Commentary, News

Reaction to Charlotte protests, police-involved shooting of #KeithLamontScott

***UPDATE: A state of emergency has been declared in Charlotte following a night of violent protests in the wake of this week’s shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Read Gov. McCrory’s Executive Order allowing for the National Guard to respond to civil disturbances here.

“I want to assure the people of North Carolina that our SBI has already been assisting the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department throughout the last 24 hours. Upon a very recent request of Chief Putney, the State Highway Patrol is sending in troopers to further help the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. The state has many additional assets nearby to assist. Any violence directed toward our citizens or police officers or destruction of property should not be tolerated. I support and commend the law enforcement officials for their bravery and courage during this difficult situation.” – Governor Pat McCrory

“I understand all too well the emotions that many Charlotteans and people all across the nation are feeling. However, violence is not the answer. We have to work together to ensure there is a transparent process and the family of Mr. Keith Lamont Scott and our city gets justice and the answers they deserve. My thoughts and prayers are with the Scott family and our entire community.” – Congresswoman Alma Adams

Today, the North Carolina NAACP State Conference stands with those in mourning in the city of Charlotte. We call for the full release of all facts available. We ask that the city of Charlotte be transparent with any video and any additional information held by the city that can bring light in the tragic death of Mr. Keith Lamont Scott at the hands of a Charlotte police officer yesterday.

We support those who exercise the right to peacefully protest, and encourage the first amendment right to call for redress of wrongs. We stand against efforts that undermine the legitimate calls for justice with unjust, random or purposeless acts of violence. – Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, NC NAACP


Watch what happens when Charlotte’s Mayor announces the city will not repeal its anti-discrimination ordinance (video)

At Monday evening’s council meeting it was all applause for Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts when she announced the city would not consider repealing the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

Legislative leaders and Governor Pat McCrory have said that before they would consider a special session to address the economic fallout from House Bill 2, Charlotte would need to revoke its protective ordinance.

But Mayor Roberts has made it clear that HB2 can be repealed without the city removing its non-discrimination protections. Earlier in the day, Roberts told the media:

“We appreciate the state wanting to find a solution to the challenges we are facing and applaud the governor for recognizing the state should overturn HB2, which the state can do at any time without any action from the City of Charlotte.”

Last week, both the NCAA and the ACC announced plans to pull championship games from North Carolina because of the discriminatory nature of HB2. Neither sporting group mentioned the Charlotte ordinance.
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Seven things to have on your radar this week

#1 – Will we see a special session to repeal HB2?  – Having watched the NCAA and the ACC pull championship games out of North Carolina last week in direct opposition to House Bill 2, some legislators are hoping Governor Pat McCrory will call them back to Raleigh in special session to address the costly legislation passed in March. But McCrory has indicated before that could happen the Charlotte City Council would need to repeal their anti-discrimination ordinance that prompted lawmakers to pass HB2.

This morning, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts made it clear the city was not prepared to repeal its ordinance:

The effort to back the city into repealing LGBT protections is strongly opposed by the Human Rights Campaign. The Charlotte Observer Editorial Board has also gone on record saying the City Council should not turn its back on the LGBT community.

So, will Governor McCrory still try to lead the House and Senate to a compromise this week and repeal HB2? Stay tuned.

#2 – Fresh polling data – The Elon University Poll will release the results of its first fall survey of N.C. voters today and Tuesday. Today will focus on the presidential and U.S. Senate races and the other will focus on the N.C. governor’s race and opinions about HB2.jensen-comp

Also on the polling front, look for new numbers this week from Public Policy Polling. Polling Director Tom Jensen will have the latest at Thursday’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation. Thursday’s event begins at noon at Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St.

There are still a few seats left for the polling luncheon. You can register here.

#3 – Fair funding of Charter Schools – There is a growing political debate in North Carolina regarding “fair funding” of  North Carolina charter schools revolving around how local funding is shared between school districts and charter schools.

This week the NC Justice Center’s Education and Law Project will release its newest report examining fair funding for the state’s charter schools. The report – expected to be published Tuesday – includes a look at spending by school district.

#4 – Greensboro City Council takes a stand on racial profiling – Tuesday night the Greensboro City Council will vote on a symbolic resolution designed to  protect civil liberties and provide equal protection under the law to all persons in the city. The resolution is intended to address race-based profiling in city policing. The resolution reads in part:

‘The Greensboro Police Department will continue in its efforts to promote procedural fairness and not engage in arbitrary profiling that will impede an individual’s constitutional rights. The Department opposes enforcement measures designed to have a disparastein-and-newtonte impact on members of the community.’

The council meeting begins at 5:30 pm in the Council Chamber in the Melvin Municipal Office Building, 300 W. Washington St.,Greensboro.

#5 – AG Candidates square off – While most of the attention this election season has been at the top of the ticket, the hotly contested race for North Carolina’s Attorney General will be in the spotlight Tuesday. Democrat Josh Stein and Republican Buck Newton will debate in Asheboro for attorney general.

Tuesday’s event will be at the Sunset Theater (234 Sunset Ave., Asheboro) starting at 7:00 p.m. The debate will be broadcast live on stations on the N.C. News Network. UNC-TV plans to broadcast the AG’s debate Wednesday evening at 9:00 p.m.8-8-16-ncpw-cartoon

#6 – The country’s best political cartoonists come to Durham – Duke University and the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) will jointly host a political satire festival to take place on Duke’s campus from Thursday-Saturday.

Anchored by the annual convention of the AAEC, the three-day festival will feature a variety of programs to celebrate satire in the political realm.The festival will include live cartooning, student workshops, art exhibits and more!

#7 – Fiesta Time! – And we wrap up the week with Sunday’s La Fiesta del Pueblo once more in Downtown Raleigh on Fayetteville Street. This annual favorite showcases the vibrancy of the Triangle Latino Community with food, music, and activities for the whole family.

Commentary, News

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

ff-9131. The NC GOP revealingly digs in as the damage from HB2 continues to mount

The official response by the North Carolina Republican Party to the decision by the NCAA to move seven championship events out of the state next year because of the anti-LGBT law HB2 was startling and offensive.

GOP spokesperson Kami Mueller said the NCAA decision was “so absurd it’s almost comical” and was looking forward to the “NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams.”

Mueller called the decision an “assault to female athletes across the nation” and then said, “I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor.”

It’s not clear what the horrific sexual assault scandal at Baylor has to do with a law that bans protections against discrimination for LGBT people but Mueller’s comments set off a firestorm of criticism for equating the two.

And Mueller’s comments weren’t just offensive. They were revealing too. [Continue reading…]

***Bonus Read: After loss of ACC and NCAA, Governor and House Speaker stand by HB2, Dems seek special session for full repeal

***Bonus Audio interview: Rep. Sgro: McCrory has “closed the door for business in NC” with HB2

edsupport2. An election year switcheroo on public education
After bashing teachers and public schools for years, the Right suddenly and dramatically changes its tune

Last week, one of the most prolific conservative voices on Twitter when it comes to North Carolina policy and politics (he’s authored more than 33,000 “tweets” in recent years that often echo and promote takes of various Art Pope Empire employees) posted a disturbing and remarkably cynical comment. Here’s what he said in response to another social media participant who had questioned the logic of how North Carolina pays teachers and touted a recent essay by the North Carolina Justice Center’s Kris Nordstrom entitled “Why NC is not measuring teacher pay properly (and how we should do it)” :

“So, what’s the market rate for an unaccountable degree-holding babysitter?”

So, one might ask, why is this noteworthy? After all, it’s no particular news that social media websites are chock full of uninformed “trolls” who spew all sorts of hateful and nonsensical venom. Why should anyone care that a conservative blowhard is lobbing stink bombs at public school teachers?  [Continue reading…]

redwolf-913b-john-froschaue3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to scale back endangered red wolf program in NC, send some animals to zoos
At this moment, on millions of acres in northeastern North Carolina, 45 endangered red wolves are living much like their ancestors did hundreds of years ago: Hunting for deer and rabbits, hanging out with their mates, raising their kits.

But by 2018, a third of these wolves — the entire wild species — will be relocated from their native lands in five counties to just one: Dare, near the federal bombing range and in part of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. The rest of the wild wolves, at least those that can be trapped, will be shipped to zoos throughout the United States to live in captivity.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it has failed to adequately protect the red wolf, which was declared endangered in 1967. Without a new recovery plan, the species will become extinct in possibly as few as eight years, and most certainly within the next 40. There are too few red wolves in zoos to sustain the species — about 225 — and even fewer in the wild.

“This is a better path for the red wolf,” said Cindy Dohner, Southeast regional director of FWS. “It’s not sustainable here.” [Continue reading…]

jk-coop-915c4. In one of NC’s bleakest food deserts, hope is on the horizon

A new sign went up this week at the once-abandoned shopping center on Phillips Avenue in East Greensboro.

That’s rare enough in one of the city’s poorest areas and itself cause for celebration.

But what the sign represents is much larger.

“Renaissance Community Co-Op,” it reads in bright red and green. “Healthy, Affordable, Community Owned.”

When it officially opens Nov. 5, it will be the area’s first real grocery store since 1998.

“No one would come, the stores just gave up on us,” said co-op President John Jones Wednesday. “But the community wanted it. They believed and they organized and it’s happening now.”

North Carolina is 9th in the nation in food insecurity according to the United States Department of Agriculture, which collects data on where people have the least access to fresh, healthy food.

Greensboro and High Point are, as a metropolitan area, one of the worst in the nation for food insecurity. [Continue reading…]

pv9195. New school year highlights NC’s ongoing failure to invest in child and community well-being

Every year as students from pre-school through college return to the classroom, North Carolinians have a window through which to see how our collective investments match up to the needs of communities.

Are classrooms crowded? Are children ready for Kindergarten? Do schools have the resources to deliver a 21st century education? Do parents need to provide more and more personal resources to fill the gaps?

In recent years, despite an economic expansion that provided an opportunity to improve the classroom experience, the needs of our children and our communities have been increasingly neglected. As Budget and Tax Center analyst Cedric Johnson highlighted recently, state per student spending in North Carolina this school year remains below pre-recession levels when adjusted for inflation. This is obviously bad news for our children, each of whom should have the supports and tools we know are necessary to foster achievement in the classroom and life. And this reality makes the promise and excitement of a new school year feel a little bit harder to realize.  [Continue reading…]

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling***Upcoming event: Thursday, September 22 -Crucial Conversation — An election preview with Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling

The 2016 election is headed into the homestretch and absentee voting by mail is already underway. Join us as we learn the details of where things stand and what the political world is likely to look like on November 9 with one of America’s premier pollsters, Tom Jensen of Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling.

Register today.

Commentary, News

Rep. Sgro: McCrory has “closed the door for business in NC” with HB2 (w/ Audio)

From the mountains to the coast, North Carolina’s politicians have had plenty to say this week about the loss of ACC and NCAA championship games due to House Bill 2. But perhaps no one has been more outspoken about the need for the repeal of HB2 than Guilford County’s Rep. Chris Sgro.

His hometown will lose an estimated $17 million with just the loss of the opening-round games for the 2017 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which would have been played next March at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Greensboro – known to some as ‘Tournament Town’ – has bids on another 51 sporting events that hang in the balance.

Sgro, who also serves as the executive director of Equality NC, says the governor’s decision not to call a special session and repeal HB2 is a failure of leadership:

“We have a terrible piece of legislation on the books that makes us an unwelcoming state. And while individual North Carolinians and towns and cities across the state are incredibly welcoming and desperately want these events and opportunities, Pat McCrory has closed the door for business in North Carolina, and then turns around an acts surprised at the consequences of his own actions. It’s really maddening.”

Republican Senator Rick Gunn from neighboring Alamance County is also nervous about the economic fallout from the law. Gunn tweeted last night:

“…I think it is time we give serious consideration to modifying, or possibly repealing.”

Rep. Sgro will join Chris Fitzsimon this weekend on NC Policy Watch’s News & Views to discuss the ongoing damage caused by the anti-LGBT legislation. For a preview of that radio interview , click below:

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