PART TWO – The Other good Stuff From the week ending 8/19/17
DECRIMINALIZING MARIJUANA – In a first of its kind ruling, a judge in California would not allow two defendants charged with violating federal laws for growing marijuana to plead guilty as part of a plea deal, holding that the Congressional budget rule forbidding federal law enforcement from interfering with states where medical marijuana is legal required the dismissal of the case regardless of a plea deal.
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS –California is the first state to announce that they are suing the Department of Justice over the “sanctuary city” restrictions on selected public safety funds to counties that limit cooperation with federal immigration law enforcement. San Francisco followed suit.
SAVING HEALTHCARE – The administration announced they would make the next upcoming payment to insurance companies for subsidies that are critical to keeping the industry stable.
ENDING MASS INCARCERATION –The New York City Council’s bail fund officially launched operations, which provides bail to low-level offenders facing misdemeanor charges who cannot afford to post bail..
LGBTQ SUPPORT – Cincinnati Council member held a rally at city hall to welcome transgender people to apply for positions in their police department. The NHL publicly came out against the Texas “bathroom bill.”
PROGRESS FOR WOMEN AND PEOPLE OF COLOR – Cassie Olive is the first woman to pass the requirements for training for the ground artillery forces with the U.S. Marines. Prince William County is naming a new elementary school after the first African American to serve on the school board. The Utah Court of Appeals for the first time has a majority female membership — four women and three men. The University of North Texas Regents selected Lesa Roe, who is currently acting as NASA’s second in command, as the sole finalist for the position of chancellor. Wells Fargo named Elizabeth Duke as the first female board chairperson in its 165-year history. Philadelphia is getting its first statue honoring an African American on its public land
SAVING THE PLANET ONE STATE AT A TIME –Massachusetts regulators released their plan to tackle greenhouse gas emissions to comply with a court order to properly implement a 9 year old clean air law. The new rules require utilities produce 80 percent of their power from low-carbon sources by 2050, creates a cap-and-trade program for 21 fossil fuel power plants, lower emissions from vehicles operated by the state, decreasing transportation sector emissions and a reduction in methane leaks along natural gas distribution lines. A U.S. District Court Judge ruled experimental seawalls on South Carolina Islands, which were installed to protect private beachfront property must be removed because they interfere with the turtle nesting of threatened and endangered species. California is tightening the rules on the pesticide use Chlorpyrifos by putting it on a list of chemicals known to be harmful to humans and to increase the distance from schools and homes in which farmers can apply it. The City of Waterbury, Conn. and the EPA have entered into a consent decree to install emission control equipment to limit the discharge of pollution to the atmosphere at a city owned incinerator.
STOPPING THE ADMINISTRATION FROM DESTROYING THE PLANET The NRDC and other groups are suing the EPA over the issuance of a set of rules it issued making it easier to ignore chemical risks and disregard harmful exposures under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The Department of Interior announced they will not make any threatened changes to the Sand to Snow National Monument in California, a 154,000-acre monument of trails, which was created last year after the public comment period. The Sierra Club sued the Department of Energy for its failure to comply with a Freedom of Information request for records about internal deliberations and outside communications over a key study on the reliability of the electric grid.
ECONOMIC JUSTICE – A State District Judge dismissed a lawsuit trying to keep a local initiative requiring employers provide sick leave off the ballot in the upcoming election in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Forever GI Act was signed into law expanding the veterans’ education bill by removing the 15-year time limit on the use of GI benefits, increasing assistance for National Guard and Reserve members, providing benefits to Purple Heart recipients whose injuries forced them to leave the service, and allow benefits to be transferred to dependent of those killed in the line of duty., among others. Elk Grove School District in California and Cumberland and Waverly districts in Rhode Island will no longer give students an “alternative” meal if their cafeteria bills aren’t paid up. Instead, students will get the normal meal, ending lunch shaming.
STATES AND CITIES DOING THE RIGHT THING –Bathroom bill is dead for now, as is limiting local property tax increases and a bill protecting motorists who hit demonstrators (yes you read that right) in Texas. The Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved for circulation three petitions seeking to put initiatives on the ballot in 2018 to create an independent citizen redistricting commission, require employers to offer paid sick leave and legalize all forms of marijuana.
ELECTION WINS –Democrat and Haitian immigrant, Nirva LaFortune, won election to the Provincetown, Rhode Island City Council in a landslide.
FEDERAL AGENCIES STILL DOING THEIR JOB – The U.S Court of Appeals ruled that the termination of a private lawsuit against an employer for discrimination doesn’t bar the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from investigating the allegations. Ford Motor Co. agreed to pay $10.1 million to settle sexual and racial harassment charges brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Ford personnel harassed female and African-American employees and retaliated against them when they complained about the problems.
THOSE PESKY THINGS CALLED FREE PRESS, FREE SPEECH, AND FREEDOM OF RELIGION – Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Verizon, Microsoft, Snap, and others have filed a brief with the Supreme Court in a case they are scheduled to hear next term arguing that their users’ data should be protected from warrant-less search and seizure by the government.
BECAUSE SCIENCE MATTERS – Researchers at Perdue University have discovered a new reaction mechanism that could be used to improve catalyst designs for pollution control systems to further reduce emissions of smog-causing nitrogen oxides in diesel exhaust.
AWESOME ACTIVISM – Over 100 protesters marched on the Cook County Court for a pretrial hearing in the murder proceedings against Officer Jason Van Dyke for shooting Laquan McDonald, a Black teenager.
SECURING VOTING RIGHTS – United States District Court for the Western District of Texas invalidated two of Texas’ congressional districts, concluding that they violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting power of minorities.
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE – A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals judge affirmed a lower court decision that religious instruction is not one of the educational needs that a public school must provide under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
WTF – 45’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski allegedly threatened to use his “political clout” against his neighbors in a land dispute.
THE NEVER ENDING REVOLVING DOOR – Of course Bannon was the big news of the week. I’m still shedding tears (of joy) but there were others, including Richard Staropoli, Dave Devries, and Sean Kelley, the chief information officers of the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Personnel Management, and the EPA respectively.