Fitzsimon File

The Follies

Unanimous reviews for “The Nightmare on Jones Street”

The reviews are still pouring in for this week’s special midnight performance of the “The Nightmare on Jones Street: The Tillis Berger Divide and Conquer Show,” and the critics seem almost unanimous.

The Greensboro News & Record hails the performance as spiteful, bizarre, cynical, and “callow foolishness.”

The Wilmington Star News proclaims it hocus-pocus—sneaky, heavy-handed, and “the same old bag of dirty tricks.”

The News & Observer dubs it “Fright Night” and calls it regrettable and vindictive. The Charlotte Observer says the show “violates trust and maybe the constitution,” and is an affront to the citizens.

The Pilot in Southern Pines calls it underhanded, full of lies, and a “disgraceful performance by a heavy-handed bunch of political newcomers placing their own partisan advantage and narrow social agenda above the time-honored rules and principles of legislative fairness.”

Don’t worry if you missed this week’s Divide and Conquer Show. Another can’t miss performance is scheduled in Raleigh at noon on February 16, with several more in the works.

Weak and troubling excuses

Republican legislative leaders had a series of weak defenses for their perversion of democracy this week.

They tried to blame Governor Perdue, they said the issues has already been debated so bringing them up without notice wasn’t a big deal, they even fell back on the lame “the Democrats did it too.”

Perdue had little to do with it. She appointed the new Republican member of the House after the legislator filled out the paperwork required by law.

Claiming that no notice is needed for issues that have been already considered is an odd take that would mean we could do away with printing legislative calendars or giving any notice at all of most sessions. Maybe that’s their preference.

As for the assertion that the Democrats did the same thing when they were in power, well that’s not actually true. The Democrats have had plenty of problems with openness in the past, but have never pulled off this sort of caper.

But even if they had, what kind of defense is that anyway? A big part of the Republicans’ campaign message was a promise to open up the legislative process and make it more transparent and accessible.

Instead we get an unannounced session at 12:45 in the morning after one Democrat had gone home because he was ill and another, 85-year-old Dewey Hill, left because he was exhausted after a day of convening and recessing and reconvening.

The most troubling, but honest response to criticism of the whole episode came from State Republican Party Spokesman Rob Lockwood, who told WRAL-TV that the people don’t really care how things are done in the General Assembly.

That’s an interesting argument, which makes you wonder why follow the rules at all if the final result is all that matters.

It also shows an incredible disdain for the voters, to assume they care nothing about open government, never want to have any input into the decisions the General Assembly makes, and don’t care if their own legislators have a chance to participate.

It may be arrogant and condescending, but it at least it is honest. Republicans don’t really think it is ok to abuse the legislative process because the Democrats did it, or because Perdue didn’t appoint someone soon enough.

They think it is ok for them to run the General Assembly any way they want, break any rule, hold any secret meeting, prohibit any debate, because they think the people simply don’t care. Lovely.

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