Daily dose: McCollum edition

No GOP apologies for nasty McCollum ad (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Unfortunately, politics requires no shame. Or decency. Or apologies. So I suspect no apology will be forthcoming from the N.C. Republican Party to Henry Lee McCollum or former state Sen. John Snow. The party paid for and mailed a particularly nasty flier during the 2010 election that featured a threatening photo of McCollum, who is black and was serving a life sentence at the time for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. The flier, which also featured a white convict labeled “child killer,” said Snow, a former judge and prosecutor — and death penalty advocate — wanted them to get another chance. “These men committed unspeakable crimes,” the mailer stated, “but when they were on death row, liberal John Snow tried to give them a second chance.” Well, not exactly. Snow did vote in favor of the Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that allowed murderers and other criminals to appeal to have death sentences converted to life sentences if racial bias during the trial could be proved. The Republican-controlled legislature overturned the act last year.

Tillis counting on 'informed electorate' (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- An informed electorate will deliver a second Republican to the U.S. Senate in November, the Republican candidate told an audience of supporters in Greenville on Saturday. N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis made the remark during an hourlong stop at the Pitt County Republican Party headquarters in Greenville to campaign against first-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. “When people know the choices between the two candidates and understand the consequences of allowing Kay Hagan to rubberstamp Barack Obama for another two years, they want a change to people who will be decisive and get things done,” Tillis said.

Details on the militarization of NC's police kept secret

Apparently the public doesn't have a need to know:

"Providing that information would be providing a lot of information to people who would use it to the detriment of our law enforcement professionals and potentially the public," Walker said in an email. "Simply put, it would be like providing criminals a blueprint on how to harm law enforcement or get around their security tactics when trying to prevent crime and/or a serious event."

Walker did not respond to follow-up questions on how details of the voluntary federal program would qualify as "drawings of public buildings," "specific tactics" or "specific security or emergency procedures" defined in the law. Mike Tadych, a Raleigh attorney who represents media organizations including WRAL News, said he doesn't see how the security exemption would apply in this case.

Just another case of a government official trying to skirt the public records law with vague references to security concerns. Aside from the Highway Patrol and SBI, local law enforcement is funded by local taxpayers. And they have the right to know how well-equipped these local LEOs are, and if they're in possession of grenade launchers and heavy machine guns like the NATO 7.62 types. Go to the bottom of the article to see what your county has been given.

Daily dose: Money well-spent

Environmentalists’ campaign spending to see huge jump (Washington Post) -- The League of Conservation Voters will spend $25 million in campaign funding this election season, a fivefold increase over what the group devoted to the last midterm elections, LCV President Gene Karpinski said. … The races LCV is targeting — including Senate contests in North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire, as well as the Maine gubernatorial race, where it is opposing Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s reelection, and state legislative races in Oregon and Washington — all involve significant contrasts between the two candidates on climate change and other signature environmental issues.

Mail-in Absentee Voting procedures

From Laura Leslie's @WRAL

Sept. 5 [was] the first day for voters to request and submit mail-in absentee ballots for the November 4th general election.

The process for voting by mail is different this year because of legislative changes made in 2013.

Voters requesting a mail-in ballot no longer have to submit a handwritten letter. Instead, they can now download and print out a request form, available for download from the N.C. Board of Elections's website...

Tillis on freeing innocent men after 30 years in prison: "The process worked."

Not that he was going to get any votes from black people anyway, but still. This tells you everything you need to know about the morality of Thom Tillis. What a jerk.

Now middle aged, [McCollum and his brother] have been in prison – one of them on death row – since they were teenagers, wrongfully accused of raping and murdering a child. When ThinkProgress asked Tillis if anything needs to change in light of this case, he said that because they were eventually exonerated, “It’s an example of how we have protections in our judicial system in North Carolina.”

“I feel very, very sorry for them and I’m glad to know they’re out,” he said. “At least the process worked, it just took too long.”

These men’s lives were destroyed. Nothing about the process "worked."

Tillis following playbook with birth control comments

Originality is not the Speaker's strong suit:

Planned Parenthood, for one, was unwilling to play ball. "If Thom Tillis and others were serious about expanding access to birth control, they wouldn’t be trying to repeal the no-co-pay birth control benefit or cut women off from Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services. This is simply a cynical political attempt to whitewash his terrible record and agenda for women's health,” Melissa Reed, a spokeswoman for the Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund, said in a statement released after the North Carolina debate.

Reed noted the convergence of support for over-the-counter birth control pills by the Republican candidates and Planned Parenthood. “At the same time, it is important that voters know the truth about these claims by politicians running for office: They are empty gestures. In a desperate attempt to appeal to women voters, Thom Tillis is clearly following in the footsteps of other out of touch candidates like Cory Gardner in Colorado and Ed Gillespie in Virginia,” she said.

It's a very shallow tactic, and hopefully mainstream media won't try to cast this as "softening on women's reproductive issues" or any other such equestrian droppings. Tillis and his GOP colleagues in the NCGA have gone above and beyond in their war on women, and if they are ashamed of that record (as they should be) there's another session coming up next year in which they can try to make amends. But I have a feeling some of them won't get another chance.

NC kids getting smarter?

It seems that the state's top educators are mighty envious of Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average.

Faced with less than stellar test results, the Department of Public Instruction, with the blessing of the state board of education, set out to dramatically improve the results -- not by actually improving the results, mind you, but rather by changing the scoring system.

Public school students’ standardized test performance took a giant leap this year, largely helped along by a new scoring scale that makes the tests easier to pass.

The statewide overall passing rate in all subjects was 56.3 percent, compared with last year’s passing rate of 44.7 percent.

Little Johnny can still do poorly on the test, but now Little Johnny will pass the test! This means that Little Johnny is poised for academic and life success, right?


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