Will Black Plead?

The rumor mill has been operational all through the holidays and the latest ripples in the mill pond concern a possible plea bargain by Jim Black with federal prosecutors. Rumor has it that Jim Black is considering pleading to five felony counts and a two year sentence to avoid indictment on up to 50 felony counts with a protracted and expensive legal battle sure to produce damaging, even if not conclusive, evidence.

Whether a plea bargain is imminent or a federal indictment is to follow it seems apparent that a successor to Black in House District 100 will need to be found. Though the House does not formally convene until January 24th at 12 noon, terms began today January 1st. While the race for Speaker of the House is shaping up this is a great opportunity to search for a progressive candidate who could represent the dynamic demographics and vibrant economy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg and surrounding counties and municipalities should Black choose or, be forced to resign.

While the Speaker race is taking place behind closed doors and among House members there are a few clues in the wisps wafting from the smoke-filled rooms. The most likely candidates appear to be Drew Saunders, Dan Blue and Joe Hackney. Saunders appears to have the support of pro-business members but not the support of progressives. Hackney appears to have the support of progressives but few of the business oriented members. Blue has the support of the Black Caucus and a mix of pro-business and progressive members.

While it may be narrowing to a three-way race Hackney and Saunders could cancel each other out with Saunders having a slight edge in numbers. In a two-way with Saunders, Blue could count on Hackney’s progressive block. While I’m rooting for both Hackney and Blue it’s looking more likely that Blue has the least resistance, if not an edge. Hackney’s low profile during the ethics debate may have been a winning strategy had not Bernard Allen’s untimely death brought Dan Blue back into the legislative picture to witness the demise of Blue’s nemesis Jim Black in a latter-day Greek tragedy.

The Speaker race has been portrayed as internal House business, beyond the reach of ordinary citizens and elected official that are not House members. The selection of a successor to fill Jim Black’s House seat can not make the same claims to indifference.


Great summary, Greg.

I like your analysis - well done - and I still hope Joe pulls it out. I'd rather see Dan Blue take on Dole.

The Speaker race has been portrayed as internal House business, beyond the reach of ordinary citizens and elected official that are not House members. The selection of a successor to fill Jim Black’s House seat can not make the same claims to indifference.

I've heard this several times over the past month or so and have come to the strong conclusion that there is no such thing as "internal House business." These people work for us. We are paying their salaries and every vote they take is done on behalf of citizens they represent. This whole process needs to be 100% visible to whoever wants to see it unfold.

wow, wow, what, wow???!!!!

I mean, wow.

Great job Greg.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Lemons to lemonade

A replacement for Black's House seat would obviously be a matter for the people of the 100th District with an appointment ultimately made by Governor Mike Easley but it's an opportunity to make statement about the direction of the State Legislature.

It remains to be seen whether this would be a Black ally like Jim Woodward (UNCC Chancellor and Lottery Commissioner), Lee Myers (Matthews Mayor), Robert Cordle (State Board of Elections member and Black donor) or, a progressive like Jennifer Roberts. These are just regional examples. Of the four names only Myers is actually located in District 100.

A Few Thoughts...

In each of these two cases, the election of a new speaker and the possible appointment of a representative to replace Jim Black, the decision will be made without the consultation or input of the Democratic Party or the voters.

That's not really anyone's fault, the constitution and the NC house rules describe how these choices are made in a way that's duplicated by virtually every state in the union.

In the past, even if the legislature or the governor were so inclined to consult with the electorate, and the electorate had a point of view in the matter, there was no obvious way for that conversation to happen absent an election.

However, now there is a way for that conversation to happen, and that conversation would be with communities of net centric citizens who are politically engaged.

If that conversation is to involve BlueNC, first we must organize ourselves and reach a consensus as to those candidates that we can enthusiastically support. Once we've reached that consensus it becomes a matter of communicating our convictions persuasively to those charged with the ultimate decision.

As long as we remain inchoate and we don't speak with a clear and definitive voice then we will simply remain background noise. Yet BlueNC could, and should aspire to being something more than a community of interested observers who boo or cheer, after the fact, when decisions are made by others.

My concern is that at BlueNC we're damn good at informed consideration, but as to consensus and forceful advocacy with decision makers... well, I just don't know.

What does everyone else think?

I'm 56 years old. I moved to North Carolina five years ago. The previous twenty-five years I spent as a resident of Chicago's north shore and before that Wisconsin, Utah and California. I live in Moore County. My Congressman is Howard Coble, my State Sen

Herding cats

I doubt we'll get much true consensus, but I think we often arrive at something more like "convergence" on a broad range of issues. For example, we never had full consensus that Black should resign, but the sense of the community clearly leaned in that direction.

As to the Speaker's race, I've heard no body argue for anyone other than Joe Hackney or Dan Blue. A few other names have been tossed around, but none of them really stuck.

I'll see if I can figure out how to post a decent poll . . .

Isn't part of our objective here to try to open

that line of communications with our elected officials? Blogs are still in their infancy, but BlueNC is quickly becoming known as a powerful voice in North Carolina. We each have our own opinion, but it's the facts and research brought here that sways my vote. We've got to continue talking, even if it's only to each other, because many legislators and citizens DO read here. Getting them to come here and live-blog with us can be a matter of picking up the phone and inviting them.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

I thought I had posted,

but apparently my mind wandered, and I clicked another shiny link and off I went into cyberspace.

I don't necessarily see BlueNC as a consensus building apparatus, or a body that would endorse or throw support behind one issue or candidate. We all bring our own ideas here, learn, discuss, argue. I have refined my own political positions here in the last 5 months more than ever before because of the challenge of simply keeping pace.

Furthermore, I wouldn't want BlueNC to become an agent of endorsement - I think that would discourage the free discussion of ideas.

As for speaker, I like Blue or Hackney - but lean more towards Hackney. Mostly, I think Anglico is right. This should no longer be a backroom process. These folks are our employees. While I have no desire to micromanage, I do want to see exactly what's going on, and want to be able to follow a transaction - whether it involves money or power - from beginning to end without a microscope or x-ray vision.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Hackney and the ethics debate

Good stuff Greg, one point, though. Hackney was a pretty major player during the ethics debate pushing most of the bills through Judiciary I, which he chairs. Given the kind of opposition I heard out in the open, I was amazed that much stuff got through. If it hadn't, then the ethics argument the GOP tried to make might have had a greater impact in the election.
It's not enough and I hope we'll see the rules get tighter as we go.
The N&O has a take on what kicked in yesterday.


I have no doubt that he was working hard in the trenches making sure that the bills got through. That's what I meant by "low profile". I'm glad he was concentrating on getting as much of these bills through as possible and not on whether he would be the next Speaker. Whether there was a strategy or not it left him well placed to run for Speaker but the (re)-introduction of Dan Blue into the mix and the events surrounding Jim Black, changed many of the assumptions. Given what has happened, if Hackney had been just as diligent, but more visible or vocal, he might have more member support now. However a scenario with no Blue and a vindicated Black was also imaginable so I'm sure he played his best hand.