NC GOP

Skvarla losing the Op-Ed battle over DENR-approved pollution

It's better to let someone think you're an idiot than clicking the "send" button and proving it:

The recent attack on The Fayetteville Observer's journalistic integrity by the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was unfounded. In a letter to the editor ("Coal-ash pond editorial challenged," Oct. 14), Secretary John Skvarla attempted to defend his agency's decision to allow pumping of contaminated water into North Carolina's rivers and lakes from Duke Energy's coal ash sites across the state without permits, controls and limits - or public disclosure and input.

Under Secretary Skvarla's leadership, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources touts customer service, and its actions indicate those customers served are the polluters, not the public. DENR and its secretary should instead direct their energies toward protecting our waters for the people and families of North Carolina.

Every time Skvarla tries to sell the public on the idea that he knows what he's doing, he just demonstrates more convincingly that he doesn't. I was going to say, "It's like struggling in quicksand." But it's more like seeing a patch of quicksand and just hopping in. Painfully stupid.

Richard Burr pulls a Jesse Helms on Ebola vaccine

"It's your own fault, you shouldn't have wasted money on XYZ.":

It is unsettling that in discussing shortfalls in the federal government’s response to the Ebola crisis, some Beltway observers have resorted to the traditional Washington shell game: blame the budget. The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, has lamented the lack of an Ebola vaccine and therapeutics due to insufficient resources. It is not, however, all that surprising.

The blame-the-budget game diverts the conversation away from focusing on NIH accountability for past priorities and spending. Those grumbling about the lack of resources should not neglect the resources poured into low-priority and perhaps unnecessary projects at NIH during the last decade.

Oh, the irony. Burr is doing exactly what he complains about, playing a shell game and diverting the conversation. Jesse Helms was notorious for digging up some frivolous-sounding government program or research project to use as a foil to deny needed funding, even if the foil in question received very little funding and/or resources. Burr, like many of his Republican colleagues, has turned "doing nothing" into an art form.

Debunking the "Stimulus" attacks on Kay Hagan

As usual, Carolina Journal only reports part of a story:

The Carolina Journal report expands on the Politico story, noting that the JDC originally projected spending $438,627 but was later revised downward by more than $100,000 and emphasizing the company "kept all of the savings, sending none back to taxpayers who had funded the stimulus grant."

However, an internal accounting of the project provided to WRAL News by JDC Manufacturing shows that that the project's final costs totaled $503,477. A company spokeswoman said the official project cost was revised downward to show the money actually spent by Dec. 31, 2010, the end of the grant's term. The rest of the money was spent in 2011, and those costs were not eligible to be reimbursed. Other records disclosed by the Energy Division show the total cost of the JDC project inching up to roughly $509,000 over two years, confirming the accounting provided by the company.

And it's a good bet the "researchers" at Art Pope's propaganda-laced "newspaper" were well aware of the total cost of the project, but chose to exclude that information from their report, because it would have completely negated their "pocketed $100,000 of taxpayer's money" smoking gun revelation.

NC GOP continues its blatant attack on student voters

A desperate and illogical move to support a bent Watauga County election board:

Attorneys for the state have asked the North Carolina Supreme Court to block an early-voting site on the campus of Appalachian State University in Watauga County. Late Friday afternoon, the North Carolina Court of Appeals agreed, issuing a temporary stay against the site until at least Tuesday and ordering both sides to submit arguments.

The population of Watauga County is not evenly distributed geographically. Students at Appalachian State make up one-third of the county’s population. Thirty-five percent of all early voters in Watauga County in 2012 cast their votes on campus at the school’s Plemmons Student Union, which has been an early voting site since 2008. It’s been the overwhelming site of choice for early voters between 18 and 25 in the past three elections.

Which makes it enemy #1 in the eyes of power-mad Republicans. Which is obvious to anyone looking at the situation, including the NCSBE, who gave their blessing for this patently un-Democratic move against a third of the County. And the state board is well aware of how bad this recent legal move looks, which is why they tried to blame it on Roy Cooper:

NC Supreme Court "snatches" Hofmann Forest case from CoA

But it's doubtful they're coming to the rescue of said forest:

In a surprising move, the N.C. Supreme Court decided Friday that it will hear the long-running and controversial Hofmann Forest case before the state Court of Appeals rules on it. The Supreme Court “snatch” -- in the words of Ron Sutherland, one of the case’s lead plaintiffs -- is but the latest twist in a long-running saga full of them.

The second theory is that the Supreme Court, which has a majority of conservative judges, simply wanted to decide the case instead of letting a more unpredictable appeals court make the ruling, which was due any day. “We hope that this is not the reason,” Sutherland said. “It would be a rather blatant act. But it’s hard to say exactly what the motivation might have been. If it’s this second theory that’s right, all we can do is encourage people to vote for good, honest judges who will look at this case fairly and make what we think is the right decision.”

I can tell you with about 90% accuracy what the motivation was: If the Supremes waited for the CoA's decision, like they usually do, the scope of their approach to the case and subsequent actions (rulings) would have been limited/dictated by the CoA's opinions. By pre-empting the CoA, the higher court can argue based on a smaller set of legal principles and precedent. In other words, they don't want the input of the CoA, and that usually only happens when somebody has already made up their mind. The life expectancy of Hofmann Forest just got a lot shorter.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Hundreds of NC drinking water wells at risk

And every one of them should be tested:

Duke Energy officials have identified 830 private and public drinking water supply wells near the company’s 32 coal ash storage ponds in North Carolina, according to an initial survey the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources released on Friday. Duke Energy conducted the survey to meet a requirement of the Coal Ash Management Act, which recently became state law.

DENR staff members are reviewing the surveys to determine which wells should be sampled first, and how frequently and how long sampling should continue. The determination will be completed based on the hydrologic potential for impacts to the drinking water wells. The sampling plan can be amended as additional information is gathered about the flow of groundwater and the extent of any detected contamination.

One of the best (only?) ways to determine the flow of groundwater is to test for the migration of specific elements, and the easiest way to do that is to, you know, test all the fricking wells. You can speculate about the flow by examining (what we believe) is the nature of the sub-strata, but computer models won't be much consolation to a family exposed to contamination.

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