GOP higher ed reform: Pay more for tuition

Keeping these ideologues in office is very costly:

The basic cost to attend UNCG probably will go up by $261 — about 4 percent — next year. UNCG trustees will vote on a two-year package of tuition and fee hikes this morning. The proposal then goes to the UNC Board of Governors, which will set costs for the next two academic years at its February meeting.

UNCG wants to raise required student fees by $64 next year — about 2.5 percent — and $90 the year after. Next year’s fees will go largely to a new green fund to support campus environmental programs, improve the campus wireless network and offer more on-campus activities for students. In 2016-17, the entire $90 increase will cover expenses related to the opening of a new student recreation center.

And in the process of paying for these nice things, UNCG is pricing out some of their students from the lower end of the economic scale. Meaning, they won't be there to enjoy those things, or continue their education. I'm not blaming UNCG for this; state government funding cuts will naturally shift costs somewhere else. But it's not fair, and it's not sustainable:

Daily dose: First the Dan, now the Yadkin

Conservation groups say Duke Energy plant leaks coal ash into river (LA Times) -- Three environmental groups said Thursday that they have discovered toxic coal ash leaks from a retired Duke Energy coal plant in North Carolina, allegedly polluting the Yadkin River nine months after a massive coal ash spill from a Duke plant fouled the nearby Dan River in February. The groups, which posted photos of the reported leaks, said the alleged discharges have not been disclosed by Duke Energy or by state environmental regulators. The leaks stretch for at least a quarter of a mile along the Yadkin River in central North Carolina, coating the river’s banks with orange sludge, the groups said. Coal ash stored in 33 ponds at 14 Duke Energy plants in North Carolina has been a volatile political issue since the Feb. 2 spill coated 70 miles of the Dan River with toxic sludge from an ash storage pond at Duke’s Dan River plant. A Duke Energy spokesman said the utility regularly surveys all its coal ash sites for seeps, including the Yadkin river plant, and reports all findings to state environmental regulators. "Seeps occur at low flows and contain low levels of constituents, so the Yadkin River would be continue to be well protected and would not be influenced by these type of flows,’’ said the spokesman, Jeff Brooks. A spokesman for the state Department of Environmental and Natural Resources said the agency will visit the Yadkin River site to test water quality "to determine if there are any exceedances of water quality standards." The spokesman, Jamie Kritzer, said the agency would take "appropriate actions’’ based on the results.

Troxler correct in challenging conservation land swap

Removing the "Trust" from the formula:

Troxler cast the lone vote against the land deal at Tuesday’s Council of State meeting. At issue is a 20-acre tract of land deeded to the state under a conservation easement. The easements are popular among farmers who don’t want their land to ever be developed.

But developers are eyeing the Edenton site as an ideal spot for an unnamed boat manufacturer that’s considering bringing 300 jobs to the area. State environmental officials have worked out a deal that trades the 20 acres for a separate 60-acre site that will be put under a conservation easement.

First off, the amount of acreage swapped may have little bearing on the overall environmental impact of the proposed development. I'd like to think DENR was aware of that when putting this together, but my confidence in their approach to such things these days is lacking, to say the least. Second (and more important), every time we pull a stunt like this, we're sending a message to future conservation-minded donors that their wishes will only be honored as long as it suits us to do so. Not good.

Report: wind energy could reduce pollution equal to five coal plants

The carbon pollution from five coal plants could be eliminated in North Carolina if wind power is developed off the North Carolina coast, according to a new analysis by Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center. The report comes right as Congress considers whether to renew tax credits critical to wind development.

“Wind energy is a wise investment for the environment and the economy,” said Rep. David Price. “In North Carolina, developing the infrastructure to support wind power could help us meet up to a third of our energy needs while creating tens of thousands of jobs and an estimated $22 billion in economic benefit. I strongly believe that wind and other renewable sources are critical to our energy future.”

Daily dose: Tough pill to swallow version

GSK to eliminate 900 positions at its Research Triangle location (WNCN-TV) -- GlaxoSmithKline will eliminate about 900 positions from its Research Triangle Park location, and a significant number of those jobs will be in its research and development division. The drug maker said Wednesday that it has begun notifying employees of corporate restructuring that will occur during 2015. Most employees will be notified in early 2015 of the status of their jobs, the company said. In a filing with the N.C. Department of Commerce, GSK said about 350 positions will be eliminated in the first quarter, followed by 450 more positions during the second quarter. The company said the remaining 100 positions will be eliminated by the end of 2015.

The Koch brothers teach history

Welcome to history class, boys and girls! Today's lesson -- in fact, every day's lesson -- will be taught by the Koch brothers.

State high school social studies teachers would be encouraged to use curriculum materials prepared by an institute funded by the conservative Koch family, under a proposal the Department of Public Instruction presented Wednesday.

Did someone put loony juice in the water over at DPI?

NC fast food worker's strike tomorrow morning

Daily dose: "Stepping on toes" edition

Whose toes are bruised? (Greensboro News & Record column) -- The 2016 election is 23 months away, but Pat McCrory already has his campaign website up and an upbeat video about his accomplishments as governor. Unbelievably, its first statement is to repeat the fairy tale that he's been "stepping on toes" of Democrats and Republicans alike. It's his toes that have been stepped on, prompting him to file a lawsuit against legislative leaders of his own party. The lawsuit was a substitute for using the power of his office -- the veto stamp -- to block legislation he didn't like. When it comes to maintaining a balance of power with the legislative branch, the executive is losing. At the same time, he seems to be happy to claim credit for a teacher pay plan approved by the legislature that was not what he proposed and tax cuts that were not "revenue-neutral" as he said he wanted. He continues to tout a "Carolina Comeback" that many parts of the state are not feeling. While North Carolina no longer has the nation's fifth-highest unemployment rate, which certainly was unacceptable, and finally has regained the jobs lost during the recession, many more people are unemployed than in 2007 -- and their unemployment benefits are much less. Furthermore, our labor force has actually declined since the beginning of 2013, despite population growth.

Another black man's life wasted

Sharon McCloskey at NC Policy Watch has a heart-breaking report today about a likely miscarriage of justice, fueled by racism and prosecutorial zeal. It's one of Mike Easley's most damnable legacies.

Their first attempt at a conviction resulted in a mistrial. A second trial followed, conducted this time by a young and ambitious prosecutor named Michael Easley who got the verdict the state sought. That was in 1978.


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