And so it begins: candidate filing period starts today

Time to step up to the plate:

The State Board of Elections and county elections offices begin accepting candidate forms at noon Monday. The filing deadline is Feb. 28.

Voters this year will decide whether to re-elect U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan or one of her rivals. They'll choose members of the U.S. House delegation, all 170 members of the General Assembly and dozens of judgeships. There will also be scores of county commissioner and school board elections.

The primary is May 6, with runoffs July 15 if needed. The general election is Nov. 4.

If you are planning to run, go ahead and file now. It will narrow down the list of races in which a candidate may need to be found, and it will help potential donors decide where best to dedicate their resources.

Election year politics: GOP desperately tries to repair image with teachers

Not unlike an abusive husband bringing home a dozen roses:

Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican leaders will propose Monday a higher minimum salary for North Carolina's least experienced public school teachers as part of a long-awaited proposal designed to improve morale and retention.

The plan, detailed in a document obtained by The Associated Press, would in part ensure all public school teachers make a base salary of at least $33,000 during the 2014-15 school year and at least $35,000 the following year.

Another attempt to divide teachers, by giving entry-level educators a raise while the more experienced ones lose tenure and have to sign short-term contracts. This is not leadership, it's divide and conquer politics. And considering these new teachers will be drawing a bigger paycheck for a few months running up to the election, it might just work.

Teacher pay plan leaked

Deputy Assistant Governor Pat will take the stage at 10:30 to offer a bold new plan for teacher pay. Here's are the details of his presentation.

  • We cut the education budget by $285 million last year.
  • The blow back was terrible and embarrassing.
  • We concocted a band-aid solution that creates the illusion of responsiveness.
  • Our new plan will raise pay a token amount for 24,000 new teachers.
  • At the same time, we will ignore the needs of 71,000 experienced teachers.
  • NC voters are stupid enough to fall for this half-assed scheme.
  • Thank you.

Walden: NC should rebrand itself as the Innovative State has renewed its credentials as a member in good standing of the Puppetshow after trotting out Dr. Mike Walden to endorse Pat McCrory's economic agenda. For those unfamiliar with Walden, he's part of the Art Pope School of Agricultural Economics at NCSU, a reliable echo chamber for free-market fantasies, trickle down theories, and privatization schemes of every shape and size.

Even better, Walden has also jumped into the branding business, advising the Deputy Assistant Governor on how to position the state to compete. According to Waldon, North Carolina should brand itself as "the innovative state."

Sounds good, except for one minor detail. To be effective, branding has to have at least an element of truth. Then again, maybe Walden is right. Just look at all the innovations North Carolina is adopting:

  • We're testing the most extreme voter suppression policies in the nation to see if we can legally rig state elections.
  • With bottom-of-the-barrel teacher pay, we're looking to see just how far we can go in crushing public education.
  • In an innovative partnership with Duke Energy, we're exploring the joys of arsenic poisoning in our rivers.
  • We've cut taxes on the top 10% and raised them on everyone else, an innovative breakthrough in income redistribution.

Got more innovations? Bring 'em on. We're the Innovative State, ya'll. Yeeee-hah!

Arsenic poisoning

DENR shielded Duke's coal ash pollution

Over the last year, environmental groups have tried three times to use the federal Clean Water Act to force Duke Energy to clear out leaky coal ash dumps like the one that ruptured last week, spewing enough toxic sludge into a North Carolina river to fill 73 Olympic-sized pools. Each time, they say, their efforts have been stymied by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The state agency has blocked the citizen lawsuits by intervening at the last minute to assert its own authority under the federal act to take enforcement action. After negotiating with Duke, the state proposed settlements where the nation's largest electricity provider pays modest fines but is under no requirement to actually clean up its coal ash ponds.

The LA Times covers the story

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it had incorrectly reported that results of water samples taken Feb. 3 were within state standards for arsenic, a toxic heavy metal. In fact, the agency said, two samples exceeded the standard of 10 micrograms per liter. “We made an honest mistake while interpreting the results,’’ Tom Reeder, director of the agency’s Division of Water Resources, said in a statement Sunday afternoon.

No worries Tom. Just smile and be happy.

Just Give the Poor Kids PB&J

For about a year now, Lee County has had a board of commissioners that is controlled by Republicans by a 4-3 margin. These four vote in lock-step almost always, and when they do, it is always bad for the people. As part of that attempt to ruin Lee County, the commissioners have set their eyes on the local school board. In a recent joint meeting, one commissioner found the real problem with the schools--the poor kids.

Republican Commissioner Kirk Smith wondered aloud why the schools didn't just feed low-income students peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to save money. And, as noted in this post at The Rant, that's about two-thirds of students in Lee County.

WRAL: Dem Exec. Director fired

ALERT: Robert Dempsey, executive director of NC Democratic Party, fired #breaking

By Kelly Gardner

RALEIGH, N.C. — After less than a year as executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Robert Dempsey has been fired, multiple sources tell WRAL News.

According to those sources – some of whom talked to Dempsey – Dempsey said he was told Sunday that he's been let go.

Dempsey was installed as the party's executive director in May...

Doug Clark praises 1% corporate GOP fascist plan by candidate for Chief Justice of NC Supreme Court

Looks like Doug is the Waterboy for Art Pope and GOP again in State Wide Judical Races...

"Judge Martian Bought lock stock and Barrel by 1% Corporate America"

McCrory and Skvarla: Laughable leadership

This has been posted before, but just in case you haven't seen it yet, please find time to watch, especially if you consider yourself a leadership aficionado. I suppose a chief executive could give a talk more absurd than this, but it would be hard.

If you want to cut to Mr. Skvarla's special insights, jump ahead to the 10:30 mark, located here.


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