‘Willfully Choosing Not to Listen to Scientists’: DNC Chair Tom Perez Under Fire for Urging States to Hold Primaries Despite Coronavirus Crisis
“That Tom Perez is encouraging this, and threatening states who postpone in-person voting, is criminal.”
By Jake Johnson
Ignoring urgent pleas from medical professionals and other health experts to postpone primary elections amid the coronavirus outbreak, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez late Tuesday encouraged states to go ahead with their scheduled contests, claiming “we can in fact have voting and protect our workers, our voters, our candidates.”
“I think it’s a false choice to suggest we either have to protect safety or protect and ensure our democracy,” Perez said in an interview with NPR late Tuesday as voters in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois went to the polls despite widespread calls for a delay. Former Vice President Joe Biden swept all three states.
“Deeply disappointed that the DNC is willfully choosing not to listen to scientists during one of the most critical moments in recent history.”
—Dr. Lucky Tran
“What you saw in Arizona today, and in Florida, was in Arizona more people voted early than voted in the entirety of the Democratic primary in 2016,” Perez said.
In a statement earlier Tuesday, Perez critized Ohio’s widely praised decision to delay its presidential primary, asserting that it “only bred more chaos and confusion.”
Critics argued that Perez’s position runs counter to the recommendations of scientists—as well as the federal government—and could put countless lives at risk.
“Deeply disappointed that the DNC is willfully choosing not to listen to scientists during one of the most critical moments in recent history,” tweeted biologist Dr. Lucky Tran.
Pointing to a video of an elderly Illinois resident voicing alarm Tuesday about conditions at her polling site—where she said hundreds of people, including vulnerable seniors, were gathered in a room for hours at a time—The Intercept‘s Ryan Grim ripped Perez for permitting such a potentially disastrous situation.
“That Tom Perez is encouraging this, and threatening states who postpone in-person voting, is criminal,” Grim tweeted, referring to a DNC memo sent last Wednesday warning that states could face a “delegate penalty” if they push back their scheduled elections.
“It’s not out of the question that when this is over there could be demands for prosecutions of those who knowingly did this,” Grim said.
Puerto Rico is set to hold its Democratic presidential primary on March 29, followed by contests on April 4 in Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming.
That @TomPerez is encouraging this, and threatening states who postpone in-person voting, is criminal. It’s not out of the question that when this is over there could be demands for prosecutions of those who knowingly did this. https://t.co/4DpOygKtXE
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) March 17, 2020
Ahead of Tuesday’s primaries, more than 1,600 people—including at least 100 medical professionals—signed an open letter demanding that the DNC and secretaries of state to delay primary contests until at least May, a move that would allow states to implement alternatives to in-person voting if needed.
“By postponing primaries, state governments will be able to keep resources focused, and they will not need to worry about the distraction of running primaries while responding to this pandemic,” the letter reads. “This will also give time for the states to implement alternative voting mechanisms, such as vote-by-mail, at a sufficient scale if the pandemic continues to be an emergency for these states.”
“As people are understandably avoiding public places and crowds, we expect turnout to be depressed. Rescheduling the primaries would ensure that more people are allowed to exercise their right to vote without fear,” the letter continues. “For the health of our fellow citizens and our democracy, please act now to postpone the upcoming March primaries until May.”
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‘They Are Saving Our Lives’: Demand Grows for Grocery Store Employees, Other Frontline Workers to Receive Hazard Pay Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
“Crewmembers are terrified, knowing their job is putting them on the frontlines of a global pandemic.”
Grocery stores and other U.S. businesses remaining open amid the coronavirus pandemic are facing pressure from unions and activists to provide hazard pay for employees whose jobs involve tasks that put them at direct risk of exposure to the infectious disease.
“Trader Joe’s needs to provide workers hazard pay starting right now,” tweeted Trader Joe’s Union, an account formed by a group of workers pushing for the store’s employees to unionize. “Crewmembers are terrified, knowing their job is putting them on the frontlines of a global pandemic. It is not enough to receive [paid time off] only after being proven sick.”
“We have been hearing from workers across the country interested in unionizing,” the group added, “but we’ve also been hearing from workers who feel forced to work until they get sick, who don’t have the means to find safety or security in calling out, and who are terrified at what’s to come.”
Trader Joe’s (and all grocery store employees) are first responders. They are saving our lives by making sure we can eat during a terrifying crisis.
Take two seconds to email https://t.co/m1XqohI28x and ask that they get hazard pay NOW. The store is making bank. They can do it https://t.co/ZueFwj3JWT
— Dani Fernandez (@msdanifernandez) March 16, 2020
A video posted by chef José Andrés of supermarket employees stocking shelves in the early hours of the morning Monday sparked an outpouring of gratitude for the essential role grocery store workers are playing in providing Americans with food and other necessities during the outbreak.
Supermarket jobs are overwhelmingly low-wage and often don’t come with decent benefit packages—or the luxury of working from home until the COVID-19 outbreak subsides.
“They deserve hazard pay and paid sick leave,” said one Twitter user. “They should also get some [paid time off] once this crisis passes.”
Andrés, founder of a non-profit devoted to providing meals following natural disasters, amplified that demand:
Late at night 2:00 and is amazing how on every supermarket, farmers markets Etc women and men like them will work non stop to replenish every shelve. Next to the Medical staff across the world, people like them are and will be heroes to keep humanity fed! Thank them! #CoronaVirus pic.twitter.com/6J006BbPpU
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) March 16, 2020
Unions are also demanding hazard pay for public-sector workers facing possible on-the-job exposure to COVID-19, which has infected at least 3,600 people and killed 66 in the United States.
“The federal government has hundreds of thousands of workers who come in daily contact with the public—workplace inspectors, mail carriers, hospital workers, park rangers, passport processors, Social Security representatives, museum workers,” the Washington Post reported Saturday.
In written testimony to Congress last Wednesday, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) demanded that government employees facing possible exposure to the novel coronavirus receive adequate protections and hazard pay.
Government Executive reported last week that three Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers in San Jose, California tested positive for COVID-19 and “a couple dozen employees deemed to have had contact with those workers are home on self-quarantine.”
TSA workers are not currently eligible for hazard pay, despite their jobs requiring daily interactions with hundreds of travelers.
“We do everything we can to protect passengers, but who is protecting us?” Hydrick Thomas, president of AFGE’s TSA Council, asked in a statement last Thursday.licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Attn: Bands and Musical Artists – Get Your Music On Activate Radio!
By Patrick Wilson
Activate Radio plays music that is licensed Creative Commons and submitted music from indie artists in many genres. We are working to build an extensive library of music to share with the world. With the changes brought by the napsters and clearchannels of the world, and the narrowing of formats in terrestrial radio to christian, country and righty talk, it’s harder for fresh music to see the light of day than it was even ten years ago.
In Boston, the closing of music venues and radio stations has undoubtedly made it a little harder for artists to promote themselves and get exposure beyond playing facebook’s advertising slot machine. There is a benefit in having multiple platforms in different mediums, even with duplicity within a market. There is a larger benefit to tying together multiple markets with the same message on multiple mediums.
The corporations own commercial media, but it is stifled by a business model that is too costly. Technology changes things. It allows the diverse and missing voices to be heard. Our society is capable of organizing activists throughout the world, why can’t it do the same for artists? Ultimately success has always been contingent on the work that you put in. Activate Media will not make you a star! Only you can do that. However, Activate Media will not charge you to play your music. We do not subscribe to pay to play philosophies. Activate Media is an all-volunteer organization.
If you would like to submit your music, you can send an email giving permission for Activate Media to play your music without penalty of licensing along with an attached mp3 of the song that you would like us to play. The music must be completely owned by you and original, we do not consider cover songs. We do not choose all music that is submitted and we do give preference to artists from the region. If you would like to submit your music, please send it to activatesubmissions@g mail. c o m.