The Follies

By: - July 31, 2015 10:37 am


Racist remarks from the head of the Rowan County Board of Elections

A man in Rowan County who made blatantly racist remarks will play a major role in determining where early voting sites are located in the next election, what hours they will be open if they are even located in African-American precincts, and how election officials are trained.

The Associated Press reports that Malcolm Butner was recently sworn in as Chair of the Rowan County Board of Elections despite national publicity about racist and homophobic comments on his Facebook page.

Butner said of the protesters at a recent Moral Monday protest, “Gee they are all black. I guess the white folk could not get off because they were too busy being productive good citizens.”

Butner also posted a rant about liberals which ended with this, “To hell with the lesbos, queers, liberals and babykillers.”

NC Republican Party officials say there were not aware of Butner’s hate-filled Facebook posts—even though they were reported by national blogs—-and have asked him to resign. But Butner told AP he would not leave the post “under any circumstances,” that he is real victim, and that he was asked personally to serve on the elections by the local GOP county chair. Lovely.

So unless something changes soon, Butner will be in charge of overseeing the next election in Rowan County.

GOP House member calls confederate flag issue political sabotage

It has now been more than a month since Governor Pat McCrory said the state should stop issuing specialty license plates bearing the confederate flag but the state is still selling them, or will be when McCrory’s DMV gets the additional plates it recently ordered after it sold out of them.

McCrory says he doesn’t have the authority to stop the issuance of the plates and needs the General Assembly to act. Legislative leaders say McCrory can stop it with a simple executive order, conveniently allowing both sides to blame each other while they do nothing and don’t offend the confederate flag supporters in their political base.

That may change soon however. The Insider reports that two Democratic members of the House plan to offer an amendment to a specialty license plate bill to address the confederate plates, but it may face opposition on the House floor.

Reps. Kelly Alexander and Larry Hall, the House Minority Leader, planned to offer the amendments to the bill in the House Finance Committee, but Chair Bill Brawley didn’t allow them and referred to the proposal as “political sabotage and games.”

That’s an interesting way to describe an effort to follow the lead of the Republican governor and take a symbol of hate off a state-issued license plate.

Rep. Stam says trust him, private schools are better

One of the most glaring problems with the school voucher scheme recently upheld by the N.C. Supreme Court is the almost complete lack of accountability in the program.

There are no curriculum standards for the schools that receive taxpayer-funded vouchers, no minimum qualifications for teachers or staff and the schools are not part of the A-F grading system currently used to evaluate public schools.

Students don’t have to take the same standardized tests as their counterparts at public schools and there’s no requirement that the schools publicly release any information about student achievement.

More than two-thirds of the voucher schools are affiliated with churches and many of the fundamentalist schools use a curriculum and textbooks that teach students bizarre things about science and history including that humans and dinosaurs co-existed and that slaves were generally treated well.

Voucher supporters have never really explained why North Carolina taxpayers should fund that sort of education but voucher champion Rep. Paul Stam did respond recently to questions about the lack of accountability in the program, telling the Asheville Citizen-Times:

“In general, private schools do better as a matter of education than public schools. That doesn’t mean every (private school) does. But in general, they do,” Stam said. “And so I guess my point would be when the public schools catch up to the private schools, we can have that question about accountability to the public.”

Interesting claim that Stam is making, that private schools are better.   But how does he know? Why not require the private voucher schools to take the same standardized tests as public schools and release the scores?

Or are we just supposed to take his word for it?

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066