Putting public interest second

Yesterday, I was puzzled that more newspapers didn’t see the late-night early morning session of the General Assembly as front-page news. (I know it happened past most deadlines, but the AP had a story available.)

More newspapers got on board this morning, thanks to strong statements by the governor and NCAE yesterday. Stories about the furtive session made the front pages of Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston, Fayetteville, Burlington, Asheville, Salisbury and Greenville, among others. Editorials in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and Wilmington condemned the action.

Good politics and good government are not contradictory. You just need legislators who put the public interest first.


Embarrassing politics as usual continues in Raleigh

The News & Observer’s lede rightly calls the General Assembly out this morning: “Just after 1 a.m. today, in a secreted session critics called unconstitutional, Republican legislative leaders passed a bill aimed at weakening the state’s largest teachers association.”

With shenanigans like this, it’s no wonder that the approval rating for elected officials is right down there with Casey Anthony’s, who has a new video diary, by the way. (Hey, maybe that’s an idea for the state legislature!)

I don’t know that the issue — concerning the automatic deduction of dues from teacher paychecks to the N.C. Association of Educators — is one that most of the state’s citizens care much about. But the idea of legislators meeting in secret throughout the day and then calling surprise vote well past bedtime is abhorrent to good government. Unfortunately, it seems to be good politics, and there’s the rub. From Laura Leslie’s report:

“These bills were debated extensively during session. They’ve had full vetting,” responded House Rules chairman Tim Moore, R-Cleveland. “Whenever the will of the majority is to pass legislation without further delay, we should move forward.”

“Do you think 1:05 AM is a good time for the public to participate in this debate?” asked Paul Luebke, D-Durham.

“No time is better than the present,” Moore replied.

Best I can tell, the early morning action didn’t make any of the state’s newspapers’ print editions. That’s too bad, but hardly surprising, given that the action occurred a few minutes after 1 a.m., then the governor issued her comments at 1:16 a.m., followed by a news conference by Democrats. The front pages of the News & Observer and the News & Record bannered stories about the day’s actions up until about midnight with foreshadowing of the hijinks to come. And both the N&R and N&O websites have strong reports. (Not so much on the state’s other major newspaper sites.)

Do people still get angry over this kind of political behavior or are they resigned to it as more bad politics as usual?