Another Step Towards School Privatization

Thanks to Lindsay Wagner at NC Policy Watch, I can call your attention to this news in education. Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg) has gutted SB 95 and replaced it with language that will take low performing NC elementary schools, put them into a special Achievement School District (ASD) and turn them over to for-profit charter management companies. The plan is to start with the 5 lowest performing elementary schools, but if this is enacted, I fully expect to see it regularly expanded until all of North Carolina’s traditional public schools have been privatized.

Day 4: Stifling the youth and college vote

Long live the Intervenors:

The six plaintiffs, referred to in court documents as "the Duke Plaintiffs," are students attending various colleges in North Carolina. In November 2013 they filed a motion asking to join the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, The NAACP, the U.S. Department of Justice and other plaintiffs in their bid to overturn the law.

Go and read the whole thing, and Kelly's previous entries if you haven't already. The testimony so far has been very compelling, and regardless how the judge eventually rules, these narratives deserve to be chronicled.

Foley resigns from State Board of Elections

Apparently he can take a hint:

Paul J. Foley resigned early Thursday, less than a week after the Associated Press reported that for more than a year he regularly pressed staff at the agency for updates and details about the probe targeting his firm's longtime client. He eventually recused himself, but only after elections staff learned of nearly $1.3 million in payments from Chase Burns to the law firm where Foley is a partner.

Not only was Foley caught with his meddling hand in the investigation cookie jar, he very well may be playing a role in the current lawsuit in Winston-Salem, due to his involvement in suppressing the college vote in Watauga County. All that being said, I can't help but have some suspicions over the timing of his fall from grace. We were kept in the dark about this investigation into Foley until less than a week ago, and a few days after that the BoE presents its findings that nobody did anything wrong in the whole Chase Burns fiasco. The term "convenient" comes to mind, with the word "distraction" closely following on its heels.

Day 3: Poverty is already a big challenge to voting

More courtroom observations from Kelly Fetty:

The study, called the Family Life Project, had looked at the challenges facing poor families in three rural counties. In her previous testimony Dr. Vernon-Feagans outlined a number of problems faced by poor rural families, including lack of access to reliable transportation, telephone or Internet service.

Strach asked her if the problems she outlined could be the result of poor decisions made by the families studied. "We don't make judgements like that," she replied.

Keeping it classy, eh Phil? It's their own fault that they're not in an economic position to take the day off from work and cruise to the polling site in their Audi.

GOP rewrites local bill to defend Confederate statues

Your crossover dates and other rules mean nothing to us:

AN ACT to amend the procedures for Protecting Monuments, Memorials, plaques, and works of art on public property.

(b) Except as provided by subsection (c) of this section, no monument, memorial, plaque, or work of art commemorating events, veterans, or persons of North Carolina history on public property of the State or any of its political subdivisions, may be relocated, disturbed, altered, or defaced.
(d) A person who lives, owns property, or operates a business in the vicinity of any monument, memorial, plaque, or work of art as set forth in subsection (a) of this section shall be considered a person aggrieved by a violation of the provisions of this section for the purposes of G.S. 150B‑4.
(e) A person who willfully violates the provisions of subsection (b) of this section shall be guilty of a Class l misdemeanor."

That's the earliest version of the Bill listed on the NCGA's website, supposedly "as filed," but they haven't fixed this later version (Edition 2) yet, which shows you what the Bill that survived Crossover was actually about:

Profiles in idiocy: The removal of air quality monitors

Because knowledge and early warning systems might erode someone's profit margins:

SECTION 4.25.(a) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall review its ambient air monitoring network and, in the next annual monitoring network plan submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, shall request the removal of any ambient air monitors not required by applicable federal laws and regulations.
SECTION 4.25.(b) No later than September 1, 2016, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall discontinue all ambient air monitors not required by applicable federal laws and regulations if approval from the United States Environmental Protection Agency is not required for the discontinuance.
SECTION 4.25.(c) Nothing in this section is intended to prevent the Department from installing temporary ambient air monitors as part of an investigation of a suspected violation of air quality rules, standards, or limitations or in response to an emergency situation causing an imminent danger to human health and safety.

Of course, it never crosses their mind that keeping (a) & (b) in place would very possibly prevent (c) from ever happening. The GOP is likely working from the hypothesis, "If the air gets bad enough, we'll know because birds will start falling from the sky and people will be getting nosebleeds." Idiots.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Greensboro tells Trudy, "We'll see you in court."

Federal court, no less. I can't wait to hear what the judge says when they tell him what went on in the Caucus meeting where a bunch of lawmakers were forced to change their votes is "Top Secret" and they don't have to tell him what was said. ;)

Business likes solar

It's not just wind energy getting a boost in North Carolina.

The leadership at NCGA may not care for sustainable energy, but business really likes solar power. Solar power saves money and that has a direct impact on the bottom line. Target Stores like solar so much they are planning to add solar to their stores' rooftops.

Triangle Business Journal is reporting:

Target Corp. plans to have rooftop solar projects on as many as 30 stores in North Carolina by the end of the year, according to information from the company and filings with N.C. regulators.

Some details on NC voter rights case

In bench trials, there's only one opinion that matters:

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder has given lawyers arguing against and for the changes between two and three weeks to make their case in a bench trial that could test the constitutionality and sweep of new voting rules adopted in Republican-led states.

The trial begins almost a month before the 50th anniversary of the landmark Voting Rights Act, which knocked down state and local efforts to keep African-Americans from voting.

I tried to find a stream or a live-blog to follow, but no luck so far. If anybody reading this finds something like that, please drop it in the comments or send me a message and I'll do it. Here are the three main issues being adjudicated:


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