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MCcRORY SIGNS FRACKING BILLIt’s been more than two months since Governor Pat MCcrory signed into law legislation that clears the way for permits to be issued for fracking in North Carolina. Still, environmental groups and concerned citizens are expected to turn out in full force this week to comment on draft rules for future gas and oil exploration.

The Mining and Energy Commission does not have a say in whether fracking will occur; they are using the upcoming hearings to gather suggestions to improve draft rules.

Fracking opponents believe the hearings may be the best chance they have to strengthen the guidelines that address things like forced pooling and chemical disclosure.

Each speaker will have just three minutes to make their case.

Want to read the draft rules in advance of the hearing? Click here.

Want to attend one of the hearings? Here’s what you need to know:

Raleigh: Wed., Aug. 20, 10AM-2PMfrack-8
NCSU’s McKimmon Center, 1101 Gorman St.

Sanford: Fri., Aug. 22, 5PM-9PM
Wicker Civic Center, 1801 Nash St.

Reidsville: Mon., Aug. 25, 5PM-9PM
Rockingham County High School, 180 High School Rd.

Cullowhee/Western NC: Fri., Sept. 12, 5PM-9PM
W. Carolina Univ. Bardo Performing Arts Ctr., 199 Centennial Drive

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Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque wants back pay from the non-profit he founded – the same federally-funded group that prosecutors contend he stole $300,000 from while serving as its executive director.

LaRoque, a Kinston Republican who resigned from the state legislature in July 2012 following his federal indictment, filed a breach of contract lawsuit in May in Lenoir County Superior Court against the East Carolina Development Company. The non-profit was one of two non-profits LaRoque ran as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture rural lending program intended to offer low-interest loans to struggling businesses in rural areas.

LaRoque-PCLaRoque is seeking $58,500 for what he contends is six months of work he was never paid for in 2012 and nearly three months worth of pay and benefits following his termination from the non-profit after his federal indictment, according to the court documents.

“Defendants have willfully breached the Agreement by failing to pay the agreed upon salary, benefits and give 90 days notice of agreement termination [sic] despite multiple requests from Plaintiff,” LaRoque wrote in the lawsuit, which he filed on his own behalf.

Nowhere in his four-page complaint nor in East Carolina Development Company’s brief answer denying any wrongdoing is any mention of the federal charges and controversy.

The lawsuit (see below) has been stayed until after LaRoque’s February criminal trial is over, meaning it won’t move forward until that trial is over, said Mikael Gross, a Raleigh attorney now representing LaRoque in the Lenoir County lawsuit.

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A new poll out today finds North Carolinians of all political backgrounds favor raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing access to paid sick days and establishing local living wage ordinances.shrinwages

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, finds that 62 percent of North Carolina voters support a state law guaranteeing access to paid sick days. Even more North Carolinians, 63 percent, support city and county laws that would establish living wage standards.

The findings come at time that 8 out of every 10 jobs created since 2009 pays below the Living Income Standard, the amount needed for a family inn Northv Carolina to meet its basic needs.

Here’s more the poll findings from the NC Justice Center:

Perhaps most significant: the poll respondents were largely center-right. Even though most poll respondents identified as conservative and the majority voted for Romney, only 29 percent supported “relying on the private market to set wages without public intervention.” By contrast, twice that number – 58 percent of voters – support raising North Carolina’s minimum wage above the current $7.25 per hour standard. And a majority of “somewhat conservative” respondents (51 percent) plus 42 percent of “very conservative” respondents support local living wages as a way to build an economy that works for all.

Most respondents (43 percent) identified themselves as either “very conservative” (19 percent) or “somewhat conservative,” compared to 26 percent identifying as either “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal.” 32 percent of those polled identified as moderates.

“These results show strong support for worker-friendly policies in North Carolina,” said Carol Brooke of the Workers’ Rights Project at the NC Justice Center. “Paid sick days and living wages build an economy that works for everyone, and the vast majority of North Carolinians recognize that.”

Additionally, the majority of those surveyed judge the state’s job creation track record based on the quality of the jobs created rather than the quantity. 50 percent of those polled were more concerned “that jobs pay a living wage” rather than “that there are enough jobs” (37 percent).

In the face of still-modest job growth and a boom in low-wage work post-recession, such a finding suggests policymakers should focus on policies that create good, quality jobs in order to build an economy that works for all.

The poll surveyed 856 likely voters August 14th-17th. Complete poll results can be viewed here.

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Coal ash clean upThis morning’s Weekly Briefing tries to bring readers up to date on the sad state of North Carolina’s coal ash debate and the surprising — and potentially tragic — lack of action by state leaders to confront Duke Energy and protect the public’s well-being.

One important side story to the coal ash crisis that it does not get into, however, is the increasingly absurd saga of Gov. McCrory’s failure to report his Duke Energy holdings on required state ethics forms. Fortunately, Sunday’s Charlotte Observer editorial page took care of that issue pretty comprehensively:

“We’re not sure which is most upsetting:

• That Gov. Pat McCrory owned a substantial amount of Duke Energy stock for his first 15 months in office, including for two months after Duke’s massive coal ash spill, even though that posed an obvious conflict of interest as the utility lobbied the administration hard on all kinds of matters.

• That McCrory filed an inaccurate report with the State Ethics Commission, saying he didn’t own any Duke stock as of Dec. 31, 2013, when in fact he did. Doing so reveals either a desire to mislead or gross incompetence by him and his general counsel.

• That McCrory still doesn’t get it. The governor maintains “we haven’t broken any rules” when that is indisputably untrue. He says he is “amazed” at the questions surrounding his mistake, fully unable to comprehend that it’s a matter most North Carolinians consider newsworthy.”

Read the rest of the editorial by clicking here.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/08/16/5109117/mccrorys-mishandling-of-his-duke.html#.U_IW-8VdVAI#storylink=cpy