Saturday, August 9, 2014 - 10:06am

Move along, there's nothing to see here:

Judge Schroeder, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, acknowledged that given the racism in North Carolina’s past, residents “have reason to be wary of changes in voting law.” But he cited various ways in which black voters would still have opportunities to get to the polls, even with the less generous ballot access the law affords.

On Friday night, Penda Hair of the Advancement Project, one of the lawyers for the state N.A.A.C.P., said that her team had not decided whether to appeal the ruling. But she said that they planned to challenge the provisions, as well as the voter ID provision, in a full trial scheduled for next July. “We are disappointed,” she said. “But we remain committed to prevailing on the trial on the merits.”

Apparently this judge (like many of his colleagues) works under the false assumption of a post-racial South, and sets an extremely high bar on challenges related to race. "Nobody's been lynched? Well, in that case, I see no racism involved in these activities." Yes, that's hyperbole, but the tendency to ignore all but the most blatant forms of racism is all too real in our society, and that includes judges. Excerpts from the Opinion:

Friday, August 8, 2014 - 10:13am

And they're spending some serious money doing it:

Eight billboards recently posted along key highways across the state display a loaded question to teachers in bold white letters: "Want a $450 raise?" The message is part of a new public campaign launched this week by conservative think tank, NC Civitas Institute, urging teachers to quit the North Carolina Association of Educators.

"They're not really an advocate for education. They're an advocate for people who pay dues to them," said Francis De Luca, NC Civitas President.

No shit, Sherlock. You just made the best argument for teachers continuing their membership: the NCAE's main concern is for the teachers, not for "better results in the classroom" or for pleasing the increasingly impossible-to-please parents. And the NCAE's success in motivating members to engage in Moral Monday protests is the main reason they're getting raises. If left up to people like you, teachers would have to survive a knife fight just to secure a 1 year contract making $9.00 per hour.

Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 9:48am

The invasion of the crumb snatchers:

When Gov. Pat McCrory speaks, it's frequently hard to discern whether he's being disingenuous for political reasons or truly believes what he says but is surprisingly uninformed of reality. Such is the case with the governor's latest foray into immigration. McCrory on Tuesday and again on Wednesday sounded the alarm about 1,200 unaccompanied immigrant children who have trickled into North Carolina. McCrory wants these kids' deportation hearings held, and quickly.

"We do not know where the over-1,100 children are right now and what the status of their legal guardians are and whether or not these children are protected, and that's what I care about --- the protection of these children," McCrory said at a press conference Wednesday. "We have to get them with guardians we know are safe themselves." On Tuesday, he had added that the state doesn't know if the children lack immunizations and pose health risks to North Carolinians.

Well, there won't be any Gubernatorial cookies baked for these kids. It's apparent this is just one more case where the DAG opened his mouth and started spewing rhetoric without doing his homework:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 10:13am

Going from wet to dry impoundment will have consequences:

But water pollution is not the only environmental threat from poorly regulated coal ash: A new report identifies serious health risks from airborne coal ash, which will be a growing problem for North Carolina and other states as they shift from wet to dry storage, as many environmentalists are urging.

Last week Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and Earthjustice released "Ash in Lungs: How Breathing Coal Ash Is Hazardous to Your Health." It finds that coal ash dust can be inhaled into the lungs, where the small particles cause inflammation and immunological reactions and increase the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes. The dust can get into the air from dry coal ash landfills and from uncovered trucks carrying coal ash, and it presents a hazard to workers handling coal ash as well as nearby residents.

As is often the case with toxic residue from industrial activity, there is no silver bullet to solve the problem. The particulates in coal ash vary greatly in size, and the smaller stuff can be carried on the wind quite some distance before some unlucky person (or animal) breathes it in:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 10:09am

More incomprehensible jibber-jabber from the DAG:

And when you're done, maybe you can get somebody to interpret the words that come out of your mouth.

Monday, August 4, 2014 - 6:27pm

Good riddance to bad rubbish:

Monday, August 4, 2014 - 10:57am

Taking the "assisted" out of assisted living:

The current budget will limit special assistance eligibility to people who earn below 100 percent of the federal poverty level ($11,670 for an individual annually, or $972 per month). Anyone looking to receive special assistance after Nov. 1 who earns more than that amount will no longer qualify.

“That could be extremely problematic,” said Jenny Gadd, the group home manager for Alberta Professional Services, which runs several group homes for people with mental health issues in the Triangle and Triad. “It’s hard to tell what the eligibility really is going to look like, but that could really affect people in group homes."

Once again, the people who would have been included in a Medicaid expansion are suffering unnecessarily at the hands of those navel-gazers who can afford premium care. Every legislator who supported this provision should have to take care of an Alzheimer's patient in their home for a couple of weeks, just to see what that entails. It's an eye-opener, believe me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014 - 10:19am

From ag-gag to ag-shield:

A provision in the N.C. Farm Act of 2014 passed by the legislature last week will shield complaints made against farming operations from public view, effectively exempting them from state open records laws. This is wrong. We appreciate farmers and the food they provide for us. But, especially as large farming operations edge out small family farms, environmental protections are needed. And the public has a right to know how those protections are faring.

Supporters of the provision say it will deter frivolous complaints. But Justin Quinlivan, an investigator with the Yadkin Riverkeeper, told the Journal that the provision would protect the agriculture industry from scrutiny, leave the public in the dark, and decrease citizen complaints about violations that may threaten public health and safety. He voiced another concern: The provision would give investigating agencies unfettered discretion on whether complaints even should be investigated.

I'd like to see some stats on just how many "frivolous" complaints are actually filed. If a farm is polluting, but not as much as the person filing the complaint thinks it is, that is not "frivolous." And numerous investigations have shown these big operations inevitably pollute to a certain degree, even the ones who make a genuine effort to scale it down.

Friday, August 1, 2014 - 10:17am

Maybe we'll see something after all the election campaign contributions have been pocketed:

The General Assembly will not pass a bill governing the clean up of 33 coal ash pits at 14 locations across North Carolina after House and Senate negotiators failed to reach a consensus late Thursday night and early Friday morning.

"Up until about eight hours ago, I thought we could reach an agreement," Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, said early Friday. "Then things took an odd turn ... and I'm just going to leave it at that."

As some environmental groups have put forward, it would be better to have no legislation (right now) than bad legislation. But considering coal ash was the first issue on the docket at the beginning of this session, they've definitely had time to work out the kinks. If the leadership wanted to, that is. And apparently they're having some difficulty keeping their troops in line: