Airport Receives CARES Boost To Offset Covid-19 Losses – April 22

By Beth Lawrence, The Sylva Herald

When COVID-19’s impact on airports comes up in conversation, it’s not likely that Jackson County Airport springs to mind, but it has nonetheless been affected.

In late March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act which included $10 billion in relief to aid airports harmed by the pandemic.

North Carolina’s 72 public airports received $284 million in federal aid. 

Jackson County, one of the state’s 62 general aviation airports, received $20,000 of that money.

“The CARES Act allocated money for airports across the nation, every airport,” said Jim Rowell, Jackson County Airport manager. “The Federal Aviation Administration allocated it based on how big the airport is, how much traffic it sees, payroll and the number of employees according to their scale.”

Asheville Regional Airport received more than $14 million, Macon County Airport and Western Carolina Regional Airport in Andrews both were awarded $30,000.

Jackson’s airport does not have paid employees, but it still has operating costs that would have been covered by revenue lost due the pandemic.

The CARES Act funds will be used to cover utilities and other expenses.

“Everything that goes on from an operations standpoint is still going on,” Rowell said. “My recommendation is that the funds be used for utilities, maintenance of equipment such as runway lighting, related safety devices.”

The airport does not offer commercial flights but can accommodate small planes and helicopters that land there.

Owners landing aircraft at Jackson often pay overnight tie down fees or buy fuel.

The opportunity to land there brings revenue into the county from second homeowners in Jackson County and people vacationing or conducting business in the area.

The facility is estimated to bring $1.3 million in revenue to the county.

Rowell gave an example of how airport business has been impacted.

Last week he received a call from a man who wanted to fly into Jackson County and pick up a machine part in Haywood County.

Rowell informed the man he would have to provide his own transportation, could not rent a room if he planned to stay overnight and would be required to self-quarantine for 14 days if he planned to stay.

The man was unaware of the restrictions and decided not to fly to Jackson.

The airport is owned by the county, operated by the Jackson County Airport Authority and funded with local, state and federal dollars.

Amid COVID-19 Crisis, HERE Continues to Fill Housing Needs – April 22

By Beth Lawrence, The Sylva Herald

While most of the world hunkers down to curb the spread of coronavirus, aid agencies like HERE in Jackson County continue to provide crucial services.

Since its work began last year, HERE has placed 69 people in permanent housing. That number includes 16 families and 17 individuals.

The organization currently has dozens of people in emergency shelter.

“The majority of our shelter clients are single adults, so total individuals including those in eight families is 33,” said Bob Cochran director of HERE.

HERE contracts with local hotels to get people into emergency accommodations.

The process of getting people into permanent housing can take as little as weeks or much longer.

“Many of our clients have struggled with homelessness for years and even as children when their parents could not provide a safe, stable home for them,” Cochran said. “We use a housing first model. Evidence shows that mental health treatment, vocational training, child welfare intervention and other social investments have a much greater return when individuals have safe, secure and permanent housing from which to operate.”

HERE works with a range of people. Some clients are people with chronic health conditions who were living on Social Security Disability but lost their home. A person without a permanent address is disqualified from receiving benefits. Helping that person could be as simple as finding an apartment and getting their disability benefit reestablished.

Others need more help.

“There’s a big difference between a family with income needing assistance getting into permanent housing versus somebody with no income, ID, birth certificate or Social Security card,” Cochran said.

For individuals in the latter group, the process can take several months. Many of HERE’s clients are able to move forward and maintain housing and a stable environment for themselves or their families. Others cannot and find themselves homeless again.

The organization is working on strategies to improve those outcomes. Cochran believes all the effort is worth it in the long run.

“Children growing up in stable households are more likely to do better in school and become productive members of society as adults,” he said.

To be eligible for subsidies like Section 8 housing, a person must have credentials like ID and a birth certificate.

Cochran is currently assisting a client who was born in another country but is a naturalized citizen. He cannot obtain a copy of the client’s birth certificate from the birth country or locate adoption paperwork.

“So many people are here from other states,” he said. “This year I’ve sent off to Illinois, Georgia and Florida for birth certificates.”

Landlords require prospective tenants to have income. Some need guidance finding work. There are subsidies available to help with rent, but those stipends are based on income. The subsidies are designed to ensure that the person does not pay more than 30 percent of income on rent and utilities.

The cost to help clients varies. On average HERE pays for about six weeks of emergency shelter. The agency also helps clients cover the cost of moving into long-term housing.

“If we estimate one person or one family needing cold weather shelter for six weeks before entering permanent housing, that cost would be $2,730,” Cochran said. “First month’s rent and deposits for a two bedroom house or apartment would be approximately $1,586.

That includes $693 for rent, $693 for a deposit and $200 for utility deposits, if needed, he said.

The organization partners with The Community Table to feed shelter clients, but pays for meals on Wednesday when the pantry is closed. They are also exploring ways to provide meals on the weekend for shelter clients without income.

Clients can receive transportation to and from appointments and help purchasing prescriptions.

Sometimes caseworkers run into problems due to the availability of housing, high level of competition for available units, and finding landlords willing to rent to the recently homeless or someone with poor credit.

“Usually it’s hard for our clients to find apartments,” Cochran said. “You or I would just hop in our cars and go look at it. A lot of times they’re trying to do everything over the phone, and they don’t make a good first impression. The landlord knows its limited means and senses there are challenges from the very beginning. They’ve got so many barriers, and when they’re competing against other prospective tenants, they don’t always come across well. They’re not always the strongest applicant.”

Sylva is Bracing for a Dent in Finances – April 22

By Dave Russell, The Sylva Herald

Sylva’s budget is not immune to the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across the world. The resulting closure of all but essential businesses is putting a deep dent in the town’s financial future.

“It’s going to reduce sales tax, it’s going to reduce vehicle tax and occupancy taxes,” Sylva town Manager Paige Dowling said. “The revenue that comes in between early March and June is going to be significantly impacted. Looking at the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, we are estimating a decrease of about 20 percent in sales tax.”

The town is looking at appropriating about $190,000 from its fund balance, or rainy day fund, she said. 

The town’s fund balance right now is 80.86 percent of total budget.

“The state’s goal for towns our size is 81 percent,” Dowling said. “If we adopt this balanced budget and with that appropriation of $190,000, the estimated fund balance will be 74.21 percent.”

The 2019-20 budget appropriated $50,000 from the fund balance.

“We’ll also take $91,500 from capital reserves,” she said. “That is the fund set aside for capital purchases, such as equipment. We’re still planning on purchasing two police cars. That’s to keep up with our vehicle replacement schedule, because when we push it out, the years that we have to replace three cars instead of one or two, it’s so difficult on our budget.”

The town board received the balanced draft budget Tuesday evening, with an April 30 budget work session (online via Zoom) slated to review it. Another budget work session is scheduled for May 14.

At a Jan. 23 budget session, town leaders listened to department heads’ pitches and justifications for their requests, and board members threw their own wish lists out for consideration.

“Nothing is definite yet,” Dowling said. “Almost all the wants and needs are not going to be funded, just because this is such an uncertain budget and we do not have the revenue to fund the requests.”

Some items that town leaders talked about that might not see funding include: 

• one or two more police officers.

• additional funding for the Blackrock Creek tract.

• an all-terrain vehicle.

Items still in the draft budget include:

• two police patrol vehicles.

• video surveillance cameras for the Department of Public Works parking area.

• a part-time Main Street manager, though that job is now a contract position instead of a part-time employee.

• a Bridge Park improvement plan, with money coming from the town’s Fisher Creek fund.

• a comprehensive land use plan and zoning ordinance update, required by the state.

“The things that remain in the budget are mainly things that we can pay from other sources, like Fisher Creek or capital reserves,” Dowling said. “Our expenditures have not had an increase, just that we’re projecting a significant revenue loss.”

Jackson County Budget is Feeling COVID-19 – April 22

By Beth Lawrence, The Sylva Herald

Jackson County Finance Director Darlene Fox said the COVID-19 pandemic has not affected the county’s ability to put together a budget, but it may impact the final outcome.

All departments and organizations have submitted their projected budgets and made financial requests despite having to adapt to new methods of operation due to the pandemic.

“A few were delayed but in by the time I needed to process for budget reports,” Fox said. “I have extended the deadline for a few nonprofits to have their applications submitted.”

Despite the delays, preparation of the budget is on schedule and department meetings began this week.

The Board of Commissioners will have a first look at the budget, including requests and projects on May 12. The completed budget should be submitted to the board by June 1.

The state has made provisions for counties to pass interim budgets if needed, but Fox believes Jackson’s budget will be ready by the June 30 deadline.

Fox and County Manager Don Adams, who is working part time while recovering from a health issue, consider a number of components when creating the budget.

“We look at the requests from our departments and agencies, look at revenues over the past several years, and any current situations that may have an impact on the revenues,” Fox said.

They also consider appeals for department or agency funding based on how that entity impacts the county and its residents along with whether there is money in the budget to fund the program, budget increase or request for financial support.

When making those decisions this year, the county will need to consider the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has on the county’s coffers.

“I expect to see a decline in sales tax revenue and fees,” Fox said. “Some items may have to be delayed until we see the total impact.”

She also expects to see reductions in the amount of certain fees coming in.

Property taxes may also be impacted in the next year. 

“The current year property tax revenue is at 99.05 percent of the budgeted amount; at this point, I think the property tax revenue will be fine,” she said. “The bills will go out in August and won’t be considered past due until the first of January.”

When deciding what to fund, decision-makers would likely cancel capital projects or decline to fund new programs. Some may only need to be delayed a few months until the full impact of the pandemic is known.

Jackson County is fortunate that there is money in the fund balance to offset some of the losses, Fox said.

Moe Davis, 11th District Democratic Nominee, is Endorsed By Planned Parenthood Action Fund – April 17

ASHEVILLE — Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which works to protect the rights of women to have access to vital reproductive healthcare and sex education, has endorsed Moe Davis for Congress in North Carolina’s 11th District.

“People need to know their elected officials are looking out for them, especially during a public health crisis like we’re experiencing now,” Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood Action Fund acting president, said in a statement released today. “It’s more important than ever that we have reproductive health champions in Congress fighting back against Donald Trump and leadership in the Senate who are actively working to undermine our healthcare and leaving us woefully unprepared to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Davis, the retired Air Force Colonel and former Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, National Security Specialist for Congress, law professor at Howard University and judge with the U.S. Department of Labor, has long supported a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her reproductive health free from governmental interference.

“Planned Parenthood has been a champion of reproductive healthcare for over a century and has provided essential healthcare services to millions of Americans from all walks of life,’’ Davis said. “I’m grateful they have endorsed my campaign. I believe all individuals have the right to make their own healthcare choices and I believe all individuals have the right to healthcare. Neither one should be dependent on economic status.”

Planned Parenthood Action Fund joins the Sierra Club, VoteVets, AFL-CIO Western North Carolina Central Labor Council, Equality NC and Patriotic Millionaires in endorsing Davis.

You can learn more about Moe Davis at moedavisforcongress.com and follow him at @ColMorrisDavis and @MoeNC11 on Twitter, and at @MoeDavisforCongress on Facebook and Instagram.

Contact: Viv Bernstein:   828-214-7876 or viv.bernstein@moedavis.com

Mountain Strong

Southwestern Community College to Host Virtual Job Fair – April 17

Written by  Cory Vaillancourt, Smoky Mountain News

Southwestern Community College Director of Career Services Michael Despeaux has been holding bricks-and-mortar job fairs for almost 20 years, but on Friday, April 24, he’ll hold his very first “virtual job fair” to connect employers and job seekers online.

“As of now, I’ve sent out invitations to the virtual job fair to well over 7,000 employers and 400 who regularly or actively recruit through SCC,” Despeaux said on April 10.

Thus far, he’s had close to a dozen employers respond, not only from Jackson County but also regional businesses and non-local businesses that have a local footprint. Those include well-known names like Drake Software, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Terminix pest control services.

Despeaux said he’s been targeting essential businesses that are in a position to hire, but he’s also targeting businesses that will need employees quickly once business returns to normal in the coming weeks or months.

Many of those employers rely on students from Western Carolina University, but since large numbers of WCU students are from major metropolitan areas like Charlotte and Atlanta, they’re no longer here, looking for part-time or summer jobs like they normally would be.

“Our local labor force will be more critical than ever,” Despeaux said.

The virtual job fair will give employers an opportunity to make presentations on available jobs and how to apply for them, and may become a weekly event, according to Despeaux.

Applicants should visit www.southwesterncc.edu/job-board to register for the virtual job fair.

Employers looking to participate should contact Michael Despeaux, Southwestern Community College director of career services by emailing m_despeaux@southwesterncc.edu.

Jackson County Commissioners Meeting Review – April 7

Thanks to Gayle Barker Woody, Jackson County Commissioner

I am sharing some notes to address questions I have received from citizens during this CORONA-VIRUS crisis. This is NOT a comprehensive report on our meeting.

“What are you all doing to address the crisis?”

Well, as individual commissioners, we are each doing individual things. I think when folks ask this question – they want to know what our County Government is doing. We had a report Tuesday from the following:

1) Our acting County Manager and County Attorney, Heather Baker.
Mrs. Baker, by the way, is doing an outstanding job filling in for County Manager Don Adams. He is doing well recovering from a heart attack and by-pass surgery.
Mrs. Baker is overseeing all functions of County Government. All departments are open and serving citizens. Whenever possible, they are working remotely, and if that is not possible, they are taking all necessary precautions. Please CALL the County Department first if you require their services. (phone numbers are on the WEB site) They will let you know if you NEED to come to the Justice Center. Otherwise, they will help you over the phone.

2) Todd Dillard – Director Emergency Management Team
Mr. Dillard is doing an outstanding job coordinating our team and services. The Team has been operational since March 16 – 24/7 and is one of the reasons we have a low number of infections so far. They have addressed 398 health related calls so far. They have ordered large amounts of protective gear, including masks. They have purchased and deployed 4 new (making a total of 8 county wide) message boards which encourage following state and county directives. They can also post emergency updates as needed. The state of North Carolina evaluates each county with a “Preparedness Rating”. In 2017-18 Jackson County earned a “B” rating. In February of 2020, Jackson County earned a 100% rating – due in large part to the leadership of Todd Dillard. (that is according to Shelley Carroway, Health Director)

3) Shelley Carroway – Jackson County Department of Public Health – Director
Good data allows our county officials to make good decisions. Mrs. Carroway and her staff, including Mellissa McNight, Deputy Health Director, are working tirelessly to keep us updated and aware of current COVID-19 cases and results of testing as we move forward. She emphasized the importance of continuing the “stay home, stay safe” order. In fact, now more than ever as we reach a critical period of the outbreak “curve”. Ms. Carroway emphasized the need to keep social distancing and take it very seriously. We still have 2 known cases of COVID-19 in Jackson County, but there are test results continually coming in, so that number can change. For daily updates, go to the Health Department WEB site.

4) Chip Hall – Sheriff, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department
Sheriff Hall told us he is in daily communication with State officials and surrounding counties’ Sheriff Departments. He shared several recent changes to address current needs –
a) School Resource Officers have been reassigned duties in the community
b) There are increased patrols in southern Jackson County
c) There are increased patrols county wide
d) They are monitoring county businesses’ compliance with directives and orders
e) No fines have currently been assessed. So far, businesses are responding to officers’ concerns about non-compliance
f) No need for curfew at this time. The volume of traffic drops after 8:00pm when businesses close. This will continue to be evaluated.
g) The State of North Carolina does not recommend road closures. Jackson County has US Highways as well as State highways and our local roads. Essential traffic uses these roads throughout our county.

If you have questions about the above information, please email me at gaylewoody@jacksonnc.org. I do not reply to Facebook messages. It is all I can do to keep up with email and texts.

Thank you to ALL our public servants who are serving us so well during these difficult days.

May each of us do our part as well. Stay well and safe.
Gayle

 

Register to Vote Now

​​​​​You may apply to register to vote online. Click the button below to complete an application for new voter registration or to update your address or party affiliation. Updated information will only apply to your voter registration.

Please note: ​​There is no fee to apply for voter registration through the PayIt online service and you do not need to create an account with PayIt. Select “Continue as a guest” to bypass creating an account. 

Once the online application is complete, it is sent to the N.C. State Board of Elections, which handles voter registrations.

If there are any issues with the application or if more information is needed, your county board of elections will contact you to complete the process. Voter registration applications submitted fewer than 25 days before an election will not be processed until after the election. You may still register to vote in person using same-day registration in your county during the early voting period.

Go to Voter Registration Application

​This service is offered through a partnership between the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles and the N.C. State Board of Elections​.

Stepping Up to Face the Challenges of a New Reality: “Sylva Herald” Changes

Editorial, Sylva Herald

Sylva Herald Announces Changes 

The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have put an end to business as usual in Jackson County.

Simply put, the business of people in Jackson County is, well, people. Gatherings of people, to be specific, at places like restaurants and breweries, at churches, at venues like Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, the Jackson County Public Library, at Western Carolina University’s Ramsey Center and on and on.

In a time of pandemic, gathering together is possibly the most dangerous thing we can do.

Gov. Roy Cooper has shuttered restaurants except for takeout and delivery. The big venues of the area have gone dark.

Workers and employers are feeling the impacts. So is the Sylva Herald.

Advertising has taken a dive as businesses close or curtail operations. The lucrative months for a town that relies on spring and summer tourism to carry it through the dark months aren’t going to provide a buffer this year.

Beyond that, the lifeblood of this paper’s usual content – church announcements, gallery openings, book readings and high school and collegiate sports – has been poisoned by the coronavirus as well.

It’s hard to have a sports section when you don’t have sports. It’s impossible to report on community events when there aren’t any, outside of cyberspace.

But even though the community is hunkered down, it still needs a reliable source of information. We intend to continue to be that source.

But it’s going to look a little different.

We’ve reduced our normal operating hours, basically to Monday-Wednesday. Reporters and editors will work more from home and work in staggered shifts in an effort to protect from possible coronavirus exposure and to trim payroll. We’ve upped our online presence at our web page and Facebook site.

We’ll work to combine as many pages as we can, and may start printing papers of only one section instead of the normal two or three. Again, with spring sports on hold, that’s not a hard call.

This plan should keep us going into summer even if the pandemic situation doesn’t improve. It will allow us to continue to be the trusted source of information in these extraordinary times.

In the meantime, we offer the deepest thanks to our readers for offering news updates and tips and for invaluable help in shooting down the rumors that are spreading like wildfire in this age. We are truly all in this together, and the response from this community – pitching in, helping out, lending a hand to those in need – just reinforces what we’ve all known for a very long time:

This is a place worth fighting for.

We intend to keep swinging.

 

Joe Sam Queen – Raleigh Report, March 19, 2020

Coronavirus Update

Yesterday, March 18, the CDC reported 7,038 cases of the virus, with the death count totaling 97. The virus was found in all 54 of the United States’ territories. Visit the NYT Estimate for an informative look as to why this matters.

As of today, March 19, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services had not reported any cases of Covid-19 in either Jackson, Haywood or Swain Counties. While this news provides temporary relief, I’d like to ask all citizens to adopt safe practices and follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Myself, Governor Cooper and many of my fellow legislators are all working hard to provide North Carolina with the necessary strategies and resources to weather the Coronavirus. Stay tuned for periodic updates

Unemployment Concerns

On Tuesday, Mar. 17, Governor Cooper announced changes to unemployment benefits to ease the application process and eligibility requirements. Benefits, which normally require a waiting period, are now available to everyone misplaced. Additionally, work requirements and employer payments are not required to receive said benefits.
For your unemployment questions visit the Dept. of Commerce. For our next steps be sure to check out Joe Sam’s Notes below.

Business Concerns

Governor Cooper has requested that the U.S. Small Business Administration grant a disaster declaration for business owners in North Carolina facing economic losses due to the new Coronavirus. SBA approved the Governor’s request late Wednesday afternoon, issuing a disaster declaration for all 100 North Carolina counties. We wanted to provide details to you regarding the process that small businesses will follow to apply for a disaster loan through SBA, as well as provide answers to frequently asked questions about the loans.
For more information about applying click here.
There is no question that the economic impacts of this pandemic are going to be substantial. There will be much more to do as we recover. Stay tuned.

Four Things We Can All Do

First, we all want to stay well by keeping our social distance, washing our hands properly and keeping informed. Secondly, if we’re sick, we should stay home and not unnecessarily spread the virus.

1.  Wash Your Hands

2.  Keep Our Social Distance

3. Stay Home if You’re Sick

4.  Inform Ourselves

 

 

Below are some credible and useful links regarding the virus:

 

Joe Sam’s Notes

This crisis is amplifying the urgent need for North Carolina Legislature to stop the obstruction and work together to:

  1. Expand Medicaid in North Carolina. Now! For more information regarding this check out Billions Better.
  2. Restore North Carolina’s Unemployment Benefits Now! For more information check out this article.
  3. Put forth a full court press for high speed internet in North Carolina for everyone, everywhere for everything. Now! For more on a strategy for broadband expansion check out my Newsletter #14.

Our Legislative Leadership needs to recognize we need a Comprehensive Budget Now! more than ever. It is truly unacceptable in this crisis for them to continue to claim it is just okay to do Nothing.

If you or a loved one is concerned about your health, the numbers for each of District 119’s Health Departments are listed below:

Haywood – (828) 452-6620

Jackson – (828) 586-8994

Swain – (828) 488-3198

 

NC Democratic Party – Notice for Upcoming Meetings

Good morning members of the North Carolina Democratic Party, 

As we continue to work to safeguard against the COVID-19 outbreak, NCDP wanted to again update you on the latest steps our party is taking to protect the health and well-being of our Party members and staff while also continuing to work towards our shared goals this fall. To read and share this announcement online, click here.

Last night, the Executive Council of the North Carolina Democratic Party met again to discuss the best possible solution for 2020 County and District conventions. The Council approved a resolution regarding county and district conventions that would, among other changes, move all conventions regardless of size to a virtual platform and change the dates of the conventions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The resolution and change are still subject to approval by the DNC. Read the full resolution online HERE. Among the key changes:

  • All County Conventions scheduled for March 28, 2020 will now be held April 25, 2020 and must be held as ‘Virtual County Conventions’ via North Carolina Democratic Party telecommunications tools.
  • All District Conventions scheduled for April 25, 2020 will now be held May 16, 2020 and must be held as ‘Virtual District Conventions’ via North Carolina Democratic Party telecommunications tools.

These changes are on top of the additional precautions we as a party are taking to safeguard the health and well-being of our staff, our members, and all North Carolinians. As previously announced last week and earlier this week,  

These changes are on top of the additional precautions we as a party are taking to safeguard the health and well-being of our staff, our members, and all North Carolinians. As previously announced last week and earlier this week, those measures include: closing NCDP headquarters to the public through May 1, 2020; mandating remote working for all staff until at least April 1st; limiting in-person meetings when possible; and, postponing all party sponsored events, including fundraisers, until further notice.

NCDP has also launched a resource page on our website to direct visitors to appropriate guidance from state and local officials: https://www.ncdp.org/covid-19-response/. We have also created a pop-up on our website front page to encourage people to look to state leaders for appropriate information.

We understand that this is a difficult time, and that people are anxious and worried about the future. Our party is working diligently to protect the health and well-being of all of our members and all North Carolinians, and our state and local leaders are providing the sound, steady leadership this situation demands. Together, we will pull through this, ready and prepared for strong victories this November.

Respectfully,

Wayne Goodwin, Chairman, North Carolina Democratic Party

Joe Sam Queen – Raleigh Report, February 28

Joe Sam Queen, North Carolina General Assembly

Rep. Joe Sam Queen | 16 W. Jones St. Room #1002, Raleigh, NC 27601-1096

Democracy Day at Western Carolina University

I enjoyed being included in Western Carolina University’s Democracy Day, where I got to meet one on one with many of the college’s student leaders and activists. I joined advocates like College Democrats, Down Home and Democracy Now to encourage students to be politically informed and active. Hundreds of students had a great opportunity to talk with candidates or their campaigns; congressional, legislative, judicial, council of state and presidential candidates were all present. All were encouraged to register and vote. To close out the event everyone “strolled to the polls” in the Student Union to do just that.

Pancake Day

Pancake Day is always great. I joined Pastor Keith Turman on the serving line where First United Methodist Church of Waynesville offered Christian hospitality to the entire community, serving free pancakes and fixings to well over 3,000 friends and neighbors. What a Great Day.

Welcoming Dr. Shelley to Haywood Community College

I was pleased to join the entire community in a welcoming reception for Dr. Shelley White, our new Haywood Community College President. Here I join Dr. White along with Waynesville’s Fire Chief, Joey Webb, David Onder, HCC’s Director of Institutional Excellence, Research and Grants and Lee White, the husband of our new President for a commemorative photo. I assured Dr. White that I was a solid supporter of Community Colleges, especially during the current struggle to appropriately fund faculty and staff.

Visiting Chancellor Cable at University of North Carolina, Asheville

Chancellor Nancy Cable had a delightful open house at the Chancellor’s Residence on UNC Asheville’s campus. I was honored to be included. I assured the Chancellor of my appreciation of and support for North Carolina’s University System and was very impressed with her vision for UNCA.

Haywood Chamber of Commerce

Haywood, Jackson, and Swain Counties all have wonderful Chambers of Commerce. This month I met twice with Haywood’s, first for their Annual Elected Officials’ Reception, where I had a great visit with Ronnie Clark, a Haywood County School Board member and his wife. I assured him I was working hard with our Governor to improve teacher pay and to offer a true School Bond to assist local school boards in meeting their infrastructure needs.

I also participated in the the Haywood Chamber of Commerce’s Inter-Governmental Round Table, where we focus on improving the business environment, expanding capacity and access to healthcare and raising NC teacher pay to the national average. Increasing the pay for our Universities and Community Colleges was also a priority because they play the key role in workforce development. Rounding out our priorities was the incredible need for better Broadband all across Western North Carolina. I assured the group these were my prioritizes as well and I would be working for all of them.

Waynesville Supports Medicaid Expansion

I was given the opportunity to speak at the Town of Waynesville’s Medicaid Expansion Hearing this month. I took the opportunity to emphasize how important it is to stop the waste of $4 billion annually of our tax dollars that should be providing affordable healthcare and creating jobs in our community. Expanding Medicaid will not only help more people get access to affordable health care, it will promote economic development and job creation. Expansion would also lower all health care insurance rates for every North Carolinian by 7% to 11% by covering the uncompensated care that is currently being absorbed in their rates. That’s Real Money in Everybody’s Pocket!  For more information check out the Mountaineer.

Here are the numbers of jobs created, people covered and the local economic impact for our district if we Expand Medicaid

That’s 394 more jobs, 7,824 more hard working neighbors with healthcare coverage, $60.6 million in local economic growth and over $10 million more in new county tax revenue, taking the pressure off of property taxes. All of this for no, ZERO, new tax dollars on our part.

And we would save dozens of lives here in Haywood, Jackson and Swain, lives now being lost because this Legislature is denying the healthcare we have already paid for.

It’s time, it’s past time to Expand Medicaid.

Why Your Vote Is Safe in North Carolina

The North Carolina Board of Elections has issued the following assurances about election security:

 

No Evidence of Successful Attack

North Carolina elections officials have no evidence than any election system or voting system in the state has ever been the target of a successful cyber attack.

Partnerships

Elections officials are in regular contact and have strong and growing relationships with partners in federal and state governments. who assist with cyber and physical security, share informaiton, plan for election eents and respond to incidents.

Paper Ballots

Under state law, all voting systems used in North Carolina must use paper ballots, producing a paper trail than can be audited.  In 2020, all 100 counties will use paper ballots.  By federal law, ballot marking devices must be available at every polling place for any voter who needs or wished to use one to make a ballot.

Certified Voting Systems

All voting machines used in North Carolina are certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission after testing by certified laboratories.  They are also certified by the State Board of Elections after additional testing, and all systems certified in North Carolina are certified, used and audited in other states.

No Internet

By state law, voting machines may not be connected to the internet, limiting the possibility of cyber interference.

Logic & Accuracy Testing

Before every election, county boards of elections conduct logic and accuracy tests on every machine that will be used to ensure proper coding of ballots and counting of votes for every contest on the ballot.

Bipartisan, Trained Officials

Every polling place is staffed with bipartisan, trained officials from the local community who take an oath to uphold state elections laws and work together to ensure election security.  Bipartisan State and County Boards of Elections oversee all aspects of elections.

Audits

After every election and before results are certified, the State and County Boards of Elections conduct audits designed to detect irregularities, such as equipment tampering, ballot stuffing and voting machine or tabulation errors.

Investigations Division

North Carolina is one of few state with a dedicated investigations Division, which investigates re[port of fraud and other irregularities and refers cases to prosecutors when warranted by evidence.

Informed Voters

Every voter can help promote election security by voting, checking their ballot before casting it, reporting problems with the voting process to poll workers and volunteering to work in elections.  Also, voters should get information on elections from trusted sources, particularly elections officials, and verify information about elections before sharing it on social media.

NC Congressional District 11, Newsletter #5

New Chairs Announced to District 11

A warm welcome to our new 2nd Vice Chair in charge of training, Kathie Kline.  A lifelong Democrat, Kathie has been active in politics since 1983.  Her experiences range from working on campaigns, precinct chair, campaign manager, cluster leader and trainer.  She also works on BCDP’s Data Team and the BCDP GOTV Operations Team.  Kathie can be reached at Kathiebkine@gmail.com.

Karen Albig smith has joined District 11 as Third Vice-Chair.   She is a lifelong Democrat and currently serving as Union Precinct Chair in Macon County.  North Carolina contributions to the Democratic Party include serving on the Resolutions Committee for the District last year, staffing at Macon County headquarters coordinating canvassing for the 2018 midterms.  Her most recent source of activist pride is having attended the Women’s March in January 2017.    “I am happy to serve the 11th Congressional District as your Communications Coordinator.  Let me know how I can help.”   🙂   mailto:karen@programservices.org

2020 Primary Election:  NO VOTER ID IS NEEDED

  • Early Voting is February 13-29.  Early voting site can be found at: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/ossite/
  • Same Day Registration is available to those who are not yet registered during early voting with proof of residency – Not on Election Day!
  • Primary Election Day is March 3 from 6:30AM to 7:30PM.  Voters must vote in their home precinct that day.  Polling places an be found at: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/PPLkup/

 

2020 District Convention:  Saturday April 25, 2020     

  • Pisgah High School, 1 Black Bear Drive, Canton, NC
  • Start time :  Noon-4:00PM  Watch for updates at: https://www.nc11democrats.org/new-events
  • Registration at 10:30 AM   Food at 11:00 AM
  • FOOD!!!  There will be a BBQ lunch available prior to the Convention (YAY!) – more details will be posted at the event page.

The Proposed Agenda

  • Election of District Delegates and Alternates to the DC Milwaukee (Applications are available at https://www.ncdp.org/dnc-2020/ accepted through March 26)
  • Election of Member (Biennial State Convention Committee on Credentials and Appeals)
  • Election of Member (Council of Review)
  • Election of Member (Resolutions and Platform Committee)
  • Nominate one Presidential Elector from the Congressional

2020 Liston B. Ramsey Dinner

(“Please pardon our TBAs – We are Still under Construction”

  • April 25, 2020, 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Waynesville Inn Golf Resort
  • 176 Country Club Drive, Waynesville, NC 28766, USA (MAP)
  • Cocktail/Social Hour at 4:00 PM: Dinner and Program at 5:00 PM
  • Dinner Ticket: $_TBA_; Young Dems $_TBA_

Program

Introduction of Candidates
Key Note Address: To be announced
Presentation of the 2020 Liston B. Ramsey Awards by County
Mountain Democrat of the Year

Please join our fellow NC 11th Congressional Democrats for dinner and community fellowship. The event will follow our 2020 Congressional District Convention.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!
NC CD11 Democratic Officers

Mark Your Calendars

Meet the NC11 Congressional Candidates –  Monday February 10th, 6:00 PM:  Agricultural Center, 589 Raccoon Road, Waynesville (map).  Hosted by the Haywood County Democratic Party, the candidates will participate in a debate moderated by Julia Buckner.

All 5 Democratic candidates are scheduled to participate. This is your opportunity to meet Gina Collias, Moe Davis, Michael O’Shea, Phillip Price and Steve Woodsmall.

2020 Precinct Organizational PeriodFebruary 15, 2020;  Make up day – March 14, 2020

2020 County Democratic Party Conventions Saturday, March 28, 2020

2020 District 11 Democratic Convention – Saturday, April 25, 2020 12:00 PM 

  • Registration 10:30 AM
  • BBQ Lunch 11:00 AM
  • Pisgah High School (map)

2020 North Carolina Democratic Convention – Saturday, June 6, 2020

Check the Events Page for Updates and Tickets: https://www.nc11democrats.org/new-events.  You can also find information and updates of events around the district at nc11democrats.org or by following us on Facebook.

How Democrats Can Win Obama-Trump Defectors

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory, analysts fiercely debated the role of the approximately six million voters who supported President Barack Obama in 2012 but shifted their support to Mr. Trump in 2016. Democratic strategists also had to worry about their future behavior: Was 2016 a temporary blip or were these voters gone forever? With newly available data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study survey, the largest publicly-available election survey, we can now analyze what happened with these Obama-Trump voters in 2018 and what that might portend for Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.

To understand the potential ramifications of Obama-Trump voters in 2020, it’s worth understanding how they voted in 2018. Among those who voted, three-quarters stuck with the Republican Party. But Democrats did win back about one-fifth of the Obama-Trump group in 2018, which would amount to a net swing of about 1.5 million votes. While the idiosyncratic governing style of Mr. Trump may have been one key factor in bringing Obama-Trump voters back into the Democratic fold, it wasn’t the only reason. It’s true that most Obama-Trump voters who stuck with the Republican Party in 2018 strongly approved of the job Mr. Trump was doing as president, but interestingly even half of those who flipped back to the Democratic side at least somewhat approved of Mr. Trump. Democrats won back a significant share of Obama-Trump voters not because those voters disliked Mr. Trump, but in spite of the fact that many actually approved of him.

Instead, these voters appeared to be drawn back toward the Democrats by some of the party’s bread-and butter-issues, and in spite of others. On issues like gun control, health care and the environment, these voters look remarkably like the Democratic Party’s base — those who voted for Obama in 2012, Hillary Clinton in 2016 and a Democratic House candidate in 2018. Eighty-four percent of Obama-Trump voters who voted for Democratic House candidates in 2018 want to ban assault rifles, compared to 92 percent of the Democratic base. By contrast, 57 percent of Obama-Trump voters who stayed with Republicans in 2018 support an assault weapons ban (which has far less support among the Republican base).

Medicare for all is surprisingly popular among all Obama-Trump voters, but especially those who voted for Democrats in 2018. Eighty-three percent of those who switched back to the Democratic Party in 2018 support Medicare for all, nearly as high as the 93 percent support the policy achieves among the most solidly blue Democratic voting bloc.

These patterns show that Democrats can win back Obama-Trump voters by focusing on issues that also appeal to their base. Another such issue is climate change. Seventy-three percent of Obama-Trump voters who came back to the Democratic Party in 2018 oppose the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement; among those who stayed with the Republican Party in 2018, 74 percent support that decision.

Notably, the Obama-Trump voters who returned to the Democratic Party in 2018 look less like the Democratic Party base in other ways. A majority support building a border wall and Mr. Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim countries. At the same time, two-thirds of these voters support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to receive deferred action on deportation.

They also have less progressive attitudes when it comes to race and gender. For example, less than half of these voters agree that whites have advantages because of the color of their skin, and an even smaller share think that feminists are making reasonable demands of men. These are your classic cross-pressured voters, aligned with Democrats on many policies that are part of the progressive wish list but likely to be turned off by the party’s rhetoric on identity politics.

Coaxing Rogue Obama Voters to Go Democratic Again

Obama-Trump voters who supported Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections could be a key bloc in the presidential election. Here is how they responded to 7 survey questions.

By The New York Times | Source: analysis of the 2018 Cooperative Congressional Election Study by Brian Schaffner and Sean McElwee

Of course, another important group that will play a role in the 2020 election are the 2012 Obama voters who did not vote in 2016, the missing Obama millions. In 2018, Democrats regained some support among this group as well. About one-third turned out for the 2018 election, and Democrats won them 4 to 1. These voters looks much more like the Obama base than the Obama-Trump voters who supported Democrats in 2018. These remobilized Obama-nonvoters not only share similar views with the Democratic Party’s base on health care, gun control and the environment, but they also have similar views on immigration and share progressive views on race and gender relations.

Half of the remobilized Obama-nonvoters are people of color and more than 70 percent are women. Unlike the Obama-Trump voters who supported Democrats in 2018, the Obama-nonvoters appear to have been remobilized by their dislike of Trump — more than 80 percent reported that they strongly disapproved of the job he was doing as president. Strong disapproval of Mr. Trump was a strong predictor of Obama-nonvoters coming back into the electorate to vote for Democrats in 2018.

The story of Democratic success in winning back the House in 2018 seems to be driven by two patterns — the ability to win back some cross-pressured members of the Obama coalition who voted for Trump in 2016, while also remobilizing former Obama voters who failed to show up at the polls two years earlier. Progressive economic and climate views unite these two coalitions, while the groups are more divided when it comes to racial justice and gender equity. Both Obama-nonvoter-Democrats (92 percent) and Obama-Trump-Democrats (88 percent) support a $12 minimum wage and a millionaire’s tax (92 percent and 79 percent).

Following the 2016 presidential election, the Wesleyan Media Project reported that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign aired fewer issue-based ads than any other presidential candidate since they started collecting the data in 2000. Perhaps Democrats learned a lesson from 2016: In 2018 the Wesleyan researchers found that Democratic campaign ads were “laser focused” on issues, especially health care, which was the focus of more than half of the advertisements run by Democratic candidates. Our data suggests that this approach helped bring many Obama-Trump voters back into the Democratic column while also remobilizing many Obama voters to turn out and vote Democratic again in the midterm election.

Though there is a temptation to focus on Mr. Trump’s personality, if Democrats continue to learn from these elections, they will focus this year’s campaign on their plans to address issues like health care, wages and the environment, lest the Obama-Trump voters become Obama-Trump-Trump voters in 2020.

Sean McElwee (@SeanMcElwee) is the executive director of Data for Progress. Brian F. Schaffner (@b_schaffner) is a political scientist at Tufts.

Joe Sam Queen Raleigh Report – November 24, 2019

We’re entering the Holiday Season with a recess, even though the work in the capitol isn’t done: We don’t have a True Comprehensive, Balanced Budget. We have a Constitutional System of checks and balances. When the legislature presents a budget that is inadequate or unwise it is the Governor’s, the executive branch’s, responsibility to veto it and propose a better way. Then the legislature is to consider the veto and either override it, or work toward a commonly accepted solution. This has not yet been done, even though the Governor has offered every opportunity since July to do so. North Carolina is in a historic situation of legislative delay due to the Republican Legislative Leadership’s unwillingness to negotiate.

The Governor has cooperated on a series of mini budgets, but there are still three very important issues that remain to be solved for North Carolina to get to a Truly Fair, Comprehensive, and Balanced Budget which works for all North Carolinians.

First, will we continue to deny a half million of our hardest working lowest paid citizens healthcare, which we have already paid for? Records show that over a thousand North Carolinians will actually die due to the lack of healthcare coverage. Governor Cooper believes that North Carolina is better than that. See my video.

Secondly, will we give our teachers appropriate pay raises, or will we give our wealthiest corporations another billion dollar tax cut? What will North Carolina’s priorities be, making the rich richer, or moving forward with real educational opportunities for all North Carolinians? Read more in my Town Hall Recaps.

Lastly, will we offer our citizens the opportunity to pass an Education and Infrastructure Bond, that is fair, timely, transparent and certain, or will we choose a fat political slush fund at the legislative leadership’s disposal, where investments won’t be fair, transparent, timely, or certain (the SCIF SCAM)? The Governor knows the bond is a better way.

The Governor has vetoed the Republican Conference Budget because there are much better, in fact Billions Better, options for investing in the educational, healthcare and infrastructure needs of our state.

Meadows Watch, by Penny Smith 11/26/2019

Did you know that Mark Meadows voted against the following things so far in 2019?

  • requiring health care and social service workers to have a plan for preventing workplace violence (Meadows voted NO)
  • preserving 400,000 acres of Colorado land for public use (Meadows voted NO)
  • banning uranium mines from proximity to the Grand Canyon (Meadows voted NO)
  • requiring campaigns to report offers of assistance from foreign countries (Meadows voted NO)
  • overturning Trump’s emergency declaration so he can move military funds to build part of his wall (Meadows voted NO)
  • banning companies from requiring private arbitration to resolve disputes (Meadows voted NO)
  • banning drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts (Meadows voted NO)
  • establishing decent standards for people in our custody at the border (Meadows voted NO)
  • raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour (Meadows voted NO)
  • blocking the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia (Meadows voted NO)
  • condemning Trump’s racist remarks about four congresswomen (Meadows voted NO)
  • providing humanitarian aid for our southern border (Meadows voted NO)
  • creating a path for citizenship for DACA recipients (Meadows voted NO)
  • lowering prescription drug costs and reversing negative changes to the Affordable Care Act (Meadows voted NO)
  • providing additional disaster relief to Puerto Rico (Meadows voted NO)
  • blocking Trump from withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate change (Meadows voted NO)
  • restoring net neutrality regulations (Meadows voted NO)
  • updating ethics rules, expanding voting rights and requiring disclosure of tax records for presidential candidates (Meadows voted NO)
  • providing law enforcement with more time to conduct background checks for gun sales (Meadows voted NO)

In other words, he supports workplace violence; loss of public lands; uranium mining near the Grand Canyon; limited reporting on campaign aid offers from non-Americans; moving military funds to the southern border for a wall that experts say will not be a deterrent; requiring arbitration for workplace disputes, even though arbitration almost always favors corporations over workers and customers; drilling off our coast; keeping the minimum wage lower than what’s necessary to make a living; racist remarks in certain situations; no humanitarian aid at our border, one assumes even for children separated from parents; a path to deportation of DACA recipients; limiting disaster relief following natural tragedies; messing up the Affordable Care Act, thereby depriving millions of access to decent health insurance; ignoring climate change; altering internet access to favor the rich; limiting access to voting; and eliminating gun regulation of even the most minimal kind. Do you?

Information from voting records as summarized at FiveThirtyEight on line. There are several sites that let you track bills and votes on line. The FiveThirtyEight site is one of the most accessible.

Impeachment 103, by Penny Smith 11/26/2019

This is the third in a series of observations about the current impeachment hearings against Donald Trump. You can find the others at this site (see Impeachment 101 and Impeachment 102).

What do the Democrats say the President did wrong?

At the moment there are no formal charges against the President. The House of Representatives is looking into whether conduct related to Ukraine and arms sales could constitute an impeachment recommendation.

Specifically, the House is investigating whether the President of the United States directed subordinates to pressure the new leader of Ukraine to issue a statement saying he and his country’s judicial establishment are investigating (1) Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma (Hunter Biden was on their Board of Directors) and (2) Joe Biden’s involvement in promoting corruption within Ukraine while he was Vice President. 

More specifically, the President contends that the Clinton campaign hacked its own computers using servers in Ukraine, thereby “proving” that the Russians had nothing to do with the election of 2016. In other words, it was the Democrats who were behind seeking aid from foreign powers and not Trump or any of his friends.

The pressure that was applied, according to the Democrats, was the withholding of already approved financial aid (money to purchase weapons) and a visit to the White House until the Ukrainians released a satisfactory declaration about Burisma, Bidens, and corruption.

Almost as soon as an investigation was initiated as a result of the whistleblower’s report becoming public that aid flowed – but barely four days before it would have run up against a time deadline.

What’s the Republican response to the process and potential charges?

Republicans have been dealt a pretty bad fact hand. So, they have resorted primarily to slandering witnesses and complaining about the process.

Among their objections:

  • most of these witnesses are “Anti-Trumpers.” That’s incorrect. Most of these witnesses are Trump or his administration’s appointees. Or they are career public service employees who have a responsibility to maintain political neutrality. The GOP has not produced one ounce of evidence that they are politically biased.
  • all of the evidence is hearsay. That’s incorrect. Some of the evidence is hearsay and some of it relies on first-person “I was there” accounts. What the GOP is not telling you is that hearsay evidence is sometimes all you can obtain, but is sufficient for informed inferences. Another thing the GOP is not telling you is that there is plenty of first source evidence, but the President and his cronies have blocked access to it or to the people who witnessed something directly. What the law often does is construe that concealed evidence is usually “Yes, I did it” evidence. In other words, if going directly to Pompeo or Bolton or Perry or any number of other people with firsthand knowledge of events would demonstrate definitively that nothing happened, then why aren’t they talking under oath?
  • there’s no quid pro quo. That’s incorrect. There’s plenty of evidence to indicate that Trump wanted something of value for his personal use (a declaration of an investigation of Joe Biden and his son) and that he would have gotten it if the entire scheme were not uncovered.
  • well, the Ukrainians got their aid eventually, so no harm, no foul, no real reason for impeachment. That’s incorrect. True, they did get their aid eventually, but their position vis-à-vis Russia has been compromised and our role as an honest broker has also been compromised. Moreover, you don’t have to succeed at a crime for it to be a crime – what, after all, is attempted robbery or attempted murder or, in this case, attempted bribery?
  • well, it’s not really all that big a deal when you get down to it. It doesn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense. That’s incorrect and a gross example of hypocrisy, since the GOP impeached Clinton for lying about what was an insignificant, in terms of national interest, embarrassing affair. This is a matter of national security – we jeopardized an ally and fledgling democracy so our President could get some personal campaign information. We also diminished our standing internationally, assisted Putin, and harmed Ukraine in a number of ways. Much of the evidence points to attempts by the President and his friends to blame someone other than Russia for interfering in our 2016 elections – one of the many errands of Rudy Giuliani.
  • the witnesses are all rogue actors or bad people. That’s incorrect. Indeed, if we were doing a character scan of the witnesses and the President and his defenders, it would not even be close.
  • there is no due process in the proceedings; it’s a coup, an attempt to overturn an election. That’s partially true, since impeachment by its very nature overturns the result of an election. However, it was the checks and balances safety mechanism that our founders put into place for situations like this one. We should be applauding its existence rather than condemning it.
  • well, none of this is as bad as the corruption of Vice President Biden and his son in Ukraine. That’s incorrect. First of all, whatever the Bidens might have done, it’s irrelevant to the matter at hand. In other words, it doesn’t excuse bribery by our President. However, everyone who has objectively looked into such accusations affirms that Biden, in his official capacity, did nothing untoward; rather he worked to advance the goals of our national agenda. 

Burisma, the company on whose Board of Directors Hunter Biden sat, probably was involved in some corrupt practices, but they were not due to Biden’s position or influence. Yet there is ample evidence that both Energy Secretary Perry and Rudy Giuliani were engaged in influencing, perhaps unethically, business within and among energy companies in Ukraine.

  • Trump was justifiably interested in the potential of a nation with a history of corruption misusing the dollars of hard-working American tax payers and he wanted to make sure that wouldn’t happen. That’s incorrect. If it were true, Trump would also be trying to remove Saudi Arabia corruption and wrong-doing before selling them arms and he hasn’t. Additionally, Ukraine had already been cleared through the normal channels of investigation for the release of the money. In other words, they had already demonstrated that they were working to reduce corruption and it was unlikely to be part of the arms deal.
  • Ukraine actively worked against the Trump election and some Ukrainians said bad things about him. That’s partially true. Some Ukrainians did say bad things about him, probably because he declared that it was fine with him if Russia kept Crimea and that Crimea really belonged to Russia anyway. That’s a little like saying that, should Mexico invade and take part of Texas, it would be understandable, since it was once part of Mexico anyway. And those individuals were speaking as individuals, not on behalf of the Ukrainian government. In addition, many individuals in many countries said unpleasant things about Trump during the election and he hasn’t set off on a vendetta against them.
  • other nations aren’t helping Ukraine or paying their fair share and President Trump is only trying to ensure that Americans aren’t played for suckers. That’s false. Other allies are supporting the Ukrainian government in its fight with Russia.
  • the Ukrainian President hasn’t complained about the bribe and says he felt no pressure from President Trump to investigate the Bidens. That’s probably false. It is true that he has said he didn’t feel pressured, but what else could he say and have a chance at getting the support he needs for his country? After all, Trump may be President for up to five more years. And, it doesn’t really matter what he says; Trump still tried to make the deal and attempted extortion is still a crime.

What do we know so far?

This is a partial summary of what we know now:

  • Trump obstructed justice in plain sight by refusing to cooperate with the Ukrainian inquiry and refusing to respond to Congressional subpoenas.
  • Trump obstructed justice multiple times during the Mueller investigation and those incidents are plainly outlined in the Mueller Report.
  • Trump threatened witnesses, again in plain sight, by demonstrating the tweet storms and trolls he will inflict on them if they appear, even under subpoena, at the hearings (witness tampering is a serious crime). Note, for example, his attacks on the former ambassador of Ukraine.
  • Trump tried to trade a visit to the White House and release of already appropriated money for a personal favor – a televised announcement of an investigation into the Bidens. At the time Joe Biden appeared to be the odds-on favorite as Democratic candidate for President and Trump wanted to begin to sully his reputation. In other words he was willing to sacrifice what was in our national interest: standing up to Russian aggression and supporting an ally. 
  • Trump engaged with his co-conspirators to cover up many of his dubious actions; that is obstruction of justice.
  • Trump has said publicly that he would accept aid from a foreign government in his re-election campaign, asked Russia to help in 2016 and invited China to help later. It is against the law to request aid from foreign countries in American elections. (Trump has said he “was only kidding.”)
  • Trump has enriched himself while in the office of President; in other words, he has run afoul of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Trump has spent nearly one-third of his time as President visiting his own properties and, with each visit, our tax dollars go to the family business. As of October 22, 2019, he had been in office 1,037 days, spent 313 of those in residence at a Trump property and 237 more days playing golf at one of his properties. 

An example of the cost of such trips is that the four he made to Mar-a-Lago from February 3 – March 5, 2017 cost approximately $13.6 million. One can also make a good case that Trump’s insistence on Vice President Pence’s stay at one of his European properties while on an official visit, the publicity that flows from any official use of his properties, the multiple rentals at his Washington DC and New York City properties by foreign governments, and the proximity of his business stakeholders (his children) to the Oval Office all constitute clear conflicts of interest.

  • Trump probably broke multiple campaign laws, including payment to a porn star with whom he had a brief fling, in the run-up to the 2016 election. He is likely Individual 1; Michael Cohen went to jail for carrying out Individual 1’s directions.
  • Trump’s actions outlined above are all substantially proven and many of them individually constitute grounds for impeachment. Taken as a whole, they make impeachment imperative – Trump has shown time and again he is willing to trade what’s in our national interest for what’s in the Trump family’s interest. There are other things that flow from Trump behaviors, such as his chronic lying, hyperbole and slander that I personally think should be considered impeachable. For example:
  1. he lowered our standing in the world; no country knows whether they can believe what we say anymore;
  2. he diminished trust in our government and federal institutions, thereby jeopardizing our democracy;
  3. he demeaned his office by engaging in conduct that is unbecoming of a commander in chief and that would have gotten him drummed out of the military had he engaged in such actions as an ordinary member of the armed services;
  4. he promoted racist, xenophobic and misogynist violence through his tweets, his public statements and his rallies;
  5. he collapsed the morale in our national intelligence and foreign services, making us much more vulnerable to foreign cyber attacks (many high level people have left the service rather than work under political hacks);
  6. he has expanded and deepened “the swamp,” not drained it; 
  7. he banished science from policy consideration, thereby allowing regulation interpretations at odds with reality;
  8. he ran afoul of international norms for armed conflict in such actions as pardoning convicted war criminals;
  9. he weakened many of the international agreements forged in the wake of the second world war, again making us more vulnerable to foreign attack and other countries more likely to resort to armed confrontation rather than diplomacy;
  10. he demonstrated that we are an untrustworthy ally (note Kurd withdrawal);
  11. he spread false conspiracy theories, furthering the ideological and political divides in our country;
  12. he engaged in nepotism and allowed access to secret documents to individuals whose behaviors raised questions about whether they qualified for such security clearances;
  13. he promoted unconscionable acts, often contrary to international norms, such as the treatment of asylum seekers and children at our southern borders;
  14. he threatened the freedom of our press and parroted language about the media that could have come out of George Orwell’s 1984; and
  15. on the grandest stage in the world, he behaved and continues to behave like an immature bully, setting the kind of example few of us would want to exhibit for our children.  (I could go on, but I’ll spare you.)

How do we know that?

We know it from the Mueller Report, investigation, and subsequent trials; the Cohen trial and several other investigations conducted by the federal attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York; the President’s tweets, press conferences, interviews and rallies; the Intelligence Committee’s recent public hearings and the evidence from witnesses and released depositions; the Judiciary Committee’s various hearings; multiple investigative reports in various national newspapers and magazines; and various investigations carried out by reporters working for online organizations.

So what happens next?

Currently, the Intelligence Committee is writing a report of its findings with regard to Ukraine and, after a committee vote, will send it to the Judiciary Committee. It will be the duty of the Judiciary Committee to draft any impeachment charges. If it decides that behaviors merit impeachment, it will draft such charges and vote to send them to the floor of the House of Representatives. A majority vote in the House will then “impeach” the President – that is formally charge him with wrongdoing. Subsequent action would then move to the Senate.

Stay tuned for Impeachment 104.

Joe Sam Queen, NC House, Raleigh Report: (New Redistricting Map) 11/11/2019

Honoring Our Veterans

It was my privilege to attend the Tuscola ROTC Air Force Unit’s 15th Annual Veterans Day Luncheon on Saturday. It was one of many events across our great nation where we recognized the noble and the brave for their service and sacrifice to our country. I’m honored to be joined in this photo by father, B.J. Morrow, WWII, and son, Ron Morrow, Vietnam, who represent multiple generations of proud veterans like many here in our mountain communities. Thank you to all who have served, are currently serving, and to the families who lift up these courageous men and women in uniform every step of the way!

In North Carolina, we continue to strive to improve the life of our veterans and their families. We’re proud to be the most military friendly state in the Nation.

Redistricting Committee

As a member of the Redistricting Committee I’ve been working hard to rebuild the voter’s trust in fair elections across North Carolina. This has been a real struggle with the current Republican Legislative Leadership, but with the help of our Courts, we’re making progress. We still have lots of work to do, but I’m firmly committed to protecting your right to vote and the value of that vote.  

The General Assembly has approved this new map along partisan lines. We’ll see if the court accepts it or requires further fixes to the obvious gerrymandering the Republican Legislators still refuse to remedy.

The Legislature Stalls

The Republican majority continues to call the shots in the capitol. They are ignoring the NC Constitutional mandate to consider the Governor’s Veto and negotiate a True Comprehensive, Balanced Budget. Instead, the Republicans in the General Assembly are just stalling, playing political games. Again, along party lines, the Republican Leadership has just adjourned for two months without doing their job.

Governor Cooper continues to offer an Alternative Compromise Budget that is sensible and balanced:

  • Invests in teacher pay with a solid 8.5 % raise versus the Republican 3.8% offer. Instead of a billion dollars more in corporate tax cuts.
  • Proposes a True School $3.5 Billion Dollar Infrastructure Bond, instead of a political slush fund. (The SCIF SCAM)
  • Expands Medicaid, closing the coverage gap for half a million North Carolinians, instead of wasting $4 billion each and every year.
  • The difference means billions for North Carolina.

Joe Sam Queen, NC House, Raleigh Report: 11/4/19

The House & Senate are Stalling

The legislature will be temporarily adjourned until Wed. November 13th without the Senate taking up the Budget Veto override or the Legislature sitting down with Governor Cooper and negotiating a Comprehensive, Fair and Balanced Budget that works for all North Carolinians. Instead, we have muddled along for months on a bipartisan basis, doing our best to keep our state government afloat with “mini-budgets.”

First the Governor joined Democrat and Republican Legislators to pass Budget Bill HB111, which funds our state government functions at the same level they were funded in the previous year, excluding things that were paid for with one-time funds.

Next, we have passed some critical public safety funding and disaster relief that we all agreed upon.

We also accepted the State Employee raises of 5% for 27% of State Employees that the Republican Conference Budget was in agreement with Governor Cooper’s Budget on. However, we’re clearly not finished yet.

Additionally, some other important bipartisan mini-budgets successes were:

We tripled the GREAT Grant funding to help expand rural broadband from $10 million to $30 million.

We expanded the personal tax exemption, which is a solid working family tax cut.

We finally funded the clearing out of the backlog of untested sexual assault evidence and rape kits with HB29.

We also strengthened our laws on sexual assault and child abuse with SB199. Along with this, the bill added sexual assault training and human trafficking training to our NC School Curriculum.

What we have not done, and I stand with the Governor and his veto until we do are:

  • Invest in adequate teacher and public educator pay raises instead of more corporate tax cuts.
  • Pass a true voter approved School and Infrastructure Bond instead of a pork-barrel slush fund.
  • Expand Medicaid, closing the healthcare coverage gap for a half million North Carolinians instead of wasting $4 billion of our tax dollars each year.
  • Provide the remaining 73% of State Employees with a 5% raise and our retirees with a 2% COLA.

Governor Cooper is willing and ready to negotiate a Comprehensive Budget that is balanced, fair and serves everyone in our state. We can do better. For more details click Billions Better.

Notes:

Congressional Redistricting

Soon we will have new and hopefully fairer Congressional District Maps to run on in 2020. The select committee on Congressional Redistricting is now meeting and the Courts are considering the directives for the redraw to be fair and nonpartisan. This is great news for the citizens of North Carolina. Click here for more.

The Push for Medicaid Expansion Continues

Despite the stalling and delays of the Legislative Leadership, a bipartisan majority of the NC House wants to expand Medicaid now! We are stymied by Speaker Moore’s waffling on his promise to allow the House to vote on this critical piece of legislation (HB655). Stay Tuned.

Help Students Vote

The Davidsonian  (Independent Student Journalism Since 1914):  By Joe DeMartin ’21 and Cutler Renard ‘20

http://www.davidsonian.com/there-is-a-voter-id-crisis-facing-students-in-north-carolina/?fbclid=

How hard can it be? Everyone has an ID, right?

But imagine you’ve never been able to afford a car, so you take the bus to work. Or imagine you’re a senior citizen who hasn’t driven for years; your license is expired, and your children live far away, so you walk to your local store for all your needs.

Under the voter ID laws implemented in many states, millions of Americans have been effectively disenfranchised because they lack a government-issued ID.

An active driver’s license or passport is a privilege, and over twenty million Americans lack any of the ID forms required to exercise their constitutional right to vote under these laws.

After the recent passage of a voter ID law in North Carolina, Davidson students were nearly disenfranchised in this way too, and thousands of students across the state still could be.

Now imagine you’re a student at a small liberal arts college in a swing state.

You’ve switched your voter registration to your new campus address after some student political group leader waved a registration form at you during a club fair. You read up on the issues and candidates, and walk to your polling place at your local town hall on Election Day excited to cast your vote.

But when you get there, the poll workers tell you that you’ll need an accepted form of ID to be allowed to vote.

You pull out your driver’s license from your home state, but only in-state licenses are accepted. Your passport would work, but it’s back home in a drawer next to your middle school soccer plaque.

You remember seeing someone in the news claiming that student IDs would be accepted, but when you try to use your student card, the poll worker says your school’s ID wasn’t approved by the state. Congratulations on participating in democracy!

Make no mistake, students are at the top of the target list for voter suppression.

Much has been made of young people staying home on Election Day, but when legislatures pass confusing laws that create barriers for student voting, it’s not the young people failing democracy.

While voter suppression might feel like something that happens in other places, ID requirements are being used to undermine your right to vote right here in Davidson.

After the passage of a state constitutional amendment requiring voter ID, the Republican majority in the North Carolina state legislature rushed to enact a bill last December to limit which forms of ID could be accepted.

Though this law ostensibly included a process for the NC State Board of Elections to approve student IDs for voting, the bill’s requirements were so onerous that a majority of North Carolina colleges and universities were either rejected or never applied, including schools like UNC Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, and UNC Charlotte.

In addition, the bill set an application deadline of March 15th, 2019, giving schools only three months to prepare their submissions.

Davidson’s General Counsel Sarah Phillips worked hard to submit an application before the deadline. However, given the law’s restrictions, Davidson’s only option was to prepare a new ID separate from the CatCard that could just be used as a voter ID.

Though this second ID would have been better than having no approved ID at all, obtaining it would have meant an additional hurdle for student voting.

By June, public outcry pressured the state legislature to alter the requirements for student IDs and to extend the deadline to October 26th.

As the Chair of the Center for Political Engagement and the President of Davidson College Democrats, our work as student political leaders directly comes with a responsibility to advocate for student voting rights. When we learned that the law had been revised, we began to wonder if the changes would offer Davidson an opportunity to change our state-approved voting ID to the CatCard and offer the easiest ID option for students.

After spending hours over the last several months researching the changes to the law, long conversations seeking advice from election lawyers and voting rights experts, and many calls with NC State Board of Elections officials, we began to be confident that the revisions to the law would allow the CatCard to be approved as our voting ID.

We communicated our thoughts to Davidson’s President, Carol Quillen and Phillips. They were able to cooperate directly with State Board of Elections staff to prepare Davidson’s application proposal.

With the deadline only days away, just four other North Carolina schools have applied. Thousands of students across the state could lack any form of accepted ID for the 2020 election.

Quillen and Phillips plan to submit our application for the CatCard to the State Board of Elections this week.

With luck, the ID card held by every Davidson student will soon be accepted as a North Carolina voting ID.

The existence of any ID requirement at all represents an unacceptable barrier for every North Carolinian’s voting rights. But for as long as the NC state legislature passes these laws, we believe that Davidson must continue to minimize that barrier for our students in every way possible.

We’re lucky to have college administrators who are committed to doing whatever they can to defend students’ right to vote. By acting decisively this week to make voting easier for our students, Davidson will set an example for the rest of the state.

When politicians threaten fundamental rights, all of us at Davidson have a responsibility to stand up against them.

Whether by registering, volunteering, marching, canvassing, or advocating, defending democracy in a time of crisis demands that we act rather than observe from afar.

Democracy isn’t something we can take for granted. Our votes count, and our voices matter; there wouldn’t be so much of an effort made to suppress us if it were otherwise.

Joe DeMartin ’21 is an English and political science double major from  Baltimore, Maryland. Cutler Renard ’20 is a classics major from Jacksonville, Florida. Contact him at curenard@davidson.edu.

Impeachment 102, by Penny Smith: 10/24/2019

Number 2 in a series (watch this space for more)

 

  1. Have the Democrats impeached Trump?

The Democrats have not yet impeached Donald Trump. They are in the process of holding investigation hearings to determine if there is sufficient evidence to impeach him. Multiple committees are engaged in such investigations, but Adam Schiff heads the investigation with the most traction.

  1. I thought there were other committees, like the one headed by Jerry Nadler, which were looking into impeachment. What happened to them?

Currently there are six committees looking at various Trump activities that may warrant impeachment: Financial Services, the Judiciary, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Ways and Means. Nadler heads the Judiciary Committee. 

Those other committees have not dropped their investigations, but they are having difficulty obtaining documents and witnesses due to the decision by the President to exert executive privilege over anything that pertains to what happens in the White House. Several committees have turned their complaints over to the judicial system and are awaiting decisions about compliance.

  1. Why would Congress investigate the President at all?

We have a government based on a system of checks and balances, designed to thwart abuse of power by any one branch. Congress has always had oversight responsibilities, which means they routinely investigate actions by the Executive Branch. When Republicans were in charge of both houses of Congress during the first two years of the Trump Presidency, they essentially ignored oversight responsibility. When the Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives, they reinitiated oversight, much to the consternation of the White House, which has resisted their efforts.

  1. How is impeachment related to the Mueller Report?

The Mueller Report was never an impeachment investigation. It was an investigation by a Special Prosecutor to look into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 elections. Also, because of a Justice Department internal ruling, the report could not recommend charging the President with any crimes.

What that report found was that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election, using false and misleading stories to influence public opinion against Hilary Clinton. In other words, the Russians worked to elect Donald Trump. The report did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that a conspiracy between the Trump and Putin supporters existed, but it did not rule out such a conspiracy.

During the investigation the Mueller team did find multiple instances of obstruction that could rise to the level of impeachable charges, but felt it was not their responsibility to pursue such charges for two reasons: the Justice Department ruling that a President can not be charged and the existence of the impeachment process. In other words, they threw that part of the investigation to Congress.

It is the Mueller Report that initiated impeachment investigations in the Judiciary Committee, which are now on hold as demands for witness testimony and documents make their way through our court system.

  1. Who is Adam Schiff?

Adam Schiff chairs the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. That committee, along with the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees, are looking into the possibility the President abused his power when he withheld funds from Ukraine until its leaders agreed to an investigation of a Trump political opponent.

6. What’s the impeachment investigation in Schiff’s Committee about?

The original Ukraine complaint came from an anonymous whistleblower; that person came into possession of information that he or she believed indicated a grievous abuse of power. He or she then followed procedures set in place for filing such complaints. The Inspector General, who received the whistleblower’s complaint, investigated it and found its claims to “be credible” and “urgent.” He then sent the complaint, in accordance with due process, to the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire. That’s where things stalled.

Maguire refused to send the complaint to the Intelligence Committee within seven days, although he is required to do so by law. He also failed to respond to an Intelligence Committee’s subpoena for the complaint. Although he did not share the complaint with Congress within the required seven days, he apparently shared it with both the White House and the Justice Department.

Consequently, the whistleblower sought advice on how to advance his complaint to Congress. That led to a public conflict between Adam Schiff’s committee and the National Intelligence Director. Eventually, the whistleblowers’ complaint was made public and the White House released a summary of a July phone call between President Trump and the recently elected leader of Ukraine. That phone call is at the heart of, but not the full scope of, the complaint.

The whistleblower’s charges involved the use of the office of the Presidency for personal gain. The President refused to release congressionally appropriated funds to Ukraine for their defense against Russian aggression until he received a favor in return – an investigation of a potential political opponent, Joe Biden, and his son. In other words, the President conditioned foreign aid on receiving a political favor. Moreover, he asked that favor from a foreign country, which is itself an illegal act.

  1. Why are Democrats investigating Trump in secret?

The current hearings are being held in private, because the Justice Department, which should have undertaken an investigation, did not. Investigations are almost always done privately, partially to ensure that witnesses do not know what other witnesses have said.  Also, it’s not Democrats alone in those closed-door hearings. All members of the three committees overseen by Adam Schiff are involved and those members include 48 Republicans.

Closed-door hearings are common, particularly with investigations by the Intelligence Committee, which often deals with confidential matters. Republicans routinely used them during the Obama Administration, including many of the Republicans now claiming that closed-door sessions are unfair.

Once the preliminary investigation stage is over, there will be public hearings involving witnesses, most of whom will have testified behind closed doors. Also, the transcripts of the closed-door hearings will eventually be released to the public.

  1. Is it true that no Republicans are allowed in the Trump hearings?

That’s absolutely false and Republicans who are complaining about “secret” hearings know it. Republican members of the three committees involved in the hearings can attend, do attend and, we assume, ask questions.

  1. If it’s not true that the hearings are secret, why are the Republicans complaining about it?

At the moment it’s difficult to defend the behavior of the President, particularly in light of the opening statements of witnesses that have been publicly released. It’s commonplace in legal practice to complain about the process, when you can’t really challenge the facts. So, GOP defenders of the President are doing their best to throw dust in the air and pretend “there’s nothing to see here.” They hope, by complaining about the process and labeling it unfair, low information voters and Trump supporters will believe them and ignore the evidence.

  1. How come these witnesses are testifying, when other committees had difficulty securing witnesses and documents?

In some cases these witnesses no longer work for the government; in some cases they do. However, in all cases those individuals whose testimony would be covered by executive privilege have been subpoenaed by the committee and are complying with the subpoena.

  1. What are the likely charges against Trump and on what are they based?

Although down the road Trump might have to confront charges related to campaign finance abuses (he is essentially an unindicted co-conspirator on one of the charges that sent his former attorney Michael Cohen to jail), tax fraud, and obstruction of justice relating to the Mueller Report, he is currently in most danger from charges that he abused the power of his office in an attempt to compromise a potential political opponent. Two tangential charges may flow from that investigation – that he obstructed justice by obstructing investigation into those charges and that he failed to “faithfully” execute the orders of Congress by delaying the release of appropriated funds to Ukraine.

  1. If Trump is impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate, can he be impeached again?

Yes, there is no Constitutional limit to the number of times a person can be impeached, although it would have to be for other charges. There is, however, a potential political cost to multiple failed impeachments.

  1. What’s likely to happen about this impeachment business in the coming weeks?

The investigation into the whistleblower’s charges and related activities will probably continue behind closed doors for a couple of weeks. There will then be public hearings, somewhat like the Watergate Hearings. They would be televised in real time.

The House has an interest in trying to finish the process before the end of the year. So, unless something surprising is uncovered, watch for public hearings to show up in November related to specific impeachment charges. Watch for a vote in the House on those charges in late November or early December, sending the matter to the Senate.

  1. What’s likely to happen in the Senate?

For Trump to be convicted and removed from office, 2/3s of the Senate must vote to impeach him. That means a significant number of Republicans have to vote with the Democrats and that is, at least at the moment, unlikely to happen.

If it moves to the Senate, here are the things that can happen: Mitch McConnell can stall bringing the matter to the floor of the Senate or bring it to the floor with a vote to dismiss; McConnell can bring the charges to the floor with an expedited trial; or McConnell can bring the charges to the floor for a regular trial. Any trial will be public and televised. Chief Justice Roberts presides. It is at the trial that the President’s attorneys would have an opportunity to bring witnesses and cross-examine the House witnesses.

Stay tuned for Impeachment 103

Whopper of the Week, by Penny Smith: 10/23/2019

“We’re building a wall on the border of New Mexico. And we’re building a wall in Colorado, we’re building a beautiful wall, a big one that really works that you can’t get over, you can’t get under and we’re building a wall in Texas. We’re not building a wall in Kansas but they get the benefit of the walls we just mentioned.”       Donald Trump, Pittsburg, October 23, 2019

Trump tried to make part of that statement correct later that evening with a tweet that declared he was just kidding about Colorado. However, it’s clear from the video that Trump initially believed his statement about Colorado suddenly moving to our border with Mexico. Moreover, novice climbers, an eight year-old girl and a man juggling with one hand have all readily scaled a replica of the insurmountable wall.

Why I Think Trump Should Be Impeached, by Penny Smith: 10/28/2019

Number 1 in a Series (stay tuned for more)

Based on the Mueller Report, which I have read, including all those footnotes, it’s obvious that President Trump obstructed justice multiple times. Based on the Michael Cohen convictions, it’s likewise obvious that Trump probably violated campaign finance laws. Based on his on-going use of his properties for personal vacations and public business, it’s obvious that Trump violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Based on the opening statements by witnesses before the three committees looking into abuse of power concerning Ukraine, it’s obvious that Trump believes it’s fine to coerce a country for personal political gain. All those Trump behaviors are probably reasons for impeaching him, but they are not the primary one to me.

“High crimes and misdemeanors” as referenced in the Constitution refers not to crimes we associate with the criminal code, as many members of Congress would wish, but to actions that misappropriate public trust. If the President fails to uphold his oath of office, he needs to be impeached. And that oath is fairly simple: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Generally, when we look at the words “faithfully execute,” we mean that our President ensures that laws are put into effect. For that reason, it’s sometimes called the “take care clause.” The President is charged with taking care that the laws are executed, even if he disagrees with them. 

But I think of “faithfully execute” as more than simply putting a law into effect; I think of it as requiring some measure of being faithful, of being true to the meaning of laws. Being “faithful” suggests steadfastness, conscientiousness, and truthfulness. For example, there are facts to which we must be faithful. I think the President should be impeached, because he does nothing faithfully. He is a constant and often mean-spirited liar, whose language abuses the public trust in both certain individuals and our institutions.

He lies so often that there are now multiple Internet sites that keep a running total. He came into the Presidency as a serial liar, but the oath he took demanded another standard when he became our symbolic First Citizen. Before taking office he certainly lied about his fortune, his marriages, his affairs, his authorship of multiple books, and his predecessor, Barack Obama. He even lied periodically about lying.

On his first day in office he lied about the size of his inauguration crowd and sent his minions to the media to repeat those lies. He lied about voter fraud to cover his popular vote loss to Hilary Clinton. He lied about Mexico paying for the wall that is, as yet, not built. He lied about the nature of people seeking asylum, about Muslims, about separating families at the border, about hurricanes, about Puerto Rico deaths and recovery efforts, about climate change.

He lied about the nature of the Mueller investigation, calling it “a witch hunt.” He is currently calling House oversight a “coup.” If you are James Comey, once a registered Republican whom Trump loved when Comey criticized Hillary Clinton, you become “a terrible director” and “crooked,” when you fail the President’s loyalty test. If you are Robert Mueller, another registered Republican, you become “highly conflicted” and have a “gang of Democrat thugs” destroying people. However, your report is “beautiful,” since it found “no collusion” and “no obstruction,” neither of which is a fair reading of what Mueller found.

Trump, according to himself, is “the most transparent President in history.” He doesn’t “do cover-ups.” His daughter “has created millions of jobs.” He has “perfect” telephone conversations. The mainstream media publish “fake news;” only Fox is a beacon of truth, except, of course, when it isn’t. And it isn’t when it criticizes Trump. Democrats are committing “treason.” 

During the 2016 campaign he bragged about being able to become the most Presidential of all Presidents; his mean-spirited fabrications were simply electioneering tools. Yet once in office he made ad hominem attacks on everyone he believes is against him, even individuals he praised months earlier. Pelosi is “a very sick person.” Mattis is the “world’s most over-rated general,” except, of course, when Trump appointed him Secretary of Defense. Warren is “Pocahontas.” Biden is “a loser” and “a dummy.”

He believes Putin, not our intelligence officers. He thinks Kim Jong-un writes him such “beautiful letters” that they “fell in love.” He tells us that China is paying our tariffs, that the economy is the best it’s ever been for everybody, NATO is ripping us off, the United Nations is irrelevant, and the Kurds are happy. And, making all of the hyperbole and lies ever more dangerous, he is surrounded by people who applaud what he says and who repeat it on Sunday talk shows.

Public trust in the institutions of our government and in the people who work in those institutions is dependent on truth-telling and facts. Once that public trust is gone, so, too, will those institutions and non-partisan officials be gone. What Donald Trump has done, starting even before his run for the Presidency, is deal in conspiracy theories designed to erode trust. He’s gone from birth certificates to trading arms for political dirt, from promising to drain the swamp to making it the swampiest it has ever been.

Donald Trump is a peerless grifter, a con man, a snake oil salesman who doesn’t care if the snake oil makes blind the losers who buy it. A P.T. Barnum for our time, whose penchant for exaggeration, misspoken lines, and lies would be amusing were they not so perilous.

Benjamin Franklin argued that honesty is the best policy. The Bible commands us not to bear false witness. Shakespeare wrote, “no legacy is so rich as honesty.” Are there parents that willfully teach their children to lie to them? Yet we now have a President that lies to all of us on a daily basis, consciously, I fear, using those lies to sow discontent, division and derision.

Everyone misspeaks sometimes. Everyone gets something wrong now and then. But most of us strive to be truth-tellers and believe there exists a common set of facts. I’d impeach him for those lies; they are more a danger to our national honor, our politics, and our democracy than most of the other crimes he has committed.

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