Skip to main content

megaphone
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 be watching. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At The Mudflats of Alaska, Jeanne Devon writes—Palin Slams GOP Successor in Alaska:

Mudflats blog
She left our state’s politics in the dust after quitting office in 2009, but yesterday she returned to her favorite local media platform—The Bob & Mark Radio Show—to slam her successor and one-time Lt. Governor, Republican Sean Parnell.

The bone she had to pick with him relates to her signature legislation as governor, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES). The oil tax system that ushered Alaska’s bank account into golden days of plenty, with a savings of more than $17 billion, ACES funded subsequent investments in roads, schools, and critical infrastructure projects. Under ACES, oil production was up, jobs were up, and the coffers were full after a long dark decade when oil companies paid little or no production tax on North America’s largest oil fields.

In an economy utterly reliant on oil, there is a reason that Palin’s approval ratings as Alaska governor once hovered near 90% and ACES had a lot to do with it. Considering the highly partisan nature of her current Tea Party politics, Palin was surprisingly bipartisan and partnered with Democrats and some legislative Republicans to make it happen. She was an Alaska first populist, and people responded. [...]

Until now, Palin has stood silent as the man whose name once shared her campaign yard signs has destroyed her legacy. Now, her silence on this matter has ended in dramatic fashion and the old populist “stick it to the oil companies” Palin is back.
Asked why Parnell had a change of heart, Palin said

“Bless his heart. Remember that Sean Parnell came from the oil industry. He was an employee of ConocoPhillips lobbying for the cause there.”

At Policy Matters Blog of Mississippi, D Polk writes—Mississippi College Tuition Continues to Rise, Students Footing the Bill:
Mississippi Economic Policy Center
Since 2008, Mississippi has cut funding for higher education by approximately 25 percent when adjusted for inflation. These cuts have caused tuition at Mississippi’s college and universities to rise at a time when the state’s economy needs more skilled workers. Financial aid for students has not kept up with the increasing costs of a post-secondary education, increasing the likelihood that students are unable to finish college or pursue an education in the first place. Limiting access to higher educatioPress Release Photon will limit opportunities for Mississippi families and our economic growth as a state.

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlights recent shifts in funding for higher education in the state. While per student funding has increased slightly over the past year, since 2008 Mississippi has cut funding for higher education by 25 percent when adjusted for inflation, which represents a reduction of $2,524 per student. In response to this, our state colleges and universities have had to increase their tuition. The average tuition at a public, four-year college in Mississippi has increased 23 percent or $1,213 during this same time period.

Smart investments in public colleges and universities will strengthen Mississippi’s economy. Areas with highly educated residents attract employers who pay competitive wages. Their employees then spend money in the community, boosting the economy of the entire area. That’s what Mississippi needs for our state economy to thrive.

Without this investment, students increasingly have to foot the bill to finance a higher education. These students are taking on unsustainable levels of debt, and rapidly rising tuition is scaring some students away from college altogether. This has significant implications for their career prospects and the state’s future economic capacity. Mississippi needs to find ways to keep debt down and make college affordable for students and their families.

Please read below the orange gerrymander for more excerpts from progressive state blogs.

At Blue Hog Report of Arkansas, Matt Campbell writes—“What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say" —Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Blue Hog Report
I think the voters of District 76 and the people of Arkansas—regardless of their personal stance on abortion—deserve to see the rampant hypocrisy in order to cast the most informed ballot possible. [...]

If you go to Altes’ website and click on “What I Believe,” you will see, among other things, this:

I am fiercely pro-life, pro-family, pro-business, and I am ultra-conservative. I believe that we have God-given rights to defend our families, raise our children as we want, and keep as much of our hard earned money as possible. I believe in the sanctity of human life from conception.

[...]

Fast forward just a bit, to some time around May or June of 2010, when Altes began a sexual relationship with a woman named Kristen. In February 2011, Kristen gave birth to a son and listed Bobby Altes as the putative father. When Altes failed to provide support for this child, Kristen filed a petition on September 16, 2011, with the Office of Child Support Enforcement. An order establishing paternity and requiring Bobby to pay $151/week in support was entered on March 14, 2012.

Now, if you were paying attention at the start of this post, you might have just thought, “March 14, 2012 ... isn’t that less than five months before he married the woman in Texas?” Yes, it was.

Which also means that Bobby Altes impregnated two different women between May/June 2010 and July/August 2012; he had to be sued to acknowledge paternity of one, and he had his wife abort the other, then divorced her shortly thereafter. And, of course, the woman who gave birth to his first two children made allegations of battery against him twice, then had to sue to get him to consistently pay even $100/week in child support.

Having read all of this, you should skim back through what Altes professes to believe, then try to figure out how he can say with a straight face that he’s “pro-family” or “pro-life.” It’s one thing to waffle on something minor. It’s another for a candidate’s action to eviscerate the very principles he claims to hold most dear.

At Montana Cowgirl, Cowgirl writes—GOP Honchos: Zinke is Slinky on Abortion:
Cowgirl of Montana logo
It has not been a good week for Ryan Zinke, the former state legislator from Whitefish who is running for Congress.  He is in the midst of a nasty GOP primary and his fellow Republicans are ganging up on him and making life very tough.

It’s good drama, and it could bode well for Jon Lewis if he beats out Jon Driscoll, as I expect he should, for the Democratic primary in the House race.

This week, Zinke was (predictably) criticized by right-wingers, heavily, for having made several votes in favor of women’s medical privacy in his time as state senator. His votes would actually reduce the need for abortion, by improving access to birth control and prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place, but facts don’t matter to his opponents, who would probably outlaw birth control altogether. (He also made many anti-choice votes.)  The state newspapers had two separate articles over the weekend describing Zinke’s mixed abortion position and now, today, a third one has been published.

Yesterday’s piece reported that the Three Amigos–Rick Hill, Ken Miller and John Brenden, all former GOP state chairs–are slamming Zinke for being pro-choice and for having voted on occasion in favor of the environment. They say he is not a true conservative but rather (gasp) a moderate.  Thus in their view Zinke does not pass the conservative purity test that we have often seen applied in GOP primaries.

At Blog for Arizona, AZ BlueMeanie writes—GOP seeks to destroy what remains of McCain-Feingold:
The one remaining restriction of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law is the restriction on “soft money” contributions collected by political parties.

The law “has succeeded in profoundly altering the state of American politics by severely weakening American political parties to the benefit of outside spending groups who may raise and spend unlimited funds in connection with federal elections,” testified election lawyers Neil Reiff, a Democrat, and Donald McGahn, a Republican, before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee last week. Did Soft Money Ban Kill Political Parties? | Rules of the Game.

Jim Bopp, the constitutional lawyer behind the legal strategy which gutted McCain-Feingold in the Supreme Court with Citizens United v. FEC in 2010, is behind the GOP’s latest attempt to destroy what remains of McCain-Feingold. The Washington Moonie Times reports, RNC set to join landmark suit taking on campaign limits: [...]

The lawsuit specifically will ask the courts to allow national and state parties to form super PACs that can raise and spend unlimited amounts on election efforts, something the FEC has prohibited.

“We think this will put the final nail in the coffin of the McCain-Feingold law,” Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere said in an interview.

At Calitics, Brian Leubitz writes—Prop 13's Effects Still Rippling. Bodega Bay and other small fire districts struggle for survival:
Calitics logo
Last night I attended a meeting of the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District. Not normally the type of event that I cover here at Calitics, but beyond some self-interest, it was a fascinating experience. The meeting was attended by embattled Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carillo as well as a host of Sonoma County officials from the City Administrator's office, the Parks Dept, and County fire dept.

The reason for the meeting was pretty simple: the fire district is running out of money. If nothing happens in the next 15 months, crews will be cut from three to two leaving the district incapable of responding to simultaneous incidents. Of course, the money question brings up a series of other questions. First, to clear it out of the way, as far as I can see there has been no issues of any kind of glaring mismanagement. Rather, it is a case of a system set up to fail doing just that.

It wasn't always that way. The fire district is post-Prop 13 district, which is something of an immediate strike one in terms of revenues. But in a county that gets a lot of tourists, it is particularly popular. The tiny hamlet of about 1,000 attracts over 13% of Sonoma County's transient occupancy tax (TOT) and over 4 million visitors per year. Putting aside the issues of collecting that tax, particularly for airbnb and similar services, almost all of the burden for providing fire and ambulance services falls upon local property owners. It is why Bodega Bay has one of the highest parcel taxes for a fire district in the state.

At the meeting last night, many homeowners expressed frustration with the lack of TOT coming back to the community. While there has been varying levels of support over the last few years, next year's budget includes no such support for the district after the district's proposal to replace their aging ambulance was rejected. Given the large number of tourists, and the fact that 57% of calls were for non-residents, many feel they are carrying an outsized burden and subsidizing ambulance protection for the state and county parks in the district.

At Delaware Liberal, Progressive Populist writes—Incarceration Nation:
Delaware Liberal
Something in excess of 2 million of our citizens languish in federal and state prisons and local jails. One telling piece of data suggests that 2 of 3 prisoners will be jailed again in three years post-release. State prison numbers tell us about 53% of convictions are for violent acts, 18.3 % property issues, 16.8% drug convictions and 10.6% public order issues such as illegal weapons. Obviously many crimes involve several of these categories together.

Little Delaware figures prominently in position # 6 for violent crime and # 13 for property charges. Most shocking to me was 86.8 % of Delaware drug convictions involve African Americans. The numbers indicate locally and nationally that drug use rates are comparable between African Americans and Anglo Americans. What’s up here?  I’ll  leave the assessment up to you, dear readers.

Overall, though accounting for 13% of the U.S. population, African Americans comprise about 39% of the prison population; the ratio is similar in Delaware, so no slack is cut here locally. [...]

I would have expected that Democrats have seen the error of their ways in defensively reacting to charges of being “soft on crime” back in the 70′s and 80′s and tolerant of drug use by putting the hammer down on offenders. But I do not see and hear from my fellow Democrats a major embrace of criminal justice reform. We appear to me to be the advocates of the status quo in the criminal justice world, though much of our coalition is severely impacted by injustice in our criminal justice system.

Solutions, anyone?

At My Left Nutmeg, abg22 writes—Deja Vu! CT Dems Platform Drafting Process A Travesty, Just Like in 2010:
Every four years the Connecticut Democratic Party revises its party platform. The new platform is voted on at the state party convention, which takes place this year on May 16 in Hartford.

And every four years there is criticism that the state party is inexplicably ignoring grassroots voices in the platform drafting process, which is supposed to be transparent and include participation from progressive activists who form the base of the party. Did you miss last month's public participation process for revising the platform? If so, you're not alone. It's true that there were five "regional platform hearings" in each of the state's congressional districts—but the hearings were only announced on the state party's website on April 18, and all of them took place less than a week later. And the geographic distribution was distinctly sub-optimal: there was no hearing held in Bridgeport, with the second largest number of enrolled Democrats in the state. There was one held in Torrington but not Waterbury, which has more Democratic voters by a factor of ten.

Or consider this evidence of the Party's priorities: in the last month I received ten e-mails from the CDP, mainly requests for money or annoying reminders about Nancy DiNardo's birthday—but not a single one inviting me to the platform meeting which (supposedly) took place in my town on April 22. Of course it is understandable that the State Central wants to avoid controversy in what will undoubtedly be a perilous re-election campaign for Dan Malloy, the first Democratic governor in Connecticut in more than two decades. It is understandable that party leadership does not want, for example, an uncomfortable debate erupting about platform language surrounding "education reform" or another topic that has the potential of dividing different segments of the Democratic Party. But is a political party that wants money from its grassroots activists, but not their input, going to be successful in the long term?

At Plunderbund of Ohio, Joseph writes—Anti-Union Group Making GOTV Calls For John Barnes, Jr. In Democratic Primary:
Plunderbund blog logo
We just received the audio recording of a GOTV call from Michelle Rhee’s anti-union, anti-teacher, pro-charter school group StudentsFirst.  It appears as though they have a copy of the Ohio voter file, and they are calling voters in Ohio’s 12th State House District in a last-minute push to support State Rep. John Barnes, Jr.

Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization is based in Sacramento, California, but the mailers list a PO Box in Amelia, OH.  According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, StudentsFirst is not an organization registered in Ohio. Either way, Sacramento and Amelia are both very far from Ohio’s 12th House District.

As we reported yesterday, Mr. Barnes has a very unfortunate work history with the City of Cleveland, having been repeatedly reprimanded and ultimately fired for inappropriate behavior, and removed from a director-level position because he was believed to have sexually harassed one of his female employees. But that hasn’t stopped StudentsFirst from promoting Barnes.

Barnes is facing former Pepper Pike Councilwoman Jill Miller Zimon in Tuesday’s Democratic primary which will likely determine who will represent the 12th District starting in 2015. There is no Republican candidate running for that district.

At Texas Kaos, Libby Shaw writes—Wendy Davis Links Greg Abbott to Cancer Institute Scandal:
Wendy Davis implicated Greg Abbott in the CPRIT scandal. As the top cop on the oversight beat at the time, the Attorney General turned a blind eye to the pillaging of public money at CPRIT. Indeed, the Institute awarded generous grants to some of Greg Abbott's donor cronies.

In 2007 Texas voters approved funding for a state run cancer research institute, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The Institute's top priority included research that would result in cures and prevention therapies for most forms of cancer. The Institute hired Nobel Laureate scientists to accomplish the mission.  

But alas in the crony capitalist Republican state of Texas political influences interfered with CPRIT's noble mission. A struggle took place between the goals of the scientists and political appointees who were more interested in commercialization. For them research takes too long and does not generate fast money or instant gratification. Worse, the political appointees intended to play by the rules of the private sector despite the fact the Institute's $3 billion dollars were public funds. Let oversight, vetting and review be damned. Naturally many of the top scientists resigned when they learned an $11 million grant had been awarded without proper review. They soon realized CPRIT would serve as a cash cow for the political appointees.

The Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT, for short) is the most recent to come under fire. Last week, Progress Texas PAC called on the Texas Public Integrity Unit and Travis County District Attorney to investigate the management of CPRIT and Perry's other major funds. Governor Perry was quick to lash out and call the scrutiny the work of "conspiracy theorists"—but only hours later, news broke that CPRIT awarded an $11 million grant contract without the required review. At the end of the week, it was discovered that CPRIT e-mails about the questionable contract were missing, prompting further calls for investigations. This is the latest in an ongoing scandal that has involved Nobel Laureates quitting and scores of staff resignations.
As the state's Attorney General Greg Abbott served on CPRIT's oversight board. He was the top cop in charge. But did Greg Abbott do anything to punish those who awarded grants without proper review? Of course he didn't.
At blue nc, NCCADP writes—Perfect death penalty still out of reach:
North Carolina is still miles away from creating a fair and just capital punishment system, a new report shows.

Today, The Constitution Project’s Death Penalty Committee—a bi-partisan group that includes judges, prosecutors, and elected leaders—issued 39 recommendations that address systemic flaws in the administration of the death penalty.

The committee includes death penalty supporters and opponents from both political parties, and its members agree that these reforms are necessary to ensure that innocent people are not executed and that capital punishment is reserved for only the worst crimes.

Despite decades of efforts to reform North Carolina’s death penalty, we still run afoul of many of the committee’s recommendations. Here are just a few examples:

North Carolina still sentences people to death based on the felony murder rule, which means that you don’t actually have to kill anyone to end up on death row. For example, one of N.C.’s death row inmates wasn’t even present when the victim was killed. The committee says such defendants should not be eligible for execution.

The committee calls for stringent federal accreditation standards for state crime labs, which analyze the evidence that sends people to death row. Right now, North Carolina’s lab, like many other states, is accredited by an independent organization that has failed to prevent major mistakes and scandals.

North Carolina’s death row is home to several inmates who were severely mentally ill at the time of their crimes. The committee says that people with “significant mental impairments” should not receive the death penalty.

The reality is, no amount of reform will ever make our capital punishment system fair and error-free. It is run by human beings, so it will always make mistakes and reflect society’s biases and blind spots.

At Nevada Progressive, atdnext writes—Who's the "Good Guy With a Gun"?
No one can say we didn't sound the alarms. When Sharron Angle first mentioned "Second Amendment Remedies," our ears perked. And not for any good reason. We could read between the lines.

And frankly, it wasn't that hard to do so. She tried walking her comments back, but only out of political damage control. She never acknowledged the danger lurking within those words.

In recent days, we've seen "Second Amendment Remedies" return to center stage. Most notably, we've witnessed Cliven Bundy and his gang of "outlaw cowboys" declare a "Range War" against the federal government for daring to enforce the law.

Last month, we were introduced to Richard Mack, the ex-Sheriff from Arizona who's best known for his ties to the xenophobic and incredibly anti-government "Patriot Movement". When Mack took a leadership position at #BundyRanch, we knew this was going to turn violent... And racist.

Now, we're finding out about another key player at #BundyRanch. His name is Brad Rogers. He's the current Sheriff of Elkhart County, Indiana. And he actually took time off his actual job last month to fly into #BundyRanch and sing the praises of Posse Comitatus.

Before wading into #BundyRanch, Rogers was (in)famous for being schooled on actual Constitutional law on national TV. Perhaps that's why he made the pilgrimage to Bunkerville? He just needed a "meeting of the minds" with famed "Constitutional law expert" Cliven Bundy?

Whatever the case, we find it quite ironic that someone who's charged with enforcing the law has been endorsing outright violation of the law instead. And he flew into town all the way from Elkhart County, Indiana, to do so.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site