On July 15th, 2014, primary run-off election day in Wake County, I wrote a post “Voter Integrity Project wanted masked people, cameras at NC polling place” based on information presented at a Wake County Board of Elections meeting on the evening of July 14th and public discussion by staff and board members of the events of that day related to this issue. They were precipitated by a voicemail message left early morning July 14th by Jay DeLancy, Executive Director of the Voter Integrity Project, for Cherie Poucher, Executive Director of the Wake County Board of Elections. I personally witnessed the meeting and elements of the discussion were confirmed in conversation with the Executive Director immediately after the meeting.
On September 13th, some two months later, I received a letter by certified mail from Denise Stetter regarding the post, presented as a “Notice to Cease and Desist”, disputing the account. Stetter, then Chief Judge of Precinct 01-42, was not present at the July 14th meeting and was not a witness to the discussion or presentation of information. The meeting discussion took place between Stetter’s superiors as a public official, Cherie Poucher and Deputy Director Gary Sims, Board Chair David Robinson, and Board Members Brian Ratledge and Mark Ezzell. Stetter’s role as Communications Director for the Voter Integrity Project under Jay DeLancy was also a subject of discussion at this public meeting.
Assuming Stetter’s recent new statements to be factual, I made visible changes to the original post reflecting new information provided by Stetter.
Early Monday morning July 14th Wake County Elections Director Cherie Poucher listened to a strange request on her voice mail. Jay DeLancy of the Voter Integrity Project wanted to use a county polling place today, Tuesday July 15th, run-off primary election day, for a photo-shoot with a number of masked people lined up attempting to vote as unidentified voters. DeLancy claimed he had cleared it with the precinct chief judge and wanted the Wake Board’s approval. The precinct chief judge in question is Denise Stetter who is also communications director for the Voter Integrity project.
What they were conspiring to do These actions would have been a violation of at least two North Carolina laws.*
Attorney Charlton Allen’s nomination by Governor Pat McCrory to serve on the quasi-judicial Industrial Commission has come under fire. An article today by the Independent Weekly lays out some of Allen’s “Racially Dubious Past”, in particular his activities while a student at UNC Chapel Hill in the early 1990s.
“They [led by Allen] also deposited an inflatable sheep at the headquarters of the campus Gay-Straight Alliance to equate homosexuality with bestiality. One issue of the Carolina Review featured a black man in a bull’s eye. Some issues featured cartoons with pictures of Klansmen.”
More recently he expressed his opposition to protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation in answering a 2012 candidate questionnaire from the NC Family Policy Council:
If they won’t tell us what’s in fracking fluid, and it becomes a crime in NC to reveal fracking chemicals, would it be a crime to keep guessing random substances until you hit one? “Raspberry jam? No. Frappuccino? No. Ethylene glycol? I’m not at liberty to say, but you’re under arrest. Oh, and Starbucks just called about a copyright violation. It’s Frappuccino®, and they’re suing you for defamation. Corporate just called, and raspberry jam may or may not be an ingredient because those seeds keep the cracks apart the same way they get stuck between your teeth, so you’re under arrest for that too.”
Senator Bob Rucho is one of the most strident advocates of strict voter ID laws in NC requiring photo ID for proof of identity, in his words, “providing integrity and honesty in the system”. Last month according to court and police records his namesake son, Robert Rucho II, was charged with using a fake ID to purchase alcohol, underage consumption of alcohol, and larceny of a bottle of liquor from a Chapel Hill restaurant.
Marcus Brandon, NC State Representative and a congressional candidate paid a penalty of $5,000 for prohibited contributions to his state campaign committee, and may have used another prohibited payment to do so. Brandon, a Democratic primary candidate for the Congressional District 12 elections, used a check drawn on the account of his congressional campaign to satisfy the penalty imposed by the NC State Board of Elections (NCSBE) as part of an ongoing audit.
The $5,000 check was given to the NCSBE on February 28th to be paid directly into the NC Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund on March 1st, and reported as disbursed for “penalties and fees” in a quarterly report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by the Marcus Brandon for US Congress committee. Brandon is not running for re-election to his state seat.
DENR Secretary John Skvarla grimaced his way through a February 19th press briefing on the Dan River coal ash spill. Only as he walked smartly away from a clamoring press corps, which was chagrined at the briefing’s premature cessation, did he crack a smile, followed by a smirking Tom Reeder, his Water Quality Man Friday. They had promised a press conference that would last as long as there were questions to be asked, but Michael Biesecker of the Associated Press had apparently asked one too many.
A disconsolate Skvarla famously urged his besieged staff to “smile, be happy, have fun and enjoy the process – because if we can’t do that we’re all doing the wrong thing”. He even urged them by email to include it as a measurable goal in their Employee Performance Plans. By any public measure Skvarla is failing miserably in this category, though to be fair he and other political appointees may sit around privately laughing at the sorry state of North Carolina’s eroding environmental protections.
Skvarla’s oral fixation manifested itself early as he visited DENR’s disparate divisions and offices to get to know his new underlings. He surprised some managers in conversation with his personal affectation for tooth brushing after lunch, which he claimed put a whole new shine and invigorating outlook on the rest of the working day. It might have been dismissed as personal quirk except that later in the year at a DENR leadership training session, after regaling managers with his life story, personal leadership credo and management mantras, he had staff distribute toothbrushes emblazoned with the DENR logo along with toothpaste for the purpose of invigorating the latter half of every work day.
The inner cynic thinks this was dreamed up, Mad Men style, over mid-day martinis, but it’s entirely plausible that regular preventive maintenance can lead to a better and more productive work environment. Perhaps we could all learn from Skvarla’s happy teeth. Perhaps this could apply equally to the natural environment. How hard could it be? Because, if we can’t have a better natural environment “we’re all doing the wrong thing”.