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So it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, not because there wasn’t any good news, but because I was practicing some self-care, taking care of health issues and celebrating the holidays. So my planned midweek and regular post did not come together. You have probably been reading all about the many positive election outcomes over the past couple of weeks but you can never have too many reminders of all the good we achieved so I’ve roundup some of the more later breaking news and analysis. This list is also here to remind you that there was a lot of good that may have gone unnoticed through the haze of tear gas. So here is my belated random goodness roundup,
🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS with the help of a lot of recent court wins. A federal judge temporarily blocked the government from denying asylum to those crossing over the southern border between ports of entry because it imposes a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden. A New York State Appeals court ruled that police officers and other local law enforcement officials in New York are prohibited by law from arresting undocumented immigrants on behalf of federal authorities. A federal court granted a preliminary injunction barring the Defense Department from blocking lawful permanent residents from serving in the U.S. military. A U.S. District Judge found that the administration lied to the court in order to indefinitely detain more than 120 Iraqis behind bars in a long-shot effort to deport them and ordered I.C.E. to release them within 30 days. AND HELPING ONE IMMIGRANT AT A TIME A federal judge ordered I.C.E to release a Somali refugee in a case brought by the ACLU for not giving him a bond hearing after more than 9 months. Over 140-of Seattle’s best restaurants donated 10 percent or more of profits to Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in a one day event. A small group at the Texas border is helping to feed, clothe, and friendship to migrants waiting to cross the border and those who are released by I.C.E. New Jersey allocated more than $2 million to help immigrants facing deportation. Students at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, College Park protested to demand their universities end contracts with I.C.E.
📰FREEDOM OF THE PRESS CNN reporter Jim Acosta had his press credentials restored and the administration has dropped its effort to strip him of his pass after a judge’s order restoring it expired.
☮️ ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL JUSTICE for so many 👮🎖️VETERANS A federal judge ruled that thousands of veterans can sue the federal government alleging they were discharged due to infractions related to untreated mental illnesses and denied Veterans Affairs benefits as a result. AND FOR 🏥 HEALTH CARE The Health and Human Services Administration will be offering states the opportunity to apply for a waiver from federal law to allow them to use Medicaid funding to pay for mental health treatment in facilities with more than 16 beds. 🏫STUDENTS The Texas State Board of Education backed a motion to reinsert Hillary Clinton and disability rights advocate Helen Keller into the state’s 11th-grade U.S. history standards, two months after voting to remove them and will change the way students learn about the Civil War by teaching that slavery played a “central role” in the war as opposed to being one of three sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery. The Boston school district has agreed to no longer suspend students in kindergarten, first and second grades, will block suspensions for third to fifth graders, except in cases where those students have committed serious misconduct, and pledged to train all educational staff on the negative consequences of suspension. 👷WORKERS Two of the former owners of Toys “R” Us have agreed to pay $20 million to help laid-off employees with a severance fund to pay former workers who lost their jobs when the company closed its stores. 🏦 CONSUMERS LoanMe, a high-interest lending company, has stopped making personal loans in Wisconsin after a Los Angeles Times report that drew connections between the company and a firm that was not permitted to make loans due to suspensions. A judge ruled that a sitting president can face a civil lawsuit in state court for actions not taken in his official capacity and allowed the New York state attorney general’s civil lawsuit against the Trump Foundation, tRump and his three eldest children who helped run it can proceed.
🏳️🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS Colorado residents will be able to choose a non-binary gender identifier on their driver’s licenses by the end of the month, according to an emergency rule approved by the Colorado Dept. of Revenue. The Sarasota County School Board recommitted to the district’s new gender guidelines protecting transgender rights after public hearings and another vote. Massachusetts voted to keep a state law that bars discrimination based on gender identity in access to public facilities. The Washington, DC school district will let families select “non-binary”, rather than male or female, when indicating the gender of their child on enrollment forms. The cast of The Prom ended their Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade performance with the parade’s first-ever same-sex kiss. AND IN OTHER COUNTRIES Scotland will become the first country to embed the teaching of LGBTQ rights in the school curriculum after education ministers voted to require state schools teach about the history and identities of LGBTQ equalities and movements, as well as tackling homophobia and transphobia. Costa Rica’s constitutional court struck down the nation’s ban on same-sex marriage.
👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS Denton County in Texas will pay $115,000 to a county doctor after a federal court ruled it paid her less than a male colleague in the same position and failed to take remedial action when the complaint was filed. Google and Facebook eliminated their policy forcing workers to settle sexual harassment claims through private arbitration. A federal judge permanently blocked Mississippi’s abortion ban after 15 weeks of gestation, one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE A Leavenworth Kansas county commissioner who made a “master race” comment to a black city planner resigned amid swift backlash. A judge ruled the publisher of the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer accused of coordinating a “terror campaign” of online harassment against a Jewish real estate agent cannot hide behind First Amendment grounds as real estate agent was a private citizen, not a public figure, and that the publisher, incited his followers to harass her as part of a personal campaign. A white man in Michigan was sentenced to four to 10 years in prison after he was found guilty of firing a gun at a black teenager asking for directions to get to school. A college lecturer was suspended after calling cops on a black student who had put her feet up during a previous biology lecture without any warning. Only two of the 22 charities that deserted the Mar-a-Lago Club for their high-dollar fundraising events after the raker-in-chief called violent white-nationalist protesters in Charlottesville “very fine people” are returning this year.
👩🔬BREAKING BARRIERS This year’s list of Rhodes Scholars recipients are two-thirds women, nearly half are first-generation Americans or immigrants, and one is the first ever DACA recipient. Harvard Crimson, the University’s school newspaper and oldest continuing daily newspaper in the country, elected its first Black female president.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT The U.S. Coast Guard ordered Taylor Energy Co. to “institute a…system to capture, contain, and remove oil” from the site of its oil platform which has been leaking thousands of gallons into the Gulf of Mexico since 2004 or face a $40,000 per day fine for failing to comply. A Chicago construction company was sued by the state for illegal dumping in the Chicago river after a resident posted a video online of them dumping in full view of commuters. The EPA announced plans to reduce pollution from heavy-duty trucks, launching a Cleaner Trucks Initiative. A federal Judge blocked construction on the Keystone pipeline finding the government failed to provide a fact-based analysis justifying its actions. The US Army Corps of Engineers suspended authorization for work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. ISO New England cancelled a contract to buy fracked gas.
👨🏿⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE The former Biscayne Park police chief who directed his officers to frame innocent black men for a series of unsolved burglaries was sentenced to three years in prison. The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, posted $1.2 million in bail to free 105 people from New York City jails.
🇷🇺RUSSIA INVESTIGATION UPDATE A federal judge refused to dismiss criminal charges against a Russian company accused by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of funding a propaganda operation to sway the 2016 presidential election. A federal judge rejected George Papadopoulos’s effort to delay his prison term for lying to the FBI and started serving his 14 day sentence.
RESIGNATIONS While Scott Lloyd is not leaving HHS he will no longer be in charge of refugee children, which is a very good thing since he was instrumental if preventing refugees who needed an abortion from getting them.
🕫🗳️FAIR VOTING requires an accurate POPULATION COUNT A federal appeals court denied the administration’s emergency request to delay a trial currently underway over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Fair Maps A federal court ruled that Maryland unconstitutionally drew the boundary lines for the 6th Congressional District to benefit Democrats, and banned the map from being used in future elections. I will say that any decision that finds that a map must be fair and balanced is good news overall. and Equal Access at the Ballot Box A Superior Court judge ruled that Santa Monica (CA) violated the voting rights of Latinx plaintiffs by refusing to implement district instead of city-wide elections.
🚶🚶🏿🚶🏼ELECTION PARTICIPATION An estimated 49 percent of the voting-eligible population (about 116 million people) voted in the midterms, significantly higher than the average 40 percent who have historically voted in midterm elections between 1982-2014. Twenty-three states had double-digit percentage increases in voter turnout. Georgia saw about 55 percent of eligible voters go to the polls, which is about 21 points higher than the state’s 1982-2014 average giving it the biggest change of any state. Minnesota had the highest with sixty-four percent turnout.
MORE ELECTION RECAP AND ANALYSIS
AFRICAN-AMERICAN GAINS Fifty-two African-Americans were elected to the U.S. House. Also impressive is that eight of the nine newly elected African-Americans won in districts with white non-Hispanic majorities, in Texas, New York, Connecticut, Nevada, Georgia, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, and in Massachusetts with a near majority. Wisconsin elected the first black lieutenant governor. Guilford elected its first black sheriff, as did Forsyth County, Wake County and four other large counties; Buncombe, Cumberland, Durham and Mecklenburg, and Pitt County in North Carolina. The Anoka County Board elected its first person of color and the Hennepin County elected its first two commissioners of color in Minnesota. The first black woman was elected to the Portland City Council in Oregon. Melody Stewart become the first African-American woman elected to the Ohio Supreme Court. Jefferson County Alabama elected their first black District Attorney and Sheriff. New Hampshire elected their first black state senator. A group of 19 black women made history by all winning elections to become judges in Harris County Texas #BlackGirlMagic. Voter participation by African-Americans increased 157 percent over 2014.
LATINX Texas elected their first two Latinas in Congress, New Mexico’s entire House delegation is now filled by racial and ethnic minorities and the state elected its first Latina Democratic governor. Kate Marshall, who was elected Nevada’s lieutenant governor, has family roots in Mexico. Colorado elected 14 (with one race still being counted) Latinx to serve in Colorado’s state legislature, which is a a record number of Latinx to the state legislature. Imperial Beach (CA) elected the first Latina member to the City Council. The first Latino was elected to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. Richfield (MN) elected the state’s first Latina mayor. Harris County Texas elected its first Latina and the first woman county judge (which includes Houston) a county judge in Texas is the chief executive for county government. Latinx participation surged 174 percent in 2018, compared to the 2014 midterms, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
LGBTQ There is now a record 10 openly LGBTQ members elected to serve in the 116th Congress. Following the midterm election, there will be 129 openly gay and transgender people serving as state legislators, the prior record was 119. Doña Ana County elected its first openly gay sheriff in New Mexico, and the first woman sheriff in Doña Ana County. Democrats Brandon Woodard and Susan Ruiz became the first openly LGBTQ members of the Kansas House of Representatives. Teri Johnston made Florida history as the first openly gay woman elected mayor in a major Florida city when she won in Key West. Kevin Hutchinson was elected Hennepin County Sheriff, making him the first openly-gay sheriff in the Midwest, and he ran on a campaign of reform including ending some cooperation with I.C.E. New Hampshire voters elected their first transgender state representatives.
DEMOCRATIC WINS Democrats won Secretary of State elections in Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan. Remember these are the people that oversee the election process. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Mia Love by fewer than 700 votes for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, turning the district blue for the first time in six years Kyrsten Sinema (D) won her race for a Senate seat in Arizona, giving Democrats their first elected senator in Arizona in 30 years and Sinema will be the first woman to represent Arizona in the Senate. Democrats have now won a super-majority of both houses of the CALIFORNIA state legislature, with the additional seats they won in the State Senate. Kyrsten Sinema (D) won the Arizona Senate race against Martha McSally
STATE AND LOCAL DEMOCRATIC WINS Six out of the seven major Maryland suburban counties, where the bulk of Marylanders live, elected new democratic county executives. Republicans lost a State Senate seat in Howard County long held by Republicans and Heather Bagnall (D) won for Maryland State House seat for District 33, beating the republican incumbent in a heavy republican district, the first democrat to do so in 20 years. Republicans also failed to pick up a veto-proof minority in the Maryland legislature, with a republican governor. Jim Glen (D) won his Kentucky state House race by one vote. With the help of court-ordered redistricting, after decades of gerrymandering, Native Americans in San Juan County Utah won the majority of seats on the county commission, which also includes parts of Bears Ears National Monument and thus a larger say in the administration’s decision to reduce the monument, among other things.
As a 17-year-old girl scout, Cassandra Levesque led a campaign to end child marriage in New Hampshire, and was brushed aside by a state legislator, who said he saw no need to change a 100 years old law, “on the basis of a request from a minor doing a Girl Scout project.” Her first effort to raise the age of marriage failed, so she decided to take her crusade a step further and run for the State Legislature herself, and won. Zach Wahls, who as a teenager gave a speech that went viral before the Utah State House of Representatives about growing up with two lesbian mothers, was elected at age 27 to the State Senate.
In North Carolina, Democrat and civil rights lawyer Anita Earls unseated a republican incumbent judge to join the North Carolina Supreme Court, giving democrats five of the seven seats on the state’s highest court. In addition, North Carolina rejected a constitutional amendment to give state lawmakers more power over the makeup of a state board that decides election and ethics disputes and limiting power to appoint judicial vacancies.
WOMEN WIN BIG LOCALLY TOO Demarest (NJ) elected its first woman mayor. Patricia Chisolm-Miller became the first woman elected to the McLennan County Commissioner’s Court (TX). Costa Mesa City Council (CA) will have a first ever female majority council. In Massachusetts Tram Nguyen (D) and Becca Rausch (D) defeated male Republican incumbents to win state House seats and Rachael Rollins, won election to become Boston’s first female district attorney and the first woman of color to hold such a job.
🌿 MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION Five out of six Ohio cities with local marijuana decriminalization measures on the ballot passed the initiatives, including Dayton, Fremont, Norwood, Oregon and Windham.
ABORTION RIGHTS In the November 6th election, Oregon voters rejected measures that would have barred taxpayer dollars from being spent on elective abortions and one that would have repealed the state law that bars local law enforcement agencies from spending state and local resources on enforcing federal immigration laws.
MEDICAID EXPANSION Idaho, Utah, and Nebraska passed Medicaid expansion initiatives.