Saturday News: We've heard this before...

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NC REPUBLICAN LEADERS SAY THEY MAY NOT TAKE UP JUDICIAL REFORMS IN JANUARY: Lawmakers may not find enough consensus on judiciary reforms to pass anything when they gather again for a special legislative session next month, House Rules Chairman David Lewis said Friday. Lewis, R-Harnett, a key leader in the House, said legislators haven't coalesced behind proposals to redraw election districts for judges or to move instead to an appointments system. There has been a divide between the House and the Senate on this, but there also are indications House Republicans aren't all on board with proposed new districts for judges, which could prove important given the possibility of veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. "If we can't get agreement, and that was one of the main things we were going to do, it may be a very short session," Lewis said. He also said there's no plan, at the moment, to approve potential constitutional amendments during the coming session. That would include a voter ID proposal.
http://www.wral.com/lewis-judicial-reforms-may-not-fly-in-january-session/17188362/

What Republicans did not want to hear when they blocked Judge Stephens from speaking during Committee hearing

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Here are some excerpts from his prepared statement:

It is my opinion that the quality and integrity of the trial bench [in North Carolina] is above reproach. I have found no evidence to the contrary. None. I have heard no sworn testimony or information presented to this body or any other legislative committee that challenges or impugns the quality or the integrity of the [North Carolina] trial judiciary.

I understand that the fire trucks are here, but where is the fire? Who saw the fire? Who declared that the judicial house was on fire? You are drawing up plans to rebuild our judicial house that is not on fire and has no structural damage. Where is any evidence that the quality and integrity of this state’s judiciary is so poor that the constitution of [North Carolina] must be immediately drastically changed? Who has declared the emergency? On what basis?

Oh, there's an emergency all right. But it's one of Republicans' making. They're engaged in an all-out war on the judiciary, from the NC Supreme Court all the way down to the District and Superior Courts. And as for Republican judges who are already sitting, when one of their own (Doug McCullough) resigned from his CoA seat early so Governor Cooper could name his replacement instead of the Legislature, well. That just pissed them off to the point they decided to burn the whole damn thing down. Judge Stephens continues, and hat-tip to NC Policy Watch for (once again) providing truth to power:

Friday News: Remember Heather

PROSECUTORS UPGRADE CHARGE TO 1ST DEGREE MURDER FOR WHITE SUPREMACIST WHO DROVE CAR INTO CROWD: The man accused of driving into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville faces a new charge of first-degree murder after a court hearing Thursday in which prosecutors presented surveillance video and other evidence against him. Prosecutors announced at the start of a preliminary hearing for James Alex Fields that they were seeking to upgrade the second-degree murder charge he previously faced in the Aug. 12 collision in Charlottesville that left 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead and dozens injured. The judge agreed to that and ruled there is probable cause for all charges against Fields, including nine lesser felony counts, to proceed. Fields was photographed hours before the attack with a shield bearing the emblem of Vanguard America, one of the hate groups that took part in the rally, although the group denied any association with him.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/national/article189691594.html

New York AG files lawsuit against FCC over Net Neutrality vote

And rumor has it Josh Stein just added NC to the effort:

Citing his investigation into the FCC’s public comments process preceding the vote, Schneiderman declared his office’s intention to sue to “stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of net neutrality” — a forthcoming legal challenge that’s sure to be in good company. In response to questions from TechCrunch, Schneiderman’s office noted that he will spearhead a multi-state lawsuit and that we can expect it “in the coming days.”

“We will be filing a claim to preserve protections for New Yorkers and all Americans. And we’ll be working aggressively to stop the FCC’s leadership from doing any further damage to the internet and to our economy,” Schneiderman said in a press release.

Hopefully they'll be able to get an injunction put in place with the quickness, before we start seeing shenanigans with our Internet access.

WUNC uncovers disgusting behavior by lawmakers in NC Legislature

And what can only be described as a blatant cover-up of said behavior:

The first incident happened ten years ago when Representative David Almond (R-Stanly) allegedly exposed himself to his legislative assistant – and then masturbated on an office chair. The legislative assistant reportedly filed a complaint, and legislators dealt with the situation swiftly.

"The chair we put away. There was semen on the chair. We went to the individual and dealt with the situation," said House Representative Julia Howard (R-Forsyth), who was on the Legislative Ethics Committee at that time. "We put a fine line in the sand and addressed it. That’s the end of your story."

Uh, no. The lack of exposure this incident received because you and others decided that "story" should not be told at the time is a story in itself. And it's a good bet at least part of that story is the desire not to impugn a Republican when they were counting on capitalizing on the imprisonment of Democrat Jim Black:

Thursday News: Walkout

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DEMOCRATS LEAVE COMMITTEE MEETING AFTER REPUBLICANS REFUSE TO ALLOW JUDGE TO SPEAK: Bishop said that since Stephens isn’t employed by Cooper’s office, he wouldn’t let him speak. Democratic Sen. Jay Chaudhuri of Raleigh told Bishop that was “a missed opportunity.” A fellow Democrat, Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham, then asked permission to speak. Bishop denied him several times but eventually let McKissick ask a question. McKissick asked for Stephens to be able to give his presentation. Bishop disagreed, saying he’s the committee chairman and gets to make that decision. Then McKissick, Chaudhuri and the third Democrat on the committee, Joel Ford of Charlotte, stood up and walked out without another word. The meeting proceeded without them. At the end of the meeting the remaining Republicans introduced a new set of proposed election maps for judges and district attorneys – an issue that was not on the public agenda for the meeting.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article189621594.html

Charlotte Council member Lawana Mayfield boycotts restaurant

Reclaiming her time in the face of bigotry:

While she has not patronized any of Noble’s restaurants since 2015, she said she spoke out now because of Noble’s plans to open a business in the district she represents. “Any business that is within my district where I know that they signed on to the letter to support discrimination through legislation, I will not patronize knowingly,” she said. She said she knows of no other business in her district whose owner signed it.

Noble, who is also an ordained minister, was one of 94 signers of the letter, including prominent Christian conservatives such as Dr. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. Others included business owners, realtors, educators, medical professionals and two captains for USAirways/American Airlines. The only restaurant owners were Noble and Joseph Acovski of Joey’s Fine Food and Pizza in Denver, N.C.

I know many of my friends in political circles are exhausted after the bitter fighting over HB2, but the truth is, bigots like Noble pretty much won that war. HB142 wasn't even really a compromise, it was a victory of form over substance. Lawana was right to vocalize her opposition to patronizing this establishment, because there are over 90,000 LGBTQ folks living in the Charlotte Metropolitan area, and they deserve to know which businesses hold them in contempt, and actively work to deny them rights. And there's something else this story exposes, the dangers of government relying on religious institutions to provide services to the poor:

Wednesday News: Good job, Alabama

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE DOUG JONES DEFEATS ROY MOORE FOR US SENATE SEAT: In a stunning victory aided by scandal, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama's special Senate election, beating back history, an embattled Republican opponent and President Donald Trump, who urgently endorsed GOP rebel Roy Moore despite a litany of sexual misconduct allegations. It was the first Democratic Senate victory in a quarter-century in Alabama, one of the reddest of red states, and proved anew that party loyalty is anything but certain in the age of Trump. Tuesday's Republican loss was a major embarrassment for the president and a fresh wound for the nation's already divided GOP. "We have shown not just around the state of Alabama, but we have shown the country the way — that we can be unified," Jones declared as supporters in a Birmingham ballroom cheered, danced and cried tears of joy.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article189483979.html

Tuesday News: ALEC's new poster boy

NC REP JASON SAINE AWARDED ALEC'S TOP CORPORATE SELLOUT PRIZE: State Rep. Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincolnton, will be the next chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a conservative group backed by corporations that proposes model legislation for state legislators to introduce. Saine will serve a one-year term beginning January 1, an ALEC spokesman said in an email. Saine spoke at ALEC’s States & Nation Policy Summit last week in Nashville, Tenn. He hailed the coming 45th anniversary of ALEC, and encouraged attendance at the anniversary celebration next year at the Trump International Hotel. The event is aimed at raising millions for the ALEC endowment, he said. The 45th anniversary “is an incredible validation that an idea exchange works,” Saine said.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article18...

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