Beaver County Blue

Progressive Democrats of America – PA 12th CD Chapter

PA 12th Congressional District in Contention

Posted by randyshannon on July 17, 2017

Pittsburgh City Paper

 FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2017

Democrats have a rural problem in Southwestern Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional district

Posted By  on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 2:52 PM

CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO

  • CP photo by Ryan Deto

On July 12, a group of left-leaning protesters rallied outside of U.S. Congressman Keith Rothfus’ (R-Sewickley) office in Ross Township. They were some 15 members strong, and they hooted and hollered for an hour, expressing displeasure with their representative for failing to hold a town halland his support of the Republicans’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We are here to keep the momentum going and show how [Rothfus] is not representing us,” said Michelle Raab of PA 12 Progressives, the group that organized the protest.

PA 12 Progressives has been demonstrating outside of Rothfus’ North Hills office every Wednesday for months and has even started to attract Republican counter-protesters. On July 12, three counter-protesters held signs reading “Drain the Swamp” and “Support Trump,” but they were overwhelmed by the energy coming from the PA 12 progressives, who even had a truck clad in protest signs drive by every few minutes to garner more attention.

While the group’s energy in suburban Allegheny County is starting to shift the traditionally Republican area’s support from red to blue, it’s the fight outside of suburbia that Rothfus opponents may want to focus more energy on.

When Rothfus won re-election in 2014, he received 60 percent of the vote in the Allegheny County section of his district, which includes wealthy northern Pittsburgh suburbs like Fox Chapel, Franklin Park and Pine Township. In 2016, he received 59 percent. While modest, this shift fits into the nationwide trend of upper-income suburban areas increasing their support for Democrats.

But outside of Allegheny County, Rothfus has been increasing his support which could render any suburban shift moot. The 12th District includes parts of six Southwestern Pennsylvania counties, stretching from Ellwood City to Somerset. Every county in the 12th District outside of Allegheny has become more Republican since Rothfus took office, but none as much as the Cambria County section.

In 2012, Rothfus lost the Cambria County section to former Rep. Mark Critz (D-Johnstown), only receiving 37 percent of the vote there, even though he won the district that year. In 2014, Rothfus won Cambria County with 56 percent of the vote against Democratic challenger Erin McClelland, and in 2016, increased his Cambria County margin receiving 65 percent of the vote. In just four years, Rothfus gained more than 27 percentage points against Democratic rivals and swung Cambria County from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican.

Mary Lou Davis, of the liberal-leaning, grassroots group Indivisible Johnstown, says this shift will make flipping the 12th District a difficult task. “We are as red as we can get right now,” she says.

Davis explains that Cambria County was never “quite as liberal” as Pennsylvania Democratic strongholds, like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, even though it remained in Democratic control under former Rep. John Murtha (D-Johnstown) and Critz for 39 years. She says some culturally conservative values, like pro-life stances and gun rights, have always remained important to many Cambria voters.

And while Indivisible Johnstown is not a proponent of those culturally conservative values, Davis does feel a focus on the rural parts of the 12th District would be most effective in getting a Democrat elected.

“I think the messaging needs to sway the Cambria County voters more than the Allegheny voters,” says Davis.

She says this is crucial because unlike other gerrymandered, suburban/rural Pennsylvania districts, the 12th district is still gaining Republican votes. For example, in Pennsylvania’s 7th District, which stretches from suburban Philadelphia to Berks County and has been mocked for looking like Donald Duck kicking Goofy, Democrats actually gained two percentage points from 2014 to 2016. But in the 12th District, Republicans gained 5 percentage points, even as the Allegheny County portion (the most suburban part of the district) became slightly more Democratic.

“The Democrats had put out a target list of flippable seats, most of those were moderate,” says Davis of a list release in January targeting 59 Republican-held U.S. House seats. “But we have a situation here [in the 12th District], and it is going to be extremely hard to flip this.”

Meanwhile, Rothfus appears to know his support in Cambria County and adjacent Somerset County (which has increased its support of Rothfus by 22 percentage points up to 76 percent of the vote since 2012) is important. Since being re-elected in November 2016, Rothfus has penned three op-eds in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, which covers Cambria and Somerset counties; during this same time, he he has only co-written one in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, while providing none to TribLive.com or the Beaver County Times.

On top of this, Davis says providing messaging for a strong Democratic candidate won’t be easy. With President Donald Trump and Rothfus remaining popular in the region, she says Democrats will have to offer an especially strong counter-narrative to persuade area residents to vote Democrat.

Tom Prigg (D-McCandless), a candidate for the 12th District, has discussed the importance of messaging to rural voters and has received coverage from the Tribune-Democrat. Another candidate, Aaron Anthony (D-Shaler), was featured in Somerset’s The Daily American, but candidate Beth Tarasi, of Sewickley, has yet to receive any coverage in Cambria and Somerset counties.

Davis is hopeful that Rothfus’ challenges will get more coverage over time, and says Indivisible Johnstown is hosting a candidate forum on Aug. 8, so area residents can meet the Democratic candidates.

“This might be the first time the names and faces of the candidates running against Rothfus are out there,” says Davis.

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A Closer Look at Climate Accord–and Our Congressman

Posted by carldavidson on July 16, 2017

wind-coal

By Tom Prigg
TribLive Op-Ed

July 14, 2017 – This is in response to Keith Rothfus’ recent op-ed, “A better ‘climate’ for America,” and honestly, it’s difficult to know where to begin.

In reference to the Paris accord, Rothfus claimed, “The American people would never approve of a deal so harmful to their security and prosperity.”

Yet, as The Atlantic reported, 70 percent of Americans want the United States to remain in the Paris accord.

Rothfus argued that during the 2014 polar vortex, natural gas failed to provide energy to capacity while coal and nuclear energy did just fine.

However, PJM Vice President Craig Glazer stated at the time that coal generation was stymied by “frozen coal or wet coal, frozen limestone, frozen condensate lines, frozen fly ash transfer equipment, cooling tower basin freezing, and freezing of injection water systems for emissions control equipment.”

Rothfus suggest the coal industry’s recent woes are due to President Obama’s policies. While some policies may have affected the coal industry output, the real driving force has been its own market forces.

Charles Bayless, former chief executive of Tucson Electric Co. and Illinois Power, said, “A gas plant is much cheaper to build than a coal plant and it is much simpler to run.”

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Despite Trump, State Progressives Advance Pro-Worker Policies

Posted by carldavidson on July 11, 2017

trump-mouth

While the president goes on the attack, Democratic-controlled states and municipalities forge ahead

By Justin Miller
American Propect

July 11, 2017 – In the face of the Trump administration’s predictably antagonistic stance on pro-worker policies, coupled with the escalating onslaught against worker power in Republican-controlled states, progressives are racing ahead to enact innovative labor laws to help working people in the places where they can.

Over the past eight years, Democrats’ control of government has receded to 1920s-levels, severely hindering progressives’ ability to advance pro-worker labor policy in Washington, D.C., or in the states. As of now, the Democratic Party controls the governorship and legislature in just six states, while progressive power is most concentrated in a few dozen municipalities.

It’s in those places in recent weeks that lawmakers have pushed forward a number of innovative labor laws that present a clear contrast to the Chamber of Commerce-influenced, deregulation-driven labor agenda in the White House.
Improving Home Care

Last week, Hawaii passed a law establishing a cash assistance program for people who are struggling to take care of a sick or elderly family member while maintaining a full-time job. The policy, the first of its kind in the country, takes aim at the increasingly urgent elder care crisis as the massive boomer generation ages and their children struggle to care for them.

“Every eight seconds, somebody turns 65 in America,” Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations, a group that advocates for policies that improve home care, said on a call with reporters Monday. “It’s a great thing; we’ve extended longevity. And we are wholly unprepared for what the implications are in terms of care.”

Fully half of the workforce will be called on to provide care for an elder within the next five years, the group says. And that’s not a small commitment. Of the 45 million people who currently provide some level of unpaid home care to a relative, more than half are spending about 20 hours a week while also holding down a full-time job.

The Kapuna (the Hawaiian word for elder) Caregiver program would establish a fund to provide full-time workers who are providing care to a dependent elder $70 a day to help offset the burden. A recipient could use that money to help pay for health care, a caregiver, or transportation to a doctor’s appointment.

There are more than 150,000 unpaid caregivers in Hawaii currently, according to estimates by the AARP. And while in-home care or assisted living is expensive, costing between $5,000 and $10,000 a month in the state, the $70-a-day benefit is a small step to helping caregivers balance their lives.

The legislature has provided an initial $600,000 for the program and advocates say they will return to the statehouse next year to bolster funding. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in elections, health care, Organizing, safety net, Seniors | Leave a Comment »

Trump Offers Fool’s Gold to Fund Infrastructure

Posted by carldavidson on June 10, 2017

Leo W. Gerard By Leo W. Gerard

USW International President

Via USW Blog

June 9, 2017 – Donald Trump surrounds himself in gold. The signs on Trump buildings shimmer in it. His penthouse in New York is gilded in it.

He claims now to have found the alchemy to conjure $1 trillion in infrastructure gold. He plans to put up a mere $200 billion in federal funds and stir it together with $800 billion in private investment and state dollars.

That is fool’s gold. A falsely-funded infrastructure program is a massive broken promise. America needs real improvements to roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, airports, water systems and railways. That requires a commitment of real tax dollars, not the relinquishment of America’s public assets to profit-seeking private Wall Street entities. Americans should not be charged twice for maintenance of the public good, once through tax breaks to investors and again in outrageous tolls and fees the investors charge.

On Wednesday, standing on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Trump reiterated the pledge he made repeatedly on the campaign trail to put $1 trillion into infrastructure. He said “restoring America” is a promise that Washington, D.C., has broken. “It has not been kept, but we are going to keep it,” he said.

“Taxpayers deserve the best results for their investment,” he said, “and I will be sure that is what they get.” But the plan to turn over public assets to private corporations for tax-supported investment is gold only for the 1 percent who can afford to invest.

The Wall Street Journal reported last fall that to raise the private funds, Trump planned to give massive tax breaks of 82 percent of equity to investors that help pay for infrastructure repair. For citizens, that’s a crappy deal – giving Wall Street control over public assets in addition to being forced to fork over the taxes that rich investors will not pay.

That financial alchemy creates poison, not gold.

In addition, there is no profit in many types of infrastructure that need repair, like schools and hospitals. A corporation can’t collect tolls from children entering their elementary school each morning.

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Posted in Economy, Infrastructure, Tax Policy | Leave a Comment »

Pennsylvania Aims to Smooth Ex-Convicts’ Path to Employment

Posted by carldavidson on May 28, 2017

excon-job-fair-_greggBy

Ex-offenders at Philly jobs fair

Michael Walton
Tribune Review Live

May 27, 2017 – State officials and community groups are trying to reduce employment hurdles for Pennsylvania’s former convicts, but finding work remains a struggle for ex-prisoners long after their release from incarceration.

Starting July 1, state agencies will no longer ask job candidates about criminal convictions as part of employment applications. The move mirrors similar “ban the box” initiatives gaining popularity across the country.

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have similar fair-chance hiring practices enshrined in city ordinances. And while such initiatives don’t forbid candidate criminal background checks, they can give job seekers a chance to make their case to employers instead of being automatically weeded out of a candidate pool.

“Process matters,” said Beth Avery, a staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project. “If (an employer) knows from step one that a person has a record, that’s going to color their interaction. … It’s going to affect their assessment of a person.”

Nearly 20,000 inmates were released from Pennsylvania prisons in 2016, according to the Department of Corrections. Almost 17,000 were paroled, while 3,000 were released after completing their sentences.

Former convicts looking for work can do a few things to try to make the search easier, according to a report by Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. They can try to persuade employers to seek bonds against an often-perceived risk of theft. They can try to enforce a state law that allows employers to consider felony or misdemeanor convictions “only to the extent to which they relate to the applicant’s suitability for employment,” though that often requires a lawsuit.

They also can try to clean up their criminal records through expungements or pardons, although those options are limited in Pennsylvania.

“Most likely, they do not know of or cannot utilize any of these options, and their only alternatives are long, dogged and often repetitive job searches, work in the underground economy or a return to committing crimes,” the report states.

Michael Tedesco, 60, served seven months in prison and five years on probation following his 1990 guilty plea in a Penn Hills cocaine trafficking case. President Barack Obama pardoned the Murrysville businessman. Read the rest of this entry »

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There Is a Plan to Fix Infrastructure. But It’s Just Not Trump’s

Posted by carldavidson on May 27, 2017

By Liz Ryan Murray, Ben Ishibashi

Ourfuture.org

May 25, 2017 – There’s broad agreement across our country, and across party lines, that we need more good jobs and that we need to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

But that’s where the agreement ends. The answers to how we do that, what we build, where we build and who gets the jobs couldn’t be more different.

One plan will move us backwards – deepening the climate crisis, income and wealth inequality, make our neighborhoods more toxic and more vulnerable.

The other takes on the challenges of a warming planet and toxic neighborhoods head on by investing in repairing and replacing deteriorating infrastructure. This creates good, living wage jobs communities where they’re needed most and empowers our communities to build the new green, climate-change ready and just economy that finally works for all of us, not just the wealthy few.

At its core, the fight over how we deal with infrastructure is about environmental justice. It is about whether or not black and brown people, Native people and working class people of all races have the same right to clean air, clean water, well-maintained neighborhoods and a livable climate as the one percent.

This week, Trump put out an anti-people, anti-planet budget plan that shows us what his answer to that question is. Trump and his friends on Wall Street and the energy companies are crafting an infrastructure plan that will:

    Give taxpayer dollars to corporations to build privately owned toll-roads in wealthy suburbs and cities.

    Sell off our airports and let corporations charge us more fees to use them.

    Sell off our water and energy utilities and loosen regulations on safety, making a bad situation worse.

    Sell our public parks to oil companies to drill and then let them build more pipelines through sacred lands.

    Gut the rules on environmental protections and those that require a living wage for workers.

The Trump infrastructure bill is an attack on our lives, our communities, our future and our planet. We can either let him do this to us or we can stand up and fight back for our lives, our people and our environment. We know what our choice will be.

We at People’s Action have a much different plan. Working with directly impacted communities across the country from Rust Belt cities, to small farms, to the Big Apple, to Indian Country, we’ve created a People and Planet First vision of what it means to really fix our infrastructure.

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Local Peace Organizations Hold Discussion at CCBC

Posted by carldavidson on April 26, 2017

 

Michael McPhearson, Vets for Peace, at BCCC

By: Christina Sheleheda

Beaver County Times

April 24, 2017, MONACA — For national peace activist Kevin Martin, the current state of our country can be best described with one word: Resolute.

Martin, along with Michael McPhearson, national executive director of Veterans for Peace; and Nancy O’Leary, president of the Beaver County Peace Links, hosted Prospects of War, the Need for Peace, Saturday at the Community College of Beaver County’s Health Sciences Center.

Presenting to a group of about 50 people, Martin, who currently serves as the national president for Peace Action, kicked off the event, which was hosted by the Beaver County Peace Links. He asked the audience to say how they felt regarding the current administration.

“Scared.”

“Disappointed.”

“Hopeful.”

Having devoted over 30 years to peace activism, Martin believes the election simply drove a deeper wedge into an already divided country.

“We were divided before the election,” Martin said. “The contradictions of election are fascinating to me.”

Martin explained that three “evils” that have been discussed for decades – racism, militarism and economic exploitation – were first cited in Dr. Martin Luther King’s April 4, 1967 speech.

“My assertion,” Martin said, “is that militarism is the one that’s the worst of our society.”

Militarism is defined as “the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests.”

“Progressives often link all struggles together. They list every progressive struggle, but won’t list peace and anti-war discernment, and I have a real problem with that,” Martin said. “We are not going to win if we don’t overcome militarism. That’s where all of our money goes. Not to economic or social justice issues, and certainly not to the environment,” Martin said.

Martin, who grew up in Lancaster, Pa., had both his father and uncle serve in the United States Air Force. He does not believe opposing militarism correlates with being anti-American.

“If you understand militarism as a problem, weapons, nuclear bombs, etc., that is separate from members of our military. [Militarism] has nothing to do with individuals in the military; their service is incredible. I believe that forced patriotism is coercive,” Martin said.

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Going Solar in West Virginia

Posted by carldavidson on April 15, 2017

It’s an uphill struggle, but solar entrepreneurs have begun building the state’s post-coal future.

By Manuel Madrid

American Prospect

April 14, 2017 – Former Congressman Tom Perriello makes the case for why he’s got the “insider pragmatism and outsider populism” to win Virginia’s gubernatorial race.

The only reminder Robert Atkins has of his coal days are a hardhat and a heart-shaped scar on his right hand, a souvenir from a voltage explosion in the mines.

Starting right out of high school with a shovel and sledgehammer, Atkins was pulling down a six-figure income by the time he was 23, working 70-hour weeks in the mines as an underground electrician. He didn’t imagine that in just four years he’d be laid off, with a newborn daughter to take care of. Much less that soon after, he’d be a crew chief overseeing solar panel installations.

“If you’d told me I’d be working in solar, I would’ve never believed you,” Atkins says. “I always thought I’d bounce from coal job to coal job until all the mines closed and I had to leave.”

Atkins is one of a small but growing number of West Virginians who’ve said goodbye to coal mining and who’ve staked their future on an industry still distinctly out of place in the state: solar power. West Virginia’s government makes no major investments in commercial solar companies, and offers no tax credits or rebates to residents who install solar panels on their homes. Indeed, state legislators have actively blocked efforts to expand the renewable energy industry. In West Virginia, where Donald Trump, promising to revive mining by slashing regulations, beat Hillary Clinton by more than 40 percentage points, coal remains king.

But Atkins and his colleagues in the nascent renewable energy industry have made a bet that the golden days of coal, hammered by both automation and the boom in natural gas, are gone. They now work for Solar Holler, a Shepherdstown-based venture firm that crowdfunds residential solar installations through an innovative community rebate program. Solar Holler invites supporters to install energy-efficient devices in their homes for free. Instead of keeping the rebates they’d receive for the energy saved, homeowners direct the proceeds toward solar panels and installations on other buildings. This recycling of funds has enabled nonprofits, homes, and businesses to go solar, some for the price of an LED light bulb.

(Photo: Coalfield Development Corporation)

Solar panel installation in Wayne, West Virginia, in 2016

It’s taken awhile to get Solar Holler off the ground. So far, crowdfunding has produced nearly 80 kilowatts of solar energy across West Virginia, enough to power only ten homes—but the company is rapidly expanding. In 2017, Solar Holler expects to install a minimum of 750 kilowatts, equal to nearly a sixth of the state’s currently installed capacity. The company’s model is changing the way people think about solar and has played a part in gradually expanding West Virginia’s solar infrastructure. The surge in demand following Solar Holler’s first major project, a 60-panel installation in Shepherdstown, overwhelmed the limited manpower of installers statewide. Since then, the number of solar companies in West Virginia has grown steadily, from 15 solar companies in 2014, to 26 in 2015.

The driving force behind Solar Holler is Dan Conant, a Jefferson County native with a master’s degree in energy policy from Johns Hopkins, who founded the company in 2013. Conant isn’t just bringing sustainable energy to West Virginia. He’s now helping bring jobs to out-of-work coal miners. Solar Holler had a watershed moment in 2015 when it decided to create the state’s first solar training program in partnership with the Coalfield Development Corporation, a community organization that helps low-income West Virginians in the state’s southern region find jobs and affordable housing.

Since 2012, Coalfield, led by executive director Brandon Dennison, has been offering full-time construction work and training in specialized fields to laid-off miners. The organization’s first foray into solar came as an addition to one of their construction projects, and demands for installations began to balloon soon after. It was around the time that Dennison realized he was onto something big that he got a call from Conant. They struck a deal. Solar Holler would find projects and take care of logistics through crowdfunding, and Coalfield would retrain miners and provide the installation crews.

Denison dubbed the new program ReWire Appalachia. Expanding job training into the solar energy industry, he says, was strictly a market decision. The ReWire crew led by Robert Atkins started with four people, and now boasts a dozen workers.

“Coal miners are smart people,” says Dennison. “It’s important for the country to understand: They make use of hi-tech, sophisticated equipment to do their jobs. They have incredible skill sets to build off of.”

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Fight for 15 and Black Lives Matter Join Forces on Anniversary of MLK’s Death

Posted by carldavidson on April 4, 2017

Christopher Smith, right, leads chants during a protest for higher wages for fast food workers outside a McDonald’s in Memphis, Tenn., Thursday, April 14, 2016.

Forty-nine years after King was assassinated, the left’s organizing vanguards seek to continue his work. 

By Justin Miller

American Prospect

April 4, 2017 – On the April 4, 1968, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had come to support the city’s striking sanitation workers, virtually all of them African American. The workers were embroiled in a heated labor dispute with the city government over low wages, dangerous working conditions, and its unyielding opposition to recognizing their union.

Forty-nine years later, much has changed, yet much more has stayed the same. Despite landmark advancements in civil rights, black Americans still face staggering levels of systemic social and economic inequities and rampant state-sanctioned violence and discrimination. Black men are three times more likely to be killed by police than white men, and are incarcerated at a rate five times higher than white men. Meanwhile, black men make 22 percent less in wages compared with white men who live in the same areas, with the same levels of education and work experience. Black women make 11.6 percent less than their white counterparts. On average, white households hold 16 times the wealth of black households. Today, 54 percent of African American workers make less than $15 an hour.

And 49 years later, black activists are still leading large-scale movements to address these injustices. On the anniversary of King’s assassination, Fight for 15 workers and Black Lives Matter activists—many already involved in both movements—are joining together for a series of protests across the country to elevate their intersecting demands for racial justice and economic justice. The actions today not only seek to emphasize and build upon African Americans’ inextricable and intertwined struggle for both civil rights and economic justice of the 1960s, but create a broader front of intersectional progressive power to face off against the Trump administration’s attempt to roll back both.

Activists in 24 cities will be mounting demonstrations and teach-ins under the banner of “Fight Racism, Raise Pay.” They plan to call attention to the systematic targeting of communities of color—ranging from abusive local police departments that harass people of color, to Republicans in the states advancing anti-protest legislation in response to Black Lives Matter and Fight for 15 while at the same time stifling local minimum-wage hikes through state legislation. Activists will also call out the Trump administration for advancing an anti-worker agenda, supporting voter suppression, and threatening immigrant communities.

“Our two movements have a common bond in fighting the racism that keeps down people of color everywhere,” said Latierika Blair, a 23-year-old McDonald’s worker in Memphis, in a statement.

The actions center on Memphis, Tennessee, where thousands of workers, activists, and civil rights leaders will march to and hold a memorial outside the Lorraine Motel. In the mid-South city, Fight for 15 activists have encountered aggressive resistance as fast-food workers organized for higher wages and union rights. As The Guardian reported, organizers alleged in an a lawsuit filed in March that, with the “authorization from the president of McDonald’s,” the Memphis police department was authorized to arrest McDonald’s employees and engaged in a “widespread and illegal campaign of surveillance and intimidation.” Last November, the suit states, police officers allegedly followed organizers home after meetings, banned activists from entering city hall, and in one instance even stepped behind a McDonald’s counter to stop workers from signing a petition demanding better working conditions. Based on these and other allegations, the lawsuit argues that the police department was acting in concert with McDonald’s. 

“White supremacy and corporate greed have always been linked in America,” said Chelsea Fuller, an organizer with the Movement for Black Lives, in a statement. “The fast-food workers who are going on strike for $15 an hour and the right to a union are resisting the same institutional racism and oppression that fuels police violence across the country. We are stronger when we stand together, and so our movements are going to keep fighting back against the twin evils of racial and economic inequality that continue to hold back black and brown people.”

Less than 250 miles southeast, in Alabama, the state legislature, dominated by white lawmakers, passed a law prohibiting localities from instituting their own minimum-wage laws after the city council in majority-black Birmingham had passed legislation in 2015 to phase in a $10.10 hourly minimum wage. The NAACP promptly responded with a lawsuit claiming that the GOP super-majorities in the statehouse and the Republican governor rammed through the legislation in 16 days in order to block Birmingham’s ordinance—which would have largely benefited black low-wage workers—from going into effect, a move that the lawsuit claims was tainted with “racial animus” and undermines the power of the city’s black electorate. A judge has since thrown out the case. (Continued)

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Casey to White House: Action, Not Studies, Needed for Western PA Locks And Dams

Posted by carldavidson on April 4, 2017

 

Montgomery Locks in Beaver County

By Tom Fontaine

Tribonline

March 31, 2017 – The Army Corps of Engineers has spent more than $17 million over the past 15 years studying what to do about crumbling locks on Western Pennsylvania’s portion of the Ohio River.

Now the White House’s Office of Management and Budget wants it to spend more, according to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton.

“We don’t have time for any more studies, nor are they needed or justified,” Casey said Friday during a stop at the Emsworth Locks and Dams, about six miles downstream of Pittsburgh.

Separately, in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, Casey said a proposed $2.7 billion project to build new, larger lock chambers at the Ohio River’s Emsworth, Dashields and Montgomery facilities is being “unnecessarily delayed” by the office’s request for additional study and economic analysis “to determine whether the proposed project is consistent with the policy and programs of the president.”

The Office of Management and Budget did not return a message.

The three Ohio River facilities began operating between 1921 and 1936. They were built to last 50 years. Beaver County’s Montgomery is in the worst shape. Its two locks share a wall that is cracked. If the crack gets bad enough, authorities could be forced to close both locks in a move that would halt river traffic in both directions, said Col. John P. Lloyd, commander of the Army Corps’ Pittsburgh District.

“Surely, maintaining the health of this significant commercial inland waterways corridor, saving project costs and using taxpayer dollars wisely, and protecting and creating thousands of jobs are more than consistent with the president’s policies,” Casey said in his letter.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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