Lee Roberts utilizes "fuzzy math" to justify prison contract

The trail of evidence gets slimier by the foot:

A study submitted to the General Assembly by top prison officials had concluded that private maintenance would result in “no significant savings” for taxpayers, but State Budget Director Lee Roberts criticized that study as flawed.

Roberts said his review was different from that conducted by the governor’s office: “They don’t have the time or the ability to review technical matters.” In December, Roberts said his budget office analysis showed the state would save $1 million a year. (Keith had said the annual savings were $413,000.)

When Art Pope "retired" as Budget Director for McCrory, it was generally accepted that his replacement would be less influential in the Governor's Cabinet. I'm not so sure anymore. Not trying to "excuse" McCrory from any wrongdoings in this fiasco, but he is definitely not a "mastermind" of anything. The new Budget Director (Roberts) and the prison maintenance contractor (Keith) have one possibly big thing in common: They are both deeply involved in the murky world of land/real estate investment and development. And those transactions dwarf the mere $12,000 in campaign contributions Graeme Keith gave to McCrory. Just food for thought, as you ponder which slice of pie you might be able to squeeze in on top of all the other stuff.

Thursday News: TOTUS freed edition

OBAMA PARDONS TURKEY, WHO’S ‘EARNED A SECOND CHANCE’ (Wall Street Journal) -- President Barack Obama "pardoned" the TOTUS — the Turkey of the United States -- in an annual White House Thanksgiving ceremony on Wednesday.

WHITE HOUSE TURKEY PARDON, THROUGH THE YEARS (Washington Post) -- The annual event might be one of the strangest White House holiday traditions.

Science vs. industry: Climate Change battle rages in Congress

When all else fails, use intimidation and coercion:

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and demanded that they turn over internal e-mails related to their research. Their findings contradicted earlier work showing that global warming had paused, and Smith, a climate change skeptic, has accused them of altering global temperature data and rushing to publish their research in the June issue of the journal Science.

On Tuesday, seven scientific organizations representing hundreds of thousands of scientists sent an unsparing letter to Smith, warning that his efforts are “establishing a practice of inquests” that will have a chilling effect.

This is standard operating procedure for these ignorant bullies. They don't want these e-mails for scientific purposes, they just want to parse the communications for any little nugget they can take out-of-context to create a nefarious conspiracy. But this is not just a "partisan" issue; the not-so-invisible hand of the fossil fuel industry is pulling Lamar Smith's strings:

Wednesday News: ¿Que demonios? edition


LIBRE, BACKED BY KOCH BROTHERS, AIMS TO RAISE GOP STANDING WITH HISPANICS (New York Times) -- Tapping some Democratic strategies, the Libre Initiative seeks to win over Hispanics by promoting economic freedom and smaller-government principles.

A must-read explanation of "distributed" power systems

The way of the future:

A distributed system, increasingly powered by renewable sources that are often at the site of the business or home. Efficient sensor-enabled appliances, controlled by communication technologies, would be linked to a grid coordinating a complex network of energy producers and users. In this scenario, the end user is increasingly in control of their own energy supply and demand. As networks of these new energy consumers grow, they will link together in micro-grids that allow autonomy from centralized providers.

I sort of jumped into the middle of the discussion with that quote, so you should go read the whole thing. We've already developed parts of this (new) approach with the proliferation of Solar farms, but many more need to be built, with an eye towards local needs. That includes smaller systems that provide power for 1-3 homes. And yes, that last part about "autonomy" will definitely be opposed by Duke Energy and their cohorts, but their business model is going to change, whether they like it or not. Another *huge* advantage of distributing energy generation is to curtail "lost" power. I don't have the stats in front of me, but even the newest long-distance transmission lines lose (waste) somewhere north of 17% of generated power before it can be used. That's right, one sixth of the toxins and carbon we're pumping into the air return *zero* benefits in power. If left to their own devices, Duke Energy will continue their "macro" approach to energy supply, so this battle is going to be a tough one. But it must be fought.

Tuesday News: "Wedge this" edition


DESPITE MCCRORY'S REQUEST, COOPER WON'T JOIN VIRGINIA TRANSGENDER BATHROOM SUIT (WRAL-TV) -- Attorney General Roy Cooper has rejected a call by Gov. Pat McCrory to side with a Virginia school district against a discrimination lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that would allow a transgender high school student to use the men's bathroom.

An Open Letter to the Greenville City Council Regarding Syrian Refugees

When I first wrote this letter I didn't think it would get very far. It has been overwhelming to see 224 of my neighbors come out of the woodwork to endorse this idea. Two of Greenville's elections this year were decided by fewer people! Cities are where we must increasingly turn to in order to achieve progressive change. I hope that -- at the very least -- this will help to influence the debate in my neck of the woods. (Originally posted in The Greenville Guardian:


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