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In this last month of the N.C. legislature’s short session, as lawmakers were lumbering toward adjournment, they approved a bill to require candidates seeking office to file their campaign finance reports electronically starting in 2017. That’s a good piece of legislation that will make election campaigns more transparent. But the way lawmakers got it done, late at night and out of the public eye, only highlights the troubling lack of transparency that’s a constant with this legislature.

As I sat in the audience Wednesday night at the Levine Museum of the New South, listening to an intriguing discussion about the bond between blacks and Jews, a friend leaned over to show me something on her smartphone. It was a story about 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein. On Monday, Epstein was one of nine demonstrators arrested in St. Louis, MO, for failing to disperse after a protest of the shooting of an unarmed black man in nearby Ferguson.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that the N.C. legislature comes to the end of its long short session in a squabble over how and when to end it. It hasn’t mattered much that the Republicans are in charge of everything – the state House and Senate and the governor’s office. GOP infighting and House vs. Senate power plays – along with a little muscle-flexing or attempts at it by Gov. Pat McCrory and his staff – have been constant backdrops during the session that began May 14.

One sunny morning in 2006 I visited Daisy Stroud, and she took out photos and shared the story of her life. Every tale was an illumination of the times in which she lived, of the life she made with husband Gerson and the woman she came to be.

Sunday is the 61st anniversary of the end of the Korean War – sort of.

One spring day in 2008, while I was in Nashville, Tenn., to teach a class of aspiring editorial writers at the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center, John Seigenthaler drove up with a passenger. That passenger was Ethel Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s widow.

My guilty pleasure these days is the N.C. legislature. The Real Housewives of Atlanta or Orange County have nothing on state lawmakers for entertainment value. Take for instance, the petulant walkout of N.C. Senate Republicans on Wednesday.

The irony of black voters in Mississippi rescuing long-time Republican Sen. Thad Cochran from incongruous defeat this week in his runoff against upstart tea party favorite Chris McDaniel cannot be overstated – especially as many remember Freedom Summer of 50 years ago.

Maybe this won’t surprise some who live in Charlotte. It shocked me.

State Rep. Tim Moffitt said he wasn’t surprised that an N.C. judge deemed invalid and unconstitutional a law passed last session by the N.C. General Assembly. Maybe that’s because the honorables have had their hands slapped more than once after ramming through legally problematic legislation. The attorney general’s office is doing brisk business in court these days defending the Republican legislature’s moves.

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Jack Betts
Fannie Flono writes on news, politics and life in The Carolinas. Her column appears on the Editorial pages of The Charlotte Observer.
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