NCGA funds new environmental "Center" at UNC-CH

And its objectivity is already in question:

With $7 million in potential startup funds and $6 million in funding over the next four years, the project represents one of the state’s largest recent investments in environmental science. Although it didn’t make headlines during the legislative session, the size of the investment and UNC-Chapel Hill’s new role in developing state natural resource and environmental policy have drawn a lot of interest.

Tedder, who worked on water quality programs at what is now the Department of Environmental Quality, said the center could prove to be a positive development as long as researchers are able to maintain their independence. “I hope they don’t have to work under something where there’s a controlled message,” he said.

This Center already has two strikes against it, as far as I'm concerned. First, it won't be under an academic umbrella, it will be part of the "business and finance" structure of the University. And God only knows what types of private-sector partnerships would be deemed "beneficial" under that rubric. Second, the early front-runner for leadership of this new entity is the Bergermeister's very own Jeffrey Warren:

Wake County will use 2011 Commissioner and School Board maps

Chalk another one up for the good guys:

The new plans featured seven local districts and two regional districts that resemble a doughnut-shaped district ringing the rural areas of the county and a central blob centered on Raleigh. Many familiar with the maps and Wake County voting patterns said the plan would tilt control of both boards back toward the GOP.

"This is a victory for basic fairness," said Perry Woods, one of the individual plaintiffs who, along with the Raleigh Wake Citizens Association, brought the case that challenged the legislatively drawn districts. "Changing the rules in the middle of the game when you're losing is not the American way."

Good job, Perry. Also, kudos on taking back the word "American." ;)

Call to action: Attend Guilford County BoE meeting *today*

Opposing Republican voter suppression is a never-ending battle:

Despite the recent court ruling against voting restrictions, the Republican majority on the Guilford County Board of Elections wants to REDUCE the Early Voting plan from what the county offered in 2012. The Guilford County Board of Elections will meet on Monday, August 8, at 1 p.m. to adopt a revised Early Voting plan for the November 2016 General Election. Prompted by the ruling's expansion of Early Voting from 10 to 17 days, this meeting will determine your options to Early Vote and whether your county will face longer lines and more confusion on Election Day.

The Guilford County BOE will decide:
>>whether it will eliminate Sunday voting;
>>whether it will slash a half dozen sites inside the city of Greensboro; and
>>whether it will cut popular sites like Barber Park, UNC-Greensboro and NC A&T.

The two Republicans on this board need to be aware of the shitstorm that will result if they pull a stunt like this.

High levels of Uranium found in Wake County's water wells

And it appears officials have been actively concealing the problem:

According to the test results which the lab technician entered at her computer (Supplemental Figure 1), the backyard well which quenched the thirst of the family on Raleigh’s Stillmeadow Road contained more than ten times the maximum uranium level allowable under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

When Wake County officials reached out to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in 2014 seeking its help with this increasingly obvious threat, they were "advised" by DHHS officials to "consider the can of worms you’re opening up," according to a past county health official interviewed for this report on condition of anonymity.

That idiotic "can of worms" statement might as well have come directly out of Aldona Wos's mouth. Negligence by DHHS aside, the County should have informed not only those affected, but the general public, as well. And (of course) the Hometicks are right up in the middle of this cover-up:

Demagogues-R-Us: BergerMoore steps over the line

And the Bar Association has a responsibility to deal with it:

“Since today’s decision by three partisan Democrats ignores legal precedent, ignores the fact that other federal courts have used North Carolina’s law as a model, and ignores the fact that a majority of other states have similar protections in place, we can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democrat politicians like Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper to steal the election. We will obviously be appealing this politically motivated decision to the Supreme Court.”

Not only is this idiotic statement inflammatory as hell, publicly speculating that three judges could be attempting to facilitate a crime, based on nothing more than ad hominem party affiliation observations, appears to be a blatant violation of Rule 8.2 (hat-tip to commenter Paul Ditz):

Dismantled: SELC's comprehensive report on the GOP's horrific environmental record

Read it, bookmark it, and share it widely:

By 2013, the legislature had cut the budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (now the Department of Environmental Quality) by 40 percent, greatly diminishing its capacity to protect the state’s air, water, and land. In 2013, the new state administration even changed the mission of the agency to clarify that it is a “customer service” agency where science contains a “diversity of perspectives,” and employees were admonished not to be “obstacles of resistance” in carrying out their charge to protect the environment. With each passing week and each new policy, it becomes clearer that the customers the Department of Environmental Quality serves are the polluters, not the citizens of North Carolina.

The report gives a brief summary of all the advances in environmental stewardship that took place in the two decades leading up to the Republican takeover of state government, but what it cannot detail is the massive loss of institutional knowledge that 40% cut produced. Read the whole thing, there's a lot of information that can help a layperson understand all the challenges we face, and what needs to be done to mitigate those problems.

More on Ken Rudo's damning deposition

It's no wonder Duke Energy wanted this information sealed:

North Carolina’s top public health official acted unethically and possibly illegally by telling residents living near Duke Energy coal ash pits that their well water is safe to drink when it’s contaminated with a chemical known to cause cancer, a state toxicologist said in sworn testimony.

“The state health director’s job is to protect public health,” testified Rudo, who has been the state’s toxicologist for nearly 30 years. “And in this specific instance, the opposite occurred. He knowingly told people that their water was safe when we knew it wasn’t.”

Hoo, boy. This is one screwup by the McCrory administration that's not going away anytime soon. And the timeline involved is damning in itself:

Voting confusion caused by the GOP, not the courts

And the wasted time and money fall on their shoulders, as well:

Existing television spots to educate voters about North Carolina's voting requirements are being canceled. One million informational posters and push cards going to community groups and others are outdated and most likely headed for the trash. Binders carefully created as elections bibles for each of the state's 2,700 precincts now must undergo a heavy edit.

Election officials are scrambling to comply with the ruling, in effect returning to the voting rules as they existed before August 2013. Other federal court decisions this year siding against North Carolina had already made it more difficult for voters to navigate the elections process. Some voters told The Associated Press this week the confusion is likely to grow.

Yes, all of that is unfortunate, but there are two (important) things to remember: 1) We wouldn't be in this mess if Republicans hadn't attempted to entrench their power by disenfranchising groups of potential voters based on the color of their skin, and 2) Protecting the Constitutional rights of citizens is paramount, and easily eclipses any administrative difficulties that may result from that protection. I've also seen the Carolina Journal "speculating" that, due to this court ruling, individual county boards of election could actually severely reduce the hours and locations for early voting. Make no mistake, that is not an "academic" observation, it's an attempt by Pope's minions to advise those county boards and make that happen. If you know any of those "lone" Democrats sitting on county BoE's, make sure they don't join the other two R's in reducing those hours and locations. If the vote is not unanimous, it has to be approved by the State Board before being enacted. Let's not make it easy for them.


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