Saturday News: Another attack on Constitution repelled


APPEALS COURT TOSSES DISTRICT MAPS FOR WAKE COMMISSIONERS, SCHOOL BOARD (WRAL-TV) -- A federal appeals court on Friday ruled that new voting district maps for the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education are unconstitutional because they violate equal representation rules.

WAKE SCHOOL BOARD, COMMISSIONER ELECTIONS IN FLUX AFTER DISTRICT MAPS CALLED ILLEGAL (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has declared as unconstitutional the election maps that state legislators drew for the Wake County Board of Commissioners and school board. In response, state lawmakers plan to present revised election maps Friday.

NC House serves Apodaca a bi-partisan rejection of Asheville gerrymandering

A whiff of Democracy returns to the General Assembly:

Fisher: “It is beyond my ability to understand why Asheville has been the continual target for authoritarian and penalizing legislation for much of the 12 years I have spent here. I resent the idea that the current senior senator and rules chair feels he must take one last parting shot at the city of Asheville when he in fact only represents a fraction of the residents of that city, less than 10,000. Ladies and gentlemen of the House, I urge you to vote no. And especially if you live in cities and towns that are trying their best to govern your whole city or town. Because beware: Yours may be the next city to be gerrymandered.”

Whether it was Fisher’s words or something else, something shifted. The House would debate for another 40 minutes, with some of the loudest arguments against the bill coming not from Democrats, but from Republicans.

Something definitely shifted, and I have a hunch it was that little voice in the back of some GOP lawmakers' minds whispering: Just because you can do something, it doesn't automatically follow that you should. And then giving words to those thoughts:

Hard-charging prosecutor, or serial killer?

The preponderance of evidence points to the latter:

During Britt’s tenure, the report found, a defendant in Robeson County was almost 100 times more likely to be sentenced to death than a randomly selected murder defendant in the United States. At one point, one of every 25 people on death row in the United States had been prosecuted by Britt.

Britt often cut corners to win. Appellate courts found that Britt committed misconduct in 14 of his capital cases, the new report shows. His offenses included hiding evidence that might have proven defendants innocent and making inflammatory and improper statements to jurors.

And yet, with all the evidence compiled against this man, he never spent one minute behind bars for his crimes against humanity. Here was an opportunity to forward the cause of justice, by punishing blatant prosecutorial misconduct, but we flinched. Whether it was "maintaining decorum" or actual complicity in his crimes, it doesn't really matter. The injustice stands, and (to a certain extent) survives, in the hearts and minds of many doing that job today.

The archetype of bad McCrory hires: Todd Chasteen for state Board of Education

Protégé of Franklin Graham is the last person who should be nominated:

“We should reject Governor McCrory’s recent nomination of Wataugan J. Todd Chasteen to the North Carolina Board of Education,” said Appalachian State University English professor Craig Fischer at a public forum at the university earlier this week, objecting to Chasteen’s lack of experience in public education.

“Chasteen sided with would-be censors during last year’s battle over keeping Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits in the sophomore English Honors curriculum at Watauga High,” Fischer added. “He spoke on behalf of banning the book at a February 10, 2014 school board local forum about the controversy, claiming–inaccurately–that Allende’s book is full of ‘deviancy’ and child pornography.”

I'm not sure how deeply the (state) Board of Education is involved in setting curricula or reading materials for schools state-wide, but this guy has no business making any of those choices. What little experience he has is steeped in religious doctrine:

Friday News: Time to go back to a Blue NC

N.C.’S IN PLAY? RED STATE JUST MIGHT BE UP FOR GRABS (Salon) -- The only way the GOP could have screwed it up for this year’s presidential nominee is likely to do exactly what it has done: Overreach. After a couple of years of quietly gutting state services and turning the state university system over to a George W. Bush flunky in a political appointment so transparent it would have embarrassed a banana republic strongman, the legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory finally went too far with the passage and signing of HB2.

John Hood's "cheerleading" glosses over uncounted suffering

Lost somewhere between fluff and nonsense:

The General Assembly’s latest contribution to that effort, a 2016-17 state budget, will continue to make North Carolina a national leader in conservative reform. It cuts taxes for virtually all households, saves nearly half a billion dollars more in the state’s rainy-day fund, and offsets new spending on high priorities such as teacher pay and law enforcement with cuts and economies elsewhere in the budget. It also advances core conservative ideas such as school choice, innovation, competition, and pay for performance.

Bolding mine. The only thing true Libertarians hate more than tax-and-spend is to dedicate taxpayer dollars to build up huge (government-controlled) reserves. That's a half-billion dollars that should have remained in the pockets of those individuals John Hood says are the best ones to decide its use. That "rainy-day fund" also exposes one of the GOP's biggest weaknesses, the ability to estimate/predict costs on an annual basis. Every year since they've taken over, huge budget inconsistencies have emerged, with massive shortages and magical surpluses appearing and disappearing. The sheer incompetence boggles the mind. If that happened in the private sector, the entire accounting department would be fired, and there'd likely be some embezzling indictments to follow that. Back to the huge mound of BS:

Achievement School District bill heads to McCrory


State-sponsored piracy of public schools:

The House passed the Senate version of a bill Wednesday to create a five-school Achievement School District pilot program for schools that have shown consistently poor growth and performance.

A State Board of Education-appointed superintendent could choose charter companies with proven success to run the schools. The companies would have hiring and firing powers and would be exempt from oversight and evaluations from local school boards.

There are numerous faulty assumptions built into this bill, not the least of which is the idea that removing a critical oversight mechanism (local school boards) will somehow encourage performance. And considering these boards are comprised of locally-elected officials, it actually takes away parental control. But in the minds of Republicans, ideology trumps logic every time.

Thursday News: For their eyes only

LAW BARRING PUBLIC ACCESS TO POLICE CAM FOOTAGE ABOUT TO PASS (The Atlantic/CityLab) -- Remember that bill that would restrict police body-camera footage from the the public, the one that North Carolina’s House judiciary committee passed earlier this month? Well, it has been approved by the full state House of Representatives and has passed through the state Senate as of Wednesday afternoon. It now heads back to the House for another vote on language added to the legislation. If that is approved, the bill will go to Governor Pat McCrory, who is expected to sign it into law. The bill renders any footage captured by a police officer’s body camera or police dashboard camera closed from public view.

GOP doubles-down on HB2 bigotry: Sex reassignment "certificate" required

Either show me your woo-woo or show me your papers:

A leaked draft of proposed changes to N.C. House Bill 2 ignited controversy Tuesday, drawing criticism from both supporters and detractors of the law.

The leaked draft of the changes, widely circulated this week, would: Keep the bathroom provisions as they are. Create a “certificate of sex reassignment” for North Carolinians who come from states without a way to update birth certificates. Since many transgender people do not wish to have surgery to obtain a new birth certificate, LGBT advocates oppose such a plan. They also express concern that this would effectively create a state registry of those who have had such surgeries, raising privacy issues.

And once again, the faux-Libertarian "privacy rights" crowd produces a deafening silence. Liberty for some, tyranny for others, especially if those others don't conform to a broken moral compass wielded by self-appointed religious prophets. What's funny (really not funny) is how Tea Party nutters obsess over the dangers posed by ISIS and "Radical Islam," but I'm beginning to think they're just jealous. Jealous that they can't march through a town and summarily execute deviants and/or tribes that refuse to conform to their twisted ideologies. Is that hyperbole? Examine the parallels and then get back to me.


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