Sunday News: LGBTQ Voices

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DISCRIMINATION BY ANY OTHER NAME: I am a woman who happens to be transgender. All I want is to be able to live my life like any other resident. On March 31, on the International Transgender Day of Visibility, I am speaking out against House Bill 142, the so-called HB2 “repeal” that Gov. Roy Cooper signed. I have lived under HB2 for the past year, forced to break the law just to use the restroom in public. HB 142 bans public buildings from having their own policies about bathroom access. That’s still discrimination. Cooper has shown that he is willing to fund his campaign with contributions from the LGBT community, then abandon us when asked to keep his promises. Transgender people deserve better.
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article142186849.html

Judge Marcia Morey chosen to serve out Paul Luebke's term in Legislature

A new voice for justice and the environment steps forward:

Durham County Democrats voted to appoint Morey to the House District 30 seat Thursday night. She is a permanent replacement for a vacancy created by the October death of Paul Luebke, 70, a Democrat who represented Durham for 25 years in the state House. Phil Lehman was appointed to the seat the night before the Nov. 8 election to fill the seat temporarily.

Five people were nominated to fill the two-year seat. Morey, 61, received a majority of votes from a subset of the Durham County Democratic Party that included precinct chairs and vice chairs and elected officials who live in the district.

While Judge Morey downplays her status as an openly-gay addition to the General Assembly, her selection (and Chris Sgro's) by local Democratic Party officers is not something that should be written off as "meaningless," or bone-throwing, or whatever other dismissive term comes to mind. We need more LGBT folks in office, not fewer, and this move needs to be part of any discussion that takes place on the value of the Democratic Party's approach to matters of equality. I'm not saying it should "wipe away" concerns, just that it be included in the discussion for the sake of perspective.

Saturday News: Scammer-in-Chief?

JUDGE RULES TRUMP MUST PAY BACK $25 MILLION TO TRUMP UNIVERSITY VICTIMS: "Over the past seven years, our goal has always has been to help these everyday Americans move forward with their lives," attorney Amber Eck said. The Democratic New York attorney general said the ruling "will provide relief — and hopefully much-needed closure — to the victims of Donald Trump's fraudulent university." The lawsuits alleged that Trump University gave nationwide seminars that were like infomercials, constantly pressuring people to spend more and, in the end, failing to deliver. Political rivals used Trump's depositions and extensive documents filed in the lawsuits to portray him as dishonest and deceitful.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article141892594.html

Roy Cooper goes on the record about HB142 deal

Actually, Doug Clark's blog is called Off The Record, but let's not quibble:

The Democratic governor is engaged in damage control today. He even called me, even though my take and the N&R editorial favored the compromise while acknowledging its drawbacks. We spoke for 23 minutes, mostly on the record. Cooper insisted yesterday's bill represents "nothing but forward movement" for North Carolina and ticked off the reasons why.

By repealing HB 2, it removes any directive on bathroom use. "People can go where they want," he said, meaning that transgender men can use men's facilities, transgender women can use women's facilities as they always have. Gone is the language requiring them to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.

I've been hawking social media today to gauge responses, and have seen a lot of analyses that point out what this deal has actually accomplished, versus yesterday's seeming consensus that it was HB2 all over again. But those who do support this move need to be real damn careful, and not create false hope. Just because HB2's bathroom/birth certificate bullshit is no longer statute, it doesn't automatically follow that, "People can go where they want." If it wasn't a problem before, if transgender men and women didn't have to "hold it" or make 2-3 trips home every day just to use the bathroom, that part of the Charlotte Ordinance wouldn't have been needed in the first place. It was a problem, and still is a problem, because without protections every trip to a public restroom is a gamble. And after a whole year of HB2 controversy, that gamble probably feels a lot more dangerous than before. Here are some other facets that may have been overlooked yesterday:

Tryon Equestrian partner to fuel massive Trump propaganda machine

The Mercer family is the worst of the one-percenters:

Making America Great, a nonprofit run by Rebekah Mercer, one of Trump’s most influential donors, will begin airing $1 million in television ads on Wednesday, coupled with a $300,000 digital advertising campaign. The TV ads will run in the District of Columbia, along with ten states Trump carried in the presidential election where a Democratic senator is up for re-election in 2018: West Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Montana and Pennsylvania. The digital campaign also will focus on voters in those states.

“Our group will be a conduit to highlight President Trump’s achievement to the rest of the country,” says Emily Cornell, who is moving from the Mercer-funded data firm Cambridge Analytica to run Making America Great’s day-to-day operations. “We are here to promote successes and hold accountable broken promises -- not just to those who voted for Trump, but to all Americans.”

Really? I would imagine you've got your hands full on that "holding accountable" thing already, since Mister Drain The Swamp has surrounded himself with swamp monsters. If you're frequently plagued by nausea, you may want to skip reading the following:

Friday News: The aftermath of HB142

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HB2 REPEAL DEAL WIDELY VIEWED AS BAIT-AND-SWITCH, NOT REAL COMPROMISE: The NCAA had threatened to remove all championship basketball games from the state through 2022 if H.B. 2 was not repealed by Thursday. Because the political and financial cost of such a move would dwarf the billions already lost to the law, on Wednesday night the state’s Republican leadership and the new Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, forged an unholy deal — a kind of bait-and-switch meant to keep NCAA games and their revenue in the Tar Heel State — and sent it to the legislature Thursday, where it was approved with bipartisan support and later signed by Cooper. “It’s not about principle, it’s about the money” was the overall take Thursday morning from the cafe gang of six, which included a real estate agent, an ironworker and a schoolteacher.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/you-cant-compromise-on-civil-rights-but-north-carolina-just-...

Historical context of the rise of HB2 and other discriminatory practices

Barry Yeoman at the Indy spells it out:

House Bill 2 seemed like a bolt from nowhere. One day transgender North Carolinians were living low-profile lives; the next day their most private moments were being bandied about without a modicum of understanding. But the new law was not a bolt from nowhere. It can be understood by examining the decades preceding its passage. If history is a river, then at least three distinct tributaries converged in Raleigh on March 23.

The first is the growing practice by state lawmakers—one that took root during the Reagan era—of slapping back local governments that get too proactive. The second is the successful national Republican effort to seize control of North Carolina's government. And the third is the recent visibility of transgender Americans, their push for legal equality, and the utterly predictable backlash.

Before we continue, a few words on what may be about to happen today. The supposed compromise bill that has emerged is, in some ways, worse than a few of the bills the GOP has floated since last year to repeal HB2. But it's important to understand, those other bills did *not* hit the floor for a vote, without some last-minute alterations that changed them into something different. So before we start whining about what could have been, keep that in mind. We don't really know what could have been, and speculation at this time is pointless. And before anybody starts lining up Democrats for excoriation for supporting this bill, such as a Tweet I just saw calling for a new NCDP Chair election to oust Wayne Goodwin, the responsibility for HB2 and its consequences falls solely on the shoulders of the Republicans who wrote it and passed it. They want this controversy to tear the Democratic Party apart, but we can't allow that to happen. The article continues:

Thursday News: One-way compromise?

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HB2 "DEAL" WOULD CONTINUE PROHIBITION OF TRANSGENDER BATHROOM CHOICE: North Carolina lawmakers could repeal House Bill 2 on Thursday under a deal struck late Wednesday night by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican legislative leaders. Senate leader Phil Berger announced the deal shortly after 10:30 p.m. The announcement capped days of marathon, often contentious negotiations and closed-door meetings. “I support the House Bill 2 repeal compromise that will be introduced tomorrow,” Cooper said in a statement. “It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation.” “The deal proposed would continue to actively discriminate against the LGBT community,” Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, said in a conference call.
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article141566264.html

Coal Ash Wednesday: The legal battle over cleanup costs begins

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Duke Energy is hoping to fleece ratepayers, but the AG's office is watching:

The coal ash costs that Duke Energy seeks to recover are out-of-the-ordinary and very concerning because they may result in large rate increases for consumers. There are important questions that need to be addressed regarding whether all of the costs that Duke Energy seeks to recover were reasonably and prudentially incurred. It would not be appropriate to make important, binding, substantive determinations regarding recovery of these costs in a procedural, accounting-related docket. The Commission should ensure that all of the issues regarding coal ash cost recovery will not be resolved or prejudged until there is a complete evidentiary record in the upcoming rate cases.

Just to bring you up to speed: After the dam failure that allowed a massive amount of toxic coal ash into the Dan River, Duke Energy's other coal ash impoundments have fallen under close scrutiny, and a number of them have been designated for removal and relocation of the ash to a safer storage place. Duke Energy has estimated these various projects could end up costing as much as ten billion, although many experts say that is wildly inflated. The bottom line is, Duke wants to recoup as much of that cost as it can from customers, shielding its stockholders from shouldering the burden. The Attorney General feels otherwise:

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