Friday, March 22, 2019

Sen. Deanna Ballard, Why Won't You Vote To Expand Medicaid Coverage in North Carolina?


At a healthcare townhall meeting last evening at the Watauga Medical Center attended by both Rep. Ray Russell and Sen. Deanna Ballard, according to someone who was there, Senator Ballard was all "big smiles and a blizzard of excuses on why the #ncgop refuses to expand Medicaid. An Ashe Co. couple then explained how they struggle without healthcare."

Why are her pleasant smiles, her "thoughts and prayers," not at all helpful?
500,000 people in North Carolina make too little to afford health insurance and too much to qualify for Medicaid. This is known as the Medicaid Gap. The Affordable Care Act provides subsidies to people of modest means, but it gave money to states to expand Medicaid programs to cover the very poor. North Carolina did not accept this money.
Single people making less than $12,000 a year and families of three making between $8,000 and $20,000 do not qualify for health care premium subsidies, but also do not qualify for Medicaid. For these people, healthcare is unattainable.
37 states have expanded Medicaid. In these states, the very poor have access to health insurance and medical care. These states are led by both Republicans and Democrats.
Expanding Medicaid would add 43,000 jobs to North Carolina’s economy. It would bring $4 billion in federal funding to North Carolina annually.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The UNC Board of Governors Meeting in Boone Just Got More Interesting


UNC BOG member Steve Long
Reference: BOG member Steve Long, who had the courage to call for BOG Chair Harry Smith's replacement, based on Smith's bullying yet another university chancellor into premature retirement -- ECU's Chancellor Cecil Staton.

Fellow BOG member Tom Fetzer, former chair of the NCGOP and one of Chair Smith's strongest lieutenants, has reportedly been lining up votes to formally censure Steve Long for his criticism of Chair Smith, such censure resolution to be sprung during Day Two of the BOG's meeting on the campus of AppState -- in other words, tomorrow.

Since that plan to censure Steve Long has been outed publicly, will it happen anyway, in the full glare of press coverage?

ADDENDUM
Said Thomas Harnisch, Director of State Relations and Policy Analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, “The stories coming out of North Carolina have garnered national attention. People are seeing heavy turnover in key leadership spots. That can lead to top talent not applying for those positions. Higher education is a community. People certainly talk to each other. All these transitions are piling up and taking a toll on the state’s reputation. North Carolina has gained a reputation where its Board of Governors is very political. There’s a lot of instability emanating from that board. All of the stories about in-fighting on the board, firings and resignations over the last several years, top talent sees that and may decide they don’t want to be a part of it.” (Thanks to Joe Killian, NC Policy Watch, for getting the interview with Harnisch)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Better Keep Your Children Indoors! The BOG Is Coming to Boone


UNC BOG Chair Harry Smith
The feudin', fussin', and fightin' Board of Governors (BOG) of the University of North Carolina System will hold its next meeting this Thursday and Friday on the campus of Appalachian State University (Plemmons Student Union). The BOG bears a certain justifiable resemblance to an institutional wrecking crew, chaired as it is by Uncle Fester lookalike Harry Smith.

Smith leads a band of hard-edged conservatives -- all appointed by the Republican overlords in the General Assembly -- and he's a bloodhound for sniffing out people who won't be missed. He just succeeded in getting rid of the chancellor of Eastern Carolina University, Dr. Cecil Staton, following closely his successful defenestration of UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and UNC System President Margaret Spellings.

Forcing out Dr. Staton at ECU in the last week opened a public fissure on the BOG. Member Steve Long has issued a public letter denouncing his chairman as a petty meddler who relentlessly grinds his axes to the detriment of higher education in North Carolina. According to Long, Smith's vendetta against Chancellor Staton consisted of a "long-running campaign of false accusations and irrational attacks" based on Smith's failure to reap a profit from the students at ECU: "Harry Smith has been seeking the Chancellor’s removal ever since Chancellor Staton and his trustees rejected in 2016 Mr. Smith’s proposal to buy an apartment complex near ECU if the University would change its housing policy." The sordid topic of coin in the age of the Trumpists.

Making a profit seems very much uppermost in the philosophy of Harry Smith, as is keeping the symbols of white supremacy manifest in an old bronze statue. Wonder how he feels about Chancellor Sheri Everts' successful application for certifying AppState student IDs for the purposes of voting. Is that a strike against her? Smith doesn't seem like the sort of political operative who would be interested in encouraging student activism at the ballot box. In fact, we wonder if any discussion will focus on the fact that 12 of the institutions in the UNC System just had their students significantly disabled from their access to the polls.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx Announces She'll Run Again


Her announcement statement left room for interpretation:

What She Said
"To anyone paying attention, it’s become very clear in the first few months of liberal control of the House that the Democrat party has lurched far, far to the left."

What She Meant
Halloween is my favorite day of the year. I dress up as a witch and try to scare the little children. It usually works.

…..

What She Said
"Our nation is founded on the concepts of individual liberty and personal responsibility. That’s why I am committed to working to halt the left’s headlong slide into what increasingly looks like socialism. We cannot afford the out of touch policies peddled by the far-left that will squelch the entrepreneurial, problem-solving, and hard-working ethos that has made the United States the greatest nation in the world."

What She Meant
I know lots of words. I know the best words. Some good word combos require hyphens. I can also blow out all the candles on my birthday cake with one breath.

…..

What She Said  
"North Carolina voters are looking for solutions from their government that actually work. They want economic growth, good jobs and strong national security—not partisan investigations or the kind of socialist rhetoric and class warfare being floated by the newly ascendant 'Democratic Socialist' wing of the Democrat party."

What She Meant
Have you seen all the photos of me with Our Wonderful President? I have enlargements suitable for framing. Do you want one? Don't call me. Call my office.

…..

What She Said
"My goal for the 2020 election is to build on my strong track record of conservative problem-solving on behalf of my constituents.  I love our nation and our tradition of limited government too much to let a handful of big-spending leftists in Congress trample our centuries of success in self-government."

What She Meant
Sometimes I just have to stick my fingers in my years and say "Na na na na na na" until they stop talking. It usually works.

…..

What She Said
“I’m looking forward to a vigorous debate over the best path forward for America.  And I’m casting my lot—as I always have—with the time-tested principles of liberty and limited government that will work for all the people of the Fifth District.”

What She Meant
You wanna see me in person? You make an appointment with my office. I don't do town hall meetings, though I like a good buffet.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Look Who Else Filed Yesterday in the Republican Primary for NC-9 Special Election


Chris Anglin, "Republican constitutional conservative," filed yesterday afternoon in the NC-9 Republican primary for the seat won lost by preacherman Mark Harris (who is now under investigation for possible election law violations). You should remember Anglin's claim to celebrity. Last year he had to fight in the courts for the right to run for a seat on the NC Supreme Court. Democrat Anita Earls eventually won that seat, possibly because Anglin divided (weakened) the Republican vote.

Yesterday, the NCGOP immediately went ballistic over Anglin. "Chris Anglin ain't a Republican," fumed Executive Director and wielder of big cigars, Dallas Woodhouse. Chris Anglin was a Democrat who changed parties to run as a Republican in that Supreme Court race last year. True. He had every right to do so. The Republicans had passed new law to cancel judicial primaries, which facilitated two competing Republicans on the ballot. Too bad for them. Too clever for Anglin!

Dallas Woodhouse probably didn't like Anglin's statement yesterday about how he interprets his "constitutional" values: He said Republican President Donald Trump “constantly lies to the people, shows fealty to dictators, insults our allies, fills the swamp with corruption, explodes the deficit and relentlessly assaults the rule of law.”

Chris Anglin doesn't live in the 9th Congressional District. Federal law requires only residence within the state, not in the specific CD. These other Republican candidates also live outside the 9th:

Leigh Thomas Brown, real estate broker
Albert Lee Wiley Jr., a perennial candidate
Stevie Rivenbark Hull, Fayetteville
Kathie C. Day, Cornelius

A total of ten Republicans will battle it out in the primary on May 14. A run-off in September seems inevitable, with the general election consequently pushed into November.

Good News for AppState Students, But New Photo ID Law Is Only a Lawsuit Away From Sudden Death


Some 850 North Carolina universities, colleges (both public and private), local governments, including charter schools and tribal entities, were eligible to request approval. The deadline for applications was last Wednesday, March 13. Yesterday at 5 p.m., the State Board of Elections (SBOE) issued their list of approved photo IDs (see below), the ones that satisfy the law passed by the General Assembly. Mirabile dictu, AppState made the list of approved IDs.

According to Kim Strach, exec director of the SBOE, of those 850 entities entitled to request approval of the photo IDs they issue, only 81 submitted requests. Of the 81, some 72 received approval. None of the entities who were disapproved and none who never applied at all -- following the law the Republicans wrote -- may reapply for acceptance until 2021. In other words, a law hurriedly written by the Republicans in the NC General Assembly has managed to disenfranchise or otherwise disadvantage hundreds, if not many thousands, of students/staff/employees/enrolled members for the 2020 elections. This includes most of our state's colleges and universities, unless those students also have state drivers licenses or other approved forms of ID. Many will. Many won't.

In other words, photo IDs required for voting in North Carolina has ballooned into a scandal. Of major proportions. Imminently justiciable, based on manifest malfeasance of law-writing, either incompetence or ill will by the Board of Governors of the UNC System, and benign neglect by administrators/employers who shirked their responsibility and failed to apply.

Refer to the approval list below. Twelve of the 17 UNC System institutions didn't make the approved list, meaning many thousands of students (30,000 at UNC-Chapel Hill alone) have been disadvantaged for voting. Besides AppState, which is approved for both student and employee IDs, the only other UNC members approved for their students are NC State, NC Central, and UNC Asheville. A handful of community colleges are approved. A tiny handful of private colleges, though Duke is on the approved list.

Congratulations are in order for the Berger/Moore machine in the General Assembly. They have successfully suppressed the youth vote for the 2020 elections. Or not. For all hope now shifts to the courts, where this rank bullshit cannot stand the constitutional test.


















































































































Friday, March 15, 2019

Major Republican Contenders in the NC-9 Special Election


We've been watching the slow progress this week of candidates filing to run in the NC-9 special congressional election. Filing officially ends this afternoon, so other big names may appear, but at the moment Dan McCready, who ran a close race against Mark Harris last fall, is the only Democrat who's filed. There's one Libertarian, Jeff Scott of Charlotte, and one Green Party candidate, Allen Smith of Charlotte, and six Republican candidates.

The Republicans run the gamut from the unserious (Stony Rushing) to the deadly serious, state Sen. Dan Bishop, who wanted so badly to frisk suspicious individuals before they visited a public toilet, and former state Sen. Fern Shubert, who served in the General Assembly with Virginia Foxx and is just as mean as Foxx, with maybe not as much makeup.

Fern Shubert -- A certified public accountant from Marshville with a long elective history, though she's been out of the public eye for some time. According to Ballotpedia, she was first elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1994, was reelected for three more terms, then ran for and was elected to the state Senate in 2002. In 2004, she unsuccessfully ran for governor in the Republican primary (one of six candidates, the only woman, and she placed 5th). She attempted to return to the state Senate in 2010 and lost to Sen. Tommy Tucker (who had a big interest in running in this special election but who announced he wouldn't a couple of days ago). In 2012, she ran for State Auditor and got only 18% of the vote in the Republican primary. Though most recently a three-time loser, Shubert has no lack of confidence in herself: “I have a huge head start on name recognition and I’m a known quality,” she said. “You can spend $1 million telling people what you’re going to do. But people can see what I’ve done.” Well maybe. But she would seem to be the major competition for...

Dan Bishop -- Currently a state Senator representing District 39 in Mecklenburg County, the last surviving Republican member in the General Assembly from that county after last November's blue wave. He's powerful in the state Senate, chairing the Redistricting and Elections Committee (meaning he's an accomplished gerrymanderer) and chairing both the Health Committee and the Committee on Appropriations for Health (meaning he's been at the forefront of stopping the expansion of Medicaid in the state). Most famously, Bishop was the co-sponsor in 2016 of HB2, the notorious "bathroom bill" that cost North Carolina and most especially Charlotte millions in investment and tourism money. He's rumored to be planning to spend $250,000 of his own money in this race. He'll need a lot more than that to first get by Fern Shubert (and the other, lesser known Republicans in that primary) and then face the very well funded Dan McCready.

Election schedule: Republican primary, May 14. General election: September 10, unless a primary run-off election is required, in which case the run-off will occur on Sept. 10, with the general election pushed to November 5. Odds are that a primary run-off will be required. A candidate must get to 30% of the vote to avoid a run-off.

Kudos to Ray Russell for Standing Up for Openness and Fairness -- Concepts Foreign to the Republicans in the General Assembly


Freshman Rep. Ray Russell (District 93) in the NC House yesterday introduced the "North Carolina Sunshine Act" in an effort to reform practices in the General Assembly that would make it more transparent, fairer, and more responsive to public scrutiny. Like this: "The long title of each bill shall adequately and fairly reflect its subject matter." Novel idea that, for a body that sneaks in abortion restrictions under a title dealing with motorcycle safety. Or this: "Every special provision [pork] contained in the Current Operations Appropriations Act shall indicate the name of the member or members who requested the provision." The Pork King Tim Moore especially wouldn't like that requirement.

These would all be reforms that the Berger/Moore overlords are not about to enact. So what did Tim Moore, Republican leader of the House, do with the bill? He referred it to 12 different committees, a gesture of outright mockery:
"Referred to: Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House, if favorable, State and Local Government, if favorable, Appropriations, if favorable, Finance, if favorable, Judiciary, if favorable, Appropriations, Information Technology, if favorable, Appropriations, Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources, if favorable, Appropriations, Education, if favorable, Appropriations, General Government, if favorable, Appropriations, Health and Human Services, if favorable, Appropriations, Justice and Public Safety, if favorable, Appropriations, Transportation, if favorable, Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House"
WRAL's reporter on the scene, Travis Fain, said the referral to all those hostile committees amounted to "an unheard of series of hurdles that, to put it mildly, does not bode well for passage." Said @RaleighReporter Colin Campbell, "Never seen a bill get sent to a dozen committees -- shows how much #ncga House leaders like a proposal for more transparency."

Which prompts the obvious question: What do Tim Moore and his confederate in the Senate Phil Berger not want you to see, hear, or understand?

That brand of arrogance has already passed its "sell by" date, judging from last fall's blue wave (which incidentally put Ray Russell into office). Just doubling down on your arrogance doesn't seem like a winner for 2020 either.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Thom Tillis, Turn Tail


On February 25th, Sen. Thom Tillis published an op-ed in the WashPost (doubtless, someone else wrote it) in which he announced that he would be voting against Twitterman's use of emergency powers:
It is my responsibility to be a steward of the Article I branch [houses of Congress], to preserve the separation of powers and to curb the kind of executive overreach that Congress has allowed to fester for the better part of the past century. I stood by that principle during the Obama administration, and I stand by it now. 
Conservatives rightfully cried foul when President Barack Obama used executive action to completely bypass Congress and unilaterally provide deferred action to undocumented adults who had knowingly violated the nation’s immigration laws. Some prominent Republicans went so far as to proclaim that Obama was acting more like an “emperor” or “king” than a president. 
There is no intellectual honesty in now turning around and arguing that there’s an imaginary asterisk attached to executive overreach — that it’s acceptable for my party but not thy party.
That principled position became inoperative today. Tillis voted against the resolution to overturn DJT's use of emergency powers. The resolution passed anyway, with a dozen other Republican senators standing up when Tillis ran away.

Conservatives in North Carolina were vowing a primary for Tillis next year, and no doubt the White House threatened him too, perhaps by Trump's promising to appear at an anti-Tillis campaign rally next year.

Tillis's flipflop may have been facilitated by the fact that no big-name Democrat (so far) has announced a run for his seat. He has more to fear from his right flank.

NC Colleges/Universities Submit Applications To Have Their Student IDs Count for Voting


List of colleges and schools (etc.) as of 3 p.m. yesterday (deadline for submittal was 5 p.m. yesterday, so this list is not complete) that applied to have their student photo IDs certified for voting purposes. Unknown whether these schools/universities submitted the State Board of Election's "attestation" form (which has been much discussed and debated here and elsewhere) or explanatory letters about their practice of gathering vital statistics (citizenship status, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth).

Where there are two listings from the same institution, one is for students and the other for staff.

The SBOE will announce tomorrow which of these institutions meet the legal guidelines for their student IDs to qualify for voting purposes.

Institution Name
Institution Type
  1. Anderson Creek Academy
Charter School
  1. Appalachian State University
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. Appalachian State University
State Government
  1. Beaufort County Community College
Community College
  1. Beaufort County Community College
State Government
  1. Bennett College
Private University/College
  1. Brevard Academy 
Charter School
  1. Brevard College
Private University/College
  1. Burke County
Local Government 
  1. Central Piedmont Community College
Community College
  1. Central Piedmont Community College
State Government
  1. City of Elizabeth City
Local Government 
  1. City of Greensboro
Local Government 
  1. Davidson College
Private University/College
  1. Department of Health and Human Services
State Government
  1. East Carolina University
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. East Carolina University
State Government
  1. Edgecombe Community College
Community College
  1. Edgecombe Community College
State Government
  1. Elizabeth City State University
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. Elizabeth City State University
State Government
  1. Elon University
Private University/College
  1. Envision Science Academy
Charter School
  1. Falls Lake Academy
Charter School
  1. Fayetteville State University
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. Fayetteville State University
State Government
  1. Guildford Preparatory Academy
Charter School
  1. Halifax Community College
Community College
  1. Halifax Community College
State Government
  1. Halifax County
Local Government 
  1. Healthy Start Academy
Charter School
  1. Isothermal Community College
Community College
  1. Isothermal Community College
State Government
  1. Johnson C. Smith University
Private University/College
  1. Kestrel Heights Charter School
Charter School
  1. Kipp Durham
Charter School
  1. Lake Norman Charter
Charter School
  1. Livingstone College
Private University/College
  1. Meredith College 
Private University/College
  1. NC Agricultural & Technical State University
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. NC Agricultural & Technical State University
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. NC Connections Academy
Charter School
  1. NC Department of Administration
State Government
  1. NC Department of Public Safety
State Government
  1. NC Department of Transportation
State Government
  1. NC General Assembly
State Government
  1. NC Housing Finance Agency
State Government
  1. NC Lottery Education Lottery
State Government
  1. NC School of Science and Math
??? Private HS/College Prep??
  1. NC School of Science and Math
??? Private HS/College Prep??
  1. NC State University
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. NC State University
State Government
  1. North Carolina Central University
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. North Carolina Central University
State Government
  1. North East Carolina Preparatory
Charter School
  1. Onslow County Government
Local Government 
  1. Orange County 
Local Government 
  1. Peak Charter Academy
Charter School
  1. Pender County
Local Government 
  1. Pfeiffer University 
Private University/College
  1. Piedmont Community College
State Government
  1. Piedmont Community College
Community College
  1. Roanoke-Chowan Community College
Community College
  1. Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
Community College
  1. Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
State Government
  1. Shaw University
Private University/College
  1. St. Augustine University
Private University/College
  1. The Expedition School
Charter School
  1. Town of Fuquay-Varina
Local Government 
  1. Town of Jamestown
Local Government 
  1. UNC Ashville
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. UNC Ashville
State Government
  1. UNC Chapel Hill
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. UNC Chapel Hill
State Government
  1. UNC Charlotte
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. UNC Charlotte
State Government
  1. UNC Greensboro
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. UNC Greensboro
State Government
  1. UNC Health Care System
State Government
  1. UNC School of Arts
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. UNC School of Arts
State Government
  1. University of NC at Wilmington
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. University of NC at Wilmington
State Government
  1. Vance Charter School
Charter School
  1. Warren Wilson College
Private University/College
  1. Washington Montessori Public Charter School
Charter School
  1. Wayne Community College
Community College
  1. Western Carolina University
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. Western Carolina University
State Government
  1. Western Piedmont Council of Governments
Local Government 
  1. Winston-Salem State University
Constituent Institution of the University of NC
  1. Winston-Salem State University
State Government

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

US DOJ Convenes Federal Grand Jury To Look Into NC-9 Ballot Fraud


If this is Robert Higdon's investigation, there's no explicit word about that in early news reports. The grand jury has been empaneled by the US Department of Justice in DC, but they're subpoenaing all the major players including McCrae Dowless, the Mark Harris campaign, and the NC State Board of Investigations.

UPDATE
Robert J. Higdon Jr.
Subpoenas are coming from the Public Integrity Section of the US Department of Justice. The federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert Higdon, remains silent and inactive on the matter of Republican ballot stealing. The Washington Post includes these paragraphs:
State election officials first referred evidence of ballot fraud in the 9th District to the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of North Carolina in January 2017, nearly two years before allegations roiled Harris’s race against Democrat Dan McCready last fall. Frustrated state investigators said that they saw little evidence that prosecutors were pursuing the case.
A spokesman for the office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why the subpoenas were sought by the Justice Department in Washington and not the U.S. attorney in Raleigh, Robert J. Higdon Jr.
Complicating matters is the fact that one of Harris’s sons, John, is an assistant U.S. attorney in Higdon’s office.
John Harris did the right thing in testifying honestly about his warnings to his father about McCrae Dowless. John Harris's boss Robert Higdon doesn't appear interested in justice or the rule of law in this case.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Why So Pale and Wan?


We've been highlighting here the growing wave of Democratic energy since Twitterman took control of all the TV remotes in the White House many moons ago, but Republican energy is a little harder to judge. We look for signs of enthusiasm, or signs of fatigue. We look for burning passion or dying embers. What are Democrats up against in 2020? What, in fact, are Democratic prospects right now in 2019 in two special congressional races in North Carolina?

(The most experienced Democratic political operative I know in North Carolina thinks dimly of Dem prospects in those two special elections. Fortunately, his is not the last word. Not until votes are cast and counted.)

Plenty of burning desire on the Republican side so far. There are 17 confirmed Republican candidates in the NC-3 special election on the coast --17 Republicans in a primary where somebody's got to get to 30% to win and avoid a run-off. They're enthused -- 17 of them at least -- because the district is overwhelmingly Republican, and that's a House seat they consider theirs, by right and by birth and by Divine guidance, so why wouldn't they line up three deep to try to grab it?

There'll be a bunch of Republicans running in the 9th too. We already know about Stony Rushing. But there's at least three more, including Matthew Ridenhour, with additional people still considering it. Candidate filing in the 9th opens tomorrow and closes Friday. You gotta jump and run, Brethren.

Then we read this today on conservative Brant Clifton's page:
I’m hearing that the GOP grassroots is not exhibiting a lot of excitement this year. Many counties that met today [GOP county conventions, Sat., March 9] reported poorer-than-average attendance than previous years. Over in the 9th district, Union County — arguably with one of the largest cohorts of Republican voters in the state (2nd largest in the 9th) — had attendance numbers that will easily be beat by counties around the state with much smaller GOP registration. People are worn out, I am hearing.
Yeah, but why?

I looked in vain at coverage of the Watauga GOP Convention in the Watauga Democrat, and there was no picture or mention of attendance, let alone enthusiasm. Their biggest news: Watauga GOP Reelects the Same Chair From Last Year. Party chairs often have to fall on their swords after an electoral drubbing, but not in Watauga.

I'd love to believe any Republican listlessness is at least part Trump-trauma, Twitter exhaustion, good old revulsion from repeated exposure to hideous behavior.