or not Ortega knew she was repeatedly breaking the law by voting, eight years is an insane prison sentence.

So what can we do?

For Ortega: Probably not much, although watch this space for any updates.

But we are Indivisible and you know what that means…

If you live in Tarrant County

Call Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson at (817) 884-1400 and ask why she decided to move this case to trial when Ken Paxton offered to dismiss charges. Ask if eight years seems like a fair sentence. Also: The DA in Tarrant County is an elected office and in 2015 Wilson ran unopposed in the general election. (Please do not call if you are not a Tarrant County resident.)

If you live in Texas

Call Gov. Greg Abbott and ask him whether eight years in prison is a reasonable term for a mother of four who simply…voted when she wasn’t supposed to. Ask him if he’s ever made a mistake, and how he’d feel to have his family torn asunder over something so minor. Rapists and murderers do less than eight years. And when it comes time to for you to vote, remember Maria Ortega’s name.

If you live outside of Texas

Consider donating to the Women’s Storybook Project of Texas, which connects incarcerated mothers to their children through literature.