Daily dose

Daily dose: Pat McCrory's terrible, horrible, no-good very bad year

It's hard to imagine a more fitting end to the year we've suffered under Guvnor McCrory.

How the governor burned himself (Charlotte Observer) -- Not so long ago, as he launched his second campaign for the governor’s mansion, Pat McCrory vowed more than once that he would “clean up Raleigh.” It’s the kind of thing non-incumbents like to say, and it certainly wasn’t what gave McCrory his 2012 victory. But it didn’t hurt. … There were few, if any, murmurs about his integrity, even after seven terms as mayor of the state’s largest city. … It’s a simple rule, whether the questions are on an ethics form or from a nosy reporter. Don’t run from the money you say you earned. Own it. Because here’s what happens when you don’t: Your evasiveness gets on the front page of newspapers across your state. The New York Times writes about you. And people start to whisper. Now, there’s murmuring.
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/12/18/5393607/how-the-governor-burned-himself.html

Daily Dose: Dallas-embarrasses-even-his-mother edition

BOYS WILL BE BOYS BUT MAMA’S THE BOSS
A Mother's Take on a Her Sons' Disagreement Plays Out on C-Span (New York Times) -- The Woodhouse brothers get a surprise caller to their joint appearance on C-Span: their mother. … Mrs. Woodhouse hoped that the brothers’ television bickering could help ease some tension before Christmas. “They’re both very passionate about what they believe in,” she said. “I hope that they can kind of get this out of their system today on your program.”

Daily Dose: The other hand taketh edition

POLICY & POLITICS
McCrory, lawmakers pledge tax help for NC cities (WRAL-TV) -- Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane was paying close attention Thursday when Gov. Pat McCrory was talking about holding lawmakers' feet to the fire on the privilege license tax. If no changes are made to state law, the tax cities charge to businesses that set up shop within their boundaries expires next summer, knocking holes in local budgets around the state. "It's a huge deal," McFarlane said after McCrory finished speaking. Raleigh figures that the privilege tax brings in $7.5 million. That doesn't sound like a lot in terms of the city's $754 million budget, but $7.5 million is more than the city spends on grants to arts, human services and economic development groups combined. Pretty much every city leader sitting in the room during the North Carolina League of Municipalities legislative goal-setting conference could tell a similar story, which explains why McCrory got a round of applause for noting that lawmakers had promised to help local governments replace the lost revenue.
http://www.wral.com/mccrory-lawmakers-pledge-tax-help-for-nc-cities/14272066/

Daily Dose: Sucker punch edition

POLICY & POLITICS
McCrory, lawmakers pledge tax help for NC cities (WRAL-TV) -- Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane was paying close attention Thursday when Gov. Pat McCrory was talking about holding lawmakers' feet to the fire on the privilege license tax. If no changes are made to state law, the tax cities charge to businesses that set up shop within their boundaries expires next summer, knocking holes in local budgets around the state. "It's a huge deal," McFarlane said after McCrory finished speaking. Raleigh figures that the privilege tax brings in $7.5 million. That doesn't sound like a lot in terms of the city's $754 million budget, but $7.5 million is more than the city spends on grants to arts, human services and economic development groups combined. Pretty much every city leader sitting in the room during the North Carolina League of Municipalities legislative goal-setting conference could tell a similar story, which explains why McCrory got a round of applause for noting that lawmakers had promised to help local governments replace the lost revenue.
http://www.wral.com/mccrory-lawmakers-pledge-tax-help-for-nc-cities/14272066/

Daily dose: Did somebody say we actually have a budget?

Congress sends Obama $1.1 T spending bill (AP) -- Congress cleared a $1.1 trillion spending bill for President Barack Obama's signature late Saturday night after a day of Senate intrigue capped by a failed, largely symbolic Republican challenge to the administration's new immigration policy.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/12/13/4399526/senate-debates-11t-bill-vote-slips.html

Senate Passes $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill, Joining House (New York Times) -- A rare Saturday session bridged some disagreements, as the chamber approved the measure to fund core domestic government operations. North Carolina’s two senators, Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Kay Hagan, both voted for the bill.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/14/us/senate-spending-package.html?ref=us

Daily dose: Lennon Lacy needs justice edition

F.B.I. to Investigate a Hanging Death in North Carolina (New York Times) -- After state officials said Lennon Lacy, 17, whose body was found hanging from a swing set in North Carolina, committed suicide, the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. asked the F.B.I. to intervene.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/13/us/fbi-to-investigate-a-hanging-death-in-north-carolina.html

FBI reviews hanging death of black teenager (AP) — The black teenager was found in a North Carolina trailer park, hanging from a swing set by a dog leash and a belt that were not his own.
http://www.reflector.com/ap/staten/fbi-reviews-hanging-death-black-teenager-2733557

Daily Dose: Starve the beast edition

POLICY & POLITICS
N.C. revenues are $410 million behind last year and $190M short of forecast (AP) — The gap between predicted and actual North Carolina state revenues is widening because of continued tepid personal income tax collections, but improving sales tax collections approaching the holidays helped keep it spreading further. The monthly report on state revenues issued by the Office of the State Controller says revenues are running $410,1 million behind what was collected a year ago. The legislature's top economist confirmed this week revenues are about $190 million below expectations for the first five months of the fiscal year ending Nov. 30. The first-quarter gap through September was $62 million. The rate of revenue collections is also running behind the pace set a year ago. Last year, by the end of November, the state collected 39.6 percent of the total revenues collected for the fiscal year. Currently, the state has collected just 36.9 percent of the revenues it anticipates for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The critical culprit has been collection of individual income taxes. Not only did the General Assembly cut the tax rate, but the recession and skyrocketing unemployment in North Carolina, which has lagged the nation in recovery, has resulted in many workers returning to the workforce in jobs that pay significantly less then the jobs they held previously. Last summer, a decline in withholdings in the first half of the 2014 calendar year contributed to a $450 million gap in the last fiscal year, making decisions for the current budget written by lawmakers last summer more difficult.
http://www.reflector.com/ap/staten/north-carolina-state-revenues-are-190m-short-forecast-2732391

Daily Dose: Two chickens cross the road

Gonna be a long six years, folks. Tillis is coming out-of-the-blocks with torture advocate Richard Burr as his role model. Neither has served a split-second in the armed forces. Not a split second.

Tillis echoes Burr on torture report (Raleigh News & Observer) -- U.S. Sen.-elect Thom Tillis, who was in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, said the release of the report on CIA interrogation practices during the Bush administration could harm U.S. relations with other countries. His comments echoed those made by his soon-to-be Republican colleague, Sen. Richard Burr.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/12/10/4393708_tillis-echoes-burr-on-torture.html

POLICY & POLITICS
Abortion Debate Looms: Public Asked to Comment on DHHS Rules (Public News Service) -- The future of reproductive health in North Carolina is in the hands of the general public. This month, the North Carolina Department of Health (DHHS) and Human Services proposed new regulations for abortion clinics and now the public has an opportunity to comment.
http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2014-12-11/health-issues/nc-abortion-debate-looms-public-asked-to-c...

Let's give Richard Burr the respect he deserves

When Richard Burr takes over as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee next year, a quintessential oxymoron will step into the spotlight, showcasing North Carolina once again as a state filled with idiots and assholes. Mr. Burr, who famously created his own run on banks at the height of the financial crisis, continues to embarrass us all with every utterance he makes. His comments yesterday about torture and the war crimes of George W. Bush leave no doubt about his loyalties.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said the report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the CIA’s use of torture released Tuesday “only endangers our officers and allies in a blatant attempt to smear the Bush administration.” The Republican U.S. senator from Winston-Salem will become chairman of the Intelligence Committee in January. He said on Tuesday that he would not hold hearings on the report.

“I just don’t know what you would accomplish with hearings,” he said in an interview. Asked if he saw any kind of follow-up, Burr said, “No. Put this report down as a footnote in history.”

As a veteran and former special operations officer in the US Navy, I find Mr. Burr's cavalier observations about CIA torture practices mind-boggling. This is not about smearing anybody, this is about integrity, which is definitely not Mr. Burr's strong suit. If we can't count on the United States Senate to exercise is authority to hold the executive branch accountable for proven war crimes, we are well and truly screwed.

So yeah, let's show Mr. Burr the respect he deserves. Exactly none.

PS Rob Schofield has a slightly more gentle take on Burr's outrageous statements.

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