GOP Hunger Games commence

Feed the hungry, but don't make it too easy for them:

Food stamp recipients in North Carolina soon will lose benefits unless they prove they’re working, volunteering or taking classes for at least 20 hours a week.

Sen. Norman Sanderson, a Republican from Pamlico County, said the change would push unemployed people on food stamps to look for work. “I think you’re going to see a lot of them go and get that 20-hour-a-week job, or they’re going to enroll in some sort of higher education to improve their job skills,” he said before the September vote.

And I think a lawmaker who takes food off somebody's table because he "thinks" something positive might happen as a result is a reckless ideologue, not a public servant.

Sunday News: Hateful circus continues

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SILENTLY PROTESTING MUSLIM WOMAN, JEWISH MAN, KICKED OUT OF TRUMP RALLY (Times of Israel) – A Muslim woman from Charlotte was kicked out of a Donald Trump presidential campaign rally after staging a silent protest against the Republican frontrunner, who has called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. Rose Hamid started the protest alongside a Jewish immigration attorney Marty Rosenbluth. Both of them were wearing “yellow star-shaped badges that bore the word ‘Muslim’ and were intentionally reminiscent of the yellow badges Jewish people were forced to wear under Nazi rule,” the Guardian reported.
http://www.timesofisrael.com/protesting-muslim-woman-jewish-man-kicked-out-of-trump-rally/

The bizarro world of Pat McCrory

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Corrupt, unethical, and completely unfit for public office:

McCrory called the report "a story about nothing" and was critical of both WRAL News' original report and other outlets for following and commenting on it. "This is politics at its worst and journalism at its worst," McCrory said.

He added later, "There are always going to be issues going on with the largest companies in North Carolina. When do you not meet with these companies?"

Jebus cripes. You *do not* meet with these companies when various subordinates in your administration are investigating them for violations of regs and statutes, you do not meet with them days before deciding to sell investment shares in their company, you do not meet with them when their contract with state government is on the rocks and they need help "fixing" the problem, you do not meet with them before deciding whom to appoint to boards or commissions, and you do not meet with them when one of your Departments is about to decide how much work they need to do and dollars they need to spend to clean up their act. You were right when you said this is "politics at its worst," you just should have been standing in front of a mirror when you said it.

Forest uses right-wing talk radio to whine about charter schools report

Wants less evidence, more anecdotal cheerleading:

“Is there an actual anti-charter bias in the Department of Public Instruction?” Kaliner asked. Forest didn’t answer directly, but said “they” see charter schools as competition. DPI and the state Board of Education oversee North Carolina’s school districts and 158 charter schools, which are run by independent nonprofit boards.

He says delaying the report, which state lawmakers required by Jan. 15, allows more time for it to be reviewed by the Board of Education and the Charter School Advisory Board. In addition, Forest said said there should be an opportunity for “charter schools themselves to be able to read it and look at it and go, ‘Wait a minute. This isn’t painting our picture.’ There’s a lot of great positive things going on with charter schools in the state. Let’s tell that story, too.”

Apparently Forest doesn't know the difference between art and science. If the numbers don't "paint the picture" you want to see, then you need to institute policies that change those numbers. And two of the main policy drivers keeping charters from being diverse are their refusal to provide transportation and free- or reduced-lunches. The sad thing is, I have a feeling charter school proponents view that as a selling point; keeping out the riff-raff. And Republican leaders, including Forest, likely see it the same way. The problem with institutional bias is, you can't hide it when the numbers come rolling in.

Saturday News: Punishing whistleblowers edition

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N.C. PROPERTY PROTECTION LAW ENACTED (Mount Airy News) -- A bill aimed at protecting businesses from damages resulting from employees acting outside the scope of permissible access granted to them went into effect Jan. 1. The new law makes employees of a company liable for civil damages caused by their gaining access to areas or information outside their permissible scope with the intent to use that information against their employer.
https://mtairynews.com/news/36701/north-carolina-property-protection-law-enacted

AG-GAG LAW PUNISHES WHISTLEBLOWERS, NOT LAWBREAKERS (Richmond Daily Journal) -- laming Mercy for Animals and its undercover operative who worked at Deese Farm and recorded the abuse there misses the mark. Danny Miranda’s conduct was unacceptable. Mercy for Animals didn’t create, incite or encourage the abuse. It merely documented it and dragged it into the light of day. When confronted with bad news, we shouldn’t shoot the messenger.
https://yourdailyjournal.com/opinion/editorials/20656/our-view-ag-gag-law-punishes-whistleblowers-no...

Further erosion of environmental regulations coming soon

The polluters are hoping for a belated Xmas present orgy:

The state tightened the standard for shellfish waters in 2008 by requiring that runoff be treated if the hard, constructed surfaces exceed 12 percent of the building site. There was an attempt during the session last year to roll back the threshold to old standard of 25 percent.

Miller said there are some changes to the stormwater rules that might make sense, but he was disappointed to see the state move backwards. “We’re still losing ground when it comes to water quality,” he said.

These percentages might seem small to the casual observer, or even to advocates from urban and suburban Piedmont areas. But the coast is a totally different animal, and shellfish populations were seriously stressed under the old (failing) system. Another potential rule change will have a devastating effect on third-party legal intervention:

Friday News: Dirty secrets edition

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DUKE ENERGY'S (SECRET) DINNER WITH PAT (Charlotte Magazine column) -- The purpose of a June 1 meeting over dinner at the Executive Mansion among Gov. Pat McCrory, his chief of staff, his general counsel, the state’s chief environmental regulator; and Duke Energy executives, including CEO Lynn Good, may well have been, in McCrory spokesman Graham Wilson’s words, “a constructive dialogue” about “the economy, the environment, energy, and job creation.” Yet, Charlotte-based Duke Energy is more than just the nation’s largest utility. It’s also Pat McCrory’s longtime employer, and, at the time of the dinner, an established corporate polluter less than three months removed from the state assessing a record $25 million fine against Duke for years of coal ash pollution at a Wilmington power plant. That fine was later sliced to $7 million.
http://www.charlottemagazine.com/Charlotte-Magazine/January-2016/Opinion-On-Duke-Energys-Secret-Dinn...

Dan Forest wants more happy talk in charter schools report

Because form over substance is so important in the education formula:

The State Board of Education is expected to vote Thursday on several charter school issues, including whether to give newer charter schools more chances to remain open if they are struggling to meet performance standards.

The board could also hear more about the annual charter schools report, which is due to the legislature on Jan. 15. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest advised the board to take more time to review the report and possibly make changes, saying he thought the statistics provided in the report were "negative" and "did not have a lot of positive things to say."

Statistics are what they are. That's why we go to the trouble to collect them, because they are untainted by ideology or preconceived notions. If you don't like the story they tell, change the factors that drove them, not the data itself. And one of the biggest factors driving those negative statistics is the mismanagement of resources, something a former Pope Puppet has positioned himself to take advantage of:

Thursday News: Not so fast, bond boy

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N.C. BOND DRAWS OPPOSITION (Greensboro News & Record) -- Opponents say the Connect NC bond package consists of expensive pet projects.
http://www.greensboro.com/news/north_carolina/n-c-bond-draws-opposition/article_320565ce-461e-52e2-8...

OPPONENTS OF NC'S $2 BILLION BOND ORGANIZE (Raleigh News & Observer) -- There has not been any organized opposition to the statewide $2 billion bond on the March 15 primary election ballot, whose supporters kicked off their campaign on Tuesday, until now.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article53...

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