Aug 25, 2015

LAZY Out-of-Town TV owners are why you only get local FAST FOOD NEWS.

MEDIA MATTERS complains this week that the MEDIA is ignoring the murders of Trans Gender black women.

MEDIA MATTERS:  A disturbing spike in the number of documented murders of transgender women of color has garnered attention from national media outlets, but cable news networks continue to ignore the epidemic of violence facing the transgender community.
2015 has seen a disturbing spike in the number of recorded murders of transgender people, and especially transgender women of color, in the U.S. Though the trans community has historically been disproportionately targeted by violence, the murders of seven trans women of color in just the first two months of 2015 alarmed groups like the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which warned of an "epidemic of violence" against trans women.
http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/08/25/cable-news-largely-ignores-spike-in-murders-of/205128


I DOUBT it. The MEDIA is ignoring LOTS of news. 
Actually, they had to lay off the "Trans-Gender Murder reporter" who covered those. (Just kidding.) it's worse than you think. Here was my take responding to an uninformed comment about something I know a little bit about:
--
You can blame a great deal of this on the corporations who own the local news operations. They've consolidated, are out-of-town investors, and for profits, they've redefined local news and what you see!

  • Most of the reporters have been laid off and replaced by new anchors, as corporations seek to cut expenses and get more newscasts in with fewer news gatherers.
  • Now its all about live shots bearing right-now 'breaking news'-- whether its important or not.
  • And too many weather segments and anchor chitchat to fill up airtime around their commercials.
  • Nobody left to go out and find the news!  They don't cover the courthouses, or statehouses, and they rely on police news releases to cover their murder video. Ya don't see em out interviewing neighbors before their liveshots, and ya don't see em covering the court trials.
  • TV used to have business, health, government, and education reporters actually DIGGING for news. But no more -- because corporations please stockholders, not viewers.


Can't even steal from the Newspapers anymore!  And newspapers fight for their own survival and have cut their own reporting staffs. The news pages are thinner, but not for lack of news. Its for lack of not having anyone to cover it. TV's always stolen from the pages of the morning paper...but there's not much there either.

So what's CABLE news to do?  Cable news has always depended on local affiliates to cover the country. Now nobody's doing it so even on cable, you see them bleed the same video plane crashes and demagogue politicians over and over. Now they're just interviewing each other and beating this election into the ground because its cheap to cover and candidates will always come in for some free face time.


WRITE THIS DOWN:

 It's not 'liberal' or 'conservative' government that's' hijacked the news. Its the corporations who own the newsrooms. THEY are the ones who have dumbed down what you see each night. And the crooks couldn't be happier with fewer nosy reporters around!

Beware...a lazy press absolutely lets government corruption fester for years. Like in New Orleans' sub-standard dikes that eventually flooded the city. The TV media probably didn't even know about them because they typically don't cover council meetings and actually look at the contracts being let and follow the money.

And predator cops in places like suburban Ferguson Missouri, busting people to raise money. That Ferguson story, where every resident averages three expensive court warrants over nuisance misdemeanors... it's been sitting there for years... but the St Louis TV stations never went out to the suburbs there to do a story on it. It took a citizen EXPLOSION and the NATIONAL MEDIA to come in. It reflects much more critically on the St Louis MEDIA than it does even the police...because this happens all over the country. Very quietly.

Don't bite the hands that feed you!  Reporters suck up to cops.  It's a fact.  TV always handles police and local government very gently....especially police who provide TV with most of their daily crime stories. Nobody's more vengeful than police and prosecutors against a brave TV station for running adverse stories.  So TV tends to be police, advertiser, sports team, and local government cheerleaders.

Welcome to the new journalism!  Today, it's not local corporate journalism covering misbehaving cops and bad city governments. It's social media and citizen cameras!

----
Want' to know more about your local news industry?
Forgive I promote a website I created years ago, shown in lots of journalism schools and even won a minor national web award...but that was then. Sadly this old expose is even more true today, so I link to it for your shopping convenience.  (Forgive if it looks a little quaint by today's web artistry standards:)
http://sites.google.com/…/radio…/smoke--mirror-tv-news
"What local stations don't want you to know".

Aug 19, 2015

Learning where to find out what's ACTUALLY GOING ON in your local and state gumments.

(This is mostly for Kansans and Missourians but it might help you WHEREVER you live. It's reprinted but modified from my post on KCTV5 Kansas City which was good enough to not delete, I guess because they decided it was in good intent, and useful.) HERE IT IS Click on em!)


http://radiomankc.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html
Actually, Brad, I have a couple blog/referral sites, tho not state news for Missouri and Kansas as you suggest.   Unlike KC TV stations, I don't have reporters and satellite trucks to drive to Jefferson City and Topeka weekly to watchdog and make our politicians behave.   Sending a reporter and engineers to the capital is EXPENSIVE for stations.

WHY KC STATIONS DON"T COVER THE NEWS.    About our Kansas City area, its TWO STATES and dozens of counties, cities, and school districts. That's harder. TV stations covering more than ONE STATE have it very harder to please their viewers. It takes a lot of work to even list them, much less send reporters out to FIND OUT WHAT'S going on there, without an intimidating cameraman tagging along to put people on the spot!   Worse, Johnson County KANSAS viewers don't really CARE about stories in Lee's Summit MISSOURI across town.   And Vice Versa, which is why other than weather and the most SENSATIONAL murders, TV News isn't really all that interesting.The hardest part of being in TV is that it requires VIDEO. It's impossible to send reporters out to actually FIND the news, much less grab a photographer and create video stories with interviews for tonight's 6pm news!    No staff to news-gather, so they just don't search for it at all, unless they have an interview talking head already set up.  They hold their few reporters in RESERVE to cruize in LIVE TRUCKS to do live shots  at 5, 6, and 10pm on a close by, predictable ghetto murder.

SO HOW TO FIND OUT ABOUT NEWS YOU WANT TO KNOW?
1.  First very little LOCAL news is very important in a big urban area.   Start with National and World, which local stations dont even TRY to cover.   Don't expect TV to do it... they just can't do it on the fly because they need that video!   So they have redefined what news ACTUALLY IS that's convenient for their abilities.

-- GOOGLE my "RADIOMANKC" and click on "BEST LINKS."
BEST INTERNET LINKS:
http://radiomankc.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html
Best WORLD COUNTRY & US NEWS Links:
http://radiomankc.blogspot.com/p/natnl-world-news.html
Best POLITICAL OPINION Links, both sides
http://radiomankc.blogspot.com/p/political-opinion-links-th…
Best Wannabee PRESIDENTIAL Links
http://radiomankc.blogspot.com/p/click-fb-facebook-or-web-l…
Best COUNTER-CULTURE/General Links
http://radiomankc.blogspot.com/p/altermat.html
Best WORLD PHOTO GALLERY Links
https://picasaweb.google.com/113586906817943981677

NOW THEN... STATE AND LOCAL PLACES TO FIND NEWS.


Johnson County Kansas, KC's biggest bedroom community of cities and school districts.    No one's covering the most influential and upscale bedroom community. TV stations mostly just go over there for the biggest, sensational news they hear about--crime, scandal, big business news they steal from the KC Business Journal or the thin and understaffed KC Star.

KCMO and Jackson County. Tony's Kansas City blog (TKC) certainly covers it like a glove. Maybe even OVER covers that inside baseball. The problem is that few people read blogs anymore. Tony's stuff is mostly insider city hall content. ALL KC City hall people tip and read him, as do all KC news people. Its the GO-TO blog in KC for the innercity. His only weakness is that he doesnt' delete the racist commenters but even their rudeness tells us things about those petty elements.  But bloggers can just rewrite an email or write up a phone call.  No need to go out with a PHOTOGRAPHER to shoot and edit a little mini-movie for the newscast.

-- Kansas and MISSOURi state legislators. Legislators are selected based on yard signs, not TV coverage. There are just too many legislators for TV to drill down to interview for their positions. Most candidates now don't often even mention which party they belong to on their signs. ANd they get reelected easily, whether they're morons or not. Look to your COUNTY newspaper but realze they dont have strong reporters. They mostly sell ads and run local news releases. They dont put candidates' feet to the fire. Yet politico watchers know they vote usually with their party's leadership. Workers wont' like Republicans. Businessmen won't like democrats.

County Political Websites.  We can learn things from the Republican or Democrat COUNTY websites, especially during primary season. Don't expect a party site to discuss their PROBLEMS, but COUNT on the OTHER party's site to embarrass their opponents with those very issues.  Be sure to "LIKE" both facebook sites to get a better feel for your county politics.
KANSAS AND MISSOURI STATE NEWS.    Since Today's teevee stations wont spend the money to send their satellite trucks up the Interstate to actually cover the state government without a specific objective, you need to forget about expecting local TV to cover statehouse news.   No matter what WIll Rogers warned us not to feel save anytime the Legislature is in session!

Kansas state politics.  In Kansas, use your Facebook to "LIKE"   WIBW-TV Topeka, KSN-TV Wichita and KOAM Pittsburg.   Except for the KOAM Pittsburg that has to also cover Joplin MO, you'll get news you won't find in Kansas City, so preoccupied with the Kansas City Police Department's easy-to cover scanners!

Missouri state politics.  In Missouri, use your Facebook to "LIKE" a St Louis dept you browse and like, KOMU-TV, the Columbia-Jeff City college station that's close to the gumment and the seat of Missouri's best journalism school.    And KY3 Springfield, known for decent journalism, even if with it's pre-occupation with police PR releases about car wrecks.

TV doesn't cover candidates, only the horseraces; its insider politics, but doesn't help viewers!   Its just drama! The Brownback re-election was mostly just a preoccupation with TV HORSE RACE coverage--TV always likes the 'race' and 'polling' aspects of elections, rather than the harder to get, analysis of who politicans are!    Which is what voters actually want to know.   Why they ARE, rather than who's AHEAD this week!   ESPECIALLY in Kansas, THEY WERE OF NO HELP TO US in DECIDING!.   This is typical of stations in KC (distracted also with Missouri 'races') and lazy low skill Topeka newsrooms, and too distant Wichita which also is too preoccupied with their own city coverage.


About your STATE's CROOKED legislators....

TV stations wont help you nor will your local county SHOPPPER NEWSPAPER to actually help you decide who is the best choice to send to your STATE CAPITAL or even to WASHINGTON!

 ALEC OWNS your STATE.   The FIX IS IN by the Republicans.  Who to VOTE FOR and who you already VOTED FOR  and EVEN WHAT THEY WILL vote for!    Google "ALEC" to see their sponsoring corporations and major positions. learn that when the big ALEC corporations want something, the Republicans in their controlled states (like Ks and Missouri) will vote ENMASS to pass that agenda! And your local TV station's WON''T have their satellite trucks at the capital to watch them DEBATE IT! Politicians count on that media laziness. HAS YOUR TV STATION REPORTED THIS TO YOU?

ALEC provides Republican 'cookie cutter' legislation for states, and pushes Republicans to just blindly pass it and keep quiet as they do it.  Again look it up.

Got others, well EMAIL me and I'll add them. Just try hard to TEACH YOURSELF the difference between 'fair and balanced' observations, and blatant PROPAGANDA!
Let's hope your 9th grade civics teacher taught you that skill!

Aug 13, 2015

How long must we wait for independent police investigations on the murder of unarmed black kids in America?

(From Counter-Current, one of those liberal websites not owned by some big corporation.  You should 'Like" it among many others.  They often break news first.)  http://countercurrentnews.com/2015/08/new-jersey-police-unarmed-14-year-old/)

Just last night, we reported on police fatally shooting a 15-year-old child – the youngest victim of police murder since Tamir Rice. But a 14-year-old Trenton, New Jersey teen was also unarmed when he was shot seven times by police officers on Friday night.

Radazz Hearns, 14, however, survived the shooting, unlike 15-year-old Andre Green.

Hearns is in stable condition at Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton.

The lawyer for the family, Samuel A. Anyan Jr, says that the child was shot five times in the right leg, once in the left leg. He currently still has a bullet lodged in his pelvis.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” Anyan explained. “We’ll be seeking justice. This appears to be an unjustified shooting.”

NJ.com reports that “Two State Police troopers and a Mercer County sheriff’s officer were responding to a report of shots fired at the Prospect Village apartments when they encountered three males walking along Louise Lane, according to the Attorney General’s office, which is investigating the shooting.”

Police added that “The three officers got out of their vehicle to question the trio and the 14-year-old ran, authorities said. Witnesses told authorities they saw the teen reach for his waistband before one of the troopers and the sheriff’s officer opened fire, the Attorney General’s office has said.”

Cops are trying to pin a .22-caliber handgun that was found far from the scene of the shooting, a full 12 hours later, on the victim, according to the Attorney General’s office.

The Attorney General’s Office refused to reveal how many times the youth was shot, but local reports say that there appears to have been “at least 10 shots” fired by officers.

Hearns was hit seven times, according to Anyan. There were two other rounds that were visible in a nearby car and another in the siding of a building nearby.

Anyan says that all eye-witnesses he has spoken with confirm that Hearns never had a gun and the police are lying.

Rhonda Tirado was in sitting front of her Trenton home Friday around 10:20 p.m. when she saw an unmarked gray minivan abruptly stop across the street and three police officers got out to question the trio of teens.

She saw Hearns, who she only knows by his nickname “Rha Rha,” run from the officers, and then the gunfire erupted, she said.

“Those police were amped and they didn’t give that little boy a chance,” Tirado said Wednesday, while re-enacting the shooting where the encounter started. “There was no room for no chase. They just shot that little boy right there.”

Peter Aseltine, spokesman for the state Attorney General’s office, said “our priority is to conduct an absolutely careful, thorough and fair investigation,” Aseltine said, claiming that they would talk to these eye-witnesses that police have so far ignored and refused to interview.

NJ reports that “Tirado said she didn’t see Hearns with a gun. As he turned and ran, Tirado said she saw him grab his red sweatpants to keep them from falling.”

“I don’t think those little boys had no clue what was going on,” Tirado added. “I think they was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Tirado said she saw the three teens pass her residence about 15 minutes before the shooting. As they returned on Louise Lane, they were laughing, joking and didn’t appear to be in a hurry before the minivan stopped, Tirado said.

Anyan said his understanding of Hearns’ encounter with police Friday night is that the officers were not in standard police uniform and emerged from an unmarked vehicle.

Anyan said that officers have some explaining to do, for instance, “why they were trying to execute a 14-year-old boy. You don’t have the right to be judge, jury and executioner.”

Bookmark this page and check back for updates, as this story is just beginning to unfold.

(Article by S. Wooten, Reagan Ali and M. David)

Radioman's commentary on the sorry state of police powers and what to do about it....

Now that the dust has settled in Ferguson we know more.   The kid killed by the cop might have assaulted him...we can't know without video.   We can't know if he was a gentle giant' or a thug.

BUT WE CAN't KNOW the St Louis prosecutor had no stomach to go after a cop, given how badly prosecutors need cops to make their cases in court.  He had powers and knowlege not of us CAN know unless he tells us.  Oh well.  

POLICE MURDER IN NEW YORK.  Unlike the ciggy murder that same week IN NYC, which was as much of a TV murder as Jack Ruby shooting JFK killer Lee Harvey Oswald on LIVE TV.    That one should have gone to trial and my eyes would have convicted those deliberate bully cops in a HEART BEAT.  Those NYC cops were out of control and acting like a GANG and every one of them touching that guy should have been charged with MURDER just like citizens are charged all the time for their bit parts in a criminal death!   Do you need to see it again?



Today's police culture is SICK  and Unacceptable.

But every week, we get another one of these cases as we patiently await lapel cams all over the country and efforts to clean up the cops riding rampant on our streets.   Surely the GOOD cops just hate these cases from their bully colleagues!

If the 'good cops', the ones we want to look up to, our dads and brothers and sons in the work, THEY need to help fix it.   There's a cancer growing, let's help the good cops FIX IT through law and procedure.   They can't do it alone... the police defensive culture is too strong.

BACK TO THE CASE.  It seems to me that shooting an unarmed kid, even if close-to- full- adult size should be assumed to have been wrongful...and POLICE NEED TO PROVE WITH EVIDENCE just like anyone else with blood on their knuckles.

We need to STOP ASSUMING POLICE are RIGHTEOUS any longer.   They have destroyed that assumption with so many videos of wrongdoing!

That includes physical evidence that arrested people were obviously beaten without similar wounds on police. That seems like prima facia evidence of excessive force, which I assume is criminal assault by definition.    If they can't do that, then they're not brave enough to be cops.  Nobody said its easy, right?  Bless the Hill Street Blues ones who hit the street with GOOD INTENT!

When more body cams happen and forensics more objective along with IA departments dedicated to cleaning the riff raff out of policing, we'll get it. And wrong doers will end up with very long prison sentences. It's absolutely not enough to be fired!    Again, why do we assume that RESISTING ARREST is really only about citizens RESISTING FURTHER POLICE PAIN, given the "Get on the ground, get on the ground NOW" mentality they practice during arrests?

How we've accepted the POLICE answer to policing our society....

  • It seems police are too quick to defend themselves with fatal force. 
  • We all know their culture is such that it's just not IN POLICEMEN to lose ANY confrontation.   They ALWAYS have to WIN every confrontation.
  • They just can't work with axx-holes among us by being in a defensive or apologetic position; the criminals WILL kill our  police if they CAN.   A horrible, unaceptable reality.  
  • Me, I would NOT want to have to decide in a split second to shoot, or NOT shoot, to CUFF or NOT to cuff.   To ARREST or NOT to arrest.  Is it about respect to police authority, or the actual level of wrongdoing?      This is what a recent prosecutor asked.... "is it worth arresting someone for a missing front license plate?
  • But like our soldiers in combat, that's EXACTLY what we want them trained to EVALUATE BEFORE an arrest! 


I know. It's very hard.   Don't do it without backup.    Sadly, when alone and no one is watching, the bully cops seem to have to make it hurt, physically or financially with citizens.  Obviously the bullies and their victims DO grow up!    Seen the videos too many times.

WHY ARE TODAY'S POLICE caught being abusive SO IMPATIENT to wait for backup?  given that most abusive cases seem only ONE-On-One?   Maybe the secretiveness is the key!  Bullies want to BULLY ALONE with no colleagues around?   What da YOU think?   Is a policy change in order?

 Guess they think they can be prixs and not get caught?  We'd be WAY MORE trusting of our public servants if theyd FIRST get rid of the bullies that we see so often on video!   Why aren't the POLICE BULLIES GONE ALREADY?

Bullies are that arrogant, as we remember from high school.  Again, bullies grow up and become absusive bosses, and more scary, abusive cops with GUNS on public payroll.    (Side note:  how can anyone be surprised about the Columbine Colorado mass shootings by nerds against the jocks, as predictable as they were?   Did NONE of you watch Revenge of the Nerds?)

We can't LET THEM INTO public police service.

HOW can America PROTECT itself from an abusive military force?

 This is why society needs to force a PROFESSIONAL EDUCATIONAL organization to be CREATED. Not a protectionist union, Not a police protection association which many departments have created. (We've noticed police are more interested today "To Protect and Serve" ThemSELVES!

It's in Congress' best interest ON BEHALF OF THE CITIZENRY to establish national policing standards, like medical people...a real certification with letters after their names attesting to ANNUAL minimum formal classroom training in how to handle people, in citizen rights, court cases, deescalating situations. Keeping a healthy attitude around so much negativity, And community policing. And culling out their bullies who find themselves attracted to law enforcement.
Essentially, we have to find a way to UNDO what their military drill instructors turned them into, which is a killer force. They can start by growing their hair out to match most everyones. This robocop crap will stop or it will turn out very bad for them.

I'm sure states' rightists would like this at the state level, but surely we've discovered STATES have different views of Constitutional protection.    Maybe this isn't a battle they want to wage!    Maybe so long as only BLACK PEOPLE loose their rights, it's not an issue.

But ya know sympathy can change in a HEARTBEAT.    One attractive white kid killed on TV by abusive cops will change EVERYTHING!   Politicians should be very careful what they say on tape for it would certainly come back to bite them into election defeat!


Jul 29, 2015

Snark has taken us over. Here's a must read article from Salon on the big names in the news and how important is our obligation to read both sides to understand our world. Check this!


Here's the link to go read it in it's entirety
http://www.salon.com/2015/07/29/camille_paglia_takes_on_jon_stewart_trump_sanders_liberals_think_of_themselves_as_very_open_minded_but_that%E2%80%99s_simply_not_true/


Just a few words to pique your interest...warning don't read this on your tiny smart phone---which contrary to popular belief--- does NOT make you smart.

Camille Paglia takes on Jon Stewart, Trump, Sanders: “Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!”

Trump's a carnival barker, but funnier than Stewart. Richard Dawkins is a joke. Sanders and Drudge earn approval.   And on Fox, and eating a balanced news diet.    And religion and athiesm   And snarky people who think way too much of themselves.


Read this enlightening interview on a wide range of topics with this brilliant contemporary philosopher and Salon magazine writer.

Jul 14, 2015

Four Ways ALEC Tried to Ruin Your State This Year

A reprint from Alternet, just in case readers here -- especially Missouri and Kansas -- want to know why you shouldn't elect your state legislators based on YARD SIGNS!


ALEC's anti-democratic, unaccountable, privatized agenda.
By Jessica Mason / Center for Media and Democracy July 13, 2015
Print

In a year with unprecedented rightwing dominance in state legislative chambers, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has continued to wreak havoc in states across the country--despite an ongoing exodus of high-profile corporate members, including BP, Google, and several high-tech firms.

ALEC's legislative playbook for 2015 focused on blocking action on climate change, thwarting local democracy, attacking labor unions, and further privatizing public education in the U.S., as CMD reported last year in covering its legislative agenda for the year.

Here are some of the worst policies ALEC legislators tried to push into binding law in state legislatures this year, so far.

1. Blocking Action on Climate Change
ALEC's corporate sponsors are dominated by major polluters like Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy, and other coal and oil industry corporations, and ALEC has consistently held workshops promoting climate science denial, as CMD and other organizations have extensively documented on ALECclimatechangedenial.org and as The Guardian, the Washington Post, and other papers have reported.

Even after tech companies like Google and Facebook dropped their membership over the issue, ALEC legislators and special interests have continued to do the dirty energy companies' dirty business, while trying to spin the media with spurious claims the group has no position on climate change.

Attacks on the EPA: Last June, the federal Environmental Protection Agency took the long-overdue step of limiting carbon dioxide pollution from coal plants. At the behest of its funders, ALEC has been organizing a state-level campaign against these new “Clean Power Plan” pollution rules.

First, ALEC organized legislators to press their state attorneys general into joining litigation backed by the energy industry that challenges the regulations. Then, last December, the ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture task force—whose private sector chair is American Electric Power—adopted a model bill that would create new hurdles for implementing the Clean Power Plan in states, including requiring state legislatures to approve any plan. Legislation reflecting language in this model bill was proposed in more than a dozen states and enacted into law in West Virginia.

ALEC also adopted a model resolution attacking the Clean Power Plan. Resolutions reflecting this language were introduced in Missouri, Utah, Indiana, Arizona, South Dakota, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Supporting the Keystone XL Pipeline: Arizona and Illinois considered legislation that reflects ALEC’s model resolution in support of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a project of ALEC member and meeting sponsor TransCanada that could have devastating consequences for the ecologically rich boreal forest in Alberta and water sources all along the pipeline's route.

Assault on Renewables: ALEC and utility industry groups like the Edison Electric Institute are fighting hard to roll back progress on expanding renewable energy. ALEC has promoted bills to repeal state renewable portfolio standards–which require utilities to provide some power from renewable sources–and has pushed legislation designed to increase costs for Americans who have invested in solar panels for their homes and businesses, whom ALEC attempts to label "freeriders." But public resistance has proven to be a major obstacle to this ALEC legislative priority.

The Kansas legislature, in Charles and David Koch's home state, replaced its mandatory renewable energy goals with voluntary standards in May, passing a bill that was heavily lobbied for by energy interests, including Koch Industries and David Koch's Americans for Prosperity. This was something of a "hollow victory," as the Union of Concerned Scientists points out, because Kansas had already passed the threshold of 20 percent of electricity produced by renewable sources set in the mandate.

In Texas, state Sen. Troy Fraser introduced a bill to cut back state support for renewable energy, but the wind industry and its supporters rallied against the legislation and it failed to pass. Similar bills in Colorado, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and New Mexico also failed to pass.

2. Anti-Democratic "Preemption" Bills
From minimum wage increases to affordable housing policies to bans on hydraulic fracturing, some of the biggest progressive policy gains in recent years have happened at the local level. In response, ALEC is aggressively pursuing a war on local democracy, pushing “preemption” bills that block cities and counties from enacting ordinances that threaten corporate profits to promote the public good.

As Cara Sullivan, the staff head of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force--which is funded by some of the largest global corporations--explained, "Perhaps the biggest threat comes from the local level... One solution that ALEC has passed is state legislation that preempts the polities from within the state from raising the minimum wage higher than the state level."

ALEC has long pushed bills like the "Living Wage Preemption Act" that blocks local governments from raising the minimum wage. It was instrumental in the spread of laws in nineteen states blocking local governments from enacting municipal broadband, and it has promoted legislation like the "Preemption of Local Agriculture Laws Act" that prohibit cities and counties from regulating GMOs.

Fracking: In Texas, the legislature enacted a bill sponsored by ALEC national co-chair Rep. Phil King (R) that bans local restrictions on fracking. Residents of Texas cities near the Barnett Shale have grown concerned about the environmental impacts of drilling, including elevated levels of groundwater contaminants, and voters in Denton had enacted a fracking ban with broad support. Rep. King’s bill overturned Denton's law and blocks other such bans, and similar bills preempting local limitations on fracking have been proposed in New Mexico and Oklahoma. ALEC acknowledged to NPR's Marketplace in May that it was working on fracking preemption bills.

Paid Sick Days: As paid sick day laws have gained momentum in recent years, with cities from New York to Takoma enacting the measures, ALEC and special interest groups like the National Restaurant Association have tried to eliminate local control over the issue. After ALEC shared Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s paid sick day preemption law in 2011, nine other states soon adopted the measures, in most cases with the bills sponsored by ALEC members.

Oklahoma and Alabama enacted paid sick day preemption laws in 2014, and ALEC members in other states are pushing the measures this year. In Pennsylvania, following Philadelphia’s enactment of a paid sick days law in February 2015, ALEC member Sen. John Eichelberger (R) even amended a Senate preemption bill so it would apply retroactively. (Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is likely to veto the law if passed.)

"Death Star" Bill: In Michigan, an expansive anti-worker preemption measure known as the "Death Star" bill would block any local ordinance governing employer-employee relationships, including higher minimum wages, paid sick days mandates, and fair scheduling ordinances. As originally proposed, the bill likely would have blocked local LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances, but public outcry forced legislators to add a carve-out for employment discrimination. The bill was signed into law on June 30.

3. Privatizing Public Education
ALEC has been promoting legislation to privatize public schools since the early 1980s, a goal which is driven not only by the ideological agenda of ALEC funders like the DeVos family of the Amway fortune and Betsy DeVos' American Federation for Children, but which is also a huge source of profits for ALEC members likeK12 Inc., which CMD has highlighted.

Vouchers on steroids: Nevada's SB 302, introduced by ALEC member and state Sen. Scott Hammond and passed in June 2015, created a vouchers-on-steroids system in which state funding for each student (around $5,100 for most children) is deposited in an Education Savings Account, which can then be used for public schools, private schools, or even homeschooling, with no income limits. The money, which rolls over from year to year, can even be used for college tuition, creating an incentive for parents to skimp on K-12 education. ALEC's model bill, the Education Savings Account Act, was originally sponsored by the American Federation for Children.

Lifting voucher caps: Governor Scott Walker proposed to eliminate the 1,000-student cap on the statewide voucher program in his 2015-2017 budget and to fund the expansion with money taken from public schools, one of the most radical expansions of school vouchers in the nation. Republicans in the state legislature's Joint Finance Committee piled on, sneaking ALEC's "special-needs" voucher program into the budget at the last minute.

Expanding for-profit virtual schools: A 2014 ALEC bill–the "Course Choice Program Act"–would allow high school students in traditional schools to enroll in online courses offered by for-profit virtual schools, rerouting public school funding to the online course provider. Oklahoma Sen. Stanislawski, who serves on ALEC’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Tax Force, introduced a bill that, like ALEC's, requires the Statewide Virtual Charter Schools Board to publicize a list of available "supplemental" online courses for students enrolled in traditional schools, and authorizes the Board to contract with course providers to negotiate rates for these courses, which school districts pay for. It was signed into law in May 2015.

Inserting Right-Wing Ideology into School Curricula: ALEC's "Founding Philosophy and Principles Act" requires every student to take a semester-length course on the founding philosophy of the United States, with particular focus on "the limitations on government power to tax and spend and prompt payment of public debt," "money with intrinsic value" (i.e., the "gold standard"), and other political talking points with little basis in the actual language of the Constitution (which expressly authorizes Congress to incur debt and to print money).

A similar bill passed the North Carolina Senate in April 2015 and is currently before the House; others were proposed in South Carolina and Georgia in March 2015.

But ALEC has not prevailed everywhere. Voucher and charter school bills proposed in several states failed to pass this year. A New Mexico bill introduced by State Rep. James Strickler, a member of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force, that tracks ALEC's Great Schools Tax Credit Program Act, died in the Senate. Rhode Island House Democrats introduced a voucher program, the "Bright Today Scholarship and Open Enrollment Education Act," but it was held for further study. A Montana bill that would have establishd public charter schools in the state was passed by the House at the end of March 2015, but died in the Senate. Illinois state Rep. Jeanne Ives' "Illinois School Choice Program," essentially a universal state voucher program, has been stuck in committee since March.

4. Crushing Wages, Attacking Unions
ALEC has been fighting unions with its "right to work" policies since at least 1979, and it continues to push bills that reduce the political and earning power of workers in order to increase corporate influence and profits. The decline in wages for the middle class and working familiesdirectly tracks the decine of unionization in America.

Right to Work: Cookie-cutter ALEC right-to-work bills popped up in several states this year. In March, Wisconsin became the 25th right-to-work state with the passage of a word-for-word copy of ALEC's bill. ALEC right-to-work bills were proposed in New Hampshire, Missouri, New Mexico, and West Virginia, while Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) simply issued an executive order to establish right-to-work for public sector workers and filed a lawsuit seeking to have "fare share" fees declared unconstitutional.

ALEC's local offshoot, the American City County Exchange (ACCE)--which CMD was first to uncloak--is even pushing a legally dubious municipal right-to-work ordinance. With a state-level bill meeting strong opposition from House Democrats in Kentucky, eleven counties have taken up ACCE's local model bill, sparking a lawsuit from labor groups.

Prevailing Wage Repeal: Laws requiring that prevailing wages be paid on public contracting projects, which serve as a backstop against a public contracting "race to the bottom," have come under attack by ALEC and other special interests including the National Federation of Independent Business, David Koch's Americans for Prosperity, the non-union contractors' trade association Associated Builders and Contractors, and state-level right-wing "think tanks" affiliated with the State Policy Network. (See ALEC's "Prevailing Wage Repeal Act.")

Several states passed laws weakening or limiting their prevailing wage standards in 2015, including West Virginia, Nevada, Tennessee, Ohio, and Oklahoma. Indiana's bill, sponsored by ALEC members House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) and Rep. Jerry Torr (R) and passed in April, essentially follows the ALEC model by repealing prevailing wage outright. Michigan's repeal, which passed the state Senate in May, was named a "top legislative priority" by Senate Majority Leader and ALEC member Arlan Meekhof (R). Wisconsin's proposed repeal, sponsored by ALEC national board member and former ALEC "legislator of the year" Leah Vukmir (R), is waiting in the wings while ALEC's allies do a full PR tour. (Vukmir is slated to become ALEC's legislative board chair later this year, a revolving one-year term in contrast to ALEC's corporate board members, some of which have served for 20 years, like Koch Industries, Michael Morgan, one of the longest leaders of ALEC in history.)

(CMD's Brendan Fischer, Nick Surgey, Jonas Persson, Jamie Corey, Kim Haddow, and Lisa Graves contributed to this article. See more.)



Jessica Mason is a CMD research intern. She is completing her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.