We have now survived six months of a twittler presidency so I am taking a moment to reflect back on the past six months and create my own personal list of the good for me as a result of the election before I get to the regular weekly what went right for 7/22/17.
I have met hundreds of really cool, inspiring, strong, and committed people who stand for and believe in progressive values, making many new friends along the way. I had a wonderful weekend trip to DC with over half a million of my friends. I have grown closer to my friends after spending countless hours with them making posters, writing postcards, attending protests and fundraisers and I have come to learn that I am proud of the character of the people who have been a part of my life for years.
I have learned about all the planning and hard work that goes into putting together protests, fundraisers, and civil disobedience. I have been trained on many new legal skills and how to keep people safe at a protest and put those skills to good use providing legal assistance to protestors and immigrants. I have learned how to be more supportive of, and act in a way that makes those differently abled and different from me feel more included. I am so much more educated and knowledgeable about topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement, abortion access across of the country, and mundane things like federal rule making, methane gas regulations and Dodd-Frank regulations. Not only do I know my elected officials, but I have their numbers on speed dial, and I am well versed in the names of dozens of legislators, the committees they sit on, their state, and how they voted on key issues. I can find the status of a bill in every state with one hand tied behind my back.
The walls of my home are filled with colorful, creative, witty, handmade, inspiring posters. I made old and new friends happy when I learned how to crochet and started making piles of pink pussy hats to share with them. I was able to use my money not just to buy unnecessary material things, but to become a new “card carrying” member of so many great organizations such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, SPLC, HIAS, National Lawyers Guild, and the NRDC. I have freed up space in my apartment by using the Facebook group “pay it forward’ to send my surplus medical supplies to those in need from states that haven’t expanded Medicaid.
I have stronger leg and arm muscles from countless hours of marching and sign holding. I am grateful that I am alive to write this summary because I still have life-saving healthcare, have not been obliterated in a nuclear war or had my family separated because of immigration laws. I would love for you to share in the comments what positive things happened for you in the past six months as a result of the election.
Now on to your regularly scheduled edition of What Went Right for the week ending 7-22-17
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – The Supreme Court has allowed the lower court ruling expanding the exemptions for extended family members such as grandparents to stand. Homeland Security has authorized an increase of 15,000 H-2B visas for low-wage, seasonal workers in fisheries, hospitality and other industries a 45% increase in the number of visas normally issued. NYC Commission on Human Rights brought a civil complaint against a landlord who reported his tenants to ICE after they filed a complaint about him to a city agency in violation of a city law that prohibits discrimination based on immigration status or national origin. Laredo voted to join the lawsuit against the Texas bill prohibiting “sanctuary cities”.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – Montana Gov. signed bills reforming the state’s bail sentencing policy to reduce prison populations, including creating a risk assessment tool for determining bail and expanding release without bail before trials. Seattle’s Mayor ordered the police dept. to equip officers with body cameras. The Chief Judge of Cook County, Ill., ordered judges in Chicago to determine whether a “defendant has the ability to pay the amount necessary” and not set bail so high that they are forced to remain in jail because they cannot afford bail. CT passed civil forfeiture laws that require property be returned to its owner if the prosecutors do not secure a guilty verdict or a plea bargain.
LOVE IS LOVE – A U.S. District Judge ordered Kentucky to pay $221,695 in attorney’s fees to the same-sex couples who sued the Rowan County Clerk for refusing to give them marriage licenses saying “Davis represented Kentucky when she refused to issue marriage licenses to legally eligible couples. The buck stops there.” Despite dismissing a lawsuit challenging a new law defining terms by their ‘natural meaning,’ the Davidson County Chancellor declared that same-sex couples in TN have the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to designations on birth certificates after artificial insemination. Allentown, PA, City Council and RI passed laws banning gay conversion therapy for minors.
DECRIMINALIZING MARIJUANA – The MA Supreme Court ruled a woman who was fired for testing positive for marijuana that she had been legally prescribed under state law could sue her former employer for handicap discrimination. NH passed a law decriminalizing marijuana, making it the 22nd state to eliminate jail time for those convicted of simple possession.
PROTECTING THE PLANET – UK Environment Secretary announced that microbeads will be banned in the UK after growing evidence of environmental harm caused by the tiny plastic particles. CA approved a 10-year extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions as well as legislation aimed at improving air quality. Environmental Integrity Project sued the EPA alleging it failed to police pollution enforcement by Texas. Rooftop solar panels will be required for all new residential construction in South Miami, FL. A federal judge ruled that the permits authorizing the DAPL to cross the Missouri River near the Standing Rock reservation violated the law and ordered additional hearings.
SAVING HEALTH CARE – A bipartisan group of 11 governors issued a statement urging congress not to repeal the ACA, including OH, MT, MD, LA, AK, CO, MA, PA, VT, VA, and NV. Major portions of the Republican bill to repeal and replace the ACA fall under the Byrd Rule, according to the Senate parliamentarian, making it unlikely to survive a vote. Under the Byrd rule, the Senate is prohibited from considering extraneous matter as part of a reconciliation bill and the offending provision or amendment is stricken unless a 3/5 Senate majority vote to waive the rule.
DEFENDING WOMEN – The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood sued Texas over the law that prohibits D&C abortions. A U.S. District Judge issued a temporary restraining order against anti-choice activists requiring them to stay away from a “buffer zone” outside Kentucky’s last abortion clinic, in a pre-emptive move sought by federal prosecutors in advance of scheduled protests. A federal judge found an anti-abortion activist known for clandestine videos and his lawyers in contempt after secret recordings appeared online in violation of the judge’s injunction against releasing videos. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an order that Missouri pay $156,000 in Planned Parenthood’s legal bills tied to a dispute over a clinic’s abortion license. A jury awarded $2.2 million in damages to a former Iowa Senate Republican caucus staffer who accused her male supervisors of ignoring a “boys’ club” culture at the republican controlled Statehouse that fostered rampant sexual harassment.
STATES AND CITIES DOING THE RIGHT THING – Starting in 2018 NYC will require art and cultural institutions vying for city grants to provide information during the application process about what they’re doing to address “equity and inclusion”, including reporting demographic information of their staff and board, and requiring a plan for “measurable goals” for diversifying. A NY Appellate Court held that contract clauses barring employees from commencing class actions against their employers are unenforceable and violate the NLRA.
FEDERAL AGENCIES STILL DOING THEIR JOB – The Treasury Department fined Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating sanctions that the United States imposed on Russia in 2014 while Rex Tillerson was the company’s chief executive. The EPA approved new criteria for levels of mercury in California fish.
THOSE PESKY THINGS CALLED FREE PRESS, FREE SPEECH, AND FREEDOM OF RELIGION – Thanks to lawsuits by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the Knight First Amendment Institute, the visitor logs from Mar-a-Lago will be made public. The lawsuit for Trump Tower and the WH logs is still pending. The U.S. House rejected a provision in the military spending bill that would have required the Dept. of Defense to study “the use of …Islamic religious doctrine to support extremist or terrorist messaging” with Rep. Ellison saying we should study what motivates people to commit acts of terrorism but this amendment singles out and stigmatizes one religious group.
THE ADMINISTRATIONS NEVER ENDING REVOLVING DOOR – While each individual firing/withdrawal may not always be significant, the overall inability to recruit and keep high level employees and appointments has the effect of slowing the administration’s effort to send us back to the 1800’s. This week they lost Sean Spicer and the spokesman for 45’s legal team. What will Melissa McCarthy do now? And will Sessions be next? Fingers crossed.
AROUND THE WORLD – Ireland announced that the minimum wage will increase by 30c per hour rising to €9.55 starting in 2018. Lebanon appointed its first woman ambassador to the UN. Nayarit became the third state in Mexico to allow modifications to birth certificates for gender identity reasons. ITV, Britain’s biggest commercial broadcaster, appointed their first female CEO. Baroness Hale was nominated as Britain’s next president of the Supreme Court, and will be the first female top judge for the country.
BREAKING BARRIERS IN TIME AND SPACE – The British show Dr. Who revealed that when the current Doctor regenerates they will be played by Jodie Whittaker, she will be the 13th iteration and first women Time Lord. Boise, Idaho appointed Pam Glorioso as the first woman to hold the position of Chief Administrative Officer. The Navy announced it has its first female candidate for the SEAL team. U. Renee Hall was appointed the first woman chief of the Dallas, TX, Police Dept. and her appointment means women of color now hold the top three law enforcement jobs in Dallas, with Sheriff Valdez and District Attorney Johnson. Rochester, NY swore in their first African-American woman firefighter. Maj. Gen. Gordon was named the commander of the Alabama National Guard, the first woman to hold the post.
ELECTION WIN – Democrat Kris Schultz won a NH House special election in Concord by 284 to 82.
AWESOME ACTIVISM – Arkansans activists flooded the offices of their senators to protest healthcare with police arresting at least nine. Demonstrators from Ultraviolet, protested for 3 days at the U.S. Women’s Open at the Trump National Golf Course, including flying a plane banner reading “USGA: Stand with Women, not Trump” over the course and using a digital billboard truck encircling the property to flash comments. Ashley Smith, a transgender woman posed with the Texas Governor and posted her photo on Facebook with the caption “How will the Potty Police know I’m transgender if the Governor doesn’t?” hashtag #BATHROOMBUDDY which went viral. More than a dozen Texas based corporations, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, AT&T, BNSF Railway, Texas Instruments, and Kimberly-Clarke, sent a joint letter to the TX Gov. saying the proposed “bathroom bill” law will hurt the state’s ability to compete economically. Teens celebrated their quinceañera by protesting on the steps of the Texas capitol against a law allowing local police to question the immigration status of anyone they detain.
Republicans yet again lacked the votes to replace or repeal the ACA. Don’t let your guard down and don’t stop fighting against all the proposed harm to voting rights, the right to choose, the environment, civil and LGBTQ rights, tax un-reform, and financial protections. Now is a good time to tweet, Instagram, email, text, and call your representatives about other issues you care about.