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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:

Daily dose: Groveling Grover edition

GOP Govs. Buck Party Line on Raising Taxes (New York Times) -- Republican governors across the nation are proposing tax increases — and backing off pledges to cut taxes — as they strike a decidedly un-Republican pose in the face of budget shortfalls and pent-up demands from constituents after years of budget cuts. … Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and a driving force in pressing Republicans to sign no-tax pledges, said he was annoyed by some governors who were calling for tax increases, like Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, whom Mr. Norquist described as “really bad on taxes.” But these Republicans are the exception, he said. “You can’t just look at governors these days,” Mr. Norquist said. “You’ve got to look at the legislatures. The legislature in North Carolina is much more pro-growth and anti-tax than the governor.”

THE WHOLE STORY http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/25/us/politics/republican-governors-buck-party-line-on-raising-taxes....

Daily dose: The clock is ticking for McCrory

McCrory ‘vulnerable’ as Democrats Have More Seats to Defend (Governing) -- The upcoming gubernatorial election cycle won't be any easier for the Democratic Party than 2014. Despite holding far fewer seats overall, the Democrats have more governorships to defend in 2015 and 2016 than the Republicans do. The Democrats hold eight of the 14 seats being contested. … Here's a summary of the state of play in each of the 14 states. Vulnerable North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) Although he has not officially announced that he will seek another term, McCrory is expected to run. The Tar Heel state ranks as the Democrats' only hope over the next two years in winning back a Republican-held governorship. Since taking control of both the governorship and legislature in 2012, Republicans have pursued a staunchly conservative agenda, which has prompted a long-running series of protests at the state Capitol and raised questions about McCrory's ability to win a second term in a presidential year. McCrory is banking on voters to give him and his party a measure of credit for the state's improving economy.

http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-democrats-seats-defend-2015-2016-governors-races.html

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...

NAMI NC says part of Dorothea Dix property should honor namesake

Mental health group NAMI says part of Dorothea Dix property should honor namesake
Posted by Colin Campbell on January 23, 2015 in Under the Dome

The National Alliance on Mental Illness’s North Carolina chapter weighed in Friday on the sale of the 308-acre Dorothea Dix property.

Another wrongfully imprisoned black man released

And another half of a lifetime lost:

Sledge has been proclaiming his innocence of the murders of Josephine and Ailene Davis since he was initially blamed in 1976. From the start, he has asked prosecutors, police and judges to take another look at his case. It took nearly four decades for the justice system to correct its mistake. Sledge spoke briefly during the hearing. “Davis family members, I’m very, very sorry for your loss,” he said. “I hope you get closure in this matter.”

Friday’s exoneration entitles Sledge to compensation from the state, which must now pay him $750,000 for the 36 years he spent in prison.

That's less than $21,000 per year, which is screaming for a follow-up lawsuit. Greg Taylor (white) spent less than half of that time in prison, and ended up with 4.6 million from the state, most of it coming from insurance. We'll be watching.

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.

Daily dose: "It's only rape if you report it" edition

Republican Ellmers is ‘Public enemy No 1’ to conservative activists (Washington Post) -- Rep. Renee Ellmers (N.C.) was perhaps best known outside her district as the Republican who beat American Idol sensation Clay Aiken. Less than three weeks into the 114th Congress, she has a new claim to fame, as Public Enemy No. 1 for conservative activists.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/01/22/conservatives-go-to-war-against-rene...

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