Jane's political salon: Gerry Cohen

Gerry Cohen is in our salon tonight to talk about local politics. If you have questions, drop them below.

Gerry, Jane and I go way back. Jane and Gerry met in 1977 when he was running for mayor of Chapel Hill. I eventually joined the town council and knew about Gerry's legendary service. We met eight years ago at a blogger conference. This is the first time we've had the chance to reconnect.

Moral Monday Event Sept 22 - Yancey Mitchell County

Moral Monday Citizen Advocacy and Moral March to the Polls Rally September 22

The Yancey-Mitchell NAACP will host a Moral Monday rally in Burnsville’s Town Square on Monday, September 22, from 5 to 7 PM. The Forward Together/Moral Monday movement has launched a Moral March to the Polls Campaign with Get-Out-The-Vote rallies, canvasses, voter education programs and Moral Monday actions across the state. The Moral Monday movement rallies against legislative policies that harm our communities and people. It does not promote partisan ideologies. Instead, grass roots advocates stand up for equality, healthcare, fully funded public education, a living wage, economic and environmental justice and voting rights for all North Carolina citizens! Speakers will include author and historian Tim Tyson and radio talk show host Ned Doyle.

The Typical Mountain Boys and Pete and Kim McWhirter will provide music. This event is free, and everyone is welcome to attend.

Another NC Death Row inmate about to be exonerated

The "process" is not working, Speaker Tillis, it's inherently flawed:

Then the lawyers started pushing for what they knew must exist – police files, interview notes, State Bureau of Investigation reports and physical evidence. Slowly, the Whiteville Police Department produced files and evidence that had never been given to the lawyers defending Norfolk “Fuzzy” Best at his 1993 trial.

The lawyers dug up several folders of notes and reports from the Whiteville Police Department, including a tip about a suspicious car near the murder scene 12 hours before the bodies were found. The car turned out to be stolen. The thief, a habitual felon with a lengthy criminal record in several states, reportedly told friends that he had killed an elderly couple in Whiteville.

Bolding mine. Proponents of the death penalty often claim the "process" of convicting capital offenders is thorough and fair, but that appears to be mostly supposition and wishful thinking. In reality, law enforcement often latches onto the first suspect that emerges in the investigation, and then puts on blinders as they compile evidence (real or circumstantial) on their target. Anything that leads away from said suspect is a distraction to be avoided. And then hidden from prying eyes, apparently:

Daily dose: GOP bait-and-switch edition

Ads take up education, contraceptive issues in US Senate race (Raleigh News & Observer) -- It’s rapidly reaching the season when it’s not safe to turn on your television, unless you dig political advertising. Friday was the day for both sides in the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina to launch TV ads. First up was another spot by Carolina Rising, a nonprofit that has begun spending a lot of money on behalf of House Speaker Thom Tillis. The group’s Dallas Woodhouse says the ad buy is $1.3 million and will cover the state.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/09/13/4147442/ads-take-up-education-contraceptive.html

Wos: DHHS will build stability before expanding Medicaid (Winston-Salem Journal) -- “Soon.” The state’s health secretary, Aldona Wos, gave that one-word answer – filled with possibilities and ambiguities – when asked when she would recommend expanding the state Medicaid program to Gov. Pat McCrory.
http://www.journalnow.com/business/business_news/local/wos-dhhs-will-build-stability-before-expandin...

Totally priceless

Yesterday I saw a MasterCard ad in the New York Times about a new app for the iPhone. The headline was: "Totally priceless."

This is a great example of adverb abuse. But even more damning, it undermines years of other "priceless" advertising. All those other things MasterCard said were "priceless" before? Well, they're not so priceless now. Not compared to this new thing, whatever it is, which also happens to be "totally priceless."

The word priceless is like the words unique and pregnant. It's either true or it's not.

Unfortunately, we have slipped into a world where words can mean whatever anybody wants them to mean, with impunity. The same is true with numbers, where 7% equals 5% equals the biggest teacher pay scam in history. Say something often enough and it becomes real.

In opposition to the "waive jury trial" Amendment on November's ballot

Surrendering rights might not be wise:

The American jury has long been a protection of the lives and liberties of her citizens. The jury system protects our individual freedom by prohibiting the government from taking us to prison unless it can prove to every single person on that jury that we have committed a crime. This jury of our peers must not only be unanimous in their judgment, but must agree "beyond a reasonable doubt," the highest legal burden in our judicial system. The fundamental protection of the jury system allows each us to go about our daily lives secure in the knowledge that, if faced with a criminal accusation, our liberty will ultimately be in the hands of our fellow citizens.

As I mentioned on Facebook recently (which is ironic), after observing the herd-like behavior and general lack of discernment exhibited by many of my "peers" on social networking sites, I don't have nearly as much faith in the jury process as I once held. That being said, bench trials might be more streamlined, less dramatic, and of course cheaper; but there's only one arse sitting on that bench. And you better hope the owner of that arse has got the smarts and integrity to see and understand the truth.

Daily dose: Hagan takes lead, GOP mob calls in New Jersey big-shot to fix things

CAMPAIGN 2014
Poll shows Hagan pulling ahead of Tillis (Greensboro News & Record) -- Sen. Kay Hagan pulling ahead of N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis in the tight N.C. Senate race.
http://www.news-record.com/news/poll-shows-hagan-pulling-ahead-of-tillis/article_67669cbc-3adb-11e4-...

Christie to Campaign with Tillis in Wilmington on Tuesday (TWCN-TV) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will attend a rally and a private event in Wilmington on Tuesday to support U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis.
http://centralnc.twcnews.com/content/news/all_nc_news/711794/christie-to-campaign-with-tillis-in-wil...

McCrory on Wos: “She is a brilliant, brilliant individual and is doing an outstanding job.”

When you're dishing this kind of bullshit, it pays to avoid using "brilliant" twice in the same sentence. Especially when the person being described has been an unmitigated disaster.

See more at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2014/09/12/the-follies-211/#sthash.vDbDJoRl.dpuf

Rich man sez, "You too can be rich, just like me!"

Big shrimp on a small plate:

What you won’t hear any of the union organizers who flew into Durham last week talk about is the menu of opportunities the restaurant industry offers to more than 13 million people of varying ages and experience levels across the nation. As a restaurant owner and operator, I know how important the restaurant industry is to North Carolina and the benefits the industry brings to my employees and our community.

I started in the restaurant industry as a cook in one of my parents’ restaurants...

Gonna stop you right there, fella. You have no idea how the vast majority of your employees live, and if you actually had to survive on $3-4 dollars per hour, plus tips from blue-haired fixed-income hush puppy fans, you would probably be living in someone else's mobile home and waiting patiently for the beginning of next month for your food stamps to recharge. You know, I was just saying something good about the N&O the other day...

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