You Need to Know This Term – “Sine Die”, Or How the NCGA Will Not Let Bad Bills Die

Can you identify these Latin terms and phrases?

  • “Carpe Diem” – Dead Poets Society
  • “E Pluribus Unum” – look at a dollar bill
  • “Et Cetera” – also known as “etc.”
  • “Et tu, Brute?” – read some Shakespeare
  • “Fac simile” – just the fax
  • “In memoriam” – can be saddening
  • “Magna Cum Laude” – not on my diploma
  • “Pater familias” – watch Oh Brother! Where Art Thou?
  • “Pro bono” – sounds legal
  • “Semper fidelis” – Marines
  • “Terra Firma” – you are hopefully standing on it
  • “Wingardium Leviosa” – ask any Potter fan

And…

  • “Sine Die” – What the hell is that? Just wait

What do these people have in common?

  • Paul “Skip” Stam
  • Bob Rucho
  • Tom Apodaca
  • Buck Newton
  • Fletcher Hartsell
  • Daniel Soucek

All of these incumbents are not seeking reelection to the North Carolina General Assembly after this term – a term that actually ends at the end of 2016, not at the end of the summer session of the NCGA.

When the General Assembly adjourned this weekend, it did not mean that these lawmakers’ tenure of havoc ended. Why?

Because the House adjourned “SINE DIE” which if you know your Latin means “without day”. According to a post from the great public school advocate Yevonne Brannon, “To adjourn an assembly sine die is to adjourn it for an indefinite period. A legislative body adjourns sine die when it adjourns without appointing a day on which to appear or assemble again.”

It means they did not set a return date. They can reconvene at any time before public schools go back to classes. They can reconvene at any time before the November General Elections.

This General Assembly has already shown us that it will meet in a special session; that’s where we got HB2.

This General Assembly and its leadership has already shown us that it will meet behind closed doors without public debate.

This General Assembly has shown us that it will hold press conferences but not give the press the material to review in order to ask important questions.

This General Assembly has shown us that it will hold midnight votes to discourage floor debates.

And do not think that the same people who have done the above will not come back to take care of business that they have tabled because of the bad publicity it has garnered specifically the following:

  • Background Checks for Teachers
  • The Math Bill
  • Charter School Funding
  • TABOR, also known as HB3
  • HB2 fund to fight the Feds

This is not a group that will easily just let those items stay on the table for the 2017 session.

Brush up on your Latin!

Fifty Shades of No Way – New SBOE Member Todd Chasteen’s First Book To Challenge

Now that Todd Chasteen has now been appointed to the NC State Board of Education, I would like to go ahead and ask that he and others on the board read the latest installment of the Fifty Shades of … book for possible inclusion in schools, or at least in the dialogue of what is happening in North Carolina.

I will offer only this table of contents to the SBOE and Mr. Chasteen in deference to any delicate sensibilities toward works of literature that actually display and describe the human condition through creative use of language, strong diction, vivid imagery, incredible detail, and varying syntax.

I must admit that the other books in this series really are not that well written and have one driving motif, but I would ask that this book, Fifty Shades of No Way, be investigated as it does accurately portray the climate and terrain of the Old North State.

Here is the list of chapter titles. There are 50 –Get it? Fifty Shades of No Way. In each chapter there is deception, manipulation, vivid imagery, hurt feelings, but most of all in each one of them someone is getting screwed pretty hard and often, mainly the citizens of North Carolina.

Enjoy

  1. HB2 – Bathroom Bill
  2. HB3 – 5.5% income tax cap – TABOR
  3. Medicaid Expansion Denied
  4. Voter ID Law
  5. Gerrymandering of Districts
  6. Duke Coal Ash Ponds
  7. Fracking Industry Without Oversight
  8. Teacher Pay still at the bottom tier in the nation
  9. Removal of due-process rights for new teachers
  10. Tom Ross Replaced With Margaret Spellings
  11. Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed for new teachers
  12. Bad Teacher Evaluation Systems
  13. Push for Merit Pay
  14. “Average” Raises and neglecting veteran teachers
  15. Central Office Allotment Cuts
  16. Rainy Day Fund That Can’t be Accessed Unless The Apocolypse Comes
  17. Religious Freedom Bill
  18. Attacks on Teacher Advocacy Groups (NCAE)
  19. Revolving Door of Standardized Tests
  20. Less Money Spent per Pupil in Traditional Public Schools
  21. Remove Caps on Class Sizes
  22. Jeb Bush School Grading System
  23. Opportunity Grants Expansion
  24. Allowing Private and Religious Schools To Profit From Tax Payer Money
  25. Charter School Growth Without Regulation
  26. Virtual Schools Deregulation
  27. Achievement School Districts
  28. Reduction of Teacher Candidates in Colleges
  29. Elimination of Teaching Fellows Program
  30. Governor’s Inability to Defend Policies to the Press
  31. Governor’s Unwillingness to Defend Policies to the Press
  32. Attacks on Teacher Assistants
  33. Elimination of State Employees Rights to File Discrimination Suits in State Courts
  34. Pissing Off Bruce Springsteen
  35. Using God and Jesus as Political Crutches
  36. Gov. Dan Forest’s request to have Charter School Report to be Rewritten
  37. Buck Newton Keeping Our State Straight
  38. House Bill 539 – Giving Charters Money For Services They Do Not Provide
  39. Rowan-Salisbury Pepper Spray Proposal
  40. Chad Barefoot’s Appt. to Senate Education Committee Chair
  41. Teach For America Expansion Plans
  42. SB 873 – Access To Affordable College Education Act
  43. Clyde Edgerton and New Hanover County’s Superintendent
  44. What the Teacher Working Conditions Survey Really Said
  45. Arresting of Teachers Who Protested and Saying They Were At Fault
  46. McCrory’s Didaskalithedemosiophobia – Yep, That’s What I said – Look it up on my Blog
  47. SB867 – Background Checking Bill
  48. Appointing People Who Are Not Qualified to the SBOE
  49. Special Sessions of the General Assembly
  50. Surreptitious Midnight Meetings to Craft Bills That Only Benefit a Few

TABOR – A Tourniquet Around the Bloodlines of Our Republic

TABOR. To many in the NCGA it is called the TAxpayer Bill of Rights. Makes it sound like it truly benefits those in our state. It doesn’t. It’s just another catchy acronym that acts like a Trojan horse for something more destructive.

Acronyms are easy to shape and easier to sound beneficial. However, the “benefits” of this piece of legislation would be far reaching and would take years to heal from.

In reality TABOR is a Terribly Awful Breach Of Representation, a Totally Asinine Bit Of Reform, and a Truly Abusive Bit Of Rubbish in which people are being forced to Turn All Backs On Reality. It’s a Tremendously Atrocious Bunch Of Refuse Taken Amidst the Bowels Of Rapacity and passed off with a Total Assortment of Baloney Or Rigmarole.

It’s a metaphorical tourniquet, a Tourniquet Around the Bloodlines of Our Republic.

Just think of a tourniquet, a device that constricts blood flow to a limb or extremity. Only in times of medical emergency should a tourniquet be used. Maybe for a poisonous snakebite or a bloody wound. Sometimes one is used to allow for blood to be taken for testing and health purposes.

But one does not place a tourniquet on an arm or leg for kicks and giggles. There are consequences because blood is the very life force that carries oxygen and nutrients to the very parts of the body that need them. Cutting off blood flow has deleterious effects. Bones weaken and muscles atrophy.

That’s not good for a growing body.

Now think of a metaphorical tourniquet, one in which a constricting element is placed on a part of society that cuts off resources and funding for those who are most invested.

GOP leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly are pushing for a proposal to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would cap the income tax rate a 5.5% (currently it is 10%).

That proposal is a political tourniquet, pure and simple. And just as limited blood flow would cause harm to the skeletal system in a body, this measure would cause our state’s infrastructure to slowly disintegrate.

Chris Fitzsimon puts it very bluntly in his latest “The Follies” from June 17, 2016 (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2016/06/17/the-follies-253/).  He states,

“As the N.C Budget & Tax Center points out, that cap would cut off a vital source of revenue that the state needs and make it virtually impossible for future lawmakers to use the income tax to increase state investments, even in times of emergencies.

It also locks in place the massive tax cuts for the wealthy passed in 2013 that will cost more than $2 billion a year when fully in effect, more than the entire budget of the community college system and early childhood programs combined.

The new lower tax cap could threaten the state’s coveted AAA bond rating and force increases in the state sales tax and could lead local governments to raise property taxes and fees.  It’s a terrible idea that threatens funding for public schools, health care, and environmental protections and makes decisions for future members of the General Assembly that will be elected by the voters just like the current members were.”

That’s scary to think about. The very fabric, the very sinews of society like schools, healthcare, and environmental protections would be instantly jeopardized and it would take years to recover as part of the GOP’s plan is to change the constitution of the state.

Remember that all three of those areas (schools, healthcare, and environment) have already been hazardously affected in the last three years here in North Carolina.

Per pupil expenditures are lower, charter school growth is uncontrolled, and teacher pay is still low despite what the current administration wants to boast.

Medicaid expansion was denied and we as a state are still paying into a system that benefits other states but not ours because of political ideology and a dislike for the current president.

The fracking industry is being given an open door and permission to do whatever it wants. Duke Energy’s coal ash spills have still gone relatively unpunished.

Those three areas alone form a large part of our state’s infrastructure, or rather the skeleton of the state’s body. When these areas are harmed, then the need to help them heal is paramount. When bones and muscles have been damaged in a body, then one does not place a tourniquet on the wounded limb. You make sure that blood is flowing amply into the affected area.

It promotes healing. It promotes health.

That is unless those who want to place the tourniquet on those parts of society want to create a situation where amputation is the only option in the end. And while we could not literally amputate the public school system or the environment, we can do the political equivalent – privatize them. It would allow a few select people to profit over the very institutions that our state is supposed to provide.

Think about the effects on K-12 public education, community colleges, the public university system, public assistance programs, health care, correctional facilities, transportation, economic development, parks and recreation, environmental projects, state police forces, and aid to local governments.

You place a tourniquet on those items and you stagnate the growth of a state whose population is growing. And when the bone structure cannot handle the weight of a growing body, then… well you can imagine.

Proponents of the amendment to cap income taxes will tout that it means more money for people to spend on their own. It would allow for people to have more choices within their power. But unless you can send your students to private schools, have your own libraries and media outlets, pay for all out of pocket medical expenditures, hire your own security team, have your own environmental control, or set up your own recreational facilities, then you may be out of luck.

Even John Hood of the John Locke Foundation, a self-professed “conservatarian,” expounds on the role of the state in keeping a strong infrastructure. He says in his op-ed “How to read this column” printed in the June 19th edition of the Winston-Salem Journal (http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/john-hood-how-to-read-this-column/article_1b7789ac-1fcf-5389-a6be-eca653d233bc.html) ,

“So I believe government should (and always will) exist to protect individual rights and to finance certain core services that, because of collective-action problems, will not be adequately provided through purely voluntary means. At the state and local level, those services include public safety and health, education and some infrastructure.”

And to place a cap on state income tax as being proposed would hurt the ability for the state to finance those “core services”.

Ironic that people who are pushing for this cap like Sen. Tom Apodaca, Sen. Jerry Tillman, Sen. Bob Rucho, and Sen. Bill Rabon are public officials elected by the public who seem more interested in placing a tourniquet on the very services that they are sworn to protect and provide the public.

Actually, it isn’t ironic, but rather consistent and predictable.

Just look at what has happened in the last three years here in North Carolina.

So tell Tom Apodaca, Buck, Or Rucho that this is nothing more than surreptitious politics. Let Tillman, Andrew Brock Or Rabon know this is not good.
And vote it down if it comes up in November.

Open Letter to Sen. Buck Newton – Damn Straight!

Dear Sen. Newton,

I read with great disappointment reports of your anti-gay sentiments at a pro-HB2 rally in Raleigh on April 26th.

According to an Associated Press release in the Winston-Salem Journal you were quoted as inciting a crowd with the following words: “Tell your friends and family who had to work today what this is all about and how hard we must fight to keep our state straight.”

As the Republican nominee for Attorney General of North Carolina, it seems odd that you would say statements that contradict the very national and state constitutions that you would vow to protect if elected and claim to abide by now as a lawyer and public servant.

In case you forgot in your passionate defense of an unlawful piece of legislature, citizens are considered equal in the eyes of the law whether they are straight, gay, or transgender.

You should best know that your words were discriminatory. In fact, they could be considered homophobic.

As an elected official from District 11, your duty is to all of the citizens who either voted for you, against you, or refrained from voting in the past three elections for your seat. For that matter, you are accountable to all North Carolinians no matter their orientation, creed, race, or religion. That’s because you hold a state office and are seeking another.

Would you say that you only served the “straight” people in your district? Would you say that you would only serve the “straight” people of North Carolina? Do you as a potential Attorney General of North Carolina really view HB2 as a constitutionally sound law? Do you not see the recent ruling in Virginia concerning a transgender teen as a sign of the demise of HB2? These are not rhetorical questions. They deserve an answer, one that is not clouded with campaign talk and vitriolic rhetoric.

A viable candidate for Attorney General does not run on a platform that is discriminatory. That is antithetical to the very principles of equality in the eyes of the law.

I myself am a government employee, a traditional public high school teacher to be exact. No matter who walks into my classroom, no matter who is on my roll or asks me for support with their academics, I am bound to help them. It’s my job. If a student is gay, straight, transgender, black, white, Christian, Muslim, or atheist, my job does not change.

Nor should yours. And you took a vow.

My commitment to do my job is not limited by someone else’s constitutionally protected sense of self.

Nor should yours. Because you took a vow.

Ironically, when confronted about your words concerning the “straightness” of North Carolina, you backtracked saying:

“It means keep men out of the ladies’ room…. I think the silly season is upon us and I think this whole effort by the Democratic Party is to be expected. I never mentioned gays or anyone. So I’m not quite sure how they made that leap. Maybe they’re being a little sensitive.”

Well, it’s not a leap. One of the definitions of the word “straight” on sites like vocabulary.com or thefreedictionary.com refers to sexual orientation. To say with a “straight face” that the word “straight” is not connoted with sexual orientation is just “straight up” wrong. So while you thought you “set the record straight” by looking “straight into” the eyes of reporters, you simply did not “get your facts straight”.

What North Carolinians need is “straight talk” and not someone who can’t “shoot straight”.

Besides, our state borders are not straight. Our highways are not straight. Out mountains do not point straight up into the air. Our coastlines are not straight. Our rivers do not flow straight.

In fact, they are curvy and have their own shapes and paths. They are diverse, like the very people you claim to want to represent.

And that’s the “straight truth.”