Workers with the state Department of Health and Human Services rallied Thursday to speak out against large raises for agency managers, arguing that their wages have essentially been frozen for years. About 30 mental health workers and their allies protested what they say are unsafe and unfair working conditions in state mental health facilities. The protest was organized by Local 150 of the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, the state public-service workers union. Protesters said state mental health facilities are dangerously understaffed after years of budget cuts. Also, workers haven’t had a significant raise since 2008, and four out of five are stuck at the bottom of their pay scale, meaning many have to work two jobs to make ends meet.
Department of Health and Human Services employees upset over raises given to top level employees protested Thursday outside of the agency’s headquarters in Raleigh. State mental health workers who are members of the UE local 150, Public Service Workers Union are outraged at Gov. Pat McCrory and DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. The workers say they were told that their wages would be frozen yet upper management was given raises totaling $1.7 million. "We’re not asking for exorbitant things. We’re just asking for a living wage so we can take care of our families. Give us a seat at the table," said protest organizer Larsene Taylor.
Well, McCrory and company are at it again. The Governor is at an exclusive resort in Greensboro hobnobbing with the big donors whose money is keeping him afloat. And this time he’s offering up his cabinet secretaries and advisors to the money people. Prostitution comes to mind. It reminds me of the scene in the Godfather when the Corleones are moving into Las Vegas. Fredo and Moe Green are waiting for Michael and the New Yorkers in a room full of show girls. But in this scene, Michael’s not going to run off the girls. Instead, McCrory arrives at an event with a group of people he needs to impress and pimps out his cabinet for their pleasure. Or maybe the Madam is the shady Renew North Carolina Foundation and McCrory is just another one of its whores.
Proposals to increase teacher salaries, and to continue the GOP push on state education reform, are bouncing around Raleigh’s corridors of power. Gov. Pat McCrory’s office is working on a wide-ranging plan that the governor would only hint at last week. State Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, filled in one of the big details Tuesday, saying the governor hopes to rewrite the state’s pay scale for teachers, front-loading it so newer teachers make more money than they do now.
Speaking in Greensboro last night, state Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, a retired principal, said he’s working on a plan to pay young teachers “significantly more money.” Good. Starting salaries around $30,000, with virtually no upward movement from there for several years, are not going to attract enough smart young people into the teaching profession in North Carolina. They’ll go instead to more progressive states — like South Carolina. Or almost anywhere else.
Gov. Pat McCrory says his administration is looking at many options to bolster North Carolina public school teacher pay, including front-loading raises toward new teachers and increases based on instructional performance or in-demand fields. McCrory made the comments Thursday as he welcomed dozens of business leaders to the Executive Mansion for lunch and discussion. North Carolina teachers have had one raise since 2009. It’s led to low morale and protests outside schools and at McCrory’s office one day last week. McCrory held his first teacher advisory committee meeting later that week. McCrory says he wants input from that panel and the North Carolina Business Committee for Education, whose members gathered at the mansion.
Following reports that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was not even going to try to pass an immigration bill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) scolded him Thursday for doing less work than a "family of retirees." Calling the decision "outrageous," Pelosi argued that not only could the House pass the immigration bill if Boehner would try, but it could also pass a bill to improve background checks for gun purchases and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to ban employers from firing people because of their sexual identity. "ENDA, background checks and comprehensive immigration reform — it’s right there, it’s right there," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly briefing on Capitol Hill. "It requires it to be bipartisan because we don’t have the majority, but we say to the speaker, bring up immigration any way you want — singly, jointly, severally — anything — just bring it up so we can take some votes on it." Pelosi made it clear, however, that she didn’t really expect any action in a Congress that is about the least productive in history.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Congressional Democrats are hoping to vote on their own plan to address the mass health insurance cancellations associated with Obamacare. She called it a “belt and suspenders” approach that would reinforce, but is not intended to compete with the administrative fix announced by President Barack Obama on Thursday. “We have our own proposal, which we think is really good,” Pelosi said at the Washington Ideas Forum, sponsored by the Atlantic magazine. “I think that we’ll see in the next 24, 48, 36 hours something to the effect of how do we accommodate those people” who have faced cancellation of their health plans.
The Nation: The Progressive Electoral Wave of 2013
The political and media elites obsessed only with Washington intrigue and the next presidential race thought New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s predictable re-election was the big story of the 2013 season. It wasn’t. The big story was a cross-country rejection of austerity and an endorsement of the progressive populism that Democrats must embrace if they hope to prevail in 2014. Bill de Blasio’s 73 percent landslide in the New York mayoral race, in which he ran on a platform of building a more inclusive city by addressing income inequality and taxing the wealthy, was just the topline measure of a national trend.
Vice President Joe Biden will visit Chapel Hill on Friday to help Democrat Kay Hagan raise money for her 2014 re-election bid but the timing isn’t great.The event puts Hagan standing next to the Obama administration as both face heat for the federal health care law in which they pledged to let people keep their insurance plans if they wanted. The law meant 473,000 North Carolinians lost their existing plans, according to the state Department of Insurance, because the coverage didn’t meet the tougher standards established in the Affordable Care Act.
Stan White wants his seat in the state Senate back. The Dare County resident wants to be the Democratic nominee to challenge Beaufort County resident Bill Cook, the Republican who wrested the Senate District 1 seat from White in the 2012 election, in the 2014 general election next November. The district includes Beaufort, Hyde, Dare, Currituck, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Camden and Gates counties. White announced his candidacy earlier this week, saying many of his supporters in the 2012 election have been encouraging him to run for the seat in the 2014 election. “After careful thought and considerable deliberation, along with encouragement from my family, I have made a firm decision and commitment to do all that I can to win back the seat we narrowly lost in 2012,” White said. “The 2014 election for a new senator is now less than a year away and now is the time to begin the discussion about who best can represent and fulfill the needs of the people of District 1,” he said.
Ask Representative Paul Tine what it means to be a Democrat working with a Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly and his answer is surprisingly upbeat. “It means that that you’ve got to do a lot more work to get things done, but it’s certainly not impossible. You’ve got to pick the things that you have in common and work on them,” Tine said. “My job is to look out for northeastern North Carolina and there are rural legislators on the other side that can help me do that. As a fiscal conservative, there are lots of things we can work on together. “That doesn’t mean that there aren’t days of frustration,” he laughed. The freshman representative whose district includes Beaufort, Dare, Hyde and Washington counties has made a point of visiting Beaufort County on many occasions during his first term.
Fanning the flames of uncertainty about former Gov. Charlie Crist’s viability as a gubernatorial candidate, Democrats close to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson are letting potential supporters know the three-term senator is waiting in the wings if Crist’s campaign stumbles. Nelson’s chief of staff, Pete Mitchell, called some prominent Democrats recently and told them the 71-year-old Nelson, who has been coy about his interest in the governor’s race, is considering a bid, according to sources who spoke on background. Crist, who served as a Republican governor from 2007 to 2011, is attempting a political comeback after leaving the GOP in 2010 and joining the Democratic Party late last year. Polls have consistently shown Crist would handily defeat incumbent Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who reportedly plans to spend $100 million in his re-election effort.
Houston Chronicle: "When Texas Sen. John Cornyn launches his campaign for a third six-year term on Friday with a rally in Austin, it will feature a cameo appearance by Gov. Rick Perry — but no sign of tea party-backed freshman Sen. Ted Cruz."
Republicans who have warned for years that their party needs to do a better job reaching out to Hispanic voters are finding a lot to smile about this month: according to the latest Gallup poll, Obama’s approval rating among Hispanics is at 50 percent, eight points lower than it was in late October, after the government shutdown. A recent poll of Hispanic voters in Colorado showing a modest decline in opinion on the Affordable Care Act has Republicans hoping they can exploit Healthcare.gov’s botched rollout to their advantage with Hispanic millennials.
Buzzfeed: In The Tech Trenches, The 2016 Campaign Is Well Under Way
For National Field and NGP VAN, 2014’s midterm races will serve as a “laboratory” for the technology behind the acquisition. The plan is to build stronger organizing infrastructures and work out the kinks to ensure a smooth transition in the 2016 presidential campaign. For Saatchi and National Field, that means a better, more integrated supporter data, and transferring and putting NGP VAN’s backlogs of fundraising and volunteer archives into the hands of campaign volunteers in the field in real time. It also means better and more uniform analytics dashboards as well as a continued push to develop accessible mobile tech — apps — for volunteers. More importantly, for Saatchi, 2016 is about keeping perspective about technology’s ability to influence the outcome of an election, without getting mired in the more tedious aspects of social media. “The average volunteer is usually middle-aged and not that comfortable with technology. We need to keep that in mind,” he said. “We want to make sure to keep a focus on the offline work. We’re not trying to get more Facebook likes than the other guys, we want actual offline involvement.”
If you write an article identifying a certain politician as the “nightmare” of a likely presidential nominee, you can’t get upset when readers tell you said nightmare stands little chance of snatching away the nomination. And yet I can’t help thinking many pundits missed the point when, in response to my recent story about Elizabeth Warren (“Hillary’s Nightmare”), they ticked off all the reasons Hillary Clinton would crush Warren in a potential primary matchup. It’s not that I disagree. In the piece, I describe how a Warren-Clinton primary might play out before concluding that “Warren would probably lose.” It’s just that I don’t think this is an especially interesting discussion. Most overwhelming favorites go on to win the race they’re running. The difference is that, in presidential primaries, how the frontrunner wins matters almost as much as whether they do. Do they have to adopt an entirely new political persona (see Romney, Mitt)? Do they have to make big ideological or policy concessions? Do they have to replace one set of advisers with another? Do they have to break with a key constituency or embrace an entirely new one? This “how” tells us a lot about the party and where it’s headed. And it’s here where Warren’s influence is potentially enormous.
Asheville Middle School teacher Chris Gable has spent the last decade becoming a fixture in this mountain town. Not only has he taught social studies and language arts to hundreds of its students, he also coaches young writers and budding poets, giving them the confidence they need to keep putting pen to paper. Gable is not just a good teacher, he’s a great one—he outperformed all of his peers in his school this year as the only teacher to have exceeded expected growth in all categories. Well-respected in Asheville for bringing this town’s children along on a path toward success, a parent even attested to his skill in making language arts interesting for students in a letter published here in the News & Observer. Yet Gable, whose low salary qualifies his family for Medicaid and food assistance, finds himself on a path toward financial ruin, in spite of his education and hard work.
Six churches from across North Carolina have added their names to an NAACP lawsuit challenging new state elections law. In an amended complaint filed in federal court this week, the historically African-American churches in Merry Hill, Brevard, Durham, Hickory and Chapel Hill complained that cuts to the number of days for early voting and the ban on same-day registration and voting would have a negative impact on them. The churches contended they would have to divert money for food banks, computer classes and other social-service programs to help get members who need assistance to the polls and proper locations for IDs and supporting documentation.
The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP has added more plaintiffs to its federal lawsuit challenging a sweeping new elections law crafted by Republican lawmakers. The lawsuit filed by the civil rights group in U.S. District Court seeks to overturn the new law approved earlier this year, which includes provisions requiring voters to present government-issued photo ID, cutting early voting by a week and increases access for partisan poll watchers. The NAACP lawsuit was filed on behalf of Rosanell Eaton, a 92-year-old African-American voter who lacks a birth certificate required to get an ID. She is now joined by six churches and six individuals likely to be negatively affected by the new law.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
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