Thursday, September 29, 2022

Sheriff Drama in Columbus County

 

I'm loving me Jane Porter's daily "Indy Week" email blast, and this morning she delivers a doozy about the sheriff mess down in Columbus County. (You can sign up for the newsletter and support independent journalism at https://pico.link/indyweek/offer?id=CheckoutWizard_indyweek.)


The Drama. The Players

Lewis Hatcher, incumbent sheriff
of Columbus Co. in 2018,
beaten by the guy below by
34 votes


Lewis Hatcher was the incumbent. He was appointed to the vacant job early in 2014 and then went on to win election in his own right in Nov. 2014, with 77.93% of the vote. He's a Democrat. However popular he seemed in 2014 (or hopeful as a new face in the sheriff's office), he had apparently lost the luster by 2018, when he was beaten by just 34 votes by Republican Lewis Hatcher. Or maybe there was fraud in the election.

Hatcher contested the results, and the local board of elections rejected the complaint. Hatcher appealed to the state board (SBOE), which launched an investigation -- actually, not a brand new investigation but an extension of the probe already doing on in Robeson and Bladen counties into the notorious career of one McCrae Dowless (this the investigation that ultimately led to the redo of the 9th CD election and the disgrace of Rev. Mark Harris).

More than 300 votes in the Hatcher race were cast using mail-in absentee ballots, the source of corruption that McCrae Dowless specialized in. But Hatcher won 243 of those absentee votes to his Republican challenger's 93, according to results posted on the state elections board’s website. So...?

When the Republican apparent winner got himself sworn in before the results were certified, Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the SBOE, said, “My understanding is that the county has not issued a certificate in that race, and thus he should not have been sworn in. Sheriff Hatcher should still be serving as sheriff.”

Because the Republican had begun to usurp the office, Lewis Hatcher sued in Superior Court to force Columbus County officials to acknowledge that he is the county’s rightful sheriff, not the man serving in that position, Jody Greene.


Jody Greene, who served as
Columbus sheriff for 3 years
without ever being certified as
the winner of the 2018 election


Jody Greene
, Republican and former highway patrolman, had listed as his place of residence an address that later turned out to be a vacant lot with no structure on it. He later said he was living in a travel trailer at that spot. His campaign also hired the election operations firm of Red Dome, for whom McCrae Dowless had done such energetic work in Robeson County.

Taking charge of the sheriff's office, Greene began smashing the furniture: "When Sheriff Hatcher was in charge, there were two African-Americans on his command staff: Lt. Jeremy Barber and Captain Clementine Thompson. Green demoted Thompson within days of taking office, and cut her pay by $10,000. She was later fired. Barber, formerly the department’s lead detective, was demoted to the civil division. Greene’s command staff, made up of his highest ranking officers, no longer has any minorities." (Indy Week newsletter

A captain on the Columbus force, who got regular ranting phone calls from Jody Greene, judiciously decided to start recording them:

"This one particular phone call that [I] received, he made the comment that he hated Democrats. And then he said, ‘I take that back. I hate a black f***ing Democrat.’ And, and I knew right then, I was like, ‘Wow, this is coming from the sheriff.’ And, I had to start recording those conversations," [the captain] said of the moments before he hit record on the phone call. [That captain becomes a major player in this drama below]

Defeated (?) sheriff Lewis Hatcher and usurper Jody Greene were forced into mediation (which went on for nine hours), after which Hatcher withdrew his law suit and Greene conceded that he would no longer act as sheriff. Greene proposed Deputy Aaron Herring to act in his place as interim.


Deputy Aaron Herring


Aaron Herring already had a bad reputation as a mean racist:

Herring was arrested in 2015, charged with punching a handcuffed black man in the face while serving as a Whiteville Police officer. He was later found not guilty, but that did little to quell concerns in some parts of the community about his treatment of African-Americans. (Indy Week)

Herring had been made Jody Greene's chief deputy, and in that role, he claimed, he was legally mandated to take over sheriff duties. But Herring and Hatcher had signed an agreement that put Captain Jason Soles in charge of day-to-day operations.


Captain Jason Soles, 2022 candidate
for sheriff against former incumbent
Jody Greene


Captain Jason Soles (the captain mentioned above who tape-recorded Jody Greene's phone rants), began to act as interim sheriff and is now in the 2022 election against you-know-who:

Soles, who is now running for Columbus County Sheriff against Jody Greene, said he was concerned that the most powerful law enforcement officer in Columbus County was racist, and would not treat black employees or the residents he policed fairly.

"It broke my heart. Because that’s not what I believe in. It upset me to the fact that I did have to start recording his phone calls. And I’m not wanting to go around recording people’s conversations. But... this was not the leader that we needed leading the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office making these racial slurs," Soles explained.

So Soles recorded calls that captured racist tirades from Greene under the pretense of Greene calling Soles trying to track down a leaker in the sheriff's office and the ranting got worse. Meanwhile, Soles "brought the recording and other concerns about the sheriff to the attention of County Commissioners during a recess at a county commission meeting." Only one county commissioner ... seemed to care [the other commissioners were in Greene's camp].

Just today, this news broke:

North Carolina sheriff Jody Greene was taped on a phone call complaining about a “snitch” in his office who happened to be African-American, WECT reports.

Said Greene: “I’m sick of it. I’m sick of these black bastards. I’m going to clean house and be done with it. And we’ll start from there.”

He added: “Tomorrow’s gonna be a new fucking day. I’m still the motherfucking sheriff, and I’ll go up and fire every goddamn [inaudible]. Fuck them black bastards. They think I’m scared? They’re stupid. I don’t know what else to do it. So it’s just time to clean them out. There’s a snitch in there somewhere tellin’ what we are doing. And I’m not gonna have it. I’m not going to have it.”

 

The Era of Trump.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Ted Budd -- "No Admission of Wrongdoing" Doesn't Mean There Wasn't Wrongdoing


The factual basis behind this new attack ad appears to be solid (see below):

 




Court documents reviewed by The Washington Post show that a trustee for farmers and other creditors alleged that his father, Richard Budd, improperly transferred millions of dollars in assets to his family, including Ted Budd. That occurred before Richard Budd and a family company faced a $15 million judgment in the case.

Moreover, the trustee alleged, Ted Budd “acted in concert” with his father “in connection with the fraudulent transfers.” As a result, Ted Budd was named as a defendant in a civil case filed by the trustee.

In the end, a settlement negated the need for a trial and specified that there was no admission of wrongdoing. The “Budd entities” agreed to pay less than half of the amount initially earmarked for the farmers and other creditors — some of whom remain angry they only received a portion of their lost earnings.

The ad was produced by an independent expenditure group, the Senate Majority PAC, whose origins go back to 2010 and Senate Majority Leader (at the time) Harry Reid of Nevada.

Is the ad effective? Well, it made me go looking for the story behind it, so that's something. 


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Get Ready for Hurricane Ian

 


Hurricane Ian is forecast to move up the spine of the Appalachians after it comes ashore at the southern tip of Florida. Prognosticators are already warning about the risk of landslides from the heavy rain, and that means us in Watauga County and all the rest of western North Carolina.

Just a reminder that Watauga County has one of the highest concentrations of landslide risks in the western mountains. The map below details them, published by the NC Department of Environmental Quality, UNC Asheville, and the state Geological Survey.















Monday, September 26, 2022

NC GOP Caucus Turns Nasty, Preys on Ignorance

 

Ricky Hurtado is the only Hispanic member of the NCHouse, representing HD63. Against considerable odds in 2020, Hurtado flipped this seat from red to blue, the only House seat to flip to Democrats in 2020. The Republican incumbent he beat, Steve Ross, was a country-club establishment, former Wells Fargo executive who has nevertheless gone full Trumpist in his attempt to retake his seat from Hurtado this year.

A photoshopped photo of Hurtado was mailed to voters in HD63 with his T-shirt altered to "Defund the Police," a nasty smear of a good man. I was first alerted to this by Sen. Jeff Jackson.
















Not sure whose name is on the "Paid for by" disclaimer (assuming there is one), but Carolina Forward says it's the NC House Republican caucus cooking up this lying shit with dough from a dark-money PAC, @joinclc.

 They did one on Rep. Terence Everitt in HD35 (and no telling who else).













It's their identity as a political party. It's in their DNA.


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Responding to Wolf's Head

 

A smart libertarian who signs himself Wolf's Head trolls my posts on WatWatch, and though I don't generally respond to his provocations (why's such a conservative dude like you attached like a pilot fish to this bleeding-heart liberal blog?), I do pay attention to him. Wolf's Head is educated, writes like he respects the language, and he's a flatout intellectual. He has a vision of the world and can articulate it. I think he deserves a conversation. (As to his/her/their gender, I say he for convenience. I don't know Wolf's gender and don't care. I use the gendered pronoun for convenience. Sue me.)


Recently down column I wrote that accepting election-denying Trumpists like Ted Budd would be the end of our democracy. Wolf's Head jumped on that: "We don't have a democracy; we have a Republic." Well, yeah, I get that, but I know where you're headed, to that strawhorse target, "pure democracies mean mob control," and who knows but the mob will want to eat you?

 

Wolf's Head rests his case against democracy by mentioning when Black people took over and oppressed white people: "Representative democracy? Like the Democratic Republic of the Congo? No thank you" -- bringing up a notorious case when suddenly freed Black people began lording it over whites and killing them. I'll leave the Google research to you about the reality and the hype of "the Congo Crisis," 1960-62, and just acknowledge that Wolf has made his white superiority breath-takingly obvious in other blog threads.

 

But he doesn't even respect representative democracy. Man, that's extreme.

 

He then explained himself in a long post:

 

Democracy means Might Makes Right.

Majority gets their way, Irregardless of what it does to the minority. As with most liberals I meet, you think such a system would only be done altruistically. Conservatives and libertarians beg to differ.

What I have seen in my life is this: Democracy is wanted by altruistic, caring, well-intentioned but ultimately self-righteous people who think everyone would believe what they do if only the opposition knew how wrong they were.

But, it is also desired by those who think they can manipulate those feelings of altruism and caring into giving themselves more power by getting more votes. 

THAT is the great danger.

People use your emotions, your desire to make things better, into power over others.

That is what democracy is all about, power over those less powerful, or less numerous, then you.

So, if someone is brilliant, capable and works hard to support themselves, their families, their employees and community, the majority might be jealous of that. It's a recurring liberal theme and they want to tax or regulate his wealth because the majority isn't capable of achieving what this individual has, and therefore thinks it's 'NOT FAIR!!!'

This happens every effing day.

So, it's easier to vote with the majority to take from someone else, than to achieve it on your own.

Democrats will call the achiever 'greedy' or 'selfish' for creating and keeping his wealth.

But really, who is greedier. the man who works for his achievements or the majority who want to take it for their own benefit?

 

He doesn't mention "tax and regulation" until late, but I get the subtext: Wolf devoutly believes taxation is theft and that government regulation is mainly harassment aimed at prosperous people because of liberal jealousy about conservative wealth. Clearly, Wolf's Head is a guy who does not believe in the "social contract." (The social contract, which should and can and does produce civic virtue, establishes the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual for the good of the community.) 

 

Social contract? I do believe in it, which is the basis for my belief in democracy. I grew up with it, the cohesion of a community of equals (farmers who knew how to do everything almost but needed help in crisis times, who got help when they needed it from their neighbors, and depended on Roosevelt socialism that brought the "shelter belts" of trees to break up the winds that were lifting the topsoil and taking it to Arkansas. It was more socialism that electrified the countryside. Locally, and before my time, democratic impulses wanted to see every child enlightened and potentially ennobled, so those early, capable, tough white Europeans who settled the Panhandle of Texas decided to tax themselves and build schools -- including many one-room satellite schools in far-flung sections where poor farm kids who had no way to get to town could learn to read and grow up to write a blog, maybe. "We'll solve that with school buses," which I rode through every grade into high school. Everybody got taxed for all of that, for the good that full and free education brings. And they elected a school board who ran it and county commissioners who worked for free and made sure the muddy roads that became rutted canyonlands got smoothed out. Yes, some probably groused, especially about the school tax: "I don't even have kids in school! Why should I pay?" But simple, good-hearted, civic-minded democratic consensus won out. Later, after government began paving more and more dirt roads (the wonderful socialism that helped farmers get their capitalist goods from farm to store), and at some point some other democrats in Austin decided that "vocational agriculture" should be a thing in rural schools (I took it!), proving that legitimate government could help farmers keep their investments intact by educating their children in the arts of rural survival.


I was a poor kid, but you couldn't tell the poor kids from the rich ones. We all wore the same farming-country dungarees with worn knees. I wore shirts made from cotton sacks. My father owned no land. He worked another man's wheat stubble, and we lived in that owner's houses -- two different ones over a couple of decades. The good will of men (and women) I didn't even know, who weren't kin to me, enabled me to get educated, and then Christian socialist aid got me further to a college we could afford (a Baptist one, which was even in the '50s already fully integrated, where the religion didn't take for me but the world of history and philosophy and literature did). That's why I'm a democrat and also a Democrat.


Yes, I try to win elections. I try to convince people of my truth. It's the social contract if they agree and elect my guys and also if they don't agree and reject my guys and elect theirs. The social contract demands I accept the will of the people in either case. If their guys go wrong in office, I'll try to eject them, and if I can convince others to change course, we will.

 

The part of Wolf's dissertation that wounded me most:

 

People [politicians] use your emotions, your desire to make things better, into power over others.

That is what democracy is all about, power over those less powerful, or less numerous, then you.

 

If I understand his point here, and I believe I do because I understand English -- the very impulse toward altruism -- seeing a need and urging government to do something about it -- that impulse is itself the problem. Dude, that's a dark place. That's a world libertarians seem to live in, and welcome to it. Wolf's gospel that altruism itself -- charity, government help, socialism -- is really only about getting power over people in order to control them -- that's a version of reality that belongs not to the world I know and have known and still actually believe in.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Screw-You Philosophy of Trump Republicanism

 

Don't get between a Republican politician and his greed.

The greed for money. The greed for power. They'll run over you for either. They're Virginia Foxx driving a car too fast on mountain roads and tailgating granny to get to her next fundraiser or a vote on denying anybody anywhere any government assistance of any kind. It's their big car and it's their road, so get the hell outta the way!

They're Madison Cawthorn assuming the laws don't apply to them, the rules of the road or the rules about taking weapons onto school grounds.

They're clones now of Trump, of course, who turned his Secret Service detail into a cash machine and would stop at nothing to maintain power. What was he doing with stolen secrets? If the thought -- let alone some overt action -- of turning those docs into cash didn't cross his adderolated brain, I'd be astounded.

Chuck Edwards


Then there's the particular screw-you attitude of Chuck Edwards, the Republican who beat Cawthorn in the primary and is now trying to replace him in Congress, running against Jasmine Beach-Ferrera. Edwards was outraged, in that pinched-face way of MAGA Republicans, when Prez Biden forgave a measly amount of student debt:

“This policy is unfair to the millions of Americans who have paid back their debt and to the taxpayers who will now pay the debts of those who haven’t,” Edwards told the Smoky Mountain News. “And it will make inflation even worse. It has to stop and when I am in Congress, I will fight to restore fiscal sanity to our nation.”

Unfair.

The cry of the greed-head who's been sucking off the teat and is outraged that someone else might get a drop.

Because Edwards himself has had over a million dollars in Payment Protection Program loans (PPP) -- $1,120,000.00, to be absolutely exact -- forgiven by the Federal government. And now he wants to make sure that those ex-students burdened with predatory interest on their student loans have to actually pay state income taxes on those $10,000 of forgiven debt.

That's the screw-you philosophy without any clothes on.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

This Alone Disqualifies Ted Budd

 

Asked now by three different news outlets whether he would accept the outcome of the November elections if he lost, Trumpist Senate candidate Ted Budd wouldn't say. Because as we all know now, elections are fair and honest when Republicans win. Otherwise, they're illegitimate.

From his seat in the US House, Budd voted against certifying the 2020 election on January 6th.

Democratic candidate Cheri Beasley's spokesperson Kelci Hobson told the N&O that Budd “has made a career out of subverting our democracy, from refusing to accept election results in 2020 and 2022 to calling the January 6th insurrection ‘just patriots standing up’ to opposing legislation to secure our constitutional right to vote. That’s dangerous and wrong for North Carolina.”

It's also the end of our democracy.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Mark Meadows Has the Gall

 

Former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who's under investigation in North Carolina for voter fraud, has sued election officials in Lehigh County, Pa., for ... [suppressing my impulse to giggle] ... an "election integrity" issue (the use of ballot drop boxes).

We're currently at the 6-month mark in the NC State Bureau of Investigation's probe of accusations against Meadows -- that he voted absentee in 2020 using a Macon County address where he had apparently never set foot.

The Macon County Board of Elections removed Meadows from their voter rolls in April.