Republican bullies

NC GOP uses attacks on Roy Cooper to distract from its failures

Filing a baseless complaint about campaign finance violations:

The North Carolina Republican Party is questioning the legality of a fundraiser Gov. Roy Cooper held at a trial lawyers’ convention several weeks ago, a complaint that the governor’s campaign promptly denounced as “baseless.”

GOP Chairman Robin Hayes asked state election officials Wednesday to investigate Cooper’s mid-June event, which took place at a Sunset Beach resort where the North Carolina Advocates for Justice was holding its annual meetings.

No doubt this is in response to recent stories detailing the tons of money GOP Legislators have raked in during the 2017 Session, and/or the $50,000+ BergerMoore raked in from beer wholesalers to stifle the craft beer folks. Always with these guys, if they take an aggressive position on something, it's because they're trying to cover up their own transgressions in that area. Which is exactly what they're doing with the GENX controversy. When the Cooper administration called for additional funding to deal with the crisis, the facts surrounding the General Assembly's drastic and reckless cuts of those agencies since 2013 came to light. And knowing the public would hold them partially responsible for the crisis because of those cuts, Republicans dashed off a letter disguised as a "fact-finding" probe, when in reality, it's geared towards justifying their previous irresponsible behavior:

Josh Stein lays off 45 at AG's office, still not enough

GOP budget cuts are recklessly endangering the administration of justice in NC:

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced on Thursday that he has eliminated 45 positions in the state Department of Justice after the state budget adopted earlier this summer included a surprise $10 million budget cut.

“What I’m telling you today is, we can’t do the last third,” said Stein, a Democrat in his first term. “The last third will put too much damage, too much risk on the public’s safety. For that reason, we are repeating our call to the General Assembly: ‘Please, protect the people of North Carolina, and find a way to fill this gap.’ ”

What you're seeing right now might be the true danger of gerrymandering, lawmaking that actually imperils the safety of the citizenry. Under a more competitive districting situation, such reckless behavior could be corrected in the voting booth. But when your power is guaranteed by crooked maps, you don't really care what the voters think.

Add judges to that list of GOP cuts to legal professionals

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Our entire system of justice is being put at risk:

According to the latest lists released by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), there are now only 10 active emergency superior court judges and 25 emergency district court judges. Prior to the July 1 effective date of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, there were 42 emergency superior court judges and 72 emergency district court judges. The new list reflects an overall reduction of 69.2%.

According to emails obtained by NC Policy Watch, the cuts were causing concerns in the court system even days after the budget was passed.

I'm sure they were. In any given month, NC's Superior and District Courts handle over 15,000 cases. And they've been doing so under an ever-shrinking budget since Republicans took over the General Assembly. Understand, these are both civil and criminal cases, and some of the latter deal with violent criminals. When you refuse to fund the system properly, the number of violent criminals who plea bargain their case down increases, and the number of victims who never get their day in court increases also. Making this a public safety issue, put in the irresponsible hands of unqualified politicians and their lackeys:

Guilford County Commission joins war against News & Record

If you don't like the reporting, kill the newspaper:

WHEREAS, in recent action, the North Carolina General Assembly has taken measures to advance communication options among local governments with the creation of HB 205 that sought to modernize the publication of legal advertisements and public notices to allow Guilford County, and any municipality in Guilford County, in lieu of printed publication, the option to post legal advertisements and notices on the county web site; and,

WHEREAS, not only does the option of electronic noticing broaden customer service and foster public participation, it also serves to provide an efficient and cost-effective means of communication all at the click of a button.

I realize many reading this do not subscribe to a daily newspaper, and get their information online instead. As such, you may be tempted to agree with this policy change, or (maybe worse) find yourself indifferent. But this is not about increasing dissemination of legal notices, it's about defunding an already struggling publication, the Greensboro News & Record. The N&R has been a strong, mostly progressive voice in the region, and has called out Republicans countless times for their inhumane and often unconstitutional actions. But aside from that "kill the paper" goal of this bill, the very premise that shifting that information online will increase the number of people who see them is faulty, for several reasons. The most obvious reason is the low traffic to the site, but here's another: In order to host all those legal notices, the government website will likely cache them in pdf files, further burying that information. That's not just my opinion:

Magistrate ignores 2013 court finding with ban on Reverend Barber

Refusing to acknowledge dictates from judges is becoming a habit with Republicans:

The ban also applies to 31 other protesters arrested that day during a health-care sit-in after they refused to clear the hallways outside legislative leaders’ office. The ban was a condition of the protesters’ release from jail, set by Wake County magistrate Jeffrey L. Godwin as he charged them with second-degree trespassing. General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock said Friday that his agency didn’t ask the magistrate to set those conditions, but he said he plans to make the request for future arrests of protesters.

Geeta Kapur, an attorney for Barber and the NAACP, says the ban is unconstitutional. She points to the provision in the state constitution that says “the people have a right to assemble together ... to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances.” She pointed to a 2013 decision by a judge to throw out a similar ban on arrested protesters. Since then, most arrests at “Moral Monday” protest events have not included a ban on entering the Legislative Building as a condition of release.

The GOP is notorious for resurrecting bad ideas and questionable legal practices every few years or so, just to see if they will stick, and this ban is no different. And if another judge throws it out, they'll do it again next year or the year after. Precedent? We don't need no stinking precedent, we make this shit up as we go.

NC Democrats only granted symbolic role in GOP budget negotiations

To seem rather than to be:

Eight state House Democrats, including Rep. Elmer Floyd of Fayetteville and Rep. Marvin Lucas of Spring Lake, were invited to the Republican-controlled table to help negotiate the final version of the $22.9 billion North Carolina budget this month.

House and Senate lawmakers began meeting behind closed doors this past Monday to work out their differences in the budget, which they are supposed to pass into law no later than June 30. Lucas said on Thursday said he had not yet been invited to attend one of the work sessions. In these negotiations, Lucas said, it’s better to keep quiet about what you want because the other side can use that against you.

Bolding mine, because that is some seriously immature behavior. Maybe they should try reverse psychology? "Please don't fund this affordable housing project, and why don't we cut those godawful food stamps, too?" But you know what? Lucas is right. There are some things in the House Budget I want to see survive these negotiations, but I have decided (this year) to not blog about those things here at BlueNC, for fear of making them a target for removal. How screwed up is that? And along the lines of "reverse psychology," I'm tempted to cheer this guy on, in the hopes my approval will sour his position:

GOP-led NC Senate tries to strangle Cooper administration via budget cuts

The sheer scale of these irresponsible actions is breathtaking:

Meanwhile, the Department of Environmental Quality's operating budget is reduced by 6 percent in the proposed budget, with Chief Deputy Secretary John Nicholson, a retired Marine colonel among those whose jobs would be eliminated. The Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service, which works with businesses and communities with environmental regulations and permitting, boosting recycling, energy efficiency and cutting emissions, would be gutted, losing 46 positions in its Raleigh and regional offices.

The Office of Science Technology & Innovation in the Department of Commerce would be eliminated, and funding to the North Carolina Biotechnology Center would be cut by 5 percent. The budget for the Wildlife Resources Commission would be cut by 18 percent. The Department of Transportation would lose 400 positions, and another 183 positions that oversee picking up litter and roadside trash also would be eliminated.

In political analysis, it's not always easy to ferret out the "underlying" motives behind certain actions. A gut response would tell you Republican leaders are merely punishing Roy Cooper for both winning the election and taking an outspoken stance of opposition. I'm sure that's partly true, but I have a feeling these department cuts have another goal: To put the Governor and his senior staff into "crisis" mode, to make them scramble to repair the breeches in personnel and shuffle the workload, to keep them so busy just trying to perform the basic functions of government they won't have time to strategize about fighting the Constitutional overreach of the Legislative Branch. But (of course) it will also be the people of North Carolina who will suffer from this asinine and childish behavior.

Fascism Watch: Campus protest goes out with a whimper

When a handful of written words becomes a vocal gag:

The constituent institution shall implement a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone under the jurisdiction of a constituent institution who substantially disrupts the functioning of the constituent institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others, including protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in and listen to expressive activity when the expressive activity has been scheduled pursuant to this policy or is located in a nonpublic forum.

The 1st Amendment has always been a confusing and controversial concept, because for every opinion, there is an opposing one. It was true in 1789 when the Bill of Rights was demanded by the separate states before they would ratify the Constitution, and it's true today. But for all the lofty arguments and debate about who infringes on whom, or yelling "Fire!" in a theater, the overriding message of the 1st Amendment is that government should not be in the business of dictating who gets to speak and who doesn't. And delegating that decision-making to some Orwellian committee doesn't negate the General Assembly's huge Constitutional blunder with this bill:

Excerpts from Governor Cooper's newest lawsuit opposing GOP power grab

Just the fact he is forced to do this is infuriating:

4. This General Assembly's continued, direct attacks on executive authority unconstitutionally infringe on the Governor's executive powers in violation of separation of powers, and improperly delegate legislative power without adequate guiding standards. N.C. CONST. art. I, § 6; id. art. II, § 1; id. art. Ill, §§ 1, 5(4).

5. As our Supreme Court recently observed, "The election of a particular candidate signifies public support for that candidate's platform, policies, and ideology." Young v. Bailey, 368 N.C. 665, 671, 781 S.E.2d 277, 281 (2016). Here, the General Assembly's efforts to disempower the Office of the Governor fail to respect the will of the electorate in selecting him as North Carolina's chief executive.

And just to clarify, neither Berger nor Moore can plead ignorance in taking these steps. They know exactly what they're doing when they violate the word and the spirit of the NC Constitution, and the fact they would so casually do it, merely for partisan gain, is such an abuse of the public's trust it boggles the mind. Here's more:

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