At South Dakota Madville Times, caheidelberger writes—No Permit, No Pipeline: Time for Candidates to Speak up on TransCanada PUC Re-App:Okay, so you would think that a person has a right to know where businesses are storing dangerous chemicals. It seems like there ought to be some public information laws about that. However, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is blocking that information from the public.
Abbott says nope, you cannot see that information. But he has a solution.
“You know where they are if you drive around,” Abbott told reporters Tuesday. “You can ask every facility whether or not they have chemicals or not. You can ask them if they do, and they can tell you, well we do have chemicals or we don’t have chemicals, and if they do, they tell which ones they have.”
No. I. Am. Not. Kidding. [...]
So, I’m supposed to drive around my neighborhood, my kids’ schools, my job, the city swimming pool, my church, and where I grocery shop, and knock on the door of some business and ask if they have dangerous chemicals there. One by one.
Seriously. He believes that. Because you can trust Big Bad Johnny’s Pool Cleaning, Fertilizer, and Whatnot, Inc. to tell you the damn truth. “Yes, ma’am, we got some nuclear stuff out back in rotting containers.”
No, no, he really, really said that.
You can find more excerpts from progressive state blogs below the orange gerrymander.Happy Canada Day! I'm headed across the border to celebrate with America's nicest neighbors right now. But I'll be watching for Canadian friends who would share the celebratory sentiments of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, which feasted on roast bison this weekend to celebrate the expiration of TransCanada's permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline across West River South Dakota.
"No Permit, No Pipeline!" We can certainly hope so. To pump more of its tar sands through our fair state, TransCanada must now go through another application process with the Public Utilities Commission. That means the Cowboy and Indian Alliance can exert pressure on Public Utilities Commissioner Gary Hanson, who is up for re-election. Democratic challenger David Allen can turn up that pressure, asking South Dakotans to ask Commissioner Hanson why South Dakota support a pipeline that damages South Dakota's and the nation's long-term interests. Constitution Party PUC candidate Wayne Schmidt can jump in and ask South Dakotans why the PUC should approve a project built by a private foreign corporation exerting eminent domain on South Dakota property owners. (And hey, be bold, guys! Rick Weiland will back you up!)
I love Canada, but TransCanada can jump in a lake ... or better yet, jump back from our lakes and streams and pastures.
At Keystone, Jon Geeting writes—Loosening Street Food Regulations Helps Poor People:
At The Prairie Blog of North Dakota, Jim Fuglie writes—You Can’t Mitigate Greed:Food trucks have acquired something of a yuppie brand in recent years, because yuppies like to buy the food, but on the business owner side mobile food vending is anything but a yuppie pursuit. It’s really hard work!
Policymakers need to understand the mobile vending phenomenon as a bridge between establishing some cooking skills at home and establishing a full-service restaurant. The food truck or cart or bike entails less overhead than a traditional restaurant, so it’s easier for a person with a good family recipe and some hustle to get a business off the ground with less capital than would be required to start a traditional storefront restaurant.
As such, designing your city regulations to promote mobile vending helps the people in your community who don’t have great access to traditional sources of capital start businesses. Many local officials with otherwise progressive views on state and national issues sometimes get it in their heads that the progressive thing to do is block or dull competition between street food vendors and traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, in response to whining from those traditional businesses, but there’s nothing progressive about that. Food trucks and carts are just as clean as, if not cleaner than, traditional restaurants and don’t need the superfluous health regulations that incumbent restaurant owners often recommend for them.
At Plunderbund of Ohio, Joseph writes—No Criteria, Lots Of Cash: DeWine Bid Process A Perfect Model Of Pay To Play:Mitigation. There’s a word that draws mixed reaction.
Most dictionaries generally define mitigation as “the act of making a condition or consequence less severe, the process of becoming milder or gentler.”
It’s a word we didn’t much find in common usage in North Dakota until the 1970s, when the Garrison Diversion project surfaced. That project would have destroyed tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of acres of wildlife habitat, and the state of North Dakota and the federal government agreed to a mitigation plan to replace that habitat. The project was never completed. Even mitigation could not justify a really bad idea.
Today, it’s a pretty familiar word here. Our on-the-ground definition of mitigation is “if you screw something up over here, you better do something nice over there to replace it.” Most recently it has come into play as a requirement of a new North Dakota Industrial Commission policy designed to offer some measure of protection to critical wildlife habitat, or scenic, recreational or historic areas near proposed oil development sites. Note I said “designed.” Not “implemented.”
At Blog for Arizona, AZ BlueMeanie writes—Hobby Lobby is a radical departure from religious exercise jurisprudence:The AP released a huge story on the unfolding DeWine pay to play scandal yesterday, revealing that the Ohio Attorney General’s office has no documented process for selecting law firms for lucrative special counsel contracts for securities fraud cases.
DeWineFaceDeWine’s Chief Legal Aide Mary Mertz told the AP that the office had decided to forgo to traditional process of using “judging forms and scoring sheets” in favor of having “top staffers” review the firms and then share their recommendations with DeWine verbally. As a result, there are almost no public records available showing how the firms were selected. “A public records request by the AP turned up no judges’ notes, scoring sheets, email exchanges on firms’ qualifications or recommendations made to DeWine,” writes the AP.
Plunderbund also investigated the selection process for special counsel firms last May and ran into the same surprising results.
At My Left Nutmeg, ctblogger writes—The five conservative activist Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that the legal fiction of a corporation, albeit a closely held corporation, possesses religious liberty rights (free exercise), and therefore may “freeload” off of taxpayers by refusing to pay the corporation’s cost of providing for contraceptive coverage offered in its employer provided health care plan, because the board of directors of this closely held corporation hold a deeply personal religious objection to contraceptives.
The Founding Fathers clearly understood and intended that the rights and liberties afforded by the Bill of Rights were individual rights and liberties of citizens. The Founders were wary of the power of corporations, hence the term “corporation” appears nowhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Corporations were of limited duration, and chartered by the states.
What the conservative activist Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court did today is a radical departure from long-standing free exercise jurisprudence. They engaged in legislating from the bench their own language into the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to give the act a meaning never intended by Congress (see Ginsburg dissent).
News Flash: Malloy/Pryor hand another top job to an Achievement First Inc. staffer:
At Rural and Progressive of Georgia, Katherine Helms Cummings writes—Bring your library card and your gun:The Malloy administration has given the one-hundred thousand-dollar-a-year-plus job of "Bureau Chief for District and School Transformation" to William (Billy) Johnson, a former employee of Achievement First Inc.
Of course, Achievement First, Inc. being the large charter school management company that was co-founded by Stefan Pryor, Malloy's Education Commissioner. The company now operates charter schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island and has been the largest beneficiary of Malloy's effort to shovel funds to the charter school industry.
The new "Bureau Chief" will report to Morgan Barth, the State Department of Education's 'Division Director." Before getting his lucrative management job in the Malloy administration, Barth also worked for Achievement First, Inc.
And Barth reports to Malloy's Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor. Not only did Pryor play a key role in the creation of Achievement First, Inc., but he served on its Board of Directors until he resigned to become Malloy's "education reform" point-person.
The timing of this hand-out to another Achievement First Inc. employee is particularly noteworthy since it takes place at the very moment that Governor Dannel "Dan" Malloy and Commissioner Pryor are circling the wagons in an attempt to deny any responsibility for the Jumoke Academy/FUSE Charter School Management Company debacle of the past few weeks.
At The Policy Matters Blog at the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, Deenaeus Polk writes—Is Mississippi Providing the Financial Resources For Traditional and Non-Traditional Students Alike?Georgia’s Guns Everywhere law went into effect at 12:01 this morning. A few weeks ago I made some calls to businesses I frequent to find out if they would allow guns beginning today. A coffee shop I really like reacted like I was making a prank call. I doubled back today. They were honest and said they just didn’t know much about it, but would hustle now and get an answer back to me. They serve beer and wine, so they can’t stay on the fence on this one.
Alcohol and guns didn’t mix in Georgia, until now. Guns Everywhere means patrons at any guns and alcoholestablishment serving alcohol can bring a gun in, unless the business posts a sign telling patrons they can’t bring a gun in.
As of midnight last night, the Rosa M Tarbutton Memorial Library, a beautiful library in Washington County used by everyone in the community, will have to allow guns in the building. My county, like many others, can’t afford the additional security staff or detectors required to keep guns out of the building. All the county buildings in my community, with the exception of the courthouse, where they are adding additional staff for security, will have to allow citizens to bring guns inside.
At ColoradoPols, catpuzzle writes—Could Xcel’s Aggressive Attacks on Solar Backfire?:Financial aid is a pivotal factor as to whether a person decides to pursue a post-secondary credential and a major contributing factor towards whether or not a person is able to finish their college degree. With a high number of college enrollees coming from low-income families, in most cases students are unable to afford the expensive costs and subsequently have to drop out or take out significant amount of loan debt. Many of these students are making the grad0629DIVIDE-articleInlinee, but can’t afford the expense of pursuing higher education. Mississippi simply cannot afford to keep losing these students.
Mississippi’s financial aid system does not do all it can to provide equitable access for both traditional and non-traditional students. Its problems revolve around the availability of need-based financial aid. A very low portion of our state-based financial aid is allocated on the basis of need when compared to other states. Mississippi only allocates 15 cents of every financial aid dollar on the basis of need, while other states designate 71 cents per financial aid dollar.
One in three children in Mississippi grows up in poverty, yet there is only one need-based state grant. The Higher Education Legislative Plan (HELP) supports academically high-performing, low-income students in paying for the cost of higher education. There are several administrative barriers in place that keeps students from applying, chief of which is an earlier deadline in March, while other state-based grants have a deadline in September. Most schools do not know about the HELP Grant and cannot communicate it to their students. By the time students find out about the grant, it is often too late.
At Michigan Liberal, Eric B writes—Governor says maggotty food for prisoners not acceptable:I posted two weeks ago about the next step in the fight over municipalization in Boulder, as Xcel sought to sue and forcibly keep customers who just wanted to be rid of them. I just read this article about another element of the battle, and it got me thinking:After failing to get enough votes in either of two municipal referendums to stop the formation of Boulder’s proposed muni, Xcel filed a lawsuit in Boulder District Court earlier this month to block the muni formally created by a unanimous Boulder City Council vote May 6.When things went to voters in Boulder, Xcel lost. Badly. Twice. And it’s not the first time that Xcel has lost big when its issue went before the voters. In 2004, for example, Colorado passed our Renewable Portfolio Standard. We were the first in the nation to do it via ballot initiative. That’s important, because it circumvented all of the money and power Xcel has cultivated in the legislature. And that’s a lot of money and power. For example, this list from FollowTheMoney shows Xcel paying TWELVE lobbyists in 2012 alone:
At RI Future.org, Steven Brown writes—20+ community groups urge veto of ‘criminal street gang’ bill:A man of such steely resolve his spine is made entirely of empty sausage casing.“We need to get these things resolved,” Snyder told the Associated Press at an event in Lansing Tuesday, calling the issue unacceptable. He wouldn’t speculate on whether Aramark’s contract is at risk, but said his administration is moving closer to having to make a decision.He's talking of the recent discovery of flies and maggots near a prison serving line run by Aramark, the same company whose efficient management of food operations led to at least one prison riot and complaints from prison officials that the company was making unauthorized menu substitutions.
I realize these people have been found guilty, either by a jury or a legal system that pressured them into taking a deal because no one is terribly interested in knowing whether poor people accused of crimes have in fact done anything wrong, which means it's okay to treat them like shit, but can we at least think of the prison guards whose jobs are made more dangerous by mistreating convicts.
On the last day of the 2014 legislative session, the General Assembly approved legislation that could place at-risk youth in prison for more than a decade–for a crime as simple as graffiti. The legislation (H-7457 as amended and S-2639 as amended) allows up to 10 additional years on the sentence of anyone convicted of any felony “knowingly committed for the benefit, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang or criminal street gang member.”
More than 20 community groups, including the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, Providence Youth Student Movement, and the Rhode Island Civil Rights Roundtable, have come together to urge Governor Chafee to veto this dangerous legislation.
In a letter to Governor Chafee, the groups note that this legislation offers an overly broad definition of “criminal street gangs,” does not differentiate between a “gang” that engages in occasional random acts of vandalism and one that has been involved in murders and other serious felonies, and will likely target at-risk youth who have made a mistake.