The text below is what Madeline Bishop presented to the Thurston County Commissioners on February 25, 2020. You can also watch a video of her presentation.
I’m Madeline Bishop from Unincorporated Thurston County.
I’m asking you for a favor. I want you to take every opportunity to spread the truth about our unhoused population.
Recently a hate group came into our area working to weaponize homelessness in a campaign of lies, hate, and fear. In their view, the layabouts in our tent cities don’t need public investments in affordable housing and social services. They just need a little tough love: Enforce the vagrancy laws, bulldoze their encampments and lock them up.
Contrary to this ignorant hateful narrative, nearly half of adult homeless people are employed in full- or part-time work.
The truth is, if you are making minimum wage or living on Social Security or SSI benefits, you cannot find affordable housing. As long as incomes fail to keep up with the cost of living, we will have increasing homelessness.
I’m asking you to increase the effort to educate people about the demographics of the homeless in Thurston County. The Housing Projects Data Report for the 3rd quarter of 2019 reports that 8 percent of Thurston homeless are fleeing domestic violence. I’d say these victims have had enough “tough love.” The 5 percent of Thurston County homeless who are veterans are dishonored when they are labeled as deviants. The 22 percent who are homeless children do not deserve to have the jackboots come along and destroy their meager belongings. We have people with physical and mental disabilities who are cold, wet and hungry. I say we have made them uncomfortable enough.
For the reported 19 percent of Thurston County homeless with substance abuse problems, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said “It’s cheaper to help people than it is to punish them. Frankly, if prosecuting people who had a drug addiction worked, we wouldn’t have a drug problem today.”
A diverse group of people are being labeled and ostracized as dirty, deviant lawbreakers. When we stereotype people as ‘others’, we distance ourselves from them and their humanity.
Please speak the truth as often as you can about our unsheltered neighbors. Educate, lobby and challenge those who demonize the homeless.
Gould, Elise. “State of Working America Wages 2019”, Economic Policy Institute, 20 February 2020.
Thurston County. “HMIS Housing Projects Data Report 2019-Q3”, Office of Housing & Homeless Prevention, July - September 2019.
Scott,Gee & Reutin,Ursula. “King County Prosecutor: Jail time not the solution to homelessness, drug addiction”, MyNorthwest,13 February 2020.
Hanauer, Nick. “Trickle-Downers Created the Homelessness Crisis. Now They Want You to Believe They Can ‘Solve’ It.” The Nation, 20 February 2020.
Thurston County. “Thurston County Homeless Crisis Response Plan”, 31 October 2019.
WA State Department of Commerce Homeless Assistance, “Why is homelessness increasing?”, January 2017.
The word democracy implies fairness. When we examine current practices around voting in our country, fairness is not apparent in all cases. I am going to leave the “how” it works to a video: Ranked-choice voting in Minneapolis. The “Why” it works is that it adds fairness to the process.
One way to promote RCV would be to implement it in our internal Olympia Indivisible voting for candidates to endorse. To this end the Endorsement team will become knowledgeable in the “how” and make recommendations to the Steering Committee regarding implementation.
Cookies and Conversation Event:
Here are some talking points from Fair Vote Washington:
Major Benefits of Ranked Choice Voting
More Options on Your Ballot
Vote for Who You Really Want
President Trump ordered a killing, which was executed. He is bragging about it. Below are two pieces, one from Indivisible National and one from an OI member with actions you can take right now.
Late last night, Trump ordered the assassination of a top commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Major General Qassim Suleimani (see The New York Times report here), with no authorization from Congress. Along with the Major General, the drone strike killed four others, not all of whom have yet been named.
What do I need to know?· Trump ordered a drone strike outside Baghdad’s international airport last night that killed a powerful foreign military leader. Any assassination is a big deal, but by way of context, in the US, this would be something like a foreign government assassinating the Vice President outside the Toronto airport.
· Trump is taking us to unnecessary war. When Trump entered office in 2016, he inherited one of the best chances we’ve had in decades for peaceful relations with Iran. Three years later, with a cabinet full of warmongers, he’s now assassinating Iranian leaders. (Read more from our partners at Win Without War here).
· This wasn’t a defensive action. The idea that this strike will prevent future attacks on Americans and our interests around the world defies logic. It. Will. Not. If anything, our risk just went up tenfold (Senator Chris Murphy gets it right in this tweet). The same voices who sold the disastrous Iraq War will have hot takes about how this was a critical defensive action in the coming days -- don’t be fooled.
· This is possible because Congress let it happen. Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says, "Congress shall have power to ... declare War." But Congress has ceded authority over the military to the Executive Branch. That’s why for years we’ve been calling on Congress to reassert its constitutional authority, and why we’ll continue to do so.
With nothing more than an empty statement from the Pentagon and a (bonkers) tweet of an American flag, Trump is transparently and unequivocally gambling with the safety of the American people and pulling us to the brink of war with Iran. And we don’t even know why he did it -- unless this tweet he sent in 2011 about Obama offers a little clue.
What can I do right now? Though they don’t always act like it, Congress is a co-equal branch of government that holds tremendous power to check Trump’s recklessness. So they must step in immediately. This situation will evolve over the next few days, but right now the most important thing every Member of Congress can do is to clearly and unequivocally state that they condemn this strike and are opposed to war with Iran. We can’t overstate how critical this is. We are on the precipice of war, and Congress is perhaps our only hope of stopping it.
Click here right now to call your Members of Congress and tell them to do everything in their power to rein in Trump’s catastrophic escalation.
We’ll keep you updated as news develops and congressional asks become more clear.
This movement began to stop the Trump agenda -- this is what we’re here for. We’re proud to be indivisible with all of you.
From an OI member:
The U.S. Constitution says ONLY CONGRESS can declare war. Last night Trump violated the Constitution by starting a war against Iran. See the information below. Tell Congress to:
· Obey the Constitution and hold Trump accountable by writing a new Article of Impeachment about this.
· Use the 1973 War Powers Resolution to STOP Trump’s war against Iran
The U.S. has conducted dozens of wars for many decades, but the last time Congress actually declared war was for World War II. What’s different now is that Trump is a sociopath who has spent three years acting like a “strong man” dictator, and many psychologists and psychiatrists are saying his mental illnesses and mental functioning are deteriorating even further. More than any other president, Trump shows utter contempt for the rule of law and the Constitution. His new war against Iran is just the latest example of his escalating abuses.
Congress has been failing to hold Trump accountable for his many crimes and his many violations of the Constitution. Trump has seen Congress’s timidity as permission to escalate. The two articles of impeachment are only the tip of the iceberg. We need more articles of impeachment about his unconstitutional war against Iran and other serious crimes and constitutional violations.
· Sign the petition below
· Phone Representative Denny Heck (Washington DC: 202-225-9740, and Lacey WA: 360-459-8514)
· Phone Senator Patty Murray (202-224-2621, and press 3 to leave your message)
· Phone Senator Maria Cantwell (202-224-3441)
· Phone House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (202-225-4965)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Just Foreign Policy
Sent: Friday, January 03, 2020 7:40 AM
Subject: Congress: Force a War Powers Vote to Stop Trump's War on Iran
Urge Members of Congress to invoke the War Powers Resolution to block an illegal war against Iran
Sign the petition
In violation of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, Trump has assassinated Iran’s top military official while he was in Iraq (he was a national hero to Iranians for reportedly leading the fight against ISIS -- polls indicated he was Iran’s most popular figure). As a result of this action, conflict with Iran is now expected to escalate further.
Congress never authorized this act of war, which Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called a “dangerous escalation” that “brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East.” In October 2002, Congress authorized military action against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, acting on the Bush Administration’s false claim that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction to attack the United States. In 2014, the Obama Administration sent U.S. forces back to Iraq to fight ISIS, claiming this was authorized by the 2001 AUMF passed by Congress against Al Qaeda after the September 11 attacks. But Congress has never authorized the use of military force against Iran, making this action by Trump illegal and unconstitutional.
Under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, any Member of the House or Senator can introduce a “privileged” resolution that requires their chamber to take a vote on the removal of U.S. forces from hostilities that Congress has not authorized.
This is how we forced Congress to vote on unauthorized U.S. participation in the Saudi war in Yemen, even though both Republican and Democratic Leadership didn’t want Congress to vote on it. It was exactly in anticipation of this situation – when the President is conducting an unauthorized war, and the Congressional leadership doesn’t want Congress to vote on it – that Congress in 1973 added this provision to allow any Member of Congress to force a vote on an unauthorized war. As Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar said: “Real question is, will those with congressional authority step in and stop him? I know I will.”
It’s not too late to stop this escalation. But Members of Congress need to act now. Urge your Representative and Senators to invoke the War Powers Resolution to force floor votes on stopping unauthorized war with Iran.
Please SIGN our petition and RETWEET the petition on Twitter.
(each time you retweet it, staff working for the 4 Democratic leaders included in the tweet receive a notification).
Thank you for all you do to make U.S. foreign policy more just,
Erik, Sarah, and the Just Foreign Policy Team
If you think our work is important, please make a donation to support it.
Since January 2017, Olympia Indivisible has been regularly sending a delegation of its members to meet with regional staffers of our Members of Congress in CD-10. Here are notes from that team's most recent visit to Rep. Denny Heck.
Olympia Indivisible Agenda and Responses
December 19, 2019
Congressman Denny Heck’s Office
Phil Gardner, District Director, Dallas Roberts, District Representative
For service in Congress and especially on the Intel committee during the impeachment inquiry.
For getting H.R. 1595 – Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act passed.
Maybe thank you for the passage of the USMCA / US, Mexico, Canada Agreement, but we just don’t believe it’s the best deal the Dems could have gotten.
We are happy that the House has passed Articles of Impeachment, but believe there are multiple reasons to not forward them to the Senate.
The Afghan War Papers: we want Congress to open investigations into the fraud, waste and abuse that has gone on for 18 years in the Afghan War, probably also in the Iraq War, undoubtedly also in Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya. It is probably reasonable to assume that it happens at every US military facility in the world and has for decades. What is Congress doing about it, besides giving the DoD $738 billion dollars?
Response: Phil doesn’t know Rep. Heck’s position on this yet, but he will convey our request. He also said the amount of information members of Congress had on this before the disclosure would vary by member. For example, members of the Armed Services Committee undoubtedly know some of this already.
NDAA gives the DoD $738 billion. Why? The Dems are claiming it’s “progressive” because the military has to do more to investigate sexual assault and now moving expenses are tax deductible, but really, millions of Americans do not have housing, what are we doing about that?
S. 1790: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, on Dec. 11, 2019, the House passes the bill 377 to 48, but Rep. Heck is not one of the brave ones who voted no.
Even the CATO Institute hates it because of the cost, and when progressives agree with CATO, something is terribly wrong.
Fun fact: the bill is 3488 pages in PDF form.
Response: Rep. Heck voted “no” on the original NDAA, but “yes”on the final draft. Phil also said that the size of the budgets are set early on in the committees and members are given a binary choice to support or oppose. Denny has a statement on his website specifically addressing those parts of the bill that he promoted.
What is Congress going to do about DHS and ICE preventing doctors from giving free flu shots to detainees and border facilities? In the past year at least three people have died from the flu in those facilities. What is the House doing? They passed the USMCA without doing anything for the detainees and refugees at the border.
Response: Phil said he will discuss this issue with Rep. Heck.
Why were 3 ACA taxes repealed in the appropriations bill that just passed. We know that the taxes had been suspended, but why couldn’t they could have been restored?
Response: This was forced to get the budget passed so they could show movement in the House and counter the arguments that the Democrats are focusing only on impeachment.
H.R.4540 Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act, is Rep. Neal’s bill to correct the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provisions; it has 79 cosponsors, only 2 GOP and 2 Dems from WA state, but Rep. Heck is not one of them. This is disappointing, because Emily Kolano, from the DC office told me Denny supported this bill rather than H.R.141, so why is he not a cosponsor, especially given that H.R.141 currently has 235 cosponsors including 55 GOP. It would seem that H.R141 has a better chance of passing, but if Rep Heck thinks Neal’s bill is superior why is he not a cosponsor?
Response: Emily Kolano, in Rep Heck’s DC office is still working with Rep. Neal’s office on this issue. (I should also say that Emily was generous enough to give about 20 minutes of her time in a phone conversation with me about this.)
In our last meeting you told us that Rep. Heck sent (or signed on to) a letter opposing the policy changes to SNAP.
On Dec 6th, H.R.5349 Protect SNAP Act was introduced “to prevent the changing of regulations governing the provision of waivers under the supplemental nutrition assistance program, and for other purposes.” It already has 105 cosponsors, can we count on Rep. Heck adding his name?
Response: Dallas spoke to Emily about this issue; it has not yet come across Rep Heck’s desk, but he will likely support it.
In an interview with Foreign Policy, General Mazloum Abdi of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces called on Trump to enforce the Oct. 17 agreement negotiated by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to end Turkey’s violent incursion into northeastern Syria that began in Oct. What is Congress doing to protect the Kurds who have been our most reliable ally in the region for the past 18 years?
Also the concerns about ISIS prisoners being held by the Kurds has vanished from the news, but the problem has not vanished. What is Congress doing about this?
Response: Congress passed sanctions against Turkey, but Trump hasn’t signed the authorization.
H.R.2214 NO BAN Act – National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act
This bill limits the President's authority to suspend or restrict aliens from entering the United States and terminates certain presidential actions implementing such restrictions.
This bill now has 206 cosponsor, 6 democrats from WA, but still not Denny, Why not?
Response: This is in queue to come across Denny’s desk.
H.R.2302 provides a more realistic and rational way to calculate cost of living adjustments and repeals the cap on income subject to Social Security taxation. Why hasn’t Rep. Heck signed onto these bills and does he support them?
Response: Rep. Heck supports H.R. 860: Social Security 2100 Act, sponsored by John Larson and is also in favor of H.R.2302 - Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, sponsored by Ted Deutch.
Phil also informed us that H.R. 3: Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, passed the House last week, though it looks different than the original bill. The costs of at least 50 drugs will go down and it will extend Medicare to cover ears, eyes and mouth.
Many Olympia Indivisible members have joined or donated items to the homeless advocacy and outreach group based in Yelm, WA named “Love Abounds Here”. We appreciate the help and would like to share our founding principles.
We recognize our homeless neighbors as the people they are. We get to know them. We serve them out of the back of our cars with things they need like clothes, shoes, blankets, hygiene items, sleeping bags, tents, tarps, food, pans and silverware. We advocate for them with the government and with other service organizations. We strive for a future where we can provide local services for them such as emergency warmth shelter, shower and toilet access and connection to Thurston County support services.
Some examples of the people using our help:
A single woman alone in the rain with nothing but the clothes on her back and a cart that only had cardboard in it. She cried as she shopped for little sewing kits, sweater, coat, gloves, a hat, socks, food, tarp, tent, blankets, plastic poncho and a cooking pot.
A 70-year old man and his two little dogs who are living in a car with a broken window. He is seeking a room to rent in Yelm that he can afford with his limited Social Security income.
A father with two children living in his car who works full-time yet lacks the funds to come up with housing deposit and rent money while paying for daycare and food.
Our neighbors are facing a housing crisis because incomes are not keeping pace with the cost of housing. The Thurston County Housing Crisis Response Plan states:
“In Thurston County the primary factors that cause a person to experience homelessness are largely situations are out of an individual’s or family’s control. The 2019 Point In Time(PIT) Census discovered domestic violence, mental illness, family rejection and physical disability make up 52% of the reasons census takers identified as causes for homelessness. Substance use is often anecdotally identified as the leading cause of homelessness, yet according to the PIT census identifies only 10% of those experiencing homelessness identify substance use as the cause. It is important to note that any one circumstance does not alone cause a person to fall into homelessness but rather a combination of factors almost always partnered with poverty”
If you are interested in hearing more, please join our Facebook group Love Abounds Here . Thank you again for your donations. Madeline Bishop