With the Olympics starting and the Philadelphia Eagles winning their first ever Superbowl it feels like sports are both a metaphor and a representation of the resistance this week. We saw an underdog democrat winning a race, the first gay athletes at the winter games, football players refusing to attend a White House celebration, and a handshake representing a public easing of tensions in Korea. It was hard to keep up with all the good news. On another note, please accept my apologies in advance for typos and grammar mistakes The blog is mostly a one woman show done in my spare time between working, being a mom, and fighting for change, and the research alone takes many hours. Now onto the best news items;
- Democrat Mike Revis won a special election to the Missouri House of Representatives, flipping the seat blue in a district 45 won by 28 points. #BlueWave2018
- The Supreme Court refused to grant a stay in the Pennsylvania gerrymandering case so new districts must be redrawn in time for the May 2018 primaries. The republican led legislature then met the deadline for submitting the new maps to the court after threatening not to. #StopGerrymandering
- A NY State Supreme Court judge ruled a defendant’s ability to pay must be considered when imposing bail as a condition of pretrial detention. #NoMoneyBail
- France’s President announced the EU will not make trade agreements with any country that has not signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement (the US is the only non-signer). #ClimateChangeisReal
- A U.S. District Court judge issued a decision with a host of important wins for citizens and immigrants. She found the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. and federal officials violated the rights of suspected immigrants who were detained beyond the time they should have been released from jail on their criminal matters. She also rules that the immigrants were improperly denied no-cash bail due to detainers requests. The judge also found the practice of ICE issuing detainer requests without obtaining an administrative warrant violates its own statutory arrest authority and that federal agents can’t issue a detainer for a person solely because the person was born in another country and lacked an immigration file in the federal databases. #DreamActNow
✊🏽#MeToo and WOMEN’S RIGHTS continues to lead to changes as Wynn also Steps down as Chairman of Wynn Resorts after sexual harassment complaints.The Maryland legislature sent a bill to the Governor to sign that gives victims of rape the ability to have the parental rights of their attackers terminated, and he is expected to sign it. California passed a law granting whistleblower protections to legislative staff members who report sexual misconduct and other misbehavior and the legislature released a plethora of sexual harassment investigation records of legislators and staff. D.C. passed a law allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control without a dr visit.
👩🎓Women continue to BREAK GLASS CEILINGS Fort Lauderdale (FL) hired its first female Fire Chief. Germany’s centre-left Social Democratic Party nominated its first woman as its next leader. The Massachusetts Fruit Growers Association elected its first female president.
⚖️ECONOMIC AND RELIGIOUS EQUALITY is more possible thanks to the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Utilities ordering the state’s utility companies to submit plans to lower customer rates to reflect the tax savings they received under the new tax law. What a great idea this is. Time to ask your state to do the same. Not being able to afford a home should not subject you to harassment so a federal judge issued an injunction, preventing Orange County from clearing out the homeless camp. While Macy’s is launching a line of hijabs and modest clothing for a profit, it has the social benefit of bringing muslims into mainstream fashion and a larger retail presence.
🏳️🌈Helping the LGBTQ community is Lamda Legal who sued and obtained hormone therapy and other medical services for an incarcerated transgender woman in Missouri. Jacksonville’s General Counsel (FL) rejected an attempt by a conservative group to use a ballot initiative to overturn a recently enacted gay rights law through a voter referendum. The ACLU sued Alabama on behalf of transgender individuals to strike down the state’s policies for changing the gender designation on driver’s licenses. Publix, a large supermarket chain, changed its employee prescription plan to cover a drug that helps prevent HIV infection after public criticism.
🗳️VOTING RIGHTS are spreading like wildfires not only in PA but in North Carolina where the Supreme court upheld the order to redraw districts for State legislative seats with an exception for two of the districts. The Ohio legislature agreed to allow Ohio voters to vote on a referendum in May that amends the state constitution to require bipartisan support when drawing new congressional district lines. Kentucky pulled out of the notoriously unreliable, voter suppression encouraging, Interstate Crosscheck System.
👩🏾⚖️CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM took some other BIG STEPS FORWARD with the Atlanta Mayor signing a law that eliminates the requirement for cash bonds to secure release from jail following an arrest for a violation of a city ordinance. Nashville judges is expanding a program that reduces the imposition of money bail for low-level offenses. Seattle (WA) will seek to vacate all misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions that were prosecuted before it was legalized in the state. The New York City Police Dept agreed to a series of reforms related to civil forfeiture after it was accused in a lawsuit of refusing to release money and property tied to alleged criminal activity. A Tennessee court ruled it is unconstitutional to require a person convicted of a DUI through a blood or breath test to pay a state fee that goes directly to the testing fund that processes the test used for the conviction. Savannah(GA) suspended a program that allowed private landlords to bar people from housing with criminal records going back 10 years after a complaint by the ACLU.
🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER to the people who see them the Salt Lake City school board changed the name of the Andrew Jackson Elementary School to Mary Jackson Elementary School to honor the first black female NASA engineer instead of a racist. Lynchburg (VA) has reached its fundraising goal to pay for a statue in honor of the city’s first black mayor. A U.S. District Judge found that the Sons of Confederate Veterans lacked a legal basis to challenge the removal of a memorial to Robert E. Lee from a Dallas park.
🧕Communities continue to STAND UP FOR IMMIGRANTS. After news reports that license plate reader company Vigilante was sharing data with ICE, Alameda, (CA), voted down a proposal to spend $500,000 on a contract with them for such services. In the past such a contract would have been routine and non-controversial. With a newly elected democratic Attorney General, New Jersey signed on to a lawsuit against the administration for withholding law enforcement grant money for failure to cooperate with ICE. West Palm Beach (FL) sued the administration accusing the Justice Dept. of “erroneous and recurring harassment of the city and its officials based upon wrongly perceived non-compliance” and is asking the courts to declare the city’s policies to be in compliance with federal law. Willmar City Council (Minn) passed a resolution saying all residents are welcome no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation and country of origin. The Dallas School district launched a website with resources for DACA recipients and announced they are working on planning for the crisis their staff and students may be faced with if DACA ends. Immigration rights groups sued ICE for allegedly targeting immigration activists for possible deportation.
🌎Helping to SAVE THE PLANET from Pruitt a U.S. District Judge ruled the EPA failed to act on a petition filed by Connecticut with the EPA to address pollution emissions from a plant in Pennsylvania as required by the Clean Air Act. The judge ordered the agency to hold a public hearing on a proposed decision within 30 days and required final action within 60 days. California joined a group of states suing EPA for suspending a rule that extended the definition of streams and wetlands entitled to protection under the Clean Water Act.
🌳GOOD FOR OUR PLANET is Dunkin’ Donuts announcing they will stop using environmentally harmful polystyrene foam cups by 2020. The University of Edinburgh is dumping all its fossil fuel investments from its endowment fund. Australia launched a program to install solar panels on homes and distribute Tesla batteries to create the world’s largest “virtual power plant.” New Jersey’s governor selected a long-time environmentalist as second in command of the state Dept. of Environmental Protection.
🌐NET NEUTRALITY protections continue thanks to Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signing an executive order prohibiting all internet service providers that do business with the state from blocking, throttling or favoring web content.
🚴♂️WORKER RIGHTS got a boost when Couriers carrying emergency blood supplies for the National Health Service in England won full employment rights, and will no longer be classified as independent contractors. The USDA rejected the poultry industry’s request to remove all line speed limits faced by poultry workers. The Dept of Labor’s Inspector General announced it is looking into the agency’s rulemaking process in its proposed tip-pooling rule after reports that senior agency officials hid an unfavorable economic impact analysis. The Washington Post reported that newly published research disputes the findings from last year that Seattle’s minimum wage increse hurt low-income workers.
⛼Another week, so it’s time for another FEW TO BITE THE DUST. Kathleen Hartnett White, a climate change denier and science know-nothing, was withdrawn as the nominee to lead the Council on Environmental Quality. Two top administration staffers resigned after allegations of spousal abuse, White House staff secretary Rob Porter and speechwriter David Sorensen. Heath Hall, the acting Director of the Federal Railroad Administration resigned after allegations he took unauthorized outside payments while working for the administration.
😄FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT a federal judge ruled Kushner had to reveal his investor’s identities in order to move a class-action lawsuit against him by his tenants to a federal court, so to avoid having to do this he is now seeking to transfer the lawsuit back to the Baltimore court.
🕬AWESOME ACTIVISM If you’re headed to New Orleans for Mardi Gras look for the pilot program to recycle your leftover beads rather than allowing them to clog drains and cause flooding. if you’re near Boston, you can check out a new exhibit entitled “Long Road to Justice: The African-American Experience in the Massachusetts Courts.’’ at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse. The 120,000 strong NY Teamsters are taking steps to become a “sanctuary union,” by training providing businesses, supervisors and front-line workers on their rights, how to challenge immigration agents who show up to search work sites, and how to negotiate legal, immigrant friendly contracts. Seattle organized a day long program offering free counseling and legal services to help permanent residents apply for citizenship with 800 volunteers helping thousands with the process and law students from the University of San Diego started a free legal clinic to help transgender people change their names and gender markers on official documents. Black Lives Matter protesters blocked the trains to the Super Bowl. The American Federation of Teachers collected 90,000 report card to deliver to Sec. of Education DeVos, grading her on her one year of service.