Supreme Court rejects Alabama gerrymandering decision

There's more than one way to dilute someone's voting voice:

The justices split 5-4 across ideological lines in ruling that a three-judge panel did not properly consider complaints that state officials illegally packed black voters into too few voting districts. Writing for the court, Justice Stephen Breyer said the lower court should have reviewed claims of racial gerrymandering on a district-by-district level, not just statewide.

“The Alabama and North Carolina redistricting cases involve different questions of law, and legislative leaders do not believe today’s Supreme Court decision impacts the North Carolina case,” Phil Berger, N.C. Senate president pro tempore, and Tim Moore, the N.C. House speaker, said in a joint statement.

Nice try, BergerMoore. The Justices' concerns in the Alabama case, and their subsequent dissatisfaction with the lower court's ruling, are both very pertinent to North Carolina's redistricting mess. Here's an excerpt (fat pdf) from our own Supreme Court's flawed opinion allowing the districts to stand:

Daily dose: McCrory inks up Veto stamp version

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McCrory slams Senate sales tax bill (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory came out strongly opposed to the Senate’s sales tax redistribution plan on Wednesday, saying it “will cause great harm to the economic engines of this state.” “It will raise taxes on millions of citizens and job-creators throughout the state. We cannot afford to have this bill passed in North Carolina. It will cause harm. It will also decimate the travel and tourism industry in the west, in our cities, and on the coastal beach areas that are dependent upon sales tax revenue, because they’ve made the investment in the infrastructure to bring travel and tourism to their towns.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article16...

Common Core & Ft Bragg

When I had the opportunity to speak at NCGA's Education hearing on the Common Core (CC), one of the points I made was that having the same expectations nation-wide was not a Communist plot but merely common sense. My family moved a lot during my childhood. Although we were not a military family, in 12 years of public education I attended 10 schools in 4 states.

About that comeback

Triangle Business Journal is reporting that personal income in North Carolina is rapidly falling behind the national average. In fact, year after year, our personal income has seen less growth than the national average.

North Carolina per capita personal income, percent change from year to year (U.S. average)
2013-14: 2.5% (3.0%)
2012-13: 0.4% (1.3%)
2011-12: 5.6% (4.4%)
2010-11: 3.0% (5.5%)
2009-10: 1.4% (1.9%)
2008-09: -2.2% (-3.7%)
2007-08: 1.9% (2.7%)
2006-07: 3.8% (4.4%)
2005-06: 4.7% (6.2%)

GOP to cancer patients: Your pain means nothing to us

The hopes for medical marijuana just died:

Despite pleas from a number of people who testified that medical cannabis has helped treat either themselves or loved ones, the committee rejected legislation that would have legalized marijuana use for certain patients.

"Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes is both unnecessary and a slippery slope," said Tammy Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition. "We oppose House Bill 78. It could open the door to legalizing marijuana for recreational use." Fitzgerald was one of three speakers to urge rejection of the medical marijuana bill, all of them representing socially conservative groups that frequently lobby lawmakers on issues ranging from abortion to alcohol control to gay marriage.

Tami Fitzgerald is a blight on humanity. The only "values" she represents are to cause as much pain and suffering as she can before the karma wheel comes along to crush her flat.

Coal Ash Wednesday: A fait accompli for Lee County

County Manager breaks the bad news:

If residents want to see who voted to place coal ash in Lee County, go to the North Carolina Legislature’s webpage and pull Senate Bill 729 from the 2014 session. Make sure you see who sponsored the bill. They are the ones who developed the plans to place coal ash in clay mine pits in North Carolina. Because Lee County is the clay/brick capital of North Carolina, the bill gave Duke the right to place coal ash in the county without approval of the local government.

A vote to move forward on the recent financial agreement offered by Duke is not a vote to put the coal ash in Lee County – that already was done by the legislature, just like fracking. A vote in favor of the agreement is to accept money from Duke that will hopefully help the community overcome the stigma of having a coal ash storage facility. Voting against the agreement will mean we won't get the money and coal ash will, in all likelihood, come anyway.

My initial reaction to this op-ed was to say, "It ain't over 'til it's over." Republicans in the General Assembly might consider themselves all-powerful, but the courts so far have shown that feeling to be mistaken. Several of their more outrageous moves have been delayed, blocked, or simply ruled unconstitutional. That being said, I'm not the one trying to manage a county on what has to be a shoestring budget. And he's right about the legislation he referenced:

Daily dose: McHenry's S&M fetish edition

McHenry, Scalise Go Forward, Move Ahead With ‘Whip It Good’ PAC (Roll Call) -- When the House Freedom Caucus comes along, you must whip it. When a close vote’s held open on the floor too long, you must whip it. Whip it good. These might not be the actual words to the infamous 1980 masterpiece by Devo, but GOP Reps. Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina and Steve Scalise are welcome to borrow from HOH’s mediocre parody lyrics when touting their new fundraising operation, which is named for the song’s seminal refrain. Over the weekend, the majority whip and chief deputy whip launched a joint political action committee called “Whip It Good,” which will raise money for their respective congressional campaigns and leadership PACs.
http://hoh.rollcall.com/scalise-mchenry-shape-it-up-start-whip-it-good-pac/?dcz=emailalert

Partisan School Board Elections

Representatives from Onslow and Forsyth want to make the elections to every local school board in the state into partisan elections. HB 324, filed by

Phil Shepard and George Cleveland, Onslow Repubs, and Donny Lambeth and Debra Conrad, Forsyth Repubs, will have all school board candidates, statewide, run with a party affiliation. If there are more party candidates than available seats on the board, there will be primary election to determine who will run.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Why worry about substance when empty rhetoric is so readily available?

The Affordable Care Act already does those things, and does them so well people like you are forced to talk about some nebulous other program that will supposedly eclipse it. It's time to find a new monster to fear, because Americans have outgrown this scary bedtime story.

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