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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 Blue Virginia, lowkell writes Bob McDonnell Rated One of Worst, Most Corrupt Governors in America:
Let's just say, having our governor named one of the most corrupt in America is not an "honor" your state wants to have. It's also, I'd point out, not something we ever had to worry about when Governors Warner and Kaine were in office. Oh, for those days again...

Anyway, here are the gory details on the corruption rankings by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

*The governors were rated on the following criteria: corruption, transparency (or lack thereof), partisan politics, pressuring public officials, cronyism, self enrichment, scandal, and mismanagement.

*McDonnell made the worst-of-the-worst "Ringmasters" list - along with luminaries such as wildly unethical Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia, village idiot Rick Perry of Texas, Koch brothers' favorite Scott Walker of Wisconsin, slimeball Rick Scott of Florida, and the lunatic Paul LePage of Maine.

*McDonnell achieved his fine ranking due to: "(1) investigations into whether he improperly accepted gifts in exchange for official action; (2) using his position to enrich himself and his family members; (3) awarding state money to a professional sports team after receiving gifts and campaign contributions; (4) failing to report his wife's paid position as a consultant on his statement of economic interests; and (5) signing a controversial voter ID bill."

At Green Mountain Daily of Vermont, BP writes Make Hay: Summer campaigning, and some are not:

Second quarter FEC campaign finance filings are available, and VTbuzz’s Nancy Remsen and Vermont Press Bureau’s Hirschfield sifted through the reports so you won’t have to, unless you want to. There aren’t any surprises reported, and the summary is almost completely predictable. Senators Leahy and Sanders have plenty of money on hand. Governor Shumlin is also doing very well for campaign cash. While the Freep highlights the $101,000 Rep. Welch pulled in this quarter from 67 PACs, a spokesman for the congressman counters that 68 percent of the new contributors were individuals. Well, that's some good summer reading just before a nap.

With an eye on fall fundraising and next year's campaign season, Hirschfield at Vermont Press Bureau (available free here) reports that a potential rematch between Vermont’s Attorney General Bill Sorrell and Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan has “generated the most early interest.” No hint on who, what, or where  this early interest generation happens to be sourced.  

Green Mountain Daily of Vermont
More links and excerpts for progressive state blogs can be found below the fold.

At Calitics, Gary Cohn writes For California's Charter Schools, Co-Location Is Everything:

Calitics logo
For more than 30 years each, Cheryl Smith-Vincent and Cheryl Ortega have shared a passion for teaching public school in Southern California. Smith-Vincent teaches third grade at Miles Avenue Elementary School in Huntington Park; before retiring, Ortega taught kindergarten at Logan Street Elementary School in Echo Park. Both women have been jolted by experiences with a little-known statewide policy that requires traditional public schools to share their facilities with charter schools. Ortega says she has seen charter-school children warned against greeting non-charter students who attend the same campus. Smith-Vincent reports that she and her students were pushed out of their classroom prior to a round of important student tests - just to accommodate a charter school that needed the space.

"It was extremely disruptive," Smith-Vincent says of the incident.

The practice of housing a traditional public school and a charter school on the same campus is known as "co-location." Charters are publicly funded yet independently operated, and are intended to encourage innovation and improve student performance. Under Proposition 39, a school-funding ballot initiative adopted by California voters in 2000, charter schools were given the right to use empty classrooms and share in underutilized public school facilities.

At Blue Cheddar of Wisconsin, bluecheddar writes Rotunda Announcement: “Any participants or spectators are subject to arrest”:
Multiple reports are coming through facebook that today the Capitol Police announced that the people singing in the rotunda from noon to 1 P.M. were “Unlawfully Assembled” and “any participants or spectators are subject to arrest”.

But then they didn’t arrest anybody.

A federal judge recently issued a preliminary injunction that ordered Scott Walker’s administration to stop “(1) distinguishing based on the content of the speech between “rallies” and other events for permitting purposes inside the Capitol”
and to stop “(2) enforcing the permit requirement for gatherings expected to draw 20 or fewer persons inside the Capitol rotunda itself.”[...]

So what next? Mass arrests daily? Or only on Mondays as is the practice with North Carolina’s “Moral Mondays”?

At Delaware Liberal, Tom Tornoe writes Gambling on Delaware’s casinos:
Delaware Liberal
A number of years ago, I drew a cartoon that really angered the folks over at Dover Downs. It featured a suit with a bag of money as a head, pushing a shopping cart filled with Delaware politicians. My contention was the casinos were using their influence to get their way in Dover, and despite their rebuke, I don’t think I was wrong at the time.

Fast-forward to today. Delaware taxpayers are officially bailing out our three casinos to the tune of $8 million due to increased competition from new casinos in Maryland and Pennsylvania. A case of the casinos buying influence again, right? No so fast...

Markell is in a tough spot when it comes to the casinos. As of last year, gaming revenue accounted for more than 7 percent of Delaware's general fund budget, making it the state's fourth largest revenue stream (ahead of the corporate income tax and gross receipts tax). The casinos really wanted the taxes they pay on slot machines reduced down to 37 percent (from 43.5 percent) but Markell wasn't willing to budge on that, so it's "too big to fail time" for Delaware's three gambling halls.

At Burnt Orange Report, Chaille Jolink writes Governor Perry Signs HB2 Into Law Today, What's Next:
Burnt Orange Report
In a closed ceremony today in the auditorium at the capitol, Governor Perry signed into law one of the most restrictive and controversial abortion bills in the nation. The ceremony was about twenty minutes long, and was live-streamed on the Texas Tribune website.  

A group of around 40 to 50 protestors gathered outside the auditorium holding signs and dressed in black chanting, "shame" loudly once the bill signing was underway. The protestors could be heard clearly on the live-feed from the Tribune.

So now that Governor Good Hair Slick Rick Lame Duck Perry signed the omnibus House Bill 2 into law, what's next? [...]

At Blog for Democracy in Georgia, BatGurl writes Names that Matter:
All of these districts are trending blue.  A candidate willing to run hard in 2014 but also understanding they may have to let a Republican newbie hold the seat for 2 years while continuing to campaign for an eventual win in 2016 would be the ultimate find.  (Freshmen Congressmen are the easiest to beat for various reasons.)

Who’s running for Governor?  Who’s running for Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Agriculture, so on, etc, etc, etc.  We have a crap ton of state-wide offices and unless y’all want some crazies on the ballot, somebody has to step up somewhere.

So while everyone down below is arguing over who’s going to attempt to raise the Titanic from the bottom of the sea, what names do we have in the elections that actually count?

At HorsesAss in Seattle, Carl writes Peaceful:
horsesAss blog, state blogs
I don’t own a TV box, and although I could find it, I rarely watch breaking news on television. But judging from my twitter feed, the coverage of the reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict was infused with the assumption that riots would happen, and surprised that they didn’t.

Obviously, first and foremost the problem with this is the dehumanizing nature of it. It treats the black (and other, to the extent they’re acknowledged) folks who would protest this verdict as simply violence just waiting to happen. It certainly doesn’t give voice to the actual reason people were out to describe the level of violence.

Now sure, it’s more complex than just that. This has something to do with media sensationalism in general. Here on May Day even before some smashed windows, the story of some anarchists overshadowed much larger peaceful protests for immigration reform.

And it all adds up to a disincentive to participate. Don’t go to that march, it might be violent.

At Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota, Is Mr. Burns in charge in Pierre?:
You may remember Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. He is the old curmudgeon that runs the nuclear power plant in town. He has massive amounts of money and enjoys lording it over the little people in the town and that work for him. Despite all the money he continues to make, he ignores that basics of keeping the plant functioning safely.

This morning I read an article that pointed out that South Dakota has developed a record level "rainy-day" fund of $159 million [...] thanks to adding another $24.2 million at the end of June 2013. It may seem wonderful to have all this coin sitting in the bank, but isn't the government supposed to use that money to provide for the tax payers who gave it in the first place? Aren't there services in South Dakota that have been gutted because, according to Daugaard, apocalypse was going to happen. Why can't they get things figured out? Is it because [Gov. Dennis] Daugaard enjoys sitting in his office swimming in the extra millions he keeps lying around?

At Raging Chicken Press of Pennsylvania, Sean Kitchen writes Marcellus Shale Advocacy Group Receives $150,000 for ‘Independent Study’, While $3 Million Natural Gas Health Impact Study Rots in Committee:
Raging Chicken Press
Pennsylvania Republicans are once again playing politics, pitting the welfare of Commonwealth residents against the natural gas industry. Here’s a  hint: it’s buried deep inside the 2013-2014 fiscal code (SB 591) – Page 35 lines 20 to 22, to be exact. Those lines provide a $150,000 appropriation for “independent research regarding natural gas drilling,” and some argue that this is just another handout to the natural gas industry.

At the same time PA Republicans are handing out $150,000 for “independent research,” bi-partisan legislation that establishes a [$3 million] health impact study is rotting in Gene Yaw’s Environmental Resources & Energy committee.  Sources in Harrisburg close to the budget process confirmed that the appropriated money is going to Safer PA, a non-profit organization controlled by the gas industry lobbyists and corporations. The appropriation did not appear in the Senate’s original version, which means that it was slipped in by a member on the House Appropriations Committee.

At Scrutiny Hooligans of North Carolina, Tom Sullivan writes An America in Retreat?:
Scrutiny Hooligans
Has America—and the American Dream itself—gone into retreat? Once the largest, most prosperous in the world, the American middle class is faltering, crumbling like our nation’s schools and bridges.

Flag-pin-wearing, American exceptionalists tell crowds this is the greatest nation on Earth, and then repeat “we’re broke.” They hope to dismantle safety net programs, telling Americans working harder than ever—at jobs and looking for jobs—that they don’t have enough “skin in the game.” Wake up and smell the austerity. America can no longer afford Americans. Some of us remember a time when America’s dreams were boundless. [...]

Meanwhile, tax cuts starve cities and states of revenue until grasping investors – foreign and domestic – can gobble up public infrastructure built with your sweat equity. The privateers hope to extract the last drop of value out of what we, our parents, and our grandparents built to benefit all Americans. These patriots will hide their gains offshore and whine about tax rates they don’t pay while pocketing billions in public subsidies.

Tom Sawyer conned friends into paying him for the privilege of painting his aunt’s fence. Tom Sawyer, Inc. is not far behind. These guys won’t be satisfied until we are paying them to work for them.

At Blue Oklahoma, DocHoc writes Google Inhofe:
If you want a quick glimpse into why our political system is broken in this country, just consider Google's recent decision to host a campaign fundraiser for the infamous climate-change denier U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe.

On Thursday, Google Washington hosted a $250 to $2,500 luncheon for the ultra-conservative Republican who believes global warming is a liberal hoax. Google, one of the main cutting edge technology companies of its era, is known as a company that supports environmental issues and renewable energy sources. [...]

So what gives? [...]

Meanwhile, on the same day Google feted the world's most well-known global warming denier, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a report warning of continued disruption of energy supplies because of climate change. The report, titled "U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather," shows how rising temperatures and sea levels, along with an increase in severe weather events, will affect our access to energy and water supplies in the future.

Will Inhofe dismiss the report as just part of the huge "hoax" of climate change? Probably. Is this really someone Google wants to help reelect?

Blue Oklahoma, state blogs

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Virginia Kos.

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