Thursday, October 08, 2015

The Dictatorship of the North Carolina General Assembly

You know about Asheville's water supply. It's being taken away from Asheville and given to a regional authority, which will give it to developers free of any burdens to follow Asheville's land-use planning. The North Carolina General Assembly decreed it. Let it be so!

Because there is no "home rule" in North Carolina. Cities and towns are totally at the mercy of the General Assembly, as Boone also well knows.

Now more of the General Assembly's dictatorship has come to light. Someone -- the Republican pooh-bahs who've been doing the bidding of the oil/gas/fracking industry -- snuck in a provision to the "Technical Corrections Bill" that will prevent any county or city government from regulating fracking in any way.

What is the Technical Corrections Bill? It is a collection of typo corrections and other technical error fixes for mistakes that inadvertently got into bills that passed. It's ordinarily non-controversial.

Last week, in the last effing minutes of this session of the General Assembly, the Technical Corrections Bill "was passed by the Senate at 4:06 a.m. and the House approved it six minutes later, at 4:12 a.m., with nearly a third of House members not even voting."

There was a fracking turd slipped into that bill -- surreptitiously and mendaciously -- at the last minute and without any notice to anyone, especially not to the members of The Body who represent counties where fracking is an imminent threat. (The language slipped into Technical Corrections is in addition to language in S786, passed in 2014, which was apparently not explicit enough to satisfy the oil&gas industry.)

As Judge Dillon wrote in his now infamous Asheville water system decision, the General Assembly can do any damn thing it wants to the rest of us, and our local government bodies can go straight to hell.

What's Happened to Public Education in North Carolina

Governor Squishy obviously thinks that saying stuff makes it happen. Meanwhile, the North Carolina General Assembly knows that stuff happens, 'cause they're doing it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The "General Assembly Is God" Court Decision

This morning Justice Chris Dillon of the NC Court of Appeals issued a three-judge panel's decision in the case about the seizure of Asheville's water supply.

It's pretty amazing. Or not amazing at all, if you've been paying attention to what's been happening to the higher levels of "justice" in North Carolina. Here's the "money quote" from Dillon's written opinion:  "Our General Assembly has the power to create a new political subdivision, to withdraw from Asheville authority to own and operate a public water system, and to transfer Asheville’s water system to the new political subdivision without compensation."

Got that?

Asheville built it. Asheville paid for it. The General Assembly can take it and give it to some other group, and they don't have to pay Asheville a thin red dime for it.

You realize what this means for the long-debated and controversial new Boone water intake on the New River. If you don't know what it means, you might be playing with less than a full deck of cards or you might be an incumbent on the Boone Town Council.

Monday, October 05, 2015

As Long as there's an Alabama, North Carolina Won't Be the Worst

Alabama's photo voter I.D. law requires a DMV-issued photo I.D. Some 250,000 Alabamians do not have that I.D., predominantly African-Americans. Alabama just closed 31 DMV offices, most of them in counties with a preponderance of African-Americans.

That blatant catch-22 has prompted a letter to the U.S. Justice Department:

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Who Wore It Best?

"Stuff Happens"

"Look, stuff happens," said Jeb Bush in the aftermath of the Umpqua Community College mass killing in Oregon.

Aftermath of Umpqua Community College mass killing

Yep. Stuff happens. Republican presidential field in the aftermath of 30 years of conservative extremism and Tea Party fantasizing.

Friday, October 02, 2015

When Being a Baptist Preacher Ain't Enough!

Dazzled as you no doubt are by the congressional biscuit-stealing of Virginia Foxx, you may be forgiven for paying insufficient attention to the performance of Congressman Mark Walker in the NC Sixth Congressional District.

Mark Walker
Walker defeated The Anointed "company" candidate, Phil Berger Junior, in the Republican primary of 2014, an upset about which Phil Berger Junior has not stopped sobbing since May of 2014. Phil Berger Junior is The Anointed Son of Phil Berger Senior, the Czar of all the Carolinas and the man who can make Governor Squishy jump and who used to regularly mug Thom Tillis too before Tillis became big for his britches and took a seat in the U.S. Senate (he was lame, anyway, as Speaker of the NC House and let Berger in the NC Senate make all the decisions that counted).

Anyhoo, Mark Walker is a Baptist preacher, so the hand of God, obviously, can be blamed credited for his apotheosis. Anyone who gets to sit near Virginia Foxx has made it to the gravy!

The hand of God, as it turns out, evidently had a sprained wrist on the day Walker won, because Baptist preacher or no, Walker has been weighed in the scales and found wanting as a conservative in the U.S. House, mainly because he went along with the crowd and voted for that flaming liberal John Boehner as Speaker, a sin for which Walker must now be forced to burn in the hell of another Republican primary.

A Republican conservative who's more conservative than "conservative" named Kenn Kopf, who evidently drinks acid for breakfast and doesn't even belch, has announced that he is here to kick Preacher Walker out of his job, because Walker was sent to Congress to "change the leadership" and "stop the president’s attack on our people and the Constitution," and has he even done any of that? In a word … no!

What a miserable failure! Kopf said those words about Walker, mind you, only after Boehner dissolved in a resignation puddle and ran down the marble steps of the Capitol, never to be seen again, but Preacher Walker is still going to have to pay for his Original Sin. It's the natural law of conservatives: no one is ever forgiven, unless you're a Duggar.

Not one Original Sin (Boehner!) but two, and the worst one, probably, was allowing the Kenyan Muslim President to confiscate every gun and put conservatives into reeducation camps and force Christians to gay-marry all over the place.

The Dark Money of Dallas Woodhouse

Dallas Woodhouse was selected by the NCGOP last weekend as its new executive director. He's also the founder and director of a 501(c)4 outfit which he calls Carolina Rising. Investigative researcher Greg Flynn did a little digging into that "dark money" closet, and we quote Greg at length:
A recent sliver of sunlight reveals slightly more about the dark money group Carolina Rising than previously known. The 501(c)4 organization led by Dallas Woodhouse filed its first tax return, for the 2014 tax year, on August 12th. The return shows income of $4,880,000 and expenses of $4,799,344 for the period beginning March 25, 2014 and ending December 31, 2014. The bulk of expense payments was $4,654,645 to Crossroads Media, LLC, in Alexandria VA, for TV and cable ads. The revenue came in donations from two unnamed contributors, one in the amount of $4,820,000 and another in the amount of $60,000.
The document lists 3 Raleigh based officers: Dallas Woodhouse as President and Treasurer, his father-in-law Duane Ischer as Director (listed elsewhere as Secretary), and environmental engineer Todd Brozell, another Director. No salary was paid directly to Woodhouse but $72,000 was paid to his wholly owned company Solutions NC, Inc., for management services.

Woodhouse has consistently declined to name Carolina Rising’s donors. The existence of just two donors in the IRS filing is in contrast to statements Woodhouse made to the Center for Public Integrity in November 2014 when it profiled the group’s election year spending.
“Woodhouse did say Carolina Rising is funded by multiple donors. 'we have a large, diverse donor body that we have brought into this mission of helping the Republicans tell their story in North Carolina.' “
If the statement is true, it suggests that funding passes through one or more other entities before arriving at Carolina Rising, on its way to Crossroads Media, LLC.
Siphoning off a bit for "management services." NCGOP better get ready for that same siphon hose.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Every North Carolina Village May Now Reclaim Its Idiot

Hattip: the late, great Molly Ivins.

There's existing folklore that the spit of a person experiencing rage -- let's classify it as spitting rage -- can kill a cat. If that's the case, there are many dead or at least severely disabled cats all across North Carolina, anywhere citizens have been paying close attention to the behavior of our General Assembly in Raleigh.

The Honorables finally adjourned about 4:30 a.m. this morning, the longest, most rageful legislative session since 2002. Some gawd-awful bullshit failed to pass, perhaps only because the bosses were finally just too drunk on their own power to any longer give a good gawd-damn about any further stomping on cities and public schools, reversing their previous Golden Rule of "kick 'em while they're down."

Idiot of the Week: Rep. Larry Pittman of deepest Cabarrus County, who claimed that Planned Parenthood might be giving out defective condoms so it could subsequently increase the number of profit-making abortions.

Congratulations, North Carolina! The slow strangling of your public schools continues on schedule, and your teachers are now considered employees of the worst system in the 50 states. (On the "too-exhausted-to-kick-them-any-more" side of the ledger, the NC House bottled the Senate spider that would have siphoned more money off public schools for charters but promised to unbottle it again next spring.)

Congratulations, North Carolina! Your bigoted elected officials are officially protected from The Gay by the passage of "The I'm Too Holy To Issue Marriage Licenses to Same Sex Couples Act of 2015."

Congratulations, North Carolina! Your Medicaid system is now in the hands of for-profit private companies.

Congratulations, North Carolina! Once again, you raised taxes on middle- and working-class families through increased sales taxes on services used by the non-rich. Meanwhile, the rich need more maids.

Congratulations, North Carolina! You allowed Republican leaders in the General Assembly to set up their own quasi-political parties, i.e., slush funds, that can take unlimited contributions from corporations.

Hope you're proud, North Carolina. If not, please spit away from the cats.

One Piece of Crap That Didn't Pass: Provisions suddenly inserted into a wholly unrelated Senate Bill 279 would have prevented city governments from enforcing fair housing requirements, employment protections for LGBT individuals, or ordinances increasing the local minimum wage. Rep. Skip Stam, the Black Frost from Apex who hates LGBT accommodation as much as he hates abortion, tried to run the provisions in the House but finally had to give up in the face of opposition.