Under the Dome

Dome: Young activist unimpressed by offer of cake at Executive Manor

Staff writersJuly 31, 2013 

Madison Kimrey, 12, got hooked on protesting earlier this year when she demonstrated outside a children’s museum during a visit to Florida.

Madison, who lives in Burlington, has continued that activism since coming home, protesting with Planned Parenthood and Occupy Raleigh. And for her trouble, what has she gotten? A piece of cake.

Tuesday evening, several hours after Gov. Pat McCrory gave cookies to women protesting the state’s new abortion law, Madison and her mother, Mary Kimrey, were at the Executive Mansion protesting with Occupy Raleigh members. Around 10:30 p.m., a staff member came out of the mansion.

“We were like, ‘Hey, those cookies were really good, could we have some brownies?’ joking and everything,” Madison said Wednesday. (The earlier protesters had actually returned the cookies uneaten.)

Madison said the staff member laughed, went back inside and then came out with three slices of cake in to-go containers.

“I was like, ‘Thank you very much, but it would be nice if we could have some rights with that,’ ” Madison said. “I was like, ‘Why? You do realize this is just giving us more ammo against Pat.’ I would rather sit down with Pat while we’re eating cookies.”

The cookies McCrory gave Planned Parenthood supporters had already started a swarm of online comparisons between the governor and Marie Antoinette. The cake didn’t help, Madison said.

The governor was not involved at all in handing the cake out, and it was not connected to the cookies, McCrory’s communications director, Kim Genardo, said Wednesday.

Activists who got the cookies from McCrory are still baffled, said Paige Johnson, Planned Parenthood of Central N.C.’s vice president of public affairs.

“To receive no word from him, and then to just give the plate of cookies, I think it’s just an audacity that no one expected,” she said. There was a “digital tidal wave” of comments on social media condemning the governor’s gift after the organization posted pictures on Facebook, she said.

Johnson said she isn’t sure how Planned Parenthood will respond – in previous protests they’ve commented on GOP actions by riding motorcycles and dressing in 1960s-era clothing.

“We’ll do something,” she said.

Others are comparing the cookie exchange to another McCrory moment earlier in the session.

When Gerrick Brenner, the executive director of Progress N.C., went to deliver a petition to the governor in early June, he and other advocates were told McCrory was in a meeting. McCrory was then seen playing catch.

“It looked like a petty stunt rather than engaging in any sort of conversation,” Brenner said. “It’s just either insanely tone deaf or it’s insulting.”

Bills to help teachers

Two of the Triangle’s Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives – David Price and G.K. Butterfield – on Wednesday said they’ll propose two bills in Congress to help teachers. The Democrats say their bills are a response to cuts to public education in North Carolina and other states.

Price introduced legislation that would provide federal grants to develop teacher retention programs such as NCSU’s Kenan Fellows program. It also would direct the Department of Education to share information about good ideas around the country on teacher retention.

Butterfield is the author of a proposed bill that would reward more teachers who work in low-income schools by forgiving more of their student loans. It would make all teachers who work in those schools for five years eligible for $17,500 in loan forgiveness. Today only those in special education and science or math get that level.

Staff writers Annalise Frank and Renee Schoof

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