a few suggestions

The Occupy Raleigh folks have put out a request on their FB page asking for input on their demands. That may be a little surprising to those of you who spend months developing such things before hitting the streets. Well, welcome to 21st Century organizing. This is, quite rightly, an outrage first/ figure the rest out later kind of movement. But since media people will be probably stuck on the question of what the protesters are asking for, it might be nice to have a few things spelled out.
In the spirit of Nick Kristof’s piece in the NYT, I’d like to offer a few North Carolina-centric demands. My two cents as follows:

1. Members of the General Assembly should refrain from ever using jobless benefit extensions for political leverage.
This was one of the saddest moments I’ve seen in decades of watching the NCGA. The extension was a formality that cost the state nothing. It was a true insult to the people who needed them and inflicted hardships on tens of thousands of Tar Heel families for pure political sport. Since so many legislators these days like pledges, how about one saying they’ll never pull this kind of stunt again?

2. Jump start the economy
There are public works projects waiting to go in all 100 counties. There are school principals who know exactly who they’d hire back if they had the money. The state needs some counter cyclical spending. Austerity does not create economic growth, but the NCGA seems determined to learn that lesson the hard way.

3. No fracking

4. No disenfranchisement
Demand that the House and Senate leaders pull the Voter ID bill and promise not to bring it up again. Ever.

5. Vigorous pursuit of Wall Street Fraud
Demand that NC go after the money it lost in pensions and elsewhere and the money lost by its citizens due to abusive practices in financial markets.

6. Greater representation on state boards and commissions
The dozens of governing boards and commissions in this state are stacked with industry representatives and big campaign donors. For starters, the student representatives on the UNC Board of Governors and the UNC system schools’ Board of Trustees should have full voting rights.

7. Combined reporting and tougher corporate tax enforcement
This last one is the least sexy of the bunch, but it’s every bit as important. In the past session the state loosened tax enforcement on corporations and, once again, the General Assembly failed to pass combine reporting, letting hundreds of millions in revenues slip away.

Occupy Raleigh is on

The group is planning an event at the capital on October 15.

Here’s the text from the Occupy Raleigh about page:

We are a group of concerned citizens who wish to raise awareness and demonstrate before the Capitol in support of economic justice and against corporate influence over our elections and political process. Our purpose is to engage the public in this dialogue and make the voices of the people heard. We want local and national legislators to hear our concerns about ways to remedy the economic injustice and unfair influence the wealthy have over the political system. We are a peaceful, non-violent resistance movement that aims to encourage people to participate in democracy and use their voices to influence positive change.

Morning Post: Spotlight on the NC

Politics in North Carolina is drawing quite a bit of interest this morning thanks to several pages of daylight in the New Yorker. Reporter at Large Jane Mayer laid out the influence and operation of Art Pope and Co. in this week’s Money issue.

Art Pope Citizens United and North Carolina Politics

Yet Pope’s triumph in 2010 was sweeping. According to an analysis by the Institute for Southern Studies, of the twenty-two legislative races targeted by him, his family, and their organizations, the Republicans won eighteen, placing both chambers of the General Assembly firmly under Republican majorities for the first time since 1870. North Carolina’s Democrats in Congress hung on to power, but those in the state legislature, where Pope had focused his spending, were routed.

This is not big news among progressives. Pope’s effort to shape the GOP and the state has been pretty obvious and was spelled out in great detail by the Institute for Southern Studies and the Indy earlier this year. But Mayer uses Citizen United to spell out the consequences of the very wealthy unchecked and unfettered in the political arena and how politics and as we have most recently seen public policy now has a price.

The article, which opens with a very perceptive look at the losses by Democrats Margaret Dickson and John Snow in 2010, is a cautionary tale for every state in the country. Each one has its own Art Pope or two or three and each one is vulnerable to what has happened here in the Old North State.

Go read it.

Forrester fury

No doubt State Senator James Forrester will be playing the victim card any second now. The legislature’s chief proponent of amending the North Carolina constitution to restrict marriage and domestic partnerships has already been the target of those opposed to the amendment. Now, the Gaston County Republican appears to have handed amendment opponents a golden opportunity by padding his resume.

In a story yesterday on Pam Spaulding’s Blend blog, said that Forrester was not a fellow as he’s claimed and according to the organization’s officials he’s not even a member.

Now WRAL is on the story as is ThinkProgress. And since the about page on his campaign web site reads like a giant vita, expect a few more of Forrester’s achievements to get a closer look.

While the proponents of codifying discrimination may try to play this off as a distraction and a personal attack by the evil Gays, Forrester’s credentials actual are an important part of the debate. He used his medical resume to sell the amendment referendum in the legislature repeatedly claiming that there is medical evidence showing the dangers of homosexuality. Event though his argument was complete balderdash, the fact that a doctor was saying it gave it weight.
Forrester was recently given a chance to back up his claim on Michael Signorile’s radio show. He had a little trouble citing any studies.

This interview has to be heard to be believed: Forrester not only could not back up his claims with any evidence — after first trying to source the Centers for Disease Control, only to be debunked by me — but he actually acknowledged that he could be wrong. He eventually credited a Christian activist named Frank Turek (who is associated with Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage) as his source of this bogus public health information.


Morning Post — September 19

Ah, good morning. Cooler when you get up these days here in the Piedmont.
Here’s some of what’s shaking in the NC:

– Dome on Democrats’ NC Forward bus tour
– What was that giant strange object in Asheville?
– A look at the ticket-fixin’ trial in Winston
– The Star-New on incentives for the Project Soccer development
– Fitzsimon’s Monday numbers

And in our nation’s capital, utter hijinks:
– It’s Debt Plan Monday
Some kind of buffet tax or something
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell comes to an end Tuesday

also, big day at the casino already

Adjournment resolution

Like the last go-round, the General Assembly adjourned with a fairly wide open agenda for the next special session. Spelled out in the adjournment resolution – S792 – is a wide set of options. As in:



A JOINT RESOLUTION further adjourning the 2011 regular session of the general assembly to a date certain and limiting the matters that may be considered upon reconvening.

Be it resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives concurring:

SECTION 1. When the Senate and the House of Representatives adjourn on Wednesday, September 14, 2011, they stand adjourned to reconvene on Monday, November 7, 2011, at 12:00 noon.

SECTION 2. During the regular session that reconvenes on Monday, November 7, 2011, only the following matters may be considered:

(1) Bills:

a. Revising the Senate districts and the apportionment of senators among those districts.

b. Revising the Representative districts and the apportionment of representatives among those districts.

c. Revising the districts for the election of members of the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States and the apportionment of representatives among those districts.

d. Bills responding to actions related to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

e. Bills responding to actions related to litigation concerning Congressional, State House, or State Senate districts.

(2) Bills returned by the Governor with her objections under Section 22 of Article II of the North Carolina Constitution, but solely for the purpose of considering overriding of the veto upon reconsideration of the bill.

(3) Any bills relating to election laws.

(4) Bills to ratify and make statutory conforming changes pursuant to a Tribal Compact negotiated by the Governor.

(5) Bills responding to natural disasters, including hurricanes.

(6) Bills in which the General Assembly makes an appointment or appointments to public office and which contain no other matter.

(7) Adoption of conference reports for bills which were in conference as of Wednesday, September 14, 2011.

(8) Local bills pending in the House Rules Committee on July 28, 2011.

(9) A bill to modify governance and management provisions for local management entities (LMEs).

(10) A joint resolution further adjourning the 2011 Regular Session to a date certain.

SECTION 3. This resolution is effective upon ratification.

In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 14th day of September, 2011.

Marriage amendment out of committee

The House Rule Committee has passed H61 – a bill authorizing a referendum on a constitutional amendment restricting marriage. It now goes to the North Carolina House, which is expected to pass it.

Proponents did two key things to the bill: The first is a provision that proponents say eliminates the argument that it would outlaw domestic partnerships or hamper businesses that recognize partnerships from doing so. The second shifts the date of the referendum to the “first primary,” which proponents say eliminates the argument tha tit is not political.

To the first point: As Rep. Joe Hackney sought to point out, the wording in the new section is so undefined that it could, and likely will, have consequences outside the bill’s intent. Rep. Paul Stam may say the legislature has debated the idea over and over, but it has not debated this bill, in this circumstance and in this era. To just plunge ahead and write something into the constitution that has not been tested or debated is inviting trouble.

To the second point: We don’t know when the first primary of next year will be. As it did in 2002, redistricting could have a big effect on when primaries for some of the slate would happen. The legislature, of course, can set the date to anytime it wants. It could also shift around pretty much any primary race or group of races. Regardless of when the amendment goes to the voters, the political machine that will push for its passage will get a boost in fundraising, organization and energy. That extra boost in getting social conservatives energized could pay off if the GOP nominates someone who doesn’t light up the evangelical voters.
The switch in timing also has an effect the other way. Opposition to the bill would probably have an effect in helping turnout among the younger voters who helped put Obama over the top here in 2008. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some poll numbers showing that and the switch was made not to eliminate politics but because of it. Given that the first primary will be much more of a Republican affair statewide, a referendum would stand an even greater chance of passage than it would in the general election.

WRAL story

Dem response

Text of the bill (date switch isn’t in this one):

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution is amended by adding the following new section:
“Sec. 6. Marriage. Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”
SECTION 2. The amendment set out in Section 1 of this act shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State at a statewide election to be held on November 6, 2012, which election shall be conducted under the laws then governing elections in the State. Ballots, voting systems, or both may be used in accordance with Chapter 163 of the General Statutes. The question to be used in the voting systems and ballots shall be:
“[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”
SECTION 3. If a majority of votes cast on the question are in favor of the amendment set out in Section 1 of this act, the State Board of Elections shall certify the amendment to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State shall enroll the amendment so certified among the permanent records of that office. The amendment is effective upon
SECTION 4. This act is effective when it becomes law.