Stacking, Unpacking, and Hijacking the State

For six hours Thursday, three words- stacking, unpacking, and hijacking -were thrown about in cliche fashion  by liberals and race-baiting bigots, alike.  These words rolled off the lips of NAACP officials, several democrat party chairpersons, and mountain folk, many of whom questionably understood what the terms ‘stacking’ and ‘unpacking’ mean.   In all, some 75 citizens from our fair state spoke over these 6 hours on the subject of re-districting North Carolina’s 13 congressional parcels.  To witness these musings was at least a bit entertaining, if not educational.

One of the more amusing speakers during the session was the Reverend Doctor William Barber II, President of the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP.   North Carolina’s very own the ‘buffet slayer’ took every second of his allotted five minutes (and then some), to express more rhetorical  and inflammatory innuendo than Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Louis Farrakhan combined might have mustered.  In his trademark fashion, Barber contradicted himself repeatedly during what appeared to be prepared remarks, at once decrying the stacking and unpacking of districts with minority voters.  In the end, he was merely there to put on a show of protest for whatever the maps might have produced and regardless of what the districts reflected.

Thirty or so speakers praised the work of the Rucho-Lewis commission for their clean-up of the badly gerrymandered districts they inherited from more than 100 years of democrat rule in Raleigh.  True to their charter, the commission managed to balance the party, demographics, and population counts to comply with the Voter Rights Act (VRA) and court cases, leaving generally intact the 1st, 4th, and 12th districts which were mandated to remain majority-minority districts.  Still, 30 or so speakers complained that two of these three districts were unacceptable– the 1st District because it was “unpacked” of some minorities; and the 12th because it was further “stacked” with minorities from Charlotte to Greensboro along the I-85 corridor.  It seems the Dems aren’t pleased with anything except the status quo, complaining the GOP has “hijacked” the state for purely political purposes.

One interesting comment repeated all evening long was the liberal plea to republicans to re-start the process by employing a bi-partisan or non-partisan approach to re-districting, beginning with a blank map and making perfectly compact and contiguous districts.  Such an approach would actually violate the Voting Rights Act, would never stand up in the courts, and would represent a complete departure from what the democrats had done in gerrymandering districts for political purposes for many decades.   Not surprisingly, that message didn’t seem to resonate with GOP speakers or with decision-makers who populated each of the nine sites in the video-conference.   

Perhaps the most prevalent complaint heard throughout the six hour public hearing pertained to the 11th District’s loss of Asheville and the most highly populated part of southeast Buncombe County to the 10th District.  There were at least 20 speakers during the evening who complained about the new 11th District, lamenting how Asheville was being attached to the Republican-held 10th District, where its progressive voice will be lost among the fiscal and social conservatism of young Patrick McHenry’s district voters. 

Lee County had one speaker (Commissioner Jim Womack) who expressed pleasure with the county’s new alignment under Howard Coble and the 6th Congressional District.  He welcomed the inclusion of the military cantonment area of Ft Bragg, Spring Lake, western Harnett County, most of Lee County and a broad swath of the 421 corridor in this district that stretches from the Sandhills to the Piedmont.  The district likely will become one of the state’s most conservative districts.  Womack requested that Sen. Rucho re-assess the need to slice off 700 or so Lee County voters in northeast Lee County, recommending instead that Rucho re-draw the 4th District – 6th District boundary north of the Deep River and along the Harnett County line, leaving Lee County completely in the 6th District.

When all is finalized, there is little doubt that liberal and progressive reactionaries will test the legitimacy of these new districts in the NC court system: Dr. Barber even promised to “see Rucho-Lewis in court.”   In the end, though, it seems probable that little will be altered in the plans and these new districts will be in place for at least 10 years.  It also looks likely that 10 or maybe even 11 of the 13 districts will now be competitive for GOP candidates, rather than just 6 or 7 winnable districts in the past. 

Here are some projections–

* These district maps will not see much change between their present draft form to what the courts approve in a few months.

* Republican incumbents will fare well in their newly drawn districts during the 2012 campaign.

* Illario Pantano (R) will win the coastal 7th District in 2012, ousting Mike McIntyre in 2012. 

* Brad Miller (D) will be vulnerable with his newly drawn 13th district and his seat will be targeted by national and state-level republicans for GOP takeover.

* G.K. Butterfield (D) will be surprisingly vulnerable in the VRA-scrutinized 1st district race in 2012, eventually losing to a moderate republican who has strong roots in an around Wake County. 

* In all, 10 of the 13 congressional districts will be won by the GOP in 2012 (with only the 12th being safe for the Dems and where the 1st and 4th districts will be very hotly contested).

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About John Jay

First Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; Author of several of the Federalist Papers
This entry was posted in Election 2010, Election 2012, Lee County Politics, NC Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Stacking, Unpacking, and Hijacking the State

  1. The Sheepdog says:

    Well stated sir. Regarding your predictions, may it be so. As a strong conservative, I was not happy with the redistricting plan – until I heard the squeeling and caterwauling of the many socialist dems. Anything they are SOOO against must be good for the rest of us! Subtle genius: all of the densly populated cities are now multiple districts thereby preventing any one city from throwing it’s weight and forcing their “progressive” (read left wing socialist) candidate on the rest of us. Now, elections will truly be a product of work and ideas. As to “minorities” and leeches like Barber, (nothing about him or his actions to be revered) their code words are readily accepted by the populace. If a white man were to say, claim or scream 1/4 of what they do, he would be jailed. They scream because they want a black district so they can force a Mel Watt on the rest of us but then they scream because there are too many blacks in the district. Laughable, if it weren’t so serious. Justice is blind, isn’t she?

  2. Norman Thomas says:

    I see we are back to ad hominem attacks. It is difficult sometimes to keep track of what it is that you all approve of on any given day.

  3. Patrick Henry says:

    Dear Norman: It’s equally difficult to satisfy liberals on any given day! Especially the ones that drink the Rev Barber’s koolaid and believe Obama is the Messiah!

    Mr. Jay – do not forget that a judge has already ruled the existing NC Democratically favored drawn districts as unconstitutional and ordered them to be redrawn.

    • Randall Lee Yow says:

      So are you in favor of the Voting Rights Act?

      -Randall Lee Yow

    • Norman Thomas says:

      Mr. Henry,

      You are under no obligation to satisfy me or any other liberal. It’s just fun to point out how inconsistent you people are.

  4. Randall Lee Yow says:

    Actually I think the way they have redrawn the lines in the 6th District might actually help to make it more competitive. The Counties father to the South have a more libertarian strain to their Republicanism that would help someone like Billy Yow beat Howard Coble in the primary. If it was Billy Yow versus a more moderate Democrat I could see a true moderate pulling off a win. After all Heath Schuller’s district was supposed to be a safe Republican district stacked with mountain folks who have been Republicans since the “late unpleasantness” and he pulled off a victory there.

    Good for Jim Womack wanting to keep Lee County all together. I am waiting to see what gets done to us in the NC House and Senate districts. I am afraid Lee County is going to get cut in two or three pieces. If that happens we may not have a citizen elected from Lee County in Raleigh for ten years. I hope Mike Stone is working hard to keep Lee County whole.

    -Randall Lee Yow

    • Randall;

      Agree with him or not, Howard Coble is a respected statesman and will do well again in 2012. He’s more of a true conservative than is Billy Yow. Read their respective positions on the issues: Coble will win the Tea Party and establishment GOP voters hands down. Howard has about one or two terms left in him, and he likely will breeze through the next couple of elections, barring any health issues. Howard has a strong base all across the 6th district and he will quickly cozy up with Lee County GOP as well. In fact, since the district maps have been floated, he’s already been in contact with some GOP members here in the county, and is looking to visit here soon better understand our citizens and their concerns. Billy Yow is a nice young politician, but he lacks the credentials, education, and voter base essential to winning the 6th. Billy is a career well-digger with no real education or corporate experience. Billy’s service as a commissioner is useful, but not necessarily distinguished, and certainly only endears him to Guilford County, not the rest of the district.

      Publius

  5. Goose says:

    If I had my wish the districts would be drawn in a rational way without benefit of past voting history or racial statics but that is never going to happen. I would have said the same for proportional voting except I think that was actually tried during the last election for the “nonpartisan” judges. Thank heavens for those nasty yellow sheets handed out by conservatives (remember the stink that caused?) If you leaned conservative you voted for the yellow sheeters or if not you voted for the other ones.
    Now my interest is the special areas. Prisons, military bases and colleges. I think all the inmates were counted. Since most prisoners are felons they don’t have the right to vote but they still get counted and figured into districts, right? I think military and students get to choose where their votes are counted; it is just a matter of where they are registered. But where are they counted and what is their impact on the districts. Do our troops overseas even get counted? I know they can vote by absentee ballots. Any of you Founding Fathers feel like educating a Goose?

    • Here’s a brief answer on the question of soldier and student counting. Yes, the census counts them and yes, they are factored into the districting. Soldiers and students can choose to retain their home districts, but they are free to change their voter registration to vote where they permanently live if they so desire. Regardless, they get counted for districting purposes. Now, here is the bitter truth about the military and students. Most of them fail to vote. Yep, it’s true. Student voting rates typically pattern those of all voters– very low. Military voting is even worse. When Army soldiers are away from their home of record, they usually forego the troublesome burden of getting an absentee ballot and mailing it back. However, the older the soldiers get, the more frequently they vote. Career military officers and NCOs will vote at a rate of around 25% for primary elections, 50% for general elections in even numbered years. Air Force and Marine voting percentages run a little higher than Army & Navy. Most politicians recognize these facts and make little attempt to seek out and court military voters. However, these same pols well recognize the need to have a pro-military reputation so the ones with bases in their districts need to make periodic visits and try hard to stay up to date on military issues, like DADT.

      You are correct on prisoners. They get counted where the prisons are, but they don’t vote (at least the felons don’t vote because state law prohibits it).

      Publius

  6. LetLibertyPrevail says:

    Troops? They are the most disenfranchised group of all! Do the Dems care about the troops? Absolutely not because they generally lean right. And if they did election officials would quit hiding the absentee ballots as they are known to do. But it appears that neither do the politicians on the right or they would do something about their votes and figure out a way to ensure they are counted. NOW!

    Funny Goose you bring up those nasty yellow sheets. Poor Mr. Clark and the Dems had hissy fits over them.

    By the way Goose, how is the recovery from the tornado going? is there anything you need? Please don’t be shy. I would like to help.

    • See my note below on voting behaviors of soldiers. Even though the Dems show little attention to registering and rallying soldiers, some of them still register as Dem or Unaffiliated and some still vote that way (at least, some of the few that vote). Voting behaviors usually are borne out of family traditions. Young soldiers generally vote if their parents placed emphasis on voting. And the ones who perform absentee voting are the ones whose families help arrange for mailing the ballots to them and keeping them informed on which candidates are favored. If states would implement a system that would more easily facilitate absentee voting for soldiers (via the WWW), then voting percentages would go way up!

      Publius

  7. Goose says:

    Thanks James! I knew about the Prisons, fairly sure about the Collages, but except about using absentee ballots didn’t know about our Troops. Let me tell a tale about a college town near where I grew up. 8000 (mostly GOP) residents, 600 (liberals) staff, 6000 students. State college so the tax base was low. The good thing was that most of the students didn’t have children to overload our school system which had separate taxing authority but each school budget had to be approved by the voters. I don’t think I have claimed that liberals are stupid so every time a school budget appeared to be in trouble they would rally the college students and bus them to the polls. They had the finest schools that the taxpayers couldn’t afford. Taxpayers aren’t stupid either, all the manufacturing places voted “with their feet” national or large chains were in a ring just outside district limits they wanted the student customers but not the very steep taxes. Even Bob (what’s his name?) couldn’t bribe a business into that district. When the value of the school bonds exceeded the total value of the tax base (which had plunged much more than taxes had been raised). The state stepped in, reviewed and cut the budgets to the bone. No new bonds, arranged to pay cents on the dollar as the bonds defaulted.
    Having gotten a taste of power and with nothing to lose, they didn’t pay property taxes, the students tried to take over village government. They elected a student as the next mayor (at large office) and a student from the college district. At that point the village government voted to disincorporate and let the county handle the problem but that had to be approved by the voters and of course it failed. The state agreed to make payments in lieu of taxes on some of their holdings like dorms so the village exists but really doesn’t govern since they don’t have the money to provide services and no one will even try to sell their bonds.
    I think this fits with John Jay’s article since it illustrates the problem on a smaller scale.
    Goose

  8. For Goose– What an awful scenario! Those actions were a sure ticket to disaster for the citizens of that county. I trust we’ll never allow something like that to happen here in Lee County. In fact, the local fiscal policy (which we reportedly do NOT violate) is that our debt service will never exceed 14% of our total budget. Even if the K-12 schools threaten legal action for capital improvements or new school buildings, the county will not allow capital obligations to exceed 14% of the budget as we pay off debt. Any new proposals to take on new debt are automatically dismissed if the obligation would take the cumulative debt service obligation above the 14% level. It’s a nice failsafe for us, and prevents us from the kind of financial meltdown Harnett County is going through this year.

    Publius

  9. Goose says:

    James, Sorry but I had to down rate your comment because I don’t feel you read me close enough. School districts have full taxing authority, SUBJECT TO THE APPROVAL OF THE VOTERS. Sure there is some state funding though it is mostly from the “education lottery”. The state does not oversee the districts practices, and they can sell tax free bonds backed by their taxing authority to anybody dumb enough to buy them (I’ll give you a great deal on mine!). But what happens when the taxes are so high that people start to “vote with their feet” the value of the tax base plunges, industry and even small businesses move out, no new housing is built, heck even the farms go down in value. The old tax base could carry those bonds but the new tax base can’t. Raise taxes more? Heck I know of people that couldn’t sell their homes that tried to deed them to the school system, looked into tearing them down to escape the tax. Should I bother to mention that you can’t get Fire insurance? Right now the best solution is to donate them to non-profits, take the deduction against income and walk away tax free. Every year there is a line of people waiting to argue that their tax assessment is way above true market value and the board of adjustment is stonewalling to try to keep the assessments where they are.
    If you would rather look at a less extreme and NC case look at Ashville in the 1929-1950 era

    • Goose; I read you close enough. You are just plain wrong if you think your worst case example will ever happen here in Lee County, NC. Only under one perverse scenario would an NC school district ever receive direct taxing authority. Thankfully, not a single county in NC has gone down that path. Counties like Lee County have written and codified policies that preclude debt challenges from getting out of control, even in recessionary times like the present. You can conjure up all kinds of crazy scenarios for debt and taxation maladies, but the bottom line is this: we aren’t going to go there in Lee County. Property values are down, but holding relatively steady. Tax burdens are steady and probably will be going down next fiscal year. Revenues are holding generally steady. Local government spending is down, overall. Capital expenses are down and (in the wake of the the LCHS funding referendum) we’re pretty much holding the line on major new capital projects. A good degree of fiscal responsibility is being exercised here and I don’t ever imagine we’ll be in the shape of the states and localities you describe.

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