5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: June 10, 2020

It’s going to be a quick overview today, CivMixers, as Heather is otherwise engaged and I’m under the gun…it has been a day – and then some. Maybe it was the heat? Did anyone else have a just a flat-out insane day? I’ve barely managed to move from my chair.

Anyway, enough about me. BTW, in case you’re planning on heading out this evening, we are looking at some potential scattered thunderstorms. The clouds are very ominous, and the wind is picking up. Be careful.

1) Here’s some gloomy financial news to go with the gloomy weather. Sorry. I just can’t sugarcoat it. The Federal Reserve has decided to hold its benchmark interest rate near zero through 2022 to help the economy recover from the coronavirus crisis…and that recovery is going to be a long time coming.

In their first economic projections of 2020, Fed officials predicted the unemployment rate to end at 9.3 percent this year and remain elevated for years, coming in at 5.5 percent in 2022. Output is expected to be 6.5 percent lower at the end of this year than it was in the final quarter of 2019.

Fed Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the government is going to have to do more to help Americans who are out of work as a result of the pandemic.

“We’re doing a fair job of getting through these first few months,” Powell said. “The question is, however, what about people who can’t go back to work? And that could be many millions of people. They’re going to need possibly, probably, further support. It’s possible that we will need to do more and it’s possible that Congress will need to do more.”

2) George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, testified on Capitol Hill today, and told House lawmakers that his brother “didn’t deserve to die over $20.”

He also called for police accountability and reform, saying: “Make the necessary changes to make law enforcement the solution and not the problem.”

Philonise Floyd appeared before the House Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing on policing and law enforcement accountability. It remains unclear, if there’s enough bipartisan support for anything to pass through both chambers of Congress.

The path to any kind of bipartisan compromise is expected to be difficult as well with congressional Republicans already sounding skeptical about a number of the proposals that the Democrats are pushing.

3) Six members of the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics, AKA JCOPE, have called on the panel’s chairman, Michael K. Rozen, to conduct a search for an “independent” executive director amid longstanding criticism that the commission’s leadership and operations have been too closely aligned with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature, the Times Union reports.

JCOPE’s top staff position has been vacant since the departure a year ago of former Cuomo counsel Seth Agata, whose resignation left the embattled commission in search of its fourth executive director in eight years.

4) In a major move for the sport of stock-car racing, NASCAR announced it is banning the confederate flag.

“The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” NASCAR said in a statement.

This comes two days after Darrell Wallace Jr., the first black driver in 50 years to win one of NASCAR’s top three national touring series, called on NASCAR to ban the flags outright.

5) Things are bad all over. How bad, well, they’re really going to the….bears???

Albany Police are warning of a black bear that was spotted this afternoon in the area of South Manning Boulevard and Keeler Drive, according to the department’s spokesman, Officer Steve Smith. (Full disclosure, he’s my husband…Steve Smith, not the bear).

Anybody who sees the bear should not approach it and instead call 518-438-4000.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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