Budget sandbags the environment

While also kicking it in the groin and tossing it on The Rocks:

The provisions require the state Coastal Resources Commission to revise rules for sandbag walls on the beach to allow for protection of adjacent properties without a permit. The provision also loosens requirements that the barriers be installed only to protect a structure.

When the changes to the rules were introduced earlier in the session, opponents said the move could lead to nearly unlimited construction of sandbag walls.

Read the whole list, if you want an idea of what happens when you ignore science in favor of development scams.

Thursday News: Is them Federal dollars in your wallet?

Neo-Confederacy's "hidden hand" financier to rally battle flag wavers in N.C. Klan country (Daily Kos) -- North Carolina's grass-fed neo-Confederate movement appears to be struggling of late to find a way to continue to grow its base. In a new twist, it now appears to pin its hopes for further growth on attracting old-school white supremacists such as Ku Klux Klansmen to its cause, and has turned to an influential but little-known Republican Party operative for help. Chalk it up to the start of the school year, to a loss of novelty, or what-have-you. Still, the movement's organizers have signaled that they are not about to throw in the towel just yet; certainly not while a shadowy Republican political operative and potential sugardaddy - millionaire Beltway bandit and life-long Confederate sympathizer, Richard T. Hines - may be eyeing their movement as a potential weapon in the 2016 election cycle.

Greensboro suffering from a legacy of toxic waste mismanagement

Building a park and a school on tainted ground:

The recent trail begins in 2010 when a nearby apartment complex was sold. As part of the due diligence, a local environmental firm researched the history of the site. The firm interviewed a former Greensboro landfill supervisor who told investigators that a solid waste incinerator may have been operated by the city “in the vicinity of the Maplewood Cemetery.”

Kleinfelder Southeast found visible evidence of environmental debris— shards of glass, ash, molten metal—but their work didn’t involve extensive soil or water sampling. Their primary obstacle was the lack of information about the waste stream burned in the incinerator, which they deemed “an environmental concern.”

My friend Jeff did an excellent job of research for this article, and you likely won't find all this information gathered together anywhere else. It's a testament to how dangerous and long-lasting the threat can be from mishandled heavy metals and other toxins, and the desperate need for a solid investigative unit at DENR to follow trails like this:

Voter survey on education spending

Private schools and for-profit charters are not as popular as the GOP thinks:

• 75% agree public tax dollars should not be used to pay for exclusive private schools
(up from 73% in 2013).

• 73% agree public money should not go to private schools. If parents choose to send their
children to private schools, they should pay for it (up from 68% in 2013).

• 71% agree tax dollars should not go to for-profit companies who run charter schools that are
not accountable to taxpayers for delivering student outcomes in the same way local public
schools are.

This is what happens when elected officials pay attention to a small group of advocates who echo their own prejudices; they strike off on a Crusade that does not have the support of a super-majority of the people they are supposed to represent. It's also one of negative effects of gerrymandering, because their inevitable re-election leads them to falsely believe people actually support what they're doing.

Wednesday News: Budget attacks Planned Parenthood edition

State budget provision appears focused on Planned Parenthood (AP) -- Republicans at the North Carolina legislature again appear to be singling out Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood targeted in budget (WRAL-TV) -- Tucked into the 636 pages of the budget document unveiled late Monday is a provision targeting the state's largest abortion provider.

Op-Ed: Solar farms a way to ease economic struggles in rural NC

In which I preach from my digital soapbox:

One of the most difficult issues facing lawmakers and rural advocates is how to bring some level of prosperity back to areas that used to have textile mills and lucrative tobacco farms. Our consumer-based economy, which generates so much revenue in densely populated regions, fails miserably where populations aren’t so dense. And the very thing that makes these areas attractive to many who live there, the lack of bustling crowds and traffic jams, is the very thing that’s killing them.

I'm going to ask a favor of you dear readers. No, it's not money for some critical cause or organization (not this time, anyway), I just want you to click through and read the article. The N&O graciously published this piece in a timely fashion, and the number of reads or hits might encourage them publish more in the future. But here's a little more before you go:

Tuesday News: NC GOP "trust issues" edition


North Carolina GOP in hot water (Politico) -- TAR HEEL STATE PARTY TROUBLES -- The North Carolina Republican Party has a lot on the line in 2016 - a battleground state in a presidential yea, one of the tightest governor's races in the country, and an incumbent senator to protect. But GOP leaders and the state party Chairman Hasan Harnett are struggling with trust issues, or as one Republican familiar with these discussions put it: "[Harnett] will tell you one thing, and then two days later, he'll do a complete 180 on it." This summer, the party lost its executive director, and within weeks, lost its interim executive director, too. Without one, there is more chatter that the Republican National Committee might run its money through a county party, instead of the state, like former Sen. Kay Hagan did in 2014 when the state's Democratic Party was in turmoil.

GOP puts tax reform back in the Budget

And crams it down the throats of Legislators who haven't seen it yet:

“With the tax reform package within the budget, the Special Provisions will run to over 500 pages,” McGrady wrote on Facebook Sunday.

Senate leaders announced Monday morning that they’ll hold the first vote on Tuesday – meaning rank-and-file senators will have only one day to read a complex spending bill that spans 500 pages.

Really? You've been given an additional 2 1/2 months to dick around compose the Budget, but you're only giving duly elected representatives of the people less than 24 hours to study it before casting their votes? Just on principle alone that deserves a whole bunch of "Nay" votes and a Veto, but I'm sure the long knives are coming partially out of their scabbards to force Republican puppets to stay on their strings. What a frickin' circus.

Tim Moore: Speaker for Cleveland County

Driving back home with a trunk full of pork:

The speaker, a lawyer from the Cleveland County town of Kings Mountain, has slipped some nice items into the state budget now under consideration. There’s the grant for water and sewer infrastructure, to go to towns under 12,000 people. Kings Mountain has 10,000.

Then there’s the $200,000 grant for the American Legion World Series, which has an annual baseball tournament in the Cleveland County seat of Shelby. The region has a long and grand history with American Legion baseball.

He's not just a lawyer "from" Cleveland County, he is the lawyer for Cleveland County. On the payroll, with an employment contract shielded from public scrutiny via personnel records confidentiality rules, or some such nonsense. Why do I say it's nonsense? Because he's currently the most powerful lawmaker in the NC House of Representatives, and we need to know if his County contract encourages him to wield undue influence in his State government position. It ain't rocket science, it's Ethics 101. And he appears to be failing miserably.


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