After dark


Expanding Early Voting in Orange County

Yesterday, I attended the Board of Elections meeting where they were to approve the early vote schedule for the fall. Though I knew there could be some others in attendance regarding an early vote site on campus (I was part of the informal committee looking for sites and suggested Carolina Hillel as a possibility, which was eventually approved). There were at least a dozen people in attendance speaking, as I did, in support of expanded hours on Saturday and adding Sunday as a voting day. While Orange County exceeded the number of hours required by law in the primary, I believe we should expand hours even more. Because of the response, the Board is delaying their decision next week.

Open thread


Josh Brannon to face Virginia Foxx in November

Don't write this race off yet, folks:

Josh Brannon breezed his way through a Democratic second primary on Tuesday, earning the right to go head-to-head with Republican U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx in the 5th Congressional District race this fall. Brannon will have an uphill battle this fall in the heavily Republican district. Foxx was first elected to the U.S. House in 2004 and has soared to a win every two years.

“We’re not going to be able to outspend her. That’s clear. So we’re just going to have to run a campaign that gets our message out in ways other than big media,” Brannon said.

He has campaigned on the theme of taking money out of politics.

Yes, we've heard this song before, but this guy is incredibly easy to like. We've been friends on Facebook for several weeks now, and I had no idea he was in a runoff race with another Democrat. Think about that, especially in light of the ugliness surrounding the Berger/Walker competition. Josh has been steadily campaigning against Foxx, and has developed some very powerful messaging. It's going to be a tough race, and the PACs may be a little shy of helping, but that doesn't mean you can't help #OUTFOXX:

Charter school in Charlotte lets students down before it opens

What happens when a charter school fails students before the school opens? You wind up with a lot of upset parents and kids, especially when the school was intended to serve 9th and 10th graders. High school is tough enough without finding out six weeks before school begins that your plans have changed.

From the Charlotte Observer:

Carolina STEM Academy, one of 11 Charlotte-area charter schools that had been approved to open in August, notified families this week that there aren’t enough students to make that happen.

“Unfortunately, we are disappointed to share the news that, due to enrollment and continuing difficulties with closing (on the facility), Carolina STEM will be unable to open this year,” a letter from the board of directors said.

The ridiculously simple solution to NC's Medicaid problem

Fire Wos.

It's abundantly clear that Queen Aldona is the problem.

Both Hise and Dollar also said that the Department of Health and Human Resources sorely needs experienced Medicaid officials to manage a complicated program that provides care to 1.7 million North Carolinians: the blind, disabled, elderly and poor children and their parents.

To which North Carolinians respond "DUH!"

Yet the thoroughly incompetent Aldona does just the opposite, surrounding herself with people who have no such experience. To top it off, she pays them ridiculously inflated fees using our taxpayer dollars [emphasis mine]

Coal Ash Wednesday: arrested legislative development

Making a mess of cleaning up a mess:

“The Senate bill was weak to begin with,” said Kemp Burdette, Riverkeeper with Cape Fear River Watch, “it got even weaker in the House.” The legislation, he said, still does not spell out how DENR and the new coal ash commission should evaluate the sites.

Burdette toured the ash ponds at Duke’s Chatham County plant at the other end of the Cape Fear River on Friday and said the ponds should have been on the high priority list from the outset. The site did make the list briefly, after a coalition of Democrats and Sandhills Republicans won a vote on an amendment to add it to the priority list. The win was later overturned after House leaders intervened. Burdette said given what he saw on Friday, taking the Cape Fear ponds off the list seemed wrong.

“It looks pretty bad,” he said. “There are multiple seeps. The ponds are leaking. All five of [the ponds’ dams] are ranked as high hazard and they are arguably the most dangerous in the state.”

Common sense and science don't stand a chance when politics intervenes.

The damage is already done

Despite the recent frenzy of budget negotiations around teacher pay, Republicans cannot recover from the damage they've done to public education in North Carolina. A quick story from my sister-in-law, who is in the process of moving to Brunswick County, tells the tale.

After spending all of their lives in Newport News, Virginia, she and my brother found a home near Wilmington, with a move-in date of August 1. Last week, they toured their new development to inspect the house and check-out the neighbors. They visited the fitness center, where they met another retiree, a school teacher. It didn't take long for the conversation to turn to family.

"I'm hoping my daughter will want to move down here, too," said my sister-in-law. "She's a public school teacher in Virginia."


Daily Dose

NC raising water standards; critics say not enough (AP) — After years of delays, North Carolina regulators are moving to strengthen state water-quality standards to include tougher limits on toxic metals like those at issue following the recent coal ash spill into the Dan River.

EPA says Dan River back to pre-coal ash spill quality (Danville Register Bee) -- Water quality in the Dan River has returned to “normal,” according to Myles Bartos of the Environmental Protection Agency.

UPSET! Walker beats Berger Jr. in bitter race for GOP nod (AP) — A harsh Republican Party fight for a shot at an open North Carolina congressional seat goes to Mark Walker.

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