Politics

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Huffman Calls Congressional Oath to God "Unconstitutional," "Preposterous"

Posted By on Wed, Sep 4, 2019 at 2:08 PM

North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman is again making waves as Congress’ only proclaimed “humanist.”

During an interview on the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s Freethought Matters program, Huffman, a lawyer by trade, said he believes requiring Congressional witnesses to pledge an oath to God is unconstitutional.

“It’s unconstitutional to require a witness in congressional testimony to affirm an oath to a deity they may not even believe in or to affirm an oath to a singular deity when you might be a polytheistic Hindu, for example,” Huffman said. “It’s just preposterous.”


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Monday, August 19, 2019

Newsom Signs Landmark Police Use-of-Force Bill

Posted By and on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 12:25 PM

California will soon have a tougher new legal standard for the use of deadly force by police, under legislation Gov. Gavin Newsom signed today that was inspired by last year’s fatal shooting of a young, unarmed man in Sacramento.

Newsom signed the legislation amid unusual fanfare, convening numerous legislators, family members of people who have died in police shootings and advocates including civil-rights leader Dolores Huerta in a courtyard at the Secretary of State’s building used in the past for inaugurations and other formal events.

The governor contends that with Assembly Bill 392 in place, police will turn increasingly to de-escalation techniques including verbal persuasion, weapons other than guns and other crisis intervention methods.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill. - PHOTO BY DAN MORAIN, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Dan Morain, CalMatters
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill.

“I would hope that if AB 392 had been law last year, that our family would not have to be mourning Christopher’s first angelversary today,” Barbara Okamoto said in a statement.

Her grandson, Christopher Okamoto, was killed in Bakersfield last Aug. 19, when police responded to a domestic violence call. He had a pellet gun.

The law reflects a compromise between civil-rights advocates who want to limit when police can shoot and law enforcement groups who said earlier versions of the bill would have put officers in danger.

Under the new law, which takes effect January 1, police may use deadly force only when “necessary in defense of human life.”

That’s a steeper standard than prosecutors apply now, which says officers can shoot when doing so is “reasonable.” One of the most significant changes will allow prosecutors to consider officers’ actions leading up to a shooting when deciding whether deadly force is justified.

“This will make a difference not only in California, but we know it will make a difference around the world,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat who carried the legislation.

The law doesn’t go as far as civil libertarians originally proposed and will likely leave it to courts to define what a “necessary” use of force is in future cases. The negotiations led a few early supporters, including the group Black Lives Matter, to drop their support and major statewide law-enforcement organizations to drop their opposition. After a year of contentious testimony over how to reduce police shootings, the final version of the bill sailed through the Legislature with bipartisan support.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Rollback of Endangered Species' Protections Raising Fears

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 2:53 PM

A wild-hatched condor. - COURTESY OF REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK
  • Courtesy of Redwood National Park
  • A wild-hatched condor.
The Trump administration’s move to weaken what many see as key aspects of the Endangered Species Act is garnering outrage and pushback, with critics fearing a greater deterioration of the natural world amid the planet’s growing biodiversity crisis.

Credited with saving the bald eagle — among many iconic species, including several on the North Coast — and giving others —  like the condor — a fighting chance, the ESA was enacted in 1973 by then-President Richard Nixon.

That year, fewer than 500 pairs of the United States’ national symbol were left in the wild while today some 10,000 sets of the stealth raptors with a distinctive snowy white head are found just in the lower 48 states alone.

While the ESA has seen many successes over the years, the rollbacks expected to be enacted soon come on the heels of a United Nation’s report released in May that found “the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world.”

According to an Aug. 12 joint announcement from U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ESA regulatory changes are “designed to increase transparency and effectiveness and bring the administration of the Act into the 21st century.”

“The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal —recovery of our rarest species. The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation,” U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, an attorney and former oil industry lobbyist, said in the release. “An effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation.”

Meanwhile, conservation organizations like Center Biological Diversity are sounding the alarm bells about what these changes could spell for already at-risk species like the polar bear and are mounting a campaign to reverse the alterations.

“We can stop this disaster, but it's going to require pulling out every stop,” a post on the center’s website states. “Tell your member of Congress to do everything in their power to defend wildlife and uphold the Endangered Species Act in this time of extinction crisis.

Read the USFW and NOAA release below:


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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

UPDATE: Republican Party, Trump Take on Golden State Over Tax Returns

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2019 at 12:14 PM

UPDATE:

Following in the footsteps of Judicial Watch, President Donald Trump and his campaign and the Republican state and national parties filed two separate lawsuits today over the tax return law recently signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Each case alleges California’s move to make releasing a candidate’s tax returns a prerequisite to being placed on the state’s primary ballot was unconstitutional.

"We will not allow California's Democrats to use the state's voters as pawns in their petty political vendettas to trample all over the Constitution," RNC National Committeewoman and Vice President of the Republican National Lawyers Association, Harmeet K. Dhillon said in a release. "This law is a cynical and illegal voter suppression scheme whose sole purpose is to deny California voters their Constitutionally protected right to vote for qualified candidates for president, and to suppress the Republican vote in California not just for president but also for all the down-ticket races, ballot measures and power grabs the Democrats have in store for the 2020 ballot."

State Sen. Mike McGuire, who co-authored Senate Bill 27, shot back at Trump and what his office deemed “a frivolous lawsuit against the state of California.”

“Releasing of tax returns has never been a big deal, up until now. All presidents have done it for 40 years,” McGuire said. “It comes as no surprise that President Trump would freak out at the prospect of presidential transparency and accountability, but he will need to get used to it. Welcome to the rule of law, Mr. President.”

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Judicial Watch, a self-described “conservative, non-partisan educational foundation” that “promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law,” is suing the state of California over a law that requires presidential and gubernatorial candidates to show their personal taxes returns to get on the primary ballot.

The federal lawsuit comes just as the ink sets on Senate Bill 27, with Judicial Watch arguing the legislation adds requirements “beyond those allowed by the U.S. Constitution and impermissibly burdens a voters’ expressive constitutional and statutory rights.”

Gavin Newsom - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law July 30, stating that “these are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence.”

Co-penned by North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire McGuire — who  praised Newsom’s signing as a victory for transparency — and Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, presidential hopefuls and gubernatorial candidates must now produce “copies of every income tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service in the five most recent taxable years with the Secretary of State, at least 98 days prior to the corresponding primary election.”

Mike McGuire
  • Mike McGuire
In a release, Judicial Watch alleges S.B. 27 is political in nature and outside the bounds of California’s “legitimate constitutional role in administering and establishing procedures for conducting federal elections.”

The foundation points to concerns raised by former Gov. Jerry Brown when he vetoed similar legislation back in 2017.

“Today we require tax returns but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?" Brown wrote in his veto message.

Echoing those remarks (and quoting them), Judicial Watch says the precedent being set by the Golden State could have far-reaching repercussions.

“Using rationales similar to California’s, states might come to demand medical records, mental health records, sealed juvenile records, driving records, results of intelligence, aptitude, or personality tests, college applications, Amazon purchases, Google search histories, browsing histories or Facebook friends," the release states.

Ultimately, the foundation argues, the tax return policy boils down to a direct rebuke to President Donald Trump, who has refused to turn over his tax information in reversal of a tradition that dates back half a century.

“California politicians, in their zeal to attack President Trump, passed a law that also unconstitutionally victimizes California voters,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in the release. “It is an obvious legal issue that a state can’t amend the U.S. Constitution by adding qualifications in order to run for president. The courts can’t stop this abusive law fast enough.”

Read the full Judicial Watch release below:


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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

With Newsom’s Signature, Presidential Hopefuls Now Have to Show Us Their Taxes

Posted By on Tue, Jul 30, 2019 at 1:37 PM

Gavin Newsom - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom today signed legislation brought forward by North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire that requires presidential hopefuls to release their tax returns in order to run in the Golden State’s primary election.

“These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence,” Newsom says in a statement. “The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest.”

While candidates for the nation’s highest office have traditionally turned over the financial papers for more than half a century, President Donald Trump is, of course, the notorious exception to the rule in refusing to make his taxes public.

(Side note: The pre-Trump established practice of releasing tax returns is widely touted as dating back to President Richard Nixon, but he didn’t start the ball rolling voluntarily. It was only after his were leaked to the press — showing he wasn’t paying much — that Nixon turned over more on his own accord, setting the stage for future candidate who would do the same. Until 2016.)

McGuire, who was joined in penning Senate Bill 27 by Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, called Newsom’s signature a “huge victor for transparency.”
A previous version was vetoed by former Gov. Jerry Brown, who questioned whether it could withstand a legal challenge and warned of “the political perils of individual states seeking to regulate presidential elections in this manner.”

“Today we require tax returns but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?" Brown wrote in his veto message.

But McGuire followed through on his promise last July — in the wake
Mike McGuire
  • Mike McGuire
 of President Donald Trump’s widely condemned joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland — to try again and reintroduced the legislation in December.

Senate Bill 27 will require a candidate for president or California governor to file “copies of every income tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service in the five most recent taxable years with the Secretary of State, at least 98 days prior to the corresponding primary election.”

Included as an addendum to Newsom’s statement are comments from three attorneys — described as “Nationally recognized leaders in constitutional law” — who voiced their support and assurances that the bill would withstand a legal challenge.

“SB 27, which requires that presidential candidates disclose tax returns, is constitutional. It does not keep any candidate from being on the ballot so long as he or she complies with a simple requirement that is meant to provide California voters crucial information,” says Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

“This is the state acting to make sure that its voters have information that might be very important to them when they cast their ballots as to who they want to be president of the United States.”

But not everyone sees it that way.

A statement from RNC National Committee member and Vice President of the Republican National Lawyers Association Harmeet K. Dhillon calls the bill a “cynical and illegal voter suppression scheme” aimed at suppressing the Republican vote.

“It’s sad that Gov. Newsom decided to ignore the sage and measured approach taken by his predecessor, Gov. Brown, in vetoing similar legislation due to the manifest illegality and policy implications of this effort,” Dhillon’s statement reads. “And yet again, California voters are used as pawns by a Democratic Party substituting cheap gimmicks such as this law, for policy solutions to California’s many ills. This ill-conceived law is doomed to failure."

Read Gov. Newsom’s statement below:

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Monday, April 8, 2019

McCloskey Out of First District Supes Race

Posted By on Mon, Apr 8, 2019 at 2:19 PM

Allen McCloskey - MCCLOSKEY FOR SUPERVISOR, FACEBOOK
  • McCloskey for Supervisor, Facebook
  • Allen McCloskey
Allen McCloskey has withdrawn his candidacy to become Humboldt County’s next First District supervisor in the face of fraud and perjury allegations reported last week by the Lost Coast Outpost.

“The last two months (and more notably the last two weeks) have been incredibly difficult for me as an individual, for my immediate and extended family, for the campaign team, for our friends and for so many people who I love and admire,” McCloskey wrote in a 2,400-word statement posted to his campaign Facebook page yesterday. “This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain. The blog hit piece, the bias and one-sided reporting, endless personal attacks, have caused untold damage to family, friends and political supporters. … As a result, and after much reflection and careful consideration, I cannot in good conscience allow these forces to continue to damage my family, friends and colleagues. … For the time being, we will walk away from this particular campaign with our heads held high and our commitment to our collective vision intact.”

The Outpost’s Ryan Burns penned a lengthy and thorough investigative report last week, much of which focused on perjury and fraud allegations from 16 years ago. When Burns confronted McCloskey with the allegations during an interview, McCloskey responded that he’d been the victim of identity theft.

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Fisticuffs in First District Supes Race

Posted By on Thu, Apr 4, 2019 at 4:40 PM

unknown.jpg
It’s been a bare-knuckle week in the upstart campaign to become Humboldt County’s next First District supervisor.

First, Tuesday afternoon, the Lost Coast Outpost’s Ryan Burns published an impressive piece of investigative journalism detailing allegations of fraud and perjury in challenger Allen McCloskey’s past and the candidate’s seeming inability to offer a clear explanation for them. Anyone who hasn’t read the piece should check it out here. But the Cliff’s Notes version is as follows: In 2004, McCloskey was working as a consultant for Kleen Environmental Technologies, which was seeking a biomedical waste disposal permit from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. According to transcripts of commission hearings, it appears McCloskey forged a letter in support of Kleen’s application then lied about it. When called on those lies, he either suffered a medical emergency or feigned one, after which he allegedly fled the state. When questioned about all this by Burns, McCloskey said it wasn’t him but a doppleganger ex-boyfriend who stole his identity and committed the fraudulent acts and perjury in an effort to make big money off of Kleen.

McCloskey didn’t return a Journal call seeking comment for this story but told the Times-Standard’s Shomik Mukherjee that his attorneys and campaign committee are crafting a “very stern response” to Burns’ report, that he has no intention of dropping out of the supervisorial race but that he “didn’t specifically deny any of the Outpost’s reported claims.” He also seemingly blamed incumbent Rex Bohn’s campaign for the Outpost story, saying, “This is the kind of campaign Rex always runs.”

It’s unclear if the information from McCloskey’s past surfaced as a result of opposition campaign research. The Journal received copies of the transcripts of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission hearings referenced in the Outpost’s reporting but the source who provided them is not affiliated with either campaign. No matter how they surfaced in Humboldt County, the transcripts are all available through the commission’s website.

Less than 24 hours following the Outpost’s bombshell report, local political organizer and McCloskey supporter Renee Saucedo sent out an open letter to local media calling on Bohn to resign and relaying allegations of a racist remark made at a recent nonprofit fundraiser. Apparently word had been quietly spreading about the comments since the March 9 fundraiser for Ferndale Repertory Theatre at the Carson Mansion but Saucedo chose the morning after the McCloskey report to blast it out to local press.

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Photos from Saturday's March for Our Lives

Posted By on Sun, Mar 24, 2019 at 12:52 PM

Sunny Brae Middle School Student Nova Vaur held a sign asking, "Who's next?" at Saturday's March for Our Lives in Arcata. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Sunny Brae Middle School Student Nova Vaur held a sign asking, "Who's next?" at Saturday's March for Our Lives in Arcata.

Yesterday some 100 marchers gathered at the Arcata Playhouse to hear students and local leaders speak before setting out on the second March for Our Lives. The local iteration of the national student-based protest march against gun violence started last year as part of the grassroots movement launched by survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. See the slideshow below for photographer Mark McKenna's images of the event.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Original Women's March Organizers Host Conference Honoring International Women’s Day

Posted By on Sun, Mar 10, 2019 at 11:36 AM

The Raging Grannies lead a sing-along with the crowd. - PHOTO BY MEGAN BENDER
  • Photo by Megan Bender
  • The Raging Grannies lead a sing-along with the crowd.

When, citing the lack of diversity among its organizers, the original group planning the 2019 Women’s March decided to postpone the event, which ultimately went forward under new leadership, they decided to take a different approach and plan for International Women’s Day.

In spite of backlash, they expanded their group, kept making plans and hosted a conference at the Labor Temple on March 9. An estimated 60 people were in attendance.

The Womxn Building Community Power group wanted to create a space for members of the community to educate each other on women’s issues in a more direct format as an an alternative to just a march.

Committee member Jennifer Be said this was a decision made not necessarily instead of the march, but as more of a kick-off for future events.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

California, 15 Other States Sue Trump Over 'Manufactured' Crisis

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2019 at 12:20 PM

gavel.jpg
Sixteen states, including California, are suing the Trump administration over the border national emergency declaration, filing a complaint Monday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The states are alleging that Trump’s move is “unlawful and unconstitutional” and based on a “manufactured ‘crisis’” despite evidence that unlawful border entries are at a 20-year low, immigrants are less likely than to commit crime and illegal drugs are usually smuggled via official ports of entry.

“He is willing to manipulate the Office of the Presidency to engage in unconstitutional theatre performed to convince his audience that he is committed to his ‘beautiful’ border wall,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a Feb. 18 press release.

“Today, on Presidents Day, we take President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power. We’re suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states. For most of us, the Office of the Presidency is not a place for theatre.” he continued.


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