William Barber Rakes in Taxpayer Dollars – Leads — Moral (no it is) — Money Mondays!

While the Rev. William Barber, head of the NCNAACP, likes to call opponents extremists and rant about the immorality of legislative actions, he never mentions one important detail concerning his personal interest. An organization associated with his church, Rebuilding Broken Places Community Development Corporation, of which he is the founder and still chairman, has bellied up to the taxpayer buffet to the tune of over $1.15 million in recent years. A quick search shows some but not all of the taxpayer dollars garnered by his organization (State Agencies come from NC Open Book:

State Agency

Child Nutrition Programs

Dept. of Health and Human Services

$565,220

State Agency

Not Listed

Not Listed

$1,275

State Agency

Support Our Students

Dept. of Public Safety

$245,426

State Agency

Dropout Prevention Grant

Dept. of Public Instruction

$173,331

State Funded

Econ Dev & Capacity Building

NC Rural Center

$134,480

State Funded

Capacity Building (Jan 2013)

NC Community Dev. Initiative

>$40,000

 Tentative Total

>$1,159,732

As the head of the NCNAACP and the organizer of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ), he is the originator and ringmaster of the “Moral Money Monday” protests. Barber has said in many places that the HKonJ organizations are the organizers and force behind the “Moral Money Monday” protests.

It is a collection of groups that, like Barber’s group, has benefited handsomely from taxpayer dollars. While he cloaks his actions in morality and even the trappings of Christianity, going as far as wearing religious garb at the protests, his interest is really about that least religious of concerns – Mammon, or money.

He and his cohorts in the HKonJ organizing group do not want to lose access or control of the taxpayers’ dollars. This may very well happen if the current legislature continues to reduce taxes, reform government and stop funding special-interest groups.

So remember from now on to refer to the Monday protests by their proper name !Moral Money Monday” !

Civil Disobedience Lite

The way the news reports it, you would think that the participants in “Moral Monday” were moral crusaders. And indeed, the participants and organizers of “Moral Monday” certainly encourage that perception. Writing in the Guardian, William Barber compared his merry band of lawbreakers – disproportionately comprised of old, white liberals – to Mahatma Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Arrested UNC history professor Jacquelyn Dowd Hall agreed: “There are many analogies to what happened during the Civil Rights movement.” And in one particularly nauseating account, Jedediah Purdy compares himself to Henry David Thoreau, a “militant watchman of his own authority.”

These comparisons do great violence to the memories of those activists. Ghandi marched 240 miles on footto protest British policies in India. Martin Luther King faced down fire hoses, bombings, and police dogs in Birmingham. Henry David Thoreau was furious when friends bailed him out of jail, believing that prison time was a crucial part of triggering reform.

And then you have this:

“They got us processed in about two hours,” [NC NAACP Vice President Carolyn] Coleman said Thursday. “Which is good, because I had a church meeting to get to in Greensboro.”

And this:

“[Duke professor William] Chafe referred to his short incarceration as a ‘great time’ that allowed the protesters to make new friendships and have wide-ranging conversations. Additionally, the protesters all sang together throughout their eight to 10-hour stays in prison.”

And this:

“When they  came to arrest me, I handed my big umbrella to one of the capitol policemen as if he were my valet…In the photos, I guess I look enough like a prisoner if you know the context, but I could also be a colonial administrator strolling, hands clasped behind his back, flanked by his batmen.”

At a certain point, you have to wonder what kind of fantasy world these people live in to compare themselves to King, Thoreau, and Ghandi. The truth is that Moral Monday protesters are undercutting the democratic process, costing taxpayers a boatload of money, and clogging an already overloaded criminal justice system.

A Brief History of NC’s “Food Tax”

One of the oft-cited criticisms of the NC Senate’s tax reform plan is that it would extend the state sales tax to groceries. Observers may be interested, however, in learning more about North Carolina’s history with taxing food purchases.

North Carolina first enacted a sales tax in 1933, it was promised to be “temporary.”  The rate was 3%. Food for consumption was exempted.

In 1961, the food exemption was repealed, subjecting groceries to the 3% state sales tax.

In 1971, the state authorized an additional 1 cent local sales tax for counties, adding to the total sales tax paid by consumers, including groceries.

The state authorized an additional one-half cent local sales tax in both 1983 and 1985, bringing total local sales taxes to 2%, and combined state/local sales tax to be paid by consumers to 5%, including groceries.

In 1985, North Carolina passed a law exempting the purchase of food with food stamps from the sales tax, this exemption would also apply to the local sales tax on groceries.

In 1991, North Carolina increased the state sales tax rate from 3% to 4%.

In 1996, the state passed a law to reduce the state sales tax rate on food from the standard rate of 4% down to 3%, effective Jan. 1, 1997.

The following year, state lawmakers passed another law lowering the state sales tax on food to 2%.

In the next year (1999), legislators eliminated the remaining state sales tax on food.

In sum, North Carolina has applied a sales tax on food since 1961.

  • From 1961 to 1971, the rate was 3%, and it crept up to 5% by 1985. Remained at 5% until 1991.
  • The rate topped out at a combined state/local rate of 6% from 1991 to 1996.
  • From 1996 to 1999, the state sales tax on food was phased out.
  • From 1999, the state no longer applied the state sales tax rate on food; however the local rate of 2% remained.
  • Food purchased with food stamps was liable for the sales tax up until 1985.

Currently, food consumers pay the local 2% sales tax on most groceries, and the full 6.75% combined state/local rate on certain items including candy, soda, “prepared foods”* and dietary supplements. Food purchased with food stamps is exempt from both the state and local sales tax. North Carolina has 1.7 million food stamp recipients.

*Prepared food is defined as follows: Food that meets at least one of the conditions of this subdivision. Prepared food does not include food the retailer sliced, repackaged, or pasteurized but did not heat, mix, or sell with eating utensils.

a.         It is sold in a heated state or it is heated by the retailer.

b.         It consists of two or more foods mixed or combined by the retailer for sale as a single item. This sub‑subdivision does not include foods containing raw eggs, fish, meat, or poultry that require cooking by the consumer as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent food borne illnesses.

c.         It is sold with eating utensils provided by the retailer, such as plates, knives, forks, spoons, glasses, cups, napkins, and straws.

NC State Board of Elections – Happy Investigators for Democracy NC

According to this AP article in the Virginia Pilot (online), as a result of a complaint filed by the liberal advocacy group Democracy NC, a majority of North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBOE) members are interested in opening a campaign investigation into political donations from the operators of sweepstakes games during the 2012 election.

The five member board is set to meet by teleconference on Tuesday, April 30 at 9 a.m. to discuss this issue. It is a public meeting; to access the meeting call:  1-213-289-0012   use:  Access Code:  639160343.

While the current SBOE may call for an investigation into campaign contributions, it is doubtful that they will hear evidence, seeing that their terms are set to expire on May 1, 2013 or whenever their successors are appointed.  According to NCGS § 163‑19

The State Board of Elections shall consist of five registered voters whose terms of office shall begin on May 1, 1969, and shall continue for four years, and until their successors are appointed and qualified. The Governor shall appoint the members of this Board and likewise shall appoint their successors every four years at the expiration of each four-year term. Not more than three members of the Board shall be members of the same political party. The Governor shall appoint the members from a list of nominees submitted to him by the State party chairman of each of the two political parties having the highest number of registered affiliates as reflected by the latest registration statistics published by the State Board of Elections. Each party chairman shall submit a list of five nominees who are affiliated with that political party.

After the Governor’s appointments are made, they will then be required to appoint a Director.  Gary Bartlett, the current director, has been in the job for 20 years. (NCGS § 163‑27)

As always the liberal media refers to Bob Hall and his group as “Watchdogs.” Seeing that Michael Biesecker, one of the reporters for the AP article, was formerly a reporter for the News and Observer, he knows very well that Hall is a liberal activist, registered lobbyist and executive director of a group that was an original member of the now infamous Blueprint NC organization. You will remember that Blueprint NC was the source of a recently leaked strategy memo that exposed the game of how a coalition of liberal non-profits will “attack” elected officials in North Carolina. Hall’s work with Bartlett and the SBOE has produced a collection of some of the most liberal laws in the land.

It is fitting that one of the last actions this Board will take is initiated by Bob Hall.  He has been a behind-the-scenes driving force at the State Board of Elections (SBE) – even to mapping out partisan attacks on Republican legislators to the extent that it is hard to tell where the SBE ends and Democracy NC begins. As you read more about this case it will help to remember that Bob Hall won’t be happy until all of North Carolina’s political campaigns are financed by the government – that is – your tax dollars.

Two questions

  1. Will Gary Bartlett stay or will he go? It will be up to the new SBOE.
  2. What will Bob Hall do without the majority of the SBOE members and the Director in his back pocket?

SC Guv States Her Desire to Eliminate State Income Taxes

Last month saw Governors from three states (LA, KS, NE) publicly state their desire to eliminate income taxes. Last year Oklahoma introduced legislation to eliminate its income tax (but couldn’t get it passed into law).

Now we hear news that the governor of our southern neighbor is also contemplating income tax elimination:

Gov. Nikki Haley praised state House Republicans on Tuesday for proposing to further cut income taxes.

Measures introduced in the House differ from her recommendation, but Haley said she supports anything that reduces income taxes. Haley wants to eventually eliminate corporate and personal income taxes, as a business recruitment tool. (emphasis added)

North Carolina has a golden opportunity to get ahead of the curve in terms of eliminating the most anti-growth state taxes. Learn more at: www.noincometaxnc.org

What WRAL Isn’t Telling You About BlueprintNC

While the media is reporting on an important political story, WRAL is leaving out key information about its deep connections to the group at the center of the story . The Charlotte Observer posted a story on BlueprintNC, a liberal group responsible for coordinating activities on the left, after a “confidential” 38 page strategy memo was leaked. Wral picked up on the story and posted the memo on line. But what has WRAL left out of the story?

The WRAL reporter left out the very deep connections WRAL has with BlueprintNC through its owner Jim Goodmon, donations and former employees. The AJ Fletcher Foundation has given $35,000 to BlueprintNC and $380,000 to the NC Justice Center which initially housed BlueprintNC when it was formed (the foundations 990 IRS reports are not current so there may be more) . The Goodmon family which owns WRAL has 4 family members on the board of the Fletcher Foundation including Barbara the President and Jim the chairman of the board. The Executive Director was formerly the head of the NC center for Voter Education, one of the original members of BlueprintNC. In addition Chris Fitzsimon, former WRAL reporter,  is head of the liberal NC Policy Watch, the original lead attack group in the Blueprint coalition. Fitzsimon is also provided free airtime on Goodmon owned WRAL-FM from which he launches daily attacks on political opponents. The Fletcher Foundation has been a long time funder of Policy Watch is now housed in the Justice Center.

Wral is also actually doing one of the items in the strategy memo. The memo on page 3 calls for tracking McCrory “Campaign Promises” and “slam him when he contradicts his promise.” WRAL appears to have taken that for action by launching their “Promise Tracker”, complete with cute little “Skull & Crossbones” symbols.

Civitas has previously written about BlueprintNC including this chart back in January 2010 (this contains a handy list for “legislative leaders” who might be interested in groups wishing to “eviscerate” or “cripple” them) . It played a key coordinating role leading up to the 2008 election and its extensive network became evident while investigating the role of ACORN in North Carolina. We also wrote about its role in the news you are getting.

It should also be noted that the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation which has given $425,000 to Blueprint and $2.7 million to the Justice Center which housed Blueprint, was headed succesively by Tom Ross the current UNC system President and Leslie Winner a former Democratic state senator and UNC VP.

Here’s One for the “There is No Voter Fraud” File

John Fund tells us in his National Review article  about, what the left would probably call, “just a little creative voting” in Cincinnati, Ohio during the 2012 General Election.

It seems that a poll worker (Democrat Melowese Richardson) proudly announced (to a TV station no less) that she had voted twice in her own name.  She also says she voted absentee ballots for her daughter and her brother, among others.  Richardson’s daughter also cast a ballot in person.

Richardson told Channel 9 that she had done nothing wrong and that she will fight the charges for President Obama. Ms. Richardson said, “I’ll fight it for Mr. Obama and for Mr. Obama’s right to sit as president of the United States.”

Sen. Berger: Council of State Must Vote Down Bad Deal on Dix

The Council of State will meet Tuesday morning at 9:00 and will face a decision of what do with the Dorothea Dix property in Raleigh. Governor Bev Perdue wants the other elected officials on the panel to approve a deal she worked out to allow the city of Raleigh to lease the land for 75 years.  Republicans leaders in the General Assembly say that’s a waste of very valuable land owned by the srtate and are urging the Council of State members not to go along with Perdue’s deal. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger the nonpartisan Fiscal and Program Evaluation Division estimates the lease deal, after factoring in inflation, is only worth $22.6 million.

“Even Gov. Perdue’s senior advisers readily admit her plan shortchanges North Carolina taxpayers,” said Berger. “I trust the Council of State will carefully weigh this important decision. And I know they understand their responsibility to be more than a rubber stamp for Gov. Perdue and her attempt to cobble together a last-minute legacy.”

Berger says the lease “dramatically” lower than even the most unfavorable appraisal of the property.

Gov Perdue Decides on State-Federal Health Exchange

Governor Bev Perdue today said it was her intent to form a state-federal partnership to run a health exchange under Obamacare. It was one of three choices, the others being a state run exchange or letting the federal government run it. She told a press conference she couldn’t speak for Governor elect Pat McCrory but the incoming executive said he had been talking to Perdue about a decision. Perdue said her decision would give the state a say…

Update: Governor elect Pat McCrory released a statement on Perdue’s announcement.

“Governor Perdue’s decision leaves flexibility for North Carolina in the future when it comes to the delivery of health care. I will be discussing this with more governors today, and will continue those discussions in the coming weeks to ensure the best results for North Carolina.”

Update: Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) issued the following response Thursday to Gov. Beverly Perdue’s press conference declaring her intent to establish a state-federal partnership exchange.

“Let’s set the record straight – it is not necessary or appropriate for Gov. Perdue to prematurely declare her intent to establish a state-federal partnership exchange.  The initial deadline for the state to make this declaration is February 15, 2013 – three months from today.  The voters elected a new legislature and governor last week and policy decisions of this magnitude should be left to them.”

Berger said he thinks it was reasonable for Perdue’s administration to apply for federal grants to keep the state’s options open, as long as it does not frivolously spend the tax dollars until the new leaders determine the next steps.

State House Speaker Tom Thillis spokesman Jordan Shaw sent an email with the Speaker’s position on Perdue’s decision.

Speaker Tillis had a conversation with Gov. Perdue about this latest step in a long process.  He looks forward to working with Governor-elect McCrory, Sen. Berger and other officials over the months ahead to make the best decision for North Carolina taxpayers.

That leaves the door open for the new Governor and the legislature to make the final decision on the health exchange and the possible expansion of Medicaid. Legislative leaders said during the last session of the General Assembly they did not want to expand Medicaid. So those decisions will be important priorities when the new session begins in January.

McCrory had not released a statement at the time this was posted. When he does we will update this post.

Art Pope greets his protesters

A small group of protesters showed up outside a luncheon in Raleigh sponsored by the Civitas Institute. A new poll on political races was to be unveiled. Businessman and former Republican legislator Art Pope was scheduled to speak at the luncheon. The protesters want Pope to resign from a new UNC advisory board to which he had recently been appointed. They claim Pope is using his money to hurt public education and buy elections. So, as he has done in the past, Pope went out to greet the small group and answer it’s accusations. See the video clip below..