Wednesday News: Auto-erotic asphyxiation?

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NC LOSES OUT ON ANOTHER AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURING PLANT AS TOYOTA CHOOSES ALABAMA: North Carolina appears to have lost out on its latest bid for a vehicle manufacturing plant, with numerous media outlets reporting that Toyota and Mazda plan to build a $1.6 billion plant in Alabama. "News of our economic success seems to be a daily occurrence," she said. "Your dedication, your commitment to hard work and our skilled workforce, companies choose Alabama because of your ability to work hard and be dependable." North Carolina has tried for years to land an auto plant, creating four "mega-sites" ready to accommodate a large manufacturing operation and expanding state incentive funds to provide more money to lure "transformative projects." But all of the state's efforts have been in vain, with companies from Volvo to Mercedes to Hyundai picking other sites in the Southeast. The companies were reportedly seeking $1 billion in incentives from state and local governments to land the plant.
http://www.wral.com/reports-nc-loses-toyota-mazda-car-plant-to-alabama/17245494/

LEGISLATURE MAY GRUDGINGLY GIVE DEQ MORE FUNDS FOR GENX STUDIES: As complaints from Democrats and environmental groups mount, North Carolina legislators might consider setting aside more money to address the GenX pollution issue after all. Specifically, the state Department of Environmental Quality could get an additional $1.3 million for pollution-fighting efforts. The General Assembly will be back in Raleigh Wednesday for a session that’s expected to last one or two days. A bill lawmakers are preparing to discuss would require the state’s environmental regulators to conduct several studies related to pollution in North Carolina’s waterways, and what more the state ought to be doing. Previously, Democratic legislators have said the state needs to give more money to DEQ, which has been hit by millions of dollars in budget cuts in the last decade.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article193845034.html

SOME WILMINGTON RESIDENTS RECEIVE HUGE WATER BILLS DUE TO NEW "SMART" METERS: Debbie Hannon said she was stunned when she opened her most recent Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) bill. The piece of paper said she owed more than $330, about twice what she ordinarily pays for water and sewer service. It also said her water use spiked from a typical use of 5,000 gallons every two months to more than 25,000 gallons. “I was shocked,” Hannon said. She’s not alone. Stephanie Lawson lives in a two-person household. Her newest bill, asking her to pay $720, claimed she used 119,000 gallons of water -- enough to fill a large backyard swimming pool three times -- in 63 days. That’s how much water a 50-seat restaurant is expected to use in the same timeframe, according to baseline estimates compiled by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. As Lawson pointed out, “that equates to almost 79 gallons of water an hour usage, which is impossible considering that my household consists of two people and we don’t have a pool or any other water feature that would warrant such usage.”
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20180109/cfpua-customers-shocked-by-high-bills

REPUBLICANS REFUSE TO DEAL WITH CLASS SIZE CHAOS DURING SPECIAL SESSION: Despite emails, letters, calls and rallies by educators and parents, legislative leaders said Tuesday that they have no plans to discuss during their special session this week helping school districts meet class size caps in early elementary grades. In 2016, lawmakers required smaller class sizes for kindergarten through third grade. Those reductions were partially implemented this year, and parents and teachers say it's draining resources from other students – fourth- and fifth-graders are being crowded into classes of up to 40 students in some places. School administrators and parents want to put the caps on hold for next year, noting that fully implementing them would likely mean teacher layoffs in non-core subjects and the cancellation of classes such as art and physical education. School officials say they have used their state funding as wisely as possible, but add that it hasn't been adequate – North Carolina ranks 42nd nationally for per-pupil spending. They want lawmakers to give school districts more class size flexibility.
http://www.wral.com/lawmakers-no-class-size-fix-this-week/17245336/

PAT MCCRORY IS STILL COSTING NC TAXPAYERS DEARLY FOR HIS MISMANAGEMENT: A lack of transparency around public records during the former administration of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has now cost North Carolina taxpayers a quarter of a million dollars. The state’s top elected officials voted Tuesday to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by The News & Observer, the Charlotte Observer and others regarding the McCrory administration’s actions – or lack thereof – in responding to public records requests. The new administration of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper also agreed to act more promptly in responding to records requests, and it disavowed the kinds of records fees that McCrory’s administration had been accused of demanding. “We’re pleased that the Cooper administration has agreed to promptly fill public records requests,” N&O Executive Editor John Drescher said. “That's good for news organizations but it’s also good for any resident of the state who files a request for public documents.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article193809669.html

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