Thumbs Up for Doylestown Mayor Ron Strouse for using his position to support the extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars workplace discrimination based on race, sex, religion or national origin, to also protect members of the LGBT community from being terminated based on sexual orientation.
We don’t believe that businesses should be able to fire people just for being gay or transgender. But that’s what Don Zarda, of New York, Gerald Lynn Bostock, of Georgia, and Amiee Stephens, of Michigan, are claiming happened to them in 2010, 2012 and 2013, respectively. Attorneys handling their cases, which are proceeding through the court system, are attempting to argue the Civil Rights Act’s provision related to gender should cover those in the LGBT community.
Strouse recently made an amicus curiae filing to become “a friend of the court” in the cases. It doesn’t give him status to challenge a court ruling, but it does serve as a sort of petition in support of the plaintiffs in these cases. He joins about 100 officials in about 25 states in the endeavor being mounted by the Public Rights Project, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy group.
We suspect Strouse’s decision to stick his neck out on this issue will prompt some borough residents to vote against him the next time his seat is up for re-election. But we hope it earns him some support as well.
For years, we’ve been closely following the U.S. Department of Defense’s response to the discovery of toxic PFAS chemicals in water wells used by more than 70,000 local residents near current and former military bases where firefighting foams containing the chemicals were used since the 1970s. So we weren’t surprised to learn government officials knew about — but did little to address — the ways residents could be exposed to the chemicals beyond drinking water from their wells.
Still, the U.S. Navy gets a Thumbs Down for showing, once again, that ducking culpability while minimizing and delaying its response took priority over protecting residents from the contamination it caused.
Thousands of pages of recently obtained internal documents, which reporters Kyle Bagenstose and Jenny Wagner reviewed, yielded a number of instances in recent years in which environmental experts counseled Navy officials to evaluate exposure pathways other than drinking water. Examples include consumption of crops fertilized with waste from treatment plants and fish caught in nearby ponds and streams.
But it seems the advice was either ignored or considered but then dismissed. In one case, a remedial project manager for the Navy sent word to the East Coast director of the Navy’s Base Realignment and Closure program that he could evaluate potential fish exposure pathways in Warminster. The director responded telling him to “hold off on that course of action” until higher-ranking officials could weigh in.
We’re not sure what happened after that, but the communications office of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry told us last month that fish near the bases still had not been tested. We wish that came as a surprise.
Thumbs Up to Bucks County for its commitment to have new voting machines in place in time for the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary. The machines will produce paper ballots to meet Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s deadline for counties to upgrade their systems by the 2020 General Election.
Replacing the Commonwealth’s antiquated voting machines is meant to better protect them from hacking and create a fail-safe in the event of a malfunction that corrupts a machine’s memory.
We’ve long supported the changeover, but were concerned that, while Montgomery County had its new machines ready for the 2019 primary, Bucks did not budget for them this year. County officials said they’ll likely borrow the money. No word yet on what it will cost, but Bucks County spent $4 million in 2006 upgrading its 900 lever machines and Montgomery County’s recent upgrade totaled $5.8 million.
Wolf has pledged to help counties cover the cost. His administration plans to float a $90 million bond that’d be used to reimburse each county for 60% of the cost. Some federal money is also available.