NCGA

Tough talk on failed charter schools

But will they put those words into actions?

The draft policy also calls for imposing civil penalties on individual board members when the charter fails to turn over student records to the family’s new school. A penalty of $100 could be issued for each day. The state has had issues with some charter schools turning over student records when they closed.

When PACE Academy in Carrboro was closed by the state in 2015 due to financial issues, parents were clamoring for their children’s records. Adam Levinson, interim director of the state Office of Charter Schools, said the records were only recovered when the landlord for PACE called the state asking about what to do with the abandoned documents.

Here's a radical concept: You use taxpayer funding for your operation, then you should be held accountable when you screw up. And if you're on a board (be it non-profit) that pays you a salary, the taxpayers should be able to recoup some of that money if you fail in your duties to manage the defunct charter school. All that said, the school privateers in the General Assembly will not allow much more than a rap on the knuckles for their heroes, so the state Advisory Board better find a happy medium or risk a Legislative firing squad.

GOP Legislators using threats and coercion on lobbyists

It's their default leadership option:

Lobbyists say they've been told – either directly by legislative leaders or by lawmakers' staff – that, if they or the businesses they represent speak out publicly against House Bill 2, they can expect retribution from House and Senate leaders. Legislation they want won't move, and other bills could actually target them.

WRAL News spoke with 11 lobbyists who have experienced or are aware of such actions, but none would speak on the record for fear they would lose business or be targeted for retribution. One has already lost business.

They just keep digging their hole deeper, just like a child who refuses to admit he was wrong. What these idiots don't understand: Threatening to "cut off" lobbyists and their principals merely highlights the fact elected officials normally do favors for lobbyists and their principals. Like I said, children, whose temperament and lack of reasoning skills very often cause them to reveal stuff they're trying to hide from us adults.

Legislative alert: The attack on Solar farms continues

If this bill becomes law, you won't see any more renewable projects being built:

§ 143‑215.127. Setback and landscape buffer requirements.

(a) Setback requirements. – A wind or renewable energy facility shall be sited no nearer than one and one‑half miles from the property line of any adjacent parcels. The one and one‑half mile setback requirement shall not apply to adjacent parcels having common ownership with the facility or the parcel where the facility is situated.

(c) Landscape buffer requirements for solar farms. – A solar farm shall maintain a landscape buffer by installing native landscaping, including trees and shrubs, in a perimeter surrounding the solar farm and any equipment related to that solar farm. The landscape buffer shall provide the greatest degree of screening feasible and shall minimize visual contact with the solar farm for any adjacent parcels. For the purposes of this subsection, a "solar farm" means an array of multiple solar collectors that transmit solar energy and where the collection of solar energy is the primary land use for the parcel on which it is situated.

Bolding mine. It would need to be researched by active Solar farm developers in our state, but I doubt more than one or two projects to date would have met that 1 1/2 mile setback requirement. That alone is a lethal blow to the industry, which is obviously the goal of this bill. When they decided to amend the Statute that had previously dealt only with wind turbines, they tripled the setback distance from 1/2 mile to 1 1/2 miles. That's more than ten times the distance the state is requiring fracking wells to be setback from homes and surface water (creeks, lakes, rivers). Kill this bill, before it kills NC's Solar farm industry.

McCrory channeling the slave-masters of the old South

"States' rights" dogwhistle usually signals the loss of rights for somebody:

Such an attempt to change the dialogue from civil rights to states’ rights is nothing new for Southern conservatives. The question of whether the American Civil War was fought over slavery or states’ rights is one that continues to fire up the general public, though historians have long reached a consensus that the states’ right white Southerners wished to protect was slavery, and that without slavery there would have been no war.

Since I am a former history major myself, I really appreciate a solid historical spanking like this. But if you'll also notice, the author wisely avoided making the mistake that many others have (including some very intelligent journalists, by the way), by referring to those 19th Century bigots as "Southern conservatives" and not Democrats. Roles have reversed party-wise, but that screwed up mentality still exists. Here's more:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Some anti-gay skeletons in McCrory's closet:

It sure would have been helpful if this had come out in 2012:

“I’m not going to publicly announce that something discriminates.”

McCrory's campaign advisors must cringe every time he speaks:

McCrory said the Justice Department gave him an unrealistic “three working days” to respond. “It’s the federal government being a bully,” he said.

Myers Park Pat is literally coming apart at the seams. The more he speaks, the more he shows himself to be painfully unqualified for the job voters gave him.

Charlotte and GOP Legislators "negotiating" on HB2

The fable of the scorpion and the frog comes to mind:

When the legislature’s top leaders met privately with Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts on Thursday, both sides discussed what neither has been willing to suggest publicly: What if we each gave a little to end the crisis over House Bill 2?

Under one proposal, the City Council would rescind its LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance as a good faith gesture. In exchange, the state would make changes to HB2.

You know what? I believe in compromise. I believe in resolving problems whenever possible, even if that means you don't get everything you want. But since this crisis began, the GOP has placed *all* of the blame for HB2 on Charlotte, while smugly and self-righteously maintaining their fabricated high-ground. As far as I'm concerned, the Charlotte City Council is not culpable of anything, so they shouldn't feel "compelled" to help resolve this problem. A problem Republicans brought on themselves. All that being said, if the Council decides to proceed, they are sharp enough to do so wisely.

Taking a poke at the NC GOP's "neo-carpetbaggers"

And their misplaced fears and prejudice were wrapped up in that carpet:

But recently some of my friends and I were commenting on the fact that a not inconsiderable number of people in high places here are not from around here. Phil Berger, president pro tempore of the N.C. Senate, was born in New Rochelle, N.Y. John Fennebresque, former UNC Board of Governors chairman, is from Oyster Bay, Long Island, and a graduate of Choate, a Connecticut prep school. Gov. Pat McCrory was born in Columbus, Ohio. Bob Rucho, former chairman of the N.C. Senate Redistricting Committee and former co-chairman of the Finance Committee, is from Worcester, Massachusetts, and a graduate of Northeastern University. Thom Tillis, recently elected to the U.S. Senate, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and attended Chattanooga Community College. He is reported to have moved about 20 times. My friend, the writer Fred Hobson, calls these men “neo-carpetbaggers.”

Just an anecdote, but probably not a rare one: Several years ago a virtual stranger unloaded a whining rant in my ear, centered around the fact two African-American families had moved into houses on his street. Because I'm a white male with a barely-kept-in-control Southern accent, this happens more often that you'd think. Dude was from Long Island, and he actually said to me, "The main reason we moved down here was to get away from that crap." Not trying to imply the South would be prejudice-free in the absence of such racist immigrants, but, you know. We don't need any help perpetuating that nonsense.

SolarBee project has (finally) come to an end

But don't expect the Jordan Lake Rules to be implemented just yet:

In a press release Thursday afternoon, the Department of Environmental Quality announced it will end the project after data tracked since the devices were activated "indicated no significant improvement in water quality."

"I appreciate the work our staff has done over the last two years to evaluate the potential of the SolarBee technology to improve water quality at Jordan Lake," DEQ Secretary Donald van der Vaart said in the release. "I'm discontinuing the SolarBee project after reviewing nearly two years of scientific data that show it will not yield the intended results."

If by "intended results" you mean any results at all, then yes, that is an accurate statement. Poor van der Vaart probably risked an embolism admitting that much. As to the timeline on actually doing something that could improve the water quality of Jordan Lake, we're looking at two more years of delay:

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