NCGA

Senator Burr forced to cast provisional ballot

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It's quite possible the dog ate my driver's license:

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr cast a ballot during the the early voting period for the North Carolina primary after going to a polling place without an acceptable form of identification. Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem running for re-election, cast a provisional ballot and filled out a “reasonable impediment” form, state elections records show.

“Sen. Burr discovered he lost his ID when he arrived at the polling location, but he went out and got a new drivers license,” his spokeswoman said in an email.

And I'd like to know exactly what forms of identification he was asked to present by the DMV. If one were cynical, one might speculate this whole thing was staged, so the Senator could be called to testify in court that the Voter ID issue is not partisan in nature. Or something along those lines.

McCrory's DMV actively engaged in voter suppression

It's no longer just a coincidence:

Knowing that she would need a photo ID to vote in North Carolina, Burke asked a friend to drive her to the Department of Motor Vehicles office on Patton Avenue on Feb. 10. She had with her a Maine driver’s license, social security card and North Carolina Medicaid card, but was told that she needed a document showing her full middle name rather than the initial “M” (for Marie).

“Because I didn’t have anything that the DMV said I needed to have, like a birth certificate, divorce decree, income tax or W-2 forms stating what the M stood for, I was refused a picture ID,” wrote Burke in a statement.

Her voter registration has her listed as "Juliet M. Burke." Verifying her full middle name should not be part of the DMV's task, and it probably isn't officially. This needs to be investigated properly, with all e-mails and other communications from the agency down to regional offices subpoenaed, to see what kind of guidance and directives have been sent out.

Open filing for Supreme Court seat March 16-25

Using the legal system to repair the legal system:

Sabra Faires, a Wake County attorney, filed a lawsuit last year asking the three-judge panel to toss out the law, arguing that moving from contested elections to up-or-down retention votes was a change that required a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution – something that did not happen.

Faires and two Wake County voters who joined her in the lawsuit faced off against the state Board of Elections in a hearing last month. The three-judge panel ruled in favor of the challengers. Faires said earlier this week that she plans to file as a candidate.

This could get ugly pretty quickly. If the GOP decides to pull the same kind of trick they tried with Robin Hudson, by stacking the Primary with Republican Justice candidates and banking on the non-partisan "you may choose two" effect, there could be two R's running against each other in November. In a perfect world, Sabra Faires would be facing Edmunds in the General. She's earned it. But if things get weird, having more Dems in the lineup may be the only way to secure that seat and flip the Court. And just to rectify some sloppy reporting:

Under pressure, DHHS lifts "do not drink" advisory

The water hasn't improved, they just moved the goal posts:

Months after telling the owners of hundreds of wells near coal ash ponds that their water was unsafe to drink, North Carolina public health and environmental officials are now telling them the water is fine. The chemicals in the water haven't changed, but the state's guidelines have.

DEQ's haphazard approach to coal ash regulation

Their method for assessing risk creates a high risk for our state:

Coal ash pits at Duke’s 14 power plants have already contaminated groundwater, and just last Friday (March 4), DEQ issued notices of violation to Duke for allowing coal ash wastewater to leak from its pits at 12 power plants across the state. Unfortunately, NC’s Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA), which creates requirements and timelines for the closure of coal ash pits, allows Duke to put a cap on pits that receive a “low-risk” rating. Duke could leave coal ash where it is, threatening groundwater, presumably forever.

DEQ failed to determine draft ratings for ash pits at six of Duke’s facilities by its December 31, 2015 deadline: Rogers (formerly Cliffside), Roxboro, Allen, Buck, Belews Creek, and Marshall. Instead, the agency rated coal ash pits at these sites as “low-to-intermediate.” Coal ash pits at these sites will eventually receive a rating of either “low” or “intermediate” risk. DEQ says that public comments will influence its decisions, and that even ratings of “intermediate” and “low” risk are subject to change based on public input.

Okay, I'm glad to see DEQ's interest in public feedback. That being said, classifying the risk levels of coal ash ponds based on subjectivity (the number of people who show up and their personal opinions) is just one more deviation from scientific analysis. And it provides the cover for DEQ to conclude whatever the hell they feel like. Nearly all of these sites in question just got spanked for leaking, so the question of risk has already been answered by DWQ:

Lifelong Republican questions attacks on renewable energy

Hopefully the beginning of a movement:

In Forsyth County where I live, we have more than 75 renewable energy projects, including biomass and solar on corporate, residential, educational and government properties or projects producing power that’s sold directly to a utility. We also have 45 EnergyStar certified buildings and 27 LEED-certified buildings. Clean energy is an engine to create jobs and generate much-needed investment in all 100 counties of North Carolina.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) held a “Free the Grid Tour” event in Winston-Salem last week about the “power struggle” in North Carolina, inviting the community to “return power to the people.” However, they’re also calling for the repeal of the REPS law — and the resulting market competition. As a free-market issue, how can AFP and other clean-energy critics want to return power to the people, but strip them of our state’s limited market competition and choice?

The answer is simple, really. AFP was created and is funded by the fossil fuel industry, and renewable energy is a direct threat to their profit margins. You don't need one of the Koch Industries' leaky pipelines to run a Solar farm or a biomass facility, and energy-efficient buildings reduce the 'load" demand on coal and natural gas power plants. What happened recently in Asheville is a prime example. Duke Energy was given permission to build two nat gas power plants, but their 3rd "backup" plant was rejected as not necessary:

Spellings making changes based on report funded by anonymous donor

So much for transparency and collaboration:

“We need the right structure and the right people doing the right things,” Spellings said. “We must break down silos and encourage collaboration, transparency and effectiveness.” A $1.1 million study by the Boston Consulting Group is analyzing the university system’s staff organization and will have a final report in the coming weeks.

A preliminary update on the report, which was funded by an anonymous donor, on Friday showed 15 general recommendations, including expansion of external affairs, a lean strategy and policy unit, and a strengthened data and analytics function.

This is a public University System, built with literally billions of taxpayer dollars, and we're supposed to be meekly satisfied this anonymous donor has the best interests of tens of thousands of students and a healthy chunk of our annual budget in mind? Either the name of the donor or the specifics of the contract (what the donor asked for), or both, need to be made public immediately. I'm also not sure it's a coincidence that Art Pope is in California testifying on the need to shelter Koch donors from public scrutiny, especially considering his history of attempting to manipulate UNC System curricula.

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