Saturday, August 29, 2020

Voter suppression is alive and well





Roger Carlton



  Roger Carlton writes about a subject on the minds of all of us at this time. He is columnist for the Graham Star Newspaper in Robbinsville, NC
The right to vote is so important that it appears in Article 1 of the Constitution. Responsibility for keeping the voting process fair was granted to the legislatures in 1787. The goal of suppressing votes began in earnest nearly immediately.


African American men were not granted the right to vote until 1870. The southern Jim Crow laws, poll taxes and literacy requirements, took that right away. 

Women were not granted the right to vote until 1920. Young people 18-20 could not vote until 1971. Prior to the amendments to the Constitution that removed these impediments to voting, millions of folks were kept from the polls due to race, gender or youth.

The effort by the Postmaster General to make the Post Office more "efficient" is putting lipstick on the pig of voter suppression especially given the inevitable disruptions impacting timely delivery of millions of additional mail-in/absentee ballots caused by COVID 19 fears. In the 2016 election, 20,000 military ballots were rejected mostly due to late delivery. There were more than 550,000 ballots rejected in the 2016 primaries for a variety of reasons.

Mass purges of "inactive" voters are a form of voter suppression. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 16 million voters were purged from 2014-16. That's a lot of purging given that 137 million voted in the 2016 election. In the recent close Governor election in Georgia, 70 percent of the purged voters were Black. Suppose you show up at the polls and are told you have been purged. States have removed the "same day" ability to register to suppress the purged voters from regaining their right to vote.

Requiring voters to vote at their home poll is a form of voter suppression. It is tough for hourly workers to leave their jobs early to vote so they should be able to vote at a poll near their work site. Reducing the number of days of early voting, eliminating polling places and not removing physical barriers to access are methods to suppress voters.

The White House has been casting unfounded aspersions for months on the security of the upcoming election. The remedy proposed a few days ago was to place police and sheriff deputies at the polling places to ensure security. What a smart way to keep people of color away from the polls. Even worse, police presence at the polls is a first sign of a totalitarian state.

The Tennessee legislature just passed a bill signed by the Governor that makes protesters camping on State land felons subject to six months in jail if convicted. Being a convicted felon eliminates your right to vote in Tennessee. The British Magna Carta granted the right to seek redress from government in 1215. The First Amendment of the Constitution grants the right to petition without fear of reprisals or punishment. It won't be long till the new Tennessee form of voter suppression is tossed by the courts.

To ensure that the feared problem of millions of absentee ballots clogging the Post Office is minimized, our local Elections Board should make a loud and clear statement that their staff will do everything legally possible to mail ballots early and go to the Post Office frequently as deadlines approach to pick up ballots. The Elections Board should hold its canvassing (validating and rejecting ballots process) open to the media and public in a large, open and socially distanced room. Shedding some light on the criteria adopted by the State Elections Board for rejecting ballots would be informative to any doubters of their fairness.

To close, blaming foreign intervention, creating fear of vaporous threats, failed efforts to limit the capabilities of the Post Office and a plethora of voter suppression techniques will not keep Americans from protecting their right to vote by the simple act of voting. The real threat is lethargy and procrastination. 

Request your absentee ballot early and submit it with plenty of time to be delivered. Saving our right to vote in a fair and honestly managed election is our own responsibility and there is no excuse for failure. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

PANDEMIC DISCOUNT ON THE WRITING DIALOGUE WITH CAROL CRAWFORD SEPTEMBER 24

CAROL CRAWFORD


On Thursday, September 24, 2 - 4 PMCarol Crawford, published writer and editor, will teach a class via Zoom for those who want to improve their writing of dialogue.

Bring your characters to life with dialogue that is authentic, clear, and compelling. Capture the flavor of personality and culture through speech that sounds real. In-class exercises will cover word choice, tone, action beats, what to leave out, and format in this interactive workshop. 
Register no later than September 19. 


Email gcbmountaingirl@gmail.com to receive instructions for registration.

Fee - $25

Sponsored by NCWN-West and Writers Circle around the Table.


Monday, August 17, 2020

Don't Politicize Our TVA

Roger Carlton
Guest writer - Roger Carlton, columnist for The Graham Star newspaper

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was established by Congress in 1933 to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development in seven states that were heavily impacted by the Great Depression. 

TVA is a business owned by the government. Fiscal 2018 revenues exceeded $11 billion and profits were $1.1 billion. The Board of Directors are nominated by the U.S. President and confirmed by the Senate. The Directors appoint the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). All in all, this construct provides a nice balance and has worked extraordinarily well for the southern Appalachian region and its people.

So why would the White House fire the Chair of the Board and a board member? The ostensible reason was a decision by TVA to lay-off more than 100 contract workers and outsource the function to three big companies including Accenture, Capgemini and CGI who make their billions using many foreign workers. This political misstep followed TVA's decision last year to shut down two coal fired power plants despite undelivered 2016 campaign promises to rebuild the coal industry. 

Terrible timing right before an election in which the plight of 30 million potential voters who are unemployed and suffering greatly will certainly impact the outcome of the election. Perhaps this public flogging of an agency that provides service in some deeply red states over losing jobs might have something to do with the re-election campaign.

The White House also threatened to pack the Board with members who would in turn fire TVA CEO Jeff Lyash while making great hay over his $8 million salary. A government employee making $8 million even though he runs a multi-billion profitable enterprise doesn't play well in an election year.

To save the day, Lyash and his new Board Chair jumped on one of TVA's corporate jets and supplicated their way into the Oval Office. On second thought they said, the outsourcing deal might not be the best approach and the 100 jobs were saved. Everyone declared victory and there is peace in the valley - at least the Tennessee Valley.

So, what does all this mean to the people of Graham County? TVA owns Fontana Dam and leases out the operation of Fontana Resort. The recent closure of Fontana Resort by our local operators due to the impacts of COVID 19 required the rapid location of a new operator. TVA's business-like approach has allowed the retention of a new operator to happen quickly and the 2020 tourist season will be saved along with a lot of jobs. If TVA ran like a bureaucracy, we would be lucky to have a new operator by the summer of 2021.

While TVA does not own Cheoah and Santeetlah dams, it controls the spillways in order to regulate the flow of water during potential flood situations. This is important because all three dams in Graham County are part of a system that must be operated by expert hydrologists and weather forecasters in a cohesive, regional data-based manner. This is very important to Graham Countians. Politicizing an organization that has the awesome responsibilities assigned to TVA is a great mistake.

In some small way, TVA's CEO deserves an apology for the bashing he took over salary.  A division of a multi-billion-dollar Canadian company, Brookfield Renewable Corporation, owns our two dams and Lake Santeetlah. They do a good job by and large. By way of comparison, the CEO of the Brookfield division that owns our dams, Sachin Shah, made $3.8 million in 2018 and roughly $12.6 million in 2019. That is serious money even by TVA standards.



Saturday, August 8, 2020

Answering the question: Why do we have political parties


Roger Carlton
Humans like organization. Bureaucracies for government, religions to explain or excuse the inexplicable and political parties to make choices in leadership.
We organize the materials that make up our biosphere into the periodic chart. We arrange everything into some measurable system like the autism spectrum. We assign value with money. Our Constitution requires a census every 10 years. During my career with Lockheed Martin, we were told that “you are what you measure.”

Political parties allow people to identify with their emotions at the ballot box. I am conservative so I am a Republican. I am liberal so I am a Democrat. I don’t want to be categorized so I am an Independent. I can’t handle the civil rights movement so I am a Dixiecrat. I hug trees so I am a Green Party member. I hate anyone but Aryans so I am a Nazi and so on and so forth throughout history.

People are tribal. We are only 10,000 years or so from living in caves.
So we need political parties to let us express our desire to win at the ballot box and not with clubs. It is when the political parties forget their mission to organize and return to their tribal roots that we need to worry as a civilization. Let’s hope that people realize that in November.













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