Progressive Pitbull | Indy Week

Progressive Pitbull 
Member since Sep 28, 2007


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Re: “Statewide offices

I disagree with your endorsement of the Labor Commissioner race. I supported and voted for John Brooks for Labor Commissioner. While I do not know either of the two female candidates, I am not sure that affiliation with former Labor Commissioner Harry Payne is a good enough reason to support someone currently running for the seat. You gave a very incomplete and I find biased interpretation of a man who served 4 terms as Labor Commissioner in NC and who had his name attached to more pro-labor court precedents than any other labor commissioner - before him or after him. He's also a passionate progressive Democrat, dedicated to being fair and doing the right thing. That is why he sits on the NC Democratic Party Council of Review. And if you want to know how good a friend he is to the working person - ask his friend and labor organizer P.R. Latta who is John's treasurer. I don't think that Harry Payne's high regard was with the working people of NC - especially not this working person. While he didn't have anything like the almost hostile indifference towards working people that the current labor commissioner has, he sure wasn't the advocate for working people that he should have been. After the Hamlet fire, it became evident that NC-OSH inspectors couldn't cite violators for locked fire doors or building code violations. That was changed right after the fire, but after Payne got elected the General Assembly set things back the way it was before the fire. One reason that the Hamlet plant was not inspected all those years was there was not enough money in the budget to have enough inspectors to inspect every business in NC. The General Assembly hasn't had a very good history of doing what needs to be done to protect working people in NC. OSH workplace inspections can also occur if an employee makes a complaint to NC-OSHA, but the Hamlet workers said they would be fired for making such complaints. There was some protection under federal 11(c) anti discrimination law, but that gave the worker no right to sue for damages other than for wrongful termination - which is hard to prove in NC courts. I am not sure exactly who regarded former Labor Commissioner Harry Payne so highly, but it couldn't have been anyone who ever submitted a REDA complaint him. Payne's office seemed less interested in enforcement than in cooperating with employers. I turned in a REDA complaint to the NC WORD agency, and I saw a copy of a questionnaire sent to my former employer - the DOL seemed very concerned that the employers felt they were treated fairly. No such questionnaire was sent to complainants. After the Hamlet fire, the state passed a new law to prevent retaliatory employment discrimination for engaging in protected activity like complaining to OSHA, and a new NC DOL department was set up to handle complaints much like the US EEOC - with the same time requirements and right to sue letters. However, in Payne's two terms - the state took no companies to court for violating the law. They did go to court to defend them taking forever to investigate complaints and then issuing a right to sue letter after the statutory deadlines. Payne's WORD agency didn't even seem capable of using US DOL 11(c) case law to test the proffered reasons an employee might have been fired to see if they were pretextual. If the proffered reason was pretextual (false), then the employee wins. And they were not very friendly to aggrieved employees who wanted to look at information that was public - like manuals for conducting NC REDA/WORD investigations - to see if WORD personnel were handling their case properly. I also attended a public hearing where testimony on proposed NC OSH rules changes was being taken. Only two witnesses came to offer testimony - a mouthpiece for NC Citizens for Business and Industry and me. The NC DOL lawyers were treating the NC CBI mouthpiece like he was some sort of celebrity. Perhaps to ensure they would get a good reference when they quite DOL and went to work for a management law firm to guide employers in how to screw their employees and stay out of court. BTW - I have received two returned e-mails from Mary Font Donnan when I tried to contact her for some campaign signs for the Wake Democratic Party sign bundling effort: > mary@maryfantdonnan.com > SMTP error from remote mailer after RCPT TO:: > host maryfantdonnan.com [74.55.38.98]: 550 No Such User Here > Chris Telesca

Posted by Progressive Pitbull on 04/24/2008 at 1:34 PM

Re: “Indy Endorsements 2007

Let's hope that next week's Independent presents both the PROS and the CONS of IRV. And there are many CONS that voters should be aware of. But in almost every article written about IRV in NC, it's being written with the author reporting mostly one side of the issue. And letters to the editor, even if they get published, hardly have the impact of a published story. Let's also hope that the article also presents the fact this an experimental program- not a done deal. By law - this is supposed to be a "pilot program" - an experiment with local elections in 2007 and county elections in 2008 that is to be conducted by the State Board of Elections and evaluated by the Legislature. Many NC counties elected not to participate in the was rejected by many county Boards of Elections for being too complex and hard to understand both for candidates, voters and for the elections officials to administer. Where have you read that in the pro-IRV puff pieces? 6 communities considered it - and 4 rejected flat out rejected it. What did the 4 communities know the other two did not? The 4 that rejected IRV first gave a fair, impartial and PUBLIC hearing to both sides, and then took the time to take public comment and/or go back into the community and ask their constituents for advice. Did that happen in Cary and Hendersonville? IRV was snuck under the rug in Hendersonville in such a way that not even the Henderson County Democratic party chair knew what was going on until after it was already a done deal. They asked the candidates - shouldn't they have asked the chairs of all political parties too? Or maybe deals had been made with the heads of third parties behind the backs of the two major parties? This may be a great job of one-sided lobbying, but please don't try and label the IRV sales job as being democratic. And don't claim that you are non-partisan if you are working closely with third parties and leaving out any others. In all but a few instances, IRV is being hyped as a done deal - that IRV is hear to stay. That sounds like the agenda of the constituency groups who are pushing it, but that's not what a pilot project is supposed to be. The whole purpose of an experiment should be to propose a hypothesis (IRV is simple and easily understandable by voters, saves money, etc.) and then set up some criteria free of bias to objectively measure or otherwise gather data for use in evaluating the success or failure of the experiment. The problem is, it doesn't appear that the SBOE is going to evaluate the experiment in any way at all - unless they let the chief advocate of IRV (the head of a non-profit that is pushing IRV) to set up the experimental criteria, decide what data to gather, gather it, and then decide what data to release and how to release it. That is hardly an unbiased or objective way to conduct an experiment.

Posted by Progressive Pitbull on 09/28/2007 at 11:33 AM

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