Also: Blue Alaska?; And labor unions rising...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2023, 7:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's almost as if Republicans want to become a failed, extinct political party. But we're gonna have to overcome a lot of authoritarian desperation first, I'm afraid. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the many stories covered toward that end on today's program...

  • The 25-year old shooter who killed five and injured eight others at the Old National Bank in Louisville, Kentucky on Monday legally purchased his high-powered AR-15 assault-style rifle just one week before the massacre. Among the injured was a local rookie police officer, now said to be in critical but stable condition after being shot in the head. He had finished training just 10 days earlier. Among the dead was a longtime personal friend of the state's Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. The man was also said to have been a close friend of Florida's Republican U.S. Senator Rick Scott. Had Scott and his party not worked so long and hard to block popular legislation that might have helped prevent the shooting --- such as restoration of the federal assault weapons ban that Republicans allowed to expire in 2004 --- his friend might still be alive. Well done, Rick! Monday's preventable tragedy was the 146th mass shooting of the year, according to the Gun Violence Archives.
  • Democratic Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones was reinstated to his old seat just one business day after state Republican lawmakers expelled the young black Nashville legislator for taking part in a peaceful protest at the state capital calling for gun safety legislation following the mass shooting that killed three children and three adults at a Christian elementary school two weeks ago in Nashville. As part of what may be one of the greatest GOP political blunders in recent memory, support for Jones, Rep. Justin Pearson (another expelled black legislator likely to be reseated this week as well), and the state Democratic Party have all sky-rocketed both in the state and nationally.
  • The unspeakably ill-considered politicking by TN Republicans wasn't their only embarrassing failure revealed on Monday. A three-judge state court panel also put the temporary kibosh on state GOP lawmakers attempt to cut the size of the Nashville Metropolitan Council from 40 members to 20 before this year's August elections. That would be the same Council that unanimously selected Jones, by a vote of 36 to 0 on Monday, to temporarily fill the seat left vacant when Jones was expelled by Republicans last week.
  • In response to all of this, Jones has begun calling for the resignation of Republican state House Speaker Cameron Sexton who, as reporters have discovered, does not even live in the District he is supposed to represent in the wildly gerrymandered (75 to 24) state House. He represents the city of Crossville, but he and his family live in Nashville. He could (but won't be) expelled for that violation of the state Constitution. But his ability to run for reelection next year may now be challenged in court.
  • The bad politics of the Republican Party --- who oppose reproductive freedoms, gun safety legislation, health care reform, labor unions and other wildly popular issues --- was similarly on display in several elections last week, most notably the takeover of a liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court for the first time in 15 years. The candidate elected by 11 points to restore a progressive majority to the high court, in the normally closely divided Badger State, ran largely on the issue of protecting the right to abortion. But on the other side of the continent, in what was once deep "red" Alaska, 6 of the 7 seats on the 11-member Anchorage Assembly on the ballot last Tuesday were won by Democrats by larger than expected margins. Could Alaska be on its way toward turning "blue" in upcoming years? There are several early signs offering reason to believe the last "red" state on the West Coast could actually flip in the years ahead, especially as the unpopular GOP becomes even more desperate to hold onto power.
  • We've also got a bunch of encouraging labor news today, including several stories we had hoped to cover until being preempted by news of Donald Trump's New York indictment mid-show two weeks ago. Among those stories was the signing by Michigan's Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of a landmark bill repealing the state's anti-union, anti-labor, so-called "Right to Work" law. It was the first time in 60 years that such a law has been overturned by a state. And it was all thanks to state voters who, in 2018, adopted a Constitutional ballot measure requiring an independent state redistricting commission. With that, the state's fairer maps resulted in a Democratic trifecta last November, with the party winning majorities in both chambers of the state legislature while Whitmer held the Governorship. It's amazing how well democracy works for working people when it isn't corrupted.
  • Also a couple of weeks ago, Chipotle was forced to agree to pay former employees some $240,000 in Maine as part of a settlement agreement after the company was found to have violated federal labor laws by illegally closing a store in Augusta, Maine after workers there filed a National Labor Relations Board petition to vote for unionization.
  • Over the weekend, the union representing some 30,000 Los Angeles school custodians, cafeteria works, bus drivers and other student services staff voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract with the Los Angeles Unified School District following a year of negotiation and, finally, a three-day strike last month. The new contract for workers at the nation's second largest school district includes, among other things, a 30% pay raise for workers and fully paid health care benefits expanded to teacher's assistants and after-school program employees. The workers, represented by SEIU Local 99, were supported during the brief walkout by the L.A. United Teachers union.
  • A New York region hotel union has reached an agreement with hotel owners outside of New York City to raise wages by $7.50 an hour, said to be the largest increase in the union's 100-year history. 7,000 members of the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council will enjoy the new benefits, but so will workers at non-union hotels elsewhere in the country, where owners are beginning to realize they need to raise their own rates and benefits for workers as well, if they wish to keep them.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, to call both the balls and strikes of the latest noteworthy environmental news...


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