What Should Really Be “Special” in North Carolina

special-1

From Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary:

Definition of special

  1. :  distinguished by some unusual quality; especially :  being in some way superior
  2. :  held in particular esteem
  3. a :  readily distinguishable from others of the same category :  uniquethey set it apart as
    b :  of, relating to, or constituting a species :  specific
  4. :  being other than the usual :  additionalextra
  5. :  designed for a particular purpose or occasion

Over the last year, the North Carolina General Assembly has used five “special sessions” to craft policy and law that has done some rather “nonspecial” things.

They have been called by people who think themselves “special” to create “especially” bad legislation for “special” reasons to make others feel not-so-“special” and unequal.

Those “special sessions” are certainly “designed for a particular purpose or occasion” and are “readily distinguishable from others of the same category” called by people who hold themselves in “held in particular esteem” in order to make others feel like they are “other than the usual.”

In holding themselves as “being in some way superior,” they have distorted what should really be “special” in North Carolina such as:

Protecting “Specials” in Public Schools – Sen. Chad Barefoot’s championing of measures that would allow much needed flexibility to overcome rigid class size requirements is yet another example of why public school advocates view many lawmakers as hypocritical, piously partisan, and “especially” unrepresentative of their office. Without such flexibility, school systems will have to consider eliminating valuable physical education and arts classes (known as “specials”) or with fewer resources, “especially” in rural areas.

Fully Funding Teacher Assistants for All Public Schools, Especially for Special Education Classrooms– It is no “special” secret that cutting teacher assistant positions has been on the table in many of the NC General Assembly education discussions. But doing so would have incredibly “unspecial” Fewer teacher assistants for early grades “especially” limit what can be accomplished when teachers are facing more cuts in resources and more students in each classroom. For students who need extra modifications, teacher assistants can mean more than something “special.”

Special Elections – The first “special session” of 2016 was to deal with the gerrymandered districts that were intentionally drawn by the very NC General Assembly that considers itself so “special.” They were declared unconstitutional, meaning that those very people who are calling future “special” sessions to make “especially” heinous policies like HB2 to make others feel not-so-“special” are actually not very valid in many people’s eyes. We need to have those “Special Elections” to democratically regain a hold of this state.

Make All People Special – Every NC citizen who has been marginalized by lack of Medicaid expansion, tainted water, Voter ID intimidation, gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination, and other dehumanizing measures to allow for others to profit should not be continue to be disregarded.

Those in power in Raleigh need to stop thinking of themselves as so “special” and begin to think of all North Carolinians as “special.”

Sen. Ralph Hise’s Huge, Humongous, Heaping Hummock of Hypocrisy and Hubris

Gov. Cooper has no constitutional role in redistricting, and we have no order from the courts to redraw maps by his preferred timeline. This is a clear political stunt meant to deter lawmakers from our work on raising teacher pay, providing relief to the communities affected by Hurricane Matthew and putting money back into the pockets of middle-class families.” – Joint Statement, June 7, 2017 concerning Gov. Roy Cooper asking for a special session to redraw districts in North Carolina declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States.

That joint statement was made by two lawmakers who helped lead the redistricting in 2011 that led to the ruling just recently passed by SCOTUS – one of whom is Sen. Ralph Hise.

Hisemug-214x300

Furthermore, the above quote might be the richest, most potentially fertilizing statement made in the current legislative session when one considers the speakers, the subject, the audience, and the context.

Sen. Ralph Hise should be no stranger to special sessions. He has gleefully been a part of at least three in 2016 that were so politically motivated that the rest of the country looked at North Carolina in disbelief. The March 2016 special session brought us the economically disastrous HB2 bathroom bill that targeted the LGBTQ community unfairly under the guise of nonexistent transgender assaults in public restrooms.

Then there were those two end-of-2016 special sessions that proved that the GOP controlled NC General Assembly was hell-bent on making sure that the democratically elected governor did not have as much power as his predecessors did.

And Hise said they were there to make sure we were taking care of those hurt by Hurricane Matthew.

But wait. Sen. Hise is also the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Elections who currently faces charges of “pocketing” money from his own campaign (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/05/09/breaking-senate-elections-committee-chair-violates-disclosure-law-suspected-excess-payments/#sthash.WPouXpgI.3b7ZgFWz.dpbs). And he was also key in putting a provision in the Senate budget to stop SNA food assistance benefits that are funded federally for over 130,000 people in the state.

So as far as political stunting is concerned, Sen. Ralph Hise would certainly know it if he saw it, but it would be a huge, humongous, heaping hummock of hypocrisy and hubris for him to even suggest that of Cooper as the governor asks for a special session to address the findings of the highest court of the land which in the last month has issued three rulings that have cast North Carolina as the most racially gerrymandered state in the union.

However, if Hise wanted to exchange the hypocrisy for honesty and the hubris for some humility then he might have hummed these words:

We have been attempting to limit Gov. Cooper’s constitutional role in redistricting with our own gerrymandered majority’s special sessions because we so stupidly passed a discrimination bill that ruined Pat McCrory’s chances of being reelected, and we have no explicit order from the courts to redraw maps by his preferred timeline even though some of the people who are trying to limit his constitutional role may actually be unconstitutionally elected. This is a clear political stunt by us meant to deter lawmakers who actually serve the citizens of North Carolina from our work under the red herrings of raising teacher pay, providing relief to the communities affected by Hurricane Matthew and putting money back into the pockets of middle-class families when we actually are crafting more policies to alienate people and putting money back in the pockets of those who have put money in our pockets.