NCGA

90% of coal ash remains in Dan River after Duke Energy "completes" cleanup

If this is what they call "success," one would hate to see them fail:

Since the operation began on May 6, approximately 2,500 tons of coal ash and river sediment have been removed from this location. Crews and equipment were staged at Abreu-Grogan Park in Danville for the past three months.

The company previously completed removal of ash and sediment from water treatment facilities in Danville and South Boston, as well as from locations in the river at the Dan River Steam Station and Town Creek, two miles downstream from the plant. More than 500 tons of coal ash and river sediment were removed from these areas.

Do the math. A low-end estimate on the spill had some 39,000 tons of ash released, and this combined 3,000 tons removed included an unknown quantity of non-ash sediment. What's left in the river could be closer to 95%. And the General Assembly wants to give Duke Energy "more flexibility" in the cleanup/relocation of all the other coal ash ponds?

Coal Ash Wednesday: arrested legislative development

Making a mess of cleaning up a mess:

“The Senate bill was weak to begin with,” said Kemp Burdette, Riverkeeper with Cape Fear River Watch, “it got even weaker in the House.” The legislation, he said, still does not spell out how DENR and the new coal ash commission should evaluate the sites.

Burdette toured the ash ponds at Duke’s Chatham County plant at the other end of the Cape Fear River on Friday and said the ponds should have been on the high priority list from the outset. The site did make the list briefly, after a coalition of Democrats and Sandhills Republicans won a vote on an amendment to add it to the priority list. The win was later overturned after House leaders intervened. Burdette said given what he saw on Friday, taking the Cape Fear ponds off the list seemed wrong.

“It looks pretty bad,” he said. “There are multiple seeps. The ponds are leaking. All five of [the ponds’ dams] are ranked as high hazard and they are arguably the most dangerous in the state.”

Common sense and science don't stand a chance when politics intervenes.

Another Voter Integrity Project stunt goes awry

Eliciting another toddler-like temper tantrum from Jay DeLancy:

Early Monday morning July 14th Wake County Elections Director Cherie Poucher listened to a strange request on her voice mail. Jay DeLancy of the Voter Integrity Project wanted to use a county polling place today, Tuesday July 15th, run-off primary election day, for a photo-shoot with a number of masked people lined up attempting to vote as unidentified voters. DeLancy claimed he had cleared it with the precinct chief judge and wanted the Wake Board’s approval. The precinct chief judge in question is Denise Stetter who is also communications director for the Voter Integrity project. What they were conspiring to do would have been a violation of at least two North Carolina laws.

To put it in the quaint vernacular, "That boy ain't right." If all he really wanted was a photoshoot, he could have easily mocked-up a polling place, with a few tables and a few senior citizens sitting at them. But this is something more. Either he was planning for the masked men to intimidate voters, or he might have been angling to get that precinct in trouble with his "proof." Whatever the case, it doesn't have a damned thing to do with integrity, and neither does he:

Pubilic schools drive county economies in NC

The plans of the far right to destroy public education and utilize those tax dollars as a revenue stream for private businesses will do far more harm to North Carolina than just destroying our schools. It turns out that:

In 64 of North Carolina’s 100 counties .. a local school system is the largest single employer. A local school system is the second-largest employer in 24 other counties ….. In only 12 counties ... is a school system not in the top two…..

A few interesting notes: in counties where the school system is not the top employer, it’s usually due to the military (Craven, Cumberland, Onslow), a large university (Orange, Durham, Watauga, Pitt, Jackson), a prison (Granville, Hyde), or a large-scale hog/chicken processing plant (Duplin, Lenoir, Bladen). Note the absence of manufacturing.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Once again, the dreaded "R" word comes into play:

His chamber's a star chamber, where the elite decide who to punish.

Cronyism and nepotism driving the charter school bus

The invisible hand picking the public's pocket:

But here’s another happy charter story. The president pro tem of the State Senate is Phil Berger Sr., who is responsible for legislation authorizing charters, vouchers, and the virulent anti-teacher legislation that is causing many veteran teachers to leave the state. You might call him North Carolina’s one-man wrecking crew of public education, except he has plenty of helpers in the legislature.

So who do you think is opening charters and getting in on the ground floor of the biggest new education industry opportunity in North Carolina? Phil Berger, Jr. No conflict there. Daddy passes the law, and junior cashes in.

But they don't see a conflict, because "ethics" is not in their dictionary. And of course the propaganda mill known as the John Locke Foundation is neck-deep in this story:

NC GOP creating a whole new batch of latchkey children

Purging the child care rolls:

The proposed system would not change the total amount of money that goes toward child care subsidies, according to the legislature’s fiscal research division. The majority of North Carolina’s funding – 80 percent – comes from the federal government, and the proposed eligibility system would keep overall funding at $348 million.

But by placing the threshold for eligibility lower while keeping funding the same, the proposed system is designed to help the youngest and poorest children. Demand for subsidies currently outpaces funding, and so children are placed on a waiting list until funding becomes available. Statewide, the system should cut the waiting list by 3,200 families, according to the Senate.

The right thing to do would be for the state to make up the shortfall and enroll all of the children eligible, since it's only shouldering 20% of the burden right now. But that's not how the Republican mind works. Better to let the older children fend for themselves. And besides, when the market demands it, more for-profit prisons can be built. Those kids will eventually get some supervision.

Misreading the Tillis-Hagan tea leaves

John Wynne swings and misses in his prediction of a Tillis victory:

Let’s start with some facts. First of all, voters are much more concerned with national issues than state issues. While progressives hate what the legislature is doing, most of the public is ambivalent. Ill-advised though it was to say this publicly, Thom Tillis had it right when he said that most voters don’t pay attention to what the legislature is doing. It doesn’t play a role in their day to day lives.

This is the core of John's mistaken evaluation of the situation; relying on the way things have always been. That ambivalence to Raleigh's affairs has been altered, maybe permanently, by the activities of the Moral Monday movement. It took close to 1,000 people being arrested to get the public's attention, but it worked. And as far as the "Obamacare!" scare approach, guess what? It's wearing off. Big-money Conservative groups have spent millions blasting Kay Hagan since late last year, and people are getting tired of the ads. But since they don't know any other way to spend their oil-drenched money, they will keep on attacking, and Kay's numbers will keep on improving. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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