Crack in the Veneer

Days after the election, Mecklenburg Representative, Drew Saunders announced that he had an interest in running for speaker of the house if Jim Black could not win re-election to the position. There's a lot of loyalty to Black among Mecklenburg Democrats. He has helped Mecklenburg County in many ways. He's family and you don't abandon a family member because he's made a mistake....or ten.

Saunders announced today that he will run against Jim Black for the speaker's job. This is a pretty clear signal to me that Black doesn't have the votes. Saunders is a good guy and is well respected in this area. I haven't always agreed with him, but I'm glad he's stepping forward to run. Maybe it will send a signal that others should toss their hats in the ring so we can get this party started.

The story is in The Charlotte Observer.


Hot damn.

I wonder what it all means.


I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

I really don't know

I very well could be reading something into this. I dont think Saunders would run if Black was truly assured of having the votes. I do hope this serves as a go-ahead for others who want the seat. Competition is good.

I don't know if Saunders has ever been linked to anything that Black was involved in. I honestly don't think so, but that doesn't mean anything. I could have easily ignored the news. :)

Anyone else know more about my representative than I obviously do?

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

It might not be artfully said

, actually, it was horribly said, but he's correct. Accepting contributions and gifts does not in and of itself make you corrupt or mean your loyalties/votes are being purchased. I'm personally, not against gifts or contributions as long as they are reported properly and the politician is prepared to answer for any appearance of impropriety.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


I'm sure he's a nice guy, as good as they go. I'm a little testy because I'm getting really tired of sloppy reporting, limited enforcement and limited support from legislators for enforcement. So let me not single Saunders out. Let me include him in the list of NC politicians that received money in Fall 2004 from an unregistered PAC (US LEC, a Charlotte telecom) which has never been registered with the SBOE, never been reprimanded and whose money has never been returned:
$1,000 Drew Saunders
$1,000 Roy Cooper
$1,000 Kay Hagan
$1,000 Richard Morgan
$1,000 Marc Basnight
$1,000 Harold Brubaker
$1,000 David Hoyle
$1,000 Jim Black
Money may not corrupt a politician but it sure helps the petitioner get to the head of the line.

I don't really care if Saunders gets the nod or not

I just didn't think that quote was evidence of his being unqualified for the job.

I don't know anything about US LEC, either, so can't speak intelligently about that situation. I would like to know what line they were moved to the head of, though. What actions did those 8 people take to help this company out? That's the sort of thing that needs to be formally reported.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Oh...and not to be picky

...but sloppy filing also doesn't equal corruption.(Gosh, you're a meany, Greg) It's probably more an indication that someone's wife/husband/mother-in-law/friend/neighbor/volunteer just made a mistake or didn't know what they were doing when they filled out the forms. We sure as heck don't pay our legislators enough to allow them to pay a professional to keep up with these forms and most professionals I know aren't that well-versed in the ins and outs of campaign finance reporting. I know it makes it difficult to sometimes differentiate between the folks trying to be a bit creative with their reports and those who just don't know what they're doing, but that's the price we pay for not paying wage to our legislators.

I realize filling out their campaign finance forms properly and getting them in on time is part of the job they accept as candidates and legislators, but I just tend to cut them some slack on mistakes. Now, not filing at all or intentionally filing fraudulent information is another story.

I think it's funny Saunders declared a larger contribution than Bell South says they gave. Heck, if anything you'd think he'd want to show receiving less money. It would be interesting to know which report is accurate and why a correction hasn't been made, but it doesn't wave a red flag of corruption for me. Certainly, sloppy, as you mentioned.

Back to the speaker...I don't really have a dog in this hunt. I'd rather it be someone like Hackney or anyone you guys have come up with. I don't think Saunders is corrupt, but he's a tad too close to Black for my tastes. I was simply excited b/c it indicated to me that Black didn't have the votes and I hoped more reps would come forward and get this out in the open. I would feel a whole lot better if I knew Black was out. That's really all I want.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

...not to be picky

I'm not saying or implying that he is corrupt or that sloppy filing equals corruption.

Maybe I'm being a meany but biting my tongue isn't going to help progressive issues, especially now that the election is over. I want to get past this speaker issue and move on to progressive issues and smoking out Republicans.

Saunders files his own reports. Maybe someone else should do it. He's a retired human resources manager. He's got to be familiar with handling tons of paperwork with deadlines. There appears to be a Blue Cross Blue Shield double entry also. The Bellsouth PAC didn't file a detailed report for the period in question for 2 years and only because I asked for it. Candidates may be harried but PACs are often indifferent and less responsive that individuals.

If filing forms is so difficult the process needs to be easier and candidates and committees need more help. I don't mind people making mistakes. It's how we learn and grow. A problem with sloppy filing is that it takes so much effort to separate simple mistakes from pure malice that enforcement is difficult. A little transparency could save us all a lot of trouble and allow us to get on with progressive issues. The status quo keeps blowing smoke on the mirrors.

As to the US LEC PAC, they file Federal reports anyway. They ought to be filing SBOE reports for State candidates. US LEC is an internet based telecom whose profits are very sensitive to regulation of public utilities and Saunders and Brubaker both Chair the House Public Utilities Committee. There is a wide spectrum between transparency and corruption. I haven't said that Saunders is corrupt or that sloppy paperwork equals corruption. His positions don't help me believe that he supports transparency or progressive issues.

Saunders made the "baby Jesus" statement in arguing that the $200 cap on lobbyist gifts was too low.

He was a sponsor of that payday lending bill in disguise introduced by Beverly Earle.

He introduced the bill appointing Bill Culpepper to the Utilities Commission (Culpepper had accepted BellSouth money after the announcement).

He voted to weaken the Lobbying Laws Act by voting for an amendment reducing the one-year cooling off period to 60 days for former legislators becoming paid lobbyists and later a similar amendment to the Lobbying Reforms Act reducing the one-year cooling off period to 6 months.

Just talking about him doesn't imply corruption. Accepting money doesn't imply corruption. Someone who can't balance a campaign finance report might not be the best choice for Speaker.

Like I said

I don't have a dog in this hunt. Quite frankly, there isn't anyone from Mecklenburg at this point that I would back. Nary a one.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

There's a lot of loyalty to

There's a lot of loyalty to Black among Mecklenburg Democrats. He has helped Mecklenburg County in many ways. He's family and you don't abandon a family member because he's made a mistake....or ten.

It's not just Mecklenburg. At the Durham County Dem Convention this spring, a motion to censure Jim Black was pretty soundly defeated, somewhere around 60/40 as i recall.

As a relative newbie to the convention thing, i was somewhat surprised at the vehemence with which Black was defended, and the whole notion of "eating our own" brought to center stage.

While i don't tend to be an either/or kinda guy, Black's behavior and ethical lapses seemed likely to me to tarnish the rest of the party, and i thought it was to our benefit to let the rest of the state know we didn't want to associate ourselves with that behavior.

live and learn, i guess.

Not the county convention

That vote was at the District 4 convention, and I believe the resolution in question was passed and submitted to district by Orange County. Not that it changes your point a whole lot.

I think this good news

for the reasons SD outlined. It shows Black's vulnerability . . . maybe.

But I wouldn't put it past Black to have staged the whole damn thing. He could very well have encouraged this "friendly" competition to fracture the field with an eye toward flipping votes in an 11th hour horse-trading frenzy.


I was thinking the same thing. Like I said, I have hopes. I just don't know how realistic they are. Greg is ready to move on and I'm ready for the story to no longer be about Jim Black. I wonder if the general public feels the same way or if it's just those of us who tune in to this stuff.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

If he's elected Sneaker of the House

it will be about him non-stop for the next two years.

I don't thing John Q. Public is paying attention closely, but the damage still continues. Jim Black is toxic, like radiation. The damage seeps in even when no one is noticing. The public is getting "in-toxic-ated" without their knowledge. If it's not stopped it will be fatal, like a dead Russian spy.

Chris Fitzsimon's take

Today's Friday Follies—The race for Speaker

Current Speaker Jim Black claims to have commitments from 45 House Democrats, setting off alarms bells in Democratic circles across the state.
A growing number of House Democrats are saying privately that they will not support Black under any circumstances. That number varies widely but is almost certainly above ten and may have reached 15.
But some legislative observers believe that Black may be able to convince a handful of Republicans to support him
Another development late in the week saw Rep. Drew Saunders, a Black ally who is also from Mecklenburg County, publicly announce that he is a candidate for Speaker....Saunders might be a hard sell as a reform candidate
The other two leading candidates are Majority Leader Joe Hackney and former Speaker Dan Blue, both progressive Democrats

What a great irony

it would be if a bunch of Puppets jumped on the Black bandwagon to sustain the traditional of sleaze in the House!

Rep. Saunders

I don't have a voice in NC politics anymore, but I have known Drew Saunders for all the years I can remember. I am 50 yrs old, and as is Drew, originally from Moore County. He married my mothers sister many years ago, and I can tell you that I would stake my life on the fact that he is an honest, hard working, self-made man! I don't follow every one of his votes, because I am busy here in Alaska keeping our Republicans in line! He would make a good speaker, of that I am sure!!

Saunders, Black and Crawford

None of these three candidates for House Speaker even has a website. Not very encouraging.

Can anyone point to a source of good information about Saunders? The only thing he's known for is his baby Jesus remark, which frankly gave me the creeps.