This week’s (11/18/17) delayed recap is extra-long since last week I only included all the inspiring elections results and not all the other good. Coming out later tonight is a summary of meaningful wins in some smaller races around the country not covered last week. I hope you are feeling rejuvenated by all this winning. The highlights for the past weeks include;
- Democrat Allison Ikley-Freeman was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate as Tulsa County’s first openly gay legislator, flipping the seat blue.
- New Orleans (LA) elected progressive democrat LaToya Cantrell the first woman mayor and Cyndi Nguyen the first member of the Vietnamese community to serve on the City Council.
- Australians overwhelmingly voted “yes” in the survey to change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
- A US. District Judge ruled the administration cannot withhold law enforcement grants from Philadelphia under its “sanctuary cities” ban.
- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the Commonwealth Court to decide a gerrymandering in time for the 2018 elections, in a case challenging districts drawn to favor republicans.
- Homeland Security reversed its decision and agreed to accept renewal applications for DACA that arrived late due to postal delays.
- Thousands of immigrants and advocates occupied the Hart Senate building, and thousands more protested at other locations across the country and walked out of classes to demand Congress act to protect DACA.
- Montgomery County (MD) passed legislation raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021.
BECAUSE MONUMENTS, NAMES, AND DOLLS MATTER – Kalispell School Board (MT) voted to name a new school after Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the House of Representatives. Montgomery County (NC) is eliminating most of its funding to the Uwharrie volunteer fire department for refusing to take down its confederate flag and will replace their name on the county owned trucks with new graphics that show the county’s support of equal rights and freedom of speech. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and an African-American history museum announced it will open in Montgomery (AL) in April 2018 and will include a memorial to the 4,000 black Americans hanged, or otherwise murdered from the late 1800s to 1950s. Mattel announced the upcoming release of the first ever Barbie to wear a hijab (no matter your views on her she is played with by millions of children). New York announced statues depicting suffragists Sojourner Truth and Rosalie Jones would be installed in NY. Charges were dropped against three of the 13 protesters charged with destroying a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina back in August.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – Two new apps Appolition and Bail Bloc were released that help raise money to help low-income defendants with bail relief. The ACLU sued Nevada, alleging that indigent defense in rural counties is constitutionally inadequate and that El Paso County requiring a fee for a pre-trial jail release program is unfair and unconstitutional to people living in poverty. As a result of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and others, Sherwood (AR) has agreed to a settlement requiring that they not jail or issue arrest warrants for people because they can’t afford to pay their debts and offer community service and other alternatives in lieu of court fines.
MOVING FORWARD ON LGBTQ RIGHTS – The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled sections of the state’s domestic violence law that allowed disparate treatment of same-sex couples unconstitutional “as applied”, thereby allowing the law protecting domestic violence victims to stand, and invalidating only its application to heterosexual couples. The California State Board of Education voted to approve LGBTQ+-inclusive history textbooks for K-8 students, becoming the first U.S. state to do so The South Portland School Board approved a policy to protect transgender students, allowing restrooms us based on gender asserted and access to reasonable alternative facilities if they request additional privacy. The highest court in Germany ruled that a third sex covering intersex people must be included on official documents, becoming the first European country to make the change. The Montana Senate did not have the votes to pass a bill that would have stopped the state from making it easier for transgender Montanans to change the sex listed on their birth certificates through rule making. Transgender students in NJ will be eligible to play the high school sports that match their gender identity without a revised birth certificate or a doctor’s certification, under a policy approved by the NJSIAA. The New York City Transit Authority told employees to use gender neutral phrases to be more inclusive when making announcements for passengers. Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced he would not march in the city’s Veterans Day parade because “it will include groups carrying the Confederate flag
BREAKING GLASS CEILINGS BIG AND SMALL – Retail start-up Stitch Fix, is the first female-led tech company to go public in more than a year. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra appointed its first female President and CEO. Britain’s House of Lords, appointed a woman to the role of “Black Rod” for the first time in the office’s 650-year history, the Black Rod is in charge of the major ceremonial events in the Palace of Westminster. Abilene Christian University welcomed its first woman chair of its governing body. Jesmyn Ward is the first woman author to win the prestigious National Book Award twice, with her recent win for Sing, Unburied, Sing. The Niles (OH) Police Department hired their first female officer. The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety appointed it first woman chief.
STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS – A U.S. District Court ordered Homeland Security and ICE to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) regarding the warrants and other information used to conduct raids and said their failure to do so was “troubling” and they must now demonstrate to the court’s satisfaction that it has made an adequate effort to comply. The Washington State Supreme Court approved a rule that makes evidence about a person’s immigration status “generally inadmissible” in civil and criminal courts statewide unless lawyers establish a compelling reason to raise the issue. Several North Texas police departments announced that if stopped or questioned, immigrants without state-issued ID will be allowed to identify themselves with other paperwork, such as utility bills etc.
SAVING THE PLANET – A study by the University of Exeter found that the expansion of urban greenery improved respiratory health in heavily polluted urban neighborhoods. The administration announced they are putting the plans to allow elephant trophies to be imported on hold after public outcry. If approved Pilgrim’s Pride will pay more than 1.4 million dollars and agree to reduce waste and pollution at its Sewanee County chicken processing plant to settle a lawsuit by the Sierra Club for polluting the Suwannee River. Ohio filed a lawsuit against Rover Pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners (the folks that brought us DAPL), for allegedly polluting waterways during construction of a pipeline to transport natural gas from Pennsylvania across Ohio to Michigan and Canada. A California appeals court upheld a ruling ordering paint companies to pay more than $1 billion for the harm caused by the lead in their paint knowing it was harmful. Syria joins the Paris Climate Agreement, which now includes every country except the U.S. Two children, backed by the Clean Air Council, sued the administration to stop them from scrapping pollution-reduction rules claiming they are suffering from the effects of climate change and the administration is ignoring the reality of climate change and using “junk science” resulting in death and destruction.” A Harrisburg-area farm sued the DAPL pipeline for failure to keep its promise to restore their land after construction.
FEDERAL AGENCIES STILL DOING THEIR JOB – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has sued Think Finance, a financial technology company for its “role in deceiving consumers into repaying loans that were not legally owed” and Freedom Debt Relief, one of the large debt relief companies, alleging they charged consumers fees without delivering the promised services Rick Moseley, Sr., was found guilty of federal charges from his operation of a payday lending scheme that used predatory practices that took advantage of consumers and faces 20 years in jail. In two cases brought by the EEOC, a U.S. District Court ordered a company to pay two teens who lost their jobs when they questioned the restaurant about pay discrimination, back pay and punitive damages and NY’s Con Edison will pay $800,000 in back pay and damages for wrongly requiring job applicants to undergo medical examinations and provide genetic information before being hired.
EDUCATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS – Scottish universities are changing grade requirements for students from poorer backgrounds in an effort to make higher education more accessible for low income students. A U.S. District Judge ruled in favor of a coalition of Maryland HBCU’s and issued an injunction against that state to end funding programs that undermine the HBCUs and will now provide a monitor and additional funding for HBCU.
FAIRNESS AND EQUITY – National Women’s Law Center and others sued the administration over its rollback of rules requiring large companies to report what they pay workers, which is aimed at decreasing the gender pay gap. Farmworkers and others sued North Carolina challenging a state law that limits the ability of farmworkers, who are mostly migrant workers, to organize and make collective bargaining agreements with employers. Pennsylvania Governor allowed a school code to pass that bans the practice of denying school lunch to students without money to pay for it. California fined Anthem Blue Cross $5 million saying the insurer failed to properly address grievances by enrollees. NYC Mayor signed bill allowing victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and stalking to be eligible for paid leave to help them ensure their “immediate safety needs.” A British employment tribunal upheld a ruling that Uber drivers must be classified as workers and receive a minimum wage, sick leave and paid time off.
MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION – Athens (OH) approved a city ordinance to completely eliminate fines and court costs for growing up to 200 grams of marijuana. New York Governor signed legislation to add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a qualifying condition in New York’s medical marijuana program.
#MeToo – Paul Ryan announced the House will introduce mandatory anti-sexual harassment training and the Senate will now require periodic anti-harassment training for senator and staff. #MeToo Survivors and supporters marched by the hundreds in LA.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST – Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) announced they will not seek reelection in 2018. Rev. Jamie Johnson, head of the Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships at the Homeland Security resigned after it was discovered that he routinely made racist and anti-Semitic comments as a radio host. Right wing Republican and married Christian “Family Values” Ohio lawmaker Wes Goodman resigned after being caught having consensual sex with a man (not a staffer or a minor). Conservative Christian, Penny Nance pulled herself from contention for ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues after liberal groups publicized her criticism of key Senate Republicans whose votes were needed. The GOP’s Senate campaign arm severed its fundraising agreement with Roy Moore.
ONE PERSON ONE VOTE – A New Mexico judge ruled state employees have the right to paid time off when they vote in municipal election as well state/federal ones. Campaign Legal Center and others filed a lawsuit challenging Arizona’s registration process alleging it is burdensome and confusing. Matt Dunlap, one of four Democrats on the Voter Fraud Suppression Commission filed suit claiming that he’s being denied access to the commission’s records and frozen out of its activities.
CREATIVE ACTIVISM – Hundreds of people disrupted the Nights of Lights celebration in St. Augustine (FL) protesting against Confederate monuments that still stand in the city. Cards Against Humanity bought land on the U.S.-Mexico border to block President Trump from building his wall. Thousands of South Koreans protested against 45’s upcoming visit. Many companies are dropping their ads from Sean Hannity’s Fox News program after his supportive coverage of Roy Moore after sex assault allegations. A GoFundMe page set up for Juli Briskman, who lost her job for giving 45 the finger has raised more than $100,000 and she has received numerous job offers.