NCGA

Coal Ash Wednesday: about those fish...

Why leaving the vast majority of the coal ash in the Dan River is dangerously negligent:

Most species of aquatic insects live in the sediment, collecting, filtering, and grazing upon minute particles of food. Nothing goes to waste down there, not even the arsenic and selenium from coal ash. Heavy metals get lodged into the tissues of any insect that eats them. When minnows eat the insects, they consume the toxins. Larger fish get toxins from every minnow they eat. As you climb higher in the food chain, the amount of arsenic or selenium you find multiplies progressively. This process is called biomagnification and it has impacts on a food web from bottom to top.

NC's Department of Public Health has lifted its recreational advisory (they have yet to post the press release on their website, but I will link to it when they do), telling people it's okay to swim and fish in the River. But they're apparently still advising people to not eat the fish they say it's okay to catch. Which is a contradiction I'm still trying to wrap my mind around. Anyway, back to the science:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

We'll start today's entry with a complicated issue:

Quite possibly too complicated for our current leaders:

The puppet and his master doth protest too much

Denying the blatantly obvious:

“He drives the budgetary policy goals of the administration,” said one Republican lobbyist in town who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order not to anger either man. “The governor yields to Art. His real power, his influence in state government, is really having that turf all to himself.”

“My job, my role, my goal is not to influence and direct the governor,” Pope said emphatically. “My job is to analyze, to provide advice, facts, what the alternatives are. I present the information, and the governor decides.” McCrory said Pope defers to him, while often catching mistakes in the calculations made by state departments and legislative staffers. “We need more nerds like him in state government,” McCrory said.

The proper term is "wonk." Somebody who can explain how Senator Palpatine subverted the Republic's form of government is a nerd. But you know, Pope isn't just a wonk, either. A wonk usually writes or translates legislation for somebody else, without putting his or her influential twist on the language. That should be called "wanking." Making Art Pope a wanker.

Tillisberger the defendants

Apparently the Tillisberger's jobs program consists of full employment for the lawyers defending the many lawsuits filed against the NC GOP's unconstitutional laws.

It's hard to keep track, but Tillisberger is being sued for at least:

  • School vouchers;
  • The voter suppression law (with plaintiffs including at least the US Department of Justice, ACLU, NAACP, League of Women Voters and college students and other individuals);
  • The marriage oppression law;
  • The unconstitutional legislative building rules; and
  • Teacher career status revocation.

Add to that list the possum torture lawsuit. PETA has filed suit again, this time over the new law that Tillisberger passed in response to the previous lawsuit.

Chronicling NC's great Republican tax shift

The only thing trickling down is the tax burden:

Adding salt to the wound is the state-imposed utility tax, which went from 3 percent to 7 percent as of July 1. The tax increase comes from Raleigh’s effort to protect a threatened minority (wealthy people and large corporations) and redistribute wealth (from the lower and middle classes to the wealthy).

Gov. Pat McCrory takes credit for that. He got a 2 percent cut in individual income tax and even larger cut in corporate state income tax, and said “other taxes have gone up to make up the difference. It was tax reform with a move to more of a consumption-based tax. You pay tax on a newspaper now, lawyers have to pay tax, there are a host of other new or increased consumption taxes and we closed up a lot of loopholes.”

Remember that the next time your Republican lawmakers say they cut your taxes.

Even if they do remember most of the Republicans' base is afflicted with the "Democrats did it too!" method of rationalization. And usually they're screaming that from under the bus their heroes have placed them.

Yes, we do care that the Tillisberger wastes tax dollars

It costs an estimated $50,000 per day to keep the NC general assembly in session. Tillisberger is keeping the NCGA in session much longer than estimated, and much longer than necessary, as they argue about who should suffer pain so that teachers can get a pay raise. So far, the potential pain recipients they've considered include old people, blind people, kids, disabled people, teacher assistants, school nurses and the teachers themselves.

They have not considered slightly reducing the extreme comfort level of Art Pope and his wealthy friends.

As lawmakers continue to snarl at each other over the state budget in the July swelter, predictions that the state House and Senate would wrap up their summer session by the end of June look laughably optimistic in hindsight.

$50,000 per day. For every day of the NC GOP legislators' theatrics, ten teachers could get a $5,000 raise.

Racism by any other name

Minority voters are impacted the most by NC's voter suppression laws:

While there is no dispute that “the overt racism of the 1960s is largely a thing of the past,” it is also true that in far too many places affected by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision voiding a critical section of the Voting Rights Act, racial discrimination continues to flourish.

One of the indignities of discrimination is the insistence on simply reducing it to “feelings.” But it is a matter of fact, not perception, that all of North Carolina’s voting provisions disproportionately affect racial minorities. Whether local officials are “shocked” by allegations of racial motives is beside the point.

Exactly. It doesn't (or shouldn't) matter if the intent of the law was to marginalize minority voters, and it also shouldn't matter if that intent can be proved legally. The facts on the ground are what matters, and those facts are disenfranchising a segment of our voting population. And it shouldn't be a partisan debate. These are Constitutional rights we're talking about, no matter how much propaganda and twisting is being done by those who would limit those rights for others.

90% of coal ash remains in Dan River after Duke Energy "completes" cleanup

If this is what they call "success," one would hate to see them fail:

Since the operation began on May 6, approximately 2,500 tons of coal ash and river sediment have been removed from this location. Crews and equipment were staged at Abreu-Grogan Park in Danville for the past three months.

The company previously completed removal of ash and sediment from water treatment facilities in Danville and South Boston, as well as from locations in the river at the Dan River Steam Station and Town Creek, two miles downstream from the plant. More than 500 tons of coal ash and river sediment were removed from these areas.

Do the math. A low-end estimate on the spill had some 39,000 tons of ash released, and this combined 3,000 tons removed included an unknown quantity of non-ash sediment. What's left in the river could be closer to 95%. And the General Assembly wants to give Duke Energy "more flexibility" in the cleanup/relocation of all the other coal ash ponds?

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