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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.

Laura Fjeld takes it to Junior Berger

Received via email

“It must be a frustrating time for Phil. He expected his father’s name to carry the day for him, but he finds himself in a tough fight just for the nomination. He’s learning that North Carolinians are sick and tired of status quo politicians like him. Phil represents everything that’s wrong with Washington DC. He’s a special interest - loving, lobbyist courting, big corporate money puppet. It’s no wonder his campaign isn’t doing well,” Fjeld said.

“I was as outraged by the healthcare roll-out as anyone, but Phil’s knee jerk response is to kick millions off their coverage, bring back pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps, and premium discrimination. He wants to put the insurance companies back in charge. I’d rather fix what’s not working,” Fjeld added.

Do-nothing Burr inadvertently exposes danger of not expanding Medicaid

Getting his rhetorical wires crossed:

"Today our biggest challenge is to keep delivery points in place," said Burr, noting that four community hospitals in Georgia had closed and rural N.C. hospitals in Pungo and Wilson were facing operating deficits. While lamenting the challenges hospitals face, he also re-emphasized his support for the state's decision to not expand eligibility for Medicaid, the government program designed to pay for care for the poor and disabled.

Several legislators challenged him on the seemingly discordant stances, given that North Carolina's hospitals had lobbied for the expansion as a vehicle for new revenue to offset the cuts in reimbursements under the Affordable Care Act.

The bottom line is, Republicans knew well ahead of time that not expanding Medicaid would cause huge problems for patients and providers, problems they counted on to derail the Affordable Care Act. And as far as Burr pointing to problems in Georgia:

Coal Ash Wednesday: $10 billion in bad management from Duke Energy

And they'll be reaching into your wallet to fix their mistakes:

The largest U.S. utility owner told a North Carolina legislative commission that if it were required to excavate and relocate all its ash in the state and convert to an all-dry handling system, costs would reach $7 billion to $10 billion and take as long as three decades.

“The costs of cleaning up the waste from fuel from coal should be a ratepayer cost and not a shareholder cost,” said Kit Konolige, an analyst with BGC Partners LP in New York. “The traditional regulatory compact, the cost of fuel and cost of cleanup of fuel, should be passed through ratepayers. It really shouldn’t come out of shareholders pockets except to the extent that the company has done something wrong.”

The company has done something wrong, or the toxic mess wouldn't be leaking out of every coal ash pond in the state. Regardless of the Federal/State laws governing coal ash disposal, both the ratepayers and the shareholders have a certain expectation that Duke will stay on top of the science and take steps to avoid contaminating the ground and surface waters. That expectation was not remotely met, so the cost of cleanup needs to be borne by those who directly profited from Duke Energy's mismanagement, the owners. They "shared" in the profits, now they need to "share" in the cleanup.

Freakshow

The Republican US Senate debate last night should have been required viewing for all North Carolinians. With the possible exception of Heather Grant, bless her heart, who actually seemed to be thinking for herself once in a while, the debate was an orgy of hate.

In one corner stood Greg Brannon, an unapologetic con-man of the Rand Paul persuasion, whose well-publicized affair with Glenn Beck shows just how extreme he really is.

In another corner stood Thom Tillis, the self-described architect of North Carolina's "conservative revolution."

Meanwhile, Mark Harris, who was chosen by god to run in this race, watched from the sidelines with Heather Grant, both continuously out-flanked by two of the most arrogant and hateful men you can imagine.

For Tillis, the answer to every question was the same. "It's really very simple," he said on many occasions. "All you have to do is rid of Obamacare, cut taxes on the rich, put more brown people in jail, keep all those women and their vaginas under control. It's really very simple."

For Brannon, everything was constitutional. Article whatever section three. The British are coming. Put on your tinfoil hats.

I hope you'll take time to look at the debate for yourself. Perhaps you'll reach the same conclusion the Greensboro News-Record reached.

The hour-long debate, held at Davidson College and televised by Time Warner Cable, showed the candidates share similar stances. They oppose abortion, the Affordable Care Act, Common Core education standards, government overreach and amnesty for undocumented immigrants. They believe some federal departments — from Education and Energy to the Internal Revenue Service — could be abolished. They don’t believe that climate change is real.

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Republican US Senate debate: Pass the popcorn!

Join us later for play-by-play coverage of the Great Republican Senate Seat Auction, happening tonight here in North Carolina. For those who are TV impaired, you can live-stream the fun at the Charlotte Observer. The N&O has some tips on what to watch for, but you can save yourself a lot of reading and watch for one big thing: lies, lies, and more lies.

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Open thread

Your tax dollars hard at work in a charter school that recruits out-of-state basketball players to build a sports franchise. Sickening.

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Tuesday Twitter roundup

We'll begin with some election year hyperbole:

A trend that was brought about by the devastating deregulation of the financial industry by free-market nut-jobs like yourself. By the way, Kay's last name only has five letters and "e" isn't one of them. It ain't hard to keep up with.

McCrory gets most campaign money of any sitting governor from Duke Energy

The News and Observer highlights a new report out from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

From 2000-2012, McCrory got $16,000 from Duke Energy's political action committee and $82,000 from it's executives - a total of $98,000. The next closest on the list, Indiana's Mike Pence, received $13,000. Duke Energy gave a total of $128,000 to just six sitting governors. (Sam Brownback in Kansas only received $500.)

The full report is here.

Now, what would really be interesting is to look at the number of former Duke employees working in different state governments. How do you think the McCrory administration compares on that count?

Duke Energy coal ash? You're soaking in it, Pat.

NAACP and Working Films bring Moral Movies series to NC

The NAACP and Wilmington's Working Films are bringing a series of documentaries to Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh and Wilmington dealing with issues that have come to the forefront since the Pope TeaBagger takeover of the state's government.

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