Progressive Breakfast for November 16

Morning Message

What School Funding Advocates Should Learn From Midterms

One of the big winners in the 2018 midterm elections you may not have heard about is education funding. This may come as news to you, because just as some observers incorrectly concluded last week’s “Blue Wave” was merely a ripple, quick takes on midterm results on important education-related ballot referendums have overlooked important lessons to learn about where and when increased funding for schools can win. Statewide referendums on school funding were a mixed bag: in Georgia, Maryland and New Jersey they won, while in Utah, Colorado and Missouri they lost. But even as as some voters rejected sweeping, statewide ballot measures, they were overwhelmingly approving increased school spending closer to home. Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio and the city of Seattle all passed measures to raise money locally for schools, and Colorado and Wisconsin both elected strongly pro-education Democrats as governors.

Golden Wins In Maine, In Ranked-Choice First

After court rejects GOP lawsuit, Democrat wins as ME becomes first to use ranked-choice voting in national race. Common Dreams: “Maine’s 2nd congressional district made history Thursday afternoon as it named Jared Golden the winner of his race for incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s (R-Maine) seat, after the state used ranked-choice voting for the first time in a national race to determine the winner. Shortly after a federal judge rejected Poliquin’s lawsuit in which he attempted to halt the ranked-choice voting (RCV) process, election officials forged ahead in their tabulation of ballots and found that Golden won 50.53 percent of the vote, compared to Poliquin’s 49.47 percent. ‘The first time ranked-choice voting is used in the state of Maine [and] we’ll have an instance where it will have made a difference—this is stunning,’ Larry Diamond, a political scientist at Stanford University, told the Portland Phoenix ahead of the vote tabulation. ‘Either way it’s going to validate the logic of it, and it’s going to make for fairer elections.'”

Katie Porter WINS In California CD45, 36th Pickup For Dems

Democrat Katie Porter unseats GOP’s Mimi Walters. The Hill: “Democrat Katie Porter unseated incumbent Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.), marking the first time Democrats have won the inland Orange County district since its creation in 1983. The Associated Press called the race on Thursday, nine days after Election Day. Porter’s victory represented the fifth GOP seat that Democrats flipped in the 2018 midterms, an devastating blow to the new Republican leader, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Walters, a former Laguna Niguel mayor and state lawmaker, had aligned herself with the unpopular President Trump this past election cycle. She was one of a handful of vulnerable Republicans who voted for and defended both Trump’s Obamacare repeal bill and his tax cuts law. Porter, a consumer-protection attorney, seized on Walters’s unapologetic support of the Trump agenda, running ads that said her GOP opponent voted with the president 98 percent of the time. That strategy appeared to work in a district that has become bluer and more diverse in recent years as Hispanic and Asian populations continue to grow in Orange County. Although Republicans have a slight voter-registration advantage in California’s 45th district, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat then-candidate Donald Trump there by 5 percentage points in 2016.”

Dems Pick Up Most House Seats Since 1974

It Was A Big, Blue Wave: Democrats Pick Up Most House Seats In A Generation. NPR: “Votes are still being counted in several House races. But the AP has now called another race in New Jersey, projecting Democrat Andy Kim the winner in the suburban Philadelphia 3rd Congressional District over incumbent Republican Tom MacArthur. That means, more than a week after Election Day, Democrats have increased their House gains to a net of 36 seats — and, when all the vote is counted, they may get to 39. Make no mistake: That is a very big wave. How big? It’s the most House seats gained by Democrats since the wave election following Watergate. President Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974, leading to Democrats’ pickup of 49 seats that fall.”

NY Court Bars Local Police From ICE Detentions

Local police can’t detain immigrants for ICE, NY court finds. NPR: “An appellate court in Brooklyn ruled Wednesday that local police officers in New York state can’t hold immigrants in custody beyond their release date solely to turn them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement without a judicial warrant. The case involved Susai Francis, an Indian national living on Long Island who overstayed a visa in the 1990s. After an arrest in Nassau County in June 2017, for driving under the influence, he was transferred to Suffolk County to complete a different proceeding there involving a criminal charge. In December, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentence to time served. But instead of letting him leave court, Suffolk police rearrested him at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was taken to a jail cell in Riverhead, rented by ICE. On Wednesday, a three-judge appellate court panel found this violated state law because the Suffolk police went beyond their authority. ICE detainers ask police to hold someone already in custody for 48 hours, to facilitate a transfer. By putting Francis back in jail, the court found Suffolk went too far. ‘[L]ocal law enforcement officers are not authorized to effectuate arrests for civil law immigration violations,’ the ruling said. According to Newsday, Suffolk County began letting police arrest and detain people for ICE under the previous sheriff, after President Trump was elected, but the current sheriff announced he would end the policy after the ruling on Wednesday.”

Sanders Bill Links Buybacks To $15 Wage

Sanders-Khanna Bill Would Outlaw Stock Buybacks for Corporate Giants That Don’t Pay $15 an Hour. Common Dreams: “Just weeks after the progressive duo’s pressure campaign against Amazon forced the online retail giant to hike its minimum wage to $15 an hour, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) on Thursday will set their sights on America’s largest private employer and other massive companies by introducing the ‘Stop Walmart Act,’ a bill that would ban corporate giants from buying back their own stock if they don’t pay workers $15 an hour plus benefits. In a statement, Sanders declared that the Walton family—the owners of Walmart and the wealthiest family in the United States—’must pay its workers a living wage, and the Stop Walmart Act will do just that. Most Walmart retail workers are working for horrendously low wages with minimal benefits,’ the Vermont senator said. ‘Amazon did the right thing by raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Walmart can and must do the same.'”

EPA Official Arrested For Criminal Ethics

EPA official arrested on criminal ethics charges. The Hill: “An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official in the Trump administration was arrested Thursday two days after being indicted on multiple alleged violations of Alabama ethics laws. Trey Glenn, the regional director for EPA’s southeast region, was arrested for allegedly helping an Alabama law firm fight potential EPA actions to clean up contaminated sites on behalf of Drummond Co., which could be responsible for the cleanups. Among other charges, Glenn and former Alabama Environmental Management Commissioner Scott Phillips were indicted on soliciting a thing of value from a principal, lobbyist or subordinate and receiving money in addition to that received in one’s official capacity. Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler declined to comment on the case Tuesday, saying he hadn’t spoken with Glenn about it.”

Trump Admits New AG Tapped To Block Russia Probe

In a ‘self-defeating and self-incriminating’ slipup, Trump indicated he installed Mathew Whitaker to kill the Russia probe. Insider: “President Donald Trump on Wednesday indicated during an interview that he tapped former US attorney Matthew Whitaker to replace then Attorney General Jeff Sessions in order to rein in the Russia investigation. Speaking to The Daily Caller, Trump expanded on his thought process behind choosing Whitaker to take over as acting attorney general. The president then appeared to allude to the fact that he tapped Whitaker primarily to constrain the Russia investigation. ‘As far as I’m concerned, this is an investigation that should have never been brought,’ Trump told The Daily Caller. ‘It should have never been had … It’s an illegal investigation.’ He then tacked on: ‘And you know, it’s very interesting because when you talk about not Senate confirmed, [the special counsel Robert Mueller] is not Senate confirmed.’ The admission is reminiscent of when Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt last year that he ousted then FBI director James Comey because of the Russia investigation. Trump’s statement to Holt now makes up one of the central threads of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president sought to obstruct justice in the inquiry, and legal experts told INSIDER his admission to The Daily Caller could add another piece to Mueller’s probe.”