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Two views on Energy Freedom Act

No surprise –the N&R and John Locke Foundation have differing views on “Energy Freedom” legislation working its way through the legislature.

Bottom line — Rep. John Szoka’s bill would allow off-the-electric-grid third-party sales from solar farms directly to consumers, which is currently prohibited in North Carolina. N&R says ‘let the sun shine':

Enough members of both parties should recognize the advantages of getting behind a plan that lets market forces push an energy source that offers obvious long-term advantages. Not only is solar energy clean, it’s free and abundant. Costs associated with capturing it and turning it into electricity are decreasing rapidly. This bill makes sense for North Carolina.

While JLF’s Roy Cordato writes:

If an industry can provide its product only by using the government to force others to deal with it, then it is not an industry that can be functional in a truly free market. This is the case for the solar power industry, including what are called third-party sales of solar-generated electricity.

In fact, third-party sales of solar power can be sustained only in a market dominated as it is by utility regulations and government subsidies. The solar power industry as we know it is a creature of government, and allowing third-party sales will not change that.

This is a bipartisan bill, with sponsors including local Reps. Pricey Harrison, Jon Hardister and John Faircloth.

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Gboro zoning commission signs off Friendly-Hobbs development

The Greensboro Zoning Commission unanimously approved Atlanta-based Halpern Development’s request to rezone 6.7 acres of land on the corner of Friendly Avenue and Hobbs Road for a proposed retail and residential development near Friendly Center.

The Zoning Commission signed off on the project in spite of strong opposition from nearby residents, who plan to file a protest petition before the City Council, which could consider the proposal at its May 19 meeting. Stay tuned — this showdown has been brewing for quite some time now.

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In praise of evil Republicans….

If you’ve been paying attention lately you know General Assembly Republicans have been under fire the past couple of years. But in this WFDD interview, Winston-Salem Journal editorial page editor John Railey —who “grew up in a liberal Democratic culture where you just didn’t question liberal democracy —you just assumed your heroes were your heroes”—- comes to grips with the realization that Republicans –notably then-House speaker Thom Tillis —that drove legislation providing compensation for victims of North Carolina’s forced sterilization program.

Railey is the author of Rage to Redemption in the Sterilization Age: A Confrontation with American Genocide.

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Re: SB 36 polls

If you kept up with the news over the weekend, you noticed it didn’t take the N&R long to jump all over a poll commissioned by the Rhino Times showing a majority of voters support Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill restructuring the Greensboro City Council.

N&R ran with not one but two stories questioning the poll’s methodology, not to mention a blog post from editorial writer Doug clark:

As for the polling firm, note how it describes itself: “Our team founded Revily, LLC to increase the probability of winning for Conservative Campaigns and Organizations.”

That’s what it was hired to do in this case: to increase the chances that SB 36 will pass by designing a poll to show public support for a proposal that in reality has drawn very little public support.

Rhino editor John Hammer responds:

The fact that the Rhino Times would use a pollster that often does polling for conservative causes, which the N&R also sees as problem, doesn’t seem to be much of a shock.

From a journalistic standpoint, in quoting a professor at Elon University – where former Editor of the News & Record John Robinson was in charge of doing the polling – the N&R might not have used the most unbiased source available. To the News & Record’s credit, at least they didn’t quote Robinson on his views of the Rhino Times’ poll.

A review of News & Record articles citing polls done by Elon University, which the N&R seems to really like, reveals that the N&R provides about the same amount of information about the polling results as the Rhino Times did.

It is also worth noting that the Elon polls that the News & Record quotes often have provided questionable results. According to a poll done by Elon University and reported in the News & Record, the majority of voters in North Carolina were in favor of same-sex marriage. However, when that same issue was actually put to a vote in North Carolina, over 61 percent cast votes in favor of a constitutional amendment to establish that, in North Carolina, only a marriage between one man and one woman would be legal.

Far as I’ve seen there’s been no Elon University poll on SB 36. Nor have I seen such scrutiny over a poll methodology. My advice –for those paying attention at least — is to simply conduct your own poll —when engaged in casual conversation at a cocktail party, hanging out at Fisher’s Grille or attending a Grasshoppers game — ask someone what they think of SB 36. My guess is the majority of people won’t even know about it or won’t give a crap.

Fair enough, apathy doesn’t make it right. By the same token, don’t believe what you read in the N&R, which has abandoned all semblance of journalistic objectivity on this issue. Hey here’s my polling on the issue— since the N&R started peddling its anti-SB 36 T-shirts I’ve seen exactly two people —an elderly couple — wearing them out in public. Take that information and do with it what you will.

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Pricey’s right to die bill

Winston-Salem Journal writes up Rep. Pricey Harrison’s right to die bill:

John Rustin, president of the N.C. Family Policy Council, said he “strongly encourages” legislators to defeat the bill if it comes up in committee.

“The role of physicians is to protect the health, safety and welfare of their patients,” Rustin said. “This misguided proposal would allow doctors to willfully and legally participate in the killing of their patients.”

Harrison said death with dignity is “an option that ought to be available with proper supervision and safeguards.”

“We need to discuss what level of ill is terminally ill. I am certainly willing to discuss other safeguards.”

Interesting statistical breakdown on the 750 individuals who have ended their life in Oregon through physician-assisted suicide –Oregon’s law being the template for Harrison’s bill —-“about 95 percent died in their home or the home of a family member or friend. About 44 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher level degree. The average time it took an individual to lose consciousness from ingesting the prescribed drug was five minutes, along with 25 minutes to die.”

Not sure where advanced education fits into the decision to end one’s own life with help of a physician.

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Re: Gboro council hires lobbyist to fight SB 36

Greensboro City Council has hired a law firm to lobby against Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill to restructure the council.

The hiring of the lobbyist was the subject of a tense debate during last night’s meeting when City Attorney Tom Carruthers revealed—when pressed by council member Tony Wilkins –that the decision was reached following a phone poll of council members.

Rhino’s John Hammer weighs in here:

During the chaos, all sense of decorum was abandoned and Mayor Nancy Vaughan, instead of trying to bring order to the meeting, joined in with quips and catcalls of her own. It was Councilmember Sharon Hightower who finally brought the meeting back under control, but even that didn’t last.

A city that is in competition with Greensboro for a new industry needs only play five minutes of this meeting to convince sensible business owners that they do not want this group making decisions that could affect their businesses.

And here:

Anyone who doubts that SB 36 is sorely needed should look at the last 10 minutes of the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 7. ….The entire meeting devolved into catcalling, interruptions, shouting, fake votes, motions that were out of order but never ruled as such and general misbehavior, particularly for an elected body that is responsible for spending over $500 million a year. The behavior of Mayor Nancy Vaughan and the majority of the City Council is an embarrassment to Greensboro.

It is a clear indication that something needs to be done.

All I know is when Sharon Hightower is the voice of reason things have indeed gotten way out of control. Last 10 minutes of the council meeting is below. Watch and judge for yourself.

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How can you vote against such a beautiful bunch of fruit?

Little sideshow prior to the Greensboro City Council’s 6-3 vote approving a $250,000 grant for the Renaissance Community Co-op.

The three ‘no’ votes —council members Zack Matheny, Tony Wilkins and Mike Barber —explained their opposition in this N&R article, but I’m still surprised they didn’t present their point of view during in a public forum.

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In defense of N.C. religious freedom bill…

Campbell Law School Professor E. Gregory Wallace writing in the News & Observer:

Many gay individuals have suffered hateful forms of discrimination, so their concern about whether RFRAs will give businesses a “license to discriminate” against them is understandable.

The fear that such discrimination will occur is greatly exaggerated. The overwhelming majority of religious business owners have no objection to serving gay persons meals, renting them hotel rooms or selling them products. If they deny such services, they almost certainly will lose in court even if NC’s RFRA passes.

… Public debate on the N.C. bill should be driven by facts and reason, not demagoguery. No one who understands the operation of RFRAs over the past 22 years seriously expects them to be used to justify widespread discrimination against gays.

No demagoguery around here –especially not from N&R columnist Susan ‘Bigots R Us’ Ladd.

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Talk about nerve–Deena Hayes-Greene has it

For starters –the N&R lays into Rep. Bert Jones, who sponsored a bill calling for a “Convention of the States” to discuss amendments to the U.S. Constitution:

Jones’ bill seems assured of approval in the Senate; then Jones can focus on constitutional conventions. The sheer nerve of it all is downright surreal. And indefensible. As our Republican governor, Pat McCrory, said recently: “We have some legislators who also want to be mayors and city councilmen. … If someone wants to change the form of government in one of your cities, then go run for city council, for mayor.”

And if someone wants to end needless tinkering by outside forces, the best place to start is in Raleigh.

Talking about nerve–that’s nothing compared to the sheer nerve displayed by International Civil Rights Museum board chair (and Guilford County school board member) Deena Hayes-Greene, who is asking fellow board members to reach into their own pockets to help cover new chief operating officer Bay Love’s salary:

..Hayes-Greene and board member Ron Milstein made the pitch to fellow board members in an email on March 17.

They said the museum has “a hard stretch ahead, and our success will require each of us stepping in and stepping up in new ways.

“If you have gone to your personal bank account, your corporation, or other organization to see what you can contribute to the 31K to cover (Love’s) salary and related expenditures, please contact one of us directly so that we can finalize your contribution,” the email said.

I guess we know now why there was initial secrecy surrounding Love’s hire back in March.

I’m not sure what’s the better pull quote—Milstein’s insistence that the museum’s financial future is solid or City Council member Jamal Fox observing “it seems like you’d want to make sure you can pay someone before you hire them on.”

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NYT weighs in on SB 36

Bulk of the NYT write-up on bills restructuring local governments working their way through the General Assembly focuses on Sen. Chad Barefoot’s Wake County Board of Commissioners bill. But keep reading — the article eventually gets to Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill restructuring the Greensboro City Council:

In Greensboro, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one, the proposal to change the City Council has prompted hundreds of residents to turn out at community meetings. Sponsored by Senator Trudy Wade, a Republican, the bill would replace five Council districts and three at-large seats with seven newly drawn districts. It would also limit the mayor to voting in tiebreakers and a few other tasks.

Greensboro is in Guilford County, one of the 40 counties in the state where officials, under the Voting Rights Act, were previously required to submit changes to voting laws to the Department of Justice to ensure they would not adversely affect minority voters. The United States Supreme Court struck down those provisions of the act in 2013.

In Greensboro, as in Trinity, elections are nonpartisan, but suspicions are running high. “I think it’s an agenda that the Republicans have,” said Yvonne Johnson, a Democratic member of the Council.

Senator Wade could not be reached for comment, but has told local news media that she was responding to concerns of the business community. The News & Record, Greensboro’s daily newspaper, has been hawking a T-shirt on its website based on the Gadsden flag from the Revolutionary War era, with a message more recently co-opted by the conservative Tea Party.

“Don’t tread on me,” it says, along with a picture of a coiled snake. “Raleigh, let Greensboro be!”

Regarding the N&R –they lay it on thick in an editorial (headlined Profiles in courage) praising Reps. Jon Hardister and John Blust for calling for a referendum to be inserted in Wade’s bill while going after fellow Rep. John Faircloth while lighting into Rep. John Faircloth’s “hypocrisy” just for saying he wants to hear both sides in the House Elections Committee.

I realize Faircloth is former High Point chief of police and to say the least isn’t scared of the N&R. That said, he might be surprised at what happens when you don’t do or say something our supposedly tolerant local paper of record doesn’t like, evidenced by ultra-lefty columnist Susan Ladd calling House Speaker Tim Moore a bigot for moving ahead with the N.C.Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

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