Legislative Democratic Women’s Caucus demands change following allegations of sexual harassment

The Joint Legislative Democratic Women’s Caucus outlined a three-point plan Wednesday to address harassment, misconduct and discrimination in the North Carolina General Assembly. Members want legislative leaders to institute:

  • Immediate mandatory ethics training for General Assembly members and staff focused on sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct, gender bias and other forms of discrimination;
  • Adoption of an “effective zero-tolerance policy” for sexual harassment, misconduct and discrimination;
  • Formation of a system to report incidents of improper or unethical conduct to an independent, neutral third party.

Signed by co-chairs Senator Erica Smith and Rep. Carla Cunningham, the statement went on to read: “Request for sex/sexual favors as conditions of employment, gender biased appointments and assignments, inappropriate gestures, physical contact or innuendos, discriminatory comments, jokes and the use of racial epithets are serious breaches of professional ethics and workplace standards.”

These acts should never be tolerated and always confronted. Click To Tweet

The strongly-worded action comes on the heels of allegations of misconduct by Rep. Duane Hall. The three-term Wake County Democrat has denied any wrongdoing.

Read the full text of the caucus’ statement below:


Immigrant youth demand a clean DREAM Act, stage “die-in” outside Tillis’ Senate office

Dozens of immigrant youth and activists gathered outside of U.S.Senator Thom Tillis’ office Tuesday in solidarity with DACA/TPS recipients and undocumented residents demanding a Clean DREAM Act.

Members of El Pueblo’s Youth Council staged a “die-in” outside of the Senator’s office during their event to represent refugee children who have been sent back to their countries of origin and have subsequently been killed through crimes or gang violence.

“Last week’s Supreme Court decision was a positive step,” explained Jorge “Tito” Ramos. “[But] it is not the permanent solution that we are seeking. I refuse to be used as a bargaining chip at the expense of my friends and family members. What we want is a Clean DREAM Act.”

Congress has failed to find a workable alternative to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program since President Trump announced his decision to rescind the Obama-era initiative last September.

Commentary, News

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Top Democrats call on Rep. Duane Hall to resign amid sexual misconduct allegations

The first time Rep. Duane Hall made Jessie White feel uncomfortable was in early 2016.

That’s when she says Hall, a nascent star in the North Carolina Democratic Party and a state representative, ran into her at the Anchor Bar in Raleigh.

Hall, 51, was looking for a new legislative aide for his office. White, a top campaign official with multiple Democratic candidates for the state legislature, said she spoke with the lawmaker about the vacancy.

“That’s when he said he wouldn’t hire me unless I gained 100 pounds,” she said. “Because I was too pretty.”

A charismatic politician with a lengthy list of connections among top North Carolina Democrats, Hall has risen since his 2013 election to wield significant influence as a member of the minority party in the Republican-dominated General Assembly.

But, behind the scenes, Hall has a reputation for more than his political prowess. Including White, five sources—some of whom requested not to be named for fear of repercussions in their current jobs—detailed persistent sexual innuendo from the three-term legislator and, in some cases, repeated, unwanted sexual overtures. Policy Watch knows the identity of the alleged victims, but has not published their names without their consent. [Read more…]

***Read more:

2. Hundreds pack hearing to keep North Carolina off-limits to offshore drilling

Of the hundreds of people who crammed into a public hearing Tuesday on offshore drilling, only a few veered into a small, quiet suite, where they would be served a buffet dinner and waited on by their personal bartender. The American Petroleum Institute, under the guise “Keep Exploring North Carolina,” held a low-key reception for about 20 drilling supporters, most of them decked out in suits or cocktail attire.

The shindig was hosted by API and Thom Goolsby, a former lawmaker from New Hanover County and a long time advocate for — and beneficiary of — the energy industry. However, Goolsby had no interest in speaking publicly about the cause that he champions.

He escorted Policy Watch from the room, saying, “This is a private event.”

Asked if he’d like to talk about offshore drilling, Goolsby replied, “Not really.” [Read more…]

3. North Carolina’s bail industry draws severe criticism from criminal justice experts

Brennan Aberle sees a lot of tough stuff over the course of his workday.

Working on behalf of indigent clients for the Guilford County Public Defender’s office, the 31-year old attorney averages around 200 clients at any given time, most facing mid-level felonies. Working with people facing jail time and too poor to pay for their own defense, there are a lot of casual tragedies to be observed.

“One of the most heartbreaking things I deal with, though, is when I have to go to a client and say, ‘I think you have a case, but realistically it could take months before the case is heard,’” Aberle said in an interview this week. “Because I know a lot of them will plead guilty just because they can’t afford to stay in jail that long – and they can’t afford bail.” [Read more…] Read more


Calls mount on social media for Rep. Duane Hall to resign following allegations of sexual harassment

State Rep. Duane Hall is under increasing pressure from members of his own party to step down in the aftermath of an NC Policy Watch story  that detailed five sources who described “persistent sexual innuendo from the three-term legislator and, in some cases, repeated, unwanted sexual overtures.”

Hall has denied the allegations.

Here’s what some of his colleagues and other political observers are saying in response on Twitter and Facebook:

Read more


As Congress grapples with how to reduce gun violence, a major gun retailer moves beyond “thoughts and prayers”

The Chairman and CEO of DICK’S Sporting Goods announced Wednesday the company has decided to no longer sell assault style rifles or firearms to anyone under 21 years of age. High capacity magazines will also no longer be sold by the national chain.

The company recently learned that it had legally sold a gun last November to 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, though it was not the gun or the type of weapon used in the Parkland, Florida school shooting.

In a series of tweets the company announced its decision to pull all AR-15s and other semiautomatic rifles from its store shelves and websites.

‘We deeply believe that this country’s most precious gift is our children. They are our future. We must keep them safe.’

The sporting goods chain is also imploring elected officials to:

• Ban assault-style firearms
• Raise the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21
• Ban high capacity magazines and bump stocks
• Require universal background checks that include relevant mental health information and previous interactions with the law
• Ensure a complete universal database of those banned from buying firearms
• Close the private sale and gun show loophole that waives the necessity of background checks

DICK’S Sporting Goods operates more than 715 stores nationwide. You can read their full statement here.