Indivisible: Conejo Weekly Newsletter


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General Meeting Charts a Course for "365 DAYS TO VICTORY!"
 

Indivisible: Conejo activists have achieved great successes over the last 10 months, at the federal, state and local levels ... but even more diligence, hard work, and extension outside our comfort zones will be required to flip Congress (and the CVUSD school board) and create a fairer, more equitable America in 2018. That was the key message emerging from our November general meeting. Melissa Paul and Henry Montalvo, leaders of our Swing District Elections team, discussed how we'll use in-person and digital engagement over the next year to add more voters to the rolls, advocate for progressive issues and candidates, and oust Trump-enabling Republicans such as Rep. Steve Knight in our neighboring 25th congressional district. Julie Diaz Martinez (shown at top), our Immigrants' Rights team leader, showed how we'll apply those tactics specifically to California's 21st district as well. Later, longtime social-service consultant Molly Corbett (second row, left), along with Jamie Padilla and Roman Pinal from the United Farmworkers (bottom row, left), provided training in conflict de-escalation during protest rallies and other public events -- encouraging activists to isolate violent troublemakers and vandals away from mainstream protesters, to avoid engaging directly with counterprotesters when possible, and generally to return opponents' hatred with love and kindness. Look for details of the Swing Districts team's presentation on our website, indivisibleconejo.org, in the coming days! 


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Resist the #TrumpTaxScam!


When House Republicans finally released their tax plan last Thursday, it quickly became clear that it was designed to be a disaster for middle-class Californians. We'll be on the front lines all week as part of Indivisible's National Week of Action opposing the GOP's efforts. Our centerpiece is a protest rally co-sponsored with SWAN, Conejo Valley Against the Trump Tax Scam!, happening Wednesday, November 8, at 4 p.m. at the Promenade at Westlake.

Our sister Indivisible groups across the county are hosting protests as well -- on Tuesday afternoon outside Rep. Steve Knight's office in Simi Valley, and at the County Government Center in Ventura on Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, we're asking our activists to flood our House members' offices with phone calls all week, talking about the damage the Republicans' plan will do to middle-class families here and elsewhere. The Senate is expected to unveil its version of the bill later this week, and at that time we'll begin calling our senators as well!

The $6 trillion plan cuts the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, from 35 percent; reduces the number of tax brackets for individuals from 7 to 4; ends the alternative minimum tax, which helps ensure that the wealthy can't take too many deductions; and repeals the estate tax in six years. The plan would explode the federal deficit over the next decade by about $1.5 trillion, according to independent analysts.

In order to mitigate some of the damage, Republicans plan to pay for their cuts -- which primarily benefit the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans -- by sticking it to the middle class. The cuts in the bill aimed squarely at the top 1 percent -- the estate tax repeal, for example -- are written to be permanent, while most of the cuts targeting the middle class would "sunset" within 10 years. A report released Monday by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that about 8 percent of families will see their taxes rise next year; a decade from now, more than 1 in 4 families will be paying higher rates.

The Americans who will suffer the most, in both the short and long terms, live in states like California, NewYork and New Jersey where state and local taxes are already high -- and so are housing prices. The bill calls for:

    • capping the mortgage interest deduction for future home purchases at the first $500,000 of a home's value -- a move that would punish home buyers in parts of the country with high housing costs (such as Thousand Oaks, where the median home price is $698,800; Newbury Park, with its median price of $682,000; or Westlake Village, where the median price is $986,300).
    • ending the deduction for state and local income taxes, and limiting the deduction for property taxes to $10,000.

    The bill also is laden with items long on the far right's wish list -- including what the Los Angeles Times calls a series of "petty cruelties" targeting 

    • ending deductions for medical expenses, which would create a huge new burden for the chronically ill as well as parents of children with special needs who see doctors frequently.
    • ending deductions for student loan payments, moving expenses, tax preparation costs, and other expenses commonly incurred by the middle class.
    • ending deductions for property and casualty losses -- including those incurred during the course of an earthquake, hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster.
    • ending child tax credits for children who are citizens, but have parents who are undocumented immigrants.
    • overturning the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits church leaders from directly endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit.
    • decimating the Americans with Disabilities Act by ending incentives for small businesses to comply.
    • reducing tax credits for wind power and electric cars, while protecting deductions for oil and natural-gas drilling costs.
    • eliminating deductions for teachers who purchase supplies for their classrooms themselves.
    • repealing the adoption tax credit, which helps parents offset the high costs of going through the adoption process and encourages permanent adoptions of children in foster care.
    • advancing pro-life extremists' attempts to grant "personhood" to fetuses, by allowing expecting parents to enroll them in tax-deductible savings plans for college expenses. The bill refers to a fetus as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb." (This comes at the same time Republicans are refusing to reauthorize the Child Health Insurance Program, for children who have actually been born.)

    Clearly, there's much to oppose in the current House bill -- and it will be a moving target over the coming weeks, as changes are made to placate various objections from the far-right and moderate parts of the Republican caucus. But we are committed to argue against it until moderates find it impossible to support the bill -- not to mention congressmen who aren't moderate, but who represent  Californians who will be adversely affected. Please join us in this effort!


    Renewed Activism Needed After CVUSD Board Extremists

    Launch New Assault on Lit Curriculum

     

    Activists who have been following the censorship drama in the Conejo Valley Unified School District over the last five months are gearing up for another round of protest, as the board's extremist majority has circumvented proper policymaking procedures (again!) and vastly expanded their efforts to ensure that the district's students aren't able to study books that board members find offensive. Beginning at the school board meeting on Tuesday, November 7, residents who hope to salvage our district's reputation for providing a high-quality education are encouraged to renew their efforts -- attending board meetings, sending email messages to board members and district executives, and pressuring the board via letters to the editors of the local papers. 

    As activists who have been following Indivisible: Conejo's work on this issue already know, earlier this fall the board established a committee to codify the practice of allowing students to “opt out” of reading literary works their parents find offensive. However, last week, just as the committee was completing a reasonable policy, board member Sandee Everett substituted a proposal that is entirely unreasonable. It would not merely allow, but encourage opt-outs — requiring teachers to include out-of-context “content warnings” on the syllabi they distribute each August. (Everett's fellow extremist, board president Mike Dunn, has refused to allow the new policy drafted by the "superintendent's committee" to be discussed by the board on Tuesday.)

    Everett’s proposal also would give the board more power to stop “controversial” novels from being approved for thecurriculum, and to temporarily pull books for re-evaluation. They would take these decisions away from educationprofessionals, while empowering themselves. Our English teachers are understandably up in arms over this proposal, which insults their professionalism while encouraging parents to defy their curriculum choices. Beginning on Tuesday, we're going to support the teachers in their arguments for a high-quality curriculum, chosen by education experts -- and we won't stop until we replace extremists Dunn and John Andersen in November 2018! 


    MARK YOUR CALENDAR!