Friday, October 21, 2011

Groups plan to challenge districts

A coalition of N.C. groups is poised to file suit over new Republican-drawn voting districts as early as next month, a move that could delay the 2012 primary elections.

The groups, including the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Democracy North Carolina, are waiting to see if the U.S. Justice Department or a federal court approves the plans drawn by GOP lawmakers.

The deadline for Justice to rule on new congressional and legislative voting districts is Nov. 2.

"Our organization is concerned about the way the plans are essentially segregating and promoting segregation of voters in ways not consistent with the Voting Rights Act," says Bob Hall, director of Democracy North Carolina.

A challenge has been expected ever since lawmakers approved the plans over the objections of critics.

"I don't think it's any big secret that we’re going to challenge the maps," says Chris Ketchie, a policy analyst for the Southern Coalition. "The only secret is how we’re going to challenge them."
Legal challenges delayed N.C. elections in 1998 and 2002. And no congressional district in the country has been litigated more than Democrat Mel Watt's 12th, the source of four cases that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Erskine Bowles for President?

They call it part parlor game, part reporting assignment. Politico has launched a presidential race of its own featuring none of the announced candidates, or President Obama.

"The public has had it with Washington and conventional politics," write editor Jim Vandehei and reporter Mike Allen. "It has lost trust and respect in the conventional governing class ... Is there a person in politics, business or entertainment who could harness the public's hunger for something new, different and inspiring?"

To start the ball rolling, they came up with five names: former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles of Charlotte, Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers, CIA Director David Petraeus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Here's part of what they say about Bowles: "Many voters seem open to, if not hungry for, a real discussion about tough changes. Ask Republicans and Democrats alike to name a serious and responsible thinker who could lead this discussion and the name Erskine Bowles often tops the list.

"Bowles, 66, is far from an inspirational figure. In fact, he can be as dull as a butter knife in public settings. But he knows budgets, and numbers, and tough choices (he's the man who asked Dick Morris to resign in the Clinton years) and, unlike most, has slapped his name on ideas that upset leaders of both parties but excite deficit hawks on both sides.

"The Bowles pitch would rest on a rarity in modern campaigns: a very specific proposal for the tough budget choices the country should make. He came up with a truly bipartisan plan that took a real whack at America's long-term deficits, only to see the plan abandoned by Obama, who had appointed him to make those choices in the first place.

"The options outlined by Bowles and former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson were not the usual nips, tucks and other plastic surgery but, instead, clear and often painful cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs. The Simpson-Bowles plan uses a mix of spending cuts ($3 trillion) and tax increases ($1 trillion) to do what many of members of both parties, if given truth serum, would say Washington needs to do: save at least $4 trillion over the next decade."

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Democratic dirty tricks?

Many members of Mecklenburg County's executive committee got a postcard Saturday, just before their scheduled meeting to endorse candidates for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board.

"CEC DEMOCRATIC MEETING POSTPONED" it read. "We apologize for the short notice, and will advise you once a new date has been set."

But the meeting wasn't postponed. The cards, stamped but not postmarked, were an apparent attempt to dampen turnout.

"It's definitely a dirty trick," said party chair Aisha Dew. "It's definitely someone who's not associated with the party who's trying to stop the meeting."

Despite Card-gate, around 160 members of the 300-member committee still showed up, a normal turnout.

"Oddly enough, under the circumstances, we still had a great turnout," said Dew. The party is trying to investigate the matter.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Foxx campaign rejects another debate

It looks like Charlotte voters will have just one chance to see their mayoral candidates debate this month.

The campaign of Democratic Mayor Anthony Foxx has turned down another offer to debate Republican Scott Stone.

Stone's campaign manager, Jessica Wood, extended the offer today in an email to Foxx and his campaign manager, Michael Halle. She said an Oct. 26 forum to which both had been invited was canceled, opening the date for a debate. She said Dave Wagner of WCNC had agreed to moderate a debate that would have been held at UNC Charlotte.

And if that date didn't work, she laid out six others this month as alternatives, including two Sundays.

"Unfortunately our schedule will not allow us to participate on such short notice," Halle emailed in reply. "Sunday mornings are reserved for church and Sunday evenings for family time. The other dates we have previously scheduled."

Halle said Foxx had never confirmed the Oct. 26 forum. Most of the other joint appearances are forums that will include city council candidates. The only direct face-off will be an Oct. 21 League of Women Voters debate.