Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 6:06pm

The grass isn't the only thing greener on the other side:

After helping to develop the governor's plan, which emphasizes the development of local doctor networks to care for Medicaid patients, Peal is going to work for a company whose lobbyists have worked on behalf of a competing measure put forward by state Senate leaders. That Senate plan would have relied more heavily on companies such as WellCare to manage the state's Medicaid population.

Mullins said the administration would continue to push for a Medicaid reform model that relies on local providers and emphasized Peal was part of a group that had developed the accountable care organization model put forward by McCrory. Mullins said Wednesday that Peal did not want to comment for this story.

I bet she didn't.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 10:24am

Disciplinary action or election-year posturing?

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a notice of violation to Duke over the ongoing contamination at the L.V. Sutton Electric Plant in New Hanover County. The site includes a pair of unlined dumps estimated to hold 2.6 million tons of ash.

The state says monitoring wells near Duke's dumps at Sutton showed readings exceeding state groundwater standards for boron, thallium, selenium, iron, manganese and other chemicals. Thallium was used for decades as the active ingredient in rat poison until it was banned because it is so highly toxic.

Make no mistake, Duke Energy should be fined for allowing toxic chemicals to leak from their coal ash impoundments. But considering they will soon be pursuing (and likely be granted) rate increases from the NCUC, whatever fines they do pay for this will be easily recouped from the people. And efforts by DENR to conceal or edit test results calls the timing of this action into question:

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 12:39pm

The rumors of Art Pope's loss of influence over McCrory are wildly exaggerated:

In a press release on Monday afternoon, Governor Pat McCrory announced that he will appoint Winston-Salem lawyer Richard Dietz to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Dietz will fill the seat of Judge Bob Hunter, Jr., whom McCrory appointed as a Justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court ahead of elections in November. Judge hunter will be sworn in on September 6th to be followed by Dietz.

“Richard Dietz has an esteemed legal record and an extensive background in appellate practice,” said Governor McCrory. “His experience, service on the North Carolina Courts Commission and involvement in his community will make him a valuable addition to the Court of Appeals.”

What you won't find in this article is his recent attachment to Civitas and the John Locke Foundation, including his indoctrination training in free-market principles:

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 9:18am

The harsh reality of the GOP's failure to properly fund public education:

And no math formula can make it right:

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Monday, August 25, 2014 - 10:17am

And the voices of dissent are growing:

The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission is seeking input from the public on proposed rules for oil and gas development. The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Aug. 25 at Rockingham County High School in Wentworth.

Also on Monday, opponents to fracking are organizing a Frack Free NC rally at 4:15 p.m. in front of Rockingham County High School.

So far, opponents have outnumbered pro-frackers by a sizeable margin, but that hasn't stopped media from giving them equal time. Which is exactly what FreedomWorks is counting on.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014 - 10:52am

And the walls that separate church and state teetered precariously:

Two possible contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee – are scheduled to be in Charlotte on Sept. 14 to headline “Star Spangled Sunday,” a live national webcast from First Baptist Church of Charlotte.

The Rev. Mark Harris, who pastors First Baptist, said the event celebrating the 200th anniversary of the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” is also set to include some other speakers popular with conservative Christians. Namely Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, the national chain of craft stores, and the Benham brothers – David and Jason – of Concord.

Pretty sure Francis Scott Key didn't envision people celebrating prejudice in his name, or using a pulpit to politically motivate other people: "Either you think or else others have to think for you and take power from you pervert and discipline your natural tastes civilize and sterilize you." What he said.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014 - 10:23am

And it's fitting there's a Banana Republic banner ad running across the top of the story:

The legislature in the newly insane state of North Carolina had the brilliant idea of shoveling public money into private schools. Perhaps in an attempt to keep James Madison from spinning at 300 rpm, a state superior court judge named Thomas Hobgood went upside the legislature's melon in a big way.

You will be shocked, I know, that the fine hand of ALEC was behind this turkey, and that Thom Tillis, the current Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate who has moved into a small lead over Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, thinks the program was just a swell idea. And you will also be shocked, I know, to learn that the judge concluded that education "reform" legislation was essentially based on a scam. The grift goes on. I'm sure, somehow, this is the fault of the teachers' unions.

Okay, it's "Robert" Hobgood, and North Carolina doesn't have a teacher's union, it's an association. But other than those things, I second your "insane turkey" observations.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 11:28am

From an LTE in the Char-O:

Separation of government and business is important to prevent abuse of influence and power by the parties to these alliances. Without protections, we are at risk of our nation’s local, state, and federal governments of being controlled by the increasing influence of government-business relationships. Those relationships subject citizens to ever-increasing and unnecessary government excesses.

The author (a doctor) makes some pretty good points, but he appears to be placing the blame more on the advent of income taxes than on the politicians and businessmen who engage in this "abuse of influence and power." He also (like many other critics of incentives) ignores the private-sector elephant in NC's living room, the creation of the Economic Development Partnership, a group of influential businessmen that will be playing around with taxpayer dollars. Which is leaps and bounds more screwed up than traditional government incentive approaches, and opens up several huge Pandora's Boxes of ethical concerns. But instead of talking about a real-world ethical monster, we get this ideological jibber-jabber:

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 9:54am

Stick a Band-Aid on it and do a victory dance:

The legislation mandates that ash be excavated at only four of Duke’s 14 North Carolina coal-fired power plants. “Low-risk” ponds can be capped in place without removing ash. A moratorium on Duke seeking rate hikes to pay for coal ash cleanup would expire in January 2015, as the Senate bill had stated. The House had pushed for the moratorium to end in December 2016.

Contaminated groundwater has been found near ash ponds at all of Duke’s coal plants. The Southern Environmental Law Center said the committee changes seek “to weaken existing law and protect Duke Energy from taking responsibility for its coal ash waste.”

“Allowing coal ash to be left in unlined, leaking pits across North Carolina with documented groundwater contamination at each site is not a cleanup plan nor does it protect the people of North Carolina,” the center said.

This isn't a compromise bill, it's the bastard child of a horrible plan and an already compromised plan. And the only reason it's moving forward is political in nature, so Republicans won't get punished in November for doing nothing.

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