North Carolina CSE Story 2000

North Carolina CSE is true grassroots: real people showing up to make a difference in their government. North Carolina CSE is energizing our grassroots activists with major policy initiatives and victories.

Since the opening of the North Carolina CSE chapter

April 1999, CSE members have:

Grown to be a grassroots army of more than

14,000 volunteer activists who show up and

make a difference.

Soundly defeated three large tax increases;

Obtained commitments from a majority of state

legislators not to raise taxes;

Educated and mobilized voters in targeted areas

across the state regarding candidates’ positions

on issues important to CSE. In all the races

where CSE activists were involved, the candidate

taking CSE’s position WON.

These policy initiatives were the driving force behind North Carolina CSE’s success in 2000:

North Carolina CSE secured the support for more charter schools from the Wake County Board of Education.

On June 20, nearly 300 activists from all across North Carolina converged on our General Assembly with the message, “We Want Less…The People’s Agenda.”

Activists engaged the candidates for Attorney General and received strong statements from both candidates against the massive breakup of Microsoft and movement toward support for North Carolina’s withdrawal from the states’ lawsuit.

Activists were engaged in North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District and several state legislative districts with a combined message of tort, technology, tax, and Medicare reform reaching more than 41,900 households with old-fashioned grassroots activities such as: conducting precinct walks and literature drops, and placing over 5,000 yard signs with CSE’s message.

These victories have solidified North Carolina CSE as one the state’s most effective grassroots organizations. Local officials and state and federal legislators now look to North Carolina CSE to provide the leadership to combat tax increases and more government regulation across North Carolina. A critical element to these victories has been leveraging the successes into establishing local North Carolina CSE clubs throughout the state to increase our membership. As a result of our grassroots efforts, we were awarded The Showalter Group and Public Affairs Council’s 2000 National Grassroots Innovation Award.

Education Reform

Last year, North Carolina CSE achieved a major victory by defeating a school bond referendum, which would have raised taxes by 40 percent in Wake County. This victory positioned us as a powerful force to be reckoned with. “The $650 million Wake County school bond campaign in early 1999 looks like a shoo-in, with backing from virtually all of the region’s business and political leaders.” (The Business Journal, 12/24/99) Despite the massive financial advantage, the referendum was defeated 65 percent to 35 percent.

The surprising victory in Wake County and North Carolina CSE’s leadership shocked the establishment in Raleigh. More importantly, the victory reverberated all across North Carolina, prompting county commissioners and other elected officials to scrutinize every bond proposal that would lead to tax increases. The grassroots victory also received attention in the national publications The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, and The Bond Buyer.

Immediately following the victory, North Carolina CSE members worked in Wake County to unite the community and present a plan to build schools without raising taxes. As a result, North Carolina CSE secured the support of Wake County community leaders and the Board of Education for a plan which increases the number of charter schools allowed, and allows innovative building techniques and alternative financing methods-building needed schools without raising taxes.

The People’s Agenda

On June 20, North Carolina CSE members moved to a higher of level of participation in the public policy debate by presenting “The People’s Agenda” to candidates and elected officials. As the theme of the first North Carolina CSE Day at the Capitol, “The People’s Agenda” is an issue action plan to energize grassroots citizens. Many candidates, including individuals running for lieutenant governor, superintendent of public instruction, and several state legislative offices adopted our issues in their campaign platforms.

North Carolina CSE already has succeeded in achieving one victory from “The People’s Agenda”-we have stopped a potential state tax increase before the debate even began. As part of “The People’s Agenda,” incumbents and challengers were asked to sign a pledge not to raise taxes. After the November election, a majority of legislators and elected candidates committed not to raise taxes in North Carolina during the next two years, thanks to the hard work and dedication of CSE activists-who secured signed pledges from 61 of 120 new or returning members of the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Pressure Against Government-

Sponsored Lawsuit Abuse

North Carolina became a particular focus of government-sponsored lawsuits when Attorney General Mike Easley announced his candidacy for governor of the state. This provided CSE with an excellent opportunity to make government-sponsored lawsuit abuse a campaign issue that resonated throughout the state and across the nation.

CSE led a vigorous campaign to educate citizens on the detriments of government-sponsored lawsuit abuse. Through town hall meetings, CSE club meetings, and petition drives, North Carolina CSE led the effort to place the issue in front of the current North Carolina Attorney General Mike Easley and the two attorney general candidates, Roy Cooper and Dan Boyce.

Throughout the summer, NC CSE gathered hundreds of postcards asking Attorney General Mike Easley to drop the state’s lawsuit against Microsoft Corporation. In June, North Carolina CSE activists visited the Attorney General’s office with 50 of our best grassroots activists, who exhorted Mr. Easley to drop the state’s lawsuit.

NC CSE activists, continuing to express their opposition to government-sponsored lawsuit abuse, brought the issue to the candidates for attorney general. As a direct result of our grassroots efforts, on September 28, 2000, the Winston-Salem Journal wrote a front-page feature article depicting NC CSE’s activities: “Microsoft suit needs a closer look, 2 say.” The next day, the Washington Post highlighted NC CSE’s grassroots efforts in an article titled, “Microsoft Judge Says Ruling at Risk on Appeal.”

Genuine Grassroots Activism

North Carolina CSE staff is energizing our grassroots activists with major policy initiatives and victories. Our activities are making an impact on the political landscape of North Carolina. NC CSE has participated in 180 events since June 2000. Our primary intent was to recruit and mobilize activists to participate in our voter education efforts, which came to a climax in October:

  • Recruited more than 135 volunteer activists to help with pre-election activities;
  • Conducted precinct walks, reaching a total 41,900 homes in targeted areas across the state;
  • Posted 5,000 CSE signs for our Social Security, Medicare, government-sponsored lawsuit abuse, tax reform, and tort reform campaigns;
  • Distributed more than 150,000 pieces of voter education literature.

    These major activities are the highlights of a growing organization that now has more than 14,000 members and 20 active local clubs across the state of North Carolina. Our members know from experience that real grassroots can trump big money politics every time. CSE activists are educated, engaged and mobilized to continue the fight for less government, lower taxes, and more freedom for years to come.