scharrison's blog

N&O desperate for an issue

When you can't come up with a new controversy with which to flog state government, inflate one yourself:

With more than 10 percent of North Carolinians out of work, a new audit reveals that employees at the state agency tasked with helping them find jobs were instead using their government computers to watch and burn copies of bootleg DVDs.

The Office of the State Auditor launched the investigation at the Employment Security Commission in August 2009 after a tip to its hotline.

"Oh my God! More evidence of State government rot and malfeasance!" Yeah, right. Two idiots sharing DVD files. ;) Gimme a break.

Another (big) reason to defeat Burr in November

He could be about to inherit a very important position:

The energy committee has jurisdiction over domestic oil and gas development, nuclear power, renewables, the electric grid, national parks, forests and wilderness areas and the Energy and Interior departments. It annually takes up the most bills in the Senate — those public lands and water measures add up.

The next Republican on the seniority list behind Murkowski is Richard Burr, who is in a tough general election fight in North Carolina. Should the Republicans take the Senate and Burr assume the top spot, he would be the first Southerner to lead the panel since Sen. Bennett Johnston (D-La.) in the 1990s.

DFA hearts Debra McHenry

Just got this in the (e)mail:

DFA endorsements have always been driven by our members on the ground across the country -- that's what makes Democracy for America the country's only people-powered PAC. But the North Carolina All-Star endorsement is different because it's chosen entirely by DFA members in North Carolina.

All the votes have been cast and I'm honored to announce DFA's North Carolina All-Star -- Debra McHenry.

Apparently I'm on a Wake County theme today, but I promise I'll pay more attention to the other 99 in weeks to come. This is a big one, folks. Skip Stam is a blight on the General Assembly, and the longer he stays there the more infected our tree of democracy will get.

NC counties short-sighted on stimulus

I wonder how much of this is ideological in nature:

So it's especially frustrating to find out that in three-quarters of North Carolina's counties, it was too much trouble to lift a proverbial finger to help at least a few dozen people start drawing paychecks. There would have been a cost to county governments, heaven forbid.

Wake's manager, David Cooke, said it wasn't his call not to sign up, but he explained the reluctance: "In most cases it's false economics. Here's some more work for you [the county] to do if you accept 'free' money. We're all dealing with declining revenues or flat revenues." He said the county has passed on some stimulus programs because of associated expenses.

Big surprise. The Republican majority Wake County Commission don't need no help from Obama. The voters should toss them out on their ears for this.

NC to receive $400 million for education

Race To The Top efforts finally bear fruit:

“North Carolina’s children today are one step closer to being guaranteed the best public education possible – something every child deserves," Perdue said in an announcement about the win. "This grant will give us the resources to more aggressively implement our plan to ensure that all of our children graduate ready for a career, college or technical training."

That includes money to recruit and retain teachers and administrators; a turnaround plan for low performing schools and technology used to track student progress in the classroom.

SBI revelations bring focus to Death Row

Death penalty foes come together in Raleigh:

In addition to their pleas for a more sweeping examination of the SBI crime lab, the speakers called for an investigation into the cases of each of the 159 inmates on North Carolina's death row, further study of all evidence in pending capital cases and for a vetting of the cases of all inmates executed since the crime lab's beginning.

"The pursuit of justice is, and should be, our common thread," said Jeremy Collins, director of the N.C. Coalition for a Moratorium..."It is our hope that justice, not tainted and manipulated science, will be the guiding light of our criminal justice system."

Privatization and divestment of government assets

As our state and local governments struggle with recession-generated revenue problems, there is a strong temptation to make up those shortfalls through the liquidation of assets (sell off) into the private sector, or the privatization of (historically) government functions and programs which facilitates the "thinning of the ranks" of government employees.

Unfortunately, these planning sessions are almost always short-sighted, and fail to reference the reams of data that demonstrate the long-term costs of such moves, not to mention the waves of regret that are felt by (other) states and municipalities that have gone down this road. The lure of the pawnshop is strong, but our elected officials need to keep their eyes focused on the horizon and drive on by.

Nuke plants in hot water

Rising water temperatures force shutdowns:

The Tennessee Valley Authority is losing tens of millions of dollars in power generation at its largest nuclear plant to avoid overheating the Tennessee River in Alabama.

Unless the summer cools down, TVA could lose more, pushing up fuel costs and consumer electric bills even after seven straight monthly increases.

I have a feeling these Summer shutdowns will only get worse in the years to come.

UNC's anti-abortion controversy

Once again, UNC is manipulated by the agenda-driven Conservative machine:

A national anti-abortion group is asking Gov. Bev Perdue to look into the details of a new UNC system requirement that all students have health insurance. Students for Life of America has asked Perdue to investigate a number of issues surrounding the UNC system's new health insurance program for students.

In the face of criticism, UNC system leaders last week said students could opt out of the portion of their UNC insurance plans that covers abortion.


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