Contrary to the rightwing mantra against taxes and big government, a new survey shows that Americans say they want better, not smaller government. They want government to solve problems related to energy, poverty, jobs and education, and they want more transparency and a closer evaluation of the effectiveness of spending. A second report by the Center for American Progress also shows that the Millennial Generation is the most pro-government age group. The two reports provide insights for building support for more responsive programs that serve the public interest and for sharpening the focus of attack on incompetent officials and wasteful or corrupt systems rather than government in general.
Archive for July, 2010
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Check out our new Analysis of Fundraising by North Carolina Candidates for US House of Representatives. This report illustrates how North Carolina’s Congressional incumbents hold a 5-to-1 advantage over their challengers when it comes to raising campaign cash.
For more information or a comment on this story, please contact Democracy NC’s Executive Director Bob Hall at (919) 489-1931.
Monday, July 26th, 2010
Write Your Senators Today!
North Carolina U.S. Representative David Price (D) is one of the leaders in the presidential public campaign financing reform effort, while NC’s Walter Jones (R), has introduced the Fair Elections Now Act (HR-1826) to bring VOE to U.S. House and Senate races. Price, Brad Miller (D), Larry Kissell (D), Mel Watt (D) and G.K. Butterfield (D) have joined Walter Jones in co-sponsoring FENA.
We need the support of North Carolina’s U.S. Senators for this bill, however! Email Kay Hagan here or contact Richard Burr here. Or better yet: visit our FENA Action Alert to send a quick email to both.
Monday, July 26th, 2010
Are you concerned about all the new 2008 voters who failed to show at the polls the following year? Would you like to see them return to vote in 2010 and embark on a lifetime of good voting habits?
If so, volunteer to help with our new voter phone banking efforts this fall. We’ll be calling voters who first registered in ’08 and encouraging them to turn out this November. You can be a part of our organized phone banking efforts in Durham, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greenville or Winston-Salem, call people in your part of the state using phone lists we provide to you, or call from home to the areas where we need your help the most.
Please write our Organizing Director, Adam Sotak, to volunteer.
Monday, July 26th, 2010
Are you interested in making sure we add to the voter rolls in North Carolina before the November General Election? Would you like to register new voters in your hometown or take part in one of our local coalitions, located in Durham, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greenville or Winston-Salem? If so, please write our Organizing Director, Adam Sotak, for information on our voter registration materials and initiatives.
Monday, July 26th, 2010
July 30th is the last day of Democracy Summer 2010 and this year’s session saw our ten college interns working hard to register new voters and educate people on Voter-Owned Elections. If you are interested in receiving a wrap-up of this year’s activities and results when it’s ready, please write email@example.com.
Monday, July 26th, 2010
Special-Interest Donations Fuel Fundraising Advantage Of NC Members of Congress Over Their Opponents:
Polls may indicate that voters are in a mood to toss out members of Congress, but early results from the all-important money race show that political donors – especially special-interest PACs – still heavily favor the candidate in office, not the challenger. An analysis of disclosure reports through June 30 reveals that the five Republican members of the US House of Representatives from North Carolina have out-fundraised their Democratic
challengers by a whopping 12 to 1 margin – $2,968,000 to $245,000. Meanwhile, the eight NC Democrats in the House have raised more than three times as much as their Republican opponents – $5,244,000 to $1,569,000.
Altogether, the 13 incumbents are swamping their challengers by a nearly a 5-to-1 fundraising advantage, $8.2 million to $1.8 million.
Download the full report here:
Monday, July 26th, 2010
March 16, 2010
With 2010 Census forms due in mailboxes this week, a new analysis shows that one fourth of North Carolina’s counties are at a high risk of losing millions of dollars in future federal funding because a significant portion of their residents will likely not mail back a completed Census form.
Another one fourth of the counties face an elevated risk of losing money, because they have a history of low mail-back rates in past census years or a significant share of residents who typically have low response rates, such as families living in poverty or in substandard housing.
“More than $400 billion in federal funds are allocated each year based on the population count or about $1,500 per person,” said Bob Hall, director of Democracy North Carolina, the nonpartisan group that conducted the analysis. “For every 1,000 residents not counted, a county could lose $1.5 million a year for school programs, health care, job training, housing, senior centers and more.”
Study Shows Voters in NC Are More Independent, Urban, Non-White And Young
January 25, 2010
A new county-by-county analysis of North Carolina voters points to dramatic shifts in the past decade that will likely influence campaign strategy for hot elections this year for Richard Burr’s US Senate seat and for control of the General Assembly. “The growth of urban and suburban counties and surge of independent voters means the political parties must scramble to win elections with a smaller share of reliably loyal voters on their side,” said Bob Hall of the election watchdog group Democracy North Carolina. “Stereotypes of the Republican rural conservative and the straight-ticket, African-American Democrat are giving way to a more complex profile of the North Carolina electorate.”
Statement by Executive Director Bob Hall on the Citizens United v. FEC Decision
January 22, 2010
“Today’s distressing, but predictable decision is another step by the U.S. Supreme Court to turn public elections into private auctions.
We already see how wealthy interests can distort the debates over health care, energy and financial reform; we don’t need corporations to have more ability to intimidate lawmakers with the threat of massive spending in their elections. The Court’s decision encourages a “pay to play” system and treats common-sense regulation of the flow of money in politics as a restriction on free speech. It is not: Previous court decisions said the content of speech is protected from censorship, but the financing of a political message must follow certain rules to protect the integrity of the election process. The majority on this Court disagrees and intends to give more power to wealthy corporations, foreign or domestic, non-profit or for-profit, even if their spending undermines the chance for a fair election or fair debate on a policy matter….”
State Legislators Receive Democracy NC’s Sunshine Award, Marking A Year Focused On Openness In NC Government
December 19, 2009
Thirty-two state legislators are receiving a surprise Christmas present this week – a “Sunshine Award” from the watchdog group Democracy North Carolina. The biennial award is given to lawmakers who file “superior” reports disclosing details about their campaign expenses and donations.
Award winners include 20 House members and 12 state Senators. The list has 22 Democrats led by House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight and 10 Republicans led by Paul Stam and Tom Apodaca. Winners represent all parts of the state and include newcomers David Guice and Sandra Hughes and senior veteran R.C. Soles.
“Our staff and interns evaluated the reports of all 170 legislators elected in 2008 and found these 32 went well beyond the minimum of the law to give the public valuable information about where they get their campaign money and how it’s spent,” said Bob Hall, the group’s executive director. “The quality of reporting has greatly improved in the past five years and dozens of legislators are doing a good job, especially with the help of well-trained campaign treasurers,” he said.
Award winners: (1) filed their six reports in 2007-2008 on time and in an accessible format, (2) listed the purpose and recipient of 99% expenses over $50 and (3) provided economic interest or employer information for 99% of the dozens of individuals who gave more than $50 to their campaign.”
North Carolinians Across the Political Spectrum Support Public Campaign Financing to Address Corruption
December 9, 2009
The third poll in a month shows that most North Carolinians believe there’s too much corruption in state politics – but this new one by Public Policy Polling also reveals that a bipartisan majority of voters believe changing the campaign financing system would be an effective way to address the pressures that lead to political corruption.
An unusually broad range of North Carolina members of Congress apparently agree. They are now backing a bill to provide qualified Congressional candidates with the option of using public financing in their campaigns.
To qualify for public funds, the candidates would first have to raise hundreds of small donations from voters and refuse donations from special-interest groups.
Amendment to State Board of Elections re Mike Easley Committee and Related Improper Contributions
October 29, 2009
To: State Board of Elections
Date: October 29, 2009
Re: Amendment to Complaint Filed on July 13, 2009
Here are some details about the “Governor’s Fund” within the NC Democratic Executive Committee (Account 1000.75), which indicates how the Party was used as a conduit for the Mike Easley Committee. The income for the Governor’s Fund for 2000 is Exhibit 29. A similar listing from the NC Democratic Party’s “Working NCDP Data” for the 2004 Election has not been provided. Exhibit 29 shows funds donated by individuals, businesses, and the Democratic National Committee that were credited to Account 1000.75 – “The Governor’s Fund.”
Read more by downloading the complete letter here.
Letter to the State Board of Elections Regarding the Wake County Board Of Education District 2 Run-off
October 25, 2009
Dear Mr. Chairman and Members of the Board,
I write to urge you not to intervene and stop the runoff election now underway for the District 2 seat on the Wake County Board of Education. There are a number of reasons to allow the election to run its course.
Read more by downloading the complete letter here.
Letter to State Board of Elections about Mike Easley Committee and Improper Contributions
July 13, 2009
Larry Leake, Chair
State Board of Elections
PO Box 27255
Raleigh, NC 27611
Dear Mr. Leake,
Congratulations on your re-appointment to the State Board of Elections. Now that all the members for the State Board have been appointed, I encourage you to convene a hearing that focuses on possible violations of election law related to the Mike Easley Committee and travel gifts first revealed in newspaper articles this spring. I’m confident the Board staff is conducting a thorough investigation and hope the people involved in that inquiry are cooperating. I look forward to the Board bringing as much sunshine as possible on this matter in the near future.
This letter provides additional details not previously reported in the media. We are particularly concerned about possible election law violations involving a significant number of individuals who are major political donors, who own airplanes or automobile dealerships, and who provided transportation services for the Easley campaign or family. At the end of this letter is a chart showing 11 people who fit this description. Together with their families and close business associates, they donated a total of $380,000 to Mike Easley’s 2000 and 2004 gubernatorial campaigns. Most of them also received appointments to various state boards, making them public officials in one capacity or another.
In addition, based on new information from our research of campaign disclosure reports (see page 3), we are concerned that the NC Democratic Party was apparently used as a conduit for travel-related and other contributions that would violate campaign contribution limits if given directly to the Mike Easley Committee.
Statement on Citizens United Case
September 9, 2009:
by Bob Hall, Democracy NC Executive Director
Talk about “judicial activism”! Through a series of remarkably aggressive procedures, a majority on the US Supreme Court seems determined to give new powers, even personal traits, to inanimate entities that amass money through commercial transactions, namely corporations. The Court could have kept the focus of the Citizens United case on whether the group’s video about Hillary Clinton should be subject to the McCain-Feingold federal law that regulates electioneering through the broadcast media. It could have, for example, ruled that the video was provided to viewers at their request via the Internet, not widely pushed onto them through the airwaves. But the Court took a different route…
Learn more at Citizens United Case.
- December 2009: New Poll and Co-Sponsors for Federal Reform Show Growing Bi-Partisan Support Among North Carolinians for Voter-Owned Elections
- October 2009: Amendment to State Board of Elections re Mike Easley Committee and Related Improper Contributions
- September 2009: Statement on Citizens United Case Supreme Court & Corporate Power
- August 2009: Healthcare Debate: Follow the Money For NC Members of Congress, 2004-2008
- August 2009: NC General Assembly Passes Bill to Allow 16 & 17 Year Olds to Pre-Register to Vote
- July 2009: Letter to State Board of Elections about Mike Easley Committee and Improper Contributions
- June 2009: NC Budget, Tax Loopholes & Special-Interest PACs
- June 2009: Good & Bad of Court Decision About Judges & Political Money
- June 2009: Billboard Money Targets General Assembly Allies
- June 2009: Statement on Jim Black’s Possible Early Release
- March 2009: New Report on Spending by NC Lobby Groups
- March 2009: Decline in Big Tobacco Political Donations Seen
- March 2009: Political Donations from Blue Cross Blue Shield
- January 2009: 2008 = Year of the NC Voter
Friday, July 23rd, 2010
This week was all about some Youth Voter Pledge cards. We hit the ground running on Monday and Tuesday by going to local recreation centers and talking to kids about voting. We were looking especially for high school students but when the “big kids” started signing the cards all the little ones wanted to do it too. So yeah, we ended up with a few voter pledge cards from some 12 year olds, but hey… can’t start early enough!
We had a one-on-one meeting this week with Mr. Tim Grant, director of Winston-Salem Parks and Recreation. He was very helpful and identified several upcoming opportunities for us to get into contact with lots of youth. He showed us all around the office, introduced us to everyone, and even referred us to a city-sponsored Youth Council that might be a good “focus group” for future youth-oriented Dem NC endeavors.
One of the events Mr. Grant told us about was the annual “Hang the Net” competition at Hanes Hoisery recreation center. The event featured Wake Forest basketball players, local street ball legends, Cameron Kent from WXII 12 News, and Coach Jim Caldwell of the Indianapolis Colts (see picture above). The event featured a three point shooting contest and slam dunk contest. We were able to set up a booth in the lobby and, with everyone lured nearby thanks to the free Frosty coupons, sign dozens of pledge cards to reach our goal.
This week also saw plenty of VAN phonebank action, as well as some short trips to Greensboro campuses to plan for fall GOTV. At North Carolina A&T University we met with Mrs. Nastasha Johnson at the Bluford Library, who then connected us into all the right people for our August plan to perform voter registration at the A&T Welcome Week.
I’m going to have to cut this blog post a little short since we have to get outta the office and back to Greensboro. We are doing some flier distribution today for next week’s Community Movie Night event with Mr. Darryl Hunt. We also hope to stop by the Beloved Community Center and liaison with Rev. Nelson Johnson, who is planning some GOTV efforts. We think there is a good opportunity for some collaboration.
We hope everyone is having a great week!
-Sean Maxwell and Ray Robinson
Friday, July 16th, 2010
Shock, awe and amazement. These three little words are the best ways to describe the reaction we get from Fayetteville’s citizens whenever we invite them to our neutral, informal City Council/ County Commissioner Meet and Greet. People, including some of the city council members and the county commissioners that have invited to the event, are having the hardest time believing this event is actually going to become a reality. ( “City Council AND County Commissioners in the same room? Together? Are you serious?/ WOW!!!” is the general response to our invitation.) Well, those non-believers will be in for a treat we host the meet and greet next Saturday. All the hard work An-Que, Ashley, and I have done these past couple of weeks will finally pay off in a open, friendly Meet and Greet that gives the general public access to the officials that oversee the details of their daily lives. This Meet and Greet also gives the officials the opportunity to talk to each other and join Democracy North Carolina as we attempt a county-wide Get Out The Vote (GOTV) training program.
As of right now, we have four confirmed guests to our Meet and Greet!!! I know that the three exclamation points that follow that statement seem a little unnecessary but considering that July is typically when most of these officials take time off for family vacations, an annual conference, and the like, it’s amazing that we got even that many officials to confirm. I’m hoping that the fact that all three groups will be represented (the people, the council, and the commissioners) will foster true,open, healthy dialogue, which in turn will lead to transparent actions towards change and progress.
WHEW! I know that is a lot of information to take in but because an intern’s job is never done ( gotta love progress and change) we’re already planning a Get Out The Vote training program in Wilmington, as well as a possible GOTV program among Fayetteville’s high schools. I’m so excited about all things we have going on in our field areas, but like I said, ” an intern’s job is never done” so I’ll have to get to you about all the progress we’re making later.
Until Next Time,
P.S. We interviewed a few folks at Fayetteville’s mall and on the Fayetteville State campus, so look out for those blogs, they’re coming soon!!!!
Friday, July 16th, 2010
Another busy week has flown by, and it’s incredible that there are only two weeks remaining in our Democracy Summer experience. We had some great events occur this week which will go a long way to help our strategies for increased voter participation, youth civic engagement, and electoral reforms.
On Monday we traveled a few minutes down the road to the Winston Lake YMCA to speak with middle school kids who were participating in a Model U.N. club (picture above). We decided to employ a debate format that they already knew very well in order to get them thinking about youth participation in civic affairs. The students had plenty to say about problems in their schools and neighborhoods, they just needed someone to ask their opinion! We told them about the structure of the Forsyth County Board of Education and encouraged them to pay attention to local politics, current events, and to always stand up and voice their concerns. After this mini-workshop, Ray and I were destroyed in a quick pickup basketball game between us and two of the students. Our height advantage meant nothing and they seriously asked us if we were actually trying… embarrassing indeed!
Tuesday was probably the most eventful day of all this week. Ray and I had an informal interview with Jordan Green of YES!Weekly magazine, a publication in Greensboro that covers local events and politics. Mr. Green then came to our Guilford County GOTV meeting that evening. We had probably around 15 to 20 people show up to discuss ways to increase voter participation. It was a diverse group, from a rising 10th grader to a woman in her 80s. Everyone agreed that focusing on registration in turnout in the month right before an election was too little too late. The meeting generated lots of good feedback and some additional contacts in Greensboro to assist in Democracy NC’s mission. We will likely return to Guilford County to meet with some of the attendees who requested some GOTV and registration training.
Wednesday featured an extremely productive meeting with Dr. David Mount of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He is Director of Community Outreach for the center, and told us about his strategies for connecting to other organizations and coalition building. He also gave us permission to come to various free community health fairs that are held around the county. At these events, residents in low-income neighborhoods can get free treatment and testing for illnesses and disease. He agreed that having information on civic engagement and voting rights would be helpful and that many facets of their mission overlap with Democracy NC’s goals too. Later that afternoon we met with Mr. T.C. Muhammad in Greensboro, who is involved in GOTV efforts and the Hip Hop Caucus. He gave us numerous contacts in the Guilford County area as well as some avenues to check out at NC A&T University. Hopefully Dem NC can team up with Mr. Muhammad in the fall for some major GOTV campaigns.
Thursday involved a return to the Winston Lake YMCA for a talk with some high school students. It followed a similar format as our Monday meeting, but obviously the discussion was a little more nuanced and we could register them to vote! They also signed some of our Youth pledge cards. It was amazing listening to their stories, particularly one student who was not only captain of his football team, but also worked nearly full-time at Sonic to pay for his own food and car insurance as well as take care of his younger cousins. The responsibility he was shouldering was inspiring and at the same time made our efforts to get their voices heard feel much more meaningful.
On top of all these experiences we have been phonebanking and planning for a voter registration and youth pledge card drive. And tomorrow we are attending the Stone Soul Picnic in Burlington. It’s been a busy week but it has felt good!
Until next time,
Sean Maxwell (and Ray Robinson)