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Mental health workersMembers of UE local 150, the NC Public Service Workers Union, will be holding a demonstration this morning at 10:00 am at NC DHHS headquarters on the old Dorothea Dix Hospital campus at 101 Blair Drive, Raleigh. Workers are demanding that Sec. Aldona Wos meet with the union, extend Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and also grant workers “Safety, Rights and Raises”, which has become the slogan of their current campaign. Senator Don Davis along with Rev. Curtis Gatewood from the N.C. NAACP and Moral Monday movement plan to speak at the rally. UE 150 is inviting the public and all supporters to attend.

Organizer Dante Strobino explains the genesis of the event and some of the indignities visited upon state mental health workers in the following essay.

State mental health workers launch campaign for Safety, Rights and Raises
By Dante Strobino

Jessica Brandon, a mother of three whose 40-year-old husband has had four heart attacks, is the sole wage earner in her family. For the past 5 ½ years she has worked as a healthcare technician at Central Regional Hospital in Butner, North Carolina, one of three state psychiatric hospitals. After paying essential bills for the family, Brandon said, she typically has less than $40 left for the month. Read More

Dix campusNow that the legislature’s “crossover” deadline has passed, committees are beginning to schedule bills that have already passed one house. A case in point: the hyper-controversial bill to reverse the Dix Park land deal between the state and the city of Raleigh.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary committee 15 minutes after the House adjourns this Wednesday. Looks like the House isn’t expecting that vague bit of public notice to keep interested people away. The notice says that “This meeting may last up to 2 hours.”

One of the most frustrating parts of the General Assembly’s ongoing move to renege on the Dix Park deal has been the out-of-the-blue concern that has materialized from conservatives for persons with mental illness. After working for years to underfund and privatize essential services (often, admittedly, in tandem with shortsighted Democrats), all of a sudden, these folks are desperate to sell off Dix for condos to get money to fund services for persons in need.

Conservative State Rep. Jim Fulghum of Raleigh wrote a letter to Raleigh’s News & Observer over the weekend, however, protesting that he was no Johnny-come-lately to the cause of helping people with mental illness and that he both supported the Dix park and somehow restructuring the lease to help persons with mental illness. Let’s hope he’s sincere.

The problem, of course, is that even sincerity of this kind isn’t gonna’ solve the state’s mental health challenge. As veteran lobbyist Paula Wolf noted in a “letter” to Fulghum on her “Paulatics” blog yesterday, Read More

Dan BlueThere were many compelling arguments voiced this afternoon by opponents of the Senate bill to renege on the Dix Park contract. One expecially powerful moment, however, occurred at around the 40 minute mark of this video (you can fast-forward to it) in which Senator Dan Blue ticks off a list of just some of the local governments around North Carolina that are currently leasing large tracts of state land for $1 (i.e. $499,999 less than the City of Raleigh would pay annually for the Dix campus).

The include: Alamance County, Avery County, Carteret County, Guilford County, Hyde County, Morehead City and Yadkin County.

Watch Blue’s entire speech by clicking here – it commences at around the 23:30 mark.