Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Resignation, after 22 months

With the resignation of former Speaker Jim Black from his seat in the House of Representatives Wednesday and his appearance in court Thursday to plead guilty to a federal charge of public corruption, there are a few folks who can accurately say, “I warned you.” They include former state Rep. John Rhodes of Cornelius and former state Sen. and Rep. Fern Shubert of Marshville.
Both are Republicans and each had significant differences with Black that went well beyond party ideology and to the heart of how the legislature operates. As Republicans in a House dominated by Democrats, they knew the chances of getting a lot of things done were somewhat limited by circumstances.
But they had particular concerns about procedures in the House. Not only were the votes likely to go in the opposite direction, but also their ideas and proposals were not going to get much, if any, of a fair hearing.
Shubert wrote Wednesday in the North Carolina Conservative, “Six years ago, in 2001, when Black was first elected Speaker, I caught a lot of heat because I did not vote for him. I had warned that he would be a disaster as Speaker and told people I would never vote for him for Speaker and I did what I said I would do. I believe I’m the only person who was a member of the House in 2001 who can say they never voted for Jim Black.” Read about that, and her call for continued investigations, here.
http://www.northcarolinaconservative.com/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1171446110&archive=&start_from=&ucat=&
Rhodes, who seemed to relish his tangles with Black, called for his resignation (and also Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight and Republican Co-Speaker Richard Morgan) in 2005 after news reports disclosed a slush fund Black, Morgan and Basnight controlled . Other Republican legislators present, including Rep. Jim Gulley of Mecklenburg and Sen. Eddie Goodall, also criticized the pork barrel fund but did not call for resignations.
Black’s resignation won’t solve all those problems, of course. Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, alsohas been a frequent critic of legislative procedures and critical of the House leadership’s policies that hampered full and open debate. New Speaker Joe Hackney has taken steps to improve the process. Blust has offered some good ideas for rules changes that ought to be given a serious hearing.
Rhodes lost in the 2005 Republican primary election after some members of his party turned against him in favor of another Republican. That probably stung, but the latest goings-on in Raleigh – including Black’s resignation about 22 months after Rhodes first called for it – probably relieved that sting a bit.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why Should Black and Decker Continue to Costs Taxpayers?

AFP-NC Supports Effort to Cut off Taxpayer Funded Pensions to Lawmakers Turned Felons

In March of 2005, the grassroots membership of Americans for Prosperity-North Carolina was among the first to call for Speaker Black’s resignation. He refused. Now after millions of dollars in investigations expenses, significant harm to the electoral system and the corrupt creation of the state lottery, Jim Black is headed to federal prison again at the expense of taxpayers. Soon former state representative Michael Decker will be joining him.

Unlike many states North Carolina does not appear to have a law that will keep these convicted felons who took bribes and broke the law from collecting a taxpayer funded pension, this is wrong and should be changed immediately.

AFP-NC is calling on the legislature to immediately correct this statutory oversight and prohibit any individual from receiving any public pension if they are convicted of a crime that results from abusing their elected or appointed position in any level of state government.

“The legislature should immediately pass the ‘Black & Decker Pension’ bill to correct this oversight in law,” said Francis De Luca-State Director AFP-NC.
“The citizens of North Carolina do not expect their hard earned tax dollars to go to convicted criminals who abused the public trust.”

To see a list of states and the current status on policies governing termination or Confiscation of Public Pensions go to:
http://www.nasra.org/resources/Pension%20termination%20policies.pdf

JAT said...

Jack --

Rhodes was our very own Paul Revere who tried to warn us about what was coming. For his trouble he was called a "nut case" and "bomb-thrower" and run out of office by his own party.

There is a reason people say Jim Black is just the tip of the iceberg.

Butch said...

Why has the Charlotte Observer not asked Lenior-Rhyne College why Speaker Black is still listed on there Web Site as Board Member? I wonder how much money he got for them? Will anyone investgate if money was given to Lenoir-Rhyne as payment for "consideration" by the Former Speaker. Did the Lutheran Church get any money from Speaker Black?

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if Jim Black is risking his
plea agreement by telling people he is not guilty but will plead guilty anyway.
The judge can't accept a plea if Black believes he is not guilty can he? Below
is the article from the Charlotte Observer on Saturday that has second hand quotes
from Black saying he is not really guilty.

Rep. Jim Crawford (D-OXFORD) said exactly the same thing on Leg Week in review ON
unc tv, that Black was going to take the deal EVEN THOUGH he was NOT GUILTY.
The judge could refuse to take the plea. Just wondering??


'MONEY DRIED UP'
>Friend: Black said legal tab forced plea
>Ex-House speaker has real estate valued at more than $3 million
>JIM MORRILL AND ERIC FRAZIER
>
>Former House Speaker Jim Black, who faces federal prison for taking what prosecutors
claim was $29,000 in payoffs, told a friend he pleaded guilty because he could no
longer afford to defend himself.
>
>Records show Black, an optometrist, owns more than $3 million in real estate,
including an office building in uptown Charlotte and three lakefront properties
along Lake Norman. He belongs to two country clubs.
>
>But the Matthews Democrat spent nearly $1 million in campaign contributions
on legal fees last year. And, according to friend and former Mecklenburg Democratic
chairman Cameron Harris, contributions to Black's legal defense fund have all
but dried up.
>
>Harris said Black called him Thursday on his way to federal court in Raleigh.
>
>I'm going to have to plead to some things I'm not guilty of, Harris
recalled him saying. I don't want to, but ... I can't raise any more money
and I don't want to put my family through what I would put them through any
more.
>
>Black, 71, pleaded guilty Thursday to taking money from chiropractors that prosecutors
said amounted to $29,000 over four years. Over the period, they say Black helped
pass legislation that benefited chiropractors.
>
>Black's lawyer, Ken Bell, has said that while the Mecklenburg Democrat acknowledged
taking money, he contested the amount. Neither Bell nor Black could be reached Friday.
>
>Black faces up to 10 years in prison. Sentencing is expected in May.
>
>Since federal and state investigations began two years ago, several of Black's
allies and former associates have pleaded guilty to various charges. Black has dug
deep to pay his own legal fees.
>
>Funding began to ebb
>
>After the attorney general rejected his request for $200,000 in state money
last spring, Black's friends created a private legal defense fund. Organizers
refused to make its records public.But from his campaign fund, Black spent $915,000
on legal fees between July and November alone.
>
>Once one of the legislature's top fundraisers, Black saw his own contributions
fall to $57,000 in the last quarter of 2006, most coming from fellow optometrists.
Contributions to his defense fund apparently dwindled, too.
>
>"The money dried up," Harris said Friday. "All the guys who got
help from him stopped returning phone calls."
>
>Addison Bell, a Matthews businessman who set up the fund, could not be reached
Friday.
>
>"They're hopeful that there's more money coming," said Stan
Campbell, the fund's trustee. "But I don't know what plans they have
to make that happen."
>
>Despite Black's rising legal costs, he has extensive personal real estate
holdings.
>
>He owns more than a dozen properties in Mecklenburg and Iredell counties valued
at nearly $3.4 million. They range from his Matthews home, assessed at nearly a
half-million dollars, to an uptown office building valued at $1.1 million, to three
Lake Norman area properties with a combined appraised value of just over $1 million.
>
>Black's generosity recalled
>
>Black has practiced optometry since the 1960s. He sees patients at offices in
Matthews and Charlotte. Black made money, but didn't ask for any from people
who couldn't afford it.
>
>Phyllis Lynch, a community leader in Charlotte's Cherry neighborhood, took
dozens of elderly neighbors in for eye exams. "He would render the services
free, glasses included," Lynch said Friday.
>
>Black kept appointments Mondays and Fridays, days the legislature is out of
session. According to one friend, Black once said two decades of legislative work
cost him $2 million in lost revenue.
>
>Harris said Black told him the prospect of continued legal costs helped prompt
his decision to plead guilty.
>
>I can win this, Harris recalled he said. But it's going to cost another
million dollars to do it.
>
>-- Researcher Marion Paynter and staff writer Carrie Levine contributed.

Anonymous said...

Conspicuously absent from among those who can say "I warned you" is what is supposed to be the people's watchdog for this community: The Charlotte Observer.

It is inded a shame when the most accurate analysis of politics, local and statewide,is to be found not in the heavy hitting daily, but in the local alternative weekly newspaper. And it is THERE that those warning were found in the local press, rather than at the Observer.

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