The Criminal Justice Bill Shows Where the GOP Is on Race

OPINION — Sen. Tim Scott, Republican from South Carolina, was optimistic after the Senate passed an amended bill this week that makes bipartisan progress on an issue — criminal justice reform — that has divided lawmakers for years.

Scott, an original co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement: “By cutting recidivism, encouraging job training, education and mental health and substance abuse treatments for incarcerated individuals, and making our criminal justice system both smarter and tougher, we have taken a positive step forward.”

The bill is considered a First Step, as it is named, toward addressing inequities in the system that disproportionately affect African-Americans and the poor, in everything from arrests to sentencing, and have contributed to a mass incarceration crisis. Criminal justice advocates will also point out that the changes are modest and apply only to the federal system, which truly makes this a first step. Yet it’s something.

More Drama in 9th District House Race

CHARLOTTE, NC — A new day, a new wrinkle in the contested and controversial 9th District U.S. House between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. The latest: The North Carolina Republican Party is asking the state elections board to certify Mark Harris as the winner, if it cannot provide evidence that suspected election fraud, particularly in Bladen County, in the midterm would have changed the result. (Mary C. Curtis)

Of course, Democrats want to see the investigation finished. So, what’s next?

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis weighs in.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: Live from 7th Street Market in Uptown

There’s more troubling news about election fraud in the 9th Congressional district.  Winter weather closes schools adding to days needed to be made up.  Another electric scooter company comes to town.  Will this finally prompt regulation?  Join us at 7th Street Market as Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters detail those and other stories.

Guests:

Ann Doss Helms, reporter for the Charlotte Observer

Nick OchsnerWBTV news reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB

David Boraks, reporter for WFAE

 

 

If She Didn’t Give Up on Democracy, Neither Should We

OPINION — If you don’t know Rosanell Eaton’s name, it’s time to learn exactly who she was and why her life and life’s work matters. She is the antidote to the cynicism infecting politics in 2018, a hero of democracy when democracy is under siege. She cared about her country and its highest principles, demanded her basic human and civil rights and brought others along with her.

Rosanell Eaton would not take “no” for an answer.

Her 97 years of life were full of the kind of accomplishments and resistance that truly make America great. We can mourn Eaton, who died on Saturday, and then honor her by following her example.

A House Race in North Carolina Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Perhaps North Carolina’s 9th District will have a congressman by January; but maybe not.

You see, there seems to have been a mix-up in the count, distribution and collection of absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties, which make up part of the district — what the state elections board (made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent) called “unfortunate activities” when it first refused to certify the results.

For a while, it looked as though the Republican, former Baptist pastor Mark Harris, had beaten the Democrat, Marine veteran and businessman Dan McCready, by a mere 905 votes of about 280,000 cast in the gerrymandered district that may not exist after a court-ordered redraw. But now investigations, possible lawsuits and an absence of official results mean this particular 2018 race may not be decided until 2019.

The Life and Legacy of George H.W. Bush

CHARLOTTE, NC — The funeral of the 41st president is Wednesday at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., with President Trump and the first lady in attendance, as well as former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and their wives, and world leaders such as Charles, prince of Wales. They will honor the life and legacy of Bush — the former World War II pilot, vice president and president — which is both outstanding and complicated.

After This Election, the NRA Is No Longer Calling All the Shots

OPINION — The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It’s the mantra of the National Rifle Association, and a certainty for those who would brook no incursion into Second Amendment rights and definitely no gun control measures, no matter how small or “sensible,” as they are often described by those who propose them.

When children were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, and federal legislation that would strengthen background checkswent nowhere, gun control advocates despaired. If the murder of children failed to crack the gun lobby, what would?

But real-life events and political surprises indicate that the landscape might be changing. And the work of groups such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun ViolenceMoms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and other large and small organizations has made a difference.

Where once politicians were loath to cross the NRA because of the organization’s hefty purse and powerful get-out-the-vote success, candidates in unlikely places are showing that a nuanced position is not a deal breaker. Earlier this month, Democrat Lucy McBath, a onetime spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, won a House seat in Georgia that Newt Gingrich once held, no doubt surprising some leaders in her own party. Though the district has been trending away from its once deep-red hue for a while, a well-financed race by Democrat Jon Ossoff last year that engendered enthusiasm could not achieve what McBath did with far less attention.

N.C. Lame-Duck Session Begins, with Voter ID the Chief Task

CHARLOTTE, NC —  In the midterm elections, North Carolina voters delivered a check on the state general assembly’s Republican super-majorities, while also approving a voter ID amendment to the state constitution. Will state lawmakers be able to craft and approve a bill before the holiday break, a new year and new membership? GOP lawmakers hope so. Previous attempts at voter ID bills and voting restrictions did not pass muster with the courts.

While Republicans and supporters say photo voter ID is needed for security and to prevent fraud, opponents say it is a form of voter suppression, mostly affecting minorities, the elderly, students and the poor, a way to solve a problem that does not exist. (Mary C. Curtis)

And what else is on the docket for this lame-duck session?

What Are We Thankful for? Decorum, Trump’s New Favorite Word

As a record-breaking number of travelers hit the road, the rails and the skies for Thanksgiving, it is probably with no small amount of dread. How will families keep the peace amid the inevitable clashes over politics and faith, at least until the turkey is eaten and the football games completed?  Never fear. It’s President Donald Trump to the rescue, brandishing his new favorite word: decorum.

As you might have heard, the administration of the man whose tweet replaced letters in a congressman’s name to spell an expletive (can’t you see him rushing to a Cabinet meeting to show off his “clever” handiwork, which would not pass muster for fifth-grade humor) has issued a list of rules for White House reporters in the press room. Play nice or you will have your credentials snatched. Usually, when I think of the president grabbing something from someone he doesn’t know, my thoughts drift to his infamous Access Hollywood tape before I forcefully fill my head with pleasant images — say, puppies or meadows.

Four-year Terms for Charlotte City Council Members?

Charlotte, NC — It’s not a new idea, a switch from two-year to four-year terms for members of the Charlotte city council. Those in favor say it would decrease turnover and allow the council to get more done. But even its members are split on whether this is the right course, and whether voters should weigh in. A move to lengthen County Commissioners’ terms failed with voters; would a similar move by the council do any better?