Daily dose: In defense of renewables edition

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With renewables freeze in Senate's hands, industry ramps up opposition (Triangle Business Journal) -- The N.C. Senate will take up in the next few weeks legislation that would freeze the state's renewable-energy requirements at the current 6 percent level and limit the size of contracts that could be issued. But opponents of the measure are already lobbying to convince senate lawmakers that adopting the legislation would cost the state jobs and capital investment. “There’s a very good chance we would have to reduce the number of people we hire if this bill is passed,” says Nicholas Wiebelhaus , vice president of operations at Shelby-based Schletter Inc., which manufactures mounting brackets for solar panels.
http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2015/05/15/renewables-freeze-nc-senate-opposition.html

What the gun-nut lobby won't tell you

The deadly mistake of abolishing the permitting process:

If you want to know what happens when a state repeals a law requiring background checks for all handguns sales, you can look to the state of Missouri. For decades, Missouri required background checks for all handgun purchasers through a handgun purchase permit law. But lawmakers repealed the law in 2007 using the same logic and rhetoric repeated today in North Carolina.

Research that I led found that the repeal of background checks and permitting of handgun purchasers in Missouri were associated with an immediate spike in guns diverted to criminals and a 25 percent increase in firearm-involved homicides.

In the mind of a 2nd Amendment zealot however, those consequences mean absolutely nothing. Which is one of the biggest reasons why they shouldn't have a place at the public policy table. They can still vote like the rest of us, but wield influence over lawmakers? Oh, hell no. Their lack of concern for the overall safety of citizens disqualifies them as a "stakeholder" in the process.

Brush strokes of the Duke Energy whitewash

Wait, I could have sworn I saw a crime being committed here:

Today's decision by Judge Malcolm Howard officially closes this chapter in our company's history. We've used the Dan River incident as an opportunity to set a new, industry-leading standard for the management of coal ash. We are implementing innovative and sustainable closure solutions for all of our ash basins, building on the important steps we've taken over the past year to strengthen our operations. Our highest priority is to operate our system as safely as possible for the customers and communities we serve.

Smooth as Jiffy peanut butter.

Daily dose: McCrory's GEAR doesn't catch in House edition

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House GOP leaders snub McCrory's centerpiece reform effort (Raleigh News & Observer) – Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature reform program for promised government efficiency could be in trouble after a legislative committee approved a draft budget that doesn’t fund its essential personnel. McCrory, in his recommended spending plan for the next biennium, had requested seven new positions to “institutionalize” the work of the North Carolina Government Efficiency and Reform initiative, or NC GEAR. “The General Assembly decided we weren’t going to do that,” said Rep. George Cleveland, an Onslow County Republican, of the $872,000-a-year request.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article21...

Deception seals the fate of special needs charter school

The straw that broke the innovating camel's back:

The Department of Public Instruction hand-delivered a letter today to Dynamic Community Charter school officials stating its intention to revoke the school’s charter. Some of the concerns raised by the interviews include: •Instruction that was not designed specifically for the school population •Students put in or left in unsafe situations •Lack of health care plans for students •Teacher assistants serving in inappropriate capacities •Administration given “scripts” on how to interact with DPI staff “to divert attention from the true practices that were actually occurring;”

In addition, the letter states that “…the investigation revealed a number of instances in which leadership at the school has been untruthful in their dealing with the Department…”

I will forego my usual lecture about how obvious attempts at deception call into question everything you say, even if 90% of it is truthful, leaving you with no reasonable ground to stand on (I guess the lecture didn't want to be stifled). But the worst part of this situation has to do with the students themselves: Will they be better off (safer) without the school? Did the mismanagement rob them (even more than they've already been robbed) of a brighter future? Will this failure scare away others who might have dedicated special schools for these kids? Not much to be happy about in this story.

Daily dose: It's a family affair edition

Scathing audit accuses DHHS director of 'nepotism' (Triangle Business Journal) -- The former director of the state office that manages Medicaid claims payments abused her authority by employing friends and family members who were not qualified for their positions, gave unjustified pay raises and logged unjustified overtime, according to a state audit released Wednesday morning.
http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2015/05/13/scathing-audit-accuses-dhhs-director-of-nepotism...

GOP voter suppression tactics in action

See if you can spot the obvious injustice in the following:

Ernestine Perry planned to cast her ballot at a polling place across the street from her Durham home, where she had voted before.

But after elections officials said her precinct changed to another one miles away, she filled out a provisional ballot. That ballot wasn't tallied.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Muddying the causality water

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The "naturally-occurring" theory gets a boost:

Western North Carolina is in the middle of what geologists call the Blue Ridge ultramafic rock belt, which extends from the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia down into Georgia. Within this belt are high concentrations of serpentine and amphibolite rocks, which contain manganese and iron, the elements needed to oxidize chromium-3 — which is non-toxic — into hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen. While hexavalent chromium is most often produced by anthropogenic pollution, especially through the combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas, it is closely associated with rocks found in the Blue Ridge, according to the US Geological Survey.

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