Daily dose: Part-time Tata strikes again edition

NC Transportation Secretary blasts Iran talks (Raleigh News & Observer) -- N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata, who recently faced criticism for taking to the book tour trail outside of the state while North Carolina was facing major snow and ice storms, is back on national TV – this time Fox News -- criticizing President Barack Obama’s nuclear talks with Iran. Tata, who’s become a regular commentator on Sean Hannity’s show, said he doesn’t think the United States should be in negotiations with Iran. When Perry Woods – who’s worked on campaigns for Raleigh city councilors and Wake County school board members offered up an opinion and told him to “focus on your day job,” Tata, who has benefitted from a series of GOP political appointments since retiring from the U.S. Army, called Woods a “radical left pol hack” who “hates freedom of speech.”

Stam the sham...or whatever you call it

Paul "Skip" Stam continues his war on the NC Education Lottery, but this time he's chosen to be completely incoherent in defending his latest bill.

“We said (to Senate leaders), ‘what are the parts that you did not object to, and we’ll put that in this bill,’” Stam said. “This was intended to sail through like a greased glove or whatever you call it.”

GOP overreach continues: Protecting out-of-control judges from the State Bar

Who said patronage was no longer in style:

Sen. Bill Cook, a three-term Republican legislator from Beaufort County, says he thinks Superior Court Judge Jerry Tillett shouldn’t have to risk losing his license to practice law because he was already sanctioned by the state Judicial Standards Commission.

The State Bar is basing its disciplinary case against the judge on the same issues that led to a sanction from the Judicial Standards Commission. The judge received a “public reprimand” two years ago for misuse of power in a dispute with the Kill Devil Hills police chief and the county’s district attorney.

Local politics can sometimes be messy, and there is more to this story than just an arrogant judge. But there is a limit to what behavior could/should be allowed behind the bench, unless we want to spiral even deeper into feudalism:

Daily dose: GOP fishing expedition version


GOP requests 14 years of records from Attorney General Roy (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In five detailed requests, one for each day of “Sunshine Week,” the N.C. Republican Party asked for every email, Twitter, Facebook post, and correspondence Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper and his senior staff sent or received in the past 14 years. It also asked for every Twitter and Facebook message, official appointment, expense report, official opinion and internal memo from the attorney general’s office since 2001. “We routinely get public records requests, including large ones, and consider fulfilling them to be a part of our jobs,” spokeswoman Noelle Talley said.

Protest petitions headed for the junk heap

Taking the power away from the people:

When property owners want to change the types of activities allowed on their land, they file for rezoning. In Vojta's example, Sheetz wanted to build a gas station on land that had been used for single-family homes. A protest petition allows neighbors of the property to slow down that process.

"I cannot think of a real reason why it should take more of a majority to pass a zoning change than for us to approve a constitutional amendment," Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, told the committee Thursday. If his bill were to pass, land use decisions would require a simple majority to pass, the same as tax increases and most other council decisions.

That's comparing apples and Orange Julius, Skip. The difference between a simple majority and a supermajority on a town/city council is one or two votes, whereas the Legislature the difference is a couple dozen votes. But since you bring that up, maybe you can explain why it (apparently) doesn't even require a majority of votes for some Republicans to declare if something passes or fails a vote:

Daily dose: Art Pope shrugged edition

Ayn Rand comes to U.N.C. (The New Yorker) -- Republican politics in North Carolina are characterized by a tight interweaving of elected officials with think tanks and advocacy groups. At the center of this network is Art Pope, who funds the Pope Center for Higher Education as well as several other conservative think tanks. Pope, a discount-store magnate, with his family reportedly gave almost a quarter of a million dollars in support of N.C. Republican candidates in the 2010 election; advocacy groups with close ties to Pope gave more than $2 million to those candidates. (Jane Mayer wrote about Pope’s political activism for the magazine in 2011.) After Pope’s family donated a reported $219.000 to Republican candidates and political groups in 2012, and his companies gave a reported $450,000, contributing to the party’s takeover of the governorship and the state legislature, Pope served as co-chair of Gov. Pat McCrory’s transition team and then as his budget director. Pope, who has served as a board member of Americans for Prosperity, is also a link between North Carolina’s Republican Party and leading national conservatives

The UNC Board of Goolsby?

There's apparently not enough fraud and misrepresentation on the BOG:

Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) nominated Goolsby for the position, according to the Senate Clerk's office.

Goolsby says he wants to make sure taxpayers get their money's worth from the UNC system by cutting wasteful spending. Goolsby says people deserve a huge return on investment from the UNC system.

Bolding mine. If the taxpayers were given a choice as to who would be safeguarding their investment in higher education, I doubt very seriously they would choose somebody who misled investors and has been barred from securities trading or advising for ten years:

Daily dose: By the numbers edition

# 6 – Percent population change, 2002-2012
# 4 – (+34%) Change in number of high school graduates (2003-2013)
# 10 – Total population
# 12 -- Total personal income
# 39 -- Per capita personal income
# 28 -- Per capita state and local spending for prisons
# 34 -- Per capita state and local government income
# 10 – Public school enrollment
# 10 – Number of high school graduates
# 11 – Total public school teachers
# 23 – Teachers per public school students
# 43 -- Average school teacher salary (2012-2013)
# 47 -- Average school teacher salary (2013-2014)
# 41 -- Public school per-student spending (2012-2013)
# 47 -- Public school per-student spending (2013-2014)
# 51 -- Percent change in average teacher salary (2003-2013)
Adjusting for inflation, thirty-four states saw real declines in average teacher salaries over 2003-04 to 2013-14. States with average salaries declining 6.5 percent or more: North Carolina (-17.4%)
SOURCE: Ranking the States

Running for Re-Election!

Serving on the Chapel Hill Town Council has been an enormous privilege. We’ve accomplished a lot over the past four years, but as residents remind me every day, there’s still a lot we can do to improve and strengthen our community.

That’s why I’m announcing the launch of my campaign for re-election to the Chapel Hill Town Council.


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