Wednesday, August 19, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Aug. 19 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 68,264 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 635) and 1,809 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 14)
► From the Wenatchee World — Governor announces COVID-19 state resources to address ‘hot spot’ of infections — Gov. Jay Inslee and local health officials announced Tuesday morning that the state will set up a COVID-19 incident command team in Chelan and Douglas counties. The incident command team was established due to the high infection rate in Chelan and Douglas counties. Both Chelan and Douglas have infection rates hovering around 500 people per 100,000 over a two-week period, among the highest in the state.
► From the Spokesman-Review — As cases plateau in the Inland Northwest, older residents are hospitalized and die from the virus at higher rates — Four more residents have died from the virus in Spokane County, bringing the total number of deaths to 105. In Spokane County, where outbreaks at long-term care facilities have remained steady throughout the pandemic, there have been at least 53 deaths from outbreaks at facilities and 416 cases confirmed in conjunction with those settings.
► From the Washington Post — WHO warns young people are emerging as main spreaders of the coronavirus — The WHO warned Tuesday that young people are becoming the primary drivers of the spread of the novel coronavirus in many countries — a worrisome trend experts fear may grow in the United States as many colleges and schools begin to reopen.
► From the Washington Post — University of Notre Dame halts in-person teaching for two weeks as virus count climbs — Michigan State University also announced Tuesday that it will teach most courses remotely starting Sept. 2, scrapping plans for some in-person and hybrid instruction.
► From the Seattle Times — Smattering of COVID cases pop up on campuses as Washington colleges prepare for fall term — In Washington — where most colleges are on the quarter system and don’t start classes until late September — the quads are largely empty, and cases have been few and far between.
► From the Washington Post — What it’s like to be a flight attendant during the pandemic — Flight attendants have always had unique occupational hazards, from managing bad behavior onboard to balancing perpetual jet lag. But the pandemic has brought even more (and tougher) challenges for the essential workers. They’ve faced backlash as the enforcers of airlines’ tightening mask policies. They’ve worried for the health and safety of their family members, colleagues and themselves. And like many during this global health and economic crisis, their jobs are more at risk than ever.
► From KUOW — Uber and Lyft drivers in Seattle could get a raise. Here’s what the city proposes. — Uber and Lyft drivers need a raise, according to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the union representing drivers. The intent is that, after the pandemic is over and customers return, drivers will make minimum wage, even after you consider all their expenses – like car maintenance and health care. Minimum wage is $16.39 per hour.
► From the Columbian — Census tally returns tax money to county (editorial) — Clark County residents have done an admirable job of making sure they are counted — thus far. But more work remains as the federal government continues compiling the 2020 U.S. Census. Washington reportedly has the third-highest response rate in the initial stage of the decennial count, with 69.6 percent of households responding. And within Washington, Clark County has the highest rate, at 74 percent… Look at it this way: If you are paying taxes, you might as well take part in the census to help bring more of that money back to our community.
The Stand (May 5) — Be counted: Participate in the 2020 Census by mail, phone or online
► From the News Tribune — Students unable to gain teacher certification due to WA requirement, COVID restrictions — Graduate students from the University of Washington in Tacoma are asking state leaders to waive an assessment they need to obtain their teacher certifications but are unable to complete because of COVID-19 restrictions amid a statewide teacher shortage. Washington is one of only a few states that require aspiring teachers to take the edTPA to gain their teacher certifications. The Washington Education Association has advocated to get rid of the assessment entirely.
► From the Seattle Times — State AG Ferguson announces lawsuit intended to protect vote-by-mail after changes at postal service — Ferguson alleged that the changes — like removing mail-processing equipment, shutting down postal distribution centers in Washington and limiting overtime for mail carriers — ran afoul of federal laws requiring the U.S. Postal Service to follow a specific process for making changes.
► From the Washington Post — Postmaster general announces he is ‘suspending’ policies blamed for mail delays — The U.S. Postal Service said it will shelve its controversial cost-cutting initiatives until after the November election, canceling service reductions, reauthorizing overtime and suspending the removal of mail-sorting machines and public collection boxes. Tuesday’s reversal comes hours after at least 21 states announced plans to sue the mail service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, arguing that policy changes widely blamed for mail slowdowns will interfere with their abilities to conduct elections. DeJoy is poised to address those issues at a Senate hearing Friday, then go before a House panel on Monday with Robert M. Duncan, chairman of the USPS Board of Governors.
ALSO TODAY from The Stand — Postal workers’ union: “This fight is far from over” — Postmaster General Louis DeJoy says he’ll “suspend” his USPS cuts, but the APWU says Congress must do its job and save the public’s Postal Service.
► From Roll Call — House to take up $25 billion for Postal Service, other fixes amid election uproar — The House will vote Saturday morning on a bill that would include $25 billion in new funding for the U.S. Postal Service and reverse changes implemented in recent weeks to mail delivery and operations.
► From Roll Call — Scaled-back GOP aid package would write off $10 billion postal loan — A “skinny” version of coronavirus relief legislation that Senate Republicans are planning to roll out this week would turn a prior $10 billion loan to the U.S. Postal Service into a grant if the agency’s financial condition deteriorates.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This offers no new resources to the besieged Postal Service. Meanwhile, 4 out of 5 Americans support the House proposal to give more money to the Postal Service. Contact your senators and tell them to INSIST on that $25 billion in funding!
► From the Washington Post — How Trump was able to shape the Postal Service board to enact a new agenda — After years without a voting quorum, Trump was able to reshape the once-obscure Postal Service Board of Governors in three years into a behind-the-scenes powerhouse that is setting his priorities in motion, possibly for years to come.
► From TPM — USPS quietly added rule prohibiting workers from signing mail-in ballots as witnesses — The USPS enacted a rule this summer banning its clerks from signing mail-in ballots as witnesses while on duty, a restriction that can prevent the ballots from being counted.
► From Politico — Postal Service cuts imperil ladder to middle class for many Black Americans — Postal workers say DeJoy’s policies would make it nearly impossible to cope with sweeping changes that are affecting their jobs every day.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
► From the People’s World — Tefere Gebre, nation’s top Black labor leader, challenges Dems on racism — Saying “systematic racism is alive and well in 2020,” AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre challenged union members and the Democratic Party as a whole to confront it and campaign hard for comprehensive solutions to the nation’s longest-lasting and most-corrosive chasm. And increasing unionization is one big part of that solution, he declared.
► From the Washington Post — As Breonna Taylor protests stretch into 12th week, calls for officers’ arrests intensify — Five months after Breonna Taylor’s death, Kentucky’s largest city has become the epicenter of the national movement for racial justice, weathering more than 80 days of protests as activists pour into the streets calling for charges against the police officers involved in her fatal shooting. Backed by professional athletes and A-list celebrities, the protests have put mounting pressure on investigators and prosecutors, who are urging patience even as officers in other high-profile deaths have been quickly suspended, fired and charged. “We’re not going to wait forever,” said attorney Lonita Baker, appearing with Taylor’s mother Thursday after meeting with Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R). “We do want this resolved quickly and accurately.”
► From Politico — California police reform push could shift the national conversation — California cops battled previous attempts by state lawmakers to rein in the use of force. Now, they are active participants in negotiations to curtail policing powers, a sign of shifting dynamics that means California could, yet again, set the national standard on a major policy debate.
► From the Washington Post — Joe Biden officially becomes the Democratic Party’s nominee on convention’s second night — Joe Biden officially secured the Democratic nomination for president Tuesday, winning votes cast by party delegates scattered across bridges, beaches and statehouses in 57 states and territories in an online spectacle that marked the first virtual national party roll-call vote.
The Stand (May 27) — AFL-CIO endorses Joe Biden for President
The Stand (May 27) — Labor celebrates selection of Kamala Harris
► From the Washington Post — The DNC’s second night was about normal, decent people. We need more of them. (by Jennifer Rubin) — In the ordinary-American-turned-star category, Jacquelyn Brittany, the elevator operator in the New York Times building, spoke earnestly. She recalled that when Biden met her, he “saw” her, and he “has room in his heart for more than just himself.” The trip around the country for the roll call, putting delegates in their home states and territories, was wonderfully entertaining and uplifting, a lovely reminder of the diversity and beauty of the country. Of all the virtual elements that should survive if we return to regular conventions, this tops the list.
► From the NY Times — Jill Biden, in DNC speech, highlights pandemic concerns among teachers and parents — Dr. Biden, who worked as a full-time professor at a community college even while she served as second lady, spoke to the challenges educators are facing during the pandemic in her prime-time speech.
► From Politico — Teachers unions test goodwill with strike threats, hardball negotiations — Teachers won newfound respect at the start of the pandemic as parents learned just how difficult it was to teach their kids at home. But teachers unions now risk squandering the outpouring of goodwill by threatening strikes, suing state officials and playing hardball during negotiations with districts. In addition to safety measures, some unions are pressing for police-free schools, canceling rents and mortgages, and bans on new charter programs and standardized testing.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Shockingly, this is a news report, not an opinion column. So, when teachers ask for non-safety provisions in contract talks they are jeopardizing public goodwill? I guess that’s what you can expect from an anti-union employer like Politico. Alternative headline: “Teachers ask for what they want. Reporters ask: Can they do that?”
► From the Washington Post — Average CEO earnings soared to $21.3 million last year and could rise again in 2020 despite the coronavirus recession — Fueled by a surging stock market, CEO compensation climbed to its highest level in seven years last year and could be poised to rise again in 2020, despite the widespread layoffs and pay cuts of the coronavirus recession.
► From the Washington Post — Uber and Lyft don’t want to make California drivers employees, so they’re on the verge of shutting down — The companies are threatening that they will be forced to shut down after a court in San Francisco last week ruled that drivers for their apps are employees, not independent contractors, under state law. The decision gave them 10 days to make their drivers employees. But the companies must retool their apps to support the employment model, corporate officials said, and cannot meet that deadline. A California Court of Appeal is expected to rule as soon as Wednesday on their plea to stay that decision during their challenge.
OH. AND THEN, THERE’S THIS…
► From the NY Times — Republican-led Senate panel details ties between 2016 Trump campaign and Russia — The sprawling report provided a bipartisan Senate imprimatur for an extraordinary set of facts: The Russian government disrupted an American election to help Trump become president, Russian intelligence services viewed members of the Trump campaign as easily manipulated, and some of Trump’s advisers were eager for the help from an American adversary. The report confirms Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings at a moment when Trump’s allies have sought to dismiss them… Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s willingness to share information with Konstantin Kilimnik, a “Russian intelligence officer,” and others affiliated with the Russian intelligence services “represented a grave counterintelligence threat,” the report said.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.