President Biden will Nominate California's Workplace Safety Chief, Doug Parker, to Lead the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Role has taken on outsize Importance amid the Pandemic and as the Administration is weighing whether to ...


The Independent View - 5 new articles

CA Workplace Safety Chief Picked to Lead OSHA

President Biden will Nominate California's Workplace Safety Chief, Doug Parker, to Lead the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The Role has taken on outsize Importance amid the Pandemic and as the Administration is weighing whether to Issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to create a Set of Enforceable, Covid-19-related Workplace Safety Regulations.

Biden, who campaigned on issuing such an Emergency Standard immediately, originally directed his Labor Department to decide by March 15th whether it was necessary. But Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh, said Thursday that the Agency is still considering whether a Standard is needed.

Parker Heads California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Previously worked at the Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Obama administration. He started his Legal Career as an Attorney at the United Mine Workers of America.

Safety Experts lauded the Nomination, pointing to his Track Record policing Workplace Covid-19 Risks at the State level. "Cal/OSHA has conducted almost as much enforcement in one state in 2020 as the federal OSHA did" altogether, said Debbie Berkowitz, an Adviser at OSHA during the Obama Administration. "Doug gets the importance of an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from COVID-19 and strong enforcement for violators," added Berkowitz, now with the left-leaning National Employment Law Project.

David Michaels, former OSHA Chief during the Obama Administration, added that Parker's work is carved out for him. “He faces a very difficult challenge,” said Michaels. “COVID is a massive worker safety crisis, and OSHA has not even been permitted to issue an Emergency Standard.”

Walsh, on Thursday, defended the Slow Pace of OSHA’s progress on a Coronavirus Workplace Safety Standard, saying “I wouldn’t say it’s a delay, I’d say we’re looking at this … just to see before we move forward with any kind of standard, if we need to move forward with a standard.”

According to the Labor Department, Walsh has Requested “a rapid update” on the Standard “based on CDC analysis and the latest information regarding the state of vaccinations and the variants.”

Parker joins several other California Officials headed to Washington. Most notably, Biden has nominated, California Labor Secretary, Julie Su, to Serve as Walsh’s Second-in-Command.

Su, who was originally floated for the No. 1 Spot, has yet to receive a Senate Vote on Confirmation. Her Testimony before the Senate Labor Panel was decidedly more Controversial than Walsh’s. Republicans grilled her on the State’s Struggle with Unemployment Insurance Fraud, among other things.

Also of Concern for Businesses and their Allies is Su's Role in Implementing California’s own Version of an Emergency Temporary Standard, which many Employers have derided as Unworkable. That Set of Rules will undoubtedly present Challenges for Parker as well. As Head of California’s own Workplace Safety Agency, he played a Key Role in Developing and Rolling Out the Regulations.

“The Virginia standard, the Michigan standard take [employers’] efforts into account,” National Retail Federation, Vice President, Ed Egee, said earlier this year. But California has “a completely unworkable standard," he added.

“Hopefully we can work together more constructively at the federal level than we did at the state level,” Egee said of Parker’s Nomination. “I want to keep an open mind.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker


Cities Win Immigration Policing Dispute with U.S. Government

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), has Dropped its Challenge to a Court Decision, that said the Federal Government could Not Force, Two Rhode Island Cities, to turn Local Police into Federal Immigration Agents.

Providence Mayor, Jorge Elorza, and Central Falls Mayor, Maria Rivera, said in a News Release that the DOJ Dropped the Appeal from the Republican Administration of Trump, reported Friday.

The DOJ is now led by Attorney General, Merrick Garland, an Appointee of President Biden

The Two Cities Sued, in August 2018, after the Federal Government Required Recipients, of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, to Cooperate with Authorities in the Enforcement of Federal Immigration Law.

Both Cities are Self-described “Sanctuary Cities” and do Not direct their Police Forces to carry out Federal Immigration Policy.

A U.S. District Court and the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both sided with the Cities. Part of the Deision was, the Grant never had the Trump Requiement as the Grant was written.

“I am thrilled that the federal courts served as a critical firewall against these unconstitutional directives,” Elorza said in a statement. “We stood proudly in court and stated that Providence is a welcoming city, that we will stand by our values, and we will fight the federal government’s illegal and unconstitutional overreaching.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker


IA Nears 60% of Power from Wind Turbines

In 2020, Iowa garnered nearly 60% of it’s Energy from Wind Turbines and substantially Increased the Number of those Turbines functioning in the State.

The State now approaches 5,900 Working Wind Turbines supplying Power for the State, having brought an impressive 540 New Turbines Online in 2020.

This is no small feat. In 2019, the State’s Wind Power Generations supplied 44% of it’s Needs, so the Increase in 2020 represents a Significant Increase.

The Story in some parts of the State is even more Impressive. MidAmerican Energy, the State’s Largest Energy Provider, reports that Wind Power currently accounts for more than 80% of it’s Energy, again, a Substantial Increase over 2019 when it accounted for 61% of the Utility’s Output.

Wind Power is far and away the Biggest source of Renewable Energy in the State, though there are other Sources:

- Three Hydroelectric Plants in Southeast Iowa, the Largest of which at Keokuk, is more than a Century Old and accounts for about 142 Mw of Production.

- A Small Amount of Energy from Biomass.

- Solar Power is largely by Individual Home and Business Installations, though there are Projects underway for some Solar Farms, One near the IA-MN Border that anticipates providing 750 Mw, and a 100 Mw Facility in Wapello near the SE Border.

Iowa used to have a Single operating Nuclear Facility in Linn County, but it was Decommissioned in 2020. In an interesting twist, the Site will be turned into Part of a Solar Farm that hopes to come Online by the end of 2023. In another interesting twist, the Solar Farm will provide more Energy than the Nuclear Plant did. The Solar Facility is proposed to provide 690 Mw, while the former Nuclear Plant provided 615 Mw.

In other Iowa Energy news, the Coal-Fired Plant in Lansing, Iowa, is in the Process of being Decommissioned, process complete by the end of 2022, and another Coal Plant in Burlington is being Converted to Natural Gas.

Alliant Energy, Owner of the Lansing and Burlington Plants, has also announced Plans to Develop 400 Mw of Solar Energy. Alliant has Committed to a Goal of Zero Coal Energy Production by 2040. At this point, the Utility owns only One remaining Coal Plant in Iowa, and Co-Own other with MidAmerican Energy.

There are Two more small Coal Plants in Linn County that are Targeted to be Decommissioned by 2025.

The Department of Natural Resources (DMR) does note there is growing Resistance in some areas to Wind Farms, with Claims of Negative Health and Aesthetic Impacts.

Some Jurisdictions have Increased required Setbacks or put other Restrictions on Siting and Building Wind Farms in the State. Plenty of Farmers in Rural Areas are Discovering that allowing Turbines to be sited on their Properties is an Attractive additional Cash Flow, to the tune of around $30 Million in Lease Money, with little to No Effort on their part.

Since 2008, Iowa has produced more Energy than it uses, and roughly 1/3 of Energy Production is actually Exported to Neighboring States. And that’s why being part of a Larger Grid is so Important, you can generate the Power and move it around to where it’s Needed, when it’s Needed. And that’s why Iowa needs to move on Upgrading their Grid to make that Shuffling of Energy around Easier and more Efficient.

A little Context: One Megawatt is enough Power for, by current Average Power Usage, about 600-800 U.S. Homes, give or take with a lot of Variability.

Iowa’s Total Wind Power capacity increased to 11,600 Megawatts in 2020.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker


Trump Officials Blocked Scientists from Accurately Reporting on Covid-19

Not only did Trump Promote False Cures and Downplay Effective Strategies against the Covid-19 Pandemic, but Trump didn’t do it Alone.

At every step, he had the Assistance of Republicans inside and outside the White House who worked with Trump Downplay the Threat, Misdirect Public concerns, and Mock serious Efforts to Halt the Spread of Covid-19. That included not just Sidelining serious Officials like, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Inserting Unqualified Supporters, like Scott Atlas, but forcing Officials within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other Agencies to either Suppress Information or Alter Statements.

A year later the House sSlect Subcommittee on the Pandemic and its handling is finally getting a look at some of those Internal Calculations and Decisions. Documents before that Committee shows Trump Officials pressured Agencies and Scientists to Change their Reporting to the Public. Then those Officials celebrated the fact that the Nation had been Duped.

In particular, the Emails between former Health and Human Services (HHS) Public Affairs Chief, Michael Caputo and former Science Adviser, Paul Alexander, show these Officials working to force the CDC to make Changes in Reports on how COVID-19 Spread. Then they Celebrated their Victory with a “yippee.” Alexander also managed to make Changes in the “sacrosanct” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) to Tone Down the apparent Damage done by Covid-19.

Even then, the Changes to some Reports, in particular One about how the Desease was Spread among Young People, weren’t enough to make Alexander and Caputo happy. So they worked with Atlas to create Op-Eds to “preempt the story” and Promote the idea that Schools could be Opened Safely. That included a Fishing Expedition in which they sought to Throw-Out Unfounded Numbers about how Closing Schools was causing more Death than it was Preventing. “I know the President wants us to enumerate the economic cost of not reopening,” wrote Caputo. “We need solid estimates to be able to say something like: 50,000 more cancer deaths! 40,000 more heart attacks! 25,000 more suicides!”

There does Not appear to be any Factual basis behind these Numbers. Alexander, Caputo, and Atlas, understood Trump’s Goal: He wanted the Schools Open No matter what, so they created a Stream of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt for the purposes of Justifying that Action.

In September 2020, Caputo and Alexander worked together to Bully and Silence Scientists. For example, when 32-year-year CDC Veteran, Dr. Anne Schuchat, made an Appeal to Americans to wear Masks, saying, “We have too much virus across the country,” Alexander went on the Attack. In an Interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association, Alexander claimed that Schuchat’s real Goal was to embarrass Trump. Alexander called her “duplicitous,” said that the Threat of COVID-19 to Children was “zero,” and stated of Schuchat, “She has lied.” Working together with Caputo, Alexander attempted to Stifle Schuchat by Threatening to Hang All the Deaths connected to the H1N1 Virus on her Decisions.

Select Committee Chair, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC, 6th District) has written to both Alexander and Atlas stating: “Our investigation has shown that Trump Administration officials engaged in a persistent pattern of political interference in the nation’s public health response to the coronavirus pandemic, overruling and bullying scientists and making harmful decisions that allowed the virus to spread more rapidly.” The Committee is now seeking Testimony from both Alexander and Atlas.

Caputo, a Nonscientist whose work as a Media Adviser included a stint in which he was hired to Approve the Image of Vladimir Putin, put himself on medical Leave in September. When he did so, he Apologized to many Members of the HHS Staff and Admitted that he had Not read some of the Reports he had pressured People to Alter. However, this did Not come before Caputo posted a Facebook Video in which he claimed there were “hit squads being trained all over this country" for an Armed Revolt against Trump’s Second Term. He also Claimed those Hit Squads were going to come after him Personally. Two weeks later he was Diagnosed with Throat Cancer. It’s unclear if Caputo will be asked to Testify.

During the 2016 Campaign, Caputo worked for Trump while maintaining Offices in both Miami Beach, Florida, and Moscow, Russia. He previously worked for Trump in creating an AstroTurf Campaign to make it look as if People wanted Trump to buy the Buffalo Bills.

Clyburn has Requested that Alexander and Atlas appear before the Committee by May 3rd. Considering the Documentation shows they deliberately sought to Alter Scientific Reports and Pressure Scientists into providing the Answers they wanted, it would Not be surprising if getting Alexander and Atlas to show requires a Court Fight.

What’s both amazing and distressing is how All of these Men took their Obligation to support Trump to be Greater than their Obligation to Protect Public Health, even when they knew the scope of the Threat. Trump said many times that he sought Personal Loyalty above Everything else. He Got It.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker


Pentagon Orders New Screening Procedures to Weed Out Extremists

Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, on Friday, ordered a series of "immediate actions" to Address the Threat of Extremism in the Military, including a Review of the Armed Forces' definition of Extremist Behavior, Standardizing Questionnaires to Screen Recruits and developing Procedures for Veterans to Report Extremist Activities after they leave Service.

The actions come after a 60-day "stand down" that Austin Ordered in early February 2021 following the Violent Jan. 6th Assault on the U.S. Capitol by Supporters of Trump.

The Crowd of Rioters, that day, included Dozens of Current or former Military Personnel affiliated with Right-Wing Extremist Groups.

Austin also Established a Countering Extremist Working Group that he tasked with Implementing the New actions as well as Developing additional Procedures over the coming months.

The Group was empowered to Identify further ways to Improve Screening of Recruits and Personnel currently serving in Uniform, any Modifications that are needed to the Uniform Code of Military Justice or additional tTaining Programs.

The new high-Level Body, which will include Representatives from across the Military, will issue a Report in 90 days.

"The vast majority of those who serve in uniform and their civilian colleagues do so with great honor and integrity," Austin wrote in his Order, "but any extremist behavior in the force can have an outsized impact."

Pentagon Press Secretary, John Kirby, told reporters that Austin, who met with the Heads of the Military Branches, earlier Friday, on the recent Stand Downs, said the Pentagon Chief also wants the new Working Group to address whether the Pentagon needs to Outlaw Membership in Specific Militant Groups.

"One consistent thing he heard is the force wants better guidance," Kirby said, describing "a hunger for more information and context of what we're talking about here."

Of particular concern, Kirby added, is the Role of Veterans who Leave the Military and join Militant Organizations.

"What we need to do and focus on more is how we prepare the transitioning members to be aware of that interest in them and to know what it looks like and what it feels like, what it sounds like when these groups are trying to recruit them," Kirby said.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker


Contact UsPast IssuesJoin This ListUnsubscribe