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JudiciarySeats are going fast for a special Crucial Conversation luncheon next Tuesday, September 30

Dirty money, dirty water: The end of judicial campaign public financing in North Carolina with Billy Corriher of the Center for American Progress and Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies

When: Tuesday, September 30, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (At the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets)

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register Read More

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The following was posted this morning on “Taking Note” the editorial page blog at the New York Times:

“The Decline of North Carolina, Continued 

An editorial last week lamented North Carolina’s abandonment of progressive policies in the seven months since Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches in the Tar Heel State for the first time since reconstruction.

The piece cited backward slides in areas such as public education, tax fairness, voting, abortion rights and the mean-spirited slashing of federal unemployment benefits for roughly 70,000 residents.

To that depressing list, I would add one more item: the destruction of North Carolina’s public financing system for judicial elections. Read More

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In case you missed it over the holiday weekend, Raleigh News & Observer columnist Rob Christensen had an excellent column that took state lawmakers to task for five proposals that will adversely impact the quality of North Carolina’s democracy:

  • The proposed demise of SBI independence,
  • The end of publicly-financed judicial campaigns,
  • The proposed expansion of political patronage hiring,
  • Expanded secrecy in personnel grievance proceedings, and
  • Making it harder for average citizens to vote.

As Christensen notes:

“The Republicans came into office as reformers promising a broom to clean up the mess left by the Democrats. As my mom liked to say, the proof is in the pudding.”

He might have added that right now, the pudding is watery and tastes lousy. Read the entire column by clicking here.

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In case you missed it, the Fayetteville Observer had this to say over the weekend about the issue of recent campaign contributions from corrupt gambling interests to Gov. McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Berger, Speaker Tillis and others:

“It’s clear that campaign-finance reforms haven’t gone far enough. The laws may be better, but enforcement is weak.

The Board of Elections needs to conduct a full, unbiased and public investigation that follows the money wherever it goes.

And the General Assembly needs to follow up by giving state regulators the tools they need to spot illegal campaign contributions quickly.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

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State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger got some media attention yesterday for his new education “reform” plan. Though it may have a good idea or two, the plan appears, as is usually the case with the right-wing establishment, to be mostly about using more threats of sanction in an attempt to extract better results out of teachers and students. Once again, conservatives are sending the message that the problem with schools is that people are lazy and not trying hard enough. 

In case, however, you have any doubts that the proposal is ultimately driven mostly by far right political objectives, check out this part of the plan that didn’t get much attention in the mainstream media reports: The final item in the proposed legislation (beginning on page 38) would eliminate public financing for the candidates seeking the office of state Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

Got that? Berger’s plan is to “reform” public education by making sure that we can go back to having a system in which money bags like Art Pope (and maybe even for-profit corporations like the scammers at K12 Inc.) can buy the office for their chosen candidate.