3 crises: cops, COVID, cuts ● Understaffed nursing homes ● Voting rights in Georgia

Wednesday, June 10, 2020




► From the Seattle Times — Manuel Ellis called Tacoma police ‘sir’ as he told them he couldn’t breathe, new video shows — “What we learned from (the new) video is not just that Manny Ellis said, ‘I can’t breathe.’ What we learned is he said, ‘I can’t breathe, sir,’” the family’s attorney, James Bible, said. “A clear sign that it’s not only a struggle for breath but an attempt to still be respectful in your last moments of life. A sign that he wasn’t the aggressive person law enforcement claimed he was.”

► From the News Tribune — State review of Tacoma police Manuel Ellis homicide is the right call (editorial) — This backlash to the killing of the 33-year-old old black man won’t subside until answers are provided and accountability follows. The Tacoma City Council, Mayor Victoria Woodards and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee are right to call for an independent review of Ellis’ homicide — overseen by state investigators, at arm’s length from Pierce County law-and-order agencies. They’re also right to ask for a sense of urgency. Ellis’ family, stuck in limbo since he died in respiratory distress March 3, deserves no less.

► From the Tri-City Herald — ‘Justice and accountability.’ 6,000 sign petition condemning Kennewick police shooting — An online petition is calling for the “immediate and permanent” firing of three Kennewick police officers involved in the February fatal shooting of Gordon Whittaker, a 45-year-old father of seven.

► From KUOW — Big labor makes big demands of Seattle police: Will it mean change? — Big labor is making big demands of the Seattle police union: Get on board with new reforms to address institutional racism and unconstitutional policing, or risk being expelled from the King County labor council. It’s a big deal because Seattle is a labor town. MLK Labor represents over 150 unions and over 100,000 workers. It arguably has more sway over Seattle city politics right now than any other organization. Labor council-backed candidates currently have a supermajority on the Seattle City Council. The City Council voted to approve police union’s last contract in 2018, with some reservations, by an 8-1 vote despite objections of some police critics. At that time, MLK Labor backed the contract. But if the police union — the Seattle Police Officers Guild, or SPOG — gets kicked out of the labor council now, it also loses the protection that comes with being a member of the umbrella organization. Such a move could put tremendous pressure on elected officials to bargain hard with SPOG in future contracts.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — AFL-CIO board takes action on racism, police violence — AFL-CIO backs MLK Labor on Seattle Police Guild demands, but will not oust IUPA. National federation says this moment “requires building a better labor movement from within.”

► From the USA Today — AFSCME president on Floyd killing: No union contract is a shield for police brutality (by Lee Saunders) — Ugly rhetoric from a labor leader, such as the opinions expressed by the president of the independent Minneapolis police union, who is a disgrace to the labor movement and should resign, does not provide an excuse to bash unions… Everyone should have the freedom to join a union, police officers included. Period. The tragic killing of George Floyd should not be used as a pretext to undermine the rights of workers.

► From HuffPost — Florida police group president suspended over ‘despicable’ Facebook posts — The president of a Fraternal Order of Police chapter in Florida was suspended from his position at a sheriff’s office after he sent a Facebook post encouraging cops accused of misconduct in other cities to apply for jobs in Florida.

► From The Guardian — Police unions show lack of diversity in leadership, study finds — In many cities, police officers are more likely to be white than the citizens they are sworn to protect and serve. But this is especially true of the presidents of their unions, the Marshall Project found in an analysis of demographic data from major U.S. police departments.

► From Reuters — Corporations vow to fight racism but face critics on diversity — The unprecedented outpouring of corporate support for the cause of racial justice, has stirred up criticism along with praise. Many social justice advocates, corporate diversity experts and investors say companies also need to focus on equity in their own ranks, especially by hiring and promoting minority workers.

► From the Seattle Times — Protesters, Sawant pour into City Hall Tuesday night; ACLU sues Seattle for ‘unnecessary violence’ — Hundreds of people again came together on Capitol Hill Tuesday night to protest police killings of Black people, gathering by Seattle Police Department’s newly boarded-up, vacated East Precinct and nearby at Cal Anderson Park. This time, there were no officers in sight… Protesters flooded into City Hall after marching down from Capitol Hill, chanting that Mayor Jenny Durkan “has to go.” … Meanwhile, a group of plaintiffs has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city of Seattle, alleging the city has violated the constitutional rights of demonstrators against police brutality and racism by allowing police officers to deploy “unnecessary violence” in controlling and suppressing crowds.

► From the Spokesman-Review — Gov. Jay Inslee to create task force to ‘rethink’ policing — The statewide task force will investigate the use of force as well as the need for a new independent agency to oversee the investigative process after a use of force incident. “We have to rethink policing and public safety in Washington,” Inslee said.

► From the Washington Post — ‘Defund the police’ is a call to imagine a safer America. We should answer it. (editorial) — Ultimately, the call to defund the police should be understood as a call to reinvest in communities and explore new solutions. It asks us to draw on our resources and creativity and to be clear-eyed about the most problematic and painful parts of our policing history. At its core, it is an expression of relentless optimism — in response to the suggestion that things could be a little less bad, it says: We can do so much better.

► From the Seattle Times — The movement to defund the police is wrong, and here’s why (by Jacqueline Helfgott) — Major reforms are underway, police culture is changing, and we need the police.

► From the AP — ‘Cops,’ on air for 33 seasons, dropped by Paramount Network




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, June 10 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 24,354 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 298) and 1,176 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 7)

► From the Tri-City Herald — Inslee extends protections for ‘high-risk workers’ through Aug. 1 — Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday extended a proclamation that enables workers who face a higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 to protect themselves “without jeopardizing their employment status.” The proclamation provides older workers and those with underlying health conditions a series of rights and protections.

► From Politico — White House goes quiet on coronavirus as outbreak spikes again across the U.S. — The coronavirus is still killing as many as 1,000 Americans per day — but the Trump administration isn’t saying much about it. It’s been more than a month since the White House halted its daily coronavirus task force briefings… Inside the White House, top advisers like Jared Kushner privately assured colleagues last month that the outbreak was well in hand — citing data on declines in community spread — and that the long-feared “second wave” may have even been averted, according to three current and former officials. However, new data from states like Florida and mass protests across the country are renewing concerns about the virus’s spread. Texas, for instance, has reported two straight days of record-breaking coronavirus hospitalizations — highs that come shortly after the state kicked off the third stage of its reopening plan.

► From Roll Call — Internal document reveals federal plan to ask nurses to reuse masks — Internal FEMA data show that the government’s supply of surgical gowns has not meaningfully increased since photos first emerged in March of nurses wearing trash bags for protection.

► From the NY Times — This nurse is leading the fight for safer hospitals — Bonnie Castillo, head of National Nurses United, raised the alarm over shortages of personal protective equipment long before others recognized the scale of the pandemic. She’s still fighting.

► From Roll Call — Transport workers still seek enforceable COVID-19 rulesThree months into the coronavirus outbreak, transportation workers say they’re desperate for the Department of Transportation to create enforceable standards to protect them from this and future pandemics. But the DOT’s response, they say, has been consistent: It is not their job. “We shouldn’t have to depend on the goodwill of carriers or involuntary international standards to keep us and our passengers safe in this health crisis,” said Susannah Carr, a United Airlines flight attendant testifying on behalf of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. “We need a mandatory federal standard to keep everyone safe.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, the federal agency created to protect workers, the Department of Labor, says creating workplace infection rules is too hard and complicated.

► From Politico — In absence of federal action, farm workers’ coronavirus cases spike — Coronavirus outbreaks among farm workers are popping up in rural communities across the country, sparking fears within the agriculture industry that cases will skyrocket as harvest season stretches into summer. Like meatpacking plant employees, farm workers have been deemed essential for their role in the nation’s food supply. But the federal government has not made safety rules mandatory, leaving it to farmers’ discretion whether to enact any safety measures at all.

► From Reuters — Special Report: Pandemic exposes systemic staffing problems at U.S. nursing homes — Longstanding problems with staffing shortages and chronic turnover have left nursing homes especially exposed. An estimated 40% of the country’s more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths are connected to long-term care facilities such as nursing homes or assisted-living centers… The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare and deepened these historical staffing problems, according to interviews with nearly two dozen nursing home workers and residents nationwide. Nursing home staffers are quitting in large numbers, these workers said, because of illness fears and what they described as a slipshod emergency response by management.

► From the Seattle Times — Jayapal, other Democratic lawmakers back Amazon employees’ lawsuit over working conditionsU.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, and at least 14 other Democratic members of Congress planned to ask a court to require greater COVID-19 safety measures at an Amazon warehouse in New York.




► From Crosscut — Washington’s coming budget cuts could dwarf those of the Great Recession — State lawmakers are planning an emergency session to plug a hole of at least $7 billion in the state budget. Now, a picture is emerging of what could be on the chopping block. At the request of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, many state agencies submitted options this month for cutting 15% from their annual budgets. Those documents, which state officials began posting online this week, highlight some of the potentially painful reductions lawmakers may have to make in the coming months. Many of the areas targeted for possible reductions are the same ones that took a beating during the last recession. Those include higher education and many social services.

The Stand (June 9) — Higher ed funding faces a perfect storm — The full bill for a house-of-cards public higher ed funding scheme will be coming due. Funding for public universities comes in three buckets — state appropriations, tuition, and self-supporting auxiliaries like dorms and dining halls. All three of those buckets are about to become dumpster fires.

► From the (Everett) Herald — State agencies map out possible cuts to plug budget hole — Layoffs, cuts in human service programs, and delays for a slew of road projects loom if the state is forced to pare billions of dollars in spending in response to a budget crunch brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.




► From the (Everett) Herald — Letters of support for U.S. Postal Service are in the mail (letter to the editor) — I just put in the mail 20 Emmerson Kelly post cards (with matching stamps) to various Washington state and Washington, D.C. politicians of both parties, asking them to do what they can to stop the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service… Right now, in the middle of this pandemic, my heroes are the mail carriers.

The Stand (April 13) — Tell Congress to support our Postal Service!




► From Reuters — Long lines, voting machine problems fuel investigations in Georgia — Voters encountered long lines and problems with voting machines on Tuesday during a chaotic day of in-person balloting. Many voters complained of hours-long waits and voting machines that were not operating. Local news stations showed there were still long lines in some Atlanta polling places at midnight. “I waited for three hours,” said Callie Orsini, 26, who stood in line with hundreds of people in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood on Tuesday.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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