NC GOP

The GOP's big-government free-for-all continues

Trinity's City Council on the chopping block:

Another bill has been filed in the General Assembly to restructure a local city council. State Rep. Pat Hurley (R-Randolph) filed a bill Tuesday that would shrink the size of the Trinity City Council, add an at-large member and reduce the length of council member terms to two years.

Councilman Chester Ayers, whose seat would be eliminated if the bill becomes law, said the council has had to make some tough decisions to cut spending, but he doesn’t see a community uproar about it. He said if residents don’t like his leadership, they can run against him in the fall. “This is a gripe of one or two people because they are not getting their way,” Ayers said. “It’s like any other town. Are you going to change our whole council because a couple of citizens — maybe one or two — are just not happy with the way things go?”

The short answer is, "yes." In the minds of Republicans, a handful of people is enough to warrant changes that affect all people. And the more the General Assembly meddles in the affairs of local governments, the more of these little local tyrants will pop up to exact revenge on local politicians who don't bow to their every desire.

GOP assault on higher ed continues

When party affiliation trumps performance:

They got Tom Ross. Now, they are going after Scott Rawls.

Under the Dome noted that Rawls, President of the North Carolina Community College System, is interviewing for a job as head of a college in Northern Virginia. Regardless of what he says publicly, my guess is that he is being pushed out. Republicans are in the process of purging Democrats and Democratic appointees from all levels of government and Rawls came to power before they were in control.

Can't help but get the feeling these moves represent more than just partisan house-cleaning. If Republicans are planning to execute some massive, radical funding cuts, it's best to do so after replacing education leaders who would have been outspoken opponents of such. It's a sign of the crazy times we're living in that I hope it's just partisan hackery, and not something more devastating.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

McCrory's victory dance will be short-lived:

Er, the Bergermeister hates losing, Pat. I'd lay heavy odds this will be appealed to the Supreme Court, and since the Legislature is in charge of funding the court system, methinks this ruling will be reversed...

Economic Development Partnership cloaked in secrecy

Concealing hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars offered to private corporations:

The partnership, an idea pushed by Gov. Pat McCrory, has been up and running for just under six months. Its enabling legislation and changes to the state’s public records laws create broader exceptions that allow more documents to be withheld.

John Lassiter of Charlotte, chairman of the group’s board, said he’s asked the partnership’s general counsel and CEO to study how they will handle public records. “I do understand there is some potential that if in fact a company is not relocating here, those records are not public,” Lassiter told the Observer. He said disclosing such records can hurt recruiters by revealing their “secrets” and making executives fear their communications with the state will become public.

If any of these Partnership big-wigs had a personal stockbroker who refused to reveal what/when/why/how much he was investing of their money, they would fire his ass and maybe take him to court. Well, guess what: It's our money these guys are playing around with, and if the Legislature has given them the authority to conceal that information from us, they all need to be fired, and maybe taken to court. We're not talking about peanuts here:

NC Republicans targeting metro voters

Raleigh and Charlotte about to be "blessed" with a nauseating PR campaign:

For Republicans, Mecklenburg and Wake are more than North Carolina’s most populous counties. They’re windows into the future of state politics. That’s why the N.C. Republican Party last week launched what it calls “Project Listen,” a concerted effort designed to improve the party’s brand in the state’s biggest counties.

“That’s the place to start,” says GOP strategist Paul Shumaker. “This is just a first step in what needs to be an ongoing process for the Republican Party to remain a competitive, viable force.”

Apparently Shumaker has stumbled upon a new cash cow to milk, at least until his Republican funders realize they would have to actually change their behavior (radically) to woo urban voters. And that's not even taking into consideration the GOP's current attempt to punish Wake County for electing all Democrats to the County Commission. And to kick off a "Project Listen" campaign by refusing to allow a debate about a public referendum is so laughably ironic, I'm afraid to type anything more about it for fear it will throw the entire Interwebs into a logic loop.

Hager enlarges his third-world tyrant portfolio

Taking away power from local authorities:

Rep. Mike Hager, the House Majority Leader, is the latest big government conservative to try to strip power from local governments and give it to the legislature. Hager introduced a bill that would take away local appointments to the Isothermal Community College Board of Trustees and give them to the General Assembly. It’s a pure power grab. Nobody on the board of trustees was aware Hager was going to introduce the bill and nobody asked him to file it.

Republicans say they’re just doing what Democrats did. That’s a lame excuse even if it was true. But it’s not.

Trying to dig out nuggets of truth from the GOP's rhetoric is like panning for gold on the Great Plains. A lot of hard work and frustration and nothing to show for it. The truth about this story will probably involve one local conservative with an axe to grind, and that's good enough for Mike Hager and many of his bent colleagues.

Air quality regulations get fracked by GOP

Proving their posturing about safety a few years ago was merely an act:

Despite strong objections from environmental advocates, lawmakers hurriedly approved a bill that repeals the current law which requires the adoption of state air quality rules by the agency charged with overseeing fracking — the state Mining and Energy Commission. In other words, rather than adopting North Carolina-specific air quality rules for fracking operations (something on which the Commission was already working), the Commission will now be free to take a pass and simply defer to the rudimentary and inadequate federal rules.

Today’s vote occurred in spite of the strong objections of environmental experts like Rep. Pricey Harrison of Guilford County, who explained that the federal rules basically exempt small “wildcat” operations — i.e. the very (and only) kind of gas exploration outfits that North Carolina is likely to attract given its unproven natural gas reserves.

Solidifying the notion the State's motto has reversed itself to the new version: "To Seem Rather Than To Be."

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke fined $25 million for Sutton leaks

Apparently DENR does still have some teeth:

The agency fined the utility $25.1 million for several years of leaking coal ash that polluted groundwater around the Sutton plant. The penalty also includes the state’s investigative costs. The state also hinted yesterday that more fines for groundwater violations at other Duke power plants could be coming.

The penalty dwarfed the previous record $5.6 million fine that the state issued in 1986 against Texasgulf Chemicals, now PCS Phosphate, for air emission violations at its phosphate mine and fertilizer plant on the Pamlico River in Beaufort County.

It's probably a sign I've been doing this political blogging thing too long, but the first thought that percolated from my brain was, "There's more than one way to make up your budget shortfalls." Where will that $25 million go? In a civil suit settlement, the judge often points a finger in the direction the money should be spent, but this is different. I'll see what I can find out.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Burning down your house because you don't like the wallpaper:

The last time somebody pulled a treasonous stunt like this, a whole lot of American soldiers died because of it:

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