scharrison's blog

Fascism Watch: Campus protest goes out with a whimper

When a handful of written words becomes a vocal gag:

The constituent institution shall implement a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone under the jurisdiction of a constituent institution who substantially disrupts the functioning of the constituent institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others, including protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in and listen to expressive activity when the expressive activity has been scheduled pursuant to this policy or is located in a nonpublic forum.

The 1st Amendment has always been a confusing and controversial concept, because for every opinion, there is an opposing one. It was true in 1789 when the Bill of Rights was demanded by the separate states before they would ratify the Constitution, and it's true today. But for all the lofty arguments and debate about who infringes on whom, or yelling "Fire!" in a theater, the overriding message of the 1st Amendment is that government should not be in the business of dictating who gets to speak and who doesn't. And delegating that decision-making to some Orwellian committee doesn't negate the General Assembly's huge Constitutional blunder with this bill:

Excerpts from Governor Cooper's newest lawsuit opposing GOP power grab

Just the fact he is forced to do this is infuriating:

4. This General Assembly's continued, direct attacks on executive authority unconstitutionally infringe on the Governor's executive powers in violation of separation of powers, and improperly delegate legislative power without adequate guiding standards. N.C. CONST. art. I, § 6; id. art. II, § 1; id. art. Ill, §§ 1, 5(4).

5. As our Supreme Court recently observed, "The election of a particular candidate signifies public support for that candidate's platform, policies, and ideology." Young v. Bailey, 368 N.C. 665, 671, 781 S.E.2d 277, 281 (2016). Here, the General Assembly's efforts to disempower the Office of the Governor fail to respect the will of the electorate in selecting him as North Carolina's chief executive.

And just to clarify, neither Berger nor Moore can plead ignorance in taking these steps. They know exactly what they're doing when they violate the word and the spirit of the NC Constitution, and the fact they would so casually do it, merely for partisan gain, is such an abuse of the public's trust it boggles the mind. Here's more:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Big Sky, big water contamination problem

Ranchers in Montana have been fighting coal ash leaks for years:

During the construction of the coal fired Colstrip power plants in the 70’s and 80’s, adjacent landowners to the ash settling pond sites raised concerns about contamination from coal ash into the shallow aquifers. We in agriculture rely on these aquifers (water quality and quantity) for stock water and domestic use for our homes. During the permitting process, the Board of Health required Montana Power Company to construct the ponds to be “completely sealed.” In fact, the term was underlined within the permit language. The permit also required ponds to be a “closed loop system.”

Montana Power Company then successfully petitioned the Board of Health to alter the parameters of the permit AFTER THE PERMIT WAS GRANTED.

Before we continue, it's important to note: As with many industrial operations, "best practices" technology and processes already exist with coal ash management, that greatly reduce the likelihood and severity of toxic leakage. But those best practices cost money, and avoiding having to implement them has become an art with many utilities across the US. Back to Clint's testimony:

Republican judge retires early from CoA to protect the Court from GOP machinations

Pay attention, lawmakers, because this message is clear:

McCullough is one of three Republican members of the court approaching mandatory retirement. State law in North Carolina requires judges to retire at 72. McCullough, whose term does not expire until 2018, would have had to retire by May 28. McCullough’s letter to Cooper was brief.

In it he said, “it is my firm belief that it is appropriate that I retire now rather than wait approximately thirty-six more days I would be required to retire by operation of the law.” In an interview, McCullough said he retired several weeks early because he did not want his legacy to be an “impairment to the appeals court” by reducing its size.

Get that? Judge McCullough is retiring anyway, so he wouldn't have to suffer from cases piling up under only four 3-judge panels. And he knew good and well his replacement would be a Democrat. Those things did not matter. Protecting the viability and integrity of the NC Court of Appeals is the only thing that mattered to him, and every single GOP Legislator needs to keep that in mind when the Veto override vote gets called. Just because you can do a thing, it doesn't automatically follow that you should. Also, hat-tip to Roy Cooper for choosing John Arrowood. Because quality and equality in one capable package.

Legislative update: Plastic bag ban repeal and other nonsense

Brought to you by the inimitable (try to say that ten times real fast) Kirk Ross:

Boswell’s bill and yet another aimed at repealing the ban were scheduled to be heard in committee meetings earlier last week, but the bills were taken off the calendars before being heard.

The new provisions to repeal the bag ban were introduced by Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, who said it was time to end the prohibition. Cook, one of the committee co-chairs, said statistics from two beach cleanup projects before and after the ban proved it was ineffective. “It puts an unnecessary burden on our job creators and it has become very costly to business,” he said.

Ehhh. Bill Cook is fast becoming a bigger threat to the environment than C. Montgomery Burns. Here's more GOP "lawmaking":

Kakistocracy: NC GOP chooses man who sued Elections Board to sit on Elections Board

Civitas' Francis De Luca is the last name that should have come up:

Republicans’ latest attempt to overhaul the state’s elections and ethics board is still awaiting Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto stamp, but the N.C. Republican Party is already nominating members for the new board. Once Cooper vetoes the bill, the House and Senate are expected to override the veto and pass the bill into law. Based on the initial votes on April 11, it appears Republicans have the three-fifths majority needed for a successful override.

That likelihood appears to have prompted N.C. Republican Party chairman Robin Hayes to announce his picks on Thursday. He proposed a list of six candidates, and if the bill becomes law – and isn’t put on hold by courts – Cooper would pick four. Here’s who Hayes picked: Francis De Luca of Cary, leader of the conservative Civitas Institute and a former Ethics Commission member. De Luca sued the State Board of Elections last year seeking to delay the counting of absentee ballots. Stacy “Four” Eggers IV of Boone, a former member of Watauga County Board of Elections.

Don't really care about the other four, because these two dudes take the proverbial cake. Four Eggers is notorious for suppressing the vote on the local level in Watauga County, but De Luca set his sights much higher, challenging the votes of thousands of his fellow citizens, and trying his best to get rid of a process on which countless voters rely, Same-Day Registration:

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