FCC smacks down NC Legislature's bullying of cities

Thanks to the guts and determination of the City of Wilson, muni broadband is back on the menu:

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commissions voted 3-2 to override laws preventing Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C. from expanding the high-speed Internet service the cities already offer to some residents. The vote could embolden other cities that feel they have been underserved by traditional Internet providers, potentially undermining years of lobbying by the telecommunications industry.

The FCC's intervention in Wilson, N.C. is even more dramatic, overturning a range of state laws that the city says artificially limits competition. One provision in North Carolina law bars cities from charging prices that are lower than the private incumbents'. Another requires municipalities to gain public support for a city-run service through a special referendum before borrowing money to fund such efforts. A third effectively prohibits cities from building in "unserved areas," according to Wilson's petition.

Bolding mine. It's becoming almost impossible to keep up with all of the laws Republicans passed that have been blocked, overturned, or have come under serious scrutiny for Constitutionality. Any sane person would realize they were heading in the wrong direction with these facts staring them in the face, but the GOP is notorious for creating conspiracies of strawmen to explain their failures and poor judgment. They're going to have to raise taxes just to pay their legal fees for defending all their mistakes.

"Competing Rights" a Clever Ploy: Crafting a "Religious Liberty Exemption" for NC Magistrates

If you're a public servant, you don't get to choose which parts of your job you will do, and which you won't do. If an action falls within your job responsibilities and scope of duties, you have to do it, unless you've been granted an accommodation due to a disability. That's how I've always understood things.

But, apparently, some North Carolina magistrates and clerks in county register of deeds offices find it unconscionable that they be asked to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples now that Amendment One, the 2012 voter-approved law prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying, has been struck down. (A federal judge ruled it unconstitutional in the fall, after which same-sex couples began marrying throughout the state, and some magistrates and clerks resigned in protest.)

Breaking: The end of marriage in North Carolina

RALEIGH - In a shrewd legislative maneuver, Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger today ushered North Carolina into a new post-coital era. The end of marriage is upon us.

"We're letting any public official who wants to opt out of marrying queers do just that," says Berger. "Unfortunately, they'll also have to opt out of marrying anybody else too. But whatever. At least queers won't be getting hitched."

The new law promises to decimate marriage in North Carolina. Magistrates, county clerks, registers of deeds, and everyone else involved in marriages can now say, "Thanks, but no thanks," knowing they have job protection no matter how little work they actually do.

"That's fine by me," says Berger. "I'm all for white Republican Christians getting paid to sit on their asses. It's only darkies that get under my skin."

In response to the action, a spokesperson for the North Carolina ACLU shook her head and laughed. "Here we go again," she said. Extremists passing laws that won't pass any constitutional smell test. So now the state will be spending millions of taxpayer dollars defending this crap in court."

UPDATE: Read the bill itself. And then encourage every public official you can think of to "just say no" in enabling any marriage.

What does it mean to be a good corporate citizen?

I want to like Duke Energy. Really I do. They're a giant company and they could do so much good. In fact, they do do a lot of good. Except when they lie. The Dan River spill was the result of convenient neglect and what should be considered criminal coverup. The risks were created knowingly over decades in concert with a toothless DENR. And now we get a bunch of double talk?

You can't lie and be a good corporate citizen.

My advice to Duke Energy is to come clean. Confess your transgressions and promise to do everything you can to be a better company. Use this as a learning moment. Move us rapidly toward renewables. Embrace citizen producers. Be honest and fair in your dealings. Actually put people before profits. You could do this if you wanted to. And you'd win beyond your wildest dreams. So why don't you?

Coal Ash Wednesday: Friday news dump with Kool-Aid chaser

It's pretty bad when Florida doesn't approve of your behavior:

The country's biggest power company, the parent of Duke Energy Florida, invoked a classic PR move last week by issuing a news release at 4:20 p.m. on a Friday, shortly before the end of the workweek.
That timing often signals something bad has happened that the culprit hopes will get ignored in the weekend crush.

After reading Duke's spin, I felt like I should send flowers to the company for going the extra mile in hard times. But let's skip the Kool-Aid and look at what Duke chose not to acknowledge. Duke's is not pursuing a "proposed agreement" but pleading guilty to multiple environmental crimes — nine violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

All things considered, it is a fairly hefty fine for environmental wrongdoings. The massive TVA spill of a few years before, which released over a billion gallons of coal ash downstream, only cost the TVA $11.5 million in fines and $27.8 million in a class-action suit from affected landowners. But the funny (or not-so-funny) thing about comparing the two is: TVA has cleaned up and properly disposed of between 75%-85% of that 1.1 billion gallons spilled, while Duke Energy left over 90% of their spilled coal ash in the Dan River. One of many reasons their $102 million in fines is simply not enough.

Daily dose: AWOL Tata version

As winter storm snarls N.C. traffic, DOT chief promotes book (WRAL-TV) -- A winter storm that dumped inches of snow across North Carolina Tuesday caught state transportation crews by surprise . But when state Transportation Secretary Tony Tata appeared on CNN Tuesday afternoon, it was to talk about his new military thriller, not problems on the roadways.
http://www.wral.com/as-winter-storm-snarls-traffic-transportation-chief-promotes-new-book/14467992/

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