UNC TRUSTEES DON'T WANT TO HEAR WHAT THE RIFF-RAFF HAVE TO SAY: The leaders representing groups of UNC-Chapel Hill professors, employees and graduate students have not been invited to speak on behalf of their colleagues to the campus Board of Trustees since new leaders of the board took over in the the summer. It is customary in the past for the faculty chair, Employee Forum chair and president of the Graduate and Professional Student Government to give remarks at board meetings, typically in the University Affairs Committee meeting. At least one of those representatives, and usually all three, spoke at every board meeting over the past year thought May. But since that May meeting, none of them have been invited to speak, they say. Because they know they're doing a piss-poor job, and don't want that on record.
STATE EMPLOYEES FORCED TO QUARANTINE RUNNING OUT OF PAID LEAVE: It's unclear how many of these employees have regular sick leave or other leave available, allowing them to be paid if they can't do their job from home and they're sent home after a positive coronavirus test or after contact with someone who tested positive. Whatever problems this might cause should abate as more employees get vaccinated, Gov. Roy Cooper's office indicated Wednesday. "The Office of State Human Resources will continue to review available leave policies to ensure flexibility and support for state employees," spokesman Jordan Monaghan said in a statement. "As more state employees get vaccinated, the need to quarantine for exposure should decrease since fully vaccinated individuals typically do not need to quarantine." The policy has been, in state prisons, for example, that if people can't work from home, they are sent home for 14 days if they're exposed to someone with COVID-19. Just one of those forced quarantines could eat up the 80 hours of special virus-related leave state employees have. And before you say, "Well, the private sector provides next to nothing!" don't forget, these people work for us. In both definitions.
ONE REASON WE NEED THAT INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE PASSED, AND INTACT: North Carolina government would need billions of dollars in additional road-building funds if it wants to carry out currently planned projects for the next decade, according to recent cost reassessments. The gap between the costs for committed Department of Transportation projects and available funding from 2024 to 2033 is at least $7 billion, WRAL-TV reported. Highway projects could be dropped from the State Transportation Improvement Program -- North Carolina’s building roadmap -- or simply not be added. “It is a problem,” Joey Hopkins, DOT's deputy chief engineer for planning, told the station. Project cost increases were counted during a routine re-estimate during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has contributed to rising material costs and uncertain job markets. Real estate prices also have increased, leading to rising costs to buy property to build or widen roads. “What we’re dealing with now in our market … the cost increases we’re dealing with now are unprecedented,” Hopkins said. “The housing market, our right-of-way costs, sometimes seem to be going up daily.”
FEMA IS STEPPING UP TO HELP WITH NC'S AMBULANCE PROBLEM: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is processing a request to send 50 ambulances and 100 personnel to North Carolina to help with the COVID-19 response. The FEMA support information was detailed in a federal planning document obtained by ABC News. Ambulances were provided to the state of Mississippi last month and Louisiana earlier this month. FEMA is also currently assisting North Carolina with clinical personnel for vaccine support. The federal document doesn't detail exactly which jurisdictions to which the ambulances might be deployed. The timeline is also currently to be determined. ABC11 reported last week that Wake County EMS was experiencing a large volume of calls. Because of that, it's become a daily occurrence that there are some times when there are no ambulances available to answer calls in the Raleigh city limits. This is a life or death issue, and FEMA deserves some hugs. But keep your mask on.
REPUBLICANS ARE ON THE VERGE OF SHUTTING DOWN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT (AGAIN): The White House budget office notified federal agencies on Thursday to begin preparations for the first shutdown of the U.S. government since the pandemic began, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill struggle to reach a funding agreement. Administration officials stress the request is in line with traditional procedures seven days ahead of a shutdown and not a commentary on the likelihood of a congressional deal. Both Democrats and Republicans have made clear they intend to fund the government before its funding expires on Sept. 30, but time is running out and lawmakers are aiming to resolve an enormous set of tasks to in a matter of weeks. House Democrats earlier this week approved a measure to fund the government, suspend the debt ceiling, and approve emergency aid such as disaster relief. But that plan is expected to die in the Senate amid GOP refusal to support Democratic attempts to lift the debt ceiling. “Every single member of this chamber is going to go on record as to whether they support keeping the government open and averting a default, or support shutting us down and careening our country toward a first-ever default,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said to open debate on the chamber floor. Mitch Mc-Fucking-Connell should be tarred and feathered, and maybe ran out of town on a rail. I was going to add "drawn and quartered," but that's a tad on the harsh side.