Postcard Partiers Seek To Flip the CVUSD Board
For months now, progressive activists from across the Conejo Valley have been gathering on weekday afternoons for postcard parties targeting voters in special-election districts nationwide. This month, Indivisible: Conejo and the Democratic Club of the Conejo Valley have begun to refocus those parties toward more local concerns -- most immediately, informing Thousand Oaks voters of the dysfunction and corruption on the CVUSD school board and the urgent need to vote out Mike Dunn and John Andersen. We'll continue to send out cards like the ones pictured above throughout the summer and fall, including this week (see the calendar in this newsletter).
A Primary, A Protest,
A Stand Against Prejudice:
Why June 5 Is So Crucial
It's rare when a single date brings such a confluence of community-defining events as Thousand Oaks will experience on Tuesday, June 5. The enthusiasm and vigilance of Indivisible: Conejo activists will be critical to determining the day's outcomes, so we encourage you to vote, participate and make your voice heard!
That evening, we'll finally learn whether the T.O. City Council has the brains -- and the guts -- to fend off the anti-immigrant agitators who have tried to bully councils across California into opposing SB 54, our "sanctuary state" law. Caving in to their demands would achieve nothing, as a matter of policy -- the California Values Act will continue to be enforced, no matter what. But it would mark Thousand Oaks as a bigoted backwater, rather than an inclusive 21st-century community.
Meanwhile, one mile north of council chambers, we'll finally get to hear the community's response to the most recent misbehavior by the Conejo Valley USD board's extremist majority: a revision to the district's censorious new core-literature policy that made a bad idea even worse, and was railroaded toward passage on May 15 in a manner that clearly violated state law.
And while all THAT is happening around town, we'll learn the results of a primary election that will tell us a great deal about California's ability to lead a nationwide Blue Wave in November.
Please read on as we detail recent developments and preview the activism to come!
CA Primary: Control of Congress May Swing
on Dem Turnout in Key OC, SD Districts
From Memorial Day weekend through June 5, Get Out The Vote efforts will be in full force in the Conejo Valley and across California. Our ability to flip the House of Representatives, and then put the brakes on Trump's legislative agenda, may depend on the outcomes in a few crucial districts -- so we're encouraging Indivisible: Conejo activists to devote plenty of energy to phone banking and canvassing over the next 10 days.
Our partners at Swing Left are focused on three districts in Orange and San Diego counties -- CA-39, CA-48 & CA-49 -- where there is at least some danger that primary results will leave no Democrat on the November ballot. If Republicans don't have to worry about losing those districts, it's difficult to envision how Democrats will gain the 24 seats they need to win the House. Therefore, even as we track the fortunes of our favorite candidates for governor, the Senate and CA-25, we hope you'll take some time to help our progressive neighbors to the south -- whether it's on the ground or from the comfort of your own home!
Swing Left's virtual phone bank will hook you up with voters in 39, 48 & 49. You may log in anytime over the holiday weekend and next week. Indivisible: Conejo is organizing phone banks and postcard parties for next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, in affiliation with the Democratic Club of the Conejo Valley; see the calendar for details! Additionally, the two organizations are co-hosting a GOTV canvass/phone bank on Saturday, June 2, from noon-6 p.m., at the North Ranch Center in Westlake Village.
Camarillo Turns Away Anti-Immigrant Horde;
Has the Tide Turned?
On Wednesday, May 23, Camarillo's city council sat through over three hours of public comments before voting unanimously to take a "neutral" position toward SB 54. Activists from the Democratic Moms of Camarillo, along with Indivisible: Conejo and our partners in the newly formed Thousand Oaks Solidarity Coalition, dominated the audience and the speaker list during the meeting. By declining to follow the lead of Simi Valley, Santa Clarita and other conservative cities that had either passed resolutions opposing the law or joined Trump's lawsuit against it, Camarillo's elected officials showed their understanding of and respect for the respective powers of states, localities and the federal government. The city also recognized the truth in an argument that will be key to winning the debate in Thousand Oaks: that the city's civic ambitions would have been undermined by a vote that disrespected a majority of Californians, and particularly younger residents.
When the T.O. council meets June 5, the argument over SB 54 will largely drown out an agenda item that is much more important to the city: the proposed "downtown" development around the Civic Arts Plaza, whose design also will come up for a vote that evening. That new space, like the freshly approved apartments and condos breaking ground along Thousand Oaks Boulevard this year, are part of an effort to make the city more attractive to (and affordable for) young adults who these days choose other places to live as they take jobs at Amgen, Baxter and other firms. A vote to defy the state government on SB 54 would decimate the city's chances of attracting those young professionals.
While vehement immigration opponents (and Trump supporters) chose their initial targets well, descending first on city councils in towns with heavily Republican voter bases, their attempts to intimidate officials in Camarillo and Thousand Oaks have met with firmer resistance. Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean, despite his personal distaste for SB 54, has admitted that he is obligated to implement the law no matter what attitudes individual cities take toward it. Meanwhile, the professional staff at the City of Thousand Oaks has noted in responses to activists' emails that the city has no power to ignore the law, and more than one council member has encouraged SB 54 supporters to offset opponents' emails and meeting comments.
We encourage activists to do just that in advance of June 5, via the following contacts: 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 the Thousand Oaks Acorn here; to submit a letter to the Ventura County Star, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teachers, Students Plan Protest
Against CVUSD Core-Lit Policy
During its most recent meeting, CVUSD's far-right board majority doubled down on the misguided and First Amendment-unfriendly "opt-out" policy it instituted last fall. Its parental-warning regime for the high school literature curriculum had been undermined earlier thisyear, when the California Department of Education eliminated mature-content "caveats" that had underpinned those warnings. On May 15, however, trustee Sandee Everett (author of the initial policy) introduced amendments that arrogantly flout the CDE's desire to distance itself from her policy -- directing the district to create web pages that feature archived versions of the deleted caveats, and requiring teachers to continue marking supposedly "mature" books with asterisks on their course syllabi.
Everett also snuck a word into the policy's introductory language that lays bare her far-right agenda once and for all, while no doubt thrilling her base of supporters. The policy previously had listed reflecting "community standards" among its goals; last week she changed the wording to "community standards of decency" -- a phrase that carries no settled legal meaning but it is loaded with "moral" and ideological weight. Its inclusion clarifies that our district's core-lit policy is now a political (and even religious) document, not an educational one.
As putrid as the revised policy stands, the process by which Everett, Mike Dunn and John Andersen hammered it through the board was egregious and obviously illegal. The state's Brown Act requires that the public have access to policy proposals before an elected body can approve them; however, on May 15 Everett's revisions were unseen by Dr. Betsy Connolly, Pat Phelps, the press or the public before Everett introduced them during the meeting. Indeed, it was several days before the new language was available publicly. Everett, Dunn and Andersen have come under intense criticism for their behavior -- including from the Ventura County District Attorney. On Friday afternoon the DA's office, in response to numerous complaints, informed the board that it had violated the Brown Act ... but offered no more than a warning against future misbehavior.
Some of CVUSD's high school English teachers have been preparing protests before and during the board's June 5 meeting, and hope to include students. Indivisible: Conejo activists who do not plan to attend the City Council brouhaha are encouraged to participate in this meeting instead. In the meantime, we have launched a series of postcard parties devoted to informing local voters about the school board's dysfunction and encouraging them to vote out Dunn and Andersen this fall. (see photos in this newsletter)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
HELP INDIVISIBLE: CONEJO SPONSOR
CONEJO VALLEY PRIDE!
The inaugural Conejo Valley Pride event is coming up in September at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza -- and we need your help! Indivisible: Conejo and our LGBTQIA+ action team are "bundling" financial contributions from our activists so we can sponsor the event. By joining this effort, you can help CVP reach its fundraising goals while simultaneously helping us raise our profile in the community! Please use this form to pledge a contribution before Sunday, June 3. After that date, we'll let you know when, where and how to submit your donation so it counts as part of our sponsorship. Thanks!
Indivisible: Conejo Daily Actions,
5/12 - Citizenship Fair in Oxnard
5/15 - T.O. City Council & CVUSD Board meetings
5/16 - Oppose Gina Haspel's Nomination as CIA Director
5/21 - Sign Petition to End Gun Shows at Ventura Co. Fairgrounds
5/21 - Thousand Oaks Solidarity Coalition meeting
5/22 - Urge CA Legislators to Demand Police Transparency
5/22 - Flip the CVUSD Board Postcard Party
5/23 - Camarillo City Council Meeting re: SB 54