Commentary

In case you missed them, two commentaries on the main Policy Watch website from earlier today are worth a look this afternoon.

In today’s “Monday numbers,” Chris Fitzsimon lists some of the latest sobering numbers surrounding the unrepentant efforts of Senator Phil Berger, Rep. Paul Stam and some other troubled souls to block enforcement of the law in North Carolina when it comes to marriage equality. Example:

4—number of says since Fayetteville minister Johnny Hunter said at Rep. Stam’s news that John Arrowood, a candidate for the N.C. Court of Appeals who is gay, is a “flaming homosexual” who should drop out of the race (“Fayetteville minister says openly gay judicial candidate is ‘biased’,) WNCN-TV, October 23, 2014)

0—number of times that Rep. Stam has publicly condemned the comments or openly expressed his disagreement with them

Meanwhile in “Judgeships crowd ballot with bubbles,” commentator Steve Ford of the North Carolina Council of Churches explores the wackiness of the ballot that North Carolina voters are now tackling across the state (which includes a Court of Appeals race with 19 candidates for one office). As Ford notes:

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Commentary

The folks in the North Carolina Republican Party keep wanting to have it both ways on Common Core. Abolishing the standards has become a crusade for the Tea Party wing led by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, when he is not planning wacky constitutional conventions.  But much of the state’s business community, specifically the NC Chamber, has been outspoken proponents of retaining the Common Core standards.

Governor Pat McCrory has praised the standards too, and McCrory’s appointment to a commission rewriting the standards is a Common Core supporter, much to the consternation of the party’s hard-right activists.

But when Texas Governor Rick Perry came to North Carolina last week to stump for Thom Tillis’ Senate campaign and shared a stage with McCrory, he specifically mentioned Common Core as a reason to vote for Tillis.

He will go to Washington, D.C., and do everything he can to dismantle Obamacare,” Perry said. “He will say no to things like Common Core. He will say no to things like Race to the Top.”

Wonder what McCrory was thinking when Perry was speaking and when they both held Tillis’ hands high for the crowd?

Does McCrory want Tillis to go to Washington stop things like Common Core that McCrory himself supports?

Commentary

In case you missed it over the weekend, Patrick Conway, the head of the economics Department at UNC Chapel Hill had an important op-ed in Raleigh’s News & Observer about the true state of the North Carolina economy. As Conway explains, the recent rosy claims of state officials and their apologists in the right-wing think tanks  are ignoring a huge, under-reported issue: 300,000 “missing” workers who have simply evaporated from the workforce. Here’s Conway:

There’s a large disconnect in perceptions of the current state of North Carolina’s labor market.

Gov. Pat McCrory stated a positive view in a recent address in Chapel Hill: “We’ve had one of the largest drops in unemployment [rates] in the country.” His more general contention was that the state’s labor-market difficulties are “being resolved” by tough choices made by his administration.

A contrary view was voiced by a recent letter-writer who said we’re still in the midst of a terrible recession.

These views seem contradictory, but it is easy to reconcile the two. McCrory ignores the 300,000 working-age adults who have dropped out of the labor force since 2010. If we assert that they’re gone, our unemployment rate is a high but acceptable 6.8 percent. If we recognize that these are productive residents who have temporarily stopped looking for work, then our unemployment rate is a terrifying 12.4 percent.

Conway goes on to say that simply ignoring these missing workers will not solve the problem: Read More

Commentary

As reported on N.C. Policy Watch recently, some advocates on the far right — including North Carolina’s own Lt. Governor — have been pushing the radical idea of late that it’s time for a second American constitutional convention.

For those who haven’t given the idea much thought, the dangers that would accompany such a move may not be readily apparent. Thankfully, veteran national policy analyst Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained them in a recent column for the Washington Post.

As Greenstein noted, such an event could be a disastrous free-for-all:

The Constitution sets no rules for how a constitutional convention would work. What standards determine whether 34 states have called for a convention? Do all resolutions that state legislatures have ever passed count — even if they called for conventions on very different topics, or were passed 50 or 100 years ago, or were later rescinded, as some have been? Oklahoma, for instance, passed a resolution in 1976 calling for a convention but rescinded it in 2009, citing concerns about throwing the Constitution wide open to unknown changes; some proponents argue that Oklahoma should still count anyway. Can that be right? The Constitution is silent on all of these issues.

That’s just the start.  If a convention were called, how many delegates would each state get, and how would they be selected? How long could the convention last? The Constitution provides no guidance on those questions either.

He continued: Read More

News
Sen. Phil Berger

Sen. Phil Berger

Senate Leader Phil Berger and a majority of the Senate GOP caucus on Friday sent a letter to the director of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts asking his office revise its recent memo spelling out that magistrates must treat same- sex marriages for which a marriage license has been issued the same way that marriages between a man and a woman are treated.

The AOC’s October 14th memo made it clear magistrates could be suspended or fined for refusing to perform same-sex marriages. Here’s an excerpt from that memorandum:

AOC memo

 

 

 

 

The GOP leadership now wants court officials advised that they can side-step the federal court rulings based on religious objections.

Berger has also pledged to introduce next session a bill that would let officials refuse to marry gay couples.

Here’s the body of the letter sent Friday by Senate President Berger and 27 other Republican state senators: Read More