At Eclectablog of Michigan, Eclectablog writes—The data is clear: Emergency Management not working in Detroit Public Schools:
At Appalachian Voices of West Virginia, Brian Sewell writes—Appalachian Coal Companies Face Major Fines For Clean Water Act Violations:The entire premise of Emergency Management is that it solves problems municipalities and school districts are unable or unwilling to solve on their own. Granted extraordinary powers, Emergency Managers are put in place to drastically change things and put them on the right footing.
What the Detroit schools situation shows is that the problems in Detroit aren’t simply financial and they aren’t simply a matter of poor management. Without addressing the core issues of poverty, blight, crime, and a host of other modern plagues experienced by our aging urban cores, no amount of cost-cutting, privatizing, experimental teaching models, or management gimmickry is going to have the desired impact.
We have a serious problem in Detroit when it comes to education. The question is whether our political leaders will have the courage, creativity, and desire to address them with something more than window dressing and un-democratic takeovers. At the moment, that answer to that question, at least from the Republicans in the legislature and our Republican governor, appears to be “no”.
As Dr. Pedroni asks: “For Snyder’s theft of Detroit’s children’s future, will a moment of accountability ever come?”
Excerpts from other progressive state blogs can be found below the orange gerrymander.The fine is the result of a proposed consent order in a federal district court. The order must still be signed by a judge. Declining to comment, an attorney for Nally & Hamilton simply said “the consent decree speaks for itself.”
The news comes just a few days after a settlement was reached between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Alpha Natural Resources—the largest mountaintop removal mining operator in the U.S.—stipulating that the company must pay a $27.5 million fine for violations of the Clean Water Act at mines and coal preparation plants in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. It is the largest ever civil penalty under the water pollution permitting section of law.
In addition to the record-setting fine, Alpha said it will spend approximately $200 million to install and operate wastewater treatment systems and reduce pollution discharges at its coal mines in those five states.
These types of violations are nothing new, nor are they isolated incidents. Indeed, the enforcement action against Alpha alleges more than 6,000 discharge permit violations between 2006 and last year.
At Calitics, Brian Leubitz writes—San Bernardino Looks at Chemical Mining and Processing Facilities:Despite recent attempts by Republican Borough Assemblyman Lance Roberts to bully the Fairbanks Co-op Market into no longer carrying Ms. Magazine, this week a new shipment arrived and was stocked on the shelves. Roberts stated that he felt the magazine’s support of reproductive choice for women was tantamount to the Co-op Market condoning “genocide,” and announcing on his Facebook page that feminism was “heresy.”
When Roberts learned of the Co-op’s decision to discontinue selling the publication, he beat his chest in his own newsletter, reveling in the outcome of his threats to boycott the market, and the fact that the “extreme” magazine had been pulled.
After public outcry and national media attention, the Co-op Market’s management reconsidered the original decision to discontinue the magazine, and their change of heart seems to have paid off. The quarterly magazine sold out in less than 48 hours, and a second shipment of Ms. will arrive in the coming two weeks. Locals have stepped up to support the member run Co-op, and new memberships have even resulted from the decision to restock the magazine.
“I know many people who were planning to come down to purchase a copy, but didn’t get the chance Monday or Tuesday,” said Co-op Market member Kayt Sunwood. “Worthy of note: many of these people are new Co-op members. Ms. is good for business!” [...]
Nationwide, the impact of fracking on water supplies has been staggering. The Environment America Research and Policy Center estimated last fall that at least 250 billion gallons of water has been used in fracking operations for 80,000 wells in 17 states.At Blog for Arizona, Donna Gratehouse writes—Conservative women sure get away with being bossy:
That's why a Tetra Technologies project in Southern California is beginning to attract attention. The Texas-based company has filed paperwork for a project in San Bernardino County with hopes of adding five additional production wells in order to expand its sodium chloride (aka salt) and calcium chloride mining production by 20 percent. (Both sodium chloride and calcium chloride are widely known to be chemicals used in fracking.)The company's January 2013 Mining Plan Amendment would seem to fit in with Tetra Technologies' recent growth in the fracking industry. Earlier this month, it bought WIT Water Transfer, a firm that provides water services for fracking. Last year, it purchased Patterson-UTI Energy Inc.'s fracking services unit for $42.5 million in 2012. Yet the company has said little, billing itself as a "salt mining operation" to anyone who asks. [...]
Yet San Bernardino County hasn't seemed to be taking the necessary steps to ensure full Tetra Tech's full compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act. It's unclear what, if any, mitigation be required. Hopefully, answers will emerge soon.
At The Seminole Democrat, Vin Fl writes—Unreported $500,000 Donation an ‘Accounting Error’, Says Rick Scott:Sheryl Sandberg has sparked a healthy debate with the campaign she started aimed at getting people to stop using the word “bossy’ to describe girls. While it may not seem like a big deal at first, when you think about it and look at the evidence, it’s clear that “bossy” is applied to assertive girls far more often than similarly outgoing boys and is really a euphemism for something else. As Amanda Marcotte puts it:
Indeed, “bossy” is a synonym for “bitch,” I’d say. I’m not here to rehash the tired Sandberg debates (nor do I care to debate the bossy nature of the “Ban Bossy” campaign), but I think it’s actually quite brilliant the way she and her people figured out that “bossy” is the training bra version of the word “bitch” or “bitchy”. It’s a way to call someone a “bitch” when she’s still a little kid and using the harsher word seems unseemly.
This #banbossy campaign also reminds me of how some women who are quite aggressive and domineering manage to do very well. I’m speaking, of course, of the many women who have become prominent in the conservative movement, such as Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, and the godmother of them all, Phyllis Schlafly. These women find lucrative employment with right wing think tanks and publishing houses, as well as the speaking circuit. They preach traditional gender roles for everyone else while personally enjoying the careers and independence that are the fruits of the feminist movement they constantly deride. It’s unbelievably hypocritical but they get away with it—indeed, they’re rewarded for it—because they’re bossing other women (and low status men) around.[...]
At Indy Democrat Blog of Indiana, writes—Lawmakers Roll Back Eleven Funding:How the hell do you "misplace" a half million dollars? Or do you just not want people to know where the money came from?
This is one of the many things that Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign can do that we apparently cannot. The donation, given by Florida Crystals to Scott’s “Let’s Get to Work”—a committee designed to help Scott during his campaign—was one of the largest donations in the race.
At Progress Illinois, Aricka Flowers writes—Schneider Pushes For Unemployment Benefits Vote In House, Senate Reaches Tentative Deal:Indiana lawmakers are wisely tapping the breaks on a
giveawaystadium building deal for the Indy Eleven soccer team.
The Eleven hasn't played a game yet, and lawmakers were concerned that the numbers just didn't add up, according to WTHR.
The bill, which passed the House, bypassed the hearing process and is headed for a conference committee. At that committee, members will be asked to take out the funding for the soccer stadium in SB 308. If that holds up, the funding will be dead this session. Senate President David Long told WTHR that he'd rather deal with the soccer team's funding next year during a long session.
It's a big setback for the Indy Eleven who were hoping to get $87 million plus a ten percent ticket tax to help pay off the bond over 30 years. As for now, they have to pin their hopes on the conference committee not changing its mind and/or having a good first year in Carroll Stadium on the campus of IUPUI.
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL,10) has taken steps to push for the reactivation of long-term unemployment benefits in his chamber.At Hillbilly Report, Berry Craig writes—Was it Mitch McConnell's Mike Dukakis moment?:
On Wednesday, Schneider introduced a discharge petition that could force the House to vote on an unemployment benefits extension package that would help the two million Americans who have seen their jobless insurance lapse since the December 28 expiration, which immediately affected 80,000 Illinoisans. An average of 72,000 Americans are losing their unemployment insurance each week as a result of the expiration of benefits for the long-term unemployed.
“Failing to extend unemployment insurance, a critical lifeline for many of our families, is shortsighted and hurts our communities and businesses,” Schneider said in a release announcing his plans. “If my colleagues want to vote against the extension, I respect their right to disagree; but failing to even allow a vote goes against the very progress that families and our constituents demand. Partisan politics must not be allowed to get in the way of doing the right thing for our middle class families. That’s why I will file a measure to end the gridlock and force a vote on extending unemployment insurance.”
Just about everybody says Mitch McConnell laid an egg at the Conservative Political Action Conference.At HorsesAss.Org of Washington, Goldy writes—A “Total Compensation” Minimum Wage Could Force Real Take-Home Wages to Fall:
Worse for Kentucky’s senior senator, he might have handed the opposition a golden Mike-Dukakis-in-the-tank moment.The campaign of Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell’s almost certain Democratic foe in the fall (provided he beats tea party-tilting Matt Bevin in the May GOP primary), is already pouncing on McConnell’s misfortune. “Biggest Gaffe of the Year” says a fresh press release from Team Switch.
McConnell made his grand entrance at CPAC packing heat. He beamed and brandished what looked like a pioneer-style Kentucky Long Rifle. The smoke pole was a replica – an award from a grateful National Rifle Association to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is retiring for health reasons.
Charlton Heston’s famous gun-hugging brought down the house at NRA conventions. McConnell’s reprise bombed at CPAC.
The only decent applause he got was when he passed the rifle to Coburn. After that, McConnell delivered a brief bloviation full of his usual anti-Democratic sound and fury. But it signified nothing based on the crowd’s not so gung-ho response.
Having already lost the local debate on the minimum wage in general, and on $15 in particular, the business interests on Mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee have largely adopted a strategy of attempting to redefine the meaning of the word “wage” itself. The restaurant industry has long pined for a “tip credit” (or “tip penalty” from the perspective of workers) in which tips are counted towards meeting the minimum wage. But that wouldn’t lower the labor costs of businesses that rely on non-tipped employees, and so a strong push is being made to adopt the more sweeping notion of “total compensation.”At BlueNC, scharrison writes—Undue influence: Duke Energy pulled DENR's strings on lawsuit:
I’ll delve more deeply into the tip penalty debate in a subsequent post, but for the moment I want to focus on total compensation, which in addition to tips, would count the cost of providing health insurance, sick leave, vacation leave, 401K matches, and other non-cash benefits toward the employer’s requirement to pay a minimum $15 an hour wage. And to better understand the impact of adopting a $15 an hour total compensation minimum wage, it is useful to start with a real-life example:Let’s say you are a dishwasher working full-time at a midrange Seattle restaurant, earning $10.50 an hour plus $3 an hour in pooled or shared tips. You’re taking home the equivalent of $13.50 an hour, plus benefits. I guess there are worse jobs, but it’s hardly a living wage.
Now let’s say we pass a $15 total compensation minimum wage.
Based on the monthly price I’ve been quoted for COBRA, minus my share of the premium that had been deducted from my paychecks, I can estimate that I had cost The Stranger about $1.60 an hour for our so-so medical and dental coverage—let’s assume that’s typical for a restaurant. Then there’s a shift meal, with a retail price of $12.00, or another $1.50 an hour over the course of an 8 hour shift. Add two weeks vacation for another $0.40 an hour. Paid sick leave, that’s another $0.20 an hour still. I’m sure there are other benefits I’m missing, but this is more than enough to make my point. That’s already $3.70 an hour in benefits just there.
So… $10.50 an hour in wages, plus $3 an hour in tips, plus $3.70 an hour in benefits, and after our wonderful new $15 minimum wage ordinance passes, you’ll magically be making $17.20 an hour! That’s great! Except your take-home pay won’t increase a penny. In fact, some unscrupulous employers may seize this as an opportunity to actually lower wages. Hooray for total compensation!
This should go over well with Federal investigators:At BlueOregon, Kari Chisholm writes—OR-2: Greg Walden draws a serious Democratic opponent:
Honestly, I didn't think they could be this stupid. Apparently I overestimated their ability to contemplate more than five minutes into the future.
The emails were provided Thursday to The Associated Press by the Southern Environmental Law Center, which had filed notice in January 2013 of its intent to sue Duke under the Clean Water Act.
Within days, the emails show a Duke lobbyist contacted the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, where staff exchanged messages discussing "how Duke wants to be sued."
The agency used its authority to intervene in the lawsuit, quickly negotiating a proposed settlement where the $50 billion company would pay a $99,100 fine but be under no requirement to stop its pollution.
Oregon's 2nd congressional district is tough turf for Democrats. Over the last seven elections, Congressman Greg Walden's vote total has hovered between 67% and 73%.
Over the years, his opponents have run the gamut from serious to near-comical. The good news for 2014? He faces one of his toughest opponents yet.
Meet Aelea Christofferson. She's a successful business owner from Bend who has served on the Oregon Health Fund Board advisory committee and on the board of Cover Oregon.
"Cover Oregon?", you say? That's right. And she's not afraid to mix it up with Congressman Walden over his many, many votes to repeal health care reform.[...]
It's going to be a tough hill to climb to beat Greg Walden. But even if she just succeeds in pinning him down here at home to campaign, instead of traveling the country raising money and supporting candidates as the NRCC chairman, well, that's a win for Democrats.