At NH Labor Notes, NH Labor writes—Newmarket Town Council Calls for a Constitutional Amendment Opposing Corporate Money in Politics:Republicans like to blame the EVIL DEMOCRATIC MACHINE for their near constant string of electoral failures in Massachusetts. They prefer not to talk about how their state party platform is better aligned with views in Arizona than in Massachusetts:
That’s right, the hate platform didn’t just squeak by with a thin majority – Republican leaders chose hate in a landslide. It’s part of a movement to bring the Massachusetts Republican Party backwards:
Reflecting a major shift in the makeup of the elected Republican State Committee, activists overwhelmingly embraced a new platform Tuesday night that frowns upon abortion and praises traditional marriage.
After a spirited debate in which some members disputed whether social issues should be included in the party’s guiding principles at all, the activists backed the new platform by a 52-to-16 vote.
With the passage of resolution 2013-2014-50, Newmarket joins nearly 500 local governments nationwide in calling for a constitutional amendment to end the corrosive influence of corporate money in politics and to restore constitutional rights to the people. The resolution calls on the U.S. Congress and the states to pass an amendment that would guarantee the people’s right to regulate political spending, and clarify that the inalienable rights of the Constitution are possessed by people only, effectively overturning the basis of U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.You will find more progressive state blogs if you take a gander below the orange gerrymander.
The Newmarket town council passed this resolution 6-0, on Feb. 19, 2014.
“The issue of representatives being beholden to large money donors isn’t a partisan one. The monopoly of influence on our elected representatives by well financed special interests that finance their campaigns drowns out the voices of normal people and threatens our form of government. I am glad we are sending a message to our representatives that we recognize the system is broken and that we expect action to be taken to remedy this issue.” said Councilor Phil Nazzaro.
Momentum is building in NH with over 50 communities having warrant articles calling for a constitutional response to the flood of money from corporations and the ultra-wealthy that has inundated elections since the court’s disastrous Citizens United decision. Since this ruling, 16 states and the District of Columbia have called for a constitutional amendment, and New Hampshire along with 12 other states are working on doing the same this year.
It would certainly be tempting to rip the flag pin off the lapel of the Republican Ohio legislator you see.At BlueOregon, Chuck Sheketoff writes—Trucking Along, Avoiding Corporate Income Taxes:
Too busy to deal with things like job creation or equitable school funding, the general assembly spent recent weeks easing through the passage of two bills intended to make voting more difficult and confusing.
They're no longer even maintaining the pretense that it has anything to do with “voter fraud,” as empty as that justification was. They’re doing it just BECAUSE—because they are so extreme and so deaf and blind to the needs of anyone who isn’t wealthy that they are shrinking their own chances of winning election—unless they prevent people who tend to vote against them from voting.
The bills—SB 238 and SB 205—do things like cut the number of early voting days, eliminate the so-called “golden period” when you can register and vote at the same time, and ban counties from sending out mail-in ballot applications, while allowing the secretary of state to do so only in even-year elections, IF he feels like it, and only if the general assembly specifically funds it. This opens the door to mass voter confusion due to the lack of consistency. Voters won't know when or whether to expect an application in the mail. It's insulting.
The same company whose lawsuit made it possible for corporations to side-step Oregon’s corporate minimum tax turns out to be a federal corporate income tax avoider, as well.At BlueDaze of Texas, TXSharon writes—Two oilfield workers electrocuted as oilfield safety questioned:
The trucking company Con-way had a negative effective federal income tax rate over the 2008 to 2012 period, despite making $587 million in profits over those five years. In other words, Con-way made money by filing federal tax returns.That’s one of the findings in The Sorry State of Corporate Taxes: What Fortune 500 Firms Pay (or Don’t Pay) in the USA And What they Pay Abroad—2008 to 2012 (PDF), a report released by Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). The Sorry State of Corporate Taxes (PDF) looks at the profits and federal income taxes of the 288 Fortune 500 companies that were profitable in each of the five years between 2008 and 2012.
Con-way is not unique in its tax-avoiding ways. The report identifies 25 other profitable corporations that had a negative effective federal tax rate for that entire five-year span. Of the 288 consistently profitable companies examined in the report, 111 paid zero or less in federal income taxes in at least one year from 2008 to 2012.
Con-way also knows how to avoid Oregon’s corporate income tax. Con-way reported Oregon sales of $79 million for tax year 2009. Instead of paying Oregon’s $75,000 corporate minimum tax, the corporation went to court (PDF) and obtained a loophole that allowed it to pay nothing—zip—in Oregon corporate income taxes.
Since then, a fleet of corporations have taken advantage of the Con-way loophole, taking millions of dollars away from schools, community colleges, worker-training programs and many key public structures that create economic opportunity and enhance the business climate.
At Blue Virginia, lowkell writes—Rep. Connolly Demolishes Right-Wing Hack Hans von Spakovsky at IRS Hearing:A newspaper investigation found “lack of government inspections and shoddy practices by many oil and gas companies” has left a “toll of badly injured or killed workers.”
Another two men lost their lives today when they were electrocuted by a power line.
Forty-percent of the 663 fatal accidents happened in Texas.
In 2012 alone, the newspaper found 79 people lost limbs, 82 were crushed, 92 suffered burns and 675 broke bones in work-related accidents reported to insurance carriers. The same year, the 65 deaths were a 10-year high and almost 60 percent more fatalities than in 2011.
One attorney representing injured workers calls it “like the Wild West out there.”
Newspaper investigation questions oil field safety, says 663 killed in 6 years
I just watched this, and it is absolutely awesome. Rep. Connolly utterly demolishes Hans von Spakovsky at a House hearing on political activities at the IRS. They hypocrisy by the hyper-partisan (of the far-right-wing variety) von Spakovsky is simply breathtaking. For instance, check this out:At The Mudflats of Alaska, Shannyn Moore writes—Parnell Stacks the Deck for Oil. Again.:
In this hearing, Rep. Connolly points to egregious, extremely partisan, right-wing political activities by the Assistant Attorney General to the Civil Rights Division in the Bush administration. Rep. Connolly notes that a DOJ Inspector General's report found that Deputy Assistant Atttorney General Bradley Schlossman, for whom von Spakovsky worked, had "violated federal law and department policy by considering political affiliations in hiring decisions and other personnel actions such as the assignment of cases to career attorneys." According to the IG, Schlossman "placed limitations on the assignment of cases to attorneys who he described as 'libs' or 'pinkos' and he requested that important cases be handled by conservative attorneys he had hired instead." Wow.
Von Spakovsky's tenure at the Justice Department was marked by a focus on voter eligibility and voter fraud. In 2005, he led the Department's approval of a controversial Georgia law requiring voters to produce photo ID, despite strong objections from Justice Department staff that the lawwould disproportionately harm and disenfranchise African-American voters. Von Spakovksy subsequently acknowledged that he had written a law review article supporting such photo ID laws under the pseudonym "Publius", prompting concerns that he should have recused himself from the Justice Department decision. The Georgia law was subsequently overturned by a federal judge, who compared it to a "Jim-Crow era poll tax". During von Spakovsky's tenure, more than half of the career Justice Department staff left the voting section in protest. [...]
So, the question is, why wasn't von Spakovsky horrified at—and why didn't he speak out against - Schlossman's outrageous politicization of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division when he worked for Schlossman? Yet now von Spakovsky is deeply concerned at the supposed "scandal" at the IRS under a Democratic administration? What a pathetic joke. Anyway, thank goodness Rep. Connolly came armed with reams of facts (a foreign concept to the von Spakovskys of the world, apparently) to this hearing and utterly demolished this right-wing political hack.
At Rum, Romanism and Rebellion of Arizona, Tom writes—Three Sonorans Might Actually Have A Point Here:It’s a bit of a long story, but I’ll give you the skinny. Most of us are familiar with the little green postcard that comes in the mail with property tax assessments. The companies that own the pipeline stretching from top to bottom of this great state are no different. They pay borough taxes to the North Slope, Fairbanks and Valdez, as well as to the state of Alaska.
To help figure out the value of that pipeline, there’s a volunteer board made up of gubernatorial appointees. It’s called the State Assessment Review Board (SARB). Oh, I’m sure folks who volunteer for this position are loads of fun at parties, but I can’t imagine trying to figure out the assessed value of the pipeline. Math boggles me at times, and the industry pressure cooker would be enough to can salmon tight enough to last until the Rapture.
One such man stepped into the cooker during Murkowski’s last year in office (a year that seemed particularly long for some reason). Let’s just call him Marty McGee, because that’s his name. By all accounts that aren’t the governor’s, Mr. McGee is the most competent person to lead Alaska’s oil property assessment.
Sorry, I get ahead of myself. The pipeline folks wanted to fill in the boxes for their own little green postcard. They said the pipeline was worth $850 million. In 2006, the Department of Revenue said the pipeline was worth $3.6 billion. The SARB said it was worth $4.3 billion. The TAPS owners went to court.
This brings us up to 2010, when a Superior Court looked at the evidence and said, you’re all wrong, the pipeline is worth $9.98 billion.
In fact, the court said there is so much valuable oil left on the North Slope that if there were no oil pipeline, the oil companies would spend tens of billions to build one.
Surprise! Pachow! That means millions more in duly owed taxes for municipalities, boroughs and the state. Relief for property owners? God willing and the creek don’t rise.
Hold the phone, cowboy.
Marty McGee was “fired” from the board by the Parnell administration. According to McGee, Gov. Parnell is trying to stack the board with oil company people, to keep the assessments low so the companies will pay less and Alaskans will get the shaft—once again.
First, we have to realize that, though bigotry is inherently evil, the way that this evil manifests itself against any given community is unique and rooted in a particular history. The bigotry against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans that drove SB1070 has its roots in, among other things, economic anxiety, misconceptions about this region’s history, a fear of the loss of political power and concerns about crime. The “facts” upon which these are based are often spurious, exaggerated or out of context, but at least there is some sort of negligible substance there to argue.At California Progress Report, Julie Gutman Dickinson writes—Vergara v. California's Corporate Heart:
Bigotry against homosexuals, which is what is behind SB1062, is different. It is largely about squeamishness over what other people might be doing. There can be no pretense that this is about anything as important as preserving jobs for good Americans or combating brutal gangs because it clearly is not.
Anti-gay rhetoric is obsessed with sex. Though we certainly hear this less often than we did in the 1980s and 90s, conservatives still have a habit of making graphic, sometimes scatological references to what they imagine gays might be doing in the privacy of their bedrooms. During my time in the legislature, one Mesa Republican notoriously kept a stash of gay porn in her desk, ready to deploy as props during floor debate as an illustration of what she viewed as the depravity of homosexuality. Notwithstanding the number of ostensibly tough, macho dudes who live in fear of being buggered, its called homophobia for a reason, after all, even the most eloquent anti-gay activist is basically arguing, in the words of political philosopher Joe Bob Briggs, “we heard what you gays are doing, and we don’t like it.”
In other words, while the bigotry behind SB1070 was ignorant, the bigotry behind SB1062 is irrational.
At Eclectablog, Eclectablog writes—EAA grab bag: Job posting for EAA preschool in a “Christian setting”, Chancellor Covington in spin mode, and more:Are job protections for teachers to blame for educational underachievement among low-income students of color in California? That’s the provocative question ostensibly at the heart of Vergara vs. California, which seeks to invalidate the tenure, due process and seniority rights of hundreds of thousands of educators.
Astute observers of the nation’s escalating education wars, however, may be asking another question: When did it become permissible to use the welfare of children as a fig leaf for an all-out legal attack on teachers?
Yesterday, the ACLU of Michigan sent Education Achievement Authority Chancellor John Covington a letter asking about this job posting (archived HERE.) The job posting is for preschool teachers at Law, Bethune, and Brenda Scott elementary schools, all part of the EAA. The job description says that the, “teachers are responsible for implementing a developmentally appropriate early childhood education curriculum in a Christian setting.” [...]At Rural and Progressive of Georgia, Katherine Helms Cummings writes—Georgia doesn’t need to legislate hate:
In his letter (PDF), Michael Steinberg, an attorney for the ACLU, reminded Chancellor Covington that EAA schools are true public schools in Michigan which decidedly may NOT be described as “a Christian setting.”There is no principal more fundamental to American public education than the requirement that schools be welcoming of all students and teachers regardless of religious or racial background. Our Constitution wisely requires schools to remain neutral in matters of religion.
So, really? A “Christian setting”? It appears that what has happened here is that the chronically unprofessional folks at the EAA plagiarized a job posting for the St. Mary Child Development Center in Troy. [...]
It appears that they couldn’t even be bothered to write their own job description and just plagiarized one they found online.
Aye, aye, aye… Like I said: chronically unprofessional.
Arizona’s Republican United States Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, are joining the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and major corporations and calling for Gov Jan Brewer to reject SB 1062, a bill designed to allow discrimination against gay people (and who knows who else) based on the religion of the person who feels a need to discriminate. The uproar and pushback are so strong that four major companies are reconsidering decisions to bring thousands of jobs to the state. Arizona hobbled itself over establishing a Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday years ago, and there is already plenty of talk about moving the 2015 Super Bowl out of the state if Brewer signs the bill.At Blue Jersey, Rosi Efthim writes—Protest Slideshow: Outside Chris Christie "Town Hall" in Morris County:
Arizona’s bad idea is also a bad idea for Georgia, and there are two bills in the General Assembly that would hurt our state by legalizing discrimination based on the “preservation of religious freedom.” The House version of this hate bill masquerading as religious freedom is HB 1023. The Senate’s version is SB 377.
I was stunned to find Rep Mack Jackson’s name on the House version of this bill. Mack, a Democrat who serves District 128 where I live, is the minster of St. James Christian Fellowship in Tennille.
My first questions to him were, “Have you talked to Dr Lowery about this? Would Dr. King support you on this?”
I value religious freedom and the separation of church and state. But there’s a big difference between religious freedom and legalizing discrimination based on one’s personal faith.
Today, in his homeboy territory of Morris County, Gov. Christie is road-testing his milky, Gandhi-mentioning budget plan among the reliably white and Republican folk of Stirling. Scandals - Bridgegate, misuse of Sandy funds, Hoboken mayor-threatening - and fallout are the backstory of every Christie public appearance now, though he skirts questions. On what he knew and when he knew it, Christie has clammed-up and lawyered-up. But Christie's schtick isn't working as reliably anymore. Cracks appear in the well-orchestrated mojo propaganda front. There are protesters now, outside and inside the Christie show.
My favorite from today, is the pregnant Ann Vardeman (NJCA) holding the sign about her soon-to-be baby.
"I feel badly about the kids." David Wildstein, text.
"They are the children of Buono voters." Christie Deputy COS Bridget Kelly. [...]
Vardeman: "Five years of Christie and all we have to show for it is the highest unemployment in the region, an economic recovery trailing New York and Pennsylvania, and traffic problems in Fort Lee. If it were his kids stuck on that bus (as kids were stuck in Christie's GWB traffic on the first day of school), would we know for sure by now if it was a traffic study?"