scharrison's blog

Wayne Goodwin: How NC Democrats can move forward and fight back

Make an ally of the middle class, while it still exists:

First, we must return to our roots as the party of middle-class opportunity. Growing up in rural Richmond County, I saw how far too many North Carolinians had been left behind, even as the state thrived economically. But I also saw how smart investments by the government – especially in our world-class schools and universities – could level the playing field and create economic opportunity and mobility, regardless of a person’s background or circumstances.

If I was writing this, the above would probably be my second step, with the first being: We must set aside our cynicism over politics, and work together as if those negative aspects are the exception to the rule and not the rule. That cynicism serves no purpose other than to divide us along narrow ideological confines, and the end result is always a scattered collection of small groups, actually competing with each other instead of pooling their resources. Just a quick test: If you read Wayne's first paragraph above and found more that you dislike than you like, it's probably because you were looking for things to dislike. Ergo, cynicism. Strengthening the middle-class is not just a political ploy, it's critical in maintaining our democracy, and our consumer-based economy. You want examples of what can happen when the middle-class fails, I can provide dozens, but I don't think that's something that needs a data-driven argument. Enough from me, here's more from Wayne:

GOP education plan: Unfunded mandates and temporary fixes

You can have tax cuts for the wealthy or proper school funding, but not both:

In passing the bill, Senate leaders have publicly promised to provide additional funds for enhancement teachers beginning the 2018-19 school year. Despite the pledge, the Senate worryingly voted down an effort by Sen. Jay Chaudhuri to include that funding pledge in the bill’s language. As a result, North Carolina’s class-size controversy remains unsettled.

Absent from the class-size debate has been an estimate of exactly how much additional funding will be required to meet 2018-19 class-size requirements while preserving enhancement classes for students in grades K-3. To fully-fund class-size requirements and enhancement teachers, the General Assembly will need to increase classroom teacher funding by approximately $293 million in FY 18-19.

Just a comment about messaging and word choice: I like the term "Enhancement" when classifying teachers and their subjects, much more than what I've been hearing a lot over the last few weeks, "Specials." I realize the latter is educator jargon and is not meant to be derogatory or demeaning, actually the opposite. But words don't automatically become what you want them to just because you chose them, they have their own baggage, their own connotations, and your meaning can be misinterpreted and your words used against you very easily. Special can mean enhanced, but it can also mean in addition to, on top of, on occasion, temporary, and other meanings that make it easier for someone to say, "That would be nice, but we can't afford it." I would argue these subjects are just as "Core" as the core classes, but if you're going to delineate between the two, choose the terminology wisely.

NC's "silver spoon" charter school proposal


Because corporate scions deserve preferential treatment:

A nonpartisan, national organization setting benchmarks for charter policy is expressing concerns with a pair of GOP-backed charter reform proposals advancing in the N.C. General Assembly, at least one of which the organization describes as the first of its kind in the nation.

The former allows for up to 30 percent growth in charters not identified as low-performing with no additional state review of finances or operations; the latter clears publicly-funded charters to set aside half of their enrollment for the children of private “charter partners,” defined as corporations donating land, infrastructure, renovations or technology to the schools.

Bolding mine, because what the hell. Even ritzy private schools at least try to maintain an air of objectivity when it comes to accepting children of wealthy patrons, even if it is a wink wink, nudge nudge admissions ritual. This is pretty much a "buy your child a seat," straight-up business proposal. A seat that is paid for by the taxpayers, no less. And NC is breaking new ground with this country club "members only" BS:

NC's coast once again imperiled by offshore drilling


These battles for the environment never seem to end:

President Donald Trump’s move last week to expand offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans rekindles the debate over the viability of oil and gas drilling and seismic testing off the coast of North Carolina.

Trump’s executive order calls for the Department of Interior to return hundreds of miles of federal waters back to eligibility for offshore drilling, areas that were marked off-limits by the Obama administration just last year.

You know, I keep hearing people talking about how Trump's problems with Congress will keep them from doing too much harm, but it's not just Congressional Legislation we need to worry about. In fact, from the fossil fuel industry's point of view, controlling the Executive Branch is probably a hell of a lot cheaper and more effective in getting what they want than courting Senators and Representatives. Hijacking the EPA alone is worth billions to them, and that's not even counting BOEM, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, the FDA, USDA, etc. They can pretty much write their own ticket. And on the offshore drilling front, making a bunch of noise to disorient whales and dolphins and other critters is step #1:

On municipal budgets and property tax phobia

Our town manager presented his budget recommendations for the coming fiscal year last night:

Property taxes would rise to 54 cents per $100 of valuation. That equates to an additional $45 on a property valued at $150,000.

And in the process he stepped on that third rail and was lucky to get out of the room alive. It didn't help that we had just undergone property revaluations in both counties our little border town straddles, which could have allowed our elected officials the chance to knock a penny off the 51 cents we are currently assessing. Some of the things I heard last night (from a few Democrats, no less) were borderline absurd, such as "Whenever I talk to people, they say 'please don't raise my taxes'." Yeah, no shit. If you were expecting maybe to hear an occasional "please raise my taxes," I've got a bridge to sell you. We haven't had a property tax increase in twelve years, and our population has increased about 40% during that time. Yes, that means more revenue, but it also means more costs. More policing, more water and sewer maintenance, more cleaning up yard waste, etc. I thought the town manager (and the Police Chief, when he was asked) explained the needs very well, but that just brought about some angry and short-sighted comments about "things we don't need," with each elected official bringing up their pet peeves. Strangely enough, earlier in the day at the County Commissioners' meeting, a Republican made an argument I wish I had heard last night:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

NC's national notoriety is growing like kudzu:

This is what a "truth bomb" looks like:

Pragmatism with a conscience: An operating guide for the Democratic Party

The 2016 Presidential Election cycle produced many "disruptive" changes across the political spectrum, resulting in a categorically unqualified President and a fractured and bitter Democratic Party. These issues are not in dispute, and trying to minimize the importance of the latter will do nothing to heal those wounds. For a very brief period of time, it seemed like the blame game was over, that Democrats were beginning to come together and move forward in unity. But that may have simply been the eye of the storm. There is still a huge amount of animus directed towards "Establishment" Democrats, and the list of people who fall into that category is growing, instead of shrinking. And the more we scrabble around trying to find a magic issue or policy position that will please a super-majority of the voting population, the more damage we can do, if we're not careful. So I thought it would be constructive to develop a good "rule of thumb" for people to follow while searching for the Holy Grail of electoral success. Stealing from Hippocrates, that rule is "Do No Harm." Follow me below if you're intrigued:

An abortion debate Democrats shouldn't even be having

Yes, it is also an economic issue, but that's almost irrelevant:

It's not just a misstatement from Mr. Perez or a slight from Mr. Sanders. Democrats, in their post-election soul-searching, are trying to learn the lessons from Donald Trump's jolting victory and how they might win back the Presidency. And some--all men so far it should be noted---argue that the party should move away from so-called social issues like abortion and reproductive freedom.

Instead, these men contend, the party's focus should be on economics. The glaring mistake they make, however, is thinking that there is any way to disentangle economic rights from reproductive issues.

Gonna stop you right there, pal. Understand, I don't disagree with this assessment. Reproductive rights are critical in a woman's ability to receive a higher education, relocate geographically in pursuit of opportunities, secure a position and succeed at an occupation in our relatively unforgiving labor market, and accumulate at least a modicum of wealth from that work. But I disagree that we have to convince other Democrats those factors "elevate" the issue to something about which they should be concerned. Having control of their own bodies is both a human and civil right, and that is *all* we need to know to make this one of the Democratic Party's top issues, if not #1 itself. And if giving up advocacy for women's choice is our hot ticket to the White House again, we will be just as undeserving as the current occupant.


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