|Each Saturday, this feature links and excerpts commentary and reporting from a dozen progressive state blogs in the past seven days around the nation. The idea is not only to spotlight specific issues but to give readers who may not know their state has a progressive blog or two a place to become regularly informed about doings in their back yard. Just as states with progressive lawmakers and activists have themselves initiated innovative programs over a wide range of issues, state-based progressive blogs have helped provide us with a point of view and inside information we don't get from the traditional media. Those blogs deserve a larger audience. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite you think I should know about. Standard disclaimer: Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.|
For several weeks now, BART management has mounted a sophisticated PR campaign, stating that its workers are overpaid and unreasonable. But its evidence on employee pay and benefits has been misleading at best; its estimates of average pay include many highly paid managers, thus exaggerating significantly the pay of frontline employees. Likewise, management's statements on employee contributions to health benefits have failed to account for the significant out-of-pocket expenses incurred by many BART employees.
Denigrating your workers in the media may be a winning strategy in the battle for public opinion, but it's a foolhardy one for senior management running an organization whose success depends so heavily on employee commitment and flexibility.
This week's public hearing in Oakland before Governor Brown's three-member investigative panel provided an entirely different version of events from BART's media campaign. During several hours of testimony, union witnesses described in great detail BART management's "Comedy of Errors" bargaining style. If their account is accurate -- and BART did not dispute the specific allegations, though it did add a couple of its own -- this behavior provides almost a textbook example of 'surface bargaining,' i.e., going through the motions of negotiating with no intention of reaching an agreement. Without exception, moreover, union officials stated that this year's BART negotiations were not only the worst ever at BART, but the worst they had ever seen in several decades in the labor movement.
Rather than make a legitimate effort to negotiate a settlement, management has repeatedly employed delaying tactics [...]
At Delaware Liberal, Delaware Dem writes:
At Dirigo Blue of Maine, JURISDEBTOR writes David Brooks is just making this up out of thin air: Structural vs Cyclical Unemployment Edition:I finally got already to going through all the bills that were plowed through by our General Assembly on June 30. Yes, it took over a month. No, not really, I’ve been enjoying the summer too. This time, the Vote Tracker is downloadable in PDF form, rather than the Excel spreadsheet. Further, the Tracker, or rather, the legislation we are tracking, is organized into the following categories: 1) Passed and Signed Bills, 2) Passed One House, But Not the Other, 3) Waiting for Votes, either in Committee or on the floor, and 4) Defeated and Tabled Bills.
Now, remember, this Tracker only keeps track of legislation that is of a priority or of concern to those of us on the liberal and progressive side of the aisle. Indeed, the Tracker is a joint effort between Delaware Liberal and the Progressive Democrats for Delaware (PDD). The PDD announced their legislative priorities earlier this year, and it was and is a pretty good, and long, list (in no order of priority)::
Minimum Wage Increase • Opposing Cuts to Medicaid • Marriage Equality • Death Penalty Repeal • Gun Control Legislation • Progressive Tax Rates • Single Payer Healthcare • Lobbying Disclosure Reform • Independent Redistricting Reform • Amending the Anti-Discrimination Law to Include Transgendered Persons • Charter School Reform
• No Excuse Absentee Voting • Manufactured Home Rent Justification
RECENTLY I discussed the fallacies contained in the arguments underpinning Senator Susan Collins’ legislation that the ACA is or will cause a drastic shift in the labor market from full-time to part-time work. The problem with Collins’ legislation–and the arguments underpinning it–is that it seeks to treat the problems in the labor market with the wrong cure. Simply stated, the recent downturn in the economy and labor market is a cyclical problem–slack demand where consumers fail to purchase goods, fewer purchases means business incomes decline, which results in businesses laying off workers to reduce costs, and so on. Collins’ legislation basically wants to ignore the cyclical cause of the recent economic downturn, and instead argue that the ACA–not yet full implemented, and passed by Congress after the economy tanked–is what ails the labor market/economy.
The state that Dave Reichert represents voted by a comfortable margin to set up a legal market for marijuana. But instead of working with his fellow Washington representatives to stand up for his voters, he’s just going to sit with his thumb up his ass and watch it “crumble.”
Personally, I don’t think it will crumble. There will be problems, in particular with how new businesses do their banking, but the fact that people would much rather buy marijuana in regulated stores will eventually bring us to a stable system. But the important point here is that these are problems that Congress has the ability to fix. So Dave Reichert’s position is: I could do something about it, but I’d rather watch it crumble and let criminal gangs continue to run the market. He really does fit in with his fellow House GOP buffoons.
At Blog for Iowa, Paul Deaton writes Climate March Staff Trained by Al Gore:
At Raging Chicken Press of Pennsylvania, Sean Kitchen writes Pennsylvania’s 8th Challenger Kevin Strouse Discusses NSA Debate at Grassroots Meeting:The staff of The Great March for Climate Action was spotted by Blog for Iowa at the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training held in Chicago from July 30 through Aug. 1. (L to R: Shari Hrdina, Zach Heffernen and Courtney Kain). The event was the 23rd training of climate leaders conducted by former vice president Al Gore since exiting politics. As Gore said about himself, “I am a recovering politician.” The Climate Reality Project has become an important part of his life’s work.
On July 31, Gore began a twelve hour day by presenting the latest version of the slide show he developed that became the book and film An Inconvenient Truth. He then explained the slide show, one slide at a time, so attendees could present it themselves. He closed the day with group photos with training attendees. The Great March for Climate Action staff was part of a cadre of 1,200 people from all 50 states and 40 countries who participated in the training.
At R.I. Future.org, Bob Plain writes Priest to legislators: I will campaign against you from church:On Thursday, August 1, Montgomery County DFA hosted an intimate talk with 8th Congressional District Candidate Kevin Strouse, attendees tested the first-time candidate on multiple issues. Strouse responded to tough questions on issues including the Affordable Care Act, economic regulations, the NSA controversy, environmental issues, climate change and much more. Progressives seemed to be impressed with the tone Strouse responded to attendees and the direct answers he gave to persistent questioning. If he advances past the primary, Kevin Strouse is a solid progressive who has a chance to snag Mike Fitzpatrick’s highly contested seat. In the last election, the 8th Congressional District was one of several districts that voted for Barack Obama, but chose to keep an incumbent Republican.
At this point, Strouse is shaping up to be the frontrunner in the local primary by out-fundraising Shaughnessy Naughton $254,000 to $89,000. While this is Strouse first run for public office, he has a strong resume and family history in the area. Veterans organizations have endorsed the candidate for his three tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq. On top of that, Strouse spent [eight] years in the CIA; [six] in counter-terrorism and [two] years in financial crimes. When the meeting began, Strouse explained that it was government obstructionism coupled with budget cuts and budget deadlines affecting his work at the CIA that pushed him into the race for Pennsylvania’s Congressional 8th District.
Because of Strouse’s service as a CIA agent and Army Ranger, I was curious about his positions the recent NSA revelations and the conversation. Pertaining to the NSA, the crowd raised questions about the leaker, Edward Snowden, how the leaks have been unveiled, feelings on the national conversation the leaks have sparked, his experience with those in the NSA and CIA and the privatization of our national security spectrum.
At Blue Oklahoma, DocHoc writes Editorial Claims Anti-Abortion Bills About Health:“I’m praying for each of you, that you turn back to God,” said an email purportedly from Father Brian Sistare, who is now the priest at Sacred Heart in Woonsocket. “I’m also going to let my Parish know exactly how you voted, so come re-election time, you will not be re-elected.” [...]
The email was sent to the 26 state senators who voted for marriage equality and was signed and seemingly sent by Sistare. Sistare, who was a priest at St. Rocco Church in Johnston at the time, did not return a call for comment earlier this week to RI Future and has since declined to comment to other media outlets as well.
At Blue Virginia, NARAL President Ilyse Hogue Discusses "Outrageous Lies" at VA "Crisis Pregnancy Centers":Another anti-abortion editorial published in The Oklahoman is so excruciatingly disingenuous and so filled with false comparisons it deserves a mention if only for conducting a rhetoric analysis of juvenile argumentation.
The short editorial, titled "Health question:," (Aug. 5, 2013), makes the point that a recently proposed Alabama bill and other similar bills throughout the country restricting abortion is really an issue about good health standards, which "would be noncontroversial if abortion weren't involved." But the clear intent of the Alabama bill, sponsored by state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin and later blocked by a federal judge, is to essentially do away with the abortion procedure in Alabama, not protect women's health. In other words, so this argument goes, to ensure good health standards we should do away with medical procedures. That's setting good standards, isn't it? Let's do away with basic medical treatments in order to have good standards.
At Blue Jersey, Rosi Efthim writes Steve Lonegan for Senate tries to rescue candidate from racist campaign tweet:As Hogue explains: "Not only are [these centers] lying to women, but they are actually endangering women's health...[they] take money from much-needed programs that actually support families that need the help and moving them into these "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" that try and shame and humiliate women and endanger their health by giving them the kind of information that you played for your viewers. This is the face of the anti-choice movement, and the politicians that stand with them like Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia...voters have a right to know that these politicians support these centers that intimidate women and like to them and are often doing it with taxpayer dollars."
Also note that these so-called "crisis centers" are funded in part by the state of Virginia's "Choose Life" license plates, and of course they're strongly supported by Gov. McDonnell, Attorney General Cuccinelli, and Cuccinelli "clones" Mark Obenshain and EW Jackson. It's disgusting.
P.S. The lies include that condoms don't work, that birth control pills cause cancer, that all abortion (even in cases of rape or incest) is murder (and destroys a woman's self esteem). Again, this is YOUR TAX MONEY AT WORK! Grrrrr.
At My Left Nutmeg of Connecticut, abg22 writes Democrats' Disarray in Municipal Elections Doesn't Bode Well for 2014:Politico:
The tweet read, "#breaking just leaked - Cory Booker's foreign policy debate prep notes," and below it was a map of heavily African-American Newark. Scrawled over the map in different places was, "West Africa, Guyana, Portugal, Brazil." Another annotation, pointing to Newark, read, "Middle East," followed by "Afghanistan, Pakistan, plus Bangladesh and Trinidad."
It went up. And then it quickly came down. Before it did, Politico snapped [a] screen shot. It came from the @LoneganForNJ Twitter account, which has an embarrassing 85 followers (one of which is @BlueJersey).
Running the damage control is campaign consultant and Lonegan frontman Rick Shaftan. Playing the Steve's-more-wholesome-and-gooder-than-our-staff-or-consultants card, Lonegan said "didn't find it funny or reflective of the way he thinks and asked that it be taken down immediately".
I love it when these people are simply ... themselves.
At New Mass Group, ronconsalvo writes It’s Time to Hold Big Banks Accountable in Boston:This year's municipal elections have displayed a disturbing level of incompetence and internal dissension among Democrats that should be troubling to Dan Malloy and his political team going into next year's gubernatorial election.
In New Haven, the Democratic Town Committee - "under new management" since the pro-City Hall machine was deposed in 2011 and 2012 -- missed a key filing deadline that nullified all the party's candidate endorsements, forcing even endorsed candidates to petition onto the primary ballot. For a few days, local party leaders -- who had mistakenly mailed the paperwork to the Secretary of the State rather than the city clerk's office - formed a circular firing squad; but ultimately not a single member of the DTC's executive committee was held accountable for this monumental lapse in competence. In Norwalk the hopelessly divided Democrats failed to endorse a mayoral candidate after multiple ballots. The Democrats' inconclusive convention took place a few weeks after a violent fracas between the chair of the Democratic Town Committee and a disgruntled Democratic Board of Education candidate, that ended only when police were called to the scene. In Danbury, where Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one, Democrats could not even field a candidate to challenge incumbent GOP Mayor Mark Boughton. In Stamford, Democratic mayoral candidates are poised to wage an extremely expensive primary battle that will make defeating probable Republican nominee Michael Fedele much more difficult in the state's most GOP-friendly big city. Bridgeport and Hartford do not have mayoral elections this year, but Democratic mayors in both cities are currently embroiled in damaging scandals: in Bridgeport regarding the construction at taxpayer expense of a driveway to the seaside mansion of a politically connected developer (not to mention an embarrassing meltdown of the mayor's "education reform" efforts that has been well-chronicled by Jonathan Pelto), in Hartford over the almost unbelievably stupid misbehavior of the mayor's now-former chief of staff and the increasingly dysfunctional relationship between the mayor's office and the city council (both controlled by Democrats).
In every neighborhood of Boston there are abandoned, neglected homes that become eyesores, drag down property values and attract crime. Last week, I went to one of these disgraces in Hyde Park where piles of trashed ringed the perimeter, sharp nails poked through loose lumber dangling from the roof and signs posted on a window warned that the structure was unsafe.
What’s really outrageous is that this shameful sight is owned by a huge international bank that foreclosed on the house several years ago. A bank whose CEO shuttles around the world on a corporate jet, but won’t cut the grass in front of a house they own in a proud neighborhood of this city – it’s outrageous.
In 2010, I passed an ordinance that started to hold big banks accountable for the blighted properties they own in Boston. That ordinance established a registry of foreclosed properties and allowed the city to impose fines on landlords who failed to keep them up. Now, many big banks just pay the fine – it’s a cost of doing business for them – without fulfilling their responsibility as good neighbors.
Now, I’ve proposed going even ever further to hold big banks accountable and as mayor, that’s exactly what I’ll do.