In case you missed it over the weekend, Charlotte Observer editorial page editor had a scathing and excellent essay taking Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger to task for his downright embarrassing hypocrisy on the issue of redistricting reform.
As Batten points out, Berger was sponsored at least five reform bills over a period of eight years that would have done almost exactly what the proposal he is now standing in the way of in 2015 would do:
“Has there ever been a more glaring example of how where you stand depends on where you sit?
Berger, R-Rockingham, sat toward the back when he was in the minority throughout the last decade. Today he sits up front as the Senate President Pro Tem. Surrounded by fellow Republicans everywhere he looks, he has a grip on power like Vladimir Putin – and a similar fondness for true democracy.
Maybe that’s not fair. Maybe the proposals announced last week to take much of the politics out of drawing congressional and legislative districts differ dramatically from the ones Berger co-sponsored. Let’s check.
Oh, no, actually they are nearly identical. In fact, entire passages from the bill filed last week are taken verbatim from bills Berger co-sponsored.”
As Batten also rightfully notes, Democratic leaders like Marc Basnight and Jim Black were at fault in those days for blocking reform — even though other Democrats were pushing for it. But that doesn’t absolve Berger now. At least Basnight and Black never pretended to be for it or led voters to believe they would implement it once in office as Berger clearly did.
As with so many other conservative switcheroos in recent years — on transparency in government, on a commitment to open debate in the General Assembly, on the need for “revenue neutral” tax reform — Berger’s flip flop smacks of raw opportunism and power hunger at their worst.
About all one can say going forward is that at least North Carolinians will have no illusions about where things really stand.