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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit Area, MI
Home country: USA
Current location: San Francisco, CA
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 02:53 PM
Number of posts: 37,000

About Me

Partner, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.

Journal Archives

Federal judge unhappy with NC's controversial change to absentee ballot rules

A federal judge on Wednesday blasted the State Board of Elections’ recent change to the rules for absentee ballots, arguing that the move effectively overturns state law that requires voters to have a witness sign their mail-in ballot.

The elections board — as part of a proposed legal settlement that has caused two resignations from the board and a political uproar — set a new process for ballots that don’t include a witness signature. Elections officials would contact the voter and have them sign a “cure” form that confirms that they are indeed the person who submitted the absentee ballot.

Previously, voters who didn’t include a witness signature could be contacted and told to submit a new absentee ballot with a witness. State legislators who backed the witness requirement say it’s a key safeguard against the kind of absentee ballot fraud that marred the 9th Congressional District election in 2018.

But multiple lawsuits have challenged the requirement, arguing that requiring a witness signature during a pandemic could be an unfair burden to voters who live alone and might be avoiding contact with others due to COVID-19.

That issue was litigated once in federal court in August, where U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen upheld the witness requirement — with the caveat that ballots submitted with a “material error” shouldn’t be thrown out without “due process.”


Republicans look to break '100% Democratic monopoly' on Mecklenburg board

Three competitive races for Mecklenburg County commissioners could potentially restore some conservative voices to a nine-member board that’s currently comprised of only Democrats.

Shifting voter demographics that fueled 2018’s blue wave — particularly in northern and southern areas of the county — may also propel another supermajority, crowding out Republicans Jim Puckett and Matthew Ridenhour, who are vying to reclaim their old seats.

It depends heavily on whether coronavirus conditions deteriorate this month, and how the momentum for high-profile federal and state races trickles into down-ballot voting, political consultants told The Charlotte Observer in recent interviews.

“Ordinarily, you’d say Puckett and Ridenhour have a good chance because they’re long-term public officials. They’ve run successfully before — they’re in districts that have lots of Republicans,” said Eric Heberlig, a political science professor at UNC Charlotte. “But they’re running in a political environment that’s probably working against them this year.”

Sarah Reidy-Jones, vice chairman of the Mecklenburg County Republican Party, said the lack of GOP representation is “not healthy” for local government. She expects President Donald Trump and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest will help persuade voters to cast their ballots all the way through to municipal races.

“Ordinarily, you’d say Puckett and Ridenhour have a good chance because they’re long-term public officials. They’ve run successfully before — they’re in districts that have lots of Republicans,” said Eric Heberlig, a political science professor at UNC Charlotte. “But they’re running in a political environment that’s probably working against them this year.”

Sarah Reidy-Jones, vice chairman of the Mecklenburg County Republican Party, said the lack of GOP representation is “not healthy” for local government. She expects President Donald Trump and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest will help persuade voters to cast their ballots all the way through to municipal races.


Biden ends his Amtrak tour with a message for blue-collar Pa. voters: Trump 'doesn't have a plan to

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Joe Biden capped a daylong train tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania on Wednesday by emphasizing his connection with middle-class America, forged over decades spent taking Amtrak from Washington home to Delaware every night to be with his children.
“I want to thank the good people of Amtrak who kept me moving today, and throughout my whole career,” Biden said at an evening drive-in rally here. The Democratic presidential nominee said Amtrak “brought me back to my home base every single night. ... I always remembered what and who really mattered.”

He recalled long rides looking out “at all those homes I’d pass, middle-class neighborhoods like I was raised in,” and talking to passengers about their hopes and needs, before contrasting that with President Donald Trump, whom he called a “self-serving, self-entitled president.”

“He doesn’t have a plan to help you or deliver relief to the people who need the most help,” Biden said of Trump.

Biden’s 10-hour “whistle-stop tour” started in Cleveland, the site of Tuesday’s presidential debate. Earlier in the day, Biden called the debate a “national embarrassment.” The acrimonious and chaotic nationally televised forum was marked by Trump’s repeatedly interrupting Biden, personal insults, and continuous cross-talk between the candidates and moderator Chris Wallace. That prompted the presidential debate commission to say Wednesday that it would make changes to the format to avoid a repeat.


Memory sticks used to program Philly's voting machines were stolen from elections warehouse

A laptop and several memory sticks used to program Philadelphia’s voting machines were stolen from a city warehouse in East Falls, officials confirmed Wednesday, setting off a scramble to investigate and to ensure the machines had not been compromised.

Though it remains unclear when the equipment was stolen, sources briefed on the investigation said the items vanished this week. The laptop belonged to an on-site employee for the company that supplies the machines. It and the USB drives were the only items believed to have been taken.

City officials vowed Wednesday that the theft would not disrupt voting on Nov. 3.

“We are confident,” said Nick Custodio, a deputy to Lisa Deeley, chair of the city commissioners, who oversee elections, “that this incident will not in any way compromise the integrity of the election.”


Mayor Kenney says Philly is preparing for voter intimidation after Trump's debate comments

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Wednesday that the city is preparing for the possibility that supporters of President Donald Trump will try to intimidate voters on Election Day, after Trump falsely singled out in Tuesday night’s debate it as rife with voter fraud, and reiterated a call to supporters to monitor polling places in the overwhelmingly Democratic city.

“Based on his comments, we’re going to be making an inter-agency plan for that day,” Kenney told The Inquirer on Wednesday.

Kenney said the city welcomes official poll watchers, who must be certified by the state and sponsored by a campaign or political party. But he added that if Trump’s comments lead to uncertified monitors intervening at polling places, police may need to stop them.
“People are simply not allowed to stand around there and intimidate people,” Kenney said.


State House GOP pushes ahead plan for 'election integrity' panel

HARRISBURG — A proposal to set up a Republican-majority state House panel to review the fall election, with subpoena power and money to operate, was muscled out of committee Wednesday over loud Democratic objections.

The resolution would establish a Select Committee on Election Integrity to look into how the election is being regulated and conducted and to help determine if new legislation is needed, possibly before the Nov. 3 vote.

“I think my constituents would have grave and serious concerns that this somehow would be conducted in a manner that could interfere with said election,” said Rep. Pam DeLissio, D-Montgomery.

The resolution, which GOP leaders said will likely get a final House floor vote Thursday, was approved on a strictly party-lines vote by the House State Government Committee. As a House resolution, it does not require approval by the Senate or governor.

Democrats said they were concerned about Republicans launching partisan investigations into the election in the weeks ahead of Election Day.

“Democracies die slowly,” said Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia. “And I think that this bill would be a fatal blow to our democracy.”

State Government Chairman Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, said his intention as the resolution’s main sponsor was to have the committee generate forward-looking recommendations.

Democrats said they were worried about the resolution’s wording, which says the select committee should recommend “legislative, regulatory or other changes to improve the conduct of the 2020 general election or subsequent elections.”


Efforts by Trump supporters to win Amish voters could backfire

FREDERICKSBURG — The village of Fredericksburg drew roughly 500 people last weekend to watch a parade supporting the 45th U.S. president roll through downtown.

The "Trump Train Parade" featured horse-drawn buggies, wagons, trucks and motorcycles. Sponsored by Bikers For Trump, the parade was intended to energize the Amish community in support of President Donald Trump, said Chris Cox of South Carolina and founder of the political organization Bikers For Trump. A similar event was planned for Saturday.

According to a researcher at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, and local Amish community members, the Amish historically do not engage in political matters or vote in presidential or other elections, except occasionally when local issues are on the ballot. It remains to be seen whether outreach efforts such as the parade and rally are effective in increasing the number of Amish voters.

Some Amish people said, for example, that they were put off by the display of a buggy decorated with political flags.

One participant in last weekend's parade, who rode in a horse-drawn wagon, isn't Amish and is not old enough to vote. But 17-year-old Sophie Miller still wanted to show her support. She attended the parade with two Amish cousins, who also are not of voting age.


MI-06: Fred Upton campaign ad says Jon Hoadley voted to defund the police. That's not true.

A television ad from incumbent U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., attacks his Democratic challenger, state Rep. Jon Hoadley, for a vote he cast in June in Michigan’s House.

“Hoadley voted against law enforcement, siding with defund the police, making families less safe,” the narrator in the ad claims.

The ad features Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, who claims that “what Hoadley did to vote to defund the police was wrong.”

But Hoadley didn’t vote to defund the police.

Upton’s ad cites Hoadley’s June 17 vote against a resolution adopted by the Michigan House that discourages local governments in Michigan from defunding or abolishing their local police departments. Resolutions offer the Legislature a way to state its priorities, but they are nonbinding.

he resolution did not propose to increase or decrease funding for local police departments, whose budgets are determined at the local level.

Bailey stands by his claim that Hoadley voted to defund the police. “It is concerning when Jon Hoadley — who sits on the Appropriations Committee — talks about how frustrating it is that ‘everything but police got cut’ or how important it is to discuss ‘reprioritizing parts of our budget.’ Then, just weeks later, he chooses to vote against a resolution that discourages local governments from defunding or abolishing their police departments,” Bailey said in a statement to PolitiFact Michigan.


Faith group deletes mentions of Barrett from its website

Washington – A religious organization tied to Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, sought to erase all mentions and photos of her from its website before she meets with lawmakers and faces questions at her Senate confirmation hearings.

Barrett, a federal appeals judge, has declined to publicly discuss her decades-long affiliation with People of Praise, a charismatic Christian group that opposes abortion and holds that men are divinely ordained as the “head” of the family and faith. Former members have said the group’s leaders teach that wives must submit to the will of their husbands. A spokesman for the organization has declined to say whether the judge and her husband, Jesse M. Barrett, are members.

But an analysis by The Associated Press shows that People of Praise erased numerous records from its website during the summer of 2017 that referred to Barrett and included photos of her and her family. At the time, Barrett was on Trump’s short list for the high court seat that eventually went to Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Last week, when Barrett again emerged as a front-runner for the court, more articles, blog posts and photos disappeared. After an AP reporter emailed the group’s spokesman Wednesday about members of Jesse Barrett’s family, his mother’s name was deleted from the primary contact for the South Bend, Indiana, branch. All issues of the organization’s magazine, “Vine and Branches,” were also removed.


MI-06: Hoadley bid aims to make history as Michigan's first gay congressman

If elected this fall, Democratic state Rep. Jon Hoadley would be the first openly gay member of Congress from Michigan.

First, he has to do something no Democrat has managed for 34 years: defeat U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, a moderately conservative Republican from St. Joseph and Michigan's most senior member in the U.S. House.

"It speaks to the fact that this race can make some additional history when we win. But it's not why you run," Hoadley said.

"The fact that I'm openly gay gives me a view of the world, with my lived experiences, that make me more empathetic to everybody else that's ever felt like they've been pushed out of a conversation, or shut down in a conversation because they didn't have the right credentials or background."

Hoadley, 37, of Kalamazoo has incorporated his partner, Kris, into campaign ads. In fundraising appeals, he reminds donors that his victory would represent another "first" for Michigan in Congress.

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