Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thom Tillis, Not Popular With the Tea Party

Christian theocrat and NC House member Larry Pittman brags that he preaches politics from the pulpit of his church -- and if you don't like it, you can suck on a gun barrel -- and he incidentally calls out his leader in the NC House, Republican Thom Tillis, for being insufficiently devoted to Christ, guns, and guts at a Tea Party gathering in Cabarrus County.

Pittman preaches the One True Religion for the first several minutes and begins to go after Thom Tillis about 10 minutes in. Tillis is "squeamish," suggests Pittman, about really making the voter photo ID bill as tough as Pittman thinks it should be.

Pittman also has a good deal to say about the resolution -- quashed by Thom Tillis -- that would have declared North Carolina capable of establishing a state religion. Thom Tillis is a dictator, an anti-Christian dictator, according to Pittman, because he wants to run for U.S. Senate next year against Kay Hagan.

Thom Tillis is an effing politician, it appears. Who knew?

The Pittman video has already made headlines over at The Daily Haymaker, where Brant Clifton has never concealed his contempt for Thom Tillis.

Jerkwater Von Jerkington

Rep. Tim Moffitt, the Buncombe County Republican behind the seizure of Asheville's water system and the legislator who wants to criminalize women's nipples, has upped his jerk-quotient: He's bought up domain names for all 170 NC House and Senate districts and is doling these out to office-holders and office-seekers at a pretty penny. So far all his clients are fellow Republicans.

Moffitt also bought the domain for “Stopitmoffitt.com.” "A group critical of Moffitt’s efforts to force the city of Asheville to cede its water assets to the Metropolitan Sewerage District started that group."

“I just bought it to keep them from capitalizing on it,” Moffitt said.

His motivation for much of his political career: Stop someone else from doing something.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

North Carolina: Crackpot Capitol of the Nation

Corey Hutchins in the Columbia Journalism Review delves into how quickly the new Republican majority in the General Assembly, along with their patsy governor, are turning the clock back to the 19th 18th Century, and how difficult it's become for the state's news media to keep up with the action that counts ... i.e., seeing the forest despite the trees.

One bottomline: though NC GOP heads have swelled several times their normal size from the odor of their own complete power, their complete power is an illusion based on imaginary lines drawn on a map. Their power is the artificial result of redistricting, and like most artificial products, they're not built to hide their own artificiality indefinitely. Tawdriness reveals itself, like plastic flowers left too long in the sunlight.

But to recap the madness, the shamefulness, the frenetic backwardness of the Clown College in Raleigh -- which is all we can do, recap it, and insistently -- here's Mr. Hutchins's catalog of just some of the backward-clock-winding that has gone on in the new General Assembly:

Legislation has been proposed that would dole out prison sentences to women who go topless in public, allow public high schools to offer Bible study as an elective, and restrict access to abortions. A dozen years after the industry was outlawed amid concerns over predatory practices, there's a push to bring back payday lenders. Other measures would end teacher tenureeliminate green energy rulesresume executions, and restrict the power of local government, especially in the state's largest cities. Unemployment benefits have been cut amid persistent high joblessness, and there's a proposal that would turn the state's corporate income tax from the highest in the Southeast to the lowest. There's a Voter ID bill, and another one that would penalize families whose college-age children register to vote at their campus location. There are proposals to allow hunting on Sundays―something that hasn't been permitted since 1868―and to raise the maximum speed limit for school bus drivers, and a group of GOP lawmakers recently tried to makeNorth Carolina's state marsupial the Virginia opossum. Asheville Citizen-Times columnist John Boyle even did a gag bit in which he challenged passers-by on the street to "name the fake bill" (most folks could not distinguish the made-up measure from the real ones).
Not included in this list ... the bill that will make citizens wait two calendar years for a divorce and the proposed bill to allow North Carolina to impose its own state religion.

Let Them Eat Hay

How the Art Pope/Pat McCrory proposed budget for North Carolina will accelerate the decline of our rural counties: Rob Christensen marshals the details in his column today.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Stupid and Annoying Blunder-Woman

Rep. Pat Hurley of Asheboro has managed to ride her hobby horse right over everyone in the NC General Assembly, leaving hoof-marks where common sense might have grown, with a little watering.

Rep. Pat Hurley is getting mandatory cursive hand-writing installed into all North Carolina public school curricula, because writing in which all letters are joined in a continuous stream of ink is apparently more American, and everything else is subversive of motherhood and bubble-headed hairstyles. And why is she doing this? Because she was offended when some 4th graders wrote her thank-you notes by printing out their words. How dare they!

Rep. Pat Hurley said a bunch of stupid, uninformed, wrong, and poorly sourced shit in sworn testimony before the NC House Education Committee in order to convince The Honorables that this law is important to the future of the state. Her "expert sources" on why cursive writing is vastly superior to other forms of writing have been debunked. But just making stuff up is nothing new in this General Assembly.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"Business-Friendly" and Logic-Free

It took an NC Senate committee all of 45 minutes to approve a massive roll-back of environmental protections across the state. The Commerce Committee was voting on a "substitute" bill which was unveiled just hours before the meeting. The substitute bill is much larger in scope than the original measure (which was available to the public before the meeting). Now you see it; now you don't.

The main meat of the new law is more of that "conservative big government" bullshit: it would ban local governments from enacting ordinances and rules stricter than federal rules. Federal rules -- on asphalt plants, for example -- are so lax, so permissive, that many local communities have passed their own rules governing where those particular plants can set up their smoke stacks.

Not sure yet how this law will impact Watauga's own Polluting Industries Ordinance, but the bill does away with riverbank buffers along the Neuse and Tar-Pimlico. Buffering of our own New and Watauga rivers was very much a part of the Polluting Industries Ordiance, after the experience in the Seven Oaks neighborhood with Maymead asphalt, which wanted to wash their trucks out into the New River.

"The bill would also permit demolition crews, including those working on old power plants, to dispose of potentially toxic materials on site, instead of transporting them to a landfill."

They Get the Message the Republicans Are Sending

The scene in the NC House chamber yesterday as the Republican majority (with five Democrats, caught in the GOP eddy) voted for a law that will require photo ID in order to cast an in-person vote. (No proof of identity required if you vote by mail-in absentee ballot, which shows you that this measure is not about truthful elections but about crippling certain segments of the electorate.)

Photo by Chris Seward, in the Raleigh News & Observer.

We're back to Five Goobers, as five Democrats ended up voting for the bill on passage: William D. Brisson of Dublin, Ken Goodman of Rockingham, Charles Graham of Lumberton, Paul Tine of Kitty Hawk and Ken Waddell of Chadbourn.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Three Goobers

William Brisson
Three Democrats in the NC House have announced their intentions of voting for the Republican voter photo ID bill, which was being debated this afternoon in the NC House.

The Republicans have their majorities for voting in this example of voter suppression without Democratic help, which makes these three not so much icing on the Republican cake as dog poo on the Republican shoe.

One of the three, Bill Brisson, was one-fifth of the Original Five Goobers, Democrats who voted with the Republicans to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of the Republican budget in 2011.

The other two of the All New Three Goobers, Ken Goodman and Paul Tine, have volunteered themselves as totally superfluous cheerleaders for voter disenfranchisement, which their own constituents can contemplate during that time when they're fumbling for the Proper Papers while trying to vote.

Transparent Man

Watauga County Commission Chair Nathan Miller volunteered the following analysis of the county's bullying of the Town of Boone over sales tax allocation, to Steve Frank at GoBlueRidge:
"Unfortunately, it appears that the Town Council has decided to play the fiddle while Boone burns. But unlike emperor Nero, the citizens of Boone will have the chance to vote these people out come November."
So all of this backdoor dealing by the county (including the kick-back scheme, whereby the resort towns kick-back 60% of their new sales tax proceeds to the county), all in order to punish Boone for the sake of a wealthy special interest, has been about ... wait for it ... politics.

We continue to stand amazed that Mr. Miller thinks that his treatment of the Town of Boone is going to reap benefits for himself, the Templetons, and his political party.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"Big Government Conservatives" = Ideological Jerks, by Any Measure

Rob Christensen's column yesterday in the Raleigh News&Observer is worth a read, if for no other reason than to reassure the targeted citizens of Boone that our little mountain town is not alone in being bullied by Raleigh (not to mention the Three Amigos on the Watauga County Commission).

Take the city of Sanford, NC. A bill was introduced by the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly to turn municipal and school board elections in Sanford into partisan affairs, though none of the current office-holders there had asked for such action and none were consulted about the pending legislation. Mayor Cornelia Olive requested that at least a referendum be conducted to gather the opinions of Sanford residents on making their elections partisan contests. No, the General Assembly replied. Your elections must be partisan, and they will be partisan.

Tip of the iceberg.

Christensen supplies a further (highly incomplete) list of such big-government arrogance:
• The Raleigh City Council and Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue worked out a lease deal, which included many community leaders who had been working for years to transfer the ground of the old Dorothea Dix mental hospital into a city park. The Senate Republicans said ‘Sorry, we don’t like the deal,’ and are currently in the process of blowing it up. 
• For decades, Charlotte has run Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The legislature is now seizing control of the airport and setting up an independent regional authority. Raleigh knows best. 
• Asheville’s water system is likely to be under the control of a Metropolitan Sewage district without compensation, despite protests from the city. Raleigh knows best. 
• Consider the “Big Gulp” bill filed by three North Carolina lawmakers. They are seeking to block any North Carolina city or county from adopting a New York-style law banning the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. Regardless of the merits of the issue, why is the legislature dictating to towns what laws it can pass regarding soft drinks? Raleigh knows best. 
• Legislation has been introduced that would bar local communities from restricting proposed modifications and additions to cell phone towers. Raleigh knows best. 
• A bill that stalled last year in the Senate would have restricted cities and counties from keeping guns out of their recreation facilities. The residents of Chapel Hill and Kinston could not possibly have more different views about this. Raleigh knows best. 
• The legislature has moved to pre-empt local communities on a whole range of growth-related issues such as annexation, extraterritorial jurisdiction zoning and communities making homebuilders adhere to design standards. 
The risk of criticism
All of these issues can be debated on their merits. But in every instance it is big-government conservatives in Raleigh dictating to local communities. 
If someone questions the power of Raleigh over a local community, there is often blowback. As Sarah Ovaska of N.C. Policy Watch reported, Republican Rep. Mike Stone of Sanford became irritated when a local radio talk show criticized his effort to turn Sanford elections partisan. 
The show aired on an FM radio station affiliated with Central Carolina Community College. Stone’s office sent an email questioning the station’s radio programming, budget and source of funding. The radio program was pulled. 
It just won’t do to have anyone criticizing the wisdom of the central government. After all, Raleigh knows best.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Time Out While a Republican Senator Puts Us in Our Place

Senate Bill 287, which would let local governments shift their legal notices from local newspapers to the Internet, passed through an NC Senate committee Tuesday, but not before producing one of the more iconic quotes from this current session of the NC General Assembly.

Several newspaper executives from around the state were on hand at the committee meeting to argue that newspapers offer the best chance to get information to the public. They said many people, particularly in rural areas, would never see the legal notices if they’re only on a government Web site.

“It’s obvious … that the Senate leadership is targeting the newspaper industry to inflict financial damage on the industry and the public’s right to know,” said John Bussian, counsel to the N.C. Press Association.

Todd Allen, publisher of the Wake Weekly, said the measure appears motivated by Senate leaders who “don’t like newspapers and their coverage.”

From coverage of the incident in the Burlington Times-News:
The committee passed the measure by voice vote. Bussian, the press association lobbyist, said the committee voted 6-5 to reject the measure. [Sen. Tommy] Tucker, the chair, rejected a subsequent appeal for a show of hands and declared the meeting adjourned. 
At that point, Hal Tanner, publisher of the Goldsboro News-Argus, approached Tucker. He told him he thought the vote was handled in a manner inconsistent with Republican stands for open government. 
“I said, ‘We just got through dealing with Jim Black,’ ” Tanner later recalled, referring to the former Democratic House speaker jailed on corruption charges. 
“I’m not Jim Black, I’m not Jim Black,” an angry Tucker replied. Senate rules prohibit roll call votes in committee. 
Later, in an email to members, the press association quoted Tucker telling Tanner: “I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet.”
While many are charging that S 287 is a Republican attack on a press they don't like being monitored by, says ProgressNC, "the sadder truth is that this will make it all that much harder for citizens to find out about key meetings and hearings involving the very issues that affect their lives the most: zoning, local utilities, taxes, and more. If this bill passes, it will be very, very clear that the NC Senate has no intention of working for the public good this session."

This dust-up led Kevin Siers, the Charlotte Observer editorial cartoonist, to produce the following memorial to Republican arrogance:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

An Annoying Dumbass Rich Little Caucasian Boy

Our uninformed Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, who evidently has little gray matter to impede the passage of facts in one ear and out the other, has written an op-ed in the Charlotte Observer that attempts to "prove" voter fraud in our state because, of the 56,000 provisional ballots case in his race last year state-wide, some 28,000 of those ballots were not counted.

Mr. Forest evidently doesn't understand the purpose of provisional ballots nor how they are ultimately counted/not counted

The following letter from Watauga County's Matt Walpole sets him straight:

I was astonished to read in Friday's editorial page the article by Lt Gov Dan Forest claiming that provisional ballots proved the presence of widespread voter fraud in North Carolina, with a photo ID law needed as a remedy. I can not and do not speak for my county Board of Elections, but as a Watauga County precinct judge over two decades, I can tell you that this is flatly untrue. 
Provisional balloting is not about voter identity. These are ballots cast by voters who do not appear on a precinct's election rolls on election day. The reasons are numerous. The voter may be in the right county but the wrong precinct. He may not have voted in over ten years, and been dropped from the rolls as inactive. She may have an unrecorded move. He may be from out of the county or even out of the state, but it's Election Day, and he just wants to vote. She may have thought she registered at DMV when she got her license, but it doesn't show up on the BOE records. He may be an ex-felon, who neglected to petition to have his voting rights restored. As precinct judges, our job is not to deny people the right to vote. That's above our pay grade. We let them vote with a provisional ballot, which is later reviewed by the BOE for validity. 
It is true that about half of provisional ballots are determined to have been cast by ineligible voters, and not counted. But these voters are guilty of no fraud or criminality. They took the time to fill out an extra form, with an explanation for why they thought their vote should count. They did this knowing their vote might still be rejected. These voters should be commended, not insulted. At least they tried. 
When Mr. Forest says, "More than 28,000 ballots [of 56,000 provisionals cast] in my race were thrown out because the voters' existence couldn't be verified", and says, "is that not proof of fraud?", he shows a startling ignorance of our electoral system. These people "exist". Their identities are not in question. Just their eligibility as voters at a particular precinct on election day. 
Perhaps a case can be made for a photo ID law which could disenfranchise thousands of otherwise eligible voters. But to base that case on provisional balloting is truly fraudulent.  

Government by Revenge

The three Republicans on the Watauga County Commission carried through on their threat last night to change sales tax allocation from a population-based system to a property-valuation system, thus giving a windfall to three resort towns in the county while depriving Boone of approximately $2 million annually. Boone contains about one-third of the county’s population and raises the lion’s share of those sales taxes (though the Republicans showed themselves both ignorant of and uninterested in the actual figures).

As the three Republicans made abundantly clear last night, their motive was pure revenge for Boone’s perceived failure to do everything that mega-developer Phil Templeton wanted done to pave the way for putting high-density “quad-style” student housing on the old high school site.

Many of the things that the three Republicans alleged last night about both Mr. Templeton and the Town of Boone do not jibe with a letter written just last Friday by Mr. Templeton’s lawyer and sent to all the commissioners and members of the town council. I’m looking at that letter right now.

1. Mr. Templeton says (via his lawyer) that his intention was always to develop the south portion of that property as a student housing project. In fact, one of his (new) demands, included in the letter, is that the property now be rezoned to R3 (multi-family). The property had already been rezoned at County Commission request to B3 (general business) by the Town of Boone, presumably to make it more attractive to Mr. Templeton. Last night, Nathan Miller alleged that Mr. Templeton’s plan all along was “mixed use.” Not according to Friday’s letter. 
2. Mr. Templeton has already been in negotiations to sell the south portion (presumably the most buildable) to another developer. Mr. Templeton has been trying to sell something that he doesn’t even own yet and thus needed many concessions from the town of Boone to make the resale more attractive. No one mentioned this fairly salient fact last night.
3. Mr. Templeton in his letter objected to any written guarantee to actually build out the commercial portion of a “mixed-use” development, a requirement that was in place for B3 properties when Mr. Templeton made his original offer on the property. And anyway, he isn’t interested in building mixed-use but in selling the property to someone else for development as student-housing alone. 
4. Mr. Templeton wants the property exempted from all town of Boone building regs, particularly steep-slope requirements
5. “In addition to the 150,000 gallons of water per day of water set aside for this project [by the town of Boone], an additional 100,000 gallons will need to be set aside for use by 2015 or 2016.”

The above intentions and demands of Mr. Templeton were not a part of what the three Republicans alleged against the town of Boone last night. In their version, Mr. Templeton is a put-upon victim of personal animus. And the town of Boone is the personification of personal animus.

The Republicans Have a Plan
The ulterior motive behind the reallocation of sales taxes became clear when Mr. Perry Yates, a commission member and Mr. Templeton’s son-in-law, said – twice – that his town taxes were going to go up because of the vote he was taking but that he didn’t care because he was serving a higher purpose.

The Republicans intend to force Boone to raise its property taxes. That will in their fantasy lead to a voter backlash. Thus the hated Democratic members of the Town Council will be voted out of power. Pop the champagne corks!

These geniuses actually think that punishing Boone is going to make them – and Republican candidates in general -- more attractive to Boone voters.

Perhaps. But I wouldn’t be holding my breath.

A Footnote on Conflicts of Interest
Mr. Yates directed the commission’s attorney to read aloud a lengthy legal opinion last night on how Mr. Yates was not in violation of any ethical standards because of his close personal relationship to Mr. Templeton.

Yeah. Whatever.

Lengthy legal opinions are fig leaves that merely call attention to what they’re hiding.

Another Footnote on What Can Go Wrong with Best-Laid Plans
It also came out last night that the resolutions passed by the resort towns of Blowing Rock, Seven Devils, and Beech Mountain – the “kick-back resolutions,” wherein those towns promised to pay back to the County 60% of their new windfalls – are not legally binding.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

News Quiz with John Boyle


Carter Wrenn, who was Sen. Jesse Helms house-guru for many years (and hence knows a thing or two about meanness of the political variety), sounds a note of warning about the deep strain of outright meanness that's been bleeding through a whole lot of legislation in Raleigh since the Republicans took over.

Monday, April 15, 2013

We Love the Smell of Litigation in the Morning!

An intensely timely, relevant, and penetrating analysis of why the Republican-proposed voter photo ID bill is unconstitutional under North Carolina's constitution, written by an experienced litigator with the Raleigh office of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice.

Its straight-forward conclusion: the Republican law "seeks to add a qualification [to vote] not found in the Constitution and, in doing so, tries to make access to the ballot difficult for those who do not meet the new requirement. As such, it is unconstitutional" (emphasis added).

Don't You Love How Good Republicans Are at Managing Taxpayer Money?

An editorial in Saturday's Wilmington Star News nails what's very much afoot in North Carolina with the Republican Bunch running everything in Raleigh ... the give-away of taxpayer money to private corporations with little or no accountability to the same taxpayers who've coughed up the money. Here's the first paragraph:
It flies in the face of reason to suggest that the way to make government more accountable is to farm out public services – and dollars – to entities that have no direct accountability to the taxpayers. Yet that is the game plan of Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-led General Assembly as they consider privatizing Medicaid and economic development and seek once again to funnel the people’s money to private schools.

Madness in the NC General Assembly

That's actually the title of an editorial published in the Hickory Daily Record. When folks in Catawba County start noticing The Crazy, then The Crazy is getting mighty noticeable. Excerpts from the above:
April Madness is upon us again, ... I warned readers a year ago with a column on April 28 about how misguided legislation in North Carolina could affect every household in our state. 
The object of my concern then, Senate Bill 33, is having the tragic effect that was predicted. Retirees and children have lost their rights to protect themselves against possible medical malpractice. Retirees and children are now considered “non-economic entities” because they can’t show a loss of wages resulting from medical malpractice in North Carolina. 
A $500,000 limit was placed all “non-economic” cases, which has produced the exact effect that the 2004 Task Force Report on Tort Reform warned the N.C. Legislature and N.C. citizens could happen — no lawyer in North Carolina will take a “non-economic” malpractice case against a N.C. doctor today. 
What “April Madness” bills are being introduced and voted on in our N.C. Legislature this year? 
How about the “Healthy Marriage Act,” that would force married couples to wait two years to get a divorce, ... Is this the way to stop domestic abuse and violence? 
Senate Bill 667 was introduced last week that would penalize any N.C. parents if their children registered to vote at their college address. “ ... One can only assume that the members of the present N.C. Legislature do not want college students voting in any future election. I wonder if they are afraid that college students will not vote for them anyway.

Recently, the state Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 337 that creates a separate governing board for state charter schools. Charter schools in N.C. would not be required to have licensed teachers. Charter school employees would not be subject to criminal background checks. Supporters of the bill say each school should be able to decide how many, if any, certified teachers they should have. Even basic courses such as math, English, science, etc. would not require certified teachers in charter schools. 
April Madness only gets better when two N.C. legislators propose a bill that would say that North Carolina and its counties and towns have the right to establish an official religion. Their reasoning seems to be that the U. S. Constitution prevents the federal government from establishing an official religion, but that rule does not apply to states. 
Another proposed bill, S 298, would eliminate all requirements for utilities to purchase power produced by solar, wind, or biomass. This proposal would essentially wipe out the renewal energy bill, set up in 2007 by Senate Bill 3. ... One wonders again if he is being influenced by his past associations with one of the largest utilities in the state.
With reference to Senate Bill 667 (and its "sister" voter suppression legislation, S666, the mark of the Beast that Sen. Dan Soucek is so hot to embrace), we understand that a group of ASU students are holding a press conference Wednesday morning to protest all the legislation meant to discourage them from voting.

They may be young, but they get it ... what Dan Soucek, Jonathan Jordan, and the rest of the Clown College is so blatantly trying to do to them and to their rights.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dealing With "At Risk" Kids in NC: Define Them Out of Existence

Justin Burr
In 2011 Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ruled that the state of North Carolina has a constitutional duty to provide free pre-kindergarten to all at-risk four-year-olds. The state defined "at risk" as children from families of four making less than $51,000 a year. Last year, under that definition, the number of at-risk four-year-olds in the state was estimated at 67,000. But under the first Republican budget, the one that Governor Perdue vetoed and the Republicans in the General Assembly (with the help of five dim Democrats) over-rode, the state allotted funding for only about 26,000 seats.

That's when Judge Manning got involved and said, "You can't do that, you poltroons."

In 2012, the state Court of Appeals unanimously upheld Manning's ruling. The State Supreme Court agreed last month to also hear the case.

In the meantime, Republican Appropriations Committee chair Justin Burr came up with the perfect Republican solution: "up" is no longer up, and "down" is no longer down, and his bill would change the definition of an "at-risk child." Under Mr. Burr's bill, an at-risk child would have to be at 100% of poverty, which is about $22,000 for a family of four.

Fun with definitions!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Please, Lobbyists, Buy This Man a Drink!

Rep. Robert Brawley, Republican of Iredell County, has filed a bill in the NC General Assembly that would roll back many of the ethics reforms like bans on lobbyists' gifts to legislators and would also "relax requirements that lobbyists disclose such gifts."

Rep. Brawley, who has served off-and-on in the General Assembly since the early 1980s remembers the good ole days when a legislator could depend on an evening out with plenty of booze, all at a lobbyist's expense. What happened to good fellowship? Mr. Brawley wants to know.

This guy is "currently a member of House leadership, serving as chairman of the Finance Committee, an influential post that would almost certainly attract lobbyists' interest."

If you can't profit personally from being an elected official, what's the point, eh, Mr. Brawley?

Here's a train wreck waiting to happen to the Republican "brand."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Andrew Cox, in The Appalachian.

Government the Nathan Miller Way

Kellen Moore’s reporting last night in the Watauga Democrat revealed that without any public notice, any agenda item, any open meeting where a recorded vote was taken, County Commission Chair Nathan Miller has single-handedly and without due process struck a corrupt deal with the towns of Blowing Rock, Beech Mountain, and Seven Devils to redistribute sales tax revenues.

Why? To punish the town of Boone. That and that alone.

As Kellen explains, the scheme to redistribute sales tax based on ad valorem property values rather than population would incur a million $ plus penalty on Watauga County (let alone what it will do to the town of Boone). Except that Miller has come up with a kick-back scheme. The rich resort towns with higher property values will get more money, natch, but Miller is making them agree to kick back hefty percentages of what would otherwise be coming to them. Don’t know which is worse ... that the leadership of those other towns would agree to such a corrupt bargain or that the leadership of Watauga County would think up such a corrupt bargain and peddle it to the other towns, while the working-class town of Boone gets screwed to the tune of $2 million because of Miller’s eager water-carrying for the Templeton family.

Kellen Moore got one thing wrong when she wrote these words: “...the county is asking the other local towns to support its threat...” [emphasis added].

“The county” hasn’t done anything. Nathan Miller has done it all by himself. There has never been a discussion in a commissioners’ meeting about any of this, so there also hasn’t been a vote. I reject the notion that Nathan Miller is now “the county,” though evidently he’s quite comfortable acting as though it were so.

A vote on the Watauga County Commission will eventually have to happen, at which time all eyes will be on Mr. Perry Yates, a new member of the County Commission, the husband of the Chair of the Republican Party, and the son-in-law of Mr. Phil Templeton. Will he vote to punish the town for requiring his father-in-law to go through a normal permitting process? Will he vote with Nathan Miller, thus groping through the heavy fog of family loyalties to arrive at a gigantic and public conflict of interest? Will he give up any claim he might have had to statesmanlike integrity, or will he recuse himself as he should?

The answer already seems to have been handed to him, since his wife, Phil Templeton’s daughter and the chairwoman of the Watauga County Republican Party, has been sending out email appeals to her party to write her husband and the other commissioners urging them to punish Boone, punish Boone, punish Boone.

And why did the other towns snap so fast at Nathan Miller’s tainted bait? Lawyer Four Eggers is Nathan Miller’s lawyer on the County Commission; he’s also Beech Mountain’s attorney. Allen Moseley represents the Templetons; he’s also Blowing Rock’s attorney.

There’s enough incest right there for several Sunday sermons.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Tea Party "Utopia" Is North Carolina's Dystopia

Art Pope
"With no remaining checks to Republican rule in North Carolina, the state has now become a haven for some of the most ideological — and ill-considered — tea party fantasies dressed up as legislation." All at the behest of millionaire puppet-master, Art Pope, now budget director to Governor McCrory.

The long list of radical legislation now moving in the General Assembly in Raleigh has been designed to dismantle every progressive feature of North Carolina.

What has it gotten us go far? Republicans haven't just taken control of the budget. They've had control for two years. Recall that they passed their own budget over the governor's veto in 2011. And what has all that Republican wisdom gotten us? Higher unemployment, for one thing. They preached jobs, jobs, jobs, like a hypnotist cooing "Sleep now, sleep, sleeeeeep," and meanwhile the state's lost jobs, and the Republican radicals in the General Assembly, with McCrory's assent, tightened access to unemployment benefits.

That's the Tea Party "utopia" in a nutshell.

Monday, April 08, 2013

NC GOP: "Bad for Business"

Thomas Mills, on PoliticsNC.com:
...the national opinion of North Carolina is shifting from that of an enlightened state with a healthy business climate and high quality of life to that of a backwater led by narrow-minded, mean-spirited clowns.

"Soucek Did Not Return Calls and an Email Seeking Comment"

Waiting for someone to tell him what to say?

About this atrocity.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Symm v. U.S.

Good background on the Supreme Court case that led to the ruling that every college student is entitled to vote where he/she goes to college.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Time Out, While We Beam with Pride

Charles Pierce in Esquire:

I have a number of very close friends in North Carolina whom I love dearly, so I ask this in all Christian charity. 
Whom did you people elect? The people with the brightest bulbs for a nose? The people with the biggest, floppiest shoes? Does every member of the Republican majority in your legislature all arrive at work every morning in the same tiny car? First, we had the We-Can-Establish-A-State-Religion bill, and then we had the Tax-Yo-Mama-If-You-Vote-Obama bill. Caligula would be ashamed to bring his horse before these people for a vote....
Kevin Siers, in the Charlotte Observer, April 4, 2013

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Republicans' Voter Photo ID Bill Will Expand State Bureauracy

Republican Speaker of the NC House Thom Tillis, this morning in Raleigh:

We're going to need a new department of state government, with 14 employees, to implement our plans for a voter photo ID law, which will "restore some measure of confidence," which Mr. Tillis and his fellow Republican radicals have labored for years to destroy, manufacturing mythical fears about illegals voting, in order to drive opinion polls toward requiring this totally unnecessary further hurdle to ballot access.

And, of yeah, it's going to cost you if you don't have the necessary photo ID. I see a constitutional lawsuit in all our futures!

More Bad Air Blowing from the NC Gen'l Assembly

Senate Bill 3, passed back in the General Assembly's salad days of 2007, established requirements for utility companies to acquire a growing percentage of their power from renewable sources (a "growing percentage" which is still a tiny fraction of the generated power). Senate Bill 3 made North Carolina the first state in the Southeast to adopt a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.

The New Republican Radicals hate renewable energy and are busy repealing Senate Bill 3. Yesterday, in a NC House Commerce subcommittee, the repeal was approved on a 11-10 vote which was not -- surprise! -- totally party-line. Rep. Ruth Samuelson of Mecklenburg and Rep. Tom Murry of Wake County broke with their Republican brethren and voted against the repeal.

This came after two hours of testimony from a coalition of environmentalists and hog farmers (hog farmers!) and solar developers and small farmers who have experienced economic development opportunities because of Senate Bill 3.

Renewable energy -- and the 2007 initiative that mandates that the big power companies buy it from producers -- has meant real economic benefits for particularly rural counties in North Carolina. But that means jobs, and this General Assembly is much more interested in privatizing education, declaring a state religion, and preventing college students from voting.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

How To Stop College Students from Voting: Penalize Their Parents

Another Day-After-April-Fools joke from the Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly ... a new proposed law to take away parents' rights to list college students as dependents if those same students should dare to register to vote where they're in school.

I ain't kiddin'.

Laura Leslie points out that this law is really aimed squarely at Watauga and Orange counties.

And if that doesn't do enough to eliminate the youth vote, then another provision in the bill should:
The bill would also require voters to have their vehicles registered at the same address as their voter registration. That could also cut down on college student registration, since many students maintain their vehicle registration in their home counties.
Why don't the Republicans just go ahead and pass a single omnibus law that says, once and for all, that only registered Republicans who pass the "Are You Sufficiently Conservative Test?" are allowed to vote in the state of North Carolina.

They obviously realize that they can't win on their merits. They can only stay in power by illegitimate manipulation of ballot access and outright voter suppression.

O Goody! When NC Establishes a State Religion, Can I Be High Priest?

We would have suspected an April Fool's joke, but House Joint Resolution 494 was filed on April 2, so we guess The Honorables are as serious as a heart attack:

The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.
And guess who's a co-sponsor of this appalling piece of sapience, which seeks to overturn the Bill of Rights and a couple of hundred years of judicial wisdom about forcing their goddamn religion on other folks....

Yep. Jonathan Jordan.

Along with Carl Ford and Harry Warren of Rowan County, chief sponsors (and you can read the background on how Rowan County is this unbelieveably beleaguered Christian bunker holding out for Christ against improbable odds), and Justin Burr, Jeff Collins, Debra Conrad, Bert Jones, Allen McNeill, Larry Pittman (who wants to execute abortion doctors), Michele Presnell, Edgar Starnes (who also thinks that voting on Sundays is of the devil), and Chris Whtmire.

Maybe some of these are actually good people and wouldn't kick a dog. I don't know. But they're trying to do bad things to this state (not to mention to our founding principles and documents).

Sen. Dan Soucek Files a Bill

We'd dearly like to know what's behind S719, filed by Senator Dan Soucek in the North Carolina General Assembly yesterday, or even an explanation of what it means.

Here it is in its entirety:

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts: 
SECTION 1. Part 3 of Article 1 of Chapter 116 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:
"§ 116-40.12. Student organizations; rights and recognition.
(a) To the extent allowed by State and federal law, a student organization may determine that ordering the organization's internal affairs, selecting the organization's leaders, defining the organization's doctrines, and resolving the organization's disputes are in furtherance of the organization's mission and that only persons committed to that mission should conduct such activities.
(b) No constituent institution that has granted recognition of and access to any student organization or group shall discriminate against any such student organization or group that exercises its rights pursuant to subsection (a) of this section."
SECTION 2. This act is effective when it becomes law.
Sounds like some "special pleading" for some "special interest."

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Divorce Equivalent of Vaginal Probing

Are we finally past the time that Republicans can get away with saying (with a straight face) that they're for small government?

Vaginal probes for women. State control over cities. And now Sen. Austin Allran of Hickory and Sen. Warren Daniel of Morganton want to make you wait two years before you get a divorce AND complete courses on improving communications skills and conflict resolution.

Smaller government? Naw. More intrusive government of the pecksniffian variety. Moralizing, judgmental, we-know-best government that will only add to the Republicans' rich potential for hypocrisy and scandal. New Puritans with old habits.

What's next? Shall we bring back trials for witchcraft, or is that too tame for these modern Torquemadas?