Bad; Then (Almost Unbelievably) Worse

If you are looking for an example of what a Republican dominated, Trump led Washington will look like Raleigh, North Carolina might be a good place to start your quest. Here is a warning: It is ugly and even more dysfunctional than most progressives think it will be. Let’s explore.

In early October Hurricane Matthew passed through North Carolina and left very significant destruction. The normal political play would have been for Republican Governor Pat McCrory (who happened to be locked in a tight reelection race) to call the General Assembly (NCGA) back into session and enact a large aid package. Without poison pills it would have passed unanimously, McCrory could have claimed leadership and garnered many needed votes. That didn’t happen. On the morning after the election it was apparent that McCrory’s Democratic challenger Roy Cooper had narrowly defeated him. Instead of conceding and getting on with the state’s business McCrory issued a series of baseless challenges for about a month only to end up with the result we all knew and waste a lot of taxpayer dollars in the process.

Still no special session at that point this started the rumor mill. Democrats correctly smelled a rat. The surprise of election night was the victory of Democratic State Supreme Court candidate Mike Morgan. Morgan’s election tipped the balance of power on North Carolina’s Supreme Court from the Republicans to the Democrats. The assumption (based on some pretty good inside information) was that the Republicans were going to dust off an old provision in the North Carolina Constitution and add two justices to the Court. McCrory would be appointing them in his waning days effectively negating the people’s vote and packing the court. Liberals went nuts and defused that bomb in the media.

McCrory still called a special session, the Matthew relief package sailed through both chambers and he signed it. If my memory serves me correctly the votes were unanimous.

Once the General Assembly is in special session (which must be called by the Governor or Lt. Governor) the General Assembly leaders can call another special session on its tail and that is exactly what happened.

During the first of those sessions the super majority Republican General Assembly passed three bills, which McCrory subsequently signed, that stripped many powers from the office of Governor. When McCrory succeeded Democratic Governor Bev Perdue in 2013 the Republicans in the General Assembly increased the number of state employees who served at the Governor’s pleasure (political appointees) from 500 to 1500. In this legislation they reduced the figure for incoming Democrat Cooper to 425. They tell us politics had nothing to do with it. I don’t believe them! Do you?

New legislation turns many of Cooper’s “appointees” into nominees who have to be confirmed by the Republican super majority North Carolina Senate. Again the “justification” is a balance of powers issue. The Republicans dusted off an old provision in the North Carolina Constitution which allows for this practice. The interesting thing is that nobody can remember the last time it was activated.

The Republicans also went after one of their favorite targets – public education. They took away the Governor’s ability to appoint members of the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors. Instead this will be the responsibility of the NCGA which they control by super majority. They also stripped power from the State Board of Education giving those powers to incoming Superintendent of Public Education Mark Johnson who had just defeated his Democratic predecessor Dr. June Atkinson. They claim there is nothing political here either. It is just a coincidence and the process needed streamlining. If you looked at Johnson’s campaign rhetoric it used the same code words that George Wallace’s failed 1968 presidential campaign used. Johnson added the present day “wrinkle” that he is against Common Core. The radical right fears Common Core because it teaches critical thinking. If you can evaluate facts you are highly unlikely to vote Republican.

After that special session was over the Republicans called one more supposedly to repeal HB2. Remember that legislation resulted from a special session called by Republican Lt. Governor Dan Forest. However this session blew up on them. A deal had been brokered by Cooper for the city of Charlotte to rescind its ordinance protecting LGBT rights and the NCGA to then repeal HB2. Charlotte held up its end of the bargain on a Monday night. That Wednesday the General Assembly was in special session. There was a revolution (inspired by Forest – gotta be some political ambitions there) to resist the clean bill that had been agreed to. Keep in mind the Democrats were all prepared to vote for a clean repeal. The Republican leadership, fearing their extreme right, refused to put a clean bill on the floor and nothing happened.

In North Carolina each day of a special session costs the taxpayers $42,000. That is more than we pay a starting teacher. So it cost us at least four teachers for the special session days that passed the misguided HB2, effectively nullified the vote of the people to a large degree and failed to repeal HB2. Perhaps this is the “hope” for a Trump and Republican controlled Washington; the Republicans will be so radical they won’t be able to get anything done in the end because they’ll be so dedicated to harming America. It is sad when the good news is that bad!

Note: Due to a change in my personal schedule all of this week’s articles have been written well ahead of publishing.

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