Campaign update: Missing yard signs and yellow journalism

Five days remaining, until an unknown yet statistically tiny percent of our Town's voters will choose their government. When the dust settled after the initial filing period, and I realized all three incumbents whose seats were up for grabs were intent on keeping those seats, I knew I was in for an uphill climb. All three of these guys had been through multiple (successful) campaigns, and were well-known, at least to the small group of stalwart voters that turn out for these local elections. That being said, I honestly do not know what to expect come Tuesday. Somebody once told me, "When they start to steal your signs, that means they're afraid you might be getting some of their votes." But I'm pretty sure the person that told me that had lost 2-3 elections in the past. So there's that. :)

Carolina Rising to the apex of political corruption

Doug Clark speaks to the problem:

If you or I give more than $50 to a candidate's campaign, our name, address and occupation must be reported and available for public scrutiny. The idea behind that level of accountability is that people should know who's trying to influence our government.

Yet it's no concern of anyone who gives $5 million — or $5 billion, for that matter — to one of these independent, nonpolitical organizations for exactly the same purpose of electing a candidate.

It's hard to believe people haven't taken to the streets to demand the identity of the wealthy ghost who wrote a check for almost $5 million to get Tillis elected, or that they aren't screaming at Tillis himself. People rant and rave about how politicians are bought and paid for, but they watch a television ad "paid for by Carolina Rising" and then go out and vote for the candidate this mystery group tells them to. Yes, our two-party system is partly to blame for that logical disconnect, but those voters should still be curious. And every time they see one of these ads, the curiosity should grow:

Thursday News: Probing Meadows edition


Group seeks ethics probe of Meadows (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- The American Democracy Legal Fund is requesting a congressional ethics investigation of 11th District U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Jackson, saying he did not do enough about sexual harassment allegations against a former chief of staff and that severance payments to the staffer violated House rules.

Christensen on Spellings: "Nothing to see here, folks."

Another round of false equivalencies and historic rationalizations:

But if you look at the backgrounds of past UNC presidents, you will find they are diverse lot – businessmen and college administrators, liberals and conservatives. None have had a Ph.D. Several have been deeply involved in politics. Few had any classroom teaching experience.

When the UNC Board of Governors or their predecessors have searched for a new president, they have not looked for one particular model. Undoubtedly some of the skepticism about Spellings is political. Much of the left feels about George W. Bush about the way the right feels about Barack Obama. Anybody closely associated with either man is immediately suspect by those who hold opposing views.

Once again, Rob puts forward the theory that public opinion is based mostly on a "shallow" analysis of a person or policy, and if only we had his vast experience keeping score in the political arena we could grasp the truths that elude us. And once again, he fails to mention the most damning characteristics of the subject in question: Her history of leading the largest and most disreputable conglomeration of for-profit online universities in the country, which have bilked students and parents out of billions in tuition over the years, and her openly bigoted stance dealing with LGBT rights. Both of those characteristics set her widely apart from previous Presidents of the UNC System, and both should have been dis-qualifiers for the job. Once again, Rob, politics is not a sport, where you compare earned run averages or free-throw percentages. It has a real-world impact on the lives of the people of our state, and Margaret Spellings has the potential to do great harm to the tens of thousands trying to reach their potential via the UNC System. They are the ones who need to be given a chance, not her.

Wednesday News: Poor, pitiful Pat edition


McCrory criticized in TV ad for shale gas exploration (AP) — A coalition of environmental groups is on television again, criticizing Gov. Pat McCrory for signing bills into law designed to encourage a type of shale gas exploration in North Carolina called fracking.

NC Governor's Mansion Site of Persistent Protests (TWCN-TV) -- Hispanic residents and their supporters have been protesting outside the North Carolina governor's mansion most evenings this month in hopes of persuading Pat McCrory to veto a bill still on his desk from the General Assembly session.

Endangered species watch: BOEM's reckless disregard for migratory mammals

Creative mapmaking of a different kind:

Jasny said new information shows that marine mammals would be affected by seismic blasting as much as three times more frequently than BOEM had anticipated. BOEM’s final environmental impact statement released in 2014 estimates that the planned seismic surveying activities in the Atlantic will result in as many as 138,000 injuries to marine mammals and in 13.5 million disturbances of marine mammals, including disruptions in vital behaviors such as feeding, mating and communicating.

The main flaw is that the bureau had relied on studies done in the 1980s that became the standard for determining impacts through the late 1990s. Jasny said that’s “practically the stone age” as far as ocean research is concerned. “There has been a flood of important science that extends far beyond the limited perspective of what was available in the early 1980s when those studies were done,” Jasny said. “As the authors of one study put it, the study that BOEM relies upon is outdated and inaccurate.”

Read the whole article, and when you've finished that, compare the information compiled by numerous scientists with what BOEM reported to Congress just a few months ago:

Tuesday News: Rat leaves sinking ship edition

Chairman quits UNC Board of Governors (WRAL-TV) -- Under fire for how the search for a new University of North Carolina system president was selected, UNC Board of Governors Chairman John Fennebresque resigned his seat on the board Monday.

Fennebresque steps down from UNC Board of Governors (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Embattled UNC Board of Governors Chairman John Fennebresque resigned his seat Monday, saying it was time for new leadership on the university system’s governing board.

The devil in the details: Trudy Wade's "stealth" earmark


When your neutrality is just a flimsy facade:

High Point’s Library Plaza project also won’t have to compete with other towns and cities. Of the $2 million allocated for the Main Street Solutions fund, the budget bill requires $1 million to go to a city with a population between 105,000 and 110,000 located in a county that changed its state poverty ranking last year.

High Point is the only city that fits the bill.

Half of the entire budget going to one project. Which is probably why Wade felt the need to add an extra layer of obfuscation. It's exactly these kinds of "tailor-made" budget allocations that Republicans used to trumpet loudly about, when they complained about "Democrat corruption" in the General Assembly. But now it's just clever lawmaking.

NC's alarming trend toward temporary employment

Hat-tip to Chris Fitzsimon for breaking down the numbers:

39—percentage growth of temporary workers in the national economy from 2009-2014

52—percentage growth of temporary workers in North Carolina from 2009 to 2014

45,022—amount in dollars of average annual earnings of temporary workers in the United States

30,627—amount in dollars of average annual earnings of temporary workers in North Carolina

Yes, it's a national trend, but North Carolina is a leader in low wages and job insecurity. Which should come as no surprise, since our Labor Commissioner has pretty much abrogated her responsibility to monitor these things:


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