Sunday News: Governor Roy Cooper

COOPER SWORN IN AS 75TH NC GOVERNOR (WRAL-TV) -- Roy Cooper was sworn in shortly after midnight Sunday as North Carolina's 75th governor, taking the reins of a deeply divided state and facing an openly hostile legislature as he tries to accomplish an agenda calling for improved schools and a stronger economy for middle-class families. The formal inauguration for Cooper, a Nash County native and former state lawmaker, and the other members of the Council of State will be next Saturday.
http://www.wral.com/cooper-sworn-in-as-75th-nc-governor/16386628/

Saturday News: GOP challenges 2017 Special Elections

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OFFICIALS ASKS US SUPREME COURT TO HALT 2017 ELECTIONS (Raleigh News & Observer) – North Carolina officials asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block elections ordered for 2017 after a federal court found 28 state Senate and House districts were illegal racial gerrymanders. They asked Chief Justice John Roberts, in a request for emergency intervention, to put a halt to the three-judge panel’s order for redrawn districts by March and a special election in 2017. In the petition, They want the chief justice to enter an order by Jan. 11, when the General Assembly is set to convene its next session. “On Election Day, millions of North Carolina voters went to the polls and selected the state legislators who would represent them in the General Assembly for two-year terms in accordance with the North Carolina Constitution. Or so they thought,” Paul Clement, a Washington-based attorney representing McCrory, stated in the petition signed by Thomas Farr, a Raleigh-based attorney who has represented the legislators on redistricting, Phil Strach, another Raleigh-based attorney, and Alec McC. Peters of the state attorney general’s office.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article123887379.html

Archetypal McCrory: Appoint gynecologist to Oil & Gas Commission

Because knowing how many centimeters a well has dilated is important:

This is the same Randall Williams who was a central figure in crafting the language in the “do drink” letters to well owners whose water might have been contaminated by coal ash from Duke Energy. Those letters, which rescinded previous “do not drink” advisories, downplayed the health risks of hexavalent chromium in drinking water.

This is the same Randall Williams who, along with Tom Reeder, assistant secretary for the environment, signed an editorial lambasting state toxicologist Ken Rudo, alleging that he lied under oath about how the language was settled on, including the governor’s involvement.

We can also describe this phenomenon as "Rats in a lifeboat." Strategically shuffling loyal sycophants into other jobs, so they won't get fired and can continue with a voter-rejected agenda. And on the outrageously unethical front:

NC's status as a democracy in question

And as they say, sometimes the truth hurts:

Here, the dominant party — at present, the Republicans — holds all the power while winning just a slight majority of the overall vote. Everyone who votes for Democratic representatives or senators is given no voice in Raleigh because Democrats have no power. Just two weeks ago, the Republican legislature even went so far as to diminish the powers of the incoming Democratic governor, despite his statewide election victory. Republicans can do this with impunity because most of them don’t face real elections.

Reynolds makes a good argument that North Carolina operates like a sham democracy in critical respects. The question is what people can do to reclaim the right of real representation.

This is one of those issues that many of us would be tempted to say, "Of course it's a sham!" and then walk off without further discussion. But Republicans are determined to push the envelope on what is actually unconstitutional, and what is merely bad policy. As candidates square up in the soon-to-be-held 2017 Special Election, their messaging needs to be tight and verifiable, and we need to make it abundantly clear to voters that their democracy is being slowly and surely taken away from them. Here's more from Andrew Reynolds:

Friday News: Bureaucratic Defensive Posture (BDP)

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FACING FIRING, POLARIZING VAN DER VAART GIVES HIMSELF LESSER ROLE. (AP) — The N.C. environmental agency leader who headed Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s response to coal ash and other pollution problems is taking a demotion and pay cut to avoid being fired by incoming Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper. State Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Donald Van Der Vaart is claiming a job as an environmental program manager effective Saturday — a day before Cooper becomes governor, according to employment records kept by the Office of State Controller. His pay will drop to about $97,000 after making $131,000 a year as agency secretary.
http://www.reflector.com/National-News/2016/12/29/Polarizing-NC-environmental-agency-head-taking-les...

Cash Michaels: GOP's power grab limits minority hires in new administration

It's not just Democrats in general who are being held back:

Based on his posture as a moderate Democrat, Cooper attracted a lion’s share of the Black vote in November, enough to help him unseat McCrory by just over 10,000 votes, to become North Carolina’s 75th governor on January 7, 2017.

However, now, thanks to measures passed last week by the Republican-led General Assembly in an extra special session, and signed this week by McCrory before he leaves office, observers say Cooper’s ability to indeed govern in the interest of all North Carolinians and make sure communities of color across the State are heard, respected, and reflected in his administration, has been severely compromised with the removal of many of his key appointment powers.

Just looking at the numbers, with McCrory (being able to) replace 1,500 employees, and now Cooper only being able to replace less than 1/3 that number, the opportunities for more diversity have been severely curtailed. And since many of those positions are middle-management, lower-level employees are going to be facing some weird political dynamics with their bosses. And if NC's employment history is any reliable gauge, African-Americans will suffer the most under such a formula.

Editor's note: We almost lost Cash to cancer earlier this year, but he's back in the saddle again. Read what he writes, you will learn something.

Thursday News: Just go already...

AS CLOCK TICKS ON HIS TERM, PAT MCCRORY TO RETURN TO CHARLOTTE (Charlotte Observer) – Gov. Pat McCrory and his wife, Ann, kept their home in Charlotte’s Myers Park neighborhood throughout his four-year term in Raleigh. It was unclear Wednesday how long they plan to stay in Charlotte as McCrory considers job options, including the possibility of his taking a post in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration. McCrory’s communications director, Josh Ellis, said Wednesday morning he had no information on McCrory’s next steps after leaving the governor’s office.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article123391394.html

Wednesday News: Ode to Jim Martin

EVEN HIGH PROFILE REPUBLICANS SAY LEGISLATURE'S GONE TOO FAR (Capitol Broadcasting Co. editorial) -- The latest hastily conceived and enacted, GOP legislative power grab even has some top N.C. Republicans saying it’s wrong-headed. They are right. Former Gov. Jim Martin, a Republican who often tangled with a Democratic-controlled General Assembly over maintaining his office’s authority, also voiced strong concerns about the bill. Martin, in an interview with WFAE-FM in Charlotte, said provisions of the law taking appointive authority from the governor were violations of the state Constitution’s separation of power clause. “They (legislators) write the laws but they don’t have the authority to carry them out.”
http://www.wral.com/editorial-even-high-profile-republicans-say-the-legislature-s-gone-too-far/16379...

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