Police: Utah mall shooting that wounded 2 was gang dispute
By BRADY McCOMBS
Monday, January 14
MURRAY, Utah (AP) — A shooting at a suburban Salt Lake City mall that sent hundreds of panicked shoppers fleeing started as an argument between rival gang members inside the mall and later erupted in gunfire outside, leaving two people wounded, police said Monday.
Two 19-year-old men were arrested on suspicion of attempted aggravated murder, but investigators are not yet sure if either of them fired the shots that hit the victims, who were also involved in the fight, said Kenny Bass, a police spokesman in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray.
Shots were fired by the both sides, and those injured were believed to be people with the gangs. No bystanders were hit or injured, Bass said.
Compounding the pandemonium, a fire alarm at the Fashion Place mall that had been malfunctioning for days went off inside the mall, sending people running for exits, Bass said.
Shoppers reported hearing the alarm after the shooting started about 1:30 p.m. and evacuation orders over a loudspeaker, while employees said they hunkered down in stockrooms and waited.
The first alarm was inadvertent and happened seconds before the shooting from the food court, triggering a subsequent message on the loudspeaker that it was false, said Lindsay Kahn, spokeswoman for Chicago-based Brookfield Properties, which owns the mall. After the shooting, a second message was played telling people to evacuate or take shelter, Kahn said in a statement.
“We recognize this created confusion and was truly an unfortunate coincidence,” Kahn said.
Kahn said the company is reviewing security measures, but declined to disclose details.
Mauricio Caballero heard the gunfire from the B’Hood clothing cart where he works and ran to find a friend before racing out of the mall. He said it was the third time in a month the fire alarm sounded randomly, but Caballero said he thinks the alarm helped people who did not hear the gunfire get to safety quickly
“The universe is taking care of us,” said Caballero, 21.
Investigators are still looking for others involved in the dispute and trying to locate more witnesses, Bass said.
The members of the rival gangs crossed paths by chance in the mall and their argument turned physical after it went outside, Bass said.
One of the two victims, a woman in her early 20s, was treated and released hours after the shooting broke out, Bass said.
A man, also in his early 20s, remained hospitalized Monday in critical condition.
The suspects were identified as Jesus J. Payan-Mendoza and Jorge Crecencio-Gonzalez. No attorney was listed in court records for either man.
Fashion Place is a popular shopping center in the heart of the Salt Lake City metro area. It was open Monday, with an increased police presence.
Shopper Sean Sasso stopped by the mall to before going to work as a pharmacy technician, saying he had heard about the shooting.
“I’m not going to live my life in fear and not come to the mall because there was a shooting yesterday,” Sasso said.
Corey Robison took his three young children to get breakfast and walk around the mall while his wife went to a doctor’s appointment nearby.
“I feel like it’s unlikely to happen ever again,” said Robison, a graphic designer from California who has lived in Utah for three years.
A 2007 shooting at a different Salt Lake City mall killed five people and wounded four others. The 18-year-old gunman was killed in a shootout with police.
Associated Press writer Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.
3 reasons to pay attention to the LA teacher strike
January 15, 2019
Assistant Professor of Higher Education, West Virginia University
Erin McHenry-Sorber does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: West Virginia University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
The first mass teacher labor action of 2019 is unfolding in California as the United Teachers Los Angeles walked out for the first time in 30 years.
This strike, which began on Jan. 14, isn’t just important to people in Los Angeles. Here are three reasons the nation should pay attention.
1. The Los Angeles case is different
The Los Angeles strike stands out because of the size of the district.
With 640,000 students, and about 500,000 enrolled in the district’s public schools, Los Angeles represents the second largest school district in the United States. The only bigger district is New York City.
The Los Angeles strike involves 34,000 teachers. To compare, the statewide 2018 teacher strike in West Virginia – where I am researching teacher strikes and teacher shortages – involved about 20,000 teachers and affected approximately 270,000 students.
Also, the political context is different. When West Virginia teachers walked out of the classroom, they were battling a conservative state legislature in a largely rural, majority-white state. Los Angeles is urban, far more diverse, and located in a state that has voted mostly Democratic in presidential elections since 1992.
Los Angeles Unified School District’s student population is 73 percent Latino, 10.5 percent white, 8.2 percent black and 4.2 percent Asian. The district serves over 150,000 students whose first language is not English.
The situation for the Los Angeles teachers union is also different in several ways. For instance, it is engaged in an active fight against the rapid growth of charter schools. Los Angeles is home to the largest number of charter schools in the U.S. with 277.
Since 2008, the charter industry in Los Angeles has grown 287 percent. According to the Los Angeles teachers union, this is effectively siphoning US$550 million per year from the district’s traditional public schools.
The union argues that Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent, Austin Beutner, is a pro-charter school superintendent with no education experience.
The teachers union has proposed greater transparency and more accountability for Los Angeles charter schools and has called for an immediate cap on charter school growth in the school district. The district has provided no counter offer to these demands.
Teachers in Los Angeles have negotiated the current contract under dispute for over 20 months, and have been working without a contract for over a year. This is not uncommon. For example, teachers in Oakland, California, have been working without a contract for more than a year. And a recent contract resolution following a Pennsylvania school district strike came after teachers worked without a contract for three and a half years.
2. It’s not just about better pay
Like strikes in Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado and North Carolina, the Los Angeles teachers’ strike is essentially about greater investment in public education.
For the Los Angeles teachers, this includes a 6.5 percent salary increase to make up for what the union calls “stagnant wages.”
The average teacher makes almost 19 percent less in wages than comparable workers. In California, specifically, this figure is about 15 percent. Los Angeles teachers make between $50,000 and $80,000, but the cost of living in LA is so high that a two-bedroom apartment requires a six-figure income. This means many teachers have second or even third jobs.
But beyond wages, teachers have begun to demand a greater commitment to investment in public education from their governing bodies, either school boards or state legislatures.
In Oklahoma for example, striking teachers protested inadequate instructional materials, including outdated and deteriorating textbooks. And in Los Angeles, striking teachers are demanding, among other things, a reduction in classroom sizes, which can be up to 46 students in some classrooms based on their current contract. Teachers argue that the large class sizes make it difficult to meet the needs of their students.
They also want an increase in school nurses, librarians and counselors.
These issues get at the heart of student learning. Students need adequate supplies, individual teacher attention and access to mental health services, such as counselors, if they are expected to thrive in the classroom.
But the ability for public schools to provide for all of these instructional and social support needs has become increasingly difficult as states have continued to under fund their public education systems.
3. Los Angeles strike could spur other teacher strikes
The Los Angeles teachers strike suggests that the wave of teacher protests is not over.
Teacher strikes and work stoppages have been preceded by a nationwide teacher shortage that continues to grow across many states, which do not have enough certified math, special education, science, and in increasing cases, elementary teachers – to meet the needs of their students. In California 80 percent of districts reported a teacher shortage in the 2017 to 2018 school year. Teacher shortages are most often blamed on low teacher pay, one of the commonalities across teacher strikes.
These shortages are arguably exacerbated by an increase in the “teacher pay penalty,” the term used to describe disparities in teacher salary compared to professions requiring comparable levels of education.
At the same time teachers find themselves increasingly undervalued, most states are still funding their public education systems at levels below that of the 2008 recession. This includes California, which is ranked 41st nationwide in per pupil spending when adjusted for cost of living.
As long as public schools remain underfunded, the nation can expect to see more teacher strikes in other school districts and states in the near future.
Democrats celebrate crop of new governors who took GOP seats
By JOHN HANNA
AP Political Writer
Monday, January 14
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democrats are celebrating capturing governor’s offices in seven states previously led by Republicans, including new chief executives taking office Monday in red-leaning Kansas and solidly blue Illinois.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker were the last two new Democratic governors to be sworn in after last year’s midterms. Democrats also turned over governor’s offices in Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada and Wisconsin, where Gov. Tony Evers ousted two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a national conservative figure and a one-time presidential hopeful.
Democrats hold the governor’s office in 23 states, compared with 27 for Republicans, who lost a net total of six while retaining them in hard-fought races such as Florida and Georgia. Democrats were buoyed by the possibility some victories could signal a resurgence in the Midwest, where President Donald Trump did well in 2016.
Kelly and Pritzker took their oaths within an hour of each other but offered a stark contrast in personal profiles and political contexts. Kelly, the 68-year-old daughter of a career military officer, was a veteran state senator, while Pritzker is the 53-year-old heir to the Hyatt hotel chain.
Kelly’s victory last year broke the GOP’s dominance over state government, and she promised a bipartisan administration — a necessity because Republicans still hold super majorities in the Legislature. She defeated Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who had Trump’s endorsement.
“Let the insults and the finger-pointing give way to compromise and a hand shake,” Kelly told a crowd of a few thousand people outside the Kansas Statehouse. “We need to put down the partisan swords and lift up the values that unite us.”
Pritzker’s defeat of GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner cemented Democrats’ dominance in Illinois after a divided government worsened its financial woes. Rauner clashed with the Democrats who control the Legislature, contributing to the longest stretch without an annual budget of any state since the Great Depression and driving the state’s credit rating to the brink of “junk” status.
“We must begin a new century with new maturity and enough foolishness to believe we can make a difference,” he said. “That starts with leadership that abandons single-minded, arrogant notions. No, everything is not broken.”
Evers took office in Wisconsin last week, calling for a rejection of “the tired politics of the past” and bipartisan solutions to the state’s biggest issues.
New GOP Govs. Brian Kemp, of Georgia; Mike DeWine, of Ohio, and Kevin Stitt, of Oklahoma, also took office Monday, succeeding fellow Republicans.
DeWine led a GOP sweep of nonjudicial statewide offices after getting campaign help from Trump. He followed term-limited GOP Gov. John Kasich, a frequent Trump critic, and promised to serve his state with “an eye to the future and with great optimism.”
Associated Press writers John O’Connor in Springfield, Illinois, and Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.
Iowa’s Steve King off House committees after race remarks
By MATTHEW DALY and LAURIE KELLMAN
Tuesday, January 15
WASHINGTON (AP) — Veteran Republican Rep. Steve King will be blocked from committee assignments for the next two years after lamenting that white supremacy and white nationalism have become offensive terms.
King, in his ninth term representing Iowa, will not be given committee assignments in the Congress that began this month, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Monday night. King served on the Agriculture, Small Business and Judiciary committees in the last Congress, and he chaired Judiciary’s subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
McCarthy, R-Calif., called King’s remarks “beneath the dignity of the Party of Lincoln and the United States of America.”
King’s comments “call into question whether he will treat all Americans equally, without regard for race and ethnicity,” McCarthy said, adding: “House Republicans are clear: We are all in this together, as fellow citizens equal before God and the law.”
The action by the GOP steering committee came after King and McCarthy met Monday to discuss the remarks on white supremacy, the latest in a years-long pattern of racially insensitive remarks by King.
King called McCarthy’s decision to remove him from committees “a political decision that ignores the truth.” He vowed to “continue to point out the truth and work with all the vigor that I have to represent 4th District Iowans for at least the next two years.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced King earlier Monday, saying, “There is no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind.”
Meanwhile, House Democrats moved to formally punish King. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the third-ranking House Democrat and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, introduced a formal resolution of disapproval late Monday.
Addressing what he called “a tale of two kings,” Clyburn said the Iowa lawmaker’s remarks were offensive because they embraced evil concepts.
Invoking the memory of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — whose 90th birthday will be celebrated on Tuesday — Clyburn called on colleagues from both parties “to join me in breaking the deafening silence and letting our resounding condemnation be heard.”
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., said he will introduce a censure resolution, a more serious action by the House, that Rush said would announce to the world that Congress has no home for “repugnant and racist behavior.”
“As with any animal that is rabid, Steve King should be set aside and isolated,” Rush said Monday in a statement that also called on Republicans to strip King of his committee memberships until he apologizes.
A third Democrat, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, introduced a separate censure resolution against King.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican, we all have a responsibility to call out Rep. King’s hateful and racist comments,” Ryan said, noting that the white supremacy comments were not the first time King has made headlines for inappropriate language.
The text of Rush’s censure resolution lists more than a dozen examples of King’s remarks, beginning with comments in 2006 in which he compared immigrants to livestock and ending with his lamentation in the New York Times last week that white supremacy and white nationalism have become offensive terms.
McConnell, in his statement, said he has “no tolerance” for the positions offered by King, and said “those who espouse these views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. Rep. King’s statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position. If he doesn’t understand why ‘white supremacy’ is offensive, he should find another line of work.”
One Republican did not join the chorus of criticism. Asked about King’s remarks Monday, President Donald Trump said, “I haven’t been following it.”
King on Friday suggested he’s been misunderstood. He said on the House floor that the interview with the Times was in part a “discussion of other terms that have been used, almost always unjustly labeling otherwise innocent people. The word racist, the word Nazi, the word fascist, the phrase white nationalists, the phrase white supremacists.”
King said he was only wondering aloud: “How did that offensive language get injected into our political dialogue? Who does that, how does it get done, how do they get by with laying labels like this on people?”
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who is the only black Republican in the Senate, cast King’s remarks and those like them as a blemish on the country and the Republican Party.
“When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole,” Scott wrote in an op-ed last week in The Washington Post.
“Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism — it is because of our silence when things like this are said,” Scott wrote.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, also condemned King, telling CNN Monday that King “doesn’t have a place in our party” or in Congress and should resign.
King’s position in the GOP had been imperiled even before his remarks about white supremacy.
Shortly before the 2018 midterm elections, in which King was running, Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, then the head of the GOP campaign committee, issued an extraordinary public denunciation of him.
King has already drawn a primary challenger for the 2020 election: Randy Feenstra, a GOP state senator. Feenstar said Monday, “Sadly, today, the voters and conservative values of our district have lost their seat at the table because of Congressman King’s caustic behavior.”
Follow Kellman and Daly on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellman and http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC