The Rhino Times Schmoozefest returns Thursday, Feb. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Four Flocks and Larder at 433 Spring Garden St. Free snacks and beer and wine while supplies last for those who sign in and wear a name tag.

*****

At least we know the districts for the state House and Senate, and the decision was made a week before filing opens on Feb. 12. The courts are making it extremely tough on candidates in North Carolina. It’s particularly hard on challengers. How do you raise any money if you don’t know which district you’re going to be in?

The districts in Guilford County will be the ones drawn by the special master hired by three federal court judges to take over the job the North Carolina Constitution gives to the General Assembly to draw election districts.

In Wake and Mecklenburg counties, the US Supreme Court ruled that the special master’s districts shouldn’t be used and the state should use the districts drawn by the legislature.

The court case will continue. This is simply a stay for this election. So in 2020, the districts could once again be different.

*****

Over a hundred people attended the second Safer City Summit held by the Greensboro Police Department at the Special Events Center at the Greensboro Coliseum on Monday, Feb. 5, to discuss ways to reduce crime in Greensboro. Getting over a hundred people to attend a meeting on crime on a cold night in February is an accomplishment in itself. There were reports from each of the committees appointed in 2017 on what they had done and what they planned to do in the coming year.

*****

Perhaps I’m naive, but the protests over Duke Energy raising the rates to cover the cost of placing coal ash in lined landfills seems reasonable to me. The state, not Duke Energy, decided that coal ash, which is used to make building materials and fertilize agricultural fields, should be treated as a hazardous waste. It seems a little outlandish that the coal ash that can’t be used on fields or in building materials has to be buried in lined landfills, but that is what the state decided. Since that is the decision of the state, it seems like a reasonable cost of business to pass along to the customers.

*****

The resignation of interim Rockingham County District Attorney Tom Keith because the state refused to pay for his travel expenses from Forsyth County to Rockingham County is just one small example of a much larger problem with the judicial system in North Carolina.

It is time for the state to spend the money to bring the judicial system into the 21st century, and not just in paying travel expenses. In federal court for years everything has been available online. No one has to go down to the federal courthouse, be searched, fill out forms and wait in line for a document. There is a federal website where the documents are posted and can be downloaded for an extremely reasonable fee.

In the state courts, everything is on paper. Maybe it is an employment scheme, but it is absurd in this day and age to have everything on paper.

The problem is that the state won’t spend the money necessary to bring the courts into the electronic age. It is reportedly moving in that direction, but it is moving at the pace of an arthritic snail. None of this involves new technology; it is what is expected in almost every other business.

*****

I’ve been to any number of community meetings lately, and at every one of them some city official has noted that the city would need help from the state for this or that project. It is good to see the City of Greensboro recognizing that it is a creature of the state. The state government created the City of Greensboro, which operates under a charter granted by the state.

Greensboro is fortunate to currently be represented by the most powerful man in state government, President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger. But Greensboro also has a terrible relationship with Berger and with state Sen. Trudy Wade, who keeps moving up the ladder in the Senate. If Greensboro needs some favors from the state, it is high time for the Greensboro City Council to mend some fences and stop passing resolutions that do nothing but annoy the Republicans who control the General Assembly.

*****

Here is a great solution to all the election issues in the state, and it would kill two birds with one stone. There is great controversy over the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement – so much controversy that the state doesn’t have one, even though only the state board can certify elections that take place in more than one county, like for the mayor of High Point for instance.

Over the past few years it seems like every move the Republicans have made regarding elections, including redistricting, has wound up in the courtroom of federal District Court Judge for the Middle District of North Carolina Catherine Eagles. Cases are supposed to be assigned to federal judges on a random basis, but somehow it appears all the election issues randomly wind up in her court.

Why doesn’t the state simply appoint Eagles as the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement and that way these long drawn out and expensive court cases can be eliminated? Eagles could simply rule on everything regarding elections as the sole member of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

It would save a lot of time and money. Attorneys in the state may not like it because it would mean far fewer cases to argue in federal court, but it would streamline the system.

 

Parisian Promenade at Bicentennial Garden