Monday, April 20, 2015

Former Chair of Watauga GOP Appointed to Direct Watauga Elections

VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
Luke Eggers
Chairman, Watauga County Board of Elections
Luke.Eggers@watgov.org
RE: Appointment of a director of elections to the Watauga County Board of Elections (“County Board”) pursuant to G.S. § 165-35.

Dear Chairman Eggers:

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April 20, 2015

I am in receipt of your letters describing the County
Board’s effort to secure a replacement for outgoingDirectorJaneAnnHodges,whohasservedyourcountyfornearlythreedecades. Iextend to Director Hodges my sincere appreciation for her years of service to Watauga County and my best wishes to her in retirement.

You have requested that my office review the nomination of Matthew Snyder consistent with my statutory duty under G.S. §§ 165-35(a) and (b), which require that my office approve any nominee submitted by a county board of elections, provided that my doing so is consistent with other state and federal requirements, and that the nominee is not otherwise ineligible pursuant to a G.S. §§ 165-35(a)(1)(7). As you know, the exercise of this statutory responsibility is not an opportunity for my office to pass judgment on the propriety or relative qualification of a given nominee. Instead, my office is directed to ensure basic statutory qualifications are met and then to facilitate required training and support for the incoming director.

Having reviewed your initial letter and enclosure (received April 9), your supplemental letter and enclosure (received April 18), and video footage of the County Board’s April 1 meeting, I am satisfied that the majority has sufficiently evidenced its intent to nominate Mr. Snyder, though I would stress the importance that minutes be “full and accurate”. See G.S §§ 143-318.10(e), 163-31. The nomination is, therefore, appropriately submitted to my office. I am informed your nomination process did not include a public solicitation of applications and certain members of the public have objections to Mr. Snyder’s nomination on that basis. Applicable statutes do not require an open application process and practices in this regard vary from county-to-county. Absent any finding that Mr. Snyder is ineligible, I hereby appoint Mr. Snyder to the position of Director of Elections, effective July 1, 2015.

It will be imperative that your Board stress the necessity that Mr. Snyder abstain from political activities, as required by G.S. § 165-39 and the enclosed Notice Regarding Social Media. Impartiality and sound judgment are necessary to the proper administration of elections and are qualities critical


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for every director of elections. Mr. Snyder will be required to meet training and certification requirements, as set out in G.S. § 163-35(g), and we will look forward to scheduling training for Mr. Snyder in the coming weeks. When your Board has adopted duties and responsibilities for Mr. Snyder, please provide my office with a copy.

My office is committed to working with your County Board and with Mr. Snyder to explore ways in which the State Board of Elections can support the ongoing success of elections administration in Watauga County.

Sincerely,
Kim Strach
Executive Director, State Board of Elections

Encl.: Notice Regarding Social Media (August 5, 2014)
Cc: Bill Aceto, Secretary, Watauga CBE (via Bill.Aceto@watgov.org)
Kathleen Campbell, Watauga CBE (
via Kathleen.Campbell@watgov.org)
Jane Ann Hodges, Director of Elections, Watauga CBE (
via JaneAnn.Hodges@watgov.org)
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The Dam Has a Big New Crack in It

Yesterday Marco Rubio, who's running for vice president on somebody's else ticket, said:
“I … don’t believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for the vast and enormous majority of people. And, in fact, the bottom line is that I believe that sexual preference is something people are born with.”
That's not conservative orthodoxy. That's conservative heresy.

Rubio will make an attractive running mate for Scott Walker, who admitted yesterday -- what was in Republican water bottles yesterday? -- that he'd attended a gay wedding reception.

That dam is breaking! (Marco Rubio is still an empty suit, IMO, which makes him perfect for a vice presidential run.)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Gang That Can't Shoot Straight

Photo by Lonnie Webster
There are now three -- count 'em! -- three different sets of minutes about what actually happened at the April Fool's Day meeting of the Watauga Board of Elections (BOE). The Boys -- Bill Aceto and Luke Eggers -- were (perhaps) so embarrassed by their incompetence that neither of them showed up on Friday afternoon for a specially called meeting (another!) to try to fix what neither of them could ever admit were glaring mistakes of procedure.

Aceto and Eggers called in to the meeting via telephone. That's what we're now calling a public meeting of an important civic body.

Jesse Wood's coverage in the High Country Press is priceless, wherein we learn that Mr. Aceto loves the whole concept of "draft minutes," since they can be rewritten repeatedly until you get the outcome you need, or the outcome mandated by Kim Strach, the Executive Director of the NC Board of Elections, who has to put her rubber-stamp of approval on this cluster-frack.

In fact, according to Aceto in the Jesse Wood article referenced above, The Boys have been stumbling toward the light because Ms. Strach told them they had to get the appointment vote right before she could approve their pick of a political hack to run Watauga's elections.

The whole system is now corrupt, top to bottom, from the puppetry of the Watauga BOE (a wholly owned subsidiary of Stacy C. Eggers IV -- "Four" -- to the top dogs at the State Board, whose actions in regard to voting in Watauga County (their previous rubber-stamp of Eggers&Eggers' Early Voting plan) was ruled unconstitutional by the senior Superior Court judge in Wake County last fall.

Who among you can now trust the purported fairness and honesty of any vote in this county?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

We Perceive That We've Been Screwed

Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer
The Republican overlords in the North Carolina General Assembly promised that everyone's taxes were going down when they passed their flat-tax revision. We were in a crowd of 25-30 people this week, and someone thought to poll everyone in the room: Did your taxes go down?

There was a resounding "NO!" from a majority of people in that room. Some said their state taxes had remained about even with last year, and a few weren't sure.

The overwhelming opinion was that the Republicans in the General Assembly had not delivered on their promise. Many tax deductions were gone, along with tax credits for child care, disability, property taxes on farm machinery, as well as deductions for college savings plans. If you own a yacht, however, or a private jet, you've still got your tax credit for those "necessaries," though no one in that room owned a yacht or a private jet.

The "Carolina Comeback" that Governor Squishy used to tout has been a mirage for most taxpayers. Unless you're making $900,000 a year, and up, you didn't see much in the way of economic benefit. In the meantime, the state's budget has fallen into an ever deepening black hole of deficit, and the decline in basic services threaten to turn North Carolina into a third-world society, or worse, Mississippi.

A recent PPP survey commissioned by the NC Justice Center’s Budget & Tax Center found that 60 percent of North Carolinians, including half of Republicans, say their taxes went up in the last year. Only 8 percent believe they went down.

In a very sensible blog post, Thomas Mills suggests that Republicans -- particularly our woebegone governor, who isn't gerrymandered into a safe seat -- are going to pay the electoral price next year for promising the moon and delivering a swamp.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Blight on the Landscape Builds a Big New Blight on the Landscape

Virginia Foxx's new house mars the view of Grandfather Mountain.

Foxx's Biggest Pimp Gets Busted for Fraud

Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit "educational" special interest that has been busted for defrauding students (and the general public), has long had its tongue on Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's private parts. Open Secrets lists Corinthian Colleges among Foxx's biggest contributors. They've held fundraising receptions for her for several years.

Foxx has been a loyal promoter of the interests of for-profit colleges in the U.S. House of Representatives, and a constant, caustic critic of public higher education (well, after all, she made her living for many years in public higher education, so why the hell wouldn't she bite that hand? It's in her DNA to be spiteful). She was elevated to the chairwomanship of the subcommittee on higher education, the better to rake in the pelf.

Corinthian Colleges has now been cited for defrauding students. Heald College, "the jewel of a once-thriving chain of for-profit colleges owned by Corinthian Colleges Inc.," has been slapped with a $27.9 million fine for its misdeeds, which include misleading students and accreditation agencies about the employment rates of their graduates and showing a “blatant disregard” for the federal student loan program.

Corinthian Colleges was being probed for fraud last year, and Foxx was prominently pictured as Corinthian's favorite congressional prostitute.

But who cares, right? You can't make the voters of the Fifth District smell shit.

Asheville in the Crosshairs

Like Boone, only different.

The wealth redistribution scheme currently moving in the North Carolina General Assembly will punish the city of Asheville, jerking away big $$ in sales tax revenue and redistributing that money to poorer counties that generate far less in sales tax revenue. That scheme, combined with the already passed elimination of the business privilege license fees, will punish the city of Asheville to the tune of $2.5 - $3 million.

We now live in a state where, if you don't support the dominant Teapublicans, you will be punished, or, at worst, you will have your local elections monkeyed with until you DO support the dominant Teapublicans.

Ironically, the same sales tax redistribution proposal that will hurt Asheville will actually end up helping the city of Boone, which was punished last year by County Commission Chair Nathan Miller, who changed the way sales taxes were distributed to the county's municipalities, rewarding Blowing Rock, Seven Devils, and Beech Mountain with windfalls while depriving Boone of $2 million.

Under the law that Senator Dan Soucek and Rep. Jonathan Jordan will obediently vote for (probably),  because their Republican overlords demand it, Nathan Miller's ability to change sales tax distribution will end, and the resort towns of Blowing Rock, etc., along with the county of Watauga as a whole, along with the fire districts ... will all see less revenue.

So how's that "Carolina Comeback" working out for ya?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Worker Safety in NC Is Being Managed By Montgomery Burns

Investigation by the Raleigh News&Observer reveals that NC Department of Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry has been flagrantly violating North Carolina statutes about worker safety.

That should come as no surprise. Since she took office in 2001, she's coddled dangerous businesses and turned a deaf ear to worker complaints. Berry has actually bragged, publicly, that she sees her job as helping NC businesses avoid the "burdens" of protecting the health, safety, and general well-being of more than 4 million workers.

Her failures to enforce workplace safety regs on the poultry industry led to an investigative series in the Charlotte Observer in 2008 and a stinging editorial denouncing her Cruella Deville attitudes toward our sweating laborers.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lawsuit Over Gerrymandering of Wake County Commissioner Districts

The Republicans in the General Assembly jammed through their rewriting of Wake County commissioner elections last week -- a naked power grab, after losing the commissioner elections last fall -- but there's already a federal lawsuit aimed at overturning it.

Most interesting fact that emerged from the lawsuit: the new Wake commissioner districts are very unequal as to population, varying as much as 9.8 percent, which certainly flies in the face of "one person, one vote."