TALLAHASSEE, Fla.: Vote stealers are at it again

The infamous Florida Board of Elections, now an agency under control of President Bush’s brother Jeb, Florida’s governor, ordered 40,000 potential voters purged from the registration rolls, May 6. The reason, says Jenny Nash, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Glenda Hood who administers elections, is that it is mandatory under state law. Unlike many states, Florida disenfranchises people who have served time in jail.

On the eve of the 2000 election, where Bush “won” Florida, then-Secretary of State Kathleen Harris presided over the often arbitrary purging of 173,000 voters from the rolls, many of them in predominantly Democratic and African American counties.

SOUTH LIVINGSTON, Texas: State to execute mentally ill man

Letters, e-mails and faxes from around Texas, the country and the world are pouring into Gov. Rick Perry’s office demanding a halt to the execution of Kelsey Patterson scheduled for May 17. Patterson is so disabled he does not know he is about to be killed.

Patterson was convicted in 1992 for the murders of Louis Oates and Dorothy Harris.

In 1981, Patterson was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and since then has been bounced around the Texas mental health system. Fifth Circuit Court Judge Fortunato Benavides blames the tragedy firmly on the state’s mental health system and cuts by the Legislature, which resulted in Patterson being placed back onto the streets. In fact, just two days before the murders, Patterson’s brother tried to have him committed to a state mental hospital.

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and other groups are pressuring the governor to stay the execution. For more information, visit www.ncadp.org.

DAYTON, Tenn.: First ‘Gay Day’ celebration

“If you can do it in Dayton, you can do it everywhere,” said a smiling Bob Kunst, 61, as he set up his stand selling anti-Bush bumper stickers and buttons. There is a history in this town of 6,800. In the 1920s it was the site of the famous Scopes Trial, challenging a law outlawing the teaching of evolution in the public schools.

Nearly 80 years later, over 400 rallied, May 8, fighting for tolerance and safety for gays and lesbians in Rhea County. “This is the buckle of the Bible Belt,” said Kunst.

In March 2004, the eight county commissioners voted unanimously to outlaw homosexuality. A public firestorm broke out and two days later they reversed their decision.

“I thought we were fighting for freedom,” said Gulf War II veteran Chris Cruz, who is gay, “but people are still being suppressed.”

Ilaeka Villa is circulating a petition calling for an apology from the commissioners and their resignation. She has garnered 175 signatures in two weeks. “It’s not a large number,” she said, “but in a county where people are really fearful about putting their name in print, I am really heartened.”

PITTSBURGH: Steel city a civil liberties zone

Pressure came from the cops and from U.S. District Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, but the City Council voted 9-0, April 26, to oppose provisions of the Bush administration’s Patriot Act and a variety of executive orders. The unanimous vote resulted from a year-long lobbying effort.

Pittsburgh joins 310 states, counties and municipalities, representing over 51 million people, which have protested the assault on civil liberties.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind.: Steelworkers may strike to save jobs

Steel corporations are making profits, and tariffs and the price hike has sweetened their take. Steelworkers at Ispat Inland here believe that since they all made all the sacrifices to keep the industry rolling, they have earned job security and a host of other improvements in the standard of living for their families. The contract between the union and the company expires in July.

In a statement released May 3, local union officers from the three USWA locals at Ispat Inland outlined steelworker’s demands, with health care and job security ranking high on the agenda. Union officers said that they will make every effort to reach an agreement with Ispat Inland, but if the company adopts a “take it or leave it” attitude, steelworkers might consider striking to achieve their just due.

WASHINGTON: Moms march to ban assault guns

While families across the country celebrated Mother’s Day, originally a day calling for peace in the world, an estimated 2,500 moms prayed, rallied and marched on the Capitol to control gun violence in the United States.

This year’s march (the first was held four years ago) demanded a ban on assault weapons, a background check and five-day waiting period to purchase firearms. Marchers also called for companies to be held legally liable for mayhem committed with their products. Guns have been involved in the deaths of 120,000 people, 13,000 of them children or teens, in the last four years.

National Clips are compiled by
Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com).
Julia Lutsky contributed to this week’s clips.