Thursday News: No good reason


GOP MOVE TO MAKE PROGRAM EVALUATION DIVISION PARTISAN DRAWS CRITICISM: The nearly 15-year-old unit said to have saved the state millions, known as the Program Evaluation Division, has more than a dozen staffers. They will be replaced by partisan staff tasked with similar duties in the coming weeks. Legislative leaders did not say whether staff would be laid off or transferred. Democrats aren’t alone in their discontent with the sudden change. Former Republican Rep. Craig Horn, who worked closely with the division as a chair of the committee that oversees it, said he was disappointed in the decision to eliminate the division. Turcotte announced on Twitter Monday morning the elimination of the division, saying since its inception, it has saved the state some $38.6 million annually, plus an additional $37.7 million. “My concern is that we’ve got a system of government now that is depending too much on belief and not on science and not on evidence,” Turcotte said.

SCHOOL REOPENING BILL HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR, VETO IS POSSIBLE: Senate Bill 37 passed the House 76-42 on Wednesday, following a 31-16 vote in the Senate on Tuesday. Eleven Democratic lawmakers joined Republicans in supporting the measure. The bill now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper, who has urged school districts to get students back into classrooms as soon as possible. Still, he has expressed reservations about a state mandate to reopen schools, saying decisions on school operations should be left up to local officials. "Children should be back in the classroom safely, and I can sign this legislation if it adheres to [state Department of Health and Human Services] health safety guidance for schools and protects the ability of state and local leaders to respond to emergencies. This bill currently falls short on both of these fronts," Cooper said in a statement before the House vote. The legislation gives school districts two weeks to plan before getting students back into classrooms safely, at least part-time. It also requires the option of full-time, in-person learning for all special-needs students.

GOVERNOR COOPER WANTS BETTER WARNING SYSTEM FOR TORNADOES: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Feb. 17 that the state must learn from the surprise tornado that struck Ocean Isle Beach with little or no warning, leaving three people dead and 10 injured. The governor surveyed the brunt of the damage, at Ocean Ridge Plantation, a neighborhood where residents recounted near-death experiences from the powerful EF3 tornado that approached swiftly. "It developed so fast," Conrow told the governor. "I mean, it just was really nothing and just exploded. Within four minutes, we had a tornado on the ground, which is scary because everyone's in bed at nighttime sleeping." On his tour, Cooper described the damage as "devastating." He vowed to direct state resources to help rebuild destroyed homes and businesses and also figure out what could be done differently to give people more warning time the next time a severe storm develops. "We need to look at what happened here and learn from it and see if systems can be improved," Cooper said.

SON OF RIGHT-WING MEDIA MOGUL ARRESTED IN CAPITOL ATTACK: An FBI agent alleged that Bozell pointed a video camera that was mounted in the Senate chamber at the floor so that it would not record rioters entering. Bozell’s attorney David B. Deitch said that neither he nor his client had any comment at this time. Bozell made an initial appearance Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather, who released him ahead of his trial on the condition that he stay away from the District. Bozell did not enter a plea. His next hearing date is April 21. Bozell’s father is the founder of a group of right-wing news outlets, including the Media Research Center, NewsBusters and CNSNews. Bozell’s grandfather L. Brent Bozell Jr. was a speechwriter for Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) and ghostwriter of 1964 GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater’s book, “The Conscience of a Conservative.” Bozell is also the grandnephew of William F. Buckley Jr., founder of the National Review and a leading conservative intellectual, who once described his greatest achievement as purging the conservative movement in the latter part of the 20th century of “extremists­, bigots, kooks, anti-Semites and racists.” Apparently you failed, Bill.

MCCONNELL AND TRUMP ARE FEUDING OVER POST-IMPEACHMENT REMARKS: After voting to acquit Mr. Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot that invaded the Senate chamber, Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, began a fiery tirade, declaring him “practically and morally responsible” for the assault. In essence, Mr. McConnell said he found Mr. Trump guilty but not subject to impeachment as a private citizen. The strategy appeared twofold: Don’t stoke a full-on revolt by Trump supporters the party needs by voting to convict, but demonstrate to anti-Trump Republicans — particularly big donors — that he recognized Mr. Trump’s failings and is beginning to steer the party in another direction. But it did not exactly produce the desired result. Instead, it has drawn Mr. McConnell into a vicious feud with the former president, who lashed out at him on Tuesday as a “dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack,” and given new cause for Republican division that could spill into the midterm elections. And it has left some Republicans bewildered over Mr. McConnell’s strategy and others taking a harder line, saying the leader whose focus was always the next election had hurt the party’s 2022 prospects. Mr. Johnson said Republicans cannot win without the ardent Trump supporters now alienated by Mr. McConnell’s denunciation of Mr. Trump. He lumped the Republican leader in with the Lincoln Project and other anti-Trump Republicans who tried to “purge” the party of Trumpism. “They are not perceiving reality,” he said. “You are not going to be able to have them on your side if you are ripping the person they have a great deal of sympathy for in what he has done for this country and the personal toll President Trump has shouldered,” he said.



I'll stay with you as long as I can...

The severity of this storm here in my area is still a big question mark, but it's a good bet that I will lose power sometime today. And although I can still monitor the page using my IPhone, that charge won't last very long. Fingers crossed...