NC GOP

Keep Folwell's hands out of the Treasury

He's already done more than enough damage:

Perhaps Folwell’s most recent accomplishment is helping restore the state’s unemployment insurance reserve to more than $1 billion while leading the Division of Employment Security. The reserve was $2.5 billion in debt when Gov. Pat McCrory took office. It was even higher — $2.8 billion — at one point.

The bowling pin, he says, directly correlates with the effort required to reform a state agency. Just like reforming a state agency, Folwell says there’s never the same number of balls, employees or resources, as pins, targets or goals. “You’ve got to have clarity of thought,” Folwell said.

Yeah, I mean, no. If you hadn't tried to explain the bowling pin thing, I would have assumed it meant knocking over stuff (bureaucratic costs, whatever). But after that inventory of things hastily grabbed from various sports? I have no idea what the bowling pin means anymore. Juggling? Wrapping your hand around the neck of a little white dude? Whatever, it's not only the state's investment portfolio at stake in this election, there are home rule issues to consider as well:

GOP's newest attack on UNC System: 2 + 2 = 4

Forcing freshmen and sophomores into community colleges:

Speaking to a UNC Board of Governors committee, a key legislator hinted that a “guaranteed admission program” is ultimately intended to channel up to a quarter of the system’s undergraduates into community college.

He didn’t elaborate, except to say the attempt isn’t likely to come in this year’s session of the N.C. General Assembly. But such a move would almost certainly involve giving UNC campuses less of a per-student subsidy for freshmen and sophomores than for upperclassmen.

There are probably some (many?) reading this who think this might be a good idea. Heck, both of my UNC System graduate children took this route. But that transition from one institution to the next was far from easy, and ended up costing each of them an extra semester in the process. The General Assembly needs to keep its hands out of this situation, and let the students and their parents decide the best route for a degree. Aren't they the ones harping about "choice" anyway?

Propaganda over science: Van der Vaart a reliable industry puppet

Seismic testing for offshore drilling is far from harmless:

The National Science Foundation safely conducted a 2D seismic survey off the coast of North Carolina last fall. Interestingly, this study did not receive the attention that the proposed studies have generated, despite the fact that they used the same technology that is proposed for oil and gas seismic data collection. The N.C. Divisions of Coastal Management and Marine Fisheries did not receive any reports of disturbances or injury to marine wildlife and are unaware of any adverse impacts resulting from those surveying activities.

That is consistent with observations made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in May 2015, which found no evidence that serious injury, death or stranding by marine mammals can occur from exposure to air gun pulses, even in the case of large air gun arrays. Sadly, some political groups masquerading as environmental organizations have chosen to ignore these realities.

Bolding mine. Not only is that an asinine statement, it's ironic as hell coming from a political appointee who has attacked Roy Cooper for not opposing the EPA's Clean Power Plan. Van der Vaart is proving to be even more of a demagogue than his predecessor, and that's saying a helluva lot. I don't need to tell you that, but I do need to throw some actual science into the discussion. Due to their environment, ocean fauna rely on sound more than any other sense to survive and procreate:

Utilities Commission rules stifle public input on new Duke facility

Your layman's point of view is not wanted:

Speakers will have to be sworn in. Although that’s not unheard of at some local-government meetings in which a commission, board or council must vote to open a quasi-judicial proceeding, the implications of it for the Utilities Commission hearing could be different. Testimony under oath is expected to be truthful. Unlike many local boards, testimony to the utility commission would be subject to cross-examination. A person who testified about anything other than their own opinions should be prepared to have their factual claims challenged during cross-examination.

Being placed under oath begs the question of consequences for untruthful testimony. While there’s no precedent for charging someone with offering false testimony at a hearing of this type, in theory someone who swore to tell the truth and then knowingly bore false witness could face prosecution for perjury.

While I understand the need for quasi-judicial proceedings in many cases, the Utilities Commission should not be so insulated. They allow only one voice (Executive Director of the Public Staff) to represent the people, and that representation is already filtered and edited by the time it reaches the ears of the NCUC. They're operating in a safe little bubble, and that is not conducive to public service. And that public deserves the right to speak, without the aura of legal consequences if some of their words can be disputed as "false testimony."

GOP union-busting on steroids

There's more than one way to skin a teacher's association:

The notice, sent today, came in response to a Dec. 1 letter by Sen. Ralph Hise which questioned whether the North Carolina Association of Educators was eligible for the due deduction service. NCAE had declined to cooperate with a state auditor's report earlier in 2015.

The teacher's group has tangled with lawmakers since Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2011. It has been critical of the GOP-lead legislature's funding for schools and backed Democratic candidates for office. In 2012, lawmakers returned the favor by holding an unprecedented midnight session to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of a bill that would have stopped the state from collecting NCAE dues. The group went to court and won, keeping the right over lawmakers' objections.

Divide and conquer, that's all this is about. Tear down NCAE, and you tear down the ability of teachers to collectively bargain, stand up for each other in numbers large enough to matter, and a whole host of other supportive activities. Bullies hate solidarity, because it neuters them. Which is just one more reason they shouldn't be "governing" our state.

Too many guns, not enough humanity

A sad but very familiar story:

Wake County deputies seized 46 firearms from an Apex home where a mother and daughter were shot to death, according to a search warrant released Tuesday.

Lemuel Gabriel Miller, 47, who also lived at the Humie Olive Road house, was later found dead in the 1400 block of Cooper Store Road in Harnett County of a self-inflicted gunshot, according to authorities.

Which of course is the epitome of narcissism, that if you're going to die, the women and children in your life must die as well. The man (however dead he may be) should be excoriated in public, there should be billboards showing his face and calling him a coward. If we did that regularly, maybe the aura of posthumous shame would deter future murder-suicides.

The Koch Brothers' insidious propaganda machine

Coming soon to a University near you:

The 900,000 state employees in the North Carolina pension fund might face a bleaker picture than they realize.

According to a research report published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the state’s main pension system faces a $34.5 billion shortfall, many times higher than what the state estimates through the Treasurer’s office.

Of course you won't see any of the following in the above article, because journalistic standards (in general) are in decline, and that goes triple for these "Biz" journals. But the Mercatus Center is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries. Not only does Charles Koch and at least two of his employees sit on the Board of Directors, Koch has donated close to ten million dollars to Mercatus to help him forward his various agendas:

Misplaced priorities in NC GOP's education spending

Cutting their way to systemic failure:

The benefit of last year’s economic recovery to our public schoolchildren was nowhere near what it could have been. Changes to the state’s tax code “shrunk the pie” and left significantly less money available. How much less? Reductions in corporate income taxes alone reduced available resources by $450 million this year and $700 million next year. Even modest changes would have made it possible to fund many of the worthy education priorities that were instead left on the cutting-room floor.

Had a prolonged discussion yesterday with a young, professional Wake County father, and when NC's amazing population growth came up (we added a million residents in less than ten years), that led to a discussion about education spending, investments in infrastructure, etc. This guy was pretty sharp, yet when I brought up the possibility of a Taxpayer Bill Of Rights being passed (or put on a ballot), he had no idea what I was talking about:

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