Pete's Prep: Thursday, Feb. 2, 2018

posted by Pete Kaliner - 

Campaign to keep Amazon HQ out of NC over gay rights

"No gay, no way!" is the name of the campaign to convince (in other words: apply political and economic pressure on) Amazon to avoid locating it's HQ2 project in North Carolina - along with eight other states.

“It is shocking that Amazon would consider locating HQ2 with its over 50,000 employees in a state that doesn’t protect LGBT people or their families,” the campaign said. “In these nine states, it is legal to fire someone, deny them housing or refuse them service just because of who they are or who they love.”

Amazon has said it would hire 50,000 well-paid workers and spend $5 billion building its second headquarters in whichever city it chooses.

But while the cities in consideration may match up with Amazon’s wish list of a city with business-friendly environments, highly educated labor pools, strong transportation options and good quality of life, the ad hoc group that makes up “No gay? No way!” says Amazon needs to uphold its own values.

Will Tar Heel Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) join this cause? 

Or will they attempt to convince the LGBT activists in their ranks that recruiting businesses to the state is now a preferable course to take - rather than boycotting the state.

You'll recall, the left was all about the boycotting NC over the past two years - and pressuring businesses to stay away. Companies were feted when they announced they'd look to other states to set up operations, rather than move to a bigoted state with its bathroom law.

But now?

Well... Wake County Commissioner Greg Ford is able to find compelling and righteous reasons for a business to come here.

He tweeted today:

In NC, where a hostile Republican #NCGA denies legal protections for its own #LGBTQ citizens, we need more projects like #HQ2 from companies like @JeffBezos’s @amazon, with voluntary inclusion policies that will complement Raleigh’s LGBTQ-friendly environment.

Although I respect the sentiments behind #NoGayNoWay, I believe the effort may be self-defeating by discouraging LGBTQ-friendly business development projects like #HQ2 - which could serve as catalysts for the social and political changes in regions that need it most.

To our #NoGayNoWay allies: Instead of blacklisting our 11 cities and our fellow citizens’ fight for #LGBTQ rights in unfriendly political climates, flip your campaign. *Encourage* #HB2’s location in any one of the 11, for lasting change best comes from within.

When it hurts their political opponents, Democrats urge businesses to avoid North Carolina.

When it helps them and their political allies, Democrats urge businesses to choose North Carolina.



All the proof you need that charters help education in NC 

Reading through this report in the News & Observer, I was struck by this:

It’s good news that charter schools are trending in the right direction, said Yevonne Brannon of Public Schools First NC, a group that in the past has been critical about the expansion of charter schools. But Brannon said what the state should do 20 years after the first charter school opened is to give the same flexibility to traditional public schools.

“As long as we’re going to have two different sets of rules, we’re always going to have complaints from one side about funding and the other about governance and flexibility,” Brannon said.

When charters first came along, defenders of the status quo educational structure in the state attacked them as not providing adequate education for kids while robbing public schools of money. These folks also attack charters that don't have student populations diverse enough.

The criticisms continue, of course. But when a longtime opponent of charters says the state should let public schools operate with the same flexibility that charters have, it proves the concept is working.

Charter supporters have always argued that competition will improve quality among ALL school options. This is what that looks like. Public schools can imitate things that work in charters.

Whether the entrenched protectors of the status quo allow that, is another question.



The IRS was weaponized under the Obama administration

In today's Wall Street Journal, the founder of a pro-Israel group details how the IRS stalled the group's application for non-profit status for seven years - based on politics. 

We applied for tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code in December 2009—a process that usually takes three to six months.

Instead, the application languished. In late July 2010, an IRS agent truthfully responded to our lawyer’s query about why processing was taking so long: Z Street’s application was getting special scrutiny, the agent said, because it was related to Israel. Some applications for tax-exempt status were being sent to a special office in Washington for review of whether the applicants’ policy positions conflicted with those of the Obama administration.

So in August 2010 we sued the IRS for violating Z Street’s constitutional rights, including the First Amendment right to be free from viewpoint discrimination—government treatment that differs depending on one’s political position.

Now we know the truth, and it’s exactly as bad as we thought.

This is what happened to Tea Party groups, too.

The IRS actions essentially prevented the groups from fundraising and intimidated people from participating in the democratic process - for fear they'd attract attention from the IRS.



Would you like a third (or fourth) thumb?

I fail to see a downside.

After discussing this for an hour on the show yesterday, I think it's all upside on getting another thumb.

Here's the video that prompted the discussion:

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