LGBT advocates take their fight to Raleigh

And it's a fight to protect the safety of citizens:

Supporters say the ordinance protects transgender people from being harassed or assaulted for trying to use the restroom and sets a tone of tolerance and acceptance for the Charlotte community.

Erica Lachowitz said she was beaten nearly to death while she was walking down a street 20 years ago for being transgender. Now, she has a family and a job she loves in Charlotte, and she worked to get the ordinance passed, saying forcing her to use a men's room would subject her to harassment and assault.

In some ways it is unfortunate this ordinance was passed in the run-up to a Presidential Election, especially considering Trump's Primary victory here. All General Assembly seats are up for grabs, and there is a big chunk of (possibly new) bigoted voters out there to "impress" with hateful antics. It does not bode well for the survival of this non-discrimination effort, but the support must continue.

A history lesson about Margaret Spellings

She wants people to get to know her, so let's do that:

The U.S. Education Department certainly found this to be the case in 2004, when reviewers there wrote a scathing report about how the corporate bosses at the University of Phoenix pressure and intimidate their recruiters to put "asses in the classes," including those of unqualified students.

Meanwhile, a commission, appointed by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, to critique higher education singled out for-profit colleges for praise, without acknowledging the serious charges that have been leveled against some of these companies.

This article was written in early 2007, and the formal complaints and lawsuits dealing with the University of Phoenix were already legion. But Margaret Spellings didn't just want to boost for-profit colleges, she wanted to radically alter the way the Federal government managed higher ed, and awarded tuition assistance:

Advocacy matters: Offshore drilling in Atlantic OCS off the table


The people have spoken, and the President has heard:

The Obama administration is expected to withdraw its plan to permit oil and gas drilling off the southeast Atlantic coast, yielding to an outpouring of opposition from coastal communities from Virginia to Georgia but dashing the hopes and expectations of many of those states’ top leaders.

I have no doubt that if it hadn't been for the tireless work of many unpaid volunteers working with NC's environmental organizations, this victory (when it's formally announced) would not have happened. These folks made countless trips from the Triangle, the Triad, and even the mountain areas, to various coastal communities to lend their support and organizing skills, the entire time faced with the knowledge they were fighting a billion-dollar industry. And the sheer number of brave municipal governments all along the coast who took a stand against offshore drilling is amazing. Movements like this are rare, and the thousands of hours devoted to making them happen deserves recognition. We should also never forget what's at stake:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

If you see any shenanigans, sic Will on them:

And call Democracy NC at 1-888-OUR-VOTE

False sense of security: The truth about provisional ballots

They shouldn't be considered a viable option:

Voters this year will encounter new photo identification rules for the first time, although advocacy groups point out that there are ways for those without a valid photo ID to cast a ballot.

"We don't want anyone to be confused," said Gary Sims, director of the Wake County Board of Elections. While there are safeguards to ensure everyone can vote, people should make it easy on themselves and election workers, Sims said.

Bolding mine. The last thing I want to do is discourage people from voting, but they need to understand that casting a provisional ballot is akin to gambling with their Constitutional rights. First of all, these ballots will be scrutinized for validity by local boards of election, and every single one of those 100 county boards is dominated by a Republican majority. And you've got about a 50/50 chance of having your vote rejected:

The NC GOP's prejudicial treatment of college voters

Distrust and contempt aimed at the best and brightest:

Michael Perry, Durham elections director, said he suspects students in Durham are using the “reasonable impediment” route to get around the photo ID requirement.

He bases that suspicion on a question he was asked during a voter education forum at Duke University on whether the inability to get to the DMV would count as a reasonable impediment. “I can’t prove it, but that’s what I believe is happening,” he said.

Really? One student asks you a question, and that constitutes a campus-wide conspiracy? Apparently this conspiracy is actually state-wide, since the vast majority of provisional ballots were submitted in areas with large university populations. And as far as this poorly thought-out garbage from Francis DeLuca:

Senator Burr forced to cast provisional ballot


It's quite possible the dog ate my driver's license:

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr cast a ballot during the the early voting period for the North Carolina primary after going to a polling place without an acceptable form of identification. Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem running for re-election, cast a provisional ballot and filled out a “reasonable impediment” form, state elections records show.

“Sen. Burr discovered he lost his ID when he arrived at the polling location, but he went out and got a new drivers license,” his spokeswoman said in an email.

And I'd like to know exactly what forms of identification he was asked to present by the DMV. If one were cynical, one might speculate this whole thing was staged, so the Senator could be called to testify in court that the Voter ID issue is not partisan in nature. Or something along those lines.

McCrory's DMV actively engaged in voter suppression

It's no longer just a coincidence:

Knowing that she would need a photo ID to vote in North Carolina, Burke asked a friend to drive her to the Department of Motor Vehicles office on Patton Avenue on Feb. 10. She had with her a Maine driver’s license, social security card and North Carolina Medicaid card, but was told that she needed a document showing her full middle name rather than the initial “M” (for Marie).

“Because I didn’t have anything that the DMV said I needed to have, like a birth certificate, divorce decree, income tax or W-2 forms stating what the M stood for, I was refused a picture ID,” wrote Burke in a statement.

Her voter registration has her listed as "Juliet M. Burke." Verifying her full middle name should not be part of the DMV's task, and it probably isn't officially. This needs to be investigated properly, with all e-mails and other communications from the agency down to regional offices subpoenaed, to see what kind of guidance and directives have been sent out.

Open filing for Supreme Court seat March 16-25

Using the legal system to repair the legal system:

Sabra Faires, a Wake County attorney, filed a lawsuit last year asking the three-judge panel to toss out the law, arguing that moving from contested elections to up-or-down retention votes was a change that required a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution – something that did not happen.

Faires and two Wake County voters who joined her in the lawsuit faced off against the state Board of Elections in a hearing last month. The three-judge panel ruled in favor of the challengers. Faires said earlier this week that she plans to file as a candidate.

This could get ugly pretty quickly. If the GOP decides to pull the same kind of trick they tried with Robin Hudson, by stacking the Primary with Republican Justice candidates and banking on the non-partisan "you may choose two" effect, there could be two R's running against each other in November. In a perfect world, Sabra Faires would be facing Edmunds in the General. She's earned it. But if things get weird, having more Dems in the lineup may be the only way to secure that seat and flip the Court. And just to rectify some sloppy reporting:


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