Friday, July 15, 2011

Republican candidates Fuller and Meares officially join 2012 race for Wilmington City Council.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / Saturday, July 16, 2011

Republicans Napier Fuller and Frank Christopher Meares got in under the wire late this week to file for the Wilmington City Council race. They join a crowded field of candidates vying for three council seats in the 2012 Fall municipal elections.

In addition to Fuller and Meares, those in contention include Ricky Meeks, Joshua Fulton, and Matt Hinson.
Rounding out the field are incumbents Laura Padgett and Ronald Sparks, and former City Council member Margaret Haynes. Incumbent Kristi Campos is not on the fall ballot.

Napier Fuller issued this press release on Thursday, July 14, as he officially filed for a 2012 City Council run:

Fuller’s foremost concern is creating stable jobs that serve real needs: “The future of our regional economy depends upon attracting and retaining high wage, knowledge-based jobs and expanding the tourism and service sector.

"When the regional economy does rebound -- and it will -- we shall find ourselves in an altogether different marketplace for labor. I think it’s a mistake to think we can wait this downturn out, and eventually employment levels will return to ‘normal.’ Rather, we should prepare for fundamental changes to the labor market and be ahead of the curve.”

Fuller has already secured the powerful endorsement of Councilman Charlie Rivenbark, the highest vote getter in the last city council election held in November, 2009. To further demonstrate a commitment to victory, Fuller has hired Coastal Political Strategies, a DC consulting firm with Wilmington ties, to provide strategic advice.

The Fuller Campaign Committee is today (July 14) placing 5,000 robo calls to voters starting at 2:00PM. The campaign will also begin running a 60 second radio ad, July 15-22.

Fuller has run for office once before. In 2010 Fuller, a moderate Republican, ran and lost in the GOP primary for a seat on the New Hanover County Commission that ultimately went to Brian Berger.

This is Fuller’s second race: “I’m excited to be running for City Council and thrilled to have bipartisan support. Currently, there are no Republicans on City Council and I’m hoping to change that. However, it’s important to remember that municipal elections in North Carolina are by nature non-partisan, and this makes sense as it’s hard to apply political ideology in deciding, for example, whether or not to add a pedestrian crossing to improve safety at an intersection.”

In an exclusive interview for USA DOT COM, Fuller revealed how he will approach the challenges of the campaign: "I am determined to run a hard campaign, raise the money needed to win, and really get out there and shake a lot of voters' hands and get the message out."

Fuller said the city faces very serious challenges that will have to be addressed by the new Council.

"The unemployment rate is officially 9.2 percent, but with the major under-employment level, and people going back to school early, the real rate is probably at least twice that."

He also expressed a need to work on traffic planning "a major headache" for the city. Fuller has a master's degree in urban planning, and said he "is definitely up on some of the more technical aspects of traffic planning."

Major traffic issues on the table right now, he stated, include the Skyway, Market Street Corridor, and Third Street improvements.

"We have to adjust to the cessation of annexation, so the city has to live within its means. With the existing tax base, they have already gobbled up so much of Landfall and Middle Sound. There is no way we should begin to nibble away at these other suburban communities."

Fuller said he is committed to "improving the downtown quality of life," as well as doing "sound and intelligent planning to developing the urban corridor around PPD and the Holmes Bridge. There a lot of vacant land there, and this is a great opportunity to add some magnificent buildings on that side of town."

The candidate, 37, is married and has one child, and serves as VP Business Development at Atlantic Brokerage, Inc.

FRANK CHRISTOPHER MEARES, 28, a newcomer to municipal campaigning and politics, identifies himself as a "second-generation Wilmingtonian with a passion for finding a mix of preservation of the city's historic buildings while providing comfort, safety and modern amenities to urban dwellers and visitors.

"My ancestors moved here over 100 years ago," he said. His paternal grandfather was a woodcutter, and his maternal grandfather established a downtown antiques and armory business that was very popular and successful in earlier years.

Meares has been married for four years. He is employed by the local American Red Cross as the central supply officer. Currently he is completing an Associates Degree in Political Science in preparation for tranferring to UNCW to pursue a four-year degree in the same field.

He will stake his claim to an agenda touting small government, fewer regulations on business, and fiscal restraint. He proposes to base his campaign on multi-media messaging and door-to-door contact with Wilmington citizens.

McIntyre deliberately misleads on fundraising numbers. It just don't add up!

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

 July 15, 2011
Andy Yates


Wilmington, NC:  Pantano for Congress spokesman Andy Yates released the following statement today calling out Congressman McIntyre and his campaign for deliberately misleading the public on the sources of their campaign contributions:

 “Yesterday morning Congressman Mike McIntyre and his campaign released a statement on his second quarter fundraising numbers claiming, without offering any proof, that during the second quarter that ‘nearly 70% of the (McIntyre’s) contributions came from individual contributors.’  However, when McIntyre filed his campaign finance report with the FEC, this claim turned out to be blatantly false.

“McIntyre’s own FEC report shows on line 6 (a) that during the 2nd quarter of 2011 he raised $286,126.93, on line 11 (a) (iii) $148,140.14 came from individual contributors, on line 11 (b) that $811.43 came from Political Party Committees, and on line 11(c) $137,175.36 came from ‘Other Political Committees (Such As PACs).’  These numbers taken directly from McIntyre’s FEC report (available at clearly show that McIntyre did not raise ‘nearly 70%’ of his contributions from individuals.  In reality he raised 48% of his money from PACs and special interest groups and only 52% from individual contributors.

“Congressman McIntyre and his campaign made an intentional choice to put out a press release announcing their bogus claim before filing their actual report. The media and the public took the Congressman at his word, but when the actual report was filed late yesterday it showed a different story entirely.  
"The Congressman should immediately apologize to the media and the people of the 7th District for deliberately misleading them about the sources of his campaign contributions."


Is the pen mightier than the sword? It is when NCGOP redraws district map!

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 15, 2011
- The Charlotte Observer
Republican mapmakers are already back at the drawing board, reconfiguring congressional districts in response to claims that their current plan dilutes the influence of African-American voters in Eastern North Carolina.

GOP Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthews, who chairs the Senate Redistricting committee, said lawmakers are responding to concerns by Democratic U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who represents the 1st District.
Any changes would have a ripple effect on other districts.

Butterfield, one of the state's two African-American congressmen, has criticized proposed changes to his district.

The GOP plan would make the 1st District a true majority-minority district by extending it into Raleigh with a net increase of 44,000 voting-age African-Americans. But in doing so, the plan would move 58,000 black voters currently in the 1st District into the 3rd District, represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones.

Butterfield and other critics have suggested that would run afoul of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, designed to prevent the dilution of African-American votes.

"We are looking at the 1st District and trying to make adjustments," Rucho said Thursday. "What we're looking at is attempting to get it reasonably designed so we can get pre-clearance."

Under the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Justice Department must approve or pre-clear any election-related changes. Republican lawmakers have said they may also ask a federal court to approve their plans.

Butterfield has said he's particularly concerned about the proposed removal of five eastern counties from his district. In testimony read at last week's public hearing, he said that would dilute the voting power of African-Americans in those counties, each of which is specially protected by the Voting Rights Act.

"The explanation is a political motive," he wrote, "to disenfranchise minority voters and to reduce their influence in adjoining districts."

Anita Earls, executive director of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice and adviser to the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the Republican plan would mean "retrogression" for the affected black voters, a legal term that means reduced opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.

"That's the retrogression question: Does it make protected voters worse off?" she said. "And it does."

Any changes to the 1st District would set off ripples that could reach Wake County and beyond.
Based on North Carolina's population, the ideal population for each of the 13 congressional districts is 733,499. Court rulings call for "zero deviation." That means all 13 districts have to be virtually equal.
Under the Republican plan, seven districts are right at the ideal. Five others have 733,498 people. One has 733,500.

"It has a huge impact on the rest of the map," Rucho said. "You press one side of the balloon and it ripples across. Whatever occurs, it's thanks to Congressman Butterfield."

Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College, said any changes would probably be felt most in the 3rd District and the Wilmington-based 7th District, represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre. But they could affect other districts in Wake County, which is divided among the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 13th districts under the GOP plan.

"It's going to have a ripple impact across the state," Bitzer said, "but it's going to have its biggest impact down east."

In a statement, Butterfield said he would welcome changes. "If the reports are true, I am comforted to know that the General Assembly recognizes that the minority vote is being diluted under the (Republican) plan and changes may be forthcoming," he said.

Rucho said any changes would be made by early next week. The redistricting committees are scheduled to meet Thursday. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the plans the following week.

Tags: politics | North Carolina | redistricting | congressional districts | House | Senate | GOP

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059

Poll: Perdue trails McCrory by eight points as Democratic base erodes. Oh boy!

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) -- A new poll shows Republican Pat McCrory with a solid lead in hypothetical rematch of his 2008 race against Gov. Bev Perdue.

Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling found McCrory leads the incumbent Democrat 47 percent to 39 percent. McCrory gets 83 percent of the Republican vote, while only 67 percent of Democrats will commit to voting for Perdue. And she trails by a 57/28 margin with independents as well.

PPP says the story with Perdue's poll numbers doesn't change much. Just 34 percent of voters this month say they're happy with the job Perdue's doing while 49 percent disapprove.

The biggest obstacle to Perdue seeing a significant improvement in her numbers, according to the poll continues, is a lack of support for her from Democrats. 

Only 55 percent of them give her good marks to 25 percent who dissent. PPP's analysts say you usually expect a governor to be at 70 or higher with voters in their own party. With independents, Perdue gets just a 31-percent approval rating compared to 57 percent who disapprove.

PPP says McCrory is a pretty popular figure, with 29 percent of voters rating him favorably to 23 percent with a negative opinion of him. The pollsters say 48 percent with no opinion indicates a lot of voters have already forgotten McCrory since his 2008 campaign, so he will have a lot of reintroducing of himself to do once he formally enters the race.

For more analysis on this poll check out

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In Alabama, churches lead opposition to immigration law. Coming soon to a church near you?

Verne Strickland Blogmaster   July 14, 2011




HuffPost / AOL News

Alabama Immigration Law Churches

In this June 25, 2011 file photo, marchers leave a park in Birmingham, Ala., during a protest against Alabama's new law cracking down on undocumented immigration. (AP photo)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- For some believers and church leaders, opposing Alabama's toughest-in-the-nation law against undocumented immigration is a chance for Bible Belt redemption.

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, many state churches didn't join the fight to end Jim Crow laws and racial segregation. Some cross-burning Ku Klux Klan members took off their hoods and sat in the pews with everyone else on Sunday mornings, and relatively few white congregations actively opposed segregation. Some black churches were hesitant to get involved for fear of white backlash.

Now that Alabama has passed what's widely considered the nation's most restrictive state law against undocumented immigration, mainstream churches, faith-based organizations and individual members are leading opposition to the act. Some see their involvement as a way to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.
"I think what happened in the `60s may be a stimulus for the action that you have seen many of the churches taking on this," said Chriss H. Doss, an attorney and ordained Southern Baptist minister.

Matt Lacey, pastor of a United Methodist church once attended by Birmingham's infamous segregationist police commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor, said there are all sorts of reasons Alabama Christians are opposed to the law. Making amends for the past inaction of religious groups is among them, he said.

"For me, as pastor of a church that was engaged in that battle, it is very important," said Lacey. "If we take redemption very seriously, then it not only covers our sins but our past actions as a church. I think for some, there is a tendency to want to be on the side of right on this issue. ... I would like to think the church just wants to do what's right."

At 56, the Rev. Al Garrett is old enough to recall some faith communities sitting on the sidelines during the civil rights movement. Garrett, who helped organize a prayer rally that drew a few hundred people Sunday night in Huntsville, said the difference now is uplifting.
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"I've thanked God that I've been here to see the way people of faith are taking a stand on this," he said.
After a prayer for wisdom, members of the Birmingham City Council recently passed a unanimous resolution calling for the repeal of the law. That same day, ministers and lay people gathered to discuss opposition to the law in the same church where, more than 50 years ago, white segregationists gathered to form a group to oppose white and black children going to school together.

Urged to come to a rally and candlelight march sponsored by churches and faith-based groups, a diverse crowd estimated around 2,000 marched quietly through downtown streets on a recent Saturday night near where police dogs snapped at black demonstrators two generations ago.

An interfaith prayer walk planned for July 30 in Montgomery will pass Martin Luther King Jr.'s first church on the way to the steps of Alabama's Capitol. And more than 100 United Methodist ministers – many of them moderate to liberal, but some also on the conservative side – signed an open letter to the governor criticizing the law.

Believers are doing more than praying and protesting. The ecumenical Greater Birmingham Ministries, along with two ministers and a Montgomery-area church member who works with Hispanics, were among the groups and individuals who filed a federal lawsuit last week attempting to have the law declared unconstitutional.

Doss is struck by the differences between 2011 and 1963, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" to seven white moderate ministers and a rabbi who were publicly urging him to go slower with the campaign to end legalized segregation. Many black churches also were slow initially to embrace the cause of civil rights in Birmingham, where Klan night riders roamed with bombs for years.

"There were a number of black ministers who took a more conservative position that they were not going to get involved publicly. Their involvement greatly increased through the years," said Wayne Coleman, head of archives at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Churches had little to say about the bill as it moved through the Alabama Legislature, but that could be because they were overwhelmed for weeks providing food and other assistance to victims of the deadly tornadoes that swept across the state on April 27, killing more than 240 people.

In contrast, denominational leaders were outspoken at the Georgia General Assembly as a similarly tough law moved toward final passage in Atlanta. Religious leaders have been less vocal in Georgia since legislators passed the law, but a federal judge blocked key provisions of that act this week.

Now in Alabama, leaders among the state's fast-growing Hispanic community hope the involvement of churches will help lead to a repeal of the law, signed earlier this month by Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, a Southern Baptist deacon and Sunday school teacher.

"It's huge to have the faith community come together and speak out in such great numbers against this new law," said Isabel Rubio, executive director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama. "Because we're in the middle of the Bible Belt, we certainly expect that the faith communities' influence ... will land on folks' ears who are willing to listen."

Religious opposition to the new law – which has included not just Christian churches but Jewish and Muslim congregations – is two-fold.

Some Christians see the issue in faith terms when they compare biblical instructions to welcome strangers and love others with the law's ban on helping undocumented immigrants secure a place to live, a job, health care other than for emergencies and even a ride to the store. Under the law, police can check anyone's immigration status during a traffic stop or other encounter and jail people without bond if they don't have proper documents.

Fernando del Castillo, pastor of a Spanish-speaking congregation of about 300 people in metro Birmingham, is particularly worried about a provision requiring that schools check the immigration status of students and report the information to the state. He fears some immigrant parents will be afraid to send their children to school when classes resume in August.

"Will they keep them at home? I don't know," del Castillo said.

Others are worried the law could criminalize mission work with undocumented immigrants.
"They wonder if this is the beginning of infringing on freedoms that the church has considered its bailiwick," Doss said.

Leaders of the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church all have criticized the law as running counter to biblical teachings about caring for neighbors, helping visitors and showing hospitality to strangers.

The state's largest denomination, the Alabama Baptist Convention, hasn't taken a position publicly and likely won't since it doesn't speak for individual churches. Convention president Mike Shaw, pastor of a church in suburban Birmingham, said the law "is the toughest in the nation and personally I think all laws need to be enforced."

"I am concerned about the language concerning giving a ride in an automobile to an illegal immigrant or allowing children of illegal immigrant parents to ride on a church bus to Sunday school, vacation Bible school, or church camp," he said in a statement. "Should we ignore people who are injured or have broken down on the side of a busy interstate highway and have small children in sweltering heat with no family or friends to help them?"

Associated Press Writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Calls for Eric Holder to resign focus on down and dirty gunrunning deal in Mexico.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster    July 12, 2011


The Florida Republican says Holder handled a gun trafficking operation ineptly.

Allen West Calls for Resignation of AG Eric Holder


Posted: 07/11/2011 12:16 PM EDT
Filed Under Allen West, Eric Holder

Rep. Allen West, one of two Black Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, thinks President Obama should force Attorney General Eric Holder to resign because of the controversy surrounding a program conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Explosives Firearms (ATF) called “Operation Fast and Furious.”

The program was essentially a sting operation that allowed “straw purchasers” authorized by the agencies to run guns in Mexico to find weapons and drug traffickers. Unfortunately, the ATF, which is part of DOJ, didn’t adequately monitor of all of the guns and some of them are turning up in crime scenes, including the Arizona-Mexico border where a border patrol agent was killed in December.

In an interview with Nashville radio host Steve Gill last week, West said, “The president needs to realize that Eric Holder needs to be removed from the Department of Justice,”The Daily Caller reports.

If Obama doesn’t push Holder out, West added, the president would be “complicit” in what he called Justice Department’s attempts to thwart a congressional investigation of the operation.

“This is just another sad chapter in the Eric Holder book of ineptness and incompetence,” West said.

Acting ATF director Kenneth Melson and his personal attorney met secretly with congressional lawmakers on July 4 and testified that DOJ has sought to “limit and control his communications with Congress,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-California) and Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a letter to Holder.

“The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities,” they said, and urged the Department of Justice to be “much more candid and forthcoming” as their investigations continue.

Monday, July 11, 2011

82nd Airborne unhappy with Iraq, Afghanistan troop withdrawals. Fighters fear end of war.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster    July 11, 2011


First Posted: 7/11/11 12:46 PM ET Updated: 7/11/11 03:39 PM ET

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Among the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne's 1st Brigade Combat Team, there's a sinking feeling the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will fade away. Instead of an exciting and challenging combat tour, they'll be relegated to the dread "garrison life" here at Fort Bragg.
For those who enlisted after 9/11, combat deployments have been an expected part of the deal. The constant cycle of deployments of the past decade has no doubt been tough on families, and the strain is exacting a cost on the physical and mental fitness of those in uniform; certainly there are some who are sick of it.

But others are eager to get in at least one last deployment before the fighting ends, dreading a life confined their home base, with its 9-to-5 routine and endless training for a war that never comes. They signed up to go to war. They are good at it, especially the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan which demands courage, physical stamina, ingenuity and individual initiative.

"I'm afraid I'm not going to get the chance to go again," said Spec. Brenton Parish, a 21-year-old paratrooper from Fond du Lac, Wis. "I like doing my job, and I can only do that when I'm deployed," he told The Huffington Post.

In few other endeavors is a 21-year-old given responsibility for the lives of a dozen of his or her colleagues, or charged with negotiating a peace deal with village elders and tribesmen.

Increasingly over the past decade, Americans in uniform have come to think of themselves as professionals, and war is their profession.

"We're itching to go back -- our boys are out there," said Sgt. Brandon Mendes, 27, from St. Louis, a communications specialist. "As the most free nation in the world, there's a responsibility that goes with that. Everybody sees a purpose to it; we're out there doing something."

For these soldiers, life at war is simpler, more exciting and more fulfilling than life at home at Fort Bragg or Camp Lejeune. Out there, "down-range" in the military vernacular, young sergeants and lieutenants hold power. Often they are leading their men on dangerous missions that carry important strategic weight: convincing village elders to side with the Afghan government and not with the Taliban.
It is meaningful work laced with adrenalin -- and no worries about car payments or babysitters.Not to be overlooked: pay is tax-free in a war zone, and there's an extra $550 a month paid for hazardous duty.

In contrast, life at home -- in garrision -- is routine, and there's enough brass around that more strict attention is paid to carefully mowed lawns, spotless uniforms, shined shoes and meticulous barbering.

"I want to get in at least one more deployment, to Afghanistan," said Capt. Tom Cieslak, a staff officer with the 1st Brigade. "If we're going back to garrison life, to pressed and starched uniforms and all that? After my seven years of war, I don't think I could do that."

Deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are slowing dramatically. Of the 46,000 troops left in Iraq, many units already shipping home and not being replaced. Two battalions are coming back from Afghanistan this summer, followed by a third battalion this fall. They will not be replaced.

"Yeah, it seems to be toning down," Spec. Nicholas Weeks, a 21-year-old paratrooper from Payette, Idaho, said recently. "I definitely want to go again. That's why I joined. I like deployments a lot more than being in garrison; on deployment we're actually doing our job."

Until recently, the deployment cycle was rigid and predictable: as one brigade was preparing to leave the war zone, another was arriving to take its place with a third training to go. Deployments were planned years in advance; after arriving home, commanders had barely a year to receive and train new soldiers and Marines, restock equipment and retrain before they were off on another deployment.

But that momentum has been broken. There are some brigades that aren't even on the future deployment schedule.

Not only is the deployment cycle slowing down, but both the Army and Marine Corps are due to shed the extra manpower they were allotted at the height of the fighting in Iraq -- about 22,000 troops -- with potential future cuts reaching as much as 40,000 personnel.

When announcing the phased withdrawal of 33,000 troops from Afghanistan last month, President Obama declared: "The tide of war is receding."

"Guys are starting to smell it," said Army Col. Mark Stock, who commands the 1st Brigade Combat Team. He said soldiers are already frantically conniving and trading to get into a brigade that's scheduled to deploy.
There are some who are so accustomed to life in combat that they simply are uncomfortable back home, even living on a military base. It's not unknown for combat veterans to volunteer for back-to-back deployments.

"I feel safer over there than here," said a sergeant who has deployed numerous times in Iraq and Afghanistan and is no longer on active duty. "I know what the situation is, I trust the guys over there. I don't trust hardly anybody here."

Garrison life can be more dangerous than living in Afghanistan. In a major study released last year, the Army reported that a small but growing number of soldiers who perform credibly in combat turn to high-risk behavior at home, including drug abuse, drunk driving, motorcycle street-racing, petty crime and domestic violence.

The study, commissioned by Gen. Peter Chiarelli, assistant chief of staff, estimated that 40,000 soldiers are using drugs illicitly, and misdemeanor offenses are rising by 5,000 cases a year. Among the growing number of Army suicides -- which soared past the civilian rate and reached a record 300 cases last year -- almost half had never deployed from garrison.

In addition to the suicides, the Army study noted there were 107 fatal accidents among its active-duty soldiers and 50 murders in 2009, part of an ugly toll of 345 active-duty, non-combat deaths -- about 100 more than were killed in combat that year.

According to the report's authors, platoon sergeants and company commanders who gave their soldiers a great deal of freedom to maneuver in Afghanistan were failing to provide close supervision once their soldiers returned to the temptations of garrison life.

"Simply stated, we are often more dangerous to ourselves than the enemy," the study concluded.

Still, not all soldiers are unhappy to see the wars winding down.

Capt. Bryan Morgan, 30, an airborne company commander from Indianola, Wash., fought a hard tour in Ramadi, in western Iraq, in 2004, and recently went back for a second year as an adviser to the Iraqi security forces.

"I'm glad to see the end of it," he said recently. "I'm glad that we accomplished something. I lost some friends over there, and Iraq has improved, the standard of living is better, and the police I worked with are more honest. That's the end state everybody's worked for."