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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.

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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

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Assuming North Carolina doesn’t have a hurricane of its own to contend with, the Democratic Party will gather in Charlotte for four full days next week to renominate President Obama.

In anticipation, Andria Krewson of the Chalotte Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has prepared a list of resources for journalists which you can read by clicking here.

The ACLU of North Carolina has also prepared a “Know your rights at the DNC” video for journalists, demonstrators and others in attendance. Click here for more information.

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This is from yesterday’s Charlotte Observer story on Saturday night’s Human Rights Campaign fundraiser in Charlotte:

“Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx personally welcomed those at the gala – a sign that things have changed since 2005, when then-Mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican, refused to issue a welcoming letter for the gala in Charlotte that year.

During his remarks Saturday, Foxx also spoke out against the proposed constitutional amendment reaffirming North Carolina’s ban – already in state law – of same-sex marriage. Read More