Hello and happy Tuesday, all you lovely CivMixers out there!! I hope you are all doing well!
The big – and slightly late-breaking – news of the day is that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has selected his running mate: California Sen. Kamala Harris.
This isn’t any big surprise. Harris, who mounted her own (unsuccessful) presidential campaign, has been on Biden’s VP short list for months. And we knew – because he promised to do so – that he would be picking a woman to be his No. 2.
Harris, who is 55 to Biden’s 77 (78 on Inauguration day 2021, should he be elected in November), represents a new generation of Democratic leaders. She also an a historic pick as the first Black and South Asian American woman to appear on a major party’s national ticket.
President Donald Trump, predictably, went on the attack against Harris, saying he though she had been “the meanest, most horrible, most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate” during Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination hearing.
Trump said he vastly prefers his own vice president, Mike Pence, because he’s “solid as a rock.”
Trump also insinuated that by picking a woman for his running mate, Biden is risking insulting and alienating male voters. I am not going further into it than that. If you read my column regularly, I will assume you know what I think of that. If you’re new here, I see no need to scare you off. My personal views will be on my personal blog.
Another top storyline this evening: Many economic experts say that the executive orders Trump signed this past weekend in an attempt to get around Congress in the absence of a pandemic stimulus deal are both illegal and don’t go far enough.
The orders are expected to be challenged in court. There is also a concern about the proposed extension of unemployment benefits. Not only does the president wna to drop the rate from $600 to $400 with no step-down, but there is also a requirement that to get it, you have to be receiving at least $100 from your state’s UI benefits. This requirement could leave out low-income and gig workers who genuinely need the added income.
Also, experts say the additional four to six weeks of supplemental income Trump’s proposed FPUC would provide are not going to be enough to get people through this crisis. Also, it requires states to provide 25 percent of that $400 – and with many states economy already on the brink of failing that is not logical or feasible.
Frankly, it’s not like lawmakers are doing much better. At this point, both Democrats and Republicans are trading insults and heaping criticism on one another while their constituents continue to suffer.
And now, 5 (more) things….
1) Last month, we saw the first two federal executions in 17 years within a single week. Now, many more are scheduled to take place.
One is being protested, not by death penalty opponents or prison reform advocates, but rather by the entire Navajo Nation.
Lezmond Mitchell is a member of the Navajo Nation and the only Native American male currently in federal prison and sentenced to death. The leaders of the Navajo Nation have requested that his sentence be reduced to life behind bars.
The petition was written by Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation; and Myron Lizer, vice president, who pointed out that within their culture, life is sacred. As a result, they maintain that executing Mitchell would be a violation of a core belief of ever member of their people.
Mitchell has been scheduled for execution on Aug. 26. He has convicted for the murder of a Navajo woman and her granddaughter, 9, on a Navajo Reservation in 2001. This case is extraordinary, federal prosecutors usually can not attempt to go for the death penalty in capital crimes committed by Nation residents on a reservation unless approved by the tribe. Tribes rarely agree to capital punishment.
The tribe refused the request for the death penalty for murder, so the prosecutors charged Mitchell for carjacking were able to get the death penalty for that – even over the objections of the Navajos.
This will mark a first in modern legal history, as it will be the first time in the recent past that a Native person is put to death for a crime committed on a Native Reservation between citizens of said reservation.
Since 2002, the tribe has been protesting the sentence and informing the federal government of their objections to the sentencing. Even the relatives of the victims have pleaded for Mitchell to be spared due to their deep-seated reverence for life.
In their letter, Nez and Lizer stated that by pursuing death penalty, federal prosecutors, and by extension, the U.S. government, have already damaged the Navajo Nation’s sovereignty.
All appeals have thus far been overturned. The letter was sent to request a reduced sentence over a week ago. As of today, the tribe has heard nothing from Trump.
2) Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best has abruptly announced her resignation – one day after the City Council voted to cut the SPD budget in response to the protests across the nation calling for police reform.
Best has served Seattle through a turbulent few months, as violence erupted during demonstrations that followed the death in police custody of George Floyd in May.
The Council responded to protestors’ demands with a cut of less than 1 precent, reducing the department’s budget by $3.5 million and investing $17 million into programs for the community instead. The vote was approved seven to one.
Best’s salary was cut by $10,000 – a mere 10 percent of the originally proposed $100,000. Other parts of the reduced budget also came from her officers’ salaries. In her resignation, those cuts seem to be a leading motivator for the Chief’s departure, according to Andrew Lewis, who was the one holdout vote on the Council.
3) Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have been tapped to speak at next week’s virtual DNC.
On Aug. 17, Cuomo will speak on the theme of “we the people.” The governor’s stock has risen thanks to his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in our state, and he was recently elected chair of the National Governors Association.
The next night, Schumer will speak on the theme of “leadership matters.” Few people can remember a time when New York’s senior senator wasn’t representing the state in D.C. He is tenured, steady, and seen by many to be aggressive in both good and bad ways.
Also speaking from New York will be Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently lost a surprise challenge to Cuomo to lead the New York delegation to the DNC. No word yet on the focus of AOC’s speech.
Also unknown is where the three New Yorkers will be speaking from, as the event is mainly virtual this year.
4) The police of both Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs in Saratoga County are warning residents of a rash of thefts lately. These have been both items in unlocked cars, as well as a few incidents involving actual auto theft.
Saratoga Springs had may reports of items taken out of unlocked vehicles within the area of Geyser Crest this morning. There were two autos taken, with only one recovered later today. The BSPD simply reported thefts throughout the village without giving any other specifics.
These thefts come one day after the Saratoga Sheriff’s office announced they had arrested two Schenectady teens for similar issues in Ballston, Clifton Park, and Malta.
If you have any information on the thefts, please contact the appropriate police department. Ballston Spa can be reached at (518) 885-5033 and Saratoga at (518) 584-1899 or anonymously at (518) 584-TIPS.
“Amazon 4 Star” features the products from the popular online retailer that are rated at least four stars by its customers. Last year, 45% of all online retail was done on Amazon.
In the store, Amazon says it will have all new electronics and other tech devices. The company says the store will also stock books and toys.
There is no opening date announced yet.
Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.
Photo credit: George Fazio.