Wednesday News: Public money, private profits

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TIM MOORE AIDE PRESSURED DEQ OVER GRANT FOR POLLUTION CLEANUP: In March 2016, a top aide to House Speaker Tim Moore asked a state Department of Environmental Quality official about two underground storage tanks removed from a former chicken processing plant in Siler City that was up for sale. One of those tanks had leaked gas. “Mitch Gillespie is asking about the status of the Siler City UST (underground storage tank) issue,” Caroline Daly, DEQ’s legislative liaison, wrote in the March 2, 2016, email to the section chief who oversees underground tank regulations. “Do you know what this is about and can give me an update to share?” That triggered several emails within the department. Within hours, DEQ officials reported back that the site had the green light for entry into a state program that subsidizes the cleanup costs for underground tanks. Daly then relayed the decision to Gillespie so he could pass it along to the property owners, who ultimately received $22,000 from the state. Among them: his boss, Speaker Moore.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article223925075.html

The tragedy that is Senator Thom Tillis

If you follow the never-ending propaganda produced by Thom Tillis, you know the junior Senator from North Carolina has recently shifted into full-scale campaign mode. After four years of literally doing nothing, Tillis seems to realize that two more lackluster years would cost him dearly. As a result, he is literally scrambling to rehabilitate his image. It's not going well.

The state of mediocrity

An excellent editorial, received today via email from WRAL.

When it comes to excellence, North Carolina seems satisfied with achieving unparalleled mediocrity.

Why work to be the best when the state can continue to give unnecessary tax breaks to corporations – on top of massive federal tax cuts? Then, after revenues dry up, explain away stagnation with “that’s the best we can do with the money we have” to deliver important government responsibilities that are just alright? It’s government on the cheap. In too many cases, North Carolina taxpayers aren’t even getting what they pay for.

North Carolina is among the bottom half of states in per-student public school spending and average pay for public school teachers.

The state’s dropped to 40th with a “C-“ grade in Education Week’s “2018 Quality Counts” report card on public education. North Carolina received a C- grade and a score of 70.6 out of a possible 100 in the 2018 Quality Counts report released this week by Education Week. That’s below the national grade of C and score of 74.5. North Carolina’s score put it 40th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. That’s a DROP of two slots from a year earlier.

Tuesday News: Stolen valor

AG JOSH STEIN SUPPORTS CHALLENGE OF COLUMBUS COUNTY SHERIFF: Republican Jody Greene unseated then-Columbus County Sheriff and Democrat Lewis Hatcher by just 34 votes this fall. Several protests of those results are pending with the state Board of Elections. Under state law and the North Carolina Constitution, an election shall not be certified while such petitions are pending. Nonetheless, Columbus County officials swore in Jody Greene as sheriff last month. A state elections board spokesman said Greene should not have been sworn in and that Hatcher should still be Columbus County sheriff. A petition against his victory includes charges that absentee ballots were mishandled by L. McRae Dowless. Dowless is the campaign operative at the heart of the investigation into alleged election fraud in North Carolina's 9th congressional district. The North Carolina Attorney General's office authorized Hatcher's attorney to file a superior court complaint on behalf of the state.
http://www.wunc.org/post/constitutional-crisis-could-be-brewing-columbus-county

Tuesday Twitter roundup

This is almost funny:

That's right, in his rush to avoid answering questions from the media, Mark Harris tripped an emergency alarm on his way out. And then later blamed it on football:

Congressional Democrats vow to intervene if court tries to force certification of Harris

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And it appears they have the authority to do just that:

The House Democratic investigations could pave the way for a new election in the district, even if the court orders the board of elections to certify Harris as the winner instead of the board ordering a re-vote itself. The House Administration Committee, now controlled by Democrats, has the authority to call for another election after investigating the 2018 results.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who is slated to chair an election-focused subcommittee of the House Administration Committee, told POLITICO that the House will intervene if the North Carolina court ordered the election certified for Harris before the state investigation has concluded. Any House member could object to seating Harris and block him, triggering an investigation by Fudge's committee.

It might seem like a trivial detail, but you'll notice from the headline above I didn't say, "...court tries to certify Harris." Because it does not have that authority. It does, however, have the authority to "direct" the NC BoE to certify Harris, via Writ of Mandamus. But Congress itself has the final say, apparently:

Monday News: Crooked Creek blues

SPARKS WILL FLY AT WAKE COMMISSIONERS MEETING OVER SALE OF PARKLAND: This proposal will likely be supported by board Chairwoman Jessica Holmes and Commissioner James West. They, along with Ford, were the three votes against purchasing the property last summer. Commissioners Matt Calabria and Sig Hutchinson, long-time supporters of the proposed park, will likely oppose selling it. Ford has called selling the property a correction to “an unprecedented and controversial action.” Calabria and Hutchinson have said buying the property $45,000 below market value was an excellent deal to help bring a park into an area where there are no county parks currently. That leaves both factions trying to win over new commissioners Vickie Adamson and Susan Evans. It’s just their second meeting as commissioners, and neither has said how she’ll vote. But last year’s contentious primary might give people an idea.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article223923295.html

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