fresh voices from the front lines of change








Jeff Bryant

Flint’s Crisis Reveals National Failure On School ‘Leadership’

Flint, Michigan, became a national poster child for incompetence and corruption when a small group of autocratic officials put in charge by the state’s governor made the infamous decision to supply lead-tainted water to the public. But long before Flint’s water crisis, the practice of outsourcing critical decisions to a small circle of individuals with little vested interest in the community was also the way to determine who would run Flint’s schools. In 2005, Walter Milton Jr. became superintendent of Flint City Schools in large part because the city hired a superintendent search firm that recommended him. But even before he officially took office, news broke that his application for the position included degrees he had not earned. More outrage ensued when he hired a director of curriculum for the school district who had been convicted of child molestation. The search firm that recommended Milton, Schaumburg, Illinois-based Hazard, Young, Attea, and Associates (HYA), overlooked things that should have turned up in a thorough background check, particularly his fake degree and problems with his previous tenure as superintendent of schools in Fallsburg, New York. In that position, he hired the very same person convicted of child molestation he would also hire in Flint. But Flint is far from alone: in an extensive investigation, Our Schools found multiple cases in which private, for-profit companies recommended candidates with falsified academic or professional credentials, documented evidence of financial mismanagement, unethical behavior and conflicts of interest. This is not just Flint's crisis; it is a national crisis of leadership.

Field Of Democratic Candidates Narrows

The Democratic debate stage narrows and candidates quit the race. NBC: "The deadline passed at midnight Wednesday for candidates to qualify for the next Democratic presidential debate and only 10 made it, narrowing the largest field in history to a more manageable size. Gone, for now at least, are the two-night debates of June and July, since everyone can fit on one stage, one night, for next month's debate in Houston. The only real suspense came in the form of billionaire Tom Steyer, who fell one poll short of qualifying even after spending nearly $12 million on advertising to boost his campaign. 'The field is cut in half overnight, basically. That's clarifying. It's important to get all the major candidates on stage together,' said David Brock, a prolific Democratic fundraiser who runs a collection of major Democratic super PACs. 'But on the other hand, there's a lot of chatter about the candidates who got boxed out, they would say unfairly. I think it's really tough if you're not in the debate to have any hope.'"

Some U.S. Military Children Overseas Will Not Be Citizens

Citizenship will no longer be automatic for children of some US military members living overseas. CNN: "The Trump administration is making it more difficult for the children of some US service members and US government employees living abroad to automatically become US citizens, according to a policy alert released Wednesday by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The rule appears to primarily affect the children of naturalized US citizens serving in the armed forces who have not lived in the US for a required period of time, a relatively small number -- estimated to be approximately 100 annually, according to a Defense Department official. It does not impact anyone born in the United States. US citizenship can be acquired a few ways, including being born in the country. Children born abroad can acquire citizenship through their US citizen parents either at birth or before the age of 18. While the latest policy guidance doesn't make anyone ineligible for citizenship, it appears to narrow how children abroad can gain citizenship."

GA GOP Senator Resigns

Surprise Georgia resignation jolts battle for the Senate. Politico: "Democrats' path to a Senate majority after the 2020 elections got a little wider on Wednesday. Sen. Johnny Isakson's (R-Ga.) announcement that he will resign later this year due to health problems puts Republicans on defense, with another competitive seat on the ballot in an emerging swing state. Democrats need to flip three states to win back the Senate if they also capture the White House. Only two Republicans are up in states President Donald Trump lost in 2016 — Colorado and Maine — meaning Democrats will have to win in red states to control the chamber. Republicans now have to defend two seats in Georgia — which is also likely to be competitive in the presidential race — increasing the attention and money required to hold their grip on the rapidly shifting state. Democrats haven't won a Senate race in Georgia in two decades, and the party had already struggled to recruit top-tier talent to the race after Stacey Abrams passed on running earlier this year. Abrams said Wednesday she won’t run in a special election, either. But new Democrats could consider jumping in to run in the special election, and if the party is able to put the state in play, it gives them a two-for-one opportunity."

Trump Trails Dems By Double Digits

Trump approval plummets in battleground states; he trails leading Democrats by double digits. Salon: "President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have plunged in every key 2020 battleground state since he took office, including Republican strongholds like Texas and Georgia. Trump’s approval rating fell from net-positive, meaning more people approve than disapprove, to net negative in nearly every battleground state, according to a Morning Consult tracking poll. His approval fell in Wisconsin from +3 to -14, in Michigan from +7 to -11, in Pennsylvania from +10 to -8, and in Florida from +22 to -1. Trump’s approval also plummeted from the positives to the negatives in New Hampshire, Minnesota, Maine, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Arizona, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina. His approval fell in Georgia from +18 to +2 and in Texas from +21 to +6. Trump campaign officials told Axios that along with the key states he won in 2016 — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — the president's re-election campaign is also targeting Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, and New Mexico."

Standing Rock Sioux Challenge Pipeline Expansion

Standing Rock Sioux seek to intervene on proposed Dakota Access Pipeline expansion. Time: "The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a motion Wednesday to intervene on a proposed expansion of the Dakota Access pipeline that would double the line’s capacity. The tribe, which led original opposition to the crude oil pipeline, petitioned for status as an intervenor in the case before the Public Service Commission arguing its 'interests … are not adequately represented.' North Dakota regulators have set a Nov. 13 public hearing on the proposed expansion. The public hearing, which was requested by the tribe and the Sierra Club, will be held in the south-central city of Linton, near where a pump station would go in to increase the line’s capacity. Texas-based Energy Transfer announced in June it plans to expand the pipeline’s capacity from more than 500,000 barrels per day to as much as 1.1 million barrels. The pipeline has been moving North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois since June 2017."

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