Indivisible: Conejo Weekly Newsletter

Indivisible: Conejo Activists to CVUSD Board:

Drop Censorship, Approve Part-Time Indian

Indivisible: Conejo activists spent the last week lobbying the Conejo Valley Unified School District board of trustees -- via email, Letters to the Editor, and a June 20 protest at the district offices -- to approve the addition of Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to the high school curriculum. The book, a staple in classrooms nationwide, has been recommended by a panel of literature experts -- but school board president Mike Dunn has challenged its inclusion because of language he finds offensive. The board recently has been receiving messages from right-wing parents urging them to exclude other books currently in the curriculum, including Snow Falling on Cedars, The Kite Runner, and The Catcher in the Rye. If the board fails to approve Part-Time Indian during its June 27 meeting, teachers are likely to exclude it from their course planning for 2017-18. Assuming this issue makes it onto the June 27 agenda, Indivisible: Conejo activists will attend the board meeting and speak on behalf of the book, and against censorship.

"Future of Healthcare" Forum Offers

Hope for Californians in Face of

Gloomy Outlook At Federal Level


Republicans' plans to dismantle government services only begin with their disastrous healthcare bill -- but Californians have an opportunity to seize a brighter, single-payer future in the face of those draconian federal efforts. Those were the key messages that emerged from Indivisible: Conejo's June 20 forum, "The Future of Healthcare: The ACA and Single Payer," which drew an enthusiastic audience to CLU's Lundring Event Center.

The forum was live-streamed by the Campaign for a Healthy California, and can be viewed on our Facebook page.

Gerald Kominski (above left), director of the UCLA Health Policy Institute and one of the nation’s leading experts on public insurance, offered a bleak assessment of Republicans' work at the federal level. He predicted that in addition to taking access to health coverage away from at least 23 million Americans, the GOP's plans will drive up premiums dramatically for those who retain insurance, even through their employers -- all in the pursuit of tax cuts for the wealthy. "Trump was right when he said the House bill is 'mean,'" Kominski said. "It's very mean-spirited."

Even as they work on their "repeal and replace" legislation, Kominski noted, Republicans are undercutting the existing Affordable Care Act and creating an instability that may leave it unworkable even if their bill fails. "What's happening right now is a self-fulfilling prophecy," he said. "It angers me to no end to watch members of Congress stand in front of television cameras and say that 'Obamacare is imploding, and we all knew it was going to,' when they are causing it to implode. Insurers will flee the market if Republicans don't stop this nonsense and this bloodlust to get rid of the Affordable Care Act."

Pilar Schiavo, statewide Campaign Coordinator for the Healthy California Act, offered a detailed description of the plan to create a single-payer system for the state. She said it will allow the state to get out from under the Republicans' ideology, as well as insurers' profit-taking.


"Today's system is, we spend more and we get less," she noted. "The Healthy California Act would take the middleman out of our healthcare system. It's one statewide plan that guarantees healthcare for everyone who lives in California. It's going to save billions of dollars. There will be no more insurance companies, no deductibles, no co-pays, no premiums. It eliminates all the waste and inefficiency, like insurance companies you have to fight with to get the care you need."

Simi Valley physician Shayla Kassel spoke on the impact of federal regulations, the ACA, and insurance companies on doctor-patient relations, and said many doctors would appreciate a single-payer system that eliminates time-consuming paperwork and stabilizes their compensation for the services they provide.

"I spend roughly a third to half my time complying with endless regulations that do nothing to add to the quality of healthcare, and fighting with insurance companies for prior authorizations," she said. "In the U.S. we have this layer of middle-people who take profits out, but don't add any value to healthcare. We're not going to fix the runaway costs of healthcare delivery until we take profit out, and put patients first. No one should be able to profit from disease."

Kominski and Schiavo offered differing perspectives on a key element of the Healthy California Act's prospects: whether the federal government will be willing to provide the state with a waiver allowing it to take Medicare and Medicaid funding in a block grant, and add it to the "big red box" of single-payer financing.

Kominski was skeptical: "I find it difficult to imagine that this group of ideologues will allow California to take billions of federal dollars to create a more equitable healthcare system," he said. "Their ideology won't allow them to have a state show that it can use federal dollars more efficiently."

Schiavo countered, "Whether or not we get those waivers, or whether the bill has to include a wraparound [keeping Medicare in place while moving younger residents to a separate state-run system], it will be a seamless experience for California residents. We believe there's [an effective argument] on our side. The Trump administration can't treat California differently from Hawaii or Indiana, or other states that receive waivers. They can't say, 'You can't have your money because we don't like your plan.'"

Eligibility requirements for the Healthy California plan currently are a bone of contention among both supporters and opponents -- specifically, the question of whether the system will cover undocumented immigrants or new residents who haven't yet paid into it.  Dr. Kassel said denying services to those groups would hurt everyone in the state. "What I know, from a population-health perspective, is that we can't leave large subsets of the population out in the cold and expect we can keep the rest of the population healthy," she said. "Disease doesn't work like that."

Congratulations to Indivisible: Conejo's healthcare action team, and particularly Deborah Madden, for organizing an outstanding event!


Kudos for initiative and effectiveness to Indivisible: Conejo's Disability Rights Team, which has launched a social media campaign called #RiseUp4HealthCare. Using Twitter and Facebook, they're collecting photos and personal stories telling why affordable health care matters to a variety of Americans.

Please visit the campaign's Facebook page,, and use the downloadable, customizable sign to take a selfie or shoot a video. Let us know why you care about health care, and we'll share your stories online, with the media and with our Senators. Post and tweet your pictures and videos on your own social media accounts and groups, and you can help spread the word!

If we all #RiseUp4HealthCare and in opposition to the AHCA, the Senate will have to listen. Let's Rise Up and knock this disastrous bill off of its fast-track!

Congratulations to Cindy Liu and Lee Ann Holland for this brilliant idea!

RSVP for Our Postcard Parties

Promoting California Values and SB54!


If you attended one (or more) of our "Ides of Trump" postcard parties back in March, you know how much fun we had getting creative while hanging out with fellow activists. We're doing it again the week of June 25-29, organizing parties devoted to making sure Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin knows we're watching her closely as she decides how she'll vote on SB54, the California Values Act. Please RSVP to participate in a party on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday or Thursday!

Irwin continues to hedge on SB54, which would designate ours as a "sanctuary state" and limit the use of local and state agencies to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Ventura County's immigrants are our friends and neighbors, and contribute an enormous amount to our local economy. Let's make sure Assemblymember Irwin knows that we care about this issue. She must decide: Does she stand with us, the people who elected her -- or does she stand with the Trump administration's bigoted immigration policies?

How will YOU fit that sentiment on a postcard? There's only one way to find out...

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News from the Issue Action Teams

The recently relaunched team, under leader Melissa Cober, will have its first meeting on Thursday, June 22, at 6:30 p.m. Please RSVP!  Whether or not you've previously signed up for the team, we welcome your participation in this and future meetings.

Many of our activists have been eager to become more involved on issues important to these communities, and this is our opportunity to begin collaborating with and supporting local advocates, lobbying for increased protections at the state and local levels, and fending off Trump and the Republicans as they prioritize the "religious freedoms" of fundamentalists over the rights of LGBTQIA+ Americans. Please join us!

The team is monitoring several initiatives at the state and federal levels. A trio of bills known as Preserve California advance the state's clean climate agenda in spite of Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. The bills have passed the state Senate and are moving through the Assembly. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is now considering its version of a (literally) poisonous bill that passed the House last month (despite an Indivisible: Conejo Daily Action devoted to opposing it), which would deregulate the spraying of toxic pesticides directly into waterways. 

The team continues to send comments to the Department of the Interior concerning Trump's executive order demanding a review of 27 National Monuments, including 4 in California. The public comment period continues through July 10. Finally, team members are contacting the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service concerning the Vaquita Porpoise, the world’s rarest marine mammal, which is on the verge of extinction as a result of illegal fishing operations in protected areas within Mexico's Gulf of California.