I know it is been a few days since the election, and you have probably heard all about the Virginia and New Jersey Governorships and other big wins, but I’ll recap it because it is just brings me such joy. I’ve also compiled a list of the women, LGBTQ identifying, people of color, and democrats that won at the ballot box for school boards, city council’s, and other state and local offices. They are our next generation of emerging national leader. There were so many races to follow, that I may have missed a race you think should be included on this list, so chime in and let us all know of one. I will provide updates as recounts are held and I collect more information on smaller races. The summary of What Went Right for non-election happenings will be posted in the next couple of days.
TRIFECTAS – When one political party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house in a state’s government. Democrats gained two trifectas as a result of the election and now control 9 states.
- In WASHINGTON with Manka Dhingra (D) winning the special election for Senate District 45, flipping the seat, Democrats obtained full control of the state Senate since they also kept the other 3 Senate seats up for re-election democratic.
- In NEW JERSEY with Phil Murphy‘s (D) victory in the gubernatorial election, Democrats took the governorship while maintaining their majorities in both legislative chambers.
STATE GOVERNMENT WINS
- FOR DEMOCRATS – In addition, to Virginia and New Jersey Governorships, Democrats retained two vacant House seats in Massachusetts and Michigan special elections. Virginia led the surge in flipping 14 of 16 Republican-held seats in the House, with some races still too close to call. Democrats picked up three seats in the Georgia State House, ending republican super majority control.
- FOR WOMEN – Women in Georgia, Virginia, Oregon, and Washington won state legislative seats, some formerly held by men and defeated some male incumbents, to make gains in state-level representation. Virginia House of Delegates will have at record high of at least 28 women, more than double previous record.
- FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR -Virginia elected an African American for Lt. Governor, only the second ever African American elected to a statewide office there. Virginia also elected the first Asian-American and Latina Women (2) to serve in the House of Delegates. New Jersey elected the first female African American Lt. Governor. An African American democrat flipped a seat in the South Carolina legislature blue.
MAYORAL RACES (that I know of so far)
- WOMEN MAYORS – Notable cities that elected or re-elected women mayors including SEATTLE (WA), MANCHESTER (NH), NEWTON (MA), GREENSBORO (NC), PROVO (UT) (and 5 other smaller cities in Utah) BELFAST (ME), FRAMINGHAM (MA), MILTON (WI), TOPEKA (KS) ROCHESTER (NY), CARRBORO and RALEIGH (NC). There are now run-off elections in ATLANTA and NEW ORLEANS which will lead to female mayors since all the candidates on the ballot are women.
- AFRICAN AMERICAN AND OTHER MINORITY MAYORS – Seven cities saw first time African-American Mayors including STATESBORO (GA), GEORGETOWN (SC), MILLEDGEVILLE (GA), HELENA (MT), CAIRO (GA), ST PAUL (MN), and CHARLOTTE (NC). HOBOKEN (NJ) elected its first Sikh Mayor in the state. LOGANVILLE (GA) elected its first Latino and SANTA BARBARA (CA) its first Latina.
- LGBTQ – Five openly LGBTQ identifying candidates won mayoral races in SEATTLE (WA), HOLYOKE (MA), MILFORD (PA), CARRBORRO (NC) and COLLEGE PARK (MD) SEATTLE (WA).
- BIG CITY DEMOCRATIC MAYORS – DETROIT, BOSTON AND NEW YORK, re-elected their democratic Mayors.
THE BIG PICTURE
- LGBTQ WINS – Eight transgender candidates win including for Minneapolis City Council, House of Delegates (VA), Somersworth School Board (NH,) Palm Springs City Council (CA), Doraville City Council (GA), Erie School Board (PA), Minneapolis City Council, and Stamford (CT) Board of Representatives . Pridesource reported that there were at least 71 openly LGBT candidates in 23 states up for election with 55 percent winning and another 10 percent with returns not yet finalized.
- WOMEN CANDIDATES – Emerge America, founded in 2002 to train women to run for office, said 85 of the organization’s 129 women on ballots in nine states won their races for local and state office ranging from school/library boards to town councils, to Mayor. This included 12 women who won for Colorado, 8 for Maine, 2 for Maryland, 43 in Massachusetts, 1 in Michigan, 5 in New Jersey, 16 in New Mexico, 13 in Oregon, 7 in Pennsylvania, 2 in Tennessee, 4 in Vermont, 15 in Virginia, 7 in Washington, 14 in Wisconsin. Many Emily’s list supported candidates (many overlap with Emerge).
- PROGRESSIVES – Thirty-eight of 61 Victory Fund endorsed candidates won their elections, with four still undecided and one heading to a run-off. 5 Flippable candidates won their. 31 Run For Something candidates were elected. 5 Latino Victory Fund candidates won. 21 Our Revolution candidates were elected, including nine women, four Latino candidates, four African-Americans, and to openly LGBTQ+ candidates.
- BALLOT MEASURES – Maine voters approved a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid coverage under the ACA to about 70,000 more people across the state.
STATE SUMMARIES AND DETAILS Continue reading
There was a lot to take in this week ending 11/4/17, with indictments and guilty pleas but let’s not get too distracted by this, as we have elections this week and a big tax “reform” fight on our hands. Stay focused and informed.
- TRANSGENDER MILITARY BAN STOPPED BY JUDGE – A U.S. District Judge ruled the ban on transgender service members was not likely to withstand a court challenge and issued an injunction against the implementation of the ban and directed a return to the policy that existed previously.
- WHITEFISH CONTRACT CANCELLED BY PUERTO RICO – The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority cancelled the $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy, a tiny company based in Secretary Zinke’s hometown to restore power to PR.
- STATE BANS BUMP STOCKS – Massachusetts is the first state to ban bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic firearms to mimic a machine gun.
- DISABLED 10 YEAR OLD RELEASED – The ACLU announced it is suing the administration to seek obtained the release of an undocumented 10-year-old with cerebral palsy who is recovering from surgery from a federal detention facility.
- FIRST GUILTY PLEA AND TWO INDICTMENTS BY MUELLER – In case you missed it, Manafort and Gates were hit with a 12 count federal indictment for money laundering, etc., and George Papadopoulos pled guilty to lying to the FBI.
I don’t usually include updates on the Russian investigations because it distracts from the substantive issues and the elections going on and as something we have no control over and can’t participate in, I don’t find it productive to focus on. But this Friday’s bombshell report that charges were filed and a potential arrest coming on Monday, make me giddy with excitement to see who will be the first person(s) Mueller takes down. Only one more day till we find out. In the meantime, you still probably want to know about all the other good things that happened this week, so I found time during my trip to Virginia to canvass for democrats running for state office to make this week’s list for you. Happy reading!
PROTECTING WOMEN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE – Ontario province in Canada voted to create “safe zones” around abortion clinics and clinic worker’s homes of between 50-150 meters to protect clinic patients and staff from potential harassment by anti-choice protesters. A U.S. District Judge ruled two Alabama abortion laws unconstitutional and blocked the state from enforcing them. One prohibited abortion clinic within 2,000 feet of a K-8 public school and the other would criminalize the most common method of second-trimester abortions, and effectively limiting abortions to 15 weeks.
STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS – A U.S. Court of Appeals ruled an undocumented minor immigrant being held in ICE custody in Texas must be allowed to have an abortion, and advocates were able to arrange for her to have the procedure before the administration had the chance to appeal the decision. A group of 350 Filipino teachers in Louisiana won a class action lawsuit for exploitation and human trafficking against Universal Placement International job placement agency and will each receive about $2,200 from them and the ringleader is going to jail.
MOVING FORWARD NOT BACK ON LGBTQ RIGHTS – A U.S. District Judge denied Kentucky’s request to reverse his ruling that the state must pay the nearly $225,000 in legal fees to the couples who sued a county clerk for refusing to issue marriage licenses because of her opposition to same-sex marriage, saying the Governor fell “woefully short” of convincing him. Kentucky judge W. Mitchell Nance, who refused to hear adoption cases involving LGBTQ parents resigned. Campaign for Southern Equality was allowed to reopen a ban on gay marriage case that ended after the 2015 Supreme Court marriage ruling by a judge in Mississippi as another way to challenge the anti-lgbtq legislation the state passed. The world’s first lesbian bridal magazine, Dancing With Her, began publication in Australia.
CARING FOR THE HEALTH AND WELFARE OF THE PEOPLE – The $36.5 billion emergency aid for disasters was passed by Congress and signed by 45. U.S. prosecutors brought a fraud and racketeering case against the executives of an opioid maker alleging they bribed doctors to write large numbers of prescriptions for an opioid meant only for cancer patients with severe pain, for non-cancer patients. San Diego has sanctioned a non-profit supported parking lot for homeless people that live in their cars instead of trying to dismantle it.
SEEKING CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it is a violation of person’s constitutional rights to be jailed for 96 days without seeing a judge and that defendants who are can sue the sheriff and county that held them because they have a duty to get those jailed promptly before a judge. The U.S. Dept. of Justice charged three officers with the Pomona Police Department (CA) for violating the civil rights of a minor who was beaten at the county fair and attempting to cover-up the attack. The Iowa Supreme Court adopted rules prohibiting the use of handcuffs and other restraints for juveniles appearing in court unless approved by a judge. The SPLC brought a judicial ethics complaint and a lawsuit against Professional Probation Services, a municipal court judge, and Gardendale, Alabama for creating an illegal probation scheme that requires anyone who cannot afford to pay their fines for traffic and misdemeanor offenses to illegally be placed on supervised probation with a private company. Advocates got the Mayor of Pearl, Mississippi to shut down the Youth Court and forced the judge to resign for his decision to bar a mother from seeing her baby over her unpaid court fees.
PROTECTING OUR CIVIL RIGHTS – The Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that state law bars employment discrimination based on a failure to conform to gender stereotypes even though Missouri law doesn’t specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, finding that stereotyping can be evidence of sex discrimination, which state law does prohibit. A Municipal Court judge (OH) dismissed disorderly conduct charges against protesters who burned an American flag outside the Republican National Convention last year, ruling the flag burning was protected free speech. A Vermont judge issued a restraining order against Burlington in a case brought by the ACLU to stop the city’s plan to evict people from a local homeless encampment arguing it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment when the city shelters are full and they cannot offer the defendants temporary shelter. The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that a woman who posted a picture of the bumper stickers on a neighbor’s car that promoted the League of the South, which the SPLC lists as a neo-Confederate hate group and featured the word “SECEDE” next to a picture of a Confederate battle flag and called the family “white supremacists” was not defamation and is protected free speech. Continue reading
With the twitter wars, “He said, She Said” fights, and the outrageous and ridiculous things being said covered incessantly by the news, it is easy to get distracted. But I try hard not to fall for the “point and Look Over, to keep me from seeing what you are doing in front of me” trick. This week, while many were distracted by the Gold Star family controversy, a lot happened that gives progressives some hope for the future. So here is the weekly summary for 10/21/17 of what went right.
STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS – One Two federal courts temporarily blocked the majority of the third version of the travel ban from taking effect, saying it suffers from the same problems as the previous order. Mexico filed an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit brought by Texas cities against the state for the law prohibiting “sanctuary cities,” saying the law forces Mexico to treat Texas differently than other states and interferes with diplomatic interests and ongoing negotiations on bilateral issues. National Immigrant Justice Center announced that with help from the City of Chicago Fund, and others, more than 20,000 people were provided with free representation in immigrant proceedings, legal screenings, and legal information through “Know Your Rights” events so far this year.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – Dallas, Texas agreed to a cite-and-release program, instead of arrest, for possession of small amounts of marijuana, with opportunities for defendants to have cases dismissed. New York City announced a 90% drop in the number of criminal summons issued (more than 50,000 fewer) for the three and a half months since the implementation of the Criminal Justice Reform Act, which diverts quality of life crimes away from criminal court to civil court, without any increase in crime.
MOVING FORWARD NOT BACK ON LGBTQ RIGHTS – The California Governor signed the Gender Recognition Act, which recognizes a non-binary gender option on state-issued IDs, driver’s licenses, and birth certificates, and made it an easier for those who want to change their gender on legal documents. North Carolina’s Governor signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination by government agencies and government contractors on the grounds of race, color, ethnicity, sex, National Guard or veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression in employment to counteract the state “bathroom bill.” The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed its prior ruling after the case was remanded back to them by the U.S. Supreme Court which found it unconstitutional, and Arkansas ordered a lower court to come up with a way to treat same-sex parents and heterosexual couples equally under the state’s birth certificate law. The ACLU sued to stop Montana’s ballot initiative which would prevent transgender and gender-nonconforming people from using public facilities that correspond with their gender identity. The ACLU is challenging the legality of a provision in the state health plan that bars medical services for gender transformations. A Circuit Judge in Fayetteville quashed a state effort to block requests for information and testimony from legislators about the motivation behind the state law that prohibits cities from enacting local ordinances that extend civil rights protection to gay people. A Maryland education panel voted to rescind taxpayer-funded vouchers from a Lutheran school that said it reserved the right to deny admission to gay and transgender students.
BREAKING GLASS CEILINGS BIG AND SMALL AND PROGRESS FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR – Lindsay Mintenko was named the first woman to lead the U.S. National Swim Team. Iron Mountain, Michigan hired its first female police officer. Kara Lawson was hired as the Washington Wizards’ primary television game analyst, the first woman in franchise history to fill the role. Dr. Yolanda Pierce was selected as the dean of Howard University’s School of Divinity, the first woman to hold the position. The American Legion Post in Madison, CT appointed its first female commander. Justice Mary Moreau was appointed the first woman Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, Canada. Ine Eriksen Soereide was named Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, making her the first woman in the country to hold the post. The first all-female crew, including pilots, of a new Boeing 737 Max 8 took to the air on a Southwest flight. Zahira Torres was named the first Latina Editor/News Director of the 136 year old El Paso Times. Prince George’s County, Maryland did the right thing and charged a white man with a hate crime for allegedly stabbing a black college student to death “because of his race.”
SAVING THE PLANET – An Appeals Court reversed a lower court ruling and held that Miami and the Seminole Tribe can sue the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection to challenge new rules allowing higher concentrations of toxic chemicals to be discharged into Florida’s rivers and streams. California’s Governor signed a bill to require ingredient labeling on cleaning products. An asbestos-disposal contractor is suing Montana for failing to crack down on the improper disposal of asbestos. Two DAPL activists, who were charged with felonies for their activities at the protests, had their charges reduced and will no longer face jail time, and charges were dropped against a journalist covering the protests. In Belgium, the Port of Antwerp is the first port in Europe to join Operation Clean Sweep, an international program aimed at preventing plastic litter from getting into the marine environment. A Federal Judge dismissed a racketeering lawsuit brought by Resolute Forest Products against Greenpeace and other environmental groups.
PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH AND SAFETY- Amazon Studios Chief, Roy Price resigned, five days after he was placed on a “leave of absence” after a producer accused him of sexual harassment. The #MeToo moment has brought the pervasiveness of sexual harassment out of the shadows.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION – Governor Brown signed a bill barring state or local governments from creating, or assisting in the creation of, databases based on religion or national origin. A Federal Appeals Court ruled that a 40-foot, cross-shaped war memorial that has stood on public land in Maryland for nearly a century is unconstitutional because it “excessively entangles” the government with religion.
ELECTION AND VOTING WINS – Democrat Paul Feeney won a special election to fill a Massachusetts State Senate seat. The NAACP settled a lawsuit against Georgia under which the State agreed to no longer cut off voter registration beyond 30 days of any federal elections, including runoff elections and the State will use a shorter registration deadline if one is provided under state law.
FEEDING THE HUNGRY – A college professor and her students started the “Philando Feeds the Children” campaign in honor of the school food supervisor who was shot and killed by police. They raised $84,000, enough to pay off a year’s worth of school lunch debt for the 39,000 students in his school district, with money left over for the next year.
DAVID VS. GOLIATH – A group of 18 Democratic Attorneys General sued the Department of Education over its refusal to enforce regulations punishing predatory for-profit colleges that fail the “gainful employment” rule. University of Chicago graduate students voted to unionize. Northeastern University dining hall workers won an amazing contract which includes wage increases bringing full-time workers’ salaries to $35,000, an increase in the full-time schedules available, a $5.65 an hour increase, a health insurance plan with 97% paid for by the employer, enhanced protections for immigrant workers, additional sick days, and ability to join the union pension plan.
BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER – The Jefferson Davis Magnet IB, a public school in Jackson, Mississippi is being renamed to honor President Obama. The city of Centralia, Washington is raising money to erect a statue to honor the town’s founder George Washington, a former African-American slave who made a fortune after settling in the only area where residents didn’t enforce the racist laws that would have prevented him from living there. A stretch of Illinois highway has been renamed in honor of Sheriff Roger E. Walker Jr., the state’s first African-American sheriff. Louisiana’s Caddo Parish voted to remove the Confederate monument from courthouse grounds where it was erected in 1906. Lexington, Kentucky, removed two confederate statues from outside a former courthouse. Continue reading
While Californians are suffering from some of the worst fires in the state’ history, the governor took a moment to sign legislation that was recently passed by the legislature, many of which progressive groups spent year working to enact. My thoughts are with them and I hope their inspiring dedication is not extinguished and they continue to be an inspiration for all. Here is the week of 10/14/17 summary of what went right.
CALIFORNIA PROGRESSIVES – This week the California Governor signed a large number of progressive legislation including; the most comprehensive drug price transparency bill in the nation which forces pharmaceutical companies to notify the state when they plan to raise the price of a medication by 16 percent and requires them to justify the increases. He also signed laws to; ensure all children are not denied a full lunch because of their parents’ debt, encourage Californians to buy more zero-emission vehicles, require political ads to specifically identify the largest contributors to the entities producing them, allow youth sentenced to life without parole to have the right to a parole hearing after 25 years of incarceration, require all future rape kits be logged into state database, allow a check off box on state taxes to self-fund the backlog rape kit testing, require public schools in low-income areas to stock at least half of their bathrooms with free menstrual pads and tampons, require companies with 20 to 49 workers to allow employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or adopted child without losing their jobs, ban employers from asking a job candidate his or her previous salary, provide free Community college tuition for the first year for all Californians, and for animal lovers, require pet shops to sell rescue animals.
ELECTION WINS – Democrat Nicole Stewart, won a seat on The Raleigh City Council, North Carolina, after the independent challenger declined to seek a run-off when Stewart secured more votes than him, saying he didn’t want to divide the city. Democrat Matt Newton won a seat on Charlotte City Council. Democrat Gary Stanga was re-elected Clerk of Court for Tangipahoa Parish in Louisiana. Democrats Joe Giarrusso, Jared Brossett, and Helena Moreno won seats on the New Orleans City Council. While New Orleans, Louisiana, has not yet elected its new mayor, the top two candidates to win in the first round of voting are women, so no matter the outcome, one of them will be the first female Mayor of the city in its nearly 300 year old history.
SAVING THE PLANET – The U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider an appeal by Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship for his conviction for conspiracy to violate federal mine safety and health standards which led to the deaths of 29 miners in a 2010 explosion. Vistra Energy Corp announced it would shut two coal-fired plants in Texas. Paris officials announced a new goal to ban gas-powered cars from by 2030 and diesel vehicles by 2024 in the city. Oxford, England is also considering banning petrol and diesels vehicles from the city starting in 2020 to create the world’s first zero-emissions zone. Thailand has moved to ban smoking on 20 of the country’s main tourist beaches.
STOPPING PRUITT AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EPA – Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut’s Attorney General’s pledged to sue the EPA over its move to eliminate rules limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Environmental Defense Fund and other groups requested a U.S. Court of Appeals reject a trucking association request to stay new rules on tractor-trailer MPG’s. With pressure from red states and farmers, the EPA agreed to a deal with major agribusiness companies for new voluntary requirements on the toxic herbicide Dicamb. The companies will label the product as “restricted use”, require additional training for workers using it, and limit when and how it can be sprayed. Sometimes it’s hard for the administration to pick which competing group of conservatives to make happy, but in this case the environment wins as a by-product.
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – The Supreme Court declined to decide on one of the challenges to the travel ban stating that it is moot since that particular aspect of the ban has now expired. I will call this a positive thing, as the court did not uphold the ban, but rather said they don’t need to make determination at this time. Sometimes a pass can be a win of sorts. California’s South Pasadena City Council passed a “sanctuary city” ordinance.
OUR CIVIL RIGHTS – The ACLU sued the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop them from seizing and conducting warrantless and suspicion-less identification checks of passengers disembarking from domestic flights. The United Labor Unions filed a complaint against the Dallas Cowboys alleging they violated the National Labor Relations Act by threatening players if they choose not to stand for the national anthem.
GUN CONTROL – The Brady Center for Prevent Gun violence, filed suit against a bump stock manufacturer seeking damages and counseling for the survivors of a mass shooting in Las Vegas earlier this month. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that gun store location can be restricted by the government.
BREAKING GLASS CEILINGS AND PROGRESS FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR – United Technologies Corp appointed Judy Marks the president of Otis elevator, she is the first woman to head a subsidiary at the conglomerate. Dr. Connie Book was selected as the first female president of the 128 year old Elon University. Becky Hammon was the first woman head coach of an NBA team pre-season game. In Mississippi, Cossandra Feltson is the first woman to become a member of the Jackson Police Dept’s SWAT team and Leann Farr was the first woman to be promoted to captain on the Olive Branch Police Dept. Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan became the first woman in Saudia Arabia to lead a federation covering sporting activities for men and women. Dr. Dwight McKenna was elected as the first African-American Coroner of Orleans Parish, LA.
LGBTQ RIGHTS – A California District Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender-identity in healthcare. A coalition of 76 of the top U.S. businesses, legal scholars and the leading LGBT rights organizations submitted friend of the court briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a petition brought by LAMBDA LEGAl to decide whether the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual orientation discrimination on the job. Boca Raton, Florida banned gay conversation therapy for minors. Four lawmakers formed the Arizona Legislature’s first LGBTQ caucus group. Same-sex couples can now be legally married on Celebrity Cruises’ ships sailing in international waters. Civil rights groups appealed the Mississippi law allowing discrimination against gays to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Iowa Dept. of Transportation proposed rules to make it easier for transgender Iowans to change the sex designation on their driver’s licenses. Michael and Kai Korok, who married in Germany after it became legal last week, are the first same-sex couple in Germany to adopt a child. Greece passed legislation allowing citizens over the age of 15 to change the gender listed on their identity cards at will, following a simplified procedure in court, without the previously required sex reassignment surgery.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – The City Council of Reading, PA passed a motion urging state lawmakers to lower marijuana possession penalties to a summary offense from a misdemeanor. The ACLU sued two South Carolina towns for their failure to provide free lawyers for defendants facing misdemeanor charges that could lead to jail time.
PROTECTING WOMEN – The Supreme Court of India ruled that sexual intercourse with a girl who is under the age of 18 is rape regardless of the marital status of the girl. Pennsylvania’s and Washington D.C’s Attorney General’s joined the growing list of states, along with the ACLU, that are suing the administration over its attempt to roll back the ACA’s birth control coverage. The National Women’s Law Center announced the launch of the first national legal network to battle sex discrimination. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU joined forces to stop a new Missouri law that places additional restrictions on abortion, including a requirement that women seeking an abortion get information about the procedure 72 hours prior to it from the same physician who will perform it.
ONE PERSON ONE VOTE – A group of Democratic voters argue their voices are muted in Pennsylvania’s congressional elections gerrymandered districts and have moved for extraordinary relief with the State Supreme Court. New Mexico implemented new disclosure rules for political spending that require independent groups that spend heavily to influence the outcome of elections to name their contributors.
STATE AND LOCAL ACTIONS – Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., signed onto a federal lawsuit to stop the administration from cutting of the Affordable Care Act subsidies for low-income people. A School District in San Antonio Texas voted to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School to The Legacy of Educational Excellence (L.E.E HS).
FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT – Financial reports just made public show Trump owned Scottish golf resorts have yet to show a profit after he spent $200 million dollars on them, with Turnberry seeing revenue fall 21% in 2016 and Aberdeen showing a 28% increase in losses. And in case you missed it Republican Senator Bob Corker called the White House an adult day care center and Larry Flint/Hustler offered $10 million for information leading to 45’s impeachment.
CREATIVE ACTIVISM – Pastors and community leaders held a “Kneel-In before the NFL game in Charlotte, North Carolina, garnering some good local press. University of North Florida Students held a “Take a Knee UNF” rally for Black Lives Matter and in solidarity with the protest going on in the NFL across the country. The Washington Post reported that 16 of the 17 professional sports teams that had previously chosen to stay at Trump hotels while traveling confirmed they no longer stay at those hotels. New Yorkers know how to deal with racists. When a self-identified NYU Law School graduate started spewing racists comments on a NYC train a group of passengers took it upon themselves to physically toss him off the train with a faceful of free soup. I don’t condone violence but I do encourage people to stand up to hatred. Almost 200 protesters, in an action organized by local clergy were arrested in St Louis for shutting down I-95 to demand justice for Anthony Lamar Smith. This week marks the first anniversary of GrabYourWallet’s efforts to use the power of boycotts to stop 45.
Election Day is fast approaching in many states, including Virginia, with important statewide races for control of the State Legislature. If you haven’t already done so, check out Sister District, Flippable, or Swing Left to see how you can help progressive candidates win even if you live in a solid blue one.
This week ending 10/7/17, while full of sadness at what happened in Las Vegas, had many positive things happen in our effort to steer this country back in the right direction. I made it long to give you more to think about in this troubling week.
ELECTION WINS – Progressive challenger Randall Woodfin unseated the democratic incumbent, in a non-partisan election for the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama. Woodfin was backed by national groups including the Working Families Party, Our Revolution, and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
ECONOMIC JUSTICE – The end to school lunch shaming is growing in big and small school districts. All children in NYC public schools (more than a million) will get free lunch. Fauquier County Virginia students will continue to get a hot meal even if they owe money on their lunch account. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled the state’s new school finance system is unconstitutional, finding that it failed to meet the state Constitution’s requirements to adequately fund education and ordered a fairer distribution of funding to poor districts. Ben and Jerry’s signed an agreement with a farmworkers group to establish standards for the workers at the company’s milk suppliers.
DAVID VS. GOLIATH – The cities and states suing opioid making pharmaceutical companies is growing, Upshur County the first one in Texas just did, after Louisville, counties in NY, CA and others. Pennsylvania’s attorney general sued Navient Corp, the largest student loan company, accusing it of engaging in abusive practices against consumers. U.S. District Judge ruled that shareholders can seek to hold Wells Fargo’s current and former executives and directors personally responsible for the fake accounts scandal. California’s Governor signed a bill prohibiting financial firms from forcing customers into arbitration to settle disputes under certain circumstances. Equifax continues to face more lawsuits and investigations over its data breach. Berkeley California’s paid sick leave ordinance and increase in Berkeley’s minimum wage took effect. Steve Croman, one of New York City’s most notorious landlord who used force and harassment to force tenants out of rent regulated apartments was convicted in criminal court and sentenced to 1 year in jail, a $5 million fine, in a big win for tenants.
SAVING THE PLANET – A U.S. Magistrate judge ordered the Interior Department to reinstate a regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production by requiring energy companies to capture methane that’s burnt off at drilling sites on public lands. The New York Times has a summary of the status of environmental regulations. One of Texas’ largest coal plants, located near Dallas, is shutting down. The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to warn the public about the dangers of chemicals known as organohalogens in baby and other products and proposed new regulations prohibiting manufacturers from adding halogenated flame retardants to products. New ozone pollution rules are took effect, aimed at reducing ground level amount of harmful ozone.
AROUND THE WORLD – TransCanada Corp. killed the $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline proposal. The Scottish government announced a ban on fracking. A Botswana transgender man won a legal battle to be allowed to change the gender marker on his identity card. Karl Kreile and Bodo Mende were the first same-sex couple to marry in Germany as the new law allowing it went into effect.
PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH – A U.S. District judge blocked a Florida law that would require people and groups that provide abortion advice to register with the state and furnish women with a detailed explanation of the alternatives and procedures, including a “full and detailed description of the abortion procedure” and was opposed by the ACLU. The ACLU and others announced they are suing over new regulations allowing employers, to stop offering birth control in their insurance plans on moral or religious grounds. The ACLU sued the FDA to expand access to medication abortions, by demanding they eliminate the requirements that the abortion pill be dispensed at a medical facility under the care of a provider, require providers register with the manufacturer, and be capable of providing a surgical abortion if complications arise. Planned Parenthood announced they are constructing of a new health center in Milwaukee. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Planned Parenthood can continue with plans to obtain abortion licenses for its Springfield, Joplin and Columbia clinics in Missouri. Keep those Planned Parenthood $ coming.
LGBTQ SOLIDARITY – A rainbow flag will be installed at the Stonewall National Monument in New York City, the first such flag to be permanently placed on federal land. Westminster, Colorado’s mayor and town council issued a proclamation against “conversion therapy. Equality Utah settled a lawsuit against Utah over a sex-education law that allowed discrimination against homosexuality in schools. The Utah Dept. of Ed agreed to issue a memo reaffirming the right to be free of discrimination based on religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity and require schools develop and implement a safety plan for LGBTQ students. First United Methodist Church in Austin, TX announced that it will no longer allow weddings at the church until it is allowed to perform same-sex marriages. The Missouri Appellate Court held that a woman who helped raise a child with her former same-sex partner following artificial insemination can seek custody or visitation with the child even though they were never married and she was not the one who gave birth.
BREAKING GLASS CEILINGS AND PROGRESS FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR – I missed this one but thought it important to include, Congress passed the bipartisan Women, Peace and Security Act, if signed by 45, the law would make it a core priority for U.S. diplomatic, development and military personnel to include women in preventing and resolving conflicts. Mariah Klenke became the first female officer to lead an assault amphibian vehicle platoon for the Marines. Cynthia Mitchell is the first woman to be appointed as Colorado’s Pueblo County attorney. The Georgetown Kentucky Fire Dept. promoted Anne Willett making her their first ever female captain. Sahara Ali is the first female taxi driver in Hargeisa, Somalia, a city of 1.5 million. Melissa Grego was named CEO of Hollywood Reporter, Variety and Television Society, becoming the first woman to lead the group in its 70-year history. Rebecca Ackerman is the first woman promoted to battalion chief at the Austin Texas Fire Department.
STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS – California Gov. signed the “Sanctuary State” bill that bans most state and local agencies, from enforcing “holds” on people in custody, blocks the deputation of police as immigration agents and bars state and local law enforcement from inquiring into a person’s immigration status. The SPLC won asylum for a Guatemalan transgender woman who was beaten and threatened with death because of her gender identity. The SPLC and others filed suit against the administration seeking to compel the release of information on how a person can obtain a waiver of the Muslim ban restriction, including how to apply and standards for qualifying, as the waiver process is only way people from the barred countries may be allowed to enter the US. University of North Texas organized family planning workshops for undocumented immigrants to prepare essential documents for the care of children in case of deportation. Hawaii’s Attorney General sought to amend its Travel Ban complaint to challenge the third travel ban. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling, that applies only to immigration courts in California’s Central District, that Immigrants who are held while seeking the right to remain in the U.S., and who pose no threat if released, are entitled to bail set in an amount that considers how much they can afford and whether they can be safely monitored without bail.
FEDERAL AGENCIES STILL AT WORK – The EEOC has sued a number of companies this week including; Friedman Realty Group, Aqua America, Consolidated Edison, A&E Tire, for a variety of reasons, including disability, gender, and race discrimination. If it seems like I report on a lot of EEOC cases this article may help explain why. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed new regulations to protect consumers from predatory lending practices which would require “Pay day” and other short-term lenders to determine if people they loan money to can make the payments and fees when they come due and still meet basic living expenses and major financial obligations.
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. Continue reading