It has been an unexpectedly violent and scary week at a time when many of us resistors were hoping for a moment to breathe with Congress and the twittler on vacation, so I truly hope that this week’s summary of what went right can help bring you a moment of peace – 8/12/17.
ELECTION WINS – Democrat Liz Zimmerman Keitt was re-elected to the Orangeburg South Carolina City Council after running unopposed. Phil Miller (D) won the 82nd House district of Iowa. At first glance, a deceased Democratic was replaced by another Democrat. What is interesting here is that he won 54/44 over the republican in a town evenly divided between registered Democrats and Republicans that swung heavily to the twittler by a 58/37 margin and the GOP candidate tried to paint Miller as a liberal extremist because he supported a transgender student as a school board member.
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – Chicago sued the administration over its plan to withhold law enforcement grants from “sanctuary cities” alleging the policy forces cities to choose between the money or fulfilling their constitutional obligations. A federal judge dismissed Texas’ efforts to have a “sanctuary cities” ban preemptively declared constitutional allowing the state’s largest cities, including Houston and Dallas, to proceed on a separate federal lawsuit they brought seeking to stop the law. An immigration appeals court dismissed the final deportation order for Romulo Avelica -Gonzalez, an undocumented immigrant living in the U.S. for 25 years, who was detained in February as he dropped his daughter off at school and remanded his case back to the local immigration court.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND ENDING MASS INCARCERATION –Legislation takes effect in New Mexico to curb the ability of law enforcement to seize property, requiring they prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the item they want to confiscate were involved in criminal activity, which is a higher standard than the old one which only required they prove by a link between the property and a crime by a “preponderance of evidence.” District Attorneys in New York City moved to dismiss 644,000 outstanding arrest warrants for minor offenses at least 10 years old, which stemmed from the now-discredited belief that petty offenses, like riding a bike on the sidewalk or drinking in public, could lead to more serious crimes and which disproportionately affected minority neighborhoods. Hundreds of thousands of people will no longer have to live in fear of the old warrants for minor infractions. The SPLC and ACLU sued Baton Rouge, Louisiana for coercing defendants into paying hundreds of dollars to a private company for “supervision” before releasing them from jail, even after they paid their bail
LGBTQ RIGHTS – GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed suit against 45, Defense Secretary Mattis, and other military leaders on behalf of five transgender members of the U.S. military challenging his tweet announcing a ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces. U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said he believes “any patriot” should be allowed to serve, including those who are transgendered. Disney’s popular show Doc McStuffins aired an episode with 2-mom family.
SAVING THE PLANET – A new report from the EPA found that since the passage of the Clean Air Act the economy has more than tripled and the number of vehicle miles traveled every year has nearly doubled, while the nation’s population and annual energy consumption has surged, and shows that clean air and economic growth can happen together. Now if only there was an administration official capable of reading and understanding this report. Los Angeles Mayor ordered city inspectors to track whether required air filtration systems are being installed in new homes near freeways, and is enhancing building inspection software to track and capture statistics related to their installation. In a partial victory, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA can remove ozone-depleting HFCs from the list of acceptable substances for companies to use, but only if the company hasn’t already phased out ozone-depleting gases.
DAVID VS GOLAIATH – A State District Judge in New Mexico rejected a challenge to the Albuquerque Minimum Wage Ordinance. Oregon Gov. signed the country’s first statewide employee scheduling law requiring big companies in retail, hospitality, and food service to give employees schedules at least a week ahead of time, and offer stress pay to workers who don’t get a 10-hour break between shifts, and by 2020 employers covered by the law will have to provide schedules two weeks in advance. UE Local 1121 members voted to ratify an agreement with Aramark, winning the strongest contract ever for the workers with 40 cents an hour wage increase, paid sick days, and a stronger safety committee after months of struggle by the laundry workers where they united to stage a walkout.
PROGRESS FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR AND WOMEN – Bikers gathering for the 77th Sturgis Motorcycle rally have named Jessi Combs their first ever female grand marshal. Portland Oregon named Danielle Outlaw, the first African -American Police Chief for the city. Col. Denise Donnell takes charge of the 105th Airlift Wing becoming the first woman to command a NY Air National Guard’s flying wing. Lena Waithe is the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. Daniel Hahn was sworn in as Sacramento’s first black police chief. Salt Lake County, Utah elected Rosie Rivera as their first female sheriff and she will be the state’s first female Latina sheriff.
PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH – A US Court of Appeals ruled that nonreligious anti-abortion organizations must follow the ACA contraceptive mandate.
STATES AND CITIES DOING THE RIGHT THING – A New Mexico law takes effect that repeals the requirement for fingerprinting of public benefit recipients after it was determined the cost to administer it exceeded any fraud that was prevented. California’s attorney general sued the administration seeking the conflict-of-interest rules from the EPA Chief Scott Pruitt.
FEDERAL AGENCIES STILL DOING THEIR JOB – A U.S. District Court judge denied the motion to dismiss a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lawsuit against the student loan servicing company Navient for providing bad service and advice to 6 million students and steering them to more costly loans.
CONTROLLING GUNS – The Washington Supreme Court upheld Seattle’s tax on gun and ammunition sales. The city has been imposing the tax of $25 per firearm and 2 or 5 cents per round of ammunition since 2015.
THOSE PESKY THINGS CALLED FREE PRESS, FREE SPEECH, AND FREEDOM OF RELIGION – Georgetown University has launched the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection’s to bring together expert prosecutors and students to litigate high-profile cases to defend constitutional rights in matters such as discrimination, immigration, national security, privacy and whistle-blower protection. The ACLU filed federal lawsuits against the Maryland and Kentucky Governors accusing them of unconstitutionally censoring constituents’ speech by blocking some social media users and deleting their comments from their official pages.
WTF – An assistant police chief for the city of Estherwood, Louisiana resigned after sharing a racist meme on his Facebook page. Turns out you do get paid to be a protester, if you are willing to work for 45, and you are willing to wait 4 months for the promised pay which the FEC will have to help you get. As you know I don’t usually comment on the Russia investigation, but I will note that investigators for the special counsel on Russia executed a no-knock search warrant at the home of Paul Manafort. Jeffrey Lord, 45’s Defender on CNN, was fired for using a nazi slogan.
AWESOME AND CREATIVE ACTIVISM – Giant inflatable Trump chicken on the Eclipse outside the White House. Hundreds community residents and political leaders gathered outside the firebombed Mosque in Minnesota to send a message of support for the community. The deadline for public comment on a federal review of expansions to national marine sanctuaries and national monuments has been extended to Aug. 14, because of large public interest and requests for additional time. EMILY’s List is growing and they are adding space for a new conference room and another 25 to 30 staffers, they have nearly tripled their state and local staff, and they’ve built their training program into a stand-alone department, all to accommodate the continuing growth in demand already at 16,000 and growing by 20-50 per day. The owners of Cafe Zola in Ann Arbor Michigan turned away two immigration agents who came to the restaurant to look for an unnamed person. Charlottesville came together and fought off the nazi’s and white supremacists that came to their city, some giving their lives in the process.
This week please join a rally in solidarity of Charlottesville, comment on marine sanctuaries, register to vote if you aren’t already because deadlines are approaching in many cities, and do something to care for your mental health.