Report: Majority of U.S. Cities Unprepared for Financial Fallout from Statewide Shutdowns

The majority of U.S. cities were ill-prepared for any financial crisis last year, let alone the one brought about by their respective state shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report published by the nonprofit Truth in Accounting (TIA) concludes.

The annual assessment surveys the fiscal health of the 75 largest municipalities in the U.S. based on fiscal year 2019 data. TIA reviewed audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports filed by city halls across the country and concluded that even the fiscally healthiest cities are projected to lose millions of dollars in revenue as a result of state shutdowns on top of their previously existing poor fiscal health.

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Commentary: What to Make of the Biden Climate Barrage

Sleepy no more, President Joe Biden has taken to the Oval Office with gusto. On Wednesday, he resumed a climate policy blitz that has already included rejoining the Paris Agreement and deep-sixing the Keystone XL pipeline with an “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.”

Among the banner proclamations from the Wednesday order are that Biden will pause the leasing of federal land to oil and gas companies, seal off 30 percent of federal land from development altogether, create a National Climate Task Force to wage “government-wide” battle on climate change, and require of the intelligence services a National Intelligence Estimate on the security impacts of climate change.

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Billions of Coronavirus Stimulus Money Still Hasn’t Been Spent, Republican Senators Say in Letter to Biden

US Capitol

A group of ten Republican senators outlined a less expensive coronavirus relief compromise bill and said much of the past stimulus passed during the pandemic hasn’t been spent yet.

The proposed stimulus framework builds on prior legislation that passed with bipartisan support, the 10 senators wrote in the letter Sunday. The group, which included Sens. Mitt Romney, Thom Tillis, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, also requested a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss the bill.

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‘We’re Doing the Right Thing’: Maricopa County Announces It Will Audit Its 2020 Election Equipment

The board of supervisors of Maricopa County, Arizona, voted this week to audit the election equipment it used in the 2020 election, following months of allegations of election irregularities there and elsewhere around the country.

The supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the audit, the county said Wednesday on its website. Both audits will take place early next month.

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Colleges Investigate Community Members for Attending Pro-Trump Protest

College community members are subjects of internal and even federal probes for their presence at “Stop the Steal” protests on Jan. 6.

It’s largely unclear if the identified participants committed acts of violence at the U.S. Capitol or simply showed up to peacefully protest the Senate’s confirmation of Electoral College votes.

Yet their alleged attendance – and in one case, online rhetoric – was enough to spawn investigations by their colleges and, in another case, the feds.

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Capitol Police Chief: Capitol Needs ‘Permanent’ Wall to Protect Congress

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said the U.S. Capitol needs a permanent wall to protect Congress members in the wake of the riots on Jan. 6.

“In a statement on Thursday, Pittman said the security at the Capitol building must include a “permanent fencing” barrier — a similar barrier to the one halted by President Joe Biden’s administration at the U.S.-Mexico border,” Breitbart reported. 

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Conservative Activists Protest at Bed Bath & Beyond for Removing MyPillow Products

Conservative activists gathered in-person to protest at a Bed Bath & Beyond store in California, in opposition to the company’s decision to cancel all MyPillow products due to the CEO’s support for President Trump, according to Breitbart.

The group consisted of members of the Media Action Network, an activism group founded by former Fox News executive Ken LaCorte. As part of the protest, the  gathered members pretended to shop through the store, filling up their carts with various products, before leaving the filled carts behind throughout the store and leaving. They left behind brochures urging the chain to “stop promoting cancel culture,” and bring back MyPillow products.

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Labor Experts: Biden’s Unusual Firing of NLRB General Counsel Possibly ‘Unlawful’

Just minutes after taking office on Jan. 20, President Joe Biden’s Office of Presidential Personnel demanded that Senate-confirmed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Peter Robb resign. Robb refused, citing the unprecedented nature of the demand, and was fired.

His deputy, Alice Stock, also was asked to resign, refuses, and was fired the next day.

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Russian Police Arrest Thousands During Second Weekend of Pro-Democracy Protests

Over 4,000 pro-democracy protesters gathering in support of Alexi Navalny, a vocal Kremlin critic, have been detained by Russian police since the beginning of last weekend, according to local media and pro-democracy organizations.

The arrests have occurred across the country, from European cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg to far-eastern cities like Vladivostok, according to Russian monitoring groups, BBC reported.

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Commentary: Robinhood, Reddit, and the Cram Down of Economic Populism

Short sellers claim there is a moral and economic worth to their trade. They supposedly keep the market honest by exposing overvalued stocks, thereby preventing “irrational exuberance” from creating stock bubbles.

If that was all there was to it, they’d be right. Stock bubbles tend to pop eventually, and when they do, the worst case scenario is that the collateral they represent implodes, the loans that the collateral enabled go into default, and trillions in debt-fueled liquidity is erased in a cascading downward spiral. And just like that, the economy collapses into a deflationary depression that makes the 1930s look like a cake walk. There are good reasons we don’t want to demonize short sellers indiscriminately, or drive them out of the market.

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Fulton County District Attorney Requests to Be Removed from Rayshard Brooks Case

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is seeking another prosecutor to assume the case due to her predecessor’s conduct. Willis requested removal of her office from prosecuting former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe in a letter to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She is also requesting to reassign another case involving six Atlanta Police Department Officers alleged to have used excessive force.

According to Willis, the county’s previous district attorney, Paul Howard, reportedly used video evidence from Brooks’ case in a campaign ad. Willis claimed that the act may have violated Georgia Bar Rule 3.8(g) by not “refraining from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.”

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Minnesota City Coalition’s 2021 Priorities Include Local Government Aid, Child Care Investment, Water Infrastructure

On Friday, The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) announced priorities for the 2021 legislative session for COVID-19 recovery, including Local Government Aid, child care, housing, and water infrastructure.

“The pandemic has taken a toll on our community,” Greg Zylka, mayor of Little Falls and CGMC president said in a Zoom meeting. “Some segments are still really struggling, and that pain has ripple effects across the city.”

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Michigan Cities’ Police Settlements Ranged from $3,400 to Nearly $18 Million from 2018-20

Michigan cities with similar populations relied on taxpayers to foot police-settlement payouts ranging from a few thousand dollars to nearly $18 million between 2018 and 2020, according to research conducted by The Center Square.

Freedom of Information Act requests revealed Detroit payouts from police damages in those two years totaled $17.79 million.

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Free Tuition for Low, Middle-Income Students in Two-Year Programs for High-Demand Jobs Passes Virginia House

Governor Ralph Northam’s Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) program passed the Virginia House of Delegates with near-unanimous support Thursday. HB2204 establishes a fund and program to provide free community college to low and middle-income students taking community college degrees in high-demand fields. The program is one of Northam’s signature policy proposals that he first called for in his campaign for governor, according to his January 2018 address to the Joint Assembly.

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Georgia Democrats Want Family Medical Leave in the State Constitution

Sixteen Democrats in the Georgia General Assembly want to add an amendment to the state constitution that would mandate workers have a Family Medical Leave Fund. The Georgia General Assembly’s website identifies State Sen. Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) as the primary sponsor.

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Two New Dashboards Offer COVID Data for Virginia’s Colleges and Universities

Two new online dashboards have recently been launched to help provide awareness and track the spread of the coronavirus at Virginia’s colleges and universities as many institutions in the Commonwealth have already begun or are starting in-person classes soon.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched its COVID-19 Outbreaks in Virginia Higher Education dashboard roughly two weeks ago.

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Lawmaker Wants to Make Ohio Second Amendment Sanctuary State

An Ohio lawmaker says he wants to make sure the rights of gun-owners and those who want to own guns are a priority and that the federal government cannot infringe on those rights.

State Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Bazette, plans to introduce legislation in the General Assembly next week that would, if passed and signed, make Ohio a second amendment sanctuary state, joining Idaho, Montana, Alaska and Kansas.

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Tennessee State Senator Wants Schools to Screen Students’ Mental and Behavioral Health Issues After COVID-19

Members of the Tennessee General Assembly will consider a bill that mandates public school and charter school officials screen students to evaluate how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their mental and behavioral health patterns. This, according to legislation that State Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) filed last month.

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