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Kay HaganAs part of announcing her candidacy for reelection yesterday, Senator Kay Hagan weighed in on the ongoing Duke Energy coal ash disaster that continues to unfold just a few miles down the road from her Greensboro home. You would have thought it would have been a moment on which the embattled Senator would have seized in order to pillory her Republican critics. Heck, it’s not that hard to envision a scenario in which she would have announced her campaign wearing waders in some Dan River muck!

Here’s what she said, instead, about the coal ash crisis as reported by WRAL.com:

“We’ve got to have oversight on the handling, the disposal and the storage of coal ash. When you think that just a broken pipe has caused this amount of leakage, and we know that we have 36 coal ash ponds in North Carolina, it is a serious issue, and we need to study it.”

I’m sorry, Senator. Did you say we need to study the matter? Study??!!

Earth to Kay Hagan: We know what to do about this problem. It’s already being done in South Carolina for Pete’s sake!  North Carolina doesn’t need more study; it needs immediate action and leadership from public officials who care more about the people and environment of the state than the big money campaign contributions of Duke Energy.

One would have thought that a veteran politician like Senator Hagan — someone who’s been in public office for 15 years — would have at least grasped the politics of the current situation (even if the science and policy matters escaped her). Unfortunately (and quite amazingly), this does not appear to be the case.

One of the nation’s most influential and widely respected pollsters has new and encouraging data for Senator Kay Hagan and all those who support background checks for gun purchasers. In a poll released yesterday, Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling (see the video below) reported the following:

“PPP’s newest round of polling finds that Kay Hagan and Mary Landrieu helped their cause for reelection with their recent votes in support of background checks for gun sales. Read More

Kay HaganRaleigh’s News & Observer reports that she has endorsed masrriage equality.

The article quotes Hagan as saying:

“I know there are strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for their opinions. But after much thought and prayer on my part this is where I am today. I know all our families do not look alike. We all want the same thing for our families. We want happiness, we want health, prosperity, a bright future for our children and grandchildren. After conversations I’ve had with family members, with people I go to church with and with North Carolinians from all walks of life, I’ve come to my own personal conclusion that we should not tell people who they can love, or who they can marry. It’s time to move forward with this issue.”

Good work. About time.

Just released this afternoon….

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
21 February 2013

The NC NAACP once again urges Senators Burr and Hagan to help put an end to the historic exclusion of African American judges from the US District Court for the Eastern District in North Carolina with the pending appointment by the President. There has never been, in our history, a African American Judge on the bench in US District Court for the Eastern District of NC. The NC NAACP issued a letter to the Senators on October 25, 2011 urging the Senators to do the same. And on January 23, 2013 we wrote a private letter to the Senators, this time requesting a meeting to discuss the issue further. Senator Hagan has responded. However we are respectfully awaiting a response from Senator Burr’s office to schedule a meeting. We are now writing Senator Burr publicly with hopes that he will take the time to meet with civil rights leaders representing many of his constituents in NC before any decisions are made

We look forward to both a response for a meeting and for your efforts to right the historic wrongs when it comes to appointments to the US District Courts in North Carolina.

You can read the January letter by clicking here.

 

The federal court in Raleigh enters 2013 still in a state of judicial emergency, as this article by Patrick Gannon of the Wilmington StarNews reminds us.

That court now has the dubious distinction of having the oldest U.S. District Court judicial vacancy in the country.  The seat, opened up on Dec. 31, 2005 when Judge Malcolm J. Howard took senior status, has been unfilled for more than 2500 days. 

At one point over these last seven years, it looked like we might have some movement towards a nominee:

Nearly four years ago, in July 2009, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., recommended three candidates for the seat in a letter to the president. According to a news release issued at the time, they were: Allen Cobb Jr., senior resident Superior Court judge for Hanover and Pender counties; Jennifer May-Parker, assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District handling criminal appellate cases; and Quentin Sumner, senior resident Superior Court judge in Nash County.

David Ward, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said the Republican senator also submitted recommendations to the White House in July 2009 that were “substantially similar” to Hagan’s. He declined to give names. Burr still awaits word from the White House on a nomination, Ward said.

But since then, mum’s the word.

In the meantime, the caseload of the absent but to-be-named federal judge is being shared by three senior district judges who have put in more than their fair share of time on the bench:  Hon. James C. Fox, 84, a Reagan appointee who went on senior status in 2001; Hon. W. Earl Britt, 80, a Carter appointee who went on senior status in 1997; and Hon. Malcolm J. Howard, 73, a Reagan appointee who went on senior status, as noted above, in 2005.

In the weeks to come, we’ll be taking a closer look at why that’s the case and what can be done before this emergency moves to catastrophe.