After struggling to find the top Best Moments of 2020 that had to do with policy and politics, we decided to go with three easier ones, the Top Three Lowest moments. Of course, COVID-19 was the overall lowest moment for us all and had the most impact on public policy and election outcomes. But that’s too easy. So here we go…
3. Governor Cooper marching in solidarity with protestors. Cooper, seeing an opportunity for headlines, dashed out of the Mansion to join protestors marching on June 1, 2020. As reported in the North State Journal, “he walked approximately 200-feet from one gate of the mansion to another alongside George Floyd protesters. Cooper’s walk with the protesters was brisk, and his mask dangled from one ear. Reporters and the crowd shouted questions, which he did not answer, but instead waved and smiled.”
Cooper’s protest march followed a night of violence and unrest and was part of a stretch of demonstrations that cost North Carolina taxpayers plenty. The cost of riots and protests for law enforcement included a total cost of nearly $350,000 for the N.C. State Highway Patrol. “The Wake County Sheriff’s Office reported $400,000 in costs, the State Capitol Police reported $48,000, Alcohol Law Enforcement officers had $27,000 and the activation of the North Carolina National Guard members cost $725,000“ and the Raleigh Police Department reported costs of $1,438,450, according to the North State article.
After all the damage and devastation, fires set in businesses and activated chaos in downtown Raleigh and other cities, and boarded-up windows and businesses closed down for weeks and months, it was not the best “Come to North Carolina” business photo for Governor Cooper.
2. Cooper stripping school choice funds out of his budget.
In a blog we wrote in late August, we detailed how Governor Cooper’s state budget proposal cut funding from the state’s Opportunity Scholarship program. As we wrote then, “The Opportunity Scholarships program provides money for families who want to get their children out of bad or dangerous educational situations and have the opportunity to learn in a private school setting.”
We went on to say that, “the Governor appears to be doing the bidding of the left-leaning NCAE teachers union…” and reasoned that for “the politicians and the union bosses – allowing parents the opportunity to choose the best course for their children that is out of the coercive power of state government and its chief crony – the NCAE – rocks the foundation of the union mindset. So they fight back. Who suffers? So many of the very children and families that the Governor and his ilk are always saying they’re trying to protect.”
This was a low point for the liberal leadership in the state. They are always talking about their great concern for all the children. This action by the Governor to strip away school choice money shattered any illusion that the liberals’ much-bally-hooed education efforts are about caring for the children. More often it’s for political expedience.
1. SBOE changing the rules and extending mail-in voting period.
North Carolina’s State Board of Elections extended its mail-in ballot deadline from Nov. 6 to Nov. 12, nine days after Election Day, according to a deal worked out between the SBOE and a union-backed group and defended by Attorney General Stein. The reason given for the deal – which came about after early voting had started – was that the increased reliance on mail-in voting because of Covid-19 would overwhelm the US Postal Service. The deal was that any mail postmarked by Election Day would be accepted to through Nov. 12.
State GOP legislative leaders appealed the ruling, arguing that the deadline change put in place by the State Board of Elections usurped legislators’ constitutional authority to set rules for elections. The legislative leadership maintained also that because the change was made after early voting had already started that it would create unequal treatment of voters who had already voted under the previous rules.
The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court and surprisingly, by a 5-3 decision, they did not take action to reverse the SBOE ruling.
That doesn’t make it right. The entire mail-in voting process – from how early voting transpired to allowing days after the election for mail arrival and late counting – only creates an atmosphere in voters’ minds that something dastardly could be going on. The biggest surprise was that the U.S. Supreme Court seems to often rule in favor of states’ legislative bodies taking care of each state’s own election process, and here they allowed the state Executive Branch to crush those powers. We believe election reform is still needed to address our election process.
That’s three of the low spots for NC policy and politics for 2020. Stay tuned for the 2020 High Spots in coming days. Merry old Christmas and looking forward to a New Year!