Archive for Local

Nov
28

Black Friday Open Thread

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Just say no.

What’s Cecil Bothwell gotten into this week?

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Nov
26

Asheville responds

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At the Vance Monument, downtown Asheville. A response to Ferguson.

Categories : Events, Local, National, News, Race
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Nov
22

Hang On Tight

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Just because Rep. Tim Moffitt lost his reelection bid doesn’t mean the fight over Asheville’s water system is over. And guess what? There’s still time for more mischief before January.

The case is still in the courts. So stay tuned.

But as some of us have observed, the push to wrest control of water from cities is not a local phenomenon. Others without any connection to the Sullivan Acts are having the same fights around the country. Detroit, for example. Some, like St. Louis, are winning:

A new report from Corporate Accountability International, “Troubled Waters: Misleading Industry PR and the Case for Public Water,” addresses the privatization juggernaut to describe how some cities have dealt with corporate pressure, especially since some of it is predicated on the needs of U.S. water systems for as much as $4.8 trillion in investment in the next 20 years, as private companies, such as the French multinational Veolia Water North America, hinting that privatization would help create the needed capitalization.

The report describes elements of Veolia’s strategy in St. Louis. One example is their offer of consulting services (through Veolia’s Peer Performance Solutions) that would cut public water system costs, but in reality would be a foot in the door toward privatization. After years of pitching, Veolia got the city, including Mayor Francis Slay, to approve a Peer Performance Solutions contract with Veolia, but community activists and nonprofits challenged the idea. Activists formed the St. Louis Dump Veolia coalition to oppose the contract. The Great Rivers Environmental Law Center did its own analysis of the proposed contract, finding that the “contract will have the effect of privatizing the city’s Water Division, and will make city residents captive to Veolia.” According to the Corporate Accountability International report author, Emanuele Lobina, the terms of the Veolia contract would make Veolia “the private owner of all ideas for improving the St. Louis Water Division.”

Ultimately, Veolia failed. withdrew. Perhaps because 33 U.S. cities that went down the privatization path have already “re-municipalized” their water systems. Sometimes the glossy sales pitch is the only thing that shines about these deals.

Categories : Local, Tim Moffitt, Water
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Fracking continues to gain in unpopularity. During the recent election, candidates and campaigners told me one sure way to flip voters from the opposition — especially rural voters — was to inform them the Republican supported fracking.

There’s trouble at t’drill in Bakersfield, CA. “Errors were made.” (video at KNTV link):

State officials allowed oil and gas companies to pump nearly three billion gallons of waste water into underground aquifers that could have been used for drinking water or irrigation.

Those aquifers are supposed to be off-limits to that kind of activity, protected by the EPA.

Nah. Never happen where you live, right?

“This is something that is going to slowly contaminate everything we know around here,” said fourth- generation Kern County almond grower Tom Frantz, who lives down the road from several of the injection wells in question.

According to state records, as many as 40 water supply wells, including domestic drinking wells, are located within one mile of a single well that’s been injecting into non-exempt aquifers.

Kern County community organizer Juan Flores told reporters, “No one from this community will drink from the water from out of their well. The people are worried. They’re scared.”

But there’s nothing to see here, little people:

The trade association that represents many of California’s oil and gas companies says the water-injection is a “paperwork issue.” In a statement issued to NBC Bay Area, Western States Petroleum Association spokesman Tupper Hull said “there has never been a bona vide claim or evidence presented that the paperwork confusion resulted in any contamination of drinking supplies near the disputed injection wells.”

However, state officials tested 8 water supply wells within a one-mile radius of some of those wells.
Four water samples came back with higher than allowable levels of nitrate, arsenic, and thallium.
Those same chemicals are used by the oil and gas industry in the hydraulic fracturing process and can be found in oil recovery waste-water.

“We are still comparing the testing of what was the injection water to what is the tested water that came out of these wells to find out if they were background levels or whether that’s the result of oil and gas operation, but so far it’s looking like it’s background,” said James Marshall from the California Department of Conservation.

Marshall acknowledged that those chemicals could have come from oil extraction, and not necessarily wastewater disposal.

I know, right? What a relief.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : Environment, Water
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Oct
31

MacQueen on Marriage Equality : CIBO

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“Let them be true to themselves.” – Tate MacQueen, Democratic candidate for NC-10

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I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.

Sting

As other states across the country, North Carolina is looking at ways to implement legislation that would allow drone use in the state. The FAA is still attempting to define how they might safely share the skies with other aircraft. Equipped with a GoPro camera, small drones seem like nifty tools for photographers and hobbyists. But given the growing surveillance state revealed by Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, it is natural that civil liberties groups – and even the T-party – are wary of their use by the government against civilians. It didn’t help that one of the sites chosen for early testing in the state belongs to the private security company formerly known as Blackwater.

This morning, the Winston-Salem Journal begins a 3-part series on how drones have been promoted in North Carolina, and by whom.

Imagine: You’re having an open-invitation BBQ in your own backyard. Friends can bring friends. Anyone can come. Thanks to newly enacted legislation, local and state law enforcement agencies are allowed to show up, too, without a warrant, to spy on you with drones.

It seems an unlikely scenario. Yet, a staff attorney at the state General Assembly’s Research Division, confirmed that it could happen. At a BBQ, “a Moral Monday planning session at a friend’s house” or “a conservative Tea Party gathering.”

Read More→

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Oct
06

Are You Doing Enough?

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Nicole Sandler at Radioornot posts this guest piece by the amazing Billy Wimsatt:

Guest post by Billy Wimsatt who joins me on the show this morning at 10:30ET. Listen live or come back later for the podcast.

I’m freaking out about the Senate. I woke up this morning and thought:

WE HAVE TO DO MORE!!!

I’m freaking out BOTH because Mitch McConnell controlling the Senate is terrifying AND because I believe we can stop it.

Looking at the FiveThirtyEight Senate Forecast, there are at least three races likely to be decided by somewhere between 1 vote and 17,000 votes.

senate chart

Iowa has been a 1 point race consistently since June (the Republican is ahead). That translates to roughly 11,000 votes we need to make up (out of approximately 1.1 million likely to be cast).

Colorado has become a 1 point race in the last month with the Republican ahead. This translates to roughly 17,000 votes we need to make up (out of 1.7 million votes cast).

Alaska has widened to a 3 point race with the Republican leading. But this translates to only 7,500 votes (of 250,000 total cast).

If we win 2 of these 3 races, plus Kansas, North Carolina, and New Hampshire (where the Dem-leaning candidates are ahead by 3-4 points), we can save the freaking Senate.

Yesterday, I freaked out and authorized VOTE MOB to hire 20-25 organizers in Kansas (where we currently have 8 paid organizers). This morning, I woke up and thought: Let’s do the same in Iowa (where we currently have 3). I’m talking with partners in Alaska and Colorado about what else we can do to help.

Mind you, VOTE MOB doesn’t have money to do this (we still need to raise at least another $80k). But I’m willing to break the bank and take money away from other states and projects if necessary. So any support people can send to VOTE MOB or other groups is appreciated (see this 2014 Hot List for ideas of key state and local groups).

But I believe there’s even more we must do. To turn out more voters, we need a lot more people talking to a lot more people – especially on and around campuses and in communities of color. If turnout in 2014 is similar to 2010, more than 300,000 Iowa Democrats who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 will not show up at the polls.

All we need to do is GOTV 1 in 30 of these progressive drop off-voters (who are disproportionately folks under 30 and people of color) and we can swing the Senate race in Iowa

Getting out another 7,500 or 17,000 progressive voters in these states is totally do-able. We just have to remind folks what day the election is, help them find their polling place – easy stuff. In Iowa, there is currently in-person Early Voting. So you can literally grab people off the street or out of dorms in Iowa City and drag them to register and vote in 15 minutes. It’s SO easy.

I’m serious. Everyone in DC needs to take a leave from work, get on a damn plane and go to Iowa or Colorado or another swing state -or do SOMETHING. We’re not going to do anything done but play defense on every issue for the next two years if Republicans control the Senate. Climate people – if Mitch McConnell becomes Senate Majority Leader, he is literally planning to get rid of the EPA. And as we know, he will shut-down the government to do it. Ditto for every issue folks are working on.

What else can we do? What else are you willing to do?  I will raise money to fly people to Iowa if I can. I will help find folks good volunteer placements and places to stay. (Yes, there are lots of other important states that will help determine control of the Senate and Governors and other races which are arguably just as important). So go to Florida or Michigan or Illinois or Wisconsin or North Carolina or Georgia – or wherever you want to go!

But seriously… we need to prioritize this election. We have to learn the lesson from 2010 – and for that matter, from 2000. Stopping a GOP Senate take-over affects every issue and every person each of us cares about. We cannot sit this out.

We have to start treating mid-term elections like Presidential elections. Or else we’re gonna have 2010 all over again – which is totally preventable. It is not too late to change the outcome. I would challenge anyone to come up with something more important to do over the next 4 weeks.

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Sep
16

Astro-fracking North Carolina

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Courtesy of its GOP-led legislature, the great state of North Carolina is exploring fracking Triassic Basin shale deposits in the center of the state. Gov. Pat McCrory this summer lifted the moratorium on the practice in place since 2012. The bill he signed also made revealing the chemical components of fracking fluids a misdemeanor (an earlier draft made it a felony). A friend already has a T-shirt listing fracking chemicals on the back. The front reads, “This T-shirt is illegal in North Carolina.”

The Mining and Energy Commission is taking public comment on fracking in the state, naturally. Last week, they held their last public meeting in the mountains at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. About 550 people attended. Opponents, mostly, and a few astroturf fracking supporters.

Few pro-fracking supporters made themselves visible. People favoring the drilling technology were booed and hissed at during previous fracking hearings. There were some, however. Three or four from America’s Energy Forum and N.C. Energy Forum, groups that receive financial support from American Petroleum Institute. And there was Winston-Salem resident Christian Bradshaw, who said he made the three-hour trip to support “energy-creating jobs” for North Carolina.

According to news reports (and friends who were there), about 18 men arrived wearing “Shale Yes” T-shirts, but seemed unaware of what fracking is. At least one had come from a Winston-Salem homeless shelter because “he had been told it would help the environment.” As a friend described it, once the Army veteran realized he’d been duped, he couldn’t believe he’d sold out for a sandwich.


“The energy industry keeps claiming that there is support for fracking in WNC. What they fail to mention is that they have to bus the clueless ‘supporters’ in,” said Betsy Ashby, who helped organize Jackson County Coalition Against Fracking.

One of the men apologized to Ashby, saying “I didn’t know they were trying to do this to me.” Another indicated he had just done it for the money.

“They’re being exploited seven ways to Sunday,” Ashby told reporters.

Whether the issue is women’s health, school funding, Medicaid expansion, or preserving voting rights and the environment — the Moral Monday Movement’s fusion agenda — that’s pretty much how it goes. Among the tens of thousands of Moral Monday protesters, a thousand were willing to be arrested to oppose the NCGOP’s radical agenda. The Koch brothers, Art Pope, and the rest of the Midas cult have to buy support. Boy howdy, can they afford to. And even then, they are exploiting people.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo. h/t Ashevegas)

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Sep
05

Moffitt On Moffitt — On Tape

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Moffitt cribbed it:

ASHEVILLE – A company owned by state Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, lifted passages without attribution from other sources and used them in material for use on other legislators’ websites, a liberal Raleigh political group has found.

Progress North Carolina, the AC-T reports, says it found dozens of instances where anything from “a sentence or two” to “long paragraphs” were lifted without attribution. The irony here is what Moffitt told Barry Summers last Friday at last week’s CIBO meeting about his main focus areas in working with ALEC (on tape):

[P]robably my most pressing issue is intellectual property violations by foreign companies that really hurt North Carolina from the pharmaceutical/biotech standpoint.”

That’s right, nobody can violate the intellectual property rights of good, old Americans companies (like GSK, Bayer, or Novartis) except good, old Americans.

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Aug
31

Anything Asheville Can Learn Here?

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Chattanooga is a reminder that the best solutions are often local…

A lot of commonalities here with Asheville:

Loveman’s department store on Market Street in Chattanooga closed its doors in 1993 after almost a century in business, another victim of a nationwide decline in downtowns that hollowed out so many US towns. Now the opulent building is buzzing again, this time with tech entrepreneurs taking advantage of the fastest internet in the western hemisphere.

[...]

In large part the success is being driven by The Gig. Thanks to an ambitious roll-out by the city’s municipally owned electricity company, EPB, Chattanooga is one of the only places on Earth with internet at speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average.

The tech buildup comes after more than a decade of reconstruction in Chattanooga that has regenerated the city with a world-class aquarium, 12 miles of river walks along the Tennessee River, an arts district built around the Hunter Museum of American Arts, high-end restaurants and outdoor activities.

What was it the Cowardly Lion asked?

Categories : Economy, Local
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