scharrison's blog

ZSR's Mo Green takes the pulse of North Carolina communities

And finds there is a lot of work to be done:

As the new executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation – an 80-year-old family foundation committed to improving the quality of life in North Carolina – Green set out in May 2016 on a statewide tour dubbed “Mo wants to know.” Seeking to learn where the state is hurting, where it’s doing well and what it needs to ease its pains and enhance its strengths, he spoke with hundreds of people, from one-on-one sessions with community leaders to community forums to private talks with people who poured out their stories of loss and hope. In all, he visited 19 counties from the coast to the mountains.

“We were trying to figure out what was going on in the state and how we could be responsive to that,” he said.

I'm pleased by this, but not surprised. ZSR has done great work over the years supporting research and organizations that help people, and now (more than ever) that help is needed. But the only way to solve some of these problems is in the ballot box:

Magistrate ignores 2013 court finding with ban on Reverend Barber

Refusing to acknowledge dictates from judges is becoming a habit with Republicans:

The ban also applies to 31 other protesters arrested that day during a health-care sit-in after they refused to clear the hallways outside legislative leaders’ office. The ban was a condition of the protesters’ release from jail, set by Wake County magistrate Jeffrey L. Godwin as he charged them with second-degree trespassing. General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock said Friday that his agency didn’t ask the magistrate to set those conditions, but he said he plans to make the request for future arrests of protesters.

Geeta Kapur, an attorney for Barber and the NAACP, says the ban is unconstitutional. She points to the provision in the state constitution that says “the people have a right to assemble together ... to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances.” She pointed to a 2013 decision by a judge to throw out a similar ban on arrested protesters. Since then, most arrests at “Moral Monday” protest events have not included a ban on entering the Legislative Building as a condition of release.

The GOP is notorious for resurrecting bad ideas and questionable legal practices every few years or so, just to see if they will stick, and this ban is no different. And if another judge throws it out, they'll do it again next year or the year after. Precedent? We don't need no stinking precedent, we make this shit up as we go.

Trudy Wade's "garbage juice" bill just more pay-to-play politics

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The Queen of Trash strikes again:

A measure on its way to the governor's desk would allow landfills to collect the contaminated liquid that leaks from the trash and shoot it up into the air over the dump, using giant blowers called aerosolizers. The process would save waste companies money by reducing the amount of contaminated wastewater they have to pay to treat.

House Bill 576 would require the state Department of Environmental Quality to approve permits for the process, which Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford, insisted Thursday is safe, though Democrats said they never received studies or data they had requested as evidence of that. The inventor of the aerosolizer technology, patent holder Kelly Houston of Cornelius, contributed $5,000 to Wade's campaign in June 2016, according to state campaign finance records.

And that $5,000 is all the evidence Trudy Wade needs. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with some Guilford County voters? When Wade is not trying to gerrymander the hell out of Greensboro, she's trying to contaminate the entire countryside with nasty landfill water. Trash collecting trucks leaking stinky water right in front of your house? Suck it up. Tired of the smell coming from that dump in your neighborhood? Just wait until we start spraying it in the air, you'll love that. And they keep electing her. Here's more from Lisa Sorg:

New Solar bill a wolf in sheep's clothing

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If you don't know your history, you're doomed to forget your successes:

North Carolina solar companies owe much of their success to an obscure federal law passed in the wake of the 1973 OPEC oil crisis, when shortages produced lines around the block at gas stations and tipped the U.S. economy into recession. At that time, Americans got about one-sixth of their electrical power from burning petroleum, much of it imported from the Middle East. In a bid for greater energy independence, lawmakers approved The Public Utility Regulatory Policy of 1978, known as PURPA.

Among other things, PURPA required utilities to buy renewable power from independent producers if it cost no more than electricity from the conventional power plants owned by the utility. The aim was to source more power from small renewable facilities, like the Person County Solar Park, easing demand for electricity from coal, gas and—in particular—petroleum-fired power plants.

I will say this again, and keep saying it if that's what it takes: In the clean energy revolution, in the reducing our carbon footprint contest, in the cutting back on pollution effort, it's all about the Megawatts. Yes, allowing for 3rd party leases on residential Solar is great, and it will make it a lot easier for folks to have them installed on their homes, but we're talking 10-15 kilowatts per. An analogy might better get my point across. Say you have a really long wall, that needs to be painted on both sides. On one side, you've got one person using a paint roller, and on the other side, you've got fifty people dabbing with a fine artist's paint brush. When the person with the roller gets tired, another steps up eagerly and starts rolling. On the other side, you're constantly trying to replace each of those fifty people dabbing. I don't need to tell you which side will be finished first, or that one of those sides may never be finished. It's a bad analogy, but it's been in my head for several weeks, and I had to get it out. Here's more on the threat to PURPA:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

In the "put your money where your mouth is" category:

When you try to do something good and some idiot sticks his leg out to trip you:

NC Democrats only granted symbolic role in GOP budget negotiations

To seem rather than to be:

Eight state House Democrats, including Rep. Elmer Floyd of Fayetteville and Rep. Marvin Lucas of Spring Lake, were invited to the Republican-controlled table to help negotiate the final version of the $22.9 billion North Carolina budget this month.

House and Senate lawmakers began meeting behind closed doors this past Monday to work out their differences in the budget, which they are supposed to pass into law no later than June 30. Lucas said on Thursday said he had not yet been invited to attend one of the work sessions. In these negotiations, Lucas said, it’s better to keep quiet about what you want because the other side can use that against you.

Bolding mine, because that is some seriously immature behavior. Maybe they should try reverse psychology? "Please don't fund this affordable housing project, and why don't we cut those godawful food stamps, too?" But you know what? Lucas is right. There are some things in the House Budget I want to see survive these negotiations, but I have decided (this year) to not blog about those things here at BlueNC, for fear of making them a target for removal. How screwed up is that? And along the lines of "reverse psychology," I'm tempted to cheer this guy on, in the hopes my approval will sour his position:

Profiles in hatred: Anti-Muslim extremists invade US cities

White supremacy seems to be the common denominator:

Far-right groups converged on the grounds of the State Capitol in Raleigh for an anti-sharia law rally, part of a nationwide string of events hosted by the anti-Muslim organization ACT for America, on Saturday. “There are no KKK here, there are no Nazis here,” said Peter Boykin, president of Gays for Trump and the local coordinator for the Raleigh anti-sharia rally. Despite his disavowal of extremism, Boykin publicly thanked Identity Evropa, a group founded last year that openly espouses white supremacy, after members in matching white dress shirts punctuated speeches with chants of, “Sharia-free USA” and “We will not be silenced.”

If you're wondering (as I frequently do) on what could lead to somebody joining such a fringe group, which often requires traveling great distances just to publicly display your ignorance, the most obvious first choice is deeply-ingrained racism. But it's more than that, and at least some of the responsibility may rest on our shoulders. To go this far, you have to also possess an incredible lack of trust in our system of government, the way our laws are developed and enforced. Many on the Left are guilty of relentlessly attacking that (entire) system, as opposed to being surgical in their criticisms, and this has helped to erode public trust across the board. And in that trust-deficient environment, fear always steps in to fill the void. And so we hear the names of ambiguous and "code-enhanced" groups emerging:

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