NC's Opportunity Deficit Only Getting Worse

I noted Rob Christensen’s article in Sunday’s N&O and his point that North Carolina’s unemployment rate has gone up for 4 straight months and yet the NC Senate wants to cut funding for 8,400 teachers assistants.

That unemployment rate is going to go up, not down. Explain this to our GOP electeds? Even if we chose the least confrontational manner possible to point out that in 59 of our 100 counties the public school system is the county’s largest employer, it would not change the minds and votes of our GOP leadership.

Why? Because they no longer consider the people of North Carolina as their constituents. They don’t feel they need to answer to us. They don’t feel a need to even explain themselves. They are following the governing model of cheap labor conservatives and they will force that into place in our state no matter how many of our people are hurt by it. They don’t answer to us anymore.

Weekend mystery-solving: Why is coal baron coming to Raleigh?

And what kind of business is he going to conduct?

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship wants a judge to let him take a business trip to North Carolina. Blankenship made the request Friday in federal court in Beckley.

Blankenship's request says he wants to take a three-day trip to the Raleigh area sometime between Aug. 17 and Sept. 18.

I do love a challenge...

VIVA trial update: 3-way closing arguments

The judge plays devil's advocate for both sides:

Defense attorney Thomas Farr called the Plaintiff's demands " completely unprecedented." He said the Plaintiffs were ordering the state to take up certain practices in order to maximize minority participation. If voting laws had to address all the challenges facing poor voters "there would be no end to it," he said.

Judge Schroeder said same-day registration and early voting were popular with the public. "The point is, they made voting easier," he said. "Government should make voting easier."

Bolding mine. I sure hope the judge pays close attention to those words, because the defense just made the plaintiff's case. We're not asking to "take up" any new practices, just restore what was already in place before Republicans got rid of them. And they got rid of them to minimize minority participation.

VIVA trial update: More "surprise" evidence brought out

Standard Operating Procedure for the party of lies and misdirection:

Neesby was was explaining a chart he had created from Board's voter registration statistics when Plaintiff's attorney Josh Kaul stood up and objected. "We've never seen this before," said Kaul.

Neesby said the chart he presented was culled from data given to the Plaintiffs' team in January and June. Judge Thomas Schroeder overruled Kaul, saying Neesby was using data the Plaintiffs already had.

This is really not the same thing as giving your opposition reams of documents, and then selecting only one to present as evidence. A chart is meant to demonstrate a "pattern," and that pattern becomes the evidence presented. In the absence of having the chart beforehand, it's nearly impossible to verify the accuracy or relevance. And the fact the judge didn't immediately recognize that is further evidence of some previous misgivings brought up here at BlueNC about said judge.

GOP wrecking ball swings at teachers, again

Why should we care about your health after you've retired?

In a meeting Wednesday where House lawmakers discussed key differences between the two chambers’ 2015-17 budget proposals, Rep. Gary Pendleton (R-Raleigh) said he was all for eliminating retiree medical benefits for future teachers and state employees.

“That’s something that should have been done a long time ago,” said Pendleton after legislative staff outlined the differences between salaries and benefits in the House and Senate budgets.

Pardon my French, but va te faire foutre, you miserable excuse for a human being. Is that what they get for dedicating their life to nurturing and painstakingly preparing our children to go out in the world and succeed? A self-righteous brush-off by an investment manager who panders to wealthy, multi-generational families trying to dodge taxes? Well aren't we just lucky as hell to have you.

VIVA trial update: The fault-riddled Interstate Crosscheck system debated

Defense parades more broken memes:

In May 2014 the elections watchdog group Democracy North Carolina issued a press release saying it had found four North Carolina legislators whose first name, last name, date of birth matched voters registered in other states.

Plaintiff's attorney Daniel Donovan asked Strach if she thought the four lawmakers were committing fraud. "I'd have to investigate," she said.

Nice dodge there, Kim. But it doesn't change the fact that Interstate Crosscheck is just another voter suppression scheme cooked up by Republicans:

Coal Ash Wednesday: DENR to permit massive discharges from Sutton Plant


It's not a "leak" if they let you spill it:

A public hearing on a discharge permit related to Duke Energy’s planned coal-ash cleanup has been moved to Aug. 6, a day later than originally scheduled.

Duke Energy is excavating and reburying 7.2 million tons of coal ash on the plant site to comply with a state law requiring the utility to close and clean up its coal-ash ponds throughout North Carolina. The Sutton plant was among the first on the list for cleanup because it has been actively leaking toxic substances into the groundwater and the Cape Fear River.

I'm not naïve, I realize the impoundments need to be "de-watered" before they can be dug up and hauled away. But just because the river is right there handy doesn't mean polluting it is the only way to go. They wouldn't be allowed to do that if it were a Superfund site, and considering the toxins involved, the only difference is in the name. Here's part of the NPDES Permit:

VIVA trial update: "Expert" unfamiliar with VRA

Context is important:

In his cross-examination, Plaintiff's attorney Dale Ho pointed out that eight states — Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia — do not have pre-registration of 16-and-17-year-olds, same-day registration or early voting and prohibit counting out-of-precinct ballots. Ho asked Trende if he considered these eight states to be in the mainstream of U.S. voting laws. Trende said yes.

Ho then asked Trende if he realized all eight states had been placed under some form of federal election supervision before the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.
Trende said he didn't know that.

He should have known that. North Carolina isn't the only state that Republicans have targeted for voter suppression, we're part of a pattern. And that pattern was designed to be self-perpetuating: "Look at what these other states have done; we're just trying to conform." Chances are Trende actually did know, but chose to play possum. Hopefully the judge can see past this ploy, but he is a Dubya appointee, so...


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