NCGA

R.I.P. Durham-Orange Light Rail

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It was a nice dream while it lasted:

The GoTriangle board of trustees voted unanimously but reluctantly Wednesday to end the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project. After a closed-door session Wednesday, general manager Jeff Mann recommended to the board that the agency discontinue the $2.7 billion construction project to connect UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill with Duke University and other destinations along an 18-mile route.

Opposition from Duke University, escalating project costs and two state deadlines were forcing possible major cuts in the 19-station project, including eliminating a planned stop at N.C. Central University, GoTriangle officials said.

To say this is "unfortunate" would be a gross understatement. No plan is perfect, but this one was pretty damn good. *sigh*

Harry Brown attacks wind energy in NC (again)

Allison Riggs makes strong showing at Supreme Court

And she didn't take any crap from Brett Kavanaugh:

Justice Neil Gorsuch seemed to agree that the problem of partisan gerrymandering is one that should be left for the political branches of government to deal with. Justice Brett Kavanaugh echoed this concern. He told Allison Riggs, who argued for a second group of challengers in the North Carolina case, that he understood “some of your argument to be that extreme partisan gerrymandering is a problem for democracy.” Referring to activity in the states and in Congress to combat partisan gerrymandering, Kavanaugh asked whether we have reached a moment when the other actors can do it.

Riggs responded that North Carolina, at least, is not at that moment. When Kavanaugh responded, “I’m thinking more nationally,” Riggs shot back that “other options don’t relieve this Court of its duty to vindicate constitutional rights.”

And of course she's right. What Kavanaugh doesn't grasp (or is ignoring) is the fact that some of those states allow popular movements to amend their constitutions without prior approval by the Legislative body. Like they did in Michigan, where proponents had to collect enough signatures to get independent redistricting on the November ballot. North Carolina doesn't allow for that, making Kavanaugh's argument both inappropriate and irrelevant. Also inappropriate:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The big day is here:

Sending good vibes to Allison Riggs and others as they defend democracy for us...

NC A&T a case study in partisan gerrymandering

Divided and conquered without an opportunity to protest:

In adopting the electoral map, the legislature partitioned the campus of North Carolina A&T State University, the nation's largest historically black public college, into two separate districts.

"We had one person representing us who shared our beliefs. Now we have two people who don't really represent us," said Smith, 24, a 2017 graduate who works with voting-rights group Common Cause, which is among the plaintiffs challenging the new districts.

This particular move may be the partisan straw that broke the mapmaker's back. It should be, anyway. Not even the worst justices (Thomas and Kavanaugh) on our conservative Supreme Court could swallow the idea splitting NC A&T in half was merely a coincidence, or that students are better off with two Representatives instead of one. Their votes were "cracked," to use the parlance of the mapmakers themselves, and there is no viable defense of that. And this argument might be even worse:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Wanton abuse of power:

It's not like this was a "secret" feud, we've known about it for some time now. And yet, Republicans on the Board have kept him in that (unearned and clearly ill-advised) position of power in spite of that massive conflict of interest. And of course Republicans in the General Assembly have stood by and watched while their experiment in partisan manipulation has blown up the laboratory. Big, stinking mess.

The legalization of marijuana can no longer be ignored by Democrats

Pay close attention, because the your base surely is:

The issue today is a pillar of progressive politics, but not because of graying hippies who like their Rocky Mountain High. Rather, for many Democrats, legalization has become a litmus test for candidates’ commitment to equal treatment for all races in policing and criminal justice as well as fighting economic inequality.

Numerous states already have or soon will legalize the use of marijuana in one shape or another, but North Carolina (not to mention the Federal government) is still incarcerating tens of thousands under its misguided "War On Drugs" mentality. You can beat somebody until they're almost lifeless, or defraud them out of their family's meager savings, and get less jail time than having a half-pound of a certain plant, and when that insanely warped system of (in)justice falls heavily on young black males, the motives behind it become crystal clear:

Fifty thousand barrels: Craft brewers (finally) win their struggle

Of course this should have happened years ago:

Ending a two-year battle, North Carolina’s biggest craft brewers have reached a compromise with the state’s wholesale distributors that would let them and other large brewers at least double their annual production. The effort pitted the fast-growing craft beer industry against wholesale distributors, a group that reinforced its clout with nearly $1.5 million in political contributions in the last four years.

The compromise announced Wednesday would create a new category of “Mid-Sized Independent Breweries” such as NoDa, Olde Meck and Red Oak. Their ability to self-distribute would be raised to 50,000 barrels. The new law would allow mid-sized breweries to distribute “up to” 50,000 barrels a year. Breweries would not lose that authorization if they exceeded 50,000 barrels. However, this new authorization would be limited only to those breweries that sell less than 100,000 barrels of beer per year.

This is really good news, especially for people like me who would love to have a craft brewer set up shop in our small towns. Something like that can be a major catalyst for economic revitalization, but that previous cap had held many craft brewers back. Cheers!

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