Jane's visit to Goldsboro

Had an unexpected treat earlier this week when I drove over to Goldsboro to meet some family friends who were vacationing in Emerald Isle. Goldsboro was half-way (about one and half hours) for both of us. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting to find much of interest for lunch in Goldsboro, but I was pleasantly surprised.


Downtown Goldsboro is just a mile off the NC 70 Bypass, some beautiful old Victorian homes on the way in. I parked on Center Street in front of a big ice cream cone. A delightful young woman, Yvonnia, the co-owner of The Ice Storm greeted me and served up the best locally-sourced sweet potato fries and fresh squeezed raspberry lemonade (in a biodegradable cup) I’ve ever tasted.

Yvonnia and her partner, who grew up in Goldsboro, have come to Goldsboro to put some local back in the downtown. They have two other Italian Ice stores in Queens and Brooklyn. Yvonnia recommended The Laughing Owl restaurant just one block further down Center Street. She said the Owl also served locally-grown food, good seafood, and the “best hamburger in the world.” Luckily, my friend Bert is not a vegetarian as I am, so he checked out that remarkable claim. When his wife, Joyce, asked for a bite, he gave her only the tiniest bit – “too good to share!”

On our way back to the cars we saw a wonderful display of African beaded necklaces, fans, baskets and hand-dyed clothes in another store, The Village Rising.


Report shows gaping holes in NC's skilled labor pool

But it doesn't come as a surprise to some of us:

State officials at the Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division compiled the survey after hearing similar stories from companies across the state. The problem is across the board — in small towns and large.

When the business was strong, so were training programs for machine technicians. Not anymore. “We’re not having trouble hearing from people who have been in the textile industry,” Durham said. “It’s more the higher-skilled technicians. These are just not turning up. We have people wanting those jobs, but they’re just not experienced.”

What a lot of these young managers don't understand: even back in the textile "boom" years, many of those machines were being fixed either by their operators or jack-leg mechanics, not highly-skilled technicians. In the absence of a union influence, job descriptions and requirements were (are) hazy at best, and the cheapest alternative was usually sought. But while we may not have exactly what an employer is looking for on an application, that doesn't mean the jobs can't be filled. It just means the employers need to do their own apprenticeships and promote from within.

Daily Dose: Labor Day edition

Moral Monday movement looks to show its clout at the polls (MSNBC) -- Despite the Moral Monday movement’s righteous rhetoric and grassroots enthusiasm, as November approaches, it faces its toughest test yet: Can it turn the progressive energy that it has generated into actual votes?

In N.C. and 5 other states, ‘Citizens United’ gives GOP 10-point advantage (Washington Post) -- The Supreme Court ruling on political spending has given Republicans an advantage.


Anti-LGBT bigot attacks Roy Cooper

Self-righteous indignation is so 1950's:

Last month, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that he would no longer defend the state’s marriage equality ban because "there are really no arguments left to be made." This did not sit well with Mark Creech, executive director of the North Carolina Action League. In a Christian Post column yesterday, Creech attacked Cooper for “wimpishly” capitulating to “tyranny” and yielding to the “despotism” of “judicial totalitarians.”

"By refusing to resist with every legal means possible, Cooper capitulates to a form of tyranny in our day. He abandons his post on the field of battle, throws up the white flag, stands in the very place of the state (a state that voted by 61% for the marriage amendment) and wimpishly replies to the 4th Circuit that North Carolina accepts their judgment and surrenders. Furthermore, he calls on the judges who will preside over the cases currently challenging the state's marriage amendment to stand down and yield to the despotism of two judicial totalitarians."

I've been trying to complete this diary for over an hour, but there's so many aggressive advertisements on this Christian Post page it keeps locking up my computer. There's a Sunday School lesson in there somewhere, possibly something about Mammon (I don't know who that was), but now it's almost time for brunch, so...

The militarization of a GOP rally in Georgia

North of Atlanta, Dawsonville is best known for NASCAR legend Bill Elliot. In a nondescript garage set back off of a two-lane blacktop, speed has been created and engineered to compete at the highest levels of motor sports racing. A certain amount of secrecy exists. For the Georgia GOP, "under the hood politics", like in North Carolina, is usually cloaked in a "new world order" scenario. Sorry, no blacks or cameras allowed.

Daily dose: AFP full of baloney edition

AFP highlights a big study by the American Energy Alliance and (surprise) it finds that people LOVE pollution, climate change, and more profits for Duke Energy!

AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: Proposed EPA standards to hurt N.C. (Burlington Times-News column) -- The Environmental Protection Agency is on a cross-country roadshow this summer to sell its newest mandate, which will cut the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent. The agency’s and the Obama Administration’s sales pitch is simple: This will usher in a “cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future.” The slick marketing campaign isn’t working. The more people learn about the mandate, the more they oppose it — especially here in North Carolina. That’s the conclusion of a new survey of registered voters in North Carolina commissioned by the American Energy Alliance. According to the survey, 59 percent of our state supports the regulations when hearing about them for the first time — who doesn’t love Mother Earth? When they hear both the pros and the cons, however, support evaporates. The first thing to know is that the mandate forces North Carolina to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent — 10 points higher than the national average. Although the national target is 30 percent, the Obama administration has assigned different reduction targets to each state. Ours is one of the highest in the country. This will unavoidably hurt North Carolina’s ability to compete for jobs.


GOP crams online charter schools down NC's throat

Mandating a failing system:

The state budget that Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law earlier this month includes a provision requiring the State Board of Education to authorize two online charter schools to serve K-12 students by next fall.

In drafting the budget provision for the virtual charter schools, lawmakers ignored many of the education board's recommendations. For example, lawmakers allowed the online schools to receive both state and local funding for students, while regular charter schools receive only state money. State law also lets the online schools enroll more students and have more students drop out than educators wanted.

Bolding mine. When your pet project (K12 Inc) has so many shortcomings and faults it can't meet even the minimum standards of being authorized, what do you do? You either lower the standards or you force the authorizing body to acquiesce via government fiat. Adding to the ever-growing list of behaviors exhibited by our General Assembly that closely resemble that of Third-World tyrants.

Daily Dose: Time travel edition

For Tar Heel time, set your clock back 100 years (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- For many years, North Carolina was known as the Rip Van Winkle state because it was so backward. Stingy public officials and business tycoons wanted low wages and low taxes so there was little investment in civic needs. Roads and other public facilities were ignored while education of the state’s youth was minimal. The state was governed by the whims of a plutocracy of landed aristocrats, then tobacco barons, monopoly industrialists and eventually bankers and insurance executives. They had little use for an educated workforce or civic infrastructure. Too often they viewed things through a racist or misogynistic prism. The constitution of 1898, established after the political coup in Wilmington, effectively suppressed African-American voting.

What you should read to get ready for the fall elections (Washington Post) -- Labor Day is almost here, which means the 2014 midterms are only slightly more than two months away. Unfortunately, political consultants have not found a way to make summer not precede fall, so it is likely that you and many of your fellow voters haven't paid much attention to politics or polls since the solstice. Fortunately for you, many reporters and election aficionados have. Here are a few of their recommendations; some are on specific races, some tackle the big picture, some are on the midterms, some are on American politics writ large, some are long, some short -- all are quite good. The New Racism: This is how the civil rights movement ends -- The New Republic: I'd recommend Jason Zengerle's recent cover story in The New Republic: "The New Racism: This is how the civil rights movement ends." In it, Jason details how a generation of African American lawmakers in the South feel as though they're watching the political progress they took years to build vanish practically overnight. It's a rich, historical narrative that describes a hugely important shift in American politics. And it's a compelling read.


Do good. Be nice. Have fun.


Lies, damn lies and statistics, NC style

"Percentages by themselves, Holian warns, can be a bit misleading..."

Fact Check: Does Hagan vote with Obama 95 percent of time?
from WRAL.com

WHERE THEY COME FROM: The percentages in question come from rankings published by Congressional Quarterly, a magazine popular among political junkies. The raw data from the rankings are behind a paywall but have been referenced frequently by political journalists.

This isn't a measure of all votes cast in the Senate. Rather, CQ starts keeps track of any bill on which the president has taken a public position. According to CQ, Obama has taken a position on 37 percent of all Senate votes if you count nominations, about 17 percent if you include only legislation.

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