NCGA

Mark Johnson is the subject of ethics probe over campaign texts

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When your moral compass hasn't worked for years:

Multiple complaints were filed earlier this month after Johnson sent hundreds of thousands of emails and text messages to public school families and employees trumpeting his opposition to Common Core.

The timing of the campaign raised eyebrows since Johnson had been almost silent on Common Core throughout his tenure as superintendent, choosing to launch his vocal opposition just as voting began in the primary for Lieutenant Governor–an office he is seeking.

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for the Ethics Commission to actually do anything substantial over this. Made that mistake in the past, won't do it again. But if anybody has any doubt about the connection between this text barrage and Johnson's campaign, he made that clear a few weeks ago:

Mapping NC's school-to-prison pipeline

Prejudice lies at every turn in the road:

The SCSJ used 2018-19 suspension data from the state’s 115 school districts to compile its report, which provides a “snapshot” of the so-called school-to-prison pipeline in each district. The pipeline is described as the system of policies and practices that push students out of school and into the juvenile and adult criminal justice system,

“The pipeline has three key entry points; academic failure, school discipline and court involvement,” SCJS researchers wrote. “Students of color are over-represented at each entry point to the pipeline in almost every school district in North Carolina, and once students enter the pipeline it can be difficult for them to re-engage and be successful at school.” Last year, the SCSJ found that Black students were 4.3 times more likely than white students to be suspended from school.

I had an unsettling conversation recently with a former teacher (white), which started out with, "You can't do anything for them, they won't let you!" As I probed a little deeper, it turned out this teacher would call on her black students for answers at the same rate as her white students. But since there were only 4-5 black students in her classes, compared to 20+ whites, that meant each black student was called upon every other day, if not every day. This particular teacher thought this was fair, and that she was (genuinely) trying to help them. But it's very likely her expectations of their potential success was clouded:

Litigants want NC Supreme Court to rule on GOP power grab session

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Arguably the most blatant abuse of power the NC GOP has engaged in:

Plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of a legislative session Republicans quickly called in 2016 to limit the power of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper before he could take office now want the state's highest court to hear their case.

Lawyers for Common Cause and ten citizens filed an appeal petition with the state Supreme Court on Tuesday, about a month after the Court of Appeals upheld the legality of the three-day session in December 2016. Republicans in charge of the House and Senate approved a pair of measures during the session that weakened Cooper's power as governor.

Understand, then-Governor Pat McCrory had just lost a bitterly-contested election, and NCGA Republicans knew that lame duck would gladly sucker-punch the man who defeated him. And the GOP used human suffering (hurricane relief) to launch a completely inappropriate and ethically void additional "special" session to wrest authority from the Executive and grant it to themselves. And instead of hanging their heads in shame, BergerMoore actually joked about it when questioned by reporters. Forget about political party designations for a moment; this kind of corrupt behavior needs to be checked by the Supreme Court, or the separation of powers framework could very easily collapse, taking the Court with it.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

For your information:

Unfortunately, the turnout I've witnessed so far in this Primary has been dismal. I voted Saturday shortly after noon and was the only voter present. My point is, if you vote absentee in order to avoid waiting in line, think again.

It's the babies, stupid: Collapse of rural health care endangers lives

No county should be without a maternity unit:

In the rural Appalachian county, where winters are harsh and narrow dirt roads make driving difficult even when the weather is clear, the maternity unit at Angel Medical Center was an important asset. But then in July 2017, Mission Health, which owns the hospital, closed the unit for financial reasons, leaving women in the community without an in-county option for childbirth.

The closure forces women to travel 20 miles south over a mountain to Harris Regional Hospital in neighboring Jackson County, or even to Asheville, an almost 70 mile trek northeast, to give birth. In some cases, women may even have to venture as far as Charlotte, more than 180 miles away, Garrett said.

It has been mentioned before, but it can be extremely frustrating trying to advocate for rural healthcare when many of your readers hail from the Triangle, Triad, or Queen City regions. And it doesn't help when faux-Libertarians seem to be more concerned about overturning Certificate of Need regulations than expanding coverage to areas that are medical deserts. And of course those same "advocates" are relentlessly attacking Medicaid Expansion, which is very likely the only lifeline for rural healthcare available. The hypocrisy is mind-numbing.

Lies, damn lies, and Silent Sham

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Now (finally) the payoff before the payoff is under scrutiny:

Days before that deal was approved, UNC leaders struck a side deal with the SCV for $74,999, purportedly to keep the group from displaying any Confederate flags or other banners during any demonstrations on UNC system campuses for five years. But Boyd Sturges, the SCV's attorney, later acknowledged that the money was passed through to the United Daughters of the Confederacy so the SCV could stake an ownership claim to Silent Sam. The UDC had paid some money to have the statue put on the Chapel Hill campus in the early 1900s.

The side agreement was put in place in case the $2.5 million settlement deal fell apart, according to Sturges, and Baddour didn’t address it when he threw out the main settlement.

Bolding mine, because that is exactly the opposite reason for that stealth $74,999 payment. The money was paid to facilitate the ownership transfer (between a husband and wife, if you can believe it), in order to ensure that the Sons of Confederate Veterans would have the standing they needed to move forward with the lawsuit. The big question is, was the UNC BOG aware of that subterfuge? If they were aware, they engaged in fraud and misdirection by cooking up a cover story for the expenditure of public funds. And not only did they misuse public funds, they did so in an effort to deceive and suborn NC's court system, as well. This case is begging for a formal investigation, and sooner rather than later.

Judge will allow offshore drilling case to move forward

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Apparently Trump isn't the legal eagle he thinks he is:

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel of Charleston has denied the Department of the Interior’s motion to dismiss lawsuits filed by several groups, including the South Carolina Attorney General’s office.

What it means is that the case will continued to be tried, said attorney Amy Armstrong with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, one of the drilling opponents. Meanwhile, the department at any time could issue permits to start the work anyway — a possibility that opponents say they are ready to fight.

Whales and dolphins have incredibly sensitive hearing, and can communicate with each other at vast distances. Their tympanic plate/membrane is in direct contact with sea water, and they use echolocation to defend against predators and avoid obstructions (like the rising shelf of landfall). Seismic blasting by oil companies looking for deposits can do permanent damage to their abilities, but even a short period of confusion can disrupt their migration and eventually prove fatal. Back to the lawsuit:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Shattering the myth of the booming economy:

And of course that 1/3 of lower wage earners also cannot afford health insurance. These are the people in the gap that Medicaid Expansion was designed for, but the NC GOP simply does not care about them.

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