Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist | Indy Week

Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist 
Member since Mar 5, 2007

Still a 3-point threat in my own mind. Good up and down, will take a charge. Not the fastest, but can maintain position/overplay.


This picture of grim resolution is in prep for upcoming 10K.

Updated on October 29, 2012 at 12:02 PM


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Bob Geary 

Bob Geary is a columnist living in Raleigh.

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Re: “The Quiet Battle for the N.C. Supreme Court Matters More Than You Think

Walter -- Good comments, thanks. On the code of judicial conduct, I think the distinction between Morgan and Faires is simply that he -- Morgan -- has been a sitting judge for years and has thus been unable to comment publicly on issues that might come before the courts; whereas Faires is a recent candidate who, until she filed to run, was free to comment and did -- including in testimony before legislative committees -- on such issues as sales-tax legislation and gerrymandering.

It's true, now that she's a candidate, she's as constrained by the code as he is.

On the whole-county provision, as you no doubt know, it was the basis of the Republican Supreme Court's rulings in Stephenson v. Bartlett, which struck down the Democrats' post-2000 Census legislative maps as violating the state constitution. The point being, the whole-county provision is a two-edged sword. It can be helpful or harmful depending on who's wielding it and how.

In general, I like the idea of the whole-county provision, because it helps people to know who's representing them when they can identify legislators by county -- e.g, Smith, D-Wake, or Jones, R-Wake. Contrast that with "ink splat" districts, as Faires called them, where the boundaries are completely artificial and indistinct, a jigsaw puzzle of often-distended precincts strung together for no purpose except to pack the other party's voters into a single district so as to keep them out of multiple other districts that your party wants to win.

That said, the Voting Rights Act, which is federal law, and which therefore trumps the state constitution, requires that African-American voters be grouped together in districts that enhance and do not dilute their ability to elect representatives of their choice. The difference between enhancing and diluting is complicated. Does a district with, say, a 40 percent black voting age population enhance the ability of blacks to elect (if they so choose) black officials? Would a district with a 45 percent black voting age population dilute that ability, by "wasting" black votes that are unneeded in the district in question but could enhance black influence in an adjoining district?

The answers are in the history of the area and the degree to which African-Americans have been able to elect black representatives in the past, which is why the U.S. Supreme Court has warned states to consider such districts on a case-by-case basis without imposing any "bright line" number.

The current N.C. legislative maps, I believe, deliberately dilute African-American voting power by creating districts where the black voting age population in every case exceeds 50 percent, averaging almost 53 percent. To do this, the Republicans ignored the whole-county constraint and strung black neighborhoods together with no regard to county lines, creating districts that do indeed look like "ink splats" on a map.

They did this even though the evidence is clear that black districts of 40 percent or less have been electing black representatives quite successfully, in no small part because a 40 percent black district is virtually certain to be majority-black with respect to Democratic primaries. Not surprisingly, few blacks vote Republican.

The Republicans argue that what they've done is mere partisan gerrymandering, designed to pack Democratic voters into a few districts so as to make a majority of districts winnable for Republicans. Partisan gerrymandering, it certainly is. But it is also racial gerrymandering, in that it dilutes black-voter influence.

Partisan gerrymandering may be acceptable under federal law (though it shouldn't be).

Racial gerrymandering isn't acceptable, however. It's illegal, and these Republican maps would be struck down under any fair reading of the Voting Rights Act.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist on 05/23/2016 at 1:49 PM

Re: “Duke’s Adjunct Faculty Uprising Is Just What Higher Ed Needs

Thanks for the responses. David Irvine: Absolutely right that without tenure, challenging the powers that be (e.g., the depredations of crony capitalism in the sciences or in government) may cost you your job. But if college kids and faculty can't kick around the state of the world and what's wrong with it, who can -- or will? Our society needs much more critical thinking; we're getting less of it, it seems, even as we "educate" a greater percentage of people in colleges and graduate schools.

Great points made by Prof. Ash. I would add that the presence of true adjuncts on a campus is refreshing. By "true," I mean people with professional status elsewhere who teach as a sideline, and who have the ability to connect students to how the real world works in corporations, the law, the labs, etc.

Tenured faculty may help to make those connections too, but the ivy tower can be a little cloistered, so the occasional "visiting scholar" should serve as a change of pace. But when the majority of faculty are "visiting" and do not have a day job with professional status elsewhere (or a secure pension via retirement), then to put it bluntly, you don't have a faculty. You have a pick-up team, paid on the cheap, with no expectation that they can or will stand up to the administrators, donors and corporate backers who increasingly run our universities.

Posted by Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist on 04/05/2016 at 1:17 PM
Posted by Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist on 04/01/2016 at 12:07 PM

Re: “Remembering Quail Ridge Books Founder Nancy Olson, a Reader's Best Friend

She was a treasure and you've captured why. She and her staff, as you say, Zach.

Nancy was a big proponent of the shop-local idea and reached out to other business owners to help get the movement started. I remember when she told me about Austin's motto, "Keep Austin Weird," and how Raleigh should brand itself as a distinctive and proudly different place. She surely did her part with QRB, one of our proudest distinctions.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist on 04/01/2016 at 12:04 PM

Re: “Do You Miss the Public Option Yet?

Your solution makes perfect sense, ProudlyU, as long as you're willing to let people die if they're poor (or not rich) and require extended health care for cancer, MS, ALS or any of the other diseases for which there once were no treatments, but now there are.

If you're not willing to let such people die, then you must look to some sort of insurance pool, where the many protect themselves against the chance that they'll be among the unlucky few, health wise. Of course, we should all buy such insurance. But can we all afford it? Should the poor be subsidized?

It won't do to buy the insurance after we contract an expensive disease -- if we let people do that, no one will buy it unless they're seriously ill.

Cutting to the chase, in every other industrialized nation where this problem has presented itself, the answer was -- is -- to have a national health insurance program, cover everyone, and control health care spending by rationing care based on efficacy. The U.S. is the outlier. We ration care, of course, but based on net worth and ability to buy expensive insurance, not on the likelihood that the care will be effective.

We call our system "fee for service." Not "fee for results." Which is why Americans spend twice or more per capita on health care compared to other wealthy nations, for results which are no better and are, arguably, worse.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist on 02/23/2016 at 1:15 PM

Re: “Do You Miss the Public Option Yet?

Obama has served in the White House with class and distinction. I'm sure he was reluctant to fight for real health care reform because, as the first African-American president, he felt a responsibility to be a bridge-builder, or at least try to be. That, after all, had been his approach from his Harvard Law Schools days.

That said, ditching the public option and allowing the health care bill to be written by Senate committees (including one chaired by Baucus) in prolonged negotiations with industry groups had three disastrous consequences: 1) the absence of a public option meant there was no cost control built into Obamacare, a major shortcoming; 2) while the debate went on, all momentum from Obama's historic election victory was dissipated; and 3) millions of Obama supporters who were ready and willing to be part of his Organizing for America effort after he was inaugurated went unused. They could've fought for real reform, especially the public option. Obama didn't want a fight, and OFA never amounted to anything. Which meant that, by the time of 2010 elections, they were nowhere to be found.

Obama's 2010 rout allowed Republicans to take control of a majority of state legislatures (Exhibit A: North Carolina), which meant they were in charge of redistricting in those states following the census. In retrospect, it's obvious that Obama would've been better advised to focus on economic recovery in the first two years of his presidency, try to survive the 2010 midterms, and then turn to health care. No way to know how that would've worked out for him. But the path he chose was a disaster for his party, one that will take a generation or more to overcome, if it ever does.

Here's a quick summary -- because of that 2010 wipeout and the gerrymandering that ensued, Democrats dropped 910 legislative seats nationwide:…

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist on 02/17/2016 at 3:56 PM

Re: “White people problem: To succeed, progressives need to convince poor whites to vote in their own self-interest

You're welcome, Mike! On the infrastructure front, what I have in mind goes like this:…

Posted by Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist on 01/06/2016 at 10:39 AM

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