Gov. Jay Inslee fires first head of equity office: Inslee says he fired Dr. Karen Johnson from the Office of Equity for high staff turnover and budget concerns. She says the choice to resign or be fired was a surprise, that these issues were never brought to her attention, and that she was pushed out for just doing her job at the newly created office. Johnson says the office announced a plan last week to hold state agencies publicly accountable for not prioritizing equity. The Governor’s office says her firing has no connection to that plan. She told the Seattle Times she didn’t know if she’ll pursue a lawsuit.
Gov. Inslee's office says the Office of Equity director was fired for how she handled the office. She says it's because she shook things up. https://t.co/dst8BGG2su #waleg— Drew Mikkelsen🥯 (@drewmikkelsenk5) May 23, 2023
Target removes some Pride merch after violence against workers: The company is removing some LGBTQ-themed items and clothes from its stores after homophobic and transphobic customers had “violent confrontations” with staff. Target declined to say exactly what they got rid of, but “tuck friendly” swimwear inclusive of trans women generated hysteria online, with conservative commentators such as Matt Walsh spreading misinformation to whip up a fervor, just like Dylan Mulvaney and Bud Light. Designs by London-based Abprallen, which sells ironic satanic-themed LGBTQ clothing and accessories, also received backlash in a throwback to another moral panic. A record number of anti-trans laws passed all over the country this year.
.@Target claims that they are removing Pride merchandise from their stores to protect the security of their employees.— Michael Edison Hayden (@MichaelEHayden) May 24, 2023
The message that anti-LGBTQ+ bigots and fascists will receive from this is that making violent threats works.
They will get worse.
Seattle protects trees with a new ordinance: Trees greater than 24 inches in diameter are now protected, and any tree more than a foot wide must be replaced by another or trees that will grow to replace the lost canopy. The old rules allowed residential property owners to remove three trees under 30 inches wide every year. About 17,700 trees are protected under current code. The new ordinance will cover an estimated 88,100 to 175,000 trees. Council Member Alex Pedersen was the sole no vote. In the past, he called it a “death sentence” for hundreds of Seattle trees, according to the Seattle Times, and motioned to postpone the vote until June.
Shh: Portland’s Mt. Tabor Park has been designated the first “Urban Quiet Park” in the country and the ninth in the world by Quiet Parks International (they would know). The iconic city park spans 176 acres and is home to more than 50 types of trees and 143 species of birds. Quiet Parks International estimates 97% of Americans hear highway and airplane noise, and that can stress our little brains. A truly quiet place is a treasure.
The Carmen Sandeigo of tuberculosis still faces arrest: A judge extended a civil arrest warrant for a Tacoma woman who has refused TB treatment for more than a year, Pierce County public health officials say. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has gone to court over this case more than a dozen times, and a judge issued the arrest as a “last possible resort” back in February. She still hasn’t been taken into custody. The department believes she is likely still infected. If arrested, she would be quarantined until medical tests concluded she “no longer presents a threat to public health,” officials say.
Florida sued for wildly racist, xenophobic policy: A group of Chinese nationals living and working in Florida are suing the state over a new law that bans them from purchasing land within 10 miles of military installations and “critical industry” such as agriculture, airports, seaports, water, and wastewater treatment plans. This transforms enormous swaths of Florida into de facto “Chinese exclusion zones,” says the ACLU. Those on the list who already own this property could face daily fines or seizure if they don’t register with the state.
This law also applies to Cuban, Venezuelan, Syrian, Iranian, Russian, and North Korean citizens. But it imposes the harshest penalties—a potential felony—on Chinese citizens. The ACLU argues Florida is in effect equating the actions of China’s government to its citizens, which likely violates the Fair Housing Act and the Constitution Republicans claim to like.
Speaking of Florida: The state's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, plans to launch his presidential campaign on Twitter alongside Elon Musk, according to CNN. After buying the bird app and driving it into the ground, it looks like the billionaire wants to buy a president and drive the country into the ground. Cute.
Eds Note: I've watched this a thousand times already. "Wow, crowded, huh?" Incredible.
Maybe the worse retail politician ever. Just brutal to watch pic.twitter.com/uNOMRWkuJh— Keith Edwards (@keithedwards) May 21, 2023
New details of Catholic sex abuse in Illinois: At the start of an Illinois Attorney General investigation five years ago, Cardinal Blase Cupich claimed the Catholic church had nothing to hide. A new 696-page report discovered evidence that 451 Catholic clergy abused at least 1,997 children in Illinois. Before this investigation, the church only acknowledged 103 substantiated child sex abusers. When asked if church officials lied in not revealing the extent of abuse, Illinois AG Kwame Raoul said, “I think the numbers sort of speak for themselves.”
Catholic clerics and brothers in Illinois disclosed by the church as substantiated child sex abusers: 103— Dan Mihalopoulos (@dmihalopoulos) May 24, 2023
Real number: 451
Kids abused by them: “At least 1,997” https://t.co/Pl5gW87yyq
A harsh abortion bill in South Carolina: Gov. Henry McMaster is poised to sign the six-week ban into law, which would make abortion illegal before many know they are pregnant. Republican senators quashed an attempt to keep the procedure open through the first trimester. The Senate’s three Republican women opposed the ban. With their help, Democrats successfully defeated a near total ban on the medical procedure. Planned Parenthood is planning to sue, and the organization successfully got a similar ban thrown out in the state Supreme Court this year.
Adam Driver will be at the Indy 500: But he won’t be drive-ing. The famous Hoosier (midwestern for “from Indiana”) will wave the race’s green starting flag on May 28. Driver grew up in Mishawaka, near South Bend, and attended the University of Indianapolis before transferring to Juilliard in New York.
Papa Salmonella: An outbreak linked to raw cookie dough sold at Papa Murphy's made at least six people sick in Washington. Idaho and Oregon each reported four cases of salmonella. The dough was distributed through the restaurant’s Take ‘N’ Bake service, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Papa Murphy’s has temporarily stopped selling its chocolate chip cookie dough and raw s’mores bars. The CDC says the true number of sick people is likely higher than reported.
A record year for challenging school books, thanks to 11 people: A really good Washington Post analysis found the majority of complaints came from a “minuscule group of hyperactive adults” smaller than the attendance sheet at the Last Supper. The most common reasons for the challenges were for "sexual content" and to prevent children from reading about LGBTQ people.