Tuesday News: Keep it public

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GOVERNOR'S OFFICE WANTS COMMITTEE INTERVIEWS, NOT PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS: Following criticism for refusing to allow agency employees to be interviewed by private investigators hired by the legislature, Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration is requesting a public committee meeting where agency representatives would answer questions about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline approval process. Cooper chief of staff Kristi Jones wrote to the legislative oversight committee probing the issue last week. “We have provided you the requested documents, answered your questions and appeared before your committees numerous times on this subject, yet you insist that we answer even more questions from private Republican investigators who should be paid for by the Republican Party and not North Carolina taxpayers,” Jones wrote. Her letter was first reported by WRAL reporter Travis Fain on Twitter.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article225497220.html

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Good news, for now:

Not sure whose bright idea this was, but you don't just casually uproot hundreds of workers if you're being thoughtful.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline now a $7.5 Billion nightmare

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But that won't stop the fossil fuel industry from wreaking havoc on the environment:

The company said previously the project would cost an estimated $6.5 billion-$7.0 billion, excluding financing, and be completed in mid 2020 due to delays caused by numerous environmental lawsuits. “We remain highly confident in the successful and timely resolution of all outstanding permit issues as well as the ultimate completion of the entire project,” Dominion Chief Executive Thomas Farrell said in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings release.

He noted the company was “actively pursuing multiple paths to resolve all outstanding permit issues including judicial, legislative and administrative avenues.”

In other words, we will use our leverage in all three branches of the government to get what we want. I'm still "undecided" on the deal Governor Cooper struck, but I will say this: The move by General Assembly Republicans to grab that money and spend it on schools instead of environmental mitigation should be seen for what it is, a way to avoid school spending from the General Fund while also hurting environmental efforts. Because that's what they do, whenever they get a chance. The Mountain Valley Pipeline is also getting more expensive:

Monday News: Rolling the health care dice

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NC SWITCHING MEDICAID TO MANAGED CARE MODEL: North Carolina is shifting most Medicaid programs from traditional fee-for-service coverage to those in which companies or medical networks get flat monthly amounts for each patient covered. Instead of paying doctors and hospitals for every test and procedure, Medicaid would allow these "prepaid health plans" to keep whatever's left over after medical expenses and activities. While keeping patients healthier could boost plan profits, sicker patients could mean losses. The alterations should influence the debate over whether it makes sense at the same time to bring another 300,000 to 500,000 new low- and middle-income enrollees on board through expansion. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and party allies, who made legislative seat gains last November that gives them more negotiating leverage, are making expansion a top priority this year. Legislative Republicans have blocked it for years.
https://www.wral.com/as-expansion-debate-grows-major-changes-soon-for-medicaid/18166845/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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TIME TO SHUT DOWN NC'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP: Amid the recent discussion over the effectiveness of the state’s economic development efforts, a new report this week exposed a less than flattering assessment of the private Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. The creation of the five-year-old partnership was a top priority of former Gov. Pat McCrory and the leadership of the General Assembly – who’d contended the state’s economic development efforts would be far better in private hands – and save taxpayer money with the use of private funding. It turned out to be meddling in a place that didn’t need it. As the partnership’s contract expires in October, it has little to show that it has met the effectiveness promised with its establishment. In fact, there’s little evidence of any improvement on what it replaced. There’s no way to tell just who is in charge.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-time-to-shut-down-the-economic-development-partnership-of-n-c/18161491/

Gene Nichol on poverty: "They are invisible to us."

Should be required reading for all Democratic candidates:

Nichol builds his case by weaving together the ugly data points about income, education, jobs, and health care with personal anecdotes from hundreds of interviews with the people most affected. It adds up to a damning narrative about a large and growing underclass fostered by callous policy-making in Raleigh and Washington.

“Scarcely a word about poverty is uttered in the halls of the General Assembly,” he writes. “Recent North Carolina governors have almost never mentioned it, regardless of political party.”

In defending our small town's public transportation funding, I've spoken several times about our collective responsibility to do what we can to ameliorate some of aspects of poverty. And I get a lot of nods, and polite applause. I have no doubt most of those folks are genuinely concerned, but I also have no doubt most of them don't believe anything will work. They're willing to dedicate a small amount of resources to it, but that's more about "feeling good" than it is about actually bringing about change. The book is available on Amazon and other outlets, and at UNC Press:

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