Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

BUDGET AMENDMENT AIMED TO PUT BLACK SENATORS IN THEIR PLACE: Angered at some legislators’ efforts to amend their budget dictates, Sen. Brent Jackson, a hog farmer from Sampson County, and the Senate leadership shifted hundreds of thousands of dollars away from schools in poor areas of the state to non-education programs in areas largely represented by Republicans. It was a spiteful act aimed to put Democrats, particularly African-American senators, in their place. It strips $316,600 from early college high schools in Northampton and Washington counties and prohibits using state funds to support a summer science, math and technology program in the area. This action will, according to state Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram, shut the program down. There is no shading of the truth here. This astonishing act of unvarnished racism is more reminiscent of 1917 North Carolina than 2017! It was about punishing those uppity black legislators in the Senate because they stood up and opposed the Senate leadership’s budget.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-budget-amendment-aimed-to-put-black-senators-in-their-place/16710250/

Saturday News: Experience not necessary

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TREASURER DALE FOLWELL HIRES UNQUALIFIED DIRECTORS FOR STATE HEALTH PLAN: State Treasurer Dale Folwell has placed two officials with no previous experience in health insurance or health care into director-level positions with the State Health Plan and is seeking greater control over hiring and firing. Folwell defended the new hires, characterizing the health plan as broken and saying it sorely needed people with financial know-how rather than health plan experience to improve its finances and reduce costs. He said he had hired people with “integrity, ability and passion” who could implement the changes that are needed. The hirings and dismissals – including the hiring of a director who until recently was treasurer of the state Republican Party – raise questions about whether the Treasurer’s office is becoming politicized. Folwell says it’s not.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article151587352.html

Notes from the Commander-In-Chief

Yeah, nevermind the McCarthy hearings, or even the ludicrous Benghazi hearings; everything that happens to Trump is somehow "the greatest" success or injustice. As much as I hate to reproduce this idiot's rantings, studying psychosis is the only way to cure it:

Friday News: Privatization mayhem

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NC'S MANAGED CARE MENTAL HEALTH CEO RAKES IN HUGE UNAUTHORIZED SALARY: Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions had been under fire from legislators and the former head of the state Department of Health and Human Services for paying its CEO Richard Topping more than $635,000 in salary this year. He makes more than leaders of the six other regional mental health offices and more than state policy allows. The report from State Auditor Beth Wood’s office said Cardinal decided on Topping’s pay without getting required approvals from the state Human Resources office. That office established about $187,000 as the maximum salary for that job in 2010, according to the audit.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article151236432.html

Putting the pieces together in the #Russiagate puzzle

Exposing the clear intent to circumvent national security watchdogs:

Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said.

Bolding mine, because this isn't a fricking business partnership, it's the most powerful man in the world intentionally deceiving his own country's security officials. He doesn't get to decide which laws to follow and which ones to ignore, those national security rules and procedures were developed over decades, and many of them are in place due to Russian efforts to subvert our Republic. Trump couldn't pull a more inappropriate stunt if he tried.

Thursday News: Hunger Games, Chapter 7

HISE PROVISION IN BUDGET CUTS FOOD ASSISTANCE TO 51,236 CHILDREN: According to numbers released this week by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, 132,902 people across the state would lose food assistance if the change is in the final budget. Of those, 51,236 are age 18 or younger – and could therefore lose access to free and reduced-price school meals. Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement Wednesday criticizing the provision. “Senate Republicans quietly slipped a provision in their budget to cut 100 percent federally-funded food-stamps for 133,000 North Carolinians,” the Democrat said. “This food makes a real difference for families who need it and doesn’t cost North Carolina any state tax money. Lining the pockets of millionaires while going out of the way to make it harder for children to eat is just wrong.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article151063487.html

Fletcher Hartsell sentenced to 8 months in prison

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Considering it could have been 20 years, he got lucky:

A former North Carolina lawmaker accused of misusing more than $200,000 in campaign funds on vacations, speeding tickets, haircuts and other items was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to three charges in the case.

Former longtime state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, who represented Cabarrus and Union counties in the 36th Senate district, was sentenced at the end of a hearing that lasted more than an hour in a federal courtroom in Winston-Salem. Much of the hearing focused on arguments made on behalf of the 70-year-old Hartsell about how much time he would serve behind bars.

While I understand the desire for sympathy and clemency from the bench, I find it distasteful to contemplate that when taking a broader look at our criminal justice system. The parade of exonerated Death Row inmates, most of whom were forced to serve 2-3 decades (for crimes they didn't commit) before they were released, and the ugliness of mandatory minimums in the failed War on Drugs, which has sent countless young African-American men to prison for 15-20 years because they had a couple of rocks of crack in their pocket, makes this 8 month sentence seem like a gentle slap on the wrist in comparison. That's just my take, your mileage may vary.

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