NCDP Clips for January 20, 2014

MLK 50th ANNIVERSARY

LA Times: Nation honors Martin Luther King: parades, service, ‘no shots fired’
With calls for a day of service to the poor and a renewed commitment to nonviolence, Americans on Monday commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the federal holiday that honors the slain civil rights leader. President Obama and his wife, Michelle, will lead a day of service, according to the White House, and they will be joined by hundreds of thousand of volunteers feeding the hungry in cities, including New York. Parades in honor of King will be held in many places, including Los Angeles.

NJ 101.5: 5 Quotes to Inspire You on MLK DAY 2014
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. here are 5 quotes to inspire you on MLK Day 2014.

Politico: The King-Kennedy connection
As the nation reflects on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., an audiotape of an interview with the civil rights leader discovered in a Tennessee attic sheds new light on a famous phone call John F. Kennedy made to King’s wife more than 50 years ago. Historians generally agree that Kennedy’s phone call to Coretta Scott King expressing concern over her husband’s arrest in October 1960 — and Robert Kennedy’s work behind the scenes to get King released — helped JFK win the White House that fall. King himself, while appreciative, wasn’t as quick to credit the Kennedys alone with getting him out of jail, according to a previously unreleased portion of the interview with the civil rights leader days after Kennedy’s election. “The Kennedy family did have some part … in the release,” King says in the recording, which was discovered in 2012. “But I must make it clear that many other forces worked to bring it about also.”

MCCRORY/NCGA

Wilson Times: In Wilson, McCrory Weighs in on Top Issues
Micah Beasley, a spokesperson for the state Democratic party, said the unemployment rates are not dropping in North Carolina because people are more productive, rather they are giving up hope. "An article on Bloomberg.com said that North Carolina is experiencing the largest labor-force contraction it’s ever seen — 77,000 fewer people were working or searching for work this October than a year ago,” Beasley said. "People are giving up.” Beasley said North Carolinians who get unemployment benefits don’t just decide not to look for work.

The New York Times: North Carolina Ultrasound Abortion Law Ruled Illegal by Judge
A federal judge on Friday struck down a 2011 North Carolina law requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and explain it to a woman before having an abortion, arguing it violated the constitutional right to free speech of doctors. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles found that a state does not have "the power to compel a health care provider to speak, in his or her own voice, the state’s ideological message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term." The law "compels a health care provider to act as the state’s courier and to disseminate the state’s message discouraging abortion, in the provider’s own voice, in the middle of a medical procedure, and under circumstances where it would seem the message is the provider’s and not the state’s," she added in her 42-page ruling. "This is not allowed under the First Amendment," Eagles ruled.

MSNBC: Judge rejects forced ultrasounds in N.C.
After North Carolina Republicans reclaimed control of the General Assembly in 2010, they got right to work tackling culture-war issues Democratic lawmakers had previously rejected. Near the top of the list: requiring women to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds before terminating a pregnancy. At the time, then-Gov. Bev Perdue (D) vetoed the bill, but the GOP-led legislature overrode the veto in July 2011, passing the measure into law. Late Friday afternoon, however, as Raleigh’s News & Observer reported, the proposal ran into trouble in the courts.

NCDP

NCDP Release: NCDP statement recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired a nation to look inside of its self and aspire to be better. We are reminded today that the dream lives on and we still have much work to do on the issues of equality, justice and freedom. Even today, too many children go to bed hungry at night and still some seek to put up barriers at the ballot box. Dr. King’s legacy calls on us to remember ‘the fierce urgency of now’ and to never turn back the clock on our most fundamental freedoms and our pursuit of a more fair and just society for all Americans.”

NCDP Release: 2011 NCGA anti-women’s health law struck down
“This proves what Democrats across the state already knew — a woman’s health decisions are between her and her doctor and should not be intruded upon by fringe policies,” NCDP 1st Vice Chair Patsy Keever said. “From Pat McCrory breaking his word, to Thom Tillis walking out, Republicans are either on the wrong side or nowhere to be found when it comes to standing up for the women of North Carolina.”

WHITE HOUSE

Huffington Post: Obama Believes 2014 ‘Can Be A Breakthrough Year For America’

President Barack Obama says he believes 2014 can be a breakthrough year for the country. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says the U.S. is primed to bring back jobs lost in the recession or to overseas competitors. But he says to make that happen, the U.S. must act to create good-paying jobs and increase economic opportunity. Obama says he wants to work with Congress. But he says when Congress doesn’t act, he’ll act on his own. He’s pointing to a new manufacturing innovation institute the government helped launch in North Carolina.

Tampa Bay Times: Obama says U.S. produces more oil than it imports for first time in nearly 20 years
President Barack Obama this week touted the progress his administration has made in recovering from the economic recession, focusing on developments in engineering and manufacturing. "Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of the American people, the good news is the economy is growing stronger," he said in a speech on Jan. 15, 2014, at North Carolina State University. "Our businesses have now created more than 8 million new jobs since we hit bottom. Because of an all-of-the-above strategy for American energy, for the first time in nearly two decades, we produce more oil here in the United States than we buy from the rest of the world."

U.S. CONGRESS

CNN Money: 850,000 may have $90 less in food stamps

A deal on food stamps in Congress could trim as much as $90 a month from 850,000 of the nation’s poorest who seek help to buy groceries. The measure is part of the latest farm bill and aims to cut about $9 billion from food stamps over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Research Service. It’s less than the $39 billion that Republicans had wanted to cut from the program; but double what Democrats had suggested. Lawmakers characterize the deal as getting rid of a "loophole" that has helped 17 states dole out more generous food stamps to some people who also get as little as $1 dollar in federal help to heat or cool their homes. They also stress the move won’t cut families from food stamps, it will just shrink the amount.

VOTING RIGHTS

Dome: Report ranks best and worst NC counties for voting access
Hertford, Pender and Scotland counties have the worst voting access in North Carolina, according to a report released by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Seventy-nine counties in the state were analyzed based on rates of overall voter turnout, voter registration, voter list maintenance, provisional ballots accepted and rejected, and absentee ballots rejected. The report, which analyzed counties in every swing state from the last election, concluded that ease of exercising the right to vote is heavily dependent on where one lives. Data was compared only within each state with counties measured against state averages — not nationally. While all factors were weighted equally, the study noted that Hertford County rejected the highest number of absentee ballots in the state, while Pender rejected the sixth-highest. All three counties were among the worst performing in terms of the rate at which registered voters were purged from the list.

The Atlantic: The Uncertain Future of Voter ID Laws
Following a lengthy trial last summer, and six months of agonizing delay, Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley on Friday struck down Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law as violative of the constitutional rights of state voters. Here is the link to the ruling, which state Republicans were absorbing Friday as they decided whether to appeal. The ruling is significant on its own terms, of course; it’s a major victory for voting rights advocates and a setback for vote suppressors in the state and everywhere else. As a matter of politics the import is clear. Pennsylvania is an eternal swing state—although it has swung blue most recently in national contests—and it is still considered a must-win for Democratic candidates for president. By blocking a law that would have erected practical impediments to mostly poor, young, old, and minority voters, Friday’s ruling makes it more likely that those likely Democratic voters will have their votes counted in 2014, at least.

AP: Feds Deny State Bids To Tighten Voter Registration
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission found Friday that heightened proof-of-citizenship requirements likely would hinder eligible citizens from voting in federal elections, handing down a ruling that denied requests from Kansas, Arizona and Georgia to modify the registration form for their residents. The decision came just hours before a court-imposed deadline in a lawsuit filed in federal court by Kansas and Arizona that seeks to force the commission to modify state-specific requirements for registering to vote in those states. Georgia, which has a similar voter registration law, is not part of the litigation but was included in the commission’s decision. Those states have enacted laws requiring new voters to provide a birth certificate, passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote. People who register using the federal form only need to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, that he or she is a U.S. citizen.

LGBT

The Salt Lake Tribune: Tribune Poll Utah Divided on Same Sex Marriage

A new poll for The Salt Lake Tribune shows that Utahns’ views on same-sex couples’ relationships have dramatically shifted in the decade since voters amended the state’s constitution to prohibit them from receiving any legal recognition. Residents are now evenly split on whether same-sex couples in Utah should be allowed to get state-issued marriage licenses — 48 percent for and 48 percent against — and nearly three-fourths (72 percent) said same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions or domestic partnerships in lieu of marriage.

CHRIS CHRISTIE

CNN: Hoboken mayor: ‘I didn’t think anyone would believe me’
A day after Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer rankled the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with allegations that his office withheld Superstorm Sandy relief funding over her refusal to push through a redevelopment project, Zimmer now says the threat was "a direct message from the governor." "It’s stunning. It’s outrageous. But it’s true," Zimmer told CNN’s Candy Crowley in an interview Sunday morning. Zimmer appeared on MSNBC on Saturday to level charges that members of Christie’s administration pressured her to approve a redevelopment project sought by The Rockefeller Group, a real estate developer with ties to the governor’s office. Zimmer said Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno made the threat on behalf of Christie at a May 13 event they both attended in Hoboken. Later recording the conversation in a journal entry she shared with CNN, Zimmer recalled the lieutenant governor warned her she had "to move forward with the Rockefeller project" and labeled the demand "a direct message from the governor."

OPINION/COMMENTARY

Washington Post: The Republican Party’s uphill path to 270 electoral votes in 2016
A recent conversation with a veteran of GOP presidential campaigns raised this question: Which, if any, of the recent battleground states are likely to become more Republican by 2016? The consensus: very few. That reality highlights one problem Republicans face as they seek to regain the White House after six years under President Obama. Lots of factors affect elections: the quality of the candidates, the state of the economy, the effectiveness of the campaigns. But in a country whose demographics continue to change, Republicans will begin this campaign with one significant disadvantage. Over the past three decades, the political leanings of many states have shifted dramatically. What once was a sizable Republican advantage in the electoral college has become a decided Democratic advantage.

Washington Post: Democracy needs dogged local journalism

If you type “Shawn Boburg” into your Web browser address bar, a strange thing happens. Boburg is a reporter for The Record newspaper, in Bergen County, N.J. But ShawnBoburg.com sends visitors to The Record’s rival, Newark’s Star-Ledger.
The man who bought the rights to Boburg’s online name — and who presumably engineered the nasty little redirect — is David Wildstein, who last week became the country’s most high-profile political appointee. After his high school classmate Chris Christie was elected governor of New Jersey in 2009, Wildstein was appointed to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for a highly paid position that, conveniently, had no job description. Wildstein, who has since resigned, was held in contempt last week by a state legislature committee for refusing to answer questions about his role in the four-day traffic disaster that gridlocked the town of Fort Lee, N.J., last September.

News and Observer: DHHS, Ricky Diaz and not knowing what you don’t know
We may never know for sure whether Ricky Diaz jumped or was pushed. But we can hope Gov. Pat McCrory and his administration learned something from Diaz’s short but exciting stint as spokesman for North Carolina’s largest and most controversial state agency. Diaz was communications director for the state Department of Health and Human Services. You’ve heard about the agency a lot since the McCrory folks took over. Life has not been a bowl of cherries there. More a bowl of pits. There was the debacle of NC FAST, the computer system that was supposed to streamline the way food stamp applicants got their funding. Last summer, it lived up to an alternate meaning of its own name, incorrectly locking out thousands of recipients and forcing them to use food banks. Turns out, it still is, despite the frequent assertions from the communications director that all the problems were fixed. NC Tracks, another new computer system, was even worse, denying millions of dollars in legitimate Medicaid reimbursements to the state’s doctors and hospitals. Right in the middle of that mess, Diaz and his staff issued a release headlined “NC Tracks is On Track.” In truth, it was suffering frequent derailments.

The New York Times: What Happens When the Poor Receive a Stipend?
So when, in 1996, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains opened a casino, Jane Costello, an epidemiologist at Duke University Medical School, saw an opportunity. The tribe elected to distribute a proportion of the profits equally among its 8,000 members. Professor Costello wondered whether the extra money would change psychiatric outcomes among poor Cherokee families. When the casino opened, Professor Costello had already been following 1,420 rural children in the area, a quarter of whom were Cherokee, for four years. That gave her a solid baseline measure. Roughly one-fifth of the rural non-Indians in her study lived in poverty, compared with more than half of the Cherokee. By 2001, when casino profits amounted to $6,000 per person yearly, the number of Cherokee living below the poverty line had declined by half. The poorest children tended to have the greatest risk of psychiatric disorders, including emotional and behavioral problems. But just four years after the supplements began, Professor Costello observed marked improvements among those who moved out of poverty. The frequency of behavioral problems declined by 40 percent, nearly reaching the risk of children who had never been poor. Already well-off Cherokee children, on the other hand, showed no improvement. The supplements seemed to benefit the poorest children most dramatically.

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Micah Beasley, Communications Director
North Carolina Democratic Party
MBeasley
@Micah4NC

Paid for by North Carolina Democratic Party. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.