Voter ID - A Lot Easier for Some

With the Governor's announcement today, renewing a driver's license just became a lot easier for lots of North Carolinians.

But with driver's licenses being the main acceptable unconstitutional form of identification at the polling place, can those who really want to stuff the ballot box take advantage of this online renewal system? Call me crazy, but who is monitoring the pictures????

DEQ being raked over the coal (ash) on Duke Energy settlement

And some of it is internal criticism:

But last week, a News & Observer reporter dug through piles of transcripts from depositions given during Duke's appeal and found statements like this from Thomas Reeder, the state's assistant secretary for the environment: "If it was up to me, it would have been about $50 million," he said. "They've nuked this whole drinking water source for the Wilmington area (around Duke's Sutton plant). Haven't done anything about it. Haven't owned up to it. So in my opinion, the penalty should have been a lot more severe than it was."

It would be disingenuous to say Tom Reeder has received "mixed reviews" here at BlueNC. His attitude during the early part of Republican control was often appalling, buying into the GOP meme that DENR had been hostile to business interests and needed stark reform. But he has been there for 17 years and is genuinely concerned about water quality. No doubt he will catch some heat for these observations, but he's right. DEQ's capitulation on these fines (and apparently future fines) will have an adverse effect on NC's water quality, along with the reputation of DEQ itself.

Monday News: Navassa is suffering edition

N.C. town plagued by 40-year-old contamination (Forbes) -- The town of Navassa, N.C. is still being plagued by contamination from a wood treatment plant that closed more than 40 years ago. The plant, operated by Oklahoma energy company Kerr-McGee, was open from 1936 to 1974. The factory made use of creosote preservatives, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has listed as a probable human carcinogen. According to the EPA, the factory disposed of its creosote wastewater in ponds.

The GOP's illogical attack on the Solar industry

The party of "no" cannot abide a successful venture:

The Republican leadership is starving state services to give tax cuts to big corporations because they say that “business friendly” approach will encourage job growth. But when a tax credit – essentially a targeted tax cut – produces the job growth and rural benefits that the broader tax cuts have not, they let it expire. The confusion in this approach was evident in the execution of it. The House voted overwhelmingly to extend the credit. Then, under pressure from senators opposed to incentives, renewable energy or both, the House reversed itself and agreed to let the credit end.

And given the chance to create jobs in the energy source of the future, they said no. Given a chance to help struggling rural counties benefit from a profitable new use for open land, they said no.

The bottom line is, Republicans really don't care about actually helping rural NC landowners, they are much more concerned about staying on the good side of a couple of Kansas billionaires. I remember several complaints from Democrats when the Hagan campaign chose to attack the Koch Brothers in TV ads, but you know what? She did us a favor by raising awareness of their activities. As a matter of fact, the reference to AFP in this second paragraph might not have even been written without that exposure:

Sunday News: Stop Cherie Berry's paycheck edition


At N.C. Dept. of Labor, little help for unpaid workers (Raleigh News & Observer) - -North Carolina has a simple requirement of employers: Pay your workers what you promise. When bosses don’t, Republican State Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry’s team has the duty under state law to step in and try to make it right. But for years, Berry’s Labor Department has rarely pushed uncooperative companies to settle debts to their employees. The Labor Department left hundreds of workers hanging in 2014. For some, like Hendricks, investigators closed the books on the case the moment they discovered the business had shuttered. Berry’s agency broke its own rules by not considering litigation in cases where workers weren’t paid in 2014.

Florida's Republican gerrymandering rejected by judge

And several members of its current delegation will soon be coming home:

A judge called Friday for a sweeping overhaul of Florida's electoral map, including the congressional district held by a Republican seeking to become the next U.S. House speaker.

Florida voters sought to end this by approving a 2010 referendum amending the state Constitution to apply "Fair Districts" standards, which mandate that legislators cannot draw districts intended to help incumbents or a member of a political party. Then, in a stinging ruling in July, the Florida Supreme Court said Republican operatives had "tainted" previous mapping efforts, and ordered eight districts redrawn. The House and Senate gathered in a rare August special session, but deadlocked over a new map drawn up by legislative staff.

Not sure how applicable this ruling will be in NC court cases, since a similar "Fair Districts" referendum has not been (and likely would never be) passed here. Then again, I also can't imagine the (US) Supreme Court looking favorably upon radically different methods amongst states for the selection of Congressional Representatives. But like any radical shift, there will be collateral damage:

Saturday News: Department of Homeland Fidelity edition

Homeland Security employee reports GOP Reps McCarthy and Ellmers having an affair (Ring of Fire Radio) -- A Department of Homeland Security employee is under investigation for posting to WikiPedia that House Majority Leader Republican Kevin McCarthy and Republican Representative Renee Ellmers are having an affair. Both are married. The Homeland Security employee is not being investigated for lying, but for using a government computer to edit the WikiPedia page, and possibly revealing confidential information.


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