Tag: state

In a state known for ‘law and order,’ Texas Republicans struggle to make the message stick

But there are signs the message has fallen flat, even with some suburban Republican voters who say the efforts to mirror President Trump’s demonization of “Democratic-run cities” and social justice demonstrations needlessly stoke fear and exacerbate political divisiveness.

In the longtime Republican stronghold of Collin County, home to two of the nation’s most competitive state legislative contests, Republican candidates and supporters have spotlighted rising crime rates in neighboring Dallas, where homicides are hovering near a 10-year high. But lifelong Republican Jim Murry said he shakes his head — or shouts at his television screen — when he hears Abbott or Trump rail against “violent” protesters or accuse Democrats of wanting to decimate local police forces.

“To me, it’s all unfounded fear,” said Murry, 64, as he stood among his neighbors’ spacious homes and manicured lawns in west Plano, a Dallas suburb. The idea that Democrats “are going to ruin the suburbs is just ridiculous. Crime is not really an issue here.”

But in many parts of Plano, one of the epicenters of the statehouse fight, Trump lawn signs still outnumber those supporting Biden, especially in the most affluent neighborhoods, and some residents say Democrats are too soft on crime. One resident said several of his neighbors bought guns after racial justice protests erupted this summer. Another blamed Democratic leaders in Dallas for his 26-year-old son’s desire to move back to Plano because he no longer feels safe in the city.

Private GOP polling shows a vast majority of suburban Texas voters reject “defunding the police,” said Austin Chambers, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee — a message the GOP has successfully tied to Democratic candidates in some voters’ minds, even over those Democrats’ objections.

“If they go along these lines and defund the police, we will go back to the days of vigilantes, where we all wear sidearms,” said Plano resident Jack Lusk, 77, a longtime Republican voter and retired pharmacist.

But the GOP’s law-and-order message also has butted up against changing demographics and priorities in the suburbs as Democrats target more than a dozen state House districts, many just outside of Houston or Dallas. The state has been a top priority for both parties in the nationwide battle for statehouses: The GOP controls 29 state legislatures and Democrats hope to flip more than a half-dozen chambers, including in Minnesota, Arizona and Pennsylvania, next month.

The two competitive statehouse races in Collin County are getting a boost from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Willie Nelson, who have latched onto a phone-bank campaign organized by Beto O’Rourke.

Since Democrats made major inroads in the Texas suburbs in 2018, Abbott has been attempting to halt their momentum by touting GOP support for law enforcement. He has railed against Democratic leaders in Austin, the state capital, who voted to divert $150 million from policing to housing, social service and health-care initiatives.

Abbott responded by proposing legislation that would cut off funding and limit the powers of Texas cities that reduce police department

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The Current State Of The Hotel Industry Isn’t ‘Sustainable’ Without Government Funding, CEO Says

Topline

The American hotel industry could be on the brink of collapse with as much as two-thirds of the nation’s hotels set to shutter in six months without financial help from the government and millions of industry workers laid off, a situation CEO of Best Western Hotels David Kong told CNBC on Monday was “not sustainable.”

Key Facts

Hotels have been the victim of a devastating one-two punch from the coronavirus pandemic, with forced closures leading to massive layoffs, and a sharp decline in bookings with travelers afraid checking in might mean contracting the virus.

“It’s really hard to say when a recovery is going to be. This situation we are in now, it’s not sustainable. It’s really bad,” Kong, who recently spoke with both the White House and Congressional Democrats about stimulus funding, told CNBC.

Kong noted the severity of the industry’s cash flow problem, saying “you can only do so much with eliminating expenses and cutting people, you still need revenue,” which is difficult with less people willing or able to travel and hotels slashing prices in a bid to fill rooms.

Without government help, over 38,000 of the nation’s almost 58,000 hotels could be forced to shut down in six months, according to a recent report by the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

If Congress doesn’t extend PPP loans or expand Main street loans, the AHLA estimates over 3,700,000 jobs related to the hotel industry could be lost, according to the report.

Key Background

The battle on Capitol Hill and in the White House for a new coronavirus stimulus package has been long, complicated, and as the days and months grow longer since the CARES Act was passed, baffling. Republicans and Democrats can’t find common ground, and it seems almost daily President Donald Trump is alternately pulling the plug on stimulus talks or advocating for a bigger and bigger package. The airline industry cadged $32 billion in payroll support in the CARES Act and is pushing hard for a reup, but other parts of the travel industry like hotels haven’t been able to get support on Capitol Hill. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she won’t support a stimulus plan that’s less than $2.2 trillion, and Republicans hit a ceiling at around $1 trillion, though their latest plan included only $300 billion in new spending. Meanwhile, Trump, who blew up stimulus talks between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin shortly after being released from Walter Reed hospital, on Friday claimed to want a greater stimulus package than both Republicans and Democrats.

Big Number

33%. That’s how many Americans say they’ve traveled for pleasure since March, according to the AHLA, and only 38% say they may travel by the end of the year.

Key Quote

“It’s time for Congress to put politics aside and prioritize American workers in the hardest-hit industries. Hotels are cornerstones of the communities they serve, building strong local economies and supporting

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Fake “official” drop boxes set up by California GOP may be in “violation of state law”: official

Ballot Box
Ballot Box

A woman places her ballot paper in the box during early voting Getty Images/Mark Ralston

The California Republican Party is operating unofficial ballot drop boxes that Secretary of State Alex Padilla said on Sunday were in “violation of state law.”

Jordan Tygh, a regional field director for the California Republican Party, promoted an “official ballot drop off box” on Twitter and urged followers to message him for “convenient locations” to drop their ballots last week, The Orange County Register first reported. One voter reported an “Official Ballot Drop Box” that was “approved and bought by the GOP” outside of a Los Angeles area church before it was removed after county officials warned on social media that it was “not an official vote by mail drop box and does not comply with [state] regulations for drop boxes,” according to KCAL.

The boxes were set up across Southern California in front of churches, gyms, and gun stores by the California GOP, according to The Washington Post. One chapter of the state Republican Party in California rolled out its own drop-off sites while echoing President Donald Trump’s baseless allegations over the “security” of mail voting even though it has been repeatedly shown to be safe and secure.

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“CONSERVATIVE VOTER ALERT!,” the Fresno GOP said while announcing a list of unofficial locations to drop off ballots. “President Trump is very concerned about the lack of security with mail in ballots. Don’t take a chance that your vote will not be counted. Once your ballot arrives in the mail, mark your ballot completely and then walk it in, as soon as possible, to one of the secure locations listed below. Make sure your vote counts!”

Padilla, a Democrat, said on Sunday that it was illegal to operate unofficial ballot drop boxes.

“Operating unofficial ballot drop boxes — especially those misrepresented as official drop boxes — is not just misleading to voters, it’s a violation of state law,” he told the Post. “My office is coordinating with local officials to address the multiple reports of unauthorized ballot drop boxes. Californians should only use official ballot drop boxes that have been deployed and secured by their county elections office.”

The OC Register reported that those operating the unofficial drop boxes could face felony charges that carry up to two to four years in prison.

Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley told the the outlet that he had received hundreds of complaints about the drop boxes.

“What we did was started to look into it, notified the state, and the Secretary of State issued guidance this afternoon that it is illegal and you can’t do that,” he said. “It would be like me installing a mailbox out on the

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CA GOP’s Unsanctioned Ballot Drop Boxes May Violate Law, Secretary Of State Says

The California Republican Party has advertised unsanctioned ballot drop boxes, prompting a warning from the state’s top election official that such boxes violate the law. 

The drop boxes, some of which claim to be “official,” weren’t actually installed by the state.

Rather, they’re the product of the state’s Republican Party, according to several reports. In a since-removed list of “Ballot Collection Box Locations” on its website, the Fresno County Republican Party listed the location of several such unsanctioned drop boxes, including several gun shops, a gas station and the county party’s headquarters. 

It’s perhaps a bit ironic that the GOP, currently trying to restrict drop box use in multiple states, has created its own boxes in California.

The state party has defended the installations, comparing them to volunteers that collect ballots face-to-face to be submitted later — a practice sometimes disparagingly called “ballot harvesting.” 

But the use of unsanctioned drop boxes doesn’t actually involve voters handing their ballots over to another person for them to submit to elections officials, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) pointed out in a memo dated Sunday

“[T]he use of unauthorized, non-official vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes does not comply with state law governing ballot collection activities,” he wrote, noting that official drop boxes are required to meet a number of security requirements and are listed on state websites. 

“The use of non-official vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes would be misleading to the public and could result in confusion and a perceived lack of transparency on behalf of county elections officials,” Padilla added.

The Washington Post reported on the drop boxes Monday morning, and the Orange County Register and KCAL reported on them prior to the Post.

“Operating unofficial ballot drop boxes — especially those misrepresented as official drop boxes — is not just misleading to voters, it’s a violation of state law,” Padilla said in a statement to the Post. “My office is coordinating with local officials to address the multiple reports of unauthorized ballot drop boxes. Californians should only use official ballot drop boxes that have been deployed and secured by their county elections office.”

“It would be like me installing a mailbox out on the corner – the post office is the one that installs mailboxes,” Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley told the Register of the drop boxes. 

Padilla’s memo also noted possible criminal penalties for setting up unofficial drop boxes. 

In his memo, he cited a section in the state’s election code, 18575, that sets out potential felony charges for anyone who, “Not being an election officer, performs or discharges any of the duties of an election officer in regard to the handling, counting, or

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A poorly worded state law could decide the fate of R.I. political operative

The judge said he won’t issue a ruling in the high-profile trial for another five to seven weeks – meaning the verdict will come in after Election Day, when Mattiello faces another hard-fought re-election campaign in House District 15.

The weeklong trial concluded on Friday after prosecutors made final oral arguments, claiming that Britt committed a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison when he funneled $1,000 to a defeated Republican candidate, Shawna Lawton, so she could put out a mailer endorsing Mattiello, a Cranston Democrat.

Mattiello testified on Thursday, saying he never authorized the Lawton mailer and was angry when it hit the mailboxes in his district just before Election Day.

After hearing final arguments, Procaccini said Rhode Island’s money laundering statute has “gone virtually unnoticed” for many years.

“I consulted with my colleagues. I’ve been on the bench for 20 years,” he said. “No one recalls a money laundering case in the state Superior Court being filed or pursued in any way.”

Without prior cases as a guide, much will depend on the interpretation of the law’s language, he said. But the problem, he said, is that, “It does not read in a smooth, simple straightforward fashion.”

For instance, he said, the statute uses colons and semicolons rather than the commas found in most criminal laws, and it doesn’t use the “and/or” conjunction found in many laws.

So, Procaccini said, it remains unclear if the elements of the crime spelled out in the law match the elements outlined in Britt’s indictment.

Procaccini noted that other states have different degrees of money laundering crimes, based in part on the amount of money involved. But Rhode Island has just one level of money laundering and it carries a fine of up to $500,000 and prison term of up to 20 years.

So, he said, he wants to be sure that he is properly interpreting that statute, and he wants to be sure it has been properly charged and applied.

“Does the plain language of the indictment and the statute fairly and properly apprise the defendant of what he has been charged with?” Procaccini said.

The judge asked lawyers for both sides to address those issues in legal memos that are due on Oct. 19. Once he receives those memos, he said, he expects to issue a ruling within four to six weeks.

That would mean the verdict would come after the Nov. 3 general election, when Mattiello faces Republican activist Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, who is married to Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung.

Procaccini said he will provide a week’s advance notice of the verdict. That will offer enough time for Britt, who now lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to return to Rhode Island. Britt was returning to Florida and excused from appearing in court Friday.

Special Attorney General Stephen G. Dambruch made a closing statement Friday, outlining the sequence of events that began after Britt began working as a consultant for the Mattiello campaign in 2016.

State prosecutor Stephen G. Dambruch makes closing arguments at the Jeffrey T. Britt money-laundering trial.
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Madrid residents angry as Spain government reimposes state of emergency

By Guillermo Martinez

MADRID (Reuters) – People in Madrid and the surrounding towns reacted with anger on Friday after the Socialist-led government invoked a state of emergency to reimpose with immediate effect a partial lockdown to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Some of the 3.8 million people affected in the capital and eight satellite towns said the politicians had bickered while contagion rates soared.

“They are clowns, they are making fun of us as much as they can and more. They (politicians) have no shame,” said Pilar Lopez, a cleaner.

Shop assistant Linda, who did not give her second name, thought the blanket state of emergency imposed on the capital was going too far.

“I think certain areas should be restricted, but not the entire Madrid region,” she said.

Felix, 49, a Madrid resident, blamed irresponsible behaviour by residents for high infection rates.

“It’s also got to do with the lack of precaution from citizens. If we had behaved better we would not be at this point,” he said.

Health Minister Salvador Illa chastised the regional authority for inaction at a press conference.

“Patience has its limits. It is important that the level of infection in Madrid does not extend to the rest of Spain,” Illa said.

Spain said on Friday it had now recorded 861,112 coronavirus cases – the highest number in Western Europe – and 32,929 deaths.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro, Graham Keeley, Miguel Gutierrez Rosas, Juan Medina, Guillermo Martinez; Additional reporting by Catherine Macdonald; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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State parks society honors Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann

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The New York State Recreation and Park Society recently honored Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann with its 2020 Elected Official of the Year Award.

The honor is bestowed upon an individual who “provides exemplary support to parks and recreation and made significant contributions to the parks and recreation field through active participation, advocacy or through policy and legislation,” according to the society.

Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann, with his dogs Ollie and Livvy, and Megan Leavey and her dog Patriot, during the dedication ceremony for the town’s dog park on Sept. 21, 2018 (Photo: Town of Clarkstown)

CLARKSTOWN: Town’s oldest home’s 2nd act: Movie set?

CLARKSTOWN: Dog park dedicated to Megan Leavey, Rex, Police K-9s

In nominating Hoehmann for the award, Clarkstown Parks and Recreation Superintendent Elaine Apfelbaum singled out some accomplishments during his tenure serving the town’s 85,000 residents:

  • The December 2017 opening of Clarkstown’s Winter Wonderland, a new LED light display constructed through a portion of the walking trail surrounding the Congers Community Center and Congers Lake Memorial Park.
  • Upgrades and renovations at the town’s aquatic facilities, including Germonds Pool in West Nyack and Lake Nanuet.
  • Planning a two-phase, $6 million renovation of Street Community Center.
  • Restoration and renovations at the 9-acre Traphagen property in West Nyack, which includes the 1791 Tallman-Budke House and the 1820 Vanderbilt-Budke-Traphagen House. The property was connected to Germonds Park with walking trails.
  • The purchase of 4.3 acres of property owned by St. Peter’s Syro-Malankara Catholic Church with plans to develop nature trails that connect to the Long Path and integrate into the county-owned Mountainview Nature Park.
  • Working with the Sisters of Marydell and the Trust for Public Land, the Village of Upper Nyack and state Parks and Recreation Office, Clarkstown invested $300,000 in February 2017 to preserve and expand Hook Mountain Park by 30 acres, extending the Long Path, and connecting it with the Hudson River Valley Greenway at Nyack Beach State Park.
  • In 2018, the town installed a new playground at Kings Park in Valley Cottage with safety surface and adult exercise equipment.
  • In 2018, ​the town dedicated its first dog park in honor of Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey, a Purple Heart recipient, and Sgt. Rex and Clarkstown Police K-9s.

Hoehmann, who was elected supervisor in November 2015 and re-elected in 2017 and 2019, previously served as a town council member from 2009-2015.

“Clarkstown has long been known for its exceptional parks system and programs and I’m delighted that we’re being recognized for all the enhancements that we’ve done over the last five years,” he said.

The New York State Recreation and Park Society, founded in 1940, advances the value of parks, recreation, and leisure services

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Spain’s government imposes state of emergency ahead of a holiday weekend, to prevent Madrid residents from spreading COVID-19

Madrid’s Puerta de Alcala on Oct. 3, 2020.


MarketWatch/Kollmeyer

Just hours ahead of the start of a long holiday weekend, the Spanish government put the Madrid region under a state of emergency on Friday, determined to stop an exodus of potentially infected residents.

In past years, Monday’s Hispanic Day holiday would have seen Spaniards clog highways and trains to reach their beach and countryside second homes. But surging coronavirus cases in the Madrid region, one of the worst infected in Spain, had the government scrambling to curtail those plans.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s leftist coalition government and Madrid’s right-wing premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso have been at loggerheads for weeks over how to combat the region’s climbing cases.

A week ago, fresh restrictions were ordered by the central government for all areas of Spain that met certain criteria, which included Madrid. The rules limit residents to their region or municipality, except under certain situations, impose capacity restrictions and closure times for businesses of 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. for bars and restaurants. As well, no more than six people can gather either inside or outside at one time.

Read: Prepare for a ‘marathon’ and two years of wearing masks to battle COVID-19, says prominent Spanish virologist

Ayuso fought the measures with legal action and appeared to briefly win the battle when a high court on Thursday ruled that the government needed a state of alarm, such as was seen in the spring, to limit free movement. According to El País, which cited a government source, Ayuso refused to negotiate and the state of alarm went ahead for nine municipalities in the region, including the capital.

“At this point, patience has a limit. None so blind as those who will not see,” said Salvador Illa, Spain’s health minister, at a news conference on Friday. “As a consequence, we have to take measures to protect the health of Madrilenos and avoid the situation spreading to other regions and put in danger the health of more people.”

Illa added that it was “extremely important” that Madrid’s high infection rates not spread across the rest of Spain. The state of emergency will last for 15 days and Sánchez can’t extend it without further support from the Congress of Deputies and the lower house of parliament, said El País.

On Thursday, the government reported Spain had seen 256 positive cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days, which was a slight improvement on the 269 reported a week ago. The Madrid region dropped from 647 to 563, and the harder-hit Navarra region fell to 655 from 692, respectively, data showed. Spain’s official death toll stands at 32,688.

The World Health Organization said that there was a record one-day increase in global cases over the last 24 hours. Spain has thus far managed to avoid the national catastrophe of the spring, and so hospitals are not overrun and the death rate is far lower than earlier this year.

The big difference this time for those under

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Lock down or face state of emergency, Spanish government tells Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) – Madrid must enforce travel restrictions ordered by the health ministry to limit novel coronavirus outbreaks or the national government will impose a state of emergency that would force it to comply, the government said late on Thursday.



a man walking in the snow: Passengers arrive at Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport in Madrid


© Reuters/SERGIO PEREZ
Passengers arrive at Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport in Madrid

In the latest escalation of tensions between the two administrations, the government said it would hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Friday morning to decree the state of emergency if Madrid does not impose the restrictions or request intervention.

Following a Health Ministry order, Madrid authorities reluctantly barred all non essential travel in and out of the city and nine surrounding towns last Friday to curb the spread of COVID-19 in one of Europe’s worst virus hotspots.

But a Madrid regional court on Thursday annulled the measures, ruling the government had overstepped its mandate and the restrictions interfered with fundamental human rights.[

Declaring a state of emergency – the same legal framework that underpinned Spain’s tough lockdown during the first wave of the virus – would grant the national government the powers to restrict movement.

According to a government statement, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told Madrid’s conservative regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso that she must either enforce the restrictions or request a state of emergency, or the central government would unilaterally impose one.

“In any of the three cases the measures would be exactly the same as those already being applied, the only thing that would change would be the legal instrument,” the statement said.

Ayuso said regional officials would discuss alternatives on Friday morning.

“We hope to agree on a solution that benefits citizens and provides clarity,” she said in a statement.

Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right Vox party, said he would call a nationwide protest on Monday if a new state of emergency was passed.

“Spaniards won’t let themselves be imprisoned again,” he tweeted.

(Reporting by Nathan Allen and Belén Carreño; editing by Grant McCool and Richard Pullin)

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Madrid must impose travel restrictions or face state of emergency, Spanish government says

MADRID (Reuters) – Madrid must enforce travel restrictions ordered by the health ministry to limit novel coronavirus outbreaks or the national government will impose a state of emergency that would force it to comply, the government said late on Thursday.

The government will hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Friday morning to decree the state of emergency if Madrid does not impose the restrictions or request intervention, the government said.

Following a Health Ministry order, Madrid authorities reluctantly barred all non essential travel to and from the city and nine surrounding towns last Friday to curb the spread of COVID-19 in one of Europe’s worst virus hotspots. [nL8N2GZ2PQ][nL8N2GW30R]

A Madrid regional court on Thursday annulled the measures ordered by the national health ministry, ruling the government had overstepped its mandate and the restrictions interfered with fundamental human rights.

Declaring a state of emergency – the same legal framework that underpinned Spain’s tough lockdown during the first wave of the virus – would grant the national government the powers to restrict movement.

According to a government statement, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told Madrid’s conservative regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso that she must either enforce the restrictions, request a state of emergency or the central government would unilaterally impose one.

“In any of the three cases the measures would be exactly the same as those already being applied, the only thing that would change would be the legal instrument,” the government said.

Ayuso said regional officials would discuss alternatives on Friday morning.

“We hope to agree on a solution that benefits citizens and provides clarity,” she said in a statement.

(Reporting by Nathan Allen and Belén Carreño; editing by Grant McCool)

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