Archive for North Carolina

Jun
24

Coming To NC This November?

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Poll watchers in Mississippi? What could go wrong?

Several right-wing groups have banded together to form a “voter integrity project’ in response to the news that Republican Senator Thad Cochran is courting black Democratic voters in his runoff with the Tea partier Chris McDaniel.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, Freedom Works and the Tea Party Patriots, all political action committees, will “deploy observers in areas where Mr. Cochran is recruiting Democrats,” according to a Times article. Ken Cuccinelli, the president of the Senate Conservative Funds, said these observers would be trained to see “whether the law is being followed.”

In a the source report, a Tea Party supporter suggested the Cochran campaign had (paraphrased, highlighting mine) “hired a community organizer to pay blacks to show up at the polls on Tuesday.”

Because that’s what “community organizers” do, isn’t it? wink.wink

NC’s Voter Integrity Project will be watching the polls here this election. Stay tuned.

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Jun
18

Moral Monday: June 16, 2014

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The work continues.

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Jun
10

Asheville Wins Water Lawsuit

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Photo by Gordon Smith.

Photo by Gordon Smith.

Wake County Superior Court ruled Monday in favor of the City of Asheville in its lawsuit opposing a state law transferring control of the city’s water system to a regional authority.
Asheville officials said Monday that Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. ruled state lawmakers last year violated the state constitution and failed to compensate for the cost of building the water system.

The Asheville Citizen-Times cites the mayor on the court ruling:

Mayor Esther Manheimer said that by taking the city’s position on four of the six legal points at issue, Manning’s ruling would be more difficult for the Court of Appeals to overturn. The decision does not address the two other points the city raised, that the law was an unlawful interference with the city’s contract with bondholders.

Manheimer called the ruling “great for Asheville.”

City legal staff certainly deserves a nod for all the hard work. But nobody worked longer hours and more doggedly on this fight — including all the round trips to Raleigh for hearings — than local activist Barry Summers.

But Summers and other opponents of a regionalized system had better be ready for the next round. The state will likely appeal the ruling. The law’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, called the court ruling “the first step in a very long journey.” And should the ruling stand, Moffitt might legislate again if he can find support among his colleagues for a more broadly written bill that puts more of their cities’ infrastructure in the crosshairs.

Unless Moffitt loses his House District 116 reelection bid this fall. A recent poll PPP poll released by his opponent, Brian Turner, showed Turner with a slight lead and 49 percent of voter with an unfavorable view of Moffitt.

Jun
09

Climate Change Fracking Our Beer

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In Three Ways Climate Change Is Going To Ruin Your Beer, Think Progress’ Ryan Koronowski looks at how brewers are trying to get ahead of water and ingredient shortages:

study from 2009 suggested that the quality of Saaz hops from the Czech Republic has been falling since 1954 due to warmer temperatures. This is true for hops-growing regionsacross Europe. “If you drink beer now, the issue of climate change is impacting you right now,” Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company sustainability director Jenn Orgolini said in 2011. “Craft brewers — the emphasis there is on craft. We make something, and it’s a deeply agricultural product.”

Koronowski cites efforts by brewers to reduce water consumption and carbon emissions as among other tactics brewers are using  to get ahead of the climate change curve even as their retromingent brethren deny climate change is real and demand the government do nothing to stop it.

That would not include North Carolina businesses such as wind-powered Outer Banks Brewing Station and Asheville’s New Belgium.

New Belgium Brewing Company last year was recognized by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council for putting in place systems that allow it to divert 99.8 percent of its waste from the landfill.

If climate change is a long-term threat to local brewers, what might fracking do in the near-term?

Independent scientists who have reviewed a water analysis conducted by state authorities of a Texas resident’s drinking well say the chemical signatures found in the water may provide “the nation’s first conclusive link” between fracking operations and aquifer contamination.

Corporate pirates? Drink up, me hearties.

Jun
02

Political Pushmi-Pullyu

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Hearing more anecdotes about rank-and-file Republicans seriously peeved with Raleigh and Thom Tillis. Guy I met last night has a Republican aunt in Wilkes Co. (Foxx territory) — retired 30-yr teacher. He’s never seen her hot like this — over cuts to teaching assistants and programs. And she’s not buying the GOP spin on teacher raises.

But will she hold her nose, throw the bums out, or just stay home this fall?

The GOP is pushing people towards Democrats, but are Democrats in Raleigh pulling? We’d better have more of a game plan for the fall than “we’re not them.” That won’t motivate Democratic turnout or crossover voters. Disgruntled voters need something affirmative to vote for.

What should it be?

May
30

Friday Open Thread

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They lit their garden hoses too. Scroll to timestamp 10:30.

Moral Monday protests resumed in Raleigh, NC last week as the legislature went into its short session. Defying new building rules intended to curtail the protests, protesters were back again Tuesday.

After a silent protest at the General Assembly last week, demonstrators turned up the volume on Tuesday – and into Wednesday – in an overnight sit-in at House Speaker Thom Tillis’ office.

Nearly 20 protesters, described as “workers from McDonalds, Wendy’s and Bojangles and clergy members” and dubbed the ‘Tillis 15,’ refused to leave Tillis’ office for nearly 11 hours. Fourteen were arrested at about 1:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Tillis did not engage the protesters who sang and prayed on the floor of his office before being removed. A statement issued by the group’s leader, state NAACP President Rev. William Barber, indicated that protesters remained determined, “People will die as a result of these cruel policies that have been put in place. People will lose the fundamental right to vote. We cannot stand idly by as our brothers and sisters are hurting.”

(Cross-posted from Crooks and Liars.)

Categories : North Carolina
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Another day in Wake County Superior Court yesterday in the case of “Moffitt v. Asheville,” Judge Howard Manning Jr. presiding. Rep. Tim Moffitt and Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson were on hand for the hearing in the lawsuit challenging Moffitt’s “Regionalization of Public Utilities” law that forcibly transfers control of Asheville’s water system to a new regional authority.

Much hinges on whether or not Moffitt’s bill was deliberately written to evade the state’s constitutional ban in Article 2, Sec. 24 on enacting local legislation “relating to health, sanitation, and the abatement of nuisances.” Asheville activist Barry Summers was there to remind attendees — graphically — not of the water system’s history, but of the legislation’s.

While both McGrady and Moffitt watched the proceedings in court, Asheville’s attorney Dan Clodfelter disagreed with the state’s assertion that the bill was not local in nature. An attorney with the Charlotte-based law firm Moore and Van Allen, Clodfelter himself served as a state senator until last month, when he was named the mayor of Charlotte.

The bill does not specifically name the city of Asheville. But Clodfelter said it was clear that was lawmakers’ intent, rather than creating a statewide bill with a general set of principles to administer.

“Our constitution says what it says,” Manning said, indicating that the constitutional question was the crux of the case. Expect an appeal, however Manning rules.

Moffitt v. Asheville is a style of legal shenanigans we have seen emerge over the last decade from Wall Street to Jones Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. That is, to push the limits of the law to the breaking point and beyond, to knowingly step over the line and — using the law itself for cover — to arrogantly dare anyone to push back. If no one does, or if they do and fail, those who twist the law to their own ends succeed, and the boundary between the legal and the criminal moves again, and not in the direction of the public good. Rinse, repeat. Thus, torture becomes “enhanced interrogation,” fraudulent securities become top-rated investments, and public investments in schools, water systems, highways and airports slowly become the private wealth of oligarchs. Like watching an accident in which everything goes into slow motion, it is happening before our very eyes. Because it transpires in remote meeting rooms under color of law, we the people are not supposed to notice.

(Original post has been corrected. Rep. Nathan Ramsey was not in attendance Friday, but was cited in reporting as an original sponsor of the water bill.)

May
23

Friday Open Thread

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Friday, yes, but not without a little Moral Monday.

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May
22

Snip, Snip Here

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Snip, snip here
Snip, snip there
We serve the brothers Koch
That’s why we slash without a care
In the merry old land of Pope

This was the headline two weeks ago, as the governor’s structural deficit began to bite:

Budget disaster of gigantic proportions looms over North Carolina

Justifying the NCGOP’s ongoing war on cities, of course:

House approves tax on e-cigarettes and caps tax on local businesses

The $100 cap on local privilege taxes pitted supporters who wanted to cut the taxes on businesses against critics who worried about the millions that some cities and towns would lose for essential services, such as police, fire and public recreation.

And more, of course:

NCCAT, NC’s premier professional development center for teachers, faces the chopping block

I never put this in a front page post, so to repeat a comment from last June:

What we’re seeing is an extension of the GOP’s “defund the left” strategy of undermining the largest concentrations of manpower and funding that support Democrats. First they went after private-sector unions, then public-sector unions, and teachers, firefighters, trial lawyers, etc. Then with Voter ID they attacked seniors, college students and minorities.

Now, in NC they’re attacking cities. That’s where the large concentrations of Democratic votes are. So they are working to weaken them economically and politically. They’ve taken away control of Asheville’s airport. They’re working on Charlotte’s. They’ve forced district County Commission elections on Buncombe and will do the same with Asheville City Council. Collectively, Republicans in Raleigh are hoping to weaken the D’s hold and render the city irrelevant in future state and local elections. And with redistricting, they’ve isolated Asheville in House 114 and won’t even bother running candidates for now.

They’ve legislatively taken Asheville’s water system to blow a huge hole in the city budget, leaving the city with two choices: cut services or raise taxes. Prices for water and sewer will likely rise. After a couple of cycles, Republicans will be running candidates who blame the city’s troubles troubles on “mismanagement and waste” by Democrats and counting on voters to forget by then who precipitated the crisis in the first place.

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