I first became politically active here in my "red" mountain North Carolina County in 1990 (the first Harvey Gantt vs Jesse Helms race). At that time, the local Democratic and Republican parties were in cahoots. They met regularly for coffee at the downtown drug store and hammered out who would run for what and who would win, and we all lived our lives in "bi-partisan," rightwing bullshit. Sound familiar?
When younger blood (which at the time included me) tried to come into the local Party to work for Harvey Gantt (v. Jesse Helms) and other Democratic candidates in 1990, we were told to get out of town. In fact, when we raised and spent our own money on a full page newspaper ad that featured then State Senator Virginia Foxx stirring a witches brew complete with a burnt and drowning middle class, the old guard got so pissed off, they reported four of us to the local DA for campaign finance violations. (That's a particularly interesting story--remind me to fill you in on it sometime.)
So it's been a while since I could get you up-to-date on Watauga County political happenings. My bad. But we had a very important (and it-took-all-my-time) election to win first!
My earlier diaries about the intensive voter suppression efforts here in our little world can be read here and here and here and here.
A lot has happened since I last posted. The short and sweet of it goes like this:
1. The State Board of Elections let stand the move of the Appalachian State University polling place to a smelly, poorly lit, and prone to flooding BYOB nightclub at as far a distance from students as they could get it.
2. Three Democratic activists have filed a formal petition with the State Board of Elections to remove the two Republican Tea Party local Board of Elections Board members (be sure to read it--it's a doozy).
3. We are working on a federal lawsuit claiming purposeful discrimination of a targeted demographic's voting rights. Most voting discrimination suits focus on racial bias. We believe we're breaking new ground.
4. We decided it wasn't good enough to squeak through a narrow win in the November 5th elections. We decided we had to clean their clocks. 5. And we did.
Good Sunday, Kossacks! Hope your day is going well. Mine started off quite nicely when, coffee still brewing, I woke to this front page headline, wherein Bertrand Gutierrez of The Winston Salem Journal blows the lid off of Watauga County Board of Elections' political corruption.
You see, it turns out that our Republican County Attorney, soundly rejected by the State Board of Elections for a position on the local BOE but nonetheless still conveniently installed as the official legal council for the local BOE, has actually been dreaming up all the Board's resolutions for precinct changes and establishing all the Board's agendas and revising all the Board's minutes from his company computer in his little old law office. And his little brother, local BOE member Luke Eggers, is AWOL.
Over the past two Saturdays, I've shared with Kossacks our ongoing battle with a corrupt, Tea Party Watauga County Board of Elections. You can read my two past diaries here and here. In short, the two Meathead Republican Right-Wingers argued that voters, especially Appalachian State University voters, had been having problems finding their on-campus Student Union polling location. They said the progressive voters in the Town of Boone and at ASU were "confused about where to cast ballots."
Their answer to this fictional voter confusion was to combine the three most progressive municipal polling sites into one off-the-beaten-track, hard to access, where-the-hell-is-it Super Precinct of over 9,300 voters and fewer than 30 parking spaces.
Well, now. Our local Democratic Party didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, and neither did Appalachian State University students. Together we decided, against all odds, to fight back hard, and, by extension, serve up some meathead heads on a platter.
In last Saturday's diary, I brought Kossacks up to speed on the story of the peoples' fight against the corrupt Watauga County Board of Elections' shenanigans. When the local Democratic Party decided we were going to fight back against all odds, we were told, "It's all over. We can't beat the power." We were told, "There's no use in taking them on. We can't win." We were told, "Let's just move on. There's nothing we can do."
No go.The Watauga County Democratic Party decided to take good aim at the local and State Board of Elections, exposing them to the light for all to see. We saw our fight as a David and Goliath story and that even if we couldn't bring them down in one deadly crash to hard ground, we could sure as hell lasso a kneecap.
And then, this week, as we crowded into the Watauga BOE Board meeting room with reporters from Charlotte and Winston-Salem, lo and behold surfaced the "BOE meeting minutes" scandal, and Rachel decided boulders were more in order:
Yep. It's so downright amazing that even Rachel Maddow picked it up.
Monday at 9AM was the first time the new and not-so-improved Watauga County Board of Elections met, a Board now controlled by Republican Tea Partiers (2-1) with a clear mission to suppress any and all suspected progressive votes in time for the upcoming municipal elections, especially for the Town of Boone, the county seat. And to do it undercover as fast as possible.
While the meeting had originally been scheduled for a large room in the County's Administration building, the Republicans quickly changed the location to a small Board room in the elections office in an effort to discourage public attendance. Didn't work. Before the two Republicans were forced to move meeting, as required by law in light of all the people there to witness the travesty, just wet your whistle with what went down at the start. Seriously. Take a look at this. It will blow your mind.
Slabtown Road in Zionville (Watauga County, North Carolina) is Daniel Boone Country. It's where established buffalo and Indian trails and Daniel Boone's westward exploration trail came together just before reaching the Tennessee border.
Daniel Boone was a member of the 47% and had good reason to press westward through these mountains as fast as possible. While fighting off bears, sorry weather, and challenging terrain, Daniel Boone was dogged his entire life by lawsuits and debt.
The fine folks who live in the rural Zionville community today are members of the 47% too. The average household income in Zionville is $30,147. Of the estimated 1,986 people living in Zionville, 1,408 are registered to vote, and Republicans out-register Democrats almost two to one.
David G Miller Farm Supply on Slabtown Road has been the hub of the Zionville community for over 35 years. In addition to agricultural products and services, Miller's Supply offers everything from septic repairs to fresh eggs offered daily from the family's 200 chickens.
The Watauga County Democratic Party decided it was high time to pay its respects to Miller's Farm Supply and to nearby Hill Top Drive-In for its 3rd "cash mob." We are, afterall, the Party of the 47% percent, and perhaps a trip out that way to put our money where our mouths are would help prove the point.
This diary will be quick. I live in North Carolina and received the Medicare mailer (below the orange) from the Romney Campaign today. Wanted to share it with all of you.
While I know it's all bullshit, unfortunately it's effective IMO. I'm a hardcore activist Democrat and pretty familiar with voter scoring. My support score is around 99% in almost every voter file, so this mailer must be going out to everyone on Medicare or soon to be eligible. I don't know how, but I hope President Obama has something up his sleeve, something out-of-the-box, to counteract this.
The Mountain House Restaurant in Boone, NC is owned by one Betty Austin, a certified controversial local character. She's always been a very you-can't-get-to-the-right-of-me Republican, turned on really good by weaponry and turned off really bad by gays. She plays Fox News on the restaurant teevee all day long and doesn't suffer fools (or progressives) lightly.
When some thieves stole the flashing reindeer and sled off her restaurant roof one Christmas, Betty let readers of our local paper know in no uncertain terms, "Next year she'll have even more Christmas decorations in place. And somewhere among the holly and the ivy and the bright twinkling lights, she'll be there, heavily armed and waiting."
(Come to think of it, I think I'll join her on that roof. I like lighted reindeers. And lighted sleds. Also.)
The Bristol Speedway racetrack drivers from over in neighboring Tennessee think Betty is the cat's meow. They've have given her a standing ovation:
But if you ever get to Boone, NC you just gotta stop in at the Mountain House Restaurant and see "Hot Momma". Really her name is Betty Austin. She'll abuse you a little bit but she's got some great food. She might even make you get up and refill your own Coke glass!
Betty Austin. Meaner than a snake. And a hardcore, in-your-face Republican. Yet this was the window sign that greeted the Watauga County Democratic Party's second ever "cash mob" at her restaurant yesterday.
Watauga County, North Carolina has a strong and active local Democratic Party. We think out of the box, run strong local candidates, and never stop trying to move our county "forward," even when we get trounced as we did in 2010. After a good cry, we just pick ourselves up off the floor, dust off the damage, and head for the next open door. That's how we were able to defeat Amendment One in this year's primary election.
The general idea is to encourage people to go into small, local businesses and spend their money, en masse, to give the business owner a little bit of economic stimulus.... ...the first gathering called a “Cash Mob” appears to have been held in Buffalo, NY, on August 5, 2011, and was organized by blogger, Christopher Smith.
Cash Mobs are not generally defined as "political events," in the traditional sense of the word, and we don't know if other political parties are engaging in this excellent idea, but we decided to give one a go. I'll tell you why and share our pictures below the orange.
It's pretty tough up here in the North Carolina mountains these days. We've made some damn fine progressive progress over the years, but like many other places in the United States, the Tea Party opened up shop here back in 2010 and slammed us in the local and state elections. They've hung around and finally opened up a Facebook page this February.
The local Republican Party is pretty much in shambles. The George Bush/Dick Cheney Administration killed the Party off as rural people finally decided they'd been had on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and their dead and buried kids had died for nothing but lies.
So the Tea Party came riding into town to save the day and rebrand the conservative image. Most of the local Tea Party members don't look anything like the rest of us here. The leaders are high-heeled women who wear pearls when they "garden" and impressive diamond jewelry to local public hearings. It's clear they've never put in a day's work in their lives. But, by god, they're determined to whip the rest of us into submission.
Which brings me to the debate forum between the Appalachian State University College Democrats and College Republicans this past Tuesday night.