Happy Tuesday, CivMixers!! I know it feels like summer is over after this weekend has passed, but remember, Labor Day is only the unofficial end to summer. I hope everyone had an excellent long weekend.
There were some strange events in the headlines this weekend. In California, what was supposed to be a simple sex reveal (because it is a sex and not a gender reveal) party led to the start of yet another wildfire in a season of already record-breaking infernos.
On Saturday, surveillance cameras in the area of the El Dorado Ranch Park located in Yucaipa, San Bernardino County in Southern California, caught a group of people, including children, gathered in a celebratory group. One of them appears to light a device meant to generate smoke to reveal the sex of an unborn child (despite warnings about not lighting fires in the area). The smoke billows and the group can be seen panicking and trying to douse the flames to no avail.
The resulting fire has spread to over 10,500 acres and, as of this morning, was only 16 percent contained.
The video is not being released as the investigation is ongoing. But from the pictures, it appears the baby is a boy.
Also, on a beautiful sunny Saturday, on a calm lake, five boats were sunk from the wake of other ships while participating in a Pro-Trump Boat Parade. I am not inserting any personal comments here, I am merely including it in my list of weird stuff that happened this weekend and moving on.
So, let’s get to it, shall we?
1) In Washington, D.C. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, announced today that there would be a vote on a truncated, $500 billion coronavirus relief bill, though it stands very little chance of passing. Senators returned to Capitol Hill today for a pre-election and foreshortened session.
The division on passing this aid bill seems to be affecting Congress’s ability to pass anything at all at this point.
As some focus on trying to hold their seats, Senate Republicans have become more and more divided. The Democrats may be in the minority in the chamber, but they are pushing for more extensive bills supported by the Democrat-controlled House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California.
Democrats first proposed a $4 trillion spend for this relief bill and then offered to cut it to $2 trillion to get it passed, but Republicans continued to balk.
As for Senate Republicans, those in embroiled states genuinely hurting by the summer shutdowns are trying to show their states that they are working for them, trying to help them recover – and others are balking at more excessive spending. There will likely be a test vote this Thursday, though Senate Minority Leader Schumer, New York’s senior senator, and Pelosi have already voted it will fail.
The proposal calls for schools to receive $105 billion for re-opening costs, as well as an initiative introduced by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz that would give a two-year tax break to anyone who donates to nonprofit organizations that offer private school scholarships. Also in the bill is $46 billion for COVID testing and vaccines, and money for farmers and child care providers.
It also reduces the enhanced federal pandemic unemployment payments from $600 to $300 a week, which the Democrats staunchly oppose.
2) After experiencing record-high temperatures in late September, Colorado residents today woke up to snow.
Sunday, the thermometers went to 99 degrees, with Fort Collins, CO, hitting 100 on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Today, there wasn’t merely a dusting of snow, but an accumulation of .3 inches on the ground. According to the Colorado Climate Center located at Colorado State University, this is the earliest that snow has accumulated in 130 years of record keeping.
According to experts, not much, if any, of the white stuff will stick around long, since the ground is still retaining warmth from the weekend highs, but it is clear to all that this is an historic weather event.
However, the drastic swing in temperature is not suitable for either people’s plants or any animals that live outdoors. Becky Bolinger, assistant state climatologist for CO, said that extreme heat is becoming the norm, as a result of climate change, though this significant swing is still being studied.
Though Colorado has always been known for extreme temperature changes, this latest incident is a new development. Both climate experts and the NWS are hopeful that this shift could help officials get control over the wildfires that are still raging in parts of the state.
3) In Rochester, the third-largest city in New York, with a population of around 200,000, fallout continues from the released bodycam footage of the killing Daniel Prude, 41. Today, the city’s police chief, La’Ron Singletary, announced his retirement. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren confirmed this to the City Council in a meeting this afternoon.
Every member of Singletary’s current command staff is also departing.
In March, RPD officers were called to assist Prude, who was mentally ill. Though he complied with the officers, allowing himself to be handcuffed, the naked man also had a spit hood put over his head and was pushed face down and held there in the snow (the video is graphic) for approximately two minutes. A week later, when taken off life support, Prude died.
Not until the release of the video was any action taken against the officers on the scene. Though officials have said that they were following their training, seven officers have been suspended while an investigation is pending. State AG Tish James said over the weekend that she will empanel a grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.
The release of the video has again reignited protests that started with the death in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25. In Rochester, there have been six days of increasingly violent demonstrations, as well as ever-growing peaceful protests.
Singletary’s retirement paperwork is submitted, but not yet processed. Once details are settled, an interim police chief can be named.
4) We love our apples and our apple orchards here in the Capital District, and a new a study from a senior extension associate at Cornell Agri Tech, the Hudson Valley Research Laboratory, shows we have some cause for concern, identifying two different species of fungus that have never before been seen here.
The fungi can both cause severe rot disease in not only apples but many other fruits. If protective measures are not taken promptly, apple losses for organic growers could be total at 100 percent and go as high as 25 percent for everyone else.
As of right now, the fungi are restricted to some growers in the Hudson Valley.
5) Early Sunday morning, there was a fatal crash in Austerlitz on Route 22. State Police troopers were called to the scene by a passing vehicle at around 12:45 a.m., north of Osmer Road. When they arrived, there was one vehicle that had left the road and hit multiple trees and a utility pole.
Driver Kevin C. Jones, 30, of Troy, was pronounced dead on arrival.
Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.
Photo credit: George Fazio.