Saturday, August 27, 2016

Judge Schroeder Can't Find the Melody

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, the conservative George W. Bush appointee who was famously overturned on NC voting rights by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, has issued a limited (very) injunction against HB2 as it relates to just three people, while keeping the law intact for everyone else. Gee, thanks for clearing that up, Judge.

Schroeder's ruling blocks the UNC system from enforcing the bathroom portion of the controversial law for three transgender residents who have challenged it. Schroeder said the three plaintiffs -- two students and one worker at various UNC-system institutions -- were likely to succeed on claims that HB2 violates federal anti-discrimination law, but the judge -- threading the needle -- also thought the equal protection claims did not seem likely to succeed. Huh?

How confusing is Schroeder's order? The three plaintiffs said they were relieved, while Phil Berger and Tim Moore, the legislative geniuses who rammed HB2 through the General Assembly in less than a day, issued their boilerplate praise that the judge had upheld the law that will keep "grown men out of women's bathrooms." Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Judge Schroeder did manage to point out that Berger-Moore had passed a law with no enforcement mechanism. Governor Squishy likes to brag that HB2 is "commonsense" law meant to protect privacy, but Schroeder wrote in his decision that so far the governor and the other honchos defending HB2 have not provided any evidence that allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their gender identity poses a privacy or public-safety risk.

“Ultimately, the record reflects what counsel for Governor McCrory candidly speculates was the status quo ante in North Carolina in recent years: some transgender individuals have been quietly using bathrooms and other facilities that match their gender identity, without public awareness or incident,” Schroeder wrote.

He also said transgender people “generally seek to avoid having their nude or partially nude bodies exposed in bathrooms, showers, and other similar facilities.”

At times, Judge Schroeder can actually make out the trees; he just never sees the forest.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Eggers-ism, An Endemic Disease Among the NC GOP

Eggers-ism noun, the irresistible itch to suppress the votes of your political enemies

Or we could call it "Woodhouse-ism," though we prefer to shop local.

Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the NC GOP in Raleigh, used a private email address to command urge the Republican member of the Wake County Board of Elections to appoint Woodhouse's cousin Eddie Woodhouse to the chairmanship of the Wake BOE.

That Republican member, Ellis Boyle, not only refused to do Woodhouse's bidding, but he also refused to agree to Cousin Eddie's subsequent motion to close some Early Voting sites in Wake, including the one on the NC State campus.

Ellis Boyle was also infuriated that Dallas Woodhouse would send emails regarding public business to his private email account, reprimanding Woodhouse in blunt terms: “If you would like to correspond with me in writing about board business in the future, please use my board email account.”

Ouch.

Woodhouse, in true Eggers-ism fashion, is wholly unrepentant and unembarrassed to be exposed in this manner.

Bill Aceto for the Watauga BOE: Having His Cake & Eating It Too

Bill Aceto with BOE
member Stella Anderson
Coverage this morning in the Watauga Democrat is comprehensive about what we've been warning you all about -- here and here and here (just yesterday) -- the Four Eggers scheme to force all Early Voting for the November elections into the county BOE office. Eggers took the further step in writing a "legal opinion" that the county BOE office also actually includes -- surprise! -- an adjacent building.

In addition to that Eggers document, Anna Oakes in the Watauga Democrat includes a link to the letter that Four Eggers Bill Aceto sent to the State Board of Elections on Wednesday, a letter I was planning to publish here this morning. Oh, hell! Let's go ahead and publish it here too:

From: Bill Aceto
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 1:54 PM
To: OneStop.SBOE@ncsbe.gov
Cc: Matthew.Snyder; ,
Subject: explanation of one stop vote

August 24, 2016

Kimberly Strach
Executive Director, NC Board of Elections
VIA EMAIL:  Kim.Strach@ncsbe.gov

          Re:  Watauga County Early Voting Locations

Dear Director Strach:

          I write to you regarding attempts by the Watauga County Board of Elections to reach a decision for an Early Voting Plan in light of the decision of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down the changes to the Early Voting law.  I also write to clarify any misinformation you may have received from other parties regarding the status of the local boards efforts.

          As you are aware, the Watauga County Board of Elections is stifled by partisan wrangling and an inability to reach consensus on the possible locations of early voting sites.  The Board has investigated numerous options and potential locations, but has become deadlocked over the unsuitability of the Plemmons Student Center as a voting location.

          At our most recent meeting, I proposed an Early Voting Plan which mirrored my previous early voting plan I submitted several weeks ago to your office (which includes a early voting site on the campus of Appalachian State University at the location of our Boone 2 Election Day polling place) with the additional days required by the 4th circuit ruling early voting days were to be allocated to the county board of elections office.  Member Anderson spoke against my plan, insisting that she would not vote for a plan that did not include voting at the Plemmons building. Secretary Owen stated the County Board needed to seek unanimity on a plan, and that she would only second a motion which appeared to have the support of all members.  As such, my motion died for lack of a second.

          Member Anderson then made a motion for her plan, which included an Early Voting location at the Plemmons building.  When asked whether she would compromise on that location, Member Anderson advised she would not.  As such, her motion died for lack of a second.

          Therefore, the Watauga County Board of Elections adopted neither a majority or minority plan for Early Voting in the upcoming election.  As I read the statute governing this election, 163-227.2 in effect at this time means that early voting will occur only at the County Board of Elections Office since no Early Voting Plan was adopted for our County.  While this gridlock removes any discretion from the County Board of Elections, I am unsure as to whether a Board Member may still petition the State Board for adoption of an Early Voting Plan.  It is my understanding that Member Anderson has attempted to submit her proposed locations to the State Board in an attempt to have it considered. 

          While I believe this Default Option would be adequate for Watauga County based on the data compiled by the MIT software, in the event the State Board of Elections feels it has the authority to set an alternate Early Voting Plan based on these facts I wanted to present my proposal in the event they do consider this matter.  I have also sent in a set of Findings of Fact which I submitted with my previous (majority) Early Voting plan.  I believe these facts would help State Board members understand the dynamics in Watauga County. If you need for me to resend this information to you please let me know and I am happy to do.

          Please advise me at your earliest convenience on the conclusion of the State Board regarding their authority to consider these under the statute governing Counties that failed to have any plan at all?

          I appreciate all you and your team do for the voters of Watauga County.  The recent State Board meeting in Concord was a wealth of information.

                                                          Sincerely,



                                                          Bill Aceto

Enclosures
cc:  Matthew Snyder, Watauga County Elections Director

*************

Aceto's letter to Kim Strach is an interesting study in "absolutely, but maybe not." In the 5th paragraph, "As I read the statute," Eggers Aceto writes, Early Voting will occur only at the county BOE office -- and there's not a damn thing the state BOE can or should do to stop that outcome -- followed quickly by "I am unsure" and therefore I might submit my own Early Voting plan because Democratic member of the BOE Stella Anderson may have submitted her own plan, and I don't want to be called out once again as a complete zero in front of the higher ups.

The 6th paragraph gets even more interesting: "...I believe this Default Option [voting only at the BOE office] would be adequate for Watauga County based on the data compiled by the MIT software...."

The MIT software Aceto cryptically refers to requires some explanation: the SBOE gave Elections Director Matt Snyder (and all elections directors across the state) access to MIT-developed software meant to simulate "wait times" to vote based on expected turn-out, the number of machines available for voting, time required for check in, etc. Aceto is claiming that this simulation software shows that the "default option" of the BOE office would be "adequate," but he includes nothing to back up that claim. (Because he has nothing to back up that claim?)

As a matter of fact, Stella Anderson used the MIT software and ran simulations that show the exact opposite of "adequate." Even if Four Eggers should prevail in annexing the county's Administration Building to the BOE office, the MIT simulations show wait times stretching beyond four hours.

It has not escaped the notice of various persons that Eggers & Aceto have engaged in an active conspiracy to frustrate, cripple, bollix, and generally muck up Early Voting in Watauga County for purely partisan motives. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Four Eggers Interprets the Law

So this happened:

Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four"), Watauga County Attorney and Republican mastermind of Board of Elections maneuvering, wrote a legal opinion in the form of a memo (see below) to Matt Snyder, director of the BOE, which claimed the following (short version):

That for purposes of Early Voting, the county BOE office includes the next door County Administration building.

So what? you ask.

That "legal" interpretation is important only because Eggers and BOE Chair Bill Aceto intend to "default" on providing any satellite polling stations for Early Voting and force all Early Voting activity into the BOE offices (as required by statute when there is no plan for Early Voting). Since the actual BOE office is wholly inadequate -- laughably so -- hence Mr. Eggers' need to declare the county Admin. Bldg. a part of the BOE office.

He does that bit of fast footwork primarily on the "history" of the use of the Admin. Bldg. for Early Voting in the past. What Eggers glides past is a bit of a catch for his scheme: the Admin. Bldg. was used for Early Voting in lieu of the BOE office as part of an Early Voting plan. According to statute, a BOE cannot use a separate building (however adjacent it may be) in lieu of the main office unless a plan for Early Voting has been discussed by BOE board members, voted on, and adopted unanimously.

As you know, O my children, the BOE refused to adopt any Early Voting plan. Democratic member Stella Anderson submitted her plan to the State Board of Elections. So did Bill Aceto, at the last minute, claiming in his covering memo that he believes the SBOE really can't impose an Early Voting plan on Watauga.

What Else Does Eggers' Memo Say?
Four Eggers tells Matt Snyder that Snyder has the authority, without interference from the SBOE, to declare the Admin. Bldg. a part of the BOE office, and Eggers further questions the authority of the SBOE to impose an Early Voting plan on Watauga County (last paragraph on page 2 and first paragraph on page 3), a position to which Bill Aceto is now clinging as to a life raft.

Eggers is not interpreting the law as it's written but rather the law as he wants it to be. This is not legal wisdom. It's politics.

What will the SBOE do? We'll know soon.














































































Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Today at ASU


Wiggy

Bob Heltman, wearing the red vest
Send this child to camp!

Bob Heltman, chair of the Henderson County Board of Elections, wanted to have armed citizen posses patrolling voting precincts in the county where he's supposed to be insuring open, fair, and non-partisan elections.

Bob Heltman even asked the Henderson County sheriff if they couldn't mount an overland assault team, or "posse comitatus" for those of you schooled in both Latin and far-right conspiracy theories.

He said at an open meeting of the Henderson County Board of Elections that he was worried about "terrorism." We think he meant he was worried about too many brown people voting for Democrats.

If the Henderson County sheriff had an opinion, it isn't memorialized.

Mr. Heltman said he had dropped the idea because there just wasn't enough time to train all those armed men. Plus there was also the matter of voter intimidation. Who knew that guns at polls could make a bad impression?

Someone in authority in the Henderson County Republican Party might want to get the blood flow to Mr. Heltman's brain checked.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

HORRORS! Trump Flip-Flops on Illegals, Starts Copying Obama

The Emperor has no balls
Calling it a "flip-flop" really insults every past political flip-flop in history, since a flip-flop implies that Trump ever really had a position at all, rather than just a swaggering moment of theatrical braggadocio, but he had a meeting at Trump Tower over the weekend with some Hispanic leaders, and now he's desperate to actually have a policy position, which, as he told Bill O'Reilly yesterday, is suddenly and amazingly similar to President Obama's:

"We’re going to obey the existing laws. Now, the existing laws are very strong. The existing laws, the first thing we’re gonna do, if and when I win, is we’re gonna get rid of all of the bad ones. We’ve got gang members, we have killers, we have a lot of bad people that have to get out of this country," he said on Fox News. "As far as everybody else, we’re going to go through the process. What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country, Bush the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m gonna do the same thing."

Say goodbye (apparently?) to those mass deportations and that yuge "deportation force." We suspect that famous and fabulous, imaginary wall is beginning to look more like a silt fence. Stand by for further developments.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dallas Woodhouse's "Suppress the Vote" Memo -- "Stunning and Stupid!"

Dallas Woodhouse was a star of right-wing politics before he became Executive Director of the state Republican Party in September of 2015. He had led the NC branch of Americans for Prosperity and founded Carolina Rising in 2014, a 501(c)(4) with a single big donor, for the purpose of getting a single candidate, Thom Tillis, elected to the Senate. (His subsequent drunken TV interview at the Tillis victory celebration is a YouTube staple. Google it.)

So he's supposed to be smart? His writing of emails doesn't provoke admiration for his skills with language. (His ungrammatical rant attacking WBTV investigative reporter Nick Ochsner is but one example.)

So he's supposed to be a master political operative? The messy way he purged new NCGOP Chair Hasan Harnett, stabbing him in the chest in broad daylight, shows the deft touch of ... well, a Donald Trump acolyte.

Worse, Woodhouse tromped all over his Republican governor's petition to U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts to put a hold on the 4th Circuit Court's overturning of NC's Republican election laws. Woodhouse's memo last Sunday to Republican election officials in NC's 100 counties proves much of the 4th Circuit's scathing appraisal of Republican motives in changing voting laws.

An Ohio State University law professor, who specializes in election law, judged the Woodhouse memo "stunning and stupid."

You know the old saying is true: "Every level seeks its own water."

Try as we may, we cannot keep up with the checks and balances imposed by the court system on the extremism of the Republican leadership in Raleigh, both the General Assembly and The Guv. But thanks to the N&O, we don't have to have perfect memories:

Struck down, all or in part
2011 law requiring physicians to perform ultrasounds on women seeking abortions and describe the images
2011 law capping enrollment in a pre-kindergarten program
2011 congressional district maps
2011 state House and Senate district maps
2011 move to cut off funding for a Planned Parenthood affiliate
2012 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which voters approved
2013 attempt to phase out teacher tenure for public school teachers already vested in the program
2013 Wake County school board redistricting plan
2013 elections law overhaul including requiring voter ID and reducing early voting
2014 creation of a Coal Ash Management Commission and other panels
2015 Wake County commissioners redistricting plan
2015 law to establish retention elections for sitting N.C. Supreme Court justices
Upheld
2011 Choose Life license plate
2013 school voucher program
To be decided
2015 Greensboro city council redistricting
2015 law allowing magistrates to opt out of performing gay marriages and pass the duties to colleagues
2016 House Bill 2 that limits local anti-discrimination laws and directs bathroom access in government facilities

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article96889712.html#storylink=cpy