Everyone is asking the same question

Who picks the winners: Party or people?

In the ideal view of American government, voters choose the leaders who will guide their states and country. But some say the way U.S. House and state legislative districts are drawn has turned that idea on its head: Every 10 years, the party in power picks which voters incumbents will face in the next election. Results of this year's general election have once again fueled concerns about North Carolina's redistricting process, one in which the state General Assembly draws lines for U.S. House and legislative districts once a decade. Exactly half of all 120 state Houses races in November featured only one candidate. In the Senate, 19 of 50 races had just the one candidate. Only 30-40 of the remaining seats in the two chambers were truly "in play," meaning either candidate had a realistic chance of winning, according to state political experts

http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/12/01/picks-winners-party-people/19749891/

NC Works Online: A waste of tax dollars

As a free-market kind of guy, I'm always on alert for places where the private sector does a great job serving a public need. One of those places is the jobs marketplace, where a host of services are available at the click of a mouse. From Indeed to Monster to Craigslist to good old-fashioned job fairs, there is no shortage of options for helping connect people with jobs.

DC's newest chickenhawk: Thom Tillis

Gee, I wonder why he didn't say these things during election debates:

Sen.-elect Thom Tillis (R) of North Carolina and Sen.-elect Gary Peters (D) of Michigan called on Congress Sunday to debate a measure authorizing military strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“I think it would probably be wise so that you move forward again,” Tillis said. “The president and the Congress need to find opportunities to show some way of coming together. That would be a show of good faith from the president and I think it would give Congress more confidence they’re part of the process,” he added.

Really? You want to send more American troops to die in battle because it could grease the wheels of bipartisanship? Are you completely insane, or just terminally clueless? Here's an idea, you could work with the President to help veterans who have already pulled 2-3 tours of combat duty, and maybe cut down on their horrific suicide rate, instead of adding to their numbers senselessly.

Daily dose: To seem rather than to be

POLICY & POLITICS
Boehner Faces the First Days of New Power in Congress (New York Times) -- John A. Boehner does not want to be remembered as the Shutdown Speaker. As Congress returns from recess on Monday facing a Dec. 11 deadline for funding the government, Mr. Boehner and his fellow Republican leaders are working to persuade the rank and file — furious over President Obama’s executive action on immigration — that engaging in a spending confrontation is the wrong way to counter the White House. That would set the wrong tone, they argue, as Republicans prepare to take over Congress and fulfill promises to govern responsibly. … “Shutting down the entire government over something never did make sense to the American people, still doesn’t and won’t in the future,” said Senator Richard M. Burr, R-NC, who is part of Mr. Boehner’s inner circle. Like other Boehner insiders, he believes that the speaker, bolstered by election victories, is looking beyond the immediate fight. “There is certainly an opportunity for him to put his mark on the largest Republican House majority in a long time,” Mr. Burr said. “To me, that is a big motivating factor.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/01/us/politics/boehner-faces-the-first-days-of-new-power-in-congress....

NC voter suppression on steroids: GOP seeks to disqualify entire precinct

Your voting rights are negotiable:

At issue is a protest that seeks to disqualify all the ballots cast in a heavily Democratic precinct, which also happened to be the last one in on election night. The official results – recounted last week – show Zapple winning by just 186 votes over Republican challenger Derrick Hickey.

Hickey and Republican Skip Watkins, who won his race, received only a few dozen votes compared to more than 1,000 for Zapple and Democrat Patricia Spears, who came in fourth. After a contentious meeting, the New Hanover County Board of Elections upheld the outcome of the election.

Just a fair warning to the State BoE: If you even entertain the notion that this many voters could have their voices stifled, people as far away as Waziristan are going to be reading about it.

Daily dose: End of November edition

McCrory's plan to save money: Nothing to see here
Decrease in NC autopsies troubles police and medical officials (Charlotte Observer) -- The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner asked staff last year not to autopsy the bodies of hundreds of people who died in suspicious or unexpected circumstances, lowering the use of the state’s best tool for determining an exact cause of death. A June 2013 memo, obtained through a public records request, outlined the types of cases that pathologists in Raleigh should not autopsy on a regular basis. Included were the bodies of people older than 40 in apparent natural deaths, victims of alcohol or cocaine poisoning, or those whom police believe committed suicide with a gun or by hanging. The memo contradicts part of the state’s own guidelines, which call for autopsies on everyone from homicide and hit-and-run victims to bodies that have been charred or skeletonized.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/11/29/4363618/decrease-in-nc-autopsies-troubles.html

News of the 1%: Brother Nelson elevated to Fed

My future's so bright, I gotta wear shades:

The CEO of Charlotte-based National Gypsum has been elected a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, becoming one of nine members of the bank’s board. Nelson will serve a three-year term as a Class B director. The bank’s board is made of three classes of directors, with three directors for each class. Class B and C members represent the public. Class A directors represent Federal Reserve member banks in a district.

Federal Reserve member banks elect the Class A and B directors. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C., appoints the Class C directors.

Oh, so "the public" is represented by one-percenters who are filthy rich, but not actual bankers. Gotcha. For a minute there I thought the Fed might be a little top-heavy. Yes, that was sarcasm. And for those who are worried I might turn this into a weekly diary, fear not. I'd rather follow a parade with a shovel.

Daily dose: conflicts-of-interest edition

POLICY & POLITICS
Growing signs of conflicts of interest in N.C. governor's office (Charlotte Business Journal) -- It’s getting hard to keep up with all the conflicts of interest inside the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory. The latest news comes in a story revealing that his environmental agency has hired a former lawyer for Duke Energy Corp. to advise the administration on regulations about coal ash that affect the company.
http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/print-edition/2014/11/28/growing-signs-of-conflicts-of-interest...

Seeking Justice, Accountability, and Truth Amid Institutional Failure

“[The criminal justice system] is not set up for the victim, it's set up for due process for the accused.”
Amily McCool, NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (as quoted in the DTH, 11/25/14)

For several days, I've been thinking intently about the above quote, which I read in a Daily Tar Heel article about the issues survivors of sexual assault face in trying to pursue criminal charges against their attackers. Below the fold of Tuesday's edition ran the headline, “Rape Still Ignored by Law Enforcement,” and, underneath that, were two stories: “Forgotten Rape Leaves a Broken Mother” and “Data Shows Prosecutors Ignore Campus Assault.”

Daily dose: Black Friday edition

State workers get bus passes to help avoid Beltline crush (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Starting next week, DOT funds will pay for GoPasses – good for use on Triangle Transit and Capital Area Transit buses – for local state workers through August 2016. Eligible workers will be asked to pay a $25 administrative fee. The state offered GoPasses until the end of 2012, when officials said they didn’t have money in the budget to continue covering the $176,000 expense. This time the passes will be paid for from a $12 million fund DOT set up for other measures related to the Beltline repair project, including express buses to Raleigh from outlying towns.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/11/27/4358867/state-workers-get-bus-passes-to.html

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