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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 know about. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At Appalachian Voices of West Virginia, Matt writes—Who Owns West Virginia’s Water? A Cautionary Tale:

Appalachian Voice state blog
It took a few days after a state of emergency was declared across nine West Virginia counties and one-sixth of the state’s population was told not to drink or bathe using their tap water for the national news media to discover a story of national importance occurring in the political backwaters of Appalachia.

But most haven’t yet picked up on what may be the most interesting and important detail: why so many people in this water-rich state depend on a single, privately-owned treatment system and distribution network that sprawls across nine counties for their supply of drinking water.

In many communities, the tale of coal industry activities polluting people’s drinking water supply is anything but new. Places like Prenter in Boone County have seen a lot worse.

The topic of waste from coal preparation plants polluting well water in Prenter was the centerpiece of a blockbuster piece published by The New York Times in 2009 that described the systemic failures of states like West Virginia to enforce the federal Clean Water Act. [...]

At Blue Virginia, Jeff Barnett writes—"Booze and food industries' weapon of mass destruction" Attacks Minimum Wage Increase:
In Tuesday night's State of the Union Address, President Obama called to raise the minimum wage. Less than 10 hours after the President's speech, a full page attack ad attack in The Wall Street Journal (page A14) appeared on the Nation's doorsteps and desks.

"In his State of the Union address President Obama endorsed a nearly 40 percent increase in the minimum wage."
The ad was paid for by The Employment Policies Institute ("one of several front groups created by Berman & Co., a Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by Rick Berman, who lobbies for the restaurant, hotel, alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries").  According to Wikipedia, EPI is led by Richard Berman, who was described by 60 Minutes as "the booze and food industries' weapon of mass destruction." Reportedly, Berman previously fronted for the tobacco and booze industries. His past targets include PETA and MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). He has also "run numerous media campaigns on the issues of obesity, soda tax, smoking, cruelty to animals, mad cow disease, taxes, the national debt, drinking and driving, as well as the minimum wage."

The Journal charges somewhere between $150,000 and $250,000 for a black/white full-page ad. To build and contract the ad in a tight time line adds more costs.

This expensive overnight ad highlights the massive power of right-wing money in today's politics. EPI's real message goes far beyond the minimum wage. [...]

Please read below the gerrymandered orange squiggle for a bunch more excerpts from progressive state blogs.

At Uppity Wisconsin, MKE writes—Glenn Grothman's 19th Century-style anti-labor bill is sure to make Wisconsin an even bigger laughing stock under GOP rule:

Uppity Wisconsin state blog
Oh, the shame. The humiliation. Is this the way to attract the young creative class, draw investment dollars, and build a reputation as a good place to live and work? Don't think so. We're speaking of State Sen. Glenn Grothman's push to take Wisconsin backwards via a bill that would restore the seven day workweek in Wisconsin. No pesky labor unions with all their mewling about employee rights, decent working conditions and a day of rest need get involved. The Retro-publicans are in charge here, now.

How do we know the bill, which is moving quickly through the GOP-dominated legislature, is giving Wisconsin yet another black eye in the national arena of common sense and positive values? That this is just the sort of thing turning us from a thoughtful, progressive state into a regressive, foolish, anti-worker, long-hot-summer backwater of yokelism? Just read this new Associated Press headline on a wire story that's sure to go viral:
Wis. Senate panel sets hearing on 7-day work week

At Burnt Orange Report of Texas, Omar Araiza writes—National Council of La Raza Kicks Off $5M Hispanic Voter Register Drive With Eyes On 2014 Elections:
Burnt Orange Report
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation's largest Hispanic group, is working with Mi Familia Vota to kick off a huge $5 million dollar voter register drive with a grand goal of registering a quarter of a million new Hispanic voters by the midterm elections.

A larger and stronger Latino voting block could become a nightmare for Republicans opposed to immigration reform. Democrats, who have been pushing for reform since early last year, could potentially reap virtually all the benefits of these new voters and push ahead of Republicans in November.

"The Republicans have a great deal to gain in terms of brand improvement and in terms of essentially demobilizing virulent opposition built around the supposition that they are the impediment to immigration reform," said David Segura, co-founder of the polling firm Latino Decisions. [...]

At the Mississippi Economic Policy Center blog , Jessica Shappley writes—Scorecard: Financial Security in Mississippi:
Mississippi Economic Policy Center
Today, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) released its 2014 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, which comprehensively examines the ability of residents to achieve financial security in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and, for the first time, policies designed to help them get there. The 2014 Scorecard evidences a serious problem for households today—while some progress has been made to ensure financial security, a growing number (43.5 percent) of American families are “liquid asset poor,” meaning they lack the means to meet their expenses for three months should a job loss or other emergency leave them without their primary source of income. In Mississippi, 61.9 percent of residents live in liquid asset poverty. [...]
At The Mudflats of Alaska, Jeanne Devon writes—Shell Suspends Arctic Drilling, Begich Responds:
This morning Shell announced that it will not drill offshore in the Alaskan Arctic this year. The announcement comes after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal agency in charge of issuing permits for offshore drilling in the U.S. intentionally downplayed the risks and impacts associated with drilling in the remote and vulnerable Chukchi Sea ecosystem off the northern coast of Alaska. The court ruled that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) failed to conduct adequate impact assessments before issuing permission to drill. According to the findings of the court, the BOEM “based its decision on inadequate information about the amount of oil to be produced pursuant to the lease sale 193.” [...]

U.S. Senator Mark Begich released a statement following the announcement.

“It is simply unacceptable that judicial overreach is getting in the way of letting Alaskans develop our own natural resources. Development in the Arctic has already been subjected to unprecedented safety standards—far more than domestic production anywhere else. I’ve worked for years to get all the federal agencies working together to permit Arctic projects, now we need to tackle the all too common legal stonewalling by outside groups. That’s why I am re-introducing my legislation to ensure there is a judicial endgame for Arctic developers when they have invested billions of dollars in developing our resources.

“I’ll be talking with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today and expect her agency to move quickly to address the court’s questions and concerns and do everything possible to get this process back on track. Alaskans know that energy development brings not only our energy security but also our financial security, and no one knows about safe, responsible development like Alaskans do.”

state blogs: the mudflats
At Left in Alabama, countrycat writes—State Democratic Party Diversity Amendment Round II On Saturday:
Left in Alabama logo
An amendment to insert Democratic National Committee language on diversity into the state Party’s bylaws has been submitted. Proponents of the amendment say it will ensure the Alabama Democratic Party joins the national party and welcomes all Alabamians into its tent.

SDEC member and sponsor of the amendment, Amy Shadoin of Madison County said, “The Alabama Democratic Party’s State Executive Committee is underrepresenting several groups including Hispanic, Native American, Asian, Youth, and other minority communities.  It is time for the Alabama Democratic Party to mirror the national party’s stance regarding inclusivity and to give these diverse demographic groups in Alabama a voice in our state Party.

Advocates for the amendment have started an online petition with several hundred signatures to voice their support of an expanded definition of diversity and to call for the state party to allow debate and a vote. [...]

At California Progress Report, Gary Cohn & Bill Raden write—Pension Cutters Bet Against Prosperity:
Last week’s announcements about 2013 earnings by California’s largest public pension funds suggest the agencies may be making significant progress in shaking off the lingering after-effects of the 2008 stock market crash.
state blogs. California Progress Report
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) said it rode a 25 percent run-up in stock prices to post a 16.2 percent gain for its 2013 portfolio — its best showing in a decade. For its part, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) reported an impressive 19.1 percent return on its 2013 investments, led by a 28 percent return on its stock holdings.

The announcements undoubtedly came as welcome news to the roughly 1.6 million California government workers and 860,000 public school teachers represented by the systems. Ever since the 2008 global financial meltdown, their pensions have been in the crosshairs of fiscal conservatives and anti-public pension activists who wish to see the employees’ traditional defined benefits plans replaced by 401(k)-type packages.

However, the reports couldn’t come at a worse time for San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and his politically conservative backers, whose statewide retirement-cutting ballot initiative now finds itself undermined by prosperity. Its political momentum had already shown signs of faltering last November, when Reed was forced to tone down some of the measure’s harshest and more constitutionally radical language.

At The Seminole Democrat of Florida, Independent Thinker writes—Issues to Waste Your Vote for Rick Scott On:
The Seminole Democrat state blog
My list of reasons to dis-elect Rick Scott hasn’t grown much in the last week, mostly because he’s been lying low and saying as little as he can, which under the circumstances is probably the smartest thing Rick Scott can do if he wants to be re-elected. His approval rating seems to go up mostly when he does nothing at all. At least I can say SemDem’s post on Monday upped the number on my list to 158, which means I have two more to go before I officially revise it again. Might be a nice way to celebrate Groundhog Day.

Scratch that: A couple of hours after I first made this post, I checked the archive at Rick Scott Sucks, and dug out two more good ones. So it's now at 160, and newer ones start at 146. Have a look.

In the meantime, I want to discuss something about reasons that some people out there may vote for Rick Scott, in spite of his monstrous performance so far—and why they’d be wasting their time doing it.

If you have friends planning to vote for Rick Scott, there are two partisan issues that are likely to be at the center of their motivation: Same-sex marriage and abortion. The irony is that Rick Scott has 1) done little or nothing on either issue, and 2) really can’t do anything about either one, anyway.

At Blog for Democracy of Georgia, Juliana writes—Special Delivery of Eye Roll:
The Netflix movie about Mitt Romney only gets half  of an eye roll.  I watched it so you don’t have to. [...]
Blog for Democracy, Georgia
I found it interesting and if the goal was to portray him as a affable smart guy it did the trick. However why wasn’t released in some form before the 2012 Convention? Surely he could have used it.

That said, it was an odd film in the sense that it was filmed during all of the 2008 & 2012 campaigns, but it only superficially touches on the gritty reality surrounding the politics of those years.

I’m a pretty hardcore political nerd, and I gotta think thats who they expect to watch this movie a year and a half after the election. But unlike political candidate-tainment such as the two films about Pres. Obama and Game Change, “Mitt” is edited as if six years and two nasty primaries are happening at arms length. His CM is shown only once, his advisors all appear to be related to him. I didn’t think it was possible to run a Presidential campaign and apparently have no connection with staff, strategy or influential operatives.

People like me are going to notice the events and circumstances that are missing or too breezily touched on while sitting on sofas in hotel rooms with your whole family by your side. In the end it just looked like a Romney family movie. A very attractive family movie, but odd.

At The Plunderbund of Ohio, Greg writes—Kasich Insults Schools While Asking For More Snow Days (That Help Nobody):
Plunderbund blog logo
The state of Ohio has been hit hard this winter, resulting in schools having to cancel a higher-than-usual number of days of instruction.  Many districts (about a third according to the Toledo Blade) have already used up the state-allowed number of snow (or calamity) days and have reached the point where they will be required to make up those days at the end of the year.

To that end, Governor Kasich announced yesterday that he was going to instruct the General Assembly to enact a one-time exemption for this school year that would provide schools an extra four calamity days.

Big whoop. Those extra days at the end of the year are, quite frankly, irrelevant anyway.

Said Kasich in his media event, “Giving schools a few extra snow days this year will be helpful and let everyone stay focused on the top priority when weather hits: keeping kids safe.

Really, John Kasich?  He’s doing this so that schools can focus on keeping kids safe?  What the heck did he think schools were doing?  It is flat-out insulting that Kasich added this little byline to his statement and it completely reveals how his mind works and what he thinks about public education in our state. It is appalling that Kasich expressly believes that schools aren’t already focusing on the safety of students when deciding whether to close schools.

At Keystone Politics of Pennsylvania, Jon Geeting writes—#PAGov: Only 15% Think Tom Corbett Has Been Fiscally Responsible:
Keystone politics
The other awesome finding from today’s F&M poll is that only 15% of respondents say Tom Corbett has been fiscally responsible.

Fiscal austerity has been the lodestar of Republican governance the past 3 years. It’s what Corbett campaigned on, it’s what the Republicans blew all their political capital on, and they’re not even getting any credit for it.

It isn’t even that voters agree they were fiscally responsible, but are saying they didn’t like the outcomes for education or job growth. Their strong distaste for the outcomes of the Republicans’ austerity program are feeding back into their opinions on whether the Republicans have been fiscally responsible at all.

The lesson here is that nobody gets any political credit for budget cuts or deficit reduction or anything like that, and the sole aim for Democratic politicians should be economic growth. Making “hard choices” sounds like a cool and tough slogan to voters in the abstract, but nobody actually wants to make hard choices.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please see (11+ / 0-)

    this week's Saturday Morning Garden Blogging for information on how to include a candidate for a local office in our 9th Anniversary Edition fundraising opportunity.

  •  A 7-Day Work Week? (8+ / 0-)

    Might as well go for the full-monty and demand that the peons also be on-call 24-7, with no guaranteed hours or payment.

    Turning off or "losing" your smart-phone will be grounds for immediate termination..

    Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies, We were roaring drunk on petroleum -Kurt Vonnegut

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:42:17 AM PST

  •  We have to get rid of KKKasuck (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Eric Nelson, LinSea

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:56:18 AM PST

  •  I didn't read the 40% part before (4+ / 0-)

    but, OMG, if people need the 40% to be able to support themselves then what does that say about those people who are against the minimum wage?

    40% raise to become self-sufficient is truly sad - nobody should need that kind of raise to support themselves and their families.

    Yay for Obama for highlighting a very serious issue! Screw those who want to keep a lot of people in poverty. They should lose everything and be forced to live on minimum wage for a long time!

    I reject your reality and substitute my own - Adam Savage

    by woolibaar on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 09:13:39 AM PST

    •  I'm getting all OCD on this. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      I've been going through the history of minimum wage changes collecting datapoints on inflation-adjusted minimum wage, unemployment, and inflation.  I'm being lazily OCD, though, comparing annual numbers and using the BLS's handy inflation calculator.  That makes it a little tough for mid-year adjustments.  Fortunately, most come on Jan 1.

      None of what follows constitutes "research" in any real sense, just personal noodling as I try to wrap my head around the issue and understand it better.

      For most of the "Before Reagan" and Post WWII era, the adjusted minimum wage has been about $9.00 an hour.
      The lowest real minimum I found was $6.29 in 1989. that represented a near-continuous decline from The lowest real minimum wage in the Clinton years was $6.50, but the highest was only about $6.90.

      During the Bush administration, it dropped as low as $5.95, lower than any year since the 1940s.

      I haven't yet attached the inflation info, but you can infer when inflation was bad -- from 1968 - 1982 or so, because significant changes in the current minimum wage fail to maintain the wage level.  Without an inflation adjustment, lawmakers have had to pick a level with inflation in mind.

      That doesn't work very well, because, frankly, what Congress wants to be seen as accepting high inflation?
      And inflation adjusted minimum wage seems to prevent two big benefits:

      1.  It doesn't leave minimum wage workers forgotten for long periods of time while their wages are eaten away.
      2.  It provides cover for Congress, which no longer needs to set a wage that anticipates inflation.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 11:18:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  isn't Kasich being spoken of re 2016? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a good Repub, talks in the right way about the blue collar worker,ok with Medicaid etc....

    sounds a bit like the compassionate conservative bull from Dubya to me.

    Is he a possible????  And a real threat?

  •  Remember "Don't Buy Grapes" bumper stickers (0+ / 0-)

    in the sixties?  Seriously, it's time for "Don't Buy Cheese" bumper stickers now!

    "One of the boss' hangers-on sometimes comes to call, at times you least expect. Tryin' to bully you, strongarm you, inspire you with fear--it has the opposite effect."--Bob Dylan, "Floater"

    by oldmaestro on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 11:09:58 AM PST

    •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

      There are a lot of good people in Wisconsin who are aghast at what's happening.

      Many of the cheesemakers are small craft operations that pay their employers fairly and treat them well.

      Boycotting Wisconsin cheese is not going to help.

      •  Your point is well taken, but (0+ / 0-)

        I'm sure there were a lot of good people in California who were aghast at what happened there as well.  And not all growers exploited their workers, either.

        The nationwide boycott of California produce helped grow the United Farm Workers Association, and helped strengthen the labor movement in general.

        "One of the boss' hangers-on sometimes comes to call, at times you least expect. Tryin' to bully you, strongarm you, inspire you with fear--it has the opposite effect."--Bob Dylan, "Floater"

        by oldmaestro on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 02:32:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks again for prowling the state blogs (4+ / 0-)

    for the news.  It's always nice to see what's going on around the country.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 12:44:10 PM PST

  •   "gerrymandered orange squiggle".. :) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, LinSea, Calamity Jean

    "In his State of the Union address President Obama endorsed a nearly 40 percent increase in the minimum wage."

    Rick Berman is a very bad actor: corporate money backed fake grass roots organizations pushing actual public hazards with a smile. trans fats; mercury poisoned seafood; typical of the GOP poison pushers; from simple food all the way to protecting  environmental poisoning industry on a global scale - with  a smile

    Reminds me of the idiot from Iowa Rep. Steve King (actually many republicans) lying with a smile

    But here Jeff Barnett@ Blue Virginia has uncovered a real mistake in the republican's attack on minimum wage workers that Dems could and should use - imo:

    When a "nearly 40% raise", which republicans are attempting to use as a scare tactic and is so transparently the boiler plate tactic of playing one low wage worker against another (and imo an indicator of further republican degeneracy)  nearly 40% trumpeted as a huge raise - is actually a raise of about ~$3.00 dollars per hour for those who have a poverty level job.

    could point out that minimum wage workers are paid so little that even if the pay raise Dems are fighting for, against republican corpo shills, was a "whopping" 100% raise, doubling every minimum wage workers pay, each worker would still be earning only ~$14.50 dollars per hour. - still poverty level for a family of 4

    That's what I would say anyway. You'd have to word it better than I did but still - the numbers are real - make that republican attack back fire big time

    Thx MB

  •  Article in Appalachian Voices - very good (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am amazed to learn that:

    Reporter Charles Duhigg goes on to say that residents and scientists believe the pollution got into their water from injections of coal slurry — the waste byproduct of washing coal — into abandoned mine shafts, where it could flow through cracks in the earth into groundwater and, ultimately, the wells of local residents. According to the Times, coal companies had injected nearly two billion gallons of coal slurry into the ground within an eight-mile radius of Prenter between 2004 and 2009. For context, the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster spilled only one-tenth that much oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
    In addition the article explains it really well:
    In late 2009, the state gave final approval[PDF] for a public-private partnership between Boone County and West Virginia American Water Company — the utility that owns the treatment facility and water distribution network shut down since last Thursday — for a multi-million dollar project to run water lines out to Prenter and nearby communities. The project was mostly paid for by a federal Housing and Urban Development grant, with Boone County and West Virginia American Water Company making up the difference. NNot a penny was paid by the coal companies that polluted the water in the first place.
    Interesting...and it gets even better:
    The real motivation for the project is found further down in the engineering report, which details the expected economic development benefits:
       The extension Project will help satisfy mine permitting requirements for Arch Coal’s proposed Mountain Laurel mine.
    Similar evidence of how public money has been used to directly benefit the coal industry — while simultaneously expanding the customer base of a private, multinational water company — runs throughout West Virginia PSC documents.
    Mary Grant writes in Toxic Waters in West Virginia
    While the source of the spill was a storage tank owned by the uncannily named Freedom Industries, the tap water contamination would not have been anywhere near as widespread and catastrophic as it was without the consolidation of water systems that occurred through privatization.  

    We may know very little about the long-term health effects of the chemicals that contaminated the tap water, bbut one thing we do know is that water privatization has failed the people of West Virginia.

    It's really a good read for me, because I understand the circumstances better in these blog entries than from some shorter articles somewhere else.

    Consider then how much water, chemicals are injected into the shale-rock formation, as the Grace Communication Foundation writes here:

    The process blasts open fissures in underground shale-rock formations by injecting a high pressure combination of fluids, chemicals and proppants causing the fossil fuel to flow to the production well.  During the fracking process, millions of gallons of fracking fluid – a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals – are injected into the ground to break up the shale and release natural gas.  While each company’s formula is a closely guarded secret, in some cases the mix includes known carcinogens.

    Some of the fracking fluid remains underground where it could potentially contaminate groundwater in the future, but much of it is brought back to the surface as wastewater. That wastewater contains fracking chemicals as well as naturally occurring radioactive materials and metals found in the surrounding soil.  The wastewater is often pumped into holding ponds where it can leak and settle into surrounding groundwater, and impact wildlife.  The contamination of groundwater is of major concern for those who live near drilling operations and rely on drinking water wells. And the contamination of watersheds that provide drinking water for millions of people in cities hundreds of miles away from any natural gas drills poses a significant threat as well.

    Man, oh man, just imagine you were Mother Earth and would get poked with tubes and needles and been injected with poisonous "dreck"! That's torture much worse than anything else. That's like force-feeding in Guantanamo Bay, just on steroids. People have lost their minds not recognizing what it will do to all of us. Water is the alpha and omega of life.

    Here some proverbs about water and they are all GOOD.:

    Water is the driver of Nature.
    - Leonardo da Vinci

    We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.
    - Jacques Cousteau

    When the well's dry, we know the worth of water.
    - Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Poor Richard's Almanac, 1746

    Filthy water cannot be washed.
    - West African Proverb

    ok. Just saying. Thanks for the links. Very helpful reading material.

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