NC GOP

Taxpayer-funded mediocrity: Virtual charters get thumbs-up

Despite their questionable performance in other states:

Both schools received unanimous endorsements from an interviewing committee that included representatives from the State Board of Education, its charter school advisory board, state education staff, and an outside evaluator. Some on the panel had to think hard about approving K12, and the company was asked to respond to questions about its performance in other states.

Tennessee’s education commissioner last year threatened to close Tennessee Virtual Academy, managed by K12, unless student performance showed significant improvement. Students in the Tennessee online charter had minimal learning growth. The board of trustees for the K12 school in Pennsylvania decided not to renew its management contract with the company, though it will continue to use its curriculum.

Where are the all-of-a-sudden-interested-in-education legislators who vehemently attacked the Common Core? Where's Lieutenant Dan? Taxpayer dollars going to fund an out-of-state education program, and a poor-performing one at that? Crickets. Proving it's not about the outcomes, it's about the method of delivery. And when that method generates private-sector profits for somebody, all other sins are forgiven

Coal Ash Wednesday: "It's out of our hands."

Duke energy will no longer be responsible for ash dumped in Lee and Chatham Counties:

In most cases, the landowner would be legally liable for such damages. But the owner of the abandoned brick mine is not Duke Energy; it's Green Meadow LLC, a new corporation led by the president of Charah Inc., a Kentucky ash disposal company contracting with Duke on the coal ash project.

Once Charah takes possession of the ash, Duke may not be responsible for the waste, legal experts say, a contingency that may be part of Duke's private contract with Charah. And if Green Meadow or Charah does not have the money to pay damages emanating from a lawsuit, then county governments and the state—not Duke Energy—may be ultimately forced to pay, legal experts say.

This won't be the first time Duke Energy has absolved itself of the responsibility for it's toxic coal ash, but it should be the last. Even the "business-friendly" GOP-led Legislature should recognize that dumping the cost onto taxpayers is wrong. Then again, they haven't shown much compassion for the 99% since they've been at the wheel, so I don't hold out much hope they'll take steps to stop this shifting of responsibility.

For McCrory, money does grow on a Tree

Ethical questions just keep piling up:

In the months after receiving his $171,071 payout of stock from Tree.com, McCrory appointed the state's banking director and a majority of the banking commissioners who regulate mortgage brokers. Some of Tree.com's payments to McCrory and Sanford weren't publicly disclosed until May 2014, when the company filed its 2013 year-end proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

McCrory declined requests for an interview. In a written statement, McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said the governor fully complied with state law and "continues to uphold high ethical standards."

From taking money from out-of-state gambling concerns to insider stock trading, McCrory's ethical lapses have become so numerous they can no longer be attributed to ignorance or incompetence. It's time for a special prosecutor to open an investigation, just like George Holding did when Mike Easley was called to the carpet.

Just how crazy has the NC GOP become?

Thoroughly bat-shit insane, that's how crazy the NC GOP has become. The latest evidence that what used to be LaRouche-caliber lunatic fringe extremism has now become the GOP mainstream was offered at the NC GOP holiday party hosted by US Rep. Charles Taylor. Ol' Chuck decided that no one exudes the Christmas spirit like the disgraced, indicted wacko Tom DeLay, whom he invited to be the featured speaker.

Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay called President Obama a Marxist at a large GOP gathering here Friday night and said the country must return religion to government.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Bringing less than nothing to the table:

Definitely following in Richard Burr's footsteps. Self-styled "defender of veterans" or some other flag-waving label, Tillis will cut their benefits and chicken-hawk them into as many global conflicts as he can, and then take a shower in campaign cash to make him feel better.

Will Pat ever go bye-bye?

McHenry brags about slashing the budget of the EPA:

"Additionally the funding legislation passed Thursday includes a number of important changes including cuts to EPA funding and staffing, cuts that will drop the agency to levels last seen in the 1980s."

That’s quite an accomplishment McHenry is touting, reducing the funding for the agency that protects our water and air and land to the level it was funded 30 years ago. It will be hard to count on the EPA to do its job as a “partner” in cracking down on coal ash pollution if folks like Rep. McHenry keep crusading to make it unable to do its job. Unless of course that was the plan all along.

Massive cuts to DENR, followed by Congressional whittling of the EPA, are most definitely part of the long-term plans of the Koch Bothers' puppets in the Republican Party. And when it's all said and done, we won't even know just how bad we've been poisoned.

The Elevator Queen gets some embarrassing national exposure

Unfortunately, it's a rather obscure source:

In North Carolina, Berry’s official portrait graces the state’s elevator inspection certificates, like the one seen here in a downtown Raleigh hotel elevator car.

Berry, a Republican, was first elected to her post in 2000 and has won re-election ever since. But she’s come under intense criticism, too, for the Department of Labor’s failure to crack down on construction companies treating laborers as independent contractors, which the News & Observer notes is not just unlawful but is a practice that “gives cheating companies an unfair advantage over their competitors. It saves the dishonest companies money but typically leaves workers without Social Security contributions or workers’ comp coverage.”

I wonder how long she would keep winning re-elections if they removed her picture from elevators? And why isn't that considered campaign communications? Campaign communications paid for by the government, no less.

Will the "police body camera" bill ever make it to the NCGA floor?

The Magic 8-Ball sez, "Don't hold your breath."

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus said Wednesday that they expect a bill to be filed when the General Assembly reconvenes in January that would require some, if not all, law enforcement officers in North Carolina to wear body cameras on duty.

The Legislative Black Caucus also plans to file anti-profiling legislation next year, said Rep. Rodney Moore, D-Mecklenburg.

Two major challenges to getting such legislation enacted: 1) Many GOP Legislators refuse to believe racial profiling even occurs, and 2) Most of those who would acknowledge it's happening believe it's not just okay, it's good police work. As such, the anti-profiling bill is dead on arrival, destined to collect dust in one committee or another, and the police body camera bill will probably do likewise, until some Republican writes a different one that merely "studies" the practice, possibly choosing as a test case some Mayberry-ish town with a one-bullet deputy sporting a camera. Prove me wrong, please.

NC GOP hypocrisy about wealth inequality

The NC GOP, champions of making the wealthy wealthier and the poor poorer, seem to have a different viewpoint when it comes to the collective wealth of cities and counties.

A redistribution of local sales tax revenue to benefit poor counties is on the agenda for legislative leaders preparing for the session that begins in January.

...

Republicans from both chambers are talking about changing the distribution formula to funnel more to rural areas. No one offered specifics, but such a shift has the potential to pit urban counties against rural.

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