GOP Senators Work to Take Health Care from Millions of People

Nel's New Day

While millions of people in the United States were focused on the Senate testimony of former FBI director James Comey, the Republicans were sabotaging health care for a large percentage of people in the nation. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced this goal at the annual Road to Majority conference organized by Ralph Reed and the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Amidst a drum beat of calling Democrats obstructionists, DDT said that restoring freedom means taking away health care from millions of people. A 13-senator group has been planning in secrecy, hoping to push a vote by July because, according to Sen. Roy Blount (R-MO), “I don’t think this gets better over time.” In other words, they know it stinks.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)  is desperate because the bill has to meet the approval of both House and Senate by September 30 in order to use the process of reconciliation…

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A Thank you Sonnet to Leadership Centre County

The web of programs and issues in Centre County

On our final LCC retreat, eight groups of members of the 2017 class of Leadership Centre County crafted a visual representation of all of the program issues/days held over the ten months of the program. The top left picture shows our view of how these different issues are connecting in our county.

Over the last ten months, 50 leaders from the for the profit, the non-profit, and the local government groups in Centre County, PA came together for a training and networking to increase our knowledge and multiply our skills to help the citizenry throughout the county.

This program has been held for the last 25 years by Leadership Centre County.The Mission of Leadership Centre County is to increase the community’s pool of servant leaders by:

  • Bringing diverse individuals together for networking, education, and exposure to community issues, opportunities, and needs;
  • Encouraging increased participation for leadership in civic service; and
  • Creating a support network for present and future leaders.

This is my thank you to Leadership Centre County for this wonderful training and experience.

Sonnet to Leadership Centre County

September to June we came together

50 people from around the county

Knowing a little, wishing for better,

We worked together for civic bounty.

 

We joined each other for play and hard work

At camps, wineries, some parks, and two prisons

In towns and museums, streets, and some kirks

We got to see new ideas and great visions

 

Each day was diverse. You could say unique

In juntos often, with programs, we’ll lead

Taking time and effort to share our technique

25 years and counting we can now accede

 

We have loved your wonderful bounty.

So Thank you, Leadership Centre County.

Another Light Sentence for Rape — Nel’s New Day

On July 22, 2014, the Montana Supreme Court censured Yellowstone County Judge G. Todd Baugh for using rape myths that reduced the sentence of a rapist to 31 days in jail. They also suspended him from the bench and remanded the case back to another judge in Yellowstone County to resentence Stacey Rambold.

The story shown below about Californian Nolan Bruder sounds eerily familiar.  California Judge William H. Follett, just like G. Todd Baugh in Montana used rape myths to explain the light sentence he handed down to this convicted rapist. In the Rambold case, Pennsylvania NOW and Montana took several action steps to stop this type of judicial misbehavior.

Along with Ultra-Violet, we initially circulated a petition to the Montana Judicial Standards Commission and followed that up with an official complaint attaching over 240,000 signatures from outraged people around the world.  Subsequently, when the case was appealed to the Montana Supreme Court, Montana NOW, Pennsylvania NOW, Legal Voice, Sexual Violence Law Center, Women’ Law Project, and Legal Momentum filed an amicus brief before the Montana Supreme Court documenting the rape myths that Baugh used in determining and handing down the sentence he gave to former teacher and convicted rapist Stacey Rambold. These efforts resulted in the aforementioned censorship and suspension of the judge and the resentencing of the sexual perpetrator.

Now others in California are starting the same process with a petition drive to remove Judge Follett.  I signed their petition, and made the following comment to the petition organizers:

To the petitioner organizer, I applaud your efforts to remove Judge Follet from the bench. However because this is a complaint against a judge, the California General Assembly can not take or review this specific complaint. This is because there is a constitutional separation of powers issue [requiring that the legislature not become directly involved in a specific judicial case].

It has to go through the California Commission on Judicial Performance. Details on how to file a complaint can be found at https://cjp.ca.gov/file_a_complaint/. When MT NOW and PA NOW filed their complaint against G. Todd Baugh for similar judicial misconduct in 2013, we included the 240,000 petition signatures that were directed to the Montana Judicial Standards Commission. FYI, there had been other petitions circulated to both the legislature and the governor of Montana re Baugh’s sentencing, but they were not accepted by the Judicial Standards Commission because they weren’t directed to the right place.

If you want more detail, you can contact me. Meanwhile here’s a link to what we successfully did in Montana: https://civilrightsadvocacy.net/2014/12/31/2013-2014-justice4cherise/

I wish the petitioners good luck and hope that their efforts result in a successful retraining of judges in California, much like what happened in Montana.

And if you live in another state where you believe a judge has similarly misbehaved or failed to follow judicial ethics guidelines, Google your state’s name along with something like “Judicial Conduct Board” to find out where you need to file your complaint and what you need to include.  Good luck!  We need to make sure that justice for all rape victims can be achieved, just as it was in Cherise’s case in Montana.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his employer, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), are concerned about stricter laws for drug users (aka blacks), but they have said nothing about rape. In another case of white male entitlement, a judge sentenced Nolan Bruder, 20, to three years with all except 240 days suspended in favor of probation, […]

via Another Light Sentence for Rape — Nel’s New Day

The hydra returns as the Toll Brothers win in Commonwealth Court

This is a cautionary tale from a township just south of where I live. FYI, the Slab Cabin Run that is mentioned below feeds into Spring Creek which runs right through Bellefonte where I live.

Peter is in the Forest

map_of_ferguson_township2c_centre_county2c_pennsylvania_highlighted Ferguson Township, depicted in red, is a Home Rule municipality in southern Centre County. We are about 18,000 people on about 50 square miles of mixed urban, suburban, agricultural, and forested land. The Cottages development discussed in this post would be located along the central eastern border of the township with State College borough. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

As you may know, a Centre County Court of Common Pleas judge’s ordered that a lower court decision be vacated regarding The Cottages, a Toll Brothers development in Ferguson Township where I’m a supervisor. The original lower court decision found that the previous board had “committed an error of law” in regard to the planned residential development (PRD) plan for the Cottages in November 2015.

As the Centre Daily Times reports, “A group of residents filed an appeal against the board” and Judge Grine ruled last July that the supervisors had “committed an error of law…

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Adventures in Internalized Prejudice

Three LGBT Wins in Court

Three victories in the appellate-level courts in the last week is great news. Two are transgender student cases — Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and a similar case from DC (see Grace Dolan-Sandrino’s story from her viewpoint).

The third case is a sex-discrimination case in employment. In this case, a lesbian — Kimberly Hively —successfully argued before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that Ivy Tech Community College fired her because she’s a lesbian and this firing was a form of sex discrimination because she is a lesbian. Judge Diane Wood wrote the court decision affirming that there was sex discrimination because the community college based the firing decision on Ms. Hively’s “gender non-conforming” behavior.  This form of “gender stereotyping falls within Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination” and is thus a clear case of sex discrimination according to Judge Wood.

Since these cases are all at the lower court level and other appellate courts have come to differing decisions, these cases and similar ones could end up at the US Supreme Court.  But for now, SUCCESS on these types of LGBTQIA cases related to education and employment have occurred within some parts of the country. We’ll just have to wait and see what the final outcome will be.

We’ll just have to wait and see what the final outcome will be.

Nel's New Day

On the surface, last week’s court case about Gavin Grimm looked like a loss for human rights. When the Gloucester County (VA) School Board banned transgender students from using the bathrooms that conformed with their gender identities, Gavin Grimm, then 15, addressed the board on November 11, 2014 to explain why he was not a threat to other students. The transgender teen explained that he had used the boys’ bathroom in public places throughout Gloucester County and had never had a confrontation. As Seth Millstein wrote:

“He explained that he is a person worthy of dignity and privacy. He explained why it is humiliating to be segregated from the general population. He knew, intuitively, what the law has in recent decades acknowledged: the perpetuation of stereotypes is one of many forms of invidious discrimination. And so he hoped that his heartfelt explanation would help the powerful adults in his community…

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Equal Pay Day 2017: A Nationwide View of the Gender Wage Gap

Since I started this blog in December 2012, I have annually written about pay equity during April for Pay Equity Day (201320142015, and 2016).  That day is today. As in past years, Ni-Ta-Nee NOW, the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, will be distributing flyers educating the public about the economic inequality in women’s pay.  We’re letting people know that we continue to have a lack of progress in eliminating pay inequity.  Here’s the information we would like the public to know.

April 4, 2017

This date symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.  FYI, This is eight days less than 2016, ten days less than 2015, four days less than 2014, eleven days less than in 2013 and thirteen days less than in 2011 when Ni-Ta-Nee NOW started tracking this date!  Tuesday, April 4, 2017, is the day on which women’s wages overall catch up with men’s earnings from the previous year.  It is also the day when white women’s wages catch up with men’s wages.  But most women of color take much longer to achieve equity.

The Wage Gap

Annual Wage Gap 2017 - Lack of Equal Pay

A Nationwide View of the Gender Wage Gape

The commonly used measure to determine the pay gap is the ratio of women’s to men’s median annual earnings for full-time, full-year workers. Based on these earnings, women as a whole earned just 8 percent of what men earned in 2015 (AAUW, 2017).  Between 2006 and 2015 the weekly gender wage gap narrowed by just 0.3 percentage points, compared with 6.0 percentage points in the previous ten years (1996 to 2005). At the current rate, it will be 2059 before women achieve wage parity. This lack of progress needs to be overturned!

Nationally, Asian American women have the smallest wage gap, earning 85 percent of what the average white man earned in 2012. White, non-Hispanic women are next, earning approximately 75 percent of white men’s average income, African-American women earn 63 percent, Pacific Islander women earn 60 percent, Native American women earn 58%, and Hispanic women earn just 54 percent of wages as compared to white men (AAUW, 2017).

A woman who is just starting her career now will earn $418,800 less than her male counterpart over the course of a 40-year career. For Asian-American women, it’s $387,640; for white, non-Hispanic women, it’s $462,000; for African-American women, it’s $657,680, for Native American Women, it’s $789,120, and for Hispanic women, it’s $899,400. (NWLC, 2017).

Differences in the wage gap are due more than just the types of jobs men and women work.  Part of the problem is due to gendered, sex-segregated jobs where women are paid less. This disparity is partly due to the minimum wages often paid to women and for jobs that require the same level of skills, knowledge & abilities but for which women are paid less. Other reasons for this pay gap include the lack of paid sick days and family leave, unfair scheduling practices, and lack of pay transparency protections in these female-dominated occupations (Center for American Progress, 2015).

Wage Gap in Pennsylvania

The pay gap is even worse in our state. When ranked among the other 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania’s wage gap placed it 27th (tied with AR, IL, NE, TX, and WA) among the states (AAUW, 2017). The median annual income for a woman working full-time, year-round in Pennsylvania in 2015 was $40,742 compared to men’s $51,212 or 80% of what a man earns. This disparity results in a wage gap of 20%.

Centre County is part of Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District (CD) Women in the 5thCD earned $33,325 compared to the $45,385 that men make or 73.4% of what a man makes. We rank 15 out of 18 in the state in terms of the wage gap.  This disparity results in a wage gap of 26.6%. Philadelphia’s 1st CD fares better than the rest of the state, with a difference of just 11.3% (AAUW, 2017).

A woman who is just starting her career now will earn $430,480 less than her male counterpart over the course of a 40-year career. For Asian-American women, it’s $387,640; for white, non-Hispanic women, it’s $462,000; for African-Americans, it’s $657,680; for Native American women, it’s $789,120; & for Hispanic women, it’s $899,400 (NWLC, 2017).

What Can You Or I Do About this Inequity?

If You are an Employer

If you are an employer, you can get help in examining pay practices by conducting an equal pay self-audit using the guidelines from the US Department of Labor (available at www.pay-equity.org/cando-audit.html).

If You Believe You Are Experiencing Wage-Based Discrimination

Tell your employer if you see or think that you are being paid less than your male co-workers. Click here for some tips on negotiating for pay equity.

If there’s a union at your place of work, ask for their help.

If discrimination persists: There are three places to file complaints – at the federal level, at the state level, and at the local level.

At the Federal Level

You can file under federal law with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Go to this link and follow the instructions.

At the State Level

You can find your state’s anti-discrimination agency website and contact information through the Job Accommodations Network, a free service of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. Most of the agencies have a website address that you can copy and paste into your browser. All of the agencies have a phone number that you can call for assistance.

If you live in Pennsylvania, you can file a complaint with the PA Human Relations Commission in Harrisburg. Contact information is available by region.  Just go to their website and look for your county’s name.  The phone number and address for your regional office is listed directly above the names of the counties served by each office.

At the Local Level

You should also check to see if your local county, city, or community has an ordinance providing similar protections for wage-based discrimination. You can also file under federal law with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

There are a few communities throughout the country that have created local ordinances that include the state-based anti-discrimination protections and have also expanded coverage to other areas (such as protections based on sexual orientation, family status, and family responsibilities across the lifespan). If so, you can more conveniently file a wage-based complaint at the local level. Check with your state’s anti-discrimination agency to see if there is a local ordinance in your community.

In Pennsylvania, there are about 30 cities and municipalities with such an ordinance. Your regional office of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission can give you this information, along with whom to contact. Check with your state’s anti-discrimination office if you live in another state to determine if your state allows such local ordinances and if such a law exists in your community.

You Can Also Advocate for Changes in the Law

There are bills before Congress and in state legislatures that deal with some of the issues affecting wage inequity.  If you want to advocate at the federal level, you can find your US Representative and your US Senators’ contact information at https://www.congress.gov/members.  To locate the contact information for your state legislators, go to http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/ and fill in your mailing address and hit the “locate” button; your legislators’ picture, addresses, and phone and fax numbers can be found when you click on her/his name.  It some cases, this website will also provide a list of bills your legislator has sponsored so that you can see if one or more of them support pay equity.

Here are the issues you for which you should consider advocating.  Since I live in Pennsylvania, I’m listing both Federal and Pennsylvania-specific bills.  For bills specific to your state, check out the National Conference of State Legislatures website to find and go to your state’s website.  You will then be able to search for the bills on pay equity, paycheck fairness, minimum wage, sick leave, etc. to see if there is a bill or law in your state addressing these issues. If not, then contact your legislators/public officials and ask them to sponsor such bills.

 Raise both the regular and the tipped minimum wages.

At the federal level, there is currently one bill addressing this issue.  It is HR 122 — The Original Living Wage Act of 2017. It was introduced by Rep. Al Green (D-TX-9). There are currently seven additional co-sponsors: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD-7), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-At Large), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA-5), Rep. Hakeem S. Jeffries (D-NY-8), and Rep. Marc A. Veasey (D-TX-33). For this bill to move, MANY more co-sponsors are needed and your representatives need to hear from you.

In Pennsylvania, there are two bills —SB 12 — Raising the Minimum Wage and Modernizing the Minimum Wage Act & SB 163 —Raising the Tipped Wage Act.

Many states and local communities have either increased the minimum and tipped wages or have bills in the hopper on this issue. According to the Raise the Minimum Wage website, “As a result of Congressional gridlock and growing income inequality, a record number of states are taking action to raise their wage floors above the federal [level]. Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have set their minimum wage above $7.25/hour, including two which have raised it to $15 (California and New York). And in several other states, advocates are actively promoting an increase in the wage floor to at least $12.  For more information on these types of bills, check out the Raise the Minimum Wage website for their listing of state-level initiatives.

Pass paid sick leave legislation.

At the federal level, check out HR 1022 and S 362 — the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2017. Note these bills only affect federal employee sick leave. So to create paid sick leave for the rest of us, we’ll need to look to the states and local municipalities for this form of legislation.

In Pennsylvania, check out HB 701 — the Pennsylvania Paid Sick Leave Act and SB 207 — the Employee Paid Sick Leave Act

In some states, this type of legislation can also be enacted at the municipal level.  Currently, four states (Connecticut in 2011, California in 2013, Massachusetts in 2014, and Oregon in 2015) and the District of Columbia (2008), as well as 18 cities and communities, have implemented paid sick leave.  These 18 cities (with the year of passage noted) are:

  • California: San Francisco (2006), Oakland (2014), and Emeryville (2015), Los Angeles and San Diego (both in 2016)
  • Maryland: Montgomery County (2015)
  • New Jersey: Jersey City (2013), Newark, Passaic, Paterson, East Orange, Irvington, Montclair, Trenton (all in 2014), Bloomfield (2015), New Brunswick, Elizabeth, and Plainfield (all in 2016)
  • New York: New York City (2013)
  • Oregon: Portland (2013)
  • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia (2015) and Pittsburgh (2015). Note however that Pittsburgh’s paid sick leave ordinance was ruled as invalid by a county-level judge in early 2016 and is currently on appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.
  • Washington: Seattle (2011) and Tacoma (2015)

Create laws that make payment of wages fairer by eliminating pay secrecy rules & pay discrimination.

Types of paycheck fairness rules include limiting occupational requirements to bona fide occupational factors like education, skills, and experience, prohibiting employer retaliation against employees who discuss their salaries and denies employers the ability to require employees to sign a contract or waiver prohibiting them from disclosing information about the employee’s wages. The federal bills that have focused on this issue entitled the Paycheck Fairness Act; this bill has yet to be introduced in either the US House or Senate so far this year. The National Women’s Law Center has several good articles on paycheck fairness, including why women need more wage protections and information on how the Paycheck Fairness Act strengthens the Equal Pay Act. Take a look at these articles and then contact your US Senator(s) and your US Representative if you believe they might be willing to take the lead on this bill.  FYI, the past prime sponsors of this bill that are still in Congress are Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3).

Stand up. Fight back.

So, on this Equal Pay Day, get going! Follow the lead of the millions of women and their allies who participated in the Women’s Marches on January 21, 2017.  Stand up! Fight back! Call on your legislators at all levels to work towards pay equity.  Tell your employer/union that you want and expect fair pay.  And reach out to others of like mind. This pull for equal pay will be a long haul effort. But we can eventually make it happen. Let’s do it!.

 

 

 

 

 

Naming Ableism

Poetry that speaks volumes!

CripStory

Ableism is

when you say that I don’t act

disabled

and expect me to take that

as a compliment.

Ableism is

when you assume

that I’m automatically strong

and courageous

simply because I’m disabled.

Ableism is

when my blindness becomes

your darkness…

when you wear my scars

in your sleeve

and pretend to understand

my truths.

Ableism is

when you try to heal me,

and fix me

and promise me that  I will walk,

or see, or hear

or  that I will be

everything I was really meant to be…

one day

in heaven.

Ableism is

believing that heaven

is an able-bodied place

where broken bodies finally

become whole.

Ableism is

when “whole”

is a word reserved

for the able-bodied, or

when you say that I’m beautiful

despite my differences,

and fail to recognize that I’m beautiful

because of them.

Ableism is

when you leave us to ripen

and rot

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DDT: Week Ten

Nel's New Day

Other than the fallout from failing to pass Trumpcare and the increasing—and damning—news about Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) connection to Russia, the biggest news was his rollback to President Obama’s orders regarding the climate.

Climate: DDT ordered the EPA to repeal the Clean Power Plan by removing new limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants. He claimed that it was for the economy, energy security, and jobs, but the entire coal industry employs fewer people than Arby’s. DDT is preening, but the provisions weren’t to take place until 2022. In addition, a 2007 Supreme Court ruling found that greenhouse gases count as a potential air pollutant, requiring the EPA to regulate them. DDT’s order won’t reverse the decline of the coal industry that has fewer employees than clean energy. Coal’s enemy is natural gas.

Conflicts of Interest: Remember DDT’s blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest? Middle son, Eric, has…

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picture of a dispenser for menstrual products

Toilet Paper Is Free In Public Restrooms; Why Not Menstrual Products?

Yes. Why not?

Just a thought. Maybe someone, somewhere, should file a public accommodations complaint based on gender discrimination and see what happens. How about

  • Airports?
  • Convention Centers?
  • Courthouses?
  • Hospitals and Clinics?
  • Hotels and Motels?
  • Parks?
  • Restaurants, Bars, and Taverns?
  • Retail stores?
  • Roadside stops?
  • Recreational facilities?
  • Theatres?
  • Town Halls?
  • Trains?
  • Schools?
  • Etc.

BTW, it’s nice to see that Orlando International Airport has “seen the light” and provided free access to these types of products.

 

Erin Matson

Toilet paper, soap, water, and hand towels or hand dryers are provided free of charge in public restrooms. So why are women supposed to pay for a tampon or a pad?

Just like peeing and pooping, menstruation is a predictable, routine bodily function that people take care of in public restrooms every single day.

Menstrual products are basic public health supplies that allow people to maintain sanitary health standards — just like toilet paper, soap, water, and hand towels or hand dryers.

Access to menstrual products is critical for the full dignity, equality, and participation of women and girls worldwide — in South Africa, for example, poor girls have stayed home from school because they didn’t have access to pads.

16907003_446146369109758_5158251861320400896_n(1)A free sanitary napkin dispenser in the Orlando International Airport (photo mine).

Some might object that people would become freeloaders and stop buying menstrual products altogether, and grab large quantities to take home. (Which begs the…

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