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At Houston campaign events, Moser says national Democratic opposition is helping her congressional

At Houston campaign events, Moser says national Democratic opposition is helping her congressional bid

by Rishika Dugyala, Texas Tribune

HOUSTON — Democratic congressional candidate Laura Moser packed her Saturday with campaign events: spinning in the morning, drinking mimosas shortly after, block walking in the afternoon and hosting a “Vote Your Values” rally to finish things off. And at each stop, she did not shy away from the elephant in the room.

Raising her voice to be heard above cheers and applause from her supporters, Moser announced that since national Democrats came out against her on Thursday, she raised more than $60,000 — as well as received flowers and eight free meals.

“I would rather not have been attacked by my own party and have not had the money, any day,” she said. “But I'm glad to see that people are tired of politics as usual. People are tired of bringing down a candidate who has run a totally positive campaign. And there are more of us than there are of them.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee posted negative research on Moser, a Houston journalist who is one of seven Democrats in the March 6 primary hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston.

Read more: https://www.texastribune.org/2018/02/24/laura-moser-says-democrats-opposition-helping-her-houston-congressiona/

Mass Regional Transit Authorities Face Major Budget Crisis

Fast-forward to this week, and that memory immediately sprang to mind when I read the transportation section of Gov. Charlie Baker’s annual state budget proposal. And discovered that he’s planning to level-fund the 15 regional transit authorities (RTAs) for $80.4 million, according to the Mass Budget and Policy Center, while most Bostonians are focusing on the ongoing fight to keep the MBTA solvent. Authorities like the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority… which is already cutting back bus, van, and Boston commuter service and eliminating that Sunday service I kept missing in the early ’90s. Since level-funding means a budget cut, given annual cost increases. And it’s not looking like the legislature is likely to swoop in to save the RTAs later in our now-normalized austerity budget process.

After all, if the legions of working- and middle-class Bostonians that rely on public transit can’t yet force elected state officials to properly fund the MBTA, the smaller numbers of riders in outlying cities like Brockton, Fitchburg, Lowell, and Lawrence are in even worse straits. Especially when many of them are immigrants who can’t vote.

Yet the need for public transit gets more dire the farther you get from Boston. If you don’t have a car in places like Athol, Greenfield, Holyoke, and Pittsfield, literally your only inexpensive transit option is bus service run by your regional transit authority. Which I’ve already made quite clear is of limited usefulness at the best of times. RTAs don’t go everywhere riders need to go and don’t run many of the times riders need to use them. As I experienced during my brief, unpleasant Lawrence sojourn.

People without cars in the many parts of the state that aren’t reached by the MBTA’s main bus and subway lines are already at a major disadvantage in terms of their ability to access jobs, laundry, shopping, education, social services, daycare, and healthcare in the best of times. If RTA service continues to be whittled away year by year, eventually there will be no public transportation left in many locales. And taking an Uber or Lyft won’t be an option for people that can’t even afford a hike in bus fare. Even while those private transportation services are angling to replace public transit for those that can pay their largely unregulated fares.

Read more: https://digboston.com/townie-mass-regional-transit-authorities-face-major-budget-crisis/

Castleton University announces layoffs, staff cuts, fewer majors

CASTLETON – Officials at Castleton University announced Friday the school will reduce its staff through layoffs, elimination of positions and early retirements based on an expected operating loss of $1.5 million for the current year.

CU President Karen Scolforo said Friday afternoon the exact number of cuts among the roughly 400 employees hadn’t been determined, but said most staff should know the situation by the middle of May.

“We are expecting to take the semester to make that decision. … Our priority is to remain focused on the student learning experience so our department heads and faculty will be assessing department needs and coming up with those decisions by the end of the semester,” Scolforo said.

Scolforo said recommendations are expected by April 15 with a goal that administrators would be able to make their final decisions by May 15.

Read more: https://www.rutlandherald.com/articles/castleton-university-announces-layoffs-and-staff-cuts/

UVM students shut down Main Street in Burlington

Students holding Black Lives Matter signs blocked traffic during rush hour on the main artery into Burlington Thursday evening.

They stood on the crosswalk at the Davis Center, which is not far from the I-89 exits and serves as the primary roadway into the city. Traffic quickly backed up.

The students called for an end to racism on the University of Vermont campus and demanded that Tom Sullivan, the president of the college, meet with them.

Leaders of the group, No Names for Justice, said Sullivan had not addressed a list of 10 demands students made last fall to curb racism on campus.

Read more: https://vtdigger.org/2018/02/23/uvm-students-shut-main-street-burlington/

State close to deal on Vermont Yankee sale; critics support uncertain

Closed-door settlement negotiations regarding the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee are expected to wrap up within a week.

A memorandum of understanding involving state officials, current plant owner Entergy and prospective owner NorthStar Group Services is scheduled to be filed with the Vermont Public Utility Commission by March 2, officials said Friday.

That document could represent a breakthrough in the protracted debate over whether NorthStar should be allowed to buy and decommission the idled Vernon nuclear plant.

But it’s not yet clear how much support the deal will have among those who have criticized NorthStar’s plans. Two of those organizations — Conservation Law Foundation and New England Coalition — told the commission Friday that they are not yet on board.

Read more: https://vtdigger.org/2018/02/23/state-close-deal-vermont-yankee-sale-critics-support-uncertain/

Coventry senator resigns days after being charged with extorting sex from Senate page, video voyeur-

Coventry senator resigns days after being charged with extorting sex from Senate page, video voyeurism

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Once the youngest senator in Rhode Island Senate history, Nicholas D. Kettle resigned Thursday in the face of extortion charges and an unprecedented effort by fellow senators to expel him.

The 27-year-old Coventry Republican tendered his resignation, effective immediately, in a letter delivered to Senate leaders that professed his innocence and slammed the bipartisan effort launched a day earlier to banish him from the legislature.

By 3 p.m., Kettle’s personal belongings had been wheeled from his State House office, his name scraped from the door and his biography erased from the General Assembly website.

“After taking several days to speak with my legal counsel and family members, I have determined that it is in my best interest to resign and concentrate on the unfounded allegations against me,” Kettle wrote in the statement. “I am grateful for the many individuals who have continued to support me during these difficult times as it is clear that they understand that I am innocent until proven guilty.

Read more: http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20180222/facing-threat-of-expulsion-sen-kettle-quits

New Hampshire lawmakers pass bill to annul pot possession arrests

CONCORD — People convicted for possessing small amounts of marijuana will be able to have their criminal records annulled if a bill passed by the House on Thursday clears the Senate and is signed into law by the governor.

In the most lopsided roll-call vote of Thursday’s session, the House voted 314-24 to pass HB 1477, which allows for the annulment of charges related to possession of three-quarters of an ounce or less.

A new state law decriminalizing possession of that amount of marijuana took effect on Sept. 16, 2017. Any arrests prior to that date would be eligible for annulment under the bill, which also has bipartisan sponsorship in the Senate.

“Among the reasons the legislature voted last year to remove the criminal penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana and make possession a civil penalty was the long-term, negative impact a criminal record has on individuals and their families, including loss of housing, loss of employment, denial of student loans and other barriers to social wellbeing,” according to Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton.

Read more: http://www.unionleader.com/state-government/new-hampshire-lawmakers-pass-bill-to-annul-pot-possession-arrests-20180223

Influence of Confucius Institutes on U.S. college campuses has some concerned

Amid all the focus on Russian meddling in the U.S. electoral process, some officials are warning about influence by a different world power: China.

And one target of their concern is the proliferation of Confucius Institutes on more than 100 American college campuses - including the University of New Hampshire.

The institutes, which teach Chinese language, history and culture, are funded by China's ministry of education.

In a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told FBI Director Christopher Wray he believes that Confucius Institutes are "complicit" in Chinese government efforts "to covertly influence public opinion and to teach half-truths designed to present Chinese history, government or official policy in the most favorable light."

Wray replied that the FBI shares the concern and has been "watching that development for a while."

Read more: http://www.unionleader.com/Influence-of-Confucius-Institutes-on-U.S.-college-campuses-has-some-concerned

New Hampshire Lawmakers Decry Hampton Beach Lawsuit Against State

Lawmakers in New Hampshire are questioning the merits of a lawsuit over shared costs at Hampton Beach, saying the state has done a lot to give money to the town of Hampton.

Republican State Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley says he sympathizes with Hampton's call for aid for emergency services, but argues the state has paid a fair share through capital expenditure projects. The Portsmouth Herald reports the lawsuit filed Feb. 14 asks a judge to determine if the state of New Hampshire is taking on its share of responsibilities outlined in a 1933 deed.

Hampton state Rep. Renny Cushing, a Democrat, says very few people in the Legislature support Hampton's lawsuit.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Lisa English says the state received the lawsuit and is drafting a response.


New Hampshire House Says "No" to Bill That Would Allow Guns on State College Campuses

The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted down a bill today, HB1542, which would allow revolvers and pistols on state college campuses.

The vote comes just weeks after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida left 17 students dead.

Dozens of mothers and supporters of the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America showed up to protest the proposed legislation.

Rebecca Harrison, Seacost-resident and mom to two college students, says she came out because she was inspired by the actions of survivors from the recent Parkland, Florida school shooting.

Read more: http://nhpr.org/post/nh-house-says-no-bill-would-allow-guns-state-college-campuses
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