scharrison's blog

Supremes oppose judicial elections

Removing voters from the equation:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Thursday night that she believes states should give up the practice of electing judges. "If there's a reform I would make, it would be that," Ginsburg said during a question-and-answer session of the National Association of Women Judges, which is meeting in Washington.

Retired justice Sandra Day O'Connor has made the issue her priority since leaving the Supreme Court in 2006, arguing that raising campaign funds and promising specific performance on the bench are antithetical to the practice of judging. She favors merit selection or an appointment system such as the one used to pick federal judges.

What say you?

Ed Hanes drops Primary challenge of Linda Garrou

Placing unity above disunity:

Citing the need for Democratic Party unity, Ed Hanes Jr. has suspended his primary challenge against incumbent N.C. Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, for the 32nd district seat.

Hanes' name will still be on the ballot, but he said he is backing Garrou for re-election.

The coal ash into concrete debate

We'll start by highlighting a local company's success in this technique:

As the state and its utilities grapple with what to do with coal ash - the residue left when coal is burned to make electricity - a Cary company is quietly doing something about it.

PMI Ash Technologies pipes the residue, fly ash, out of the coal plants, extracts the residual energy and then produces a material that can be used to make concrete. That product is considered an ecofriendly building material because it reduces the amount of ash that is put in coal ash ponds and landfills.

Martinez dances for the Puppetmaster

Little Ricky's strings are showing:

The nastiness surrounding the Wake County school board's move away from schools' economic diversity grows increasingly vile. It's also irrelevant.

Folks, the conversion to community-based schools is a done deal.

The state NAACP can file as many rant-laden complaints against the new majority as it pleases. Its national leaders can call for resignations. The Rev. William Barber can continue to sing to the heavens that the opponents of community-based schools will not be moved.

Fine. But neither will the new majority and their supporters.

Hawke flies away from D'Annunzio campaign

It's not me, it's you:

Hawke said he parted ways in part over D'Annunzio's posts on a blog called "Christ's War," which combines politics with Biblical references and end-times theology. Hawke said he advised the candidate to take it down after a February Observer story quoted passages from it.

"He took it down, told me it was down and down to stay," said Hawke, who advised former Gov. Jim Martin and gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory. "Next I knew it was in the N&O telling me it was back up. ... I don't think any candidate should get up at 3 or 4 in the morning, sit down in front of a computer and pour your heart out. It's just not a smart thing to do."

Jack, you just can't reason with a megalomaniac.

During brutal Winter, NC utilities disconnect tens of thousands

I understand they're in business to make money, and I'm not saying they should give it away for free, but this is really cold:

Mary Martin says it felt like she had gotten punched in the chest - by her utility bill. It has run as high as $350 during the coldest of winter months, she says. But last month, it climbed to over $600: an overwhelming figure to a 52-year-old who, like millions of other Americans, has lost her job and tapped out her unemployment benefits.

With Charlotte-area unemployment hovering at a near-record 12.1 percent, problems like those are multiplying. Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas are both reporting a jump in residential disconnections in 2009, with Duke's up 6.3 percent (to 144,804 statewide) and Piedmont's up 15.9 percent (to 53,696).

Democrats in Congress move to block EPA

Defending their right to do nothing about climate change:

On Thursday, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) introduced a bill that would put a two-year freeze on the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants. His was the latest of various congressional proposals -- from both chambers and both parties -- designed to delay or overturn the EPA's regulations.

Rockefeller said the two-year delay would allow time for Congress to impose its own rules on emissions and, perhaps, for technological breakthroughs to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels.

"Today, we took important action to safeguard jobs, the coal industry and the entire economy," Rockefeller said. West Virginia is a major coal producer.

That'll do, pig

Utilities are scrambling to find partners to help them achieve REPS-mandated conversion of hog waste into energy:

The state's electric utilities are looking for business partners that will convert swine waste into electricity. They'll pay more than they spend, themselves, to generate power from coal, natural gas or nuclear fuel. But the cost will hardly be recognizable on utility bills.

If the whole process works, everyone wins. The swine waste now stored in lagoons, which is an environmental disaster waiting to happen, will be put to a good use producing clean electricity. The air around farms will not smell as bad because the lagoons will be capped. And farmers should generate new cash from the sale of both electricity and fertilizer.

School diversity not just a Southern issue

The N&O's Steve Ford pens a great editorial on Northern influence over Southern education trends:

If you moved here from the Northeast, you might have brought your own set of progressive values. But you would have seen racial tensions in your former home that were a corrosive force many communities were ill-equipped to deal with.

The tendency back there was for municipalities to wall themselves off, typically on the basis of income. Inner-city riots, crime and general social dysfunction made the cities and their residents seem threatening. With school systems tied to municipalities, not counties, residents of affluent towns didn't (and still don't) need to think about having poor kids in their children's classrooms.

It's not surprising that folks moving to Wake County from such places would bring with them a certain set of attitudes and expectations. And that when they got here, many would settle in the newer suburbs of Cary, Apex, Holly Springs and Wake Forest, if not the sprawling stretches of North Raleigh.

Raleigh and Durham at odds over water quality

The tab for short-sighted development is coming due, and someone has to pay:

Raleigh, and a large part of Wake County, needs Falls Lake for its drinking water and will spend millions upgrading the city's water treatment plant if pollution isn't reduced by 2016.

But Durham looks as though it will be on the hook for millions of dollars to lower the amount of sediment-laden stormwater that rushes off pavement in its urban core into streams, creeks and rivers that flow into the lake. Durham doesn't get its water from Falls Lake but from Lake Michie and the Little River Reservoir.


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