Some morning notes:
* WALMART WAGE PROTEST: More than 50 people were arrested last night outside a Los Angeles Walmart for failure to clear the street after a protest of low wages at the discount store. Some 500 Walmart workers and supporters were on hand for the protest. Protesters want Walmart to pay workers $25,000 a year. The company produced workers during the protest to tell reporters, in the presence of supervisors, that they were well-treated by the company. That countered such outside comments as this:
One of the protesting Walmart workers, Anthony Goytia, a 31-year-old father of two, said he believes he will make about $12,000 this year. It’s a daily struggle, he said, “to make sure my family doesn’t go hungry.”
“The power went out at my house yesterday because I couldn’t afford the bill,” Goytia told HuffPost. “I had to run around and get two payday loans to pay for my rent from the first” of the month. “Yesterday we went to a food bank.”
To make ends meet, Goytia said he sometimes participates in clinical trials and sells his blood plasma. He has been asking his managers for full-time employment for a year and a half. Instead, he said, they hire temporary workers, who can be fired at any time.
* FRACKED: Great story from Texas on contamination of water wells by, according to the EPA, fracking activities nearby. One homeowner who’s made public complaints about the contamination has been sued by an energy exploration company for his TV appearances particularly when he ignites escaping gas from a hose venting his water well. The driller claims this is misleading people into thinking his water is flammable.
Well. Texas regulators and courts seem to side with the frackers.
This couldn’t happen in Arkansas, could it?
* THE WITCH HUNTERS AT LEGISLATIVE AUDIT: Sen. Bryan King proclaimed it no “witch hunt,” but of course it is. He’s not happy about successful implementation of a portion of the state’s expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. So what does he do? As dictator of the legislature’s auditing committee, he ordered up a harassing audit by the Legislative Audit unit, increasingly a political tool of legislative bullies like King, Kim Hammer and other Republicans with axes to grind against agencies and state employees. This time, a Republican, Rep. John Burris, felt a little of the sting. He’s the Godfdather of Arkobamacare. He called King’s ploy “theatrics.” Well, sure. An audit of an ongoing process that changes daily? Impractical and imprecise for one thing. It is harassment. It is meant to be an impediment. It has the byproduct of adding to the smearing King and GOP Co. have already done by manipulating what once was a strictly nonpartisan operation with a reputation for probity. Legislative Audit is now Bryan King’s SWAT team. He admitted he had no indication of anything amiss. But he hopes to find something. He is the Kenneth Starr of the Arkansas legislature. King, who opposed the Medicaid expansion, said he couldn’t understand how the government could be assigning people to specific health plans. If he’d read the documents, he’d have known that was in the plan from the beginning. He could still do that reading and save auditors’ time for more important matters — such as reviewing Lt. Gov. Mark Darr’s travel expenses.
* FOOD STAMP CUTS FORCE HARD CHOICES: The New York Times brings home the human cost of seemingly small reductions in food stamp allotments that took effect Nov. 1. $10 a month may not seem like much, but to an aging person living on Social Security, it’s a lot of meals and an earlier run to a food pantry for help. When you read, remember that Extremist Rep. Tom Cotton hungers to slash the food stamp program WAY more.