Greene County Commission holds organizational meeting

Corey Cockrell

Garria Spencer

The newly elected Greene County Commission met on November 16, 2022, at the William M. Branch Courthouse for its organizational meeting.
All commissioners were present, including Garria Spencer-District 1, Tennyson Smith-District 2, Corey Cockrell – District 3, Allen Turner – District 4 and Roshanda Summerville – District 5.

Allen Turner, the current Commission Chair turned over the meeting to the attorney to conduct the election for officers. Spencer nominated Tennyson Smith and Summerville nominated Corey Cockrell for Chairperson of the Commission. Corey Cockrell was selected Chair by three votes (Summerville, Cockrell and Turner) to two votes for Smith.

For Vice Chair, Spencer and Summerville were nominated. Garria Spencer received three votes (Smith, Spencer, and Turner) to two votes for Summerville, and was elected Vice Chair. Committees will remain the same, although Turner and Cockrell will switch out their committee assignments.

The Commission agreed to meet on the second Monday of each month at 5:00PM and to hold a work session to hear reports and develop the Commission meeting agenda on the Wednesday, before the second Monday at 5:00 PM. The group agreed to use Robert’s Rules of Order to conduct business.

The Commission will maintain bank accounts with Citizens Trust Bank and Merchants and Farmers Bank, with the Chair, Vice-Chair, CFO-Mac Underwood and County Administrator, Brenda Burke as signatories.

Mac Underwood gave a financial report for the Commission as of October 31, 2022, the first month of the fiscal year, 2022-23. The report showed $6.9 million in Citizens Trust Bank and $3.9 million in Merchants and Farmers, and $872,063 in Bond Sinking Funds. Commissioner Turner asked the CFO to distinguish between restricted and unrestricted funds so that the Commissioners and the public will know that all these funds are not available for discretionary expenditure and only a small amount of funds are not budgeted or required to be spent for specific purposes.

The report also showed that the County Commission spent $1,241,663 for operations during October including $703,850 for Rebuild Alabama road and bridges expenses paid by the State of Alabama. The expenditure report showed the county general fund and agencies had remaining funds in their budget within the range of 90 to 96%, which means that their spending was in conformity with the budget, that allows for 92% of funds to remain for use later in the fiscal year.

In the Public Comments section of the meeting, Mrs. Marilyn Gibson, the Chief Librarian, requested assistance from the Commission to fix a leaking roof, which was endangering the books in the library. “The Commission covers the expenses of the library, including insurance. We had the insurance adjusters to come and look at the damages, but we have not received the report, and we need to fix the roof,” said Ms. Gibson.

Carrie Logan, representing the Eutaw Chamber of Commerce said that the Chamber had secured the Stillman College Band for the Eutaw Christmas parade, however $1,600 was needed to pay for three buses to transport the band members to march and play in the parade. Logan asked for assistance from the Commission toward this expense.

Joe Powell, Chair of the Greene County EMS Board, thanked the Commission for helping the ambulance service meet its financial obligations, including payroll, for the past three months. Powell asked the Commission to attend a meeting with the municipalities and other agencies seeking the long-term viability of the ambulance service for Greene County.

Eutaw holds ‘State of the City’ luncheon

Mayor Latasha Johnson, the Eutaw City Council and the city staff held the second annual ‘State of the City’ luncheon on November 16, 2022, at the Robert H. Young Community Center.

The mayor distributed a printed report on their challenges and successes during the past year.

In her talk, Mayor Johnson highlighted:

• The City has a budget for the second year in a row; this year’s budget has a General Fund with over $3 million in projected revenues and $5 million in total revenues, which are records.

• The City for the fiscal year ending October 2022, has audited financial statements which help qualify for state and Federal funds.

• Based on the budget, funds were borrowed from local banks for street repair equipment and police cars.

• The City of Eutaw reached agreement with the City of Boligee to consolidate its water and sewage systems and secure Federal grant funding for needed improvements.

• Work with the Eutaw Chamber of Commerce to promote and increase business development in the city.

• Purchase and renovate a building ( the current 911 office across from City Hall) to house the police force.

• Assist the Greene County EMS to improve the ambulance service and the Fire Department to acquire a new fire truck.

In concluding her remarks, Mayor Johnson said, “Together we can work to move the City of Eutaw forward for all of its people.”

School Board members installed; school system gets C on state report card

At the Greene County Board of Education’s monthly meeting held Monday November 21, 2022, Dr. Carol Zippert officially opened the meeting and conducted the preliminary items on the agenda, including the presentation of the FY 2021 Audit Report presented by Shelly Patrenos of the Alabama Office of Public Examiners.
Following the Audit Report, Zippert vacated her position at the meeting and two new board members were sworn in – Mr. Robert Davis for District 1 and Mr. Brandon Merriweather for District 2. District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne conducted the installation ceremony as Merriweather’s mother held the Bible for him and Davis’ wife held the Bible for him.
Following the installation, the board re-organization was conducted by Attorney Hank Sanders. After explaining the procedure, Attorney Sanders opened the floor for nominations for Board President. Mr. Merriweather nominated Mr. Leo Branch and Ms. Carrie Dancy nominated herself. Mr. Branch received three votes: Merriweather, Davis and himself; Dancy received two votes:  Verionca Richardson and herself. Sanders called for a motion to accept Mr. Branch as Board President for this term. The vote to accept was unanimous.
Attorney Sanders called for nominations for Vice President and Ms. Dancy nominated Ms. Richardson. No other nominations were offered. Ms. Richardson was also accepted by unanimous vote.
Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones focused his report on the school system’s report card from state testing for the 2021-2022 school term. Grades tested included 3rd, the entire middle school and the 11th grade. According the Dr. Jones, the Greene County School District received a 70 ( C ) on the State Report card, which is the same score the District received  the last time the State Report Card scorer was released in 2018-2019.
The indicator scores for the District were Academic Achievement, Academic Growth, Graduation Rate, College and Career Readiness and Chronic Absenteeism.  The District received 6.64 of the possible 20 points for Academic Achievement. Greene County School District received 27.75 of the possible 30 points for Academic Growth due to the fact that 92.51% of the students tested grew academically during the school year.  The District received 24.32 points of the possible 30 points for the Graduation Rate.  Greene County received 4.60 points of the possible 10 points for the College and Career- Readiness indicator and 7.17 of the possible 10 points for Chronic Absenteeism.
Superintendent Jones noted that the last testing period followed nearly an entire school year of virtual classes due to the pandemic. “At home learning is difficult without proper guidance and supervision. The district will work diligently to improve the scores in each indicator,” he said.
The Superintendent encouraged parents to ensure that our Scholars attend school everyday to decrease Chronic Absenteeism which is when a student is out of school for 18 or more days during the school year regardless if the absence is excused or unexcused. Also, parents are encouraged to enroll our scholars in after school programs and take advantage of summer school to give our scholars the best opportunity to be successful.
The board approved the following personnel items recommended by the superintendent.
Employment: Cassandra Kelley, Long-Term Substitute, Greene County Learning Academy for 2022-2023 School Term; Victoria Moore, Chemistry/Physics Teacher, Greene County High School for 2022-2023 School Term.
Custodian Department: Willie Harkness from full-time Substitute Janitor to 3-day Substitute Janitor at Greene County Career; Jerome Jackson, from split hours at Greene County Career Center to Full-time Janitor at Greene County High School.
2022-2023- Supplemental Contracts: Ephraim Russell, Band Coach, Greene County High School; Henry Miles, Football Coach, Robert Brown Middle School; Quenton Walton, Assistant Football Coach, Robert Brown Middle School; Tavaris Lacy, Assistant Football Coach, Robert Brown Middle School; Marquavis King, Assistant Football Coach, Robert Brown Middle School; Ashley Moody, Cheer Coach, Robert Brown Middle School.
2022-2023 – Robert Brown Supplemental Contracts – Basketball: Henry Miles, 8th Grade Boys Basketball Coach; Marquavis King, Assistant Boys Basketball Coach; Quentin Walton, 7th Grade Boys Basketball Coach; Tavaros Lacy, Assistant Boys Basketball Coach; Shafontaye Myers, Grills Basketball Coach; Ashley Moody, Cheer Coach.
T.E.A.M.S. Contract: KaNeeda Coleman; Havelen Carodine; Elroy Skinner; Tracy Hinton; Dutchess Jones.
After School Tutorial Program-School Nurse: Jacqueline Raby; Dorothy Jones; Brenda Lawrence;
Mentor Teachers for 2022-2023 School Term: Teresa Atkins; Angela White; Kaneeda Coleman; Tura Edwards; Sharron Martin; Siegfried Williams; Felicia Smith; Ashley Moody; Vanessa Bryant; Annie Howard; Raven Bryant; Carolyn Beck; Montoya Binion.
Approval of Mentor Teachers for 2021-2022 School Term: Patricia Rhone; Walter Taylor; Felecia Smith; Rhinnie Scott; Janice Jeames; Raven Bryant; Valerie Moore; Doris Robinson; Rhinnie Scott.
The board approved the following administrative items.
* Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll.
* Approval of September 2022 and October 2022 bank reconciliations as submitted by Marquita Lennon, CSFO.
* Contract Between Greene County Board and Alabama High School Athletic
* 2022-2023 Petroleum Contract between Greene County Board and Pruett Oil Co.
Contract between Greene County Board of Education and Clear Winds Technologies Devise Repair Services.
Contract between Greene County Board and Tiffany Bishop, Education Consultant ACT Prep Facilitator.
CSFO Marquita Lennon presented the following Financial Snapshot as of October 31, 2022.
* General Fund Balance – $2,201,143.62; reconciles to the summary Cash Report.
* Accounts Payable Check Register – $252,142.58.
* Payroll Register – $948,125.20 (total gross pay rot include employer match items).
* Combined Ending fund Balance – $4,707,128.95.Total Local revenue – $ 286,901.

Newswire: Vernice Miller-Travis, a crusader who continues the struggle to weed out environmental racism

Vernice Miller-Travis

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Vernice Miller-Travis has consistently recognized racism, including how race has played a significant role in environmental policy.
She’s the vice chair of Clean Water Action’s board of directors, executive vice president for environmental and social justice at Metropolitan Group, and co-founder of We Act for Environmental Justice.
Miller-Travis said that it’s her job to analyze data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of national priorities.
In that way, she’s able to keep abreast of hazardous waste sites in the United States, including the ones that pose an immediate health and environmental threat.
“You get to see the pattern,” Miller-Travis told National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
“The pattern around the racial composition of who lives in a particular place in proximity to a hazardous waste site is not random,” she said during a riveting conversation inside NNPA’s state-of-the-art television studios in Washington.
The full discussion will air on Chavis’ PBS-TV Show, The Chavis Chronicles.
And when there’s any pushback, Miller-Travis stands at the ready.
“When they ask whether they’re being accused of being racist, I tell them that what I’m saying is that your policies you utilize have an unequal impact that people of color are always adversely affected, not white people.”
Born in 1959 at New York’s Harlem Hospital, where both her parents worked, Miller-Travis said she spent a lot of time at the famed health center.
She attended Barnard College before earning a political science degree from Columbia University’s School of General Studies.
“I started as a researcher working for the civil rights division of a small Protestant Church known as United Church of Christ – the remnants of the church established by the pilgrims,” Miller-Travis said.
As she spoke with National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., for a segment of his PBS-TV show, The Chavis Chronicles, they shared stories about the 40th anniversary of the Warren County, North Carolina protest that officially birthed the movement.
“One of the people leading that struggle was a minister in the United Church of Christ, and he called up to the headquarters in New York City and said, look, we need help. Nobody has talked to us, and the state has not reached out. There have been no briefings, no hearings, no nothing,” Miller-Travis recalled.
“And so, the national church did all they could to help and bring attention to it, but they thought, this is kind of curious.”
She continued: “We need to see if what’s happening in Warren County is endemic to what’s happening in rural North Carolina – is it the southeast? Is it bigger than that? And they hired me as a research assistant to help identify what we would then call environmental injustice and environmental racism, which Dr. Chavis coined the term.”
“And we found that race was the most statistically significant indicator of where hazardous waste sites were located across these United States, not just North Carolina.”
Miller-Travis said her grandmother encouraged her to use her “practical knowledge” as a scientist to understand the circumstances affecting predominately Black communities.
“Nobody was researching the lived experience in terms of environmental impacts on communities of color, on low-income communities, on tribal communities,” Miller-Travis recalled.
“People were focused on endangered species, endangered water bodies – that was where the environmental community’s head was. They were working on hazardous waste issues, but no one was connecting race and environmental threats’ location. So, we were the first folks to do this.”
She continued: “We published a report in 1987 called ‘Toxic Waste and Race in the United States,’ published by the United Church of Christ’s Commission for Racial Justice, which set the whole conversation aloft in this country.
Miller-Travis later traveled to Washington, where the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit took place.
She said she realized then that environmental racism existed throughout the United States.
Miller-Travis helped to adopt the 17 Principles of Environmental Justice, which remains relevant as the world wrestles with climate change, global warming, and a woeful environment.
However, she said she’s optimistic because the Biden-Harris administration has proven aggressive in its approach to these issues.
“This has been the most aggressive White House administration to address environmental injustice and environmental inequities in the history of the United States of America,” Miller-Travis asserted.
“They have policies, objectives, staff, executive orders specifically about environmental injustice in the climate space, and an executive order on addressing systemic racism across the breadth of the federal government.”

Newswire: Karen Bass wins election to become first Black woman Mayor of Los Angeles

Karen Bass at victory celebration

 By Bruce C.T. Wright, NewsOne

Following more than a week of counting ballots and tabulating votes, U.S. Rep Karen Bass was finally projected to win the Los Angeles mayor race and become the first Black woman to ever serve in that role. In fact, Bass is also now the first woman period to ever be elected mayor of Los Angeles.
The Associated Press called the race on Wednesday night with more than 70% of the votes counted as it became apparent that the electoral math wasn’t in the favor of Bass’ billionaire opponent, Caruso.
Mayor-elect Bass “amassed an insurmountable lead of nearly 47,000 votes,” the AP reported. “She had 53.1%, with Caruso notching 46.9%.”
The election was hailed in part as a victory for women.
“Karen Bass’ victory is important to the people of Los Angeles because she is one of us,” Emiliana Guereca, Founder and President of Women’s March Action, said in a statement emailed to NewsOne after the election results were announced. “She will fight for women’s rights, build bridges, help house the homeless, secure federal dollars and bring fresh energy to City Hall. She is going to be a great role model and will make us proud.”
Last week’s election served as a runoff months after neither Bass nor Caruso eclipsed the 50% mark during the primary in June.
At the time, Bass said she was confident of her chances in November and accurately predicted, “we are going to win.”
Bass, a sitting U.S. Congresswoman who has served California’s 37th Congressional District, which includes Los Angeles, since 2010. But she began gearing up for her mayoral run last year and suggested at the time that she was the right person to address Los Angeles’ “humanitarian crisis in homelessness and a public health crisis” from the pandemic.
Caruso, a wealthy real estate developer who similarly ran on a platform that promised to “clean up” homelessness in Los Angeles, where Black people make up 34% of the city’s homeless population, also placed a heavy emphasis on policing.
In a memorable moment during the campaign, Caruso rejected the notion that he is “a white man” during a debate against Bass last month. Caruso claimed his “Latin” heritage as an Italian precludes him from being described as “a white man.”
Caruso is, of course, a white man.
The victory for Bass — a 69-year-old native Angeleno who Joe Biden seriously considered to be his vice-presidential running mate in 2020 — makes her the latest inductee into a growing club of Black mayors of major cities who have been elected in recent years, at least 11 of whom were sworn in this year alone. She will also become the second-ever Black mayor of the city. Tom Bradley served as Los Angeles’ first Black Mayor from 1973-1993.
The current Mayor Eric Garcetti was forced to leave office because of term limits.
Prior to running for mayor, Bass was a core member of the bipartisan Congressional group leading the efforts on a police reform bill. The former Congressional Black Caucus chair has also been an ardent advocate for voting rights particularly for Black people.

Newswire: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries announces bid to replace Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

By Scott Wong and Sahil Kapur, NBC News

WASHINGTON — New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, said Friday that he will run to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the party’s leader after Republicans took back control of the chamber in last week’s midterm elections.
His announcement in a letter to colleagues came a day after Pelosi said in a powerful floor speech that she is stepping down after a two-decade reign as the top leader of House Democrats.

If Jeffries is successful, it would represent a historic passing of the torch: Pelosi made history as the first female speaker of the House, while Jeffries, the current Democratic Caucus chairman, would become the first Black leader of a congressional caucus and highest-ranking Black lawmaker on Capitol Hill. If Democrats were to retake control of the House — a real possibility with Republicans having such a narrow majority — Jeffries would be in line to be the first Black speaker in the nation’s history.
The ascension of the 52-year-old Jeffries to minority leader would also represent generational change. Pelosi and her top two deputies — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. — are all in their 80s and are receiving from within the party for “new blood” in leadership; Hoyer will not seek another leadership post while Clyburn plans to stay on and work with the next generation.
Reps. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., are seeking to round out the new leadership team, announcing Friday that they will run for the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in leadership. Clark, 59, announced a bid for Democratic Whip, while Aguilar, 43, is running for Democratic Caucus Chair.
Pelosi endorsed all three to succeed her leadership team in a statement Friday, saying they are “ready and willing to assume this awesome responsibility.” Clyburn has also endorsed the three, while Hoyer backed Jeffries for leader on Thursday.
“In the 118th Congress, House Democrats will be led by a trio that reflects our beautiful diversity of our nation,” Pelosi said. “Chair Jeffries, Assistant Speaker Clark and Vice Chair Aguilar know that, in our Caucus, diversity is our strength and unity is our power.”
Clyburn, a towering figure in the caucus and close ally of President Joe Biden, called his protege Jeffries “absolutely fantastic” and signaled support for a full slate of younger set of leaders taking the reins of the Democratic leadership apparatus: Jeffries, Clark, and Aguilar

Newswire: Delegates at Climate Confab reach deal to aid poor countries

Drought in East Africa


Nov. 21, 2022 (GIN) – With mere minutes to spare, delegates to the UN climate conference (also called COP27) reached a compromise to create a fund for disadvantaged countries coping with climate disasters worsened by pollution mainly from wealthy nations.
The meeting of over 200 countries, ending after two weeks of talks, put a finishing touch to one of the most contentious issues dogging the U.N. group that saw years of discussion but no agreement on how to phase out fossil fuels or meet the urgent needs of African and other regions of the Global South.
The compromise was a new “loss and damage” fund – a win for poorer nations that have long called for cash — sometimes viewed as reparations — for the costs of destructive storms, heat waves and droughts fueled by global warming. 
The United States and other wealthy countries have long rejected the loss and damage concept, fearing they could be held legally liable for the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.
Although the Americans have now agreed to add to a fund, money must be appropriated by Congress. Last year, the Biden administration sought $2.5 billion in climate finance but secured just $1 billion, and that was when Democrats controlled both chambers. With Republicans in power, who largely oppose climate aid, the prospects for approving an entirely new pot of money appear dim.
Collins Nzovu, Zambia’s minister of green economy and environment, called the latest development “a very positive result for 1.3 billion Africans.” 
But many African climate activists were dismayed by the small steps taken by the global delegates and also by the African delegations who, they said, used the conference to embrace the new scramble for oil and gas on the continent. 
“For any meaningful outcome to be achieved in Egypt,” wrote Tal Harris of Greenpeace, “delegates must listen to the people of Africa – not the fossil fuel sector – and collectively commit to a phase out of all fossil fuels”.
Other outspoken critics of fossil fuel development were Kenyan climate activist Barbra Kangwana of Safe Lamu. The group squashed government efforts to build a coal plant at Lamu, a UNESCO world heritage site, in the name of boosting the national electricity supply.
“The community raised its voice, lobbied, signed petitions, went to court, and eventually the people won,” she said.
Patience Nabukalu, an activist from Uganda, has been organizing against an East African crude oil pipeline (EACOP), calling it “a clear example of colonial exploitation in Africa and across the global south.”
“EACOP is not going to develop our country: peoples’ land was taken, leaving many homeless and poor and critical ecosystems and biodiversity at risk of oil spills such as lake Victoria, rivers, National Parks, animals and birds, as well as aquatic life. We remain hopeful and vigilant as banks and insurers have withdrawn their support. We will continue to resist until everyone involved abandons it completely.”
“The fossil fuel industry has degraded our people, our lands, our oceans and our air,” charged Mbong Akiy with Greenpeace Africa. “Enough is enough. No matter how many deals they sign, no matter how many bribes they pay, or how fancy the suits they wear: we shall wait for them in our communities, we will wait for them on the frontlines. 
“We will not stop until we see a complete transition to clean, renewable energy that is guaranteed to take millions of Africans out of energy poverty… . In South Africa we have won against big oil, we sent Shell packing, and we will send them all packing again.”
“Fossil fuel production, if adopted, will stop Africa from leapfrogging towards a renewable and clean energy future,” said Dean Bhekumuzi Bhebhe of Powershift Africa. “We pledge to continue pushing for The Africa We Want beyond COP27.” 

Newswire : Young researcher from Ivory Coast tapped for women in science prize

Adjata Kamara, scientific researcher

Nov. 14, 2022 (GIN) – Twenty-five-year-old Adjata Kamara’s specialized research into plant-based biopesticides brought her to the attention of the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO – two organizations which aim to give visibility to women researchers worldwide. 
This week, Kamara was among 20 young women working in science to receive the UNESCO/L’Oreal prize. She had been exploring the use of plant extracts, fungi and beneficial bacteria on yams rather than chemicals which, she said, depletes the soil. Yams are a root that is highly prized in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The prize allows me to show my research to other women, to other countries and it puts a little pressure on me because I tell myself that now I have to be a role model for young girls in science,” she said.
Adjata explains that her goal is to develop “biopesticides based on plant extracts, fungi and beneficial bacteria,” in order to treat without chemicals this anomaly that disrupts the production of a plant that is the basis of staple food in several regions of Africa.
“I work on the development of biopesticides based on plant extracts, bacteria and also fungi. These bacteria and fungi are said to be beneficial and so I’m trying to find methods to control the fungi that attack post-harvest yams,” said Adjata.
Adjata is one of the twenty laureates of the “For women in science” young talent prize from sub-Saharan Africa who will receive US$10,000 to help them in their work.
She explained her interest in the field: “From an early age, my father had a mango plantation. And this plantation was attacked by mushrooms, but at that time we did not know it. And as the years passed, there was a drop in production. And from then on, I wanted to know why these mangoes were being attacked (by fungi), and why production was falling. And it’s since then that I devoted myself to it and that I loved science.”

Newswire : Wes Moore wins Maryland, becomes third elected Black governor in American history

Wes Moore campaigning with President Biden

By Hamil R. Harris

( – Wes Moore, the son of a single mother who rose to become a Rhodes Scholar, Army Captain and best selling author, was elected as the governor of Maryland on Tuesday. Moore is not only Maryland’s first African-American governor, but only the third Black person elected as governor following L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.
“Thank you Maryland! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Maryland!” said Moore during an acceptance speech standing with his wife, children and mother in Baltimore. “What an amazing night and what an improbable journey.”
During his speech, Moore thanked outgoing Republican Governor Larry Hogan who supported him over Donald Trump-backed opponent on a night when results show a politically divided country.
But Moore looked at the racially mixed crowd and said, “You believed in this moment: our state could be bolder. You believed in this moment our state could go faster.”
In a glorious tribute, Moore thanked his wife, children and his mother. But the Moore victory came on a tough night for both Republicans and Democrats who are still awaiting which party will control the House and the Senate.
Among other key races:
In Georgia, Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams lost her rematch with Gov. Brian Kemp 53.4 percent-45.9 percent.
Also in Georgia, Sen. Raphael Warnock appears to have narrowly defeated former NFL star Herschel Walker 49.42 percent-48.52 percent. But that race is headed to a run-off because neither candidate got 51 percent of the vote Dec. 6.
In Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman defeated Trump-backed Dr. Mehmet Oz. 
Republican JD Vance defeated Democrat Tim Ryan in Ohio.
In Wisconsin, Democrat Mandela Barnes is trailing Republican Ron Johnson 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent with 98 percent of the votes counted.
Republicans appear to have won control of the U. S. House of Representatives by a slim margin because in the state of Florida the GOP gained four new seats after redistricting. Control of the Senate was still too close to call.  
With heated races and millions of people voting, election protection was very much on the minds of civil rights activists across the US. A network of “poll chaplains” stood outside precincts across the country to pray and ensure that voters exercised their right to vote on Election Day.
Reminiscent of the days when civil rights activists faced racism, police dogs, and poll taxes, Organizers of the “Faith United to Save Democracy Campaign recruited, trained, and mobilized faith leaders of many races to promote peace at the polls.
“We have recruited and trained more than 700 poll chaplains in 10 states who are committed to providing a peaceful and calming presence at polling sites across America,” said Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Coordinator of FUSD. “This is the time of year when misinformation and disinformation are heightened to discourage vulnerable voters from making it to the polls.”
Skinner said she was moved to organize such an effort after the 2020 elections when conservatives in 49 states proposed 440 anti-voting measures 19 states passed 33 laws making it harder to vote, including laws that prohibited food and water from being given to people waiting in line to vote.
Skinner said while in previous years the focus was on turning out the “Black Vote,” the focus was expanded to include people of many races because “Jews and Muslims and Quakers were affected and in effect, these laws also would have an impact on people, “young and old, Latino, white, Native American and we could not afford to keep our focus so narrow.”
Rev. Gerald Durley, the retired pastor of the Provident Baptist Church in Atlanta, has worked hard to get people to vote. He said he wouldn’t just take the word of his grandchildren. “I had my grandchildren send me photos showing that they voted because it is just that important,” Durley said. “We can’t afford a runoff because you just don’t know what will happen.”
Last month pastors in Georgia announced a massive effort to ensure that over 1,000 local churches, synagogues, mosques, and other faith institutions create their own customized voter engagement campaigns to provide every person within their local congregations has the information and ability to vote this Fall.
“In 2020, African-Americans in Georgia made voting history, and we are clearly on the verge of doing it once again,” said AME Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, the Presiding Prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District and a founding member of Faith Works. “Despite every effort by extremists to minimize Black turnout this voting cycle, our communities are responding like never before with urgency and enthusiasm. With early voting finally rolling out next week, Georgia will see that our communities are organized and determined.”
Meanwhile, on the eve of the election, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden came to the campus of Bowie State University in Maryland to rally supporters for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore. “I am so thankful for the first family to be here,” Moore said. “If we stand divided, we can not win. If we stand together, we can not lose. Democracy is not just a day. Democracy is not just a single act; it is an honored commitment.”
By lunchtime on Election Day, the Washington DC command center of Faith United was staffed and filled with volunteers to answer calls coming in from across the country. Rev. Jim Wallace, Chair and Director of the Faith and Justice Center at Georgetown University, was happy to report that things were quiet during the first half of Election Day. The Command Center will continue to monitor the voting situation in 10 key battleground states: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.
“Despite voter suppression laws, people have been coming to the polls,” Wallace said. “More than 2.5 million people have voted, and Democracy is on the move.”

Newswire : Voters in deep red South Dakota approve Medicaid Expansion

By: Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

It is set to be seventh state to expand Medicaid through a ballot measure
Defying their right-wing political leaders, South Dakota voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, a move that will extend public health insurance coverage to around 45,000 low-income people.
With Tuesday’s vote, which currently sits at 56% in favor of the amendment and 44% against, South Dakota is set to become the seventh state to expand Medicaid through a ballot measure, keeping the undefeated streak for Medicaid initiatives intact.
“We’re glad that South Dakota voters saw that helping our neighbors get healthcare is the right thing to do,” Dave Kapaska, a retired hospital executive and co-chair of the American Heart Association’s volunteer cabinet for Medicaid expansion, said in a statement sent out by South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, the group that led the ballot campaign.
Approval of the ballot measure came months after South Dakotans rejected a GOP-backed constitutional amendment that raised the threshold for passage of most ballot initiatives from a simple majority to 60%, which would have spelled defeat for Medicaid expansion.
Prior to Tuesday, South Dakota was among  a dozen Republican controlled states, including Alabama, that refused to expand Medicaid coverage under the ACA, depriving millions of people across the U.S. of life saving care Under current South Dakota law, as Vox’s Dylan Scott explained Wednesday, “childless adults of working age cannot qualify for coverage at all.”
Medicaid is expanded despite opposition from the state’s Republican legislature and GOP Gov. Kristi Noem.
“Pregnant women, children, and the elderly can currently receive Medicaid benefits, but working parents must have a very low income—less than 63% of the federal poverty level, about $17,500 for a family of four—to enroll,” Scott added.
Zach Marcus, the campaign manager for South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, said in a statement that “there are thousands of people in South Dakota who are stuck in the middle.”
“They’re people who are making too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but still don’t make enough money to qualify for insurance on their own,” said Marcus.
Once Medicaid is expanded in South Dakota despite opposition from the state’s Republican legislature and GOP Gov. Kristi Noem, people between the ages of 18 and 65 who earn less than 138% of the federal poverty line—roughly $37,000 a year—will be eligible for coverage under the program.
“A dozen years after passage of Obamacare, there is still ideological opposition among many red state politicians to expanding Medicaid,” noted Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “When voters have been able to weigh in directly like in South Dakota, the results are different.”