Maryland, Another Tragedy Already Forgotten?

Yet another tragic shooting, this time at a newsroom in Maryland. Five people were killed and another three seriously injured. The gunman did not use an assault style weapon but was apparently harboring a vendetta that authorities knew about for years.

More thoughts and prayers came from the White House but no discussion of sensible gun safety. Shockingly, I was talking to a local Pastor that same day about safety measures we have been taking at our own house of worship and his thoughts went to his own congregation. We must have been discussing this at the very moment that it was taking place in Maryland. We had not yet heard about the day’s violence.

As a newly minted public figure, I can’t help but get a little protective of my own family. We know that the hatred and vindictiveness needs to stop. We also know that a lot of it comes from our own government officials. It’s time to bring people together, to show the kind of love and caring for each other that our faiths teach us.

I am running for office to bring that kind of thinking to Raleigh. If you believe that we need more action and less rhetoric from our elected representatives then I hope you will support our campaign and others like it.

Amending the State Constitution

Do you believe that our state government should be run by and for the benefit of the people? Do you believe in the constitutional separation of the branches of government?

The Republican legislature does not. Friday was the final day of the legislative “short” session, and the Republican super-majority used their unmitigated powers to seize control of North Carolina’s future.

They passed bills that will enable them to pack the courts, using a special session that will convene after November’s elections, to take back the NC Supreme Court with a “lame-duck” Republican majority.

They rejected four out of seven of Governor Cooper’s nominees to state positions for no apparent reasons.

And that’s not even the worst of it…

They added constitutional amendments to November’s ballot that will keep the legislators you elect in the future from being able to do the things you elect them to do:

  • One amendment would take away the power of all the Governors that you ever elect to appoint members to state boards and commissions—more than 300 of them, including those that control education, transportation, utility rates, and environmental protection—and gives it to the legislative branch.
  • A second one sets a tax cap that will limit our ability to fund schools, healthcare, and infrastructure, while shifting the tax burden away from high-income people and onto local sales and property taxes. Thus placing the burden on working class North Carolinians.
  • A third would require a photo ID at the polls, keeping young, elderly and poor North Carolinians from their fundamental right to vote.

But, with your help we can change things;

I’ll be out there meeting voters, talking, listening and working hard to improve schools, health care and the economy (none of which were even addressed by our representatives). Please help bring sense and balance back to North Carolina!

 

Why SB 75 Matters More Than Anything

What might be the biggest threat to the State of North Carolina’s economic future is called Senate Bill 75. A very non-threatening moniker for a referendum to amend our state constitution by permanently freezing the state’s current income tax rate. Voters will have the opportunity to oppose this debacle in November.

How will this permanent change to the constitution affect you?

Given that our state’s tax rates are already some of the lowest in the country; our ability to meet the needs of our citizens is severely limited. Working families and their communities are experiencing overcrowded and underfunded schools, decreasing access to health care and an absence of the infrastructure needed to spur job growth. County and city municipalities will need to pick up the slack by raising the money to fund things previously covered by the state budget.

The proposed change to the state Constitution would likely lead to increases in taxes paid by working North Carolinians. Additional sales taxes on goods and services and property tax increases are already in the works in Moore County. Higher excise taxes, fines and fees will surely follow. These revenue options are needed because the low income tax rate that would be locked-in doesn’t allow the state to meet current needs and we will fall further behind as the needs of our state continue to expand.

Changing the state constitution would tie the hands of all future lawmakers. That means all the leaders you elect in November will be unable to invest in the things you put them there to fix. It means that all the leaders you ever elect will be unable to solve the unforeseen problems that an uncertain future brings. It means that state emergencies like hurricanes, floods, drought, disease or even war can never be dealt with by state government. It means we can never do better, what we have is as good as it ever gets.

The super-majority Republicans currently possess in our state legislature wants their tax policies to control our lives even after they are voted out of office. But more importantly, they are trying to give their base a reason to turn out and vote. Their candidates are not compelling enough on their own. They require some imaginary call to defend the constitution against the “liberal left.” If the referendum wins voter approval in November, it will take three-fifths of a new legislature and another voter referendum to change it.

This unfettered challenge to democratic principles cannot be allowed to see the light of day. We must search for sense and balance in government, not the fascist-style suppression of opposition and the infernal need to restrict a future in which current leaders might not be in control.

 

Mockery of Democracy

This week our State Legislature put out a 300+ page budget for 2018-2019. This is part two of last year’s two-year budget and one might assume that we write two year budgets so that we don’t have to redo them every year. But one would be wrong.

This budget is packed with partisan pork. It directs tax money to schools in the district of a closely contested Republican, organizations that fight women’s rights, hunting clubs and promotes increased segregation in some public schools.

The budget includes raises for teachers but mostly ignores other state employees, like cops and detention officers. While paying teachers more it does nothing to increase classroom spending, implying that teachers can use their raises to pay for more supplies.

This budget makes one-time investments in mental health and broadband expansion while ignoring the billions of dollars turned away by Medicaid expansion and corporate tax breaks.

There are so many problems with this budget that it is clear now why Republicans did not want it to see the light of day until it was too late to do much about it. There was no open debate by Democrats or even by constituents. It was written behind closed doors, without any public discussion.

Well if they think they can slide this budget under the doors of North Carolinians, then run away in the night they are wrong because “Here’s Johnny”

Using Your Teacher’s Voice

Today I spent an amazing day with teachers from all over NC. I am certain you heard them. They were in Raleigh to let legislators know that our schools are still drastically underfunded. It was not just about pay, although that is still a big issue. It was also about funding basic school supplies like textbooks, pencils and paper. Governor Cooper spoke about his version of the budget and Mark Jewel lead a group of teachers and friends of education who each described different problems teachers face everyday.  One thing I heard loud and clear is “We’ll remember in November.” 

We now see the job in front of us


Jamie Boles picked up 60% of Republicans. They are clearly happy to have more of the same.

On the other hand, Republicans showed they are open to change by voting Sheriff Godfrey out. I wouldn’t speed through Carthage for awhile.

On Primary Tuesday, I visited 13 polls and loved every minute of it. I met some amazing people and, well, some that were maybe not so amazing.

It was a great day for Moore County. The school bonds passed overwhelmingly and our County’s own Frank McNeill won District 8 handily.

Today we shift into second gear and hit the gas pedal!

Are you with me?

But we need some fuel… I’d love to have your support! Click here or on the Donate button below to be taken to our secure Contribution page. A small donation can mean BIG change!

Why We Should Be Nervous

Back in July of 2016, long before I thought of running for office, I wrote about Donald Trump’s economic policies towards China;

“Of course, if we place tariffs on their goods, they are likely to do the same to ours. As the prices of our domestic goods increase and inflation becomes certain, our currency will be less valuable to them and so they will be able to buy even less. Countries like China and India, where almost half the world’s population (market) lives will be unable to buy American made products at all.”

Now almost 2 years later The Donald has ramped up discussions about tariffs, and he may be right (yup, I said it). While he recently tweeted “We are not in a trade war with China, the trade war was lost many years ago…”Make no mistake, we are in a trade war with China that is going to last for decades.

It began on March 8th when the US announced tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum. This past Tuesday the Office of the US Trade Office announced tariffs on over 100 Chinese goods, particularly in the technology sectors.  These tariffs will affect about $50 billion of imports annually. So, later the same day China announced tariffs on guess how much US exports? Yup you guessed it, over 100 products totaling, you guess it right again, about $50 billion. If that doesn’t sound like a trade war, it’s is certainly a war of words. And the stock market, which believes in words a lot, reacted, dropping almost $1500 of value in less than a month.

Here is why we should be nervous. Back in 2015, Beijing announced the “Made in China 2025” initiative. That document calls for China to be nearly self-sufficient in key technology industries and for Chinese companies to own 80% of those sectors in their home markets by 2020.  The initiative plans to accomplish this by issuing huge low-interest loans from state investment funds and aiding the purchase of foreign competitors. China expects to invest over $300 billion of government funding in the plan. President Trump recently stopped two Chinese acquisitions of American tech companies. Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, a Chinese-controlled buyout fund, tried to takeover chipmaker Lattice Semiconductor and Singapore’s Broadcom attempted a takeover of Qualcomm, one of China’s biggest competitors in wireless communications.

This past Sunday, Premier Li Keqiang said “We will accelerate R&D (research and development) and commercialization of new materials, artificial intelligence, integrated circuits, bio-pharmacy, 5G mobile communications and other technologies…” In the process, China plans to reduce the dependence on companies like Boeing, Airbus, General Electric, Siemens, Samsung and Intel.  According to German think tank Mercator “Chinese high-tech investments need to be interpreted as building blocks of an overarching political program. It aims to systematically acquire cutting-edge technology and generate large-scale technology transfer. In the long run, China wants to obtain control over the most profitable segments of the global supply chains and production networks.”  That sounds like war.

While the plan to invest $300 billion into economic growth sounds crazy in light of the fact that the Republican controlled US government just added $1.5 trillion to our national debt by giving tax breaks to the wealthy, it is not without precedent. Remember something called TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), aka the bailout? That program invested, you guessed right once again, over $300 billion. Because most of that money was in loans and equity all recent analyses place the results at around $30 billion of profit! There is one major problem with that solution, according to Republicans; it was implemented by President Obama.

Now China is planning to do roughly the same thing. Although they are not facing an international economic crisis they understand that in the near future they will be if they don’t invest today. Unfortunately, our government can’t focus on more than four years at a time. If we don’t change our economic policies by investing in innovative technologies, we are destined to join the ranks of second-tier countries that depend on foreign countries like China to lead the way into the future.

Behind the Curtains of a Campaign (NRA Review)

This is our first installment in “behind the curtains of a campaign.” It is about the numerous candidate questionnaires we get and a short review on the one I got from the NRA.

For the record my position on gun control is the following:
1) ban assault-style weapons from the public domain (except the police and the military)
2) raise the minimum age to purchase other guns to 21
3) require universal background checks and waiting periods
4) no arming of teachers

You can read more about my position on gun control here.

Don’t Vote

Your right to vote is under attack. Staying home on election day is exactly what the people in power want you to do. The very nature of Democracy is under siege. Our politicians only answer to a wealthy few and the rest of us are left to fend for ourselves and it’s not good enough.

Why is it that year after year, election after election, the only people who vote are the ones that are angry enough to care? And why aren’t you angry enough?

You can vent on facebook, twitter and Instagram. You can chant on marches, carry clever signs and offer thoughts and prayers but it’s not enough.

We are at a delicate moment in the history of our country. Our elected officials are typically voted in by one-quarter of eligible voters and even then by the slimmest of margins. The fifty percent of voters that don’t vote think they are voting against the system, against the incumbents, against the past. But they are kidding themselves. If you want change, don’t leave it up to others to make the decision for you, they won’t. If you want to see new ideas and new paths you have be angry enough to work for it. The only thing that matters is change. If you want change for the better, if you want change at all, it’s up to you to go out and get it.

Voting is easy. If you need a ride, you can get it. If you need a baby sitter, you can get it. If you don’t know where to go, just ask. In 2016, 102 million people didn’t vote. Donald Trump got a total of 63 million votes.

But the people in power don’t want you to vote. Keeping people from voting is as American as apple pie. It took a civil war, a suffragette movement and an act Congress just to get the right to vote for African-Americans and women. So how do you hold onto power? Easy. You make it harder, or impossible, for those people to vote. This suppression of the voices of change is the centerpiece of the Republican Party’s 2020 strategy. They systematically eliminate same-day registration, close polling stations in minority areas and cut back early-voting hours and Sunday voting.

These laws may not be as blatant as the poll taxes or literacy tests of the Jim Crow 1800’s but they are just as real in the 21st century.
Frustration is understandable, and to some degree it’s justified. But if people don’t vote, elections will be decided by smaller and smaller groups of voters. The ones that are angry enough to care will be the ones that determine who runs our country.

The most important way to fix this is to make it easier for people to register and to vote. Automatic voter registration, mail-in ballots and expanding voting times are solutions that voter rights advocates have been fighting over for decades. North Carolina has closed polling places in some areas and changed early-voting hours. Early-voting lines can stretch for hours. These changes partially explain the almost 9-percent decline (more than 65,000 voters) in African-American early voters. In North Carolina, a local party chairman emailed election officials to remind them that limited early voting was “in the best interest of the Republican Party.”

The good news for young people, African-Americans and other targeted populations is that there’s a simple defense against lawmakers who are okay with preventing you from exercising your right to vote. Vote them out. While you still can.
Fortunately, this strategy only matters in close elections. But that should make you very nervous. A lot of North Carolina elections are extremely close. In 2016 the average margin of victory for US Senate, Governor, Lt Governor and Attorney General was about 3%. The 2018 races for the State General Assembly are expected to go down to the wire.

The Declaration of Independence says Governments get their “powers from the consent of the governed.” The casting of a ballot is the most effective way for us to communicate our consent to the leaders we have chosen and to offer our consent to new leaders we believe in.