Reeves has been blistering his runoff opponent, Bill Randall, over the Randall campaign's obvious plagiarism (if this is news to you, see our blog post yesterday). Now the two candidates who also-ran in the first primary, Dan Huffman and Frank Hurley, have endorsed Reeves.
“I am grateful to both Dan Huffman and Frank Hurley,” Reeves said. “Dan and Frank both ran fine campaigns, spoke out forcefully on the issues and conducted themselves as gentlemen. Republicans can be proud of their campaigns. I thank them for their support. They have helped us take a step closer to winning the runoff and accomplishing our ultimate goal — to bring Brad Miller home.”
"Yes, there's a pattern developing here. As in the other two congressional districts in the Triangle, the Republican candidates in District 13 (incumbent: Democrat Brad Miller) are tightly bunched as to which is the most right-wing right-winger. Truthfully, it's very hard to tell. Which is why we're recommending—and it's hard to believe we're doing it—a vote for our own homegrown right-winger, Raleigh publisher Bernie Reeves."
Reeves' press release, with Huffman's statement and Hurley's, is below the fold.
From Randall's Facebook page:
Friends and Supporters: It's sad when others impugn your character and motives PUBLICLY ...prior to giving you a chance to address the issue/concern. I need your financial support now if you want me to represent the people in D.C.
So goes the runoff campaign in the Republican primary for Congress in the 13th District, NC. Awaiting the winner: Democratic Rep. Brad Miller, who must be chortling at Randall's plight.
Question: Is it plagiarism when you recite someone's else's right-wing dogma virtually word for word? Sometimes adding "Simply put" in front of the lifted phrases?
Simply put, Randall's positions were lifted almost verbatim from Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's campaign platform, from a Republican National Committee website, and from a 1960 statement of principles written by M. Stanton Evans, whom you may recall — as I do — from the Barry Goldwater campaign.
And Reeves' campaign caught him at it, which Randall takes to be "impugning" him.
If Bill Randall has thought about these issues and understands them, why didn’t he write about them himself? Or, to put it another way, is Bill’s understanding of crucial issues — like jobs and the economy — so weak he has to plagiarize what others have written?”
Reeves, by contrast, is no copycat conservative. He's an original, if there is such a thing in politics, with the wit to expound his own right-wing dogma, thank you very much. ("I'm conservative, but I'm not far, far right," he told me.)
Your guide to the combat:
For Bernie Reeves' charges, read his blog
For Bill Randall's response, read his website.
(Update/Meant to put this up earlier: Carter Wrenn, ex-Jesse Helms hand who's helping Reeves, started this three days ago with a post on his "Talking Politics" blog.)
Don't forget: Early voting in the June 22 primary runoffs — including this exciting one — starts next Thursday.
1) Ron Margiotta, the board chairman and leader of the board's five-member majority, wants the committee to look at making some of the existing magnet schools year-round as a way of boosting their capacity and approving more of the applications to get in them. Keith Sutton, one of the four minority-bloc members, says that will be problematic for the low-income families that comprise the "base" population for the magnet schools. For one thing, they have trouble paying for "track out" programs for the weeks when a year-round school's not in session. (Summer programs are more readily available, not to mention free.) That's one reason why, historically, year-round schools have attracted a relatively upscale student body with few low-income kids applying to be in them.
And remember, the new board majority threw out any "mandatory" (assigned) year-round schools.
2) Tedesco wants new schools built in Southeast Raleigh, where the highest concentrations of low-income folks are (along with numerous magnet schools), so there's enough capacity to accept more magnet applicants while also keeping the neighborhood kids in schools close to home.
3) Tedesco said he's asked staff to work up a standard for "urban schools" that use much less land than the standard suburban-school campus model. He has in mind, he says, more schools like the Moore Square Magnet Middle School in downtown Raleigh, which sits on four acres at what is roughly the geographic center of the county.
(I will say, parenthetically, that more schools built in the middle of the county, and fewer added on the rim, would have the effect — I think — of drawing student populations back together, instead of pulling them apart, and make it easier to retain diverse populations in every school. On the other hand, the old school board was under big pressure to built schools where the population growth is greatest — that is, in Apex, West Cary, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, and Wake Forest. Not in the middle, in other words. Will this school board majority, elected from districts dominated by, yes, Apex, West Cary, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, and Wake Forest, plus North Raleigh, really choose to build in the middle when the old one didn't?)
4) Tedesco once again pledged, in response to questions from board member Carolyn Morrison, who is vice chair of the committee, that any new system for assignments will be based on "community values," including diversity. He pointed to the new board majority's "Resolution Expressing Board Commitment to Efforts of Voluntary Desegregation," adopted in April in connection with an application for federal magnet school funding, and said it would be respected.
The board majority, of course, took final action last week to drop diversity from Policy 6200, which governs student assignments. The resolution about "Voluntary Desegregation," however, commits the board to keep on "providing diverse settings for education," and it includes this statement:
The Community-Based assignment model will also include an evaluation component to provide regular review of each zone attendance area in an effort to reduce and/or prevent minority group isolation.
"In an effort"? How much of an effort?
5) Two long-standing goals for the Wake school system are: Every school at 95 percent capacity, no more or less; no more than 8 percent of students in "temporary seats," aka classroom trailers. The reality: The number of students in trailers is approximately 16 percent, or twice what should be happening. Staff said 20 percent of HS seats, 13 percent of middle-school seats and 17 percent of elementary school seats are in trailers. Translating that to numbers of students, it comes to a total of about 23,500 students in trailers at any given time.
In short, the county's roaring population growth, combined with a failure to build enough new schools to keep up with the growth — forget where the new ones went or should've gone — was and is at the heart of the system's student assignment and reassignment wars.
The old school board had an assignment committee, too, and Anne Sherron and David Williams were both members, just as they are members of the new committee. The old committee recommended assignment decisions, in concert with system staffers, that attempted to minimize travel distances and maintain diversity in every school. But Sherron says, and Williams agrees, that almost all of its decisions over the past decade were driven by growth: Which new schools needed to be filled up, and which existing schools had available capacity. After growth, the old board's decisions emphasized stability — same as the new board is promising to do. Once students start in a school, that is, keep them in it if possible.
Growth has slowed, and that will perhaps help the new board majority to make assignments with less controversy — fewer reassignments will be needed to cope with growth. But the flip side is, the existing schools will be even more over-crowded, especially the more popular "upscale" schools in the better zones and regions.
The basic difference in approach on school assignments, it seems, will be this:
* The old board made assignments based mainly on proximity (closest school), with parents also given a chance to apply for year-round or magnet assignments outside of their neighborhoods. But the old board also paid attention to diversity, and avoided having schools with high concentrations of kids from low-income families, which meant that parents didn't always get what they wanted. On top of which, a booming population from 2000 to 2008, combined with the shortage of classroom seats, forced the old board to make a lot of assignment decisions that, as Sherron says, "we would not otherwise have done."
* The new board will make assignments based on proximity, with choices for year-rounds and magnets, and it won't forget about that "evaluation component to provide regular review of each zone attendance area in an effort to reduce and/or prevent minority group isolation." But it intends to give parents what they want ("parental choice") to the maximum extent possible. And with growth slowed and money in hand from the $970 million 2006 bond issue to add new capacity, it will have more breathing room than the old board did, at least for awhile.
But whether the new board majority will pay any attention to its "evaluation component" on diversity, and be serious about the need "to reduce and/or prevent" the resegregation of Wake schools by income, remains to be seen. Tedesco says it will, and that creating more space in the magnet schools by making them year-round will be a step in that direction — Sutton's objections notwithstanding. Morrison, a diversity defender, says she'll keep bringing the subject of diversity up, and keep pressing Tedesco to follow through.
Long story short, we won't know much until the committee draws some lines on a map and lays out a plan for the new regions and zones. Six months in office, the new majority still has no such lines.
Next meeting: June 8.
Following up on our story in the Indy last week, Harriet's House in Raleigh and Our Children's Place in Chapel Hill, programs to help women make a successful transition out of prison, were scheduled to get the ax in Gov. Bev Perdue's budget plan. (Online, we ran a sidebar interview with Onia Royster, who is a case study of how Harriet's House helps.)
Specifically, Harriet's House, after a 25 percent cut in state funding a year ago down to about $207,000 a year, was due for zero in 2010-11 under Perdue's plan. Ditto for Our Children's Place, which after its 25 percent cut of a year ago was down to $109,000 a year and ticketed for zero by Perdue.
The budget passed by the Senate this week spares both programs, though each would be cut again — by 5 percent this time. Once again, however, a $3.9 million capital grant to Our Children's Place for a new residential facility, funding that was all but awarded until the recession hit two years ago, was withheld. The House is next up to consider the budget. These programs aren't out of the woods yet, albeit their prospects are much improved.
No question the state is short of money. No question, either, that these programs, if they cut prison recidivism — and in the case of Harriet's House, there's a proven track record of cutting recidivism rates; Our Children's Place needs that capital grant to get its program off the ground — will save the state big money in future years.
Unfortunately, future year's savings don't help current budgets unless the General Assembly is willing to borrow (bond) against them.
It felt like we were in a tomb Tuesday night when the Wake school board meeting finally ended — or better (and I'd imagine the board majority felt this way too), as this allegedly "open meeting" finally ground to a close. Board Chairman Ron Margiotta was reading disinterestedly from the list of folks who'd signed up hours earlier to speak during the public comment period. But almost all of them were long gone. It was after 8 pm; some 40 people had signed up starting at 2 pm for a comment period that began at 4 pm ... but the public comment, such as it was (you get 2 minutes flat, then you're gonged), was cut off mid-way through the list so the board could go into private session for 45 minutes ... then back into public session to dispense with diversity once and (they hope) for all ... then into private session again without any indication how long it would last ... and after an hour or so the board returned for another very brief public session, after which the public comment period resumed ... but could the board majority have been less interested?
And this, ironically, just a few days after a judge ruled that, whatever interest or disinterest the board majority has in hearing from the public, the fact that it continues to meet in an open room that some people can get into is enough to satisfy the requirements of the state's Open Meetings Law.
Ironically? Wrong word. Cynically.
Thus, Tedesco cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which declared "separate but equal" schools to be inherently unequal and unconstitutional, as justification for giving poor kids in low-income Southeast Raleigh neighborhoods and rich kids in Prestonwood or Brier Creer the same "equal right" to go to a neighborhood school. There must be no more "forced busing" of poor kids out to the rich kids' schools, Tedesco declared.
A woman got up later and denounced Tedesco's remarks as "Orwellian," as in George Orwell's novel "1984" — and indeed, if you can (mis)read the Brown case as justifying separate and unequal neighborhood schools, then you probably have fallen down Orwell's memory hole.
So what we’ve done in this county at some time now, is told many of our children and many of our families even if they live near a school, because their mom and dad doesn’t have enough money in their pocket, they’re not welcome to go to school with their friends and their neighbors. And I just don’t find that fair. I find that inherently unfair. That if a section of children should exceed that fifty per cent or fifty-one per cent or fifty-two percent, that we have to tell that two per cent ‘you got to get on a forced bus ride out of town cause you’re not welcome in your neighborhood.’”
You can also see and hear it on the WRAL website. Tedesco starts in at about 31:45. But if you have time, the entire segment — which is the debate leading to the final vote to eliminate diversity from Policy 6200, the student assignment policy — is worth seeing and pondering.
I'll have more to say about where the school board is these days soon.
Marshall and Cunningham are scheduled for two debates. Cal could gain some ground there, maybe. But otherwise, Lewis's decision is the big news of the runoff campaign, and it's an Elaine home run.
Here's the statement from the Marshall campaign.
LEWIS ENDORSES MARSHALL
On the steps of the state capitol, former U. S. Senate candidate Ken Lewis threw his full support behind Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in the runoff election to determine the Democratic nominee for U. S. Senate. Lewis was the third place finisher in the May primary and his endorsement gives Marshall the momentum going toward the June 22 runoff.
“I am impressed by the conviction and courage Secretary of State Marshall has shown in this race,” said Lewis. “Secretary Marshall has shown the kind of courage, strength and independence needed to create change in Washington and fight for the people of North Carolina.”
Lewis, an attorney from Chapel Hill, is seen as a rising star in North Carolina politics. His outsider campaign surprised political pundits when he carried 17% of the vote in a six way primary. He won Durham and three eastern counties. He also placed second to Marshall in Charlotte and counties throughout the northeast part of the state. His endorsement will give Marshall a strong advantage in those areas.
“I am humbled and honored to receive Ken’s support and endorsement,” said Marshall. “He brought real excitement into this race and always focused on the issues important to North Carolina. The combination of our organizations will build a powerful movement that leads us to victory in November.”
The Wake County school board meets Tuesday at 3 pm, when it's expected to take final action on the removal of diversity as an important criterion — or even an unimportant one — in school assignment policies. The NAACP, among other groups, is warning that the inevitable outcome of this is re-segregation of the public schools in Wake. On the eve of this action, and on the 56th anniversary of the decision in Brown v. Board of Education that struck down "separate but equal" schools as inherently unequal, the state NAACP is calling folks together in Raleigh:
On the 56th Anniversary of Brown v Board of Education — this Monday, May 17 — state leaders will host a mass meeting at the Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 East Martin Street in Raleigh, NC beginning at 7 p.m. The NC NAACP will hold this public mass meeting along with civil rights, social justice and legal advocates.
The public will receive the historical, legal, political, educational, economic and moral rationale for fighting against efforts to resegregate our schools in ways that foster racially identifiable high-poverty schools including what our strategy should be going forward.
Specifically, Pittman thought that excluding the public from the Committee of the Whole meeting on March 23 was unreasonable under the Open Meetings Law as was the original ticketing scheme, instituted March 23 but changed since then, which forced people to show up in the morning for a limited supply of tickets to the regular 3 p.m. public session — and once they had a ticket in hand, stay in the building until the meeting started or lose the ticket. But again, he ruled that there was not enough evidence before him that the board majority intended to continue violating the Open Meetings Law.
I'm reading Pittman's order: He's determined that, overall, "the board makes reasonable efforts to conduct its business in the open and in view of the public." He decided it's reasonable, when big crowds come, to provide an overflow room where a video feed is shown of the meeting. Part of the plaintiff's case today was that the video feed comes and goes and, even when it works, is a poor substitute for being in the room — you can't always see who's talking, and you can't see the reaction of others to what's being said. The public, Swain Wood argued, has a right to "look the board in the eye" as it conducts public business.
Pittman's decision is here. Basically, he decided that as long as a public body meets in a place where some people can see them, and the media can see them, that's all that the Open Meetings Law requires. The plaintiffs wanted him to say that people have a right to attend a public meeting, and if — in this case — the school board knows that more people want to be there than can fit in the usual meeting room, they should be required to find a bigger room. Appeals?
Update while we wait for Pittman's decision: The N&O has helpfully posted an affadavit in the case from Christine Kushner, who lays out an argument in fine-grained detail that the school board majority intends to implement its ideas with as little time spent on public process as possible. That's my point, too, below the fold.)
Interesting argument in Superior Court Judge Bill Pittman's courtroom this morning. From the plaintiffs, a group of Wake parents and students, comes the complaint that the new school board majority is seeking to inconvenience public attendance at its meetings as a tactic to "curtail" the opposition to its policies. The plaintiff's lead counsel, Swain Wood, argued that the majority's view of the public was captured by School Board Chairman Ron Margiotta's infamous remark, "Here come the animals out of the cages." The majority's refusal to find a bigger meeting room, one big enough to hold the crowds that want to attend, constitutes a violation of the Open Meetings Law, which gives every citizen the right to attend meetings of any public body, Wood maintained.
From the board majority's lawyers, the response was: The meetings are open to whoever can get in; we're under no obligation to meet in a room big enough to let everyone in who wants to come.
So who's right? If the school board meets in the functional equivalent of a "broom closet" (Wood's term), as it does when it convenes for Committee of the Whole sessions, and holds its regular meetings in a room with 153 seats as a way of discouraging hundreds more people who might show up if it met in an auditorium, does that violate the Open Meetings Law?
That's the question before Pittman today.
The plaintiffs want Pittman to invalidate the March 23 meeting, which people could attend only if they came to the school board offices hours before and obtained a ticket. A lot of folks ended up in the hallway or outside the building. The plaintiffs also want the judge to issue an injunction barring — at least temporarily, until the case is finally decided — the board from continuing to meet in rooms too small for public attendance and observation.
Pittman heard arguments for two hours, and promised a decision on the request for an injunction by the end of the day.
I'll write in a bit more detail about the arguments shortly, below the fold.
(And so I did, below the fold —- )
Cap it off with a 3.7 mile tour (above) that goes right through my neighborhood.
The event at Marbles Kids Museum will offer free bike check-ups by REI, a bicycle rodeo for kids and a bike safety clinic for adult cyclists. Free beverages provided by Coca-Cola and food provided by Roly Poly!
* 3 - 6pm: Cycling & Environmental Expo
Free children’s helmets with fittings (First come, first served). Bike on bus demonstrations. Includes the following events:
* 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30pm: Kids Bike Safety Rodeo
* 4 - 5pm: Community Leaders’ Bicycle Transportation Information Exchange with Elected Officials
* 5-6pm: Commuting 101 for Adults and Students.
* 6pm: Downtown Group Ride - 3.7 miles following the route above.