Commentary

Bathroom bill will be far ranging; purports to define gender, bans living wage laws

signageAs had been feared, the outrageous plan to override the Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance in today’s planned kangaroo session of the General Assembly goes much further than just bathrooms.

Under the bill that will apparently be considered today (NC Policy Watch obtained a copy last night – click here to view the draft), not only will lawmakers purport to say who and who can’t go in public restrooms anywhere in North Carolina, the state of North Carolina will also “define” transgender people out of existence (the bill defines ones’ “biological sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s birth certificate”) and bar all local governments from enacting living wage ordinances. It is, in short, a huge and far ranging power grab that that is both stunning in its breadth and scope and outrageous in its disregard for human rights and common decency. It will also, by all appearances, be rammed through in just a matter of hours.

Of course, wild overreaches of this kind have a way of backfiring on their authors. The religious and market fundamentalists behind the bathroom bill may think they will have “settled” the matters included in it, but in truth, all they will have done is help give rise to an even more powerful movement for justice and equality that will sweep this law aside in the near future.

For those interested in joining that cause, advocates at Equality NC and the ACLU of NC will be hosting a rally for equality and justice tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon at 5:45 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, 3313 Wade Ave. 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.

Commentary

Pat McCrory, Tim Moore, Phil Berger, Dan Forest: Not smarter than a sixth grader

As the post below indicates, North Carolina’s elected leaders will take the latest step in their five-year-long crusade to make our state a symbol of discrimination and exclusion (not to mention a national laughingstock) tomorrow when they call a special session to pick on transgender people. It is an act of such transparent ignorance and ill will that even a child can see through it.

Proof of this can be found in today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer in which a sixth grader from Durham deftly puts all of these hypocritical old men in their place. Here is Joanna de Andrade’s essay: “McCrory’s hypocrisy unfair to transgender students.”

“One of my best friends is transgender. At our school, the policy for bathrooms as it is across Durham Public Schools is that students who are transgender use the teacher bathroom. But this is an issue at many schools due to the lack of teacher bathrooms on all floors of the school.

At our school, we have two teacher bathrooms, both on the first floor. We have three floors. In the sixth grade, students have only one time designated to go to the bathroom without needing a pass or missing class and work time. This time is lunch. Our lunch is on the third floor. This means that if my friend needs to use the bathroom, he needs to walk up and down two flights of stairs.

Gov. Pat McCrory has been making hypocritical statements. A couple months ago he stated that local school districts should be able to make the decision if transgender students and workers can use the bathroom of their gender. Then just recently Charlotte made a decision, and McCrory wrote a letter to the attorney general that made it seem that transgender people who need to use the bathroom are criminals and people who are going to put your children at risk of harm.

He used firm statements like “disregard the safety and privacy concerns of parents and students.” Another strong statement was, “This will remove local districts’ flexibility and force the federal government’s views on all of our schools.” Then he stated, “Let’s defend our schools and protect the autonomy of our local school districts.” This letter is showing McCrory’s hypocrisy. Now, many people have a similar opinion to McCrory’s, and this opinion is that it puts cisgender people at risk. They say that some people may pretend to be transgender just to “stalk” people in the bathroom.

My response is that maybe someone might do this, but he or she will be caught, and some people just need to use the bathroom.

I don’t think that it is very fair to force people to go all the way to a bathroom two stories up just because they aren’t biologically a boy or girl. May this bring to light inequalities that face our world and show that, as young as middle school students are, we can make a difference.

Joanna de Andrade, 11, is a sixth-grader at Lakewood Montessori Middle School in Durham.”

Commentary

Don’t miss Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts at next Tuesday’s Crucial Conversation luncheon

NCPW-2016-03-29-clt-ordinance-roberts

N.C. Policy Watch invites you to a special Crucial Conversation luncheon:

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts: Why the General Assembly should not repeal my city’s nondiscrimination ordinance

Click here to register

In this most volatile of election years, there have been a lot of efforts by cynical politicians to manipulate voters with misinformation regarding importa

nt issues. Here in North Carolina, however, it will be difficult to top the efforts by state leaders to misrepresent and disparage the city of Charlotte’s new nondiscrimination ordinance.

As multiple news outlets have reported, their most prominent tactic has been to assert that a provision in the ordinance that allows transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity is somehow a threat to children and will open the door to sexual predators.

As Chris Fitzsimon recently noted:

“It’s nonsense of course. As you have read here before, roughly 250 local governments across the country, including Columbia, South Carolina, have similar rules in place and there haven’t been any problems….But this isn’t about evidence or public safety. It is about politics, rallying the far-right religious base with a divisive social issue.”

According to multiple reports, the General Assembly may even call itself into special session prior to its scheduled April 25 return to overturn the ordinance.

Join us as we discuss this important issue with an elected leader at the center of the battle: Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts.

Mayor Roberts was raised in Charlotte, and now she and her husband, Manley, are also raising their two children there as well. During her professional career, she has worked as a diplomat for the US Department of State, serving in the Dominican Republic as a consular officer and then as a political officer on the Mexico Desk.

During her years in Charlotte, Roberts has been Director of the Mayor’s International Cabinet, a lending officer in International Corporate Banking at First Union, and executive director of the Charlotte World Affairs Council. She has also served on the Mecklenburg County Commission as a member and chairperson. She was elected Mayor in 2015.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from this important leader on this controversial matter.

Click here to register

When: Tuesday, March 29 at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 South Salisbury St, in downtown Raleigh

Parking is plentiful at this venue, but space for the event itself is limited – preregistration is required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

Commentary, News

This week’s top five stories on NC Policy Watch

Merrick Garland1. Obama nominates Merrick Garland as next Supreme Court Justice
President Barack Obama’s choice to fill the open slot on the U.S. Supreme Court is 63-year-old Merrick Garland, currently Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The President made his announcement Wednesday morning from the Rose Garden, setting off a battle with Republicans in the U.S. Senate, most of whom have vowed to block any of Obama’s nominees, arguing that the selection to replace deceased Justice Antonin Scalia should be left to the next president.

Here’s Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Arizona who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee just this morning: [Continue reading…]

Bonus reads:

Burr, Tillis take to social media to dismiss Merrick Garland, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee
The case for considering Supreme Court nominee Garland is overwhelming

Keep calm2. Staying calm and focused in a raucous election year
Keeping perspective, commitment to peaceful change the best path for progressives

In a 1947 speech in the British House of Commons, Winston Churchill famously and correctly observed that “it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried.”

Messy, disorganized and inefficient as it is, democratic government is one of the best things that humans have come up with in the 50,000 years or so since they started living together in civilized societies. Try as we might to come up with new systems or to recycle old ones, the merits of peaceful, participatory elections and governance keep rising to the top — especially when married to a robust set of civil and human rights. [Continue reading…]

School grades3. Panel of educators, activists pan N.C.’s system of grading schools

North Carolina’s controversial method of grading its schools—which includes dishing out “D” or “F” grades to designated “low-performing schools”—failed to find a single defender at a forum of educators, lobbyists and activists Monday night in Raleigh.

The meeting, led by the Public School Forum of N.C., a research and policy group in Raleigh, centered on identification of low-performing schools, a system that hinges heavily on test scores.

Most who spoke Monday said the formula should focus more on student growth in test scores, so as not to unfairly penalize schools with a challenging student body.

Currently, 80 percent of a school’s performance grade is determined by test scores. The remaining 20 percent keys upon students’ academic growth. [Continue reading…]

Erica L. #24. Equality advocates to lawmakers: Please don’t legislate in favor of hate and discrimination

A group of human and civil rights advocates gathered in front of the state Legislative Building this morning to plead with state lawmakers and Governor McCrory not to try and override the nondiscrimination ordinance adopted by the city of Charlotte.

As we have reported previously, conservative legislators are threatening to call a special session of the General Assembly prior to next month’s scheduled return in order to take precisely such action. The explanation for the action: the professed (and illusory) concern that the law’s guarantee of access to public restrooms for transgender people will somehow serve as an invitation for male sexual predators to enter women’s restrooms. [Continue reading…]

Water pollution5. McCrory administration’s reversal on drinking water safety near coal ash sites raises questions, concerns

Residents are right to be skeptical of the state’s sudden claims that their water has been safe all along
North Carolina officials owe residents and local officials in Lee County an apology, and they owe every North Carolinian an explanation.
Over the past month, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services have walked back their own recommendation that families in Lee County not drink or cook using water from wells with carcinogens that exceed their own standards.

The water is now safe, they say, and it always has been.

Last November, private wells within a half-mile of open-pit clay mines in the county were tested to collect baseline data. Duke Energy plans to move more than 7 million tons of coal ash from sites in Lumberton and Goldsboro and dispose of it in the abandoned Lee County clay mines. [Continue reading…]