Dallas Morning News Endorses Beto O’Rourke


Dallas Morning News Endorses Beto O’Rourke

Marina Fang, HuffPost           October 25, 2018
Beto O’Rourke hits early polling place in Houston, holds mini-rally ahead of Trump’s huge rally.
Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke landed another major endorsement Thursday, this one from The Dallas Morning News, whose editorial board hailed the El Paso congressman’s “inclusive and hopeful tone” over that of opponent Sen. Ted Cruz (R), calling the incumbent “a cutting figure in today’s politics.”


In explaining its endorsement, the paper’s editorial board said O’Rourke had run “a campaign that’s based on unifying communities,” arguing that “the pivotal issue before our country is public leadership, and here we believe O’Rourke’s tone aligns with what is required now.”

“In the divisive times in which we live, we believe that tone and leadership are the top issues with which to judge these candidates’ tenures in office. So we’re placing a bet on Beto,” the paper wrote.

The board made it clear that it does not agree with some of his more progressive policy positions but celebrated O’Rourke’s “demeanor that offers respect for each person and a humbleness that will allow him to open the door to working with those who hold political views different from his” ― noting, for example, his bipartisan friendship with Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas).

In explaining its endorsement of Beto O’Rourke for Senate in Texas, The Dallas Morning News editorial board said he had run “a campaign that’s based on unifying communities.”

But the paper also called out what it sees as “blemishes on his campaign,” citing O’Rourke’s support for impeaching President Donald Trump and his adoption of Trump’s name-calling against Cruz as departures from the unifying tone of his campaign.

Last week, O’Rourke also earned the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle. The paper endorsed Cruz in 2012.

“A ‘Beto’ victory would be good for Texas, not only because of his skills, both personal and political, but also because of the manifest inadequacies of the man he would replace,” the Chronicle’s editorial board wrote.

During the 2012 election, The Dallas Morning News endorsed Cruz’s Democratic opponent, Paul Sadler, but also endorsed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In 2016, it endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, breaking from a long tradition of backing GOP presidential contenders.

The Senate race between O’Rourke and Cruz is one of the most highly watched matchups in this year’s midterm elections, with the result expected to be closer than usual for the traditionally Republican state. O’Rourke’s candidacy has sparked grassroots enthusiasm among Democrats and drawn heavy fundraising.

Read the full Dallas Morning News editorial here.

Walmart want’s to redevelop their parking lots into bustling town centers 

Atlanta Business Chronicle

Walmart exec in Atlanta: We want to redevelop our parking lots into bustling town centers

Amy Wenk, Staff Writer, Atlanta Business Chronicle    October 24, 2018


The nation’s largest retailer wants to redevelop its sprawling parking lots into bustling town centers.

Walmart is evaluating whether to transform underused land at its stores across the U.S. (including metro Atlanta) into new offerings, such as restaurants, shops, food halls, parks, entertainment venues and more, said a top executive with Walmart during an Oct. 23 retail conference in Atlanta.

It’s a new concept called the “Walmart Town Center,” said LB Johnson, vice president of U.S. Realty Operations for Walmart, the keynote speaker at the 2018 International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Southeast Conference & Deal Making.

“We want to provide community space, areas for the community to dwell – a farmer’s market, an Easter egg hunt, trick or treating,” Johnson said. “We want to provide pedestrian connectivity from our box to the experiential zones that are planned on our footprint. We want to augment these experiences and activities with more food and beverage, with health and fitness, essential services and entertainment.”

Walmart plans to break ground next spring on a Town Center project, transforming a Supercenter in Loveland, Colo. There, the retailer owns 12 acres of vacant land next to the store and 6 to 8 acres of parking field (typical for a Supercenter), Johnson said.

“A transformation is underway,” Johnson said. “We are working with the local community to really master plan a vision, not only for Walmart, but shared with the municipality. We are using terms like collaboration space. We are thinking through dwelling space … We are going to hold ourselves accountable to the community to improving well being.”

According to a fly-through video about the Town Center concept shown at the Atlanta retail conference, Walmart could possibly add restaurants such as Bartaco, Shake Shack and Chipotle, and retailers such as Orangetheory Fitness and bowling alley Pinstripes. It also suggested other uses such as fuel pumps, pet stores and urgent care.

Walmart on a website shows multiple plans for projects, including in Springfield, Mo., and Windsor Heights, Iowa.

When asked if Walmart would consider Town Center projects in metro Atlanta, Johnson said yes, especially since there are large parking fields at its stores here. He also said Walmart could look to add other uses to its sites, such as apartments, to create a live, work, play environment.

“So as we begin to look across the country and evaluate the Walmart Town Center opportunities, we will be tapping the talent, expertise and partnership from members of this community to support our efforts,” Johnson told the ICSC conference attendees on Oct. 23.

Consider the amount of real estate.

Across the U.S., Walmart has 5,358 stores, including 3,561 Supercenters and 597 Sam’s Clubs, according to a March 30 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Georgia has the fifth-largest number of Walmart-owned stores in the U.S., with 215 stores, including 154 Supercenters and 24 Sam’s Clubs.

Only Texas (601), Florida (380), California (320) and North Carolina (217) have more stores.

“They certainly own an incredible amount of real estate,” said Atlanta retail veteran Penelope Cheroff, president of The Cheroff Group Ltd. “They would be in a catbird seat to develop those sites.”

Especially, she said, if Walmart targets markets where land prices have soared since they opened their stores. Prime sites could include Walmart stores at Cumberland, Perimeter and Mall of Georgia.

“It makes a lot of sense especially if they are looking at those markets that have densified and grown up around them,” Cheroff said.

Republican politician worried about what will happen ‘if everyone exercises their right to vote’

The Independent

Shehab Khan, The Independent      October 24, 2018 

Trump Is Making Baseless Claims About the Migrant Caravan


President Trump Is Making Baseless Claims About the Migrant Caravan. Here Are the Facts

Katie Reilly, Time       October 22, 2018

China opens mega-bridge linking Hong Kong to mainland

China opens mega-bridge linking Hong Kong to mainland

Dake Kang, Associated Press        October 23, 2018

Shep Smith Methodically Fact-Checks Both Fox News And Trump On Live TV


Ed Mazza, HuffPost        October23, 2018

Andrew Gillum’s Vision for America Should Be Every Democrat’s Closing Argument

Monty Python Icon John Cleese Has 2 Brutal Questions For Evangelical Trump Fans


Monty Python Icon John Cleese Has 2 Brutal Questions For Evangelical Trump Fans

Ed Mazza, HuffPost        October 22, 2018

This Community is Addressing Food Insecurity

Civil Eats

This Community is Addressing Food Insecurity, One Grocery Store at a Time

Public school families and others created the United Parents and Students’ Store of Excellence Award, which aims to reward stores selling better and healthier food.

By Lela Nargi, Food Deserts, Food Justice      October 22, 2018


This past August, an advocacy group comprised of local public-school families from Inglewood, South Los Angeles, and East Los Angeles held a celebratory shopping day at a three-month-old Grocery Outlet franchise. Some 75 families from the group, United Parents & Students (UPAS), along with a host of other locals, descended on the Inglewood store, boosting its sales for the day; the store also gifted one UPAS family with free groceries.

The event feted the Inglewood store’s second month as a “Store of Excellence,” an honor that commended them for things like being clean and clean-smelling and carrying several kinds of fresh produce. And while this may seem like a low bar, the award grew out of a deep, abiding, and multi-tentacled history of food injustice in certain underserved parts of Los Angeles County. There, residents have long had to rely on a preponderance of small stores for a limited selection of often-sour milk, stale bread—what’s dark-humoredly referred to as “green meat and brown vegetables”—and, more dependably, soda and beer, pork rinds, and candy.

Discolored meat on sale at a grocery store. (Photo courtesy UPAS)

Discolored meat on sale at a grocery store. (Photo courtesy UPAS)

UPAS, which is funded by a mix of philanthropy and service contracts, has 12,000 member volunteers dedicated to strengthening their communities as well as 12 full-time paid employees. In 2017, its food justice committee developed the Store of Excellence award to incentivize its neighborhoods’ few grocery stores to either improve or, in the case of new outposts like the Grocery Outlet, remain satisfactory.

Their efforts represent a renewed fervor among frustrated citizen activists to claim “the power to make changes themselves,” says Veronica Toledo, the organization’s associate director. “These families know they deserve high-quality, nutritious food”—food that has been unavailable in their communities for more time than anyone cares to ponder.

Californians living in whiter and better-resourced areas may take for granted a ubiquity of pristine Trader Joe’s and Ralphs and specialty grocers. But these stores have rarely been willing to set foot in L.A.’s lower-income neighborhoods, claiming they don’t fit their demographic. Instead, these neighborhoods have experienced a preponderance of liquor stores, often hubs for crime and vagrancy that in 1992 bore the brunt of community ire during the uprising that followed the acquittal of police officers in the beating of Rodney King; an estimated 200 were burned to the ground.

To many residents’ relief, the city imposed health and safety mandates that effectively blocked some of those shops from reopening as recovery commenced. Everyone hoped grocery stores would move in in their wake. And they have, on and—more often—off. Currently, about 20 groceries serve the 1.5 million residents of these neighborhoods.

“People lambaste certain individuals and say, ‘Make good [food] choices!’ But first, they have to have a choice,” says Mary Lee, consultant at national advocacy organization PolicyLink, who worked on the liquor store mandates. Although the county hands out public health grades to outlets that sell food, she says they don’t take cleanliness or produce quality into account; instead, they grade only on the condition of prepared foods, freezer temperatures, and expiration dates on baby formula.

The 200 parent and student members of the food justice committee are determined to close the gap in this oversight. To date, they’ve sent volunteers, unannounced, to preliminarily assess 15 stores. At some—even those that earned grades of at least 90 percent from the health department—they’ve found everything from flies in display cases and mold on cheese to high prices and lousy customer service.

Moldy cheese on sale at a grocery store. (Photo courtesy UPAS)

Moldy cheese on sale at a grocery store. (Photo courtesy UPAS)

“There was no true accountability system, so we knew we had to develop our own,” Toledo says.

Developing a Grocery ‘Report Card’

UPAS approached Breanna Morrison, a policy analyst at the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, for her input; she’d previously helped a neighborhood food watch program come up with guidelines for retailers.

The group used Morrison’s suggestions to craft a “report card” that prioritized things like offerings of un-expired meat and dairy and at least 10 kinds of produce in good condition, keeping floors mopped, and making sure parking lots were well-lit. Stores that made consistent improvements would be given a 30-day probation period in which to maintain or further improve conditions, en route to the Excellence seal.

In return, UPAS would pledge to heavily promote deserving stores to its constituents and its 40 partner nonprofits and churches, announcing promotional shopping days on social media and touting the outlet as a good community partner deserving of their business. Toledo reports that many families continue to shop at the Inglewood Grocery Outlet, still pleased with its conditions and service.

“It’s a way to say, not so much [that stores] are good- or bad-quality, but ones [people] want to contribute to,” says Lee, pointing out that Baldwin Park, about 15 miles east of East L.A., had success in getting corner stores to offer healthier foods with a program similar to the one UPAS is running.

Food justice volunteers have also moved beyond their initial incognito assessments to meet with a few store managers, including at a Numero Uno market in South L.A. Volunteers made suggestions for improvements, many of which have been addressed—although as of press time the store remains on probation for an Excellence award. “Consistency is a real issue,” according to Toledo. Nevertheless, a Northgate Gonzalez Market in South L.A. has managed to improve enough to receive the seal, which UPAS will award next month.

Long-Term Goals

Inglewood Grocery Outlet receiving the UPAS Store of Excellence Award. (Photo courtesy of UPAS)

Inglewood Grocery Outlet receiving the UPAS Store of Excellence Award. (Photo courtesy of UPAS)

Over the long-term, Lee wonders, will UPAS “be able to continually monitor compliance and cooperation on the part of merchants?”

Toledo says that’s not their long-term goal. “We don’t pretend to be the grocery police,” she maintains. The group recently produced a white paper recommending that city officials implement and enforce more rigorous health regulations for groceries, according to the standards UPAS has devised for their report card; UPAS hopes they’ll recognize the importance of such oversight, and be compelled to act.

For Morrison, UPAS’s efforts—as well as those undertaken by other advocates over the decades, like bringing in farmers’ markets and community gardens and giving more support to corner stores trying to improve their offerings—are signs that positive, hopefully enduring changes are underway.

“The fact that there’s even a Grocery Outlet in Inglewood is indicative of forward momentum,” she says. “That didn’t exist two or three years ago.”

Perhaps even more heartening, Morrison adds, “Students and parents doing this work in their communities are realizing they have the agency to create the change they want to see in their neighborhoods. That is powerful transformation in and of itself.”

Time to stand up to these Toxic Republi-cons who are destroying the Middle Class


Angry Diners Confront Mitch McConnell In Louisville Restaurant

 Mary Papenfuss, HuffPost       October 21, 2018