Exile on Jones Street: ICYMI 2014 — Year of Epic Complaint Part I

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kirk rossby Kirk Ross

The Year of Our Lord 2014. Whatever.

Three-hundred and sixty-five days and most of them spent with reality in a headstand.

The big winner of year, the soon-to-be sworn in Sen.-elect Thom Tillis, set the tone last December when he talked to Politico about his chances in the Senate race. “I think for the most part, what I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers,” he told them.

But it wasn’t just the losers whining and complaining. The year ended up with Gov. Pat McCrory showing everyone how it’s really done, issuing an incredible verbal and written — 34 pages! — assault against an Associated Press reporter who co-wrote a story about a newly elected governor and a United States congressman who got really sweet stock deals after they won.

In between these two events, the complaints of 2014 flowed almost non-stop, fueled by unprecedented spending in an election in which almost no positives were offered and any bad news, and there was a lot of it, drew a rebuke for the mere act of reporting it.

There were a few other epic moments worth remembering along with the notable complaints of 2014. We’ve got most of them in this special two-part Holiday Edition of Exile on Jones Street. Here’s the first installment:

January

• In what would prove to be one of the more coherent political messages of the year, Indian Trail Town Board member David Waddell pens his resignation letter in Klingon;

• Free voter ID cards become available — what could possibly go wrong?;

• The state Department of Health and Human Resources sends 50,000 children’s Medicaid cards with personal info to the wrong addresses;

• Franklin County decides to destroy thousands of historic records to free up a little storage space in the basement;

• Congressman Mike McIntyre announces retirement. Future congressman David Rouzer begins measuring for drapes;

• US Ag Department threatens to suspend DHHS food stamp program because of poor management;

• Gov. McCrory, DHHS Sec. Wos attack press for being such a downer;

• Health care providers sue state over faulty DHHS data system;

• Stories break about big raises and fat consultant contracts at DHHS;

• Gov. McCrory, DHHS Sec. Wos attack press for being even more of a downer;

• Attorney General Roy Cooper releases a kind of campaign like ad;

• A busted pipe in Burlington sends 3.5 million gallons of raw sewage down the Haw River;

February

• A busted pipe at a Duke Energy coal-ash impoundment sends tens of thousands of tons of sludge into the Dan River;

• Channeling Jesse Helms, Rep. Renee Ellmers accuses likely opponent Clay Aiken of being all San Francisco (wink-wink);

• Clay Aiken announces bid for congress from atop a cable car near his home in Cary;

• The coal ash-covered hand of a former Department of Environment and Natural Resources employee becomes world famous;

• North Carolinians notice that there’s a lot of coal ash sitting around next to a bunch of rivers;

• Someone in the press notes that the state is supposed to regulate environmental things. Others point out that the governor worked for a power company for a while;

• In a hastily called press conference, DENR Director Skvarla outlines how the press has misreported the state’s awesome coal ash management effort;

• Records are subpoenaed and dozens of DENR and Duke Energy officials are called to testify before a federal grand jury;

• The state withdraws a really sweet deal it offered Duke Energy over coal ash before the former DENR official’s coal ash-covered hand got famous;

March

• State Sen. Martin Nesbitt who warned us about all this — dammit, you know he did — resigns as Democratic leader and dies days later;

• Duke Energy hints around that maybe the customers should pay for cleaning up this coal-ash stuff;

• News breaks that apparently some of these other coal-ash ponds are kinda iffy as well;

• The close of the 2014 filing season and more than half of the NC General Assembly races are declared done deals;

• Environmental PACs gear up for an anti-fracking campaign aimed at some state legislators;

• Several friends of Karl Rove get phone calls, Koch brothers open checkbooks;

• DENR eliminates climate-change links from its website;

• With no expansion of Medicaid in sight, several rural, regional hospitals in the state consider closing, among them is Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven;

• State Board of Elections upholds a plan by the new GOP lead election board in Watauga County to eliminate the early voting site at Appalachian State University;

• FBI agents arrest Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon on charges of public corruption;

• With estimates that 318,000 people will lack an adequate ID to vote by 2016, the state announces that as of the end of March a whopping 260 took advantage of the state’s free ID program.

Continued next week. And, no, I’m not making any of this up.