Muni broadband battle continues in NC

Wilson seeks help from the FCC:

City of Wilson leaders filed a 59-page petition with the FCC in July asking for the overturn of state law that restricts the expansion of the city’s broadband network, Greenlight. The petition was filed several months after FCC’s chairman Tom Wheeler committed to possibly overruling state laws that restrict government-run networks.

Since the city’s filing, close to 150 individuals, organizations and companies — including AT&T and CenturyLink — have filed comments with the FCC. USTelecom, which represents communication giants including Verizon, also filed comments in opposition. Netflix, on the other hand, wrote in favor of the city’s petition. "Netflix agrees with Chairman Wheeler that the commission has the authority to preempt state laws that ban competition from community broadband, and in appropriate circumstances, should wield that authority,” Netflix wrote.

Take it from somebody who lives right on the county line: the utilities and services provided to me from the other side of that county line are critical. It shouldn't even be a consideration in this broadband issue. And neither should the paternalistic fear-mongering from Pope's puppet gallery:

Note to North Carolina candidates: How to talk about Medicaid

Having heard a number of candidates flub questions about Medicaid, I'm hoping these points will be helpful in future discussions.

  • Don't just say "Medicaid expansion" and assume people know what you're talking about. If voters don’t get Medicaid (and most don't), they wonder why it will help them to expand it. What we're talking about here is Health Care Insurance for the Working Poor.
  • Explain that the money from this program does not go to people, it goes directly to support health care providers in North Carolina – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, our hospitals, ambulance drivers, and our universities. Lead with this.
  • We are turning down $4 billion per year, every year that we are not in this program. That is $4 billion that would be used to hire more doctors and nurses and provide real jobs in hospitals or people working in drug stores. It would help businesses that make medical supplies.
  • The Tillis/McCrory position is a JOB KILLER. The federal government is ready to load up trucks with $4 billion in cash every year and spend it on jobs right here in our state. Thom Tillis is saying "no." Why?
  • That economic activity would generate TAX REVENUE for NORTH CAROLINA to pay our teachers, build roads, and support our police and firefighters. We will generate 3 to 4 times more in tax revenue through this program than what we have to lay out to implement it.
  • The Tillis claim that taking the money would bankrupt the state does not pass 1st grade math. The $4 billion we would get into the state could generate as much as at least $1 - $2 billion in STATE INCOME AND SALES TAX REVENUE. These benefits FAR OUTWEIGH the cost of the program to North Carolina, which is only $300 million per year.
  • This is the real kicker: NORTH CAROLINIANS ARE WRITING TAX CHECKS FOR $1 BILLION PER YEAR TO BUY HEATH INSURANCE FOR WORKING PEOPLE IN OTHER STATES! That's right. We are buying a billion per year of health insurance for people in California. Why is Thom Tillis doing this?
  • Other conservative states have figured out the economic benefit and have accepted the reality of the new health care economy. Why have conservative states like Arizona, Arkansas, North Dakota, West Virginia and Kentucky (all of which voted for Mitt Romney by wide margins) accepted the money, but not North Carolina?

Back to the Puppetshow

Years ago, much of my writing at BlueNC involved pushing back against Art Pope's Multimillion Dollar Opinion Manufacturing Machine, of which the John Locke Foundation used to be the drive shaft. Each day, John Hood brought a new level of depravity to public policy, and I did my best to keep track of it all. Under the weight of Pope's funding, however the Machine wore me down. His mercenary army of "report writers" and "analysts" did in North Carolina what Blackwater and Halliburton did in Iraq. Destroy and plunder.

These days, I don't even pay attention to Hood and his minions, but I'm glad to see that others are. Today, for example, Thomas Mills responds Hood's regurgitated, free-market happy talk about North Carolina exceptionalism. It's a brilliant piece, well worth your time.

Tillis says abortion and contraception debate is 'just silly.'

In his post-debate interview with Politico, Thom Tillis proved once again that he just doesn't get it. "It's just silly," he said, referring to the firestorm about his condescending arrogance toward women.

That's because Tillis thinks this is about him saying "Kay" instead of "Senator Hagan" during the debate. He thinks the furor over his performance is about style instead of substance. He thinks the Republican War on Women is a figment of liberals having overwrought imaginations. Move along. There's nothing to see here.

Except there is something to see here: Tillis' infamous Motorcycle Vagina Law.

Daily Dose: Tillis-dismisses-his-mansplaining edition

Tillis dismisses 'mansplaining' charges (Politico) -- Thom Tillis, the Republican running for a North Carolina Senate seat that could well decide the majority in the Senate, has been pilloried since last week’s debate by Democrats who see him as a condescending “man-splainer” who played into gender stereotypes. But in his first comments on the controversy, the Republican state House speaker was unrepentant in a sit-down interview on the campaign trail, chalking up the firestorm to Democrats playing gender politics to boost Sen. Kay Hagan.“It’s just silly,” he said during a lunch stop this weekend with supporters over barbecue, fried oysters and chicken livers. “We’re talking about the future of the greatest nation on the earth, and this is what we’re going to?”

Quality education encourages economic development

The best thing the government of our state could do to encourage 'economic development' and job growth is to invest in public education. North Carolina was ready to offer Toyota up to $107,000,000 to locate in Charlotte. That is a whole lot of salaries for experienced teachers.

However, public education is a key factor in the long-term health of our state’s economy. Obviously, it’s not the only ingredient, but public schools, higher education, infrastructure and sound environmental policies are all part of creating suitable conditions for businesses to operate and expand. Unfortunately, we’re not doing to well on many of these ingredients either...

What role does the education system play versus monetary incentives to encourage business to locate in NC?

Tobacco and NC's child labor problem

What I did on my Summer vacation:

On many mornings, as tobacco plants tower around her, Saray Cambray Alvarez pulls a black plastic garbage bag over her 13-year-old body to protect her skin from leaves dripping with nicotine-tinged dew.

When Saray and other workers — including several more teenagers — get to the fields at 6, they punch holes through the bags for their arms. They are trying to avoid what is known as “green tobacco sickness,” or nicotine poisoning, which can cause vomiting, dizziness and irregular heart rates, among other symptoms.

I was 13 when my family moved to North Carolina. While some kids I knew mowed lawns to make money, my dad had long-term plans for his fancy new lawnmower, and they didn't include me cutting other peoples' grass. So I hit the tobacco fields at oh-dark-thirty in the morning, just like Saray, and I can tell you that everything in this article is accurate, including this:

Daily dose: McCollum edition

No GOP apologies for nasty McCollum ad (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Unfortunately, politics requires no shame. Or decency. Or apologies. So I suspect no apology will be forthcoming from the N.C. Republican Party to Henry Lee McCollum or former state Sen. John Snow. The party paid for and mailed a particularly nasty flier during the 2010 election that featured a threatening photo of McCollum, who is black and was serving a life sentence at the time for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. The flier, which also featured a white convict labeled “child killer,” said Snow, a former judge and prosecutor — and death penalty advocate — wanted them to get another chance. “These men committed unspeakable crimes,” the mailer stated, “but when they were on death row, liberal John Snow tried to give them a second chance.” Well, not exactly. Snow did vote in favor of the Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that allowed murderers and other criminals to appeal to have death sentences converted to life sentences if racial bias during the trial could be proved. The Republican-controlled legislature overturned the act last year.

Tillis counting on 'informed electorate' (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- An informed electorate will deliver a second Republican to the U.S. Senate in November, the Republican candidate told an audience of supporters in Greenville on Saturday. N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis made the remark during an hourlong stop at the Pitt County Republican Party headquarters in Greenville to campaign against first-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. “When people know the choices between the two candidates and understand the consequences of allowing Kay Hagan to rubberstamp Barack Obama for another two years, they want a change to people who will be decisive and get things done,” Tillis said.

Details on the militarization of NC's police kept secret

Apparently the public doesn't have a need to know:

"Providing that information would be providing a lot of information to people who would use it to the detriment of our law enforcement professionals and potentially the public," Walker said in an email. "Simply put, it would be like providing criminals a blueprint on how to harm law enforcement or get around their security tactics when trying to prevent crime and/or a serious event."

Walker did not respond to follow-up questions on how details of the voluntary federal program would qualify as "drawings of public buildings," "specific tactics" or "specific security or emergency procedures" defined in the law. Mike Tadych, a Raleigh attorney who represents media organizations including WRAL News, said he doesn't see how the security exemption would apply in this case.

Just another case of a government official trying to skirt the public records law with vague references to security concerns. Aside from the Highway Patrol and SBI, local law enforcement is funded by local taxpayers. And they have the right to know how well-equipped these local LEOs are, and if they're in possession of grenade launchers and heavy machine guns like the NATO 7.62 types. Go to the bottom of the article to see what your county has been given.


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