“Nothing wrong with being a tax and spend Republican!” is how I’ll greet her

I wrote here about helping with a campaign to pass a public school bond issue.

This is a majority Republican town, and this is the first time I’ve worked with the same group of people we usually work against in elections. I think The Committee for the school levy is made up almost entirely of Republicans because the leader of the effort is an executive at a manufacturer here and he’s a Republican donor, voter and GOP Party person. His employer has given him as much company time on this as he needs because it’s a genuinely local company, they’re privately held and they believe the school issue is important to their ability to attract sales people and managers. The (now-retired) CEO of this company asked the school board to request an evaluation by the state public school facilities commission on the feasibility of renovating versus replacing our schools in 2009 and the state came back with all but the high school as “replace” so that drove their decision to head up a new school building campaign rather than a renovation.

We meet in the company conference room. It’s nice to have this big local employer behind something I support (for once) with all these fabulous resources. I could get used to it. I now understand the lure of wing nut welfare.

I’m finding that the Republicans involved in the campaign bring up the fact that I’m a Democrat a lot more than is strictly necessary. I’m not clear why this is. My sense is it’s to let me know that while we may be working together on this there will be no concessions as far as Conservative Principles. After they tell me I’m a Democrat they bring up the Kasich tax cuts. I think they keep hitting on this with me to let me know that while they’re for this particular tax increase, they’re still solidly in the “job creators get huge income tax cuts so as to grow the economy” camp. Their argument is that Kasich cut income taxes so therefore people should support increased property taxes for schools. It’s a wash!

I don’t agree with it as a practical matter and I also think it’s a lousy campaign tactic. This is a school district where 40% of the kids qualify for free or reduced lunch. Income tax isn’t a huge issue for the younger, lower income “sporadic voter” parents we need to reach if we want a winning turnout, although it’s clearly a huge issue for the Republicans on The Committee. The fact is Kasich’s income tax cut won’t benefit those families at all and Kasich increased sales taxes, so the parents I hope to reach will pay more taxes, not less. In addition, we have lost 1.6 million a year in state operating funding for our public school system under the Fox News personality-turned-governor. Despite my concerns, they’re in love with this “it’s a wash!” idea, so hopefully it flies with higher-income Republicans like them because they’re not budging.

Although I think their tax argument is dumb and based more on partisan fervor than facts or voter demographics or persuasiveness, I don’t hate all of their campaign ideas. One thing they’re saying that appeals to me is that the schools we use now were built beginning in 1917, someone paid for them, and it wasn’t the people who use the schools now. “It’s Our Turn” is the slogan.

One thing I hate about modern conservatism is what I see as the dead-beat, moocher nature of the Republican approach to replacing or maintaining public assets. I’m baffled by people who rely on a public asset like a public school (or park or swimming pool or road or library) yet seem to believe those things spring from the ground spontaneously the day they arrive and then disappear the moment they personally and individually no longer need a 2nd grade classroom or a walk in a park or a swim or a route to work or a library book. I like this slogan. Harkening back to citizens of yore is also a good approach because local history is a hobby here. The newspaper does a monthly feature with photos from the Olden Days and there is a section of the public library devoted to town history.

I asked for suggestions on the campaign in the last post and The Committee picked up one of the suggestions I made (given to me by a commenter here) that goes to the It’s Our Turn idea, and it’s this:

scav says:
August 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm
Is there anything interesting to be gained from looking into, publishing past efforts the community made into building schools? When was the first one built, how many since, old photos of ground-breakings, graduations, etc. Schools did provide built foci for communities etc and emphasizing that historical and ongoing effort might help with some people. Might pull one or a few short priming newspaper articles out of it. An effort, a commitment rooted in the past and builing toward the future, that sort of thing. Dick and Jane through the periods and generations?

It’s about to get weirder because I’ll be working on GOTV with the woman who was the local volunteer lead for Romney’s campaign. I meet with her next week. I know her (slightly) and she’s a bona fide wing nut, so we’ll see how that goes.

Obviously, he needs the long-form vault copy “original” of his birth certificate, certified, with the raised seal

Back to North Carolina again, with new developments in the student voter + candidate story:

Within hours of Gov. Pat McCrory signing a Republican-backed bill this week making sweeping changes to the state’s voting laws, local elections boards in two college towns made moves that could make it harder for students to vote.
The Pasquotank County Board of Elections on Tuesday barred an Elizabeth City State University senior from running for city council, ruling his on-campus address couldn’t be used to establish local residency..

William Skinner, the panel’s lone Democrat, sharply dissented with the other board members. He argued King had clearly shown ECSU was his permanent residence, supported by his right to vote in local elections. He urged the board to dismiss Gilbert’s challenge. “If you are able to vote, you should be able to run for office, barring any restrictions against you, which we have found none,”

The Elizabeth City State University senior who wants to run for city council is Montravias King:

images mk

King said he plans to continue to run for office, and considers Gilbert’s challenge part of a broader Republican effort to discourage student voting. “I don’t see this as personal, I see this as an attack on college students across North Carolina,” he said.

The County Board of Elections made the decision to disqualify Mr. King first as a voter and then as a candidate based on residency. Mr. King has now appealed that decision to the state board of elections:

Ms, Kim Strach
Executive Director, State Board of Elections
Mr. Don Wright
Counsel for State Board of Elections
Dear Ms. Strach and Mr. Wright:
Please find enclosed the appeal by Mr. Montravias King from the August 20th order of the Pasquotank County Board of Elections disqualifying Mr. King as a candidate based on residency. From my telephone conversation with Mr. Wright, it is my understanding that the Pasquotank County Board has been directed to not print ballots for the October election until the State Board decides the merits of this appeal. If my understanding is incorrect or the status of Pasquotank’s ballot printing changes, please let me know immediately so I can file a motion to stay the Pasquotank’s Board’s order pending these proceedings.

Excerpt from appeal:

The North Carolina Constitution Article VI § 1 guarantees that “Every person born in the United States and every person who has been naturalized, 18 years of age, and possessing the qualifications set out in this Article, shall be entitled to vote at any election by the people of the State, except as herein otherwise provided.”
Article VI § 2(1) states: Residence period for State elections. Any person who has resided in the State of North Carolina for one year and in the precinct, ward, or other election district for 30 days next preceding an election, and possesses the other qualifications set out in this Article, shall be entitled to vote at any election held in this State.

Equally fundamental is the right of a qualified voter to run for elected office. Under
North Carolina Constitution Article VI § 6, “[e]very qualified voter in North Carolina who is 21 years of age, except as in this Constitution disqualified, shall be eligible for election by the people to office.”

Candidate Montravias King is a rising senior at Elizabeth City State University who has resided on campus since the fall of2009 and who has been an active member of the college community. Ruling on a challenge to Mr. King’s candidacy based on residency, the Board held that a dormitory address could not be considered a permanent address. Combining the Board’s conclusions of law, the Board’s ruling can be summarized as “We do not know where Mr. King resides because he cannot claim to reside here.” The Board’s conclusions oflaw are illogical. Under their conclusions, any student who abandons their former home and goes to a dormitory would be completely barred from establishing domicile anywhere. The Board’s conclusions of law classifying dormitories as insufficient addresses for voting purposes would effectively disenfranchise every student who attempts to register at his or her college dormitory address, in clear violation of United States Supreme Court precedent and holdings of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Evidence presented at the August 13th hearing showed that Mr. King established 1704 Weeksville Road as his permanent address by:
• Registering to vote at that address in 2009 and voting in subsequent elections
• Attending classes every semester and during summer school at that address
• Using that address for the place where he does his banking
• Using that address for medical records
• Obtaining employment in Elizabeth City and using that address with his employer
• Changing his driver’s license to that address
• Removing treasured possessions such as photos and mementos from his parents’s home and keeping them with him in Elizabeth City
• Actively engaging in community life by serving as President of the ECSU Chapter of the NAACP
• Testifying that he intends to stay in the Fourth Ward after graduation

via election law blog (pdf)

Show your hand


I saw that Cuccinelli in Virginia released his education plan (pdf) so I thought I’d compare his work to model bills churned out by ALEC, the corporate-owned state law factory.


Review and reform teaching requirements and establish paths to teacher licensure external to education institutions.

Model Law that corporations wrote:

Offer teaching credentials to individuals with subject-matter experience but no education background with the Alternative Certification Act, introduced in seven states.


Create and expand Virtual Classrooms. Provide legislation that will eliminate barriers to successful implementation of a virtual school curriculum such as seat-time, pupil-teacher ratios and high school course hour requirements.

Model law that corporations wrote:

Send taxpayer dollars to unaccountable online school providers through the “Virtual Schools Act,” introduced in three states, where a single teacher remotely teaches a “class” of hundreds of isolated students working from home. The low overhead for virtual schools certainly raises company profits, but it is a model few educators think is appropriate for young children.

Ohio was the poster child of online for-profit K-12 scams for years, but now I think Pennsylvania has us beat. Here’s great reporting out of Maine with details on all the sleaze. As usual, there’s a Bush brother involved.


Enact Parent Empowerment And Choice Act Legislation For Parents In Failing Schools.

Model law that corporations wrote:

Create opportunities to privatize public schools or fire teachers and principals via referendum with the controversial Parent Trigger Act (glorified in the flop film “Won’t Back Down”), introduced in twelve states.

Here’s an inspiring story about how parents in Florida banded together and beat Michelle Rhee’s lobby shop when they parachuted into that state to sell Parent Trigger. I’m waiting for a movie about how grass roots public school parents beat Michelle Rhee and Jeb Bush but I’m not holding my breath. That’s a movie that will never be made.

For the second straight year, significant parent opposition to “parent trigger” legislation in Florida has led to defeat in the legislature despite powerful supporters, including former governor Jeb Bush. The parent trigger campaign in Florida has recently been marked some unusual episodes, including the gathering of signatures on a pro-parent trigger petition by StudentsFirst, Michelle Rhee’s advocacy group, that includes names of people who didn’t sign it. Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano said in this piece that the petition backfired: The petition was supposed to prove this pro-charter school legislation had grass roots support among parents, but instead it highlighted what critics have been saying all along: This law is about pushing Jeb Bush’s education agenda, and little else.

Read more

Focus group

We’re getting set to try to pass a local tax levy to build a new public school. As you know, I am a public school enthusiast but I also have a child in the local school system and we need a new school.

Because this is a majority Republican county and city I will be working with mostly Republicans to pass a tax levy. Obviously, these aren’t the Tea Party “base” of the GOP. These Republicans support “government schools” and also are mindful of the fact that tangible things like “schools” and “parks” and “libraries” don’t just form like Fruit On the Tree of Liberty and then drop to the ground to be gathered, but have to be paid for with taxes and then built. I think you would all call the levy people Chamber of Commerce Republicans, and that would be exactly what they are except they’re all in Rotary here, not the Chamber.

I have worked with some of them once before on a library levy, in 2006. In that campaign, we did what is called a “stealth levy.” A stealth levy is where one puts the tax increase on the ballot in a low-turnout election cycle and then targets supporters rather than do a big general push because the theory is a big general push only fires up the anti-tax people. The stealth levy worked, BTW, so don’t come crying to me with your “ethical” concerns on stealth. We won’t be using that this time out because there’s already been public meetings and such on finalizing the building proposal and now funding for that specific building plan will go on the ballot.

I’ll do GOTV which I like to think I am quite good at and don’t need any help with but I also will have to make some sort of “pitch” for the tax to local Democrats and, also, people who generally don’t vote. I know what I’ll say to (current) school parents, but what’s the best selling point for people who 1. no longer have children in the system, and 2. never had or never will have children in the system?

A practical hard-nosed explanation of why we need a new school? Property values? For The Children? Civic duty?

The tax isn’t that much so quit being such Dickensian misers? I voted for the senior center levy and I’m not a senior?

The general lay of the land is the public school is a big part of the town. Sporting events, music, social lives of parents, etc. It’s a rural school in a solidly working class/middle class area, so it’s not ultra-fabulous or state of the art or anything, but the (probably dicey and perhaps completely invalid) “grade” of the school is “excellent.” Also, all the employees live here and teachers (although they are union thugs) are not reviled and loathed. All three local judges are married to teachers and the mayor was a teacher before he was a mayor. Political environment would thus be: generally favorable toward public school system BUT read my lips no new taxes (knee-jerk default position).


Commenter Summer sent me a wonderful (short) video of the Moral Monday protests. Mistermix tells me I can’t embed it, so you’ll have to follow the link to watch but it’s worth it.

Thousands marched from Halifax Mall to Fayetteville Street to hear a fiery speech delivered by N.C. NAACP President William Barber II during the final Moral Monday demonstration of the N.C. legislative session. See a highlight video by N&O staff photojournalist Travis Long who covered the majority of Moral Monday and related demonstrations for the The News & Observer.

In the video, Barber speaks about how social issues have been used as a a wedge to divide us on economic issues. He had his own struggle with this, and in my view it’s one of the big victories of the Moral Monday protests – the fact that they was able to mobilize such a diverse coalition. In the video you’ll see religious folks joining with advocates for marriage equality, public education, women’s rights, voting rights, and health care.

Rev. Dr. William Barber is the president of the NAACP’s North Carolina chapter, and the pastor of the 120-year-old Greenleaf Christian Church Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Barber also serves as an adjunct professor in the Masters of Divinity program at North Carolina Central University.
Barber first attracted national attention in April 2012, when he joined other black clergy in North Carolina in opposing that state’s Amendment One, which would bar same-sex marriage, along with civil unions and domestic partnerships in the state.