How much did Pat McCrory bribe a company to bubble-wrap in Charlotte?

That would be $36 million of your hard-earned tax dollars, North Carolina. Thanks for nothing, Pat.

Amendment done - 4th circuit rules in favor of marriage equality

From CNN:

The 4th Circuit opinion also will affect marriage laws in other states within its jurisdiction, including West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Only Maryland has legalized same-sex marriage.

Though I believe the opinion is stayed until the Supreme Court likely weighs in next year, this is a precedent that spells an end to amendment one. It didn't even take 20 years. Join Equality NC's celebration at Motorco in Durham at 6:30pm!

Will Pat McCrory veto the budget bill?

Duelling narratives on the plight of Pungo Hospital

The difference between "profitable" and "for the public good":

Instead, O’Neal welcomed the North Carolina NAACP to assist him in painting Vidant as a corporate bully more interested in huge profits than providing quick access to emergency care for the rural, mostly poor residents in and around Belhaven. That narrative simply is not supported by the political and economic realities that led to the closing of Pungo Hospital earlier this month.

The hospital has seen $5.7 million in operating losses since 2011. Federal grants designed to sustain health care services in poor, rural areas have been cut back. That, combined with North Carolina’s refusal to accept Medicaid expansion dollars, contributes largely to an unsustainable business model for a traditional hospital in Belhaven.

Proving that even though all your facts may be in order, you can still be wrong. The hospital was originally constructed to make sure low income folks could receive proper health care, regardless of whether or not said care would be profitable for whoever had the keys to the place. Vidant was well aware of the financial challenges when it purchased the hospital, and so were the people behind the sale:

Daily Dose

THE SPILL
Environmentalists: coal ash bill badly flawed (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- While proposed legislation would require Duke Energy to close ash ponds at its Asheville plant and three other facilities within five years, environmentalists contend the bill has serious flaws. The Southern Environmental Law Center and other groups outlined their concerns with the legislation pending in a conference committee in a letter to Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tom Tillis. The letter states that following the Feb. 2 spill from a Duke ash pond that coated 70 miles of the Dan River with toxic sludge, lawmakers promised a “robust solution” to coal ash pollution. “Instead, the current legislation inexplicably attempts to weaken our state’s existing groundwater protection laws in favor of Duke Energy while allowing Duke to continue polluting state waters and putting our communities at risk,” according to the letter.
http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/07/27/environmentalis...

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The next wave of charter school idiocy coming from ALEC

Opening the floodgates of taxpayer dollars:

(H) Transportation Funding
390
391 (1) The state department of education shall disburse state transportation funding to an
392 authorizer for each of its public charter school students on the same basis and in the same
393 manner as it is paid to school districts. An authorizer shall disburse state transportation
394 funding to a public charter school in proportion to the amount generated by the school’s
395 students.

396 (2) A public charter school may enter into a contract with a school district or private provider
397 to provide transportation to the school’s students.

Bolding mine. There's nothing in the language of this (or any other) cookie cutter model legislation requiring charters to actually provide transportation in lieu of said transportation funding, and North Carolina currently doesn't require charters to provide transportation for students:

A conversation with a friend

This week I had a conversation with a friend who owns an environmental services company. His company provides a range of environmental services, including spill response and cleanup under contract to DOT and DENR. Much of his costs are in payroll, and consumable materials like fuel and cleanup supplies. He also has disposal costs. My friend is also a strong Republican.

My friend complained to me that under the new regime in Raleigh, he is having trouble getting paid for his services. He has some invoices to state agencies that are approaching 180 days past due, with DENR telling him they don't have money to pay him for his services.

GOP reserving public parks for the "well-heeled"

Taking country club exclusivity on the road:

A group of vintage sports car buffs wants use of the park for a daylong “hill climb” on Sept. 11, a Thursday. State officials appear ready to grant the request, assuming the legislation passes, for a $10,000 fee. Key figures in the Pilot Mountain event were heavy donors to the campaign that got McCrory elected in 2012.

“If we see the opportunity to do something for economic development in a rural part of the state, we’re going to listen to that,” said Brad Ives, an assistant environment secretary who oversees parks. “We’re going to expose some well-heeled people to a beautiful part of North Carolina.”

Here's a thought: repeal the tax breaks for those "well-heeled" citizens so we can once again afford to keep the parks open every day. As it stands right now, tourists better do their research before traveling to North Carolina, or they're liable to run into a "Closed" sign at the entrance to a park. That's bad enough, but if they find out they can't get in because some rich folks have "reserved" the park for themselves that day, those tourists will never come back. Those rich folks might not care about that, but our government should.

Daily Dose

THE SPILL
'Living on Water' comes to life (Martinsville Bulletin) -- Yolanda Brown’s favorite part of the “Living on the Water” Festival on Saturday at the Virginia Museum of Natural History was seeing world-champion sand sculptor Alan Matsumoto carving a 7-foot-tall whimsical work. “This is amazing. Look at the hair. Look at the (details) on in,” said Brown, of Martinsville, as she admired Matsumoto sculpting King Neptune, god of the sea in Roman mythology, playing cards with a mermaid. It will contain the words, “Go Fish.” … Brian Williams, program manager in Martinsville/Henry County for the Dan River Basin Association, gave a talk about the Duke Energy coal ash spill and its aftermath called “Heartbreak on the Dan.” During his talk and in an interview, he expressed concerns that only a small fraction of the coal ash that went into the Dan River has been removed, that flooding might stir up remaining coal ash and sediment, and that environmental damage, including marine and wildlife damage, may occur. “The river is not back to normal,” Williams said. “The river is not cleaned up. It’s never going to be cleaned up. How do you live with it?”
http://www.martinsvillebulletin.com/article.cfm?ID=42790

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Of all the stupid things the legislature has done

This one takes the cake: The decision to reduce protections for Jordan Lake, while spending millions on a Rube Goldberg contraption that might or might not make matters worse.

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