News and Action Summary for November 14, 2014

Download a pdf version of the November 14, 2014 News and Action Summary!

News Summary 11-14-14

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News Posts, November 14, 2014

Here are news articles posted since the previous News and Action Summary:

The Big US/China Climate Deal: What It Is, and What It Isn’t

Cutting Taxes Doesn’t Spur Economic Growth

State Sued Over School Funding

Defining School Accountability: Test-and-Punish or Support-and-Improve?

Advocates and National Organizations Are Questioning Test-and-Punish School Accountability

Ravitch: Let’s Try “No Child Left Out”

Jonathan Kozol: A Prophet Calling Us All to Account (Education)

Absenteeism: Another Way to Measure School Poverty

Running a School On $160

States Are Prioritizing Prisons over Education, Budgets Show

California Proposition Says Yes to Redemption, Yes to Second Chance 

Minimum Wage Mythbusters

New Report Promotes “Two Generation” Approach to Family Well-Being

Supporting Working Families by Holding States Accountable: New Ideas from the Work Support Strategies Initiative

The Real Monsters (Poverty, etc.)

Chicago Teens Tell How Guns Affected Them and Their Neighborhoods

A Little Knowledge Is a Risky Thing: Wide Gap in What People Think They Know About Health Insurance and What They Actually Know

‘We Will Only Get Louder': Dozens of Communities Vote to Boot Big Money from Politics

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Advocacy Positions Available—November 14, 2014

Here is the most recent posting of jobs available in research and advocacy:

Clean Water Program Director—Environment America

Grassroots Organizer—Church World Service

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Opportunities for Funding, Competitions, and Places Where You Can Get Involved—November 14, 2014

Here is a current listing of opportunities including contests, grants, and efforts that you can join in Pennsylvania and nationally:

Florida Town Discourages Use of Mountaintop Removal Coal

Cool Congregations Challenge

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Newly Posted Resources—November 14, 2014

Here are the most recently posted resources available for individuals and congregations:

New Gun Violence Study Guide

Caring for Creation: A Sampler of Web Sites

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Chicago Teens Tell How Guns Affected Them and Their Neighborhoods

Posted Nov 01, 2014 05:25 AM CDT

For five years, teenage sisters J’Doria and Jari Taylor lived on a tree-lined street of brick homes in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood, and there they grew familiar with the sound of gunfire. The girls didn’t need police statistics to tell them they were surrounded by violence, but those statistics support their impressions. In every month of 2013, the last year they lived there, an average of 70 violent crimes were reported from somewhere in Gresham, making it one of America’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

Though their family moved to Lansing, Illinois, a quiet community less than 20 miles from their old home, the girls still worry about guns on the streets. They hate the violence, but understand the need for people to protect themselves. Their father, 40-year-old train engineer Dorian Compton, has been a legal gun owner for about a decade. He keeps his 9 mm handgun and small pistol locked in a safe.

“You’re responsible for providing protection to your family,” says Compton, a gun rights advocate. “To think that that would have been limited or I wouldn’t have been able to meet the same force with the same force would have been to me a little naive.”

Read the rest of the story at http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/from_playgrounds_to_battlegrounds_chicago_teens_tell_how_guns_affected_them.

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Caretakers of God’s Creation: A Discussion with Reverend Pat Watkins, UMC—November 20, Pittsburgh

From Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light (http://www.paipl.org):

Open to all, but register at https://www.go-gba.org/event/?page=CiviCRM&q=civicrm/event/register&id=274.

The Pittsburgh 2030 District, a strategic initiative of the Green Building Alliance, invites to you join Reverend Pat Watkins, a nationally recognized speaker, for a special event hosted at the St. Nickolas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland.   Please SHARE this invitation within your religious circles, including churches outside of the 2030 District boundaries in Oakland and Downtown. All are welcome. We are hoping for a robust and lively discussion, and invite questions in advance so we can shape the agenda.

Rev. Watkins, who is tasked with leading a ministry focused on God’s Renewed Creation globally, is coming to the Pittsburgh area. Previously a featured panelist at the White House representing general Christian theology, Rev. Watkins will speak about the importance of boosting the energy efficiency of the nation’s houses of worship. He will also bring to light the United Methodist understandings of stewardship as well as the specific ways Caretakers of God’s Creation is empowering United Methodist congregations to practice care of creation. He will answer questions about his mission and give examples of how the United Methodist Church is becoming green.

More on Rev. Watkins.

When: Thursday, November 20, 2014, 11-1pm. Light lunch will be provided (please note any dietary restrictions in your registration). Free.

Where: St. Nickolas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 419 S Dithridge St, Pittsburgh, PA, (412) 682-3866. Parking is limited; public transportation is encouraged.

Who should attend: Church leadership, facilities managers, those in charge of building improvements in Pittsburgh’s church community. Registration is limited, so please let us know if you will attend.

Click here to register for the event before Monday, Nov 17th, or email me at annas@gbapgh.org for later registration.

Learn more: http://www.paipl.us/event/caretakers-of-gods-creation-a-discussion-with-reverend-pat-watkins-umc/

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Election 2014 Roundup from Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center

From the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (http://www.pennbpc.org):

Gov. Tom Corbett lost his reelection bid to Democrat Tom Wolf, a York County businessman and former state revenue secretary, in an otherwise Republican sweep in Tuesday’s mid-term election. Consequently, the new Gov. Wolf will face challenges getting his agenda, which includes a reinvestment in education, through a more-Republican-than-ever legislature.

Wolf’s election means that Democrats hold all four statewide elected offices. He joins Treasurer Rob McCord, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Pennsylvania Republicans expanded their existing majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. They added three seats in the state Senate for a new 30-20 majority, and won eight more seats in the state House of Representatives, for a new 119-84 majority of historic proportions there, according to unofficial election results.  That’s the largest majority for Republicans in the House in memory, and the largest of any party since Democrats had 126 seats during the 1957-58 session, according to Capitolwire.com.

Incumbent House Democrats Jesse White of Washington County, Rick Mirabito of Lycoming County and Mark Painter of Montgomery County fell to their respective Republican challengers, Jason Ortitay, Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland and former state Rep. Tom Quigley (whom Painter unseated in 2012).

House Republicans picked up five open seats that had previously been held by Democrats. Ryan Warner won Rep. Deb Kula’s old seat in the 52nd District; Harry Lewis won in the new 74th District that was moved to Chester County from Cambria County; David Parker won the new 115th District seat in Monroe County; Aaron Kaufer won Rep. Phyllis Mundy’s old seat in the 120th District; and Kate Klunk ran unopposed for the new 169th District, moved from Philadelphia to southern York County.

The GOP also held on to eight open seats that had been held by Republicans. The new freshman Republican members of the House will be: Barry Jozwiak (5th District), Parke Wentling (17th), Brett Miller (41st), Cris Dush (66th), Russ Diamond (102nd), Craig Staats (145th), James Santora (163rd) and Jack Rader, Jr. (176th).

The 81st District in Huntingdon County will have a new Republican representative too. Richard Irwin, who won the Republican primary as a write-in candidate, defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Fleck, the first openly gay member of the General Assembly, who won the Democratic primary as a write-in.

House Democrats held on to two open seats currently held by Democrats. Peter Schweyer will replace Rep. Erin C. Molchany in the 22nd District in Allegheny County, and Mike Driscoll will replace Rep. Michael P. McGeehan in the 173rd District in Philadelphia.

Democrats will see one of their seats open when the new session begins. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Philadelphia, won his race for the U.S. House of Representatives, so a special election will be held in the 170th District to replace him.

The enlarged Republican majorities in the General Assembly will face a serious budget shortfall next year that the current legislature failed to address this year.  They will have two choices: new cuts to education and colleges, which will lead to higher local property taxes, or a severance tax on gas drillers.

Many Pennsylvania political analysts are attributing Corbett’s loss on an otherwise Republican night, both nationally and statewide, to his funding cuts to education. Voters seemed to reject Corbett’s argument that he didn’t cut state education spending.  And they linked local property tax increases, larger class sizes, teacher layoffs and program eliminations to his budget cuts.

Pennsylvanians spoke with their votes for governor, suggesting broad support for Wolf’s proposals to increase school funding and institute a severance tax on natural gas.  Even in solidly Republican districts, especially in the southeast, incumbents running for reelection had to come out on the record in support of public education funding, and several pledged support for a severance tax.

The House and Senate will elect new leaders on Nov. 12, and based on the new configuration there may be changes. Senate Majority Leader Dominick Pileggi lost a key supporter late in October, and his position may well be in jeopardy.

Tom Wolf, like Ed Rendell in 2002, will enter office with firm Republican majorities in the legislature. How this will affect his agenda and the chances for success in advancing his priorities remains to be seen. His 55% to 45% defeat of a sitting governor, in a year that otherwise favored Republicans, allows him to claim a mandate.

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Tell the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to Protect Our Water

From Earth Works (http://www.earthworksaction.org/):

Urge the SRBC to revise their proposed rules on water and drilling at http://org.salsalabs.com/o/676/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16673.

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) is charged with protecting and managing water resources across Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland. As shale gas development expands, more rivers, streams, and drinking water resources are threatened.

Yet the PA Auditor General, Earthworks, and environmental organizations have recently documented that state regulators simply can’t keep up with the pace of operations.

What’s SRBC’s response? Reduce agency oversight and leave drillers alone for years at a time.

SRBC’s proposed rules would extend the approval period for water withdrawal permits to 15 years from the current 5. Gas operators could take water for three times as long as they do now before SRBC would be required to consider if they are harming water resources, fish, and aquatic systems.

SRBC needs to be reminded that its job is to protect the environment and serve the public-not make things easier for drillers.

TAKE ACTION: Tell the SRBC to protect our water at http://org.salsalabs.com/o/676/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16673.

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Urge the President to Limit Censorship of Torture Report

From the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (http://www.nrcat.org):

There’s no sugar-coating it – some key champions in the fight to end torture lost re-election this week.  It will be a different Congress when it reconvenes in 2015 and it will create new challenges.  Important Congressional Committees will be chaired by new people and Senate leadership has shifted hands as well.Torture report

As we move forward, we want to recognize the work that you, our tireless volunteers, did to raise the issue of torture during the election and the work you’ve done over many years to advocate for policies that will put a permanent end to torture.  By writing letters to the editor of your local papers, organizing public vigils and educational events, and writing to your Members of Congress, you’ve kept the issue of torture on the national agenda.  The election has created new challenges, and your good work is as important now as it has ever been.

Because Committee leadership will change at the end of the year, this coming 30-45 days in the lame duck session of Congress may be our last best chance to get key portions of the Torture Report released without being censored beyond readability.

Please contact President Obama now at http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2162/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16687 and tell him that you expect his Administration and the CIA to drop their demands for unreasonable redactions to the report.  You can also contact our Senators at this link to tell them that you think the public ought to be able to read the full truth about torture.

Thank you for helping us obtain the truth about torture.  Please write to your Senators and President Obama today.

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