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.

URGENT #txlege Opportunity for Action on Jan. 31

URGENT! TEXAS SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE HEARING ON HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, JANUARY 31, 2017!

UPDATE: We just received word that this hearing will recess sometime around 10:30 am, and will likely reconvene some time after NOON. Please plan your day accordingly if you plan to attend to give testimony.

PLEASE RSVP and plan to join us at the Capitol on Tuesday starting at 9 a.m. in room E1.036!

Texans targeted by drastic cuts to the state’s health and human services (HHS) budget (Article 2) need your support on January 31st!

If you think Texas should have a robust Medicaid program, strong supports for children with special needs, provide services to adults with disabilities so they can work and live full lives, and don’t want the Texas legislature to slash funding, SHOW UP.

Come to the Capitol and show your support for resisting the Senate’s proposed budget. We need folks who can:

  • Attend the hearing and keep the room full to show our support for halting cuts to Medicaid
  • Sign up to give oral testimony (more details to come in comments below)
  • Write and turn in written testimony (more details to come in comments below)
  • Speak with the media about how cuts to the state’s Medicaid budget harm them and/or their families.

BACKGROUND:
The committee is taking public testimony on the HHS section of the Senate Budget put forth by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Jane Nelson. The Senate budget includes nearly half a billion dollars in cuts to health and human services, which would devastate medical care and services that Texas children and families rely on. The Senate bill also fails to provide funding to cover Medicaid for the full two years of the next budget.

People who will be harmed by these cuts include:

  • Children who get their health insurance through Medicaid
  • People with disabilities
  • Low-income seniors, and
  • Pregnant women

Your presence and your testimony can make a difference for millions of Texans.

TODAY: Women’s March on Austin

The Women’s March on ATX is a sister event of the Women’s March in Washington, DC and others across the nation. IndivisibleATX is participating in the march to show solidarity and support the mission.

MISSION: We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country. WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS.
For more information, please see this.

WHEN: Saturday, January 21, 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (march starts at 12)

WHERE TO MEET: indivisible ATX members will gather in front of the Texas State Capitol Visitors Center, 112 East 11th Street, and then join the main group on the South Lawn of the Texas State Capitol. Look for signs that say #RESIST and#INDIVISIBLEATX.

The march departs from the south gate of the capitol at 12PM. We will march down Congress Ave towards 6th Street, across 6th, and north on Lavaca back to the south lawn.

ALL Indivisible teams are welcome to join us, no matter where you’re coming in from. We would love the chance to meet up with you!

WHAT TO WEAR:

  • Good shoes!
  • Layers — this is Texas, so who knows how warm/cool it will be
  • Many will be wearing Indivisible ATX/#RESIST  t-shirts. You can make your own! Black t-shirts are about $3.99 and $.099 for white fabric paint, and a little more for iron-on transfers, at Michael’s … if you’re not crafty, consider wearing black & white to show IATX solidarity. But remember, what you wear isn’t important — BEING THERE is!

WHAT TO BRING:

  • Noisemakers  such musical instruments, percussion instruments (homemade is fine!), kazoos, whistles, bullhorns etc.
  • Signs
  • Fanny pack with water and other necessities
  • Copy of protest song lyrics, which you can find here.

This is not a protest, but a rally, so any signs should be in support of women’s rights, equality, support for marginalized people, unity, etc.

CAN I RSVP?

Please do! Right here.

MARCH INFO FROM THE ORGANIZERS:

For full information on the march, including tips, updates, and printable fliers, please go here.

Unite against Tom Price – or we all pay the price in future healthcare costs

“We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.”

From Maya Angelou’s “Human Family”

If you’ve been paying attention to the news and social media lately, Angelou’s sentiment about our similarities may seem questionable at the moment. We appear to be a nation deeply divided on the majority of issues. To complicate matters further, the press, the pundits, and the politicians sow even more discontent by perpetually highlighting these divisions. No one seems to be able to agree on how to right the ship and sail on to a more prosperous America for all.

However, one of the things that we are mostly united about is the importance of quality, affordable healthcare for everyone.

  • The Pew Research Center recently published a report concluding that sixty percent of Americans believe that the government “should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, compared with 38% who say this should not be the government’s responsibility.”
  • Additionally, in a poll evaluating healthcare priorities for 2017, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reports that 67% of Americans believe that lowering out-of-pocket healthcare costs is a top priority for the incoming administration.
  • 61% also think that a reduction in the cost of prescription drugs should be a top priority, according to the same KFF study.

These statistics, along with the growing movement to save the Affordable Care Act, indicate that we are not as divided as it may seem. Constituents in both Aurora, Colorado and Spokane, Washington gained national attention by gathering at public events and demanding answers to their healthcare concerns. Despite this growing unification, the incoming administration continues to push repeal. The Congressional Budget Office reports that the repeal will have the opposite effect of what most of us want – in fact, it will result in the loss of coverage for many and the increase in premiums for all.

Tom Price, Trump’s nominee for the department of Health and Human Services, has been an outspoken critic of the ACA. He even authored a bill devised to repeal it. Of further concern is his voting record and stance on reproductive rights. Mr. Price’s policies do not reflect those of the majority of Americans.

It is vital that we keep the pressure on our elected officials to block these nominations and save the Affordable Care Act. Call John Cornyn , Ted Cruz , and your local representative . If you’re at a loss for words, be sure to use the excellent scripts provided here. If possible, organize a group to meet with your representatives about the serious healthcare issues facing us as Texans.

Kendall Shearman

March with us on Friday & Saturday!

Here’s everything you need to know about IATX at the marches this weekend. Boost the signal — share in your district groups and with your friends!

ONE RESISTANCE INAUGURATION PROTEST MARCH

IndivisibleATX will be joining many other organizations and individuals for a peaceful march on the State Capitol to protest Donald Trump’s politics of fear and hate and to rally for civil rights, immigrants’ rights, reproductive rights, our environment, good jobs, as well as justice and safety in all of our communities. The marchers will gather at Auditorium Shores and march up Congress Ave. to the State Capitol.

WHEN: Friday, January 20, 5 p.m.

WHERE TO MEET:

IndivisibleATX members will gather in front of the box office at the Long Center at 5 p.m., then walk together across the street to Auditorium Shores where we will join the other marchers. Look for signs that say #RESIST and#INDIVISIBLEATX.

WHAT TO WEAR:

  • Good shoes!
  • Layers — this is Texas, so who knows how warm/cool it will be
  • Many will be wearing Indivisible ATX/#RESIST  t-shirts. You can make your own! Black t-shirts are about $3.99 and $.099 for white fabric paint, and a little more for iron-on transfers, at Michael’s … if you’re not crafty, consider wearing black & white to show IATX solidarity. But remember, what you wear isn’t important — BEING THERE is!

WHAT TO BRING:

  • Noisemakers  such musical instruments, percussion instruments (homemade is fine!), kazoos, whistles, bullhorns etc.
  • Signs
  • Fanny pack with water and other necessities
  • Copy of protest song lyrics, which you can find here

IATX and (hopefully) other Indivisible folks from around the state will meet briefly in front of the box office at the Long Center, right across the street from Auditorium Shores. We will meet-and-greet and learn a couple of protest songs, then head over to join the main group. We are here to support the cause, but it doesn’t hurt to raise visibility for our group, so let’s march as a group!

IS IT FAMILY FRIENDLY?’

Yes!

CAN I RSVP?

Yes! If you’re on FB, please RSVP to our event here

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Go here.

 

INDIVISIBLE ATX AT THE WOMEN’S MARCH

The Women’s March on ATX is a sister event of the Women’s March in Washington, DC and others across the nation. IndivisibleATX is participating in the march to show solidarity and support the mission.

MISSION: We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country. WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS.
For more information, please see this.

WHEN: Saturday, January 21, 11 a..m. – 3:30 p.m.

WHERE TO MEET: indivisible ATX members will gather in front of the Texas State Capitol Visitors Center, 112 East 11th Street, and then join the main group on the South Lawn of the Texas State Capitol. Look for signs that say #RESIST and#INDIVISIBLEATX.

The march departs from the south gate of the capitol at 12PM. We will march down Congress Ave towards 6th Street, across 6th, and north on Lavaca back to the south lawn.

ALL Indivisible teams are welcome to join us, no matter where you’re coming in from. We would love the chance to meet up with you!

WHAT TO WEAR:

  • Good shoes!
  • Layers — this is Texas, so who knows how warm/cool it will be
  • Many will be wearing Indivisible ATX/#RESIST  t-shirts. You can make your own! Black t-shirts are about $3.99 and $.099 for white fabric paint, and a little more for iron-on transfers, at Michael’s … if you’re not crafty, consider wearing black & white to show IATX solidarity. But remember, what you wear isn’t important — BEING THERE is!

WHAT TO BRING:

  • Noisemakers  such musical instruments, percussion instruments (homemade is fine!), kazoos, whistles, bullhorns etc.
  • Signs
  • Fanny pack with water and other necessities
  • Copy of protest song lyrics, which you can find here.  

This is not a protest, but a rally, so any signs should be in support of women’s rights, equality, support for marginalized people, unity, etc.

CAN I RSVP?

Please do! Right here.

MARCH INFO FROM THE ORGANIZERS:

For full information on the march, including tips, updates, and printable fliers, please go here