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09
At breakfast this morning I asked my politically astute friend what the Wake school board outcome means. His response: “Democrats aren’t dead.”
 
He added, “North Carolina isn’t a red state. And it’s not a blue state. It’s a 52-48 state” – exactly the margin of Kevin Hill’s victory. And, remember, in a district gerrymandered by the Republicans.
 
Credit goes to Perry Woods, Mack Paul and Dean Debnam – three of the victory’s architects. And a lot of people who pitched in.
 
It helped that Hill has real experience as an educator. But who on the Republican side was in charge of vetting Losurdo? Somebody didn’t do their homework.
 
A Republican friend observed that the now-ousted majority made a mistake putting Ron Mariotta and John Tedesco out front the last two years. They were too polarizing and antagonizing. Deborah Pritchett would have been a better chair, he said.
 
A final observation from my astute friend: Big-spending, hard-fought campaigns aren’t necessarily evil. They turn out the voters.

 

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08
Well, in a minor miracle, the Obama Justice Department said yes and put its seal of approval on the North Carolina Republicans’ new House and Senate Districts, then, before the ink was dry on the page, the North Carolina Democrats filed a lawsuit to stop the plan Obama had just approved.
 
It’s an odd turn of events in more ways than one.
 
For years, Republicans have been stoutheartedly arguing against quotas: Hiring quotas, admission quotas, racial quotas. But now they’ve discovered a quota they see real virtue in: Requiring legislators to draw as many majority-Minority districts (meaning a district where a majority of the voters are African-Americans) as possible.
 
To be fair, Republican legislators would probably say they don’t really like majority-Minority districts one bit – that the whole idea was foisted on them at gun point by Congress and the Voting Rights Act.
 
But the fact remains Republicans have just created more majority-Minority districts than Jim Hunt or Marc Basnight ever dreamed of, and, now, Republican legislators are in Court arguing for all they’re worth they’re dead right while Democrats – including the NAACP – are arguing just as hard the Republicans (and Obama) are dead wrong.
 
What nobody’s saying, on either side, is what the politicians are really doing.
 
The Democrats’ idea of an ideal, say, Senate district is one where 30% of the voters are African-Americans. And from their point of view their logic is impeccable: If 30% of the voters in the district are African-Americans then the Democratic candidate only needs 21% of the remaining 70% to win – which is pretty easy for most Democratic candidates to do. So, naturally, Democrats want all districts they can get where 30% or 35% or 38% of the voters are African-Americans.
 
The Republicans’ logic is more subtle but just as impeccable (from their point of view). They created ten majority-Minority Senate districts where over 50% of the voters are African-Americans. As a practical matter, on Election Day they’ve written off those districts. But that leaves forty Senate districts where on average 11% of the voters are African-Americans and Republicans are pretty likely to win a lot of those seats unless they’re, say, in Chapel Hill.
 
The Democrats call that ‘packing’ (as in packing African-American voters into as few districts as possible) and Republicans call it complying with the law. So, now, the Democrats are suing the Republicans for their new quotas and Republicans are in court agreeing with Obama and there’s not a principle in sight anywhere.
 

 

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08
A TAPster offers advice for people in politics – or any calling  – who want to avoid being the next Herman Cain, or the next victim:
 
“Sexual harassment is wrong. Period. When a man, woman or child says no, it must stop immediately.
 
“Having said that, there are lessons for us all in the Herman Cain situation, especially those of us who venture to the Washington political circus.
 
“First lesson: Washington is an intoxicating place. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to get messed up on power or whiskey or both and put your hands where they don’t belong. Plenty of DC politicos have become convinced they are invincible, invisible and irresistible and have talked, groped or kanoodled their way into trouble.
 
“Second lesson: Don’t put yourself in a position where you may have to say no, whether you’re in DC or Mt. Olive. If you need to meet with a powerful person to discuss something important, meet in an office in broad daylight and keep it all business. Flirting isn’t businesslike, and drinks and dinner is a date.  
 
“Herman Cain and his friends, like countless others over the decades, ignored these lessons. So, now we get to enjoy the spectacle of another politician trying to wriggle out of a big, avoidable mess.”

 

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Posted in: General, Issues
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07
Twenty years ago, another presidential candidate who had been rising in the polls ran into a sex scandal.
 
Bill Clinton survived. And went on to be President for eight years – Jennifer Flowers, Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky notwithstanding.
 
So maybe Democrats shouldn’t get too high and mighty about the allegations against Herman Cain.
 
Besides, think this through. Why stop the Hermanator’s march to the nomination? It will guarantee President Obama’s reelection.

 

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07
Over in Orange County the Democratic Commissioners would like to raise sales taxes, so there’s a referendum on the ballot on Election Day, which, normally, would lead to a fight between Democrats and Republicans – but that’s not how it works in Chapel Hill. Instead, the tax raisers have spared themselves a lot of strain – rather than campaigning to pass the referendum themselves they’re having local government do the heavy lifting.
 
Of course, the Chapel Hill politicians say, there’s not one thing political about local government spending $84,500 on a campaign to persuade people to vote to raise taxes. Instead, they say, it’s purely an eleemosynary endeavor undertaken to educate voters.
 
All that’s been a hard blow to the poor souls foolish enough not to want their taxes raised, and it may turn out to be a blow for the rest of us before all’s said and done. Because one sin has a way of begetting another. And there may be other politicians – say, legislators in Raleigh – watching and anytime now they may decide government running eleemosynary educational campaigns is a pretty fine idea. And they ought to be doing it too. On issues like Gay Marriage. Or their new abortion laws. Or why Obama’s Stimulus Plan fizzled.
 

 

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07
A lobbyist friend suspects that the legislature will try to override the Governor’s veto of the voter ID bill this week.
 
Then we may learn whether some Democrats agreed to vote for the override in exchange for the gay-marriage amendment being on the ballot in May, instead of November.
 
Stay tuned.

 

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04
No, he’s not running again.  (It’s amazing how the rumor keeps coming up.)
 
We’re talking about his personal office in the new James B. Hunt, Jr. Library on Centennial Campus at N.C. State University.
 
The Jim Hunt Alumni Association is raising $100,000 for naming rights to the office. 
 
Who are Jim Hunt Alumni? Well, we started out as anyone who worked in any of his campaigns or administrations. Then Rufus Edmisten joined. So we opened the doors to anyone who considers himself or herself a Hunt alum.
 
And the library drive is open to anyone. Some people are giving $1,000 or $500. Others are giving $250, or $100, or $75. Because of the Republicans, times are tight, so we accept gifts of any size.  Best of all, you can spread your donation over five years.
 
Under the Dome ran an item about the effort, with the names of many who have already made their pledges. We’re trying to reach everyone who was involved with Governor Hunt over the years, but that’s hard. So I’m posting this.
 
If you want to be part of it, email me: gary@garypearcenc.com.

 

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03
It’s said that your favorite music will always be what you listened to when you were first steaming up car windows. The Kinks loom large in my soundtrack.
 
Last night I was transported back in time – in Charlotte, of all places – at a Ray Davies concert.
 
Nearly 50 years after “All Day and All of the Night,” “You Really Got Me Now” and the rest, Davies is still performing and crowd-pleasing. At 67, he gives us geezers hope and, for a couple of hours at least, sweet (and sometimes pained) memories of long ago.
 
Davies has remained a prolific songwriter/recorder, so I knew only about a third of the songs. Good thing; if I’d known them all, I’d have no voice left.
 
The only disturbing note was the portly, middle-aged men on the front row who rocked out throughout the concert. One bore a startling resemblance to Rep. Skip Stam, which was disturbing on many levels.  I confirmed it wasn’t him, though.
 
Thanks to my wife and son (the two of them have now seen four of Ray’s concerts) for dragging my sometimes-reluctant ass along.
 
He is definitely not like everybody else.

 

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Posted in: General
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02
I received the angry missive below from a lobbyist – who wishes to remain nameless, for obvious reasons – in response to reports that Republican State Rep. Justin Burr used campaign funds to buy suits and jackets from Brooks Brothers in Raleigh. 
 
“Lobbyists are a timid bunch. 
 
“They never squawk when they’re treated like crap for fear their squawking will endanger their relationships with elected leaders.  
 
“North Carolina lobbyists have griped privately for years –and done nothing about it -- when legislators used campaign contributions to buy cars, clothes, meals, trips and anything else as long as the expense was loosely linked to campaigning. Hell, until a few years ago, legislators could move unneeded campaign cash to their personal bank account and it was ok as long as they paid the IRS.  
 
“But, this money was contributed so the candidate can buy signs, advertising and pay people to drive voters to the polls. It is sickening when a contributor sees their hard-earned tiny contribution used to enhance the lifestyle of a clueless legislator. 
 
“It’s time to end this mess, which was in the news again this week. Individual legislators have shown they don’t have the good sense to use their campaign funds only for campaign purposes. So, lobbyists should quit griping and only give contributions to candidates who pledge to use the money for campaign purposes and not to pimp their ride, stuff their face or clothe their bods.  
 
“Perhaps even Bob Hall and his liberal, goody-two-shoes ilk could join hands with the lobbyists he so detests and advocate for meaningful change to state law to save the idiot legislators from themselves.  
 
”Regardless, it’s time for lobbyists and the public to squawk louder about this crappy practice.”

 

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Posted in: General, Raleigh
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01
Thom who’s twenty-eight and, after managing three campaigns for State legislature, has decided he’s ready to be a political consultant stopped in mid-sentence and pointed to the back of Albert’s newspaper,
 
Geez, look at that.’
 
The waitress poured coffee.
 
Albert, who’s a pollster, turned over the paper and stared at a full page of Carolina Blue ink – an ad by Rex Hospital saying how Rex loves ‘collaborating’ with WakeMed Hospital.
 
How much do you reckon that cost? Thom asked.
 
Albert frowned, What does it have to do with healthcare?
 
Nothing, Thom grunted. He explained WakeMed had launched a hostile takeover of Rex and the ad was Rex’s way to oppose the takeover.
 
Albert lifted an eyebrow, WakeMed ought to just run an ad and say, We agree. That’s why we want to take you over.
 
Thom started pushing buttons on his cell phone, slid the phone across the table. Albert looked at it distastefully.
 
Thom said, Read that. It’s Rex’s website.
 
Albert grudgingly leaned down and read: Why does Bill Atkinson – WakeMed’s CEO – blame others for his failed physician relationships?
 
Albert looked up. Where’s the answer?
 
There is no answer. It’s a push poll.
 
Albert grunted and Richard, the Intellectual, set his coffee cup on the table. So WakeMed wants to become a monopoly in Wake County and Rex Hospital’s doing Internet push polls. We ought to turn both of them over to Duke Medicine.
 

 

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Posted in: General, Raleigh
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