Republican crooks

Newby pulls a Trump: Challenging mail-in votes in counties he lost

Because suppressing voters is apparently now considered Conservative Justice:

Republican Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby filed an election protest against the New Hanover County Board of Elections late Thursday evening in his race for Chief Justice against incumbent Democrat Cheri Beasley. New Hanover is one of eight counties that received a similar protest from Newby in recent days, citing alleged absentee by-mail irregularities.

Newby trails behind Beasley by 5,007 votes in New Hanover County. At this point, all votes have been tabulated with no remaining ballots left to consider. However, because of Newby’s complaint, the New Hanover County Board of Elections certified canvass results in all contests except the Chief Justice and Attorney General’s race — the two contests Newby listed in his protest.

Aside from the fact he's just throwing poop against the wall to see what will stick, including the NC AG's race in his efforts is a gargantuan conflict of interest. He's trying to manipulate who will be coming before him (if he remains on the Court) in the vast majority of cases that are pushed up to the NC Supreme Court. Look at the docket if you doubt me. Billy Bob vs. the State of North Carolina is the bread, butter, and sweet tea of that august body, and stacking the AG's office with Conservative lawyers will give Newby even more influence than he could wield as Chief Justice alone. The fact he doesn't grasp that or doesn't care is just one more reason he's not qualified to even be a Supreme Court Justice, much less the Chief. But also like Trump, Newby is losing these battles swiftly:

The legacy of Cherie Berry: Employers stealing from workers

And of course it's the bottom rung getting shafted the worst:

This report looks specifically at employers’ failure to pay the minimum wage to their employees at in the 10 most populous states, including North Carolina, and reveals the magnitude of the impact of wage theft on the low income workers who are least able to withstand it.

Workers in the food and drink industry suffer the highest rates of minimum wage violations, followed by agricultural workers (some of whom are not covered by minimum wage laws), leisure and hospitality, and retail workers. Unsurprisingly, women, young people, people of color, non-citizens, workers with lower levels of education, unmarried, workers, and workers without the protection of a union contract are disproportionately affected, though that is primarily because they are also more likely to be low wage workers.

For some reason, this reminds me of those cat videos, where the feline is perched on a counter top, steadily knocking items off onto the floor in contempt. Berry is that cat, knocking off various groups of workers whom she judges not worthy of her care or consideration. But this national report comes as no surprise to those who have been following her dereliction of duty for so many years:

Tim Moore is the master of pork barrel politics

It's good to have friends in high places:

On June 27, state lawmakers were in the throes of hashing out the 2016-17 budget, when tucked on page 182, a new line item appeared, as if by magic: a $1.5 million grant for water and sewer upgrades and dam repair at John H. Moss Reservoir in Cleveland County.

It’s clear from the minutes that the money could benefit the lake — if indeed, that’s how the funds are spent — but it also could increase the home values of several people closely connected to Moore’s campaign. According to Moore’s campaign finance reports from 2014 to 2016, Donna Mabry, Moore’s treasurer, and Misty Greene, a campaign volunteer, live on Moss Lake. Contributors James Testa ($1,500) Robert Arey ($700), William Shipley ($300) and Ellis Monroe ($200) also live there. Dennis Bailey ($250), works for ReMax realty, which sells homes in Cleveland County, including several on the lake.

The only thing missing from this tawdry tale is Moore getting "a really good deal" on a lakehouse some time in the near future. We'll be watching.

Privatized school construction and Legislative corruption

The Ethics Commission might as well not exist:

A group interested in local economic development called Robeson for Advancement is lobbying for the bill. The group’s manager is Aaron Thomas, president of the construction company Metcon. Patrick Ballantine, a former state senator and GOP gubernatorial candidate, is the group’s lobbyist. The bill’s main sponsor is state Sen. Wesley Meredith, a Fayetteville Republican. He owns a landscaping company that has won work as a Metcon subcontractor.

Meredith said he isn’t pushing the bill to benefit his company. “This is a way to build schools,” he said. Meredith said he would start moving the bill through Senate committees this week.

Oh. Well, in that case, as long as you promise you're not in it for the money, I guess we shouldn't worry about it. Now, replace "Wesley Meredith" with "Tony Rand" or "Marc Basnight," and imagine the Republican heads exploding after such a comment. Where's Don Carrington? Crickets. Where's the special 7-part series on government corruption from the News & Observer? You'll have to dig into the Archives for that, pre-2010. In the newly-revised GOP dictionary, "corruption" is now synonymous with "prosperity" and "opportunity."

Lee Roberts utilizes "fuzzy math" to justify prison contract

The trail of evidence gets slimier by the foot:

A study submitted to the General Assembly by top prison officials had concluded that private maintenance would result in “no significant savings” for taxpayers, but State Budget Director Lee Roberts criticized that study as flawed.

Roberts said his review was different from that conducted by the governor’s office: “They don’t have the time or the ability to review technical matters.” In December, Roberts said his budget office analysis showed the state would save $1 million a year. (Keith had said the annual savings were $413,000.)

When Art Pope "retired" as Budget Director for McCrory, it was generally accepted that his replacement would be less influential in the Governor's Cabinet. I'm not so sure anymore. Not trying to "excuse" McCrory from any wrongdoings in this fiasco, but he is definitely not a "mastermind" of anything. The new Budget Director (Roberts) and the prison maintenance contractor (Keith) have one possibly big thing in common: They are both deeply involved in the murky world of land/real estate investment and development. And those transactions dwarf the mere $12,000 in campaign contributions Graeme Keith gave to McCrory. Just food for thought, as you ponder which slice of pie you might be able to squeeze in on top of all the other stuff.

The devil in the details: Trudy Wade's "stealth" earmark


When your neutrality is just a flimsy facade:

High Point’s Library Plaza project also won’t have to compete with other towns and cities. Of the $2 million allocated for the Main Street Solutions fund, the budget bill requires $1 million to go to a city with a population between 105,000 and 110,000 located in a county that changed its state poverty ranking last year.

High Point is the only city that fits the bill.

Half of the entire budget going to one project. Which is probably why Wade felt the need to add an extra layer of obfuscation. It's exactly these kinds of "tailor-made" budget allocations that Republicans used to trumpet loudly about, when they complained about "Democrat corruption" in the General Assembly. But now it's just clever lawmaking.

Bob Hall pushes for further investigation of sweepstakes corruption

But the system may be too subverted to take on the job:

“The report doesn’t connect the dots to all the money that changed hands,” Hall said Wednesday. “The DA and U.S. attorney have additional tools to investigate bribery, tax evasion, racketeering and public corruption. They need to use those tools for this case, as they have in the past.” Freeman said among her options is asking the State Bureau of Investigation to look into it further.

The SBI began looking into campaign donations from the video sweepstakes industry early last year, but by July, when the elections board report was made public, the agency said the case was closed. Freeman said she didn’t anticipate taking the matter to a grand jury without further investigation.

I find it interesting the SBI has the capacity to create blood-splatter evidence when it wants to railroad an innocent man straight to death row, but they can't follow a well-lit trail of illegal gambling proceeds without giving up and heading back home. Maybe because that trail was leading to their boss in the Governor's mansion:

Report details massive fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars by the charter school industry

Enough to buy a shitload of public school textbooks:

The 2015 report cites $203 million, including the 2014 total plus $23 million in new cases, and $44 million in earlier cases not included in last year’s report.

It notes that these figures only represent fraud and waste in the charter sector uncovered so far, and that the total that federal, state and local governments “stand to lose” in 2015 is probably more than $1.4 billion. It says, “The vast majority of the fraud perpetrated by charter officials will go undetected because the federal government, the states, and local charter authorizers lack the oversight necessary to detect the fraud.”

The lack of oversight wasn't an oversight on the part of Republicans, they're counting on it. In the absence of that needed fraud detection, they can continue to expand the program until the private sector gains a controlling interest in public education. And some of them probably genuinely believe that fraud and abuse in the private sector is still better than efficiency and good results from government entities. Which is reason #27 why they need to be booted out of the Legislature.

Inefficiency and out-of-control spending, GOP style

If this is responsible government, I'd hate to see their reckless side:

Rubin agreed to analyze the study and discuss his findings with prosecutors at a reduced government rate of $850 an hour, which would have increased to $1,250 if he had testified. Rubin paid a doctoral student assistant and all expenses, including one trip each made to North Carolina, with some of the money, he said in an email last week.

Finalizing terms of the contract delayed its approval for two months, by which time Rubin said he had already put in 45 hours of work, totaling $38,000. Since the state couldn’t retroactively enter into a contract, it paid him from a fund for expert witnesses and approved a $22,000 personal services contract for the remaining hours of the work.

After agreeing to pay this Harvard professor such an insane amount of money for so little work, Republicans in the General Assembly have the audacity to complain about UNC System professors not teaching enough classes for their salaries? The word "hypocrisy" just doesn't seem to capture the level of irony involved in this case, but this one is even more ironic:

Foxx gets caught in the fraudulent for-profit college henhouse

Fruit from the contaminated tree:

Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit "educational" special interest that has been busted for defrauding students (and the general public), has long had its tongue on Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's private parts. Open Secrets lists Corinthian Colleges among Foxx's biggest contributors. They've held fundraising receptions for her for several years.

Aside from the unsettling mental image I'm dealing with from that less-than-oblique oral sex reference, Jerry deserves several back-pats for taking on the unholy task of monitoring Virginia Foxx and her greedy supporters. We really need to spend the time and money to send her packing from Congress. Or test all the water wells in her Congressional District. Something is wrong with those people...


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