Welcome to The Weekly Wrap, our Friday round up of stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice.
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Illinois Eliminates Cash Bail
Illinois will be the first state in the nation to completely end the practice of cash bail, the Chicago Sun Times reports, after the state Supreme Court ruled that a new state law did not violate the state’s constitution. The Pretrial Fairness Act, part of a larger set of criminal justice reforms called the SAFE-T Act was originally set to go into effect on January 1st, 2023 but was put on pause by the state’s highest court in response to a lawsuit. It will now take effect in September.
Judges in Illinois will still be allowed to keep people incarcerated pre-trial if they deem them dangerous. The purpose of cash bail is ostensibly to ensure that people charged with crimes make it to court, but studies have found it largely unhelpful for this purpose.
Biden Administration Attacks Apartment Rental “Junk Fees”
The Biden administration announced that it would be introducing new policies to deal with “junk fees,” the extra fees that property managers or landlords add to applications and leases. These include rental application fees that exceed the cost of doing a background check and “convenience” fees added to the monthly rent.
The administration secured commitments from Zillow, Apartments.com and Affordablehousing.com to provide upfront information about the fees on all of their rental listings. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also released a report on private-sector practices that could reduce junk apartment fees, including allowing renters to provide their own background checks and allowing one application fee to cover multiple apartments.
Georgia To Join 33 Other States By Creating a Climate Plan
Georgia will develop a climate plan with a $3 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, joining the 33 states across the country that already have climate plans. The city of Atlanta will also create its own plan with a separate $1 million grant, with funds for the state and city being made available through the Inflation Reduction Act. The state’s plan will eventually lay out a path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Journal-Constitution reports this will most likely require transportation reforms, since most of the state’s emissions come from cars. Georgia has lagged in expanding its electric vehicle charging stations, according to a report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The state saw its per-person carbon emissions drop 8% between 2017 and 2021, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in May, largely due to the state’s largest power provider shifting away from coal and toward renewables.
Met Appoints Trustee With History of Acquiring Stolen Art to Task Force on Stolen Art
A wealthy trustee at the Metropolitan Museum of Art who has a gallery named after her was found to have 71 looted artifacts in her possession over the last two years, according to the New York Times. Art experts say that philanthropist Shelby White was careless in her acquisition of the artifacts, failing to ask for basic documents to prove they were obtained legally. Back in May, the Met appointed her to a 12-member task force to help overhaul the museum’s acquisition practices. The Times says the Met also failed to review items it received from White when some of her acquisitions were found to be stolen, as early as 2008.
Heat Waves Spur Amazon Strikes
Eighty-four Amazon delivery drivers in Southern California have been on an indefinite strike since June 24, partially spurred by the company’s insistence that they drive even in extreme heat, Grist reports. In April, the drivers joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and won voluntary recognition, successfully negotiating a contract with a company called Battle-Tested Strategies, one of the third-party delivery firms Amazon hires to deliver its packages, according to CNBC. The Teamsters asked Amazon to recognize their contract with Battle-Tested Strategies, which guarantees a $30 hourly wage and the right to refuse unsafe deliveries, but instead the corporation declined to renew its own contract with the third-party vendor. Amazon’s contract ended on June 24, but the 84 drivers are still picketing for voluntary recognition at warehouses in Palmdale and San Bernardino and have filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Review Board, according to Vice. Grist reports that some Amazon drivers make up to 400 stops a day in above 100-degree heat. Last month, Teamsters secured a deal for UPS workers to have air conditioning in their trucks.
Curated by Deonna Anderson
MORE NEWS AND RESOURCES
Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority made history this week by incorporating its own credit union, which is now the first Black-owned, sorority-based, women-led digital banking financial institution in the United States. The Root
Members of Congress are working to close a loophole in federal law that allows police and intelligence agencies to collect sensitive information on U.S. citizens without the need for a warrant. Wired
After getting fired, baristas in Redlands, California now own their coffee shop. Here’s how they got there. Los Angeles Times
Climate justice organizations get funding boost. Plus, there are calls for more accountability and transparency.
Grassroots-run Fund for Frontline Power announced its inaugural slate of grants, with $5 million being distributed to 48 organizations working to tackle the worsening planetary emergency. Common Dreams
The Bezos Earth Fund announced a $400 million commitment to enhance green spaces in underserved urban areas this decade. Smart Cities Dive
What has been the progress and impact of the Climate Justice Funders Pledge since it launched in 2021? Nonprofit Quarterly
The African American Policy Forum is hosting the 4th edition of our signature summer programming. Its Critical Race Theory Summer School “will connect the dots between the attacks on critical knowledge, the impending threats to our multiracial democracy, and the practical tools required to sustain the movement.” July 30 to August 3. Learn more and register here.
The 2nd Annual BLCK Street Conference is taking place in Richmond, Virginia. Attendees will gain the tools and be inspired to learn, grow and own their business alongside other Black business owners. If in-person attendance isn’t an option, there’s a virtual replay option. August 6 and 7. Learn more and register here.
Also, don’t forget to check out Next City’s other upcoming events here.
This article is part of The Weekly Wrap, a newsletter rounding up stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice.
Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.