5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: June 26, 2020

Oh Friday, how we have missed you. It has been an exciting week.

I am confused as to the hostility in Florida yesterday in regards to a vote mandating masks be worn in public. They are spiking in cases of COVID right now. Do they not see how face-covering mandates are working in other states (like ours) and countries? Do they want to be the next epicenter? Note to self: Don’t go to Florida right now.

Texas meanwhile, has put the pause on its opening process as cases there also are spiking. I am unsure if there will be any similar meetings in TX, but I will be watching with bated breath.

President Trump is canceling his planned weekend trip to his private golf club in Bedminister, NJ, because of the new quarantine requirements by CT, NJ, and NY. It is unclear why, as Gov. Phil Murphy agreed with a White House spokesperson who said that the order would not pertain to Trump as he is not a private citizen.

Also, it’s highly likely we will continue to experience a large number of impromptu – and illegal – fireworks displays this weekend, much to the chagrin of doggos everywhere.

Let’s see what we have to wrap up the week with today, shall we?

1) A Federal Appeals Court ruled today that the president wrongly diverted $2.5 billion intended for the Pentagon to fund part of his desired US-Mexican border wall.

This was a 2-1 decision in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the White House, and Trump in particular, did not have the constitutional authority to approve the transfer and also had no military requirement that could justify the act.

In addition, the court determined that both California and New Mexico, two of the 20 states suing the current administration in the lawsuit, indeed have the legal standing need to continue with their claims against the government.

The fund transfer happened in February of 2019 after Trump declared a national emergency at the US-Mexico border to gain access to these funds.

Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote the majority opinion stating that there was a failure on behalf of the Executive Branch to show any concrete evidence that proves the border wall is significant enough to protect the public’s interest – especially when Congress placed a low budgetary priority on “fencing” and the DOJ even had data that seemed to contradict Trump.

They also stated that two non-profits were allowed to sue over the diversion of funds and that there should be an injunction issued.

There was no comment by the DOJ at the time of this writing.

The whole ruling seems to be a moot point; however, as SCOTUS let the money be spent last July when it ruled that the non-profits of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition did, in fact, not have a legal right to sue. That ruling allowed the money to be spent while the pending litigation went through the system.

The two judges in the majority were appointed to the 9th Circuit by former Democratic President Bill Clinton, and the dissenting judge was appointed by Trump.

2) The House today passed HR 51, a measure that would make the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., an official state. If approved by the Senate, D.C. would become the nation’s 51st state.

This is not the first time the measure has been proposed, but it is the first time it passed in either chamber. The bill passed by a substantial margin, 232-180, and it was almost a party-line vote, with only one Democrat joining the GOP in voting “no.”

This new state, should it be created, would be called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named after escaped slave and great abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

There are over 700,000 people who live within the limits of D.C., which is more than either Vermont or Wyoming. Since it is a district, a federal city created just to be the capital of the nation, Washington has just a non-voting delegate in Congress – currently Democrat Elenor Holmes Norton.

Before the vote, Norton was quick to point out that the U.S. is currently the only country under a democratic government that does not allow the residents of the nation’s capital to vote or have meaningful representation in government.

Republicans remain staunchly opposed to making D.C. a state, and the fact that is Democrat-dominated may well have something to do with that.

Sen.Tom Cotton, and Arizona Republican argued against the bill coming up for a vote. One of his arguments is that other states, maybe smaller – like Wyoming (of which the population is 93 percent white)  –  but that it is  “a well-rounded working-class state.”

He went on to say that neither the current or former mayor of D.C. could handle being a governor. Both are black people of color, representing a population that is 46 percent BPOCs.

Many activists would like to do away with the filibuster in the Senate to get the D.C. vote through, which would also take the needed votes for approval from 60 down to 51.

For his part, Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and the Senate majority leader, stated that the legislation would never make it to the Senate’s floor for a vote. Pres. Trump has also stated that DC is never going to be a state, and would veto the legislation if it came to his desk.

“D.C. will never be a state. You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No, thank you. That’ll never happen.”
-President Donald Trump to “The New York Post”

Democrats claim that if D.C. had a larger population of white people who led a Republican majority in the city, that the same people currently leading the opposition to even voting on the issue would be the first ones rushing to approve it.

3) During a conference call with reporters today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo he addressed the issue of the annual New York State Fair.

Though he did not confirm that the Fair is being closed completely, he did imply that it is highly unlikely to be held, due to ongoing COVID-19 fears. He went on to say that it is an issue close to his heart and that the final decision has not been officially made yet.

The decision needs to happen within the next few weeks to allow fair officials ample time to prepare. Even as re-opening progresses and the pandemic stays under control throughout the state, there is no guarantee the numbers will remain that way – especially given what is ocuring elsewhere in the nation.

4) A minor has been charged with one of the shootings that resulted in homicide in Albany this past Wednesday, and also for two of the other violent incidents the City of Albany has endured in the past month.

Since he is 17, his identity is not being released, but the Albany Police Department confirmed he was arrested yesterday with the help of the Schenectady Police Dept. The charges include criminal possession of a weapon and murder.

APD has confirmed this minor is the one who fatally shot 21-year-old Nyjawaun Thomas, a Troy resident, in the afternoon on Wednesday, around 1:30 p.m.

Thomas was shot after first being chased down South Pearl St., where surveillance video showed Thomas crashing a U-Haul on Morton Avenue and attempting to escape of foot before being shot in the back. As he lay in the street, the video shows a Jeep stopping beside him and several additional shots being fired into his body.

APD confirmed that this was also the person who was behind shooting on Tuesday around 12:45 p.m. as well. He fired into a crowd on Second Avenue, but no one reported any injuries. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and felony reckless endangerment for that incident.

They also say he is the one who shot two men on Central Ave earlier this month. He hit one man, 23, in the torso and the other man, 29, in the foot. He was charged for on count of possession of a weapon in that case, as well as with two counts of attempted murder.

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins praised the investigation and work that led up to the arrest. He also confirmed that the suspect already had a bench warrant out for his arrest for skipping his sentencing hearing for the role he played in a shooting back in July of 2019. In that case, a three-year-old was wounded.

5)  CAPTAIN Community Human Services is a long-standing and beloved non-profit that helps to provide for those in need within Saratoga County. CAPTAIN stands for Community Action for Parents, Teens And Interested Neighbors. As always, they have their Free Summer Meal Program.

In light of the COVID crisis and continued altered operating procedures and social distancing requirements, they did not get to have their usual kick-off event.

Associate Executive Director of CAPTAIN CHS Andy Gilpin explained that they are providing grab-n-go meal services as opposed to their regular communal meals. Their Free Summer Meal Program is funded by the NYS Department of Agriculture and managed with help by the NYS Department of Education.

Through the program, they will provide meals for children under the age of 18 from June 29 to September 4. There are 19 separate locations throughout Saratoga County, all of which can be found here. The majority of the sites will have pick-ups from 11 AM to 1 PM on Mondays to Fridays. However, there are some variations on that schedule, so be sure to check out CAPTAIN’s page to confirm the operating times for the site you are heading to before you go.

In 2019, CAPTAIN CHS and partners served over 11,000 free meals through the program in Saratoga County. CAPTAIN’s Free Lunch Program is a continuation of the free or reduced-price lunch programs many people take advantage of during the school year. For some, without these programs, they would not get three meals a day.

These low-income households have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic as they may not have had access to these programs as easily. Much research in this area has shown that access to these programs helps to reduce issues like hunger in teens and affects their schoolwork, health, and overall quality of life as well.

As more information becomes available on the site, we will try to keep everyone updated.

That is all for today. Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.

Stay woke.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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