Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Last Call For The (Red) State Of (Blue) Cities

Texas Republicans have passed legislation that all but eliminates home rule for Texas cities, making nearly all municipal laws void in Democratic controlled cities and subject to GOP state legislative control instead.

A sweeping Texas bill stripping authority from cities passed the state Senate on Tuesday and is now headed to the governor’s desk.

House Bill 2127 takes large domains of municipal governing — from payday lending laws to regulations on rest breaks for construction workers to laws determining whether women can be discriminated against based on their hair — out of the hands of the state’s largely Democratic-run cities and shifts them to its Republican-controlled legislature.

According to the Austin American Statesman, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has been a vocal supporter of the bill.

Progressive critics argue the legislation — which one lawyer for Texas cities called “the Death Star” for local control — represents a new phase in the campaign by conservative state legislatures to curtail the power of blue-leaning cities.

Opponents of the bill include civil society groups like the AFL-CIO — and representatives of every major urban area in Texas, along with several minor ones.

They argue the shift in power it would enable would hamstring cities’ abilities to make policies to fit their unique circumstances.

“Where the state is silent, and it is silent on a lot — local governments step into that breach, to act on behalf of our shared constituents,” state Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D) told the Senate on Tuesday.

“We should be doing our job rather than micromanaging theirs.”

But the bill’s Senate sponsor, state Sen. Brandon Creighton (R), said it was necessary to protect “job creators” from “cities and counties acting as lawmakers outside of their jurisdiction.”

Both the legislation’s sponsors and the principal trade group that backed it — the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) — have argued local regulation poses an existential threat to Texas businesses.

“As prices escalate, property taxes increase, and workers remain in short supply, small business owners are continuing to struggle in this economic environment,” said Annie Spilman, state director of the NFIB, in a statement earlier this month. “Arduous local ordinances, no matter how well-intended, exacerbate these challenges.”
And once again it's that businesses don't want to be forced to pay higher wages or to supply better benefits in larger cities.  They want to buy labor at well below the going rate and force workers to be miserable because there's no competitors willing to pay more and forcing even anything close to a living wage or standard benefits found in every other western country is an "arduous challenge" for the corporate class. 

In Texas, the second-biggest border state, the supply of cheap labor cannot be curtailed for any reason, either. Stripping protections provided by cities for workers has to go, you see.

We all float down here, Billy.

Trump Cards, Con't

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is being rewarded with her own 9 PM show on the network after her performance in last week's Trump town hall production, where she played her role as frustrated moderator to a T against Trump's lunatic ride. 
CNN has selected Kaitlan Collins to host a new weeknight show at 9 p.m., elevating her to one of the most coveted time slots in cable news a week after she moderated a contentious town hall with former President Donald J. Trump.

The new role for Ms. Collins was announced by CNN’s chairman, Chris Licht, on Wednesday, just ahead of a presentation to advertisers in Midtown Manhattan hosted by Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN’s parent company.

Her show, which does not yet have a title, is set to begin in June. “She is a smart and gifted journalist who we’ve all seen hold lawmakers and newsmakers accountable,” Mr. Licht wrote in a newsroom memo. “Kaitlan will expose uncovered angles and challenge conventional wisdom to make sure viewers are seeing a story from every side.”

The promotion of Ms. Collins, 31, a co-host of the network’s morning show, amounts to a major bet by CNN leadership on a rising star who has impressed colleagues with her interviewing and reporting chops, but remains relatively untested as a solo anchor.

It is also Mr. Licht’s latest attempt to revive his network’s sagging ratings.

The 9 p.m. hour at CNN — once its highest-rated time slot — has effectively been vacant since Chris Cuomo was fired in December 2021. Mr. Licht’s recent attempt to fill the hour with a variety of interviews and news specials fizzled with viewers. On weeknights, CNN lags behind Fox News and MSNBC, and on Friday, two days after the Trump town hall, it even lost to Newsmax, a fledgling conservative network that is available in fewer homes.

Ms. Collins, who joined CNN in 2017 as a reporter covering the Trump White House, brings a youthful jolt to a programming block that for years has been hosted by middle-aged male anchors.

An Alabama native who cut her teeth at the conservative news site The Daily Caller, Ms. Collins is prized by Mr. Licht for her perceived ability to connect with viewers outside of coastal liberal enclaves. She became the network’s chief White House correspondent in 2021 at age 28, the youngest person to hold the role, and covered President Biden before moving to New York last year as a co-host of “CNN This Morning.”

She is also well respected in the political media and had been slated to serve as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association beginning in 2024. (She had to forgo the role after relocating from Washington.)

In April, Ms. Collins did a weeklong stint as temporary host of CNN’s 9 p.m. hour. She drew favorable ratings, with executives taking notice that she was able to retain much of Anderson Cooper’s lead-in audience from 8 p.m.

Last week, she was in the national spotlight as the moderator of the New Hampshire town hall with Mr. Trump. Ms. Collins remained composed in the face of Mr. Trump’s barrage of falsehoods, repeatedly interrupting to correct baseless claims. Mr. Trump mostly talked over her and was applauded by some audience members when he derided Ms. Collins as a “nasty person.”
There's no better proof that the supposedly "disastrous" town hall wasn't planned meticulously from the start, and than CNN boss Chris Licht wasn't counting on this from the beginning. He now has a reliable right-wing face for the network's shift towards the Republicans they want to both cover and watch, and returning them to power is not the network's number one goal.

Expect more normalization of authoritarian fascism through political kayfabe for years to come.

The Battle Of Jacksonville

Last night we had several primaries and municipal elections across the country, and the biggest was Jacksonville, Florida's mayoral race, pitting Republican Daniel Davis against Democratic candidate Donna Deegan. Jacksonville has long been the harbinger of Florida's red shift, it was the largest Republican-led city in the nation going into last night with two-term GOP Mayor Lenny Curry at the helm.

Democrat Donna Deegan will serve as the first female mayor of Jacksonville.

After months of hard campaigning and millions of dollars spent between both sides, Deegan won the highly contested election against Republican Daniel Davis with nearly 52% of the vote.

“We made history tonight,” Deegan told supporters at what became her election night celebration in Downtown Jacksonville. “It’s a brand new day in Jacksonville.”

Turnout ended at 33%, which was higher than primary turnout of just over 25%. Democrats finished early voting with over a 4-point lead – leaving the race open for either candidate on Tuesday.

Republicans closed the gap quickly at 12:10 Tuesday afternoon, but Deegan said she knew there would be a large amount of crossover voting from Republicans and Independent voters.

“When we were out the last several weeks, I mean, I can’t tell you how many people from across the political spectrum reached out to me and said ‘We want you to know, I’ve never voted for a Democrat before. I’m going to vote for you,’” Deegan said.

The win is the first for Democrats after Republican Lenny Curry’s win against Democratic Mayor Alvin Brown in 2015. Brown had a high approval rating among voters but lost to Curry by less than a 3-point margin.

Curry won re-election in 2019 and could not run again because of term limits. He became one of Davis’ Florida republican endorsements, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senator Rick Scott and Rep. John Rutherford.

Davis’ high-profile campaign, fueled with more money than any campaign for local office in Jacksonville history, brought criticism and praise from Republicans.

Deegan received support from Florida Democratic Chair Nikki Fried but relied primarily on local bipartisan endorsements, including current Republican council members Matt Carlucci and Randy DeFoor and local activists and pastors.

Davis told his supporters the result wasn’t what he had been expecting 24 hours ago, but he pledged to help Deegan and urged his supporters to also come together to back her. He also turned during the concession speech to thank his wife Rebekah for her support during the grueling campaign.
All politics are local, as they say.  But you have to admit Ron DeSantis and the GOP had this state locked up just six months ago. Now, Jacksonville is the largest crack in that lock. And just as we've seen before, Democrats have outperformed in special elections in response to GOP extremism as they have since the Dobbs decision.

That's some good news, at least.

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