I call this special, very hush-hush meeting of the N.C. Senate Republican Caucus to order. Remember, we're sworn to secrecy, on penalty of expulsion, as we meet to consider a bold new plan to correct the terrible troubles in Wake County."
Liberals marching in the streets. Gays fraternizing. Now they want a transit system, for chrissakes. And the drinking! The only thing they make in Raleigh is beer, seems like. Is anybody sober? Come Sunday, when folks head for church, there's so much vomit underfoot they have to step lively just to enter the vestibule.
But the worst is that Wake, previously under Republican control, fell to the Democrats in last fall's elections by a whopping margin.
"Mr. Chairman, a point of personal privilege."
"The chair recognizes Sen. Apodaca."
The blunt-spoken Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Hendersonville who nonetheless knows what's best for Wake, is a power to be reckoned with in the Senate.
"Mr. Chairman, let's get down to it. We're talking rural versus city."
"Thank you, Tom. I know you've said that in the press. Rural versus city it most certainly is."
It's not like the rural Republicans haven't tried. They come to the Capitol from Spruce Pine or Waxhaw, Mount Olive or Eden, and as far as they're concerned, it's rags to riches. The money wrung in taxes from their downtrodden counties seems to be splurged in Raleigh on luxury buildings and giant parking decks so the lawyers who run everything can keep their tasseled loafers dry when it rains.
Fact: Tax cuts for the rich, which the Republicans passed, helped a few of the rural gentry. But, perversely, the biggest gainers are corporations and corporate executives who live, if not in Raleigh, then Charlotte—or New York City. Ugh!
"Sen. Brown, how are we doing with taking sales tax revenues from the urban counties and giving the money to rural counties?"
Sen. Harry Brown, from Jacksonville, is the affable Republican majority leader.
Under old business, there was discussion about changing the state's "incentives" program, which pays businesses that bring jobs to North Carolina. In the past, most of these businesses insisted on being in Wake County, Durham or Charlotte.
If a company won't go to Pasquotank or Transylvania County, better South Carolina should get it than Charlotte or Raleigh.
Unfortunately, Gov. McCrory, former mayor of Charlotte, doesn't see the problem. Maybe he's a Republican in Name Only?
In new business, Senate Bill 708, a good Republican bill, would gum up McCrory's deal to sell the Dorothea Dix Hospital property to Raleigh for $52 million. But it has very few sponsors, because the real Republican potentate, Raleigh businessman Art Pope, is with McCrory. Republicans don't fear McCrory. They do fear Pope.
Now, it was time to unveil the bold new plan.
"Senators," the caucus chairman said. "We're going to split Wake County in two."
Sen. [inaudible], please explain why we should whack Wake in half."
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you know, we tried to stop the Dix Hospital sale two years ago, but the House chickened out and never passed our bill. No reason to think that's not going to happen again with SB 708.
"So here's the plan. We split Wake County, and we put downtown Raleigh and as many other Democratic precincts as possible into one of the two new counties. And we split Raleigh, too ..."
The recording cut in and out.
"... the new city of North Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Wake Forest, all the Republican areas—will be in the other new county. We could call it WakesUp. That'd drive the Democrats around the bend."
The chairman laughed.
"Let's see if what's left of Raleigh can afford $52 million for a park!" he said.
Questions ensued. Under the state constitution, the General Assembly can create counties or rearrange them by simple majority vote, and the governor has no veto because it's a "local bill."
It was agreed that the Wake County school system should also be divided, which would allow the Republicans to fulfill their fondest dream of "neighborhood schools" in their new county of WakesUp.
WakesUp could also have an Indiana-style ordinance allowing residents to discriminate against anybody they don't like—say, people who are gay—and call it religious freedom. State Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, will be so pleased.
Sen. Chad Barefoot, one of just three Republican senators (out of 33) who represents any part of Wake County, was instructed to file the bill. Wake County should be split along the same lines of another Barefoot bill (SB 181), which is designed to gerrymander Wake's election districts and create two regional super-districts, one based in Raleigh and the second surrounding it.
Barefoot, a second-term senator, has proven adept at taking orders, the chairman said. "I know you love SB 181, Chad, and you did great work explaining why we Republicans should have a chance to win in Wake County even if we don't get more votes. But this is even better. We get a county of our own, and with WakesUp in the way, Raleigh can forget about any mass transit to Durham.
"Get as many co-sponsors as you can," he continued. "But don't file it on April 1. We don't want anyone to think we're April Fools."
This article appeared in print with the headline "April's fools."