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Archive for April, 2011

No landfill vote for Matheny

Greensboro City Council member Zack Matheny has recused himself from further debate over the possible reopening of the White Street landfill.

Both Matheny and fellow council member Robbie Perkins were awaiting a legal decision by city attorney Rita Danish as to whether or not they had conflicts of interest due to company business dealing with one of the potential contractors that would run the landfill. Matheny did not wait for Danish’s decision and notified her by letter yesterday.

I’d be surprised if Perkins recused himself; given the bizarre legal rulings Danish has made in Perkins’ favor, expect him to be voting.

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Get your CO2 permit

In CJ’s Friday interview with Donna Martinez John Locke Foundation director of legal and regulatory studies Daren Bakst analyzes the EPA’s ‘creative’ interpretation of federal law that requires businesses that emit greenhouse gases to get a permit:

Martinez: Exactly what is the EPA trying to do?

Bakst: Well, they’re trying to force businesses that make greenhouse gases to get permits to do so. And what happened — if they comply with what’s called the Clean Air Act, and they actually follow the law, it would have led to absurd results to require businesses to get permits, because if you follow the law, it would require basically almost anybody — maybe even you, Donna — to get a permit …

Martinez: Uh-oh.

Bakst: …to actually emit CO2. That’s right — that’s how extreme it is.

On a related note, Progress Energy customers can start looking for their energy hog letters in the mail as part of its ‘behavior modification model.’

I wish all this was one big joke. Unfortunately, it’s not.

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GCS board chair blasts education sec’y

The Rhino’s Paul Clark writes up the Guilford County Board of Education’s budget debate, which, in his words, gets ‘curiouser and curiouser.’

Clark highlights board member Paul Daniels’ unsatisfactory grilling of chief financial officer Sharon Ozment. Turns out Daniels got into it with board chairman Alan Duncan:

Daniels angered Duncan by quoting from an article by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (no relation) that described school systems having less money as “the new normal,” and said that school systems will have to do more with what they have.

Duncan attacked Arne Duncan directly, saying it is easy for a secretary of education who will make lots of money as a consultant after leaving office to criticize.

Duncan said, “I think it’s too facile to say we’re in a new norm and we have to do more with less.”

I’ve observed Alan Duncan in his role as school board chairman for many years. He’s served well who’s served well while making his living in the private sector as a trial attorney. But I’ve hardly ever seen him buck the public education status quo, which basically calls for more money year in and year out. To hear him criticize the king of educrats —- unwittingly summing up preci whysely the Department of Education should be eliminated —– is pleasant, yet surprising.

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Paging Larry Womble and Earline Parmon

Interesting situation they have over at the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education following the resignation of 81-year-old Geneva Brown.

Former local NAACP president Stephen Hairston is concerned about Brown’s successor. Hairston is worried not that the new board member will be the wrong color —-District 1 is a heavily African-American district —- but that he or she will not be liberal enough. In fact, rumor has it Brown’s replacement will be John Davenport Jr., a black Republican.

The WSFCS board will vote on Brown’s replacement, and although the board is officially nonpartisan, it’s controlled by Republicans. If the board has remained partisan, then the Forsyth County Democratic Party would get to choose the replacement.

If anyone’s upset with Brown’s successor, they at least should complain to those truly responsible:

Vic Johnson, the school board’s other District 1 representative, said that if people are upset, they need to contact state Reps. Larry Womble and Earline Parmon, Democrats who pushed for the change to nonpartisan school board elections in the state legislature.

He said that he wasn’t happy with the change and worried that the move would take clout away from black Democrats in the district if Brown left before her term expired. Now that has happened and it’s too late to do anything.

“If the board is a Republican board, we don’t stand a chance of getting a Democrat chosen,” he said.

How does the old saying go —– be careful what you wish for……….

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Yvonne Johnson’s conflict of interest

Greensboro City Attorney Rita Danish is still studying whether or not City Council member Zack Matheny and Robbie Perkins have a conflict of interest with a potential contractor to run the White Street landfill.

Meanwhile, landfill opponents are still threatening a lawsuit. It’s been no secret who’s behind the battle, but this just struck a chord:

Former Councilwoman Goldie Wells, who has been leading the group Citizens for Environmental and Economic Justice, said the landfill expansion opponents need time to consider their next move.

That could include a legal challenge to try to stop the landfill from renewing its permit or getting a new one. State law allows permits to be denied if the landfill disproportionately affects minority communities. The landfill is in a mostly black neighborhood.

“I guess we’ll call in the troops — our legal people. That’s the plan,” former Mayor Yvonne Johnson said.

Yvonne Johnson is officially running for City Council. A legal battle over the landfill could take several months, which means we potentially have the situation of a council member participating in a lawsuit against the city.

I’m no attorney, but this sounds like a conflict of interest to me.

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GCS budget: It’s complicated

Guilford County Board of Education member Paul Daniels is still scratching his head trying to figure out how GCS is cutting its budget while simultaneously increasing its budget.

Let’s see if chief financial officer Sharon Ozment can explain (unposted):

(Superintendent Mo) Green’s budget includes state funding of $366.5 million, about $18 million more than the current year. Ozment said that increase reflects complicated shifts in spending over the year as well as expected increases in state money for textbooks, custodians and clerical workers.

OK, but I thought draconian cuts in state funding were to be expected as well. But that doesn’t keep the board from discussing bowling clubs at middle and high schools.

Let his be a lesson: there are lots of things to worry about in this world, but school systems not having enough money should never be one of them.

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Dumb and Dumber

CJ’s Don Carrington digs into the claim that so-called high-speed rail will create 4800 jobs in North Carolina.

Look who invented the ‘job-years’ concept and look who’s defending it:

What has not been specified in all the press releases and official announcements is that the 4,800-job figure is measured in “job-years,” a metric invented by the Obama administration’s transition team to sell the American public on the incoming president’s controversial $787 billion stimulus plan.

…..Until recently, the governor appeared unfamiliar with the job-years concept. During her April 7 press conference on jobs, a Carolina Journal reporter informed her that DOT estimated the rail project would average only 1,200 jobs a year for the four-year duration of the project. When asked whether she was familiar with the method used for estimating the jobs, she said:

“You know, what I’m aware of on rail is that the money would help us do what we need to do in this state, and what we need to do in the country, from my perspective as somebody who’s had a chance to visit other countries and see their transportation system, that we need to focus on some type of transportation possibilities other than cars and buses. If it’s 1,200 or 12,000 in this economy, they are important jobs. I watched the recovery dollars for roads come into North Carolina, and I saw companies go back to work. I saw projects getting built. I’m watching the Yadkin River Bridge with great expectation. And so if the job estimates are right or wrong, the bottom line is it’s jobs for our people.”

Typical big government.

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More G’boro gov’t antics

Remember to last week’s controversial City Council meeting when the council approved a new redistricting plan with three council members participating by phone and a very confused city attorney?

Today the council took a major step toward reopening the White Street landfill —-the city’s other hot-button issue—- with one council member recusing herself because her husband’s a lawyer who represents one potential contractor, and a still-confused city attorney —- who may or may not be licensed to practice law in North Carolina —- tryting to determine if two other council members have inappropriate ties to another contractor.

I guess this is just the way government works here in Greensboro.

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Former Parkland teacher surrenders

Former Parkland High School teacher Terry Lamar Jones turned himself in to the Forsyth County magistrate’s office yesterday.

Jones was wanted on 64 counts of felony sexual activity after a college essay by a former student revealed that she had sex with a music teacher named ‘Smith’ that resulted in a terminated pregnancy.

Rush Radio’s account noted it didn’t officers long to figure out the teacher’s true identity. It’s a reasonable assumption Jessica Martin’s intent was not to land Jones in jail. But ‘Smith’ as an alias for ‘Jones’ is a pretty thinly veiled reference, is it not?

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State health benefit exchange: No need to rush

Lots of talk out there these days about the insurance industry’s influence over the General Assembly.

Now Democracy North Carolina is questioning two Triad -area legislators sponsorship of a bill creating the North Carolina Benefit Exchange. Davidson County Rep. Jerry Docker –a former health insurance executive —– and Randolph County Rep. Harold Brubaker “are the top two recipients in the Legislature of campaign money given from Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Political Action Campaign over the past decade, according to Democracy North Carolina.”

While the bill sponsored by Docker and Brubaker gives the insurance industry a seat at the table, Civitas notes that Democrats have countered with a bill that excludes the insurance industry, in effect giving government the upper hand. Under that scenario, the state exchange is even more likely to result in a single-payer system.

The benefit exchange is an issue only because of Obamacare, which is still a (faulty) work in progress. Its constitutionality is still in question, too. With that in mind, Democracy North Carolina and Civitas can agree on one thing: there’s no need to rush into this.

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