Moffitt tries to bully his Democratic opponent into quitting NC House race

Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction:

Moffitt and Turner met at Travinia restaurant in Biltmore Park about 3 p.m. on Feb. 24. King, who has touted the fact that he has friends on both sides of the political aisle, acted as a go-between and was also at the table. The meeting was ostensibly a pre-campaign get-together for the two candidates to say hello.

But over an appetizer and iced tea – sweet for Turner, unsweetened for Moffitt – Moffitt asked Turner to withdraw from the race. Turner declined. The conversation continued, with Moffitt suggesting that Turner might fulfill a desire to serve the state through some other state job, according to sources familiar with the meeting. (Turner resigned his job as a vice chancellor at UNC Asheville to challenge against Moffitt, his first run for political office.) Moffitt went on to say that third-party groups he couldn’t control would “nuke” Turner and his family, according to the sources. Turner is married and has a daughter.

This is so far over the line I don't even know where to begin. The Republican leadership should ask for his resignation long before November's Election rolls around and, if they don't, the voters of the 116th District should reject Moffitt's extremely anti-democratic approach to keeping his seat. And no, I don't expect either of those things to happen, but it's nice to dream of a not-crazy world sometimes.

Mismanagement threatens future of Charlotte charter school

The invisible hand picks the taxpayers' pocket:

In documents filed in court and with the state charter school office, Mack, vice chair Jennifer Winstel and consultants hired by the StudentFirst board say Handford overstaffed the school, put family members on the payroll, failed to pay bills and document expenses, arranged big raises for herself and Moss, and let the school fall into academic disarray.

“Once operations were underway, we met monthly and received glowing reports from the school’s leaders – reports that we would later discover were mischaracterizations at best and outright fabrications at worst,” Mack wrote in his Feb. 19 response to Medley.

The court case is shaping up to be a big hot mess, but there's no doubt the financial stability of the school is in jeopardy. And the way the Legislature has designed oversight for these entities, taxpayers have very little control over how their money is spent.

More posturing from DAG McCrory on teacher issues

The happy talk express is pulling into town:

Gov. Pat McCrory says his staff will consider making changes to a new law that offers raises to top teachers who give up tenure rights.

“I think it’s an example of passing a policy without clearly understanding the execution,” McCrory said.

McCrory says his staff will review the impact of the law between now and the short session in May. “I share some of the concerns expressed based on the implementation of the rule. The intent of the rule is very good -- the implementation process needs to be more clarified,” he said.

No, the intent of the rule is the root of the problem, not the implementation. The intent is to tear down the ranks of experienced teachers so they can be replaced by less-expensive and less-experienced rookies. And with those new teachers continuously worried about their short-term contracts, they're less likely to complain about having no new books or other needed materials. It's a policy of destruction, plain and simple, and it needs to be reversed.

Pay-to-play politics Tillis-style

You scratch my back, I'll give you some television time:

It was the spring of 2013, and lawmakers were busy drafting more than 1,700 bills, including a handful that had big implications for companies that manage homeowners associations and condominiums. At the same time, a group called Alliance for Better Communities, which is bankrolled by property management companies, gave four donations totaling $51,000 to a nonprofit closely tied to Republican state House leaders.

There's a lot more to this sordid tale, but (as is almost always the case) the people slinging money around were able to do so legally. Proving once again, there's often a huge difference between "legal" and "ethical."

Friday fracking video

And, here are a few others:

Nat Geo covers the "kill zone" in Dan River ecosystem

Disaster on the micro-level:

On the Dan, determining the health of low-lying river creatures such as mussels, clams, crawfish and dragonflies will determine the health of the fish in the river, and later, the birds and animals that feed on those fish. The fear, said Brian Williams, also a Dan River Basin Association program manager, is that the entire food chain along the upper Dan could be imperiled by the presence of coal ash and its poisonous heavy metals. (The Dan River stretches some 200 miles; about 70 miles is affected by the spill.)

Already, though, Williams described the river bottom on the Dan a mile or two below the spill as a virtual “kill zone” for macroinvertebrates because of the amount of toxic sludge that’s settled. At the spill site, there is a coal ash bar some five feet thick and 75 feet long. Coal ash has been detected along the river bottom some 70 miles eastward downstream — all the way to the John Kerr Reservoir north of Raleigh.

Even those critters who survive this calamity will absorb toxins and heavy metals, which will form a bioaccumulation chain that will eventually make any fish pulled from the river or Kerr Lake inedible. Or, more precisely, fish that shouldn't be eaten. Humans are also subject to bioaccumulation.

FCC may intervene in muni broadband battle

Putting the big-government bullies in Raleigh on notice:

Four other communities in the state also launched municipal broadband. Such enterprises irked big-time providers enough that, after years of lobbying and a million dollars in campaign cash, North Carolina in 2011 passed a cable industry-backed law that makes it nearly impossible for any other municipality to do the same. (Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink did not return requests for comment.)

Two weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it intends to take a close look at overruling such state laws, which restrict the ability of cities and towns to build their own broadband networks in 20 states across the country. The legal restrictions on municipal broadband are an “obvious candidate” for the agency’s scrutiny as it seeks to enhance competition, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.

It's about time somebody stepped in to defend the rights of cities and towns in this state. Republicans in the NCGA have shown nothing but contempt for these smaller governments, and have allowed private companies to dictate what should be decided by local voters. Bring it on.

Counting the costs of coal ash: running new water lines

Sharing the burden of reckless behavior:

Regulators have known about problems with Sutton's unlined ash pits for years, but never took enforcement action until August 16 — after the citizens groups tried to sue Duke. In its court filings, the state environmental agency said monitoring wells consistently showed high levels of arsenic, selenium, thallium and other potentially deadly chemicals. In October, the company agreed to pay at least $1.5 million of a $2.25 million Cape Fear Public Utility Authority project to run new water lines to Flemington.

The pollution poses no current health risk to the drinking wells, Duke spokesman Thomas Williams said in an email. But the company was involved in the project to "prevent that possibility."

"This will continue to assure a high quality water supply for these customers, give them peace of mind and provides additional economic development benefits for that area," Williams said.

Right, just like New Jersey is enjoying "economic development benefits" rebuilding homes that were destroyed by flooding. What about the $750,000 balance the taxpayers are footing for running these water lines, or the monthly water bills these residents are going to have to pay going down the road, because you f$%ked up their drinking water wells?

Tuesday Twitter roundup

We'll start with a chain of causality:

Prejudice against unions in North Carolina is both persistent and illogical. What has being the least-unionized state in the country brought us? Better and more secure jobs? Oh, hell no:

Americans For the Prosperous tours charter schools

Apparently "choice" means choosing what definition of the word "choice" you use:

“We applaud Douglass Academy for giving all area students educational choices, options and opportunities they didn’t have before,” Paige Freeman, area field coordinator for Americans For Prosperity, told a small crowd. “Renovating and revitalizing this building is a gift to the downtown area…It is a true gift, especially to residents in the adjacent lower-income areas, and a true gift to the students.”

Unlike most charter schools, Douglass provides buses and lunches for the approximately 35 students enrolled there. Since charters do not receive state transportation or child nutrition funding, they are not required to offer either services. As guests toured the facility, the word “choice” echoed through the hallways.

Bolding mine. New Hanover County has some 40,000 children under the age of 18, meaning you would need over 1,000 "facilities" of this nature to accommodate all of them. Even just the 1st & 2nd Graders number in the thousands, so I really don't see how this 35 student school gives "all area students" an educational choice. But propaganda like that is what we've come to expect from AFP.

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