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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: 85,659

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

He's back! No, ranked-choice voting won't stop LePage

With the news that the Maine Republican Party is clearing the field to help former Governor (and current Trumpist caricature) Paul LePage mount a comeback attempt against Governor Janet Mills in 2022, social media once again saw a smattering of posts with a familiar but false idea: Ranked-choice voting will make it more difficult for LePage to win this time around.

“With RCV, LePage will have a very tough time,” tweeted one commenter. “Ranked Choice voting plus Mills’ high approval will make her a tough opponent to beat,” wrote another.

These posts make some sense – both of LePage’s electoral successes came with independent Eliot Cutler also in the race. In 2010, at least, he probably wouldn’t have won if ranked-choice voting had been in effect. His plurality victories by small margins in these races were a big part of the reason behind the implementation of ranked-choice voting in Maine through a citizen-initiated referendum in 2016.

Unfortunately, RCV doesn’t apply in general elections for governor.

In May, 2017, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled in a unanimous opinion that a requirement in the state’s constitution that winners in gubernatorial and legislative general elections receive a “plurality” of the vote prohibits the use of ranked-choice voting in those races.

Read more: https://mainebeacon.com/no-ranked-choice-voting-wont-stop-lepage/

Washington lawmakers have re-criminalized drug possession

Washington was one of the first two states to legalize recreational cannabis. That said, lawmakers don't want the state to be among the first two to do so when it comes to all drugs.

At the ballot box last November, voters in Oregon approved a measure that decriminalized possession of drugs. All of them. A few months later, in February, Washington found itself in an almost identical position as Oregon, except it wasn't by the will of the people. The state Supreme Court struck down Washington's felony drug possession law, declaring it to be unconstitutional. With that action, drug possession was effectively decriminalized.

For a moment, drugs were effectively legalized in the state.

On April 24 the state Legislature passed Engrossed Senate Bill 5476, which is a direct response to the Supreme Court's decision. It says that much in the very first line, which reads, "An act relating to responding to the State v. Blake decision."

Essentially, the bill makes simple possession of controlled substances illegal in the state once again, but as a misdemeanor rather than a felony. While the Supreme Court had effectively decriminalized drugs, this bill will once again make them illegal.

Read more: https://www.inlander.com/spokane/washington-lawmakers-have-re-criminalized-drug-possession/Content?oid=21568599
(Spokane Inlander)

Legislative staffer testifies at ethics committee investigating Idaho lawmaker accused of rape

She told them she was terrified to testify.

From behind three black curtains erected to attempt to protect her identity, she described what led up to the alleged sexual assault that put Wednesday’s Ethics and House Policy Committee hearing at the Capitol into motion.

And when she was allowed to be dismissed from Lincoln Auditorium after questioning, her screams reverberated through the marble halls of the Idaho Statehouse as onlookers pursued her.

The 19-year-old legislative staffer, identified by the committee only as Jane Doe, was subpoenaed to publicly testify — to tell her version of events — of the night of March 9.

She says she met Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, R-Lewiston, that night for dinner. They went back to his apartment. She told police he held her down and forced her to perform oral sex.

Read more: https://idahocapitalsun.com/2021/04/28/ethics-hearing-underway-for-idaho-legislator-accused-of-sexual-assault/

Note - a prior article at the same site indicates that the staffer was compelled to testify by subpoena.

Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, R-Lewiston (left), and his attorney, Edward Dindinger, are seated in the Lincoln Auditorium at the Idaho Capitol before the House Ethics Committee hearing on Wednesday. (Kelcie Moseley-Morris/Idaho Capital Sun).

Bill would create public health insurance option in Nevada

CARSON CITY — With about a month left in the Legislative session, Nevada lawmakers are considering a bill that would establish a state public health insurance option.

Senate Bill 420, led by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, would make the so-called Nevada Option available through the state’s insurance marketplace and state-contracted health insurers. Under the bill, coverage would begin by 2025.

“I think if there’s one thing that the pandemic has absolutely illustrated, it is the need for more affordable health care and sensible health care for Nevadans here in the state,” Cannizzaro said.

“That has absolutely become even more readily apparent as people have lost their jobs; they’ve been kicked off their health insurance; they’ve been struggling to ensure that when and if they get sick during the pandemic, that they’ll be able to have access to health care,” she said.

Read more: https://lasvegassun.com/news/2021/apr/28/bill-would-create-public-health-insurance-option-i/

County considers fund for permanent Vegas mass shooting memorial

Clark County is moving toward establishing a fund for the creation and maintenance of a permanent memorial for the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting.

The 1 October Memorial Committee stopped short Wednesday of establishing the fund or a nonprofit organization to accept or solicit donations honoring the lives lost and changed in the 2017 shooting at a country music festival on the Strip.

But it did direct Clark County staff to draft parameters for a county-managed donation account for the committee to fine-tune before proposing the account to the Board of County Commissioners for ultimate approval.

County parks and recreation manager Lonny Zimmerman said that as an advisory committee to the commissioners, and therefore a government entity, the memorial committee can’t ask for or raise funds. It shouldn’t even bring up the topic in conversation.

Read more: https://lasvegassun.com/news/2021/apr/28/county-fund-permanent-oct-1-shooting-memorial/

Las Vegas police union opposes use-of-force bill

The president of the union representing Las Vegas Metropolitan Police testified Friday against a measure that would require police to use de-escalation techniques before resorting to a higher level of force.

Steve Grammas told lawmakers he opposes the reform measure, Senate Bill 212. Grammas says Metro became “the gold standard of police reform” following intervention from the Department of Justice in 2011.

Standardization of use of force policy should be left to police, he told members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, even though the measure largely reflects Metro’s policies.

“You said this is the policy that you preach. The concern here is not the preach, but the practice,” observed Assemblywoman Shondra Summers-Armstrong. “If LVMPD is the gold standard and there has been an effort by those involved to codify it to make it consistent across the state, which we know is not the case, what is your concern and what is your opposition?”

Read more: https://www.nevadacurrent.com/2021/04/23/lv-police-union-opposes-use-of-force-bill/

A prehistoric petroglyph panel near Moab was defaced with the words 'White Power'

The Bureau of Land Mangement is offering a $10,000 reward for relevant information about those who committed the vandalism

Moab • Near the bottom of a redrock canyon, not far from where Kane Creek empties into the Colorado River, Indigenous people returned to a prominent, cube-like boulder for over 3,000 years to inscribe intricate images on its faces.

Known as the Birthing Rock, the boulder features petroglyphs on all four of its accessible sides that date from the Archaic period to more modern Ute inscriptions, including dozens of ancestral Puebloan-era images, including a woman giving birth.

The canyon is popular with off-road vehicles, mountain bikers and hikers, and although it’s only protected by a low wooden fence, it remained free of the graffiti typical in other popular areas.

Sometime late Monday night or early Tuesday, however, vandals descended on the roadside rock and scratched it with obscenities, a crude penis and the words “white power” directly over the top of two anthropomorphic figures.

Read more: https://www.sltrib.com/news/environment/2021/04/28/prehistoric-petroglyph/
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Former federal judge George P. Kazen dies

George P. Kazen, a U.S. district judge for the Laredo division of the Southern District of Texas for nearly 40 years and whose name now bequeaths Laredo’s federal courthouse, has died at age 81.

Kazen was nominated by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to this seat on the U.S. district court, and he retired in 2018. He was widely regarded for his genius legal mind and was known as a thorough, fair judge.

From 1996 to 2003, Kazen served as chief judge for the Southern District of Texas, and in 2003 the chief justice appointed him to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

He assumed senior status in 2009, but Kazen remained extremely active, handling a third of the Laredo Division’s criminal and civil dockets until his retirement.

Read more: https://www.lmtonline.com/news/article/Former-federal-judge-George-P-Kazen-dies-16135249.php
(Laredo Morning Times)

A gay man was targeted for his rainbow house idea. Dozens responded by helping him paint the

A gay man was targeted for his rainbow house idea. Dozens responded by helping him paint the colorful stripes.

Mykey O'Halloran had finally saved enough money to buy a small beach house on Australia's Phillip Island - and he'd settled on a color scheme he thought was perfect for it.

As a proud gay hair stylist whose Unicorn Manes salon specializes in rainbow-hued designs, O'Halloran has crafted hair to resemble tacos, cheeseburgers and fries. So he figured it made sense to give the beige, three-bedroom and attached guest bungalow rainbow stripes from top to bottom.

But after he moved into the house in February, a few of his neighbors in the island community, population 7,071, didn't agree.

The evening of March 16, O'Halloran said, he heard somebody banging on his door. When he opened it, five angry men confronted him over his plan to paint his house with bright rainbow colors, he said.

Read more: https://www.lmtonline.com/lifestyle/article/A-gay-man-was-targeted-for-his-rainbow-house-16135477.php#photo-20925873
(Laredo Morning Times)

Zaffirini casts 65,000th consecutive vote, maintains perfect voting record

As the Texas Senate considered its Local and Uncontested Calendar on the morning of Monday, April 19, Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, cast her 65,000th consecutive vote, a record unmatched among legislators not only in Texas but also nationwide.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick recognized Senator Zaffirini’s “unbelievable” achievement in the Senate Chamber on Tuesday, April 20 and presented her with a personalized gavel to memorialize the occasion.

Since her first legislative session in 1987, the senator has never missed a vote. In fact, she has maintained perfect attendance throughout her career except for breaking quorum deliberately in 2003 to prevent an untimely re-redistricting that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2006 violated the Voting Rights Act. She didn’t miss any votes then because the Senate couldn’t vote without a quorum.

“Representing the families of Senate District 21 is a tremendous responsibility,” Zaffirini said. “After faith and family, public service is my highest priority. The most fundamental part of that is being present and casting every vote.”

Read more: https://www.lmtonline.com/news/article/Zaffirini-casts-65-000th-consecutive-vote-16127816.php
(Laredo Morning Times)
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