Lee Mortimer | Indy Week

Lee Mortimer 
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Re: “A Duke University VP Walked Into the Campus Joe Van Gogh, Heard a Rap Song, Demanded That the Employees Be Fired

The reference to "contracts" raises the question of whether the coffee shop was paying the employees' Social Security and Medicare taxes, Workers' Compensation, Unemployment Insurance, and other legally required employment provisions. Too often, especially in the service industry, employers cut costs by misclassifying employees as "contractors" to avoid paying the taxes that support those employee benefits. The "contractor" here is the coffee shop, and Duke has a responsibility to see that vendors on its campus comply with applicable employment laws. Several years ago, the News & Observer did a comprehensive series "Contract to Cheat" that exposed such employer abuses. This incident would be a logical followup.

57 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Lee Mortimer on 05/09/2018 at 12:50 PM

Re: “Today in N.C. Gerrymandering: Redistricting Panel Convenes, GOP Leaders Confirm They Will Use Notorious Consultant

Democrats need 3 House seats or 6 Senate seats. Dropping below 60% in either chamber would end the Republicans' veto-proof supermajority.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Lee Mortimer on 07/27/2017 at 2:36 PM

Re: “Can Republican-Sponsored Redistricting Reform Save North Carolina‚Äôs Democracy?

One sentence from this article -- "Democrats tend to cluster in urban areas" -- if examined by a journalist or political scientist, would make clear why Republicans will come out ahead in elections where all legislators are chosen from single-member districts.

Posted by Lee Mortimer on 03/17/2017 at 12:14 AM

Re: “Even Though Republicans Control the Legislature, Redistricting Reformers Have Hope

There may be reasons Republicans will relent and agree to some version of redistricting reform. But it won't be because they fear losing control to Democrats. Since taking over the legislature, Republicans have increased their margins from 68-52 (House) and 31-19 (Senate) in 2010 to 74-46 (House) and 35-15 (Senate) today. Democrats would have to bring Republicans down to minority status in both chambers to take control of post-2020 redistricting. Having Cooper in the governor's chair won't slow GOP gerrymandering because when the Democratic-run General Assembly passed a constitutional amendment giving the governor veto power, it specifically excluded redistricting plans. If Republicans agree to non-partisan redistricting it will be from a combination of losing redistricting cases in court and a fear of damaging their party's "brand" if they attempt another full decade of illegitimate and undeserved political power.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Lee Mortimer on 02/02/2017 at 1:06 AM

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

While I have no doubt the Republican legislature enacted retention elections for purely partisan reasons, it would be a mistake to dismiss the method as not worthy of consideration for judicial selection. I believe a number of states currently use retention elections for determining judicial officers. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Daye O'Connor is an enthusiastic advocate of retention elections. Under the system, a judge would be initially appointed, then stand for "retention" at the end of their term. If approved by voters, they would continue for another term; if rejected, a new judge would be appointed in their place. It would seem to be a reasonable middle ground between the federal system of lifetime appointments for judges (think Clarence Thomas) and embroiling the judicial process in all-out partisan political brawls. We probably have too many elections as it is, and voters often know less about judicial candidates than any other office on the ballot. So while the motivation in this instance is highly suspect, the idea of retention elections should be accorded a second look.

5 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Lee Mortimer on 05/26/2016 at 11:45 PM

Re: “Nearly half of all state legislative races will not be competitive this election cycle

Actually, this report significantly understates the non-competitiveness of legislative elections. Common Cause has defined "non-competitive" as an election won by more than 10 percentage points. By that measure, close to 90 percent of the 170 legislative elections in 2012 were non-competitive. Similar margins were the case for elections to the U.S. House both in North Carolina and the rest of the country.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Lee Mortimer on 12/22/2015 at 10:05 AM

Re: “The legislature's neo-Redeemers may have set us back half a century

It should also be noted that had Democrats fixed redistricting when they controlled the legislature, we wouldn't be in this mess today. The GOP's 2011 gerrymander plan enabled Republicans to gain 65% of General Assembly seats in 2012 with only 52% of the statewide vote. Without gerrymandered districts, Republicans would have had no more than a narrow majority. Instead, their whopping, veto-proof majority has empowered the GOP to push through its extremist agenda. Why would Gov. McCrory stick his neck out to veto anything when he would be quickly and easily overridden by the Republican legislators. The extent of gerrymandering carried out by Republicans probably ensures GOP control of the legislature through the end of the decade. Democrats need to recognize that they made a strategic blunder in not fixing redistricting, then commit to making redistricting reform their top priority post-2020.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Lee Mortimer on 10/24/2014 at 1:57 PM

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