Lynda G. Dodd Files Lawsuit Against City College Over Tenure Denial for Disability!

Dear Commons Community,

Lynda G. Dodd is suing City College of New York for denying her early tenure citing discrimination because she was diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. This will be an interesting case to watch mainly because Dr. Dodd has established a national reputation for her work but also because in academia at least here at CUNY, there are few guarantees on early tenure decisions.  City College is still trying to get on an even keel after Lisa S. Coico, City College’s former president, left under a cloud and is under federal investigation by the United States District Attorney’s Office.  New President Vincent G. Boudreau, probably doesn’t need this at this time.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out.  Below is a New York Times article providing more details on Dr. Dodd’s lawsuit.


Disability Led to Tenure Denial at City College, Lawsuit Claims

By David W.Chen

March 5, 2018

When the City College of New York hired Lynda G. Dodd almost a decade ago to help lead a new undergraduate program, underwritten by the Skadden Arps law firm, to promote diversity in the legal profession, it hailed her as “head and shoulders above the rest of the candidates.”

But Dr. Dodd, who has degrees from Princeton and Yale, was later found to have multiple sclerosis, and she was denied early tenure after concerns arose over the pace of her scholarly output. Now, Dr. Dodd, who has established a national reputation researching remedies for civil rights violations, contends that her own rights have been violated, and she has filed a lawsuit charging retaliation prohibited by disability discrimination laws.

At many colleges, the tenure process can be fraught, shaped by competing egos and academic infighting. But the process is usually closely held, making Dr. Dodd’s lawsuit a rare instance in which private grievances are being aired in the public domain.

Filed in late December in Federal District Court in Manhattan, the lawsuit comes at a turbulent time for City College, in Harlem, as well as its parent institution, the City University of New York.

Lisa S. Coico, the college’s former president, has been under federal investigation by the United States attorney for the Eastern District. Her replacement, Vincent G. Boudreau, was named permanent president in December, but only after overcoming objections from neighborhood activists and politicians. But Dr. Dodd claims that Dr. Boudreau, a political scientist, has played a key adversarial role, and is now the college’s final arbiter, as president, of her future at City College.

CUNY is searching for a new chancellor after James B. Milliken unexpectedly announced that he would step down at the end of the academic year.

A CUNY spokesman declined to comment, citing the litigation. The state Attorney General’s office, which is defending the university, is scheduled to respond by Wednesday.

Neither Dr. Dodd nor her lawyer, Anne L. Clark, with the employment law firm of Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, would comment.

But in an unusual display of support, 50 political scientists who focus on law and courts wrote to Dr. Boudreau and Mr. Milliken, praising Dr. Dodd’s work and calling the tenure decision “a manifest injustice.”

 “The reaction I got was — you’ve got to be kidding,” said Charles R. Epp, a University of Kansas professor who spoke at City College forum in 2012, and helped organize the letter-writing effort. “She writes as if she’s a much more senior scholar, and her contribution is equal to that of many senior scholars.”

Dr. Dodd, 49, has a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton, and a law degree from Yale. After serving as a law professor at American University, she came to City College in 2010 to bolster a new, high-profile program, the Skadden Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies, to help prepare more students from underrepresented backgrounds for legal careers.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom contributed $9.6 million, and Dr. Dodd received a higher-than-usual salary as the Joseph H. Flom Professor of Legal Studies. But, in an unusual move for named professorships, the position was not automatically tenured.

A Skadden spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment. But some former students hold her in high esteem.

“She was regarded as a tough professor, but fair,” said Joel Sati, 24, who is now pursuing a doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley and a law degree at Yale. “You know ‘The Paper Chase’? Kind of like Kingsfield, but a much lighter version.”

But Dr. Dodd experienced numerous health setbacks after 2010, as her progressive “M.S. symptoms worsened, including declining mobility, extreme fatigue, and a severe form of pain,” her lawsuit claimed.

Yet “her efforts to obtain a reasonable accommodation of additional time to complete her research were met with hostility and obstruction,” the suit said.

Part of the complaint involves Dr. Dodd’s need to win reappointment annually to the Flom professorship. In at least two years, while senior college officials voiced concerns that she did not meet the “high standards” for “research production” and was “taking forever” to produce books and articles, she kept her position by appealing successfully to Dr. Coico, then the president, according to the complaint.

By early 2017, after Dr. Boudreau had become interim president, the complaint said, Dr. Dodd believed that she had met the criteria for tenure, two years earlier than scheduled, citing a book contract with Cambridge University Press and other works. But her political science department voted against her in October. Dr. Dodd then notified CUNY that she would sue.

Given the importance of the Skadden program, several people affiliated with City College, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the litigation, said that Dr. Dodd may not have lived up to expectations. Others suggested that the college had legitimate concerns, and cautioned that her case may be more complicated than the complaint suggests.

Rogers M. Smith, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who is the president-elect of the American Political Science Association, said that he took seriously the issue of productivity. But Dr. Smith, who tried unsuccessfully to recruit Dr. Dodd to Yale for graduate school when he taught there in the 1990s, said that he didn’t think there was an issue with her productivity, given her medical issues and the fact that she had taken parental leave. “I think very highly of her as a scholar, and I would need to be persuaded that those concerns have legitimacy,” he said.

Houston Superintendent Richard Carranza Has Been Selected as NYC’s Next Schools Chancellor!  

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Dear Commons Community,

Various news media are reporting that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this afternoon named current Houston Superintendent Richard Carranza as the New York City’s schools chancellor.  This after Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho accepted and then declined the position last week.  Here is an excerpt from the New York Daily News on this announcement.

“De Blasio named current Houston Superintendent Richard Carranza as the new city schools chancellor.

Carranza, 51, joined de Blasio for a press conference Monday announcing his appointment at the Blue Room at City Hall along with current city schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and first lady Chirlane McCray.

Still stinging from Carvalho’s betrayal, de Blasio sought to put a sunny light on Carranza’s appointment, calling his announcement “joyous and positive” news.

“His story is the story of the American dream if ever there was one,” de Blasio said in introducing Carranza.

“Richard, in everything he’s ever done, has been devoted to children,” de Blasio added.

A fluent Spanish speaker and the grandson of Mexican immigrants, Carranza has served as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District since 2016.

He served as superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District for four years before going to Houston.

Before that, he was a superintendent in Las Vegas and an educator in his native Tuscon, where he was raised by working-class parents.

Carranza’s name was on a short list of candidates under consideration by de Blasio that insiders said also included Orange County schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins and former Baltimore City Public School System CEO Andrés Alonso.

Like Fariña, Carranza is a lifelong educator who studied social sciences in college and learned to speak English at school.

Carranza said he intends to create a more equal schools system for the city’s 1.1 million students.

He said without the education he received as a young person, he’d be installing sheet metal like his father.

“Education is the cornerstone of our democracy. It is the great equalizer and the great empowerer of our next generation,” he said.

“The equity agenda championed by our mayor is my equity agenda,” Carranza added.

Carranza said there would be “no daylight” between his priorities and those of Mayor de Blasio, whose control of the city schools was extended through 2019 in June.

He will be paid $345,000 as city schools chancellor, the same as he made running the schools in Houston and nearly 50% more than Fariña made on the job.

That’s the same salary that the city had set for Carvalho, de Balsio’s first pick for the job.

Carvalho’s rejection of the job puzzled observers in Miami and New York, but de Blasio said he called Carranza to offer him the job just three hours after Carvalho turned down the position on live television Thursday afternoon.

Besides his work as an educator, Carranza is an accomplished mariachi musician who was inducted into the Mariachi Hall of Fame in 2016.

His appointment was seen as an effort to build a bridge with the city’s Hispanic students, who are the largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the public schools.

Hispanic students account for more than 40% of city students and nearly a quarter of all city students speak Spanish at home.

But those students lag behind their white and Asian peers on a number of indicators of academic achievement including graduation rates and math and reading proficiency.

CUNY and Brooklyn College Education Prof. David Bloomfield said that Carranza’s background as a Spanish speaker will help him reach those kids and English Language Learners.

“The new Chancellor’s strong commitment to the education of English Language Learners, not viewing them as language deficient but having native language strengths, will be a big plus,” Bloomfield said.”

I agree with my colleague, David Bloomfield comments about Carranza. 

We wish Superintendent Carranza well!


P.S.  Politico has an excellent review of  Richard Carrranza’s previous experience in Houston and San Francisco.

President Trump Calls the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 “The Worst Decision Ever Made”!

Dear Commons Community.

President Donald Trump addressed a meeting of Republican donors on Saturday during which he commented that the “invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the single worst decision ever made.”  Trump added that it was like“throwing a big fat brick into a hornet’s nest.” As reported by CNN and The Huffington Post:

“Here we are, like the dummies of the world, because we had bad politicians running our country for a long time,” Trump said. He went on to mock fellow Republican George W. Bush, sarcastically calling him a “real genius” over his decision to invade Iraq.

He also scorned the CIA over its flawed information about Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein harboring weapons of mass destruction.

“That turned out to be wonderful intelligence. Great intelligence agency there,” Trump joked. 

As CNN noted, Trump has used this faulty assessment about the WMDs to question the reliability of the U.S. intelligence community, particularly regarding its conclusions about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Though Trump repeatedly insisted during his presidential campaign that he’d long been opposed to the Iraq War, even saying in June 2016 that he was among its “earliest” critics, the record suggests otherwise.

In a much-reported exchange with radio host Howard Stern in September 2002, Trump expressed tepid support for the war, saying “Yeah, I guess so” when asked if he supported the impending invasion of Iraq.

In March 2003, one day after the invasion, Trump told Fox News that the conflict appeared to be “a tremendous success from a military standpoint.”

I would remind Trump that there were a lot of news media folks (those he refers to as “fake news”) criticizing the Iraq War decision at the time.  And his favorite news outlet, Fox News, was a big supporter of Bush’s decision.


Winter Storm Riley Leaves Nine Dead and Two Million People without Power!

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Dear Commons Community,

Winter Storm Riley is leaving a devastating wake of destruction up and down the East Coast.  Nine are dead and two million households and businesses lost electrical power.  In New York, hundreds of thousands of people are still without power and it may be days before it is turned back on.   Here is a recap from the Weather Channel:

“Residents along the New England coast were warned that additional flooding was possible Saturday, one day after Winter Storm Riley killed at least nine people and knocked out power to more than 2 million homes and businesses.

Deaths have been reported in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia, where two people were killed. Two of the victims – a 6-year-old boy in Chester, Virginia, and an 11-year-old boy in Putnam Valley, New York – were children.

The governors of Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia declared states of emergency due to the conditions. National Guard members were activated in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania to assist in the aftermath.

More than 1.9 million customers were still powerless Saturday afternoon, according to

New York electric utility Central Hudson described Riley as one of the strongest storms to hit its customers in 50 years, the Associated Press reports. It hopes to have most of the power restored to the thousands remaining in the dark by Wednesday.

Emergency officials in Duxbury, Massachusetts, announced it may be days if not a week before power is fully restored. “

We had power returned to our home yesterday and we have been without cable service for two days. May Godspeed the utility people and first responders who are working tirelessly to restore power throughout the area.


Image result for winter Storm Riley

Image result for winter Storm Riley

Image result for winter Storm Riley

Image result for winter Storm Riley

New Book:   “The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power…” by Niall Ferguson!


Dear Commons Community,

I have just finished reading Niall Ferguson’s new book, The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power from the Freemasons to Facebook.  Ferguson is an historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.  We live in the Internet Age and it is natural that we study and examine how networking technology has affected much of what we do especially our political, social and economic systems.  Ferguson takes a dive into history to make the case that networks of one type or another were always with us and that they have vied with traditional hierarchical power structures.  Ferguson provides many examples from history to demonstrate this thesis.  Here is an excerpt from a  New York Times Book Review:

“A new book by prolific historian Niall Ferguson, “The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power from the Freemasons to Facebook” (Penguin), goes a long way toward redressing this pervasive lack of perspective to a concept central to the contemporary technological “revolution”: networks.

The internet itself is a network of networks. The ability to communicate and transact across its vast reach is indeed unprecedented and represents the basic infrastructure of what has been termed the “network society.” Mr. Ferguson’s book does far more than simply track the use of the word “network” from its introduction in English language publications in the late 19th century, when it “was scarcely used,” to the modern day, when he points out that it appeared in 136 articles in The New York Times during just the first week of 2017. Rather he seeks to reframe the entirety of human history as an endless tug-of-war between eras in which powerful hierarchical institutions predominate (the Tower of the title) only to be undermined by the influence of emerging networks (the corresponding Square). In Professor Ferguson’s telling, these networks are invariably co-opted by reconstituted hierarchies and the process begins again.

For instance, Professor Ferguson argues it was the printing press that was largely responsible for three “network-based revolutions — the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.” These were followed by a hundred-year period of hierarchical international order dominated by five hubs (Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and Russia) leading up to the First World War.

The new industrial, financial and communications networks that emerged during this time did not, however, overturn the hierarchical nature of things. This dominant structure survived both world wars, according to Professor Ferguson, with the mid-twentieth century actually representing the “zenith of hierarchy.” His account shows how the ability to navigate and influence these and other nascent networks determined which empires thrived in the reconfigured hierarchical orders.

One does not have to completely buy in to the book’s reframing of key social and political turning points to find the narrative both captivating and compelling. Whether describing the surprisingly ineffective 18th century network of the mysterious Illuminati that continue to be the subject of crank conspiracy theorists or the shockingly effective 20th century network of Cambridge University spies working for the Soviets, Professor Ferguson manages both to tell a good story and provide important insight into the specific qualities that power successful networks.

The important lesson of “The Square and the Tower” is that the existence of a network, or network effects for that matter, should be the beginning not the end of the analysis. The critical questions relate to the network’s key characteristics and how it interacts with other networks and hierarchies.”

I recommend this book for all those interested in the power of networks on society.  Be aware that Ferguson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and leans a tad right at times.



NY Times Editorial: West Virginia Teachers Give a Lesson in Union Power!

Dear Commons Community,

I hope all of you who live and work up and down the East Coast weathered yesterday’s storm well.  Here in New York, many homes are without power and/or cable service.

Last week, I blogged about the teachers strike in West Virginia which wil be continuing next week. The New York Times has an editorial this morning entitled, West Virginia Teachers Give a Lesson in Union Power, which congratulates the teachers and suggests that members of the US Supreme Court listen to them as they get ready to rule on Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, which is if it goes the way many expect, will curtail the ability of public unions to receive union dues from those who do not wish to join. The editorial specifically calls on Justice Samuel Alito:

“He [Alito] would learn something about workers’ dignity if he spoke with Katie Endicott, a 31-year-old high school English teacher from Gilbert, W.Va., whose take-home pay is less than $650 a week. She’s one of thousands of teachers who have been on strike for more than a week, shutting schools in all 55 counties of the state.”

Read the editorial below.  It makes its point well!



West Virginia Teachers Give a Lesson in Union Power

New York Times

Editorial Board

March 2, 2018

Before he puts his name to a Supreme Court opinion that is expected to eviscerate public-sector unions, Justice Samuel Alito Jr. should visit West Virginia.

In considering issues in a case argued this week, Mr. Alito has said the fees that unions charge nonmembers for the expense of collective bargaining infringe on workers’ “dignity and conscience” by forcing them to fund a union whose political positions they might disagree with.

He would learn something about workers’ dignity if he spoke with Katie Endicott, a 31-year-old high school English teacher from Gilbert, W.Va., whose take-home pay is less than $650 a week. She’s one of thousands of teachers who have been on strike for more than a week, shutting schools in all 55 counties of the state.

The state wanted to give 1 percent annual raises for five years to the teachers — who make less than those in all but three states — and have them pay more for health insurance.

“I have two children; I live paycheck to paycheck,” Ms. Endicott told The Times. “When I realized that they were taking hundreds of dollars and then they tried to tell me they were giving me a pay raise of 1 percent, I knew I can’t just sit back.”

First she joined hundreds of teachers who flooded the state Capitol on Feb. 2 as legislators considered legislation with the 1 percent raise. It passed the Senate 33-0.

“We were just walking silently from the Capitol,” Ms. Endicott related, “and one teacher said, ‘Guys, we’re really going to have to strike.’ At that point, I knew.”

Union battles have a deeper role in the history of West Virginia than that of perhaps any other state. Coal miners there fought bloody battles with mine owners who cared little for the sacrifice of life and limb that workers made to haul their coal from the earth. But unions have been broken there as they have throughout the country. Fewer than 5 percent of miners are represented by unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Public-sector unions have been the last bastion of worker strength.

Despite Justice Alito’s hand-wringing over the right to free speech, the effect of the decision that is expected from the court would be to silence workers and sap their power. The West Virginia teachers are having none of that. While it looked as if the strike was settled this week when the governor agreed to 5 percent raises, the Legislature had not committed to that, and how much workers would pay for health care was still unsettled. So the teachers stayed out.

“We come from an area that is known for standing up for what they believe in.” Ms. Endicott said. “The union wars, they originated in the south in Mingo County. We believe we’re following in their footsteps.”

And, we can hope, these teachers can provide workers throughout the country with a powerful lesson.


Jumping from Trump’s Ship Before Their Careers are “Toast”!

Dear Commons Community,

Earlier this week, White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks resigned her position and yesterday NBC  News reported that national security adviser, H.R. McMaster will be leaving next month. These moves would be the latest in a long string of senior appointees who have left, were replaced or otherwise were separated from their positions in the Trump White House.  The list including Hicks, Priebus, Spicer, Bannon, Price, Porter, and others (see below) keeps getting longer and one has to wonder why so many departures in such a short period of time.  Let me offer some speculation.

First, they were not up to the responsibilities of their positions.

Second, they are under investigation.

Third, they are abusive to spouses and others.

Fourth, they no longer can compromise their own standards of decency, professionalism, and comportment in having to work for a president who is seriously weak in these areas.

Lastly, they are jumping from Trump’s ship in time to salvage their careers. Surely having had a senior position in the White House should be a door opener for a lucrative and respected career after one leaves and it is likely that this will be the case for some of the recently departed.  However, it might also be the case especially if the Mueller investigation heats up and moves further up the chain to Trump and other senior staff, that their careers might be “toast.”  The last possibility was offered on CNN yesterday by  David Gergen,  former presidential adviser who served during the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. 



H.R. McMaster

Hope Hicks 

Sally Yates

Michael Flynn

Katie Walsh

Preet Bharara 

James Comey

Mike Dubke 

Walter Shaub

Sean Spicer 

Reince Priebus 

Steve Bannon

Anthony Scaramucci

Tom Price

Rob Porter 

Alberto Carvalho to Be New York City’s Next Schools Chancellor!

NOTE: Mr. Carvalho accepted and then declined the NYC Schools Chancellor’s position the next day.

Dear Commons Community,

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday that Alberto M. Carvalho, who rose from undocumented immigrant and day laborer to superintendent of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools,  will become the next New York City schools chancellor. 

Mr. Carvalho will oversee the nation’s largest system, one made up of 1.1 million children, many of whom face similar challenges to those he has overcome. Over 70 percent of New York City students come from families that are on some form of public assistance, and one in every 10 students was homeless at some point in the 2016-17 school year.  As reported by the New York Times:

“Mr. Carvalho, 53, has led Miami-Dade, the nation’s fourth-largest district, for nearly a decade and has a remarkably successful record. The high school graduation rate has increased to 80.7 percent in 2016-17 from 60.5 percent in 2007-8. In 2014, Mr. Carvalho was named the National Superintendent of the Year. In 2012, the district won the Broad Prize for Urban Education, which recognizes districts that have shown major gains in student achievement.

“Alberto Carvalho is a world-class educator with an unmatched track record of success,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement on Wednesday evening. “I am very confident that our extensive, national search has found New York City the best person to lead the nation’s largest school system into the future.”

Mr. Carvalho’s national profile is higher than that of Mr. de Blasio’s current schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, when she was appointed four years ago, and he is seen as politically savvy and ambitious…

Mr. Carvalho has pushed expanding the number of charter, magnet and other choice schools and programs, and promoting the use of technology in the classroom. He started a school called iPreparatory Academy where students work at their own pace, partly led by teachers and partly using online curriculum…

Although test scores and graduation rates in New York City have steadily improved in recent years, the school system faces major challenges, including persistent racial and economic achievement gaps and segregation.

Shortly before Mr. de Blasio made his announcement on Wednesday, the Miami-Dade school board called an emergency meeting for Thursday morning “to discuss the stability of the executive management leadership.”

After Mr. de Blasio made his statement, a spokeswoman for Mr. Carvalho, Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, said only that he had been offered the job but had not accepted and would not comment until after he had met with the board.

In an unusual move, rather than scheduling a public announcement of the chancellor pick, the mayor’s office said that Mr. de Blasio had no scheduled events on Thursday.

Mr. de Blasio’s choice was first reported by Politico.


Mr. Carvalho’s appointment drew praise on Wednesday from diverse segments of the education universe. 

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said that, despite leadership at the state government level in Florida that she described as “overtly hostile to public education,” Mr. Carvalho “has had an open door towards educators and toward partnership and teamwork and has been able to move the Miami-Dade system because of that.”

Miami-Dade serves roughly 345,000 students, over 90 percent of whom are Hispanic or black and more than 70 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. In New York, nearly 70 percent of students are Hispanic or black, and a similar percentage qualify for the lunch benefits.

Mr. Carvalho earns a yearly salary of $352,874 in Miami compared to Ms. Fariña’s $234,569. Mr. Phillips said Mr. Carvalho will be paid $353,000, to match his Miami salary.

Mr. Carvalho grew up poor in Lisbon, Portugal, and was the first in his family to graduate from high school. At the age of 17, he flew to New York on a visa that he then overstayed. In New York, he washed dishes and worked as a busboy in restaurants. He made his way to Florida, where he worked in construction. He has said that at one point he spent a month being homeless, sleeping in a friend’s U-Haul truck. In a restaurant where he worked as a waiter, he met Representative E. Clay Shaw, a Republican congressman from the area, who helped him gain a student visa.

Mr. Carvalho has spent his entire career in the Miami-Dade school system, starting as a teacher at Miami Jackson Senior High, where he taught physics, chemistry and calculus. He went on to become an assistant principal, a lobbyist for the district, and an associate superintendent. He took over the district from Rudy Crew, himself a former New York City schools chancellor.

He has been an outspoken critic of President Trump’s immigration policies and defender of undocumented immigrants.”

We wish Mr. Carvalho good luck in his new position and thank outgoing chancellor, Carmen Fariña, for a job well-done.


Dick’s and Walmart Responding to Calls for Greater Gun Control!

Dear Commons Community,

Over the past week, a number of companies in the travel industry such as Delta and United Airlines have announced plans to cut their discount ticket policies for National Rifle Association (NRA) members.  Their announcements came in response to the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people, mostly students, were killed two weeks ago.  

Yesterday, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. said it will permanently stop selling assault-style rifles in response to the massacre at the Florida high school.   The U.S. retailer of camping supplies, sporting goods and guns will also stop selling high-capacity magazines and will not sell any guns to people under age 21, Dick’s chief executive, Ed Stack, said in an open letter on the company’s website.

Hours later, Walmart Inc., the largest U.S. retailer, said it was raising the minimum age for the purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21 from 18. Walmart stopped selling assault style firearms and accessories in 2015. 

As reported by Reuters:

“The accused gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, legally purchased a weapon at Dick’s in November, although not the type used in the shooting, Stack said. Cruz, a former student at Stoneman Douglas, is accused of using an AR-15 assault-style weapon to carry out the killing.

The massacre spurred a youth-led wave of protests, and state and national officials are considering whether to pass stricter gun control measures. The powerful NRA traditionally opposes such curbs, citing the right to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

Dick’s removed assault-style weapons from its Dick’s-branded stores after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 20 first graders and six adults, but continued selling them through another retail brand. Wednesday’s move takes them out of its 35 Field & Stream outlets as well, Stack said, adding the measure would be permanent.

Some analysts said the 2012 decision did not hurt the retailer’s sales, likely giving company executives confidence to make Wednesday’s move. Stack said he knew the company’s decision would upset some customers, but he cited the passionate response by the students and families in Parkland.

“We have heard you,” he said.

In addition to instituting the age limit for buying guns, Walmart is removing items from its website that resemble assault-style rifles, including non-lethal airsoft guns and toys.

Stack said in his letter that Dick’s respects the Second Amendment and law-abiding gun owners but was obliged to address a national gun epidemic that is killing too many children.

After the Parkland shooting, it was clear there were not enough systemic protections to prevent gun sales to people who are potential threats, Stack said, adding that Congress should tighten background checks to include relevant mental health information.

Dick’s, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, operates about 715 Dick’s-branded stores across the United States. It was the latest company to take action after the Florida shooting. Other businesses have cut ties with the NRA and gun manufacturers.”

These are welcome moves by Dick’s and Walmart.  We hope that other large retailers of guns consider similar gun control policies.


First Openly Transgender Recruit Signs Contract to Join the U.S. Military!

Dear Commons Community,

It appears that for the first time since a federal court ruled last year that the military would have to accept openly transgender people, the Pentagon announced earlier this week that a transgender recruit has signed a contract to join the U.S. military.  As reported by Reuters:

“Military officials do not know how many transgender people have begun to enlist since Jan. 1, when the Defense Department began accepting openly transgender recruits, but this is the first time one has officially signed a contract to join the military

“(The Pentagon) confirms that as of February 23, 2018 there is one transgender individual under contract for service in the US Military,” Major David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said. The person has signed a contract but not yet started basic training.

In a move that appealed to his hard-line conservative supporters, President Donald Trump announced in July that he would prohibit transgender people from serving in the military, reversing former President Barack Obama’s policy of accepting them. Trump said on Twitter at the time that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

A number of federal judges – in Baltimore, Washington, Seattle and Riverside, California – issued rulings blocking Trump’s ban. The judges said the ban would likely violate the right under the U.S. Constitution to equal protection under the law.

Late last year, transgender people were allowed for the first time to enlist in the U.S. military, after the Trump administration decided not to appeal the rulings.

Last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis provided his recommendations to the White House on transgender people serving in the military.

Advocates have said they believe dozens, if not hundreds, of transgender people will seek to join an estimated 4,000 already serving.

We wish the individual well in their military career!