Archive for North Carolina

Still recovering from an electrifying conference in Detroit. Wanted to post this.

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Rev. William Barber from the Forward Together movement spoke for an hour on Thursday night and wowed the Netroots Nation audience. It was many people’s first exposure to Rev. Barber, and it was all anyone could talk about on Friday morning. And least one person said it was the best speech they had ever heard live.
Barber drew energy from the crowd. He talked at one point about how, to get out of the wilderness, you don’t go down into the valley. There are snakes down there! Instead, he said, you make for the ridge tops.
From his telling, there is a climatic effect, an elevation above which snakes don’t go. Our politics, Barber said, have got to “rise above the snake line.” By the next morning, you could buy Rise above the snake line buttons in the exhibit hall with the coiled Tea Party snake below the line on the lower half.
He seemed to be enjoying himself, and was much lighter on his feet by the end of this speech even bouncing a little bit.
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Jul
19

People At Risk, Water A Weapon

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Michigan has Rick Snyder. North Carolina has Pat McCrory. Here in Detroit for Netroots Nation, it is clear that Michigan is facing some of the same issues with GOP governance as North Carolina. The Koch brothers’ influence is palpable to these people. And where North Carolina has Art Pope, Michigan has the DeVos family.

With twenty percent of the world’s fresh water in the Great Lakes and flowing past our hotel, Detroit faces water privatization. It was not lost on those in Asheville that when Michigan’s governor appointed an emergency manager for Detroit — superseding local democracy and local governance — about the first public asset that went on the auction block was its water and sewer.

Sound familiar?

Over and over again this weekend, stories being told at Netroots echo what we are experiencing in North Carolina. The same destructive agenda is being acted out across the country. Other states are worse off, having enacted budgets like Gov. Sam Brownback’s in Kansas ahead of Pat McCrory’s in North Carolina. But the results will be the same in the Old North State. We are only now seeing the leading edge.

As we sit here, a panel of local activists is discussing the privatization of Detroit’s water system and Michigan’s public schools. In actions described by activist Maureen Taylor as “beyond demonic,” thousands of poor residents are having their water cut off in Detroit. Some going without running water for over a year. Mothers with children. The United Nations

It is not encouraging to see how widespread the assault is on public institutions, but it is good to know we are not alone in the fight.

Jun
28

Dead Men: Tell No Tallies

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The voter suppression people make Thom Tillis look sane. Yes, it’s come to this.

The head of the Voter Integrity Project (VIP-NC) was on Pete Kalliner’s show on Monday urging listeners to call their representatives to oppose this Tillis-sponsored bill that passed unanimously in the NC House (115-0).

AN ACT TO CLARIFY THAT A VOTER WHO CASTS A MAIL-IN ABSENTEE BALLOT OR AN IN-PERSON ONE-STOP EARLY VOTE AND DIES THEREAFTER MAY NOT HAVE THAT BALLOT CHALLENGED ON ACCOUNT OF DEATH

VIP-NC objects.

Jun
27

Friday Open Thread

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Photo: Mark Clifton via Wikimedia Commons

Even the conservative Civitas Institute is growing wary of public-private partnerships. The state is getting ready to sign a 50-year contract with a foreign company with a track record of financial trouble on PPP deals elsewhere that leave taxpayers footing the bill for failure.

And Thom Tillis? He’s one of the driving forces behind the deal.

Gosh, where’s Fox News when you need them?

What’s gotten up your tailpipe this morning?

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First, there was slavery. This is something new, writes Charlie Pierce.

A few weeks back, I quoted this in the Citizen-Times:

“It’s just sad when a political party has so lost faith in its ideas that it’s pouring all of its energy into election mechanics. I am not willing to defend them anymore.”

– retiring Wisconsin state Senator Dale Schultz, the sole Senate Republican to oppose early voting limits

Except that’s not all they are pouring their energy into.

Each week, Moral Monday groups in Raleigh protest legislation passed by political vandals bent on unmaking the 20th century in North Carolina. The vandals’ allies are at work attempting to do the same across the country, uprooting the systems put in place that built America into a superpower. Not weapons systems, but systems put in place by the people and for the people to make their lives just a little bit better.

Political vandals wearing flag pins and waving Gadsden flags consider those systems — the country everyday Americans built in the 20th century — an abomination, and believe themselves to be our betters, not “traditional” Americans. This week, Cynthis Greene shot back at NC Speaker Thom Tillis for saying so:

Let’s just be clear, Thom: I’m not interested in your brand of tradition; I’m interested in the best, most humane traditions of our state. And I think you need a history lesson: Our North Carolina was a state that opened some of the nation’s first public health departments and publicly funded libraries—signs that at least some people in government cared about public health and education.

Not that Tillis, his bosses, or his acolytes will hear any of it. They’re too busy trying to work around a legal inconvenience called the North Carolina constitution, as Gene Nichol observed last week:

When our legislators move beyond the enactment of preferred policies to restrict access to the courts, or breach judicial independence, or constrain rights of expression and petition, or trump local government prerogative, or tilt the electoral playing field, they alter the structure, balance and legitimacy of government. They declare: “There’s a new sheriff in town, it’s our way or the highway and we’ve widened the on-ramp.” Huey Long must be proud.

Indeed. Yet it is more than just arrogance, but a kind of religious fervor. What markets itself as political ideology has, in fact, become more like a political cult full of fundamentalist zeal lending “a new kind of systematized cruelty” to our politics, as Charlie Pierce put it over at Esquire:

We cheer for cruelty and say that we are asking for personal responsibility among those people who are not us, because the people who are not us do not deserve the same benefits of the political commonwealth that we have. In our politics, we have become masters of camouflage. We practice fiscal cruelty and call it an economy. We practice legal cruelty and call it justice. We practice environmental cruelty and call it opportunity. We practice vicarious cruelty and call it entertainment. We practice rhetorical cruelty and call it debate. We set the best instincts of ourselves in conflict with each other until they tear each other to ribbons, and until they are no longer our best instincts but something dark and bitter and corroborate with itself. And then it fights all the institutions that our best instincts once supported, all the elements of the political commonwealth that we once thought permanent, all the arguments that we once thought settled — until there is a terrible kind of moral self-destruction that touches those institutions and leaves them soft and fragile and, eventually, evanescent. We do all these things, cruelty running through them like hot blood, and we call it our politics.

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Jun
24

Coming To NC This November?

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Poll watchers in Mississippi? What could go wrong?

Several right-wing groups have banded together to form a “voter integrity project’ in response to the news that Republican Senator Thad Cochran is courting black Democratic voters in his runoff with the Tea partier Chris McDaniel.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, Freedom Works and the Tea Party Patriots, all political action committees, will “deploy observers in areas where Mr. Cochran is recruiting Democrats,” according to a Times article. Ken Cuccinelli, the president of the Senate Conservative Funds, said these observers would be trained to see “whether the law is being followed.”

In a the source report, a Tea Party supporter suggested the Cochran campaign had (paraphrased, highlighting mine) “hired a community organizer to pay blacks to show up at the polls on Tuesday.”

Because that’s what “community organizers” do, isn’t it? wink.wink

NC’s Voter Integrity Project will be watching the polls here this election. Stay tuned.

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Jun
18

Moral Monday: June 16, 2014

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The work continues.

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Jun
10

Asheville Wins Water Lawsuit

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Photo by Gordon Smith.

Photo by Gordon Smith.

Wake County Superior Court ruled Monday in favor of the City of Asheville in its lawsuit opposing a state law transferring control of the city’s water system to a regional authority.
Asheville officials said Monday that Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. ruled state lawmakers last year violated the state constitution and failed to compensate for the cost of building the water system.

The Asheville Citizen-Times cites the mayor on the court ruling:

Mayor Esther Manheimer said that by taking the city’s position on four of the six legal points at issue, Manning’s ruling would be more difficult for the Court of Appeals to overturn. The decision does not address the two other points the city raised, that the law was an unlawful interference with the city’s contract with bondholders.

Manheimer called the ruling “great for Asheville.”

City legal staff certainly deserves a nod for all the hard work. But nobody worked longer hours and more doggedly on this fight — including all the round trips to Raleigh for hearings — than local activist Barry Summers.

But Summers and other opponents of a regionalized system had better be ready for the next round. The state will likely appeal the ruling. The law’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, called the court ruling “the first step in a very long journey.” And should the ruling stand, Moffitt might legislate again if he can find support among his colleagues for a more broadly written bill that puts more of their cities’ infrastructure in the crosshairs.

Unless Moffitt loses his House District 116 reelection bid this fall. A recent poll PPP poll released by his opponent, Brian Turner, showed Turner with a slight lead and 49 percent of voter with an unfavorable view of Moffitt.

Jun
09

Climate Change Fracking Our Beer

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In Three Ways Climate Change Is Going To Ruin Your Beer, Think Progress’ Ryan Koronowski looks at how brewers are trying to get ahead of water and ingredient shortages:

study from 2009 suggested that the quality of Saaz hops from the Czech Republic has been falling since 1954 due to warmer temperatures. This is true for hops-growing regionsacross Europe. “If you drink beer now, the issue of climate change is impacting you right now,” Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company sustainability director Jenn Orgolini said in 2011. “Craft brewers — the emphasis there is on craft. We make something, and it’s a deeply agricultural product.”

Koronowski cites efforts by brewers to reduce water consumption and carbon emissions as among other tactics brewers are using  to get ahead of the climate change curve even as their retromingent brethren deny climate change is real and demand the government do nothing to stop it.

That would not include North Carolina businesses such as wind-powered Outer Banks Brewing Station and Asheville’s New Belgium.

New Belgium Brewing Company last year was recognized by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council for putting in place systems that allow it to divert 99.8 percent of its waste from the landfill.

If climate change is a long-term threat to local brewers, what might fracking do in the near-term?

Independent scientists who have reviewed a water analysis conducted by state authorities of a Texas resident’s drinking well say the chemical signatures found in the water may provide “the nation’s first conclusive link” between fracking operations and aquifer contamination.

Corporate pirates? Drink up, me hearties.

Jun
02

Political Pushmi-Pullyu

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Hearing more anecdotes about rank-and-file Republicans seriously peeved with Raleigh and Thom Tillis. Guy I met last night has a Republican aunt in Wilkes Co. (Foxx territory) — retired 30-yr teacher. He’s never seen her hot like this — over cuts to teaching assistants and programs. And she’s not buying the GOP spin on teacher raises.

But will she hold her nose, throw the bums out, or just stay home this fall?

The GOP is pushing people towards Democrats, but are Democrats in Raleigh pulling? We’d better have more of a game plan for the fall than “we’re not them.” That won’t motivate Democratic turnout or crossover voters. Disgruntled voters need something affirmative to vote for.

What should it be?