In This Episode
- We discuss more election results and analyze where Democrats and progressives stand now. Some highlights include Michelle Wu becoming the first woman and first person of color as Boston’s mayor. Some lowlights include Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin defeating Democrat Terry McAuliffe for Virginia’s next governor.
- Voters in Minneapolis also rejected a proposal that would have replaced the city’s police department with a Department of Public Safety. Minister JaNaé Bates from the Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign, which put the proposal on the ballot, joins us to discuss the amendment and where activists go from here.
- And in headlines: Ethiopia’s ruling government declared a state of emergency, the Supreme Court heard arguments in what could be its first decision on the Second Amendment in more than a decade, and scientists say California condors can reproduce without mating.
- MPR: “Minneapolis voters reject plan to overhaul city policing” – https://bit.ly/2ZSGnCv
- Austin American-Statesman: “Austin voters overwhelmingly reject Prop A police staffing plan” – https://bit.ly/3mHswbi
- Cleveland 19: “Police oversight ballot measure approved; union promises to fight it” – https://bit.ly/3mHVNTj
Gideon Resnick: It’s Thursday, November 4th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Tre’vell Anderson: Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day, where we’re making sure that the air conditioning is used conservatively at the UN Climate Change Summit.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we’re keeping an eye on those numbers using the Nest app. If someone sets the thermostat to any temperature below 68 degrees, we are going to be very mad.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, wear T-shirts instead of long sleeves, climate negotiators. You can do it.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, the Civil War in Ethiopia escalates into a state of emergency for its capital. Plus, researchers say California condors can be single moms and don’t always need males to breed.
Tre’vell Anderson: Amen to that. But first, we wanted to bring you some more election results and early analysis from Tuesday because it was a tough one for progressives throughout the country, proving yet again that Biden and the Democrats got to get their shit together. So a few highlights, or maybe they’re lowlights—you decide. First up, we had two governors races. Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin will become Virginia’s next governor. He defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe by, analysts say, cutting into Democratic margins among Asian and Latin X voters, as well as some suburban white folks, while getting Trump-level support among rural Virginians. And in New Jersey, Democratic Governor Philip Murphy was reelected, defeating GOP challenger Jack Ciattarelli, even though it was way closer than anyone thought it would be. Murphy is the first Democrat to be reelected to the governor’s office in 44 years. Now that we have results in both of those races, one where there was a flip in favor of Republicans and the other where the Republican candidate barely lost, strategists are telling all types of news outlets that these are some not-so-good writing’s on the wall for the Democratic Party ahead of next year’s midterm.
Gideon Resnick: And strategists certainly love to talk to news outlets. So let’s move from that and jump into some of the mayoral races where there were a lot of firsts.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. In fact, Election Day 2021 was historic in many ways for the amount of people of color who will be in leadership roles in some of the country’s biggest cities. In Boston, Michelle Wu is the first woman and first person of color elected as mayor. A daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, she broke the city’s 199-year streak of white male city leaders. In Pittsburgh, Democrat Ed Gainey will become the city’s first-ever Black mayor. In New York City, Democrat and former police captain Eric Adams will be the second Black man ever to lead as mayor. David N. Dinkins, who served a single term in 1989 and died last year, was the first. And in Cincinnati, Aftab Pureval will be the city’s first Asian-American mayor. And I did just want to highlight one other election, in Minneapolis where Mayor Jacob Frey was reelected. You remember, Minneapolis is where George Floyd was murdered by a police officer last summer, igniting a global racial reckoning. This was a race of interest for many, considering some of the policing reforms Frey and others have been endorsing.
Gideon Resnick: Definitely. And speaking of Minneapolis, on Tuesday night, voters there also rejected a proposal that would’ve removed the city’s police department from the city charter and replace it with a Department of Public Safety. The ballot question was put before voters as part of the police reforms after Floyd’s murder, and it would have reshaped the city’s police department with ideas like having social service workers respond to some calls instead of officers. But voters struck it down by a 13-point margin. Additionally, four city council members who supported the amendment lost their reelections, while four won.
Tre’vell Anderson: And that was just one city that had some kind of police reform measure on the ballot. Where were the results in some of these other places?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. In Austin, voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that would have expanded the police force there. And then in Cleveland, voters backed an amendment giving more civilian oversight over the police department.
Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. But I know you also wanted to get a deeper dive on the failed measure in Minneapolis. What did you hear there?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So yesterday, I talked to one of the activists behind the Minneapolis measure. Minister JaNae Bates is the communications director for the “Yes 4 Minneapolis” campaign, the organization that got the charter amendment on the ballot. And Tre’vell, I started my conversation with her by asking about her first reaction to Tuesday’s result.
JaNae Bates: There was some definite disappointment, but the reality is that I think all of us really have been feeling particularly proud. The fact is, is that in the city of Minneapolis, we have had this block in the charter for over 60 years, and that has meant that the people of Minneapolis have had zero say about public safety. They have no idea what’s going on with policies around the police department or anything. And so this was the first time that the people of Minneapolis really came head-to-head with the police federation in their power, and 22,000 people got it on the ballot, 62,000 people voted in favor of it. And so when you’re talking about 45% of the vote on a first time initiative, that is a tremendous and dynamic push forward.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, absolutely. I think that is great to mention, you know, because. There was a significant amount in the Yes column. When you look back, why do you think the vote went the way that it did?
JaNae Bates: I’ve been working on police accountability and criminal justice reform policies at the state level, the city level, and the county level for years, and I have never experienced such a heinous amount of vitriol and disinformation coming out of the political establishment that still Democratic. What we really saw was, quite frankly, a huge co-opting of our messaging attached to a lie that you can have all these things without structurally changing anything, and if you believe us, then you should vote no. And so I say that, and I think that’s a really important thing for people to note, especially other people who are pushing to expand public safety in their cities across the country, because I’m noticing for sure that there is like a national conversation that: defund language is the thing that stops. And it’s, that’s actually not what we’re seeing on the ground. What we’re seeing is, is when we talk about what the actual substance of the policy, what it does, that it allows qualified professionals to be a part of one department that’s comprehensive, so mental health providers and homeless coordinators and substance abuse specialists and police officers all in one department—people are overwhelmingly in support of that. And it is undeniable. So when we talk about that and it is so clear that folks love it, our opposition knows that folks love it and so they say: yeah, you can have those things, you don’t need to structurally change it, we can do that without the structural change. I want you to consider that there is a person who their whole life all they ever ate was rice, because that’s all they’ve ever been offered, and physically, the human body could survive on rice alone, but they would not be healthy by any demonstrable measure, like drastically malnutrition. And so a group of folks comes to them and they say: if you say yes, we will get you some vegetables, some fruit, some protein. And the folks who have been supplying the rice run up and like: they’re coming to take your rice, this is about stealing all your rice, they want to starve you. That is the argument that we’ve been in, and it’s so disingenuous. We’re not anti-rice. We’re pro health.
Gideon Resnick: Right. And to that end, so what sort of impact did that misconception that you’re talking about actually have on voters as they were like thinking about what this was and how to respond to it?
JaNae Bates: Unfortunately, there were I think some voters who heard these things weaponized by opposition, and it most certainly made them afraid. They believed this lie, that this was about abolishing police or completely defunding police and of course, it wasn’t. The measure had nothing to do with either of those, quite frankly. You know, they were just distracting, weaponized slogans that we know have been tactics of right-wing politics, and the folks who wielded the most unfortunately in Minneapolis—it is a democratic city—was the mayoral apparatus, which is a Democratic mayor.
Gideon Resnick: Right. On Tuesday night, there were other police accountability measures that passed in places like Cleveland. So what does that tell you, if anything about where we are right now?
JaNae Bates: Yeah, I mean, I cannot express how excited. Well, one, as a person born and raised in Cleveland, definitely excited about the civilian board pieces that moved in Cleveland. But also what happened in Austin! Just for folks to know, like what was presented by the police federation in Austin was exact same model that Minneapolis has right now. They were trying to put into their city charter a minimum staffing level, which is the thing that we got back, you know, 60-plus years ago that we are trying to now correct because we know it’s a failed model. And so the fact that folks in Austin two-to-one voted that down, is beautiful.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, no. That is the other one that really stood out as well. I’m curious, you know, in the past 24 hours or so, what has your message to people in Minneapolis been like? How have conversations been going around all of this?
JaNae Bates: Yeah, I think a big piece of the conversation right now is where do we go from here? Especially for people in Minneapolis, because the reality is, is no one, even people who voted ‘No’ would say what we currently have is working. And so there is definitely a role for the 70-plus organizations who have been a part of Yes 4 Minneapolis, we will continue to fight for transparency and accountability in the city. We will continue to fight for these added qualified professionals to be able to respond to the crises that the people in the city are facing with a right-sized response, and we’ll most certainly continue to advocate for them being properly funded. We will fight the good fight. I’m down for it. You know, I’ve been doing it and I wholeheartedly believe we’ll keep bumping our heads against some of these walls, until we say, OK, I guess we really do need to change the charter to make this work the way that it should.
Gideon Resnick: So Tre’vell, that’s my conversation with Minister JaNae Bates, the communications director for the Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign, the organization that got the charter amendment on the ballot.
Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. Now we’re going to have some links in the show notes, so you all can learn more about these proposals. More on all of this soon, but that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: Ethiopia’s ruling government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday after rebel fighters from the country’s Tigray region advanced on the capital of Addis Ababa. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said any citizen over 18 might be called to fight, that all weapons must be handed over to the government, and that quote, “We will sacrifice our blood and bone to bury this enemy.”.
Gideon Resnick: Wow.
Tre’vell Anderson: The Civil War began one year ago to this day when tensions over local elections escalated and the government launched a military strike on the ruling political party in Tigray, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The year-long fighting has been brutal, with a new U.N. report out yesterday saying that all sides committed grave atrocities that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. To try and de-escalate the conflict, the U.S. State Department sent special envoy Jeffrey Feltman to the country for talks today and tomorrow.
Gideon Resnick: The Supreme Court spent two hours yesterday hearing arguments in what could be its first decision on the Second Amendment in more than a decade. At issue was a New York state law that required people to get a permit to concealed-carry a firearm, and also required them to demonstrate that they had, quote, “proper cause.” Now, several other states have similar laws on the books, including California and Massachusetts, but two gun owners and the New York affiliate of the NRA filed a lawsuit claiming that the state set the bar too high to get a permit. And several conservative justices, including Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, seemed to buy that argument. In other NRA news, former congresswoman and gun violence survivor Gabby Giffords, filed a federal lawsuit against the group on Tuesday. She claimed that the NRA violated campaign finance laws by using secret donations schemes to funnel as much as $35 million to GOP candidates. That includes Trump in 2016. In the suit, she also named the campaigns for Senator Josh Hawley and Representative Matthew Rosendale as co-defendants.
Tre’vell Anderson: California condors are able to take an all-business, zero-drama approach to starting families. A new study by conservation scientists at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance found two condor chicks hatched from unfertilized eggs, indicating that the critically endangered bird species can reproduce without mating. The scientists discovered that each chick was genetically related to its mother, but neither bird was genetically related to a male. These are the perfect creatures to anchor the predatory bird reboot of “The Gilmore Girls” I’ve been writing for the past 10 years. Shout out to me. The California condor is one of the world’s rarest birds. They were proclaimed extinct in the wild in the 1980s, but through breeding and conservation efforts, there are now about 500 living condors today. The discovery of their ability to reproduce asexually is great news for these vulnerable vultures and provides hope for other birds as well. Fish and lizards have often been shown to reproduce asexually, but among birds the phenomenon has only been documented in turkeys, finches, and domestic pigeons.
Gideon Resnick: With all due respect to them, I would like no more domestic pigeons. I think we have plenty of domestic pigeons. That’s great that they are figuring that out, though. The deep knowledge that pro athletes have of their own bodies still has a few spike-protein shaped holes: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reportedly chose not to get vaccinated against COVID this year, and now he has tested positive for the virus and will miss a game this Sunday. This all might come as a surprise if you heard Rodgers give press conferences back in August. Here he is, giving a sneakily indirect answer to a very direct question:
[reporter] Are you vaccinated and what’s your stance on vaccinations?
[clip of Aaron Rodgers] Yeah, I’ve been immunized.
Gideon Resnick: Mm hmm. Yup, that just sounds so true. Rodgers is giving off big “about to get grounded” vibes in this clip. Since that press conference, sources have revealed that Rodgers pursued a homeopathic medicine alternative to COVID vaccines, which some could call getting immunized, while others would call it getting extra rewards points at GNC. Since Rodgers tested positive, the NFL has announced that it’s going to review whether the Packers were enforcing COVID-19 protocols. Notably, Rogers gave his press conferences this year with no mask on, which could mean he broke rules for unvaccinated players. After his positive test result, Rodgers will have to isolate for at least 10 days before returning to the field. Here’s hoping he does not use his time off to do any more of his own research.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, we need people to stop doing that. OK? Go to the doctors, OK, to the legitimate people. We trying to save your lives out here.
Gideon Resnick: I am turning off his cell phone service for the remainder of the year, if not longer. After this, he cannot access any more of these websites. And those are the headlines. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, be as independent as the mighty California condor, and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading, and not just long receipts from GNC like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And get vaccinated pro athletes!
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, stop doing them at-home treatments. They not working.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. You’re essential oil is not going to protect you against the novel coronavirus. It’s just not. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lance. Jazzi Marine is our associate producer. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and myself. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.