Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Guv Clears His Throat (Again)

Governor Squishy is becoming more outspoken about the radical extremists in his own party who are calling the shots in the NC General Assembly. He's speaking out against the sales tax redistribution scheme, calling it "class warfare" and even comparing its promoters to John Edwards. Ouch.

He sees no point, he avers, to the "religious freedom protection act" either. “It makes no sense,” he said. “What is the problem they’re trying to solve?”

And he was pretty strong in criticizing the bill being pushed by Sen. Phil Berger to allow magistrates to opt out of their oaths of office in order not to perform gay marriages. "At this time, I would not sign it the way it's written because ... I don't think you should have an exemption or a carve-out when you swore an oath to the constitution of North Carolina or to the Constitution of the United States of America," McCrory said.

Watch out for the waffle words, folks. "I would not sign it" is a good distance from "I will veto it." He's taken the "I won't sign" route before, but in North Carolina, when a governor doesn't sign a bill it becomes law anyway. Not signing is just cowardice. A strong veto would signal that he has indeed learned a few lessons about standing up to the radical right in his own party ... with his reelection looming.

Source for quotes above: News&Observer and WRAL.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Right To Discriminate, Coming to North Carolina

2015 "newspeak": "Religious freedom" = "The right to discriminate against others"

Hattip Chad Nance of The Camel City Dispatch

"Newspeak" (Wikipedia): Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as "thoughtcrime."

Two different clones of the Indiana "religious freedom" law have been introduced in the General Assembly in Raleigh. One or both of them will pass at least the Senate and probably the House. Will Pat McCrory have the intestinal fortitude to veto? Anything is possible, perhaps, but it doesn't really matter what McCrory does. North Carolina's lawmakers will institute a whole new era of Jim Crow just ahead of or in tandem with the Supreme Court's expected decision regarding gay marriage.

What do we think of a highly "Christian" state of the union which feels that it must be empowered by government to treat a class of people as less than human? What do we think of the "Christian" members of the NC General Assembly who want to unleash and empower this hatred and divisiveness?

From such turn away (2 Timothy 3:5). "People, what are you doing? We are humans too, just like you! We are proclaiming the good news to you: turn to the living God and away from such worthless things. He made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them" (Acts 14:15).

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Designer of Sales Tax Redistribution Law Admits He Didn't Understand His Own Bill

Sen. Harry Brown
We got the leadership in Raleigh that we deserve, North Carolina! Or at least the leadership that happens when sane people don't vote.

Senator Harry Brown (R, Dumbasfuckistan), the member of the General Assembly pushing the redistribution of sales tax revenue, just reacted with surprise when informed that his scheme will leave some of the state's major cities -- and our primary economic engines -- "with multimillion-dollar budget gaps."

From last night's posting on the Raleigh News & Observer:

"...few understood that language in the legislation would cause about half of North Carolina’s cities and towns to lose money.
"Brown, a Jacksonville Republican, acknowledged Friday that he is among them."
Way to write that law, Sherlock! But not to worry:
"On Friday, Brown said those projections represent unintended consequences, and he plans to revise the bill to ensure that cities and towns see revenue changes that largely mirror that of the counties they are a part of."
The government of "unintended consequences"! We've finally arrived, North Carolina! It's just anybody's guess where here is.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Senator Soucek Gets Jiggy With Graven Images

Every state of the Union gets two statues in the famous Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. North Carolina's two honorees are currently former governors Zebulon Vance and Charles B. Aycock.

Zeb Vance was a big slave-owner and a Confederate military officer. Aycock was a big proponent of public education and a major segregationist. At the moment, Aycock's reputation is under a cloud, though why Aycock is now singled out -- and Zeb Vance isn't -- for having his statue thrown out of Statuary Hall is an interesting case of political opportunity and egregious ass-kissing.

And who's puckered up to kiss major ass? Senator Dan Soucek.

'Cause Senator Dan wants a statue of Rev. Billy Graham to replace former Gov. Charles B. Aycock in Statuary Hall in DeeCee. No kidding. Soucek told John Newsom that his "ah-ha!" moment came while visiting Statuary Hall with a constituent who told Soucek about Aycock's white supremacist past.


Isn't Soucek employed by Billy Graham's son Franklin Graham at Samaritan's Purse? According to the Republican NC Caucus, he is, since 2004. Did Franklin Graham put Soucek up to this? Soucek told Newsom that "another constituent" made the suggestion. Another constituent with private jets and deep pockets, who pays Soucek's salary?

From which naked toadying we turn away in embarrassment, leaving the historical, architectural, and cultural heap of Soucek's wreckage for others to unpack at their leisure.

This Week in "Eff You!" Government

Sen. Ralph Hise
A trio of Republican members of the NC Senate don't like Raleigh or the governor or public parks, so they've introduced a bill to set aside the $52 million deal that McCrory negotiated with the city of Raleigh to turn the Dorothea Dix property into a public park. The three senators -- Louis Pate, Ralph Hise and Tommy Tucker -- want the property sold to the highest bidder, with the minimum acceptable bid set at $52 million. Eff you, Guv, and double eff you, city of Raleigh, and eff you to infinity, lovers of public parks.

Another Republican trio in the NC Senate --Shirley Randleman, Joyce Krawiec, and Warren Daniel -- introduced a bill imposing more restrictions on abortion and on the doctors performing them. Eff you, pro-choice women.

A third Republican trio in the NC Senate -- Jerry Tillman, Bob Rucho, and Bob Rabon -- introduced another round of tax cuts that will disproportionately benefit the very wealthy and profitable corporations and pile on another $1 billion revenue shortfall to the revenue shortfall NC is already experiencing from the 2013 tax cuts for the rich. “We need to get below South Carolina, which this bill will do,” said the unintentionally hilarious Sen. Tillman. Sen. Rucho said "the details of how the state would deal with the reduced revenue have not been worked out." Eff you, schools and people who depend upon the social safety net, because you shall surely suffer.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pat McCrory Clears His Throat

Our governor had been dropping oblique hints in public that he's in a full-scale feud with conservative ideologue Phil Berger, dictator of the NC Senate, but now The Guv is completely out of the closet: "McCrory Slams Senate Sales Tax Bill" (the redistribution scheme which will hurt Watauga County and which is mentioned down-column).

Feuds can be fun to watch from the sidelines, which is definitely where Democrats live currently in North Carolina.

McCrory can take to stamping his feet too (those famous stepping-on-toes feet!), but he's no match for Boss Hogg, unless ... unless Speaker of the NC House Tim Moore joins forces with the governor and kills the Senate bill in the House. Which could happen.

Hell, pigs might fly in this "Raleigh of Republican Rule."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

S369 Will Hurt Watauga, Help Boone

Soucek & Jordan. Photo Watauga
Last post down-column was about a sales tax redistribution scheme arising now out of the NC Senate which would pick winners and losers among North Carolina towns and counties.

Guess what? Watauga County will be one of eight counties in the state that will lose money. Guess what else? The law as written will also take away one of the play-toys that Nathan Miller loved so much -- the ability of a county commission to distribute sales tax receipts on the basis of property values rather than population. If you recall, Mr. Miller as Chair of the Watauga County Commission decided to punish Boone by changing the distribution to ad valorem (property values). Under this law, the system should revert to population, which will benefit Boone.

Wonder how Sen. Dan Soucek and Rep. Jonathan Jordan will vote on S369. Soucek does not buck the big boys in the Senate, so we expect he'll vote against the economic interests of his own county (and inadvertently for the economic interests of its largest town, which he has otherwise been happy to torture). And Jordan? This legislative scheme is still a ways from raising its head in the House, but Jordan is also not a step-out-of-line sort of guy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

If It Comes From the NC Senate, Better Brace Yourself

"Eff You Government" continues apace in North Carolina, with Republicans in the NC Senate coming up with yet a new way to punish our cities ... a new sales tax distribution scheme designed to pick winners and losers.

If The Honorables really cared at all about "reforming" sales tax distribution, they would structure something that would not make "losers" of some municipalities for the benefit of others. But they are driven first by a thirst for political revenge.

They like punishing people far more than they like anything positive.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Best Little Whorehouse in North Carolina

The Republicans in the General Assembly are handing out appointments -- or in several cases, reappointments -- to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors (BOG) this week. They have a small variety of human-type persons to choose from: big-dollar donors to political campaigns.

Research by DemocracyNC (published by NC Policy Watch) turned up this: The 30 people "vying for appointment" to the board -- or their family members -- have given more than $1 million to state campaign accounts since 2007. The current chair of the BOG, John Fennebresque, and his wife gave more than $260,000. (He's the guy who gave the disastrous press conference after the BOG fired UNC President Tom Ross for purely political reasons.)

Not for merit, not for an interest in higher education, not for a passion for excellence in learning in North Carolina ... but for filthy lucre these appointments are being made. Pay to play.

You are currently watching the slow-motion destruction of a formerly celebrated university system and economic engine for the entire state.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

This Week in "Eff You!" Government

Yes, the honorables convened in Raleigh right now are still pursuing what we've come to think of as "eff you" government ... "eff you!" teachers and schools! "Eff you!" cities and towns! "Eff you!" you mother-effing environmentalists!

It's hard to keep up:

1. The last small protection for homeowners -- protest petitions in zoning cases -- is about to be eliminated from North Carolina law, where it's provided a tiny last-ditch shield for some neighborhoods encroached on by high-dollar, big-muscle bullies. "Eff you! neighborhoods."

2. On Monday Governor Squishy signed a law repealing a statutory requirement for air pollution rules for fracking operations, opening the door for the immediate issuance of licenses to gas exploration in the state. "Eff you! water-drinkers."

3. Also on Monday, after a three-judge panel ruled in favor of McCrory in his separation-of-powers lawsuit against the legislature, that same legislature (well, its Republican overlords) decided in retaliation that it will confirm no executive branch appointments until it gets its way. "Eff you! Governor Squishy." (It's unusual that I'm taking up for our sadly befuddled chief executive, but these are unusual times.)

4. The scheme to steal Wake County commissioner elections back for Republicans is now in the NC House, after the NC Senate passed it in record time. "Eff you! Wake County voters."

5. Sen. Bill Rabon introduced a "local bill" to eliminate the office of Coroner in Brunswick County, an elected official who has somehow offended Sen. Rabon. “My position is a county position, elected by the people of Brunswick County,” Coroner Greg White said. “What I have learned is that Mr. Rabon did not have any conversation with county officials, the county manager or the county attorney. County officials had no say, had no input into this matter, which I think is disrespectful to them.” "Eff you! Brunswick County voters."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

NC GOP Promises on Teacher Pay = Hot Air

An intercepted press release:

RALEIGH -- State-by-state teacher pay rankings released on Wednesday show that North Carolina still ranks near the bottom of the nation, and that Republican claims about last year’s education budget were nothing but election-year misinformation.

According to teacher pay data for the 2014-15 school year, North Carolina’s average teacher salary ranks 42nd in the country at nearly $10,000 below the national average. That’s a stark contrast to claims made by lawmakers such as Sen. Phil Berger, who promised that the General Assembly’s education budget last year would raise North Carolina teacher pay to 32nd in the country.

Of course, Berger also falsely claimed that his budget provided “the largest teacher pay raise in state history.” This claim was proven to be completely false almost as soon as it was made, but that didn’t stop Republican candidates from parroting the misinformation in order to win votes.

“Republican lawmakers are willing to say anything to make parents and voters think they support public education, but they’re still unwilling to make a genuine commitment to raising teacher pay to the national average,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action. “False claims and bogus budget gimmicks will do nothing to stem the tide of teachers leaving North Carolina for states with better pay, and we hope for our children’s sake that lawmakers figure that out before it’s too late.”

The teacher pay data also shows that North Carolina had the lowest per-student education spending in the southeast at $8,620. The data also shows that from 2003-04 to 2013-14, North Carolina’s average teacher salary declined 17.4% -- more than any other state in the country.

North Carolina’s dismal ranking in teacher pay comes on the heels of Gov. Pat McCrory’s 2015-16 budget proposal, which would not give any pay raise to a whopping two-thirds of public school teachers. And the governor’s and legislature’s poor commitment to public schools has the Houston Independent School District once again luring North Carolina teachers to Texas with another job fair on Saturday, March 21 in Greensboro.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Clown College Can't Get Anything Right!

Another three-judge panel -- this one with two Republicans and one Democrat -- just ruled unanimously today that the North Carolina General Assembly (by which we mean the Republicans in the NCGA) exceeded their authority when enacting laws empowering themselves to make appointments to the state coal ash cleanup and fracking commissions.

Anyone keeping a running count on how many laws passed by the Republicans in Raleigh are now ruled unconstitutional or have stays on them?

Friday, March 13, 2015

When Is a Tax Cut NOT a Tax Cut? When It's in North Carolina

The "news" is beginning to catch up with the facts, that the much ballyhooed "tax cuts" engineered by the Republican overlords in Raleigh are actually turning out to be tax hikes for many in the middle class. Welcome to reality, suckas!

From the News & Observer today:
The new changes involve tax cuts that favor high earners and corporations. North Carolina’s economy is recovering along with the nation’s economy, but there’s no sign of corporations racing to relocate to North Carolina or wealthy “job creators” creating jobs. Much of the corporate savings went to shareholders, many of them out of state. Rich people put their tax savings in the bank next to the bundle they’ve made off a record-setting stock market.
Meanwhile, tax revenues are running below projections, the state is struggling to meet basic education needs, most state employees apparently will go another year without a raise and many retired people are discovering that the tax cuts are a tax hike. The changes reduced exemptions for pensions and eliminated the deduction for medical expenses. As they do their taxes this spring, seniors are howling when they reach the bottom line.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The Return of "Four" Eggers

Photo by Lonnie Webster
Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four"), who was outed by the Winston-Salem Journal in September of 2013 as the puppet-master behind the Republican-dominated Watauga County Board of Elections (BOE) -- and the author of its policies and procedures and of the correspondence that went to the State Board of Elections under his brother Luke's name -- made a sudden appearance at the special meeting of the Watauga BOE Thursday evening.

Brother Luke Eggers, who is the putative chair of the BOE, said his brother was there in his official capacity as Watauga County Attorney. Everyone in the audience thought he was there to make sure that Republicans win the municipal elections of 2015 and the general elections of 2016, by whatever means necessary.

Four Eggers is also on the Executive Committee of the Watauga County Republican Party, and it's clear that he's had a heavy hand in the picking of a former chair of the Watauga GOP as the new Elections Director to replace the retiring Jane Ann Hodges.

It was Four Eggers who made it his project to force the fair and impartial Jane Ann Hodges into retirement. That particular project included the rewriting of Director Hodges' job description in August of 2013, which included new harassment: she was not to receive visitors or phone calls that were not logged; she was not to be alone in the office without other staff people; she was not to offer her opinion -- an opinion based on 29 years of non-partisan election experience -- at BOE meetings, unless directly asked by the newly appointed young men who had zero election experience.

Jane Ann Hodges has said that she is retiring for the sake of her health. The strain has become too great. And she's said about leaving a job she loves and does well.

Four Eggers engineered the end of Jane Ann Hodges' career, and he used his younger brother as a willing pawn. Four was there Thursday night to make sure nothing went wrong with the installation of a political hack to replace Jane Ann Hodges.

It is the last piece of the puzzle that Four Eggers has been assembling since Pat McCrory moved into the governor's mansion in Raleigh and every Board of Election in the state changed hands. It was Four who proposed the "mega-precinct" in Boone that would have combined three Boone precincts into one, containing most of the students at Appalachian State University (that scheme got shot down in Raleigh). It was Four who decreed that there would no longer be Early Voting on the ASU campus (that scheme was shot down by a Superior Court Judge in Wake County). It was Four who decided that the largest urban precinct in Boone -- New River III -- should be moved way out to the farthest corner of the precinct, miles from town, to a polling place not serviced by Appal Cart.

Now Four will get his highly partisan Elections Director, and no one with any sense or a scintilla of awareness of what's been going on will ever trust another election outcome in Watauga County again.

Ask Yourself This
If the shoe were on another hoof altogether -- if a Democratic governor were in the brick mansion in Raleigh and if a Democratic majority on the Watauga BOE had the power and appointed as Elections Director a former chair of their party, not to mention a highly partisan political operative -- Republicans would just sit back and say, "Oh, well, guess we have to accept what they do, because that's just the way it is"?

If you don't want political nuclear winter, don't keep spilling radioactive acid.

This Is the Man That Eggers&Aceto Will Hire To Run Watauga Elections

Former GOP Chair (& soon-to-be Elections Director) Matt Snyder
Matt Snyder, past chair of the Watauga GOP, who was pictured in the High Country Press (photo by Lonnie Webster) in March 2014, pushing his partisan opinion that there should be no early voting on the ASU campus.

Did I mention "past chair of the Watauga GOP"?

So the director of the local Board of Elections to replace the fair and impartial Jane Ann Hodges will be a highly partisan political operative who likes getting in people's faces. Why are we not surprised?

Snyder's name was announced by Luke Eggers at the Watauga Board of Elections special meeting this evening. Luke allowed as how he "had been thinking" about a replacement for Director Hodges, and he listed a number of qualifications he had thought about:
a director should be organized
a director should be good with numbers
a director should be able to "put together many things" (model airplanes?)
That was it -- Luke Eggers' job description for the new Director of Elections. Experience? No. Non-partisanship? Absolutely not.

Bill Aceto had no recommendation, making it perfectly clear that he and Eggers had already decided on their guy. As it turned out, Democratic member of the BOE, Kathleen Campbell, came armed with some nine other applications, one of those Republican activist Deborah Greene, whom I would absolutely trust with Watauga County elections. I would. She's incorruptible.

Campbell argued with Eggers and Aceto that there should be a job listing and at least a state-wide search for an experienced elections professional. Eggers and Aceto were having none of that. No, they've had their partisan tool in mind now for weeks.

During public comment, Deborah Greene pointed out that the county website doesn't even list a job opening. Why is that?

Other speakers urged the board to be professional. "Don't make this a partisan appointment," said one speaker.

The presence of Luke Eggers' older brother and ghost writer Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four") also drew comment. He has never before, since the advent of Eggers & Aceto, attended a board meeting, and suddenly he was there in his official capacity as county attorney. It was a bit embarrassing, since Four was very publicly outed as his little brother's puppet-master, and it seemed this evening that Luke felt he needed some legal backup.

They didn't vote to install Snyder. They couldn't, because their published agenda for this special meeting did not include an item for action. They'll appoint him at April's meeting, ignoring any other applications and refusing to do a search or even publish a job description.

Someone in the audience at today's meeting said (a great understatement), "They don't even try to cover up what they're doing."

They've got the power. They intend to politicize the Watauga County Board of Elections in ways none of us could have predicted even last year. Who will trust an election outcome in this county in 2016?

Another Republican Assault on City Neighborhoods

Jonathan Jordan
Since 1923, North Carolina zoning law allows for "protest petitions," the right of neighbors to protest a rezoning decision if their property is within 100 feet of a planned development for which a rezoning decision is sought.

House Bill 201 would end that right, and Rep. Jonathan Jordan is a proud co-sponsor, because he loves the rights of citizens so much.

Protest petitions do not necessarily squelch development, but if enough neighbors protest, then a super-majority of city council members are required to pass a rezoning. A protest petition is a red flag, in other words, for people in charge to pay particular and close attention to what's being done to a neighborhood.

A 49,000-sq.-ft. Publix store was proposed for a larger shopping center in a north Raleigh neighborhood. A protest petition by the neighborhood -- signed by some 2,000 residents -- triggered the super-majority requirement on the Raleigh City Council. "I daresay no one objects to Publix opening a store in north Raleigh," a citizen leading the protest said. "We oppose rezoning, and this out-of-town developer's efforts to reshape the landscape for their own financial gain with no regard for the thousands of hours (and tax dollars) that went into Raleigh's 2030 Comprehensive Plan, and the people who trusted it."

So what? When 2,000 established residents are up against a major corporation, Republicans like Jonathan Jordan are going to side with the corporation. Every time. Because they love freedom so much.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

McCrory Lawyers Up About Ethical Lapses

Asked by a reporter about his numerous failures to list various financial interests and expensive gifts on his disclosure filings since taking office, required by law, the governor said his “chief legal counsel” would be answering for him.

Cat got his tongue.

Taxpayers Who Matter, Unlike the Rest of You, Who Don't

The Great Flat-Taxing of North Carolina is producing heat for the Republican General Assembly, but there's only one brand of heat that gets action from The Honorables and that's old people heat. The Great Flat-Taxing threw out tax deductions of all varieties, but throwing out medical deductions has gotten older voters exercised, and the thing about older voters is they vote. And as there's been no concerted effort in Raleigh to suppress their vote, they're particularly dangerous to incumbents, like no other voting bloc.

So quicker'n you can say "my baloney has a first name," the House Aging Committee will meet at 11 a.m. to quickly begin correctional action -- a bill that would restore the state tax deduction for older residents' medical expenses.

Now that's power.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

NC GOP Job Listing: "McCrory-Touter Wanted"

According to tea party blogger Brant Clifton, Claude Pope, Chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, has been shown the door by Governor McCrory because "he did not do nearly enough to tout McCrory and his agenda."

The Republican "establishment" is apparently pushing Craig Collins, who is tight with Congressman Patrick McHenry and currently holds the position as Chair of the 10th Congressional District, to take over the state party.

There will be rivals. Ultra-conservative ones.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Mike Hager Tried To Pull a Fast One for the Frackers

Mike Hager
It was a little "innocent" sentence tucked inside a "technical correction" bill, but it was far from innocent. It would have lifted air pollution rules at fracking sites around the state. Air emissions from fracking have been linked to health effects including respiratory problems, birth defects, blood disorders, cancers, and neurological issues.

NC House Republican Majority Leader Mike Hager (R-Rutherford) did the dirty deed, and it shouldn't surprise anyone to discover that he's also the top recipient of oil and gas contributions in all of North Carolina state politics. At least he was in the most recent election cycle. 

Hager is also a former employee of Duke Energy and perhaps the biggest enemy of renewable energy in the General Assembly. He led the effort to kill the state's renewable energy standard, calling it an "entitlement program."

But back to the "technical correction" bill that would have sneaked in a provision lifting air pollution rules for frackers. It passed its first reading in the House 108-6, but then environmental groups sounded the alarm. It failed its second reading 41-77, with 33 Republicans voting against it, an unprecedented comeuppance for the Republican Majority Leader.

Not that 33 House Republicans are suddenly born-again environmentalists. No, many of them are saying, "Oh, we'll pass that amendment in due course. We just didn't like the underhanded way Mike Hager was trying to do it. We're fully capable of unleashing the fracking industry in an open-handed way!"

Thursday, March 05, 2015

GOP Lost Wake County in 2014. Their Outrageous Plan To Get It Back

Chad Barefoot
Trudy Wade-ism is now coming to Wake County.

To recap, Guildford County Republican Senator Trudy Wade recently introduced a "local bill" to rewrite local election rules in Greensboro so that Republicans can win elections there (because otherwise they weren't winning elections there).

Now comes Republican Chad Barefoot of Wake County. He introduced S181 to rewrite election rules in Wake County so that Republicans can take back the County Commission, which they lost overwhelmingly in last fall's election.

I don't know why Republicans in the General Assembly don't just save time and declare that Democrats are ineligible for any office anywhere. Could that possibly be any more blatant and transparent than these constant manipulations of ballot access and voter suppression?

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Keven Siers, Charlotte Observer

Watauga Board of Elections About To Get Even More Partisan

Heads up, Watauga County! Below are three documents showing steps the Republican majority on the Watauga County Board of Elections have taken to install "their boy" in the Elections Director position that Jane Ann Hodges is resigning from, after two years of harassment meant to drive her away. The third document below is the published "Agenda" for next Thursday's meeting. Please note item # 4, "Director Recommendation."

Their very obvious plan is to suddenly spring on us all a big surprise, and we think that will be a political operative put into a job that has been managed in a fair and open way by Jane Ann Hodges. This is being done with no advertising of a job opening and with no official search for a competent and non-partisan elections director. They had their guy picked out two years ago and intend to install him now.

Bill Aceto and Luke Eggers never stop with the shady moves. Only now, they intend to cast the results in every election going forward under a huge cloud. Who will possibly trust that elections in Watauga County are true and just?

Headline of the Week

Appears today in the Greensboro News&Record:
McCrory: State should stay out of local government
He offered that opinion when asked about Sen. Trudy Wade's "local bill" to completely overhaul the Greensboro City Council so that Republicans can win elections there.

“Let me put it this way," McCrory said. "As governor I constantly have to fight Washington not to interfere. I think the same philosophy applies to Raleigh interfering with local governments.”

Ya think?

There are two many examples to list here, including the Soucek/Jordan "local bill" to take away Boone's extraterritorial control over development. But as with Soucek/Jordan, the Trudy Wade dismantlement of Greensboro City Council is beyond the governor's control anyway, so it's perfectly safe for him to have an opinion that will be totally ignored by his fellow Republicans in the General Assembly. The governor can't approve or veto a "local bill."

Why doesn't the governor get himself a contrary opinion about something he does have some (minimal) control over?

Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous and the Lapsed Ethics of Our Governor

Since taking office, Gov. Pat McCrory has failed to disclose six-figure payouts from a company (Tree.com)  that is regulated by the state, and he similarly failed to disclose thousands of dollars worth of stock holdings from a company (Duke Energy) under federal indictment for polluting our state’s rivers. An ethics complaint against him appears to be advancing as of yesterday morning, according to the N&O.

Today another "failure to disclose" has emerged. The governor took a number of luxury trips to hang out with fellow pooh-bahs in the Republican Governors Association, paid for by the Republican Governors Association. According to state ethics laws, unless the governor paid for those trips himself, he must list those trips as "gifts" under question 17 of the Statement of Economic Interest form. He did not list those trips anywhere. The governor now admits -- once the whistle was blown -- that he should have listed those trips as gifts. Oops. "How clumsy of me!" said the governor who claims that he loves stepping on toes.

Trips? Read on:

In November 2013, the RGA paid for Gov. McCrory’s stay at an Arizona resort featured on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” with rooms starting at $400 per night. The five-star resort features marble imported from Italy, ceilings etched in 24-karat gold, 11 rare Steinway pianos, and a “lush tropical landscape” manicured by workers from the island kingdom of Tonga. The Raleigh News & Observer reported that the RGA also paid for McCrory’s stays at luxury hotels in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Charleston, South Carolina, in May and September of 2013. Gov. McCrory also attended an RGA junket in 2014, held at a 356-acre resort in Boca Raton, Florida, with “a spa built to resemble the Alhambra Palace in Spain” and rooms which start at over $300 per night. 

But McCrory never reported these free trips as gifts.

It's so hard keeping up with the pelf.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Has It Sunk in Yet That Your NC Income Taxes Went Up Under This Republican Regime?

His Holiness
Plenty of people are talking about how their NC income taxes have gone up under the management of those rosy-cheeked fake "tax-cutters" down in Raleigh, and now the talk is beginning to get into local newspapers. ProgressNC has begun to compile some of those explosions of anger.

Over at the WataugaConservative, Dickson commented:
"If you're in the middle-class in NC, the GOP have done nothing for you. Well... nothing good anyway, nothing to truly better your life. You've likely noticed that your State taxes went up this year... yours went up, not because of GOP changes to the tax rate, but because they hacked off many, many deductions... including the earned income tax credit."
Did they notice? Have they done their state taxes yet? Not that the masturbatory crowd at Watauga Conservative would ever admit it if they did notice.

Gas Tax Increase Bill Just Passed the NC House Finance Committee

The Committee considering S20 in the House would not record the ayes and nays this morning -- indicating that the Republicans did not want to be on the record on this vote. The voice vote was in the affirmative, according to the Chair of the committee, but people in the room said it sounded very close.

What's S20?

First, it's smoke and mirrors regarding the gas tax ... a small cut that will last a few months, followed by increases that will raise $1 billion in new taxes during the next few years. This has been dubbed a "Trojan Horse" bill.

But what else is in the bill?

Two really bad things ...

(1) A section in S20 would also eliminate the income tax deduction for tuition expenses, which amounts to a tax hike on college students.

(2) The worst provision by far: The bill would count underwater mortgages that are forgiven by lenders as taxable income. Homeowners who had their mortgages "written down" will never see a dime of that “income,” but lawmakers still want them to pay taxes on it.

This comes, naturally, out of overall fiscal mismanagement. Republicans in the General Assembly are now desperate for revenue, having given big tax breaks to the wealthiest citizens and corporations, so they are picking on groups they calculate won't or can't fight back ... college students (and their parents) and underwater mortgage-holders.

NOTE: Another really bad provision in S20, which would have meant the firing of some 500 DOT workers, got removed this morning in the House Finance Committee. But this bill is also headed to the Appropriations Committee in the House this afternoon and finally to the full House later this week, and whatever emerges will have to be reconciled with the Senate's much more savage version.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Pressure on UNC Chancellor To Defy BOG

An editorial in The Daily Tarheel today, titled appropriately "Power concedes nothing without a demand," calls on UNC-CH Chancellor Carol Folt to defy the power-mad Republican Board of Governors and simply refuse to dissolve the Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity:
...Chancellor, if you take the lead in defending academic liberty and those who dare critique the state’s conservative power structure, your students and colleagues will follow you. Conflicts this fundamental to the University’s mission are not meant to be managed — they are meant to be won.
She won't stand up to the Board of Governors, of course, at least not in the manner that would satisfy a stirred-up student body, but she should at least appreciate the fighting spirit around her, even if she can't find it in her heart.

An Announced Candidate for NC House

Lew Hendricks has a website up saying he's a candidate for NC House.

No indication of party affiliation on this website, and no discussion of any issues.

There is a Lewis Hendricks registered in Watauga County. He's registered Republican.