Voter suppression 3.0: Federal elections, local discrimination

Democracy is under attack on thousands of fronts:

In March, the City Council of Daphne, Ala., shrank the number of polling places from five locations in white and black districts to just two polling places located in districts that are mostly white. As a result, black voters are now forced to travel farther than before, yet most white voters face no new burdens.

Similarly, although a federal appeals court in July reinstated seven extra days of early voting in North Carolina, the Board of Elections in Wake County, N.C., decided this month to limit early voting to one site, rather than 20, during the restored early voting period.

So much for the "post-racial" America that doesn't need the Voting Rights Act anymore. But contrary to what many advocates fear, the selective stifling of voting in strategic areas, these attacks are ubiquitous and reflect a much wider conspiracy than previously envisioned:

Meadows in hot water with Congressional Ethics panel

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The hush-money payoff that wouldn't go away:

A congressional ethics panel said there is “substantial reason to believe” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), broke House rules by paying his departed chief of staff a three-month severance package in 2015. Meadows has denied any wrongdoing, arguing through a lawyer that he acted in good faith, even if it turns out he broke the rules.

The OCE pointed out in its report that Meadows had not cooperated with their investigation. In May 2016 letter to House Ethics Committee leaders, Meadows’s attorney said he had opted not to engage in the “duplicative, costly and burdensome process” of the OCE review since the Ethics Committee “is the ultimate arbiter of compliance with House Rules and Standards of Conduct.”

Methinks Tea Party Mark doesn't understand the meaning of "good faith." It doesn't just mean you thought you were doing right, it also means you are willing to cooperate with investigators and disclose to them anything that might be relevant. The next logical step for the House Ethics Committee is to subpoena (if they have that authority) Kenny West, to find out a) what work he actually accomplished during that extended period, and b) what juicy information he was holding over Meadows' head (blackmail) that would force the Congressman to break rules over:

Thursday News: Cause & Effect?

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NC CHURCHES KEEPING THE FAITH IN CAMPAIGN SEASON (Public News Service) -- The North Carolina Council of Churches is discussing ways congregations can engage in the political process and educate their members without endorsing a particular candidate.
http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2016-08-18/civic-engagement/nc-churches-keeping-the-faith-in-campai...

CLINTON LEADS NC, ALTHOUGH SOME SAY SHE IS 'THE DEVIL' (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Hillary Clinton has grabbed the lead in North Carolina, two recent polls suggest, despite the fact that one found a good number of Tar Heels think she is the devil.
http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/08/17/clinton-leads-nc-although-some...

Charter supporters throw temper tantrum over low approval numbers

And engage in a little name calling between tears:

Today, Alan Hawkes, a Greensboro charter leader who sits on the state’s Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB), is still hot. That’s because five schools tapped for opening by Hawkes’ board, which makes recommendations on charter applicants to the state board, were overwhelmingly voted down by the State Board of Education (SBE). Board members cited typos, weak applications and publicly questioned whether some schools’ academic plans were ready for prime time despite the CSAB’s support. Typically, state board members heed the counsel of the CSAB, but not this month.

“Don’t get me started about public charter school no-nothings (sic) on the NC State Board of Education,” Hawkes wrote in an email to Policy Watch this week. “The temerity and ignorance of those soulless SOB’s (sic) presuming to know better than the NC Charter School Advisory Board with its diversity of knowledge and experience in this area. If there is anyone who knows the good, the bad and the ugly about public school choice, it’s members of our NC CSAB.”

The plural form is "sons of bitches," so I'm thinking it should be "S'sOB"? Still doesn't look right...Anyway, if the people who are supposedly going to teach our children can neither write well nor proofread, maybe they should take up another hobby, like ATV riding without a helmet? Using a chainsaw to cut the wrong side of the limb they're sitting on? Something along those lines.

Wednesday News: Tea Party panderer edition

MEADOWS OPPOSES ASHEVILLE PLAN FOR REFUGEES (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- A global aid and humanitarian organization is moving forward with plans to make Western North Carolina a resettlement site for refugees despite objections from a congressman representing much of the region. In an Aug. 12 letter to U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, the International Rescue Committee reported that it recommended Asheville to the U.S. Department of State as a "favorable" location for a resettlement office.
http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2016/08/16/meadows-opposes-asheville-plan-refugees/888...

Coal Ash Wednesday: Bake a cake, Erin's coming to NC

She's seen this hexavalent chromium dance before:

Erin Brockovich and the Washington-based Environmental Working Group are wading into North Carolina’s battle over the carcinogen hexavalent chromium to bolster a request the organization made years ago that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency establish a health-protective standard specific to the contaminant.

“States like North Carolina, where industrial byproducts like coal ash increase the risk of hexavalent chromium contamination, need a federal mandate to set strong, health-protective standards for levels of the contaminant in drinking water. Without it, states will continue to use inconsistent and potentially unsafe guidelines, and leave citizens confused about whether their drinking water is safe.” Brockovich and Ken Cook, the president of the EWG, say in the letter.

I'm sure McCrory and his cronies are not happy they've drawn the attention of Brockovich and EWG, but it's their own fault. The manipulation and pandering to Duke Energy involved in the "do not drink" advisory letters alone is enough to put them under the magnifying glass. And with that kind of scrutiny, it will not end well for these irresponsible leaders.

NC GOP's voter suppression brings national shame

As Ari Berman of The Nation magazine details:

Republicans in North Carolina are pulling out all the stops to suppress the state’s reliably Democratic black vote. After the Fourth Circuit court reinstated a week of early voting, GOP-controlled county elections boards are now trying to cut early voting hours across the state. By virtue of holding the Governor’s office, Republicans control a majority of votes on all county election boards and yesterday they voted to cut 238 hours of early voting in Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County, the largest in the state.

“I’m not a big fan of early voting,” said GOP board chair Mary Potter Summa, brazenly disregarding the federal appeals court’s opinion. “The more [early voting] sites we have, the more opportunities exist for violations.”

This crap has gone too far already. The US DOJ needs to open an investigation about the obvious conspiracy to limit early voting by various county boards of election. This stuff doesn't happen by accident, it takes coordination. Hat-tip to JW Williamson for his honorable mention:

Jay Faison's ClearPath gives $400k to Richard Burr

Any environmentalist still sitting on the fence over this greenwashing machine needs to have their head examined:

As if to prove Miller right, ClearPath Action Fund announced earlier this month that it will be spending at least $400,000 to help reelect Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina. There is no honest way to present Burr as a defender of the environment, the climate, or clean energy. Just last year, he voted to force approval of Keystone XL, to block the Clean Power Plan, against renewing the wind and solar energy tax credits, and against closing the Halliburton loophole that exempts fracking from safe drinking water regulations, which is why he got a paltry 4 percent voting score from LCV for 2015.

Burr hasn’t even feigned concern for the climate or clean energy. In endorsing Burr, Faison shows that these issues are not his top priority either; rather, Republican control of Congress is. Faison said as much in a memo he released publicly in late July: “If Republicans are going to keep the U.S. House and Senate, our candidates and our party must go on the offense on clean energy to win over swing voters.”

For those of you who wonder why I am still pursuing this issue, it's because way too many environmental organizations are continuing to drink Faison's Kool-aid:

Tuesday News: Voter suppression 3.0

MECKLENBURG ELECTIONS BOARD CUTS HOURS FOR EARLY VOTING (Charlotte Observer) -- Despite pleas not to curtail early voting, Mecklenburg County elections officials voted Monday to cut the overall number of hours from the 2012 election by 238, even while opening as many as 22 sites around the county. The board of elections voted in front of an overflow crowd of about 150, almost all of whom wanted more hours to vote early.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article95859972.html

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