Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Memo to the GOP State Senate: Where are the Women?

The State Senate demographic data are now posted on the NC General Assembly website - Here are some fun facts:

--There are 11 women serving out of 50 Senators. Five of the 11 are Republicans. 

--Of the 23 Standing Committees, there are zero (0) Senate Standing Committees chaired by a woman. 

--Of the 23 Standing Committees, there are two (2) Senate Standing Committees co-chaired by women. 

--There are zero (0) women in the Republican leadership. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I Heard A Rumor

I have been around the NC General Assembly long enough to know that it thrives on rumors. Many of them are phony trial balloons and many turn out to be accurate predictions of the future. This week, there is a rumor that Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam (R-Wake) will be appointed to a judgeship by Governor Pat McCrory. While it might be a relief to get such narrow and closed-minded ideology out of the Legislature, his departure would not solve the problem completely.

As I've observed for 20 years, Rep. Stam seems to spend an inordinate amount of his time and intelligence on proposals that are hateful, discriminatory and potentially unconstitutional. This is a man with an agenda who has used his considerable power to see it achieved. North Carolinians are paying an enormous price in legal fees - through our taxes - to defend his vanity and that of the NC GOP. 

His fingerprints are on legislation to deny healthcare to women, provide medically inaccurate sex education to our students, exclude the very people from protection against bullying who need it most, blatant partisan political retaliation directed at the teachers' professional association, allow the state to sanction one political viewpoint over another, allow public funds to be used to pay for private and parochial school tuition and create statutory barriers to the ballot box. 

The idea that he would move from the legislative branch to be an activist judge is intolerable.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Say YES to Wake County School Bond

Years ago, I served on the board of a religious institution. At the annual meeting, we presented a budget to the membership that included an increase in the amount of the preschool line item. An older member vehemently objected stating that the preschool should be self-sufficient. I button-holed the President during this rant and told him that if I ever forgot that the very reason for our existence was to educate a new generation, he had my permission to tell me it was time to leave town.

If all of our children are not well educated and loved, none of us will thrive. America is both a country of rugged individualists and a caring community. To the sad, selfish, short-sighted people leading a campaign to vote no on the Wake County School Bond, I say, start packing.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tell the President not to Cave-corrected link

Please take a few minutes out of your day to email President Obama. Tell him not to give in to the bullying and lying by the Republican Party about the Affordable Health Care Act. These people are willing to shut down the government because of their irrational hatred of Barack Obama. Our soldiers won't be paid! Hardships on the poor and senior citizens has already been institutionalized.

Don't be fooled. This is no longer only about Tea Party Extremists. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, has just led his House Republicans to vote to delay Obamacare by one year.

It takes a special kind of selfishness to want to deny Americans access to health insurance coverage. Especially when those same Americans are paying for the health care of these very hypocrites. 

Human beings in the United States of America should not have to choose between buying food or taking their children to the doctor. And getting cancer should not mean bankruptcy. 

Republicans want government to fail. They want President Obama to fail. They want their wealthy campaign contributors and cronies to keep getting lucrative government contracts and jobs while the poor and middle class languish. 

No more lies! Tell the President to stay the course. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

We Don't Need No Education

I just bought my first - and last - ticket for the NC "Education" Lottery. Not because it was a stupid waste of $1.00. Not even because the woman at the drug store told me that she sells $800 worth of tickets to folks on a regular basis. But, because on the ticket, under the number "4", the word is spelled "f-o-r". 

It has never been about education. All the warnings of supplantation of the education budget have come true. Me? I'm a stickler for proper spelling. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Drink More Perrier - 

Charlotte-area legislators, dean will study N.C. teacher pay-Charlotte Observer, 9/12/13

It may be apocryphal, but I've always loved this business school case study for its simplicity. After sitting through a seemingly endless strategic planning meeting to come up with a new mission for the company, the CEO of Perrier allegedly shot to his feet screaming, "Sell More Perrier!"

The brain trust at the NCGA that wrote the state budget this year--you know the one, it was devastating to teachers and public education - have created a committee to advise them on teacher pay. Does anyone else want to shout, "Pay Teachers a Living Wage!!"?

There is just a little more advice I would offer, without the benefit of a Committee Room, microphone or gavel. 

1.  Do not fire teachers. 
2.  Do not fire teacher assistants. 
3.  Do not dismantle the NC Teaching Fellows Program. 
4.  Do not raise the limit on class size. 
5.  Do not remove the small bump in pay for teachers who earn advanced degrees. 
6.  Do not require teachers to pay for their own substitutes. 
7.  Do not stop paying for teachers to earn National Board Certification.  
8.  Do not provide taxpayer money to private and religious schools for children whose parents can afford the tuition on their own. 
9.  Do not lift the cap on the number of charter schools and then remove any accountability by their leaders. 
10.  Do not keep saying that this budget gave more to public schools than ever before, because the facts say otherwise. 

Oh wait. The NC GOP majority has done everything listed above. You do not need a committee. You need to restore the budget cuts. Or just admit that your idea of education public policy is to destroy public education completely. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

"...a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable." - the Republican Party

The New York Times

July 14, 2013

Hunger Games, U.S.A.

Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.
The occasion for these observations is, as you may have guessed, the monstrous farm bill the House passed last week.
For decades, farm bills have had two major pieces. One piece offers subsidies to farmers; the other offers nutritional aid to Americans in distress, mainly in the form of food stamps (these days officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP).
Long ago, when subsidies helped many poor farmers, you could defend the whole package as a form of support for those in need. Over the years, however, the two pieces diverged. Farm subsidies became a fraud-ridden program that mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals. Meanwhile food stamps became a crucial part of the social safety net.
So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies — at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed — while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill.
To fully appreciate what just went down, listen to the rhetoric conservatives often use to justify eliminating safety-net programs. It goes something like this: “You’re personally free to help the poor. But the government has no right to take people’s money” — frequently, at this point, they add the words “at the point of a gun” — “and force them to give it to the poor.”
It is, however, apparently perfectly O.K. to take people’s money at the point of a gun and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.
Now, some enemies of food stamps don’t quote libertarian philosophy; they quote the Bible instead. Representative Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, for example, cited the New Testament: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” Sure enough, it turns out that Mr. Fincher has personally received millions in farm subsidies.
Given this awesome double standard — I don’t think the word “hypocrisy” does it justice — it seems almost anti-climactic to talk about facts and figures. But I guess we must.
So: Food stamp usage has indeed soared in recent years, with the percentage of the population receiving stamps rising from 8.7 in 2007 to 15.2 in the most recent data. There is, however, no mystery here. SNAP is supposed to help families in distress, and lately a lot of families have been in distress.
In fact, SNAP usage tends to track broad measures of unemployment, like U6, which includes the underemployed and workers who have temporarily given up active job search. AndU6 more than doubled in the crisis, from about 8 percent before the Great Recession to 17 percent in early 2010. It’s true that broad unemployment has since declined slightly, while food stamp numbers have continued to rise — but there’s normally some lag in the relationship, and it’s probably also true that some families have been forced to take food stamps by sharp cuts in unemployment benefits.
What about the theory, common on the right, that it’s the other way around — that we have so much unemployment thanks to government programs that, in effect, pay people not to work? (Soup kitchens caused the Great Depression!) The basic answer is, you have to be kidding. Do you really believe that Americans are living lives of leisure on $134 a month, the average SNAP benefit?
Still, let’s pretend to take this seriously. If employment is down because government aid is inducing people to stay home, reducing the labor force, then the law of supply and demand should apply: withdrawing all those workers should be causing labor shortages and rising wages, especially among the low-paid workers most likely to receive aid. In reality, of course, wages are stagnant or declining — and that’s especially true for the groups that benefit most from food stamps.
So what’s going on here? Is it just racism? No doubt the old racist canards — like Ronald Reagan’s image of the “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy a T-bone steak — still have some traction. But these days almost half of food stamp recipients are non-Hispanic whites; in Tennessee, home of the Bible-quoting Mr. Fincher, the number is 63 percent. So it’s not all about race.
What is it about, then? Somehow, one of our nation’s two great parties has become infected by an almost pathological meanspiritedness, a contempt for what CNBC’s Rick Santelli, in the famous rant that launched the Tea Party, called “losers.” If you’re an American, and you’re down on your luck, these people don’t want to help; they want to give you an extra kick. I don’t fully understand it, but it’s a terrible thing to behold.


Editorial: The Future of Same-Sex Marriage