NCGA

Gameplan 2017: A roadmap for change

Four steps to a better North Carolina:

While not every district in the state must be redrawn, almost every district near a major city will be. And despite the fact that the same folks who drew the maps last time will be allowed to draw the maps this time, the result will almost certainly be a significant increase in the number of competitive seats. The only question is whether we can get folks to go vote in a special election.

So here’s the opportunity: Use the 2017 special election to break the supermajority in at least one of two chambers. If we can do that, we will be able to sustain Gov. Cooper’s vetoes, and that will completely change the political landscape by putting a crucial check on the absolute power currently held by the GOP.

Bolding mine. In order to override a Governor's Veto, both houses must succeed in doing so. Making our task not nearly as difficult as some may be thinking. But take it from somebody who just ran a campaign in an odd year (2015), voter turnout is a huge nut to crack. In my election, only about 11% of the population took part, and the average age was ancient. Most of those folks had voted for the same people numerous times, and any sort of change was viewed as reckless. So making sure that people are aware of the 2017 Election, and how important it is, will be job one:

Archetypal McCrory: Appoint gynecologist to Oil & Gas Commission

Because knowing how many centimeters a well has dilated is important:

This is the same Randall Williams who was a central figure in crafting the language in the “do drink” letters to well owners whose water might have been contaminated by coal ash from Duke Energy. Those letters, which rescinded previous “do not drink” advisories, downplayed the health risks of hexavalent chromium in drinking water.

This is the same Randall Williams who, along with Tom Reeder, assistant secretary for the environment, signed an editorial lambasting state toxicologist Ken Rudo, alleging that he lied under oath about how the language was settled on, including the governor’s involvement.

We can also describe this phenomenon as "Rats in a lifeboat." Strategically shuffling loyal sycophants into other jobs, so they won't get fired and can continue with a voter-rejected agenda. And on the outrageously unethical front:

NC's status as a democracy in question

And as they say, sometimes the truth hurts:

Here, the dominant party — at present, the Republicans — holds all the power while winning just a slight majority of the overall vote. Everyone who votes for Democratic representatives or senators is given no voice in Raleigh because Democrats have no power. Just two weeks ago, the Republican legislature even went so far as to diminish the powers of the incoming Democratic governor, despite his statewide election victory. Republicans can do this with impunity because most of them don’t face real elections.

Reynolds makes a good argument that North Carolina operates like a sham democracy in critical respects. The question is what people can do to reclaim the right of real representation.

This is one of those issues that many of us would be tempted to say, "Of course it's a sham!" and then walk off without further discussion. But Republicans are determined to push the envelope on what is actually unconstitutional, and what is merely bad policy. As candidates square up in the soon-to-be-held 2017 Special Election, their messaging needs to be tight and verifiable, and we need to make it abundantly clear to voters that their democracy is being slowly and surely taken away from them. Here's more from Andrew Reynolds:

Cash Michaels: GOP's power grab limits minority hires in new administration

It's not just Democrats in general who are being held back:

Based on his posture as a moderate Democrat, Cooper attracted a lion’s share of the Black vote in November, enough to help him unseat McCrory by just over 10,000 votes, to become North Carolina’s 75th governor on January 7, 2017.

However, now, thanks to measures passed last week by the Republican-led General Assembly in an extra special session, and signed this week by McCrory before he leaves office, observers say Cooper’s ability to indeed govern in the interest of all North Carolinians and make sure communities of color across the State are heard, respected, and reflected in his administration, has been severely compromised with the removal of many of his key appointment powers.

Just looking at the numbers, with McCrory (being able to) replace 1,500 employees, and now Cooper only being able to replace less than 1/3 that number, the opportunities for more diversity have been severely curtailed. And since many of those positions are middle-management, lower-level employees are going to be facing some weird political dynamics with their bosses. And if NC's employment history is any reliable gauge, African-Americans will suffer the most under such a formula.

Editor's note: We almost lost Cash to cancer earlier this year, but he's back in the saddle again. Read what he writes, you will learn something.

Must read: Chris Fitzsimon's Monday Numbers roundup for 2016

Selfish governing has produced terrible outcomes:

30—number of years since President Ronald Reagan called the EITC “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress” (“Earned Income Tax Credit,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

3—number of years since North Carolina allowed its state EITC to end in 2013 (“States Can Adopt or Expand Earned Income Tax Credits to Build a Stronger Future Economy,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 19, 2016)

The Earned Income Tax Credit is one of those "out of sight, out of mind" issues that don't generate as much interest amongst the general public, but the loss of it has generated a lot of suffering in families on the lower end of the income scale. And taking it away has served to perpetuate poverty, because those dollars had been spent in areas and businesses that desperately needed that currency to keep them hiring. And when those jobs disappear, the next slap in the face is dwindling unemployment benefits:

Counting the costs of a deceptive, opaque Governor

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And you thought raising your children was expensive:

Gov. Pat McCrory’s office has spent more than $230,000 on an outside law firm to defend itself in a public records lawsuit filed in 2015 by a media coalition, according to billing invoices.

McCrory’s office provided the records Thursday after The Charlotte Observer filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking the information. The paper filed the complaint after the governor did not respond to a records request in October seeking the invoices from Charlotte’s Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, as well as all correspondence to the law firm.

Get that? They had to file a lawsuit, just to find out how much (taxpayer) money had been spent on other lawsuits. We (the public) are paying dearly to block our own access to information that should have been provided to us without hesitation. It's so absurd it's hard to wrap your mind around it. And so is this:

How can you tell when the Bergermeister is lying?

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If his mouth is moving, it's a good bet:

“It’s a reasonable conclusion that people can come to that the reason the Democrats voted against repeal, the reason that Cooper urged them to vote against the repeal, was because they would prefer to have it as an issue that they can raise money on,” Berger, an Eden Republican, said Thursday in an interview with the News & Record where he discussed what happened behind the scenes Wednesday.

If Roy Cooper wanted to keep it as an issue, he wouldn't have gone to so much trouble to get it repealed. And after the recent "special session" fiasco, in which Republicans attacked the Governor-elect's authority and influence so blatantly, it's a "reasonable conclusion that people can come to" that the failure to repeal HB2 was just one more effort by Republicans to undermine Cooper's administration. If you want to see just how disingenuous Berger can get, here are a handful of direct quotes taken from an N&O article:

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