Thursday, June 30, 2016

McCrory Gets Boone Book-Banner Confirmed for State Board of Education

What we need on the state Board of Education is an avid book-banner! We've said that for years, yet it took Governor Squishy to finally step up to the plate and appoint Todd Chasteen of Samaritan's Purse.

You'll be forgiven for failing to remember that Chasteen was a leading community force in trying to ban Isabel Allende's "House of the Spirits" from English honors classes early in 2014.

Chasteen's appointment sailed through the General Assembly today with only one dissenting vote.

Both Chasteen and Senator Deanna Ballard, who introduced him to the joint Senate-House meeting this morning, work for Franklin Graham.

According to Lindsay Wagner, Chasteen's wife Kim "runs a private Christian school in Boone called Grace Academy. And Chasteen is a proponent of home schooling, having served as a government instructor for High Country Christian Home Schoolers. Chasteen’s bio for HCCHS says he 'has a passion to help ground and prepare our students against an onslaught of liberal views that they may face in higher education, and to be able to convey the subject matter with academic freedom.' ”

Yep. Public education in North Carolina is in good hands now!

Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer, June 29, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

AppState to Bill Aceto: "Where's the Beef?"

Bill Aceto
Recall that the Republican Chair of the Watauga County Board of Elections, Bill Aceto, wrote AppState Chancellor Sheri Everts a letter in May demanding that she not even consider suggesting the AppState Student Union as an Early Voting site this fall, because, according to Aceto, there were numerous complaints about that site. No such complaints have ever surfaced because no such complaints exist ... except in the minds of Bill Aceto and his political boss, County Attorney "Four" Eggers.

Sheri Everts has now replied to Aceto's letter. The fourth paragraph is the important one (though the final paragraph ain't no slouch in throwing down the gauntlet). Translation: Put up or shut up about complaints about the Student Union as an Early Voting site.

Bill Aceto's original letter was a bluff. Chancellor Sheri Everts has now called that bluff.

Aceto and his fellow Republican Board member Nancy Owen will be under full public inspection when the Board of Elections meets on July 12 (5 p.m., in the Commissioners Boardroom) to approve an Early Voting plan for Watauga.

Can we expect intransigence from Aceto on the subject of the ASU Student Union as an Early Voting site? You bet!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Backroom Deal on HB2 Changes Nothing

Word has arrived that the Republicans in Raleigh have proposed changes to HB2, mainly in the form of an application that a transgender citizen can fill out to get permission to use a public toilet.

That would be funny, except it's not.

The "fix" doesn’t restore any of the employment protections that HB2 abolished. Municipalities will still be unable to pass their own non-discrimination ordinances.

Hurry up, November 8!

Close Budget-Reading Underway

Apparently, the new Republican state budget gives $50,000 each to two anti-abortion pregnancy centers in Winston-Salem and Yadkinville.

Just seen on Twitter: "State money to orgs that lie to women and were found to shame/try to convert non-Christians. Call the lawyers."

Nothing this bunch in Raleigh does any more surprises us. Outrages us, but doesn't surprise.

Morning Dispatch From the Bottom of the Barrel

Pharmacist and Super Christian Bob Diamond is running for the North Carolina Senate for District 37, the Mecklenberg district currently represented by Sen. Jeff Jackson, one of the rising stars in the NC Democratic Party.

Bob Diamond, meanwhile, is a certified dick.

He recently implied that the 49 victims of the Orlando massacre deserved it:

This is the quality person the NCGOP has tapped to run against an actual good human being.

Meanwhile, what does Bob Diamond deserve?

Monday, June 27, 2016

BREAKING NEWS (With Implications for North Carolina)

(Hattip: Politico) The U.S. Supreme Court just struck two key provisions of a sweeping anti-abortion law in Texas, ruling that the state had imposed unconstitutional burdens on women's access to abortion.

Justice Anthony Kennedy sided with the court’s liberals in the 5-3 decision, the most significant abortion ruling in a generation. The decision marks the first time the court has put limits on state abortion legislation in more than 15 years.

In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a group of Texas abortion clinics challenged the state law that required health providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and perform abortions in ambulatory surgical centers.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Rep. Jonathan Jordan: More Radical Meddling in Local Governments

You know something's up when "Blogger" over at Watauga Conservative sez NC House Rep. Jonathan Jordan is in bed with the wrong people.

What's Jordan done? Introduced a bill (which has already passed the NC House) that will remove local municipalities from the approval process of big building projects. Jordan sez he wants to "level the playing field," which is Republican-speak for "unleash big developers from zoning restraints."

Boone, you awake?

According to the Watauga Democrat, "Under the bill, developers can surpass boards of adjustments and choose that appeals of zoning and building decisions be heard by Superior Court or business court if they assert that an ordinance violates federal or state constitutional law, is preemptive or presents excessive authority, violates common law or statutory vested rights or constitutes a taking of property."

If they assert. Merely.

That language would force towns like Boone to defend development regs constantly in court, purely on the basis of an assertion by Mr. Big Businessman that his rights have been violated. Republicans of Jordan's particular stripe always believe that any limits, or hoops-to-jump-through, or hindrances to their plans, are insufferable violations of personal rights, so a lawyer of Jordan's stripe ought to get plenty of business from this law.

Jordan actually introduced H483, "Land Use Regulatory Changes," in April of 2015, and it passed the House that same month with little debate. It's moving through the NC Senate now. According to the League of Municipalities, the major harms in the bill are not insignificant, particularly the usurpation of local control:
Increased litigation and litigation costs would result from the bill because it allows individuals to skip a Board of Adjustment appeal and take cases directly to Superior Court for a new and full review; protections for neighboring property owners would be weakened by a number of provisions, including by eliminating an existing legal rule that discourages continuing development during an appeal; several changes to existing performance guarantee rules could leave local taxpayers to foot the bill if infrastructure fails, and leave purchasers in the development damaged should that occur.
Big Brother has a Big Belly for meddling and for seizing local power.

There's No End to the Republican Extremism in Raleigh

Perhaps worried that their troops won't turn out in November, Republican Overlords in the NC General Assembly decided to goose right-wing voter turnout by unveiling a bill yesterday containing "a constitutional hat trick," as WRAL's Laura Leslie dubbed it -- three proposed amendments to the state constitution tucked into a single bill. All three, if approved by a three-fifths vote of both the House and the Senate, would appear on the ballot in this November's election.

One of the three, in particular, is guaranteed to rev up the know-nothings who hate everything: a so-called "taxpayer's bill of rights" (TABOR) which the Overlords aren't calling by that name, because since Colorado tried something very similar in 1992, TABOR has had only bad press and worse fall-out for the single state that ever tried it:
A Taxpayer Bill of Rights or TABOR is a constitutional measure that limits the annual growth in state (and sometimes local) revenues or spending to the sum of the inflation rate and the percentage change in the state’s population .... Overriding these limits requires voters’ approval or some other high bar, such as a supermajority vote of the legislature.
Colorado enacted the nation’s only TABOR in 1992 but suspended it for five years in 2005 in response to a sharp decline in public services. Though anti-government groups have promoted TABOR proposals in at least 30 states since 2004, no other states have adopted it. [Center on Budget & Policy Priorities]
 God help us.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Virginia Foxx Labors Long and Delivers an Opinion on the Democratic Sit-In

What She Said
“I agree with Speaker Ryan that this [Democratic sit-in on the House floor] is nothing more than a publicity stunt.” 

What She Meant
Shit! Wish we'd thought of that!


What She Said
“We are not going to bring up a bill, which was already defeated in the Senate, that violates the Fifth Amendment and takes away a citizen’s due process rights.”

What She Meant
You see what I did there? I made it a Constitutional issue, that any suspected terrorist on the "No Fly" list has a Constitutional right to buy an AR-15, a right which I'm not going to interfere with, because I'm a little teapot, short and stout. This is my handle. This is my spout. Tip me over and pour me out.

Lies and the Lying Liar Who Tells Them

ProgressNC reminds us this morning that Gov. Squishy will have his first debate with Roy Cooper this evening in Charlotte. ProgressNC also reminds us of how The Guv lied his way through his last debate in 2012, particularly his promise that he would never, no nevah, sign additional restrictions on abortion into law. He promptly broke that promise, twice.

HB2 has produced a barrel full of McCrory lies, probably because he never understood the bill and didn't read it. The Washington Post awarded McCrory’s claims on HB2 with Three Pinocchios. Politifact graded five of McCrory’s HB2 claims as “Mostly False,” “Mostly False,” “False,” “False," and “Pants on Fire" (as in “Liar, liar”). And WRAL-TV of Raleigh flagged McCrory for a figurative “Moving violation” (worst grade offered) for his bogus claims on HB2.

IF you take the longer view, The Guv's battle with the truth is almost epic:
Charlotte Observer: “McCrory ruled ‘pants on fire’ for Springsteen claim” (May 2016)

Raleigh News & Observer: “As HB2 batters NC, McCrory laughs on the radio” (May 2016)

Charlotte Observer: “McCrory breaks vow with abortion law” (January 2016)

Charlotte Observer: “McCrory v. the truth - once again” (January 2016)

Charlotte Observer: “The governor tells another whopper” (June 2015)

Charlotte Observer: “Pinocchio Pat” (June 2015)

Raleigh News & Observer: “Gov. McCrory breaks campaign promise in support of abortion bill” (June 2015)

Raleigh News & Observer: “McCrory’s blind spots on ethics” (March 2015)

Raleigh News & Observer: “McCrory blames the messenger” (December, 2014)

WRAL-TV: “Abortion law breaks McCrory’s promise” (July, 2013)

Greensboro News & Record: “McCrory is in danger of throwing away his credibility” (July 2013)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The NC GOP's New Spokeswoman Is a NeverTrumper

With outrageous appreciation to Jane Porter at The Indy.

The NC GOP's new staff hire is Communications Director Kami Mueller, who is "winsome yet approachable" (as an NC GOP press release put it). Wonder if the Trumpinistas will think so:

Midnight Koch and Late-Night Peeing

How do you know when the Republican Overlords in Raleigh are doing something so wrong they're frankly embarrassed by it? They hide it in the dark.

They've done it before. They voted after midnight to override Gov. Perdue's veto of their budget bill in 2011, supposedly giving cover to the votes of five Democratic defectors, and they stuck the dagger in public school teachers' backs in the wee hours, hobbling their right to organize.  Just two examples.

And now, O My Brethren, some powerful white hand in the North Carolina General Assembly has added a surprise and off-topic provision 17 to an “Act to Amend Certain Environmental, Natural Resources, and 3 Other Laws,” H593. The whole bill is up for final passage in the NC Senate this very day. When H593 passes, Section 17 will make it easier for big corporate farmers to abuse their foreign workers with impunity.

Brent Jackson
The likely culprit with the white hands -- Sen. Brent Jackson, who represents Duplin, Johnston, and Sampson counties. The Independent's Paul Blest just posted yesterday a lengthy investigative piece about Senator Jackson's big farm and his legal importation of foreign workers yearly and the multiple charges and lawsuits against him by some of those same workers, and how, by gum! H593 became a convenient vehicle for making sure that immigrant workers can't complain through the legal system about big farm owners. According to Carol Brooke, "Section 17 seeks to modify North Carolina’s Right to Work law, more accurately described as 'the right to work for less.' ” (The details are extensive and complicated. Recommend Paul Blest's investigative piece for the complete story.)

I call this legislative sheepishness "Midnight Koch," because this is exactly the kind of "reform" the Koch Bros. are all about, further paving the road to Complete Corporate Control. Workers are workers and should know their place. In fact, they should be grateful for their place in the scheme of things, which is after all ordained by God Almighty.

The embarrassment of H593:

Passed 1st Reading ... April 27, 2015
Referred to Comm. On Rules ... April 27, 2015
Withdrawn From Comm ... May 5, 2015
Re-referred to Comm. on Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources [on which Sen. Brent Jackson sits as Vice Chairman] ... May 5, 2015
Committee Substitute Reported Out Favorably and Placed on Calendar for Full Senate Action on June 20 ... June 16, 2016
Withdrawn from Calendar and Re-referred to Committee On Finance  [on which Sen. Brent Jackson sits as a member] ... June 16, 2016
Reported Favorably by Committee On Finance ... June 21, 2016
Withdrawn From Calendar and Re-referred to Comm. on Rules & Operations of the Senate [on which Sen. Brent Jackson sits as a member] ... June 22, 2016
Committee Substitute Reported Favorably and Placed on Senate Calendar for today ... June 23, 2016

Who is Brent Jackson?

First elected in the Tea Party Wave of 2010, Jackson (who declined to comment for Paul Blest's article) "rose quickly through the ranks. He currently serves as cochairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. In that role, he's presided over cuts to legal aid in North Carolina—especially targeting Legal Aid of North Carolina, the only one of the state's three legal-aid providers that has a unit dedicated to helping farmworkers."

Early Voting on NC State Campus About To Be in the Spotlight

In 2012, there was an Early Voting site on the campus of NC State University in Raleigh, just like at AppState. Then Gov. Squishy took office, and every Board of Election in the state came under the partisan control of Republicans. So in the 2014 elections, there was -- surprise! -- no Early Voting on the NC State campus.

In contrast, there was Early Voting on the AppState campus during the 2014 General Elections, but it took strong advocacy and a major lawsuit to accomplish it. No one was fighting for Early Voting on the NC State campus, at least not fighting in an effective way that produced results.

The passivity at NC State may be about to end. There will be a push next week in the Wake County Board of Elections to reinstate Early Voting on the Raleigh campus. Everything will depend on how strong and committed the Democratic member of that county Board of Elections is. If he votes to go along (to get along) with his Republican brethren, who'll likely deny a campus site, then the whole push sinks.

If the Democratic member votes "NO" and submits his own Early Voting plan, then the entire decision falls to the State Board of Elections, which has already been successfully sued for disenfranchising college-age voters and who might not want to be sued again.

There is recent precedent for one of the two Republicans on the Wake Board of Elections breaking ranks and voting with the Democrat for restoring an Early Voting site in a predominantly black Raleigh neighborhood, so there's always the possibility that lightning could strike again....

Naw, won't happen. We feel sure that Republican board member was taken to the woodshed sufficiently to beat any fairness out of his synapses.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Defy HB2 Law

The Charlotte Mecklenburg school system (CMS) has decided to ignore Governor McCrory's HB2 bathroom law and return the school system to reality-based peeing.

And since HB2 specified no penalty for violation of the law, there's not much The Guv or his cohorts in the NC General Assembly can do about it.

Already ahead of the ignore-HB2 movement was political hack and new head of the University of North Carolina system Margaret Spellings, who told a federal court last month that she would not be enforcing HB2 in the UNC system.

McCrory induced his official spokesman to sputter and spit at the press following the CMS announcement. They're purposely breaking state law, said The Guv's spokesman, his voice rising two octaves. He was hoping that he might get any reaction beyond a yawn.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Breaking News: Court of Appeals Rules in Watauga Voting Rights Case

Did Watauga County citizens have the right to sue the State Board of Elections for rubber-stamping an Early Voting plan in the elections of 2014? Appears that they did have the right to sue, and to win in Superior Court.

In the summer of 2014, Eggers&Eggers&Aceto for the Watauga County Board of Elections imposed an Early Voting plan that conspicuously disabled Appalachian State University students.

A group of citizens, including several ASU students, sued on constitutional grounds.

On October 13, 2014, Judge Donald Stephens of Wake Superior Court ordered the State Board of Elections to place an Early Voting site on the ASU campus.

State Board of Elections appealed that decision to the NC Court of Appeals, but the elections of 2014 happened in the meantime, with an Early Voting site in the ASU Student Union.

NC Court of Appeals heard the appeal of Judge Stephens' order on August 12, 2015, and today -- almost a full year later -- the Court of Appeals dismissed the State Board of Elections' appeal and ruled the case moot.

This is good news. A precedent has been established in North Carolina for challenging unconstitutional manipulation of ballot access through Early Voting plans.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Defining the Ineffable

While attempting to explain the turbulence in the Trump campaign caused by bad poll numbers, worse press, and poor fundraising, Josh Marshall came up with this arresting word cluster:
"Donald Trump, a bullshit-based candidate making first contact with the reality-based world."

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Rise & Fall of a Scenic Highway

April 3, 2000
Watauga County Commission votes unanimously to make the Doc & Merle Watson Hwy (construction just beginning) a scenic hwy, an essentially cosmetic designation (county-designated "scenic" roads carried fewer restrictions than did state-designated "scenic" roads), but the county's designation did prohibit billboards and off-premise signs on the roadway. The push for scenic designation is coming mainly from the business community, led by John Cooper of the Mast Store. The Committee of 100, an economic development arm of county government, and prominent members of the Chamber of Commerce also support scenic designation. On the other side of the argument -- against any restrictions on advertizing and therefore opposed to scenic designation  -- are business leaders Joe Miller (Boone Drug, Cheap Joe's) and Brad Moretz (Ski Mountain), among others.

Early 2002
Attitude on Commish has shifted strongly against scenic designation, partly as reaction to Widespread Panic that "zoning" is coming to Watauga! Democratic Commissioners Sue Sweeting and Pat Wilkie become bumper-sticker targets of "No Zoners." A "scenic byway" that restricts business -- in any shape, form, or fashion -- has become anathama.

June 18, 2002
Watauga County Commission votes not to seek scenic byway designation from the state for the Doc & Merle Watson Hwy.  Two of three Dems on the Commish (Sue Sweeting and Pat Wilkie) vote for scenic designation; third Dem and Chair of the Commish at that time, Jimmy Hodges, votes with the two Repubs to defeat.

Sept. 17, 2002
[lifted from Co Commish official minutes]


            Mr. Joe Furman apologized for an omission in information given to the Board in 2000 when the Doc and Merle Watson Highway was designated as a scenic highway. County Attorney Hedrick stated that a scenic highway is designated locally and that a scenic byway is designated by the State. The County Attorney stated that the Watauga County Board of Commissioners designated the Doc and Merle Watson Highway as a scenic highway in 2000 and that designation legally stands.

            Per Board instructions, six citizens were scheduled to speak for 5 minutes each; 3 in favor of the designation and 3 opposed to the designation.

            Mr. Brad Moretz, Ms. Lila Phillips, and Ms. Deborah Greene spoke in opposition to the scenic highway designation and requested that Board rescind the resolution from 2000 designating the Doc and Merle Watson Highway as scenic.

            Mr. Phil Minor, Ms. Susan Phipps, and Ms. Velma Burnley spoke in support of keeping the scenic highway designation.

            No Board action was required and none was taken.

Oct. 3, 2002
The Partnership for Watauga's Future, a coalition of business/environmental activists, stages a "community walk" on a section of the still unfinished Doc & Merle Watson Hwy. Hundreds show up and walk about two miles. Doc Watson himself shows up with his brother. Watson also signs the petition to keep the road "scenic."

June 2003
Watauga County Commish reaffirms its opposition to the state about scenic byway designation. All five commissioners are voting in lock-step: Republicans James Coffey, Keith Honeycutt, David Blust, Allen Trivette, and Democrat Jimmy Hodges. But local representative on the state Board of Transportation, Caldwell County's Sam Erby, privately favors scenic designation (not a well kept secret).

July 25, 2003
Despite the preferences of Co Commissioners and the vociferousness of "no zoners," led by Deborah Greene, the NC Dept. of Transportation schedules a public hearing on scenic byway designation for Aug. 20, 2003, at the Broyhill Inn.

August 20, 2003
Hundreds of people show up for public hearing, with slightly over 100 of them signing up to speak, on both sides (though only 15% of speakers opposed scenic designation). The crowd as a whole leans decidedly toward scenic byway designation. State Senator Virginia Foxx tries to grandstand for the "no-zoners" and is shut down by the moderator. (She'll go on to run successfully for Congress in 2004.)

December 4, 2003
Despite opposition from Watauga Co. Commish and many citizens, the NC Bd of Transportation votes in favor of scenic byway designation.

[13 years pass]

April 5, 2016
Watauga Co Commish votes 3-2 along party lines not to challenge the Watauga Bd of Adjustment's decision that the Johnny Hampton family had every right under God's blue heaven to sell a "polluting industry license" to Maymead. Jimmy Hodges, now chair of the Commish and now a registered Republican, votes with fellow Republicans David Blust and Perry Yates not to defend the scenic integrity of the Doc & Merle Watson Hwy. Democratic commissioners John Welch and Billy Kennedy vote to appeal the BOA decision.

The air quality license for the planned Maymead asphalt plant on the Doc & Merle Watson Scenic Byway is on hold until Maymead fixes environmental violations at their existing plant in Boone. 

Welcome to your future, Doc & Merle Watson!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sticking His Pixy Nose Into Other People's Business Since 2011

Tom Apodaca, the powerful Republican senator in Raleigh representing Buncombe, Henderson, and Transylvania counties, has proposed a bill in the General Assembly to roll back Democratic electoral control of Asheville city government. Apodaca proposed a redistricting scheme to throw five of seven currently elected Democrats into races against each other. (Taking bets currently at 50-to-1 on whether the G.A. passes it.)

Apodaca's "cover" -- his explanation -- for such radical partisan gerrymandering ... business interests on the south side of Asheville don't have enough representation on city council, and they're complaining. (It's not like Apodaca would ever turn a deaf ear to the pleas of constituents!)

Asheville Citizen-Times: "The move has the backing of a majority of one, Apodaca. None of Asheville’s elected officials or the four other lawmakers who represent parts of the city, all Democrats, were on board with the proposal."

On representation on the city council for South Asheville: "...there’s no argument that South Asheville should be represented. But there’s nothing on the books that says a South Asheville resident can’t be elected to office. All it takes is a good candidate with a good platform running a good race."

As we all know from five years of Republican over-lordship, good platforms don't exist for them. Only regressive, repressive, backward, and radical platforms exist in the contemporary Republican Party of North Carolina.

Prophecy: Sun Will Stand Still on Monday

Monday, June 20, 6:34 P.M. (EDT)

The 2016 North American summer solstice happens .... That’s the very moment when, essentially, the sun stands still at its northernmost point as seen from Earth. Its zenith doesn’t yearn north or south, but waits patiently at the Tropic of Cancer before switching directions and heading south again.

Make whatever sacrifices, offerings, tributes to whatever gods of earth or sky at 6:34 on Monday, and I shall do the same.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Quick! What Rhymes with 'Nexus'?

What an incredibly interesting denial Senator Richard Burr gave the press yesterday:
Mere “speculation,” Burr said about talk that he might be short-listed as a Republican vice presidential candidate. “I don’t think any of it – to my knowledge – has any credible nexus with the campaign.”
"Any credible nexus." Did Senator Burr just turn medieval monk? What a curious, Latinate, ambiguous and hence attention-grabbing choice of words to avoid saying the obvious.

Let's see -- nexus,  noun: "a line of consumer electronic devices that run the Android operating system"? Or, "a casual link, a connected group or series"? 

That second meaning comes from the Latin root for nexus, a verb meaning to bind, hence the noun binding. Said Dick Burr, in other words, "My nexus with Trump, any binding to him of my name, is not yet credible" (meaning it's true!). Classic non-denial denial.

And now, a limerick on the foregoing:

                This Burr Itches

The Senator said, "I might have a nexus
With a Cowboy not born in Texas--
I could get no bump
From endorsing Trump,
But got this pain in my solar plexus."

Trump Towers

Our favorite North Carolina political blogger, Thomas Mills -- who's also a candidate for Congress from the 8th Congressional District -- is using the "T word" -- tsunami -- to suggest what's about to happen to the Republican Party via Donald Trump in this Year Of Our Lord 2016.

As a general rule of thumb, tsunamis are not very noticeable when they're far out at sea:
Tsunamis, they say, can be deceptive. Out in the deep ocean, travelling at 400 to 500 mph, they may appear on the surface to be nothing more than just a large swell -- like the wake of a large ship. While sensors can estimate the wave's size and power, it's true destructive force doesn't become visible until it reaches shallower water and all that energy is compressed and forced towards the surface. Then it hits, at which point the last place you want to be is on the beach.
But this year, the political tsunami that Donald Trump has perhaps caused for the GOP seems very visible to most political observers, despite the fact that it still has months to reach land. The only people who don't seem to notice are the Trump rally-goers, like the ones recently recorded in Greensboro, or Donald Trump himself.

Long may they turn a blind eye! But if I were them, I think I'd be stacking my deck chairs and looking for high ground.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Private Money v. Public Cooties

Governor Pat McCrory attended the Trump fundraiser yesterday in Greensboro but did not attend the rally following.

Perhaps McCrory likes being in the same room with lots of money but doesn't want to be seen in public with a horse's ass.

Trump still put his brand of approval on Squishy: “He’s doing a fantastic job,” Trump said of McCrory to the rally crowd, which craned their necks to see their good-job governor, very much not in evidence.

Why wasn't McCrory at the big event? "Scheduling issue," said the McCrory people, which is approximately the same as saying, "We really have no excuse, but you'll excuse us if we fall back on the hoariest cliche in the politician's arsenal."

AAUP Issues Statement on What's Trending at AppState

Boone, NC
June 14, 2016

A controversy concerning the dismissal and reassignment of senior administrators at Appalachian State University has recently erupted. While Appalachian’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) does not believe that it has the information to weigh in on the substance of these disputes, it feels this matter is a fitting occasion to remind the university community of some disturbing trends in higher education and to reassert a few core principles:

1. University governance should be transparent, inclusive, and shared. The principle of shared governance between administration and faculty is one of the defining features of the American academic system. There has, however, been a disturbing tendency to “presidentialize” university leadership (witness “cabinets,” “chiefs of staff,” and so on). These trends go hand in hand with a marginalization of the tradition of faculty governance, as seen in recent decisions by the Provost and other top administrators to disregard or fail to respond to Faculty Senate decisions. We believe that a university administration that takes inclusive governance seriously will be less exposed to institutional instability and community frustration resulting from unexpected and seemingly arbitrary administrative changes.

2. The expansion of administrative positions (“administrative bloat”) undermines shared governance and is a disservice to the university community. ASU’s AAUP chapter has long been concerned with the way our campus has mirrored the troubling national trend towards the expansion of administrative positions, particularly at the vice-provost and vice-chancellor level. Administrators in these roles are often paid six-figure salaries, at a time when faculty and staff salaries are essentially stagnant and student debt is ballooning. Frequently, these administrators are not academics and have little familiarity with university culture, and they are often hired through expensive and non-transparent search processes. In addition to being a questionable expenditure of resources in an age of constantly declining public funding, the rise in administrative positions also undermines the faculty’s central role in university governance. The shift towards an “all administrative university” that gives disproportionate influence to highly paid administrators creates a top-heavy structure in which personnel disputes among administrators will unnecessarily disrupt the university’s mission and damage its reputation.

We call upon the administration and university community to be mindful of these important principles.

- The ASU Chapter of the AAUP Executive Board

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Burning Question of the Day

Will Governor Squishy step on stage with Donald Trump at Trump's appearance in Greensboro this evening? Will Governor Squishy thus tacitly endorse the following:
Trump's reference to Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers during his campaign announcement
Trump's attributing bias to a federal judge solely because of the judge's Mexican heritage (which Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the U.S. House, noted is “the definition of a racist comment”)
Trump's very recent insinuation that President Obama was somehow involved in the Orlando nightclub shooting (because, presumably, Obama's actually a secret Muslim)
Trump's repeated encouragement for his supporters to attack protesters, saying he would pay their legal fees
Among other sterling moments of deep character revelation.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Don't Look For Any "Step in the Right Direction" on HB2

Persistent talk in Raleigh that the Republican grandees in the General Assembly are considering tweaks to the hateful HB2, but pretty much everyone that the Raleigh News&Observer talked to said he didn't know a thing about any changes.

Clearly, the Republican leadership -- particularly Governor Squishy -- would like to get this monkey off their backs. It's hurting practically everything to do with economic and cultural development in the state, but Republicans don't like to blink, let alone admit that they did something wrong and hurtful to the economy, which they're supposed to be such geniuses with.

The only politician talking is a Democrat who says he's seen proposed changes to HB2 and sums the "tweaks" up this way: “I don’t view this as a fix at all,” he said. “I don’t view it as a step in the right direction.”

It would take a complete lobotomy for the Republican grandees to take a step in the right direction in this Year of Our Lord 2016.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

The Cindy Wallace Kiss-Off

Here's the email from ASU Chancellor Sheri Everts last Friday announcing that Vice Chancellor Cindy Wallace was out of a job:

Begin forwarded message:
From: Chancellor Everts <chancellor@APPSTATE.EDU>
Date: June 8, 2016 at 8:01:15 AM EDT
Subject: Important announcement from Chancellor Everts
Reply-To: Chancellor Everts <chancellor@APPSTATE.EDU>
Dear Members of the Appalachian Community:

After careful consideration I have made a decision to initiate a leadership change in The Division of Student Development.  As of Friday, June 3, Cindy Wallace no longer serves in the role of Vice Chancellor for Student Development.

An Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Development will be appointed and a national search for this important leadership position will begin in the near future. I am committed to working closely with the Student Development team, student leaders, and my leadership team to ensure a smooth transition.  I will keep the campus community informed throughout the process.

I thank Cindy Wallace for her many years of service and her commitment to Appalachian and wish her well in her future endeavors.


Sheri N. Everts

Speculation Swirling Over Firing of High-Level ASU Administrator

Cindy Walace
The sudden firing of long-time Appalachian State University Vice Chancellor Cindy Wallace, an advocate for student voting rights, has gotten the attention of both student government and members of the General Assembly.

The Director of External and Governmental Affairs for the ASU Student Government Association posted this on Facebook last night, calling out Chancellor Sheri Everts:
"At a time of such devastation for Appalachian State University, I was reminded tonight why I want to continue fighting for student voices on this campus. Cindy Wallace was truly a unique individual, one this university will never be able to replace. She was a haven for students who felt under-represented on this campus and simply her presence in a room undeniably gave students the sense of belonging. It was a sad day for the student body when the chancellor's office sent an email regarding the dismissal of such a wonderful asset to this university. This news came as a shock to the entire Appalachian community, but we must not forget what Cindy fought for. ... I am ready to put the full force of the student body behind the fight for our voting rights on campus, something Cindy was adamantly for. And I am ready to give Sheri N. Everts hell this year. Bring it on"
Rumors are actually coming out of Raleigh that the firing was "political," either that (a) members of the right-wing Board of Governors wanted Wallace out or that (b) Republican members of the General Assembly wanted her out, or both (a) and (b). And what was university system President Margaret Spellings' role in all this? More purging of administrators not in synch with Republican dogma?

At any rate, the continuing destruction of higher education in North Carolina seems very much on schedule.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Donald Trump: "UnAmerican," Says One Republican Senator

Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk has broken ranks. He issued this statement today:
"I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers -- not building walls. That's why I find Donald Trump's belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.
"As the Presidential campaign progressed, I was hoping the rhetoric would tone down and reflect a campaign that was inclusive, thoughtful and principled. While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump's latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party's nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party.
"It is absolutely essential that we are guided by a commander-in-chief with a responsible and proper temperament, discretion and judgment. Our President must be fit to command the most powerful military the world has ever seen, including an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons. After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world."
Senator Kirk, it should be noted, has made every "most endangered incumbent" list. But still.

Monday, June 06, 2016

"Renee Knows How To Do It"

Donald Trump made his first-ever endorsement in a Congressional Republican primary, and he chose Renee Ellmers in the NC-2.

Trump recorded a robocall for Ellmers: “I need her help in Washington so we can work together to defeat ISIS, secure our border, and bring back jobs and frankly, so many other things. And Renee knows how to do it. She gets it. And together, we will make America great again.”

Well, okay then.

Meanwhile, Ellmers is in the primary race of her short-ish political career, matched through redistricting with fellow incumbent Republican Congressman George Holding, who's being supported  by the Koch octopus and the Club for Growth. (Perennial candidate and creepy gynecologist Greg Brannon is also running in this primary.)

Since the Koch Bros. have pointedly refused to endorse Trump, perhaps Trump's endorsement of Ellmers is payback. Trump is into payback.

The North Carolina Tea Partiers, who have long despised Ellmers, are not taking the Trump endorsement well.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

First in Flight

Nick Ochsner, who's an investigative reporter for WBTV's special unit, "On Your Side," has delved into the use of government aircraft for the jet-set lifestyle Governor McCrory has grown accustomed to.  (He worked in the corporate world at a high level, fur chrissakes. He knows the style and convenience to which he is manifestly entitled.) 

What Ochsner and his team found hit the news last Wednesday and would seem to reveal McCrory perfectly. For him, the perks are way important (devil take the hind side of wrestling with anybody else's controversy):
"On Your Side Investigates" reviewed the two years of flight records and flagged any flight that could have been avoided had McCrory stayed in Raleigh: flights with no passengers, flights that carried McCrory’s staff but not the Governor either coming to pick him up or going back to Raleigh after leaving him in Charlotte, or flights that included the Governor but that would have been unnecessary had he stayed in Raleigh.
Our review found 125 flights that fit the criteria: 48 flights with no passengers, 49 flights on which at least one member of the Governor’s staff was aboard without him and 28 flights that included McCrory.
Records show McCrory flies on one of two state airplanes owned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Typically, records show, McCrory flies on a King Air-200 twin-engine turbo prop airplane that costs $560 per hour to operate. Records show McCrory also uses the state-owned Cessna Citation II jet that costs $770 per hour to operate.
Invoices provided by the Governor’s Office shows the 125 avoidable flights flown by state-owned jets at McCrory’s request cost taxpayers $59,605 in just flight hours, not including additional fees associated with individual airports.
Side Note: Did the promised HB2 protest of McCrory's planned participation in a Blowing Rock parade cause him to cancel his appearance on Saturday, or was it the Ochsner report?

Friday, June 03, 2016

Friday's Fame Whore

We try to avert our gaze from the embarrassing spectacle that is Donald Trump, but he is everywhere, all up in our grill.

Then we fruitlessly spend part of an hour just trying to summarize in words the awfulness of his being.

Thomas Mills came to our aid yesterday: "a narcissistic egomaniac with little regard for the truth and no self-restraint."

I remember another Thomas Mills line I like even more: Donald Trump is like an unmoored lawn sprinkler.