Commentary

Ouch! Editorials blast McCrory administration on LGBT discrimination, coal ash pollution, offshore drilling

McCrory_budget305-aNorth Carolina Governor Pat McCrory did not have a good weekend on the editorial pages of the state’s major newspapers.

The Winston-Salem Journal blasted the administration’s decision to make well water near coal ash cites “safe” by raising the permissible amount of coal ash chemicals in the water.

The Wilmington Star News praised the Obama administration’s decision to block offshore oil and gas drilling near the fragile Carolina coastline and decried McCrory’s (and Senator Thom Tillis’) failure to listen to coastal communities.

And, of course, these editorials come on top of several more in recent days that have rejected the Guv’s new LGBT discrimination law as utterly outrageous.

Raleigh’s News & Observer called it “an insult to all the people of North Carolina. ”

The Greensboro News & Record called it “a sad day for North Carolina and its cities.”

The Asheville Citizen-Times decried the law’s effort to demonize LGBT people.

And. the Guv’s hometown paper, the Charlotte Observer put it this way in likening him to the worst politician-bigots of the 20th Century:

“It was, in the end, about a 21st century governor who joined a short, tragic list of 20th century governors. You know at least some of these names, probably: Wallace, Faubus, Barnett. They were men who fed our worst impulses, men who rallied citizens against citizens, instead of leading their states forward.

This is what Pat McCrory did Wednesday. In just 12 hours. It wasn’t the stand in the schoolhouse door. It was a sprint past the bathroom door and straight into the South’s dark, bigoted past.”

And judging by the mostly mocking national reviews of the new discrimination law — the New Yorker published an article in which McCrory is described as swearing in a class of “bathroom cadets” to enforce the new law — it would appear that any hopes McCrory may have harbored for a national political future after his time in the mansion expires have been pretty definitively flushed down the drain.

News

Apodaca wants Charlotte to cover costs of special session that rammed through anti-LGBTQ legislation

The special session Wednesday that passed legislation banning localities from protecting LGBTQ communities came at a cost of $42,000. Not satisfied that they’ve overturned the Charlotte ordinance — which would’ve allowed transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity — now State Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) wants the city of Charlotte to foot the bill as well.

Blue Ridge Now reports:

State Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) has asked his staff to look and see how the General Assembly can charge Charlotte to cover the costs of Wednesday’s special session, including the possibility of withholding the city’s sales tax revenues.

Lawmakers met Wednesday and passed a law invalidating a measure the Charlotte City Council passed last month to allow transgender people to use restrooms corresponding with their gender identity.

“Charlotte brought this all upon themselves,” knowing exactly what they were getting into, Apodaca said.

Read more here

Commentary

New York Times editorial: “Transgender law makes North Carolina pioneer in bigotry”

In case you had any doubts, this morning’s lead editorial in the New York Times makes clear what a source of national and international ridicule state leaders have now made North Carolina:

Transgender Law Makes North Carolina Pioneer in Bigotry

Officials in Charlotte, N.C., spent more than a year carefully considering and debating an antidiscrimination ordinance that was passed in February to promote the city’s culture of inclusiveness. State lawmakers quashed it on Wednesday by passing an appalling, unconstitutional bill that bars transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity and prohibits cities from passing antidiscrimination ordinances that protect gay and transgender people.

Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill into law late Wednesday, said it was necessary to undo Charlotte’s ordinance, which included protections for gay and transgender people, because it allowed “men to use women’s bathroom/locker room.” Proponents of so-called bathroom bills, which have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, have peddled them by spuriously portraying transgender women as potential rapists.

That threat exists only in the imagination of bigots. Supporters of the measures have been unable to point to a single case that justifies the need to legislate where people should be allowed to use the toilet. North Carolina is the first state to pass such a provision.

North Carolina lawmakers must have recognized that careful scrutiny of the bill would have doomed it. They convened a special session on Wednesday — which cost taxpayers $42,000 — to ram the bill through. The House allowed for 30 minutes of public debate, limiting speakers to two minutes. The Democrats walked out of the Senate in protest.

Inexplicably, lawmakers slipped a provision in the deceptively titled “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” that prohibits cities from setting a minimum wage higher than the state’s, which is $7.25 per hour. That appears to be largely symbolic because local jurisdictions in North Carolina generally don’t have the type of broad authority required to pass minimum wage requirements.

Under the law, people in North Carolina are required to use public restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate. Transgender people in the state can request to have their birth certificate changed only if they have had gender reassignment surgery. Many transgender people cannot afford surgery or choose not to have it.

By promoting the ludicrous idea that transgender women are inherently dangerous, the law endangers citizens who are already disproportionately vulnerable to violence and stigmatization. Transgender men go largely unmentioned in bathroom bill debates, but that could change. James Parker Sheffield, a transgender man with a beard, exposed the foolishness of the law in a tweet to the governor. “It’s now the law for me to share a restroom with your wife,” he wrote, attaching a photo of himself.

North Carolina could face serious economic repercussions from the law. It can expect a backlash from leading employers, a potential cut in federal education funding and lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law. American Airlines, which has a hub in Charlotte, and PayPal, which recently announced it would create 400 jobs in the state, are among several companies that have already criticized the law.

Mr. McCrory, who is running for re-election, may have assumed the bill would help him in a tight race against Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat who called the measure shameful. “Not only does this hurt North Carolina families, but it hurts our economy as well,” Mr. Cooper said in a video message. Voters should reject the candidate who made the state a pioneer in bigotry.”

Commentary

Two remarkable and disturbing truths about yesterday’s special discrimination session

3-7-16-NCPW-cartoonThere were a lot of horrific aspects to yesterday’s right-wing blitzkrieg on Jones Street. There were the hateful and ignorant speeches, the frequently even more hateful social media posts and tweets from the virtual storm troopers supporting the discriminators in the Legislative Building and then, of course, there was the truly absurd and outrageous lack of process that accompanied the passage of major legislation that will bring derision upon our state for years to come.

But for my money, here are the two seminal truths about yesterday’s horror show that have not received the attention they deserve:

Number One was the fact that several lawmakers who voted for the bill did not support it and did not want to be in Raleigh at all. I have been told by multiple advocates who attended yesterday’s session that they were sought out by conservative lawmakers who apologized for their presence and expressed their private disgust that the debacle was even taking place. These lawmakers then turned around and silently and spinelessly voted for the bill and against all potentially helpful amendments. It was a matter of calculating and cowardly politics at their absolute worst: elected officials who knew better voting to harm innocent people and enhance their suffering so as to avoid being attacked by theocrats and Tea Party true believers. It was a display so feckless and pathetic as to bring to mind the robotic automatons of the old Soviet bloc. No surprise then that the Governor joined this group of which he is a charter member late yesterday.

Number Two was the amazingly ignorant and mostly unspoken belief that underlies the religious right’s support for the bill. Simply put, the confused bullies from laughably misnamed groups like the North Carolina Values Coalition and the North Carolina Family Policy Council do not acknowledge that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are human beings or that they even exist. In particular, it is their view that there is literally no such being as a transgender person. They are, according to these zealots, simply men or women pretending to be something they are not. It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at this level of willful ignorance, but one thing is for sure: caring and thinking people need to get off their butts and start rebutting it at the top of their lungs.

A good place to start the rebuttal process will begin this afternoon at 5:45 at an event sponsored by Equality NC at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh at 3313 Wade Avenue. Click here for more information.

Commentary

Tomorrow’s special legislative session: Uninformed sausage making at its worst

3-7-16-NCPW-cartoonThere are a lot of reasons to be disgusted that state lawmakers will return to Raleigh tomorrow for a one-day special session to repeal Charlotte’s new anti-discrimination ordinance.

Here’s one, however, that will probably get lost in the shuffle: It’s less than 24 hours to the start of the session and we don’t have any real idea of what the legislation will say. Indeed, the General Assembly website has no mention of the session at all. Oh sure, there are all kinds of rumors out there — the bill will only be about bathrooms; the bill will bar all such anti-discrimination ordinances; the bill will go even further and forbid local living wage ordinances — but the plain truth is that no one in the public has any idea what will actually be considered and voted on.

This means that state lawmakers will almost certainly pass an important new law tomorrow that no one in the public has even read before. There will be no chance for meaningful hearings, no time for thoughtful public input, no time to hear from constitutional experts or from the scores of cities across America with similar ordinances.

If the public is allowed to speak at all, you can rest assured that it will be the usual offensive drill in which a parade of six or eight people will be given a minute of two each to address a packed committee room. It will, in short, be modern North Carolina General Assembly sausage making at its worst — a hastily convened kangaroo session that will be little better than the gussied-up mob rule one might have expected in some 19th Century frontier territory.

Caring and thinking North Carolinians should be outraged and sickened that such a farce will be carried on in their name and with their tax dollars.

Be sure to check out this afternoon’s edition of the Fitzsimon File for an up-to-the-minute takedown of tomorrow’s hate-fest.