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
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/new-politics-at-the-university-of-north-carolina?intcid=mod-...

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

WHERE DOES N.C. RANK?
# 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.

The GOP's big-government free-for-all continues

Trinity's City Council on the chopping block:

Another bill has been filed in the General Assembly to restructure a local city council. State Rep. Pat Hurley (R-Randolph) filed a bill Tuesday that would shrink the size of the Trinity City Council, add an at-large member and reduce the length of council member terms to two years.

Councilman Chester Ayers, whose seat would be eliminated if the bill becomes law, said the council has had to make some tough decisions to cut spending, but he doesn’t see a community uproar about it. He said if residents don’t like his leadership, they can run against him in the fall. “This is a gripe of one or two people because they are not getting their way,” Ayers said. “It’s like any other town. Are you going to change our whole council because a couple of citizens — maybe one or two — are just not happy with the way things go?”

The short answer is, "yes." In the minds of Republicans, a handful of people is enough to warrant changes that affect all people. And the more the General Assembly meddles in the affairs of local governments, the more of these little local tyrants will pop up to exact revenge on local politicians who don't bow to their every desire.

I capitulate

For at least a year now, I have flirted with the notion of complete surrender to North Carolina's Republican juggernaut. Observing that most of my fellow citizens seem oblivious to the growing danger of right-wing extremism, I have imagined that our state would need to become truly horrific before most folk would notice and act. Today, there is more than ample evidence that we are in free fall.

Daily dose: Stuck between a landscaped rock and a hard drive edition

SEANC whistleblowers allege hard drive, files destroyed at agency (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Betty Jones and Art Anthony unloaded a few more allegations about financial activity at the State Employees Association of North Carolina. The two state employees who blew the whistle on financial improprieties at SEANC want the organization and its leaders to apologize for their attacks on the whistleblowers.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article15107591.html

Duke's Outsourced Coal Ash Lies Hit Lee County

Duke Outsourcing Its Coal Ash Lies

Duke Energy’s coal ash problem has hit another snag this week. According to The Rant, Charah, Inc. (the company Duke has contracted to handle its coal ash) lied on its permit requests with the state twice.

First, Charah claimed the clay mine they would be using for the coal ash dump would be returned “to its original topography” and that the dumping would “take place outside of a 50-foot buffer zone from any wetlands.”

However, as Sanford’s Environmental Affairs Board found out last night, these are both not true. Charah will pile coal ash 50 to 60 feet higher than the original topography, and Charah has since “applied for four permits to mitigate damage to wetlands” that are supposed to be protected by the 50-foot buffer.

GOP assault on higher ed continues

When party affiliation trumps performance:

They got Tom Ross. Now, they are going after Scott Rawls.

Under the Dome noted that Rawls, President of the North Carolina Community College System, is interviewing for a job as head of a college in Northern Virginia. Regardless of what he says publicly, my guess is that he is being pushed out. Republicans are in the process of purging Democrats and Democratic appointees from all levels of government and Rawls came to power before they were in control.

Can't help but get the feeling these moves represent more than just partisan house-cleaning. If Republicans are planning to execute some massive, radical funding cuts, it's best to do so after replacing education leaders who would have been outspoken opponents of such. It's a sign of the crazy times we're living in that I hope it's just partisan hackery, and not something more devastating.

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