scharrison's blog

Black Sheep Christmas: Tips for recovering addicts during the holidays

Facing the family can be a terrifying prospect:

Terri Edwards’ first Christmas home after entering an addiction recovery program was “very uncomfortable.” She had been away from her family for five years while she was using substances.

“I didn’t know exactly what my place was anymore because I had removed myself from the family unit for so long,” she said. “I was still trying to figure out who I was in recovery, and how I fit in with my family now.”

I have experience from both sides of this issue, and you *definitely* need some sort of a plan to get through it. And that doesn't just apply to the recovering addict's approach; whoever's hosting the gathering needs to take some steps too. You can't assume everybody is on the same sheet of music. Especially when opioids are involved, some of the family members or friends in attendance may have been hurt more than others, with outstanding loans or even money and other valuables stolen by the addict. And they may view this gathering as an opportunity to vent their frustration. So sending out a group e-mail (that way everybody knows that everybody knows) asking people to avoid the subject might be wise. Here's some more helpful tips:

The perils of privatization: Aqua NC customers score dubious win

A reduction in rate increases for nasty water is hardly a victory:

Homeowners tired of brown drinking water were celebrating Friday night after learning that the North Carolina Utilities Commission denied Aqua North Carolina's request for an 8 percent increase in rates. Aqua customers packed a rate hearing in June to complain to the Utilities Commission about the brown water that stains their clothes, sinks and bathtubs.

The commission apparently heard them and approved an average increase of 2.5 percent. "I don't mind paying it if the water's clean. When the water's not clean, you get upset about paying a premium and still having dirty water coming through your tap," Aqua customer Owen Cavanaugh said.

Once again, the Utilities Commission has failed in its most basic responsibility: To ensure that utility operators are providing a safe and equitable service to their ratepayers. Those of you who are relatively new to the environmental watchdog club may be unfamiliar with this company, but this heinously expensive brown water thing has been going on for a long time. Lisa Sorg wrote this for the Indy five years ago:

Veto S469, Municipal Charter School pension access

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Segregation then, segregation now, segregation forever:

A law that allows for town-run charter schools in four Charlotte suburbs has been criticized because it could lead to more racially segregated schools in that area. Now, a bill to offer state pensions to teachers at those proposed schools could make it easier for the model to spread to more cities. That bill (S469) is on the governor’s desk awaiting veto or signature.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has publicly opposed the technical corrections bill passed last week that would allow municipal charter schools to offer state benefits to their employees. “Prior to this technical corrections bill, the functional reality is, these schools weren’t going to start,” said Charles Jeter, legislative liaison for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The whole idea of municipal charters is insane, but allowing them to participate in the state's pension system is even crazier. Why? Because it makes us all complicit in the re-segregation of schools. First of all, municipalities have the ability/authority to refuse incorporation of poor and (quite often) African-American communities, basically blocking those black students from attending the new schools. And throwing the pension in there will no doubt draw many good teachers away from county schools and into the same white incubator. But that's not all this particular bill would do. It's a "technical corrections" bill (see omnibus), which would also give $8,000 vouchers to disabled students attending private schools:

VA drops the ball on veteran suicide prevention

And Trump's mismanagement is the main reason why:

Suicide prevention efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs fell off sharply in the last two years, even though reducing the high suicide rate among veterans is the agency’s top clinical priority, according to a new report.

With the department’s top management in turmoil, the suicide prevention effort lacked leadership, planning meetings were repeatedly canceled, millions of dollars budgeted for outreach went unspent, and the television and radio ads that had been broadcast thousands of times across the country in previous years went all but silent.

If something like this had happened on Obama's watch, Congressional Republicans would be holding hearings back to back, and Fox News would have endless coverage of the failure. But Trump? Crickets. One of the most important gauges of how effective an executive is performing is the performance of subordinate institutions that fall under his (or her) authority, and by all measures, Trump has failed miserably in that category. But his failure with the VA has been breathtaking, and with fatal consequences:

Parsing the 9th District's embarrassing election fraud situation

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And the NC GOP's all-over-the-map efforts to handle it:

The Earth shook and the seas parted as politicos from both parties appeared to join hands, perhaps taking in the gathering evidence that a Republican operative may have hacked our election apparatus, piloting an alleged spider web of a get-out-the-vote campaign or perhaps more appropriately, a get-the-vote-out campaign, accused of illegally handling – or, worst-case scenario, destroying – thousands of absentee ballots.

The accord was over before you could fully appreciate it, shattered Monday when top Republicans in the 9th urged members of the state’s elections board to certify the results of Baptist minister Mark Harris’ supremely suspect victory if they cannot produce evidence of wrongdoing by Congress’ return in January.

Which merely drives home the message the 9th District is incapable of policing itself. There is a *lot* of evidence, including direct testimony, that considerable wrongdoing occurred. Yes, much of that evidence was discovered/compiled by local media outlets, as opposed to the state Board of Elections. But it exists, nonetheless. That fraudulent cat is not going back in the bag, no matter how much local Republicans want it to. As to having another Primary, Rob Schofield has (once again) brought my better angels to the surface:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The last days of the Berger Empire:

It will be interesting to see how they operate without absolute power...

Latest hog farm lawsuit ends with a sad joke

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At least a slap on the wrist hurts a little bit:

On Wednesday, the end to a month-long trial came after jurors returned verdicts in favor of all eight plaintiffs, who live near a Sampson County hog farm, and imposed compensatory damages of a little more than $100,000 in all. Neighbors said Smithfield Foods hog operations were damaging to their daily life, complaining of powerful odors, clouds of flies, midnight noises and screeching trucks. Plaintiffs argued they could not enjoy their property enough to host a family barbecue, let kids play outside or tend a garden.

This week’s verdict was the fourth loss for the North Carolina hog industry. The jury awarded $100 compensatory damages to four plaintiffs, $1,000 to two plaintiffs, $25,000 to one and $75,000 to another — an elderly woman who lived closest to the hog farm and grew up there.

A hundred dollars in compensation? What is this, 1818? How many days of work did those four people miss in this month-long trial? I have more questions, but it's doubtful I'd get a straight answer from idiots like Jimmy Dixon:

Hearing on NC09 postponed until after new Congress is seated

Better to have no Representative than a fraudulently-elected one:

An evidentiary hearing on allegations of absentee ballot fraud in a North Carolina congressional district election has been rescheduled. The N.C. State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement announced Friday that the public hearing initially scheduled for Dec. 21 will now be held on Jan. 11, 2019.

In a letter Monday, board chairman Joshua Malcolm had suggested more time may be needed to decide whether a new election would be necessary for the 9th Congressional District. Malcolm said those subpoenaed in the case said they need more time to produce additional records.

I don't like the idea of the 9th District not having a Representative any more than the next person, but keep this in mind: Of the 435 district seats in the US House, there are always a handful that are unfilled. In 2018, 7 Representatives resigned and one died, and in 2017, 9 resigned, several of them to fill positions in the Trump administration. In other words, it's not a Constitutional crisis. But what *is* a Constitutional crisis is the distinct possibility that over 1,000 voters in the 9th District had their ballots destroyed:

The King of Irony: Trump's attack of John Edwards comes back to haunt

Paying off mistresses with donor money is not what the doctor ordered:

To begin with, it is the John Edwards prosecution which itself strengthens the case against Trump. Everyone knew that Edwards was on trial for having donors make payments to his mistress to help fund his campaign. This put Trump and everyone else on fair notice that federal prosecutors were treating such payments as reportable campaign expenditures in certain circumstances. Trump even tweeted about the case at the time. At the very least, the Edwards precedent should have caused Trump to seek advice of counsel on whether payments made to hush up mistresses timed specifically to help his election campaign were illegal.

Not only is the legal theory against Trump stronger because of the Edwards precedent; the facts of the Trump case appear much stronger than the Edwards case as well. Here there appears to be both testimony of Cohen and people from AMI (the National Enquirer parent company) who have said that they coordinated with Trump to make the payments in order to help Trump’s election chances.

Bolding mine, because while I respect the hell out of Rick Hasen, he apparently hasn't yet grasped this fact about Trump: There is no precedent that applies to him, because he considers himself extraordinary. Things that are important to other people simply don't apply to him. When he said he could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody" and not lose voter support, he wasn't joking. He really believes that. That's why his Twitter feed from 3-5-7 years ago is littered with criticisms of people for doing things he now proudly does himself, because his ego has raised him above the rest of humanity. I also don't (completely) agree with Rick about this:

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