nc policy watch

Duane Hall floats conspiracy theory to explain sexual harassment crisis

Which also happens to be a classic defense mechanism of a serial harasser:

In a late Sunday night phone conversation with WUNC Hall again denied the allegations laid out in the original story, and said he believes it stems from a personal relationship.

“The father of my ex-girlfriend is the executive director of NC Policy Watch,” Hall said, referring to Megan Glazier, the daughter of Rick Glazier. “They worked on the story for months and released on the last day of primary filing, with unnamed sources. They have a journalistic obligation to disclose those personal conflicts, but did not. There is a big difference between reporting a story, and creating a story.” “This was a personal vendetta.”

To say I find this "very unlikely" is an understatement. The first hurdle of disbelief to hop over is the idea that Rick Glazier would use his position at the NC Justice Center to do such a thing, to carry out a personal vendetta. But let's say we make it over that jump in one piece, and can keep running. Now we have to leap over the idea that Rob Schofield would play along. A man who has dedicated 12 years to building the structure and integrity of NC Policy Watch. Not gonna happen. But since we're already in fantasy-land, let's assume that record-breaking jump was successful. Now we've got to convince Billy Ball to be a co-conspirator, a man who has been neck-deep in journalistic reporting since before he even graduated from UNC. That's fifteen years of building a reputation of credibility and accuracy. The idea that any of these guys, much less all three, would even want to engage in a fraudulent smear campaign, much less jeopardize their integrity and careers over it, ranks up there somewhere near chem-trails on the crazy conspiracy chart. Three strikes, you're out Duane.

Parsing the propaganda: Lisa Sorg rips DEQ promotional video

Van der Vaart is in deep trouble:

DvdV: “Hello, I’m Donald van der Vaart, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality. I’m here to talk to you about the action North Carolina has taken to protect the environment, public health, and the communities that have been affected by the long-ignored problem of coal ash.”

NCPW: As DEQ secretary, van der Vaart has the power to allow Duke Energy to miss its deadline to remedy impoundments and coal ash residue. The utility can blow its deadline if for some reason, it can’t use the “best available technology found to be economically reasonable” and it would produce a “serious hardship” without an equal or greater public benefit. Translation: If it’s too expensive.

Among her many other talents, Lisa has an uncanny ability to pull up the rug to see what trash has been swept under it. Hat-tip to NC Policy Watch for bringing her on board:

'Twas the night before Christmas

Chris Fitzsimon should have been NC's Poet Laureate:

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through Raleigh town
Politicians filed for the next election round.
There was Richard and Deborah; don’t forget Chris Rey.
For GOP governor, Bob Brawley had a say.

Brawley’s filing annoyed the Guv’s re-election hunt
So they leaked scary emails to “news” team Jones & Blount.
The list of GA candidates is worth a gander,
So many unopposed, the winner’s Gerry Mander.

Take the time to read the whole thing, it's worth it. The sad thing is, even though it's a long poem, it still doesn't cover half of the idiotic and inhumane actions of the current "leaders" of our state. Here's another taste:

Yanking away the ladder

NC Policy Watch's Altered State series continues:

The unemployed have been subjected to especially severe treatment. North Carolina cut its benefits to the lowest levels in the nation, from a maximum of $535 a week to $350. The reduction rendered more than 170,000 long-term unemployed residents ineligible for additional federal benefits in the second half of 2013. North Carolina was the only state to reject this federal money, even as its unemployment rate topped the national average.

The lowered benefits have pushed some people into a downward spiral difficult to shake off. Ramona Aragon of Durham lost her job as an administrative assistant in March. It was the first time she’d ever been laid off, and she immediately applied for unemployment benefits while she looked for new work. But 15 weeks went by without her application being processed, and, with her savings depleted, she had to sell her belongings and move back into her parents’ home with her two children, 13 and 7.

As depressing as it may be, revisiting these issues is a critical exercise for advocates and those seeking political change. We can't allow the victims of the GOP's warped worldview to fade into obscurity, because they are still suffering and desperately need a remedy that can only be provided in the voting booth.

Another Step Towards School Privatization

Thanks to Lindsay Wagner at NC Policy Watch, I can call your attention to this news in education. Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg) has gutted SB 95 and replaced it with language that will take low performing NC elementary schools, put them into a special Achievement School District (ASD) and turn them over to for-profit charter management companies. The plan is to start with the 5 lowest performing elementary schools, but if this is enacted, I fully expect to see it regularly expanded until all of North Carolina’s traditional public schools have been privatized.

How to bleed a bank account the NCGOP way

My, my. The following comment found its way to an unusual place. A place to promote an agenda through some bizarre sense of dialogue while simultaneously bleeding the bank accounts of the ideological and ignorant. North Carolina GOP’s Facebook page.

The NC GOP is a disgrace to North Carolina! You continually push for and pass unconstitutional laws that waste out tax dollars.

Whither Kansas, & Will NC Follow?

“Hope you’ll visit us in Kansas. We need your sales tax revenue.”

So said Annie McKay, Executive Director of of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth at yesterday’s Crucial Conversation held by NC Policy Watch. The room was packed with North Carolinians concerned for our state’s financial health in the wake of drastic tax changes enacted by NCGA leadership.

The Scotch Bonnet dilemma

When former Governor Mike Easley of North Carolina bought into Cannonsgate in Carteret County years ago, a developer and or real estate broker got giddy. The purchase put prestige and a big commission into someone’s pocket. Easley’s .36 acre waterfront lot according to Carteret County Assistant Tax Administrator Ralph Foster, was valued at $1,198,245.00 one year later. Easley paid $549,880.00 for a patch of sand. Assuming the standard 6% commission, $32,992.80 was a nice payday.

A brutal assessment of McCrory's failure to keep his word

I ask forgiveness in advance from Chris Fitzsimon for publishing his entire column here. Knowing that many people don't click through to links, I wanted to make sure that everyone in yelling distance reads this candid and on-the-mark assessment of what has happened in Raleigh. My apologies to NC Policy Watch for this breach of protocol.

The stories are coming fast and furious now. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that schools in Rockingham County, the home of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, don’t have enough textbooks to go around and there’s no money to make copies or even buy toilet paper for the bathrooms.

School officials are searching for a warehouse to collect donated classroom supplies. The public schools are the new struggling charity in town.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the state court system is almost paralyzed by lack of funding. The courts, already woefully behind in technology, have experienced a 25 percent cut in technology staff in the last five years.

The percentage of criminal cases more than two years old has doubled in the last four years, leaving defendants and victims waiting for justice. The percentage of civil cases that old have tripled, leaving businesses unable to resolve legal disputes they must address before they can expand or increase their investments in their communities.

Money to pay jurors will run out in a few months, long before the end of the fiscal year.

Thousands of low-income parents across the state are finding out they will no longer receive child care subsidies that allow them to work or go back to school to learn a marketable skill. The leaders of the General Assembly changed the eligibility guidelines to save money. That’s why they cut education budgets too and refused desperate pleas from court officials for more funding. They had a massive tax cut for the wealthy and corporations to pay for and the bill is growing.

When lawmakers passed the great tax shift of 2013 that gave millionaires a $10,000 tax break, they told us it would cost the state $513 million in the current fiscal year of 2014-2015. Since then the projected cost has risen to $704 million and may increase to a billion dollars before year’s end.

That’s a lot of textbooks, court technology and day care subsidies.

And it was not supposed to be this way according to someone who has the final say, Governor Pat McCrory. McCrory told the General Assembly in his State of the State speech in 2013 that any tax reform must be revenue neutral, that it must bring in the same amount of money that the tax system was generating for the state before the changes were made. And yet the tax legislation that McCrory signed last year is now at least $700 million away from neutral and he knew it was out of balance when he signed it.

That decision, to break his commitment to a revenue neutral tax plan, ranks among the most devastating of the long list of bad choices made by state leaders in the last few years.

That’s not even taking into account the startling regressive nature of the tax changes that gives millionaires their windfall while ending the state Earned Income Tax Credit that helps low-wage workers. More than two-thirds of the 2013 tax cuts are going to the wealthiest one percent of North Carolinians.

The tax cuts were a disaster all on their own, apart from the benefits directed to the wealthy, because of the cuts they forced lawmakers to make in state services to pay for them, from schools to courts to safety net programs like child care and low-income housing.

McCrory has never said much about breaking his commitment, other than one clumsy and belated effort to redefine what revenue neutral means. He was right the first time. The last thing the state needed after the Great Recession devastated state revenues and forced deep budget cuts was to force another round of cuts on its own by slashing revenues again. But that’s exactly what the General Assembly did and what Gov. McCrory allowed with his signature on the tax shift bill in 2013.

Senator Jeff Tarte told the Charlotte Observer recently that financially-strapped state agencies are asking lawmakers for money the state doesn’t have and that the budget process “operates like a United Way” with everybody making requests. But the United Way doesn’t start out by giving away half its available resources to the wealthiest families in town and then throw up its hands at all the requests for assistance from soup kitchens and say there’s not money available to help.

The top economist at the General Assembly recently confirmed that state revenues are running almost $200 million below projections for the year. And that’s even after adjusting once for the rising costs of the 2013 tax cuts.

It’s too bad Governor McCrory didn’t live up to his commitment in 2013. You will be reading about the repercussions of that decision for years to come in stories about desperate schools, paralyzed courts, and struggling families in your community.


Subscribe to RSS - nc policy watch