Phil Berger

Constitutional crisis: 5 of 6 GOP Amendments dangerously ambiguous

The phrase "Pig in a poke" actually dates back to mid-16th Century:

6 – number of proposed constitutional amendments placed on the November ballot by GOP legislative majorities during the final five days of the 2018 legislative session.

5 – of the six amendments passed by lawmakers in 2018, the number that lack implementing language that would allow voters to know precisely what they are voting on (the sixth – which simply lowers the cap on the state income tax requires no such language) (Gerry Cohen, Director of Legislative Drafting at the General Assembly for 30 years in an interview last week with Policy Watch reporter Joe Killian).

The reason I threw that little historical reference in there is because even before our nation was born, and even before Oliver Cromwell rose up against the Crown, people were smart enough to avoid being deceived by somebody selling them a mysterious bag of goods. But apparently rank and file Republicans in the General Assembly aren't that smart, or they simply don't care if the NC Constitution is used and abused for partisan reasons. No x 6.

Phil Berger gets his Democratic opponent disqualified

I had to grab an excerpt from a %$#@& Facebook post, because for some reason NC's news outlets don't think the most powerful man in the General Assembly pulling a Vladimir Putin is newsworthy:

The Republicans on the panel - defying all logic - voted against Mangrum today, and the case will now go to the State Board of Elections. The Republicans on the panel gave reasons based on speculation and innuendo - not on the law. I believe it was a circus. We have reached bottom, and Berger's gang is covered in dirt. Shame on them. SHAME.

This is a good story for an aggressive reporter to cover. And I suspect it starts, as always, with fear of losing power and dark money fueling the efforts to keep it. I sent a recap to Rachel Maddow. Someone needs to expose this!!!

Hell, it doesn't even need to be an "aggressive" reporter, just somebody to publish the pertinent details would be a good start. This is now headed to the State Board, where hopefully wiser and less partisan heads will prevail. We'll see. But this is a prime example of why Berger & Moore screwing around with election boards should have been completely tossed by the courts. Here's some background on yesterday's bent decision:

Public vs. Private: The hypocrisy of Berger and Johnson on teacher rallies

markjohnsonbus.jpg

Do like I say, not like I do:

State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson have been voicing opposition to the big teacher-led education rally that’s taking shape next Wednesday in Raleigh. Berger attacked the one-day event and even likened it to a teacher strike, which he proceeded to describe in a thinly veiled threat as “illegal.” Johnson also criticized the rally because it is on a school day and said he would not attend.

Funny that neither Berger nor Johnson raised such concerns earlier this year when conservative school choice advocates – including teachers, parents and students – held a rally in Raleigh on, Tuesday, January 23 – a school day. At that time, Johnson thought it appropriate not just to endorse the event, but to attend and serve as a featured speaker.

We all know that Berger only cares about a tiny portion of the state's citizens, and an even smaller fraction of his own District constituents. But Mark Johnson is working diligently for an even smaller segment of the population, those who operate for-profit education factories:

Will GOP leaders push for a constitutional amendment to shrink the size of the NC Supreme Court?

Faced with the likelihood that Anita Earls will crush opponents in her run for the North Carolina Supreme Court, Phil Berger and Tim Moore, leaders of the NC Senate and NC House respectively, may be hatching new plots to take over the judiciary. They can't win playing by the rules, so they'll do what they always do: Rig the system to suppress democracy.

Who's the liar, Berger or Lewis?

Yesterday, Senator Phil Berger said:

"This is not a racial gerrymander. This is not a political gerrymander."

Three weeks earlier, Representative David Lewis said:

"We want to make clear that we are going to use political data in drawing this map. It is to gain partisan advantage on the map. I want that criteria to be clearly stated and understood.”

It's way past time for the courts to take his clusterfluck away from the legislature and draw new districts itself.

Berger tweaks legislation so fellow Republican can draw two salaries

Can you say Patronage? I knew you could:

A one-sentence change tacked into broader legislation earlier this month helps a single state employee, tweaking state law so he can again get paid to serve on a state commission while on vacation from his full-time state job. Under Gov. Pat McCrory, Peaslee drew his regular state salary and was also paid the daily wage tax commission members get to sit for several days each month hearing appeals from around the state. When Gov. Roy Cooper took office, a new regime at the state Department of Revenue looked at state laws against employees double-dipping on salary and questioned whether Peaslee should draw both paychecks.

Peaslee, a former general counsel for the North Carolina Republican Party, brought the issue before Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and other state legislators. He'd been taking vacation time from his $115,494-a-year job at the Industrial Commission to make $450 to $500 a day at the tax commission. His tax commission pay last year totaled $24,500.

If you're thinking something about this story sounds familiar, it's because NC Republicans are making a habit of using the Industrial Commission to line the pockets of their friends. During one of the grossly unconstitutional Special Sessions of late 2016, Republicans gave authority to McCrory (after he had lost the Election) to appoint his Chief of Staff's wife to a NINE YEAR TERM on the Commission, a million-dollar pat on the back:

'Recent Events in Charlotte'

It has long been said it takes only one step to go from the sublime to the ridiculous. This past week, the NC General Assembly jumped into the ridiculous with both feet. Any intimation that a driver can use his car to strike protesters blocking a road is prime for misuse and abuse. Nevertheless, HB 330 passed in the House and was sent to the Senate.

Governor Cooper expands lawsuit against GOP-dominated Legislature

Chipping away at the massive power-grab:

This expanded lawsuit also challenges what it calls the “unprecedented” provision requiring the governor’s Cabinet appointments are subject to Senate confirmation. The lawsuit also challenges a provision that drastically reduced the number of state employees who are political appointees and exempt from state personnel protections, as well as a provision that allowed hundreds of those exempt employees to become non-exempt.

Further, Cooper’s suit challenges a provision that allowed the appointment of the spouse of Gov. Pat McCrory’s chief of staff, Yolanda Stith, to the state Industrial Commission for an unprecedented nine-year term. The provision “confers an exclusive privilege upon a single person with no benefit to the general welfare,” the lawsuit reads.

Understand, the widening scope of this lawsuit is merely reflective of the GOP's appetite for power. What Roy is engaging in is not "radical" or "all-encompassing," it is the classic definition of a "measured response." And don't let any pundit or editorial staff get away with making it seem like an overreach on the Governor's part. They have a really bad habit of forgetting or editing out context, to get a little more "pop" out of news developments, and that very often serves to mislead more than inform. Friendly reminders in the comment section, or even LTEs, can be more than just a way to vent frustration.

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