NCGA

Esquire takes a swipe at Art Pope

And they don't pull any punches:

We have been somewhat remiss in this shebeen in our coverage of Art Pope, the A-ball Kochite who is the prime reason that the newly insane state of North Carolina has become newly insane. Governor Pat McCrory is the most conspicuous of Pope's various marionettes, which also include his pet state legislature as well as Thom Tillis, a brand-new member of the U.S. Senate. Spectacularly, McCrory appointed Pope his state budget director, which is tantamount to hiring Bernie Madoff as your Chancellor of the Exchequer. Now, though, it appears that Pope has a brand-new shiny object in his sights that he would like to break.

I consider myself somewhat gifted in the area of enhanced vocabulary, but I did have to look up the word "shebeen." Which didn't help all that much, as it is described as an "unlicensed drinking establishment" or an "after-hours speakeasy." I'm sure Greg Flynn would have known, but then he knows a lot of stuff I don't. The article also quotes our friend Bob Geary over at the Indy:

Cabal of bigotry: Secret meeting for proposed religious discrimination law

How do you know when you're doing something wrong? When you try to hide what you're doing:

The N.C. Values Coalition has invited state legislators to attend a briefing on “religious freedom” Wednesday afternoon as the General Assembly returns. The group’s executive director, Tami Fitzgerald, declined to provide further specifics on the topic of the meeting, scheduled for 4 p.m. at the N.C. Museum of History. She said the talk will be open to legislators only – reporters and the public won’t be allowed inside.

“It’s just about religious freedom in general,” she said. The group describes itself as an advocate of “pro-family” values, and says it is working to ensure that private business owners have the right to refuse service to customers on the basis of their religious faith.

Our Legislature should be continuing the decades-long battle of eradicating discrimination wherever it rears its ugly head, not crafting laws that will solidify it into statute. This bill, however it is written, should be ceremoniously burned when it reaches the floor of the NCGA, and Tami Fitzgerald should be unceremoniously escorted off the premises. It's the "people's" House, not "some of the people's" House.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Eden has a pep rally

Someone should tell these folks: Denial is a river in Egypt:

It's been nearly a year since thousands of tons of coal ash was dumped into the Dan River from a retired Duke Energy steam station. Since then, Eden officials have fought a public relations nightmare. On Tuesday, those same officials stood before members of the media and proclaimed, "Our rivers are thriving."

“The fishing is as good now as it was when I was a child,” says Scott Dalton, the owner of Mayodan Outdoor Sports. Dalton spoke at Tuesday’s news conference promoting the Dan River’s safety.

I don't doubt that last part. It wasn't until the late 1970's that the EPA really cracked down on industrial wastes flowing directly into rivers, so the Dan River is right now probably of a similar quality. And I don't fault the leaders of Eden for whistling past the graveyard, since a whole lot of people's livelihood is at stake. But every time they make this pitch, they're excusing Duke Energy for leaving over 90% of the spilled coal ash in the river.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

There's always one in every group:

Right, because giving the shaft to people who have already dedicated half their working years to a job and aren't likely to quit is such great management. Hopefully pursuing a Master's in English Literature will help this essayist better understand the definition of injustice. p.s. N&O, the word is "myopic."

NC's offshore wind energy moving forward

With some nudging from President Obama:

The North Carolina lease is part of the Obama Administration’s Smart from the Start offshore wind energy initiative, which aims at coordinating and streamlining development of designated Wind Energy Areas (WEAs).

The WEAs for North Carolina were designated last summer pending a final environmental assessment. For those of you keeping score at home, the total comes to more than 300,000 acres divided among three parcels: Kitty Hawk (122,405 acres), Wilmington West (51,595 acres), and Wilmington East (about 133,590 acres).

North Carolina is currently ranked #4 for new Solar PV installation, but we could (very easily) also be ranked #1 for offshore wind in the very near future. But we can expect some pushback from the fossil fuel industry, which has its hands way up the skirt of our General Assembly. Be ready to march. And when the doubters start turning up their noses, tell them this:

NC GOP stifling the legal rights of farmworkers

Once again, Gene Nichol goes to bat for the least among us:

The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee who introduced both the cuts and the creative reporting requirement is Brent Jackson of Autryville. He’s the Senate’s only farmer. The News & Observer reports: “Jackson Farming grows, packs, ships and brokers fruit and vegetables grown in this and several other states.” The Republican senator has “benefitted heavily from agribusiness financial contributions and has become their flag-bearer.”

And what, you might ask, does that have to do with Legal Aid of North Carolina? LANC runs a federally funded program called the “Farmworker Unit” – a statewide project committed to providing high quality civil legal services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers in North Carolina. The Farmworker Unit, according to its website, represents individual farmworkers, advising them of their rights and helping them get what the law requires. Shades of Cesar Chavez. Mystery solved.

North Carolina is becoming notorious for the mistreatment of farmworkers; from the all-too-common practice of using child labor, to the often brutal treatment of those workers who dare to even speak with labor organizers. But when you use the power of the government to forcibly obtain information to help wealthy private sector donors in their legal battles against those mistreated workers, you've really crossed the line:

Mitch Gillespie is afraid of heights

Turns down Asheville job, skulks back to Legislature:

Until this month, Mitch Gillespie had been an assistant secretary overseeing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' regulatory divisions. Newly appointed DENR Secretary Don van der Vaart had tapped him to become DENR's first "director of regional outreach" in the Asheville regional office.

Instead, he will move back to the legislature to serve as Moore's senior policy adviser for the environment, natural resources, energy and regulatory reform.

I usually defer to environmental orgs who directly interact with state government, when it comes to their opinions about individuals they have to deal with. But I have to disagree with their assessment of Gillespie. He might be congenial, but he has already done massive damage to state protections for the environment, from peeling back regulations to slashing the budget of DENR by 40+%. With friends like that...

GOP dictionary revision #437: "Religious Freedom" is now synonymous with "Discrimination."

First-class jerkwads want to recreate second-class citizens:

When Stam, a Wake County Republican, uttered the words “religious freedom,” he was referencing patently discriminatory legislation suggested in 2014 by N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger that would allow magistrates and other state employees to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses for religious reasons.

Organizations like Equality NC and our coalition partners will continue to fight any efforts like these. We want to protect not only the LGBT community but also North Carolina’s reputation as a place welcoming to all. When public servants can deny any North Carolinian service, that’s not religious freedom, that’s discrimination. This conversation, in fact, has nothing to do with religion.

In a sane world, we wouldn't have to worry about such patently un-Constitutional and bigoted ideas moving through the Legislative process on their way to being made into statute. But we don't live there. Republicans have a unique way of squirming out from under such legal and moral strictures, helped along by crafty language that draws attention away from those having their rights trampled upon. It's a disgusting habit, and we need to get together and have us an intervention. Unfortunately, November 2016 is the first available date for scheduling such.

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