NC GOP continues its blatant attack on student voters

A desperate and illogical move to support a bent Watauga County election board:

Attorneys for the state have asked the North Carolina Supreme Court to block an early-voting site on the campus of Appalachian State University in Watauga County. Late Friday afternoon, the North Carolina Court of Appeals agreed, issuing a temporary stay against the site until at least Tuesday and ordering both sides to submit arguments.

The population of Watauga County is not evenly distributed geographically. Students at Appalachian State make up one-third of the county’s population. Thirty-five percent of all early voters in Watauga County in 2012 cast their votes on campus at the school’s Plemmons Student Union, which has been an early voting site since 2008. It’s been the overwhelming site of choice for early voters between 18 and 25 in the past three elections.

Which makes it enemy #1 in the eyes of power-mad Republicans. Which is obvious to anyone looking at the situation, including the NCSBE, who gave their blessing for this patently un-Democratic move against a third of the County. And the state board is well aware of how bad this recent legal move looks, which is why they tried to blame it on Roy Cooper:

Daily dose: NC #1 in outside influence edition

At $55.7 million, N.C. Senate race now No. 1 all-time in outside spending (Center for Responsive Politics) -- Thursday evening, the Koch-affiliated Freedom Partners Action Fund reported making a seven-figure ad buy attacking Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.). With that buy, the North Carolina race passed 2012′s Virginia Senate election to claim the dubious honor of attracting the most-ever outside spending. The $55.7 million spent on the showdown between Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis is even more remarkable in context. By this date in 2012, the Virginia race between now-Sen. Tim Kaine and former Sen. George Allen had seen just $30.4 million of its eventual $52.4 million in outside spending. If the North Carolina election follows the same path, it would top $90 million by Election Day. The Senate contests in Colorado and Iowa are also on pace to handily surpass the Kaine-Allen race. Tillis likely knows all too well how thoroughly super PACs have blanketed North Carolina with advertising this year: Outside groups have spent more money ($17.6 million) attacking him this cycle than any other candidate. Only $7.5 million has been spent opposing Hagan, but that excludes spending that isn’t reported to the FEC — such as the barrage of ads earlier in the cycle by Americans for Prosperity, another Koch-funded group, attacking her for supporting “Obamacare” without explicitly saying to vote against her.

Daily dose: AFP blames Arkansas edition

Americans for Prosperity says NC voter misinformation came from Arkansas (Facing South) -- Under investigation for mailing out misinformation about voter registration in North Carolina, Americans for Prosperity says the errors came from a similar mailer distributed in Arkansas that staff failed to properly vet. In a Sept. 29 letter to elections board executive director Kim Strach, AFP Vice President and General Counsel Victor Bernson Jr. said his group drew from materials it produced for Arkansas, another U.S. Senate battleground state, and failed to fact-check them for accuracy in North Carolina. … Bernson sent his letter before receiving notice from the board that a formal complaint had been filed over the mailer by the North Carolina Democratic Party, according to an Oct. 7letter to Strach from Roger W. Knight, a North Carolina attorney who represents the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF). Knight reiterated that staff error was to blame.

North Carolina solar businesses ready to roll with clean power

North Carolina solar businesses ready to roll with clean power

RALEIGH, NC – 528 solar businesses, including 49 from North Carolina, issued a letter to the White House today, endorsing limits on carbon pollution from power plants and advocating that solar energy become a focal point of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.

NC Supreme Court "snatches" Hofmann Forest case from CoA

But it's doubtful they're coming to the rescue of said forest:

In a surprising move, the N.C. Supreme Court decided Friday that it will hear the long-running and controversial Hofmann Forest case before the state Court of Appeals rules on it. The Supreme Court “snatch” -- in the words of Ron Sutherland, one of the case’s lead plaintiffs -- is but the latest twist in a long-running saga full of them.

The second theory is that the Supreme Court, which has a majority of conservative judges, simply wanted to decide the case instead of letting a more unpredictable appeals court make the ruling, which was due any day. “We hope that this is not the reason,” Sutherland said. “It would be a rather blatant act. But it’s hard to say exactly what the motivation might have been. If it’s this second theory that’s right, all we can do is encourage people to vote for good, honest judges who will look at this case fairly and make what we think is the right decision.”

I can tell you with about 90% accuracy what the motivation was: If the Supremes waited for the CoA's decision, like they usually do, the scope of their approach to the case and subsequent actions (rulings) would have been limited/dictated by the CoA's opinions. By pre-empting the CoA, the higher court can argue based on a smaller set of legal principles and precedent. In other words, they don't want the input of the CoA, and that usually only happens when somebody has already made up their mind. The life expectancy of Hofmann Forest just got a lot shorter.

Daily dose: Charter school oops version

Oops, never mind: Why major university retracted report on charter schools (Washington Post) -- Tulane University released a report this month which said that high schools in charter-heavy New Orleans were “beating the odds” with test scores and graduation rates higher than expected for most students. The report got some attention in education circles because New Orleans is the poster city for charter schools. Furthermore, Tulane is a well-regarded research university so one could rightly assume that the research it publishes is sound. Not, apparently, always. In what one New Orleans newspaper called a “high-profile embarrassment,” Tulane effectively said, “Oops, never mind,” and retracted the report on charter schools that had been released just days earlier. What happened? The initial report, titled “Beating-the-Odds: Academic Performance and Vulnerable Student Populations in New Orleans Public High Schools and published by Tulane’s Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, was viewed as proof that charter schools in the city were achieving better than predicted results for high-needs students. … Not long after the report was posted on line, it was taken down. Why? According to The Times-Picyaune, top officials at the institute realized the research was bad. It quoted institute Executive Director John Ayers as saying, “Officials determined the report’s methodology was flawed, making its conclusions inaccurate. The report will not be reissued.” The institute plans to “thoroughly examine and strengthen its internal protocols” to ensure its future reports are accurate and have been appropriately reviewed, he said, adding, “We apologize for this mistake.” Ayers did not explain what the “mistake” actually was, the newspaper reported. But the controversial method that was used to come up with the predictions is known as VAM (value-added methodology), which purports to be able to take various data points, plug them into complicated formulas and “predict” performance.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Hundreds of NC drinking water wells at risk

And every one of them should be tested:

Duke Energy officials have identified 830 private and public drinking water supply wells near the company’s 32 coal ash storage ponds in North Carolina, according to an initial survey the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources released on Friday. Duke Energy conducted the survey to meet a requirement of the Coal Ash Management Act, which recently became state law.

DENR staff members are reviewing the surveys to determine which wells should be sampled first, and how frequently and how long sampling should continue. The determination will be completed based on the hydrologic potential for impacts to the drinking water wells. The sampling plan can be amended as additional information is gathered about the flow of groundwater and the extent of any detected contamination.

One of the best (only?) ways to determine the flow of groundwater is to test for the migration of specific elements, and the easiest way to do that is to, you know, test all the fricking wells. You can speculate about the flow by examining (what we believe) is the nature of the sub-strata, but computer models won't be much consolation to a family exposed to contamination.

Daily dose: McCrory declares war on France

’FREEDOM CIGS?’ McCrory blasts France for smoking crackdown (The Local .fr) -- France’s ambitious bid to cut smoking rates in the country has not been welcomed by the governor of the state of North Carolina, Pat McCrory. The Republican wrote an angry letter this week to Gérard Araud, the French ambassador to the US, to “formally oppose the project of his government”, Le Figaro reported on Wednesday. McCrory, who is in charge of America’s biggest tobacco producing state, has taken issue with Paris’s pledge to end branding on cigarette packages, a move that proved a success in cutting cigarette use in Australia. He then hints at possible reprisals against France from across the pond. "Imagine if the United States demanded standard packaging on alcoholic drinks. Noteworthy French companies would be outraged, and they would be right to be," McCrory wrote possible referring to the likes of LVMH, Pernod Ricard, Rémy Cointreau.


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