Wednesday, December 2, 2020

MN Approves Line 3 Pipeline

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (D) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, pushed through the Final Permit for Line 3 Pipeline. This means Construction could start Immediately, unless the MN Department of Commerce (DOC) supports an Emergency Stay on Construction.

Local Tribes and Water Protectors, including the Red Lake and White Earth Nations, have already Filed a Motion for a Stay on Construction that almost All Parties support, except the DOC. With the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Reviewing the Motion this Friday.

Enbridge must Not be Allowed to Build the Pipeline while there are Pending Legal Challenges and a Raging Pandemic. Rushing Construction of this Pipeline will Spread COVID-19, and irreparably Damage MN's Water, Land, and Climate.

Line 3 is a Disastrous, Unnecessary, Tar Sands Pipeline that would Create more Pollution than 50 Coal Plants, Threaten Hundreds of Waterways with Oil Spills and Leaks, and Violate the Treaty Rights of Several Tribes.

All Indications are that Gov. Walz and Enbridge will attempt to Start Construction before the End of the Year, despite the Risk Out-of-State Workers pose during the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Multiple Pending Lawsuits against the Project. Gov. Walz’s DOC has this One Last Chance to Stand with his Agency Experts, Scientists, and Elected Officials including his Own Lieutenant Governor and listen to the Facts.

Activists and Water Protectors in MN are doing everything they can to Stop the Pipeline. They’re holding a Press Conference with Health Professionals today to Discuss the Pipeline’s COVID-19 Risk. And they’ll be at the PUC Hearing on Friday, December 4th, to Push the PUC to Rule in Favor of the Motion for a Stay. And, of course, they’re taking Non-Violent, Direct Action to Slow the Construction.

The DOC has Supported the Movement in the past, including Refiling their Appeal against Line 3 back in August. Supporting a Stay would be the Logical next step in making sure their Appeal is Protected and the Legal Process is Upheld, to keep the Land, Waters, and People of Minnesota, Healthy and Safe.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

AK's New Elections System Challenged in State Court

A Lawsuit filed in Alaska State Court Tuesday by Members of Three Political Parties argues the New System must be Stopped before it Violates Alaskans' Right to Free Political Association, Free Speech, Petition, Due Process, and other Rights Guaranteed by the U.S. and State Constitutions.

If the Suit fails, starting in 2022, the Traditional Partisan Primaries will be Eliminated in Favor of Single Contests Open to All Candidates for Governor, State Executive Offices, the Legislature, and Congress. The Top Four Finishers, Regardless of Party, will advance to a General Election reliant on Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV).

Alaska Independence Party, Chairman Robert Bird, Libertarian, Scott Kohlhass, and Republican Attorney, Kenneth Jacobus, Sued a day after the State Certified that the Ballot Measure prevailed by just 3,800 out of 344,000 Votes Cast, a Margin of 1 Percentage point.

The Plaintiffs argue this New Election System will Prevent Voters from Participating in their Political Party's Process for Selecting Candidates to Represent them and the Party in a Manner Consistent with the Party's Rules.

"All political parties may select their candidates in accord with the rules of each party. This right to do so is a right guaranteed to each party and its members by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, applicable to the defendants through the Fourteenth Amendment and the Constitution of the State of Alaska. This right of all political parties and their members has been confirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States," the Lawsuit argues.

In addition, the Suit maintains, Electoral History in the State suggests that only Democrats and Republicans will Advance to the November Ballot, "leaving no room for members of other parties."

Defendants include the State Division of Elections and Election Officials. The Alaska Department of Law "will review the pleadings and respond in a timely manner," Spokesperson Maria Bahr said.

In Addition to making Alaska the Only State other than Maine using RCV for almost All Contests, the Ballot Measure also Imposes New Campaign Finance Disclosure Requirements for Legislative and Local Races.

The Supreme Court Approved the Top-Two Primaries. With a Top-Four, there is a better chance that Minor Party Candidates get to the General Election.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Trump Bilks Millions From Supporters to Fund PAC Pockets

Trump has raised more than $170 Million from his Aggressive Fundraising Campaign for his Election Lawsuits, but the Majority of the Money is actually going to the New Political Action Committee he will set up After he leaves the White House on Jan. 20th, 2020.

"Our democracy and freedom is at risk like never before, which is why I'm reaching out to you now with an URGENT request," a recent Email to Donors from Vice President Mike Pence read. "President Trump and I need our STRONGEST supporters, like YOU, to join the Election Defense Task Force. This group will be responsible for DEFENDING the Election from voter fraud, and we really need you to step up to the front lines of this battle."

Though the Emails Claim that the Money is for the "Official Election Defense Fund," No such Account Exists yet. But the Fine Print on the Messages says the First $5,000 or first 75% of Every Donation greater than $5,000 goes to Save America, a New Political Action Committee formed by Trump in Mid-November. The other 25% goes to the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Trump and his Allies have Failed in Most of the Lawsuits and presented No Verified Evidence of Widespread Fraud or Irregularities that would Overturn the Result in any State. But it is a huge boon for Trump's Political Future as he reportedly Plans to Launch a 2024 Presidential Bid. In fact, earlier Fundraising Appeals directly noted that much of the Money would be used to Pay Down his Debt.

The $170 Million raised across Four Weeks is more Money than Trump raised during the Peak of his Campaign, and it is enough to "have paid off any remaining Trump campaign debt,". The Campaign Struggled to Raise enough Money to keep up with President-elect Joe Biden after Blowing $1 Billion early in the game.

Trump's Leadership PAC saw its Best Month in September, when it raised $81 Million. The Campaign has also begun to Automatically Enroll Donors into Weekly Donations, which Critics have slammed as "misleading." Rob Flaherty, who Served as the Figital Director for Biden's Campaign called the Tactic "plain and simple grift."

The Fundraising Boon means Trump's Assault on the Presidential Election is Not likely to End anytime soon. Trump Advisers said most of the Money had come from Small-Dollar Donors.

"Small donors who give to Trump thinking they are financing an 'official election defense fund' are in fact helping pay down the Trump campaign's debt or funding his post-presidential political operation," Brendan Fischer, the Director of Federal Campaign Finance Reform at the Campaign Legal Center said. "The average donor who gives in response to Trump's appeal for funds to 'stop the fraud' likely doesn't realize that their money is actually retiring Trump's debt or funding his leadership PAC."

Because of the way the Money is Split, "only bigger donors who've maxed-out to Trump's campaign or the RNC will see any portion of their contribution go to dedicated recount or legal funds," he added.

"The RNC has spent tens of millions of dollars over the last two years funding legal efforts in multiple states, and we continue the fight for election integrity across the country," RNC Spokesperson, Mike Reed said.

The Report noted that Leadership PACs have little Restrictions on how they can Spend Money, meaning the Funds could be used to Pay for Events at Trump's own Properties to Pay for his Travel and Personal Expenses.

Some Republican Donors have Publicly Criticized Trump's Tactics. "He's taking advantage of all the free media coverage to pay off his campaign debt and fill his coffers for whatever comes next." GOP Donor, Dan Eberhart, said.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Preparing Voters for Historic 2021 NYC Elections

ElectNYC is a Project of Citizens Union Foundation and Gotham Gazette, with the Support of the Ford Foundation. As New York’s Oldest Good Government Group, Citizens Union has been providing Reliable, Non-Partisan Information, about Local Elections and New York City Council, for over a Century.

New York City Voters will have a Lot to Decide in 2021. Gotham Gazette will be an Integral Part of a Major New Project led by its Parent Organization, Citizens Union Foundation, aimed at Educating Voters in advance of the Historic, Immensely-Important 2021 New York City Elections.

In 2021, New York City Voters will Elect a: New Mayor; Comptroller; at least Four New Borough Presidents; and Dozens of New City Council Members. The rest of City Government will also be on the Ballot, including Seats where Incumbents are expected: Public Advocate; Queens Borough President; and roughly 15 City Council Membors in the 51-Seat Body, and for the First time using Rank-Choice Voting (RCV).

ElectNYC, will include a Voters Guide website with Information on: Offices, Races, and Candidates; Original Reporting led by Gotham Gazette; an Education and Outreach Campaign, including Local Candidate Debates; and more. It will be Led by Veteran Journalist, Eleanor Randolph, who was on the New York Times Editorial Board for 20 years, and a Team under her Direction, working closely with the Gotham Gazette Team under the Leadership of Executive Editor, Ben Max.

ElectNYC will include a Special Focus on City Council Races in Communities with traditionally Low Voter Turnout and Little Local Media Coverage.

Citizens Union Foundation (CUF) is a Nonpartisan Good Government Organization focused on Voter Education and Government Accountability. For more than 20 years, CUF’s most Prominent Program has been publishing Gotham Gazette, a highly-regarded, independent Online News Publication that covers New York City, State Government, and Politics. Gotham Gazette is known for its in-depth Policy and Political Coverage, Election Guides, morning Newsletter, The Eye-Opener, and its tough accountability Reporting with particular focus on the Mayor, City Council, Governor, and State Legislature, among other Powerful Figures and Institutions.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 Candidates are expected to Run for the more than 60 City Government Seats that will be on the Ballot, with only a Small portion of those Seats held by Incumbents seeking Re-Election.

As is usually the case in New York City, most of the action will take place in Democratic Primaries, given the City’s Overwhelming Democratic Voter Registration tilt. For the First time, RCV Primaries will be in June 2021, instead of Sept., meaning even greater importance of Voter Education sooner rather than later.

Voters will need to be Educated on RCV, which will allow Voter's to Rank up to Five Candidates in such Elections and seeks to ensure that the Winners of Crowded and Competitive Elections have a Broad Base of Support.

ElectNYC will Hire Journalists to cover Local Races, build a User-Friendly Website, and disseminate Information about the Elections in Communities throughout the Five Boroughs through Traditional and Social Media Campaigns, and Host Local Candidate Debates. While paying Special Attention to Races in Underserved Communities with Low Voter Turnout, the Project will also Partner with Local Community-based Nonprofits to help reach Residents of those Neighborhoods.

For most New Yorkers, even those who follow Politics and Government Affairs closely, the 2021 City Elections will simply be Overwhelming. ElectNYC will help make sure it is less so, while ensuring that Voters have Information they need and can Engage with Local Politics and Elections that are so Essential to their Future and that of New York City.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

ACLU Sues DHS for Records on Purchased Cell Phone Data to Track Immigrants

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is ramping up efforts to obtain Records of the Trump Administration's reported Purchase of Cellphone Data to Track Locations of Immigrants.

The ACLU on Wednesday filed a Lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), demanding the Agencies release the Records. The Group says it has waited for more than Nine Months for DHS, CBP, and ICE, to produce the Records through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The ACLU alleges the Government Agencies bought Access to Databases containing "precise location information for millions of people," gathered by Apps running on Smartphones.

First Reported in February that the Trump Administration was Buying Access to such Data through a Company named Venntel that was Selling access to a Database.

"The agencies' purchase raise serious concerns that they are avoiding Fourth Amendment protection for cell phone location information by paying for access instead of obtaining a warrant," the ACLU wrote in the Lawsuit.

In 2018, the Supreme Court held in Carpenter vs. United States that Collecting Significant Quantities of Historical Data Location from Cellphones is a Search under the Fourth Amendment and requires a Warrant.

The ACLU said in the Suit the Records "would contribute significantly to the public's understanding" of how the agencies use "invasive surveillance technology both at the border and within American communities, and whether they are complying with constitutional and legal limitations on unreasonable searches."

CBP Officials confirmed to Senate Staff, in September, that it was Tracking Phones using Venntel's Product, according to a Group of Democratic Senators who urged a DHS Watchdog Investigation into the Tracking.

The DHS's Internal Watchdog, on Wednesday, said in a Letter to Five Senators that it would Probe the Department's Tracking of Americans' Phone Data without a Warrant.

The Investigation was Opened in response to an Inquiry from: Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (OR); Elizabeth Warren (MA); Ed Markey (MA); Sherrod Brown (OH); and Brian Schatz (HI), in October.

"If federal agencies are tracking American citizens without warrants, the public deserves answers and accountability," Wyden said in a Statement Wednesday. "I won't accept anything less than a thorough and swift inspector general investigation that sheds light on CBP's phone location data surveillance program."

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Federal Court has Upheld NY's Law Allowing Undocumented Immigrants to Apply for Driver's Licenses

A Federal Court has Upheld New York’s Law allowing Undocumented Immigrants to Apply for Driver's Licenses against a Lawsuit brought by an Upstate County Clerk who Claimed the Law would make him Personally Liable for Violating U.S. Immigration Policy.

In a Ruling issued Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Affirmed a Lower Court’s Dismissal of Erie County Clerk, Michael Kearns’s 2019 Lawsuit, seeking to Block the State’s Green Light Law.

Kearns had Sued Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), State Attorney General, Letitia James (D), and New York’s Department of Motor Vehicle Commissioner, Mark Schroeder, on grounds that he could be Prosecuted under Federal Immigration Law for Performing certain Duties under the Green Light law, which Shields the Personal Data of Applicants from Federal Law Enforcement.

Once the Green Light Law took Effect December 2019, Kearns posted “If you see something, say something” Signs in the Erie County Auto Bureaus with an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Tipline Phone Number.

Judge, Barrington Parker, issued the Appellate Ruling Monday after Kearns Appealed.

“The Green Light law is legal and enforceable, and today’s decision marks the third federal court to dismiss challenges brought seeking to enjoin the law.”, James said in a Statement Monday.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

NYC's Greenhouse Gas Output Increased from 2017-2019

New York City’s Greenhouse Ggas Output Increased between 2017 and 2019, setting back hopes of Cutting the Emissions by up to 40% by 2030, a New Environmental Progress Report shows.

Measured from the 2005 Baseline set under the Administration of then, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Emissions were Down only 15% as of last year, after having Decreased by 18.2% between 2005 and 2017, according to City Hall’s recently released OneNYC 2020 Update.

While the Push to Reduce Emissions is a Decades-Long Haul, with Stakes raised Last Year by City Council Legislation to Cut Greenhouse Gases 80% by 2050, the Uptick raised Concerns from Environmentalists.

‘It’s a little troubling that emissions have gone up rather than gone down — and we’re moving in the wrong direction on that front.”, said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker