Voting after Florence: Matthew problems on steroids

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The people who most need a new vision in NC government may lose their voice:

Hurricane Florence disrupted daily operations for local governments in North Carolina, including county boards of elections. It's the second time in two years that voting officials have had to improvise just weeks before a General Election. In Craven County, it's deja vu for Director of Elections Meloni Wray. She remembers when Hurricane Matthew hit her office in New Bern two years ago, less than a month before a major election. "The only difference is we didn't actually have our ballots here in-house," Wray said.

The state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement drafted this year's ballots later than usual because of multiple lawsuits against four of this year's six proposed constitutional amendments. It turns out that delay helped avoid what could have been a lot of soggy ballots.

That's kind of an up-beat assessment, but the reality is: If those absentee ballots had been mailed out prior to the storm, at least one leg of the journey would have been completed. As it stands now, post offices are closed, people have been displaced, and getting those absentee ballots into their hands in time is becoming somewhere between difficult and impossible. So early (out of precinct) voting is looking more and more like the only solution. But that means all those carefully-prepared and state-approved county voting plans won't be sufficient, for nearly a third of the state. Even if "scheduled" locations are operational by the time early voting begins, just getting to those places with all the road closures (1,100 right now) is going to be a challenge, to put it mildly. We need a new plan, stat.

Friday News: One-trick elephant

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GEORGE HOLDING PUSHES "TAX RELIEF" BILL FOR HURRICANE FLORENCE VICTIMS: With the cleanup from Hurricane Florence just beginning for many residents of North and South Carolina, three congressmen want to provide storm victims with tax relief. Rep. George Holding of Raleigh introduced the Hurricane Florence Tax Relief Act on Thursday in the U.S. House. The bill is co-sponsored by two of Holding’s fellow Republicans, Rep. David Rouzer of Johnston County and Rep. Tom Rice of Horry County in South Carolina. “FEMA has been on the ground for days and billions of dollars in grants and assistance will be made available to individuals and communities,” Holding said in a statement. “But I have concluded that recovering from a storm of this magnitude will also require creative, outside the box solutions.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article218736590.html

Bravery in the face of male sexual privilege

Hat-tip to Annie Kiyonaga at the Daily Tarheel:

"I remember an eighth grade boy from Mater Dei, an all-boys Catholic middle school in our area, walking up to me and asking me to give him a blowjob. And I distinctly remember telling him to go fuck himself. I remember the adrenaline rush of standing up for myself, and the concurrent swell of queasiness I felt when I thought about this random boy, with his adolescent swagger, feeling entitled enough to ask me for something that I didn’t even fully understand yet. I remember feeling small and ridiculed, despite my big, confident refusal. I was 12."

Follow the link and read the whole thing, including the parade of sexist idiots trying their best to shut her up in the comments. This has been going on seemingly forever, but brave young women like Annie may hold the only key to stopping it, through exposing the disgusting underbelly of our society's biggest blind-spot.

Getting students back to school in Eastern NC a huge challenge

Even when schools reopen, you still have to get them there:

Bounds said school officials are eager to get students back to give them a dry, safe haven and a hot meal. While a couple of Scotland County's schools were without power or water this week, Bounds said the real limiting factor to restarting school is getting to students. Many roads in the area remain flooded or badly damaged.

Bounds said transportation will be the school's biggest challenge, forcing the school district to devise new bus schedules and bus routes. She said she expects that schools from her county all the way east to the coast are facing that same dilemma of how to reach students.

Even roads that appear to be just fine might be ticking time-bombs. From time to time we've seen part of a road collapse due to sinkholes and washouts, it happens several times a year across the state even without a monster storm like Florence. But roads have been collapsing (or on the verge of) in every county affected by the storm, even up in the Piedmont. But maybe even more dangerous for children than collapsing roads is the likelihood of persistent mold growth after their school has been reopened:

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

TRUMP CONGRATULATES MAN WHO HAD YACHT DEPOSITED IN HIS YARD BY HURRICANE: President Trump gazed in wonder on Wednesday at an elegant yacht that had been washed ashore during Hurricane Florence and now lay shipwrecked against the back deck of a red brick house. “Is this your boat?” Mr. Trump asked the homeowner. When the man shook his head and said “No,” the president turned with a grin and replied, “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.” Across the street, where Mr. Trump came across the beached yacht, he told reporters that the homeowner had complained that his insurance company was balking at covering the cost of the damage. “We’re going to find out the name of the insurance company,” Mr. Trump declared. “They don’t know whose boat that is,” he added. “What’s the law? Maybe it becomes theirs.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/19/us/politics/trump-carolina-visit-hurricane.html

Rockingham county sheriff's border wall funding scam

With Hurricane Flo, you might have missed this recent news story, which you can file under "There's a Sucker Born Every Minute".

Rockingham Sheriff Sam Page is promoting a scheme to - get this - raise money for Trump's border wall through a crowdfunding page.

Page recently returned for a trip to the nation’s capital for a meeting with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and 43 sheriffs from 35 states.

Challenges to mitigating flood damage in Lumber River area

When the levee breaks, we'll have no place to stay:

Robeson County’s “Resilient Redevelopment Plan,” conceived after Matthew, called for upgrades to the Lumber River levee and the construction of a floodgate where the levee opens for a railroad crossing. That would prevent what happened during the 2016 storm, when the river poured through the opening into largely low-income neighborhoods of south and west Lumberton. Hundreds of houses were damaged or destroyed.

But the construction of the floodgate requires coordinating with CSX, the freight company that owns the railroad track — or Gov. Roy Cooper (D) to force the issue by declaring eminent domain. Neither scenario has happened yet.

As you can see from the artist's rendering, this proposed floodgate would not only (temporarily) block off a road, but also a rail line. Which might seem a little crazy, until you consider that huge opening in the levee pretty much makes the levee itself almost useless. During Florence, National Guard troops tried to block it with sand bags, but that effort proved fruitless:

Wednesday News: False Prophets

FRANKLIN GRAHAM SAYS SEXUAL ASSAULT BY KAVANAUGH "NOT RELEVANT": Evangelist Franklin Graham said sexual assault accusations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh from when he was a teenager are “not relevant” and that the U.S. Senate should confirm his nomination. Graham made the remarks in an interview Tuesday with the Christian Broadcasting Network. Asked by the CBN interviewer what kind of message his remarks send to sexual abuse victims, Graham replied: “Well, there wasn’t a crime that was committed. These are two teenagers and it’s obvious that she said no and he respected it and walked away.” According to an article published by the Washington Post Sunday, Christine Blasey Ford said when they were in high school in the early 1980s, “Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article218630640.html

Tuesday News: Dreading the inevitable

FLOODING IN SOUTHEAST NC WILL PEAK TODAY AS RIVERS REACH RECORD LEVELS: As the days drag on, Hurricane Florence has taken this deceptive turn: The violent winds that rattled shingles off houses and tore down trees have subsided, and the pounding rain has eased, lulling many in the storm's path into believing they've already weathered the worst of it — even as rivers quietly churn and continue to rise. The storm has claimed at least 25 lives as of Monday evening and an untold number of homes on its slow march across North Carolina, inundating city after city : Wilmington, New Bern, Lumberton. Now authorities are warning that by the time the Cape Fear River in Cumberland County crests Tuesday at 62 feet (19 meters) — 27 feet (8 meters) over its flood stage — it will threaten to swamp anything within a mile on either side of it. Its tributary, the Little River, is expected to flood, too. More than 7,000 people were ordered to evacuate by Sunday afternoon. But many, weary of a storm that's lingered on and on, did their own rough calculus of the odds and decided to stay.
https://www.wral.com/north-carolina-residents-consider-fleeing-as-rivers-rise/17852063/

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