Reporter attacks Democrats for attacking Legislative report

Somebody apparently pushed the wrong buttons:

Democrats charge racism, mischaracterize school report: The state Democratic Party said Wednesday that a new report from an off-session study committee will "break up North Carolina’s county-wide school districts and re-segregate North Carolina’s public schools." It will not.

In fact, the report doesn't recommend any legislation. It says "any future legislation considered by the General Assembly to create a procedure by which citizens may initiate the breakup of large (school systems) will require additional study.” The report also recommends that any division efforts "take care to ensure equality."

I don't usually include headlines when grabbing quotes, but in this case it was necessary to demonstrate the (angry) flavor of the article. Not sure where the animus comes from, but I can guess. Some efforts by political operatives and over-zealous advocates to influence news stories can cross the line, into the area of bullying and harassment. I've seen reporters complain about this on more than one occasion, and those complaints are justified. Let them do their jobs. But even if that is the case, that "irritation" should not bleed into the actual reporting. And as far as that last sentence, I've got three words for this reporter: "Separate But Equal." That was the justification used by Segregationists for decades for keeping black children in their own poorly-funded schools. As to the report itself, which generated this apparent bad blood, it most certainly does give lawmakers a roadmap for re-segregating some of NC's schools:

Thursday News: Winning?


NC'S MIDDLE CLASS WILL PAY HIGHER STATE TAXES THANKS TO TRUMP: Many North Carolinians will be paying more taxes to the state because of the federal tax changes signed into law by President Donald Trump before Christmas, officials said Wednesday. That's good news for the state budget, where lawmakers expect to see an additional $120 million in revenue over the next two years, but not so great for taxpayers. North Carolina uses federal adjusted gross income as a starting point to calculate state taxes. Because AGI is figured after the smaller deductions but before the standard deduction, the state stands to gain because some people will have a higher starting point to figure their taxes.

SCSJ maps the school-to-prison pipeline

Thousands of teens are caught in this downward whirlpool every year:

As in previous years, in 2016-17, black students were overrepresented in every category of exclusionary discipline. Statewide, black students were 4.3 times more likely to be given a short-term suspension than their white classmates, and 3.4 times more likely to be given a long-term suspension. In 17 school districts, the likelihood that black students would be given a short-term suspension as compared to their white peers was even higher than the statewide average.

Let those numbers sink in, especially considering how widespread this problem is. That fact undercuts the "default" conservative claim that this is a gang problem, and not a systemic racism issue. Every step of the way, from elementary school through whatever grade of high school they can climb up to, and then with their first brush with the court system, black males are dealt with as if they were a public health threat, while their white counterparts are given "second chances" over and over (and over) again. If you haven't witnessed this inequality, you haven't been looking. I can't say it better than this:

Wednesday News: Put your money where your mouth is


COOPER WANTS MORE FUNDING FOR DEQ TO ADDRESS GENX CHALLENGES: Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that he plans to include $14.5 million in his recommended budget to address health and safety threats posed by GenX and other emerging contaminants. "Protecting the water we drink and the air we breathe is critical, and my budget recommendations will give state agencies the tools they need to continue keeping North Carolina families healthy," Cooper said in a statement. "Our administration has taken strong action to hold polluters accountable, but we need meaningful investments in water testing, permitting and scientific analysis to protect our environment statewide." Cooper last year sought $2.6 million for the state Department of Environmental Quality and the state Department of Health and Human Services to study GenX and its long-term health effects, but lawmakers provided only $435,000 to the local water authority in Wilmington and scientists at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington studying GenX.

Tuesday News: Domestic terrorism


TWO CHAPEL HILL SCHOOLS ON ALERT AFTER MAN THREATENS TO "SHOOT THEM UP": According to a message from Principal Sulura Jackson sent to parents Monday night, school officials received a second-hand report of a man and woman looking near the school. The man reportedly told four girls, all under the age of 10, that he was going to “shoot up the school” on Tuesday. Jackson said the man reportedly told the girls he had a gun in the camouflage backpack he was carrying. School officials said they have been unable to confirm the credibility of the threat, but will have a noticeable police presence at Smith Middle and Seawell Elementary on Tuesday as a precaution. The incident is the latest in a string of threats received at North Carolina schools since a mass shooting killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

I was wondering about this just last night:

Trump voters have been pretty resilient over his ham-handed leadership since he took office. By "resilient" I mean "blind," of course. Which proves to me they knew ahead of time he would be a disaster, but voted for him anyway because they hoped he would punish the people they don't like. And when your hatred runs that deep, even if you get punished some yourself, it might still seem worth it.

Tariffs on Canadian lumber exacerbate affordable housing crisis

Unnecessary costs like this add up quickly:

The Outer Banks Homebuilders Association is urging its members to contact members of Congress to urge repeal of the Trump Administration’s tariffs on Canadian soft lumber imports. Rising lumber prices have already increased the average price of a single-family home by $6,388 since January of last year, according to the OBHBA and the National Association of Homebuilders. Some of the increases are due to tariffs of more than 20 percent on Canadian softwood lumber shipments into the U.S.

The NAHB points out that U.S. domestic production of softwood lumber is insufficient to meet the demand for construction of houses. According to the NAHB, in 2016, the U.S. consumed 47.1 billion board feet of softwood lumber but domestic producers were only able to supply 32.8 billion, creating a shortfall of over 14 billion.

As with many (even moderately) complex issues, Trump is simply not intelligent enough to grasp the ramifications of his actions. If these tariffs are not removed, there will be a push, probably successfully, to relax U.S. regulations on domestic timber culling. Here in the Southeast, we're already seeing the scourge of the wood pellet industry. Is Europe placing tariffs on that? Oh no, they want us to clear-cut our forests so they won't have to touch theirs. Slapping a tariff on Canadian lumber makes absolutely no sense, no matter which way you look at it.

Monday News: That's not how any of this works

REPUBLICAN CLERK OF COURT TELLS STAFF THEY MUST WORK ON HER CAMPAIGN: The memo said employees would be required to campaign for her, including taking vacation time so they weren't doing political work while on the clock. "You will be required to stand at the polls on May 8th for half day. Vacation leave will (be) taken." was the second item on the list. The third item said staffers were required to attend a Republican forum at a church. She also wrote that she would ask staffers "to go out with me on Saturdays or during the week to speak to people you know. You will take vacation leave." After the memo was published, Surry County Clerk of Court Teresa O'Dell told the Mount Airy News that she doesn't require staff to work for her campaign. She acknowledged that the memo "seemed to indicate otherwise" and sent a follow-up note.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


186,000 SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLDS CAN CHANGE NC. WILL THEY?: Vote – particularly young people. It is one of the strongest refrains coming from the “March for Our Lives,” the political movement that’s grown out of the tragic Parkland, Fla. high school shootings. Voting makes a difference and prompts change. Not voting leaves it to others. For the hundreds of thousands of young people who’ve taken to the streets to demand change, the challenge is at their feet – quite literally. We’ll be able to see the proof behind the rhetoric. Will they register and will they vote? If the protests are a sign of increased young-voter engagement, it will be a wave that could have a big impact – not just in 2018 but for several years to come. It isn’t hard. Early registration is available at most high schools, state Division of Motor Vehicles branches and many other places. There’s information available on line here. See you at the polling place.

This is NOT a drill....

ICYMI, on Friday the Department of Homeland Security put out an ad seeking a contract firm that could monitor over 200,000 journalists and people who post on public media.
Yes, that's right, DHS wants to create a list of journalists, and bloggers, and others, who make public comments. On what topics? Who knows!

Forbes reports:


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