Tuesday News: The corruption story that wouldn't die edition

Budget writer: McCrory should have consulted on prison contract extension (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A top legislative budget writer said Monday the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory should have consulted with the General Assembly about renewing private prison maintenance contracts that were awarded to a McCrory friend and campaign contributor.

McCrory Helps a Donor Secure State Contracts (Camel City Dispatch) – Gov. Pat McCrory was elected on campaign promises to clean up North Carolina’s crony capitalists, “Good ‘ol Boy” style of doing business. Now McCrory once more finds himself part of a federal investigation for appearing to have personally stepped in to help a major donor get a lucrative contract extension that the Governor’s own appointees did not want.

2015 NC Municipal elections tomorrow

Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and our elections should be free, fair and accessible. A representative government works best when more citizens exercise their right to vote. Democracy North Carolina works on voting and elections to make sure every eligible citizen has the right to vote without intimidation, for the candidate of his or her choice, with the assurance that the vote will be counted.

Monday News: Not just McClatchy edition

Team McCrory botches another one in failing to discard "pay to play" (Beaufort Observer) -- We think this is a simple situation to understand. It is just another case of people who want to make money from doing business with the state using political influence to get that business. In all due respect to the people who wrote Governor McCrory's press release, they miss the point. The issue is not McClatchy's reporting. It is whether big political contributors get state contracts or not.

The Beaufort Observer is a Community Website serving Beaufort County. It is a subsidiary of Eagle Publishing, Inc. The mission of the publication is to: 1) Report in-depth coverage of local news.

2) Offer fair reporting as a balance to the liberal Elite Media.

A swing and a miss in defense of Spellings' appointment

How to lose an argument before it even starts:

As a former journalism teacher and newspaper reporter, I understand why the media are adamant that searches be conducted in the open. I respectfully disagree. I commend Chairman John Fennebresque and the search committee for its outstanding work as they spent hundreds of hours in reviewing qualified applicants from around the world and in interviewing and seriously considering more than a dozen candidates.

To have involved all 32 members of the UNC Board of Governors, faculty, staff and students would have indeed created a circus atmosphere. Thank goodness the majority on the Board of Governors did not succumb to the pressure to open the process.

And just exactly who were those "more than a dozen candidates" of which you speak? And what were the criteria used in that "hundreds of hours in reviewing" you claim took place? The truth is, you don't know if any of that is accurate, you're just regurgitating happy talk from press releases. A journalism teacher? What the hell did you teach them, the fewer the questions the better? Write about what you *don't* know?

Sunday News: DEQ WTF? edition


NC's new environmental regulator is polarizing figure (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In his short tenure as Secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, Donald van Der Vaart, the engineer with a law degree has wasted no time in promoting his conservative brand of environmentalism. Within two weeks of taking the top job at the state’s environmental agency, he jettisoned a pair of GOP deputies, including a former state legislator who became a key aid to the state House speaker. He’s launched a campaign for nuclear energy, even though the agency he oversees has little say in which power plants are built in North Carolina while regularly casting doubts about the benefits of wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy despite his boss’s (Gov. Pat McCrory) positions supporting them.

VIVA trial update: Affidavits as escape valves

Kelly Fetty has been keeping score:

On June 18 the North Carolina General Assembly passed new legislation adding a "reasonable impediment" affidavit to VIVA. Like South Carolina's Act R54, the affidavit allowed voters to claim a reasonable impediment kept them from getting a photo ID and entitled them to a provisional ballot.

The sudden change to the law, just three weeks before the start of court proceedings, prompted the Plaintiffs to ask Judge Schroeder to drop claims against the ID provision from the trial.

This affidavit has nothing to do with helping people vote, and everything to do with helping Republicans prop up their un-Democratic attack on voting rights. Unfortunately, it appears Judge Schroeder is more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt:

Saturday News: Pay-to-prison edition


FBI investigating McCrory-involved deal on prison contract with Charlotte pal, campaign donor (Raleigh News & Observer/Charlotte Observer) -- Last fall, Gov. Pat McCrory personally intervened on behalf of a friend and major political donor who wanted to renew $3 million in private prison contracts over the objections of McCrory’s top prison officials. Charlotte developer Graeme Keith got extension of $3 million-a-year maintenance deal. The FBI has interviewed Keith Corp. and state officials in at least two departments.

The costly impact of Republican governing

Shifting burdens down to the local level:

Tax cuts and tax shifts. Business accounting depends on actually balancing revenues and expenses. Not so for our governor and legislature. Budgeting is a shell game to them. Cuts to state taxes and programs simply shift the costs to property taxes and sales taxes with 80 percent of us paying more.

As a candidate for local municipal office, I've had to familiarize myself with small-town budgeting. In many ways it's more complicated than a 750 page state budget, because you just don't have as many "baskets" of money to shift around. That was the case even before the General Assembly rolled up their sleeves and got serious about smothering local governments, and now the word "complicated" just doesn't cover it anymore. And it's not just a lack of respect for municipal governments; These steps are intended to bring hardship to the citizenry, because they will very likely strike out against local council members as a result, and not their Legislative representatives. Resulting in a wave of (even more) business-friendly local governments, ready, willing, and able to surrender their responsibilities to the private sector. While it is very clever, it is also the antithesis of Democracy. More painful cost-shifts:

Friday News: Justice for $ale edition

N.C. Supreme Court race drove big spending (Raleigh News & Observer) -- North Carolina was second in U.S. for spending on judicial elections in 2014

N.C. No. 2 in judicial election spending, report says (Triangle Business Journal) - North Carolina was second only to Michigan in the total amount spent on judicial elections during the most recent election cycle.


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