Blogs

WRAL records review of NC FAST snafus

A WRAL News review of thousands of pages of emails and other public records shows that for more than a month starting July 15, counties across the state struggled with a buggy, sluggish system that frequently froze up and prevented workers from keying in cases. By the time the NC FAST team identified the problem as a simple browser compatibility issue in late August, almost 70,000 food stamp customers statewide – many of them families with children – were waiting on overdue benefits, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That's 8.5 percent of the number of clients the state currently serves every month.

Seven months, no public records

Back in September -- 7 months ago -- the Raleigh News & Observer made a public records request of Queen Aldona's realm. They asked for emails of Carol Steckel (you remember Carol, she was hired as the savior of NC's Medicaid program and lasted 8 months under Queen Aldona before she abruptly resigned).

It’s been 205 days since The News & Observer requested emails of former state Medicaid director Carol Steckel.

What could possibly take so long?

Haywood County GOP crisis deepens

The rift between "establishment Republicans" and tea party activists continues to widen in Haywood County. See the report from the Smoky Mountain News April 9 edition.

Moogfest uninvites Pat

Although Moogfest organizers appear to be trying to be as vague and polite as possible, Deputy Assistant Guvnor Pat's office says that Pat was uninvited to the annual music, technology and innovation festival.

McCrory Communications Director Josh Ellis said in a statement Friday evening that, "It was at the request of Moogfest organizers that we changed our plans to attend this event."

Gee, who wouldn't want the state's governor at their festival?

Shortly after his attendance was announced, local residents organized a protest for during his visit.

Oh. Politics.

Most anyone can run for the US Senate

One of the great things about this country is that most anyone can run for US Senate. All the Constitution requires is:

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

On the flip side, one of the somewhat sad things about this country is that most anyone can run for US Senate.

Even a bigoted science denier.

Over the next few months, [US Senate GOP candidate Mark] Harris helped lead the fight for the controversial [anti-gay] amendment [one], raising money and speaking around the state.

Greasing the skids for fracking

North Carolina continues its headlong pursuit of fracking, accelerating the development of the rules that the NCGA requires to be in place before drilling starts.

The state commission that’s creating safety standards for fracking raced through 48 rules Wednesday under a legislative deadline to prepare North Carolina for shale gas exploration by next spring.

The Energy & Mining commission, charged with developing the rules, is stacked with industry pro-fracking members and it's pretty clear that the intent is just to get some rules in place that the industry will accept so that we can get on with poisoning the environment.

Their most recent meeting made that abundantly clear:

Ken Spaulding

Last fall I heard Ken Spaulding speak for the first time. As candidates for governor, we had both been invited to a meeting of the Chatham County Democratic Party.

When Ken took the podium, he talked personally and extemporaneously about the challenges facing North Carolina under the Republican reign of terror. He cited a litany of familiar insults to our state and our constitution, and called for those in attendance to wake up and step up. He promised he would not stand by while other candidates were "anointed and appointed" to represent the Democratic party. This veiled reference to Attorney General Cooper is one of the things that caught my interest and attention.

Fast forward to today and you'll see that Ken Spaulding has definitely not been standing by. Not only is he challenging the establishment with an aggressive grassroots campaign, he is also challenging the inevitability of Roy Cooper's nomination.

AG Cooper still fighting Duke Energy rate hike

The NC Supreme Court is not as supreme as it thinks:

A year ago, the state Supreme Court struck down a rate increase that the state Utilities Commission awarded to Duke Energy Corp. and ordered the panel to reconsider the increase in light of its impact on consumers. Now, Cooper is appealing the same increase to the high court, arguing that the Utilities Commission ignored the ruling.

“The court has already ruled once that consumers must be taken into account when setting utility profits but it still hasn’t happened,” Cooper said in a statement. “Even when given a second chance to get it right, the commission didn’t really consider consumers and approved the exact same rate hike.”

And as long as we allow this flawed formula to continue, where a rule-making commission is tasked with being concerned about profits for wealthy shareholders, many of whom do not even live in North Carolina, the unfairness will be ever-present. Any other private industry would need to dip into profits or borrow to make infrastructure improvements, which would force them to calculate the true need and ROI for such, and Duke Energy should be no different.

The Coal Ash Governor

For those who had requested it, it turns out that BackwardNC has located an interesting parody song that describes Deputy Assistant Guvnor Pat's "rise" to the undisputed title of "Coal Ash Governor", equivalently known as "The King of Coal Ash".

Pat is a very clueless person. But we knew that when we didn't vote for him. We sympathize with the ones whom Pat fooled.

Did Frazier Glenn Miller commit a 1987 NC gay triple murder?

Raw Story has a heart-wrenching piece about the ties of Frazier Glenn Miller, the white supremacist who shot and killed three people at a Kansas City community center, to a highly publicized 1987 triple murder in Shelby, North Carolina. (Kudos to Matt Comer, editor of NC's Q-Notes, who co-authored the story.)

The brutal murders created quite a sensation at the time and was one of several crimes against gays in the South in the 70s and 80s - fires at gay nightclubs and murders and disappearances of gay men - that made being out much more dangerous than it is today.

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