Indivisible: Conejo Winter Newsletter

Assemblymember Irwin's 'Courage Score'
Draws Calls for Accountability

Activists Invited to Question Legislator
About Her Voting Record During Event
In Westlake Village March 3

The voting record of our Assemblymember, Jacqui Irwin, is under fire across the 44th district thanks to last week’s publication of “Courage Scores” for state politicians. This week we’re encouraging activists to engage with Irwin’s staff -- and on Sunday, March 3, during a coffee in Westlake Village from 1-3 p.m., Indivisible: Conejo is offering you a chance to question Irwin herself about her votes and her political philosophy. Please RSVP! The address will be provided in your confirmation email.

Irwin’s “Courage Score” for 2018 was 47, earning her an “F” grade. The score is based on her votes on a range of bills important to progressives across the state, with some consideration given to our district’s voter-registration tilt. If you click the link, you’ll be able to access descriptions of those bills as well as her votes on each one.

For the first time in the four-year history of these scores, Indivisible (specifically our CA StateStrong organization) is co-sponsoring them along with the Courage Campaign and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. However, local Indivisible groups had no role in choosing the votes that would be counted in her score, or in assessing the “intangibles” of our district and her performance in the assembly. Many (though not all) leaders of Indivisible: Conejo believe Irwin’s score (and these Courage Scores in general) should be taken with a grain of salt, as they don’t provide a full picture of Irwin’s service to her constituents.

We are, however, quite concerned with Irwin’s 2018 record on several issues related to law enforcement and criminal justice, including police militarization and standards & accountability for the use of deadly force. We’re also particularly unhappy with her votes on a pair of bills concerning workplace harassment. More generally, we’re pushing back on Irwin’s tendencies to wait until the last moment to declare her intentions on important bills, and to abstain from voting at moments when we’d like to see her exhibit more … courage. (She has one of the highest abstention rates in the Assembly.)

When engaging as activists on these issues – either on the phone or next Sunday – we believe the best course is to be respectful but firm in our demand that Irwin pay more heed to her base of voters, while giving her credit where it’s due. (Her SB 54 vote in 2017 required a lot of deliberation, negotiation and guts. Her leadership on issues related to higher education is deeply appreciated — as was her enthusiastic participation in last year’s effort to restore good governance to the CVUSD Board, in the midst of her own reelection campaign. And her responses to the Borderline shooting and the Thomas and Woolsey fires have been impressive.)

As always, it’s essential to be forward-looking and specific in our “asks” of elected officials, so we encourage you to mention specific high-priority bills in 2019 on which you’d like Irwin to take votes that might be outside her comfort zone. Let’s make sure she understands that we have noticed her record to date — but that we’ll have her back if she begins acting more boldly and votes in support of progressive priorities more consistently.

Irwin's contact numbers are (916) 319-2044 (Sacramento); (805) 482-1904 (Camarillo); and (805) 483-4488 (Oxnard). Here's a sample script for your call:

"I’m a constituent of Assemblymember Irwin’s from ____________. I’m calling to express my concern about her voting record, as reflected in her recent 'Courage Score.' I’m unhappy with several of her votes last year, including [choose among those cited on the Courage Score website]. I’d like to see her strike a better balance between the priorities of her reliable voters and the preferences of her special-interest backers in law enforcement and agribusiness. I’ll be watching her votes in 2019 closely, on issues such as [choose among: restoring voting rights to parolees (ACA 6), expanding Medi-Cal benefits to undocumented immigrants (AB 4), and narrowing regulations for the use of deadly force by police (AB 392)]. Thank you!"

A Winter of Indivisible Activism

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Forum on Gun Violence brings substance to post-Borderline discussion

On Sunday, Feb. 3, Indivisible: Conejo co-sponsored A Forum on Gun Violence that featured numerous elected leaders (including Rep. Julia Brownley, Sen. Henry SternandASM Jacqui Irwin) discussing the potential for new gun-safety action on the federal, state and local levels. Susan Orfanos (pictured at top, with her husband Marc) made everyone present feel her loss and rage at her son Tel's death at the Borderline Bar & Grill in November. Thanks to all the students who led the discussion!

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January General Meeting Marks Transition to Indivisible on Offense!

Indivisible: Conejo's electrifying first general meeting of 2019, held on Jan. 13, introduced activists to the new Indivisible 2.0 guide as well as offering a primer on the new Indivisible States initiative. The meeting laid out goals and objectives for pushing the new House Democratic majority -- and our California legislative supermajorities -- to focus on progressive priorities for immigration, healthcare, and other issues. Activists also engaged enthusiastically in an open forum on new Thousand Oaks Mayor Rob McCoy, his fundamentalist American Renewal Project, and his efforts to weaken the separation of church and state.

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Conejo activists make presence felt at Women's Marches in L.A., Ventura

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Fighting to curb gun violence by candlelight, in council chambers

Student and adult activists alike, across Ventura County, have opened new fronts in the battle against America's gun violence epidemic. In December, Indivisible: Conejo and the Ventura County Brady Campaign marked the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Gun Violence with a candlelight vigil in Westlake Village, attended by a number of the students who led school walkouts and other actions throughout 2018. Throughout the winter, activists ramped up their pursuit of a ban on gun shows at the county fairgrounds in Ventura -- securing resolutions from the county Board of Supervisors in December, then from the Oxnard City Council in February.

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T.O. drives out Westboro's hate with love & support for LGBTQ students

On the morning of Feb. 11, protesters from the far-right Westboro Baptist Church descended on Thousand Oaks High School to spread their message of hate -- blaming our "permissive society" (and particularly LGBTQ residents) for the Borderline and Woolsey Fire tragedies. Indivisible: Conejo played a key role in organizing counter-demonstrations throughout the day, dismissing Westboro's hate with messages of love, support and community. A morning rally brought out more than 200 students and other community members; in the afternoon, public officials, the president of Cal Lutheran University, and even Mayor Rob McCoy(!) greeted T.O. High students on their way out of school.

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Indivisible: Conejo's Holiday Bash rings out a year of triumphs & tragedies, rings in a year of renewed hope in 2019