Lieu, Stern, Students Share Perspectives at Indivisible Town Hall
Curbing America's epidemic of gun violence was the main topic, but far from the only one, discussed during Rep. Ted Lieu's May 5 Town Hall at Agoura High School, co-sponsored with the student groups GenUN and #NeverAgainSoCal. About 250 attendees heard Lieu offer updates on the Trump-Russia investigation, the ongoing civil/proxy war in Yemen, and the status of Campaign 2018 (long story short: he's cautiously bullish on Democrats' chances of retaking both the House and Senate). The congressman then took questions on gun violence from nearly a dozen students representing campuses across the Conejo Valley. State Sen. Henry Stern, along with Calabasas High School senior (and student-walkout organizer) Lucy Schiller, kicked off the proceedings by paying tribute to student activism during the months since the Parkland shooting. Thanks to Rep. Lieu and Sen. Stern (and their staffs), to the adult activists who attended ... and particularly to the students for sharing their experiences and insights!
Indivisible Activism Needed in Local
Battles Over SB 54, Censorship
Controversy reigns once again this month in Conejo Valley politics, as both the Thousand Oaks City Council and the CVUSD board of trustees deal with issues that promise to bring large, combative crowds to upcoming meetings. The school board's problems, once again, are of its own making -- a revisiting of last year's contentious core-literature opt-out policy that has become fraught with interpersonal intrigue among the trustees. Meanwhile, the City Council's struggles over immigration have been visited upon it from the outside -- specifically, from an extremist right-wing movement to undermine California's newly implemented "sanctuary state" law.
Our intervention is desperately needed in both situations, as we try to keep the CVUSD majority from making a bad policy even worse and as we try to fend off an angry horde of anti-immigrant agitators at City Council chambers. These debates are heating up; here's a primer on both, so you can think through and plan your activism!
CVUSD, Back To The Drawing Board Next Tuesday
The CVUSD board has been forced to revisit the censorious core-lit policy that created so much drama last fall, and plans to discuss and vote on potential changes during its meeting this Tuesday, May 15. To recap: When board extremist Sandee Everett wrote the new policy, she demanded that each high school English teacher's syllabus include parental-warning notations for certain works (ranging from "The Catcher in the Rye" and "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" to "The Hunger Games"). She based those warnings on the online "caveats" that appeared on the California Department of Education's recommended reading list. However, as soon as CDE officials saw that CVUSD was using their caveats to encourage parents to "opt out" of those novels, they quickly decided to delete them -- leaving Everett's policy without a necessary underpinning.
The CDE's disapproval of the policy was made public when board member John Andersen filed a Public Records request for documents related to the caveats' removal -- a request submitted without his fellow board members' knowledge, and at a taxpayer expense topping $1,000. He asked not only for internal correspondence among the department's education experts, but also for external communications so he could find out who in the Conejo Valley had asked the CDE to review Everett's policy. (That list included several Thousand Oaks residents as well as board member Betsy Connolly, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, and state Senator Henry Stern.) The secrecy of Andersen's request, and its similarity to the angry reaction to localopposition that resulted in trustee Mike Dunn's censure this past winter, offered yet one more reminder of the depths to which the extremist majority has sunk in order to impose its "morals" on the district.
As the opt-out policy goes forward, will Dunn, Andersen and Everett learn their lesson and stop trying to guide parents away from specific books? We'll find out on Tuesday -- and we encourage Indivisible: Conejo activists who fought this battle so valiantly last fall to man the barricades once again, in opposition to parental warnings that threaten students' freedom to read!
'Sanctuary State' Law in the Far Right's Crosshairs
On Monday, May 8, Santa Clarita's city council became the most recent suburban governing body to express opposition to SB 54, the California Values Act. Meanwhile, the Thousand Oaks City Council announced earlier this month that it will consider a measure opposing the law during one of its June meetings (June 5 or 19). The anti-immigrant agitators -- many of them from outside city limits -- who have descended on T.O.'s council chambers this spring are sure to return with a vengeance to that hearing. We must turn out in force as well, to defend our immigrant neighbors and the rule of law!
We also must act between now and then. In Santa Clarita, a council member noted that emails opposing SB 54 had outnumbered those supporting it by more than 6 to 1, and then declared that "the people of Santa Clarita have spoken." We cannot allow a similar attitude to take hold in Thousand Oaks because we sat on our hands! We must engage relentlessly with the council members AND the public, via emails, phone calls and Letters to the Editor in the Acorn and Star.
We must remind them that SB 54 does not threaten public safety; that it does not result in dangerous criminals being turned loose; that it improves rather than damages relationships between cops and community members; that younger Californians (such as those Thousand Oaks wants to attract to its new downtown and mixed-use apartment buildings) support SB 54 in large numbers; and that neither a resolution opposing the law or a brief joining a lawsuit against it would have any real impact on its implementation, but would send a strong message to those young Californians that Thousand Oaksdoesn't reflect their values.
Here is the contact info you'll need to make your voice heard: City Council phone line: (805) 449-2151; Mayor Andy Fox: email@example.com; Mayor Pro Tem Rob McCoy: firstname.lastname@example.org; Council member Al Adam:email@example.com; Council member Claudia Bill-de la Peña: firstname.lastname@example.org; Council member Joel Price: email@example.com. Submit a letter to theThousand Oaks Acorn here; to submit a letter to theVentura County Star, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
Indivisible: Conejo Daily Actions,
April 30-May 10
4/30 - 5/1 - Back to the Barricades at CVUSD
5/2 - Torturers Should Get Jail Time, Not Promotions
5/8 - Save the Iran Nuke Deal from Trump's Belligerence
5/9 - Defend Immigrants & Rule of Law in Thousand Oaks
5/10 - Fight to Restore Net Neutrality in Congress & CA