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Pining for the bad old days in Raleigh

Things have changed at the N.C. legislature since Bob Brawley was last in office, and he doesn’t like it one bit.

When the Republican represented Iredell County in the state House throughout the 1980s and 1990s, lobbyists could bestow gifts on legislators rather freely. Fancy steak dinners courtesy of a lobbyist with an agenda were routine, and bigger gifts were not uncommon.

Brawley re-entered office this year in a much different environment. After former House Speaker Jim Black’s fall and subsequent imprisonment, lawmakers banned all gifts from lobbyists and put tight restrictions on meals.

Brawley hopes to take care of that. He filed a bill last week that wipes out the lobbyist gift ban. House Bill 640 deletes page after page after page of current restrictions. Not only could lobbyists ply legislators with gifts, they wouldn’t have to disclose those gifts to anyone.

Brawley, chairman of the House Finance Committee, had an interesting explanation for the bill.

He told WRAL-TV that disclosure requirements “are useless for anyone without internal ethics anyway.”

“They only tell you the law. They do not guarantee integrity,” he said. “What makes you think a person without ethics is going to obey a law anyway?” He told WRAL that the current gift ban is “an impediment to meeting and exchanging ideas and information.”

All you can do is scratch your head, and hope other legislators recognize what this would do to the public’s faith in the system.

It’s not paranoia if it’s true

We wouldn’t blame Charlotte officials for having some serious trust issues right now.

The city is on the brink of losing control of Charlotte Douglas International Airport to a regional authority, thanks to legislation authored by two lawmakers, Bob Rucho and Bill Brawley, who call our county home.

Then there’s Shawn Dorsch, who was appointed to the Charlotte Douglas airport advisory board by the city, but has been busy little Benedict promoting the airport authority concept to legislators and Mecklenburg’s neighboring counties.

As for those counties, well, they’re quick to talk up collaborative opportunities with Charlotte, but not nearly as quick as their sprint to pass resolutions supporting the airport authority and the spot they’ll get on it.

“It makes you not want to get involved in regional efforts at all,” said city councilman David Howard. Fellow councilman Andy Dulin, when talking about Dorsch, was more succinct. “Chump,” he said. We wouldn’t blame them for adding an adjective: “Fired.”

It was Machiavelli who advised to “keep your friends close and enemies closer.” But with Charlotte’s multi-billion-dollar asset, maybe Agatha Christie had it better: “Where large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust no one.”

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