Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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INCESSANT TAX CUTS ARE RUNNING OUT STATE INTO THE GROUND: North Carolina tax cuts have primarily benefited large corporations and high income people. There is little evidence that this grows the economy. (We don't believe in trickle down any more than we believe in the Easter bunny.) By resisting any increases in the minimum wage, our legislative leaders’ policies are keeping a lid on disposable income. They’ve expanded sales taxes to more items and services as they’ve eliminated popular programs like the back-to-school sales tax-free weekend and the sales tax holiday on Energy Star appliances. None of these actions increase consumer purchasing power. Rather than continue with tax cut obsessions, legislative leaders need to focus first on what North Carolina needs to have – well paid teachers and school administrators; best-in-the-nation schools and universities; access for all to affordable health care and; a top quality of life. If there’s anything left over after that, only then should any adjustments in revenues be considered.
http://www.wral.com/obsessive-tax-cutting-hurts-n-c-economy-neglects-critical-needs/16656309/

Saturday News: Veto time, baby

GOVERNOR COOPER REJECTS ATTEMPTS TO SHUFFLE COURTS AND ELECTION BOARDS: Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed bills that would cut the state appeals court by three judges and deny the governor’s political party control of the state elections board. The legislature is likely to vote to override the vetoes. House Bill 239 would reduce the state Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 members, which would prevent replacement of three Republican judges approaching mandatory retirement age. Senate Bill 68 would consolidate the state elections and ethics boards. The new board would have eight members, four from each major political party, with a Republican chairman in presidential-election years and a Democratic chairman in midterm-election years. Local elections boards would also be split. A three-judge panel struck down an earlier attempt by Republicans to merge the boards.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article145960749.html

Kakistocracy: NC GOP chooses man who sued Elections Board to sit on Elections Board

Civitas' Francis De Luca is the last name that should have come up:

Republicans’ latest attempt to overhaul the state’s elections and ethics board is still awaiting Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto stamp, but the N.C. Republican Party is already nominating members for the new board. Once Cooper vetoes the bill, the House and Senate are expected to override the veto and pass the bill into law. Based on the initial votes on April 11, it appears Republicans have the three-fifths majority needed for a successful override.

That likelihood appears to have prompted N.C. Republican Party chairman Robin Hayes to announce his picks on Thursday. He proposed a list of six candidates, and if the bill becomes law – and isn’t put on hold by courts – Cooper would pick four. Here’s who Hayes picked: Francis De Luca of Cary, leader of the conservative Civitas Institute and a former Ethics Commission member. De Luca sued the State Board of Elections last year seeking to delay the counting of absentee ballots. Stacy “Four” Eggers IV of Boone, a former member of Watauga County Board of Elections.

Don't really care about the other four, because these two dudes take the proverbial cake. Four Eggers is notorious for suppressing the vote on the local level in Watauga County, but De Luca set his sights much higher, challenging the votes of thousands of his fellow citizens, and trying his best to get rid of a process on which countless voters rely, Same-Day Registration:

Friday News: Astroturfing the Triad

BELTWAY GROUP ORGANIZES OPPOSITION TO "WELCOMING CITY" RESOLUTION: An online petition to prevent Winston-Salem City Council from passing a “welcoming city” resolution is generating a Washington beltway publicity push through a privately held conservative influence outfit with a murky funding structure. Although Councilman Dan Besse withdrew a “welcoming city” resolution from consideration on Monday, Stand United is working to promote opposition to the resolution in the event that it is resurrected. Triad City Beat received an email from a strategic communications fellow at the Pinkston Group, an East Coast public relations firm that specializes in “earned-media exposure,” on Thursday morning with an offer to facilitate an interview with Stand United about the effort to kill the “welcoming city” resolution.
https://triad-city-beat.com/2017/04/beltway-influence-machine-lends-aid-welcoming-city-fight/

Makers vs. sellers: Craft brewers thrown under the bus by NC GOP

If you don't pay, you don't play:

Charlotte’s two biggest craft brewers appear headed to court after a campaign to raise their production limit collapsed in the face of opposition from North Carolina’s influential beer wholesalers. Olde Mecklenburg and NoDa breweries have spearheaded the so-called Craft Freedom fight, a bid to raise the 25,000-barrel cap on production before craft brewers must enter a distribution contract with a wholesaler. But House Bill 500, which would have raised the cap to 200,000 barrels, was gutted Wednesday, barely three weeks after it was introduced amid fanfare and support from the state’s more than 200 craft brewers.

“I’d say it’s disappointing, but disappointing doesn’t do it justice,” said John Marrino, owner of Olde Mecklenburg. “It’s outrageous. It’s backroom politics. … I’m not sure the General Assembly is the best avenue to ensure the success of the micro-brewery industry in North Carolina.”

Welcome to the cesspool that is Republican policy-making. They'll spout rhetoric all day long about the glory of the Free Market, but when it comes down to the wire, they will support monopolies every single time. Money = Freedom, and a lack of money equals subservience.

Duke Energy positioning itself for coal ash-related rate increase

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Apparently profits are more important than fairness and responsibility:

Duke Energy responded sharply Wednesday to criticism from the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office and others who have questioned the utility’s opening move toward a rate increase that would help cover its coal ash cleanup costs.

The corporate attorneys told the commission in a filing late Wednesday that Duke Energy’s coal ash predicament meets the “criteria for granting a deferral,” a special accounting technique enabling it to set aside more than $700 million in accumulated coal ash costs for consideration in the upcoming rate case. “Denial of the request would adversely affect the companies’ financial stability,” they added.

That is, if you'll excuse the quaint terminology, a bleeding crock. Duke Energy has been paying a dividend to its shareholders every quarter for well over a half-century, and that dividend got a 4% bump towards the end of last year. But what's really ironic about their whining about coal ash, is how much they've invested in fracked natural gas distribution:

Thursday News: The people's court

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COMMON CAUSE AND CITIZENS FILE LAWSUIT ON SPECIAL SESSION SHENANIGANS: The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court contends that Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, president of the state Senate, Phil Berger, president pro tempore of the state Senate, and Tim Moore, speaker of the state House of Representatives, violated North Carolinians’ rights when they took up the bills in a three-day session in December without laying out to the public what was on the agenda. “Legislative leaders used the tragedy of a hurricane to conceal a sneak attack on the authority of a properly elected governor,” Morrison said. “There was not even a pretense of proper procedure and public input.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article145578589.html

Where in the world is Carl Vinson?

After much chest-thumping by chicken-hawks, the carrier group finally heads towards the Korean Peninsula:

On April 9, Adm. Harry Harris said the carrier strike group was headed north to the Western Pacific after departing Singapore on April 8. A spokesperson for U.S. Pacific Command linked the move directly to North Korea's "reckless, irresponsible and destabilizing program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability." Days later, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters the Carl Vinson was "on her way up there." In an interview that aired April 12, President Trump said the U.S. was sending ships. "An armada, very powerful," he said.

It is not clear why the carrier strike group never left Southeast Asia, or why the Trump administration did not clarify where she was. On Tuesday, Pacific Command said only that the strike group completed military exercises - and would now head north.

It's actually abundantly clear: You don't cancel training missions (or any other missions) at the drop of a hat (or an asshat). The Strike Group is composed of the carrier and a handful of cruisers and destroyers, and retasking them to go off-mission is a very big deal. Not only does it cost a shitload of money, it screws up capabilities in the entire theater. It's obvious Trump has no grasp of military operations, but it's also becoming obvious he doesn't comprehend geography either. 3,000+ nautical miles is more than just a quick road trip. In other words, don't hold your breath...

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