Let me start this week’s list of what went right (6/24/17) by saying that there is a groundswell of change happening at the local level and a new wave of thousands of progressive leaders are running for school boards, city councils and other positions in their communities. In time they will rise to the top to be our Mayors, Members of Congress, and Governors. I will continue to have hope for the future. There is much to be grateful for and proud of this week.
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – Houston lawmakers voted to join the other cities challenging the states ‘anti-sanctuary cities’ bill. The Supreme Court ruled that a naturalized immigrant can’t be stripped of their citizenship for making false statements during the naturalization process that are irrelevant to an immigration official’s decision to grant or deny citizenship. Minneapolis dropped all the criminal charges against Ariel Vences Lopez , the immigrant wrongly asked about his immigration status in violation of city policy. Both Nashville TN and Salinas CA voted to restrict local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration officials. The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit to halt the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi nationals recently rounded up in raids arguing that ICE must give them an opportunity to prove they could face torture or death if returned to Iraq. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of an immigrant whose lawyer was incompetent and falsely told him that pleading guilty to a drug charge would not lead to his deportation and held that he should be able to reopen the proceedings against him and take his chances at trial.
SAVING THE PLANET – A group of Conservation groups filed notice of intent to sue the EPA for failing to ensure that Mississippi and Alabama have measures to prohibit conflicts of interest on state boards that approve and enforce Clean Air Act pollution permits. Many residents of Ottawa County Oklahoma are suing Michelin and B.F. Goodrich to hold them responsible for their alleged negligence in discharging dangerous chemicals at their local facility. Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice filed suit against the EPA for delaying implementation of the revised rules related to pesticides such as mandatory age minimums and better training for pesticide applicators to protect workers and the public from poisoning (belated report).
PRIDE MONTH PROGRESS – The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Quality of Life Advisory Commission held its first meeting after years of work by city staffers, activists and elected officials to establish it. California’s Attorney General has restricted state-funded or state-sponsored travel for state employees from business trips to Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota since those states passed measures limiting the rights of LGBT people.
WINNING FOR CIVIL RIGHTS – The U.S. Supreme Court held that a defendant is entitled to an expert who is independent from the prosecutor to gauge their health when they face the death penalty. The 11th Circuit Ct of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that prevented the ACLU from obtaining records regarding the use of cell phone tracker technology by the Sarasota Police Department. The ACLU sued the DC police for improperly using pepper spray and flash-bang grenades without warning or justification, and holding demonstrators (including a photojournalist and legal observer) without food, water or access to toilets, among other actions on Inauguration Day. A federal judge ruled that a cross located in a public Florida park must be removed after the American Humanist Association sued stating it made them feel unwelcome – that pesky constitutional separation of church and state.
PROTECTING A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE – NY Attorney General filed a lawsuit against a coalition of anti-choice protesters who harass and threaten patients, escorts, and staff at a women’s medical center that provides abortion services. Delaware Governor signed legislation removing restrictions on abortions from state law and guaranteeing women the right to seek the procedure even if federal law changes.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – Louisiana became the first state to prohibit all public universities from asking applicants about their criminal history. A federal judge branded Wisconsin’s juvenile prison for boys as a “troubled institution” for placing too many inmates in isolation and over-reliance on pepper spray and shackles in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU.
ENDING SCHOOL LUNCH SHAMING – The Amherst-Pelham MA school district approved a policy that provides that every student with a regular lunch, no matter what their overdue lunch balance is and does not allow for the student to be approached regarding money owed. Virginia mom Adelle Settle helped raise $1,700 in 48 hours to help pay off school lunch debt at local schools.
NO MORE CHILD BRIDES – NY’s Governor followed through on his promise to sign legislation to increase the age of consent for marriage from 14 to 18 and will requires parental and judicial permission for marriage between 17 and 18 year olds in New York. The CT Governor also signed legislation that bars anyone under age 16 from legally marrying and requires 16-17-year-olds to get court permission to marry. Does your state allows “child brides”?
PROGRESS FOR WOMEN AND PEOPLE OF COLOR – France voted a record number of women into parliament, 223 of the 577 newly elected lawmakers were women, beating the previous record of 155. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi appointed Kelly Quintanilla the first female president. Steelton PA Council appointed Maria Marcinko Mayor, making her the borough’s first woman to hold the position. Gordon Cuffy was appointed as a County Court Judge and will be the first African-American to handle felony criminal cases in Onondaga County, NY.
AROUND THE WORLD – The European Court of Human Rights ruled that a Russian law that bans gay “propaganda” encourages homophobia and discrimination. An Australian MP became the first woman to breastfeed in parliament and none of the other parliamentarians made a fuss about it. In an address to Parliament, Queen Elizabeth pledged that “My government will make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation.”
AWESOME ACTIVISM – Jay Z announced that following in the footsteps of the Mother’s day action to bail moms out of jail he was donating money to do the same for fathers on father’s day. The photo of RI teacher of the year Nikos Giannopoulos’ visit to the Oval Office wearing a rainbow pin on his suit jacket and casually waving a lacy black fan alongside Trump went viral. Activists subtly transformed 25 pedestrian crossing signs in NJ towns by adding black pussy hat stickers to the signs.
INTERESTING TIDBITS – The Kansas Secretary of State Kobach was fined $1,000 by a Judge stating that his “deceptive conduct and lack of candor warrant the imposition of sanctions” in his response to discovery requests in the ACLU suit regarding voting rights. Halima Aden’s is the first woman to wear a hijab on the cover of Allure magazine.
Now all I ask this week is non-stop calls, faxes, emails, texts, tweets, protests, carrier pigeon, pizza delivery messages, and any other forms of communication you can think of to help stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Contact your elected official no matter what side of the issue they are on. Make your voice heard.