Since the flip flops and bombs coming out of the WH may have your head spinning, here are some concrete facts to keep you positive in this week’s edition of What Went Right (4/16/17)
- Change is happening from the ground up. The Anchorage Alaska Assembly got more progressive with the election of democrat Suzanne LaFrance, over a Trump supporter, replacing a retiring conservative, along with the election of the two first openly gay representatives to the Assembly. Democrats kicked but in Illinois. The city of Kankakee elected its first African-American, Democratic mayor. West Deerfield Township will be led entirely by Democrats for the first time. Elgin Township flipped to an all-Democratic board. Normal Township elected Democratic supervisors and trustees to run its board ― the first time in more than 100 years. Cummings and Hosea became the first black members of Normal Town Council and Normal Township Trustee, in a predominately white, Republican region of the state.
- Arizona enacted legislation to reform the state’s civil-asset forfeiture policies, increasing the burden of proof required for property seizure, which is a really good thing. Forfeiture laws lead to “policing for profit”, allowing for seizure of property based on just the suspicion of criminal activity, without a requirement of a conviction or even a charge. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to sign a bill that would toughen criminal penalties for harassment based on sexual orientation or disabilities, putting then on the same level as harassment based on color, religion, ancestry and national origin.
- Delaware is doing its part to help immigrants. The Christina School District is the first school district there to officially adopt a “safe haven” policy to safeguard undocumented students in their district, and the Delaware Dept. of Health and Social Services sent an email to employees stating the agency will “respect” immigrants’ privacy and will not share information about anyone’s immigration status without a court order. Iranian immigrant, Askar Sahebjam, 73, traveling with an approved visa, who was held for questioning and deported back to Iran when he arrived in the US on the day of the first travel ban, has now been allowed back in the US after three months of advocacy on his behalf.
- A Federal Judge again found that a Texas voter ID law was passed with the intention of discriminating against minority voters. The judge had previously made a similar ruling, but was instructed to review the issue again after Texas appealed the decision,
- Republic Governor of Alabama resigned amid campaign finance fraud indictment and is replaced by a woman, Lt. Governor Kay Ivey (albeit another republican). The Governor is one of three top republican leaders in Alabama to be forced from power recently. The House Speaker was convicted of felony ethics violations and the head of the state’s judiciary was suspended after being convicted of violating judicial ethics with an order against same-sex marriage.
- The ACLU filed more than a dozen lawsuits nationwide seeking government documents related to the implementation of the travel ban after the Customs and Border Protection offices failed to substantively respond to Freedom of Information Act requests and they sued the Wisconsin state university system for refusal to provide health insurance coverage to trans state employees who are seeking to have gender confirmation surgery.
- The Gwinnett County Police Chief did the right thing by immediately firing two white police officers who were seen on video beating a handcuffed black man they’d pulled over for a traffic violation rather than defend and praise them or blame the victim.
- Virginia Senators raised the salary of the female clerk of the chamber to bring it in line with her male counterpart on the House side, who was earning $19,000 a year more, though she’s been on the job for 27 years to her counterparts only 5 years.
- The federal hiring freeze has been lifted.
- Bill O’Reilly is taking “a vacation” after his advertisers abandoned him in droves.
- And our fun facts for the week, Health Inspectors in Florida found 13 violations at the ‘Winter White House” kitchen, a record high, 3 of the violations were deemed “high priority,” meaning they could allow the presence of illness-causing bacteria on food served. I hope no one important that golfs there almost every weekend gets sick. A Florida Court upheld a ruling against Trump National Doral’s who tried to stiff a local paint store, ordering them to pay a Miami paint store over $315,000 in paint costs and $282,949 in attorney’s fees. Paint Stop winning bigly. And let’s not forget that Ben Carson got stuck in an elevator for 20 minutes while touring a Miami Housing Project.
I have to give out a shout out to the many resisters all over the country that turned out in YUGE numbers for tax day marches, indivisible groups attending Easter break town halls in droves, and a special nod to Rise and Resist New York for the civil disobedience they engaged in over the travel ban at Trump Tower in NYC. They Rock.
Let’s remember we have an important election next week in Georgia 4/18 and upcoming People’s Climate Change March 4/29 and March for Science 4/22.
Since we could all probably do with hearing some good news this week, I bring you another edition of What Went Right
- In the war against sexual harassment and gender discrimination, women scored big as 60 companies pulled their ads from the Bill O’Reilly show after disclosure that Fox paid millions to settle sexual misconduct lawsuits against him. This adds to the win last week by Women’s Hockey who negotiated a landmark settlement with large pay raises, benefits on par with the men, better marketing and promotion, and support to help advance women’s hockey.
- The world just got a little bit safer with the removal of Steve Bannon from the National Security Council and maybe we will see some progress in the House’s investigation of Russia-Trump now that Senator Nunes resigned from the committee investigating it. Nunes stepped down because he is now under investigation for making unauthorized disclosures of classified information while overseeing his panel’s investigation.
- The LGBT community won a huge victory when a Federal Appeals Court ruled a 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBT workers from job discrimination, expanding workplace protections in the landmark law to include sex discrimination in the workplace. The Chief Judge wrote “It is actually impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without discriminating on the basis of sex. It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the ‘sex’ from ‘sexual orientation.'” And in a similar decision, a U.S. District judge ruled that the Federal Fair Housing Act bars housing discrimination against LGBT people. Not to mention Dutch men walked hand-in-hand throughout the country in solidarity for a gay couple that had been attacked.
- There is one federal agency is still doing its job. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Car Wash Headquarters, a national car wash company for racial discrimination, alleging they favored less qualified white workers over African Americans for management positions.
- A coalition of officials from ten states and New York City sued the Dept. of Energy over its delay in the implementation of energy efficiency standards and the Pesticide Action Network and the NRDC sued the EPA to force it to take action on a pesticide linked to nervous system and brain disorders.
- Alabama politicians really do care about their constituents. Alabama didn’t take the Medicaid extension, but announced a new program to give away up to 60,000 “baby boxes” that serve as bassinets, in an effort to combat sudden infant mortality. The boxes come with a firm mattress and fitted sheet, diapers, baby wipes, educational materials, etc.
- NYS announced a budget plan that will make tuition free at public colleges in New York City and NY State for families with incomes under $125,000 and an additional $10 million dollars to provide immigrants facing deportation with free legal representation.
- There’s a new democratic sheriff in town, and he announced the closing of the notorious Tent City Jail in Arizona where prisoners are forced to live outside and wear pink underwear compliments of Joe Arpaio (R). Arpaio, is himself facing possible jail time as he goes on trial soon for criminal contempt in racial profiling cases after losing his re-election bid. Also in local news, a judge approved an agreement between Baltimore and the Justice Dept. to overhaul the Baltimore police department, denying requests from the Justice Dept. to delay it and the Cambridge City Council passed an increase in the required affordable housing contribution from large developers.
- The future of investigative journalism is bright. Kansas high school students working on their school newspaper did some old school, boots on the ground, investigation on their new principal uncovering a web of deceit and lies about her background leading to her resignation.
- Not to be outdone by the resistance at the Statue of Liberty or Greenpeace in DC, activist unfurled a large “Impeach Trump” banner on opening day for the Washington National’s baseball team at Nationals Park in D.C.
We have big special Congressional elections coming up in Georgia (4/18) and Kansas (4/11). Call, text, and email your friends and family there and remind them to get out and vote, canvass, and phone bank for John Ossoff and James Thompson. If you don’t live in Kansas sign up to phonebank from the comfort of your own home at www/votejamesthompson.com/phonebank