Archive for Local

May
21

Standing Ovation

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Photo by TJ Amos

I’m an inside/outside player. On the outside, I get to throw stones at the Democratic Party on national blogs when I get a bug up my ass. On the inside, as someone who helps get local and statewide candidates elected, people think I bring something valuable to the table and they listen to me. And I have a national platform to take them to task if they don’t. But if I were on the outside completely, I’d just be another harping lefty activist who’s all sticks and no carrots. But since I’ve been doing field successfully for 7 cycles, I’m now an old guy and maybe even The Establishment. When George W. Bush arrived, I knew I needed allies to fight back, so I went to where I could find them in bulk in one convenient location. Do I agree with all of them on everything? Hell, no. But that was never the point. Strength in numbers was. When I got there, local politics was still a southern old-boys club. Now, I’m one of the people in charge. My chair and I and my “Moral Monday” arrestee state senator are from Chicago.

I do not understand the need among many progressives to bet it all on one spin of the roulette wheel with everything bet on black, or on the long bomb with time running out, or on who’s running at the top of the ticket in a presidential year. My job description doesn’t change depending on who’s at the top of the ticket. As long as someone from our side of the aisle wins and gives me the next three SCOTUS picks, I’m good. Some coattails would be nice as well. That’s just a part of why I don’t much care about the Bernie v. Hillary thing.

Last week I went to the funeral of a friend of mine who was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer just weeks before. People said he was too focused on helping the community to look after himself. Isaac Coleman was a Freedom Rider and a member of SNCC. Two years ago he was declared a local “Living Treasure.” The church was packed. They started the “service” by naming off groups he had worked with and asked people from those groups to stand. Some got to stand multiple times. The largest group was the local Democratic Party. Isaac was a fierce advocate for the right to vote. “Take five,” he would say, “and if you can’t take five, take ten.”

The very idea that as an activist you would bet so much on a single, big political race would have seemed alien to him. It is to me. The local needs are too great.

I live in a state taken over by a T-party legislature that has passed one of the worst voter ID bills in the country, drafted absolutely diabolical redistricting maps, passed HB2 as a get-out-the-vote tool, and launches regular legislative attacks against our cities where the largest block of blue votes are. President Bernie isn’t going to fix that for me. Neither is President Hillary. And not in Michigan or Wisconsin either. We have to beat them ourselves. Here, not in the Electoral College.

But friends on the left now talk about the Democratic Party the way conservatives talk about “the gummint,” as though it is some sort of monolithic beast with agency of its own apart from that of its voters and activists. I get it. That’s how it looks if your focus is Washington. It looks a mite different out here in the provinces where we’re fighting the border wars. Sometimes out here — and more regularly than every four years — we get to win. That’s what keeps us going. Because the battle never ends.

I work with some very good people and some very good Democrats. But I’m seeing smart, good-hearted (many new) activists who didn’t learn from 2008. They think ideology is what’s most important. Talk the nuts and bolts of winning — practical politics — and they see you as gutless, cautious, calcified, afraid to bet it all on black and lose dramatically, because grinding out yardage on the ground is selling out. (A Princeton historian addressed that in part on air last week.) Their focus is the Big Enchilada (the presidency) when the fights that have more immediate impact on their lives are more local. That’s not to say global warming and national issues are not important. But if you want to sustain yourself for the Long March, you need to drink in some local victories or you’ll burn out before getting there.

Isaac never did. At then end of the service, we all gave him a long, standing ovation.

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City leaders and a group of organizers here have been fighting state efforts to take over our city’s water system for several years. City of Asheville v State of North Carolina, et al. goes before the state Supreme Court next month. The originator of the bill (an ALEC board member before he lost his state House seat) insisted transferring control to a regional authority was not the first step towards privatization. You know, we just didn’t believe him. The water situation in Flint, Michigan is sure to come up in oral arguments on May 17.

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) of Milwaukee is the Ranking Member of the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee that oversees U.S. relations with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. She is not too keen on water privatization either. Privatization opponents in Wisconsin recently fought off an effort led by Aqua America Inc. to privatize water there:

The legislation would legalize purchases of water utilities by out-of-state corporations and change existing law to make public referendums on such purchases optional instead of mandatory.

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Apr
07

Maybe they’ll have to drink the water?

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MichMichigan Gov. Rick Snyder has even more legal trouble coming his way:

A federal racketeering lawsuit by hundreds of resident in Flint, Michigan, is alleging the city’s two-year water crisis was the result of an“intentional scheme” crafted by state officials and Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, to balance the city’s budget.

In a press conference announcing the 17-count racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations (Rico) complaint on Wednesday, attorneys said the state of Michigan ran Flint’s day-to-day operations through an emergency manager, who prioritized balancing the city’s budget through a cost-cutting measure: switching Flint’s water source in April 2014 from Lake Huron, which serviced the city for more than 50 years, to a local river.

With adults and children essentially poisoned by lead, a neurotoxin, the damages could go on “for generations,” said attorneys about the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Flint.

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Categories : Justice, National, Water
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Mar
30

NC’s HB2: Is it getting hot in here?

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House Bill 2 (HB2), North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law is drawing lots of fire from inside and outside the state. New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and West Palm Beach have banned travel to North Carolina for their employees. Apple, Biogen, PayPal, IBM, and the NBA have condemned the law. Plus Dow Chemical, Google, Bayer, the NCAA, and others. The press center for the annual High Point furniture trade show announced Monday that “dozens of customers have contacted the High Point Market Authority to inform us that they have cancelled plans to attend the Market in April due to passage of HB2.”

Yesterday, former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr. criticized HB2 as “inappropriate, unnecessary legislation that will hurt North Carolina.” The Charlotte-based Bank of America was a major player in the financial crisis in 2008, but still figures prominently among the state’s employers. McColl’s criticism will not help McCrory, Charlotte’s former mayor.

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Feb
25

Saturday! Saturday! Saturday!

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Want the skinny on how the fall elections go down in Buncombe Co., NC?

Precinct Meeting/Volunteer Recruitment Event

precinct-cluster-infopage.png

An organized and functional precinct is the foundation of the Democratic Party. The BCDP Strategic Plan is based on the DNC’s 50-State Strategy which is “an ambitious effort to build the Democratic Party from the ground up in every single precinct…” Every precinct matters! Every vote counts! In Buncombe County we will “continue an aggressive and forward-looking effort based on the belief that if we invest in people and invest in our party, we can continue to turn once-red districts and states blue in elections to come.”*

To reinforce our efforts, the BCDP established 11 clusters of precincts to further strengthen Get Out The Vote efforts, provide mentors to new leadership, coordinate volunteer efforts and facilitate communication and fund raising efforts. Clusters build camaraderie, friendship and make electing Democrats a lot of FUN!

Every election year is the most important, and 2016 is no different. Democrats need only 4 more seats in the North Carolina House to overcome a veto-proof majority. Now, more than ever, Democrats need to elect a Democratic Governor who will bring respect back to the great State of North Carolina.

That’s why our 2016 Annual Precinct Meetings are Volunteer Recruitment Events! Plan to attend and bring your Democratic neighbors and friends. Volunteer! Vote! ELECT DEMOCRATS!

Agenda for all clusters is as follows:

  1. Message from the State Party Chair
  2. Discussion of Responsibilities and Expectations of Precinct
  3. Election of Precinct Officers ONLY if vacancies exist
  4. Elect Delegates to the County Convention
  5. Collect Sustaining Fund donations  – Checks should be made payable to BCDP
  6. Hot 100 Membership
  7. Volunteer Sign-Up
  8. Proposing and adopting resolutions for consideration at the county convention

Find your neighborhood meeting HERE

Please RSVP To the appropriate Cluster Leader/Precinct Chair found in the PDF.

Categories : Democrats, Local
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Feb
24

Lunatics running the asylum

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CaptureThe sooner America legalizes marijuana and collectively lights one up, the better. At the risk of sounding as if I did at this early hour, let’s look at the some of the lunatics running the asylum.

It is an article of the one, true, conservative faith that government must be run “like a business.” NC Gov. Pat McCrory and the state of North Carolina have a state Supreme Court date in May to settle whether an ALEC-inspired legislature can abscond with a city’s water system and turn it over to a regional authority — the first step, some believe, on the road to privatizing the public water supply’s operation and/or ownership. The experience of Flint, Michigan is sure to come up. So how’d that work out for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder? A former adviser explains (emphasis mine):

Dennis Schornack, who retired after serving more than three years as a senior adviser on transportation issues to Snyder during his first term, is the first current or former Snyder official to directly criticize the governor and his management style for contributing to the public health crisis.

Schornack said he still believes Snyder is an intelligent leader and “basically a good guy.” But, he said, decisions about Flint’s drinking water should have been dictated by science instead of finances and the bottom line.

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Feb
04

Flint goes to Washington

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Photo ACLU Michigan

Photo ACLU Michigan

As some day it may happen that a scapegoat must be found, they’ve got a little list. The investigations into the poisoning of Flint, Michigan are only just beginning. The FBI is now involved:

WASHINGTON — Government officials tangled on Wednesday over who was to blame for the crisis in Flint, Michigan, that allowed lead-contaminated water to flow to thousands of residents at a combative congressional hearing that devolved into a partisan fight over witnesses and no-shows.

“A failure of epic proportions,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at the first Capitol Hill hearing since the crisis in Flint emerged last year.

Flint’s former state-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Earley, was a no show. He refused a federal subpoena claiming there was too short a notice for him to appear in Washington. The Detroit Free Press reports:

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Jan
17

Ben, I just want to say one word to you. Water.

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Detroit Water & Sewerage Water Treatment Plant

The United States used to be the subject of Michael Moore documentaries. Now we are living in one. Moore was in his home town of Flint, Michigan yesterday to protest the contamination of the city’s water with lead:

FLINT, MI — Filmmaker Michael Moore accused Gov. Rick Snyder of poisoning Flint water in a rally here today, Jan. 16, and called again for the U.S. attorney general to investigate the governor for what he called crimes against the city.

“I am standing in the middle of a crime scene …,” Moore said. “Ten people have been killed … because of a decision to save money.”

Yesterday, President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency in Flint, freeing federal dollars to help “save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in Genesee County.”

There is a long backstory to this situation. Wouldn’t you know, as Moore said, it involves the Midas Cult and money.

“A manmade catastrophe”

Before the credits roll for The Big Short, the screen goes black and a series of “where are they now” statements about the protagonists appears as an epilogue, including this one:

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Nov
04

The Real Question

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Development, affordability and diversity were key issues in the city council elections yesterday. Cannot remember where I heard it, but someone commented recently, “We are now a 4-crane town.”

The real question, an activist heard outside one North Asheville polling place, is do you want to continue building hotels? The current council seems to be bent, the voter said, on building hotels and getting in outside money and then things will get fixed versus growing the town from the inside out.

The AC-T reports:

ASHEVILLE – City voters picked two candidates who voiced some of the biggest concerns about fast-paced development and a regional environmental leader to take seats on the City Council.

Keith Young, deputy clerk of Buncombe County Superior Court and an outspoken proponent of a new downtown park and the first African-American elected since 2009, led the voting. Following him were Habitat for Humanity assistant manager Brian Haynes and Mountain True Executive Director Julie Mayfield.

Good campaigns all around. Congratulations to the winners, the other candidates, and all their volunteers.

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Nov
03

Election Day 2015

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Because of a “delicate condition,” no city council endorsements or anything, but we can say this:


GET OFF YOUR COUCH.
GET DOWN TO THE POLLS.
VOTE FOR A BETTER ASHEVILLE.

Just don’t love it to death, K?

For those of you outside city limits, here’s another cartoon.

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