It was the spring of 2013, and lawmakers were busy drafting more than 1,700 bills, including a handful that had big implications for companies that manage homeowners associations and condominiums. At the same time, a group called Alliance for Better Communities, which is bankrolled by property management companies, gave four donations totaling $51,000 to a nonprofit closely tied to Republican state House leaders.
There's a lot more to this sordid tale, but (as is almost always the case) the people slinging money around were able to do so legally. Proving once again, there's often a huge difference between "legal" and "ethical."
On the Dan, determining the health of low-lying river creatures such as mussels, clams, crawfish and dragonflies will determine the health of the fish in the river, and later, the birds and animals that feed on those fish. The fear, said Brian Williams, also a Dan River Basin Association program manager, is that the entire food chain along the upper Dan could be imperiled by the presence of coal ash and its poisonous heavy metals. (The Dan River stretches some 200 miles; about 70 miles is affected by the spill.)
Already, though, Williams described the river bottom on the Dan a mile or two below the spill as a virtual “kill zone” for macroinvertebrates because of the amount of toxic sludge that’s settled. At the spill site, there is a coal ash bar some five feet thick and 75 feet long. Coal ash has been detected along the river bottom some 70 miles eastward downstream — all the way to the John Kerr Reservoir north of Raleigh.
Even those critters who survive this calamity will absorb toxins and heavy metals, which will form a bioaccumulation chain that will eventually make any fish pulled from the river or Kerr Lake inedible. Or, more precisely, fish that shouldn't be eaten. Humans are also subject to bioaccumulation.
Four other communities in the state also launched municipal broadband. Such enterprises irked big-time providers enough that, after years of lobbying and a million dollars in campaign cash, North Carolina in 2011 passed a cable industry-backed law that makes it nearly impossible for any other municipality to do the same. (Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink did not return requests for comment.)
Two weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it intends to take a close look at overruling such state laws, which restrict the ability of cities and towns to build their own broadband networks in 20 states across the country. The legal restrictions on municipal broadband are an “obvious candidate” for the agency’s scrutiny as it seeks to enhance competition, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.
It's about time somebody stepped in to defend the rights of cities and towns in this state. Republicans in the NCGA have shown nothing but contempt for these smaller governments, and have allowed private companies to dictate what should be decided by local voters. Bring it on.
Regulators have known about problems with Sutton's unlined ash pits for years, but never took enforcement action until August 16 — after the citizens groups tried to sue Duke. In its court filings, the state environmental agency said monitoring wells consistently showed high levels of arsenic, selenium, thallium and other potentially deadly chemicals. In October, the company agreed to pay at least $1.5 million of a $2.25 million Cape Fear Public Utility Authority project to run new water lines to Flemington.
The pollution poses no current health risk to the drinking wells, Duke spokesman Thomas Williams said in an email. But the company was involved in the project to "prevent that possibility."
"This will continue to assure a high quality water supply for these customers, give them peace of mind and provides additional economic development benefits for that area," Williams said.
Right, just like New Jersey is enjoying "economic development benefits" rebuilding homes that were destroyed by flooding. What about the $750,000 balance the taxpayers are footing for running these water lines, or the monthly water bills these residents are going to have to pay going down the road, because you f$%ked up their drinking water wells?
“We applaud Douglass Academy for giving all area students educational choices, options and opportunities they didn’t have before,” Paige Freeman, area field coordinator for Americans For Prosperity, told a small crowd. “Renovating and revitalizing this building is a gift to the downtown area…It is a true gift, especially to residents in the adjacent lower-income areas, and a true gift to the students.”
Unlike most charter schools, Douglass provides buses and lunches for the approximately 35 students enrolled there. Since charters do not receive state transportation or child nutrition funding, they are not required to offer either services. As guests toured the facility, the word “choice” echoed through the hallways.
Bolding mine. New Hanover County has some 40,000 children under the age of 18, meaning you would need over 1,000 "facilities" of this nature to accommodate all of them. Even just the 1st & 2nd Graders number in the thousands, so I really don't see how this 35 student school gives "all area students" an educational choice. But propaganda like that is what we've come to expect from AFP.
Joe Hauck was paid $310,000 in less than 11 months as a consultant to state Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos before returning in December to his job as an executive at a private company run by Wos' husband.
In response to public records requests filed in September by The Associated Press seeking all plans, proposals, documents, e-mails and any other work product authored by Hauck, the state agency has handed over a pair of memos totaling little more than three double-spaced pages.
The agency also provided spreadsheets detailing cuts made in state funding to such nonprofit charities as food banks and pre-Kindergarten programs that were reportedly developed at Hauck's direction.
Even if most of Hauck's contributions were verbal in nature, there would still be a paper trail (meeting announcements, minutes from such) providing a skeletal detail of work performed. And the inclusion of Food-Bank-cutting materials could simply be an effort to shift the blame for something (that should be) wildly unpopular. Whatever the case, the numbers don't add up to anything short of misappropriation of government funds.
But one environmental group warns that damage to marine life from seismic air guns probing for pockets of oil and gas would mean bigger losses for commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism and coastal recreation.
“Seismic airgun testing isn’t simply a method of surveying a coastal area for its energy potential,” Oceana said in a statement after the review was issued. “The blasts from seismic airguns are 100,000 times more intense than a jet plane engine and are emitted every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks and months at a time. “It’s disruptive, destructive, and directly threatens the survival of marine creatures like dolphins, whales, and turtles.”
It's doubtful these issues will raise concerns amongst the "drill baby drill" crowd, who have seldom acknowledged their responsibility for safeguarding the lesser creatures in the food chain. But the rest of us should be very concerned.
For days, she had been waiting on a monthly food stamp allotment that should have hit her account on Feb. 7. Every morning since, she called the number on the back of her Electronic Benefit Transfer card to check her balance. Now, with a crippling winter storm bearing down on the Triangle, those calls were getting more frantic.
That same morning, a few miles away, the head of the agency responsible for supervising the state's food stamp program was delivering good news to lawmakers.
As depressing as it might be, take the time to read the whole story. When commenting on politics, we often focus on numbers and statistics and such, but those things represent real people, with very real and often life-threatening situations. At the end of the day, they are why we must continue to fight against the regressive policies of the GOP.
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