Back on Black

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According to Rob Christensen at the News and Observer, the head of the N.C. Black Leadership Caucus wants Mickey Michaux of Durham to be the next House Speaker if Jim Black does not seek a fifth term. Based on comments made by Michaux, however, he's the wrong guy for the job.

Carnell Robinson, chairman of the political group, wants to make sure Michaux is in the mix when people talk about the next speaker. Michaux was founding chairman of the caucus. "It appears that there is going to be a leadership void," Robinson said in an interview. "Mickey Michaux is on point on the issues affecting poor folks and black folks in North Carolina."

If Black is a question mark, he wasn't acting like it last week. He said at the time that 50 House Democrats would support his re-election to the top House leadership post next year. Michaux said he won't run if Black does.

"If he doesn't run," Michaux said, "it's wide open."

With all due respect, Mr. Michaux, I call bullshit. Leaders with integrity don't sit back and wait for the field to clear before they decide to do the right thing. Sadly, it may very well be that North Carolina is bereft of leaders with integrity. I find it simply mind boggling that no one has stepped up to deal with this issue head on. Where's Jim Hunt when we need him?

Regardless of what happens with the Decker saga, regardless of whether Jim Black is implicated, guilty, or just an innocent bystander as he claims, he is the wrong person for the job of Speaker for the North Carolina House. Do us all a favor, Mr. Black. Quit while you're behind.


I can't find my research on this

But I know two people have at least put their big toe in the water for the speaker's job. I don't have time to research further, but it was probably back in March or April when it hit the news.

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That's right

I've heard Faison and Hackney ... but not from them. No one's goin' public with nuttin'. It's like they're all eyeing each other in some weird game of hide-and-go-sleaze.

Be careful of your glass house

And you think that isn't business as usual in the Democrat controlled legislature?

You're reason enough

to ban anonymous trolls from BlueNC. When the theocrats in the NCGOP start to clean up their own sleazy electioneering shit, then you'll have the right to talk about glass houses. Until then, shut the fuck up.

Boo hoo!




None of those

Faison is still considered a freshman. Holliman would have to buck the black caucus. Like all Orange County representatives and senators (minus Faison), Hackney is considered too kooky and liberal by his peers. Hackney would really have to make some compromises to ascend to the throne.

Two more

Jim Crawford was mentioned back in April and Drew Saunders but he's too close to Black.

Do the right thing

A postscript to my entry:

My criteria for public leadership are: integrity, competence, and a commitment to the common good. All three are essential, none alone is sufficient.

As near as I can tell, Jim Black is a nice guy who was surprisingly effective in the recent short session. Let's grant that he's competent. Also, people tell me that we could do far worse in terms of having a speaker with progressive values. God knows that's true - and one of my biggest fears is that the NC General Assembly might go the way of Kansas. So perhaps Mr. Black has some appreciation for the common good. But then there's the integrity issue. Without that in place, nothing else matters.

Where's Jim Hunt when we need him?

Stumbling around drunk on someone's yacht.

Who do you think put Jim Black in power in the first place? It is amazing how clueless you guys are about your own party's politics.

If your criteria for public leadership are integrity, competence, and a commitment to the common good, then you should go back to sleep.


is coming to Asheville this weekend for a ginormous fundraiser for Heath Shuler.

You're invited to join
Heath Shuler and Special Guests:
The Honorable James B. Hunt, Former Governor of North Carolina
The Honorable John Tanner, Congressman
Date: Saturday, August 5th Time: 5:00-7:00PM
Location: Blue Ridge Motion Pictures
12 Old Charlotte Highway, Asheville, NC 28802
Evening will include:
Tours of the Movie Studio
Live Entertainment provided by the ChillBillies
Live Auction, including a 2 day hunt at Wynfield Plantation
Price: $100 per couple
Everyone is Welcome!
To RSVP please contact us by phone at 828-258-7352 or by email at

Scrutiny Hooligans -

Free Beer

Obviously there must be an open bar.


engaging debate is one thing, being an asshole is another

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.


... which is exactly why Hunt's the perfect person to talk Black down.


He's dead Jim.

It doesn't take a monied elite hippie from Chapel Hill to see that.

I see you two are on a first-name basis

Jim and Asshole. Asshole sure is a common name in these parts. I think my family even has a few bearing that moniker.

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I don't know if the "Jim" the Asshole refers to is Jim Hunt, Jim Black or me. Of course, I don't go by "Jim" anymore, so the presumption of familiarity is, well, presumptuous.


It looked to me like he was addressing you....

it was difficult to tell since he didn't set the name off with a comma...but then...I don't do the grammar/punctuation police thing. I make too many mistakes to do that.

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Why not Jennifer Weiss?

Wake County delegation. Female. Progressive, but re-elected twice in Cary. Three terms.

Why not?

NandO displays nice expose of corrupt NC Dems over the years

Here are a handful of scandals involving North Carolina politicians:

* In 2005, former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance was sentenced to four years in a federal prison for funneling about $100,000 in public money from a nonprofit he founded to his law firm, church and relatives.

* In 2004, Meg Scott Phipps, the former agriculture commissioner from a storied North Carolina political family, was sentenced to four years in a federal prison for taking tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions. Phipps' father and grandfather were former North Carolina governors.

* In 2003, Garland B. Garrett Jr., a former state Transportation secretary, was sentenced to five months in prison for operating an illegal gambling business.

* In 1997, former Lt. Gov. Jimmy Green was sentenced to 33 months of house arrest for income tax fraud in connection with a multimillion-dollar tobacco fraud scheme.

* In 1982, former state Rep. G. Ron Taylor was sentenced to five years in prison for accepting a $1,500 bribe from an undercover agent.

Might I introduce you to

Might I introduce you to Congressman Charles Taylor, friend of bank defrauders, funneler of Federal dollars to Russia, and destroyer of the environment, protected only by the party identification of the current Attorney General of the United States?

Asshole Repub can't remember his criminals!

Things must be a little slow down at Repub HQ's to have
Asshole Repub show up and take on A.

while John Carrington has been sentenced and Sam Currin was recently indicted. Clearly, criminal behavior seems to be an equal opportunity employer and corruption is rife in this state. * Most hated
Candiate by the Republican leadership in this State

No one

The only person deserving of the speakership once all of this is settled will be a new member. None of the old members preserved their integrity during this episode, not even our beloved progressives. Of course, the speakership goes to the majority party. The question remains, when voters take stock of the problems in Raleigh, which party will be in the majority?


Where are your graphics? Don't you have a hand that anonymous can address. Then we don't even have to acknowledge his/her existence. That would really p... him/her off.


Black should step down now

before he pulls the NCDP down with him. The consequences of a Libertarian takeover in November would be terrible for NC.

Does he have a Rethug opponent in November, or is he unopposed?

Follow the money: The Black & Decker Power Drill

I'm taking the liberty of posting this new email verbatim from Democracy NC

Follow the money: The Black & Decker Power Drill

Good people:

"Follow the money" is good advice in matters such as Michael Decker's guilty plea in federal court earlier this week (Click here for news story).

The first campaign report that Decker filed after switching parties and voting for Speaker Jim Black in 2003 is full of revelations. Below is a link to an analysis of that report by Democracy North Carolina. It shows the donors of the checks totaling $37,600 which we suspected came to Decker at Jim Black's request -- i.e., this is the "about $38,000" involved in Overt Act #4, the federal charge that Decker received about $38,000 in checks and $12,000 in cash in a deal to vote for Black.

These donors include, near the bottom of the list, the $2,500 that lobbyist Alexander "Sandy" Sands III told the State Board of Elections he solicited from his fellow Womble Carlyle lawyers, at Speaker Jim Black's request, and then sent via FedEx to Black's home -- i.e., Overt Act #3 in list of federal charges.

Other money comes from video-poker donors, chiropractors, optometrists, hog operators, etc. Our analysis of past reports indicates that NONE of these donors had ever given to Decker before. They are all related to, or themselves, reliable donors to House Speaker Black.

In testimony at the State Board of Elections, several of these donors admitted that they also gave Jim Black checks payable to Rep. Steve Wood, another Republican the Speaker was then wooing to his side. It seems appropriate to ask why these people would make contributions to Decker and Wood, but send their checks to Speaker Black. Didn't they have any qualms about the appropriateness of such a transaction -- even as members of the state's largest law firm? Are they at risk of being charged with participating in a conspiracy?

If nothing else, maybe political donors will be more careful about the circumstances surrounding the money they give. They are learning that the joke about our campaign finance system being "legalized bribery" may not be so funny.

Click here for the list of Decker donors or here for the original report that we released:

For more new stories about Decker's guilty plea, go here:

By all means, please write a letter to the editor about the need for serious campaign reform that rewards candidates who (1) reject special-interest donations and (2) rely on gathering a large number of small donations from voters who authorize their access to a "clean" Public Fund -- i.e., "Voter-Owned Elections." We need YOUR voice in the news!

Thank you,

Bob Hall
Democracy North Carolina
105 W. Main Street
Carrboro, NC 27510

I prefer the ScumBuster myself but the Power Drill works too.

Mr. Mike Swings And Misses

Easley had his soapbox pumped and primed today, but apparently didn't have the gumption to stand for integrity, not unlike the way he handles death penalty cases.

But the state's top Democrat, Gov. Mike Easley, didn't mince words when asked about the guilty plea of ex-Rep. Michael Decker and his ties to Black, although the two-term governor also declined to say if the speaker should resign.


Okay. I take it back. I'm wrong on this one ... and I'm leaving this comment up to prove it.



It gets tiring watching you guys excoriate Governor Easley, letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Do you actually think you'd be in better shape, or that we'd be more "ethically led" if Brubaker had become Speaker, or if Easley weren't governor.

Don't make me laugh.

Black did a bad thing. he should resign. you shouldn't expect the Governor to demand that resignation of the head of another branch of government, when part of the investigation is bneing overseen by another elected head of a state agency.

You know better than that.

I've got to agree

with the substance (if not the tone) of this comment. What happens from here is up to the House Dem contingent and the voters in Black's district. And where it is appropriate for those in merely political positions or those outside the government and party to engage in "should-ing", the Governor's considerable political weight should be thrown elsewhere.

Keep in mind that when it's a different Governor and a different set of charges, we might not be so happy to have the Governor's office applying pressure to the political process. What would we be saying if a Republican Governor were playing judge, jury, and executioner with Democratic politicians?


I should have added that what happens from here is also up to the investigating authorities. Left that out.

We'd be giving that Republican Governor

holy hell if we thought he was wrong. And if we thought he was right, I hope we'd have the integrity to say so.

But why the "judge, jury" baloney? Have we gotten to a point where a political office holder can't actually say what he thinks? I'm not saying he should declare Black guilty. I'm saying he should say, "I think North Carolina would be better off if Jim Black resigned his position as speaker."

There are plenty of times

There are plenty of times when people shouldn't say what they're thinking, and not just to be polite. Sometimes professionalism dictates a course of conduct that is not what you'd normally do. I know you know all this; I'm just explaining where I'm coming from on this.

You understand that if Governor Easley said "I think North Carolina would be better off if Jim Black resigned his position as speaker" it would have a very different effect than it has when you say it. Would it be enough to clap Black in irons and haul him off to the pit? No. But the opposite (that it wouldn't impact the process underway) isn't true either, and the effect of the Governor's speech is closer to "the pit" and yours is closer to "no impact."

That's the weight that, if brought to bear by a politically opposed Governor, would make me cry foul. And acting like the Governor is just another guy with an opinion when you think it will serve your ends is disingenuous. We have vested the office of Governor with a great deal of political power, which means that the man or woman occupying that seat may sometimes have to meet a different ethical standard than you or I.

To be clear: I'm not saying that Easley can't say what he wants on this issue, or even that the ethical question is black and white. But my feeling is that there's a process at work here that seems to be working, and that the state's CEO ought to stay out of it at this stage.

Okay. I'm convinced.

Easley shouldn't have said anything at this point. I'll be happy to do his talking for him.

NOTE TO Anonymous. You were right on this one. My apologies.

There's a much more practical angle on this:

Black will have to be reelected as speaker before he can do any more damage. If Easley tries and fails to influence that decision by saying that he thinks that Black shouldn't be speaker, then we're going into the next legislative session with a Governor in express opposition to his party's House delegation on a pretty fundamental question. That wouldn't be prudent, methinks.

If he tries and succeeds, it will appear that the Governor is running the show in the House, and that's a separation of powers problem that quickly becomes a political problem.

:) We were writing at the same time

I don't mean to flog dead horses. You and Anonymous just got me thinking on this, and the train of thought was hard to stop.

My very favorite thing about this site is how impromptu discussions like this one can lead me to a better understanding of politics and government. That's selfish of me, I know. But there you go!


You sound like a seasoned political operator with enough cliches to fill a whole pad of talking points. You expect good? I expect better. You don't want to laugh? I'm sick of being depressed.

Black did a bad thing, he should resign. We agree on that much.

But I expect to have a Governor who's not afraid to say what he thinks. Suggesting that Black resign as speaker has no relationship whatsoever to whether there is an investigation going on. The fact is, Easley should have encouraged Jim Black to resign long ago.

You're the one who used the word "demand," not me. But when your world is filled with political posturing, it's easy to see why you might be confused, why you might not understand the simple act of having an opinion and speaking it with integrity. And I thought I was a cynic.


PS For a person who's tired of watching us 'excoriate' Mr. Mike, you sure do spend a lot of time doing it. Though I'd have to argue with the verb choice and pronoun. I don't think most people here share my frustration with Mike Easley. And it would be a pretty gross exaggeration to categorize my comments as excoriation. I haven't even made a tacky picture of the Governor to go along with my tacky comments.

Nope...the tacky pictures are my territory

You step one foot into my territory and verily I say I will smite ye.....or something like that. ;)

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Turn up the heat

State buildings reset thermostats as heat wave punishes N.C.

Gov. Mike Easley ordered thermostats in most state buildings set a few degrees higher on Wednesday

I wish he'd turn up the heat on Jim Black. He's still trying to prove to his childhood taunters that he's not "Easley swayed".

3 hours and a few post later...

OK so he did say this:

"It's a blight on the state," Easley said. "There's no need to pretend that it's not. I commend the prosecutors for moving aggressively, moving rapidly, and I hope more information comes out sooner rather than later (and) we get to the bottom of it and the truth comes out."

I hope that as a party "elder" he's expressing strong views about integrity behind the scenes even if it's prudent to be circumspect in public.

Black Has Got To Go

I'm frustrated by the state party's unwillingness to take a real stand on ethics. I'd like to see them call for Black's resignation.

Better- I'd like to see Black resign and save everyone the trouble.

Scrutiny Hooligans -

Jerry Meek

needs to call Jim Black ask him to resign, not just as Speaker, but from the legislature. The stink from this could cost the Democrats control of the legislature in November, and we don't want to go there.

I was anaonymous above

I was just too lazy to register.

Thanks for seeing the light. ;-)

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

Light is good.

Unless it blinds you. Or something like that.

All is well.