scharrison's blog

NC A&T a case study in partisan gerrymandering

Divided and conquered without an opportunity to protest:

In adopting the electoral map, the legislature partitioned the campus of North Carolina A&T State University, the nation's largest historically black public college, into two separate districts.

"We had one person representing us who shared our beliefs. Now we have two people who don't really represent us," said Smith, 24, a 2017 graduate who works with voting-rights group Common Cause, which is among the plaintiffs challenging the new districts.

This particular move may be the partisan straw that broke the mapmaker's back. It should be, anyway. Not even the worst justices (Thomas and Kavanaugh) on our conservative Supreme Court could swallow the idea splitting NC A&T in half was merely a coincidence, or that students are better off with two Representatives instead of one. Their votes were "cracked," to use the parlance of the mapmakers themselves, and there is no viable defense of that. And this argument might be even worse:

Out of the frying pan into the fire: Carol Folt takes over at USC

You have to admire her stamina:

In the wake of a series of scandals that rocked it to its foundations, the University of Southern California on Wednesday announced the appointment of a new president: Carol L. Folt, the former chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Folt will be the first female president in USC’s 139-year history. Before serving six years as head of UNC, she amassed a lengthy academic record as a professor of biological sciences, a dean, a provost and interim president at Dartmouth College. But perhaps most important for the USC job are her battle scars: in North Carolina, Folt managed to overcome a series of partisan political fights and academic scandals (though not without criticism that she didn't go far enough with reforms). Ultimately, she was pushed out of the job after bravely making the call to remove remnants of a Confederate statue at the heart of the campus.

I'm sure she'll be well-compensated by USC, but she sure has her hands full:

Bladen County still has no Elections Board

girlsideeye.jpg

Making a crazy situation even crazier:

Right now, Bladen County has no board of elections. Earlier this month, the new state board declined to appoint a new county board of elections until the investigation was over. NCSBE spokesperson Patrick Gannon said the board will appoint a new county board at a future meeting but a date for that meeting has not been set.

NCSBE members agreed at the hearing in Raleigh that in light of the information revealed during the testimony, additional oversight is needed of the upcoming special elections in Bladen County. “State board members agreed at the evidentiary hearing that the agency should look closely at the operations and oversight of the Bladen County Board of Elections, given the recent developments,” Gannon said.

Unfortunately, this article is over 3 weeks old, but a teaser of a story buried behind a paywall (that I refuse to pay because I'm already paying that company) reveals the Board is still not empaneled, and the NC GOP has refused to put any (replacement) Republican names forward to fill those seats. Absentee ballots for the Primary will (very soon) have to be sent out, and there's more than just a Congressional special election to be considered:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Wanton abuse of power:

It's not like this was a "secret" feud, we've known about it for some time now. And yet, Republicans on the Board have kept him in that (unearned and clearly ill-advised) position of power in spite of that massive conflict of interest. And of course Republicans in the General Assembly have stood by and watched while their experiment in partisan manipulation has blown up the laboratory. Big, stinking mess.

The legalization of marijuana can no longer be ignored by Democrats

Pay close attention, because the your base surely is:

The issue today is a pillar of progressive politics, but not because of graying hippies who like their Rocky Mountain High. Rather, for many Democrats, legalization has become a litmus test for candidates’ commitment to equal treatment for all races in policing and criminal justice as well as fighting economic inequality.

Numerous states already have or soon will legalize the use of marijuana in one shape or another, but North Carolina (not to mention the Federal government) is still incarcerating tens of thousands under its misguided "War On Drugs" mentality. You can beat somebody until they're almost lifeless, or defraud them out of their family's meager savings, and get less jail time than having a half-pound of a certain plant, and when that insanely warped system of (in)justice falls heavily on young black males, the motives behind it become crystal clear:

Hacker-In-Chief? A look at Beto's misspent youth

Burning down the frontier of the Internet:

The hugely influential Cult of the Dead Cow, jokingly named after an abandoned Texas slaughterhouse, is notorious for releasing tools that allowed ordinary people to hack computers running Microsoft’s Windows. It’s also known for inventing the word “hacktivism” to describe human-rights-driven security work.

Members of the group have protected O’Rourke’s secret for decades, reluctant to compromise his political viability. Now, in a series of interviews, CDC members have acknowledged O’Rourke as one of their own.

My first takeaway after reading this is that Beto is leaps and bounds more (technically) intelligent than the rest of the pack of Dem candidates. Just being able to access those message boards and forums back in the 1980's took skills most people didn't (and still don't) have, much less being able to write code to break security protocols. While Beto doesn't appear to have been involved in some of the darker operations, he was not above breaking the law to get what he wanted:

The end of an era: Nancy McFarlane bows out as Raleigh's Mayor

The adversarial nature of social media has taken a toll:

As mayor, the release continued, McFarlane has worked to expand public transit, increase affordable housing, update the city’s land-use rules, protect the environment, support small business and entrepreneurs, and “champion the arts.” But within the past year, the eight-person city board has become fractured, with McFarlane increasingly on the minority side.

“We used to fight together for the things we cared about,” she said in a video. “Now it just seems like we fight with each other. The mean politics of Twitter and social media is painful when it’s about you or someone you love. This social disease has exploded since I first ran for city council in 2007. Raleigh politics could use a reset.”

In the 2000's it was the blogosphere where elected officials were chewed on and conspiracy theories flourished, but that effect pales in comparison to Twitter and Facebook of the last decade. In this day and age, city council members are either superheroes or villains, and even the most common-sense projects can get derailed by a poorly thought-out turn of phrase. In theory, this new access to information should have served to reduce mistrust of government, because we now know a hell of a lot more about what's going on. But that just (apparently) gives people more things to question, more fuel for conspiracy fires. I'm on the front lines in this growth war, and things like this make my hair stand on end:

Fifty thousand barrels: Craft brewers (finally) win their struggle

Of course this should have happened years ago:

Ending a two-year battle, North Carolina’s biggest craft brewers have reached a compromise with the state’s wholesale distributors that would let them and other large brewers at least double their annual production. The effort pitted the fast-growing craft beer industry against wholesale distributors, a group that reinforced its clout with nearly $1.5 million in political contributions in the last four years.

The compromise announced Wednesday would create a new category of “Mid-Sized Independent Breweries” such as NoDa, Olde Meck and Red Oak. Their ability to self-distribute would be raised to 50,000 barrels. The new law would allow mid-sized breweries to distribute “up to” 50,000 barrels a year. Breweries would not lose that authorization if they exceeded 50,000 barrels. However, this new authorization would be limited only to those breweries that sell less than 100,000 barrels of beer per year.

This is really good news, especially for people like me who would love to have a craft brewer set up shop in our small towns. Something like that can be a major catalyst for economic revitalization, but that previous cap had held many craft brewers back. Cheers!

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