North Carolina Association of Educators vice president Mark Jewell says busloads are coming to Raleigh on Monday to protest budget cuts to public education that are hurting classrooms and kids. The $21 billion state spending plan for this year offers no raises for teachers, who are among the lowest-paid in the country. The group also is angered by the coming end of job security rights for veteran teachers.
Today's event will be a little different from previous Moral Mondays. Stretch your legs for social justice:
The H.F. Lee Steam Electric Plant’s coal ash lagoons are located just feet from the Neuse River and less than 10 miles upstream from Goldsboro’s drinking water intake. This plant has a history of groundwater contamination by coal ash pollutants that cause grave health effects. For years, chemicals such as arsenic, boron, chromium and manganese have exceeded the applicable limits at the facility’s “compliance boundary,” at its property line and along the banks of the Neuse River. Public records indicate that the contamination is flowing into the river without any controls or monitoring.
It's apparent from their actions (or lack of) that Duke Energy isn't going to safely manage their coal ash residue, and it will take more aggressive and responsible involvement of DENR to protect the health and safety of citizens downstream. But we're not going to get that with a weasel like John Skvarla heading that agency, which is probably why he doesn't want anybody watching:
Pat McCrory said he was going to focus on three E's. One of them was supposed to be education. Maybe that's why he's attracted so much attention lately, as he did in this report in Education Week.
I realize many of you in states like Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida, and Tennessee could tell similar stories, but the North Carolina General Assembly, with its GOP super-majority and leaderless Governor, who is also a member of the Republican Party, have managed to destroy the reputation of a state. Once known for having the most innovative and progressive public school system in America, North Carolina is now a trajectory of backwardness.
An Associated Press reporter asked the Republican governor how three particular provisions of the bill would help prevent voter fraud — ending same-day voter registration, trimming the period for early voting by a week and eliminating a program that encourages high school students to register to vote in advance of their 18th birthdays.
"I don't know enough, I'm sorry, I haven't seen that part of the bill," McCrory replied.
Sorry is right. The section in question is right around the halfway point in the bill. Which means, if the Deputy Assistant Governor read this in the normal fashion (if he read it at all), he left over half the bill unread. And apparently he needs to study up on election laws:
Opinionators of all stripes are out in force today, decrying the wanton destruction in North Carolina by Republican policymakers. It's a who's who of Monday-morning quarterbacks, remarkable in the fact that not a single editorial page has words of praise for our out-of-control government. A column by Ned Barnett reflects the general consensus:
As the session neared its end last week with a House vote on the budget, Speaker Thom Tillis left his post and took a place among the representatives. Normally, the speaker doesn’t debate, but this time Tillis wanted to speak not as a leader who directed a wave of legislation that took a toll on the poor and unemployed, but as a human being. Tillis, a Mecklenburg County Republican, asked, “Does anybody really think that I came down to this legislature so that we couldn’t take care of people who were helpless and need the state’s help?” In his question rang the answer to what went wrong for Republicans during their first turn in more than a century to control the governorship and the legislature. They had hoped to be reformers, to be helpers, to be a force for a new way. They said they would end the backroom dealing and clean up what they saw as the waste that marked the Democrats’ long run in power. They would be the people’s champions. Instead they became villains.
One of his favorite talking points – first stated in his State of The State speech – is that he has three major priorities as Governor: Economy, Education, and Efficiency. On Friday, that was one too many “E’s” to remember. In discussing the state budget that was just passed, he said the following (to get the full impact, listen above): “…And that’s what we wanted to work on, vocational training in the State Personnel Act, strategic mobility formula, all had to do with job efficiency. The Three E’s, efficiency of government, education, and… um… education.”
In his defense, it's no surprise he would forget about the economy. So far, the Legislature hasn't sent him any bills that would actually improve the economy, and several that will likely hamper it, from cutting off massive amounts of Federal dollars to broadening the sales tax base to include thousands of additional small businesses. That said, it appears Myers Park Pat is even more of an empty suit than we thought. But as Richard Burr has demonstrated, that's not a political career-killer.
“I would estimate he is directly responsible for more than $100,000.00 in financial support through personal contributions to my campaign committee and other candidates and through the Hospitality Alliance,” Tillis wrote in a March 21 email to House leaders.
The chilling part of this is that it's apparent Thom Tillis considers campaign donations to be a perfectly legitimate reason to appoint somebody to a board or other position, as do most of his colleagues. And as to a Democrat giving such large sums to a Republican's campaign, well. With enemies like that you don't need friends.
A bill making its way through the General Assembly in the closing hours of the legislative session would make it easier for developers to pave or build on small wetland areas. The measure in question had been part of a "farm bill" that worked its way through the legislature earlier this year. The provision had been stricken in that earlier bill because, according to some reports, it had not been pushed by agriculture interests.
Maybe that's because agricultural interests understand that long-term management of the watershed is something that benefits everybody, and short-term mismanagement only benefits a few. But aside from the critical function isolated wetlands perform in absorbing nutrients that would otherwise impair streams, rivers and lakes, there is another very important reason for preserving or replacing them:
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