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Hindsight for 2020

US backed coups in Venezuela, ICE raids and new detention centers, teacher militancy and strikes in LA, Oakland, and in Sonoma, tenant strikes across the country – the list goes on. 2019 was a show of force for both capital and labor militancy. Across the country and here in Marin, DSA is in the middle of the fight.

In late 2018 we started our first meetings, and really ramped it up for 2019.

  • Our housing working group distributed $500 worth of goods directly to the homeless in Marin, and helped distribute more across North Bay.
  • We kicked off the Let’s Own PG&E campaign in Marin with canvassing, a rally, and phone banking, as part of a bay area wide campaign to own our utilities. 
  • Together with North Bay DSA we raised $1000 for abortion access (and we had bowling!)
  • We can’t win the fight against capital on our own. We are building relationships with organizations like Marin Organizing Committee, the Sunrise Movement Marin, SURJ Marin, Marin Young Democrats, Indivisible Sausalito, ICE out of Marin, ISOJI, North Bay Jobs with Justice, etc.
  • We are organizing tenants in two buildings, and together with housing activists across the county are laying the groundwork and connections for a Marin tenants’ union.
  • We’ve hosted education sessions on PG&E, political activism, and the Green New Deal, open to the general public .
  • Led a public discussion at the San Rafael library on political organizing.
  • Supported North Bay Jobs with Justice (and SEIU) to pass an accelerated minimum wage schedule in Novato.
  • We hosted a needlework class and created revolutionary gifts.
  • We provided strike support for the biomedical engineers at Marin General, standing on the sidewalk, getting honked at.
  • Supported Marin Organizing Committee in passing basic tenant protection rights in San Rafael.
  • Spoke at Larkspur city council meetings in support of tenant protection ordinances and urgent action to protect residents of Marin Park, a mobile home community.
  • Tabled at several farmers markets and College of Marin.
  • Had some good beer and stimulating conversations at our First Friday socials.
  • We did Anti-ICE support and flyering in the Canal alongside ICE out of Marin and Canal based organizations, and some of us were trained in Rapid Response and as dispatchers.
  • Hosted a screening of ¡Las Sandanistas! at the Museum of International Propaganda, to standing room only.
  • Two of our members represented the Marin branch at the DSA National Convention
  • Our housing working group organized mutual aid during the fall power shutdowns (PSPS BS!)
  • Got yelled at by local business leaders for standing up for workers.

At our first January meeting we’ll have a conversation about priorities for our work in 2020. A better world is possible.

Come build it with us.

Universal / Single Payer Healthcare

January 15, 2020 7pm – 9pm
199 Greenfield Ave, San Rafael

Recommended Reading:

Additional Reading:

PG&E fails at maintaining our energy grid – and disasters are the result

In 2019 our education working group lead a conversation about utilities and PG&E’s history. The following is the result of our research.

PG&E was aware in 2013 that the transmission towers of the Caribou-Palermo line needed extensive work – but delayed repairs for five years, until after a malfunction on this line sparked the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history. (The Mercury News, 2/27/19)

A federal investigation into the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion in 2010, which killed 8 people, found that PG&E had spent $83 million less on gas line maintenance than it was supposed to, ignored employee concerns about faulty equipment, and falsified safety records. (NYT 3/18/2019; NPR 10/14/2018) In 2016 PG&E was found guilty of six felony counts for the San Bruno explosion, including violating federal safety standards and obstructing federal investigators. (Mercury News, 8/9/2016)

An investigation by CAL FIRE concluded that PG&E’s poor maintenance of its power lines caused the 2015 Butte Fire, which burned more than 70,000 acres, destroyed more than 500 homes, and killed two people. (Sacramento Bee, 4/28/2016)

In 1997 PG&E was convicted of 739 counts of criminal negligence for failing to trim vegetation in accordance with safety regulations, which started the Trauner fire in 1994 and was responsible for numerous other fires in the 1990s. (SFGate, 6/20/1997)

PG&E encouraged its vegetation management contractors to cut fewer trees to save money in rural areas, and cut tree safety patrols by 25% in 2013. (NBC Bay Area 9/8/2017)

So what did PG&E do with your money instead of spending it on critical maintenance?

An investigation by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) after the Trauner Fire in 1994 found that between 1987 and 1994, PG&E diverted $495 million from its maintenance budget to boost corporate profits. (Salon 10/9/2019)

According to the CPUC, prior to the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion PG&E diverted $100 million from gas safety and operations to pay dividends to its stockholders and bonuses to its executives. (SFGate 1/13/2012)

Since 2000, PG&E has spent more than $160 million on political lobbying to influence California politicians, including more than $2 million this year alone – after declaring bankruptcy! (LA Times 9/13/2019, Sacramento Bee 11/4/2019)

PG&E paid its stockholders billions of dollars in dividends over the past decade, including $798 million in 2017 and $925 million in 2016. (Reuters, 4/2/2019)

PG&E has taken your money, and instead of performing crucial maintenance they’ve boosted their own profits, paid off their shareholders, and given big bonuses to their executives. The results have been fires, explosions, and power outages that have killed dozens of Californians and caused billions of dollars in damage. Now they’re bankrupt, and hoping that Sacramento and hedge fund investors will bail them out.

Let’s put people before profits. It’s time for the public to control our own energy grid and stop our money from being used to line the pockets of PG&E’s executives and investors.

Green Capitalism, Power, & Our Utilities

Can Capitalism be green? Can our utilities work for us if they’re for profit? PG&E has shown itself to be completely unable to run a public utility, where do we go from here?

Recommend Reading:

Additional Reading List:

Novato $15/hr Accelerated Minimum Wage Endorsement

Whereas, The city of Novato has not set a local minimum wage while the actual costs of living in Novato have continued to rise; and

Whereas, In the wealthiest county in the state of California, full-time workers continue to earn poverty-level wages, putting their children and themselves at a lifestyle risk for health and education concerns, including, but not limited to, poor nutrition, unsafe or inadequate housing, lack of access to medical aid when needed, and challenges to children’s learning abilities and therefore to their success in school; and

Whereas. Studies show an increase in the minimum wage corresponds with an increase in jobs and has little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum wage workers, irrespective to the strengths or weakness of the economy, and that an increase in the minimum wage will generate revenue in the form of consumer spending, adding a stimulus to the local economy; and

Whereas, Many leading economists have supported a $15 minimum wage, basing their support on sound research; and

Whereas, Municipalities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Petaluma, and the city of Sonoma have voted for $15 dollars per hour as the minimum wage:

Resolved, that the Marin branch of the Democratic Socialists of America support an increase of the local minimum wage to AT LEAST $15 per hour, or to the point where full time employment can constitute a living wage; and

Resolved, that the Marin branch of the Democratic Socialists of America support an annual increase of the minimum wage based on the percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers; and

Resolved, that the Marin branch of the Democratic Socialists of America strongly encourages the Novato City Council to vote Yes on a local $15 minimum wage on an accelerated schedule.

Endorse AB-857

As democratic socialists we support local and worker control over our community’s finances, and financial decision making. Worker and customer owned banks – credit unions – are an important part of our democractic financial landscapes, but have serious limitations for municipal finances.

By banking with private banks cities in Marin County support socially and environmentally disastrous practices. Among other things, these banks support predatory lending practices for low-income communities of color, finance fossil fuels, and support private prisons. Our investments are fundamentally against the values held by Marin residents.

With municipal public banks our cities will have more local control, transparency, and self-determination. They enable sustainable community investments such as affordable housing, loans to low-income households, student loans, small business cultivation, community-based financial institutions, renewable energy, public transit infrastructure, public education infrastructure, and healthcare infrastructure.

Our tax dollars and public assets currently serve the interests of big banks and Wall Street. It is time to let our communities decide how and what we fund.

The Marin branch of the Democractic Socialists of America supports the creation and implementation of a Municipal Bank that supports Marin County, optionally working together with other cities in the Bay Area. We endorse AB-857 and encourage residents of Marin and our local elected officials to endorse and support the bill.