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Got Money?

Duke Energy has agreed to pay $20 million for groundwater contamination. $10-15 million will go toward cleanup, even though contamination never seeped far enough to harm private wells. The other $7 million will pay state fines. Initially, the Department of Environmental Quality held Duke responsible for $25.1 million in fines, but Duke was able to produce a paper trail indicating it had convinced then governor Beverly Perdue it was more interested in remediation than “costs of doing business.”

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Curtain Call

Webster Enterprises makes medical curtains. It has worked with schools and other institutions to employ the disabled, hopefully as rehab. The disabled have been paid subminimum wage plus piecework, and that used to be OK. Now, the committee enforcing the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act wants him to pay minimum wage or let the poor suckers sit around and collect welfare. Management at Webster calculates paying everybody a minimum wage will remove incentives to produce more and better product and put the company out of business.

Don’t you just want to scream? Gummint doesn’t think The Wee People need productive engagement. Us nincompoops is acolytes in need only of power verbs from our leaders.

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Made Me Laugh

I was not too long ago criticized for using the word “folks,” so I will try henceforth to use the phrase “the international community” instead. That said, members of the international community spending any time in Asheville now have a chance to see local playwright Lucia Del Vecchio’s “The Employee Handbook Revision Committee.” With a name like that, it is sure to be suspense-ridden and not fit for soft stomachs.

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The Jackson County TDA sat a committee to clarify guidelines for what projects should be eligible for their grants. Their proposal favors spending on advertising more than activities that would bring room-nights to town.

That’s not to say that the TDA wouldn’t give any money to groups or events if the endeavor didn’t specifically meet granting requirements. The board could still award funding — just not through the grants.

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The new Murphy casino is supposed to be good for professional opportunities and financial security. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is hopeful it will bring the tribe closer to self-sufficiency. I gurgle. What could be more meaningful than encouraging people to get memberships to put money in a machine or give it to a table host with a house-always-wins probability of getting something back?

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Notes from a Literacy-Challenged Fogey

My first problem as a Gen W-er came today when I tried to vote. I guess I don’t have the app that provides the pre-voting instructions, and so I didn’t realize I had to read some instructions and sign a form. It probably would have taken me about a minute read, except that the lady kept talking to me telling me what it said in a sound bite and repeating, “Just sign.” Everybody else was just signing.

It reminds me of those things in doctors’ offices. The old people aren’t given the papers to review. They probably have an app that provides comparative legal opinions. The receptionists just ask the old folks to sign that electronic box, and say, “It’s just saying. . . .”

I was brought up to believe signatures should mean something – else why do we bother with them? Back in the day, it meant one had read a contract and agreed to the terms.

So, today I wanted to do a little smart-alec post. It seems the greatest issue in this city council campaign is whether or not to convert prime real estate downtown into a park. Doing so would bust up the center of commerce, forcing business people to sprawl out to the burbs, hauling larger carbon footprints with them, while opening a vista for a sanctuary where Christians go to feel close to their Heavenly Father – something people who argue for green downtowns typically don’t value.

Political snipe signs about town show a photoshopped version of the Basilica St. Lawrence with a verdant approach like unto a cemetery. I wanted to photoshop a view with a backdrop from the Sonoran Desert, and poorly proportioned at that to try to get a laugh out of you, just to share my vision. But the office where I now sit has no need of Adobe software, which I absolutely love. So, I set about to download some freeware.

Unfortunately, I ran into a couple hundred pages of fine print with cleverly-disguised buttons trying to get me purchase NFL whatnot subscriptions and commitments to start paying after a month’s trial. I don’t know how kids these days read a thousand pages of legalese every time they try to breathe. And so, in the interest of not depleting my bank account, I leave you with only the thought.

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Still Being Responsible South of the Border

An article from the Hendersonville Lightning supplies a good feeling not uncommon in stories about Henderson County government. In considerations of courthouse renovations, the county commissioners keep referring back to their budget.

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Healthcare Costs

Saith the Macon News:

Macon County Public Health Director Jim Bruckner informed the Board of Health that the NC Health Directors Association was moving forward with a lawsuit against the state. . . . Other than a check for $33,000 that Macon County received last week, the North Carolina Department of Medicaid Assistance (DMA) hasn’t paid counties in the state the correct amount of Medicaid Cost Settlement Funds since 2011, which leaves $600,000 owed to Macon County.

The dollars represent reimbursements promised for services already provided.

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Sweet Freedom – Nicely Done

Here is a nice story about a fourteen-year-old kidnapped against her will. When her abductor, who wanted to make her his Mexican girlfriend, stopped to refuel the car, she ran into the convenience store and pled for help. The clerk perhaps didn’t know what to think until the perp tried to drag the girl from the store. Then, the clerk called 911 and it sounds like he pinned the perp against the Snapple machine until police could arrive.

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OK, Good Job, Kids

100 percent of Jackson County school children tested drug-free. Part of me regrets this is newsworthy. I want to see headlines like, “100 Percent of Jackson Students Get Ivy League Scholarships,” or “Jackson Students Ace ACT.” We can’t reward the valedictorian for busting his brains out trying to make something of himself, but we can sure celebrate kids staying away from drugs long enough to pass a drug screen.

Then, another part of me wants to say this is good. With everybody falling off the turnip truck – unable to repair their cars, unable to pay rent, losing their apartments, suffering near-deadly medical issues, etc. – it’s nice to hear something is “normal.”

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