Sunday, July 27, 2014 - 3:40pm

Opening the floodgates of taxpayer dollars:

(H) Transportation Funding
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391 (1) The state department of education shall disburse state transportation funding to an
392 authorizer for each of its public charter school students on the same basis and in the same
393 manner as it is paid to school districts. An authorizer shall disburse state transportation
394 funding to a public charter school in proportion to the amount generated by the school’s
395 students.

396 (2) A public charter school may enter into a contract with a school district or private provider
397 to provide transportation to the school’s students.

Bolding mine. There's nothing in the language of this (or any other) cookie cutter model legislation requiring charters to actually provide transportation in lieu of said transportation funding, and North Carolina currently doesn't require charters to provide transportation for students:

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Sunday, July 27, 2014 - 11:03am

Taking country club exclusivity on the road:

A group of vintage sports car buffs wants use of the park for a daylong “hill climb” on Sept. 11, a Thursday. State officials appear ready to grant the request, assuming the legislation passes, for a $10,000 fee. Key figures in the Pilot Mountain event were heavy donors to the campaign that got McCrory elected in 2012.

“If we see the opportunity to do something for economic development in a rural part of the state, we’re going to listen to that,” said Brad Ives, an assistant environment secretary who oversees parks. “We’re going to expose some well-heeled people to a beautiful part of North Carolina.”

Here's a thought: repeal the tax breaks for those "well-heeled" citizens so we can once again afford to keep the parks open every day. As it stands right now, tourists better do their research before traveling to North Carolina, or they're liable to run into a "Closed" sign at the entrance to a park. That's bad enough, but if they find out they can't get in because some rich folks have "reserved" the park for themselves that day, those tourists will never come back. Those rich folks might not care about that, but our government should.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 10:49am

Maybe the idea had supernatural origins:

"This just came forth like Aphrodite from the sea foam of the Aegean," Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, told members on the House floor Friday, backing a move to preserve the task force.

On Thursday, when the measure was vetted by the House Rules Committee, Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, the committee chairman, said that the task force deletion was requested by the Senate. But House members and others who later investigated said they could not find a Senate member who would claim ownership of the move.

The only "foam" present during this session is what's dripping from the mouths of power-mad Republicans like Stam, who see a technical corrections bill as a handy vehicle to get things done that wouldn't pass muster on their own merits.

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Friday, July 25, 2014 - 11:37am

Privatization going off the rails:

And when you're doing something really unwise, cutting off the debate is SOP:

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Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 11:49am

You're not in South Carolina anymore, Toto:

U.S. Capitol police arrested a 59-year-old Camden, S.C., man Wednesday as he tried to enter a congressional office building with a loaded 9mm Ruger handgun in his bag. Officers discovered the weapon as they stopped Ronald William Prestage at about 9:20 a.m. as part of a routine search of visitors at the Rotunda entrance of the Cannon building

He was charged with carrying a pistol without a license and taken to the Central Cell Block, a facility of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department. The State newspaper, a McClatchy publication in Columbia, S.C., reported that Prestage is a veterinarian, hog farmer, and president of Prestage Farms in Camden.

Well, that's one approach to lobbying reform. But it's kind of hard to write legislation when you've got a Ruger stuck in your ear. Prestage is also (big surprise) a deep-pocketed GOP donor, which earned him a seat on North Carolina State University's Board of Trustees:

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 12:34pm

Why leaving the vast majority of the coal ash in the Dan River is dangerously negligent:

Most species of aquatic insects live in the sediment, collecting, filtering, and grazing upon minute particles of food. Nothing goes to waste down there, not even the arsenic and selenium from coal ash. Heavy metals get lodged into the tissues of any insect that eats them. When minnows eat the insects, they consume the toxins. Larger fish get toxins from every minnow they eat. As you climb higher in the food chain, the amount of arsenic or selenium you find multiplies progressively. This process is called biomagnification and it has impacts on a food web from bottom to top.

NC's Department of Public Health has lifted its recreational advisory (they have yet to post the press release on their website, but I will link to it when they do), telling people it's okay to swim and fish in the River. But they're apparently still advising people to not eat the fish they say it's okay to catch. Which is a contradiction I'm still trying to wrap my mind around. Anyway, back to the science:

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 6:57pm

From a federal grand jury indictment almost a year ago:

The 29-count indictment charges Boggs Paving Inc., Carl Andrew Boggs, III (a/k/a Drew Boggs), 49, of Waxhaw, North Carolina; Kevin Hicks, 42, of Monroe, North Carolina; Greg Miller, 59, of Matthews, North Carolina; Greg Tucker, 40, of Oakboro, North Carolina; John Cuthbertson (a/k/a Styx Cuthbertson), 68, of Monroe; and Styx Cuthbertson Trucking Company Inc., of Wingate, North Carolina; with conspiracy to defraud the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering conspiracy, money laundering, and wire fraud for a scheme that lasted more than 10 years and involved more than $87 million in government contracts. All the defendants except Greg Tucker are also charged with mail fraud.

And McCrory can't claim he doesn't know this particular crook, because it appears Drew Boggs actually hosted a reception for the soon-to-be Governor:

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 9:37am

We'll start today's entry with a complicated issue:

Quite possibly too complicated for our current leaders:

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Sunday, July 20, 2014 - 4:05pm

If you can make it, please turn out to support the folks struggling with this man-made catastrophe:

Concerned citizens in south Asheville and the greater Buncombe County area are invited to attend an informational meeting about the contaminated CTS site on Tuesday, July 29th at the T.C. Roberson High School auditorium from 6:00 to 7:30 PM. This meeting, entitled “The Road to Cleanup,” will provide the latest technical information on the contamination at the CTS site, outline steps necessary for immediate cleanup action, and allow a forum for residents to ask questions of technical experts and the EPA. The meeting is hosted by POWER Action Group, an Asheville-based non-profit advocating for a comprehensive cleanup at the contaminated CTS of Asheville Superfund site.

One drawback to the focus of regional news outlets is people in the Triangle are often unaware of what's happening in the mountains, or vice-versa. One of our long-standing goals at BlueNC is to shorten the distance between regions, to bring our readers stories they might miss from their local paper. And this is a big one:

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