Rep. Mike Hager polluting the Environmental Review Commission

How can you be objective when your own culpability may be an issue?

And perhaps spending 17 years working for a major polluter colors one's perspective on what worrisome levels of pollution are. After all, in 2002, the last full year Hager served as Cliffside's engineering manager, the plant reported releasing more than 12,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into surface waters -- including 2,100 pounds of arsenic, 200 pounds of chromium and 250 pounds of lead, all known to cause cancer. It also reported releasing almost 2.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals directly into the air.

In total, from the time EPA began requiring electric utilities to report their toxics releases in 1998 through Hager's last full year with Duke Energy, the Cliffside plant reported releasing more than 96,000 pounds of toxic chemicals to surface water and another 18 million pounds to the air.

Hager needs to recuse himself from any reviews of coal-fired power plants and their associated coal ash impoundment ponds, and the General Assembly should seriously consider removing him from the Commission. Aside from the monetary influence of Duke Energy's campaign dollars, he's not psychologically fit to evaluate the quality of his own work (or his colleagues') as an engineer for Duke Energy. Nobody with the same history would be.

There's no such thing as a "good government Republican" anymore

Given past transgressions by some Democrats, the appeal of Republican reformers was understandable. "Send us to Raleigh and we'll work for democracy and freedom, and we'll be accountable every step of the way." It was a seductive promise, except it turned out to be bullshit.

We've seen more backroom dealing, more legislative shenanigans, more attempts to block public oversight, more schemes to divert tax dollars to private profit, and more unvarnished subversion of voting rights than at any time in recent history.

Putting an end to this Republican reign of terror is Job One, and it's going to be tough. We'll claw back seats this year, hopefully enough to put a dent in the GOP's super-majority. We'll win back the governor's mansion in 2016, bringing to a close the hapless career of Duke McCrory. And we'll implement non-partisan redistricting in 2020, which will forever level the playing field for state elections.

But in the meantime, there are a couple of races that matter enormously in 2014, and one of them is the race for North Carolina Supreme Court. I'm supporting and voting for Robin Hudson, and I hope you will too. With Art Pope continuing his multi-million dollar shopping spree, we simply must come together to blunt the effect of his spending.

Duke Energy to retard tree growth using chemicals

And Greensboro is going to be the lab rat:

Duke Energy chose Greensboro to be among three North Carolina cities where it will test a chemical product that slows tree growth, according to company leaders.

Rainbow Treecare will inject the “growth regulator” Cambistat into the ground near trees within Duke Energy’s rights of way, where branches can interfere with power lines. About 20 species of trees will be treated, including maples, elms, sweet gums and oaks, said Shawn Bernick, Rainbow’s vice president for research and development and technical support.

It's not surprising they would choose Greensboro as one of the test cities, as the Gate City has a very healthy canopy, at least in some of the older neighborhoods. It may be a first for Duke, but other utilities have used this approach to curb tree growth:

Open thread

Good news from Asheville

A real progressive gets the nod to fill Senator Nesbitt's seat. And even better, it's a woman. Way to go, Asheville!

Van Duyn is a well-known fundraiser, volunteer and activist who was among those arrested in Raleigh during a June Moral Mondays protest last year. She also participated in the recent Moral March on Raleigh. Her victory is also a victory for the progressive end of the party though she does have support among mainline Democrats.

Tillis, Interstate Crosscheck, Big Data, and you

You've no doubt heard and read about the heart palpitations among our Republican state leaders today when Thom Tillis announced evidence massive voter fraud, which seems to have turned out to be about 700 people *alleged to be* voting here in NC and another state in the last election, about .00075% of the total voter turnout in the state 101 million voter records that were claimed to be checked by Interstate Crosscheck, the service being used by the state.

Of course, it was an opportunity for Tillis and Company to defend and promote NC's voter restriction laws, called the "worst" in the nation and being challenged in court by the NAACP and the ACLU. Tillis and McCrory didn't use it as an opportunity to announce any investigations or sharing of what was found with the FBI since what might be going on here besides felony voter fraud is identity theft or other activity.

Who cares about investigating possible felonies when there's a press release to push out, really?

What's more disturbing to me is how this suspected voter fraud was found.

At the heart of Tillis's evidence are some disturbing questions about data the state of North Carolina has about you, how secure that data is, and what might be happening or could happen with it.

Decker wants business recruiters to act unethically

After successfully forming an unaccountable arm of government in one of their first privatization schemes, Deputy Assistant Guvnor Pat and Commerce Secretary Duker how want to exempt that private entity from state ethics rules.

Draft legislation reworking the rules for a new private nonprofit designed to recruit businesses to North Carolina would make the corporation's employees subject to state ethics, personnel and travel polices – prompting objections from Commerce Department leaders.

"The objective here is nimbleness, speed of movement, the ability to take action and to market the state effectively," said Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker. "I'm looking at all of the legislation with that lens. So, I've got concerns about legislation that might be preventive."

Thom Tillis sinks deeper in to pay to play ooze

First he shook down the payday lenders and gave them what they wanted.

Then he skipped out of the legislative session he's supposed to lead to rake in campaign cash in Washington DC.

Now Thom Tillis continues his extortion fundraising by shaking down other parties who want Thom to get legislation passed that favors their interests.

The second largest contributor to his campaign is EUE/Screen Gems, a movie studio company in Wilmington with credits that include “Iron Man 3”, HBO’s “Eastbound & Down” and CBS’ “Under the Dome.”

Friday fracking video

Very brief, yet surprisingly fulfilling. For those with more appetite for knowledge:

Come support Alma Adams

If you are in the Triangle area and are able to help, please join Jane Brown, Laura Edwards, Deborah Hylton, Verla Insko, Sue Jackson, Florence Peacock, and the NARAL Pro-Choice America at a reception honoring ALMA ADAMS in support of her election for U.S. Congress-North Carolina’s 12th District.

Today, THURSDAY, APRIL 3RD, from 5:30PM – 7:30PM at the home of Jane Brown and James Protzman, 451 Lakeshore Lane, Chapel Hill.

Minimum suggested contribution: $50

Please RSVP to erika@almaadamsforcongress.com, or contribute online at http://almaadamsforcongress.com/contribute

_____________________________________

I'm not really on the fundraising circuit this year, but am giving to selected candidates based on their records of progressive action and on the company they keep. Alma Adams is on my short list of candidates to support.

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