scharrison's blog

New NC Senate map double-bunks 8 incumbents

And seven of those are Republicans:

Republicans John Alexander and Chad Barefoot are both in Senate 18, which covers northern Wake County and all of Franklin County. Barefoot on Sunday announced he would not seek re-election.

Republicans Deanna Ballard and Shirley Randleman will both be running in Senate 45, which covers Wilkes, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties and part of Surry County.

Republicans Joyce Krawiec and Dan Barrett will run in Senate 31, which covers part of Forsyth County and all of Davie County.

Republican Bill Cook and Democrat Erica Smith-Ingram will both be running in Senate 3, which covers Vance, Warren, Northampton, Bertie, Martin and Beaufort counties.

It will be interesting to see which Republicans are found to run in the four (new) Districts with no current incumbents. Chances are they've already been found, before the lines were even drawn. Also: Bill Cook! That's a race that really needs to be won, and not just to protect Erica's seat. I was going to make some comment about the "winds of change," but the coffee really hasn't kicked in yet, so my humor is not quite as sharp as it needs to be for that reference.

On the need for Dem candidates in every district

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I had the privilege to chat with Carolyn Hunt for a little while during the Sanford-Hunt-Frye breakfast yesterday, and one of the main topics we discussed was recruiting candidates for the upcoming 2018 Legislative races. I also mentioned our previous efforts to keep track of the filing process, with an eye towards challenging as many R incumbents as we could. Understand folks: Filing season is coming up quickly, and finding the right person to run needs to start right now. By "right person" I don't necessarily mean somebody whose conservative leanings fit better in an R-leaning district, I mean somebody who has the smarts, the dedication, the motivation, and the pure energy it takes to swim against the current. Follow me below the fold and I'll tell you why I think this is so important:

Possible Ku Klux Klan march in Durham today

What was that about Antifa being the aggressors? Right, shut the hell up:

The Durham County Sheriff’s Office is preparing for a possible march by white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan marching in Durham today. “The Sheriff’s Office is thoroughly researching the potential of several groups with opposing viewpoints holding demonstrations in Durham,” Sheriff Mike Andrews said in a statement.

City Manager Tom Bonfield said he is unaware of any permit being obtained for a march. Mayor Bill Bell said he was heading to City Hall to get more information.

I hesitated posting this, because I don't want myself or the website to increase the possibility of a violent confrontation. But we're also not in the business of "deciding" what information is healthy for you or not, or in any other way treating our readers like impressionable children who need managing. That being said, *please* be careful, and keep your distance. Some people simply can't be reasoned with.

NC's "hit and kill" bill one of many designed to stifle protests

And of course it was started by Big Oil protecting its profits:

State lawmakers in Florida, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Texas also considered similar measures, which the American Civil Liberties Union nicknamed "hit and kill" bills. The bills were part of a broader package of anti-protest legislation floated in at least 19 states after an upsurge in activism over the last year.

Of the half-dozen states entertaining proposals to shield drivers who hit protesters, North Carolina is the one where it has the best chance of passing. And despite the violence that recently unfolded in Virginia, the bill's sponsors have come to its defense, although its prospects appear to have dimmed.

My reference to Big Oil in the intro has to do with how protesters often use their bodies to block access to pipeline or fracking sites, where contractors have gotten into the habit of just rolling slowly through the crowd, like they're trying to push sheep off the road. But even North Dakota balked at passing such an ill-advised law:

Cooper's Veto of "Regulatory Reform Act" is right on target

Improving water quality is serious business and requires a thoughtful approach:

Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 16, the Business Regulatory Reform Act of 2017, which seeks to remove regulations in many instances. The bill extends the validity of some wastewater permits issued by local health departments that may have expired, and limits requirements for increased stormwater controls on some new developments.

"We should make it easier, not harder, for state and local governments to protect water quality, whether through stormwater safeguards or by giving public health departments the ability to revisit wastewater permits if needed. Rolling back ways to protect water quality is dangerous," Cooper said in his veto message.

There are two major contributors to the out-of-control nutrient levels in our water resources (especially Lake Jordan): Non-point source contamination (stormwater runoff) and periodic massive discharges of high-concentration wastewater, mostly from municipal treatment facilities. This bill relaxes regulations on both of them, which is exactly the opposite of what should be done. Combine that with the GOP's latest boondoggle of chemical treatment to kill algae, and *at best* you would have a break-even scenario, with no overall improvement in water quality. But it's much more likely the water quality would degrade even further. The only thing Republicans have working in their favor with this formula is the wanton destruction and corporatization of the EPA under Scott Pruitt, so the GOP likely won't get into trouble with the Federal government over this extremely reckless behavior. But they should be in (deep) trouble with the people of North Carolina for doing so.

The latest GOP Jordan Lake boondoggle: Mystery chemicals to kill algae

Several lawmakers need to be redacted from the General Assembly:

The SePro Corporation is receiving as much as $1.3 million in taxpayer money to chemically kill the algae in Jordan Lake, but the company is keeping key details of its proposal — including a full ingredient list of the products and the amounts to be released — secret from the public. The proposed chemical treatment of a drinking water source for 300,000 people is yet another questionable technique backed by some lawmakers and business interests, who have been reluctant to instead enforce rules limiting development in the Jordan Lake watershed.

SePro’s proposals were marked “confidential,” but Policy Watch obtained them under the state’s public records law. However, more than half of the eight-page document had been redacted by SePro, under a state statute allowing companies to refuse to divulge material they deem as proprietary or a trade secret.

No doubt the fact literally hundreds of toxicologists and other scientists (and their families) will be drinking that treated water comes into play here, because there's bound to be some potentially dangerous compounds used. Killing algae isn't really a straightforward process, it involves either intense oxygenation of the water and/or chemical binding with nutrients to separate them from the algae itself. And while we already use some amounts of aluminum sulfate and other chemicals to help purify water, those were studied for years before being implemented. To withhold information about chemicals being used to treat Jordan Lake (or any public drinking reservoir) because it's "proprietary" is recklessness bordering on the criminal. This project needs to be halted until full disclosure, and publicly-monitored studies, have been done.

Berger tweaks legislation so fellow Republican can draw two salaries

Can you say Patronage? I knew you could:

A one-sentence change tacked into broader legislation earlier this month helps a single state employee, tweaking state law so he can again get paid to serve on a state commission while on vacation from his full-time state job. Under Gov. Pat McCrory, Peaslee drew his regular state salary and was also paid the daily wage tax commission members get to sit for several days each month hearing appeals from around the state. When Gov. Roy Cooper took office, a new regime at the state Department of Revenue looked at state laws against employees double-dipping on salary and questioned whether Peaslee should draw both paychecks.

Peaslee, a former general counsel for the North Carolina Republican Party, brought the issue before Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and other state legislators. He'd been taking vacation time from his $115,494-a-year job at the Industrial Commission to make $450 to $500 a day at the tax commission. His tax commission pay last year totaled $24,500.

If you're thinking something about this story sounds familiar, it's because NC Republicans are making a habit of using the Industrial Commission to line the pockets of their friends. During one of the grossly unconstitutional Special Sessions of late 2016, Republicans gave authority to McCrory (after he had lost the Election) to appoint his Chief of Staff's wife to a NINE YEAR TERM on the Commission, a million-dollar pat on the back:

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