5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: April 30, 2020

Happy Thursday, CivMixers!! I hope you managed to have a good day catching up on some indoor things.

So far, the weather for the weekend looks pretty nice, and it seems a bit poetic for April to be going out on a dreary note, as it matches how much of the pandemic isolated and exhausted population feels.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

1) As the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, the former vice president, is not a novice when it comes to how past demons and scandals can come back to haunt you around election season.

Thus far, however, his hasn’t managed to explain away the allegations lodged against him by a former aide regarding an alleged sexual assault incident from nearly 30 years ago. In fact, he hasn’t discussed it at all, which is disappointing folks on both sides of the political spectrum.

As a staff assistant in the former VP’s Senate Office in the early 1990’s, Tara Reade claims that she was pinned up against a wall by then-Sen. Biden (DE-D) in 1993, where he then proceeded to grope at her underneath her clothing. Her story has been corroborated in interviews from two other women in the Business Insider.

Biden’s campaign has denied the allegation, but the candidate himself thus far has stayed silent.

Nina Turner, who served as the co-chair on recently shuttered presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, says Biden needs to speak up and that Reade should not be ignored or shoved under a rug because her allegations are “inconvenient” or “messy.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-D), who endorsed Sanders prior to his decision to end his campaign, is calling for a impartial and fair investigation.

A number of women are standing by Biden, including three who are on his shortlist for running mates: Sen. Kamala Harris (CA-D), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN-D), and former Rep. Stacey Abrams of the Georgia House of Representatives. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (NY-R), a big champion for sexual assault survivors and former presidential hopeful, is also on Biden’s side.

President Donald Trump’s camp, meanwhile, has been working to turn the allegations and Biden’s silence into a liability for the Democrat’s campaign.

Reade is only one of eight women who alleged inappropriate contact with Biden during his tenure in politics. When the allegations came out last year, Biden released a response that stated he was working on being more mindful of respecting other people’s personal space.

He has commented generally on sexual assault, insisting that perpetrators must be swiftly and sternly dealt with and that survivors deserve to be heard and believed.

2) Many schools are still grappling with the distance learning protocol forced on them by the COVID-19 outbreak, and after polling parents, students, teachers, and administrators, they’re considering shutting down the whole enterprise early.

In Bibb County, outside of Atlanta, GA, thousands of people responded to a survey on distance learning by agreeing that it is very stressful. After talking, the county’s Board of Education joined many others across GA in shutting its (virtual) doors almost a full month earlier than usual

The stress came not only from the actual distance learning but finances, households being plunged into new and scary territory, and a general rise in pressure around the district in general. And, of course, Georgia is not alone. Other districts across the nation – and right here in New York – are having technical issues just trying to set up their respective networks, or cannot provide those in need with suitable computers.

3) In his daily media briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that there is a plan for reopening forming – and it will involve an army of contact tracers. These tracers will be public employees, mainly from local and state health departments, though some new hires will be required.

Cuomo believes tracing holds the key to reducing future COVID outbreaks. Once traced, isolation could be enforced for those infected and those in contact with them during their contagious period.

The governor was quick to point out that tracing itself isn’t necessarily hard work, but doing it to scale is not easy. According to the preliminary numbers, for every 100,000 people tested, there will need to be 30 tracers, with the workforce for additional tracers within specific regions. Right now, it seems the state will need anywhere from 6,400 up to 17,000 tracers.

The state has help from the SUNY and CUNY systems, as well as a statewide staffing organization, in identifying and recruiting tracing applicants. Once hired, there will be online training courses and tests to take and pass to be a tracer. As they develop the curriculum, NYS is also creating a playbook to outline its step-by-step procedure.

4) Bryan Redden had his appeal denied today by a New York State Appeals Court. The court upheld his sentence for life in prison due to his guilty verdict in connection with a 2017 double homicide in Glens Falls.

Redden, who first pleaded not guilty, changed his plea in January of 2018 to guilty on all counts. This was all tied back to the murders of Crystal Riley (age 33) and Lilly Frasier (age 4) in their house on Aug. 11, 2017. Though he voluntarily changed his plea to guilty, Redden later appealed the sentence.

The primary point of contention in his appeal by his court-appointed lawyer was that the sentence of 44 years to life by Judge John Hall of Warren County Courts was hard and excessive. This is the sentence that was upheld today by the Appeals Court.

Appeals Court Judge Sharon Aarons confirmed that the sentence was accurate because the murders were two separate acts. With the denied appeal, Redden continues to serve his time in Elmira’s maximum-security prison.

5) If you are missing watching MLB spring training, opening day and can’t wait for the country’s favorite national pastime to return, do yourself a favor and check out the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Safe at Home virtual collection.

Have a good night all, and here’s to hoping for a less shut-down May.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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