scharrison's blog

NC GOP has put DHHS in the crosshairs

And Secretary Mandy Cohen has had quite enough:

Cohen has spent a lot of time at the legislative building in Raleigh this week, working the halls and talking to budget writers about her qualms with the budget. She’s also been making media appearances to reiterate her priorities and concerns.

Cohen also sharply criticized the legislature for cutting out $42 million in recurring administrative funds over the coming two years. Additionally, she said that as the budget stands right now, the Medicaid budget is $63 million short. “It’s dramatic. It’s irresponsible,” she said. “It’s not like we’re trying to manage some really trying times. No one has given me an answer in this building about why are we doing this cut? We’re not in a recession. Why are they doing it this year… other than to play games?” Cohen said.

There are a couple of obvious reasons, and they both have to do with Medicaid Expansion. Cohen has been pushing them hard for it, and has the data to back up her arguments. That makes her the "enemy" in the eyes of irresponsible and capricious Republicans, so whatever levers they can pull to exert pressure on her are being pulled with a vengeance. But there's also something else: Using the excuse of a procedure change (switching to managed care), they're cutting her staff, which will make it much more difficult to handle Medicaid Expansion if it did get approved. And that will become one more reason for them to not approve it. Create a crisis, and then lament said crisis. Standard operating procedure. Dr. Cohen also has a completely unnecessary and disruptive move looming:

Holmes v. Moore challenge to Voter ID Amendment being argued today

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Currently in front of a 3-judge panel, but destined for the NC Supreme Court:

Specifically, the lawsuit argues that the law violates multiple provisions of the state constitution by: 1) purposefully discriminating against and disproportionately impacting African American and American Indian voters; 2) unduly burdening the fundamental right to vote; 3) creating separate classes of voters, treated differently with respect to their access to the fundamental right to vote; 4) imposing a cost on voting; 5) imposing a property requirement for voting; and 6) impeding voters’ ability to engage in political expression and speech by casting a ballot.

Here's the full complaint (sorry, can't copy & paste), and a few Tweets from NC Policy Watch's intrepid court reporter Melissa Boughton:

Once again, SCOTUS rules against democracy

This ^ right here. It takes power to fix problems, power we don't have. The 2020 Legislative races just became critical, even moreso than the Presidential race.

White Supremacist propaganda is littering college campuses

Looking for new (pure) blood to fill out their ranks:

During the previous academic year, ADL found at least 292 incidents of white supremacy propaganda. Generally, white nationalists who are not connected to the university are responsible for the material.

They have been increasingly targeting colleges and universities since January 2016, and began appearing in larger numbers in the fall semester of that year, according to the ADL. More than three years later their materials -- fliers, stickers, posters -- continue to proliferate on campuses.

These groups are evolving somewhat, although that evolution isn't heading in a "better" direction, just more clandestine. Especially since the Charlottesville debacle, the general public has become more aware of the potential dangers, and less inclined to tolerate outright Nazism. So Identity Evropa has given itself a makeover:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Chatham County ash pit leaking dangerous toxins

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Charah needs to answer some questions like yesterday:

State regulators have asked the operator of a Chatham County landfill where coal ash is being stored to come up with a plan to address high levels of toxic elements found in nearby water. The Brickhaven site near Moncure is a former clay mine that the state Department of Environmental Quality approved four years ago to be used as a lined landfill for coal ash being moved from unlined pits at Duke Energy power plants.

DEQ's Division of Waste Management sent a letter to Brickhaven operator Charah Inc. on Friday, noting that levels of barium, chloride, chromium, cobalt and vanadium were found at levels higher than state standards in various groundwater monitoring wells over time. In addition, high levels of arsenic, cobalt, copper, lead and zinc were found in nearby surface water.

In theory, the clay located at this particular site should have provided a good impermeable layer to block seepage. But generally speaking, when a mine is "played out," there's not enough (of whatever it is) left over to continue operating. Whatever the case, this just drives home the message that bottom liners are the only way to ensure leachate doesn't get into the groundwater. But thanks to decades of criminal negligence by coal plant operators, only 5% of the nation's ash pits have those liners:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Crank it up so those in the back can hear:

I agree too. NC Republicans punished tens of thousands on North Carolinians in an effort to kill the Affordable Care Act, and it didn't work. It's long past time to stop that punishment.

Teachers reeling over Mark Johnson's abrupt switch to web-based reading assessment

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He sure does love to spend some money:

Earlier this month, State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson announced that he signed a three-year, multi-million dollar contact to switch all elementary schools to the Istation program to assess students under North Carolina’s Read To Achieve program. Istation will put children in kindergarten through third grade on a computer three times a year to test their reading skills, then print out reports for teachers.

In an email to teachers about the change, Johnson said, “Istation is a tool designed by teachers for teachers and has proven results of helping students grow.” But teachers across the state have taken to social media to urge people to contact state lawmakers and the State Board of Education to block the change.

This is par for the course for Johnson, spend money on crap teachers neither want nor need, like $6 million worth of iPads. I'm beginning to think he's one of those people who are easily impressed by a well-dressed salesperson who knows how to stroke his little-boy ego. I'll let Justin Parmenter take the reins on Istation:

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