Daily dose: Plums and pits edition

More and more it appears that Phil Berger will end up being the winner – at least as far as getting done what you want done is concerned – by the time all the air goes out of the current legislative session. House Speaker and GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate Thom Tillis just wanted to somehow look in charge. He’s looked desperate and victimized by circumstances that he hasn’t been able to control. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory wanted a teacher pay increase to get educators and parents off his back. Instead got a Senate-designed confusing mess that left teachers dissatisfied and feeling they’d been hoodwinked. McCrory wanted the legislature to pass his wife’s priority, a bill to regulate puppy mills. Didn’t happen. McCrory wanted Medicaid reform. See puppy mill bill. On the other hand, Berger and his allies in the Senate wanted to cut education spending and flatten the salary scale. Check. He wanted to deliver some action on the coal ash mess, since it happened in his district. Check. He was happy to come out with nothing, if the House didn’t go along with the incentives legislation. Check. Phil Berger isn’t running statewide and he’s got himself a custom tailored district to make sure his re-election isn’t threatened. Check. There’s more, but that would be piling on, and Berger’s too polite for that kind of thing.


Pissing off poets

The Guv'ner, when picking Chief Poet
total disregard, he did show it.
Ejudkation major Pat,
put on his stupid hat,
and decided to totally blow it.



Some are saying 80 to 100k. Others say 20,000. I say "enough to change the world."

More pictures below the fold.


An open letter to Boeing Corporation's CEO

Dear Mr. McNearney.

With your social media mavens digging through the blogosphere every day, I'm confident you'll find this note. Thank you for reading.

News reports suggest your company may be looking to relocate from Washington State. Unhappy with worker demands, you're looking to trim costs in order to improve profits. As such, you've developed a shopping list of incentives that could contribute more than two billion dollars to your bottom line over the next 20 years.

I'm not a fan of incentives, but if you're going to play that game, how about raising the stakes just a bit? In addition to asking for monetary concessions that will enrich your shareholders, perhaps you could demand some social concessions that would help your employees. Here in North Carolina, there are three specific demands you should be making.

  1. Repeal Amendment One. Your gay workers of the future will not be happy to find themselves living in a state that actively discriminates against them.
  2. Increase the education by half again. North Carolina scrapes the bottom of the barrel in teacher pay for science and math. What's more, our education funding depends on state-sponsored gambling as a key revenue source. Is that the foundation you want for your business? The legislature will convene this May. Insist that education funding and teacher pay be raised to the national median.
  3. Repeal Voter ID and other voter suppression policies. Your employees will have a hell of a time voting in North Carolina under the most restrictive voting policies in the nation.

I don't know what these demands are worth in terms of corporate profits, but if you expand your vision to think about the triple bottom line, they are worth more than almost anything. Said another way, maybe you should use your clout to do some good for a change.

I'm happy to talk at your convenience.

James Protzman


After dark

AG Roy Cooper slams Duke Energy over rate increases

Putting shareholders ahead of of ratepayers:

“People are already struggling to pay their bills and utilities want to raise rates yet again,” Cooper in a statement. “We’ll continue to fight these increases that fail to adequately take consumers into account.” He cited an analysis by Moody’s that shows that North Carolinians pay a higher percentage of their household disposable income for electricity than residents of all but six other states. He also questioned whether Duke shareholders should be entitled to a 10.2 return on investment on the backs of consumers, many of whom are still struggling in an uneven economy.

Considering the makeup of the new NCUC, this vocal opposition is critical in not only opposing rate increases, but also making sure the public is aware of the issue.


If it is true that we get the government we deserve

Then we have all been very, very bad.

Most of the debate this week about the Senate budget understandably focused on the more than 5,000 jobs it eliminates, the cuts it makes to education, and the $770 million it sets aside for tax cuts for millionaires. But there are dozens of other questionable funding decisions and troubling policy changes included in the massive 413-page budget bill that only a handful of Senate leaders had seen before it was released late Sunday night.


Attention hybrid owners: Will you balk at paying extra fees because you're driving a hybrid?

In one of the most absurd abuses of logic from a General Assembly full of more abuses than anyone can count, Republicans want to charge 28,000 North Carolina residents an extra fee for owning hybrid cars.

An annual fee of $100 for electric car owners and $50 for hybrid car owners would be levied on state residents. The fee would raise $1.5 million for the state Department of Transportation in the upcoming year. State Senator Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, is a supporter of the measure, arguing that electric and hybrid car owners should not get a “free ride” by not paying state gas taxes...

“If they want to use the highways, we expect them to pay for the highways just like every other citizen that uses them,” Rabon said. “I don’t think anyone that owns these vehicles will balk at all.”

I have news for Senator Rabon. I will not only balk, I will also do everything I can to mount a class-action lawsuit against the government of North Carolina for discrimination, or perhaps just for plain stupidity.


Happy April Fool's Day


Why I support the ACLU in North Carolina

Received via email, passed along with my strongest endorsement.

As the election results came in last week, civil libertarians across the country had much to celebrate. Unfortunately, here in North Carolina, the news was much less rosy. While voters in other states cast historic votes to approve marriage equality, reject onerous voter ID requirements, and enact sensible drug policies, the results in North Carolina make it clear that we will be facing many uphill battles in the coming years.

Right-wing extremists now control both houses of our state legislature with veto-proof majorities. Unlike his predecessor, Governor-elect Pat McCrory will be politically and procedurally unable to veto even the most onerous attacks on civil liberties.

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