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Patrick CannonBy all (or at least, most) indications. Charlotte’s disgraced former mayor Patrick Cannon is a rather pathetic, small-time crook. Though it’s hard to know exactly how someone with such a massive character flaw will behave in every circumstance, it seems a safe bet that he would be “on the make” in just about any circumstance — whatever the laws and rules governing the people who run for public office.

That said, Cannon’s swift and pathetic fall should serve as yet another powerful reminder of the corrosive and corrupting influence of money in politics — especially for those people who are not independently wealthy (or, at least, whose wealth does not match their perceived status). The hard truth of the matter is that it is very difficult to be an effective elected official in 2014 without: a) lots of your own money or, b) lots of someone else’s money. Part of this is just a matter of the way money can insulate people from temptation, but another big part revolves around how money can assure that a person will have a good chance at getting re-elected (and thus be taken more seriously while in office).

And , of course, the reason for the latter truth is the simple fact that Read More

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, in an interview aired yesterday on a Charlotte radio station, downplayed cuts to unemployment benefits caused by made this year to the state’ s unemployment insurance system.

“We didn’t take away unemployment benefits,” McCrory said on WFAE’s “Charlotte Talks” program in response to a question about cuts to the unemployment insurance system. “We didn’t extend them. We were following the existing policy.”

Audio clip from WFAE in Charlotte

The state, through legislation signed into law in February by McCrory, did cut both the length of time a person can collect unemployment (reduced from six months to a sliding scale of 12 to 20 weeks) and also cut the maximum weekly benefit from $535 to $350 a week.  The cuts were part of an extensive plan to repay more than $2.6 billion the state unemployment insurance system borrowed during the height of the recession.

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What a difference a year makes. Three-hundred and sixty days ago, the Charlotte Observer endorsed former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory for Governor. Today, calling it a “political stunt,” the paper rightfully blasted McCrory’s latest disingenuous move related to the federal shutdown and its impact on poor people:

“The photo op came off just so, and the headlines around the state were precisely what Gov. Pat McCrory intended: “McCrory announces aid for food banks struggling with shutdown.”

That was only part of the story, though, and not the largest part. In fact, food banks across North Carolina – and the hungry people they serve – have been struggling more because of the state’s actions and inaction than because of the partial government shutdown.

McCrory held a press conference Monday at Charlotte’s Second Harvest Food Bank. He announced that he was speeding up $750,000 that the food banks had coming to them, and he said the state Department of Justice would provide an additional $2 million on top of the $3 million the food banks were already supposed to receive.

‘Federal services are not political chess pieces,’ McCrory said in a prepared statement. ‘Real people are being impacted in very real ways. The political brinkmanship must end.’

He said this at the very moment he was moving political chess pieces and having a real impact on real people with his political brinkmanship….”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

Julius ChambersThe tributes to civil rights hero Julius Chambers (whose funeral will take place tomorrow in Charlotte) have been pouring in from many places. Click here to read Monday’s Charlotte Observer editorial.

Another one worth your time is this one by veteran Raleigh journalist and commentator Barlow Herget:

Julius Chambers passing by

There’s a scene in the classic movie, “To Kill a Mockingbird” where the black Reverend Sykes is sitting in the segregated balcony of the courthouse at the end of the trial.

When Atticus Finch is leaving the courtroom, Mr. Sykes rises as do all the blacks.  He tells Finch’s tomboy daughter Scout who is sitting with the minister to stand.  She asks, “Why?”

“Because your father’s passing by,” replies Reverend Sykes.

All North Carolina should rise at the “passing” of Julius Chambers. Read More