Guilford County Commission joins war against News & Record

If you don't like the reporting, kill the newspaper:

WHEREAS, in recent action, the North Carolina General Assembly has taken measures to advance communication options among local governments with the creation of HB 205 that sought to modernize the publication of legal advertisements and public notices to allow Guilford County, and any municipality in Guilford County, in lieu of printed publication, the option to post legal advertisements and notices on the county web site; and,

WHEREAS, not only does the option of electronic noticing broaden customer service and foster public participation, it also serves to provide an efficient and cost-effective means of communication all at the click of a button.

I realize many reading this do not subscribe to a daily newspaper, and get their information online instead. As such, you may be tempted to agree with this policy change, or (maybe worse) find yourself indifferent. But this is not about increasing dissemination of legal notices, it's about defunding an already struggling publication, the Greensboro News & Record. The N&R has been a strong, mostly progressive voice in the region, and has called out Republicans countless times for their inhumane and often unconstitutional actions. But aside from that "kill the paper" goal of this bill, the very premise that shifting that information online will increase the number of people who see them is faulty, for several reasons. The most obvious reason is the low traffic to the site, but here's another: In order to host all those legal notices, the government website will likely cache them in pdf files, further burying that information. That's not just my opinion:

Saturday News: Blackout

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HATTERAS AND OCRACOKE SUFFER HEAVY ECONOMIC LOSSES FROM POWER OUTAGE: A power outage that drove tourists from two North Carolina islands wiped out a significant chunk of the lucrative summer months for local businesses. It could take days or weeks to repair an underground transmission line damaged early Thursday by construction crews working on new a bridge between islands. Business owners were upset that the disaster was caused by human error, not Mother Nature. The construction company drove a steel casing into an underground transmission line, causing blackouts on Ocracoke and Hatteras islands. "It's a hard pill to swallow that someone forgot where the power cable was," said Jason Wells, owner of Jason's Restaurant on Ocracoke Island. "How do you forget where the power cable is?"
http://www.wral.com/island-businesses-fret-about-power-outage-losses/16847868/

Rally in Raleigh to protest inhumane immigrant detention process

Trying to survive the sticky net of ICE roundups:

Immigrant rights groups will hold a press conference and rally to demand an end to immigrant detention Raleigh, NC – On Friday, immigrant rights groups and families of people in detention will hold a press conference and rally at the Wake County Public Safety Center to demand an end to immigrant detention. The action is a part of the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network month of action to denounce the abusive and inhumane immigration detention system. With a string of recent hunger strikes inside detention and 10 deaths in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody since the start of the fiscal year, immigration detention continues to be exposed as a fatally flawed system that needs to be shut down.

Consider this: If one of your children or another family member was incarcerated, and not given a bail hearing or any other avenue to seek freedom or even information about their legal situation, and were kept behind bars for months with no idea when they might be released, you would understandably be outraged and banging down the institutional doors to straighten that out. There are literally thousands of families going through that right now, but their immigration status makes them vulnerable to what we would call unconstitutional treatment. How can that be? How can we have rights for some but not others? I would argue a Constitution that doesn't cover everybody actually covers nobody. Habits are hard to break, and it's only a matter of time before US citizens are also detained indefinitely. Here are the details of the rally:

Friday News: Turtle tries fancy footwork, loses race

MCCONNELL SWINGS AND MISSES ON "SKINNY" REPEAL EFFORT THANKS TO JOHN MCCAIN: Dealing a serious blow to President Donald Trump's agenda, the Senate early Friday rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama's health care law after a night of high suspense in the U.S. Capitol. Unable to pass even a so-called "skinny repeal," it was unclear if Senate Republicans could advance any health bill despite seven years of promises to repeal "Obamacare." "This is clearly a disappointing moment," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "I regret that our efforts were not enough, this time." McConnell put the health bill on hold and announced that the Senate would move onto other legislation next week.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article164119242.html

Mark Meadows: Making government less accountable

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If you don't like the data, get rid of the analysts:

On Monday—the same day the president attacked political rivals in a speech to Boy Scouts and the U.S. Senate prepared to vote on a health care bill that no one had actually seen—Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus and representative of North Carolina's Eleventh Congressional District, proposed his own means of undermining democratic norms.

His big idea: gut the Congressional Budget Office, the agency that has consistently projected that GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare would leave more than twenty million Americans without coverage. In an amendment introduced Monday, Meadows proposed slashing eighty-nine positions from the agency's Budget Analysis Division, a $15 million cut that would effectively abolish the division.

While it may be doubtful this amendment will have any legs, his real motive for it may be even more ominous than the amendment itself: It sends a chilling message to those analysts that their future data and reports need to be more supportive of the majority's policies, or else. These bullying tactics are rooted in the Tea Party movement itself, which relies on fear of retribution to get its way, instead of scholarly debate, which it simply isn't qualified to engage in. And probably more than anyone else, Mark Meadows has capitalized on that formula, vaulting himself into a position of leadership of a caucus he created for that sole purpose. North Carolina in general, and the 11th District in particular, owes an apology to the rest of the nation for sending this petty tyrant to DC.

Thursday News: The usual suspects

REPUBLICANS BRING HOFELLER BACK TO HELP DESIGN NEW MAPS: Republican leaders have tapped a familiar consultant to help with the drawing of new districts for electing General Assembly members after maps he drew six years ago were found by the federal courts to include illegal racial gerrymanders. Tom Hofeller, a seasoned GOP mapmaker and a chief architect of the 2011 N.C. maps, is working with legislative leaders again on how to create new districts that will pass muster. Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican and House redistricting leader, informed a group of legislators on Wednesday of Hofeller’s return to a process that could determine how the state is divided into political districts for the rest of the decade. Hofeller was profiled in The Atlantic magazine in 2012 in an article titled “The League of Dangerous Mapmakers.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article163823333.html

Coal Ash Wednesday: Insurance companies say "Nope" on paying for cleanup

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One big reason Duke Energy is trying to make us pay:

Dozens of insurance companies say they’re not obligated to help pay for Duke Energy Corp.’s multi-billion dollar coal ash cleanup because the nation’s largest electric company long knew about but did nothing to reduce the threat of potentially toxic pollutants.

The claim is in a filing by lawyers for nearly 30 international and domestic insurance companies that were sued by Duke Energy in March to force them to cover part of the utility’s coal ash cleanup costs in the Carolinas.

In a perfect world, the NC Utilities Commission would be keeping a close eye on this civil case, and if the defendants prove their case that Duke Energy was at fault and should be responsible for shouldering the costs of cleaning up their coal ash, the NCUC would deny Duke's rate increase request on the same grounds. And if Duke Energy won against the insurance companies and they were forced to pay, then there would be no need to jack up our rates. But we don't live in that perfect world, and Duke Energy is notorious for being able to conceal the big picture when they want something. Here's more:

Wednesday News: Turncoats

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BURR AND TILLIS VOTE TO MOVE FORWARD ON DAMAGING HEALTHCARE LEGISLATION: Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina voted to proceed with debate on Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, keeping alive their party’s attempt to keep a long-standing campaign promise. Republicans needed ailing Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who recently was diagnosed with brain cancer, to return to Washington to get to 50 votes, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote to move forward with debate. Two Republicans – Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – voted against the motion to proceed as did all 48 senators who caucus with Democrats.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article16...

Tuesday News: Getting out while the getting's good

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CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER QUITS UNDER TREASURER DALE FOLWELL: Kevin SigRist, the chief investment officer for the $94 billion state pension fund the past four years, has unexpectedly resigned. Folwell has cut fees paid to outside money managers by more than $60 million on an annualized basis, easily exceeding his campaign promise to slash fees by $100 million during the course of his four-year term. In conjunction with that cost-cutting, Folwell has shifted billions of dollars previously invested in stocks into investment-grade bonds and cash – for example, investing in things such as short-term U.S. Treasury bills. At times, according to internal memos reviewed by The News & Observer, Folwell has overruled the recommendations of the pension fund’s investment staff in shifting those funds out of stocks. Critics say the pension fund’s potential returns are being reduced because stocks typically outperform bonds and cash.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article163373913.html

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