NCGA

Drilling down into Gov. Cooper's Veto of Read to Achieve reboot

An expensive boondoggle, by any other name:

The state has put more than $150 million into the program to date, and a study last year by North Carolina State University found no gains for the first year of students involved.

"Teaching children to read well is a critical goal for their future success, but recent evaluations show that Read to Achieve is ineffective and costly," Cooper said in his veto message. "This legislation tries to put a Band-Aid on a program where implementation has clearly failed."

It has failed. Not "performed below our expectations," but failed, miserably. NC State followed two separate cohorts of students who took part in the RtA program, and detected virtually no improvement with them as compared to those who did not take part:

Racial Injustice: NC Supreme Court to decide Death Row cases

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Elections definitely have consequences:

With the racial-justice act out of the picture, the state appealed the re-sentencings in the four cases that had been decided under it, and in 2015, the North Carolina Supreme Court sent the cases back for further review, because the state had not been given enough time to respond to the Michigan State study on biased juror strikes.

Shortly after, state officials disregarded the state Supreme Court’s order and returned the four plaintiffs to death row without a court holding hearings or considering new evidence or arguments. The state still has not provided any explanation for the racial discrepancy in juror strikes, arguing only that the repeal of the law means the plaintiffs go back to death row.

This is (or should be) really a no-brainer for the Supreme Court. Prosecutors ignored their instructions to let the courts straighten things out, and in doing so, they literally usurped those judicial powers. The RJA cases *did not* free those inmates, they would still be incarcerated for life (without parole). And NC's defacto moratorium on executions should not be even considered in these cases. That could change at the drop of a hat, with unfairly prosecuted citizens receiving lethal injections. Once again for those in the back:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Another one bites the dust...

Monday Numbers: Voter purges reflect a Jim Crow shift

Stifling the voices that need to be heard the most:

17 million – the number of voters removed from rolls nationwide between 2016 and 2018

40 percent – how much higher the median purge rate was over the 2016 to 2018 period in jurisdictions previously subject to preclearance versus jurisdictions that were not covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act

1.1 million – the number of voters who wouldn’t have been removed from voter rolls between 2016 and 2018 if purge rates in the counties that were covered by Section 5 were the same as the rates in non-Section 5 counties.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Rumors of a "post-racial" society, especially when it comes to voting access, are greatly exaggerated. Understand, the Voting Rights Act was not some sort of overreaction by the Federal government to a few isolated incidents; Southern Congressmen and Senators worked hand-in-hand with their state-level counterparts to actively deny Constitutional rights to tens of thousands of African-Americans, and that oppression thrived in the ambiguity of the times:

When local newspapers die, democracy dies with them

When you don't watch the pot, it often boils over:

It’s a crisis that threatens American democracy. Local newspapers, despite all their flaws and limitations, have been a trusted — and necessary — source of information for citizens across the country.

When local news withers, bad things happen, studies show. People vote less, and they vote in a more politically polarized way. Political corruption has more opportunity to flourish, unnoticed by the local watchdog. And municipal costs may rise.

After being involved in local government for several years now, I don't subscribe to the view that governments would go crazy with unnecessary spending in the absence of a journalistic watchdog. Voters don't (necessarily) need to read about their property tax going up to notice it, it's right there on their monthly mortgage bill when the escrow goes up. Elected officials are aware of that when they crunch their budgets every year (or two). But those voters won't know "why" their property tax went up, or anything else about their local government, and that's a huge problem. Which is why I also don't subscribe to the view that local governments should withhold information, make it harder for journalists to cover their activities. If the newspaper gets it wrong, it's usually because some official thought it was "wise" to be tight-lipped. It rarely is. But there may be a philanthropic light at the end of this tunnel:

Leading while Black: Charlotte Council members get racist hate mail

Trump's rhetoric is dangerous, and spreading:

More than a dozen city leaders, all of them African American except for one, received a letter in the mail to their respective offices that was threatening and racist. Now, police are taking a close look. "If I can assume the intent, the intent was to intimidate," Councilman Braxton Winston said.

The letter read in part, "...Each of you despicable BLACK democrats should be tarred and feathered and run out of town (my town) on a rail..." It blamed African Americans for various things, praised President Donald Trump and used a phrase that was chanted by his supporters at a North Carolina rally earlier this year: "Send her back"

Even if I didn't agree with Braxton's assumption (I do), his background in Anthropology makes that more than just an assumption, it's a studied assessment. But for people like the letter writer, none of that matters. He's Black, and that is an irredeemable trait. It's important to understand that, before any time is wasted by looking at the attitude or performance or potential character flaws of those who have been threatened. We have an almost automatic impulse to argue against such, to present reasons why these bigots are wrong, but that's like trying to groom a skunk. You'll stink for days after the effort, and the skunk will still be a hot mess.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Somebody has to act:

The NC GOP needs to get with the program on common sense gun regulations. People are tired of thoughts and prayers.

Republican leaders quash consent bill once again

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Apparently "No!" means "Just go right ahead."

For the fourth time, a bill that would close a loophole in North Carolina law when it comes to consent is dead. And Jeff Jackson, the state senator who has filed it four times, is beyond frustrated.

"I wish we could say we were confused at this point except at this point we know," Jackson said. "A couple of years ago you could say, 'Maybe these guys just don’t understand the issue.' You can't give them the benefit of the doubt anymore. This is purposeful." The "guys" Jackson is referring to are Republican state lawmakers. The issue is being able to revoke consent during sexual intercourse.

"Sexual behavior" is one of the broadest terms that could be used, ranging from timid to violently aggressive. There is no way to know how somebody will act once they've fallen into that primal zone, and it's nothing short of insane to posit that a woman who suddenly finds a hand wrapped around her neck, slowly tightening, does not have a legal right to extricate herself from that situation. Here's more from Jeff Jackson:

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