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Governor McCrory released his latest list of appointees to various state colleges and university boards yesterday. As is almost always the case, the list appeared to include a number of friends and supporters and otherwise connected Republicans. One nominee did, however, stand out. This is from the Governor’s news release:

University of North Carolina School of the Arts Board of Trustees
Anna Folwell (New York, N.Y.) – Folwell is an Executive Project Manager for the Home Team Sports Division at Fox Sports. She previously worked for the company as a Marketing Coordinator. Additionally, through her own company, she has worked in event planning, marketing, production, and community outreach initiatives. She has her Bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill in Media and Journalism and a second degree in Communication Studies. In her free time, she volunteers at various organizations and is a founder of the UNC in NYC Media Mentors group.

Dale Folwell

Dale Folwell

Anna Folwell - Image: LinkedIn.com

Anna Folwell – Image: LinkedIn.com

Ms. Folwell is the daughter of Dale Folwell, a former state representative, assistant Commerce Department secretary and frequent candidate for statewide office (he ran for Treasurer in 2008, Lt. Governor in 2012 and is running again for Treasurer this year). And while, the phenomenon of a connected politician’s relative securing a state government appointment would not ordinarily raise many eyebrows, a couple of items about Ms. Folwell’s appointment to what is a fairly distinguished Board of Trustees do stand out.

First of all, Ms. Folwell is, by all  indications, just starting her professional, career. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2012 and R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem in 2008. Since graduating from UNC, she appears to have worked at a handful of jobs in the media production business — first in Los Angeles and, since August 2014, in New York City for Fox Sports. All of this is, of course, great for a mid-20’s young professional trying to make her way in the working world, but it does raise real questions about whether she is truly qualified to help lead a great institution of higher learning.

This is how the School of the Arts Board is described on the school’s website:

“The University of North Carolina School of the Arts Board of Trustees is composed of 20 distinguished citizens, with eight members elected by the UNC Board of Governors and four appointed by the Governor. The membership also includes a representative of the North Carolina Symphony, the Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources, the President of the UNCSA Student Government Association, an Alumni Representative, two emeritus members, and liaisons from UNCSA’s Foundation Board and Board of Visitors.”

A look at the current list of members would seem to verify this description and its reference to “distinguished citizens.” Ms. Folwell is clearly off to a promising start in her professional life, but calling her a “distinguished citizen” would appear to stretch the definition quite a bit.

There also appears to be a question that arises with respect to Folwell’s residence. Read More

Commentary

McCrory_budget305-aGovernor Pat McCrory expressed a tough stance regarding immigration enforcement during a recent segment of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor (see Rob Schofield’s post below). Unfortunately, the Governor’s lack of understanding about how immigration enforcement actually works further muddies the waters for law enforcement in North Carolina, is confusing in light of his previous statements and sends precisely the wrong message at this important time in history.

To be clear, McCrory was talking to O’Reilly about the infamous HB 318, which prohibits local governments from adopting policies that bar or discourage their police agencies from gathering information about a person’s immigration status. Gov. McCrory stated there were five such jurisdictions in the state without mentioning, or possibly even knowing, that the policies in those cities were already rendered largely obsolete by the activation of the federal government’s “Secure Communities” program throughout the state, which required the sharing of fingerprints between the local law enforcement agency and immigration enforcement. The so-called sanctuary policies that existed before passage of HB 318 did little to protect those arrested (due to operation of Secure Communities), but they did a lot to foster trust with victims and witnesses of crime.

McCrory also claimed that the law will “unleash the handcuffs” from police officers who want to enforce the law. This is wrong. McCrory’s own interpretation of the new law released just last month stated that it “does not require law enforcement to collect” information about immigration status. What’s more, as Chief Lopez of the Durham Police Department has explained with respect to his own city, this law could actually hurt policing. McCrory’s mixed signals about the law’s execution seem likely to abet this process by helping to erode the trust needed between immigrant communities and the police.

In taking a strong stance against immigration, McCrory also sought to highlight the need for “teamwork” in public safety. But in any team, people play different positions. Just ask Carolina Panthers defensive star Luke Kuechly if he could or should try to take Cam Newton’s place at quarterback. It would make no more sense than it would for the SBI to start issuing parking citations.

The federal government’s message has always been consistent: immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility and such enforcement takes into consideration government resources, national security, and international relations. McCrory voiced a grudging understanding of the limited role of the state when it comes to the Syrian refugee crisis, yet he seems to ignore this obvious dichotomy when it comes to already immigrants living in our state.

Ultimately, McCrory’s various statements regarding North Carolina’s new law leave us with at least three negative takeaways:

First, by sending mixed signals, he make it difficult for people to decipher what the law does.

Second, he clearly signed a law that hurts law enforcement rather than helping it.

Third and most troubling, his rhetoric abandons who we are as a nation, straying from our moral duty to help those escaping persecution and poverty. Immigrants, regardless of status, contribute to the fabric of our communities and the state. History will judge the strength and character of our nation by how we treat those in need, and in time, McCrory’s abandonment of our core values will be deemed an epic fail.

[Editor’s note: Raul Pinto is a staff attorney in the Immigrant and Refugee Rights project at the North Carolina Justice Center.]

Commentary
Image: Franklin Graham's Facebook page

Image: Franklin Graham’s Facebook page

A certain presidential candidate has been generating a lot of heat of late with his incendiary comments about Muslims. Sadly, however, there is an important public figure in North Carolina who loudly and proudly beat him to the punch — the Rev. Franklin Graham. Indeed, as several news outlets reported yesterday, Graham is even bragging about the fact that he had the idea of discriminating against members of what he has called a “very evil and wicked religion” first.

Amazingly, however, Graham’s outrageous hate offensive has not stopped important North Carolina politicians from cozying up to him. Take, for instance, Gov. Pat McCrory.

Just this Tuesday — the same day that Graham posted another hateful diatribe against Muslims on his Facebook page — McCrory appeared with him at an event sponsored by Graham’s controversial ministry Samaritan’s Purse (i.e. the one that pays him huge CEO bucks) in Charlotte. Graham even has a picture of the two men together (see above) in a post celebrating the event on his Facebook page right above the one spewing invective against Islam.

This is simply an unacceptable situation. Can you imagine if the Governor of North Carolina was palling around with someone who said things about Christianity or Judaism that Graham says about Islam? There would be a firestorm of outrage and national media attention. In this case, however, the Guv just meanders along, happily celebrating a man who is an embarrassment to the state and nation. All caring and thinking North Carolinians should be outraged and demand that their governor cease contacts with this troubled and destructive person immediately.

Commentary

Malapropisms, misstatements and mangled verbiage are almost unavoidable in the fast moving world of policy and politics. When you have to think and talk on your feet on a wide array of subjects with a lot of people listening, it’s human nature to make mistakes.

Americans understand this. They elected George W. Bush twice despite his penchant for making foot-in-mouth statements like: “Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?”

That said, you’d think that some public statements would receive a slightly higher level of scrutiny — especially if they are in writing. You can rest assured, for example, that President Obama has people on his staff who double and triple-check White House statements to make sure no egregious typos slip through.

Would that the Governor and Lt. Governor of North Carolina employed similar help. McCrory’s official statements and releases are frequently peppered with flubs. Just last month, the Guv issued an official press release criticizing “President Barrack Obama.”

Of course, in fairness, when it comes to press releases, it’s widely understood that the official him or herself is unlikely to be doing the proofreading. So one can probably give McCrory a pass — especially since it is entirely plausible that the Guv and a lot of other people don’t know how to spell the President’s first name either.

As for Dan Forest, however, it does seem rather damning that the Lt. Governor — a man who sits on the state Board of Education and brags of having home schooled his children — doesn’t know the difference between “lead” and “led.”

Earlier this week, Forest unveiled a website for his new “super PAC” which he has dubbed “Truth & Prosperity.” Here is the first sentence of the three paragraph, 106 word opening statement (see below) that one has to believe the Lt. Governor read and approved:

“It’s time North Carolina lead.”

Here’s a tip going forward Mr. Lt. Governor: If you want to be a successful public official, a) learn the difference between “lead” and “led” or b) get a better proofreader.

Dan Forest

Commentary

The best answer to the question in the headline above, of course, is “Let’s fervently hope not.” Unfortunately, recent events indicate that there’s reason for concern. As Professor Julie Weise of the University of Oregon made clear in an excellent column in Raleigh’s News & Observer last week critiquing Governor McCrory’s transformation since his days as Mayor of Charlotte, political opportunism is a pernicious drug for people in public office.

“Though the governor claims he has always supported legal immigration but not illegal, Charlotte’s economy thrived and his career benefited from policies that welcomed immigrant labor whatever its status. Under McCrory’s watch, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office instituted a policy to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for any reason, but the Charlotte Police Department declined to do so, preferring to retain the trust of the immigrant community – in other words, the very type of ‘sanctuary city’ policy McCrory has just outlawed. The welcome mat was out, the immigrants came with or without papers, and the city flourished economically.

Paradoxically, it was this very economic ‘revitalization’ of Charlotte, bolstered by Latinos, that allowed McCrory to nurture statewide ambition. Setting his sights on North Carolina’s Executive Mansion, McCrory turned his back on Latinos around 2005. That year, he appointed an Immigration Study Commission to provide political cover for his growing ambivalence on the issue, and by 2006 he was openly speaking out against Latino immigration.

Fortunately, there continue to be lots of opportunities for people who want to promote sane and humane policies toward immigrants to learn, educate and speak out. There will be another such event next Wednesday here in Raleigh at the final N.C. Policy Watch Crucial Conversation of the year. Here are the details:

Immigrants in North Carolina: Where do things stand? Where do we go from here?

Featuring Patrick McHugh of the N.C. Budget & Tax Center and Raul Pinto of the N.C. Justice Center’s Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project

Click here to register

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