When cops forget who they really work for

So… a couple of weeks ago I got a ticket for an expired license plate on my car. Actually, it is my mom’s car. I live all the way down in Charlotte, she lives in Winston-Salem.

My airheaded self never knew I could go into any license plate office in the state and get it renewed. I thought I had to wait on the state to mail us the renewal and then go to the Forsyth County office. Wrong. I found that out the first time I got pulled over.

Then I got pulled over a second time. I showed the officer the ticket, explained to him I was trying to take care of it — that I had to fit that in with my already existing bills and rent. “Okay,” he said. “I won’t give you ticket since you already have one.”

Both the first officer and second officer were polite, civil and respectful. In short, they treated me with full human dignity and the citizen who pays their paychecks that I am.

That definitely wasn’t the case last night. God knows I’d get pulled over the day or two before I finally could get this thing taken care of. This police officer was definitely the kind of person who just becomes an officer so he can have a bit of control over people and be an all around asshole.

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The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners will consider a proposal at a private retreat today and tomorrow, looking to study the issue of offering domestic partner benefits to county employees.

Any move by the Commission in the next couple days won’t institute benefits, but rather instruct county employees to study the possibility.

Still, outspoken, conservative Commissioner Bill James (R) says the Commission shouldn’t even be discussing the issue. He says it is illegal to offer these benefits, in part because LGBT people are criminals (he cites North Carolina’s “sodomy statute,” or Crimes Against Nature statute).

In an email to constituents and the media on Monday, James used an anti-transgender slur to refer to transgender people and accused bisexuals of being promiscuous and living in threeway relationships.

The Charlotte Observer reports that straight-ally Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts is pushing the issue:

But Roberts said the issue is about offering a benefits package that is fair and competitive. “I think (extending the benefits) shows that you’re keeping up with what’s going on in the marketplace,” Roberts said. “It shows that you are moving forward and that you’re trying to treat employees with fairness.”

Statement from the Mecklenburg Gay and Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC):

Mecklenburg Gay & Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) is pleased that the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners has begun researching the issue of domestic partner benefits for the county’s employees. MeckPAC will ensure that County Commissioners have the most accurate resources available to help guide their decision-making on this important issue. Mecklenburg County lags far behind many businesses and other similar-sized municipal governments who have long ago enacted policies that provide such benefits. Top-notch recruitment/retention of county employees, as well as the strong message it sends that Charlotte is an inclusive and welcoming place to live and work, are major reasons why providing employee benefits equitably is so vitally important.

Update: So I posted so quickly this morning my blurb about a local media group was wrong. Oops. Sorry.

No Carolinas media outlet, save Q-Notes, has called James out on his use of slurs or prejudicial stereotypes.

The Observer has an online poll up… Should the County extend benefits to domestic partners. As of Thursday morning, “NO” was clearly in the lead. Visit The Observer‘s site to vote.


Striking it rich on the back of America

This is sickening… why is he getting paid so much?

Newly minted Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s finances got a recent boost, thanks to a plump $435,000 severance payment from his old employer – the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In addition, Geithner last year earned $411,000 as president of the New York Fed and got another $50,000 to $100,000 for unused vacation and comp time, according to a mandatory financial disclosure statement released by the Office of Government Ethics.


The form, which lists only ranges for assets, shows that Geithner has a net worth of between $740,000 and $1.7 million, with his biggest asset the partial ownership of a property in Orleans, Mass. – on Cape Cod – that he valued between $250,000 and $500,000.

Geithner has a smattering of stocks, bonds and other accounts, too, ranging from up to $15,000 in IBM to as much as $250,000 in various college savings accounts.

Oh… I forgot, the (totally unconstitutional) Federal Reserve Bank isn’t really a public, government entity. Silly me. I should have known better; of course their employees get the big bucks. Thank God for private investments and capitalism!


Inadvertent anti-gay discrimination

kidsexchangeEvery so often we’re reminded why equality for LGBT people and recognition of same-sex couples is important outside of the civil arena.

In Raleigh, a lesbian couple with children was almost denied entry to a preview sale at a popular children’s consignment fair (Raleigh News & Observer):

Kids Exchange is having a sale this weekend, where people can consign and buy used baby and children’s clothing and toys. Volunteers who agree to work 11 to 12 hours at the sale get a special perk — exclusive access to an early preview sale on the Wednesday before.

Amanda Lenhart showed up Wednesday for early shopping with her partner, Kathy Perry, who had volunteered this week. But they encountered resistance from a 10-year-old rule that only spouses may accompany volunteers to the early sale.

Lenhart said she and Perry were stopped by the woman working the door. Lenhart explained that they were domestic partners and that the two children with them were theirs.

Still, the woman objected, Lenhart said. Eventually, they were let in by another woman who knew them, and they were able to shop.

But as the couple checked out, a woman working the cash register said they would not be permitted to shop at the early sale again, Lenhart said.

Organizers say their aim isn’t to discriminate against gay couples:

Organizers have strictly enforced the policy, not allowing volunteers to bring their mothers, sisters or friends to take advantage of the early sale.

“We care so much about our volunteers, we want to protect them,” said Amy Winstead, a co-founder of the sale. She added that the policy is not meant to discriminate against gay couples.

EqualityNC’s Ian Palmquist connected the dots between civil recognition and social respect for readers:

Ian Palmquist, executive director of Equality N.C., an organization working for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender North Carolinians, said Lenhart and Perry’s experience is not uncommon.

“The fact is, in North Carolina same-sex couples don’t have any recognition from the state,” he said. “They encounter this sort of discrimination on a daily basis.”

Controversy has completely engulfed openly gay Portland Mayor Sam Adams. More than a year after denying the charges leveled at him from an undeclared mayoral opponent, Adams has admitted to having a sexual relationship with then-18-year-old Beau Breedlove, who is now 21.

The whole world is focused on Adams’ sexual relationship with Breedlove, but the real issue here is Adams’ lies to the public, the media and the people who voted him into office.

Some are calling for his resignation. Others are defending him. A warning: Let’s not play into double-standards.

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To those who doubt that Obama will be an ally to the LGBT community (at one time including myself), the new White House website’s (which I’m told was updated at 12:01 p.m.) section on Civil Rights includes an entirely special focus on “Support for the LGBT Community.”

See the screengrab and click to enlarge after the jump…

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Booing Bush was so un-Obama-like

As I watched the inauguration and heard people booing former President George W. Bush, I quickly Twittered, “Wholly inappropriate: Booing the Pres. Bush. Respect the office, respect our nation, respect the institution, even if you hate the man.”

A friend and fellow blogger, Bil of Bilerico.com, replied, “Not at all. Freedom of speech is a fundamental and is there so ppl could criticize our government. Booing is traditional.”

Ah… Freedom of Speech. Thank God for it, or else either Bil or I would have been silenced.

I replied, “Haha. True Bil, True. But freedom doesn’t come without responsibility.”

One line from President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Speech applies here: “…our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

And, I’d argue, our freedoms, including that of speech, emanates from the same.

Humility. Restraint. I’d add, “respect” and “responsibility.”

These values co-exist and co-depend upon each other in order to make our freedoms work. Take away any of them, our freedom and nation of law and order fail.

We might hate Bush for his decisions and actions. We might think he is evil. Booing him during a ceremony meant to bring America together was wholly inappropriate. A person might have the freedom to do something, to say something, to boo the man who, at the time, was still our President, but having the freedom to do something doesn’t make it appropriate or right.

Obama has stood for a united America. Booing the outgoing President on a day that is supposed to be a uniting day only creates more division. Obama wouldn’t have booed. Obama would have respected the office… the office he now holds.


Openly gay Portland mayor confesses

samadamsSam Adams, the openly gay mayor of Portland, Ore., has admitted to a sexual relationship with a teenaged legislative intern.

Adams admitted to the relationship with the then-18-year-old Beau Breedlove, who is now 21. Adams said he lied about the 2007 allegations because he did not want the public to give into “untrue rumors” that he had broken the law by having sex with a minor. Adams met Breedlove when the boy was 17.

Breedlove has not commented much to the press. Citizens have expressed outrage over Adams’ lies about the affair. Journalists and bloggers have said Adams has lost his trustworthiness and credibility.

h/t JMG

Jim Burroway of BoxTurtleBulletin.com took the time to transcribe an NPR conversation with U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) yesterday.

His appearance coincided with the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. On the show, Lewis discussed his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

In case you are unaware (shame if you are), Lewis chaired the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee from 1963 to 1966 and participated in the famous Freedom Rides through the South. To this day he bears the marks of a bloody attack on the riders in Montgomery in 1961.

Read the transcript after the jump…

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A good little snow fall came upon North Carolina last night. Flurries keep falling and its about 28 degrees outside. It won’t get over freezing until about 1 p.m. today, and even then it’ll only be 33 degrees and last for about an hour… then it dips back below freezing as flurries and snow showers continue until evening.


The view from my front porch - Click to enlarge

Looks like I’ll be working from home today… at least for a while. My road is completely covered and thin layers of ice have built up under the thin layer of snow. With the hills that I have to travel on my way out of my neighborhood, I think I’ll be much safer here.

I’ve got all I need: access to work email, a word processor to write news articles and features, a telephone, my coffee and my T.V. – to watch Barack Obama’s Inauguration!

It’s an exciting day!