It's time for another thrill-a-minute episode of Ask Boomer With Attitude, brought to you live from Charlotte, where candidates are piling up "leftover campaign sign" fines as we speak.
Dear BWA: Why do Duke Energy's residential and small business customers pay more than double the rate paid by giant corporate energy gobblers? — Enough Of This Shit
Dear Enough: You noticed that, too, huh? So did consumer group NC WARN, which last week called for state regulators to ditch Duke's rate system. According to the group's report, On The Backs of Families and Small Businesses, Duke Energy in 2010 charged its biggest energy-sucking customers, on average, 4.84 cents per kilowatt hour. Small businesses, on the other hand, paid 10.03 cents, and residential customers paid 9.13 cents. Some of the biggest electricity hogs are Google, Facebook and Apple, the arrivals of which in North Carolina were heralded at the time as wonderful "economic development" news for the state. Wonderful for them, for sure. For regular schmoes like you and me, though, maybe not so much. NC WARN says the state utilities commission is charged with protecting its citizens from such unfair practices — practices that allow Duke to pump up demand for new expensive power plants by offering rock-bottom rates to corporate behemoths while screwing the rest of us.
Dear BWA: What's your old friend Tim Newman doing these days? — Looking for a Handout
Dear Looking: Probably not much. The former free-spending CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority can relax at the beach for a while since, as Channel 9 reported last week, he is still being paid by CRVA, to the tune of over $4,700 per week. When Newman was canned in December after a public uproar over his money-squandering ways (we named Newman a "Walking House Party"), no one mentioned a severance package. In fact, the new CRVA CEO, Tom Murray, refused to talk about severance at the time, even though state public-records law requires pubic agencies to disclose payments to employees. In addition to the $19K per month in salary, Newman got $28K in accrued vacation time, plus around $700 in monthly car allowances.
Dear BWA: I think it's hilarious that Thom Tillis, who vowed to "restore honor" or some such nonsense to state government, had to get rid of two staffers for having affairs with lobbyists. Don't you? — Lover Man
Dear Lover Man: And don't forget the N.C. GOP's goal of "protecting marriage"! What a clownish bunch. I've heard of politicians being "in bed with lobbyists" for years, but House Speaker Tillis' chief of staff Charles Thomas and policy analyst Amy Hobbs took the metaphor to its literal conclusion. My favorite part of the rigmarole was when Tillis said he had no idea Thomas was having an affair — even though they are roommates in Raleigh. The whole thing is such an obvious microcosm of what's wrong with the way the country is governed, it almost makes my job too easy.
Dear BWA: Why do you liberals support letting convicted murderers go free so they can kill again? — Y'all R Nuts
Dear Y'all: Huh?! I've never heard of anyone who supports freeing convicted murderers, but I bet you're referring to the Racial Justice Act. Recently, death row inmate Marcus Robinson's sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole after a judge ruled that racial bias played a role in Robinson's trial and sentencing — the first such ruling under the act. Perhaps you're thinking of repeated statements by some conservative politicians, such as N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who for months claimed that successful appeals under the act would let "cold-blooded murderers go free." The first time Berger and others made that claim, maybe it was just a mistake; repeating the mistake over and over after being corrected, however, qualifies as blatant lying. The act allows convicted murderers to challenge death sentences using statistical evidence that race was a factor in their sentencing, with the specific requirement that if the appeal is successful, the defendant must serve life without parole. This isn't good enough for the Paleolithic moralizers running the General Assembly, who apparently don't mind publicly cheerleading the prospect of the state killing people.
Correction: The name of the Democratic Party staffer who claimed he was sexually harassed was misspelled in last week's column. His name is Adriadn Ortega. Sorry.