|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.|
Amid all the drama surrounding Detroit’s bankruptcy this past week, there was a supremely ironic announcement made that came the same day a federal bankruptcy court judge cleared the way for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to proceed with the Chapter 9 filing. Plans for new sports complex, centered around a new Red Wings hockey arena, were revealed. The complex will cost $650 million of which $285 million will come from tax dollars. The arena itself will cost $450 million and 58% of that cost, $261.5 million, will be paid for by tax revenues.
The bonds are being issued by the state in part under a tax-increment-financing, or TIF, plan. Under a TIF arrangement, “future gains in taxes [are used] to subsidize current improvements, which are projected to create the conditions for said gains.” In other words, the project will essentially pay for itself by increasing property values and tax revenues in the future after it is built.
At Uppity Wisconsin, Steve Hanson writes Arrests at Capitol of Solidarity Singers:Well this is embarrassing.
Here is a leaked document from the National Republican Party in Washington. I suggest you read it. It is hilarious. It instructs Steve Daines and his House GOP colleagues on how to tour their districts during the August recess. Namely, it is chock full of advice on how to seem popular, how to blame “Washington” for all of our nation’s ills, how to frighten people about Obamacare and “red tape,” and how to use all of these techniques, and many others, to increase the chances of getting re-elected.
If you thought Republican politicians were stupid, then you apparently were right because this memo speaks to them like they are imbeciles.
Continue below the fold for more of this week's progressive state blogs.A little while ago the social media started lighting up with news of arrests at the state capitol. Solidarity Sing-Along members have been arrested in the Capitol, as the Department of Administration and Capitol Police are flexing their muscles after the recent court ruling that the DOA rules for the capitol are constitutional. We have heard that at least four have been arrested and released, and that the sing-along restarted after the arrests. Once again the cat and mouse game has restarted in Madison, and I expect we will continue to see rounds of catch-and release, followed by more cases of the charges being thrown out in court later. More details when we know more from up here in the great Northwest!
At Show Me Progress of Missouri, WillyK writes :Bobby Jindal spends an awful amount of time appearing with industry executives, handing off big fat wads of taxpayer cash in exchange for a business relocation or plant expansion. Each announcement comes with a “will create 10 million direct jobs and 10 trillion indirect jobs” line, no doubt the result of some sort of Jindal-Jobs-Jenerator contraption. You input the amount of taxpayer cash we want to turn over and the JJJ spits out a random number of mythical jobs this project may create in order to rationalize the huge piece of corporate welfare Jindal just handed over.
It’s easy to hand over mega-slush-fund and tax incentive dollars for Jindal because they are fake. Fake in the sense he doesn’t have to account for their loss nor come back later with any tangible results for the spending.
One number does require some accountability, however, and that number is one that Jindal has avoided mentioning.
That’s Louisiana’s unemployment rate. And while the national economy continues to improve, Louisiana’s seems to be sputting. After 5 years of Jindalnomics, we’ve gone from sub-4% unemployment to 7%. That’s nearly double.
Yesterday in Warrensburg President Obama tried to raise once again the issue of economic growth and its corollaries such as infrastructure investment, education and energy. The response from Missouri's GOP politicians can only have been inspired by the fact that they're secretly trying out their stand-up comedy routines before getting together and hitting open-mike night at some comedy club:
Back in Washington, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said on the Senate floor that he was glad the president is visiting Missouri. "But these speeches sound an awful lot like the 2012 campaign speeches. I think we need to move beyond that. We need to not just pivot to the economy, but we need to stick with the economy."
"Our nation would be in a better place if, instead of spending all his time giving speeches filled with unrealized rhetoric about a better America, President Obama would actually work with Republicans to address the enormous problems facing our nation," Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said in a statement.
Somebody needs to remind Senator Blunt about the priorities of his GOP congressional colleagues. Although perhaps he's aware of some big economic impact that adheres to outlawing all abortions at 20 weeks; votes to ban gender-based abortion (which is not a problem in the U.S.); 38 (I believe that's the current count) purely symbolic votes in the House to defund Obamacare, numerous set-to's over shutting the down the government over such a routine matter as raising the debt limit to cover the nations already incurred obligations (all spending approved by congress, by the way); this summer's unending hearings over poorly manufactured and managed non-scandals, etc. and etc. (And, by the way, don't forget, all this useless activity costs us money.)
At Appalachian Voices of West Virginia, Rory writes As the Barn Burns, the House Stays Cold on Energy Efficiency:
At R.I. Future.org, Bob Plain writes Occam’s razor: GOP is weak because RI is progressive:On June 12, we wrote about the Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP), which could help millions of residential electricity customers across the United States access low-cost financing for improving the energy efficiency of their homes, leading to substantial savings on their electricity bills. This in turn would lower electricity costs for all residential customers while bolstering local economies and promoting the expansion of the energy services industry (read: jobs).
At the time, RESP had been passed through the U.S. Senate as part of the Senate Farm Bill, and we were awaiting the House to pass it’s own bill, which did not include RESP. The next step would be to ensure that RESP survived the conference committee where the two versions were brought together and a final Farm Bill was agreed upon between the two chambers. However, since our last post on this issue, the House failed to pass a Farm Bill at all and has now split the bill into two separate bills, complicating the whole process.
At Cottonmouth, David McDowell laments, T-Model Ford's gone:Sam Howard has accomplished some of the best quantitative analysis of local elections that you will ever see produced by an unpaid journalist in his ongoing series about why mixed-member proportional voting would alter Rhode Island politics and power structures. And yesterday Ted Nesi touched on the same subject in a piece about why the Ocean State would benefit from more competitive elections. Meanwhile, it turns out Ken Block is considering running for governor as Republican rather than a Moderate.
All three events point to a similar conclusion: that a more influential GOP would improve political discourse in the Ocean State. Well … making political discourse less one-sided is a good thing only if it ALSO makes it more representational of the people the politics purports to represent.
As Nesi points out, mainstream party labels do little to describe local politicians:
“…Rhode Island Republicans have a good point – local officeholders deal with a whole range of issues that don’t easily fit into the national parties’ widely recognized platforms. If you tell me what position someone takes on Obamacare or climate change, I could probably tell you which party he or she belongs to – but I still couldn’t tell you what he thinks about mandatory parking minimums or actuarial standards for pension plans.”
I met him when I moved to Greenville in 2004 to serve as an assistant public defender. Greenville wasn't a big town then; hasn't been that big for awhile, really since the barge businesses left town.At Blue Oregon, Kari Chisholm writes OR-GOV: Dennis Richardson runs for Governor:
Me being me, I quickly found the comfortable place where folks went after work to share the happening of the day over a glass of wine, beer, or whiskey. It was the latter that brought T-Model in. He'd shuffle to the door of the Walnut Street Blues Bar, prop it open with his cane, lean in, and holler "It's Jack Daniel time!" His pronouncement had a cadence all its own, distant relative to the call of a carnival barker. Full of wonder and excitement, his call to action was two parts Christmas morning, one part Mick Jagger swaggering through "Tumbling Dice", and one part sneaking away at church camp to get better acquainted, sweet thang. The mischief in his eyes in those moments fit him.
He'd saunter in, pull up a stool, and have a drink or two. We'd chat about life. I'd tell him what music I was listening to, and he'd tell me about their influences. I would quiz him on life on the road, and he'd ask me about what it felt like to try a case. Some nights, he'd pull his guitar off the wall of the Blues Bar and I'd sing "Mojo Workin'" as he played. We were friends.
T-Model died today, and I am sad. We all knew it was coming, and there certainly is no injustice in being 93 years old when you leave the building. Still, I don't like it.
At Plunderbund of Ohio, Joseph writes Mike Dewine promises to “lead the fight” against dying man’s last wish:Well, yesterday, it seems that Rep. Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) announced a campaign for Governor.
So, who is this guy? He's a father of nine, a veteran, and a small-town lawyer—all facets of his life he'll surely rely on for his image. But mostly, he's a "Get off my lawn!" right-wing crank—and one that has no respect for the public.
For starters, he's the Spam King of Oregon—having violated the privacy of tens of thousands of Oregonians by insisting that state agencies turn over emails for clients and constituents who have received public services. As if getting a hunting license or being a health care worker means you should get spammed by a politician.
Spamming the world is OK, but don't you dare invite children to come to the capitol to lobby for school funding. That's on par with totali[t]arian dictatorship, he says.
At Blue Oklahoma, DocHoc writes Newspaper Dismisses Lucas Controversy:[Attorney General Mike] DeWine has never been shy about using his office to push his socially conservative agenda.
Since taking office as AG he’s joined multiple lawsuits aimed at making contraception more difficult for Ohio’s women to obtain. And a full 25% of his official Attorney General biography is spent discussing, with pride, the many years he spent fighting against women’s reproductive rights while in the Senate.
It appears DeWine is prepared to take on LGBT rights with the same vigor.
A Federal Judge recently ruled that Ohio could not discriminate against a same sex couple who had been married in Maryland. John Arthur, who is dying of ALS, simply wanted the name of his partner of 20 years to be included on his death certificate.
Mike DeWine vowed to “lead the fight” against the decision.
The editorial response by The Oklahoman to the recent U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas controversy makes a point or two, but those points have absolutely nothing to do with the Congressman's blatant hypocrisy and lack of compassion for the hungry.At Nevada Progressive, atdnext writes Not Just Who, But Why:
In fact, the editorial is disingenuous, twisting the basic argument against Lucas' behavior into a GOP trope about Democrats with "no credibility."
This month, Lucas, R-Cheyenne, voted in favor of a farm bill that broke a decades-old precedent because it lacked aid to the poor in the form of food stamps, now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) benefits. Yet the bill contained the type of subsidies that the Lucas family farm business has enjoyed for nearly two decades.
Although Senator Reid mentioned last week's filibuster breakthrough, he also acknowledged the record low approval of Congress. And he pointed out why Congress is now so unpopular. When so much time is wasted on abortion bans, health care deform, austerity fetishes, and ideological insani-TEA, this is what follows.
However, there's far more in Senator Reid's interview. [...]
Right now, most Americans are looking for solutions. They're looking for job creation. And they're looking for a better future for our next generation. What is Congress doing to further this? Can Congress accomplish anything when all the G-O-TEA wants is more obstruction?
There's a reason why Congress is so unpopular now. And there's a reason why Hillary Clinton is doing well in the (extremely) early 2016 polls. Senator Reid clearly notices these. Are Republican Congresscritters?