Thursday News: Probable cause

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FBI EXECUTES SEARCH WARRANT AT HOME OF FORMER TRUMP ADVISOR PAUL MANAFORT: FBI agents looking for financial documents have searched one of the homes of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, whose past foreign political work has been swept into the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. A Manafort spokesman confirmed the search Wednesday. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement that FBI agents had obtained a warrant and searched one of Manafort's homes, but he would not say when the search occurred or what it was for. Manafort has been a subject of a longstanding FBI investigation into his dealings in Ukraine and work for the country's former president, Viktor Yanukovych. That investigation has been incorporated into the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is also scrutinizing Manafort's role in the Trump campaign as he looks into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with Trump associates.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article166216317.html

Wednesday News: Not off our coast

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NC DEQ IS TAKING PUBLIC COMMENTS ON SEISMIC TESTING AND OFFSHORE DRILLING: President Donald Trump promised an America-First offshore energy strategy that could include drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has made opposition to drilling a centerpiece of his new administration. “I can sum it up in four words: Not off our coast,” Cooper said last month. “It is simply not worth the risk.” Now North Carolina residents are getting their chance to have their voices heard on the issue. About 175 people attended and 45 people spoke at a N.C. Department of Environmental Quality public event in Wilmington on Monday night, according to Bridget Munger with the state’s DEQ. It was the first of three DEQ-sponsored events this week. The deadline for states to submit comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is Aug. 17. DEQ is accepting public comments through Aug. 15.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article16...

Tuesday News: Corporatocracy

TRUMP USES GROUPS OF BUSINESSMEN TO DEVELOP ADMINISTRATION POLICIES: President Donald Trump, lacking trust in the speed, skill or loyalty of the government workers he inherited, is shifting the task of writing U.S. policy to a network of advisory groups stacked with business executives that operates outside of public view. It’s a move that could be cheered by the voters who sent Trump to Washington to clean house. But it’s also one that might be breaking the law. In a growing number of cases, the administration has been accused of violating a federal requirement that these advisory groups – working on everything from jobs training to environmental policy – open their meetings, release their documents and announce their members’ names.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article165742702.html

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The GOP underfunding of government services is taking a toll:

And sometimes people pay the ultimate price for that negligence:

Never again: Lessons need to be learned from Hurricane Matthew

Residents in Lumberton are still suffering from this disaster:

The southern part of Lumberton was one of the hardest hit areas by the Oct. 8 storm, primarily due to widespread flooding from an engorged Lumber River. Dozens of people were stranded and needed to be rescued, while hundreds were forced from their homes. Five shelters were opened for more than 1,800 people. In the days following the hurricane, many residents were trapped because water had flooded major roads in the city cutting them off.

With no electricity, there was virtually no gasoline, water or food for sale. Bottled water and military MREs were distributed to residents from 10 of the county’s 28 fire stations. The city’s water treatment plant flooded, shutting down public water for about two weeks. About a week after the hurricane, officials attributed three deaths in Robeson County to Hurricane Matthew.

Although McCrory started making noises in late October about a Special Session to allocate funds for the disaster, it didn't happen until mid-December. And Republicans promptly added two more sessions to take away power from Governor-elect Roy Cooper after they had dealt with those pesky relief funds. And just to give you an idea how venal and opportunistic they are, here's Tim Moore's announcement on the bill:

Monday News: Mapmakers take heat

PUBLIC SPEAKERS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT REDISTRICTING REFORM: “There is a rumor that red maps have been drawn already,” said Janis Ramquist, a Raleigh resident who told lawmakers she had known some of them for four decades and was saddened “that so many people distrust you and believe the worst in you.” James Wood, a 19-year-old Raleigh resident, shook his finger at the legislators as he criticized their protracted effort in the courts, and the millions of dollars spent on legal fees, fighting maps that did not pass constitutional muster. As his voice rose, Wood told the lawmakers that he thought with a piece of paper and a pencil that he could “draw districts pretty fairly.” “We are done with your pettiness and in the not so distant future when we are up there running the show, things are going to be different,” Wood said.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article165547262.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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VOTERS MUST HOLD LEGISLATORS ACCOUNTABLE ON REDISTRICTING: Legislative leaders have given little assurance that they intend to create fair and balanced or even lawful legislative districts. The committees’ leaders will cry crocodile tears, complaining that overbearing judges have imposed a tight deadline that will allow only limited public participation. House and Senate Redistricting Chairmen Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett and Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, already are blaming the judges, who frankly have been far too tolerant of legislative procrastination and secrecy. “While we had originally planned to set aside additional time to receive comments from North Carolinians and hold a statewide public hearing on criteria across the state, we have said all along that we will comply with the federal court’s order. Moving forward with this process over the next week will help us comply with the court’s deadline,” Lewis and Hise said in an announcement late Wednesday afternoon. Please! The court order is no excuse to limit or diminish public participation. This is 2017, not 1817. It is an automobile parking lot under the Legislative Building, not stables. Those are computers and smartphones on the desks, not parchment, inkwells and quills.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-voters-must-hold-legislators-accountable-on-redistricting/16858773/

The flaws of pay-for-performance in teacher salaries

Coming soon to the Chapel Hill/Carrboro school system:

The State Board of Education on Thursday approved a plan to provide up to $10.2 million over the next three years to six school systems to test their alternative models for paying teachers. The districts are planning to use different options, such as paying teachers more based on whether they take advanced leadership positions or have good student test results.

Lawmakers who ordered the state board to establish the pilot program are looking to see whether the district models can be applied statewide. “This is an opportunity for teachers to advance in their career while still working with students in the classroom,” said Bryan Hassel, co-director of Public Impact, a Chapel Hill-based education firm that is working with two of the districts in the pilot program.

As in any occupation, professional development should be rewarded. Advanced degrees, newly acquired skills, targeted certifications, these things represent efforts to improve one's capabilities and should not be overlooked or taken for granted. But this whole idea of imagining a subset of teachers who are a "cut above" the rest, and should be elevated to role models for the vast majority of their colleagues who are "substandard," is really nothing more than a backhand slap to the profession itself. And in an environment where nearly everybody can agree that testing as a tool for educating has gotten out of control, to throw extra money at teachers if their students score higher completely ignores all the new research that shows economic status is the main determining factor in student performance. A good analogy would be if you went to a grocery store parking lot and said, "These four rows of cars will race each other." And then be surprised when the Porsche wins. A few observations from Mark Jewell:

Saturday News: Theatre of the absurd

GUN NUTS FROM GRNC PUT ON A COSTUME PARTY AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY: A group of gun rights activists – some of them dressed in rhinoceros costumes – held a rally outside the legislature Thursday calling on N.C. Senate Republicans to pass legislation loosening gun permit requirements. They vowed to fight Republicans who don't support the bill in the 2018 election. Grass Roots North Carolina held the event to introduce a new mascot called Squish the Magic RINO, a reference to the acronym “Republican in name only.” Shortly after he was introduced, Squish – a group member wearing a rubber rhinoceros face mask – was unmasked when General Assembly police officers told him it’s illegal to wear a mask on state government property.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article16...

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