Daily Dose: Hiccups and graft edition

Troubles at DHHS are out of the news lately, mostly because there's so much misery happening on every other front. Never fear. SNAFU is still the order of the day the in the magical land of Queen Aldona.

Meanwhile, incoming Speaker Tim Moore says he thinks honest bipartisanship is the best policy. Oh really?

Doctor still waiting for NC Tracks payment (Wilmington Star-News) -- Software hiccups blamed incorrect reimbursements

Likely NC speaker talks honesty, bipartisanship (AP) — Tim Moore has spent almost all his life in Kings Mountain, an old textile town more than 150 miles southwest of Raleigh with perhaps more in common with South Carolina than North Carolina. Its name originates from the Revolutionary War battle just south of the state line.

Rep. Tim Moore, a quick look (AP) -- FULL NAME: Timothy Keith Moore. AGE: 44. Born Oct. 2, 1970 in Kings Mountain.


What Can You Expect From The GOP Lead Legislature (TWCN-TV) -- Republicans have had control of the full North Carolina legislature for four years now. For the past two years, Republicans have also had the seat in the governor's mansion. This means they have been able to set the agenda for the state and only have to work out differences within their own party. As the state heads into 2015, many of the officials leading the state will be the same, but a new speaker of the house is set to be elected. Republicans have said that person will be Tim Moore of Cleveland County. He says Medicaid, from re-organization to cost efficiencies, will be at top priority in 2015. “We have to find a way to get the Medicaid spending under control,” says Moore. “First and foremost, we have to make sure that the services are delivered to the population in need. That we are providing medical services, but we need to do so in a manner that is efficient. That cuts through the waste. That cuts through the fraud.” -


2016 race will start early in North Carolina (WRAL-TV) -- A change in the law puts North Carolina in play much earlier in the 2016 presidential primary cycle.


Charlotte mayoral race and looming 2016 contests promise plenty of political drama (Charlotte Observer) -- Three primaries – including two in not-so-far-off 2016 – will set the tone for the new year in North Carolina politics.


Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo Dies (Wall Street Journal) -- Mario Cuomo, a three-term New York governor whose soaring liberal speeches made him a national leader of the Democratic Party through the 1980s, has died. He was 82.


Former SBI narcotics agent faces federal drug charges (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A former narcotics agent for the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation faces federal charges of transporting marijuana from California to Charlotte and laundering proceeds of drug trafficking, according to court documents.


NC marks 5 years since smoking banned in bars (AP) — North Carolina health officials are praising the benefits of a 5-year-old state law that banned smoking in bars and restaurants.


3 people receive death sentence in NC in 2014 (AP) — Three people were sentenced to die for their crimes in North Carolina last year, contributing to the lowest number of death sentences nationally in 40 years, anti-death penalty groups say.


John Bowdish (Raleigh News & Observer) -- John F. Bowdish, 77, passed away on Dec. 27,2014. John worked with Burroughs-Wellcome Pharmaceutical Company for 28 years retiring as a Regional Manager for Government Affairs. Upon retirement, he was an independent lobbyist serving Health Care Clients with the State Legislature. He was a member of the North Carolina Independent Lobbyist Association. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy where he was Captain of the all Navy Wrestling Team and an alternate on the 1956 U.S. Olympic Team. He graduated from the University of New Mexico and also obtained his Executive MBA from the University of North Carolina.


Richard Paul Dean Jr. (Raleigh News & Observer) -- On Monday evening, Dec. 29 at 9:10 p.m., our world momentarily stood still as our force-of-nature father, Richard Paul Dean, Jr., stepped into the presence of his Lord and Savior. Complicated, vexing and oft-times misunderstood, Dad firmly believed in God's gift of free-will. We often heard him say: "There are enough ways in the world for everyone to have one of their own." This was the rare sentiment with which our mother, Jeanette Mincey, was known to agree. The rest of us simply accepted it as explanation for his peculiarities that frankly, made no sense at all.


Navassa Mayor Willis charged in threat to councilwoman (Wilmington Star-News) -- According to a warrant, Navassa Mayor Eulis Willis was arrested Tuesday after a town councilwoman reported receiving a threat.



New Hanover Co. has 2 drop boxes for medications (AP) — Residents of New Hanover County now can dispose of unwanted medications at two new permanent drop boxes.



The biggest public education win of 2014 (Washington Post) -- The biggest win for public education in 2014 was also the quietest one. (http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-biggest-ed-win-of-2014.html) Let me tell you what it was, in case you missed it. Millions of teachers went to work and did their jobs despite a staggering assault on public education, with their integrity, judgment, reputation, and ability under attack by government and corporate leaders; with their job security under assault by people who don’t know what they are talking about; with powerful forces working to dismantle the institutions and ideals to which they have devoted their lives. In environments ranging from openly hostile to merely unsupportive, teachers went into their classrooms and did their best to meet the needs of their students. Teachers helped millions of young human become smarter, wiser, more capable, more confident, and better educated.


UNCG nanoscience student wins business idea contest (Greensboro News & Record) -- Taylor Mabe's proposal to treat bipolar disorder won first place in “2 Minutes to Win It,” the N.C. Entrepreneurship Center's annual business idea contest.



A look back at the year's biggest environmental stories

(Environmental Health News) -- The biggest stories of 2014 are going to set the stage in 2015. We see these developments on the horizon: bolstered research and tracking of antibiotic-resistant bacteria; states leading the charge on bans on neonicitinoids, a class of pesticides linked to bee colony collapse; and heightened focus by scientists on emerging contaminants in our water. Perhaps the biggest environmental story of 2014 broke the second week of January. Some 300,000 residents of Kanahwa Valley in West Virginia awoke to no drinking water and a fouled Elk River after a coal-processing chemical leaked from a tank. They spent weeks scrambling for clean drinking water and information. That was just the beginning in a year of water woes. North Carolina had a sludgy spill in the Dan River in February, which in part spurred the first federal coal ash waste regulations last month. August was Toledo’s turn to lose its drinking water supply, as water around the city's intakes on Lake Erie turned to toxic algal soup. Then 11 million gallons of a copper sulfate acid solution contaminated a tributary of the Sonora River, leaving about 25,000 people in Mexico without water.


EPA’s Coal Ash Rules: Part 1 (The Basics) (Smith Environment Blog) -- EPA released a final coal ash rule. Some basic things to know about the federal rule: -- This federal rule sets minimum standards for disposal of coal combustion residuals (more commonly called “coal ash”), but other state and federal regulations will continue to apply to coal ash disposal as well. The most significant may be the federal Clean Water Act and state water quality standards; the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) which addresses liability for remediation of contaminated property; state landfill regulations; state groundwater protection standards; and requirements of North Carolina’s 2014 Coal Ash Management Act.


EPA's move to regulate 'coal ash' is a step forward (Washington Post editorial) -- In the past decade, two coal ash pits saw major spills — one in Tennessee in 2008 and one in North Carolina in 2014 — that fouled rivers and endangered people and wildlife. Environmentalists report dozens more instances of air or water contamination from the more than 1,000 coal ash disposal sites around the country, and the EPA has confirmed many of those cases. Even so, there have been no federal regulations on coal ash disposal — until now. The EPA issued a final rule last month that will set minimum standards on waste sites. … Though there’s room for tweaking, the rules likely won’t be fully revised anytime soon. Federal officials should nevertheless keep wary eyes on coal ash disposal sites and the state regulators responsible for them, particularly in places where local overseers are close with coal companies. The Obama administration has taken a step in the right direction. It’s better to have basic federal safety and reporting rules than none at all. Most likely, however, the EPA will need to go further.



Solar farm seeks reversal (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- The developers of a proposed solar farm in Grimesland have asked a Pitt County Superior Court judge to review and reverse a Board of Adjustment ruling against the project.


Duke Energy acquires Halifax Solar Project in Eastern North Carolina (Solar Daily) -- Duke Energy Renewables has announced it has acquired a 20-megawatt (AC) solar project in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., from Geenex and ET Solar Energy Corp.


NC hog farm neighbors seek court help to stop the stink (Charlotte Observer) -- Two dozen lawsuits now before a federal court challenge the personal cost of North Carolina’s $2.5 billion hog industry: living with its stink.


Sanderson Farms emails show emphatic community displeasure (Fayetteville Observer) -- This fall, residents deluged the Cumberland County commissioners with emails opposing a Sanderson Farms chicken plant.


Eroding North Topsail Beach turns to sandbags to save homes (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Crews in North Topsail Beach are building a 9-foot-tall wall of sandbags to save about 20 homes threatened by rapidly encroaching ocean waves, a $2.6 million race against the clock.


States work to meet new renewable energy standards (Energy Fix/AP) -- From New Mexico and Texas to Montana and New York, PNM and other investor-owned utilities are facing higher renewable energy standards starting this year as numerous states and the federal government push for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels for generating electricity.


Energy's 2014 winners and losers (The Hill) -- President Obama took a significant step toward substantially changing U.S. climate policy when the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled sweeping rules to limit emissions from power plants. A fight over those regulations with congressional Republicans is likely to be one of several battles that will dominate the final two years of Obama’s presidency. Here’s a look at 2014’s winners and losers in the energy sector.


Effect of red knot's new protection on NC unclear (AP) — State officials say it's too early to know how the declaration of the red knot as a threatened species will affect the North Carolina coast.



Beware of the flu (Greensboro News & Record) -- Remember fears about Ebola? Worry instead about the flu, which is here and spreading through our population.


Out-of-the-box thinking could create jobs (Fayetteville Observer) -- North Carolina's Institute for Emerging Issues is a public-policy gem. A creation of former Gov. Jim Hunt, the institute monitors our economy, health, education and environment and holds an annual forum that attracts some of our best and brightest, who seek solutions to our problems. This year's forum (Feb. 9 and 10 at the Raleigh Convention Center) will visit a concept in which North Carolina has, at times, excelled: Innovation. To set the table for "Innovation Reconstructed" discussions, the institute nominated 23 organizations or individuals for a "Spaces for Innovation" competition. North Carolina, it turns out, has a lot of innovative space - incubator-like places where entrepreneurs, researchers and educators can find help and support.


NC fracking may be a contentious dud (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory and his fellow Republicans in the General Assembly once spoke of fracking, the extraction of gas through high-pressure injection of chemically laced water into rock, as a potential economic boom for the state. Once North Carolina opened the way to fracking, they said, jobs would be created that would help the state prosper. Now, those in the industry that pushes fracking have become reluctant suitors when it comes to North Carolina. They’ve flirted with lawmakers, who formed a group to set rules for fracking that ended up as agreeable to the industry as they were objectionable to environmentalists. But the suitors don’t appear ready to walk the aisle.


Don't send old meds down the drain; dispose of them responsibly (Wilmington Star-News) -- We're drinking tiny amounts of the drugs we and our fellow residents take


An end to texting while driving is overdue (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Sometimes it takes a little while for an idea to catch on and a nudge is required. Som-times, a harsh nudge is needed. When it comes to texting or sending emails while driving, we’re all for the harsh and expensive nudges handed out last month by the N.C. Highway Patrol.


How the Civil War Created College Football By (New York Times column) -- [By AMANDA BRICKELL BELLOWS] At a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass., on June 10, 1890, the philanthropist Henry Lee Higginson declared, “I ask to make [Soldiers Field] a memorial to some dear friends who gave their lives … to their country and to their fellow men in the hour of great need — the War of the Rebellion.” The 31 acres of marshlands and pasture that Higginson donated to Harvard College, his alma mater, would serve as the site of the country’s oldest football arena, Harvard Stadium, built over a decade later in 1903. As he memorialized the Civil War dead, the Union veteran addressed a group of 400 male students and alumni, most of whom were too young to have experienced and learned from the horrors of battle during the nation’s bloodiest war. Like Higginson, however, many late-19th-century Americans saw a deep connection between the battlefield and the athletic field, believing that collegiate athletics, including football, could teach the next generation their “own duties as men and citizens of the Republic” and train them to manage “the burden of carrying on this country in the best way.” Amanda Brickell Bellows is a doctoral student in history at the University of North Carolina.