Notes from the Kakistocracy: Pollution "watchdog" was lawyer for polluters

This is starting to read like a really bad dystopian future novel:

As a corporate lawyer, William L. Wehrum worked for the better part of a decade to weaken air pollution rules by fighting the Environmental Protection Agency in court on behalf of chemical manufacturers, refineries, oil drillers and coal-burning power plants. Now, Mr. Wehrum is about to deliver one of the biggest victories yet for his industry clients — this time from inside the Trump administration as the government’s top air pollution official.

On Tuesday, President Trump is expected to propose a vast rollback of regulations on emissions from coal plants, including many owned by members of a coal-burning trade association that had retained Mr. Wehrum and his firm as recently as last year to push for the changes.

If Trump was merely "incompetent," his staffing decisions would be bad enough. But we've gone far beyond a lesser (or least) qualified appointee, and into the realm of a "fox in the hen house." And for those who saw a glimmer of hope in the possible rift between Trump and the Koch Brothers, put those hopes back in your pocket:

Monday News: It's called Climate Change, get used to it

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OVERNIGHT DOWNPOUR FLOODS RALEIGH STREETS, FELLS TREES: A flash flood warning expired for Wake County at 6 a.m. Monday after heavy rain from overnight storms flooded roads. According to officials at Duke Energy, trees were down on Medlin Drive and Catawba Street, leaving almost 30 customers without power. Officials said the trees were cleared from the road by 6 a.m. Three right lanes on Interstate 440 westbound near Lake Boone Trail were blocked overnight due to another downed tree. Officials with the DOT said the lanes reopened by 7:15 a.m. Commuters in Raleigh should be cautious but not concerned, as roads are improving. At one point overnight, all four lanes Atlantic Avenue at Hodges Street were covered in standing water. At 5:30 a.m., the water had receded and was reduced to the sides of the road.
https://www.wral.com/flooded-roads-fallen-trees-may-impact-morning-commute-in-raleigh/17781058/

NC Constitution: A primer

The NC Constitution of 1776

Although the constitution affirmed the separation of power between the three branches of government, the General Assembly held the true power. Until 1836, the General Assembly members were the only state officials who were elected by the people. The General Assembly picked Judges, the Governor and the members in the Council of State. Judges had life terms and governors had a one-year term. The Governor had little power and in many cases needed the consent of the Council of State to exercise the power that the office did hold. The Governor was also held to strict term limits; a person could only hold the office three terms in every six years. The constitution established a judicial branch, but did not well define this branch's structure. The constitution also lacked a system of local government. Universal suffrage was not an element of this constitution. Only landowners could vote for Senators until 1857. To hold state office required land ownership until 1868.

Constitution of 1868

Dissatisfied with the central role of the General Assembly, a state constitutional convention was called in 1835. Out of the convention came many amendments. Among those changes was fixing the membership of the Senate and House at their present levels, 50 and 120. Also, the office of Governor became popularly elected. The convention’s proposed changes were adopted by vote of the people on November 9, 1835. In 1865, Governor William W. Holden called for a Conference to write a new Constitution; it was rejected by a popular vote. Two years later, they reconvened. The new Constitution gave more power to the people and to the governor.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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THE WEIGHT OF HISTORY BEARS DOWN ON AMENDMENTS: James Madison, writing in the 1788 Federalist Papers No. 47, cited North Carolina for going too far at its outset in giving the legislative branch power to appoint the governor, as well as executive office-holders and judges. It was not until the 1835 state Constitution that North Carolina voters got the right to elect their governors. In the Federalist No. 48, Madison warned tartly that “the legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.” And he observed that “the danger from legislative usurpations, which, by assembling all power into the same hands, must lead to the same tyranny as is threatened by executive usurpations.” No doubt Jim Holshouser — and perhaps even James Madison of Virginia — would have joined former governors Jim Hunt, Jim Martin, Mike Easley, Bev Perdue, and Pat McCrory in defining for voters the long-term consequences of power-shifting amendments to their own well-being.
https://www.wral.com/ferrel-guillory-weight-of-history-bears-down-on-amendments/17777024/

Saturday News: Out of control

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WOODHOUSE THREATENS TO IMPEACH SUPREME COURT JUSTICES OVER AMENDMENTS: North Carolina Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse says Republican lawmakers could vote to impeach judges or justices who decide to remove any constitutional amendments from the ballot this fall. State Democratic Party chairman Wayne Goodwin was on stage with Woodhouse when he first made the comment. "I was shocked. I could not believe what I’d heard," Goodwin told WRAL News. "This just further shows that Republicans – Republican legislative leaders in particular – will stop at nothing to preserve their power, whether it’s misleading voters on the ballot, or it’s by gerrymandering districts, or in this instance, intimidating members of the judicial branch." Goodwin also said he doesn't believe the idea of impeaching justices originated with Woodhouse.
https://www.wral.com/impeachment-of-justices-possible-gop-chief-says/17776194/

Piqued by the lack of attention, Dan Forest makes some noise

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Revealing the obvious, that he's running for Governor in 2020:

A big piece of North Carolina’s 2020 race for governor fell into place Thursday when Dan Forest gave his clearest signal yet that he’s running. This raises a number of questions, including: Who is Dan Forest? What has he accomplished that makes him qualified to serve as governor? And what’s next for Pat McCrory? Forest is North Carolina’s lieutenant governor and a Republican. On Thursday, he issued a statement reacting to the latest news on the I-77 tolls project.

“The I-77 toll road contract was a colossal mistake started by the Perdue administration, signed by the McCrory administration, punted by the Cooper administration and would be fixed by a Forest administration,” he said.

Bolding mine, because there aren't enough LOLs to cover how funny those questions are. The answers: Dan Forest is a marketable product with no actual utilitarian function. He's an artifact, created by political craftsmen to be the ideal (1950's) candidate. What has he accomplished? Less than nothing, but since it's hard to explain how his very presence has eroded the integrity of both his office and the voting public's discretionary skills, we'll just stick with "nothing." And I have to give a hat-tip to Taylor Batten, who is one of the few reporters acknowledging that lack of accomplishment:

Friday News: The stink of desperation

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ATTORNEY FOR BERGERMOORE ARGUES JUDGES HAVE NO AUTHORITY OVER AMENDMENTS: The courts don’t have a role in determining what constitutional amendments appear on the ballot, a lawyer representing North Carolina legislative leaders told a three-judge panel Wednesday. Martin Warf is defending House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, both Republicans, in lawsuits to stop proposed constitutional amendments from going to voters. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is fighting two amendments that he and others say would shift power from the executive office to the legislature. One amendment would strip governors from their power to appoint members to hundreds of state boards and commissions and give that power to the legislature. The other would limit governors’ abilities to appoint judges to court vacancies.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article216689835.html

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