Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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LEGISLATORS-BRIBES DON'T WORK. STOP BUDGET SPIN. SINCERELY NEGOTIATE WITH GOV. COOPER: Rather than appealing to the angels of our better nature, the leaders of the General Assembly have gone whole-hog to override the governor’s veto. Touring the state, in statements for news reports as well as commentary and columns placed throughout the state, legislators are echoing the talking points coming out of Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore’s offices. They warn funding for $383.1 million in pet projects in home districts – known as pork barrel -- are in jeopardy because of Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto. Only an override will assure the projects are funded. These statements and commentaries fail to reveal that the same legislators had little or no interest in funding most of the projects – regardless of their worthiness – until they desperately needed a ploy to attack Gov. Roy Cooper.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-legislators-bribes-don-t-work-stop-budget-spin-sincerely-negotiate-wi...

Saturday News: Wheels are coming off the bus

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BATTLE CONTINUES OVER MARK JOHNSON'S ISTATION READING ASSESSMENT CONTRACT: The company that lost out on a new multi-million dollar contract to test the reading skills of North Carolina elementary school students is appealing the decision and asking that the new contract be put on hold. Amplify Education Inc. asked the state Department of Information Technology on Friday to throw out the three-year, $8.3 million contract that State Superintendent Mark Johnson awarded to Istation to test K-3 students. Last week, Johnson upheld his decision to pick Istation instead of continuing to use Amplify’s mClass program. “Today Amplify filed a Request for Administrative Hearing with the NC Department of Information Technology, which has the final agency authority to issue a decision on the DPI contract award,” Larry Berger, Amplify’s chief executive officer, said in a statement Friday. “Also, we asked DIT to stay, or pause, the contract award to Istation before the start of the school year, while the protest is under consideration.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article233457362.html

Friday News: Petty tyrants

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REPUBLICANS FORCE FRESHMAN DEMOCRAT OUT OF HIS OFFICE SPACE: Rep. Ray Russell, D-Watauga, found out Thursday that he's changing offices mid-session, moved by the Republican leadership to one of the legislature's many windowless, concrete-wall rooms. Russell was in his district Thursday but said House Rules Chairman David Lewis, R-Harnett, visited his legislative assistant at the General Assembly with the news. "(Lewis said) he's sorry to tell me, but they needed my office," Russell said. "They needed to move Cody Henson's replacement into my office." Henson, R-Transylvania, resigned last week after pleading guilty in a domestic cyberstalking case. With the ongoing budget standoff making every vote key, local Republicans moved quicker than usual to name a replacement, going with Polk County Commissioner Jake Johnson, according to local media.
https://www.wral.com/freshman-democrat-told-to-change-offices-mid-session/18545144/

Dale Folwell is not a "friend" of state employees

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Friends don't try to get your children booted off your health insurance:

Since he took office in 2017, Folwell has repeatedly advanced or acquiesced to policies that would ultimately reduce the number of people on the SHP rolls. In May of 2017, for example, state employees received an email and letter sent via “junk mail” rate postage instructing them to resubmit a copy of the first page of their tax returns, or children’s birth certificates in order to prove they are not fraudulently covering spouses or dependents under the SHP.

After receiving the letter, I for one thought that it was a scam since it had all the telltale signs, and I had already recently submitted my tax return to prove that my children are my children, and are eligible to be covered on my plan. Folwell’s letter said I had to submit copies of their birth certificates by July 31 through an online portal, or my children would be removed from my health insurance plan on August 1. Six hundred people were removed from the SHP for the rest of 2017. Of that number, how many were actually fraudulent?

In a sane world, the employees' union would have pushed back on that, and made sure that nobody (or their children) fell through the cracks. But "sane" and "SEANC" probably shouldn't be used in the same sentence. Tweets I saw back then were completely supportive of Folwell's "fraud" claims, and SEANC's website itself published Folwell's entire statement with no comments or rebuttal:

Thursday News: Warehousing children

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ROBESON FACILITY WITH REVOKED LICENSE GETS $3.9 MILLION TO DETAIN MIGRANT CHILDREN: Within 45 days of the facility opening its doors, state officials gave its operator, New Horizon Group Home LLC, hours to shut them again, saying conditions presented “an imminent danger to the health, safety and welfare” of the boys housed there. Yet barely one year later, the federal government awarded New Horizon a $3.9 million grant to house up to 72 children – migrant kids navigating the Trump administration's border policy alone. The federal Administration for Children and Families, which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, awarded the grant to New Horizon despite the fact that the company has gone months without a required state license to house any children. And if the state’s prior action against the facility holds up to an ongoing legal challenge, the group home operator will have gotten at least some of that federal grant money despite being prevented from housing any children for the next four years.
https://www.wral.com/unlicensed-nc-company-with-troubled-history-gets-4m-to-house-migrant-children/1...

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