Let me start this week’s list of what went right (6/24/17) by saying that there is a groundswell of change happening at the local level and a new wave of thousands of progressive leaders are running for school boards, city councils and other positions in their communities. In time they will rise to the top to be our Mayors, Members of Congress, and Governors. I will continue to have hope for the future. There is much to be grateful for and proud of this week.
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – Houston lawmakers voted to join the other cities challenging the states ‘anti-sanctuary cities’ bill. The Supreme Court ruled that a naturalized immigrant can’t be stripped of their citizenship for making false statements during the naturalization process that are irrelevant to an immigration official’s decision to grant or deny citizenship. Minneapolis dropped all the criminal charges against Ariel Vences Lopez , the immigrant wrongly asked about his immigration status in violation of city policy. Both Nashville TN and Salinas CA voted to restrict local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration officials. The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit to halt the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi nationals recently rounded up in raids arguing that ICE must give them an opportunity to prove they could face torture or death if returned to Iraq. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of an immigrant whose lawyer was incompetent and falsely told him that pleading guilty to a drug charge would not lead to his deportation and held that he should be able to reopen the proceedings against him and take his chances at trial.
SAVING THE PLANET – A group of Conservation groups filed notice of intent to sue the EPA for failing to ensure that Mississippi and Alabama have measures to prohibit conflicts of interest on state boards that approve and enforce Clean Air Act pollution permits. Many residents of Ottawa County Oklahoma are suing Michelin and B.F. Goodrich to hold them responsible for their alleged negligence in discharging dangerous chemicals at their local facility. Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice filed suit against the EPA for delaying implementation of the revised rules related to pesticides such as mandatory age minimums and better training for pesticide applicators to protect workers and the public from poisoning (belated report).
PRIDE MONTH PROGRESS – The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Quality of Life Advisory Commission held its first meeting after years of work by city staffers, activists and elected officials to establish it. California’s Attorney General has restricted state-funded or state-sponsored travel for state employees from business trips to Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota since those states passed measures limiting the rights of LGBT people.
WINNING FOR CIVIL RIGHTS – The U.S. Supreme Court held that a defendant is entitled to an expert who is independent from the prosecutor to gauge their health when they face the death penalty. The 11th Circuit Ct of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that prevented the ACLU from obtaining records regarding the use of cell phone tracker technology by the Sarasota Police Department. The ACLU sued the DC police for improperly using pepper spray and flash-bang grenades without warning or justification, and holding demonstrators (including a photojournalist and legal observer) without food, water or access to toilets, among other actions on Inauguration Day. A federal judge ruled that a cross located in a public Florida park must be removed after the American Humanist Association sued stating it made them feel unwelcome – that pesky constitutional separation of church and state.
PROTECTING A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE – NY Attorney General filed a lawsuit against a coalition of anti-choice protesters who harass and threaten patients, escorts, and staff at a women’s medical center that provides abortion services. Delaware Governor signed legislation removing restrictions on abortions from state law and guaranteeing women the right to seek the procedure even if federal law changes.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – Louisiana became the first state to prohibit all public universities from asking applicants about their criminal history. A federal judge branded Wisconsin’s juvenile prison for boys as a “troubled institution” for placing too many inmates in isolation and over-reliance on pepper spray and shackles in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. Continue reading
While we wait for April the Giraffe to give birth, let me tell you again about a lot of the good that happened this week (4/1/17).
- The Judge in Hawaii extended the order to stop the travel ban, and issued a preliminary injunction against the implementation.
- Protests against fascism and dictators spread to Russia. In a rare show of force, thousands of Russians took to the streets of Moscow and other cities in the biggest anti-government protests in years risking arrest and imprisonment.
- Daniel Ramirez Medina, who spent more than six weeks in immigration detention despite his DACA status was released from custody pending deportation proceedings.
- The Maryland legislature voted to ban fracking and sent it to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who publicly supports the ban. A number of horrible bills in Tennessee failed to pass at the end of this legislative session. This included a measure that would have dramatically relaxed Tennessee’s gun laws, a bill legally recognizing only marriages between one man and one woman, and this year’s version of the bathroom bill.
- The Spokane Valley and Spokane City Councils in Washington state approved anti-discrimination resolutions. Columbus City Council in Ohio voted to ban conversion therapy for minors. Columbus follows other cities like Cincinnati and Toledo that have passed similar ordinances. A reminder that a lot of good can be accomplished at your local level.
- The Supreme Court continued a trend toward limiting capital punishment, rejecting Texas’ approach to deciding which intellectually disabled people must be spared the death penalty. Justice RBG said Texas had failed to keep up with current medical consensus, relied too heavily on I.Q. scores and took account of factors rooted in stereotypes.
- Prairie dogs won bigly this week (along with other endangered animals). The 10th Circuit held that the ban on the unauthorized destruction endangered wildlife is a “cornerstone” of the Endangered Species Act and that “Congress had a rational basis to believe that regulation of the killing of the Utah prairie dog on non federal land is an essential part of the ESA’s broader regulatory scheme, which, in the aggregate, substantially affects interstate commerce.” A coalition of environmental groups, including the NRDC and the Sierra Club challenged the federal permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, arguing that additional environmental scrutiny is needed because the initial environmental review is inadequate and outdated. Your donations hard at work.
- A federal judge in Kentucky ruled that a suit against the creepy tweeter for inciting the use of violence against protesters when he told supporters at a campaign rally a year ago to “get ’em out of here” can proceed. The Judge wrote that because violence had broken out at a prior Trump rally and that known hate group members were in the Louisville crowd, Trump’s ordering the removal of an African-American woman was “particularly reckless.” Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute sued the Dept. of Homeland Security over their delay in responding to their Freedom of Information request regarding data on how often electronic devices were searched at border crossings, complaints about the practice, and government training materials.
- Jan Rader was appointed the Chief of the Huntington Fire Department becoming the first female fire chief in the state of West Virginia. Meanwhile, a Michigan lawyer, Andrew Shirvell was disbarred in a misconduct case related to his public hostility for a gay student leader at the University of Michigan.
- The PAC “Run For Something” founded by former Clinton Campaign staffers post-election announced that 8,000 people have contacted them since they formed expressing an interest in running for office and Emily’s List announced that 10,000 women have reached out to them for information on seeking office. Now that is something that gives me great hope for our future. Check out Sister District which can help you connect to those in nearby red districts that need help.
My one and only plea for this week, work hard and email, call, fax, and protest to stop the upcoming appointment of Gorsuch. We stopped Trumpcare, we can stop this too. Resistbot is a great FREE and easy to use fax tool. Just Text “Resist” to 50409 and see how effective it is. Brought to you by Jodi Harawitz. Feel free to share.
I am excited to bring you this week’s edition of What Went Right so let’s get right to it my favorites.
- Two Federal Judges have blocked the new travel ban, preventing it from going into effect. One of the judges wrote, a “reasonable, objective observer” would view even the new order as “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose.”
- A Federal District Court permanently blocked Mississippi’s Texas-style clinic shutdown, ensuring the last abortion clinic in the state will remain open. The court refused to hear an appeal of the ban on the law, which required any physician associated with an abortion facility to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
- Rachel Maddow teased us with a release of the first two pages of the twittler-in-chief’s 2005 Federal tax return on prime time TV in a scathing take down. We can only hope that the full read comes soon.
- The Mississippi House defeated a bill requiring state universities to fly the state flag. Why do I include this? Well the Mississippi state flag has the Confederate emblem on it and some are trying to find a way to make the schools fly it since they can’t force the full confederate flag anymore. Gov. Matt Mead in Wyoming vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to carry guns at state and local government meetings.
- In more legal wins; a Federal Judge held the U.S. Border Control in civil contempt for failing to maintain surveillance tapes in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and others, claiming the agency detains migrants in inhumane conditions. The Arizona Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s minimum-wage law, rejecting a challenge by business groups to the Prop. 206 law. The law raises Arizona’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020 and requires employers to offer mandatory paid sick leave as of July 1.
- Alexander City, Alabama will pay $680,000 in damages for the 190 low-income people who were unconstitutionally jailed for not paying tickets in a settlement agreement with the Southern Poverty Law Center as part of a lawsuit challenging the cities operation of a modern-day debtors’ prison in which people were jailed for being too poor to pay fines. The New York City Police Dept. agreed to install a civilian watchdog on a surveillance panel as part of a settlement to strengthen oversight of the NYPD surveillance tactics as a result of a class action brought by NY’s Muslim community.
- A Charleston jury awarded a black couple $1.3 million in damages for being arrested after they accused a white state trooper of racial profiling during a traffic stop. Neither victims were permanently injured, but the jury was asked to send a message with a large award, and they did after seeing the dash-cam footage.
- In deep red Alabama, Walt Maddoxx, a democrat, won re-election as the Mayor of Tuscaloosa with 90 percent of the vote. Democratic candidate for City Council in North Phoenix Arizona, Debra Stark, won over her Republican opponent. Stark will be the first Democrat in about three decades to win that seat. Change starts at the local level.
- Dutch voters rejected hate. Prime Minister Rutte and his conservative party won over the xenophobic, far-right-wing Freedom Party. Rutte said “This is a night when the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, has said ‘stop’ to the wrong kind of populism.” The Dutch left party, GreenLeft, also won big, increasing its seats in parliament from four to 14.
- In minor, yet entertaining news; McDonald’s calls Donald Trump ‘a disgusting excuse of a President’ with ‘tiny hands’ in a tweet. They later announced the account had been hacked, but was it really? I like to think not, and sadly Ivanka Trump has discontinued her high-end fine jewelry line because enough rich people didn’t listen to Kellyann Conway and buy her $10,000 baubles.
So keep on participating in town halls, help organize your community, make use of Emily’s List and Crowdpac.com if you want to consider running for office, and remember it takes lots of advance planning, so now is a good time to get started.
What Went Right back by popular demand for this week. I couldn’t narrow down my favorites this week, so the list is long.
1. All 100 Senators, in a rare show of unity, sent a letter to Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the FBI urging them to assist in protecting Jewish institutions and help prosecute those who threaten them in response to a rise in anti-Semitism
2.The Supreme Court ruled that when a juror makes a clear statement indicating that they relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict, jury secrecy rules give way to allow a review of the jury deliberations to determine if the defendant was denied a fair trial. Justice Kennedy wrote “An effort to address the most grave… racial bias is… an effort… to ensure that our legal system remains capable of coming ever closer to the promise of equal treatment under the law that is so central to a functioning democracy.
3. In a roundup up of state actions; Maryland passed an extension of a successful state program aimed at reducing per-capita energy use, reminding us that environmental protections also happen at the local and state level. The Republican Governor of Massachusetts broke with the usual Republican position and pledged to replace any lost federal Planned Parenthood funds with state funds. Two New Mexico bills that would have placed restrictions on abortions were killed by a NM House Committee. And going big out there in Texas, democratic State Rep. Jessica Farrar, filed a bill that would penalize men for “unregulated masturbatory emissions” and regulate Viagra use.
4. The fight against TrumpCare gained powerful supporters when the AARP, the American Medical Association, and the largest Health Insurance trade association, announced that they didn’t support it as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations.
5. Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, and Oregon filed lawsuits against the revised travel ban, arguing the order will harm its Muslim population, tourism and foreign students.
6. The SPLC secured the release of Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old DREAMER, from ICE custody after 10 days in detention after she was detained moments after speaking publicly about immigrants’ rights. Her arrest was a transparent attempt to chill free speech and intimidate immigrants who speak up. These are your donations at work.
7. Just to prove to you that Canada isn’t the only cool place to live, Iceland announced it will soon require all employers with more than 25 employees to certify they give equal pay for work of equal value. While other countries, and Minnesota, have equal-salary policies, Iceland is the first to make it mandatory for both private and public firms. If they can do it there, we can do it here.
8. Two democratic candidates in very conservative districts are raising large amounts of money in their bids to give republican candidates a run for their money. Jon Ossoff, is running for Congress in a special election in April to fill Tom Price’s seat and has raised almost 3 million. Kathryn Allen, a democrat and doctor, in Utah was so outraged by Jason Chaffetz’s infamous i-phone/healthcare comment that she decided to run against him after her exploratory steps raised over $350,000 in just days.
9. International Women’s Day brought out thousands of people in many cities across the country for demonstrations, while a call for pro-trump rallies brought out only a tiny handful of people at a few locations with headlines like “tens of people showed up”.
10. I try not to make this post controversial and would not usually consider death good news and I have no doubt I will face many unpleasant comments over this, but nevertheless I will persist on behalf of all the people who have been saved from future harm. Joseph Nicolosi, a co-founder and acting practitioner of gay conversion therapy died and will no longer be able to inflict untold suffering on those facing his extremely damaging brand of torture.
Keep those donations flowing, those protests loud, those phone calls, emails, letters and postcards rolling out, and consider running for office no matter where you live.