Monday, July 25, 2016

Sign of the Times?

NC House Rep. Charles Jeter, Republican of Mecklenburg County, has suddenly resigned his seat and withdrawn from reelection this fall. Hmmmm.

He is sometimes described as a middle-of-the-road Republican ("moderate" being a permanently retired term, O my brethren). Jeter was one of only three Republican members of the NC House who did not show up nor participate in the special session called to pass HB2 targeting transgender citizens.

Chaz Beasley
Jeter was challenged by a far more conservative Republican in the March Primary (natch!) and won by only 35 votes. Jeter faced a good Democratic opponent this November in Chaz Beasley, a graduate of both Harvard University and Georgetown Law School.

The Republicans of Jeter's House District 92 will choose a successor to finish out Jeter's term (which is actually effectively over anyway) and someone to run in his place. We're betting it'll be Tom Davis, who was Jeter's primary opponent and who ran unsuccessfully for the same seat in 2012.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

HB2 Has Hit McCrory Where It Hurts the Most

Let's hear from Gov. Squishy again how HB2 has had no effect on him and his state, except for positive public response. Yeah, right. WBTV went deeper:
Both [Pat McCrory & Roy Cooper] saw a spike in donations on March 23, 2016, the day the North Carolina General Assembly held its one-day special session to pass the controversial bill, which McCrory signed into law later that evening.
McCrory pulled in $89,410 on the day he signed HB2, more than four times his daily average prior to the bill’s passage. His fundraising dropped off the next day, averaging less than $10,000 a day over the next week.
Cooper saw his fundraising spike on March 23, when he raised $72,861, more than twice his daily average prior to that day. That momentum continued into the next day, when he raised $83,931 and through the remainder of the week, when he averaged more than $42,000 each day.
The day after the United States Department of Justice said HB2 violates federal civil rights laws Cooper brought in $100,511, his campaign’s best day up to that point.
The same trend has had more mixed results for McCrory. After raking in nearly $90,000 the day he signed HB2, his campaign has usually seen donations trend downward when the controversial law was in the news.
After averaging more than $20,000 a day through the first month of the quarter, the McCrory campaign collected just over $2,500 combined during the two days after Bruce Springsteen announced he was canceling his concert in Greensboro.
But it wasn’t all negative for McCrory. The day after appearing on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show to defend HB2, McCrory pulled in more than $180,000, one of his campaign’s best day’s this election cycle....

So there is a monetary downside to bigotry enacted as public policy ... and footnote: When your bigotry is costing you big bucks, where do you go? Why, on Fox News naturally, where bigotry is financially remunerative.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Distinguished NC Republican Calls Trump "A Danger to the Country"

Robert F. "Bob" Orr, a former Republican justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court and a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, has left the Trump coronation but not before telling a WRAL reporter that Trump is “singularly unqualified to lead this country.”

Orr led the John Kasich campaign in North Carolina. His candor about Trump earned him a denunciation from Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the NC GOP: Orr “hasn’t been a good Republican for a long time,” Woodhouse said.

"Good Republican." Whatever that means to Woodhouse, we doubt you could find a Republican Party regular with a more distinguished pedigree. After he was appointed to the NC Court of Appeals by Republican Governor Jim Martin in 1986, he won election to the Supreme Court in 1994 and served there for ten years. He ran for governor in 2008, losing to Pat McCrory. He would have made a hell of a better governor.

He even served for a few months in 2014 as the appointed District Attorney for the 24th Prosecutorial District, which includes Watauga County, after the resignation of DA Jerry Wilson.

He's a principled conservative, and he's read the character of the Republican presidential nominee correctly. Upon departing Cleveland, Orr said, ruefully, “I’ve had all the fun I can have.”

Here's your platform, chumps, and enjoy the rest of the 1920s!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

John Locke Foundation Called Out for Participating in Outright Fraud

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), along with 18 other Democratic senators, named the John Locke Foundation of North Carolina, along with other "climate deniers" in business and think tanks, for deliberately and consistently misleading the public about the role of fossil fuels in climate change.
Whitehouse accused the 48 groups – including some major corporations, media outlets and research organizations – of trying to “fool the public about the risk of climate change.” Those entities, he said, “provide talking points to right-wing talk radio” and “take advantage of a lazy media's impulse to offer both sides of the story even when one is false.” [N&O]
Senators Dick Burr and Thom Tillis immediately started whining that Sen. Whitehouse was trying to suppress free speech.

Actually, dear senators from North Carolina, fraud is not covered by free speech rights.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Anne Marie Yates Presented a Falsified "Petition" to the Watauga BOE

Anne Marie's reach exceeds her grasp
Anne Marie Yates, the ineffable chairwoman of the Watauga County Republican Party, stood up during public comment at Tuesday's Watauga Board of Elections meeting and stated that she had "walked the Boone 2" neighborhood -- where the Legends nightclub is located -- and was turning in a petition signed by 30-something people who wanted to keep Early Voting at Legends. Her exact words (from the tape of the meeting: her testimony begins at the 57:18 mark on the video: "I recently walked through that neighborhood, and I have obtained 30 signatures on a petition asking you [Watauga BOE] to keep that location at Legends."


Since Legends has never been used for Early Voting, we decided that we needed to see this so-called "petition."

A call to Matt Snyder, administrator of the Board of Elections, produced a spreadsheet of people and their signatures on a sheet with no headers and hence no indication of what these folks were signing onto.

A call to one of the names on the so-called "petition" produced this information: the signer thought she was signing a petition to keep Legends as the polling place on Election Day, not for Early Voting. A totally different thing. A horse of a different color.

And therefore, Anne Marie's "petition" was a bogus little piece of fluff...

... apparently done -- we have to assume -- so that Watauga BOE Chair Bill Aceto could claim at least some semblance of public support for the action he took Tuesday night, moving Early Voting on the AppState campus to Legends.

Oh, Republicans! You're so transparently corrupt!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How the NC Gen'l Assembly Has "Preempted" Its Cities

Barry Yeoman
Very grateful to Barry Yeoman for his political history of what led up to Pat McCrory's "bathroom bill," HB2. I'm particularly grateful for Yeoman's teaching me the term "preemption," which explains a great deal about the current frenzy of Republican "power-grabbing" by the North Carolina General Assembly. Quoting at length here, for which I apologize, but this is news to me and important. Highly recommend the full text of Yeoman's excellent article:
When I started covering the North Carolina legislature in the mid-eighties, business interests were already pushing to strip cities and counties of their powers. In 1987, Representative George Miller, a Durham Democrat, introduced a measure making it harder to remove nuisance billboards, as Raleigh's city council was trying to do. He also sponsored a bill, favored by the N.C. Board of Realtors, prohibiting local officials from "down-zoning" properties to lower-intensity use—an important conservation tool—without compensating owners.
Neither bill passed. But a strategy was taking shape: as cities took more initiative to improve their quality of life, aggrieved businesses could plead their cases to the friendlier state legislature. This tactic of defanging local governments is called "preemption." It's hardly restricted to North Carolina. And its use has burgeoned over the years leading up to HB 2.
The tobacco industry, fighting indoor-smoking regulations, helped pioneer preemption in the 1980s....
Big Tobacco made big strides initially, then lost ground as public support grew for smoking restrictions. The more enduring push came from the gun lobby, which blanketed the country with bills to stop places like Durham and Chapel Hill from regulating firearms....
Since then, preemption efforts have flourished. "Every industry, every interest group, said, 'We might not get what we want, but we can stop anything' "....
Those industries are often assisted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a free-market advocacy group that brings together business leaders with state legislators at luxury hotels. ALEC also publishes model laws curtailing local authority, with wording that lawmakers can copy and paste.
It's no shock, then, that in recent years states have barred municipalities from regulating fracking, banning or taxing plastic bags, and creating sanctuaries for immigrants. This spring, Wisconsin outlawed county development moratoriums. Mississippi upended local regulations on companies like Uber. Arizona took away local leverage over drones and puppy mills. And Kansas passed a law preempting—in a single swoop—local policies governing rent control, housing inspections, and nutritional labeling.
As HB 2 makes clear, one focus of this push has been labor: both ALEC and the dining and tourism industries have tried to prevent local governments from regulating wages or other working conditions....
This means not just handcuffing elected officials, but also overturning direct democracy. Two years ago, voters in Orange County, Florida, approved an ordinance mandating up to seven days of annual paid sick leave for workers at all but the smallest companies. Opposing the measure were Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster) and Disney. Before the vote could take place, however, the Florida legislature outlawed local employment standards. That invalidated the ballot measure as soon as it passed....

North Carolina has long used preemption, though not in an exceptional way. That changed with an off-year election [2010] that immoderately altered the political mood in Raleigh....
[The Tea Party wins of 2010 were] more than a partisan shift. The 2010 election triggered a breakdown of North Carolina's moderate consensus, which Democrats like former governor Jim Hunt and Republicans like former governor Jim Martin had shared for fifty years. That consensus favored roads, schools, and racial civility, all of which undergirded a healthy business climate.
The new legislative majority set out to dismantle that consensus: curtailing voting access, cutting education spending, and rejecting a federally funded Medicaid expansion. It slashed unemployment benefits and imposed new barriers to abortion. It repealed the Racial Justice Act, which guarded against bias in the sentencing of death-row inmates. It set into motion Amendment 1, which wrote one-man/one-woman marriage into the state constitution until the federal courts invalidated it. It redrew its own district lines to explicitly give Republicans a greater electoral advantage.
And it picked up the mantle of preemption with exceptional vigor. Never before had there been such a disconnect between the state's government and its urban areas, nor such a strong impulse to rein in liberal and even centrist cities.
This time, preemption went beyond big-picture issues like gun control. Lawmakers got personal with individual cities and counties. They tried to wrest from Asheville control of its own water system and, from Charlotte, control of its airport. (The Asheville case is currently in legal limbo.) They redrew electoral lines for the Wake County commissioners and school board (struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals this month) and Greensboro City Council (still in court). They forced Durham to extend utility services to the 751 South development near Jordan Lake, despite concerns about water quality and traffic. [Et cetera, including, of course, the still unresolved taking away of Boone's extra-territorial jurisdiction.]