Thursday News: Skip your own meal


NC AG JOSH STEIN APPEALS TO SUPREME COURT OVER DUKE RATE INCREASE: The state Utilities Commission had approved an increase of about $5.22 a month for residential customers in the eastern half of North Carolina, including much of Wake County. Some of that money would go toward coal ash pond cleanups at Duke plants, which is one of the reasons Stein’s office asked the Supreme Court to take another look at the decision. The Sierra Club has also filed an appeal in the case. The attorney general argues that Duke’s violation of environmental regulations and criminal laws in dealing with coal ash and evidence that the company knew the risks of storing ash in unlined ponds well before the 2014 Dan River spill should have kept the commission from approving the increase.

Immigration and Andy Griffith

With all that's going on in DC it seems the immigration debate is being overlooked. Here is great Lake Gaston Gazette-Observer op-ed from Representative Michael Wray (Northampton and Halifax counties) about what Congress should do with immigration, using a story from NC's own Andy Griffith Show. What better way to talk about this contentious topic than with Andy Griffith?

Immigration & Andy Griffith
By Representative Michael Wray

When it comes to immigration, federal lawmakers should ask themselves: what would Andy Griffith do?

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Ronny Jackson nomination evidence of deeper problems

Quite possibly the worst candidate to run the Veterans Administration:

During an overseas trip in 2015, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, was intoxicated and banged on the hotel room door of a female employee, according to four sources familiar with the allegation. The incident became so noisy, one source familiar with the allegation told CNN, that the Secret Service stopped him out of concern that he would wake then-President Barack Obama.

Two sources who previously worked in the White House Medical Unit described the same incident, with one former staffer telling CNN that it was "definitely inappropriate, in the middle of the night," and that it made the woman uncomfortable. At the time, the incident was reported up the chain of command, and it is one of multiple drunken episodes involving Jackson on overseas trips, according to a source familiar.

Those two paragraphs highlight three major problems with the military, two of which make Jackson supremely unqualified to run the VA. Because there is always a victim, the 1st problem is sexual harassment and assault. Decades of efforts to curb this have mostly failed, and Jackson is a prime example why. When junior officers see (and hear about) a Rear Admiral pulling this crap, they know the good old boy's club is still alive and well. This makes the problem "perpetual," meaning it will likely never stop, unless drastic measures are taken. The 2nd problem is substance abuse in the ranks. This is another problem that is not new, but seventeen years of sustained hostilities in Afghanistan and Iraq have supercharged it, and the vast majority of the record-breaking number of veteran suicides can be chalked up in the substance abuse column. The last thing we need is an alcoholic at the helm of the VA. The last problem exposed above is the military's inability to police its own ranks, once officers have achieved Field Grade level. Jackson should have been cashiered years ago, but he's still partying on. Now that my critique of the military is done, let's look at the dysfunctional White House:

Wednesday News: "Pour" judgment


FOUR CANDIDATES FOR LEGISLATURE HAVE DWI CONVICTIONS: Four Triangle candidates for the state legislature have been convicted of driving while impaired since 2000. Three say they had a lapse in judgment. One, Ray Ubinger, a Durham Libertarian, said his arrest was unjust. Ubinger has also faced charges of carrying a concealed gun and resisting a police officer. Two of the four candidates are Libertarian, a party that has not had a candidate elected to the legislature. They are running in districts with a history of electing Democrats. The two Republicans are running in heavily Democratic districts where incumbents are seeking re-election. Ubinger, who is running in Senate District 22, pleaded not guilty in 2001 to the weapon and resisting charges. He argued at a jury trial that the judge and other court officials were not legitimately elected, because the state does not count all write-in votes, and that the roadblock where he was stopped was unconstitutional. He was found guilty of both charges. If elected, Ubinger said, he would work to end random checkpoints.

Tuesday News: Evidence or trickery?

WOODHOUSE DEPOSITION REVEALS POSSIBILITY OF A "MOLE" WITHIN DEMOCRATIC JUDICIAL CAMPAIGN: Woodhouse provided members of the media with a packet of documents that he said he also turned over to Democrats in answer to their subpoena. It was made up largely of talking points against Anita Earls, a Democrat running for the state Supreme Court. There was also a two-page opposition research to-do list containing Democratic General Assembly candidates and unverified claims against them. "Is he passing the plate around his church for campaign contributions?" one entry asks. "Is he having an extramarital affair?" Another entry reads in part: "Waiting on mole to produce evidence of illegal coordination." The subpoena, which Woodhouse provided to the media Thursday, asked only for documents related to the elimination of judicial primaries.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

A heaping dose of truth for you this a.m.:

If I didn't have a VA Loan option, it would have been (at least) ten years later before I could have gone from renter to homeowner. We need to fix this. **added note: It's Vicki's birthday today, which I did not realize when I ran her to the top of the flagpole here. But she has earned that spot, for the countless hours she's spent at the General Assembly (and everywhere else) observing and reporting public policy.

NC's GOP Congressmen lining up to take lone female Republican leader's job

Like misogynistic sharks at a feeding frenzy:

The lone female member of House Republican leadership is under siege in D.C. and back home in Washington state. In Congress, several fellow GOP members are pining for her job, questioning her effectiveness as chairwoman of the conference and weighing whether to challenge her.

At least one Republican, Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, is seriously considering challenging McMorris Rodgers, several of those sources said. But the other lawmakers who want her job are hoping McMorris Rodgers steps down or runs for another position.

Of course that had to come from anonymous sources, because Mark Walker would never give anyone a straight answer on the record. He is a master at dodging questions (and people), and if you ask him about this he'd probably launch into a poorly thought-out diatribe about government getting out of the way of business. Or whatever is percolating in that walnut-sized brain of his at the time. But she probably won't get promoted either, because little Paddy McHenry has got plans of his own:

Monday News: There is no Plan(et) B


ON EARTH DAY, DURHAM MAYOR STEVE SCHEWEL CONCERNED ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING: In the summer of 1969, oily debris in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga burst into flames, searing the scourge of pollution into the public consciousness. “I remember Duke students beginning to talk about the environment in a new way,” Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said. Schewel thinks back to that first Earth Day, when his classmates rallied on the Duke University quad 10 months after the Cuyahoga combusted. “Well, I think we need it a lot more than we did when it began in 1970,” he said. Schewel says a warming world lends urgency to the Earth Day cause. “You and I are going to be fine, but our children and grandchildren, they won’t be unless we can change the way in which we interact with our environment,’ he said.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


DRUG MAKERS HAVE OBLIGATION TO ADDRESS OPIOID EPIDEMIC: In 2016, for the first time, the number of opioid-related deaths in North Carolina (1,518) exceeded the number of people who died in motor vehicle crashes on the state’s roads (1,439). It is a sorry trend that doesn’t yet appear to be changing. That is not acceptable. The companies that make opioids need to be a part of the solution and pay to fix the mess they helped create. This is hardly new or cutting edge. The massive settlement with tobacco companies several years ago has helped pay for smoking cessation programs as well as establish a foundation that’s provided millions of dollars to help tobacco-dependent communities shift and revive their economies. Similar settlements have provided money for energy efficiency and land conservation initiatives. Drug manufacturers should, on their own, recognize their accountability and accept responsibility to fix the deadly mess they in a very large way created. They should work with communities and states like North Carolina to come up with settlements that provide the funding, programs and treatments to stop this deadly epidemic.


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