Public investment, private profit? Broadband bill has serious flaws

The need is great, but the need to do it right may be even greater:

(a) A county shall have the authority to construct facilities or equipment of a broadband service as defined by G.S.62-3 for the purpose of leasing such facilities or equipment, in accordance with G.S.160A-272, to one or more lessees who are not a governmental unit as defined in G.S.160A-274.16. (b) A board of county commissioners may utilize ad valorem tax levies authorized under 17G.S.153A-149(c), grants, or any other unrestricted funds in exercising authority granted under this section.

Bolding mine, because caveats kind of piss me off. A few years ago, Republicans in the General Assembly basically outlawed municipalities from constructing and operating broadband networks, ostensibly because they represented "unfair competition" to private companies. Said companies lobbied the hell out of Legislators to make that happen, but since then have done little (or nothing) to bring broadband into areas that desperately need it. The above bill, as you can see, pulls the cost of construction out of the hands (wallets) of taxpayers, and gives whatever profits are made to private sector entities. What happens when said company starts raising rates above what people are willing (or able) to pay? I see no mechanism for the municipality in question to regulate that. There is also no mechanism for the municipality to take over operation in case of mismanagement, or if said private company decides to pull out of the lease agreement. In the absence of those mechanisms, this bill is terminally flawed.

UNC's interim President in hot water over conflicts of interest

You can't serve five masters:

William Roper, the current interim president of the University of North Carolina system and former longtime CEO of the UNC Health Care System, failed to disclose his seats on the boards of major corporations between 2011 and 2019, at the same time as those corporations did business with the state, records show.

None of his corporate board service was disclosed on state ethics forms until last week, when Roper filed amended forms in response to an inquiry from WBTV for this story.

James and I discussed some of these issues on our radio program nine years ago, and finding these potentially unethical connections (or overlaps) is not always easy. Google searches often drill down into corporate press releases, but the names of board members rarely show up in those broad searches. By the same token, when searching an individual, you may not see their corporate affiliation until you get to page 7 of the search. And you can forget LinkedIn, because that is almost exclusively information provided by the member, and if he/she doesn't want a connection to be made, well. Anyway, back to this story, and the dueling salaries involved:

Wednesday News: Health care train wreck

BILL THAT WOULD POSTPONE AND STUDY FOLWELL'S FOLLY STUCK IN NC SENATE: The original deadline for health care providers to sign a contract with the State Health Plan – agreeing to the state-set payment rates – was July 1. Folwell reopened that deadline, to Monday night. Since neither of Charlotte’s major hospital systems, Atrium Health and Novant Health, signed on to Folwell’s “Clear Pricing Plan,” they would be considered out of network for state employees in 2020. State-owned hospital system UNC Health didn’t sign on to the plan either, even after a Monday meeting with Folwell. A bill calling for a financial study of the proposed State Health Plan passed the North Carolina House of Representatives in April, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. House Bill 184 would create a committee to study the sustainability of the plan and delay its implementation. But the bill has been stuck in a Senate committee since April.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article233531127.html

Tuesday News: Fun, sun, and fecal matter?

NC'S BEACHES CONTAMINATED BY SEWER RUNOFF: More than 100 North Carolina beaches and waterways were potentially unsafe for swimming at least one day last year because they were contaminated with bacteria that makes people sick. A report by Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center released Monday said 127 of 213 areas in the state had levels of fecal contamination that made swimming unsafe on at least one day in 2018. Fecal contamination comes from runoff, sewer overflows and leaks, and industrial farms, the report said. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality tests water at 204 coastal beaches weekly or every other week between April and September, twice a month in October, and monthly from November through March, and posts advisories on its website. Four of the top 10 sites in North Carolina with potentially unsafe swimming days were in Beaufort County. A Pamlico Sound access point in Belhaven had 11 potentially unsafe days, the most recorded in the state, according to the report.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article233545667.html

Tuesday Twitter roundup

If not now, when?

They shouldn't have to do this, but Republican leaders have neither the desire nor the courage to protect our citizens.

Federal debt projected to reach 28 Trillion by 2029

I've never been much of a deficit hawk, but this is crazy:

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government — aka U.S. taxpayers — will spend $455 billion on interest next year. By 2029, that figure is projected to rise to $921 billion.

Beginning next year, he said, the federal government will spend more on interest than it will on programs affecting children. By 2025, he said, taxpayers will pay more on interest than they do on national defense. “Our budget will be spending more on our past than we do on our future,” Peterson said. “That’s a stark reminder of what we’re leaving our children here.”

Reaganomics was bad enough, when excessive tax cuts for the wealthy ended up with Social Security recipients paying fricking tax on their own retirement money. But Trumpism has broke the mold, and we will look back on the $1.5 Trillion tax giveaway as the epitome of ignorance by the time 2030 hits. And before you say, "they always do it," take a look at the late 1990's:

Monday News: Equality wins

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GOVERNOR COOPER ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER BANNING CONVERSION THERAPY: No taxpayer money should be used for “conversion therapy” practices that treat being gay as a mental illness, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday when he signed a new executive order targeting the controversial therapy. “No child should be told that they must change their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Kendra R. Johnson, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group Equality NC, in a press release. “We’re grateful that Gov. Cooper agrees. We are committed to ending this debunked practice and will work for statewide protections.” Conversion therapy is the process of trying to force LGBTQ people to change their sexual identity or preference. It can use techniques ranging from prayer to electrical shocks. The American Psychiatric Association considers it an unethical practice with “no credible evidence” to back it.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233442222.html

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