NC GOP

NC GOP stifling the legal rights of farmworkers

Once again, Gene Nichol goes to bat for the least among us:

The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee who introduced both the cuts and the creative reporting requirement is Brent Jackson of Autryville. He’s the Senate’s only farmer. The News & Observer reports: “Jackson Farming grows, packs, ships and brokers fruit and vegetables grown in this and several other states.” The Republican senator has “benefitted heavily from agribusiness financial contributions and has become their flag-bearer.”

And what, you might ask, does that have to do with Legal Aid of North Carolina? LANC runs a federally funded program called the “Farmworker Unit” – a statewide project committed to providing high quality civil legal services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers in North Carolina. The Farmworker Unit, according to its website, represents individual farmworkers, advising them of their rights and helping them get what the law requires. Shades of Cesar Chavez. Mystery solved.

North Carolina is becoming notorious for the mistreatment of farmworkers; from the all-too-common practice of using child labor, to the often brutal treatment of those workers who dare to even speak with labor organizers. But when you use the power of the government to forcibly obtain information to help wealthy private sector donors in their legal battles against those mistreated workers, you've really crossed the line:

Mitch Gillespie is afraid of heights

Turns down Asheville job, skulks back to Legislature:

Until this month, Mitch Gillespie had been an assistant secretary overseeing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' regulatory divisions. Newly appointed DENR Secretary Don van der Vaart had tapped him to become DENR's first "director of regional outreach" in the Asheville regional office.

Instead, he will move back to the legislature to serve as Moore's senior policy adviser for the environment, natural resources, energy and regulatory reform.

I usually defer to environmental orgs who directly interact with state government, when it comes to their opinions about individuals they have to deal with. But I have to disagree with their assessment of Gillespie. He might be congenial, but he has already done massive damage to state protections for the environment, from peeling back regulations to slashing the budget of DENR by 40+%. With friends like that...

GOP dictionary revision #437: "Religious Freedom" is now synonymous with "Discrimination."

First-class jerkwads want to recreate second-class citizens:

When Stam, a Wake County Republican, uttered the words “religious freedom,” he was referencing patently discriminatory legislation suggested in 2014 by N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger that would allow magistrates and other state employees to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses for religious reasons.

Organizations like Equality NC and our coalition partners will continue to fight any efforts like these. We want to protect not only the LGBT community but also North Carolina’s reputation as a place welcoming to all. When public servants can deny any North Carolinian service, that’s not religious freedom, that’s discrimination. This conversation, in fact, has nothing to do with religion.

In a sane world, we wouldn't have to worry about such patently un-Constitutional and bigoted ideas moving through the Legislative process on their way to being made into statute. But we don't live there. Republicans have a unique way of squirming out from under such legal and moral strictures, helped along by crafty language that draws attention away from those having their rights trampled upon. It's a disgusting habit, and we need to get together and have us an intervention. Unfortunately, November 2016 is the first available date for scheduling such.

The health of a million NC citizens at risk

Resting in the hands of the US Supreme Court:

We have written before about King v. Burwell, the case that will be heard before the US Supreme Court to determine whether or not health insurance subsidies can flow to states that refused to establish state-based marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act.

KFF researchers think more than 13 million people nationally, and about 1 million people in North Carolina, would lose tax credits if the Supreme Court denies subsidies to federal marketplace states. For most of these folks insurance would immediately become unaffordable. This is especially true because prices would most likely spiral upward as younger, healthier enrollees lose coverage.

The Affordable Care Act is a complex formula, created to solve an equally complex problem. While some elements of this formula are not critical to its success, some of them are, such as these subsidies. Thanks to the unwise and ideologically-driven decision to not expand Medicaid, North Carolina already has a gaping hole in coverage that most other states don't, or soon won't. If we lose these subsidies, also thanks to poor judgment on the part of GOP leaders who refused to lift a finger to build a marketplace, our people will suffer the consequences, and so will our healthcare providing network. It's not just a failure of leadership, it's the equivalent of setting up firing squads across the state, without having to worry about being charged with war crimes.

A dark chapter in NC's history books

And we're living it right now:

The new majority in the N.C. General Assembly hijacked Lincoln’s Republican Party and immediately began enacting an agenda that helped the greedy at the expense of the needy. They slashed unemployment benefits, killed the earned income-tax credit for the working poor, refused Medicaid coverage for hundreds of thousands, cut corporate income taxes, repealed the estate tax, gutted health and safety protections, cut per-pupil spending for education and shifted public money to private academies.

They also redrew legislative district lines to isolate and minimize the power of black voters. Then, in the weeks immediately following the Shelby decision, they jammed a host of voter restrictions into one bill that also cut restrictions on political donations. We call it the “Monster Law” because of its sweeping scope and because it is the reincarnation of the Jim Crow monster.

It's becoming more and more difficult to catalog all of the greedy and cold-hearted policies adopted by this Legislature, but a good mission statement to attribute to them is, "So many people to suppress, so little time." I often wonder how the future will grade us; how our actions will be perceived, by those who will inevitably have achieved a much higher level of enlightenment. And I fear they will revile us for our greed, prejudices, and short-sightedness.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Famous last words

The propaganda train is already rollin' down the tracks:

All coal ash brought to a former clay mine in Sanford would be transported by rail only, Duke Energy and Charah representatives said at a Sanford Environmental Advisory Board meeting Tuesday. Between rail transportation and onsite trucking, Price said there still is a zero-tolerance policy for coal ash dust.

“Once we put it in the rail car, we will spray something on it to seal it,” he said, adding that once the coal ash reaches the site, it will remain at 20 percent moisture. “As long as we keep the moisture at the 20 percent, it does not get airborne.”

Just so everybody understands what this means: The coal ash is not going to be put into those sealed hazardous waste tanker cars, it will be transported in open-top hoppers, directly exposed to the air. And they're going to wet it down at the start, and hope like hell he wind and forward motion of the train don't cause enough evaporation to dry it out (the top layers, anyway) and set it loose in the air. I think we should require them to publish the rail shipping schedule, so observers can be on site in different locations to monitor the ash trains. But I doubt they will volunteer that information.

WRAL tracking McCrory's campaign promises

Not that voters are really paying attention:

WRAL News identified 33 specific promises McCrory made while on the campaign trail and, through our Promise Tracker feature, have been keeping tabs on whether he keeps his word. Of those promises, McCrory has accomplished 17. Another four are marked "kept so far," which means he will achieve that goal if his office's policies don't change. Combined, that's a full two-thirds of the promises we're tracking.

During McCrory's two years in office, the tracker has rated only two promises as broken. One relates to additional abortion regulations; the other relates to developing an ethics plan at the start of his term.

There are a couple of major problems I see with this approach to "rating" the performance of McCrory. The first is evident from the sentence above: When issues are broken down into sheer numbers, the importance of some are diminished. He gets a "No" on adding abortion restrictions, but a "Yes" on allowing industry to be more involved in their own regulation. In reality, the abortion statement he made was a bald-faced lie that seriously compromised the rights of both female patients and doctors, and it deserves more than just a check-off on a list. The second problem with this approach is it only tracks campaign promises, as opposed to promises he's made as Governor. Like holding Duke Energy accountable for the Dan River coal ash spill, and then allowing them to claim "mission accomplished" while 90+% of the coal ash remains in the River. If we're not going to track all of his lies, what's the point?

On Art Pope and the UNC System

A few jabs from Thomas Mills to set the tone:

It’s part of why North Carolina developed a reputation as a beacon of light in an otherwise dark South. Our university system became an engine of economic progress that has made the Triangle a leader in the information age and one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country.

Pope doesn’t believe in any of that. He believes that the free market is the key to success. Higher education should be little more than job training and critical thinking skills learned in a liberal arts curriculum have little place in his world. Pope is neither a manager nor a deep thinker. He’s an ideologue born with a silver spoon in his mouth who has spent his life forcing square pegs into round holes.

Many of those discussing the possibility of an Art Pope-directed UNC System are focusing on how he might cut programs, but the more likely result would be a skewing of the curriculum, something he's been trying to do for years. But I'll let one of UNC's professors explain:

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - NC GOP