scharrison's blog

Is Raleigh's Airbnb kerfuffle turning into the new "Free Market" battlefield?

A business model in dire need of government regulation:

Like many cities, Raleigh is grappling with how to regulate Airbnb and companies like it. Unlike hotels and traditional bed and breakfasts, Airbnb is unregulated in most places. In Raleigh, Airbnb hosts don't collect or pay state or local sales tax, or the local hotel occupancy tax, which in Wake County is set at 6 percent. Airbnb rentals aren't required to get a business license or special-use permit. Nor do they have to submit to health and safety inspections. Hosts don't even have to tell their neighbors that they're renting rooms, though the information is publicly available on Airbnb's website.

Personally, I have no desire to spend the night in a stranger's house, and my one experience with a bonafide B&B was a little too personal, if you catch my drift. My door got knocked on like six times, and I was barely able to keep Evil Steve from yelling, "What now, for God's sake!" But that's just me. The above article is from 2 1/2 years ago, but the "task force" empaneled to solve this problem just recently hammered out some recommendations for a proposed ordinance. Pay close attention to who is co-chairing the group:

DuPont/Chemours plant still discharging GenX despite promise to cease

Playing a dangerous game with the health of downstream citizens:

Chemours said on June 21 it would voluntarily stop discharging GenX into the Cape Fear from its Fayetteville plant. On June 27, the NCDEQ verified Chemours had stopped.

However, the NCDEQ said on July 12 that additional sources of GenX were still being discharged into the river from the Chemours site after June 27.

On July 13, NCDEQ confirmed that the discharging of GenX from the Chemours complex had ended.

This timeline shows the folly of NC regulators' tendency to prefer self-regulation by private companies over applying strict rules. That "voluntary" decision to stop discharges just happened to coincide with water testing that was in process, so the declaration was already suspect. But that promise also (apparently) superseded/supplanted the need for DEQ to order them to stop. Chemours beat them to the punchline, and they may have done so because they knew more discharges would be needed to get rid of that crap, and were relying on regulatory ambiguity to continue a little longer. Whatever the case, they broke their promise, and DEQ needs to take appropriate steps before they end up owning part of this disaster. Here's a warning to stockholders from the Motley Fool:

One hour left before candidate filing in NC municipal elections closes

The clock is ticking:

Candidates seeking to file for the 2017 municipal elections will be able to file their notice of candidacy at their county board of elections starting at 12:00 noon on Friday July 7, 2017 and ending at 12:00 noon on Friday, July 21. To file, a candidate will need to submit a Notice of Candidacy to their county board of elections either by mail or in person during the filing period. In order to prevent the premature filing of the form, the Notice of Candidacy forms will be available approximately two weeks prior to the start of candidate filing. The filing form and the requisite filing fee must be received by the county board of elections before the filing period ends.

Sorry about the last-minute thing, but (for some reason) I thought filing ended at 5:00 p.m.

"Not off our coast." Governor Cooper comes out swinging against offshore drilling

No ambiguity at all in this statement:

“It’s clear that opening North Carolina’s coast to oil and gas exploration and drilling would bring unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment, and our coastal communities—and for little potential gain,” said Gov. Cooper. “As Governor, I’m here to speak out and take action against it. I can sum it up in four words: not off our coast.”

A potential oil spill could decimate North Carolina’s coastal tourism and commercial fishing industries, both major economic drivers for the region. Coastal tourism in North Carolina generates more than $3 billion annually, supporting more than 30,000 jobs.

Boom. What a difference between this man and McCrory, who actually invited Big Oil to set up shop in his own office. Which became the headquarters for the Outer Continental Shelf Governor's Association, who were hell-bent on scattering offshore oil rigs all over the Southeastern seaboard, and allowed industry reps to dominate what were supposed to be public hearings in coastal communities. Just one more reason the voters kicked McCrory to the curb.

Oh, Cary. Flat-Earthers to attend conference in Triangle

But if you fly here in a jet at 27,500 feet, and look out the window...*sigh* Never mind:

The Flat Earth International Conference will be Nov. 9-10 at the Embassy Suites off of Harrison Avenue. The event’s 525 tickets sold out in May, according to organizer Robbie Davidson. But he’s working with the venue to accommodate 50 to 60 more people.

Alternative theories about the planet’s shape vary within the flat-earth community. But most globe skeptics contend the earth is a disc surrounded by an ice wall, otherwise known as Antarctica, and that the sun and moon are lighted orbs that move around a dome that encloses the disc.

File this one under, "It's even crazier than you thought." A dome? With lighted orbs? I have so many questions, but probably the most nagging question is: How can these people actually have jobs that would allow them to afford going to the Embassy Suites for anything other than directions to their psychiatrist's office? Scratch that, they wouldn't be able to afford a psychiatrist, either.

Republicans lose their minds over Reverend Barber's comment about praying for Trump

Better break out the smelling salts:

Religious leaders gathered in the Oval Office laid hands on President Donald Trump to pray that God gives him guidance, wisdom and protection. On MSNBC’s “AM Joy” on Saturday morning, Barber called the prayer “theological malpractice bordering on heresy.” “It is a form of theological malpractice that borders on heresy when you can p-r-a-y for a president and others when they are p-r-e-y, preying on the most vulnerable,” Barber said. “You’re violating the most sacred principles of religion.”

Barber’s comments set the North Carolina Republican Party ablaze. In a news release on Sunday, the party said it was “shocked and outraged” over Barber’s “claim that it’s a sin to pray for President Trump.”

Barber's right. I've never seen such a level of religious hypocrisy than that which surrounds Trump. He not only violates the Ten Commandments on a daily (if not hourly) basis, he doesn't even remotely resemble what the New Testament outlines as a good Christian, let alone a leader of such. And where is the GOP's outrage when televangelists describe Trump as some sort of Prophet, divinely inspired by God? Crickets. Make no mistake, Trump's embrace of religious dogma has a lot more to do about coldly calculating the number of Christians out there than it does any sort of heart-felt beliefs:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The Resistance has a new weapon:

It's beginning to look like this may be the only way Governor Cooper will be able to do the job he was elected to do:

Monday numbers: How to put state government on life support

The sheer magnitude of irresponsibility is breathtaking:

528 million—amount in dollars of the cost of the tax cuts enacted in the two-year budget passed by the General Assembly this year (Ibid)

900 million—amount in dollars of the full cost of the tax cuts passed by the General Assembly this year when fully in place (Ibid)

3.5 billion—amount in dollars of lost revenue thanks to the combined tax changes made by the General Assembly since 2013 (Ibid)

It's rare for me to be able to summon analogies on Mondays, I usually just hunker down and wait for the coffee to do its magic. But today, I have two analogies warring for my attention, derived from recent news stories, which I believe accurately reflect Republicans' actions. The first has to do with termites eating away at the foundations of a house, year after year, until the house actually collapses from weakened timbers. If that doesn't trick your trigger, there's also the sinkhole phenomenon: Groundwater erosion which slowly washes away soil and mineral deposits, creating unseen gaping voids of missing support, which inevitably eventually collapse, dragging the house down in the process. Okay, I might need more coffee, but you get the picture. For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, and the displacement of mass or energy in a formula alters that formula in its entirety. These tax cuts are not "rhetorical," and neither will be the results. And we will have to live with those results for years to come.

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