NC GOP

McCrory picks MBA to lead EMC

Not unlike asking your lawyer what that lump on your back is:

Gerard Carroll, a former senior vice president at National Gypsum in Charlotte, will replace Benne Hutson as chair of the Environmental Management Commission. The 15-member commission makes rules for North Carolina’s air and water resources. Hutson, a Charlotte lawyer, resigned in January. He cited the time demands of chairing the EMC.

Carroll, who is known as Jerry, worked at National Gypsum for more than 22 years. He’s an Air Force veteran who completed 222 combat missions in Vietnam and earned a masters of business administration from Harvard.

From a lawyer to a business administrator. Not sure if that's a step forward, backward, or simply a step off (the cliff). Whatever the case, neither are even remotely qualified to Chair the Environmental Management Commission. Unless they're planning some bombing sorties to degrade the capabilities of fecal bacteria swimming towards Raleigh. That being said, Caroll's promotion may not be just another random act of idiocy by McCrory. National Gypsum is a big player in the reuse of coal ash residuals, and their wallboard contains some of the nastiest elements of such:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Arsenic and hog waste choking the Neuse

The Riverkeeper details the damage:

Every hour of every day, the coal ash pits on the bank of the Neuse River are illegally leaking dangerous contamination into the surrounding ground and surface water. In fact, one of the criminal charges against Duke Energy was for “negligently” constructing one of these creek-like discharges that continues to flow into the Neuse from the ash pits at this dump. The Lee site has the highest levels of arsenic contamination of all Duke’s ash dumps in North Carolina.

But yet another continuous source of pollution looms on the banks and tributaries of the Neuse: industrial hog operations, most of which are controlled by foreign corporate interests. Over 500 of the 2,000 industrial hog factories in North Carolina call the Neuse River Basin home. The 10 million hogs that live in our state produce roughly as much waste as 100 million people.

Much like coal ash, hog waste contamination has been a huge problem for decades. We haven't done nearly enough to abate the problem, but it looks like the new "business-friendly" administration of Skvarla and McCrory has dropped the ball entirely:

Hager tries to pull a fast one, gets caught

And we can all breathe easier, for now anyway:

"Representative Hager’s amendment removes the only statutory requirement for the EMC to move forward with regulation of air pollution from natural gas development. It does so without any legislative committee review or opportunity for public debate," McCallie wrote. Had the amendment remained attached to the bill, the state Senate could have sent the measure to the governor without a public hearing or committee examination.

"I really don't believe this amendment ought to be part of this bill," Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, said of the measure. Hager shot back, saying, "Don't fool yourself ... this is about folks who don't like energy exploration."

Nice try, sport. Now put that ad hominem club back in the bag, and go home and lick your wounds.

Coastal Republicans fighting offshore wind

Unless they can get paid nicely for it, that is:

The Brunswick County Commissioners said they still need more information before they can take any formal stance on the topic, but the board unanimously voted at its regular meeting Feb. 16 to send a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management opposing wind turbines off the North Carolina coast until its concerns have been adequately addressed.

One of the biggest concerns from the board was how the beach towns would benefit financially, if at all, from offshore wind farms.

And in answer to the question that just surfaced in your mind, no, they don't have all these same concerns and demands about offshore drilling as they do with renewable wind energy:

Republican efforts to suppress Gene Nichol backfired

Bouncing back stronger than before

On an otherwise dark day for the University of North Carolina, I am happy to announce that, in response to the censorship efforts of the Board of Governors, an impressive array of foundations and private donors has stepped forward to assure that the work of the center, if not the center itself, will continue and markedly expand. Generous grants and donations will allow for the creation of a North Carolina poverty research fund at the law school to support our efforts to describe, document and combat the wrenching challenges of Tar Heel poverty.

The fund will allow us to hire student, faculty and post-doctorate scholars to assist me in probing the causes of, and solutions to, economic injustice. We will carry forward the work of the center within the halls of the university, but with greater flexibility and increased resources. North Carolinians are not easily cowered. They react poorly to petty tyrants. They always have. If the Board of Governors moves to block the creation of such a research fund – a turn that is not unlikely – I will be eager to join them in federal court.

This should serve as another "learning experience" for Republicans, but I doubt they're clever enough to understand it. The capricious use of government power to stifle the voice of an individual or group will always generate a backlash. Call it the "underdog effect" if you like, or even the double underdog effect (going after Professor Nichol and those who are suffering from poverty), but we as a society abhor such behavior in our leaders. Yes, there may be some Conservative pundits and anti-intellectuals who favor this, but they are a distinct minority. What goes around comes around.

Stam persists with his fuzzy math on state revenues

"Everything is just fine," said the Captain of the Titanic:

Regarding the Charlotte Observer column “A shortfall of candor” that you reprinted Feb. x: Taylor Batten confuses “revenue” with “budget” There is a $271 million “shortfall” from the 2014 prophecies about the 2014-2015 budget. The budget itself contains explicit language that the governor shall reduce expenditures to not exceed actual revenue. North Carolina does not print money or borrow for current expenses.

The “cautious, conservative consensus forecast” for the General Fund is $20,730,100,000. This is $586,400,000 more than collected in fiscal year 2013-14. That is a 2.9 percent increase, not a decrease. For that same time period, inflation plus population growth is estimated by our nonpartisan professional fiscal staff between 2.8 percent and 3 percent.

Dude, inflation and population growth might have some bearing when you're comparing budgets and revenues separated by 5-10 years or more, but were talking this year vs last year. And last year you had $20,954,461,349 to play with, before you socked away some $300 million for use this year. And according to the Governor's projections from just last year, you should have had $21,090,914,663 to play with this year, and that was already factoring in over $500 million in reduced tax collections. The bottom line? How in the hell are we supposed to figure out the bottom line when you play 3 Card Monty with the money every year? But it appears that $271 million shortfall is really over twice as much, well past the catastrophic point.

FCC smacks down NC Legislature's bullying of cities

Thanks to the guts and determination of the City of Wilson, muni broadband is back on the menu:

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commissions voted 3-2 to override laws preventing Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C. from expanding the high-speed Internet service the cities already offer to some residents. The vote could embolden other cities that feel they have been underserved by traditional Internet providers, potentially undermining years of lobbying by the telecommunications industry.

The FCC's intervention in Wilson, N.C. is even more dramatic, overturning a range of state laws that the city says artificially limits competition. One provision in North Carolina law bars cities from charging prices that are lower than the private incumbents'. Another requires municipalities to gain public support for a city-run service through a special referendum before borrowing money to fund such efforts. A third effectively prohibits cities from building in "unserved areas," according to Wilson's petition.

Bolding mine. It's becoming almost impossible to keep up with all of the laws Republicans passed that have been blocked, overturned, or have come under serious scrutiny for Constitutionality. Any sane person would realize they were heading in the wrong direction with these facts staring them in the face, but the GOP is notorious for creating conspiracies of strawmen to explain their failures and poor judgment. They're going to have to raise taxes just to pay their legal fees for defending all their mistakes.

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