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Public hearings scheduled for AQUA NC's massive rate increase

Be there or be square, and bring your own bottled water:

A public hearing will be held by the N.C. Utilities Commission on the proposed rate increase at 7 p.m. in the Forsyth County Courthouse, 200 N. Main St., courtroom 1A. Another one will be held Tuesday in Charlotte at 7 p.m., in the Mecklenburg County courthouse, 832 East Fourth St.

Aqua, which provides water and wastewater services to about 250,000 people in 52 counties, requested the rate increase in August to help recover past investments in capital improvements and operating expenses. The company has about 13,000 customers in Forsyth, Guilford, Surry and Stokes counties.

We'll try to follow up once a transcript of this meeting is posted (if it gets posted) on the NCUC website. Until then, if you happen to attend one of these meetings, we'd love some feedback.

Boss Pope back in the New York Times

The man behind the curtain is exposed, again:

Outside, protesters were in a far less festive mood. They accused the owner of the discount chain, Art Pope, the state budget director, of bankrolling conservative candidates and supporting policies that hurt the store’s poor and minority shoppers.

“It may appear he’s contributing to the community because he has a business,” the Rev. Kojo Nantambu, the local N.A.A.C.P. president, said on Wednesday. “But those are only vehicles to be used to destroy the community.”

And Pope's explanation for why he targets poor neighborhoods does not hold water:

BlueNC update: the use of tags in blog posts

BlueNC is a member-driven website, and we encourage all of you to exercise your voice here. One of the features available when composing a diary are tags, which interact with Google (and other) search engines, potentially drawing many more readers to your posts. But having too many tags can clog up a system, so we've instituted some changes to help regulate this function. I'm going to turn the rest of this diary over to one of the technicians that keep us running smoothly:

How tagging your blog post on Blue NC works

Before we get into how the tagging system works, I would like to say a big Thank You to all those who actively participate on this site. Your continuous contributions are what make this such a great community!

Now for the tagging. As you all know tagging is a great way to organize and find content on particular topics. However, because we all think a little differently, we sometimes use different but similar tags for the same topic and this makes the organizing and searching content much more difficult.

More below the fold:

CDC confirms drinking water contamination at Camp Lejeune

Closing another chapter in a decades-long struggle for families to get the help they need:

The CDC released a study last week that ties chemicals such as trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, 1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE) and vinyl chloride to childhood cancers such as leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, as well as serious neurological system birth defects. Among the conclusions of the study: Women who drank the contaminated water were four times as likely to give birth to a child with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida or anencephaly, as well as a "slightly elevated risk" of their children developing leukemia or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The horrific nature of this contamination has been compounded by the frustrating and possibly criminal denials and cover-ups, but hopefully that mindset won't be present as the victims seek treatment. They should not have to produce their own scientific evidence that whatever ails them can be directly linked to the tainted water. The fact that they drank the water and are now sick should be enough.

The privatization of Medicaid in NC moves forward

Shying away from treatment-based funding:

Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is moving to change the government insurance program for 1.7 million of the state’s elderly, disabled and poor residents to a system where providers are paid set rates for each person they treat. As it is now, the government pays fees for each medical treatment or service.

Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican and advisory committee member, said he was concerned about managed care insurance companies coming in to take over big parts of the Medicaid program. He asked whether insurance companies would be needed.

Adam Searing, director of the N.C. Health Access Coalition, has been critical of McCrory’s rap on Medicaid. Searing, whose organization advocates for low-income and working class people, was also critical of Atlas for not presenting what Searing said would have been a complete picture of managed care.

They don't want a complete picture. All they needed to see was "capped payments" and the love affair was off to a great start.

Teacher turnover rate in NC climbs to 14%

A number that will likely continue climbing once short-term contracts become the norm:

An annual report shows that more North Carolina teachers left their jobs in 2012-13 than in previous school years.

Out of the 95,028 teachers employed, 13,616 teachers left their districts, resulting in an overall state turnover rate of about 14 percent, or about one out of every seven teachers. That number is a slight increase from the previous year’s turnover rate of 12 percent and 11 percent in 2010-11.

While a healthy portion of those teachers moved to another district, that can be a red flag of other problems, such as low home ownership or a spouse being forced to take a job elsewhere. There are very few green flags associated with a high turnover rate.

Tillis, Moffitt on ALEC's Board of Directors

Take the time to read this recently acquired confidential document if you want to get a propaganda-free tutorial on the shenanigans of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

And while you're doing that, take the time to contemplate the implications of the Speaker of the NC House trying to sit in two chairs at once. It can't be done safely, and when they start to roll away from each other, which chair do you think he will choose?

When you've finished those tasks, take the time to explore this new website, which is a handy tool for tracking how the assortment of conservative "foundations" fund various pseudo-scientific bullshit-producing stink-tanks, including our very own John Locke Foundation. But keep a small trash can or other vomit receptacle handy, as you'll probably need it.

DAG McCrory's spin machine latches onto a new word

"Compacting" is no longer synonymous with "shortening":

After dismissing criticisms of a new voter-ID law – he described the policy as “common sense,” despite the fact that it undermines voting and solves a problem that doesn’t exist – the Republican governor bristled in response to a question about early voting.

“We didn’t shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar,” McCrory said. He added, “It’s just the schedule has changed.”

Spoken like a true double-speaking bureaucrat. Once again, McCrory's PR team is trying to be clever, but they're just making their figurehead Governor seem even more of a lying sack of fertilizer.

Skip Stam charter school madness: throw the rulebook out the window

Because apparently children are safer and more productive in a no-rules environment:

Charter schools are public schools. They do not charge tuition. They are completely funded by the government. They cannot teach religious doctrine. But they have huge advantages over traditional public schools. They are freed from most, but not all, state-imposed rules that strangle the creativity of schools and teachers.

It would take this entire page to list all the stifling rules charters do not have to follow.

Okay, maybe you can list ten of those "stifling" rules, so parents can get an idea of what not to expect from the school they send their children to. Five? One? Or maybe you don't want to go into detail, because you know most of those creativity-strangling rules were put in place to protect children from idiotic nonsensical demagogues like yourself.

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