Category Archives: Ethics

Texas racial gerrymandering, Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering headed to SCOTUS

Slate has a good summary of the decision of the federal district court for Texas on Thursday that, once again, struck down the district lines drawn by the Texas legislature for intentional racial discrimination. Federal Court: Texas Intentionally Gerrymandered Its Districts to Dilute Minority Votes:

On Thursday, a three-judge federal court ruled that Texas intentionally discriminated against minority voters in drawing its state House district map in 2011. The decision follows a similar ruling by the same court in March holding that Texas also drew its federal congressional districts in an effort to dilute minority votes. Thursday’s ruling marks the third time in recent weeks that the federal judiciary has found Texas to have intentionally burdened its Hispanic voters.

The majority attached a 151-page findings of fact to its already lengthy opinion, reflecting careful analysis of Texas’ gerrymander that will be difficult for the Supreme Court to ignore on appeal. In short, the court found that Texas legislators drew multiple House districts that diluted Hispanics’ votes, a violation of both the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The court also found that the legislature had engaged in race-based gerrymandering, which similarly runs afoul of equal protection and the VRA. Finally, the court concluded that the House map violated the one person, one vote principle by creating districts within unequal populations, another Equal Protection infringement.

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New study: ‘Arizona teacher recruitment, retention and pay are at crisis levels’

ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy has a new report coming out in May on education in Arizona that it is previewing this week. Here is the summary I received by email with the highlights from its (corrected) Key Facts brief added in.

Top findings from new report show crisis levels for Arizona teacher recruitment, retention and pay

PHOENIX – Arizona teacher recruitment, retention and pay are at crisis levels with more teachers leaving the profession annually than bachelor of education degrees produced by the three universities, compounded by an exodus of instructors for reasons ranging from retirement to poor salaries.

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Those are just some of the data points and facts in the upcoming Morrison Institute for Public Policy report, Finding & Keeping Educators for Arizona’s Classrooms. The study’s top facts are being released today in a two-page brief, with the full report to be released in May.

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American Bridge 21st Century radio ad against Rep. Martha McSally

The Democratic Super-PAC American Bridge 21st Century has released radio ads against three vulnerable Republican members of Congress, focusing on Donald Trump’s dangerous ties to Russia. American Bridge Releases Radio Ads on Trump’s Dangerous Ties to Russia:

The 60-second spots will run for the next seven days against Rep. Martha McSally (AZ-02), Rep. John Katko (NY-24), and Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23).

Here is a YouTube link to the radio ad airing against Rep. Martha McSally. Bridge Project | Martha McSally Radio Ad.

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With new revelations in the growing scandal surfacing weekly, the American people deserve the kind of answers that can only come from a truly independent investigation operating free of politics. That’s why Americans overwhelmingly support creating an independent commission to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia. But Republicans in Congress are standing in the way, instead putting their party ahead of the country.

Statement by American Bridge President Jessica Mackler:

“The country overwhelmingly wants an independent commission investigating the growing scandal surrounding Donald Trump’s ties to Russia and we’re going to hold Republicans accountable for standing in the way. Republicans who refuse to put country ahead of party are doing so at their own peril.”

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Higher minimum wage did not reduce restaurant employment after all (updated)

The Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) is the principal chamber of commerce organization that has sought to defeat and to undermine Arizona’s Minimum Wage Act first approved by voters in 2006, and reaffirmed by voters in 2016.

The ARA was behind HB 2579, our Tea-Pulican legislature’s attempt to gut the 2006 Minimum Wage Act by narrowly redefining “wages.” The ARA participated in a failed legal challenge to the sufficiency of the 2016 Minimum Wage Initiative, and after the Minimum Wage Initiative was passed by voters, the ARA participated in the failed legal challenge to overturn the will of the voters.

The ARA’s position is always that the minimum wage (most restaurant workers are paid a sub-minimum wage and must rely on the kindness of strangers for tips) is devastating to restaurant businesses. The ARA always claims that a higher minimum wage will reduce employment in the restaurant sector.

While some marginal businesses teetering on failure may have closed due to higher wage costs, those businesses have been replaced by others that are competitive at the higher wage costs. And isn’t that what “creative destruction” in a free market economy is all about?

Howard Fischer reports today that employment in the restaurant sector has gone up since passage of the increase in the minimum wage. Food sector job growth outpaces state since wage hike on Jan. 1:

Remember those claims during the Proposition 206 debate that increasing the minimum wage would lead to less hiring and people being laid off from low-wage jobs?

The latest unemployment statistics suggest that hasn’t happened.

In fact, the data from the state Office of Economic Opportunity shows that the number of people working in bars and restaurants last month not only increased but did so at a rate six times higher than the economy as a whole. Employers who run food service and drinking establishments added 7,800 new workers compared with February, a 3.3 percent boost.

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GOP to try again with a zombie ‘Trumpcare’ plan, and hurtle towards a government shutdown next week

Congress returns from its recess next week with a government shutdown looming next Friday. “If Congress does not strike the first truly bipartisan deal of his presidency by then, Donald Trump will spend his 100th day explaining to the public why the government he’s charged with running has partially shut down.” How Trump’s First 100 Days Could End in a Government Shutdown.

But first, Tea-Publicans apparently believe they have enough time to try to raise a zombie “Trumpcare” plan from the dead. Sarah Kliff reports at Vox.com, House GOP members are floating a new health plan. Here’s what’s in it.

House Republicans are floating a new amendment to their health care bill — one that would likely cause even more Americans to lose coverage than the last version.

Leaders of the staunchly conservative Freedom Caucus and the more moderate Tuesday Group have reportedly hashed out a proposal that would let some states ditch key Obamacare policies, such as the requirement to charge sick people the same for coverage as healthy people. States would also have the choice to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefit requirement.

The Huffington Post reported on the development late Wednesday night, and Politico posted a short white paper early Thursday describing the changes. We still don’t know how final this amendment is or which House Republicans support the changes.

What we do know is that this latest proposal doesn’t do much at all to assuage concerns about the older proposals. While it meets many of the demands of the party’s far-right wing — namely, the deregulation of the individual insurance market — it does nothing to address concerns about massive coverage loss. Instead, it likely makes those problems worse.

“It’s pretty frustrating to see they’ve worked so hard to come up with another Rube Goldberg–type solution,” says Craig Garthwaite, a health economist at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.

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Trump’s phantom ‘armada’ leads to mockery and distrust in South Korea

The Trump White House and the Pentagon were either deliberately deceiving the American people last week, or they were so incompetent that they just didn’t know what they were doing. It’s likely a combination of both. Amy Davidson of the New Yorker reports, Donald Trump, North Korea, and the case of the phantom armada:

Some degree of delusion always has to be factored in with Donald Trump: when he referred to “the aircraft carriers” and, in another interview, with Fox Business, said that “we are sending an armada, very powerful,” he was widely understood to be referring to a single aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, and its support ships. In fairness, the Vinson would have been powerful and provocative enough—if it had, in fact, been speeding toward the Korean Peninsula, or the Sea of Japan, or even just the Pacific Ocean, which it was not. It was in the Indian Ocean, headed in the opposite direction, for exercises with what might be described as the Australian Armada. Just when you think you see the contours of Trump’s phantom menace, he comes up with a Phantom Fleet.

[T]he movements of a carrier group can’t be so hard to conceal, except, perhaps, from the people in charge of America’s foreign policy. Trump wasn’t alone on this one; it’s not a case of him just causing trouble with his phone and Twitter account, rambling about bad hombres. As the timeline makes clear, it’s even worse. (The Wall Street Journal and the Times have good versions.) On April 9th, three days before Trump’s Wall Street Journal interview, the Navy had said that it had ordered the Vinson “to sail north”; H. R. McMaster, the national-security adviser, reiterated that news on the same day, framing it as a response to North Korea’s own provocative moves. Secretary of Defense James Mattis followed that up on April 11th by saying that the Indian Ocean exercises were off, and said that the Vinson was “just on her way up there.” That was false. The next day, the Navy said again that the Vinson had been “ordered north”; it added that the effects of that deployment on “other previously scheduled activities are still being assessed during the transit.” The Pentagon is now trying to sell that last bit as a quiet correction of Mattis, which the press mysteriously missed—but that is, simply put, ridiculous. For one thing, there’s the phrase “during the transit,” which assumes that transit had begun. Or is the idea that the Vinson was on its way to the Sea of Japan, in the sense that we are all on our way from cradle to grave, or that Trump is in transit from the Oval Office to choosing items for the gift shop in his Presidential library? A lot can happen in between.

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