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Lunch sandwichHere’s something to spur a little dyspepsia on the first day of a short work week: The General Assembly is back in Raleigh!  Yes, just six weeks or so after blowing town, the honorables are back for what will apparently be a two-day veto session. In case you’ve forgotten, the state Constitution (Article II, Section 22) requires an affirmative vote of three-fifths of those present and voting to override a gubernatorial veto and, at this point, it looks very much as if both the House and Senate will produce margins of this amount or greater on both bills at issue. In other words, it would appear that Governor McCrory’s September is about to get off to a start very much consistent with his extremely lousy August – a month so bad that it prompted his hometown newspaper to question his truthfulness.  

And speaking of important official events in Raleigh today, the State Board of Elections will convene at 1:00 to take up an appeal of a candidate challenge to Montravias King from Pasquotank County. Click here to watch the live feed from WRAL. The Board will also consider the appeals for one-stop alternate plans for 2013 municipal elections in Watauga and Pitt counties. Students and civic groups including NCPIRG, Common Cause, Ignite NC, NCSU Student Power Union, Democracy NC and Rock the Vote will be on hand to call on the Board to reverse recent decisions by local county boards of elections that make it harder for young people to vote.

And speaking of “must see” video, Read More

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Dallas Woodhouse2You may have trouble enduring all 50 minutes and 40 seconds, but today’s weird valedictory farewell by departing Americans for Prosperity director Dallas Woodhouse at the Locke Foundation’s “Shaftsbury Society” luncheon provides an interesting and, at times, surprisingly unfiltered window into just how closely coordinated the right-wing world of charitable 501 (c)(3)’s, (c)(4)’s and various explicitly partisan political and candidate-specific organizations really is. (Woodhouse is leaving AFP to become a campaign/political consultant).

Woodhouse addresses the matter (explicitly and implicitly) several times during the talk — most notably about a quarter of the way in when he explains that  conservative “accomplishments” of late in North Carolina are the result of “the efforts of our candidates, with the effort of our network here through the Locke Foundation, Civitas, the Pope Center for Higher Education, the Center for Constitutional Law, and Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Prosperity Foundation…” and then goes on to thank Art Pope for making it all possible.

To help complete the big, warm and fuzzy picture, the first question at the conclusion of the talk is posed by Woodhouse’s former colleague Jeff Mixon, now of the Governor’s office.

In short, those who watch this video will get a quick, powerful and sobering lesson about who it is that’s driving the policy and political agendas in North Carolina right now (and how, in their troubled worldview, they’re just getting started).

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This morning’s edition of the Greenville Daily Reflector included this excellent editorial:

“The men and women arrested each week during the “Moral Monday” protests at the Legislative Building know they will face charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct and failure to disperse. Until recently, however, they could not expect that their name to land in an online database compiled by a right-wing advocacy group once funded by the state budget director.

The Civitas Institute, which maintains the listing on its website, is violating no law in compiling this public information and claims to be merely fighting back against the protesters’ message. But the organization’s connection to Art Pope, the conservative financier who Gov. Pat McCrory tapped to write the state budget, gives the database a more sinister overtone and makes the practice highly questionable.

As is now typical in Raleigh, a large crowd gathered on Monday night to decry the work of the Republican-led General Assembly. North Carolina Democrats and their supporters cannot halt legislation and therefore seek to offer a rhetorical counterpoint through protest and civil disobedience.

This week marked the 10th event, dubbed by the organizing NAACP as “Moral Mondays.” What began in small numbers now draws thousands to the Legislative Building, and more than 600 have submitted to arrest as a result of their deliberate action. Though the courts will determine the legal ramifications, peaceable assembly and the right to petition one’s government are both protected by the First Amendment.

The Civitas Institute, a nonprofit organization backing conservative policies, has a vested interest in seeing these protests fail….”

Read the rest by clicking here.

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Sue Sturgis over at the Institute for Southern Studies has a new story out about the Pope-Civitas Institute’s latest intimidation tactic toward legislative protesters.

“The John W. Pope Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank based in Raleigh, N.C., has launched a database targeting people who’ve been arrested as part of the Moral Monday nonviolent protests at the state legislature.

The Civitas Institute was founded by conservative mega-donor and discount-retail mogul Art Pope, now the North Carolina budget director under Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, and it was named for Pope’s father. The nonprofit gets about 94 percent of its funding from the family foundation Pope chairs. That raises questions about the ethics of a public official who’s been a target of the protests being involved in an apparent effort to target the protesters for harassment — or worse.”

No word yet on whether the effort is being coordinated with the group’s chief funder (i.e. the state budget ), legislative leaders or other far right groups, but as Sturgis reports, the tactic is reminiscent of the one’s used by the reactionary opponents of the Civil Rights movement, so nothing would come as a surprise.

Read the entire story by clicking here.

 

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Confused about the state of tax “reform” in the 2013 General Assembly? Check out these two very useful and user-friendly tools from the N.C. Budget and Tax Center:

This one-page chart gives you the facts you need on all of the major tax proposals introduced thus far in 2013.

This very brief (back and front) document tells you how to assess proposals by yourself.

And don’t forget Financing the Future: Debating State State Tax Reform for North Carolina - a special debate a debate on tax reform in North Carolina, featuring Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities and Elizabeth Malm of The Tax Foundation, two national experts on the subject of taxation and finance. The event is co-sponsored by the BTC, the Pope-Civitas Institute and the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University next Tuesday May 7 at 11:45 a.m. 

Click here for more information.