Many of the most progressive countries in the world are making use of technology to promote rehabilitation and reduce incarceration. Yet blue states like Massachusetts and left-leaning advocacy organizations remain hostile to use of electronic monitoring (EM) methods. They are overlooking the benefits of EM—even from a progressive standpoint.
Progressives' typically formulated criminal justice goal is laudatory: to minimize incarceration consistent with public safety, and to maximize the rehabilitation of offenders. But achieving these ends has been, to say the least, problematic.
Progressives commonly urge more addiction treatment and mental health services as steps toward rehabilitation. These treatments might be beneficial for many ex-offenders, but by themselves they are unlikely to sharply curtail recidivism. Vocational training is also useful, but success measured by societal reintegration of ex-offenders is unproven. Despite all that we've learned about rehabilitation over the last five decades, the inescapable fact is that over 80% of all prisoners are rearrested for new crimes at some point after they are released.
Virtually all prisoners return to free society—and more quickly than most people realize. Only 20% of prisoners complete full sentences, and the median time actually served is a mere one year and four months. Released offenders are then monitored by parole or probation officers, who are supposed to encourage constructive behavior. But as we all know, these officers have enormous caseloads and cannot effectively supervise the volume of people they are assigned. Under the current parole and probation system, there are, as a practical matter, few disincentives to crime, which is why so many released offenders are repeaters.
Each year, tens of thousands of probationers and parolees fail to comply with the terms of their release and are sent back to jail or prison. In 2019, before COVID produced its own distinct brand of decarceration, 334,000 probation and parole failures were (re)incarcerated, which constituted 29% of all prison admissions that year.
Given these discouraging realities, the benefits of EM from a progressive standpoint surely are worth reconsidering.
1. EM helps ex-offenders avoid incarceration and reintegrate into free society.
Rehabilitation does not take place automatically. Young men released from jail or prison face powerful incentives to commit more crime. These incentives must be offset by counter-inducements to conform to the law. EM creates those positive incentives. It enables the ex-offender to remain free, seek gainful employment, socialize with friends and family, and avoid the myriad pains of incarceration. Because the offender knows he is being monitored, he will be more reluctant to reoffend. He also will receive audible reminders to attend treatment programs, and to show up for work and meet with his parole or probation officer. Bear in mind that even if treatment programs are effective, they only work for those who actually show up—and many ex-offenders drop out or simply fail to appear altogether.
In short, EM helps an offender rehabilitate and avoid recidivism—a major goal of progressive justice.
2. EM can effectively replace incarceration.
Since EM has been shown to be effective—as many studies both here and abroad prove—it theoretically could, in many cases, replace incarceration altogether. For instance, EM could be used along with probation sentences to keep more offenders out of prison and ensure compliance with the terms of release. In addition, EM could be applied to selected arrestees to replace financial bail—another progressive goal. Current efforts by progressive prosecutors to keep as many low-level arrestees as possible out of jail are alarming the public and probably contributing to crime and disorder. If electronic monitors were used instead of unmonitored release, we could reduce the jail population with far less risk to the public. Even where the seriousness of the crime demands imprisonment, EM can hasten the release to parole and increase the likelihood of success once discharged. Parole is much less risky with EM than without.
3. EM protects crime victims, especially the most vulnerable.
EM helps protect crime victims, including women and children—a special concern of progressives. If, for example, a male domestic violence offender were ordered, as part of the terms of his parole, to keep away from his wife and their children, EM could provide much-needed enforcement. The wife's residence and workplace could be made into geofenced exclusion zones, no-go areas for the parolee. The device can then caution the offender with an alarm if he nears the prohibited area, and alert the authorities should he physically breach the boundary. Without EM, the offender is, as a practical matter, on his own honor to keep away from his victims.
The biggest obstacle to electronic monitoring right now is various state court rulings based on the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which protects against "unreasonable searches and seizures." For instance, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court prohibited the requirement of an ankle bracelet for a sex offender placed on probation for six years. The court said that "the GPS device burdens liberty in two ways: by its permanent, physical attachment to the offender, and by its continuous surveillance of the offender's activities." But this ruling mischaracterized the ankle bracelet, which wasn't "permanent" and could only track the probationer's physical location, not his "activities."
More worrisome was the court's refusal to recognize the benefits of EM for the offender himself. The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the constitutionality of EM, but it has acknowledged the "State's interests in reducing recidivism and thereby promoting reintegration and positive citizenship among probationers and parolees," even at the expense of "privacy intrusions that would not otherwise be tolerated under the Fourth Amendment."
Before we reject this useful tool to help ex-offenders turn their lives around and avoid wasted years behind bars, we should ask ourselves this question: Is there a better way to achieve reintegration into law-abiding society, while also taking public protection into account? I submit there is not.
Barry Latzer is emeritus professor of criminal justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author of The Myth of Overpunishment: A Defense of the American Justice System and a Proposal to Reduce Incarceration While Protecting the Public.
The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.
Approximately 58 of the top 100 medical schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report include critical race theory in their courses and student training, according to the Critical Race Training in Education database.
Of the top schools, 46 provide students and staff with resources by Robin DiAngelo, the author of “Nice Racism,” a book about how progressive white people perpetuate racial harm, and Ibram X. Kendi, the author of several books on anti-racism, including “Stamped.”
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “anti-racism” through the end of merit and objective truth, and the adoption of race-based policies.
“As with our higher-education database, some have embraced CRT explicitly, while others have a continuum of programming, such as ‘anti-racism,’ ‘equity,’ and ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’ that does not easily fit into a Yes/No construct,” the Critical Race Training in Education database stated. “We provide information from which you can make the most informed decision possible.”
Harvard Medical School, named the top medical school in the country by U.S. News & World Report, is developing new classes for its master’s and Ph.D. programs that will help students “acknowledge the ways in which racism is embedded in science and scientific culture and work to redress these long-standing issues,” according to Harvard Medical School’s website.
The school’s Global Surgery and Social Change program requires its students to “participate in and lead informed discussions about anti-racism through a dedicated anti-racism curriculum” in order to educate students on the “history of racism and colonialism in health.”
The University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine, ranked third in the U.S. News & World Report review of medical schools, has racial-affinity caucusing groups for students to participate in “anti-racist work and process the impact of racism on ourselves and our community,” the school’s website reads. In September, the school announced its “Differences Matter Initiative” to help the school “accelerate the achievement of equity and inclusion across the medical profession.”
Duke University School of Medicine, ranked sixth by U.S. News & World Report’s review of medical schools, implemented an anti-racism committee to “incorporate teaching racism and racial inequities” through “teaching, research and clinical missions,” the school website showed. The school offers resources including “an anti-racist reading list from Ibram X. Kendi” to help further its goal of making the school “an educational and research leader and agent of change towards an anti-racist culture.”
The department of surgery at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, ranked 68th for medical schools in the nation, provides “ongoing faculty development sessions in syllabus related to diversity, equity and inclusion,” the school website stated. Students in the department of surgery will be taught to “eliminate the impact of implicit and explicit bias” within their practice.
The anti-racism push in medical education is increasing; to reach diversity, equity and inclusion goals, 35.6% of medical schools are offering incentives to departments that meet the diversity goals set by the institution. In July, the Association of American Medical Colleges released new guidelines on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives for medical schools to teach students to consider their “privilege” and patients’ “intersectionality” when providing treatment.
Critical Race Training in Education, Harvard Medical School, the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, and the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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Progressive Components (Wauconda, IL) recently added new products to support the unique requirements of cleanroom molding for medical applications.
Tapered Series Date Plugs, made from stainless steel, feature a tapered seal between the date plug and date ring. Low-viscosity resins commonly used in medical applications flash easily; the tapered seal prevents flash, eliminating potential non-conformance with the molded part.
The company also offers stainless-steel Support Pillars that eliminate the allocation of labor and cost associated with making custom pillars in house.
These items join over a dozen products that Progressive Components has introduced recently that benefit cleanroom molding.
“Our roots are in the medical mold market, being located in one of the world’s largest medical molding corridors,” said Glenn Starkey, President of Progressive Components. “Early on, we recognized that a high-demand, high-cost mold for medical applications should not have rusty mold base components, nor should the shop that built it make mold base components such as locating rings and press knockout extensions.
“Whenever practical, we’ve made components from stainless steel or black oxide for corrosion resistance, and now support pillars join these items. And for the critical cavity/core area, the Tapered Series Date Plugs join exclusives such as friction-free slide retainers, needle bearing locks and UltraPins treated for lubricity,” said Starkey.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Democratic District Attorney Larry Krasner is asking a court to stop a Republican-led effort to remove him from office that was launched due to opposition toward Krasner’s progressive crime policies.
"Never before has the legislature exercised its power to impeach and remove someone duly elected twice for things that do not come close to a crime," Krasner’s lawyers told the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on Friday. "And never before has the statewide legislature exercised its power to impeach a locally elected officer like District Attorney Krasner."
In a press release, Krasner’s office said its petition filed in court is a response to "unlawful impeachment proceedings against him, which were initiated by the outgoing Republican House majority in a lame duck, previous legislative session."
The release states that Krasner "has not been accused of corruption or criminal misconduct, and is the first sitting locally elected official in Commonwealth history to be targeted for impeachment by the General Assembly over his policies and ideas."
IMPEACHMENT MANAGERS NAMED FOR PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY LARRY KRASNER SENATE TRIAL
Krasner sued the Senate’s top-ranking Republican, Sen. Kim Ward of Westmoreland County, unnamed members of the Senate committee who will oversee the case and the three impeachment managers designated by the House of Representatives.
Ward’s spokesperson, Erica Clayton Wright, said Friday that the filing was under review and that a response will be made "once we have had time to evaluate the case."
The state House voted nearly along party lines to impeach Krasner on Nov. 16, sending the matter to the state Senate for trial next month. Removal will require support from two-thirds of senators, a tall order in the politically divided chamber.
FORMER PHILADELPHIA OFFICER BLAMES 'RADICAL' DA KRASNER FOR CRIME SURGE: 'IT'S LIKE WALKING THROUGH BAGHDAD'
Republican lawmakers have accused Krasner, who was backed by progressive mega-donor George Soros, of exacerbating Philadelphia's surging crime problem by implementing progressive criminal justice reform policies and botching certain high-profile cases.
"His lack of proper leadership serves as a direct and proximate cause of the crisis currently facing the city of Philadelphia," the House resolution calling for his impeachment stated.
ONE OUT OF EVERY 179 AMERICANS WILL EVENTUALLY BE MURDERED IF CRIME RATE CONTINUES, STUDY FINDS
GOP State Rep. Timothy Bonner said Krasner has put himself above the law and accused him of deciding which laws to enforce.
"In Philadelphia, a prosecutor is at the center of the rule of law and protecting the law and enforcing the law in this country. A prosecutor has discretion in deciding what charges will be initially filed, but that power is not absolute, and it can be abused."
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Pennsylvania Democrats have argued that Krasner is being scapegoated for wider problems and that the case against him is weak and an abuse of legislative power. They said the lame duck session impeachment would overturn voters' will and that House Republicans have themselves failed to act to address gun violence.
Krasner’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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The 45,000 or so residents of Dunn County live off on the western side of Wisconsin, not far from central Minnesota, but not close to much of anything. Like other rural counties, it leans heavily Republican, going by double digits to Donald Trump in 2020. This year, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., notched a 14-point margin there, and Tim Michels beat the incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers by 9 percentage points.
But when it came to health care, Dunn County voters said they would support a national health insurance program. The overwhelmingly Republican residents of this farming community approved a ballot measure that affirms their support for a single-payer public health insurance program. The idea, which passed 51-49, ran 11 points ahead of Evers, who was reelected statewide, and 16 points ahead of Senate candidate Mandela Barnes.
The largely unnoticed rural election result affirmed support for nationalizing and expanding health insurance, a program popularly known as Medicare for All. While the national media discourse about the election largely ignored health care issues beyond abortion rights, voters across the country registered support for progressive reforms focused on improving health care access and reining in the for-profit industries that dominate the medical system.
In Arizona and South Dakota, like in Dunn County, progressive health care initiatives outpaced Democratic Party candidates by a wide margin. Arizona voters passed Proposition 209, a measure that reduces the allowable interest rate for medical debt and expands exemptions for what can be garnished by medical debt collectors, with a landslide 72 percent in favor. South Dakota became the 40th state to expand Medicaid coverage, making an additional 40,000 residents eligible.
Oregon passed Measure 111, making it the first state to enshrine a right to “cost-effective, clinically appropriate affordable health care” for every resident in the state constitution. In Massachusetts, voters enacted Question 2, which forces dental insurance companies to spend at least 83 percent of premiums on genuine dental care, rather than administrative costs and profits.
Medicare for All has become associated with the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party — not a large population in Dunn County. National party operatives consider it an albatross around the neck of Democrats, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has warned candidates to stay away from it, and to focus instead on lowering prescription drug prices, which everyone who doesn’t work for the pharmaceutical industry supports instantly.
“The wording of the question sold it to them, because we avoided using words like Medicare for All and single payer,” said John Calabrese, a Dunn County board supervisor who works for Our Wisconsin Revolution, an offshoot of Sanders’s 2016 campaign for president. Taking the issue out of a partisan lens allowed for conversations that, he believed, wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.
In a divided Congress, there is little prospect for a sweeping reform such as single-payer health care. But lawmakers, a growing number of whom support Medicare for All, are likely to face growing pressure to take action on rising costs — and the industry is mobilizing accordingly.
A post-election report by the Healthcare Leadership Council, a trade group that represents the bulk of the private health care system — hospitals, drugmakers, medical device companies, insurers, and electronic records firms — flagged the state ballot measures and scored incoming lawmakers. The update featured polling that showed among voters who prioritized health care issues, apart from Covid-19, there is sweeping support for the need to tackle “high health care and drug costs/prices.”
The group was formed in the early ’90s as part of industry push to defeat progressive provisions of the health reform overhaul announced by President Bill Clinton, and now works to prevent policies that may reduce the ability for investors to make profit from the current system.
The council maintains a team that carefully screens candidates for Congress on health care issues in an attempt to inform industry lobbyists and help foster relationships for influencing legislation. HLC alerted its members about a wave of incoming Democrats who are not considered a “Healthcare Champion” — in other words, candidates who do not favor corporate positions on health policy.
Ohio Republican J.D. Vance and Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman are listed prominently as potential critics of the industry. Vance, HLC noted, “has staked out healthcare positions that break from traditional Republican orthodoxy, including support for government involvement in Medicare drug pricing and advocacy for prescription drug importation.” Fetterman, the document explains, adds to the “Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party” and supports “lowering of the Medicare eligibility age to 60 and advocating even tighter government controls on prescription drugs.”
A slew of newly elected House Democrats also support Medicare for All, HLC’s report noted, including Sydney Kamlager, Kevin Mullin, and Robert Garcia in California; Yadira Caraveo in Colorado; Summer Lee in Pennsylvania; and Hillary Scholten, who defeated a Republican opponent in a Michigan swing race. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., who succeeds retiring Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., also backs single-payer health insurance. Subject Matter, a lobbying firm that represents UnitedHealth Group and the Federation of American Hospitals, in a similar note to clients, lists Becca Balint, D-Vt.; Maxwell Frost, D-Fla.; Jonathan Jackson, D-Ill.; Shri Thanedar, D-Mich.; and Glenn Ivey, D-Md., as other candidates who voiced support for Medicare for All.
In addition, many new House Democrats have voiced support for lowering the Medicare eligibility age. The document circulated by Subject Matter observed that Gabriel Vasquez, a New Mexico Democrat who unseated Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., supports expanding Medicare eligibility, as does Chris Deluzio, who succeeded moderate Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa.
The support for an expanded public support for health care across the country gives the administration a mandate as it drafts rules implementing key provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, which allows Medicare to negotiate prices on the costliest prescription drugs covered by the program.
That sets the stage for the next confrontation. Industry lobbyists have fought bitterly against allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices. HLC President Mary Grealy previously denounced the proposal as “heavy-handed government regulation” that imposes “the dangerous precedent of importing the price control policies of foreign governments.”
And the industry are moving to influence the Biden administration to derail the Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions on drug prices. Shortly after the election, Grealy sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to ask that the administration provide an opportunity for groups such as HLC to weigh in on the implementation of the drug pricing program.
“So when you’re at the end of the year trying to balance the budget button, and we’re cutting $1,000 here and 500 bucks there and having to cut jobs, I mean, half a million dollars a month?” Calabrese, who helped shepherd the referendum through the maze of committees needed to get before the full board, said. “I thought, I bet there’s a way where we can talk about this single-payer system, this national health insurance program at a county level, and talk about the finances — maybe that’s worth putting some volunteer effort into and could really start to shift some conversations.”
On the day of the hearing, residents showed up to tell stories of their nightmare experiences either with insurance companies or without insurance. It also happened that the state had just released its annual health and human services report, and a state official was on hand to walk the county lawmakers through the budget.
“Nobody on that committee said, ‘I think that our health insurance system is great,’’’ said Calabrese. And really, nobody said that to me in going around the county for a month and a half handing out literature, not a single person started a conversation with ‘This is crazy, our health insurance system is great.’ We got some people saying, you know, this sounds like a socialist takeover, or whatever.”
The board’s most conservative member, Larry Bjork, was apoplectic at health care costs the county was accruing for people in its care in jails and other institutions. “Where does the money go?” he asked. “It blows my mind when I look at the financial statement, Chris, and we spend 38 percent of our budget on behavioral health services and health and human services. … I guess my question to you is, in listening to the presentations from the public today about universal health care, do you think there would ever be a universal — can counties get out from underneath that 38 percent going to mental health care by a federal program of any sort?”
The state official told him that if it was implemented, it would indeed resolve it for the county. She noted that before implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the county was spending roughly $100,000 a year to treat uninsured indigent patients at local hospitals, but that number had fallen to around $10,000. “Medicaid expansion to childless adults helped with some of that,” she said, according to audio of the hearing. “In direct answer to your question, if people had affordable health insurance available to them and coverage to get them the care that they needed when it wasn’t a crisis or emergency, it seems hard to not conclude that there would be cost savings to that.”
Calabrese said that Bjork’s approach to the issue, moving away from ideology toward practicality, was common among the board members confronted with the overwhelming cost of health care. Bjork said he was all in, and the referendum was moved to the ballot unanimously.
The measure would ask Dunn County voters, in an obviously nonbinding fashion, “Shall Congress and the president of the United States enact into law the creation of a non profit, publicly financed national health insurance program that would fully cover medical care costs for all Americans?”
Members of Our Wisconsin Revolution and other supporters of the referendum made day trips around the county throughout the fall, leafleting in small villages and hitting every door they could find. Calabrese had run unsuccessfully for state legislature in 2018 and 2020, and had gotten access to Democratic voter data to help with his targeting. He noticed that the county’s trailer parks and many of the apartment buildings weren’t included, as many of the residents there move frequently and/or aren’t registered to vote. “We visited every trailer park in the county,” Calabrese said.
On election night, as the returns came in, he watched as the villages they visited sided with a national public health insurance program. Those same towns had soundly rejected him for state legislative office. “All these little townships started to come in first for the referendum,” Calabrese said, “and what I was noticing was there are the little villages — the village of Elk Mound, village of Boyceville, village of Wheeler, and these little places — and as the names kept coming in, I noticed that those are the places where me and some other volunteers spent entire days doing lit drops and talking to anybody that we could. And so in those places that I know always go Republican, we were winning in these little villages by 10 or 15 votes and I’m like, oh my God, we spent a day in Wheeler, we spent a day there.”
“In the townships, people don’t really trust the government, don’t trust it can do anything good for them,” said Dr. Lorene Vedder, a retired general practitioner and one of the leaders of the referendum. Vedder is active with Physicians for a National Healthcare Program, which supports single payer. She noted that in rural areas they visited, the numbers were good. “Otherwise it was just dismal in the townships,” she said.
In Boyceville, for instance, voters went 239-132 for Ron Johnson over Mandela Barnes, but supported single-payer by 183 to 171. In Wheeler, Johnson won 52 votes to Barnes’s 27, but the referendum carried by 40 to 37. In Elk Mound, Johnson won 190-142, but health insurance won 184 to 124. The county seat of Menomonie delivered the biggest margin for the referendum, where it won by 1,369 votes.
In some parts of the surrounding countryside, the results fell along more partisan lines, but the overperformance in places like Elk Mound meant that even outside the county seat, it only lost by 485 votes, close enough to let Menomonie carry it. Rural townships “[are] much harder to get to, it’s rural country roads and we only had so much time and our resources weren’t as locked in as we hope to be in the future,” he said.
“I don’t want to get too high-minded and idealistic about it, or whatever the word is,” he added, “but I felt, at the end of it all, this real connection to my neighbors, in a time where it seems like if you watch national news, there’s this almost push in some networks and from some politicians who actually further the division and tell people that half the country is irredeemable, these people should just be written off and so to approach every trailer, whether it had big Trump flags or not, was — I just felt like talking about issues that affect everybody, it’s kind of the secret to us getting along better.”
There’s a new day coming for the Hawaii County Council, with a freshly minted chairwoman, three freshman members, newly named committees and a more progressive agenda.
Chairwoman-elect Heather Kimball, soon to be a second-term council member from Hamakua, will lead a council with freshmen replacing three more conservative members who — often unsuccessfully — pushed for more limited spending, greater tax savings and less government control. The new council is expected to focus more on social justice and environmental issues.
North Kona Councilman Holeka Inaba, also soon to be in his second two-year term, will be vice chairman.
The newly elected council members are Jennifer Kagiwada, formerly Kimball’s legislative aide, representing Hilo; Cindy Evans, a former representative in the state House, representing Kohala, and Michelle Galimba, a rancher and former member of the Windward Planning Commission, representing South Kona and Ka‘u.
“I certainly think we can anticipate many good things coming forward. With three new members, very bright, active, hardworking women, we’re going to have a very collaborative body,” Kimball said.
The 2020-2022 council was often collaborative, but not always on the same page.
Former Kohala Councilman Tim Richards, for example, frequently voted against the county budget because he disagreed with spending priorities. He also had strong opinions about the practicality of banning handguns on private property such as ranchland. Richards automatically left the council when he was elected state senator on Nov. 8.
Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung was term-limited, as was Council Chairwoman Maile David of South Kona/Ka‘u. Chung and David often touched the brakes on measures they thought could be over-reaching, and neither was afraid to vote against the majority.
Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, who was reelected to her final term, often found herself on the same side of close votes with Richards, Chung and David.
“I might not be as old as them but I’ve been around the council just as long and I think that’s where we align policy-wise,” Lee Loy said, recounting her work as a council staffer back in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Even the committee names have evolved to reflect the council’s more progressive leanings. What was the committee on Agriculture, Water, Energy and Environmental Management prior to 2020, for example, two years ago had the adjective,” Regenerative” tacked to the front, and this coming year, becomes “Policy Committee on Climate Resilience and Regenerative Agriculture.”
Kimball said the council committees have been divided into policy committees and functional committees to make the process more transparent by helping constituents piece though the bills on the agendas. The policy committees will tackle changes to the county code, wile other committees, such as the Finance Committee, are more functional in nature, she said.
Kimball sees her role of chairwoman as a “service position,” providing the rest of the council with the tools they need to do their best work for their constituents.
“I’m very excited about the upcoming term with a great group of people,” she said. “I think the community of Hawaii County is going to be very well served over the next term.”
Council inauguration, followed by an organizational session, is set for Monday in Hilo. Inauguration ceremonies will be held at noon at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. The doors will open at 11:30 with music and hula.
The organizational session follows at 3 p.m. in County Council chambers. Earlier in the day Monday, the outgoing council meets at 9 a.m. for a sine die session honoring the three departing council members. All sessions are open to the public.
More than 60 progressive groups wrote to two top Senate Democrats on Tuesday urging them to investigate ethical concerns about Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito following a exact report that he shared the outcome of a looming 2014 case involving the Hobby Lobby with a conservative activist.
The letter, which was obtained first by The Hill, is led by groups like Demand Justice, the Center for American Progress, End Citizens United and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The organizations are calling on Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who leads the subcommittee on federal courts, oversight, agency action and federal rights, to investigate the reports surrounding Alito’s conduct.
“Justice Alito’s alleged leak of the outcome of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby calls for a thorough investigation and, if true, constitutes a shocking betrayal of the Court’s confidences that deserves immediate accountability,” the letter states.
The New York Times reported earlier this month that Rev. Rob Schenck, who at the time led the group Faith and Action, said he learned of the outcome of the Hobby Lobby case weeks before it was made public. Alito wrote the majority opinion in that case, which ruled that some companies with religious objections were exempt from requirements that they offer contraceptives as part of health care plans.
The Times reported that Schenck said the information about the case came from a donor to his organization, Gail Wright, who had dined with Alito and his wife and was part of broader outreach efforts to the justices. Wright denied obtaining or sharing any information.
Schenck has told other media outlets that he was part of an effort to build relationships with conservative justices.
Durbin said in the wake of the Times report that his committee would review the matter, but Tuesday’s letter calls on him to launch a full investigation.&nbsp;
The progressive groups behind the letter raised concerns that if justices skirt accountability, they could be unduly influenced by similar pressure campaigns from activist organizations. Their concerns are amplified by the June ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, which came weeks after a draft of the majority opinion had leaked to the public.
“It is a disservice to the American people that the justices of our highest Court are not bound by a code of ethics, unlike every other federal judge in the country,” the letter states. “This lack of accountability undoubtedly contributes to the Supreme Court’s historically low approval ratings and to the American public’s declining faith in the institution.”
The letter called for testimony from Schenck as part of any investigation.
“If the Court refuses to do it themselves, then Congress must step in to quickly consider and pass meaningful legislation to bring accountability and transparency to a Court that has evaded it for far too long,” the groups wrote.
A Gallup poll released in late September found 47 percent of U.S. adults said they have a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of trust in the judicial branch, its lowest point ever recorded by the poll. The same poll found 42 percent of respondents said the Supreme Court is too conservative, the highest mark ever for the Gallup survey.
The Legalise Cannabis party is leading a group of minor progressive parties in the running to enter Victoria’s upper house, vowing to bring drug reform to the next parliament if it claims the two seats it is hoping to secure.
Vote counting for the Legislative Council will take weeks to finalise, but early numbers suggest a bloc of left-wing candidates and parties could hold the balance of power.
The Greens were on Monday expecting to win four seats, the Animal Justice party may secure one and the Reason party leader, Fiona Patten, is in a tight race with former Labor powerbroker Adem Somyurek.
Labor could secure 15 seats, while the Coalition was looking at 14, with between 20% and 30% of votes counted in each region.
Election analyst Ben Raue said Legalise Cannabis is now the highest-polling party after Labor, the Greens and the Coalition.
Raue said that, on average, the party has picked up about 4.8% of the primary vote.
Legalise Cannabis chair, Craig Ellis, said he was “quietly optimistic”, although was cautious to suggest they would claim seats in the Southeastern and Western Metropolitan regions.
“I’m not counting my eggs, we are very cautious,” Ellis said. “The most important thing to say is there are still lots of votes to be counted. On the surface we are very pleased with the level of support we’ve received.”
Ellis said the strong primary vote in regional Victoria was driven by their policy to abolish roadside drug testing for cannabis.
“It’s a tool of prohibition rather than road safety,” he said.
If elected, the party would focus on legalising cannabis, changing the law to allow people to grow their own plants and would also support reform to abolish the controversial group voting ticket system in the upper house.
Raue said the primary vote was so large for Legalise Cannabis was partly due to ballot placement.
“They did get relatively good ballot draws, that did help a little,” Raue said. “But really they’re an attractive name, it’s a popular issue. I think that’s about it.”
Raue also said the “discipline” of the left bloc had meant preference whisperer Glenn Druery’s group had taken a hit – with swings against Derryn Hinch’s Justice party and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers.
“Because the left bloc is disciplined, they preference each other and then Labor and the Greens – outside of that it’s hard to get preferences,” he said.
Druery defended the early results, saying while he had not done as well as 2018 – when he helped elect eight MPs – his preference deals looked likely to deliver up to five seats. This includes one that may go to the Animal Justice party, which managed to receive preferences from his bloc without reciprocation.
“At this point, my efforts have elected the Animal Justice party and the Shooters and Fishers. This is on current numbers,” he said. “That’s a nice little yin and yang right there.”
He said the Democratic Labour party could also pick up a seat in the Northeast Metropolitan region, and Somyurek may beat Patten for a spot.
Animal Justice party candidate Georgie Purcell said although she was quietly optimistic about winning a seat, early analysis suggested she could have done just as well without Druery’s preferences.
“I encouraged the party to preference other progressive parties, and that’s what they’ve done, I’m benefiting from those parties’ preference flows,” she said.
“It was still winnable without the flow from the [Druery bloc].”
In a statement, Patten said preference deals could help her retain her seat.
“On current numbers, I have a slight edge to retain the seat off a strong flow of preferences from the progressive parties,” Patten said.
“It will likely come down to below-the-line votes, which I’m glad to say is strong in northern metro, and likely to favour us.
“While we are in a good position now there are many more votes still to be counted and the numbers could change.”
Controversial Liberal candidate Moira Deeming will enter the upper house, after her preselection was met with criticism within her party largely due to her conservative views on abortion and transgender rights and her criticism of Victorian government’s Safe Schools program.
She joins fellow Liberal Renee Heath, who outgoing leader Matthew Guy said would be excluded from the party room after claims were made that she was a lifelong member of the City Builders church, and that it had been directed by its global leader to infiltrate the Coalition. The church, which is led by Heath’s parents, is opposed to gay, transgender and reproductive rights. Heath has denied having the same views as her parents.