It's almost too easy, but somebody has to say it:
Black & Decker is the company known for power tools.
Black and Decker are the tools known for abusing power.
At this point, the only people who still defend House Speaker Jim Black fall into two groups: the people he did favors for, and the people who did favors for him.
Lately a lot of those people have found themselves in need of lawyers.
The latest one to end up on a court docket is Michael Decker, the former state rep from Forsyth County.
Decker was a Republican who switched parties and threw in with Black so the Democrats could control the House three years ago. Now Decker is revealing what he got in the deal: $50,000 in campaign contributions and cash.
Decker admitted the payoff as part of his plea to a federal conspiracy charge. He didn't specify who provided the money, and Black denies doing anything wrong.
But Black has admitted directing a few campaign checks Decker's way -- including some with the payee line left blank.
And after Decker lost his election in '04, Black got him a state job at $48,000 a year.
And somehow, Decker's son ended up with a job as a legislative staffer.
And, and, and.
Black's political director, Meredith Norris, is charged with violating the state's lobbying laws.
The guy Black appointed to the state lottery commission, Kevin Geddings, was indicted by a federal grand jury on nine counts of fraud.
And the state Board of Elections says Black himself broke campaign-finance laws.
"I'm not going to comment on any ongoing legal matters," Black has said.
In that case, he won't get to talk much for the next five years or so.
You can believe that Jim Black picked the worst group of friends and allies in political history -- people who cut corners and broke laws left and right while poor ol' Jim watched unawares.
Or you can believe that Jim Black is smarter than that.
Black loves to tell the story about his first election -- in first grade, he ran for the post of crossing guard at Matthews Elementary. He lost by one vote. He lost three elections in the '80s before latching onto his House seat for good.
He learned from those losses. He says he learned not to quit. But he also learned what it takes to win.
And over the years he has made himself into one of the most powerful people in our state. When important people in North Carolina want something done, they don't go to the governor. They go to Jim Black.
Black likes that position. And I suspect he has done a lot to keep it.
He is so entrenched that even these scandals might not pry him out of office. But a man as smart as Jim Black has to know the damage he's doing to this state.
If he loves the power, he'll find a way to stick around.
But if he loves North Carolina, he'll resign.
You hit it right on the head Tommy. In case any reader doesn't know Black is planning on keeping his speaker job after he is 're-elected'. But that can only happen if you allow him to win another term.