A new committee of legislators that is looking for ways to save money by making the courts more efficient recently heard just how difficult a task that will be. Lawmakers on the House Judicial Efficiency and Effective Administration of Justice committee, meeting for the first time in November, were given an overview of a statewide judicial system struggling to keep up with caseloads amid budget cuts.
"Do you have any answers?" asked Rep. Allen McNeill, a first-term Republican House member from Asheboro and retired law enforcement officer.
"More funding," Smith replied.
You can provide them with all the statistical data and dour warnings you like but, at the end of the day, all these single-minded GOP lawmakers are going to do is make the occasional inappropriate or non-pertinent comment and then move forward with more budget cuts. In their minds, money is never the answer, it all has to do with "work ethic" or some other phraseology that shifts the blame.
In the midst of such a serious challenge, however, we find it disingenuous and irresponsible that you have chosen to aggressively, publicly, and inaccurately blame environmental organizations for this bridge closure. As a result of your urging, we have been at the receiving end of multiple threats based on misinformation you have provided. Rather than continue with these irresponsible public attacks, we encourage you to provide the leadership required to resolve the closure as quickly as possible and to focus on developing a long term solution to replace Bonner Bridge that ensures safe and dependable transportation to Hatteras Island.
Make no mistake, the Republicans are wetting their pants at the prospect of endangering the safety of the attorneys working for the Southern Environmental Law Center. The group has been a thorn in the side of irresponsible developers and polluting industries, and the GOP would love nothing better than to sweep this organization out of the way. And the bridge is only part of this story. A comment I posted on Facebook:
The Crisis Intervention Program is a federally funded program that helps low-income families pay their heating bills in times of crisis. This year, the county received less money from the program. Funds were cut from $1.3 million to just less than $870,000.
Because of the reduction, the state came out with revised recommended guidelines for who would qualify for help.
Of course it did. Instead of looking for funds elsewhere, NC Republicans just shake their heads like they have no idea why this happened.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is moving to change the government insurance program for 1.7 million of the state’s elderly, disabled and poor residents to a system where providers are paid set rates for each person they treat. As it is now, the government pays fees for each medical treatment or service.
Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican and advisory committee member, said he was concerned about managed care insurance companies coming in to take over big parts of the Medicaid program. He asked whether insurance companies would be needed.
Adam Searing, director of the N.C. Health Access Coalition, has been critical of McCrory’s rap on Medicaid. Searing, whose organization advocates for low-income and working class people, was also critical of Atlas for not presenting what Searing said would have been a complete picture of managed care.
They don't want a complete picture. All they needed to see was "capped payments" and the love affair was off to a great start.
McCrory said exploration is part of a two-pronged approach to make the energy industry a sector that will help North Carolina come roaring out of the recession. The other, he said, is promoting power generation. Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp. is the nation's largest electric power company. McCrory, who previously worked for Duke, said the state needs to look at tax policies that promote power generation.
The governor on Wednesday praised a law passed in 2013 laying out the regulatory framework for building wind farms to create energy. McCrory also said he wants to examine next year the balance between what he called subsidies received to produce renewable energy and the rates charged to consumers.
And when you do, what you'll see is the cost of renewable energy is a tiny fraction of what ratepayers are forced to pay your former(?) employer, compared to CWIP (Construction Work In Progress) and the recent merger fiasco. And when Duke Energy is finally forced to clean up coal ash ponds, they're going to (try to) charge us for that mistake, as well. But with Art Pope pulling your strings, I'm sure none of that will come up.
An annual report shows that more North Carolina teachers left their jobs in 2012-13 than in previous school years.
Out of the 95,028 teachers employed, 13,616 teachers left their districts, resulting in an overall state turnover rate of about 14 percent, or about one out of every seven teachers. That number is a slight increase from the previous year’s turnover rate of 12 percent and 11 percent in 2010-11.
While a healthy portion of those teachers moved to another district, that can be a red flag of other problems, such as low home ownership or a spouse being forced to take a job elsewhere. There are very few green flags associated with a high turnover rate.
Take the time to read this recently acquired confidential document if you want to get a propaganda-free tutorial on the shenanigans of the American Legislative Exchange Council.
And while you're doing that, take the time to contemplate the implications of the Speaker of the NC House trying to sit in two chairs at once. It can't be done safely, and when they start to roll away from each other, which chair do you think he will choose?
When you've finished those tasks, take the time to explore this new website, which is a handy tool for tracking how the assortment of conservative "foundations" fund various pseudo-scientific bullshit-producing stink-tanks, including our very own John Locke Foundation. But keep a small trash can or other vomit receptacle handy, as you'll probably need it.
The pollution is likely responsible for a 50% reduction in largemouth bass in the lake, says Dennis Lemly, an associate professor of biology at Wake Forest who written a new study of the lake's fish population. He says he has direct evidence that selenium poisoning is killing an estimated 900,000 bluegill in the lake every year.
He put the value of the fish killed at between $4.5 million and $7 million per year. And he said selenium leaching from the ponds is leaving thousands more fish deformed.
Of course Duke Energy disputes this study, even though they've known for years that the Sutton coal ash situation has been deteriorating steadily. And it's not just the fish that are being adversely impacted, Sutton leaks are ruining the water table in the area, as well:
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