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That time Rep. Roger Willams actually held a Town Hall

Roger Williams Bee Cave Town Hall in which Bee Cave Mayor Monty Parker asked the cops to intervene with a followup question

Photos: TX25 Indivisible, Driftwood/Dripping Springs

Last week, with 24 hours’ notice, Rep. Roger Williams scheduled four Town Halls, one of them in Bee Cave, just outside Austin. Organizers from Indivisible Texas 25 East Austin and Driftwood/Dripping Springs groups scrambled to attend.

Bee Cave mayor Monte Parker moderated the event, and we got this dispatch from one of the attendees.

Congressman Roger Williams held a Faux Town Hall in Bee Caves Tuesday, February 19. With no more than 24 hour notice, his staff sent out a Facebook invitation to the 10:00 am event.  The moderator was Bee Caves Mayor, Monte Parker, who started with a stern warning to the constituents in attendance, we were to follow the rules, which he never explained.

Roger Williams made a speech, then Parker asked questions that had been submitted from the audience during registration. (You had to pick from a skewed list of topics.) Questions asked, Williams responds, no audience participation allowed.

Finally, a few audience members were able to ask questions, which Williams answered, but Parker made sure there were no follow-up questions, which is not how Town Hall—where concerned citizens have a dialogue with their Representatives—are supposed to work.

Mayor Parker was unprofessional and completely disregarded the first amendment in his handling of the situation, going so far as have a police officer come warn a citizen he would be removed because he asked a follow-up question.

The lack of respect for the citizens in attendance frustrated nearly everyone; one man was told if he didn’t like the way things were, he could leave—and so he did.

From the beginning, Mayor Parker set the adversarial tone, and he continued his heavy-handed approach throughout the one-hour meeting. This is not how Democracy works. We must hold our leaders to a higher standard. Mayor Parker needs to take a look at his bias before he moderates another town hall.

Watch Rep. Roger Williams tell a student constituent why he does not support H.R.8.:

Write your reps! Support the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R.8)

Congress is voting the week of February 25, 2019 on H.R.8, which would close the loophole in the current law to require background checks for firearm purchases online and at gun shows. It’s a small, but important step toward ending the epidemic of gun violence. Rep. Lloyd Doggett is a cosponsor (thanks, Lloyd!) and the bill has five Republican cosponsors as well (none, sadly, from Texas).

Indivisible Austin Joins Call to Block David Whitley’s Nomination

Say NO to David Whitley, say NO to voter suppression

Today Indivisible Austin joined more than 30 groups in calling for the Texas Senate Democrats to block Secretary of State nominee David Whitley’s confirmation.

“We, the undersigned Texas organizations, call on you to affirmatively block the confirmation of David Whitley for Texas Secretary of State. In the two months since Governor Greg Abbott appointed Mr. Whitley to serve on December 17, 2018, it has become exceedingly clear that Mr. Whitley is unfit to serve in that office.”

Read the full letter with signatories

Ask your State Senator to block Whitley’s nomination

Take Action Newsletter: Rally to end the #FakeTrumpEmergency; Say NO to SOS Whitley; John Cornyn hates the #GreenNewDeal

Take Action

End the #FakeTrumpEmergency

Roger Williams golfing with Trump on Saturday Feb 17 after Trump declared a national emergency

Rep. Roger Williams enjoys a round of golf with the president two days after Trump declared a National Emergency. Photo: Jesse Speirs via Twitter

Trump declared a national emergency to build his vanity wall after signing the funding bill that will lead to even more detention, deportation, and family separations at the border. This is a full-fledged attack on our democracy.

On Monday at 12 p.m., we take to the streets.

Whether you can attend or not:

TELL YOUR REPS to support the resolution to end the #FakeEmergency


Say NO to David Whitley for TX Secretary of State

Take action today and tell your State Senator that voter suppression has no place in Texas, and that they must vote NO on the confirmation of Secretary of State David Whitley. (Austinites: Sen. Kirk Watson is on record as a NO, but contact him anyway to express your support.)

Send an email to your State Senator now


How your voices are making a difference

  • The House Judiciary Committee passed a measure to require background checks for all U.S. firearm purchases.
  • the Senate approved the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade
  • Thousands of young students walked out of school in the middle of classes to protest inaction on climate change

Read about Donald’s compensatory wall


Events

SAVE THE DATES:

  • Indivisible Austin General Body Meetings will occur on the second Tuesday of the month, at 6 p.m. Locations will vary. The next meeting will be on Tuesday, March 12.
  • We’re also planning additional #TXLEGE training this Saturday at 10 a.m., focused on visiting lawmakers’ offices. Stay tuned for additional info or email ask@indivisibleaustin.com.

Monday, Feb. 18

TAKE TO THE STREETS to protest Trump’s #FakeEmergency

12 noon, Republic Square Park, 4th Street and Guadalupe. RSVP Here. (Or view on Facebook.)

Thursday, Feb. 21

James Talarico Town Hall

6:30 p.m., Round Rock ACC Multipurpose Room, 4400 College Park Drive Round Rock, TX

Doors open at 6:30 PM and the Town Hall will begin at 6:45 PM. We’ll be meeting in the Round Rock Multipurpose room at 4400 College Park Drive.

View on Facebook


#TXLEGE Watch

That time Ken Paxton’s wife filed a bill to legalize Ken Paxton’s crimes

It’s not easy for a bill to become law in the Texas Legislature. (Our guide walks you through the process.) But SB 860, filed by State Senator Angela Paxton—wife of our indicted attorney general—is leaving ethics experts “slack-jawed,” according to the Texas Tribune. The bill would let people to work as an investment advisor without a license—the exact crime for which Paxton was indicted.

Upcoming Hearings

Tuesday, Feb. 19

  • House Appropriations Article II subcommittee (health and human services, including early childhood intervention), 8 a.m. in E2.028.
  • House Public Education (see this blog post for more detail, several bills will be heard), 11:30 a.m. or upon final adjourn./recess or bill referral if permission granted, in E2.036.

Congress Critter of the Week: John CornynCornyn was a folky

Cornyn in a kinder, gentler phase. What happened?

Fortunately for John Cornyn, he won’t be around to see the worst effects of climate change. But many of us will. Our children and grandchildren will. And John Cornyn, as a United States Senator, wields the power to make life or death decisions on our behalf.

Last week, Cornyn pretended not to know that the Green New Deal was a resolution, not a bill. He pretended not to even know what a resolution is—despite being in Congress since 2002.

He has shared multiple articles denying the facts of climate change, and dismissing the Green New Deal as a liberal boondoggle.

Here are some facts about John Cornyn, and about the Green New Deal:

  • Yes, the Green New Deal is a resolution. So was FDR’s New Deal, at the beginning.
  • The oil & gas industry is John Cornyn’s 2nd-biggest contributor.
  • The Green New Deal is about more than the environment: It’s about infrastructure. It’s about immigration. It’s about health care. This is because climate change’s devastating effects go far beyond the environment, intersecting with virtually every aspect of our lives.
  • John Cornyn is the #1 top Senate recipient of contributions from the natural gas transmission & distribution industry for 2017-18.
  • The Green New Deal is actually really short and easy to read. Don’t be intimidated. Go check it out.

Read more about Cornyn’s environmental record on senatorjohncornyn.com


Your Moment of Zen

First, watch this:

Then, read this beautiful essay on Winky the Bichon Frise.


Funding the Fight

Trump’s #FakeEmergency is a real problem, and we have to push back against it now. On Monday you can join us at Republic Square Park. You can make a gift right now to help us make these kinds of protests happen, along with all our other actions to protect democracy.

 

Donald’s compensatory wall | How your voices are making a difference

In a press conference notable for being even more than usually incoherent (and also making the announcement using the iPhone Notes app), Donald fundamentally (and no doubt legally) undermined his own case for a national emergency by stating, “I didn’t need to do this…I just wanted to get it done faster.” Perhaps Webster’s, long known for hilariously trolling Donald’s misuses of his native tongue, can help Don John and the GOP with the definition of “emergency”?

Meanwhile, an avalanche of lawsuits against the Very Stable Genius’s undermining of Congress and our democracy has predictably begun, as even Donny’s own DoJ has assured him his unfounded executive action is likely to be blocked by the courts.

In the run-up to Donald’s propaganda visit to El Paso to pimp for his compensatory border wall, El Paso officials went on the record with media to request the president stop perpetuating lies about crime and security in the border town. El Paso County is among those entities suing Donny for the declaration of national emergency.

Congress Actually Working

The House Judiciary Committee passed a measure to require background checks for all U.S. firearm purchases.

Despite the current administration’s efforts to peel back protections on protected areas, the Senate approved the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, creating 1.3 million new acres of protected wilderness, expanding a number of national parks, and creating five new national monuments. The bipartisan bill passed 92-8, and “combines more than 100 separate bills that designate more than 350 miles of river as wild and scenic, add 2,600 miles of new federal trails and create nearly 700,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas. The bill also withdraws 370,000 acres in Montana and Washington state from mineral development,” as well as reauthorizing the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund permanently.

The House passed a measure to end U.S. military support of Saudi forces in Yemen, repudiating Donald’s continued support of the Saudi-led war effort there.

Meanwhile the top U.S. Commander in the Middle East, Gen. Joseph Votel, publicly broke with Donald to state that he disagrees with the Mentally Deranged Dotard’s precipitous announcement that he plans to withdraw troops from Syria, stating that ISIS is far from defeated there.

Republican Corruption

Donald appointee William “Brock” Long, the FEMA administrator who was recently investigated by his department for his inappropriate use of federal vehicles costing taxpayers more than $150K, has resigned.

Donald enraged even Republicans by ignoring a law requiring the White House to submit a report to Congress about who ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Spoiler alert: Every head of U.S. intelligence has agreed it was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a certainty that Donald is dancing as fast as he can to try to avoid confirming.)

The Texas Tribune is doing a bang-up job exposing the lies, fallacies and fraud behind Texas secretary of state David Whitley’s announcement that Texas was investigating 95K voters who may not be citizens.

In opposition to Donald’s attempts to keep the industry viable for his donor coal cronies, the Tennessee Valley Authority voted to close two aging coal-fired power plants.

A White House security specialist asked for whistleblower protection after raising concerns that Donald’s appointees approved security clearances for certain staffers—notably his relatives, like Jared Kushner—without adequate vetting.

Teachers across the country clapped back when Don Jr. attacked “loser teachers” at his daddy’s El Paso rally; the responses cited the long tradition of authoritarian regimes launching attacks on educators as a first prong of undermining a democracy.

Mueller Time

Move over, Trump administration, and make room at the stake for another witch! A federal judge ruled that Paul Manafort breached his plea deal agreement by lying numerous times to federal investigators. The special investigator’s office recommended a sentence of up to 25 years and fines of up to $25 million.

Robert Mueller’s investigation interviewed Sarah Sanders late last year. It seems likely that the commander of cheese’s chief liar might have perjured herself. Stay tuned to find out!

Karma

Donald’s eldest sons, Beavis and Butthead, announced that they were scrapping plans for two new hotel lines, apparently because there is no one who wants to stay in anything with the Trump name on them.

Bit of sad karma here…a store owner who stopped selling Nike products after the brand hired Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson ran himself off a financial cliff and is shuttering his mall sports store. No one wants to see a small businessman punished for misunderstanding the players’ kneeling protest, but perhaps this will caution to others to try to understand the purpose of the protests—they are about police brutality and racial inequity, not the military or the flag, and they’re as American as football. Most of America feels the same way, so willfully misinterpret this heartfelt protest at your peril.

Thousands of young students walked out of school in the middle of classes to protest inaction on climate change and demand action.

RBG is BACK, babies.

Take Action at #txlege: Week of Feb. 18

Contributed by Felicia Miyakawa, Special Education Advocate

On Tuesday, Feb. 19, The House Public Education Committee will hear meet for the first time to discuss proposed bills hear public testimony about those bills. The hearing will start around 11:30 (or whenever the house adjourns) and it’s going to be LONG: there are 12 bills on the schedule! These bills cover a variety of topics: bonds, trustee elections, teacher training, sex trafficking prevention, class size limits, notification about physical fitness assessments, etc. You can find the livestream here.

As a Special Education advocate parent of two young people who receive Special Education services, I will be watching a few of these bills closely. (If you are also watching these bills and have different takes on the meaning of the bills, I’d love to hear your thoughts!)

1. HB 65 is about mandatory reporting of out-of-school suspensions. This bill would require schools to report certain demographic information about students who are suspended, as well as reasons for which the student was suspended.

Why this matters: Students of color and students with disabilities are suspended and otherwise punished with disciplinary actions at rates that are hugely disproportionate, and for issues that have little or nothing to do with the student code of conduct.

2. HB 116 is about teacher training and preparation. This bill would mandate that all K-12 educators-in-training receive instruction in how to help students of ALL abilities access the curriculum.

Why this matters: a vast majority of students who receive Special Education services do so in the General Education environment for at least part of their day. (It’s very important to understand that Special Education is a service, not a place.) Currently, there is no mandated training for general education teachers to learn the specialized approaches that Special Education teachers are supposed to learn. Yet in many cases, those teachers serve the same students. Federal law requires that we educate kids in Special Education with their non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible, but when General Education teachers don’t have this training, they are unprepared to include our students.

3. HB 165 is about amending the Education Code to allow students who receive Special Education services to receive endorsements in high school, and provides ways for these endorsements to be determined.

Why this matters: an increasing number of kids in special education are college-bound. (More and more colleges and universities are offering tailored programs for students with disabilities to meet the growing demand.) Currently, however, students who need modifications to their curriculum or who struggle to pass standardized tests like STAAR cannot earn endorsements on their transcripts. Allowing these students to earn endorsements helps them with entrance into college.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  1. If any of these issues are important to you personally, consider going to the capitol to give testimony. If you can get to the Capitol but don’t want to give testimony, please know that you can still weigh in. There are computer kiosks located close to the hearing rooms where you can register and indicate whether or not you support a bill and whether or not you want to testify. You can hang out and watch the hearing or leave. This is a great option for folks who don’t enjoy public speaking.
  2. If you would like to submit written testimony and can’t get to the capitol, let me know and I can try to connect you with someone who can help you.
  3. For everyone else, please call or email YOUR representative to discuss your stance on these bills. As a reminder, James Talarico is on the Public Education committee. If you live in HD 52, he will really want to hear from you!

Remember: you can watch a live stream of committee hearings. Bookmark these links:
House committee hearings

Senate committee hearings

Write Your Reps! Say NO to David Whitley for Secretary of State

Say NO to David Whitley, say NO to voter suppression

Take action today and tell your State Senator that voter suppression has no place in Texas, and that they must vote NO on the confirmation of Secretary of State David Whitley.

In January the Texas Secretary of State — who is a nominee and NOT confirmed yet — issued an advisory that drove Ken Paxton, Greg Abbott and even Donald Trump into a froth of voter-fraud-conspiracy theorizing.

To recap: Texas officials flagged 95,000 voters for citizenship reviews. Now their entire case is falling apart. The vast majority of people on the list likely registered to vote after becoming naturalized citizens. But unless the SOS rescinds the advisory, every county in Texas is expected to commit resources to checking the citizenship status of people on the list. Some counties have already sent out letters, while others continue to check the rolls and clean up the mess the Secretary of State made.

In 2018 Texans voted in record numbers for a midterm election, and much of the growth in turnout came from Latino voters. The timing of this attempted voter purge is suspicious, and despite the massive data failures lawmakers are using the purge as the basis for enacting more vote-suppressing legislation this session.

In just his first few months in office, David Whitley has proven his incompetence and that he’s inadequate to the task of managing elections and voter rolls. He has lost the public’s trust and shown a chilling lack of respect for our citizens’ right to vote. We believe a Secretary of State should protect, defend and expand our access to the ballot, not create a climate of fear to suppress the vote.

As of now, three lawsuits regarding the attempted voter purge are pending against Whitley. As of Thursday, February 14, the Senate Nominations committee had yet to vote on his nomination, despite having held two hearings.

We join with our allies who have filed these lawsuits, and the many others who believe David Whitley must not be our Secretary of State.

More background:
Commentary: The GOP doesn’t really care about democracy — only power (by Jolt Texas’s Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez)

TCRP Responds to Secretary of State David Whitley’s Confirmation Hearing (Texas Civil Rights Project)

Where the hunt for voter fraud is worse than the crime itself (Washington Post)

In addition to calling, emails are an effective way to reach your elected representatives. If your reps don’t appear in these campaigns, you can usually find a contact form on their website. Another alternative is ResistBot, which allows you to contact your reps via text message, Twitter, or Facebook—it’s fun!

Write Your Reps! Tell your reps to end the #FakeEmergency

Fake Emergency: Senate Edition

The House PASSED Rep. Joaquin Castro’s resolution to end the Fake National Emergency. Now it goes to the Senate. Ultimately it will need a veto-proof majority. So write your senators now!

Trump declared a national emergency to build his vanity wall after signing the funding bill that will lead to even more detention, deportation, and family separations at the border.

But Congress has the power to act! They can pass a resolution contesting the status of the national emergency — that’s part of the National Emergencies Act of 1976.

In addition to calling, emails are an effective way to reach your elected representatives. If your reps don’t appear in these campaigns, you can usually find a contact form on their website. Another alternative is ResistBot, which allows you to contact your reps via text message, Twitter, or Facebook—it’s fun!

 

Take Action Newsletter: Tell Cruz and Cornyn: No new wall money. Keep the government open; #TXLEGE roundup; Indivisible Austin general body meeting

Tuesday! Indivisible Austin General Body Meeting! Sign Up!

Take Action

Tell Cruz and Cornyn: No new wall money. Keep the government open.

Trumps siad he woud be the one to shut down government over wall and he did. Source: indivisible.orgIf Republicans try to back Trump’s demands for wall funding, we will be right back where we started, with another government shutdown on February 16. Tell them to keep the government open and support a conference agreement with no new funding for the wall.

Where we are now:

  • We have a “clean” short-term funding bill that funds the government until Feb. 15. It contains no additional money for Trump’s wall or for immigration enforcement.
  • An agreement to go to conference committee, where conferees from both chambers will negotiate a year-long agreement for funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
  • If the conference committee is unable to come to an agreement (i.e., if Trump sabotages the negotiations), then Trump has threatened he will either take us all into another shutdown, or declare a national emergency to pay for his wall.

Monday, Feb. 11 is critical. The absolute latest the full text of any proposal can be released publicly is Monday (in order to comply with the House 72-hour rule). So make those calls on Monday!

Prepare now for Trump to declare a fake state of emergency

How your voices are making a difference

  • NM governor Michelle Lujan Grisham pulled the majority of National Guard forces from the border
  • The House Intelligence Committee voted to send Robert Mueller more than 50 transcripts from witness testimony that might be pertinent to the Russia investigation
  • House Dems on the Ways and Means Committee are pushing for the release of Donald’s tax returns.

Read how the world was filled with awe…


#TXLEGE Watch

Don’t forget our #txlege-focused general body meeting!

Feb. 13 is Texas Advocacy Day for Moms Demand Action

Voter Suppression Roundup

Important Hearings for Week of Feb. 11

Read more about these hearings and your opportunity to testify >>


Events

Tuesday, Feb. 12

Indivisible Austin General Body MeetingIndivisible Austin General Body Meeting

6-8 p.m., University Hills library branch, 4721 Loyola Ln, Austin, TX 78723

Did you learn a lot at our Indivisible #TXLege Training in December but still aren’t sure what you can do to get our legislators to listen to us and pass or block bills? Or maybe you just want to learn more about Indivisible Austin and our state legislature.

RSVP now

Wednesday, Feb. 13

Moms Demand Action: Texas Advocacy Day

9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Push for common sense gun legislation in our state. Meet at Central Christian Church at 1110 Guadalupe St. prior to heading to the Capitol.

RSVP for the Advocacy Day

Saturday, Feb. 17

TX10 Constituent Town Hall

5:30 p.m. at Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Blvd. TX10 Indivisible has requested the presence of Rep. Michael McCaul to join us for a town hall (as well as Mike Siegel) during the February congressional break and we’d like YOU and YOUR FELLOW TX10 FRIENDS to join us!

To help the TX10 team plan for this event, please RSVP ASAP


Your Moment of Zen


Funding the Fight

There’s more to Indivisible Austin than fighting what’s happening in DC. We all know that’s important, but you’ve probably noticed that we have work to do here in Texas, much of it in the Capitol, right here in Austin.

That’s why our General Body Meeting on Tuesday will focus on how you can make a difference at the legislature. In addition to attending, we need your help to provide all that’s needed for the meeting and all our other activities: training materials, food, spaces to meet and more.

Support our actions today!

Indivisible Austin is here for the work: health care, civil rights, voting rights, protecting democracy locally and nationally. Be there with us. Make a gift.

 

Take Action at #txlege: Week of Feb. 11

Contributed by Felicia Miyakawa, Special Education Advocate

For those of you trying to keep up with #txlege, here are some action items regarding special education and medically fragile kids/adults.

This week there will be several hearings about funding and appropriations. For those of you who have less familiarity with these issues, please know that we need you to amplify our voices.

1. The Senate Finance Committee will be meeting about education matters in SB 1 on Monday morning at 10. SB 1 is the Senate’s budget bill. You can watch the hearing here once it’s live.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: the current bill does not provide for the $50 million identified as necessary to fix the Special Education plan TEA has already laid out (aka, the Corrective Action Plan), an action that is required because of a Federal Department of Education investigation. Public testimony is allowed at this hearing for a maximum of 3 minutes. Written testimony will be accepted. Please see the hearing notice for details.

2. House Appropriations Article II subcommittee will meet Monday morning at 8 to discuss Health and Human Services. You should be able to watch the hearing here once it’s live.

KEY ISSUES HERE: currently there is a 10+ year waitlist for kids with disabilities who need state resources. We need HHS to fund the “waivers” so we can get these kids off waitlists and get them the support they need. Public testimony will be allowed at this hearing for a maximum of 3 minutes. The hearing notice does not specify anything regarding written testimony.

3. House Appropriations will meet again on Thursday at 8, and one of the topics that day is Early Childhood Intervention. Over the past few sessions we’ve had HUGE cuts to these programs, and many rural providers have stopped providing services. We have huge gaps in service now, to say the least. Public testimony will be heard at this hearing, too. Please see the hearing notice for details. Watch here.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. If any of these issues are important to you personally, consider going to the capitol to give testimony.
2. If you would like to submit written testimony and can’t get to the Capitol, let me know and I can try to connect you with someone who can help you.
3. For everyone else, please call members of the above committees to support these funding needs.

House Appropriations Article II Subcommittee members

Senate Finance Committee members (includes Watson and Campbell from Central Texas districts)