The following dozen resolutions will be submitted for debate and action at the Watauga County Democratic Convention on Saturday, April 13, 2013.
The Convention will begin with luncheon at noon, followed by the Convention program at 1 p.m.
1. RESOLUTION TO REINSTATE THE NORTH CAROLINA TEACHING FELLOWS PROGRAM
Forwarded to the Convention by the Blue Ridge Precinct
WHEREAS it is essential to attract some of the brightest and best college students to become educators of our youth if we are to provide an education that not only gives them the background to compete globally on the international scale, but even more importantly to become good citizens in a democracy and lead happy, healthy lives; and
WHEREAS the N.C. Teaching Fellows program, which began in 1987, is such a program and has proven its worth with measurable gains in student achievement tests, innovative and effective teaching, the nurturing of future educational leaders, and an increase in minority and male role models; and
WHEREAS the N.C. State Legislature cut the program in 2011 in spite of the protests of school boards, universities and citizens throughout the state, and after overriding a veto by Governor Beverly Perdue; and
WHEREAS the cost of the program is a minimal part of the state budget but which effects maximum advantages;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party strongly supports the full reinstatement of the highly acclaimed and emulated North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program.
2. RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF OVERTURNING CITIZENS UNITED VS. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION
Forwarded to the Convention by the Blue Ridge Precinct
WHEREAS the Constitution of the United States clearly intends for one person to have one vote; and
WHEREAS corporations are not person; and
WHEREAS money and privilege warps and destroys the ideal of one person, one vote; and
WHEREAS the Supreme Court Ruling in Citizens United Vs. Federal Election Commission violates the concept of one person, one vote; and
WHEREAS our democracy must be restored to the people if our nation is to continue as a democracy;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party supports an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that overturns Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission and which makes other necessary provisions that eliminate the unfair use of money, privilege, and power to sway and elect our public officials.
3. RESOLUTION REGARDING THE RENOVATION OF AMERICAN LEGION HALL IN BLOWING ROCK
Forwarded to the Convention from the Blowing Rock Precinct
WHEREAS the Blowing Rock Town Council in October 2012 accepted a $142,500 matching grant award from the North Carolina Parks & Recreation Trust Fund, specifically for American Legion Hall improvements, such improvements to be completed within three years under the terms of the grant; and
WHEREAS the American Legion Hall has served as the heart of Blowing Rock for many years, a gathering place for people, regardless of resources; and
WHEREAS many groups, including extended families, churches, patriotic organizations, entrepreneurial and civic associations, have been able to use the American Legion Hall for meetings and for social occasions; and
WHEREAS competing proposals have been made that would greatly increase the costs for fixing the American Legion Hall;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Blowing Rock Precinct and the Watauga County Democratic Party urge the Blowing Rock Town Council to adopt the less expensive proposal for the renovation of the American Legion Hall, thereby helping to keep the rental on the building affordable and the building accessible to all.
4. RESOLUTION IN OPPOSITION TO DISSOLVING THE EXISTING BOARD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES IN WATAUGA COUNTY
Forwarded to the Convention by the Meat Camp, New River 2, and New River 3 Precincts
WHEREAS House Bill 438, signed into law last year, grants boards of county commissioners authority to abolish the county’s social services board and assume its powers and duties; and
WHEREAS Nathan Miller, Chair of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, has caused a resolution to be written which, if passed by the County Commission, would dissolve the county’s social services board and transfer its powers and duties to the County Commission; and
WHEREAS the Watauga County Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the dissolution of the board of social services on May 21 at 6 p.m., in the Commissioners Boardroom; and
WHEREAS the planned retirement of social services director Jim Atkinson is the proximate cause of this plan to dissolve the social services board, so that the County Commissioners will be in a position to hire Mr. Atkinson’s replacement rather than the board; and
WHEREAS Jim Atkinson himself testified in front of the County Commission on February 23, 2013, that a takeover of the social services board by the County Commission would introduce “political winds” into the administration of the county’s social services and unnecessarily “politicize” the director of social services; and
WHEREAS a County Commission takeover of the board of social services would undermine the authority of the Director of Social Services, who is employed in a specialized, sensitive area, while putting politicians without training in control; and
WHEREAS a County Commission takeover would burden the County Manager with much additional responsibility in matters of abused and neglected children (among many other problems in the purview of the Department of Social Services); and
WHEREAS the Ashe County Board of County Commissioners provided an example of commendable forbearance when, on February 18, 2013, they voted against grabbing the power of their social services board for themselves;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party opposes the plan for the Watauga County Board of County Commissioners to dissolve the board of social services while taking that board’s powers and duties for themselves.
5. RESOLUTION IN OPPOSITION TO FRACKING IN NORTH CAROLINA AND THE PLAN TO FAST-TRACK IT
Forwarded to the Convention by Meat Camp, New River 2, and New River 3 Precincts
WHEREAS on July 2, 2012, the new Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly overrode Governor Beverly Perdue’s veto of S820, the bill that would open North Carolina to the dangerous method of natural gas extraction called “fracking”; and
WHEREAS S820 contained some “safeguards” to protect the air and water of the state as well as the process, safeguards that were necessary to get the required votes to override the governor’s veto; and
WHEREAS a new bill, S76, introduced in the first days of the 2013 session of the North Carolina General Assembly, simply throws out the “safeguards” originally in S820, as follows:
- Removes the requirement that state lawmakers must approve rules before the first well can be drilled.
- Gives the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (now under the direction of John Skvarla, a climate change denier and science skeptic) the authority to start issuing permits on March 1, 2015, without the legislature’s say-so.
- Removes the state geologist and water and air experts from the state Mining and Energy Commission.
- Allows drillers to inject production waste fluids back into the ground.
- Hands the Energy Policy Council to the “Energy Jobs Council,” which involves firing and replacing everyone currently serving on that commission.
- Encourages offshore drilling exploration.
- Repeals the law requiring fracking “land men” to register with the state.
- Streamlines the permitting process to a single permit, removing checkpoints at which the Department of Environment and Natural Resources could look for problems.
WHEREAS North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections revealed in July 2012 that the fracking industry had poured some $600,000 into the campaign coffers of North Carolina legislators to grease the skids; and
WHEREAS the Raleigh News and Observer revealed on March 5, 2013, that there is a parallel effort in the North Carolina General Assembly to allow the pumping of toxic waste water produced by fracking (each fracking well produces 3-5 million gallons of toxic waste water) into deep wells along the North Carolina coast, which would overturn a prohibition passed in 1973 against dumping toxic substances into deep wells at the coast;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party opposes both S76, the removal of fracking safeguards, and the original S820, which removes the moratorium on fracking in the state of North Carolina.
6. END THE ASSAULT ON NORTH CAROLINA MUNICIPALITIES
Forwarded to the Convention by Meat Camp, New River 2, and New River 3 precincts
WHEREAS the attempts in 2012 to deprive the town of Boone of its extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) and to deny it a new water source on the South Fork of the New River were merely the opening shots in what has become a concentrated “war” on North Carolina’s municipalities in 2013 among the new Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly, as follows:
- House Bill 79 has been introduced in the NC House to amend the state’s constitution to make annexation by our cities virtually impossible. House Bill 79 “may not authorize any annexation initiated by a city, town, or other government subdivision unless the eligible voters living within the proposed area of annexation, and they alone, are allowed to vote, and the proposed annexation is approved by two-thirds of those voting.” This proposed constitutional amendment also contains a clause that would simply eliminate extra-territorial jurisdictions (ETJ), those zones immediately surrounding cities where development and building regs are applied and exercised by the municipalities.
- Since the constitutional amendment contained in H79 will require a vote of the people in the next General Election, House Bill 264 has been introduced to eliminate ETJs statewide immediately and by statute.
- In the summer of 2012, the new Republican majority in the General Assembly stripped the city of Asheville of its airport, placing it under an independent authority. Charlotte is also now targeted to lose control of its airport under Senate Bill 81. The fact that Asheville’s asset was seized is being cited as a clear precedent for the Charlotte seizure, and S81 has now cleared the Senate and has gone to the House.
- The Republicans in the General Assembly are preparing to take another unprecedented step: seizing Asheville’s water system and placing it under an independent authority whose composition and policies are determined by the state.
- House Bill 150 is advancing in the General Assembly which would nullify any town’s ability to impose development standards on housing and which would gut Boone’s recently passed Workforce Housing Ordinance. H150 has cleared a House committee and is now before the full House.
- Dual bills have been introduced in both the NC House and NC Senate to simply nullify a contract worked out between the State of North Carolina, under Governor Beverly Perdue, and the City of Raleigh to lease the old Dorothea Dix hospital track of land to the city for a “destination park.”
- House Bill 201 is advancing in the General Assembly. It would roll back energy efficiency standards in North Carolina building codes.
- The North Carolina League of Municipalities has highlighted another dozen problematic bills that seem aimed at our towns and cities and their ability to regulate their own growth and chose their own destinies through their own elected representatives.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party condemns the anti-municipal course that the North Carolina General Assembly has embarked on, because it will inevitably cripple our cities and towns, which are important economic drivers of our state’s economy, leading to higher unemployment, and the “war” on cities is devastating for the quality of life, property values, and environmental protections on which our citizens rely.
7. OPPOSED TO VOTER PHOTO ID IN NORTH CAROLINA
Forwarded to the Convention by Meat Camp, New River 2, and New River 3 precincts; Watauga Precinct concurring
WHEREAS no credible and verifiable evidence has ever existed in current North Carolina experience to suggest that voter impersonation (voter fraud) is an actual problem in North Carolina elections; and
WHEREAS the new Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly attempted to pass a roadblock to voting (voter photo ID) in 2011 but were thwarted by Governor Beverly Perdue’s veto; and
WHEREAS Republican leaders promised they would bring back voter photo ID when they had a Republican governor in office to sign it, which they now do; that legislation was introduced in the NC General Assembly on April 4, 2013; and
WHEREAS the North Carolina State Board of Elections found as many as 613,000 voters, or 9.25 percent of North Carolina’s voters, may not have a state-issued driver’s license or photo identification card (53 percent of the voters in question are Democrats and a quarter are over age 65. A disproportionate share, about 30 percent, are black); and
WHEREAS the legislation introduced on April 4th specifies that voters must pay for photo IDs unless they can show financial need, violating on the face of it a provision in the North Carolina Constitution which mandates that “elections shall be free”; and
WHEREAS Republican Speaker of the NC House Thom Tillis admitted on national television that voter fraud is virtually non-existent and that a photo ID law is required only to make Republicans feel more “comfortable”; and
WHEREAS an alternative solution to the non-existent problem of voter impersonation, Senate Bill 235 and House Bill 253, have been filed in the General Assembly that would guarantee that no imposters are voting and also guarantee that no one is turned away from voting for lack of a photo ID;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party opposes the Republican plan to impose a voter photo ID requirement on all voters and urges the passage of Senate Bill 235 and House Bill 253, if Republicans continue to insist on feeling “comfortable.”
8. North Carolina Voters Deserve the Ability to Recall Public Officials
Forwarded to the Convention by the Meat Camp, New River 2, and New River 3 precincts
WHEREAS at least 19 other states of the Union have public petition mechanisms to initiate recall elections of state elected public officials, and North Carolina does not; and
WHEREAS at least 29 states of the Union have public petition mechanisms to initiate recall elections of local elected public officials, and North Carolina does not; and
WHEREAS voter-initiated recall petitions provide a way for citizens to retain control over elected officials who are not representing the best interests of their constituents, or who are unresponsive or incompetent; and
WHEREAS we hold that any elected representative is an agent or a servant of the people and not a master;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party supports the establishment of recall petitions in North Carolina as a means of checking unfair, unbalanced, or the irrational exercise of power by elected officials, or unresponsive or incompetent representation.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The Right to Recall should include certain steps:
- The filing of an application with the State Board of Elections to circulate a recall petition.
- The circulation of a recall petition, gathering a specified number of signatures in a limited period of time.
- The submission of petitions to the State Board of Elections for verification of signatures.
- If sufficient valid signatures are presented, a recall election is held.
9. Support for a Progressive Tax System
Forwarded to the Convention from the Watauga Precinct
WHEREAS the Republican majority desires that North Carolina become a regressive tax state by voicing support for a sales-tax based support for government; and
WHEREAS school systems will suffer, turning North Carolina back in time and diminishing its reputation in education; those on fixed incomes and those in middle income and lower income brackets will suffer; and the wealthy will find ways to evade sales tax such as through international/internet purchasing, thereby negatively impacting the livelihood of many North Carolinians; and
WHEREAS the decline of educational support within a state can encourage a class system based on availability and ability to pay for private schools; and
WHEREAS the state income tax more equitably distributes the burden of taxation;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party calls on Watauga county voters to vigorously work against a sales-tax based tax system.
10. Support for Liberal Arts Education
Forwarded to the Convention by the Watauga Precinct
WHEREAS the Republican majority is not in favor of liberal arts education, an education which many fall back upon when their vocational major does not advance them into the future; and
WHEREAS not “training” but “education” and the teaching of critical thinking skills, communicating effectively and preparing for a broad range of possible job opportunities is the purpose of a liberal arts education; and
WHEREAS if it were called a conservative arts degree, Republicans would be all for higher education of this type; and
WHEREAS Governor McCrory’s own liberal arts education at Catawba College doesn’t seem to have hurt his own ability to get a job;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party calls on Watauga County voters to support the offering of liberal arts at the UNC system schools.
11. Condemn North Carolina’s Failure to Expand Medicaid Coverage and the Legislation to Prohibit an Insurance Exchange Under the Federal Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Forwarded to the Convention by the Watauga Precinct
WHEREAS Governor Pat McCrory signed the law that was fast-tracked by the new Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly that blocks both the expansion of Medicaid in the state (which the Federal government would have paid for) and North Carolina’s participation in the creation of a health insurance exchange under the Federal Affordable Care Act (labeled “Obamacare” by the Republicans); and
WHEREAS this new law which Governor McCrory signed immediately and negatively impacts some half-million low-income North Carolinians without health insurance and indirectly impacts another 700,000 middle-class families who need more affordable insurance that a state-run health insurance exchange could offer; and
WHEREAS, according to the health-care consultants at Regional Economic Models Inc., North Carolina’s participation in the Affordable Care Act would have created approximately 25,000 new jobs; increased the annual state GDP by $1.3 – $1.7 billion a year; increased total state revenues by $497 million by 2021; and saved $159 million over the next two years (and $65 million overall for the next 10 years); and
WHEREAS those economic advantages are now ruled out by the governor’s signing of the Republican’s anti-Obamacare law;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party condemns the actions of both the Republicans in the General Assembly and the Governor of North Carolina and regrets that the health and economy of our state must now suffer so that an anti-Obama radicalism can have its moment of spite.
12. RESOLUTION TO INCLUDE COUNTY & MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN THE DEFINITION OF “COVERED PERSONS” AND “PUBLIC SERVANTS” UNDER NC GENERAL STATUTE, CHAPTER 138A, “STATE GOVERNMENT ETHICS ACT”
Forwarded to the Convention by New River 2, New River 3, and Meat Camp precincts
WHEREAS a strong and clear code of ethics for locally elected officials promotes and strengthens the faith and confidence of citizens in their elected officials; and
WHEREAS the Watauga County Democratic Party believes locally elected officials should be held to the highest moral and ethical standards; and
WHEREAS Democrats strongly support organizational policies and procedures that maintain the public’s trust and confidence and ensure fair dealings in all local transactions; and
WHEREAS residents of Watauga County have a right to expect open and honest public service of elected officials; and
WHEREAS the public must be assured that decisions are made independently, free of any conflict of interest through the appropriate decision-making channels; and
WHEREAS locally elected officials involved in the distribution of public funds should not engage in conflicts of interest; and
WHEREAS ethics standards are the foundation for good government; and
WHEREAS government should be transparent and accessible to all residents of Watauga County; and
WHEREAS the Watauga Republican Party refused to pass a similar resolution calling for a Code of Ethics at its County Convention, as discussed by Deborah Greene on the High Country Press website;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party supports inclusion of locally elected officials in the definition of “covered persons” and “public servants” under NCGS Chapter 138, “State Government Ethics Act”;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Watauga County Democratic Party will send a copy of this resolution to State Senator Dan Soucek and House Representative Jonathan Jordan, encouraging them to introduce a legislative bill to this effect.