What does a folding chair have to do with equality in government

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Why is everyone talking about folding chairs?

How a chair became a megaphone for Black American Ancestors

No historian or forecaster could have seen the storm brewing earlier this month in Montgomery, Alabama. Many Americans had their Sunday afternoon social media scrolling disrupted with what initially seemed like a race-based brawl on the Montgomery, Alabama riverfront on August 5, 2023. The final victory blows were executed with a single folding chair.
Within hours of the initial video, additional footage was shared showing the hour leading up to the brawl. Apparently, Damien Picket, who is the Black co-captain of a riverboat (ironically named the HARRIOTT), continually asked the owners of a private pontoon boat to move so he could dock into the city’s designated space for the riverboat. The group of white folks, who were local business owners, responded with curse words, obscene gestures, and more. This went on for 45 minutes. It was at this point that Mr. Picket “peacefully move the boat over just enough so the Harriott could park.” This enraged the pontoon boat owners enough to attack Mr. Picket. When four men surrounded him and started to get violent, he threw his cap in the air before the pummeled him to the ground. The rest, you might say is history.
Over the course of a few days, social media archaeologists began to pontificate about what happened both to the naked eye, the hours leading up to the event, and the historical significance of what happened. Some of the coincidences that were cited:

  • The Harriott prominently shown on the riverboat during the melee served as a reminder of the first conductor of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman.
  • 16-year-old Aaron Rudolph swimming over to help get the men off of Mr. Picket. At his young age, he probably didn’t know the historical significance of his actions. The ocean, especially along the route of the Atlantic Slave Trade, is the largest graveyard in the world. He swam past that graveyard to help stop a hate crime.
  • Learning that the folding chair patent that many black churches used, similar to the one used during the brawl, was held by a Black inventor, Nathaniel Alexander.

Moreover, two incidents that happened within hours of the Riverfront event were a culmination of hundreds of years of American history. Read More Here

Fighting for a peaceful world

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Find your MI State SenatorFind your MI State Rep

Biden Creates a More Peaceful World

Biden Creates a More Peaceful World

President Biden has strengthened NATO in the last 2 years and enhanced its significance. He recently held a trilateral summit with President Yoon of South Korea and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, marking a historic gathering of our key allies in eastern Asia. During the summit, President Biden expressed gratitude to his counterparts for their political courage and efforts to establish a strong foundation for cooperation. President Yoon emphasized the importance of the meeting at Camp David, suggesting that the trilateral partnership is entering a new and significant chapter. Prime Minister Kishida agreed, highlighting the moment as a turning point in international history.

Heather Cox Richardson shared in her August 18 article, “As we embark together in this new era, our shared values will be our guide and a free and open Indo-Pacific, in which our half-billion people are safe and prosperous, will be our collective purpose,” they wrote. “We depart Camp David with a shared resolve and optimism for the future. The opportunity that lies before us was not guaranteed—it was embraced. It is the product of a determination, fiercely held by each of us, that if we are to deliver a peaceful and prosperous future for our people, and the people of the Indo-Pacific, we must more often stand together.”

Student Loans: MICHIGAN PROGRAMS – Student Debt Part III

Student Loans: MICHIGAN PROGRAMS – Student Debt Part III
Action on the Student Debt IssueMichiganders carry an average student loan debt of $36,116, according to the Education Data Initiative. Many mental health careers require advanced degrees, upping the loan debt, which workers must repay on salaries hovering around $50,000 per year for social workers and mental health counselors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.With the introduction of MI Kids Now, a loan reimbursement program launched in 2022, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has set aside more than $7 million for in-the-field mental health workers. MI Kids Now offers student loan repayment of up to $300,000 over 10 years. The program requires at least two years of work at a Michigan public school or nonprofit clinic or organization, especially one serving children in an underserved area. In its 2022 cycle, the state awarded $4.4 million to 315 eligible mental health providers, who carried a whopping $107.4 million in total student loan debt — or an average of $341,000 in debt per provider, according to a state representative. This MLive article describes how and why this program was developed.
As part of the agreement, MDHHS “is working to improve access to care when and where children need it,” through MI Kids Now and other efforts. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology only, three counties in the state — none of them in Southeast Michigan ― have an adequate supply of psychiatrists specializing in children’s mental health. Adequate care requires at least 47 child psychiatrists per 100,000 kids.

In addition, in September 2022, Governor Whitmer announced that student loan relief would not be treated as taxable income in Michigan. Approximately 1.4 million Michiganders eligible for relief will not owe any state taxes for receiving benefits of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program or other student loan forgiveness. You can qualify for PSLF if you work in public service, including the military, qualifying non-profits, or federal, state, local, or tribal governments. After 10 years of public service employment and 120 on-time loan payments, you may be eligible to have your entire student loan balance forgiven. 

Part I – Background on Student Debt

Part II – Federal Programs

Kudos – Thank you to Leslie Kamil, OTR/L, MS, JD for her special attention for this series

Let’s acknowledge Governor Whitmer for her action on the Student Debt Issue

Send a note to Governor Whitmer

Events and Opportunities

July and August are months for representatives to share important legislative updates and focus on constituent input and feedback, as well as time for us to ask questions about what they have been up to for the past six months.

Friday, August 25. Coffee and Conversations

State Representative Reggie Miller (D-31) will host coffee and conversation with constituents at The Owl, Morning ’til Night, 9 W Main Street, Milan, MI, 48160. No RSVP required. 11 am

Monday, August 28. Michigan United DTE/Consumers Committee Meeting

Michigan United is opening their DTE/Consumers Committee Meeting to anyone who wants to keep utility corporations like DTE and Consumers Energy accountable. Their current focus is to ensure the community’s needs get communicated effectively during the Listening Tour events held by the Michigan House Energy, Communications, and Technology Committee. The meeting will be held at Michigan United’s Detroit Office, 4405 Wesson St, Detroit. To attend virtually, sign up here. 6–7 pm

Tuesday, August 29. MICARE Town Hall

Join Representative Jimmie Wilson, Jr. (D-32) and Guest Speaker Representative Carrie Rheingans to discuss Universal Health Care at the Ypsilanti Township Civic Center, 7200 S. Huron River Dr, Ypsi. 5:30–7 pm

Saturday, August 26– Sunday, September 3. Help Get Out the VOTE

Help our friends at the Washtenaw Dems GOTV in Ypsilanti, Chelsea, and Saline. Sign up today at the links below: 

Saturday, August 26. Parkridge Community Fest & Joe Dulin Day in Ypsilantihttps://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090B44A4A622A20-parkridge 

Saturday, August 26. Chelsea Fair Paradehttps://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090B44A4A622A20-chelsea1 

Wednesday, August 30 through Sunday, September 3. Saline Community Fairhttps://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090B44A4A622A20-saline

Serve on a Board or Commission for Michigan

Our state government is listening! Be heard in a major way by applying for one of the 100 open appointments on various committees and boards. Search the online portal by interest area here.

Representative Jason Morgan’s office is hiring

ISO a full time Constituent Services Director and a paid fall internship. Spread the word and maybe apply yourself!
https://house.mi.gov/FullTimePositions https://house.mi.gov/InternPositions  

Visit the PEG Events Page for all upcoming events at www.equalityingov.org/events!

More things to do, read, watch, and listen to

Flooding Information from Senator Jeff Irwin

SAFETY*Call 911 if there is an emergency that threatens people or property. Please treat flood water as contaminated. Do not drive or enter a flooded area.

INSURANCE: Photograph flooding conditions and any water damaged property if you are considering alerting your insurance. **Most homeowners insurance does not cover flooding, but it does cover water damage from leaking pipes, roofs, and windows. When documenting and describing damage, avoid using the word “flooding”.

Read more here:

RESOURCESYpsilanti Township:For surface flooding that is not receding (the Water Resource Commissioner wants to identify these areas to clear obstructions) contact:

Ann Arbor:Report concerns by:

*After-hour emergencies should be reported by calling 911

Washtenaw County Health Department Releases Firearm Death Report Local firearm deaths are increasing; majority of firearm deaths are suicides. From 2011-2022, the majority (70%) of firearm deaths in Washtenaw County were suicides, and 30% were classified as homicides. This proportion of suicides is slightly higher than in Michigan overall, where 59% of firearm deaths are classified as suicides, and 38% are classified as homicides.


HUSH MONEY CASE (Manhattan, NY) – 34 felony charges for falsifying business records. Trump pleaded not guilty to all counts and was released without having to post bail. The trial is scheduled for March 2024.
On March 30, Trump was indicted by a grand jury in New York for his alleged involvement in paying $130,000 to Stormy Daniels. Michael Cohen, Trump’s attorney at the time, paid the money to Daniels through a shell company and Trump reimbursed him, cataloging it as a legal expense. Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, considered this action as falsifying business records. Although falsifying business records is usually prosecuted as a misdemeanor in New York, the charge can be elevated to a felony if authorities believe it was done to assist another crime. Prosecutors have yet to reveal what underlying crime they believe Trump has committed. Read the indictment here.

CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS CASE (Miami, FL) – 40 federal charges for unauthorized possession and handling of classified documents, and obstructing government efforts to retrieve them. At his arraignment on June 9, 2023, Trump pleaded not guilty to all 37 felony counts. On July 27, he was charged with three additional felony counts. The trial is scheduled for May 20, 2024.
In total, Trump faces 32 counts of willfully retaining classified information in violation of the Espionage Act, six counts related to obstruction, and another two for allegedly giving false statements. In addition, Trump and two employees sought to destroy surveillance camera footage at his Mar-a-Lago private members’ resort, where the documents were being stored. Read the indictment here.

FEDERAL ELECTIONS AND JANUARY 6TH CASE (Wahington, DC) – 4 federal criminal charges related to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and to obstruct the certification of the electoral vote. Trump pleaded not guilty to those charges. Special counsel Jack Smith has moved to set a trial date for January 2024.
In connection to the January 6 insurrection, the former president faces four felony charges for: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights. The indictment alleges that six other people were involved in the conspiracy. Read the indictment here.
The Guardian stated that if Trump were elected president while the case was still pending, he would almost certainly move to fire Smith and get rid of the charges. He could also theoretically pardon himself if he has been convicted.

CHANGING THE RESULTS OF THE GEORGIA ELECTION (Fulton County, GA) – The total indictments filed list 41 counts, including 13 charges against Trump. Indictment details include solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer, making false statements and writings, conspiring to commit forgery in the first degree, conspiring to file false documents, and violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Under RICO, prosecutors have to prove only that each person broke state laws as part of a continuing criminal enterprise with the same overarching goal. Trump convened a slate of fake electors in Georgia. The group of 16 people met discreetly in the Georgia capitol in December 2020 and signed a certificate affirming Trump’s purported victory that was sent to the National Archives.
Here’s a list of everyone else who was charged in the Georgia case and what was revealed in the indictment. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has given the defendants, Trump and 18 others, until noon this Friday to surrender voluntarily. Trump has stated that he will turn himself in on Thursday, August 24, 2023.

Good News

First-of-its-kind Program protects Michigan Children

Flint Moms will Receive $7500 to Improve Health of Mother and ChildDr. Mona Hanna-Attisha say Michigan’s new Rx Kids program “is a way that is dignified, and tells the people, ‘We see you and hear you, and it’s hard to have a kid, [so] we’re here walking alongside you.’”  Dr. Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who exposed the Flint water crisis in 2015 and its impact on the city’s children, now oversees the program.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a budget that includes $16.5 million for the program, which attempts to fight poverty with cash payments to expectant and new mothers in the city of Flint.
Touted as the first-of-its-kind in the nation, Rx Kids is a $55 million experiment to test whether cash payments protect children from toxic stress and break cycles of poverty.It prescribes unconditional cash allowances to all pregnant mothers and babies — regardless of their income — in one of the state’s poorest cities. Beginning in January, Flint moms will receive up to $7,500 to help boost their infant’s footing in the first year of life: a one-time $1,500 payment in mid-pregnancy, followed by $500 per month for the first year of a child’s life.

Not everyone is pleasedRepublican State Sen. Jim Runestad of White Lake argued that the unrestricted cash handouts are “emotional programs” that “create dependence on the government.” Indeed, one study from Princeton University concluded that cash assistance reduces incentives to work and may harm adults’ earnings over their life-time, even if they appear to offer a temporary boost. 
But Rx Kids architects – including H. Luke Shaefer, a national expert in poverty and social welfare policy at the University of Michigan – say cash payments are a first step in tackling poverty. The most recent evidence that such payments help break poverty cycles, Shaefer said, is the country’s experience COVID-era stimulus payments.
Flint has a large, concentrated number of children in poverty, according to U.S. Census data analyzed for Bridge by retired demographer Kurt Metzger. Nearly 50 percent of Flint children, a total of 10,068, live in poverty, while the poverty rate for kids under 5 in some neighborhoods exceeds 80 percent, according to the Mott Foundation.

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