UNC Nobel prize

Image: UNC Chapel Hill

As one of the first acts of his governorship back in 2013, Pat McCrory went on a national right-wing radio show to attack “the educational elite” in our university system who supposedly weren’t doing enough to gets student “butts in jobs.” Since that time, his administration has waged a more or less permanent war against academia by repeatedly allowing faculty salaries to slide and just generally under-investing in public colleges and universities.

Whether a sincerely held belief or just a convenient scrap of red meat to toss to the intellectual-hating far right, McCrory’s stance is predicated on the notion (regularly championed by denizens of the Art Pope empire) that universities should be more like training institutes in which faculty devote the overwhelming majority of their time to preparing students for employment. Meanwhile, “luxuries” like the liberal arts and research for the sake of advancing knowledge are just that — extravagances to be left to the vagaries of the “market” and the “demand” provided by well-off students and parents willing to underwrite their cost via private school tuition.

This morning, North Carolinians received yet another powerful reminder of the absurdity of the Governor’s stance on these issues when Prof. Aziz Sancar of the UNC School of Medicine was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. According to the Associated Press:

“The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their [Pro. Sancar’s and his fellow recipients’] work on DNA repair had provided ‘fundamental knowledge’ about how cells function and shed light on the mechanisms behind both cancer and aging.”

You got that? Prof. Sancar helped advance an important piece of “fundamental knowledge” that has the potential to greatly benefit all of humankind. From this vantage point, that sounds like a pretty darned good use of tax dollars.

Let’s hope Sancar’s award spurs the Guv and his allies to think a little harder about their simplistic takes on higher education — especially when it comes to the numerous would-be Aziz Sancars who continue to be driven out of North Carolina by the administration’s shortsighted approach to faculty compensation and duties.


The Protect North Carolina Workers Act is one of the remaining piece of legislation on the governor’s desk, following the nine month session. And before deciding whether the bill should become law, Susan Ladd says Governor McCrory should consider the confusion this bill will create at the county level.

While HB 318 would impact food stamp recipients,the Greensboro News & Record columnist explains this bill would also negatively affect immigrants:


Consular IDs would be banned under HB 318

Case in point: House Bill 318, which among other things, banned consular cards and IDs created by communities or nonprofits, such as the FaithAction IDs, as acceptable forms of identification.

Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen and other registers of deed across the state are scrambling to figure out whether they are bound by the language of this bill and how they will deal with Hispanic residents seeking marriage licenses and birth certificates for their children if Gov. Pat McCrory signs it into law. The vast majority of Hispanics use — you guessed it — consular IDs to apply for both these vital documents.

“It would have a significant impact on Hispanics,” Thigpen said. “Even some Hispanics who are citizens use the consular card. The question is, to what extent are we going to deny an applicant who has an unapproved ID, who otherwise has the right to marry?”

His office conducts an average of 20 marriages each day, and Hispanics using consular cards account for several of those.

“So much time and energy was put into making consular cards a good standard of identification,” Thigpen said. “There’s been a lot of work to make sure those cards are secure and solid. If we can’t use that, what does that mean? Do we then accept your power bill? If we can’t use that, are we relying on a less-secure form of identification?”

There is no explicit guidance in existing statutes about what kind of identification the register of deeds office can accept, but most offices use a common set of guidelines. House Bill 318, however, covers “any government official,” which likely would include employees of the register of deeds.

For Thigpen, it’s another headache from a legislature that is focused more on its next election slogan — “I’m tough on immigration” — than the practical effects this bill might have.

“It was not well thought out, and there was no discussion with our folks,” Thigpen said. “We didn’t know it was coming, and haven’t had time to discuss the implications of it.”

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AftertheStorm_5Governor Pat McCrory has been busy this week touring storm damaged parts of our state from weekend flooding.

When he returns to Raleigh he will find 31 bills on his desk from the recently concluded legislative session requiring his attention.

Many McCrory will no doubt sign. A few others — like HB 318 and HB 765 — he faces mounting pressure to veto.  Of course, the governor could simply wait and allow those bills to become law without his signature.

Here’s the complete list, as compiled by legislative staffers:


Bill Short Title Action Date Action Text
H8 Court of Appeals Election Modifications. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H126 Mortgage Origination Support Registration. H 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/1/2015
H215 Procedure for Waiver of Jury Trial. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H318 Protect North Carolina Workers Act. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H327 EMS Personnel Technical Changes. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H361 = S667 Principle-Based Reserving/Revise Ins. Laws. H 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/24/2015
H558 Reserve & Nat. Guard/Military Affairs Comm. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H647 Epi Pens in All Child-Serving Businesses. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H679 UNC Self-Liquidating Projects. H 09/25/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/25/2015
H698 Baby Carlie Nugent Bill. H 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/24/2015
H709 NCNG Tuition Assistance Benefit Amendment. H 09/22/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/22/2015
H712 Pilot Project/Used Needle Disposal. H 09/22/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/22/2015
H765 Regulatory Reform Act of 2015. H 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/1/2015
H850 Eastern Band of Cherokees/Law Enforcement. H 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/24/2015
H924 Highway Safety/Other Changes. H 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/1/2015
H943 Connect NC Bond Act of 2015. H 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/1/2015
S37 = H19 Waive Tuition/Fallen Officer Was Guardian. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S97 = H522 State Advisory Council on Indian Education. S 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/24/2015
S195 Motor Vehicle Service Agreement Amendments. S 09/29/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/29/2015
S238 = H187 Stalking by GPS/Criminal Offense. S 09/29/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/29/2015
S279 Amend Qualifications/Practice of Counseling. S 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/01/2015
S313 Industrial Hemp. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S370 E-Signatures/Vehicle Title and Registration. S 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/24/2015
S379 Cemeteries Located on State Property. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S472 Local Incentives for Historic Rehabilitation. S 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/24/2015
S519 = H764 Amend Child Custody Laws. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S524 Grad Requirements/Sports Pilot. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S670 Term Limits for BOG Members. S 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/01/2015
S676 Autism Health Insurance Coverage. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S694 Reegan’s Rule/Enforce Pharm. Ben. Mgt. S 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/01/2015
S698 Legacy Medical Care Facility/CON Exempt. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015



Average working people will be raising their voices today to demand their fair share of the nation’s economic pie. As the good people at the AFL-CIO remind us:

Today is the day for the White House Summit on Worker Voice. Starting at 10:30 a.m. ET, you can watch the summit live right here. The summit is designed to bring together working people, labor leaders, advocates, employers, members of Congress, state and local officials and others to explore ways to make sure that working people are sharing in the benefits of economic growth and have access to a voice on the job.

To learn more about the summit, visit the official White House website.

Meanwhile, workers in North Carolina will gather at the state Legislative Building in Raleigh for the first “People’s Wage Board.” Here are the details:

The Fight for $15 and a union will convene a forum at the state legislature on October 7th to take testimony from workers and supporters and to call for the creation of a “People’s Wage Board” to advocate for raising wages in North Carolina.

What: Underpaid workers testify
When: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at noon
Where: NC General Assembly Building – 3rd Floor Auditorium, 16 W Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

From the Facebook event page:

Inspired by fast food workers in New York who for years organized, and took bold action that encouraged Governor Cuomo and his appointed Wage Board to recommend $15 an hour by 2020, underpaid workers in North Carolina are coming together to call on elected officials to give us a much needed raise to what we deserve: $15 an hour!

Home healthcare workers, fast food workers, child care workers, community members, and NC State Representative Yvonne Holley are putting together ‘A People’s Wage Board’ to record testimony from underpaid workers at the North Carolina Legislature.

The fastest growing jobs are also the lowest paid. With industries like fast food making $200 billion a year, we know the companies we work for can afford to pay us a living wage of $15 an hour so that we have enough to care for our families.

Stand with us as we call on elected officials to do the right thing, give struggling workers a raise so that we can lift up North Carolina!


Notwithstanding the efforts of North Carolina’s current political leadership to outdo their neighbors to the south on virtually every hot button issue on the right wing agenda, the fact remains that South Carolina is and always has been a more conservative state than North Carolina.

That’s what makes the latest news from a Winthrop University poll all the more startling and encouraging. As the Charlotte Observer reports:

“Immigration is weighing on the minds of South Carolinians as the 2016 presidential primaries approach in February.

Consider: Donald Trump, who has adopted a hard line on dealing with the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, leads GOP presidential polls in South Carolina, the state that holds the South’s first presidential primary.

‘You’re not going to be in a town hall for Trump and say you favor a path to citizenship,’ Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon said. ‘You’ll be pelted with red trucker hats.’

But the majority of South Carolinians, including Republicans, don’t share the New York business mogul’s deport-them-now views.

Most in the Palmetto State favor giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, under specific requirements, rather than deporting them or allowing them to stay only for a limited time, according to a Winthrop Poll question asked exclusively for The State newspaper.”

The poll found a solid majority (58%) of South Carolinians to be pro-citizenship. Now, this number is not as high as the national figure (65% according to a Gallup poll) but it does serve to reenforce two important points:

  1. When even 58% of South Carolinains are for doing the right and humane thing, you know that even more North Carolinains are for it, and
  2. Governor McCrory might do well to think twice before playing the anti-immigrant card that he loves to flash — especially when it comes to the bill sitting on his desk to make it harder for immigrants to use alternative identification cards. Though he may win plaudits from the far right, Tea Party crowd, the majority of North Carolinians are almost certainly of a different mind.