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Welcome to another edition of This Week at Progressive State Blogs. 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 Eclectablog of Michigan, Eclectablog writes—Banks & insurance companies ask Detroit to eat its seed corn, obtain bids for billions of dollars for DIA art collection:

Eclectablog
The Detroit Free Press is reporting this afternoon that Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. has filed paperwork with the federal bankruptcy court overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy showing that several four separate investors have made bids on the priceless art collection held by the Detroit Institute of Arts worth billions of dollars. [...]

Some would paint this as a choice between art and pensioners. I would disagree and it is my hope that both the art and the pensioners will be largely protected. The large banks and their insurance companies made a bad investment and it should be them that pay the price for that lousy investment. Not the innocent Detroit pension holders and not by forcing Detroit to eat its seed corn by selling the precious art that it holds in trust for the entire state of Michigan.

At Calitics, Brian Leubitz writes—Bloom's SeaWorld Orca Bill Dies in Committee:
Calitics logo
With the recent negative coverage from the movie Blackfish, activists from across the nation were looking to the Assembly today. The orca hearings in Sacramento got a lot of press coverage, but the bill will not move forward this year:
In a move that effectively kills the legislative effort for the year, the legislation aimed at ending SeaWorld's killer whale shows was sent to interim hearings. The author agreed to the committee chair's request when it became clear that the votes were not there to move the bill. The action spares legislators and SeaWorld the uncertainty that a simple defeat of the bill in committee would have brought since bills sent to interim cannot be reconsidered. Presumably, hearings will be held after the close of the legislative session that could shape the debate in 2015.(IVN / Shawn M. Griffiths)
As you might expect, SeaWorld was very, very opposed to the bill and brought out all the stops. Their argument is fairly well laid out in this Fox5 video, but the short version is that the whales are better off performing because that is the most stimulating part of their day.
More excerpts and links to progressive state blogs can be found below the orange gerrymander.

At HorsesAss of Washington, Goldy writes—Five Proposals for Making a “Tip Credit” Less Worse:

horsesAss blog, state blogs
To be clear: I don’t endorse inserting a “tip credit” into Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance. It would incentivize wage theft, while setting a terrible precedent for other lawmakers following in our $15 footsteps. Furthermore, despite its deceptive efforts to use small businesses and their tipped employees as a sympathetic proxy, the restaurant industry has failed to make a compelling argument as to why a tip credit is either necessary or proper.

But unfortunately, I’m not Benevolent Dictator (yet!), so as long as the politicians are debating a tip credit, I thought it might be useful to talk about how we might make the tip credit better, by using it as a tool for combatting both forced part-time employment, and wage and tip theft—two employment abuses that afflict many low-wage workers.

At Burnt Orange Report of Texas, Katherine Haenschen writes—Republican SBOE Member Asks if Non-Mexican Americans Will Be Included in Mexican-American Studies:
Burnt Orange Report
It looks like Republicans' Hispanic outreach efforts have hit another bump in the road.

Republican [State Board of Education] Member Ken Mercer asked during a hearing on Mexican-American Studies if Cuban-Americans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz would be included in the curriculum.

The debate centered on the potential creation of a Mexican American studies course that could be offered as an elective to the entire state. The SBOE would need to develop and approve the new course's curriculum.

Hispanic students are the largest ethnic group in Texas public school systems. The overwhelming majority are of Mexican descent. It should be common sense that Texas public school students should be able to learn about leaders who share their heritage. After all, it seems to be working out just fine for the white kids.

The fact that Ken Mercer cannot distinguish between Cuban Americans and Mexican Americans suggests that this coursework is sorely needed.

At the South Dakota Madville Times, caheidelberger writes—Belfrage: Practical Conservative, But Local and Idealist Liberal?
Madville Times of South Dakota
I've seen this disjunction before between national-level political squawking and local community improvement: when we need to pay teachers, pave streets, and put out fires, all the hollering about socialism and Obama and liberal-foisted dependency doesn't amount to a hill of beans. We just want our city councils and school boards to get stuff done. We work together through those governments to fix problems.

[KELO radio host Greg] Belfrage defends his federal conservatism/local liberalism (that is what it is, isn't it, Greg?) dichotomy by saying we citizens can better hold our local governments to account than we can the federal government.

Is Belfrage's fine distinction really all conservatives and liberals have been arguing about? Belfrage seems to be saying, "Government is not inherently bad. At the local level, vigorous government is good! Liberalism is really a good model for managing a community; it's just tougher to ensure liberalism works in larger communities, like nations." Is liberalism superior philosophically, requiring only the practical check of conservatism at scale?

At Progress Illinois, Ashlee Rezin writes—Immigrant Rights Activists Arrested While Protesting Deportations At Broadview Detention Center:
state blogs, Progress Illinois
Eleven immigrant rights activists were arrested in Broadview Tuesday morning after linking arms in the street and blocking traffic near a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center to protest deportations.

Before the arrests, a few hundred people picketed outside the detention center, located at 1930 Beach St., as part of the national "Not One More" deportation campaign, urging President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to halt deportations immediately. Nationwide, activists with the campaign took part in more than 80 immigration-related actions over the weekend.

On Monday, local immigrant rights advocates began to march from ICE's downtown Chicago field office to the Broadview detention center, making stops along the way for a prayer vigil and other actions.

The two-day event culminated with a rally in front of the detention center, where activists chanted “Two million, Too many” to raise awareness about the nearly 2 million people who have been deported under the Obama administration.

At Left in Alabama, countrycat writes—Empower Alabama's Micah Morris: "Organizing Is Hard, But We Can Win Here":
Left in Alabama, state blogs
Empower Alabama Regional Field Director Micah Morris discusses how her life experiences led her to choose a life/career of activism & organizing.  "I grew up in east Tennessee, and I saw my family work too hard for too little." Speaking at Sunday's Women's Rights Rally in Huntsville, she describes how a life on the margins—barely making it one month only to fall behind the next—gradually grinds down hope and faith in the future.
"The sense of resignation in my family... it was so normalized.  Life just happens, you know?  Life happens.  And I remember feeling this sense of panic. Thinking like: I don't want life to just happen to me, like I want to happen to life!

I don't want to live in a world where I have to settle. Settle for jobs that don't pay me enough money, for housing I can't afford....  For me, the gateway to have a life where I didn't have to settle was to go to school.

I'm really blessed because I had great people in my corner and I'm the only person in my immediate family who has graduated from college.  It changed the trajectory of my life, what I know, and where I come from.

At Plunderbund of Ohio, Abe writes—Koch Brothers: Like Father, Like Sons?
Plunderbund blog logo
Did somebody hurt  Charles Koch’s feelings? You know, the CEO of Koch Industries, a  vast enterprise big enough to be its own country managed by hand-picked servile Republicans.

It certainly seemed that the politically active billionaire felt bruised by villainous opponents as he spoke out hurtfully in the op-ed piece he wrote for the Wall Street Journal.  Let him explain:

“Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents. They engage in character assassination ( I should know, as the almost daily target  of their attacks). This is the approach that Arthur Schopenhauer described in the 19th century, that Saul Alinsky famously  advocated in the 20th, and that so many despots have infamously  practiced. Such tactics are the antithesis of what is required for a free society—and a telltale sign that the collectivists do not have good answers.”
Hold it right there, Charlie.

I have a few probems with his mythiness on how government has cramped  the swarming dollar-style of economic freedom and liberty, particularly as it arrives courtesy of a fellow who has done quite well amassing a fortune under the present oppressive government.

At Nevada Progressive, atdnext writes—If It's Dirty, Why Not Clean It?
Nevada Progressive
How many times have we confronted this? We've examined the shells. We've smelled the stinky juice. We've felt the shadows. We've even raced to catch up with the Speedway.

Yet through it all, we've become quite dizzy from all the rides on Nevada's notorious "Merry-go-round of Corruption". Sadly, we need to step back on that merry-go-round this morning to examine an aspect of Nevada politics that is often overlooked: our local judiciary.

We must give credit where it's due. "Newspaper" columnist Jane Ann Morrison (one of the few other reasons to even bother reading it) recently exposed the kind of bare knuckle political maneuvering that we typically don't expect on the judicial bench. There are now even accusations of what authorities in other states call bribery... But what we in Nevada just refer to as "politics as usual".

At BlueNC, scharrison writes—Another gut-punch coming for NC's unemployed:
When faulty statistics cause real-world harm:
The maximum number of weeks that North Carolina’s jobless can receive unemployment checks is expected to decline significantly again in July because state law ties the benefits to the state’s declining unemployment rate. The prospect of four or five fewer weeks of unemployment checks for workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own is bemoaned by advocates for the poor.

“The fact that we are seeing a decline in the unemployment rate is really masking the persistent and high joblessness in our state,” said Alexandra Forter Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center at the N.C. Justice Center, an advocacy group for the poor and working class. “Many workers do not have employment opportunities despite wanting to work.”

It's simply hard to understand the cold-blooded nature of Republicans in the NCGA. Not a single glance back at the families who are left behind in their rush to not only pay off the Federal debt, but build a billion-dollar "trust" fund to cover future claims. And the self-perpetuating nature of this law means, the sooner these benefits are cut off, the lower the unemployment rate will seem, resulting in even more cuts to the duration of benefits. It's a cycle, and not a good cycle, either.
At Blog for Arizona, AZ BlueMeanie writes—Tea-Publicans in the Arizona Legislature cower before Cathi Herrod again:
state blogs, blog for Arizona
Cathi Herrod and her Christian Taliban at the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), and its legal arm ally the Alliance Defending Freedom, have once again convinced Tea-Publicans in the Arizona legislature to enact yet another unconstitutional and unlawful abortion regulation permitting unannounced warrantless inspections of abortion clinics for purposes of harassment and intimidation of abortion service providers and their patients. Arizona lawmakers OK plan for unannounced abortion clinic inspections:
[S]tate senators gave final approval to  HB 2284 Wednesday to allowing unannounced warrantless inspection of abortion clinics.

The 17-13 party-line voice vote came after extensive debate about not just whether the law is needed, but whether it is really designed to harass abortion providers and their patients.

The House previously approved the measure on a near party-line vote of 34-22-4, with Democratic Rep. Lydia Hernandez (LD 29) voting with the Tea-Publicans, and Republican Kate Brophy McGee (LD 28) voting no with the Democrats. The “mythical moderate Republicans,” including Rep. Ethan Orr (R-Tucson), voted for this unconstitutional CAP bill.

Once again, the state of Arizona will be pissing away your tax dollars to defend yet another unconstitutional and unlawful measure on behalf of the extremist agenda of the CAP.

At The Seminole Democrat, Vin FL writes—FL Legislature: Three Liberal Justices on FL Supreme Court Kicked Off If Rick Scott Wins:
The Seminole Democrat state blog
Rick Scott and our tea party legislature have been OBSESSED with kicking off the three liberal justices on Florida's Supreme Court.

Our Court is perfectly balanced right now. They have repeatedly thwarted the worst of the worst (the minority voter purge, the craziest of gerrymandering, kicking off misleading amendments, stopping the assault on our teachers, etc.) Pam Bondi, our crappy AG, is as partisan as they come so no citizen can expect justice from her. Nor any other Florida official.

The tea party has already done PLENTY to harm Florida--the only thing stopping our state from devolving into complete tea-laden anarchy is our Court.

And friends, they have tried, tried, and tried again. [...]

Rick Scott HAS to lose. No governor should get to pack the Court... let alone a criminal one. We've managed to defeat these underhanded bastards four times. If Rick Scott wins, there will be no one to stand in the way of the brazen assaults on those with no special interest power.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Detroit reveals ALEC's and the Koch's agenda. (9+ / 0-)

    Think about the baby Jesus. Up in that tower, letting His hair down so that the three wise men could climb up and spin the dreidle and see if there's six more weeks of winter. -- Will and Grace

    by Rikon Snow on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 08:15:06 AM PDT

  •  Sea World has its problems (14+ / 0-)

    I appreciate and support the educational work they do, as well as the marine mammal and sea turtle rescue work they do here in Florida.

    BUT

    I have always had my reservations about keeping animals like orcas and dolphins (and chimps and elephants and other wide-ranging intelligent animals) in restricted areas that are, in effect, prisons. In the case of Sea World, there is also the disturbing trend for more and more "animal shows" to bring the paying crowds in. Of course Sea World, being a privately-owned entity without access to the public funding that nonprofit zoological societies has, must do what they must to obtain the revenue they need to operate (which is why they also have all the rides and theater attractions). But when Sea World was owned by Annheuser-Busch, it was never intended as a profit-maker--it was basically a side interest of the owner, a very expensive hobby, which functioned as a place for education and rescue work, and whatever the admissions revenue didn't cover was paid for largely out of the promotional and advertising budget. It wasn't expected to make a profit.

    Now, however, Sea World is owned by some bigshot Wall Street investment group, and its entire dynamic has changed--and not for the better. Now the emphasis is shifting away from education and rescue work, more towards anything that will bring in more paying customers. The orca shows, which used to have the purpose of demonstrating behaviors that orcas did naturally anyway, have now become elaborate theater designed more to wow the audience with more elaborate "tricks". And there have been accusations that the marine mammal rescue work is now becoming more like a hunting expedition to obtain new animals for exhibit. I find that disturbing.

    And I've never liked the idea of privately-owned for-profit zoos or aquariums. These always do best (both for the animals and for the visitors) when run as non-profit educational centers.

    Nevertheless, Sea World, despite its problems, still does do great education and rescue work, and I will continue to support it as long as the benefits continue to outweigh the downsides--while at the same time doing what I can to correct the downsides.

    Shutting down the whale/dolphin shows will likely make Sea World less profitable, perhaps even un-profitable (though perhaps not--Busch gardens also does extensive conservation and captive-breeding work with its animals, and it does not have any performing-animal shows at all). I'd be disappointed if that led to the entire Sea World operation being shut down as the Wall Street vampires simply discard it and move on to something else to suck all the blood out of. But I'd be very happy if it led to the entire operation being sold to some non-profit entity who will go back to the original goals of education and rescue. My best-case scenario would be that Sea World's operations are taken over by the various state, county, or municipal governments--they are after all  important to the local tourist economies--and run as non-profit zoological societies.

    DISCLAIMER: I have an annual pass to both Sea World and Busch Gardens, and I visit them both regularly, but that is my only connection to them.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 08:20:14 AM PDT

    •  Sending to Top Comments ..... (6+ / 0-)

      ... on the basis of this segment:

      (But) when Sea World was owned by Annheuser-Busch, it was never intended as a profit-maker--it was basically a side interest of the owner, a very expensive hobby, which functioned as a place for education and rescue work, and whatever the admissions revenue didn't cover was paid for largely out of the promotional and advertising budget. It wasn't expected to make a profit.

      Now, however, Sea World is owned by some bigshot Wall Street investment group, and its entire dynamic has changed--and not for the better. Now the emphasis is shifting away from education and rescue work, more towards anything that will bring in more paying customers.

      A change in ownership seems to trigger many changes and - as you note - often not for the better. Thanks, and you'll see your name mentioned in Top Comments, circa 10:00 PM Eastern.

      "We should pay attention to that man behind the curtain."

      by Ed Tracey on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 11:51:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mexico, Cuba, what's the difference? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paragryne, Puddytat, Cadillac64

    This is why Battleground Texas is so terribly important. Thanks, MB. Lots to chew on today.

    Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 08:31:33 AM PDT

  •  So from Hunter's piece... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Eric Nelson, Cadillac64

    on Miami-Dade preventing voters from using the bathroom while in line to vote, a right-of-center person on another site I'm on responded that we're being stupid for claiming voter suppression on that, because the election supervisor of Miami-Dade that decided to do this... is a black woman.  And why would she want to disenfranchise other black women (and men)?

    FWIW, she's not a Democrat or a Republican.  She's listed as "no party affiliation", though she was appointed by the Republican mayor of Miami-Dade.

  •  It would be a catastrophe of the first order (4+ / 0-)

    if the DIA were pillaged. I feel great apprehension, since there's apparently no moral core to Orr or Snyder. Perhaps the judge can be a brake on this despoilation. I can't tell.

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 11:09:10 AM PDT

  •  The whole lack of unemployment comp (3+ / 0-)

    and the strategic efforts to kill it off entirely misses the point.  

    Unemployment isn't a rate.  People aren't 8% or 10% unemployed.  If they don't have a job and can't get one, they're 100% unemployed.

    Considering that the benefits are tiny compared to the previous paycheck that was earned, pushing for UC to continue throughout the entire period a person is unemployed is the only sane and rational choice.

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

    by Puddytat on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 12:03:06 PM PDT

  •  As a boy caged aimals frightened me.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lenny Flank, Metric Only, Cadillac64

    ..but the scene I recall as vividly today as then was at the zoo watching a Baboon fling poo at a woman with huge brightly colored coiffed hairdo. It seemed to this little boy that the Baboon might have been scared. I certainly had never seen a helmet of attack-looking-hair like that before, and the look on the face of the baboon was a grimace, a grimace I have since learned is not "smiling" as we humans would imagine, but a grimace of fear.  

    Now it has grown to be almost a hatred of zoos. Marine world whatever. The whole idea of it. I'm sure there are many good people that love wildlife that care and protect all of these beautiful creatures, but caging them to me is not the way to do it. We should protect their natural homes/environment and, when those natural home lands are threatened and study is necessary, do it in the least invasive way possible.

    "the most stimulating" huh? Having robbed these animals of their natural "stimulus" in the first place, this caging of animals needs a to be looked at from a much higher view point or rather a completely different perspective - imo

    As for viewing books with pictures like National Geographic or encyclopedia Britannica works for me - my 2 cents on zoos
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Wow, this from Madville Times:  Practical Conservative, But Local and Idealist Liberal?

    I've seen this disjunction before between national-level political squawking and local community improvement: when we need to pay teachers, pave streets, and put out fires, all the hollering about socialism and Obama and liberal-foisted dependency doesn't amount to a hill of beans. We just want our city councils and school boards to get stuff done. We work together through those governments to fix problems.
    ..this may actually be the beginning signs of republicans being forced to admit (actually being exposed is more like it) that what they have attacked as so-called evil "liberal" policies, is indeed what most people do NOT consider evil but actually want and need.

    I'll bet there are memos being designed/spun-up to somehow adopt PPACA as one of many examples of "liberalism" that republicans will have to put the spin on..

    .. liberalism superior philosophically, requiring only the practical check of conservatism at scale
    .. to give "conservative" movement/state rights/sovereignty cover and to trick people into believing the GOP has added something necessary of value.

    Even now as Rand Paul (as are other republicans) is trying to mix Liberal ideas with the re-dux of interposition & nullification

    It won't work. People will know who stood up for them and not corporations, and it won't be republicans they think of

    To me, the end result is. Dems solutions are popular and work for the people; republican allegiance to the 1%ers and corporations hurt people. That fact will settle into peoples minds as republicans are forced to hew to so-called 'evil liberal' ideas and policies - especially when they are making liberal promises in order to get elected - imo

    Thx MB for this weeks Progressive State Blogs

    whoa  that was good coffee - done now

    •  but alas here is the difficulty with this: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cadillac64
      I'm sure there are many good people that love wildlife that care and protect all of these beautiful creatures, but caging them to me is not the way to do it. We should protect their natural homes/environment and, when those natural home lands are threatened and study is necessary, do it in the least invasive way possible.
      There simply IS NO MORE "wild" left for them. Anywhere. There is not one square foot of habitat anywhere on this entire planet that is not "managed" by humans. Even the biggest natural parks and wildlife preserves are fenced-in areas where the animals get shot if they leave, where population levels have to controlled very deliberately to prevent overcrowding and depletion of resources. The "natural homes" you refer to are themselves, quite simply, cages--albeit very large ones, they are cages nevertheless. The entire planet Earth is essentially one giant managed game preserve. Everything that lives here, lives only at our pleasure.

      It would certainly be wonderful IF there was a planet where nature could exist independently of us. But, sadly, this planet is not it.

      Given the choice between "managed animal populations" and "NO animal populations" . . . well . . .  there is no choice.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 04:38:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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