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Moral MondaysWith the General Assembly observing Memorial Day next week, the Forward Together – Moral Mondays protesters will return to Raleigh along with state lawmakers on Tuesday morning the 27th.

The event will feature, among other things, a briefing on the numerous regressive actions of the 2013 legislature, direct citizen lobbying by an array of issue-specific teams and a “Poor Man’s Lunch” during which citizen lobbyists will “stand and break bread in solidarity with the working poor.”

Note that this week’s event will be based on Halifax Mall (behind the Legislative Building). It should be another powerful event.

WheatiesHope you ate your Wheaties this morning! This is going to be a busy Monday – so try to keep up!

First, today is the final day for open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act.  Chris Fitzsimon’s Monday numbers column has a fascinating look at the ACA as we get down to the wire.

Of course, there will always be some folks who think the ACA should be repealed. Among them, Senator Richard Burr who is speaking at a Raleigh luncheon at this hour detailing his replacement ideas in the  Burr-Coburn-Hatch Health Reform Plan.

But here’s one number to keep in mind at the health care debate rages on: 9.5 million. That’s the number of Americans previously uninsured who now have gotten health coverage under Obamacare, according to a new analysis.WSJ-3

Let’s stick with one more number before we scoot on to what else is happening today. And that number is 11,300.

That’s the number of jobs North Carolina lost in February.

Yes, our unemployment has fallen in the past two months, but The Wall Street Journal notes that North Carolina led the U.S. in job losses last month.

What else should you be watching today?

The State Board of Education is holding planning and work sessions today and tomorrow at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Members of the NC Educator Effectiveness and Compensation Task Force meet this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. to discuss alternative teacher pay models that could be linked to student performance.

Judy Kidd, President of the Classroom Teachers Association of NC, is a member of that task force. Kidd joined us over the weekend on NC Policy Watch’s radio show to discuss tenure and teacher compensation. Kidd also shared her thoughts on Governor McCrory’s pay proposal that rewards new teachers, but does not (as of yet) extend to veteran teachers.

Click below for an excerpt from that interview or here for the full 12-minute segment.

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The Statesville’s Record & Landmark reports that local education officials there are also skeptical of the governor’s ideas for teacher pay, which he outlined last week during the annual meeting of the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce.

3-31-14 NCPW cartoonThis evening Charlotte’s City Council holds a special meeting to discuss how to handle the vacancy in the mayor’s office. You’ll recall last week, Patrick Cannon resigned his duties after he was arrested on charges of public corruption.

Charlotte Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten’s has an excellent piece – 10 takeaways from the Cannon allegations- that everyone should read as the Queen City tries to regain its footing.

And  the NC NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement will join with environmental and health experts this evening for a town hall in Eden, as they focus on coal ash disposal and the clean-up of the Dan River.

Finally, we’ll close out Lunch Links with a little Herb Alpert. The gifted trumpeter/bandleader is celebrating his 74th birthday today. Enjoy!

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Thousands of North Carolinians took to the streets of Raleigh Saturday to protest a laundry list of issues advanced by the Republican-controlled legislature and Governor Pat McCrory.

Marchers spoke out against school vouchers, low wages for teachers, the state’s voter suppression law, a rejection of Medicaid expansion, as well as cuts to unemployment benefits.

For more of the sights and sounds from February 8th’s Moral March on Raleigh, click below:

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While it’s obvious that spokespeople for political parties have a job to do — namely to defend their politicians at all costs — they are also usually better served by grounding their comments in at least some small measure of reality. On this count, state GOP chair Claude Pope swung and missed today with his almost comically off-base broadsides against Rev. William Barber and tomorrow’s Moral March on Raleigh.

As someone who has had the privilege of knowing Barber and working with him frequently in recent years, I can assure Pope and anyone else who cares that he and and the movement he leads are anything but “partisan,” “left-wing,” or “radical.”

First off, as Pope seems to have conveniently forgotten, the HK on J movement was birthed during a period in which Democrats controlled all the main arms of state government.  In those days, the protests were directed against the Democrats in power.  And Pope can rest assured that were the Democrats to somehow regain power in the state, the movement would continue. Indeed, I’ve personally watched Barber chase off politicians who’ve tried to use events in which he was involved for partisan purposes.

This brings us to point #2, which is that the agenda advanced by the HK on J/Moral March movement is actually quite mainstream. If Pope would just check it out and consider it honestly in its historical context — something he’s likely never done — he’d discover that many of the ideas have long been supported by leaders of both parties and huge majorities of average Americans. Heck, go back a few years, and many of these ideas (things like health care for all, environmental justice and affordable housing) were supported (and even launched) by conservatives.

The bottom line: The HK on J/Moral March movement is about many things, but mostly it’s about mainstream, American values that are supported by large majorities of average folks — especially people of low and moderate income who have watched in dismay as their government has been hijacked by corporate plutocrats. Moreover, its leaders are more than happy (thrilled, even) to work with politicians of any party who are willing to sit down and discuss genuine societal progress.