NC Sample Ballots NOW available on-line

Today the sample ballots for the November election have appeared.

One way to get one is to find your voter registration at
and then click on the link in the Sample Ballots box (under your information) that takes you to your ballot.

Remember: Deadline for Voter Registration is 10/10.

Duke Energy wearing two hats with nat gas pipeline

Playing both ends against the middle:

Duke Energy: owner and customer

Duke Energy will own its 40 percent share of the pipeline through the company’s Commercial Power business unit.

Separately, Duke Energy’s two North Carolina regulated utilities – Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress – will be customers of the pipeline, paying the pipeline’s owners to transport natural gas.

The transaction between Duke Energy’s commercial and regulated units will require North Carolina Utilities Commission approval, which Duke Energy will request this fall.

Since NC has reverted back to the unwise, unfair, and costly to consumers CWIP (Construction Work In Progress) program, the likelihood that Duke Energy will try to recoup their share of the construction costs of this pipeline via rate hikes is high. Whether they try to do that directly from the Commercial Power "business unit," or if said unit passes along the costs in what it charges the other Duke Energy entities, who will then seek the rate increases themselves, remains to be seen. But it bears watching. Closely.

Coal Ash Wednesday: on the NCGA's "amnesty" bill for Duke Energy

From the Southern Environmental Law Center:

Allowing coal ash to be left in unlined, leaking pits across North Carolina with documented groundwater contamination at each site is not a cleanup plan nor does it protect the people of North Carolina. Many sites across the country where coal ash has been covered up or "capped" in place continue to experience high levels of toxic pollution. Covering up coal ash and calling sites "closed" does not stop or clean up pollution.

As Duke Energy sought previously through its proposed sweetheart settlement deal with the state, the bill gives Duke Energy amnesty for its leaking coal ash dams. Rather than requiring Duke to fix its leaking dams, S 729 would let the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shield Duke by authorizing uncontrolled discharges of contaminated wastewater into our rivers and lakes. Granting this responsibility to an agency with a history of putting the interests of Duke Energy over the public is a prescription for failure.

Let's take a look at what's been going on in some of those other states:

Daily dose: Duh-bate edition

Tillis, Hagan to meet in first NC Senate debate (AP) — Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis are meeting for the first debate of their campaign stretch run, a key contest in the national battle for Senate control.

In advance of debate, Hagan takes aim at Tillis (Greensboro News & Record) -- Sen. Kay Hagan rallied with volunteers and supporters in Greensboro Tuesday night, on the eve of her first debate with challenger Thom Tillis.


A billion here, a billion there.

How much money is Thom Tillis prepared to spend to make his divide-and-conquer strategy work in North Carolina?

North Carolina taxpayers could spend more than $10 billion by 2022 to provide medical care for low-income residents of other states while getting nothing in return, a McClatchy Newspapers analysis shows.

Policy Watch has the story.

Charlotte police join the "bad cops" crowd

When cops come down on black people like this, they are playing with fire. Right here in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

When your political ad helps your opponent more than you:

Not sure Tillis has a non-ugly side, but he'd better find it soon or suffer the same consequences as Liddy Dole did with her "devil-worship" fiasco. Closely related:

Daily Dose: Debate week edition


Candidates WIll Likely "Play It Safe" in First Senate Debate (WFDD-FM) -- Caution may be the key word in the upcoming first debate between incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis. At this point, the race is too close to call, with most polls showing that it is a dead heat. Kenneth Fernandez directs polling at Elon University. He says he’s expecting the candidates to play it safe to avoid making gaffes that could make the rounds on social media and in political ads. “With the Internet and with the TV ads, that one kind of foot-in-the-mouth can be played over and over again,” he says. Fernandez says that unlike a national presidential debate, the effects of senate debates are harder to measure because so few people watch them. But with a race this close, there may be a chance for the candidates to gain some ground.

Banks reliable source of campaign cash for Hagan (McClatchy Newspapers) -- U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan has received $962,000 since 2008 from employees and political action committees of industries that are under the jurisdiction of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, where she has served for a large portion of her first term in Congress. The industries are some of the biggest sources of money for both Democrats and Republicans. Historically they’ve been particularly generous to members of the committee and its House of Representatives counterpart, the Financial Services Committee. An examination of the financial sector’s campaign contributions in this year’s highly competitive North Carolina Senate race, tallied and analyzed by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, shows that Hagan’s Republican opponent, Thom Tillis, also has collected large sums from some of the same industries. The sector’s political action committees, however, have given more to Hagan.


Jane's visit to Goldsboro

Had an unexpected treat earlier this week when I drove over to Goldsboro to meet some family friends who were vacationing in Emerald Isle. Goldsboro was half-way (about one and half hours) for both of us. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting to find much of interest for lunch in Goldsboro, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Downtown Goldsboro is just a mile off the NC 70 Bypass, some beautiful old Victorian homes on the way in. I parked on Center Street in front of a big ice cream cone. A delightful young woman, Yvonnia, the co-owner of The Ice Storm greeted me and served up the best locally-sourced sweet potato fries and fresh squeezed raspberry lemonade (in a biodegradable cup) I’ve ever tasted.

Yvonnia and her partner, who grew up in Goldsboro, have come to Goldsboro to put some local back in the downtown. They have two other Italian Ice stores in Queens and Brooklyn. Yvonnia recommended The Laughing Owl restaurant just one block further down Center Street. She said the Owl also served locally-grown food, good seafood, and the “best hamburger in the world.” Luckily, my friend Bert is not a vegetarian as I am, so he checked out that remarkable claim. When his wife, Joyce, asked for a bite, he gave her only the tiniest bit – “too good to share!”

On our way back to the cars we saw a wonderful display of African beaded necklaces, fans, baskets and hand-dyed clothes in another store, The Village Rising.


Report shows gaping holes in NC's skilled labor pool

But it doesn't come as a surprise to some of us:

State officials at the Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division compiled the survey after hearing similar stories from companies across the state. The problem is across the board — in small towns and large.

When the business was strong, so were training programs for machine technicians. Not anymore. “We’re not having trouble hearing from people who have been in the textile industry,” Durham said. “It’s more the higher-skilled technicians. These are just not turning up. We have people wanting those jobs, but they’re just not experienced.”

What a lot of these young managers don't understand: even back in the textile "boom" years, many of those machines were being fixed either by their operators or jack-leg mechanics, not highly-skilled technicians. In the absence of a union influence, job descriptions and requirements were (are) hazy at best, and the cheapest alternative was usually sought. But while we may not have exactly what an employer is looking for on an application, that doesn't mean the jobs can't be filled. It just means the employers need to do their own apprenticeships and promote from within.

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