Ten years ago I wrote that "gay people can already have religious services to celebrate their unions at amenable houses of worship, with everything but the ;by the power vested in me by the State...' part. They can enjoy the ceremonial consecration of their relationship..."
One of the heinous things about Amendment One is that it took away that religious freedom, too.
Thanks, United Church of Christ, for taking this to court: "In a novel legal attack on a state’s same-sex marriage ban, a liberal Protestant denomination on Monday filed a lawsuit arguing that North Carolina is unconstitutionally restricting religious freedom by barring clergy members from blessing gay and lesbian couples."
Number-crunching without context is of limited value.
The voter-turnout analysis certainly looks grim for Hagan -- but the article ignores some key factors that might influence turnout.
Like, say, the long-running and highly-visible protest movement against the GOP regime in Raleigh, and the underlying ire upon which that movement is built. Hagan could well have a more motivated base in 2014 than is typical of off-year elections, and a sophisticated GOTV machine to activate it.
Writer Nate Cohn seems to be looking at statistics in a vaccum (he also ignores factors like the extreme dysfunction of the NCDP, and the influence of outside money). The raw numbers tell a story, but they don't tell the whole story.
Following on yesterday's post about GSO's opportunity to be a part of AT&T's new broadband rollout -- and the importance of that infrastructure to our economic development -- the last I heard is that AT&T is "interested in working with communities that appreciate the value of the most advanced technologies and are willing to encourage investment by offering solid investment cases and policies," and that "Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said Monday she hasn’t heard from AT&T."
I assume she's picked up the phone since then.
Beyond that, what's the plan?
GSO actually did a pretty good job of courting Google during the national contest to host its big fiber network.
That courtship generated serious, sustained attention across the community, with organization at the highest level and energy from the grassroots. A key consideration then was not focusing on what Google could do for us, but what we could do for Google -- and letting the company know, in detail.
Time to get the band back together again.
I didn't see anything about this in Friday's report from the City Manager. That was disappointing.
Madame Mayor, please let us know your plan, and what we can do to help bring this necessary project to town.
This is a potentially tragic turning point in American politics and policy. We are on the verge of turning over the internet – the most important communications system ever invented– to telecoms that grew huge through the government granting them monopoly status. Barring a genuine shift in policy or a court stepping in to ensure fair treatment of captive customers – or better yet, genuine competition – companies like Verizon and Comcast will have staggering power to decide what bits of information reach your devices and mine, in what order and at what speed. That is, assuming we're permitted to get that information at all.
Do we want an open internet? Do we want digital innovation and free speech to thrive? If we continue down the regulatory road pursued by the former cable and wireless industry lobbyist [and FCC chair] Tom Wheeler, all of those good things will be in serious jeopardy.
Worse, when Dan says "the telecom cartel has frantically worked to get state legislatures to prevent [communiity broadband networks] from existing," well, that frantic work was effective in North Carolina. Our econ dev and political leadership in GSO missed an opportunity to build out some rare and important infrastructure while they could.
But we are where we are. And where we are looks somewhat better than it did just few days ago, because we are maybe in line for some serious broadband service from AT&T (caveat: "Before anyone gets too excited, AT&T isn't promising that it will actually build in any or all of these cities.")
And AT&T is making nice noises about competition with the cable giants. So, good.
Kay Hagan needs a really good Get Out The Vote effort to hold onto her seat.
More than a year ago, she assured me her campaign would build on the formidable GOTV machine built by Obama in 2008. That seems to be happening.
But the GOP has put a lot of resources into catching up with the Democrats in terms of technology. While I'm sure the Democrats have not been standing still, closing tech gaps -- or even leap-frogging them, as the Democrats did between 2000 and 2008 -- is very doable.
And the best GOTV tech won't overcome a lack of enthusiasm.
Here's where Hagan has an advantage some of her Senatorial peers may lack. North Carolina progressives are highly pissed off at the GOP regime in Raleigh. They're looking for reasons to love the moderate Hagan.
The plan was that states would expand Medicaid coverage to more uninsured people, and hospitals would offset some of their reduced revenue through the increased volume of patients paid for by Medicaid. But North Carolina has not expanded Medicaid coverage, which means Cone Health and others are being paid less while still caring for the nearly 80,000 uninsured in Guilford County alone.
This has had an impact on access to health care in our immediate area. For example, Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine closed a major clinic that provided care for adults and reduced services for infants and children. Our response to the loss of this vital service was to partner with our pediatric teaching service to open Cone Health Center for Children, which will help care for nearly 40,000 uninsured children in our community. We plan to open a facility for adults later this spring. Still, the numbers are daunting. Cone Health provided $245 million last year in care for which we didn’t get paid. That’s nearly $60 million more than the year before. How can we keep that up?
And of course the human costs are even higher than the financial ones.
Greensboro is fortunate to have a strong, locally-controlled health system (disclosure: I am still on its board) and to have had Tim Rice running the show during tumultuous times.
Read the whole article for a sense of the issues facing hospitals -- the two-midnight rule is another tough one -- and some of the local responses to them.
The numbers aren't just better than they were this winter, they're better than many supporters of the ACA allowed themselves to hope they would be.
The law is far from perfect. The rollout has not been flawless, either, even beyond the deliberate sabotage inflicted upon it in many states.
But at this point, the unreconstructed failure narrative -- the essential GOP talking point of the past few years, rising in volume with the website fiasco late last year -- sounds like a press conference conducted by Baghdad Bob.
None of which necessarily gets Kay Hagan reelected.
But the good news on ACA -- which is to say, good news on healthcare and good news for millions of Americans -- doesn't just give Kay the green light on those Hal Riney-esque ads I've been pitching.
It creates a nasty wedge issue to use against her eventual opponent.
As noted here, "GOP [...] strategists have started to hint that flat opposition - repeal with no alternative that provides something like the same range of benefits - may no longer be viable from a political standpoint."
My guess is that a lot of hardcore Obamacare-haters in NC are not ready for that reality. So if Tillis is the nominee and mouths some ACA-lite platitudes, the base will be furious; if he tries a harder line, he risks his credibility with the rest of the voters.
And if Tillis is not the nominee, Hagan's chances look better from the start.
Kay Hagan owns Obamacare in this year's Senate campaign, so she should make the most of it.
In February, I wrote that "Obamacare will need to maintain the momentum it's gained for this campaign to work, so pushback ads probably can't run until April."
So, April, and the numbers look pretty good. I'd start running ads now. Feel-good stories about the stuff even GOP strategists know they can't roll back -- families with insurance, people with pre-existing conditions who got coverage, and so on. Positive positive positive. Like an old Hal Riney spot for Reagan, or a Coke commercial.
Meanwhile, Hagan's eventual opponent is about to be the victim of some serious elephant-on-elephant violence, If she's lucky, this will continue into an ugly and expensive run-off. If the GOP survivor is an unrepentant ACA repealer, the changing healthcare narrative presents a problem; if the nominee is more in the Richard Burr Obamacare-lite mold, the base will be furious. (A local version of this drama is reviewed here.)
Last time around, Hagan surprised much of the country by winning a race she was supposed to lose, but it wasn't such a shock if you paid attention along the way. Early days, but it looks like it could happen again.
When Brian Clarey raided his former employer to staff his new paper, Yes! Weekly seemed destined to become a listings rag supported by strip-club ads. Instead, publisher Charles Womack brought in the thoughtful and web-savvy Jeff Sykes to run editorial, and suddenly GSO has three alt-weeklies. None are great right now, but maybe as they find their voices and sharpen their foci we'll see them push each other to new heights. Certainly Uncle Warren's daily could benefit from the competition.
Anyway, Sykes followed up the fight over disclosing salaries at City-funded non-profits with some details on the compensation of Mike Barber, who opposed the transparency proposal. I don't think there's any real a-ha in the relationship between the City, the Wyndham golf tourney, Barber's golf charity, and the proposed Wyndham hotel downtown, but the whole package gives off a whiff of cozy old-boyism (for example, tourney director Mark Brazil is listed as treasurer of Barber's organization on the 2012 IRS form).
It does look like our local chapter of The First Tee spends an awfully high percentage of the money it raises on salaries. Maybe the value the organization delivers justfies the expense ratio; Barber says as much here.
In that same email, Barber makes allegations about public drunkeness by Yes! contributor George Hartzman, which Barber says explains Hartzman's hostility to him. But ol' BS George has been playing this game for years. In fact, he's done some sloppy work re Barber's non-profit at his blog.
First, he words his headline to make it apppear that the total executive compensation listed on the 990 is Barber's personal compensation, although you can see clearly on p. 8 that the total includes compensation for both Barber and his executive director. Worse, his headline number is twice as big as it should be, because he's adding the total compensation to its three sub-components listed in the columns next to it on p. 10 (when he says "$121,458 + $54,041 + $37,230 + $30,187 = $242,916," he really means "$121,458 = $54,041 + $37,230 + $30,187") and, as just noted, he implies that this wrong number goes to one person instead of two. (Mr. Transparency has now edited the post without comment to remove some of his more embarrassing errors, but fortunately the screen-cap above shows his work.)
This incorrect analysis has been parroted already by at least one local blogger, so it would be good to shut it down quickly. Hartzman makes much of his skill at reading financal documents, but any such abilities are not on display here.
Joe Guarino comes out swinging against outside money in the NC Senate race, calling the massive infusion of cash "profoundly wrong and unjust on several levels."
The 17th Amendment to the constitution clearly intends that the people of North Carolina choose their United States Senator. Our extraconstitutional party system determines who the major nominees will be. It is terribly wrong that out-of-state, wiser-than-thou national party bosses have such a disproportionate influence on choosing the state's nominee. This is supposed to be for Carolinians to decide.
To be clear, Joe is pissed about Karl Rove funding Thom Tillis, but I'm sure the same logic applies to those Koch-financed anti-Hagan ads and the general election. (Sidenote: I rarely see North Carolinians refer to themselves as "Carolinians.")
Joe's a Brannon man. I've seen Brannon supporters, like Palin fans before them, say Democrats pay so much attention to their favorites because they fear them. Trust me on this one: North Carolina Democrats are rooting for Brannon just as hard as Joe is. This GOP primary is Kay Hagan's dream scenario; combined with her ability to run against Raleigh and the improving ACA story, her seat looks a lot safer than it did a few months back.