"Who cares about the rights of 130,000 people?'' asks Chris Fitzsimon on his blog which can be found at weekend Follies column at www.ncpolicywatch.com.
Apparently it is ok to make it more difficult for 100,000 registered voters in North Carolina to cast their ballots. That was one of the interesting outcomes of the debate this week about the unnecessary voter ID bill making its way through the House.
Lawmakers heard from DMV officials that 318,000 of the state’s more than 6.4 million registered voters could not be matched with DMV records and that 171,000 of those people did not vote in the last two elections.
That information followed reports last year that more 600,000 people did not have a government-issued photo ID, though most people understood at the time that number was high because of confusion about name changes due to marriage and other factors.
This week when the new numbers came out, supporters of the ID law seemed almost giddy, as if making it harder for 300,000 or even 130,000 people to exercise their constitutional right was somehow more justified.
And despite all the claims about voter impersonation fraud ramped up by the transparently partisan voter ID supporters, it is worth remembering that House Speaker Thom Tillis himself said on national television that the ID law is not about voter fraud, but instead about addressing the need to restore public confidence in the integrity of elections.
That would he confidence shaken by all the ridiculous reports of voter fraud circulated by the right-wing groups associated with the Republicans looking to pass voter suppression laws for their partisan advantage.
Republicans upset about Republican drawn district lines
Speaking of the integrity of elections, blatantly partisan legislation to restructure the makeup of the Wake County Board of Education passed a Senate committee this week.
Republicans, upset that Democrats retook the majority of the board in the 2011 election, now want to change the district lines and also create two regional super-districts. The districts were redrawn in 2010 as the law requires when a new census is completed.
Left out of the debate is the fact that the current districts were drawn by the law firm of Republican Kieran Shanahan, currently the Secretary of Public Safety in the McCrory Administration. Shanahan was hired to draw the lines by the then Republican majority of the school board.
Somebody needs to ask Shanahan what he thinks of this partisan mischief and the implication that his districts were not solidly Republican enough for his colleagues in the General Assembly.
McCrory planning another mental hospital?
It’s a little hard to figure out exactly where Governor Pat McCrory stands on the Dix Park controversy, but it sounds like he wants to build a new mental health facility on the land.
The Senate has passed legislation that would void a lease signed between the state and the City of Raleigh to turn the Dorothea Dix land into a destination park. Senate leaders were furious when former Governor Beverly Perdue announced the deal in the final weeks of her administration.
McCrory was asked at a press conference in December about the Dix deal and other actions Perdue was taking before she left office and he said that she is the governor, “that’s how I feel about it,” though he did add that he wished she had waited so he could have played a role in the Dix negotiations.
Supporters of the lease point out that reneging on the deal would be a serious blow to the state’s credibility. How could any business trust any deal they make with the state if lawmakers can simply break it the next time they are in session?
McCrory has stayed out of the debate for the most part, but when asked has said he wants some sort of compromise, apparently hoping to break the deal and renegotiate it, which is still breaking the deal.
McCrory has said he favors both a park on the Dix land and offices for health and human services officials.
This week in an interview with a Greenville television station, he said he wanted a win-win which he defined as a park, offices for health and human services officials, AND a mental health center.
Does that mean McCrory wants to build a new mental hospital on the Dix property in addition to the Central Regional Hospital that opened in Butner a few years ago replace to dilapidated Dix facility?
Somebody needs to ask him.
Clear and detailed priorities at HHS
And finally, Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos issued a very detailed proposal this week.
No, not about her plan to turn over the state’s Medicaid program to out-of-state for profit managed care companies, bypassing the state’s award-winning Community Care program in the process.
The announcement instead was very specific three-page decree about how HHS employees are to sign all emails from their offices.
As the Progressive Pulse reported, the email signatures can only be in 11 point black Arial font, with “No logo, No background, No personalized quote or division slogan, No bold or italics font.”
And if you slip up and your signature appears in a 10 point font, well pack up your desk. As the memo from Wos says, “employees who fail to adhere or implement this policy may be subject to personnel actions and procedures at the division/office/facility director’s discretion and in accordance with the North Carolina State Personnel Act.”
It has not been lost on many folks in Raleigh that the three page memo contains much more detail and specificity than the sketchy scheme to privatize Medicaid that Wos recently released.
At least they have their priorities straight over there at HHS.