Pathetic Attempt by Marlowe Foster campaign to smear John Brooks!

Dear Marlowe:

Really don't know much about you since you haven't really been a part of the Democratic Party in NC. I hear you used to work on a farm, and have been quite the lobbyist for big corporations. I've been going to meetings from the precinct level on up through state party conventions and SEC meetings, but I've never seen you or met you.

Like I said - I don't know you, but I do know John Brooks. And this really is an act of desperation on your part to drag up stuff from decades ago to smear a good man.

I've known him from my work with the Democratic Party, and I've also known him from working with him in the Wake County Progressive Democrats, and the Progressive Democrats of North Carolina. Just like you - John Brooks worked on a farm in his youth. And he's not a racist. In fact, he helped black voters in Durham get their foot in the door of the Durham County Democratic Party when it was largely a whites-only organization. Hardly the work of a racist, wouldn't you say?

And as Labor Commissioner, John Brooks worked to protect working men and women of ALL races. There is more pro-labor precedent-setting case law on the books with his name attached than any Labor Commissioner before or after his previous 4 terms. And John Brooks has run for a variety of offices within the Democratic Party for decades, and no one here thinks he's a racist.

There is no comparison between what John Brooks has done to help working men and women of all races compared to what you have done in your adult career as a corporate lobbyist. I'd love to see what you wrote to your corporate bosses about how they could best overcome burdensome regulations designed to protect working men and women - but I assume that "work product" and you can't produce it for us to look at, right?

You ought to be more positive - talking more about what you could do to help working men and women in North Carolina instead of mounting personal attacks on fellow Democrats.

You owe Mr. Brooks an apology for dragging his good name into the mud.

Chris Telesca


Are you kidding?

It sounds like you're saying that meeting you is a litmus test for being involved in politics or being a candidate that can win. Really?

My first instinct after reading your post is to vote for Foster, which is exactly what I plan to do tomorrow. And for the record, you might want to take a bit of your own advice.

You ought to be more positive - talking more about what you could do to help working men and women in North Carolina instead of mounting personal attacks on fellow Democrats.

Well, I think I'm gonna go with the non-lobbyist.

So our votes will likely cancel each other. Lobbyists are, to me, parasites...unless they represent non-profits like the Sierra Club or other orgs of similar intent.
Lobbyists for big pharma....not so much.

Stan Bozarth

You think the last candidates could really win?

Here's a clue - they didn't win.

But if we are going to make choices between candidates in a primary - why not have litmus tests?

One - if they are going to run as Democrats, are they really Dems, or DINO Dems? Have they ever been involved in the Democratic Party? If you had two candidates equally qualified in terms of professional experience - how would you decide? What makes someone a candidate who can win?

Remember - John Brooks has won 4 elections for Labor Commissioner before. He came in second in 2008, and he came in first this year. Most people handicapped the primary as Brooks and Richardson - Foster wasn't even in the running. And even when Richardson's criminal record came out - he still came in pretty close to Foster.

Why do you think that a young corporate lobbyist could win an election against Cherie Berry? You already made up your mind against John Brooks months ago when I first posted stuff about media bias against Brooks. Nothing has changed there.

And for the record - I have written positive stuff about Brooks. But one does have to ask the question why other candidates have to go negative on other candidates - and also ask what makes them qualified to run for a particular office. It's called "due diligence" - and if the Press is so in love with Foster and is biased against Brooks, then someone else has to do the due diligence.

I really don't want a corporate lobbyist to be Labor Commissioner. What has he done in his professional life to help working people? Or don't you think that is a fair question to ask someone running for that office?

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

I am Marlowe Foster's

I am Marlowe Foster's campaign manager for Labor Commissioner. This story was brought to us by WTVD. We didn't seek out media to break the story, if so, it would have been on every news station in the state. Let's use the triangle area for example, WRAL didn't run a story, NBC 17 didn't run a story, and NEWS 14 didn't run a story. The N&O didn't run a story and to be accurate ZERO print media across the state ran the story. IT WAS NOT USED TO SMEAR ANYONE OR FOR POLITICAL ADVANTAGE!

Marlowe NEVER ONCE called Mr. Brooks a racist. He simple said the language in the book can be perceived hurtful and should raise some questions.

Let's not forget Mr. Brooks was once our Labor Commissioner and was in that position in 1991 when 25 workers died at a plant in Hamlet, NC.....yes, you read that correctly, 25 WORKERS DIED. Plant employees sent letters and made phone calls to the Dept. of Labor and NO investigators were sent to investigate the allegations.
During the following election, Mr. Brooks was defeated in the primary.

Sorry to disagree...

...but can you prove that plant employees send letters and called the DOL before the Fire?

Not quite sure how old you were in 1991, but I was here in NC and paid very close attention to that accident.

There was a federal OSHA investigation which asked people at the plant why they DIDN'T complain. They claimed they'd be fired if they did complain. That's how the REDA law was passed in the aftermath.

Those workers died largely because a pro-business Democratic GA didn't really want the DOL to do the best job they could do. The Imperial Plant was not registered with the NC Secretary of State, which was the only way that DOL OSHA could have done a routine inspection. As I wrote before, there had been no complaint about the plant from anyone working there, so the N. C. Department of Labor had no way of knowing that the plant even existed.

Brooks fined the plant $808,150, which was the largest such penalty in state history.

The major cause of death was the locked exterior doors which were not covered by an OSHA standard but by a standard administered by the N. C. Department of Insurance. After the 1991 fire and before the 1992 election, Commissioner Brooks adopted the North Carolina Building Code as an OSHA standard, which would have allowed the citation of locked exterior doors.

Despite all these facts, someone had to be made a scapegoat, and it was the NC Labor Department and Commissioner Brooks.

Brooks lost the 1992 Democratic primary for Commissioner of Labor to Harry Payne. After Payne won the General Election, he rescinded the new standard allowing citation for locked exterior doors. And I can tell you from personal experience dealing with the Payne DOL, he didn't do jack shit to enforce the REDA law in the wake of the Hamlet fire. He was more concerned about businesses having a good experience with an OSHA investigation than protecting worker health and safety.

Right after the feds passed the OSHA anti-retaliation laws (the 11(c) provisions) - they set out to make some precedent-setting cases. They took the cases to trial, and then onto the Appeals Courts. Those precedents are still on the books.

When the REDA Law was passed, an entire investigative division was formed - the WOrkplace Retaliatory Discrimination division. They were supposed to investigate all the complaints along the same lines as EEOC complaints. Can you guess how many cases the DOL and Attorney General's office took to court during the Payne years? ZERO!

Cherie B. hasn't done any better, but I didn't expect her to. But for all the hoopla over Payne being such a great friend to working men and women, I expected him to do more. He didn't do a damned thing.

That's why I am a big Brooks supporter. I know he was a better friend to working men and women then Payne ever was. He brought more cases to the court and there are more pro-labor precedent-setting cases with his name on them than any Labor Commissioner before him or after him. That doesn't protect anyone from being a scapegoat.

Since the 1992 Primary defeat, John has worked for the Industrial Commission, dealing with workman's comp issues. I say that makes him a better candidate for Labor Commissioner than almost anyone else who could run against him.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Not true, Chris

The Imperial Plant was not registered with the NC Secretary of State, which was the only way that DOL OSHA could have done a routine inspection.

Imperial Foods was registered with the Secretary of State, before changing their name to Sunburst Foods shortly after the fire.

Also, your implication that DOL/OSHA couldn't have helped those folks anyway:

The major cause of death was the locked exterior doors which were not covered by an OSHA standard but by a standard administered by the N. C. Department of Insurance. After the 1991 fire and before the 1992 election, Commissioner Brooks adopted the North Carolina Building Code as an OSHA standard, which would have allowed the citation of locked exterior doors.

is flipped on its head with the reality of the $808,150 in fines. Not to mention comments from Brooks and other DOL officials:

Mr. Brooks said the fines were based on inspections of the plant shortly after the fire and the finding of 54 "willful" violations of state and Federal safety regulations, 23 "serious" violations and six "other-than-serious" violations.

Frank Trogdon, the chief inspector for the State Labor Department, said the willful violations, in which an employer knowingly endangered workers, included locked fire exits, exits too distant from hazardous areas, and inadequate emergency lighting and markings.

Mr. Brooks said that under current state law, each willful violation draws a $14,000 fine. But under legislation scheduled to go into effect on New Year's Day, the amount will increase to $70,000.

So: Prior to the fire, Imperial Foods was registered with SecState, and DOL/OSHA had the authority to levy fines for locked fire exits.

Some observations on this Labor Commissioner race

I appreciate the new information about the WTVD story, and how it came about. I have seen firsthand how the media will try to play candidates off against each other to generate a news story.

I had already voted for Marlowe Foster by absentee ballot, and I was having misgivings based on that single news story. As Chris T. has pointed out, Foster is the new kid on the block, and I don't know him personally or well.

I also am a former registered lobbyist, so I take some offense at those who would hold anyone who is a lobbyist in low regard. I think it depends on the individual lobbyist's track record, the same as in any other employment. I have known many highly informed and worthy people who are lobbyists.

I don't want to see things said by supporters of either candidate that are not fully thought out or that will come back to haunt the winning candidate in the fall general election.

Hopefully we can all agree that the important task at hand is to defeat Cherie Berry and get a progressive elected in Nov. So let's end the bickering and name calling today. OK?

Martha Brock

I know plenty of lobbyists....

I know Paula Wolff and Jane Pinsky and Damon Circosta are (or were) registered as lobbyists.

I am sure that we can all agree that there is a big difference between someone who is registered as a lobbyist for a non-profit or an NGO vs. a big business with a history of not having the best interests of working people or customers in their hearts?

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

No Chris, I don't agree

I stick to my previous statement. It depends on the individual who is the lobbyist and how they performed on the job, not some generalization that would lump anyone who represents business as in a tainted group somehow.

Martha Brock

I believe being a congress-person ranked lowest

in a recent survey of what people thought about ethics and professionalism by job title. 4% below car salesmen. Legislators as a group were lower than whale-poop. Who do lobbyists cater to? association and Abramoff-like implication "lobbyist" doesn't enjoy a lot of respect. I've met some very capable and honest car salesmen...and the reputation they personally endure is unwarranted. I'm sure there are such "lobbyists."

How-some-ever, at least I know what a salesman is paid to do...and it isn't to influence Congress to make pharmaceutical purchases from oh, say Canada, illegal....just so drug companies can hose consumers. As an example.....

Stan Bozarth

And I stick to mine

You are most certainly entitled to your opinion. I think there is a big difference between people based on what they do in their jobs.

That's what democracy is all about.

I just wish that more people and the news media (who get their broadcast licenses for free) took it seriously so that we could have more people participating in our elections and majority decisions.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

You wanna trust PPP...

...after they nailed Amendment One? ;-)

Maybe some of the kids over there should put away their "knives" and break out the slide rulers?

Right now - Brooks is ahead 53% with over 38% of the precincts reporting according to Time-Warner news. The SBOE site has him with a bigger margin.

Out of the 54 Democratic votes at my precinct, John got 32 of them - or 59.25%!

You know what they say - it ain't over till it's over!

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Yep - PPP nailed it...

...almost BACKWARDS!

Brooks - 31,208 54%
Foster - 26,419 46%

Brooks won by an average of 1.73 votes in each of NC"s 2769 precincts. Pretty good considering all the negatives that folks cited as reasons why he couldn't possibly win!

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

my mistake

I think the so-called PPP tweet was fake, but I never heard of that before.

Martha Brock