Daily Dose

THE SPILL
N.C. voters want stronger actions from lawmakers on coal (Weekly Independent) -- A poll taken last week found that most North Carolina voters want lawmakers to do more to get Duke Energy to clean up its coal ash. Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh surveying group, found in a poll of 519 voters that more than 75 percent of North Carolinians don’t think the Legislature has made Duke Energy do enough to clean up coal ash pollution at the state’s 14 coal ash power plants. The view was consistent across party lines and the poll found that weak leadership on environmental issues was tied to low favorability numbers for Governor Pat McCrory and House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis. 31 percent and 39 percent of respondents said their impressions of McCrory and Tillis were “very unfavorable,” respectively, and 63 percent said Tillis's handling of remaining coal ash threats to the state's waterways make them view him less favorably.
http://www.indyweek.com/triangulator/archives/2014/07/28/nc-voters-want-...

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John Skvarla uses DENR to line his own pockets

What good is being Secretary of Destroying the Environment if you can't use your position to advance your own interests?

In just five months this winter, the McCrory administration rewrote those [river and stream buffer] rules with the help of private companies that had a financial stake in the outcome – including the company where state Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla once worked.

Yes, five years in the making, river and stream buffer rules were protecting our water quality. John Skvarla and DAG McCrony weren't about to stand for that. So they got a group of 7 people together and rewrote the rules in secret. In case you were wondering whether the 7 people consisted entirely of environmental exploitation profiteers and industry-biased government employees, the answer is (SURPRISE!) yes.

Art Pope continues his "community service"

Southeast Raleigh has lacked a good supermarket for quite some time, since a Kroger store closed more than a year and a half ago.

Southeast Raleigh is recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a "food desert," an urban area where the poverty rate is at least 20 percent and at least 33 percent of residents have limited access to a supermarket or large grocery store. After the Kroger store closed, residents had to trek several miles – sometimes on foot, sometimes taking various buses – to get to the nearest supermarket.

Art Pope to the rescue!

Art Pope’s Variety Wholesalers has purchased the vacant Kroger store in Southeast Raleigh with plans to establish the company’s first standalone grocery in an area that badly needs one.

How much did Pat McCrory bribe a company to bubble-wrap in Charlotte?

That would be $36 million of your hard-earned tax dollars, North Carolina. Thanks for nothing, Pat.

Amendment done - 4th circuit rules in favor of marriage equality

From CNN:

The 4th Circuit opinion also will affect marriage laws in other states within its jurisdiction, including West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Only Maryland has legalized same-sex marriage.

Though I believe the opinion is stayed until the Supreme Court likely weighs in next year, this is a precedent that spells an end to amendment one. It didn't even take 20 years. Join Equality NC's celebration at Motorco in Durham at 6:30pm!

Will Pat McCrory veto the budget bill?

Duelling narratives on the plight of Pungo Hospital

The difference between "profitable" and "for the public good":

Instead, O’Neal welcomed the North Carolina NAACP to assist him in painting Vidant as a corporate bully more interested in huge profits than providing quick access to emergency care for the rural, mostly poor residents in and around Belhaven. That narrative simply is not supported by the political and economic realities that led to the closing of Pungo Hospital earlier this month.

The hospital has seen $5.7 million in operating losses since 2011. Federal grants designed to sustain health care services in poor, rural areas have been cut back. That, combined with North Carolina’s refusal to accept Medicaid expansion dollars, contributes largely to an unsustainable business model for a traditional hospital in Belhaven.

Proving that even though all your facts may be in order, you can still be wrong. The hospital was originally constructed to make sure low income folks could receive proper health care, regardless of whether or not said care would be profitable for whoever had the keys to the place. Vidant was well aware of the financial challenges when it purchased the hospital, and so were the people behind the sale:

Daily Dose

THE SPILL
Environmentalists: coal ash bill badly flawed (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- While proposed legislation would require Duke Energy to close ash ponds at its Asheville plant and three other facilities within five years, environmentalists contend the bill has serious flaws. The Southern Environmental Law Center and other groups outlined their concerns with the legislation pending in a conference committee in a letter to Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tom Tillis. The letter states that following the Feb. 2 spill from a Duke ash pond that coated 70 miles of the Dan River with toxic sludge, lawmakers promised a “robust solution” to coal ash pollution. “Instead, the current legislation inexplicably attempts to weaken our state’s existing groundwater protection laws in favor of Duke Energy while allowing Duke to continue polluting state waters and putting our communities at risk,” according to the letter.
http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/07/27/environmentalis...

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The next wave of charter school idiocy coming from ALEC

Opening the floodgates of taxpayer dollars:

(H) Transportation Funding
390
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:

A conversation with a friend

This week I had a conversation with a friend who owns an environmental services company. His company provides a range of environmental services, including spill response and cleanup under contract to DOT and DENR. Much of his costs are in payroll, and consumable materials like fuel and cleanup supplies. He also has disposal costs. My friend is also a strong Republican.

My friend complained to me that under the new regime in Raleigh, he is having trouble getting paid for his services. He has some invoices to state agencies that are approaching 180 days past due, with DENR telling him they don't have money to pay him for his services.

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