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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, inside information and often an edgy voice that we just don't get from the traditional media. This week in progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite state- or city-based blog you think I should be watching. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At The Mudflats of Alaska, Jeanne Devon writes—Judge Confirms Lt. Gov’s Incompetence:

Mudflats blog
The job of Alaska’s Lieutenant Governor really has only two duties to speak of.
1) Care and maintenance of the state seal. Not the animal – that would be hard, and require lots of work.

I’m talking about the little round metal disc that turns stuff official. I don’t really know what care and maintenance that seal requires, but I’m guessing there might be buffing involved, or maybe some kind of chemical paste and a soft lint-free cloth. Perhaps it’s nestled in a velvet-lined wooden box, and needs to be checked on from time to time, to make sure nobody’s run off with it.

2) Overseeing the Division of Elections.

In addition to polishing duties, there’s also the not-so-small matter of supervising and preserving the hallmark of our democracy and the principles on which it was founded – the right without which all the other ones cannot stand. Democracy with a capital D.
Spit-shining, and preserving Democracy. Those are the two responsibilities.
Okay, wait. Three.

3) Take over the governorship if the current governor up and quits to go on a book-slash-Freedom tour all across this great nation there also too in a big bus, don’tcha know.

So, how has he handled these three duties?

Credit where credit is due. Under the watchful eye of Lt. Gov. Treadwell the state seal seems to be doing quite well. It’s all shiny, and it hasn’t gotten lost.

At Raging Chicken Press of Pennsylvania, Sean Kitchen writes—#ByeByeTom: Corbett’s Fiscal Arsonry Threatens State Parks and Forests for Little Return:
Raging Chicken Press
Over the past few years, Governor Tom Corbett has handed out 1.2 billion in tax cuts to his wealthy, corporate donors, while not raising any taxes.  To plug those holes, the governor has had to cut back programs, education and higher education.  Now, the chicken is coming home to roost. The state is facing a $1.4 billion and there hasn’t been any real solutions to plug the deficit gaps. One solution that Governor Corbett proposed in his fourth budget address was to lift the fracking moratorium in state parks and forests.  This would raise roughly $75 million and the governor acted on his promises by unilaterally lifting the moratorium on the beginning of the Memorial Day holiday.

This is probably one of the greatest examples of Governor Corbett’s fiscal arsonry to date.  The state is facing a $1.4 billion, some say $1.7 billion, budget deficit. Math may be a bitch for some to comprehend, but the governor’s proposal of lifting the drilling moratorium in parks and forests will potentially plug 4.7 percent to 5.3 percent of the $1.4 to $1.7 billion deficit. Let me say that again…it will only account for 4.7 to 5.3 percent of the deficit.

More excerpts from progressive state blogs can be found below the orange gerrymander.

At Progress Illinois, Ellyn Fortino writes—Manufacturing, Green Infrastructure Co-Ops Offer Job Opportunities For Chicago Youth:

state blogs, Progress Illinois
Several Chicago youths are taking part in efforts to increase democracy in the workplace while tackling economic and environmental issues in their neighborhoods through the use of innovative business cooperatives owned and controlled by workers.

Young people from the city's Austin and Rogers Park communities discussed their involvement with cooperative businesses, which are entities owned and managed collectively by workers, at a 2014 Worker Cooperative National Conference held over the weekend at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In the West Side neighborhood of Austin, an impoverished community struggling with high rates of unemployment and crime, students at the manufacturing-focused Austin Polytechnical Academy launched a business cooperative at their school last year called Mech Creations, which makes trumpet mouthpieces. And on the city's far North Side in Rogers Park, which also faces issues of unemployment and crime, young people are participating in a worker cooperative focused on green infrastructure called Grassroots Ecology. The North Side youth-focused cooperative started building green infrastructure, including rain gardens and barrels to mitigate flooding, in 2012 and plans to incorporate as a limited liability company with cooperative by-laws this fall.

At Burnt Orange Report, Joe Deshotel writes—Open Carry Texas Plans Demonstration at GOP Convention, Shoots Back At NRA Over Criticism:
 
Burnt Orange Report
It was bound to happen, but the the GOP's provocative rhetoric on guns has finally backfired. Even the NRA has said the Open Carry Texas tactics are "downright scary," "downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself."

The TABC informed the GOP that over enthusiastic gun toters will not be allowed in the convention hall due to alcohol permits.

The open carrying of a long gun such as a rifle or shotgun is legal in Texas, but recently Moms Demand Action on Gun Sense has won several high profile battles against members of Open Carry Texas who demonstrated at popular chain restaurants, resulting in corporate bans on such displays.

Even after New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg pledged $50 million to help push back against the NRA, the carry-at-all-cost movement has proven to be its own biggest threat. And now it has even sparked a civil war of sorts between Open Carry Texas and the NRA over style and substance.

At The Left Hook of California, The Left Hook writes—SJ Voters Choose Change:
In  a decisive call for a change in [San Jose] City leadership, 33% of voters cast their ballots for County Supervisor Dave Cortese in a crowded field of candidates to take over as Mayor of the 10th largest city in America. Council member Sam Liccardo will challenge Cortese in a November runoff, [having come] in 9 points behind Cortese with 25% of the extremely low turnout vote.

“Eight long years of failed leadership is finally coming to an end,” Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay Labor Council, told a crowd of labor-backed candidates and volunteers. “Dave Cortese is going to take San Jose from austerity to recovery, from attacks on city workers to restoration of city services, from rising crime to improved public safety.”

Labor Council volunteers spent thousands of hours phoning voters and knocking on doors to deliver information about Cortese’s campaign for Mayor. Emilie Gatfield says she dedicated her time working phone banks because Dave Cortese is in a league of his own among candidates who were “anti-worker.”

“The City of San Jose has public safety problems because it has employee morale problems” said Gatfield, “and Cortese has shown (as a county supervisor) that he will be able to address those problems far better than any of the other candidates who caused them in the first place.”

At Rural and Progressive of Georgia, Katherine Helms Cummings writes—Didn’t you get that dress in 2008?:
Rural and Progressive of Georgia
Monday was a “Monday” in every sense of the word for Plant Washington and its developer, Power4Georgians. Before the EPA could announce a long-awaited carbon pollution rule, the Georgia State Supreme Court ruled that the 30+ indictments against former Cobb EMC CEO Dwight Brown will not be dismissed. That clears the way for Brown to have to defend himself against numerous charges of racketeering, theft, and making false statements (layman’s term is lying).

Who knows what type of complicated web might be unraveled in a trial involving federal racketeering and such? Plant Washington’s developer, Dean Alford, worked as Brown’s Vice-President at Cobb EMC when he secured the no-bid contract for Power4Georgians’ coal plant. Could he and many others be called to testify in Brown’s trial? Will co-op members across the state who found themselves obligated to a multi-billion dollar, back room deal coal plant camp outside the courthouse in order to secure a seat during the trial?

The court ruling came out hours before EPA Director Gina McCarthy could announce, and then sign, proposed carbon pollution rules for existing power plants. [...]

Plant Washington isn’t the “It Girl” any more. It’s dress is out of style, the hem has been stepped on, and the corsage is wilted. Now everyone wants to dance with Renewable Wind and Free Sunshine. Fortunately they never seem to run out of energy.

At Louisiana Voice, Tomaswell writes—Alvarez & Marsal’s $5 million eyewash is released by Jindal administration only minutes before legislative adjournment:
Louisiana Voices state blog
The $500 million savings report by Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) was finally released on Monday only minutes before adjournment of the 2014 legislative session—and, conveniently for the administration, too late for critical feedback from lawmakers. [...]

Of course the report was cranked out by “experts,” and as an old friend so accurately reminded us, an expert is someone with a briefcase from out of town.

The 425-page report, produced under a $5 million contract, while projecting a savings of $2.7 billion over five years (an average of $540 million a year), the substance of the report was sufficiently ambiguous to render the document as just so much:

(a) Useless trendy jargon and snappy catch phrases like synergy, stakeholders, and core analytics to give the report the appearance of a pseudo-academic tome; (b) Eyewash; (c) Window dressing; (d) Regurgitation of previous studies by previous administrations that are now gathering dust on a shelf somewhere; (e) All of the above.

At Blue Virginia, lowkell writes—Governor McAuliffe Signs Executive Order to Establish the Virginia Energy Council:
Blue Virginia
Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Order #16 today, which establishes the Virginia Energy Council. The Virginia Energy Council will assist in the development and implementation of a cohesive, comprehensive, and aggressive energy strategy for Virginia and deliver recommendations for the Virginia Energy Plan, which will be submitted to the General Assembly on October 1, 2014.  Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones will chair the Council. [...]

This looks good to me overall, at least on the surface (e.g, "Accelerating the development and use of renewable energy sources;" "Virginia can become a national leader in energy efficiency practices"; nothing about offshore oil drilling, thank goodness). Of course, how this all works out in the end will depend to a significant degree on who's appointed to the Council, and also how hard Gov. McAuliffe pushes to focus the group's efforts on a rapid transition towards clean energy.

P.S. Obviously, I'd ditch the part about expanding Virgniia coal exports. That's the exact opposite of what climate scientists tell us we need to be doing right now.  And yes, I'll go with the scientists any day over the politicians and fossil fuel corporations. Go figure. ;)

At Intelligent Discontent of Montana, Don Pogreba writes—12 Reasons Montanans Can’t–and Won’t–Elect Ryan Zinke to Congress:
Intelligent Discontent, state blogs
Well, as I suspected, Ryan Zinke will be the Republican nominee for the U.S. House race, in a scenario that’s about as good as it can get for John Lewis and Montana Democrats. Despite the advantage of a private Super PAC and its fundraising capacity, Zinke managed only to not lose the Republican primary, but leaves it a weakened candidate in a party split down the middle and deeply suspicious about his values and motives.

My guess is that Zinke will take about one week before trying to pivot back to being the moderate he described himself as until early 2014. Here’s hoping the Montana political media exposes this effort.

He can’t be trusted.

In the course of the Republican primary, the formerly pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-marijuana legalization, pro-union, pro-environment Zinke transformed into the snarling id of TEA Party Republicanism, calling for the impeachment of President Obama, identifying former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “the anti-Christ,” and embracing a reactionary set of policies he’d been critical of just months before. He’s the worst type of political opportunist, and the media owes it to the Montana electorate to expose his tendency to shift his political positions more often than he mentions he was a Navy SEAL.

That’s the primary reason Montana voters should reject Zinke, but the candidate has given a wealth of reasons why voters, Republican, Democrat, and Independent, will look elsewhere to cast their ballot in November.

At My Left Nutmeg of Connecticut, ctblogger writes—Supporters of Corporate Education Reform now targeting higher education:
While it is obvious that the widespread access to higher educational opportunities is more important than ever, elected officials have been consistently reducing support for our public colleges and universities.

The shocking and disturbing trend has been especially visible here in Connecticut where Governor Dannel "Dan" Malloy has pushed through the deepest cuts in Connecticut history for our public institutions of higher education.  Students and their families are forced to pay more and get less as the state pulls the rug out from under this vital service.

But Malloy is not alone.

On behalf of the corporate education reform industry, President Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is embarking on an expensive, misleading and completely unnecessary rating system that will cost colleges and taxpayers tens of millions of dollars while providing no benefit whatsoever.

On the other hand, the proposal will mean a whole lot of education reform consultants will continue to feed at the public trough.

This past weekend, fellow education advocate Wendy Lecker wrote about this proposal in her Stamford Advocate column entitled, "The consequences of silence."

At Bleeding Heartland of Iowa, desmoinesdem writes—Three ways the EPA carbon emissions plan will benefit Iowa, plus Iowa political reaction:
Bleeding Heartland
Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rolled out a proposed rule to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. The full text of the rule and several short fact sheets are available on the EPA's website. Click here to read EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's speech about the new policy. This fact sheet makes the short and sweet case for targeting power plants, "the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S." The new policy goal is to "cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels" by the year 2030. Other associated benefits: cutting levels of soot and smog in the air by over 25 percent in 2030, and saving money and lives through reducing air pollution. In fact, the EPA estimates $7 in health benefits for every dollar spent to implement the new policy.

While some in the environmental community were hoping for more aggressive carbon reduction targets, the new rule would be a big step in the right direction. For too long, elected officials in Iowa and nationally have ignored evidence that we need to address climate change. Furthermore, coal's "assault on human health" is immense and under-appreciated.

Iowa political reaction to yesterday's news was mostly disappointing but not surprising. [...] But first, let's examine three reasons Iowans should embrace the EPA's new rule.

1. Iowa can't afford to do nothing about climate change, and power plants are the country's largest source of greenhouse gas pollution.[...]

2. The rule will help Iowans stay healthy and reduce premature deaths.[...]

3. The rule will benefit Iowa's economy. [...]

At Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota, M Larson writes—Primary Post Mortem:
state blog Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota
Mike Rounds won and fairly big. This is the headline that the Mike Rounds will publicly display. "Look, the vast majority of Republicans love me," he will say. However, he needs to remember that he only received 55% of the 31.9% of the Republicans that cared to show up. The means he really can only claim that about 17% of the Republicans vocally support him despite spending over 2 million on this race and has been in the running since November of 2013.

Mike Rounds was running against a hyper-polarizing candidate in Stace Nelson, a guy that people could only remember and knew for his bull commercial in Larry Rhoden, a doctor that stopped practicing medicine and has now been arrested on multiple counts of fraud and perjury, and some guy from Yankton that may or may not be part of a grand conspiracy.  Taking into account all of this, Mike Round still only received 17.5% of the registered Republican votes.  

This should give the Rick Weiland campaign some hope. Rick will not be able to outspend his opponent, but there are 13,000 people that bothered to vote for Stace Nelson, that will probably stay home or vote for Howie.  

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