As reported here this week:

“A Lake Lure charter school suspended all of its extra-curricular clubs last week after controversy erupted over a new club that supports lesbian, gay and transgender students.

The board of directors for Lake Lure Classical Academy, which serves students from kindergarten through high school in Rutherford County community, voted for the temporary suspension of extra-curricular activities Thursday.”

Today, the ACLU of North Carolina called on the school to reverse its decision:

“Lake Lure Classical Academy (LLCA) should promptly rescind its ban on all student-led noncurricular groups, including an LGBTQ+ student organization that was recently formed to promote tolerance and equality for all students, according to a letter sent today by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) to school officials.

At its November 12 meeting, the LLCA Board of Directors voted to suspend all student-run clubs after some community members challenged the new LGBTQ+ club. In today’s letter, ACLU-NCLF Legal Director Chris Brook explains that the federal Equal Access Act forbids schools from permitting some student groups while barring others. LLCA has a history of allowing noncurricular students organizations, including a campus Christian organization, Raptors for Christ, that has met on campus for five years.

“The LGBTQ+ club does not seek special treatment,” Brook writes in the letter. “They simply seek to be treated the same as other student groups on campus, a right guaranteed to them by the Equal Access Act.”

Read the entire letter by clicking here.


[This post has been updated — scroll down for the post script.]

As The Nation reports this morning, Gov. McCrory’s unfortunate posturing on Syrian refugees bears a striking resemblance to what other right-wing governors and politicians around the country are saying:

“The growing US backlash against Syrian refugees continued to escalate on Tuesday, as at least 27 governors announced that they would close their states to asylum seekers fleeing that country’s civil war.

GOP presidential hopefuls, meanwhile, sought to one-up one another in ways to limit the number of refugees the United States takes in from Syria and the greater Middle East. Senator Ted Cruz called for admission to this country to be limited to Syrian Christians, a position former Florida governor Jeb Bush seemed to adopt over the weekend. On Monday, Senator Rand Paul announced that he would be proposing legislation to suspend visas for refugees from Syria and 30 other countries.”

Meanwhile, as Sue Sturgis reports at Facing South, the Guv is already attempting to raise campaign funds off his stance.

“McCrory apparently also believes the issue makes for winning politics. The same day the governor called for a halt to Syrian refugees being resettled in his state, his re-election committee posted an appeal to its Facebook page calling for ‘NO SYRIAN REFUGEES IN NC’ and linking to the campaign’s contribution page.”

Sigh…this seems unlikely to get less ugly anytime soon.

P.S. on  a more encouraging note, the libertarian conservative website Reason is featuring an article that blasts the political fear mongering. To quote:

“When defending gun rights, conservatives point out that when guns are outlawed only outlaws have guns. The same logic applies to fleeing Syrian refugees: If ISIS victims are banned from America, only ISIS will enter.

But logic doesn’t seem to be driving the conservative response to the refugee crisis in the wake of the Paris attacks. Fear and naked politics is….

Simply shutting down the program won’t stop jihadis from finding their way to the United States. It’s their innocent victims who’ll suffer. This won’t make America, the land of the brave and free, any safer — just a whole lot more ashamed of itself when the fear abates and sanity returns.”

Commentary, News

App StateAs the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations convenes this morning to review, among other things, the generous new pay hikes provided to various UNC system chancellors, it’s increasingly clear that rank and file university personnel will get no more than the one-time, across-the-board $750 bonus authorized by the new state budget.

According to a post on the Facebook page Aaup Appalachian (AAUP stands for American Association of University Professors) the Human Resources Director at Appalachian State informed staff on the Boone campus last night that plans to supplement the bonus with another $750 out of university funds has been nixed by the lawyers:

“Dear Appalachian Colleagues,

On November 5, I sent you an email indicating that: “This year, the university has identified non-state funds to provide all SHRA employees with an additional campus-based $750 bonus, doubling the legislated bonus to $1,500.” It was my belief that providing these one-time lump sum bonuses was within our discretion, since we were not increasing base compensation and were not committing any State funds, and I advised our campus senior leadership accordingly.

With deep and sincere regret I must now inform you that I have recently been told by legal counsel that we are not allowed to make additional lump sum payments to employees subject to the State Human Resources Act (SHRA), above the legislated $750 bonus. Unfortunately, my interpretation of Appalachian’s ability to provide an additional bonus for SHRA employees was incorrect. Any such payments fall exclusively within the purview of the North Carolina General Assembly, regardless of the source of funding.”

The letter goes on to apologize profusely and acknowledge the sorry state of campus salaries.

At least the folks in Boone are keeping their (dark) sense of humor about the whole thing. This is from the intro to the Facebook post:

“Good news: The pay raises have been withdrawn!!
Bad news: Not the $50,000 raise for App State’s chancellor, but the $750 bonus for App State’s staff (in addition to the $750 bonus all employees are receiving)”

David Lewis

Rep. David Lewis

Not that we needed one, but this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer offers yet another reminder of how state budgets are put together in Raleigh these days. As the story written by Patrick Gannon of The Insider details, Rep. David Lewis, the powerful chair of the House Rules Committee “took significant steps in this year’s legislative session to protect the state contract of a friend and campaign donor” by “tucking language into a technical corrections bill that became law in the final minutes of the session – ensured that contracts for those services would continue to be bid out to the private sector when they expire next year.”

In other words, a law was written secretly in the dead of the night to protect a campaign donor with no public sunlight or input.

Now, consider this fact in the light of yesterday’s edition of the Fitzsimon File, in which Chris reviews thePat McCrory press event expressed position of Gov. McCrory on such shenanigans in 2008, during his first run for Governor. As Chris notes, McCrory promised “to veto any state budget that includes items added in private sessions and not included by the House or Senate during the regular budget process.”

Sadly, of course, as Chris also notes, “Virtually every budget McCrory has signed would qualify for a veto under that promise but he has signed every one of them.”

Obviously, as occurred with his infamous repudiations of his 2012 promise to approve no further restrictions on access to abortion services, something changed between the 2008 campaign and McCrory becoming Governor in 2013 and it wasn’t good.

It’s too bad. Some of those 2008 promises made a lot of sense.


The parent organization of N.C. Policy Watch, the North Carolina Justice Center, issued the following statement today in response to Gov. McCrory’s announcement yesterday that he would oppose Syrian refugees coming to North Carolina:

Statement from the NC Justice Center: Syrian refugees should find home in NC

Times of great human tragedy are a moral test for all of us. Currently, thousands of Syrians are fleeing terror and violence from their war-torn home country. They want what we all want: a safe place to rebuild their lives. A home where their children don’t have to fear the constant threat of violence.

A few of these families have received refuge in our state. Every North Carolinian should be proud of this: it stands in the American tradition of accepting the tired, poor, huddled masses who yearn for nothing more than to breathe free.

There are many reasons, practical and otherwise, to be disappointed in Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision to oppose settling Syrian refugees in North Carolina. It ignores our constitutional system, where the federal government sets immigration and refugee policy. It also sends all the wrong signals — both to refugees here, and to people overseas who may perceive this move as hostility toward helping Muslims, even those in the most desperate of situations.

The savage acts of terror in Paris require a determined and vigorous international response. We grieve for the loss of innocent lives, and fight back our nation and the world must. But the enemy is not the Syrian refugee families and their children, struggling for a peaceful life. In fact, the terrorists caused these Syrian refugees to flee their homes in the first place. If we refuse to provide them a new, safe life and opportunity, we add only to their misery, do nothing to enhance our own security, and turn probable friends into possible future foes. We can fight terror without turning our back on our values and constitutional principles. If we turn our back on those values, the terrorists win in a different way.

When we think of how to handle tragedies like this one, we should imagine our own relatives in the position of the refugees. For many of us in this nation of immigrants, this is not especially hard: a few generations ago, it was our relatives in this position.

Like our relatives of a generation or two ago, today’s refugees just need shelter from the storm. They will find it in a place where they can settle, find work, prosper and contribute. Let this place be our nation. Let this place be our state.