Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 11:07am

Draining and clear-cutting our precious wetlands:

The Corps and EPA officials will likely visit the forest before deciding whether wetlands were illegally ditched, Sugg said. He had told Coastal Review Online in early February and other media since then that some wetland rules appear to have been violated in the Hofmann.

The Corps’ investigation began early this year after the N.C. Coastal Federation asked for information about ditching activities in the forest. The request was triggered by an “investors’ prospectus” that surfaced late last year after N.C. State shocked many by announcing the pending sale. The document raised numerous questions about what the new owners would do with the land; it outlines commercial and residential development on thousands of acres, calling into question assurances from the prospective new owner that it would maintain most of the forest for research and timber management and sales, and not convert it to agricultural, commercial and residential uses.

The prospectus noted that more than 5,500 acres in the Hofmann had been clear cut and could easily be converted to agriculture.

And what's becoming more and more obvious as time goes by is the State's premier agricultural institution (NC State) is managed by people who only give a passing nod to conservation of our natural resources:

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Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 10:36am

And the lack of concern is disheartening:

The latest bipartisan congressional effort to restore several months of federal unemployment insurance benefits received a cool reception Wednesday from a state legislative oversight committee. U.S. Senate Bill 2149 would provide five months of federal UI benefits, retroactive to Jan. 1, to more than 2 million eligible claimants nationwide. That would include more than 170,000 North Carolinians. States would not be required to pay back the 100 percent federally funded benefits.

Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, and Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, said they would not support North Carolina trying to become eligible for the retroactive benefits. Howard said much of her opposition is the “logistical nightmare” cited by Avrette. She also the North Carolina economy hasn’t “fallen off a cliff” since North Carolina became disqualified from receiving the federal extended benefits.

If you've quite finished your navel-gazing, maybe you should talk to some of those families who did fall off the cliff when their benefits were abruptly cut off. There's a hell of a lot more to this story than just paying off the debt early, and refusing this money that won't cost the state a dime except in administrative functions is unnecessarily cruel.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 9:53am

Photo from Scrutiny Hooligans

And enough lies might get the job done:

The complaint stems from a Feb. 24 meeting between Moffitt and Turner at an Asheville restaurant. Moffitt has said he merely suggested that Turner would make a good candidate to head UNC-TV because of his experience as a producer at MTV and more recent work as a vice chancellor at UNC Asheville. A national search for a new UNC-TV director is expected to begin later this year. "Rep. Moffitt did not give or promise Brian Turner any political appointment or support for public office," according to Moffitt's response.

In a sworn statement included in the response, Buncombe County Commissioner David King, who attended the meeting between the two candidates, also says Moffitt didn't give or promise Turner "any political appointment, support for political office, or for any job in the government or with UNC-TV." King, a Republican, also says in his statement that he called Turner in early March to ask why he was making false claims against Moffitt, and Turner responded, "It is good for my campaign."

Riiight. In one breath, you call Turner a liar, and in the next breath, you claim he told you something outrageous, something that can't be verified or disproved. It's a liar's wonderland. Lesson learned: if you're a Democrat, don't meet with two Republicans without wearing a wire.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 12:17pm

No, this is not an April Fools joke:

A conservative seniors group with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers on Monday announced $1.5 million in ads against seven members of the Senate Banking Committee in the hopes of derailing a proposal that would effectively scrap mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

"First it was Obamacare. Millions of Americans saw their health plans canceled," says one ad running against Sen. Kay Hagan, the North Carolina Democrat facing a tough re-election bid. "Now, Kay Hagan is teaming up with Barack Obama to take over the mortgage industry," the ad continues, trying to build voters' frustration with the national health care law.

And before you say it, you're right: this has nothing to do with "saving" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and everything to do with compounding the Koch Brothers' attacks on Kay Hagan and other Senators. In reality, the right-wing opposition to this bill is based on the idea that Fannie and Freddie should be destroyed completely and not replaced by something else:

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 10:20am

We'll start out with a healthy dose of election year madness:

Can I just go ahead and throw up right now? Thank you. Speaking of throwing up:

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Monday, March 31, 2014 - 3:36pm

Setting the wrong example:

Mr. Rumpler of Environment America says he worries cash-strapped states would feel compelled to "weaken their standards and endanger public health and the environment in a bid to get more business coming into their state." State legislation could also be particularly subject to changes in administrations.

The Duke Energy spill, for one, has focused media attention on North Carolina's Republican governor, Pat McCrory, a former Duke Energy employee. He appointed businessman John Skvarla to head the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Secretary Skvarla views industry leaders such as Duke Energy as "customers," according to several former DENR officials who say they quit because they were kept from doing their jobs.

The sad part is, people like John Skvarla actually believe they're serving the best interests of the public by giving industry a free hand. It's not just a minor character flaw for the person in charge of DENR, it's a major one, which is why the US DOJ and the EPA are being drawn into NC's politics. And why the rest of the nation is looking on in disbelief.

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Monday, March 31, 2014 - 12:08pm

Apparently the truth won't set you free:

Attorneys in a trio of lawsuits challenging North Carolina’s voter identification law say that as of the middle of last week, the State Board of Elections had not turned over a single electronic document, despite a plan agreed to by both sides earlier this month to produce that material.

In a motion filed last week, lawyers who object to the voting law say the other side is stalling. Defense attorneys contend that the plaintiffs are to blame for any delay by asking for copious amounts of documents, including some that pertain to a portion of the law that doesn’t take effect until 2016.

Not sure what is worse, failing to turn over documents or waiting until 5 p.m. on a Friday and then crashing your system, which is what DENR did last week.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014 - 10:45am

Unfortunately, voters can't always read between the lines:

Those who became disenchanted with Cannon worked behind the scenes last year to keep him from becoming mayor. Former Democratic Mayor Harvey Gantt took the unusual step of endorsing James “Smuggie” Mitchell in the primary.

But even some African-American politicians, who could have helped as allies and mentors, stayed clear of Cannon. Anthony Foxx, the former mayor, now U.S. transportation secretary, felt Cannon couldn’t be trusted, according to people close to Foxx. City Council member David Howard said that “out of a sense of caution” he kept his distance. “I always tried to put community first,” Howard said, “and I’m not sure I always felt that’s what he was doing.”

So neither Gantt nor Foxx endorsed Cannon, which should have raised some eyebrows in Charlotte's African-American community. And it very well may have. But as we've seen countless times in the past in North Carolina politics (both parties), ethical problems are only "real" problems when they blow up in your face.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 - 11:48am

But she was offered a sandwich as a consolation prize:

Of course, when a U.S. senator comes to town, you want to hear from him. And since Burr’s office had sent out his schedule in a “media advisory,” we at the Post figured that wouldn’t be a problem. We were wrong.

When a Post reporter arrived just before the luncheon was about to start, she was met by Robert Van Geons, director of RowanWorks, the local EDC. “Who invited you?” Van Geons asked the reporter. Her editor, she replied.

Van Geons informed the reporter this was a private event and she couldn’t come in, a decision he apparently confirmed with Burr’s people. She was, however, welcome to take some photos beforehand and have a sandwich before leaving. No thanks, the reporter said.

I'm sure Burr's office will try to spin this as simply a "misunderstanding" by a young staffer, just as I'm sure everybody will forget when the Teflon Senator comes up for re-election. But this kind of exclusivity and dodging public scrutiny is sickening.

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Friday, March 28, 2014 - 10:40am

It's getting hard to keep up with them:

Our America, a Super PAC based in North Carolina, has announced that it has purchased a number of billboards that will highlight Senator Kay Hagan's continued refusals to back up her promises with regard to Obamacare. "On more than 20 occasions, Senator Hagan has stated that she will protect the rights of citizens to keep their health plan and to see the doctors of their choice", said Allison Milbridge, spokesperson for Our America.

Our America is working in several different states with a goal of returning Republican majority to the Senate. The group is preparing to release this commercial (http://www.ouramericaaction.com) in Minnesota targeting Senator Al Franken, the actual deciding vote in the passage of Obamacare.

Maybe you can find something more on Allison Milbridge, but I couldn't. And it looks like this is another case where the "Headquarters" is actually a UPS Store. Which should be a serious red flag for the NC BOE, but apparently not.

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