Notice? We don’t need to give no stinkin’ notice!

This morning’s email box provided yet another reminder of the crazy and backasswards way conservative leaders are running the North Carolina General Assembly these days. It was a simple enough thing: an emailed notice from the chairs of the House Select Committee on Education Reform providing notice that that the group would meet on Wednesday, February 8.

“What’s wrong with such a notice?” you ask. Well, nothing – that’s the point.

Everyday, my email box is crowded with official notices from groups like this — mere study committees with no authority to do anything other than make recommendations — that provide weeks worth of notice to the public, the media and advocates. And while it would have been nice if this morning’s notice had included an agenda for the meeting (some do, some don’t), at least by providing such notice, interested parties have been given plenty of time to find out what the plan is for the meetings, to get their people there and maybe even to have a say. Pretty simple, huh?

Now contrast this with the rash of special legislative sessions we’ve been having lately. Mind you, these are actual lawmaking sessions in which decision have been made that impact thousands and thousands — if not millions — of people. In each of these instances the official notice provided by House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem  Phil Berger was much less — if not, essentially, nonexistent.

Most of the time, lawmakers themselves didn’t even know what the plan was (or even what time sessions would actually get around to taking action). The Midnight Madness session, of course, took this abusive method of running things to an even more extreme and absurd level.

The bottom line: Right now, we think we know that legislative leaders plan to return to Raleigh on Thursday, February 16. Other than that, no one knows anything. There has been no meaningful notice, calendar or statement from the people in charge.

Legislative leaders can and should address this ridiculous problem immediately by providing full notice ahead of time — at least a few days and ideally a week or two — that tells everyone when they will convene and what will be on the agenda. The conservatives may have the votes to do whatever they want, but they are messing with democracy when they deny the public and their representatives the opportunity to witness their decisions and be heard. 

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Rob Schofield

    January 13, 2012 at 10:12 am

  2. Nonanonymous

    January 13, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Rob, I can’t help but think you’re being not the least bit hypocritical in your hyper-criticism of the GOP Legislature.

    Is there anything you can think of they might have done right, or will you continue to focus on the negative?

  3. Rob Schofield

    January 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Hey Non — I don’t apologize at all for being hyper-critical of the G.A. It’s clearly the most extreme and regressive bunch to govern the state in several decades.

    Having said this, we have written occasional favorable pieces over the last year. We gave them credit for some positive steps when it comes to services and rehabilitation for the formerly incarcerated. We’ve also highlighted the progress on compensation for eugenics victims. And early on last year — before it turned out to be a fraud — we congratulated conservative leaders on their pledges of openness and transparency. There have been a few others.

    Also, if you paid attention in years past, you would have noticed that, unlike the partisan GOP annexes in the Pope Empire, which act as cheering sections for the current legislative leadership, we were frequently very hard on Dems in the past when they were running the G.A.