gregflynn's blog

Cleaning Up Raleigh

The folks at Democracy NC have been busy. They just released a report showing that:

Lobbyists prowling the halls of the NC General Assembly received nearly $15 million from their clients in 2005, the year with the last “long session.” That amounts to $86,400 for each of the 170 legislators

According to Bob Hall, Executive Director and Research Director:

In North Carolina, interest groups actually spend more on lobbying than their PACs spend on campaign contributions to state legislators

Just last week Democracy NC announced a new campaign with a unique website called to promote "Clean, Voter Owned Elections" supporting public financing of campaigns to reduce the influence of special interest money.

Misanthropy on the Mall

[I have changed the title of this diary, but not the content. The original title reflected my feelings and thoughts immediately following this event. It has served its purpose. It was intended to provoke the discussion which subsequently took place. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Greg]

I’ve grown so cynical about the cynical attempts to “protect” marriage with a constitutional amendment that I’ve coined my own phrase for proponents: Maggots - a blend of marriage and bigotry produces big maggots. They were in abundance this morning on the Halifax Mall, a veritable quiverfull of bored teenagers, angry white men and women in long denim skirts with woolen tights. Yes there were nice people there - very, very, quiet, nice people.

Thomas Wright under attack

This morning the News & Observer's Under the Dome observes:

that [Jim] Black wants to cooperate with authorities and his doing so could make others "uncomfortable."

Black is motivated to share what he knows and try to avoid prison time, [Kenneth] Bell [Black's attorney] said. Black faces a maximum of 10 years on the corruption charge.

As I sat in both courtrooms while Black pleaded guilty, his voice growing quieter at every response, my heart was hoping that these events would bring closure to a sad era in State politics but my head was telling me otherwise. The evidence presented barely hinted at the evidence "unpresented" or the permutations of lines that were tripped over, if not stepped over, by various legislators and contributors associated with Black.

Illegal Bill Illegal?

A bill filed in the State House threatens to criminalize the normal and legal activities of hundreds of small business owners. House Bill 308 “State Contracts/ Illegal Immigrants” filed by Rep. George Cleveland would mandate participation in a voluntary federal program by everyone who enters into a contract with the State of North Carolina for “construction or repair work or for the purchase of apparatus, supplies, materials, or equipment”.

The Bill would increase the cost of running State Government by burdening businesses entering into State contracts with more red tape and legal liability. It would lead to employment discrimination against legal aliens and promote outsourcing to foreign companies not subject to United States immigration laws. Many small businesses will either shun State Contracts or increase bids to cover costs.

Voter Support for Progressive Agenda

OnPoint Polling and Research has released the results of a poll showing strong support for a progressive agenda.

Thanks to The Progressive Pulse for the heads-up.

North Carolina Voters Strongly Support Agenda for Education, the Environment and, Working

Raleigh, N.C. – Likely voters in North Carolina are overwhelmingly in favor of several public policy proposals regarding education, the environment, and working families, according to an OnPoint Polling and Research survey conducted February 8. The survey was commissioned by AARP North Carolina, the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers, the Conservation Council of NC, Equality NC, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Central NC, and the North Carolina AFL-CIO.

Black Plea Accepted by Court

In a somber proceeding that lasted a little under an hour Jim Black enter a plea of guilty at 1.30pm to a charge of accepting some $25,000 in cash payments and other in-kind payments from North Carolina chiropractors between 2000 and 2005 while acting as an agent of the State. During this period Black caused legislation to be written and influenced the progress of legislation dealing with the chiropractic profession. A basis of the Federal charge was that these matters involved more than $10,000 in annual expenditures by the Federal government to the State of North Carolina and in particular, Medicaid payments.

The cash payments received by Black included amounts that were deposited personally by Black and not reported to the State Board of Elections. The cash was exchanged in gatherings at private dining clubs and restaurants in Charlotte and Concord. Four separate occasions were noted for amounts of $8,000, $10,000, $4,000, and $3,000 with the latter two exchanged in bathrooms including one accepted with the advisory that "This is just between me and you".

Wright Stuff

Jim Black’s predicament is due in part to State Representative Thomas Wright. If Wright had not helped orchestrate support of the Legislative Black Caucus, Jim Black might never have become Speaker of the House. Anglico wrote about the connection between Black and Wright in an earlier post Tangled Web and as I wrote in comments to that post Thomas Wright is the highest ranking Africa American in the State House because of that connection.

Thomas Wright is back in the spotlight in his own right and more so with the announcement of Jim Black’s Federal plea and, expected State pleas.

Wright has been too busy to file a response to a complaint about late reporting of campaign contributions which hid his relationship with Sims Hugo Neu

In an article in the Wilmington Star, February 2, Mark Schreiner writes

The elections board wrote Wright on Dec. 12 to tell him about the complaint and offer an opportunity to provide a response. The board's request that it be made by Jan. 17 was extended to Jan. 31 at Wright's request.

Face Off

Last Wednesday The Southern Dem posted in Tragedy in Three Acts: The Unmasking about the similarity between single drive-by posts by three seemingly different users but all sharing the same IP address and all critical of Beverly Perdue including, one personally critical of BlueNC’s Anglico using very specific insider information.

BlueNC is an open forum with an active but very hands-off management that promotes open discussion and exchange of ideas. In extreme cases discussion is moderated but always in favor of the 1st Amendment. It is usually spammers and obvious trolls posting inflammatory content that get special attention. By themselves the “three posts” don’t rise to the level of actionable moderation but collectively and in the context of recent events they present a disturbing dilemma to BlueNC. The delay in this post is symptomatic of this dilemma as we strive to protect anonymity while dealing with the potential subversion of an open forum by a political campaign.

Germany Issues Warrants for NC CIA pilots

According to the Washington Post this morning:

BERLIN, Jan. 31 -- German prosecutors on Wednesday said they have issued arrest warrants for 13 CIA operatives suspected of kidnapping a German citizen in the Balkans in 2004 and taking him to a secret prison in Afghanistan before realizing several months later that they had the wrong person.

According to an AP report out of Berlin in the Charlotte Observer and Durham Herald-Sun:

ARD public television reported that investigators worked from passport photocopies made by a hotel where the suspects stayed. The report gave what it said were the cover names of three men who were pilots and lived in North Carolina.

Art Pope Tax Delinquent

People who live in multi-million dollar homes shouldn’t throw stones. Art Pope lives in what may be the largest and most expensive home in Raleigh’s Country Club Hills yet his 2006 property taxes are listed as “Delinquent” even as his puppets point fingers at the home of John Edwards. There is one law for the rich and another law for the richer.

The boys at the Pope funded John Locke Foundation were no doubt high-fiving each other Friday when internet traffic shut down Carolina Journal servers in the wake of the “National Enquirer” style hit job on John Edwards living quarters in Orange County. They seem oblivious to the fact that their own paymaster, Art Pope, is a millionaire living in a large multi-million dollar house in Raleigh’s exclusive Country Club Hills just 147 feet from a property owned by Edwards until about two weeks ago.

They also seem oblivious to the fact that the account for Art Pope’s house is listed in Wake County tax records as “Delinquent” in the amount of $25,345.92 of which $496.98 is an interest penalty applied 1/8/07.


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