Friday, December 30, 2016

Burst your bubble in 2017

So, it’s time for the annual New Years column, that time for throwing out an idea or two on what to do differently in the coming 365 days called 2017.

Last year’s idea was to cut back on being “connected” by going offline one day a week.  It did not go well.  Just like with the ubiquitous annual intention of getting into better shape, I lasted just a few weeks before starting to slip.  So, this year I thought maybe something a little more  focused on taking advantage of opportunities when they arise rather than trying to force something that’s likely not to succeed.

A few weeks ago I came across something in my Facebook feed that reminded me of a topic that had been on the “idea board” for a column for quite a while now.  It seems to fit the bill – especially considering how divided our society seems to be after the rough and tumble of 2016.  Hat tip to Davidson Commissioner Rodney Graham for the reminder.

Living in Davidson is often compared living in a “bubble”.  I personally prefer to liken it to living in a Norman Rockwell painting, but the bubble comparison can a also fit.  Back in 2015, Davidson received the dubious honor from the website RoadSnacks.net of being the “snobbiest” town in North Carolina.  While I certainly wouldn’t agree with that literal designation, the criteria used to make it do shed light on why the bubble here might be a little thicker than normal.  Here’s what they had to say.

“Davidson is home to just about the smartest, wealthiest people in the entire state. The live in the 3rd biggest homes. And, since it’s home to Davidson College, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that almost 70% of the people who live there have a college degree.”

Add into that list access to theaters and art galleries and Davidson ranks highest on the list of criteria used by the RoadSnacks.net site.  Calling those things snobby by definition is certainly open to debate.  However, it’s not far fetched to say living in that environment could skew one’s perception of what is important when compared to those who don’t.

To be clear, those things and that bubble doesn’t just apply to Davidson.  Not by a long shot.  They are things that apply to large swaths of the larger Lake Norman and Charlotte areas.  They are things, while all being positive, can lead to a pretty thick bubble.

All that brings us to how to measure that bubble and what to do about it.

Google “Do you live in a bubble?” to find a quiz posted by NPR gauging how removed your upbringing and lifestyle may be from average America.  Take the quiz.  Then, compare your results to see how thick your bubble is when compared to “mainstream” America.

Now here’s the suggestion, if you are so inclined, for how to pierce that bubble.

For each level removed from mainstream American culture try to do two things this coming year that consciously works at removing a bubble layer.  That would just be 8 things a year.

Make them intentional efforts if possible.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen or maybe Room I  the Inn this winter.  Maybe spend an afternoon helping with a Habitat for Humanity home building project.  If you are feeling more adventurous, check out what mission opportunities might be available through your local churches.  Those may only be open to church members, but many offer trips within the state to do service projects or to help out when the next natural disaster strikes.

Opportunities to help others are plentiful, and nothing pierces the bubble that can be created by of having access to plenty than by helping out those who don’t.  With 2017 shaping up to be another volatile one in our state, nation, and world, reaching out to help others and learn a little about their lives could be one small way to smooth things out.

Have a safe and happy New Years!

This post was first published in this week’s Herald Weekly at HuntersvilleHerald.com

Friday, December 23, 2016

How the NCGA Grinch stole Roy Cooper's Christmas

“Then he got an idea. An awful idea. The Grinch had a wonderful, awful idea.”

That quote from the classic children’s book, “How the Grinch stole Christmas”, comes to mind when thinking about the recent actions of Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly. How could they prevent “Christmas” from coming for the Democrats whose victories in the races for Governor and the State Supreme Court threatened to derail the Republican agenda?  One can almost hear the Republican leadership at the NCGA channeling the Dr Seuss villain as they hatched their plans, and last week like the Grinch flying into Whooville on a ramshackle sleigh the plans swung into motion.

Leading up to last week, many in the media had gone into what ultimately amounted to a “fake news” frenzy over the possibility of the NCGA packing the State Supreme Court.  Under this scenario legislators would add two new justices that Governor Pat McCrory could appoint before leaving office.  That would effectively nullify the defeat of incumbent Supreme Court Justice, Bob Edmunds, by keeping the State Supreme Court in Republican hands.

Fortunately, there apparently is a line somewhere for what legislators won’t do, and they didn’t do that.

However in just about 48 hours from last Wednesday afternoon until Friday, NCGA Republicans unilaterally moved two bills through the General Assembly impacting both the Judiciary and the Executive branches of state government.

In Senate Bill 4, Legislators reinstalled partisan races for the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court like they used to be prior to being made non-partisan in 2002.  They also made changes to how appeals go through the court system, allowing those losing appeals to a 3 member appellate panel to request review by the entire 15 member Court of Appeals. While not having an immediate impact on the makeup of the courts, these changes in the long run will likely benefit Republican judicial candidates and help sustain Republican legislation.

In House Bill 17, Legislators set their sights on the Executive Branch, making several changes.  They reduced the number of political patronage jobs Roy Cooper will be able to appoint from 1500 to 425.  They made extensive changes to how public education is managed giving more control to the new Superintendent of Public Instruction, a fellow Republican.  Finally, they required Senate confirmation of several appointed department heads.

As of this writing, Governor McCrory has signed SB4.  HB17 is awaiting his signature.  UPDATE - McCrory signed HB17 as well on Monday.

As one can imagine, the response has been swift and severe from Democrats.  They are decrying these bills as attacks on democracy.  Some calling them a “power grab” and as usual lawsuits are being threatened.  What is probably more surprising is the backlash from some on the political right with several well known conservative voices across the state chiming in as well.  Bob Leubke at  NC Civitas cautioned that “majorities don’t last forever” and added that the changes implemented here may “come back to haunt” Republicans.  Pete Kaliner, a former WBT radio host who now has a show in Asheville, called the bills “revenge governing.”  Finally, Sister Toldjah a well known conservative blogger in the state who writes at the American Lens, said Republicans needed to choose their battles more wisely and learn how to “fight smarter”.

In response to that criticism, Republican leaders made what was effectively a two wrongs make a right argument saying everything done was legal and nothing worse than what Democrats had done to Republicans in the past.  That may all be true, but it’s not much of a defense.

Even the Grinch had his heart grow two sizes by the end of story.  He turned it around and ended the story on a high note.  He didn’t continue the divisiveness. Here in North Carolina, it looks like we’ll have to wait for that.

This post first appeared in this week’s Herald Weekly at HuntersvilleHerald.com

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Help Needed: Monday Hit and run on Jetton

On Monday, a reader let aShortChronicle know of a hit and run outside the PostNet at Circles@30.  Today, we received the police report and the following press release from the Town Public Information Officer, Christina Shaul.

On Monday, December 19 at approximately 1:45 p.m., the Davidson Police and Fire Departments received a call for service related to a hit-and-run accident where a vehicle struck a pedestrian in the road in front of PostNet at 610 Jetton Street.

Due to the multiple fractures sustained in the accident, the victim was hospitalized. She was released from the hospital today, but faces six to eight weeks of recovery.

The Davidson Police Department seeks information on the suspect who failed to stop at the scene. Attached please find photos and videos of the gold Toyota Highlander in question.

Video #1: https://vimeo.com/196639607

Video #2: https://vimeo.com/196639273


If you have any information regarding the vehicle or suspected driver, please contact Detective Jay Stokes at jstokes@townofdavidson.org

According to the police report the victim is a 29 year old woman.  While thankfully, this accident was not as bad as other recent pedestrian involved accidents in Davidson, this one could have been much worse.  Fortunately, a nearby employee was able to call the police quickly to get emergency help.

Hit and run resulting in injury is either a Class 1 misdemeanor or a Class H felony depending on the level of injury.  Misdemeanor charges can be up to a year in jail while felony charges start at 8 months for a first offence.  Sentences can go up substantially from there if there driver has previous convictions.

As Davidson's streets get more crowded due to continued development unfortunately they also get more dangerous.  Please be careful!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The flaws of the Bailey Springs affordable housing plan

Back in April, the Town of Davidson floated an RFP for an affordable housing project on Town owned land in the Bailey Springs neighborhood on Davidson's East Side.

According to an email at the time from Cindy Reid, the Affordable Housing Coordinator, the list of RFP recipients included "any builder that had expressed an interest in affordable housing".  Ultimately though, only two responses were received, one from JCB Urban and another from True Homes.  Jim Burbank with JCB Urban is on the town's Affordable Housing Steering Committee.  True Homes is building out the revised affordable housing plan in the Bradford neighborhood across Davidson Concord Road from Bailey Springs.

JCB Urban got the nod.

On November 30th, the Bailey Springs neighborhood got to see the plan in a meeting coordinated by Town Hall.

  • 15 single family homes packed onto just over 2 acres in the neighborhood.
  • The houses will have no garages, and 15 year deed restrictions have been proposed.
  • Five will be built in conjunction with Habitat for the lowest tier Area Median Income (AMI), and the other 10 will be built for tiers up to 120% of the AMI.

"Qualifying incomes are between 50% and 120% of the area median income (based on family of 4): $33,500- $80,400"  Price points will be "$155k to $175k".

Most importantly for Davidson tax payers, in spite of the Town asking developers for offers for the land in its RFP, the land will be given away for free as part of the deal.



Taken all together, this plan raises several questions - especially when compared to the recently negotiated agreement with the Bradford neighborhood.  Here are a few:

  1. Why no garages?  In the Bradford neighborhood just across Davidson-Concord Road, residents fought hard to have their affordable housing plan updated to require garages for similar affordable single family homes.
  2. Why push for 15 year deed restrictions? In the recently completed agreement for Bradford only 10 years was required.  Deed restrictions are much more about the Town maintaining control than they are about helping people, and the Town pushing for this just looks bad when the Bradford model has worked well.
  3. Why cluster AH in one spot?  Yes, this landed was deeded years ago for affordable housing but clustering this many AH units together effectively creates a neighborhood within a neighborhood.  The Bradford plan mixed AH and market rate homes.
  4. Why give the land away for free?  This is unnecessary to achieve to goal of building affordable homes.  The AH homes in Bradford were built on land paid for by the developer (True Homes).  This giveaway costs the town hundreds of thousands of dollars, money that could be used to support the program elsewhere in town.
Hopefully, the Bailey Springs neighborhood will push for a plan with the town that doesn't put the neighborhood at a disadvantage as this program seeks to expand.

If you want to comment on the program in general, the Town is seeking input.  Click here for the survey.  You do have to register, but comments can be anonymous.

Friday, December 16, 2016

A reason for the Electoral College...

Delegates to the Electoral College meet next Monday, December 19th, to cast their ballots for the 45th President of the United States, and barring any unforeseen and highly unlikely machinations to change the expected outcome, Donald Trump will be that person.

This will happen in spite of multiple recount efforts.  No recount has ever overturned an initial result as large a difference as those in Wisconsin, Michigan, or Pennsylvania, and the odds of Clinton winning all three by recount were infinitesimally small anyway.  This will happen in spite of Hillary Clinton handily winning the national popular vote.  At this writing on Monday she was up by over 2.8 million votes million votes.  This will happen because the Electoral College, not the national popular vote, is how we elect the President in this country.

While it may be unpopular to say and while it certainly seems unfair in a purely small-d democracy sense, for a country as large and diverse as the United States the Electoral College provides a very practical system for selecting the nation’s highest office holder.  The system requires candidates to appeal to as many of the regions of the country as possible – regions that in many ways have distinct cultures and values.  With its weighted voting that slightly favors small states over large states, the Electoral College forces Presidential campaigns to focus on states all across the country, not just the most populous.

Imagine, if election after election all candidates in both parties focused solely on the handful of large population states and a few select cities.  Over time, that could be corrosive to the level of national cohesion necessary to hold together a country such as this.

Here are some numbers from the Cook Political Report that may illustrate the point.  These are as of December 7th.

National Popular Vote: Clinton 65,746,544; Trump  62,904,682

13 Swing States: Clinton  21,429,661 ; Trump 22,247,375

States Won: Clinton 20; Trump 30

California: Clinton 8,753,788; Trump 4,483,810

As you can see Clinton won the national popular vote while Trump won the popular vote in the collection of swing states.  Cook defines “swing state” as any state that switched parties from the last election or was closer than 5% in the state popular vote.  Trump also won the popular vote in 30 states to just 20 for Clinton.  Finally, you can see that Clinton’s sizeable national margin was more than covered by just one state, California.  In fact, Clinton’s margin in California increased significantly over what President Obama received in 2012 both in raw numbers and percentage of the state electorate.  It was by far her best state on both counts when compared to the last election cycle.

All of those extra votes in California were “wasted” in an electoral sense because they don’t impact the Electoral College.  Another way to look at it is if just over half of those wasted votes were spread out to the Plains States and even fellow electoral giant Texas, Clinton would have won all of them and easily won the Electoral College.  She didn’t do that however.  Instead, her campaign focused on a message and issues that pumped up her vote totals primarily in one state, and it was a state she was going to win anyway.

By contrast Trump was only able to win by coming up with a message and campaign that played well in most of the country including the Upper Midwest, a region that had been a Democratic bastion in recent decades.  He also had millions of “wasted” votes above and beyond what was needed to win the states he won – just not nearly as many as Clinton.

The question becomes should a national election rest on a candidate doing exceedingly well in one state like Clinton did in California while losing a solid majority of the others?  The Founders didn’t think so, and this election provides of good example why the Founders implemented the Electoral College system instead of relying solely on the national popular vote.

This post first appeared in this week's Herald Weekly at HuntersvilleHerald.com.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Exit 30 development topics on agenda for Davidson Board this Tuesday.

Davidson Commissioners meet for their last Board meeting of 2016 on Tuesday, and issues related to development will dominate the discussion.  This time the area of focus will be the Circles@30 part of town.

As the I77 Hot Lanes construction barrels forward work on the new Exit 30 bridge is set to commence.  A presentation from I77 Mobility Partners (aka Cintra) will cover the details.

"The presenter will share the project timeline, and information on lane configurations/alternative routes for the Exit 30 project, so our motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are informed and will remain safe during this year-long construction process."

Here are the slides.



The focus of the meeting stays at Exit 30 with a discussion of the Small Area Plan (or lack thereof) for the area which has become the focus of intense development pressure.

During the October Chat at The Egg restaurant, it was brought up that a Small Area Plan, though completed, was never approved by the Town Board.

The lack of completion of this plan prior to considering projects like the proposed Hotel next to CSD has become an issue of major concern for residents and activists in that part of town.

Here are the first slides from that presentation.


Head over to Town Hall Tuesday night for the full details on these important efforts.  Meeting stars at 630pm.

Political left to use NC as blueprint against Trump

In the wake of Donald Trump's surprising win in the Presidential race, the progressive left has been searching for how it will respond in the President Trump era.  They seem to have found their example in North Carolina and the downfall of NC Governor Pat McCrorry.

Public Policy Polling, the national polling outfit based in the state, jumped the objectivity shark last week by publishing this story on its website where it gives sole credit for McCrory's downfall to the Moral Mondays movement that staged regular protests at the NCGA against everything the NCGOP did in Raleigh.  After relaying a bunch of polling stats on issues, many of them obscure.  PPP gives all the credit to the Moral Mondays protesters and offers this advice against a President Trump.

"Pushing back hard on McCrory worked. The seeds of his final defeat today were very much planted in the summer of 2013. And it's a lesson for progressives in dealing with Trump. Push back hard from day one. Be visible. Capture the public's attention, no matter what you have to do to do it. Don't count on the media to do it itself because the media will let you down."

When was the last time you saw a polling company offer advice on how to influence its polls?  This one article alone is enough to discredit PPP and its national numbers for quite some time.

What's even more interesting is that this line of thinking seems to be part of a coordinated effort already.  At about the same time this story went up, another story with the same logic showed up on The Nation, a staunchly progressive publication.   This one penned by none other than Rev William Barber, the Godfather of the Moral Mondays movement.

In light of the widespread protests that sprung up across the nation immediately after Trump's victory it's easy to see where this is going - all protests all the time.

The question is "will it work"?  The answer is likely to be "not nearly as well", and here's why.

Trump is not McCrory.

McCrory was a milquetoast when it came to confrontation.  He never pushed back against the push back.  He allowed the classic protest tactic of "personalization" to work against him.  Moral Mondays made him personally responsible, made him the "face", for everything they could when in fact the real power and responsibility rested with the faceless NCGA.  That made the moderate McCrory look like he had inexplicably become radically more conservative after his 2012 election.

Those factors won't apply to Trump.

Rather than shy away from confrontation Trump will relish in it.  Over two years of campaigning Trump proved himself master of the news cycle and controlling the narrative.  He had everything possible thrown at him, and it did not work.  Unlike McCrory, Trump ran on positions that infuriated progressives, and he won anyway.  On many issues, if his positions change it will be to become more moderate.

There's no doubt Democrats and their allies on the progressive left will fight back hard against Trump.   What's a lot less certain is if the tactics used against McCrory will work.

Bonus Observation: Those on the political right have a different take on why McCrory lost.  They believe it's the fault of Republicans who dropped him because of issues like tolls.  Check out this article from Redstate.com.  This NC based writer for the publication is absolutely livid her fellow Republicans in North Mecklenburg did not pull the lever for McCrory over a thing like tolls.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

EPA provides update on West Side asbestos findings

In September, aShortChronicle told readers about a meeting for neighbors of the proposed Davidson Depot project on the town's West Side.  That meeting was tense at times and didn't answer a lot of residents questions.  However, it did result in kicking off a sequence of events that will result in something positive for the neighborhood.  That process began to show results at a meeting Tuesday night at Davidson Presbyterian Church off Depot Street.

Carolyn Minnich with the Charlotte office of the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) attended the September meeting, and after hearing the range of neighborhood concerns, she contacted the EPA to get them involved.

In November the EPA ran tests on numerous properties as well as taking air samples.  The best news Tuesday night was that it appears the air samples were all clean - meaning random air born asbestos particles were not detected.  The stream running into the pond at Roosevelt Wilson Park was also tested, and its initial tests were also clean.  More of these tests will likely be done to verify again, but both were good news.

The unfortunate news was that several properties adjacent to the Linden Mill property did have trace and low level asbestos detected in the soil.  Here, the EPA seems to be doing a lot to alleviate residents' concerns.  While they did recommend precautions in some cases they seemed to be working hard to make sure things were being checked thoroughly.  More properties will be tested, and they asked for long time residents of the West Side to help pinpoint on a map any locations those residents remembered as dumping sites.  There was clearly a sincere interest in making sure the problem was fully addressed.

You could tell that the EPA workers had built a good rapport with West Side residents in the short time they had been on site often calling residents by their first names when answering questions.  Residents also seemed thankful that multiple agencies both State and Federal had an eye on this now.

It wasn't all good though.  At times there was a palpable frustration with the Town that it had taken so long to get these agencies involved.  At one point it was suggested the neighborhood was owed an apology from the Town for the many years these concerns drew no action or attention.

Apology from the Town forthcoming or not, going forward one can be sure the Town is paying attention now.  It looked like all the elected officials and senior staff were on hand Tuesday evening to hear the update.

Below is the presentation that was given - provided courtesy of the EPA.

 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Early feedback largely against Davidson Hyatt Place proposal

Back on October 3rd, developers held the required Public Information Session for the proposed new Hyatt Place hotel at the corner of Griffith Street and Gateway Drive - right across the street from the Community School of Davidson K-7 school building.

aShortChronicle recently obtained the feedback cards from that meeting and other information as part of a public records request.  The tally was not surprising - the large majority of feedback does not like the proposal.

After taking the raw response cards and removing a couple of duplicate responders, there were 48 distinct responders included in the file received from Town Hall.. Here's how it broke down for and against the hotel.


It should also be noted the counts identified by the developer team in the public record request shows the same number of "No" votes (20) and actually one less "Yes" vote (13).  However, the qualifications around those yes votes were not broken out.  This is pointed out here to show aShortChronicle's analysis is not trying to negatively skew the results.

At the meeting, developers presented two choices, the hotel or the current approved plan of two mixed use buildings.  The "Unqualified No" responses were people who chose the mixed use option.  There were several qualified "Yes" responses for the hotel use on the site. Those respondents raised objections to the proposed height of 6 stories and or to the possible congestion/parking issues the project will cause at this location.  It is relevant to know that most of the yes votes are highly qualified in some manner.  If the serious questions about building height and parking/traffic are not addressed, this would likely be an issue for these people.

You'll also notice a significant number of Neither/Don't Know responses.  Some of these comments spoke to the dirth of actual information presented at what was supposed to be a Public Information Session.  For example, many of the concerns related to parking and traffic could have been addressed by a Traffic Impact Analysis, but according to the public record, it wasn't decided to require one from the project until just days before the PIS.  The TIA now likely won't be done until sometime late January - long after it would have been useful for this PIS meeting.

The way the two choices were presented at the Public Information Session has also come under fire.

Multiple commenters called the presentation "unethical" and a "bait and switch".  Also, at the October Chat at the Egg where the hotel was the hot topic of conversation, Commissioner Fuller said "this was the most classic example of a Hobson's Choice I think I've ever seen" when the two choices came up in the discussion.  A "Hobson's Choice" is effectively a choice of "take it or leave it" which is not much of a choice at all.

Here are the depictions from the 10/3/2016 meeting.

Hotel option depicted at PIS 10/3/2016

Mixed use option depicted at PIS 10/3/2016

The first thing to notice about these two pictures is this.  The hotel as originally proposed will be 6 stories and the approved mixed use option is only 3 stories.  However, when you look at the two pictures both options appear to be the same height.  Also, in the feedback one commenter asked to see a picture with the hotel and CSD in the same frame.  That was not presented at the PIS.  However, via a public records request, aShortChronicle came across just such a picture.



You will see a hotel building on the left of the picture and the CSD playground on the right.  The front door to CSD is behind the trees in the back of the right side of the picture. When asked why this photo was not part of the PIS, the developer's attorney, Susan Irvin, had this to say.

"We did not use this picture in the PIS because this is not the correct picture.  This was an initial sketch because the Town's ordinance does require buildings to address the street, but it was not ultimately submitted.   In the course of preparing the application, Nish (Nish Patel is the hotel developer) spent a good deal of time trying to design a plan to satisfy that requirement while at the same time preserving the existing mature trees and ultimately came up with the plan we submitted.  Staff has agreed that the plan submitted does satisfy the requirement."

So, the first Photoshopped picture above showing the mature trees remaining is correct as far as the building orientation is concerned.  The second Photoshopped picture showing the hotel's proximity to the school could have been used and just replaced the hotel picture while leaving the mature trees, but it wasn't.  This picture better shows how close the hotel will be to the school regardless of the hotel building's orientation to the street.

Based on all of this, the developers and Town Hall itself have a lot of work to do to convince people this hotel is an acceptable idea for this location.

If you would like to have your voice heard, contact the entire Town Board at board@townofdavidson.org.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Voters chose punishment over politics this election season.

More than three weeks since election day, it’s still not over. (Though we're getting closer.)

As of Friday night, election outcomes of the two “chief executive” offices affecting North Carolina voters  - President of the United States and Governor of North Carolina - are both being challenged by recount requests.  In both cases, transition teams are moving forward as if nothing will change as the result of these requests, but still, for supporters of Hillary Clinton and Pat McCrory, there’s this overwhelming feeling that it “wasn’t supposed to be this way.”

In both cases, the outcomes can be traced to major changes in voting patterns in what had been dependable geographies for both political parties.  In the case of Clinton and the Democrats on the national level the Upper Midwest went from reliably blue to red.  For Pat McCrory in North Carolina it was the Lake Norman region that turned against him and voted for Roy Cooper in large numbers.

In both cases, voters in these areas chose to send their ‘traditional” candidate packing while helping cause unexpected victory for the other – assuming those victories stand.  More pointedly, in both cases the losing side had ample warning to prevent the losses, yet those warnings were ignored.  Candidates campaigned clearly thinking “their voters” wouldn’t dare do the unthinkable and support the other side.

In the race for President, the impact of the Upper Midwest can be seen in a series of maps published by New York Times just days after the election.  Google “landslide counties 2016” to see them.

In the November 10th Times article you’ll see that since 1992 as the country became increasingly polarized between rural Republican red counties and urban Democrat blue counties, the Upper Midwest states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa remained stubbornly “grey”.  That finally changed this election cycle with the rural parts of these states going heavily Republican.

While public polls didn’t show this occurring, there was an early sign that something was wrong with Hillary Clinton’s message in this part of the country.  The proverbial “canary in the coal mine” for Democrats was the March Democratic Party primary in Michigan where Bernie Sanders pulled off a surprising victory.

The Sanders Campaign message on trade was very similar to that of Donald Trump and that message clearly resonated in this area of the country.  If you look at the counties Sanders won in Michigan’s primary election, they closely mirror the ones that went landslide Republican for the first time this year in the general election.

A similar dynamic on a smaller scale played out here in North Carolina to undermine Pat McCrory’s reelection bid

The I77 HOT Lanes issue has raged very publicly since 2013 during the entire tenure of Pat McCrory’s term as Governor.  The anti-toll activist group Widen I77 held its first big public meeting on January 14th, 2013 – two days after McCrory’s inauguration.  Since then the issue has consumed all the electoral oxygen from every election cycle in the Lake Norman area.  Elected officials communicated in every possible way that this was going to be a major issue locally for McCrory in his reelection bid.  As a Republican bastion for  years, any significant dip in support here could have game changing consequences state wide.  Finally, you had the Huntersville election in 2015 and the NC-92 House primary this year as data points showing people in LKN were voting heavily based on this issue.

All of these warnings were ignored.

The end result was 33,000 votes lost for McCrory in thee Lake Norman area compared to his successful campaign in 2012.  That number is according to some post election analysis done by Kurt Naas, founder of Widen I77.   You can find more details on that at Naas’s blog - NCRidiculousness.Wordpress.com.  As of Monday night that was more than three times Cooper’s 9,716 vote lead.

The lesson learned from these two examples is this.

If you take enough voters for granted for a long enough period of time, eventually those voters will actually say “ENOUGH!”  When that happens no politician should be surprised to see those voters choose punishment over politics.

This post first appeared in the Herald Weekly at HuntersvilleHerald.com.  Minor updates made since.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas in Davidson not an "Extraordinary Event" per Town Hall

The anual Christmas in Davidson celebration kicked off Thursday night at 6pm.  For three nights, thousands of people will crowd local streets enjoying some Christmas spirit.

aShortChronicle checked with Town Hall to see if the celebration would be classified as an Extraordinary Event and to our pleasant surprise we were told "no".

Now, at this point you are probably thinking...

"What is going on here?!?! Of course Christmas in Davidson is an extraordinary event!!!  What could the town be thinking by saying otherwise?"

You of course would be right it is a great event.

What we were asking is if the town would call it an official "extraordinary event" - meaning would the town invoke an ordinance passed back in 2012 in the run up to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.  That ordinance allows the town to invoke special police powers in certain cases.

After the riots following the Keith Scott shooting in September, Charlotte declared the Panthers-Vikings game a special event.  In light of that and yesterday's DA decision to not prosecute in the case, it seemed like a reasonable question to ask.  Two years ago there was a "die-in" protest at the holiday event, so the possibility of a recurrence has precedent.

Christina Shaul with the Town had this to say about the possible use of the Extraordinary Event ordinance at these events.

"We could, but given the nature of the event and its history (no problems, no arrests, little to no reported crime, etc.) we've never seen the need.

As for the possibility of another protest at the event this year, Shaul had this to say...

"We do not anticipate any issues or problems as of this writing.  We are, of course, very sensitive to the national and Charlotte-based issues and intend to be vigilant.  We are keeping all lines of communication open to react appropriately should this change and/or if something develops."

It is nice to see the town is not overreacting in light of current events.

Here is hoping everyone attending Christmas in Davidson this year has a great, no - an extraordinary- time!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

More NC election mayhem in 2017

And you thought the election related brouhahas had come to an end.  Nope!  Not here in North Carolina where they appear to be never ending.

On Tuesday, the other shoe dropped in the Federal lawsuit against North Carolina's state legislative districts.  A panel of Federal Judges ordered the state to redraw 19 House districts and 9 Senate districts for the General Assembly by March 15th, 2017.  Maybe more importantly, the state was also ordered to hold new elections in by the end of 2017.

While none of our local districts in LKN are directly involved in the lawsuit, the court decision requires any district that changes as a result of drawing new districts hold a new election.  That means even if the NCGA doesn't do a wholesale redrawing of districts like they did when Congressional districts were redrawn earlier this year, there would seem to be a high likelihood many if not all legislative districts would be impacted.  For LKN voters that likelihood is even higher because some of the districts directly impacted are adjacent to House 92 & 98 as well as Senate 41.

In Mecklenburg County, House Districts 102, 107, and 99 as well as NC Senate 38 and 40 are under court ordered redrawing.  Check out the below maps to see exactly where these districts are all located.






It is easy to see how redrawing the court ordered districts will impact the LKN districts in some way - triggering new elections in those districts as well.

It's also easy to see how redrawing districts could put some newly elected officials is bad situations.  Since Republicans will be drawing the new maps, those things will likely happen if it's to their advantage.

Take NC 92 for example.  Newly elected Chaz Beasley lives in Steele Creek in the south end of the district adjacent to NC-102.  In redrawn districts what if his residence is put in the same district as Becky Carney in 102? He can either primary a formidable member of his own party in that new district or he would have to run in a district where he no longer resides.  The court order allows this for these special elections, but if he was successful in the 2017 election he'd have to move to the new district in order to run again in 2018.

Examples like that could be seen all across the state.  Also, with this hanging over the legislature, one can expect new legislation to move fast and furious while NCGA Republicans hold super majorities in both the House and Senate.  If the 2017 election puts that at risk, you can be sure they will use that power while they know they have it.

Of course all of this could not happen if the Republicans in the NCGA win an appeal, but recent history makes that seem unlikely.  If this redrawing of the maps goes forward, 2017 will be another bumpy year in NC politics.

Monday, November 28, 2016

"Formal Appeal" or Desperate Plea from McCrory Campaign as Cooper lead grows

Roy Cooper's lead in the NC Governor's race ballooned on Monday as more updated vote totals rolled in to the NCSBE.  As of Monday night, the lead stood at 9,716 votes according to the NCSBE website.

And almost as if on queue, Monday afternoon Pat McCrory’s campaign manager, Russell Peck, sent out an email asking for money to fight the tide. Regular readers of aShortChronicle will remember Peck from these posts here and here.

In an email titled "Formal Appeal", Peck makes what sounds more like a desperate plea for cash as time appears to be running out.

Over the weekend, attorney and registered Durham County voter Thomas Stark filed a formal appeal with the State Board of Elections in relation to the ‘malfeasance’ in tabulating approximately 90,000 ballots that were reported just before midnight on Election Day.

It was concerning to learn that the Durham County Board decided to not approve Tom Stark’s protest to recount early vote totals from election night.

The malfunctions and irregularities in Durham have been extremely troubling to this campaign and the people of North Carolina, and the State Board confirmed several errors. 

We are now left with no other position but to request the State Board of Elections expeditiously order a full recount of Durham County early vote totals.


We need funds to help us finish the job. Please contribute to the Legal Defense Fund TODAY!

Russell Peck
Team McCrory


The "malfunctions and irregularities" in Durham County may be troubling to Peck but they weren't the biggest problem for the campaign he was managing.

Take a look at the below numbers from the counties with the 4 largest cities in NC.


Of the four metro area counties, the vote share for the Democrat candidate was up the least in Durham County compared to 2012.  That's both in percentage terms and in raw numbers.  You'll also notice that Durham is consistently overwhelmingly Democrat with the Dem candidate capturing over 70% the past three election cycles.

Even if the recount request eventually does goes forward in Durham and even if it finds some issue, it doesn't pass the smell test that enough erroneous votes could possibly be found there to overcome Cooper's growing lead.

Rather than writing a check to Mr Peck, the fiscally conservative thing to do would be to keep one's money safely in their own bank account.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Remaking the Electoral College Map? Only time will tell.

Did this election cycle redraw the Electoral College map?  Does it signal some realignment of the national electorate for decades to come?

If you are a Republican, after seeing Donald Trump shatter the fabled Democratic Blue Wall in the Upper Mid West you say "yes.  If you are a Democrat still reeling from the election you shudder at the thought.

There has been much concern, hand wringing, and downright anger over the past several days at the mechanics of the Electoral College that decides our Presidential elections.  For the second time in less than 20 years, the popular vote winner will not be the winner in the Electoral College and that has started once again the arguments about getting rid of it.  It's a valid discussion, but changing the Electoral Collage is a discussion that likely won't be resolved anytime soon - maybe ever.

As for the discussion about does this election signal a long term change in the electoral map itself, that's a different matter.  Democrats can take comfort that history would tell us "no" one election does not indicate much when it comes to the map itself.

Starting with the Electoral College map from 1948, the first post WWII election cycle, scroll through the maps available on Wikipedia for each Presidential election.

The first map is the one that spawned the famous, and eroneous, "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline.


1948 Election from Wikipedia


If you scroll through the maps you will see clearly that there have been several true redrawings of the map over the subsequent 58 years - as few as six and as many as eight depending on how you count.

Look at this map from the 1964 Johnson/Goldwater race.  Democrats probably thought they had the Presidency locked up for a while after this one.

Johnson/Goldwater 1964


Just two cycles later Nixon/McGovern gave us this map in 1972.

Nixon/McGovern 1972

That map didn't hold long. Nixon resigned after achieving this solid red map, and things turned Blie again with Lyndon Johnson.

The general outlines of the map we have now fell into place with the 2000 Bush Gore election.

Bush/Gore 2000


President Obama chipped away at this map by adding Colorado, Nevada, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina to the Democratic tally.  The Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia adds seemed to signal a Democrat resurgence in the South, but two cycles later NC and FL are back voting Republican with VA being very close.

Trump did something similar with his close wins in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania this election.  They were certainly pivotal this cycle, but will they hold?  In response, you can be sure the Democrats won't be caught flat-footed in those states next Presidential election season.

The truth is this.

In one or two cycles the map can change radically.  It has in the past and likely will again in the future.  Candidates and national circumstances matter as much as anything else - including demographics..

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2016: The "Landslide" Election

Landslide? What landslide?!?!

2016 shaped up to be one of the closer Presidential elections in memory.  Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote while Donald Trump wins the Electoral College with many of his winning states coming by incredibly close margins.

With all of these being true, how can this be a "landslide" election?

The answer to that question can be found in two articles from the NY Times.  The first article was published a few days before the election and the second article a few days after.  These articles covered the growth in "landslide counties" since the 1992 election with a county defined as "landslide" when either party wins the county by 20% or more.

In 1992 both parties had a little more than 500 such counties across the country.  After 2012 the Democrat landslide counties dwindled to 281 while Republican counties exploded to 1724.

In 2016 the trend continued and even accelerated in some areas.

Here are the statistics from the two NYTimes articles put into a chart.


A few things jump out from these numbers in 2016.

  • Over the previous 5 election cycles Republicans added about 226 landslide counties per cycle while Democrats lost about 50 per cycle.  In 2016 Republicans added a whopping 508 and Democrats lost 39.
  • In 2016, Republican landslide counties closed 75% of the population gap Democrats had after 2012.  They now trail by just 5 million people.
  • The share of the overall popular vote total from Republican landslide counties surpassed that from the Democrat landslide counties for the first time.

The most stark depiction of the impact of these changes in 2016 can be seen in the second linked article from the NY Times.  Click the above link and take a look at the maps.

Since 1992, only one major area of the country had resisted the change in the overall move towards a predominance of landslide counties.  That area was the Upper Midwest including the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. The rural areas of those states remained as non landslide areas over the last 5 election cycles.  In 2016 that changed dramatically.  Michigan and Wisconsin have gotten all the press coverage because they helped give the election to Trump, but even true blue Minnesota went rural red this election with the final spread under 2%.

CNN's election page allows you check out the totals at the county level if you are interested in more detail.

This overall change in landslide counties tells the tale of this particular election.

The next post will look at what that might mean when it comes to the Electoral College and the inevitable discussion where people claim this election "permanently remade the map".

Friday, November 11, 2016

One Veteran's Story



Every year when Veterans Day comes around I always think about my wife’s grandfather.  Like many members of the Greatest Generation the man had a story for every situation.  After getting to know him and hearing those stories (some more than once), I dubbed him “Forest Gump without the money”.

Grandpa had more careers and life experience than most.  He was a welder and a photographer.  A mechanical engineer, he worked at Ford Motor Company and IBM.  He was also a custom home builder for several years.

He was even an inventor.

He often told a story about leaving IBM to be part of a team that invented an optical scanning machine.  Most adults will remember the Scantron tests from school requiring a #2 pencil.  Grandpa helped invent the machine that graded those tests.  The small startup was eventually bought by 3M.  He also told a story about helping build some prototype fitness machines for some local body builders.  They went on to form a successful business.  From the way he described them, they were just like the Cybex machines you’ll see in many gyms.  Both of those companies are based in or near where he lived in Rochester, MN at the time.  Unfortunately, he was an engineer and not a savvy businessman.  He also wasn’t as lucky as Forest Gump, so huge monetary success wasn’t in the cards from these efforts.

However,  the most Interesting story he ever told was from his time in the Navy.

Grandpa joined the Navy from Minnesota during WWII.  Eventually, he was transferred to Norfolk Virginia where his skills as a photographer and a welder were put to use inspecting welds on ships being built in the shipyards.  He used a specialized camera to take Images of the welds and make sure they were safe.

When it came time to begin preparations to for D-Day he got his orders for a ship that would ultimately take part in the Normandy invasion.  While standing in line to board with his duffel bag packed, he was pulled aside and told his orders had changed.  Instead of heading to Europe, he would be working on a special project.

As Grandpa liked to tell the story he was eventually taken to a hanger with a Consolidated B-24 heavy bomber.  There were some engineers from the company present as well as some military mechanics.  Oddly, there was also an interior designer from New York City.

The team redesigned the plane, converting it into a passenger aircraft.  The bomb lift was converted into a small elevator.  The interior decorator made it into a well appointed vehicle suitable for VIP travel.  Grandpa’s job was to use his photography and welding skills to inspect the welds and make sure all the structural changes planned by the engineers were done properly.

What they had built was to be the first Air Force One – the first plane intentionally designed to carry the President of the United States.  The bomb lift/elevator conversion was needed because FDR was paralyzed from Polio, but according to Grandpa the public didn’t know that at the time.  That was a big part of the need for secrecy around the project.

There were a few of these B-24 conversions.  The converted planes were dubbed C-87 models.  The one Grandpa helped build was called the Guess Where II – a play on words because Presidential travel was kept secret.

Unfortunately, the Guess Where II never carried Roosevelt.  After the plane was built and just before its inaugural trip, the Secret Service decided the B-24 safety record wasn’t good enough.  The President took a different plane to meet Churchill and Stalin at the Teheran summit to begin planning the end of WWII.

Another brush with history in a life full of such events.

A Navy man until the end, Lieutenant Magnuson spent his last days at the new Veterans nursing home in Black Mountain being one of the first patients admitted when it opened in 2012.  He passed away in 2014.

Happy Veterans Day, Grandpa!  You and your stories are always missed.




This post first appeared in the Herald Weekly at HuntersvilleHerald.com

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Narrowest of margins in Presidential nail biter yields crazy scenarios

Here are some maps from RealClearPolitics.com

The first scenario is the "No Tossups" map based strictly on the current RCP polling averages in each state.  It gives Clinton the narrowest of victories.




However, if Trump flips just New Hampshire, he wins.  The RCP average currenlty has Clinton up by .8% in NH - well within the margin of error.




There are also at least 2 believable scenarios that result in Electoral College ties.

If Trump wins New Hampshire but loses Maine's 2nd Congressional District electoral vote, it's a tie.  Trump is up by just .5% in ME CD2.  That's even closer than NH.




A less likely tie scenario is the "No Tossups" map but swap who wins Nevada and Colorado.  That also gets each candidate 269 Electoral College delegates.




If a tie scenario was to occur, then the US Congress decides the election with each state getting one vote based on how the Congressional delegation within the state votes internally.  The number of Red states gives the advantage to Trump.  However, if there are some "Never Trump" Republicans in some of these low population Red states with small bi-partisan Congressional delegations, they could conceivably give it to Clinton.

Making a Clinton victory under this crazy scenario even crazier, the Senate would elect the Vice President.  With Republicans having the majority there with each Senator having a vote. It would be a real possibility of Pence being the VP.

Clinton and Pence, now that would be something.

Early voting from NC98 - Bradford vs Campbell

A little election day light reading...

With early voting data available from the BOE and the ncvotetracker.com app, here is what early voting looks like in the contentious race for NC House 98.  It's a risky proposition comparing numbers from a mid-term election (2014) and a Presidential year (2016), but compare we can.

First some baseline info.  NC98 is an R+9 district according to the Civitas Partisan Index - meaning the Republican won the 2012 vote for Governor and Council of State races in the precincts that make up this district by 9 more points than the statewide margin.  The CPI is calculated only in Presidential election years, so it is more applicable this year than it would have been in 2014.  In 2014, Republican John Bradford beat Democrat Natasha Marcus by 10 points, 55% to 45%.

It is also important to note, this district is not gerrymandered to have a Republican win.  North Mecklenburg is just a pretty solid Republican area.  In 2014, Marcus won 3 of 12 precincts - 206 in Davidson plus 145 and 239 in Highland Creek.  If anything this district could have been drawn to be much more Republican by not including 239/145 voters and including more from Huntersville.

In 2014 Marcus won big in the 3 precincts she did win, so we'll consider those precincts the Democrat voting base.  The comparable Republican 3-precinct base would be precincts 133, 208, and 242.  In 2014 the Dem base precincts gave Marcus 426 vote advantage over the Rep base precincts.

When comparing early vote totals from 2014 and 2016 the turnout in the Dem base was up 333% on average by precinct this year.  The Rep base was up just 266%. This would indicate Campbell has bigger cushion this year in these base precincts going into election day. (The massive increases are driven by the much larger overall turnout in a Presidential year.)

In 2014 the cushion favoring the Dems in the "base" precints was totally overwhelmed by the fact those 3 precincts were the only ones the Dem candidate won.  There are multiple other precints that favor the Republican almost as much as the ones included in the "base" precincts here, and this year they had bigger early vote % increases.

We will know by the end of the day if the same dynamic happens again this year.

Friday, November 4, 2016

North Mecklenburg digging out of paper blizzard

By Halloween night the “Great Blizzard of 2016” began to taper off, or at least that’s what the locals here in North Mecklenburg hoped.  It had been a long and stormy season, and at this point many were not sure how much more of this “weather” their spirits could take.

You may be asking yourself,  “Great Blizzard?!?!  What on earth could he possibly be talking about?”  It topped 80 degrees on Halloween.  Snow, much less a blizzard, is the furthest thing from most minds right now.

No, it’s not a blizzard of snow and ice we’ve been experiencing.  Instead, it’s been the constant blast of paper stuffing local mailboxes this election season that people are finding hard to take.  By Halloween, at least 50 flyers for and against various political candidates have landed in North Mecklenburg mailboxes.  Like any measurement of accumulation amounts vary depending on your exact location.  Some get more.  Some get less.  However, this season it seems more pervasive than others.

What makes this even more unusual, is that it’s not the historically divisive Presidential campaign that’s generated most of the volume.  No, it’s the race between Republican incumbent John Bradford of Cornelius and Unaffiliated challenger Jane Campbell of Davidson for NC House 98 in the North Carolina General Assembly that has generated the most flyers – by far.  The district covering Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville’s east side and the Highland Creek area of Charlotte has been hit with at least 30 flyers from both sides starting in mid-September.

Like two equally heavily armed camps in a giant snowball fight the number of flyers have shown almost equal support for each side.  Though in fairness most have been attacking their opponent as much or more than promoting their own candidate.

To keep up this constant barrage requires a lot of money, and Halloween, October 31st, also happens to be the last day for campaigns and outside political groups to file their third quarter campaign finance disclosures.  The reports for both the Campbell and Bradford campaigns showed up on the State Board of Elections site that day as well.

Here are the highlights.

The campaigns raised comparable amounts from individual donors so far this election.  As a challenger, Campbell raised a very respectable $92,218 to Bradford’s $103,803.  Both candidates appeared to garner most of their individual support from their respective home bases within the district.

Bradford pulled ahead significantly in the cash race by raking in $54,800 from “Other Political Committees”.  That would be from other elected officials and industry PACs.  Campbell drew just $10,910.

Both campaigns sent huge amounts to their respective parties.

Campbell sent $55,000 to the NC Democrats.  Yes, technically she’s an “Unaffiliated” but Campbell is essentially running as the replacement Democrat since the party didn’t field one during the filing period.  Bradford sent $30,000 to the NCGOP.  Effectively, both candidates are paying for much of the flyers landing in local mailboxes through these payments to their respective parties.

At this point it would look like the incumbent has a sizable advantage, but the campaigns’ reports don’t tell the whole story.  Both sides also received significant outside help this cycle.  Third party groups that aren’t allowed to coordinate with the campaigns can effectively spend as much as they want to influence elections, and spend they did in this race.

As of the end of October, a group out of Raleigh called NC Families First has dumped $164,849 in opposition ads against Bradford or in support of Campbell.  On the other side Bradford has benefited from $20,000 in support from the NC Realtors.  Flyers have also gone out from the Mainstreet Merchants group and NC Citizens for Freedom in Education in support of his campaign. However, as of this writing numbers for those groups are not available.

So while Bradford’s campaign itself raised more money up through the Q3 of this year, the overall effort to elect Campbell appears to have the lead in total funding.

Regardless, both sides have a ton of money to spend and that has set the conditions for the paper blizzard we’ve been experiencing.

This post first appeared in the Herald Weekly at HuntersvilleHerald.com.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Left-leaning network spends at least $3.6 million on NC State races

aShortChronicle has posted extensive coverage of the outside spending impacting local races this election cycle.  Now, with election day upon us, some totals are in hand.

After Monday's filing deadline, we've identified $3,568,530 in what would be classified as direct campaign related expenditures (media buys, mailings, canvassing) from a single network of left leaning advocacy groups supporting Democratic Party candidates this election cycle.  Tens of thousands more in legal fees and other costs are also reported in their filings.

The network includes the following groups:

NC Families First, NC Citizens for Protecting Our Schools, A Better NC, Real Facts NC, Common Sense Matters, and Make NC First.  As mentioned in this previous post, all of these entities are connected through Raleigh Attorney, Michael Weisel.

If Weisel's name sounds familiar, it might be from reading these other articles in local media.  WFAE did a piece quoting him as representing NC Families First on the group's commercial against Bob Edmunds for the NC Supreme Court.  Weisel was also quoted in this WBTV report on Planned Parenthood posing as an anti toll group.  In the WBTV report, Weisel was representing NC Citizens for Protecting Our Schools.

This Planned Parenthood situation provides a great example of how the money flows.

The Planned Parenthood affiliated organization Community Organizing Group was working with a subsidiary of NC Citizens for Protecting Our Schools called "Aim Higher Now" to hand out some door hangers.  NC Citizens for Protecting Our Schools is a major funder of NC Families First sending them over $1.4 million this election cycle.  NC Families First in turn sent $485,000 to Planned Parenthood Action PAC NC for canvassing.  The WBTV report states Planned Parenthood Action as working with Community Organizing Group on the canvasing operation.

One can easily draw the connections between NC Citizens for Protecting Our Schools and the Planned Parenthood canvasing operation.  With one hand the "Citizens" group is paying for the canvasing via money given to NC Families First, and with the other hand they are paying for the canvasing materials. Ultimately, the money all flows to this operation from the same place, but it looks like multiple organizations working independently.

In reality, it's just part of a larger plan.

Another part of the plan is targeting NC House seats directly including NC98 and NC92.

According to NC Board of Elections data, NC Families First has hit NC98 Rep John Bradford with $164,849 in attack ads this cycle.  NC92 Republican Danae Caulfield has been hit by $66,471 from the group.

$231,320 spent on attack ads for 2 NC House seats in Mecklenburg county!!!

Further research shows this to be part of a wider effort by NC Families First to flood Mecklenburg and Wake counties with attack ads against Republicans.

The below list matches the list of "Competitive Races to Watch" from Real Facts NC - one of the affiliated groups in this network.


The Republicans highlighted in bold match the targets of NC Families First based on their campaign reports at NCSBE.gov.  One can guess that is likely not an accident.  From the analysis completed so far, John Bradford in NC98 appears to be the group's #1 target based on money spent.

With Mecklenburg County and Lake Norman in particular being one of the central battlegrounds for the NC House this election cycle, the money and organization behind this collection of 527 and 501c4 organizations has gone a long way towards what's been happening here locally.

Will it be successful?  We will know in less than a week.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Planned Parenthood's campaign mercenaries on the march locally

The "dark money" behind NC Families First pounding local Republican candidates doesn't just go to buying a hale of flyers or ominous TV ads.  It's also buying an army of paid boots on the ground via Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood uses a front company called Community Outreach Group, LLC to pay canvassers who look like "volunteers" to spread information during campaigns.


Notice the red underline of Action Fund.  So far this campaign season NC Families First has donated $483,500 to Planned Parenthood Action PAC NC for a "Canvassing Program".  This is according to the NC Families First recent IRS filings.

Here's the job posting from the Planned Parenthood connected group for Charlotte looking to hire paid canvassers to get involved in local races.



You will of course notice that the ad makes no mention of the affiliation with Planned Parenthood.  Instead, similar to the flyers put out by NC Families First its focus is I77 tolls.  The group's other ads clearly state it is a part of Planned Parenthood.

No group is at ground zero of the culture war over social issues more than Planned Parenthood.  Does anyone believe they care at all about I77 tolls?

No, of course they don't.  They care about getting people elected to push their social issues agenda.

Who do you think the largest abortion provider in the country will be pushing with this effort?

Will Planned Parenthood push John Bradford who has been endorsed by Kurt Nass and the I77 Business Plan - the leading anti-toll advocates?

Or...

Will Planned Parenthood be pushing Jane Campbell, the candidate endorsed by Lillian's List - the leading abortion rights advocacy group in the state.

You don't have to think too hard on that one now do you?

Update:  Nick Ochsner with WBTV has this story up now on this topic.  Once confronted by a TV reporter, the Planned Parenthood ads related to I77 were taken down.

Friday, October 28, 2016

527 group targeting Bradford and Caulfield in NC98 & NC92 also behind controversial ad for NC Supreme Court

You know your ad has crossed a line when it's attacking a Republican and even Public Radio questions it.

Facts Without Context? The ‘Snake’ Ad Focuses Attention On Fight For Control Of The NC Supreme Court. -WFAE.org

Then again, when it's the same outfit that has been flooding mailboxes here in North Mecklenburg with attack ads maybe it's not all that surprising.

NC Families First, the 527 group out of Raleigh funded with big $$$ from Washington, DC, is the group behind the recent ad attacking Justice Bob Edmunds in his reelection bid to the NC Supreme Court. NCFF is the same group covered extensively here at aShortChronicle this election season. (See here, here, and here.)

The WFAE story hits the highlights on the issues around the opaqueness of the money behind this group, but it misses a few key points.

WFAE mentions some of the big DC donors covered in our earlier story, but they miss the fact that the man behind NC Families First, a lawyer out of Raleigh named Michael Weisel, is the same person behind multiple of these 527 and 501(c)4 organizations.

On 10/18 and 10/19 NC Families First received payments totaling $1.595 million and by 10/21 had spent over $900,000 on ads against Bob Edmunds.

The groups supplying the funds were Make North Carolina First and Real Facts NC.  Both of these groups are also connected to Weisel.   His signature is on their campaign finance docs and other documentation as well.  In fact, searching the sites for the NC Board of Elections, IRS, FollowNCMoney.org, OpenSecrets.org, and the NC Secretary of State one finds at least 6 different groups Weisel works with/for in North Carolina politics.

Michael Weisel seems to be the center of gravity of a coordinated effort when it comes to moving large sums of money around in support of left leaning causes and candidates.  It is an effort that is willing to spend several million dollars this election cycle.

Now, in addition to targeting races in the state legislature, that money is looking to take control of the NC Supreme Court.