Minding The Map In Georgia | Crooked Media
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November 16, 2021
What A Day
Minding The Map In Georgia

In This Episode

  • The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees voted to ratify new film and TV contracts after months of negotiations. The results were announced yesterday, and it establishes three year contracts for the union’s over 60,000 impacted members.
  • Yesterday, Georgia’s Republican-led state House approved the bill that would redraw state assembly maps, and the state Senate voted it through last Friday, too. After Governor Brian Kemp signs off on this, the new districts will be legalized. The new maps don’t add any majority-minority districts to the Senate, and they also impede on the power of some of the current legislators of color.
  • And in headlines: Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy announced he won’t seek re-election next year, Howard University students ended their protest against horrific housing conditions, and Austria may have passed Europe’s most restrictive mandate for the unvaccinated.





Gideon Resnick: It’s Tuesday, November 16th. I’m Gideon Resnick.


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, where the chip shortage has prevented us from starting computer companies in our garage.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, our products would be on every desk in America by now, if not for these freaking chips.


Josie Duffy Rice: It is so true. I have so many ideas, but literally no chips, and it’s really just not my fault, you know? On today’s show, the country’s longest serving Senator, Vermont’s Patrick Leahy announced he won’t run again in 2022. Plus, the student strike at Howard University has ended.


Gideon Resnick: But first in tangential-to-strike news, after months of negotiations that included an overwhelming vote to approve a strike authorization, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees voted to ratify new film and TV contracts. And Josie, this is a big deal, as we’ve been reporting. If there had been a strike, it would have shut down TV and film sets across the country. And so these results were announced yesterday, and it establishes three-year contracts for the union’s over 60,000 impacted members.


Josie Duffy Rice: This is big news. So can you get into more of how this vote actually broke down?


Gideon Resnick: It was really close, especially when you actually look at the breakdown of the numbers. We’ll link to a story that goes into more detail about this, but IATSE uses an Electoral College-type of system and as with that system that we all know and love in the United States, it does not always match the popular vote.


Josie Duffy Rice: So this gets confusing, but this contract is kind of two contracts. Is that right? So there’s one for people who work in L.A. and one for people who don’t.


Gideon Resnick: That’s basically it. Yeah. So based on delegate math alone, in the aggregate right, these two contracts were ratified. And when you looked at that, it didn’t look that close. But if you look closer at it, IATSE had the whole breakdown, the contract for people in L.A. didn’t win the popular vote at all. There was less than 1% difference, with the no’s edging it out there. But because again, of this Electoral College-style system, both of these contracts were ratified. So now a lot of people are frustrated that their voice was not heard in the ultimate result here.


Josie Duffy Rice: What were members saying about why and how they voted the way that they did?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we’re still learning more about that. But for more on it, I spoke with Alaina McManus. She is a camera technician and member of IATSE Local 600, who has been on the show before.


Alaina McManus: This contract vote was a very difficult decision for me. I did ultimately vote no because I just think that we’re at a moment in time, especially where even though this contract did see gains that we haven’t seen in a very long time in our contract negotiations, I just don’t think that it’s enough for what people need right now.


Josie Duffy Rice: What do we know about why people like Alaina actually did decide to vote no.


Gideon Resnick: One of the big things thematically here is they just thought that they could possibly get more, that this was the moment to actually have all of their rights recognized. So specifically, some members have been making the point that the turnaround time allotted in the contract could still allow for 14-hour workdays, and that the annual wage increase was below the current rate of inflation. And also, according to the L.A. Times, a group of set workers recently protested the agreement, arguing for safer working conditions. They cited the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust. As a story we can link to from the news site Jacobin says, Hutchins’ local, Local 600, voted against the ratification, which seems like a significant part of this. I asked Alaina if all this stuff about rust had come up as well in her conversations with members.


Alaina McManus: Oh, absolutely. The tragedy that happened in New Mexico did occur after our two parties came to an agreement, so it’s not something that could have been renegotiated at that time because we were, you know, in our voting period. However, it has been a big conversation just amongst all of the members of the local. We’ve had several both town halls and executive board meetings about the tragedy and ways to prevent it and things like that in the future.


Gideon Resnick: She also did note that Rust due to a different contract would have likely continued had there been a strike for the contracts that we’re talking about here.


Josie Duffy Rice: So what happens next here?


Gideon Resnick: So for the members who voted no, it certainly, again, feels like a missed opportunity for a lot of momentum that had been built up. Here’s McManus again, reflecting on the moment before the results were out:


Alaina McManus: We’re at a moment where if we don’t stand up and demand to be treated differently, to demand that there is a big sea change, not a baby step on the way that we hope will get us there eventually. But if there’s not a big sea change now, there may never be one. It feels like a “if not now, when?” moment.


Gideon Resnick: And Josie, another member was already talking about organizing for 2024 after this had happened. So forward-looking in that sense. We’ll link to some stories where you can read more about how members are feeling, and return to all of this soon.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, you know, it’s at least hope for the future and a sign that these unions have power, so thanks for the update, Gideon. Let’s turn now to the other big story we’re watching today, which is redistricting. You may remember that last week we talked to Michael Li from the Brennan Center about it, the once-a-decade process where state lawmakers redraw state House, state Senate, and federal congressional lines to reflect changes in population.


Gideon Resnick: Yes, and redistricting is happening right this very moment, but it is not getting nearly enough press, which is relatively concerning, given how important this is.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, this sort of happened at the census too, right? There’s this really important thing that’s happening and it just isn’t getting the coverage that we’d want. Michael highlighted a few states where Republicans were really controlling and manipulating the redistricting process in state legislatures. One of those states was—big surprise—my home state of Georgia. Yesterday, the State House approved a bill that would redraw state assembly maps after the state Senate voted it through last Friday as well. So now all they need is a signature by Gov. Brian Kemp, and the new districts in both houses of the state legislature are legal.


Gideon Resnick: Wow.


Josie Duffy Rice: Next, the legislature will tackle that all congressional districts. So yeah, this is, I mean, yippie, you know, this is great.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I don’t know. I’m sensing something here Josie. You don’t seem super jazzed about these new districts. Can you tell us a little bit about why that is?


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, we’ll get in. I think there are two things to really remember about Georgia, right? So the first is that Georgia is an extremely diverse place in every sense of the word: racially, economically, politically—and it’s growing rapidly. I mean, it’s crazy how fast Georgia is growing. In the past 10 years, the population has grown by one million people, just a massive number, and 100% of the population growth has been people of color, right? The white population has actually shrunk, and the number of people of color has grown drastically. So the second thing to remember about Georgia is that it really is and should be seen as a battleground state, right? We are a southern state. We do tend to run Republican. But Georgia went blue in the presidential election last year and it went blue again in the special election for Senate. We have two Democratic senators currently, you may remember. But let’s just say that these new maps, you know, they don’t account for either of these things.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it would seem to be the case that it just favors the status quo in every sense of the word. So can you tell us more about it?


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So the new maps don’t add any majority minority districts to the Senate.


Gideon Resnick: Wow.


Josie Duffy Rice: They also really impede on the power of some of the current legislators of color. For example, the district served by the state senate’s only Asian-American woman will go from 60% minority voting age population to having a slightly white majority, right? And so this makes a big difference on the ability for people of color to get reelected into their positions. And politically, it advantages Republicans as well. As state representative Bee Nguyen put it, quote “Georgia is a 50-50 state, but this map creates a 60-40 split, with the advantage going to the Republican Party.”


Gideon Resnick: Isn’t that always how it seems to be.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Isn’t it funny how that happens? Yeah.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So of course, given that there has been a lot of pushback on this, I can assume, right? Or is the process kind of happening out of the limelight, out of clear sight for everyone?


Josie Duffy Rice: Oh, Gideon, I would say it’s happening almost entirely out of the limelight. First of all, it’s happening during a special session that Governor Brian Kemp called. I wouldn’t say people tend to really follow what happened during regular sessions super closely, much less special sessions.


Gideon Resnick: Sure.


Josie Duffy Rice: And in general, you know, the state Republicans, they were rejecting this idea that there hasn’t been transparency. They’re pointing out that they held meetings across the state about it throughout the year. And they’re saying that they basically followed the process as laid out by law. And I would just suggest that maybe that process is insufficient. Right? I mean, I’m a pretty involved and aware person and I certainly didn’t know about these meetings. And maybe the truth is that the process laid out by law is just not enough to ensure that people in the state really have a say in redistricting and what happens, you know, every 10 years in terms of how they’ll be represented for the future. So this is a scenario playing out across the country, Gideon. I mean, we’ll link to a New York Times article that explains how based on new maps throughout the country, Republicans could have the edge in the 2022 elections even before campaigns get underway. You know, I would just point out that what happens here is that when Republicans control who runs the legislature, they just keep gaining more and more power. It’s very hard to stop that power gain. And Republicans have a really disproportionate number of representatives in state legislatures across the country, not just in my state. And we’ll keep reporting out these stories of redistricting and how important they are in the many days and weeks to come, so something to keep in mind, but that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.


[ad break]


Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Josie Duffy Rice: Senator Patrick Leahy announced yesterday that he won’t seek reelection next year.


[clip of Sen Patrick Leahy] It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter who will carry on this work for our great state.


Josie Duffy Rice: Since 1975, he’s been Vermont’s first and only Democratic—Senator Bernie being an independent. He’s also the country’s longest-serving senator still in office. Leahy’s retirement might give him more time to do cameos in Batman movies. He’s been in five of them, which is the minimum we should expect from all of our senators. Still, it’s not the best news for Dems who need to hold on to their slim majority in the Senate. Biden did win the state by 35%, so it’s unlikely that the party will lose Leahy’s seat. And while Leahy steps down, a Democrat who told us he was born to be in, it is in it again. Beto O’Rourke announced yesterday that he is running for Texas governor, challenging Republican incumbent Greg Abbott. The last time a Democrat led Texas was Ann Richards in 1995. But I mean, who knows? Beto might have a shot, right? In his 2018 Senate campaign, he lost to Ted Cruz by only three percentage points. It’s a bummer to lose to Ted Cruz at all, but in Texas, you know, he’s an underdog, so we’ll see what happens.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I just know that the Gen-X editors at publications across the country must be very excited to see their guy [unclear]. The largest student demonstration in the history of Howard University came to an end yesterday. Since October 12th, hundreds of students have been camping outside of Blackburn, the school’s student center, to protest against what can only be described as horrifying housing conditions. Many of them said that the dorms were rife with problems like mold, mice infestations, and occasional flooding. Yesterday, the students announced that they came to an agreement with university officials, and started to take down their tents and deflate their air mattresses. Here’s one of them speaking during a news conference on the show, “Roland Martin Unfiltered.”


[clip of a student] We came, we saw, we declared, and we won. We won for our students. We won for Howard University, both historic Howard and the future Howard. And we won for our community.


Gideon Resnick: The students’ lawyer told The Washington Post that the terms of their agreement are confidential. But during the protests, they were calling for several things, including a meeting with leaders about housing, and legal and disciplinary immunity for the protesters.


Josie Duffy Rice: Austria may have passed Europe’s most restrictive mandate for the unvaccinated. While other countries like Germany and France are taking certain measures too, as of yesterday, Austria says anyone who’s unvaccinated and over the age of 12 can only leave their homes for work, getting food, or emergencies.


Gideon Resnick: Whoa.


Josie Duffy Rice: This partial lockdown rule applies to some two million people, but it comes at a crucial time. Cases in the country jumped by 134% in the last two weeks. And Austria’s Health Ministry warned that anyone who violates the lockdown could be fined €500, which in American terms, is about $572. Many people, including the country’s far-right Freedom Party, criticized the new rule, questioning whether it is constitutional and saying it is a step too far. And I got to say Gideon, it feels a step too far to me.


Gideon Resnick: It’s a lot.


Josie Duffy Rice: I think it’s far.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. In other news, two men who crawled out of Richard Nixon’s septic tank in the ’70s and have been wreaking havoc ever since: Alex Jones and Steve Bannon, got some comeuppance yesterday. Bannon surrendered to federal authorities after he was indicted last week for ignoring a congressional subpoena. Presumably, it got lost under the hundreds of packages from Orvis that he receives every month. Bannon had been called to testify and provide documents to the House Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol, but he didn’t. And following his surrender, Bannon was released and placed under general supervision. Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor charge, but if he is convicted, Bannon faces a minimum 30 days prison sentence and up to a $100,000 fine. In Connecticut, Alex Jones was found liable in a defamation suit brought against him by parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. On Jones’ show Infowars, he claimed that the shooting was a hoax orchestrated by gun control advocates. He refused to provide documents to the Connecticut court, demonstrating whether or not he profited from these claims, leading to the judge’s default judgment. Next year, a jury will meet to determine what Jones will pay the families in damages. Presumably, it’s got to be a lot.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Alex Jones has basically been torturing these families for, like almost a decade. I think it’s time for him to give them everything they ask, personally.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, there should be a ruling that he returns to the septic tank.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, back to the septic tank. I gotta say . . .


Gideon Resnick: That’s the ultimate, ultimate punishment. And those are the headlines. One more thing before we go: later this week, I’m going to be talking with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Michael Regan. He is going to join us from his cross-country tour that is about environmental justice, how climate change could hit many low-income and underserved communities the hardest.


[clip of Michael Regan] Looking forward to not only visiting Jackson, Mississippi, but Louisiana and Texas, as well. Meeting the people where they are, hearing the concerns firsthand, and thinking through how the Biden administration can really make good on our pledge to look at and evaluate environmental justice and equity.


Gideon Resnick: It’s going to be a really great conversation. We’ll also get a chance to talk about the Build Back Better plan, the COP26 conference, and much more. If you have them, you can send me your questions for him as well. Just DM me on Twitter or on Instagram, or you can email Gideon @Crooked dot com. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, look for Senator Patrick Leahy in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, and tell your friends to listen.


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you aren’t a reading, and not just Orbis catalogs like Steve Bannon, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And beware of Richard Nixon’s septic tank.


Gideon Resnick: Who else could be in there, dormant, right now?


Josie Duffy Rice: Who are we not even heard of that’s just waiting there to wreak havoc on our lives?


Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me: Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.



Show Notes