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Diaz doesn't know where his raise is coming from

Either that or he isn't saying:

DHHS communications director Ricky Diaz cited a section of the state budget bill that said “state agencies, departments and institutions shall have salary administration flexibility for licensed physicians, dentists, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists and other allied health professionals, and may exercise the flexibility within existing resources.”

However, Diaz declined to say where the money is coming from, how much is being dedicated to pay raises, which employees are being made eligible for the pay increases, the total amount of existing resources, which options are being considered to free up the resources and whether job cuts are part of the financing solution. He said the department is reviewing options and would provide that information when final decisions have been made.

The likely answer is, Diaz' $85,000 salary will result in the laying off of 2.5 people elsewhere in the Department, and he won't be the one who has to "communicate" that bad news to the soon-to-be jobless employees.

Durham abortion clinic permanently closed

The GOP's war on women takes another casualty:

The Department of Health and Human Services found health code violations this summer at two North Carolina clinics that provide abortions. Now, one of them has closed for good, while the other has re-opened.

Durham’s Baker Clinic for Women has voluntarily surrendered its license after being shuttered by the DHHS in July for a quality control on blood banking.

This may be the first to permanently close, but it probably won't be the last.

Coastal Resources Commission in limbo

And then there were four:

But in order to call an emergency meeting, state officials first had to consider whether the commission could take action, given that it is operating with only a fraction of its membership. Provisions in the state budget passed by the Republican-controlled legislature ended the terms of all but four of the 15 CRC members and reduced the board to 13. The budget bill also eliminated seats designated for representatives of conservation groups and local governments.

Miller said he expects the move to face legal questions of its own. “It was never the intent of the law for four people to decide such a critical coastal management decision,” Miller said. “If the CRC votes to appeal this case, I’m sure its decision will be challenged on whether or not it was made with a legal quorum.”

Which probably won't bother Republicans in the slightest.

NC's voter suppression law likely challenged by US DOJ

And if it works in Texas, there's a good chance it will work here:

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday against a Texas voter identification law seems certain to be followed by a similar suit against one in North Carolina. Other states, too, could face federal legal challenges over their actions in the wake of the high court’s decision. In the Justice Department’s 15-page lawsuit targeting the Texas voter ID law, signed by Houston-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel D. Hu, the department deployed arguments potentially applicable against other states, as well. The Texas law, Hu wrote, would “deny equal opportunities for Hispanic and African-American voters to participate in the political process, resulting in a denial of the right to vote.”

North Carolina's law seems to be very similar to Texas', which might just end up being its downfall. Republicans may be about to learn the hard way that imitating the behavior of other Republicans isn't as safe as they think it is. And once again, DAG McCrory opens his mouth and inserts foot:

NC leaders should be charged with criminal negligence for the way they're handling ACA

As he often does, Kirk Ross takes on the heavy lifting at Carolina Mercury, in an excellent series about the Affordable Care Act in North Carolina. It's an ugly picture.

As the federal government and states around the county gear up for the October 1 rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces, North Carolina is finalizing the shutdown of what would have been one of the most extensive outreach and assistance plans in the country.

The state’s Department of Insurance confirmed this week it is preparing to send Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius formal notification that the state is ending the programs and will no longer tap millions in federal grants it received earlier this year to pay for them.

Important black guy slams NC GOP voter suppression policies; important white guy couldn't care less

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was the keynote speaker at the CEO Forum in Raleigh, North Carolina, Wednesday evening. After introductory remarks, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory left the stage to listen to the retired general from the audience. Powell said:

"I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote," said Powell, a Republican, at the CEO Forum in Raleigh. It immediately turns off a voting block the Republican Party needs. These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away." [...]

"You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud," Powell said. "How can it be widespread and undetected?"

Powell, who served under President George W. Bush, also said the new sends the wrong message to minority voters. "What it really says to the minority voters is ... 'We really are sort-of punishing you,'" he said.

McCrory's response to being taken to the woodshed?

AG Roy Cooper slams Duke Energy over rate increases

Putting shareholders ahead of of ratepayers:

“People are already struggling to pay their bills and utilities want to raise rates yet again,” Cooper in a statement. “We’ll continue to fight these increases that fail to adequately take consumers into account.” He cited an analysis by Moody’s that shows that North Carolinians pay a higher percentage of their household disposable income for electricity than residents of all but six other states. He also questioned whether Duke shareholders should be entitled to a 10.2 return on investment on the backs of consumers, many of whom are still struggling in an uneven economy.

Considering the makeup of the new NCUC, this vocal opposition is critical in not only opposing rate increases, but also making sure the public is aware of the issue.

Salarygate spreading

From a BlueNC reader:

Regarding no qualifications and high salaries, there's someone else you should look into at the Department of Commerce.

Blannie Cheng Garrett was promoted to Deputy Secretary of Commerce at a salary of $110,000. In January 2013, she was appointed as the Governor's Deputy Director of Jobs and the Economy at a salary of $85,500.


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