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Officials Trace More Than 100 Coronavirus Cases To Michigan Bar

At least 107 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been linked to a bar in Michigan. 

Some 95 people who visited Harper’s Restaurant & Brewpub in East Lansing June 12-20 have now tested positive for COVID-19, Ingham County Health Department announced Monday.

A further 12 people “who were in contact with a primary case but did not go to Harper’s themselves” have also been infected with the virus, per a statement released by the department.

The rising numbers from the outbreak prompted Ingham County to issue “an emergency order reducing restaurant capacity to 50% or no more than 75 people, whichever is less.”

The patrons who tested positive for the coronavirus were aged 16 to 28.

None were hospitalized. Most showed mild symptoms and 28 were asymptomatic. Forty percent were students at or recent graduates of Michigan State University.

Ingham Country Health officials urged people who attended the venue during the nine-day period to get tested for the coronavirus and self-quarantine for 14 days following the date of their last visit.

“There are likely more people infected with COVID-19 not yet identified,” Ingham County Health officer Linda Vail warned last week when the case count from the outbreak stood at 34.

The 950-capacity venue had reopened at 50% capacity on June 8 and was “following appropriate safety procedures related to employees, restaurant capacity and table spacing,” per the department’s inspectors.

Harper’s announced its temporary closure — in order to modify its air conditioning system and further improve social distancing measures — via a lengthy post on Facebook on Jun. 23.

“We have attempted to instruct customers waiting in line to wear face coverings and practice social distancing through signage on the public sidewalk and with a banner on our railing,” the venue wrote.

“Our oversight of the line on our stairs has been successful, but trying to get customers to follow our recommendations on the public sidewalk has been challenging,” it added. “Because we have no authority to control lines on public property, we are left with the dilemma of staying open and letting this situation continue, or closing until we can devise a strategy that eliminates the lines altogether.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus

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E.U. Plans to Bar Most U.S. Travelers When Bloc Reopens

The full list finalized on Friday includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, Andorra, San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican. China will be included if it also opens its borders to European Union travelers, as reciprocal reopening is one of the criteria used to make the final selection for the safe list.

Britain, despite having left the E.U., is still being considered part of the bloc until year’s end, and so was not part of the discussion over outside visitors.

A detailed guide of criteria shared among diplomats and reviewed this week by The New York Times said that the list should include only countries with a “comparable or better epidemiological situation as the average in the E.U.+ area,” and that the data from those countries must be credible and demonstrate a robust system for containing the virus.

The term “E.U.+” refers to the European Union plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which do not belong to the E.U. but are normally part of its open-borders zone.

Criteria for exceptions to the safe list were also detailed in the guide, adding flexibility. Those included health workers, diplomats, humanitarian workers, transit passengers, asylum seekers and students, as well as “passengers traveling for imperative family reasons” and foreign workers whose employment in Europe is deemed essential.

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Washington, DC, orders restaurant and bar closures to limit coronavirus spread

The suspension — which also orders health clubs, spas, massage parlors and theaters to close by Tuesday — is set to last until April 1.

“There is, of course, a lot more that we have to learn about COVID-19, but one thing that we know is that social distancing can mitigate the spread of the virus,” Bowser said at a press conference Monday. “At the moment, social distancing is our main tool for flattening the curve.”

The new restrictions in Washington follow similar orders being carried out by state and local governments across the country in an effort to contain the virus, which has infected more than 4,000 people and killed at least 70 in the United States, according to health officials.

New York and Las Vegas both announced major closures of their entertainment industries on Sunday, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio temporarily closing restaurants, nightclubs and concert venues.

White House advises public to avoid groups of more than 10, asks people to stay away from bars and restaurants

Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington state and Pennsylvania have all issued similar orders to protect citizens during the coronavirus pandemic.

On a national level, the White House has advised all Americans to avoid groups of more than 10 and urged older people to stay at home altogether.
The new guidance, which President Donald Trump announced from the White House in an uncharacteristically sober press conference, reflected the heightened gravity of the situation facing the country as more and more people become infected.

“If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus and we’re going to have a big celebration all together,” Trump said at the White House.

Bowser, who has previously called on the federal government to “step it up” in response to the pandemic, added Monday that “when we slow the spread of COVID, we protect our hospital and healthcare facilities from getting overwhelmed.”

“We are able to keep more hospital beds open and make better use of limited resources,” she said.

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New York removed questions about mental health from the bar so law students will no longer suffer in silence

“Today marks a historic step forward in addressing the ongoing mental health crisis in the legal profession,” said New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) President Henry M. Greenberg. “Future generations of New York lawyers no longer need to live in fear that bravely and smartly seeking treatment for mental health issues could one day derail their careers.”
The decision follows a CNN report on Sunday that law students said they didn’t get mental health treatment for fear it would keep them from becoming lawyers. According to one study, 45% of law students said they would be discouraged from seeking mental health treatment out of concern it would negatively affect bar admission.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced the decision — supported by educators and mental health organizations– in her State of the Judiciary address and credited the NYSBA for raising the issue, the NYSBA said in a release Wednesday.

A report from the NYSBA Working Group on Attorney Mental Health’s report in November found that law students are experiencing more stress than ever, but that mental health inquiries on the application lead many students not to seek help, the NYSBA said. It also concluded that such questions were in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Two days later, State Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brad Hoylman introduced legislation prohibiting the application from asking about mental health, the NYSBA said.

Law students say they don't get mental health treatment for fear it will keep them from becoming lawyers. Some states are trying to change that

New York is the 11th state to remove questions around mental health, the NYSBA said.

The questions have been removed voluntarily in some cases, but by the Department of Justice in the case of Louisiana.

The DOJ launched an investigation and concluded in 2014 that the Louisiana bar violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through practices including making “discriminatory inquiries” about mental health, subjecting applicants to additional investigations because of their mental health conditions and making discriminatory admissions recommendations.

A settlement between the department and the state mandated changes including removing “intrusive” questions about mental health. The ADA has not yet been applied to any other state’s bar.

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‘He Also Likes The Bacon Bits’: Bird Seen Eating From Twin Cities Supermarket Salad Bar – WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There was a recent bird sighting in an unusual place.

When Daniel Hoffeld went to the Shakopee Hy-Vee for his lunch break Tuesday, something strange caught his eye.

“While we’re sitting there I saw something and [was] just like, ‘What was that [laughs]?” Hoffeld said.

After convincing himself he was seeing things, there it was — right in front of him.

“’Look over at the salad bar, there’s a bird [laughs]!’” Hoffeld said.

(credit: Daniel Hoffeld)

Still in disbelief, Hoffeld started recording.

“So while I’m sitting there filming, this lady comes over to me [and I’m like], ‘Oh, I’m gonna get in trouble [laughs],’ and she goes, ‘Oh, you’re just looking at the bird?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah!’” he said.

Hoffeld tells us the worker he talked to seemed to know the bird well.

“I didn’t tell her, like, to change it out. It’s just anyone knowing you might want to do something about the watermelon. And she was like, ‘Oh yeah, he loves the watermelon. He also likes the bacon bits, and over there on the Coke machine it gets some standing water, so he likes to drink out of it and take baths. And when he’s done, he flies over behind the little hickory hut and that’s where I think he lives,” Hoffeld said.

We saw the bird for ourselves on Tuesday, at the same spot, the salad bar.

A WCCO camera catches the bird sitting at the salad bar (credit: CBS)

We reached out to managers at the store, who tell us they are aware of the situation, and that they have had professionals out over the past week to try and take care of it.

“I feel bad, I don’t want anything to happen to the bird, but at the same time, like, people eat off that salad bar,” Hoffeld said. “It seems like Hy-Vee’s his home now, so, maybe it warms back up, he’ll want to leave, but if he’s eating that good I don’t think he will [laughs]!”

Hy-Vee corporate officials gave WCCO this statement Thursday evening:

We do everything possible to ensure our customers’ safety. The instant we discovered the bird in our store, we immediately contacted a pest control company and took steps to address the situation. We also took steps to follow proper food safety measures. In addition, it is also standard procedure for us to change out our salad bar every day to make sure we are serving the freshest produce. We pride ourselves on having clean locations, and it is very unfortunate that this bird made its way inside, which occasionally can occur in retail stores.

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Retired bomb truck owned by Allegheny County police to be turned into mobile wine bar

Bomb Bar! Question: What the heck is a Bomb Bar? Answer: It’s a retired bomb truck with swag, once owned by Allegheny County police, that’s now in the hands of Dok Harris, who will soon convert it into his personal mobile wine bar.Dok Harris is the son of legendary Steelers running back Franco Harris. And he may become popular for legendary creativity, by turning the 13-year-old vehicle with 40,000 miles, into his personal wine bar.Harris purchased it a few weeks ago at the annual auction at Pittsburgh International Airport. He said he paid $8,500 by bidding online. “I saw it online and I said that’s really cool,” said Harris. “A mobile wine bar, tailgate vehicle.”When in service, the vehicle could provide electrical power to as many as 12 stations at once. Harris said it will have that same capacity when he takes it to tailgating parties at Penn State, Pitt and Steelers football games. It will become a miniature entertainment hub with multiple TVs, speakers and a DJ.Apparently the retired bomb truck was anointed with swag when put up for auction. It’s auction number was 32, the same number Franco Harris wore when he ran the rock for the Steelers.

Bomb Bar!

Question: What the heck is a Bomb Bar?

Answer: It’s a retired bomb truck with swag, once owned by Allegheny County police, that’s now in the hands of Dok Harris, who will soon convert it into his personal mobile wine bar.

Dok Harris is the son of legendary Steelers running back Franco Harris. And he may become popular for legendary creativity, by turning the 13-year-old vehicle with 40,000 miles, into his personal wine bar.

Harris purchased it a few weeks ago at the annual auction at Pittsburgh International Airport.

He said he paid $8,500 by bidding online. “I saw it online and I said that’s really cool,” said Harris. “A mobile wine bar, tailgate vehicle.”

When in service, the vehicle could provide electrical power to as many as 12 stations at once. Harris said it will have that same capacity when he takes it to tailgating parties at Penn State, Pitt and Steelers football games.

It will become a miniature entertainment hub with multiple TVs, speakers and a DJ.

Apparently the retired bomb truck was anointed with swag when put up for auction. It’s auction number was 32, the same number Franco Harris wore when he ran the rock for the Steelers.

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Facebook post goes viral detailing alleged racist incident at popular Nashville bar

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Laura Murphy posted a photo with her husband on Facebook with a lengthy caption that has gone viral. She claims her husband wasn’t allowed inside Jason Aldean’s Kitchen and Rooftop bar because the color of his skin. Their story has now been shared on social media by more than 14,000 people as of Sunday night.

In the post, Murphy says that she was visiting Nashville this weekend with her husband and some friends. On Friday, around midnight they said they decided to walk over to Jason Aldean’s Kitchen and Rooftop Bar. Murphy, who is white, says her husband, who is black, was stopped by the bouncer and told he couldn’t go inside because he was wearing a hoodie.

Murphy goes on to say in the post that she noticed a number of white people exiting the bar with hoodies on. When they questioned the bouncer’s decision again, Murphy claims the bouncer said that they were radioing down to him telling him he couldn’t let them enter. Racism is why Murphy believes they were turned away.

Since she shared the story online, the post has garnered more than 6,000 comments.

NewsChannel 5 reached out to the restaurant’s leadership team on the incident and they said, “We strive to be one of the most welcoming establishments in Nashville and are horrified by these reports. Our leadership team is investigating this situation and will take action should we find that any of our employees or third-party security contractors violated our policies. We appreciate those who have brought this to our attention.”

Murphy has updated her post saying that someone from the restaurant’s security service reached out to apologize, admitting hoodies are allowed in the restaurant. Regardless, Murphy writes that the incident is a good reminder that we need to be more accepting and kind to one another.

“This weekend we came to Nashville with some of our friends. Last night we went out to Broadway. It was around 37 degrees outside. We went to a few places and had a lot of fun. Around midnight we decided to walk over to Jason Aldean’s Kitchen and Rooftop Bar. There was a pretty long line to get in, so we waited. When we got to the front, our ID’s were checked and we started to walk up the stairs. My husband, who is black, was first in line and was stopped by a bouncer and told he couldn’t come in because he was wearing a hoodie. He asked if he could just take it off, and was told no that he had to leave. As he walked down the other side of the stairs and the rest of us followed, there were three other black men at the bottom watching people enter. These three had all also been turned away because of some dress code violation. Not all of them were in hoodies so I’m not sure what they violated. I’ve searched their website and have yet to find a dress code policy, nor was one posted outside. We were in a group of five, the other four of us being white. We all walked back down the stairs, mostly dumbfounded, but as we turned around we noticed numerous people coming out of the bar with hoodies on. They all were white. We asked them if they were asked to leave and they all said no, they had been there for hours. We also watched two white men be allowed to enter by removing their hoodies. Of course, we all were angry at this point and tried to ask the bouncer why these other men could remove their hoodies, and why we’d seen multiple men coming out wearing them. Of course we knew why. But nobody would say it. The bouncer just said that they were radioing down to him telling him he couldn’t let them enter. He did call a manager, who only escalated the situation so much so that when she ran after one of our friends screaming, her own associates were yelling at her that she was going to lose her job. We walked to another bar, and had zero problems the rest of the night because of the threatening hoodie and black skin of my husband.

Now. I’ve been with my husband for almost 20 years. We’ve sat in restaurants and never been waited on, we’ve experienced passive racism in our daily lives. But NEVER in my life have I seen such an outwardly blatant display of racism in person. People live this every day because they happen to have black skin. It’s easy for those of us without the daily reminder to walk around oblivious to the behaviors of others. This world needs to change, and without telling stories like this, we send the message that this is OK. It most definitely is not.

I’m making this post public and asking you to share it. If you’re ever in Nashville, I’d just ask that you do not patronize Jason Aldean’s Kitchen and Rooftop Bar. There are so many fun places here, who welcome people of all skin tones. Just enjoy yourselves and be kind.

I’ve included a pic of me and my very threatening black husband in his hoodie from last night.

Update: Wow. Thank you all for your comments and shares. Someone has reached out to me and asked for my contact info.

Update again: I did want to update and let everyone know that I just received a call from their 3rd party security service owner, who apologized for the situation and acknowledged the incident. He did say that he’s taking care of it with his associates. He himself is a black man married to a white woman, and completely understood the situation. He was very cordial, and I’m confident that he will do everything in his power to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I hope some change takes place and nobody else experiences this at this restaurant/bar or others in Nashville. Other than this incident, we had an amazing trip to Nashville. I appreciate them taking the time to call me and talk about it.

For the record, he believes this was a miscommunication between staff members and that hoodies ARE allowed in the restaurant/bar.”

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Man dresses up as birdhouse, releases live birds in Washington County bar

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) — Police in Washington County say it was a successful Halloween, except for one odd experience.

“In all my days of bartending, I have never anything like this,” said Lori Howe, bartender at The Alibi.

A man walked into the bar in the town of Farmington dressed as a birdhouse.

Surveillance video shows him walk up to the bar and just stand there while the bartender wonders what’s going on.

That’s when something bizarre happens. The man released two live sparrows from the birdhouse.

“I’m like hey man, like can I get you a drink or something? He didn’t say anything and releases one bird out of holes in the front of the birdhouse costume,” said Howe.

The man then walks out of the bar, gets in his truck and leaves. 

The bartender says the birds were safely removed from the bar.

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‘Not qualified’ rating and accusation from American Bar Association moves Trump nominee to tears

Lawrence J.C. VanDyke grew emotional, with his face turning red as he defended himself against the letter’s conclusions that he could would not treat LGBTQ litigants fairly.

“I do not believe that,” VanDyke said. “It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God,” adding, “they should all be treated with dignity and respect.”

The rare outburst comes as the ABA is under continued attack from conservatives who question its methodology and argue that the group that has rated potential nominees for decades is biased against conservatives. It also comes as the President and Senate Republicans have pushed through a record number of judicial nominees as Democrats have questioned their qualifications.

President Donald Trump nominated VanDyke, who currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice, last month for the post on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The President has repeatedly attacked the liberal-leaning 9th Circuit for rulings that have blocked administration initiatives, especially on immigration.

The ABA on Tuesday night issued a blistering analysis of the nomination.

“Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules,” William C. Hubbard, chair of the ABA’s standing committee on the federal judiciary, wrote. “There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.”

So far, at least six of the President’s nominees have received a “not qualified” rating as the Trump administration and the Republican-led Senate has transformed the face of the judiciary by placing nearly 160 nominees on the federal bench including two Supreme Court nominees. But the letter triggered an angry backlash from supporters of the Harvard-educated lawyer who called it a hit job from a liberal-leaning group.

“The ABA is a liberal dark-money group, fronting for trial lawyers who donate millions of dollars to Democratic politicians,” said Mike Davis, who served as chief counsel for then-Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and now runs the Article III project, a group that supports Trump’s nominees. Davis calls the ABA process “fatally flawed, as it is intentionally structured to couple liberal activists with a subjective, black-box process that oftentimes results in unfair hits on conservative judicial nominees.”

And Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network, which advocates for conservative nominees, charged that the lead evaluator of VanDyke, Montana attorney Marcia Davenport, previously contributed to Van Dyke’s opponent in a 2014 election for a seat on the Montana Supreme Court.

That criticism from this Congress has been muted of late, however, because Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, has praised the group’s role.

VanDyke is former solicitor general of both Montana and Nevada, but the ABA letter about his fitness for the federal bench was particularly harsh on his temperament. It notes that some interviewees raised concerns about whether VanDyke would be “fair to persons who are gay, lesbian or otherwise part of the LGBTQ community. “Mr VanDyke would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community,” the letter said.

At the hearing, VanDyke said he was “disappointed, shocked and hurt” when he received the letter Tuesday night. He testified that he was “still processing” it and said he’d since learned that one of the ABA raters involved had donated to his opponent when he ran for a state judiciary race and ultimately lost. He said that during a three-hour meeting with the ABA as the group studied his record in connection with the nomination to federal court, he tried to respond to some of the negative comments lodged against him but the rater told him that she was in a “hurry” and that she wouldn’t let him fully respond.

Graham turned to another nominee, Patrick J. Bumatay, who was sitting next to VanDyke, and is also up for a seat on the 9th Circuit. During his opening statement, Bumatay had introduced his husband and their two children. Graham asked Bumatay if he thought VanDyke could be fair to him. Bumatay said he could.

Democrats on the committee, meanwhile, reacted with concern about the allegations in the letter.

Sen. Patrick Leahy called it “one of the most alarming he’d seen” after some 45 years in Congress. Sen. Chris Coons noted that the letter was “fairly damning” because it was based on interviews with people who had worked with the nominee over the years. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse suggested that the ABA should be brought in to testify about the matter.

But Republican Sen. Mike Lee reacted furiously, claiming that the letter was “unfounded.” “If this man is not qualified, I don’t know who is,” Lee said. He added that the ABA no longer deserves a “seat at the table” because it has little transparency and cannot be seen as a neutral player when it comes to confirmation hearings.

“The time has come,” Lee said, for the White House and the committee to suspend the ABA’s involvement until there could be a thorough investigation. Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz said the group had found VanDyke to be guilty of “practicing law while conservative.”

Asked for comment, the ABA declined to comment on the record, but acknowledged that Davenport had made a $150 contribution to VanDyke’s opponent.

One ABA official said that the group were not going to comment on a $150 contribution made five years ago and pointed to the group’s rules that specify a member of the standing committee agreed not to participate in, or contribute to, any federal election campaign or engage in any partisan political activity on a federal level. The race in question was for the Montana state Supreme Court.

Importance of ABA ratings

The ABA ratings have been used to criticize Trump nominees who liberal critics fear, and conservatives hope that will provide major rulings on issues such as abortion, the Second Amendment and affirmative action. And if some of those cases make their way to the Supreme Court, conservatives will be content to know that the strong conservative majority with Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh will be there to rule in their favor.

Mitch McConnell raises money vowing to stop impeachment

As of last week, the Senate has now confirmed five judges the ABA deemed unqualified: Leonard Steven Grasz, Charles Barnes Goodwin, Holly Lou Teeter, Jonathan Kobes, and Justin Walker. Goodwin and Teeter received support from Democrats, while the other three were approved only with Republican votes.

Overall, the setbacks have been few as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pushed through a record number of appellate judges and often praises a legacy that will last decades.

Two Trump judicial nominees who have been called unqualified by the ABA — John O’Connor and Brett Talley — have withdrawn from consideration. But the setbacks for McConnell and Trump have been far outweighed by their successes in confirming scores and scores of judges. Their effort to reshape the judicial branch with young conservatives is perhaps their longest-lasting legacy.

Last week, Graham shepherded the confirmation of Justin R. Walker, 37, an assistant professor of law at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, who received a “not qualified” rating from the ABA, to be a judge on a US district court.

A spokesperson for the ABA said that its rating process is done by a standing committee of the federal judiciary which is independent of the ABA leadership and does extensive peer reviews of the nominees writings and interviews with people who have worked with them. They have three criteria: integrity, temperament and experience and say that ideology does not factor in the evaluation at all.

The ABA rated Walker not qualified, it said in a letter, because he “does not presently have the requisite trial or litigation experience or its equivalent.” The letter stressed that the committee had no questions on his temperament or integrity and that in the future it felt like he had “great potential to serve as a federal judge.”

McConnell, for his part, called Walker “unquestionably the most outstanding nomination that I’ve ever recommended to Presidents to serve on the bench in Kentucky.”

Another nominee the ABA has deemed unqualified is US district judge nominee Sarah E. Pitlyk, who serves as a special counsel at the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm that has litigated against Planned Parenthood and was nominated for the Eastern District of Missouri.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on her nomination Thursday.

The ABA also criticized her lack of trial and litigation experience.

“A nominee to the federal bench ordinarily should have a minimum of 12 years’ experience in the practice of law,” the committee wrote, although they said the guideline is “neither a hard-and-fast rule or an automatic disqualifier.” “However, Ms. Pitlyk’s experience to date has a very substantial gap, namely the absence of any trial or even real litigation experience.”

“Ms. Pitlyk has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal,” wrote William Hubbard, chair of the ABA’s standing committee on the federal judiciary. ‘She has never examined a witness. “Though Ms. Pitlyk has argued one case in a court of appeals, she has not taken a deposition. She has not argued any motion in a state or federal trial court. She has never picked a jury. She has never participated at any stage of a criminal matter.”

That letter sparked a fight during Pitlyk’s nomination hearing before the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said the ABA has a “ridiculous record of behaving as a partisan mouthpiece when it comes to judicial nominations,” and that some members have donated to Democratic lawmakers.

Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin then remarked that Hubbard had donated to Graham in the past.

“A good man,” joked Graham. He later defended the ABA’s recommendations as “helpful,” calling it a “fine group” that was politically left in his view, but employed people whose judgment he trusts. Graham added that it failed to appreciate Pitlyk’s “non-traditional practice.”

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Downtown St. Pete bar ‘voluntarily closing’ amid complaints of rashes, inspectors find bed bug

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A downtown St. Petersburg pub is “voluntarily closing” amid reports of someone receiving a rash.

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County (DOH Pinellas) said they received a complaint that someone claims they received a rash from the benches at the Pelican Pub off 2nd Street North.

ABC Action News received photos from different women who say they have had similar experiences, and rashes after visiting and sitting on the benches as well.


PINELLAS NEWS | The latest headlines from Pinellas County

State inspectors were on scene Tuesday and found a live bed bug on the bench, one dead bed bug on the bench and one live palmetto bug on the floor, which was killed.

Maggie Hall, with the health department, said they received a similar complaint in September; however, after the investigation they found the complaint was not valid.

According to public documents, the health department said the “sanitizer used to wipe down tables, stools, benches, and bar was a bleach and water solution. Bleach solution was 100 ppm.”

One woman tells ABC Action News she went to urgent care with the rash, and was diagnosed with irritant (chemical) dermatitis.

Hall went on to say that their office does not do medical exams, and can not speculate on the rashes as they are notified from health care providers about rashes.

ABC Action News reached out to the pub and received the following statement:

“We’re are taking the claims made on social media over the past couple of days very seriously, and we are doing everything in our power to determine if something at our establishment might be causing this and if so, how to rectify it as soon as possible.

As a result, we have contacted the Florida Department of Health to ask for their assistance and we are working with them to provide them with whatever they might need. We are scheduled to meet with them at 1:30 p.m. today.

Our pub has been operating in St. Petersburg for 10 years, and the bench in question has been in place for nearly five years.

Last month, we received the first and only formal complaint that we are aware of from a patron related to a potential rash. The Florida Department of Health came out shortly thereafter, and we worked with them at that time to provide them whatever they needed. Following their visit, they gave us the all clear with no conclusive results or findings.

We wish Rachael and any others affected by this unfortunate situation a speedy recovery and we want to thank her for bringing this to our attention. If this matter is being caused by something in or near the environment of our pub, we will work as quickly as possible to remedy the situation and ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Thank you to all of our guests and patrons for their continued loyalty and support.”

Inspectors also said chlorine levels in the bar sanitizer sink were high and quaternary ammonium was a little bit low, which the pub says have both now been corrected.

The pub released another statement saying it is voluntarily closing while the issues are addressed.

“There are two issues and we are voluntarily closing the bar down to the public until those matters are resolved,” said Sean Knight, an owner of the Pelican Pub. “First, we have contacted pest control to treat the space immediately, and second, we will be replacing the entire bench beginning today. The safety of our patrons is our number one priority and we have decided to take immediate action to ensure any and all items, which can be done, will be done to ensure the safety of our customers. While we are not sure what may have actually been responsible, we want to remove any and all possibility of danger. We’ve been a part of this community for going on 10 years now and those who come here aren’t just customers to us, they’re our neighbors, family, friends and we want to make sure that their safety comes first.”

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