NC GOP

The GOP's privatization of DOT costly for schools

Boom for the paving industry is a bust for struggling local education funders:

The budget bill provision mandates that the DOT outsource more of its pavement preservation work over the next four years. At least 80 percent of the department’s pavement preservation budget must be going to the private paving industry by 2018, Herron reported.

Darrell Walker, assistant superintendent of operations for the local school district, told the Journal that the district was mainly using the DOT crew to chip seal student parking lots. The average price from the DOT has been about $5.25 per square yard, he said, and he estimates that the private-sector move will cost the district about $12 per square yard.

No doubt Republicans in the General Assembly will pat themselves on the back for "saving taxpayer's money" at the state level, while ignoring the fact it's being horribly wasted at the local level, thanks to them. And they'll have all the supporting misinformation they need from idiots like this:

Voting machine swiches Hagan vote to Tillis

And it's unknown how many other votes it may have changed:

The problem occurred at the Craft Recreation Center in Greensboro Wednesday morning. A voter intended to vote for Kay Hagan. But before he pressed the vote button, it switched to Thom Tillis. He tried again, and the same thing happened.

The voter then alerted poll workers. Guilford Elections Director Charles Collicutt says they re-calibrated the machine and now it is reporting as is should be. The error with the Craft Rec Center machine is the only one known to have the problem this cycle. He says there’s no way to know for sure how many times such an error has occurred.

There's one way they can check: Check all the votes for that particular machine, and if a voter chose mostly Democrats in other races but also voted for Thom Tillis, there's a good chance that Tillis vote was incorrect. Especially after what happened with the Pat McCrory fiasco, I doubt there's many crossover Dems voting for Thommy Boy.

On fears, fantasies and critical thinking

In which I discuss monsters, both real and imagined:

As Halloween approaches, many are consumed with the desire to scare each other with elaborate costumes and behavior. Ghosts and witches, who previously ruled this holiday, have been replaced by more horrific entities: The ubiquitous walking dead and chainsaw-wielding psychopaths. It’s all in fun of course, but it’s also extremely ironic. Because many of us live in genuine fear of imaginary monsters for the other 364 days of the year, and it negatively alters our understanding of the world around us.

Campaign season is a time when reality suffers and the truth becomes a vague concept, but it's really the most important time for such things. Here are a few more excerpts from my appeal for thoughtful evaluation:

Say the "magic words" or your right to vote is questioned

New Hanover County BoE administers geography test to student voters:

In New Hanover County, dormitory students who cannot state their street address will not be allowed to cast a regular ballot in the coming election. The New Hanover County Democratic Party is challenging this procedure, saying it disenfranchises student voters.

"In other counties, they send dormitory lists to the polling place, and the poll workers have them, and if the student can identify the dormitory they live in, they assist them with the street address. And there’s really been no good reason stated by this Board of Elections why they’re out of sync with the State Board of Elections and other counties."

There's a reason all right, it just isn't a "good" reason. Assisting average voters is not high on the GOP's list of priorities, and assisting student voters is not on that list at all. It's on another list, that would be titled "suppress these people," if they were dumb enough to actually write it down somewhere.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Putting lipstick on a toxic pig

Duke Energy's "philanthropy" geared towards area beautification, not watershed protection:

The foundation is particularly interested in receiving applications from economic development programs that would enhance “community beautification and maintenance with a measurable impact on increasing tourism, business and population growth within the county.”

In the environmental category, RCCF seeks programs “that have a visible impact on the local community, such as outdoor classrooms or environmental signage along trails, (and) walkways along the river.”

While this $10 million from Duke Energy was a voluntary donation and had no regulatory requirements attached, the "visible impact" qualifier for use of these funds makes it part of their wider public relations efforts. Most of the real work that is done safeguarding and enhancing water quality is not visible to the average passerby, but it's much more important than streetscaping or posting a sign by a trail.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

We'll start out with a detestable specimen of right-wing trickery:

He's lucky I wasn't there at the time. Evil Steve has been itching to emerge, if only for a few minutes.

Tillis banking on "kitchen table" issues

In other words, he's waiting for Fox News to tell him what to scare people with:

But the political ripples of legislation the General Assembly has passed that reduced unemployment benefits, initiated new voting and abortion restrictions and rejected Medicaid expansion also awakened Democrats into action. And allegations from Hagan and her allies — amped with millions of dollars for television ads — that Tillis harmed public education wasn't easily shaken entering the fall.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Tillis said the path to persuading the undecideds to vote for him runs along kitchen-table issues and increased worries of average citizens that have grown under Democratic leadership. "I will be obsessed with fulfilling the promise that these Republicans running across the country are making today," Tillis said at the Raleigh rally.

What Tillis seems to be forgetting here: Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians are struggling to put food on that kitchen table, and many of them owe that difficulty to the Republican Party's gross mistreatment of the unemployed. And dedicating yourself to serving the desires of Republicans from other states has got to be one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. That statement needs to be part of Hagan's ad blitz, like right now.

Greensboro N&R endorses Fjeld over crazy local pastor

A victory for common sense:

Our choice is Fjeld, who lives in Orange County and worked as general counsel for the UNC system after many years in private law practice.

The truth about Walker is a bit difficult to pin down. To an extent, Fjeld has a point. Walker promises to introduce legislation “clearly stating that all life begins at conception,” a position that raises tremendous potential complications. He opposes stem-cell research. He supports school vouchers, a flat tax and getting “government out of the way of our economy.” He also made disturbing remarks about bombing Mexico and President Barack Obama declaring “Sharia law and martial law,” which he later retracted.

A few weeks ago it appeared the N&R was gearing itself up to endorse Walker, going out of its way to apologize and rationalize his behavior. The fact they couldn't bring themselves to commit for him is very telling, and will hopefully have more of an impact than the usual newspaper endorsement would.

Tipping the scales: NC's Judiciary shaped by out-of-state money

The final frontier of unchecked power:

But the mandatory retirement of Sarah Parker, the chief justice from 2006 until the end of August, opened up a spot on the bench. Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Associate Justice Mark Martin, a Republican, to fill the vacancy until the Nov. 4 elections. Robert N. Hunter Jr., a Republican who was on the N.C. Court of Appeals, was then named to serve in Martin’s seat until the election.

That shifted the balance in September to five Republicans and two Democrats. There have been few cases decided since then that reflect what that shift might mean for politically charged lawsuits.

There may have been only time for a "few" cases, but they've been instructive enough. The Supreme Court is gearing up to become much more involved in cases with a partisan nature, pre-empting the lower Court of Appeals when it will be advantageous to do so. That "pro-active" approach to the law does not bode well for those seeking Constitutional clarification or redress, nor does having justices owe allegiance to DC political heavyweights:

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