scharrison's blog

Silent Sham may cost UNC millions in grant money

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The high price of irresponsibility:

UNC-Chapel Hill spokeswoman Kate Luck confirmed late Thursday that the school "is in conversations with the Mellon Foundation, one of our most valued external partners, about their concerns related to the UNC System’s legal settlement regarding the Confederate Monument.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is one of the largest charitable foundations in the world and a key funder of academic research. According to its publicly available database, it awarded UNC-Chapel Hill seven Mellon grants over the last three years, totaling more than $7 million​.

It's likely Republicans won't be that concerned over this, because the bulk of the Mellon grants are targeted to the Humanities, as opposed to medical research. But as a former history major myself, I have been following the UNC Humanities for several years now, and this division has contributed greatly to both the culture of NC via the arts, and a much better understanding of the social fabric holding us together. The last thing we need to do is undermine projects like this:

Eastern NC's bond reform is a model for the rest of the state

"Innocent until proven guilty" means nothing when you're behind bars:

Two major changes are in store. The first is magistrates, instead of relying on a set list of bond fees correlating with a certain class of crime, will instead decide bond or no-bond with a flow chart that narrows down whether someone should have a secured bond, or should be released on a promise to appear in court, to another person willing to ensure they show up in court or on an unsecured bond.

The second is Beaufort County's District Court will hold a bond hearing every week to ensure that those charged with minor crimes are not sitting in the county jail solely because they cannot afford bail.

Our criminal justice system has many flaws, but this one threatens the core of our democracy. Pre-trial incarceration, especially for those charged with non-violent crimes, is a direct violation of our Constitutional rights. I say "our" rights because Americans are quick to dismiss the rights of others, but become very interested when the situation gets personal. It is a shameful facet of our society, and one we may grow to regret dearly. I'll let the ACLU explain it more deeply:

Civil rights group set to file lawsuit over Silent Sham

Let's get this party started:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has been talking with potential student and faculty litigants, the group’s executive director said in an interview with Policy Watch Tuesday. They plan to file this week.

“In our view, the Sons of Confederate Veterans has perpetrated a fraud upon the court,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the committee. “They have made false representations to the court about their standing, about their ownership interest in the monument. It is clear this settlement agreement was one negotiated before the filing of the suit and a letter from SCV’s leader makes it clear they knew they lacked standing and had no jurisdiction to present this matter to the court.”

Anticipating the inevitable and painfully ironic mantra, "Another frivolous lawsuit from the Librals, who can't stand all the #Winning!" Or something equally noxious. At best, Republicans caved to a lawsuit before it was even filed. At worst, they conspired to file a lawsuit against themselves. This whole episode needs to be closely scrutinized in a court of law, and the Discovery alone will be worth the exercise:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Chapter 12 in the one-upmanship of Dan Forest:

In another post Justin is wondering just how Forest got a hold of 100,000 teacher e-mail addresses, but that's an easy one to answer: Mark Johnson.

Monday Numbers: NC's CAFO nightmare is getting worse

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Complaints about the handling of animal wastes are on the rise:

Stench and flies. Noise and traffic. Waste flowing into waterways. Manure-infused spray. Complaints about industrialized livestock farms prompted the NC Department of Environmental Quality to inspect those facilities at the second-highest rate in 10 years, according to a report recently submitted to the legislative Environment Review Commission.

From June 30, 2018, to July 1, 2019, 8.3% – or 215 – of the 2,571 state inspections were driven by complaints. In the the previous fiscal year, the rate was 9.4%, the highest in at least a decade. In 2016, only eight-tenths of 1% of DEQ inspections were the result of complaints: Just 19 of 2,237 total inspections.

And again the "property rights" crowd from NC's faux-Libertarian "think-tanks" are either silent or on the wrong side. There is simply no justification for one neighbor to spray shit on another neighbor, but it happens daily. Imagine if that were a suburban or urban neighborhood, and the sheer outrage that would ensue. Oh, you want to have a cookout or garden party in the back yard? Here's a little airborne gift for you. That contradiction goes to the core of environmental justice issues across the state, and has been that way since the birth of our nation. And hog farms make up the bulk of those operations:

GOP propaganda about tuition cuts for children of veterans way off-base

The blame lies solely on their shoulders:

The DMVA received $9.19 million annually to fund the program, Hall said in a statement Thursday. But last year, he said, the General Assembly allocated an extra $2.4 million to increase the room and board allowance. Hall asked for the same level of funding from legislators for the 2019-20 academic year, according to the statement.

“Despite passing multiple priority funding bills throughout the summer and fall, legislators adjourned without providing additional funds for this program,” he said in the statement. “Recipient institutions were notified of the impact to room and board awards on November 25.”

What was in the Budget hardly matters considering it was Vetoed. But it's that second part that people need to pay attention to. Republicans in the General Assembly passed several "mini-budgets" before throwing in the towel for the year, but the (needed) additional funding for these students didn't make it. You know what did make it? A reduction in the Franchise Tax for businesses (subsequently Vetoed), and an IT funding bill which included $10 million for Montreat College to host a cybersecurity research center it isn't qualified to host:

Report: Onshore damage from offshore drilling can be devastating

Wherever the oil flows, the risk is great:

Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center’s Offshore Drilling, Onshore Damage delves into a series of possible adverse impacts offshore drilling would have on land well beyond state’s beaches.

The report released Wednesday highlights the infrastructure needed on land to support offshore drilling. Construction of pipelines and potential ruptures of those lines, the possibility of spills at marine and port terminals, construction or expansion of oil refineries, and on-land disposal of offshore waste generated from drilling are “less known, but no less real,” according to the report.

The drilling is bad enough, but the transportation of crude oil has also been a major source of pollution and massive spills:

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