Saturday News: A principled stand

SEN. NATASHA MARCUS REFUSES TO PLAY BALL WITH REPUBLICAN MAPMAKERS: Republicans said they offered Marcus a chance to draw her own district without a double-bunk. And she did so on Tuesday night, creating a district that met certain tests in the legislature’s self-imposed redistricting criteria better than the GOP version of the map. But she never submitted the amendment Wednesday morning during the Senate vote. Marcus and Sen. Dan Blue said Republicans, specifically Sen. Paul Newton, told them Wednesday morning that the only way they’d accept an amendment saving Marcus is if Democrats agreed to include the same version of a southern Mecklenburg district that Democrats have previously said is an example of gerrymandering. “They insisted, in other words, that we endorse their gerrymandering in order to save my place in the Senate. We would not agree to that deal. The need for fair maps in NC is too important,” Marcus said. They always have a self-serving agenda, and it's time voters took notice.

NC SUPREME COURT IS AT AN ETHICAL CROSSROADS: The question now is whether Justice Tamara Barringer, who was a state senator when the General Assembly approved the two amendments, and Justice Phil Berger Jr., whose father is a named defendant in the case because he leads the Senate Republican majority, should be on the panel hearing the case. The NAACP and its legal team asked the full court to recuse both justices after getting no indication in the lead-up to trial that they'd recuse themselves. In September, the court asked the NAACP and the lawmakers they're suing to file legal briefs outlining the court's powers and options on recusal. Those briefs were filed this week. The NAACP argues recusal should be decided by the entire court. It's also calling for a transparent process to replace years of tradition, with justices recusing themselves without explanation. "The absence of a clear, transparent, and consistent process to govern recusal in the North Carolina Supreme Court undermines constitutional order," the NAACP's legal team argued in its brief. "Litigants have a constitutional right to a fair tribunal, yet our highest appellate court currently has no system to ensure that right is guaranteed." Recusing is not a radical concept; elected (and appointed) officials do it every day. But the honor system only works until it doesn't, and these two need to step back and skip this case.

WE GOT NO BUDGET, BUT WE HAVE TIME FOR SPORTS GAMBLING BILL: Senate legislation to authorize and regulate sports gambling in North Carolina reemerged in the House on Thursday, as a committee voted to advance the measure with support that doesn't cut neatly along party lines. The legislation attempts to take betting that bill supporters say already occur within North Carolina's borders through offshore online websites or local bookies and control them through state licensing, regulation and taxation. “This is something that we can’t ignore. It’s already here,” said Rep. Jon Hardister, a Guilford County Republican who helped shepherd the Senate measure through the House Commerce Committee in a 12-4 vote. “We need to establish the framework, we need to derive the revenue.” The measure, which the Senate already approved in August with bipartisan support, must still go through three other House committees before it could reach the House floor. “It’s got a long way to go,” said Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincoln County Republican and another bill manager, adding that there was no strategy to rush the measure through in the waning days of this year’s legislative session. If it stalls, the bill would still be eligible for consideration when the legislature reconvenes next year. *sigh*

HEIDI HENNINK-KAMINSKI WILL BE INTERIM DEAN OF UNC J-SCHOOL: Hugh Morton Distinguished Professor Heidi Hennink-Kaminski will become the interim dean of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media starting Jan. 1, according to an announcement from the journalism school on Friday. Hennink-Kaminski joined the faculty in 2006 and is currently the senior associate dean for graduate studies at the journalism school. She teaches courses in marketing and strategic communication, and her academic research focuses on interdisciplinary health communication. “We thank Dean King for a decade leading an era of great change and progress for our school,” Hennink-Kaminski said the announcement. “I’m honored to step into this role of working with faculty and staff colleagues to help manage our school through this time of transition and opportunity.” Current Hussman Dean Susan King announced she was stepping down from her role in August. King has been the dean of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media for 10 years, and plans to remain on the faculty. UNC School of Information and Library Science Dean Gary Marchionini is chairperson of the search committee to finding a new journalism school dean. Alongside Tennessee-based search firm Buffkin/Baker, the committee will continue to seek a permanent dean.

JUDGE NOT GOING TO LET TRUMP HIDE JAN 6 DOCUMENTS: A federal judge appeared ready to side Thursday with Congress and the Biden White House against former president Donald Trump’s effort to block the release of hundreds of pages of White House records sought by a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan said she might curb some “unbelievably broad” requests for records about Trump’s activities and communications leading up to the attempt by rioting Trump supporters as lawmakers met to confirm the 2020 presidential election, such as polling and campaign communication dating to April. But the judge indicated the power to assert executive privilege claimed by Trump to withhold the records from Congress ultimately rests with the current president, Joe Biden, who has waived privilege and approved their release. When a current and former president disagree, courts ought to defer to the incumbent, she suggested. Trump on Oct. 18 sued the chairman of the House’s Jan. 6 select committee and the head of the National Archives to block the handover of executive branch records sought by the panel, which has also issued subpoenas to four top aides including former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and adviser Stephen K. Bannon. At least he didn't make cassette tapes of his meetings. Or did he...



I like her.

Natasha is one of those lawmakers who listen and pay attention to the words of people, even lunatics like me. ;)