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Adam O'Neal

Mayor Adam O’Neal – photo credit Twitter.com

“You can’t close hospitals and let people die to prove a point.” So spoke the conservative Republican mayor of Belhaven, North Carolina, Adam O’Neal, this morning at a press conference at the state Legislative Building in Raleigh.

O’Neal’s appearance (and his linking of hands with Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP) was the highlight of a powerful event at which advocates called on Gov. McCrory and legislative leaders to reverse course and admit that their ideologically-driven decision to refuse to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the terms of the Affordable Care Act is threatening the physical health of hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians and the financial health of dozens of hospitals — especially ones located in poorer, rural communities like Mayor O’Neal’s.

O’Neal’s speech was an especially moving and courageous act by a man who claimed to disagree with Rev. Barber on most issues and who obviously placed any political ambitions he might harbor at risk by so publicly breaking with the leaders of his own party. But it was also obviously heartfelt and genuine — a fact that made it all the more powerful. Read More

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This morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer gets it just about exactly right with a full-length  editorial on the return of Moral Monday protesters to the state capital and the conservative legislature’s heavy-handed attempt to muzzle them:

“Tuesday, the marchers will return, following Memorial Day. And Republicans may be sure they’ll be back, Monday after Monday. More enlightened leaders might talk to the protesters (who include blue collar workers, teachers, lawyers and doctors) to at least hear their viewpoints.

Alas, the Republicans now in charge on Jones Street prefer ignorance of the opposition, the better to do their damage to average North Carolinians without facts and conscience getting in the way. They’ll stumble on, wreaking legislative havoc as they seek to destroy what’s left of environmental regulation and to cut taxes even more for the wealthy, who benefit most from their actions.

Meanwhile, a movement grows, literally across the country, thanks to the hearty souls who have dared to go to the considerable trouble of arriving at the Legislative Building knowing they’ll face only disrespect from those who are supposed to serve them….

These protesters have done a public service, pure and simple. They have spoken eloquently and loudly, even when they do not speak at all.”

Today’s protest start at 12:00 noon on Halifax Mall behind the Legislative Building. Read the entire N&O editorial by clicking here.

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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.

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Voter-ID-signToday’s Winston-Salem Journal makes clear one again what advocates for open government have been saying for a long time: state lawmakers ought to be allowed behind absurd claims of privacy and immunity when it comes to the records of their communications as they went about the business of passing the nation’s most restrictive voting law. As the new editorial aptly notes:

“It’s bad enough that our politicians choose their own voters through their redistricting monopoly, but last year the General Assembly passed a so-called ‘voter identification’ bill that will clearly suppress who among us even gets to vote. Read More

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Vidant Pungo

Vidant Pungo Hospital
Photo: www.vidanthealth.com

The failure to expand Medicaid appeared to have sealed the fate of Vidant Pungo Hospital in the small town of Belhaven. Now, there appears to be some promising news in the fight to keep services flowing from a hospital that served many lower income North Carolinians. Congrats to our own Adam Linker for his fine work in making this happen. This is from the NAACP:

GREENVILLE, NC -The North Carolina NAACP, the NAACP Branches in Hyde and Beaufort Counties and the leadership of Vidant Health are pleased to announce this morning at 9 am that they have worked out an agreement to keep Vidant Pungo Hospital open.

Vidant Pungo Hospital and its emergency facilities will remain open and operated by Vidant Health through July 1, 2014. Over the next three months, Vidant Health will work with the community to help them establish a representative community-based board that will accept full operating control of the hospital in a transfer by July 1, 2014. Read More