NCGA

Apodaca the latest to traverse NC's unethical revolving door

Anticipating the pot of gold at the end of the unimpressive legislative career:

Powerful Senate Rules Chair Tom Apodaca announced his resignation from the Senate Friday morning but it wasn’t much of a surprise and he will likely be back in Raleigh soon enough. Rumors surfaced recently that Apodaca was interested in becoming a lobbyist and would resign this month so he’d be able to lobby his former colleagues when the 2017 session begins in January.

State law requires a six month cooling off period before legislators can register to lobby and it’s become more common for lawmakers interested in cashing in to resign halfway through the second year of their term so they can lobby in the next session.

One of the lesser-used definitions of "Corruption" deals with biological necrosis; decay and putrefaction. But it was also the etymological origin of the other, more common usages, because this behavior tends to spread throughout a political organism just like a biological one. Why are retired Legislators so successful at lobbying? Because many current Legislators are eyeing that as a future career option, and helping their former colleagues is an easy way to help themselves a few years down the road. As long as they are effective, those jobs will be waiting for others. This is the crux of the ethical conflict; the perpetuation of undue influence over public policy by private-sector players. And until that revolving door is locked, the cycle of corruption will continue.

McCrory's police cam language right out of Orwell

The Ministry of Truth would be impressed:

Not only did Gov. Pat McCrory sign a bill to block release of police body camera videos to the public, but he justified his decision with misleading doublespeak. “Governor McCrory signs legislation to promote transparency and safety for law enforcement and the public,” trumpets the headline of a news release his office distributed Monday afternoon.

“This legislation fulfills our commitment to protect our law enforcement and gain public trust by promoting uniformity, clarity and transparency,” McCrory said in the release.

When you feel the need to clarify a news story with "This is not the Onion," you just might be living in North Carolina. Sheesh.

"Vocational" high school being built in New Hanover County

What was that about government choosing winners and losers?

The local district announced last week the N.C. House of Representatives included a $1 million grant for the career-technical education (CTE) campus, which could begin welcoming students as early as August 2017. The money has been earmarked for planning and design phases of the project, according to a New Hanover County Schools spokeswoman. The oft-discussed CTE concept is one that has been particularly advocated and promoted by Rep. Ted Davis, a Republican who represents the county.

Shaped by local demand for skilled, workforce-ready employees, the CTE school will provide hands-on training in a variety of fields, including mechanics, construction, hospitality, food service and public safety. Enrolled students will also have the option of taking CFCC courses in their chosen career path while still in high school.

I'm tempted to use the word "Drones" when describing what Republicans are trying to produce with this detour from educational growth, but at least drones can fly. And while I do see the benefit of high schoolers at least contemplating what their career paths might be, the difference in maturity and outlook between a sophomore and a senior is such a huge transition, giving the former the ability to "lock" him- or her-self into a particular vocation seems less about freedom and more about taking advantage of the confusion of youth. If Republicans hadn't swept away registering 17 year-olds to vote, I might be less suspicious. But taken in context, their motives are highly suspect.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Federal court looking at CWA violations

coalashslurry.jpg

The process known as "capping in place" is on trial:

In the first federal Clean Water Act trial focusing on coal ash leaks, Judge James Gibney Jr. heard four days of arguments against Dominion Virginia Power, last month, about the risks ash pits in Virginia currently pose to ground and surface waters, such as the Elizabeth River. On June 24, he said he would rule after reviewing briefs from both sides.

During the June trial, one expert testified that the 3 million tons of coal ash at the Chesapeake Energy Center site contains 150 tons of arsenic, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented environmentalists, scientists, and experts testifying on behalf of the Sierra Club in the trial.

Reading the tea leaves on this case, I hold out little hope for a responsible decision. It appears the Judge is skeptical, and has bought into the industry's, "If you want us to clean up our mess, it will cost you" threat-cloaked-as-a-warning posture. The fact such economic blackmail is accepted as sound legal reasoning instead of the strong-arm coercion it is, simply boggles the mind. But that can't survive a thorough appellate review:

The education pirates: K-12 in deep trouble over California online charters

Purloining public education dollars, by hook or by crook:

A chain of 13 “nonprofit” online charter schools in California must pay the state attorney general an $8.5 million settlement for false advertising, misleading parents and inadequate instruction. An investigation by the San Jose Mercury News is credited with bringing many concerns about underperformance, misrepresentation of enrollment, and other issues to public view in a comprehensive way.

But, starting from the beginning, is the network really nonprofit as state law requires? California Virtual Academies (CAVA) is, according to an investigation, controlled by the for-profit, Virginia-based K12 Inc., which operates in 37 states and reported $651.4 million in revenue for the nine months ending in March of this year.

This is not a "stunning" revelation, it's more of the same evidence that's been piling up for the last 4-5 years. But that hasn't stopped the privatizers in Raleigh from moving forward with these fraudsters:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Governor "Transparency" buries video evidence:

All things considered, Pat would make a fine Trump VP pick. In a joint press conference, you'd be hard-pressed to keep an accurate score of all the lies.

Chasteen tries to walk back his efforts at book-banning

Telling lies is apparently now an accepted Christian practice:

Chasteen said he never wanted the book banned, but rather simply wanted an equal choice for students who didn’t want to read Allende’s novel.

“The fact is the community of parents requested a compromise, such as providing an option, a choice among books, without a student being removed from the classroom,” he wrote.

None of that is true. Chasteen worked both overtly and covertly to get the book removed completely from the reading list:

North Carolina's out-of-control CAFO problem

This little piggy killed a bunch of fish:

The map shows 4,100 lagoons holding hog waste and 3,900 chicken barns scattered across the state -- many of them in Bladen and Sampson counties, where the map almost bleeds pink from lagoon sites.

Brunswick and Pender counties have plenty of lagoons and hog farms, too. "Wet waste" output in Brunswick amounts to nearly 67 million gallons per year. In Pender, where 2.6 million chickens live, the figures are 298 million gallons of wet waste annually and 28,000 tons of dry waste.

Bolding mine. And yet, we've got idiots like Harry Brown drawing up maps of Eastern North Carolina in an effort to smother wind energy growth in our state, while he allows an environmental and public health crisis to continue unabated:

ACLU NC throws down gauntlet on abortion rights

Putting the gynoticians on notice:

Abortion has been targeted in every legislative session since the current leadership took over in Raleigh. The current majority at the legislature has denied women the ability to access health insurance that covers abortion through the Affordable Care Act exchange, attempted to corrupt the doctor/patient relationship through a ban on “sex selective” abortions, instituted a three-day waiting period for women seeking an abortion (the longest in the country), directed the Department of Health and Human Services to review and implement new laws regulating abortion clinics in the hopes of shutting them down and required doctors performing abortions after 16 weeks to submit women’s ultrasounds to DHHS for review.

Republican anti-abortion zealots exhibit the worst in political behavior: When you can't get what you want via overt legal means, you take a more devious route, strewing impediments in the way of women seeking to control their own bodies. Knowing they can't succeed in outright banning of abortion, they settle for a de facto abortion ban cloaked in "women's health" language. And the fact they take pride in such cowardly and specious behavior instead of hanging their heads in shame makes them even more despicable. But the Constitutional light is now illuminating this trickery:

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