Wednesday, July 10, 2013

N.C. legislature's antics go national

The N.C. legislature's antics over the past six months are well-known in these parts. While editorial boards across the state are grateful for the fodder, we have cringed to see some of the ways the General Assembly has been rolling back years of progress that had separated North Carolina from much of the South.

Now, that dismantling is on a very national stage. The lead editorial in today's New York Times is headlined "The Decline of North Carolina." It takes what we and others have been writing about for months and amplifies it to a national audience of millions.

The Times editorial board says the legislature is imposing "grotesque damage" on the state, particularly to the least fortunate among us. It says N.C. government has become a "demolition derby" with Republicans controlling both chambers of the legislature and the governor's mansion. It concludes: "North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build."

North Carolinians have known this for sometime, and its reflected in polls that show the legislature with extremely low approval ratings. Now the rest of the country is talking about us as well.

The full Times editorial: 

The Decline of North Carolina

Every Monday since April, thousands of North Carolina residents have gathered at the State Capitol to protest the grotesque damage that a new Republican majority has been doing to a tradition of caring for the least fortunate. Nearly 700 people have been arrested in the “Moral Monday” demonstrations, as they are known. But the bad news keeps on coming from the Legislature, and pretty soon a single day of the week may not be enough to contain the outrage.
In January, after the election of Pat McCrory as governor, Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches for the first time since Reconstruction. Since then, state government has become a demolition derby, tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot.
The cruelest decision by lawmakers went into effect last week: ending federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents. Another 100,000 will lose their checks in a few months. Those still receiving benefits will find that they have been cut by a third, to a maximum of $350 weekly from $535, and the length of time they can receive benefits has been slashed from 26 weeks to as few as 12 weeks.
The state has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country, and many Republicans insulted workers by blaming their joblessness on generous benefits. In fact, though, North Carolina is the only state that has lost long-term federal benefits, because it did not want to pay back $2.5 billion it owed to Washington for the program. The State Chamber of Commerce argued that cutting weekly benefits would be better than forcing businesses to pay more in taxes to pay off the debt, and lawmakers blindly went along, dropping out of the federal program.
At the same time, the state is also making it harder for future generations of workers to get jobs, cutting back sharply on spending for public schools. Though North Carolina has been growing rapidly, it is spending less on schools now than it did in 2007, ranking 46th in the nation in per-capita education dollars. Teacher pay is falling, 10,000 prekindergarten slots are scheduled to be removed, and even services to disabled children are being chopped.
“We are losing ground,” Superintendent June Atkinson said recently, warning of a teacher exodus after lawmakers proposed ending extra pay for teachers with master’s degrees, cutting teacher assistants and removing limits on class sizes.
Republicans repealed the Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that was the first in the country to give death-row inmates a chance to prove they were victims of discrimination. They have refused to expand Medicaid and want to cut income taxes for the rich while raising sales taxes on everyone else. The Senate passed a bill that would close most of the state’s abortion clinics.
And, naturally, the Legislature is rushing to impose voter ID requirements and cut back on early voting and Sunday voting, which have been popular among Democratic voters. One particularly transparent move would end a tax deduction for dependents if students vote at college instead of their hometowns, a blatant effort to reduce Democratic voting strength in college towns like Chapel Hill and Durham.
North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.


Not_a_hypocrit said...

The New York Times, the oldest of the liberal rags, is critical of the work that a Republican legislature is doing in North Carolina. Who would have thunk it?

Wiley Coyote said...

It's normal for these types of things to happen after being ruled for 100 years by Democrats.

Wiley Coyote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wiley Coyote said...

I wonder when the NYT will lament what Liberals have done to California and New York....

BRB...gotta go get a Big Gulp.

blockhead said...

These comments don't surprise me. "Liberal rag?" Typical. I came to North Carolina in the '70s, with grave reservations. The state was backwards, poor, vying with Mississippi in virtually every way, for worst in the nation. It was the punch line for jokes nationwide. I have watched the state become one of the nation's most respected in many ways; the growth of the Research Triangle into one of the nation's top two or three tech centers; the development of Charlotte from a middle-sized backwater into a national powerhouse; the passage of environmental laws and regulations, resulting in the state becoming one of the most desirable in the nation to live; the growth of a strong, viable agricultural economy. Now, in the course of less than four years, I've watch Republicans attack every good thing that has happened in the last 50. Don't give me your "liberal" foolishness. I'm as middle of the road, unaffiliated and common-sense as they come, an Army combat veteran and as hard-working, money-saving, bootstrapping guy as you'll ever meet. But I recognize a tragedy in the making.

misswhit said...

Funny, I can't recall the NY Times describing North Carolina as a "beacon of farsightedness" during the Duke lacrosse scandal, which they so actively promoted.

RobNClt said...

@Blockhead-The state became a liberal bastion with very high taxes and everything going wrong. You couldn't help but like that since you're middle of the road, lol. I was born in Charlotte, I'm black, and I actually love what is happening now. We are finally lowering our income taxes, paying the feds back the money that should not have been borrowed, and correcting past left wing overspending. If that upsets you do one of the other options we have here, MOVE to California or New York they are both broke!

RobNClt said...

Why is everyone leaving New York as if it's sinking. There are so many people from New York in Charlotte it is difficult for me to believe it's a great place to live since they are leaving the the 1000s...New York Times is not reporting that, are they?

Unknown said...

NY Times should be concerned that a sexual predator (Weiner) who sent unsolicitied nude photos of himself to females (some possibly underage),and Spritzer (would be felon who got busted for prositition) will be elected by the fine folks of New York.
I assume these are the best people available for the job in this northern utopia.
Our own class of felon (Mike Easley, Jim Black, Mary Scott Phipps, and Tony Rand-just not charged) would fit right in.

deepenwide said...

I left the Republican stronghold of Morganton NC 3 years ago for Florida. My son and his wife soon followed. It wasn't easy to leave the only state that I had ever lived in. I am working and disabled and had grown tired of fighting at every turn to keep my head above water. I made more money my first year in Florida than I had made on my best year in NC.
My son who had not been able to find a job for 2 years in NC was hired at the first place he applied for in Florida. He estimates that he had put in over 200 applications his last year in NC.
I know that I can't change the mind of those of you who defend the immoral actions of those who you put in charge in Raleigh as well as little towns like Morganton. The decline that is now imminent for my former state might clear your heads. Somehow I doubt it. To those of you who continue to vote against the self interest of your own family I can only pity. As your state continues to sink into poverty and ignorance I believe more people will make the hard choice to get up and leave.
Who's going to pay the taxes then?

Aubrey Moore said...

I am a son of North Carolina with family dating back for at least 9 generations. I have been in every county and most incorporated towns. For most of my life, I have taken my vacations here and used long weekends to get to know the state better. I have owned a business here for 35 years, and before that taught in a school here for 12 years. I have spent over 40 years working with others in Optimist Clubs to make my community stronger. I have loved this place as I loved my mother and tried to give back to it gifts worthy of the great gifts that it has given to me. What is going on now in Raleigh is nothing less than the desecration of monuments of love and dedication that so many have spent their lives giving to this state. Some of you have not the least idea of how to love anything beyond yourselves. North Carolina will spit you out one day because for all of your words, you are unworthy of her great gifts.

Wiley Coyote said...

It's interesting to read all of the bleeding heart liberal BS about the "desecration of NC from Raleigh" as if a switch was turned on day one when Republicans took over the legislature.

Again, you seem to forget about Easley, Perdue and Black who made NC the laughing stock of the states.

Hard to understand that little fact when you have your head stuck in the party line.

Tucking your tails and running instead of fighting for what you believe tells me we don't need you here anyway.

blockhead said...

Mr. Moore,

I'd decided not to comment any more after getting only juvenile responses such as those of RobNclt. But your comment is so compelling, I wanted to thank you. Some of us have worked in our humble ways to improve this state for more than 40 years. As a reporter, I covered the race riots of the 60s, and wrote about racism and social injustices; I wrote the first stories ever about a remote swamp that resulted in what is today's Merchants Millpond State Park. I - and others - covered the Imperial Foods Fire in which two dozen people lost their lives because union-haters had enticed a Pennsylvania company that was being run out of that state to come here. We've seen wonderful changes to protect the environment, workers, economy and quality of life over the last 40 years. Now, it's all going down the drain over night, a victim of the greed and avarice of people who lied to voters about their agendas, and in fact, represent only the rich corporations of the state and world. This is sad beyond description.

Abby Michelle said...

Raleigh is doing what needs to be done to save out state and country from colapsing. They are having to make hard decisions that are not popular, but unfortunately have to be made. Since when is it the governments job to pay people who don't have a job?? Its a nice perk, but certaibly not a "right". And as far as closing the abortion clinic - these clinics are now being held to the standard of a hospital... what should infuruate people more is that the safetly of the women has not yet been a concern of these clinics. Get informed people... stop letting the media fill your head with nonsense!

Wiley Coyote said...

Psssst... hey you, righteous Democrats:

The campaign of Gov. Bev Perdue on Friday forfeited $48,000 for what it said were questionable campaign contributions from nine donors who all work for or are related to a major Democratic fundraiser.

The campaign of Perdue, a Democrat, said in a statement it was "concerned that some or all of the contributors involved may have been reimbursed by their employer." It is illegal in North Carolina for someone to provide another person with money to give to a campaign, or to pay them back for a donation.

The contributors are all linked to Rusty Carter, who owns the Atlantic Corp., a packaging company in Wilmington.

A review of campaign finance reports shows that the same nine people also made similar donations, totaling $44,500 in 2008, to the campaign of influential Senate leader Marc Basnight, a Manteo Democrat. Basnight's chief of staff, Amy Fulk, said in an e-mail message that Basnight is seeking guidance from elections regulators on the contributions to him and whether they "were made unlawfully."


And another:

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby is looking further into the case of a wealthy Democratic campaign donor who helped pay the salary of a staff member of former Gov. Bev Perdue's 2008 campaign in violation of state election laws.

An SBI investigator went before the Wake County grand jury to provide a sketch of a case against Charles Michael Fulenwider, a Morganton resident who provided $32,000 to Tryon Capital Ventures in Chapel Hill, to help pay the salary of Julie Sitton, a fundraiser for Perdue's campaign who was paid off the books, investigators contend.


Mike Sleazely who had his law license revoked:

....Hobbs admitted to funneling money through his company over the past 11 years to various candidates, including $109,000 to Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, $13,000 to former Gov. Mike Easley, $20,000 to Gov. Beverly Perdue and $6,000 to former Lt. Governor Dennis Wicker.

Such law abiding, outstanding NC Democrats!

misswhit said...

Deepenwide (who left the state 3 years ago for better opportunities)--exactly which party was in charge of the state 3 years ago when you were "fighting to keep your head above water" and which party had been running the show for all the years previous to that?

Zon said...

The NYT is one of the most conservative editorial boards in the country. When it says conservatives are behaving badly, that means they're looney.