A BLUE WAVE CAME ASHORE

I see a beautiful blue wave that crashed ashore this election. What made this happen is  a mobilized army of thousands of Indivisible, Sister District, Flippable, Moms Demand Action, ACLU People Power, Fight For 15, Black Lives Matter, and countless other small and large social and political groups. These groups are unmatched in motivation, dedication, energy, skills, and fundraising ability the likes of which the democrats have not seen in a long time. They are filled with intelligent and hard-working people with an abundance of new voter lists and information from phone-banking, text-banking, canvassing, (not to mention markers, art supplies, stamps and postcards) to use as well as new and improved skills.  The data and lessons learned from all our new initiatives and groups over the past two years will only serve to make us better, stronger, faster. We will regroup and improve and expand on what worked during this election and keep marching forward, brining with us all the newly registered and engaged voters. Republicans spent more than 10 years working smartly to gerrymander, suppress, and lie to voters to win state houses, Congress, and the presidency and it will not be undone in one election cycle.

We have hundreds of new progressive, of women, people of color, and diverse backgrounds and religions, in local, state, and national offices, moving the dialogue in positive directions and ready to learn and grow and become engaging new leaders like Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, and Beto O’Rourke. We have more states where gerrymandering has been stopped by the courts or mandated by new ballot initiatives giving us a better chance of fair elections.  Most importantly, we have a check on the corrupt, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, America First President, that our U.S. Congress controlled by the republicans was not willing to be, without which the next two years would have been worse than our nightmares could conjure up.

There was so much good news in the election this week that to cover it in just one post would do it injustice and drown out some of the smaller accomplishments.  So for this post, I am focusing mostly on the election of state and federal candidates. The next post to come out shortly will focus on ballot initiatives and other local issues and important issue, along with some local elections of interest as well as more election results as they are finalized.

GOVERNORS

DEMOCRATS  GAINED 8 GOVERNORS including Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, and let’s not forget Guam (a U.S. territory with U.S. citizens.  Maine and South Dakota will have their first female Governors.  FOUR off those new democratic governors are WOMEN and one is the first openly GAY Governor.  Democrats also held on to governorships in Rhode Island. Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon, and CaliforniaCOLORADO also elected the first openly gay man as governor.

STATE HOUSES

Overall, RED TO BLUE, Democrats flipped 333 State House seats.   Democrats gained the ever important STATE TRIFECTA, when one party controls both legislative bodies and the governorship of a state.  Democrats picked up SIX TRIFECTAS, up from the 8 they had going into the 2018 election, in COLORADO, ILLINOIS, MAINE, NEW MEXICO, NEW YORK., NEVADA. They accomplished the now 14 state trifectas by winning control of the state senate and governorship In Colorado, taking back control of the state senate in New York, taking the state senate and governor’s office in Maine, the governor’s office in Illinois, the governorship in New Mexico, and the governorship in Nevada.

A total of Six STATE HOUSES changed from Republican to democratic control when the democrats captured the Colorado State Senate, Maine State Senate, Minnesota House of Representatives, New Hampshire House of Representatives, New Hampshire State Senate, and the  New York State Senate.

There were some STATE HOUSES that the democrats did not win, but were able to BREAK UP REPUBLICAN SUPER-MAJORITIES In North Carolina and Pennsylvania, states with Democratic governors. Democrat Christy Clark in NC, a first-time candidate for a state house seat and gun reform advocate, beat the incumbent Republican, helping the democrats end the Republican super-majority in the state with a Democratic Gov. DEMOCRATS also BROKE UP REPUBLICAN TRIFECTAS in Kansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin.

DIVERSITY at the STATE HOUSES where An Afghani  woman, and former refugee, who escaped persecution from the Taliban won a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Overall 42 LGBTQ Victory Fund candidates who were challengers or running for open State legislative seats won their seats in 27 States in, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas,  Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

STATE EXECUTIVES

Democrats gained three STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL offices that were formerly held by republicans, including Colorado, Michigan, and Nevada and may have won Wisconsin since Josh Kaul is in the lead but is still too close to be called.

In two state democrats flipped the STATE SECRETARY OF STATE from Republican to Democrat in Michigan Colorado (the first time Democrats have won the office in six decades there).

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE

Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives with a total seat win of 227 which was a gain of 32 seats (with 10 races still being counted).

WOMEN did really well in races for the U.S. House, with 34 women elected, the biggest jump in the number of new women voted into the House, since the 24 elected in 1992’s so-called Year of the Woman and 26 of those women replaced men. 33 of the were democrats. They will join the 66 Women who were re-elected to the House. That makes the 100 women the highest number ever in the House. (some elections are still not called so these could increase). PA will now have 4 women in their U.S. House Delegation, up from ZERO.

DIVERSITY IN THE HOUSE The first two Native Americans, the first two female Muslims, and the first two Hispanic women from Texas, the first African-Americans from Massachusetts and Connecticut. Sharice Davids (D) defeated the republican incumbent to be the first openly LGBTQ person to represent KANSAS and Chris Pappas (D) became the first LGBTQ person to represent NEW HAMPSHIRE in Congress. Overall, EIGHT LGBTQ Victory Fund supported candidates won election to the U.S. House and ONE to the U.S. Senate,

BLUE WAVE There was a blue shift where 317 districts swung to the left with larger wins and 30 of those districts actually flipped from Republican to Democratic with far fewer districts that shifted to the right.  Now we await election decisions from Florida and, Georgia.

IN OTHER NON-ELECTION NEWS OF INTEREST

HEALTHCARE A jury awarded $25.5 million to the family of a cancer patient denied coverage by Aetna, with jurors saying that the insurer acted “recklessly” and that the verdict was meant as a message for Aetna to change its ways.

VOTING An election supervisor and judge in Texas stepped down after she was captured on video screaming at a black voter who was reportedly confused about where to vote.

CONFEDERATE MONUMENT The Lakeland City Commission (FL) voted to fund the move of a confederate monument from a downtown park to a local park dedicated to veterans.

GUN REFORM New Jersey Governor signed a bill banning untraceable firearms, including those manufactured on three-dimensional printers.

PRISON REFORM A new report shows that the number of people sent to Arkansas’ prisons for violating probation or parole fell more than 41 percent in 2017 after a new law went into effect that was aimed at reducing the prison population.

Standing up for Immigrants Motel 6 will pay up to $7.6 million for regularly providing guest lists to I.C.E.  A federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s temporary order preventing the administration from ending DACA.

Civil Rights The US Supreme Court ruled that the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act  applies to both state and local government.

Stayed tuned this week for more posts to cover all the good news.  

WE STOOD UP AGAINST HATE AND IN EARLY LINES AT THE BALLOT BOX!

Last week shootings at a Jewish House of Worship and in a Kentucky grocery store, along with the string of attempted mail bombs, and the failed attempt at a black church was particularly hard on me and I have to admit I did not have it in me to spread good news. After a week of reflecting and channeling my overwhelmed emotions into get out the vote, I have re-centered and decided to focus on the positive again.  I realized that I could not allow the hate to win over my efforts to remind others for just one small moment out of their week, that all hope is not lost. Seeing the vigils and support all over the country was heartwarming. Seeing the reports of voter participation and lines of voters was even more inspiring. My social media feeds were filled with pictures of people working to get out the vote all over the country.  Don’t forget to phone-bank, canvas, text-bank, and remind friends and family to get to the polls in the few hours we have remaining until now and Tuesday night.

This upcoming week I anticipate doing an early special edition with election results after counts are in.   For now here is an abridged list of the good news from the past couple of weeks.

🚶🚶🏿🚶🏼ELECTION PARTICIPATION  More than 30.6 million ballots have been cast already, with several states still collecting absentee ballots and welcoming in-person early voters, surpassing the total early vote in 2014 of 28.3 million.  Turnout among 18-29 year olds, compared to 2014 early voting: AZ +217%, FL +131%, GA +415%, MI +128%, NV +364%, TN +767%, and TX +448%. Not to mention women – Early vote share by gender: AZ, 52.5% women, 46.5% men (rest unclear), FL, 54.5 (W), 45.5 (M), GA, 56.4 (W), 43.6 (M), MI, 56.5 (W), 43.5 (M), NC, 55.1 (W), 44.7 (M), OH, 54.3 (W), 43.5 (M), TN, 54.4 (W), 45.5 (M), TX, 53.8 (W), 45.5 (M).

💵 ELECTION FUNDRAISING  The Hill is reporting that Hollywood is donating large sums to democrats.  Small-dollar donors made ActBlue’s third quarter 2018 fundraising the biggest quarter in dollars raised in ActBlue’s history, raising $385,176,557 for 9,335 Democratic campaigns, progressive organizations, and nonprofits, more than double the amount raised in Q3 2016. The three biggest dollar days ever for ActBlue were September 28th-30th, the days after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testimony.  Small-dollar donors raised over $11 million (crossing the $10 million threshold for the first time ever) on September 28th, a staggering $16,853,013 on September 30th and more  individual donations in a single day than ever before on the 30th (307,320 contributions).  September was the biggest dollar month in ActBlue’s history, with $184,841,230 raised. Democrats are spending $143 million on television advertising in House races, compared with $86 million for Republicans and Democratic super PACs and other outside groups are poised to outspend their Republican counterparts by a wide margin.

🕫🗳️FAIR AND ETHICAL VOTING starts with ACCESS TO THE BALLOT BOX A federal judge ordered election officials in Georgia to stop throwing out absentee ballots solely because of a suspected signature mismatch, and ordered election officials to give affected voters up to three days after the 6 November election to prove their eligibility. Georgia was also blocked by a federal judge from using an “exact match” rule to prevent voters from registering to vote. A federal court clarified a prior decision and ruled that Missouri voters who do not have a photo ID when they arrive at the polls will no longer have to sign a sworn statement to cast a ballot.  North Carolina issued an emergency order to make voting easier for those affected by the Hurricane which allows more time for absentee ballots to be received by county election offices and allows voters to return completed absentee ballots at more locations, including those outside their county. A federal appeals court ordered Ohio to count provisional election ballots for the 2018 midterm elections that are cast by certain people previously purged from the state’s voter rolls for not voting. Days after students at Prairie View A&M University sued Waller County in Texas over allegations that the county is suppressing the voting rights of black residents, the rural county is expanding early voting opportunities for students at the historically black university.

STOPPING GERRYMANDERING The U.S. Supreme court refused to hear an appeal of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that struck down congressional district maps the state found unlawfully biased in favor of Republicans. A state court ruled that four N.C. House seats in North Carolina must be redrawn before the 2020 elections finding that it has been racially gerrymandered.

VOTER REGISTRATION Groups like Four Directions have raised significant donations are working really hard and quickly to get every ND tribal member an ID with an address in time for the election. Voto Latino registered more than 200,000 voters in 11 states.   Chicago votes has now registered over 3,000 people in jail awaiting trial in Chicago.  🚗AND GETTING TO THE POLLS Los Angeles County’ will offer free fares on its bus and rail system on election day. The Postal Service said that “We will not deny a voter their right to vote by delaying a time-sensitive ballot because of insufficient postage” and will deliver absentee ballots with insufficient postage and charge the local elections agency instead (although some voters reported that their ballots with missing postage were returned so is sending it in, don’t forget the postage).  Bloomberg news is reporting that a record 44 percent of U.S. firms will give workers paid time off to vote, up from 37 percent in 2016.  The Washington Post did an article on the growing postcard writing movement with Postcards for America now having more than 9,700 members and 16 state chapters and Postcards to Voters has more than 25,000 volunteers who have sent roughly 3 million handwritten postcards to voters to get out the vote.

💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE Communities all around the country have been coming together in vigils held for the victims of last week’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.  Muslim organizations have raised $200,000 to help those affected by the shooting in Pittsburgh.  A Youth Commission and Republican Town Committee member in Bethel resigned after it became public that he had been affiliated with an extreme alt-right group. The Boston Mayor and many other community members and children from neighboring schools showed up to support for staff and students at a school hit with racist graffiti.  The press secretary for the Republican candidate for governor of Rhode Island resigned after racist and sexist tweets he made in the past were publicized. The far-right Proud Boys and their founder, Gavin McInnes, were banned from Facebook and Instagram because of policies against hate groups. Paypal has banned Gab, a hate-site platform.  The white woman who harassed two African-American women in their own parking lot was fired from her high paying job that she boasted about in her racist tirade.

🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS   HELPING ONE PERSON AT A TIME A  AND NOT BACKING DOWN FROM I.C.E.  Cristaudos Café in Illinois is selling cookies with a “Hate has no home here” message labeled in frosting on each cookie and are donating 50 cents of for every cookie to the Southern IL Immigration Rights Program.  A U.S. citizen who was wrongfully detained by ICE won a $55,000 settlement against I.C.E. and the San Bernardino County (CA).  A federal court ruled the Dept. of Justice cannot withhold federal grant funding from Seattle and Portland for being “sanctuary cities.” The Supreme Court declined to postpone the start of a trial challenging the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question on the census.

⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE Starting with WAGES AND BENEFITS The Chicago City Council approved the creation of an office dedicated to enforcing the city’s minimum wage, paid sick time and anti-wage theft laws. EDUCATION A U.S. Court of Appeals  ruled that Rhode Island must provide free public education to students with disabilities until they reach age 22.  The Arizona State Board of Education voted to re-integrate accurate climate & evolutionary science into the state’s K-12 science standards. HOUSING A real estate investment firm in L.A. agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that it pressured Latino and mentally disabled tenants to leave its rent-controlled Koreatown buildings so it could raise the rents. The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission made it easier for those who have been disconnected from gas and electric due to nonpayment to get reconnected, allowing them to pay only a portion of their arrears and enter a payment plan to get reconnected.  HEALTH A new federal law expands medicaid coverage for treatment of opioid addiction, cracks down on mailed shipments of illicit drugs such as fentanyl, and provides a host of new federal grants to address the crisis.  A Las Vegas jury awarded $250,000 to each participant in a class-action brought on behalf of mentally ill people who were inappropriately discharged out of a Nevada psychiatric hospital and bused across the country without proper care or planning, and they were ordered to revise its discharge policies to ensure that patients are safely transferred in the future.  HUNGER  Every school in New York has now adopted plans that end “meal shaming” of students who do not have money for lunch.  CONSUMER PROTECTION Payday lender Cash Express will pay $32,000 in restitution and $200,000 in penalties for violating the Consumer Financial Protection Act.

☮️ SOCIAL JUSTICE AND CIVIL RIGHTS  An American illegally detained in Iraq by the U.S. military for more than a year was released after the ACLU sued to obtain his release.  A Kentucky sheriff’s office will pay more than $337,000 for handcuffing two elementary school students of color with disabilities in a case brought by the ACLU.

👨🏿‍⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE  The Pennsylvania legislature approved a bill that will end the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for those convicted of certain non-driving offenses and the governor is expected to sign it.  A federal judge ordered the Memphis police department to bolster its policies and training after finding the agency had violated a court order prohibiting officers from watching protesters and monitoring their social media accounts in a case brought decades ago by the ACLU.  California will allow all non-violent prisoners under the Three Strikes Act to seek parole. The white Florida city commissioner who shot and killed an alleged non-white shoplifter at a store as he was fleeing resigned from his position after being criminally charged in the matter.

🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT  Oregon Gov. issued an executive order blocking offshore drilling.  SC Johnson signed on to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment which includes taking steps to reduce plastic packaging and making 100 percent of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.  The Supreme Court declined for now to stop a lawsuit filed by young activists who say the government isn’t doing enough to prevent climate change. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by fisherman challenging a rule established to protect otters from Point Conception south to the border of Mexico.  The Port Authority of NY & NJ has joined The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative and committed to electrifying its entire fleet of vehicles and airport shuttle buses by 2030.  Indonesia’s second-largest city is allowing residents to exchange used plastic bottles for free bus rides.

👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS ESSENCE magazine announced Essence Girls United a mentoring initiative focused on helping girls 12 through 17 increase their academic potential, self-love and leadership skills.   A non-profit opened a pet-friendly domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn. More than 20,000 Google employees participated in a mass global walkout to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against top executives

🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER A Veterans Affairs official removes a painting of civil war general and first grand wizard of the KKK from his office after complaints from staff.  The Make It Right Project put up a billboard in Seattle to remind residents that there is a Confederate memorial in their city that should be removed. Westchester County (NY) removed a Robert E. Lee plaque from a historical tree trail in one of its parks in Katonah.

🏳️‍🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS Albany and Westchester Counties (NY) banned “gay conversion therapy” on minors. The New Jersey and Sarasota Dept. of Eds released guidelines for schools to improve the rights of transgender students including access to bathrooms and locker rooms as well as standards for pronouns and chosen names. A Virginia school district superintendent apologized to a transgender student who was barred from using the boys’ or girls’ locker rooms during an active shooter drill. An Applebees in Hawthorne  will pay $100,000 to a transgender employee who was subjected to a hostile work environment and fred when she complained in a case brought by the U.S.

🙂 LAWSUIT ROUNDUP  A federal judge rules that the Washington D.C. and Maryland lawsuits against the con-man-in-chief for allegedly violating the constitution’s emoluments clause can proceed.

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST  A Montana republican official resigned after saying on a radio show that he would have shot the reporter who was assaulted by Congressman Greg Gianforte.  A republican Haywood County Board of Elections member who contended on social media that Democrats plan to legalize pedophilia in violation of state law against members publicly endorsing one party or another resigned her post prior to the investigation.

A DEMOCRATIC ARMY MARCHES!

So far reports are that voter registration has soared, early voting has started in some states with large voter turnout, and while I don’t usually rely to much on polls, they do say that voters are motivated to vote in the midterm elections.  While the list is again shorter than usual it is not because less inspiring things are happening but because I don’t have as much time to write in between canvassing, texting, phone-banking, and postcard writing (all of which I accomplished this week).  I hope this little list gives you motivation to keep going until November 6th and onward.

🚶🚶🏿🚶🏼ELECTION PARTICIPATION Georgia Gov. re-opened voter registration in four Georgia counties where Hurricane Michael forced their election offices to close. Georgia is setting records for early voting. Requests for mail-in ballots in Chicago and some suburbs have surpassed 2014 totals already, with time still left to apply to vote by mail. Hours before the voter registration deadline Maryland hit a record high for active registered voters at 3,992,451, surpassing the previous record of 3,977,637, with 2,189,543 Democrats and 1,018,851 Republicans. More than 4.3 million Americans have already voted early in the midterm elections and signs point to a huge increase in turnout from the last midterm elections; more than 800,000 people in Florida, nearly half a million Californians, more than 200,000 people in Tennessee and Arizona, and more than 100,000 in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, have voted. With 481,111 state residents now on Vermont’s voter rolls about 92.5 percent of the state’s voters are registered. #VOTE

AND #GOTV Let America Vote has now knocked on 40,000 doors in Georgia.  Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska (I) suspended his campaign and announced he was throwing his support behind his Democratic challenger. La Crosse Municipal Transit (WI) will offer free bus service on Election Day.  OpenProgress.com sent out hundreds of thousands of texts and emails to get voters enthusiastic about democratic candidates and excited to vote. Just a few examples of those working to bring a #BlueWave2018 in New York, Maryland, Washington, California, Tennessee, Texas, Nebraska, Alabama, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

💵 ELECTION FUNDRAISING Democrats raised a total of $46 million from small donors during the 2018 election, compared with just $15 million for their Republican opponents with Democrats in the 69 most competitive House races out-raising their Republican rivals by more than $78 million thanks to online small donor donations.

🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS  Denver finally received their criminal justice funds from the Dept. Of Justice as ordered by the courts after they challenged the denial of funds over sanctuary city policies. #NoOneIsIllegalOnStolenLand

⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE Starting with WAGES AND BENEFITS The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage will remain on the November ballot. HEALTH CARE Vermont is taking steps to require short-term health insurance plans to cover the 10 “essential” benefits mandated by the ACA, which include coverage for maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and hospitalization. Wisconsin governor has stalled effort to put Medicaid recipients to work, while it may be for political reasons, everyday someone does not lose their insurance, no matter the reason, is a good day. Virginia announced that starting on November 1, 2018, the state will accept applications for expanded Medicaid coverage.  CONSUMER PROTECTION The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a California state court ruling holding three paint companies responsible for lead paint contamination in homes built before 1951. A federal court allowed student loan borrower protections to take effect that make it easier for defrauded students to get their federal loans forgiven and prohibit colleges from forcing students to resolve complaints through arbitration, in an blow to for-profit colleges and Ed. Secretary Betsy DeVos who tried to stop it. #HealthCareForAll

👨🏿‍⚖️SEEKING SOCIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE  The Washington Supreme Court ruled that life sentences for juveniles convicted of aggravated murder is unconstitutional.  Tennessee can no longer revoke people’s driver licenses because they cannot afford to pay traffic tickets,  Rhode Island approved medical marijuana use for people who suffer from severe autism. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s Republican governor cannot make “midnight appointments” to name three new justices to the Florida Supreme Court after his term has ends at midnight and before the swearing in of whomever is elected Governor. #BailReform

🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT An Idaho fish and game commissioner resigned over a mass email he sent in which he described killing an array of African animals on a hunting trip complete with pictures of himself. A federal court ruled that a group of young Americans suing the federal government over lack of action to fight climate change can proceed with their lawsuit. Solar and wind energy now generate more than 20 percent of electricity in 10 states, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. SodaStream announced the launch of the ‘Holy Turtle, a massive ocean contraption designed to clean plastic waste from open waters. #ThereIsNoPlanetB

👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS Sherwood Food Distributors will pay $3.6 million and enact a series of nondiscrimination measures as part of a settlement it reached with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over claims that the company rarely hired women at one of its facility.  Rosebud Restaurants Inc.agreed to pay $160,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of female employees.

🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER A judge declined to punish a University of North Carolina graduate student who admitted to splashing red ink on a Confederate statue.

🏳️‍🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS Lakewood City Council (OH) and Eau Claire (WI) banned gay conversion therapy on minors. Two women in Austria became the first to wed after winning a lawsuit to legalize same sex marriage. #LoveIsLove

🤰🏽WOMEN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE Queensland’s parliament voted to decriminalize abortion. #MyBodyMyChoice

🕫🗳️FAIR AND ETHICAL VOTING The Justice Department charged a Russian woman with conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, the first criminal case accusing a foreign national of interfering in the upcoming midterms. Federal judges appointed a special expert to help redraw Virginia’s state legislative districts.  A North Carolina court ruled the government board that oversees the state elections is unconstitutional, striking down a law put in place by the Republican led General Assembly to limit the authority of the Democratic Gov.  Four Directions, a Native American voting rights group is working to ensure that all Native Americans in North Dakota can vote despite the recent Supreme Court decision, and will help place an official at every reservation polling place to get necessary documents regarding addresses to every voter. #StopGerrymandering

💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE A white Missouri woman who tried to prevent a black man from entering his apartment complex was fired by her employer on Sunday after a video of the incident went viral. #NoHateInMyState

👩‍🎓BREAKING BARRIERS Judge Gloria Clark Reno was elected to lead the St. Louis County Circuit Court, making her the first African- American presiding judge of  the 21st judicial circuit.

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST A republican member of a North Carolina county elections board resigned after posting on social media that Democrats plan to legalize pedophilia.  A top official at the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development who had been announced as a candidate for the Interior Department’s top watchdog position has resigned from the administration over the backlash due to her complete lack of experience.

ONE SWIFT TEXT BRINGS 65,000 NEW VOTERS

Since I spent a lot of this week phone-banking, texting, a writing postcards this good news list is brief, but not without plenty of good things.  Everywhere I turn on facebook and twitter I see pictures of people canvassing, working to get out the vote, and raise the enthusiasm for democratic candidates. I run into random people on the street registering voters and large numbers of energized people showing up when I go to phone-bank.  I even brought postcards to work with me and found new willing colleagues, who were not normally political, to help write them on their lunch hour. Who new all I had to do was ask? I may have even convinced a friend over lunch to not vote for her favorite republican. I have to remain hopeful that if we all pitch in as much as we can we can help democrats win up and down the ballot.

🚶🚶🏿🚶🏼ELECTION PARTICIPATION After Taylor Swift’s Instagram post coming out in support of two Tennessee democrats and encouraging people to register to vote, Vote.org has seen a surge in voter registration with more than 65,000 people registered to vote in the 24-hour period following Swift’s post and a large increase in her home state of Tennessee as well. At least 77,000 displaced Puerto Ricans in have registered to vote in the Florida.

💵 ELECTION FUNDRAISING Democratic candidate for Governor in Florida, Andrew Gillum, raised more than $3.3 million through his political committee last week.

🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS  Minneapolis police cars will start carrying “Know-Your-ICE-Rights” placards detailing immigrants’ rights in both English and Spanish. Baltimore police agreed to recognize identification cards issued by the city’s Catholic churches issue to undocumented immigrants and other vulnerable residents. Southwest Key’s Hacienda del Sol shelter was shut down after an investigation determined that staff physically abused three children.  HELPING ONE PERSON AT A TIME Pablo Villavicencio, the immigrant detained while delivering pizza in Brooklyn had his deportation case against him has been dropped.

⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE Starting with WAGES AND BENEFITS Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed the Earned Sick Leave Bill that passed the Legislature last week which requires any company with five or more employees to provide one-hour paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. FOOD SECURITY The Shawnee Mission School District in Missouri will no longer serve students who owe lunch money an alternate meal,ending the practice of “lunch shaming.”

☮️ SOCIAL JUSTICE AND CIVIL RIGHTS A Pittsburgh-area school accused of creating a culture of verbal abuse and excessive force against black student has agreed to pay a $500,000 settlement to five students, and accused administrators have been replaced.  An Alaska Superior Court judge ruled unconstitutional the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly invocation policy that required that invocations at its meetings be delivered by individuals and religious organizations on a pre-approved list. The EEOC sued JBS Carriers, alleging it violated federal law by using pre-employment screening to reject job applicants on the basis of disability.  The U.S. Supreme Court vacated a lower court ruling that allowed Missouri to required African-style hair-braiders to obtain a cosmetology license, which takes 1,500 hours and can cost thousands of dollars but doesn’t include any hair-braiding training.

👨🏿‍⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE  The Washington state Supreme Court ruled the state’s death penalty is unconstitutional. The former Cleveland police officer who fatally shot Tamir Rice backed out of taking a part-time job with the Bellaire police department that recently agreed to hire him after public outrage and pressure.  Los Angeles County supervisors voted to stop collecting fees once charged to parents and guardians of juvenile delinquents for their incarceration, erasing nearly $90 million of families’ debt. New York City completed moving of 16- and 17-year-olds out of the adult Rikers Island jail to juvenile facilities. CREATIVE SELF-HELP A newly created a shortcut uses Siri to record encounters with police similar to one developed for android by the ACLU.

🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT  A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the creation of an underwater monument in the Atlantic Ocean.  The Army Corps of Engineers suspended a permit that the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline must have in order to build through waterways in Virginia. The Food and Drug Administration announced that 8 synthetic food additives will no longer be allowed to be used in food. California Governor signed a law restricting the sale of flame retardant-containing children products and furniture.  Small Greek island is on its way to be being powered by only renewable energy.

👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS  The GoFundMe campaign to help pay for the security and protection costs faced by Dr. Blasey Ford has reached over $600,000.  https://www.brettkavanaugh.com/ has been turned into a page with resources for sexual assault survivors.

🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER The Staunton School Board (VA) voted to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School

🕬 GUN REFORM PA Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill which limits the ability of abusers to possess firearms.

🏳️‍🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS A Wisconsin jury awarded two state employees $780,000 in damages after they were denied health care coverage under the state health insurance plan because they are transgender. Romania voids gay marriage ban referendum because not enough citizens came out to vote on it. A lesbian couple won the right to register the birth of their child in Poland, in a first the country.

🕫🗳️FAIR AND ETHICAL VOTING Port Chester (NY) voted to continue cumulative voting for county trustees, which the courts found is less discriminatory to latinx and black voters. A federal judge sentenced a man to six months in prison and six months of home confinement after he pled guilty to felony identity fraud charge tied to Russian troll activity that in the presidential campaign. Montgomery County (MD) Executive, Independent candidate, Nancy Floreen,  returned $18,000 in campaign contributions after a county resident filed a complaint alleging that the donations were improper because they were made by five entities owned by one person. VOTER REGISTRATION AND ACCESS TO THE BALLOT BOX Civil rights groups sued Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate for governor alleging the method his office uses to verify new voter registrations is discriminatory. A Missouri judge ruled that state election officials can no longer tell voters they must show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot, blocking part of Missouri’s voter identification law. Uber and Lyft are offering free rides to the polls on election day.  This one young man stopped what he was doing to help get out the vote.

💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE A local Kansas GOP official resigned after making disparaging remarks about a gay Native American congressional candidate. A Republican candidate for Connecticut’s General Assembly withdrew from the race after criticism over offensive comments he made online about victims of the school shooting in Parkland. Charges were dropped against protesters who were alleged to have splashed ketchup and colored powder on Confederate statues at the Alabama Capitol.  Over 200,000 people marched through Berlin to protest racism after a recent demonstration by the far right in Germany led to violence.  At least a dozen US cities, including San Francisco and Cincinnati, celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day instead of observing Columbus Day.  Members of the hate-filled Westboro Baptist Church met waves of opposition as they made their way through Spokane (WA).

👩‍🎓BREAKING BARRIERS IN TIME AND SPACE The first female to play the Doctor on Dr Who debuted to critical acclaim.

Now remember to share and like this page to help spread the inspiring news to keep the spirits up of all those working hard between now and November 6th!

DEMOCRATIC VOTERS ARE REGISTERED AND READY TO VOTE!

As you have probably already been told after this week’s Supreme Court vote, don’t despair, channel your anger into making change happen in November. What more can I say? With that attitude in mind, between now and the November election this weekly list may get shorter. Not because there are fewer actions and accomplishments by those seeking to save our democracy, but because I am using more of my time to help bring on a 2018 Blue Wave this November. Some of my new favorite ways of helping from home in spare minutes, when I am not out working with groups like Sister District is text-banking with OpenProgress.com, phone-banking with Indivisible and post card writing with PostcardsToVoters.org.  So if I miss anything you think worthy of a mention, please share in the comments for others to know about.  To remind you that all was not bad this week, here is the inspirational list of actions and accomplishments.  

🚶🚶🏿🚶🏼ELECTION PARTICIPATION Ballotpedia compiled a ,state by state comparison of voter turnout in primary elections that is worth a peruse. It shows Democratic voters increased by 77 percent between 2014 and 2018, Republican voters increased by 25 percent between 2014 and 2018, and the total number of primary voters increased by 48 percent between 2014 and 2018. Over 800,000 people, a record number,  registered to vote on National Voter Registration Day, surpassing the previous record set during the 2016 presidential campaign. Polls show that voter enthusiasm is slightly higher among voters who favor Democratic candidates and overall 61% of all registered voters say they are more enthusiastic about voting than in past congressional elections, higher than at any point during midterms in the past two decades.

💵 ELECTION FUNDRAISING The Crowdpac campaign to find the unnamed Democratic challenger to Senator Collins is now at 3.4 million dollars. Eleven Democratic House candidates have reported raising more than 2 million in the last three months, ahead of the October 15th federal reporting deadline.

🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS  A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction blocking the administration from ending the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) that allowed immigrants from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador to live and work legally in the United States. Another federal judge ruled San Francisco’s sanctuary laws comply with federal law, and attempts to deny federal funding based on them are unconstitutional. The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium launched “The Borderlands Get Free Bond Fund” to  help immigration detainees who can’t pay bond and there was an Interfaith Immigrant Prayer Vigil in Manchester.

⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE Starting with WAGES AND INCOME Amazon announced it is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all US employees effective November 1, and it applies to full-time, part-time and temporary workers. Emory University agreed to raise wages for graduate workers to the equivalent of $15 an hour for year-round, full-time work, a 29% wage increase for many. A Chicago city worker union and the Mayor agreed to a deal to give thousands of unionized city workers raises totaling 10.5 percent over the next few years. The Westchester County Board of Legislators (NY) passed a bill requiring private employers with 5 or more employees to provide up to 5 paid sick days. Atlanta Mayor announced the city will increase police pay by 30 percent over the next three years. A new guaranteed-income initiative was announced, the Magnolia Mothers Trust, which will provide African-American mothers with an average annual income of $11,300 living in public housing in Jackson (MS) with $1,000 per month for a year, no strings attached starting in December. The Fight for 15 is spreading and workers in Detroit are striking for better wages.

Along with EDUCATION The University of Montana was fined $966,614 for reporting “inaccurate and misleading” crime statistics in violation of The Jeanne Clery Act which requires colleges and universities that receive federal funds to report crime statistics so the public can assess campus safety. CONSUMER PROTECTION A national teachers union sued Navient, a student loan servicer, for allegedly misleading borrowers in public service professions in ways that prevented them from accessing a federal loan forgiveness program. The Kentucky Supreme Court’s banned the practice of requiring prospective workers to sign agreements that would require binding arbitration instead of lawsuits should they try to leave under duress. UNIONS Marriott hotel workers went on strike for better wages and benefits. A federal appeals court ruled an Illinois suburb does not have the right to establish a right-to-work-ordinance (FYI right-to-work laws are union busting efforts if the reference is confusing to you) and that only the state can enact those laws

☮️ SOCIAL JUSTICE Including NET NEUTRALITY California Gov. signed a bill restoring net neutrality protections that the FCC struck down last year, and which prohibits internet service providers from blocking or slowing access to legal online content, demanding special fees from websites to prioritize their traffic or charging customers for special exemptions to caps on their data use. AND BEACHES The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by California billionaire’s to keep a local beach to himself challenging a state law that says beach access is a fundamental right guaranteed to everyone.

👨🏿‍⚖️CRIMINAL JUSTICE  Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. California Gov signed two new laws give the public access to internal police investigations and video footage of shootings by police officers and other serious incidents.

🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT  The Illinois Pollution Control Board refused to adopt a proposal by the governor to relax limits on pollution from the state’s coal-fired power plants. The EPA announced J.G. MacLellan Concrete Co. will pay almost $150,000 to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act in MA and NH.  Nine nations and the EU agreed to halt commercial fishing in much of the arctic for the next 16 years. Denmark is banning the sale of new fossil-fueled cars starting in 2030.

👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S MOVEMENT The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a Congolese doctor and an Iraqi woman who once was a captive of the Islamic State group for their work to highlight and eliminate the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.  California passed a law that makes the state the first to require corporate boards of directors to include women.  In an unusual news release, the EEOC announced preliminary sexual harassment data for its 2018 fiscal year, sharing that it had filed 66 harassment lawsuits, including 41 with allegations of sexual harassment, a more than 50% increase over 2017. New charges filed with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment jumped by more than 12 percent over 2017, the first increase in at least 8 years. And the EEOC recovered nearly $70 million through litigation and other enforcement of sexual harassment issues in 2018, up from $47.5 million the year before.

BREAKING BARRIERS No matter the outcome of the election in November, the Montgomery County Board of Education (MD) will for the first time in the history be all female, since seven women are vying for four open seats on the board. The International Monetary Fund appointed Gita Gopinath its chief economist, making her the first woman appointed to the prestigious role. Frances Arnold won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, which only four other women in the world have won. Donna Strickland became the first woman in 55 years to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics and finally a Wikipedia page, which had previously been denied for lack of public recognition.

🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER Atlanta Mayor signed a bill renaming three city streets with Confederate in their names. The Madison City Council (WI) supported the removal of a Confederate monument from a cemetery, overturning a decision by the Landmarks Commission.

🕬 GUN REFORM A federal court ruled that New Jersey’s ban on 15-round magazines is constitutional. Pennsylvania legislature passed a bill to require people with a domestic violence ruling against them to more quickly surrender their guns and Governor promised to sign it.

🏳️‍🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS New Jersey schools must accept a student’s stated gender identity, but don’t have to notify parents about the student’s gender decision under new rules from the state Dept. of Education.

🕫🗳️FAIR AND ETHICAL VOTING starts with ACCESS TO THE BALLOT BOX A federal district court ruled that Common Cause New York, represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, LatinoJustice, and others may proceed with its lawsuit challenging the New York state widespread voter disenfranchisement in the 2016 election. FULL DISCLOSURE OF POLITICAL INFLUENCE California also passed a new law that bans automated accounts, known as “bots”, from pretending to be real people to influence elections, without disclosing they are “bots.” AND THE 2020 CENSUS The Supreme Court declined the administration’s request to block Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from having to give testimony in lawsuits challenging the addition of a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census, sending the issue back to a lower court.

💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE Peter Gemma resigned from the Sarasota (FL) GOP Executive committee after revelations he is linked to groups that are alleged to have racist, anti-semitic, and other extreme views. One woman stood up for others being harassed for speaking Spanish. Wikipedia banned Breitbart as a source of news. Four members of a racist and antisemitic group face federal charges of traveling to Charlottesville, Virginia, with the intent of rioting at the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017, and three were arrested.  A court ruled that an American family that underwent a harrowing detention by U.S. Customs and Border Protection can sue the agency.

🙂 LAWSUIT ROUNDUP The Dept. Of Justice indicted seven Russian intelligence officers on federal charges for allegedly conducting malicious cyber operations against the United States and its allies.

In case you didn’t notice, PEOPLE ALL OVER THE COUNTRY ARE WORKING FOR THE #BlueWave2018.  Here are some folks in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Puget Sound, at movie theaters, teacher headquarters, and a democratic golf cart parades in the heart of republican country, doing their part.  Over 300 Protests were held all over the country, men stood up to be arrested alongside women, people flew across country to be heard on the Supreme Court nominee.  10-6 protest

HEROES ABOUND!

From Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s stunning strength coming forward and testifying in front of Congress, to Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher, publicly airing their painful emotions about their sexual assault in front of a camera to Senator Flake in an elevator, I was moved by the bravery I saw to stand up against sexual predators and stand up for victims.  People from all over the country, and in many different ways stood up not just for Dr. Ford, but for all victims of sexual assault by showing up and protesting in D.C., at Congress, by filing the halls and offices of politicians with sit-ins, with a national walk-out moment, getting arrested trying to have their voices heard, by flooding congressional phone lines (how many time were you like me and got the “all circuits are busy” message from congressional switchboard?), writing letters and postcards, and in other ways imaginable.  This is a big fight with serious consequences, but it is not the only thing that activists, ordinary people, and organizations fought for or accomplished this week. We have a lot of good to inspire you and lift your spirits after another very difficult week.  After your done reading and being inspired, here are just three groups who are working hard to bring a democratic wave in the November elections and how you can join them and help.

  • Indivisible is training and coordinating phone-banking in five states. Check out the schedule and information.
  • Live in a Blue State, Sister District has teams in 17 states working to flip neighboring state house with postcards, canvassing, fundraising, and phone-banking, and
  • Flippable has GOTV calls to recently registered voters, text-banking, and other activities to flip congressional seats blue.

🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS  Arizona notified Southwest Key it intends to revoke the licenses of its Arizona shelters holding migrant children, after it failed to prove it is complying with required background checks.  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit by the ACLU seeking the right to counsel for children in immigration removal proceedings. U.S. immigration authorities temporarily halted for at the deportation of Francis Anwana, a deaf and disabled Detroit immigrant people have been rallying around.

⚖️ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL JUSTICE  Starts with WAGES The 40,000 workers at LaGuardia, Kennedy, and Newark airports in NY and NJ were awarded wage increases that put them on a part to earning at least $19 an hour within the next five years by a unanimous vote  by the commissioners of the agency that runs the airports. A federal court ruled that employers in Nevada and Arizona must pay their workers for time spent going through security screenings at the end of their shifts.  UNIONS A federal judge temporarily blocked a new North Carolina law that severely limited union activity by migrant farm workers.  Striking Chicago hotel workers settled with another of the hotels, leaving nine remaining.  WORKER’S RIGHTS Uber agreed to pay $148 million and take steps to tighten data security, after they failed for a year to notify drivers that hackers had stolen their personal information after being sued by states. Destination Hotels and Resorts, were sued by the EEOC for discrimination against employees for barring them from speaking Spanish on their properties. A new California law attempts makes big retailers, who pay the freight bill, liable for labor violations by the cargo carriers. The Governor of Maryland expanded state employees paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. HEALTH CARE  People who buy Affordable Care Act policies on Maryland’s health insurance exchange will see lower premiums next year after the state created a reinsurance fund to offset the risk to insurers in the individual market.  An executive at Memorial Sloan Kettering who received a stake of nearly $1.4 million in a biotech company for representing the hospital on its board has to give it back under questions about conflicts of interest.  California governor signed bills that prohibited “short-term” “junk” insurance and other plans that exclude pre-existing conditions and don’t have consumer protections and prohibits work requirements for Medicaid.  Congress passed a bill prohibiting “gag clauses” that prevent pharmacists from telling customers they can save money in some cases by paying cash for their prescriptions, instead of paying the insurance co-pay. RESPECT FOR CULTURE Alaska’s Gov. signed an order saying that the government must support the “revitalization” of native languages and calls for indigenous place names to be shown on public signs and directs the state’s Dept. of Ed. to work to promote indigenous languages in public schools and universities. Continue reading

FEARLESS WOMEN HAVE RECORD WINS ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL!

The weekly list of positivity is back after a short hiatus for a much needed rest to renew the spirit of this one woman’s endeavor to bring some GOOD NEWS to counter the hourly demoralizing attacks on our democracy.  The primaries have come to an end and both the large voter turnout and the success of many women and progressive candidates is heart-warming. But so are other things like the greatly increased readership of the phenomenal resource Ballotpedia.org, that reports on candidates, ballot initiatives, elections, etc., with an astonishing 1 billion page views by people looking to learn about elections, as is small donor donations to candidates, and people protesting against the Supreme Court nominee.  This week’s post will cover a lot of the good that has happened since the beginning of September.  While you were watching all the Kavanaugh and Manafort drama playing out other things were happening, I know it’s hard to believe, because if you are like me, every day feels like a year in a normal news cycle since the 2016 election; I’ve singled out some of my favorites for those who may not have the time to read the whole post.  I will return to weekly posts for the coming weeks leading up to the November elections.

  • #NoKavanaughConfirmation Somany have turned out to protest the Supreme Court nominee in so many ways, including sit-ins, civil disobedience, and red hand-maid shrouded messaging.
  • #StopICE Atlanta’s Mayor issued executive orders to permanently end the city’s relationship with I.C.E. and ordered I.C.E. to transfer all remaining I.C.E. detainees out of city jails.
  • #HealthCareForAll A federal judge rejected a request from a group of Republican-led states to suspend the Affordable Care Act.
  • #FreeCollege A U.S. District Court judge ruled the U.S. Dept. of Ed unlawfully delayed the implementation of  the federal student loan “Borrower Defense Regulations” meant to protect defrauded students in a case brought by 19 states.
  • #ThereIsNoPlanetB California passed laws banning full service restaurants from automatically providing customers with plastic single-use straws; mandates a goal of a 100 percent renewable energy supply by 2045, blocks the federal government efforts to allow drilling off the coast of the state; and bans testing of beauty products on animals.
  • #MyBodyMyChoice A U.S. District Judge struck down a Texas law that required hospitals and clinics to bury or cremate fetal remains.
  • #NoHate Twitter permanently banned Alex Jones and InfoWars for violating the company’s abusive behavior policies and PayPal has stopped doing business with them.
  • #TakeAKneeWithColin Nike selected Colin Kaepernick as the face of its “Just Do It” campaign for this year.
  • Read on for more inspiring news.

Continue reading