Trays of tacos delivered to Mayor Maturo (Photo via New Haven Independent)
Latinos in East Haven, Connecticut delivered hundreds of tacos to the town’s mayor Thursday, just two days after he made a flippant, derogatory comment about them while discussing alleged police discrimination and violence in his community.
In the wake of those allegations, Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. was asked what he would do to reach out to the Latino community. “I might have tacos when I go home, I’m not quite sure yet,” Maturo said. The comment drew strong rebukes from area Latinos, and one group responded with a campaign to respond, as CNN reported today:
That set off the activist group, a local branch of the Reform Immigration for America organization, which said that anytime someone texts the word “taco” to 69866, it will deliver a taco to the mayor on their behalf.
They’ve received more than 2,600 texts, the group said in a statement Thursday.
Maturo twice apologized for the comments, saying his words were largely a product of stress.
Still, some 500 tacos were placed inside his office; the rest are already being rerouted to local food-assistance outlets.
The 500 tacos that were placed in Maturo’s office were eventually donated to a food-assistance charity, but even that drew controversy. Maturo issued a statement after the drop-off saying his office donated the tacos to charity. The group that delivered the tacos to his office, Reforming Immigration for America, then took to Twitter, saying Maturo’s claim was false.
“Now, Mayor Maturo claims they’re donating tacos to the soup kitchen. WE did that, he left knowing we were on our way,” the group posted on its Twitter account. Another post called the mayor’s statement “false and misleading.”
Given this President’s blatant and egregious disregard both for proper constitutional procedures and the Senate’s unquestioned role in such appointments, I find myself duty-bound to resist the consideration and approval of additional nominations until the President takes steps to remedy the situation. Regardless of the precise course I choose to pursue, the President certainly will not continue to enjoy my nearly complete cooperation, unless and until he rescinds his unconstitutional recess appointments.
At the outset, it’s important to note that there is no one in America who has less stature to claim that someone else shows “blatant and egregious disregard” for the Constitution than Mike Lee. Lee believes that federal child labor laws, FEMA, food stamps, the FDA, Medicaid, income assistance for the poor, and even Medicare and Social Security violate the Constitution. Taking Mike Lee’s advice on constitutional law is a bit like taking John “Bluto” Blutarsky’s advice on American military history.
Moreover, Lee’s suggestion that he has shown “nearly complete cooperation” in the past is laughably false. Lee openly admits that he filibustered Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray’s nomination because he wanted to sabotage that consumer protection agency, and he filibustered an exceptional nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit because she had the audacity to do her job properly when she was Solicitor General of New York.
Fortunately, the Lee/Grassley plan for scorched earth retaliation does not seem to be resonating with much of the Senate GOP. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) recently said that he “would be surprised if you see mass reprisals,” and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) — who has his own history of aggressive obstructionism — waived off Lee and Grassley’s angry tactic because he doesn’t think it will be a “particularly effective strategy.”
Last August, ThinkProgress highlighted a Texas Watch report showing that the Texas Supreme Court “sided with consumers in 27 percent of cases involving an individual against a corporation or government agency — and it reversed jury verdicts in 72 percent of cases.” A new report by that same organization shows that the court’s favoritism towards corporations is now even worse:
Over the course of the decade, we have reviewed 624 consumer cases, carefully categorizing and compiling win-loss rates, with the scope of these consumer cases encompassing instances where individuals, patients, policyholders, and small business owners were pitted against corporate or governmental entities. . . . On average, defendants have won an overwhelming 74% of their cases and plaintiffs have won just 22% of the time over the last decade. Furthermore, since 2005, consumers have lost an astonishing 79% of their cases before the Texas Supreme Court.
The report also notes that a major factor driving this trend is Gov. Rick Perry (R), whose appointees to the court consistently sided with corporations over people. Indeed, the “win rate” for corporate and other defendants skyrocketed shortly after Perry took over as governor:
By Alex Seitz-Wald and Scott Keyes on Jan 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm
MIAMI, Florida — Speaking at the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network conference here today, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) warned his fellow conservatives against using rhetoric towards immigrants that is “harsh and intolerable and inexcusable“:
“We must admit that there are those among us that have used rhetoric that is harsh and intolerable and inexcusable,” Rubio said. “And we must admit — myself included — that sometimes we’ve been too slow to condemn that language for what it is.”
While Rubio, who is of Cuban descent, did not mention them by name, his words could have been intended for GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney who spoke immediately after him at the conference. Both have taken immigration policies well to the right of President Bush, with Romney going even further than Gingrich in saying that he would veto the DREAM Act.
Rubio is a rising star in the GOP and extraordinarily popular among the Hispanic conservatives at the conference, and his words received a very warm reception here. His comments came after he was interrupted by two undocumented students who confronted him for not supporting the DREAM Act.
Last night during the CNN GOP debate in Florida, even Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who has attempted to strike a compassionate tone on immigration during the primaries, agreed that, of the GOP presidential contenders, Romney is anti-immigrant:
BLITZER: I just want to make sure I understand. Is he [Romney] still the most anti-immigrant candidate?
Of course Romney disagrees with the characterization since he also has tried to frame himself as a pro-legal immigration candidate and touts out his father’s birth in Mexico (even though his father never had Mexican citizenship). Earlier in the week, his campaign pressured the Gingrich camp to take down a Spanish campaign ad that called Romney “anti-immigrant.” Gingrich’s campaign removed the ad after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the language used was “inaccurate, inflammatory and doesn’t belong in the campaign.”
But Gingrich had it right during the debate when he told moderator Wolf Blitzer that yes, Romney was anti-immigrant, no matter how many times Romney may say it’s inexcusable.
By Alex Seitz-Wald and Scott Keyes on Jan 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm
MIAMI, Florida — Two undocumented students confronted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during his speech here this morning at the Hispanic Leadership Network conference over his lack of support for the DREAM Act. Holding signs that read “Rubio: Latino Or Tea-Partino?” (Latin or Tea Partier?), the students were quickly escorted out of the Doral Golf Resort & Spa ballroom, where Rubio was speaking ahead of GOP presidential candidates, by security.
To his credit, Rubio said the two young men were “very brave” for raising “this legitimate issue” and urged them to stay to hear the rest of his speech. Instead, they were met by Doral City Police officers outside the ballroom, who pulled the students — one gave his name as Joe, preferring not to use a last name — away from reporters. Watch it:
Last year, a Florida judge struck down Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) plan to privatize much of the state’s prison system because of a flaw in the way it was enacted. Nevertheless, Florida lawmakers are now reviving this ill-conceived plan:
Dozens of correctional officers shouted “Shame! Shame!” as the Senate Budget Committee voted Wednesday to revive a hotly debated budget-cutting plan to privatize state prisons in 18 South Florida counties. . . .
“Come work a shift with us … come do what we do every day,” prison officers called out to Senate Budget Committee Chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, after his committee voted 14-4 for a bill (SB 2308) that restores the massive privatization plan the Legislature passed in budget language last year. Sgt. Thomas Johnson of Marion Correctional Institution challenged Alexander to show up at a prison unannounced and take a tour with rank-and-file guards to see what they face on the job.
Private prisons have a well-documented record of failing to save taxpayers money. An exhaustive 2007 study conducted by the University of Utah concluded that “the value of moving to a privately managed system is questionable,” while many services are often inferior at private facilities as compared to public ones.
But while the taxpayers may not see much return on their investment, others stand to reap millions of dollars. Last year, a report issued by the Justice Policy Institute found that private prisons spent millions on lobbying to help “make money through harsh policies and longer sentences.” In 2010, the two largest private prison companies had a combined $2.9 billion in revenues, Think Progress reported.
The corporations that own and operate private prisons are not the only ones who benefit financially either. An examination of campaignfinance records shows that GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, was one of the 15 largest contributors to the Florida Republican Party in 2010, and gave over $11,000 in contributions directly to the campaigns of 14 of the 20 members of the Budget Committee that approved the bill, by a vote of 14-4. Since 2006, GEO Group has spent a total of $1.3 million in campaign contributions in Florida alone.
The political investments private prison companies are making are not limited to Florida, either. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer accepted at least $60,000 from people directly connected to the Corrections Corporation of America. And in Pennsylvania, a judge was sentenced to 28 years in prison after it was discovered he had been “selling” convictions of young offenders to several private juvenile detention centers, which profit mightily from heightened incarceration rates. One victim was sentenced to three months in one of the centers for mocking an assistant vice principal on MySpace.
By Scott Keyes and Alex Seitz-Wald on Jan 27, 2012 at 9:50 am
MIAMI, Florida — As Mitt Romney spent yesterday promising to create conditions deplorable enough for undocumented immigrants that they will engage in “self-deportation,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) warned that his party’s rightward shift on state-based immigration legislation “turned off” Hispanic voters.
ThinkProgress asked Bush about Alabama’s new anti-immigrant law, HB 56, which includes provisions requiring officials to check the immigration status of children enrolling for school and prompting local utilities to shut off residents’ water service unless they prove their citizenship.
Bush said that Hispanic voters “see the ramifications of the Alabama law and other things like that and get turned off.” The former Florida governor went on to declare that, given the growing influence of Hispanic voters, “it makes no sense to me that we are sending these signals:”
BUSH: The problem is that the federal law’s not being enforced. The more that’s being done to enforce the borders and to enforce the laws, the greater probability that this issue begins to subside. From a conservative point of view, I think that’s appropriate and important because Hispanic voters hear these debates and see the ramifications of the Alabama law and other things like that and get turned off. It’s not a good thing — I know this will sound a little crazy — but I happen to believe that if swing voters decide elections and swing voters in swing states are the most important voters in the presidential race, and if you send a signal that turns them off, that’s a bad thing. So from a practical political view, putting aside the policy, it makes no sense to me that we are sending these signals, not withstanding the frustration that people feel that the federal government’s not enforcing the immigration laws of the country.
Still, Bush’s sensible warnings on immigration policy are falling on deaf ears among many in his party. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the presidential race, where Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney has made anti-immigrant rhetoric a centerpiece of his campaign. He has pledged to veto the DREAM Act, his immigration plan involves forcing “self-deportation,” and he has trumpeted the endorsement of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the author of not only Alabama’s immigration law, but Arizona’s draconian SB 1070 bill as well.
Though Bush has tried to steer his party away from its anti-immigrant tendencies, the proliferation of state-based bills has continued unabated. In December 2010, after Arizona’s SB 1070 bill passed, the Denver Post reported that “Bush said if his children walked the streets of Phoenix they might look awfully suspicious to police.” (Bush’s wife was born in Mexico and his children are Hispanic.)
With Romney as the favorite to soon lead his party, Republicans may have difficulty winning Hispanic voters in the fall as moderate voices like Bush get pushed to the wayside.
To learn more about the Republican presidential candidates’ views on immigration, check out ThinkProgress’ regularly-updated page here.
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Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) makes the rather sensible observation that his state’s judicial selection process makes no sense. Virginia is one of only two states where the entire state legislature must select judges, a process that frequently leads to lengthy stalemates.
Justice Scalia stays a Texas execution until the Court has sufficient time to decide an Arizona case that presents a similar legal issue.