Commentary

National commentators on McCrory’s troubled job search: Ex-Guv still doesn’t get it

Ruth McCambridge, editor-in-chief of the national publication Nonprofit Quarterly, has a powerful new essay this morning on Pat McCrory’s troubled search for employment in the aftermath of having shepherded one the of the nation’s most infamous discrimination laws into being. This is from “Bigotry as Career-killer: McCrory ‘Suffering Consequences’ from HB2 Fallout”:

“’If you disagree with the politically correct thought police on this new definition of gender…you’re the worst of evil,’ McCrory said. ‘It’s almost as if I broke a law.’

Maybe not a law, but certainly an emerging standard that can seriously affect the bottom line.

McCrory blames the Human Rights Campaign for his defeat in his campaign for reelection, calling the group ‘more powerful than the NRA.’ This is only one of a number of statements the former governor made that we sincerely hope are true….

‘What businesses have found—well ahead of lawmakers and the courts—is that being an LGBT-inclusive employer is crucial when it comes to attracting and retaining talent and when it comes to appealing to the ever-growing lucrative LGBT consumer market,’ said Deena Fidas, Director of the Workplace Equality Program at HRC. ‘It’s just part of doing business.’…

Over the past five years, businesses and governments all over the United States have felt the very real financial consequences of discriminating against LGBT persons. McCrory’s former gig does not speak well to his understanding of this very serious new environment. North Carolina has lost up to $201 million in tourism and tax revenue. He is a poster child for exclusion, and that is indeed likely to limit him in his future career if we continue to grow increasingly inclusive as a society.

McCambridge also borrows from a fine piece in Salon by Nico Lang, entitled “Anti-LGBT bigotry isn’t just bad for business. It’s also bad for your career.” Here’s Lang:

“The reason that no one wants to hire McCrory, though, has nothing to do with the tyranny of left-wing ideologues. Businesses who have spent the past few decades making a name for themselves as leaders in corporate equality are unlikely to jeopardize their reputation by hiring someone whose public record is opposed to fostering an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion. If the economic fallout over HB 2 was proof positive that anti-LGBT discrimination is bad for business, McCrory is finding out the hard way that bigotry is also bad for your career…. Read more

Commentary

A small bit of progress on Jones Street: House advances A-F school performance grade change

In case you missed it, the state House  took a positive step in education policy last week when it voted in favor of HB 322, which would change the way A-F school performance grades are calculated. The current school grading calculation is based 80% on test score proficiency and just 20% on student growth. This has led to criticism that the A-F grades assigned to schools undervalue growth in student learning and are too closely correlated with school poverty rates. A and B grades are overwhelmingly concentrated amongst schools that serve the fewest number of poor students, while high poverty schools, even those with high levels of student growth, are saddled with D and F grades. Lower grades can be harmful to student and staff morale and make schools less desirable for prospective parents, potentially leading to even higher concentrations of poverty.

To his credit, bill sponsor Rep. Craig Horn is seeking to address these deficiencies in the school grading system, noting during the committee meeting that “[i]n my view, education is growth” and that “proficiency rewards schools for the students they take in but not necessarily for how they teach students.” HB 322 puts more emphasis on growth in student learning by changing the calculation to 50% proficiency and 50% growth. The bill garnered broad, bipartisan support with only one dissenting vote in committee and only two on the House floor.

There are certainly problems with the A-F model, particularly the focus on standardized test scores as the sole indicator of school quality. A more robust and informative system would include other indicators of student achievement like measures of school culture, climate, and access to key resources like advanced courses, pre-kindergarten programs, school technology, and highly qualified teachers. But HB 322’s focus on growth in student learning represents an important step toward creating a school accountability system that promotes student achievement and provides parents with meaningful information about the schools their children are attending. HB 322 is now in the Senate (it’s been assigned to the Senate Rules Committee) where it’s fate is less certain. Let’s hope Senator keep the dialogue moving on this extremely important subject.

Commentary

This report explains why Neil Gorsuch shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court

With the Senate Judiciary Committee commencing hearings into Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee this morning, be sure to take at least a few minutes to review The Gorsuch Record, a damning in-depth report prepared by the nonpartisan legal advocacy group, the Alliance for Justice. The report puts it this way:

“Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly shown hostility toward the efforts of vulnerable populations to use the courts to protect their constitutional rights. He has, moreover, consistently downplayed constitutional abuses by government officials. And he has placed the rights of corporations over those of other Americans, weakened critical acts of Congress, and advocated for overturning long established legal doctrines that ensure the federal government can properly enforce protections for the American people.”

The report goes on to spell out dozens of areas in which Gorsuch will almost assuredly work and vote to take the nation backwards. These include:

  • The power of corporations,
  • Government illegality and overreach vis a vis individuals subjected to abuse,
  • Workers’ rights,
  • Voting rights (where he has praised the work of one of the nation’s leading voter suppression advocates and co-architect of NC”s Monster Voting Law”)
  • Civil rights and racial justice
  • Equal opportunity,
  • Consumer protection,
  • Reproductive freedom, including the right to an abortion and access to contraception,
  • The rights of children and workers with disabilities,
  • LGBTQ rights,
  • The rights of immigrants,
  • Money in politics,
  • Separation of church and state,
  • Environmental protection,
  • Criminal justice – including the rights of criminal defendants, the rights of prisoners, excessive police force, searches and seizures and criminal sentencing,
  • the rights of Native Americans, and
  • The right to die.

In each of these areas and others, the report shows Gorsuch’s record to be that of a man who will vote to uphold and extend Trumpism. The report concludes this way:

“While his resume may be objectively impressive, his ideology is disqualifying. Time and again, we found evidence of Judge Gorsuch’s ideological pursuit of legal outcomes that systematically denigrate the rights of everyday people. While this is never desirable, it is even more disturbing at a time when the rights and freedoms of so many communities face heightened threats on a daily basis.

…We believe that a thorough analysis will lead to the same conclusion we have reached: that Neil Gorsuch is the wrong choice for a position that demands its occupants embrace the philosophy that the Constitution protects all of us, not just the wealthy and powerful.”

In short, the Gorsuch nomination is quite arguably the most dangerous act that a very dangerous president has taken during his first months in office. Let’s hope the U.S. Senate is paying attention.

Commentary

The best editorial of the weekend

If you get a chance, be sure to check out the Saturday editorial in the Greensboro News & Record entitled “A judicious veto.” In it, the N&R rightfully praises Roy Cooper’s first veto as Governor (this one of legislation seeking to make District and Superior Court elections partisan).

“Gov. Roy Cooper delivered a well-aimed veto Thursday.

‘We need less politics in the courtroom, not more,’ he said in rejecting House Bill 100, which would require partisan elections for District and Superior Court judges. He added that, under the bill, ‘judges who have chosen to register as unaffiliated voters so as to avoid partisan politics now have a difficult path to getting on the ballot.’

Cooper should keep his veto stamp handy because several more efforts to politicize the courts are likely to reach his desk. The Republican legislature keeps trying to weaken the governor and make the courts more partisan.

Bills have recently passed the House to transfer the power to fill judicial vacancies from the governor to lawmakers and to reduce the N.C. Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12. None of these measures was recommended by the judicial branch.”

After detailing the problems with the other bills targeting the judiciary that the General Assembly is advancing, the editorial concludes this way:

“Over the past 15 years or so, North Carolina had moved away from partisan judicial elections. Now the legislature is working to restore party labels at all levels of the courts. Not only does that invite more politics into the courts, it puts truly nonpartisan candidates at a disadvantage. It makes no sense to discourage men and women who don’t want to be partisan politicians from serving in our courts.

The legislature has the power to make these changes, and override Cooper’s vetoes, but this is not how anyone should promote court reform. Where is the objective analysis of how courts can work more effectively, serve the public more fairly and see that justice is done more impartially?

None of these proposed changes seems designed to accomplish those objectives. On the contrary, they look more like maneuvers intended to give the legislature and political parties more power.

The judicial branch of government should be the least political. Cooper should veto every bill that threatens the integrity of the courts.”

Commentary

Editorial: Berger, Moore have things backwards with latest tax cut proposals

Senate leader Phil Berger and Speaker of the House Tim Moore

As NC Budget and Tax Center Director Alexandra Sirota explained yesterday, the new tax cut proposal from the state Senate is precisely what North Carolina does not need right now. Senate leader Phil Berger has proposed slashing another billion dollars from state revenue. House Speaker Tim Moore has a more modest proposal, but it’s sure to be damaging to essential state structures and services too.

The new proposals have spurred the first of what are sure to be multiple critical editorials in the state’s major newspapers in today’s Fayetteville Observer. After noting the state’s huge and unmet needs in public education, the editorial (“Fix our problems before cutting taxes”) concludes this way:

“The state’s own bureaucracy has been heavily trimmed and many agencies don’t have sufficient staff to get the job done. Mental health care is almost a joke. Lawmakers debate how best to beat our rampant opioid addiction problem while we’re thousands of beds short of the treatment capacity we need to deal with the epidemic.

Many of our roads are a mess, in poor shape and unable to cope with growing volumes of traffic as our state’s population steadily rises. And our highway trust funds fall miles short of what’s needed to fix the problem, given cuts in gasoline tax rates, continuing low fuel prices and the steady rise in average fuel economy for the cars out on our roads.

Those issues and many more need to be addressed, but instead we’re hearing discussion of more tax cuts for this year and next. One bill in the Senate would cut the personal income tax from 5.499 percent to 5.35 percent and expand the amount of income that’s tax-exempt. It would cut corporate income taxes from 3 percent to 2.5 percent next year. Sponsors say that would increase North Carolina’s allure for business, even though there’s no good evidence that state tax rates influence corporate expansion decisions.

It looks to us like they’re trying to hitch the tax wagon to the wrong end of the horse. Let’s make sure we’re taking good care of our kids, our roads and other essential needs and then we can talk about how to give back what’s left over.”