Kara Haney, left, and her partner of 8 years Kate Wertin, right, embrace in the Lobby Bar in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood as the Washington State Senate passes a bill that would legalize gay marriage in Washington State on Wednesday, February 1, 2012. Dozens gathered at the bar to watch the debate via TV on the senate floor. (Photo by Joshua Trujillo, seattlepi.com)
America took several steps forward yesterday. Headline-grabbing national races aside, it felt like the biggest move among the electorate was not contained within any one party. Instead it seemed as though the good political grain of expanded liberties had triumphed against the chaff of party politics. The best gains were made for expand the institution of marriage in several states. At HonestNC, we had envisioned North Carolina as the point of inflection on gay marriage in the United States, a tide turning back a century of ignorance and repression on the subject. Continue reading →
Raleigh's first African-American mayor: Clarence Lightner
There was a small brouhaha in Raleigh this week when Bruce Lightner penned a note asking the city to not name it’s new courthouse after former N.C. senator Jesse Helms. This letter, coming from the son of Raleigh’s first African-American mayor, was rebuffed by the conservative voices on the Wake County Board of Commissioners, several of whom are seeking higher office. Continue reading →
North Carolina state lawmakers Rep. Rick Glazier (left) and Sen. Josh Stein (right) warn that Amendment One, if passed, will:
Curtail domestic violence protection for unmarried women and their children, and
End health care benefits for children of unmarried couples.
Glazier and Stein wrote:
“Experts in Family Law at every one of our state’s law schools have studied this issue and reached the same conclusion – the proposed Constitutional Amendment represents a number of certain negative impacts for unmarried couples in our state, and because it contains such vague and untested language, could very well lead to even more harmful outcomes, including the loss of domestic violence protections for unmarried women and their children, and the loss of health care benefits for unmarried partners.”
Luckily, I am not the only one speaking out against the dangers and difficulty of the death penalty. It doesn’t take much investigation into the stories of Alan Gell or other innocent people wrongly sentenced to death or the multiple abuses by the State Bureau of Investigation to know that this is a kind of punishment which we are now moving beyond.
Besides creating an appeal system that costs more than any kind of incarceration, and its lack as a deterrent to crime, the death penalty is bad policy because it teaches us that taking life solves a problem of crime, that extinguishing a life mediates the horror of the first offense. This leads to a severe downward spiral, Continue reading →
The big news from the Wake County Boards of Commissioners meeting yesterday was undoubtedly about their resolution to support Amendment One, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. But despite the motion, which came from Republican Paul Coble, and fell along party lines, the public comment period after the meeting was afire with opposition to the motion.
North Carolina Democrats are scrambling to find a gubernatorial candidate – “Registered North Carolina voters prefer former University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles among the potential field of Democrats who could face likely Republican candidate Pat McCrory in the governor’s race, according to a poll released Monday.”
“Nobody has the depth and level of experience that Erskine has had in public and private sectors. Just go through his résumé. He is a successful businessman. He ran the Small Business Administration. He was White House chief of staff. He was president of the University of North Carolina. He was co-chairman of the federal budget commission. And by the way, he is the guy who balanced the last budget that the federal government had. Who can beat that résumé?”
Bowles does have an impressive record. However, let’s not forget that while leading the University of North Carolina, Erskine sat on Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley’s board of directors. During that period, Morgan Stanley lost more than 62 percent of its stock value causing the company to sell a 21 percent stake to Japan’s Mitsubishi Financial Group. That was on top of a $5 billion infusion from the Chinese government. But all of that did not stop the Morgan board to pay its CEO more than $190 million over five years as the company began to falter.
Let’s hope Erskine is a better governor, than banker.
A little while ago, Honest NC’s CTO Scott Heath posted a link to a site called Legistorm. The company is useful for directory information, but requires a subscription for relevant contact information for legislative staff. Why isn’t it simpler to contact representatives directly?
Contact Congress - a free iPhone App
Like usual, the smartphone revolution has arrived on the scene. There are free apps on both the iPhone and Android operating systems that identify your pertinent representatives based on current location or a specific address. Of course, the iPhone version provides a slick interface through which you can call, Tweet or Facebook your representative at the push of a button. You can also apply costumes to a representative’s photo. The Android app seems a little more ponderous, but provides a wealth of information regarding bills on the floor and voting records, as well as a touch-to-call feature.
Congress (Sunshine Foundation) - a free Android App
Thus does technology march forward, empowering the individual by making the mighty more accessible.
The death penalty, as one of the most controversial and polemical forms of punishment, has largely been ineffectual in North Carolina, since 2006, when questions emerged about the proper procedure for lethal injection. Capital punishment took another hit with the passing of the Racial Justice Act in 2009, legislation that aimed to make right the proven and obvious racial tint to sentencing criminals to die.
Despite its clip art-inspired logo, the N.C. Education Lottery (NCEL) is a joke.The notion that the State is in the business of gambling, including a monopoly on lottery operations and a casino “pact” with the Cherokees, is laughable.
But why should N.C. have only one lottery? Surely the more lotteries available to state residents, the more money generated for education. That is exactly the reason why I am starting my own lottery — University Lotto. I registered the domain name myself.
It took decades of political wrangling for N.C. to begin its lottery operations. Mine – a few minutes and one click of the button.
I know what you are thinking – “Andrew, only the government can legally operate a lottery.” But where does it say that in the state constitution? I looked but I couldn’t find it. I did find a provision that states that a university education should be as free as practicable.
Despite all the rumors and supposed laws, “anyone” can start a lottery. Even if there was a prohibition on private lotteries, why should the state have a monopoly on fun? All types of traditional government functions are performed by private enterprise. There are private schools, universities and hospitals. And that’s not all. Even core government functions are executed by private organizations. There are at least four private correctional facilities in N.C. housing state and federal criminals. And more are being built. Private corporations can maintain law enforcement operations. Crabtree Valley Mall Police Department and the Biltmore Estate Company Police are good examples.
So you can see — just because the government normally carries out specific roles, there is ALWAYS room for someone in the private sector to do the same job. And do it better.
My lottery is very different from the NCEL — starting with the name. As the name implies, University Lotto will only assist N.C.’s higher education institutions, specifically need-based student financial aid. The NCEL also supports class size reductions, pre-kindergarten programs for at-risk four-year-olds and school construction. Additionally, during last year’s budget cycle, the NC General Assembly reallocated almost $30 million to Medicaid from lottery education distributions.
And in my opinion that number is too small, which is the reason why University Lotto is so critical to the state’s future.
In Georgia, the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) scholarship program provides students with tuition, mandatory fees and books for attendance at any of the state’s public universities, colleges and technical schools.
Georgia’s HOPE program is funded entirely by the state’s education lottery. Since the state first began its lottery in 1993, more than $1.4 students have received more than $7 billion in scholarships.
The problem with Georgia’s plan is that it has done little to help the poorest attend college – Georgia has a lower college-going rate than N.C. Those students with a “B” average are more likely to come from moderate-to-upper-income families. In essence, the plan is paying the higher-education costs of those who can already afford it. That’s why profits from my lottery will go towards a need-based financial aid program.
Additionally, my private lottery won’t replace existing government funding sources. It wasn’t until 1999 that N.C. even had a need-based financial aid program. The financial need of students at N.C. State University alone is more money than lawmakers are willing to allocate.
More importantly, my lottery will not be in the business of funding the pet projects of elected officials like Governor Michael Easley’s “More-at-Four” program. Politicians are removed from the equation all together because University Lotto’s proceeds will go directly to the College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC).
CFNC will administer the financial aid awards, which are determined via a formula. Since the NCEL funds other projects, like new school construction, lawmakers must make the decision about how to allocate the money. And believe me, N.C. lawmakers are not very good at doing much.
Because University Lotto is private and only available via the Internet, I will save millions on costly bureaucratic oversight and advertising. Not only will this increase player’s winnings, but it will also increase the available funds to support needy students and their families.
Competition is good. And I am proud that my private lottery will move the state forward in allowing every qualified citizen the opportunity to attend a higher education institution.
North Carolina could use a few more assholes raising money for education.