They knew this would happen before the bill was ever passed, but they pushed it through anyway. They knew there was really no voter fraud in the old North State long before the bill was even sponsored, but they didn’t care. They knew that we would challenge them in court no matter what the cost, and still they made it happen. Continue reading
On Sunday, July 21, 2013, Thom Tillis and Phil Berger, Republican leaders of the NC House and Senate respectively, reached a compromise on our state budget. The grizzly details of our march back toward a neo-feudal, libertarian paradise is documented here and here (you really should read these reports).
Both chambers still need to sign off on the deal, but it’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that it will pass and be signed by Governor
Art Pope Pat McCrory.
Among the most egregious work in the document are the insults to teachers across our state. This budget is so bad, even the most hardcore Republican teachers on my wife’s Facebook network are up in arms over it (sorry ladies, but you voted for this, despite our warnings).
The comment below is perhaps the best summation of the damage this legislature of Republican super-majorities is about to do to education and educators across our state.
“It is a tragic day in NC for our public schools, their teachers and students. The cuts to education reflect a very aggressive attack on public education. Eliminating $110 million for teacher assistants, eliminating teacher tenure, eliminating class size limits for K-3, no raise again this year, all of these unnecessary cuts wipe out three decades of steady progress. The most damaging is allowing for our hard earned tax dollars to be transferred to private schools. The privatization of public schools threatens the very cornerstone of our democracy and violates our state constitution. This is beyond comprehension and represents the worst public policy I have ever witnessed in NC History. These cuts to public education will have a direct impact at the classroom level, impacting every single one of our 1.5 million public school children. The General Assembly has abandoned the heart and soul of what makes our schools work and has set us on a course that will end public education as a common good in NC. We hope the business community will realize today that this attack on public education is an attack on our economic viability.”
Yevonne Brannan of Public Schools First NC, July 21, 2013
NC state budget director Art Pope, described recently as North Carolina’s own Koch brother, is up to no good. You see, Mr. Pope, owner of Variety Wholesalers, parent company to Rose’s, Maxway, Super 10, and Bargain Town, likes to use his money to buy influence. In 2007, Pope set up the Civitas Institute, a training and indoctrination organization designed to produce ideologically correct political candidates.
Researchers at the website, TurnNCblue.org describe it thus:
The Pope family foundation funds 97% of the Civitas Institute’s activities, and Pope is on the board of directors. Civitas Action, a sister organization, runs political advertising, and was very active in 2010. Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch says: “Civitas describes themselves and their polls as ’nonpartisan,’ yet with another arm they’re running the most virulent ads against Democrats, and it’s the same people. It’s just a shell game.”
Yesterday, Civitas crossed the line between advocacy and harassment when they published a new section of their website dedicated to shaming citizens who have participated in non-violent civil disobedience at what has come to be known as Moral Monday at our state legislature. Over the last seven weeks more than 400 citizens have been arrested with “trespassing” and “unlawful assembly” at our state house in an effort to have their legitimate grievances heard and addressed.
While none have been convicted of anything, Civitas has decided it’s appropriate to publish no only the names of those arrested, but also their political affiliations, occupations, employers, and mug shots. As one commenter at the website BlueNC.com said:
The News and Observer and WRAL have mugshots of arrests for surrounding counties – these only include the person’s name, their charge, height, weight and date of birth. Other commercial sites, like WakeMugs, which automatically pull publicly available arrest records include similar info.
It would appear that Civitas is trolling through websites for the additional information on individuals.
They’re probably pulling the voter registration information from the NC Board of Elections website, since they can access your date of birth from the arrest records. (Just putting in a name there will give you everyone in the state database with that name – the DOB narrows it down to a specific person.)
As for the names of employers and affiliations with organizations, they might be pulling these from Google searches or looking at Facebook pages.
I’m not a lawyer, but if they wanted to collect and collate this data to make some charts, that’s one thing, but publishing this extra info on each person arrested would probably push this firmly into the arena of harassment – it creates the potential for people to track down the protestors at their home or where they work.
Someone can correct me on what public information is provided about anyone who is arrested – I don’t think they can get this other information without assembling it from a number of sources.
In other words, Art Pope’s employees at Civitas are essentially stalking these citizens for disagreeing with their bosses’ agenda, and make no mistake, Art Pope has an agenda. No one spends more than $2 million on 22 state legislative races (and wins 18 of them) without having an agenda of one kind or another.
The actions of Civitas have placed hundreds of my fellow North Carolinians in jeopardy, and as I wrote to Attorney General Roy Cooper earlier today:
The information contained in the Civitas “Protester Database” is far more personal and intrusive than information typically published in local media “arrest logs” and that leaves these citizens, guilty of nothing more than exercising their constitutional rights – and not yet convicted – vulnerable to a host of potential threats ranging from identity theft all the way up to violent retribution or worse. These actions, funded and approved by Art Pope, amount to harassment at the very least, and should trigger a full investigation.
Rather than welcome citizens to the table, Mr. Pope would apparently rather eliminate opinions dissenting from his own than have an honest, open discussion. Could it be that deep down he knows his agenda only benefits an elite, wealthy few at the expense of the majority of our citizens? Is Art Pope afraid of honest debate and open discussion? His actions speak much louder than words.
If you’s like to contact Mr. Pope and give him a piece of your mind, he can be reached here, or you could contact AG Roy Cooper’s office here. Either way, this injustice must not be allowed to go unpunished.
When they tell you most of the protesters at Moral Monday event at the NCGA are outsiders bused in for the event, remember, that tactic is what conservative Tea Party groups funded by Charles and David Koch and Art Pope do. They can’t get popular support on their own merit so they have to buy it.
This is what a real populist uprising looks like.
That’s the question one of the North Carolinians interviewed in the video below said they would like to ask members of the North Carolina General Assembly regarding cuts they made this year to our state’s unemployment insurance system. If I’m not mistaken, the changes made limit benefits to a maximum of $350 per week and allow for no extensions beyond the initial six month allowance.
Until now, unemployment benefits were a percentage of each worker’s earnings during the eighteen months preceding termination of employment, and during the recent economic crises federal extensions of up to 100 weeks were made available to those unable to find work.
Our safety net is in tatters, thanks to short-sighted Republican lawmakers, taking cues from wealthy businessmen like Art Pope, and to add insult to injury, while the General Assembly was gutting benefits for working class citizens of this state, in the name of fiscal responsibility, Governor Pat McCrory was busy granting his executive council 8% raises.
So, to answer the question, yes, they have lost their minds.
(Tip of the hat to the fine folks at NC Policy Watch for re-posting AFL-CIO of NC’s video)
My friend James, over at BlueNC, made this comment the other day.
It is time to disengage. Democracy in North Carolina has been corrupted to the point of no return. By engaging with the system, we offer Republicans the veneer of legitimacy. By offering our ideas and arguments, we provide cover, the opportunity for them to say they’ve heard from both sides and made informed decisions.
… Ask any insider in state government and you will quickly discover that there is absolutely nothing to be gained from trying to talk with Republicans in Raleigh. Not one god damned thing. So stop even trying.
Instead, let’s give them all the rope they want. Miles and miles of it. Let them run their free-market experiment all the way into oblivion. The proof of the pudding will be in the tasting, and until average North Carolina voters get a mouthful of crap custard, there is nothing to be done.
Get out of the way. Let Republicans wreak havoc. That is the most effective strategy for rebuilding our moral foundation. Yes people will be hurt in the meantime. But nothing you can do in terms of engagement in Raleigh will change that in the slightest. In fact, our engagement may even be making it worse by given Republicans the cover of legitimacy.
Disengage. Stop talking to them. Create a shadow system with direct connections to the people who matter most: the millions of average citizens all across our state.
I’m inclined to agree with this strategy as well. We’ve tried to work with these people for years, and it’s gotten us nowhere.
We tried reason, negotiation, appeals to their better nature, whatever that is. Nothing works!
Maybe it’s time we did just stand back and let them have their way. Stop trying to stop them from driving us all over a cliff into oblivion and just let’em do it. It’s not like we can stop them anyway.
The following is reposted from the very fine website, BlueNC. It’s time we demanded accountability from the heads of corporate America and corporate North Carolina.
What are these people doing with the enormous resources at their disposal? Are they doing good or enabling evil? How are their funds being used to help or harm the people of this state (and this nation)?
Demand answers. Hold these people and others in similar roles accountable. Their pay scale demands that they live up to a much higher standard of conduct.
It’s a pretty sad day in the Old North State when captains of industry and business are silent on Republican efforts to discriminate against their workers. And sadder still that they have to look to the CEO of Goldman Sachs as a role model.
- Jim Rogers of Duke Energy. Not only silent, he’s putting the coffers of his company behind electing Pat McCrory, North Carolina’s leading marriage bigot.
- Brian Moynihan at Bank of America. Where do you stand on a constitutional amendment that would discriminate against your employees?
- Brad Wilson of Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Is your company putting money behind candidates who stand for discrimination?
- Robert Niblock of Lowes. You have thousands of gay employees. Do you stand for or against an amendment to make them second-class citizens?
- Art Pope of Variety Wholesalers. (Roses & Maxway stores) No surprise that you’re using your profits to fund candidates who will discriminate against your employees. No surprise at all.
As you may or may not have heard (depending upon where the screen you read this on resides) the current Governor of North Carolina, has decided not to seek a second term in office. As our first female governor, Bev Perdue faced an uphill battle every step of the way from the day she announced her candidacy for office to the day she decided not to run again, and then some.
The NC Republican Party, firmly in control of our state legislature and servants of Tea Party Dark Lord, Art Pope, has done everything in their power to undermine Governor Perdue at every opportunity. Honestly, I can’t blame her for wanting out, I’d had enough of their shenanigans months ago.
Perdue’s rival in the 2008 election, Pat McCrory, a blatant tool of the 1% and ideological Republican from Charlotte, NC, announced his candidacy for that high office earlier this week. Pat worked for Duke Energy for nearly 30 years before entering politics full time. To his credit, Pat is said to have worked his way up from a position on a line truck to the executive suites in his time at Duke. How much help he received getting there is open to debate, but I’ll leave that for those better informed on the subject than I am.
One thing for certain, if Pat McCrory manages to get himself elected, Duke Energy, which now enjoys almost monopolistic power in this state, will have it’s own set of keys to the Governor’s Mansion. Locals will recall that the company sought an 18% rate increase earlier this year and, thanks to vocal public opposition, ended up settling for something more on the order of 7%. Don’t imagine for one second that if their man Pat makes it to the finish line in first place that Duke Energy won’t have a hand up his ass working him like the puppet he is.
As a staunch conservative, McCrory is a supporter of a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this May (as opposed to the general election day next Fall, when a larger turn out is expected) to define marriage as being between a man and a woman; a hard slap in the face to my neighbors across this state who happen to have been born gay. This is the sort of hateful, underhanded bullshit we’ve come to expect from the NC Republican Party, or as my friend James calls them, the Tarheel Taliban (fitting I think).
James posted an open letter to Duke Energy several months ago at BlueNC, asking Duke to take a public stand against this hateful initiative by pledging not to support candidates, like Mr. McCrory, who favor this discriminatory legislation. He has received no meaningful response.
High profile corporations like Duke Energy are hyper aware of the power of social networks to negatively impact their public image today, and with that in mind I hope to do my part to help spread my friend’s message and rattle Duke’s corporate cage a bit.
Below are several pre-formatted tweets I’d like to make available to anyone willing to help spread the word. This message needs to go viral as soon as possible. Civil rights ought never be put to a public vote. To borrow an overused phrase, that’s like asking three wolves and sheep to vote on dinner! Please help spread the word. Thanks.
Is @DukeEnergy For or Against NC Amendment One? Demand an answer? http://bit.ly/A52REz #truthnc #teammccrory @BlueNC
Will @DukeEnergy stand for #equality and oppose NC Amendment One? http://bit.ly/A52REz #truthnc #teammccrory @BlueNC
Will @DukeEnergy contribute to candidates who support NC Amendment One? http://bit.ly/A52REz #truthnc #teammccrory @BlueNC
Pat #McCrory is a former @DukeEnergy executive Against NC Amendment One. http://bit.ly/A52REz #truthnc #teammccrory @BlueNC
Like @DukeEnergy rate hikes North Carolina? Elect former Duke exec Pat #McCrory for more of the same. #teammccrory http://bit.ly/As3Ecv
While you’re here, please consider joining or at least adding you voice at a Facebook page, Draft Brad Miller for NC Governor. Brad is exactly the person we need to stand up to people like Pat McCrory and his Tarheel Taliban cohorts. Here’s what another blogger had to say on the subject at DailyKOS.
After Brad Miller announced his retirement (from Congress) on Thursday, January 26th, Governor Perdue announced that she would not seek reelection to the Governor’s office in North Carolina. These separate events were reported at Daily Kos here and here.
Miller was a strong progressive voice on Capitol Hill and has long been a good friend to the netroots community. Indeed, he’s been a member of Daily Kos for over half a decade and has been a regular participant here. (Rare among elected officials, he’s been known to participate in diaries posted by folks other than himself.) I have gotten the chance to know Miller personally and have met him on many occasions. He’s one of those truly good guys you wish there were many more of in Congress, and it’s a sad day indeed to know he won’t be there come next year.The purpose of this brief diary is to invite you to join the newly created Draft Brad Miller for NC Governor Facebook Group and invite others to join. Let’s show Brad Miller some love from our Daily Kos Community! Join today!
1:34 PM PT: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has set up a fundraising page to draft Brad Miller to run for NC Governor on Act Blue. Show your support by chipping in $3 byclicking here.
I posted an article earlier today regarding Germany’s abandonment of nuclear power. In and of itself this would seem to be a good thing. Almost immediately a reader posted a comment pointing out that in switching to other energy sources, Germany is now a driving force behind the Polish coal industry. If true, and I have no reason to disbelieve it, this is not a good thing; trading one evil for another equally bad, yet slightly different evil.
Coal is, in it’s very own special way, every bit as dirty and dangerous as nuclear energy, but beyond that, my reader’s the comment got me thinking about how our over-extended way of life in general is simply not sustainable. Everything we depend on for our way of living today depends on petroleum derivatives, fossil fuels, and technology that depends upon these finite resources for its operation. We’re fucked people. All caps – F-U-C-K-E-D – fucked, and there is simply no easy, painless way out of it.
So while I’m sitting here stewing in my own particular brand of despair for the children I brought into this messed up pile of dirt flying through space, I click over to my reader and up pops the story below, about the influence of North Carolina’s own teabagging puppet master, Art Pope, and how the state legislators most beholden to him are the one’s with the worst conservation (a.k.a. environmental) records in the state.
I’m not a violent man, and I would never advocate anyone committing violence against another human being, but sometimes the old saying, “some people just need a good beating,” rings very, very true. We have got to get the money, corporate and otherwise, out of our election processes. One dollar should not equal one vote, but in this sorry excuse for a democracy – representative or not – that’s what it now boils down to.
(SOURCE: Facing South) An environmental watchdog group released its scorecard this week for North Carolina’s 2011 General Assembly, which broke the record for the most anti-environmental legislature in the 13 years the organization has been giving out grades.
Lawmakers backed by conservative benefactor Art Pope and his family got particularly low scores on the environment, with grades far below the legislature’s record-low average. That suggests Pope’s considerable political influence – coupled with his ideological hostility toward regulation — may be imperiling North Carolina environmental health for years to come.
“Using the economy as cover, and repeating unfounded claims that ‘regulations kill jobs,’ this General Assembly has put environmental safeguards in their crosshairs,” stated the report from the N.C. League of Conservation Voters. “This year’s scores are the lowest we have reported since NCLCV has been producing a Scorecard.” The group graded state lawmakers for the first time 13 years ago.
For the first time since Reconstruction, North Carolina’s legislature is controlled by Republicans, who hold a majority in both the House and Senate. The legislative leadership has been outspoken in its commitment to an anti-regulatory agenda.
NCLCV graded lawmakers on a selection of bills it considered to have the greatest impact of all environmental legislation considered during the session. The bills it looked at addressed key issues including energy, beach protection, water conservation and funding for key environmental programs.
The average score among House members during the 2011 long session was 43%, compared to 67% in the 2009-2010 session. (North Carolina’s biennial legislature meets for a long session followed by a short session held in the election year.) Meanwhile, the Senate average in 2011 was only 27% — a dramatic decline from 69% in 2009-2010, when Democrats held power.
Those lawmakers who received financial backing from Pope and his family members scored far lower than average. (See chart at this link.) Art Pope contributed $32,000 to 10 winning candidates — all Republicans — for the N.C. House, with his wife Katherine, mother Joyce and sister Amanda Pope contributing another $89,000 the same candidates, for a total of $121,000. The average NCLCV score for those candidates was 20.1%.
Art Pope contributed another $34,250 to 13 winning Senate candidates, with the same Pope family members contributing another $73,000 to the same candidates, for a total of $107,250. The average NCLCV score for those those candidates was 10.6%.
The legislature’s anti-conservation turn comes at a time when a great deal is at stake for North Carolina’s environment. A report released last week by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources found that while the state’s air is cleaner than it was two decades ago, population growth is causing other pollution problems and stressing drinking water supplies.