All posts by Roger Straw

Editor, owner, publisher of The Benicia Independent

2-Page Ad in The New York Times Calls Out NRA-Backed Members of Congress

Repost from AdWeek
[Editor: see image at bottom of this article for the ad showing a list of YOUR representatives who have taken NRA money – along with their office phone numbers.  – RS]

Powerful and informative 2-page ad by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

By Kristina Monllos, February 21, 2018

Two gun control groups, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, have taken out a two-page ad in today’s The New York Times listing members of Congress who have accepted donations from the National Rifle Association.

Following last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the groups created an action plan, #ThrowThemOut. The ad, which cost $230,000 and was created by the groups with help from strategic communications firm SKDK, is part of that plan.

“We are having a national conversation right now about this issue,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “A lot of people want to act. One way to act is to call your representative, to have knowledge when you do of how much that lawmaker took from the NRA and how it might impact their vote on gun safety. To be able to see the list and then to take action is a very important part of democracy.”

Watts continued: “We want to continue this conversation at a national level as long as we possibly can because what really matters is what happens in the midterms. That will determine the future of what laws are made around this issue.”

In the ad, members of Congress are listed alongside the dollar amount they have accepted from the NRA, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Phone numbers for the members of Congress are also listed. Though, the list doesn’t include members of Congress who have taken money from the NRA if the congressperson voted against weakening gun laws in recent years.

“We wanted to just have a list of lawmakers who have not acted on gun safety and who have taken a significant amount of money from the NRA,” said Watts. “That combination is deadly for America.”

Creating a print ad allows the groups to give people “something tangible that they can hold onto, cut out of a newspaper” so that they can keep the information easily accessible, explained Watts.

“Americans have had enough,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, in a statement. “The public is united behind common-sense gun laws. Members of Congress can step up or voters will throw them out.”

Representatives for The New York Times and the NRA did not immediately response to requests for comment.

Click the image below to see the ad in full:

http://static.adweek.com/adweek.com-prod/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/throw-them-out-nyt-full-640.png
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Andrés Soto Letter: Benicians Deserve Better

Repost from the Benicia Herald, Forum Page

Benicia deserves better

Andrés Soto

February 21, 2018, By Andrés Soto

Benicia is the only Bay Area refinery town that does not have the community protection of an Industrial Safety Ordinance, or ISO.

In 1999, the city of Richmond and Contra Costa County adopted their interlocking ISOs. The Richmond ordinance mirrors the Contra Costa ISO, and Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Division is responsible for enforcement and reporting.

Their experience with repeated refinery and associated hydrogen plant polluting events caused the elected leaders to respond to pressure from the disproportionally impacted communities in Richmond, Rodeo and Martinez for greater protection and information about polluting incidents.

How did Benicia miss out?

Since the adoption of the ISO, there have continued to be dangerous and deadly incidents at these Bay Area refineries, albeit at reduced rates, due to the ISO. Fortunately, the Richmond/Contra Costa ISO allows for corrective provisions that have improved refinery function and provided impacted communities with timely investigative information.

Under the ISOs, a 72-hour post incident report is available to the public. Monthly reports, or more frequently if necessary, follow that report and are publicly posted. To date, neither the Benicia City Council nor the people of Benicia have received any official reports on the nearly monthlong Valero flaring disaster this past May.

Based on the success of the Richmond/Contra Costa ISO, the California legislature adopted some of the process safety management portions of the ISO and made them state law, going into effect in October.

Unfortunately, the legislature did not adopt all elements of the ISOs. Benicia’s ability to receive information, publish the results of investigations to the public and to require Valero to take corrective action simply does not exist. Can we wait for the legislature to strengthen the state law?

While Valero and PG&E point the finger at each other over who is at fault for the Valero flaring disaster in May, Benicia remains in the dark. We know Valero was given permits to construct an adequate backup generator system but only one co-generator was built and the permit for the other was allowed to expire after several extensions, probably because of Valero’s bureaucrats in Texas.

Do we Benicians think we can count on Texas oil men to put our health and safety ahead of their profits? The lesson we learned from the successful battle to stop Valero’s dangerous Crude-By-Rail Project is the company seems to stop at nothing to ensure their profits – even at the expense of Benicians.

Benicia deserves better!

Andrés Soto,
Benicia

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Benicians debate Rep. Mike Thompson’s views on assault weapons

February 21, 2018

Here’s an interesting exchange from the Facebook page of Benicia Indivisible For Justice.   Lois’ 6th paragraph on gun control gave way to a lengthy debate on Rep. Thompson’s refusal to consider a ban on assault weapons.  Contact Mike here.

 Lois Rosewood
Feb 16, 2018, 7:33pmVallejo, CA
We met with Congressman Mike Thompson this afternoon, and the timing was great to get his impression of the indictment of several Russians today for interfering with our 2016 election. Rep. Thompson was on the House Intelligence Committee for eight years.

He said, “What’s most important is that this validates what the intelligence committee has been saying all along.” He thinks these indictments are a good step in the right direction. He also thinks that these indictments today might “tip the scale” towards imposing the sanctions on Russia that Congress voted for.

He agreed that people are very concerned and “rightly so” about the integrity of our next election. He said that California election officials are working on the problem of election security. He also said that we can help by being “aggressive and participatory.” He wants us to talk back to the trolls online instead of letting them create the narrative. (Post facts and links to reputable articles to refute what the trolls are saying.)

He said our intelligence community is working full time on election integrity. He said, “They’ve got their responsibility and they are working to carry it out.” He pointed out that the intelligence community has been contradictory of the President. They are standing up to him in public as well as in private. When asked about the possibility of Mike Pompeo trying to stop the work of the CIA, Rep. Thompson said, “There are a lot of different professionals in the intelligence community who are going to do their jobs.”

We asked a question about impeachment, and Rep. Thompson reminded us that “Even during the Nixon years Republicans were supportive of him, but only to a point.” He thinks that with the indictments today we may be at the point where more of the GOP will turn against Trump.

When asked about gun safety, he said it will take “people marching in the streets” to get new gun legislation passed. He said that he has been the Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives ever since the Sandy Hook massacre. But the GOP will not allow votes on any gun safety legislation nor any hearings.

He mentioned his 3-part plan:

1. Establish a select committee to look at gun violence issues

2. Remove roadblocks from the CDC for doing research on gun violence

3. Expand background checks

He has authored a bipartisan bill for expanded background checks and said he got another Republican co-author today. He said the way we can definitely get it passed is to “win the election in November.”

Here are Rep. Mike Thompson’s views on gun violence prevention, from his webpage: https://mikethompson.house.gov/issu…/gun-violence-prevention

When asked about immigration, as the Senate did not have the votes this week for the bill with DACA protection, he was not hopeful about that process. He said, “The House is worse. Last time the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill the House refused to take it up.”

Rep. Thompson has been supportive of immigrants and focused on this issue for several years. Here is his statement about it: https://mikethompson.house.gov/issues/immigration-reform

It seems the biggest hope is to turn Congress blue in November.

He was asked about the current Democratic party’s positions and Mike mentioned the “Better Deal” platform. https://abetterdeal.democraticleader.gov/learn-more/ This is the type of information that we heard from Congressman Joe Kennedy after the State of the Union Address.

Rep. Thompson said, “We don’t win because there’s a catchy phrase coming out of Washington, but because we have good candidates.” Although in these times our newsfeeds are dominated by the bad news coming out of the White House, once those candidates are heard during the election cycle they can get the message out.

One of our members asked to get some of the Better Deal stickers or signs to put up and he said he would mail them to her.

When Rep. Thompson was asked about drilling off the California coast, he let us know that he is going to hold a hearing with fellow congressmembers Jared Huffman and Jackie Speier in San Francisco. They will have expert witnesses on the impact of drilling off our coast and hopefully a lot of folks like us there supporting that hearing. When the date is announced I will post it in the Indivisible groups on Facebook.

He also told us that he was able to successfully oppose the attempt by the Trump administration to overturn the designation of Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument or reduce it in size.

Rep. Thompson seemed obviously weary and frustrated. When we asked him how he keeps going, I suggested that it was his passion for these issues that gives him energy, and he replied that it was also about helping people.

Image may contain: 10 people, people smiling, people standing, shoes and indoor
Comments

Carol Lampson I have to add: on the gun subject, he became angry when asked about an assault weapons ban – let loose a 5 minute tirade – and insisted that background checks are “the only thing!” that would have any effect. I now strongly suspect he has an assault rifle, and would not support a ban. We NEED an assault weapons ban.

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Lois Rosewood That’s an interesting thought, that PERHAPS he owns an assault rifle. We don’t know whether he does, although I agree that they should be banned. Even if only people with clean background checks buy assault rifles, those weapons will still be in the community.

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Cora Lily Young What is your definition of assault weapon?

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Lois Rosewood Mike has had success in getting Repubs to co-sponsor his gun safety legislation because he is a middle-of-the-road kind of politician. I wish he was a louder progressive but it’s harder for the Repubs to work with them. I guess we need those loud progressive voices and guys like Rep. Thompson too.

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Carol Lampson Cora Lily Young and Lois Rosewood – Dianne Feinstein has fought for 20 years for an assault weapons ban. Her definition is the standard:https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/…/press-releases…Manage

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Carol Lampson Cora Lily Young did you see my post w/Feinstein’s definition?

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Cora Lily Young Carol Lampson yes, thanks Carol!

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Lois Rosewood Based on what I’ve read on Rep. Thompson’s website, he believes that it would be unconstitutional to ban weapons. (see the third paragraph)

https://mikethompson.house.gov/…/gun-violence-preventionManage

MIKETHOMPSON.HOUSE.GOV

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Steve Young Mike Thompson was appointed by Obama to be the chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Committee after Sandy Hook, in part because he is a hunter and Obama and Thompson both understand that he would bring more credibility to the so-far fruitless effort to come together on common sense gun legislation. While I (and I believe millions of others) now believe that banning the sale of one particular semi-automatic rifle that is ruthlessly effective in killing people would be one small but reasonable step forward, even that seems to be a bridge too far in a Republican dominated government. I disagree with Mike on some things, but his commitment to work hard on the gun issue should not be in question. Only by winning the election is there hope for change in this country. I hope everyone on this thread is committed to doing the hard work to make that happen

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Rashida Beth Tessler Thanks for the report, Lois.

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Carol Lampson Thank you, Lois Rosewood, & thank you for arranging it. It was illuminating. 

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Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs Thank you for the report, Lois. I would have liked to go today if I could have.

I am concerned about Congressman Thompson’s reaction to assault weapon ban! Blood is on his hands if he is an owner and not willing to have a ban to save our children. For me, it will factor greatly when he is up for re-election. I would like a better and more level response from him regarding that.

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Carol Lampson It would be great if you call his office & ask that. I also asked Indivisible Solano this evening to please ask him about this when they next meet him, too.

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Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs I will do that. Thank you!

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Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs (background checks are NOT the only thing). I sent a letter to the Congressman last year asking for yearly registration of firearms, just like we do our cars. I would like to hear his thoughts on that and further my reasoning for this.

Additionally, ammo should be at least as carefully tracked as the purchase of Sudafed! I told him this in my letter. I wonder his response.

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Jenny Ocon Hold on folks. At no point did Congressman Thompson say he had assault rifle. He simply made the point that the best way in his opinion to address gun violence legislatively was with background checks. Let’s not start misinformation campaigns please!

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Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs He may not have said it, but he is wrong in saying that the ONLY thing we can do is enforce background checks.

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Jenny Ocon That is not what he said. He said it was the most important thing.

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Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs a ban is the most important thing.

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Carol Lampson Jenny Ocon and Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs, I was there yesterday. At no point did Thompson say he had an assault rifle. I mentioned that I wondered if he did because of his odd and extreme reaction when I mentioned assault rifles. He started almost shouting – clearly angry – and was adamant that “only background checks!” could have ANY impact on gun violence. Which most of us, along with Dianne Feinstein (a longtime advocate of an assault weapons ban) know to be untrue. The inappropriateness of his reaction. And no, he was not “emotional” with grief over those FL kids – he was angry; we’re all adults, we know the difference. And when I said that I was pretty sure fewer kids would have died if the shoot had a shotgun, Thompson shot back, “Not necessarily!” – a dumb comment. He had ZERO interest in talking about assault weapons. So – clearly he’s not supportive of that ban. And that’s a lot more important than whether he personally owns one or not.

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Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs Carol Lampson thank you Carol, and I agree. I believe my comments to him gives him the benefit of the doubt to explain himself. His not seeing that a ban would do a lot of good is disturbing.

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Steve Young Jenny Ocon I was there. Jenny is correct

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Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs I wrote to him. This is what I said:

Dear Congressman Thompson,
Thank you for meeting with Benicia Indivisible today.

Though I hear you spoke well on many of the concerns we have with our current administration, I was dismayed to hear that your reaction to the suggestion to an assault weapons ban was seen as an angry, 5 minute tirade on the subject and that, in your opinion, background checks is the ONLY thing that can be done. This reaction makes me think that one of two possibilities are present for your reaction to be so. Either, one: you are heavily paid by the NRA (of course legally through campaign contributions etc), or two, you own an assault rifle and are not willing to give it up for the lives of our children.

Let me ask you this: Why are fully automatic weapons NOT used in mass shootings? Why? Because they are illegal and therefore difficult to get. For you to say that background checks are the ONLY action that would have any effect on this tragic epidemic in our country.

It is my understanding that the shooter this week in Florida, as a 19 year old is NOT able to legally purchase a handgun (nor alcohol, nor cigarettes) yet he IS legally able to purchase an AR15. HOW CAN THIS BE?

Our children are being taught how to evade an active shooter at school. They are being taught how to stall an active shooters efforts in order to lessen the number of deaths of their friends. WHY aren’t you and our other elected SERVANTS willing to do the same? To do EVERYTHING you can to stop the bloodshed? No one, outside the military needs an AR15. I suppose they may be “fun,” but is is worth our children dying?

I have written to you before (after our LAST mass shooting) and have given my thoughts on what could be done. In addition to an assault weapon ban (the only firearm that has been used in all of these mass shootings and are meant to kill as many in as short a time as possible), I have also asked about:

1. Yearly registration. We have to register our cars yearly. We have to prove that we are competent and able to operate a vehicle safely. With yearly registration of firearms, if a firearm is lost or stolen, it must be reported. If that lost or stolen weapon is used in an altercation, if it had not been reported, some onus must be placed on the negligent owner.

2. Ammunition purchase logs. When I went to the pharmacy today to purchase Sudafed for my allergies, I could not buy enough to last the entire month AND, of course, my id was taken and scanned and I suppose my purchase was put into a database. Every time this happens it is frustrating because I know I (or someone with nefarious intentions) could leave the pharmacy and go out and purchase hundreds and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. If I stop by 3 or 4 pharmacies to purchase what I need for my allergies, are the feds going to pay me a visit at home to see if I have a meth lab? Yet, is there a system in place to raise red flags when hundreds of rounds of ammunition are purchased? It has to be as difficult to purchase ammunition as it is allergy medicine – if we are thinking of things we CAN DO to stop the bloodshed.

3. Apparently, the shooter in Florida has a history of issues. HOW was he able to purchase a firearm? Had he been referred to the FBI? If so, why was nothing done? Why was he not visited, put on a list, questioned, evaluated? If I, A PTA mom of 2 and I have several nieces and nephews in your district, am scrutinized and even afforded a visit from the feds looking for a meth lab because of my allergy issues, I will be fully disgusted in “the system” which is obviously broken.

4. Whenever this happens pro-gun people say “arm our teachers.” in deference to how preposterous this idea is at baseline, if our teachers are forced to purchase (due to lack of funds) their own paper and pencils etc for their students, WHERE would the money come from to arm and train them? How about we ARM our teachers with the proper support staff at each school? Counselors, nurses, psychologists, smaller class sizes. Only six percent of our national budget goes to education when we should have the BEST education in the world for what we think of ourselves as the “Greatest Nation” in the world.

Congressman Thompson, the 2nd Amendment is only ONE of many – and it is not in itself the most important Amendment (additionally it is to be a WELL REGULATED right to bear arms. People forget that or ignore that). Also in our Rights as Citizens of the United States, is the right to LIFE, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. There are 17 people, many children, and their families in Florida who have lost their right to LIFE, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of HAPPINESS. The rest of us have lost the right to live unafraid and free.

Your reaction to the question of banning assault weapons, and your belief that background checks is the ONLY thing we can do has me concerned. You are representing us. God forbid we have a mass shooting in one of our schools, in your district, in our hometowns, but if your stance on a ban of assault weapons is because you own one or that the NRA owns you, you, sir, will have blood on your hands. I am hoping better of you, and I will be watching and talking loudly as reelection comes closer. PLEASE represent US and our children. Please stop the carnage by mass shootings across our nation. We are fast losing our status of “Greatest Country in the World.”

Your response would be appreciated.
Sincerely,
Kathy Jacobs

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Lois Rosewood Based on what I read on Rep. Thompson’s webpage, he believes that banning weapons would be unconstitutional. (see third paragraph)

https://mikethompson.house.gov/…/gun-violence-preventionManage

MIKETHOMPSON.HOUSE.GOV

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Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs interesting. I do not agree with him as fully automatic weapons are banned.

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Matt Gardner Hunting and target shooting IS fun, if you like that sort of thing…so is living and breathing and looking forward to a bright future, hard as that is most days for more and more living things on this planet. Anyone who can’t take down “Hunting Prey” with a single shot has no business shooting at living things… ALL of which (if you could ask us and them by extension) would appreciate that their/our last few breaths were without unnecessary pain and suffering. No one needs a semi automatic weapon to shoot a target and every hunter needs to keep shooting targets till they bulls eye every single time at any range before they should be “Licensed” to hunt living things. Additionally, IMO every gun should only ever have One Owner, who is registered to that gun, and who is responsible for the actions of that gun. If that owner dies or wishes to sell the gun they must sell it back to a Regulated Agency who will pay a Core Charge/BlueStock Value for the weapon dependent upon condition…or melt it for scrap value. In the UK where gun ownership is Strictly Enforced they have no Mass Shootings, their insane people have to drive cars and vans into crowds to “mass Kill”…I am very confident that I have a better chance jumping out of the path of a speeding truck than a hail of bullets. /rant over.

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Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs I could have proofed this better but I hope my points are understood.

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Simone StClare Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs thank you for taking the time today to attend this meeting and represent many of us who are not able to be there. I also thank you for your clear and concise summation of the points that representative Thompson has made. Let us know how we as individuals can become more involved and help in this effort.

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Kathy Vandenberg Jacobs Thank you Simone. I wasn’t there today, Lois Rosewood gave us the excellent report on the meeting and deserves the thanks. I am passionate about solving our mass shooting epidemic. It is disgraceful that this is happening.

I am also passionate about the other topics covered today. I am satisfied with his answers for those items. I wish I could have been there today and hope to be able to go next time.

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Laurie Baker Many thanks for all of you who attended. It is of primary importance that we the constituents let our reps and senators know our thoughts and feelings. In person, on the phone, in letters. i’d love to have been therre! And many thanks to you Lois Rosewood, for keeping us informed and agitated!! These are not easy times, to say the least!! Forward!

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Lois Rosewood I admit that it seemed he lost his temper a bit in our meeting with him, although I can only imagine how I would feel if I had been in the House of Representatives for so many years, basically not being heard. I think he was tired and I am hoping he finds a way to get some good rest when he can.

Since he is our representative in congress, I think we have every right to let him know about our views, and encourage him as well for the things that he is doing that we support.

You can read more about his views and legislation he has sponsored on his website: https://mikethompson.house.gov/issuesManage

MIKETHOMPSON.HOUSE.GOV
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Carol Lampson replied1 Reply

Mel Orpilla I was in this meeting. First of all, Mike does not own an assault weapon. And yes, Mike was mad. As you know, Mike is Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and has been leading the fight in the House to enact commonsense gun laws. Like all of us, he is fed up with House Republican Leadership’s failure to muster the courage to act. We need to focus on winning back the majority, not tearing each other down.

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Carol Lampson No one cares if he owns one, Mel Orpilla. Most of us care that he won’t support a renewal of the assault weapons ban. THAT’S the problem. And questioning my Congressman’s support for “gun rights” after 17 kids were gunned down by yet another nut with an assault rifle does not remotely meet the standard of “tearing each other down”, that’s a pretty over-the-top characterization. I’ve supported Democrats (with my votes, money and volunteer time) for 40 years, but some are CLEARLY better than others. One who won’t ban assault rifles and endorses my Trump-loving sheriff isn’t the best we can do.

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Lois Rosewood Carol, Mel Orpilla is Mike Thompson’s staffer and we would like the opportunity to be invited back to talk with Rep. Thompson sometime. I appreciate any facts you post, but please do so thoughtfully.

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Carol Lampson I’m sure Mel Orpilla can reread what was written and see that nothing was personal (except perhaps the criticism of Thompson’s emotionalism – & that’s more a behavioral critique). These are 100% policy criticisms. So – since you’re here, Mel Orpilla – (1) Does Mike Thompson support an assault weapons ban, yes or no? and (2) Why did he endorse David Livingston for Contra Costa Sheriff – a Trump supporter and ICE facilitator who’s a fan of incarceration culture? Thank you.
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