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Tuesday Twitter roundup

The GOP underfunding of government services is taking a toll:

And sometimes people pay the ultimate price for that negligence:

Never again: Lessons need to be learned from Hurricane Matthew

Residents in Lumberton are still suffering from this disaster:

The southern part of Lumberton was one of the hardest hit areas by the Oct. 8 storm, primarily due to widespread flooding from an engorged Lumber River. Dozens of people were stranded and needed to be rescued, while hundreds were forced from their homes. Five shelters were opened for more than 1,800 people. In the days following the hurricane, many residents were trapped because water had flooded major roads in the city cutting them off.

With no electricity, there was virtually no gasoline, water or food for sale. Bottled water and military MREs were distributed to residents from 10 of the county’s 28 fire stations. The city’s water treatment plant flooded, shutting down public water for about two weeks. About a week after the hurricane, officials attributed three deaths in Robeson County to Hurricane Matthew.

Although McCrory started making noises in late October about a Special Session to allocate funds for the disaster, it didn't happen until mid-December. And Republicans promptly added two more sessions to take away power from Governor-elect Roy Cooper after they had dealt with those pesky relief funds. And just to give you an idea how venal and opportunistic they are, here's Tim Moore's announcement on the bill:

The flaws of pay-for-performance in teacher salaries

Coming soon to the Chapel Hill/Carrboro school system:

The State Board of Education on Thursday approved a plan to provide up to $10.2 million over the next three years to six school systems to test their alternative models for paying teachers. The districts are planning to use different options, such as paying teachers more based on whether they take advanced leadership positions or have good student test results.

Lawmakers who ordered the state board to establish the pilot program are looking to see whether the district models can be applied statewide. “This is an opportunity for teachers to advance in their career while still working with students in the classroom,” said Bryan Hassel, co-director of Public Impact, a Chapel Hill-based education firm that is working with two of the districts in the pilot program.

As in any occupation, professional development should be rewarded. Advanced degrees, newly acquired skills, targeted certifications, these things represent efforts to improve one's capabilities and should not be overlooked or taken for granted. But this whole idea of imagining a subset of teachers who are a "cut above" the rest, and should be elevated to role models for the vast majority of their colleagues who are "substandard," is really nothing more than a backhand slap to the profession itself. And in an environment where nearly everybody can agree that testing as a tool for educating has gotten out of control, to throw extra money at teachers if their students score higher completely ignores all the new research that shows economic status is the main determining factor in student performance. A good analogy would be if you went to a grocery store parking lot and said, "These four rows of cars will race each other." And then be surprised when the Porsche wins. A few observations from Mark Jewell:

Josh Stein lays off 45 at AG's office, still not enough

GOP budget cuts are recklessly endangering the administration of justice in NC:

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced on Thursday that he has eliminated 45 positions in the state Department of Justice after the state budget adopted earlier this summer included a surprise $10 million budget cut.

“What I’m telling you today is, we can’t do the last third,” said Stein, a Democrat in his first term. “The last third will put too much damage, too much risk on the public’s safety. For that reason, we are repeating our call to the General Assembly: ‘Please, protect the people of North Carolina, and find a way to fill this gap.’ ”

What you're seeing right now might be the true danger of gerrymandering, lawmaking that actually imperils the safety of the citizenry. Under a more competitive districting situation, such reckless behavior could be corrected in the voting booth. But when your power is guaranteed by crooked maps, you don't really care what the voters think.

Add judges to that list of GOP cuts to legal professionals

gavelbanging.jpg

Our entire system of justice is being put at risk:

According to the latest lists released by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), there are now only 10 active emergency superior court judges and 25 emergency district court judges. Prior to the July 1 effective date of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, there were 42 emergency superior court judges and 72 emergency district court judges. The new list reflects an overall reduction of 69.2%.

According to emails obtained by NC Policy Watch, the cuts were causing concerns in the court system even days after the budget was passed.

I'm sure they were. In any given month, NC's Superior and District Courts handle over 15,000 cases. And they've been doing so under an ever-shrinking budget since Republicans took over the General Assembly. Understand, these are both civil and criminal cases, and some of the latter deal with violent criminals. When you refuse to fund the system properly, the number of violent criminals who plea bargain their case down increases, and the number of victims who never get their day in court increases also. Making this a public safety issue, put in the irresponsible hands of unqualified politicians and their lackeys:

The NC GOP's war on the poor continues with more cuts to legal aid

And the yoyo (you're on your own) keeps spinning:

For years, the three leading legal aid groups have received state funds to represent people in civil matters in part through budget earmarks and a small portion of the fees from court filings and criminal cases. Legal aid funds already had been cut by more than half since 2008 to $2.7 million during the last fiscal year. This year the reduction looks deeper and permanent, and the reasons for the cuts remain unclear.

Although the legal aid groups also get funds from other sources, their leaders said in interviews the new state cuts could mean nearly 35 attorneys and staff ultimately will be laid off, resulting in several thousand potential clients unable to get help each year.

Beginning to see a trend here, which may go a long way in answering that "reasons for the cuts" question. With a backdrop of Republican court losses over the last few years, we suddenly see Josh Stein losing dozens of lawyers, the UNC Center for Civil Rights being hamstrung with "no litigation" rules, and now three dozen legal aid lawyers losing their jobs. Not a coincidence, and not just an effort to clear the way for the GOP's business pals. This is pure spite, plain and simple, directed at the legal profession in general. I shouldn't have to do this, but here are some excerpts from the Preamble to the NC Bar's Rules of Professional Conduct:

Liar-in-Chief implicated in Seth Rich conspiracy theory

Methinks he doth protest against fake news too much:

An investigator who worked on the Seth Rich case claims Fox News fabricated quotes implicating the murdered Democratic National Committee staffer in the WikiLeaks scandal and that President Donald Trump pressured Fox to publish the story. The investigator, Rod Wheeler, sued Fox for defamation on Tuesday.

Wheeler, a Fox contributor who looked into Rich’s July 2016 murder for the family, said Fox made up quotes attributed to him saying there was contact between Rich and WikiLeaks, and that someone — possibly Democrats or Hillary Clinton’s campaign — was blocking the murder investigation. Rich was killed in what Washington police believe was a botched robbery. The lawsuit said Trump pushed to get the story out. There was no immediate response from Fox or the White House.

Like any good conspiracy theory, you have to have a compelling motive upon which to build your fiction. In this case, it was fabricating a connection between Seth Rich and Wikileaks. Couldn't go forward without that. And make no mistake, Trump needed that false narrative badly, after telling Hillary Clinton (on national television, no less) that he was going to put her in jail. It's absurdity on top of absurdity with this administration, and we are at risk of arriving at a new norm where the truth has been so eclipsed by fiction we might not recognize the truth on the rare occasion it surfaces. But you know what? We asked for it. We watched as a candidate continuously lied during the campaign, and instead of escorting him off the stage, we put him in the White House. You're upset I'm using the pronoun "we" instead of "they"? Good. Stay upset.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Now the clock is really ticking:

No special elections are called for though, but the 2018 election could be a game-changer.

Defending the UNC Center for Civil Rights

Trying to clip the wings of the legal eagles:

Ahead of a vote this week that she says would effectively close the UNC Law School’s Center of Civil Rights, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt has sent a letter requesting the UNC Board of Governors not adopt a proposed policy change. In a July 28 letter, Folt says the move by the BOG would lead to a closure of the center and harm the school’s reputation. The five page letter is Folt’s strongest statement yet on the fate of the center.

“. . . if the committee moves forward with the new proposed policy, we risk significant damage to the reputation of the University and the Law School, as well as the uncertainty as to whether we can create a new clinic for civil rights with no resources.”

Follow the link and read Carol Folt's letter, and once again hat-tip to Kirk Ross for his diligence. This answered a question that's been in the back of my mind: "Why don't Republicans just cut off the funding for the Center if they don't like it?" It's because there is no state funding, taxpayers aren't spending a dime for this critical service. So the GOP is forced to take other measures, which will not only undermine the important work being done, it goes against the wishes of the charitable donors who have supported the Center. If you want to know the "why" behind this move, look at some of the cases litigated:

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