NC Supreme Court "snatches" Hofmann Forest case from CoA

But it's doubtful they're coming to the rescue of said forest:

In a surprising move, the N.C. Supreme Court decided Friday that it will hear the long-running and controversial Hofmann Forest case before the state Court of Appeals rules on it. The Supreme Court “snatch” -- in the words of Ron Sutherland, one of the case’s lead plaintiffs -- is but the latest twist in a long-running saga full of them.

The second theory is that the Supreme Court, which has a majority of conservative judges, simply wanted to decide the case instead of letting a more unpredictable appeals court make the ruling, which was due any day. “We hope that this is not the reason,” Sutherland said. “It would be a rather blatant act. But it’s hard to say exactly what the motivation might have been. If it’s this second theory that’s right, all we can do is encourage people to vote for good, honest judges who will look at this case fairly and make what we think is the right decision.”

I can tell you with about 90% accuracy what the motivation was: If the Supremes waited for the CoA's decision, like they usually do, the scope of their approach to the case and subsequent actions (rulings) would have been limited/dictated by the CoA's opinions. By pre-empting the CoA, the higher court can argue based on a smaller set of legal principles and precedent. In other words, they don't want the input of the CoA, and that usually only happens when somebody has already made up their mind. The life expectancy of Hofmann Forest just got a lot shorter.

Daily dose: Charter school oops version

Oops, never mind: Why major university retracted report on charter schools (Washington Post) -- Tulane University released a report this month which said that high schools in charter-heavy New Orleans were “beating the odds” with test scores and graduation rates higher than expected for most students. The report got some attention in education circles because New Orleans is the poster city for charter schools. Furthermore, Tulane is a well-regarded research university so one could rightly assume that the research it publishes is sound. Not, apparently, always. In what one New Orleans newspaper called a “high-profile embarrassment,” Tulane effectively said, “Oops, never mind,” and retracted the report on charter schools that had been released just days earlier. What happened? The initial report, titled “Beating-the-Odds: Academic Performance and Vulnerable Student Populations in New Orleans Public High Schools and published by Tulane’s Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, was viewed as proof that charter schools in the city were achieving better than predicted results for high-needs students. … Not long after the report was posted on line, it was taken down. Why? According to The Times-Picyaune, top officials at the institute realized the research was bad. It quoted institute Executive Director John Ayers as saying, “Officials determined the report’s methodology was flawed, making its conclusions inaccurate. The report will not be reissued.” The institute plans to “thoroughly examine and strengthen its internal protocols” to ensure its future reports are accurate and have been appropriately reviewed, he said, adding, “We apologize for this mistake.” Ayers did not explain what the “mistake” actually was, the newspaper reported. But the controversial method that was used to come up with the predictions is known as VAM (value-added methodology), which purports to be able to take various data points, plug them into complicated formulas and “predict” performance.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Hundreds of NC drinking water wells at risk

And every one of them should be tested:

Duke Energy officials have identified 830 private and public drinking water supply wells near the company’s 32 coal ash storage ponds in North Carolina, according to an initial survey the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources released on Friday. Duke Energy conducted the survey to meet a requirement of the Coal Ash Management Act, which recently became state law.

DENR staff members are reviewing the surveys to determine which wells should be sampled first, and how frequently and how long sampling should continue. The determination will be completed based on the hydrologic potential for impacts to the drinking water wells. The sampling plan can be amended as additional information is gathered about the flow of groundwater and the extent of any detected contamination.

One of the best (only?) ways to determine the flow of groundwater is to test for the migration of specific elements, and the easiest way to do that is to, you know, test all the fricking wells. You can speculate about the flow by examining (what we believe) is the nature of the sub-strata, but computer models won't be much consolation to a family exposed to contamination.

Daily dose: McCrory declares war on France

’FREEDOM CIGS?’ McCrory blasts France for smoking crackdown (The Local .fr) -- France’s ambitious bid to cut smoking rates in the country has not been welcomed by the governor of the state of North Carolina, Pat McCrory. The Republican wrote an angry letter this week to Gérard Araud, the French ambassador to the US, to “formally oppose the project of his government”, Le Figaro reported on Wednesday. McCrory, who is in charge of America’s biggest tobacco producing state, has taken issue with Paris’s pledge to end branding on cigarette packages, a move that proved a success in cutting cigarette use in Australia. He then hints at possible reprisals against France from across the pond. "Imagine if the United States demanded standard packaging on alcoholic drinks. Noteworthy French companies would be outraged, and they would be right to be," McCrory wrote possible referring to the likes of LVMH, Pernod Ricard, Rémy Cointreau.

Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon headed to the Big House

Where he'll have basic cable but no premium or a la carte channels:

Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon was sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison Tuesday for his role in a bold bribery scheme in which he accepted a suitcase stuffed with cash in the mayor’s office, besmirching the city’s reputation for clean government.

Cannon, 47, was sentenced to 44 months by U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney at the federal courthouse in uptown Charlotte after a morning in which Cannon, who rose from the housing projects to the city’s highest post, admitted regret and asked for leniency.

This is a teaching moment for NC Democrats. Who apparently missed all the other teaching moments.

Daily dose: "Yes, students have Constitutional rights, too." edition

Judge orders Appalachian State early voting site (AP) — A North Carolina trial court judge said Monday that state election officials must retool Watauga County's early voting plan to include at least one center at Appalachian State University for later this month.

Wake Judge Orders Early Voting on ASU Campus (High Country Press) -- On Monday morning, Wake County Judge Donald Stephens ruled that the State Board of Elections (SBOE) must approve of an early-voting plan for Watauga County that includes a one-stop site on the campus of Appalachian State University for the general election in November, according to Bill Gilkeson of the law firm Bailey & Dixon. Gilkeson’s firm was hired by the Watauga County Voting Rights Task, an arm of the Watauga County Democratic Party and is representing local Democrat petitioners who filed a lawsuit against the Republican-led SBOE. Stephens ruled that the decision to deny a one-stop site on the college campus was “arbitrary and capricious “ and remanded the early-voting plan back to the SBOE and instructed the state board to include an early-voting site on the campus of ASU.


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