GK Butterfield blasts Donald Trump's nominee for Federal judgeship

Thomas Farr is the last person who should be donning that robe:

“I’m disappointed that President Trump nominated a lawyer who has been at the forefront of defending the North Carolina Republican legislature as it has repeatedly engaged in political gerrymandering of state legislative and congressional district boundaries and has passed regressive voting laws that had the intended effect of diluting the voting rights of minority groups,” Butterfield said.

“I urge the United States Senate to carefully scrutinize the record of Thomas Farr and determine if he can impartially serve as a judge in cases involving voting and civil rights,” Butterfield said.

This development, on top of the Republicans' sustained refusal to approve African-American judicial appointees, sends a clear message the GOP is intent upon suppressing the rights of NC's minority populations in whatever way it can. It's unconscionable and unforgivable, and it needs to be a core campaign issue in both 2018 and in Thom Tillis' re-election bid in 2020. If we don't push back harder, Republicans will continue to stifle the voices of those who are already widely ignored by the majority of NC's citizens.

Saturday News: Politicizing education

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JUDGES RULE IN FAVOR OF LAW SHIFTING POWERS TO MARK JOHNSON: The three judges sided with Superintendent Mark Johnson, ruling the board failed to provide the proof needed to strike down the General Assembly's law last December giving him more control over day-to-day operations. The law in part also let Johnson administer some education funds, oversee charter schools and hire senior-level aides. The law, approved by the GOP-controlled legislature just before Johnson — also a Republican — took office, was the latest pull in a decades-long tug of war over the balance of power between the superintendent and the board, whose voting members are appointed by the governor. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper also was about to take office when the law was approved.
http://www.wral.com/judges-side-with-new-law-superintendent-over-school-powers/16820471/

Harry Brown's blatant hypocrisy over "concern" for the military

He'll use them as an excuse to ban wind farms, but when they actually need something, Brown is out to lunch:

Legislative leaders talked often this session about the importance of protecting the state's military bases. But their final budget appears to have omitted matching funds for a $9.2 million federal grant for that purpose. Under the DOD's new "Sentinel Landscapes" initiative, the federal grant money would be used in 33 counties in eastern North Carolina to preserve farmland and wilderness around military bases and the Dare County bombing range, as well as along low-level flight training paths.

Wasn't the core of Brown's arguments about Wind Energy projects about potentially blocking flight paths? And here he has an opportunity to leverage Federal funds to do just that, reserve land along those paths so nothing would impair them, and Harry Brown couldn't care less. You won't find a better example of hypocrisy than that, and when confronted with it, Brown reverts to the tried-and-true Republican default position: Bald-faced lies:

Friday News: Trumpcare redux

VERY FEW CHANGES MADE TO SENATE'S UNPOPULAR HEALTHCARE BILL: Even with the changes, the legislation still would slash funding for Medicaid, the national insurance program for the poor and disabled, by phasing out the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and imposing spending limits that move the program from an open-ended entitlement to one with capped benefits. In addition, the legislation would allow insurers to charge older people 5 times more than younger ones, defund Planned Parenthood and impose premium and deductible increases for low-income and poor people and those with pre-existing conditions. It also would cut health insurance to pay for $400 billion in tax cuts that mainly benefit wealthy individuals and corporations, while providing little assistance to the poor.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/article161166428.html

Next NC GOP voter suppression tactic: Referendum on Voter ID

Harking back to the Amendment One debacle:

“We believe the public support for voter ID is sufficient, that clarifying it in the North Carolina Constitution as a requirement is something the people would support,” Lewis said. “So I think that to mute future court challenges, you could certainly see that.” Some experts believe a voter ID requirement passed by the people could have a firmer footing in court.

“The primary objective to try to avoid a finding of discriminatory intent by saying ‘Hey we put the thing before voters and they approved it.’ Which would put on anyone challenging the law the formidable burden of showing the people of North Carolina acted with discriminatory intent, at least if they want to act on a constitutional claim,” explained Tokaji, who said other types of legal challenges would be possible.

In reality, the "discriminatory intent" could be nothing more than a majority of voters realizing they had a valid ID right there in their wallet or purse, and casting their vote to pat themselves on the back for being prepared. Voter ID has never been about suppressing the majority, it's about suppressing that 10% or so (and roughly 25% of African Americans) that would likely vote against Republicans. Minority rights should never be put before a popular vote, especially when you're deciding voting rights. Sheesh, it ain't rocket science, it's a basic American principle.

Builders and Puppets: GOP environmental appointees lack qualifications and have conflicts of interest

We'll start with one of Art Pope's golden boys:

Clean Water Management Trust Fund: Former Henderson County commissioner Renee Kumor was appointed by Moore to a term expiring on July 1, 2020; and Wilmington builder Robin Hackney of New Hanover County was appointed by Berger to a term expiring June 30, 2020.

Berger also named writer and commentator Troy Kickler of Wake County to fill the unexpired term of Johnny Martin. Kickler’s term runs until June 30, 2018. The Clean Water Management Trust Fund provides grants to conservation nonprofits, local governments and state agencies for the protection of surface waters.

You may remember Troy Kickler from such notable history lessons such as "What would your great-great-great-grandfather think?" and "No drinking tea at this Tea Party!" You're right, I made those up. But he is a historian and not a hydrologist or water quality specialist, although it's rumored he has a Brita water filter. This is not Troy's first hitch on the board, the GOP actually made him Chairman back in 2013, to oversee their scrambling of its mission:

Thursday News: Save the Center

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BOG COMMITTEE SCHEDULES VOTE TO BAN CENTER FOR CIVIL RIGHTS FROM LITIGATING CASES: A UNC Board of Governors committee has scheduled a special meeting Aug. 1 to consider whether to ban the UNC Center for Civil Rights from suing on behalf of its clients. Long has said that the center should not sue other government entities under the UNC name. Supporters of the privately funded center say it provides students with vital experience and serves low-income, minority clients who have nowhere else to turn. Banning legal action would effectively end the center, they say, and disrespect the legacy of the center’s founder, the famed civil rights attorney Julius Chambers.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Importing 150,000 tons of ash from India?

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Try to wrap your mind around this one:

As Duke Energy continues a state-ordered cleanup of millions of tons of potentially toxic coal ash, an Ohio company won approval Tuesday to store even more ash imported from India in North Carolina.

The Council of State on Tuesday approved a two-year warehouse lease with Spartan to store 150,000 tons of fly ash imported from India at the state port in Morehead City. Spartan officials couldn’t be reached Tuesday, but a North Carolina Ports official said the ash will go to concrete plants.

That's right, coal-fired power plants in our state, mostly owned by Duke Energy, have been creating over 5 million tons of ash for decades, yet we (apparently) still need to import more of that crap to satisfy the needs of concrete manufacturers. Why? Because it's probably slightly cheaper for Duke Energy to dump it in the ground, or leave it in the ground, so it can pollute our water. And instead of selling more of that surplus(?) ash to concrete people, they are poised to make a shitload of money off ratepayers for moving it or capping it in place. For cleaning up their own mess. This is what we get for placing Duke Energy's profit margin at the top of our regulatory oversight:

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