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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.
At Left in Alabama, mpmarus writes Taking Back the People's House:
Left in Alabama logo
Folks, the news about Jim Barton resigning his legislative seat is all over - even here at LiA.

What's not being mentioned is that this is a prime opportunity for us to get a head start on defeating the super majority held by the GOP in the Statehouse.

See, we all know that Barton is a Republican - so if a Democrat wins that seat, when they run again they have the advantage of being the incumbent. Remember, we need 5 additional seats in the House to defeat the super majority and win back a place at the table. Do the math—this one's easy.

At Progress New Mexico, Pat Davis writes Tell these legislators to DUMP ALEC NOW:
Progress Now New Mexico
These state legislators outed themselves as ALEC members when they signed a letter to a US Senator.

In just the past two elections, ALEC dumped more than $1,000,000 into the campaigns of New Mexico legislators and the ALEC caucus in the Roundhouse is growing.

CALL THESE ALEC MEMBERS AND TELL THEM TO DUMP ALEC NOW: Rep. Yvette Herrell (R- Alamogordo): (575) 430-2113; Sen. William Burt (R-Alamogordo): (575) 434-6140;
 Sen. Lee Cotter (R - Las Cruces): (575) 525-3200 and ALEC State Chairman Sen. Bill Payne (R- Albuquerque): (505) 293-5703 [...]

Common Cause New Mexico has already asked our attorney general to
investigate the secret ALEC “scholarship” slush fund but until he does
they keep using it to fund lavish trips like this for some speed dating
with big corporate funders.

The first thing we have to do to take back our democracy is get our
legislators out of ALEC.

At Progress Illinois, Ashlee Rezin writes Seniors Say They Endure Deplorable Conditions, Inept Management At South Side CHA Housing Complex:
The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is allowing roughly 250 residents of the Judge Slater Senior Apartments and the Judge Slater Annex to live in deplorable conditions with hostile management, according to a group of residents who are calling for agency officials to halt contracting with the building’s management company, the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation (WCDC).

The residents, backed by the grassroots advocacy group Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), allege the building is infested with mice and bugs, and many of the apartments have mold and holes in the walls. The tenants, who pay 30 percent of their income toward rent while the government pays the rest, also claim management often subjects seniors to a “culture of intimidation.”

“We want the WCDC out,” said Alphonso Jones, 67, who has lived at Judge Slater for five years as a care-giver for his 69 year-old brother. “It’s ridiculous what we’re put through ... The conditions we are forced to live under are disgusting, the building is infested with mice and roaches from wall to wall.”

More progressive state blog links and excerpts can be found below the fold.

At Indy Democrat Blog, Jon Easter writes Massa Stays on Rockport Case Despite Controversial Connections:

Mark Massa had no judicial experience before he was tapped to become Indiana Supreme Court Justice Mark Massa by Governor Mitch Daniels.

Then-Governor Daniels passed over hundreds of qualified judges across the state and picked his personal friend and his former Chief Counsel to be a Supreme Court appointment.  Many people thought it was a personal payback for Massa's candidacy for Marion County Prosecutor in 2010.  Even some Republicans whispered to me that Massa's heart was never really in that campaign and was only running to help cover the then-Governor's behind as the Marion County Prosecutor's position has the ability to investigate state government.

Fast forward a few years. The Rockport gasification plant case is coming before the Indiana Supreme Court. I won't dig too deep into the case. Eric Bradner of the Courier-Press does a nice job here. As Bradner describes it, the key question is how gas rates are set in the state. Lots of money stands to be made by the developers of the plant.  However, concerned Hoosier lawmakers passed regulation that would pretty much override the agreement.

On the side of the developer is the director of the plant project, Mark Lubbers. Lubbers is a former Daniels Administration member and, according to the Indianapolis Star, the man responsible for Massa's foray into politics some 30 years ago when both worked for Governor Robert Orr. Also at issue, according to the Star, is Massa's position as Daniels' Chief Counsel when legislation initially related to the green lighting of the plant was passed. Given these apparent red flags, the Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition, Spencer County Citizens for Quality of Life and Valley Watch filed a petition asking for Massa to recuse himself.

The Star reports this evening that Massa has refused to step aside.

At Progressive Alaska Philip Munger writes:

I just finished watching Democracy Now's interview from Tuesday with Lavabit founder, Ladar Levison, and with Levison's attorney, Jesse Binnall.  It was a compelling interview, with Levison reminding me of absolutely nothing I've ever seen before on a news interview about how someone has had to respond to Federal government pressure.

It was all a bit disturbing, close to scary.  This statement by Levison was, to me, the most troubling:

there’s information that I can’t even share with my lawyer, let alone with the American public. So if we’re talking about secrecy, you know, it’s really been taken to the extreme. And I think it’s really being used by the current administration to cover up tactics that they may be ashamed of.

At blue cheddar, bluecheddar writes Day 12 of Mass Arrests for Singing in Wisconsin’s Capitol Building:
The editor of The Progressive magazine was arrested:  ”Matt Rothschild was arrested by Capitol police on a misdemeanor obstruction and resisting arrest charge and released on $300 bail after photographing the arrests of other demonstrators singing in the rotunda. Rothschild said he didn’t comply with an officer’s order to move from the area of the arrest but did identify himself as a working journalist.”  

Today August 15, 2013 is the 12th day of mass arrests of singers in Wisconsin’s Capitol Building where over 200 citations have been given out since July 24th, primarily for assembling without a permit.  

Isthmus reported that today a Madison alder was arrested and Greg Gelembiuk observed that only an average of 20 participants were involved throughout the day’s singing on the rotunda floor.  Several Raging Grannies were arrested and word has it that a 14-year-old and 16-year-old were also arrested.

At Blog for Arizona, Pamela Powers Hannley writes Party of ‘NO’ Says ‘NO’ to Debates on CNN, NBC:
In recent years, the Republican Party has earned the well-deserved nickname of the “Party of NO.” Senior Senator form Kentucky, Mitch McConnell (AKA Senator Gridlock) is the Party of NO’s mascot with an astounding 413 filibusters since 2007.

The latest thing for the Republican National Committee to say “Hell, No!” to is debates on CNN and NBC. Why are they pulling debates from these two national networks? Because they plan to air a specials about Hillary Clinton.

Seriously? Instead of rising to the challenge of the Democratic Party’s early presidential favorite and finding an intelligent candidate (ie, not Rand Paul or Rick Perry), you’re going to HIDE from her and the American people?

Being afraid of a TV special that airs three years before the election is just silly– given the American public’s short attention span.

Stop your sniveling and man up.

At Rural and Progressive of Georgia, Katherine Helms Cummings writes Doc, I’d like a prescription for two old bathtubs:
He couldn’t get the General Assembly to pass a bill restricting state employee insurance funding to cover abortions, so Governor Nathan Deal worked another Back Room Deal and got insurance companies to stop covering abortions for state employees. It sort of begs the “Never you mind, missy” about medical procedures that are still legal and safe for women.

This closed door tactic earned Governor Deal a much deserved award from Planned Parenthood. Our Governor is Planned Parenthood Action’s Gynotician of the Week!

As Planned Parenthood Action points out, Deal earned his B.A. and his law degree at Mercer University. But he lacks a medical degree and I bet he hasn’t even played a doctor on TV. “Never you mind, missy” a gynotician (a politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health care decisions resulting in a combination of the words gynecologist and politician) knows way more than a woman and her board certified, state licensed doctor do about the best health care decisions for her.

At 43rd State Blues, Travis Manning writes Idaho Education News is the Whore of The Albertson Foundation:
43rd State Blues
Sen. Branden Durst’s recent op-ed critiquing Superintendent Luna’s “end around” the Idaho legislature, and his subsequent analysis of GOP political genealogy, has merit, especially as it relates to a newly minted news organization called Idaho Education News (IEN).

Funded by The Albertson Foundation, IEN started seven months ago in order to advance the school privatization agenda of Chairman Joe Scott. They bought the Boise State University name, where IEN is housed, simply by donating millions of dollars. Strategically, Albertson hired away established reporters Kevin Richert, Jennifer Swindell and Clark Corbin to do its messaging work, under the auspices of their new identity. Albertson uses the B.S.U. trademark as a PR gimmick to expedite credibility within Idaho.

Albertson and IEN blur the arena of ethical journalism, which situation is different from Boise State’s relationship with National Public Radio, where Boise State Public Radio, an NPR affiliate, is housed. In this case, NPR is an already-established news entity with decades-long experience and an international reputation for quality and unbiased reporting. IEN is far from achieving NPR’s status.

At Blue in the Bluegrass, Yellow Dog writes Goose the Economy: Expand Social Security:
Blue in the Bluegrass
Social Security payments - like food stamps and unemployment compensation and non-corporate welfare and EITC and every other government program that provides money to the working class - makes the economy grow.

That's because when the working class gets money, they spend it. That helps businesses, who then expand and hire more people, who spend the money they earn and ad infinitum in an endless virtuous loop of prosperity.

The economy is not growing the way it should because we are giving money to corporations and billionaires, who are not spending it the way the rest of us do.  They are stashing it away in overseas bank accounts while ten million Americans remain unemployed and underemployed.

What's the solution? Increase payments to the working class.  Start by expanding Social Security.

At Grumpy Abe of Ohio, Abe Zaidan writes It's final: 2016 GOP presidential convention to be in Disney World:
mong the many benefits of being a Grumpy Abe reader is that you often get news before it happens.  Today's scoop arrives from Washington, where the Republican brass reportedly has completed its months-long mission of finding a comfort zone as the site of its 2016 presidential convention.  The GOP stalwarts and honor guards will convene in Disney World. Chairman Reince Priebus, who is never without one more linguistic surprise, says D-World is a perfect venue  to integrate family fun and politics. He would not confirm that the search committee also believed that the Disney World setting was chosen so the party's  own clowns would not stand out so much in the crowds.
At Burnt Orange Report of Texas, Omar Araiza writes Disgusting Homophobic Remarks from San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan Caught in Secret Recording:
Burnt Orange Report
"So disgusting!" is what San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan thinks of gay people and San Antonio's LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance.
Earlier this month, we covered a piece on Fox News' highly flawed report of Mayor Julian Castro's proposal to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's non-discrimination ordinance. According to the opposition, the ordinance would just bar Christians from serving in the city council.

Now, a secret recording provides us with much more genuine motives from those that opposed the ordinance.

This past May, Councilwoman Elisa Chan was meeting with members of her staff to discuss the proposal and try to attempt to come up with a strategy to oppose the ordinance without seeming so intolerant.

In the course of the meeting, Chan expressed her highly distorted views on homosexuality -- which range from confusion about how stuff works to, well, really intolerant beliefs.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by New Mexico Kossaks.

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