The Guardian view on trend in politics: tips on how to rewrite the fashion information | Editorial

VIrginia Woolf pinned it to “on or about” December 1910: the date when human nature changed. “All human relationships have changed” She wrote. “And when human relationships change, religion, behavior, politics, and literature change at the same time.” With a little exaggeration, we could assume that Black America changed in the late 1950s – and not just with the Civil rights movement, but across the spectrum of creativity and behavior. Aspects of this revolution are well documented: the Birth of coolness in jazz; the writers Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Richard Wright. But some of the most mundane parts have been undervalued. Like clothes, for example.

Look at photos of black American men in the 1950s and 1960s, and what you notice is a coherence and a growing confidence in their looks. Here the saxophonist John Coltrane can be seen in a soft shoulder jacket and knitted tie, while here the writer Amiri Baraka can be seen in a button-down shirt and a cardigan with a shawl collar. The look is smart and yet casual – no thickly padded suits or repp striped ties here. As the college jackets and penny loafers suggest, it’s a style inspired by privileged white students at Ivy League colleges. You could even say it was appropriated – and then improved. The color palette is getting wider, the finishing touches are bolder: tie clips, collar pins, capped brogues. This look later becomes known as the Black ivy.

This uprising is featured in a new book entitled. documented and celebrated Black Ivy: A Revolt in Style. In his introduction, Jason Jules describes the look as “a kind of combat suit, a symbolic armor that is worn in the non-violent pursuit of fundamental change. Letting society treat them differently meant that the mainstream perceived them differently at first. ”Think of tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins in a button-down shirt playing Freedom suite, or Billy Taylor composing in a tweed jacket I wish I knew what it would feel like to be free. The goal was not just to join the elite, but to redefine it.

However subtly done, the style was a challenge to authority. Dressing like a college student was not an affectation but a crucial part of the desegregation struggles in America’s educational system. After the murders of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, the political mood changed – and so did street style. Stokely Carmichael went from working with John Lewis in sports jackets and ties to the leader of the Black Panthers in dark glasses and a black leather jacket, holding a rifle.

Miles Davis performs around 1959. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

While the term “gesture politics” is always intended as an insult, we’re rewriting what counts as a political gesture: Just think of the squat controversy here and in the US. Historians have long argued that enslaved people and forced laborers resisted by dragging their feet or pretending that they did not understand the orders barked. Something similar has to happen with fashion, which is too often discussed as catwalk creations or January sales. But it can also be about expressing one’s self-image and beliefs. Black Ivy was about young black Americans who are changing the way they see themselves – starting with the mirror next to the cloakroom.

Welcome to the Tokyo Olympics, the place public well being, cash, and politics collide

It is night on the streets of Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, when the Olympic torch burns out. A viral video shows the slow jogging of the torchbearer past the spectators along the street. Then, as the flame goes by, a woman in the crowd shoots a water pistol.

“Put out the Olympic flame! Face the Tokyo Olympics! ”She screams. Security is racing around them.

This is the backdrop to the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games due to begin in Tokyo on July 23 – where Covid-19 cases are on the rise, causing the city to declare its fourth state of emergency since the pandemic began. The rise in the number of cases is particularly worrying as the country’s vaccination rate remains low. Only 18% of the Japanese population are fully vaccinated.

Nevertheless, the International Olympic Committee continues. Are at stake billion dollars in sunk costs—Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium alone cost 1.4 billion US dollars – as well Billions more potential revenue for the IOC, Japan, local organizers and broadcasters.

A global health crisis that is far from over, an incredible amount of money and a government that is paying off: the forces colliding in Tokyo are unprecedented. And even with strict new rules for the games, experts fear that Covid-19 could worsen in Japan.

Protect athletes

Nearly 100,000 athletes, staff and family members and others are expected to travel to Japan for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and organizers are claiming to do their best to protect them.

Brian McCloskey, chairman of an independent body advising the IOC on Covid-19 containment measures for Tokyo, acknowledges the concerns. To reduce the risk of the virus spreading, athletes, employees and others are closely monitored, he says.

“The goal is to have no coronavirus in Tokyo,” says McCloskey. “The aim is to prevent these individual cases from becoming clusters and spreading events.”

Athletes, staff and officials are tested at various intervals during the games. For example, the residents of the Olympic Village are tested daily, while the Japanese workers who are in close contact with athletes are tested more frequently than the traffic drivers. McCloskey says a contact tracing system is being used at the Olympic Village to help contain any cases that arise. Everyone entering Japan must download a contact tracking app, and athletes and media outlets are asked to enable GPS tracking on their phones. The organizers say location data is only used when there are Covid cases.

The closer the games got, the stricter the measures became. Viewers from other countries were banned months ago, and it was announced earlier this month that there will be no audience at all at venues in and around Tokyo.

“It’s not just the event itself, but everything else related to the event: the hotels, the restaurants, the means of transport.”

Linsey Marr, professor at Virginia Tech

McCloskey says there is a precedent for holding the Games amid a public health threat – even if previous Games have not been on the order of Covid. When advising the IOC on the London 2012 Olympics, organizers considered the potential for a SARS pandemic, he says. And before the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, there were concerns about Zika (the WHO later said no cases were reported among athletes or spectators).

For Tokyo, the IOC has published several “playbooks” with instructions for athletes, staff, volunteers and the press.

But despite strict rules, the games will inevitably lead to people mixing and interacting in ways that otherwise wouldn’t happen.

“It’s not just the event itself,” said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech who is a leading expert on airborne virus transmission. “It’s everything else that has to do with the event: the hotels, the restaurants, the means of transport.”

Brookings Register | Tears, politics and cash: Faculty boards turn out to be battle zones

RAPID CITY (AP) – Local school authorities across the country are increasingly becoming cauldrons of anger and political division, simmering disputes over issues such as COVID-19 mask rules, the treatment of transgender students, and the teaching of the history of racism and slavery in America.

Meetings that were once neat, even boring, have become ugly. School board elections, once unchallenged, have drawn a list of candidates who have been stimulated by one issue or another.

A school committee meeting in Loudoun County, Virginia in June that looked at transgender students and teaching “critical racial theory” became so unruly that one person was arrested for misconduct and another charged with trespassing.

In Rapid City, South Dakota and Kalispell, Montana, non-partisan school board races turned into political warfare when Conservative candidates, angry at school mask requirements, tried to take control.

In Pennsylvania, a Republican donor plans to invest $ 500,000 in school board races.

“We are in a culture war,” said Jeff Holbrook, director of the Rapid City GOP in Pennington County.

In the South Carolina’s school system in Lexington-Richland, a new majority of board members angry at pandemic restrictions forced headmistress Christina Melton, who had urged maintaining mask compulsory through the end of the academic year. Just a few weeks earlier, she had been named State Inspector of the Year.

Melton burst into tears at a meeting in June when she offered to resign. A board member also resigned that day, complaining that behind closed doors the corporation had decided to oust Melton from office and avoid a public vote. The board reprimanded the resigned member in its next meeting.

“Now we are known as the district with the crazy school board,” says Tifani Moore, mother of three and husband who teaches in the district.

Moore is running for the vacant board seat and pledges to bridge the political divide that she believes has crippled the board.

“It’s so thick, even the kids can feel it,” she said.

School boards are typically made up of former educators and parents whose job, at least until recently, was mainly to iron out budgets, discuss the lunch menu, or hire superintendents.

But online meetings during the pandemic made it easier for parents to get into the mood. And the crisis gave new weight to the decisions of the school board. Parents feared their children would fall behind because of distance learning or argued about the seriousness of the health risks.

“I kept seeing frustrated parents, thousands of parents calling their board meetings, writing letters, and getting no response,” said Clarice Schillinger, a Pennsylvania parent who started a group called Keeping Kids in School.

She recruited nearly 100 parents to run for school councils across Pennsylvania in November. While the group banded together to push for schools to be fully opened, its candidates have also tried to ban the teaching of critical racial theory, which, among other things, states that racism is anchored in American laws and institutions

Schillinger said the group was 70-30 split between Republicans and Democrats. But its priorities are unmistakably conservative. She said she was trying to counter the influence of teachers’ unions on school authorities: “It’s really less government – that’s what matters.”

Paul Martino, a venture capitalist who donates to Republican candidates and has pledged half a million dollars to the movement and the creation of a statewide political action committee, said the new PAC will support candidates who are committed to keeping schools open no matter what , “Even if” there will be the dreaded increase in COVID in autumn. “

Conservative lists of candidates from other parts of the country are also targeting school authorities.

In Rapid City, four newly elected school board members will hold a majority vote on the seven-member body that oversees the education of around 14,000 students. In an area where Trump flags are still flying, the four candidates for the normally impartial board of directors in the June elections have secured support from the local GOP.

In previous elections, the seats on the board of directors were often filled in unchallenged elections. But this year the campaigns turned into political battles with personal attacks.

Critical racial theory is not part of the Rapid City school curriculum. But that didn’t stop the candidates from making it a central theme of the campaign.

“I believe with all my heart that this is how they will bring socialism and Marxism into our schools,” said newly elected member Deb Baker at a campaign rally.

Curt Pochardt, who was deposed as school council president in the election, said he feared the new partisan dynamic will affect the education of students.

“It doesn’t help children when there is tension in a school board,” he said.

Education experts warn that school authorities are wasting time addressing issues such as hiring teachers, ensuring internet access for students at home, or improving opportunities for youth with disabilities.

“Every time we don’t talk about these issues and we talk about something else that divides and maybe doesn’t happen at all – or at least not to the extent that it’s portrayed – a missed opportunity is focused on what we really need said Chip Slaven, chief advocacy officer for the National School Boards Association.

In Kalispell, a defeated school authority candidate who campaigned against mask mandates made it clear that he is not finished yet.

“I am the barbed thorn of the jumping cholla cactus,” Sean Pandina told the board in May. “I am the cholla in your flesh that you cannot remove. I feel good about losing the election because I’m tied up and not leaving. “

___

Associate press reporters Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina and Iris Samuels in Helena, Montana contributed. Samuels is a corps member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a not-for-profit national utility that places journalists on local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.

Cash in Oregon politics as unchecked as ever – Medford Information, Climate, Sports activities, Breaking Information

The strongest belief that pulled me back into politics three years ago is this: We won’t make much headway to solving Oregon’s core problems until we drastically reduce the power of big money in Salem.

It wasn’t difficult for the voters to do. Donald Trump had a line of applause in 2016 that was true for everyone who heard it: the system is rigged.

I heard it over and over two years later on my own campaign path. Pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to, from left to right, nodded or shook hands as I put campaign finance reform high on my election agenda.

That momentum helped get me into the Senate and got President Peter Courtney to hand me the gavel of a brand new campaign finance committee. There we passed SJR 18, which referred measure 107 to the voters. It called on Oregonians to clarify the state’s constitutional language and let us know if they wanted to authorize state and local governments to regulate campaign funding.

What they – you – replied by a whopping 4-1 gap last November was YES.

Great – you gave us clear marching orders to take the campaign fund limit seriously.

I went to the 2021 session on SB 336, my proposal for Campaign Finance Reform (CFR), and two other lawmakers brought theirs. This would be the year for CFR in Oregon!

Well, today I sent out my newsletter at the end of the session with a summary of the legislative achievements. We actually did some valuable things; I’ll probably brag about a few when I campaign again. Missing from that list, and I mean nowhere in sight, CFR.

Our progress towards a transparent political system driven more by popular power than by great concentrated money has not advanced an inch.

Why? For starters, CFR isn’t a conversation that a lot of lawmakers like. Few would say the status quo is okay and most would welcome a change to get them out of the game of dollar advertising. But many get cold, if not offended, by a conversation that implies putting campaign money above principle.

Which I am not implying. I value the integrity of most of my coworkers, and the idea of ​​them being bought with burlap sacks of cash, perhaps with cartoon $ signs on the side, is completely wrong.

Large campaign contributions are less of a corruption and more of a distraction. They distract us from our duty to weigh the pros and cons of complex invoices in order to arrive at AYE or NAY. This is often a difficult task that requires all of our attention.

What does not help is a question that sometimes, perhaps unconsciously, comes to the mind of every public official I have met, however principally: “What will my major donors think of it?”

That is not a question that we want in the mix when the heads of state and government make voting decisions. I don’t know how often it changes voices, but I’m sure it postpones or dilutes bold solutions as these times require. When that happens, we fall further behind; The fundamental problems we face – the widening gap between rich and poor, the deterioration of natural systems, the cycles of crime and social dysfunction – are moving ever faster as our piecemeal solution is hampered by concerns about what big financiers are will think walking on tiptoe.

The solution to the distracting large donor question is not to wait for a change in human, in this case the legislature, nature. It is to make sure that there are no large donors.

SB 336 would do that, and I will bring it or a similar bill back for another round in the 2022 session. It does two things that CFR must do: exclude all distracting large donations from any person or group with a personal interest in how laws come out, and provide a structure that is simple enough for interested citizens to track the money. We have to do this; Renouncing CFR is tantamount to renouncing the promise of representative democracy.

But who will do it? Legislators, who started and won the campaign finance system we have now? Can we, who sit in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, seek serious reforms? Or do citizens have to take the reins in a CFR election initiative?

The 2022 meeting should answer that. Definitely count me in.

Senator Jeff Golden represents Medford, Ashland, Phoenix, Talent, Jacksonville, and the Applegate Valley. For a summary of the legislation passed at the 2021 meeting or details of current CFR proposals, contact him at sen.jeffgolden@oregonlegislature.gov

‘Politics Is Turning into Sport and Leisure’

Utah Republican governor Spencer Cox on Sunday deplored the “deeply worrying” political polarization in America, saying that partisanship has hampered his state’s vaccination rate and other efforts to contain the virus.

“Politics is becoming religion in our country,” said Cox CBS‘Face of the nation. “Politics is becoming sport and entertainment in our country. That everything is political. It is a big mistake that has led us to make wrong decisions in this pandemic and in other phases of life. It is deeply worrying.”

In May, Biden set a benchmark to fully vaccinate 160 million adults and ensure 70 percent get their first dose by July 4, but the country is at least weeks away from the target. 149 million adults are now fully vaccinated and around 66.7 percent have received at least their first vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox said he was “deeply concerned” about the political polarization in America in his statements on Independence Day.
George Frey / Getty Images

A new poll by Washington Post-ABC News showed strong resistance to the vaccine taking republican, with only 45 percent saying they received their first dose compared to 86 percent of those surveyed Democrats. Twenty states – including California, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania – hit Biden’s 70 percent target, but Utah, a conservative state with a high percentage of younger people, was below the national average of 64 percent.

The poll results came amid warnings from the president Joe Biden and dr. Anthony Fauci that the delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, is more contagious than other variants and poses a greater risk to the unvaccinated.

US surgeon general Vivek Murthy warned on Friday that the delta variant would “double almost every two weeks” and would continue to spread rapidly in areas with low vaccination rates. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said an estimated 25 percent of all active cases of COVID-19 were due to the variant.

Cox expressed concern about the threat and urged vaccine skeptics to “get the vaccine now”. He added, “It’s very simple and very easy. Those are deaths that don’t have to happen, hospitalizations that don’t have to happen.”

Fauci appeared ABCMeet the press on Independence Day to warn of expected virus spikes in areas with low vaccination rates. He also urged conservatives and anti-Vaxxers to “put their differences aside” and get vaccinated.

“We are dealing with a historical situation in this pandemic and we have the tools to counter it,” he said. “So for God’s sake put all these differences aside and realize that the common enemy is this virus and we have the tool, a highly effective tool against this virus.”

Newsweek reached out to Cox’s office for further comments. This story is updated with every answer.

Politics being performed together with your cash

Neighbours,

While things are slowly unwinding, I felt it was very important to get Senate Bill 842 to a vote. This bill was an easy fix to make sure you were NOT taxed on the federal money you received during the pandemic. Federal Democrats and Republicans agree that the state shouldn’t tax it.

Well, the Democrats in the State Senate have decided they want to keep your money even though they are sitting on BILLIONS of extra dollars through federal incentives. You can read the full press release below. I thought it was important to send you a special email today.

You know how to spend your money best, not the Portland politicians who just can’t help but keep every dollar they can. It’s extremely disappointing.

With best regards,

SALEM, Oregon. – Today the Senate Democrats were jailed to block Republican legislation to return an estimated $ 300 million in taxes to middle-class families. Due to a quirk in Oregon tax law, an estimated 870,000 Oregonians paid more state taxes simply because they received a stimulus check.

Senator Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City), who introduced Senate Bill 842 in March to return that money to the Oregonians, moved the Senate to debate and vote on the measure. The Senate Democrats voted in lockstep to reject the motion.

“I’m a former mayor,” said Senator Anderson. “I’m used to passing on sensible, bipartisan ideas that fix unintended consequences. It is extremely disappointing that this bill stood in the way of partiality. There is no valid reason to take part in Oregonian business reviews, especially given the current financial condition of Oregon. “

Congress passed three separate bills last year that sent the Oregonians three stimulus checks. The maximum that the average family of four could have paid in increased state income tax is $ 1,000 between all three payments. That’s $ 1,000 that should help these families weather the storm deep in the pandemic. On the other hand, the state of Oregon has billions of dollars in unexpected revenue.

Congressman Peter DeFazio sent a letter to Governor Brown, Spokesman Kotek and President Courtney in February advocating tax exemption for stimulus payments. Said Congress intended that these payments should be tax-free, he said, “It is unreasonable to ask the working-class families, who have struggled the most during this crisis, to shoulder the weight of the state’s budget deficit.” As of the writing, Oregon had a projected budget deficit. Oregon now has a billion surplus.

“Democrats blocking this legislation are showing the Oregonians exactly where their priorities are,” said Senate Republican leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons). “This money belongs in the pockets of the Oregonians. It is only right to give it back to them. I hope the Democrats find it in their hearts to pass this bill during the next session. “

Starting July 1, additional stimulus payments will be sent to Oregoners with children. It is not known whether some of these payments will also be diverted to the state.

“Talks about the new child tax credits are the kind of talks that should be started with this bill, but since it has been blocked on committee, working-class families will again be in limbo about how those payments will affect their taxes,” Senator Anderson added added.

The motion to debate Senate Law 842 failed with 11 to 17 votes, largely along the party lines. It will remain on the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee, where it will likely die unless the Democrats suddenly decide that giving the Oregonians the full benefit of their stimulus check is a priority

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Zhao Benshan and the effective line between leisure, enterprise, and politics in China – SupChina

Zhao Benshan and the fine line between entertainment, business and politics in China – SupChina

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Inside Texas Politics: Texas metropolis goals to change into greatest leisure vacation spot between Las Vegas, Orlando

Arlington is now known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers. Outgoing Mayor Jeff Williams lays the groundwork for him to play a bigger role.

DALLAS – A city in Texas wants to position itself as the largest entertainment destination between Las Vegas and Orlando.

Arlington is now known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers, but a second hotel coming into the stadium development area will add hundreds of apartments.

Outgoing Mayor Jeff Williams lays the foundation for everything. He joined the program from his office in the town hall.

Bo’s law is passed with the support of both parties

After all of these protests over the past year, Texan lawmakers have decided not to make significant changes to the way the police force in this state.

However, there is one bill that passed. A bill by the name of Botham Jean – a black man who was shot dead in his own apartment by a white policeman who believed she was entering her own house.

Status Representative Carl Sherman von DeSoto introduced Bo’s law. It had bipartisan support and is now being directed to the governor’s desk to become law.

CONNECTED: The Texan legislature stands ready to pass a comprehensive electoral law to restrict election times and change the electoral rules

Dallas ISD Superintendent for Laws Prohibiting Critical Theory of Race

Have you heard the term “Critical Racial Theory”?

Texas lawmakers forbid – in essence, telling teachers that they cannot take sides – when discussing current events that are controversial. Regardless of the subject, from George Floyd to the January 6th riot at the US Capitol.

Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said this legislation took many educators by surprise.

CONNECTED: The Texas bill, which restricts current affairs disclosure, appears to be approaching the governor after the Senate revived him

He’s meeting with the school board next week to discuss next steps while the bill goes to the governor for signature.

Watch this week’s full episode of Inside Texas Politics:

Earmarks are again, bringing cash and old-school politics to Orange County – Orange County Register

Projects that tackle homelessness, traffic congestion, fire safety and a range of other issues in Orange County could get up to $107 million in federal funding this year as local House members take part in a revived version of the controversial Congressional program known as earmarks.

The once traditional spending routine — in which Congress members seek money for specific projects, almost always in their districts — had been shelved for a decade in the wake of bipartisan complaints about fairness and abuse. But the process has been revived this year by House Democrats who argue that, with new safeguards in place, it will be particularly helpful for projects that have been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And it turns out earmarks are pretty popular. Three quarters of all House members, including more than half of all Republicans, have requested funds for projects in their districts through what the Appropriations Committee has re-branded as the “community project funding” program.

Democratic Rep. Lou Correa of CA-46, for example, is seeking money to expand a Tustin veterans center and to improve parks in Anaheim, Orange and Garden Grove. And GOP Rep. Young Kim of CA-39 wants money to bolster firefighting efforts in Yorba Linda and to help the county build a new mental health facility.

Similar requests are common in most of the rest of the county — with some key exceptions. People living in much of coastal and eastern Orange County won’t get any of those federal funds, at least not through earmarks. Their representatives in the House, GOP Rep. Michelle Steel in CA-48 and Democratic Rep. Katie Porter of CA-45, are refusing to submit earmark requests over similar philosophical objections.

Porter is the only Democrat in the country who isn’t using the program. She argues the executive branch should make independent decisions about how to dole out funds, saying the national interest should outweigh the interest of any individual House member.

“Congress members should not be the ones directing funds to specific projects,” said Porter’s spokesman Jordan Wong. “That is the job of the executive branch, according to our system of separation of powers.”

Steel was among 101 out of 211 Republicans who didn’t request earmarks for projects in her district. Her spokeswoman Danielle Stewart said Steel is “working hard to help the community through the normal funding process,” which includes other appropriations requests, one-on-one meetings with appropriations leaders, and trying to get local money, rather than federal funding, for local projects.

Supporters will say Porter and Steel — who usually are on opposite ends of the political spectrum in terms of how they vote in Congress — are standing by principle even if it costs them political capital. Pork, after all, is a time-honored path to getting re-elected.

Detractors will say both representatives — Porter, in theory, for idealism, and Steel, in theory, for party loyalty — are putting personal ideology ahead of helping their constituents get federal dollars.

It remains to be seen if their stances will help or hurt them them in the 2022 elections, when both representatives are expected to seek re-election in targeted, purple districts.

Meanwhile, their House colleagues who did request earmark funding should start to find out incoming weeks which projects will get money. And with three quarters of House asking for funding, some experts hope the revived process might bring more bipartisan support to this year’s federal budget, since it’s tough for Republicans — the party that has threatened to kill appropriations bills in recent years — to vote against money for their pet projects.

“I don’t think this is going to be a silver bullet,” said Laura Blessing, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute who studies budgetary politics.

“But earmarks grease the wheels in a way that helps make us less gridlocked.”

How earmarks work

In the federal government’s regular spending process, Congress allocates money to a broad category of spending, such as highway repairs. Then the relevant executive branch agency, such as the Highway Trust Fund, allocates funding to specific projects, usually after ranking each project based on the greatest need.

In the earmarks process, individual members of Congress can bypass the federal rankings and evaluations and simply ask for a specific amount of money for a specific local project.

Earmarks aren’t new. The appropriations bill of 1789, signed by then President George Washington, included funds earmarked for a light house in Cape Henry, Virginia.

For the next two-plus centuries Congress members of all political stripes used earmarks, typically behind closed doors and mostly to fund projects that might struggle to get recognized in the regular spending process. Critics occasionally pushed back, but support for earmarks generally remained high. Voters got local projects (and, often, local jobs), and their Congress members got credit for making it happen. 

Then, in the 1990s into the early 2000s, this so-called pork barrel type of spending increased (though Blessing notes it always remained less than 1% of the $1.4 trillion in annual discretionary spending). In 2005, there were two high-profile earmark fails — the so-called “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska and an admission by San Diego area Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham that he’d accepted at least $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for using earmarks to benefit defense contractors.

In 2007, Congress introduced reforms that required members to disclose what projects they were seeking to fund and state that neither they nor their spouses had financial ties to the project. But opposition to the process continued to build, and with Tea Party Republicans and President Barack Obama leading the charge, earmark appropriations were banned in 2011.

Even with new safeguards aimed at curbing abuse, Lee Ohanian, an economics professor at UCLA, said there are objections to taxpayers around the country paying for a local project that might benefit a very small number of people. He cited a $5,000 earmark request by Rep. André Carson, D-Ind., to fund a “Secret Santa for Seniors” program as an example.

“It’s hard to support it from an economic perspective,” Ohanian said. With exceptions for very poor communities, where federal funding can have a high return on investment for everyone, he added that it makes economic sense for local communities to fund local projects. “We shouldn’t be asking others to pay for them.”

For several years, President Donald Trump (who pardoned Cunningham) and Congress members from both parties pushed to revive earmarks, but their efforts fizzled.

Then, in February, House Democrats announced they were officially resurrecting the process, though only with restrictions. Under the new rules lawmakers can make no more than 10 funding requests per year, money can’t go to for-profit companies or organizations, and House members have to submit evidence that there is community support for the project they’d like to fund. Also, the House can conduct random audits of expenses related to any project.

House members had until April 30 to submit requests, with some extensions possible. As of late May, 327 of 430 House members had requested earmark funds.

In June, those requests will go to the appropriate subcommittee or committee for review before being included in an appropriations bill, which will come back to Congress for a vote. If it passes, that bill would go to President Joe Biden for final approval.

Blessing and others say it’s no coincidence that Congress hasn’t approved appropriations bills since earmarks went away 10 years ago. Without earmarks, she said, there are few incentives for lawmakers to cross the aisle to get support for projects that can have real impacts in their communities.

Blessing hopes the revival of earmarks might dial down the rhetoric both during the budget process and in the coming election campaign.

“I don’t want the contest to be who can oppose the other party more and say the nastiest things about them,” she said. “I would much rather have a match-up where they can say, ‘I actually got some bills passed this Congress and I got you a bridge. Isn’t that nice?’”

Wish lists

When it comes to bragging rights for bringing home federal dollars, Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, is seeking the largest possible haul among Orange County representatives, with more than $45 million in earmark requests.

A whopping $30 million is for one request: to help the Army Corps of Engineers replenish sand along beaches in Encinitas and Solana Beach. A majority of Levin’s requests are for projects in the north San Diego County portion of his narrowly blue 49th District, including adding cameras to Oceanside Police Department vehicles, building a new homeless center in Oceanside and building a hydrogen fueling station to power electric city buses. Levin also requested $1.87 million to add bike lanes, landscaping and sidewalks, and improve improve roadways, in Dana Point’s Doheny Village area.

Next up is Kim, who was among 110 Republicans who did request earmarks despite GOP caucus opposition.

Kim asked for nearly $23 million in earmarks for projects in CA-39, which leans narrowly blue and includes portions of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Her requests are spread throughout the district, including $5 million for an overpass over railroad tracks along Turnbull Canyon road in Hacienda Heights and City of Industry, creating more fire-defensible space around homes in Chino Hills, and funding the North Orange County Public Safety Task Force, which brings together police chiefs and community organizations from 10 cities to reduce gang violence and address homelessness.

Correa requested $16 million in earmarks for his solidly blue 46th District. Requests include $314,000 to help Children’s Hospital of Orange County expand mental health services, $1 million to help Chapman University expand mapping capabilities at its Earth Systems Science and Data Solutions Lab, and $2 million to help Discovery Cube Orange County buy land in Santa Ana for a planned festival space.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, asked for $12 million in earmarks for his deep blue 47th District, which straddles Orange and Los Angeles counties and includes Catalina Island. The largest request is $4.7 million for sand replenishment and seawall repair at beaches in Avalon on Catalina. Other requests focus on education, health care and veterans programs in south Los Angeles County, plus $850,000 to build a new “parkette” in Stanton.

Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Whittier, submitted nearly $10 million in earmark requests largely to upgrade parks and other community facilities throughout the 38th District, which is also solidly blue and primarily in Los Angeles County but includes a sliver of Orange County. She also requested $2 million to add drought-tolerant landscaping on median islands throughout La Palma.

Many of the projects championed by local lawmakers align with causes close to their hearts. Levin’s wish list focuses largely on projects aimed at combating climate change, for example, while Lowenthal, a former professor, has a number of projects focused on education.

The goal, Blessing said, is for lawmakers to pitch projects they’ve vetted, that they believe will have a real impact on their communities, and that stand a realistic chance of getting built.

In practice, of course, representatives also always have an eye to reelection, Ohanian noted. But it was a bit tougher for them to target particular communities of voters with this round of earmarks because district boundaries will be redrawn before the next election.

So far, there hasn’t been much in the way of conservative blowback for earmark requests, likely because half of the Republican delegation — including several in targeted seats, such as Kim — are in that camp.

Steel and Kim’s opposite stances on this issue shows how the long-time friends who took office together in January as two of the first Korean American women in Congress continue to differentiate themselves, as Steel increasingly sides with the more conservative GOP faction while Kim continues brandishing her credentials as a moderate Republican.

While Porter may have left dollars for her district on the table, Ohanian said he doesn’t think her vocal objection to earmarks is likely to hurt her politically. The stance is in line with the brand she’s built, which is about continually pushing for fiscal oversight. She isn’t likely to attract a major Democratic challenger or to face a Republican challenger anxious to use this position against her. Plus, her opposition to earmark spending makes it harder for the GOP to continue to paint her as always standing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But Blessing said you never can tell how these issues will play out come election time.

“It’s a game, and the game isn’t played yet.”

Clancy: State lawmakers should not play politics with $three billion aid cash

NEW ORLEANS – If you had an old, leaking roof and Uncle Sam gave you $ 10,000, wouldn’t you spend that money on a new roof?

That is basically the question the legislature is facing. Only Louisiana receives more than $ 3 billion in COVID relief funds.

Our state’s infrastructure is among the worst in the nation. I’m talking about highways, bridges, drainage and other critical infrastructures.

Will our legislators spend the federal stimulus money where we need it most, or will they use it to make politics? The answer depends as much on you as it does on them. If you want better infrastructure, let your representatives and senators know. Otherwise there is no telling where the money will go.

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