Indy Digest: April 6, 2023
Let’s take a look at what’s happening in Tennessee. A recap:
• On March 27, a former student of The Covenant School in Nashville opened fire and killed three children and three teachers. According to The Washington Post, it was the 377th school shooting since Columbine in 1999.
• According to The New York Times: “Last Thursday, Representatives (Justin) Jones, (Justin J.) Pearson and (Gloria) Johnson—whose districts are in Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, the state’s three largest cities—interrupted the legislature by chanting ‘No action, no peace’ on the House floor. Legislative proceedings were forced to a halt.” This happened because “the Republicans who control state government, led by Gov. Bill Lee, have rejected the calls for tighter gun laws and have largely focused instead on toughening school security.”
• Today, the Tennessee Legislature, where Republicans have a supermajority, voted to expel these three Democrats. Jones and Pearson, both Black men, were voted out. Johnson, who is white, survived by a single vote.
Why? According to The Associated Press: “Republican Rep. Gino Bulso said the three Democratic representatives ‘effectively conducted a mutiny.’ ‘The gentleman shows no remorse,’ Bulso said, referring to Jones. ‘He does not even recognize that what he did was wrong. So not to expel him would simply invite him and his colleagues to engage in mutiny on the House floor.’”
I looked up the definition of mutiny. A protest, even a disruptive one, on the floor of a legislature isn’t a mutiny.
Then there’s this, also from that AP story: “Republican Rep. Sabi Kumar advised Jones to be more collegial and less focused on race. ‘You have a lot to offer, but offer it in a vein where people are accepting of your ideas,’ Kumar said. Jones said he did not intend to assimilate in order to be accepted. ‘I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to make a change for my community,’ he replied.”
Back to The New York Times: “Expulsions of lawmakers from state legislatures have been rare in American history. Six lawmakers were expelled from the Tennessee House in 1866, immediately after the Civil War, for seeking to prevent the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, which granted citizenship to formerly enslaved people. Since then, the House of Representatives in Tennessee has voted only twice to oust a lawmaker. Both votes were bipartisan: in 1980, after a sitting lawmaker was convicted of soliciting a bribe, and in 2016, after the House majority whip faced allegations of sexual misconduct while in office.”
In other words, what’s happening here is basically unprecedented. Members of one party don’t kick members of another party out of a legislature simply because of a protest … until Tennessee, in 2023, in the wake of yet another school shooting.
From the Independent
Advocates Needed: The Roost Lounge Is Offering Drag and Comedy Events to Benefit Voices for Children
By Cat Makino
April 4th, 2023
The Roost Foundation is celebrating Easter Sunday with two special events—both of which will benefit Voices for Children.
Stadiums and Sonic Drive-ins: Hardcore Punk Band Scowl Brings Raucous Energy and a Shifting Sound to Coachella
By Matt King
April 5th, 2023
Scowl moves from generator shows to green rooms with catering—and now Coachella.
Vine Social: Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? How Are Some Tasty Wines So Inexpensive?
By Katie Finn
April 4th, 2023
As in any other industry—whether it’s art, restaurants, housing or cars—there are varying price points for wine that are dictated by the rarity of it, the quality of materials that go into it, and the talent that produced it.
The Lucky 13: Lindsey Jordan, Frontwoman of Snail Mail, Performing at Coachella
By Matt King
April 6th, 2023
Get to better know Lindsey Jordan, the frontwoman of Coachella performer Snail Mail.
The Indy Endorsement: The Santa Fe New Mexican Egg Rolls at Cowboy Cantina
By Jimmy Boegle
April 5th, 2023
Cowboy Cantina is off to a rather successful start; we went there on a Monday, and even though the place is quite large, almost all of the tables were occupied.
The Weekly Independent Comics Page for April 6, 2023!
April 6th, 2023
Topics touched upon this week include kielbasa, biceps, old sofas on sidewalks, fiduciary duties—and much more!
• It’s been a while since we’ve mentioned new SARS-CoV-2 variants in this space, but here’s a piece from Time magazine on XBB.1.16, which is driving a surge in cases in India. That’s the bad news. The not-bad: “Despite the increase in cases, reported hospitalizations and deaths in India have remained low, says Dr. Monica Gandhi, associate division chief at UC San Francisco’s Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine.”
• Our partners at Calmatters report on an increasing lack of government transparency with the media. Key quote: “Last month, the Capitol Correspondents Association of California, which represents journalists who cover the state Capitol and advocates for improved press access, distributed guidelines to its members about how to handle some of the increasingly common hurdles they encounter, including government agencies asking for questions in advance and refusing to attribute information to their spokespeople. Ashley Zavala, president of the correspondents association who covers state government and politics for Sacramento television station KCRA, said the extraordinary step was prompted by years of complaints from Capitol press about problems reporting on Gov. Gavin Newsom, his administration and the Legislature. These have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which accelerated a shift to digital communication that has transformed how the state government discloses its work. … Many of the standard features of government beat reporting—including in-person press conferences, with an opportunity for follow-up questions, and media phone lines where journalists could talk to a live staffer—disappeared three years ago with the shutdown orders and have been slow to return, if at all.”
• As an illustration of the power of good journalism, we turn to ProPublica, which published a story that was top news today (until Tennessee started doing its thing). The headline is, simply, “Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire.” The lede: “In late June 2019, right after the U.S. Supreme Court released its final opinion of the term, Justice Clarence Thomas boarded a large private jet headed to Indonesia. He and his wife were going on vacation: nine days of island-hopping in a volcanic archipelago on a superyacht staffed by a coterie of attendants and a private chef. If Thomas had chartered the plane and the 162-foot yacht himself, the total cost of the trip could have exceeded $500,000. Fortunately for him, that wasn’t necessary: He was on vacation with real estate magnate and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, who owned the jet — and the yacht, too. For more than two decades, Thomas has accepted luxury trips virtually every year from the Dallas businessman without disclosing them, documents and interviews show. … The extent and frequency of Crow’s apparent gifts to Thomas have no known precedent in the modern history of the U.S. Supreme Court. These trips appeared nowhere on Thomas’ financial disclosures. His failure to report the flights appears to violate a law passed after Watergate that requires justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts, two ethics law experts said. He also should have disclosed his trips on the yacht, these experts said.”
• California is no longer requiring people to mask up in hospitals and other medical facilities—and some nurses aren’t happy. CBS Bay Area says: “Members of the California Nurses Association say the state’s decision to stop requiring masks in health care settings this week puts them at higher risk for catching COVID-19. Some nurses argue long COVID remains a serious concern for them more than three years into the pandemic. ‘We know that wearing a mask—a high-quality mask, a well-fitted mask—is a very simple, non-pharmaceutical intervention that everyone can do to protect themselves from COVID,’ said Dolores Flanagan, a nurse who works in San Francisco. ‘It just doesn’t follow the science. It doesn’t make sense. It is an afront to everything that nurses do.’ The California Department of Public Health announced in March that the new policy would take effect on April 3. Instead of a statewide requirement, local health departments and facilities would decide what requirements are best for them.”
• The Oswit Land Trust has announced another land acquisition. The Palm Springs Post says: “Oswit Land Trust, formed in 2016 to purchase and preserve a South Palm Springs Canyon, announced it had partnered with Trust for Public Land (TPL) to acquire 1,888 acres of productive farmland in Imperial County through its first-ever agricultural conservation easement. The easement on farmland known as Alphabet Farms Ranch A is part of a larger effort by TPL and OLT to place agricultural conservation easements on roughly 7,600 acres of farmland in the Imperial Valley. … The property is in Audubon’s Imperial Valley Globally Important Bird Area (IBA)—the largest IBA in California—and the nearby Salton Sea is one of the most important nesting sites and stopovers along the Pacific Flyway.”
• And finally … the first portion of the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in downtown Palm Springs is open. The Press-Enterprise says: “The Spa at Séc-he, owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and operated by Agua Caliente Casinos … is the first phase of the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza, with a second and final phase expected to be finished by the end of the year. That final bit of construction will include the 48,000-square-foot Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and the Oasis Trail. The Spa at Séc-he was inspired by the Agua Caliente tribe’s traditions, such as basket weaving, pottery (ollas) and botanical elements. Séc-he means boiling waters and references the hot springs that have been a centerpiece of the tribe’s culture. The Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring is estimated to be over 12,000 years old and has unique mineral components not found anywhere else. The spa will include 22 mineral baths, massages, facials, scrubs, wraps, and salon services. … The new spa opened to the public on Tuesday, April 4. Guests must be 18-or-older to enjoy the spa and its amenities.”
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