Our Voices: Progress NC Blog

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Speak up about McCrory's Cabinet raises!

WE NEED YOU!   Are you angry / perplexed / confused that Pat McCrory just gave his Cabinet members big raises after warning NC we were in for tough economic times... and then justified the raises by saying he was worried they'd have trouble getting by on only $121,000+ a year? Please write a letter to the editor of your local paper letting people know how you feel. We have talking points and sample letters to help and can tell you where to send your letter to make it easy for you. Just email katymunger@progressnc.org if you are interested. And Read More

Frontline activism is good for the soul:

Last weekend, over 40 people took time out from their Saturday night to join Progress North Carolina at a sidewalk ball protest. This rally was held across the street from an inaugural ball sponsored by a new political group that is selling $50,000 and $25,000 memberships for the chance to meet with NC's new governor, Pat McCrory, behind closed doors. Our message to the attendees of this ball was clear: "Pay-to-play politics corrupts our state. It is wrong to sell access to government."   We got our message across for sure, and with style (tuxedos, top hats, glitter, tiaras). Read More

January 11, 2013FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   McCrory Gives Cabinet Cronies a Nice Pay Raise & Is Poised to Give Unemployed the Shaft Pay raises for cabinet secretaries insults the unemployed, teachers, state employees and Wake County taxpayers RALEIGH--Progress North Carolina today called on Gov. Pat McCrory to either rescind pay raises for his cabinet secretaries, or promise to veto legislation which cuts insurance benefits for the unemployed.  If McCrory is going to offer pay raises of as much as 10.8% for his cabinet secretaries, he should also promise to offer and sign a budget with matching percentage raises for state Read More

"Pay to Play Pat" is here to stay:

January 7, 2013 Pay to Play Pat is Here to Stay How much does a McCrory cabinet post cost? Apparently $200,00 or more.   ASHEVILLE -- Progress NC today launched a new website PayToPlayPat.com to hold the new Governor accountable and released a report on the staggering total of donations given by the new DHHS Secretary, Aldona Wos, to McCrory's election efforts.    Within days of winning the election, McCrory had already broken his promise to clean up Raleigh and to keep special interests out of state government.   "The good ol' boy and girl patronage system of state government has placed tired and Read More

A victory for tolerance:

We won. Congress will not whitewash a legacy of division in North Carolina. Jesse Helms will NOT have his name on a federal courthouse in downtown Raleigh.    Over 8,200 of you signed the Progress North Carolina petition and your voices were heard. From all across this state, North Carolina residents weighed in, not just with your signature, but with your words.   Perhaps Jeanine Keeys of Zebulon said it most succinctly:   "Hate should not have a monument."   In the end, the Congressional committee in charge of re-naming bills listened to comments like that and adjourned without moving Read More

Big money from outside our state's borders heavily influenced North Carolina's elections this year. But it doesn't have to be that way. Check out this new video from the North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections Coalition. It details the influence of money in politics in our state and what you can do about it:       Read More

Is this really a legacy we want to honor?

A history of Jesse Helms as painted by his own actions:   Here are some of the legislative ideas  Jesse Helms  introduced or spearheaded: Allow school re-segregation Prevent adding sexual orientation as a protected class to an executive order banning discrimination against federal employees. End corporate, estate and gift taxes and impose a flat 10% "tithe tax" income tax on everyone. Ban federal funding to schools that provide birth control pills to students. Ban affirmative action in employment decisions. Return the US dollar to the gold standard. Prevent labor unions from using dues money for political contributions Provide military assistance Read More

Congresswoman Renée Ellmers is clearly nobody's fool. She has proved she is more than a one-term lawmaker and she has won appointments to important House committees in a very short time. However, her recently introduced renaming bill calling for a federal building in Raleigh to be named for the late Sen. Jesse Helms is not only a violation of protocol (renaming requests have always come from the grassroots upward, not top down), it is also a huge political misstep -- the kind of misstep that someone raised in North Carolina would never have made. Because those of us who had Read More

One of the most persistent themes in this year's statewide elections was that North Carolina had to change its policies to become more business friendly. Now comes a report and endorsement from leaders of the business world itself showing that investments in high-quality early care and education provide a surprisingly big boost to local businesses in North Carolina and could play an important role in helping the state recover from the economic recession. In fact, for every $1 invested in early care and education in the state, the new report shows that a total of $1.91 is generated in sales Read More

The 2012 elections are over. America has re-elected a President and North Carolina has voted to put Republicans in control of all three branches of state government. There are sure to be many changes on the horizon for our state. We are very likely to see changes in policies that affect public education on all levels, state revenues, natural resources, healthcare, women's rights, access to the ballot box and several other areas. Given this political environment, we'd love to hear your thoughts on what you hope will happen in North Carolina during the coming year or, conversely, what you Read More

When profits prevail over safety:

You hear a lot of conservative politicians in North Carolina these days talking about how regulation is killing business. You also see a lot of them treating the appointment of industry executives to the very boards that are supposed to regulate their industries as if it were an ideal fit, rather than a conflict of interest. But we now have a case coming out of Massachusetts that shows us, all too well, that we pay a high human cost when we let profit-seekers undermine the proper role that government could play in ensuring our health and safety. A single compounding Read More

Larry Pittman is a big, fat hypocrite

GOP NC House Rep. Larry Pittman is a big fat hypocrite.  He says he opposes abortion -- yet he is trying to destroy the one organization that prevents more abortions than any other organization in North Carolina. Last week, it was revealed that several months ago, in the midst of a funding debate, Rep. Pittman called Planned Parenthood "... a murderous organization... getting wealthy on murder for hire... Never will I agree to give that bloody, indecent, immoral organization one penny. I will not be satisfied until it is outlawed."   This well-publicized, grandstanding orgy of moral self-satisfaction came about Read More

Stand up for our men and women in blue:

If you live or work in the Triangle area, Progress North Carolina is urging you to show up at the Raleigh City Council Meeting on Tuesday, August 7 to speak out against an attempt by the Raleigh Police Chief and an outside consultant to implement a new performance evaluation system that imposes quotas on police officers. People rallying against the plan will be gathering in front of the Municipal Building at 222 W. Hargett St. in Raleigh on Tuesday evening at 6:30 PM. They will enter the meeting as a group at 7:00. Once in the meeting, you can sign on to speak Read More

United we stand -- and that scares them

History shows that many a war has been won after a bloody battle united the troops. We have seen that dynamic at work right here at home where, for years, North Carolina's greatest strengths were protected by nonprofit issue groups with a single-minded focus on making sure NC's forward-thinking educational and economic policies, natural resources, voting rights, cultural traditions and more were preserved. For years, the passion of these nonprofit issue groups contributed to the balance between the old and the new that made living in North Carolina an enviable experience.   Two years ago, when new leadership took over our Read More

For almost a year, Progress North Carolina has worked hard to hold an out-of-control state legislature accountable for an agenda which is out of touch with mainstream North Carolina. Now the Republican Party is trying to bully and silence the people who are holding the spotlight and telling the truth. Help us fight back against their bullying tactics.   Last week, the NC Republican Party filed a frivolous IRS complaint against Progress NC and some of our issue partners, saying we violated rules against electioneering. We did not. We have always operated within the parameters of the law when holding Read More

The Aftermath

The legacy of the 2011-12 NC General Assembly will be the massive damage politicians caused to our public education system from Pre-K and K-12 all the way to the university and community college systems.    In total, over the last two years, there have been more than a billion dollars in cuts made, $650 million in the K-12 system alone. But there is so much more than that. In total, state lawmakers abandoned their responsibility to raise up our people, build our communities and protect our precious resources, all while playing by their own set of rules, made up to benefit Read More

It's just plain wrong. Period.

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North Carolina's GOP leaders chose fat cats over our state's children in this year's budget debate.   They are banking on the hope that you simply won't notice. We hope you will.  GOP leaders in North Carolina are slashing the budget for our public schools even as they cut taxes for wealthy lawyers and millionaires. It's one of the most revealing chapters from this year's General Assembly session. And one that perfectly illustrates the far right's misguided priorities for our state. Senate Republicans used a procedural gimmick during the recent state budget debate in order to dodge a vote on Read More

Time to take a look in the mirror

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Update: After Governor Perdue vetoed the legislation described below, both the NC Senate and the NC House voted to override her veto -- making North Carolina once again a state where the color of your skin determines whether you live or die.       We've seen some low points in North Carolina General Assembly moral leadership since it fell under the control of the far right faction of the GOP, but we truly hit a new low last week when 67 Republican and five Democratic members of the NC House went on record as saying it is okay for the Read More

Dragging Our State Backwards

  Once again, North Carolina's state legislators are passing a budget that takes our state backwards. They're making deep cuts to vital public investments like public schools, community colleges, health care and infrastructure. It doesn't have to be this way. Lawmakers can make better choices about revenues and choose to align their priorities with the priorities of the people of North Carolina. Join our friends at Together NC for an upcoming action in Raleigh to demonstrate that the legislature's state budget takes our state back in time by registering here:    http://togethernc.org/backwards-budget-5k/.    Together NC will provide T-shirts and refreshments. We Read More

Thom Tillis Under Fire

Video courtesy of the Civitas Institute Read More

For Immediate Release Contact: Gerrick Brenner Phone: 919-452-2248 May 17, 2012 Tillis Should Pay Disgraced Staffers Out of His Own Pocket   RALEIGH -- Progress North Carolina today called on NC House Speaker Thom Tillis to reimburse the state for money paid to two former staffers who resigned in disgrace after admitting to inappropriate romantic relationships with lobbyists. It is an improper use of taxpayers' money to give an extra month's salary for no work, when both employees could have been fired for cause."Thom Tillis has betrayed the taxpayers' trust once again," said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director of Progress NC. Read More

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Lawmakers will be back in session on Wednesday and they are staring at a $750 MILLION HOLE in North Carolina's K-12 public school budget. The Chairman of the State Board of Education knows we're in trouble. School superintendents know we're in trouble. Parents and students know their schools are in trouble. Even the media knows our schools are in trouble. All of these are reasons why Gov. Perdue devoted much of her budget this year to trying to save our schools. Despite this consensus that our school system is in peril, GOP leaders continue to insist that they added classroom staff last year, rather than cutting the Read More

Let's make some noise!

Do you ever get the feeling that politicians in Raleigh aren't listening to the people of North Carolina? It may be time to make it plain the people will be heard... Please join Progress NC and our allies at the General Assembly on May 16 -- the opening day of this year's legislative session -- for a rally that lawmakers can't ignore. Bring your own pot and utensil of choice and be prepared to make some noise. Think of it as a way to kick off the legislative session with a literal bang. Think of it as a time to Read More

Confused about the proposed amendment to the NC Constitution? This will help. DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THIS LIST TO DISTRIBUTE. You may have heard it called the Defense of Marriage Act, the anti-gay marriage bill or simply Amendment One. All of these names refer to the one amendment you will be asked to vote on when you cast your ballot for candidates on May 8. It will look like what you see to the left. If you are not sure if you should vote for or against it, one thing you can do is look over this list of some Read More

Spineless Tillis Avoids Special Session

Progress North Carolina today released the following statement regarding NC House Speaker Thom Tillis' failure to attend today's legislative special session:   "Plummeting approval ratings and protests against an 'Out of Control' legislature must be getting to Speaker Tillis, because he did not even bother to show up for today's special session," said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director of Progress North Carolina. "Last session, he kicked out citizen demonstrators from the General Assembly. Then he spent the next two months refusing to meet with opponents. Today he decided to just stay home rather than face the people."   Today was a Read More

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Join us on Monday, April 23rd as legislators reconvene for yet another "special session."  Let them know it's time for lawmakers to stop seeing themselves as so "special" and to conduct themselves in an open and transparent way that respects the people's right to know and does not waste taxypayer dollars!    When: Monday, April 23, 2012 @ 11:00 AM until approx. 12:30 PM   Where: NC General Assembly Building Front Lawn, 16 W. Jones Street,  Raleigh, NC  27601   RSVP here   We hope to see you there!   Read More

What we'll learn... from Pat's return:

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Dear fellow North Carolinians,   Today is Tax Day in America. It's probably not your favorite day. It's not our favorite day, either. But we are going to ask you to do one more thing for North Carolina today, beyond paying your fair share. Please email GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory and ask him to release his tax returns to the public.   The President and Vice President released their tax returns. The Republican candidate for President released his return. The major Democratic candidates running for Governor released their returns. But Pat McCrory just keeps stonewalling. What's he hiding? Who pays for Pat? Read More

Why we fight

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Progress North Carolina fights to preserve many things that make NC great. But no issue has been more important to us then the battle to save public education in our state. Under the guise of fiscal responsibility, the far right has attacked our public schools by ramming through devastating budget cuts and turning our teachers into public villains. In doing so, they have attacked the heart of what makes North Carolina great. Progress NC has responded by fighting back on-the-ground, in the media, online and in the halls of state government. Why do we fight so hard? Here's why:   Read More

Propaganda on wheels falls flat

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A mobile billboard is probably the safest place for the wild claim that the state budget actually added teachers. Before someone can corner the gypsy accountant with the real numbers -- like the fact that there are 915 fewer teachers and 2,045 fewer teaching assistants in North Carolina's classrooms this year -- the wheels are rolling, the bullet points are blurry and back on the road, and people are left to scratch their heads. Soccer moms have to switch lanes. They don't have time to look closer. Art Pope probably likes it that way. So after dumping half a Read More

  A new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research released today indicates North Carolina has lost its leadership position on Pre-K. State lawmakers cut the program by 20% last year and are contemplating further cuts and restrictions this year. We know where lawmakers stand on Pre-K, but now is the time for the gubernatorial candidates to weigh in.   NC Pre-K as we know it is clearly in danger, yet the gubernatorial candidates have been strangely quiet on the subject.   The major Democratic candidates Dalton, Etheridge and Faison have been critical of Republican cuts to education, Read More

On the road again:

Ever since our founding, Progress North Carolina has been determined to represent all areas of our state, from the mountains to the shore. That's one reason why we have spent much of our time traveling to towns throughout NC, protesting cuts to public education (that's us in Lexington, at right, on a very windy day, meeting allies from a previous town hall rally); advocating for progressive issues; and supporting North Carolinians as they fight to preserve their rights (below, we joined Women Organizing for Wilmington and Planned Parenthood on April 2nd for a rally to protest the recent attack on women's healthcare by Read More

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As Progress NC previously reported, the TV ads sponsored by the extreme conservative groups Americans for Prosperity and the Civitas Institute are full of lies and distortions about the effect of the 2011 state budget on education. The Charlotte Observer called the NC Real Solutions ads "egregious" as they deny the plainly obvious cuts to education dictated by this budget.    Conservatives know that their cuts to education are terribly unpopular and this is their attempt to muddy the waters. They aren't fooling anyone.   Apparently -- having convinced no one with their spin -- the conservative attack machine is Read More

  Keep an eye on Raleigh: Ever since the far right took control of North Carolina's General Assembly, their close ties to corporate interests have been all too evident in the bills they have chosen to file. They have tried to dismantle environmental protections and billboard regulations and attacked consumer rights. When the short session begins in May, expect more of the same, including three very real threats to your health and to your pocketbook. Summaries of these issues appear here. We urge you to keep an eye out for these issues and to demand state-level candidates address them during this year's Read More

Figures lie, liars figure

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The new AFP/Civitas TV ad claims the state budget "added funding for 2,000 more teachers." That is a blatant lie. There are 915 fewer teachers this year, than last. If the Republican-led budget was so great, why didn't they claim they were funding 2,000 more teachers last summer when they passed the budget?   Instead, Republicans claimed they "fully funded every teacher position." Another lie, but also a far cry from 2,000 more teachers.   The truth is that AFP/Civitas is engaged in a blatant misuse of statistics. They cite a spreadsheet from the Department of Public Instruction created in January Read More

Keep an eye on your health and on your pocketbook -- both are on the line in Raleigh this year Ever since the far right took control of North Carolina's General Assembly, their close ties to corporate interests have been all too evident in the bills they have chosen to file -- notably the dismantling of environmental protections and regulations governing billboards and the blatant attacks on consumer rights. When the short session begins in May, expect more of the same. Instead of concentrating on creating jobs or fixing our underfunded educational system, it is likely the GOP-led General Assembly Read More

Amendment One: 10 facts you need to know

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The proposed amendment to the NC Constitution in its entirety:   "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only  domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."           NEW: Download a summary of people and groups against the amendment and a flyer you can distribute at the polls.   Facts about this amendment you should know: 1.      This amendment is not needed to prevent gay marriage: there is already an NC law forbidding gay marriage. 2.      This amendment bars the state from recognizing any legal domestic union other than marriage, including partnerships between unmarried men and women.    Read More

The far right shame game comes to NC

For months, we've noticed a growing willingness on the part of far right lawmakers to implement government policies that reflect their ultra-conservative view of women. We've seen it happen here in North Carolina and on the national stage. Efforts have been mounted to limit access to contraception, to cut programs that provide vital healthcare to women and to cripple Pre-K and other programs near and dear to women's hearts. This week, the New Hanover County Commission even turned down nearly $9,000 in no-strings-attached federal money because it was going to be used for contraception, with Chair Ted Stevens saying, "If Read More

Stop the repeal of the estate tax!

The Revenue Laws Study Committee of the NC General Assembly is meeting at 9:30 AM on Wednesday, March 7th and one of the items on their agenda is whether or not to repeal North Carolina's estate tax. Repeal of this tax would rob the state of $80 million in revenues ANNUALLY while benefiting ONLY those people inheriting estates worth $3.5 million in the case of individuals or $7 million for an estate left by a couple. In other words, repeal of this tax would benefit less than half of North Carolina's 1% while slashing tens of millions of dollars badly Read More

Progress NC told you this week how a NC House committee was proposing to privatize NC Pre-K classrooms and redefine "at-risk" to severely limit the number of kids eligible for NC Pre-K. But after the meeting today, Committee members have backed off their proposals -- a victory, at least for the moment.    After hundreds of parents, educators and other citizens -- including hundreds on the Progress NC email list -- contacted Committee members, and after State Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow Co.) inexplicably argued, "We have nobody in the state of North Carolina living in extreme poverty," the Committee backed Read More

Here we go again....

Speaker of the NC House... inaccuate campaign finance reports... close industry ties... conflicts of interest and murky donor information... No, it's not 2006, and we're not talking about Democratic House leader Jim Black. We're talking about Republican House leader Thom Tillis. A new report from Democray North Carolina shows that Tillis received substantial donations from 28 donors and two political action committees with ties to the consumer finance industry, whose fees and interest rates are regulated by the General Assembly. Despite being called out on it, Tillis failed to disclose these industry ties when it came to a number of donors Read More

Will you stand up for NC's teachers?

These are tough times to be an educator. North Carolina's public school teachers haven't had a raise in four years, thousands of teachers and teaching assistants were laid off last year despite lawmaker's promises that no classroom staff would be cut, and now they find themselves as the lightning rod for far right efforts to dismantle the public education system. Teachers are being blamed for everything from only caring about their jobs and not caring about the children to lower test scores and budget woes. For a profession that requires long hours in exchange for a modest salary, this kind Read More

Have you become a second class citizen in NC?

On Feb. 16th, a coalition of North Carolinians from all walks of life converged on the General Assembly Building on the first day of yet another costly "special session." They were there to attend a peaceful rally that called attention to the regressive policies of current legislative leaders as well as their out-of-control behavior. Following the rally, attendees quietly lined a public hallway on the second floor of the main legislative building. It was their way of respectfully letting lawmakers know that the people of North Carolina were watching. Within minutes, after being alerted by NC House Speaker Thom Tillis's staff, Read More

Don't let a handful of lawmakers sell out NC's children to private school interests   The 2012 General Assembly session has not yet begun but already we are looking at a proposal that would open the door to privatization of North Carolina's public schools. With no input from education experts or local school leaders, an NC House committee has recommended that all Pre-K classrooms in North Carolina be privatized. They have also recommended that eligibility be limited to families making less than $22k a year. This move would leave thousands and thousands of NC children who are hovering just above Read More

Wilmington Star News: Smart move by Perdue on preschool funding   Preschool education programs have proven their worth, in North Carolina and elsewhere. And now Gov. Beverly Perdue has reshuffled the state budget to serve another 2,000 children in a program whose funding was slashed by the General Assembly. Good for her. ...   Under the current state definition, that's any child whose family income is less than $39,000 per year, or 75 percent of the state's median income. A Republican-led legislative committee proposes to reduce eligibility to families at or below the poverty level, which is around $22,000 for Read More

          Both are middle-aged white guys with short hair and big egos with a penchant for ejecting citizens who disagree with them. Read More

NCGA Polling Project Wrap-up

Candidate filing for 2012 begins this week and so Progress North Carolina has finished our series of polls in swing legislative districts. The results of the project are clear: there is a significant anti-legislative and anti-incumbent mood throughout North Carolina and in swing districts.   In every district we polled the NC General Assembly had a dismal approval rating, and a plurality of voters would choose "someone else" over their incumbent.   Here is the complete wrap-up memo: 120213 Polling Project Memo.pdf Read More

NCGA Polling: S-17

  According to a new poll conducted on behalf of Progress North Carolina, NC Senate District 17 could be very competitive this fall. The poll is part of a series of surveys designed to answer the question: "Can progressives retake the NC General Assembly?"   According to the survey, incumbent Republican Senator Richard Stevens would be in a statistical tie with a hypothetical challenger, Democratic Mayor of Cary Harold Weinbrecht, 40%-39%.   A plurality of respondents (44%) indicated they would rather choose someone else, than vote to reelect Senator Stevens, while only 35% were committed to voting for the incumbent.  Read More

                      As you know, Progress North Carolina is determined to make sure that our state lawmakers never again pull another unethical midnight legislative session like they did on January 5th. That's why we have joined forces with a coalition of good government groups to make sure it never happens again.      This week, Progress NC and our allies invite you to a series of informative Out-of-Control Tour town hall meetings in Fayetteville, Asheville and Winston-Salem. These teach-ins are designed to let North Carolinians know exactly who was behind the midnight session, why Read More

After 1993 total votes, Brad Miller and Erskine Bowles have topped Progress NC's next governor survey. Brad Miller got the highest vote total with 504 votes. Bowles came in second place with 442 votes. Neither candidates have official thrown his hat into the ring, though Brad Miller is still considering it.   Of the announced candidates, Walter Dalton place highest with 179 votes, good for 12% and 3rd place. Pat McCrory got 5.5% (7th place), Bob Etheridge has 5% (9th place) and Bill Faison 2% (14th place).   Cal Cunningham led the write-in votes with 8. Jim Neal and Josh Read More

NCGA Polling: H-80 Republican Primary

  H-80 Republican Primary   In a Republican primary, would you vote to re-elect your state representative, Jerry Dockham, or choose someone else?   32% Jerry Dockham 38% Someone else 30% Not sure         If the Republican primary election were held today, and the candidates were Representative Jerry Dockahm or challenger and public school teacher Christy Jones, who would you vote for?    35% Jerry Dockham 26% Christy Jones 39% Not sure         Complete results here: HD80Results.pdf   Read More

  Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.     We'll announce the results next week!   Read More

Barbarians at the Gate

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 Sign our petition to thank Governor Perdue for standing up to the far right in North Carolina. For the past year, North Carolinians have been under siege from an angry mob of bullies financed by powerful faraway sources. The only thing standing between us and them has been a 110-pound blonde gatekeeper who has held them off all by herself, not with a sword, but with a pen. Yesterday, that gatekeeper, Governor Bev Perdue, announced that she would not seek re-election. She was, in effect laying down her sword.   Yes, she has her detractors on both sides. Many people Read More

Not that we were expecting Gov. Perdue to accept anyway, but Sen. Berger's proposal is not in good faith.    In a press conference this afternoon, Senate leader Phil Berger says that Gov. Perdue's recent campaign to raise the sales tax 3/4 of a cent to pay for education is one sided. Berger says a public debate between himself and the governor would help folks compare both sides of the issue.   We are all for fair and honest debate, but that's not what Sen. Berger is proposing. He's looking to score political points and demagogue.   Both Berger and Read More

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We here at Progress North Carolina were curious about this business of voting on an amendment to our state constitution. Has it been done before? How often? Do the voters tend to approve proposed amendments -- or do they reject them with the viciousness of a Tarheel center schooling a Duke point guard in the finer points of the pick and roll?   The answers to these burning questions will follow in a future post because, well, frankly, we got lost in the sheer sturdy historical incomprehensibility of our state constitution, last revised in 1971 but smelling distinctly of 1885 Read More

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Today is the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Progress North Carolina is joining other bloggers across the nation in standing up for the broader right of women to decide when and if they have children. The far right in North Carolina has enthusiastically jumped on a national band wagon to not only take away a woman's right to choose, but to limit her access to contraception. (See the chart below for a scary summary of this movement.)   By taking away our family planning options, they are taking away our right to control our own lives. They are imposing their fundamentalist Read More

Amendment One: Let's Debate It With Dignity

Yesterday marked the start of a campaign to urge North Carolinians to oppose an amendment to our state constitution scheduled for a statewide vote this spring. Some people call it the "the anti-gay marriage amendment" and even the "anti-gay referendum."  Others call it "the marriage discrimination amendment."  To make things simple, we call it Amendment One as it will be the first (and only) amendment on the ballot.    Amendment One has the potential to change our state forever, first because of the fallout from the passionate debate surrounding it and, secondly, from the legal implications of its wording. That's why we Read More

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Yesterday marked the start of a campaign to urge North Carolinians to oppose an amendment to our state constitution that will be put to a statewide vote this spring. Some people call it the "the anti-gay marriage amendment" and even the "anti-gay referendum."  Others call it "the marriage discrimination amendment."  To make things simple, we call it Amendment One as it will be the first and, likely, only amendment on the ballot. Supporters of this amendment have already been pushing its passage to their sometimes rabid supporters. Yesterday, opponents of Amendment One began their campaign of facts, not phobias.   Amendment One Read More

Can we ever lead again on PreK?

According to the AP, expansion of PreK programs around the country has slowed.   The expansion in public prekindergarten programs has slowed and even been reversed in some states as school districts cope with shrinking budgets. As a result, many 3- and 4-year-olds aren't going to preschool.   For years, North Carolina was a national leader on PreK. But as our budget shrunk so did our commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable students.    My question is: When the economy turns around, will we continue to be a leader on PreK or have our values changed?    North Carolina Read More

  Progress North Carolina's polling project continues in Cumberland County. There are two very tight contests.         S-19 Results   If the election was today would you vote to reelect your state senator, Republican Wesley Meredith, or choose someone else?   33% Wesley Meredith 45% Someone else 21% Not sure        If the election were held today, would you vote for incumbent Senator Wesley Meredith or Democratic challenger and current NC representative Diane Parfitt?   37% Wesley Meredith 40% Diane Parfit 23% Not sure   Complete results: SD19Results.pdf        H-45 Results   If there was an election for the state Read More

North Carolina mega-donor and rightwing cash machine Art Pope will be facing off against Chris Kromm of The Institute for Southern Studies (and publisher of www.artpopeexposed.com) this Sunday, January 15, at 3:00 PM for a 2-hour radio special on 106.1 FM, Raleigh. The show is hosted by Phyllis Coley and Gary Jones of Spectacular Magazine. You can call in questions to the show at 919-860-1061! Read More

Are you in the Fracking Zone?

Pending legislation to allow "fracking" (drilling for natural gas through hydraulic fracturing) in NC does not restrict drilling to a designated zone -- and maps from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources show that the areas likely to hold natural gas deposits are all over the Triangle and Piedmont areas, including two-thirds of Durham County, Western Wake County and new housing developments in Cary.   Fracking has been definitively linked to contaminated ground water and earthquakes: learn more here and take a look at the statewide map to see if you live in a fracking zone and are Read More

North Carolina's conversation about "fracking" (drilling for natural gas through hydraulic fracturing) has been limited to areas of Lee, Moore, and Chatham Counties. But the legislation pending in the North Carolina General Assembly does not restrict drilling to a designated "fracking zone."  And get a load of this map below from the North Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources. The shaded areas in green identify "Triassic Rift Basins," areas likely to hold natural gas deposits. They suggest potential for natural gas deposits all over the Triangle and Piedmont area of North Carolina. Two-thirds of Durham County appears to be in the fracking Read More

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Last week, through my sister, I learned that a friend of hers in Raleigh had lost his little shepherd mutt named Mocha. Rick and Mocha are inseparable and his friends knew he'd never be the same if they couldn't find her. As the days unfolded, person after person joined in the search to bring Mocha home. They gave up their evenings after work to search for her and they spread the word on social media to keep an eye out for a shy, fearful dog unlikely to come to anyone who called her. A sighting of Mocha at a specific Read More

NCGA Polling: S-15, H-115

Progress North Carolina's polling project continues in the Northern Wake Senate District 15 and Buncombe County House District 115.         S-15 Results   If the election was today would you vote to reelect your state senator, Republican Neal Hunt, or choose someone else?   40% Neal Hunt 48% Someone else 12% Not sure        If the election were held today, would you vote for incumbent Senator Neal Hunt or Democratic challenger and civic leader Jill Gammon?   43% Neal Hunt 39% Jill Gammon 18% Not sure Complete results: SD15Results.pdf       H-115 Results   If Read More

Below are the results for the first of a series of legislative district polls, conducted for Progress North Carolina, that will test whether progressives can retake control of the NC General Assembly in 2012. Over the next two weeks, we will be testing swing districts across the state.   In the first survey, we tested House Democrat Jim Crawford in a potential Democratic primary campaign. Key findings:         In a Democratic primary, would you vote to re-elect your state representative, Jim Crawford, or choose someone else?   39% Jim Crawford 41% Someone else 20% Not sure     Read More

STATEWIDE POLL: NC General Assembly's Approval Tanks, Majority Think Midnight Vote was Inappropriate RALEIGH - A new survey of likely voters conducted over the weekend for Progress North Carolina shows the North Carolina General Assembly's approval rating tumbling to a dismal 16%. In addition, 65% of respondents said it was inappropriate to vote on legislation in the middle of the night. "North Carolina voters are not happy with lawmakers who are out of control," said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director of Progress NC. "Taking key votes while some Democrats were sick or in the hospital is unethical and voters are saying it Read More

Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer Read More

Tillis: "Power is a corrupting influence"

Hear it straight from the horse's mouth - er - website:   Prior to 2010, our state had a disturbing trend of political corruption, with numerous political leaders being prosecuted for abusing their office. I believe power is a corrupting influence... And Tillis had this to say to the AP in March:   "We're living up to our commitment to be more transparent," said House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg.   I think teachers, progressives, good government advocates and editorial boards around North Carolina would disagree with that statement today. From the Wilmington Star-News:   So this is what Republicans meant Read More

  Help us draw a line in the sand. Restore decency to our legislature. Join us on Facebook or Twitter. Not displaying correctly?View it in your browser.       Last night, lawmakers in Raleigh showed an unprecedented disregard for both democracy and basic human decency.    They took advantage of family tragedy and serious illness to circumvent the legislative process. They were bitter about Governor Perdue's veto of several bills. They were angry at teachers who had dared to stand up for the truth about dramatic cuts to schools. And last night, in the dead of night, the GOP House leaders sought Read More

Pack your bags and go home

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What happened in Raleigh last night proves that the leadership of the NC House is unworthy of serving the people of North Carolina. January 5, 2012 will go down as a sad day for North Carolina. It will be remembered as the day that leaders of our state government met in the dark of the night to elude public scrutiny and then shut down debate by their opposition in an attempt to ram their extremist agenda through our state house with as few people participating or watching as possible.   This is not democracy and it is not conduct becoming Read More

Farewell to 2011:

  2011 is gone, and for many North Carolinians it's not a moment too soon. It will go down as the year in which a new extremist state legislature made an almost endless series of divisive, ideological decisions which could drag our state back decades if not corrected soon. From education, to the environment, to women's rights and voting rights -- their agenda is a race to the bottom and a road map to 1950, not 2050. As for the economy, their slash and burn budget cut thousands of jobs and has not created any new ones.    Fortunately, 2011 was Read More

The Year in Review: 2011

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2011 is coming to a close, and for many North Carolinians it's not a moment too soon. It will go down as the year in which a new extremist state legislature made an almost endless series of divisive, ideological decisions which could drag our state back decades if not corrected soon. From education, to the environment, to women's rights and voting rights -- their agenda is a race to the bottom and a road map to 1950, not 2050. As for the economy, their slash and burn budget cut thousands of jobs and has not created any new ones.    Fortunately, Read More

News last week from Speaker Tillis' office is that hearings on education budget cuts with local superintendents could start as early as February. For months, Speaker Tillis has toured the state saying lawmakers fully funded teachers and that superintendents who laid off teachers would have a chance to "explain themselves" at hearings in Raleigh.   In the meantime, Tillis has had no problem blaming superintendents for the layoffs - and not the $400+ million cut from the state education budget.   Here are a few predictions about the hearings, whenever they do happen.     The Mooresville Graded School District Read More

Renee Ellmers tries to spin a muddled mess:

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  Rep. Renee Ellmers Tries to Spin a Muddled Mess    What on Earth is she talking about? Conferee? Doc Fix? Progress NC has managed to crack the code of the DC double-speak. Our staff experts in "dialects of the 1%" have provided sub-titles to explain why the House GOP wants to raise payroll taxes on working families come Jan. 1st.   Read More

The grinches who stole Christmas for NC:

  Despite intense lobbying by their own leaders and months of compromise that resulted in a rare bipartisan senate landslide vote, four Congressional Republicans from NC refused to support the payroll tax cut extension in the U.S. House. When your taxes go up on January 1st -- thank Renee Ellmers and three other members of NC's GOP delegation.   For the names and contact info of the Reps who refused to support the extension, click here.   Read More

How the GOP Stole Christmas:

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When your taxes go up on January 1st -- thank Renee Ellmers and three other members of the GOP Congressional delegation. They stopped the payroll tax cut extension just in time for the holidays. Here is Ellmers trying to put a positive spin on what they did.   Here are the names and contact info for the Reps who stonewalled the extension in case you'd like to let them know how you feel:Renee Ellmers, 2nd district: Phone (202) 225-4531 or email her at http://ellmers.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=3&sectiontree=3 Virginia Foxx, 5th district: Phone (202) 225-2071 or email her at http://foxx.house.gov/contact/ Sue Wilkins Myrick, 9th district: Phone Read More

A huge day in U.S. history:

  by Progress NC Executive Director Gerrick Brenner   The contrast was surprising.  Overnight, the first pictures came down from the Associated Press and others:    The last U.S. troops were rumbling through gates at the border of Kuwait.  Our military was finally leaving Iraq.  The pictures were simple but amazing.  This was finally, actually happening.   North Carolina is a key military state.  Former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld called Fort Bragg "the tip of the spear."  295 Marines from Camp Lejeune died in Iraq.  North Carolina residents support our military, as we very much should.           Read More

This Week in NC: December 15, 2011

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  The big news out of NC this week is that Gov. Perdue vetoed a bill that would have repealed last year's Racial Justice Act, which allows death row inmates to have their sentences converted to life in prison if they can prove that racial bias played a role in their sentencing. Because the NC House does not have enough support to override the Governor's veto, it is likely that the Racial Justice Act will stay in place (although it is equally likely that Paul Stamm will attempt another grandstanding parliamentary maneuver). We are not sure why conservative lawmakers ignored Read More

Thom Tillis: The Next Great Baker?

"I'm not convinced that you have to create a bigger pie to get a bigger slice. I think it's how you move it around and get it to the areas that will have the most impact." - Thom Tillis   That's Tillis' latest explanation for his stance on funding for early childhood education. He wants more money for early childhood, but wants it to come from the older K-12 grades. In Tillis' mind, schools have plenty of money, they just need to slice the pie differently.   Of course, that ignores the fact that the pie actually got smaller this Read More

They'll be home for Christmas:

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President Obama marked the end of the Iraq War this week at Fort Bragg, ending a 8-year war that sent a million troops to Iraq, with 4,500 of them making the ultimate sacrifice (202 of them from North Carolina).    Hundreds of armed forces personnel are now heading home in time for a holiday reunion with their loved ones. But many other North Carolinians remain on active duty in Afghanistan and other far corners of the world.   If you'd like to reach out to them and thank them, visit this North Carolina-based nonprofit, Give 2 the Troops, which will Read More

Apparently, arrogance is universal.

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  All this week, I have been following a remarkable series of reports from BBC reporter Martin Patience, who is holed up in an obscure fishing village called Wukan, located in southern China's Guangdong province. Apparently, the people of Wukan have taken up rakes, hoes and bamboo sticks to protest corrupt local officials who have seized their land without adequate compensation. The latest protest began when one of the villagers' representatives -- sent to negotiate with local officials -- died in government custody. Five other people have disappeared in recent months. The people of Wukan have now taken it upon Read More

Tillis "clarifies" his stance on NC Pre-K

At a town hall in Pittsboro on Monday night, Thom Tillis "clarified" his comments on NC Pre-K and early childhood development. Earlier Tillis had indicated he was in favor of more resources for Pre-K. On Monday he set the record straight (Tillis starts around 1:25):     The cliff-notes version is that Tillis says he's in favor of more resources for early childhood education as long as he doesn't have to raise any new revenue for it. He's even in favor or shifting money from older K-12 grades into early childhood. Not sure how's that going to be helpful.   Read More

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Here's a Heisman Trophy you don't want to win: Progress NC has announced the winner of its 2011 Jones Street Heisman Trophy for penalty-worthy conduct on the political playing field. You can see all of the nominees here in full football regalia or view the winners here. The people have spoken!   It was an easy win for this year's winners... but we wonder just how many more victories they have left in them?   Read More

And the winner is.....

  Infamous "Gang of Five" Wins 2011 Jones Street Heisman! RALEIGH, DECEMBER 12, 2011 -- Progress NC announced today that the "Gang of Five" House Democrats have won the 2011 Jones Street Heisman by an overwhelming margin. The final tally, including votes online and via email, show the Gang of Five garnering 50% of the vote. The Gang of Five dashed offsides to vote with the Republican majority to pass a state budget that slashed education and Medicaid services, among other things, and have drawn the ire of progressives throughout North Carolina.  Already, two of the five have announced their retirements from Read More

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And the winner is...... click here to learn who won our 2011 Jones Street Heisman... . . . . . . . . December 8, 2011 Six Nominated for the Jones Street Heisman Trophy Please visit our Facebook page to vote for the winner, or email us at admin@progressnc.org with your choice!  Raleigh -- Progress NC today announced the six finalists for the 2011 Jones Street Heisman Trophy. The Jones Street Heisman is given each year to the politician(s) with the most outstanding example of penalty-worthy conduct on the political playing field. Whether you cheer for the Pack or Pirates, the Read More

On Tuesday Dec. 13 in Raleigh, The Institute for Southern Studies is co-hosting  Art Pope Exposed: A Community Teach-In. This free event is aimed at giving the public a better understanding of NC mega-donor Art Pope's agenda, and why he is the focus of so much controversy.   Panelists will include Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina, MaryBe McMillan of the NC AFL-CIO and Chris Kromm of The Institute for Southern Studies. The event will be held at 7 PM at the NC Association of Educators Building, located at 700 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC. You can RSVP  and learn more here.    If you can't Read More

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  NC lawmakers have added five days to the school year calendar - but did not provide any additional money to pay for these days. School districts are now scrambling to find the funds, on top of coping with budget cuts and layoffs of teachers and teaching assistants. We are at a loss as to what this style of government should be called. The last time we heard of leaders who were allowed to issue orders without worry as to how they would be fulfilled, they were called "Kings" and we're not ready to crown those people in Raleigh just Read More

This Week in North Carolina:

  What a week it was - NC lawmakers puts suds over students, issued autocratic commands to school districts statewide, looked the other way when NC's Medicaid program came up short and are now doing the Hokey Pokey over early childhood education. No wonder the Gang of Five has been whittled down to the Gang of Three.   Grab a micro-brew from your newly-legal brand name beer garden and learn more here.   Read More

Lessons Learned From a Tillis Town Hall

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Attending an NC House Speaker Tom Tillis Town Hall is a great way to get to know more about the hearts and minds of ordinary North Carolinians. In following Tillis around the state to educate people on the effects of budget cuts on our public school system, Progress NC has also been monitoring these town halls to see what the people of North Carolina care about. Here are a few things we have observed:   We are not as far apart as we think. Yes, politicians speak very differently on issues. Yes, extremists may disagree violently with you. But I Read More

Two news clips this morning caught my eye.   First, Thom Tillis at his town hall meeting last night reiterated his belief that we need more funding for early childhood education. This isn't the first time he's said this.   Second, WRAL reports Republican lawmakers have backed down from their promise to "find the money" to patch a $139 million Medicaid shortfall.   Chris Fitzsimon at NC Policy Watch, noted that lawmakers sounded much more concerned with Medicaid recipients in a public setting, than behind closed doors:   The budget writers ignored the warnings and ordered Cansler to make the Read More

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What was so special about that 8 PM on Sunday special session? Not much. The General Assembly raced back to Raleigh essentially to not stop an impending hike in the gasoline tax. Expect your gas costs to go up by four cents a gallon in January. They also voted to repeal NC's Racial Justice Act, which the GOP has been targeting for two years. NC will now be able to resume sending black inmates to Death Row at a higher rate than white inmates without fear of their death sentences being converted to life in prison. After striking this blow Read More

This week in North Carolina:

What happened in our fine state this week? Think rising gasoline prices to make your post-holiday blahs even worse.... a not-so-special session of the General Assembly... a death blow to the concept of "equal justice for all"... another stupid rightwing idea takes a court hit for violating the Constitution... a trio of campaign indictments pretty much puts everyone to sleep.... and conservative NC lawmakers finally release federal healthcare reform money held hostage longer than Patty Hearst was. Learn more and learn it fast here. Read More

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The holidays are tough when you're struggling to pay for everyday expenses like food, medicine or a heating bill. If you know someone in this situation, you might want to tell them about the AARP Foundation's Benefits QuickLINK. This online tool matches eligible people with benefits programs in every county in the country, including here in NC. You do not have to be a member of the AARP to use it. After a private and secure Benefits QuickLINK questionnaire is completed, Benefits QuickLINK will provide information about qualifications and official forms needed to enroll in various programs. Make the holidays brighter for someone in need. Visit www.aarp.org/quicklink with Read More

This week in North Carolina:

A curious 8 PM special session of the North Carolina legislature has been called for Sunday night after the Thanksgiving holiday, causing some people to speculate about its purpose. If you're curious to know how much all of these special sessions are costing you as a taxpayer, the estimate is $150,000 a day.   The failure of the so-called Super Committee to come up with a plan to cut the national deficit means that the military will have to absorb $500 billion in automatic cuts over the next 10-12 years. Combined with other mandated cuts, a total of $1 trillion Read More

What should North Carolina be thankful for?

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To all our friends, Happy Thanksgiving from Progress North Carolina!   We think the Tar Heel State is the best place in the world to live and raise a family, but that distinction isn't a fluke. This Thanksgiving Week, Progress North Carolina would like to take a minute and give thanks for things that make North Carolina so great!   We are thankful for teachers. Teachers of all kinds teach us and our children how to learn, how to achieve and how to dream. They deserve gratitude and respect. We are thankful for the beauty and natural resources of our Read More

The dangers of stealth legislating

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Demonstrators took to the streets last Monday night in Alabama to protest a new highly punitive immigration law that is wreaking havoc with civil rights and local law enforcement budgets. Meanwhile, word comes from conservative lawmakers in Alabama that the bill causing so much trouble was introduced at the last minute after a 6-hour filibuster, with no time to review the bill, and presented in a way that would make it appear lawmakers were supporting illegal immigration had they voted against it. Some Republicans are now reconsidering their vote and looking for a way to repeal the bill introduced by Read More

This is too much and way out of touch....

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Super Committee discussions about how to trim the nation's budget deficit ground to a halt this week because conservative Republicans refused to compromise on changes to the tax code --  they  will not agree to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for upper income citizens and they are demanding Democrats agree to a plan that would actually LOWER tax rates for millionaires even more.   Yes, in the face of Occupy protests involving millions of Americans willing to take to the streets because of economic inequality in our country -- inequality that is bringing tens of thousands of families to Read More

Drinking the Kool-Aid

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Staying married has its dangers. Off the top of our heads -- and this is purely at random, mind you, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the inability of lawmakers to address NC's real problems -- all of these things can threaten a marriage: the loss of a job and resulting money troubles, a chronic medical condition and no health insurance, destitute in-laws whose Medicaid benefits have been cut, children who are miserable because their schools lack the resources to address their learning needs, and restrictive abortion laws that shame and punish women for making the gut-wrenching decision to Read More

Tea Party Pat to the Rescue

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Governor wannabee Pat McCrory is the Sally Kirkland of NC politics. If there's an event, he's there. If there's a photo op, he's there. And if there's a Tea Party brownie point to be had, he's really there, making a  splash and hoping to score future votes.   Witness the case of the robo-call he made for an unqualified Wake County School Board Tea Party candidate who touted her financial acumen, despite having declared personal bankruptcy, and claimed she had amassed "vast managerial experience" over the course of her career... a career consisting solely of stints as a small business loan Read More

Drawing the Line at the Truth

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In case you have not noticed, our country is in a mess. Gridlock in Washington has crippled our ability to address the monumental economic problems we're facing. How did this happen?   It happened because more voters than ever are choosing candidates based on who they claim to be, rather than who they are.   It happened because we, as voters, are accepting, without question, the claims of candidates, party spin doctors and elected officials when they tell us what we want to hear. We now vote for the promises they make, whether realistic or not, rather than how qualified Read More

Undercover Bother

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These are exciting times for Progress NC -- we had our first far right undercover operative attempt to entrap us in a video sting last night. For an organization that has only been around for three months, it's rather flattering.    I was standing outside the Morrisville Thom Tillis Town Hall meeting with our Pink Slip Truth Tour display, talking to people about the classroom job cuts made necessary by our state's latest budget, when a shadowy figure (well, more like a sturdy figure) in a camouflage jacket came up and introduced himself as a newcomer to North Carolina who Read More

Holding yourself to a lower standard:

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NC House Representative Justin Burr is a snappy guy, or at least snappy so far as NC legislators go. He's younger than most and, face it guys, he's a heck of a lot thinner and still has all his hair. So we can understand why he's into Brooks Brothers suits. He looks good in them. But what we can't understand is why the heck it's legal for him to use campaign funds to buy those Brooks Brothers suits -- or why NC State Board of Elections Chair Gary Bartlett agrees with him that it's okay.   Is this really wise, gentlemen? Read More

The John Locke Foundation is trying to use a technical report from the NC Office of State Budget and Management to claim that state budget wasn't as bad as people thought. They claim only 1,629 state jobs were lost. "Not 20,000 or 30,000, as Gov. Bev Perdue and other Democrats (and liberal advocacy groups) claimed," writes Rick Henderson of the Carolina Journal.   Thom Tillis has made the same argument during his town hall tour.    This argument is inaccurate and misleading.   First, estimates of 20,000 jobs lost were made BEFORE a compromise budget that secured the votes of Read More

NC women talking to other NC women:

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Trust Women NC, a new nonpolitical organization devoted to raising the level of conversation about women's issues in North Carolina, held launch parties in Raleigh and Chapel Hill recently that drew a diverse range of primarily professional women from a range of industries as well as academic, nonprofit and political backgrounds. Trust Women NC's goal is to create opportunities for women to meet with other women in a nonpartisan and relaxed setting that allows them to discuss the issues that affect their lives. They are inviting women from all across North Carolina to participate in their house party campaign and have Read More

I'll let the words speak for themselves:   It's time for the Republican legislators to stop deluding themselves about the adequacy of their funding of public education. They did not protect classroom instruction when they cut $350 million from the state education budget this year. They did not protect the public schools as a whole and they did not just cut waste. They cut essential programs, instructional personnel and dearly needed support staff. And, if they don't come up with additional money for education in the spring, they will force schools to cut again next year... Republicans say they protected Read More

The State of Our State: November 22, 2011

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Everything you need to know about progressive issues in our state this week in 2 minutes or less:   UNC system tuitions could rise: The UNC system Board of Governors cannot agree on whether to raise tuitions for NC's public universities next year to make up for budget cuts. Half of the Board members feel it is inevitable; half do not feel it is fair to hit NC families with a higher bill during difficult times.    Get ready for a big fracking push: Campaign finance reports reveal that natural gas interests have spent $747 million in the past decade to fight federal regulation Read More

During his town hall tour, NC House Speaker Thom Tillis has a slick answer for every question, but they have little to do with reality. When asked about early childhood education, Tillis says we need more funding! But the reality is far different. Check out the evidence:   Tillis's statements raise two questions.   1. If he is so committed to increasing investments in early childhood education, why did his budget cut Smart Start and More at Four by 20%?   2. Why does he continue to ignore Judge Manning's order and Gov. Perdue's Pre-K plan? We've had four special Read More

Worst attempt at deflecting attention EVER...

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On the eve of a contentious Wake County School Board race that had her candidate floundering for weeks, Wake County GOP Chairman Susan Bryant threw out a Hail Mary media pass, hoping to distract voters with some good old-fashioned racism and a heavy dollop of whining.   Declaring that legendary 19th century North Carolinian Josephus Daniels was a racist, she called for a boycott of the newspaper he founded (Raleigh's News & Observer) and a name change for Daniels Middle School.   We're not sure why it took Bryant 75 years to figure out Daniels was a racist -- some Read More

We Honor Those Who Serve

VETERANS DAY 2011 PROGRESS NC SALUTES OUR STATE'S VETERANS FOR THEIR SERVICE Nearly 742,000 military veterans live in North Carolina. Progress North Carolina honors all of them -- and their families -- for Veterans Day. We thank them for their service and for the sacrifices they have made. We join them in mourning the friends and family members they have lost.   "There is no greater honor than to serve and be called a veteran," NC veteran Rodney Cress wrote in honor of Veterans Day for The Salisbury Post this year. He says it better than we ever could: Read More

Talk about a bully pulpit...

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Mike Hager is a first-time NC House Representative who is a big proponent of the controversial method of natural gas exploration called fracking. He's also kind of a bully. When Progress NC called local officials in his district to obtain a permit to set up our Pink Slip Truth Tour display at House Speaker Thom Tillis's upcoming Town Hall in Rutherfordton, word got back to Hager. He called us to inform us that the Rutherford County Commissioners had voted to ban us from all county grounds because then "everyone would want a picketing permit." We seriously doubted that, but we thanked Read More

Progress North Carolina Hall of Fame

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Awarded For Persistence & Due Diligence in the Face of Apathy:  Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina and Chris Kromm of Facing South North Carolina retail millionaire Art Pope and his dominant role in bankrolling the campaigns of far right candidates in NC would never have come to the attention of the media and the people of North Carolina without Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina and Chris Kromm of The Institute for Southern Studies. Well before The New Yorker and other mainstream media exposed Pope's plan to buy our state in the name of ultra-conservative policies, Bob Hall of Read More

And our first PNC Hall of Fame awards go to:

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In the past few months, a lot of attention has been focused on North Carolina millionaire Art Pope and his dominant role in bankrolling the campaigns of far right candidates in NC. The New Yorker and mainstream media have jumped on board with details of his political empire. But long before it was fashionable, two North Carolinians were working long and hard hours, tracking his donor role in state and local campaigns. Without them, no one would ever have known about Art Pope. Which is why we are awarding the first two spots in the Progress North Carolina Hall of Fame Read More

The State of Our State:

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Everything you need to know about this week in our state, told to you in 2 minutes or less: Fracking is an issue that could, literally and figuratively, tear our state apart: Oil and gas industry-backed fracking proponents in the NC legislature are gearing up to push this form of natural gas exploration as a way to create jobs and instant economic prosperity. But just a few states away in Pennsylvania, we've got a cautionary tale unfolding before our eyes, where fracking has spawned contaminated water, mysterious illnesses and some rural homesteads raking in millions from their wellheads even as Read More

John Locke Foundation turning progressive?

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Terry Stoops today posted a thoughtful blog post at The Locker Room that makes a progressive argument for promoting education over low-costs in attracting business investments. Terry says: "For those who complain about American companies moving their facilities oversees, it should be emphasized that [Steve] Jobs identified skilled and knowledgable workers, not lower production costs, as the reason why Apple located their manufacturing plant in China."   Terry must be confused. Isn't the conservative argument to support lower production costs through low taxes and right-to-work labor, while progressives argue for investments in education? Read More

The State of Our State:

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Everything you need to know about this week in our state, told to you in 2 minutes or less: Why your chick won't leave the nest: the Fair Market Rent in NC for a 2-bedroom apartment has reached $718, pricing many young people and lower income residents out of the market. Learn more here.   Redistricting maps approved by the U.S. Justice Department: NC's GOP-written new redistricting maps have been approved by the Justice Department. Expect changes in your voting districts -- and a court challenge to be filed by the Democratic Party. Learn more here.   Some other Read More

Be a hero... and dress like one, too!

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On Thursday, November 10th, NC MomsRising and Toxic Free NC members and friends will be heading over to Moore Square in Raleigh as part of a national day of action to ask our nation's Senators to be superheroes for kids and support comprehensive chemicals reform.    They're inviting everyone concerned about the environmental and health effects of chemical exposure in everyday life to join them and to wear a superhero cape. If you can't find a cape, they'll have some on hand to wear. Progress NC will be there in full regalia and we hope you'll join us! Learn more Read More

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Yesterday, I traveled to Forsyth County and attended my first Thom Tillis town hall meeting and let me tell you: it was more of an eye opener than a 16-ounce can of Red Bull. Not only were the Tillis true believers clearly of the belief that the rest of North Carolina was out to get them, 95% of them were old enough to have voted for Harry Truman and 99.9% were whiter than Pat Boone. Why the rest of us are letting this tiny slice of NC's population reverse decades of progress in our state because they fear change is Read More

Trust Women NC Debuts

A new organization devoted to women's issues in North Carolina has made its debut and is seeking women to host house parties across our state, creating opportunities for women to meet with other women on a nonpartisan and nonpolitical basis in order to discuss issues that affect them.   Trust Women NC's mission statement is "Educating, energizing and advocating for women on the issues that unite us."   Its five founders are professional women with long-ties to North Carolina: two lawyers, a CEO, a communications professional and a university professor. All are educators.   "Women like to learn from other women Read More

The Jerry Tillman Story

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Earlier today, we told you about Sen. Jerry Tillman's prediction that today's ESC report would indicate that "few, if any" teachers would lose their jobs. That prediction proved wrong and now Jerry is looking for someone to blame. From the AP: Sen. Jerry Tillman, a key GOP education budget-writer, projected earlier this month that Friday's figures would show much fewer public school classroom workers out of a job compared to the summer because they were rehired after the first few weeks of classes. At first glance, Tillman said, Friday's numbers don't appear to provide the detail about state-funded public school Read More

A Fayetteville Observer Editorial yesterday came out strongly against South Carolina's Voter ID law.  Read it here.  Key passage below:   South Carolina legislators passed a voter-ID law amid many of the same objections we heard here. After some electoral experience under the law, the state's Election Commission looked at the problem areas and found that the precincts with the biggest problems - voters not allowed to cast a ballot - were the precincts with the largest nonwhite voter population. That was especially so in precincts with large numbers of black college students.   Read More

It's one quarter into the school year and state lawmakers are still pretending that massive cuts to NC's public education budget aren't harming North Carolina's school children. The latest excuse to be disproved comes from Education Oversight Committee Co-Chair Senator Jerry Tillman of Randolph County, who defended the state budget at an October 4 meeting. Reiterating the promise that lawmakers made to protect teachers and teacher assistants -- despite evidence to the contrary -- Sen. Tillman went a step further, claiming all laid off classroom staff were being rehired and saying, "Check the ESC report that's coming out October 21st, and you Read More

Before a meeting of the Education Oversight Committee on Oct. 4, Co-Chair Senator Jerry Tillman of Randolph County defended the state budget, reiterating the promise that lawmakers made to protect teachers and teacher assistants - despite evidence to the contrary. Sen. Tillman even went a step further, claiming all the teachers that had been laid off were being rehired.   Sen. Tillman: "Check the ESC report that's coming out October 21st, and you will see that there are few if any teacher positions lost, or teacher assistants."   The NC Employment Security Commission report released today indicates 13,700 fewer government Read More

Crossing the Great Divider

  We don't know anyone who chooses to be poor. Yet, NC House Speaker Thom Tillis is convinced that poor people on public assistance made bad choices about their lives -- or worse, chose to be lazy and opportunistic. Tillis also believes that if we could convince people who are on public assistance through no "fault" of their own to turn against those who receive assistance because of circumstance, that the tide of public opinion will turn and our state could implement millions of dollars in budget cuts to those programs.   If only it were that easy. If only Read More

Kevin Siers Cartoon: Thom Tillis

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http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/10/13/2689349/speaker-tillis.html  Read More

The Thom Tillis Blame Game

Watch Speaker Thom Tillis deny he's blaming superintendents for teacher layoffs. Instead of blaming superintendents, Tillis ought to be pointing the finger at himself for cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from education, forcing superintendents to do his dirty work. Read More

Thom Tillis' 8-minute ramble

Thom Tillis, in the middle of his town hall tour, still can't get his story straight on education cuts. In Wilmington, he dodged. In Salisbury, he blamed superintendents. And Friday in Waxhaw, he came up with a whopper.   See below for Tillis' rambling 8-minute answer to a question from Union County Superintendent Ed Davis.     So let's add up all of Tillis' answers to education cuts:   1) I don't know   2) Blame superintendents   3) Reduce per pupil funding in poor performing districts 4) Sell Rex Hospital 5) Sell the NC Railroad 6) Sell $52M in state real estate 7) Sell $2B in Read More

The sanctity of truth takes a hit....

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  The state senator who spearheaded the effort to put an anti-gay marriage amendment onto the ballot next spring is drawing fire for lying on his resume. From WRAL's Laura Leslie in today's column:    State Senator Jim Forrester (R-Gaston), lead proponent of the anti-same-sex-union amendment set to appear on NC ballots next spring, may have padded the resume he's been running on for many years.  On both his campaign website and the Gaston County GOP website, Forrester claims to be a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine.   But Michael Barry, the executive director of the American College of Preventive Medicine, says Forrester Read More

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  Last night, I attended a hearing in Raleigh to gauge whether the Governor Morehead School for the Blind should be closed next year -- or if one of two special state schools for deaf students should be closed instead. It seemed a terrible choice for our state to make, but I never realized how truly terrible until I noticed something significant about the people attending the hearing: not one of them attended alone. They came in pairs, or in groups of three, or four, or even more, almost all of them sight- or hearing-impaired. Most of them were alumni Read More

Children at risk hanging by a thread:

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  One of the (few) positive things about being involved in politics is that you meet new people you might not otherwise meet. Some of them become friends, and a very few even become stalwart ones. I got lucky in that way. One of my most loyal friends - a man who has stood by me through good times and bad - is an 85-year old man I will call Henry for the purposes of this post.   Henry is no slouch. Time has slowed him, but back in the day he marched with one of the more fiery civil Read More

And so it begins: the painful process of facing the reality of North Carolina's 2011 state budget, which signaled a dramatic shift in priorities demanded by new state leadership. Among the more immediate fall-out: changes that affect public health, impact public safety and are forcing a painful choice for young North Carolinians living with disabilities.    Read More

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  The children of North Carolina will once again be paying a heavy price for the 2011 state budget, only this time children learning to thrive and succeed in life while also managing disabilities will be asked to pay the price. Massive cuts in public education funding mandated by NC's GOP-crafted budget will force one of three state residential schools for the deaf or blind to close at the end of this school year. A series of public hearings now taking place will ultimately determine the fate of either the Gov. Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, the N.C. Read More

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This year's budget was nothing if not short-sighted. It crippled virtually all of North Carolina's most enduring strengths. But who knew how very short-sighted it was? When the GOP-crafted state budget forced the elimination of a 5-member state team charged with monitoring mosquito populations and helping local governments control them, maybe they figured it was no big deal. But thanks to Mother Nature, it has turned out to be a very big deal indeed - or, perhaps more accurately, millions and millions of very small deals. Flooding from Hurricane Irene has proved to be a bonanza for breeding mosquito populations Read More

Safety first! Oh wait, we take that back....

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Gentlemen, start your engines: the NC Highway Patrol has been forced to adopt an indefinite hiring freeze because the agency can't afford the $100,000 per cadet it costs to put a recruit through the required seven months of training. Why? State lawmakers cut $8 million from the department's budget this year and another $7 million has been axed from next year's budget. That leaves the department with 102 trooper vacancies, a number expected to rise by the end of 2012 due to attrition. That may be good news for speeders, but it's not so good for those of us Read More

Locked Out

State Budget Kicks TeachersOut of the Classroom State lawmakers have cut hundreds of millions from the education budget, eliminated thousands of education jobs, cut programs and raised class sizes -- damaging our public schools, property values and the economy while endangering the future of our children. Read more about the North Carolina Legislature's attack on education. Learn more here. Read More

Cuts In The Classroom

"Protecting" North Carolina's Schools With Pink Slips And Padlocks?  Despite a GOP promise to the contrary, North Carolina classrooms are being shut down or filled beyond capacity, teaching staff have been laid off and entire schools are being closed. Learn what this could mean to you and your family -- even if you don't have children -- and what you can do about it. Read More

Tillis dodges laid off TA at town hall meeting

From the Wilmington Star News:   "On June 3, you said we had a budget that restored all funding for K-12 education," said Tammie Veilleux, who worked for six years as a teaching assistant in Washington County. "Then on June 10, my superintendent told me that I'm a teacher's assistant out of a job, and I don't understand the discrepancy."   Tillis said lawmakers were also disappointed by the discrepancy, but pointed out that opponents of the state's spending plan had largely overestimated the number of jobs that would be lost as a result of funding cuts.   "We need Read More

When is the special session on jobs?

The 2011 General Assembly was elected on the promise of bringing jobs to our state, but since January they've done anything but.  New jobs numbers out today reveal a startling increase in the state unemployment rate to 10.4%. Every poll out there, plus just plain common sense would tell you that jobs are the priority for North Carolinians right now.  Why does it seem that jobs are not a priority for the legislature?  So far we've got a budget that cut more than 13,000 jobs and a special session for "constitutional amendments." When is the special session on jobs scheduled? Read More

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Veteran educator and laid-off teacher assistant Tammie Veilleux of Washington County questioned NC House Speaker Thom Tillis directly about his broken promises to preserve classroom staff at his latest Town Hall Meeting, held in Wilmington on September 15th. Veilleux first read from Tillis's direct quote, "... we have a budget that restores all the K-12 education funding for teachers and teacher assistants. The minute this budget gets signed, those folks don't have to worry about being out of a job three weeks from now."   She then asked Tillis how it was that she came to be laid off when Read More

On the road with the Pink Slip Truth Tour

Progress NC Executive Director Gerrick Brenner and Research & Communications Director Justin Guillory have hit the road with a dramatic presentation that illustrates just how many teachers and teaching assistants have been laid off because of budget cuts to education -- despite lawmaker's assurances that no jobs would be cut. The tour is also designed to highlight the effects that overall education cuts have on North Carolina's families.  They are traveling the state with veteran educator Tammie Veilleux of Washington County (shown at left with Gerrick Brenner), who was laid off this summer because of the budget cuts. The trio Read More

This summer the NC General Assembly was faced with a budget shortfall of over $2.5 billion. In the end, lawmakers faced a simple choice: either layoff teachers, teacher assistants and make other painful cuts to education or keep a temporary one cent sales tax.  What did Thom Tillis, Phil Berger and the rest of the leadership choose to do? They gutted education and laid off teachers, while claiming they were fully funded:       "... we have a budget that restores all the K-12 education funding for teachers and teacher assistants. The minute this budget gets signed, those folks don't Read More

Rolling back the clock on women's rights:

I've never been much of a banner-waving feminist. I'm one of those 70's era ingrates who coasted along in the wake of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem and pretty much happily enjoyed the rights they fought so hard for us to win without a second thought. When women were marching for equal rights, I was still in junior high (that's a women's liberation march in Washington, D.C. in 1970 at left). Later, I was too busy paying my way through college, trying to start a career, taking care of my parents, raising a child and trying to hold on to my Read More

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While I was sitting around this summer feeling sorry for the people of Wisconsin because their states were clearly under the control of some pretty kooky rightwing extremists, a rude awakening landed on my doorstep: apparently frustrated with their inability to tell me what to do with my womb, rightwing lawmakers right here at home in the NC General Assembly rammed through a law ─ and then overrode the Governor's veto of it ─ that requires women requesting an abortion, as is their right under the law, to view an ultrasound before the procedure can be performed. If they avert Read More

America's progress as a nation can be measured by the expansion of voting rights for all citizens. From the 15th Amendment to the 19th Amendment, onward to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 26th Amendment, we have long viewed voting as a fundamental right of all citizens. While other rights crumbled, the promise of one person, one vote held firm: a poor woman's vote counted every bit as much as a rich man's.  (Cartoon by Chan Lowe reprinted with permission from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit Chan Lowe's blog for more awesome political cartoons.) What's happening to Threaten One Read More

Major attack on voting rights launched in NC:

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America's progress as a nation can be measured by the expansion of voting rights for all citizens. We have long viewed voting as a fundamental right of all citizens. While other rights crumbled, the promise of one person, one vote held firm: a poor woman's vote counted every bit as much as a rich man's. But now efforts in the NC General Assembly to impose far-reaching restrictions on voting could turn the clock back decades. Click here to see just how far they will go. (Photo of Early Voting in Charlotte in 2008 courtesy of James Willamor.)     Read More

  The promises of natural gas don't come without their costs.  Fracking has contaminated drinking water throughout the country.  If you live nearby a proposed fracking site please educate yourself and speak up! For a more indepth look at the issue, read The Independent's excellent coverage...  series part 1, part 2 and more here, here, here, here, here and here.   Read More

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Thus far in this year's General Assembly, the women of NC have taken hit after hit, starting with budget cuts that attacked critical family programs and regressive bills that attacked core rights. Most recently, redistricting maps were introduced that could roll back representation by women in government decades.  Learn how the women of North Carolina are paying a heavy price for an extreme shift in our state's leadership and why radical far right beliefs now threaten your basic rights. Read More

If you live in Chatham, Lee or Moore counties this could happen to you! The promises of natural gas don't come without their costs. A relatively new drilling technology called high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has contaminated drinking water throughout the country, including NC. How contaminated? Some residents can literally light their tap water on fire -- as this video shows.  Read More

Welcome to Progress North Carolina!

Welcome to the virtual home of Progress North Carolina, an organization devoted to preserving the wonderful quality of life we enjoy in the Tarheel State.  If you're busy but you want to know what's happening on the state level that could affect your life, this is the place for you. We will tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it, and what you can do about it. We urge you to join our mailing list. We promise to inform and entertain you and to never waste your time. We love our state and we know Read More

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Join Us!.jpg Click here to join us here at Progress North Carolina! We're working hard to get people to put the best interests of our state ahead of party labels and ideology. We need North Carolinians to help us spread the word about protecting the policies that made NC great and safeguarding the strengths of our forward-thinking state government. When you join us, we'll put you on our mailing list and let you know how you can be part of a chorus of voices from every corner of NC demanding fairness and common sense from our elected leaders.