Editorials decry Speaker Tim Moore’s purge of fellow GOP lawmaker

Speaker Tim Moore

Rep. Julia Howard

In case you missed it, the editorial pages of multiple major news outlets across the state are decrying North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore’s recent remarkable decision to strip his fellow Republican lawmaker — Rep. Julia Howard — of her position as co-chair of the powerful House Finance Committee.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Moore took the extremely unusual action in response to Howard’s opposition to a controversial proposal that would bestow tax breaks on people who received federal Paycheck Protection Program loans in response to the COVID-19 recession. Among other things, Howard has expressed concern that several lawmakers stand to benefit directly from the bill. The battle was mostly fought out in secret in the House Republican caucus, but later came at least partially to light in public.

A Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com entitled “Legislator’s demotion highlights backroom deal, potential conflicts of interest” makes it clear the whole thing stinks:

Here’s the rub. The House Republican Caucus has NO official standing (same goes for the Democrats’ caucus). It does not meet in public. There are no publicly available recorded votes. Nothing done or said in those secret sessions is open to the scrutiny of the people legislators represent, the voters who put them into office or the news reporters who can shine light onto what they say and do.

Now Howard’s constituents have had their representative knocked down and on the outs with the leadership. All executed in back room deals.

Howard was right for raising her concerns. Her only fault is that she didn’t do it more prominently, in detail, in an open and public forum and on the record.

Service in the General Assembly – or any other elective office – is a public trust. It is not a secret society where deals that benefit those public servants are cut outside of the public view. More and more the closed party caucuses are the forums where the REAL debates over policy and legislation occur. Public sessions are choreographed displays that too often disguise the true intent and issues at hand.

Before this bill leaves the General Assembly EVERY legislator should disclose, in detail, if they or their businesses have PPP loans, how much and, ANY benefit they might gain if it becomes law. Legislation should be debated in the appropriate forums of open committee meetings and public chamber sessions.

The Winston-Salem Journal and Greensboro News & Record put it this was in an editorial entitled “Speaker Moore should not cancel Rep. Howard”:

State legislators don’t give up their day jobs when they serve. Dozens of them run their own businesses. It’s likely that they were perfectly justified in participating in the same assistance that others were offered, and in passing a relief bill in which they would be among the beneficiaries. That was the conclusion of an ethics committee investigation.

But Howard was standing on principle, and an important one: It doesn’t look good for our legislators to be dealing financial advantages to themselves. And not only does it not look good, but it’s a practice that could open the door to casual corruption. Read more

Andrew Brown was just one the many people of color shot by U.S. police in the past two months

Multiple news agencies are reporting today that radio traffic from Wednesday’s Elizabeth City police shooting of Andrew Brown, Jr. indicates Brown was killed after being shot in the back. This is from WRAL.com:

Radio traffic from Broadcastify.com indicates that Andrew Brown Jr. was shot in the back Wednesday as deputies tried to serve him drug-related search and arrest warrants.

Brown, a 42-year-old Black man from Elizabeth City, had several children and died in the shooting.

In the recorded radio traffic, officers can be heard saying, “We have shots fired. 421 Perry Street. EMS and Fire en route … Law enforcement on scene advising shots fired and need EMS. We’ve got one male 42 years of age … gun shot to the back … we do have a viable pulse at this time.”

Tragically, of course, Brown is just the latest in a long line of adults and children of color that have been fatally shot by U.S. law enforcement officers.

On Wednesday, the ACLU of North Carolina released the following statement that listed 28 of those people :

According to multiple news reports, Andrew Brown was shot and killed by police in Elizabeth City, N.C., as he drove away. The police killing occurred less than 24 hours after Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd.

Yesterday, sixteen-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio. Ms. Bryant was a Black child.

Anthony J. Thompson Jr., 17, was shot and killed by police at his school in Knoxville, Tenn., on April 12, 2021. Mr. Thompson was a Black child.

Daunte Wright, 20, was shot and killed by police in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on April 11, 2021. Mr. Wright was a Black man.

James Alexander, 24, was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop in Logan, Pa., on April 7, 2021. Mr. Alexander was a Black man.

Larry Jenkins, 52, was shot and killed by police in Winter Haven, Fla., on April 17, 2021. Mr. Jenkins was a Black man.

Donovon Lynch, 25, of Virginia Beach, Va., was shot and killed by police on March 26, 2021. Mr. Lynch was a Black man.

Ivan Cuevas, 27, was shot and killed by police in Visalia, Calif., on March 31, 2021. Mr. Cuevas was a Hispanic man.

Michael Leon Hughes, 32, was shot and killed by police in Jacksonville, Fla, on March 30, 2021. Mr. Hughes was a Black man.

Adam Toledo, 13, was shot and killed by police in Chicago, Ill., on March 29, 2021. Adam Toledo was a Hispanic child.

Matthew Blaylock, 38, was shot and killed by police in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 29, 2021. Mr. Blaylock was a Black man.

Krys Ruiz, 26, was shot and killed by police in Lompoc, Calif., on March 28, 2021. Mr. Ruiz was a Hispanic man.

Eduardo Parra, 24, was shot and killed by police in Sylvania Township, Ohio, on March 21, 2021. Mr. Parra was a Hispanic man.

Daryl Jordan, 50, was shot and killed by police in Miami, Fla., on March 18, 2021. Mr. Jordan was a Black man.

David Suarez, 44, was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop in Devils Lake, N.D., on March 17, 2021. Mr. Suarez was a Native American man.

Angel Degollado, 21, was shot and killed by police in Laredo, Texas, on March 14, 2021. Mr. Degollado was a Hispanic man.

David Ordaz, 34, was shot and killed by police in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 14, 2021. Mr. Ordaz was a Hispanic man.

Ryan White Mountain-Soft, 30, was shot and killed by police in McLaughlin, S.D., on March 14, 2021. Mr. Mountain-Soft was a Native American man.

Christopher Ruffin, 28, was shot and killed by police in Palm Bay, Fla., on March 14, 2021. Mr. Ruffin was a Black man.

Nika Holbert, 31, was shot and killed by police in Memphis, Tenn., on March 12, 2021. Ms. Holbert was a Black woman.

Tyrell Wilson, 32, was shot and killed by police in Danville, Calif., on March 11, 2021. Mr. Wilson was a Black man.

Tyshon Jones, 29, was shot and killed by police in Rochester, N.Y., on March 10, 2021. Mr. Jones was a Black man.

Howayne Gayle, 35, was shot and killed by police in Lakeland, Fla., on March 7, 2021. Mr. Gayle was a Black man.

Andrew Teague, 43, was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio, on March 5, 2021. Mr. Teague was a Black man.

Dwight Brown, 41, was shot and killed by police in Abbeville, La., on March 3, 2021. Mr. Brown was a Black man.

Rudy Duvivier, 32, was shot and killed by police in Clay County, Fla., on February 27, 2021. Mr. Duvivier was a Black man.

Juan Hernandez, 33, was shot and killed by police in New Wilmington, Pa., on February 25. Mr. Hernandez was a Hispanic man.

Donald Hairston, 44, was shot and killed by police in Culpepper, Va., on February 25, 2021. Mr. Hairston was a Black man.

The Washington Post reports that at least 984 people have been shot and killed by police in the United States in the past year, averaging 2.7 people per day. Many of the people killed by police are white. However, The Washington Post’s data analysis notes that Black Americans account for “less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans.”

Today’s best op-ed is on the sports page

One of the best things about Raleigh’s News & Observer is sports columnist Luke DeCock. The veteran journalist has the rare ability to write insightful essays about NHL game strategy or college basketball recruiting one day and important matters of public policy the next.

Today, he’s opted to take on the latter with an on-the-mark assessment of the cynical and misguided push by Republican state legislators to attack transgender athletes.

As DeCock accurately points out, North Carolina is on the verge of reliving the HB 2 debacle all over again:

So we’ve learned nothing.

That’s the only way to look at House Bill 358, the latest attempt by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature to codify legal discrimination against transgender people, five years after they did the same thing with House Bill 2, to this state’s eternal indignity and shame.

It’s HB2 II.

DeCock then goes on to explain in detail why efforts to ban transgender girls from participating in sports make no sense. He notes that while it may be confusing to a lot of people who haven’t thought about the matter — a fact that makes the whole issue that much more susceptible to fearmongering — the simple truth is that trans girls haven’t been and won’t be a threat:

Many transgender girls have already taken puberty-blocking drugs that limit their testosterone levels anyway, negating the supposed advantage they would have. And what about cisgender girls with naturally high testosterone levels; should they be prohibited from competition as well?

Not only do transgender girls make up a tiny fraction of the adolescent population, California’s high school association has let transgender girls compete against other girls since 2014 without a ripple. A lone lawsuit in Connecticut filed by cisgender female runners who lost to a transgender competitor has gotten a ton of attention, but the Associated Press found almost no instances of a problem in any of the states considering similar bans.

The bottom line, he explains, is that the new anti-trans push will — if it becomes law — put North Carolina back on the backwater-international pariah list once again and do great damage to sports in our state for everyone — athletes and fans.

Click here to read the entire essay.

NAACP leader calls for justice, rapid release of information in Elizabeth City ‘officer-involved’ shooting (Video)

Multiple news outlets are reporting that a Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a Black 40-year-old father of 10 named Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City today. Few details of the incident are available at this point, though Portsmouth, Virginia-based WAVY-TV reported that the shooting happened around 8:30 a.m. while deputies served a search warrant. The station also reported that witnesses said Brown was shot in his car and that six to eight shots were fired.

In the aftermath of the event, WAVY also recorded the interview posted below with local NAACP leader Keith Rivers who issued a plea for justice and the swift release of any information — including body camera footage — that the sheriff’s office may have.

UPDATE: WAVY reporter Jason Marks has also reported that there is body cam video of the shooting and that he had observed that the rear window of Brown’s car has been shot out.

The station also reported that:

There will also be an emergency Elizabeth City council meeting tonight at 6. WAVY spoke with District Attorney Andrew Womble, who says he is calling for a thorough investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation.

The best op-ed of the weekend

If you missed it, be sure to check out the featured Sunday op-ed in Raleigh’s News & Observer by Melissa Price Kromm of North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections. In it, she explains why our state desperately needs the General Assembly to pass a recently introduced omnibus reform bill that has been aptly dubbed the “Fix Our Democracy Act.”

Not only would the proposal fix our state’s broken redistricting system and end partisan gerrymandering, it would expand and protect the right to vote and reduce the influence of big money in elections.

This is from the essay:

The Fix Our Democracy Act would put an end to this cycle, making it safe and accessible for North Carolinians to register to vote while protecting registered voters from getting purged right before an election. The bill would also create small-donor financing programs for all our statewide courts, insulating them from special interest influence. These same special interests would be required under the bill to disclose their identities and campaign spending in all political contests. After all, if you’re going to be spending serious money in our elections, you better be ready to face North Carolina voters.

And cleaning up our political system doesn’t stop there. Every 10 years, new legislative districts need to be drawn in North Carolina, and every 10 years North Carolinians are forced to go through the same political circus. In the coming months, our lawmakers will continue this sorry ritual, fighting tooth and nail to draw up district maps to their advantage, using taxpayer dollars to cover massive legal fees the moment their maps are challenged in court. It’s expensive and it’s unnecessary.

The Fix Our Democracy Act would put an end to this partisan free-for-all, putting redistricting power in the hands of a citizen commission staffed by regular North Carolinians. That’s important, because, without fair maps, there’s no way voters can expect to get a fair shake on Election Day. In the end, a fair shake is all North Carolinians are asking for.

The bill is not utterly comprehensive — there would be more to do even if it is enacted “as is” — but it’s a great start and precisely the kind of legislation state lawmakers should be championing in 2021.
Click here to explore the legislation.