Commentary

Why Gov. McCrory’s teacher pay proposal is scarcely causing a ripple

Pat McCrory press eventWith the ongoing crisis over North Carolina’s embarrassing duel with Mississippi to enact the nation’s most regressive anti-LGBT discrimination law still dominating the news and political discussion in the state, Gov. Pat McCrory tried to change the subject yesterday by proposing a significant pay raise for the state’s long-abused public school teachers. Unfortunately, for the Guv, it didn’t work — but probably not for the reason that you might suspect.

The obvious explanation for the chirping crickets reaction to the pay plan is the size and depth of the discrimination law problem. And it’s true, with one of the nation’s fast growing web giants, PayPal, announcing cancellation of a 400 person expansion in Charlotte in response to the new law at almost the very same moment as the Governor’s pay announcement, there was clearly less news media oxygen to go around.

But ultimately, here’s the main reason the teacher proposal has produced unanimous yawns: No one — friend or foe — takes Gov. McCrory seriously. Not only are his plans half-baked, they come with no real prospect for actual passage into law. This is from a statement issued by the N.C. Association of Educators:

“Once again there is no long-range plan to elevate public school educators to the head of the class, only election year proposals that do little to make up for years of disrespecting the education profession and dismantling our public schools. It also leaves education support professionals with nothing. There is a reason educator turnover rates are at historic levels. The governor has a track record of signing whatever the Legislature sends him, even if it’s a budget that ends up making North Carolina the second worst for teachers in America.”

The NCAE is right. As a practical matter, McCrory’s education proposals to the General Assembly have about as much impact as those of Democratic State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson. Legislative leaders — especially Senate President Phil Berger — are utterly and openly contemptuous of the Governor and have made clear that McCrory’s proposals on virtually every subject will be ignored as the Guv has never demonstrated an iota of capacity to exert power — much less stand up to the legislature.

The bottom line: Pat McCrory may get re-elected this fall and serve eight years in office, but until he finds some way to fill the shoes that come with the office, he is, has been and always will be a lame duck when it comes to the vast majority of important policy debates in state government.

Commentary

McCrory zigzagging from moment to moment as pressure builds to repeal discrimination law

Pat McCrory 4When it comes to his performance in enacting and defending North Carolina’s new all-purpose discrimination law, being accused of hypocrisy by Gov. Pat McCrory (the nonsensical charge he keeps lobbing at the opponents of the new law) is a little like being accused by Donald Trump of having a bad comb-over.

The Governor, who leaps wildly from the role of put upon victim to defiant bully several times per day, set a new standard for incoherent inconsistency yesterday. Just a day after defiantly defending the bill in Goldsboro and hours after saying he would be open to making minor, undisclosed changes to the law, the Governor deigned — eight days after he signed it into law under cover of darkness — to meet with three critics of the law (a local transgender woman named Candis Cox, Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro and Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign).

Okay, though absurdly late, that sounded promising. But then look at what the Guv’s spokesperson said in his official post-meeting statement:

“There’s no doubt there is a well-coordinated, national campaign to smear our state’s reputation after we passed a common-sense law to ensure no government can take away our basic expectations of privacy in bathrooms, locker rooms and showers,” said Josh Ellis, Communications Director for Governor McCrory. “Governor McCrory appreciated the opportunity to sit down and deal with these complex issues through conversation and dialogue as opposed to political threats and economic retaliation.”

Say what? “Smear the state’s reputation”? By who, Governor? Retired Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl? Apple Computer CEO Tim Cook? The National Basketball Association? Why would scores of giant corporations want to “smear” North Carolina? What in God’s  name are you talking about?

But then, look — just two sentences later, McCrory is all sweetness and light, talking about how much he loved sitting down with opponents to discuss the matter!

Does anyone even marginally sober this morning think that such a meeting would have ever occurred had the last week not been filled with loud protests from every corner of the country? The fact is that advocates were asking for the Guv to meet with transgender people long before he even signed the new law, but got absolutely nowhere. Had he not felt that he had to hold the meeting yesterday to try and buy some time, McCrory would have quickly slipped back into his preferred role as the state’s under-the radar, ribbon cutter-in-chief so fast it would have made your head spin.

The bottom line: Nine days into the biggest political and policy crisis to hit North Carolina in years, there is no relief in sight. The driving forces behind the new law are unrepentant. The demands from around the country to repeal the law are mounting. And the Governor is zigzagging madly in desperate hopes of finding some way of making the problem go away. Unfortunately for him, as he continues to discover on a daily basis, that just isn’t going to happen unless he somehow summons a measure courage and skill we’ve not seen from him before to face down his right-wing base and force a repeal of the law.

Commentary

McCrory shuts off reporters again, dismisses discussion of “ridiculous restroom and locker room policies”

Gov. Pat McCrory skipped the 74th annual meeting of the NC Chamber in Greensboro today for another vitally important act of governance — unveiling a future U.S. Interstate 70 sign today during a ceremony in Goldsboro.

Nonetheless, some local reporters caught up with the Guv and tried to ask him about his approval of the state’s new LGBT discrimination law. According to reporter Wes Wolfe of the Kinston Free Press, McCrory cut off the interview after two questions on the subject.

Click here for the video. Here is a transcript of his answer to the first HB 2 question, which asked about his indication in a statement last night that he would be open to amending the new law:

“I think my statement speaks for itself. If there are ways we can improve it, that’s great but I think, frankly, the people of North Carolina want to talk about roads and the economic development and jobs and that’s where I’m gonna’ focus my attention on — not ridiculous..uh.. restroom and locker room policies that some people are trying to force onto the private sector.”

To which, all a sane person can say in reply is: “Ridiculous restroom and locker room policies, indeed. And ridiculous employment discrimination and living wage policies too!”

If only the Governor had thought and said something like that last week when he was confronted with the bill in the first place. It would have been a perfect rationale to follow the leads of other conservative political and business leaders around the country and veto this disaster.

Commentary

As pressure mounts, McCrory flails wildly

Pat McCrory 4There’s an old adage from the world of law that goes like this: If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. If the law is on your side, pound on the law. And if neither the facts nor the law is on your side, pound on the table.

Pat McCrory has quickly resorted to pounding on the table in his attempt to defend the new state discrimination law he signed under cover of darkness last week.

As summarized in the post immediately below by Clayton Henkel, the Guv is lashing out at critics and, in the tried and true tactic of troubled and embattled politicians everywhere, blaming the news media for his problems.

Unfortunately for the Governor, this tactic isn’t going to work. Having been prodded and dragged into this giant mess by ideologues in his own party, McCrory is now quickly emerging as the fall guy on the national scene for the disastrous special session and the state’s latest bottom-of-the-barrel assault on common sense and decency. Indeed, if ever McCrory harbored any notions of further advancement in national politics (admittedly, it was always a long shot anyway), those hopes have pretty clearly been dashed once and for all by the latest fiasco and his utter inability to manage the matter (or even to coherently and credibly explain his position). Other cities and states are already implementing bans on travel to North Carolina.

The best path going forward? Cut your losses Governor. Convene a panel of review, meet with business leaders and call for lawmakers to repeal the new law and disavow the whole thing. You can just say that you and they got carried away with good intentions and confess that you screwed up. It’s going to happen sooner or later anyway. Why not get ahead of things for a change and on the right side of history?

As the Winston-Salem Journal noted this morning in an editorial calling for such action, it will also be in your own political best interests:

“This isn’t the first time the legislature has wasted taxpayer money on a bill that constrains local government. No doubt some legislators hope to campaign on the hot-button issue. Their opponents will do the same, pointing to their wasteful and discriminatory attitudes.

This law may feel good to the GOP leadership now in the warmth of spring. But November will be here before they know it, and it could be a cold one.

The GOP leaders should rescind House Bill 2, if for no other reasons than it will cost them votes and the state money.”

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.