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Bloomberg-Funded AGs Push Climate Cases Targeting Domestic Energy Producers – InsideSources

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When lawyers for both sides in an environmental dispute appeared before the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on Tuesday, an unseen third party was present as well.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

For years, the former New York mayor and one-time presidential candidate has been quietly funding private attorneys to work in public attorneys general offices in states from Minnesota to Delaware. They are always Democratic offices, and those privately-funded attorneys take environmental cases advancing Bloomberg’s green-politics agenda.

“Having privately-funded outside counsel, with the imprimatur of the state attorney general’s office, clearly raises ethical questions,” said Sherman “Tiger” Joyce,  president of the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA). “I think it’s antithetical to the whole notion of accountability, of checks and balances.”

In Philadelphia, the state of Delaware and the city of Hoboken asked the court to allow them to sue a group of U.S. domestic energy producers over the impact of global warming on their local communities. The Delaware Attorney General’s Office complaint was signed by Jameson A.L. Tweedie who, according to documents uncovered by the group Climate Litigation Watch, was offered a “full-time DAG position, funded and supported by New York University, for a salary of $105,588 annually.”

The “New York University” funding refers to the NYU School of Law’s Environment and Energy State Impact Center, founded by a $6 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to provide lawyers to serve as “Special Assistant Attorneys General” whose sole focus would be on environmental and climate change lawsuits and regulatory actions.

Tweedie is still with the Delaware Attorney General’s Office.

The practice is so problematic that, in 2019, Virginia’s legislature stepped in to stop Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring from participating in the Bloomberg-funded program. The GOP-controlled General Assembly added language to the state budget requiring employees of the attorney general to be paid solely with public funds.

A new report from the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF) reveals how state attorneys general and local municipalities have coordinated with energy activists and pay-for-play donors on a litigation campaign of more than 20 lawsuits against oil companies across the country.

“These SAAGs are private attorneys placed in public positions to exercise government authority. Yet, they are not independent or impartial because their mandate is to carry out an overtly political agenda funded by wealthy private donors,” according to the report. “This unique setup allows well-heeled individuals and organizations to commandeer state and local police powers to target opponents with whom they disagree, raising the specter of corruption and fundamental unfairness in what should be public enforcement of the law.”

To the domestic energy producers, the “unfairness” of Delaware’s approach is obvious: If the issue is global warming — as in a global phenomenon and its alleged impacts — then the case shouldn’t be heard in a state court suing over local issues.

“Today’s oral argument in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals underscored the importance of the issues of both climate change and America’s energy supply, and confirmed that the lawsuits filed against Chevron and other energy companies can be properly heard only in federal court,” said Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., an attorney representing Chevron Corporation. “The City of Hoboken and the State of Delaware seek to hold select energy companies liable for harms attributable to global climate change—a phenomenon that is the result of worldwide conduct going back to the Industrial Revolution.

“These cases belong in federal court because they have sweeping implications for national energy policy, national security, foreign policy, and other uniquely federal interests,” Boutrous added.

While suing in Hoboken over climate change linked to CO2 emissions from Holland to Hawaii may not seem to make sense, the advantage to opponents of U.S. energy production is obvious: The potential for a lawsuit –and all of its expenses — in every jurisdiction in the nation.

And, in fact, there are cases across the country over this issue of jurisdiction, many involving state attorneys’ general offices participating in the Bloomberg- funded SAAG program.

Those attorneys general argue the lawsuits should proceed under state court jurisdiction since they claim the companies contributed to local climate impacts and violated state laws by selling fuel products without warning of the effects of climate change. The domestic energy producers respond that these cases should be heard in federal court since they reason climate change is a global issue based on global greenhouse gas emissions, not an issue theoretically for 50 states applying their state laws for federal claims.

“This is an international issue. Why wouldn’t this be preemptive?” asked Judge Stephanos Bibas during Tuesday’s oral arguments. “You’re seeking to drag the entire world into Delaware.”

With the lawsuits brought by Baltimore, Rhode Island, three Colorado communities, and several California cities and counties, four federal appeals courts have now ruled in recent months those lawsuits will proceed in state court based on the plaintiffs’ state claims. If the 3rd Circuit rules in favor of the defendants, the split between circuits could inspire the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

Meanwhile, 10 attorneys general have applied for and received Bloomberg-funded SAAGs to date, including Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon, as well as Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C. Five of those attorneys’ general offices are currently involved in climate lawsuits.

“When state’s attorney general lets an outside party — any outside party — operate with the authority of the state, and work exclusively on cases that part of that party’s political agenda, it’s unclear whose interests are truly being served,” Joyce said.


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When Elvis Costello Looked Inward on ‘Imperial Bedroom’

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Elvis Costello once described Imperial Bedroom as his “most optimistic album to date.”

His seventh studio album and sixth with the Attractions went on to touch topics like cheating spouses (“there’s no money-back guarantee on future happiness“), relationships disintegrating into violence (“I can’t believe what we’ve forgotten / and I even slapped your face and made you cry“) and general self-condemnation (“Love is always scampering or cowering or fawning / You drink yourself insensitive and hate yourself in the morning“).

So, Costello’s definition of “optimistic” might be different from the average person’s. Imperial Bedroom wasn’t exactly a happy-go-lucky LP, but it was one of Costello’s most mature attempts at wrestling with one’s existentialism.

Costello’s music had often been described as cynical and vindictive from the moment he released his debut album, 1977’s My Aim Is True. His infamous comment to NME back then stating that the only two emotions he knew about and felt were “revenge and guilt” certainly didn’t help his reputation.

This “self-perpetuated venom,” as Costello described it to Rolling Stone in 1982, was threatening to engulf his career. Little room was left for Costello to prove that he wasn’t actually as insensitive or uncaring as some might have been led to believe based on his lyrics and quotes to the media.

Then Costello sparked a drunken brawl in 1979 at Columbus, Ohio after spouting racial epithets about Black musicians, namely James Brown and Ray Charles. Costello attempted to clear things up at an uncomfortable press conference that followed in New York, but lingering issues remained.

Listen to Elvis Costello’s ‘Man Out of Time’

Michael Jackson was also recording with Paul McCartney at AIR Recording Studios in London, as the Imperial Bedroom sessions continued. Bassist Bruce Thomas ran into Jackson while vocals were being recorded in another room, and the mood instantly shifted when he was introduced as Costello’s bandmate.

“Suddenly, there was a freeze out. Michael Jackson was, ‘Oh, God, I don’t dig that guy. … I don’t dig that guy,'” Costello told Rolling Stone. “He had heard about it third hand, from Quincy Jones – two guys I have a tremendous amount of admiration for. It depressed me that I wouldn’t be able to go up to him. I wouldn’t be able to go up and shake his hand, because he wouldn’t want to shake my hand.

“I’m not saying I wasn’t responsible for my actions; that sounds like I’m trying to excuse myself,” Costello added. “But I was not very responsible. There’s a distinct difference. I was completely irresponsible, in fact. And far from carefree — careless with everything. With everything that I really care about.”

Costello was now two years away from turning 30, so older and presumably wiser. In keeping, he took 12 weeks to complete Imperial Bedroom, stretching out the process in a way he hadn’t before. He also recorded again without Nick Lowe, a trusted collaborator who’d produced Costello’s first five albums before the immediately preceding covers-focused Almost Blue.

“We had all heard each other’s jokes at least once by this point,” Costello wrote in the liner notes for 1994 reissue of Imperial Bedroom. “In any case, I knew that I wanted to try a few things in the studio that I suspected would quickly exhaust Nick’s patience.”

Instead he chose producer Geoff Emerick, notable for engineering work with the Beatles. Emerick’s influence was palpable throughout Imperial Bedroom, from the unexpected ending on “Man Out of Time” to the exuberant arrangement of “… And in Every Home.” Emerick was officially credited with producing the LP “from an original idea by Elvis Costello,” an attempt to ensure Emerick got the credit he deserved.

Watch the Music Video for Elvis Costello’s ‘You Little Fool’

“This was not the conceit it may have appeared to be at the time,” Costello later wrote. He’d co-produced East Side Story for Squeeze in 1981, and saw first hand how recognition could be easily misplaced. “In a very short time,” Costello said, the entirety of the production became “attributed to myself alone, with co-producer Roger Bechirian’s name often omitted from reviews and articles.

“I did not want this process to be repeated,” he added, “so although I was nominally co-producer with Geoff, in truth he did nearly everything that could be called ‘production’ in terms of sound, while I concentrated on the music.” (Squeeze’s Chris Difford was also credited as a lyricist for one of Imperial Bedroom‘s tracks, “Boy With a Problem.”)

Keeping things organized behind the production console didn’t necessarily mean applying strict rules to whatever arose from these sessions, which borrowed from bright, ’60s pop sounds but didn’t directly copy them. “We did not make any attempt to have the songs obey an arrangement or production style,” Costello wrote, “rather we tried to make the most out of this musical variety.”

Part of that meant experimenting with instruments and their typical sounds. Imperial Bedroom arrived on July 2, 1982 with a 12-string Martin guitar was “bugged” and run through a Hammond Leslie speaker on “Shabby Doll,” a National Steel Dobro mimicked a sitar in “Pidgin English” and, using another Beatles-esque method, a harpsichord part in “You Little Fool” was redubbed using the backward-tape technique.

“You Little Fool” was subsequently released as the first single from Imperial Bedroom, over Costello’s objections. He felt “Man Out of Time” was the “heart” of the LP, while “You Little Fool” – a song Costello said in his autobiography was about “a teenage girl surrendering to an unworthy, older man” – wasn’t representative of the album as a whole.

Still, a radio-friendly hook was enough to prompt his record label to release “You Little Fool” anyway.

Listen to Elvis Costello’s ‘The Loved Ones’

Elsewhere, Costello continued to combine forbidding, even ill-tempered lyrics with light, amiable pop. That’s perhaps best illustrated on “The Loved Ones” a song Costello described as the “hardest song to get over” in the interview with Rolling Stone.

“Considering it’s got such a light pop tune, it’s like saying, ‘Fuck posterity; it’s better to live.’ It’s the opposite of [Neil Young‘s] Rust Never Sleeps,” Costello added. “It’s about, fuck being a junkie and dying in some phony romantic way like Brendan Behan or Dylan Thomas. Somebody in your family’s got to bury you, you know? That’s a complicated idea to put in a pop song. I didn’t want to write a story around it, I wanted to just throw all of those ideas into a song – around a good pop hook.”

In some ways, Costello turned over new leaf with Imperial Bedroom; in others, he was only just beginning to self-reflect after five years of making records. “A lot of songs are about the sort of disgust with your own self,” he later told Performing Songwriter. “There were a lot of things that I wasn’t very happy with during that time. I wanted songs to blow up the world. I had mad ambitions – not mad as in ‘ambition to be famous.’ I never wanted that; that just came as an accident of it all. But somehow you look at yourself and you’re not happy with what you see.”

Many of Costello’s frustrations, as he admitted to the New York Times in 1982, were aimed at himself. “The more personal songs are either imaginary scenarios, observations of other people, or observations of myself,” he said. “Most of the really vitriolic songs I’ve written have been observations of myself.”

Imperial Bedroom earned widespread praise, reaching No. 6 in the U.K. charts and the Top 40 in the U.S. The LP also convinced Costello to refocus on the here and now.

“The important things to me are the melody, the words, the way you sing them, all the little innuendos you can get into them – and above all, the feeling behind them,” he added. “But I hate this precious idea that every song has to be the Sermon on the Mount. The songs I write for my next album will be about whatever happens to me between now and when we start recording again – and that’s what it’s about, really. It’s about life.”

Top 40 New Wave Albums

From the B-52’s to XTC, Blondie to Talking Heads, a look at the genre’s best LPs.




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Pritzker says balanced budget, ‘big things’ remain priority ahead of second term

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Inflation, crime, pandemic response, abortion rights and Donald Trump are all set to be major issues in the 2022 race for Illinois governor, if the winning candidates’ election night speeches are any guide.

“(Gov. JB) Pritzker doesn’t understand how skyrocketing gas prices and soaring food prices make everyday life harder for Illinois families like you and I,” Darren Bailey, the Republican nominee for governor, said in an election night victory speech.

A farmer and state senator from downstate Xenia who acknowledged to the Chicago Sun-Times this week that he is a millionaire, Bailey received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump and coasted to an election night victory with 57 percent of the vote, compared to about 15 percent for each of the next two closest competitors.

“He doesn’t understand how his and Joe Biden’s extreme national agenda helps fuel inflation and increases utility bills for families like us across Illinois,” Bailey added of the governor. “He doesn’t understand the damage that his lockdowns did to small businesses, schools, mental health and working families all across this state. He doesn’t understand that his war on police has fueled the war on our streets, making our neighborhoods dangerous all across this state.”

Bailey also said in his speech that he entered politics because he was displeased with his local representatives’ votes to end a historic two-year budget impasse in 2017 by raising the income tax rate to 4.95 percent, a level slightly lower than it was when the impasse began two years prior.

The income tax vote was part of the budget package that saw Democrats and Republicans come together to override the veto of former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Pritzker, meanwhile, considers it part of his first-term legacy that Illinois has left the politics of the impasse behind it and taken strides to balance the budget each year and pay down old debt.

The governor sat for an interview with Capitol News Illinois Thursday amid a two-day blitz in which he spoke with political reporters from across the state.

He said fiscal prudence – along with pandemic-era revenue spikes that were seen nationwide for many reasons – allowed him and lawmakers to pass $1.8 billion in tax relief this budget year, some of which took effect July 1.

It included a one-year suspension of the 1 percent grocery tax, a six-month delay on a 2-cent motor fuel tax hike, a 10-day partial sales tax holiday on back-to-school items from Aug. 5-14, a permanent expansion of the earned income tax credit, an additional $300 in property tax credit, and direct payments to Illinoisans at $50 per person and $100 per dependent child.

“Those are all things that we Democrats did and were able to do because Democrats balanced the budget, Democrats eliminated the bill backlog, Democrats got the credit upgrades for the state,” he said, referring to double upgrades the state has received from the three New York bond rating agencies in the past year.

“You can’t do any of those items of tax relief if you don’t have the dollars to do it,” he added. “And we had surpluses and what did we do? We provided relief to working family. And we’re gonna look to do that going forward. I might add, if you keep on the path that Democrats have set, that I’ve set, balancing budgets and having surpluses, we can do much more.”

He said he’s hopeful to continue balancing the books even though the state expects revenues to slow as pandemic-driven spikes normalize.

Pritzker touted the state’s use of unexpected revenues for one-time purposes, such as putting $1 billion in the budget stabilization fund, funding pensions $500 million above what is required in law and paying down old health insurance bills amounting to about $900 million.

He also noted the state has, under his watch, increased investments in the Illinois State Police, crime labs, expressway cameras, and youth violence intervention programs.

The one-term incumbent who unseated Rauner with a 16-point victory in 2018 also touched on his spending in the Republican primary in recent months.

While he spent money through his own campaign committee, the Democratic Party of Illinois and the Democratic Governors Association to knock Bailey’s chief primary rival, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, he downplayed the role his money played in that election.

Irvin’s camp has pegged the combined spending of those entities in the GOP primary at roughly $36 million.

“My message is a general election message against all of the Republicans,” he said. “You know, we had messages about the candidate who was talking about corruption in Illinois, when he himself was involved in corruption. We had messages about the candidate who is truly extreme on every issue, including choice. And, you know, we’re fighting the Republicans, this is about Democrats beating Republicans.”

In the coming days, Pritzker said he will call lawmakers back to Springfield for a special session to secure abortion rights, which could include increasing the number of medical professionals who can perform abortions. It will not include providing state aid for people traveling to Illinois to receive an abortion, he said.

In terms of a second-term agenda, Pritzker said continuing the fiscal practices of his first term, as well as increasing subsidies for education and child care are among his priorities.

“But I think that looking back at my first term in office, gives you an idea that we’re gonna get more big things done, and they’re going to be about lifting up working families,” he said.

You can listen to the full episode of Capitol Cast here.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.




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Pritzker says balanced budget, ‘big things’ remain priority ahead of election | Govt-and-politics

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SPRINGFIELD — Inflation, crime, pandemic response, abortion rights and Donald Trump are all set to be major issues in the 2022 race for Illinois governor, if the winning candidates’ election night speeches are any guide.

“(Gov. J.B.) Pritzker doesn’t understand how skyrocketing gas prices and soaring food prices make everyday life harder for Illinois families like you and I,” Darren Bailey, the Republican nominee for governor, said in an election night victory speech after the primaries on Tuesday.

A farmer and state senator from downstate Xenia who acknowledged to the Chicago Sun-Times this week that he is a millionaire, Bailey received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump and coasted to an election night victory with 57% of the vote, compared to about 15% for each of the next two closest competitors.

“He doesn’t understand how his and Joe Biden’s extreme national agenda helps fuel inflation and increases utility bills for families like us across Illinois,” Bailey added of the governor. “He doesn’t understand the damage that his lockdowns did to small businesses, schools, mental health and working families all across this state. He doesn’t understand that his war on police has fueled the war on our streets, making our neighborhoods dangerous all across this state.”

Bailey also said in his speech that he entered politics because he was displeased with his local representatives’ votes to end a historic two-year budget impasse in 2017 by raising the income tax rate to 4.95%, a level slightly lower than it was when the impasse began two years prior.

The income tax vote was part of the budget package that saw Democrats and Republicans come together to override the veto of former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Pritzker, meanwhile, considers it part of his first-term legacy that Illinois has left the politics of the impasse behind it and taken strides to balance the budget each year and pay down old debt.

The governor sat for an interview with Capitol News Illinois Thursday amid a two-day blitz in which he spoke with political reporters from across the state.

He said fiscal prudence — along with pandemic-era revenue spikes that were seen nationwide for many reasons — allowed him and lawmakers to pass $1.8 billion in tax relief this budget year, some of which took effect July 1.

It included a one-year suspension of the 1% grocery tax, a six-month delay on a 2-cent motor fuel tax hike, a 10-day partial sales tax holiday on back-to-school items from Aug. 5-14, a permanent expansion of the earned income tax credit, an additional $300 in property tax credit, and direct payments to Illinoisans at $50 per person and $100 per dependent child.

“Those are all things that we Democrats did and were able to do because Democrats balanced the budget, Democrats eliminated the bill backlog, Democrats got the credit upgrades for the state,” he said, referring to double upgrades the state has received from the three New York bond rating agencies in the past year.

“You can’t do any of those items of tax relief if you don’t have the dollars to do it,” he added. “And we had surpluses and what did we do? We provided relief to working family. And we’re gonna look to do that going forward. I might add, if you keep on the path that Democrats have set, that I’ve set, balancing budgets and having surpluses, we can do much more.”

He said he’s hopeful to continue balancing the books even though the state expects revenues to slow as pandemic-driven spikes normalize.

Pritzker touted the state’s use of unexpected revenues for one-time purposes, such as putting $1 billion in the budget stabilization fund, funding pensions $500 million above what is required in law and paying down old health insurance bills amounting to about $900 million.

He also noted the state has, under his watch, increased investments in the Illinois State Police, crime labs, expressway cameras, and youth violence intervention programs.

The one-term incumbent who unseated Rauner with a 16-point victory in 2018 also touched on his spending in the Republican primary in recent months.

While he spent money through his own campaign committee, the Democratic Party of Illinois and the Democratic Governors Association to knock Bailey’s chief primary rival, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, he downplayed the role his money played in that election.

Irvin’s camp has pegged the combined spending of those entities in the GOP primary at roughly $36 million.

“My message is a general election message against all of the Republicans,” he said. “You know, we had messages about the candidate who was talking about corruption in Illinois, when he himself was involved in corruption. We had messages about the candidate who is truly extreme on every issue, including choice. And, you know, we’re fighting the Republicans, this is about Democrats beating Republicans.”

In the coming days, Pritzker said he will call lawmakers back to Springfield for a special session to secure abortion rights, which could include increasing the number of medical professionals who can perform abortions. It will not include providing state aid for people traveling to Illinois to receive an abortion, he said.

In terms of a second-term agenda, Pritzker said continuing the fiscal practices of his first term, as well as increasing subsidies for education and child care are among his priorities.

“But I think that looking back at my first term in office, gives you an idea that we’re gonna get more big things done, and they’re going to be about lifting up working families,” he said.


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