Republican greed

Folwell accuses Howard of angling for Board position

And it's a well-paid position at that:

Howard charged that remarks Folwell made during the session were “very disrespectful” to the committee. Folwell contended Howard was angling to get herself appointed to the Board of Review. Howard denied the accusation.

Folwell said of his "bullied" comment that Howard "has constantly told me that I got this job because of her" and that the Board of Review issue "continually comes up." Howard "continues to try to get herself appointed to the best part-time job in North Carolina's history," Folwell said of the Board of Review. "It pays $120,000 a year."

Not for nothing, but does anybody else see a huge conflict of interest here? Not with the patronage thing, which is a problem unto itself. But with three people pulling down such a sweet salary who also decide if somebody else (the unemployed worker) is deserving of monetary help. The conflict: if Board members rule in favor of too many of those workers, somebody else might take their place on the gravy train. And as far as denials go:

Are Internet gambling concerns pushing privilege tax cap?

There's more than one way to skin a municipality:

Financial, environmental and educational issues will be at the top of the agenda when the General Assembly reconvenes Wednesday in Raleigh. The so-called short session traditionally is reserved for tweaking the state budget. This year legislators also will use the session to deal with timely issues from coal ash to education policy.

A bipartisan committee has recommended capping privilege licenses, a tax on businesses, at $100. While that may be good news for some businesses, the city of Greensboro expects to lose $1.3 million in revenue if the General Assembly adopts the change.

First off, all Legislative committees are "bi-partisan" in nature, with the majority party filling the majority of seats in each. The only way you can (or should) call a measure bi-partisan is if some members of the minority party vote with the majority. Don't know if this is one of them, but I'm looking. Second, the privilege tax didn't become an issue until the courts blinked on sweepstakes cafes. And now that tax is one of the only ways cities and towns can keep Internet gambling casinos from popping up on every corner:

Commerce's shadow man whines about open government laws

Try to wrap your mind around this argument:

Richard Lindenmuth, the head of the proposed public-private Partnership for North Carolina, told the Triangle Business Journal that Texas had an advantage over North Carolina when it came to wooing Toyota officials because of public record laws.

“Why would a CEO ever let us know where they are looking if they are subject to public records,” Lindenmuth said, according to an interview with the Triangle Business Journal. ”Texas knew, but we didn’t. We can’t even have an open, frank discussion about everything.” It’s unclear what Lindenmuth meant by his comments. A call requesting comment from the state’s commerce department was not immediately returned.

That's because they're probably still sitting there with a WTF? look on their faces. Here's a little reminder, Dick: if you want to slop at the public trough, we get to watch to make sure you don't gobble up so much there's nothing left for the other critters. Sheesh. If the discussions you're wanting to have are the ones that will only be heard by a handful of wealthy private-sector moguls, then we shouldn't trust you with a dime of public money.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

We'll begin with some election year hyperbole:

A trend that was brought about by the devastating deregulation of the financial industry by free-market nut-jobs like yourself. By the way, Kay's last name only has five letters and "e" isn't one of them. It ain't hard to keep up with.

AG Cooper still fighting Duke Energy rate hike

The NC Supreme Court is not as supreme as it thinks:

A year ago, the state Supreme Court struck down a rate increase that the state Utilities Commission awarded to Duke Energy Corp. and ordered the panel to reconsider the increase in light of its impact on consumers. Now, Cooper is appealing the same increase to the high court, arguing that the Utilities Commission ignored the ruling.

“The court has already ruled once that consumers must be taken into account when setting utility profits but it still hasn’t happened,” Cooper said in a statement. “Even when given a second chance to get it right, the commission didn’t really consider consumers and approved the exact same rate hike.”

And as long as we allow this flawed formula to continue, where a rule-making commission is tasked with being concerned about profits for wealthy shareholders, many of whom do not even live in North Carolina, the unfairness will be ever-present. Any other private industry would need to dip into profits or borrow to make infrastructure improvements, which would force them to calculate the true need and ROI for such, and Duke Energy should be no different.

More whining from Wos on Legislative oversight

And more high-dollar outside contracts:

Davis and DHHS Sec. Aldona Wos told lawmakers they have hired a consultant to help streamline the agency and help make budget forecasts more reliable. "We've got here another single-bid $3 million contract," Tucker said, expressing frustration that a large agency with thousands of staffers could not have found workers to do such a review.

Wos said that DHHS' staff has shrunk and didn't have the ability to both handle day-to-day tasks as well as plan for the future. "This was an example of success. if this was able to be done by the employees of DHHS over the past 14 years, it would have done," Wos said. She added, "We would love to be at our desk working but we are here to provide you with the information you requested."

Shorter version: "It's not my fault, it's your fault." Apparently Republicans in the NCGA don't understand how job evaluations amongst the 1% really work: you fuck up, you move up, and the more money you lose in mismanaging your organization, the bigger your bonus and golden parachute. I shouldn't have to explain these things.

GOP redistribution of wealth in Watauga County

As always, J.W. is on top of the story:

Commissioners Nathan Miller, David Blust, and Perry Yates trotted out their lists of past beefs with Boone, their grievances, their grudges going back decades in some cases, but they readily admitted that their self-righteous spite sprang mainly from the on-going feud Mr. Yates's daddy-in-law Phil Templeton has with anybody and everybody who won't let him do precisely as he wishes as a millionaire land developer.

Last night, Mayor Ball asked Commission Chair Nathan Miller if he thought it was fair that Boone raise 60% of the revenue and get 12% of it in return. You could see the ire rise in Miller. It's plenty fair, he replied with noticeable venom.

Another factor which must have played a role in this decision: Boone had the audacity to elect a dynamic and outspoken YDNC leader as Mayor. Local Republicans might not fear the influence of local Democrats too much, but they do fear what Andy Ball represents; smart, young, Progressive Democrats, who have the vision to see what the future could be, and the intelligence and drive to explain it to others. The only way to fight it is to stack the deck against the new Mayor, and hope his popularity collapses. And if the people of Boone have to suffer as a consequence, it's their own fault for wanting progress.

Harris unloads both barrels on Tillis for pay-to-play politics

And it's actually a legitimate complaint:

But one of his leading challengers, Rev. Mark Harris, is hoping to stir things up and is planning to repeatedly criticize Tillis's decision to remain as House Republican leader while running for the Senate. Tillis is able to raise money for his Senate campaign from lobbyists with interests before the state's General Assembly, but it's illegal to raise such funds for his state legislative campaigns. Framing the speaker's conduct as "pay to play," Harris suggested the activity was unethical.

"It would have been better judgment for him to step down as speaker. It opens the door for questions of ethics to be raised," Harris told National Journal, arguing that it could become a glaring vulnerability if Tillis wins the GOP nomination against Sen. Kay Hagan. "If I had one thing to do differently [in the campaign], I would have demanded he step down as speaker in October."

Tillis is blatantly taking advantage of a loophole in our campaign finance/lobbying laws by doing this, and it should be an issue for voters (both Primary and General) to contemplate. And unless I missed it somehow, our NC reporters have left this issue alone. Maybe he isn't "breaking the law" in the classic sense, but it is definitely newsworthy.

Parsing the dollars: political spending in NC's U.S. Senate race

More fossil fuel influence coming to your living room:

The most recent big injection of political spending in North Carolina came April 1 from American Crossroads, a super PAC created by Republican operative Karl Rove. The group spent $1.1 million on an ad for Tillis. FEC records show that one of American Crossroads’ biggest recent donors was Contran Corp., a Dallas manufacturing and nuclear waste management company that gave $1 million. Contran’s late owner, Harold Simmons, was a major conservative Republican contributor.

American Crossroads’ major donors also include Billy Joe “Red” McCombs, the founder of Red McCombs Automotive Group in Texas and a former owner of the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs. He is listed as giving $60,000. Tulsa coal executive Joseph Craft III gave $500,000 through his JWC III Revocable Trust.

While I am deeply concerned about the possibility of losing the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, more and more I'm wanting Kay Hagan to win so we can send a message to people like Charles and David Koch and Karl Rove: you're not wanted here, and the money you sling around is and will be wasted.

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."

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