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Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Morning Roundup: The Beginning of the End For Pat McCrory?

Posted by on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 8:52 AM

click to enlarge Megan Davies accepting the Reynolds Award in October 2015. - DHHS
  • DHHS
  • Megan Davies accepting the Reynolds Award in October 2015.
Good morning.

1. DHHS drama has boiled over.

After the AP broke Ken Rudo's deposition testifying that the McCrory administration misled the public about the safety of drinking water near coal-fired power plants, the DHHS issued an "open letter to the editor" on August 9th attempting to discredit Rudo. A sampling:

Recent media stories and editorials have given support to the questionable and inconsistent scientific conclusions reached by toxicologist Ken Rudo and have created unnecessary fear and confusion among North Carolinians who are concerned about the safety of their drinking water. Scientists do and should continuously question the status quo, and disagreement among them is to be expected. But both media and scientists should also be expected to recognize facts.

[...]

At issue is how much Chromium 6 and Vanadium, both naturally occurring compounds that can also be found in coal ash, is considered safe in drinking water. Rudo doesn’t just disagree with other scientists on this subject – he has even contradicted himself. The federal safe drinking water standard for Chromium is 100 parts per billion and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, “assumes that a measurement of total chromium is 100 percent Chromium 6." Rudo himself recognized this fact in November 2014 when he advised well owners near coal ash ponds that their water was safe to drink because “your well water meets federal drinking water standards."

Just a few months later, Rudo reversed course and advised the same well owners not to drink their water. Rather than relying on the federal standard he said was safe just months before, he used his own threshold, which was 1,400 times lower than the federal standard.

[...]

When pressed during a deposition, Rudo was not able to explain the inconsistencies in his scientific conclusions. Rudo’s unprofessional approach to this important matter does a disservice to public health and environmental protection in North Carolina. It doesn’t help that political special interest groups perpetuate his exaggerations and fuel alarm among citizens for their own purposes.
This op-ed didn't sit well with Rudo's boss, state epidemiologist Megan Davies, who quit that position yesterday in a scathing resignation letter. "Upon reading the open editorial yesterday evening, I can only conclude that the Department's leadership is fully aware that this document misinforms the public," she writes. "I cannot work for a Department and an Administration that deliberately misleads the public."

You can read her full letter below.

 

Megan Davies Resignation Letter

Late last night, DHHS announced that Dr. Zach Moore would step in as the acting state epidemiologist, and tried to walk back some of what the old one said.

“It is important for North Carolina citizens to know that, while there are differences of opinion and we respect those differences, ensuring citizens’ safety and communicating are our top priorities. Throughout this process, we’ve provided full information to homeowners about the safety of their drinking water and have taken appropriate steps to reassure citizens who had been unduly alarmed. We remain committed to the health and safety of our citizens.”
House Democratic leader Larry Hall called for an independent investigation earlier this week. We've asked for records relating to the McCrory administration's communications team with DHHS officials since August 1, but haven't heard back about that request or others yet. Considering the McCrory administration routinely breaks the law by not answering public records requests, we're not holding our breath.

2. Fallout from the Wake County redistricting case.

A Wake County commissioner will lose her seat. From the N&O:

Meanwhile, the elections board will not reopen the filing period for county commissioners. Districts 4, 5 and 6 will be on the November ballot.

Caroline Sullivan, who represents District 4 but filed to run for the now-defunct super district A, will lose her seat because she can’t refile.

Other super district commissioner candidates – John Adcock, Craig Ralph and Vicki Scroggins-Johnson – are also without a race to run in despite collectively raising more than $50,000 for their campaigns and winning primary elections this spring.

They can use the money for future campaigns, give it to political organizations, donate to certain charities or give each donation back to its donor, according to state law.

3. Phil Berger waddles into the debate over Trump's "Second Amendment people comment" like only he can.
Thanks for your input, Phil.

4. Chad Copley's neighborhood watch doesn't exist.

Chad Copley, the 39-year old North Raleigh man who murdered Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas on Sunday for being black in his neighborhood, said in a 911 call that he was on a neighborhood watch, and that he had "some neighbors with me."

Turns out that was bullshit:

Neuse Crossing residents don’t have a neighborhood watch group, said Mike Ellis, a co-owner and spokesman for Kohn-Ell Association Management, which manages homeowners’ associations across the city, including at Neuse Crossing. Ellis said if residents had started a neighborhood watch it would be affiliated with the Raleigh Police Department, not the homeowners association.

“The association is mainly concerned with covenant enforcement and social functions, like mowing the front entrance and fixing things,” Ellis said. “We do not give residents police powers at all. The homeowners association has certain responsibilities and obligations, and none of that can be construed as law enforcement. We can make you mow your lawn but not law enforcement.”

David Parker, a 59-year-old, self-employed businessman who has lived on Singleleaf Lane since 1996, says the homeowners association tried to start a community watch several years ago. Parker said he was surprised to hear the man who called 911 tell the dispatcher that he was “locked and loaded.”

“A neighborhood watch is just that: a watch,” he said. “You don’t pack a gun and put on a badge like you’re a sheriff.”

Copley has been charged with first-degree murder. You can donate to the GoFundMe Thomas's mom set up to raise money to help with burying her son here.

Have a good rest of the day, y'all.

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