A new North Carolina-based group has begun an effort to persuade presidential and congressional candidates to sign a pledge to build a double-edged wall along the U.S.-Mexican border by the end of 2013.
This week, the group, called Americans for Securing the Border, put up a website and plans to shortly begin urging candidates to take the pledge.
The pledge says "I, CANDIDATE'S NAME, pledge to support and speedily expedite the construction of a date-certain, secure double fence across the entire U.S.-Mexican border to be completed prior to the end of 2013."
The group plans to run ads and do grass-roots organizing in early primary states such as Iowa and South Carolina. The national co-chairman is Nathan Tabor, a conservative activist, businessman and former congressional candidate from Kernersville.
Lobbyist runs into trouble
When Brian Lewis, lobbyist for the statewide teachers association, went for a morning run last Saturday he came across a campaign sign pledging lower taxes planted at Davis Drive Middle School in Cary. Lewis said the sign was illegally on school property, so he yanked it out and put it on the curb.
When Lewis got home he mentioned it on Facebook, complaining about the gall of a tax-cut sign at a school when education has been hit with big budget reductions. Oops. Soon a screen-capture image of the Facebook post - which Lewis deleted later in the day because, he said, it was drawing a lot of "likes" and he didn't want to encourage others to remove signs that might not be illegal - began circulating in emails and snail mail to N&O reporters.
Lewis said he didn't even know whose sign it was. Turns out it belongs to Town Council candidate Don Hyatt, who insists he planted the sign legally on the public right of way himself.
Lewis said that campaign signs are illegally placed all over his west Cary neighborhood and added: "Mr. Hyatt should not feel compelled to send me a thank you note for saving him a campaign fine or a criminal charge, but I would encourage him to follow the law in the future and not use public school property for his city council electioneering."
Hyatt's take? "It's not all that big a deal," he said.
Poverty highest since '81
People in North Carolina who make the least amount of money fell even farther behind over the past decade as the poverty rate increased by nearly one-quarter, according to a new report by the N.C. Budget & Tax Center.
The rate went from 14.1 percent in 2001 to 17.5 percent in 2010, while job creation slowed and unemployment went up. The result: a "lost decade" for low- and middle-income families, according to the private liberal organization.
The poverty rate is at its highest since 1981, the report says. Median household income dropped nearly 10 percent, to $43,326 in 2010.
The percentage of people living below the income of $11,157 for a family of four went up to 7.8 percent.
The working-age population grew by almost 820,000 people, but there are now about 356,000 fewer working-age adults with jobs than there were in 2001. More than 166,000 children live in poverty - one in four children in the state.
Staff writers Rob Christensen and Craig Jarvis
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