Short-changing NC's environment in the Short Session

From the good folks at NC Policywatch:

[Updated: The Senate adopted the conference committee report as its first act this morning]. As state lawmakers prepare to gather this morning for what could be the final day of the 2013-14 General Assembly, it should come as no surprise that one of the final acts is likely to be the enactment of a polluter “wish list” that was crafted mostly out of public view.

According to environmental protection advocates who finally got a chance to begin reviewing the last minute conference committee report that emerged to Senate Bill 734 last night, the legislation contains at least a dozen gifts to industry. Many of the changes are technical, wonky and even minor on their own, but make no mistake, the cumulative effect will be to weaken environmental protection, hasten the development of more open land and wetlands and further imperil our increasingly fragile environment.

You're right, I'm not surprised. Republicans are no longer even attempting to appear as if they're acting in the public's interest, they're just going for broke. That's not confidence in the legislation they're cramming down our throats, it's confidence in their gerrymandered safety.

Daily dose: whine with that sleaze


McCrory: 'We Haven't Broken Any Rules' (WUNC-FM) – Gov. Pat McCrory is responding to charges that he misstated when he sold his stock in Duke Energy. McCrory worked for the company for almost 30 years. Speaking to reporters after an education conference held by the North Carolina Chamber, the Governor faced a series of questions about when he sold the Duke stock that was part of his 401k. "We haven’t broken any rules or ethics violations or anything," McCrory said. "And I was very transparent that I did own it. I was 29 years, and I’m proud of that experience and I had a 401k retirement account, like many of you may have had, or still have.”

As ethics scandal erupts, Carolina Rising launches $1.5M NC pro-McCrory ad blitz (AP) — A group promoting policies implemented by North Carolina Republicans is running a television ad before most public schools open to praise Gov. Pat McCrory and House Speaker Thom Tillis – GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate -- for education legislation.


More on McCrory and Duke Energy

Received via email:

You recall that McCrory refused to disclose anything about his sources of income or release his tax returns.

In the continuing dialogue, what is he now saying about Duke Energy stock? That he owns some in a 401(k) plan as a separate asset? Or does he participate in the Duke Retirement Savings Program?

Either way, any decision of his regarding a matter that financially impacts Duke common stock has a material impact on McCrory’s economic well-being (given that his financial disclosure statement shows his 401(k) is his only significant asset).

From the Duke 401(k) plan:

Dallas Woodhouse's stealth Tillis US Senate campaign ad

Which is really not that stealthy:

The question you should be asking, Tim, is where did Dallas get the $1.5 million to run this commercial?

Pat McCrory: I didn't know I did it until I didn't know that I didn't know I did it.

He came into office with such promise. Even some Democrats, who should have known better, crossed the aisle to support him. People took him at his word. When he said, "None" in response to a debate question about signing further restrictions on abortion, women and progressives breathed a sigh of relief. Surely he meant what he said, right?

Wrong. In retrospect, we have all come to understand that McCrory's answer to the abortion question was a calculated lie, the first of countless mistakes in judgement that would define him as irrelevant, confused, unethical, and above all, dishonest. That's a potent combination of weaknesses, and it shows no signs of letting up.

NCGA Republicans subverting judiciary to suit their desires

If it won't bend to your will, break it:

Without a doubt, these rulings have irked conservative lawmakers. But instead of examining the constitutionality of their policies, or allowing more amendments and debate, Republicans in the General Assembly have now fundamentally altered the court system to protect themselves.

This year's state budget contained a provision, added just the week before Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law on Aug. 7, requiring a three-judge panel to rule on any constitutional challenge to state law. North Carolina is now the only state with such a judicial system. The new system not only helps shield state law from challenges, but also puts more power in the hand of an increasingly partisan and politicized judiciary.

You better believe, if it was Democrats pulling this tyrannical stunt, JLF and Civitas would be stirring up the snake-flag-waving peasantry into a frothing-at-the-mouth display of outrage and barely-contained violence. But since it's Republicans doing it? Crickets.

Daily dose: You can't believe anything Tillis and McCrory say. Not one damn word.

LAWYER’S ROLE? McCrory ‘misstated’ Duke holdings, sold stock after coal-ash spill (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The governor’s previous disclosures had not revealed that he owned Duke stock at the end of 2013. McCrory’s lawyer, Bob Stephens, says the content of the form was his mistake.

Conflict of interest statements for NC officials now online (WRAL-TV) -- A new website launched quietly last month by the State Ethics Commission allows users to look up state officials' potential conflicts of interest.

NC education budget change worries some districts (AP) — The General Assembly removed a requirement in North Carolina law that said the recipe to build the two-year state budget begins with projected public school enrollment among its first ingredients.


The new SBI

One of the many non-budget items added to the "budget update" during the short session was to move the State Bureau of Investigation from the Department of Justice, overseen by the elected Attorney General, to the Department of Public Safety, overseen by someone appointed by the Governor.

To be sure, this had nothing to do with the budget; it has to do with petty politics, namely, punishing the current Attorney General, Roy Cooper.

[State senator and former deputy AG Josh] Stein said the move doesn't save any money and no one at either agency asked for it. Police chiefs and sheriffs don't like it, either, he said.

This is a bad idea for lots of reasons, notably the very real potential for conflict of interest (anyone remember Watergate?) and opportunities to conveniently overlook wrongdoing in the governor's administration.

Teaching without textbooks

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