N.C. House Leader Larry Hall calls for investigation into DHHS raises, McCrory erases Facebook posts calling out #NCGA Republicans, as #NCGOP makes false claims, classrooms are faced with the reality of education cuts, Sen. Hagan awaits DOJ review of NC voter suppression bill, Colin Powell takes the air of #NCGOP voter ID argument, leaders gather to commemorate 50th Anniversary of March on Washington, AZ law defunding Planned Parenthood struck down, Michelle Nunn fights to turn tide in GA for Dems and a powerful message from Appalachian State University student voters
Charlotte Observer: Top salaries rise in state agency office
The state Department of Health and Human Services has created new high-salaried positions in its central office this year and is paying some top executives more than their predecessors even as the agency’s full-time payroll and average salary have declined. The department hired its first chief financial officer, Rod Davis in June, at a salary of $169,148. About six weeks earlier, the agency’s budget director, Jim Slate, received a $30,660 raise, to $144,000. Joe Cooper, the information technology chief hired this year to be in charge of the agency’s computer systems, makes $175,000, about $20,000 more than Chris Estes, the information technology chief for the state.
WRAL: Top House Dem wants DHHS raises investigated
House Minority Leader Larry Hall asked Friday for a legislative inquiry into sizable raises handed out to former campaign staffers of Gov. Pat McCrory who now work in the Department of Health and Human Services. Hall, D-Durham, sent a letter to House Speaker Thom Tillis requesting a special meeting of the Health and Human Services Committee when lawmakers return to Raleigh on Sept. 3 to consider overrides of two McCrory vetoes.
WRAL: Vetoes could cost McCrory precious political capital
McCrory has called lawmakers back to Raleigh on Sept. 3 to give them a chance to consider overriding his vetoes on bills that would require people applying for welfare to pass a drug test and would ease the requirements for employers to check the immigration status of seasonal workers. He has urged lawmakers to sustain his vetoes, even taking to Facebook to rally public support for his positions.
WRAL: McCrory erases Facebook posts challenging lawmakers
Earlier this week, McCrory had used his Facebook account to give the names and office phone numbers of individual lawmakers, asking constituents to call and tell them “to sustain my vetoes of fiscally irresponsible & job-killing legislation: HB 392 & HB 786.”Those posts are now erased, with no explanation appended to the site.
Times News: McCrory clears out remaining pending bills
The General Assembly’s web site says 33 of the 34 bills that hadn’t been acted upon to date were signed Friday by the governor. They include a wide-ranging regulatory bill, a delay on implementing pollution-control rules for Jordan Lake and an effort that keeps judicial disciplinary activities secret longer.
Charlotte Observer: Where the North Carolina GOP got its agenda
It was, says one GOP operative, the “national Republican agenda on steroids.” Republican lawmakers passed 338 laws this year that will touch every North Carolinian’s pocketbook, every student’s classroom and every voter’s experience at the polls. Their sweeping changes have drawn praise from conservatives, scorn from Democrats and punch lines on Comedy Central.It was the first session in more than a century that Republicans controlled the legislature and the governor’s mansion. Democrats had little influence and less success.
NC Policy Watch: State Superintendent June Atkinson decries state budget, vouchers, and low teacher pay
The 2013-15 biennial budget that North Carolina’s state legislature passed in July spends close to $562.5 million less on K-12 public education than the state did in 2008, after you adjust the budget numbers for inflation. At the same time, student enrollment has increased considerably since then and teachers have only had a one-time salary adjustment of 1.2 percent during the past seven years.Atkinson compared this budget to an experience she had when she was younger, trying to eke out as many trade-in dollars as she could from a busted Chevy Impala in the hopes of getting a sizable down payment for a new car.“I had two tires in bad shape, two tires in good shape, a faded vinyl top but a good paint job,” described Atkinson about her Impala. But the car dealer wasn’t buying what she was offering.“The moral of the story is that [the dealer] did give me the value that I needed for a down payment for a new car—and that’s the way that I look at the budget that we have.
WRAL: School funding debate meets reality in classrooms
“We don’t have substitutes,” Rigsbee said. The budget isn’t there to hire temporary replacements for teachers who are out sick, so teachers aides, gym coaches, librarians and even the principal fill in. “It’s very frustrating when you hear the governor say, ‘We’re giving more to the schools,’ and then see all the red numbers on our side of the ledger,” Rigsbee said. “If we’re getting all this money, where’s it going?” How can it be true, as Gov. Pat McCrory recently proclaimed, that the state has “the largest K-through-12 budget in North Carolina history,” and at the same time principals and teachers are scrambling for supplies and rearranging staff as the bulk of North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students return to the classroom this week?
Times-News: Alamance County teachers protest education cuts
They sang, danced and wore red — lots of red. But mostly they vowed to do something about the cuts to education approved this summer by state legislators.“We need to stand up for what is right and what is just,” said Tony Foriest, a former Democratic state senator from Alamance County.He was one of a handful of speakers who addressed a crowd gathered on Court Square for a rally for public education. More than 100 people attended — the majority involved with education. There were plenty of teachers outside the old courthouse Saturday morning.
WECT: Hagan awaiting review of voter ID law
A day after the U.S. Justice Department filed suit to block a Texas voter ID law, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said she is waiting on Attorney General Eric Holder to respond to her plea for similar action here.”I’m hoping that he will do what he’s done in Texas here in North Carolina,” she said during an interview Friday in the WECT studio. Hagan has been vocal in opposing North Carolina’s new voter ID law, passed by the Republican-led General Assembly and signed earlier this month by Gov. Pat McCrory.
The Daily Beast: Was 2012 the Worst Year Ever for Voting Rights?
A law in North Carolina imposes a special voter-ID requirement while invalidating several forms of government-or public-employee ID, including student IDs and those issued by public-assistance agencies. It reduces early voting and eliminates same-day voter registration, both of which have been favored by the state’s black voters. It repeals a mandate for high school voter-registration drives.
Bloomsberg: The Butler Saw It, and the Court Should, Too
That’s why I wish Chief Justice John Roberts and four of his Supreme Court colleagues would see it, too. Maybe it will help them understand how wrong they got it when they recently decided that we are so far past Jim Crow that we can dispense with a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. I’ll buy the popcorn. The justices need to focus on some of the movie’s vivid, and most stomach-turning, scenes. They will see respectable white citizens of my parents’ generation spitting at, pouring hot coffee on and beating up young blacks — and in particular the son of the butler of the title — as they try to do the simple things in life: have a Coke at a lunch counter, drink at a water fountain, go to school. Try to tell the children of those civil-rights pioneers that we’re so beyond discrimination that we no longer need the rules to ensure that states (mostly Southern ones) don’t put into effect latter-day versions of the literacy test.
The Daily Beast: Colin Powell Lashes Out at the GOP’s Bogus Claims on Voter Fraud
“I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote,” Powell told an audience of 430, which included Governor Pat McCrory, who signed the law last week. He attacked the idea that there was an epidemic of voter fraud in the state: “You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud … How can it be widespread and undetected?” And he said that the law sends the wrong message to minority voters, who—in North Carolina—are largely African American. “What it really says to the minority voters is,” he said, “‘We really are sort of punishing you.’” Not only is Powell now the most high-profile critic of North Carolina’s voting law but his comments echo similar criticisms from civil-rights activists and others who say the law makes it harder for students and minorities to vote.
The Hill: Colin Powell warns Republican voter ID laws will backfire
Powell took aim at efforts on the state legislature level to require that people show photo identification to vote. “These kinds of procedures that are being put in place to slow the process down and make it likely that fewer Hispanics and African Americans might vote I think are going to backfire, because these people are going to come out and do what they have to to vote, and I encourage that,” Powell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Following the Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, Republicans in states like Texas and North Carolina are advancing legislation that would require voters to show photo ID at the polls.
Politics North Carolina: Losing the Argument
General Colin Powell, a Republican, came to North Carolina and said what most of the state and nation believes. “I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote.” Then, he took down the GOP’s main talking point, ”You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud,” McCrory’s office said they “respectfully disagree” with Powell. Phil Bergers’s office issued his standard statement saying the “measure restores confidence in our voting system.” Here’s the dirty little secret. Most people never lost confidence in our voting system and the ones who did lost it because we elected a Democrat (and a Black one, at that) president.
WRAL: Watauga elections board scrubs meeting minutes
The details of the meeting were included in draft minutes, but the three-member board approved a third version of the minutes on Tuesday, scrubbing the details. The approved minutes say merely that precinct locations were discussed and include no mention of Yates.”In what ways have you two not violated the open meetings law?” Campbell asked before the revised minutes were approved. “You boys should be ashamed of yourselves.”Eggers said the minutes should include only proposals and votes and not the details of the discussion.”The minutes are to reflect what the board did – the business of the board – in a concise manner, and I feel like the minutes that were written do exactly that,” he said.
Mountain Xpress: BCGOP chair Henry Mitchell: New NC voting law brings us closer in line with the rest of U.S.
Everyone, please, just relax! The new North Carolina Voter ID Law simply compares to the election laws already existing in most of the other states. A Voter Suppression Act. Disenfranchised voters. One of the nation’s most restrictive Voter ID Laws in the country. Controversial. Sweeping. Fiercely contested. An assault on democracy…..We have heard it from the press. We have heard it from the left. It’s all over the internet, Facebook and Twitter….Actually, the TRUTH? North Carolina’s new Voting and Election Law just brings us closer in line with the rest of the country. Believe it or not– somehow, elections are still occurring in all of these other states. North Carolina’s voting laws had been among the most liberal in the country. Now, even with the new changes, NC’s Election Law remains more liberal than those in many states.
MARCH ON WASHINGTON ANNIVERSARY
CNN: March on Washington: Throngs mark ‘I Have a Dream’ anniversary
Standing on the spot where 50 years earlier the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made “I have a dream” the clarion call of the civil rights movement, a broader call for equality rang out Saturday. Thousands rallied at the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic August 28, 1963, March on Washington. Leaders from civil rights, religious and civic organizations paid tribute to those who fought and continue to fight for racial equality, but the slate of demands today has expanded to other hot-button issues. Huffington Post: John Lewis Speech: 1963 March On Washington Speaker Urges Crowd To Fight For Voting Rights
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) urged the crowd at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington Saturday to fight for the Voting Rights Act in the wake of a June Supreme Court decision gutting its core provision.”I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama for the right to vote,” he said, referring to Bloody Sunday in 1965 when police beat him and hundreds of other peaceful protesters. “I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us.”Lewis continued, “You cannot stand by. You cannot sit down. You got to stand up. Speak up. Speak out, and get in the way. Make some noise!”
Reuters: 50 years after King speech, discrimination feeds black economic gap: Obama
President Barack Obama said on Friday that America’s history of racial discrimination had contributed to a persistent economic gap between blacks and whites in the 50 years since Martin Luther King’s landmark “I have a dream” speech. Obama said his own story showed the “enormous strides” the United States had made since King’s speech, but as Washington commemorates the anniversary of King’s address, the disparity between black and white income remained.
The Nation: On the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, a New Civil Rights Movement Emerges
In North Carolina, Barber’s Moral Monday coalition has sparked a multiracial, multi-issue political movement unseen since the 1960s, when the state became the birthplace of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins. Moral Monday activists have led the fight against the slew of radical policies passed by the state’s GOP legislature this year, including the country’s worst voter suppression law. “The greed, the meanness and the extremism of the far right has created a space for us to come together,” Barber told me. “This evil is producing a good.” For example, as a result of the GOP’s outrageous attacks on student voting, “we’re going to be able to organize these college campuses like never before,” Barber says.
Buzzfeed: 34 Photos From The March On Washington 50 Years Ago
Fox 8: Challenges to NC ultrasound law
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles ordered a preliminary injunction on the Woman’s Right to Know Act after health care providers and civil liberties advocates challenged key parts of the Act in 2011. Friday morning Judge Eagles heard arguments from each side of the case. The law was vetoed by former Governor Bev Perdue but later adopted by the N.C. General Assembly. The law would allow for a woman to cover her eyes and ears during the required ultrasound and presentation from her healthcare provider. There are no exceptions for physicians in the law, who would be required to present the ultrasound and information about the fetus, even if his or her patient objects or the doctor feels it would be a traumatic experience.
Huffington Post: Arizona Law Defunding Planned Parenthood Struck Down
An Arizona law that would have cut clinics that provide abortion services from the state’s Medicaid plan was struck down Thursday, signaling a win for Planned Parenthood. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said lawmakers in Arizona were wrong to tie Medicaid funds for family planning services to a requirement that clinics like Planned Parenthood stop performing abortions, according to the East Valley Tribune. The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood filed a complaint about the law in July, arguing it’s “wrong for the state to tell Arizonans who they can and cannot see for their health care.”
The Washington Times: Obama says deficit is dropping at near-record pace
President Obama said Friday that the federal deficit has dropped substantially in recent years and the budget is in good enough shape to begin spending again on his priorities such as education. Speaking at a town hall at the State University of New York-Binghamton, Mr. Obama said red ink is receding at its fastest pace since World War II.The deficit peaked at $1.4 trillion in 2009, which spanned the end of President George W. Bush’s tenure and the beginning of Mr. Obama’s, and that record was followed by deficits of $1.3 trillion in 2010 and 2011 and $1.1 trillion in 2012. But this year’s deficit is projected to be less than $700 billion.
Buzzfeed: Obama Takes A Swipe At Romney At Pennsylvania Tour Stop
Some old political habits die hard. And so it was that President Obama went off-script on the last day of his college affordability bus tour here Friday to prod Mitt Romney over health care.Obamacare “used to be a Republican idea,” Obama said. “There was a governor in Massachusetts set it up. It’s working really well.”It was an ironic moment considering the circumstances, an appearance with Vice President Biden in a state that both presidential campaigns briefly treated as in play in the final days of the 2012 election. Political observers viewed the event as a possible first appearance of a 2016 bid by Biden, so the reminder of a presidential campaign moment gone by was especially delicious to the national press corps gathered here.
National Journal: Obamacare Showdown Over a Ham Breakfast in Kentucky
The excitement at the Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast is usually over how high the bids will go when a ham is auctioned. But this year, it came when Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear made an emotional case for the Affordable Care Act as a chance to change his state’s long history of poor health. It was not what anyone expected—least of all Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, who sat stone-faced onstage with Beshear as he unloaded on them without using names.
Reuters: Republicans shape strategy for fall U.S. budget fights
Republican plans for tackling two looming fiscal battles began to take shape this week as House of Representatives leaders made clear they want to pass a temporary measure to avoid a possible government shutdown while pushing for U.S. budget austerity.
Huffington Post: Government Shutdown Looms As Obama, Congressional Leaders Aim For Budget Deal
Congressional Republican leaders and the Obama administration are trying to cut a deal that avoids a government shutdown in October while facing what could be an even bigger fight over the nation’s debt ceiling in the rest of the year.An agreement to keep the government operating at current spending levels through October and November would head off a politically costly disruption of federal services but still leave a clash looming, like the one that roiled the economy two years ago, over a possible government default.
The Hill: Sen. Boxer: Olympics discrimination would be ‘dark stain’ on Russia.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Friday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to repeal a Russian anti-gay law. Boxer warned the law would leave a “dark stain” on Russia’s reputation if gay athletes are discriminated against when the country hosts the Winter Olympics in 2014. “If these laws and policies are not repealed, the consequences for human life and human dignity could get even worse,” said Boxer, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Human Rights.
Dome: Hagan feels good ’14, would invite Obama to campaign
Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan said she thinks she is well-positioned for re-election campaign next year, although she expects hers to one of the top targeted Senate seats when Republicans try to retake control of the Senate next year.”I feel very, very good about my race,” Hagan said in a meeting with reporters and editors of The News and Observer. “I know I have to raise a lot of money. I know the opposition will be spending an incredible amount of money in our state. I won’t be able to counter that but I will certainly be prepared and put together a top notch team.”
The Daily Beast: Michelle Nunn’s Family Ties
Michelle Nunn wants to end the Democrats’ losing streak in Georgia and win back her father’s Senate seat. No Democrat has won statewide office in Georgia since 1998. But Michelle Nunn intends to change that by winning the Senate seat her father held for 24 years. Nunn is campaigning as an “independent minded” Democrat, and when I spoke with her this week, she had just completed a 10-city “What Can Washington Learn From Georgia” tour—a trip she undertook with her two young children in tow and her husband at the wheel of a rented red minivan.
The Hill: GOP infighting over ObamaCare could spill over into 2014 elections
Republican infighting over the defunding of ObamaCare is growing increasingly nasty and could spill over into the 2014 elections.Hardline conservatives are pushing for the GOP to shut down the government if Democrats refuse to defund ObamaCare, and are threatening reprisals in primaries if they don’t get their way. Establishment Republicans are just as furious, and aren’t backing down.The GOP conflict is the most public — and heated — of any since Republicans lost the 2012 elections, and exposes a rift in the party that will likely grow deeper. The civil war could hurt the party’s chances to retake the Senate and hold on to its majority in the House.
Political Wire: Cruz Refuses to Endorse Cornyn for Re-Election
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declined to back fellow Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s bid for reelection in 2014, saying that he will probably steer clear of all races in which incumbents face primary challengers, the Washington Post reports. Cruz called Cornyn a “good man” and a “friend,” but said, “I think it is likely that I am going to stay out of incumbent primaries across the country, either supporting incumbents or opposing incumbents.”
Reuters: In potential 2016 campaign preview, Obama spotlights Biden on tour
President Barack Obama has so far stayed neutral about the presidential prospects of Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden – two friends who may be vying to succeed him – but on Friday he showcased his vice president with a joint appearance in Biden’s hometown.
Examiner: New poll shows Hillary Clinton as favorite in key Virginia battleground
A new poll released from Quinnipiac University yesterday shows Hillary Clinton (D) is the heavy favorite in the key 2016 battleground state of Virginia. According to the poll, Clinton would defeat the strongest Republican rival, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), by nine points with Clinton earning 46 percent of the vote compares to just 37 percent for Christie.
Lexington Herald-Leader: NC presidential primary poised for earlier date
Moore said he expects the 2016 primary in his state will be in February again, possibly three days before North Carolina’s if North Carolina keeps its new law. But even South Carolina’s GOP lost half of its delegates last year when it moved up its own primary earlier to remain ahead of Florida, which attempted to leapfrog South Carolina. North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller blasted the Republican-led legislature for the presidential primary change. “The Republicans saw an opportunity to silence our voice on the national stage at a time when they should be fighting to increase it,” he said.
Bloomberg: Christie Adds Gay-Therapy Ban to Pre-2016 List of Risks
New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie is taking risks in charting a path toward a potential 2016 White House run, staking out positions that may alienate his party’s activists as he seeks to demonstrate the broad appeal that could win a presidential election. Christie’s decision yesterday to sign a state ban on so-called “gay-conversion therapy” — the effort to turn homosexual teenagers straight — and his comments asserting that homosexuality is inborn and not a sin are the latest sign he is willing to defy Republican orthodoxy as he presses for a big re-election victory this year in Democratic-leaning New Jersey.
Huffington Post: Rick Perry Says Presidential Run Still A ‘Very Viable Option’
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) indicated on Thursday that he’s still thinking about running for president in 2016, despite his failed 2012 bid. Perry told Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg that he’s going to make a decision “over the course of the next year,” but that a 2016 run is a “very viable option.” In June, Perry announced that he would not run for reelection as Texas’ governor, a job he has held since his predecessor, George W. Bush, won a higher office and resigned in 2000.
The New York Times: Iowa’s G.O.P. Fears Its Role in Presidential Selection Is Diminishing
On the surface, Iowa’s Republican presidential caucuses seem healthier than ever: would-be candidates are flocking here mere months after the last White House race ended, drawing sizable crowds and ample news coverage. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania were in this central Iowa college town for a Christian conservative conference this month, and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has come to the state twice since May.
The New York Times: Court Is ‘One of Most Activist,’ Ginsburg Says, Vowing to Stay
In wide-ranging remarks in her chambers on Friday that touched on affirmative action, abortion and same-sex marriage, Justice Ginsburg said she had made a mistake in joining a 2009 opinion that laid the groundwork for the court’s decision in June effectively striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The recent decision, she said, was “stunning in terms of activism.” Unless they have a book to sell, Supreme Court justices rarely give interviews. Justice Ginsburg has given several this summer, perhaps in reaction to calls from some liberals that she step down in time for President Obama to name her successor. On Friday, she said repeatedly that the identity of the president who would appoint her replacement did not figure in her retirement planning. “There will be a president after this one, and I’m hopeful that that president will be a fine president,” she said.
News and Observer: At least 7 people seek Kinnaird’s former Dist. 23 seat in NC Senate
Former state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird expected someone would be quietly appointed to the seat she left this week.She didn’t expect a race between at least seven candidates. As of midday Friday, the announced candidates for District 23 were former state Rep. Alice Bordsen, who represented Alamance County; attorney Heidi Chapman; retiring Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton; state Rep.Valerie Foushee; attorney M. Lynette Hartsell; former Carrboro Mayor Jim Porto; and author and educator Amy Tiemann.Kinnaird said she told Democratic Party officials she would like to see Bordsen get the job. The women have been friends for decades and collaborated on public safety and juvenile justice issues. Kinnaird said she will write the party a letter to emphasize pending bills, including a change the two women pushed for in the state’s handling of juvenile offenders.
The Appaclachian Online: Editorial: The voters of Appalachian will still be heard
Gov. Pat McCrory and many North Carolina Republicans won’t be making many college-aged friends any time soon. McCrory approved new voting restrictions earlier this month that will eliminate the use of state-issued school IDs as acceptable voting identification. Aside from that, the Republican majority of the Watauga County Board of Elections plans to condense the three voting precincts that previously made up the Town of Boone into one precinct, according to WRAL. The voting for that district will move from areas convenient to Appalachian State University’s campus to a location that is farther away.The new polling place will be the voting location for just short of 10,000 Watauga residents. For perspective, there are fewer than 40 parking spaces, according to WRAL.
Reflector: Letter: Berger twists truth about teachers
Berger implies the average teacher compensation of $55,264 is mouth-watering — but probably not to the young DHHS staffers just hired at $85,000. Besides, averages obscure real numbers, especially those in the bottom half of the distribution. Berger falsely states that tenure guaranteed lifetime employment. Tenured teachers could be fired for cause, including “inadequate performance.” The tenure system simply established a process for dismissal. If it wasn’t rigorously applied, the fault lies with administrators and/or boards.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
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