scharrison's blog

NC House seats that need Democratic challengers

At this point there appears to be 33 House Districts unchallenged, with 9 days left in the filing period. Republican (incumbents or open seat challengers) candidates for each seat are listed:

HD4 (Jimmy Dixon)
HD9 (Greg Murphy)
HD10 (John Bell)
HD13 (Pat McElraft)
HD14 (George Cleveland)
HD28 (Larry Strickland)
HD36 **Julie von Haefen** vs. (Nelson Dollar)
HD46 (Brendan Jones)

The long list continues below...

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy pockets $231 million from Trump's tax scam

And that's just for the last three months of 2017:

Electric Utilities and Infrastructure recognized fourth quarter 2017 segment income of $826 million, compared to $483 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. In addition to the drivers outlined below, fourth quarter 2017 results were impacted by a $231 million benefit related to the Tax Act and a $14 million after-tax charge related to regulatory settlements. These amounts were treated as special items and excluded from
adjusted earnings.

On an adjusted basis, Electric Utilities and Infrastructure recognized fourth quarter 2017 adjusted segment income of $609 million, compared to $483 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of $0.18 per share.

A couple of clarifications: That net $826 million is from all utilities, not just those actually operating in North Carolina. But that was "netted" from about $3.2 billion dollars in revenues, for the 4th Quarter alone. And one of the best ways to judge just how profitable a company is, you need to look at stockholders' dividend payments:

Another round of layoffs at the Greensboro News & Record

So much for Warren Buffet coming to the rescue:

BH Media Group, a division of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A), citing a decline in advertising revenue, has laid off employees at its two newspapers in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, the company said Tuesday.

The company is reducing staff by six employees at the Greensboro News & Record and not filling five vacant positions, while one person was offered a different job. At its sister paper, the Winston-Salem Journal, one person has been let go, four vacant positions have been eliminated and another two people have been offered different positions.

That may not seem like a big deal, since they cut several times that number just a few years ago. But this one hurts maybe even more. Both Doug Clark and Susan Ladd were let go this time, two strong voices of reason in both their (newspaper) blogs and the editorial pages. They won't be replaced, they can't be replaced. And the overall tone of the paper will suffer. I know some people tend to avoid the editorial pages so they won't be pulled one way or another, but the truth is, those columns help us understand the impact of policy changes; what brought them about, and how they may affect us. And we just lost two of the best explainers.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Talk about a spike in attendance. There's usually only about 20 or so people at this monthly meeting:

And as a companion Tweet to that one:

Missouri episode exposes motives and methods of Russian propagandists

Throwing a gas can onto a tiny campfire:

Russian Twitter trolls pounced on the University of Missouri’s woes in 2015 using the same techniques they applied to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, a U.S. Air Force officer wrote in an article published recently in Strategic Studies Quarterly. In the aftermath of the Nov. 9, 2015, resignation of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe during protests over racial issues, some feared a violent white backlash.

It was fueled in part by a real post on the anonymous social app Yik-Yak from Hunter Park, then a student at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, that he would “shoot every black person I see.” The fear was enlarged and spread by a now-suspended Twitter account that warned, “The cops are marching with the KKK! They beat up my little brother! Watch out!” that included a photo of a black child with a severely bruised face and the hashtag #PrayForMizzou.

This might seem like an inappropriate or way off-topic post for BlueNC, but (imo) it is actually critical moving into the 2018 election season. While social media has completely changed the game on organizing and activism, turning out crowds that number in the thousands in just a short period of time, it has also become a minefield of click-bait and disinformation. We (each) have to be our own gatekeepers on Facebook and Twitter, taking that extra ten minutes to vet and verify stories before we aid and abet that disinformation by sharing or re-Tweeting. It's not a conspiracy theory that people are pushing conspiracy theories, there is a concerted effort to undermine and/or redirect the energies of well-meaning activists:

Bumpy road ahead for Robert Pittenger in NC9

Might be time to sell some of that property, dude:

In a much more expensive race in North Carolina’s 9th District, Republican incumbent Robert Pittenger is facing well-financed challengers in both the primary and the general. Pittenger is seen as vulnerable in the general election and has raised $780,000 compared to his Democratic challenger Dan McCready’s $1.2 million.

First, he needs to fend off his primary challenger — pastor and activist Mark Harris — who has raised more than twice as much money from individual donors as Pittenger. Harris also has nearly as much cash on hand as does Pittenger ($221,911 compared to Pittenger’s $286,607). Harris was narrowly defeated by Pittenger in 2016, so this race looks like a tight one for Pittenger both in May and November, if it makes it that far.

Just like last time around, I am torn on who to favor (or who to disfavor the most) in the GOP Primary. Pittenger has always been a greedy, opportunistic douchenozzle, but Mark Harris is a born-again, bigoted nut-job. He's guaranteed to be a champion of anti-choice legislation, and would likely take up the new approach of whittling down the number of weeks women have to legally terminate unwanted pregnancies. And of course he will oppose LGBT rights at every turn, just like he championed the ugliness of Amendment One here in NC. This article was found on his campaign page, and the recurring theme is obvious:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit against Duke Energy

coalash.jpg

When you have yet to clean up your mess, but still want to go outside and play:

A Duke Energy lawyer told a trio of judges on the state Court of Appeals the lawsuit filed by the state's environmental protection agency and joined by conservation groups should be dismissed. Coal ash, the residue left after decades of burning coal to generate power, can contain toxic materials like arsenic and mercury.

The company was in court in part because Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway has refused to dismiss the lawsuit. Ridgeway has indicated he would review the remediation plan the state Department of Environmental Quality approves, then decide independently whether the agency is requiring enough from Duke Energy to clean up the pollution, Long said.

It's no coincidence this legal gambit is taking place 13 days before Duke Energy's first substantial hearing on their massive rate hike request before the NC Utilities Commission. That case contains many "findings of fact" on Duke Energy's negligence in coal ash management, and if they can make that go away, it will strengthen their argument for a rate increase while severely weakening the opposition to it. And just to give a voice to those who will be adversely affected by this unreasonable action:

Patrick McHenry goes swimming with the loan sharks

PatrickMcHenry.jpg

Proving that weasels can swim if the mood hits them:

If you ever harbor any questions as to what Trumpism looks like in all of its corrupt, dog-eat-dog, predatory splendor, there are two classic examples from our nation’s capital today to jog your memory.

Exhibit One is the laughably entitled “Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017” — a bill on which the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today at the behest of its chief sponsor, North Carolina congressman Patrick McHenry. As you probably surmised, the measure has nothing to do with protecting consumers and is instead a blatant attempt by the payday lending industry’s favorite congressman to revive the discredited and predatory practice nationwide.

Just to give you an idea of the level of corruption that creeps in with some of these "career" lawmakers, McHenry receives around $100,000 from the payday lending industry every election cycle. They may not always be his top contributors, but they are as reliable as the sun coming up every morning. This pay-to-play nonsense is so blatant it has sparked more than one formal complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics:

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