Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Cawthorn and Trump Settle North Carolina's Hash


A couple of days ago we speculated about what was going on at Mar-a-Lago between Mark Walker, Madison Cawthorn, and DJT. Turns out that political novice Bo Hines was there also, and between the four of them, they've divvied up Congressional seats to keep out of each other's way. (Thanks to Jeffrey Billman at The Primer.)

Bo Hines is migrating his political aspirations (yet again!) from the 7th CD to the 4th, where there's already a bunch of announced Republican candidates, including NC House member John Szoka. (Congrats, John! The Trumpists now consider you toast.)

With Bo Hines gone, Mark Walker has a clearer field for the 7th CD. He, with Trump's blessing, intends to elbow aside another clutch of lesser-known Republicans.

Michelle Woodhouse gets the Cawthorn/Trump nod to take the 14th CD away from both Chuck Edwards and Bruce O'Connell. (Memo to Edwards and O'Connell: toast and toast.)

Young Madison is taking the credit for this master plan, seconded by the ineffable endorsements of Trump.


Monday, December 06, 2021

BREAKING: Appeals Court Halts Candidate Filings


The NC Court of Appeals put a temporary hold on candidates filing in any and all legislative districts covered by the recent remapping -- US Congress, NC House, and NC Senate -- while the court weighs a legal challenge to those districts. How long the hold may last -- that goes unanswered.

Appears that candidates for other local offices can go ahead with filing, which opened today at noon.

Also unclear if the ruling represents the thinking of a 3-judge panel, the whole court, or merely a simple majority.

Watauga County, Allegedly Negligent in Policing The Cottages


A complaint was filed in Watauga County Superior Court last week seeking a declaratory ruling that Watauga County is guilty of its own negligence in that it "has failed to prevent repeated illegal discharges of wastewater that directly compromise the lands and waters within its jurisdiction. These illegal discharges have resulted in over 70,000 gallons of untreated wastewater, and 2.3 million gallons of treated wastewater, to be spilled into local waterways, all released by the Cottages of Boone ... in 2021. As the Cottages repeatedly discharged wastewater in violation of State law, [Watauga County] repeatedly failed to act reactively or proactively to prevent future incidents." "The Cottages of Boone" is a high-density development off Poplar Grove Road with 894 bedrooms that cater to the college student population. 

Plaintiff Adam Zebzda alleges that the county attorney went easy on The Cottages. In October 2021 -- following not one, not two, but three illegal discharges of treated and untreated waste water, some of it raw human sewage -- the county attorney sent a letter to the management and owners of The Cottages notifying them that they had been declared a "public nuisance." The letter said the county was prepared to use its police power to insure that The Cottages clean up its act. The letter did not address any Federal environmental impacts caused by thousands of gallons of student feces flowing untreated into tributaries of the Watauga River. According to the complaint, "independent water quality testing conducted by local environmental organizations revealed e. Coli levels twice the legal limit ... downstream from the Cottages." That was in September 2021.

Instead of following up with civil or even criminal penalties assessed against The Cottages, the county granted a 90-day extension for correcting the "public nuisance." No fines, no civil penalties, "no formal enforcement action."

Deep in the complaint one finds this specific allegation:

There is no possibility that the Defendant [Watauga County] was not aware of the Cottages’ illegal wastewater discharges, due to the extensive local journalistic reporting of the incidents. Further, the Defendant was aware of the community’s significant concern from these incidents, as shown in email correspondence between the Plaintiff and County Manager (Exhibit “F”).

In fact, the Defendant was aware of such significant community concern that it chose to mislead the public. Rather than take actual action to address the Cottages’ environmental threats, the Defendant reported that it had partnered with AppHealthCare to “respond to complaints in support of protecting the health of the public,” as reported by the Watauga Democrat on November 16 of 2021 (Exhibit “G”).

Reporting claimed that “due to ongoing violations, Watauga County has issued civil penalties in the maximum amount allowed by law to the Cottages of Boone for noncompliance,” with the Ordinance. Per the email conversation between the Plaintiff and County Manager, this was proved false as the only penalty was the issuance of another meaningless notice of violation. The Defendant has not yet issued a public correction to its claims. Rather, it chooses to continue misleading the public in an apparent attempt to silence community concern.

Exhibit “F:” Email correspondence between the Plaintiff (zebzdaa@appstate.edu) and County Manager Deron Geouque (deron.geouque@watgov.org) in regard to the Cottages of Boone, dated November of 2021

Exhibit “G:” Staff Report. “AppHealthCare, Watauga County Release Statement on Cottages of Boone.” Watauga Democrat, 16 Nov. 2021,www.wataugademocrat.com/news/local/apphealthcare-watauga-county-release-statement-on-cottages-of-boone/article_64644d42-09c6-5746-b480-3d9d15b89978.html

Sunday, December 05, 2021

The Trump Endorsement Two-Step


See the new 7th Congressional District, the yellow blotch smack in the center of North Carolina? Former Congressman Mark Walker, who's been running for the US Senate for two years (Burr seat), is thinking of jumping (migrating) into the 7th CD race ... IF he can get the blessing of Donald J. Trump. Walker is reportedly at Mar-a-Lago right now, groveling.

It's complicated. Madison Cawthorn is also at Mar-a-Lago this weekend.

1. The 7th District includes Alamance, Randolph, Chatham, Lee and portions of Wake, Guilford, and Davidson counties (very different from the old 7th, which used to stretch south of Wake to Wilmington). DavesRedistricting.org rates the "Republican lean" in the new 7th at 56.5%.

1.b. Mark Walker doesn't actually live in the new 7th though he wants Trump's blessing to run there. Walker lives in the new 11th. He used to live in and represent the old 6th CD (keep up!), which Democrat Kathy Manning won in 2020 after Walker stepped down to run for Senate. Manning, incidentally, is now double-bunked with Virginia Foxx in the new 11th (which literally gives the finger to Watauga County and stretches east to Greensboro). Foxx has announced that she's running again in CD11. No word yet from Kathy Manning.

2. The new 7th contains much of what used to be the old 13th CD, Ted Budd's perch before he decided to run for Senate as a gun-toting good ole boy and subsequently received the Trump endorsement (staged, incidentally, by Trump with Mark Walker and Pat McCrory at the rally, so very much present for their official snubbing). 

2.b. The new 13th CD -- Madison Cawthorn 's new main squeeze.

3. Cawthorn's a Trump altarboy. Trump invited Cawthorn to participant in the January 6th sedition rally, and he formally endorsed him for reelection to Congress soon after in March.

4. Turn-abouts (the Trumpist "ripple effect"): Cawthorn took it on himself to endorse Mark Walker for Senate before Trump picked Ted Budd. Oops. Cawthorn has actually endorsed a long list of his own worthies, including Virginia Foxx (and see below # 6).

5. It would ease a Madison burden if Walker dropped out of the Senate race. Cawthorn could then endorse Ted Budd and be in synch with DJT.

6. But Walker's jumping over to run in the 7th CD puts him upstream of yet another Madison Cawthorn endorsement (how prideful is this guy?). Bo Hines (of district-shopping fame) had already settled on using the 7th for his novice political tryout, and Cawthorn promptly endorsed him. (Cawthorn seems to believe he's got the royal touch, like the blessing of a saint or for curing scrofula). 

7. Over 10 other Republicans have already announced campaigns in the Republican primary upcoming in March: Bo Hines, Kent Keirsey, Jennyfer Bucardo, Lee Haywood, Christian Castelli, Peter Boykin, Marvin Boguslawski and Chad Slotta. Walker will make a lot of activists mad coming in suddenly to this fold, especially if he has Trump's blessing 

8. What does Cawthorn say to Trump about Walker? About Bo Hines? And did Cawthorn and Walker bump into each other at the palace of the caesar? And what did they talk about?

9. No Democrat so far has announced a challenge in the new 7th. According to Dave, the "minority" population in the new 7th is over 30%. I bet a lot of those citizens are not even registered to vote.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Another Republican Declares for the CD14 Seat


This was the headline in the Asheville Citizen-Times after state Sen. Chuck Edwards announced his candidacy for the CD14 Congressional seat:

Edwards, GOP critic of Madison Cawthorn's Jan. 6 actions, to run for former Cawthorn seat

And the lede for reporter Joel Burgess's article:

HENDERSONVILLE — Republican state Sen. Chuck Edwards, an outspoken critic of right-wing Rep. Madison Cawthorn "inflaming" Americans against each other before the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol invasion, said he is running for Cawthorn's former seat.

There had been some speculation before Congressman Cawthorn jumped ship to run in the adjacent 13th CD that Sen. Edwards would challenge Cawthorn in the primary, so public had his criticisms of Cawthorn become.

Edwards owns seven McDonald's franchises, so he knows how to push big calories at country people. So of course he mentioned growing up in the mountains "carrying a squirrel gun."

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

In My Texas Hometown, the Methodists Were the Liberals


The Sunday morning after [the pastor explained she opposed gay marriage], a pair of women were seen pouring a thick perimeter of salt around the church storefront....

--Sarah Edwards, "What Happens When a Non-LGBTQ+ Church Comes to a Particularly Queer Part of Durham?" 

Pouring a ring of salt around a church entrance? That's an ancient ritual to block the passage of an evil spirit. The ladies of the church who poured the salt ring evidently felt they were threatened by the evil spirits around them. This actually happened recently in Durham, at the intersection of Geer Street and Rigsbee Avenue, the former location of a motor and auto parts business and the new, sparkling Art Deco location of Pioneers Durham, a church affiliated with the United Methodists (UMC) and financially supported by something called the Affiliation of Related Churches (ARC). The official doctrinal stance of both the UMC and of the ARC happens to be anti-gay marriage. Period. So Pioneers Durham -- and its related businesses, of which there are many (including a coffee house catering to GenZ) -- has become controversial in a part of Durham which is, according to LGBTQ+ activists, one of the most queer in the state. 

About that folklore barrier for demons, according to Sarah Edwards, "The salt lingered for several days afterward."

The church -- and its woman pastor, Sherei Lopez Jackson -- are merely following current UMC and ARC doctrine regarding marriage. Both orgs say church-sanctioned marriage will be only between one man and one woman, though various individual UMC churches, including ones in Durham, are defying the doctrine. "In January 2020, Duke Memorial lead pastor Heather Rodrigues took historic action when she stood alongside 11 other UMC pastors and married Durham residents Caleb Parker and Thomas Phillips, who became the first gay couple to be married in the history of the 112-year-old Duke Memorial." There's actually an irrevocable split in the UMC underway, likely to consummate at the 2022 General Conference when the larger church is expected to split into two factions: a conservative wing (with which Pioneers Durham looks likely to affiliate) and another that affirms LGBTQ+ congregations.

I read Sarah Edwards' article carefully. Pastor Lopez Jackson is no Mark Robinson, nor anything even in that neighborhood of intolerant Christianity. She's actually a crusader of sorts for women's rights. She says she wanted ordination in the UMC because they accept women preachers, and her ideas for using the Pioneers Durham property off-hours to stimulate and nurture local small business enterprises, especially among black women, seems totally cool. And her get-to-know video compells sympathy:

But in Edwards' article she's weirdly evasive about the "homophobic" label:

“I hope to teach and create conversation around sexual formation with humility, listening, and compassion towards the ways that this interpretation has caused deep harm,” Lopez Jackson wrote. “Our leaders commit to listening, apologizing when necessary, and continually growing in love, kindness and healthy relationships. We commit to surrounding ourselves with voices unlike our own, so that we might be better spiritual friends to Durham.”

That is a form of gobbledygook which I learned to despise when I was an academic. What, pray tell, does "sexual formation" mean? That obfuscating locution, along with those great big empty generalizations like "humility, listening, and compassion," which she drops like chocolate-covered cheeries of distraction -- really say nothing at all. Who talks this way?

Plus there is that salt ring thing.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Flickrs of Democrats Running in the 14th CD Primary in March


I'm shopping -- along with most other Democrats and progressive-minded independents -- for the best (winnable) candidate to support in the March 2022 Democratic primary for the Congressional seat in the new District 14. 

I gravitate to video biographies. Tight, condensed, seeringly honest often, sometimes cleverly manipulative (even when it doesn't realize it). I like steely forthrightness but I also don't mind a little manipulation, and let's face it, winning voters over takes a special intelligence for shaping attitudes and expectations. An effective public performance stops time. So I probably make way too many judgments based on appearance (body language, speech, eye contact, the overall narrative), but that's what it's come down to. Assuming all other factors about a candidate's philosophy are basically even, it want to see the pitch. (I'm a shallow person.)

Below is a first collection of candidate videos from the Democratic side of the 14th CD. All were made before the new congressional maps landed (so you'll hear mention of "District 11"), back when we all couldn't wait to run against Madison Cawthorn of lasting memory. But Cawthorn is gone to the new 11th CD. The Republicans will nominate someone else on their side, someone comparably bad probably (in the manner of the new GOP -- tears for Wendy Nevarez!), and with the numbers/demographics tilted in their favor, the Democratic standard-bearer has got to be dynamic. Cawthorn's chosen GOP successor who wins their primary can't just waltz in, especially if they prove uninspiring to the neo-Confederates who loved Madison. 

Some announced Democratic candidates don't (yet) have videos, or I couldn't find them. And very possibly there'll be additional Democrats whom we've not heard of yet filing after Dec. 6th. We'll follow up with additional moving pitchers as they become available and as we approach March 8th.

If you watch at all you should watch to the end of each video. These pieces of art take money and time to produce. That deserves some respect.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Deanna Ballard Watch


Saw this headline in the High Country Press the morning after Thanksgiving, just in time for giving thanks: "Sen. Deanna Ballard Secures Critical Improvements for District 45." I immediately said out loud, "Oh she's definitely running for something."

To recap: She's double-bunked with Sen. Ralph Hise in what used to be her NC Senate District. What will she do? What will Hise do? (Hise is rumored to be considering running for the congressional seat -- CD14 -- as is Ballard.) Putting out an eye-grabbing press release like the one referenced above is evidence of a politician who intends to be noticed and of a comms team honed for the main chance.

The story in the High Country Press lists all kinds of special budgetary grants aimed at projects in Watauga and the other counties in Ballard's 45th Senate district, and I have no inside poop nor any reason to doubt the worthiness of any of those grants. I tend to support government funding of community-based projects, so good on Deanna Ballard. I do note that AppState is singled out for some $122 million, and I'm sure they can use it.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Who in the #NCGA Wants To Overthrow the Constitution of the US?


Quoting the lede by Will Doran and Brian Murphy: "More than 30 Republican state lawmakers in North Carolina and South Carolina signed onto a new letter that backs false claims about the 2020 elections and pushes for the whole country to copy a widely discredited type of election audit that Arizona recently attempted. The letter goes on to suggest that the 2020 election results should be overturned and Democratic President Joe Biden ousted from office" (emphasis added).

Three North Carolina state senators and 13 members of the NC House signed the letter. The list was first published on Twitter by Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers (who apparently wrote the letter and solicited the signatures).

Here's the list of these North Carolina notables who are still more than willing to please Trump and overturn the 2020 election by fiat:

Sen. Ted Alexander -- from Cleveland County. He ran for US Senate in 2014

Sen. Wayne Sasser -- Stanley County pharmacist

Sen. Bob Steinburg
Sen. Bob Steinburg -- representing a coastal district. Shortly after January 6th, Steinburg made waves declaring that Trump should declare martial law, suspend habeas corpus, and start rounding up his enemies, the people of the Deep State who were supposedly stealing the presidency from Trump, including, by the way, Chief Justice John Roberts. "Let’s take a look at [him]," Steinburg told WRAL. "Somebody's got something" on Roberts and, as evidence, Steinburg averred that "a lot of retired FBI and CIA agents live in his district and have told him so."

Rep. Jay Adams -- from Catawba County

Rep. Mike Clampitt -- from Bryson City. Outed in October as secretly a member of Oath Keepers

Rep. Edward Goodwin -- represents a coastal district

Rep. Bobby Hanig -- from the coastal region. Hanig was part of the vigilante posse of NC House members who put the Durham County Board of Elections on notice in October that he and other members of the Freedom Caucus would be coming through their doors very soon and that they would be wanting to inspect the innards of Durham County voting equipment for any illegal modems which they claim is the source of most North Carolina voting fraud.

Rep. Kelly Hastings -- represents Cleveland and Gaston counties

Rep. Keith Kidwell -- He leads the far-right House Freedom Caucus whose members include nearly half of the Republicans in that chamber, and which has been pushing unsuccessfully to inspect the innards of North Carolina voting equipment because he knows there was fraud somewhere if he could just find it.

Rep. Donnie Loftis
Rep. Donnie Loftis -- recently appointed to his Gaston County seat. He was at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, although he hasn’t been charged with any crimes related to that day. Loftis initially wrote on social media that he “got gassed three times and was at the entrance when they breached the door,” the News & Observer reported, but later told WRAL-TV that “I had absolutely zero involvement in the rioting and categorically condemn the storming of our Capitol building that day.”

Rep. Jeff McNeely -- from Iredell Couny. He was the leader of the posse of Freedom Caucus members who threatened to force they way into the Durham County elections office in October.

Rep. Tim Moffitt -- active member of ALEC who represents Hendersonville and who in 2012 introduced a bill to seize Asheville's water system for private profit

Rep. Larry Pittman -- of course he did!

Rep. Michael Setzer -- from Catawba County

Rep. Harry Warren -- from Rowan County 

Rep. Sam Watford -- from Davidson County