It is one of those weeks that I write this summary giddy with all the good news to report. We have many up and down weeks and when it comes to politics (and not natural disasters) the past week ending 9/30/17 was a good one. To help spread the good word I ask my readers to share the link to the blog post on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media you use, if you can.
ELECTION WINS – Two women helped flip seats from republican to democrat in special elections for NH and Florida state seats. In Florida State Senate District 40, Annette Taddeo won, beating the republican candidate and former contestant on “The Apprentice” and Kari Lerner won in the race for New Hampshire House of Representatives for Rockingham County No. 4. I’m not sure that Roy Moore’s win over Strange is really a good thing, given how he makes Steve Bannon look liberal, but I am happy that the candidate 45 endorsed and campaigned for lost. Want to help Doug Jones beat Roy Moore. Here is his volunteer website.
SAVING HEALTH CARE – In another nail bitter of a week, Senate Republicans failed to get the votes needed for another attempt at healthcare repeal and scrapped a planned vote, thanks to hundreds of thousands of calls, emails and texts, and hundreds of arrests by the people opposing the repeal.
PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed into law a bill that will expand the public funding of abortion in Illinois and will include Medicaid recipients and those covered under state health care plans. U.S. District Court Judge ruled provisions of Indiana’s “Fetal Funeral” law unconstitutional including prohibiting abortions solely because a fetus is diagnosed with a disability, made the identities of abortion providers public, required funerals for fetal remains, required women undergo an ultrasound at least 18 hours prior to having an abortion, and held doctors liable for violations of law. A U.S. District Court struck down a Kentucky law requiring a doctor to perform an ultrasound and show and describe the image of the fetus to the patient before providing an abortion.
LGBTQ RIGHTS – A Hong Kong appeals court ruled that a British lesbian whose partner works in the city should be granted a spousal visa. Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed that transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against Escambia County, FL seeking to establish precedent that Florida’s law against sex discrimination includes transgender people. Washington State is considering rules that would allow for non-binary options on birth certificates.
PROGRESS FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR AND WOMEN – A female Marine graduated from Infantry Officer Course, marking her the first woman to earn the 0302 infantry officer military occupational specialty. ESPN announced that Doris Burke will become the first regular ESPN NBA game analyst for a full regular-season. Stacey Fortes was sworn in as first justice of Lowell District Court, MA, making her the first woman and first African American to lead the court. Lataisia Jones became the first African American Ph.D. graduate from the Florida State University College of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience. Marc Benioff the CEO of Salesforce, redid its gender pay gap assessment and spent $3 million to rectify new pay discrepancies, after doing the same in 2015. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has issued a decree allowing women to drive for the first time. The U.S. Supreme Court granted a temporary stay of execution for a Georgia inmate whose attorneys argue that the 59-year-old black man’s death sentence was tainted by a juror’s racial bias.
PRESERVING THE PLANET – Washington state rejected a key permit needed for the proposed largest coal terminal to export U.S coal from western states to Asia. ExxonMobil announced it would reduce methane leaks and upgrade technology as part of an effort to reduce pollution. The EPA named a new administrator for the region encompassing NY, NJ, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands which had been vacant for 9 months. The Federal Highway Administration responded to a lawsuit brought by advocates by reinstating a federal requirement that state and local planners track and curb carbon pollution from vehicles on the highways. A Federal District Court Judge dismissed Alaska’s lawsuit and denied the state an exemption from the Roadless Rule, which prohibits new road construction in most areas of national forests. China announced it would revoke a third of its iron ore mining licenses, mostly belonging to small operations to reduce smog and outdated steelmaking capacity. South Korea announced plans to replace coal-fired power plants under construction with power turbines and reduce the number of diesel vehicles by offering incentives to switch from them.
STOPPING PRUITT AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EPA – Advocacy groups filed suit to force the EPA to ensure that Alabama and Mississippi have measures prohibiting conflicts of interest on state boards overseeing air pollution permits. A coalition of nine attorneys generals submitted comments to the EPA challenging the proposal to repeal Clean Water Rules. Maryland sued the EPA to force it to take action against out-of-state power plants for their air pollution as required by the Clean Air Act Environmental groups sued the EPA for failing to comply with a Freedom of Information request regarding records about the agency’s delay of wastewater treatment rules for power plants.
ECONOMIC JUSTICE – The administration finally issued a number of important waivers for Puerto Rico, a 10-day waiver of federal restrictions on foreign ships delivering cargo, a waiver of local government federal cost-sharing requirements for initial FEMA money, and a temporary EPA waiver allowing PR to burn high sulfur diesel in generators used for emergency purposes. Tacoma, WA increased mandated paid-leave law to align with state requirements and renewed its expanded enforcement capabilities allowing them to investigate any entire business and not just for individuals who file complaints. Last week the RI legislature passed a law requiring employers provide sick days, this week the Governor signed it. The California Labor Commissioner sued Calcrete Construction seeking $6,300,338 for unpaid overtime and sick leave by forcing workers to sign contracts saying they were independent contractors.
STATES AND CITIES DOING THE RIGHT THING – Washington state and Seattle separately sued makers of OxyContin, seeking to hold a pharmaceutical company accountable for opioid addiction epidemic arguing deceptively marketing that the drugs had a low risk of addiction and were effective for treating chronic pain.
OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS – A federal judge ruled that a Louisiana police officer could not sue Black Lives Matter after he was injured during a protest, saying the social movement could not be blamed for his injuries. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued Consolidated Edison for improperly requiring job applicants to submit to medical examinations and provide genetic information of family members before being hired.
STATUE AND BUILDING NAMING UPDATE – The Dallas Independent School District unanimously passed a resolution to fast-track changing the names of four schools honoring Confederate Generals. Philadelphia, PA put up a statute for Octavius Catto, the city’s first statute on public land honoring an African American. NASA opened the Katherine Johnson Computational Research Facility, named in honor of the pioneering African American mathematician.
THE INCREDIBLE REVOLVING DOOR ADMINISTRATION – Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, resigned (was fired) after it was revealed that he spent almost a million dollars in government funding chartering private planes for a mixture of government and personal travel. The acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration resigned after losing confidence in 45’s respect for the law.
FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT – Jared Kushner registered to vote in NY in 2009 and identified himself as female and prior to 2009 he was registered to vote in NJ and identified his gender as unknown, I’m glad he has figured it out and the administration finally has its first transgender employee. And tenants of apartment complexes owned by Kushner’s company brought a class-action lawsuit for improper rent charges and eviction proceedings. Ivanka has lowered the price on her NY apt for a second time, and still no takers at the now reduced $10,450 per month since November.
HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS – Corporations step up to help Puerto Rico. Chef José Andrés flew to PR with his crew to cook and feed thousands. CEO of Invicta Watch Group, Pitbull, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, used their private planes and Celebrity and Royal Caribbean cancelled cruises and used their ships to help bring relief supplies and transport those in need back from PR and the Caribbean.
AWESOME ACTIVISM – Silent protest greeted Betsy DeVos at Harvard and Georgetown Law professors kneel in protest of Jeff Sessions’ Speech. The superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, addressed cadets in a powerful speech repeatedly saying “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out,” after racial slurs were written outside black cadet rooms. Many NFL players and owners, including the NE Patriots, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins took knees during the anthem, locked arms, and publicly came together to denounce 45’s racist and divisive rants. RunForOffice.org announced that with the help of volunteers, 275 people have contributed over 3,000 hours of work to research 13,090 districts, resulting in the first publicly available and free searchable database with information about 81,361 school board positions for all school districts in the 50 states.
I hope this week’s edition left you feeling just a little more hopeful about the future and inspired to work on whatever local, state, or national issue or campaign is most important to you