Monday News: Taking responsibility


BOONE CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO REQUIRE MASKS INDOORS: Effective 5 p.m. Tuesday, ages 2 and older must mask up in all indoor public settings, according to Mayor Rennie Brantz’s declaration. The Town Council voted to reenact the state of emergency first imposed during the pandemic last year. “Watauga County’s and North Carolina’s daily case counts and hospitalizations for COVID-19 are quickly increasing due to the Delta Variant, which spreads at least twice as easily as previous variants,” according to the declaration. The council said on Facebook that the Boone Police Department “will continue to assist private businesses and private business owners if they choose to enforce social distancing standards and other more restrictive COVID-19 preventative measures.” Good, because there are bound to be some idiots ready to show their asses.

NC HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE NOSING INTO SOCIAL STUDIES STANDARDS AGAIN: North Carolina House Republicans want to use the state budget to delay new social studies standards, require teachers to post lesson plans online and create a way for parents to object to materials used in schools. State House GOP leaders unveiled this week parts of their proposed state budget plan, including a variety of education changes targeted at concerns that schools are indoctrinating students. These items are likely to draw complaints from Democratic lawmakers that the plan would micromanage schools and would negatively impact minority students. The House budget calls for delaying the new social studies standards until at least the 2023-24 school year. In the meantime, the budget would create a Standards Review Commission to review the social studies standards. The Standards Review Commission would consist of educators, parents and other members of the community. Members would be appointed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. And I'm sure they will put some doozies on that commission. *sigh*

ANOTHER HUGE SURPLUS FOR NC REPUBLICANS TO NOT SPEND ON CRITICAL NEEDS: North Carolina's tax windfall for the last fiscal year turned out even larger than the bonanza that state government economists predicted would arrive due to the recovering economy. The state ended up collecting $29.7 billion in revenues during the year that ended June 30, according to the Office of State Budget & Management. That's $190 million more than the consensus forecast reached in mid-June by the budget office and General Assembly analysts. That June forecast had already bumped up the anticipated collections by a massive $1.9 billion — the result of a resurgent post-pandemic economy following the end of shuttered businesses and lockdowns. The closeout total means North Carolina took in 24% more revenues this past year compared to the year before. House and Senate Republicans have yet to finalize the next two-year state budget. The additional money is unlikely to alter much the calculus for budget writers since they have already agreed on spending caps for the current year and next.

SALES OF HYBRID VEHICLES ARE THROUGH THE ROOF, GIVING MORE HOPE TO AN ELECTRIC FUTURE: Hybrid cars improve fuel economy by using batteries to assist gasoline-powered engines, and their sales are soaring. While the broader U.S. auto industry recorded a 29 percent growth in sales in the first half of 2021, hybrid sales grew 142 percent, according to data provided by Wards Intelligence. Hybrid sales have been growing faster than those of electric vehicles for the past two years — and many experts say that consumers’ apparent willingness to make the switch to hybrids, which has coincided with more popular models becoming available, could be a promising sign for an eventual shift toward electric vehicles. “The more that people are comfortable with hybrids,” said Ken Gillingham, a professor of environmental economics at Yale University, “the more they might be comfortable with electric vehicles in the future.” The hybrid boom should help the environment in the short term, too, Gillingham says. The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest automotive trends report found that in model year 2019, hybrid cars, excluding trucks, achieved 41.7 miles per gallon, while non-hybrids achieved 29.4 mpg. For every 100,000 miles driven, hybrids save about 1,000 gallons of gasoline, and the release of roughly 9.8 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is averted. Over the life spans of the hundreds of thousands of hybrids sold in that model year alone, emissions could be reduced by millions of tons.

STOP DEFENDING ANDREW CUOMO, HE DOESN'T DESERVE YOUR SYMPATHY, HIS VICTIMS DO: Commisso told Duncan that Cuomo began giving her “hugs with kisses on the cheek” and at one point Cuomo hugged her, quickly turned his head and kissed her on the lips. Commisso said she was too afraid to say anything. “I didn’t say anything this whole time. People don’t understand that this is the governor of the state of New York,” Commisso told Duncan. “There are troopers that are outside of the mansion and there are some mansion staff. Those troopers that are there — they are not there to protect me. They are there to protect him.” According to the attorney general’s report, Commisso told investigators that Cuomo harassed her both verbally and physically, including groping her breast in the governor’s mansion in Albany. Cuomo has denied the allegations. At one point, the governor allegedly said to Commisso something like, “If you were single, the things I would do to you,” she recalled, per the attorney general’s report. In one incident, he allegedly asked her to take a selfie with him and then “moved his hand to grab her butt cheek and began to rub it,” the report said. Commisso told investigators she was shaking so much that the photos were blurry. In November, Commisso was dispatched to assist Cuomo at the executive mansion, according to the report. As she was leaving, he slammed the door shut and slid his hand up her blouse, cupping her breast, according to the investigation. “I remember thinking to myself who — I knew what just went on, I knew and he knew too that was wrong,” she told investigators. “And that I in no way, shape or form invited that nor did I ask for it. I didn’t want it. I feel like I was being taken advantage of.” Time to resign, jackass.