Saturday, February 19, 2011

in memoriam the nc way

Saturday, August 04, 2007

who the heck is Randy Parton anyway?

This may well be the biggest local government boondoggle in recent NC history. The city of Roanoke Rapids has shelled out millions (at least $23 million) to build and support the Randy Parton Theater. What kinds of shows will be put on at this glorious new theater? Why, Randy Parton, of course. Plus other big events like.... well, none.

From the John Locke Foundation article linked above:

The city is planning for ticket sales and other theater revenues to raise enough funds to pay expenses, including Parton’s $1.5 million annual fee and the monthly debt service on the $21.5 million. If those funds are not enough, the city will have to use local sales or property taxes.

(in the South Park's Sheila Broflovski voice:) What what what?!

Who in their right mind thinks Randy Parton playing four nights a week will generate $23 million? I'm not so sure they could make that much money if Randy's sister Dolly was the nightly headliner.

The city fathers of Roanoke Rapids may have an answer, but they are keeping that a secret. The article notes that the financial statements for this taxpayer-funded project are considered confidential. They consider them to fall under the category of "trade secrets." Sorry, but anyone who think the finances of a taxpayer-funded project should be kept secret from the taxpayers should be run out of office immediately.

Parton's production company is supposedly responsible for making payments on the city's loan is well named. However it is unclear if they are on the hook for anything if their profits don't cover the city's costs. Since after all the agreement is confidential.

But we do have a very strong clue to these answers from the name of Parton's production company, Moonlight Bandit LLC. Although they are somewhat misnamed, as this robbery is taking place in broad daylight.

fits and starts

Yeah, I know nobody is reading this much, at least not yet. I promised myself I wouldn't promote this blog again until I had posted regularly for a week. So let's start the slate clean again today, shall we?

lobbying ourselves with tax money

Our friends at Americans for Prosperity have a great article up on how groups like the NC League for Municipalities and the Partnership for North Carolina's Future conduct their lobbying activities with our money. These groups are mostly funded by membership fees collected from local and county governments, which are of course raised through taxes.

It makes me sick that we are forced to pay for lobbyists who only advocate positions which will raise taxes and reduce our freedom. These particular groups are focused now on preventing a state Constitutional amendment limiting eminent domain abuse from coming to a vote. It's just a baldfaced lie, pretending to be representing a group of taxpayers when they are really only representing the tax collectors.

But one of the beautiful things about the Old North State is that we have plenty of good folks like those at AFP who keep us informed about how our state and local governments operate.

Monday, July 23, 2007

no more blank bills

The North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research has taken on the inherently corrupt practice in the General Assembly of filing "blank bills." The post-Black era has put us in the mood for reform, and these folks have picked an excellent target.

Here's how it works. The deadline to file a bill for consideration in the General Assembly is relatively early in the session. But you are allowed to file a bill with just a title, so you can fill in the actual legislation later. The idea was first floated to allow for local bills where the details were still being worked out. But it quickly became abused to the point where blank bills ended up becoming quite substantial pieces of legislation snuck in at the end of the session without any time for review by legislators, much less the public. That's how video poker got banned in a bill allegedly about education, to name just one example.

The linked article gives an example:

Senate Bill 54, "Public Laws."

"A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO AMEND THE PUBLIC LAWS OF NORTH CAROLINA. The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts: SECTION 1. This act amends the public laws of North Carolina. SECTION 2. This act is effective when it becomes law."

Period. The end. Ridiculous.

Now the House banned blank bills this session, but the Senate still allows them. Maybe Mark Basnight will have to go to jail before this thoroughly anti-democratic practice finally comes to an end. If the people don't have the time and opportunity to tell their elected representatives what they think about any bill, then that bill should not be passed.

at least politics moves faster than sports

One nice aspect of both politics and religion is that retribution is swift. Rev. Coy Privette, the sick bastard that inspired me to rebrand this blog, has already resigned all his posts in various Christian organizations. Of course everybody tries to put as nice a face on it as possible. Rev. Privette's statement to the NC Christian Action League is typical:

Because of the nature of the allegations, I believe it is in the best interest for me to resign so that the charges will not distract from the important work of the Christian Action League.

Uh, dude, I hate to break it to you, but the important work of the Christian Action League is hypocrisy. It's too late, you already got our full attention.

To their credit, the group has updated their front page frequently over the weekend to address the issue head on, including links to mainstream news articles. Usually when something like this happens, websites stop updating or disappear entirely. As much as I disagree with their goals, this is refreshingly honorable behavior.

RIP Tammy Faye

The story of Tammy Faye tells us so much about corruption, redemption, the power of God and why Americans are such cool people.

Americans love redemption. Your life is not over if you commit some public scandal or even a horrible crime. You can survive and find new life if you are willing to accept the consequences of your actions and rebuild your life on an honest foundation. Very few people are willing to examine themselves with brutal frankness, and fewer still are willing to submit themselves with total spiritual openness to God and everybody. But Tammy Faye did just that and America embraced her for it.

When her life was ruined by the PTL scandal, it was right and good that she was the number one target of public mockery. She certainly earned it. And it was a whole lot of fun for all of us.

But then she got it. She did exactly what Jesus told us to do - love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. The entirety of proper Christian spiritual practice is contained in those eight words. That's the way she lived the rest of her life and by doing so gained a far more profound influence than she ever had.

I avoid reality tv as a rule, but I was hooked on the first season of The Surreal Life. Tammy Faye was such a compelling figure. Everybody loved her because she loved everybody. She could go into any crowd - gays, bikers, punk rockers, even the Chamber of Commerce - and immediately set them at ease with her, because she immediately accepted them for who they were.

Her ability to poke fun at herself without even the slightest trace of resentment spoke volumes about her repentance. She looked unflinchingly at her old corrupt self and laughed at her right along with us.

I will miss her. It sounds crazy now that I think about it this way, but my top priority in life is to be more like Tammy Faye. Loving, accepting, forgiving. By doing so, Tammy Faye was in turn loved, accepted and forgiven.

Friday, July 20, 2007

you are forced to pay for lobbying yourself for stuff you never wanted in the first place

One common inherently corrupt practice of government is giving money to advocacy groups which they then use to lobby the same government for more laws. Today's example is the unfolding scandal of the taxpayer funded UNC-Charlotte study deliberately designed to skew the public debate on light rail in Charlotte.

According to the linked article...

UNCC Chancellor Phil Dubois, who has been public in his support for light rail, said Monday that critics should stop attacking the university's cooperation with the chamber.

"If they have a problem with the study, they should criticize the study -- as opposed to how it was generated," Dubois said. "There isn't an e-mail that suggests we tried to influence the outcome of the study."

Earth to Dubois: how the study was generated *is* a fundamental criticism of the study itself. Organizations that have a stake in the result are, to put it kindly, highly unlikely to produce unbiased results.

From the article, "(UNCC official Dennis) Rash wrote that those polled could be asked if they believe light rail plays an important role in economic development. Potential voters could then be told about new tax dollars generated from development along the light-rail line, and asked whether that would change their opinions."

This is known in the industry as a "push poll." Such polls are by their very nature anti-scientific and considered utterly disreputable by anyone with a brain. Considering that there is no way for a respondent to verify a one sentence claim made in such a context - and in this case, one can easily verify that it is a lie, or at best a deliberately incomplete truth - any opinion measured by such practices is purely manufactured.

Setting aside for a moment the inherent corruption of buying a desired result with taxpayer money to influence public policy, everyone involved in this study at UNCC still needs to be fired immediately. It is shameful that we are paying the salaries of college professors and administrators who are so eager to teach their students such bad science.

If that's not enough, the cynicism of Dubois is revealed in this quote from an email to Rash:

"Why not just have Edd announce it has an initiative of the Institute 'in the public interest.' We have an obligation to serve as a forum for the debate of important public issues, yada, yada, yada."

Yeah that's the ticket. Creating fake science to tell lies using taxpayer money is sooooo much better than all that boring honest public debate of the issues.

Jim Black will look good in orange

What I just said below notwithstanding, new news on old scandals will give me the opportunity to say some things that have long been on my mind, such as my longstanding view expressed in this post's title.

Today's news on Jim Black shows how having power makes him believe that the law should be different for special citizens like himself. Here is a fellow who testified under oath that "I only have two drinks ever," and yet now he wants free treatment for alcoholism when he goes to jail. Apparently, the former House Speaker sees prison as an opportunity to go on welfare.

Earlier this week, Black asked that his sentence be delayed six weeks so he can have his choice of prison facilities. He still has no clue. Prison is supposed to be inconvenient, dumbass. They don't schedule an appointment, they just come to take you away. He obviously did not read the papers about Paris Hilton's most recent drunk driving escapades, including polls indicating over 90% of the population wanted her to serve her full sentence. That's because in this country we believe this crazy notion that the law should be the same for everybody. We're sick and tired of the rich and/or famous acting like the law should be kinder to them just because they are so damn special.

If anything, there should be extra time added to Jim Black's sentence for every clueless arrogant request he makes. A well connected guy like him is likely to be the inmate with the most cigarettes, so really he shouldn't worry too much about where he goes.

the evolving concept

There's a lot of blogging out there about political corruption, a whole lot. Since I made no attempt to research it before shooting my mouth off yesterday, I have little idea how much my efforts here are duplicating what's already being done.

But I have noticed one thing about most similar blogging - it is very much a partisan game. You have Democrats attacking Republicans and Republicans calling out Democrats, but on these blogs you will find little to nothing about corruption within one's own party. While most good material comes from such sources, this fundamental hypocrisy undermines this valuable work.

Here is a prejudice of mine: anyone who thinks there is any practical difference between Democrats and Republicans is at best a complete idiot. I mean, really stooopid. Deliberately stooopid. Lying to everyone beginning with yourself brand of stooopid. To think that one of these sides is better than the other requires a complete and willful ignorance of the most obvious reality.

Being a Libertarian, I am gleefully exempt from that. Longtime readers of my work know that I am keenly interested in exposing corruption within my own party. I'm quite comfortable with my own record on this topic.

Going forward, that's my interest. I am picking up the story in progress. So I have little to say right now about Jim Black or Mike Nifong or Meg Scott Phipps, unless there's something new to discuss. Even David Almond is soooo last week to me.

I am very interested in hearing from anyone who has information about corruption by public officials in NC. Here are some ground rules describing what is and is not part of my still evolving concept:

* I am not interested in covering anything without proof. Newspaper reports count as "proof" in this sense, in that someone has the goods.

* I am *not* interested in representing political opinions with which I happen to disagree as corrupt.

* I *am* interested in discussing activities of public officials at any level of government which violate the law or officially adopted ethics.

* I *am* interested in legislative practices which are inherently corrupt, even if universally accepted as "legal," such as a House speaker's "pocket veto" or the US Senate's tradition of placing secret "holds" on bills.

Again, no promises, but my current plan is to update this blog after my morning news reading on days when this offers me something new to report.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Still gettin' the Christian Action at age 74

As a born-again Christian myself, I waver between outrage and depression over those who use that label to force other people to live by their own twisted anti-Christian morality. Satan has definitely ensnared another such hypocrite, former State Representative, Cabarrus County Commissioner and President of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Rev. Coy Privette. Today the 74 year old Privette was charged with multiple counts of soliciting prostitution at least six times from 32-year-old Tiffany Denise Summers over the last year.

Thank God, criminals are generally very stupid people. If I am reading between the lines correctly, the way Rev. Privette was caught was he paid Ms. Summers twice by check, and then reported the checks as stolen. So not only did law enforcement have reason to find out what really happened with those checks, Rev. Privette crossed the one person in the world who he needed to keep his secret.

Like most public moralists, Rev. Privette apparently feels the world must be protected from his particular brand of evil. The group with a baldfaced Satanist lie for a name, the Christian Action League of NC, is on the warpath to keep you from drinking, gambling or even thinking about these things. Hot topics on their website include:

* railing against a law that would supposedly allow a non-profit to sell alcohol at fundraisers (having been raised Episcopalian, the notion of not having a cash bar at a charity fundraiser seems incomprehensible to me - unless it's an open bar);

* advocating laws against "fetal homicide" (which is just their way of getting a foot in the door of declaring fetuses to be legal persons so they can outlaw abortion);

* spouting nonsense about restricting advertising for the lottery (I hate the lottery too, and would root for a quick crash for any driver if they put it on the hood of their stock car, but jeez, what do you expect them to do?);

* more piling on Jim Black for his crimes while expressing confusion about how good Republican and very recently former Rep. David Almond could possibly have gotten into trouble (and since the media is avoiding the truth of this story like the plague, I thank God for bloggers like Left on 49 who are willing to publish the salacious details);

* and plenty of the bloviating over the usual hobgoblins of drunk driving, video poker and sex ed.

These people are the living representatives of Satan on Earth today. How they could twist the love and mercy offered to us by God and the redemption given to us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ into an unholy crusade to make sure only they are allowed to sin is beyond my imagination. I know, I know, this story is as old as recorded history, and yet I still just can't wrap my mind around how people can so deliberately miss the point.

Oh yeah, of course there is nothing up on their website decrying public officials who consort with prostitutes. So I guess that was OK all along.

And if it weren't embarrassing enough for Rev. Privette, wait until all his white Christian friends get a look at with whom he was consorting:

There just ain't no hiding place for sinners like Rev. Coy Privette. And before you give me any grief about that, I know I'm just as much a sinner as Rev. Privette or anyone else. But at least I know that the person that has to be protected from committing my particular sins is me, not everyone else.

Upcoming Radio Shows

I'm also keeping up with my radio appearances. Lee Wrights and I make a great team, lighting up the phone lines with outraged callers is our specialty. Fortunately, the majority seem to get worked up with us instead of at us. ;)

Thursday August 9th at 4.30pm EST Libertared Space hosted by the ultracool Angela Keaton. It's on in Austin Texas and all around the globe thanks to the glorious internet.

The very next day, Friday August 10th from 3-6pm, Lee and I will be guest hosting again for Matt Mittan on WWNC in Asheville. It's "free-for-all Friday" and we intend to deliver!

I've also been phoning in about once a month for an hour on the Jerry Hughes show on the Accent Radio Network with 22 affiliates across the country and half a dozen internets feeds. Jerry is a true patriot and a student of history so it is always a joy sharing time with him and his listeners.

Off to see the new Harry Potter movie with my sweetie. Be back this evening to talk about what is really on my mind today. Like that hypocrite slimebag Coy Privette, prostitute loving County Commissioner and public moralist.

Recent articles

I have published some at Liberty For All since the beginning of the year. I got a bee in my bonnet about the Ron Paul Nut Cult and wrote Ron Paul, what have you done for me lately? a few weeks back. It was a festival of illiteracy. I wrote it in a deliberately provocative style and very few people got it. I discovered the existence of the Ron Paul Nut Cult brigade, always looking to smite anyone who says anything that is less than worshipful about the candidate they have accepted as their personal savior. Read the comments all the way through, not only are they just so sad they will take you on a emotional rollercoaster, you can also learn a lot about what it takes to really tick me off.

Later I thought better of it and wrote the exact same column from a totally positive point of view and called it What can I do for Ron Paul?. Of course, the one person who offered substantive comment praised me for my change of heart. *sigh*

Early in the year I wrote Some thoughts about the Mission Statement which is very much Libertarian party business. So it's there in case you care what I think the Libertarian Party ought to be.

Someone else really twisted my ponytail with an offhand comment on a mailing list, and of course I am being an idiot by vastly increasing the chances he will find it by mentioning it here, but I am that kind of idiot that cares more about what I wrote than what people might think about it. The most annoying kind of bigotry for me at least is all those uptight white guys who are always on the lookout for racism and sexism, when in fact the non-white-guys are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, and have a much better sense of humor too.

I'm with my homeboy Toby Keith, "hate me if you want to/love me if you can." I care a lot about giving love and respect to my fellow humans, but I'm long past caring if I annoy you.

back in the saddle?

OK, so I am just an awful blogger. Thank my darling wife Pam, since I always have somebody to talk to who actually understands what I'm saying (most of the time), so I don't need this to get stuff off my chest.

And I'm making no promises now either. I know better than that. But I am thinking about a new concept for the NC Way.

One thing I just love about the Old North State is how much we do about corruption. Everybody hates it, sure, but we are sending a public official to jail about once a month these days in these here parts. God bless those citizens who won't sit back and just complain to their spouses when they spot corruption.

So if I do anything regularly with the NC Way in the near future, that's what I'll want to be writing about.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

i'm still here

Just a note to keep the blog open and declare my continuing existence. Something is coming soon. I can feel it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Irwin Schiff at Ft. Dix

Last time I spoke with my friend at FCI Ft Dix Don Meinshousen he told me he has a new neighbor there, Irwin Schiff. Don is concerned about Irwin's health, and rightly so - at his age and with his sentence, odds are Irwin will die in federal prison.

Irwin's mailing address is:

Irwin Schiff
Inmate# 08537-014
Box 2000 FCI Ft Dix
Ft Dix NJ 08640

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Why we'll (probably) never have a celebrity run for President

I'll eventually meander to my point. First there's the whole real life example that got me to thinking, plus I can't resist a detour through why I like term limits, and then I'll close with some necessary swearing just to prove how hip and culturally relevant I am.

There's an interesting debate going on at Hammer of Truth about the viability of the announced Presidential campaign of Doug Stanhope. They tell me Stanhope is a celebrity, although I haven't really heard of him. The kind of guy that you tell me where I've seen him and I say, oh yeah I think I know who you mean. I look at his face on his website and no bells ring. To test my cultural relevance, I checked the Billboard Hot 100 and would recognize three of the artists of the top five songs if I saw them on the street - better than I predicted - so maybe I am an average pop culture consumer.

Stanhope's announcement rubbed me a number of wrong ways. Yes I have officially achieved the state of old fuddy duddy - swearing in public communications offends me. It works for Enimem, but I doubt Mr. Mathers would consider running for President. If you can't get through a paragraph without getting bleeped, I don't want you representing my party.

Going out of your way to insult Jesus also is the mark of the loser. Now, you don't have to be a Christian to be a good public servant. I take great pride in recruiting not one but three Pagan priests to run for office here in NC. Not to mention the large number of openly atheist Libertarians I helped put on the ballot. It's everybody's country, not just for us Christians. But consider that fully 7/8ths of the voters self-identify as Christians. Then consider just how intensely stooopid it is for a candidate to insult them. I realized later that even more offensive to me than insulting my God is the implication that voters who "buy Jesus" are dumb. Anybody who is so arrogant as to openly say voters are dumb is automatically disqualified from serving in public office in my book.

But my problem really isn't with Stanhope. After all, he is a comedian just trying to do his job, even if I didn't laugh at this particular joke. And he did succeed in his secondary goal - I now know who he is. Doug is probably a great guy and I'm glad he is on our side. If your first myspace friend is Dave Attell, you are almost certainly my kind of people.

No, my problem is with otherwise intelligent people getting all excited about this campaign and trying to convince me that Stanhope's E-list celebrity status will somehow help the Libertarian Party. Some even invoke the name of Kinky Friedman to prove their point. Now that's just hype gone crazy. Kinky isn't just already a celebrity in Texas, he's a national icon. You might as well compare Stanhope's celebrity to William Henry Harrison's. It's just as relevant.

Now of course there is an obvious counterexample, Stanhope's friend and supporter Penn Jillette. Penn would be a fantastic candidate for us. He's 100 times more famous, already gets paid to articulate common sense stands on today's issues and can get through a speech without swearing. But he'll never run for President. If you don't believe me, there's an episode of Babylon 5 where he explains his position on the question in great detail.

The question reminds me of my old friend and boss Howie Rich, when Howie convinced me to change my position on term limits. Until then I took the purely theoretical Libertarian view that no citizens should be arbitrarily barred from public office, not even incumbents. But Howie pointed out that with career politicians the seniority system takes control of the legislative hierarchy. What incentive is there for someone who has earned success on their own merits in some other aspect of life to go into politics, where they have to toil away on the back bench for years and years just to get anywhere no matter how good they are? And you wonder how we ended up with a President who managed to lose money on both an oil company and a baseball team?

Later personal observation confirmed Howie's view for me. I found that it takes right about six years for the average NC state legislator to completely lose touch with anything that goes on outside their little building. Oh sure, some of them were that way before they went in and a blessed few manage to get through a whole career remembering who they serve. And now that some states have term limits, we can see that the program has delivered on its promises of the benefits of a citizen legislature. At least term limited legislators are much more likely to want to get out of town and back to their real lives, instead of just siting around indefinitely having fun spending other people's money because they have nothing better to do.

Of course we already have limited our President's terms. But the same principle explains why Penn Jillette will never run. Why the hell would he want to be POTUS when he already has a much better job? I know if I was a Vegas headliner I wouldn't be giving that up for nothin'.

Only one possible motive remains for any real celebrity to want to be our candidate. That person would have to be a zealot. Or put it nicely, someone who really believes in public service. Someone like Ralph Nader. Which gets us to another long held theory of mine - anyone who truly wants to be President is almost certainly too mentally unstable to be trusted with that much power. But that's a conundrum I am willing to live with if the candidate is credible enough.

We thought Harry Browne's bit of celebrity would help us. We found out he wasn't nearly famous enough. Aaron Russo is as famous or more than Doug Stanhope, but that wasn't enough to overcome our justifiable fear of putting a wild man at the top of our ticket.

Now, Doug Stanhope might be the perfect candidate for another long time pipedream of mine: the Fuck You! Party. "Want to send the politicians a message they can't ignore? Vote Fuck You!" If there's any chance to get the nonvoting half of the country back in the voting booths this is it, I'm telling you. I've done enough research to know there are absolutely no prohibitions against obscene party names in any state or federal laws regarding advertising or printing ballots, so you'd have 'em over a barrel if it ended up in court. One of those fun things I'll do when I win the lottery.

I'd be thrilled if we could get a real Libertarian with real celebrity and at least a modicum of gravitas to run for President. But I ain't holding my breath. In the next two years I expect to work for the best candidate available, whomever that might be.

Disclaimer: I am currently the Treasurer of the George Phillies campaign.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Kill this bill quickly I am tired of these bastards just screwing with us"

OK, so I am quoting my good friend and colleague Eric Smith, but he speaks for me when it comes to H88, the now lying sack of manure "Electoral Fairness Act."

The big story the media is missing is the *new* imposition of filing fees in this bill. That negative vastly outweighs the marginal benefit of the reduction in the retention requirement. That's hardly any help to any parties that can't get on the ballot in the first place. I hope the bill is just killed quickly and quietly in conference.

The positioning on this bill is a great example of just little legislators think of serving the people or doing the right thing. The positive Republican amendment failed on a straight party line vote, all Democrats against it except for Ellie Kinnaird. Four years ago, it was Republicans killing our bills while Democrats all rallied around them. That's because back then they were all freaked out about Libertarians getting on the ballot. Now they all know that after us, the Greens are next. Stupid Republicans. Stupid Democrats.

Sen. Dan Clodfelter's remarks to us are most telling. Now I don't want to tick Dan off because he is a truly decent guy who supported our bill. But he would never support the amendments we needed because in his estimation the bill would die in the House if they set it right. And I see that he didn't vote for the Berger amendment on the floor. So I guess that political expediency carries more coin than voting for what you believe is right in Raleigh.

And that's very sad, that even a decent fellow like Dan is so afraid to vote differently from his party. It just goes to show how powerful the influences are in that building, taking legislators away from serving the people and towards serving their party or other special interests.

Thank God for Ellie Kinnaird. If someone can get through years in that environment and still vote her conscience every time, then hope remains.

N.C. Senate leaves fairness out of Electoral Fairness Act

A press release from the NC Open Elections Coalition

House Bill 88 goes back to House with no improvements in signature requirements for third parties and independent candidates

RALEIGH: House Bill 88, the Electoral Fairness Act, passed the N.C. Senate today in a form that does nothing to improve citizen access to the state's ballots.

Despite two attempts to amend the bill back to reasonable signature requirements, House Bill 88 returns to the N.C. House with the state's current requirement for petition signatures intact. That requirement is equal to 2 percent of the votes cast in the last governor's race, or 69,734 signatures.

"Once again, the legislature leaves North Carolina with arguably the most burdensome ballot access restrictions in the nation," said Brian Irving, a Libertarian. "In terms of democratic access to the ballot, North Carolina and Alabama rank at the very bottom."

In its current form, the bill does lower the vote threshold to stay on the ballot from 10 percent to 2 percent of the vote cast for governor or president, a positive change if it holds up in conference in the House, but not the change the N.C. Open Elections Coalition was looking for.

"What good does it do us?" said Irving. "We can't stay on the ballot if we can't get on the ballot in the first place."

The bill also adds filing fees for third-party and independent candidates.

Improvements rejected by leadership

The Democratic leadership of the Senate once again voted down an amendment that would have lowered the signatures required to get on the ballot (to 1/2 percent of the votes cast for governor, or 17,434). The amendment was introduced by Minority Leader Phil Berger and championed by Deputy Minority Leader Tom Apodaca, Republican Andrew Brock and Republican Eddie Goodall, as well as by Democrat Ellie Kinnaird.

The vote on the amendment split on party lines (21-25), with Senator Kinnaird being the only Democrat to support opening the ballot. The bill itself passed unanimously.

"We owe the Republicans thanks," said Hart Matthews, Director of the North Carolina Green Party. "They may have been playing for the chance to split the liberal vote, but they could have chosen instead to support higher signature limits to keep all third parties off the ballot. They deserve thanks for speaking eloquently in support of democratic reforms and for supporting a lower vote threshold that would make it easier for Libertarians and others to stay on the ballot."

"On the other hand," said Matthews, "Democratic Senators Doug Berger and David Weinstein made completely nonsensical arguments about volunteer workers at polling places and the 'balkanization' of the Senate. The 48 states that have easier ballot access than we do don't have problems with legislative 'balkanization.' "

Democratic Senator Daniel Clodfelter, though he said he agreed with the Berger amendment, argued that the bill would die entirely in the House if it were to go back with lower signature limits and so urged the Senate to reject the amendment.

Electoral Fairness Act may go to conference, lawsuit active

The Senate leadership doubts it can get a vote of concurrence in the House, so the bill may end up in conference committee.

Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party of North Carolina and the North Carolina Green Party have brought suit against the state Board of Elections, alleging that the ballot access requirements are a breach of the state's constitutional guarantee of free elections.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ballot Access op-ed in News & Observer

That hard workin' Hart Matthews is still at it:

The Raleigh News & Observer is running our ballot access opinion piece smack in the middle of the page above the fold today.

Now we have a chance to get lots of letters published on the subject! If you have a minute, send letters in support of reducing ballot access signature limits to The letter limit is 200 words. There's lots of information in the piece and more on our website.

One important point that I couldn't fit into the opinion piece: Third parties cannot even run candidates for local partisan office (board of commissioners, e.g.) without collecting 69,734 verified signatures. Many legislators think House Bill 88 would only apply to state offices. They don't know we can't even run for county commission.

Thanks, folks!