Archive for North Carolina

Dec
29

Aquapalypse Now Redux

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Rep. Tim Moffitt’s legislation to terminate (with extreme prejudice) the city’s control of its water system is in the courts. So it’s been quiet lately. Still, file this away for future reference. If things don’t change in Raleigh soon, you might need it.

This report from Europe is from last March, but does this sound familiar or what? [Emphasis mine.]

The European Commission has in recent weeks gone on a PR offensive in response to growing criticism of its pro-privatisation agenda for the water sector …

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North Carolina educators angry at recent legislation that phases out tenure, cuts extra pay for advanced teaching degrees, cuts teacher assistant jobs, and cuts money for instructional supplies and more planned to send Gov. Pat McCrory a sack of coal for Christmas. In August, when women’s health advocates angry over new abortion restriction protested in front of the governor’s mansion, McCrory tried to placate them with a plate of cookies.

Despite recent attempts by the state of North Carolina to marginalize them, Moral Monday protests will continue into 2014. Over 930 people volunteered to be arrested in civil disobedience against extreme legislation passed by the GOP-led legislature in 2013. New voting restrictions have been described as the most restrictive in the nation.

The Nation‘s John Nichols declared the 10,000-strong Mountain Moral Monday protest in Asheville, NC on August 5 the Most Valuable Protest of 2013.

On Christmas, the Associated Press reported that Moral Monday protests will spread across the South in 2014: Read More→

Dec
20

Friday Open Thread

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For those who missed Barry’s comment, the Nation‘s John Nichols included “Mountain Moral Monday” in the Progressive Honor Roll of 2013 as “Most Valuable Protest” in America this year:

When up to 10,000 North Carolinians rallied August 5 on Mountain Moral Monday in Asheville, the Rev. William Barber II, president of the state NAACP, announced: “This is no momentary hyperventilation and liberal screaming match. This is a movement.” The protests against legislative attacks on voting rights, public education and programs for low-income families began last spring at the state Capitol in Raleigh. But when the GOP-controlled legislature adjourned, the massive rally in Asheville signaled that the movement had spread. Barber declared that “from the mountains to the coast,” there is a movement for “a new South, a new North Carolina and a new future.”

What makes your Honor Roll?

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Dec
19

Crushing NC’s Unemployed

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As states cut back on unemployment for the long-term unemployed, North Carolina leads the way. From Bloomberg’s opinion section:

Across the country, the unemployed will lose from 14 to 47 weeks of insurance when the extension ends. Five other states will join North Carolina in providing fewer than 26 weeks of payments — the standard in the U.S until this year. What’s happened in North Carolina since July is an indication of what will happen nationwide. The picture is troubling.

The federal extension expires on January 1, 2014. North Carolina got a head start last summer when it cut the maximum benefit length and reduced the payments.

As intended, presumably, the number of North Carolinians receiving unemployment benefits has collapsed. It’s down by 45,000, or 40 percent, since last year. Expiring benefits aren’t the only reason for this. Far fewer are filing a claim in the first place. Initial claims are running at about half last year’s rate. Unemployment insurance is a thinner safety net than it has been in decades.

In addition, North Carolina’s labor force began to shrink. The state is experiencing the largest labor-force contraction it’s ever seen –77,000 fewer people were working or searching for work this October than a year ago. This should, but won’t, settle a partisan debate. Cutting unemployment insurance apparently hasn’t encouraged the unemployed to look harder for work: It has caused them to drop out of the labor force altogether. [Emphasis mine.]

That’s understandable, in part because nationwide there were still three job seekers per job as of May.

Food pantries are stretched, becoming, as Alan Briggs, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Food Bank suggested, “the safety net of the safety net.”

Please help out your local food banks this season. Decision after decision by the legislature in Raleigh seems aimed at worsening the situation for struggling North Carolinians.

Merry Christmas.

Dec
17

Can A Puppet Pat Ad Be Far Behind?

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From American Bridge 21st Century PAC, a two ironic words about Florida Governor Rick Scott. Can a Pat McCrory ad be far behind? Psst, hey American Bridge

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Dec
16

Picketing Art Pope’s Stores

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Art Pope has protesters picketing his Variety Wholesaler stores across North Carolina. Yesterday, protesters picketed one of his Roses stores in Weaverville, NC. The Institute for Southern Studies explains,

An informational picket campaign focused on Maxway, Roses and other stores owned by Republican donor Art Pope is attracting new followers and generating fresh scrutiny of Pope’s political network in North Carolina.

In North Carolina, Art Pope’s rise as a conservative political kingmaker — including his appointment this year as Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director — was fueled in large part with money from his business Variety Wholesalers, a retail chain and the owner of Maxway, Roses and other dollar-type stores.

Part of the NC NAACP and Forward Together Movement, the AFL-CIO announcement for the event stated that protesters would “hand out information on Budget Director and Roses-owner Art Pope and the extremist and regressive Legislative policies he supports. These policies hurt the very people who franchise his stores and supply a large share of his income.” Millions of dollars of Pope money, allowed by the Citizens United decision, appeared as campaign attack ads aimed at unseating Democrats across the state in 2010, and helped Republicans take over both houses of the state legislature.

After a week of protests, Pope responded to NAACP President Rev. William Barber, writing, “I am shocked that you and your allies would demand any public official to support your political positions, by threatening a business which is not part of state government.”

A self-described believer in “public-choice theory” and promoter of free-market economics, Pope is finding out what it’s like to face having an informed public choose to shop elsewhere. In a free Market, customers will punish a businessman who is corrupt, unethical, or not responsive to consumer demands. It’s all fun and games until you’re that businessman, isn’t it Art?

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Dec
12

Raleigh Digest: News or Hackery?

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The following guest post is by Guest Hooligan, Sean McNeal:

As many of you have no doubt seen in the media recently, a new “news” source has hit WNC. The Raleigh Digest, produced by InTouchNC, was distributed by the Asheville Citizen-Times along with other paid advertisements before the Thanksgiving holiday.

I put quotes around the word news in the preceding paragraph because of the complete absence of any attempt at journalistic integrity by the folks at InTouchNC. This essay will show why The Raleigh Digest is indeed not journalism, but partisan propaganda, despite representative Tim Moffitt’s attempts to portray it as otherwise.

Tim Moffitt is a sitting representative for citizens of Western North Carolina at the state legislature and is up for re-election in 2014. He also happens to be the publisher of The Raleigh Digest. Just this fact alone would give most people pause. But when Mr. Moffitt tells the Asheville Citizen-Times, “The idea is really to communicate in a very straightforward way about what is occurring in Raleigh, without opinion being part of the report,” I think it’s best that we examine his claims to verify whether in fact they are true.

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Rep. Tim Moffitt (R-ALEC) has a challenger.

Former UNC Asheville Assistant Vice Chancellor Brian Turner (D) announced his intention today to run for the North Carolina Statehouse in 2014 against two-term incumbent Rep. Tim Moffitt (R). Of course, if any other Democrats decide to run, there would be a Democratic primary to see which candidate challenges Moffitt. No other Democrats have declared their intention to run at this time.

There is a website and a video:

“To build a stronger community we need elected officials who understand the winner-take-all mindset that has infected Raleigh is not sustainable, and we need to be willing to work together, regardless of party, to achieve positive solutions to the challenges we face.”

Judging by the rollout of Turner’s video, the man has done his homework. Moffitt may have to spend some of the money he covets so dearly to hang onto the power he loves even more.

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Dec
06

U.S. of ALEC

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Boy howdy, aren’t these ALEC and State Policy Network characters Titanic-grade Cal Hockleys? Masters of the Universe. And you’re not. Which means that if you’re not from the better half, those of you in steerage had better be prepared for an American future in which your “betters” throw you overboard. If they get their way.

In the wake of the Guardian’s ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) document dump, Mountain Xpress is wondering if ALEC board member Rep. Tim Moffitt and NC House Speaker Thom Tillis have more loyalty to the business organization than to their state or constituents. ALEC floated a loyalty oath in recent draft documents:

A proposed loyalty oath “I am morally responsible for the health and well-being of this organization… I will act with care and loyalty and put the interests of the organization first.”

This loyalty oath to a secret corporate lobbying [group] runs contrary to the oath of office taken by all members of the North Carolina General Assembly, which says in part, “… I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina.”

It gets better. Read More→

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Wisconsin and Minnesota provide a nice side-by-side comparison of Republican and Democratic economic policies in action. They’re next door to each other and share similar demographics.

Three years into [GOP Gov. Scott] Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker promised to produce 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000. Wisconsin ranks 34th for job growth. Mr. Walker’s defenders blame the higher spending and taxes of his Democratic predecessor for these disappointments, but according to Forbes’s annual list of best states for business, Wisconsin continues to rank in the bottom half.

Along with California, Minnesota is the fifth fastest growing state economy, with private-sector job growth exceeding pre-recession levels. Forbes rates Minnesota as the eighth best state for business. Republicans deserve some of the credit, particularly for their commitment to education reform. They also argue that Minnesota’s new growth stems from the low taxes and reduced spending under Mr. Dayton’s Republican predecessor, [GOP Gov. Tim] Pawlenty. But Minnesota’s job growth was subpar during Mr. Pawlenty’s eight-year tenure and recovered only under [Democratic Gov. Mark] Dayton.

It is a little early to assess NC Gov. Pat McCrory. In spite of McCrory’s and the NCGOP’s refrain that the state is “broken” owing to one hundred years of Democratic dominance, North Caroilna consistently ranks as one of the top ten best states to do business. But it has lost ground since last year on one survery, falling from first place to second behind Georgia. This, of course, leaves McCrory with not much of anywhere to go except down.

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