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Newsletter #5

Friday, May 5, 2017

PEG is a non-partisan volunteer organization whose mission is to assure that our government will treat all Americans with equality and acceptance.

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Together we can change this.

25 weeks down, 79 weeks to mid-term elections. Stay strong!
 

PEG’s First Action Circle Meetings Took Place April 30th
 

The Redistricting/ Gerrymandering Action Circle had a great first meeting. Our Google group is now set up. We left our first meeting with the goal of getting educated on the various groups working on this effort, the language being looked at for potential ballot initiatives, and what is out in the media presently. Our next steps will be to review this information so the team can determine our preferred path. The group generally agrees that the first step will likely be to help educate the public, and potentially to align with other activist groups working on this effort.

 

With the official launch of its Action Circles, the ACLU Action Circle formed to support the ACLU and People Power. ACLU of Michigan lists a number of important issues as their focus, so there will an abundance of challenges to work on in support of the ACLU: Free Speech, Due Process, Racial Justice, LGBT Rights, Women’s Rights, Voting Rights, Privacy & Technology, Reproductive Freedom, Criminal Justice, Immigrant Rights, Search & Seizure, Student Rights, Drug Policy, Religious Liberty, Workplace Rights, Safe & Free. Click here for a fuller report of the ACLU AC meeting.

 

The Environmental Action Circle spent the first part of its meeting in further discussion with the day’s speaker, Lisa Wozniak. Members then introduced themselves, and their interest in environmental issues. Michigan LCV Liaison Janis Bobrin reviewed her role, and showed the group the MLCV website, with many suggested ways to get involved. It was agreed that Facilitator Dylan Goings will send out an email to all within a week

 

The Immigration Rights Action Circle discussed groups that are good resources for actions and for information, areas of interest to the AC, and how they will share ideas and any contacts that members feel would be helpful. Click here for a fuller report of the Immigration Rights AC meeting.

 

Actions You Can Take Now and
Events You Should Know About

May 4 - Planned Parenthood Lansing Activist Night

All are welcome. No RSVP required. Meetings are bi-weekly through summer, and will resume their weekly schedule on September 7. There will be additional events and volunteer opportunities announced.
Activist meetings will consist of event planning, occasional training, and some administrative tasks as necessary. Snacks provided. Children welcome, but child care is not available. Any event changes (time, location, cancellation, etc.) will be posted by 3pm on event day.

PPAM Office 115 West Allegan St Suite 500, Lansing, MI 48933, 6–7:15 pm.

Click here to learn more.

May 4 - Local ACLU Blues Night. Free!

Welcome to a social and membership engagement event. A great chance to meet and mingle with ACLU staff, volunteers and supporters. Everyone is welcome for memorable verbal exchanges, laughter, music, dancing and foot-stomping fun, plus complimentary appetizers while supplies last. The Raven Lounge ( Michigan's Oldest Blues Social Club) 5145 Chene St, Detroit 48211

Social Period, 6–8 pm. Live Music starts 8:30 pm.
You can RSVP to the Facebook event here.


May 7 - Michigan United/Michigan People’s Campaign, a statewide direct-action and social justice organization is having a Direct Action Training and Dismantling Structuring Oppression program at Temple Beth Emeth/St. Clare’s Episcopal, 2309 Packard Rd., Ann Arbor. noon-6 pm. Click here for more information.


May 9 - Planned Parenthood of Michigan's educational/networking event on Gerrymandering.

Join volunteers of the Planned Parenthood Electoral Reform Committee for an evening of drinks and discussion on gerrymandering! A speaker will explain how manipulating district boundaries can swing your vote in one party's favor, and ways in which you can pitch in to end this unfair advantage!

Planned Parenthood will be accepting new volunteers and cash donations ($10 suggested) at this event! All proceeds will go fully to Planned Parenthood.

Registration link: http://bit.ly/deMOCKracy

PS: Shoutout to Ann Arbor Distilling Company for generously donating their space to our cause! Event will take place in a covered, outdoor space. Cash bar will be available and light snacks will be provided.

Click here for more details and to RSVP.


May 15 - Coffee Hour for 52nd House District State Representative Donna Lasinski

Dexter District Library Meeting Room, 3255 Alpine St., Dexter 48130. Monday, 6–7 pm


May 21 - PEG Speaker Series

Steve Mustapha Elturk, Imam and President of the Islamic Organization of North America, IONA, will speak on "Islamophobia: The Real Threat," detailing how the government's actions are affecting Muslims in America and the assault on the basic human rights of  American citizens, residents and visitors of the Muslim faith in this country.

Following Steve Mustapha Elturk’s talk, eight PEG Action Circles will meet, focusing on the following issues and organizations: ACLU; Gerrymandering and Redistricting; Voting Rights and Fair Elections; Planned Parenthood; Freedom of Press; Immigrant Rights; Southern Poverty Law Center; and Environmental Issues.

Morris Hall in the Pittsfield Township Administrative Building, 6201 West Michigan Ave., Ann Arbor, 3 pm.

June 25 - PEG Speaker Series. Washtenaw County Sheriff Clayton will speak on "Immigration-related Enforcement Issues in Washtenaw County." Sheriff Clayton is nationally recognized for contributions in this area and has done briefings in Washington D.C. The meeting will be held at Morris Hall in the Pittsfield Township Administrative Building, 6201 West Michigan Ave., Ann Arbor

Things to do at Any Time

Here's the weekly Action Checklist from Jen Hoffman’s Americans of Conscience. Want to learn more about Jen Hofmann’s group? Go to Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience.

Use this new tool to make your calling easier.

Whether you're shy, busy, or just get full voicemails, the Stance app can help.

Stance will provide the correct phone numbers and automatically leaves a message after hours and keeps calling until it succeeds. You can record a message with Americans of Conscience’s scripts or your own to your elected officials.


What to do if your Members of Congress (MoC) are Democrats.

Call them. Praise them. Give them stories they can use to support great legislation. Calling MoCs who agree with you tells them you're paying attention. It also keeps their lines from being full of opposition messages.


Advocate for student loan borrower protections. (Hat tip to Rogan’s List.)

131 MoCs support protections for student loan borrowers. Betsy DeVos does not support this.

Write: Betsy DeVos, U.S. Dept. of Ed., 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202

Script: “With 1 in 4 student loan borrowers in default or delinquent on federal student loans, you need to address the sources of the student debt crisis. Please reverse your decision, reinstate protections, and support American growth.”


Advocate for a special commission to investigate President Trump’s Russia ties.

Newly-confirmed Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein can approve a special prosecutor or commission, but has previously hedged on this action. Speak up.

Call: Dept. of Justice comment line (202) 353-1555
Postcard: USDoJ, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001

Script: “I am among the 58% of Americans who want an independent commission to investigate Trump-Russia ties. Trust in the current investigations is compromised, and the Attorney General’s credibility is tarnished. Only an independent commission or special prosecutor will restore confidence.”


Oppose using National Monuments for resource extraction and mining.

Call: Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior (202) 208-7351.

Script: “Hi. I’m calling to oppose Trump’s executive order. (Mention any NMs in your state and) Bear’s Ears NM is (are) a treasure. National monuments are protected, citizen-owned land, and I oppose efforts to extract resources from them.”

Engage in Acts of Gratitude

Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers or fire up your computer for some gratitude mail.

Thank Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for his leadership and integrity in calling attention to Scott Pruitt’s apparent violation of the Hatch Act.

Address: 170 Westminster St # 1100, Providence, RI 02903


Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for speaking out in support for the rule of law and against President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. Immigrants’ rights are human rights.

Address: 90 State House Square, Hartford, CT 06103


Thank Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (SC), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Marco Rubio (FL), and House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI) for their commitment to keeping the US government from shutting down, regardless of whether the temporary spending bill includes funding for building the wall with Mexico. Paul Ryan made clear last weekend that his top priority is to keep the government open. Marco Rubio is quoted: “We’re just trying to finish out the current cycle, the current budget year. And so I think that’s a fight worth having and a conversation and a debate worth having for 2018."

    Jeff Flake (202) 224-4521, https://www.flake.senate.gov/public/

    Lindsey Graham (202) 224-5972, https://www.lgraham.senate.gov/public/

    Marco Rubio (202) 224-3041, https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/

    Paul Ryan (202) 225-3031, https://paulryan.house.gov


Thank Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz (UT), Chair of the House Oversight Committee, for demanding that the White House turn over documents about Flynn’s Russian connections to the Committee. The White House is refusing to turn over the documents. Chaffetz has said that Flynn may have broken the law by failing to disclose his Russian business connections and by inappropriately accepting money from Russia.

Jason Chaffetz (202) 225-7751, https://chaffetz.house.gov


Thank Republican Senator Rand Paul (KY) for introducing a bipartisan bill, along with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden ( that would ban border agents from searching phones or laptops without a warrant. NBC News reports that an alarming number of U.S. citizens are being forced by border agents to give up their passwords, cell phones, and laptops to be searched at the border – all without a warrant.

Rand Paul (202) 224-4343, https://www.paul.senate.gov


Remember, if you can’t get through to their Washington DC offices, try their state offices (info on their websites)

Enjoy Some Good News

  • President Trump’s attempt to penalize sanctuary cities fails.

  • A down payment for President Trump’s wall was removed from spending bill.

  • Although the GOP planned to exempt themselves from a health care provision, they turned tail when the media reported on it.

  • EPA chief Scott Pruitt backed out of GOP fundraiser because it was illegal.

  • At least 30 states are proposing bills for Automatic Voter Registration.

  • Nevada just voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

  • The right to peacefully assemble wins in North Carolina.

  • Over 200,000 people marched for climate (plus 375 sister marches worldwide).

  • Americans are accompanying immigrants to ICE hearings for support.

  • Hundreds march in support of local immigrants in Connecticut.

  • When bipartisanship works to do good, it’s worth a standing ovation (video).

  • After making a victim-blaming comment about men in tutus, a senator apologizes—and a town in Wyoming dresses up in support of their tutu-wearing neighbor..

Even more good news at Peace is Loud.

Interesting Reading, Viewing, Listening

Among likely candidates for governor, who can unite our divided state

Get to know them. They want to be leading our state 18 months from now.

 

Dan Kildee (D) Michigan's 5th District congressman since 2013

Bill Schuette (R) Michigan's Attorney General, incumbent in his second and final term.

Gretchen Whitmer (D) Elected to the state House of Representatives in 2000 and the state Senate in 2006. Unanimously elected Senate Minority Leader, the first woman to hold the position. Appointed Ingham County Prosecutor.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley seems poised to jump into the gubernatorial race having just launched a new website with an advertised big announcement at the end of May.

Abdul Al-Sayed, the young doctor and former Detroit Health Commissioner, has announced his intentions to run for governor as a Democrat.

Click here to learn more.
 

Bipartisan spending agreement reached averting government shutdown (until September).

Washington Post article calls out some of the more notable and controversial elements of 1,600 page bill, alphabetically from Airport Security and Amtrack to Visas and Wildfires. It included $12.5 billion in new military spending and $1.5 billion more for border security, a major priority for Republican leaders in Congress. Two minute video shows these Democratic wins: limitations blocking border wall construction, energy/science research funding going up esp for medical, EPA trimmed 1% without staff cuts, Planned Parenthood will continue to be funded, $61 million to reimburse local law enforcement that protect Trump during visits to his personal residences. Click here to learn more.

The alleged mastermind behind a Canadian maple syrup heist has been sentenced to eight years in prison with a $9.4 million fine. We envy what the rest of the continent is reading as their front-page news these days. [CBC]

 

What is it about Rev. Jerry Wright which inflamed the media so much more than any other blow-hard? 9 years and this article add perspective to the controversy happening just 7 months before Obama became the first black president. From The Atlantic. Click here to learn more.

 

Now we finally know how bad voter fraud is in North Carolina

A North Carolina audit found that of the 4,769,640 votes cast in November, only 1 would probably have been tossed out as a fraudulent vote under the voter ID law the state passed in 2013. The law was struck down by a federal court, which found it clearly targeted black voters. From The Charlotte Observer. Click here to learn more.

 

Mexico Worries That A New Border Wall Will Worsen Flooding

A wall along the Mexican border would have immense consequences, not the least of which has to do with the flows of water across the arid border. That’s such a fraught and essential element of U.S.-Mexico relations that we’ve had the International Boundary and Water Commission for the past 128 years to hash it all out. If the President’s proposed border wall ever become a reality, it could violate the 47-year-old treaty that divvies up the Rio Grande. From NPR. Click here to learn more.

 

Ann Arbor City Council unanimously reaffirms its position on immigration enforcement. Two of the Councilmembers who sponsored the resolution acknowledged local advocacy efforts and mentioned ACLU's input as having been helpful in the attempt to spell out Ann Arbor's policies. The resolution follows up the "Don't Ask" ordinance passed on April 17 regarding immigration status. Resolution linked here:

 

Koch Industries and other corporations lobbied for president’s cabinet picks, filings show. $3.1 million Lobbying expenditures in the first three months of the year from Koch Industries, which weighed in on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan as well as President Trump’s nominees in their Senate confirmation processes. From The Intercept. Click here to learn more.

 

20 lessons from across the fearful 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today. Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. From Timothy Snyder, Yale history professor, historian of Eastern Europe and Holocaust expert. Click here to learn more.

 

How will the president’s party do in the midterm elections?

Presidential approval is not a great measure of this more immediate electoral issue. Keep one eye on the approval rating, but keep the other on the generic congressional ballot. From FiveThirtyEight. Click here to learn more.

Protectors of Equality in Government (PEG) has endorsed 11 organizations. A short description of and a link to each organization can be found on the PEG website: http://www.equalityingov.org/endorsed-organizations/

Please check out the list and choose those of interest to you for action.

Let Us Hear From You

To contact us via email, click here info@equalityingov.org. To follow us on facebook, click here. To be on PEG’s contact list, click here. Please forward this newsletter to others you think might be interested in being part of the effort to maintain equality and acceptance in our government.

We are constantly seeking ways to improve this newsletter and make it more useful for you, so we welcome letters to the editorial team and will print them as space permits. We reserve the right to edit for space, clarity, civility and accuracy, and we will send you the edited version before publication. For suggestions regarding length, content, and similar criteria, please refer to the New York Times’ general recommendations for letters: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/23/opinion/23READ.html?_r=0
 

Willing to Help in the Fight?

 

We need your help building PEG. Click here to see see a list of volunteer opportunities. If you might be willing to be a PEG volunteer or to learn more, email info@equalityingov.org and put “VOLUNTEER” in the email subject line.
 

For more information regarding Protectors of Equality in Government, go to www.equalityingov.org


To contact us via email, click here info@equalityingov.org. To follow us on facebook, click here. To be on PEG’s contact list, click here. Please forward this newsletter to others you think might be interested in being part of the effort to maintain equality and acceptance in our government.

Thanks to Richard Gaeth, Vicki Patraka, Jen Hoffman, Susan Burwen, Bernie Banet, Ginny Morgan, Manya Grant, Rebecca Mackey, and Susan Ayer for their help preparing this newsletter. Write us at info@equalityingov.org if you would like to learn how you can help create our weekly newsletter. It’s fun and no ongoing commitment is required.

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