More local shenanigans via NC Senate Republicans

Wesley Meredith is out of control:

Last September, the state House squelched controversial legislation that would have yanked about $5.5 million of hotel tax money away from the Cumberland County Tourism Development Authority and given it to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. Late this week, in the waning days of the 2016 session of the General Assembly, the hotel tax legislation came back to life in the state Senate, much to the surprise and consternation of some officials in Cumberland County.

Now Meredith is trying again to pass the legislation. He refused to discuss the bill late Friday. "I don't have any comment," he said.

Well, there you go. Apparently what Meredith does in his capacity as a public official is nobody's business but his own.

Saturday News: Cooper won, McCrory zero

GOV RACE STARTS WITH A FLURRY (Charlotte Observer column) – If Pat McCrory hasn’t fully realized what a heavyweight bout he is in, he does now after Roy Cooper delivered a series of hooks and uppercuts in the first round of their championship fight in Charlotte Friday. No N.C. governor has ever run for a second term and lost, but McCrory could be the first.

MCCRORY, COOPER ON ATTACK IN FIRST DEBATE (WRAL-TV) -- Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper gave a glimpse Friday of the charges and counter-charges North Carolina residents can expect to hear over the next four-plus months as the men battle to win the gubernatorial race in the November election.

Brexit vote reflects alarming increase in xenophobia

And it would be foolish to not attribute some of it to Trumpism:

For months, the political and economic elite had looked on with growing apprehension as Britain flirted with a choice — popularly known as Brexit — that experts had warned could lead to global recession and a rip in the Western alliance. The vote could also lead to Scottish secession, a broader E.U. unraveling and the fall of Prime Minister David Cameron’s government.

But most analysts had predicted this pragmatically minded country would ultimately back away from the move, and opt to keep Britain in an organization regarded as a pillar of the global economic and political order. Instead, a majority of British voters heeded the call of pro-Brexit campaigners to liberate the nation from what many here regard as an oppressive Brussels bureaucracy that enables mass migration into the country.

At first glance, the results appear eerily similar to what we see here in North Carolina and many other red/purple states: Major metropolitan areas swing one way (remain) while rural areas chose another (leave). But a deeper look into the votes reveals some good news. Voters aged 18-49 overwhelmingly chose to remain, to not succumb to anti-immigrant fervor. Again, very similar to how young people over here feel about race and immigration. But while the "Trump effect" may be dying, it's a slow death that may take longer than we'd care to wait:

*Author's note: We usually try to keep BlueNC content relevant to North Carolina issues, but Brexit may have consequences that reach us even here.

Friday News: Why we can't have nice things


CRITICS CHARGE AN ILL WIND BLOWS FROM RALEIGH (Coastal Review) -- Supporters say a bill passed last week by the state Senate will protect vital military air space from land-based wind farms, while opponents charge it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing and is intended to kill wind energy.

STIFLING RENEWABLES (Greensboro News & Record editorial) -- Some N.C. politicians say they oppose tax credits and subsidies because they don’t think the government should be picking winners and losers in private industry. But they are clearly doing just that in regard to the state’s energy future. Bills in the N.C. House and Senate would deliver a knockout punch for solar and wind power development in North Carolina.

Senate wants tens of millions more for private school vouchers

The exsanguination of public school funding increases:

In their version of the budget, Senate Republicans have a plan to grow a large reserve fund for the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The scholarships, or vouchers, are given to low-income parents so they can pay to send their children to private rather than public schools.

Senators plan to increase the amount of money set aside by $10 million annually, enough to accommodate 2,000 additional students each year. By 2028, the state would be setting aside $145 million. But advocates and critics are divided on whether there’s demand for such an expansion.

Even if the demand was there, and it isn't, funneling these levels of taxpayer dollars into private schools is a mistake. And spending public revenues on religious institutions increases that mistake tenfold. We (through our elected state and local governments) have no way to monitor or regulate how those dollars are spent, what quality of education is received, or whether these children are even safe from potential predators in their midst. And this anecdotal account does not impress me one iota:

Thursday News: No Bill, No Break

N.C. CONGRESSWOMAN TO NRA: ‘GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY’ (Charlotte Observer) -- Charlotte-area congresswoman told the National Rifle Association on Wednesday to “get the Hell out of the way” as lawmakers try to hash out a compromise on gun control legislation.

BUTTERFIELD AMONG DEMOCRATS STAGING SIT-IN (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield was among the nearly 200 Democrats who staged a sit-in Wednesday to force a House vote on gun control measures.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Real environmental justice, or just another delaying tactic?


We love the Federal government, we hate the Federal government, we love the Federal government:

At a public hearing earlier this year about the Dan River plans, several African-American residents argued against the proposal, saying it placed an unfair burden on the overall community. At the hearing, Assistant DEQ Secretary Tom Reeder pledged that the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory would complete an “environmental justice review of each Duke Energy coal ash landfill application” and seek approval from both EPA’s office of civil rights and the federal civil rights commission.

“The McCrory administration will go beyond federal and state requirements to protect minority communities from negative impacts when evaluating Duke Energy’s applications to store coal ash in a new landfill,” Reeder said at the time.

I will freely admit, I often try to ascribe nefarious motives when McCrory administration officials wax altruistic. Can't help it. When taken in context with other statements and behaviors, the odds they're genuinely concerned seem extremely low. Also, I just spent over an hour scouring DEQ's website searching for references to "environmental justice" and trying to track down the Division/department/agent(s) responsible for doing these reviews. Might as well have been looking for a four-leaf clover. I do welcome Federal oversight on this issue, because there are some serious questions about the appropriateness of this evaluation:


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