Tuesday Twitter roundup

It's never too late to do the right thing:

HB2 was flawed from the start, trying to fix a problem that didn't exist. And it became (much) more flawed when Republicans took away other existing worker protections in their zeal to punish Charlotte. It's long past time to kill this particular bill.

On the chopping block: NC retiree health care benefits

Austerity for some, tax cuts for others:

The Joint Legislative Committee on the Unfunded Liability of the Retiree Health Benefit Fund shall examine the following options for reducing the unfunded liability of the Fund:

(1) Increasing the assets in the Retiree Health Benefit Fund through appropriation by the General Assembly.
(2) Increasing the costs of retiree benefits borne by the federal government, by means such as the automatic enrollment of Medicare‑eligible retirees in Medicare Advantage or the offering of financial incentives to early retirees to obtain insurance through the health insurance exchange created under the Affordable Care Act.
(3) Reducing the State's future liability by transitioning the State's retiree health benefit from a defined benefit approach to a defined contribution model.
(4) Reducing the number of persons eligible for retiree benefits by increasing the service time requirements for the benefit or by eliminating the benefit for certain groups.
(5) Requiring employees to contribute to the Retiree Health Benefit Fund, as they do to the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System.
(6) Increasing the amount that retirees pay for their health benefits by means such as increasing premiums or out‑of‑pocket costs.
(7) Any other proposals for reducing the unfunded liability of the Fund identified by the Committee.

The reason 3-6 are italicized is because 1&2 were merely put there to make people think everything's on the table. Again, classic bait-and-switch. Like when you get that "You are a winner!" glossy bullshit notice in the mail, where you've either won a fancy new automobile, $25,000 cash, an all-expense-paid vacation to Cabo San Lucas, or a free photographic portrait sitting, where you end up either stalking out with a frowny-face or ordering $75 worth of pictures. This is a frowny-face bill, and SEANC needs to start lighting torches and sharpening pitchforks.

Republican Superintendent pushing trades instead of college

And misleading students in the process:

He said business leaders want schools to start letting kids know their options at a younger age, including vocational professions. Johnson said that any student who wants to go to college can, but they need to know there are other options.

For instance, he said that a student should know that he or she could become a lineman for a power company after high school, and within a few years he or she could be making more than $100,000. Or a student could graduate and work as a welder at a steel fabrication company and potentially be making $70,000.

Bolding mine, because the dude at the top of the education pyramid in NC should at least understand that a "few" years is 2-3, not the 10-15 years it would take to achieve journeyman status. And the top journeyman lineworkers make around $39 per hour, which is $83,120 before overtime. Entry level pay is about $16 per hour ($33,280 per year), and telling kids they can make $100,000 within a few years is astoundingly irresponsible. And considering that Duke Energy Carolinas is about 250 linemen short, the negatives likely outweigh the positives by a metric ton:

Monday News: Counting the costs of voter negligence

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WHAT WILL OBAMACARE REPEAL MEAN FOR WNC HOSPITALS? (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- With Congress and the president pledging to repeal the Affordable Care Act, leaders of Western North Carolina hospitals are closely following the discussions to find out what might replace the existing health care law. The stakes are high. By one estimate, repealing the legislation without an effective replacement plan and keeping in place payment reductions to hospitals that came with the law would cost North Carolina hospitals $7.1 billion over eight years. That scenario would be especially hard on rural hospitals with a high percentage of uninsured patients, according to health care experts.
http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2017/02/05/what-obamacare-repeal-mean-wnc-hospitals/97...

NC's Hall of Shame: Wealthy Trump donors

An oligarchy of hypocrisy:

President Donald Trump may have had a tumultuous first two weeks, but that doesn’t bother Louis DeJoy. “He’s doing great,” said the Greensboro investor. “So far he’s doing what he said he was going to do.” DeJoy was one of Trump’s biggest N.C. donors and fundraisers. Records show he gave $111,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, a joint committee that split money between the campaign and party groups. He gave the Republican National Committee another $273,000 to help elect Trump.

DeJoy wasn’t the president’s only top N.C. contributor. Fred Eshelman, a former pharmaceutical executive from Wilmington, gave Trump Victory $200,000. Doug Lebda, CEO of Charlotte-based Lending Tree, gave $102,615 to the Great America PAC, which spent millions on Trump’s behalf. David Schamens of Davie County, CEO of TradeStream Analytics, gave Trump Victory $42,000 and, according to an FEC report, a net $157,000 to America Comes First PAC.

I hardly need to say it, but I'm going to say it: If you do business with any of these idiotas, please stop. Disassociate, divest, deprive them of your commerce, deny them access to your inner circle, and direct your investments and support to their rivals. Promoting Fascism should never (again) be a profitable enterprise, so exercise your option as an enlightened Capitalist and make these social parasites regret dashing off those checks. As for the smaller donors:

Sunday News: Just say No

RALLY: NO WALL, NO BAN, NO FEAR (WRAL-TV) -- A large crowd turned out on Saturday for the No Wall No Ban No Fear Rally in Raleigh to protest recent executive orders by President Donald Trump that limit travel from certain countries and block refugees coming to the United States. Protesters carried signs and delivered speeches at Halifax Mall in downtown to show support for the people affected by the orders. Trump signed actions to block refugees, to stop travel from several counties, including Syria, Iran and Iraq, and to start plans to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Organizers said the protest was to show support for Muslims, refugees (and) immigrants.
http://www.wral.com/-no-wall-no-ban-no-fear-rally-draws-crowd-in-raleigh/16503485/

Saturday News: Duke Energy's economic blackmail

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COAL ASH PITS: DUKE ENERGY TELLS NEIGHBORS TO WAIVE CLAIMS (WRAL-TV) -- Neighbors living near Duke Energy Corp's coal ash pits in North Carolina are being told they have to give up the option of suing over any future water problems if they want extra compensation from the utility. The country's largest electric company sent out letters last week to about 1,000 homeowners living near 13 of the company's coal-burning power plants spread across North Carolina. In them, the utility said it will require the waiver to release the company from "any claims for further compensation or recovery from Duke Energy" related to alleged groundwater pollution or unsatisfactory municipal water connections. Duke Energy said its coal-ash pits are not to blame for any contaminants detected in groundwater. The company is offering a $5,000 "goodwill" payment to neighbors "to support your transition to a new water supply," the letters said.
http://www.wral.com/coal-ash-pits-duke-energy-tells-neighbors-to-waive-claims/16496307/

USDA under Trump scrubs animal welfare information from website

If you want to know, you'll have to file a FOIA:

It just became nearly impossible to know what's happening to animals in zoos, puppy mills and research laboratories.

Information about the roughly 9,000 facilities related to animals protected under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — including SeaWorld, dog breeders and puppy mills, zoos, circuses (including Ringling Bros.) and taxpayer-funded animal testing labs, among others — was removed from the USDA website on Friday.

I've been blogging here for going on ten years, and very often my search for reliable and up-to-date information leads me to one or more of the Federal agencies. More than just informative, their websites serve as a repository for related research, much of it done by institutions outside of government. But it appears that goldmine of information may be about to play out, as Trump's tiny hands dig deeper into the soil of these departments. This need to control information flow is frightening, and (again) closely resembles actions taken by tyrants in the not-free world. Pay attention, or there may be nothing left to pay attention to.

OWASA crisis: Fluoridation mishap or water main break?

Better get your bottled water now, before the rioting and looting in Chapel Hill begins:

Do Not Drink Order: Due to low pressure in the OWASA service area we are not sure if the water is safe for consumption. Until testing has been completed, the Orange County Health Department is issuing a Do Not Drink order. Boiling water is not recommended. Only bottled water is recommended.

Do Not Use Order: Because of the water main break and the subsequent shortage, we are also issuing a Do Not Use order. Bottled water should be used for all water needs including flushing toilets, washing hands, cooking, etc…

Restaurants: All restaurants served by OWASA are being ordered closed by the Orange County Health Director.

I suppose it's possible somebody tipped the fluoride bottle too heavily (That's not really how they do it) first, and then the water main decided it was time to break, but that sounds more like a bad made-for-TV movie than real life. So this is not only a "learning experience" about not taking potable water for granted, there's also a "messaging" lesson to be learned...

Moore has second thoughts about Amazon Wind Farm

Score one more for common sense:

Asked about his reaction to a tour he attended last week of Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East, Moore’s office shared a statement that contrasted sharply with the January letter’s demands to either shut down or drastically modify the 104-turbine farm near Elizabeth City.

“The Amazon Wind Farm is new to North Carolina and takes advantage of a valuable natural resource our state has to offer,” Moore said in the statement. “Based on the information I have gathered today and over the past several weeks, it appears the initial concerns raised by the military are being addressed.”

Just to be clear, the "initial concerns" raised by the military were addressed long before this letter was dreamed up by Harry Brown and his fellow fossil-fuel-loving dinosaurs. Which Moore should have known before adding his signature. But some others seem to be too stubborn to let go of their fictional narrative:

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