Berger & Moore testify in racial and gender bias lawsuit

Whitewashing your staff can be a costly venture:

House Speaker Tim Moore answered questions on Tuesday in a Wake County courtroom from lawyers for ex-Fiscal Research Division director Marilyn Chism and for the state. Senate leader Phil Berger testified on Monday.

Chism is a black woman who alleges she was forced out of the job after two years in 2011. Chism, who worked for the General Assembly for 13 years, contends she was pushed out by white men who ran the House and Senate, even as white men in other legislative divisions kept their leadership positions. She wants the federal judge hearing the case to declare gender or racial bias occurred and to award her monetary damages.

Republicans really don't have a leg to stand on here. They fired her either because she was a black woman, or because her research developed estimates that laws they wanted to pass were too costly to justify. Think about it. Republicans whined for years (decades?) that Democrats were not fiscally cautious enough, and ended up overspending because they failed to properly project costs. But one of the first things they do after taking over the NCGA is fire somebody for doing just that:

Wednesday News: Safe zone?

GOP EXPELLED JOURNALISTS TO CREATE LOUNGE WHERE LAWMAKERS CAN HIDE: After kicking the media out of their longtime press room in the Legislative Building and banishing them to a corner of the basement, officials have finally converted the former press room into a legislative hideaway. Reporters have dubbed the couch- and art-filled room, which can only be accessed by lawmakers and isn't open to the public, the "teachers lounge." Outside of the lounge, not much occurred Tuesday as the House didn't hold session and the Senate took up only a couple of bills. One issue creating a rift among elected officials, however, is a proposed casino near Charlotte that the South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation wants to build. North Carolina Republican U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis are co-sponsoring a bill in Congress to make it happen, while 38 state senators have written to a U.S. Senate committee to oppose the measure.

Tuesday News: A taxing proposition


PROPOSED 10% PROPERTY TAX INCREASE IN WAKE COUNTY DRAWS FIRE: While some asked for more money for schools, most speakers at Monday’s public hearings questioned a nearly 10% property tax rate increase in Wake County’s proposed budget. The anti-tax speakers — some holding homemade signs and wearing American-themed costumes — called on Wake County leaders to reject County Manager David Ellis’ proposed 6.36-cent tax-rate increase. Ellis’ $1.47 billion spending plan would raise the county tax rate from 65.44 cents to 71.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value. That increase includes 3.8 cents to fund the education and parks bonds backed by voters this past fall. Wake County is trying to cover the failures of the state legislature’s unfunded mandates, said Kristin Beller, president of the Wake County chapter of the N.C. Association of Educators.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The party of dirty tricks is at it again:

Every single Republican was present, so the only reason to postpone the vote is to wait until more Democratic absences. Inexcusable abuse of both the system and the participants.

Nantahala old-growth trees in jeopardy of being cut down

Some people can't see the individual trees for the forest:

The U.S. Forest Service plans to harvest the majority of trees at 16 sites in Nantahala National Forest beginning next year as part of its Southside Project.

Conservation organizations argue the trees at several of these sites represent exceptionally older and rarer growth than the Forest Service has recognized and are calling for the project to be withdrawn or revised after the Forest Service completes the revision of its land management plan for the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests in Western North Carolina, a draft of which is expected later this year.

Before you jump to any conclusions, this is one of those issues where there might not actually be a "bad guy" to oppose. Forests are more than just a collection of trees, they are ecosystems, supporting life in various forms. And in order to adapt to climate change, the types of trees growing there might need to change, as well. All that being said, a tree that has survived for 200 years should be recognized and preserved:

Monday News: Welcome to Gilead

PERSONAL STORIES OF RAPE TOLD DURING DEBATE OF SC'S FETAL HEARTBEAT BILL: A bill was being debated that would ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected; Mace, a Republican lawmaker, wanted to add an exception for rape and incest. When some of her colleagues in the House dismissed her amendment — some women invent rapes to justify seeking an abortion, they claimed — she could not restrain herself. “For some of us who have been raped, it can take 25 years to get up the courage and talk about being a victim of rape,” Mace said, gripping the lectern so hard she thought she might pull it up from the floor. “My mother and my best friend in high school were the only two people who knew.” As one Republican legislature after another has pressed ahead with restrictive abortion bills in recent months, they have been confronted with raw and emotional testimony about the consequences of such laws. Female lawmakers and other women have stepped forward to tell searing, personal stories — in some cases speaking about attacks for the first time to anyone but a loved one or their closest friend.

Four stories of organizing

I used to be an organizer. That was my profession. I'm not any more. Those jobs are largely centered in and around Raleigh, DC, and other major cities and I'm sticking to Winston-Salem. I'm still an activist though. In fact, just last week I led the charge with the help of some great people in officially organizing the LGBTQ Democrats of Forsyth County. It was actually a year in the making of conversations and relationship building. I thought that was important in 2019, 50 years after Stonewall, and ahead of the 2020 elections.

I've been doing some writing this weekend. I don't know if anyone would enjoy my stories of organizing. I'm sure bits and pieces of them have appeared on Blue NC before over the years in real time. Memories ebb and flow over time, and like all good stories they change a little with each retelling, but I thought there was some value in writing a few of these down as best I remembered them. Maybe stories have a place on a blog. Let me know what you think. Maybe I'll write out some more. I have a lot of them.


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