scharrison's blog

If you want electoral gains, study the demographics

Because you better believe Republicans are looking at this:

North Carolina’s two largest metropolitan statistical areas – Charlotte-Concord and the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) – have driven much of North Carolina’s total growth since 2010, accounting for 72% of the state’s 611,000 person growth. For every one-year period since the last census (e.g. 2010-2011, 2012-2013, etc.), the cities of Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, and Cary have reported the largest numeric gains in population, typically in that order. Greensboro and Winston-Salem of the Triad, and the port communities around Wilmington, have also made significant gains since 2010.

Granted, this is no "stunning revelation," it aligns with previous growth numbers and forecasts. But much of the discussion (I've read/heard) on tactics to strengthen the Democratic Party has focused around energizing rural Democratic operations into a viable alternative in deep-red territory. And that should be done. But the infusion of large numbers of "new" people (not native North Carolinians) into metropolitan zones, provides not only a lot of potential voters, but also a lot of potential grass roots volunteers. But before we do what I heard somebody suggest recently, "Send them out to the rural areas to spread the messages," the real work that needs to be done is a lot closer to home:

Anti-abortion group funded by NC General Assembly uses deception to trick women into its web of lies

Subsidizing fraud with taxpayer dollars:

The groups call themselves “pregnancy resource centers.” They used to be called “crisis pregnancy centers,” and have long been the bane of abortion-rights advocates, who say they mislead pregnant women into thinking they are abortion clinics, and then try to coerce them out of the procedure. The groups dispute that and say they are simply helping women at a difficult time.

“Time and time again Crisis Pregnancy Centers have been revealed to provide false information about both abortion and birth control,” said Tara Romano, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-choice NC. “It’s outrageous that our legislature would increase these centers’ funding without also creating a mechanism to hold them accountable.” But the anti-abortion groups dispute that characterization. They say they are up-front with the women who contact them, and are just making sure they fully understand their options.

Within this huge budget bonanza for anti-abortion propaganda mills is $300,000 to set up an operation (In the Capitol, no less) of a Texas-based group called the Human Coalition, whose main goal is to fool women into believing they're contacting an abortion provider. In order to understand their true motives, we need to hold our nose and take a dive into the land of fanaticism:

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As samples are collected for testing, chemical company decides to clean up GENX prior to discharge

And that timing is more than a little suspect:

Beginning tomorrow, the Chemours company will “capture, remove, and safely dispose of wastewater” that contains the byproduct GenX generated at its manufacturing plant in Fayetteville. The company announced late this afternoon that it would eliminate discharge containing GenX into the Cape Fear River, a drinking water supply. GenX has been detected in the Cape Fear near Wilmington; the chemical isn’t removed during traditional treatment at municipal plants.

The timing of the announcement is notable. The NC Department of Environmental Quality started sampling water in the Cape Fear and at the Chemours plant yesterday. The agency and will continue those tests through Thursday, and then resample at the same locations over the next three weeks. Also tomorrow the Cape Fear River Watch is hosting a community forum about GenX and the company.

Had a conversation recently with someone holding an MBA, in which I had to explain the difference between a chemical compound and a base element. Dude was waffling between Libertarianism and Bernie-ish "all politicians are owned by the corporations," and he said something about how we've known what these chemicals can do for close to 100 years, so when he reads about the EPA "still testing" something it's evidence of a payoff. Or something. There are literally thousands of new chemical compounds created every year, mostly by industry, and the bulk of their research is proprietary. Meaning, even if they did discover dangers to the environment or people associated with their new chemical, we probably won't know until that danger is detected by someone outside the company. Here's some background on GENX's predecessor, and the Du Pont spinoff Chemours:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

It's what you don't do that defines your budget:

Taking something that was already critically underfunded and slashing it more:

When is a clinic not a clinic? When it's an anti-abortion propaganda mill

Republicans should be ashamed of themselves:

Here in North Carolina, the news been similarly discouraging as lawmakers have mostly abandoned the idea of taking affirmative public action to promote women’s health. Remarkably, this is true despite the presence of data showing a number of poor health outcomes for the women of North Carolina as compared to other states. Unfortunately, one “women’s health” initiative the North Carolina General Assembly has managed to find money for is the anti-abortion ministry of so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).

In 2015, despite making cuts to social safety net programs that many North Carolina women and children depend on, lawmakers managed to increase this funding to $300,000. And in this year’s budget, it appears they are appropriating $1.3 million in state general funds for CPCs, in addition to $400,000 in federal maternal health grant money.

Aside from being a coldly calculating attempt to undermine women's rights, it is also a patently irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars. These "centers" offer very little in the form of maternal health, and zero assistance in helping make child birth affordable, not to mention the costs of raising those children:

ZSR's Mo Green takes the pulse of North Carolina communities

And finds there is a lot of work to be done:

As the new executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation – an 80-year-old family foundation committed to improving the quality of life in North Carolina – Green set out in May 2016 on a statewide tour dubbed “Mo wants to know.” Seeking to learn where the state is hurting, where it’s doing well and what it needs to ease its pains and enhance its strengths, he spoke with hundreds of people, from one-on-one sessions with community leaders to community forums to private talks with people who poured out their stories of loss and hope. In all, he visited 19 counties from the coast to the mountains.

“We were trying to figure out what was going on in the state and how we could be responsive to that,” he said.

I'm pleased by this, but not surprised. ZSR has done great work over the years supporting research and organizations that help people, and now (more than ever) that help is needed. But the only way to solve some of these problems is in the ballot box:

Magistrate ignores 2013 court finding with ban on Reverend Barber

Refusing to acknowledge dictates from judges is becoming a habit with Republicans:

The ban also applies to 31 other protesters arrested that day during a health-care sit-in after they refused to clear the hallways outside legislative leaders’ office. The ban was a condition of the protesters’ release from jail, set by Wake County magistrate Jeffrey L. Godwin as he charged them with second-degree trespassing. General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock said Friday that his agency didn’t ask the magistrate to set those conditions, but he said he plans to make the request for future arrests of protesters.

Geeta Kapur, an attorney for Barber and the NAACP, says the ban is unconstitutional. She points to the provision in the state constitution that says “the people have a right to assemble together ... to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances.” She pointed to a 2013 decision by a judge to throw out a similar ban on arrested protesters. Since then, most arrests at “Moral Monday” protest events have not included a ban on entering the Legislative Building as a condition of release.

The GOP is notorious for resurrecting bad ideas and questionable legal practices every few years or so, just to see if they will stick, and this ban is no different. And if another judge throws it out, they'll do it again next year or the year after. Precedent? We don't need no stinking precedent, we make this shit up as we go.

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