NCGA

Pay-to-play on NC's beaches

Just another day in the NC GOP's casino royale:

A North Carolina nonprofit with deep political connections received $5 million in the state budget for a beach nourishment study and design project, even though it has never done that type of work and is headquartered more than 250 miles from the coast. Lawmakers appropriated the funding to the Resource Institute, based in Winston-Salem, through a one-time “grant-in-aid” – pass-through money – from the state Division of Water Resources.

Since 2016, board members and principals of the Institute, as well as several of its contractors, have contributed $84,000 to House and Senate leadership and Republican lawmakers key to their interests, including Rep. Kyle Hall and Sen. Bill Rabon, according to campaign finance records.

Okay, aside from the stench of corruption and patronage associated with this, it also exposes another Legislative vs. Executive Branch power struggle. That $5 million might have been earmarked, but it also shows up on the bottom line of funding to DEQ. In other words, when GOP lawmakers are (rightfully) criticized for not properly funding the environmental department, and they grab a base number to dispute that, this will be included in that self-righteous rebuttal. The ugly truth is, Republicans in the Legislature *have* to co-opt Executive agencies to enrich their friends, because their branch really doesn't do much of anything in the form of actual "work" for the people of North Carolina. Call it "Purse Strings vs. Apron Strings," if you want a handy provincial illustration, but that manipulation of funding is a prime example of the GOP's irresponsible approach to doing the people's business. And of course, like many of these other sweet deals, there's a former lawmaker having a great time with the revolving door:

Note to Andrew Dunn: You're done, pack it up

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The last thing we need is another spokesbot for GOP tyrants:

The session certainly looks bad from the outside. But let’s calm down for a second and actually look at the two bills the Republican-majority legislature sent to the governor on Tuesday. The first bill is House Bill 3, which has to do with how constitutional amendments are presented to voters for approval.

In a quirk of state law, the current policy is to let a panel of three elected officials write a short “caption” to appear in front of the language of the amendment on the ballot. These captions are not necessary. Why have a politicized process to write them in the first place? The bill simply wipes these captions off the ballot. Makes sense.

It is not a "quirk" of state law, it was enacted as statute in 1983, and reinforced just two years ago, by the same people who now choose to ignore it:

Tim Moore is the poster child for campaign finance reform

Here are just a few of his generous donors:

Under GOP leadership, NC's income gap is the widest in decades

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The inequality is now staggering:

In North Carolina, the average income for someone in the top one percent is 20.6 times larger than everyone else, a figure that has increased substantially during the Great Recession and is much higher than it was in the 1960s through early 1980s. The top one percent took home over 17 percent of all income in North Carolina in 2015, and the top 0.1 percent commanded 7.4 of all income. In 1974, when the level of income inequality in North Carolina was the lowest in modern history, the top one percent only consumed 7.8 percent of all North Carolina income.

Not an accident, it's by design. And the vast majority of the Republican base has unknowingly contributed to its own decline.

Counterpoint: LGBTQ-friendly companies should *not* boycott states like North Carolina

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Locating here might be just what the doctor ordered:

In my late 20s, I followed a Sapphic North Star to Seattle, one of the nation’s most progressive cities. There, I met my wife at a coffee shop in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where we would later share our first home together. We were represented by a gay mayor and two gay state legislators, while benefiting from robust statewide nondiscrimination protections—a lucky situation we only occasionally thought about.

Safeguards like these are far too rare for far too many. Only 44 percent of all LGBTQ people nationwide have these same guarantees today, and none of them live in the South—where we now live, in North Carolina. Here, we and all LGBTQ people are keenly aware of the potential vulnerabilities we face in the eyes of employers, landlords, and others. With the differing experiences of Washington and North Carolina in mind, it’s clear what is and is not useful in advancing equality nationwide—and ill-considered corporate relocation boycotts are definitely in the latter category.

I recently got into a pointless argument with somebody who basically said, "If you're a straight white male you should STFU and let marginalized people lead the discussion." And I get most of that. But I also know if I don't speak out in certain venues and media (like this one), the issues won't be addressed at all, or at best very infrequently. With that said, the opinion expressed above has been on my mind for some time also. The thing about boycotts is, they "isolate." The intention to isolate a state as punishment for discriminatory practices, in order to generate a loss of commerce, seems like a valid approach. Hurt 'em in their wallets, as it were. But that isolation comes at a cost to the LGBTQ folks who could have found employment and solidarity working at these companies. And those opportunities are desperately needed here in the South:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Apparently the fix was in:

I genuinely hope this doesn't turn tragic, but after a couple more years of Trumpism, 2020 could be one of the ugliest years in American history. It won't be a garden party, that's for sure.

Struggling in the Gap: NC GOP's refusal to expand Medicaid is a health crisis

The march of the walking wounded:

In the spring of 2017, a tractor trailer side-swiped the car Hendell Curtis was driving not far from his North Raleigh home. His longtime lack of health insurance made getting needed medical care afterwards a physcial and financial minefield.

The crash left Curtis requiring surgery to install a metal plate to stabilize weakened vertebrate in his lower back. A settlement from the truck driver’s auto insurance will cover the surgery, but only AFTER it is complete.

Get that? The accident was not his fault, but he is the one living with a broken back because of it. Let down by the system, let down by the ideologues running the General Assembly. And (of course) if he'd had enough money to hire a fancy lawyer, the settlement from the insurance company would have paid for everything upfront, with enough left over to live on for the rest of his life. But that's another world, one that he and many others can only read about. Here's more about the Gap:

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