scharrison's blog

Back to the 'Hood

And into the open arms of the gangs:

Three citizen members of the committee appointed by new board members came to today’s meeting with a list of changes affecting large numbers of Southeast Raleigh students.

Tracey Noble, the community member for board member Deborah Prickett, proposed numerous moves that would send Southeast Raleigh students out of schools in North Raleigh. David Williams, the community member for Tedesco, proposed moves to send Southeast Raleigh students out of Garner High and East Garner Middle back to their communities. Ann Rouleau, the community member for board chairman Ron Margiotta, proposed moving Southeast Raleigh students out of schools in western Wake.

"What a coincidence! We all had the same idea!" A blatantly, transparently racist idea, that is.

Go see Mount Jefferson, while you still can

Tourist attraction joins list of likely cuts:

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has outlined proposals that would close Mount Jefferson State Park and Natural Area in Ashe County and Singletary Lake State Park, a 572-acre natural lake in Bladen County.

In the report issued by DENR, they acknowledge the negative impact that closing the parks would have: “Reductions in state park attendance could result in reductions to local tourism revenues … Closure will reduce opportunities for public school field trips and educational programming.”

Here are a couple of pics I swiped from the State Parks website:

Clock running down on Falls Lake cleanup commencement

Changing behavior is costly but necessary:

Authorities in Wake County pressured the legislature for the lake's cleanup, because the lake provides drinking water for 450,000 Wake residents. But the pollutants reach the lake from streams running through Durham, Granville, Person and Orange counties, whose taxpayers would bear the greatest financial burden for cleaning up Raleigh's reservoir.

It will probably do little good to repeat this, but it needs to be said: Techniques for ameliorating the negative effects of stormwater runoff have been available to county/city governments for decades, and they (for the most part) chose to ignore them. During that time, land development in the Triangle/Triad regions propagated like rabbits, and the combination of those two factors produced an inevitable result. A result that must be dealt with, now.

Reporters battle robots for journalism jobs

Durham company creates software to make (human) writers obsolete:

This month, StatSheet unveiled StatSheet Network, made up of separate Web sites for each of the 345 N.C.A.A. Division I men’s basketball teams. Beyond statistics galore, each site has what the company calls “automated content,” stories written entirely by software, including write-ups of the team’s games, past and future. With a joking wink, StatSheet’s founder, Robbie Allen, refers to these sites as the “Robot Army.”

“My goal was that 80 percent of readers wouldn’t question that the content was written by a human,” he says, “and now that we’ve launched, I think the percentage is higher.”

Maybe so, but would a robot be able to write, "80 percent of people who spend their time reading sports stories are f**king idiots."

Greenhouse gases reach record levels

World Meteorological Organization shouts warning:

“Greenhouse gas concentrations have reached record levels despite the economic slowdown. They would have been even higher without the international action taken to reduce them,” said WMO Secretary-General Mr Michel Jarraud. “In addition, potential methane release from northern permafrost, and wetlands, under future climate change is of great concern and is becoming a focus of intensive research and observations.”

Unfortunately, due to the recent election's shift to the Right, the U.S. will probably be even less likely to become a strong partner (much less leader) in the global effort to reverse these trends.

Local food, mom & pop retail

Designating today as Small Business Saturday is a great idea, and hopefully a lot of folks will take part. Sometimes a simple trigger like this can bring about a change of habits in consumers. But legislators and state government administration need to develop some new habits of their own to help strengthen the economic viability of small businesses in our state, or we will continue to bleed jobs as these mom & pop operations fold under the pressure of market dominance by faceless, high-volume conglomerates.

On the local food side, it looks like Kay Hagan's cosponsored Amendment to shield small farmers has a good chance of passing:

GOP already showing fiscal incompetence

Trying to make up a revenue shortfall by cutting revenue:

A tight fiscal picture means very little room for error, according to some Republicans. Incoming House Majority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, said tax reform isn't good to tackle right now because voters wouldn't believe their plan is revenue neutral - meaning tax collections wouldn't be higher overall compared to the year before.

But that's not an accurate definition of "revenue neutral", is it? Revenue neutral would be those actions which don't appreciably raise or lower revenues from one fiscal year to the next. I understand why you would misuse the term, because you want to draw attention away from your unsound approach to balancing the budget. I don't, however, understand why a reporter would let you get away with it.

City of Wilson sues Nash County over poultry plant

Company's pollution in Texas used as a warning:

Using water discharge data supplied by the company to the Environmental Protection Agency, the nonprofit group Environment Texas reported a year ago that the chicken plant near Bryan, Texas, released about 1.2 million pounds of nitrate compounds into Cottonwood Branch creek in 2007.

The city of Wilson, which has sued Nash County over its approval of a rezoning that could allow the project, has alleged that the project is in its watershed.

This is not really a "chicken war", it's one of the battles in the "water war". And in the absence of leadership from above (the Legislature), we can expect to see more of these cross-county disputes.

Wake Commissioners to reinstate abortion ban

Gurley polishes the chrome on his way-back machine:

The new Republican majority on the Wake County Board of Commissioners will vote at its first meeting since the election to bar the county employees health plan from paying for abortions, board chairman Tony Gurley said Wednesday.

Gurley said only a few employees each year use the health plan — which is self-funded by taxpayers — to pay for elective abortions, but he opposes the payments on principle.

Just a reminder there, Tony: Your budget is beyond busted, you're about to lose 400 or so teachers, you can't afford to build/expand libraries the people were promised, much less all those "neighborhood schools". You might want to set aside your warped "principles" and focus on the real problems facing the County.

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