Greetings and salutations, fellow Friday enthusiasts! Let’s jump right in.
1. Bathroom segregation now, bathroom segregation forever.
So House Speaker Tim Moore, who has a long history of hating on the gays
, has decided that no, North Carolina will not answer the Department of Justice on HB 2
by the Monday deadline.
The department sent state leaders a letter Wednesday saying that the law violates the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding. Those laws ban employment discrimination and discrimination in education based on sex.
“We will take no action by Monday,” Moore told reporters Thursday. “That deadline will come and go. We don’t ever want to lose any money, but we’re not going to get bullied by the Obama administration to take action prior to Monday’s date. That’s not how this works.”
Actually, Tim, buddy, that’s exactly how this works. Defying the federal government on civil rights issues has never worked out all that well.
Let's be real: they passed this nonsense in less than twelve hours, start to finish. The five days the feds offered afforded them ample time to repeal the offensive provision.
Here’s the DOJ’s argument:
The Department of Justice takes issue with House Bill 2’s provision requiring transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate. The bathroom rule applies to state government facilities, public universities and schools, while private businesses are allowed to set their own policies. A letter to state agencies said that the law represents “a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender employees.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Governor McCrory—who spent Wednesday evening noting to the Chamber crowd that HB 2
does more than merely tell transgender (or “trangenders,” as he calls them) people where to tinkle—has said that, yes, the gov will have some sort of response by Monday. Of course, if that response is anything other than “You know, you’re right, we’re sorry,” this thing is headed to court, and billions of dollars are at risk.
And then there’s Phil Berger:
Senate leader Phil Berger was less clear on what might happen – or won’t happen – before Monday. “Obviously there’ll have to be some response – you’ve got the deadline – but I don’t see the legislature, as the legislature, taking any specific response,” he said Thursday morning.
2. Montel Williams sends Representative Mike Hager a cake.
After days of debating House Bill 2 on Twitter, former talk show host Montel Williams sent a cake to N.C. House Majority Leader Mike Hager’s office Thursday.
The cake stemmed from a Twitter conversation Wednesday night in which Williams – who has been an outspoken opponent of House Bill 2 – referenced the NBA’s concerns about the law, which has raised uncertainty over the fate of the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte.
“Mike - I'm curious how @SenatorBerger feels about the NBA since, oh Thursday? Shall I send you all an NBA themed cake?” Williams tweeted.
Hager’s response? “Yes I'll take a cake, chocolate would be preferable.”
So Williams, who lives in New York, arranged for Raleigh bakery lucettegrace to bring Hager a cake.
In an email sent to the press announcing the delivery, Williams said couldn’t find a flight.
I am currently in LOS ANGELES for a few days and WAS NOT ABLE to get a flight to be in Raleigh on time. I DO intend on being in Raleigh on my next available Monday, consistent with a commitment I made to Rev. Dr. Barber of the NC NAACP to join the Moral Monday movement sit ins.
3. Former governor Jim Martin urges a middle path.
In an op-ed that originally appeared on the website of the Higher Education Works Foundation, the two-term Republican governor—a Republican before the Republicans lost their minds—asks North Carolinians to listen to each other.
Another factor, by the way, is the choice of many good moderates to abandon both political parties, leaving each with less moderation, so to speak. That’s a topic for another day.
What can we do now? First, both sides need to take time to listen to each other. We might learn how some young people have great difficulty dealing with their anatomy and hormones, in ways most of us could never begin to understand. Denying access to our state courts for protection leaves them vulnerable to harm from bullies. Our courts should be open for civil judgment. Hate crimes should be defined in enforceable law.
On the other hand, we might learn also that some people have had terrible experiences with sexual predators, and are fearful of laws that could make it easier for one to slip into girls’ locker rooms. It is not fear of transgender individuals, who have probably already been using such facilities without incident. (In almost 80 years of occasional visits to public bathrooms, I have never once dared to check out the qualifications of those standing next to me, and doubt that you have.)
The concern is for unintended consequences on both sides of this issue. Maybe if we adopted stronger punishment for predatory pretenders who do sneak in and violate the criminal law, it might reassure those who have been molested and others who share their fears. Besides, that’s an issue that would justify police action; unlike the City’s ordinance and the State’s HB2.
Some want to repeal all or parts of HB2. In this legislative session, partial repair may be possible; as some have indicated openness to reinstating access to the courts for civil remedies. With patience and goodwill, the court process should be restored.
Martin means well, and if upping the penalties for child predation mollifies the GOP’s anti-trans rage, fine, though I doubt it will do much to actually ward off child predators. But he’s wrong that HB 2 makes it in any way more difficult for child molesters to gain access to children; in fact, even though there are hundreds of cities and states have these protections—including, as of this week, Oregon
—there’s never been a case where the law has made it easier or in any way more legal for abusers to access victims.
4. Here’s a primer on what happens next
How could DOJ challenge the law?
While simply violating Title VII would make HB2 illegal under federal law, legal analysts say, to prove that would require a court decision, which could be protracted. In contrast, the federal government has quicker leverage in controlling the flow of money for education programs.
The letter cautions North Carolina that federal education funding could be withheld. During the current school year, state public schools received $861 million. In 2014-2015, the University of North Carolina system got $1.4 billion.
Is there precedent for withholding the funds?
“It’s almost unprecedented for federal funds to be cut off,” said John Dinan, professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University.
Typically, Dinan said, such a letter stands as the start for negotiations between the federal government and the accused offender, and a settlement is worked out that thwarts the withholding of funds.
“This is often the starting of a process, and the process can go various ways,” Dinan said.
If the state declines to negotiate or settle, however …
5. DEQ will remove the ineffectual SolarBees from Jordan Lake after all
The same day the state released a “revised” report magically scrubbed of all the evidence that these not-so-cheap-fix water mixers
weren’t doing a damned thing to clean up the lake, which provides drinking water to Wake and Chatham counties, the state announced that it would be removing those SolarBees because they don’t work.
Crystal Feldman, a DEQ spokesperson, says the department did not reverse course on its position on SolarBees in Jordan Lake from a revised report that DEQ released this morning. Feldman says the North Carolina General Assembly made the recommendation to continue studying data from SolarBees through October 2018 in 2015, and the revised report does not amount to a recommendation from DEQ to continue to study SolarBees through 2018.
The N&O offers some history
The Republican-led General Assembly turned to SolarBees in 2014 as a cheaper water-cleaning alternative to establishing strict construction and development restrictions on upstream communities such as Greensboro that a Democrat-led legislature approved in 2009.
Donald van der Vaart, secretary of the state environmental agency, said Thursday that he’ll recommend that state lawmakers find an alternative to the SolarBees in Jordan Lake because they haven’t significantly improved the water quality after 21 months in operation.
Jordan Lake, which provides drinking water to 300,000 Triangle residents, has been designated as impaired under the federal Clean Water Act. It often exceeds state standards for chlorophyll a, the green pigment in algae and plants that thrive off nutrient pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus entering the lake.
The state could
reinstate the Jordan Lake rules, which restricted nutrient runoff upstream and complied with a federal order. Unless the legislature acts, per state law those rules should go into effect a year after the SolarBee experiment ends—so, next year, or 2018 at the latest. There’s nothing stopping the legislature from doing that now.
6. The state is investigating Durham’s March elections.
The Durham County Board of Elections mishandled roughly 1,900 provisional ballots during the March primary, and as a result, more than 1,000 votes that should have been counted will likely be thrown out, according to state elections officials.
North Carolina State Board of Elections officials discovered the problem in April during an audit of primary results. While it's unclear exactly what led to the problems, it is clear that some number of ballots are missing, ballots that should not have counted may have been counted, some ballots may have been counted twice and the ballots in question have been handled in such a way that elections officials can no longer sort the ones that should count from those that shouldn't.
That’s it for today, everyone. It’s gonna be a beautiful weekend
, and you should get out there and enjoy it—unless, like me, you’d rather spend Saturday afternoon watching Captain America