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Saturday News: Go get 'em, Roy


SUPERMAJORITY OF VOTERS SUPPORT COOPER'S BUDGET VETO AND MEDICAID EXPANSION: Almost three-quarters of those polled said they would prefer school funding be increased rather than taxes cut, and a majority called for expanding Medicaid coverage to more of the state's working poor, according to the exclusive poll by SurveyUSA. SurveyUSA polled 2760 adults statewide between Feb. 13 and Sunday in the scientific survey, producing a credibility interval in the results of plus or minus 2.1 to 2.6 percent. Given a choice between providing more money for public schools or cutting business taxes to boost the economy, 71 percent of respondents said school funding was more important. Fewer than one-fifth said tax cuts should be the budget priority, while 9 percent said they weren't sure. Support for Cooper's stance cut across all demographics in the poll. Even more than three in five of Republicans questioned and a majority of those who identify themselves as conservative ranked funding schools ahead of cutting taxes in the budget debate.

Friday News: GOP meddling continues


REPUBLICAN PAC HAS SPENT $3 MILLION IN DEM SENATE PRIMARY: A group with Republican ties is out with another television ad promoting Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Erica Smith’s progressive credentials and hitting Democratic front-runner Cal Cunningham from the left on guns and gay rights issues. The Faith and Power PAC, which has not disclosed its donors but has several ties to Republicans, spent about $500,000 on the 30-second ad. The Super PAC has spent nearly $3 million in the race, most of it touting Smith, who has struggled to raise funds on her own, according to campaign finance reports. “What we’re concerned about is that people are sending a message that I can’t be trusted because I’m working with Republicans,” Smith said in a phone interview Tuesday. “That’s so far from the truth of what this is. I have no dealings with this Super PAC. I have denounced their interference in this primary. Once again, these underhanded tactics are being played to undermine the democratic process and voters should be outraged.”

Thursday News: There are tapes...


CAUSEY WORE A WIRE WHILE LINDBERG TRIED TO BRIBE HIM: Recordings played for the jury on Wednesday showed that Lindberg was clearly unhappy with Jackie Obusek, the deputy insurance commissioner responsible for overseeing his companies. They contended Obusek didn’t like Lindberg and was unfairly tarnishing his reputation. In those conversations, Lindberg and Gray urged Causey to remove Obusek from overseeing Lindberg’s companies and replace her with a new regulator — Palermo, who at the time was working for Lindberg. In a March 2018 meeting that Causey recorded for the FBI, he and Lindberg talked about how the insurance department could hire Palermo. Lindberg also told the commissioner at that meeting that his people could set up an independent expenditure committee to support his reelection campaign and “put in a million or two or whatever.”

Wednesday News: Status quo


UNC BOG ASKS FOR JUDGE'S HELP IN GETTING STATUE AND MONEY BACK: The UNC System and its Board of Governors asked an Orange County judge Monday to help them get the Silent Sam Confederate statue back and then advise them what to do with it. The UNC system also wants the judge to order that the $2.5 million trust fund be dissolved and the money returned to UNC, plus an accounting of money spent through the trust, including the trustee’s fees. The UNC System and Board of Governors also asked that the court order them to make appropriate arrangements that recognize certain “safety and security risks” in getting the monument back and making a final decision on what to do with it in compliance with North Carolina law.

Tuesday News: Burn before reading

PRO-TRUMP FAKE NEWS SITE COULD BE NC STATE STUDENTS: On Monday, administrators of the group told McClatchy News they are students at N.C. State University in Raleigh who are conducting a “social media project to see how fast news will spread.” They did not provide their names. “Truth is not the goal,” administrators said in a private Facebook message. “Getting Trump re-elected is the ultimate goal.” A spokesperson from N.C. State told McClatchy News they had no knowledge of “any type of ‘social media project’” the page administrator cited. Winston-Salem police said incorrect stories have been shared on social media about its officers doing good deeds. The department didn’t name North Carolina Breaking News, but the Facebook page has shared stories about the Triad city. North Carolina Breaking News has also shared false reports about unconfirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina, a woman in Wilmington who gave birth to 18 babies in a single pregnancy and conspiracy theories involving a 6-year-old killed in South Carolina. It has encouraged its followers to vote a straight Republican ticket to “help prevent Coronavirus.”

Monday News: Fast & Loose


POPULAR NC SCHOOL ACCOUNTING FIRM JUST LOST $2 MILLION FRAUD VERDICT: An accountant whose firm audits Durham Public Schools' books, and whose separate consulting company has had contracts with some 50 other school systems, was hit with a $2 million fraud verdict last month and now faces a new lawsuit from his former business partners. Leon L. Rives' accounting company also audited three insurance companies that were taken over last year by the state over liquidity concerns. They're owned by Greg Lindberg, who goes to trial this week on a federal bribery charge. Among other things, Rives' former partners have accused him of pilfering hundreds of thousands of dollars from the firm and using it on trips to the Bahamas, Amsterdam and Disney World, plus private plane rentals, alimony payments and a $10,000 night at a Raleigh strip club. Those accusations, and others, appear in a lawsuit filed earlier this month by Jay Sharpe and Aaron Patel, former small percentage partners at Rives & Associates.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


TURMOIL AT ECU IS PROFILE OF UNC SYSTEM'S DYSFUNCTION: East Carolina University has 28,650 undergraduate and graduate students – 540 in the schools of medicine and dentistry. There are 2,075 full and part-time faculty – not to mention hundreds of administrators and staff. It should be recognized as a world-class institution of higher education – and certainly has nearly all the ingredients. Instead it has emerged as the portrait of disfunction in higher education – from the mismanagement of the UNC Board of Governors who oversee the system to the local ECU Board of Trustees and the dizzying revolving door in the chancellor’s office – three occupants in the last eight months. The UNC board is micromanaging the actions of its president and chancellors. The current legal mess over the disposition of Silent Sam is the latest example. They transform manageable problems into a chaotic crisis.

Saturday News: Driving While Black

SAMPSON COUNTY DEPUTY PULLS OVER BLACK MAN FOR GOING UNDER SPEED LIMIT: Perry was pulled over, the deputy in the video tells him, because he was driving 65 mph in a 70-mph zone. "You're driving 65, and you know the speed limit is 70. I'm just wondering what's wrong. I mean, are you OK?" the deputy, who is white, asked Perry. "I'm just checking on you. That's all I'm doing," he said. As the deputy continued to question him – about his home address, the length of the car rental and his destination – Perry asked, "I'm trying to understand the relation to the traffic stop. ... I have to identify where I'm traveling to and from during the trip out here? ... I don't understand." The deputy stepped away and returned with a written warning for Perry, for traveling under the speed limit. "Wouldn't you say it is kind of suspicious to travel under the speed limit and when the speed limit is 70?" the deputy asked before he dismissed Perry, telling him, "I've got stuff to do."

Friday News: Inexcusable


ETHICS COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST MARK JOHNSON OVER MASS TEXTS: Multiple ethics complaints filed on Thursday accuse State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson of misusing his position by accessing a state database to send what they say was a politically motivated mass text message to parents and teachers. Johnson sent 540,000 text messages and 800,000 email messages Tuesday to parents and educators telling them he opposes Common Core and asking them to take an online survey about the education standards. Opposition to Common Core is a major part of Johnson’s campaign to become North Carolina’s next lieutenant governor. The complaints say the messages were designed for Johnson’s personal gain as opposed to being for official purposes as superintendent. The complaints say the messages were meant to coincide with this week’s start of early voting before the March 3 primary.

Thursday News: No standing


JUDGE BADDOUR VACATES $2.5 MILLION SILENT SAM SETTLEMENT: A judge on Wednesday threw out a $2.5 million deal to give the controversial "Silent Sam" monument to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, saying the group had no legal right to negotiate the deal with the University of North Carolina system. It's unclear what happens now with Silent Sam, which stood on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus for more than a century before protesters pulled it down in August 2018. The statue had been in storage from the time of the protest until the UNC Board of Governors reached a deal with the SCV on the day before Thanksgiving. Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour gave the Board of Governors until next Monday to figure out what they want to do with the statue. If they don't respond, he said he might hold another hearing on that issue.


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