Privatization of public school facilities under "leasing" contracts

Janet Cowell cuts loose on General Assembly plotters:

Most consequentially, this legislation allows state student and teacher funding (the average daily membership) and all other state education funding to be used for school facilities, in this case to pay private developers. North Carolina has a long history of supporting state funding for teachers and education staff and county funding for school buildings. This bill would blur that division and could result in the layoff of school personnel to pay private companies.

It would allow sales taxes to go to a private, for-profit company. Specifically, the bill would permit a local unit to refund a private for profit business entity for expenses incurred in operating the building from local sales or use taxes. Sales and use taxes are an important source of local government revenue. This bill assigns away these revenues to the private entity.

This fits a broader pattern Republicans in the Legislature have developed over the last 5 years or so, in which they steadily erode the powers of local governments while also shifting costs down to them. In this case, the GOP is nudging local governments to allow private entities to actually own newly-constructed public schools, and force the local government to pay rent. It's a classic privatization scheme, but this time it's not a parking lot, it's our children's development that is being leveraged. And it's as easy as adding the two words "or other" to the statute in question:

Wednesday News: Cause & Effect version

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N.C. VOTERS STAYED AWAY FROM THE POLLS IN DROVES (Carolina Public Press) -- Predictions of very low turnout for special primary elections Tuesday for Congress and North Carolina Supreme Court proved correct, with only about 6.65 percent of registered voters participating, according state elections officials.
http://carolinapublicpress.org/25003/handful-of-voters-decide-on-supreme-court-congress

PITTENGER BARELY RETAINS DISTRICT 9 SEAT (Fayetteville Observer) - -U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger squeaked by in the Republican primary for the 9th Congressional District seat,
http://www.fayobserver.com/news/local/pittenger-barely-retains-district-seat/article_9d13083c-5f00-5...

Here's me elevating the debate: Dan Forest is an idiot

Which is kind of an insult to idiots worldwide:

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said, “Well, pretty much all of our media in North Carolina newspapers, a handful of very liberal newspapers all across the state, every city has a newspaper like the Charlotte Observer.”

“So, Charlotte and the Raleigh News & Observer are two of the most liberal rags in the country right now. It’s pretty much leftist, propaganda arms anymore. And most of them are. TV stations are the same way.”

As reported by the Christian News Service. That's actually the punchline to my joke, but a little context might make you laugh (or cry) harder:

Tuesday News: There was something I needed to do today...

ONE VOTE COULD DETERMINE TODAY’S RACES (Winston-Salem Journal) - Yep, that headline is right. There will no runoff races after today’s special primary. One vote, maybe yours, could determine any of these primary races. Such are the unpredictable political times in which we find ourselves. But however you feel about the battles that ultimately led to this primary, people on both sides fought hard. That’s part of our democracy. So is our precious right to vote. Americans have fought and died for that right. People the world over are still fighting and dying for that right. Yet too many of us take the right for granted. Today would be a good day to start turning that trend around.
http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/editorials/our-view-one-vote-could-determine-today-s-races/article...

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Election day madness:

It's amazing what having an unlimited checkbook supplied by Kansas oil industry billionaires can help you accomplish. By "amazing" I mean disgusting, of course. I have no great sympathy for Renee Ellmers, although she did jeopardize her Congressional career by pushing back against anti-abortion nut-jobs. I just hate to see the Koch Brothers being allowed to spend so freely in elections, especially ones in our state. Sticks in my craw. And that's not the only NC race they're trying to manipulate:

Harsh words for the Senate's Budget proposals

It's a lot more about election season posturing than responsible funding:

That's the thing about Senate budgets: They're as much a statement of ideology as a pragmatic attempt to fund state government. In recent years, budget writers have stripped millions from the funding for books and supplies, from teacher-assistant and teacher funding, even from school-bus replacement budgets. But now Senate leaders see no problem with diverting ever-more money from the public schools to send our kids to private schools.

While we're pleased to see substantial raises proposed for those teachers still standing, it's hard to argue that our legislative leaders are fully committed to our public schools. But looking at the budget overall, we have no doubt that they're committed to getting themselves re-elected.

Every action has an equal reaction. When you cut funding for textbooks and supplies, teachers are forced to create handouts, sometimes to the tune of tens of thousands of mimeographed reproductions in each class, by the end of the school year. Which far exceeds the volume of paper allotted for in the school's budget, so guess who has to go paper-shopping? Even in schools where parents and other supporters donate such things, it's still not enough, and teachers inevitably end up holding the shopping bag. They need a raise, if for no other reason than to cover these additional costs. But that's what happens when you want it to "seem" like you're interested in funding public schools, instead of being that way.

Monday News: Flip that seat, Deborah

10 SENATE SEATS MOST LIKELY TO FLIP (THE HILL) -- 8. North Carolina: Former state Rep. Deborah Ross emerged from relative obscurity in North Carolina but she’s trying to turn that to her advantage in what is widely perceived to be the year of the outsider candidate. She surprised observers by out-raising Burr, who has served in Congress since 1995, in the first three months of the year. She collected $1.3 million to his $1.1 million. But GOP strategists say Ross hasn’t been battle tested and her numbers are likely to come down once the campaign heats up in earnest.
http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/282278-ten-senate-seats-most-likely-to-flip

New leadership "forum" to discuss how to discuss

Not sure what a "media cocoon" actually is, but I'm sure that will be discussed also:

The Leadership Forum was born after Hood wrote a column about North Carolinians living in “media cocoons” and the disappearance of civil debate. Democrat Leslie Winner, then head of the progressive Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, read it and met with Hood about changing that. They recruited a bipartisan steering committee, then the group of 35.

Hood emphasizes that the goal is not to find moderate solutions. “Our point is not we have these extremes and if everyone was more centrist we’d be better off,” Hood told me last week. “We like the fact that we have people way out on the right and left. The goal is not to marginalize them and aim for the common denominator. The point is to have a dialogue that is very robust with points of view strongly argued, but respectfully and with no name-calling. … If we can have people argue rather than bicker, make good-faith logical arguments, that’s a very valuable outcome.”

I suppose there could be some merit in pursuing such a dialogue, but it could also produce a false sense of security. The policy moves of current state leaders have produced horrific outcomes for many people living in North Carolina, and each year brings new and outrageous results. If this forum can't or won't smooth down those sharp edges, then it's (at best) a masturbatory exercise. At worst, it could blunt efforts (and money) dedicated to reversing those outcomes. Here's more:

Sunday News: Trump's box bullies

MCDOWELL HIGH SCHOOL PRANK UPSETS LATINO STUDENTS (AP) -- A group of students at a McDowell High School built a wall made of boxes and blocked access to a common area, and their Latino classmates are upset. Students were allowed into the school on Wednesday to perform a prank as a teacher supervised them. A photo of the wall with about 30 students standing in front of it was shared on Instagram and captioned, "We built the wall first." Principal Edwin Spivey says one of the kids wanted to put a Donald Trump logo on it and was told he couldn't do that. The wall was taken down before classes began on Thursday. A school district spokesman says the students won't face any disciplinary action.
http://www.wral.com/north-carolina-high-school-prank-upsets-latino-students/15753425/

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