Archive (2009-2010)

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To Right These Wrongs Publication Celebration, April 15

The University of North Carolina Press hosted a celebration of the publication of To Right These Wrongs: The North Carolina Fund and the Battle to End Poverty and Inequality in 1960s America. Written by Robert R. Korstad and Poverty Center board member James L. Leloudis, the book features photographs by Billy E. Barnes and a copy of the award-winning documentary Change Comes Knocking: The Story of the North Carolina Fund. UNC President Emeritus William Friday moderated a discussion with the authors and veterans of the North Carolina Fund in conjunction with the celebration.

The UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity will be working on a larger project in conjunction with To Right These Wrongs, which will be an ongoing examination of contemporary poverty focusing on ways to get students and academics involved in finding solutions.

World Poverty, What Can We Do?, April 6

This event was canceled due to flight delays. At this time, there are no definite plans to reschedule. In this public lecture, Thomas Pogge, Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University, was to present global solutions to world poverty and engage in discussion on domestic poverty issues with Gene Nichol, Director of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. Co-sponsored with the Department of Philosophy.

The Citizens United Case: Corporate Speech and the Future of Democracy, March 2

This exciting discussion on the US Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United v. FEC decision featured veteran voting rights lawyer, Brenda Wright, and the Poverty Center's own Gene Nichol. They examined the legal landscape that shaped campaign financing for the past 100 years, the reasons for the Supreme Court's decision overturning decades of precedent and possible responses.

In Citizens United, the Court ruled 5-4 that corporations had a constitutional right to spend an unlimited amount of money on broadcasts in any political campaign. This decision has been scathingly derided as "an astonishing display of judicial arrogance, overreach and unjustified activism" and calls into question our most deeply-cherished democratic ideals.

Brenda Wright's appearance was co-sponsored by NC Policy Watch.

Watch the video on iTunes U.

Mental Health Reform Since Olmstead: A Discussion of the Marlo M. Case, Feb. 22

Strickland, Stiles and Rittelmeyer

In late 2009, Disability Rights North Carolina (DRNC) sued the NC Department of Health and Human Services and a local entity in charge of mental health care in four counties in eastern NC, seeking to block them from reducing funds for services that allow people with disabilities to lead independent lives.

DRNC filed the case on behalf of Marlo M. and Durwood W., two NC residents with developmental disabilities and mental illness, who have been integrated into their communities for years. Without these services, the plaintiffs--and others like them--are likely to be placed in an institutionalized setting: a potentially costly, disruptive and harmful outcome.

Four attorneys from DRNC--Jennifer Bills, John Rittelmeyer, Holly Stiles and Andrew Strickland--described the legal and mental health frameworks that shaped this case, the interplay between a confusing tangle of federal, state and local regulatory and funding sources, and the disastrous consequences of budget cuts and mental health "reform" for many people with mental illness and/or developmental disability.

Watch the video on iTunes U.

Access to Justice in North Carolina: A Right to Counsel in Civil Cases, Oct. 30

Is a system of justice that accepts the exclusion of millions of Americans the best that we can do? That is the question at the heart of this conference, held at the UNC School of Law on October 30.

The legal needs of low and modest-income North Carolinians is vast: 1 in 5 people earn less than 125% of the poverty line. According to a report released last year by North Carolina's Equal Access to Justice Commission, while the state has one lawyer for every 442 people, the ratio for legal aid attorneys to poor people is one to 15,500--well below the national average.

Unlike in criminal cases, there is no constitutional right to counsel in civil cases. A place to live, unemployment or disability benefits, parental rights, necessary medical treatments, protection from domestic violence, safeguards against predatory lending--these can all vanish without the guidance of an attorney.

This conference examined the significant steps taken to address this issue and initiatives from across the country in order to build on the national momentum to expand access to counsel in civil cases.


The Community Reinvestment Act in the "Center" Stage, Sept. 17

The Center for Banking and Finance, the Center for Civil Rights and the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity joined forces to host this re-evaluation of the role of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) in the mortgage meltdown. Video of the panel in its entirety is now available. Please note: the video download may take several minutes.

The CRA, a federal law designed to prevent financial institutions from discriminating against low- and moderate-income clients, was blamed by some commentators in the aftermath of the housing crash as a major reason for the increase in risky subprime mortgages. Our distinguished panelists will address that charge, as well as explore ways it should be modified in light of recent events.

Mark Dorosin, senior attorney for the Center for Civil Rights, moderated and the panelists were:

  • Chris Kukla, Senior Counsel for Government Affairs, Center for Responsible Lending
  • Peter Skillern, Executive Director, Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina
  • Paul Stock, Executive Vice President and Counsel, North Carolina Bankers Association (NCBA)
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