NC Supreme Court steps in on ASU voting site

Making a bad joke out of the whole "non-partisan judiciary" designation:

The North Carolina Supreme Court said Wednesday afternoon the courts should take up the issue of early voting on the campus of Appalachian State, literally moments after the State Board of Elections had voted to restore the on-campus early voting site.

However, the early voting site will remain open as the state elections board voted, unless the board meets again to cancel the site.

The Supreme Court order came down just before 5 p.m., less than an hour after the state board voted unanimously to OK the site in a hastily called emergency meeting.

What does this mean? That's a good question. But considering how adamant and steadfast the state BoE has been about helping the Eggers stifle student voting in Watauga County, they're probably hastily calling another emergency meeting this very minute.

Empty suit debates empty chair

And the chair wins a decisive victory:

The program initially billed as a debate between Tillis and other candidates turned into a one-hour conversation with him and two reporters, as well as responses to emailed or recorded questions from the public. Hagan announced over the summer her decision not to participate, while Libertarian Sean Haugh didn't meet a 15 percent polling threshold to join Tillis.

"I'm disappointed that Sen. Hagan's not here," Tillis said in a closing statement in which he repeated themes from their previous three televised debates with Hagan in which he linked her closely to President Barack Obama's policies.

And I'm disappointed that both Time Warner and McClatchy felt it was appropriate to continue with such a farce. The candidates agreed to a certain number of debates earlier in the year, and both media outlets were warned well in advance that Hagan wouldn't be attending. To give Tillis airtime to spew his talking points without a serious challenge to their merit should require an "in-kind" contribution disclosure form for the Tillis campaign from both TWC and McClatchy.

Coal Ash Wednesday: McCrory says environmental orgs should help pay for cleanup

Instead of spending their money on political ads against him:

The theme of the spots has been that new regulations the governor signed are too lax. They conclude with the message that the governor “has coal ash on his hands,” showing an image of dirty palms.

"I think it's just a total waste of money," McCrory told reporters during a tour of SAS in Cary. "They ought to be spending their money to clean up the environment ... not on ridiculous, negative political TV ads."

There's more than one mess that needs to be cleaned up. North Carolina's political mess is quite possibly more dangerous to our natural resources than coal ash impoundments, because it encompasses everything from fracking and offshore drilling to the relaxation of air and water quality regulations that keep industry and developers in check. And the only way to clean up that particular mess is to remove the GOP contamination of the General Assembly and the Governor's mansion.

Daily dose: Zombie workers version

NORTH CAROLINA’S 31,000 ZOMBIE WORKERS : North Carolina’s unemployment rate for September was 6.7 percent – a tenth-of-a-point less than it was the month before. But is that the real unemployment rate? It is hard to tell because there are North Carolina workers, folks who once had jobs or were looking for jobs, that have simply disappeared. A year ago, North Carolina’s workforce was 4.677 million strong. Today that workforce is 4.646 million – 31,000 less. No one can say where these workers went, but according to the N.C. Commerce Department’s Division of Labor and Economic Analysis, these 31,000 workers are no longer with us. (Full report is available online at: https://www.ncesc1.com/pmi/rates/PressReleases/State/NR_Sept_2014_StRate_M.pdf) It is a curious situation in a state where the population is growing and, according to Gov. Pat McCrory, part of the state’s stubbornly high unemployment rate is due to an influx of workers from other states. If those zombie workers were included among the unemployed, the state’s unemployment rate for September would be 7 percent. Some other secrets buried in the monthly unemployment report: In the last year, government in North Carolina really is shrinking – down 2,700 workers in the last month and 200 overall for the last year. “The only major industry experiencing a decrease over the year was government,” according to the report. Workers are putting in longer hours, but taking home a smaller hourly wage: “Average weekly hours for manufacturing production workers in September increased 18 minutes from August. … Hourly earnings fell by (3 cents) to $16.65, as average weekly earnings increased by $3.69 to $730.94 ($38,000 annually).”

The psychological roots of the "Unaffiliated Voter" trend

There's more to it than just disaffection:

More than three-quarters of the growth in voter registrations in North Carolina this year was among unaffiliated rather than signing up as a Republican, Democrat or Libertarian.

This isn't a new trend. Between voters fed up with either party and unsure of which camp they belong in, the ranks of unaffiliated voters have been growing steadily over the past decade.

This is not limited to NC. As a matter of fact, NC is just now catching up with average national numbers. And while disaffection with the two established parties is definitely a factor, Individuation (with a sprinkling of Narcissism) is likely driving the trend more:

Daily dose: Moffitt's Raleigh chickens coming home to roost

Where the National Climate Doesn't Matter (National Journal) -- If there's a Republican wave, it's broken against the Blue Ridge Mountains that nearly encircle this western North Carolina town south of Asheville. Brian Turner's campaign is proof. The telegenic 40-year-old year-old Democrat is running for a state House seat held by Republican incumbent Rep. Tim Moffitt. It's a race he should lose: Moffitt's district was redrawn after 2010 to give the rising GOP star a friendlier electorate, and Mitt Romney carried it easily in 2012. Yet polls make it plain that Turner could win -- a victory that would come even amid heavy losses for his party nationwide. Because in North Carolina, voters casting ballots in local races aren't just thinking about President Obama, ISIS or liberal overreach. Right now, they're also concerned about the state's Republican-controlled government, whose aggressive budgets cuts and conservative priorities sparked cries that it was out of sync with a Democratic-trending state. "People here are concerned about environmental issues and education," said Turner, a former producer at MTV who ended up a Vice Chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, a job he said gave him an up-close look at North Carolina's education cutbacks. "That's what's driving the vast majority of voters." … North Carolina's state Legislature, which ranks among the country's most conservative since 2013, has created a different political climate here. To some degree, that's bled into the Senate race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and GOP challenger Thom Tillis, who also serves as the state House speaker. Hagan has blamed Tillis for the Legislature's record, particularly cuts to education funding, throughout the campaign. But the dissatisfaction with the state legislature had its greatest effect in state legislative races, where Turner and two other house Democratic candidates near Asheville are all seen as competitive bets to knock off Republican incumbents.
http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/where-the-national-climate-doesn-t-matter-20141021

Skvarla losing the Op-Ed battle over DENR-approved pollution

It's better to let someone think you're an idiot than clicking the "send" button and proving it:

The recent attack on The Fayetteville Observer's journalistic integrity by the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was unfounded. In a letter to the editor ("Coal-ash pond editorial challenged," Oct. 14), Secretary John Skvarla attempted to defend his agency's decision to allow pumping of contaminated water into North Carolina's rivers and lakes from Duke Energy's coal ash sites across the state without permits, controls and limits - or public disclosure and input.

Under Secretary Skvarla's leadership, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources touts customer service, and its actions indicate those customers served are the polluters, not the public. DENR and its secretary should instead direct their energies toward protecting our waters for the people and families of North Carolina.

Every time Skvarla tries to sell the public on the idea that he knows what he's doing, he just demonstrates more convincingly that he doesn't. I was going to say, "It's like struggling in quicksand." But it's more like seeing a patch of quicksand and just hopping in. Painfully stupid.

Richard Burr pulls a Jesse Helms on Ebola vaccine

"It's your own fault, you shouldn't have wasted money on XYZ.":

It is unsettling that in discussing shortfalls in the federal government’s response to the Ebola crisis, some Beltway observers have resorted to the traditional Washington shell game: blame the budget. The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, has lamented the lack of an Ebola vaccine and therapeutics due to insufficient resources. It is not, however, all that surprising.

The blame-the-budget game diverts the conversation away from focusing on NIH accountability for past priorities and spending. Those grumbling about the lack of resources should not neglect the resources poured into low-priority and perhaps unnecessary projects at NIH during the last decade.

Oh, the irony. Burr is doing exactly what he complains about, playing a shell game and diverting the conversation. Jesse Helms was notorious for digging up some frivolous-sounding government program or research project to use as a foil to deny needed funding, even if the foil in question received very little funding and/or resources. Burr, like many of his Republican colleagues, has turned "doing nothing" into an art form.

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