kmr's blog

Morning Ex

Via the Ex Files

Eat a good lunch there's a busy night ahead all over.
The President announces his newish Iraq policy on teevee at 9 p.m., which, coincidentally is tip off time for the UNC-Virginia game. Meanwhile, there's a growing chorus saying don't expect the new congress to be able to really stop the madness. Center for American Progress briefing paper on the subject.
Today, the new House takes up the minimum wage as a part of it 100 Hours thing.
NYT: Keeping up with The Clock

Windy days ahead

Not to get too weather-geeky but you folks out West are in for a heck of a storm with high winds and heavy snow. We'll be seeing it here mid-state soon as well. From the NWS Forecast (geek link here):

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF NORTHEAST
GEORGIA...PIEDMONT NORTH CAROLINA...WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA AND
UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT

THERE IS A HIGH WIND WARNING FOR THE EASTERN AND NORHTERN MOUNTANS
OF NORTH CAROLINA THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING...A WIND ADVISORY FOR
THE REST OF THE MOUNTAINS AND NORTH CAROLINA FOOTHILLS...AND A
LAKE WIND ADVISORY FOR THE REST OF THE FORECAST AREA. SEE PRODUCT
CAENPWGSP FOR DETAILS.

THERE IS A HEAVY SNOW WARNING THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH TONIGHT FOR

Real estate taxes and school construction

A legislative committee looking at school construction needs heard proposed legislation for a new array of potential revenue streams for school construction including a real estate transfer tax. The legislation, presented to the House Select Committee on Public School Construction, would also increase regulatory authority, allowing counties to set up adequate public facility ordinances.
Each county would have to hold a referendum on whether to opt in to the new system. Counties that already have local option real estate transfer taxes and and special impact fee arrangements would have to choose either the new system or their current one.
The Adequate Public Facilities ordinances would allow counties to tie construction permits to available seats in the classroom.

Hackney shores up support in Speaker race

Today's Insider is reporting that Joe Hackney is building support for his bid to be House Speaker and that Joe Tolson is expected to announce he's out of the race and supporting Hackney.

Hackney, meanwhile, declined to say how many commitments he has for speaker. The Orange County Democrat did say that he has steadily been picking up support. "Starting to roll," Hackney said.

House Democrats are getting together Wednesday for the decision. Hackney told me several weeks ago he would win because of his history as a consensus builder. He's not one to count his chickens before they hatch, so "starting to roll," is a pretty upbeat comment.

Bonds a comin'

Via the Ex Files

Looks like 2008 is shaping up to be a big year for a bond referendum. Already there are efforts to build the case for bond money to fund the Land for Tomorrow effort, and President Bowles and the UNC System Board of Governors continue to talk about "Bond II"—some kind of followup to the $3.1 billion approved by voters in the last millennium.
Now, a coalition of school and business leaders have combined to push for bonds for school construction. According to a Charlotte Observer story, the group says local governments and lottery money aren't enough to cover the $9.8 billion in construction needs:

Haditha headlines

Lovely day again here in Carolina—at least it was until I read this headline on the front page of the N&O:

Report details civilians' deaths in Marine raids.

The story, from the Washington Post's Saturday edition, opens with this:

WASHINGTON - U.S. Marines gunned down five unarmed Iraqis who stumbled onto the scene of a 2005 roadside bombing in Haditha, Iraq, according to eyewitness accounts that are part of a lengthy investigative report obtained by The Washington Post.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, the squad's leader, shot the men one by one after Marines ordered them out of a white taxi in the moments after the explosion, which killed one Marine and injured two others, witnesses told investigators. Another Marine fired rounds into their bodies as they lay on the ground.

Morning Ex

Via the Ex Files:

Good morning. Welcome to Winter 2.0.

Meant to plug this NYT story on Hispanic youths in the South earlier.
Meanwhile, here's a few questions:
• What in the hell was the City of Durham thinking when they decided not to tell people about lead in the water?
• What kind of DOT doesn't get around to fixing guard rails on one of the busiest commuter routes in the state?
• Isn't it a little sad that we're the envy of other states trying pass ethics reforms?
• Did the mainstream press just go back to their D.C. cloisters after the election?
• Did the White House take the phone off the hook after the election?

And one follow up question to that from Elvis and Nick:

Wondering

I dunno, maybe a big story fell through and they had to think of something quick, but the front of today's Life section of the N&O--The Seven Wonders of the Triangle--was l-a-m-é. Their picks: RTP, Cameron Indoor Stadium, that damn Acorn in Raleigh, Cameron Village (note obsession with things named Cameron) and a few others. (I kinda agree with Crook's Corner Shrimp & Grits, but I'm not sure if it's a classic wonder.)

Here's some of the short descriptions of the wonders (wherein the paper of record does snark, I think):

The Acorn
Big and fun and metal and hoisted by a crane on New Year's Eve. . .

RTP
. . .RTP is populated by all sorts of wonderfully smart people who tinker with test tubes and microbes and whatnot. . .

Public hearing on death penalty

An intense public hearing today before the House Select Committee on Capital Punishment. Mark Kleinschmidt has a rundown on his blog and over on Exile there's audio of a really incredible bit of testimony—in the truest sense of that word—by Shirley Burns. She's the mother of one son who is to be executed in 12 days and the grieving mother of another son who was murdered eight months ago.

Exile on Jones Street: Shirley Burns testimony

AP story on the hearing.

From Mark Kleinschmidt:

Shuler staff says Taylor left no files

Heath Shuler's being sworn in today, and it looks like he's already got his hands full. Taylor's folks wiped out the information on the office's computers.

"They've been just as difficult as they can be," Shuler's chief of staff, Hayden Rogers, told the Citizen-Times.

Rogers said it's not just a question of his Democratic boss being inconvenienced by the outgoing eight-term Republican's staff. He said constituents who had asked their congressman for help will now have to start all over.

"We have no case files. We don't even have knowledge that casework was being done for individuals," he said. "To clean off the operating systems,

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