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With yesterday’s release of the conclusion and today’s compilation of video interviews with experts, readers now have access to the entire special NC Policy Watch report: Altered State: How 5 years of conservative rule have redefined North Carolina. We hope you will find it informative and share it with friends an colleagues.

You can also download a PDF copy of the entire report by clicking here or obtain a limited number of hard copies by contacting me directly at rob@ncpolicywatch.com or 919-861-2065.

Commentary, News
Rick Glazier at a recent N.C. Policy Watch event

Rick Glazier at a recent N.C. Policy Watch event

In case you missed it, the parent organization of NC Policy Watch, the North Carolina Justice Center, gained a new Executive Director in recent months. Rick Glazier, a veteran attorney from Fayetteville who served several terms as one of the General Assembly’s most accomplished and respected members, joined the organization in late summer.

Recently, the folks at one of North Carolina’s most important funders of progressive causes, the Winston-Salem-based Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, sat down with Rick to explore his vision for the Justice Center and, more importantly, the fight to end poverty and bring a semblance of economic justice to our state.

You can read the entire interview by clicking here, but I particularly liked this part:

“This is a critical moment in NC history, with an altered context that has challenged assumptions, protections, institutions and programs many believed were sacrosanct – not because they were infallible, but because they were a dynamic and vital part of the progressive, moral and economic fabric of North Carolinians’ lives. Many of these are sadly now under real threat of serious generational harm, including public education, the university system, our natural resources, voting and civil rights for all, and a true safety net of economic protections for our most vulnerable populations. The Justice Center leads in the fight for an economy that works for everyone.”

The staff members at NC Policy Watch are proud to play an important part in this fight. If you’d like to join us in the effort, we’d welcome your contributions — financial and otherwise. Click here for information or contact me directly at rob@ncpolicywatch.com.

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

Read More

Commentary

altered-state-bannerIn case you missed it, be sure to check out today’s introduction to our new special report: “Altered State: How 5 years of conservative rule have redefined North Carolina.” The intro is written by Chris Fitzsimon and it’s entitled “Wrecking Crew.”

Here’s the opening:

“In October 2011, just a few months after the end of the first General Assembly session controlled by Republicans in more than a hundred years, House Speaker Thom Tillis told a small group of GOP faithful in Mars Hill that one of his goals was to “divide and conquer” people on public assistance.

Tillis, now a U.S. senator, explained that he wanted to get people with disabilities to “look down” at others on public assistance, low-income families whom he deemed unworthy of public support.

It was a revealing moment for the new Republican majority in Raleigh, laying bare one of their goals, to unravel the social safety net in pursuit of their aim to shrink the government they disdain and slash taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

It is part of an agenda they have pursued without pause in the last five years, and the damage to North Carolina has been remarkable and stunning to behold….”

Click here to read Chris’ entire introduction. And be sure to check back at the Altered State website tomorrow morning and each day through December 21. We’ll be rolling out new stories over the next two and a half weeks on everything from taxes to public education to environmental protection.  It’s a mostly sobering tale, but one that is a “must read” for anyone who wants to understand the transition that’s taken place in North Carolina policy and politics over the last half decade.

Commentary, News

N.C. Policy Watch will unveil a special report over the next several days that documents the dramatic changes brought about by five years of conservative political leadership in the Tar Heel state.

“Altered State — How 5 years of conservative rule have redefined North Carolina,” contains eight new news stories and three new works of commentary and analysis that document and explore the fundamental policy changes that have transformed North Carolina from one of the South’s most consistently progressive states into one of its most conservative. The first installment will be released online December 1.

As N.C. Policy Watch Executive Director Chris Fitzsimon explains in the introduction to the report:

“In October 2011, just a few months after the end of the first General Assembly session controlled by Republicans in more than a hundred years, House Speaker Thom Tillis told a small group of GOP faithful in Mars Hill that one of his goals was to ’divide and conquer’ people on public assistance.

Tillis, now a U.S. senator, explained that he wanted to get people with disabilities to “look down” at others on public assistance, low-income families whom he deemed unworthy of public support.

It was a revealing moment for the new Republican majority in Raleigh, laying bare one of their goals, to unravel the social safety net in pursuit of their aim to shrink the government they disdain and slash taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

It is part of an agenda they have pursued without pause in the last five years, and the damage to North Carolina has been remarkable and stunning to behold.”

The report features news stories from the N.C. Policy Watch team of journalists that detail ongoing assaults on many of the state’s most important public structures – from the social safety net to its environmental protection infrastructure to its systems of public and higher education. The report also explores the ongoing efforts to advance the Right’s social agenda as well as efforts to cement conservative victories by altering the makeup of the state’s courts and voting laws.

An essay from the Director of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center documents the dramatic and destructive changes that have been inflicted on the state’s fiscal policies over the least five years, while commentaries explore how the dramatic changes came about and what the future holds. A “Numbers” feature which replicates the popular N.C. Policy Watch “Monday Numbers” column weaves throughout the report to make concrete many of the most important changes in state policy.

According to Rick Glazier, the Executive Director of the Justice Center, the report will be a “must read” for anyone, inside or outside of North Carolina, who wants to understand what has happened to the state and the direction it needs to head going forward.

“It’s a remarkable and sobering report,” Glazier said. “The damage that has taken place over the past five years has been enormous. But if we’re going to turn things around in the years to come and put North Carolina back on the path to progress, it’s imperative that people understand where things stand. This report does a great job of bringing home the nature of the challenges we face.”

The report will be released each morning over the next three weeks via the website: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/category/altered-state/.

For more information, contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com.