NCGA

Tuesday Twitter roundup

If the voters learn nothing else from this "special" session:

Unfortunately, as I've mentioned a few times before, Tea Party types are either silent when it comes to government punishing/oppressing citizens of which they don't approve, or are actively involved in such treatment. Liberty for some, tyranny for the rest. Hypocrisy has no better home than in a patriotic nationalist's mouth.

The impatience of bigotry: Special Session begins in 5, 4, 3...

When 3/5 of your elected officials are scared of their own shadow:

According to NC Speaker of the House Tim Moore, legislators could call a special session this week. He said the House has met the state requirement of a three-fifths majority. Now they're just waiting on the Senate.

Lawmakers are upset over a portion of the ordinance, which will allow transgender people to use whichever bathroom they prefer in public places.

And the Senate has already empaneled a special committee to "strategize" about the best way to meddle in Charlotte's affairs. It's somewhere between sad and contemptible when your first order of business is to strip away the rights of others, but that's the government we allowed to take power. On a personal note, I have a request: Please stop referring to Caitlyn Jenner in clever commentary about the "unintended consequences" of this GOP position. It only serves to highlight how "revolting" standing beside her in the bathroom would be for many of these folks, and regardless of her media spectacle and Jenner family dysfunction, it doesn't make it "okay" to use her gender identification in a negative fashion.

Duke Energy pushing its "cap and leak" plan vigorously

And contaminating the editorial pages in the process:

Both capping and excavation closure approaches provide similar benefits to groundwater, and a spectrum of options is available to enhance its protection if needed. Excavation is not necessary to protect groundwater, though it may be selected for other technical reasons.

This drives us to look at solutions from both a statewide perspective and from the perspective of the individual community. In many respects, closing basins on plant property with a protective cap better protects the local and broader environment.

There's no doubt the whole purpose of this science-deprived sales pitch was to soften people up to prepare them for what is to come; the majority of leaking coal ash ponds are merely going to be capped in place. This also explains the DEQ's flip-flop back in late 2015 to classify most sites as "low-risk." If we lived in a two-dimensional world, it might work. But we don't, and groundwater easily penetrates the sides of an unlined landfill, and carries those contaminants with it into streams, lakes, and groundwater aquifers. Just ask the people in this Montana township if you're still skeptical:

McCrory's twisted logic in Coal Ash Commission disbandment

A wild interpretation of what the Supremes already interpreted:

The McCrory administration, however, says that since the appointments provision in the 2014 law that created the commission was found to be unconstitutional, then the commission itself is unconstitutional.

“It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court,” spokesman Graham Wilson said in an email Friday. “It, therefore, no longer existed and could conduct no work. You don’t have to ‘disband’ an entity that no longer exists.”

None of the complaints levied by the administration in the run-up to this decision declared the Commission wasn't needed. It all had to do with appointments. And the creation of boards and commissions is a Legislative function, not Executive. So in your zeal to "declare total victory" or whatever the hell you're doing, you've gone from one branch's overreach to another branch's overreach. A fine example of why neither of those branches should be controlled by Republicans.

The US DOJ fires warning shot across NC court system's bow

Speaking of the advantages of having women in charge:

In a letter to chief judges and court administrators, Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s top civil rights prosecutor, and Lisa Foster, who leads a program on court access, warned against operating courthouses as for-profit ventures. It chastised judges and court staff members for using arrest warrants as a way to collect fees. Such policies, the letter said, made it more likely that poor people would be arrested, jailed and fined anew — all for being unable to pay in the first place.

Yes. A thousand times, yes. The economic injustices are rife throughout our legal system, and the free-market nut-jobs running our state (and Congress) are making it worse by the minute. They've defunded the courts, slashed legal aid to the point advocacy is no longer guaranteed, at least not in a timely fashion, and have allowed the collusion of debt collectors and court officials to the point we have re-instituted Victorian-era debtor's prisons. We don't live in a democracy any more, it's some crazy feudal hybrid thing that casually reduces a growing percentage of our population to second-class citizens. These issues are not academic, they are very real for many suffering families:

LGBT advocates take their fight to Raleigh

And it's a fight to protect the safety of citizens:

Supporters say the ordinance protects transgender people from being harassed or assaulted for trying to use the restroom and sets a tone of tolerance and acceptance for the Charlotte community.

Erica Lachowitz said she was beaten nearly to death while she was walking down a street 20 years ago for being transgender. Now, she has a family and a job she loves in Charlotte, and she worked to get the ordinance passed, saying forcing her to use a men's room would subject her to harassment and assault.

In some ways it is unfortunate this ordinance was passed in the run-up to a Presidential Election, especially considering Trump's Primary victory here. All General Assembly seats are up for grabs, and there is a big chunk of (possibly new) bigoted voters out there to "impress" with hateful antics. It does not bode well for the survival of this non-discrimination effort, but the support must continue.

A history lesson about Margaret Spellings

She wants people to get to know her, so let's do that:

The U.S. Education Department certainly found this to be the case in 2004, when reviewers there wrote a scathing report about how the corporate bosses at the University of Phoenix pressure and intimidate their recruiters to put "asses in the classes," including those of unqualified students.

Meanwhile, a commission, appointed by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, to critique higher education singled out for-profit colleges for praise, without acknowledging the serious charges that have been leveled against some of these companies.

This article was written in early 2007, and the formal complaints and lawsuits dealing with the University of Phoenix were already legion. But Margaret Spellings didn't just want to boost for-profit colleges, she wanted to radically alter the way the Federal government managed higher ed, and awarded tuition assistance:

Advocacy matters: Offshore drilling in Atlantic OCS off the table

deepwaterhorizon.jpg

The people have spoken, and the President has heard:

The Obama administration is expected to withdraw its plan to permit oil and gas drilling off the southeast Atlantic coast, yielding to an outpouring of opposition from coastal communities from Virginia to Georgia but dashing the hopes and expectations of many of those states’ top leaders.

I have no doubt that if it hadn't been for the tireless work of many unpaid volunteers working with NC's environmental organizations, this victory (when it's formally announced) would not have happened. These folks made countless trips from the Triangle, the Triad, and even the mountain areas, to various coastal communities to lend their support and organizing skills, the entire time faced with the knowledge they were fighting a billion-dollar industry. And the sheer number of brave municipal governments all along the coast who took a stand against offshore drilling is amazing. Movements like this are rare, and the thousands of hours devoted to making them happen deserves recognition. We should also never forget what's at stake:

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