NCGA

Environmental Injustice: Living in Hogland

Talk about your bad neighbors:

The EPA says the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has not done enough to reduce asthma, stench, flies, truck traffic and other problems caused by the facilities. The federal agency also says it has “grave concerns” about reports from minority neighbors of threats and intimidation against those who have complained.

“North Carolina hog farmers are good neighbors who care deeply about protecting our water and air,” Andy Curliss, chief executive officer of the Pork Council, said in a statement released Wednesday. “We welcome the opportunity to sit down with state regulators and those who live near our farms to address any concerns they may have.”

Oh, Andy. How far you've fallen. You used to investigate stories like this, and uncover the dark secrets behind the shining public façade. Now you are that façade. And you're not just covering up unethical business practices, some of this behavior is not unlike the mafia in its implied violence and brutality:

Introducing the NC GOP's favorite money-man: Roger W. Knight

A little background from our friend Greg Flynn:

The Carolina Business Coalition, Inc., has been in existence since May of 2011 but publicly dormant until recently. Originally set up by Roger Knight, a campaign finance attorney with fingers in various right-wing pies, the organization switched the record of responsibility in April to Peter Barnes who filed paperwork for the Carolina Business Coalition Education Fund with both the IRS and the State Board of Elections on May 10th. Roger Knight serves as a director of the parent Carolina Business Coalition which is chaired by Allen Gant, President and CEO of Glen Raven, Inc. a major contributor to Real Jobs NC set up by Fred Eshelman, and for which Knight has served as Executive Director. In 2010, largely funded by the Republican State Leadership Committee, Real Jobs NC spent $1.6 million on state races, a big factor in the Republican takeover of the NC General Assembly.

Since the early days of the Republican takeover of NC government, dark money has poured into individual races for the General Assembly, often in the form of vague (and hugely expensive) television commercials promoting Republican candidates or attacking their Democratic opponents. For the most part, those subsequently elected (or re) officials have tried to separate themselves from that dark money. But while doing a search on the new Appropriations Committee Co-Chair (Dean Arp), I stumbled across this relatively new 501(c)4 independent expenditure org which is directly tied to the NC House GOP leadership:

US Navy keelhauls Bill Cook's anti-wind attempt

Exposing his severe lack of knowledge and research:

The U.S. Navy did not contact state lawmakers about shutting down Amazon Wind Farm US East, nor does it have evidence the farm can't co-exist with its nearby radar facility, a Naval spokeswoman reported Friday.

“The MIT Lincoln Laboratory modeling of this wind farm determined the acceptable number of turbines and acceptable distance from the ROTHR receive site,” she wrote, also noting its modeling was based on the “specific turbine model proposed by the developer.” She continued the Navy agreed in November 2014 to let the developer build 104 turbines, reduced from 150, and then “conduct post-construction testing of the Avangrid wind farm this year to validate the compatibility modeling that was performed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory.”

I was actually waiting for something like this, because Cook tried to pull the same BS with his "military flight path" bill, which would have outlawed wind farms on about 85% of Eastern North Carolina land. In that case, the FAA was (and is) intricately involved in mapping flight paths and the potential for obstruction for each turbine tower. Of course the Navy was already involved, and had taken steps to make sure its operations wouldn't be disrupted. And Bill Cook just made fools out of everyone who signed that stupid letter.

In pursuit of fairness and transparency, let the Carolina Journal in

Because it's not about them, it's about us:

The conservative Carolina Journal, which is published by the John Locke Foundation, says that its reporters have been banned from covering the new governor’s news conferences. The publication was not able to cover the governor’s Dec. 15 news conference, and the report says email requests for notice and access to other events went unanswered.

Cooper spokesman Ford Porter told the (Raleigh) News & Observer on Thursday that no one is being frozen out of news conferences or events, and if any reporter has been denied access, it was an “oversight.”

No doubt the truth is somewhere in-between, because the controversy of exclusion is a juicier story than witnessing department heads being introduced. That being said, favoring or disfavoring individual media outlets or their reporters is already a huge problem in this country, and we have a chance in this administration to show how it should be done. If Art Pope's people choose to write a skewed story, let's make sure it wasn't due to a lack of information or exposure.

Governor Cooper expands lawsuit against GOP-dominated Legislature

Chipping away at the massive power-grab:

This expanded lawsuit also challenges what it calls the “unprecedented” provision requiring the governor’s Cabinet appointments are subject to Senate confirmation. The lawsuit also challenges a provision that drastically reduced the number of state employees who are political appointees and exempt from state personnel protections, as well as a provision that allowed hundreds of those exempt employees to become non-exempt.

Further, Cooper’s suit challenges a provision that allowed the appointment of the spouse of Gov. Pat McCrory’s chief of staff, Yolanda Stith, to the state Industrial Commission for an unprecedented nine-year term. The provision “confers an exclusive privilege upon a single person with no benefit to the general welfare,” the lawsuit reads.

Understand, the widening scope of this lawsuit is merely reflective of the GOP's appetite for power. What Roy is engaging in is not "radical" or "all-encompassing," it is the classic definition of a "measured response." And don't let any pundit or editorial staff get away with making it seem like an overreach on the Governor's part. They have a really bad habit of forgetting or editing out context, to get a little more "pop" out of news developments, and that very often serves to mislead more than inform. Friendly reminders in the comment section, or even LTEs, can be more than just a way to vent frustration.

US Supreme Court puts freeze on 2017 Special Elections

But this Tweet from John Burns is muy importante:

Hopefully the Appeal will be heard and rejected with the quickness, and we can get about the business of fair elections.

And a child will lead them

Mark Johnson has his first day at school board:

He had successes and failures, he said, but the story that sticks with him is one about a 16-year-old student he taught in his second year. By that time, Johnson had his class management skills down, he explained, so the students would file into the classroom quietly, collect their assignments and books, and start reading.

One particular student — the aforementioned 16-year-old — was more fond of skipping class and cutting up. But one day, when the student walked in and saw all the other kids behaving properly, he asked Johnson for his textbook and assignment. Johnson said he was thrilled. It was a dream moment for a teacher — getting through to a hard-to-reach student. But Johnson’s enthusiasm was smashed moments later when the student called him over after starting the assignment. “I still remember to this day,” Johnson said. “He told me, ‘Mr Johnson, I can’t read the words in this book.’”

I've mentioned this before, but I'm going to do it again: The part of this story that should stand out to everybody reading it, is the fact these kids only had access to their textbook for the 55 minutes they were in class. They should have it with them in study hall, when they go home in the afternoon, right before they go to bed, when they get up in the morning, while they're riding the bus (or car) to school, etc. But when your budget is so tight you've got five or six classes of children sharing the same books, you've got to "ration" their usage. Like a fricking basketball during P.E. That should have been the moral to Mark Johnson's story every time he told it, but it sounds like it didn't even register on him.

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