NC GOP

Gentrification on steroids: The Opportunity Zone program

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Making money and dodging taxes is the American way:

Developers have a new reason to build in already-booming Durham. A new federal incentive will encourage investors in certain parts of the city, including East Durham, west of Duke University and in Southwest Durham. But the “opportunity zones” could also lead to private investors tearing down existing houses to build big, new houses and getting tax breaks on their returns, Durham County Commissioner James Hill said Monday.

“This is why this has been called the Kushner bill,” he said, referring to Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law.

Personal anecdote time, try not to yawn too much: Every year my town throws a "business social," wherein we invite dozens of movers and shakers to a hoity-toity gathering in the hopes of attracting investments. Last year, one of the speakers was a lady simply giddy with the prospect of Opportunity Zones. She's a banker, but in the investment division, and while I was waiting patiently to hear about how this might improve our town, she spent the entire time (much more than any other speaker) talking about dodging Capital Gains taxes. In short, the more the merrier. Meaning, the really high-dollar projects are preferred, and result in the best "return" on said investments. Not much room for affordable housing in that formula. Here's more from the people who really understand this:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Good news, for now:

Not sure whose bright idea this was, but you don't just casually uproot hundreds of workers if you're being thoughtful.

Gene Nichol on poverty: "They are invisible to us."

Should be required reading for all Democratic candidates:

Nichol builds his case by weaving together the ugly data points about income, education, jobs, and health care with personal anecdotes from hundreds of interviews with the people most affected. It adds up to a damning narrative about a large and growing underclass fostered by callous policy-making in Raleigh and Washington.

“Scarcely a word about poverty is uttered in the halls of the General Assembly,” he writes. “Recent North Carolina governors have almost never mentioned it, regardless of political party.”

In defending our small town's public transportation funding, I've spoken several times about our collective responsibility to do what we can to ameliorate some of aspects of poverty. And I get a lot of nods, and polite applause. I have no doubt most of those folks are genuinely concerned, but I also have no doubt most of them don't believe anything will work. They're willing to dedicate a small amount of resources to it, but that's more about "feeling good" than it is about actually bringing about change. The book is available on Amazon and other outlets, and at UNC Press:

Mark Meadows is even more of an idiot than you thought

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He doesn't understand how Parliaments work, but he likes them (now):

So he began reading about how coalition governments work in countries with parliamentary systems. He has been studying how other minority parties worked when dealing with a powerful House majority, what strategy they can employ and which moves have an impact. So far, those tactics have been relatively tame.

Angry about the wording of a resolution condemning federal government shutdowns, Meadows’s allies forced a vote asking to adjourn the House on Tuesday — it received just 14 votes. “I’ve been preparing for this for six months, so just stay tuned,” he told reporters just off the House floor Wednesday afternoon.

Bolding mine, because the Freedom Caucus has some 35 members, but meadows only got 14 votes with his little stunt. And now a quick primer on coalition governments: While the larger parties need small groups to push them over the plurality threshold, those groups are only valuable if they can deliver their (own) votes to said coalition on controversial issues. And there is (theoretically) a give and take, in which the coalition will support that small group on a handful of "must have" issues. Even if it was a relevant comparison to the U.S. House (it isn't), Meadows just shot himself in the foot by proving he can't deliver all the Freedom Caucus' votes. Not even half of that sad little number. Back to the idiot, who (once again) can't decide if he should be associated with a government shutdown:

Theocracy, by any other name: Government-funded discrimination in foster care

Weren't they just complaining about the Left indoctrinating children?

The reality of what “religious liberty” means in the eyes of the American Christian right continues to come into sharper focus. As the good people at People for the American Way report, the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has granted a waiver to the state of South Carolina so that it can dispense taxpayer dollars to a “child welfare agency” that refuses to place foster children in any homes that do not share the group’s Christian evangelical views.

“Under Miracle Hill’s policies, not only Jews are rejected” as potential mentors and foster parents, reported the Religion News Service. “Muslims, Hindus and atheists are also barred from fostering or mentoring children in the nonprofit’s programs; so too are Catholics.” Don’t even ask about same-sex couples, even if they’re Protestant. Miracle Hill has reportedly received millions of dollars from the state and federal governments."

We sure do hear a lot about how Christian groups help people. But what you don't hear about are the strings that are almost always attached. Ritualized prayer, access to mainstream fiction and the Internet denied, and even compulsory bible study when they can get away with it. It happens a *lot* more than you would think, and government generally turns a blind eye because resources to help people are limited. But in this case, those limited resources, which should only be spent on secular programs, are being funneled into a denomination-specific religious operation. They've actually been doing this since the late 1980's, but the Obama administration (rightfully) clarified the language of the Federal funding requirement a few years ago:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

And today's big surprise:

Just kidding. It's no surprise at all the aging white males would pick another aging white male...

New GOP voter suppression tactic: Block voting at schools

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Making voting harder since 2011:

Lambeth said he is willing to amend the proposed legislation to help attract non-school sites as potential polling places. When asked about whether the legislation could hamper voting in low-income neighborhoods that use schools as precincts, Lambeth said a local school board “should know whether its schools can be made safe or not, with areas secured enough, to allow voting on election days.”

“I focused entirely on the school safety issue, and not the impact on elections. Some schools could have extra on-site security in place on election days” he said.

a) If you were focused entirely on school safety, you would have done something (anything) to limit access to deadly firearms in the wake of all the mass school shootings, and b) There are three (3) separate Amendments to the U.S. Constitution designed to protect the right to vote, so if you completely ignored the potential impact on elections, you are not qualified to be a lawmaker, period. But I think you were well aware of that impact, and are actually counting on it:

Chemours re-importing GenX waste from the Netherlands

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Too hazardous for Europe, just fine for North Carolina:

Chemours has “historically recycled” GenX waste at its Fayetteville Works plant that originated from the company’s facility in Dordrecht, Netherlands, a spokeswoman confirmed Friday. The purpose of exporting the material “is to reduce that quantity that is emitted or becomes waste,” Chemours spokeswoman Lisa Randall said.

“The re-importation of material from Dordrecht for responsible recycle is not something new,” Randall said, and has been occurring for about five years with EPA approval.

That five year timeline becomes much more significant when you look at the history of the DuPont/Chemours operation in Dordrecht. In 2012 Dutch regulators cracked down on the company for decades of mishandling C8 (precursor to GenX), including the mass dumping of the chemical compound in area landfills:

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