September 2018 Newsletter


Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter!  Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.  We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.



We hosted our inaugural cohort of fellows and their supervisors in Oakland for a three-day orientation from September 5-7.

On Day 1, our fellows, Amanda Mangaser SavageCallie Wilson, and David Ureña had the opportunity to engage with PRP Co-Founder Ben Chida, Co-Founder of the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project Professor Kathleen Morris, and former government fellows from other programs (Adam GroggMalia McPherson & Rosie Perez), explore their personal leadership styles, and learn how to leverage their strengths in their new roles. (Learn more about our fellows here.) 

On Day 2Kaitlin Caruso of the New York City Law Department, Venus Johnson of the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, Yvonne Meré of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, Ken Zimmerman of the NYU Furman Center, and Juan Rodriguez of SCN Strategies spoke with our fellows on how to make an impact in government and how to engage communities to make positive change through affirmative litigation.

Later, we were joined by friends, supporters and partners for a packed welcome reception at The Punchdown. Big thanks to DC and Lisa for welcoming us so warmly!

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On Day 3, we convened partner organizations and community advocates in San Francisco for a breakfast conversation, "Redefining the Power of Public Service." We talked about applying an equity lens to enforcement work, how to balance pushing back on the excesses of the Trump Administration with meeting urgent local enforcement needs, and new strategies for building a pipeline to public service for young lawyers.  

Huge to thanks to our moderators, Brian Nelson of the LA2028 Olympic Committee and Ken Zimmerman of the NYU Furman Center, and our wonderful panel of speakers, Amber Parrish Baur of UFCW Western States Council, Maria Bee of the Oakland City Attorney’s Office, Ron Flynn of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, and Genevieve Nadeau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.


We could not have done this without you! After a phenomenal orientation week, we are even more energized about the work ahead and determined to expand our program to more cities, counties, and states across the country.

Stay tuned for updates on David, Callie, and Amanda’s work, and for exciting updates on Public Rights Project’s next steps. And thanks to the following partners for making our first orientation possible!

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In August, we welcomed Carlo David to the Public Rights Project team. Carlo will be helping run our digital communications strategy and evaluate our impact as an organization as we seek to expand our work across cities and states. Carlo was also instrumental in project managing our 2018 Fellows Orientation.

Prior to joining PRP, Carlo was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs, where he participated in a nine-month leadership and development program and worked with various Bay Area organizations on how to build and expand their capacity, assess their impact and better reflect the populations they serve. (Read more about Carlo here.)

We are excited to work with CORO Northern California for the second year in a row. For the next few weeks, CORO Fellow Jonah Bleckner will be working with PRP to help us evaluate the Fellowship Orientation and integrate feedback to create more meaningful experiences for our future cohorts.

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PRP Fellows In The Spotlight: Oakland City Attorney Adds 2 Attorneys To Civil Rights Unit
The Oakland City Attorney has hired two civil rights attorneys in its Community Lawyering and Civil Rights Unit, in partnership with the Public Rights Project. The division, which is focused on bringing high-impact, community-focused litigation, is among few in the state. The attorneys, Amanda Mangaser Savage and Callie Wilson, are part of the Public Rights Project’s inaugural cohort of fellows. (Read more via LA Daily Journal)

City of Columbus v. Trump
Our partners at Democracy Forward are representing a coalition of cities against the Trump Administration for intentionally and unconstitutionally sabotaging the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and increasing the cost of health coverage for American families. The suit was filed on behalf of the cities of Columbus, Ohio, Baltimore, Maryland, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois, and citizens from Charlottesville, Virginia. (Read more via Democracy Forward.)

Another Judge Slaps Down Jeff Sessions For Trying Punish 'Sanctuary' Cities Like L.A.
“U.S. Judge Manuel L. Real of Los Angeles enjoined [Attorney General Sessions] from withholding more than $1 million in federal law enforcement assistance funding from L.A. because the city declared itself a “sanctuary” community. Real ruled that Sessions was way out of line in attempting to add conditions to a federal grant program designed to be based strictly on a community’s population and crime rates.” (Read more via Los Angeles Times)

Betsy DeVos Lose Student Loan Lawsuit Brought By 19 States
“U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos lost a lawsuit brought by 19 states and the District of Columbia, accusing her department of wrongly delaying implementation of Obama-era regulations meant to protect students who took out loans to attend college from predatory practices.” (Read more via Bloomberg)