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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 77,696

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

A Chicago Psychiatric Hospital Is Under Fire After Child Abuse Allegations. Again.

by Duaa Eldeib

A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Cook County public guardian alleged that children as young as 7 were sexually abused, while others were injected with sedatives to control them and physically attacked, at a Chicago psychiatric hospital. Child welfare officials, meanwhile, allegedly worked with the hospital to cover up the abuse.

Charles Golbert, the Cook County public guardian, filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven children who are in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and who had been involuntarily admitted to Chicago Lakeshore Hospital in 2017 and 2018.

“These kids are entitled to justice for what happened to them at this facility,” Golbert said in an interview Wednesday. “DCFS knew perfectly well about all of the problems and dangers at this hospital.”

He added that he hoped the lawsuit sent a strong message to DCFS: “You cannot keep kids at placements once you know the placement is dangerous.”

Read more: https://www.propublica.org/article/chicago-lakeshore-hospital-child-abuse-allegations-federal-lawsuit

What Happens When a Health Plan Has No Limits? An Acupuncturist Earns $677 a Session.

Judging by the marketing, it would seem that the teachers of New Jersey have collectively thrown out their backs, pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve while engaged in rigorous educating.

Last fall, when teachers at about a dozen New Jersey schools returned from break, employees from Thompson Healthcare & Sports Medicine welcomed them with bagels and orange juice. The clinic’s owner also created an empathetic YouTube video titled “We Understand Painful Conditions Suffered By Teachers.”

NJ Spine and Wellness offered catered lunches, chairside massages and prizes at “Teacher Wellness Days.” “Want us to come to your school?” the chiropractic business asks educators in an online ad.

Other acupuncturists, chiropractors and physical therapists have donated cash, supplies and even wheelchairs to local schools and districts. On social media, some dangle the promise of a stress-relieving rubdown. “Contact our office about medical massage included as part of our chiropractic services,” says one post.

Read more: https://www.propublica.org/article/what-happens-when-a-health-plan-for-teachers-has-no-limits-an-acupuncturist-earns-677-a-session

Why Biden Is Leading

By Robert Kuttner

There is one key reason why Joe Biden is ahead in the national polls despite his lapses on the campaign trail, his loss of focus in debates, and the sense that he is an old man from another era. He has made his campaign about one thing—getting Donald Trump out of office.

And that’s the one thing that unites Democrats of the center and the left. Consider this TV spot, drawn from speeches in which Biden effectively makes the case that his campaign has one paramount goal—ousting Trump.

Now this doesn’t mean Biden would make the most effective Democratic candidate against Trump. I happen to think that Biden’s serial weaknesses as a campaigner would enable Trump to eat him alive, not to mention the embarrassment and distraction of Hunter Biden. The former vice president’s son is both a lightning rod and a trigger for Biden’s temper, as well as an unsavory reminder of similarities with Trump’s family.

The puzzle is not why Biden is making the defeat of Trump the centerpiece of his campaign for the nomination. The puzzle is why other candidates are whacking away at each other rather than going after Trump.

Read more: https://prospect.org/blogs/tap/why-biden-is-leading/
(American Prospect)

Pelosi Can Save Obamacare With a One-Line Amendment

By Jon Walker

On Wednesday, two conservative justices on the Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals came to a truly insane ruling that could undermine the entire Affordable Care Act. The case involves the now-toothless individual mandate. Explaining all the ways this ruling is a shockingly bad-faith assault on the basic idea of constitutional governance would take too long, so I will leave that for others. The crux of the decision is this: Since Republicans lowered the individual mandate penalty to zero dollars, it is no longer constitutional, and that somehow could mean that the entire Affordable Care Act should be unconstitutional. (The Fifth Circuit actually punted on this crucial second step, leaving it to a lower court to decide whether the whole ACA should be thrown out.)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi now needs to step up to end this nonsense.

The decision was written in such a way to draw out appeals for years, giving Republicans hope of replacing one or more of the liberal Supreme Court justices with a radical who would vote for this nonsense sometime after the election. This leaves millions of people and businesses in a weird limbo, not knowing whether the protections they rely on will remain long term.

Democrats have mostly ignored this case, given the baseless logic behind it. But there is an easy solution. The whole legal argument depends on the fact that Republicans used reconciliation to pass the 2017 tax bill through the Senate with a simple majority. Due to the restrictions around reconciliation, Republicans couldn’t technically repeal the mandate in total, instead just lowering the penalty to nothing. The case effectively goes away if Congress either adds back in a penalty (even of just one cent), or just officially repeals the mandate, thereby severing it from the whole health care law.

Read more: https://prospect.org/health/pelosi-can-save-obamacare-with-a-one-line-amendment/
(American Prospect)

South Dakota sues to keep Equal Rights Amendment off U.S. Constitution

By Lisa Kaczke

South Dakota is suing the archivist of the United States to prevent the addition of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg announced on Wednesday that the state is joining Alabama and Louisiana in a federal lawsuit against Archivist David Ferriero, who oversees the ratification process, "to stop activists from illegally amending the U.S. Constitution."

The Equal Rights Amendment is a constitutional amendment passed by Congress in 1972 to guarantee the equal rights of men and women.

Ravnsborg said the duty of the state attorney general is to defend the South Dakota Legislature, and he would be doing a disservice to South Dakotans to ignore that obligation. The South Dakota Legislature ratified the ERA in 1973 but then rescinded its ratification in 1979.

Read more: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/politics/2019/12/19/south-dakota-sues-keep-equal-rights-amendment-off-u-s-constitution/2697209001/

Randy Seiler elected chair of South Dakota Democratic Party

By Lisa Kaczke

The South Dakota Democratic Party has a permanent leader again after its leadership resigned in September.

The state party's Central Committee elected Randy Seiler to serve as the chair on Saturday, according to a party announcement. Seiler, the party's vice chair, has been serving as the interim chair since Paula Hawks resigned as chair in September. SDDP Executive Director Stacey Burnette jointly resigned with Hawks.

Nikki Gronli, chair of the Minnehaha County Democratic Party, was elected by the Central Committee on Saturday to fill the vice chair being vacated by Seiler.

Seiler said he plans to stay in the position until 2021. He told the Argus Leader in September that he wasn’t planning to seek election as the permanent chair but changed his mind after he began to work on straightening out the party's financial problems.

Read more: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/politics/2019/12/07/randy-seiler-elected-chair-south-dakota-democratic-party/4352503002/

State-Tribal Relations group scolds Noem administration for not attending meeting

By Arielle Zionts

Legislators on the State-Tribal Relations Committee criticized Gov. Kristi Noem's administration for not sending anyone to attend the group's meeting Wednesday in Rapid City.

I'm "greatly disappointed and embarrassed that there’s no one here from the governors’s office. I think that it’s greatly disrespectful" to the committee and tribal chairmen in attendance, said Sen. Lance Russell, who represents parts of Pennington, Custer and Fall River counties. "As a Republican, I am embarrassed that the leader of my party would not give us any indication as to this bill draft" to create an emergency fund for pipeline spills.

The absence of the executive branch from the meeting at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel came up when committee members began discussing whether or not to recommend the pipeline spill bill, which would be funded by pipeline companies and maintained by the state. It would allow individuals, municipalities and tribal nations to immediately access funds if they are impacted by a spill rather than recover their losses through a lawsuit.

Speaking over the phone, Sen. Jordan Youngberg, a Republican who represents District 8 on the eastern side of the state, called for a motion saying that the committee will stay neutral on the proposed bill until it has the chance to speak with Noem's administration, the attorney general and the Department of Natural Resources. But that was voted down based on arguments from Russell and others who said state officials had their chance to comment about this bill at this meeting and one on Nov. 12. The committee instead voted 8-1 to recommend the bill.

Read more: https://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/state-tribal-relations-group-scolds-noem-administration-for-not-attending/article_a60e61ff-1100-5b38-bcfb-e917c4d6a941.html

Kennecke Catches up with Noem's Nepotism for Kennedy and Kyle

By Cory Allen Heidelberger

Crack KELO-TV investigative reporter Angela Kennecke is getting around to recycling my consistent coverage of Governor Kristi Noem’s nepotism. Kennecke has finally noticed what I reported on October 1: that in addition to the 2.5% raise that the Governor’s daughter Kennedy received on July 1 along with all other state employees under the new FY2020 budget, the least experienced policy analyst in the Governor’s office snagged another 13% raise:

In July, along with all other state employees, Kennedy Noem got a 2.5% salary boost, bringing her income to $51,250.

…According to South Dakota’s transparency website, Open SD, Kennedy Noem is now making $57,912 a year. That’s a nearly 12% pay increase in five months [Angela Kennecke, “Governor’s Daughter Gets Hefty Raise,” KELO-TV, updated 2019.12.11].

Wait—”nearly 12%”? First, Angela, don’t undermine good reporting with sloppy math. Kennedy’s salary as of October 1, $57,912.50, divided by her listed salary on June 27, $51,250, equals exactly 1.13. In three months, the Governor gave her daughter exactly a 13% raise.

But the larger point is that Governor Noem is asking for all state employees to accept zero raises in FY2021, now that she has locked in a full gubernatorial term’s worth of raises for her daughter. (Noem also made sure her son-in-law Kyle Peters got a 5.0% raise on top of his July 2.5% increase well before she declared budget austerity.) That’s good reason for KELO to ask the Governor why her daughter, for whom this state job is her first employment out of college, is making all this bank:

Governor Noem’s office replied to our questions in an email which reads: “Kennedy Noem’s salary increased after she was assigned more duties. Those duties include more policy work and additional responsibilities. Like most employers, we review compensation on a periodic basis to ensure salary is aligned with job duties.” —Emily Kiel, Communications Director, Office of the Governor [Kennecke, 2019.12.11].

Read more: http://dakotafreepress.com/2019/12/12/kennecke-catches-up-with-noems-nepotism-for-kennedy-and-kyle/

Money Available for Wind Farms and CAFO Bribes, Not for Teachers and State Employees

by Cory Allen Heidelberger

Remember how back in September the state Board of Economic Development rejected Triple H Wind Farm’s request for a sales tax kickback? Just kidding—Merry Christmas!

The state board on Wednesday went into closed executive session to go through matters. The votes in open session afterward were unanimous and without discussion.

The board approved a reinvestment payment for Triple H Wind Project LLC of up to $4,828,058 — 50-percent of the state sales and use taxes paid on eligible costs — for a wind farm in Hyde County.

The company, based in Houston, Texas, will receive the payment. The board had voted 8-3 in September to reject an application from Triple H after the Governor’s Office of Economic Development staff recommended a denial [Bob Mercer, “Despite Tight State Funds, S.D. Projects Get Millions of Dollars in Sales-Tax Rebates,” KELO-TV, 2019.12.12].

The Board of Economic Development yesterday authorized another $2,966,507 in kickbacks to Houston-based Tatanka Ridge Wind. The BED also handed out to more CAFO bribes: $1,302,278 for Minnesota-based Riverview LLP to convey to Clark County and $217,926 for Leaning Oak to surrender to Spink County for pleasure of stinking up the countryside and potholing the roads.

That’s $9,314,769 handed out in one meeting to mostly wealthy corporations who would have built their projects with or without our tax breaks and county bribes while our Governor says we don’t have the money to give thousands of teachers or state employees cost-of-living salary increases.


Note: CAFO = Concentrated animal feeding operation

Let's All Incorporate!

by Cory Allen Heidelberger

Hultgren Construction LLC broke the law and caused a worker to die. If you and I do that, South Dakota will put us in prison for years or maybe even kill us. But if a corporation does that, South Dakota leaves it to a federal court to make the corporation pay $50 and serve a year’s probation while its insurers pay restitution to the people it harmed. And its owner, Aaron Hultgren, doesn’t even have to show his face in court to face that minimal music. He just declares bankruptcy and walks away.

I yield the floor to Mr. Ehrisman for an apt comparison:

Only in SD we would find it appropriate to charge people with a crime for ingestion, think industrial hemp is recreational pot, but if someone collapses a building do to negligence and kills a person, they walk away with NO jail and a $50 fine [Scott Ehrisman, “It’s Hard to Charge a Bankrupt LLC with a Crime in South Dakota,” South Dacola, 2019.12.16].

Maybe we all need to incorporate ourselves. That would keep the government off our backs.

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