Shenanigans In North Carolina

Governor Roy Cooper was elected in 2016 and began his term in 2017. Previously he served as North Carolina’s Attorney General. My sources tell me that he runs the Democrat party much the way a mafia don would, using threats to make sure no legislators break ranks in their voting. He also seems to have some problems controlling spending in some of the state agencies.

The Carolina Journal posted an article today citing some of Governor Cooper’s current challenges.

The article reports:

Consider, for example, the current cash crunch at North Carolina’s Department of Transportation. Secretary Jim Trogdon blames the problem on hundreds of millions of dollars of hurricane damage and payouts to property owners whose rights were violated by the state’s abusive Map Act.

While these costs are real, they don’t fully explain DOT’s overspending. An outside consultant’s report dinged the department for faulty forecasting and cash management. State Treasurer Dale Folwell cited the report’s findings as well as DOT’s transfer of $1.1 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to the Highway Fund without his legally required authorization as reasons why Cooper should replace Trogdon.

Rather than responding to these specific concerns, the governor’s press office put out a statement rejecting what it termed “a financial lecture from the nation’s least effective state Treasurer.” DOT’s money woes have complex origins and consequences, to be sure. But Trogdon’s defense neither required nor was advanced by such adolescent name-calling.

Much less money is at stake over at the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, but its recent miscue inflicted more political damage.

The department handles a decades-old program called the N.C. State Scholarship for Children of War Veterans. The department sent out a letter informing colleges and universities that scholarship payments would be “delayed until further notice,” citing the budget impasse between Gov. Cooper and the General Assembly. But according to reporting by WBTV’s Nick Ochsner, there was neither a fiscal nor a legal reason to suspend payment. Whether this was simply an administrative screw-up or a purposeful attempt to pressure GOP lawmakers, it was incredibly foolish.

There are also some questions regarding Medicaid in the state:

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services is mired in its own controversy over awarding a Medicaid contract to a managed-care network led by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina instead of one led by Aetna. In its legal challenge to the decision, Aetna argues that one of the DHHS employees in charge of evaluating the bids was living with a key Blue Cross executive.

Furthermore, according to reporting by Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington, an internal document shows that Aetna’s bid originally ranked above the Blue Cross bid. A DHHS official then intervened to create a new criterion after the fact, which had the effect of displacing Aetna in favor of Blue Cross.

There are also charges that the Governor attempted to obstruct an investigation into some aspects of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The article concludes:

Cooper and three of his aides have been asked to testify on the pipeline at a legislative hearing on November 8. Will the sober-minded former state senator and attorney general show up and provide a persuasive defense of his administration’s conduct? Or will North Carolinians be treated to another round of political hackery and juvenile tweets?

Lt. Governor Dan Forest will be running against Governor Cooper in 2020. Dan Forest definitely has my vote.

 

North Carolina Has A Budget

The North Carolina House has overridden Governor Cooper’s veto of the state budget. As expected, the Democrats are protesting. Below is the statement issued by Speaker of the House Tim Moore:

Raleigh, N.C. – The Office of House Speaker Tim Moore released a factual recap on Thursday of how the budget veto override unfolded this week to debunk outrageously false claims that House Republicans misled their Democratic colleagues about a no-vote session on Wednesday morning.

  • The budget veto override was taken during a House floor session with a properly noticed calendar following two public announcements votes would be taken on Wednesday.
  • There was never any of the customary public communication of a no-vote session by the Speaker’s office, which makes all such announcements to members of the House when a no-vote session is planned. 
  • House Republicans never planned to attempt a veto override on Wednesday, nor were they aware House Democrats were falsely told by their own leadership of a no-vote session.
  • House Republicans had only 55 members in session on Wednesday morning – not even enough to hold a majority on the floor with all members present. 
  • By their numbers alone, it is obvious House Republicans never planned to override the veto Wednesday.   
  • Contrary to false claims that House Democrats in North Carolina were attending 9/11 commemoration ceremonies on Wednesday morning, four extremely credible, separate accounts factually demonstrate this is an outright lie. 
  • The editor of the News & Observer’s ‘Insider’ Colin Campbell tweeted the following: “So much misinformation going around the #ncga today: -Only one Democratic House member has been confirmed as attending a 9/11 event during the veto override vote.”
  • Governor Roy Cooper said in a noon press conference (4:45 mark) Wednesday that he did not see and was not aware of any House Democrats at a ceremony he attended, directly contradicting a false narrative spun by national media outlets like the Washington Post.  
  • As widely reported, House Rep. Deb. Butler (D-New Hanover) said on the floor (5:20 mark) that Democrats were downstairs drawing maps during the veto override. 
  • House Minority Leader Darren Jackson confirmed in his press conference that in-fact Democrats had a redistricting committee meeting planned that morning.
  • The North Carolina House held its commemoration session for 9/11 first responders and victims in its afternoon session on Wednesday.
  • The narrative that the budget veto override vote on Wednesday had anything to do with 9/11 ceremonies is a provably false fabrication debunked by extremely credible sources – the House Democrats themselves – and any reproduction of this narrative is simply spreading a lie. 
  • Democrats meeting privately about ongoing redistricting in the General Assembly – particularly with all of their members of the House Redistricting Committee together – is a potential violation of a three-judge panel’s order that redistricting committee efforts take place in public view. 
  • The Governor falsely alleged in his press conference that Republicans “orchestrated” the veto override and Democrats “were lied to.”  This is a complete and total fabrication that he must retract immediately and cease misleading North Carolinians about the circumstances.   
  • House Republican members and staff had no idea that House Democrats were told by their leadership Wednesday was a no-vote session
  • This was a mistake by the House Democratic leadership that they took responsibility for it in their press conference Wednesday morning
  • The Speaker frequently announces no-vote legislative sessions for members’ planning purposes, often at least once or twice a week. 
  • The announcement is made by the Speaker from the floor of the House, by email from the Speaker’s office to all members, or both
  • The announcement is often shared on social media to make the broader General Assembly community aware of a no-vote legislative session. 
  • None of the customary public announcements were ever made of a no-vote session Wednesday by the Speaker’s office. 
  • To assume a no-vote session based on private oral conversations about specific bills is an erroneous presumption by House Democrats’ leadership that ignores the consistent procedures of the House for notifying members of a no-vote session. 
  • The Speaker’s office relies on public announcements of no-vote sessions from the floor of the House and by direct communication to all members to avoid exactly this type of confusion. 
  • In three terms as the presiding officer, Speaker Moore has never, and would never, announce a no-vote session then hold votes that session. 
  • Speaker Moore is serving his ninth term in the state House, as is House Rules Committee Chairman David Lewis.  They have a combined 36 years of experience serving in the North Carolina General Assembly.
  • Both leaders have far too much respect for the North Carolina House and their colleagues to announce no recorded votes, then hold a vote. 
  • In Tuesday afternoon’s no-vote legislative session at 4:30 p.m. on September 10, 2019, North Carolina House Republicans likely had the votes on the floor to override the Governor’s budget veto. 
  • Chairman Lewis was presiding at the time but did not take a vote, because Speaker Moore had announced in that morning’s session that Tuesday afternoon would be a no-vote session. 
  • House Republican leadership always honors announcements of no-vote sessions and this week was no different
  • In Tuesday afternoon’s session, Chairman Lewis announced publicly the intention to take recorded votes the following day on two appropriations bills that were directed to Wednesday’s calendar “without objection.”
  • When adding both bills to the calendar on Tuesday, Chairman Lewis explicitly announced that there would be recorded votes on Wednesday (5:20 mark of the session’s House audio archive.)
  • Shortly after Chairman Lewis announced intention to take recorded votes on the two budget bills the following day, he announced a start time of 8:30 a.m. for Wednesday. 
  • The Speaker of the House, present members of the House, and staff, were all planning to hold recorded votes on bills on the published calendar for Wednesday’s morning session
  • All were completely unaware that House Democrats were told by their leadership of a no-vote session
  • The consideration of the veto override was properly noticed and published on the House calendar, as it has been for nearly 2 months.   
  • The House clerks and staff conducted standard preparation for a voting session.
  • House Republicans clearly, by their numbers, had no plans to attempt a veto override on Wednesday:
  • Republicans did not have enough votes to maintain a majority on the floor if all members were voting and present, with just 55 members.
  • The Republican caucus had 10 of its members missing from its 65-member majority. 
  • Republicans were missing the House Majority Leader and Rules Chairman from the floor on Wednesday
  • This is an obvious demonstration Republicans never planned to attempt an override and had no awareness Democrats did not plan to attend the voting session
  • Any suggestion that Republicans planned the veto override on Wednesday – which is demonstrably false – is an outright lie.
  • The House Republican caucus was genuinely confused and surprised when the Democrats did not arrive for the 8:30 am voting session. 
  • The Speaker confirmed with the clerks and his staff that no announcement had been made of a no-vote session following the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance
  • Members and staff briefly discussed whether to hold the veto override with the votes appearing secured on the floor during a voting session   
  • The veto override was never planned, discussed, or considered, by House leaders or staff until Wednesday morning’s session when Democrats did not arrive
  • House Republicans were completely transparent about what happened.  They held a public press conference, answered questions from the media, and Speaker Moore joined Capital Tonight on Spectrum News the day of the vote after speaking with reporters throughout the day. 
  • The Speaker has said repeatedly he would hold the veto override when the votes were secured on the floor of the House in a voting session.
  • He did so, advancing a historic school construction initiative in education communities across the state, more than $100 million in disaster relief funds, and another round of tax relief for North Carolina families. 

These are the facts and the Office of the Speaker appreciates your time reviewing this memo that dispels false claims that House Democrats were misled on Wednesday, or that they were attending 9/11 ceremonies during the veto override vote, or that House Republicans planned to attempt the veto override on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, very little of this information will find its way into the mainstream media. Fortunately, the Senate is also expected to override the veto and pass the budget.

The Fight To Delete Our History

In July 2015, The Raleigh News & Observer posted an article that included an announcement by then Governor McCrory that he would sign a bill to protect Confederate monuments in North Carolina.

The article reported:

“Our monuments and memorials reminds us of North Carolina’s complete story,” McCrory said in a news release. “The protection of our heritage is a matter of statewide significance to ensure that our rich history will always be preserved and remembered for generations to come.

“I remain committed to ensuring that our past, present and future state monuments tell the complete story of North Carolina.”

The bill had passed the North Carolina Senate unanimously in April, but there was a heated debate in the North Carolina House about the bill.

The article describes the bill:

The bill passed the House Tuesday and would ban state agencies and local governments from taking down any “object of remembrance” on public property that “commemorates an event, a person, or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history.”

That would mean a state law would be needed to remove a monument or relocate one to a site that’s not of “similar prominence.”

The idea behind the bill was to prevent cities or towns from acting abruptly and later regretting their actions regarding various statues.

Fast forward to today.

Channel 12 is reporting that there will be a public hearing next week where the public can address the committee examining the proposal by Governor Roy Cooper‘s administration to move three Confederate monuments from North Carolina’s old Capitol grounds to a Civil War battlefield.

This is trivial pursuit. It changes nothing and costs the state a serious amount of money. Also, according to the law currently in place, a state law would be needed to move the monuments. Why are we wasting the government’s and the public’s time with this? What in the world will moving the monuments change?

As we attack these monuments, we need to remember that Union and Confederate soldiers are considered U.S. veterans under federal law, and that they would be entitled to the same benefits as Union soldiers today. It’s also true that federal law (formerly Public Law 810) makes Confederate soldiers eligible for burial in national cemeteries and for taxpayer-funded headstones, just like Union soldiers. The men who fought for the south were fighting for states’ rights. They are as much to be honored as the men who fought against them.

Moving monuments does not change history–it simply brings up more divisions. We need to put the generally mistold history of the Civil War behind us and move forward. The Civil War was not about slavery–it was an economic war about tariffs and the exploitation of the agricultural south by the industrialized north. To characterize it as anything else is to misunderstand our history. (Just for the record, this is not necessarily a southern perspective–I grew up in New Jersey!)