If you’re new here: The Daily 202 generally focuses on national politics and foreign policy. But as passionate believers in local news, and in redefining “politics” as something that hits closer to home than Beltway “Senator X Hates Senator Y” stories, we try to bring you a weekly mix of pieces with significant local, national or international import.
Please keep sending your links to news coverage of political stories that are getting overlooked. They don’t have to be from this week! The submission link is right under this column. Make sure to say whether I can use your first name, last initial and location. Anonymous is okay, too, with location.
Surveillance at Anchorage City Hall
Reader John D. in Albany, N.Y., flagged this story.
In the Anchorage Daily News, reporters Emily Goodykoontz and Kyle Hopkins have a piece about accusations that Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson has been downloading city hall surveillance videos to see who’s been going to talk to the city’s ombudsman.
“‘Employees have stated that they are hesitant to visit our office because they are afraid that access to our office is being monitored. The employees perceive the alleged statements by the executive to be an attempt to intimidate them to not contact the Ombudsman’s Office,’ [Ombudsman Darrel] Hess said in a memo,” they reported.
“The ombudsman is an independent office under the city’s charter, and according to its website, ‘Investigates complaints against agencies, departments and employees of the Municipality and the School District,’ among other duties.”
The politics: Think the most powerful politician in your city or state is unimpeachably ethical and never makes mistakes? How about the biggest employer? Then you don’t need local news. Otherwise …
Shuttered juvenile justice
Reader Cathy W. in Pittsburgh pointed us in the direction of a juvenile justice center, the Shuman Center, that was closed a couple of years ago. It was where under-18-year-olds accused of serious crimes would go to await trial.
Andy Sheehan of Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate KDKA reported on this back in October, citing complaints from officials in the justice system about rampant recidivism, notably regarding those accused of gun crimes. But it looks like there’s no quick fix.
“There have been talks to establish a new juvenile detention center. For months, they have been that … just talks. The county is not interested in running Shuman again, and the State Department of Human Services tells KDKA it’s not in the juvenile detention business,” Sheehan reported.
The politics: Again. Local media, local government.
Hat-tip to Trip Gabriel of the New York Times, who tweeted out this piece about Virginia lawmakers who are “considering giving travelers the opportunity to explore the routes and places found in the Green Book after the House of Delegates passed legislation on Tuesday to permit the placement of historical signs at those sites.”
What’s the Green Book? Nathaniel Cline of the Virginia Mercury explains: “Decades before people could rely on the internet for hotel or restaurant suggestions, Black Americans traveling across the country during the Jim Crow era relied on a guidebook of amenities to keep safe in segregated parts of the country.”
“[T]he Green Book noted places throughout the U.S. where Black travelers could safely eat, stay and fill up their cars with gas,” Cline wrote.
The politics: In case you’ve somehow missed the last few news cycles out of Florida, how we teach and experience history is enormously political.
Tipping war or tipping point?
I sit at a weird cultural crossroads for this next one. In France, tipping is often seen as debasing, an exploitative fix to not paying a living wage. In America, it’s mostly seen as the logical reward for good service. So I found Haleluya Hadero’s Associated Press piece on whether tipping has gone too far to be extremely interesting.
“As more businesses adopt digital payment methods, customers are automatically being prompted to leave a gratuity — many times as high as 30% — at places they normally wouldn’t. And some say it has become more frustrating as the price of items has skyrocketed due to inflation, which eased to 6.5% in December but still remains painfully high.”
“Some of the requests can also come from odd places. Clarissa Moore, a 35-year-old who works as a supervisor at a utility company in Pennsylvania, said even her mortgage company has been asking for tips lately. Typically, she’s happy to leave a gratuity at restaurants, and sometimes at coffee shops and other fast-food places when the service is good. But, Moore said she believes consumers shouldn’t be asked to tip nearly everywhere they go — and it shouldn’t be something that’s expected of them.”
The politics: This is as much about social and economic forces as politics, writ large. But just ask living-wage advocates whether this is political.
See an important political story that doesn’t quite fit traditional politics coverage? Flag it for us here.
Half Moon Bay suspect admits to shooting rampage, says he was bullied
“The agricultural worker suspected of killing seven people in a shooting rampage at two farms around Half Moon Bay, Calif., this week admitted that he committed the attack in a jailhouse interview with local media on Thursday, saying he regretted going through with the act,” Timothy Bella reports.
Biden confirms he has tapped Zients as chief of staff
“Biden said the White House would host an ‘official transition event’ next week to thank [Ron] Klain for his work and welcome [Jeff] Zients back to the White House in his new role,” John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro report.
RNC chair seeks to quell revolt, divisions ahead of tense Friday election
“A contentious battle over the future of the GOP will be decided Friday when Republican National Committee members vote on whether to keep Ronna McDaniel as chair for two more years or replace her after a disappointing election that many have blamed on former president Donald Trump, who first elevated her to the position,” Isaac Arnsdorf, Dylan Wells and Josh Dawsey report.
Lunchtime reads from The Post
Half Moon Bay shooting unmasks poor living conditions for farmworkers
“At California Terra Garden, workers and their families lived in trailers on the property, cooked outdoors in makeshift kitchens, used portable toilets, and had their rent deducted from their paychecks, officials said. Yet even though aid groups had regularly visited the farm, sometimes multiple times per week, it took a rampaging gunman to expose more broadly the squalor that farmworkers can face even in one of the wealthier communities in the country,” Joshua Partlow and Lisa Bonos report.
Arizona Republicans exempt lawmakers from the state’s open-records law
“The new rules will greatly limit the public release of lawmakers’ communications. State senators will not have to disclose any text messages sent on personal devices, even when dealing with state business. For lawmakers in both the Senate and the House, emails and other documents will be destroyed after 90 days — in many cases, well before members of the public know to ask for them,” Patrick Marley and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez report.
FDA to ease blood donation ban on gay men, allow monogamous to give
“Gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships will no longer be forced to abstain from sex to donate blood under federal guidelines to be proposed in coming days, ending a vestige of the earliest days of the AIDS crisis,” Laurie McGinley, Teddy Amenabar and Fenit Nirappil report.
As the Colorado River shrinks, Washington prepares to spread the pain
“The seven states that rely on water from the shrinking Colorado River are unlikely to agree to voluntarily make deep reductions in their water use, negotiators say, which would force the federal government to impose cuts for the first time in the water supply for 40 million Americans,” the New York Times’s Christopher Flavelle and Mira Rojanasakul report.
Capitol Police boost security preparations ahead of Tyre Nichols footage release
“The Capitol’s law enforcement entity is expected to increase its security posture as departments around the country gird for protests over the weekend related to the Nichols arrest footage, according to two people familiar with the situation who spoke candidly on condition of anonymity. Security boosts ahead of anticipated protest activity generally mean longer hours for officers. The Capitol Police said Friday morning that they are being cautious, like other departments around the country,” Politico’s Nicholas Wu, Sarah Ferris and Katherine Tully-McManus report.
How Barr’s quest to find flaws in the Russia inquiry unraveled
“[Attorney General William P. Barr] and [prosecutor John H. Durham] never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump. The specifics of the tip and how they handled the investigation remain unclear, but Mr. Durham brought no charges over it,” the NYT’s Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner report.
Two years in, Biden has prioritized nominating women of color as judges
“Of the judges appointed by Biden in the past two years, 75 percent are women, 47 percent are women of color and 67 percent are people of color. This stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who two years into his presidency had appointed 85 judges, 92 percent of whom were White, 23 percent were women and 2 percent were women of color, according to analysis by The 19th. Biden has also prioritized nominating lawyers from professional backgrounds that are underrepresented in the federal judiciary,” the 19th’s Candice Norwood and Jasmine Mithani report.
Biden’s nominees confirmed at slower rate than his predecessors’
“It has taken an average of nearly 145 days for Biden’s political appointees to receive Senate confirmation — a jump from other recent presidents at this point in their terms, Axios’s Stef W. Kight reports. (Trump’s average was 119 days, according to a report by the Center for Presidential Transition.
Biden blasts House GOP for trying to ‘destroy’ economy over debt ceiling
“President Biden sharply rebuked House Republicans on Thursday for trying to slash seniors’ retirement benefits and hold hostage the nation’s finances, stressing that the new majority’s agenda — and its staunch demands for spending cuts — threatened to plunge the United States into an economic crisis,” Tony Romm reports.
The evolution of George Santos’s lies, visualized
“What is Santos saying about himself now? Here’s a look at how Santos defined and redefined himself in his biography on his campaign website. Below is an analysis of how that biography was rewritten from 2020 through 2023,” Azi Paybarah, Luis Melgar and Tyler Remmel report.
The myth of Jeffrey Zients
“Zients was a leader in implementing many of the Obama administration’s most pro-corporate policies. Zients owes his entire public-policy career to his corporate worldview and connections, which have remained strikingly consistent for over a decade—exactly in keeping with his pre-government history,” Max Moran writes for the American Prospect.
“The White House chief of staff isn’t just an office manager; they often choose who gets face time with the president and which policy options make it to the Resolute desk. This means they have to filter out what political ideas aren’t worth the president’s time, which means they need strong political judgment of their own.”
Trump’s return to Facebook, Instagram raises hopes of fundraising windfall
“Meta’s decision Wednesday to allow Trump back onto the networks clears the way to effectively reopen the financial partnership that proved crucial to Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, allowing him to mine the American public for people who may be willing to give him money and buy his merchandise. Most of the ads Trump and his groups post on Facebook include links to pages where voters can donate or hand over their contact information,” Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Isaac Stanley-Becker report.
At 5:30 p.m., Biden will leave the White House for Camp David.
They quoted Taylor Swift in a Senate hearing — but who’s the top Swiftie?
“The Washington Post spoke to the four speakers who dropped Swift’s lyrics to see who had help crafting their shout-outs and who was a big enough fan to ad-lib the references on their own,” María Luisa Paúl and Daniel Wu report.
“[Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)], a longtime Swift fan … was on the hunt for the perfect Swift song, one that would allow him to ‘pay tribute to her and also connect with her fans, who are the victims here,’ he told The Post.”
Thanks for reading. See you next week.
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