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What does Gene Nichol think of HB 263?

If you couldn’t guess already—the UNC law professor and head of the new N.C. Poverty Research Fund don’t like it:

“The decision to hamper Greensboro voters’ ability to alter the structures of local government without permission, in a way not forced upon others, does present a significant equal protection question under the 14th Amendment,” Nichol said Thursday.

Nichol, a former dean of the UNC and University of Colorado law schools, is an expert in constitutional law and federal court procedures and jurisdiction.

“Regardless of whether a state is a home rule state, it is not free to violate the equal protection clause,” Nichol said. “The Supreme Court has paid attention to unique electoral or regulatory burdens in the past.”

Nichol —he also don’t like the John Locke Foundation or the J.W. Pope Center, especially after the Pope Center’s Jay Schalin called into question the ethics and legality of Nichol’s move to reopen the Center for Poverty, Work, and Opportunity “>under a new name.

Nichol didn’t want to comment on the Pope Center’s criticism other than to say he would’t comment on claims from yet one more ridiculous ass at the (John) Locke outfit.”

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Meanwhile, in CLT….

Now that gay marriage is legal in North Carolina –legal everywhere in the U.S.— the City of Charlotte is considering rescinding benefits for unmarried gay couples.

Some might see this as an unintended consequence of the legalization of gay marriage. Other might see it as cause for cities to show “inclusive they want to be” and that they “want to remain competitive in hiring, they ought to extend domestic partner benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples.”

Meanwhile interesting debate beneath the N&R write-up on the four Guilford County Register of Deeds employees who have opted out of performing gay marriages for religious reasons under SB 2. Except, of course, for the one commenter who immediately dismissed the four employees as “bigots,” no questions asked.

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SB 36-HB 263–winners and losers

Rhino’s John Hammer with his tally of winners and losers in the aftermath of the pending Greensboro City Council restructure, which now faces legal challenge:

One of the biggest losers is the News & Record, which came out against the plan before it was presented and has done everything in its power to stir up opposition. It fought to defeat the original Senate Bill 36, the revised plan that was part of House Bill 263 and the plan that finally passed. The plan that passed was the result of a conference committee made up of House and Senate members who revised the plan from seven districts to eight districts and added the provision that Greensboro has to have future redistricting plans approved by the General Assembly before they go into effect.

The News & Record even went so far in its opposition that it sold T-shirts opposed to the proposed restructuring plan.

So much of the opposition by the News & Record was about state Sen. Trudy Wade and not about the merits or flaws of the plan. It damaged the popularity of the paper. Objecting to a proposed statute is par for the course, but the virulent attacks on Wade seemed to many to be over the top.

Hammer also counts Mayor Nancy Vaughan as a loser, considering that Vaughan “took opposing the bill on as a personal cause and lost.”

That’s evident from Vaughan’s fiery speech during last night’s public hearing, after which the council voted 8-1 —-with District 5 representative Tony Wilkins casting the lone ‘no’ vote —to pursue the legal challenge.

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Gboro to mount legal challenge against HB 263

By a 8-1 vote, the Greensboro City Council voted to instruct City Attorney Tom Carruthers to mount a legal challenge to the recently-passed House bill restructuring the council. District 5 rep Tony Wilkins was the lone no vote.

If you want to catch up on the public hearing preceding the council’s vote, scroll through N&R reporter Joe Killian’s live tweets.

Before the council went into closed session to discuss its legal options, Wilkins made a motion that the council instead discuss those options in public, to which Mayor Nancy Vaughan replied

Wilkins is right, however. If HB 263 is so wrong and a legal challenge is so right, then why discuss it behind closed doors? (Yeah, yeah I know–“attorney-client privilege….”

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Questions about GPAC funding

N&R reports “organizers of the 3,000 seat Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts are dropping hints that they’ll need more money.”

The N&R report is based on emails the paper obtained written by council member Tony Wilkins raising questions about the state of the project’s finances:

Wilkins said he already had asked city officials for an update when he learned someone affiliated with the center asked state Sen. Trudy Wade (R-Guilford) for help getting a state grant.

That raised more questions, Wilkins said, since state taxpayer money isn’t part of the $65 million budget.

“I understand members of the Guilford delegation are being contacted about the (General Assembly) assisting with a $10 (million) to $15 (million) shortfall on the performing arts center,” Wilkins wrote in another email last week to city officials and fellow council members.

Someone I spoke with a few weeks ago with knowledge of the construction industry worries the project is moving too slowly and as a result the cost will be inflated considerably. And let’s be real here — Kathy Manning, who led the private fundraising efforts for the center, described it as a “complicated building.” I’m not the brightest guy in the world, but seems to me “complications mean more money, not less.

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Jeff Phillips takes Susan Ladd to school

In an op-ed in yesterday’s N&R, Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips responds to a recent Susan Ladd column basically stating that eeevil Republicans on the board have no regard for human life:

Ladd also bemoans the fact that the county “no longer describes its vision as creating prosperity and educational opportunity for all citizens, but supporting those things “in a business-friendly environment.” Apparently, while slicing and dicing the wording of our vision statement, Ladd developed an aversion to healthy business environments.

She seems to have adopted the misguided notion that government is responsible for “creating” prosperity. But government doesn’t create prosperity; individuals do. If Ladd had grown up poor, like I did, she would know that. Liberals are convinced that it’s government’s role to fix all of the world’s ills. But that philosophy has led to unprecedented debt, and to an unprecedented number of citizens who are dependent on government.

Ladd was on vacation last week as SB 36/HB 263 passed. Get ready, N&R readers –I’m sure she’ll have plenty to say on that subject. My guess is she’ll pile on with current council members Yvonne Johnson and Sharon Hightower and call the bill racist.

By the way —can’t help but note a little irony in the comments beneath the N&R write-up —one commenter who has loudly spoken out against the bill says “Yvonne Johnson has the right to call a spade a spade.”

Not the best choice of words.

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Reaction to Gboro council restructuring

NC_NR

N&R front page —Rep. John Blust is identified as “The Man of Conviction.” I’m not saying Blust is or isn’t a man of conviction, but that’s a little editorializing for the front page, isn’t it?

N&R ed page editor Allen Johnson:

On the day before the long Fourth of July weekend, Greensboro residents were instructed on how far the leaders of this state have strayed from principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.

To secure the rights of the people, that great document said, “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The state legislature made a mockery of those words Thursday, imposing on Greensboro a form of municipal government to which its citizens did not consent, by means that should shame everyone who had a hand in it.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan on a possible legal challenge:

Vaughan said she’ll meet Monday with the city’s legal staff. The subject: whether there are grounds for a lawsuit somewhere within the N.C. House and Senate’s decisions to restructure the City Council through House Bill 263.
Vaughan and the attorneys will consider possible violations of the federal Voting Rights Act. They’ll also discuss whether it’s unconstitutional to strip the council of its right to draw its own district lines.
“I think they cracked the door for a legal challenge,” Vaughan said.

Rhino’s John Hammer:

It is an absurd argument that the new eight-district system should not double bunk sitting councilmembers when you have a mix of at-large and district councilmembers.

One of the funniest arguments made was by Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford). She said that only Democrats on the City Council were double bunked. The current City Council is made up of eight Democrats and one Republican. If councilmembers are double bunked they have to involve Democrats.

Meanwhile, new date for the upcoming City Council election is Oct 6.

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SB 36 -HB 263 passes

By a 33-16 vote in the Senate and a 57-46 vote in the House, N&R reports.

N&O has the inside story on securing of House votes after the initial vote failed by a 50-53 vote. N&O says Rep. Jon Hardister as one of two House Republicans –the other being Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth—who supported the bill then opposed it. Hardister of course opposed the bill before he supported it after which he ultimately voted no.

Hardister must have read Doug Clark’s post.

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Wade’s ‘transmorgrified’ bill

As the Rhino describes the latest version of House Bill 263—-formerly Sen. Trudy Wade’s Senate Bill 36 restructuring the Greensboro City Council.

The latest version coming out of the joint House-Senate committee:

*The council would have eight district seats. It still would not have any council members elected citywide, and the mayor still would vote only in the cases of ties.

*The council would no longer be able to change district lines after the 2020 census. The new version says the General Assembly “shall revise the districts” after the census. The city, it says, “may submit proposed changes to the districts” to the General Assembly.

This latest version picks up a key vote —Greensboro Rep. Jon Hardister, who told the N&R he believes “it’s a good plan and it will be good for the city to spread out representation.”

Hardister has been hailed as a hero for his opposition to previous forms of the bill. It will be interesting to see how the N&R —which allows personal attacks on Wade to supplement its biased coverage of this issue—treats Hardister if he indeed votes ‘yes’ today—which he says he will.

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Summer of SB 36

N&R update on Sen. Trudy Wade’s SB 36 (now HB 263) restructuring the Greensboro City Council. Looks like the bill will spend the summer in a joint House-Senate committee.

Meanwhile, Doug Clark lists the high and low points of House debate on the bill.

The high point, according to Clark? When Rep. John Blust quoted —-gasp—-the Bible!—–when stating his opposition.

Funny, seemed to me after reading all the debate —especially on social media —in the aftermath of Supreme Court decisions that the Bible was one of the big losers last week and definitely out of vogue among truly enlightened politicians.

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