The kings ain't satisfied

By Scott Mooneyham | Feb 11, 2013

RALEIGH -- Last week at the North Carolina General Assembly proved that human nature always trumps political ideology, political power is political power no matter who holds it.

Or, maybe it showed that the political party in the minority, whether Democratic or Republican, is always the party of the New Testament, advising the majority to turn the other cheek, remember the Golden Rule. The political party in the majority does the opposite, becoming the party of the Old Testament: "And thine eye shall not pity, but life shall go for life, eye for eye …"

Whatever the case, Republicans in the state Senate were, if not in eye-for-eye mode, certainly looking to pull a few Democratic teeth. They rolled out and quickly passed a piece of legislation that would fire several dozen Democratic appointees to key policymaking state boards and commissions. The proposal would dismiss all of the current members of the Wildlife Resources Commission, Industrial Commission, Utilities Commission, Coastal Resources Commission and State Lottery Commission.

In their place, Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders could appoint new members. More than a dozen other boards would be eliminated outright, and 12 special Superior Court judges would see their positions eliminated. Initially, Republicans were a bit coy.

Bill sponsor Bill Rabon, a Brunswick County Republican, said that he and his colleagues were just "cleaning up some things that have been left behind." Later, he and other Senate Republicans acknowledged that, rather than wait for terms to expire, they wanted to allow a new administration and relatively new legislative leaders to put their people with their philosophy in place now. He might have said their donors, but didn't.

After all, these are coveted appointments that typically go to the politically well-connected and hefty campaign donors. Democrats, of course, protested that an unprecedented power grab was underway, forgetting that similar things had occurred when they ruled the roost. They also predicted that Republicans would run afoul of the state constitution by eliminating the judgeships.

Republicans responded that the appointments of the special judges were as political as anything in the bill. Several of the judges walked into the jobs after serving in previous Democratic gubernatorial administrations or having had other ties to top Democratic leaders. Despite the dust-up and expenditure of political capital, the legislation may slow down in the House.

Some House Republicans have indicated that they are especially skeptical of eliminating the judges' jobs. Even so, what we have here is more clear and convincing evidence that the voting public should be leery of claims that one political party is the party of reform, the other the party of the status quo.

The party out of power always wants reform, because reform involves putting themselves in power. The party in power always wants to consolidate that power. Or, as that Old Testament student Bruce Springsteen put it, "Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, and the king ain't satisfied 'til he rules over everything." END.