Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: What Are The Possible Losses Facing Sanctuary Cities?

https://www.citylab.com/politics.2017/03/what-punishing-sanctuary-cities-will-cost-their states-mapped/518760/?utm__source=nl__link2_030817

POTUS signing revised executive order on immigration
Hello Everyone:

Blogger Candidate Forum decided to make a Tuesday appearance so Blogger can have a little break today.

The Forum also decided to return to the subject of sanctuary cities.  This time we are going to look at how much it will cost the host states if President Donald Trump makes good on his pledge to withhold funding from sanctuary cities/  Natalie Delgadillo estimates, in her CityLab article "The Price of Sanctuary," that POTUS's pledge could cost their states "more than $870 million."  These sanctuary cities are courting danger if they do not rescind their policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities.  Ms. Delgadilo reports, "While it's still unclear exactly what money is at risk, a new interactive map by the Center for American Progress [http://www.americanprogress.org] together with National Immigration Law Center [http://www.nilc.org] and the American Immigration Lawyers Association [http://www.aila.org], gives an idea of which states have the most to lose-an how deep these cuts could go."

"Funding potentially at risk in jurisdiction with sanctuary policies"
Map by the CAP in partnership with NILC and AILA
Under POTUS's controversial executive order, the decision of which funding sources to eliminate is at the discretion of the Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.  Specifically, both the attorney general and the DHS secretary can decide, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with the law precisely which federal grants to withhold and when.  The map at the left shows "statewide funding losses if the administration were to cut five specific grant that have previously been target by Congressional Republicans in attempts to defund sanctuary cities."  The grants being eyed by Congressional Republicans are earmarked for law enforcement (IAG and COPS), reimbursement for incarcerating undocumented immigrants (SCAAP), economic development and anti-poverty initiatives (Economic Development and Community Development Block Grant).

Countries affected by the immigration suspension
  If you go to https://www.citylab.com/politics.2017/03/what-punishing-sanctuary-cities-will-cost-their states-mapped/518760/?utm__source=nl__link2_030817, you will find an interactive map that you can click on the individual states to find out the potential exact dollar amount lost if the five grants are cut from sanctuary cities in the host states.  Ms. Delgadillo writes, "It's worth noting, however, that each shade of red represents an incredibly wide range of potential losses; Massachusetts and Arizona are shade the same color, the former stands to lose $30 million and the latter only $5 million."

The also delineates funding streams according to grant programs, highlights the impact of losing each source of money.  What is the greater loss in most states?  The CDBGs, which alone accounts for over $730 million of the total possible $870 million deficit.  The states facing the deepest cuts are some of the most populous: California, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.  These states utilize the CDBGs to provide services to low-income and the most vulnerable residents in the form of affordable and anti-poverty initiatives.

Map of cities pledged sanctuary cities
Take a look at the map on the left-hand side; focus your attention on California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida, and Massachusetts.  These are the states that stand to suffer the greatest losses in this analysis.  Ms. Delgadillo writes, "These states are also some of the least dependent on the federal government-they usually contribute more in taxes than they receive in benefits."  However, losing these grants could be extremely detrimental for city and county budgets.

In December 2016, press secretary for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Connie Llanos told CityLab,

Some of these [federal grants] go to our highest-need areas...It's not really about something being X percentage of the total budget.  If you remove one of these pots of funding, there's nowhere for the city to backfill it from because it's not something we fund.

Natalie Delgadillo cautions, "The analysis comes with a few caveats.  First, no one actually knows whether the administration will after these funding streams; it's simply an educated guess based on the actions of Republicans lawmakers in the past.  What's more, some legal experts believe cutting theses...won't pass muster in the courts.

The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Melissa Keany, staff attorney at the NILC, wrote in a press release for this analysis,

The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from forcing or coercing states to assist in federal immigration enforcement, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the threat to withhold funding cannot be so significant that it effectively compels compliance...

This is a basic truth.  Toward the end of last year CityLab published a thorough explanation of the legal challenges facing President Donald Trump as he tries to cut off funds to sanctuary cities (http://www.citylab.com).

Pro-migration protest
Natalie Delgadillo writes, "That's a good thing for proponents of sanctuary policies, who argue that forcing local police to enforce immigration trust with the community and prevents undocumented immigrants from reporting crimes."  In an aside she notes that there are serious concerns "...about the constitutionality of policies that require local police to detain immigrants without a charge."

However, other organizations like the Center for Immigration Studies, have posited "that these concerns are largely unfounded, and sanctuary city policies have led to the release of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who would otherwise be deported."  These organizations maintain that sanctuary cities are violating federal law and should be penalized.

The constitutionality of defunding sanctuary cities will ultimately decided by the courts.  Should this matter reach the Supreme Court of the United States, it will face a conservative majority panel who may not be so incline to accept the argument that federal government can co-opt local governments to assist in immigration law enforcement.  In the meantime, the majority of states and over 600 municipalities around the country will have to wait see what losses they face.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: What Is Impeachment

The impeachment trial by Senate of President Bill Clinton, 1998
Hello Everyone:

It is time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  Lately, the word impeachment has been tossed around like a ball.  The ongoing investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign, the attendant  firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey, and the whiff of obstruction of justice accusations have raised the specter of hearings in the House of Representatives and trial by Senate.  What does it mean to impeach a sitting President of The United States?  What is the process?  How long does it take?  What are the options?  Why is Blogger devoted today's installment to the process?  Yours truly is motivated by the comments on the social media that seem to think that impeaching President Donald Trump is a sure and quick thing.  Would a President Pence be any better?  Thus, in an effort to clarify matters, yours truly would like to offer a summary of the impeachment process. Shall we begin.

Impeachment hearing of the 17th President Andrew Johnson, 1868
Let us start with a definition and quick history of the impeachment process.  The United States Constitution, Article II, section 4 states:

The President, Vice President and all Civil Service Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. (http://www.historty.house.gov; date accessed May 24, 2017)

The Constitution give the House the power to impeach a federal official, including the president and grants the Senate the power to conduct impeachment trials.  Impeachment is restricted to removal from office but also allows for the officer to be disqualified from ever holding office again.  Fines and possible jail terms for crimes perpetrated during office are left to the civil courts. (Ibid)

Rendering of the Impeachment trial by Senate of President Johnson, 1868
Chief Justice Salmon presiding

Impeachment dates back to British constitutional history, evolving from the 14th century process that allowed parliament to hold the monarch's ministers accountable for their public actions.  Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist 65, that impeachment "varies from civil to criminal courts in that it strictly involve the 'misconduct of public men, or in other words from abuse or violation of some public trust.'" (Ibid)  The individual state constitutions had some provision for impeachment for "maladministration" or "corruption" before the U.S. Constitution was written.  The Founding Fathers were fearful of potential abuse of executive power, considered impeachment so important that it was embedded into the document before the parameters of the presidency were set.

The House of Representatives initiated proceedings 60 times but less than a third of these cases ended in full impeachment.  Only eight-all federal judges- have been removed from office by the Senate.  Two presidents Andrew Johnson (in 1868) and Bill Clinton (in 1998); one cabinet secretary (William Belknap in 1876) and one senator (William Blount of North Carolina in 1797)  have been impeached by the House.  (Ibid)

President Trump at a rally in Florida
How does this apply to the current situation?  Hard to say because the President, members (former and current), and his advisors walked into the office with the taint of collusion and alleged ties to Russian agents which leads to the question, if Special Counsel Robert Mueller concludes that there is sufficient verifiable evidence to warrant charges, would it lead to impeachment?  The reason Blogger asks this question is that the alleged acts of collusion took place between private citizens, not civil officers.  Where actual impeachment could occur is a charge of obstruction of an ongoing investigation, meaning the sudden dismissal of FBI director James Comey.

Former FBI director James Comey
 The abrupt dismissal of FBI director James Comey was the most stunning development of POTUS's administration, raising the possibility of political interference into the Russia investigation.  How does this apply to impeachment?  Allan Lichtman, American University history professor, explained in a recent Newsweek article,

He arguably could be impeached now...Arguably he's already obstructed justice and already violated the emoluments clause ["regarding receiving gifts from foreign government"].... (http://www.newsweek.com; date accessed May 24, 2017)  

Fueling this is the Comey memo which alleges President Trump to end his investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's possible ties to Russia.  If the evidence proves that if Mr. Comey's firing was a way to get the FBI to end its investigation of Mr. Flynn, then we possibly have grounds for high crimes and misdemeanors thus, impeachment.

Another option floated is invoking section four of the 25th amendment.  The 25th amendment set up the line of succession and establishes the procedures for filling the role of Vice President.  Section 4 states,

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office...  (http://law.cornell.edu; date accessed May 24, 2017)

This has never been invoked and does not apply because President Donald Trump is physically and mentally able to carry out his duties as president, really.

Vice President Mike Pence

Hypothetically speaking, if President Trump is impeached, found guilty by the Senate, and removed from office, what would a Pence presidency look like.  Vice President Mike Pence's hypothetical presidency would be reduced to caretaker status.  Whatever he accomplishes would be forever tainted by a disgraced administration.  If a President Pence when as far as to pardon President Trump that would doom any (re-)election chances, regardless if he ran on a moderate or staunch Republican platform.  This all hypothetical for now.

The impeachment procedure is not a quick one and it should not be.  Removing a sitting president from office is an extremely serious business and should not be rushed.  In the coming months we shall see what evidence emerges from the Russia investigation.  The process is a political one and should the investigation lead to impeachment proceedings, it will be interesting to see what the members of Congress value more, their seat or the Constitution.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Which Path To Power Will Cities Take?

https://www.citylab.com/ politics/2017/03/for-cities-of-the-future-three-paths-to-power/520071/?utm_source=nl__link1_032017

Hello Everyone:

Before we get started today, Blogger would like to say a few words about the heinous bombing of the Manchester Arena, yesterday evening, at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert.  There are no words that can adequately describe the shock and horror of it.  The concert should have been a celebration of the music that Ms. Grande's fans made the soundtrack of their lives, instead will always be remembered as a tragedy.  It is not lost on Blogger that the majority of the audience were pre-teen and teenage girls.  Whether the barbarian knew this or it was mere happenstance, we may never know.  What we do know is that he subscribed to an ideology that advocated violent hatred toward women regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and ability.  This kind of ideology has no place in contemporary society.  This is an ideology of darkness, fed by fear.  The parents of girls and young women lost will now see their nightmare come true: they will have to bury their children.  No parent should ever have to do that, never ever.   We cannot give in to our fears, cower behind closed doors, suspicious of our neighbors.  We must expose this darkness to the light of human love and kindness where it cannot survive.  We must guard against those who wish to committed acts of terror, tempering with compassion.  Blogger sends love and good thoughts to the people of Manchester, the families of the dead and injured.  

Protestors at the G20 conference in Germany
Photograph by Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
The conclusion of World War II brought about a new international order defined by sovereign nation states, international institutions like the United Nations and the World Bank, and treaty organizations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  These institutions were increasingly fueled by liberal economic exchange and some version of democratic governance.  Out of this order, a definition of the shape of global cities arose around the world.  It supplied the technocratic know-how necessary to prop up the economic exchange at the foundation of the 'global city" and facilitated the development and sharing of technologies that have altered the way we observe our cities.

Manchester, England
Photograph by Blogger
Richard Florida wrote in a CityLab POV column, "For Cities of the Future, Three Paths to Power," "That order is now under intense strain."  The UN is struggling over how to properly address the transnational challenges of climate change and migration, populism is surging in Great Britain, France, and the United States, threatening to undermine the European Union and NATO.  Even before the French elections, which ended in a rebuke of French populism promulgated by Marine LePen, emergent technologies, superpowers, and cyber threats were already testing the residence of the world order.

Mr. Florida asks, "How will cities navigate this geopolitical tumult?"  Excellent question.  Of course cities are growing-"nearly 70 per cent of the world will urban by 2050."  The do have impact-"the 600 largest urban economies in the world will produce 65 per cent of the global economic growth by 2025."  However, the aggregate numbers do not give the complete picture of how cities will handle their interests in this period of tumult.  Mr. Florida suggests three paths for cities to take, abbreviated: reform, oppose, hedge.

Tokyo, Japan
The Reformers: Demanding a seat at the global governance table

As we speak, there is a massive gap between the collective economies, populations and reputations of cities and their genuine global influence. Mr. Florida describes them, "The reformers are trying to carve out a voice for local actors in the key international institutions of the post-World War II order"

The Habitat 3 Conference,  held in October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, drew mayors and civic leaders from over 500 cities.  The conference was organized by United Cities and local governments, "collectively call for a seat at the 'Global Table.'"  For those wanting reform, the lack of local voiced in global institutions undercuts the legitimacy of the current order and limits the efficacy of global accords like Agenda 2030 and the the New Urban Agenda.

Lagos, Nigeria
Sone of the places at the UN table, like a vote for municipalities, are very difficult to obtain.  Be that as it may, "city organizations and advocates such as UCLG and Local Governments for Sustainability are not wrong to focus on a few of these institutions."  Richard Florida continues, "The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and a number of other organizations have shown themselves willing to consider and embrace the municipal perspective."  The G20 conference in Berlin, is possibility the most representative institution of global power.  Michael Cohen of the New School observed, "it has yet to fully consider the nexus of the global economy and urbanization.  But Germany is often at the forefront of global urban diplomacy, for those seeking to integrate urban issues into existing multilateral settings, this G20 is an ideal setting."

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Resisters: Upending the table

This is another approach that looks for more fundamental change.  The resisters make arguments that range from tried-but-true to insightful.  Some go as far as to make the anti-Americanism argument and repeat the usual attacks on "neoliberalism."  Others, like the People's Social Resistance Forum to Habitat 3, have posited that "the United Nations has veered too far from a focus on human rights and that the global system of international exchange proceeds undemocratically above the influence of local and national politics."  Regardless, there is a common thread: "They herald new forms and practice of politics that stretch well beyond traditional political sites."

New Delhi, India
travel featured.com

While American cities are still figuring out whether to resist or adapt to developments in Washington D.C., the pragmatic approach for resisting the aging world order has been developing for some time.  The 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization protests, the 2003 global protests to the Iraq War, and the Occupy movement are examples of what resistance can look like.  Mr. Florida writes, "Leading academics with interdisciplinary approaches are helping outline these opposition tactics."  For example, New Castle University scholar Stephan Graham's book Vertical, is a how-to manual for "vertical appropriation" techniques-"such as occurred in the Torre de David in Caracas, an unfinished bank tower that now houses more than 300 low-income families-that can be used to resist or reimagine the geographies of power that stretch from the GPS satellites of space to the water wells and subway lines beneath city streets."  Keller Easterling's Extrastatecraft is a compendium of approaches to language, rumor, innuendo, hoax, and protest that can be co-opted as forms of politics.

These are beyond the diplomatic norms of the hallowed UN chambers tailored to new voices, instead streets, buildings, and humor turned into places of political engagement.

Quito, Ecuador
The Independents: Building their own table

Although the current world order is in flux, one simple lesson from 20th century American diplomacy still holds: "Reliables partners and platforms for collective action can help amplify influences."  Richard Florida asks, "But how to organize such collective action in the 21st century without a preponderance of power?"  The answer proffered by those who remain independent of the world order: "Build your own networks."

Existing institutions can be challenging, thus important philanthropes and lead leaders have built new platforms-The Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities, the C40 Cities, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, and bilateral relationships between cities such as Chicago and Mexico City.  The new networks are not opposed to established multilateral institutions, to the contrary, the seek to support them.  That aside, they are aware that they cannot just depend on global and national governance to remedy the challenges that directly affect individual cities.  They have to take matters into their own hands.

Nairobi, Kenya
From these networks, collective progress springs from access to resources and knowledge, not status or leadership of a particular city or country.  Mr. Florida observes, "In contrast to the legacy institutions, power in these emerging networks is dispersed and practical, rather than hierarchical; it is measured by the ability to actually implement policy in some of the world's most important cities."

Which of the three strategies will ultimately prove the most effective?  We live in an era of upheaval and extreme, new organizational methods and new ideas of identities that give priority to networks over hierarchies.  Approaches that once worked may not be a sure thing anymore.  What is very apparent is that the global order that is emerging from this state of flux, will, as before, have much influence over the nature of cities.  Just how much of a voice the urban dweller will have in what emerges from the flux will be determined by the legitimacy and effectiveness that all three strategies have to offer

Monday, May 22, 2017

These Places Matter


DOI Secretrary Ryan Zinke riding with cattle ranchers
Hello Everyone:

Sorry about last week.  Yours truly had a family wedding to attend and barely time to write, let along think.  Blogger Candidate Forum was extremely annoyed by all of the nuptials-related chaos but is grateful for the new week and promises to discuss impeachment on Wednesday.  Today, we go back to the subject of National Monuments.

Why do male Secretaries of Interior always need to channel their inner cowboy?  Alright, Secretary Ryan Zinke is from Montana and makes a credible cowboy case.  Recently Secretary Zinke traveled to Utah to tour the Bears Ears National Monument to promote President Donald Trump's review of national parks and protected public lands.  Los Angeles Times reporter Evan Halper traveled to Utah to report on Secretary Zinke's efforts to promote the politically rich landowner rights movements in his article "Trump's national monument plan could easily fail-but he'll still declare victory."

Press Secretary Sean Spicer presenting POTUS's first quarter paycheck
to DOI Secretary Zinke

On April 27, 2017, President Trump signed executive order, directing the Department of Interior to review designations of national monuments greater than 100,000 acres created since 1996.  Mr. Halper writes, "It's a directive the may prove legally tenuous but is nonetheless creating rich political theater for the White House.  As if the Trump administration needs more drama. During the campaign, then-candidate Trump struggled in deep red Utah with the landowner rights movement.  Now as president, POTUS dispatched the rugged Secretary Zinke on a tour that annoyed environmentalists and Native American tribes.

Bears Ears National Monument
Two of the monuments under review is Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. both in Utah.  Both of these monuments were created in accordance with the 1906 Antiquities Act, signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt.  This law gives the president the authority to designate national monuments and makes it a federal crime to destroy or alter ruins and artifacts on federal lands.    Recently, most of the large public lands protection bills have been stalled in Congress, thus presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama used the act to protect vast amounts of lands, largely in the West, under federal protection. (http://www.npr.org; date accessed May 22, 2017)

Grand Staircase-Escalante

During his four-day tour, Secretary Zinke surveyed two controversial monuments: "the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears, which President Obama established at the behest of tribes and conservationists in the final weeks of his administration and the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase Escalante, which riled local developers and energy companies since President Clinton created it in 1996."

In the nearby communities, these monuments are frequently called a betrayal, depriving the residents of potential employment from energy extractions and other opportunities.  Republican Utah Senator Orrin Hatch used the word again while rowing about it on the Senate floor.

Map of Pacific Remote Island National Monument

Ranking House National Resources Committee ranking Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva told Mr. Halper,

They are trying to work with a favorable audience...Once they live the confines of Utah and start looking at all the those other monuments, the politics dramatically changes...

The attorney generals in New Mexico and Washington warned Sec. Zinke that "he has no authority to diminish their monuments, and California would not hesitate to engage in a fight should Zinke move on lands within its borders.  One of the national monuments on the review list is Berryessa Snow Monument north of Sacramento and San Francisco Bay.

Berryessa Snow Mountain
Polls in Utah show the public is split over whether or not Bears Ears should retain its designation.  State government leadership is largely united and Sec. Zinke is receiving kudos on this trip.

Utah state legislator Ken Ivory opined,

We now have an opportunity to discuss and deliberate like we didn't even during the Bush administration.

Mr. Ivory is leading a multi-state federal land initiative that would good further than President Trump's executive order.  His quest, which has allies in Congress, looks to nationally export Utah's strategy of "pushing the federal government to transfer its land to state control."

Sonoran Desert National Monument

The landowner rights movement is a sensitive political issue for both POTUS and Sec. Zinke, who are allied with a large coalition of hunters, anglers, and outdoor suppliers wondering about what the states would do with the federal lands.  Both Mr. Ivory and Rep. Grijalva consider themselve outdoorsmen and made promises that the Trump administration will not lose control of the millions of acres at stake.  Nonetheless, Mr. Ivory is encourage by the review order.  He said,

This will continue the discussion.

Papahānamokuākea Marine National Monument
The protected lands Sec. Zinke toured are the foundation of POTUS's order for review and is likely to end with the Secretary suggesting that both places either have their designation stripped or be downgraded greatly.  Sec. Zinke is racing to review both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante and the other 19 monument, including six in California, before creating two lists of possible eliminations and rollbacks.  The first list will be ready in mid-June.

Evn Halper writes, "There is ample evidence the exercise could go sideways, as some of Trump's other executive have..."  President Trump promised that "The executive order...would force builders of the Keystoe XL oil pipeline to use American steel actually won't."

Hanford Reach National Monument
Kate Kelly, an advisor to former Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, told Mr. Halper,

The review of these monuments is predicated on the idea that the president has the authority that he doesn't have...There is no legal basis for it.

There may be no legal basis but there is precedent for POTUS's move.  Mr. Halper writes, "The last time a president moved to get ride of a monument on his own authority was in 1938, when Franklin D. Roosevelt sought to jettison the Castle-Pinckney National Monument in South Carolina."  President Roosevelt's attorney general looked the options at the time; eventually reporting back that The President could not do that. This requires an act of Congress, "...which ultimately authorized the federal government to offload the property in the 1950s."  The president's authority to de-designated a monument, say environmentalists, has diminished since the FDR administration, after Congress approved legislation cementing federal protecting.

Rio Grande del Norte
New Mexico
Conservative think tank lawyers influential in shepherding POTUS's agenda posit that the FDR administration got it wrong.  "They say that not only does the president have explicit authority to scotch monuments but that many of monuments created under the century-old Antiquities Act were done so illegally.  The act,..., was never intended to preserve sprawling land masses the size of Delaware."

If we accept this argument, even President Theodore Roosevelt's designation of the Grand Canyon was out of bounds.  Since then, the Grand Canyon has been promoted, sort of, from national monument to national park and universally considered untouchable by the President Trump's national monument review order.

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
Los Angeles, California

Todd Gaziano, an attorney with the Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation, defended the president,

I think the president is in a strong position.

Evan Halper counters, "While no president has ever successfully eliminated national monuments, several have changed their shapes and even shrunk them."  President John F. Kennedy substantially reconfigured the borders of the Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, trimming nearly 4,500 acres and adding 3,000, claiming that the boundaries of what was preservation worthy had evolved.  While still a monument, Olympic National Park in Washington, was trimmed multiple times to allow timber harvesting, including 1915, when Navy ships were still built from wood.

Sunset on the Upper Missouri River Breaks
Evan Halper points out major differences between the attempts by Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy and the current efforts by the Trump administration: "the earlier presidential moves to redraw monument boundaries were not contested."  The courts have yet to render an opinion on whether a president can take such action when stakeholders such as Native American tribes, environmental groups, and lawmakers strongly object.

Those groups have made it extremely clear that they will not allow President Trump to remove protection of a single parcel of land without a fight.  Given POTUS's 40 percent approval rating, Native American tribes, environmentalists, and legislators have a good shot at winning the battle.

Former Department of Interior deputy solicitor general Justin Pidot told Mr. Halper, "if he were working for this administration he would be warning Zinke that the legal arguments are shaky.  But, Pidot allowed, that may not be an overriding concern in this case."  Specifically,

A lot of things this administration does, it does for political theater...They many say they have done them, and then they get to rail against the courts for stopping them.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Thirty Years of 11 Endangered Historic Sites


The 2016 11 Endangered Historic Places
Hello Everyone:

Welcome to the new week on the blog.  Today we are going to celebrate the 30th anniversary of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (https://savingplaces.org/americas-most-endangered-historic-places). Since 1988, our friend at the National Trust for Historic Preservation publish a list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.  The list is meant to highlight places of American history that are endanger from natural and man-made threats.  To mark the occasion the NTHP put out a retrospective list of saves that not only reflect America's rich history but also reflect the tireless efforts of the few, the proud, the dedicated individual who brought each place back from the edge.

Antietam National Battlefield Park
Sharpsburg, Maryland
Antietam National Battlefield Park

The Battle of Antietam is considered the bloodiest day in American history and signaled the end of the Confederate invasion of Maryland.  Perhaps the most significant outcome of the Battle was it led President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.  The battlefield was threatened with highly inappropriate development in the form of a proposed shopping center and other developments.  This prompted the NTHP to add Antietam to its premier list in 1988.  Since being placed on the list, Antietam raised much needed funding to maintain the United States's best preserved Civil War battlefield. For more information go to https://savingplaces.org/stories/antietams-untold-history

Penn School Darrah Hall
St. Helena Island, South Carolina
Photograph by Bill Fitzpatrick
Penn School

The Penn School (part of the Penn Center) was the first school established in the Southern U.S. specifically for the education of African Americans.  The School, located on a former plantation, was founded 1862 and continued into the early fifties.  Unfortunately, the Penn School never fully recovered after many of its students enlisted during World War II and post-war migration away from the area.  Thanks to the publicity it received from being listed in the nineties, the Penn School raised the funds needed for repairs.  Today, the school exists as a museum and special events center.  Three cheers to former President Barack Obama, who included the Penn School as part of the Reconstruction Era  National Monument on January 12, 2017.  For more information go to: https://savingplaces.org/stories/after-the-slaves-were-freed-penn-center-and-the-port-royal-experiement

Historic Boston Theaters
Boston, Massachusetts
Historic Boston Theaters

Together with the rise of contemporary theaters in the early 20th century, the Boston Theater District flourished as the the epicenter of nightlife and the social scene.  The district's three most important theaters: the Paramount Theater, the Modern Theater, and the Boston Opera House suffered from disrepair as a result of economic hard times.  The district's addition to the 1995 list, Boston, nonprofits, developer, and others worked to together to rehabilitate and reopen the historic district as an arts and entertainment venue.  This revitalized the surrounding neighborhood.  In 2011, the National Trust gave the the theaters a Preservation Honor Award.  For more information, go to: https://savingplaces.org/stories/historic-theaters-stories

Little Rock Central High School
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock Central High School

The one-time largest high school in the nation, Little Rock Central High School entered Civil Rights history as the focal point of the Little Rock Integration Crisis in 1957.  The high school was the first test of the Brown v. Board of Education when nine African American student (the "Little Rock Nine") were barred from entering the school in defiance of the Supreme Court ruling.  In 1996, the school was added to the list, after years of deterioration.  Two years later, the school was designated a National Historic Site, along with it associated partners, made all renovations for the school thrive once more.  For more information, please go to: https://www.nps.gov/chsc/index.htm

Cathedral  of St. Vibiana
Los Angeles, California

Cathedral of St. Vibiana

 The Cathedral was opened in 1876 after five years of construction.  It continued to serve the Los Angeles Roman Catholic archdiocese through the 1990s when it was heavily damaged by the Northridge Earthquake (1994).  This led the archdiocese to go ahead with plans to demolish it.  These plans touched off a lengthy and successful legal; marking a defining moment for L.A. preservationists.  In late 2000s the former cathedral, now known as Vibiana, found new life as an event and cultural center.  For more information, please go to our friends at the Los Angeles Conservancy: http://www.laconservancy.org

Governors Island
Manhattan, New York

Governors Island National Monument (https://savingplaces.org/places/governors-island-national-monument)

Governors Island has played a pivotal role throughout American history: from the Revolutionary War to serving as a U.S. Coast Guard installation during the 20th century.  Governors was once the oldest, continuously used military post through the mid-nineties when it was targeted for closure by the President Bill Clinton administration.  However, three cheers for Presidents Clinton George W. Bush, former New York Governor George Pataki, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who joined together to save Governors Island and designate as a National Monument and public park in 2001, just four short year after making the list of 11 Endangered Sites.  Today, the northern part of the island is open for public use.  For more information, please check out https://www.nps.gov/gois/index.htm

Angel Island Immigration Station
San Francisco, California
Angel Island Immigration Station

Ange; Island Immigration Station, often called the "Ellis Island of the West," was once the point of entry for immigrants from Pacifica-Asian countries between 1910 and 1940.  After the Second World War, it was abandoned and fell into disrepair, until an eagle eye park ranger re-discovered lines of poetry carved and painted into the walls and floors.  Since its listing, in 1999, the NTHP and the White House Millennium Council have recovered and preserved over 200 poems.  In 2000, California voters passed an initiative to set aside money to complete repairs on the station.  For more information, click on https://savingplaces.org/stories/explore-these-west-coast-asian-american-heritage-sites

Travelers' Rest

Travelers' Rest

Inappropriate development and questions over the actual location of Travelers' Rest, the only archeologically verified Lewis and Clark campsite along the trail threatened the landmark in the mid-twentieth century.  To spotlight this historic site, the NTHP listed it in 1999.  The listing brought heightened awareness and spurred archeologist Dan Hall, the Mellon Foundation, The Conservation Fund, and the State of Montana into action.  Travelers' Rest was designated a protected park  in 2001.  For more information, please go to http://stateparks.mt.gov/travelers-rest/

President Abraham Lincoln's Cottage
Washington D.C.

President Lincoln's Cottage 

Not exactly what comes to mind when you think of a cottage.  Blogger supposes that compared to the White House, it is a cottage.  That aside, this was the onetime summer home for President Abraham Lincoln and other presidents.  Over time, the damaging effects of stress and use took their tool.  The cottage was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973 but that did not prevent the presidential summer home from falling into severe disrepair with a seeping basement floor, rotting wood window frames, outdated plumbing and electricity.  In 2000, President Clinton designated it a National Monument coinciding with its addition to the annual list.  President Lincoln's Cottage was opened to visitors in 2008, thanks to a $15 million rehabilitation project spearheaded by the National Trust.  For more information, click on the following links: https://savingplaces.org/places/lincolns-cottage
 https://savingplaces.org/stories/veteran-connection-president-lincolns-cottage https://savingplaces.org/stories/the-courage-to-confront-our-past-the-lincoln-ideas-forum-2016 https://savingplaces.org/stories/president-lincolns-cottage-hosts-two-faces-comedy-series

Nine Mile Canyon

Nine Mile Canyon

Look at the picture on the left and take a couple of minutes to fully appreciate the natural beauty of Nine Mile Canyon in Utah.  Breathtaking.  What makes this magnificent place even more stunning is that it features relics from the Ute people and Fremont culture going back 1,700 years-as well as more recent-isa historic sites from the 19th-century Buffalo Soldiers.  Sadly, the Canyon came under recent threat from a chemical dust suppressant caused by daily automobile traffic coming through the area that was damaging the pictographs and petroglyphs.  The Canyon was listed in 2004.  Both the NYHP and the Nine Mile Canyon waged a successful campaign to raise awareness and increase visitor rates.  Their efforts resulted in a fully paved road that goes through the entire canyon.  If you would like more information, please go to:

The Statler Hilton Hotel
Dallas, Texas
The Statler Hilton Hotel

Mid-twentieth century modernism has been in the spotlight lately as buildings from the past 50 to 60 years are coming under consideration for landmark status.  The Statler Hilton Hotel in Dallas, Texas is one such place.  The Hotel is an example of the innovations typical of Modernism on a giant scale.  Just its massive size, bold form, and novel architectural features made it an icon of mid-twentieth century design.  The amenities: elevator music,  roof-top pool, and televisions in every guest room were ahead of the time it was built.  Sadly, this modern wonder sat vacant for many years and faced threats from the wrecking ball until developers wisely embarked on a $175 million renovation after the Hotel made the list in 2008.  Good news, the repairs are almost complete and this modern gem will return to its rightful place in the sun.  For more information, please go to

Bears Ears National Monument
These and many more historic sites chosen for the annual 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites could not be saved without the bottomless dedication and awareness of the people who live and work in the host communities.  Every year the National Trust for Historic Places celebrates each of these success stories but there is still much work to be done.  Thousands of historically important places remain under threat, including Bears Ears in southeastern Utah.

Bears Ears National Monument has been placed on the Trump Administration's review of national monuments created since 1996.  Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke is looking for public input on Bears Ears.  The National Trust needs your help.  Bears Ears is home to a stunning collection of Native American cultural and archeological sites.  They include:hunting camps, cliff dwellings, prehistoric villages, petroglyphs and pictographs dating back to the Ice Age.  While Bears Ears may not be as bold faced as Arches, Zion, or Canyonlands National Parks, the resources are an abundant treasure trove.  If you would like to submit comments, please go to http://www.regulations.gov and enter DOI-2017-0002 before May 26.  You may also mail your comments to Monument Review MS-1530, U.S. Department of Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington D.C. 20240.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: This Is What Winning Looks Like


Former FBI Director James Comey
Hello Everyone:

It is time for the latest edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  The last 24 hours have been eventful, have they not?  Yours truly is referring to seemingly sudden dismissal of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey by President Donald Trump. Former director Comey's firing comes days after the FBI asked for additional funds for the agency's ongoing investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  This also comes not long after POTUS praised Mr. Comey for the way he handled the Clinton email scandal.  POTUS's reason for dismissing Mr. Comey was the way the former director handled the Clinton investigation and the agency lost confidence in Mr. Comey, thus unable to lead the bureau effectively.  Are any of you buying this?  Blogger does not think so.  The whole thing reeks of feces.  Over the last 24 hours, the i-word (impeachment) has been uttered frequently and loudly as has the call for a special prosecutor.  This has real potential to backfire on POTUS bigly and badly.  A special prosecutor is going to be necessary because whoever is appointed to replace Mr. Comey cannot maintain any form objectivity because he or she will be beholden to President Trump.  What will happen next?  Who knows?  Now on to today's topic.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera responds to a federal judge's order
Photograph by Eric Risberg/AP
Today we return to the subject of sanctuary cities.  Recently, federal Judge William Orrick recently blocked POTUS's ill-conceived executive order that sought to withhold federal funds from self-proclaimed sanctuary cities: cities that curtail cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in some form or fashion.  Tanvi Misra writes in her CityLab article "Sanctuary Cities Are Winning," "In essence, U.S. District Judge William Orrick of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the executive order is overtly broad and constitutionally fraught."

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, associate professor at the University Denver's Sturm College of Law, told CityLab

The bottom line is that the federal court has dealt a major setback to President Trump's attack on sanctuary cities...I imagine that the federal government will appeal but, for now, the Trump Administration cannot go forward with its hope of punishing cities and counties for limiting their cooperation wit ICE.

Rep Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) speaking against the "anti-sanctuary cities" bill
Photograph by Eric Gay/AP
Just last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed a law banning sanctuary cities and threatening civic officials with jail time if they did not comply. (http://www.nytimes.com; date accessed May 10, 2017) The new law signaled Texas's hard conservative tack.  The state's legislative body was drifting further right.  Its historic relationship with the Latino residents was thrown into flux.  Texas is a state with the second-largest Latino population in the nation.  The new law threatens law enforcement officials with jail time and termination if they do not cooperation with federal immigration authorities.  It also permits police officers, including university police, to question the immigration status of any person they had detained or arrested, including routine traffic stops.  (Ibid)  The point here is that the Trump campaign emboldened an extremely hard stance toward anyone with a Spanish surname, regardless of citizenship status.  Also, it is an indication of the random nature of the way that ill-conceived executive order was put forth.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer
Photograph by Andrew Harnik/AP
The controversial executive order was based on federal statue-U.S. Code 1373-"that forbids local governments from withholding information about immigration status of an individual from federal authorities."  San Francisco Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit right after he signed it, citing, "that the 10th Amendment limits the power of the federal government to 'commandeer' states and localities-a claim backed up by many legal experts."  Neighboring Santa Clara County followed.

The decision rendered by Judge Orrick affirms the jurisdictions case that the executive order is tantamount to a loaded gun pointed at their heads.  The decision reads,

..[it] threatens to deny sanctuary jurisdictions all federal grants, hundred of million of  dollars on which the Counties rely...The threat is unconstitutionally coercive.

The ruling also questions the limits of the president's control of the federal purse strings:

The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds...

POTUS holding up the Executive Order
Photograph by Pablo Martinez Monsivals/The Associated Press

While POTUS and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have publicly expounded on punishing sanctuary cities by withholding billions of dollars in federal grants, however during the hearing, the administrations lawyers tried to argue a more narrow interpretation.  The lawyers argued that "it would only apply only to a limited number of Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice grants."  Judge Orrick, in his infinite wisdom, dismissed this argument. He wrote that the lawyers interpretations renders the Order toothless, and very different from thewording  President Trump signed off on.  Vanderbilt University immigration scholar Peter Mancina elaborated in a series of tweets:

...For starters, this is big.  He is saying that the fed's lawyer's interpretation of the EO being narrow is too far from the text of the EO p14...

...I guess what I'm saying is that the judge is all out rejecting the fed attorney's contention that the EO is narrow & only applies to DOJ/DHS...

...Also he cites Trump's statements that sanctuary city defending was a "weapon"-Trump's words coming back to haunt him.. (p23)....

...This amounts to the judge calling bullshit on the US attorneys.  It not a narrow EO-it's a broad, vindictive, intentionally coercive EO...

Seattle Mayor Mike Murray announcing a lawsuit against the Trump administration
Photograph by Mike Mill McKnight/Cascade Public Media
Judge William Orrick's decision comes just days after AG Sessions sent out letters to nine cities, requesting proof on their compliance with U.S.C. 1373.   Tanvi Misra writes, "One of San Francisco's arguments was that this statute itself is unconstitutional, but the judge didn't address that specifically."  While, yes, technically the federal government and strip funds, they cannot do so in the haphazard manner as stated in the order, at the caprice of the president.  Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason, explained in The Washington Post,

In this case, none of the federal grants given to sanctuary cities were conditioned by Congress on compliance wtth Section 1373 or any other form of cooperation with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants.  The president cannot impose such conditions on his own... (http://www.washingtonpost.com; date accessed May 10, 2017)

This order, the equally odious one banning the entry of nationals from six Muslim majority countries and pausing the entry of refugees, share a key trait" "They're both unable to veil the administrations's legally dubious intentions in court."  Legally dubious intentions would not be the phrase Blogger would use: more like morally repugnant intentions.  This is why, for municipalities opposing President Donald Trump on immigration, the first 100 days have led to a series of victories.  Based on Judge Orrick's reading, "their case is good enough that they're likely to retain that winning streak."  That, is what winning looks like.