Federal court declares two NC Congressional Districts racially gerrymandered

And they've got two weeks to fix it:

After careful consideration of all evidence presented during a three-day bench trial, the parties’ findings of fact and conclusions of law, the parties’ arguments, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the plaintiffs have shown that race predominated in both CD 1 and CD 12 and that the defendants have failed to establish that its race-based redistricting satisfies strict scrutiny.

Accordingly, the Court holds that the general assembly’s 2011 Congressional Redistricting Plan is unconstitutional as violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Having found that the 2011 Congressional Redistricting Plan violates the Equal Protection Clause, the Court will require that new congressional districts be drawn forthwith to remedy the unconstitutional districts. See Wise v. Lipscomb, 437 U.S.
535, 539-40 (1978).

Read it and weep, you anti-democratic right-wing losers.

DisConnect NC: Why the Bond is no longer worthy of support

There's no meat in this shepherd's pie:

The Connect NC bond allocates $1.3 billion or 66 percent of the $2 billion bond issue to universities and community colleges, reflecting Gov. Pat McCrory’s commitment to education. The bond issue is being proposed because most major capital projects such as new educational buildings, particularly those at our universities and community colleges, cannot be paid out of the annual operating budget without a serious effect on students.

It has been 15 years since the last bond issue was authorized to update our state’s infrastructure, and since then North Carolina’s population has grown by 2 million. This growth has resulted in significant infrastructure needs from the mountains to the coast.

Bolding mine. If that is the case, it's a manufactured problem. Capital projects have been funded (sometimes well, sometimes not) out of the annual budget for decades, paid for upfront, and those expenditures did not seriously impact other educational funding. What did (and does) hurt education funding is low revenues, first from the Recession, and now from the ill-advised and ideologically-driven tax cuts for the wealthy. Creating a crisis and then pointing to that crisis to justify other mistakes is sophomoric and reckless behavior, and progressives would be wise to avoid supporting such efforts. As James has mentioned before and Andrew (maybe unknowingly) validated in the 2nd paragraph above, we're likely not going to be able to dip into this bond well again, anytime soon. Doing it wrong (or only partly right) is not an option we should be considering. And what's missing from the current bond proposal is critical:

The dubious need for economic "recruiting" organizations

Pouring money into a corrupt black hole:

The former CEO of the Triad’s regional economic recruitment organization has been arrested and charged with four felonies and could face a lengthy prison sentence. David Powell, 51, allegedly took a total of $240,000 that belonged to his former employer and spent it on himself.

Understandably, the board, which consists of area captains of industry, was impressed by Powell’s resume and local roots. A Winston-Salem native, he had been vice president of NetJets, an Ohio company that rents and sells part ownerships of corporate jets. He also had a strong background in economic development. Aviation industry experience, hometown ties, management cred ... Powell had seemed a perfect fit.

He "seemed a perfect fit" because he came from a Warren Buffet-owned company which dealt exclusively with customers from the 1% class. But the only thing that really guarantees is that he had developed a "taste" for the finer things in life, and the affluenza affliction that told him it was his right to take those things if he so desired. Luckily, it appears there were very few taxpayer dollars involved by the time he was hired, but it could have just as easily been the opposite. A greater lesson to be learned: Allowing "captains of industry," however local they may be, manage large fund balances used to incentivize the recruitment of new industries to the region, is simply foolish. Will they help potential competitors? Doubtful. Will they funnel money to people they are already connected with in some way? If they can get away with it. Will allowing a corrupt CEO manage that operation aid in those efforts? Oh yeah.

Wake County Commissioners tackle pay inequality for women

Hopefully other county governments are watching:

Members of the Wake County Board of Commissioners on Monday said they want to find a way that the government and community can help ensure that women achieve the same academic and professional success as their male counterparts. Their comments came after hearing a report that the income gap in Wake County is worse than the national average.

Wake women on average earn 69 percent of what men make, according to Jackie Terry Hughes, an attorney who helped author the report presented to commissioners. Nationally, women earn 79 percent of what men make.

Just a historical note: The Equal Rights Amendment was originally crafted back in 1923, but it finally made its way out of Congress in 1972. It fell just three states short of ratification (35 ratified, needed 38), and of course North Carolina was one of the holdouts. Opponents who didn't want people to see their misogynistic underwear have always claimed the ERA was not necessary, that society would solve the problem by itself without Constitutional force. But here we are in 2016, and the pay gap is still there, forcing women to struggle when their male counterparts don't have to. Or don't have to struggle as desperately. And if they dare to have children outside of the patriarchal formula, their struggles are made epic:

Next on the GOP's chopping block: Health care for state employees

Your family members need not apply:

State employees could lose access to a popular health insurance option and see costs for other options rise under changes the North Carolina State Health Plan board of trustees is due to vote on Friday.

Executives who run the health plan, which covers state workers, teachers and retirees, have also recommended that the board consider eliminating coverage for spouses, likely sending most of them to shop for coverage on Affordable Care Act exchanges.

The wording in the Budget that forced this horrible idea should be considered a precursor of a Taxpayer's Bill Of Rights (TABOR) if that poison pill is ever put before the voters. And I have little confidence the voters would be able to see past the hype and pseudo-patriotic language to understand how damaging it would be.

Duke Energy-funded "advisory board" recommends they not spend billions relocating coal ash

How can you afford advisory boards if you spend all that money?

An advisory board created by Duke Energy says all of the company’s coal ash ponds in North Carolina can safely be capped in place.

When asked by the Charlotte Business Journal about possible criticism that the Advisory Board is “bought and paid for” by Duke Energy, Daniels said: “All these reports have been submitted, signed and sealed by professional engineers and scientists… They are professionals, and that matters more than who they are working for.”

The first thing that popped into my head reading that declaration of professionalism was the Bush quote "Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity." Just because you're a professional it doesn't mean you're not prone to bias or withholding information that could be damaging to your clients. Lawyers are professionals too, and "who they are working for" is a consideration that eclipses all others, including the truth.

Racist propaganda prompted McCrory's Syrian refugee stance

Drinking deeply from a poisoned well of information:

In interviews, McCrory administration officials say there were ongoing discussions that weekend about a potential response. But when Steen dashed off a message to McCrory's personal email account, it was the first written note by one of his senior advisers urging the governor to consider action, according emails provided in response to a public records request.

"I think you should consider coming out in opposition to any more Syrian refugees coming here to the US or N. Carolina because the FBI says they cannot vet the Syrian refugees," Steen wrote, linking to a story in World Net Daily critical of U.S. refugee policy. Early the next morning, McCrory forwarded that email – adding only "FYI" – from his iPhone to his chief of staff, Thomas Stith.

And it doesn't appear that any of these "leaders" questioned the value of relying on a World Net Daily article to guide their policy decisions, a source that is easily in the top five least reliable outlets for credible information. The article itself is mostly a hit-piece against Lindsay Graham, and the author relies heavily on drivel provided by an extremely questionable "professor" using a borderline fraudulent resume:

Meadows harps about serving constituents, while helping predatory mortgage lenders

To seem and not to be:

"When you come up to Washington, D.C., they want you to be on the team up here and what most Americans want is someone who comes up here and doesn't forget the people who send them here," Meadows told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Wednesday night.

He said on Fox that Cruz's approach is, "Let's make sure what we do is really what's right for America, not for him or the lobbyists here or the Washington cartel."

Makes a good sound bite, but what Tea Party Mark doesn't brag about is doing the dirty work for banksters and other well-dressed loan sharks:


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