Tillis caves, agrees to participate in debate

Thom Tillis, apparently acknowledging the tightening race for the NC GOP US Senate nomination, hiked up his big boy pants and agreed to participate in WRAL's debate after previously declining.

State House Speaker Thom Tillis says he will participate in a WRAL News debate on April 23.

Tillis initially declined the invitation, citing a scheduling conflict.

What was his scheduling conflict? An earlier story reveals that:

Koch Brothers attack renewable energy in NC

Trying to sever residential Solar from the grid:

The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation's largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.

The institute has warned power companies that profits could erode catastrophically if current policies and market trends continue. If electricity companies delay in taking political action, the group warned in a report, "it may be too late to repair the utility business model." The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a membership group for conservative state lawmakers, recently drafted model legislation that targeted net metering. The group also helped launch efforts by conservative lawmakers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green energy mandates.

The "utility business model" is in no danger from renewable energy. Companies like Duke Energy have seen a vast increase in the amount of power generated from these sources, and their profits are healthier than ever. And for Conservatives to fight net-metering makes no sense at all. It is (by far) the most efficient means of handling Solar PV, as any excess power generated is used by somebody else on the grid. Then again, their claims of "efficiency" may just be another of the masks they wear to fool voters.

Seven months, no public records

Back in September -- 7 months ago -- the Raleigh News & Observer made a public records request of Queen Aldona's realm. They asked for emails of Carol Steckel (you remember Carol, she was hired as the savior of NC's Medicaid program and lasted 8 months under Queen Aldona before she abruptly resigned).

It’s been 205 days since The News & Observer requested emails of former state Medicaid director Carol Steckel.

What could possibly take so long?

Haywood County GOP crisis deepens

The rift between "establishment Republicans" and tea party activists continues to widen in Haywood County. See the report from the Smoky Mountain News April 9 edition.

Moogfest uninvites Pat

Although Moogfest organizers appear to be trying to be as vague and polite as possible, Deputy Assistant Guvnor Pat's office says that Pat was uninvited to the annual music, technology and innovation festival.

McCrory Communications Director Josh Ellis said in a statement Friday evening that, "It was at the request of Moogfest organizers that we changed our plans to attend this event."

Gee, who wouldn't want the state's governor at their festival?

Shortly after his attendance was announced, local residents organized a protest for during his visit.

Oh. Politics.

Greasing the skids for fracking

North Carolina continues its headlong pursuit of fracking, accelerating the development of the rules that the NCGA requires to be in place before drilling starts.

The state commission that’s creating safety standards for fracking raced through 48 rules Wednesday under a legislative deadline to prepare North Carolina for shale gas exploration by next spring.

The Energy & Mining commission, charged with developing the rules, is stacked with industry pro-fracking members and it's pretty clear that the intent is just to get some rules in place that the industry will accept so that we can get on with poisoning the environment.

Their most recent meeting made that abundantly clear:

Ken Spaulding

Last fall I heard Ken Spaulding speak for the first time. As candidates for governor, we had both been invited to a meeting of the Chatham County Democratic Party.

When Ken took the podium, he talked personally and extemporaneously about the challenges facing North Carolina under the Republican reign of terror. He cited a litany of familiar insults to our state and our constitution, and called for those in attendance to wake up and step up. He promised he would not stand by while other candidates were "anointed and appointed" to represent the Democratic party. This veiled reference to Attorney General Cooper is one of the things that caught my interest and attention.

Fast forward to today and you'll see that Ken Spaulding has definitely not been standing by. Not only is he challenging the establishment with an aggressive grassroots campaign, he is also challenging the inevitability of Roy Cooper's nomination.

AG Cooper still fighting Duke Energy rate hike

The NC Supreme Court is not as supreme as it thinks:

A year ago, the state Supreme Court struck down a rate increase that the state Utilities Commission awarded to Duke Energy Corp. and ordered the panel to reconsider the increase in light of its impact on consumers. Now, Cooper is appealing the same increase to the high court, arguing that the Utilities Commission ignored the ruling.

“The court has already ruled once that consumers must be taken into account when setting utility profits but it still hasn’t happened,” Cooper said in a statement. “Even when given a second chance to get it right, the commission didn’t really consider consumers and approved the exact same rate hike.”

And as long as we allow this flawed formula to continue, where a rule-making commission is tasked with being concerned about profits for wealthy shareholders, many of whom do not even live in North Carolina, the unfairness will be ever-present. Any other private industry would need to dip into profits or borrow to make infrastructure improvements, which would force them to calculate the true need and ROI for such, and Duke Energy should be no different.

Did Frazier Glenn Miller commit a 1987 NC gay triple murder?

Raw Story has a heart-wrenching piece about the ties of Frazier Glenn Miller, the white supremacist who shot and killed three people at a Kansas City community center, to a highly publicized 1987 triple murder in Shelby, North Carolina. (Kudos to Matt Comer, editor of NC's Q-Notes, who co-authored the story.)

The brutal murders created quite a sensation at the time and was one of several crimes against gays in the South in the 70s and 80s - fires at gay nightclubs and murders and disappearances of gay men - that made being out much more dangerous than it is today.

Two-Faced Tillis: a half-million dollars' worth of lies

When the truth doesn't fit your narrative, just change it:

House Speaker Thom Tillis’ claim to have fired two staff caught up in a lobbyist sex scandal in 2012 doesn’t stand up to scrutiny or the public record, and his campaign should remove it from North Carolina airwaves.

The ad, which has more than $500,000 backing it according to Roll Call, contains no backup to the claim that Tillis "fired" his staffers. And Tillis’ own spokesman has repeatedly refused to make the same claim -- that Tillis "fired" the staff in question -- when discussing the ad. The Raleigh News & Observer, upon asking for a justification of the firing claim, was told that Tillis “initiated the action of asking for their resignation.”

If Tillis did "ask" for their resignations, which is not a foregone conclusion, it's only because the affairs were made public and forced his hand. But over and above the parsing of words, the intent of the ad itself is false: to make people believe he dealt with the problem in a rapid and harsh fashion. Here's a little historical context which completely undermines that message:

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