It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that gun violence has touched the home of IKC founder and President, Emily Riegel. Yesterday morning, her husband Tom was murdered by an individual with a gun on their front stoop in Brookside.
As the founder of Indivisible KC, and in her professional career, Emily has been a phenomenal force for good. She continues to be a hero and inspiration to all of us, and we wish her and their boys love and healing in this profoundly difficult time.
We encourage you to read the details of the case, and let it build the fire inside you to push for change. Reports indicate this heinous crime may have been committed by a man who had a history of gun violence, and who had no business freely carrying a firearm. Tom’s was only the most recent in an unfathomable number of preventable deaths. He was one of 159 people murdered in the Kansas City metro so far this year, along with an unknown number of deaths by gun suicide. Each death is tragic; each victim loved, valued and mourned.
There are always those who argue that loss should not be politicized. Many IKC members live by the mantra that the personal IS political. This is most acute in situations like Tom’s death, which may be directly attributed to the failure of our politicians to enact and enforce common-sense regulations, with which even most gun owners agree. It is time to ask our representatives in state and federal government how they justify their failure to act.
Remember Tom and Emily as you do the good work.
In Love, Strength, and Solidarity,
During this era when the behavior of the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, and Predator- in-Chief Donald Trump is coming to light, it is important that everyone, especially women, know what to expect in the workplace and what recourse they have when they suffer sexual harassment and/or discrimination.
One would think that Missouri, recognizing the struggles of workers, would want to provide further protections for workers. To the contrary, in the last legislative session, Missouri’s lawmakers chose to decrease the protections of workers and lessened their ability to recover financially if the employer is found to have committed unlawful behavior.
The main change and the most exciting for employers is that the new law does away with Missouri’s “contributing factor” standard for adverse employment decisions. The “contributing factor” standard has been relatively easy for employees to meet. Employees needed to show only that discrimination contributed to termination, demotion. Under the new version of the law, the employee plaintiff will be required to establish that the claimed act of unlawful bias was a “motivating factor” for the challenged employment decision. This change makes it much harder for employees to prove discrimination.
The other ways Missouri has just harmed employees is by creating limitations on the amount of money employees can recover if the employees prevail against the employers after make it past all the hurtles in the law. For most small to medium size employers, employees can recover only $50,000 for emotional distress.
Missouri law has not gotten better for women suffering sexual harassment in the workplace, still one of the most common forms of discrimination. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination based on sexually explicit behavior. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment only when such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. This is where the sexual conduct is so pervasive or severe that it creates an abusive working environment. So, in other words, it needs to be very, very bad. It is also not lawful for an employer to make sex a condition of employment or promotion, which is really the least lawmakers can do for women.
"I'm a disabled veteran from Raymore Missouri."
"I'm a full time lawyer and a new mom."
"I was an academic librarian for 25 years."
"I don't have much experience really."
"I have a pickup truck and carpentry or paint skills and would like to help in anyway possible."
"I have over 10 years’ experience freelance writing and truly love researching ideas and sharing them with others."
"I’m a passionate liberal wanting to participate in the resistance movement, but am an extreme introvert."
"If it's cookies you need, I am an excellent follower of the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse bag."
"I am a woman, an African American, a senior citizen and this administration and this fool pres does not represent me nor wants to represent me."
These quotes are from just some of the emails we received in response to our call for volunteers. Thank you so much for stepping up. You have warmed our hearts and brightened our lives. This movement is for all people, and each of us has an important part to play.
We want to hear from more of you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, remember, keep making those calls, keep showing up, keep advocating for yourself and those you love, and know that you are not alone. We are shoulder to shoulder in this together.
Dr. Emily Riegel
For the past 10 months, the country has watched as our elected officials have attempted, repeatedly and unsuccessfully, to gut the benefits provided under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Despite their backhanded tactics, sneaky actions, and tunnel-vision focus on delivering mortal wounds to the ACA, they failed. They failed because they were held accountable by the Americans who demanded that their access to healthcare coverage be protected.
Now, as if in a petty game of retribution, lawmakers are striking back by stalling the much-needed approval to guarantee funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is the federal funding program that guarantees quality health coverage for more than eight million children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford private health coverage.
CHIP, in effect now for over 20 years, has been among a handful of success stories of bipartisanship – that oft-dreamed of, rarely seen political unicorn that appears when both political parties agree to set aside their differences and unite behind a cause so important that their raw humanity compels them to do the right thing.
Apparently, we are no longer in the age when “doing the right thing” matters in politics. We have moved beyond the time when the health and lives of children in this country were seen as a commodity valuable enough to support through programs like CHIP. Now, our children and their access to healthcare- healthcare that not only treats them when they are sick or injured, but healthcare that helps keep them healthy and safe- are being used as a pawn in the game of what can only be called a revenge plot.
Revenge against whom?
Against the Democratic Party for not wavering in their defense of the ACA?
Against the holdout Republican Senators like Collins, Murkowski, and McCain who didn’t tow the party line?
Or is it against the constituents: the people who wrote, called, demonstrated, visited, and continued to demand that their ACA benefits be protected?
What the GOP is now doing is effectively holding children hostage, taunting, “look what we’ve got now.”
Meanwhile, as this political gamesmanship unfolds, there are actual lives hanging in the balance. Unless Congress votes on continuation of CHIP funding within the coming days, we know that 3 states and the District of Columbia will run out of money to fund their CHIP programs by the end of 2017. An additional 27 states-including Kansas and Missouri- will see funding go dry by March of 2018.
So what does this mean here at home? In Kansas, over 77,000 children will be affected. In Missouri, over 78,000 will be affected. Nationally, nearly 8.4 MILLION children could lose insurance coverage, and with the health insurance marketplace being destabilized by the attacks on the ACA, many of these children may remain uninsured for an unknown period of time.
CHIP and the ACA have allowed our children to be healthier: providing coverage for their well child checks, immunizations, routine dental care. These are measures that help make sure kids are sick less, that kids feel better, that they are able to avoid the kinds of illnesses and health risks that could have significant, even life-threatening, consequences. It also ensures that children who do face a serious illness or injury, the kind no family can prepare for, and that little can often be done to prevent, are able to receive the kind of medical care and treatment that gives them the best chance of recovery and survival; and it helps do this without the risk of bankrupting or financially devastating their families.
Why would any politician stand in the way of this kind of program?
Why would any political party argue against its importance?
Why would any lawmaker with a conscience put children’s lives at risk?
And what have we come to that these are questions we must actually try to answer?
We have been through this for 10 months, and we have resisted the attack on health care at every turn. We aren’t finished yet, it seems. If Congress is going to keep doing what it has been doing, then so will we. If they think we are going to get tired and quit paying attention, they have grossly miscalculated their constituents and what we will do to protect and advocate for every child in this country.
Make your calls, make those office visits, hold your signs up high, stand shoulder to shoulder: do your part and do not quit.
Our children are watching. Let’s make them proud.
Senator Pat Roberts, Senator Jerry Moran,
I am profoundly sad and utterly baffled. I don’t know what kind of people my federal representatives in Washington, D.C. are, and that includes you. I used to believe that people from Kansas had some of the same values and beliefs that I, another Kansan, do. But you don’t – it seems you don’t care about your constituents, or your fellow U.S. citizens, in the least. If you did, you would have taken up the issue of gun control long before now, before people were shot in Lawrence, Kansas, or Las Vegas. I would have thought that the killing of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut would have motivated you to address this issue, to propose a bill, to co-sponsor a bill… to do SOMETHING besides express your sympathies. They were beautiful children, for God’s sake! And you did nothing, except talk.
When Sandy Hook didn’t move you, I was sure that the shooting of members and staffers of Congress at the baseball practice last June would surely make you pay attention. Those are your own peeps – surely a shooting that was so “close to home” would move you! But no. No movement, nothing but hollow words of sympathy for the victims and some mild public outrage to mollify your constituents.
Please explain to me how money from the NRA matters more to you than the murder of children or the shooting of your fellow Congressmen or 59 people in Las Vegas? Help me understand the morality of a man – you – who is more interested in getting re-elected than he is in the well-being and safety of the people he was elected to serve.
All this talk about 2nd Amendment rights and “they’re going to take away all our guns” is unmitigated horseshit and you know it. There are a number of actions that could be taken to protect the citizenry, none of which you seem willing to consider at all:
When the framers of the Constitution met and wrote that great document, including the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment had to do with very different kinds of guns than we have now, and it was meant to allow individuals to protect themselves in their homes and to form a “well-regulated militia” when called upon. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has ruled that the 2nd Amendment is NOT unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. But you have allowed yourself to be bullied and threatened by the NRA into believing that there should be no regulations AT ALL.
If you continue to choose not to act to protect the lives and safety of your constituents, then I can think only that you lack the courage and fortitude to stand up for us. And if that’s true, then step down, because you don’t belong in Congress. It takes people who are brave enough and strong enough to stand up to wrong-doing and who have a moral center to govern our country. Based upon your lack of action on this very important issue, you are clearly not one of those people.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired this week. I held my breath until 12:01 am on October 1st, when the efforts to repeal the ACA through budget reconciliation maneuvers were ended. I’ve been worried sick about the American citizens suffering without food, water, electricity or adequate attention since hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. I’m trying to keep up with information about the DACA recipients who need to get their status renewed by this evening. I’m contacting my reps about their failure to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which protects millions of vulnerable American children. And I am heartsick about the massacre in Las Vegas and furious that it coincides with a week where there are not one, but two NRA-backed bills moving through Congress, to further loosen our gun laws. All of that before I can even focus on the travesty of a budget that Congress is trying to sell.
I have had moments this week when I have just felt worn to the bone. I’ve picked up the phone to make my calls, or typed my emails and faxes, and I just feel as though I am shouting into the wind.
In those moments, I understand the people around me who feel defeated by our political system. Who have looked at this whole mess and just said, “I don’t have the money of an NRA or the Koch brothers. My voice doesn’t matter.” Who have opted to focus on other issues, because politics makes them feel powerless.
Then, I take myself for a walk, take some deep breaths, and force myself to re-engage. Because what I have learned in the past year is that I, personally, don’t have a ton of power in the political system. But if I am persistent and informed and I show up, I make a small impact. If I find a few other people to show up with me, we make more of an impact. If they find a few more people, we can stop terrible legislation like Trumpcare.
Part of why it feels as though we have lost power in politics is because we have handed that power over. We have been told that every candidate is corrupt, so our votes don’t matter. We have been told that money rules politics, so our voices don’t matter.
I refuse to accept that storyline any longer. Not all candidates are created equal. None of them may be perfect, but some candidates & elected officials take their jobs seriously. They show up at town hall meetings to truly listen to their constituents. They work out of the spotlight, to fix real problems, in a bipartisan way. We should be asking candidates how they plan to act if elected, and we should hold them to their answers. We also have to become educated. Too many candidates get away with glib, vague answers to tough questions. We need to ask for details, and we need to know enough that we can push back when we don’t get them.
As we get educated, we need to vote. EVERY SINGLE TIME. In every single election. For city clerk and US President. In the 2016 election, more people didn’t vote at all than voted for either major candidate. There is no way that our government can be representative if a third of eligible voters (or more in smaller elections) just don’t show up. It is my responsibility to vote. It is your responsibility to vote. When we fail at this responsibility, we are handing power to extremists and special interests. We need to show up.
Once someone is elected, we need to be engaged with them. I had a legislator tell me that she got most of her education about issues outside of her field from lobbyists, “because no one else is giving me that information.” We should all be talking to our legislators about our areas of knowledge--they should be educated by constituents, not by lobbyists.
Representative democracy can’t be a spectator sport. It is our responsibility to be educated, aware & engaged in our democratic process. If we are not, that spot will be filled by special interests, who are not looking out for the good of all. We must show up. And when we do, I truly believe we can change the world.
Indivisible KC needs You! Check out our list of volunteer needs to see what you can do to help the movement. We have opportunities available for people with all kinds of skills and availabilities, including online-only so you can resist from home!
Resist from home! Online volunteer positions available:
Talking points writer
IKC needs people to help us generate talking points and collect research for our weekly Calls to Action and Member of Congress Office Visits. You will be provided with a topic (for example, “IKC Opposes the Cassidy-Graham health care bill”) each Wednesday evening. Your task will be to write three clear, concise talking points supporting the topic, plus two to three supporting links for our members who would like to read further, all before Friday morning. Extra credit for sign and chant ideas! We’ll need everything ready to distribute by Friday morning.
Image research/Basic weekly graphics creation
IKC needs someone to research and retrieve photos and create header graphics using a specific, easy template for our weekly Calls to Action and Member of Congress Office Visits. We will provide the topics to you by Wednesday evening and will need the graphics completed by Friday morning. We use Google Drawings but you don’t have to (if not using Drawings, we’ll need the shared design assets).
Resist in person
Blunt office visit helper
IKC hosts office visits at Senator Roy Blunt’s downtown Kansas City office on the first Wednesday of each month at noon. We need one person for each of those visits who can help greet fellow resisters, maintain order in the crowd, and recruit and register new members.
Special Events logistical assistance
IKC needs people who can assist with logistical support for occasional evening and weekend events such as member meetings, educational events, and rallies. Tasks will range from handing out programs to bringing cookies to directing parking traffic.
McCaskill Office leader
IKC needs someone to lead actions relating to Senator McCaskill. This person will maintain contact with the local Westport office of Senator McCaskill, keep track of news related to Senator McCaskill, determine when there is a need for an office visit with Senator McCaskill’s staff, and lead office visits or other events related to the Senator.