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Plymouth, NC—Most people live within 20 minutes of an acute medical facility. And, up until a few weeks ago, Adam O’Neal was did also. But, on July 1, 2014 that changed for him and for 20,000 other residents in the Belhaven surrounding area.
|Mayor Adam O’Neal, “there’s a lot of politics here. Vidant gives a lot of money to campaigns.”|
Before the closure, O’Neal pleaded with lawmakers to keep the hospital open. He feared someone would die otherwise. Still, his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Mayor O’Neal teamed up with NC NAACP President, Rev. Dr. William Barber, and together they launched a media campaign to save the hospital.
It failed. On July 1, 2014—the hospital closed it’s doors with a sign saying, “if you seek emergency care, call 911.”
O’Neal and his town lost the only acute care hospital facility within a 75 mile area.
Not long after the hospital closed, the town’s worst fears became true. A 48 year old woman who suffered a heart attack died because she was too far away from the nearest emergency medical facility.
Dr. Howard Dean, former Vermont governor and presidential candidate said on MSNBC that in all likelihood, the woman would have probably survived had she been closer to emergency medical care.
Pictured left to right: Mayor of Plymouth, NC Brian Roth, standing on right Rev. Barber sitting right is Mayor O’Neal
Mayor Adam O’Neal is now walking to Washington, D.C. in an effort to speak with federal officials hoping his town’s hospital can open again.
Joined by legendary civil rights leaders such as Bob Zillner and Dr. William Barber, who organized the Moral Monday rallies protesting Republican legislation in North Carolina, the team hopes to get enough local support and media attention to force government officials to help.
According to O’Neal, over 30 percent of the population he serves lives in poverty. They do not have the financial means to drive well over an hour one way for their medical care.
I caught up with Mayor O’Neal in Plymouth, NC—about 40 miles outside of Belhaven which was the location of the Vidant Pungo Hospital.
I was able to quickly ask him and Rev. Dr. William Barber some questions during a lunch press conference just before the afternoon walk began.
As much as some lawmakers refuse to respond a few politicians are taking notice.
Marshall Adame is the Democratic candidate for the United States House of Representatives in the 3rd district of North Carolina. He was on the telephone with Mayor O’Neal asking what he could do to help.
Adame is running against Republican incumbent, Walter B. Jones. Jones has been in the House for twenty years.
Adame had these remarks to say:
Video below: Mayor Adam O’Neal and famed civil rights leader, Bob Zellner walking in the rain to Washington, D. C.
For over a year Mayor Adam O’Neal has reached out to anyone wanting to help save Pungo hospital. Because he knew that if this hospital closed, people would die. And, recently that prediction came true: a 48 year old woman died because she could not get emergency care in time.
The Pungo hospital is the only hospital within a 75 mile radius. Mayor O’Neal reached out to Republicans, Democrats, the news media, activist groups and generally anyone willing to answer the call to help.
Walter Jones, a 20 year career politician, has remained silent on the closure of this hospital. He has not given any support to the residents in the area and to my knowledge hasn’t even acknowledged that there is a problem.
Walter Jones, who likes to campaign on “I’m not a rank and file politician” refused to address the most non-partisan issue in his district.
Others have addressed it. Others like Rev. Dr. William Barber who came down to offer support in keeping the hospital open.
Others, like Democratic congressional candidate Marshall Adame, Who has said repeatedly that we should put this hospital and our citizens before profit margins.
If Walter Jones won’t stand up and support the citizens in our smaller regions of the 3rd district, then why should we support him come election day.
We should give Walter exactly what he gave us: NOTHING. I’m not going to tell you who you should vote for because you already know this is a life or death issue in eastern North Carolina. You already know what to do.
Raleigh, NC—Instead of listening to a bunch of political consultants tell me what Moral Monday is suppose to mean, I decided to attend every protest during the “short session” of the North Carolina General Assembly. Yep, every single Moral Monday.
Armed with a HD camcorder, a smartphone, a tape recorder and a ragged notebook (with a bag of Sharpie’s), I asked a total of 118 protesters one question: why are you here today? Some of their answers amazed me. A few of their stories left me in tears. But, all of the people I spoke with put a smile on my face and a feeling of hopefulness knowing that there are an awful lot of good people left in this world.
At the end of every Moral Monday rally, protesters would follow Rev. Dr. William Barber into the Legislative Building (if the doors were unlocked). If you were one of those protesters who went into the General Assembly you probably saw my face from time to time. I was the short, dumpy, white guy who shadowed Dr. Barber from the front door to the third floor—and everywhere else in between.
Here are some of the totals:
I talked to a total of 118 people asking them one or more questions. Over 8 hours of HD raw footage, almost 4 hours of audio and 617 pictures.
I learned that, at the end of the day, we all want pretty much the same things. We want to be able to put a roof over our heads, provide for our families, raise our kids, live in safety and take care of our health.
Why They Protest:
From all corners of North Carolina, people come together because they feel this GOP led General Assembly doesn’t care about them.
“If I was a corporation, I’d get to the front of the line,” said one protester at a Moral Monday rally in June. “But, I’m not a corporation, I’m just one person. And, to them I don’t count.”
Rev. Dr. William Barber, II said it this way toward the end of the summer “short” session of the NCGA, “This is not a game, these people aren’t getting arrested for fun.”
Rubie Harris, from Greenville, was one of the Tillis 15: a group of protesters who staged a sit-in in House Speaker Thom Tillis’ office. I spoke with Rubie over a two week period and like many at Moral Mondays, she has a tragic story to tell.
The conservative response to arrests:
Some conservatives have argued that the arrests have taken away from the Moral Monday movement and has not added to it. They say it’s ridiculous to face criminal charges when you’re not getting anything accomplished because GOP leaders aren’t going to meet with them or change their ideology.
Arrested protesters disagree. Many protesters have said that elected Democrats don’t have the votes to stop the NC GOP from doing anything, right now. The think their only recourse is to get media attention by staging sit-ins and protests risking arrests. The added media attention slows down the GOP process and puts pressure on them to curb some of their hurtful agenda.
That “hurtful” agenda includes issues like a lack of Medicaid expansion where over 400,000 poor in NC still don’t qualify for health insurance, low teacher pay less than the national average, fracking and making it a criminal offense to disclose the chemicals used in the fracking process, repeal of the racial justice act and voter suppression such as the voter ID law that goes into effect 2016.
As Rubie Harris told me, “if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody—including them and their family.”
Hypocrisy v. Democracy
Protesters claim that it’s hypocritical to pass legislation that hurts the poor, the elderly and the disadvantaged. “We believe in tax cuts, but tax cuts for the poor, the old and for communities that need it—not for corporations and people like Art Pope who just want more”—said Rev. Barber at a Moral Monday rally.
Protesters site the fact that corporations and the wealthy in NC now have more tax breaks while the NCGOP has systematically passed legislation increasing the taxes of 80% of the North Carolina working class.
A good “take away” on what this movement is trying to fight is evident in one of the last raw footage clips I took. “This is what democracy looks like.”
Jacksonville, NC—This morning as media reports state a few hundred military advisors will be sent to Iraq to stabilize the region—former Marine and State Department Diplomat, Marshall Adame, says that more Americans will die in Iraq.
Adame is the former military and diplomatic advisor to middle eastern countries such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia–and he controlled the famous Bagdad airport in the Iraqi “green zone.”
Adame says the United States has made several severe mistakes in that region of the world and he points to an article he wrote several years ago, “Six Blunders the United States made in Iraq that We Can Fix” as an example of American political mismanagement of Iraq and of Prime Minister Maliki.
In fact, Marshall Adame will go so far as to say that Maliki and his government is nothing more than a CIA initiative gone haywire. Adame says that it was the CIA who brought Maliki into power under the Bush administration through the use of Iraqi Special Envoy and US Ambassador Paul Brenner.
Adame says it was never about WMDs or an effort to stabilize the region from terrorists, it was about money, power and oil. Mostly oil.
Marshall Adame further explains that when American forces originally surrounded Bagdad, the only area safeguarded and protected was the Ministry of Oil, everything else within the Iraqi infrastructure of government was left to fend for itself and take it’s chances.
What’s the solution? Adame says there is no single answer but he states we (America) must stop sending troops to that country. Period.
“Iraq was stable before we got there and it’s because of our actions that the country is in the shape it’s in” Adame said this morning in a telephone conversation. Adame points to the fact that Maliki was installed by CIA operatives and he has become a multimillionaire while going about the mass murder of Sunni tribes.
In his final thoughts, Adame says, “the Iraqi people will not forget what we did and what we helped others do to them. We need to stop sending more American service personnel over there.”
Adame, Democratic primary winner, is running to unseat Republican Congressman Walter Jones, in the 3rd Congressional District of North Carolina. Adame is a former United States Marine, served in Vietnam and is a Diplomatic expert in Middle East affairs.
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) introduced a bipartisan bill to designate two highways as a “future interstate” that will originate in Raleigh, North Carolina, and travel through Rocky Mount, Williamston, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina to Norfolk, Virginia. H.R. 4829, or the ROAD Act, is cosponsored by Representatives Walter Jones (NC-03), David Price (NC-04), Howard Coble (NC-06), Mike McIntyre (NC-07), Mark Meadows (NC-11), and Renee Ellmers (NC-02), and will enable transportation improvements to U.S. Highways 17 and 64.
Specifically, H.R. 4829 guarantees that the corridor connecting Raleigh and Norfolk is built to interstate standards, travels through eastern North Carolina, and that U.S. Highways 17 and 64 are prioritized when allocating funding for federal highways–saving taxpayers money by improving on existing infrastructure. A portion of U.S. Highway 64 between Raleigh and Interstate 95 was designated as a future interstate last year and, according to the Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA), half of the route already meets federal freeway standards.
Butterfield said, “The ROAD Act will help connect eastern North Carolina to our state’s Capitol and to one of the country’s premier ports in Hampton Roads. Our vision to advance transportation in the region will reduce traffic congestion, improve access, and pave the way for job creation and further economic development in North Carolina and Virginia.”
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $1 billion in transportation funding can support approximately 30,000 jobs which are critical to economic development in eastern North Carolina. Passing legislation to designate the highways as a future interstate is the first step in the plan to build a strong transportation network, put North Carolinians to work, and speed the project’s completion.
H.R. 4829 is supported by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata. Many local governmental entities, chambers of commerce, and regional transportation associations are also supportive of this designation.
“I’d like to thank Congressman Butterfield for introducing the ROAD Act today, which is vitally important to economic development in the corridor between Raleigh and Norfolk, Virginia,” said North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. “Not only is this designation part of our future vision for transportation in our State, it is also key to attracting companies to North Carolina and expanding those that are already here. I, along with DOT Secretary Tony Tata and a bipartisan group of U.S. House Members, stand ready to help get this legislation passed and to the president’s desk for signature.”
The ROAD Act will be considered as part of the annual Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill, which may be considered in the U.S. House of Representatives later this month.
HARRISBURG, Pa., June 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder announced the endorsement of Tom Wolf for Governor in the November General Election on Tuesday November 4, 2014.
Mr. Wolf received a unanimous endorsement from the members of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Executive Council which represents over 800,000 union workers, the largest labor organization in Pennsylvania. The Council met in Harrisburg today.
In announcing the endorsement, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Bloomingdale utilized a theme of the Wolf campaign of a fresh start for Pennsylvania’s working families. “Tom Wolf will provide a new direction for Pennsylvania one in which working men and women are part of the solution instead of being viewed as the cause of the problems. Tom Wolf believes as we do that the best is yet to come and by bringing people and institutions together we can recapture and regrow the good jobs and decent wages that provide economic opportunities for all workers,” Mr. Bloomingdale said.
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Snyder added, that Pennsylvania’s workers are fed up with the current administration, which has focused on everything except what matters most to them. Tom Wolf is raising the issues that workers care about – the need to restore funding for education and infrastructure investments as the keys to creating jobs and expanding the middle class. Mr. Wolf understands that you grow an economy from the ground up and not from the top down. We will work just as hard in supporting and electing Tom Wolf Governor, as we are doing to defend good jobs, defend decent pensions, and defend our rights to a strong voice in the workplace and in politics,” Mr. Snyder added.
President Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Snyder also announced the endorsement of Democratic State Senator Mike Stack for Lieutenant Governor.
Mr. Stack has a very strong record of supporting workers as a member of the State Senate and is also a member of the Philadelphia chapter of SAG/AFTRA/AFL-CIO.
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO endorsements require a 2/3rds majority of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Executive Council comprised of representatives of labor unions and organizations affiliated with the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO will be making endorsements in races for Pennsylvania’s congressional seats, the State Senate and the State House of Representatives on July 9, 2014.