5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: Aug. 12, 2020

Another Wednesday in the books. And somehow, I have waited until this point to wish you all a Happy Shark Week.

This, my friends, is my favorite week-long holiday. And yes, in the Marlette household, it’s a holiday.

I love sharks; they are beautiful apex predators that have existed since the time of the dinosaurs. Here’s hoping for a comeback for all those species of shark that have almost been killed off and to protecting these amazing creatures for the future. (Actually, it turns out that some of them are benefitting from the pandemic).

I don’t necessarily love all of the gimmicks that have come to be associated with Shark Week in recent years. Thank goodness that the shark mockumentaries were quickly done away with. I can at least deal with most of the celebrity Shark Week shows, and this year’s Tyson vs. Jaws was actually pretty interesting.

If you do not yet know the joys of Shark Week, I HIGHLY recommend that you check it out. Luckily for anyone not related to me or personal friends of mine, you are not going to be subjected to the pop quizzes I have been known to give because I have no clue how I would run such a thing on a large-scale basis.

Tonight’s line-up looks pretty good, and you can stream the content on any device. If you use Discovery Go and register at Amazon, you can “stream it forward,” which means that for every hour of Shark Week you stream, $1 will be donated to the Discovery Oceana Shark Fund.

Entertaining and charitable. Can’t beat that.

Let’s jump in to those 5 Things, shall we?

1)With his running mate pick official, former VP Joe Biden now heads a genuinely historic presidential ticket. California Sen. Kamala Harris is the first Black and Asian American individual of either gender to be the vice-presidential nominee for one of the major political parties. Ever.

Harris quickly emerged to the top of the list of potential Democratic White House nominees back in 2019, even taking her now-running mate to school and holding him accountable for his past decisions while in office. Her biggest triumph over him on the debate floor came over his stance on busing to help with desegregation in schools back in the 1970s – a process in which Harris was forced to participate in order to get an education.

After that debate, Biden praised the senator’s intellect and prospects. After she ended her own presidential campaign in December, she eventually gave him her endorsement after he swept the polls on Super Tuesday.

Biden and Harris are wasting no time since the unprecedented video call that Biden made to ask her to be his running mate. They had a joint press conference this afternoon, walking in together wearing masks.

Biden spoke first, giving Harris glowing compliments, called her a fighter and saying she is ready to do the job on Day One. He also said that he hoped today, girls – especially those who aren’t white – will be inspired by seeing Harris on the ticket.

Harris said she is proud to be Biden’s running mate, and she expressed her gratitude and respect for all the trailblazers who came before her and allowed her to be standing in this crucial position.

She then drew correlations between herself and Biden, saying that she knows they are the same kind of people and come from similar backgrounds. Much of this, she knows from her relationship with Beau Biden, Joe’s late son. She also showcased her prosecutorial skills while arguing against some of the Trump administration’s current coronavirus response – or lack thereof.

Harris is known to be more left and progressive than Biden, who many younger liberals view as too moderate. The hope is that this ticket will please both sides of the Democratic spectrum and inspire younger people and minorities to vote.

VP Mike Pence first welcomed Harris to the race and then said she was the only choice for Biden to have made since (in Pence’s words) the radical left runs the Democratic Party. He said he was ready to face her in their first VP debate in Salt Lake City.

2) In a somewhat bizarre move, Billy Woods, the sheriff of Marion County in Florida, sent an email out to his employees that instructed them that facemasks are NOT to be worn while they are on duty with few exceptions. He went on to say that this is no longer up for debate or to be discussed.

The sheriff insisted his no-mask order will stand – regardless of what elected officials above him might say – for all on-duty officers, employees, and visitors to the office. If instructed by HR, they can wear pre-approved masks, and pre-approved masks can be worn in certain situations such as in courthouses, jail, hospitals, and any schools. All deputies are expected to carry masks with them in case they have to respond to a call with a high-risk individual, go to assisted living or nursing home facilities or get an alert that the scene is a known COVID-19 address.

He then doubled down, saying that even in these exceptional situations, if there is a time that comes and the deputy must issues orders or take any enforcement action, the mask needs to be removed. Covers are also not allowed at any kind of particular function.

Woods stated in the email that if the employees are confronted by someone who is complaining or being difficult about them not wearing masks, they are to tell them in a “polite and professional matter that they are not required to wear a mask and will not be wearing one per order of the Sheriff” and to remove themselves from the situation then.

These rules also apply to anyone entering the department, and any visitor who begins wearing a mask will be expected to remove it. If they refuse, employees are to get their number and have them wait outside. He said that he knows some will disagree with this order and says that for every expert they can produce to prove that face coverings should be worn, he could meet with an expert that says the opposite.

Anyone disobeys these orders will be facing consequences, according to Woods, who signed his email: “Be Safe!”

Florida is now the country’s COVID epicenter, with over 550,000 cases reported and 8,700 deaths. In Monroe County, approximately 6,798 cases have been confirmed, with 104 reported deaths.

The mask mandate in question was vetoed by Mayor Kenty Guinn, who said that he was vetoing it because the included $25 fine for non-compliance would be challenging to enforce. Matt Wardell is the councilman who originated the mask mandate. He said that the penalty would not be hard to enforce at all.

According to Mayor Guinn, Chief Greg Graham of the Ocala Police Department was also against the mandate.

3) The Monroe County Legislature yesterday voted to change the name of the Greater Rochester International Airport to the Frederick Douglass-Greater Rochester International Airport.

The proposal was introduced by Richard Glaser, who lives in Rochester. He received close to 5,000 signatures to support the petition. The new name is not required to be approved by the FAA, but they will have to file paperwork with them to make the change official.

Kenneth Morris, president of Douglass Family Initiatives and great-great-great-grandson to Douglass, is honored to have the airport recognize his ancestor in its name. He feels that this step will show other communities that Rochester wants to be at the forefront of civil rights and social justice.

In 1818, Frederick Douglass was born on a Maryland plantation where he remained as a slave until he turned 20 when he ran away. He escaped north and came to settle in Rochester, living there for over twenty years and being buried in the area.

He continued his work founding an abolitionist newspaper and becoming the national leader of the movement, all based out of Rochester, NY. He went on to become a supporter of the suffragettes in NYS, and Rochester is the site of his famous “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” in 1852 on July 5.

There will be educational material about the great man placed in the airport that will bear his name.

4) In 2018, the City of Amsterdam found elevated lead levels lead in its public water system. Officials conducted a study to help them to take the proper steps to take to reduce those levels. The state Health Department has given the city to April of 2022 to make the changes recommended by the corrosive control study.

According to Randy Gardinier, the chief operator of the Water Treatment Plant, those changes could cost around $560,000. He said that the city is looking at all of the recommendations of the study, including some that include merely changing the chemicals they use to lower lead levels in the water. They are currently doing pilot testing to see which changes to put to bid.

While they are working on these changes, Amsterdam is testing its water every six months. According to officials in the City of Amsterdam, the water should be run for 15-30 seconds before use and that any plumbing fixtures can be replaced to reduce lead exposure. Boiling water not only is useless in removing lead, but lets lead dissolve easier, so they recommend using cold water for baby bottles.

If any Amsterdam resident wants to know about their eligibility to be put onto the testing pilot program waiting list, please call (518) 843-3009.

There is a free testing program run by the NYS DOH.

5) Short and to the point today, number five is just a heads up that there is a fire that has broken out at the Zone Camp in Gilboa. The camp for kids is located on South Gilboa Road.

As of right now, multiple departments are battling the blaze, and any information on the start or damage will be forthcoming.

Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.
Stay woke. 

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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