Top 5 Live-WURD Thursday May 2015
1. Los Angeles Lifts Its Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour
The nation’s second-largest city voted Tuesday to increase its minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15 an hour by 2020, in what is perhaps the most significant victory so far for labor groups and their allies who are engaged in a national push to raise the minimum wage.
The increase, which the City Council passed in a 14-to-1 vote, comes as workers across the country are rallying for higher wages and several large companies, including Facebook and Walmart, have moved to raise their lowest wages.
Several other cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and Oakland, Calif., have already approved increases, and dozens more are considering doing the same. In 2014, a number of Republican-leaning states like Alaska and South Dakota also raised their state-level minimum wages by ballot initiative.
The effect is likely to be particularly strong in Los Angeles, where, according to some estimates, almost 50 percent of the city’s work force earns less than $15 an hour. Under the plan approved Tuesday, the minimum wage will rise over five years.
2. Nebraska lawmakers vote to abolish death penalty
Nebraska lawmakers gave final approval on Wednesday to a bill abolishing the death penalty with enough votes to override a promised veto from Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.
If that vote holds in a veto override, Nebraska would become the first conservative state to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973.
The Nebraska vote is notable in the national debate over capital punishment because it was bolstered by conservatives who oppose the death penalty for religious reasons and say it is a waste of taxpayer money.
Nebraska hasn’t executed a prisoner since 1997, and some lawmakers have argued that constant legal challenges will prevent the state from doing so again.
Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, a death penalty supporter, has vowed to veto the bill. Ricketts announced last week that the state has bought new lethal injection drugs to resume executions.
3. Council’s Goode: It’s not about winning elections; it’s about serving
Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. was listed dead last on the ballot. Ahead of him was a field of qualified challengers. And – as has been the case before – the politician who says he doesn’t care much for politics had run a minimal campaign.
“I understood exactly what happened yesterday as it was happening and was prepared for it,” Goode said. “The goal for me was never winning elections. The goal for me was to serve.”
That lack of penchant for politics cost the 15-year Council veteran his job in the day’s most unexpected upset.
Goode, son of the city’s first black mayor, hadn’t been viewed as vulnerable. But political experts say his ballot position, lack of relationships with ward leaders and perhaps the weakening muscle of a once powerful family name all proved fatal.
4. Freddie Gray Arrest: Cell Phone Video May Shed More Light on Case
Shaky cell phone video released today may show officers with Freddie Gray during one of the stops made while the Baltimore man was in police custody after his arrest, according to a report.
The Baltimore Sun released the footage taken by an unidentified witness. The video appears to show police officers surrounding Gray, 25, as he is motionless outside a police van.
It is the latest of several videos that have emerged in the case.
Police took Gray into custody in Baltimore on April 12. An officer was heard telling dispatch at 8:40 a.m. that officers had one person in custody in the 1700 block of Presbury Street, police said.
The cell phone footage takes place at the first stop officers made during Gray’s apprehension, at the corner of Mount and Baker streets, according to The Baltimore Sun. Multiple police are seen in the video, though it is not clear which of six officers arrested in the case are involved in this particular moment.
5. Planning Commission opposes land deal to replace House of Corrections
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission voted Tuesday to disapprove a bill authorizing the city to buy land for the eventual replacement of the House of Corrections.
As PlanPhilly reported last week, a City Council committee has already approved the bill, which authorizes the Department of Public Property to spend up to $7.2 million to buy the land. The purchase would allow the city to replace the House of Corrections. The construction would cost between $300 million and $500 million.
Mayoral candidates Jim Kenney and Anthony Williams both told the Inquirer this week that they oppose building a new prison while the schools remain in ongoing financial crises. The last two times the city built new prisons, it was compelled to do so by the courts, the Inquirer reported
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon