Phil Berger

Can Republicans be trusted to keep Special Session free of politics?

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The short answer is "no," but with the election coming up, they may have to:

“The currents will be moving under the surface,” said Gary Pearce, a columnist who was a longtime aide to Jim Hunt, a Democrat who was North Carolina’s longest-serving governor. “You can’t take politics out of anything, and this state is so, so polarized, so politicized, and the last eight years have been so angry and bitter, that even in a disaster like this, it’s going to hard for people to set it aside.”

Few state governments in America have been as divided in recent years as the one in North Carolina, where Democrats and Republicans have regularly fought pitched battles over issues like redistricting, voting rights, bathroom access for transgender people, education, and executive authority.

Republicans take note: When your state-level feud is controversial enough to make the New York Times, you might be tempted to celebrate your success. But voters across the board are extremely tired of such partisan gamesmanship, and they will be watching closely at how you handle recovery efforts after this horrible storm. And thanks to the dynamic campaign of Jen Mangrum, Berger's constituents will be watching closely, too:

Apple watching GOP Amendment power-grabs closely

Because who wants to work in a state ruled by tyrants:

Apple, though interested in putting a new campus in the state, is concerned about North Carolina politicians "meddling with constitutional amendments for political influence," according to one report.

CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams are being regularly updated on political developments, a source described as "connected to local government affairs" told the Triangle Business Journal. The claim was reiterated by a Triangle real estate source. Earlier this summer Apple was reported to be considering North Carolina's Triangle corridor for a future campus hosting thousands of workers.

Although I'm not privy to their conversations, I have enough experience in business management to speculate: This is not (only) a concern about political goals supplanting responsible governing. It's also about an atmosphere of uncertainty. When government acts in a capricious and deceptive manner, business forecasting becomes much harder. Not knowing (or even reasonably assuming) what the future will bring as far as infrastructure investment and agency efficiency (staff cuts = slow response), makes a long-term investment intolerably risky. And while Republicans might think their effusive business-friendly rhetoric would smooth said concerns, refer back to that word "deceptive." Once you lose the trust, you can say all the right things and still be viewed as a liar. While BergerMoore might not be concerned about that, because their lust for power has warped them, rank-and-file Republicans better pay attention. Because a Blue Wave is coming.

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

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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.

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