Taxpayer-funded mediocrity: Virtual charters get thumbs-up

Despite their questionable performance in other states:

Both schools received unanimous endorsements from an interviewing committee that included representatives from the State Board of Education, its charter school advisory board, state education staff, and an outside evaluator. Some on the panel had to think hard about approving K12, and the company was asked to respond to questions about its performance in other states.

Tennessee’s education commissioner last year threatened to close Tennessee Virtual Academy, managed by K12, unless student performance showed significant improvement. Students in the Tennessee online charter had minimal learning growth. The board of trustees for the K12 school in Pennsylvania decided not to renew its management contract with the company, though it will continue to use its curriculum.

Where are the all-of-a-sudden-interested-in-education legislators who vehemently attacked the Common Core? Where's Lieutenant Dan? Taxpayer dollars going to fund an out-of-state education program, and a poor-performing one at that? Crickets. Proving it's not about the outcomes, it's about the method of delivery. And when that method generates private-sector profits for somebody, all other sins are forgiven

McCrory's meltdown

Pat McCrory really doesn't like anyone shattering his delusions. Where Pat lives, in Alternate Realityville, he is always right, he has high ethical standards and everyone loves him.

When the Associated Press pointed out that Pat got a nice payoff from the Lending Tree folks, and that he hadn't actually earned that payoff according to the standard rules, and that the didn't fully report the payoff on his ethics forms, and that he didn't actually resign fro the Lending Tree board until after he became governor, and that there were several irregularities associated with this transaction; and then reminded readers that all this was reminiscent of Pat's previous highly questionable behavior surrounding his Duke Energy stock holdings, Pat melted down. [And not just because attempts to describe all of Pat's vagaries result in an extreme run-on sentence :-) ].

The day after a wire service reported that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory received a six-figure stock payout from an online mortgage broker that is regulated by the state, the governor’s emphatic reaction to the story nearly eclipsed the news itself.

The fracking farce: rules approved

Not that it's a surprise to anyone, but the NC Mining & Energy Commission ignored the advice of legal counsel and rammed through a bad set of fracking rules to meet a stupid, arbitrary deadline.

North Carolina’s proposed fracking safety standards sailed through a rules review Wednesday despite a staff attorney’s warning that several rules failed to meet state standards and should be put out for public hearing.

N. Carolina: the 'N' is for "NRA"

New York set to ban fracking statewide

Cue the new GOP majority in the US Senate to outlaw the outlawing of fracking. Film at eleven.

Coal Ash Wednesday: "It's out of our hands."

Duke energy will no longer be responsible for ash dumped in Lee and Chatham Counties:

In most cases, the landowner would be legally liable for such damages. But the owner of the abandoned brick mine is not Duke Energy; it's Green Meadow LLC, a new corporation led by the president of Charah Inc., a Kentucky ash disposal company contracting with Duke on the coal ash project.

Once Charah takes possession of the ash, Duke may not be responsible for the waste, legal experts say, a contingency that may be part of Duke's private contract with Charah. And if Green Meadow or Charah does not have the money to pay damages emanating from a lawsuit, then county governments and the state—not Duke Energy—may be ultimately forced to pay, legal experts say.

This won't be the first time Duke Energy has absolved itself of the responsibility for it's toxic coal ash, but it should be the last. Even the "business-friendly" GOP-led Legislature should recognize that dumping the cost onto taxpayers is wrong. Then again, they haven't shown much compassion for the 99% since they've been at the wheel, so I don't hold out much hope they'll take steps to stop this shifting of responsibility.

Daily Dose: Dallas-embarrasses-even-his-mother edition

BOYS WILL BE BOYS BUT MAMA’S THE BOSS
A Mother's Take on a Her Sons' Disagreement Plays Out on C-Span (New York Times) -- The Woodhouse brothers get a surprise caller to their joint appearance on C-Span: their mother. … Mrs. Woodhouse hoped that the brothers’ television bickering could help ease some tension before Christmas. “They’re both very passionate about what they believe in,” she said. “I hope that they can kind of get this out of their system today on your program.”

For McCrory, money does grow on a Tree

Ethical questions just keep piling up:

In the months after receiving his $171,071 payout of stock from Tree.com, McCrory appointed the state's banking director and a majority of the banking commissioners who regulate mortgage brokers. Some of Tree.com's payments to McCrory and Sanford weren't publicly disclosed until May 2014, when the company filed its 2013 year-end proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

McCrory declined requests for an interview. In a written statement, McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said the governor fully complied with state law and "continues to uphold high ethical standards."

From taking money from out-of-state gambling concerns to insider stock trading, McCrory's ethical lapses have become so numerous they can no longer be attributed to ignorance or incompetence. It's time for a special prosecutor to open an investigation, just like George Holding did when Mike Easley was called to the carpet.

Solving complicated problems

Sometimes, the solutions to big, honking problems involve taking simple actions that almost everyone can agree are a good idea. In the case of Social Security funding, raising the ceiling is a no-brainer. In the case of our mass-incarceration problem, ending the War on Drugs is also a no-brainer. Any management consultant anywhere (I'm looking at your Thom Tillis) would put these ideas on the table without hesitation unless he or she was a sold-out ideological whore (I'm still looking at you Thom Tillis).

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