All I can say is, for a governor Pat McCrory has remarkably thin skin. And a remarkable lack of good grace or — absent grace — any ability to fake it.
Consequently, Gov. McCrory missed his chance today to meet a delightful and very precocious young lady. Madison Kimrey is the 12-year old from Burlington who wondered why the governor signed a voter-suppression bill (my term, not hers) that, among other things, did away with pre-registration for 16- and 17-year olds in high school. She has lots of friends who are teens and look forward to voting, she said.
Miss Kimrey wrote a petition, put it out on the inter-tubes via MoveOn.org, and as of today had collected more than 11,000 signatures. She wanted to deliver them to the governor along with a chocolate pound cake she'd baked for him as a gesture of good will — presumably the same cordial spirit the governor showed when he came out of the mansion a couple of weeks ago to drop some cookies on dumbfounded protesters and then, with four bodyguards to protect him, sprinted away.
The same spirit, indeed, that the staff at the governor's mansion showed later that same day when they brought out some cake to a different set of protesters which included, by the way, Miss Kimrey.
Well, if I'm the governor, and my poll numbers are dropping like a stone, and I've been caught fibbing about how I've met with Moral Monday protesters and, for that matter, fibbing about a lot of things including my voter-suppression bill — and if, thus far, I have blown off any and all criticisms of my policies as left-wing claptrap or a liberal plot or, or just plain beneath my dignity to be subjected to — well, this is my chance.
That's right, I'm going to be gracious and welcome this young lady to my office and hear her out over a piece of her cake — from her grandmother's recipe, I'd be pleased to learn.
I'm going to emerge then from our meeting, pose for some lovely pictures, and say how delighted I am that a young person is taking such an interest in state government ... and I'm going to take the concerns she expressed very seriously.
In fact, having just put my foot in my mouth again recently while playing golf in the pro-am at the Wyndham PGA event in Greensboro — that's when I said that I was so glad to be in a place where I could get "real" feedback on my policies, because where better to hear from real people about how I'm doing than at an exclusive country club — I'm literally grabbing for this opportunity, which is tailor-made for me to start undoing the image I'm building up for myself as a clueless jerk who can't stand it when people don't suck up to him.
That's what I'd do. But I'm not the governor, Pat McCrory is. And what he did, of course, is call Miss Kimrey's request to meet with him ridiculous and chalk it up to, you got it, a left-wing conspiracy.
So McCrory missed out on meeting a 12-year old who is extremely bright, very well-spoken and polite, and in no need of anyone to put her up to anything — Madison Kimrey is the real deal and the only unreal thing about her is that she's 12 and 4'8, but she sounds and acts like a young adult. A serious young adult.
With a serious question that the governor would do well to ask himself: How does it help voter integrity to get rid of a program that helps high-school students get ready to vote when they're 18?
Or, as Colin Powell asked at a CEO forum in Raleigh today after McCrory had high-tailed it out of there, how can there be such widespread voter fraud in North Carolina as McCrory claims and yet it's undetected? Powell, with whom McCrory really doesn't want to share cake, blasted the voter-suppression bill our governor is so proud of, saying it delivers a clear message to minority voters that they're being punished for turning out in big numbers in 2008 and 2012.
McCrory skipped out on Miss Kimrey, but our local TV stations didn't. Check for her on your local news this evening.
State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird of Orange County, a leading progressive voice on a wide range of issues, is leaving the General Assembly after 17 years in the Senate. Her departure comes on the heels, as it were, of decisions by state Reps. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake, and Deborah Ross, D-Wake, to leave as well — Weiss didn't seek re-election in 2012 and Ross, who was re-elected, departed to become general counsel at the Triangle Transit Authority earlier this year.
Kinnaird said she's planning to help an effort to make sure that citizens can still vote in North Carolina — with a photo ID if need be — despite the Republicans' voter-suppression legislation. I've copied the statement she issued below. Here's the reaction from N.C. Democratic Party Chair Randy Voller:
“We commend and honor Sen. Kinnaird’s rich tenure in the North Carolina Senate. Throughout her 17 years of service in the Senate, and previous service as the Mayor of Carrboro, Sen. Kinnaird has been a champion for jobs, education, the environment, women, and building community,” Voller said. “We know Sen. Kinnaird will devote her time and voice to electing Democrats in the 2013 local elections and help fight for Senator Hagan and all Democrats in 2014. Most importantly, it illustrates the character of Sen. Kinnaird to devote her time and energy to ensuring North Carolinians have the resources they need to cast a ballot in our state, this is the mark of a true Tar Heel hero.”
Here's the note Kinnaird sent to supporters early today:
This is my last newsletter to you. After a great deal of thought, I have decided to resign my position in the North Carolina Senate. It has been a great privilege and I have been honored to be chosen to represent the people of this district. Thank you for the opportunity to serve in this way, thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas and for your support over the years.
It has also been a pleasure to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate and our superb, professional legislative staff as well as elected officials and their staff in the towns and counties in the district. I have years of happy memories working to make a difference in the lives of the people of North Carolina. I want to say a special thank you to Kathie Young, my Legislative Assistant, whom many of you know as the warm and welcoming voice to all who call or come to the office. Kathie and I have been friends and political workers together for over 30 years. When I was elected, I asked her to come with me on this journey and it has been a happy shared adventure and partnership for seventeen years.
What led me to this decision are the actions taken by the Republican majority in the legislature that has been a shocking reversal of the many progressive measures that I and many others have worked so hard to enact: measures that over the years had made North Carolina a model of moderate-to-progressive, pro-business but also pro-people public policy in the South. From the Republicans' denial of health care security for our people to their failure to promote a vibrant work force through support for our education systems at all levels and from their tax cuts for the wealthy and their tax increases for the poor and middle class to their efforts to deny people their right to vote, they have been pursuing a divisive and, I think, immoral agenda. The needless pain and suffering the Republicans have brought upon us that I have written about add up to a huge setback for North Carolinians from all walks of life. My own personal sadness is the dismantling of my environmental, social justice and death penalty efforts.
I am heartened, however, by the many grassroots efforts to fight for the rights, the health and safety and the opportunities our people need and deserve from the Moral Monday movement to the many non-governmental organizations that advocate for the people of our state, not the special interests. It is here that I want and need to put my energy and efforts. I am working with others on a grass-roots project to make sure everyone in the state has a proper voter ID so that no votes are denied, even though the Voter ID bill is aimed at exactly that - repressing the vote. I am going to work for candidates in the next election who reflect our values. The values of all those who came to Moral Mondays and who have contacted me by emails, calls and letters expressing your dismay at what has happened to our progressive and forward-looking state. I look forward to working together to change this course and restore our state to the shining beacon it was for so long.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve the people of this district.
My best to each and every one of you.
While Randy Voller was elected chairman of the state Democratic Party in February by a narrow margin — just 11 votes out of some 600 — the newly elected first vice chair, Nina Szlosberg-Landis of Raleigh, won by a landslide. The combination of Voller, the grassroots guy, and Szlosberg-Landis, who combines big-time fundraising experience with a progressive resume in women's and environmental politics, was a hopeful sign to those wondering if the two warring wings of the Democratic Party could be brought together.
If Voller and Slzosberg-Landis could work as a team — and they pledged to do so — then maybe the deep rift within the party could be healed. That was my thought, anyway.
Tonight, though, Szlosberg-Landis announced her resignation. In a letter to state Democratic executive committee members, she said donors "are not comfortable" with Voller and won't part with their money while he remains chairman.
She wrote separately to her friends, in part:
I have been very concerned about the direction and practices of the new Chairman. You have likely heard or read about some of the more public missteps, and I felt that I could not accomplish the work I know needs to be done if I remained associated with him. However, I firmly believe we all MUST continue to support our Democratic candidates and the organizations that can most effectively support them. I will be working as hard as I ever have to that end. As a matter of fact, I am currently raising money for the NC House Caucus which works directly to elect Democrats to the General Assembly. I am raising money for the DSCC, which is supporting Kay Hagan’s campaign. And I am hosting a fundraiser in New Hanover County to support the county party there; which is a legislative district we CAN win in 2014. And I am doing this all within the next five weeks!
And of course, I will re-engage working with Lillian’s List to elect pro-choice Democratic woman to the legislature, and the NC League of Conservation voters which elects pro-environment candidates to the NC General Assembly.
"I have a very heavy heart because I really believed I could help rebuild the NCDP from within," Szlosberg-Landis added. "But I know now, I can do more for Democrats through independently working to recruit, train and raise resources for our candidates. We simply must win in 2014 ..."
The two wings are farther apart than ever. One thinks party resources should be devoted to building the party's grassroots infrastructure — an indirect route to winning elections. The other is focused on identifying winnable elections right now, and on getting resources to the candidates, and campaign managers, who can win them.
Ideally, both things would be done. But with Democrats literally scraping for funds, ideally isn't a useful starting point.
The General Assembly isn't in session on Memorial Day — next Monday — so no "Moral Monday" protest is planned. The next one, on Monday, June 3, is shaping up as the biggest yet. A "Mega-Moral Monday," if you will. As the poisonous policies of the Republican legislature are thrown at us, people are rising up in righteous outrage, using the great tool of nonviolent civil disobedience to call these politicians to account.
Do read Will Huntsberry's account of the protest four days ago. And if you wonder what this all looks like, the NAACP has an excellent videographer helping out. Here's the latest, a 9:00 overview:
[Update x 2, 4 p.m. Wednesday] The House Judiciary Committee approved a substitute bill for Senate Bill 334 and sent it to the House floor. Does it renege on the state's lease with Raleigh? No and yes. It says the lease is invalid, but takes no action to dissolve it for a year. Does it allow Raleigh to proceed with planning for Dix Park? Yes and no. Raleigh is invited to negotiate with the state through April, 2014 — with all issues on the table. Rep. Justin Burr, who spoke for the bill, repeatedly suggested that rather than lease Dix from the state, Raleigh would be better served by acquiring it via an "installment sale." That's certainly true, depending of course on the price.
[I think the important takeaway from what happened today is that Art Pope was in the committee room and speaking for Gov. McCrory. So save Pope a seat on your park planning committee. Raleigh isn't conceding that its lease with the state is invalid — Mayor Nancy McFarlane and City Attorney Tom McCormick were clear that they consider it to be valid, because it is valid — but face it, if the state wants to dissolve/condemn that lease, it can't be stopped from doing so.
[Given that reality, the House version of SB 334 (assuming it passes the House and then — a minor if — the Senate) will give Raleigh/McFarlane and McCrory/Pope a year to see if they can thrash out a mutually acceptable plan to turn Dix into a destination park over time, perhaps with the eventual addition of the Gov. Morehead School for the Blind property. Adding some or all of the Gov. Morehead land — it's 40 acres, I was told — would allow Dix Park to link to Pullen Park via a pedestrian bridge or a trolley over Western Boulevard.
[I don't know that the two sides will be able to reach a deal in a year, frankly. There are a whole lot of moving parts to this negotiation. On the other hand, if both sides are serious — and Pope had his serious "I'm Art Pope" face on today, and you know McFarlane is serious — there's no insurmountable obstacle in their path, just a great many details that must be fitted together. Also, time is on their side ... in the sense that a great park evolves over many, many years, so what's allowed to be on Dix Hill today (i.e., the Department of Health and Human Services) is not necessarily going to be there 20, 50 or 100 years from today. As long as no one insists that something stupid, like leaving DHHS up there, also be permanent, a deal can certainly be envisioned.
[Update, noon Wednesday] WRAL has a story up in advance of the meeting. Sounds like the House leaders have decided to kick the can down the road a year — not tear up the lease just yet, but also not put a deal together with the city just yet. The city "blessed" this? More likely they've taken a vow of silence with a gun to their heads. The real stinker in this story would seem to be any language in the new bill that would lock both sides — i.e., the park proprietors — into leaving DHHS on Dix Hill indefinitely. Hard to have a great park when a state office complex is occupying the high ground — and you have no power to move them, ever. More later.]
A heads-up: Senate Bill 334, condemning the state's lease with Raleigh for the 325-acre Dorothea Dix tract, passed the Senate seven weeks ago but hasn't seen the light of day in the House — until now. The House Judiciary Committee has slated it for consideration tomorrow after the full House adjourns its session.
When that will be is unknown. Today's House session began at 2 p.m.
There's no start time yet for the session tomorrow, nor any indication of how long it will go. Tomorrow's session is now set to begin at 1:15 p.m. with what looks like a light agenda. The Judiciary Committee will begin 15 minutes after the House adjourns.
Usually, post-session committee meetings are quickies, designed to move a bill speedily and without much chance for a big public turnout. It's possible the committee intends to amend the bill before sending it on, either to the floor or to another committee. We'll see.
The meeting room for tomorrow is set: 544 in the Legislative Office Building, the one behind the Legislative Building.
House Judiciary Comm takes up Senate Bill 334, to renege on lease w/ Raleigh 4 Dix Park acreage, after House session Wed. Time TBD, Rm 544.
— Bob Geary (@rjgeary) May 21, 2013
[Update x 2, Thursday, May 9: The AP is reporting that next Monday will be another "Moral Monday" at the General Assembly, with non-violent civil disobedience again in the offing.]
[Update, Tuesday, May 7: The NAACP called for a candlelight vigil and protest rally tonight outside the Legislative Building. Because of predicted bad weather, they've moved to Martin St. Baptist Church, 1001 E. Martin St., Raleigh. Start time is the same, 7 p.m. Details on the NC NAACP website.]
The original post from Friday is below —
"We will not stop," Barber said. "We did not start to stop." He accused legislative leaders of using their power to hurt "the least of these" — the poor and those in need.
Barber called on the public to join these demonstrations and to "explore" whether they want to take the next step and engage in non-violent civil disobedience — in other words, be a part of the mass rallies, and perhaps be among those who are willing to be arrested.
The first such "Moral Monday" event will be May 6 — next Monday — with participants gathering first at 4 p.m. at the Davie Street Presbyterian Church in downtown Raleigh, adjacent to Moore Square on the corner of E. Davie and S. Person streets. One reason for the meeting at the church is to discuss how the General Assembly's police force is responding to the protests and what actions are likely to trigger an arrest.
Barber said state capitals have become the new battleground between progressive forces which have been on the rise for 50 years — the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham, Alabama "Children's Crusade" of 1963 was this week — and reactionary leaders determined to roll back the last half-century's social and civil rights gains.
Two years ago, Madison, Wisconsin was ground zero in this battle for the states. This year, it's Raleigh, North Carolina, where the election of a Republican governor along with veto-proof Republican majorities in both houses of the General Assembly have combined to unleash a torrent of right-wing legislation.
Barber, speaking this morning to supporters and the media at Martin Street Baptist Church in Raleigh, reminded everyone that the NAACP wrote to McCrory in December asking for a chance to work with the governor. Similarly, he said, members have been to the General Assembly trying to meet with House Speaker Thom Tillis, but he had no time for them. Barber accused McCrory, Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger of being the "George Wallaces of the 21st century," standing in the schoolhouse door against progress.
"it's got to stop somewhere, and [the public] has to rise up and say something," said the Rev. Anthony Spearman, an NAACP leader from Hickory.
Tim Tyson, a Duke University Divinity School professor-historian, said at least three notable progressive scholars from Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill have told him they'll be at the rally May 6 and are willing to be arrested. Other scholars may join in, Tyson said.
An unknown to me, and to everyone I spoke to in the group this morning, is whether the General Assembly's cops, who take their cues from Tillis and Berger, will allow demonstrators into the building next week — as they did this past Monday — and arrest them only if they step over some line that the cops announce on the spot ... or will they repeat what they did Wednesday, when they arrested student demonstrators for attempting to enter the building?
Barber said that preventing citizens from entering the Legislative Building may well be unconstitutional, especially since those arrested on Monday are only accused, not convicted, of the charges against them. "They may stop us at the door," he conceded. "But that doesn't matter. We're still going."
Five UNC system students, members of the NC Student Power Union, were arrested at the General Assembly yesterday. They were part of a larger demonstration of about 100 students and others in the front of the General Assembly building, the purpose of which is explained in the statement released this morning by NCSPU.
When the protesters arrived on West Jones Street, police formed a line across the front of the building. Since the building is open to the public, it's unclear to me what authority they were invoking to keep selected people out. That said, when five of the protesters crossed through the police line, they were arrested. Others who were not part of the protest simply went around the line and entered the building freely. It suggests to me that the police were barring people from entry based on their political beliefs, which would seem to be a pretty clear First Amendment violation.
One of the students arrested, UNC-Chapel Hill senior Zaina Alsous, made a video prior to the demonstration explaining why she intended to engage in an act of civil disobedience. It's about 2:00 long — worth a look.
Here's what the police line looked like before the protesters crossed it —
And the statement from the NCSPU —
Raleigh, NC — Yesterday, on May Day, the NC Student Power Union mobilized over 350 students from 10 colleges from around the state to participate in a demonstration against the legislature's regressive agenda.
Students began their day with a rally at the NCSU Bell Tower and then marched to the Civitas Institute, a far-right think tank funded by multimillionaire and Deputy State Budget Director Art Pope. The demonstration raised opposition to the avalanche of backwards policies being advanced by legislators. They joined a broader coalition of workers, immigrant rights, and many other community organizations for a march from Moore Square Park to the NC legislature.
When the march arrived at Jones Street, students, young people, and others took over the street, and five sat down with a banner that read “We Demand a Future! Stop budget cuts! Stop racist voter laws! Stop attacks on workers!”
During the street occupation that lasted for nearly an hour, leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus, the NC NAACP, the AFL-CIO, and the Southern Workers Assembly, among others, delivered messages of support and solidarity as students spoke out against the attacks.
Demonstrators then attempted to bring their demands for justice into the legislature and five were arrested — Jessica Injejikian (UNC Charlotte), Tristan Munchel and Dhruv Pathak (UNC Greensboro), and Zaina Alsous and Carissa Morrison (UNC Chapel Hill). All 5 were charged with disorderly conduct, and Morrison and Pathak were additionally charged with misdemeanor assault on a government official.
“We stand behind these 5 students who took a bold and powerful action today and put their bodies on the line to stop the attacks on the people of NC,” said Juan Miranda, a student at UNCG. “Our hope is that many others are inspired to join the fight back against these forces from destroying our state and taking us backwards. We will fight these charges to the end. The fact that these students were arrested simply for peacefully trying to enter and bring their demands into the 'People's House' is absurd, and the additional charges that Morrison and Pathak received are entirely baseless.”
In a statement, Pathak explained why he participated in civil disobedience. “Education should be affordable and accessible to all students. The right wing legislature and current budget proposal will make it harder for students to get into school and stay in school. My family struggles with finances everyday and has trouble making ends meet. The last thing I need is a multimillionaire writing the state budget who wants to take away my financial aid...That's why I took this action today.”
Students have vowed that they will be back to continue demonstrations throughout the summer with other organizations, and as long as is needed.
It's one good progressive out, another ready to step back in: State Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, is leaving the General Assembly to be general counsel at Triangle Transit. Former Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, who was moved ("double-bunked") into the same Wake County district with Ross by the Republicans and stepped aside to let her stay in office, is willing to return — very willing, according to his Twitter account:
Former 4-term legislator Grier Martin will run for the House District 34 seat being vacated by Rep. Deborah Ross.... fb.me/KObFUbN7
— Grier Martin (@GrierMartin) May 1, 2013
As expected, Senate Republicans this morning started the wheels in motion to tear up the state's lease with the City of Raleigh for the Dorothea Dix tract because, the GOP legislators said, former Gov. Perdue shouldn't have signed it. Perdue, as is required for contracts involving state land, won the approval of the Council of State before finalizing the lease.
By voice vote, the Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee approved Senate Bill 334 and sent it to the full Senate, out-shouting the opposition Democrats. The bill is a condemnation measure to terminate the lease and recapture the land.
The idea that a valid state contract can be discarded by the General Assembly because legislators don't like its terms — or the governor who negotiated them — struck Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt as "insane."
Yet the Republicans think anything done before they took over is fair game, Nesbitt said, from taking land away from municipalities to yanking Charlotte's airport away from Charlotte. "The people of this state," he said, "have a right to a little continuity of government."
Sarcastically, Nesbitt put the room on notice that any deals signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, will be considered "bogus and void" by the Democrats when they regain control of the legislature.
Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, assured one and all that the Republicans will be happy to renegotiate with Raleigh, though for only part of the 325-acre Dix tract, not all of it, and for a much higher price.
"You should hear yourselves saying that," Capitol Broadcasting Co. CEO Jim Goodmon told them moments later. "There’s no business person in the state who would agree with what you’re doing."
Goodmon, a member of the Dix Visionaries, one of the groups supporting Raleigh's effort to create a destination park on the Dix tract, was the only member of the public given a chance to speak prior to the committee vote. He ripped the Republicans for trying to back out of a negotiated lease.
"What lease are we going to not do next?" Goodmon wondered. "This doesn't make sense, and it's not honorable."
If the General Assembly can unilaterally void the current lease with Raleigh, Goodmon asked, what assurance would Raleigh have that, if it did renegotiate, a new deal wouldn't also be tossed by a future legislature?
Someone should tell MetLife, Goodmon argued, that its deal with the state could be in jeopardy. MetLife is moving some 2,500 jobs to Charlotte and Cary in return for promised tax incentives of more than $90 million — money Gov. McCrory has promised will be paid in future years as the jobs materialize.
"Nobody will trust doing business with the state," Goodmon said, if the General Assembly passes SB-334.
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane was in the committee room along with other city officials trying to protect their lease. McFarlane and a unanimous City Council appear to be prepared to go to court should the bill be enacted, either to argue that the contract must be honored or, if it isn't, to claim damages.
Goodmon, whose company is a major economic developer in Durham, said the Dix tract "is extremely valuable" to Raleigh and a jury will decide what the city is owed if the state's condemnation power is upheld.
But the major damage will be to the state, he argued. Raleigh will pay rent on the land, and over time will invest — his guess — $100 million to $125 million developing the state's property as a destination park and a major economic development draw for the city, the region and all of North Carolina.
"You've got to understand how we feel on the other side of this lease," Goodmon concluded. "What I've said is perfectly legitimate ... and it's a matter of honor, we don't break leases."
The committee meeting ended on a combative note as Sen. Tommy Apodaca, a Republican from Buncombe County, objected to being "intimidated by the press."
He meant Goodmon, whose company owns WRAL and other media properties.
"I will not be threatened," Apodaca warned. "That is wrong."
"What?" Goodmon shot back. "I can't speak because of where I work?"
"I felt threatened by you, sir," Apodaca answered. His microphone wasn't on, however, and the chair quickly cut him off and gaveled the meeting to a close.
The Wake County legislative delegation is meeting Monday at 4 pm in the General Assembly building on the first floor. It's an open forum and a chance to take a stand — with the county's Republican and Democratic legislators listening — on the inflamed issues surrounding the Wake school system and Dix Park.
Both the Great Schools in Wake coalition and Friends of Dorothea Dix Park have issued alerts asking their members and supporters to show up en masse — and, for the Dix Park crowd, wearing green.
Word of advice: The meeting room at the General Assembly is small-ish and a large crowd is likely. I.e., get there early if you want a seat.
However, a big crowd spilling into the hallways will send a message.
If you want to speak, here's the brief from GSIW:
Speakers must register by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone to 919 715-6400 no later than 11:00 am, Monday, March 25, 2013. Please provide the name of the presenter and the topic to be discussed.
Remarks will be limited to 2 to 3 minutes, with the time being dependent upon the number of speakers registered. If you plan to bring handouts, please bring at least 25 copies.
QUESTIONS? Call Candy Finley, Legislative Assistant (919 715-6400) with any questions.
On the schools front, the Wake school board is the target of multiple Republican attacks. The Republican majority on the Wake Commissioners board is trying to strip the school board of authority over school buildings — yes, that's not a typo. They can't do it by themselves, but the Republicans who control the General Assembly can do it, and that's just what they propose in Senate Bill 236.
Not only that, Republican legislators are threatening to redistrict the school board (again) in an effort to seize control of the school system in the 2014 primary elections. Senate Bill 325 contains their new gerrymandering plan, with the added insult that board members elected in 2011 for four-year terms would be tossed out of office 17 months early ... while the two Republican school members who remain from the 2009 elections would be spared the need to run again this year and would have their terms extended for six months.
All nine school board seats would be elected in the 2014 primaries, when the Republicans just happen to be expecting a big turnout as they choose a GOP U.S. Senate candidate. Will Huntsberry's story this week explains it all.
The Dix Park issue is equally outrageous. Gov. Bev Perdue, acting with the approval of the Council of State, signed a longterm lease with the City of Raleigh for the 325-acre Dorothea Dix Hospital tract. The state continues to own the land. The city intends to create a destination park there over the next 75 years as a major regional and statewide asset.
However, some Republicans in the legislature opposed Perdue's action. Now that she's out of office and the compliant Pat McCrory is in, they've filed bills intended to tear up the lease. The bills are Senate Bill 334 and House Bill 319.
Can they do that? Isn't a contract a contract? According to the Republicans, no contract with the state is safe if the General Assembly decides to change it. According to the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 10:
"No State shall ... pass any Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts or grant any Title of Nobility."
In other words, the General Assembly isn't the King of Anything and it's supposed to enforce contracts, not dissolve them.
Or so the Friends of Dorothea Dix Park and the City of Raleigh argue.
By the way, Senate Bill 334 is slated to be taken up by a Senate committee this morning. Notwithstanding its dubious constitutionality, it's expected to be approved and sent to the Senate floor for a vote — possibly next week.