teddyrooseveltprogressive's blog

McCrory illegally charging for transparency

The News and Observer is reporting that the McCrory administration is charging for public records, with requests for records generating bills of hundreds of dollars for electronic materials provided free by the previous administration. Story here.

McCrory's staff has interpreted a one-sentence clause in North Carolina's public records law as providing broad authority to assess a "special service charge" on any records request taking more than 30 minutes for an employee to process. Invoices totaling hundreds of dollars have also been assessed for requests for digital copies of emails that have routinely been produced by past administrations without charge.

WBTV in Charlotte shows Issa's ACA "hearings" for what they are

If you're in their viewing area, be sure to send a supportive note to WBTV in Charlotte for their fair coverage of the Issa "hearing" on ACA. The station's reporters not only noted that supporters of the ACA weren't allowed to speak and were told if they did they would be asked to leave, but also interviewed supporters on what they wanted to say at the hearing.

Video and story here.

Art Pope's stink tanks

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) on the State Policy Network is out with a report this week that deserves the attention of anyone interested in progressive and ethical government.

The idea is simple - Art Pope, the Koch Brothers, the Walmart Walton family and others are illegally using "think tanks", like Pope's Civitas and Pope Foundation, as direct lobbying organizations. Officially classified as non-profit educational groups, it's illegal for these groups to engage in lobbying activities.

Think about it for a minute. How many times have "reports" and "studies" by these groups been taken up as gospel by legislators in NC to justify particular laws? How many legislators have been involved in meetings, retreats or presentations for and by these groups?

ALEC pushes law to rid us of 17th Amendment

The American Legislative Exchange Council, the group that coordinates authoring of extremist right-wing state laws around the country and works with the stink tanks and lobbying organizations funded by the Koch Bros and Art Pope, is floating laws that would do away with the 17th Amendment.

In early December, a group of ALEC members are scheduled to consider supporting a range of potential new model legislation, including the "Equal State's Enfranchisement Act," according to a memo posted on the group's website.

The bill would significantly increase the role of the state legislature in the election of U.S. senators, inching back toward the process used prior to the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913. The 17th Amendment established the direct election of U.S. senators. Before this amendment, senators were chosen by state legislators.

We see what you're doing here

Let's say, just for the sake of speculation, that you're a political party intent on passing unconstitutional laws that restrict the rights of voters you want to keep away from the polls. And let's say you're loosing the battle in getting these laws to stick.

What does such a political party do?

Well, one way to get what you want is to "monkey wrench" a Justice Department aggressively fighting those laws.

Huffington Post reports that a group of Republicans in Congress are planning to impeach US Attorney General Eric Holder. Their reason is because of the botched "Fast and Furious" sting that left weapons in the hands of Mexican Drug Cartels.

However, we really see what you're up to here, Republicans.

Exposing charter schools lies in NC and elsewhere

Salon has a feature story on charter schools this morning that's worth a read - NC is highlighted extensively in the piece, which discusses many of the problems with these taxpayer-funded windfalls for private companies and religious institutions more interested in their own agenda than educating our kids.

Writing for NC Policy Watch, Lindsay Wagner recently reported, “For the first time in its history, North Carolina will allow taxpayer funds to go to largely unaccountable private schools, 70 percent of which are religious institutions.”

Koch brothers caught making illegal campaign contributions

Mother Jones is reporting on the complex network of non-profits the Koch bros used to funnel $15 million illegally into California elections. The monies were aimed at two ballot measures - one raising taxes on the wealthiest Californians and the other crippling unions in the state.

As part of the deal, two Arizona-based nonprofits, the Koch-linked Center to Protect Patients Rights and Americans for Responsible Leadership, admitted violating state election law. The settlement mandates that the two nonprofits pay a $1 million fine to California's general fund, and the committees who received the secret donations at the heart of the case must also cut a check to the state for the amount of those donations, which totaled $15.08 million.

And this:

Wayne County middle school uses fake gunman to "teach" lesson

Parents at Eastern Wayne Middle School are justifiably upset - school official sent a "fake" gunman into the school to "teach a lesson". The person - a student - wore a ski mask, carried a fake gun, and pretended to rob some of the students.

School officials said it was supposed to be an "enrichment exercise" to "teach students to be aware of their surroundings" but that they got "carried away".

That anyone working in a public school system would think this is appropriate says a great deal about the mindset in many rural parts of NC that can't seem to make the connection between guns and the consequences of gun violence.

Blog post on news story from the local Fox8 affiliate. (Wayne County, for those of you not familiar with points east in NC includes Kinston).

AG Cooper posts campaign stump speech at HuffPost

Attorney General Roy Cooper, who was previously announced as a keynote speaker at the Equality NC gala, seems to have gone into full campaign mode, posting an op-ed that suspiciously sounds like a stump speech at Huffington Post.

But what may be even more important is the effect those policies have on a state's self- image and what it shows to the rest of the world. North Carolina has had much success for fifty years, not just because we were on the leading edge of change in the American south, but also because we embraced this change as a natural part of our state's heritage and history.

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