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- published 3/27 (Larry) - unpublished ?

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Opinion

Not so long ago, it wasn’t uncommon to hear stories about lobbyists piling undated checks, made out to legislators’ campaigns, on their desks as they awaited the end of North Carolina’s legislative session.

For decades, lobbyists and their employers were prohibited by state law from contributing to legislators’ political campaigns while the legislature met. The ban was intended to prevent a contribution just as a legislator considered a bill that would directly affect the contributor.

In 2006, lawmakers banned lobbyists from contributing any time. The in-session ban, though, still applies to the companies, trade associations and others — in legislative parlance they are called lobbying principals — who employ lobbyists.

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The General Assembly is required by law to follow the North Carolina Constitution which states in Article 1, Section 2 “all political power is vested in and derived from the people ... and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.” They should be upholding Article 1, Section 19 of the North Carolina Constitution, which ensures “no person shall be denied equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be subjected to discrimination by the State because of race, color, religion, or national origin.” The Constitution calls us to a higher place where a “divide and conquer” strategy has no place.

Despite the noble call of our Constitution there is a strange spirit in the halls of the North Carolina General Assembly. The NC General Assembly reconvened last night with two major agenda items: to repeal the Racial Justice Act and pass a Voter Photo ID law that, if accomplished, would have a disparate impact on African Americans, the elderly and other minorities.

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In younger days, I displayed a “Question Authority” bumper sticker on my vehicle. Though I am no longer much of a bumper sticker kind of guy, the sentiment of being suspect of “authority” hasn’t waned. The current scandal involving Penn State University and child molestation charges against a former assistant football coach, including the 2002 reported rape of a 10-year-old boy, highlights the frequent facade of “authority.”

Former Penn State assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, 67, is facing a slew of charges ranging over a 15-year period. According to the grand jury report, several witnesses as well as individuals should have been suspect of Sandusky. Any one of them could have stepped forward and made a stand. They remained virtually silent, none so deafening as those at Sandusky’s alma mater Penn State.

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From Wall Street to Main Street to Depot Street, our recent economic instability has forever changed the way the world conducts and supports business. Especially in America, our spending and saving habits have been altered so drastically over the past few years that we would practically be unrecognizable to our former selves! But what exactly has changed within our societies? And is it ultimately for the better?

One of the most popular grassroots campaigns running rampant across the globe has been to “Shop Local,” “Support Independent Businesses,” and “Start at Home.” But catch-phrases aside, are movements like these really capable of helping us stabilize and grow our local economies? Can something as simple as where you buy your loaf of bread or who prints your t-shirts make that much of a difference?

 

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published: 10/18/2013
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