Thursday News: For their eyes only

LAW BARRING PUBLIC ACCESS TO POLICE CAM FOOTAGE ABOUT TO PASS (The Atlantic/CityLab) -- Remember that bill that would restrict police body-camera footage from the the public, the one that North Carolina’s House judiciary committee passed earlier this month? Well, it has been approved by the full state House of Representatives and has passed through the state Senate as of Wednesday afternoon. It now heads back to the House for another vote on language added to the legislation. If that is approved, the bill will go to Governor Pat McCrory, who is expected to sign it into law. The bill renders any footage captured by a police officer’s body camera or police dashboard camera closed from public view.

GOP doubles-down on HB2 bigotry: Sex reassignment "certificate" required

Either show me your woo-woo or show me your papers:

A leaked draft of proposed changes to N.C. House Bill 2 ignited controversy Tuesday, drawing criticism from both supporters and detractors of the law.

The leaked draft of the changes, widely circulated this week, would: Keep the bathroom provisions as they are. Create a “certificate of sex reassignment” for North Carolinians who come from states without a way to update birth certificates. Since many transgender people do not wish to have surgery to obtain a new birth certificate, LGBT advocates oppose such a plan. They also express concern that this would effectively create a state registry of those who have had such surgeries, raising privacy issues.

And once again, the faux-Libertarian "privacy rights" crowd produces a deafening silence. Liberty for some, tyranny for others, especially if those others don't conform to a broken moral compass wielded by self-appointed religious prophets. What's funny (really not funny) is how Tea Party nutters obsess over the dangers posed by ISIS and "Radical Islam," but I'm beginning to think they're just jealous. Jealous that they can't march through a town and summarily execute deviants and/or tribes that refuse to conform to their twisted ideologies. Is that hyperbole? Examine the parallels and then get back to me.

Wednesday News: Should indict his barber, too

HARTSELL INDICTED ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE CHARGES (AP) -- Longtime state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell misused campaign contributions and falsely labeled the spending as expenses and charitable donations on finance reports, according to an indictment issued Tuesday.

HARTSELL INDICTED OVER CAMPAIGN-FINANCE REPORTS (Raleigh News & Observer) -- North Carolina state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell was charged with three counts of signing false campaign-finance reports.

Coal Ash Wednesday: SELC statement on HB 630


Kneeling at the altar of Duke Energy:

The following is a statement by Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center regarding the latest Duke Energy Bailout Bill, HB 630, that came out of closed doors today and is moving quickly through the North Carolina legislature:

“Following closed door meetings, the North Carolina Senate today moved to change state law to delay and provide Duke Energy loopholes to avoid coal ash cleanups. This coal ash bill is damning proof that the families and communities of North Carolina can’t rely on state politicians to protect their drinking water supplies from Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution."

Per Kirk Ross, the total time given to discuss this bill in both committee and on the floor of the Senate was less than half an hour, for some 33 pages. Which I find ironic as hell considering how often Duke Energy whines about "needing more time" to assess the situation. When they need more time, they get it. When our duly elected representatives need more time to study 33 pages of legislation, that time is simply not available. It's a pretty clear message of who owns the House and Senate. The rest of the statement:

GOP tax cuts in North Carolina: The myth & the facts

This blog is the first in an 8-part series on the myths and the facts about changes to North Carolina made by the GOP since 2010. (Subsequent parts in the series will appear about every two or three days and will be linked to previous parts in the series.) The purpose of the blogs in the present election year is to offer readers information and talking-points supported by factual evidence and documentation from sources that are reputable and available to the public.

The threat gerrymandering poses to the NC Constitution

Cause & effect are too obvious to ignore:

Over in the Senate there’s a more devious and dangerous proposed amendment to the state constitution, with roots in the misleadingly-named “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” (that passed the Senate last year but didn’t get a vote in the House) to cap the state income tax rate at 5.5 percent. Article V of the state constitution currently sets a 10 percent ceiling.

Significantly, the four sponsors of this unnecessary plan, face no consequence or accountability. The lead sponsor, Sen. Robert Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, isn’t seeking re-election. The three other sponsors, Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick; Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph; and Louis Pate, R-Wayne, face no opposition in the fall campaign. They are utterly without accountability to a single voter in their districts – and the state – for their actions.

It's times like this that I look back on our efforts to encourage candidates to file with a feeling of abject failure. While the list exceeded our expectations, several critical (potential) races were left by the wayside. While I'm wallowing in self-pity, it's only fitting that I bring you the news (if you didn't already know) that Elon Law Professor Eric Fink failed to amass enough (qualified) signatures to challenge Phil Berger in November's General Election for the NC Senate. It was a damned fine effort, and I hope Eric takes another shot two years from now. But we really need to make sure the most powerful Republicans have opponents, regardless of the demographics. Or we risk allowing their hubris to destroy our state.

Take Action: Protect Our Shorelines

The Obama administration recently took an important step by supporting nature-based solutions to combat shoreline erosion. Submit a comment to applaud the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for proposing a new nationwide permit for “living shorelines.” A living shoreline offers a proven and durable bank stabilization alternative to hard infrastructure—such as bulkheads and seawalls—while conserving the natural coastal habitat of fish and marine life, shorebirds, and plants.

Tuesday News: Race to the bottom continues


SENATE TENTATIVELY APPROVES ACHIEVEMENT SCHOOL DISTRICTS (WRAL-TV) -- The state would turn over up to five low performing schools to charter operators under a plan that tentatively passed the state Senate Monday night.

ACHIEVEMENT SCHOOL DISTRICT PROPOSAL GETS INITIAL SENATE OK (AP) -- A new, charter-operated pilot program for struggling traditional elementary schools is now making its way through the Senate after passing the House earlier this month.


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