Congress Made it Harder to Give Teachers Raises

Distributed via OtherWords.org

[Note to readers: Due to technical difficulties, I’ve not been able to post for awhile, but the problem seems corrected. This is a piece I had published at our free syndication service. OtherWords.org, two weeks ago, for those who’ve not seen it elsewhere]

In just a few months, we’ve seen teachers in five states walk out of the classroom to protest their abysmal pay.

Stingy state budgets are mostly to blame for low teacher pay and poor school conditions, but there’s a federal tax connection, too. Unfortunately, last year’s Republican tax plan could make keeping good teachers in the classroom more difficult than ever.

Raising teacher pay requires money, which at some point requires new state tax revenue.

Now, most state taxpayers will tolerate tax increases when they know those taxes will fund education. But in many places, state lawmakers have only so much room to raise taxes before voters express their displeasure come election time.

The jam state governments may find themselves in is that Trump and his Republican friends in Congress effectively just increased state income and property taxes. A lot. Which means voters won’t be too keen to see another increase so soon.

How can Congress increase state taxes? By increasing the real cost of state taxes people already pay, that’s how. Continue reading

GOP Congress Candidate Lea “Chapter 7” Peterson Squirms on Trump Question

Lea Marquez Peterson filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to unload $3.2 million in debt, tax liens and a judgment.

Lea Marquez Peterson filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to unload $3.2 million in debt, tax liens, and a judgment.

Lea “Chapter 7” Marquez-Peterson spent most of a recent MSNBC interview ducking questions — at first disavowing Trump because she is a “local candidate,” then later saying she would be “honored” to have him visit Tucson.

Peterson is a Republican candidate for Congress in Tucson’s CD2. There are 7 Democratic candidates vying for the chance to run against her.

No criticism of anti-Hispanic ex-sheriff

She played dumb when it came to Trump’s pardon of convicted ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio. “I really don’t have a position on President Trump’s pardoning of Sheriff Joe.”

REALLY? Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to obey court orders to stop his immigration roundups based on racially profiling Hispanic people.

She runs a ring of Hispanic chambers of commerce that she says has 1,800 members, but they serve as platforms for Governor Ducey and other Republican officials.

She said she’d likely support a discharge effort in House of Representatives to force a vote on legislation to support Dreamers. She defended Trump’s calling immigrants as “animals,” because she said he was referring to gang members from Mexico.

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The GOP’s war on the Department of Justice and the rule of law

When President Trump publicly demanded that the Justice Department open an investigation into the F.B.I.’s scrutiny of his campaign contacts with Russia, he crossed over a well-established bright line norm of constraint on executive power: The White House does not make decisions about individual law enforcement investigations. The independence of the Department of Justice is to be respected and preserved.

This is especially true when the president himself is the subject of a criminal investigation, or he would abuse the Department of Justice and use it as a weapon against his political opponents. This is what authoritarian despots do in a dictatorship or a banana republic.

This is precisely where the authoritarian Donald Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress are taking this country. They are engaged in the destruction of our long-cherished democratic institutions and norms, and the rule of law.

Charlie Savage writes at the New York Times, By Demanding an Investigation, Trump Challenged a Constraint on His Power:

“It’s an incredible historical moment,” said Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School who helped write a coming scholarly article on the limits of presidential control over the Justice Department. Mr. Trump’s move, she said, “is the culmination of a lot of moments in which he has chipped away at prosecutorial independence, but this is a direct assault.”

Almost since he took office, Mr. Trump has battered the Justice Department’s independence indirectly — lamenting its failure to reopen a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton that found no wrongdoing, and openly complaining that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia inquiry. But he had also acknowledged that as president, “I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department,” as he told a radio interviewer with frustration last fall.

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Right-wing media outs U.S. intelligence asset in pursuit of bogus Trump conspiracy theory

Just as I predicted on Saturday, it did not take long for the conservative media entertainment complex to out the U.S. intelligence asset who was the “informant” who contacted members of the Trump campaign who were in engaged in suspicious contacts with the Russians.

It is a crime to reveal the identity of a classified intelligence asset. Scooter Libby was convicted for outing Valerie Plame as a CIA NOC.

This intelligence asset, his family, and his entire network of contacts are now in jeopardy, and any other intelligence projects he was working on have now been compromised as a direct result of President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress and the media seeking to out this “informant” in pursuit of their wild conspiracy theory in their efforts to discredit and to undermine the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation.

Axios.com has a good tick-tock of events that led to the outing of this FBI informant (revised):

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Active Shooter, Violent Encounter Personal Preparedness Courses

by Tucson Police Department, Tucson Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security

“Have you ever wondered what you would do if you became involved in an active shooter situation? Do you want to learn about simple ways to protect yourself or your family if you find that a violent event is occurring right in front you? If so, then you are welcome to attend this lecture style course offered by the Tucson Police Department. The presentation will discuss preparedness strategies, potential warning signs and actual methods to consider if you are confronted with an active shooter. Included in the lecture will be discussion on the likelihood of being involved in this type of event, some looks back at past tragedies and some lessons learned from analyzing those events.”

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/active-shooter-violent-encounter-personal-preparedness-course-tickets-45788842661?aff=es2  

Carolyn’s note: It’s a sign of the 21st Century times in May, 2018 that the Tucson Police Dept. has to offer courses like these (next one is on May 24, which incidentally is already booked full).  Stay tuned for the next one.  I’ve already posted a few of these courses at the TPD West Side Service Center on our image Calendar (since November, 2017).

Then the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas just happened last week Friday. 10 innocent people (mostly high school students) were killed and 13 more were injured. Now we tragically know the answer to the April 19 “Who Will be Next?” Memorial service  at the UA Mall.

Where do we feel safe nowadays?  Only at the airports and in court houses where there are security guards and screening machines for metal objects/weapons.

Trump’s personal animosity for Jeffrey Bezos results in abuse of power a la Nixon

Included in the Articles of Impeachment for President Richard M. Nixon adopted by the House Judiciary Committee on July 27, 1974 was Article 2 for “abuse of power,” which included ordering the IRS to audit his “political enemies” list.

We are now confronted with a parallel abuse of power by President Donald Trump, albeit by a different federal agency. The Washington Post reports, Trump personally pushed postmaster general to double rates on Amazon, other firms:

President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages, according to three people familiar with their conversations, a dramatic move that probably would cost these companies billions of dollars.

Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission, the three people said. She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.

The Wall Street Journal  reported last month that White House officials, eager to help the president understand reality, have put together “PowerPoint presentations and briefing papers they believed debunked his concerns.”

Despite these presentations, Trump has continued to level criticism at Amazon. And last month, his critiques culminated in the signing of an executive order mandating a government review of the financially strapped Postal Service that could lead to major changes in the way it charges Amazon and others for package delivery. See, Bloomberg, Trump Orders Post Office Review After Attacks on Amazon.

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