scharrison's blog

Municipal broadband in the hands of Legislature

And it looks like they're trying to help Big Telecom:

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to take up legislation Wednesday that would force municipalities to get voter approval before borrowing money to build a broadband network. Opponents say that would give corporations a spending advantage ahead of local referendums.

Mystery question #47: When is a compromise not a compromise? When it gives one side a huge advantage over the other.

On fair weather environmentalism

When it comes to public policy, environmental concerns go out the window:

Environmental regulation is seen as a bureaucratic imposition - not as an insurance policy against potential catastrophe, and certainly not as a moral imperative.

Yes, many Americans feel good about going through the motions of environmentalism...But where the rubber hits the road - in public policy - we've reverted to our pre-enlightenment ways. When there's a perceived conflict between environmental stewardship and economic growth, the bottom line wins.

I have some ideas why this happens, but I'd like to hear your ideas as well.

Another concrete plant?

And this one's in the mountains:

NBACC and its President, Aaron Pohl-Zaretsky, received a summons yesterday morning (the day of the Public Hearing on the Air Quality Permit) informing us of a libel suit filed by Blue Ridge Concrete, and its owner Mark Turner, against NBACC and Aaron Pohl-Zaretsky personally.

This community has tried for too long to stop this plant to stop now. An apparent attempt to stifle citizen’s rights to speak their minds can be seen as an act of desperation on the part of Blue Ridge. This kind of suit is called a SLAPP suit

Criminy. I need to play catch-up on this, but now that it's on (our) radar, we'll keep you informed.

Duke Energy controls, stifles Solar power projects

You can't play if they won't throw you the ball:

Independent solar companies say they can’t even get in the door to negotiate with the Charlotte energy giant. “It’s not difficult to do a deal with them,” says Richard Harkrader of Carolina Solar Energy in Durham. “It’s impossible.”

In Charlotte, Optima Engineering founder Keith Pehl says all 17 of the independent commercial solar projects his company brought to Duke Energy in the past two years foundered on failed power-purchase negotiations. Pehl contends Duke’s approach is to control the local market and refuse to pay competitive prices for power from developers and building owners.

For Richard Burr, soldiers are merely tools to be used

Don't ask, don't tell, just do your f**king job:

Burr said he hasn’t seen compelling evidence that "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" has hurt the military’s readiness or the size and strength of the armed services. "Those folks can still fight. They’re fighting today," Burr said.

First of all, Dick, our men and women in uniform are not just assembly-line robots that fight our wars for us, they're people. They hope and dream and love and fear, just like civilians. Second of all, there are about 13,500 of them who are not fighting today because of this stupid regulation.

2nd round of appliance rebates begins Tuesday

Since there's only about $1 million left, you need to move with the quickness:

The rebates range from $75 for an Energy Star-rated freezer and dishwasher to $300 for an Energy Star-raged central AC unit and natural gas furnace. The appliances and equipment must replace older units to qualify for the incentives.

Many of these appliances and equipment can also qualify for additional incentives...For example, a $7,500 central AC unit with a SEER 16 rating and a high-efficiency heating unit can end up costing $5,000 after a combination of tax credits and other incentives are taken into account from the Energy Office ($300 for AC, $300 for furnace), Progress Energy ($300 for AC), PSNC ($100 for furnace) and the Internal Revenue Service ($1,500 for HVAC unit).

Solar industry could bring 28,000 jobs to NC

According to a new report from Environment North Carolina:

The 28,000 new jobs figure is the low-end estimate, says Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina's state director and co-author of the report. More manufacturing could boost that number to 42,000, she says. “We need to incentivize them to be here,” Outz says of manufacturing jobs. “It’s easier to outsource.”

Already, the green power industry – which also includes wind, biomass and energy efficiency – employs 10,000 workers in 2009 and made more than $3.5 billion in revenue that year, according to the report by the state-wide nonprofit environmental advocacy organization.

The hijacking of words and symbols

Rob Schofield over at NC Policywatch has some interesting observations about the word "freedom":

There have been a lot of attempts by conservative groups in recent years to hijack the "freedom" label. Now is the time for thoughtful North Carolinians to reject these clumsy and simplistic arguments. The truth of the matter is that poverty, environmental degradation and the excesses of corporations pose just as much of a threat to freedom as taxes and government bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, through sheer repetition and some manipulative marketing (usually involving the American flag and/or other patriotic images), the ideological right has made a lot of headway with this tactic. Despite the occasional flap caused by an overmatched dimwit like (Rand) Paul, many people who should know better have come to accept this demonstrably false label for the far right's positions.

Party loyalty vs. patronage

To begin this discussion, we'll start with patronage:

Soles' retirement bill allows either district attorneys or judges to collect their pensions starting at age 62 if they have 20 years of service, reports Joseph Neff of The News & Observer of Raleigh. Under the old rules, DAs and judges can collect their pensions beginning at age 65, or when they accumulate 24 years of service. The bill likely affects only Gore, who is 62 and has 22 years of service. The bill means Gore, who admits he helped write the proposal, wouldn't have to wait three more years

Conventional wisdom, at least the type held by those who engage in this kind of behavior, holds that "party loyalty" would keep Democrats like me from criticizing R.C. Soles for doing this. But that wisdom is wrong.

New twist in NC's offshore drilling debate

Show of hands: How many of you knew about this?

The prospects of hitting a trove of oil or gas (considered more likely) off our coastline are slim, perhaps one in a hundred, notes Alexander, a former Charlotte News writer, and Lazell. In 1950, they write, Exxon drilled to a depth of 10,000 feet off Cape Hatteras and found nothing. "More than 50 wells have been drilled both onshore and in coastal waters controlled by the state," including three wells in Dare and Hyde in 1965. "Neither oil nor gas was found in any of these operations," they added.

Related story: The world's largest red herring was discovered swimming in the political waters of North Carolina...

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